Friday, February 28, 2014

Homeschoolers Don't Get "Snow Days"

1.  This time last year, we were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.  We had a hard time getting all the homeschooling finished because we kept taking time off to enjoy the outside weather.  We just knew it was going to turn cold again, but it never did.  When the spring came around I was a bit disappointed that we didn't have many snow days.  After this winter, I take it all back!  I think I would rather have the warm winter over the bitterly cold one that we had this year.  Technically, we're still having it...they've predicted another ice storm for our area starting this weekend!

2.  So what have we been doing while the below zero temps have kept us indoors?  We went roller skating.
Princess learned to skate this year
Older boys rockin their in-lines
Toddler Boy loves the arcade games
Game Boy spends 1/2 his time in wheels and 1/2 out
Of course, there are snacks too!

Our local skating rink has a "homeschool day" set up once a month.  All the area homeschoolers come one afternoon a month so the kids get to hang with their friends from the group.  I pretty much stay off wheels while we're there.  I spend my time visiting with the other moms and chasing Toddler Boy around the arcade and snack area.

3.  The month of January I did a Whole30 paleo diet and lost 22 lbs. in the process.  I'm just impressed I didn't die, I live for carbs.  My weight had been slowly creeping up again and I felt like I needed to do something extreme to shake up my system.  I'll dedicate a whole post to it soon, but overall I felt better and didn't crave the carbs once I totally stopped eating them.

4.  I chose the month of January to do the Whole30 challenge because birthday season at our house is in March.  Since becoming Catholic, the Lenten season has always been a bit tricky.  Almost all of our family's birthdays fall during Lent, this year 4 out of 7 occur during a time when we're supposed to be not celebrating.  What we normally do is hold our big party on a Sunday, with cake and presents from their grandparents.  On their actual birthday they get birthday presents from mom and dad and we make their favorite meal or go out to a restaurant of their choice.  Sometimes we do kid parties, but not every year.  It is difficult for us to do kid parties because their friends are not segregated into age groups.  They share many of their friends, so the same friends would be coming to a party at our house every weekend for a month.

5.  Princess is about to lose her first tooth!  One of her bottom teeth is loose and she keeps messing with it and eating apples hoping to get it out.  She is super, super excited about the tooth fairy leaving her something.  Our family has not done well in the fairy department in the past, our fairy tends to sleep in or arrives a few days late.  This time, I plan on being prepared.  I'll have Doug bring home some one dollar coins from the bank for our "tooth fairy stash".

6.  I just wrote in my last post about how Doug is never, ever sick.  However, this week he caught the stomach flu so he has been home recuperating for the last couple days.  I tried to keep the normal homeschool day schedule up as much as possible while he was here.  The first day off he was basically quarantined to our bedroom but yesterday he was back to the land of the living.  We didn't get the lessons going until 10:30 that morning and he was surprised that we could get it all done (we did skip some writing lessons because Doug wanted me to run out with him for a quick shopping trip).  Had we not done that all the lessons would have been finished before supper.  When we start late we tend to do schooling up until 5:00pm.  If we have something going on in the afternoon we'll get up early and get all the lessons done before lunch (or right after, sometimes we have to go until 1:00 or 1:30).  The flexibility is one of the things I love about this lifestyle.  Being available to take care of sick loved ones is also one of the things I love about being a homemaker.  The last couple of days have been really busy and somewhat stressful.  Sometimes I need a reminder as to why I choose this and what a gift it really is to be able to stay home with my family.

Still in the box!
7.  I'm got a new kindle in the mail yesterday!!  Happy, happy days!  My kindle fire stopped charging on me, this is the third time this has happened.  Every time I have called amazon customer service and they have replaced my kindle.  Last time they were supposed to send me a second generation but something in the order form got mixed up and they sent me a replacement first generation.  I didn't know the difference and when I called them two days ago they apologized for the mix up and are now sending me the correct kindle.  I am not particularly happy about the charging issues with the first generation kindle fires but I am happy with amazon's customer service.  I've always been able to get right through to someone and they've always been polite and quick.  Every time I get a new kindle I say I'm not going to let the kids use it and then eventually I cave and let them play games/watch videos.  At that point the device ceases to be mine because the kids keep using up the battery.

8.  Bonus take...I just came across this video on Facebook and thought I would share.  Frozen's "Let It Go", a mommy version:

I'm off to play with the new device...check out more 7 Quick Takes with Jen at Conversion Diary!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Soccer Boy's 12th Birthday

Happy Birthday!!
Soccer Boy turned 12 years old on January 9 of this year.  He is my only child that is officially born in the winter season, all of our other birthdays are in March and April.  We usually drive down to my parent's house to celebrate birthdays but we had a snow/ice storm come thru the area that weekend.  We were snowed in so we did cake at our house this year.

