Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Update . . .

Alrighty, so for journaling purposes, I must do an update.  :)  I tend to get wordy with these, so we shall see . . .

She is handling being the only child at home quite well.  We were so super busy the first few weeks of school that she didn't have a lot of time at home missing her siblings.  So that was good, I guess, in some ways.  Things have slowed down for us, but we still do story-time once a week, she runs with me twice a week, has gymnastics once a week, goes VTing with me, and we go to Mostly Music once a week.  Plus the little errands we have to do now and again, the weekly laundry, prep for meals, and our bi-weekly grocery trips.  Sometimes we do "school" at home, but I haven't figured out the perfect schedule for that.  She does ask me, "When does Emmy and my brothers come home?"  She's sweet - for the most part - and fun to hung around - for the most part.  She is 100% cute.  I told her today that she was beautiful, but she said, "No, I'm cute."  So I told her, "You're beautiful, cute, pretty, and handsome."  She thought I was funny.  She likes to dress herself in the mornings - which is dandy.  But she still hates pants and so we'll see what it's like getting dressed in the wintertime.  (Actually, Friday's low here is 30.  Brrrrrr.)

I think she likes school.  She's happy going and happy when I pick her up, so I take those as very good signs.  But she's cranky about 2 seconds after coming home (but I can't tell if it's any more than usual???  or from the fact that she's held it in all day and gets to release it all on her lucky mother???).  Not always, but sometimes.  She does like to just go and play alone in her room - without Lucy.  But then she'll also cry to me because she wants someone over to play with.  She hasn't told me that school is "long" lately, so I guess that's good too.  She does tell me that sometimes school is boring.  Which it is at times, so I don't disagree with that.  She had to stay home for her first time this past Tuesday due to another UTI, but mainly from an earache.  Luckily the antibiotics for her UTI have probably helped with her possible ear infection.  I had several errands to do on Tuesday and so she had to come.  She wasn't happy and threw (screamed?) a nice fit - but later, on her own, so did say to me, "Sorry about my behavior Mom."  Awesome.  Maybe there is hope for her.  :)  She has friends in her class and tells me about some of the cute boys.  Oddly enough, she likes school lunch on the days she gets to eat it.  She likes her teacher.  She picks out her clothes each day.  She's a pretty cute kindergartner.

He always says he had a good day at school.  Great.  His best-buddy is Ivan, who is also in his class.  His teacher told me he is chatty.  His spelling needs improvement.  His penmanship, which was really nice in kindergarten, is not-so-nice now.  He is close to being in the "penmanship club" - not a club he wants to be in (a club in which the kids work on their handwriting).  When he takes his time, he has really nice handwriting.  On our hike last Saturday he said his teacher wanted fall leaves.  So he and I collected a bunch.  Then we made them in to a cool mobile with a tree branch and the leaves (which I lamenated) hanging down on fishing string.  It looked good, I think.  He gave it to his teacher.  He is in to football right now.  That's what he and his friends play at recess.  But yesterday he told me that he hates how some of the kids play because they tackle too rough.  Life is tough.  He does his homework when he should and with very minimal to zero complaining.  That's nice.  He's a pretty nice boy to have around.

He likes school, likes his teacher, and got new shoes for the first time.  New, new - as opposed to "new" hand-me-down shoes.  Ben took him and Jonas and it was probably good (for the boys' sake) because 1.  I would not have spent that much money, and 2.  I would have bought shoes that may not have been their first choice, but was their correct shoe-size. . . Man, moms are so boring.  Miles doesn't like doing his homework, but he's complaining less about it (I mean, it takes him soooo little time).  I don't think it's that he doesn't like doing it, it's just that he doesn't like doing it at our new-to-this-year scheduled time:  right after snack.  The boys have to read 20-minutes, too, each nite - but I don't make them do that until 7:30.  See, I'm not too horrible.  Miles was just accepted in to the "Gifted" program at his school.  I'm really happy about it.  Miles doesn't know what it's all about, but I think he'll like it.  It's only a few hours once a week, but I think it will be good.  I've always wondered how Miles would "test" for such a thing, because he is really and truly a brilliant boy (I don't think I'm saying that just because I am his mom . . .), but that doesn't always show itself on pen and paper.  He's a very intelligent critical thinker and extremely inquisitive and creative - not things that generally are tested.  He's involved with Cub Scouts and has to deal with me as his Cub Master.  :)  I like it and think it likes it - for the most part (not the part when I have to make him sit out for a few minutes during kickball . . .).

