Friday, October 31, 2008

Progress Report

Just a small update about how school has been going around here. Today, we finally finished what I had planned to get done in the first week. Four weeks later. But it's okay. I had planned to take it slow, and there were several days that I just had to focus on surviving so school didn't happen. And there were several days that we just didn't get everything done. But the kids have been doing really well, and we're all still really enjoying this.

Both of the older boys now have the planets memorized and usually can get them in order. We talked about the difference between comets and asteroids as well as the difference between meteors, meteoroids and meteorites. They know all about orbits, and how the planets rotate and revolve. We've also studied the months of the year, and the last few weeks we've studied the winter months and the kinds of the things we eat, do and wear during the winter. We did some experiments to show the power of gravity and centrifugal force and made up a little song about how Isaac Newton discovered gravity.

Math has sort of fallen by the wayside because that's something that I have scheduled to do one on one with Stephen during the other boys' nap time, and most of the time, I have to get a nap, too. But I'm not too concerned about that yet. He understands as much or more about math in practice as most kindergartners, I think. His reading is getting better as well, and he's able to read more without sounding choppy. The sentences flow better and he's also getting better with comprehension. And when he gets to a word he doesn't know (which is rare), he figures it out on his own using context. We've been studying some poetry as well, and both boys have blown me away with their understanding and interpretation of poetry. Zachary listens so well and can answer any question about what we just read and Stephen is able to not take the poem literally and is able to interpret what the poet is actually trying to say. He was able to explain to me what a Robert Frost poem was actually saying. And then I prayed that I would be able to keep up with him past first grade.

Handwriting is just okay, but I've backed off of trying too hard. The last two days, Stephen has done great and there has been no tears about practicing the letters H, K, L and U. Which is nice since the program is called Handwriting Without Tears. Zachary is tearing through his Explode the Code book as well, but we're skipping a lot (but not all) of the handwriting exercises because I think he's just too young for all that writing.

Now that I've shamelessly bragged on the intelligence of my kids, I have to share a funny with you, lest you think that I'm snotty about thinking my kids are actually geniuses or that I think that I'm the best teacher ever (I so don't). This morning, we were studying and talking about February and so we were discussing President's Day. I read them a poem about George Washington and asked some questions afterward. The poem talked about George Washington "hearing the bugle's call" and going off to fight for the country. I started a "leading" sentence that I intended for Stephen to finish. So I said, "He heard the bugle's call and went to join...." And Stephen finished the sentence "....joined the.....Midianites?"


I almost couldn't finish the lesson because I couldn't quit giggling.

Is it over yet?

November 4 is fast approaching, and while that day holds significance for me every year, this year on our anniversary, Sweet Hubby and I will be casting what I think is the most important vote we have ever cast. Actually, this is only my second time to vote in a presidential election (the first time I was eligible, there was a registration error that kept me from being able to vote in 2000). But this year, it feels more urgent.

I know a lot of people would call this election done, based on the poll numbers. But it's not yet. I don't trust the polls at all. And I read that at this point in the 2004 race, Kerry was up by 6 points according to the polls. However, despite not believing the polls and not being convinced that this whole thing is wrapped up for one particular candidate, I'm not exactly hopeful. Mainly because I think that whatever happens, this process leading up to November 4 has left a bad taste in my mouth. There's been lies, fraud, hateful words and actions, and all around awfulness from the supporters of each campaign that keeps normal people from being able to completely trust any candidate, if that were even possible. No matter who gets elected, I think we the people have been jipped. We've not been given a fair opportunity to have all the information we need to make an intelligent decision. There are many, many people who are fired up for who they are voting for. But there are still many that aren't. And it's a sad day for our country when so many Americans have to go to the polls feeling defeated before they even cast their ballot.

Honestly, I don't think that either candidate can make good on the promises they've made. No one person can, even if they are the POTUS.

I normally love this process....I enjoy a good debate, and I'm okay with the fact that at least half of the people that call this country home disagree with me on many issues, but I'll be glad when this is all over. I'll be glad when we get to see the candidate who wins for what kind of president he'll really be. I'll be glad when people finally quiet down about it all. I'll be glad when we can leave all the yelling to the folks in Washington and us normal folks can finally be normal again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

There's a chill in the air...