He wanted an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.  We ordered a cake that looked like this:

I spoke to the cake decorator on the phone, I mentioned we wanted the cake that was on the website.   Not a problem, right?  When we picked the cake up it looked like this:
Goldfish is exactly what we ordered!

Soccer Boy commented that he was glad that we didn't invite his friends over because that would have been embarrassing!  As it was, he didn't care overly much because the cake tasted just as good.
Make a wish!
The cake didn't last long...

Happy birthday to my favorite 12 year old!  Love ~~ Your Mom

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One Crazy New Year

This year is putting in a nomination for the category the year everything breaks down and needs to be replaced.  I mentioned in my last post how our digital camera had bit the dust right before Christmas.  So we went out and bought a new one.  Then the computer started acting up before we could even get the Christmas pictures downloaded off the new camera!  It all began with a misfire in one of the USB drives (there are 8 on my computer).  First the mouse stopped working (thank God for keyboard mouse commands, although incredibly slow they were a lifesaver).  We tried everything under the sun before realizing that it wasn't a mouse problem but a drive problem, specifically a hardware one.  Then all my USB connected devices started going crazy and we broke down and called our favorite computer guy to rescue us yet again (we love you Rusty)!  I know just enough about computer hardware to be considered dangerous.  Funny to think that at one time I was actually employed part time as a network administrator.  The computer and networking industry has jumped by leaps and bounds since I left the workforce 12 years ago to stay home with my babies.

As soon as the computer was operational again the washing machine stopped draining water.  The way you discover your washer has stopped draining is that you are left with a machine full of wet clothes and water.  This is where it pays off to have family live nearby (who happen to have a wet/dry vac, spare washing machine and a truck).  Doug's folks rescued us with a spare machine and they took ours and dropped it off at a repair shop/mechanic who fixes machines on the side.  As my dad would say, "it's all about who you know".  The job was done so fast I don't remember driving down to the laundromat once during the whole ordeal.  I got a cleaned up laundry room and a semi-cleaned out garage from the ordeal too.  The older boys and I spent an afternoon decluttering them just to get the washer in and out (and in again).

Next on the list, our van!  It started making a barely audible noise that turned into a cannot be ignored noise within two days.  My parents came to the rescue this time with a spare car that seats six while my precious spent a week in the shop.  About the time we got the van back (to the tune of $600) Doug's car got a flat tire while he was at work, and in the middle of the ice storm that hit a few days into the new year.  We spent the afternoon trying to fix it while freezing our tails off (and him in dress clothes).  You don't know fun until you try to change a tire, in dress clothes, in ice and slush in below zero wind chill.  Did I mention Doug had a terrible head cold at the time too?  That head cold took a turn for the worse after the tire trial and he battled it for three more weeks.  That's saying something considering this is a man who is never sick.  I don't even remember the last time he took a sick day.  Next time we'll just call our insurance for the fix.

Our last repair item to date is the upstairs bathroom toilet.  To be fair, this one had been giving us problems for awhile and we had been ignoring it.  We finally went out and got the replacement toilet that claims it can flush "40 golf balls at once".  We have that model toilet in our downstairs bathroom and have never had an issue with it.  It appears to be able to handle the occasional toy car or extra toilet paper that the kids love to flush.  One more item checked off the house upkeep list.

Nikon D3200

I am sincerely hoping that we don't have any more "surprise" issues with 2014.  Maybe this year has gotten them all out of it's system early?  One of the big reasons I took a blogging break was because of these back to back to back things that kept cropping up.  I want to be able to look back at this time and remember this insane month and be able to laugh (or at least, smile).  It reminds me to be grateful for the people in my life and how they help us, sometimes in very practical ways.  Sometimes you need someone to pray with you and sometimes you need practical help.  Occasionally, you need both.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

The finished tree
It did not stay that way the whole month!
Well, this post is only exactly two months late!  To start out the holiday season our family attended Rhonda from Christmas Notebook annual open house, which was as fabulous as ever.  Even better was the fact my children didn't spill punch on the couch or break any of the crystal ornaments on the Christmas trees.  Sorry, I have no pictures of the event.  It's way too hard to take a camera and chase the little ones, I count it as a win if we get out of there with everything in one piece!  The best part is always the company, Doug and I get to visit with some old friends, this year was no different.  We got to play catch up with a couple who were our high school youth leaders back in the day.

