Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something for the Boys

Since we decided to give Sophie the American Girl doll for Valentines Day instead of waiting for her birthday I had been thinking and thinking about what I could get for the boys that would seem to be as exciting to them as this doll was to her. I try to be equal in my giving. I don't want anyone to think I play favorites. So I decided the boys would get a basketball hoop. I thought I could just go to Toys R Us the day before Valentines day and find one to give them. Silly me! All they had were full size ones or plastic ones. I wanted a sturdy middle size one that could grow with them. So the day before Valentines day I ended up just getting the boys basketballs with the promise that a hoop was coming. They were somewhat happy but I could tell Ian still felt like Sophie's gift was better (not that he wanted a doll, too).

With a little help from my mom I found a pretty good deal on just the hoop I was looking for. And you can't beat Free Shipping! Thank you Super Saver Shipping on Amazon!

So this morning I opened to front door (I was running to get the garbage and recycling bins out to the street because we forgot to do it last night) and I saw the huge box on our porch. They must have delivered it sometime after my husband got home from work last night at 7:30 this morning when I could hear the garbage truck down the street. (Yes I did make it just in time to have our trashed picked up.)

After we finished School this morning I decided we could put the hoop up. It is supposed to be easy to assemble. It took me about an hour and a half. I am sure it would have been faster if I had had another adult to help. But I got it eventually and the kids had a ball playing outside while I toiled over the hoop.

The boys had a great time shooting hoops for awhile once I finally got it up. They love getting to finally use those basket balls they got for Valentines day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meet Addy

I have been reading the American Girl books to Sophie each night as her Good Night book. We are them in historical order. We recently started the next American Girl which is Addy. She is the African American Slave girl living on a plantation in South Carolina. I read the first two chapters a few nights ago and Sophie was a little scared by the descriptions of slave life and then especially by Addy's family being split up and part sold to another owner.
I admit it is hard to read such things. And we discussed a little more about slavery and remembered our studies about the underground railroad we did with our FIAR unit on "Follow the Drinking Gourd" . But last night I read the next two chapters and I almost couldn't make it through the last few paragraphs. I don't know if it was just the emotion causing hormones that course through my body right now, but I was choked up. The Mother having to leave her one year old daughter on the plantation when Addy and her Mother run away to head north just struck an emotional cord. The baby would be heavy to carry and may make noise so they had to leave her behind. My voice got all shaky as I read the mother tell Addy this is what the plan was. I had to pause often in order to maintain composure while the story went on to describe Addy and her Mom sleeping for the last time with the little sister knowing they were going to leave her behind the next day.

I have never had this problem reading any of other American Girl books. I am sure it is because I am a mom and hate to think of ever having to leave any my children. Sophie didn't seem to be bothered by it at all. At least she didn't seemed to be. she didn't even comment about my reading.

The stories are usually pretty simple and episodic and not so emotionally charged. I hope I can make it through the rest of this book and the rest of the series.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Guess what came in the Mail today?

For Sophie's birthday, Grandma gave her a butterfly garden. We decided we would wait until spring to order them so we could release them when the flowers were all out. We finally sent in the coupon for the company to send us our butterflies about 2 months ago and figured they would send them when it was best to do so. Well... we found a little box on the step and got excited when we saw what was written on the outside of the box.

Now we just have to wait and watch as our little larvae grow.

It will be fun to see our beautiful butterflies in a few weeks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Making it Even

As we walked into the Perinatology Department to get our ultrasound today. We caused quite a stir. The nurses didn't know what to do with me, my husband and our three small children. At first they told us the kids would have to sit out side. Then another nurse saw the sad look on the kids face and said "lets see what the tech says". So we all walked back to the room where they were taking us and there was no problems having the whole family there to see the baby. This is something the kids have been so excited for. Sophie has been counting down the days until she would get to know whether the baby was a boy or a girl. They boys haven't shown quite as much excitement but were quick to get their shoes on when I told them it was time to go this afternoon. You would have thought I said we were headed to the park.

