Monday, August 29, 2011

4 Month Well-Baby

Micah had his 4 month well-baby appointment this afternoon. At least I squeezed it in before he turned 5 months in about 2 weeks!

He weighed 17 lb, 12 oz, and was 26 1/2 inches long. That's a smaller curve than he has been on. as far as the growth chart (80th percentile as opposed to 95th!), but still WAY huge compared to any of our other kids! Micah was smiley and charming for the doctor, obviously a healthy baby. Caleb drew the short straw to be my designated helper for this appointment. It is so nice to have an extra set of arms, even though no one leaps for joy at the prospect of a trip to Bethesda! On a random side note, as we were driving in the parking garage (we had to go all the way up to the 7th floor to find a parking space at 2:00 in the afternoon--crazy!), we drove past a minivan with a Dayton Christian bumper sticker! So cool!

Here is a bonus picture of Micah. Caleb thought he looked like a gym rat/Rambo sort of dude, so he fitted him out with a "sweatband", which is actually a headband of the girls'. I'm sure Micah will be so proud of this picture when he gets older! Be sure to check out the rolls of "muscles" in his arms!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Twas a Dark Yet Not Too Stormy Night"

Here we are, listening to the rain and wind from the outer bands of Hurricane Irene. Once again Capital Weather Gang called it, as far as how our little area was going to be affected (or not affected) by this storm. They're amazing! Our power went out once, briefly, but other than that burst of excitement, it hasn't even seemed very windy!

I noticed that I have neglected to update my blog all week, which might lead one to believe that we had a relaxed, restful week, but of course that was not really the case! While at home, I've been trying to get ready for school starting next week, as well as the co-ops starting Sept. 6. But we've also been rushing around too, especially in the evenings, when Nathan and Luke both have football practice from 6:00 to 8:00, but not in the same place. Exciting times!

Monday: Nathan mowed my friend Lynnea's lawn. He has been gainfully employed this summer by ,mowing their large lawn once a week! And while he was doing it this week, the girls, Micah, and I visited with Lynnea and her 3 girls (and 2 bunnies). I always enjoy visiting with Lynnea! In the afternoon I had a chiropractor appointment, first one since before we went to Ohio in June. I want to start the school year off properly aligned!

Tuesday: The kids and I went off to a local park to hike on a trail. I am teaching in the "trees" unit for the elementary co-op the end of September, and I am hoping to take my classes over to this park, which is close to the church where we meet, so they can identify some trees. The kids and I walked up an easy trail, but there wasn't a lot of tree variety--mainly oaks and hickories. I think we're going to go with it though. The girls (and Nathan) were very whiny, so I am going to have to go back by myself to really prepare what I am going to say! The weather was gorgeous though--sunny, breezy, and not very humid. A perfect day for a hike!

Wednesday: I taught Latin at 12:45, and then we all headed over to our church so we could do a dry run test for Rivendell. Now that Siri is over in Hawaii, we had to make sure that we could have 2 computers in each location, and both sets of computers skyping each other. I am happy to say it was a great success! Whew! Hopefully things will go that smoothly when we are actually having classes!

Thursday: Luke had an orthodontist appointment, and then he and I went to Walmart to get school supplies. I think we got what we need for the year, and we also went to Sams to stock up before the great storm. A big afternoon of shopping! I am still hoping to make a commissary trip next week before school really gets going.

Friday: Other than taking Caleb to his book club over at the McC's house, we didn't have to go anywhere today. We spent some time putting all our plastic yard toys under the deck and policing up the yard (which should make our neighbors happy, LOL). Then the younger kids and I went to Bible study, while Bob dropped both boys off at their practices, stayed at Nathan's, and went to a parents' meeting when it was done, while one of Luke's coaches dropped him off where Nathan's team meets. Having 2 boys playing on different football teams has been quite a time so far! I don't know how other families do it!

