Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30, 2009

We went up to the new development, signed the paper work and put down the earnest money for the property this afternoon. After we were done, we went over and walked around the pond across the street. Every few steps we walked, a frog would jump into the pond. They were everywhere and the boys loved it. Two houses down from our lot, we saw a lady outside watching her little boy ride his bike on the driveway so we went over to introduce ourselves and say hi. We visited with her for a few minutes. She was very nice and friendly and her little boy is right around the same age as our sons. It is going to be so nice to be in a neighborhood where there are other little kids the same age as ours. I think the boys are really going to love this place.

We had a little boy funny as we arrived at the development to sign the paper work this afternoon. Nick had fallen asleep in the car on our way up to the property. He was awake when we stopped. I was unfastening his seat belt and he said, "Mommy, feel my foot!" I was a bit confused at first, as I felt his foot, and then he said, "It feels fuzzy!" That's when I understood that it had fallen asleep. (Isn't fuzzy a great way to describe this?) This must have been the first time that this had happened to him because he was so surprised and thought it was so funny. It was cute to watch his reaction, telling me to feel his foot as if I could feel it too. I helped him out of the van and let go of his hand as he started to walk away from me and he promptly fell down. He was not hurt but just continued to express surprise, as I helped him up and started to carry him but then he said he thought it was OK again. I put him down and he limped for the first couple of steps and then he was OK.

Another thing that happened was not so funny. The boys were having fun running around in this little building where we were signing our papers. There were only two people working there and us so they didn't mind and they thought the boys were cute. One guy was helping us and the other guy was sitting in the conference room on the other side of this little building. The boys would go into the conference room and sit and spin in the chairs and talk with the guy in there. But then they started running around and I had told them to settle down but we were still in the middle of our discussions so I was only half engaged with them. Then I heard Ben scream that hurt kind of scream that all mom's know. He had run into a door knob with his head and he immediately got a huge goose egg sticking out of his head. It was really scary and I was glad Dr. dad was there with us. This kid has hit his head hard a million times but has never had anything as bad as this. I would have been worried if I had been home alone with the boys when this happened. It didn't take him long though before he was right back at it, although he did make sure to remind me to be careful when I put his pajama shirt over his head tonight. The bump was still quite big and he didn't want anyone to touch it. I can understand why. I'm sure that was painful.

We have been getting a good bit of rain lately and have been enjoying cooler, cloudy weather. It has been such a relief. Time for bed. Good night.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28, 2009

Well, it looks as if we have the property.So, we are planning to go back up there on Thursday afternoon to sign the papers and put down the earnest money. They accepted our offer and did not counter, which was nice.
I have been looking at house plans.....hundreds and hundreds of them. They all start to look the same after a while, mostly because they are a lot alike:). We have a very good idea of what we are looking for and would like to find a plan that is very very close and maybe just needs a couple of small tweaks so that we don't have to pay a lot of money for an architect.  Now we have to start thinking about getting our house ready to sell.

Not much news other than that. The boys and I had a good day today. Today they both learned the days of the week. I have been talking to them each day about what day it is and what day was yesterday and what day is tomorrow and they were already starting to get it. After their nap today they watched a video that had a song about the days of the weeks and I think it kind of hit home.

I still enjoy watching them learn so much. We were reading the book Petunia tonight before bed. If you are not familiar with that book, it is about a goose who finds a book and thinks that she becomes wise simply by carrying it around. She gives lots of bad advice and causes many problems around the barnyard before she finally realizes that she has to learn to read in order for the book to help her become wise. When I finished reading the book to the boys, Nick said "and you are teaching us to read mommy". Yep, and I am but it we are taking the very slow route:).

I had found this old phonics book at the used book store a long time ago. I was going through my books the other day and ran across it so I put it out with their books because I thought they might enjoy it. It has lots of good pics and rhymes. Nick found it and it is now his favorite book of the moment so we read it a lot today. It introduces them to long vowel sounds, which we had not covered yet. I'm not sure how much it will actually help them though. I don't think it is a very good teaching book but I'm sure it won't hurt and it will likely reinforce what we are covering.

