Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hope For the New Year



For me, the end of Chanukah (the Festival of Lights), and the Winter Solstice, signal the coming light.  The knowledge that each day brings just a bit more sunlight to my world is a wonderful thing.  It gives me hope for the coming year.  The Winter Solstice signals the birth of a new year.  It celebrates the end of the darkness.  For me, that is wonderful.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful winter!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Work in Progress


My work in progress.  I started learning to knit in August or September.  All through September, October and November, I knit.  I knit and knit and knit.  So far, I haven't gotten burnt out.  I have figured out that my skin doesn't like acrylic.  It's causing my psoriasis to really act up.  I'm currently making sure to have a barrier between my skin and the yarn.

This is a gift for my cousin.  I'll post pictures when they're done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slowing Down

Sometimes, life gets rushed.  It seems to always get so rushed for us at this time of year.  This year, we had a tournament to go to the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Since we were already going to be partway there, we chose to continue on to my mom's house, although we had originally planned to stay home for Thanksgiving.

After more than a week away from home, we were all happy to be home.  We arrived home Sunday evening.  Monday, I took Professor X to the doctor, and Gary took the truck to the doctor.  Tuesday, I had a job interview.  Wednesday, I had training for my new job.  Thursday, I got to stay at home with my boys until evening, and Friday, we had co-op.  Needless to say, we did tae kwon do every night that week.  By the end of the week, I was exhausted.  I just wanted to stay home.

After two weeks of keeping tae kwon do to a minimum, and focusing on family, I am slowly starting to feel more like myself.  But, we need to slow down.

We declared December an unplugged month.  The Shady Rooster (hubby) and I are allowed one hour on the computer each night.  Otherwise, everything is off.  The computers are off.  The t.v. is off.  The video games are off.  It has been wonderful and frustrating.  It has been frustrating because I am used to being able to hop online any time I need something.  It has been wonderful because I have been able to completely focus on my family during the day.  We have all needed this.

As the days go by, we are enjoying our slowing down time.  The boys are playing a lot of games, in addition to catching up on school work.  We are spending time making Christmas gifts for family.  The boys had their first sewing machine lessons on Saturday.  We are reading together.

We are being a family again.  Of course, we are still going to tae kwon do.  Fortunately for my need to slow down a bit, the holidays are coming, and they limit the amount of classes available.  After the new year, we'll be back in full force.  In the meantime, we'll take it slow and enjoy each other.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's All Fun and Games

Our family loves board games.  Our favorite games are strategy games.  We've been playing Settlers of Catan for about 6 months, approximately once a week.  Of course, once we get going, we might play three games in one day.

Recently, we introduced the boys to Risk.  We've had this game for many years.  It was Husband's before we got married, but it's been taped up through half a dozen moves.  For obvious reasons, we never untaped it.  Have you ever seen what young children can do with a Risk game?  At any rate, we pulled the game out, cut the tape off, and played a game.  The Youngling spent his time organizing his troops- all those not being used on the board.  He had massive, intricate battles going between the Brits and, at various times, the French, the Romans, and the US.  The rest of us played.  I lost quickly, and happily went about my business, while Husband proceeded to trounce the older two boys.


Each subsequent game has ended quickly, with Husband the victor, until last night.  Last night, we set up the game in front of the fireplace.  Youngling decided to join the game.  Husband got knocked out of the game before the end of the fourth round.  Youngling was going down fast, and I suggested that Husband help him out.  Next, I was knocked out.  Youngling managed to capture all of North and South America, and Professor X was quickly losing ground in Africa and Asia.  The Man Cub held everything else.  Suddenly, we realized that it was 9:30.  We sent everyone to bed, and moved the game to the kitchen table.




This morning, the boys immediately wanted to play.  Unfortunately for them, I needed their help cutting coupons and cleaning house.  After much cutting, vacuuming, and straightening, they got down to business.  Youngling went after Man Cub.  Man Cub was not going down without a fight.  After all, what twelve year old wants to lose to his six year old brother?  Finally, when Youngling was on the verge of victory, he fell to the cards.  Man Cub got 60 more men and wiped Youngling off the map.  It was time to take out Professor X.  Professor X had two territories left, and felt that Man Cub should not overextend himself by attempting to wipe him out, thereby giving Professor X a chance to turn in his cards.  No such luck.  Man Cub wiped the board with Professor X and came away the victor.

