Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We have had a lovely Thanksgiving this year, and it all began on Wednesday! Bob got off work early, so we met him at Olive Garden for a late lunch. We were seated at a long table, and there were some booths across from us. About halfway through our meal, a family with 3 teenage boys got up to leave. The dad approached our table, and I figured he would say something about the kids, because that actually does happen fairly frequently. The kids really are usually pretty well-behaved in restaurants, and people come over and comment on that. He did compliment us on having a lovely family, and he also thanked Bob for his service (Bob was still in his uniform). Then as he was turning to walk away, he put a pile of bills on the table, telling us it was to pay for our meal! We were so astounded--it was $60! Amazingly, that was almost the exact total of our meal. Since we are now a "large party" all by ourselves, most places automatically include the tip, and the grand total was $59.17. Isn't that cool?!

Yesterday we had our big meal over the L's house with 3 other families. I think this is the absolute best way to do it--all the great food, but no one person has to do that much! ed smoked 3 turkeys, Elizabeth made the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy, and the rest of us filled in with side dishes and dessert. I brought cran-apple-pear sauce, sweet potato casserole, sweet potato biscuits, a chocolate Snickers cheesecake, and banana cookies. We all ate a ton and had a great time visiting!

Faith got to eat her first Thanksgiving meal up in Theodore's high chair. She was a big fan! She is at the point now where I can just put a bunch of food on her tray, and she will feed herself everything. I gave her sweet potatoes, a little bit of turkey, a sweet potato biscuit, some green beans, and the cranberry sauce, which she loved. She chowed down while I helped everyone else get their food, and then she got down and played while I ate! She did one funny thing while we were all sitting around talking. She was playing with this set of juggling stick-things that Ed has, waving them around. They are long, sort of like batons. Somehow she got her arm over one end, and the other end was on her neck. The harder she pulled down her arm, the harder the other end was on her neck! She pinned herself down with a stick! It takes some skill to be outwrestled by yourself, LOL.

After we got home last night, we all wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. But we knew the cleaning lady was coming today, so we had to finish getting ready for her! We have been furiously decluttering all week long, and the rest of the house was really looking fairly good, but the kitchen was still a problem. After washing all the dished, I finally just got a box and put everything on the counters in it. Problem solved! If looks great! If only we didn't have to actually live here! So the lady and another lady are here right now, cleaning away. I feel odd, like I should be doing something helpful instead of sitting in the computer . . . Bob took the other kids out to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch and playing, to get them out of the ladies' hair. Having a clean house is going to be so wonderful! I am so thankful for these ladies!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Down Time

We are officially on our long Thanksgiving break now, and it couldn't have come at a better time! I really felt like I had no margin of patience whatsoever, and by the end of each day, as kids were crabby and loud, I was having a very hard time dealing. But we've all been sleeping in yesterday and today, and yesterday I had a massage! It was at a new place, Massage Envy, which is a franchise place for massages. Who knew?! They were running a special for first time customers--$49 for 1 hr--so that's why I went. I booked the appointment for 2:00. This is really the first time that I have actually booked something, knowing that I would just be going off and leaving the kids by themselves, and I must say that I did struggle with a lot of guilt as I drove off. It all seemed so frivolous and spendy and just selfish! But I tamped down the guilt and went on, LOL.

The place was really nice and relaxing. When I made the appointment, the girl asked me what kind of massage I wanted, and I said "deep tissue", since I have some specific problems in my shoulder and hip that I am always looking to address. I didn't really feel like the therapist did much deep tissue work--it still was mostly Swedish, with the long strokes. That feels great and is very relaxing, but I had high hopes for more kinks to be worked out of my hip and shoulder. Oh well. I told Bob that I really think you get the best massages from students doing their practical work at student clinics. There they want to practice what they've been learning and actually try to fix your problem! At a place like this, they just want you to come back (because the regular price of an hour massage is $98, unless you become a "member" and pay $59 a month, which entitles you to one massage a month!).

I did notice later that night, however, that the massage really was better than I gave it credit for at first! Everyone was fussing at each other again . . . but I was floating above it all! Really, I felt so calm and unbothered. The difference was truly amazing.