We are getting ready to get a good thunderstorm. I like thunderstorms, especially when there is no threat of tornadoes. Good night.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27, 2009

The developer sent us an email today with the price for the lot and we sent them a counter offer. Hopefully we will hear something tomorrow.

So, if we end up purchasing this lot, things are going to get very, very busy around here. First, we are planning to sell our house as soon as possible, although we will have some work to do to get it ready....mostly deep cleaning stuff, like washing baseboards:). We will also have to find a place to rent, hopefully near where we will be building, and we will need to get a bunch of stuff out of our house to make it ready to sell. Lots to do here.

If all of this comes to fruition, I'm not sure how much formal home schooling we will get done this year. We'll have to play that one by ear. Fortunately the boys are both well ahead of where they should be so I am not too concerned about it. Our number one priority will be learning to read and I'm sure we will still fit in lots of read aloud time. Everything else will be gravy and they will learn a lot from watching the house go up:).

Gotta go. More research to do.

July 27, 2009

We are looking around for lots to build a more energy efficient house and have more play space.  While I was driving around today, I noticed a new area that looked like it might be an upcoming new subdivision. My curiosity got the best of me so I went in and drove around, which raised my curiosity even more as they were building a very large building which did not seem to fit in with a subdivision. So I went to the information building to find out what was going on.
After speaking with the people in the information area, I went out on a tour. As it turns out, they are developing 3,000 acres and they are basically making an entire upscale community within the town. The large building is a new school that will be opening up this fall. They have plans for 4 or 5 subdivisions, a very large park and an outdoor type shopping center (as opposed to a mall-type) with cobble stones and all that. The park and shopping center will be built along the 100 square mile lake that is recently built and almost full of water. They will have upscale eating places along the boardwalk of the lake. They will have a rock maze near the park and a lookout area that you can climb to and can see the downtown of the nearby city. The views around this place are awesome and there are tons and tons of trees. It is a very pretty area.

They are building bike and walking trails all across the entire 3,000 acres, including some where you will have the beautiful views and one completely around the lake (not sure how it will go through the shopping area though). They are building an amphitheater near the lake and park and they plan to have lots of fun family activities in the park, lake, amphitheater area.

They are also building a new main road that goes from this new community to another nearby major road which connects to the nearby highway. This will allow people in the community to get to the nearby city very quickly, without having to go through the local town/traffic. It would cut down on the drive time for the husband to get to work. I also found that there is a back way in to the area that my family could take when they come to visit, so it would actually be much faster/closer for them than where we live now. Both of these are big bonuses because I was concerned about drive time for the husband and also for my family.

I left very impressed with the place and thinking it might be just the place for us to relocate. I came home and told the husband all about it and show him the materials. We ended up going back up there that evening and we all took the tour again. The husband was equally impressed. The boys just wanted to go home:). The husband and I both agreed on the lot that we liked the best. The lots in the two subdivisions we were looking at are all one acre lots.

So, that's where we are now. We are thinking of buying this lot that we both liked, if everything works out all right....and we are praying a lot.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009

The dear husband and I just returned from our weekend away without the boys. We had a very relaxing and uneventful weekend, which is to say that all went well and the boys did great. My sister, mom and nephew came to take care of the boys and they had a great time while we were gone.

We left on Friday afternoon and returned this morning around 10:00ish. It was a perfect amount of time to be away for a first time without the boys. I was ready to get back to them but felt I had had a nice break and a good time reconnecting with my husband. We went out to eat a few times and saw a movie and held hands and had long visits without being interrupted. It was all very nice and we both came back feeling well rested.

We went to Arkansas. We stayed in Springdale which was not as pretty as I expected. We took a drive on Saturday afternoon and drove over to Fayetteville, which was really pretty. The University of Arkansas is there and it has a very pretty campus and the old timey town square was lovely. We just missed their Saturday farmers market. They were putting everything away when we arrived but we got out and walked around anyway. Overall, Arkansas is a very pretty state. Lots of big hills / small mountains and tons of trees and winding roads. It is nice that we can get there by car so quickly and we will look forward to exploring more of this beautiful state. We also need to get out in Oklahoma and explore a bit more. We have very pretty parts of our state also and we have not done much in the way of seeing it. But we have plenty of time, Lord willing.

