Friday, August 28, 2009
I had many grand summer plans, academically-speaking, but they really didn't happen. Instead, we went places, and had visitors come to us, which was great! We got to spend a lot of time with people from both sides of the family, plus Nathan and Luke had special times at the aerospace camp and at Camp Caleb. To be honest, I think this is the first summer where we've taken more than a 2-3 week break from school. The boys were all in favor, LOL. We started back 2 weeks ago, and things are going well overall. Nathan and Luke are doing more stuff independently, but they have it easy right now. They are both starting writing co-ops in another week, so they'll be busy with those assignments. We haven't started Henle Latin either. We've just been reviewing vocab slowly. I'm hoping they can do that pretty independently whenever we do start. Nathan also is going to be doing a logic course this year, but the text from Memoria Press was backordered, and it just shipped yesterday. He will start when the book gets here. I'm really excited about this course because I bought the DVDs to go along with it, so I don't have to be the one actually teaching it. Woo-hoo!
I am really focusing on Caleb and Jonathan, and I am already seeing real improvements in their reading skills, especially Jonathan's. We all start Classical Conversations on Thursday, so we'll see how that goes. I think that will really help keep us all on track with history and science. We've already started listening to the Story of the World CDs (the Ancients) in the car. They are doing well with Prima Latina. I'm trying to get them finished with last year's math books, which they never did finish (this was what I was going to be working on with them through the summer, LOL). A few more weeks, then it will be on to the new books. I'm anal that way.
I think this is the biggest deal, much bigger than what we actually are doing in school! This has been the thing that I know the least about, however, so I've just not said anything at all. We basically kicked the decision can down the road back in the end of July by having Bob volunteer for the Toronto job. Since that requires a French proficiency, he had to take a language aptitude test to see if he would even qualify to go to language school to learn French! He was supposed to take the test Tuesday, but it got cancelled, and he took it today. In the meantime, he ran into someone where he works who just got back from Guam. She liked it and said people with families really enjoyed it. Bob told me to look into it, so I googled and read up. People who have been stationed there almost uniformly give positive feedback about it. Plus, my family was stationed on Okinawa when I was in 1st-4th grades, and some of my funnest growing-up memories are of there. We just did fun things! The beaches, the snorkeling, the space-A travel around the Pacific--fun! Guam seems to be a lot like Okinawa. All this made me a lot more interested in Guam as a possible assignment. I remembered that Tonya had mentioned a homeschooling friend with 7 kids who had moved there, so I asked her about it. She hooked me up with Carolyn, who has been patiently answering all my questions! So I would say that I am excited about Guma, but I don't thnk Bob is as excited. He has never lived overseas, and he rightly says that it is far away! Plus, it's an IG job, and the lady from work thinks that next year is the big ORI for the Pacific area, so he would probably be pretty busy next year. And he also pointed out that he doesn't really have an IG experience, but now, as a lieutenant colonel, he would actually be responsible for stuff . . . But it does seem like if we wanted to go to Guam, the assignment guy would be okay with that, because they are desperately trying to fill these IG jobs right now. One big question for me would be the report date. We could maybe do April or something, but anythng earlier would be a deal-breaker for sure. We are not a light, flexible crew!
So this morning Bob took the language aptitude test, and he did indeed pass it. So now he could go to Monterrey, CA to language school for a few (?) months. It seems like this would be in-route, so we would have orders before he went. (The new wrinkle with the military housing assistance plan, where the gov't gives back money you lost when you sell your house is that you have to have orders by December.) But for Bob to learn a language, he wold probably have to go out there alone to have a shot, since we are also not a silent crew! Plus, we have co-op commitments, and the house isn't really ready, so it would be hard to leave earlier, again, than April-ish. I think Bob likes the idea of the Toronto job better because it would be easy, plus we would be closer to family, especially his family, since his parents are getting elderly. I on the other hand like the idea of living on a tropical island with no winter clothes!!
We have some major decisions to make, and it might end up that we just retire and don't move again. For me, it's hard to say that it's over, we're staying here. I like the idea of one more adventure. But it might not be worth it.
I thought I would just throw in a few sentences about Faith! She is finally not waking up in the wee hours of the morning again, thankfully. She seems to be moving back to her usual 7:00 wake-up time, which is much more pleasant than the 4:00-5:00 that she was waking up. Crazy teething. She is also sitting so much more steadily! I fianlly gave her a bath in the big tub last night with the other 2 girls because I thought she was stable enough to not be knocked down by any slight wave, and she did great! I didn't even take her out as soon as I was done with her because she was sitting so well! She really had a fun time splashing around in there and playing with the big kid toys. She's still not crawling with her tummy off the ground though. She likes her army crawl!
