Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vacation Update

Other than dealing with Anna and her fears, we've been having a wonderful time out in Utah. We sadly said goodbye to Dan, Melinda, and Emily on Wednesday. Anna spent the next day saying, "Mem-ly?" in a concerned voice. The 3 girls were just so cute playing together. They are all so close in age, and I can see them when they're a little older getting into all sorts of mischief together!

Before Dan and his family left, we were able to spend the day sight-seeing and having fun together on Tuesday. First we drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon, which was beautiful--still lots of snow at the ski resorts up there! We had a picnic lunch on the way back down.

Then it was off to Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake. We drove to the day use area, where you can go right up to the edge of the lake. This was not such a popular choice, especially with Emily and Anna. Emily did NOT like being in the backpack, and she voiced this dislike very clearly and consistently the entire time we were out there. Anna didn't like . . . well, who really knows. The sand? The smell? The barrenness? She was a grump too, so we had quite the chorus of woe following us around, LOL.

Back here at Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim's house, the boys have been having a bit of a sports camp. First, Bob found some lacrosse sticks at WalMart, so he bought 3 sets of them (6 total). The boys have really improved their lacrosse techniques over the past week!

Next, Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim brought out the 5-in-1 big bag o' lawn games, of which badminton and horseshoes have proved the most popular. Side note--I am miserable at badminton. I took that as my gym required class in college, and it is about the only class where I seriously feared I would not make an A. I escaped with an A-, but I am very thrilled that my boys will not have that source of stress at college, LOL. They are doing quite well at serving the little birdie, which was always my bugaboo.

Then yesterday we went fishing up in the mountains a little south of here. It's a beautiful lake, and it was so relaxing. Only Uncle Jim actually caught a fish, but that didn't seem to matter. The boys were having such a good time that I loaded the girls' carseats into Aunt Claire's car so we could come back, while the "menfolk" stayed on even longer. All the boys came away with vastly improved casting techniques.

Today it was miniature golfing. This was another men-only outing, with Bob, the boys, Uncle Jim, and Grandpa. Great fun was had by all.

The only fly in the ointment has been some mysterious stomach bug that's going around. Grace and Emily were sick over the weekend and through Tuesday. Then Dan and Melinda got sick as well. Grandma and Grandpa were the next to go down, but with everyone except Grandma, it's been over in a day or 2. She has been sick for a few days now, and nothing really is staying down. We're all praying she'll be able to fight this bug off so she doesn't get dehydrated. They're supposed to start driving back to Ohio next Wednesday, and I think it will take that long for her to regain her strength back, with how sick she's been.

We will be taking off from here on Monday, on to Yellowstone. I'll try to post again before we leave!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Anna--World-Class Fraidy Cat

So, what do you do with a child who is terrified of many things, to the point of being absolutely hysterical? That is what we are dealing with in Anna. She began by being afraid of the vacuum cleaner, and then of Muslim women who cover. It progressed to dogs, cats (well, pretty much any animal), people in costumes (especially the Chick-Fil-A cow mascot), people with weird hats or helmets, and, just this evening, plastic fish in the bathtub. Sigh. It is truly ridiculous. And she's not just a little bit scared. She shakes, freezes in terror, leaps across tables into a lap, etc., all while crying hysterically.

Let me tell you the golden Corral story I alluded to a few posts ago. On our drive west, we decided to stop at a Golden Corral for dinner somewhere in Iowa off of I-80. When we got there, the cashier told us it was kids' night--face-painting, a clown with balloon animals, and a drawing for a free PSP (some play station thing). We said great and sat down in the section right next to the cashier line without thinking much of it all. After we had all gotten our food (no small feat in a buffet) and settled down to eat, the clown walked in. He only had his face painted, and he was wearing a red propeller beanie--no crazy baggy pants, red nose, or big shoes. Anna. went. HYSTERICAL. She shrieked hysterically, leaped into my lap, and clutched at me for dear life pretty much the rest of the evening. The clown was held hostage in the other side of the restaurant because he couldn't even walk past without Anna freaking out. She hardly ate another bite because she was focused on keeping him in her sights the entire time. It was miserable, and I was trying to get us all out of there as quickly as possible, because I realized we were keeping the clown from the other half of the restaurant.

