Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy home

Looking at all of Uncle Jared's military jet photos on facebook and enjoying some sibling-love...Playing Trouble with Daddy & Mommy, then enjoying a wrestling/snuggling match with Daddy while Mommy makes homemade cinnamon-raisin bread...Having a catnip feast, then beating up her alpaca-fiber toy from Grandma... Ahhh, Saturday at home...how we love thee!

Carnivorous pets

Our 100+ mantises have died off over this last week until we now have about a dozen left. We have discovered why there are so many nymphs per ootheca; it's because they're quite stupid and most of them die from starvation (running away from their food in fear), drowning (in the 1/8 inch of water in their water dish), or major body trauma (when they trip and fall off of the walls/ceiling of their habitat)! The ones that are left have gotten much more coordinated; we also knew they had started to eat their fruit flies because the flies would all disappear overnight. Last night we finally got to see a mantis eating a fruit fly -- it was so exciting! I tried to get a picture; it's not great, but it's the best one I could get (the mantis is on the bottom right; his head, as well as his prey in his pincers, are pointing to 7-8 o'clock).

Friday, January 30, 2009

A bit of beach for our bathroom

I have long wanted a fishing net to go in our nautical-themed bathroom, and when we were on our anniversary trip this past summer, we found one and bought it. It's been sitting in the closet waiting for the day that I have time to paint the bathroom first...but last week I visited a friend's house and she had a net strung up with shells in it and I decided that enough is enough! I can't wait until everything is perfect, because "perfect" just isn't going to happen often at this stage of my life! So I promptly put up my net, put in some of the shells that we found on "our" beach in Clearwater, and it's lovely. Now every time I walk past the bathroom, it makes me smile! Me collecting shells on "our" beach ~
right in front of our hotel at low tide
Clearwater, FL ~ June/July 2008

History field trip

Yesterday Greta & I took our kids to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. It was a very nicely done museum and I plan to go back again with Bruce, too! I love history, and Civil War is one of my favorite time periods in American history, so it was fascinating to see uniforms, weapons, everyday items, etc, from the War. We spent most of our time in the children's area (for obvious reasons!), where they had a Civil War period "town" and dress-up clothes, lots of interactive locomotive/railroad history displays, train sets and other themed toys, and even a working telegraph system that transmitted from one end of the room to the other.
Christopher & Abigail in the play areaCharlie, Lauren, & David as Civil War charactersCharlie & Abigail sending a telegramAll of the kids And a rare sight indeed -- a picture of Greta & me! I loved this sign from the 1920s...its quirky drama struck me as very humorous!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Glimmer of hope...he may be growing a brain cell or two!

Lately Baker has had moments of actually acting like a real dog...he has become fascinated with the birds and squirrels and loves to be outside stalking, pointing, and chasing. If you look closely in this picture, you can see the squirrel on the side of the tree; Baker held this point, perfectly still, for at least twenty minutes the other day. He even held the point when it started raining (which is an amazing feat because he is petrified of rain and has been known to refuse for hours to go out and do his business just because it was raining!). (For those of you unfamiliar with the Brittany breed, they are hunting dogs, who "point" at game with their nose to alert their master, and trained dogs also learn to flush out the game on command...)

Three peas in a pod

Saturday we got to babysit our friends' three girls (ages 5, almost 4, and 2), and at bedtime the older girls all insisted that they needed to sleep together -- as in, all in a row, in a twin bed. They wanted to share the same pillow, too, but at least we talked them into sharing two pillows side by side! We discovered that the sleepovers of 3/4/5 year old girls are not all that different than teenage girl sleepovers, except that they don't stay up as late, and (thankfully) boys hold no interest at this age! It was a riot to watch the girls squeal, giggle, exclaim over each other's pajamas, get matching braids, and act totally girlie as we got ready for bed. Here's the whole crew at dinnertime having an "indoor picnic" and watching a video...

Monday, January 26, 2009

He keeps us entertained...

