Monday, May 15, 2006

Flying Ants!

We're being invaded! They are all over the living room. We've been spraying insecticide liberally outside, but I'm not sure how effective it is. There's a whole trail of them running back and forth along the edge of our back patio. We mostly see them at night.

They fly through the living room, cling to walls, drop from the sky, crawl across our new carpet. It's disgusting! I think they might be getting in through the bottom edge of the window along the sill in our living room. Today we are going to try to find a cheap exterminator. Ick! The sooner the better!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

To all our moms and mom friends "Happy Mom's Day!" I hope yours was as nice as mine! The girls brought me breakfast in bed. They made bagels with creamcheese and bacon, and orange juice to drink. They also gave me new hair clips including some very pretty silver ones with daisies all over them.

Today after church Daniel took us out to eat at Red Robin to celebrate my special day. I got to have a giant strawberry shake, my favorite! Then he gave me a sweet letter he wrote for me saying how much he appreciates me. (I think I'll keep him!) Then I got to have a nap and spend the afternoon scrapbooking while Daniel and the girls helped clean up the whole house and the yard! All in all, a pretty sweet day!

Home Grown

Thankfully, two of the tomato plants that Betsy gave the girls survived. We planted them outside this week and even got them each one of those cage things from Wal-mart. They seem to be thriving.

The girls have been outside checking on them every day. They are a little disappointed that we aren't letting them water them constantly, but I felt bad for the poor plants when they were sitting in a two inch deep swamp.

Digging holes to plant them seems to have inspired the girls. They spent today outside playing icecream truck. They dug holes all over the yard and scooped the dirt into the back of a plastic ride-on car they have out there. Then Danya pushed Gloria around the yard in it while singing and pretending they were selling chocolate ice cream.

Drew's Dedication!

My friend Claire sent me this great picture of her and her sweeties today. Drew was dedicated to the Lord the same day this picture was taken.

Little Drew is the cutest thing ever and is making me desperately wish that Kevin were already here. I wish Claire lived closer to us so that we could raise our little boys together. Drew looks like such a little man in that outfit! I've been collecting a few baby boy outfits here and there over the past few months. It hit me just the other day that I haven't bought any onesies, or for that matter any other baby essentials like pacifiers or bottles.

Daniel and I went out and got a box of wipes, because we figured it'd be best to have a few just in case. I feel so clueless. Like we've forgotten exactly what babies require. It's been about 4 years, so I guess we're out of practice. They should offer 'refresher' courses for parents who haven't had new babies recently. I wonder if it's strange for Claire, who never had a brother, to be raising a son? Well, anyway, I hope she passes on his adorable clothes to us when he outgrows them. That boy certainly is well dressed!

Monday, May 08, 2006

8 Months Pregnant

Here is my eight months picture. Kevin is getting so big! I go in for my next checkup tomorrow afternoon. He has been kicking me so hard it hurts. Daniel has been keeping his hand on my belly at night, and he says that he really understands now why it's so hard for me to sleep.

This weekend I had been walking around the convention for about two and a half hours when suddenly I felt a horrible painful feeling in my belly. I hurried to the bathroom with so much pain and pressure in my lower belly that I seriously thought I might be about to have a premature delivery! I was scared and told Daniel we might need to call my doctor. But instead I just sat down for about 45 minutes while Daniel got me something to eat, and soon I was feeling better. The pain was less intense. Later I realized that my belly seemed lower down. I think maybe the baby might have "dropped" into position. I'm going to ask my doctor tomorrow and see what she says. I have about 7 more weeks until Kevin is due.


Danya lost her first tooth today! It's been loose for about a week, and she has patiently been waiting for it to fall out. This morning she woke up and felt it sitting on her tongue! She was so excited and ran right in to show us.

We had a talk about the tooth fairy the other day. Grandma had told her the other day about sneaking into Judah's room to exchange his tooth for money, and getting caught. So we explained to her that it was a just for fun thing to pretend that there is a tooth fairy. We promised to give her a dollar for her tooth when it fell out and keep the tooth in my jewery box in a little plastic baggy, where I keep some of my own baby teeth. She's been walking around sticking her tongue out of the hole and practicing spitting through it. She is so proud to finally be a big kid like her cousins. She called her cousin Rhema and they discussed their missing teeth. Rhema said she had to try not to let her most recent loose tooth fall out before the beauty pageant this weekend. I guess it worked, since she won!

Renaissance Fair

Wow! That sums up the renaissance fair at the castle in Muskogee this year. We went on Sunday for the first time in 6 years and they have improved it sooo much. We took Daniel's parents with us as a birthday gift for his dad and a mother's day gift for his mom. His dad was fascinated by the blacksmith shop, the real catapult, and all the other craftsmen scattered around the fair.

