Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween











Okay, here are the pictures!!!
For the first time in family history, somebody wanted to be the bad guy. In fact, they all wanted to be bad guys. Usually they scream at each other saying, "I'm not gonna be the bad guy!" So, for a change, they were all villains. Batman's foes in the form of The Joker, The Riddler, and Two-Face. I have to say that I am really proud of these costumes. Not only are the kids adorable, but everything was made by me without a pattern! The only exceptions on the pattern front was Gabriel's tie and Xavier's bow tie. Also, Gabriel's pants and all of their white shirts were things we had around the house.




Xavier as the Joker and Dominic as Two-Face







Gabriel as the Riddler

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Going to Maine











So, yesterday, Gabriel and Xavier left for Maine to visit Gary's parents. They've done this before. Gabriel's gone twice and Xavier once. So, this is my third time sticking my kids on an airplane alone. Actually, them flying alone doesn't really bother me. I put them on the plane on this end and when they arrive at their destination, their grandparents take them off. Since they are only allowed to take direct flights, there's small chance of them getting lost in the shuffle. The only concern there is if their flight had to be redirected. If that happened, I would hop in the car and go get them. Plus, I know people that live in most major cities that would be more than willing to go get them until I got there. So, that's not really an issue for me.

However, I will miss them. I always do. Yes, I enjoy the break. I do enjoy my children, though. This year, especially. Gabriel and I have reached a point in our relationship that is really fun. We can actually discuss things logically. Gabriel has always had the ability to throw out an amazing amount of information. Now, he can debate that information. It's a lot of fun. Xavier is a cuddle bug. I'll miss his little body curled up next to mine tonight while I'm watching the game.

But, in the interest of my children being able to spend one-on-one time with their grandparents, I'm willing to give them up for a week.

Here are some pictures of them leaving. Xavier is the one with pink hair. Gabriel has red streaks. They did that in support of the Red Sox! Dominic wanted to go, too. So here he is trying to see if he will fit in the overhead compartment as Gabriel's carry on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Raising Patriots

So, I've been reading a book about raising patriots. The first "holiday" they talk about is election day. How appropriate. So, the kids and I went to a campaign rally, yesterday. The boys really enjoyed this. They got to meet all the Republican candidates for our lovely state and played with one of the candidate's daughters, which brought home to them that the candidates are real people.

At the end of the rally, they encouraged everyone to pick up signs and bumper stickers. So, Xavier raced up there, grabbed a couple signs and brought them back to me.

Today, when we got home from orchestra, I looked outside to see them dutifully putting said signs by the street. I took some pictures and just as soon as I can get them off the camera (which is not digital), I'll post them. So cute!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Easy Crockpot Recipes

So, my favorite cooking tool is, by far, my crock pot. Now, I am not one of those super crock pot moms who knows a ton of recipes for my crock pot, although I'd love to learn more.

However, here are the three main meals that I cook in my crock pot. The best thing about them? My 10 year old son can make them!

Barbecue Chicken

Open a package of boneless, skinless chicken.
Drain the "juice".
Dump the chicken in the crock pot.
Dump a bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken.
Turn on the crock pot.


Roast with carrots and potatoes

Open a package of roast and drain the "juice".
Open a package of baby carrots (or peel and chop up regular carrots).
Cut new potatoes into quarters (leave skins).
Dump the carrots and potatoes in the crock pot.
Dump the roast in the crock pot on top of the carrots and potatoes.
Sprinkle roast with Italian seasoning, pepper, and garlic.
Dump a can of cream of mushroom soup (can also use a can of mushrooms if out of soup) over roast.
Dump a can of water over soup.
Cook.

Beef Stew

Prep
After you finish eating your roast dinner, chop up any leftovers.
Put all the juices from the roast and the chopped up roast/carrots/and potatoes in the freezer for a stew base.

Making
Dump stew base in crock pot.
Dump a can of green beans or peas or corn or more carrots or more potatoes... you get the drift.. into the crock pot.
Turn on the crock pot.
You're done.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning to Sew for Halloween

I am, as usual, furiously trying to finish making the boys' Halloween costumes before Halloween. Why am I sewing so furiously 2 weeks before Halloween? Because Gabriel and Xavier are leaving Tuesday to visit Memere and Pepere in Maine. I need them here for fittings, but they won't be back until the 30th. So...

