Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10, 2012

I thought I would post some pictures of our history timeline for others to see.  I put this on the wall in our hallway with painter's tape and a level. I modeled it after another I had seen somewhere that is available for purchase and I used their dimensions and time increments.

In retrospect, I should have made it longer and wider and I wish I had broken the time increments down further for our ancients study.  I used timeline figures from Home School in the Woods so maybe their figures are larger than the ones for the kit after which I modeled my timeline.  Anyway, here it is:


Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Today is a normal old Monday for us and this is what we have done so far:

History:  We have been studying ancient history during our 1st grade year (yes, me too!:).  At the end of last week, we had just read about the death of Julius Caesar.  Today we were reading about his adopted son (his nephew) Octavian Caesar, renamed to Augustus Caesar.  The curriculum we are using (Story of the World - SOTW) comes with a coloring page and the boys always enjoy coloring their page while I read the chapter.  After we read, they each take turns narrating what we read and I write it down for them.  (In 2nd grade they will start writing part of it themselves.)  After I write their narration, they usually read it back.  Then they do some map work.  SOTW comes with the maps and has instructions of what they are to do.  I read the instructions, such as: Use yellow to shade in the area that was Rome when Augustus Caesar ruled.  What sea was within the Roman empire during this time?  Use blue to shade in the sea.  Circle the country where Cleopatra ruled., etc.  After they did their map work, we were finished with history for the day.  If the chapter is a longer one or of greater importance, or if we just want to dive deeper into that subject because it was very interesting, we will read library books on the topic(s) on Wednesday and will do additional narrations.  Otherwise, we move on to the next chapter.  There are 42 chapters in our book that we will complete in 36 weeks of school.

Writing:  Next we did writing (Writing With Ease).  This changes from day to day.  The boys really enjoy history and science so they normally choose to do those first (history on Mon/Wed and science on Tues/Thurs).  What comes next changes from day to day, depending on our mood.  Today for writing the boys did some copy work.  They copied the first stanza from the poem, "The Sandpiper".  They were learning that the first letter in each line of a poem is capitalized and they were also learning about the punctuation in the piece.  Tomorrow I will read the entire poem to them.  They will then answer comprehension questions, narrate and copy their narration.  They are doing all of their writing and copy work in cursive these days.

Read-to-self:  The boys each pick a library book to read.  Sometimes this is Assigned Reading and they will read something related to our history study.  Today they picked something for fun reading from the library books that I have picked out for them.  We read for 40 minutes.

Bible Study:  Next we did our Bible study, using Bible Study Guide for All Ages, which the boys really like.  We review what we have been studying, then we cover new material.  Today was about important people in the genealogy of Jesus.  We have also been studying about King Nebuchadnezzar and his dream and about Daniel.  Then we do some timeline and map work about what we are studying.

Spelling:  After Bible study, we did some spelling work today, using All About Spelling.  We are working on when to use 'k' and when to use 'ck' at the end of a word.  I reminded them of the rule we are working on and then I dictated 6 or 7 spelling words and 6 phrases with two words in each phrase.  They write them on small white boards.  The first time a word is missed, I mark it in my book with N, B or both.  I dictate those words again in the next lesson.  If the same person  misses the same word a second time, I have them write the word correctly 5 times, or something like that and I give them the same word again in the next lesson.  They have never missed a word again after this.  In our lesson tomorrow, we will cover any missed words they are working on and then I will dictate 6 more phrases.  Once they spell all of the phrases correctly, we are ready to move on to the next chapter.

Now it is after spelling and we are taking our break and getting ready to eat lunch.  After lunch, we still have to do math (we are doing two lessons a day for now from Christian Light Education math), read aloud (we are reading The Secret Garden) and English (First Language Lessons).  And we also have to go to Nick's piano lesson, return books to the library and get more, return a dvd to the rental store and I really need to take Dancer to the vet because something is wrong with the skin on his chin.

Then we will come back home, Ben will practice his violin and the boys will probably want to play their on-line games (15 minutes each).  We will eat dinner and they will also probably want to watch a movie (30 minutes).

It is beautiful here today.  The boys have been playing outside a lot these days and are doing so today during our break.  I must go fix lunch and get back to work:).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

October 2, 2012

I ran across this picture of mom recently and thought it was good of her.  This is definitely how I picture her in my mind, although she was thinner and a bit older when she passed away.

And here are some recent pics of the boys:

Actually, these are fairly old.  I really must upload pics from the camera.  It has been a long time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012

I have started to update this blog several times and ended up not knowing what to say.  It is hard for me to believe that my mom has been gone for over a month already.  It still does not seem real to me most of the time.  At times I still have to remind myself that she is gone.  The hardest times for me is in the afternoon/evenings and on weekends because that is when I normally talked to her the most.  It is especially hard on weekends when the husband is working and my sister is also working.  I am so very blessed to have such a wonderful sister for a best friend though.  She and I have always been close and we talk more often now than we ever have and that helps us both a lot. My best friend Gail has also been a gift from God during this time.  I would have been lost without her too.

It definitely helps to stay busy and the boys and I are definitely busy with school these days.  Our homeschool co-op has also started and we are all enjoying it a lot.  We go there on most Fridays and the boys take P.E., Spanish, and Art and then we all eat lunch together, which is very nice.  It is one of the things I like best about this co-op, as it gives us more time to spend with others.  After lunch the boys have one free period and then they have a drama class.  We are finished at 2:30 and we head home to relax for a while.  We have already met some very nice people at the co-op and the boys have made a new friend and had him over to play once already.  They love co-op and they count down the days of the week until we go again.

At home, we normally start our day around 9:00ish with either history or science, as those are definitely the favorites at our house.  Sometimes we can be finished by noon but most of the time we still have one or two things to finish up after lunch, so it more like 1:30 when we finish.  So far everything seems to be going very well, although I am still not quite satisfied with how we do science.  I have found another science curriculum that I would like to try and am hopeful that this one might be 'the one' that we will love and can stick with for a few years.

Nick is still taking his piano lessons and doing very well with it.  He decided he wanted to continue with swim lessons so he can learn all of the different strokes and join a swim team.  Ben decided he would like to take gymnastics again so he is doing that now, although he recently said he wanted to switch back to swimming so he can eventually be on a swim team.  Ben is also still taking violin lessons.  He has been taking lessons now for about a year and a half and he is really doing very well.  He is also going to continue to play with the local youth orchestra, which he really enjoys.  Nick is taking piano lessons and doing very well with it.  His teacher is perfect for him.

Last week the boys started Cub Scouts.  They went on an overnight camping trip with the Cub Scouts and the dad went with them.  They were able to catch a bunch of fish and try their hand at archery, BB gun shooting and roping a wooden cow-like structure.  This was the first time they had ever been camping and they really enjoyed it a lot.  The weather was cool but very humid but we are still under a burn ban so they were not able to have a campfire.  They had to take food with them that did not have to be cooked.  They left on Saturday morning and came back late this morning.  I think this is going to be one of the most favorite things they do and it will allow them to make some really good friendships.  Tuesday evening they get to go to the local National Guard and check out the F16s.  I think they will get to do a lot of fun things with this group.....and, when they go camping, I enjoy a bit of time to myself.  Yesterday I went shopping with my sister.  It was the first time we have been out shopping together, just the two of us, for many long years.  After that I went for a hair cut and highlights and then I went to a movie:).  I wanted to see two movies but the other one was not playing at the right time for it to work out. 

This past week the boys also started AWANAS at a local church.  Our church didn't offer it but we heard another church was offering it so we decided to take them.  It is a program that emphasizes scripture memory.  We had been doing a lot of that at home but I think they will have fun and make new friends by doing it with this group.  Their new friend from co-op goes to it also so they already knew one or two people there.