Other things going on around here. I am considering what I want to do this year with the boys for "preschool". I know it will still be mostly informal, since they are still just three years old and boys need a lot of time to run and jump and play, so they will have lots of time for that. I will likely try to start having a short (15 to 20 minutes) dedicated time with each child to focus on solidifying what we have been learning about phonics and pre-reading, maybe three times a week. I also want to set aside regular time for character development, regular devotions and Bible scripture memory each day. We will likely try to also do some preschool math but we will do it in a fun, playing kind of way. Everything else will just be coloring, pasting, cutting and all of the fine motor skill activities that will prepare the boys for writing. They like to try to write letters now and I will work with them when they are interested but I will not push this type of work until they have stronger fine motor skills.

I forgot to mention that Ben found a pen (one that Zoe-cat left on the floor after playing with it) and wrote on our leather ottoman. He had already written on it once before with a red ink pen, just a bit of scribble. This time it was a black pen. I had explained to him the first time that we don't do this (I went into more detail) and that he would be punished if he did it again. He knows where to find paper, if he wants it. He deliberately disobeyed and I did punish him for it. Afterward I was trying to clean it off with some leather cleaner (didn't work) and comet (didn't work). He was standing there watching me and told me, very proudly, that he had written an 'A' and a 'B' and, I must admit, he did a pretty good job of it. I never got it off. If anyone has any suggestions for how to get ink off of leather, please let me know.

Here are some pictures from K.C.:

We went to this great public park. We call it The Farm, although it has a formal name "somebody's name Farm Stead" but I can never remember who it is named after. It is a beautiful place. We had taken the kids there a couple of years ago but they were too little to remember it. They had a great time.
The boys were climbing on the rocks. This is right at the entrance. As we were walking away, I noticed the small signs next to the pond that say "no climbing on rocks". Woops.

This is also one of the views as you walk in. The flower gardens are just beautiful. I wish I had this kind of green thumb. This picture does not do it justice. It was actually much more beautiful in person.
Feeding the goats. The boys really enjoyed this and this place is great because they have nice hand washing areas in all of the right places.
"No more!"
This guy was sleeping in the trough the whole time we were feeding the others.
A hay ride. The boys weren't quite so sure about this because I was not going on the ride with them and dad was not on yet because he was taking pictures. My friend's mom is in a red shirt and is sitting just behind and to the right of Ben. My friend's two daughters are both in pink, the dark haired one is to the right to Ben, sitting next to her grandmother. The other one is sitting just behind Ben, kind of between Nick and Ben.
These are the huge horses that pull the hay ride. They have bells on them and they sound like sleigh bells when the horses trot. They walk around this wooded area and then they let them trot on the way back. It sounded very Christmasy as the horses were trotting back. The kids really enjoyed it.
Nick, looking out of the window of the kid-size log cabin. It is right next to a play ground.
Ben and my friend's youngest daughter inside of the little log cabin. It was extremely hot on this day and poor little Ben was sweating profusely. He kept going up to the dad, grabbing the dad's shorts in both of his hands and using them to wipe the sweat off of his face. He would put his face right into the dad's shorts and turn his head back and forth, back and forth. It was very cute but I felt bad for him that he was that hot. I tried to cool him down with some ice but he was not very into it.
Ben's first try at fishing. He accidentally got hooked in the arm once but fortunately it was pretty minor. The hook just barely went into his skin and didn't get in far enough to get past that thorny part that makes it hard to pull it out. It came out easily and just left a tiny hole.
And Nick's fishing debut. We told him he was suppose to hold the pole up but he like doing it this way better...and we had to keep an eye on him or he would try to catch the ducks. I don't know who this guy with the baby is behind Nick but he was really in jeapordy of being hooked. Sitting this close to a three year old with a sharp fish hook on the end of a pole is not the best idea. Luckily nothing bad happened.
Giddy-up horse!

