Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009...

  • encouraged us
  • disappointed us
  • excited us
  • delighted us
  • challenged us
  • frustrated us
  • surprised us
  • blessed us in so many ways
We can't wait to see what 2010 brings! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 pkgs. crescent rolls
3 pkgs. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out one pkg. crescent rolls in a greased 9x13 pan. Seal seams. Mix cream cheese, 1 1/2 c. sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread on dough. Cover with second pkg. of rolls. Melt butter, remaining sugar and cinnamon in microwave. Pour over top layer of dough. Bake for 45-55 min.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Reunion

On Thursday, most of my mother-in-law's extended family (on her dad's side) joined us here on SPI for the annual Burnett Reunion. Since then, we have been playing games, laughing, telling and hearing wild stories, opening presents, taking pictures and EATING. It has been a blast!



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Last one in the van is a rotten egg

And the van is just where we'll be today, tomorrow and Monday. This extended tour will cover a goodly amount of the Lone Star State, and will put us in contact with most of the family on both sides. I will try to update when I can. It's going to be a blast!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Long-Overdue School Update

I can't believe it's been two months since I updated on Ruth's school work! Wow! Where does the time go?! Anyway, things have been going well. Ruth continues to amaze us all the time. And, we are all enjoying this homeschool experience so much.

The last couple of months have brought a bit of a change in our school structure. Ruth (self-motivator that she is) has really taken more responsibility for her school work. Of her own accord, she decided to start setting her alarm 30 minutes earlier so that she could get through her school day faster. She has also been tackling more of her classes on her own, and has been reading more school books just for fun. Jeff and I introduce new material and quiz her very regularly (and very thoroughly), but she is completing the work without much hands-on help from us. She is doing most of her Music and Grammar on her own now, and continues to complete the Portuguese and Spelling lessons (except for Spelling tests) entirely on her own. She is writing longer and nicer stories for Writing class and is also writing more in-depth personal letters to friends and family. She is reading and retaining great amounts of information for History and Science. And she continues to push herself to new places in Math. What a joy it is to see her so enthusiastic to learn anything and everything! And what a blessing to be a part of the process!

Here are some of the interesting school things Ruth has done in the last couple of months:
  • Memorized all the prime numbers up to 100
  • Memorized the first 20 rulers of England
  • Visited the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville
  • Finished her Super Friday semester with a parent open house and 2 performances with her chimes group.
  • Worked on fractions
  • Learned how much of one equals another (i.e. how many cups in a gallon, etc.)
  • Made a Moorish feast
  • Continued practicing for PSIA Writing and Spelling
  • Studied about the times of knights and castles in England and samurai warriors in Japan
  • Continued her studies of earth science, including: rain forests, glaciers, endangered animals, jungle animals, desserts, caves and avalanches
  • Memorized several new songs on the keyboard, including "Happy Birthday to You," so she could play it for her dad and brother for their birthdays.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Day the Kids Ran the House

About the time I laid down for bed last night I thought to myself, "Hmm. My dinner doesn't really seem to be agreeing with me." About 1:30, it showed me just how much it didn't agree with me, and then proceeded to remind me every hour. And at some point I began to think that it wasn't just my dinner disagreeing with me, but the whole universe conspiring to kill me.

Now, as you know, full-time stay-at-home-moms aren't allowed to get sick. We don't have days for that. But add to that the fact that the timing of this couldn't have been worse--with my house in serious need of cleaning, my snacks in serious need of baking, my bags in serious need of packing and my errands in serious need of running, etc. And, add to that meetings for my hubby all over the state of Texas (but no where close to home).

I spent the first half of the day lying on the couch, trash can handy, wondering when death would finally take me, and occasionally wondering what would happen to my kids when it did. But then, all that was just too much to think about, so I closed my eyes and tried to block out the sounds of complete chaos and house destruction around me.

At noon, I forced myself to get up and get the kids some lunch, which just almost did me in. So, I spent the second half of the day lying in my bed pretty much repeating the first part of the day, but with one fewer child adding to the chaos, since Max was also napping.

