Thursday, December 31, 2009

Catching Up

As my mom-in-law reminded me, I haven't posted anything on my blog in a while. Looking at my blog, wow, she's's been over a month. It has been a crazy hectic month in our house, and I just haven't gotten around to journaling all the happenings around here. I will share some pics with you. (I know Gramma B wants to see some of these!)

Here's our Christmas photo we took one night. Nana took I don't know how many photos of us, and well, with 4 little boys, you get what you get. Perfection is not their game. As a mother, you have to stop stiving for it. So what if one or all 4 of your kids has a goofy face in the Christmas picture? Maybe we should all stop sending out pictures of us looking all good and perfect, and send out realistic pictures! ;-) Anyway, we finally settled on this one. Not bad, right? Wouldn't you know, the one picture that finally looks pretty good.....the mother has a goofy look on her face. Oh well, I took one for the team! (They owe me one!) They did much better when we went to the photographer a few weeks later to have our yearly family portrait done for our wall. The boys took the best picture on the very first shot the photographer took!

I like this one, but I got voted down. Just love the look on Owen's face (and I don't look so goofy...).

Tried to get a picture of the boys together....this is the realistic one.....

This is the best they could muster up. They're awfully cute, aren't they? The ones they took at the studio turned out soooo good. I love looking at them on my wall!

We've started a new family night. Our lives are so busy between Ben's work schedule and sometimes insane overtime, my part time work schedule, raising 4 boys, keeping a house, homeschooling, yada yada yada. We decided that we need to schedule some quality fun time as a family. Sunday night is the only night of the week, when Ben and I both know we'll be home (well, that is unless Ben is on call). So, Sunday night is game night in our house now. Our little church meets in a borrowed building on Sundays, so we have all of our services packed into the morning. It's a little strange not having an evening service like we were always used to, but it is nice to have family time at home. Here's a photo of Ben and the boys enjoying a high-spirited game of Hi Ho Cherry-O.

I love traditions, so I thought it would be fun to put together a gingerbread house with the boys every Christmas season. What I didn't think about was that the decorating would be way beyond their level when I purchased this kit. (hey, it was beyond my level!) So, I had to do most of the work. It certainly doesn't look like the cottage on the box, but the boys had fun adding on the candy and making it our own. Maybe next year we'll find a more child friendly kit. They boys thought it was great fun, though.

Our version of the Christmas cottage:

I knew Gramma would want to see these:

Evan, Derek, and Carter along with one of the little girls in their Children's Church/Sunday School class sang a couple of songs and recited a poem the Sunday before Christmas.

Evan had the line "What can I give him, poor as I am?" Hmmmm....looks kind of funny to see this poor Bethlehemite wearing a Lightning McQueen bathrobe! You go with what you've got! He did a great job....took his role very seriously.

Derek said "If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb." You can't see it very well, but he has dragons on his robe...that's to ward of the wild animals from attacking his sheep! He loved holding that little lamb. We could scarcely pry it out of his hands for days afterwards. Never mind that it has been in our stuffed animal basket for a few years, just waiting for some lovin'. Derek really liked being a shepherd, and said his line really well.

Carter said "If I were a wise man I would do my part." My mom took a Burger King crown and modified it to cover up the BK and added glitter to make a crown for him to wear. He loves it, and we still have it hanging around our house. He was very proud of his crown, and we were very proud of him.
"What can I give him? Give him my heart!"

One of the songs was Gospel Bells (the tune of Jingle Bells) and they each rang a bell while they sang it. They were all very precious. I love watching kids do Christmas programs!

I'll try to post Christmas pictures soon. We had a wonderful time with Ben's family at his parents' house near Cortland, NY, all of us together on Christmas Day. That hasn't happened in quite a while. Christmas season 2009 was a busy one and we didn't get to do everything we wanted to. Don't tell anyone, but I didn't even make Christmas cookies! Oh well. This year I decided I wasn't going to stress about all the things I wanted to do with the boys. That ruins the wonder of the season. And besides, Nana made some really good ones and shared them with us, so the boys didn't really miss out! And we had a fake tree this year. We weren't going to even be home for Christmas, so I let go of my attachment to having a real tree, and did the practical thing. Ben was pesky needles to clean up. And I got a deal. Spent no more on it than I would have on a fresh tree. Ben was so happy when I came home with it and told him I'd decided to use a fake one this year....he grabbed my face and kissed me. Wow....I had no idea a plastic tree could excite a man so much! ;-) I missed the smell of pine, but that's ok.
Christmas isn't about the evergreen scent, and Christmas cut out cookies, and picture perfect family photos gracing our Christmas cards. It's about little children singing for Jesus, its about honoring Christ's birthday, it's about sharing love with our family and friends with our gifts and our time, it's about teaching our Children about the Baby of Christmas and what His birth means for them. Those things we did do. And so, there are no regrets on missed traditions or activities....just memories made and a renewed gratitude for the Gift not laid under any tree, but laid in a manger.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dinner and a Show

My mom's birthday was this past week, and due to my Dad's work schedule and my part time work schedule, we didn't have a chance to celebrate until last night. So we made dinner and had a cake. We tried a few new things. We had Sour Cream Pork Chops with Egg Noodles, Broccoli Cheese Casserole, Citrus Salad with Bacon and Red Onion, and Snowball Cake. It all turned out pretty yummy.

