October 27, 2006

Two Weeks' Worth of Activities in One Post!

This will be the nutshell version with pictures of what we've been up to the last couple of weeks! Once I get caught up on here it is much easier to be consistent with posting. Here goes...

(As always, you can click on any picture to see a bigger version of it!)

OCTOBER 12--Mad Science Day

This was a home school co-op event. It wasn't the "Mad Science" that you may have heard about but rather a station event that allowed kids to visit 6 different tables to learn basic science concepts. Charis had a blast, and so did the boys, who were at their own little pre-school table doing such activities as playing with shaving cream, mixing paint colors, making leaf rubbings, etc. Since I spent most of my time keeping an eye on the boys, I didn't get to see much of Charis's activities. It was a well-organized event, and the kids all loved it.

I "caught" Charis finishing up this book on her own, a 178-page Bobbsey Twin story, the first book in the series! I had purchased the first 10 books to have as read-alouds, thinking we'd start them sometime during this school year. Little did I know that Charis was reading the book on her own in her room! She got so excited about finishing it, and Ted and I were frankly quite amazed to discover her accomplishment. She has since breezed through the next 3 books and is almost finished with book 5! (Her reading of those has been interrupted by a new reading project, Meet Felicity, one of the American Girl books that she got from Uncle Clint and Auntie Ski for her birthday!)

OCTOBER 15--Charis's Crafts
Charis has been into crafts pretty much since she was born. She has recently begun making her own paper projects using scraps I've given her. I've dumped a LOT of card stock scraps on her this month as I prepared materials for nearly 600 cards for my Christmas card workshops! She made this tu-tu for her stuffed bear--I don't know if you can see the ruffle on it, but we were impressed with the detail. Snuggle even has a hat with ear holes cut out and little ballet slippers! Other craft projects have included animal face masks for her and her brothers, I believe a rabbit, a bear, and a tiger.

OCTOBER 18--Birthday Kids
It just so happened that the well-child check-ups for my kids were scheduled on this day. We woke bright and early so we could leave for base by 7:30 a.m. The kids were great at the doctor's office for the most part. Tobin didn't want to say AHHH, and Charis refused to speak at all when the doctor asked her questions, but other than that they did well. (We've been trying to work with Charis on courtesy issues...now that she is 6, we feel it's important that she communicates with adults when we are present. She's always been shy, but this is beyond shyness and has frustrated us because she does very well conversing with adults she knows. Any thoughts?)

We also had to update the kids' shots, so all 3 got poked today. Tobin, the Drama King, wailed so loudly I think surely Ted must have been able to hear him on the other side of base. Charis tried to be brave but did end up crying. And Arden? The little guy just sat there, munching on his fruit snacks as if nothing was going on! Of course, he seems to have the most body fat, so perhaps the poke in his legs didn't affect him the way it did his skinny little sister and muscular big brother.

But a happy thing also happened on their birthday--Grandma and Grandpa K drove into town to stay with us for a week! They didn't get in until we were at church for AWANA, but the kids had a great little visit with them before bedtime.

OCTOBER 20--Tour of the Thunderbirds hangar and TTF (Threat Training Facility) with Grandpa
Mom and I enjoyed a relaxing day at home while Dad, Ted, and the kids went to base. Ted took this day off. It worked out perfectly. I was able to finish setting up for my major Christmas card workshop Saturday morning, and Mom wrapped tons of birthday presents and even Christmas presents that she and Dad had brought along with them. The guys and the kids enjoyed their time on base. It was a gorgeous day, and you can see by what the kids are wearing that the weather was great!

OCTOBER 21--Bonnie Springs/Old Nevada
After my stamping class was over, our family drove to Bonnie Springs. We got a train ride from the parking lot to the entrance of the Old Nevada "town," a replica of an old western town with real buildings (not just false fronts). The kids had a blast--they really hadn't been introduced to cowboy culture before, but they were quickly drawn in! Grandma and Grandpa bought them all cowboy hats.

The first activity was a "deputy" show, during which all the kids who were around got to sit together and listen to a deputy talk about guns and gun safety. It was well done, and I commented to Ted that perhaps we should count our trip as a field trip and a day of school, especially since we hadn't had school but one day this week! Afterwards the kids received their deputy badges and helped chase a "bad guy" and put him in jail. In the picture below, you can see Tobin and Charis, the only kids with cowboy hats on. :-)

Then we got to wander around the town a bit before the melodrama began in the saloon. It was quite entertaining, though it did have its share of risque double entendre...glad it was over the kids' heads, but still! This is supposed to be a family event!

After that, the "bad guy" returned to town, and we went outside the saloon to watch the sheriff and his deputy give the bad dude a "trial" (for which my dad was picked to be defense attorney!) and then hanged him. Much humor abounded, and I think Tobin should have won a prize for most involved spectator. Every time the sheriff asked a question, even if rhetorical, Tobin answered in a very LOUD voice! For example:

Sheriff: What are we going to do with this scoundrel?
Tobin: HANG HIM!!!!!

(Note that Tobin had no idea what a hanging was until after this day!)