So they are staying very busy these days and so are we.  Actually, the dad took them over to the small lake to fish again this afternoon.  They enjoyed it so much they wanted to go again.

I am working on our plan for 2nd grade, since the boys should be finishing up 1st towards the end of this year.  We get very busy from the end of September on out, since we have birthdays at the end of September, October and November and then the holidays.  So I am trying to get a jump on school planning for January.  I think I am close to finalizing it.  We may be starting Latin in 2nd grade so that may be our biggest curriculum change coming up.  We will also start some formal literature studies.  Up to now we have just been doing lots of reading of wonderful literature but we had not been doing any analysis of it so we will start that in 2nd grade.

I am almost finished creating a history timeline on the wall in our long hallway.  It came out pretty good, although I wish I had made the time increments for ancients further apart.  Live and learn.  I will take a picture of it when I have caught it up to date with where we are in our history studies.  At this point, it is probably  more for me than it is for the boys, as they are still a little young to get it.  Studying the ancients has really helped me to understand the context of the Old Testament a lot better.  I really enjoy learning along with the boys.

I need to download some pictures of the boys.  It has been a while since I have done that and they sure have changed a lot.  It's hard to believe they will soon be seven years old.  They are really getting tall and Nick looks very different with his new glasses.  They wanted to go to McDonald's for breakfast one day this week (this one has video games and they like to play them).  I made a deal with them that we could go and they could play games for 20 minutes IF we ate first and finished our math and writing.  So we went and they did awesome. When we were heading home, they noted that we had the hard work already done and everything we had left to do was more fun work.  I told them I would really like to start doing that every day.  They made the right noises but I don't think they really bought into my idea.  Maybe by the time we start second grade....I can hope:).

They just came back from fishing so I had better sign off and get busy around here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

August 8, 2012

Yesterday evening we had the visitation and today was the funeral for my mom.  I was really delighted at how many people came to both.  I always knew that lots of people loved her and that she loved so many but it was really neat to see that in action.  She worked in the only grocery store in her town for over 30 years so she knew pretty much everyone back then.  She had been retired for about 10 years.

The funeral director asked for a picture of mom to use so we scanned in a picture that we had in a frame.  I wish now I had taken more time to look for better pictures because that one did not come out very well.  She would have hated it and she would not have been happy with us about how it looked.

Yesterday we arrived at the funeral home for the visitation a little early, as suggested by the funeral director, so we could have time to see how mom looked and be ready to greet those who came.  I was really glad he had suggested it because I was upset by how she looked.  Everyone said she looked nice and I know she did but she did not look like herself at all to me and I found that kind of upsetting.  She really just looked like someone else to me.  I just could not see the resemblance at all and I still find it upsetting.  I hope I can forget this and just remember her how she use to look.

Part of the issue was that we had to use one of her wigs from when she had cancer/chemo because they had shaved half of her hair off to do the surgery.   She always wore her hair curly/permed and her wig was not curly so it just made her look very different.  But a lot of it was also her face.  It just did not look right to me.  Her lips didn't look right and neither did her cheeks or anything else.  I'm still upset about it because I just wanted her to look like herself.

It still doesn't seem real to me.  The husband took the boys to run some errands a little bit ago.  My first reflex was to call my mom because I did that a lot when they left and it was quiet and I could talk for a while without being interrupted.  I miss her so much already.  How does a person get past something like this?  I feel that my life has been impacted so profoundly by this and I can't 'see' what my new life looks like.  I can't envision it without my mom in it.  I mean, she has always been in it, you know.  She always had a listening ear and was interested in everything in my life and I did the same with her.  She and my sister are my two very best friends.  And I really worry a lot about my sister and my brother (the twins).  My brother lived with my mom and her house is his house so it is going to be a huge impact on him, living there alone now.  And my sister always took mom to all of her dr. appointments and shopping and where ever she needed to go.  My sister and my nephew had just spent the day with mom, shopping in Joplin, MO, the day before she fell and my sister had told me some funny things that mom had done that day and the next day she fell and went into a coma.  It just happened so fast.

The pastor who led mom's funeral had asked the family to write down our thoughts and various things we might want him to share at her funeral.  It was kind of last minute and we were all scrambling to get everything done in time so I wrote something up and read it to my sister and she added a couple of things to it.  We told the pastor he could use it however he wanted to and he ended up reading it verbatim.  I thought some of you might want to read it also, as it tells a bit about my mom.  Here it is:


Our dear mother was raised in Vinita, OK and she had one sister.  There was a large age gap between her and her sister and, from the sounds of it, she may have been a little bit spoiled.  I guess that is why she loved to spoil others.  When she was young, she enjoyed riding the train from Vinita to Terrell Texas to visit her aunts.  They loved to spoil her too.  They wanted her parents to name her Jerri.  Her parents named her Mozella after her grandmother so her aunts just called her Jerri anyway.  So, all her life, she was known as Jerri when she went to Terrell.  The other day, I called an old friend in Terrell to let her know mom had passed away and I heard her tell her husband in the background that Jerri had passed away.

Mom never cared for the name Mozella very much, although she did like her middle name, Marie and sometimes she would go by that name.  Towards the end of her life, she would say she wished her name was Rosella.  She was so funny.  She would even write Rosella on various notes or when journaling sometimes.

She loved Jesus and she made sure we were brought up going to church.  We have found countless notebooks and pieces of paper where she wrote and rewrote scriptures that were most meaningful to her and also prayers.  She did a great job of ensuring her children were raised with good morals and values.  She had quite a busy job when we five kids were all little.  When the youngest was born, she also had 14 month old twins, a four year old and a six year old.  I’m sure we kept her pretty busy.

She enjoyed telling us about the time when the twins were little and she had just returned from grocery shopping.  She was putting away the groceries when the phone rang.  While she was on the phone, the twins were trying to help and they dropped a carton of eggs on the floor.  When she came back to the kitchen, one of them was on the floor with a sponge, wiping around and around, smearing the eggs all over the place. The other one was scooping up egg shells and taking them to the sink, dripping egg over the floor on the way. She had quite the mess to clean up that day.

She was a very hard worker and, for many years, she worked nine hour days, six days a week as a cashier at Don’s Grocery.  I know she was often tired but I don’t remember hearing her complain about the number of hours she had to work to support her family.  She taught us to be hard workers also and, when we were old enough, she expected us to keep the house cleaned up and the laundry done and, eventually, to also have a job after school and during the summers when we could.

Mom wanted us to go to college.  When she was younger, she finished high school but did not go to college and she always regretted it.  I could not count how many times she told us that her mother tried to tell her to go to college and she sure wished that she had listened.  She so badly wanted us to go.  When Kathy was in nursing school and met her future husband, she wanted to quit school.  One evening Mom got on her knees next to Kathy’s bed and begged her to stay in school because she had always wished she had gone to college and she thought it was so important.  For those of you who don’t know, Kathy is one of the best nurses anyone could ever have.

Mom loved people and was the most thoughtful and generous person I have ever known.  She loved giving cards and gifts to others and greatly appreciated receiving them.  Her love language was most certainly gifts and thoughtful acts, as that was definitely how she showed her love to others.   I believe she kept every card she ever received and, in her later years, she really enjoyed going through them, re-reading them, framing some of them and telling us all about them, and with such excitement, as if she was seeing them for the first time.

She greatly appreciated the beauty around her.  She could not throw anything away if it had any beauty about it at all.  And to her, beautiful things did not have to be expensive.  She would even keep an empty box or an old calendar if it had a pretty picture on it.  She always had a special attachment for roses and angels and anything with roses or angels on it.  She was fascinated with angels and read about them and collected them for many years.

