Saturday, March 31, 2012

Catch-Up #4: Cuteness

 All right, so I just couldn't leave off without a few shameless 'isn't my baby adorable?!?' pictures.  Because she really, really is!

Not much to say here, she's just cute!

Almost ten months old in this one.  According to her life is an absolute riot!

Too cute for words.  We are in serious trouble when it's time to say no.

This one cracks me up because it really shows her personality.  Life's a party, just ask her!

What do you mean, you don't want me to learn how to climb the stairs?!?

Little curls starting to show up . . .

Ten and a half months old, looking like a hot mess, but loving hanging out with Daddy!

 We are just so blessed to have this little angel in our midst.  I pray for her birth mother all the time I hope she is at peace knowing that her daughter lives the charmed life of the utterly adored.

Catch-Up #3: Life

In other news, it's been a big couple of months for us!  My parents were here for a visit (they come all the way from Western Canada, so it's kind of a big deal when they make it out), Leia learned to crawl and Jake was baptized! 

Leia and Grandma hanging out in the morning.  Not sure who enjoyed this more!

Chase busy building bird houses with Grandpa.

The whole crew!

Leia chilling with Grandpa.

She's crawling!

Jake, with Pastor TJ right before he was baptized.  The day was extra special since his friend Savannah Lynn was being baptized, too!

Watching his video testimony, waiting to be dunked.

Jake and Savannah at the family party afterwards.

Nothing says 'Happy Baptism' like ice cream cake!

So many cool memories made this past couple of months . . .

Catch-up #2: Homeschool Highlights

Since we're moving really soon (just over three weeks now -- yikes!) we have been focusing on getting through our main curriculum and cutting out a lot of the extras (read:  we've been having much less fun as of late).  We have, however, managed to squeak in a few notable moments . . .

This was really fun.  For some extra practice with fractions, they were given 'recipe' sheets (found in a Math Art book).  Each recipe added up to one teaspoon and they had to fill in the missing fraction, measure the amounts out in colored playdough, then blend to make a new color and note what they discovered.  They had a blast doing it, and although I think it was just fun for Jake, Chase really got a lot out of the activity.

We spent most of February studying Lewis and Clark.  One day they went into the back yard and collected 'specimens' to draw and describe for President Jefferson.

A field trip to the Shenandoah Caverns.  Our guide was amazing and went out of her way to make sure the kids learned a little geology while we were there!

Route 11 Potato Chip factory.  A quick stop, but really fun to watch the whole process of how they make the chips.  Of course there were samples, which really improved the experience . . .

The cherry blossoms came early this year, so we spent an afternoon in early March painting them. By making the background and trees out of watercolor and then adding acrylic with q-tips for the blossoms, we got a kind of layered effect that looked very cool when finished.

Mandan boats!  While reading about Lewis and Clark we learned about bull boats and decided to try making a model with wet paper bags as the buffalo hide and tag board as the willow frame.

When they were finished we painted them with sealer to make them water tight.  Very fun project!

The boys found an ipad app for Leia.  The child lives a charmed life.

Another field trip, this one to the Richmond Zoo!  We had a great time enjoying the Spring weather!

All right, so we HAVE done some cool stuff.  Good.  Now I don't feel so badly about all of the slave driving that's been going on around here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Catching Up #1: Valentine's Day

All right, so someone was joking about my quarterly blog the other day and I decided I had better get my hiney in gear and get caught up so that I'll start blogging again without having a panic attack over how far behind I've gotten!  So, here goes a series of  'catch-up' posts . . .  Tracking back to Valentine's Day, I just have to say that my kids were totally blessed and also got to BE a blessing.  They started out with a ridiculously fun Co-op Valentines Day party at the House of Bounce in Manassas, VA.  For you local readers, that place is the bomb.  Nicest staff ever, comfy couch area for the parents, free soda/coffee for the parents.  Awesome.  So they got to go insane with fifty-some odd of their closest friends, stuff Valentine boxes and eat themselves into a candy coma on the way home.  Not too shabby considering Valentines Day isn't even meant for kids, if we're being honest.

Leia, all dressed up for the party -- can't you just feel the enthusiasm?!?

Valentine box chaos.

Silly guy, having a great time!

The only time he stood still long enough for me to snap a picture!

So after all of that fun had come and gone, we set to the business of Valentine making.  Together with a few friends, we made a ton of Valentines to take to a nursing home in the area.  We were actually able to go right on Valentines Day and attend a little party they were throwing for the seniors.  The kids had a blast handing out cards and then helping to serve food and punch at the party and the residents were just thrilled to have them.  This is the second year that we have done this on Valentines Day and I have every intention of making it an annual tradition -- so good for everyone involved!  We were so busy visiting that I didn't get too many pictures, but this one will give you the idea . . .

Somehow none of my own kids even made it into this shot, but you can see some of the others handing out their cards.