I also had some time to finally look at another nagging problem of mine Sunday night. I have had this very sore spot on the side of my right middle finger, not too far from the bottom of the nail bed. Some of you may remember my nightmare finger problem back in March 08, where after we all had strep and pinkeye, I got a staph infection in a hangnail, which had to be lanced, etc. Well, that was also in this same finger, in almost the same spot. What is up with that?! It has been very painful to the touch for a little while now--I can't remember when it started--and lately it had gotten a little raised bump there, like a callus or wart or something. I wondered if maybe it was a plantar wart, which I have never seen before, but Ed L. looked at it after Bible study and said it didn't look like that. The bump had what looked like a tiny black spot in the middle of it, so finally had the brainstorm that maybe, possibly it might be a splinter. I soaked it for a long time Friday night, and by Sunday I got out the tweezers. After some digging, I finally successfully removed a very thin thorn-like thing that apparently went straight down into my finger some time when I didn't even notice it! I am still running my finger over the area in amazement, as it no longer hurts! It's interesting to consider what you will eventually accept as normal when you really don't have time to investigate something that is wrong, LOL.

So I am feeling much better and healthier after just 2 days of my break! Imagine how great I'll feel in 2 more weeks! : )

Friday, November 20, 2009

Faith is 9 months!

Faith had her 9-month well-baby appointment today. She was 15 pounds, 1 ounce, and 28 inches long. This keeps her solidly in the 2nd percentile, so she is still a peanut. The doctor was okay with that, as long as she doesn't drop anymore. She said that Faith was advanced in many ways for 9 months, and she has some rolls of subcutaneous fat on her legs and arms, so she is obviously healthy!

Faith is turning out to be a great eater! She is really coming along with table foods. I usually give her some baby food at the beginning, just to make sure she gets enough, but she finger-feeds herself the rest of the meal, whatever we are having. She has 6 teeth, though, so chewing is not too hard! I haven't given her just plain meat, but anything in a soup or casserole I give her, as well as plain vegetables.

She pulls herself to standing all the time, and she will even stand by herself for a few seconds if we let go. She creeps along the edge of chairs or tables, so maybe walking is not too far off? She is a very speedy crawler! If I put her down in the family room and walk back to the kitchen, it's just a few seconds before she is right back under my feet and pulling up on my legs, like in the picture! That view is one I get quite a bit! Her new skill is climbing stairs. I'm working with her on turning herself around to go down them backwards, but she definitely hasn't mastered that yet! We are having to be very diligent about guarding the stairs!

I have started bringing a bottle for her the past few weeks of CC, so I didn't have to take time out to nurse her. She doesn't love the bottle, but she will drink enough of it to hold her off until lunchtime, even without a nap. That has been nice. She will drink water from a sippy cup, but I haven't tried anything else. I just gave her regular formula in the bottle, and she has tolerated that. I was a bit concerned, since she is an odd-numbered baby, and our odd ones (LOL) tend to be more allergy-prone. So far so good, however.

So at 9 months, Faith is a happy, active little baby who loves all her siblings, and is adored by them in turn! What a life!


Finally I can take a little bit of a breath! I am done with co-ops until after New Year's! I have really enjoyed CC, and I know the kids are learning a lot (even Anna walks around the house singing the history songs), but it has sure taken a lot out of me! Technically we still have 2 more weeks of our other co-op after Thanksgiving, a fine arts unit, but we are just skipping it. In fact, most of the kids and I are going to Ohio to visit! A vacation!! I say "most" because it looks like Nathan is going to stay here, and my dad is going to come here, and they are going to work on some painting/projects around the house while all the rugrats and anklebiters are out of the way. Oh, I hope they can get a lot done! There sure is a lot to do.

Originally the plan was that we would drive 2 vans out to Ohio, with Bob towing a trailer of stuff that we didn't want to store. But now he has dithered around to not being as excited about PCSing, so it looks like that plan is not going to happen. We have not gotten official orders yet, and so Bob hasn't had to make a formal decision, but if he were to have to decide today, we wouldn't go. Sigh. It's all been stressful. I guess I'll say more when we know for sure.

In the meantime, I am REALLY, REALLY looking forward to seeing my mom and Amy, and just relaxing, without having to be somewhere and preparing stuff all the time.