The Lord took her home so suddenly that it is very hard for us who remain and miss her so.  However, in doing so He also answered many prayers.  She said many times that she wished she could go in her sleep.  She did not want to end up in a nursing home and she would have hated to go through extensive rehabilitation.  The good Lord knew all of that and He answered her prayers.  She was already very sleepy when the ambulance came and she was no longer feeling pain.  By the time the ambulance arrived in Grove, she was asleep and did not wake again.

The entire time she was in a coma, she had a peaceful expression on her face.  But there was an instant, just before she passed away, when a smile flickered across her face.  I’m sure she was either seeing Jesus, angels or someone she knew or maybe she was just hearing the angels sing.

We are thankful that she went very peacefully with her children around her, holding her and loving her.  She was well loved by many and she loved many very well.  What a special person she was.  We will miss her beyond words but we will rejoice for her because we know where she went and that she is now happy, healthy and singing with the angels and we know we will one day see her again.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

August 4, 2012

My mom passed away today around 5:30pm.  Thankfully, she went very peacefully with her children around her, holding her and loving her.  She was well loved by many and she loved very well.  What a special person she was.  We will miss her beyond words.

My heart hurts so much.  Please keep us in prayer.  The funeral will likely be on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

August 2, 2012

Please keep my mom in your prayers.  She had a bad fall today and hit her head, causing two bleeds in her brain.  She takes a blood thinner so that makes it even worse. They lifeflighted her to a hospital in Tulsa and she was already on her way to surgery by the time we got there.  She is stable but we probably won't know the outcome for at least 48 hours.  The surgeon thinks the chances of a good outcome are very poor.  The doctor at the first hospital thought that if she does survive, she will have brain damage and won't ever be the same.

Just before I came home from the hospital tonight, we saw her move her toes and she was also over-breathing the ventilator, so those are both good things.

If you could please keep her in your prayers, we would greatly appreciate it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012

Last week there was a fire just south of our neighborhood.  We didn't even know about it until a couple of days had passed, as we had not exited in that direction (really need to start listening to local news reports sometimes).  It apparently spread very quickly, as everything is dead and the temps are reaching into the 105 to 110 range these days (it's brutal), and we have some open fields on some sides of our neighborhood.  Also, our neighborhood is relatively small because it is new and upcoming so the fire was able to get pretty close to new homes and to the community pool area.  At one point, it jumped a road into another field and then even ran up into a backyard of a house that has gone back to the bank (this one is not in our neighborhood but is in one across and down the road a bit).  I was shocked at how close this fire came to this house and also to the new ones being built in the southern part of our neighborhood.  What really shocked me was that we never heard the firetruck sirens or anything else about it.

Today the husband was headed to his local office to see a patient and called to tell me there was another fire at the end of our street, just across the road in this field.  The boys and I walked down there to see it and, again, I was just shocked to see how much land had been burned so quickly and how close it had come to the houses just north of us.  I talked to the fire chief for a few minutes and asked if they knew what had started this fire today and he said it was still under investigation.  Actually, he seemed to act as if he thought he knew but was not ready to say anything about it just yet.  I expressed my concern that we had had two fires in two weeks, one just south of us and one just north of us and it seemed kind of strange that that could just be a coincidence.  He indicated that he also thought it was more than coincidence but did not think they were being set deliberately.  He just thought someone was being careless.  I asked if this one today was from someone throwing out a cigarette and he that it was not.  I hope they figure it out and make sure it doesn't happen again.  It is getting a bit too close for comfort.

In other news, there is not much other news:).  We have been doing school, watching the Olympics, staying in out of the heat and the boys have been swimming a lot.  Dancer cat has still been going outside and he stays pretty close by.  I have been worried about him being out in this heat but it doesn't seem to bother him too much.  Every once in a while he will scratch on the door, I let him in, he steps just inside the front door and flops down and sleeps for a bit.  I think he gets hot and then he likes laying on the cool wood floor by the door.  Sooner or later, he cools off enough and he is ready  to go back out and find a place to nap again.  He spends the majority of his time sleeping so he is not exerting himself too much.  He knows when to come in though.  Between 10:00 and 11:00 every night, he is waiting on the porch, ready to come in for the night.  Also, when the fires are going on, he stays in the house for days at a time.  The first time, when we didn't even know about the fire, I had no idea why he no longer wanted to go out but I figured it out later when  I saw what had happened.  So it is no surprise today that he came in and is sleeping in  my closet.  Smart cat.

The boys are doing fine with school.  It is kind of funny that we just happened to be studying Ancient Greece in history and just today we were reading about how they started the Olympics.  Good timing.  In math we are studying how to tell time.  They are both doing very well with their music practice and I really like Nick's new piano teacher; exactly what he needed.  We are still finishing up Farmer Boy and we have also started Black Ships Before Troy but we haven't gotten very far with either over the past week because I had a bad cold last week and really couldn't even read aloud.  Feeling much better now though.

The dad took the boys to have their eyes check the other day and Nick will be getting a pair of glasses on Tuesday.  They had been at the dad's office a week or two ago and they were playing around and trying to read the eye chart he has up on the wall, when he noticed that N could not read as much of it as he should be able to.  Ben has cried a couple of times because he does not feel it is fair that Nick is getting glasses but he is not.  We have tried to explain but he is very into this fairness idea so it does not matter how much we explain, it still isn't fair.

They are almost done with basketball.  They have one more practice tomorrow night and one more game on Saturday.  It has been a good experience for them both and they have learned a lot about team work.  I think we are going to sign them up for swimming again, possibly with the idea that they will eventually swim competitively on swim teams.  After watching the Olympics, Ben is saying he wants to do gymnastics but I don't think we really want to put in the time and money required to do that sport competitively.  It seems to ramp up so quickly at such a young age.  Swimming seems very healthy and relatively safe and is a good long term sport to learn, as in they can still swim to stay fit when they are older.

Both Nick and Ben recently each made public decisions to have Jesus Christ be Lord of their lives.  They were both very excited to be baptized at our church a couple of weeks ago, which is a public symbol to others that they have made the decision to be followers of Jesus Christ.  We were very excited with them and for them.  It brought back a lot of good memories for me too.

Our church is a Baptist church so they do full immersion baptisms.  It was the cutest thing when Nick was baptized, as he was laid back into the water, his feet came up out of the water where everyone in the audience could see them and everyone gave a good chuckle.  It was really funny and the dad got it on the DVD camera.

My niece, Jana (my sister's daughter) is now engaged to be married.  We are all very excited for her and her fiance, who happens to have the same first name as my dear husband (he must be a great guy, right?;).  They are currently planning their wedding for next summer, in June.  Nick and Ben are going to be in the wedding so they are very excited about that.

We are suppose to break heat temps again tomorrow, both the low of the morning and the high later in the day.  Something to look forward to, eh?  Today I had to stop school long enough for the boys to run 20 laps around the kitchen island.  They love doing this.  They laugh for the first 5 laps.  It's pretty funny and it really helps them to settle down and focus.  I think these hot temps are much worse than winter temps.  These are the dust bowl temps from the 30's.  Actually I guess they are worse, since we are breaking tons of heat records.  Anyway, it doesn't take long to get overheated outside so you have to be very careful, especially when you are not use to being in those high temps.

Well, that's it.  I had better publish this before I am interrupted again.  I have been writing this post off and on all day long.  Goodnight!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012

Today was our first day back to school after being off for 5 or 6 weeks.  It was a mixed bag day...some things went pretty well and others were a bit difficult.  My lesson learned is that 5 or 6 weeks off was a bit too much for them, as they really slid backwards in their writing ability and that was the thing we had really worked on a lot (ability and endurance) and had made a huge amount of progress.  I almost feel as if I need to buy another handwriting curriculum and start over with them and I may end up doing that.  AND the backwards slide was for both cursive and manuscript.  In retrospect, I probably should have had them writing something at least every other day or so, just to maintain what they had learned.