Saturday: This morning Bob and I looked at a set of bunk beds a family on the homeschool email loop was selling. The bunk beds have a trundle bed that rolls out from underneath, and I thought that might work for the girls' room, since that is a small room, and we weren't sure how to fit everyone in once Faith is out of the crib. The set also came with a chest of drawers (we can always use more dresser space!) and 2 desks, one with a hutch. We ended up buying the set for $475, including 3 twin mattresses. It's on the older side, and not really feminine or anything, but it is very sturdy, and it should work just fine. We mde 2 trips to get all the furniture home, and on our way back we ran into Walmart to buy 3 twin sheet sets. Walmart was a zoo, as people were buying bottled water and toilet paper, LOL. We were trying to beat the heavy rain, but since that never really materialized, I guess we could have dilly-dallied a bit more! Luke had a football scrimmage this afternoon (in the rain), but after they came home and ate dinner, the boys helped Bob set everything up. Bob got the bottom bunk set up, but when he went to put the top part on, he realized that part of one post was broken, so he will need to fix that tomorrow. So for tonight, Anna is on what will be the bottom bunk (where Grace will normally sleep), Grace is on the trundle part (where Faith will normally sleep), and Faith is still in her crib. She is VERY excited about sleeping in a big girl bed, however, so hopefully it will be an easy fix tomorrow.

So that's what we've been up to. I've been busy drawing a map of Europe on a piece of posterboard for me to use for mapwork at Rivendell this year. I've finished drawing it, and now I need to outline it all with a sharpie, and draw in the lakes and rivers. Then I'm going to draw a second one for Christine to use for history, and get them both laminated at the teacher store not too far from here. That is a goal for next week!

But now, as I listen to the wind actually pick up a bit, I think it is time to go to bed!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Can Finally Say . . .

. . . that Faith is potty-trained! Yay! Back down to just one in diapers!! What I can NOT say definitively, however, is that girls are easier to train that boys. And that is a very valid point--if we had stopped having kids after Anna, I would have been certain that girls were a piece of cake (if you did it right, of course--just as I did it, you know . . .). Grace was more difficult than Anna, and Faith was QUITE difficult. Now watch--Micah will be really easy, just to prove some boys are really easy to train (please, please, please, Lord!! LOL).

While we were at the beach, Faith was pretty much dry. She went in every public restroom the girls went in (our first child to not be scared at all of public potties!). Now back at our little bungalow in the evenings, she proceeded to poop in her diaper. Grrr. When we got home, she continued to be dry, but not to poop in the potty, so I left her in the diaper.

Last Saturday Bob took Jonathan, Anna, Grace, and Faith to PA, to the Idlewild amusement park. Each year the company his dad retired from has their annual company picnic at the park, and pretty much all of Bob's family tries to make it. We take up a lot of tickets, so recently Bob has been just bringing a select group of kids, which has worked really well. This particular Saturday Nathan and Luke had football weigh-ins, so it was a good time for them to stay here, and Caleb is a lot like his mother in that amusement park rides just don't do anything for him, so he chose to stay home.

I decided to put Faith in a pull-up for the day, figuring she would want to go potty like Anna and Grace, and it's a real hassle putting a dry diaper back on. I did pack a diaper and an extra set of clothes just in case! But I shouldn't have worried. She was dry the whole day, and when they got back to the hotel, she sat on the potty in the room and pooped! I find it funny that both of her big pottying breakthroughs have involved Bob taking her to PA. (She peed for the first time in the potty at WSS when Bob took Caleb to camp.) Must be something about those PA potties!

So she came home Sunday, and she was accident-free this whole last week. I kept her in a pull-up until Friday, just because she seemed to prefer that, but she was in panties yesterday and did fine. And I know it really has taken because she got out of bed last night to go poop in the potty! So over a month later, Faith is finally potty-trained. Seven down, one more to go . . .

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Blast From the Past

We skipped Bible study this evening, since we are all dealing with some kind of summer cold thing, and we didn't want to share the wealth. I was sitting in my newly created "school room", and I decided it would be a good idea to clear off 2 shelves on the bookshelves in there so I can put all the TOG books for this year on them. As I was moving books around, I discovered some folded papers in my very old black KJV Bible, the one I used for high school, since my parents gave it to me as a gift on my birthday in 1987. I found a veritable treasure trove of notes and pictures that my best friend Amy and I wrote during health class during "J-term" of our sophomore year. ["J-term" is a part of the Dayton Christian school year, in January, as it happens, where you only take 2 classes--one all morning and one all afternoon.)