I went up to get dessert for the little boys, and lo and behold, the clown was standing there talking to the manager right beside the dessert line. "I can't even GO to the other side because that KID goes hysterical," he said. I immediately apologized profusely and said we were trying to hurry and get out of there. He began a long dissertation on his theory on why some kids are scared of clowns. "It's all a control issue. You probably forced her to go near a clown sometime, so she wasn't in control of the situation . . ."

No. We have NEVER forced her to go near a dog, or a clown, or even the vacuum cleaner. We told her how silly she was being, and we told her she couldn't be so loud, but we are definitely not the kind of people who force their kids to do things like go up to clowns! I am not even personally so fond of clowns! Good grief. I told the clown this, but you could tell he wasn't convinced. We continued talking, and somehow I told him that we were military, on a cross-country trip (I never say we're going to Utah, though, because then people thing we're Momon, LOL), so it was just a coincidence that we were even there at all that particular night, etc. He warmed up a bit and told about his military father and their cross-country trips, and I felt like he at least thought we weren't abusive parents anymore. As I turned back to the dessert line, his parting words were "You want to know my original theory? Weinie kids have weinie parents."

Well. So. Yeah. Nothing to say to that. I hurried back to the table and got us out of there as quickly as possible, feeling about as humiliated as possible.

The real kicker is that 3 days later, on Friday, I received a phone call from Iowa as I was waiting to get a pedicure/manicure with my sister-in-law Melinda. It was Golden Corral, telling me that Caleb had won the PSP. Huh. I'm not real eager to go back, frankly. I guess we'll see if we can even find it again. We should be driving back through there the morning of Saturday, June 7.

So, any ideas? I really don't know how to handle this. It is not okay for Anna to be petrified of a zillion little things, and it seems like there are new things all the time (such as the bath toys tonight). It is incredibly frustrating.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Spectacular Wedding

Sunday afternoon was the wedding for my cousin "Pilot" and his bride Sarah. It was as spectacular as I had imagined it would be, and it went off without a hitch!! Yes, this even means that Anna was cooperative! I will admit that I figured out the secret--M&Ms, and plenty of them. I bribed her, and she was quite happy to hold Caleb's hand, carry the basket of petals, and walk all the way down the 2 parts of the staircase and the long aisle to Daddy. Whew!

There is a lot more to say about the wedding, but we're about to play a game of Balderdash. What I really want to do is show you pictures, because you really won't believe how grand this wedding really was without seeing it. My Aunt Claire (Pilot's mom) has posted a ton of good pictures at her blog, so you really need to head over to her blog and check them out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We made it!!

We're here in Utah! We made it safely Thursday in time for dinner, after 4 days of driving. We left Monday and drove to Amy's house in Ohio. We ate a quick dinner at Youngs, and then we went to Zachary's baseball game, in time to see him make a spectacular double play on first base! We were not expecting it to be freezing cold in Ohio, but it was about 50 degrees and drizzling, so at Youngs I had to dig around in the back for our cold-weather clothes--the ones I thought we would only be needing POSSIBLY at Yellowstone. Ha! We wore our jeans and sweatshirts every day except one! It's supposed to warm up here over the weekend. Yay!

The driving went well. Halfway through, we switched Anna and Grace around, so Anna sat in the middle row, and Grace sat in the back. Anna had become very loud and insistent, so Bob and I thought she needed more feedback from an adult, LOL. That helped, so the cofiguration has remianed. The boys took turns switching around too, so everyone got to mix it up a bit. We listened to A Long Way From Chicago, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, and half of All Creatures Great and Small. They made the miles fly, as usual. I must say that listening is the way to go for James Herriot's books. I simply can not do the Yorkshire accent justice, either out loud or in my head!

