Sunday, March 23, 2008

Can you figure out which one of these was done by a woman with water color courses under her belt and which one was done by a lady who has never seen an inside of an art class since she was about 10 years of age!!!
Two of these are Courtney's handy work, the other painted by the above mentioned friend with water color experience!!!
Aiden's airplane, glued together by his own two hands and colored by those same two hands.
Feeding Sting Rays and Crafting in Tennessee

The kids have no after school activities for two weeks. I decided to make the most of this window of opportunity and take a 6 hour drive down to my friend in Nashville for two nights and three days . I got to meet her new baby girl adopted from Liberia who is oh so adorable!!! ( I did not get a decent picture of her while I visited because I was too busy cuddling her, but believe me she is so gosh darn cute!!!).
Aiden was very excited about the trip, my friend's son Caleb is one of his best friends.
We saw a few sights in Nashville including the inside of a huge mall, that contained "Sting Ray Reef" which was the highlight of the trip for Thomas. He is still talking about feeding the sting rays. Those things can really jump, it freaked me out at first, I had no idea they would come up and over the side of the tank to get the food.
It was rainy one of the days we visited so I made a morning dash to Target and Jo-Ann's for dollar bin crafts. Susan and I had a blast painting while her two little ones were sleeping. I am hoping I learned a thing or two about painting off of her. The boys enjoyed assembling their airplanes and were fairly patient about letting them dry.
The kids and I enjoyed the trip so much, they want to know when we can travel back and visit again. Although during the next window of time between soccer seasons and gymnastics sessions I think I need to make a trip to see a certain someone in Kentucky (yes Lyn that would be you).

HAPPY Birthday to ME!!!!!
She truly had no idea that she had ice-cream mustache but I could not help but capture the moment to share with you all!!!
Yep I spent my Birthday at Chucky Cheeses. Well my evening anyway. Actually I had a pretty amazing birthday. It started off kind of rough, my mom use to call me every birthday morning without fail and sing happy birthday and tell me every little detail about the day I was born and how special I was to her. I missed that telephone call horribly. But, knowing how much mom loved making our birthday's special, I knew she would want me to get out and have fun, and so I did. I dried my tears and went shopping for the day in Indy with two friends and we had a great child free shopping day.
We got home late in the afternoon and I grabbed the kids and the hubby and out we went to Fort Wayne. Now it is a rule in our family that the Birthday boy or girl gets to choose where we eat on their birthdays. I decided to be a fun Mommy and choose Chucky Cheeses (hey I had a great coupon, I was dieing to use). Truthfully I love Chucky Cheese, just about as much as the kids, I love counting my tickets and trying for more. Plus Jack and I get lots of one on one time while the kids are busy playing.

We then went and picked up what I had decided to spend my birthday money on. A new mommy style bike, complete with wide handle bars, a big comfy seat with shock absorbers, and fenders (no mud up the back for this gal). The kids all ride bikes now, and I really wanted to take them out more this summer but I cannot keep up to them on foot anymore. Oh did I mention the color. Yeah its PINK!!!! I was leaning toward the more sultle grey and blue one when my husband said "Victoria you have been eyeing the pink one for months just get it will ya!!!" and with that he had the bike off the rack and was ringing the sales man to bring it to the front. Yep, I am over thirty with a pink bike!!!! I am going to get that wicker basket for the front too!!! as soon as I can find out who sells them. Courtney loves it, she says its the "prettiest bike she has ever seen and we will look good biking together".

We finished the evening with ice-cream at Cold Stone Creamery. If you have never been to one it is great. Its hard ice-cream that they put on a marble slab and you get to mix in whatever you want in it. The kids always get gummy bears in cotton candy. But from the picture you can see Courtney went chocolate this time. If you take a minute to visit their website you can sign up for the birthday club and you will get a coupon for a free ice-cream for your birthday (is anyone else noticing my coupon trend).

The best gift of the day though, coming just behind the new laptop Jack gave me (which unfortunately I have not been able to use due to us both being too computer illiterate to figure out how to get it through our wireless network security , but that is another story) The best gift of the day was the comment Courtney made as we were leaving the ice cream store. With ice-cream still on her upper lip she said "MOMMY YOU THROW THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTIES EVER, I LOVE YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!" and the boys all agreed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Homeschooling Recommendations

I am often frustrated by my homeschooling purchases. I hate it when I order something I think will work great for the kids, only to discover we all hate it and of course you cannot return the item when you have done a few lessons in the book already (it takes about a week of lessons for us to be sure we hate something). I find that a lot of material out there, either skips around too much, or is not accurate when it comes to the grade level of the material (either being to advance or to remedial).