Health class was, as I still remember to this day, exceedingly boring. My clearest memory is of a poster that we each had to make, illustrating a "safe dating" slogan we had made up. Mine was "Treat your date like a brother, else you'll end up a mother." Very clever, eh? Amy's was more to the point--"Wait 'til you're wed to jump in bed."

I spent a good deal of time in this class writing limericks, and I am sure you all will agree I have missed my true calling in life by not following my poetic muse. Ha! Here are some samples for your reading enjoyment these 22 years later.

There once was a girl named Claire.
She had naturally curly brown hair.
She cheerleaded, ran,
Played the clarinet in band,
But sadly was just second chair.

(I know, you are all wondering why I have been hiding my light under a bushel all these years! Here is another one.)

Once we were all in health class,
Apparently having a blast.
But looks are deceiving,
A lecture we're receiving.
But yay! This day's almost our last.

One last one, this time a rather questionable one about Amy, which I am happy to report did not end up coming true, LOL.

A girl named Amy I knew,
Dozens of orchids she grew.
The flowers were great,
But she couldn't get a date,
So she died in bed with the flu.

??? I don't think Amy ever grew orchids, and she's been married now for 16 years, so I'm sure she is thanking Jason for saving her from this dire fate!

Among other pictures (featuring frogs and butterflies, Amy!!) was a picture not very skillfully drawn of me in a casket (I was the artist, unfortunately) with the inscription, "Here lies Claire, peaceful, undisturbed. It's a sad, sad story--health class killed her". What makes it quite remarkable is that on the lid of my casket Amy wrote "8 kids, lived in Okinawa, Japan". Ha--8 kids!! I'm sure we got a big kick out of that one!! It was obviously one of the most unreasonably ridiculous things we could think of to write, back in our sophomore year of high school! And yet . . . here I am. So I just want to publicly acknowledge Amy as the prophet she obviously always has been! LOL!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spontaneous, Flexible, Responsive . . .

. . . these are not words that normally describe our family. I would say we're about as maneuverable as an aircraft carrier! But yesterday we were amazingly flexible and spontaneous.

It started around lunchtime, when I decided to sign up to make a meal for our pastor's wife. Our homeschool co-op is making meals for 2 weeks, and no one had signed up, so I jumped right on that! A little before 2:00 (1:47 to be exact), I was puttering around the kitchen, thinking that I should just start making the meal right then, so I could deliver it early for a change, and not be rushing around in the afternoon/evening. At that moment, Nathan came thundering up the stairs from the basement. "MOM, I HAVE A DENTIST APPOINTMENT AT 2:00!!!" Oh yes--the second orthodontic consult. The one that I had gotten an automatic reminder call for on Sunday night, and the one that I had then filled out all the paperwork for, but never thought about one tiny bit all day on Monday! Oops! Well, now my afternoon is filled! We literally leaped into the van and rushed off to the appointment, which fortunately was about 10 minutes away. Whew! Once again I was tremendously thankful to have older boys--I could leave everyone else at home with Luke, including Micah, who I had just put down for a nap. Otherwise, I don't think we could even have found shoes for everyone and gotten out the door in 10 minutes, much less actually arrive anywhere!

So . . . we made it there, had a good appointment (topic for another post!), and came back home so I could put the meal together. Then Bob called. He had a TDY to Quantico Tuesday, and it's a real pain to get down there from here, so he was going to spend Monday night in the TLF. They had given him a 2 room suite with 2 double beds and a pull-out sofa--did we want to go to Quantico that night with him? Yes! I have wanted to go to the Marine Corps Museum since it opened a few years ago, but I've never made the trek down there with the kids. Now we'd already be down there!

Bob delivered the meal and took both boys to football practice while I packed up stuff for everyone for the night. He picked the boys up, we loaded up the big van and the minivan, and we left about 9:15 to drive south. We didn't get in until 10:30, so the kids weren't in bed until 11:00, which made for some crabby girls today, but oh well.