The first thing we saw when the tech started was the baby's bottom and it was pretty obvious it wasn't a boy. Sophie gave a little "hurray" and the boys gave a little sideways smile. (Ian really wanted another brother. Henry said "brother" too, but I don't think he was quite as firm in his choice.) I already felt like this one was a girl so was not surprised. So after that announcement the tech took us on a tour of our baby from the top of her head, through the four chambers of her heart, all through the organs of her stomach and down her legs all the way to the toes. It really is amazing what they are able to see. We made sure they got some really good looks at the face. After Sophie's cleft came as a such a surprise we want to know before hand if it is going to repeat. But there did appear to be two complete lips, which is good. It still doesn't out rule the possibility of a cleft pallet, but it is a very good sign!

We came home with a bunch of pictures like these.

What a relief to see such intricate details of this baby that is still too small for me to really feel move around. I just loved seeing the little legs kicking and that heart beating.

Well.... now... I get to pass on my large amount of boy clothes (anybody in need of some?) and air out some of the baby clothes Sophie wore almost 8 years ago. I can't believe I have kept them this long. I hope they aren't totally out of style.

Not every cookie needs Chocolate Chips

Today Sophie decided we needed to bake something. We have been studying fractions in Math this week and of course fractions mean cooking. So I said... we can make this really good Oatmeal Cookie Recipe we could try. "Do they have Chocolate Chips in them?" she asked. I told her these don't need Chocolate Chips. She didn't fully believe me and tried to convince me to throw in a few handfuls as we added the ingredients and mixed them together. My kids seem to think everything requires chips in it. (I made banana bread earlier this week and had to throw in some chips to make it a "dessert treat".)
After mixing all the ingredients together. Sophie sampled the dough a little skeptically but told me it tasted alright. The boys didn't seem to miss anything while they licked the beaters.

The cookies are made from a recipe that my Mom made all the time when I was growing up called "Pride of Iowa cookies". (Someone in Iowa must have made up this recipe??) I don't usually make them because they require coconut. But since I specifically bought some coconut last week to try these, I had some coconut in the fridge waiting for my next baking project.

In case you might be able to persuade your kids to eat cookies that don't have chocolate chips in them....

Pride of Iowa Cookies

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I usually leave these off but if you have walnuts then throw them in)

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside. Cream together shortening and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy, using electric mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats, coconut and walnuts. Form small 1 in balls and place on a greased baking sheet about 2" apart. Flatten each with floured tines of fork or bottom of a drinking glass. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets and cool on racks.

My kids certainly enjoyed their cookies and milk this afternoon and didn't even mention the missing chocolate chips.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I shouldn't fee Guilty

Today's Wordful Wednesday topic is Love for Self. This is often a hard topic since we are always told we need to serve others and as a mother there is an endless supply of others that need something. Kids and husbands always need attention and don't even mention that house and especially those bathrooms that never seem to get enough of my attention. My list of "to dos" each day is vast (and usually doesn't get touched). Stick a pedometer on me and I am sure I would rack up quite a number each day just running around my tiny house. I often wonder why I add on extra outside things to my schedule when I already have so much to do at home. And I haven't even mentioned all my church responsibilities. But most of those outside things are what keep me feeling connected to other people and give me a little "me" time.
Here are a few things that I do just for me.

I am a member of the YMCA. - I remember when my Mom joined Curves she told me a membership was only such and such and I thought it sounded like so much money each month. About 2 years ago I decided I needed to do something exercise related (walking through my house and the around the block just wasn't cutting it). I tried doing a stair stepper at home but I was always being interrupted or I just didn't fit it into my everyday life very well. I didn't think I could do a GYM because of the cost or because I have three kids. When would I go? But my YMCA membership has been worth every penny. I enjoy my morning swims or cardio work outs. My kids enjoy playing at the Kids Corner. I feel much better about myself and the exercise actually give me more energy than I used to have. Maybe it is just stamina but what ever it is... I can tell when I haven't gone.