So I have decided that when I find something I love, I am going to pass it on. Of course every family is individual and you may not home school like my family home schools, so to understand if you would like my recommendations here is a bio on our home school life.

We are work book lovers for the three "R's (although why do we call them the three R's when really only one subject starts with R" ). For everything else we prefer a more hands on approach. Of ten we will watch videos on a topic and then read a bit about it and then go see it for ourselves by going to a museum or a local home school workshop. For history we prefer biographies to text books. We love books on CD while we travel in the car, and we have just about every computer program out there that is education and fun.

So with that in mind my first recommendation is the KIMUN workbook series. They are great for preschool to about grade 2, and cover a variety of topics from scissor skills to telling time to counting money. I love them because they take baby steps and go over and over a topic making sure it it thoroughly understood before moving on. At $7 a piece, they are economical too. You can get them at Barnes and Nobles, either at the store or on line.

I give them a four stars out of five. The only thing I don't like is that their binding is very hard, making it hard to lie the book flat when you get into the middle. Besides that minor complaint I love them, and have Courtney doing three of them and Aiden doing another three.

The wonderful world of House Renovation!!!
We are still working on the house.We had a week off for holidays and then another when the kids and I were playing "hot potato" with the flu bug and Daddy was getting use to his new position as Nurse supervisor at hospice. But now we are back on track. We are gaining great speed as we have one man working on our stairs, a crew muding and taping the upstairs and another crew of father and son came in and poured our new concrete floor in the basement this week.
By the end of the week I will once again have several rooms to prime and paint. The basement is now waiting on me. And the trim is coming this week, and it will need painting too!!!
First though I have to help Jack insulate the attic floor. It is the last floor that needs some major attention. We plan to use it strictly for storage purposes, so we are just going to insulate the floor, put down some sub floor, and then cover the eves, so that I don't get cobwebs in my hair, or have to worry about meeting up with a hanging bat while trying to reach the camping supplies. Then we plan put up a few lights and an attic fan and call it done!!!

Here are a few pictures of the place for you!!!!

Picture below: This is in Courtney's room and will eventually be her bed area. It originally was this weird almost inaccessible storage area located above the stairs, but when we were tearing the house apart, Jack called out one day, "Honey I think I know how we could better use this" and then told me it could be like a loft bed for Courtney, I loved the idea and Courtney well she is thrilled, so we went for it. She loves climbing up in it anticipating the day she will actually sleep in it. I am going to line it with bead board, so it will hold up to our rough and tumble girl and then I am thinking about getting a decal made that says something like "sleep tight little princess" or something cute like that. We are also going to add a reading light on one end, I want a shaped one. Of course the whole room is going "lavender" and "pale pink" with lime green accents and white trim (yes I did borrow this color scheme out of the pottery barn for kids catalogue, but hey I promise to buy an accessory for the room from them to make up for it!!!). We are going %100 percent girl all the way on this one.

The rectangle shaped hole is our linen closest, which excites me cause I have never had one before (yes I know small things amuse small minds) The angled roofed opening is our last minute brain storm of how to use the space under the attic stairs. It is a computer nook, that will hold a bench with a lift up seat to hold the kids programs and built in desk for the computer screen and key board.

Below is a picture of the basement. Yes I know the walls are really gross looking but what you are looking at is the newly poured concrete floor.The old one was rotting and smelled really bad on hot humid days. This new one should fix that.I plan to repaint the walls with that white water seal paint and paint the dark ceiling joists white too, to brighten up the space and also let me
see spiders with greater ease (I hate those suckers so much I don't want to give them any
opportunity to crawl down into my hair while I am grabbing dinner out of the deep freeze)
Also I am hoping that the basement will be dry enough and bright enough for the old TV and PlayStation and a few moon chairs, so that the boys can kill alien creatures to their hearts content downstairs away from their mothers ears, after a while that "beep beep bop" gets on my nerves, and they don't like having the volume off so this seems like a good solution.