By the time all this was over, the sun was going down and it was getting quite cold. We went to the Bonnie Springs restaurant and enjoyed a yummy dinner there--country fried steak for Ted, Mom, and me, and buffalo steak for my dad, complete with salad, potatoes, gravy, bread...mmm! The kids were sure pooped by the time we got home after the 45-minute drive!

OCTOBER 22--Birthday Party!
This year we ended up combining the kids' parties. Arden was too little the last 2 years to really worry about an official party; we just did family activities. This year, since Grandma and Grandpa were only here a week, we decided we'd better combine the parties. In the future I plan to try to have separate special days for them--it's not their fault they share a birthday--but right now all their friends are from the same family anyway!

So we sent out invitations asking friends to come for some Fall Family Fun. We provided each family with a pumpkin for a pumpkin-carving/decorating contest, and families also made caramel apples to take home. The kids loved decorating their apples with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and candy corn, and most of the grown-ups enjoyed the anticipation of eating a caramel apple rolled in nuts! Mmmm! The trampoline was also a big hit and kept the kids from running about the house. Each family brought a side dish, and we provided drinks and appetizers and a Pumpkin Patch cake from Sam's Club. (Charis had requested a pumpkin cake!)

It was a great party--lots of fun, and the emphasis seemed to be on FAMILY fun as opposed to necessarily spotlighting OUR kids, which was my goal anyway. We did let the kids open the gifts that people brought, but we saved our plethora of family gifts for them to open the next night.

OCTOBER 24--Ultrasound
We were able to get our ultrasound done while Mom and Dad were here. Mom and Charis drove with me to base while Dad chose to stay home with the boys. Unfortunately the staff was about 45 minutes behind schedule, so by the time I got back there, Ted had to leave for a meeting. We got a couple of good pictures but of course heard nothing about the gender. We look forward to our FUN ultrasound (during which I won't have to have a full bladder!) in December and to finding out if this baby is indeed a girl or not.

OCTOBER 25--Goodbye :-(
Grandma and Grandpa K had to leave on this day. Charis was especially sad to see them go and spent some time crying and cuddling on my lap after they left. We began reading Little House in the Big Woods, though, and that seemed to help ease the pain. :-)

Whew! I'll quit for now. Those are the highlights of our last couple of weeks since I last posted. I'll try to start catching up with other daily details later!

October 09, 2006

A Story by Charis

Charis spent some time drawing and writing on the white board this afternoon, and she wrote a story. Here it is, original spelling and all ("toyo" is supposed to be "toys"...do you call that a write-o instead of a typo?!):

"Ben put his toyo away. He did not want to be late. Thay wre going to the games. It wude be fun. Ben wud get to play oun [one]. Thay wrue soon thare. The games wrue fun. Wune the games wrue ouer, thay winte home."

Notice the correct placement of capital letters, periods, and the comma in the last sentence! I was also impressed that even though she had misspellings, at least she was fairly consistent! :-)

October 08, 2006

Random Stuff

It's nearly 4:30 a.m. and I've been up for 2 hours. Such is my lot during pregnancy, I guess. I get up to go to the bathroom and can't get back to sleep (primarily because a certain someone in my bed snores!). Even after trying to sleep on the couch, I'm still awake and decided I might as well be awake doing something rather than nothing. Here are some random thoughts from a tired brain.

Last week's home school theme was Bedtime. We had some fun books from the library and some great stories/poems from our Sonlight books. The kids enjoyed the reading, but there was nothing terribly spectacular about the week. No field trips this time, unless you count the Land of Nod. ;-)

Charis passed her math test with flying colors--she's really getting this addition thing! I was delighted to see she got 20 out of 20 correct the first time. I was planning to take the rest of this Math-U-See book fairly slowly, because she's so young and I really wanted her to learn thoroughly rather than just get through the book. I think the week we took to review addition facts awhile back has paid off. It's nice to have the freedom to evaluate what my child needs and then do it, and it takes a lot of pressure off when I realize that I don't HAVE to be at any certain point in our lessons at any given time!

Tobin continues to improve his reading with amazing speed. We're now somewhere around lesson 75 or so in his 100 EZ Lessons book, and he surprises me by reading random things (like cereal boxes and t-shirts) out loud, reading words we didn't realize he could figure out yet! Once again, this is a lesson to me to never assume anything about my children or their abilities. "Everyone" said that boys need more time than girls do to grow and develop before they're ready for academics (probably the same "everyone" who said that boys are harder to potty train than girls--not so in our family). So I really did not intend to do anything even remotely formal with Tobin for another year or so. I figured he could color in workbooks or do whatever he was interested in doing, but I had no idea he'd be such a fluent reader at 4 1/2 years old. He was the one to initiate the reading lessons, saying he wanted to be able to read like Charis! He's not, however, interested in handwriting in the slightest--no surprise there! He's doing fairly well with writing numerals, but I haven't done any handwriting to speak of since we did a pre-K Handwriting Without Tears book last fall. It was a good introduction, but I don't think he's ready for anything else yet. He enjoys writing his name but doesn't seem interested in doing anything else but coloring, and I know that's good for his development as well.

