Saturday, September 29, 2007

Battle of the Bands

This morning at soccer, Christine McC mentioned that she was going to take her boys to a marching band competition at a nearby high school. They used to live right by this high school, and she remembered taking her boys then. It was free, and they loved the big drums and horns. We thought that sounded like a fun thing, so after naps, we loaded everyone up and headed out.

As we turned into the high school, we saw a sign that mentioned "tickets", which made us think that perhaps this event was not free after all. This concerned us, as we had only $1.00 cash on us, but we decided to park and see what the price was. The lot was really full and crowded, but we miraculously spotted Christine's van and pulled in next to them. With her 4 boys and all our kids, we were quite the procession. We trouped up to the ticket window . . . where we saw that tickets were $11.00 a person. $11.00!!!! What?! For high school kids?!! We asked if kids got in free. Well, just those 5 and under, which certainly helps, but we were still looking at $44.00 for our family. I don't think so! We told the boys we were not going to go, and so we wandered over to the fence to look at the band that was lining up to march in. They had a cool, medieval theme going on, and their (not sure of the word here) flag girls? even had shields with crests on them. As we were talking about the band, a lady from the ticket booth came over to talk to us. As it turned out, she was from a family of 10 kids, and so she said she knew how hard it was to find things to take the whole family to when you have a large family. She told us that if we paid for 4 tickets, she would get all of us (including Christine and her kids) in. Christine saw that as a direct sign from the Lord, as she also would have had to pay $44 (her third boy has already turned 6), and she only had $22. So Christine gave us her $22, and we put the 4 tickets on our credit card. The lady said we were all with her, and marched us right past the ticket takers! It was amazing how it all worked out, even to meeting up with Christine in the parking lot. I don't think the lady would have really paid as much attention to just our family, but the 10 kids made a bigger impression.

So we watched 2 hours of the competition, and it was really fun! We all agreed that the first band we saw, the ones with the medieval theme, were the best. The girls even had this fake battle with pugel sticks! After awhile, I started idly wondering what a school would do if a boy said he wanted to be one of the flag girls. I mean in this day and age, it's not like you could tell him that frankly that is a wussy thing to do, and we'd rather just have girls. The very next band up did in fact have a boy as one of the flag people! The girls all wore velvet costumes, and he wore pants and a t-shirt with suspenders. And you know what, he looked like a real wussy. That cheesy big fake smile, the head thrown way back, the very expressive face, the huge flag--yeah. Not real masculine, gliding around the field with mincing little steps. The flag group as a whole was very good though, with a more complex routine than some of the other bands.

Some of the bands even had girls twirling batons! Christine and I were both surprised at that--we thought that was something that went out with the 70's! The ones that were out there were really good, and I didn't see anyone drop a baton the whole time. One girl even juggled 3 of them! I think I would be so terribly self-conscious to be prancing around in basically a swim suit and hose. Weird concept.

After the sun went down, it got kind of chilly, and we hadn't eaten any dinner, so we headed out. We left at 7:30, and there were still 11 more bands to go! Those people are going to be there all night! This was a bigger competition than I think Christine knew (hence the ridiculously inflated ticket prices), and bands were there from all over VA and MD. It was good to get out and see something different, and I think we definitely had $22 worth of fun (but not $44, LOL)!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Poem


I have a stye
Starting in my right eye.
I have no idea why.
Bob's TDY.
I think I'll just cry
Or at least eat some dark chocolate.
Oh wait . . . I don't have any.

Thank you. Thank you very much. And you all thought we didn't emphasize the arts around here!

Big Day For Caleb

Do you see what is missing in this picture?! Caleb lost his first tooth this afternoon! He was eating a frozen yogurt cup when it came out. He thought he had eaten part of the popsicle stick, and when he discovered it was a tooth and *gasp* that there was blood involved, he burst into noisy tears. We were all excited for him, but he would NOT settle down and stop crying, so finally I got tired of it and told him to go cry in his bedroom. Not much sympathy from a mom who has delivered 6 children naturally, including his 9 pound, 5 ounce self, LOL. Eventually he recovered from the shock and settled down.

I think it really WAS a shock for him. I had no idea one of his teeth was even loose, and I don't think he did either! Now that he is farthur from the actual event, he seems to like this visible manifestation of his being a big boy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I realize I also have been remiss at posting pictures lately, so here is a picture of Grace. She will be 5 months old on October 1. She is pushing onto all fours and rocking, so maybe she'll be crawling by 6 months too. She just can't get her arms to move, so she has to flop back down onto her tummy and then inch her legs back up under her in order to get anywhere. She is determined, however, and she usually gets to wherever she's aiming, even if she has to go in a complete circle to get there. For some reason, her arms turn her in a circle just fine--they just don't go forward, LOL. When she is mobile and can join Anna in her escapades . . . well, let's just say that if you think I don't have time to blog now, I can't even imagine how much busier I'll be then, LOL!