The girls did sleep in a little bit, and once I nursed Micah (a second time, since he was up at 5:15, grrrr), we were ready to go eat around 8:30. I decided to run out to the van to get a stroller for him to sit in , and when I passed the breakfast area, a guy was wiping down the counter and putting the last bagels in a box! Not to worry--I had been afraid there wouldn't be any breakfast at all, so I had packed a cooler with milk, along with cereal, oatmeal, and hard-boiled eggs. So we just ate in the room. Whew! The paper in the room said breakfast was until 9:00, but clearly it was over . . . that's the military way, LOL. As we went out to the van, I eagerly looked forward to the day when we could take a simple overnight trip without requiring a luggage cart to get our suitcase, 2 pack-n-plays, 2 sleeping bags, 4 pillows, toiletries bag, cooler, grocery sack of food, and other random items out to the van!

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is an impressive building that you can see from I-95. We've driven by it several times at night, when it is all lit up. The spires and metal actually reminded us all a little bit of the USAFA Chapel, but it is supposed to invoke the image of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, with the angle of the pole.
There is an atrium filled with tons of light right when you walk in.

In the atrium were some cut-outs of previous Marine uniforms that you could stand behind. Here Caleb is modeling a uniform from Revolutionary War times. Quite dashing!

The museum was set up really well, with lots of galleries, and many interactive scenes, dioramas, videos, and so on. It was really moving to hear the interviews with Marines, such as from World War II, that were playing. We made it all the way through the World War II gallery, but we didn't get to the "Cold War" gallery, and I believe there might have been another gallery or 2 that we missed. It was really a big place--bigger than it looks on the outside. There were a few interesting-looking movies that were playing in theater-like rooms, but we didn't watch any of those. Faith was being a real stinker, and I knew she wouldn't sit happily through a movie. I had to carry her pretty much the whole time, and I wished I had put Micah in the Ergo and her in the stroller! Of course, then she would have wanted to be out, because what she REALLY wanted was to be contrary, LOL.

The kidi did sit through several of the short little films showing around the exhibits. The one below had several news clips from World War II, as well as some cartoon commercials for war bonds (seeing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck was what drew them in!).

I would like to go back to see the rest of the exhibits. It is always moving and humbling to spend time contemplating the tremendous price people have paid for our freedom. We are especially proud of Bob's brother Dennis, who was active duty Marine, and now is in the Army reserve!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The "Bungalow"

Here is the little former base house where we stayed. It had a lovely front porch that I wish our house here had!

And here is a dark shot of the living/dining area from the front door. The bedrooms and bathroom are down the hall on the left.

These were some of the intimidating cleaning instructions. These ones were on the fridge. They also went to the trouble of mailing us a paper with regulations and requirements, but which lacked actual useful info, such as that the pool is always closed Mondays, and the lifeguards don't show up at the beach until 11:00! This sort of info was also not on the website. We decided the people in charge at this place had the attitude that we should be grateful they were allowing us to stay in their place, as we were clearly a bit of an inconvenience to them by making them do work. Definitely not much customer service! But having 3 bedrooms was wonderful, and it was only $120 a night--which Bob's company paid for, since he was working! (Well, not Sunday night, since he was off Monday.) Still, a great deal for us! What's a little cleaning!?!

Beach Pictures!

We took a walk on the beach Sunday night, as soon as we got there. It was a good thing we didn't wait--a storm was coming in, as evidenced by the windiness!

Monday morning, during our long wait for the lifeguard, the kids got more and more in the water. Eventually they were lying in the waves . . . that's not swimming, of course . . .

As we were eating lunch, a guy approached our table, stopped about 10 feet away, pulled out a very small bullhorn, and made an official announcement of a sand-castle building contest and other games, courtesy of the "AZ", which turned out to be the "Adventure Zone". Then he left and went to each of the other groups on the beach, because his bullhorn really could only be heard from no more than 10 feet away. We thought we were in trouble when he first came up though! So anyhow, the kids dutifully built sand castles, since the guy had said everyone would win a prize. Here is Nathan's, which won the prize for "most fortified". Jonathan's won for "most efficiently constructed", as his went up very quickly, once he decided he was actually going to make one, and the judges were already coming around! Caleb's won "best group effort", since the girls and Jonathan all helped. Luke was reading a book and didn't make one. For their efforts, they all got little dollar store trinkets, LOL, but they had fun.