...which means we all start thinking about Christmas. My cousin Kelli was talking about her plans for Christmas on her blog and in the comments I started talking about my plans. But then I remembered I was planning on doing a post similar to hers and my comment was getting too long anyway. So, even though we haven't even said good-bye to Halloween yet (and thank goodness that's over this weekend!), I thought I'd lay out what we're planning on doing this year for Christmas.

For years, I've been trying to stick to "Jesus got three presents for Christmas, that's good enough for you, too", but it never works. I usually end up getting 3 "real" things, and then a bunch of little filler stuff. I think this year will be the same, too. AND I've budgeted well enough this year, that I'll be able to have most of my Christmas money the day after Thanksgiving, when we might be able to get some good deals. We tend not to go overboard anyway, so I don't think money will be an issue. Here's what we're thinking for the kids (and this is subject to change based on any new ideas they might have):

Stephen will be getting a Razor Scooter (and forgive all my Wal*mart links...that's where we'll doing most if not all of our shopping for the kids). He's been asking for a "cool" scooter for a while, and he's well out grown his other scooter and bike. So he needs a new set of wheels. He'll also be getting an Elmer's Science Kit, although, not necessarily that one in the link. I think he'll be really excited about that. And we're also looking at one of these Star Wars games, although I might get him the new Guess Who game instead. And we might fill in with some books from Half Price Books.

Zachary's hard to buy for. He's not really "in" to much. And most of the stuff we get for Stephen would be a gift to Zachary, too. But we're definitely getting this Batman set for him. It's really cute and I can just see the look on his face when he sees it. I was also thinking about a work bench and tool set, but I don't know. I don't think he would be really excited for it. But it might being one of those toys that don't garner a whole lot of excitement when it gets opened, but ends up being one of the most played with. It would definitely help on fine motor skills, which he could always use help on. He might get a game instead, I don't know yet. And because we're lousy, cheap parents, I was thinking that we would take the bike that Stephen got for Christmas last year that he was probably too big for back then, and paint it to look different (it still looks new because Stephen wasn't able to do much damage to it since he could barely ride it). I was thinking maybe painting it green and calling it a Hulk bike. I don't know. I'm afraid he'd be on to me. He wants his own bike, and I want to surprise him with one, but there's no sense in getting a brand new one when we have a perfectly good one in the garage. And of course some books and coloring books/workbooks.

And Marc-Adam. He's hard to buy for, too, because there's not much out there for his age that doesn't take batteries and that we don't already have or had at some point and then sold or given away. I've been wanting to get one of the kids a set of these blocks for a long time. I think I just might do it for him. I was also thinking about the classic bubble mower or maybe the grocery cart. I thought this was cute, but I read a review that it was smaller in real life than it looks in the picture, so I might go have a look at the store before making a decision. He'll probably be getting some coloring books and maybe a couple new Matchbox cars.

After adding all that up, we still have quite a bit of the money left from what we budgeted for them, so we thought we might get something big that would be a gift to all of them. I was thinking the Smart Cycle, but it's just so large and it hasn't gotten totally great reviews (too many people complained it quit working after a few uses and lots of people said it was a battery sucker). Plus, it might be a little too close to a video game for my taste. So, I'll have to think on that. We might just end up saving the leftover money or maybe get them something else they can all enjoy.

As for me, I've been hoping for a while that this would make it on to Sweet Hubby's idea list for our anniversary or Christmas. And since there's no money for our anniversary next week, I think I might have dropped enough hints for him to get it for Christmas. I seriously watch the infomercial everytime I see that it's on. I read some reviews and most were great but some weren't so good, but I'm still excited to see what I can do with it. Other than that, there's nothing else I really want, so that should be easy for him.

And I have no idea what Sweet Hubby'll be getting for Christmas this year. He'll probably do what he always does and just buy himself some stuff off of eBay or Amazon and then I'll wrap it and he'll act surprised. That's the only that he gets stuff that he's excited about. If left up to me, he would get jammie pants, a cap or a watch. All of which he likes, but all year long he looks at and watches stuff that he really wants...and none of those things are things that he can wear.

We have stockings, but they're not really a big deal to us. We rarely spend more than $10 on them. We'll probably just fill them with fruit and nuts and maybe a small thing of candy (when the kids get older, we'll do Lifesaver books since that's a tradition in our family....they're just entirely too young now for hard candy).