The other lesson learned is that I need to pay more attention to where we are stopping in math when we take a break.  We just stopped at whatever point we happened to be at and it was at a bad place.  I think I probably need to back up a bit and cover some of what we had already done again.  I think they need the refresher to remember what we had learned and they also need it for their confidence level in math because it is currently not there.  I had thought they would start math again and think it was easier because they had been doing Math Reflex games during our break but we were just at a really bad stopping place and Math Reflex didn't help with that.

In retrospect, I probably should have planned for a week or two of review in our skill subjects, instead of trying to jump in right where we left off.  I will correct that little oversight tomorrow and we will hopefully have a better day.

On the other hand, history went very well, their narrations were good in both history and grammar and our new Bible and spelling curriculum both went pretty well also.  Their reading seems to be coming along very well also.  We read so much that they didn't lose anything there but I do need to have them read aloud more.  Nick does a lot of mumbling through words as he reads because he reads faster than he talks and he finds it frustrating to have to slow down long enough to enunciate well.  But, overall, they are both reading well and it seems they are also comprehending pretty well.

They still have to do their music practice for today and, while one is practicing, the other will be reading aloud to me.  Then we will be finished for our first day.  We took off for a long, special lunch out today so we are running a bit late.

Well, I was interrupted by the timer, as it was time for music practice and reading.  So we are all finished for the day now and we have eaten a quick dinner.  The boys are cleaning up their toys and then we are going to head over to the pool for some good, energetic playtime.

We are reading Farmer Boy now, as our fun read-aloud and we are all enjoying it a lot, especially me and Nick.  I don't think I read this when I was young.  I am enjoying learning about how they did everything back then and I am astounded at how much time they had to work and how little leisure they had in comparison to now.  It really is amazing.

Off to the pool...

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 12, 2012

Things around here are still nice and slow and relaxing.  Quite lovely:).

I took 14 year old Dancer cat to the vet a couple of days ago and had the micro-chip put in.  They also caught him up on his shots (I don't normally keep indoor-only cats caught up) and I bought some flea medicine for him. So now Dancer is an indoor-outdoor cat and he is a very happy fellow.  The first couple of days it seemed that he stayed very close to our house.  Today we saw him coming back to our house outside of our fence so he had wandered a bit further away.

The boys really surprised me.  The first day that I let Dancer go out, they both cried.  I was really shocked because this is the first time that they seemed to care.  They were not that upset when he disappeared for a week but I guess that has been a while and they are older now.  They are starting to get used to the idea now.  Nick has accepted it and is now ok with it but Ben still worries about Dancer a lot when he is outside and he wants to go to him if he sees him outside.

Hopefully Dancer will get to enjoy his outside time for a long time.  I say a little prayer for him when he is out.  I don't want anything to happen to him but he was really miserable and he was making me miserable.  The entire time he was awake, he would roam the house, from door to door, crying and scratching at doors wanting to go outside.  He has also been waking me up at night doing this and, wow, I had not realized how long this had been going on and how much it was impacting me.  I started letting him sleep in the garage (which he loves) and I am sleeping incredibly now and I feel so great!  It is amazing!  I suddenly have so much more energy!  I really had no idea how much this was impacting my day to day productivity.  I'm sure it was also impacting my immune response and who knows what else.  Anyway, I sure do feel better and, boy!, I am also in a much better mood.

Tinker seems to be doing better with Dancer, now that he is going outside too.  I'm not sure why but they have both been lying out on the back porch since he came in and she is leaving him alone.  Well, she did try to engage him for a bit but he just ignored her and she gave up.  But she didn't run over and jump on his back, which she so frequently does, so that was really good.  Maybe we are going to finally get to a place where they are tolerating each other.  I hope so.  I am really tired of playing musical cats around here (he went into the garage so I can let her in off of the back porch; she is in the house so he must be shut up in my bedroom, etc.).

In other news, we have joined a new co-op and I am really excited about all that they offer.  I think we are all really going to enjoy it.  The boys will be taking a P.E. class that is run by the local YMCA.  They will also be taking a spanish class and an art class.  They have a music class that is offered in the afternoons where the kids are going to put on a musical at the end of the semester, which sounds like a blast.  I may ask the boys if they would like to do that also.  I think Nick especially would love it.  We'll see.  It can all get a bit expensive if we sign up for too much.

Also, I am looking in to having the boys join the cub scouts, which I think they will love.  Ben is really afraid of bugs, any kind of bug, even those that are dead.  So he was not excited about the idea of camping outside.  But then we were talking to this guy across the street who is a Boy Scout leader and, when Ben was saying he didn't want to do Scouts because of his fear of bugs, the guy said, "Well, do you like BB guns and other kinds of guns and would like to learn to shoot?" and Ben's head jerk around and his eyes grew big and, suddenly, he was all on board and excited.  Of course, I don't know if they learn that in Cub Scouts.  They may not teach it until they are in Boy Scouts.  But the guy on the phone this morning was telling me all of the stuff they teach and I was really impressed.  I think they will really enjoy it.  And there is a den that meets in the local school, which is only about a mile from our house, if that.  I think it would also give them a chance to really make some close friends in our area, since they try to put you into a den with kids from around where you live.

I also decided to put off starting school one more week so the boys can go to vacation Bible school at our church.  So we will be starting on July 16th instead of the 9th.  When I was a child, we always went to VBS at our church and then we often went at my grandmother's church as well.  I think the boys will enjoy it and it will be good for them.  I think it is only for half a day.  They will have a fun time and it will give me a bit of quiet time to do some things that I need to get done before we start school.

So lots of new stuff going on around here and, with all the great sleep I am getting now, I feel like a million bucks!  I am still amazed at what a difference this has made for me.  Yay!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17, 2012

We are enjoying our break from school.  It has been very nice and relaxing around here lately.  Nick has started taking piano lessons.  He was so excited and could not wait to start.  The first week, he happily practiced every day without me saying anything.  The second week, he decided he didn't want to practice.  Well, that didn't take very long.  Yesterday I had to make a new rule that there would be no movie or computer games until after his piano practice.  It only takes him about 10 minutes to practice what he has been assigned and it is very simple.

Funny enough, Ben has the month off of violin lessons/practice until July 9th but has been practicing more than ever on his own.  I had suggested to Nick that he wait until the week of July 9th to start piano lessons but he insisted on starting in June.  Anyway, Ben is not required to do any violin this month at all and so, funny enough, he has practiced almost every day and is making large strides in improving his playing and ability to read music.  He is really having fun with it and it is showing me that we need to give him more freedom in his day to day practice, when he starts taking lessons again.  He really relishes in being able to pick the songs he is learning so we need to give him more freedom with that going forward.

I have been very busy this month, preparing for our lessons for the year.  I am putting together a filing system where all of the paperwork we will need during the year is already ready for us.  So, hopefully, I will not have to be working every evening during the school year, making copies and printing off maps and math pages and such.  It is a lot of work now but I think it will save a lot of time during the school year and give me more free time, which would be nice.  And hopefully I won't feel so harried and like I have no free time.

The boys are playing basketball for the first time through our local YMCA.  They have had two practices so far and they had their first game on Saturday morning at 8:00am (yawn - we have been staying up later and sleeping in later lately).  They actually did pretty well in their game, considering they have only had two practices and have never played before.  Their whole team really did fairly well, although they still have much to learn, of course.

The husband has a high school reunion to attend in August so we may be making a road trip up to the Chicago area.  If we go we will use it as an opportunity for a little vacationing fun.

The husband's new practice is still going pretty well.  We are both pleased with the number of patients he has been having and are hoping and praying it will continue to pick up quickly.  He has been driving an hour and half to the place where he is working part-time and he stays over night there and works multiple days when he goes.  It will be nice when he doesn't have to do that anymore.  We miss him when he is not around.