The boys, after much discussion, decided to be super villains for Halloween. To give you a proper understanding of how much discussion this took, I'll tell you this. The boys start discussing what they are going to be for Halloween as soon as they decide what they want to be this year. It usually takes them all year to decide. For example, this years costume "theme" started being discussed in September of 2006. It was finally confirmed in September of 2007. I have been searching for patterns ever since. I tried to get them to let me buy them, but they didn't like the costumes we could find, and we couldn't even find all three that they wanted.


The only problem? I couldn't find a pattern for the Joker, the Riddler, or Two-Face. So, I thought, well, really, they just wear suits, right? Nope, couldn't find patterns for those, either.
So, I've been working on making my own patterns. Xavier helped a lot on his costume. He sat and helped me draw, cut, pin, fit, etc. I'm almost done with his. All I have left is his bow tie. He's going to be the Joker. Did you know that the Joker has tails?






Gabriel is going to be the Riddler, and all we have left for that is to find him a bowler hat. I lucked out on that costume. We found a picture of the Riddler wearing grey pants, black shirt, green jacket and tie. Gabriel already has grey pants and black shirt, so I only had to make the jacket and tie. Now, however, he informs me that he needs a mask, too. That should be relatively simple. Was he willing to help me? Not this chauvinist. He informed me that a man has to "throw away his dignity" to sew. He has always been a chauvinist and I suspect he always will be.



Dominic is going to be Two-Face. Again, I got lucky for his costume. He has just about outgrown a suit. Since I don't have any kids coming up behind him, I have no problem cutting up the suit to use as both a pattern and half the costume. I haven't started on his yet. But, I will do so.

Once I have them all done, I'll take pictures of all of them. Oh, and they want me to be Batwoman so that I can chase them down the street. How appropriate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Three things my parents did right

This is a group writing project put together by "Et tu?". The request was to write about three things my parents did right. While, the project is over, and I missed the deadline, because I just saw it, I thought the question was worthy. So, here goes.

I saw this on another blog, and I wish that I could just copy Michelle's post and put it here, but in the interest of saying something different and not plagiarising, I'll come up with my own.

1. Family is there for you, no matter what. The only thing more important than family, is God. Family is the most important thing on earth. My mother raised us and my father married her and stayed married to her. When we were in trouble, we still knew they loved us. Even cousins I have never met are important to me because of this training.

2. My father taught me to love learning. Ever since I can remember, he always challenged us to learn. He was always learning. He encouraged us to read and we did and do (just ask my mom, we drove her nuts, I'm sure!). He would lay in bed with me at night and ask me my times tables. It was so much fun. He constantly quizzed me on everything in a way that made me want to learn more.

3. To love my country. They taught me that if I worked hard, I could be whatever I wanted to be. If I worked hard, I could accomplish whatever I wanted. At the same time, they taught me the responsibility of having so much freedom. They taught me why we have freedom and what was sacrificed to get it. They taught me respect for the men and women in uniform. They taught me to stand when the flag goes by. Then, they drove me all over this great country to see the things they taught me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Red Sox fans







Okay, we have created 3 more Red Sox fans. Here are our 3 kittens watching the game last night. Harry, Dominic's cat, is orange. Ron, Xavier's cat, is the grey tabby. Sasha, Gabriel's cat, is the calico.


Harry

Sasha

Ron

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reading Breakthrough



Yay! This is, in my mind, a major leap for beginning readers.

For the last year, Xavier has been a reluctant reader because he would much prefer to do math. This has been a dilemma for me. Gabriel was the opposite. I started teaching Xavier intensive phonics in January. He has been very reluctant to sit down and read, preferring to run around or just look at pictures. Our phonics program has NO pictures, so he couldn't guess at what the words say.

Today, I caught him reading aloud to Dominic. This is the first time he has picked up a book on his own and read it (versus looking at the pictures). Fifteen minutes later, I walked into the living room to find him on the couch reading to himself "silently". I put silently in quotes because he was obviously sounding out words in his head since he was moving his mouth as he read. I'm so excited.

Congratulations on becoming a reader, Xavier!

Learning Oppurtunity?

So, yesterday, we were driving down the road, talking about fast food.

Our conversation started out being about how McDonald's got started. It then progressed to franchising in general. It quickly went back to fast food and finally disintegrated into the children using various accents to be the founders of fast food. For instance, Gabriel say in a Mexican accent, "I have a great taco recipe, I'm going to start Taco Bell." Which sent the other two children into gales of laughter and spawned lots of other fast food founders.