Well, I need to get dinner going because tonight is Bible study. Now you have some idea of what we're thinking, even if we still don't know anything for sure yet!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
So when we went to the commissary last week, we loaded up on salt, baking soda, baking powder, a few spices, and some whole chickens. Two nights ago I started the process on Chicken #1, who I like to call "King Cluck". I washed the chicken with hot water, and then with rubbing alcohol, after removing all the innards and gross stuff. I mixed up a big bowl of 2 boxes of salt, half a box of baking powder, and 8 ounces of baking soda (I got a humongous box of this, which is why I had to measure it out), as well as some cloves and cinnamon to make it smell nicer. I poured this mixture into the bird's cavity, and then into the bottom of a gallon plastic bag. In went the chicken and the rest of the salt mixture.
Last night I had to change the salt mixture. The cinnamon and cloves keep it from smelling too bad on the counter, but it is still not roses when you take King Cluck out of his bag! Bob wanted no part in dealing with it! Now hopefully I won't have to change the salt again until tomorrow, and then 2-4 days after that. The whole process should take about 6 weeks, at which point it will be time to rub with oil and wrap with fabric. I will certainly keep you posted, since I know you must be on the edges of your seats with excitment!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Asian Chicken With Pasta
1/2 pound uncooked angel hair pasta
1 pound chicken cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
1 package (12 ounces) broccoli coleslaw mix
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
3/4 cup julienned red pepper
1/2 cup sliced onion (I used green onion)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/ tsp. pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in large skillet, saute chicken in vinaigrette and salad dressing until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, saute the coleslaw mix, mushrooms, red pepper, and onion until tender. Add the seasonings. Stir in the chicken; heat through. Drain pasta. Add to chicken mixture; toss to coat.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Faith was 27 inches, which is a little longer than Grace was, even at 7 1/2 months.
Faith wouldn't sit on the examining table for some reason. She kept herself stiff as a board! She will sit at home, but she much prefers to be on her tummy where she can pull herself along. I need to work more on having her just sit. When I was looking back through Grace's calendar (before you think I am so organized, realize that I was so easily able to look at it because it is STILL on the kitchen desk in my big pile of papers!), and I noticed that by 6 months, she was already crawling (with tummy off the ground, which Faith doesn't do yet), pushing to sitting, and pulling to standing! At Bible study on Friday, Faith pulled herself to her knees using a rung on a chair, but she is nowhere near ready to pull to standing! Grace must have been really athletic, LOL.
So the doctor agreed that Faith is a healthy, happy baby who just happens to be skinny. She doesn't actually look as skinny as Grace or Luke did at this age, though, so I was surprised to hear she weighed less. You know, I stopped nursing Luke at 6 months because he was so skinny, and I thought it must be me. I put him on a bottle and gave him tons of solid food. And he was and is still skinny as a rail. I am so glad I now have the confidence to know that my kids just have high metabolisms, and they don't need to be put on a bottle! My kids are all really good sleepers and very contented babies (especially Faith, as I have said before!), so I know they aren't starving or uncomfortable at all. I told the doctor we were the poster family for anti-childhood obesity!
We went to get Faith's shots after the appointment, and as we were waiting, Nathan, who was holding her, noticed that she DOES have a tooth in! It's on the bottom, and it's barely poked through, but you can definitely feel it!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Chicken/Monterey Jack Soup
2 1/2 cups water
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cups chicken cooked and chopped
8 ounces monterey jack cheese shredded
Bring water, tomato, and green chilies to a boil in large saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir in soups, garlic salt, milk, and chicken. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Place shredded cheese in serving bowls and ladle hot soup over. [If I don't have a fresh tomato, then I use a can of diced tomatoes, which I add with the remaining ingredients instead of boiling. Also, I never use garlic salt. I just throw in some garlic and some salt, LOL. And I also just use whatever amount of frozen cooked chicken I happen to have. So the recipe is pretty forgiving.]