As you can see here, she is still very serious for the camera. I don't think I have one picture of her smiling yet, and that's not for lack of trying. Really, she is quite a smiley baby! People tell me that all the time! She really is such a content, good-natured baby. She looks so much like Luke did as a baby!

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

It doesn't feel much like Fall right now, with temperatures in the upper 80s. But whenever Fall-like temperatures should arrive, this is a good recipe with which to celebrate. I made these muffins to take to the shower. I got the recipe from the Well-Trained Mind board, but I'm not sure exactly who posted it (Hillary in KS maybe?). They are the best pumpkin muffins I've had.

Pumpkin Muffins

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (1 15 ounce can) pumpkin
3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon.

Mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and melted butter together. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add to batter. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 24 muffins.

(The recipe actually calls for 2 cups sugar, but the poster said she just used 1 1/2 cups, and that is what I did too. It tasted fine. Also, I used half whole wheat flour, and the texture was still pretty good, I thought.)

Busy Day

I am not keeping up with my blogging very well, am I? Somehow, the time just isn't there anymore, LOL.

Saturday was one of those busy days. It always seems like days go by where we have nothing going on, and then *bam* we have all the social commitments for a month in one day! Saturday was soccer day of course, but this time Bob was substitute-coaching for Caleb and Luke's team. He also had to have Anna and Jonathan because I had a baby shower for a girl at church to go to at 10:00. It was also soccer picture day, so everyone had to be there much earlier than usual, at 9:30 (that may not sound real early to you, but believe me, it's early for us to get everyone out the door, ready for soccer AND pictures, LOL).

The baby shower was a lot of fun. I was in charge of games. I am not particularly creative or good at games, but fortunately lots of other people are, so googling "baby shower games" turned up lots of potentials. I made a Biblical boy names matching game, where people had to match the name with the meaning. That was well-received. Some names, like "Peter" are pretty common knowledge, but then you get to names that all seem to mean some variation of "the Lord is my . . . rock, help, shield"etc. Anyhow, it was fun. Then we did the advice game, where you write down a random baby-care question ("How do you change a poopy diaper?" for example), fold the paper in half so you can't see the question, and then pass it two people down. That person then writes a random baby advice answer ("Blow bubbles on its tummy") on the outside. Then everyone reads their question and answer. It was pretty funny.

After the shower, I went back to the soccer field to meet up with everyone else. I nursed while they ate a picnic lunch, and then we were off to Johanna's house to play for the afternoon. Their big mastiff was put away when we got there, so Anna didn't go into hysterics this time, a pleasant change. She also seemed to tolerate from afar two of their daschunds (one of which is an adorable puppy), so I guess that is some slight progress. Baby steps . . . The boys (and I am including Bob here, LOL) played a hot and sweaty round of football, while Johanna and I and the littles had a great time visiting in the air conditioning. After everyone was completely tired out from all their exertions, we drove back home. The boys were so exhausted! It is so nice to have friends with the kind of space that Johanna has, so that they can all run around.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

School Progress Report

I thought it was high time to give a report on where we are in school. Since we go year-round, it is hard to find a time when things stop or start. In fact, it seems sometimes like things just flow ever onward, on . . . and on . . . But I digress. In fact, we are starting some new things this year, and we are slowly working those into our schedule.

We took May off after Grace's birth, but we started doing school again in June and kept going through the summer. We only did the main subjects--Latin, math, spelling, grammar, and memory work--and we didn't do much, if any, school in the afternoons. I even took stuff to Ohio when we went in August. I have found that it really helps retention, especially of Latin vocab, to do a little almost every day.

So where are we now? First off, math: Nathan is about 10 lessons from the end of Saxon 6/5, and when he finishes that, he'll move right into Saxon 7/6 . Luke is halfway through Saxon 5/4, and Caleb is over halfway through Saxon 1. We just sort of keep right on plugging away, and when someone finishes a book, they go right on into the next book. Boring, I know, but at least we can skip all that pesky review in the first 30 or so lessons of a new math book, LOL.

