Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Little Treasures

For Mother's Day Charlie made Grandma Candace a small star shaped box which he picked out by himself. He choose to paint it orange (surprise) and found a small wooden fish emblem to glue on the top (because Grandma Candace likes to fish).

Grandma Candace had the great idea of mailing the box back and forth between the two of them and filling it with little treasures. We received the box in the mail a few weeks ago filled with treasures like smooth sea glass, a feather (was it from the Eagles you have told us about?), a Snoopy pin, pine cone etc. Charlie put the treasures in his treasure box and has gone back to look through them several times.

We thought that perhaps he could choose a few items that he found when we went to Lake Chautauqua, but Charlie had other plans :)

He choose his items carefully and they will be on their way to Grandma Candace this week! Hope you like them Grandma Candace, Charlie hand picked them just for you!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homeschool: Preschool letter T

I love the fact that our boys are learning side by side, teaching one another and having a great time doing it! And they look so cute too :)

This week we did a few scheduled activities for Tommy and finished up the letter T. He used playdough to make the letter T on his playdough letter mat.

He worked on some of his RRSP curriculum which had him practicing cutting along a thick grey line to cut out his Bible verse (Thou Shall Not Steal) for the week and then taped it together. He is very good at cutting but until last week I had not instructed him to actually cut on a line or a specific object out. I was pleasantly surprised the growth he had in this area in just a few days.

He worked on the foam ABC puzzle, pounding the back in with his little hammer and colored his letter T for turtle. We also reviewed his letter vocab cards.

Mr. Potato head came to the rescue while Charlie and Mom did some Phonics work.

Tommy and Miss S did some 1:1 sorting. The flash cards have a number 0-3 written on them and they had to put the correct number of pom poms into the right bowl.

For our craft we made window suncatcher tissue paper leaves. Tommy spent so much time putting every piece of tissue paper carefully on his sticky contact paper. He was so patient and insisted on doing it all by himself.

Charlie was also doing the same project and was a few steps ahead of Tommy. I didn't even have to tell Tommy what the next step was, clearly he was paying attention and was NOT going to miss any of the fun. He rolled out the air bubbles and then promptly ran off to the backyard to find leaves for me to trace. However, he got side tracked after finding a leaf or two and thought that "making" me some delicious mud and sand coffee and painting his arms with his creation was far more fun :)

I also bought out the watercolor paints for Tommy to experiment with. He used different fall colors to make a beautiful painting. We then cut the picture into little leaves and let him make a tree with fall leaves.

I really think that art is therapeutic for Tommy. He gets so serious about what he is creating, very quiet and is very purposeful in his creations. I love watching him create, he is such a sweet boy.

We also read a lot of books, ABC and fall themed books were our favorites.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Homeschool: Kindergarten week 3

(Charlie making a collage of drawn trains and train pictures he cut out of magazines)

Charlie had another good week of school. He continues to do well with his lessons. I am hoping that within a few weeks of having the baby that we will be able to settle into a daily schedule, for now we are doing school between my doctors appointments etc. So sometimes we are doing school in the morning (which seems to work best for us), during naps (Charlie is usually pretty tired by then and needs a rest as well, not the best time for school) or after naps (which works fine, but Mama is low on steam by then). Mornings seem to be our "good" time of the day for all of us, so we try to sneak school in then whenever we can.

Charlie continued on with his core lessons of Language Arts, Phonics and Math. Charlie also took the KRAL test this week and one online session with his K class.

We have gone back to Explode The Code for Charlie's handwriting practice as well as supplemental phonics. He really enjoys these workbooks far more then the Handwriting without Tears program...which literally brought us both to tears at one point :)

For fun we made Mummy Pizzas for lunch. I used toasted English Muffins, spaghetti sauce, pepperoni, sliced string cheese and grapes (for the eyes). The kids loved them and ate them right up!

One of the craft projects that we did this week was make suncatcher leaves using contact paper and tissue paper. Both boys loved doing this project. Charlie started off by making a pattern with the different color paper and then dumped a bunch of tissue paper over them to fill in the spaces. Tommy placed piece by piece and refused any help. His attention span these days is incredible. I have had both friends and his speech therapist comment on how amazing it is.

After the boys placed the paper down, they rolled out the air bubbles and then I sent them out to the backyard to find as many types of leaves as they could. Charlie brought back 4 different leaf styles that I then traced and cut out of their mosaic tissue paper creations. Daddy and Charlie later identified what kind of trees the leaves came from.