Band - Just a year ago I joined a symphonic band. My husband doesn't love me having practice once a week but it has been so good for me to be able to play music again. Get my brain thinking in a different way. It has also helped me with my meager piano skills. Music in which ever form is getting easier to play.

Book Club - Book Club is only once a month but it has gotten me to read some books that I would not normally pick up. I am usually reading books but having a deadline is sometimes good. This is one the kids come to also so they see a bunch of Moms that read and discuss books. I think that is a good example to set for my kids as well.

On top of these few things outside of house, I have also been trying to work on creative projects at home like my quilts and crochet. And I always seem to have my nose in a book of some sort. My kids are getting used to the idea that I get my hour every afternoon to read my book.

I feel pretty lucky to have the time and means to have some "me" time. I am grateful for a husband that sees the need for me to be able to get out and do a few things on my own. He is willing to let me go off and play even though he has just had a long day at work and the last thing he wants to do is sit and read book after book to the kids and then get them ready for bed. But he does it. Just like I do it on occasion for him. Everyone needs a break once in awhile to recharge their batteries and we never should feel guilty for needing it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Quick Run Down

I am going to make this weeks report very short and quick. We did quite a bit but also have had rain for days on end which means we have been cooped up and a little crazy. You would think more school would get done then. No.... not really.

Math: I am going to start here because we did something different this week. Last week I had such a hard time with Sophie doing math that I decided this week we would just do Math games from Family Math. The Kids all loved this. They begged for more math games each day. I made sure some of the games were easy enough for the boys to participate with while still reviewing some of the skills Sophie already should be able to do.

Science: The Sun was the topic this week. We read a few books and watched a video about the sun. Nothing spectacular but they kids learned a lot.

History: We reviewed the 100 years war and Joan of Arc as well as moved on to the War of the Roses. I can't say Sophie was that interested in this one. Too many names and not enough interesting story. She did enjoy making the pop up tower of London and tried a few of her own pop up things later in the week.

Music: We read the next chapter of Joseph Haydn the merry little peasant. We really enjoy these Opal Wheeler books and have the CD to go with it so we listen to the songs as they come up in the book.

Language Arts: We read a lesson from our McGuffey's Reader each day. And Sophie did three lessons from the Primary Language Lessons book. This is still a struggle each day yet she does do it. Somehow I need to make this more fun and less like boring work. But then when is copy work or dictation that fun.
Ian did do another batch of pages from his Explode the Code primer and is doing better at reading some of his McGuffey's Reader. He doesn't have the drive to read like Sophie did so is taking his time learning this skill.

We have been listening to the Burgess Animal Book for children in the afternoons and have finally made it all the way through all the chapters on the Rodents. We have repeated a number of them several times.

We painted our Trinket Boxes that the kids made at Home Depot on Saturday when we made it to the Kids Workshop they always do the first Saturday of each month.

Sorry the quick run down wasn't so quick.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sophie's Heart's Desire.

For the past year or more Sophie has been very excited about the American Girls. We read Kaya last spring and have been making our way through the different series' of books. We have recieved the American Girl catalog in the mail every few weeks and each time it comes Sophie has poured over it for hours. She could tell you all about each of the dolls and what each one comes with. We have always discussed how expensive these dolls are and tried not to get her hopes up. She did get one of the mini dolls for Christmas but she just had her heart set on a big one.
Sophie has never been a doll player. She never had baby dolls that she fed and took care of even though both Grandmas would have tried. She has always preferred animals. She has an endless assortment of animals and she has taken care of them like little children. She wanted an Alice in Wonderland doll a few years ago when she saw one in the store. Grandma made sure Alice came to our house that Christmas. Alice hasn't gotten a lot of play time. Mostly she just sits on the shelf. So I was not overly excited about getting Sophie an expensive doll that she wouldn't even play with. But Sophie has persisted in this desire and talked and wished about the day she would get a doll of her own. She even picked out the one she wanted. She told me she would like a "Just like me doll" which means she wanted one that had brown hair and brown eyes like her.