This game took approximately 12 hours, total, to play.  That's 12 hours that a twelve year old, nine year old, and six year old were intensely involved in strategy, math, and fun.  The older two frequently commented on how wonderfully old fashioned, and like a movie, it was.  I was happy, and so were they.

There will be another board game under the tree this year.  We just have to figure out which one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dominic-ism

It is so much fun to live with Dominic.  The things that come out of that boy's mouth are hilarious.

During the last competition, said to one of our instructors, who was competing, "I hope you don't get disqualified."  Of course, most people would have said, "Good luck."

Yesterday morning, Dominic was wanting to cuddle with his cat, who had decided to take up residence against my leg, on my bed.  He started pushing at my leg and asked, "Are these your lower appendages?"

He keeps me laughing all day.


Pickles

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Xavier Turns 9

The much anticipated day finally arrived.  Xavier woke up at approximately 9 AM.  He promptly crawled in bed with me, and we cuddled for a good hour before hunger drove us to the kitchen.  I made waffles, as per the kid's request.


After breakfast, Xavier headed downstairs to watch a GI Joe marathon.  Gabriel had already completed his schoolwork, and Xavier had a personal holiday.  Dominic took the day off by default.  Mom had sewing to do.


This was supposed to be Xavier's baby quilt.  I started working on it before he was born.  I just finished it, today.  He's been asking about it.  I decided it was time he have a quilt made just for him.



The 'sand' has his baby footprints going around the ships/water.




This is how much thread I had left when I had finished binding it.  That was close!!




This is a stack of gifts that is one larger than usual.  We are a minamilist family when it comes to birthday gifts.  Gary and I buy the boys one present, and they also receive one gift from their brothers, who combine their money to buy a gift.  I decided that I would like to also include one homemade gift, each year.  Our children truly appreciate homemade things.  They would much rather have something, or give something, homemade than store bought.  I love this quality in them.  I'm sure it's something I did, and just as soon as I figure out what it is, I'll let you know.





The boys have been on a toy getting/buying freeze.  However, they got their playroom clean, so I loosened the restrictions to allow Gabriel and Dominic to buy Xavier a Bionicle.  Each child got one for his birthday from his brothers, this year.



Xavier loves board games.  His three favorite are Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, and, a new favorite, Risk.  He also likes Chess, but it's only a two player game, so doesn't get played as often.  He got an expansion pack for Settlers of Catan for his birthday from Gary and I.



Then, he opened his quilt.  It was priceless.  He looked at me and said, "You finished it?  I didn't know you were doing that?"  He was so happy.  He is now dreaming away underneath it.



Xavier requested Macaroni for supper.  This is one of the easiest meals I know how to make, and I was thrilled that he did not request a more complicated meal, seeing as how I needed to spend the day sewing.



After supper, we had ice cream cake.  Xavier proceeded to blow out the candles before I could get my camera ready to take a picture.



Then, we all ate cake.

Finally, we went to Taekwondo.  We had a great class, and our nine-year-old boy is now sleeping in nine-year-old dreams.  I can't believe he is nine years old.  How time flies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday Preparations

Tomorrow is Xavier's birthday.  He has been so excited about his birthday.  I can only hope it lives up to his expectations.  In the hopper: Birthday breakfast- waffles, Birthday lunch- unplanned, Birthday dinner- macaroni, birthday gift- quilt almost finished (just have to bind it...  I can do it!), birthday cake- ordered at Dairy Queen (we mostly do ice cream cakes, although Gabriel has put in an order for a 'regular' cake for next year), birthday game- Risk?  His new favorite game.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds in store for my favorite cuddle bug.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moments in Time

One of the best things about homeschooling is all the time you get to spend with your children.  Gabriel has developed a wicked, slightly goofy, sense of humor.  It can be difficult to connect with him though, because he is going through the whole 'teenage angst' thing.

Friday, we were driving to taekwondo, just the two of us.  We were talking about the gas gage, which takes its sweet time going up after you get gas.

I started out by saying it was inching its way up.  Then, we both looked at the gage, and I said it was centimetering its way up.

After we both looked at it again, we said, together, "More like, millimetering its way up."