The girls enjoyed learning to dance like gypsies, watching the acrobats, seeing a real joust, and solving clues to find the Queen's lost ribbons throughout the fair. After the joust had been won by good Sir Henry (who we cheered loudly for), he won a garland of flowers from the queen. She put it on the end of his lance, and he bestowed it upon the most beautiful girl in the land...GLORIA! She wore it all day and people kept recognizing her and saying how pretty she looked. Danya and Gloria wore their purple renaissance dress up outfits to the fair. You can see them in the photo waiting to meet Queen Margaret. They gave her the ribbons they found and she made them true ladies in the name of love, beauty, and joy. Then she put a ring on their finger and they got a certificate saying they were now Lady Danya and Lady Gloria.

OCHEC Homeschool Convention

The homeschool convention in OKC was a great experience! This was our first full scale homeschooling convention. The main speaker, Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis was wonderful. He is very funny and explains complex topics like creation vs. evolution in a way that is very easy to understand and remember. Actually, most of the speakers in the classes we took were very good. Daniel and I learned alot!

One interesting idea presented, was that there is no need to teach cursive, because everything these days is written in print and they won't ever need to use it. Another was that if your child can't spell accurately, then they aren't truly literate even if they can read. Literacy is about communicating both ways, not just reading.

We found alot of great products including getting a very good price on some educational computer games. We got the 2005 edition of Elementary School Success for only $15! It has 23 subjects on 13 CDs, and the girls really like playing the games. We also got some neat workbooks that are filled with logic problems to develop their critical thinking...but we got them because Daniel and I like doing logic problems and we thought it would be fun to do them together. Another good find was a bunch of level 3 and 4 Step Into Reading books about history for Danya to read that were only $3 a piece. We also picked up a copy of "The Indian in the Cupboard". I've been reading it out loud to the girls and Daniel (who has never read it before) in the car. I wasn't sure if the girls could follow it, since it has alot of British terminology in it, but they've been enjoying it immensely. After we finish the book I'd like to do a unit study on the Iroquois Indians and learn what they were really like, since I know the book isn't an accurate representation. We learned so much, and got such great resources at the convention. I can't wait to go back next year!

Their First Car

On Friday the girls spent the day with Aunt Toni while Daniel and I went to the first day of the homeschool convention in OKC. She surprised them with a brand new Cinderella car! It's battery powered and has an AM radio. They were shocked when they finally understood that they get to actually KEEP this awesome gift!

They also had fun playing on Aunt Toni's trampoline and visiting their cousin Reagan. We got to see Toni and Clayton's house for the first time, too. They've done an incredible amount of work to it!

Later that night when we got back to Daniel's parents' house, where we were spending the night, the girls drove around and showed off their new car to their grandparents. Toni had pointed out that now Danya and Gloria can always say that Aunt Toni bought them their first car. This was perfect timing, really, since Gloria has been asking Daniel to teach her to drive. Now she doesn't have to keep hearing, "Not until you're older."

Artistic Pride

On Wednesday we took the girls to the Tulsa zoo. We gave them each one of my art pads and let them try out different mediums, like charcoal pencils. They drew pictures of Alaskan natives in an igloo and a beautiful rock waterfall.

Gloria really liked experimenting with smudging the charcoal, although she doesn't understand the idea of "shading" just yet. The drawing she's holding in this picture started out as a drawing of the Alaskan man, but she decided to turn it into the woman instead. They were both so cute sitting cross-legged on the floor inside the igloo intently working on their drawings. I gave them an art gum eraser to use on their pictures and showed them how to use it to clean the charcoal off their hands, too. We plan to take more "art field trips" in the future.

Riverside Ride

Last week we packed up the girls bikes and went for a ride down Riverside drive in Tulsa. There is an extremely long biking/walking trail there that Daniel and I hadn't been to in a very long time. The girls really enjoyed riding along with Daniel running after them. He hadn't brought his bike because he was planning to take off Danya's training wheels and help her learn to ride without them, but we didn't end up doing that. There were just too many people there for her to safely try going solo for the first time.

I walked all the way to the big fountains next to the bridge that leads across the river to the PSO power plant. It took me about 30 minutes to get there. Then Daniel and the girls rode across the bridge to go see the PSO plant while I stayed behind and read my book. After walking back to the park next to where we'd left the van, the girls played for a while before we headed home.

It was a really gorgeous day, although maybe walking an hour in 80 degree weather while being 8 months pregnant wasn't the wisest idea, lol. I was SO glad to lay down when we got home!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vacuuming the Van

While I was preparing some papers and activities for a Five In A Row lesson plan about the book we are "rowing" this week, "Madeline", Daniel and the girls prepared a little surprise for me.