Charlie also did 2 different art pieces this week using pastels, which was his first go with them and he really enjoyed using them. So much in fact that I had to cut him off after he completed 2 art pieces one right after the other. My friend Susana, over at Our Homeschool Fun, introduced me to an amazing new art site for kids. I allowed Charlie to pick out one of the fall art projects from Art Projects for Kids and use his pastels for the first time. He choose the How to Draw a Fall Tree project.
This was the first time I had assigned him to look at a something and then draw what he saw. I think that he did a great job. He smudged the pastels with his fingers and tried to blend colors together to make the clouds. I also sat with Charlie and drew the same picture. We talked about how each of us was looking at the same inspiration picture and yet our pictures were very different and why that was.

Charlie had such a great time that he begged to make another drawing. This time he choose The Symbols of the Season project.

The only thing I made sure that he did was divide the paper up into the 4 boxes. I was really kind of surprised at how with this picture he added more detail and paid closer attention to the actual inspirational picture. He added the lines for the pumpkin and his eggplant had great resemblance to the other picture.

We did a lot of fun things this week alongside our normal studies. However,it was a hard week in terms of scheduling everything we needed and wanted to do. The 4 weekly doctor appointments are truly putting a damper on all the extracurricular activities and fun projects that I would like to do and had planned for the boys. We have had to withdraw the boys from the homeschooling co-op that meets on Mondays for this semester. It just wasn't possible to make it on Mondays until the following session that starts in January. I am really bummed about this (thankfully I hadn't talked about it too much with the boys!), but I know that this is a short season in our lives and in a few months we will be settling into a new routine and will be able to add more back into our daily lives.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baby Update: 35 weeks

(33weeks pregnant, photos courtesy big brother Charlie)

A lot has happened in the last few weeks. Baby girl is growing like a weed, she is healthy and strong and quickly filling my abdomen up! I easily become out of breath and depending on the way she is laying keeps me from standing still for more then a few minutes at a time. I am starting to have some mild swelling in my legs and feet and feel like my toes are more sausage like these days then actual toes. I think it is amusing, really.

Physically I am feeling better. For several months I was feeling horrible but it wasn't like any other pregnancy symptom I have ever experienced. I was exhausted beyond belief, just lifting my arm to blow dry my hair took great effort. I was shaky, dizzy and often felt like I might pass out. The worst times were in the morning and it was all I could do to get the boys breakfast and play with them for a few hours. By nap time I was done.

About 6 weeks ago I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. After being put on a strict diet and following it to a tee, I was unable to maintain my blood sugar levels and was put on insulin. The insulin, though a pain in my bum, well actually stomach :), is making me feel SO much better. I check my blood 4 times a day and take insulin before each meal. I go every week to Diabetes Management to meet with my nurse, who inevitably ups my dosage of insulin at each meeting (this is typical, as the baby grows I will need more insulin), and monitor my levels. They follow pregnant ladies very closely, more so then even their typical diabetic patients. It is a good thing.

I am also now going to my OB every week for ultrasounds and non stress tests to make sure that the baby is not in any distress. Last week little Miss measured in at a whooping 6lbs....that is 2lbs above what she "should" weigh at this point and from here on out she could possibly gain 1/2 to 1lb a week. I don't even want to do the math at how big she could get, it will just be what it is going to be! I am doing my part and that is all I have control of :)

Little lady was breech last week but managed to flip and is now head down...for the moment anyways. My OB and ENDO are at odds about when I should be induced. My ENDO who manages my diabetes says that I shouldn't go past 38w which would put delivery about a week before Halloween. However, my OB won't induce me that early and is planning an induction for November 3rd, which is only 2 days before my due date...ugh! Of course this too could change but this is the plan at the moment.

At this point I am feeling the best I have during this pregnancy. The boys are getting settled into a good school routine, my energy is returning a bit, projects are quickly getting crossed off our list and we are getting excited to see our sweet girl.

Trent has been wonderful! He has listened to all my complaints, my groans, and my fears. He has rubbed my back and feet almost nightly, gone out to get groceries, cleaned the house, ran errands, took the boys out to give me a few minutes to myself, the bottom line.....he is just the best! I feel so blessed to have him as my husband and that God choose him to be the father of my children! This little girl is going to have the best Daddy in the world!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby Shower

The brothers

My mom and sister threw us a baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our little lady. It was a great day and we were surrounded by family and friends and could really feel the love! We had family drive in from Michigan, New York, Southern Ohio and from the Akron area. We also had a dear friend visiting from Arizona make it to the shower. And of course, our dearest friends from our area were there to support and love on us.