Latin: We started doing the first 5 lessons of Latina Christian II before Grace was born, I think. Those lessons review pretty much all the vocab and forms of LC I, and they also introduce the concept of using the accusative case so you can write sentences with direct objects. This was a hard concept for the boys, not so much recognizing a direct object when translating a sentence into English, but in translating an English sentence into Latin. So we worked on that A LOT over the summer. Also, by the end of LC I, they could use verbs in the present, future, and past imperfect tenses, but those still were not second nature or anything to them, so we did a lot with them too. I started making up 4 sentences each night for them to translate when they started their schoolwork in the morning, 2 into Latin and 2 into English. That helped tremendously, and in the beginning of September, we moved on in the book. I was so ready for some new vocab words to make sentences with, LOL!

Spelling: This is, of course, my big bugaboo with Nathan, and this year we are trying something that has been very highly recommended on the Well-Trained Mind board, Sequential Spelling. I'll let you know how it works; so far we aren't far enough in it to see if it is having any sort of impact. Luke is going to do Spelling Power, although a little modified. The idea of it is that you test the child on the list of words, and then they only work on those that they missed. That may sound great, but not to a perfectionistic child like Luke. It really stresses him out to miss words, so I am just going to give him a list at the beginning of the week, let him study them, and then test him at the end, like a traditional spelling program. I am still giving him placement tests, however, to determine exactly where in the program to start. And at least I won't ever have to buy another book for him.

English: We are finishing up the last section of Easy Grammar 4/5, which we did last year. It was perfect for a year when I was so exhausted, but now we are ready for something meatier, so we are going back to Rod and Staff--3 for Luke and 5 for Nathan. I am projecting we'll start that next week.

History: We started Story of the World 4 last week, to much cheering from Nathan. History is definitely his favorite subject, and he has missed it during the summer. The boys are outlining the sections we read, and we are also doing more writing associated with it. Each week they are writing at least a paragraph on some subject that came up in the reading. This week they chose "Hinduism", since we read about the Sepoy Rebellion.

Since: Right now, their co-op is doing a unit on physics, so we aren't going to start doing science at home until that is over. Then we'll delve into chemistry using Fizz, Bubble, and Splash.

I guess those are the main subjects. We are also doing logic puzzles and other things, like art, as they come up. I finally have decided to assign Luke books to read, since I kept waiting but he never really started choosing books other than Star Wars books to read on his own, once he finished the Lord of the Rings and Redwall series. We're still going to listen to books on tape. That is just working really well and makes me less stressed than trying to fit reading aloud in and feeling guilty when it didn't happen for all levels. We're working on Eph. 6:10-20 right now for our new memory passage, and I think we will start the Gettysburg address as well.

And now, enough with school . . on to dinner.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Starting the day off right. . .

Luke (at breakfast, reading the trivia questions on the backs of oatmeal packets): "Who wrote the holiday classic 'White Christmas' in 1942?"

Me: Irving Berlin

Luke: Right. Hmmm . . ."What does one use a metronome for?"

Me: To keep time for music

Luke: Yes . . . "What did NBC start calling their Thursday night lineup in 1993?"

Me: Must See TV!

Luke: MAN, Mom! You know everything!! How do you know so much stuff?!

LOL!!! (Modestly) Well, yes, what can I say . . . Of course, here in our house I am quickly taken down to size, LOL. Anna has a new word . . . "belly button". I bet you can't guess whose belly button is so fascinating that she has learned a new word? Yes . . . it's mine! I will just say that after having 6 children, my belly button is not one of my body parts of which I am most proud or is the most attractive. And when it is being scrutinized, other little people who know more words can ask other questions, like "Why is your tummy still so big but there's no baby in there?" And "Why is your tummy so squishy?" Maybe Anna's next word will be "stretch mark". Bring on the trivia, LOL.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Interesting Bit of Trivia

My mother-in-law sends me the "Focus" section of their paper, which comes on Sunday. It is like a little magazine with a celebrity page, books reviews, funny column (used to be Dave Barry and now is a guy not nearly as funny), dog training column, English column, and a few other interesting articles and so on. The main reason she sends it to me is because it has 2 crossword puzzles and 2 cryptoquips in it, and it is the perfect size to fold up and take with me when waiting somewhere without kids (rarely happens, unfortunately, LOL), or on trips.

There is also a column called "Strange But True" by Rich Sones and Bill Sones, and they had an item that I did not know about in there last week.

Q: When, during World War II, incendiary bombs rained down on U.S. and Canadian forest and set them ablaze, what were the "fingerprints in the sand" to help pinpoint the source and stop the attacks?

A: The Japanese sent the bombs attached to balloons toward North America, where air currents wouldn't hold them aloft and they would crash to the ground, say William J. Neal, et al. in Atlantic Coast Beaches".