Faith loved the water! And I didn't have to worry about big waves knocking her over! She also loved the sand. Aunt Jane and Uncle Terry had given the girls sand toys when we were at Rose's house back in June, and the girls had been dying to use them. They got their chance! In fact, all the kids enjoyed playing with all the sand toys, so it was really nice to have so many things!

This is the beach. We were almost all the way over at one end of it. This is close to 2:00, and you can see how it has filled up somewhat. It was practically empty until close to lunchtime, and we were the only family there--a private beach! It was nice because there were all these plastic coated tables with benches on the beach. We stuck our beach umbrella through the hole in the middle of the table, and we didn't have to worry about it falling over, plus we had a nice shady place for lunch! We also had a Neat Sheet on the other side of the table, in the shade, where Micah took naps on beach towels or sat in his bumbo like the king of the beach.

Big Day For Anna!

I went to Wegmans, Sams, and Walmart this afternoon, and when I pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door, Anna was right there to welcome me. She was amazingly excited to show me that she had her first loose tooth! And when I looked at it and moved it around, I realized that in fact it was QUITE loose, and would most likely be falling out in the near future! She wriggled the tooth around for a little while, then picked a granola bar to have for a snack. A bite or 2 later, and out came the tooth! Piece of cake!

Anna has been so excited about this tooth--it is practically all she has talked about all evening long! Now Grace is anxiously awaiting her first loose tooth. And maybe I'll actually notice she has a loose tooth more than 30 minutes before it actually falls out!

So Anna's loosing teeth, and Micah's gaining them--his third tooth is just about through! It's a busy tooth time for out family, LOL.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We just got back this afternoon from a little vacation! Bob had a TDY down at Pax River, and there is a little Naval rec center across a bridge from there called Solomons Island. It's where the Patuxant River and the Chesapeake Bay come together. It used to be an actual base, but now it's all just a recreation area, with a little beach, pool, mini-golf course, and several playgrounds. There are also a bunch of different lodging options.

So we all went with Bob after church on Sunday, and we stayed for 3 nights in a "bungalow", which is a fancy name for the former base housing, LOL. It was a 3 bedroom house, with a kitchen, eating area, living area, and bathroom. It was nice, but definitely a base house. I spent some time while trying to fall asleep thinking about how I would manage if I had to live in such a small house with all the kids, how I could efficiently use the very limited amount of storage, etc. I always woke up so glad I don't have to do it, LOL! But for a 3 night vacation it was just perfect--enough rooms that Micah and Faith could both take naps, and all the kids could go to bed, while Bob and I could stay up later! We watched "House Hunters" several times, which we used to do fairly regularly but haven't done in at least a year. I was also able to do a lot of typing, entering in all the memory work stuff for next year, and I did some Latin as well. I also started a Bill Bryson book called At Home, which has been fun and interesting so far. It was so nice to not be at my own (cluttered and messy) house--very relaxing!

Bob's meetings didn't start until Tuesday morning, so we spent Monday at the beach. We got to the beach at 9:30, where all these signs said swimming was prohibited unless a lifeguard was present. So we set up and waited. The kids dug in the sand for awhile, then stuck their toes in, then laid in the water . . . and still we waited. It was boiling hot and humid, and we about gave up hope that a lifeguard was ever going to show up. But eventually, at 11:00, 2 came zipping up in a little vehicle. We were all very glad to be able to swim without feeling guilty. The beach was small, but it wasn't crowded at all. It was very man-made, with big piles of rocks on either end making it crescent-shaped. There were small waves, which were perfect for the girls. They had such a good time in the water! Also, it wasn't as salty as ocean water. Although I reapplied sunscreen to the kids several times, I wasn't as faithful with Bob, and he got a sunburn on his back. We were there until 3:00ish, which was plenty long for us all! We all went back, showered, and then Bob took the kids to play mini golf, which about gave everyone heatstroke.