So, this was a very interesting conversation.

A bit later, Xavier began discussing being a chef. He said that he comes from a long line of great cooks. He loves to cook and maybe he would be a chef.

Well, apparently, he put the two conversations together. Today, Xavier says to me, "I think I'm going to cook in a fast food place when I grow up." I said, "You know, they really don't do a lot of actual cooking." His reply, "You're right, I think I'll work at the pickup window, instead."
I said, "Okay, and what will you do when you are an adult?" "Hmmmm, I think I'll take the money, then."

Whatever you want, baby! I'll make sure you know how to make change.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Family Day at the Wing






The rock wall.













Gary's wing had a family day a couple weekends ago. The boys had a blast. Here are some pictures.




Setting out for deployment.




Dominic all set and ready to go.

Dominic and Xavier's first "jump"!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rabid Homeschooler Alert!

Okay, so I am a perfectly reasonable person. I, also, before today, had never encountered someone soooo apposed to homeschooling. Wow!

So, there I was, working out at my gym, talking away with another woman. We were talking about our children and I told her that I homeschool my kids. She said, "Well, I guess that's okay if you really do it." What?????

I tell you, I turned into Super Kristina Defender of all Homeschooling. First, let me preface this with this: I am not really a fan of unschooling. I believe that children need a vigorous base of learning, to include the classics and Latin and lots of other things. Unschooling is, for the most part, child led. I know that many unschooling parents help guide their children; because it is child led, it is diametrically opposed to classical education, again, for the most part. (After all, most children are never going to want to learn to diagram sentences, but it is an integral part of being a good writer and understanding the English language.) Also, I just couldn't handle the need to always be figuring out what were good learning opportunities. Plus, I'm a bit compulsive and I need to be in control.

However, I do know that parents who unschool ARE homeschooling. Their children ARE learning, and usually more than they would have learned in school! So, I went off on her and told her how unschooling (because after further discussion it came to light that unschooling was her only exposure to homeschooling) can teach a child. And really, come to find out, she didn't know what her "friend" is doing with her kids, it's just what she "thinks". I doubt she has ever asked her friend what she does with her children. For all she knows, those kids might be sitting at a desk all day writing. Ugh!

Then, I got hit with the S-word. This is the word that almost all homeschoolers hate, socialization. "But, are you making sure they have social opportunities and can function in social situations?" Are you telling me that school is a social situation? Here, I thought it was a place to get an education. My reply? "I am making sure my children swim. If they were in school, they would be sinking. My son is so much more intelligent than most kids his age that he has a hard time making friends. They just can't communicate with each other. If he was at school, the teacher would not be searching through 3 counties and more to find him a friend. No, he would be sinking. So, yes, I am TEACHING my son to socialize (which we all know is a misnomer)" I am teaching him how to make it in the real world and how to get along with children his age on their level and go to other people (mostly adults) to talk on his level. He is learning to care about children smaller and younger than him and that it is okay to swim against the school:).

So, then, she said, "Well, you have to go out a lot to make sure they get a good education (huh?) and you have to take them everywhere with you!" So, first to address the "go out a lot" part of that comment: why? When they go to public/private school, they don't "go out a lot". They might go on one or two field trips a year, more if they are lucky. The rest of the time, they are stuck behind a desk 7 hours a day being dumbed down. To the second part of that statement, "I have to take them everywhere with me, anyway! I'm a stay-at-home mom. I don't put them in daycare so that I can go to the grocery store (although I'd like to sometimes :D)."

This woman's misconceptions about homeschooling were astounding to me! I knew this existed but had never come in contact with it before.

So, now that the foam is starting to recede from my mouth, I'll sign off with this. Homeschool doubters beware, Super Kristina is on the watch!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Building the Deck
















Gary built a deck on the back of our house in late August/early September. The boys were eager to help. Dominic was especially helpful. He is seen here, putting cement in the post holes, "hammering" nails, and in the middle of the board helping Gabriel and Xavier carry it.














Gabriel (in the red pants/blue shorts) and Xavier (orange shorts) can be seen hammering, walking the boards, carrying boards, and helping Pepere put up the rail.





























Since we haven't built the boys' tree house, yet, we put the slide on the deck and will remove it when we have built their tree house.

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