By 4:00, I felt like death might actually pass me by, but I still wasn't sure if I would ever be the same. And, frankly, that's kind of where I still am. But, I'm hopeful that with a descent night's sleep and the benefit of actual nutrients in my body, obtained from a handful of dry cereal and a Sprite, that tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bringing up the average

Weston had his check-up with the pediatrician yesterday and is generally healthy. She said he does have some fluid on his ears, but we have a new battery of meds that should help with that. We will give these to him for the rest of the month to try to get the congestion cleared up, and then will have his hearing tested again in January. If that test doesn't come out well, we will see an ENT and figure out where to go from there. So, that's the ear update. But the really awesome part of the visit was where we found out just exactly how huge Weston is. He's the kid that is bringing up the average, for sure. He weighs 47 lb 9 oz (98th percentile) and is 3 ft 9.25 in (99.8th percentile). I think it won't be long before he is bigger than I am!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

First Basketball Game

Ruth is playing basketball this winter. She is on the Lady Rams, and Jeff is her coach. Today was the first game, and it was so much fun to watch. Most of these girls have never played before, but even so, they all did really well and were so cute. In this league they do not keep score for the 7-8 year olds, but Ruth did make a basket, which was VERY exciting! She will be playing every Saturday from now until the middle of February (with a couple of weeks off for Christmas), so you should come out and see her play if you can. My pictures are not of the greatest quality, since I was trying to take them while simultaneously keeping my little guy corralled and off the court.





video

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What's that you say?

For a while Jeff and I have suspected that Weston was in training to become a professional ignorer. The boy just doesn't seem to hear a thing we say. And today we found out why. It's because, according to the hearing test administered at the preschool today, he can't hear. Well, he can hear, of course, he just can't hear well. And the administrator was too kind to say that he failed the hearing test. She simply said she thought he needed to be retested. In a way, it's a relief to know that he isn't just tuning out our voices. The tester said she thought it was due to his congestion, which seems to be fairly perpetual. So, we are off to the pediatrician next week to discuss. We will keep you posted on the course of action recommended. In the meantime, we will be adopting the "Slower and Louder" method of communication with Weston, and we will remind ourselves not to be frustrated if he doesn't respond the first three times we say something.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Brazilian Thanksgiving

We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends today, and there wasn't a turkey in sight! Jeff and I always host a themed Thanksgiving party, and this year we went with a Brazilian theme. We made pao de queijo (cheese bread), shrimp moqueca (a shrimp stew that is served over rice), maionese (Brazilian-style potato salad), vinagrete (think salsa without a hint of heat). Other guests brought rice and beans, churrasco (grilled chicken and beef, served on sword-like skewers), grilled cheese cubes, sweet passion fruit pizza, flan, fried plantains, and Guarana (Brazilian soda). It was a wonderful, if non-traditional, Thanksgiving feast, and we were so glad to get to share it with people who are special to us. We have so much to be thankful for! Hope you all had a special day with special people as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To My Sweet Weston:

You will turn four tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. Tomorrow is also Thanksgiving, and I want you to know that we are all certainly thankful for the joy you have brought into our lives over the past four years. You are an absolute doll--from your adorable cocked head and dimply smile to your generally charming disposition.
You have blossomed so much in the last year, and it has been a pleasure to watch. You have learned to tell jokes. You have learned your letters and numbers. You have become interested in learning to read. And you have made lots of friends. There isn't a person we know who doesn't absolutely love you. In fact, there is one little girl in your preschool class who told her mom she wants to marry you. I'm certain she will not be the last young lady to feel this way about you. You are a treasure, Son, and don't you forget it.
You love to have your back scratched, and you get a kick out of wearing your clothes backwards on purpose. But you have no use for sheets and refuse to be covered with one at night. You still like yellow a lot, but you are now willing to acknowledge and appreciate some of the other colors as well. You still take a nap about half the time--and though you like to talk about how you don't want to go to bed, there is very little evidence to suggest that this is actually true.
You have stepped out of your sister's shadow a bit and have started to become your own person, with your own opinions and ideas. You still adore Ruth and relish your role as her younger brother, but you have also started to really fill the role of big brother now, and it suits you well. You can often be found hugging Max or holding his hand or "reading" him a book. You are considerate of other's feelings, both at home and at school, and you are so full of love that you can't help but give it away.
You are a big help around the house now, unloading the silverware and plastic dishes from the dishwasher and putting away your laundry and toys, and generally being willing to help with any assignment Dad and I give you.
You have vivid dreams, which sometimes cause you to laugh and sometimes to cry in your sleep, and you are wary of lions that might sneak in in the night to bite your toes. You can still be calmed by your "Do-Do-Do" song, and you are slowly learning how to control your emotions.
You love the Lord and are already a prayer warrior. And your heart truly overflows with praise. It is a blessing just to be around you each day, and I am often challenged in my own spiritual life just by observing your simple and sincere relationship with the Lord.
You make me smile every single day, and I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to be your mom. Your dad and I are so very proud of you and of the young man you are becoming. We love you so much and are so thankful that the Lord loaned you to us four years ago! Happy, happy birthday!