So there you go. That's a lot of links (and I haven't gone back to double check all the links...if you find one that's weird or wrong, let me know so I can fix it). I'll be posting more of our plans (food, decorations, etc) later, since we're doing something new this year and just staying at home both Christmas Eve and Christmas day instead of visiting family. That's totally new for us, and will take a bit more planning on my part.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Holy moly. My little firecracker turned two today. He enjoyed a day of church, Wal*mart with his Gram and Papa and a nice dinner with all the people who love him most.


You're two!! And you love telling people so. You're a big boy now. I catch myself everytime I start to call you "the baby".

You've changed so much and so little in the last year. I looked back at the letter I wrote you one year ago, on your first birthday. Your personality is still much the same, but now you've grown so much that you are able to express it a lot more. Your persistence: One of your favorite phrases is "I deed it!!" which is our cue to back off and let you figure things out for yourself. You are still so affectionate. You don't give the sweet little slobbery kisses anymore, but full on smooches with sound effects and all. One of my favorite things in life is a hug from you. You're pretty chincy with the good hugs, but once in a while, you throw your arms around my neck and squeeeeeze. You're affectionate with your brothers, too. No one goes anywhere or does anything without you getting some hugs and kisses first. We've had to work in a few extra minutes into our nap and bedtime routines to make sure you have time to make your rounds of hugs and kisses and that you get sufficient love before you head to sleep.

You also started talking so well in the last year and in the last few days, I've noticed you trying to put 3 words together. You love asking questions....your favorites are asking where everyone that you love is. We'll be in the car, in the middle of the day, and all of the sudden you start asking, "Where's Daddy? Where's Nonny? Where's Grammy? Where's Poppy? Where's Papa?" It goes on and on. That's cute. But the frustrating part is how you keep saying, "Huh?" every time we answer you. We haven't figured out whether or not you actually can't hear or understand, or if you're just bored and messing with us. Besides just talking, you can clearly understand SO MUCH. I talk to you just like I do your brothers, and the majority of the time, I can tell that you get it. You are a smart cookie!

You still love colors. But now you're a big fan of color books. I was surprised our first day of school a few weeks ago when I was actually able to keep you occuppied with some color books for a while. And I'm really impressed with how well you hold the crayons. It gives me hope that maybe I won't have such a hard time with writing with you.

Lots of firsts this year: You started walking, started talking, had your first time out. Thankfully, so far time-outs seem to be effective in disciplining you, which is a good thing since for a long time I was so slow to discipline you. I think it had to with the fact that you are the third child and you've always been so darned cute while misbehaving. It's hard for me to discipline while I'm laughing at you. But things were clearly getting out of hand when you would blatantly disobey. So I tightened up on you, and it seems to be working. You're a lot more fun to be around when you follow the rules.

You've finally started getting interested in books lately. We don't ever actually finish one before you lose interest, but the fact that you'll go get one, bring it to me and ask to be read to is a big deal. You don't really have any favorites except for a couple touch and feel books. You really like just about anything. You're also the most helpful boy in our house. No one can do anything without you helping. And you don't just offer help, you insist--and sabotage any efforts we might make in doing it by ourselves. You love to help take out the trash, sweep, unload the dishwasher, and cook (but when you help cook, you mostly just empty the contents of the pantry while I cook).

You're still quite the character and love having all the attention on you. You are great in keeping all the grown-ups around you laughing. You are just such a joy to be around!

We love you sweet boy. I can't believe you're not a baby anymore and in a few short months you won't even be "the baby". But you still hold a sweet special place in my heart. And you always will.

Your mama

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From crabby to crazy in only one post

Ok. So maybe I might be feeling a little better. I'm afraid to say for sure that I am because I've been feeling slightly better for such a short time. But yesterday afternoon was actually really good and there was nothing really to make it better than any other day. And this morning when I woke up, my first thought wasn't, "Ah, crap." Which is an improvement. Seriously. I really didn't mind getting out of bed, and everyone else was still asleep when I got up which is always the best way to start the day, in my opinion.

Sweet Hubby and his dad are off doing some side jobs for some extra money (helping family clean up after Hurricane Ike) and they didn't come home last night. So I called my mother-in-law over for dinner, and that really was the best part of my day. We had a great visit and dinner actually turned out good and she brought vanilla cool whip. She brought some other stuff, too, to go under the cool whip, but really, with french vanilla cool whip do you need anything else?