In other news, our digital camera has died. I'm so thankful that it waited to kick the bucket until after the Egypt 5th week! I had a lot of trouble uploading those pictures onto our computer, so I'm wondering if it wasn't in the death spiral then, so to speak. We got it the Christmas before Anna was born, back in 2005. I was not excited about it at.all. because I knew we'd never get pictures developed from all the images we would take, just like everyone always complained about. But then Dan and Melinda introduced me to Snapfish, and that hasn't been a problem for me! Last week I was going through stuff in my desk, and I found our old camera. It was on pictures number 22, so I took a few more pictures of the kids to finish out the roll of film. The little ones (Caleb and younger) were confused that you couldn't just see the picture immediately ("Where's the screen?"), and when the film was rewinding, they were quite amazed at all the noise! Now I need to get that film developed. Anyway, I finally did consent to start taking pictures with the digital camera. Now I guess we need to look for another one. I abhor shopping for technical things, because there are so many different options out there, all of them expensive, and it is so hard to tell which features really add value (especially to a non-technophile like me), and which ones just sound impressive (but we would never use). Maybe a camera will be this year's after-Thanksgiving sale purchase? Bob had cracked the code on that--shop the internet! Same great deals, no standing in line with crazy people! He's been able to get great deals on internet things the past few years, so we'll see what this year brings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ancient Egypt 5th Week Activity

The grand finale for our Egypt unit at co-op was this morning. It was a lot of fun, but I think I can speak for all the teachers when I say I'm glad it's over, LOL. Above you can see 4 ancient Egyptians, come back in the flesh! Luke's tier painted these cool collars. The rest of the tiers colored ones made out of paper from Oriental Trading Co., but they were stiff and uncomfortable, so I came home with a bunch of them.
Here I am in the mummy room. I spoke for about 10 minutes, talking about the process of mummification. I welcomed the kids to our embalming shop and said I had heard they wanted to be my apprentices. I talked about the natron we used ("finest in all Egypt"!), and what the salt did to the body. I showed the mummified, but unwrapped, chicken that you can see me holding in the picture above. The kids were fairly impressed by the chicken, LOL. I let them all smell him, and many, especially the boys, also wanted to touch him. On the table behind me you can see some "canopic jars" that another lady made several years ago. Her kids are all grown out of TNT, so she let us borrow them. King Cluck's golden coffin is on the other side of me on the table.

After I talked, we let them practice their emblaming skills on bananas. They split the left side with a plastic knife, and then scooped out the innards with a plastic spoon. They placed the goop into their dixie cup "canopic jars". Then they taped the slit with white waterproof tape, and wrapped the banana with toilet paper strips. Above you can see Luke and Caleb McC with their finished products.

Nathan was my able assistant, and here you can see him standing with King Cluck in his golden coffin, ready for his journey to the next life. They are next to a mummy that we also borrowed from Joy, the one with the canopic jars. It was technically a Halloween decoration, with spooky green eyes, that you were supposed to put batteries in so that it would light up and make spooky sounds. We did not do this, LOL, and in fact, we re-wrapped him so that the eyes were covered up, and so that he looked more like a recently mummified body, as opposed to one stumbling out of a tomb 1500 years later. By the end of the time, his strips were sagging, however. He was an impressive ornament for our mummy shop!

Another mom was in the room with me, and she did yeoman's work, keeping up with the demand for toilet paper strips and pieces of tape! We had a lot of fun together! Neissy also did a wonderful job decorating the room with pictures, and even a huge poster of Isis that she drew and our kids colored! Her daughter, who is about the same age as Anna, was also a great helper, passing out cotton balls and toilet paper strips.

There were also 3 other rooms that the tiers rotated through. One of them was an excavation lab, so the kids could see what archeologists do. They had a great time brushing of artifacts they found in their gridded areas. Jonathan was excited to find hieroglyphics on a piece of pottery! Here he is with Pharaoh Daniel McC, who is sporting the double crown of unified Egypt, of course.
Another room was the food/music room. There the kids got to sample pomegranete seeds, dates, grapes, and flatbread. Then they learned the motions to "Pharaoh, Pharoah", that old camp classic, which they then sang.
The other room was a tomb room. One part of the room was darkened, lit with little lamps,a nd they talked about tombs and treasures. Then they heard the story of the discovery of King Tut's tomb, and they went through a little maze. There they saw the "treasure" that was left in the tomb, drew some hieroglyphics of their own on the "walls" of the tomb, saw Tut's sarcophagus, and played the Senet game which was left in the tomb. Pretty cool!
So all in all, it was a great day, and the kids had fun! I think they all learned alot about Ancient Egypt over the past 5 weeks, and I am sure they will remember a lot! I'm tired though, and so we're going out to Chik-Fil-A for dinner tonight! Yay for modern conveniences!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Still Alive . . .

