Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eclipse (no vampires here)

Definitely worth missing a couple hours of sleep tonight. Let's hope I still feel the same way about it tomorrow. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Things I never thought I'd see/hear/say

...but have during the course of this semester:

"No Abram, we don't eat the manipulatives." -- Mom

"I want to learn Latin." -- Jacob

"Look Mom, it's a helium atom!" -- Jacob and Isaac, as they formed their gummi vitamins into a nucleus with orbiting electrons at the dinner table

"Is this Turkish March (by Mozart)?" -- Grace

The look on the librarian's face when Jacob asked her to help him find Homer's Odyssey.

Grace reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

'This song was written by George F. Handel." -- Jacob in Primary, when they began singing Joy to the World

"If a pound of butter costs $2.50, then each stick costs about 62 cents. Not exactly, because there are two cents left over." -- Isaac, while baking cookies with Mom

"We don't talk about killing people...except in the scriptures." -- Grace

Never a dull moment!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Homeschool Adventures

We dissected owl pellets at our homeschool book club after reading the novel "Poppy" by Avi.

Isaac fed the goats at our friend's farm.

The kids begged me to teach them to play chess. We played several games a day for weeks.

A praying mantis we found in our backyard.
(We actually watched it eat a live beetle!)

Creating ancient cave paintings

Um, I guess we could call this P.E.?

We currently use the Math-U-See curriculum. The kids loved "building" numbers with the blocks.

The Sears tower

The Great Pyramid at Giza

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coming to a Christmas Card Near You...

My talented friend Tifani took us out for a photo shoot last week. She did an amazing job. Some of my favorites:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's 9:19. Do you know where your kids are?

Mine snuck a hymnal upstairs to their darkened bedroom and are singing "All Creatures of Our God and King." With their best vibrato. I don't think it gets better than this. :)

Catch of the Day

Each month, Marty takes one of the kids out on a date. This month it's Jacob's turn. Armed with worms, marshmallows, cheese-flavored glitter bites, and two kinds of Powerbait, they set out to conquer the fish pond. So this was dinner yesterday. Way to go, Jacob!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Possibly Our Best FHE Lesson Ever

I'll let you in on a little secret. My children are, in almost all respects, fairly civilized. They all wear clothing. Three out of four can use utensils at the dinner table. Their mouths can form the words "please" and "thank you" if they really want something, and the phrase "I'm sorry" if threatened. They sleep in beds. They will put on shoes if it is below freezing outside. But...

they cannot use a toilet properly to save their life.

After yet another bathroom flooding incident yesterday, this was our Family Home Evening lesson:

Toilet Test

1. When you use the toilet, there are several steps you must complete (besides the obvious.) Please put the following steps in order:

a. Put down the lid
b. Wash your hands
c. Flush the toilet
d. Dry your hands
e. Put up the seat
f. Put up the lid
g. Wipe your bottom

2. How much toilet paper should you use?

a. Half a mile
b. Two rolls
c. A piece the length of this house
d. A piece the length of your arm

3. How many times should you flush the toilet?

a. Zero
b. One
c. Two
d. As many as it takes – just ignore the overflowing water

4. How much will your parents charge you if you clog the toilet again?

a. $10
b. $20
c. $50
d. You don’t want to know

5. When you pee in the toilet, where should you aim?

a. At the flush handle
b. At the middle of the toilet bowl
c. At the floor in front of the toilet
d. At the bathtub

6. If you do not aim correctly, what will be your consequence?

a. You will clean the toilet every single day (possibly for the rest of your life)
b. You will build and use an outhouse in the backyard
c. You will be held personally responsible for Mommy’s mental breakdown
d. All of the above

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monsters on the Moon (A Fairy Tale)

{my version of Enkidu, half-man half-beast}

After reading the Epic of Gilgamesh, we drew our own mythical characters, and wrote a fairy tale starring them. This process produced lots of giggles in all of us. For your reading pleasure (or, you've been warned):

Monsters on the Moon
by Jacob, Isaac & Mom

Once upon a time, there were two monsters, Shozi and Enkidu. They were half-man and half-beast. They had many adventures together. One day they went to the moon in a monster ship. Their purpose was to take over the moon and destroy the aliens. When they arrived, they met a green, four-eyed alien named Eltenor. The alien was frightened. It spit tar at the invaders in self-defense, and stuck them to a big crater. What will the monsters do now?!

All of a sudden, a meteor hit the moon. It happened to land directly on the alien, smashing him to bits. The meteor was followed by a meteor SHOWER, which washed the tar off of the monsters. (That was lucky.) Now, back to the aliens. There were lots more of them.

The aliens were colored red or green, with black stripes and three eyes. They were furious at the death of their leader. They all cried together, “War on the monsters!!” Organizing their troops, they strapped on their laser guns and rolled out their meteor cannons. The monsters were starting to feel a little intimidated. “I think we’d better get out of here,” Enkidu said. Meanwhile, the aliens pulled out the instruction manuals for their cannons. (They were brand new from Moonmart, and the aliens had never actually fired them before.) Seizing the opportunity, the monsters grabbed the manuals and stuffed them into the cannons. The aliens fired, and the giant paper cannonballs caught fire, killing ten aliens. (That was unfortunate for the aliens.)

Plan B. The aliens fetched their moon buggies, in case a quick escape became necessary. They aimed their laser guns, and fired at the monsters. The monsters activated their force fields, which caused the lasers to ricochet back to the moon buggies, resulting in a giant explosion. The aliens were running out of options (and aliens.)

Plan C. The only thing left to do was escape! The few remaining moon natives retreated to their garages to retrieve their rocketships. Firing up the ignitions, they took off into outer space, hoping to start a new life as Martians. (It wouldn’t be easy – they were ILLEGAL aliens, after all.)