After looking for a number of months on Ebay for a used doll. I bid on one not expecting to actually win it. But I did. The doll came and has sat in my closet for a few weeks. I thought she would be a great birthday gift for Soph but that is so many months away. My husband thought we should give it to her now since she is so excited about the dolls right now. Who knows what she will be when the birthday rolls around. So we settled on giving it to her for Valentines day. We don't usually give gifts like this for Valentines but this was special.

I told my, doll loving, mother about the American Girl Doll a number of weeks ago when I won the auction. She was excited that Sophie was showing interest in dolls and decided to make a few extra outfits for this American Girl. They arrived this week and Sophie was excited to try them on her new doll this morning.

Sophie didn't wait long to introduce her little Kaya doll to her "big" American Girl doll. I thought the little ones were all we were ever going to get for her but I guess luck changed that.
I know she is happy and excited about it.

When Sophie opened the box this morning she said "My first big American Girls doll". I hate to tell her it will most likely be her only American Girl doll.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For No Reason in Particular

Today I decided to make this:

I saw two cans of blackberries on my pantry shelves and thought they needed to be made into a pie. I don't usually make pie. Infact I think this pie dish has only been used 3 times in all the years since we received it as a wedding gift. I had to take it out of the original box in order to use it today. I was very surprised by how easy it was to make. For some reason I have it in my head that pie is hard. This took me a total of maybe 15 minutes to put together, pastry and all.

I know it isn't as good as my Mom's fresh blackberry pie that she makes each summer. She has fresh berries picked by my Dad. I only had a few cans that somehow showed up in our house. But I hope it turned out alright. The kids are very excited to give it a try tonight.

I am off now to the grocery to pick up some vanilla ice cream because of course berry pie has to be eaten a la mode.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Weekly Sum Up

Just for the records... this is what we have been studying this week.

Science: We started our Study of Space this week. We began with just an overview of the Universe. We read the two pages that talk generally about the universe form our Usborne Complete book of Astronomy and Space. I am using this book as our outline as to what we will be covering. We also read Seymour Simon's book about the Universe which was full of photos taken from the Hubble Telescope. We had some really good discussions this week about the theories as to how the universe was created. We talked about Big Bang and Intelligent Design. It gave us a reason to review what the scriptures say about the creation of the Universe. We were supposed to talk about the Sun but we just never got around to it. We will have to start with the Sun next week.

History: We covered two chapters from Story of the World this week. I had planned to only cover one. We listened to and read about the Black Death or Plague. The kids found it interesting but sort of sick. I didn't blame them. On Wednesday when we were supposed to study history again. I brought out a book to read some more about the the plague but the kids asked not to... they didn't want to hear any more about all the dead. I didn't blame them so we read the biography of our Musician for the Month...Haydn. They enjoyed that much better. On Friday I decided to go ahead and do the next chapter of SOTW which is about the Hundred Years war. Sophie really enjoyed the story of Joan of Arc except for the part where she is burned at the stake. We enjoyed the spread on the Hundred Years war that is in the Great Events that changed the world book.

The boys have had my husband read a few Joan of Arc story books to them as bed time stories. He said it was sort of strange to read about a burning at the stake and such to them before heading them into bed, but they choose the stories.
On Saturday the kids broke out the Playmobil knights and decided this one is Joan of Arc. It is the only knight that doesn't have a beard so it must be Joan.
She has been leading battles all day.
Sophie enjoyed the coloring page from the activity book so much she had to do it twice. One is of her leading the troops into battle and the others is just a ride in the countryside.

As for the other subjects...we have been going through the lessons like usual.