When my Aunt Claire was out, I made a blueberry dessert from a recipe in the Pittsburg paper. My mother-in-law is so kind that she sends me the weekend crossword puzzles from their paper, because they have really great crosswords. The bonus is that I also get to read those sections of their paper! I was going to give the recipe to my aunt, but actually I thought the recipe was just okay. Later on I found the blueberry recipe I usually make, which I made for Bible study last night. I really like it, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it, which came from an old issue of Quick Cooking magazine many years ago.
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. lemon peel
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Combine first 6 ingredients. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes or until well-blended. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with blueberries, and then with topping.
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, melted
in a bowl, combine sugar and flour; add butter. Toss with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over blueberries. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
[I never have lemons around, so I will squirt a little lemon juice in when I'm adding the liquid ingredients. Also, on Friday I used frozen blueberries that I didn't thaw before using. When I took the dessert out of the oven, it looked like the blueberries had popped and exploded all over! It tasted fine, but it looked messy, LOL. So maybe you should thaw the frozen blueberries before using.]
Thursday Rose wanted to go somewhere, and I was having a hard time thinking of what to do. I have not bounced back really quickly from this cold thing I've had, as well as some canker sores, so a trip downtown was very daunting. Then Bob thought of the Udvar-Hazy Annex to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Perfect! It's close to us, but it has tons of parking so even I am not intimidated by driving the big van there!
First we met Bob for lunch at Cici's Pizza, and then our plan was for him to drop us all off at the museum, then later come back to pick us up, as there is a $15 charge for parking (but no admission fee). But when we pulled up to the "Bus/Taxi?shuttle Drop-Off" gate, there was a big sign saying, "No Free Drop-Offs", which the gate attendant confirmed. We certainly weren't about to pay $30 to be dropped off and picked up, so we backed up and went back to Cici's so Bob could get his van and got back to work. The man had told us that Bob could let us off before the gates, and we could just walk up, but the gates are actually quite a ways from the entrance, and I told him since we had our 7 kids plus Rose's 2 . . . no, thanks.
As we were driving Bob back, we were wondering if school buses had to pay the $15, and Bob told me to ask the attendant when we went back. Then we had some funny imaginings on what if we get a big sign for the side of the van that said, "school bus", LOL.
When I pulled back up to the gate, the line for the parking lot side was long, because the first car was evidently having some big discussion with the attendant. ("Fifteen bucks to park?! Are you nuts?!" LOL) The man on the bus/taxi side got out a big flag and waved another car and us over to him. I grumbled to Rose about having to deal with that man again, but when I pulled up, he asked me, "Who do you have in there?" I said my 7 kids and my sister-in-law's 2 kids. He waved away my $20 bill and got out this big yellow notepad. "What's the name of your organization? he asked. I told him the "Lumen Gratiae Homeschool" and he dutifully wrote that down and waved us through. So I guess that answered our question about buses! He definitely recognized me as soon as I drove up again. He must have had some time to think about us or something! Too funny!
We first went up into the control tower they have. It looks out toward the Dulles Airport, which is quite the happening place. You can see airplanes taking off and landing on 2 runways, but the closest one to us had planes landing, then taking off, then landing, etc. every few minutes. The little girls could have stayed there forever! Grace especially really loves the airplanes that fly over our house (we're under and approach path), and so she was jumping up and down with excitement to see the airplanes so close!
We cruised through the commercial side on our way back, as people were getting tired. We also went up to this catwalk that is 3 storys high, which I have never been on before. The airplanes that were hanging close to it were these hilarious tiny little planes that basically looked like tuna cans with wings! They were the kind that people would maybe build in their garage or something, and we all agreed that we would never set foot in any of them! One of them stated in it's info that it "handled poorly in any but the lightest wind". Ummm, yeah . . . My favorite was this "Waterman Aerobile" built by none other than Waldo Waterman (surely you've heard of him? No? LOL!) He built it in the 1930's I think, and he used car parts to "maintain the look of an automobile". The kids were all like, "That doesn't look anything like a car!" I told them they needed to think more along the lines of Grandpa's Model A Ford, rather than our Toyota Sienna, LOL. Bob's sister Ann and her husband Wally came up from Richmond in time for dinner, and we had lots of fun playing Taboo afterwards! Then they all got up really early and left at 7:00 Friday morning to tour the White House. From there, they drove to Ocean City, MD for a weekend at the beach before heading back to their homes! We had a really fun time with them, even if it was short!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The glasses came in yesterday, and we picked them up. As he walked around the store with them on, he kept commenting on how crisp and bright everything was, and how he could read things so clearly now! I asked him how far away he had to be to read a sign without his glasses, and I was so amazed to find out it was really pretty close! He is the first child to need glasses, and Luke still had 20/20 vision at that checkup, so Nathan might be the only one for awhile. But I think I'll move faster on the next person. Poor oldest child--such a guinea pig!
