Wednesday, May 28, 2008

YES! We are alive!

Yes, we are still around! Life has been absolutely CRAZY the past two weeks! It all started when we left for Massachusetts Saturday, May 17th. Andy was asked to speak at a church, North New Salem Congregational Church, up there and we decided to make it into a family vacation. We traveled up to MA, a six hour drive, and the kids did great! I was really concerned with how Daniel would manage the long drive, but he was incredible! We really didn't hear a peep from him! I have to say that the blessing of a car DVD player REALLY helped! That and Backyardigans! Though he also chose to watch "Touille" (pronounced too-ee) or Ratatouille, much to Matt and Sarah's relief!

Andy did an incredible job speaking at the church and the people were wonderful! I LOVE New England and their easy going ways! After church we went to a dear friend of Andy's mom, Brenda Buck. What a sweet woman of God! I can so see why Lois loves her! They have very similar likes - including gardening. We spent the afternoon there and the lids loved her! Matt and Sarah even stayed with her while Andy and I checked out a wonderful store called Country Mischief. Like I said, I love New England and this store was the epitome of New England! After saying good-bye around 5:00 PM we headed over to Old Sturbridge Village. Monday morning we headed over to the village. It was so cold! But at least the rain held off until later in the afternoon. We had a great time exploring what life was like in the 1830's. The kids had fun dipping candles and petting lambs! I loved seeing the one room school house and talking with the "teacher". Did you know that their school terms were May-August and then December-March? I thought maybe we should adopt the same schedule - the kids didn't think to highly of that!
Being put to work by the local farmers! They were so much fun to listen to!
Daniel found these blocks in one of the Sturbridge houses and decided he needed to play! He spent more than 15 minutes with them!
After spending the day, we headed over to our hotel in West Yarmouth, which is about 40 minutes out of Plymouth, MA. We also met Andy's parents in Plymouth Tuesday morning. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Plimoth Plantation. Both days were chilly, but at least Wednesday turned out to be beautiful and sunny. It was fun to compare life in the 1620's to life in the 1830's! I love talking with the women that portray people from their time. They always give you a little insight as to what life for them may have been like. I have to say that in both time periods woman had their way of getting what they wanted - either by refusing to cook in the 1830's or not cooking what the husband liked in the 1620's! Either way, my poor husband would have starved being the stubborn red-head I am and not knowing how to do half the cooking they did back then! I guess I would have learned more back then, though!

Plimoth Plantation Armory. Daniel LOVED the cannons - he thought they were jungle gyms!

Matt and Sarah in front of Plymouth Rock! It was closed for renovations! Can you believe it!?!?

Wednesday afternoon we headed over to Mystic, CT. We went to downtown Mystic where we were told there was a boardwalk with stores to look through. Well, there was one store and the boardwalk wasn't like we were used to. It is a cute little town, though. We even saw the drawbridge go up to allow a boat to go through. The hotel we stayed at had a great pool, so the kids were able to enjoy themselves a bit before heading off to bed.

On our last day of vacation the weather proved to be more dreadful than the other days. It was cold, cloudy, and had the threat of rain. But we headed over to the Mystic Aquarium and loved every minute! Lois' birthday had been on Monday and Andy and I decided to treat her to a Buluga Whale Experience as a combined birthday/ Mother's Day gift. As long as I can remember Lois has LOVED buluga whales. I can remember back in '90, when Andy was in Israel, John and Lois took me on a trip for Fall Break and we went to the Mystic Aquarium so we could see the buluga whales. Well, she had an incredible time being able to touch and talk with Naku - her buluga whale! She was the only one scheduled for an experience so she was able to do everything and not have to share! We were so happy for her! The kids loved watching her and told me when I am her age they'll treat me to an experience! They are so funny!

While at the aquarium we were also able to feed the Birds of the Outback. There were about 350 birds in a large cage and we were handed popsicle sticks with bird feed glued to them. The birds swarmed all around! At one point Lois had them hanging off her arms, looking in her sleeves, and even on her head! It was great! Then the torential rains came! At one point the lights even went out in the aquarium area! It was a huge storm, but the clouds finally moved and we enjoyed the rest of the day. We left around 5:30 PM and after a stop or two finally got home around 11:00 PM. It was a busy week, but we had a great time!

Friday and Saturday were spent trying to get two portfolio's together. This was my first year doing two - and I hadn't anticipated the number of hours it would take to get them together. I was up until 5:00 AM Saturday morning and 4:00 AM Sunday morning. Sunday, late afternoon, we headed to my mom's house to spend a couple of hours before heading up to Andy's parents. Monday was the semi-annual (depending on the weather!) Memorial Day picnic. I was able to spend some time with my good friend Kelly, who I haven't seen in months! It was so good to talk with her. Our girls, Sarah and Morgan, were born a day apart! I often wished I lived closer to her as Sarah and Morgan play so well together and really enjoy each other's company. I am hoping we can get together a couple of times throughout the summer.