The hit of the party -- the ladies were just thrilled to coo over her and pat her hands and feet.  She's such a patient girl, she just hung out and let everyone goo over her at will.

In summary, if you are looking for something easy and meaningful to do with your kids, swing them by a nursing home -- the residents will be thrilled to meet them!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Do you ever look around your house and think, "where on earth did all this stuff come from?!?"  No?  Just me?  I'm convinced some errant junk fairy is procuring random crap and dumping it off in my house while I sleep.  SO, I am super thankful that we are moving in a few months, as it gives me extra motivation to clean out, get rid of, burn, blow up (well, you get the idea) massive amounts of 'stuff' that we are not using and probably shouldn't have brought into the house in the first place.  The best part is how easy charities make this process for lazy people like myself.  All I have to do is bag or box the junk, then stick it in the garage and wait for someone to call and inform me that a pickup truck will be in my area.  This happens about every two weeks.  It's a beautiful thing.

So we are gleefully making junk piles and stuffing clothing into leaf bags (all in the name of charity, of course) and shaking our heads at the amount of excess that has built up in our lives when the boys and I start reading Little House on the Prairie.  Do you realize that a family of five packed up enough to live on in a WAGON and headed off into the wilds, totally unconcerned about whether or not Amazon Prime would work out there?!?  The comparison to modern North American life is so jarring here as to be unsettling.  There is no way we need this much STUFF!  I'm told I need to read Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven, but I'm afraid to.  I'll see if I'm feeling braver next week. 

Anyway, enough rambling, I know most of you who read this blog are really just here to see pics of the kids and what we are up to in our crazy home school, so I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  A few highlights from the past couple of weeks . . .

Remember how a couple of posts ago I mentioned that we were starting weekly acts of thankfulness/kindness?  So we did in fact, make cards for families whose Christmas light displays gave us much joy.  And we made cards for our neighbors (because we have really great neighbors), and then our church announced that it was collecting money for the Sanctity of Life Ministry, to help them buy a new ultra sound machine.  As you will recall, our baby girl is adopted, so these types of ministries are very near and dear to our hearts.  We are all aware of how easily she could have been another abortion statistic, and we are so very grateful to people who present girls facing unplanned pregnancies with options.

When the boys and I were talking about the baby bottle campaign (to fill baby bottles with coins, etc. then turn them back in at the church) they both ran for their wallets.  Without a word of prompting from me, they completely emptied their change purses, then scoured the house for more coins.  Upon being a little sad that it wasn't completely full, Jake commented that he wished they could put paper dollars in there.  I told him that he could if he wished . . . and they both emptied all of their carefully saved dollars out of their wallets, rolled them up and tucked them into that bottle.  I was so proud of them.  They were so excited to be contributing to this cause and commented that this was a great way to show how thankful we are for their baby sister.  Heart melting.

But really, who wouldn't be thankful for this adorable little blessing?!?

So one afternoon we headed down town to meet some friends at a children's play museum.  Leia was entertaining us all with her fish lips (which she had never done before and has never done since, so thanks Holly for capturing it on film!) and the rest of the kids had the run of the place and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

They spent a long time playing store . . .

And Jake took up bull riding . . .

We finished up with a fun lunch at a Latin restaurant where the boys had a blast practicing their Spanish on the ever-so-patient server and Leia ate her body weight in plantains and beans.  We are so blessed to have such fun friends to hang out with!

One of the cooler art projects we've done lately.  I love That Artist Woman's blog ( and we pull a lot of our ideas off of there.  This one was a brief lesson in color theory (color wheels, and we added in a bit of discussion on primary, secondary and complementary) that winds up being a very cool gecko picture.  The instructions are on her blog, but the finished product was a color-changing gecko (you spin the wheel behind the cutout) that the boys were pretty excited about.

Here it is -- fun for a rainy day for those of you whose children have other teachers :-)

We are just wrapping up a study of Thomas Jefferson, so we decided that a field trip to Monticello was in order.  What a cool place!  This picture has the boys in front of the same side of the house that is pictured on the U.S. nickel!  It was more than a little disconcerting to see the evidence of such a massive amount of slaves who were kept there (by the same man who penned the "all men are created equal" line -- mind boggling, really) but other than that it was a great day.  The inside of the house was amazingly well kept, and the boys came off sounding like rock stars on the all-adult tour, which earned me a "good job, home school" from my hubby (he usually reserves those comments for when the boys do something completely idiotic).

Here in the Discovery Room Jake is testing out a polygraph copying machine, just like the one on display in Jefferson's office. Writing neatly with those things is a bit of a challenge!

Chase doing a rubbing of the self-penned epitaph on Jefferson's tombstone.  Interesting that he chose to be remembered for the Declaration of Independence, the Religious Freedom Act for Virginia and the University of Virginia, but not for his presidency.

Figured I should include this picture from the restaurant we ate lunch at just to prove that she was there.  Documentation is everything, I hear.