My mom seems to be doing much better.  She has not fallen now for a number of weeks, which is the longest she has gone without a fall since last year sometime I think.  So that is very positive.  She has not had anymore vertigo episodes either, other than the two she had at our house.  She came close to having one a day or two ago but it was not nearly as bad as the first two, thankfully.  She has been staying at her house lately and seems to be doing pretty well.  We are very thankful to see her doing better these days.  It is quite a relief not to have to worry about her having bad falls.

The boys have been swimming a ton this summer, either at our local community pool or at the indoor pool at the YMCA.  They enjoy both and it is nice to have both an indoor and an outdoor option.  I took them yesterday evening and the water was really wonderful.  It was just cool enough to be refreshing but warm enough that it was pretty easy to get used to it quickly without it taking your breath away.  At first, we were the only ones there but it didn't take long before there were about a dozen kids in the pool.  The boys had a lot of fun playing with the other boys.  Our neighborhood is still small enough that you end up seeing the same people again and again so they are starting to get to know the names of some of the other kids.

They are having a parade of homes in our neighborhood this weekend so it is quite busy around here.  One of the houses in the parade of homes is next door to us and one is across the street and a little bit to the right. So our street is very busy with lots of cars parked everywhere.  The dad is working today so the boys and I decided to drive into Tulsa to eat at our favorite Chinese place (Pei Wei) as we had not eaten there in ages.  On our way home, we decided to stop and go through a couple of the houses that we had not seen yet.  One of them was particularly beautiful.  They really went all out on all of the little (and big) extras in this house.  It has a big WOW factor.  We all enjoy going through the new homes.

Last but certainly not least, the big milestone this week was that Nick lost his two bottom, front (center) teeth.   The first one fell out on Friday and the second one fell out today while we were eating lunch.  He was so happy that it was finally out because it was really bugging him and making it hard to eat.  He said "now I can really eat!". 

Well, I had better sign off for now so I can get a few things done.  Bye for now!

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25, 2012

As usual, thing have been very busy around here lately.  My mom came to stay with us around a week ago and will be with us until Monday.  My sister and her family have gone to Hawaii for vacation (they are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, their son's high school graduation and their daughter's college graduation all in one) so mom is staying with us until they get home. 

We ended up missing a bit of school this week, due to illnesses but we were back on track for Thursday and Friday.  Next week, we will take off for the holiday on Monday, have school Tues through Friday and then we will be off the rest of the month of June.  When we start back in July, we will be starting the second half of 1st grade, although 'officially' the boys will be starting 1st grade when public school starts here in August.  It is nice to have that extra cushion of being just a bit ahead of where they officially need to be so I am hopeful that we will be able to maintain that going forward.

We are all really looking forward to having the month of June off (except for June 1).  I personally can't wait.  I am so ready for a long break.  It will be refreshing for us all.  I am looking forward to getting back into the groove of practicing my violin, as I have not been practicing for a while now.  Ben got to the point where he didn't want me to practice with him because it made his practice session last longer, which I totally understand. But by the time I helped him practice, taught school, made meals, cleaned up, did laundry, etc., I was too tired to practice myself.  But I really want to get back with it because I was really enjoying it.  I also want to start working out.  We have a membership at the local YMCA now and they have a very nice indoor pool with a wonderful, big slide and an area like a river current, plus a play area for younger kids.  The boys love it and it is a wonderful place for them to play and get some exercise while I work out so I am hoping to try that out a bit during June.  Those are my two big to-do's, plus I want to do some fun things with the boys that I have not thought of yet...but I will.

Last night was Ben's recital and he also played a short concert with the youth orchestra.  He did an awesome job and I was really proud of him.  He looked so handsome in his little black pants and belt, white shirt and black bow tie.  I thought he might be nervous but he said he wasn't (I asked him about it today) and, when it was his turn, he walked right up there and played as big as you please, as if he was not nervous at all.  I think he really enjoyed it and he is glad that he stuck with his violin.  He is really doing very well with it.  We are officially off for the month of June for violin too but I know he is wanting to learn to play Amazing Grace so I'm sure he will be practicing some.

Last night made Nick more excited about taking piano lessons.  I was thinking he is suppose to start in early June but maybe it was July.  I can't remember.  I need to call the guy soon and find out.  If it is June, I was going to ask to start in July instead so we can truly be away from all obligations for the month of June but Nick is really wanting to start right away.  So, if it is June then we will go ahead and start it for him, since he is so excited about it.  I'm still not really sure he will stick with it and practice like he will need to.  He still really struggles with self discipline and self control.  Who knows, maybe this will help him in some ways.  Time will tell.

The boys are going to play basketball on a YMCA team starting in June also.  I think they will really enjoy it.  They finished their swimming lessons, for now anyway.  They are both very good little swimmers.  In their last class, they were learning different strokes and also how to breathe right when swimming laps.  I would really love for them to be able to get into competitive swimming because I think they would both enjoy it and it would be such great exercise but we will see.  To do that through the swimming school they have been attending would be really expensive (for time and money) so I'm not so sure we want to do that, nor can we at this time.  With the husband starting his new practice, he is working several part-time jobs, plus seeing new patients with his practice so he is really busy these days.  It will likely be a while before he is making money with his practice and it is a struggle sometimes to get 40 hours a week with the part-time jobs.  I think there are other options though and I am going to look into it further.

My Dancer cat sure is acting older these days.  Of course, he is at least 14 years old now so he is quite old for a cat.  For the past couple of weeks, I have noticed he is getting weaker in his hind quarters/legs and then today, for the first time ever, I saw him miss a jump.  When Zoe started missing jumps, she didn't last a very long time after that so I am watching him closely and keeping Tinkerbell away from him.  She knows she is stronger and she attacks him any chance she gets. He likes to spend as much time as possible in the garage because it is the warmest place in the house.  She spends a huge amount of time on the screened-in back porch, crouching in attack position, ready to attack any bird or flying insect, squirrel or any other thing that moves in the yard....even though she can't get out of the porch.  She seems to really enjoy it and she especially enjoys the porch when I throw a hand full of ice out there and she can play hockey around the cement floor.

I have rattled on enough and am getting sleepy.  Time to go to bed.  Good night.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012

Last night, the boys had already been in bed long enough that I thought they were sleeping.  I was in my room reading and the husband was working out of town for the night.  I heard the pitter patter of little feet upstairs and heard doors opening and shutting.  I waited, thinking one of them got up for something but would (hopefully) soon be back in bed.  A little time went by and I kept hearing the little feet running around and more doors opening and shutting.  I finally got out of bed and went upstairs.  As I went down the hallway, I noticed Ben's door was open (they always sleep with their bedroom doors shut so the cats will stay out).  I went into his room.  His lamp was on and his bed was empty.  I walked through their bathroom, no sign of Ben.  I poked my head into Nick's doorway and there was Ben, standing right next to Nick's bed and leaning over his head, brushing Nick's hair with a blue baby brush that was theirs when they were babies.  Nick was sound asleep.

When Ben saw me, he came trotting over immediately and headed toward his room, with a sheepish grin on his face.  As he went by me, he accidentally dropped a pair of plastic play tweezers that go with their doctor set.

The next day he told me that he had also built a 'bed' next to Nick's bed, which was made of two large stuffed animals and a couple of blankets.  He made it in the small cubby spot between Nick's bed and the wall.  I asked him why he had the tweezers and he said he was going to use them to remove the ear buds from Nick's ears so he could take his CD player and listen to some CD's.  I guess I came in before he had gotten that far in his plan.

