Saturday, August 30, 2008

Common Bonds

We enjoyed one last night and the other today. What do the two have in common? The soleil! Cirque du Soleil was a blast last night, and the kids were totally impressed, especially with the "swinging and the bouncing" (Audrey's words for the trapeze and the trampolines). Today we joined our cousins for an outing to the beach. They took us to a rather remote beach, which was great because we had it mostly to ourselves...even on a holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pictures of the Day

They never tire of the pool, especially a zero entry one with fountains. Although they had to endure some school this morning (yes, we brought school on our trip!), they were rewarded with an afternoon in the sun and water.

We enjoyed dinner at Salt Islands. I'm not sure what their favorite part of the experience was: the giant fish tank or the giant piece of chocolate cake at the end of the meal.

I don't make it a habit to snap pictures of my children stuffing food in their mouths, but this was a momentous occasion. Alex ate something new: steak. To many, that doesn't sound like such a big deal, but for our chicken nugget, plain pasta girl, any new experiences for her palate are reason for celebration.

Comment card, please

Not that it would make a difference...but I may seek out a comment card while we're here. Sometimes it just makes you feel better to complain a little:

It was certainly a relief to arrive at your lovely facility after 8 hours of this:

"Are we almost there?"
"How many more hours?"

"Are we almost there?"
"How many more hours?
"Three hours and 55 minutes."

And it was great to drive out of the drenching rain to find your facility bathed in Florida sunshine. The kids have already enjoyed your pool and look forward to another day poolside.

And we are thoroughly enjoying your other guests. With all the American kids in school, we are here with just a few other European families. My eldest in fact, the gal who makes a pal no matter where she goes, quickly befriended an English girl yesterday at the pool. Her British accent was so strong, we didn't think Alex would understand a word she said; however, she later recounted all of the details of Emily's life to us.

When my children saw the oversized, plush bunk bed, they claimed that this is the "best hotel we've ever stayed in."

Now let's talk about the king size bed in this room. I'm not sure you need to include a bed in your guest rooms. You may as well just throw some pillows and a comforter on the floor. That would keep expectations realistic. Although we have found so many things with which to be pleased here at your establishment, we are fortunately just staying here for two more nights. I don't think I could endure more than two additional restless nights.

I've already attempted to coerce the children to take over the king bed tonight and let the better half and me have the bunks, but they're not buyin' it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wired for Sound

I still own one of these ancient relics:

Don't ask. It did, however, inspire my science lesson for the day. We're reviewing the senses and this time around learning to name all the parts. Today was hearing. The discussion began by learning about sound waves and the parts of the ear. Naturally, the kids fought over who could be the hammer and who could be the anvil. Naturally, they all acted out both. After building a crude model of the ear using a funnel and some wax paper, it was time for my inspired project.

Of course, my project also required one of these:

When I asked my dear husband to pick up a blank one at Wal-Mart last week, he looked at me like I was from the Dark Ages. (Which I am if you qualify the wonderful '80s as the Dark Ages.) How should I know that they've discontinued even carrying these for the stray old person who may still own a cassette player like mine? It's not like I've been looking for blank tapes, so I didn't know they DON'T still exist. Anyway...I had to rob our stash of mixed tapes. (Yes, we still have some of our old Mixed Tapes even if we don't have anything to play them on. Except for my trusty tape recorder pictured above.)

So I popped in the mixed tape and explained my inspired project to the kids. I opened the door to the backyard and sent them out, a smile on my face, thinking about the joy they would experience as they captured the sounds of nature on tape: a bird tweeting, leaves rustling, a cricket chirping. What did they record? Themselves yelling. Then they came inside and recorded songs from CDs (and, yes, the sound quality is sooo pleasant emanating at high volume from that tape recorder). Then it was on to more of themselves, only this time they were actors and quoted lines from movies they have seen a hundred million times. As the novelty began to wear off, they requested a show...and proceeded to record Word Girl over my mixed tape (Word Girl was itself recorded on DVR--sound AND picture).

So I ask myself two questions at the end of this project:

1. Why did I give the kids a CD player for Christmas when they would have been much happier with a tape recorder?

2. Did I really NOT see this one coming?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pool Fun

My little Princess has turned into a bug...a pool bug! She decided she wanted to try one of her sibling's goggles. As delicate as she likes to pretend to be, I thought the goggles would pinch her face and we'd end up with a big poolside meltdown. However, once they were on, she refused to take them off, and...they actually boosted her confidence in the water! She's now enjoying putting her face in the water and even doing some paddling minus the ring with only her wings. We might have all 4 swimming by the end of the summer!

Jacob has been swimming now for about a week and is doing great!

Sea Monster!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Fine Feathered Writers

In Story of the World, we just finished learning about bards and monks and about how monks spent hours a day for years copying books. How they often drew elaborate and beautiful art in the margins of their books. Although I value the printing press and what it's done for the duplication of books, it is a shame that we've lost some of that beauty and uniqueness in books!