We had one interesting time, thanks to Anna, at a Golden Corral, but that will be its own post when I have more time. The only other excitement was at the hotel in Cheyenne, WY, on Wednesday night, where Bob realized he was not wearing his wedding ring. A frantic search ensued, but we couldn't find it, and we couldn't even figure out when he had lost it. We decided we'd look in the car in the morning, but we both went to bed a bit sick to our stomachs, praying mightily. The enxt day, Bob searched the car but didn't find anything. Then, as I was packing up one of our pack-n-plays, it fell out on the floor! We're not sure how it happened, but we were all dancing around happily, thanking the Lord!

Now we're deep into final wedding preparations. This afternoon Sarah took Anna, Caleb, Jonathan, and me to the wedding site, so the kids could get a feel for where they'll be walking. James and Sarah are getting married in the rotunda at the Utah state capitol building, and it is going to be STUNNING. Oh, it is just going to be beautiful! I was so excited after seeing it all! The kids practiced, which was a good thing, so now I am just praying that Anna is cooperative here, and doesn't throw a temper tantrum and refuse to walk.

I did 3 loads of laundry last night and this morning, so now I have a good bit of folding in front of me. It's so fun to be here with family!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One Wedding Down . . .

This afternoon, Bob's niece Christi got married down in Richmond. It was a lovely ceremony, although the weather did not cooperate. It was supposed to be outside, but it rained all day, so everything was moved inside.

I was a little worried about how Anna would do, seeing as how 3:00 is her naptime, and she's not in a particularly cooperative stage of life ("2"). She and Angelo, the little ring bearer, both balked once they saw all the people, but they both ended up going down the aisle and looking cute. She even stood next to the bridesmaids for awhile, which I didn't think she'd do.

As you can tell, the dress I found matched the bridemaids' dress PERFECTLY. I was so thrilled! Everyone thought she looked so pretty and told her so, so I'm sure she thinks she's a real princess now, LOL. She will be expecting the same attention, and no less, next weekend at my cousin's wedding!
Tomorrow morning we leave to start out big drive west. We will stay the night with Amy in Ohio tomorrow (yay!), and then we should eventually make our way to Salt Lake City on Thursday, in time for my cousin's birthday dinner! I still have some packing to do, so I am signing off . . . probably for awhile. When we get back, I'll be sure to post pictures of all our adventures, both with family, and also at Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where we're at . . .

Schooling: We're done for the next little while, which means until mid-June, when we get back from the big trip.

Caleb finished his phonics book awhile ago and moved into the first grade one, and he just finished his math book and moved into Saxon 2. Jonathan is working through his phonics book and is thrilled to be doing "real" math now!

Luke is a few lessons away from finishing Saxon 5/4, and then he'll move up to 6/5. Nathan has about 30 lessons left in 7/6, and then . . . I'm not totally sure if I'll just jump into Algebra 1/2 or have him do 8/7 first. Something to worry about when we get back, though.

He and Nathan both have about 35 lessons left in Rod and Staff (3 for Luke and 5 for Nathan). We didn't start R&S until late October I believe, since it took us longer than I thought to finish up Easy Grammar after Grace came.

We are on lesson 17 in Latina Christiana II. We've been taking this slowly, and we haven't actually done many new lessons since we left for Ohio. I felt like it was more important to really review the vocab, since there were so many new verbs lately. The last few lessons covered the principal parts of 4 conjugations of verbs, and it was all just a lot. We'll probably review more for the first week or 2 after we get back.

We haven't gone too far in history this year--we're only on chapter 14 of Story of the World 4. We'll do more of that this summer. We're moving into World War I, and I must say it's absolutely fascinating. I really never understood that war and what led up to it and drove it. We have been doing lots of outside history reading.

For science, we've been learning about atomic structure, chemical compounds, and so on. I love chemistry, so it's been fun to help the boys learn about this stuff. We'll definitely do more with some other books in this area this summer.