Tuesday Bob had to work, so he drove the van in, then came back at lunchtime. We then dropped him back off at the base and continued on the a naval aviation museum right outside the gates. It was free, and it was small, both of which were good things with all the little kids, LOL. I thought it was quite interesting, and hey--it was air-conditioned! I had considered taking the kids to a playground, but I decided I just couldn't handle being out in the heat! We went back to pick Bob up, then went swimming. They have a really nice pool complex, with a few pools, water slides, and diving boards. To be able to go on the diving boards and water slides, you have to swim the length of the pool and get a blue wristband. All 4 boys did this, so I was really proud, especially of Caleb and Jonathan! One of the pools was 2 feet deep for a lot of it, and I think it only went to 4 feet at the deepest part. It was perfect for the girls, although Faith did spend some time in the baby pool in the beginning, while I was nursing Micah and Bob was watching the boys swim across the big pool. She did fine in the 2-ft pool, but I wasn't confident enough in her for her to be in there while I was nursing!

After the pool, we went to Ci-Ci's Pizza for dinner. It happened to be a "kids eat free" night, so with our 4 adult buffets, we got 4 kids in free, so we only had to pay for Faith! Woo-hoo!

This morning I took Bob in to work and then rushed back to get ready to leave. We had to be out at 11:00 (and I dropped Bob off before 8:00), so you would think there would be plenty of time! But let me tell you, it was like getting checked out of military housing--I was afriad someone was going to come with a while glove and inspect! There was a long list of cleaning requirements posted on the fridge, and the threat was if you didn't do these things (and do them well, I presume), you would incur a cleaning fee of $50/hour! Yow! So we were stripping beds, wiping counters, sweeping and vacuuming (and picking small rocks out of the carpet by hand because the vacuum provided was really crappy, LOL), and trying to get all our stuff out to the car--in between nursing and trying to keep the girls helping in useful ways, not unhelpful ways, if you know what I mean. I was a ball of sweaty stress by the time we actually handed in the keys (at about 10:59)!

Bob actually didn't come back with us. He finished up meetings there this afternoon, and then he drove with his boss to Reagan National and caught a plane to OH for another TDY. Busy week for him! The kids and I came back here and got ready to take Nathan and Luke to their first football practices. This was a bit of a sore spot, since they actually missed the real first 2 days of practice with this little beach jaunt. And it was stressful, trying to find where the teams were supposed to meet, not having the right equipment with them, etc. Hopefully they will both settle in well and have good seasons. Tomorrow we have another Rivendell meeting here at our house, in between dropping the boys off at practice and picking them up. Then Friday night I'm co-hosting a baby shower for Siri at Christine's house--I'm making chocolate-covered strawberries! There are only going to be about 10 ladies there. Luke thought I should make hundreds, just to be on the safe side, LOL. I'm also in charge of games, so I need to get organized! I have pictures of the trip that I will try to post, if not on here, then on Facebook, but I'm not sure when that will happen!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Physical Science

I have finally made some headway with the physical science for next year. It took me awhile to really get into it because first of all, it's not my favorite of sciences, and second, the lab stuff was just too overwhelming. But I need to order the lab stuff, so I had to jump in.

The thing about the labs for this course is that they all use wildly different components--6 V batteries, density cylinders, hooked weights and a demonstration balance, various metal electrodes, alligator clips, and wires, mini light bulbs and bases, magnets, optic bench, spectroscope, various different chemicals with all the glassware associated, as well as burners . . . and that's just some of the things! When I printed off the order form for BJU physical science from hometrainingtools, it was 7 pages long and cost over $200! That's for one person! The course is an introduction to physics and chemistry, so it hits a ton of different topics. Obviously some trimming had to be done.

I was able to find a used lab demonstration DVD online from BJU, so I have been watching the labs. Wow . . . it is really not too fun to just watch a bunch of labs being done, LOL. I would not want to do all my high school science that way, for sure! But it was very helpful for me in seeing what labs were extra, what things I could substitute, and most importantly, which labs could be done in one big group with only one apparatus, and which ones would be most beneficial for us to do in smaller groups. We'll have a total of 7 students next year, although Eric will be roughing it in Hawaii and will have to watch us. So that leaves 6 students, and I think we'll break them up into 2 groups of 3 for a lot of labs. That will give more hands-on experience, especially for the ones who might be more timid and not naturally just leap in to participate. But that does mean I have to buy enough stuff for 2 groups for those labs. I'm not sure how chemistry (in 2 years) is going to work out! I can see that getting really expensive! Although . . . not as expensive as a class at the community college. And I do want the kids to have good hands-on lab experience in high school, like I did--even if they don't have a super-experienced teacher like Mr. Minor to teach them!