Beach sand served as ballast to adjust the balloons' buoyancy for the cross-ocean trip. Because of the sand's unique mix of minerals in its heavy-mineral fraction, Allied geologists were able to deduce the balloon-release site by poring over every available geologic map of Japan and noting the location of surface rocks the minerals could have come from.

Then "the release site was bombed, and because the American news media had been ordered not to report fires resulting from the incendiary balloons, the Japanese assumed the effort wasn't working and abandoned the project." (emphasis mine)

Huh! Media working on our side, instead of just fear-mongering! And look--keeping back information did good! Obviously, no lessons were learned however, judging from the current reporting going on all over the world.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Soccer season again

The boys are playing Upward soccer again this year. We missed the first 2 practices, since we were in Ohio, but they went on Thursday night, and they had their first games on Saturday.

This year, Nathan, Luke, and Caleb are all playing. By the end of last season, Caleb was very eager to play, to the point of wearing an old uniform of Luke's to the games, and playing soccer with Jonathan during the games. But since he doesn't turn 6 until Nov. 5, he is still technically in kindergarten this year, and the 4-5 league plays their games at 9:00 on Saturdays. If this were the only game, that would be doable, but with Luke playing his game at 10:15, and Nathan's game starting at 11:30 (or later if the other games don't end on time), then you can see that we would be spending the entire morning at soccer, and I just didn't think that would work. So this summer I asked the Upward director if he could possibly put Caleb in the 1st-3rd grade league, since he just missed the cut-off, and as the third brother, he is used to playing with older boys. The director said he would wait until after evaluations, and if it looked like Caleb was skill-wise at a first grade level, then he would put him on Luke's team. Well, Caleb was at the low end of the first grade scores, but high for kindergarten, so the directer put him on Luke's team. Yay!

Except that Caleb was not all that thrilled with the news. Because I didn't want to disappoint him if he wasn't able to play this year, I never made a big deal about it or really even talked much about it to him. I just told him to do the evaluations along with the other boys, which he did, but Bob said that he wasn't that into it then, which probably led to his scoring lower than I expected.

After we got back from our trip and the first day of practice drew near, Nathan and Luke were quite excited. Caleb did not want to play soccer. Ack! I asked for a special favor, which I was granted, and now he doesn't even want to play soccer?! Talk about hurting the team! I chastised myself severely for signing him up--I should just have waited until he was 6--and also for not talking with him about it before the evaluations.

So on Thursday, I was quite nervous as to how the whole season was going to go. Also, Bob has the last class of this 4 class certification program this semester, and it happens to be on Thursday nights, so it is going to be me taking them and dealing with them the whole season, which didn't relieve my fears at all.

Caleb did like getting his cleats and soccer stuff on, and he went off with Luke with no fuss. Luke had a hard time believing Caleb was actually on his team, LOL. I watched the practice from the playground, and it looked like Caleb did just fine. He's not even the smallest boy on the team, and he certainly wasn't the worst player! Afterward, he said he did have fun, and their coach is really nice and encouraging. He loved getting his Upward uniform shirt and water bottle, so that went a long way, LOL.

Saturday it was interesting to watch the interplay between Caleb and Luke in the game. Sometimes they were both out on the field at the same time, in which case I ttought Caleb hung back a little and let Luke play where he should have been. But when Luke wasn't playing, he was more aggressive. I'm sure there are all sorts of psychological applications as relating to siblings there, LOL. Their team won something like 5-0, which Luke scoring, which made them both very happy. Luke is actually pretty good at soccer, so another reason I had no initial qualms about asking to have Caleb put with him was the thinking that Luke would more than make up for any shortcomings that Caleb might bring to the team. But I don't think Caleb will be a shortcoming at all, and I'm looking forward to seeing him develop his on-field confidence this season!

Nathan's team also did well, although I didn't see as much of that game. It ended up tied 0-0. A lot of his friends, either from church or from the homeschool co-op, are on his team, so I think it is a great group of boys. The reason I didn't see much of the game was that, basically, I was melting from the heat. Midway in Luke's game, I had retreated back under the pavilion with the girls and Jonathan to escape the sun. I could still see the game, especially because Grace was napping in her carseat. By the second game, however, Grace was up and needing to be nursed (nothing like nursing a hot, sweaty baby to really make you feel the heat!), and Anna was tired, hot, and extremely crabby. So with wriggly, sticky girls all over me, I did not get to really watch the game. Plus, I was so hot even in the shade, I could not imagine actually running around in a synthetic jersey, and watching the players made me feel faint, LOL.