The Snowball Cake turned out really good. You bake it right in the glass mixing bowl after you mix the cake mix and add a cream cheese filling on top in the middle. The cream cheese filling sinks to the bottom. Then when you flip the cake over, it looks rounded, and the cream cheese filling ends up at the top of the cake. The frosting has pudding, powdered sugar, milk, and cool whip in it. Then the whole thing is covered in coconut. Mmmm!

Birthday kiss for Nana

My Mom and Dad

After the other boys got to sit on Nana's lap for a picture, Papa couldn't be left out.

I noticed Mom is limping today. LOL

Nana had 4 eager helpers when it came to blowing out the candles.

The boys enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to Nana over and over again. Evan's version went like this:
"Happy Birthday to you,
We lo-o-ove you,
You a-are the be-est,
Just li-ike yourself."

Derek sang probably 10 times:
"Happy Birthday to you,
You live in a zoo,
You act like a monkey,
You smell like one too."
I think Derek thinks it's a compliment. Nana asked him "What do Monkeys smell like?"
Derek answered, "Bananas!"

My Mom also got treated to puppet shows performed by each of her grandsons.





I expected Owen would just move his arm around and pretend to do what his brothers did.

But I heard him say,

"Once upon a time.....puppets....giraffe...."

uh, Owen, that's a dragon

"...dragon....knight....The End."

Happy Birthday, Mom! We all love you very much!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Portrait of Me

I'm not feeling too well tonight, so Evan decided to draw a picture of me to help me feel better. I must admit when I saw it, it did make me smile and laugh. Is this really what I look like to him?

I especially love the ears and the huge hands and chubby fingers! At least I look thin!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Little Teacher's Pride

OK, I know it's not right to brag about your own accomplishments, but is it okay to brag on the accomplishments of the people you love?
I am so proud of my one and only student, Evan!
I just want to publicly give a shout out to the student of the month! haha
As a home-educating parent, I have the added pride of not only seeing him bring home good work, but being there when he accomplishes it.
Teaching him is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for me.
I'm sure that traditional school teachers feel the same way when their students excel.
He is doing such a good job learning his letters, reading and even spelling; numbers, addition, counting, money, time; and Bible lessons and catechisms.
I thought I'd post a little of his work. I think he has excellent handwriting for a boy who just started Kindergarten 6 weeks ago!
(And he'd like his Gramma to see his school work.)
Of course, I've never taught K-garten before, and since he is my only student, I don't have a comparison.
But his Nana, who taught Kindergarten for about a decade says he has some of the best K5 handwriting she has seen.
Go Evan!
Good job, Buddy!
Evan comes by this commendation rightly...he works very meticulously at writing his letters.
I'm proud of the great effort he is giving, doing his best, and excelling!
A+, Evan!
Keep up the excellent work.
Keep on trying your best, keep on loving learning, keep on being you!
Your teacher is very proud of you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My favorite things about Fall

When I was a kid, Summer was my favorite season, probably because there was no school and I could play outside all the time. We had the best backyard! It was huge, and there were woods beyond that with paths and springs. It was a perfect playarea for a little girl and her imagination. We didn't have a lot of toys growing up. Blankets served as our "wagon train", we made mud pies and dandelion stew, I spent hours playing house, school, church, and store (I loved that old Service Merchandise catalog!). I used to read alot. Our church and school were just up the road, and I used to take my "Get Along Gang" rollerskates up to the gym and roll around and around, playing out some imaginary scene in my head. I used to make blueprints of what my home was going to look like when I was a grown woman. For several years we didn't even own a tv when I was young. My imagination was really my best toy. My husband can attest to the fact that I have a very active imagination! :-) He can thank my parents for that!

As I got older and the heat and humidity of NY summers started to annoy me, I found myself loving Spring. The fresh air, the flowers blooming, trees growing new leaves, green grass. Maybe that's because the NY winters (my least fav season) are so hard. Spring in NY is like a breath of fresh air, figuritively and literally. I mean I can really do without anywhere from 4-6 months of snow, freezing temperatures, yellow snow, slush, black ice, having to shovel feet of snow just to shovel through feet of snow just to get to your vehicle, climbing into said vehicle and driving for 10 mintues before it warms up and you thaw. I love having fresh white snow on Christmas, but honestly, I could do without anymore! It was great when I was a kid. That great back yard was like a valley. There were great spots to slide down from behind the house. I didn't mind the cold so much then. We'd come in and warm ourselves and thaw out our mittens on the wood stove. That all doesn't appeal to me so much now. Anyway, when Spring does finally arrive, it's like everything around you finally starts to live again. The tiring dark dreariness of constant winter weather is gone, and the blueness of the sky, and the vivid colors of Spring, just make you feel energized.