Ben is usually asleep when his head hits the pillow so I'm not sure what was going on in his little body that night.  At the time I was annoyed because I was tired and he was suppose to be in his bed, not running around playing and he could have awakened Nick.  In hindsight I think the whole thing is hysterical.  I don't know what he thought he was doing brushing Nick's hair with a baby brush while Nick slept but it was so funny to see him doing it.  I can still picture it so clearly and I wish I had a picture of it.    Funny kid!

In other news, things here are about the same.  We are still doing school.  The husband is in the process of opening his practice, working on advertising and getting the word out there.  In the meantime, he has finished his last day at his old job and he just finished his first two days at one of his new part-time jobs.  This one is an urgent care.  It is about an hour and a half from here though so when he works there multiple days, they pay for his overnight stay in a hotel.  The other part time job that he has secured but has yet to start is with a small ER.  It is also a ways from here and when he works there he will work a 24 hour shift (I think).  He is waiting to hear back from at least one other part-time job.  He will likely need at least three of them to get the number of hours he wants.

Ben is still playing the violin and getting ready for his second recital in May.  He will also be playing with the local youth orchestra at a couple of performances in May.  We will be taking the month of June off of school and Ben will not have any violin lessons or practice that month either.  I think Nick was suppose to start his piano lessons in June but I am going to see if we can move it to start in July.  Our neighborhood pool is going to open in early May so we will be doing school light in May, taking June off completely and having fun.  We will start back to school after July 4th, although I may try to lighten the load a bit for the summer months.  Some of it we will play by ear and go with the weather.

School is going pretty well these days.  It seems that adding history and science to the mix has really helped improve the boys' attitudes about school in general.  They both really enjoy these two subjects.  Last week we were studying Egypt and they did a coloring page of Tut's mask.  Then we decided to make our own masks.  We tore up some newspapers and used a mixture of glue and water to paste the strips of newspaper to one side of a blown up balloon (one for each child).  We let it dry overnight and repeated the process the next day.  After it was thoroughly dry, we popped the balloons (the boys really liked this part).  I cut the edges of the masks to make their shapes a bit more mask-like.  They came out really good.  Now we need to paint them and decorate them.

The other thing that has probably helped a bit with improving school-related attitudes is that they are getting better at writing.  Ben really likes to write, especially if he is using cursive.  He has finished his cursive curriculum and is getting pretty good at writing in cursive.  Nick is getting closer to being finished but still has a bit to go.  They also still practice their manuscript writing every school day.  I have noticed they are getting faster at it but also more sloppy so I need to start sitting with them again and watching them so they will take their time and do a better job.  Nick, in particular, still does not care to do too much writing.

This school year we have spent an inordinate amount of time on adding and subtracting numbers from 0-10.  We have spent so much time on this that I thought for sure they would have them memorized by now.  I have tried to do some flash cards with them but I was probably not as organized about it as I should have been and we also did not do it often enough.  I have done some reading about how important it is for them to have these basic math facts memorized so I feel very strongly that we need to do this.  I have read that children who do not have these basic facts memorized will be slower at math, as it gets harder, and they may end up hating math or thinking they are bad at it.  It will also make math harder for them because they will still be having to calculate what 5+3 is while also trying to do harder algebra problems, for example.  So, I learned about a computer program that helps kids to memorize these facts.  It makes it fun with games and has some great reporting for the parents.  The boys have been playing it every day and Ben especially has already mastered almost half of what he needs to learn by instant recall.  Nick is further behind but he is definitely making progress and they have been doing this for less than a week.  The great thing is that they get really excited about it and really want to play these games and they are playing these math games instead of the Angry Birds or whatever games they were playing before.  So I am hopeful that doing this every day for the summer will get them to where they need to be on their instant recall of addition and subtraction math facts.  The math game is called Reflex, in case anyone is interested in checking it out for their kids.

On to another topic.  My mom was here for about a week.  My sister came to get here last Thursday and she bought the boys each a pair of roller blades while she was here.  They are loving them.  The husband also decided to change his membership at the YMCA to a family membership so the boys can participate there a lot now.  They have a great indoor swimming pool there, very fun for kids with an awesome slide, so the boys are loving this.  That is where they are now, while the dad is swimming his laps.  Anyway, back to mom.  She did pretty well while she was here, although she was having some bad dizzy spells every once in a while.  My sister took her to an ENT on Friday because we were thinking it had something to do with her inner ear and a really bad knock to the head she had a couple of weeks back when she took a bad fall in her kitchen.  The ENT said it could have been that but he didn't find anything wrong.  Then Mom fell again yesterday, although I have not heard how bad it was yet.  She sure is falling a lot lately though and we need to find a solution for this before she really hurts herself badly.  She is also not acting like her normal self a lot of the time so we are hoping to have her seen for that also.  And she struggles with losing her independence and her freedom and has had some difficulty accepting that.  It is a hard time for her and it is hard for us to see her going through this and not be able to do more.  Getting older is just not an easy thing.

My nephew (my sister's son) will be graduating from high school in May and getting ready to head off to college.  I also have two nieces who will be graduating from college in May.  My sister's daughter is becoming an English teacher and is already teaching at her new job not far from where she went to college.  My brother's daughter is planning on continuing to get her Master's degree in Accounting and is planning to become a CPA.  My sister and her husband and their son and daughter are all going on a big vacation to Hawaii in May.  With their daughter graduating from college and their son graduating from high school and heading off to college, they have planned this big vacation as their last real family get away together before the kids are off doing their own things.  My mom will be staying with us while they are gone.  I enjoy having her here but it is definitely a lot more work.  It turns out that it is probably a good thing that she didn't want to move in just yet because I don't know that I could have handled it full time.  It seems to work pretty well when she stays here for a week every now and then, when my sister is having to work many days in a row and we don't want mom alone during the day for that long.  It gives my sister and brother (who lives in mom's house with her) a break too, which they need.

Well, time to sign off.  I must go get some things done.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28, 2012

My mom has decided she is not ready to leave her house yet and she moved back yesterday.  I can certainly understand where she is coming from.  She was completely dependent on us to go anywhere and I think that was hard for her.  I was sad to see her leave but I totally understand.  I would guess she may come for a few days to visit here and there, when my brother or sister are busy or out of town or something like that. It helps knowing that my brother is now living with her so she is no longer alone.

The boys are both doing very well.  We are ahead of schedule in school and the boys are both doing great with it.

We are really enjoying our history and science lessons these days.  We have started doing them in the mornings, before our break, as we do a better job on these subjects then.  We are now using Story of the World (SOTW) as our main history book (or 'spine', as the homeschooling community refers to it).  We use the SOTW Activity Guide for doing our comprehension questions after we read the text and also for the map work.  The Activity Guide provides a coloring page and the boys enjoy coloring while I read.  I keep a list of library books recommended from SOTW and also from Tapestry of Grace (TOG) and I order them ahead of time.  We read as many of these as we have time for and find interesting also.  We choose a project from either SOTW or TOG and do them here and there along the way, not every week because we also do projects or experiments in science, but when we have time.

In science we just finished studying a section on our solar system.  I purchased a set of Styrofoam planets, sun and rings from a local store and we spent a day painting them, using pictures from this wonderful planets book we have as models.  After they dried, we hung them down the long hallway upstairs, using a guide for an approximate scale to determine how many inches or feet each would be from the sun.  The boys had so much fun with this.  They especially enjoyed the first half hour or so of the painting (and then it was up to me to finish it, although Ben actually helped most of the time) and they really enjoyed measuring the distance from the sun for each planet and double checking it to what I had written on my list.   It is not perfect but it is good enough that both boys were totally impressed at how far away from the sun many of the planets are.  They also seemed to take personal exception about the decision of Pluto no longer being a planet.  Neither of them are willing to accept that at this point and they have some pretty strong feelings about it.  It was actually kind of funny.