As soon as the game was done (close to 1:00), we leapt into the car, cranking up the AC. We went home and immediately all took showers in as quick a time as possible. Ahhhhhhh. Hopefully next weekend will not be so unmercifully hot. Then we rushed off to Ed's birthday party, where we told the boys not to even go outside, for fear they might suffer heat stoke or something, LOL. Talking to Christine at the party (whose boys also played that morning), she had told her boys the same thing!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dealing with fears

I wanted to write a little more about our weekend at WSS. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and it was lovely to be away from the heat and humidity.

Luke especially had an interesting weekend, one of dealing with fears. He is definitely my most fearful child, one who does not like to do anything unless he knows he will not fail or be embarrassed while doing it. Did I mention he is the one who reminds me most of myself as a child? : ) Well, he has been looking forward to being able to ride the horses at WSS, and since you have to be at least 8 years old, this year he was finally old enough. Yay! So I signed him, Nathan, and me up to ride Saturday afternoon. Then Luke decided that he really didn't want to ride. Not a bit, in fact. I pointed out that he was hoping to come to Camp Caleb next summer where they would ride horses, and that this was the perfect chance to practice with me around. He was unmoved. "Next summer is next summer. Maybe I won't be scared anymore by then."

Bob finally pulled out the "we've already paid for you" card, and he managed to sweet-talk Luke into giving it a go. Luke was put on an old horse named Dakota, and all seemed well until we actually started to leave the corral. I of course wanted Luke to be in front of me, but his horse had no real interest in leaving, so he pokeyed around in last place, eventually following the rest of us out. We turned and went up a hill through some trees on a little trail. Dakota decided he didn't want to go on the trail, so he ambled through the forest in his own direction. Luke was pretty worried about this, and he started calling me in a panicked voice. We were all shouting encouragement at him to pull on his horse's reins in the direction he wanted the horse to go, when suddenly Dakota decided he DID want to be with the rest of us. So he plowed straight for us, through trees and bushes and whatnot. Luke was crying "Oww! Owww!" but fortunately all he got were some nice scratches on his neck. By this time I was sure Luke would be totally done with it all, but Aaron the wrangler (Christa's brother), who had run up the hill when he heard all Luke's commotion, dusted him off and sent his horse to the middle of the pack, a much better place to be, LOL.

Dakota never ventured off the trail again, although he still moseyed along. Luke was constantly having to prod him along with his feet. Directly behind Luke was the son of a retired couple in my parents' Bible study. Jeff is a real nice, funny guy, and he was such an encouragement to Luke. The rest of the way, he kept telling him what a great job he was doing, and eventually you could just see Luke relax. He was pretty proud of himself for finishing the ride, and I think he did have a good time.

I had a good time too, in that the scenery was beautiful. I did discover that riding horses really hurts my knees, so all my dreams of Olympic gold in dressage just vanished in the afternoon sun, LOL. Ah well.

Luke's other big accomplishment was making it to the top of the rock-climbing wall, where you get to ring a little bell. He had never done it before, and he was pretty unsure of himself so high up there.

Luke: "I'm scared."

Bob: "It's okay to be a little scared. Just keep going; you're almost there."

Luke: "I'm REALLY scared."

But he conquered his fear and did it. Yay, Luke!

The rest of us were not stretched in such obvious ways this weekend, although I think we were perhaps in less obvious ways. The speaker, Andy Capps, talked about how to "pray and plan" and figuring out what the Lord wants you to do. This was very timely for Bob and me, as this is exactly what we are dealing with! We need to get rid of our perceived needs and pray that Lord will reveal the needs He has created and is ready to fulfill. Andy's emphasis on prayer was not on asking, but rather worshipping and praising the Lord. I'd say more but I can't find my notebook where I took notes right now . . . Hmmmm . . . That is going to frustrate me all night now. Anyhow, it was a wonderful weekend, the perfect end to summer.

Diving Back In

We're back home! We had a wonderful weekend at White Sulphur Springs, which will have to be the subject of another post, I'm afraid. We got back Monday at dinnertime, and things haven't stopped since then! Aside from all the unpacking and laundry, our homeschool co-op started up yesterday morning, and the boys all went to a football birthday party at a local park yesterday afternoon. I was glad not to have to go anywhere this morning, but we had to hit Sams after lunch to buy things like milk, diapers, fruits and vegetables--all that frivolous stuff, LOL. I've hardly had time to even be on the computer, and it looks like I need to go now. Not only do I need to finish up dinner, Anna has found an open bag of raisins and is gorging herself on them. That should make for pleasant diapers!