Both boys loved the horse ride. They were led around a track by a volunteer of the park. Many of the workers are volunteers and look as if they are high school or college students.
All four of the kids had such a wonderful time together and got along so well. It was fun to watch them all together. They were all born in Volgograd, Russia and three of the four are from the same baby home (the three youngest ones). My friend and her mom were in Volgograd to bring her youngest daughter home when we were there to meet Ben and Nick. We all hung out together and played with our kids for 7 or 8 days and then we all flew from Volgograd to Moscow together, where we separated because they had to stay in Moscow to do paper work stuff for their daughter / granddaughter and we were headed on back home to finish our paper work and wait for our court date.

Here is a picture I took of the boys after we got home. Ben sat on Nick's lap and they thought that was very funny. I took advantage of the opportunity and snapped a photo. Aren't they growing up so fast? They both need a hair cut badly. We were going to do it tonight but the dad ended up taking them over to that neat park over by the river and they didn't get back in time. Just enough time for a bagel and a little playing and then time for bed. We are thoroughly enjoying the bagels we brought home from K.C. We still have three left so tomorrow will probably be the last day. The boys really like them too, although it took a Ben a bit to decide he really likes them.Time for bed. Good night!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12, 2009

We just returned from a lovely weekend in Kansas City, visiting our friends there. We all had a great time and I will post more about it later, including pictures.

We just rolled in and I am sitting with the boys while they fall asleep. As I was giving N his goodnight hugs and kisses, he said that when he is big like daddy, I won't be able to pick him up anymore. I told him I would be sad when I couldn't pick him up anymore because he is such a sweetie pie (or something like that). He said that he would love on me and then he said that when he gets big, he is going to marry which Ben promptly replied that he would marry daddy:). Nick went on to say that I am his best friend and that is why he is going to marry me when he gets big and that he is going to hug me after he marries me. Every time Nick finished a sentence, Ben would repeat the same sentence about daddy. Such a sweet age.

We had a fantastic trip and the boys did great, although this was our first longish trip with the boys since they have been potty trained so it was also the longest trip to K.C. and back, since we had to make lots of stops.

They have been quiet now for all of about 5 minutes and I think Ben is already asleep. I knew it wouldn't take long. They should sleep in tomorrow and take a good nap also because they have played so hard and had longer and napless days while we were gone.

I am ready for bed too. More later. Good night.

Monday, July 06, 2009

July 6, 2009

The other day the boys said they wanted to "do school". We had just finished breakfast. We sat at the table together and they did a little of everything, including coloring, playing around with writing letters, doing mazes, doing a whole science section of one of our work books (circle all things on the page that are living) and another whole section from the same book but can't remember what it was about now. They sat at the table for at least two hours and it may have been two and a half hours before they were done. I even asked at one point if they were tired of this and wanted to do something else. Answer, "no". Nick was particularly interested in coloring, which really shocked me as both of them have only had short-term interest in coloring to date. Ben has been particularly interested in learning to write letters, most specifically those in his name.

Last week we made a 4th of July cake to celebrate our country's birthday. It turned out very pretty but we won't be using these sprinkles on cakes anymore because they really did not taste very good. We ended up throwing out at least half of the cake, much to Ben's dismay.
These pics are from this really neat park that the dad found. It was a great water play area for little ones too but it was being serviced and was not working on this day. That stone wall in the background where the ladies are sitting is actually part of the water play area. It has little fountains all along the top of it and, when it is on, the water runs all over it and down the sides to the ground. I wish I had taken more pics of the whole park because, although it is small, it is very unique. Next time I will have to take more pics.

This is a modern day merry-go-round. The kids love it. The boys were not on it when I took the picture though.
The boys had been climbing on these so I asked them to sit in them so I could take a picture.

This is the hat that the dad wore when we went canoeing. He looked like Indiana Jones. At one point when we were getting ready, he had the brim of the hat turned upwards where it kind of just stuck out straight all the way around. I told him it was the difference between Indiana Jones (brim as seen in pic below) VS Barney Fife (brim sticking straight out). He thought that was pretty funny. He kept the brim down after that:).
One might think B would be a happy little canoe-er, based on this picture. One would be wrong:).