Aunt Patti had some fun games planned that totally reminded me of all the baby showers that Granny took me to when I was a little girl. My 3rd (?) cousin Marjane made a beautiful white blanket and Nie Nie made an adorable pink tutu for our little lady, I love handmade gifts! Mom made our family famous punch and bought the biggest, pinkest cake I have ever seen! Granted, I only had 2 bites (Uncle Sherman the family doctor gave me permission) but still I think it was the biggest cake I have ever seen!

It was a really nice day. We spent time with Trent's family beforehand and he got to hang out with his Dad, my Dad, Uncle Sherman and the boys while I went to the shower. Then the guys came for cake and we gave Charlie and Tommy there "Big Brother" presents. I wanted them to feel special and that this was as much for them as it was for the baby. They are going to make great big brothers!

My mom and sister accomplished what they set out to do! Celebrate our sweet girl and put enough PINK in our house to ensure that we won't only dress her in the boys hand me downs....ha!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weekend of Fall Fun

We headed to Patterson's to pick some apples this past weekend, only to find out they don't start letting the public pick until the end of September. So the boys enjoyed delicious homemade donuts and fresh pressed apple cider instead. Charlie had a white cake donut with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Tommy had a chocolate cake donut with chocolate frosting and topped with crushed chocolate cookie to look like dirt and a gummie worm. I miss eating sugar....sigh!

Then we headed to the pumpkin patch and drove the wooden tractor for a bit before heading out.

Fall was in the air, it was cool and crisp but so sunny and bright. I got us all it the mode for one of our favorite holidays...Halloween. So while Daddy slept in the boys and I made some cute and quick Halloween decorations for our home.

First we made Mummies. We raided the recycling bin and found an empty milk carton and a coffee can. We spread glue all over them and then the boys pressed down toilet paper as the mummy rags and glued eyes peaking out of the bandages. I think they are so cute!!

Charlie wants to decorate the house all scary this Halloween. Mummys and Monsters seem to be the limit to his idea of "scary" this year....I am grateful! I love Halloween, but not all the gross gory and bloody stuff. So this year I am still safe that my idea of cute and his idea of scary are one in the same ;)

Tommy's monster, Tommy working on his monster, Charlie's monster

We made scary Frankenstein Monsters out of cereal and cracker boxes. I cut out shapes for the boys and they glued the ones down that they choose. Charlie wanted to add stitches to his Frankenstein and Tommy wanted the side pegs on his "happy monster".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The backyard, yesterday and today

The other day I was fed up with our backyard. We had it all nice and pretty looking at the beginning of the summer. Mulch down, Daisies planted, porch painted. And then life happened. The kids strategically moved the mulch around the yard in their dump trucks, the dog dug up and ate the Daisies and we are in the midst of porch renovations. Oh and did I mention that I am 8 months pregnant and haven't the energy to pull weeds or fill in holes in the garden beds that said children and dog have dug?

Unfortunately, I voiced my disdain for the backyard to my dear, overworked, tired and sick husband and in not such a nice way either. I even think the word "Trashy" was used. Immediate shame and remorse filled my being. I hate it when I catch myself complaining about something so silly as the current state of our flower beds, it is ridiculous really.

Today is a new day. My expectations are more realistic for the season of our lives. The boys and Miss S. are busy in the backyard playing. Miss S and Tommy are pretending that they are "going to Nie Nie and Papa's house" and Charlie is mining (digging holes on the side of the house), the dog eating an orange sand bucket and I am planning curriculum for the next week of school and blogging. The sun is out in full force and the sky is a bright blue, not a cloud in it and it is cool enough for a sweater.

The backyard feels so warm and inviting today, our own little green paradise. It is bright and big and full of laughter, it is beautiful and peaceful.
I apologized to my tired, sick and overworked husband last night. He is so forgiving and loving. He kindly reminded me that there had been a lot of big changes to our little oasis this summer...his way of telling me it is all ok, and it is, it is better then ok!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Ready For Baby: Freezer Cooking

In the next 2 weeks I plan on doing our mega freezer cooking marathon to stock the basement freezer with dinners and quick meals for when the baby is born. I came across some new recipes that I wanted to try out beforehand just in case they were flops. I learned my lesson after making a slew of meals that sounded great but in the end I had a freezer full of "yuckies" as Tommy said after eating one of the said meals.