Overall, things are good.  I am disappointed in a few things at the kids' school, though.  Not their teachers, the kids like them and so that is a great start for me.  But I've only seen the principal like once or twice in all my comings and goings.  Maybe I was spoiled by our last principal - but she was out in the mornings greeting the kids as they came to school (and, perhaps, monitoring the parents and the whole car drop-off fiascoes), and out in the afternoons talking with parents or just being a presence.  I have heard great things about our new principal, but have had no experience with him personally to verify it.  We have not had a PAC (PTA) meeting yet - I would think a new principal would want to do that?  To meet parents?  To get things going?  Etc., etc.?  Yes?  Also, (Sorry about all my complaints!  Again, overall, I'm happy with school!)  my boys filled their reading log-sheets all summer long.  Thanks to my encouraging, of  course.  It was kind of a pain.  But it served two purposes:  1.  for the community library's summer reading program and 2.  for the schools' summer reading program.  The kids were shown at an end-of-year assembly some of the prizes for the summer reading program.  For every so many hours read, or sheets turned in, or something, raffle tickets would be awarded and then drawn for prizes at an assembly in the beginning of the year.  The kids have been in school something like 5 weeks and nothing has been said, mentioned, etc.  I don't think that's too cool.

Okay, now I'm getting wordy.  Those things I mentioned don't really matter so much as long as my kids are happy and learning.  Which I think they are.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Camp Scaredy-Cats - Our Last Summer Adventure of 2013

Well we decided to go on one last summer adventure.  We went to the same spot we went last year - though last year's name was Camp Barf because Miles threw up in the night.  Luckily, that didn't happen this time!  

 We didn't get off until a little later than ideal, so it got dark pretty quickly - by 8pm it was already dark.  But by then the kids had already played and played and we had eaten our yummy dinner.  We got the fire going strong and the kids roasted their marshmallows.

 Lucy made quite the mess.  Luckily, she didn't really like being sticky and messy and so she was done eating marshmallows.  Perfect!

 Miles was pretty excited about his marshmallows!

 Lucy and Ben just being cute.

 I'm not sure what Miles was doing here - I think he was pretending to be Big Foot or something.  He's wearing the bags that the camping chairs go in.  Cool.

The kids - especially the boys! - started to get really scared by this point!  I think I helped quite a bit when I told Miles to be quiet (the boy NEVER stops making noises!) because he was going to attract the animals!  Oh boy did that make them nervous.  They were hiding under their chairs and just being seriously ridiculous.  Sort of comical.  Sort of pathetic.  :)

 Our last trip to the bathroom before heading in to the tent for bed.  The kids were "sticking together like glue" because of their scared-ness.  They don't look it, but they were freaked!

 Oh having some fun in the tent getting our jammies on.

Falling asleep went like a dandy - oh except when we had to stick Miles outside the tent, alone, for a little time-out, i.e., time to chill and calm down.  Ha, that did not help him calm down!  He was sooooo scared.  I felt badly, but the kid has got to learn to listen and obey and control himself.  Finally, after listening to him yelling, then finally scream, "I hear something!  I really do!", we brought him back in.  He was quiet after that . . .

 Good morning, rise and shine!  It was a cool morning, but not super-freezing like last year.  This tree, which was not fallen last year, provided lots of fun for our kids.  They loved it and played and played on it.

 Even Emmy.  She was a "mine-shaft fairy," a "honey-sap fairy," and so on.

 Eating some warm oatmeal by the fire.

 Our cozy camp.

 So Jonas.  That kid.

We hung out in the morning, the kids played, we tried to find a geocache (but, darn it, I hadn't had time to set up our "new" GPS unit, so it was quite difficult and unsuccessful in finding the cache, but it was still a good little outing), then we packed up and drove a couple of miles to a trailhead to hike.  Ben had gone on this hike with the Young Men's High Adventure last year and has wanted to take us there to this one spot.  The hike started was a loud BANG!  From hunters - we passed them as we were heading up and they were heading down.  We were glad they were all done shooting and leaving the area.

 A fun and bouncy log - yeehaw.

 It was a beautiful hike!  We have done so many hikes in the pine trees that the aspens were a lovely change and I just loved it.  So pretty.

 A little bit of fall creeping in . . .

Well the kids - more specifically Jonas and Emmy - were pathetic!  Oh man.  I captured some of their moanings and wailings and gnashing of teeth on video, but I do love them and so I'll just keep that video for ourselves (and maybe some future blackmailing . . .).  I think I have figured something out:  my kids do much better on big hikes if they haven't camped out the night before.  Ben wasn't sure how long it would take us to reach the awesome vista point, but he was guessing, at first, maybe an hour.  But after  1 1/2 hours after hiking (mind you, it was pretty steep) we knew we needed to call it quits.  Jonas and Emmy were totally crying and couldn't "hike any more!"  Which they did, though . . .  We think, with kids, it probably would have been more like a 2 1/2 - 3 hour hike.  Which our kids have done, but apparently weren't in the mood for it this day.