All of our other subjects are going just fine.  Right now I believe history/science and spelling are their favorites.  They also enjoy doing narrations, where I read to them, ask them questions and then have them tell me something they remember about what I read.  Ben loves practicing his cursive.  Nick does not love it but he does an excellent job.  I recently picked up a 5th grade reader so they are practicing reading from that aloud to me 1 to 3 times per week or so and they are doing very well with it.  We only have one final chapter in our phonics book and it is a short chapter for learning to read very long, multiple syllable words.  They had some of these in past chapters but the last chapter goes on to include even silly ones, like su-per-cal-i-fra-gi-lis-tic-ex-pi-al-i-do-tious....(spelling? - you know, from Mary Poppins).  That is the very last word they read in the phonics book.  We will get to that last chapter eventually but I'm not too concerned about it because we will also be covering multiple syllable words in spelling.

Well, our quiet time is over so I need to sign off an fix lunch.  Hope you are having a great day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

We are back from our vacation.  We drove from Oklahoma to Houston and spent three days visiting friends and enjoying the museums and restaurants in Houston.  We were also able to attend church at Second Baptist Church in Houston, which is where the husband and I met and where I went to church for many years.  It was so nice to be back and to hear Dr. Young again.  I really enjoyed it and it was nice to take our sons to church there.

On Sunday we drove to Galveston and caught our seven day cruise on the Carnival Magic.  Our first two days were spent at sea.  The weather was a bit chilly, overcast and windy on the first day.  The boys went to Camp Carnival for 2 hours in the morning and they enjoyed it a lot.  I can't remember what we did in the afternoon that day but I think we may have played foosball, putt putt golf, pool and ping pong.  The ropes course was closed because of high winds and it was too chilly to use the water slides / water park area  and pools.  The second day was a bit warmer but still a little chilly, windy and overcast.  The boys went to Camp Carnival for two hours again in the morning and spent the afternoon playing in the large hot tubs.  We probably played putt putt golf again later too.

We spent the third day in Jamaica at an all inclusive resort that had huge swimming pools, water volley ball, water slides, and a river area where one could ride large inner tubes around.  They also had a beach, beach volley ball, kayaks, lots of other water sports plus all the food you could eat.  Unfortunately it rained off and on but that did not seem to slow us down a bit and it cleared up after a couple of hours.

We spent the fourth day on the island of Grand Cayman, which was beautiful.  We took a boat out to a reef for snorkeling.  These boat guys also fed the sting rays on a regular basis so they were swimming all around and people could pet them and feed them.  It was a beautiful day but it was very windy so the water was a bit rough.  We all had a good time anyway though.  The water was amazingly clear and beautiful here.

We spent the fifth day at Cozumel, Mexico, where the water was just as clear and beautiful as Grand Cayman.  We took a cab to a nearby beach which had lots of amenities and we spent the day there.  It was my favorite day, by far.  It was a perfectly beautiful day and a perfectly beautiful beach.  We all had a wonderful, relaxing time.  The boys really loved playing on the beach and in the ocean so much, it was sad to leave.

Our sixth day was a ship day and was again somewhat overcast and misty at times.  The boys were looking forward to going back to Camp Carnival and spent two hours there in the morning and another 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon.  The husband and I spent that time together, enjoying each others company, visiting, reading and also going through a book that we are reading together.  It was a really great, relaxing day and we all, once again, enjoyed ourselves.  We spent that afternoon making sure everyone had a shower (the shower on the ship was surprisingly really good, albeit small) and packing.  We arrived back in Galveston early on Sunday morning and were in our car, heading for home by around 8:00 or 8:30am.

Every day we had all three meals together and did less snacking between meals than we normally do because we were so busy.  There were lots of places to choose from for eating.  Some of the places were only open during certain times of the day and others were open 24 hours a day.  You could choose between a buffet type of help-yourself meal or a sit down and be served meal.  They had soft ice cream and yogurt available with cones or cups 24 hours a day (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla).  I think I had a small one about 2 or 3 times a day:).  You could choose what type of dinner program you wanted.  We had dinner at the same restaurant every evening.  The food was awesome; the desserts were awesome also.  Every evening except two, we had the same waiter and he was so friendly and sweet.  We loved him too and were sad to say goodbye to him and also to our steward.  Our steward took care of our room and he was so friendly also.  When we went to dinner, he prepared our room for sleep by lowering the boys' beds (they were in the ceiling) and leaving us a very cute animal made from towels every night.  He was really good at creating the towel animals.

Before we went, I was concerned our room would be too small and confining.  It was actually perfect for us and I did not have one complaint about our accommodations at all.  The boys loved their bunk beds and, even when they were down, we still had plenty of room to move about.  All of our beds were comfortable and very roomy.  Before we went, I had read that if we were going to use the bunk beds, then our bed had to be separated into two twin beds.  We found this not to be true.  Our bed was two twin beds put together but they were very comfortable and roomy and it seemed more like a king than anything.  We had small night stands on either side of our bed, each with a small reading lamp.  We would all watch a little television together and each read our own books before we fell asleep at night.  The rooms were very well insulated and we never heard our neighbors at all.  We sometimes heard people in the hallways but I was never awakened by them.  Our bathrooms were also very well insulated.  Both the bedroom and the bathroom were far better insulated than any hotel I have ever stayed in, and I have stayed in some pretty nice hotels back in the day when I traveled a lot for work.  So, overall, I give our room an A+, which was quite a nice surprise.  Also, I loved that we got to go to three different stops and enjoy each one, but we never had to pack and unpack.  And our room also had plenty of drawer and closet space so we were able to unpack everything when we first got to our room and put our suitcases under our bed, not to be seen or needed again until we were ready to repack at the end of our cruise.

The only real downsides I found about taking this cruise was that the main attraction for adult entertainment was gambling, drinking/partying and some sometimes R rated comedy shows.  They had some other shows too but we were usually tired by the time we finished with dinner and our sons normally go to sleep around 8:30ish.  I was very surprised that the cruise line offered child care for even babies until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  Camp Carnival was during the day, from 10:00 to noon and then from 1:00 to 4:00, or something like that, and it was free.  Additional child care was provided after dinner and it was pay-by-the-hour. 

There were also a surprising number of smokers on the ship, although they were only allowed to smoke in certain areas.  It was still sometimes annoying when we were sitting outside and someone was smoking nearby.  Sometimes I got tired of the number of people that were constantly about, but one could go to their room to get away and if you looked hard enough you could likely find a spot in a corner where you could recline in peace, watch the beautiful view of the ocean and read or just relax.  You had to be patient when getting off the ship on shore days but the lines moved pretty quickly.  I never felt sea sick at all and actually enjoyed the slight rocking of the ship during the windy times.  It was never very bad, although there were times when you had to hold on to something if you were up walking around.

Overall I found the cruise to be a great vacation.  I loved not having to worry or even think about what anyone was going to have to eat for any meal and it was nice that most of the food was included in the price we paid for the cruise.  The only meals not included were when we had lunch at the three stops.  Every other meal/snack was included.  I loved not having to pack and unpack at every stop and we had tons of amenities on board the ship.  I also loved the relaxing nature of a cruise and that pretty much everyone was in a great, happy mood and most of the crew were very friendly, fun and helpful.  Most of the guests were also very friendly and ready to visit during wait times.  The other thing I really liked was that everyone was disconnected from the Internet and phones.  You could get on the Internet for a fee but we never did.  We had a television in our room but it received limited channels, although it did get CNN, some movie channels, Discovery, ABC, CBS, NBC, and one or two cartoon channels. It also had a map channel that showed where the ship was and gave the temperature and there was a channel that showed a real-time camera view from the front of the ship.