I know that we're both dorks.  We're okay with that.  Its moments in time, like these, that make parenting worth while.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Fun



I have a confession to make.  I have not been excited about the coming of fall.  This is very sad to me, because fall has always been my favorite season.  Now, my favorite season is summer.  It's all about the warmth, people.  This past summer was not especially warm.  In fact, there were very few days that it was warm enough to go swimming.  It was not warm enough for lying around in the sun.  Plus, it rained too much to go camping.

But, I am attempting to live in the moment.  We have been admiring all the beautiful fall color that has been happening this year.  The last two years, we did not get enough rain to have much fall color.  The leaves dried up and died too fast.  This year, we've had extended weeks of fall color.  Then, one day, the wind blew and blew, and all the leaves came tumbling down.  That afternoon, I walked outside to hang clothes on the line.  The crunchy fall leaves kicked up beneath my feet and it was so much fun.  I immediately sent into for my favorite partner in crime and we had fun in the sun, wind, and leaves.













There's nothing like a giant pile of leaves at the bottom of a slide to generate fun.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shower Time

should be private time.  Yet, my children seem to take my closed, bedroom door as a sign that I want them to come talk to me.  I am do almost anything else in peace.  The instant that I walk into my bathroom my children suddenly need to know what they can eat, how to do their math, what their next assignment is, or what to wear.  Sadly, I don't see any end to this in the near future.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our First Tournament!

Our weekend started with a hotel stay.  We are not morning people.  So, we went to the tournament city Friday night.  This particular tournament is only a couple hours away, and in the future, we will probably just drive up on Saturday morning.  For our first tournament, it was good to be relaxed.  A few other families drove up Friday night, as well, and we met at the pool for some time before bed.

The morning of the tournament, we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast.  I only wish there had been a Fourbucks on the way.  Oh well.



The day started off slow.  One of the best things about tournaments, other than competing, is the time you get to spend with your friends.


Dominic was the first one in our school to compete.  He was the only one under seven competing.  He's at the back of that line.




The tournament was held in an ice rink.  It was cold on those floors!


Dominic did a great job and got a bronze medal for his efforts!



Then, things started getting crazy.  I barely managed to capture any of Xavier's form on film.  He, also, did a great job, although he did not place.



Gabriel did his form while I was supposed to be warming up for mine.  Xavier took pictures for me.  I only saw the first part, but I am so proud of my kids for getting out there and overcoming nerves.



Xavier still had control of the camera.


Don't I look fierce?  I rocked my form.  I am thankful that someone took pictures.  I see room for improvement.  Dominic was the only one to place, but I think we all did well.


The kids spent the rest of the tournament watching other people and playing with their friends.  It was a great time for everyone.  We are looking forward to next weekend's tournament.  It will be even crazier, since we will all five be competing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Picking


Yes, I'm that behind, which means that there will be a lot of picture posting coming up.

The Monday before Halloween, we went pumpkin picking.  We went to the same place we went last year.  I'm hoping to create traditions for my children, now that we're in one place for a few years.  This is one of the traditions that we love, and I hope to be able to continue it for many years.



Dominic chose his pumpkin.  Then, he attempted to carry it to the cart.  Thankfully, Dad was there to help out.



After picking pumpkins, we visited the petting zoo.  There, we saw goats making great use of old play equipment.  The boys had a blast feeding the animals.





Dominic didn't particularly like the way the animals' tongues felt, so he threw the food on the ground in front of the fence in order to get them to come close to him.  He loved petting them!


You must understand what a big deal it was that Gabriel was willing to get close enough to the animals to let them eat out of his hand.  First, Gabriel is a city boy.  He does not like nature.  He's getting better with it, and even ventures off the driveway to play on the grass and in the pseudo woods behind our house.  He has even said that he would like to own some of those cute chicks he saw at the livestock expo we went to Monday.  However, he hates to be touched.  He doesn't like to be touched in any way other than to wrestle.  The fact that he is allowing, and enjoying, the animals to touch him is amazing.


After we got home, the boys carved their pumpkins.  This is the first year they have all three carved, and scooped their own pumpkins.  Believe me when I tell you that the carvings were very interesting.  All three of them had at least two faces, and Gabriel's had four.  Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a picture of the pumpkins after they were carved.