Love,
Mom

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

I know, I know. I'm way behind on my blogging. But, life has been getting in the way, and there has simply been no time. We have had LOTS going on around here: a preschool Thanksgiving feast, a Super Friday open house, a chime performance, a birthday party, and a whole house full of visitors. The best I can do is try to give you a visual of each event in the next few posts and hope to do better at actual blogging in the future.

Preschool Thanksgiving

Super Friday Open House

Ruth's Chime Performance

Birthday Party

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A day in the life

  • Waffles and bacon for breakfast.
  • Jeff safely delivered a friend of ours, who had been hitchhiking across the southern part of the U.S. for the last month and who showed up at our house sort of unexpectedly last night, to his apartment.
  • I unloaded a pretty substantial box of math books that Jeff brought home from his parents' house last weekend.
  • I made a sweet picture collage to hang on the wall from a calendar I bought for a dollar.
  • Peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch.
  • We acquired a(nother) futon. I think we are now ready (in terms of sleeping space) to host our 15 or so house guests next weekend.
  • Jeff picked up some party essentials for our Brazilian-themed Thanksgiving party...and some beautiful flowers for me for no reason whatsoever!
  • Dishes, dishes, dishes.
  • We hung things on the walls. From pictures to broom holders.
  • Weston and I attended a birthday party for one of his little school friends. It didn't seem to bother Weston in the least that he was the only boy there!
  • Laundry, laundry, laundry.
  • Ruth spent 6 1/2 hours playing inside and outside our house with her sweet little friend from down the street.
  • I found the top of my desk.
  • Ruth found her bedroom--there is actually a floor in there...even under the bed!
  • Jeff attended a high school choir concert.
  • The kids and I had dinner upstairs while watching a movie. They were so thrilled to find out that the homeschool table could double as a dinner table!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My new babysitter

This morning, Ruth asked me when she would be old enough to watch the boys by herself. I explained to her that it would be a while--not because I didn't trust her or think she wasn't responsible, but because there are still a lot of things that the boys need help with that she may not be quite ready to help with. However, I assured her that she could begin to prove herself by watching the boys for Daddy and I when one or both of us was at home and we needed some help. And to give her an opportunity, I left her in charge of Max this afternoon, while Weston was napping and Jeff was working in his (home) office, so I could run some errands. She took her responsibility very seriously and was so proud of herself for having gained this privilege. At one point while I was out, Jeff called to say that when Weston woke up, he wanted to go outside and play with the neighborhood children. Before Jeff could even say a word, Ruth piped up to say that she could not go out and play because it was her job to take care of Max. I was so proud of her for taking on this responsibility. She did a great job, and I payed her in lip gloss, which was a good deal for both of us. I can't believe my little girl is already so big!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

La Vida Loca: Continued

Well, November doesn't look too promising so far. For the third weekend in a row, one of my family members has been to the ER. Tonight it was Jeff. He woke up this morning with a bruise-like pain in his forearm. As the day progressed, a red streak appeared, and by this evening, it had traveled all the way up his arm. The doctor took one look and pronounced it a Strep infection. He shot Jeff up with antibiotics and sent him home with a week's supply, which should take care of the problem.

And if that weren't enough, Jeff also had a blow-out in his car earlier in the week.

When will the insanity ever end?!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Getting my walk back

Back in May, I began walking in the mornings before the kids were up as a way of preparing myself for the day ahead, enjoying the great outdoors and getting a little exercise. Around the time school started, the mornings started getting darker--partly because it was just that time of year and partly because that was the beginning of our monsoon season. When it's dark, the trails in our neighborhood are really, really dark, and they creep me out. But, since we have such nice trails, we don't have sidewalks. And when school is in, there is a lot of traffic on the roads. So, with the darkness and the traffic and the rain, my morning walks pretty much just disappeared. But today, I got my walk back! With the time change over the weekend, it is now light in the mornings (and fortunately, the kids aren't waking up earlier because of it--and it isn't raining all the time). I really love these morning walks, and I'm so glad to have them back.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

La Vida Loca Part 3: Parties

Start here and read in reverse order.