Packing: I've started all the laundry, and tonight I'll begin laying out the piles of everyone's clothes. The piles line the upstairs hallway! I've got plenty of lists, and I'm always adding stuff. Today we picked up the books on CD that I reserved from the library, and I put those, as well as the ones we have here, in the car. Our listening choices for this long trip include:
--All Creatures Great and Small
--Charlotte's Web
--Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang
--All the Way From Chicago
--The Long Winter
--Tale of Despereaux
--Galileo and the Stargazers (Jim Weiss)
--"Your Story Hour" CD on Louis Pasteur
--FOTF Chronicles of Narnia

We're getting excited! Less than a week until we leave!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Mother's Day Questionnaire

Someone on the Well-Trained Mind board posted this questionnaire that their preschooler had brought home. I asked these questions to Caleb and Jonathan, although sometimes only one answered, and sometimes they both said the same thing.

1. What is your mom's favorite song? J--the pilates song

2. How old is your mom? J- 10 C- 46

3. What is your mom's favorite food? J- the stuff we had for dinner [broccoli chicken casserole] C- cake

4. What does your daddy call your mom? J- Baby C- Claire

5. What does your mom call your dad? J- Bob

6. What is your mom's favorite color? J- blue

7. Why does your mommy love you so much? J- ‘cause God told her to C- because I came out of her tummy

8. What is your favorite thing to do with your mom? J- huggle-snuggle and kiss her

9. What makes your mom so pretty? J- pretty clothes C- pretty hair

10. How does your mommy make you feel better when you are sick? C & J-- she gives you medicine

11. What TV show does your mom like best? J- pilates

12. When are you the most proud of your mom? J & C-- now

13. What does your mom do best? J- not be fat C- help us

14. Where does your mom work? C & J- At home

15. How do you show your mom that you love her? C & J- Hug and kiss her

This made me laugh. Jonathan is obviously on a fitness kick--"the pilates song"--LOL!! I need to do a better job of communicating my food loves ("chocolate") because cake certainly isn't it, and neither is broccoli chicken casserole! And for the record, Bob has NEVER called me "Baby". LOL!! I don't know where Jonathan got that!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

All Hail the Conquering Hero!!!

In this case, my brother Dan, who came up with an incredibly easy solution for our crazy printer problems. We spent over an hour of frustrating time on the phone last Saturday trying a variety of different things, with no success. He had to dig deeper, so he emailed me a list of new things to try. Johanna also came up with a potential solution, but I decided to work down Dan's list first, since his items seemed less complicated and drastic. The second one worked. Here's the golden sequence:

1. Click on "tools", then "internet options"

2. Click the "advanced tab", and then click on "security"

3. Tick "let active content run on my computer"

4. Restart Windows

And it worked!! I was so incredibly excited. I printed off one of my new reservation confirmations, and it was so beautiful to see actual recognizable words there, and only one page, instead of 50 pages of gibberish! Wow! I am so thankful to have personal tech support like Dan (and Johanna!). I would have gone broke before someone at Microsoft would have hit on that, I'm sure. And since I didn't have to reset IE, all my cookies, etc. are still there. Yay! I'm big on no inconvenience, LOL. Thanks, Dan! You're the best brother ever!

Big Truck Day

The Department of Public Works for a nearby city opens some of their big equipment to the public each year. They display trucks and other earth-moving type vehicles in their parking lot, and kids can climb on them and get in the cabs, honk the horns, etc. Although it was rainy, it was still a lot of fun.

We went with the McC family, who also had one tag-along boy from our homeschool co-op (his mom was the head tester). So . . . 9 boys, 2 girls, and 2 moms. We were not the popular people to be behind in line.

Climbing all over a front loader.

Nine boys in the cab of a "leveler".

Nathan is on . . . something.

Luke and Jonathan on a bobcat.

Anna loved driving the street sweeper. She did not want a yellow plastic hard hat, however.