Friday, November 6, 2009

Bleeding Hearts

Wednesday, I was talking to Gary about an article he'd read about a girl being abused.  I said something to the effect of, "It makes your heart bleed, doesn't it?"

At which point, Dominic piped up from the back seat, "Your heart always bleeds.  That's its job!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Field Trips Make Us Sick

It seems that every time I schedule a field trip, at least one of us gets sick.  I know that isn't the reality, since we have been on multiple field trips.  It just seems that way.

Last week, Xavier and I were sick.  We were feeling well enough for a Halloween party on Friday (pictures coming soon- I promise!), and trick-or-treating on Saturday.  Fortunately, the two trick-or-treaters were quite pleased with the 12 pieces of candy each that they got at the shops downtown, during the day, and preferred to stay home and watch a movie Saturday night.

Gary and I went out for a date.  It was very nice.

Monday, I woke up miserable.  I had a sinus infection.  Yesterday, Gabriel started complaining about his throat and by last night he had a horrible cough.  Today, he's run a low grade fever all day.  What do we do for low grade fevers?  We let them sleep and ride it out, and take as many hot showers as they want.

Tonight, I was able to head back to Taekwondo, but Xavier has started coughing.  Tonight, after the adult class, Dominic was complaining about his head hurting, which seems to be one of the early symptoms of whatever Gabriel has.

Tomorrow, I'm supposed to be taking them to see an awesome show.  It doesn't look like it's going to happen.  It's too bad.  I think they would have enjoyed it.  I certainly would have enjoyed it.  Oh well.  I'm hoping for better luck next week, when we're planning a trip to a planetarium and art museum.  Plus, we've got co-op on Friday.

I may have to cancel that.  Hmmm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

It all comes down to decisions.  We have too many options, and it is difficult to make decisions.

Personally, I want to move to a farm, buy a couple cows, some chickens, a few sheep, maybe an alpaca or two, and a few pigs.  I want to open a bakery and sew all day long.

Where am I going to find time to homeschool?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dominic-ism

"Calling someone a 'dorkwad' isn't bad, because it just means weird."  Sounds like someone is channeling Gabriel.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dominic CAN Read

Dominic is stubborn.  Just don't tell him that.  His most recent thing to be stubborn about is his closely held belief that he cannot read.  He vociferously, adamantly, and loudly proclaims to everyone that he cannot read.  (He was also telling everyone at Tae Kwon Do that he cannot tie.  This is partially true.  He is not good at tying.  He only ties his shoes when he has to.  But, he can tie, under duress.)

A couple weeks ago, we sat down to read a bedtime story, My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems. Anything by Mo Willems is a favorite for both Xavier and Dominic. (Thank you, Aunt Sally!) This particular book, however, is Dominic's favorite. And, he does not think we know how to read it correctly. The voices must be done just so. It started out that he would read the parts he felt we were doing wrong, then we would have to reread them. Now, he just reads the entire book to us, without realizing it. Some of it is memorization. However, he reads along with what he has memorized and corrects himself when he messes up. So, he is reading.

Yesterday, he asked me to come read his word problems to him for math.  I went in the dining room, only to hear him reading them to himself.  Today, I told him to do his math while I took a shower.  He vociferously claimed that he couldn't, because he didn't know how to read.

I said, "Fine.  Do what you can.  When I get out, I'll read the word problems to you."

Suddenly, he looked up at me, got this goofy smirk on his face and replied, "Oh, wait.  I can read!  I can handle it."

Then, he happily skipped away to do his math.  And, yes, he read the word problems.  Apparently, Dominic can read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Bake an Apple Pie


As we all know, the first step in any baking day should be to put on your best '50s dress, heels, and apron.
Then, after the pictures are taken, take the heels off and throw them to the side for when the food is ready.
Recipe to follow pictures.
For the crust:


Combine all dry ingredients.



Cut in butter until crumbly.





Beat egg in cup. Add enough water to fill cup.
Add vinegar and mix.


Add wet ingredients to 'dry' ingredients and mix.
Roll pie crust out.


Put in pan and set aside.


Thinly slice apples.



Combine dry ingredients.


Toss apple slices with dry ingredients until well coated.


Add to pie crust.



Sprinkle crumb topping over pie.



Cover edges with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove.
Bake for an additional 25 minutes.



Throw off your apron, slip on your heels, and serve your pie!


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