Today while the boys were napping and Trent was doing some work I whipped up:
2 dozen Banana Cinnamon Muffins
1 dozen of Banana Cinnamon Muffin Bites
1 Beef Roast, half for dinner the other half for spicy tacos
2 dozen Sloppy Joe Cornbread Muffins
1 batch laundry detergent
6 Bacon, Egg and Bacon Breakfast sandwiches

The Banana Cinnamon Muffins are a favorite in our house. We can literally go through a dozen a day! The boys love them for breakfast or a quick snack. I altered the original recipe a bit to make it healthier.

1/4c white sugar
1t ground cinnamon
3/4c butter
3 c white sugar (I use Splenda)
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16oz) container sour cream (I only use 8oz)
2t vanilla extract
2t ground cinnamon
1/2t salt
3t baking soda
4.5c all purpose flour (I use 1c white flour, 3.5c wheat flour)

1.Preheat oven 300 degrees. Grease muffin pan. Stir 1/4c sugar and 1t cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture. We usually just use the cinnamon.

2. Cream butter and 3c sugar (or splenda). Mix in eggs, bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Put in muffin tins.

Bake 15-20 or until fork comes out clean. If making bread instead of muffins, bake for 1 hour.
Sloppy Joe Cornbread Muffins
Cornbread muffin mix:
1c cornmeal
1c wheat flour
1t baking powder
1t salt
2 eggs
2T honey
1/4c melted butter
1c buttermilk

1. Stir together dry ingredients, add eggs, honey, butter and buttermilk. Stir.

Sloppy Joes:
I cheated and used Manwich with browned ground turkey

Spoon the cornbread mixture into a greased muffin tin, about half full. Then put a large Tablespoon of sloppy joe mixture in the center of each muffin tin.

I think I baked these at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, can't remember.
Breakfast Sandwiches

So incredibly simple!

Stirred 5 eggs then poured into 6 greased muffin tin. Baked at 375 degrees until done...20 minutes?

Meanwhile I cooked 6 strips of turkey bacon and toasted 6 English muffins.
When the eggs are done let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Make sandwiches, English Muffin, egg, bacon, slice of American cheese, top off with other half of English muffin. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and place all in a freezer ziploc bag.
When ready to eat unwrap and heat in microwave until warm, you can also place the sandwich in a damp paper towel when reheating.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lake Chautauqua Summer 2010

We had a great time at Lake Chautauqua, Ny on our annual summer lake trip. The first few days it was overcast and rainy, but that didn't stop our troops from having a great time. We found plenty of ways to enjoy the water. Charlie and Tommy waded in to their tummies, Charlie even lots a shoe but Daddy came to the rescue and fished it out of the mucky bottom of the lake:)

Charlie loved digging in the sand. He made a really cool sand "attraction", that had several tunnels and pathways, moats around castles and stone walls. He and Tommy had a great time filling up their buckets and letting the water rush through the chambers.

Tommy and Daddy had fun fishing on the docks and catching minnie perch. He loves to fish and it is a great tool in teaching him patience ;)

We also spent a lot of time painting rocks we found as well as a few wooden kits that I had picked up at the art store. Who would have known that 49cent wooden trains and boats would have kept us all busy for hours?

Daddy and the boys on the rocks (that Daddy use to play on when he was little) outside of the Casino in Bemus.
We spent a few days on Lake Erie and Grandma Pam and Grandpa Brian's new house. The boys had a fantastic time running on the beach and playing in the water.

Tommy cutting the grass with Grandpa Brian

Grandma Pam kept the boys busy having fun playing golf in the backyard.

We spent some time at the Choo Choo playground at our lakeside resort. They have an orange train (can you imagine the excitement???!!!!), tug boats, swings etc. It is really a cute set up and the boys LOVE it!

A visit to the Bemus Point Fire Department. Tommy was in Heaven!
Having fun in Bemus Point in front of the Lenhart Hotel. I think the bearded lady was all our favorite :)

EARLY morning snuggles.

We went on lots of rides, played a lot of games and rode the train as many times as we wanted at Midway Park.

And we walked the entire trail through Panama Rocks. Trent took the boys through all the caves and in all the nooks and crannies of the huge rock formations. This place is so beautiful and amazing. I can't wait until the kids are older and we can really explore all the caves and fun hideaway sites this place has to offer. It was a great hike, but I literally thought I might die by the very end. I am pretty sure that not many other ladies have attempted to hike the rocks at 8 months pregnant....anything for my guys!

Arent' these fellas just the cutest?!
Charlie loves to go into this tree each time we are at the Rocks. I am not sure if he and his little side kick will fit in it next year.

Once again the Lake provided us with a great week full of fun and adventure. We make so many great family memories there and love to visit all of our family and friends when we are in town.