Gracie loved eating the free cookies they provided. She did not want to keep her hood on, even though it was raining.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Update on Jonathan

Yesterday Bob took Jonathan back to Bethesda to get his permanent cast. As you can see, he was able to get the camouflage wrap he was hoping for, and everyone who sees it agrees that it is indeed a very cool cast. And you can also see that his cast is not hindering his light-saber fighting techniques (whew!). The doctor said everything is healing fine, and he doesn't need to wear his sling as much. The doctor said the cast could come off in 3 weeks, which is when we'll be in Utah. He said we could try to get it off at the base there, but he "wouldn't get involved with someone else's work". So we might have to wait until we get home. The nice thing about getting it off would be that Jonathan could swim in the hotel pools on the way back. Bob might try to get the doctor to write a letter or something telling the docs at Hill what he did and that it should be okay to remove after May 27. We'll see.
Since this is an updating post, in other news, Bob's TDY did get cancelled today. I was disappointed, but it is certainly better to find out now than, say, the Monday we started driving. So now we're trying to rework how we'll get out to Utah, probably taking 4 days instead of 3. More reservations, which still can not be printed. Grrrrrr.

More Testing . . . Issues

So today should have been the last day of testing for everyone. It started off on the wrong foot back last week, actually, when the lady in charge of testing told us that another group had sort of bumped us out of the rooms that we were signed up to use at the church. Our co-op meets at this church on Tuesday through the year, and then the testing person reserves the facilities a year in advance for the 3 days of testing. Except this year some other group that has been around longer planned something for today, but didn't check to see if the rooms were already scheduled. When they found out they were, they basically went to the top of the chain of command, and Leisa, our testing lady, felt she had to give in. So we were all supposed to be at a different site today, the site that the high school co-op uses, but which we had never been to. But we found it with no problems, so everything was fine.

I dropped Nathan and Luke off at 9:15, and then the rest of us went to Target. As I walked in the door, my cell rang. It was the lady who was testing Luke. Somehow, his test booklet had fallen out of her folder or something--anyways, it wasn't there, and she lives the farthest away of anyone in TNT, so she couldn't go back home and look for it. So Luke wasn't testing, and could I come pick him up. And yes, he was upset.

Well, I felt so bad, but of course not as bad as she felt. She was so apologetic. Unfortunately, Luke is the worst one to have something like this happen. He doesn't do well with changes, he hates being singled out and embarrassed, and this pretty much hit both of those things full on. Nathan is much better at just rolling with the punches. So, umm, which one is like me? LOL

So we went back and picked him up, and he was indeed a silent puddle of tears. I told him how this was just a good opportunity to practice grace. People let us down all through life, either intentionally or unintentionally, as in this case, and we still have to respond with forgiveness and grace, even though it's hard. He said he was just ready to be done with testing, and he didn't WANT to go another day. Poor guy.

Assuming the lady can find the test booklet (pray pray pray), then he will go tomorrow to the house of the head tester to finish up. As it turns out, Caleb McC is doing an extra test, and Leisa is administering that tomorrow, so Luke will just join up with him. That made Luke feel a lot better, knowing one of his best friends would be there as well. In fact, Christine is going to pick Luke up and take him, so I don't have to rouse the girls early for another day in a row! After the testing is done for both boys, our 2 families are going to go to a "big truck day" in a local city, where all the big city equipment will be out for kids to explore. Should be fun!

Monday, May 05, 2008


Nathan and Luke have their standardized testing today, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I always get all nervous about it, but they are very blase about the whole thing. No test anxiety here, LOL.

After testing was over today, the kids were playing a ball game, and groups of moms and other kids were just standing around talking. A baby bird, I don't know exactly what happened, but somehow came out of the nest and was flying really low by the sidewalk where some little kids were playing. The bird was kind of fluttering and skipping around, obviously not too strong, and then one of the kids STARTED STEPPING ON IT AND SQUASHED IT! I was horrified and started yelling at him--"WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP THIS INSTANT NO NO NO!"-- since I seemed to be the only mom that had seen what had happened, although a lot of the older kids had seen. I was so shocked! A whole bunch of kids gathered around the poor bird, who fortunately died a quick death, and I got the mom's attention and told her what had happened. Of course, she was absolutely horrified and mortified, and she marched her son right out of there. This family goes to the church we used to go to, and I know they are not advocating random acts of senseless violence against baby animals at their house, LOL, so I know she was as shocked as I was, and I'm sure she and her husband will train their son (who is only 3, but is very big for his age) appropriately, but it was still so horrible!