Courtney enjoys a Tea Party!!!
Yesterday (being March 8) Courtney got to go to her first all girls birthday party. She loved rubbing it in her brother's noses all day long "I'm going to a tea party and you can't come cause your a boy and no boys are allowed at a tea party!!!".
Now Jami-Joe you put me to shame. Your parties rock girl. You have got to help me with Courtney's this year. This mama, had a table set up in her living room with a real china tea cup for each girl and a pair of white gloves and a straw hat with flowers and ribbons attached. She had the table elegantly dressed with mini sandwiches, cookies, brownies and candies.
The girls all made a picture frame that will soon be filled with a picture of them and the birthday gal Katie (her mama also takes great pictures, including our family photo I posted months ago on the blog, I totally recommend her for photo's if you live in the area).
Courtney of course has been wearing her hat all morning and is totally in love with her elegant white gloves. And of course she is trying to make her brothers jealous, by telling them about all the treats and activities they missed out on , just because they are boys!!!
Thomas Turns 12!!!
Yeap my oldest child is now 12, one more year till we officially enter teenagehood. If you are wondering why there are so many hearts on the cake, Its because he is born on Valentines day, He is also a honeymoon baby so I call him my "love child", he of course blushes and gives me an "oh mom!!!!"
I must say though he is turning out to be a great kid. He is good to his siblings, and willing to help around the house (okay sometimes he complains, but honest a lot of times he just pitches in without being asked or asks how he can help).
He loves babies, I am expecting that he will give many grandchildren. When he was six he use to tell me "Mommy, when I grow up I am going to have enough kids to fill a school bus, and they will all sleep in hamocks that I will put in lines going down a big room" I asked him a while back if he still wanted that many kids, he said that he had downscaled to just 1/2 a dozen or so.
But seriously, he is good with babies. He loves going to MOPS with me just so he can help out in the nursery. He was upset one friday when he had to stay home from MOPS due to the flu. He is also trying to figure out how he can still help out next year even though his sister will be too old for the program. He figures I should just lie about her age, so we can all go one more year. One baby loves him so much that he had to hold her the entire program, because if Thomas wasn't holding her she would cry (Kristina that would be your daughter, and if you ever need a mama's helper, just give Thomas a call)
His other joys are dinosaurs, his computer game zoo tycoon 2, his playstation game TAZ, and of course TV. At least once a day you will here me say "Thomas time to unplug" which means time to play with something that does not run on electricity or batteries.
He had a great birthday. He celebrated with friends at his homeschool Co-op followed up by every twelve year old boys dream, lunch at the pizza hut buffet, where you can eat all you want (and believe me they don't make any profit off a twelve year old boys appetite, especially when you use your book-it-coupons)
The following day he had two friends over for a sleep over, and they went to Ryans (yeap another buffet place, oh and another coupon, this time I got two kids to eat free) and then played video games and watched movies till it was well past this mom's bedtime.
Oh to have a twelve year old, I love ya Thomas!!! You will always be this mama's "Love Child"
even if it does make you blush.

Our Family Vacation!!!

During the month of February we took 5 days off, and enjoyed a little well earned R&R with our kiddo's. We started off with a 2 night stay at Kalahari Resorts in Dayton Ohio, the second largest water park in North America. Sorry no pictures, cause I did not want to spend my time babysitting a camera pool side, I wanted to just enjoy!! And enjoy we did. I highly recommend the Kalahari experience to every family. It is the most economical indoor water park in our area, and it is the biggest. It is worth the three hour drive.

There is a wave park with 6 feet waves, numerous water slides. A cool lily pad race (which Aiden challenged me on twice and both time I lost!!!!). Many of the water slides are raft rides that you can experience with up to four people.

There is even a indoor water roller coaster, that I went on more times than I can count (and that was purely a mommy sacrifice thing for me, cause this girl does not enjoy roller coasters ,but Courtney was too small to go without a adult and she loves them, so I went on it over and over again with her till I felt like I was going to loose my morning bagel and creme cheese, then I told her perhaps we could do the lazy river for a while, and give moms tummy a digestive break).

Jack treated me to a afternoon at the spa, while we were there. I got my very first manicure and let me tell you I am hooked. I tried to do my own when I got home but it looked so bad I had to take it off before it even dried. Oh well my birthday is this week so perhaps I will treat myself to another one with my birthday stash.

I also had a hot rock massage. Very relaxing.

Jack and I took turns watching the children at the water park while the other one enjoyed a get away to the local shops (or spa). We then spent the evening hours together as a family of five unit. The kids had so much fun that they were worn out by the third day and actually choose to leave the park early to get to our next destination

Which was Cincinnati, There we spent the last two nights and two days of our trip.

The first day we enjoyed a full day at the Creation Museum. We got there at 10 and stayed till 4. The boys loved the dinosaurs and the various short films that you could sit in on were great, one even had you sitting in seats that moved and vibrated along with the action of the show and then it squirted water out into the crowd during the part about Noah's Ark.

The final day we spent at the aquarium. It was very neat, and in a nice area of the city. Jack and I were so impressed by Cincinnati that we are actually thinking of returning there for a two night get away just the two of us, in honor of our next wedding anniversary.