After staying up until 5:00 AM Tuesday morning to put finishing touches on the portfolio's, the kids evaluations were at 3:00 PM on Tuesday. I now have 6th and 4th graders living in my house! How did they get so big so fast? They did well with their evaluations and I am glad it's DONE! Now I only have to turn them into their proper schools and I can start working on next year!

So where are we today? We are currently at Great Wolf Lodge in Pocono, PA! My mom treated the kids (and us!) to a night as an end of the school year gift! The kids spent 5 hours sliding, jumping and swimming in the water. It is a fantastic place! And the room is great! We are staying in a Kid Cabin Suite and it is wonderful! All the kids have their own beds - so no having to share! I love Daniel to death, but he has the boniest knees! We are planning on spending the day here tomorrow and heading home sometime late in the afternoon. Then we will be home from all our travels! This has been a whirlwind month and though I have had a great time I will be glad to be home! I think the kids will be, too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I REALLY DO like my kids!

We have been done school for one week! And in that one week I have discovered that I REALLY DO like my kids! I know that sounds funny, but we have been having a lot of fun. For the past few nights the older two, Andy and I have been playing Mario Kart on the Wii. It has been a riot. Andy and I usually lose, but that's okay! Today I took the kids - all three - out to lunch. It was so great! Daniel was such a big boy and sat in a regular chair and ate his lunch so nicely! He continues to amaze me at how grown-up he is getting! We even bought big boy underwear today! CARS!!! He can't wait to wear them. We are going to do potty training as soon as we get back from all our running around this month! It is really nice to be done with school!

Last weekend Andy and I attended the CHAP conference, while Andy's parents watched all three kids! They are amazing! (THANK YOU!) The conference was pretty good. Andy went to Chris Hogan's seminars and was really encouraged. He really opened our eyes to some things that have to change in our family. Some of the changes will be tough for all of us, but will be well worth it in the end! I was very thankful to attend the conference as I purchased everything I need for next year! Yes, I guess we will be doing this again! I am very excited about the reading program I discovered for Matt. When I went to the conference I had NO IDEA what I was going to use for him next year. I prayed the entire time I was there for God to direct me to the right program. He lead me to Drawn to the Heart of Reading. It looks so amazing! It is exactly what I wanted and am hoping that Matthew will enjoy as well. In a few weeks when I get my objectives together and the portfolio completed for this year I will post everything I intend to use for Matt, Sarah, AND Daniel! Yup, we are doing preschool next year! Nothing stressful - just some scheduled reading, coloring, art, etc! It is going to be WILD year!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tot School

For a while now, my friend Carisa has been posting Tot School posts on her homeschool blog. I am always amazed at all that she does with her two year old. Though I try to read to Daniel on a regular basis and do some other small fun things with him I have to admit my time often gets eaten up by the older two and their schooling. I am determined to make an effort in changing things this summer so that in the fall he will be more in the schedule of school.

The past few days I have been making the time after our morning walk "Tot School" time. We usually read books or put a puzzle together. Today we pulled out a great activity that I recommend to all parents or grandparents of children under 3 that love to paint! I hate painting - I hate the mess it makes and all the clean-up. But this is great! It is called "Water Wow! Doodle Book". We got ours at KB Toys for $5.99 - so don't get it at amazon. I just have the link there to show you what it looks like. (I can't believe they are selling it for $25!) He sat and painted each page carefully and then we went through some of the questions for each page. The best thing about this book is that the color disappears after a while (about an hour) and you can reuse it!!! I love it! Like I said, I highly recommend this activity book!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Safe in God's Hands

Today, Andy let me have the "day off" to go shopping with my mom at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. I was gone for about 12 hours! I had a great time catching up with my mom and buying the last few things the kids needed for their summer garb. When I came home, I was quickly surrounded by three eager kids to tell me the events of the day. All I can say is that God is SO GOOD.

Last night we rented a movie from RedBox. It is located in the ShopRite on Aramingo Avenue - my usual grocery store. You have it for one night for $1.00 plus tax. I asked Andy to return the movie when he ran over to take the kids to Home Depot for their wood shop class held the first Saturday of each month. They are located right next to each other. He and the kids ran into the store to return the movie - one hour later the bank in the store was held up by two men with an automatic rifle. Later on a police officer was killed by those same gunmen/ robbers not far from the library we regularly visit. Matt's very words were "God always protects us!" And He does!

It is only through the prayers of others that we are safe in God's hands. With the summer coming on strong, the violence and anger will begin to escalate. It is around this time of year kids cease attending school and parents begin to lose track of their kids whereabouts. Please pray that the ministry God has given to us will provide the hope that the families in our neighborhood need. Please pray for our, and the other members of our team, safety throughout the summer months. Yes, sometimes it's scary living here and we would love to return home, but we know we will never be safer than in the center of God's will.

Please also pray for my mom. We had heard about the officer being killed, but not about the ShopRite incident. She already hates the fact we live here. If she figures out that that is the grocery store at which I regularly shop - and mostly at night - she will be beside herself with worry. Pray that she would trust God for His protective hand over our family.