We followed our textbook study with an independent read for Alex of Fritz's The Man Who Loved Books. A cute story about the Irish saint Columba. Then we read Robertson's Marguerite Makes a Book aloud and enjoyed the beauty of the book as well as the story of determination, initiative, and responsibility. Following this, the kids got to make their own quill pens with which they then created their artwork. We began with just some ink a la grape juice concentrate, but upon demand I was forced to bring out the Kool-Aid and food coloring.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On the Size of Her Mouth

We went to a sub shop for lunch today after church. With such a large family, at small fast-food joints like this one, Mark and I get to be on a "date," which means we get our own table and the kids get theirs. I therefore don't supervise them as closely. Halfway through the meal, I noticed the Princess was busily (and much too quickly) wolfing down her Doritos but had yet to touch her sandwich. I removed the bag of chips and said, "Audrey, you need to eat your sandwich now."

"But Mommy, my mouf is too wittle!" she protested.

"No it's not, you silly girl!" I smashed her sandwich a bit to make it thinner.

She looked at it skeptically. "YES, my mouf AM to wittle!"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Empty Cribber

The crib has actually been gone for over a year. The sippy cups are all but gone. The diaper bag is history. As we celebrated Audrey's 3rd birthday today, I came to the realization that my baby is no longer a baby. I've known it over the last few months as I've watched her involve herself with her big brothers and sister and as she's jumped into her big girl academics. Then today she held up the lip gloss she discovered in her goody bag and exclaimed, "Oh! Wip gwoss! Perfect!"

My little big girl is such a sweetie--so affectionate, so full of life, such a character. I'm so proud to be her mama! And how I wish I could bring time to a halt or at least slow it down a little. Just so I wouldn't be speeding so quickly from empty cribber to empty nester. In reality, Empty Nester is just a blip in the future, so for now I'll just soak up all those precious kisses, hugs, and giggles.

The lips are a bit too big...we'll call her Arielina Jolie!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Prince Charming

All little girls dream about the day when their Prince Charming will come and sweep them off their feet. I just don't recall that dream beginning at age almost-three! Audrey has a Princess coloring book (of course!), and most pages depict this fictional princess by different outfits, with her animal friends, on her horse, admiring herself in the mirror. Audrey was flipping through it this morning trying to decide which page to color when suddenly she stopped at one. Gazing at it, she exclaimed in a dreamy little fairy tale voice, "Mommy, I love dis!" Where had she paused? At the picture of the princess with her prince. Oi! Can this be starting already?

Not Saved by the Bell

Well, I did it again: I made a schedule. I love schedules and lists and charts, and with good intentions, I spend hours before the beginning of a school year working on the perfect schedule that will make this home school run like a well-oiled machine. Problem is, we aren't a machine, so the "oil" is useless. Am I EVER going to get that?

The School Teacher in me is to blame. Well, that coupled with my type A personality. But the fact is, part of the beauty of homeschooling is that the schedule can be thrown out along with the standing in lines that takes up so much of the day at the institution we call "school". There are no bells that interrupt us right in the middle of a learning moment. There are no slow-ticking clocks above the American flag we need to watch when a subject seems to be tediously dragging along. We can spend as long as we need to on a particular subject, or we can move on if something just isn't working. My It's-a-New-School-Year-Schedule tends to force me into a school bell type environment, and it doesn't work. At least I'm getting it this year on the first day instead of wading through days of scheduled time slots before tossing it out the window!

Despite my Master Schedule, we did have moments today that worked. The boys' attitude was really good all day. Maybe they had a change of heart over the summer, or maybe I have just lightened up with the realization that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for all things academic. Thankfully, I can rely on Alex to understand my love of school. I want her to learn how to take notes this year, so I bought her a notebook for just that purpose during History and Science. She was so excited when I told her what it was for (what other kid gets excited about taking notes?!). Unfortunately, I forgot to give it to her when I pulled out Story of the World. She reminded me at the end of the chapter. She said, "Well, I'll just take the notes now." Kind of missing the point on the whole note-taking thing, but it's good for her to recall anyway. She also started Beowulf. Although she requested that I cover up the sinister picture of Grendel on the cover, she didn't bat an eyelash when I introduced her to big names like Hrothgar and Wealhtheow.

Following Beowulf, French, grammar, phonics, spelling, math, history, and geography came the highlight of the day. After school, we had our Back-to-School Party at Carvel where the kids get to help themselves to the self-serve Sprinkles. I'm quite sure the owners of the franchise, once they get to know us, will begin packing up the Sprinkle Buffet when they see us coming. Either that, or they may add Bowl of Sprinkles with Ice Cream Topping to the menu.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pierced Ears

The Princess has decided she wants her ears pierced. I don't know what brought it on except for the discussion we had where she commented on my earrings, asked for some, and then listened with rapt attention as I explained that I had holes in my ears. It comes up every Sunday because I actually put on earrings on Sunday. No different today:

"Mommy, can I get my ears pierced?" she asks with those angelic eyes and sweet voice that doesn't quite enunciate the "r" in "ears", and she gingerly fingers mine.

"Not right now. We'll wait until after we're done swimming for the year," I explain because I know that goggles, pool water, and general aquatic horseplay will not bode well with sensitive ears.

I forgot about this morning's conversation until I was helping her get her swimming suit on this afternoon. As she struggled to make her hand meet the arm hole, she asked, "After we get out the pool, I get my ears pierced?"

What a sweet little girl. She is just much too adorable for words.