My boys were just blown away and couldn't believe anyone wouldn't just love and protect a baby. I told them that to a 3-year-old, maybe he just thought it looked like a big bug or something, and we smoosh those. We left the church and went out to eat at Moe's with Daddy, but it still bothered especially Luke. He asked the other boys to stop talking about the baby bird, and even after we got home, he came to me and told me how he just couldn't stop thinking about it. He is definitely my most sensitive child. He was also the most deeply affected by Jonathan's broken arm. Sensitive, detailed--maybe he'll be a doctor! LOL At church, our pastor has just started going through the book of Luke, and as an intro to the first in the series, he talked about the characteristics of Luke as we get them from the Bible. Bob and I looked at each other and both thought, "We named Luke well", because he exhibits many of the characteristics Mike mentioned.

Anyhow, quite the ending for that first testing day. Hopefully tomorrow will be less traumatic.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Am I Losing My Mind?!!

So all of a sudden all these things are breaking or not working right--Jonathan's arm, the printers, our AC unit. Now we've started losing things. The first thing that has vanished was a Sports Illustrated For Kids magazine that Nathan got out of the library. We all remember it being on the couch, and now it's just gone. We have thoroughly searched the whole house to no avail. I think that it must have gotten gathered up with newspapers and recycled or something, because it simply is no where. Oh well. I guess we'll have to pay.

The next thing to disappear was Jonathan's sling. This has about driven me to the looney bin. Wednesday night, he took it off to put on his pajamas. I clearly remember it being on the kitchen floor by the island, and Grace playing with it. The next morning Joanthan went to put it on . . . and we can't find it anywhere. I have looked in all the drawers and cabinets, of course, thinking that a curious little girl might have hidden it somewhere. We've looked all over the rest of the house. It. Is. Not. There. I'm beginning to regret the fact that I'm not Irish, where at least I could blame the leprechauns or something. I literally can not think of another place to look. We've ALL looked. Believe me, we have spent many productive manhours serching for this sling. After all, he just had it on Wednesday--how far could it have gotten?! Grrrrr. Hopefully he's not doing any damage to his arm, as he waves it around in the air. He was doing so well with wearing it. I will confess that I did think that maybe he hid it, but he says he doesn't know where it is, and I really don't think he's lying. He's been concerned about the fact that we can't find it too, and he's really not the sneaky kind.

So . . . maybe I'm living in some sort of alternate crazy reality, where things walk off by themselves break randomly. That's what I'm hoping for anyways, LOL.

**Update** I came back downstairs after putting Anna down, and Caleb and Jonathan were tearing around down here. I told them to stop, since we didn't want Joanthan to hurt his arm, and we already lost his sling. Jonathan disappeared upstairs and came down a few miutes later with . . . his sling. Hmmm. I asked him where he had found it, and he showed me. It was between his dresser and his yaffa blocks, these cube-like stacking blocks that we keep some of their clothes in. It must have fallen there after he put the sling on his dresser Wednesday night (which I don't remember him doing, and he never mentioned while we were all looking yesterday). The timing is a bit . . . suspicious, shall we say. But I am very relieved to have found it. And he is wearing it again. Maybe the new rule is that it goes on MOM's dresser at night, LOL. I still FEEL crazy anyway.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy First Birthday, Grace!!!

Grace turned one today! Bob took the day off, so he got to spend lots of time with his little princess! We went to Chik-Fil-A for dinner, and we had cake when we got back home. You may notice there is no picture of the cake. That's because she got a big pink rectangle cake, LOL. I did write "Happy Birthday Grace and Daddy" on it, but that was about all the extra frills. I felt guilty about that for . . . a few minutes, but then I remembered that she would not remember this birthday, and I got over it. She didn't mind the lack of a uniquely shaped cake, and she thoroughly enjoyed what she got!

She's been taking more and more steps, which is so fun to watch. Her other big birthday accomplishment was climbing the stool in the kitchen for the first time. You can see how excited she was about that! Power to the little people!
Grace has been so much fun to have in our family. She was such a surprise, coming so close to Anna, but I can't imagine not having her now. She and Anna are already such good friends, and the boys just love her to pieces. She adds a lot of light to our lives!