We're really enjoying our Spanish curriculum, La Clase Divertida, which includes a lot of Mexican culture projects in Level One.  Here the boys were working on (faux) Fried Ice Cream.  They were huge fans.  Maybe one day I'll get ambitious and make them the real thing.  Or not.

Leia entertaining herself in the school room one day.  She was having such a good time that we didn't have the heart to stop her.

The other fun Spanish project they did lately was a family tree, with Spanish labels (abuela, tio, etc.).  I was surprised by how into this they were -- as soon as Chase finished this he asked if we could hang it up :-)

All right, I should go and find another closet to gut, but thanks for stopping by, and until next time . . .


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Sun'll Come Out . . . Tomorrow!

It's been a crappy couple of weeks.  Really.  The tantrums have abounded (mostly the kids, but admittedly I've had my fair share), I've put myself in time out more times than I care to count, I've broken things (not on purpose, I promise), frozen things (like my mother's credit card while trying to book her a flight to come and visit) and have generally been in various states of disarray and disgruntlement (good word, right?!?) for the better part of two weeks.  Can anyone hear Annie singing about how the sun will come out tomorrow?!?  I can.  Because things are bound to start looking up. 

Now that I have prefaced with that, let me be clear:  I am totally blessed.   Each night I tucked my three beautiful messes into bed and thanked God that I have them.  Then I crawled into bed beside my always warm husband (wasn't it nice of God to pay attention to the fact that I am always cold and offer a cost-effective solution?!?) and stared at the ceiling of this beautiful house that we are living in and thought about how laughable all these things that were getting under my skin really are.  So, I started clicking.  With the camera.  Things that made me smile, things that made my heart squish, things that cracked me up.  Things to be thankful for.  And this is what I came up with:

The day we were trying to accomplish something in the school room and Leia kept pulling her hat sideways.  As if we could focus with all of those pirate comments just waiting to be spoken and laughed about.  By the way, kids are terrible at pirate accents.
 The adorable little purse I made for my niece.  Finishing projects makes me happy.  No need to think about the fact that this purse was intended as an eighth birthday present and she will be nine this spring . . . whatever.  I hear nine year olds are much more into owl purses anyway.
The morning when Jake complained that I was always taking pictures of the baby.  So I took one of him.  And showed him why I'm always taking pictures of the baby.  I start giggling every time I look at this picture.
 Our Science curriculum.  It's fantastic.  Anything that allows -- no, instructs small boys to "vigorously shake" something for a full six minutes wins a thumbs up in my books.  Look at those crazy-eyes . . . all because he's shaking rocks.  Remember when joy was that simple?  Me neither.
 Would someone get this poor child some toys?!?  She has absolutely NOTHING to play with.
 So my uber-generous in-laws bought my hubby an espresso machine for Christmas a couple of years ago.  The result is that I get beautiful, silky lattes made FOR ME every Saturday morning.  I love it.  True confession:  for two full years I refused to touch the machine, for fear that I would learn how to make my own lattes and the 'made for me' variety would stop coming.  I finally broke down this month and learned how to make a sub-par version and guess what?!?  The Saturday ones are still in play!  As far as he knows, I will never be able to make a latte like he can.  Ever.

The other part of our Saturday ritual.  The boys get to eat crap cereal (Saturday cereal) dry and play video games while we sleep in.  The modern version of Saturday morning cartoons.  Then we get to drink coffee and laugh at their sorry moves when they play Just Dance.  Everybody wins.

All right, so Saturday was a pretty great day, despite the fact that it was preceded by a crappy week.  We'd been graced with an inch of ice overnight, so naturally a jammie day was called for.  I decided to make cinnamon rolls and at some point glanced into the living room.  And realized that the view really didn't get much better.  What was I so irritated about again?  Who knows.

A notable first:  Leia getting into her brothers' toys.  That was one happy child, as she rummaged through the box, sucked on the planks, dumped the box . . . and then blinked and smiled at the boys when they discovered the mess she'd made.  The sweet, sweet knowledge that nobody could expect her to clean it up.

So this one might win the prize for the week.  Chase asks if he can go outside (it's cold, and the yard is one big sheet of ice, but sure, go ahead!  I'm sure every responsible parent would say yes . . .), gets dressed and clumps out the back door.  A few minutes later I walk by the sliding door and see this.  On hearing me laugh, Ben looks out and says, "The boy just isn't right."  This is all very funny until Chase comes in and tells me how much he enjoyed eating ice.  I tell him that I hope he was careful to get ice that Mischief (our dog) hadn't peed on and he is quick to assure me that none of the ice tasted like pee, so that was clearly not a problem.  I heard Ben moaning in the other room.  Something about how Leia had better do something extraordinary, as we probably couldn't count on Chase to support us in our old age.

Really, what could I follow that up with?!?

Until next time . . .