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 3, 2009

Today we decided to take the boys on their first canoe trip. The dad showed them pictures of people canoeing and they were very excited about the idea. We made the hour-plus drive to the river. We parked and put on our sunscreen and they still seemed very excited, although a bit more subdued because of all of the people around us. We picked out our life jackets and oars and got on the bus that would take us to our drop point.

They both loved the bus ride, although I felt it was a bit unsafe, as the driver left the bus doors open and then proceeded to careen around corners on dirt roads. We were sitting in the front two seats and so it felt very unsafe. The other unsafe issue that really concerned me was that they did not offer any smaller life jackets for kids. It was one size fits all. These were the bright orange U-shaped jackets that fit over your head, lay on your chest and there is a strap that wraps around your chest/back or, in the kid's case, their waist/back. There was no strap that went between their legs, like most kid's jackets have. They should really advertise that you should bring your own if you have kids.

We got off the bus, walked the short distance to the river, put life jackets on the kids and loaded them into the canoe. This is pretty much when their excitement came to an end. They were not very into after that. We did not go far before stopping to let them play in the water. They especially liked throwing rocks into the water. That was their favorite thing. So, after playing for a little while, we put a bunch of rocks into the canoe and started off again. They were sharing a seat in the middle of the canoe and they both enjoyed throwing the rocks out. But, unfortunately, that didn't last long.

We hit a couple of shallow spots where the bottom of the canoe rubbed against the rocks in the river bed, making a loud noise (and of course it also did this every time we loaded them up to push off again, after having stopped to play). Neither of the boys liked this and Ben was especially scared by the loud noise. Just after we took off again, after stopping to play, both boys started crying and that lasted for 5 or 10 minutes. After that, Nick stopped crying but Ben kept crying by himself. They wanted us to turn around and go back and, Ben especially, kept saying this over and over, through his loud crying. We tried, over and over, to explain in many different, simple ways that we could not go back and had to keep going if we wanted to eventually get home. Nick seemed to get this and even got annoyed with Ben's continued crying after a while but Ben continued to call for a turn around pretty much the whole way.

The canoe outfitters offer a 6 mile trip and a 12 mile trip. We opted for the 6 mile trip. Ben pretty much cried for at least 5 of the 6 miles. We ended up making another stop so they could once again get out and play, although I was concerned that we would not be able to get them back into the canoe. They again really enjoyed playing in the water and throwing rocks. Nick even enjoyed sitting down in the water and letting the current push him a little. When it was time to take off again, Ben started crying before he got back into the canoe and continued to cry, off and on (mostly on) the rest of the way. At one point, he started asking me (over and over again) if we were almost there. After his having asked this twice and having a bad reaction when I said not yet, I realized I just needed to answer yes, we are almost there, every time he asked. It made him feel much better. I think he just needed to have some hope. As it turned out, we were closer to the pick up point than we thought so we really were almost there. As soon as the boys were out of the canoe and walking towards the little bus, I heard Ben saying something about riding the bus and he was once again in a very happy mood and clearly excited about getting to ride the bus again.

We changed clothes and found a place to eat (Pizza Hut - wow, I can't remember the last time I ate at a Pizza Hut) that also had a room with a few video games, including two that were like driving a car. They both had the best time playing on these and pretending they were driving to Home Depot and to the grocery store. They would run over to us and ask what we wanted from Home Depot or from the grocery store and then they would run back and pretend to drive there. It was great because they were very hungry and this kept them busy until our pizza was ready.

After we arrived home, both boys spent a good amount of time pretending they were in a canoe and swimming and all that and then they did more of this when they took their bath.

They really had a great time before and after. It was the canoeing part they didn't really enjoy so much. They both let us know they do not want to do that again. I'm sure when they are old enough to paddle the canoe, they will love it. At this age, they would have been very happy to just hang out at the river, play in the water and throw rocks. Next time we'll just have to take some lawn chairs, find some shade near the water and sit and watch them play.