This past Saturday, David came hobbling into the room calling, "Daddy, Mommy, would somebody get me unstuck?" (the apparatus is a bar stool from which he had removed the seat part...and then felt compelled to see if he fit inside...)And today, this is the outfit he was wearing when he showed up for school...and apparently he felt quite manly in it...

Linguistic prowess

Abigail has a fascination with words of any sort...hence the fact that she has been reading (as in, really reading) for a year or so now. She also has a pretty extensive sign language vocabulary, and has recently added to her interests the art of making up her own words. Some recent additions are "badip" (pronounced BAD-ipp), which means to march up the stairs like a soldier, and "dashable", which means something that makes your tummy growl. These aren't one-time-use words; she includes them as part of her regular vocabulary. She also recently complained that "Mommy, I want to see [whatever it was]!!!" When I reminded her that she had already had a turn, she thought for a minute and then matter-of-factly replied, "Oh yeah. Well, Mommy, 'I want to' actually means 'I already did'." This past weekend she drew a picture for Bruce and wrote on it "Sid Dei", which, she explained, is properly pronounced "Side Day". She also explained that it looks like "sid" but is pronounced "side" because "Sid Dei" is Spanish for "To Daddy." Recently she was saying a word that I just couldn't figure out, so I asked her to spell it. With a very put-out tone (due to my denseness), she said "Mommy, V-O-L-U-M-E, that's what I said." Well. Okay then. Yesterday evening for about half an hour she decided that we could only talk in sign language, without speech. She went from the heretofore randomly-used single-word signs to stringing all of the signs into complete sentences, and even fingerspelling a few words for which she didn't know the signs. Perhaps we'll be starting Latin sooner than we had originally planned...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy birthday, Dad

The main purpose of our trip to NC this past weekend was to celebrate an exciting milestone with Bruce's dad -- his 70th birthday! We are so very thankful for the seven decades with which God has blessed him and for the Godly influence he has had and continues to have on our lives and the lives of our children.
We love you, Dad!

N.C. field trip

As I mentioned in my previous post, my dad- and mom-in-law took us on a field trip while we were at their house this past weekend. The museum that we went to was nicely done and the kids had a blast! You will notice that there are a lot more pictures of Abigail than there are of David, and this is for one simple reason: Abigail held still at each station; David didn't!!!

Our little diva's debut

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Here is a video of Abigail dancing on stage at the Hands On Children's Museum in Hendersonville, NC. Grandpa & Grandma McKee took us there for a field trip this past weekend and the kids had a blast! It was neat to see our usually-shy Abigail perform so unabashedly -- this was her favorite part of our visit! More pictures to follow later...

Fascinating infestation

It has been a very bizarre week and a half in many ways...not the least of which bizarre happenings was waking up this morning to an insect infestation in my kitchen. Approximately 100 small insects swarmed all over my sink, counter, and wall. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be miniature praying mantis. At first we were stymied, and then I remembered...on our Christmas tree this year, there was a small thing. Unsure what it was, I decided to keep it so that we could cut it in half in science class sometime and try to figure out what had made it. In the meantime, I had set it on the windowsill between our kitchen and living room. And -- you guessed it -- it was the egg sac of a praying mantis, and it was hatching!!! My response was "Oh, cool!!!", after which Bruce informed me that I was in the mere 1% of the population who would respond that way, and then he happily left for work and left me to happily deal with the insects! I ended up collecting as many as I could in a container and we spent over an hour studying them, doing research on the Internet to learn all we could about our new guests, and figuring out if raising them was a viable option (we're giving it a try). I learned a ton of fascinating things about them. (I know everybody's not as interested as I am, so I won't go into it all, but just in case, there are a couple of informative sites here and here.) I did learn that the egg sac of a praying mantis is called an ootheca (pronounced oh-uh-THEH-kuh). The eggs are laid outside in the autumn, and then once temperatures reach 70 degrees, they will hatch in 2-8 weeks. (Let's see...we bought our tree on Dec. 5th, and so tomorrow would have been seven weeks since we brought the ootheca in to 70ish temperatures. Bingo.) I never would have guessed that at any point in my life I would both purchase and attempt to propogate fruit flies, but guess what mantis nymphs eat? Yup. Fruit flies. Fortunately, PetSmart sells flightless fruit flies. That way the ones that escape while I try to feed them to our young mantises merely crawl around until I catch them, instead of flying away to form a second insect infestation in my house! So far the (apparently not-so-very-bright) mantises haven't figured out that they're supposed to eat the flies. Whenever one of the flies crawls near, the mantises all scatter frantically to escape it. Hopefully instinct will kick in soon! Mantises also tend strongly toward cannibalism, so that should get interesting, too. I could keep rambling, but I'll try to restrain myself. This has just been so very fascinating for both me and the kids! David likes them; he recalled what we learned earlier this year about insects and is anxious for them to start eating so that he can see their chewing mouths in action; he's been using his magnifying glass to try to see their compound eyes and jointed legs. Abigail thinks they're "sweet" and calls them "pretty mantises"instead of "praying mantises". Even Molly was fascinated...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ten days and counting...