We sent out invitations for Jeff's birthday party, Weston's birthday party and our annual themed Thanksgiving party. All very exciting! And, we actually held Jeff's party last night (the day after we spent the evening in the ER, if you'll remember). We served 30 people approximately 20 pounds of steak, 5 pounds of chicken, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, 6 pounds of carrots and parsnips, 6 pounds of asparagus, 5 pounds of sautéed mushrooms, dozens of rolls and two huge cheesecakes. And, we didn't have all that much left over. Our house was packed, but it didn't feel crowded, and everyone seemed to have a great time. We certainly did, proving that "crazy" doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

Thanks for checking in our our crazy life. We're hoping for a calmer November.

La Vida Loca Part 2: Health

Start here and read in reverse order.

Remember the day the van overheated? Well, on that day, we were headed to my parents' house for a family reunion of sorts. My grandfather had had a heart attack back in June and had some other health problems toward the end of the summer, which had prevented he and my grandmother from getting to see any of the great-grandchildren for far too long. So, the plan was for everyone to meet at my parents house for the weekend. We had a lovely time on Friday evening, but early Saturday morning, my grandfather had another heart attack, sending the whole household into a state of emergency. Thankfully, it was a minor attack and he is already back home and doing well. Unfortunately, he and my grandmother didn't get to spend much time with all the great-grandkids after all. We will have to try another reunion soon.

Remember the day that Ruth and I walked home from the library? Well, on that day (a week after the aforementioned excitement at my parents), we decided to go out for dinner. When I picked Max up to put him in the car (not the van, of course), I noticed that he felt a little warm. Jeff agreed, but since he didn't seem unhappy or uncomfortable, we decided he must just be teething and we would go ahead and go out to dinner. We all ate and had a great time, and then we got in the car to head home. About half-way to the house, I looked back and found Max having a seizure. Immediately, I suspected that it was a febrile seizure, only because Weston had had one right around the same age. Knowing what it most likely was definitely didn't do anything to ease the fear that gripped my heart. It was just awful. I snatched Max up out of his seat (which was easier to do in the car than it would have been in the van, by the way) and Jeff immediately turned the car around and headed for the hospital. After the seizure had passed, Max went completely limp and wouldn't respond to me in any way. Again, it was awful, and if I hadn't kind of known what to expect because of Weston's experience I would have been even more frantic than I was. Time seemed to stop and I thought we would never arrive at the ER. When we finally did, Max revived, quite angry. I was never so thankful to hear crying in my life. We called some friends to come get the big kids and then spent the next three and a half hours trying to comfort a very sad boy who was being put through a battery of tests, while waiting to hear the news. All the tests came back negative and there was only a slight ear infection in one ear. They prescribed an antibiotic, and Max has been feeling great ever since.

The doctor told us that this just sometimes happens with young children and no one really knows why it happens to some kids but not others. He gave the best explanation for the phenomenon . He said that it is kind of like a "brain sneeze." A sneeze is your body's way of getting yucky stuff out of the body. A febrile seizure is the brain's way of resetting the signals in the brain. In young children (under 5 or so) all the electrical connections in the brain aren't fully developed. A fever signals the brain to do something to fix whatever the problem is. A rapid increase in fever (regardless of the actual degrees) causes the brain to try to do something quickly. All the electrical impulses come at once and that's when you get the "brain sneeze," which causes the body to seize. The seizure usually lasts a couple of minutes (or a couple of eternities, if you're the mom) and then the signals are reset and ready to start over. It would have been wonderful if I could have learned this fascinating information some other way.

And to conclude the crazy health issues, I will tell you this. I woke up this morning with a headache. Half-way through the church service, not only was my head throbbing, but my ear was also throbbing and I couldn't hear. I suspected that I also had an ear infection of my own, but without all the drama of Max's. I dreaded the thought of trying to get a doctor's appointment and then having to take antibiotics for a week. When we got home, I looked up some home remedies online and found one that I thought was worth trying (and several that sounded a little too kooky for me). It was suggested to simply pour hydrogen peroxide into the ear and leave it for about 8 minutes. The results were immediate! That, combined with a short nap, had me feeling almost as good as new.