This year Doug and I got to commemorate our 15th wedding anniversary on December 12.  We actually "celebrated" it a few weekends later, we were supposed to go out Dec 14th but two nights before Princess caught a stomach bug (of course), then Toddler Boy caught it.  We had to reschedule the date weekend.  This was a real testing of my faith, let me tell you.  As a homeschool mom of many I was really looking forward to my "night off" with my hubby.  The kids don't spend many overnights away, so I can feel like I'm "always on duty".  I have to be careful to plan little snatches of alone time and prayer time into my days or I will risk burnout.  It's always a balancing act, and Doug is really good about keeping the kids if I need to go out for a few hours.  Finally everyone was healthy so my mom and dad kept the kids overnight so we could spend the day Christmas shopping, eating out and going to a movie.  We went to see the second Hunger Games movie and ate out at a couple of new restaurants.  The following morning Doug went to Mass with me, which hasn't happened since I came into the church in 2011.  It was so nice to be able to sit in the pew beside my husband at the Holy Mass.  I always go to church with him but he doesn't attend Mass with me, so it was a special gift.

We got all of our Christmas shopping finished up on our date weekend.  Then early Christmas Eve morning we headed to Doug's office party...
Goofing around in Dad's office

Princess with Santa

Toddler Boy having nothing to do with Santa!


I've talked before about how I really don't care for this office tradition.  The problem being how early we have to get everyone up on Christmas Eve.  It makes for a long day followed by an even longer evening because we usually attend Christmas Eve services.  Then we run the risk of the younger kiddos being crabby the next day, which of course is Christmas.  On top of that, the presents that "Santa" brings to the office are supplied by that cuts into our gift budget.  Doug has worked at the bank for 12 years now, so probably not going to change anytime soon.

This year we decided to go to the early 2:00 pm Christmas Eve service at church.  It was going to be the least crowded one and I knew I wouldn't be able to get the little ones down for naps that day.  It was a very nice service, and Santa came early and dropped our gifts off while we were at church!
Toddler Boy is into cars

Fishing book & gift cards for Firstborn

Game Boy..."before"

Soccer Boy scored new card packs

Game Boy..."after"

Princess is now an official artist

He likes his pirate ship
Only shot I had of me!
She loves her easel!

The two oldest children did not receive many gifts from us on that evening because they were getting their "big" gifts the next day at Grandma's house.  They both got ipod touches this year for their Christmas/birthday gifts combo.

We put the little ones to bed early, they were tired after the long day.  Then I headed to "midnight" (10:00pm) Mass, where I got to sing with the choir for the first time.  I cantor at Mass, but I do not normally sing with the choir because they sing at 10:30 a.m. and I need to leave that time open in case our family goes to Sunday morning church services.  Singing with the choir at Christmas Eve Mass was beautiful, except the choir didn't get to receive the Eucharist!  Not sure what happened with that, I think they normally go up first and then come back and sing but with all the extra singing that goes on during that particular Mass I guess something got overlooked.  Not a huge deal, but I was a bit disappointed since I didn't have another opportunity to go to Mass over Christmas.

For ourselves this Christmas Doug and I picked up a new camera!  We have a little pink Canon Powershot that we had purchased on our Florida vacation three years ago when I forgot to pack the camera!  (Oddly, I had remembered to pack the charger but had left the camera sitting on the kitchen island...go figure)!  That pink camera died right before Christmas, I think it got sand in it from our Florida beach trip this year.  So we picked up a new Canon Powershot on our date weekend.  While we were camera shopping we looked at the bigger cameras that were all on sale for the holidays.  We decided on a Nikon D3200 with extra lens as a "Christmas present to us" kind of purchase.  All the pictures in this post were taken with the Powershot because we hadn't even opened the Nikon at this point.  Cameras like that come with instructional videos that we didn't have time to watch until after the holiday rush.

That's it for my holiday wrap up...hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season last year!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Last Court of Honor

Game Boy on Cub Scout field trip
to police station
We joined our homeschool group's Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop last year.  We had been in Cub Scouts before, when Firstborn was in kindergarten he earned his Tiger Badge.  I always appreciated the fact that the Cub Scout troop was very "family orientated".  This was really important because I was the one taking Firstborn to meetings and I usually brought 3 year old Soccer Boy and under 1 year Game Boy with me.  We dropped out after that year from pure Mommy exhaustion.