Sophie is still fighting math and any writing. I am still making her do it. We may have to do some Family Math for awhile because I don't want Sophie to hate Math. And I am afraid she is starting to really think it is just too hard for her. It isn't of course but she just has trouble focusing on it unless I am right there prodding her along. I can't do that so it takes her a very long time to do just a few problems. Writing isn't quite as much of a struggle but she still hates doing copywork. But her writing is improving.

Sophie doesn't mind reading and discussing the little stories we read out of our McGuffey Readers. And she reads the New Testament with us each day without complaint. I guess I should be happy with this.

We have been listening to Mary Poppins in the afternoons as well as some of Haydn's music. We of course had to listen to Rusty in Orchestraville since Haydn's Surprise Symphony is played. It is the only one of Haydn's pieces that Sophie recognizes.

Our Artist for the month hasn't been introduced yet. Sophie picked Frank Lloyd Wright as our "artist" and I haven't quite decided how to go about our study yet. I better come up with something quick or nothing will happen. We did get a few books from the library but most of them weren't from the children's section. But at least we can look at the photographs and talk about them.

Sophie also has Science club she goes to each week and the boys sit through. They played with snails this week. Racing them and examining them.

I guess that is about all the official school work we have been doing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Instead of blogging...

I haven't had much to say this week. I have been busy..... along with all the normal school and Mom related things required of me, I have been busy making blankets. A few weeks ago my Dad and Brother came to stay with us one night so that they could get to the airport early the next morning. We were scrambling to find blankets for our guests. We have piled them onto our own beds and didn't have many left for any visitors that may come by. A state I felt we needed to remedy. So I hit a good sale on yarn and started a large crocheted afghan.Ian picked the color and he choose a very nice raspberry red color. It looks very nice with the pattern I decided to do. I have made a number of baby blankets in this stitch but never a full sized, big blanket. But it looks very nice. I am on my last ball of yarn and should be done soon. I have been keeping my hands busy while the kids watch a movie or listen to audio books each afternoon and then again and night when I need something to keep me awake while trying to finish a movie with my husband. Usually I fall asleep 15 minutes into any movie we start unless I have my crochet hook going.

I cleaned out my closet a few weeks ago. I took out all the clothes that I wear regularly but were already starting to feel tight and put them in a box to make room for my maternity clothes which I will be needing shortly. In the process I also made a stack of all the pants, shirts and skirts that I haven't worn in over a year. They are the ones that are either out of style, don't fit or that have some flaw like a zipper that doesn't stay up. I hated to see all those jeans and pants go to goodwill so I came up with a different plan. Since we have a need for more blankets I thought I would use those pants to make a quilt top. I finally got around to cutting them up into squares last week and then this week I have been busy sewing them together.

Since some of the squares still have the pockets on them, it was decided that this quilt would be Ian's. He loves pockets and complains when I lay out a pair of pants for him that don't have pockets. When this happens he feels the need to wear a little pouch from the dress up box to hold his treasures in. So the pocket quilt was for Ian. I took the kids to the fabric store to pick out a fabric for the back. We went to the flannels that were on sale and Ian picked one with neon pink, yellow and orange dolphins on it. It is his quilt and you can't beat 50% off so we bought it and it became the underside of his quilt. I have spent the last few days quilting this blanket. I finally finished the edges today. It is all machine quilted so didn't take too long. Although, I now know why they have denim needles for the sewing machine. I broke about 4 needles while trying to quilt this before finally deciding to head back to the fabric store to buy denim needles for my machine. It went much more smoothly after that!

Here is the finished product. Ian is very happy with it and loves the pockets.
He is thrilled to sleep under his new blanket tonight. I am happy to have that project done. I am not a quilter. I have only made one other quilt on my own. And don't look too close because the square's corners don't all line up and the quilting lines are a bit wavy. It certainly isn't going to win any awards but we now have another blanket.

While at the fabric store, one of the many times we went the last few days, Henry picked out some Halloween fabric that was 75% off. Henry has a thing for skeletons and the color orange. We ended up bringing it home, so I guess I will be making him a quilt next. But I think I will take a break for a little bit and just read a book or something.