Oh and proof that I'm pregnant....I've been thinking a lot lately about chocolate covered Pringles. To my knowledge, they don't even make chocolate covered Pringles. And really, can a food get any worse than covering a potato chip with chocolate? But I've been thinking about getting the ingredients I might need to make my own. Who knows...maybe I could market something like that. At fairs and festivals and such. People eat fried Snickers. Why not a chocolate potato chip?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A meme.

Because I still can't think of anything else to blog about other than my sour mood. I'm sorry. I know "listening" to me whine about nothing is not why you come to read. So I figured I'd do something a little fun. A while back, there was a little "meme" going around where you were supposed to post the 6th picture in the 6th folder of pictures from your computer. It looked like fun, but I didn't do it for a while because I was never home when I thought about it. But I sat here for a while looking at the little blinking cursor wanting to blog something, and that came to me. So here goes. The 6th picture in the 6th folder. My folders are by date, so this one's from the summer of 2006.

It's Stephen. Eating something. It looks like it might be a small can of fruit, I guess. Although, I can't remember ever buying little cans of fruit like that. It's certainly not something I would buy today. And I'll also point out (since someone is going to notice it, for sure, and I'd rather point it out first) that the wall behind him looks kinda gross. Not sure how something would have gotten thrown or splashed back there. BUT, Stephen looks so young and pudgy there. So cute. Looking at pictures of my kids always reminds me of how stinkin' cute they are. I guess it's harder for me to see that in real life because pictures don't talk back, whine, or smell.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Need more synonyms for "crabby"

I don't know how many more different ways I can say it, but I'm still cranky.

In fact, I'm so cranky that I don't want to go anywhere or do anything. I want to sit at home not being responsible for anything or anybody for at least a couple days. Things that we usually do and enjoy are now a chore for which I drag myself out of bed to throw on a baseball cap and stretchy pants to accomplish. Alas, life must go on in spite of my mood. Especially for the kids. It's not their fault their mama feels like hiding most of the day.

So here's my dream day, I've decided: I want to stay at home all day, with the thermostat set at 68 (it'd be nice if it were cold enough to turn off the A/C altogether, but it's still pushing 90 here in Boiler Room, Texas). I want to sit on the couch all day long watching episodes of Fringe and House and Army Wives. With a big plate of hot cheese sticks and really good marinara sauce. Maybe Sweet Hubby can come too.

As long as he doesn't try to eat my cheese sticks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I'm sorry I haven't been around this last week. I'm not sure why I haven't been blogging. I don't really have anything to say and I've been kinda cranky, so anything I blog about will be through the crabby glasses, so it's probably safest that I don't blog.

Everything is fine here. We're behind in school, though. But I sorta planned for that, so it's no biggie. I'm not stressing about it....yet.

And on the YAY! front, someone came to look at the house yesterday and was very interested. Our agent said that the Guy said a couple of times that he would like to buy it. But (and there always seems to be a butt but) our agent said that the Guy doesn't really sound like he's got his finances together and may not know what he's talking about. And Guy talked about wanting us to pay his closing costs, and I don't think we can make that happen. So, this is still a very iffy situation, but it's still hope!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The jury's in

And it was more optimism than stupidity that led me to go ahead and start school today. Although, there were several points in the day that it could have gone either way.

We started our school day at about 9:15am with some Bible study. We read Genesis 1 about what God created when and discussed that. I was impressed with some of the questions both Stephen and Zachary had. Then we did some reading together, me reading to the kids and Stephen reading to us. During most of the reading we did (bible and regular books) Marc-Adam fussed, cried and bullied his way into my lap. It got a little hairy during that time. Zachary wanted to read one of the BOB books, so I pulled out the very first one, and he read it! He's read it before, but not as well as he did today. He needed help with one word, but other than that, he didn't have a problem. He might have just been looking at the pictures and guessing, but still. That's the beginning. I told him that when he could read the whole first box of BOB books that he could get his own library card. His very own library card has been sort of a holy grail for Zachary, so now he's very motivated to read. I'm actually really surprised...I thought for sure he would be a late reader, but it looks like I might have another early reader on my hands.

Okay. Brag over. Sorry.

After we read, we took a break to get some wiggles out and I taught the kids how to crab walk. If you've never seen a young child do that, you need to. It was a good laugh for everyone...even the kids.