Crazy, crazy stuff. But, thankfully, all with happy endings!

La Vida Loca Part 1: Cars

Start here and read in reverse order.

Early in October, the brakes on Jeff's car got to be in such a bad state that we considered driving his vehicle unsafe. A trip to the mechanic was soon to follow. The brakes, along with the regularly scheduled maintenance that was due, added up to more than the car was worth. So, we became a one-car family for a few days while we decided if it would be best to fix or to replace. We test drove new cars and looked at used cars online. We ultimately concluded that it was still cheaper to fix than to replace, so we went with that option.

Meanwhile, the "check engine" light came on on the van. This we ignored completely, since our van had been diagnosed long ago with a bum sensor, which would cause the light to come on even if there wasn't a problem. Confirming our belief that this was in fact the problem, the light on the dash would come on and go off willy-nilly. Then, the air-conditioner seemed not as cool as it should be (or was it just the 99.9% humidity outside?) and the van seemed to be idling pretty hard, making us think that this time there might, in fact, be a problem. But, as we were already down to one car, we decided to wait on the trip to the mechanic.

With Jeff's car out of the shop, we found that life happened, and we actually needed both of our cars, so we put off the trip to the mechanic further. Eventually, we could put it off no more. As we were headed out of town last weekend, the van overheated and we knew it was time to give in. We had only gone about 5 miles or so, so after we got it cooled down, we returned home, repacked all of our things into the car (minus the bikes, which the kids were very disappointed about) and drove the van straight to the mechanic. Then we left on our merry way in our functional, though cramped, remaining vehicle.

Around closing time, the mechanic called with the news, none of it good. Just to run the necessary tests was going to run us somewhere around $600, and then, they were pretty sure it was the motor that would need to be replaced. And then, they were pretty sure that there was also a transmission problem. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

Once again, we found ourselves talking about fixing or replacing, but this time it seemed more logical to replace. We have not done this yet, but we are close. We have retrieved our van from the shop, but are still essentially a one-car family. The van can be driven, but I'm paranoid about it. And we have had a hard time deciding what to replace it with. I think we have reached a conclusion and will probably buy a newer version of the van itself. We have ordered one from CarMax, which should be here in a week or so. We will drive it, just to make sure, but are expecting it to be "the one."

It would be nice if our car saga ended there but, alas, that is not the case. On Friday, I took Ruth to the library in our best-bet car while the boys were napping. We got the books and returned to the car only to find a nice little note tucked under the wiper: "In case you can't see it, your right rear tire is flat..." A quick inspection confirmed that this was not written by someone given to hallucinations. Flat as a flitter, as my mom would say (though I confess I don't have a clue what that means). So, I called my hubby to inform him of the good news and to see if the boys were still sleeping. They were, and neither of us wanted them to miss out on that precious nap time, so we began to talk through the options. Unbelievably, I heard myself say after a few minutes, "Well, we could just walk home." I consulted Ruth and she was more than up for it, saying, "You mean we can walk home from the library?!!" It was a beautiful day and we only had a distance of about 2-3 miles to cover, so off we went on foot. Thank goodness for Kingwood's fabulous trail system. Ruth was a horse, trotting along the path. Then, she was Tarzan swinging from the trees. She collected strange fruits and berries and other treasures along the way. In a word, she had a blast. It was an excellent lesson in perspective for me. Something I thought of as a curse, she immediately turned into a blessing, and it was hard for me not to catch the spirit. The tire was fixed later in the day, and so ends the story of the crazy car game we've been playing this month.