It's hard to believe that I haven't posted for ten days. Ten days!!! Life flies by incredibly fast sometimes...and this is another one of those "sometimes" phases. I have so much to share...exciting school milestones, our trip to NC to celebrate my dad-in-law's birthday, news from daily life. There's the giveaway that I won in December that I still need to post about, too. Man, I'm behind! But first I have to get my camera from the car, where it still resides since our weekend trip. I have to upload its pictures to the computer and then prep and upload the photos to the blog (not my favorite task). I have to put enough coherent thoughts together to write a rational post or two. It ain't happenin' tonight...sorry, folks! Bear with me...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

Molly's birding video

Here's a short video of Molly's birding adventure...she was alternating between digging for the bird and coming to rub on my hand to beg me to get it for her!
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Molly goes birding

Today during school we were on this website listening to birdsongs, and Molly came running in excitement -- we had hysterics as she tried to figure out where that bird was hiding!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Busy minds

When I mentioned a while back to my friend Greta that I wanted a supplemental grammar book, she recommended the book First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise. After looking through the book, I decided that it was exactly what I was looking for, and so we got a copy over Christmas break and started it this week. I'm very excited about it! (I won't go into details about the book itself since most of you won't really care anyway -- but for those of you in a homeschooling situation, it's worth a look!) Below is a picture of the kids with their pictures illustrating the poem "The Caterpillar" (C. Rosetti). Their pictures started out as a simple caterpillar on a "leaf or stalk" but then their imaginations took over and the pictures got rather creative. That tends to be the way of it with my kids. Now mind you, sometimes I give them very particular instructions that they have to follow closely; that is, after all, a skill that they need to learn. But for the most part at this stage, as long as they include the main gist of the assignment, I leave them alone and let their imaginations soar. It's so much fun to watch what they come up with! On that note, below is a picture of David's spelling paper this week. The last instruction of the paper was to draw a clown ("clown" is one of his spelling words). As you can see from the picture, it started with a clown...and then morphed into a clown with a power saw, a cannon, and four special tools that "drill into the ground and then spin around to shovel the dirt out and then spin around again to drill some more" -- the stuff in that brain of his is quite fascinating!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Family updates

My brother Jared got a new computer for Christmas and so he has finally been able to update his blog, if you're interested... And my mom has posted pictures of her adorable new kitten (who doesn't love to see kitten pictures?!)...

Back to the books

We started back to school today. The school table (which for the last two weeks has been covered in a deliciously-riotous chaos of desserts and sweets) is once again clean, orderly, and free of distractions. On the one hand, it was very sad to officially conclude the holidays and all of their joys; on the other hand, it's always a bit of a relief to get back to "normal" again. Our school day went very well considering that we have been off for two solid weeks. We were all a little antsy about holding still for that long, but we made it...and it was a relatively painless "back into the routine" day. Now the kids will practice their piano, then enjoy some playtime, and I will do some housework and start another organization project. This is the month that inspires me to clean out and get organized, so I'll squeeze as much of that worthy task in as I can before the month runs out of its inspirational steam!