I knew they were outside, but when Danya came back in she excitedly announced that they were cleaning out the van. I thought they might be cleaning up the trash and bringing in a few things. What they actually did was an entire detail job. They pulled out all the back seats, wiped out all the cup holders and dash board, and vacuumed the entire interior. You can see Gloria using the vacuum extension in this photo.

We'll definitely have a nice clean van for our big trip this weekend. Thursday we are driving down to Daniel's parents' house to spend time with the girls' godparents, the Haleys. Friday we are going to visit my sister, Toni, in OKC. She will take care of them while Daniel and I go to the OCHEC homeschooling convention. Then Saturday Daniel's parents will watch the girls while we spend another day at the convention. On Sunday we will take the girls and Daniel's parents to the Castle in Muskogee for the Renaissance Fair. Monday, I'm sure I will collapse and refuse to move another step.

Baasler Boys and Babies

While illegal immigrants across our country were out demanding special priviledges, rights, and status in spite of breaking our laws, we chose to spend the day at the park and visiting friends.

We took lunch to the YMCA park and played on the playground after completing our homeschool work for the day and briefly visiting the library on Monday, May 1st.

Then we went over to the Baasler's house and played with their kids. Their oldest boy, Jarod (2nd from the left) is Danya's age. Their next oldest, Alex (far right) is Gloria's age. They are in the same classes at church. They have another boy, Logan, who is 2 or 3, I'm not sure. They also have a new baby girl, Katie, who is 6 months. I absolutely love to watch Katie crawl around on the floor and play with anything she can get her hands on! She is so cute and just babbles away. I actually heard her say "Ga-Ga", which I thought was a baby cliche, but apparently not!

Their mom is in my and Daniel's Sunday school class at church. She invited us over to give us some baby things like a changing pad, a bouncy seat, and some other little things. The changing pad has two washable red covers that make the pad soft and look really cute in our Dr. Seuss themed room. It's starting to actually look like we will have a baby in the house in about 8 more weeks!

Pretty Hair

I got my hair permed (which is a long painful story I don't think I'll share) at a friend's house on Saturday. The girls like it, although Gloria says I look like a stranger, lol. Since my hair looked pretty and new, I thought I'd dress up and wear a skirt to church on Sunday.

Danya and Gloria LOVE it when I dress up. That is their cue to rush to their rooms to find their prettiest dresses. Then they beg me to make their hair beautiful, too. So they got piggy tails with a twist. They said they felt like the little China girl pictured in a book we read recently who had tiny little pig tails. (I didn't mention to them that it was the boy who had pig tails, not the girl)

This picture is so cute. We took it right before heading off to church. The girls have developed a habit of always posing hugging my belly lately. It's their way of including Kevin in the photo, I guess.

Gloria is READING!

(Danya spelled Kevin's name with phonics tiles)
Gloria is officially reading! She is sounding out small words and can read beginning phonics books! Below is a post I wrote for a homeschooling message board that mentions Gloria's latest accomplishment:

I've only got a year's perspective so far on homeschooling, but here's my advice to a new homeschooler, for what it's worth:

1. When starting out, don't overdo. The first few weeks of homeschooling we covered most of what I had planned for the whole year, and I subjected my children to much too much book work.

2. Use real books as much as possible. My kids get bored almost immediately listening to textbooks read out loud, but can listen and really pay attention much longer to real books. And they can understand books read out loud that are above their reading level.

3. In a kid's eyes, games and projects using math and writing trump a workbook page every time. Just because you bought the workbook, doesn't mean they have to do every page in it..or any if you realize that it's not having a positive effect.

4. It's not worth the tears or stress. If they don't want to do "just 3 more" of whatever, let it go and come back to it later. It's a good sign they need a break when it ceases to be fun.

You can probably tell from my advice that our homeschool started out a lot more boring and rigid at the beginning of the year. We are now enjoying the whole experience a lot more, and still learning at a good pace. We spent months having my 4 year old DD trace letters in a workbook. She did it, and now has very nice handwriting. But she wasn't learning the letters. We gave her a Dr. Seuss ABC book and promised to stop and read it any time she wanted us to, and she knew all her letters in about a week and a half. We wanted her to learn letter sounds and worked in a book for weeks with no result. We bought her the Leap Frog Letter Factory video a few days ago along with the Talking Words Factory video and she picked up her first beginner phonics book yesterday and read it! So my last thing I wish I knew when I started is:

5. If it feels like work, it won't work. If it's fun, they'll learn.