La Vida Loca

In life, things happen. Any one of them, taken alone, might not make for a crazy life. But added all together, and in succession, they can make one's life quite crazy. What follows in the next few posts is a series of events that have taken place in our lives in the last month, which have certainly made us feel that we are living La Vida Loca.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sparkling Floors

My kids could play upstairs all day long, and they often do. Upstairs is kid territory. There are books and games and toys galore. There is paper and a white board and all kinds of art supplies. There is a keyboard. There are even potties to splash in. But, for some reason, if I need to mop the floor and I send them up there, they hang around the landing yelling every 10 seconds or so, "Can we come down now?!" I kept them at bay as long as I could today, but inevitably, they made their way down to the freshly mopped floor. Not ten minutes after they arrived, Max knocked the trash can over and spilled all of its icky, sticky contents on the previously shiny floor. Fine. I clean up. We move on. And moving on for me was to go upstairs and put the boys laundry away. In the midst of this, I heard a strange banging sound, but no crying or whining followed, so I let it go. Then I heard another unfamiliar sound, which brought me to the landing. From my perch, I could see that the entire freshly mopped entry way was covered with water. I rushed downstairs for a closer look, asking as I came how the water got on the floor. Ruth suggested it might have come from the potty, but nothing looked amiss in the bathroom, and for the life of me I couldn't find a vessel that could have contained the spilled water, though I suspected she was probably right and was secretly thankful that I had just cleaned the toilet. Then, I noticed that the entire floor was sparkling--not in the same way it had been after I mopped, but with glitter. And then I surmised that Max had busted open a plastic snow globe he found in his sister's room earlier. And just as my blood was beginning to boil, Max came around the corner with a wet, glittery broom and wet, glittery pants to match. He was apparently coming back take another stab at cleaning up his mess. He had already delivered the broken snow globe to the foot of the trash can, dragging the broom behind him, and was now making his best effort to take care of the rest. My heart melted at the sight. He knew he had done wrong, but he was trying to do right. It was so sweet, I just couldn't be mad. And, technically, my floors are still sparkling.


Monday, October 26, 2009

What Little Boys Are Made Of








*Those are worms my boys are having so much fun with.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Season

Dear Faithful Blog Readers,
I am sorry I've been out of touch lately. It's not my stage fright that's keeping me away. It's just that we have officially entered one of our major birthday seasons, and I am using every spare minute (aka: when the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied) to get ready for one party in particular. (Jeff's birthday is a week from Sunday, but he is pretty much taking care of his own party, so I only need concern myself with Weston's). Weston has settled on a firetruck theme, and I'm having so much fun pulling it all together. This will be his first birthday party with friends, so we are doing it up right. I have been printing invitations (thank you DLKT), cutting and folding said invitations, adding all the relevant party information, reprinting invitations (due to a necessary change in party location), repeating steps two and three, buying party favors and supplies, reserving our neighborhood community room, communicating with a friend about setting up a special surprise, building a special surprise of my own, having a third surprise spiffied up a bit, talking to Weston about the menu and other party requirements, and trying to remember all the kids in Weston's preschool class. There is a lot to do, but it is oh-so-much fun!! I can't wait to fill you in on all the surprises, but I'm afraid that, for now, you will just have to wait. Can't take a chance on the cat getting out of the bag, you know. So that's what I've been up to. Thanks for checking in.
Yours devotedly,
Mandi

Monday, October 19, 2009

2nd Month of 2nd Grade

Grammar: Practiced capitalization rules, quotations, possessives, contractions and correct punctuation in sentences, thus finishing Unit 1 in the 3rd-grade Grammar book.

Spelling: Finished the 3rd Spelling workbook and began the 4th. Also, practice spelling tests for PSIA's (private school's answer to UIL) Spelling contest, which Ruth will be competing in in the Spring.

History: Studied about the rise and spread of Islam and the work of Muhammad. Read 1001 Arabian Nights, and made spoon puppets of the story of "Sinbad and the Valley of Snakes," as well as a swirling "snake" to hang from the ceiling. Learned about the great dynasties of China. Practiced some Chinese writing and made laquered bowls. Read a story in which a tangram had to be solved and attempted to solve it herself. Studied about medieval Japan and Korea, and made a traditional Japanese meal. Learned about the type of poetry called "haiku" and wrote one of her own. Attempted an origami cat.

Science: Learned about rocks, earthquakes, volcanoes, oceans, rivers and floods. Made her own volcano.

Writing: Two personal letters, a paper describing a picture of Mary Poppins, a how-to paper on making a sandwich, and several practice papers for the Creative Writing contest for PSIA.

Math: Memorized first 15 prime numbers and squares up to 40, while continuing to work on facts and mental math tricks.

Music: Learned G7 chord, dotted half notes, F Major chord, how to use the damper pedal, what a broken chord is and how to play it, what an eighth note is, the fermata symbol, dotted quarter notes and several new songs, such as: "When the Saints Go Marching In, two versions of "Skip To My Lou," and the first line of both "Silent Night" and "Here Comes The Bride."