Just in the last few years, I've found that, though I love Spring still, I am beginning to really favor Fall. (except for the reminder that winter is soon coming!) There are so many good things about Fall...the crisp cool air, the brightly colored leaves, the soup recipes that get pulled out of hiding, the fun activities to do with the kids......the sights, the smells, the food, the beauty of Fall.
(The song from Sound of Music cues) "These are a few of my favorite things...."

apples from the orchard taking a bath

mmmmmm.....warm cider donuts

first batch of homemade applesauce

little boys enjoying fresh from the pot applesauce

helpers with muscles

more helpers

"Look, Mom, I'm doing it too!"

scarecrows and corncobs

4 little pumpkins just like my little punkins

riding out in the country and enjoying the view

this big oval pot of mums gracing my front steps (best part is they were a great bargain!)

31 quarts of homemade applesauce in my freezer!

Homemade French Apple Pie,
my husband's fav
MMMMMMMM...this one was the best pie I've made.
Came out a little browner than it usually does (getting used to my "new" oven),
but boy did it taste good warm with whipped topping!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Super Nana to the Rescue

Ok, this picture has nothing to do with the post, but I think it's sweet....This stuffed cat was made by my Grandma, and it sat faithfully on her bed in the nursing home where she lived until she went into the hospital and passed away nearly 2 years ago. My Mom kept it, and Owen has attached himself to it. He loves this much so that my mom has already had to repair her. Grandma would be proud!

My mom is a life-saver. Seriously, she saves lives...every day! She's Super Nana! Well, okay, she is more of a time and sanity saver, but that's just as good, right? My mom has graciously and eagerly agreed to take care of my 3 younger boys while I teach Evan his 3 Rs in the morning. At 9 am, I do Bible class with all 4 boys...that can sometimes be a circus....good thing God is so patient! I'm glad I have them all involved. Carter and Derek can say the pledge to the Bible and the American flag, are memorizing verses, have learned the days of creation, are singing new Bible songs, and they can answer catechisms that are on a Kindergarten level...such as:

Who made you? God made me.
What else did God make? God made all things.
Why did God make you and all things? God made me and all things for His own glory.
Who made God? Nobody made God.
Was God born? No, God has always been.
Will God ever die? No, God lives forever.

Let me tell you, 3 year olds can learn alot more than we give them credit for. The trick is getting them to focus long enough to catch it! Our 2 year old, Owen, is even able to say parts of the verses and the pledges. He is slowly, pain-stakingly slowly, going to learn to sit still for more than 10 seconds at a time. So, though there are moments (every morning) when I wonder why I am doing this class with all of them (have I gone mad?), I am glad I decided's profitable for all of them, and it's being profitable for me, too. (though I must confess a sigh of relief comes over my whole body when 9:30 arrives!...imposing structure on toddlers is exhausting.)
Anywho, back to Super Nana....
Mom comes over after Bible class, and we put the boys shoes on, and she takes them over to her house for what she affectionately refers to as Nana's Preschool.
Super Nana isn't content to just babysit the boys;
She isn't willing to just put them in front of her high definition flat panel lcd tv (that my boys LOVE) all morning;
Super Nana isn't even happy to just watch them play.
No, not Super Nana!
Super Nana does Pre-school and Potty Training for 2 hours every morning!
Though she does incorporate some educational tv programs and playtime, she is determined to teach them things.
Like with Blue Day, Red Day, Green Day, Silly Hat Day, Silly Tie Day, etc.
They sing songs, read books, scavenger hunt, learn colors, learn values (like today...."Bee" Kind), make things (like today...kazoos out of t.p. rolls).
She's found that their attention span, even when they're enjoying something, can be short lived. But, bless her heart, she's trying anyway!
Here are some pictures of the boys enjoying Nana's Preschool:

Carter on Silly Hat Day

Owen wearing Papa's moose hat for Silly Hat Day
(some might wonder why a 6o some year old man owns a moose hat....I know I do!)

Papa joinging in the fun....some days they get to enjoy some time with Papa too, depending on his work schedule. He fits in well! :-)

Carter Owen and Derek on Silly Tie Day
...apparently Carter thought Nana said Silly Guy Day

Today, they searched Nana's house for 6 bees, and then had a lesson on "Be Kind"
Carter & Derek

And they made kazoos out of toilet paper rolls.
Best part is that Nana sent them home with them.
I know you can't tell on a blog, but that last sentence was laced with sarcasm!

And this is another of Owen's favorite playmates at Nana's preschool.
He calls him "Poop Bear". Precious, huh?