 So we called this awesome rock our final destination.  We had a long lunch break and headed back.  The kids did great on the way down.  Jonas and I were together and he just booked it down!  He was super fast and just talked and talked all about the things (cars, planes, ice skates, houses) he was going to make for our Elf, Eljin.  Funny boy.  Ben and Miles' conversations included such things as "does a paleontologist need to know math", discussion and answers of "yes they do" (by Ben) and the why (by Miles), geology, and the such.  It was a fun time going down.

That's where we hiked.  Pretty amazing, huh?  It's really neat up there.

Anyways, I think it was the perfect ending to our summer and great beginning to our fall.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Projects I've Done

Sometime this week hopefully I'll do a school update, but not today!  I'm going to showcase what I've done.  Not because anything is super great, but just because I actually did a couple of projects!  Wow.  All were Pinterest-inspired.  Even though this first month of school has been ULTRA-busy (yes, even with just Lucy at home!), I finally managed to eek out some things.  Mostly at night, though, since my days are crazy (but I think I see a slowing-down in my near future.  Seriously.)

Okay, here we go:
 I have so wanted a little collection box for my boys, specifically Miles.  He is a hoarder collector.  But he just stashed it all on his windowsill and it looked super junky.  So I had seen lots of ideas on Pinterest.  But 1.  I couldn't make it.  and 2.  I felt bad asking Ben to make something.  So I decided I wanted to find a crate and use that.  So I did.  I love how it turned out.  I think it's awesome on his wall.  We found one for Jonas, too - his is not so full.  :)

 I actually had a baby shower to go to last week (and one this week) and so I decided to whip up something - in addition to the diapers that were requested.  I love dyeing onesies - so fun!  I dyed the above onesies (plus 4 more) and then cut out and ironed-on the appliques.  Fun!

 I also made this little taggie/crinkly thing.  I sewed a cereal bag in the middle of this one for its crinkly sound.  I had made one way back when for Lucy and she adored hers.

 Okay, so this is kind of hard to gauge its size, etc.  But I had seen these DIY canvas prints and have wanted to try it for a while.  I love, love, love this picture of the girls and so I decided to try it.  I printed up the picture from my computer on to tissue paper (it was taped to regular paper for easier feeding into the printer).  Then I mod-podged the 8x10 canvas, placed my tissue paper over it, smoothed out as best I could the bubbles, then applied Mod-Podge on top.  It's cute, I think.

 I made a bunch of little things for Lucy.  For her "homeschooling."  :)  This is an abacus.  I have Lucy draw a color card and then a number card.  Then she has to move over that many beads of that color.  At least that is how we'll use it for now.

 Matching!  I have seen this on Pinterest for a while now and my best-friend Csilla had done it as well.  So you just match up the clothespin with the right paint sample.  Simple, simple.  There are a couple of tricky ones (but not quite like Csilla - she was super tricky with hers  :), but Lucy - after questioning her if they were truly a match - realized it wasn't the right one.  This is also great for her fine-motor skills.  She really liked opening the clothespins with their matches and dumping the samples into the bag.

I finally made some popsicle-stick puzzles, too.  I went to the dollar store and found a calendar - a big wall one, but it came with a little one, too.  It's perfect!  I made 5 different kitty puzzles.  Each one is color coded - so Lucy can help find all the purple ones, or whatever ones we are doing.  She doesn't know her numbers at all, but when the puzzle is all together we count and so one day she will be familiar with the numbers.

Aw, cute, as Lucy would say.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Alaska, Day 5 and 6, Going Home . . .

Erin and I started the day with another run (actually, we started the day with Ben waking me, Lucy, and my mom up - he called my mom's cell phone . . . forgetting about the time change. . .).  Of course it was drizzly, but still a great run.  We ran along the harbor on the boardwalk.  Pretty cool.  Not something I do everyday.  :)

After that we pretty much got ready and packed our bags and headed up to Derek's for one last visit.  Derek showed us his "building" site - where he does all of his log work.  He has some cabins up there and it's just cool to see.  Someday I hope to have him build us one!  :)  He does some great work.

We said our goodbyes and then headed on to Anchorage, about 5 hours away.  While it was pouring in Valdez and sprinkling at Derek's place, it cleared in less than 15 miles and we had awesome weather and could see Amazing Alaska!  All that we missed on our drive out on Friday.  It's beauty is just incredible.  I didn't even get a picture of the majestic Wrangell Mountains.  Stunning.
 Heading out from Derek's place.