Portuguese: Finished Level 2 on the software and began Level 3. Also, some written vocabulary practice.

Super Friday: Continues to be a source of enjoyment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Animal Farm

In her free time, and for her own enjoyment, Ruth (who is 7, let me just remind you) is reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. She is about half-way through now. Yesterday afternoon, she paid a visit to her dad's office (in our bedroom), and they began to discuss the book. Jeff asked her what she thought of the pigs. To which she replied, ""Well, the pigs told everyone that they couldn't sleep between sheets, but then they went in the farmhouse and slept between blankets." Jeff asked her if she thought this was following the rules or not. She answered, "Not really, because they didn't want anyone to sleep in a bed, and they were just making an excuse for why they could sleep in a bed." Then, totally on her own and completely unprompted, she offered up this little jewel: "They remind me of the dictators we studied in history, because they just wanted to make rules for everyone but not follow them themselves."

Now, some of you, like myself, may have read this book in Jr. High or High School and spent weeks discussing it in class and analyzing it for all it was worth and writing brilliant papers all about it and what it meant. And in the end, the point was exactly what Ruth took away from it, without all the hullabaloo. It just made sense to her and she was able to connect it with the other things in her head to make it make sense. I'm biased, but I might just call her a genius. And certainly her retired English teacher grandmother will be thrilled to know that she got that gene.

**You'll find on this blog we are not ashamed to brag on our kids, and this instance is no exception. We are extremely proud of all of our kids and want the whole world to know it.**

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Smashing Good Time

I was awakened this morning to the sound of breaking glass. Knowing this could not be good, I groggily made my way to the kitchen, from which the sound emanated. There I found my two oldest children, one with a gleam in his eye and one with a look of complete disbelief in hers. Before I could even ask what happened, Ruth began to explain in appalled tones: "Mom, Weston grabbed that bottle off the counter, and I told him to be careful with it because it was breakable, and then, then, he just threw it down on the floor!" I then turned to my son and asked him if that was what happened. He replied in the affirmative. And when I asked why he would do that, he answered, "It was in my hand, so I had to break it."

I have read and have heard other mothers say that, around the age of four, some little boys have a surge in testosterone, which makes them more aggressive and a bit moody. I was never really sure if I believed this. But I believe it now. In the past few weeks I have seen this aggression and moodiness creep into my sweet little Weston's life like dust creeps into a home--not all at once and not covering every surface, but there nonetheless, and showing up in places you might not expect. One minute he can be hugging me and telling me how much he loves me or politely thanking me for doing something for him, and the next he can be pushing his brother down or yelling about whatever is making him angry at the moment or smashing glass bottles on the floor or just completely melting down over the smallest little thing. It's' weird. Especially for my passive, ultra-agreeable little Weston.

Don't get me wrong, Weston is still one of the sweetest little kids I've ever known, and this Mr. Hyde version of him is certainly not around all the time. And he only gets glowing reports from preschool, so I assume he isn't transforming in this way when he is there. That he has these swings at all is just so bizarre to me.

So what I want to know is: Have you experienced moms out there seen this happen with your boys? How did you (are you) weather(ing) the storm? Is it time to enroll the kid in karate to channel the aggression? Or should I just lock him in his room for the foreseeable future?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Facing myself in the face of death

Today, as I bought birthday party supplies for my four-year-old-to-be, another mom buried her four-year-old son, after he succombed to a brain tumor earlier this week. I don't know this woman personally--though I am friends with her cousin--but my heart breaks for her nonetheless. This isn't fair. And it isn't understandable. And there simply are no words. I can only pray that this family will draw the strength they need at this difficult time from the Lord and that He will sustain them in these dark days. For me, the effect of this child's death is to to examine my relationship with my own kids. How many times, just today, did I take them for granted? Or become unnecessarily exasperated with them? Were my harsh words more than my loving words? Did I hug them enough? Did I truly enjoy them? I will admit to you that in the past few weeks I have viewed my role as "Mom" as a burden of sorts, and I have failed to appreciate the blessing that it is to be in this position. A messy house, a screaming child, an interrupted thought, a life lacking in glitz and glamor: these are not burdens. These are the blessings of the everyday. I know Sondra would embrace any and all of these with joy today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Not for me, not for my kids, not for anyone. This moment is all I can claim. Please, Lord, help me to make the most of it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

WWW.partyplanner

We have been talking a lot about birthdays around here lately. Weston attended his first-ever friend party a couple of weeks ago and has been excited about planning his party ever since. When you are turning four, one of the most important things is to pick a theme for your party. Weston changes his mind about every ten minutes, but there does seem to be a general direction towards transportation of some sort. During lunch today, he wanted to talk about his party and by the time we finished eating he had settled on boats. The following ensued.