Next was handwriting. Each kid got their own book (Marc-Adam a coloring book, Zachary had a Kumon tracing book and Stephen's working out of Handwriting Without Tears) and pencil. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how happy everyone was working out of their own books. Marc-Adam tried to mark in Stephen's a couple of times, but once I handed him the whole box of colors, he was fine playing by himself (mainly throwing crayons at Zachary and tasting the color pencils). I'm still feeling a little discouraged about Stephen's handwriting, but I'm going to try to make sure we do at least a couple pages every day, even if we do no other school, just to make sure he's getting practice.

We made lunch and had our quiet/nap time. While the two younger kids slept, Stephen and I did a review of some of the Math-U-See book we didn't finish last year. It won't take us long to catch up to where we left off, I don't think.

The most fun part of school was the afternoon. After naps and a snack, we did our KONOS work. We talked about the days of the week, sang a song about the months of the year and studied a calendar, pointing out special days and holidays. Then we started learning about the planets and even made up a little song about them. We talked about the difference between rotate and revolve and acted each out and then acted out doing both at the same time. Stephen and Zachary both got to take turns being the sun and the earth. They thought that was the best fun ever. We did some more "work" about how the earth orbits the sun and finished up by reading some poetry about the universe and the earth.

When I announced, "That's it! We're done for the day!" I was met with groans and "Oh man!" So I guess the day should be counted as a success even though we had to deal with several melt-down and discipline issues with Marc-Adam.

It was really a totally fun day. We're all looking forward to more tomorrow. Let's hope we can keep this momentum and enthusiasm!

Quick update

We saw the baby for the first time yesterday afternoon. Baby's strong and measuring exactly where he/she should be. Heart beat is great, too. I have another cyst, which I've always had at the beginning of each pregnancy and they always go away on their own. I'm praying this one does, too.

Today is officially our first day of school. So far, it's started out great. We're ahead of my tentative schedule and the kids are really excited about starting. Today, we'll just be easing in to all of our curriculum and our new schedule. I'm excited to see how it works for us. Zachary's got this nasty cough and is feeling pretty puny because of it and Marc-Adam woke up testy (and that's putting it nicely), so I'm hoping our day doesn't fall apart before we really even get started. Optimistic or stupid? I'll let you know at the end of the day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Imaginary Jones

Yesterday morning, Stephen introduced me to his new friend. "He's just in my imagination, Mom," he whispered while pointing at his head. "His name's Joshua." How old is he, I asked. "Almost six."

And so the day went on with Joshua included in the activities.

This morning, Zachary informs me that he's got an invisible friend. I asked the same questions of name and age. "His name's Joshua, and he's almost 4, just like me." Stephen was in the same room with us, and I smiled and said, "So you both have new friends named Joshua who happen to be the same ages as the both of you?"

Zachary said, "Yep."

And Stephen replied, "Yep, 'cept mine's got a bullwhip."

*Edited to add: I've never once heard Stephen ever mention anything about a bullwhip. I have no idea how he knows of such a thing. Which is why that comment was completely out of the blue and so funny to me.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pink or blue

Before we announced our newest pregnancy (and we still haven't told everyone), people would see us with all the kids and ask a very specific question: "Are you done, or are you going to try for that girl?"

Um. Are those my only options?

I really always wanted to actually say that, but I never had the guts, so I just said, "Neither. We're not necessarily done and we're not going to be trying for a girl." Like the gender of our children has anything to do with how many children we have.

They'd always say, "Oh. That's nice."

I've tried to imagine what it would've been like to have a girl thrown in earlier, like as a first or second child and the honest truth is, even with "mixed" kids, I still think we'd want a large family ("large" being a relative term).

People say now, "You hoping for that girl?" Right in front of my boys. I answer, "Nope! I love my boys!"

Again, the honest truth is I want both. I would love to have a daughter. I would love to have that relationship. I would love to have the pinks and purples and hairbows and baby dolls. But on the other hand, I've got a great thing going with my all-boy household and heart. The thought of holding another son close to me nearly brings me to tears (and the good kind of tears, not the "oh crap another boy" kind). I feel so honored to be the mother of my sons.

So, I think when we find out if our newest little addition has indoor or outdoor plumbing, I'll be excited (the phrase "over the moon" comes to mind). But I'm also going to grieve for what we didn't get.