 We stopped here and took a look at the Matanuska Glacier.  So cool.  The kids had snack and we got to stretch our legs a bit.

 A closer look.

My cute sis and nephew.

We made it in to Anchorage before 7pm - and we had time to kill since our flight was scheduled for midnight.  So we went out to eat.  Then we went to the movie Planes.  It was an okay show.  Ollie held out for quite a while before finally succumbing to sleep.  Lucy stayed awake for the whole show: 

Then we drove to the airport parking, parked our rental car, then took the shuttle to the airport.  Ollie stayed asleep: 

Our plane was delayed on boarding, then once we boarded we had to wait because the wings had ice on them.  Oh bother.  But Lucy was out - way before we took off.  I think we took off close to 1 1/2 hours late.  Lucy and Ollie slept like champs - the entire time!  Even the landing didn't wake up Lucy!  Poor gal.  But, being late, caused my sis and Ollie to miss their connection  - just barely, though!  Her plane was right at the gate next to ours coming in and we could still see it when we arrived!  Bummer.  But Erin was able to get on another flight about 2 hours later.  So we got to hang out.  Erin and I checked our emails, the kids played play-do, etc.  Then Erin and Ollie finally boarded and Lucy and I headed out to find us some frozen yogurt.  Yum!  Lucy ended up getting ice cream . . .
I think she liked it.

Then we went up the escalators, visited a toy store, then headed to our gate.  Lucy fell asleep in my arms.  She's heavy.  But she only slept for about 15 minutes and then woke up when I put her down on our seat.  She was all chatty with a gal behind us who was flying with her 2-year old son.  She kept trying to talk, but those propellers are so loud it was hard to hear her!  Oh well, that didn't really stop her.  The flight was pretty uneventful, we landed, my friend picked us up, we got our luggage, drove home, then I was locked out!  Bummer!  I was so ready and anxious to shower and take a nap before I had to get the kids from school.  I ended up using our neighbor's phone and got a hold of Ben at work.  He had his boss drive over our keys.  I got in, put Lucy to nap, then took a shower.  I didn't have enough time to really nap and I was worried that if I did, I would just sleep through my alarm, so I didn't.

Emmy and Jonas both came running and jumped on me when I got them from school.  :)  It made me feel like they might actually like me.  Miles smiled - so the jury is still out if he likes me or not.

A great trip.  A really great trip!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alaska, Day Derek and Renee Get Married!

September 8th, 2013

 We got up there (Derek's place) an hour or so before the actual wedding was to happen and so Derek took us on a little walk from his cabin.  My dad kept saying that we should head back as we should help and such, but Derek kept telling him, "There is nothing to do."  Awesome.

 We chatted for a bit in Derek's cabin.  Again, this picture does no justice to the view from this large window in his cabin.  It's amazing!

 The bride and her niece-to-be Lucy.  :)

 Let the ceremony begin . . . Here is Derek getting a first look at his bride as she walks up the path.

 The lovely bride Renee.

 The wedding line - or something like that.  From left to right:  Josten, Colette (Renee's best-friend from college), Renee, Antoinette - a flower girl/daughter of Meg, Meg (the "officiator"?  I'm not sure what to call her, but she's their friend and neighbor and was able to marry them that day), and Derek.

 I stole this idea from my sis.  Kind of a fun shot.

 Renee:  "I do."

 Derek:  "I do."

 The rings.

 "I now pronounce you wife and husband!"  I'm not sure why she put wife first, but she did?!

 Now kiss!

 Their rings.  Lovely!  (Nice fingernails bro.)

 Aren't they cute?

 So sweet.

 The happy (and shocked) parents.  :)

Our family!

After the ceremony, we headed down the road a bit to a lodge.
 The wedding cake.

 Derek did all of the log work in the lodge's new addition.  It was pretty!

 Renee eating cake,

 Derek eating cake,
 and Lucy eating cake!

We stayed and visited for a bit, then Erin and I and our crew headed back to Valdez.  It didn't take Ollie and Lucy too long to fall asleep!  As we got closer to town, we decided to take a detour and drive down the road where we had seen the bears the day before.  We drove to the end of the road - and right when we were going to turn around, we saw a bear cross the road.  Cool.  Then when headed back on the road and found this bear:

We saw him get in the water and even get some fish.  Then we saw another bear up on the hillside going up.  Super cool.  Lucy was happy to be sleeping in the back . . .

A great day and we are so excited to have Renee as part of our family!