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have made it through my 2 weeks of teaching at co-op! I think the lessons went well. The first week was about hieroglyphics, and for the second week, we talked about the Egyptian religion, specifically the 10 plagues of Egpyt and how they were attacks on 10 of their gods. It was really interesting for to learn about too! Now we just have the 5th week activity, but I, in a fit of rare inspiration, have already typed up everything I'm going to say for that! I still have to finish painting the cardboard mummies, and make the coffin for King Cluck, though.

Next week is the last week to teach tin whistle at CC also. Amazingly, I already have my lesson done and hand-outs ready for that too! That is not due to any foresight, however. Today at CC we had a special guest speaker (a man from South Africa who is also a missionary there--fascinating man! I wish he could have spoken longer!), and so we were running short on time. Also, the tutor who has been teaching tin whistle to the little guys was sick, so I would have had to teach all the classes together. I can't even fathom how that would have worked, so I told the director I wasn't interested, and could we just skip it for today?! Thankfully she said yes, so now I'm all prepared for next week! Whew!

I'm so tired now, though. We've been busy cleaning and organizing as well. Bob had off Wednesday for Veterans' Day, and we really got a lot done (not that there isn't tons more to do, LOL). Hopefully this weekend will also be productive. We need a few nice days' of weather so we can finish up some outside stuff. Wednesday it poured down rain steadily, so that was not that day. We did throw away a ton more things.

We've also been giving back things to people as we find them. In our shed we have the smallest size of boys' bike, the one that all our boys learned how to ride on. It was actually handed down to us from the L's, after Anthony and Zachary had used it. I must say it has served faithfully! Anyhow, now the L's have Theodore, and while he won't be riding a bike for a few more years, it would certainly be fitting for him to learn to ride the same bike that his brothers both learned on! So we have given that back to the L's.

We're still dealing with this little 2-day fever sickness thing that we've been struggling with this season. We all went to church 2 Sundays ago, and then Grace got sick again Saturday. And then Faith, and then Nathan on Wednesday and Caleb today. Nathan and Caleb had to stay home by themselves during CC today. Grace and Faith are still really snotty and snuffly. I'm ready for us all to be healthy!

Right now Bob and the kids are making pizzelles, a crunchy cookie from Eastern Europe that you cook on a pizzelle maker, which is like a little waffle maker. They tried a chocolate variation, with chocolate syrup so Caleb could have some, which were quite tasty. They like to bend the hot pizzelles under a little bowl to make it into a bowl shape. These are delicious as ice cream bowls, and that is what is being planned for later this evening!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb turned 8 on Thursday! He got to bring Laffy Taffy candy for the kids in his Classical Conversation class, which he really enjoyed. He also got to pick his dinner, and again he picked "tuna pockets", which makes me laugh, since that is something I make when I am stretched for time and need something easy! Hey, it's a favorite. We had garlic stir-fried green beans too.

We gave him a Redskins jersey, which he was really thrilled with. We all know the Redskins aren't very good this year, but he really wanted a jersey of some kind, and well, Redskins ones are what they sell around here, so he was quite happy.

He requested an F-22 cake, which I made today and we took to Bible study tonight. It went together fairly easily, although I was worried about the tail fins, since they are at an angle. As it turned out, I should have secured them with skewers because the left one did topple once we got to the L's house. Oh well. We put a toothpick in so we could take pictures there! Can anyone guess what I used for the nose antenna? It's not a pretzel, since I didn't have any little sticks, only huge pretzel rods. It's a . . . .

. . . piece of dry spaghetti! It worked out just fine!

The reason the frosting is all mottled is that the real planes are painted in 2-tone gray like that. Radar-deflecting and all, you know. We got out several books from the library, even some specifically about the F-22, so I know of what I speak, LOL.

At home, Caleb laid out how he wanted his candles to be positioned. He had the clever idea to put 2 sticking out from the engines, like afterburners. It did make for a cool effect!

Happy birthday, Caleb! I hope this next year is a wonderful one for you!!