Here is a picture of Nathan's new look. I don't know why it's so blurry. I didn't realize it until he had already gone to bed, and I wanted to be sure to post tonight so interested parties could be sure to see what he looks like!
Monday, August 10, 2009
I was so glad everyone was able to go and have a good time. We've been fighting some kind of crud (the CC practicum just keeps on giving . . .), starting with Anna a few days after the practicum ended. She ran a low-grade fever for a few nights, but was okay during the day. Then last Sunday night she got some gunk in her eyes, like pinkeye, and she also had a really snotty nose. Her eyes cleared up Tuesday, but by then Grace and Faith also had gunky eyes and snotty noses. Anna had a cough though. It took Grace and Faith forever for their eyes to get better, although I kept expecting it to just go away, like Anna's had. Finally on Friday I called to try to make appointments for them at Bethesda. Even though I called early in the morning, they didn't have any appointments available. But when the girls woke up, I decided that they finally were getting better, so I didn't worry much about it. Thursday night Jonathan started this croupy cough, so I was worried he wouldn't feel like going on Saturday. But he rallied, and the girls were fine too. Caleb was coughing by the time they all got home on Sunday, and Bob was all snuffly and had a sore throat. He actually stayed home from work today, and he has been very miserable all day. Now my throat is sore, and I have a headache, so I guess I have it too. Bleh. At least it seems like most people are getting over it quickly. We started school back up again today (it was WONDERFUL to be back in our routine), and I don't want me being sick to be the thing that keeps us from getting stuff done!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
After Faith and I dropped the boys off, we went to Kohls. I wanted to buy some running shoes because I have started the Couch to 5K running program. When we pulled up, I noticed that the parking lot was very crowded and busy, and the store was packed. It turns out that this is the annual "tax-free shopping weekend" here in VA. It originally started for school supplies, but now it seems to be for everything. Faith was happy hanging out in the stroller, so I bought 3 shirts and 2 pairs of capris (wow--clothes for me!), the afore-mentioned pair of running shoes, some new underwear (again--something for me!), and Christmas presents for Caleb and Jonathan. (Don't tell, but they are NFL jerseys, which were on sale, as well as having no sales tax!) It was a very successful afternoon!
Now, or at least once I get off the computer, LOL, I am planning on spending the rest of Faith's nap time planning my co-op lessons on Ancient Egypt. I don't teach until October, but we're having a planning meeting for our 5th week activity next week, and I want to know what all I'm going to cover. I also plan on spending some time getting my Classical Conversations stuff organized and plan out my first few tutor session. Maybe tonight, after Nathan and Luke go to bed, I'll even do some scrapbooking! I would love to start Grace's little book.
And of course, since Caleb is gone, we've officially declared a dairy-fest. We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and we'll have a chicken/monterey jack soup, which is SOOO yummy, for dinner. Tomorrow is our monthly fellowship meal after church, and for once I do NOT have to make sure I bring a dairy-free dish and dessert to ensure Caleb has something to eat! Nathan has requested au gratin potatoes.
I'm off to enjoy the quiet and get some planning done.
Friday, August 07, 2009
One big reason Aunt Claire came was to meet Faith, and she got to spend lots of time holding her!
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The Lord was working things out, however, starting with my Aunt Claire being out here to visit. That meant I could leave everyone else here at home and just focus on Anna, which was a huge relief. When we walked back, she was again very scared, clutching my hand and being totally uptight. I sat her down in the chair, and I sat on the end of it, holding her hand and talking through what was happening to the college-aged girl in the next chair, who was getting her teeth clean. ("Look how nicely the big girl is laying there with her mouth wide open! That's because it doesn't hurt! And that noise is just like a little vacuum, sucking away the water!") Anna became a little more relaxed, but when the dentist approached her chair, she tightened right up again and did not want to lay back in the her chair. At this point, the dentist suggested that I lay back in the chair and let her lay on me. Perfect! She relaxed right away against me, opened her mouth right up, and we had no further problems whatsoever. She was not even tense at all! It was such a sweet picture of trust!
As her little prize, she got this lovely pair of sunglasses, LOL. She's stylin' now!