For years after that the boys begged Doug and I to allow them to join the Boy Scouts again.  They wanted to go camping and do all the outdoor activities, our family was never a big "camping" family.  My version of camping runs somewhere along the line of Holiday Inn.  (Maybe if our tent was a magic tent like Harry Potter's I might consider it).  As the boys got older I wanted them to have more Godly adult men in their lives.  When I was growing up I was surrounded by not only my mother, aunts and grandmothers, but there was an extended family of women who "mothered" me.  My Mom's friends, ladies whose children I babysat, my Sunday School teachers and my own friends' moms all allowed me a front row seat into their lives.  They showed, by many different examples, what it looked like to live as a woman for Christ.  My boys spend the day with me as I tutor them through their lessons, but I cannot model masculinity for them.  Their Father has purposely taken a more active role in their schooling and mentoring as they have hit the middle school years.  They also have their grandfathers and uncles who we are blessed to live nearby.  But we wanted more Christ following men to mentor and sharpen our young men.  This is where the Boy Scouts fit into our lives.

At Game Boy's Blue & Gold Banquet
Our Troop has been a real blessing to our family.  The boys have made great friends there and Doug and I have made friends too.  Plus, the boys are learning life skills that, frankly, I haven't been able to teach them.  I was never an expert on starting campfires and rope lashing.  I do have some experience in first aid and keeping calm in a crisis situation (being a mom of mostly boys, it comes with the territory).

The Cub Scout Troop's Blue and Gold Banquet made for a very busy day for our family (read, me).  We had originally planned on attending second service at church but we were running late so settled for third service and didn't make it home until 12:30pm.  Changed clothes, then a quick lunch and threw together a green bean casserole for the banquet.  After getting it in the oven I ran over to pick up 12 boutiques of balloons, got them all in the van and drove over to help decorate and set out the awards.  Then raced back home with a 1/2 hour to spare to get myself dressed and make sure everyone were in uniform (the older boys were attending too), grab the food and get back.  Whew, tired just thinking about it!

Toddler Boy amused himself by coloring
on the paper tablecloth
The banquet was wonderful, Game Boy earned his Bear Badge along with receiving some additional belt loops, including one for chess that Soccer Boy had helped him finish.

Our family would attend the Boy Scout Troop's Court of Honor a few weeks later.  Firstborn would receive recognition for earning his Second Class rank and Soccer Boy received his badge for swimming.  I didn't have anything to do for that banquet except bring a couple side dishes.  It was going to be a longer ceremony so my parents came up to babysit the two youngest kids.

Doug & Firstborn
This would be our last Boy Scout function because our charter organization decided to start a Trail Life troop.  Trail Life is a new scouting organization that puts more emphasis on Christian character building.  Where the Boy Scouts focused more on religion in general, Trail Life is unapologetically Christian.  You do not have to be a christian to join the group, but group leaders must be professed Christians and also active in their church.  Game Boy's Cub Scout troop also disbanded and crossed over into the new Trail Life troop.  So now all three boys fall under one group, I think the change has been more of an adjustment for the adult leaders than for the boys.  The boys still work on the same things they always worked on at troop meetings (first aid, knot tying, camping, community service, etc).  There's always time for games and socializing too!  The new troop held a birthday party...
Campfire and last Boy Scout vespers

First official Trail Life meeting
"Walk Worthy"
Soccer Boy & Firstborn modeling the
new Trail Life shirts

There was cake and more picture taking and then clean up afterwards, making for a long night.  We are excited to see what is in store this inaugural year for our Trail Life troop!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

7 Posts in 7 Days

 Well, I'm back!!  I realize I haven't posted anything since Thanksgiving so I'm planning on fixing that this coming week.  Life in my "real world" has been crazy busy and slightly overwhelming so I had to take a blogging break.  I was still reading blogs, I just wasn't writing my own.  Things have now slowed down on the home front so I can come back to the blog and play catch up.

So, I'm linking up with Jen for her 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge.  I have plenty of pics and stuff I've been wanting to post but just didn't have the time.  I'm still trying to figure out how I'll manage to read everyone else's great stuff too, I may have to give the kids a vacation week.  I'll call it "Blog Break" or something original like that.  Honestly, if it gets them a week off they could care less what I name it.  They're still somewhat sore with me that they didn't get any snow days when all the schools around here have been off quite a bit.  I tried to explain to them that our homeschool does not use "snow days" but that they were welcome to go play in the snow as soon as that day's lessons were done.  Torture, I tell you!

I'll be back Monday posting pics from our family's last Boy Scout Court of Honor and how our transition into the new Trail Life organization has been.