Mom: What kind of boats do you like?

Weston: [blank look]

Mom: Sailboats? Speed boats? Fishing boats?

Weston: Definitely sailboats. I want a sailboat cake with RED icing.

Mom: O.k. Let's look at some pictures online, and you can tell me what you like.

Mom and Weston proceed to look at hundreds of pictures of boat cakes, none of them red enough, but many of them interesting--especially the 3D ones. After maybe ten minutes of this, Weston had something important to say.

Weston: Um. Actually, I think I would like to have a car cake.

Mom: A car? Really? Well, o.k. What kind of car?

Weston: [blank look]

Mom: A race car? Like on your backpack?

Weston: Um, actually, like on my lunch box. (This is the SAME car that's on his backpack).

Mom: O.k. Let's see what we can find.

Weston (after about five minutes): What I would really like is a truck...which is like a car.

Mom: What kind of truck? A firetruck...?

Weston (with eyes and mouth wide open): Ooh! A firetruck!! I definitely want a firetruck!

Mom: O.k. we'll look at a few pictures, but then we are going to stop and I will ask you again in a few days.

Later that same day.

Mom: Who do you want to invite to your party?

Weston: Oh, the people from across the street, the people from preschool, you guys and the young man who lives in the white house.

Mom: The "young man who lives in the white house?!" I don't think I know who that is. Can you tell me his name?

Weston (completely exasperated): You know. The young man who lives in the white house...with the roof. (Shapes his hands like a roof). I pointed him out to you the other day.

Mom (feeling very clever for having figured out the mystery by remembering that he pointed out his imaginary friend's house on the way to preschool the other day): Oh, you mean Jackry?

Weston (utterly indignant): No, Mom! The young man who lives in the white house. I'll show you.

Weston drags Mom out the front door and points to the white house just down the street, where a "young man" has never once been seen by Mom.

Mom: Do you know his name?

Weston: No. But I know I want him to come to my party.

Mom: Sorry, Son, but I think we are just going to stick to inviting people whose names we know.

We've still got a good month and a half until party time, and there is literally no telling how this birthday party will evolve. But, clearly, we will have a lot of laughs in the planning.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stage Fright

Maybe you've noticed the infrequency of posts on this blog here of late. It could be that the mundanity of my life isn't worth writing about. And, frankly, that's a pretty good guess. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't all glitz and glamor around here all the time. But another thought worth exploring is that I have a type of stage fright. I write this blog mostly for my own benefit, and so the grandparents can see pictures of the kiddos. And I don't get many comments here, so I forget there is an audience out there. But recently, I've had several non-family members tell me that they read and enjoy this blog. And, I feel like I've kind of frozen up. I now feel like I need to be entertaining, and some days (a lot of days) I don't quite feel up to that challenge. I'm not sad that these people have given me compliments on the blog, and I don't want them to wish they had never said anything. I have been truly flattered. I just need to adjust to the spotlight, I guess. And I need to set your expectations that I'm not always entertaining. Sometimes, I'm downright boring. But, I like to write, and I like to get my (sometimes mundane) days down so that I won't forget what it was like to be us at this moment in time. Thank you so much for reading, and I do hope you'll visit often. I'll entertain you when I can.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our best friend's birthday party

Those of you who know us, know we LOVE Chuy's. And while having one nearby wasn't exactly a prerequisite for us moving here, it certainly didn't hurt anything. The Chuy's nearest us has been here exactly a year. And we certainly aren't ones to let a birthday slip by, especially when it's someone we care about so much. We found out about the party quite by accident, but we wouldn't have missed it. There was face-painting and birthday cake, and Chuy himself was even around for some dancing and picture taking. We had a blast, and of course, we had some fabulous Mexican food.