Meanwhile, back at the moon, the monsters planted their flag in the soil. They took a celebratory moonwalk, and radioed back to Houston. Mission accomplished, they headed back to earth, where they were hailed as heroes and awarded a lifetime supply of Moon Pies. They lived happily ever after. Well, at least until their next dangerous adventure….

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back to School (or Not)

We've been having an amazing time in our homeschool! I plan to post some of our favorite adventures so far.

This one is from Week One.

We are using "The Story of the World" Volume 1, by Susan Wise Bauer for our history curriculum. During our first week, we studied archealogy. Marty and I created an archealogical dig site in our backyard, and let the kids search for "artifacts." They sorted their findings, drew them in their sketchbooks, and charted them according to the grid quadrant in which the artifacts were found. Then we discussed what we could learn about this "ancient civilization" from what they left behind. Fascinating!

I had to laugh, though, at all the trash the boys found in their digging, instead of the large, obvious artifacts that Marty and I had planted. They got so excited over tiny bits of plastic, and rocks that "must be ancient arrowheads!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You Know What They Say About the Best-Laid Plans

This summer started out predictably. The kids got off the bus that last day, full of energy and anticipation, ready to begin our adventures. Oh, the joy of seeing months of sun and warmth stretch out in front of us, with their promise of picnics and swimming and ice cream cones! We immediately started in on our summer list of fun. And we had a fantastic time! With Abram getting a little older, I was starting to feel human again, and life was finally settling into a routine. Like I said, predictable.

The Plan: Relish my time with the kids all summer. Do all the things that make the season special to us. Build wonderful memories together. Continue to hold weekly den meetings for my little 8-year-old Cub Scouts. Send my boys back to school in the fall and settle into normalcy once again. I remember thinking, "This is nice. The forseeable future is laid out...no major changes on the horizon. I can just relax and enjoy the ride."

What? You're laughing? It sounded reasonable to me.

And then there was the Lord's plan. (I'd be willing to bet He was laughing too. At least a little.)

At the end of June, a good friend of mine from our Baltimore days stopped by to visit us for a night on her way across the country with her family. I was thrilled to see Angela again, and like good women, we talked all evening. Now, this friend is passionate about two of my favorite subjects: motherhood and education. She described her vision for raising her children, her beliefs about education, and the joy she finds in homeschooling her children. Her words rang true to me and I kept thinking, "THAT is exactly what I want." But of course, my plan was already laid out. And I'm NOT the type of mother who homeschools. I'm not patient or entertaining. I like quiet. I'm uptight and a bit of a control freak. I don't do stupid crafts.

Angela left the next morning (to this day I wonder how she managed to completely turn my life upside down in less than 20 hours,) but her words and the Spirit that accompanied them would not leave me alone. I started to research homeschooling and the particular method that Angela had shared with me. I read and pondered and prayed. I met with local parents who homeschool, and checked out curriculum. When I broached the subject to Marty (purely hypothetically, of course,) I expected him to say I was crazy and didn't I already have enough to do? And remember, I like quiet?? Instead he said: "Well, it's about time! I've always wanted that for our kids." Uh-oh, that's two strikes. Three if you count my 100% supportive mother (who homeschooled my brothers and me for a few years.)

To make a long story short, with the clear direction from the Lord that this was what we were supposed to do, we withdrew the boys from public school and are now having the time of our life teaching them at home. The list of blessings we have reaped so far is too extensive to write here. They will likely make a post of their own sometime in the future.

Definitely NOT part of my original plan, but infinitely better.

That wasn't the end of the changes, though. Three days after my friend left, I was called to be the Primary president in our ward.

The week after that, I was asked to accept a small position with our local Musicale - an association for music teachers and students. Because things always happen in three's, you know.

The moral of this story is, of course, never to plan anything. And don't even THINK the word "relax," let alone say it out loud. With all sincerity, though, I am ever so glad that His plan won out over mine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And Speaking of Birthdays

This little guy turned 1 last month! It's impossible to believe that it's already been a year since his birth. Abram is starting to walk almost constantly, says nothing but "dada" (especially when I try to get him to say "mama,") and is proficient in signing "more." He follows his siblings around, loves to play outside in the grass, and dances to classical music. He is a complete and total joy. Happy birthday, baby.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nine Years Ago Today

our lives changed forever.

Happy birthday, Jacob!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Summer: Check

Remember the Summer Checklist I wrote in June? We checked off 18 out of 24 items. And here are the photos to prove it.

(We accidently found a geochache on the same outing.)

Nothing says summer like backyard sprinklers.

Fireworks for the Fourth.

Jacob eating a hot dog during our backyard campout.

The boys listening while I read them ghost stories in the tent.
Notice Jacob's "I'm scared" face - totally faked for the camera.

Cute baby - not on the list, but how could I resist?

Our first trip to the splashpad.

Just playing at Grandpa's house.

The boys washing the mud out of their shoes after picking peas.

Reading "The Wizard of Oz" in the backyard.

Grace and Aunt Constance at the zoo.

Abram, also at the zoo.

Our second trip to the splashpad. Abram was beginning to warm up to the water.

Grace turned into a water-baby overnight.

Snowcones in the park.

We found some fantastic swimming teachers this summer, and both of the boys took lessons. I couldn't believe my eyes when both boys jumped off the diving board after only six lessons.

Abram meets a goat. The goat appeared equally curious.

Grace rode a pony at the Fair! I really thought she would chicken out once she got up there, but I was wrong. She still talks about it constantly. I don't know how I ended up with a horse girl - I've always been afraid of them.

Well, except for this kind. :)

Best. Summer. Ever.

What? It's over???