I've been asked several times what I do with the boys when I'm home schooling Charis. We begin the day with Bible stories, verses, and prayer, so we're all doing that together. Then, truthfully, Tobin keeps busy with his own little math workbook and reading lessons while Charis works on her math and handwriting. He usually colors while Charis and I do her phonics and dictation exercises, and then it's time for Sonlight/library reading, which we all do together. So, Tobin's easy to work with right now.

And amazingly, so is Arden! I had all sorts of grand plans of setting up little learning stations for him to be playing at (and keeping busy with) while I schooled the other two, but he's figured out his own plan. He heads to the family room and plays with Wedgits, Lincoln Logs, or Superstructs...or, sometimes he stays in the school room and plays with the Math-U-See blocks. (His creations are getting more and more grandiose as the year progresses!)

The first week we "did" school this fall, I was a bit concerned about what to do with Arden, as he wanted only to sit on my lap or cling to my leg. I guess he's figured that whatever we're doing is not worth his time, because he has no problem leaving me alone now during our first activities. Often he comes to read with us on the couch when it's reading time, and it's nice to be together for that when he's interested.

So, thankfully, "what do you do with your pre-schoolers" is not really an issue at this point for us! I'm sure that will change when we add a baby to the mix, or when Arden gets a little bit older, but for now I'm enjoying the ease with which we are carrying out our schedule.

I've managed to maintain a reasonable exercise regime so far during this pregnancy. I had taken a few weeks off because of nausea and exhaustion at the beginning, but after I started to feel better, I began jogging again. For a few weeks I was doing a total of about 10-12 miles per week. (Since I had been doing 20-22 miles a week before I found out I was pregnant, this was not, I felt, unreasonable.) Gradually that number has dropped significantly! This past week I jogged a total of 3 3/4 miles, though I did walk a total of 2 1/4, so that has to count for something.

The doctor said I could continue exercising but to listen to my body. It seems my body is telling me it's time to slow down! I really want to continue doing something, even if I can't run 4-5 miles at a stretch (or even 1 1/2 or 2!), so I hope to at least go walking 3-4 times per week. It's nice that we now have our treadmill in our bedroom so that I can get exercise when Ted is at work. The mornings have been dark and blustery lately, so I have not actually exercised outside aside from my walk yesterday at lunch time when Ted and the kids played at the park.

October 04, 2006

Great Organizing Tool

At our September parent meeting our home school co-op focused on organization, always a great topic! I wanted to share some information about a wonderful tool that I heard about called the Desk Apprentice. Apparently it was created by a team on the show The Apprentice. Staples is the only office store that carries it. Since we have no Staples in Las Vegas, I went online and ordered 2 of these things (with free delivery--yay!). I can't wait to get them! I will use one in our home school area for all those floppy books (handwriting, 100 EZ Lessons, Tobin's little workbooks, Charis' math stuff, etc) that don't want to stay up when you take something out of the lineup.

The Desk Apprentice rotates and also has other areas for storage--you can even fit file folders in the middle--and I thought it was a pretty amazing invention, one that is perfect for our home school area as well as our family office space. (I have file folders and papers everywhere right now! I'm hoping this will help me get more organized in my office, too!)

Anyway, just thought I'd share in case anyone else needed some help with organizing materials!

October 03, 2006

Last Week Was for the Birds!

Or for studying birds, that is. We focused on birds as our theme during our school week and enjoyed re-reading many favorite Sonlight stories about birds as well as perusing a number of library books that told us more details about this part of God's creation. To cap off our week we visited a local bird sanctuary. Ted had Friday off work, so he was able to accompany us on this field trip. (We really don't plan to take a field trip EVERY week we do school...it's just worked out that so far, we have!)

Tobin's experience at the bird sanctuary began rather dramatically as he promptly stuck his finger in a parrot's cage only to receive a nasty nip. He spent the majority of the morning whining and asking to leave, not surprising after that traumatic introduction. It didn't help that the birds were extremely LOUD and startled him on more than one occasion! Arden and Charis, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind the noises at all, and having learned the cage lesson from Tobin, managed to refrain from sticking their fingers in the cages (mostly). At least no one else got bitten.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many different kinds of birds there were to see. I've driven and jogged past the outside of the sanctuary before and had seen ostriches and emus, but I didn't know they had such a huge variety. I'm no bird expert, by any means, but I remember seeing hens, roosters, turkeys, parakeets, cockatoos (probably at least a dozen or more varieties here!), peacocks, ducks, geese, some type of buzzard, love birds, doves, and of course the ostriches and emus. I'm sure there were others, but we didn't take notes.

We were there during feeding time for the ducks and geese and were amused to watch them frantically flock to the piles of bread and fruit that were unceremoniously dumped on the shore of the pond. Even Tobin cheered up a bit at this point as he watched. Arden and Charis were delighted by watching the ostriches bend to eat and bob their necks around as they watched us back.

There was a petting zoo as well, so we also saw pigs, donkeys, miniature horses, goats, llamas, and tortoises.

All in all, it was a good experience for the $11 we paid to get in and was a great way to cap off our week's look at birds.