 I would definitely do a cruise again and I suspect the second time would be even better than the first because you learn a lot the first time around.  When we were at dinner on the last night of the cruise, some of the waiters/waitresses put on a little show for us and sang a goodbye song to us (to the tune of Leaving on a Jet Plane).  It was very cute and funny and made us a bit sad that it was our last night.  Ben, who had mentioned several times that he was homesick and that he missed his Legos, even started crying that last night at dinner.  He was kind of smiling and crying at the same time.  It was very sweet and it was how I felt too.  We were all very ready to go home but we were all a little sad to be leaving too.

Yesterday we spent most of the day driving back home and today was laundry day for me.  The boys spent the day playing all the stuff they missed playing while we were gone.  Tomorrow we will start back with a bit of school and work towards ramping up to a full/normal school day by week end.

The husband continues to work on getting his practice off the ground and also looking for another job he can do while his practice ramps up.  By week end, life should be back to normal around here:).  And we came home to absolutely beautiful weather.  It is in the mid-seventies here today and is suppose to be in the 80's tomorrow.

Oh, and we went off and forgot our camera in our car.  We bought two disposable cameras on the ship so we have very limited pictures.  I think when we get them developed we will try to have the pics put on a CD so hopefully I will eventually be able to post some pics.

Hope you all had/have a nice week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary yesterday, my birthday is this week and we are preparing for our upcoming vacation.  I think I mentioned we are going on a cruise.  I have purchased swim wear that provides more protection from the sun, along with a wide-brim hat.  We are all looking forward to our vacation.

Mom is here but I will be taking her back to her house this week, where she will stay until after our vacation.  My brother is moving into her house so she will still have someone staying with her.  She seems pretty upbeat about moving in with us.  Tomorrow she is getting together with a friend from her school days, which is nice.  Her friend lives fairly close to us.

Well, time for sleep.  Hope you are all well.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

Just enough snow for two little boys........... try out their new sleds build a snowman
 ,,,more sledding...

 Later Ben told me he got really hungry so he ate the snowman's carrot nose.
and build a snow fort.  Awesome morning!

They had their fun and then it was melted and gone by the afternoon.  Tomorrow is suppose to be in the 50's.  Now this is a truly wonderful winter:).

Then they came in, ate some yummy homemade stew and cornbread and started on school work.

Hope you had a great day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 12, 2012

We have a lot going on around here lately.  I don't remember how much I have already mentioned so forgive me if I repeat myself.  The  two biggest changes are:

1.  Dear husband is starting his own cash-only (meaning he won't be accepting insurance) practice.  He would like to keep working where he works currently (an urgent care clinic) as his new practice ramps up.  He discussed it with one of the owners recently and it did not go so well.  We are waiting to hear what they decide they want to do moving forward.  Dear husband has already signed a lease contract for office space.  He is working on the many details and hoping to start seeing patients around May-ish.

2.  My mom is going to be moving in with us.  She has been here with us since Wednesday and we have been discussing some of the details for her to move here.  This is something we had anticipated and planned for since we built this house and the main reason we made sure our guest room is on the first floor.  With some of the issues she has been having, it seems that this is the right time.  My sister and I both expected that, when this time came, there would be some resistance from mom.  Surprisingly, she is very excited about the move and seems to be really looking forward to it.  That is a nice surprise.  She tended to not get out enough when she lived alone and so she really ended up spending too much time alone and I don't think it was healthy for her.  I am hopeful that we will all be able to adjust to this move fairly smoothly.  I think we will.

Both of these things are huge changes for our family so we would greatly appreciate your prayers.

In other news, school is going well and we continue to chug along.

 Above is our finished salt map.  We had a lot of fun with this project.

These are Egyptian serpent headed throwing sticks.  The boys had a lot of fun painting them.  Boys, such as Moses, growing up in Egypt practiced throwing serpent headed throwing sticks at targets.  When they got good enough at it, they hunted with them.  Although we did not read this, I am guessing that the original throwing sticks were quite a bit longer than this and might have possibly had a sharp point on one end:).

Above is a picture of our messy kitchen and dining room during one school day.  It does get quite messy around here at times.

Last week we had our first day of adding a new spelling curriculum to our day.  It was not received with much excitement but I am hopeful that, once they are used to it, they will enjoy it.  I need to do a better job of planning and implementing our science.  I am not very impressed with some of the experiments so my excitement for doing it has waned a bit.  Must work on that.  Overall school is going very well.  Our current read aloud is Charlotte's Web and we recently finished The Borrowers.  Reading aloud is pretty much our favorite thing...for all of us.  I love it too:).

Break time!   ....and bed time for me.  Hope you have a great week.  Good night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19, 2012

Well we are finished with school for today and we have eaten lunch and the boys are playing outside.  It is a beautiful, sunny day here and the temp is around 55 degrees or so.  I'm sure it feels even warmer in the sun.

Yesterday we decided to take a day off of school so we had a free day.  We traded it with Friday this week because we are not having co-op this week so Friday was free.  It was nice to have a break mid-week and we all came back at it today refreshed.

Yesterday I was sitting in the living room and I kept wondering why I was smelling smoke so strongly.  We had made a fire in our fireplace the night before for the first time (it was lovely and we need to do that more often) and I kept thinking I was smelling the results of that.  Finally, I happened to glance outside and noticed smoke wafting past our house.  I got up and looked next door and saw a large plume of smoke coming up from a huge pile of trees that had been knocked down and piled on the other side of the lot when they started building a new house.  I didn't see anyone around so I decided to put on my shoes and coat and walk over there to see what was going on.  Nick went with me and we found that, sure enough, the huge pile of trees were on fire and nobody was around.  We came back and told the husband and he called 911 to report it.  Not long after there were several smaller red trucks (not true fire trucks) with tanks in the back bed that came to put it out and watch it for a while.  I guess they save the big trucks for the big jobs.  It was not a very big fire yet but it was really smoking and it took quite a bit of water to put it out.  The boys really enjoyed the whole thing.

I am so far behind on posting pictures that I don't even know where to start.  I will put in a few here though.

 This (above) is what happens when boys get a hold of the camera:).

 Here is our house, decorated for Christmas.

 The dad was helping the boys make their gingerbread house.

 We made a big batch of Christmas cookies that were quite yummy.

 I was out Christmas shopping on this day, I think.  They set the camera up on a tripod.

 This was taken just before we took the Christmas tree down, which we did quite early this year.  I was ready for the house to get back to normal.

 Here is Tinkerbell.  She is really getting big these days and a bit chubby too.  This is how she looks when she is getting ready to attack something.

 Here is one of my beautiful nieces, having a treat with the boys.

 This is a salt map we made, while learning names of various landforms.  It has taken it about a week to dry completely.  We should be able to paint it soon.  This was a very fun project for the whole family.

 An after dinner dessert for two goofy boys.

Here the boys are doing a science experiment with the dad. We are studying the human body right now so the dad (being a dr.) enjoys joining in for the experiments.  Here the boys are blowing into the tube, which forces water out of the 2 liter bottle, showing how much air they can hold in their lungs.  They did this twice; once with a regular breath and once with a great, big breath so they could see the difference in how much their lungs hold.  It was a fun project and we all joined in and tried it.

This is how we make our daily schedule.  The laminated cards have velcro on the back to attach them to the strap.  There is a pocket at the bottom to hold the cards.  The boys and I decide what order we will do our subjects each day and we put the cards on the strap in that order (click on the picture to see a larger version).  As we finish a subject, they take turns taking the card off the strap and putting it into the pocket.  This is really working out very well for us and the boys are quickly getting use to the additional workload.  We are normally done by noon, except on Tuesdays when we have to go to violin lessons in the mornings.

That's it for today as we have to get ready to go to swim lessons.  Hope you are having a great day!