Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Day at the Beach!!!!

Thanks to wonderful friends who were vacationing in Ocean City, NJ this week, we enjoyed a great day at the beach! I was a little nervous about taking Sarah and Daniel (mostly Daniel!) by myself, but what a wonderful day it turned out to be!!! Daniel is a beach freak! He LOVES the the point of ROLLING in the sand! He was just SO happy to be there! He played so well and listened (mostly!). We only had one melt down and that was as a result of him needing to apologize for throwing sand on someone. Daniel has a difficult time apologizing and it is something we are working on. He eventually did and all was well again.

Sarah had a blast as well. Her friend Morgan was there and they enjoyed splashing in the waves and playing in the sand. We were actually on the beach for about FIVE HOURS! If any of you know me you know I am not a huge fan of the beach, but we were just having so much fun, the time flew by! We headed back to the house and had a great dinner and then went to the boardwalk to enjoy some rides and frozen custard from Kohr's.
Melissa (Daniel's "Lissa" his favorite babysitter!) found a tiny crab
and was helping Daniel hold it! It was so cute!

The only downfall to the entire trip was that it was incredibly foggy! (The pictures aren't bad - it's the fog making them fuzzy!) When we walked to the beach you couldn't even see the water from the boards! I don't even know how the lifeguards were able to see anyone in the water! It tried to clear up around 2:30 pm, but then MORE fog rolled in! The boardwalk at night was a bit eerie as the fog was so thick you couldn't see any of the buildings or even the Ferris wheel! It was the weirdest weather I have ever witnessed at the beach. Despite the weather, it was a grand day! I think it was good it was foggy, as none of us got any sunburn! Sarah did tan, though! That girl was made for the beach! She is tickled pink with her tan coloring! Now we are all anxious for our beach vacation - but we still have to wait five and a half weeks!
We didn't arrive into Philly until about 11:00 pm, when I realized my CVS Extra Care Bucks expired at MIDNIGHT!!!! I had made my order, but never got there! So, guess where we went at 11:00 pm?!?! Thankfully they had everything I wanted and was in and out in no time. I would have been really upset to lose almost $60 in ECB's! God is so good in helping me to keep my brain straight and for giving us the blessing of the beach!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's up?

Nothing! It has been a relatively boring week. I so LOVE boring! Andy took Matt and Sarah up to his parents house Wednesday night as Joy and Jen (two preteen leaders) were taking some of the preteen girls camping. What a night! It poured down rain and even hailed! But they had fun! Matt and Sarah were friends with most of the girls that went so they had a blast. Sarah even slept out in the cabin with them. So, it was Daniel and I last night. We went to IKEA to return some of the stuff that I didn't need to organize my schoolroom. However, I did find what I originally had wanted to use instead of the bars. I purchased it, but am unsure of whether or not it will be better. Andy and I will have to talk it over tomorrow. If it goes up I'll post a picture.

This is the first weekend in six weeks that we have NOTHING planned! It is amazing! We are so excited! I don't know what we'll do, but we are just glad to not have any commitments! I may go out and do a bit more shopping for Reading Rocks. I still have to find a bunch of backpacks to purchase, but stores aren't putting them on sale as early as last year. I am hoping they will next week. AS of today, Target still had theirs for $15, which doesn't sound expensive, but we try to get them for $10 or under. Wal Mart had several for $10, but I picked up all the different styles. This may be a year where variety takes a back seat to cost. We'll see. All the other supplies have been coming in steadily thanks to all my friends and family. Andy's extended family, Aunt Martha, Aunt Doris, Aunt Louise, have been such an incredible help! Pat and Rachel Folk have also been incredible supporters to this cause! And the people of Bethany E.C Church have poured out their love for us with dozens of supplies! My mom mother-in-law, and Carisa's mom have even gotten in on the act, scouting stores for deals and sending them up our way at their expense! I surely could never do this huge task without all the help of my family and friends! THANK YOU!!!!! I can't wait to take pictures of all we have and the happy faces of all the kids that receive the backpacks!

As a mom I have to brag about my girl. This is the child I thought would NEVER READ!!!!! She detested letters, words, reading in general! Then all of a sudden the light went on and now she is an avid reader. Well, before Reading Rocks started today she was in first place with points at 529 points! WOW!!!! She is so excited! It has motivated her to try and reach 600 before the last Reading Rocks next Thursday! I am just so thankful she reads!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To the doctor!

Today on my to do list was to take Daniel to the doctor for his three-year-old check-up! This in one kid I don't mind taking to the doctor. He is so easy and LOVES going to the doctor. We walked into the doctor's office and he proceeded to talk to EVERYONE! The nurses and doctor thought he was quite a riot! The doctor asked if I was sure he was three as he talks more like a 4 1/2 year-old! I am so glad he talks well as he was born with a tied tongue. That means the frenulum (that little piece of skin under the tongue) is attached to the tip of the tongue making the tongue heart shaped and hard to move freely. He was given a clean bill of health, though the doctor said he was short! He measured in the 35% for height! The doctor said basketball may be his favorite sport, but he won't have the height for it! Oh well! He has a good shot, I guess we'll just have practice that! He measured in at three feet tall and 33 pounds.

Reading Rocks was today and we had a good number attend. There were several new kids in the chapter book section. I inventoried all the supplies that we have so far. I realized today that I only have two more weeks to get things together. I guess Daniel and I will be hitting BIG LOTS and WalMart tomorrow night to get backpacks. (Matt and Sarah will be camping up at Andy's parents with another group Andy is taking up) I have almost everything else. Then it's packing, packing, packing. I put the supplies in plastic bags as I have found it easier to hand each kid a plastic bag after they pick out a backpack. It will be nice when this is done. I am getting my fill of shopping! That's a good thing as it will keep me out of stores for a long while and saving money!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ta Da! It's Done!

Well, it took MUCH longer than I thought it would, but it is FINALLY DONE! The schoolroom is clean and ready to welcome eager learners into it's cozy haven (Yeah, right!). I have to say that I am really proud of how it turned out. I dug deep into the nooks and crannies of every corner and got rid of things that we never use anymore or relocated items that really didn't need to be in the schoolroom. I also went to IKEA and made a few organizational purchases to help keep things AWAY from the three-year-old! If you didn't see the schoolroom before its makeover you can see pictures here. Here is what it looks like now:

Two of my favorite things that I have added to the schoolroom are these bars from IKEA. I do not know why I never thought of them before as we have them in the kids rooms to hold books and magazines. In the schoolroom they will hold pencils, markers, stapler, scissors, etc. All the things I wish my three-year-old NOT to get into! The little basket will hold the current computer program the kids will be allowed to use for that week. They tend to get "stuck" with one or two programs. This will hopefully give them some variety and challenge. This shelf below will be used to house my teachers manuals for the year. The red basket will not be staying there. It is FULL of markers and I have to go through and weed out those that are no longer useful. Then it will be placed HIGH up on a shelf to deter the three-year-old from making pretty designs on my wall!
The two file boxes pictured below are a dream I hope to make work this year. There is one for each child in which I have to create a portfolio. It is my goal to have the kids put their graded work into the proper file and then go through it at the end of the week, picking their favorite pieces and placing them into their portfolio binders. This way I will have the portfolios done by the end of the year and won't be spending HOURS finding things to put in. Plus it will make the portfolio truly theirs as a keepsake from that year. I am hoping to really tackle this and make it work! I'll keep you updated! Please help me by holding me accountable! There it is! I have some other pictures to take and put up, mostly of the shelves below the counter, but I ran out of time tonight and the pictures taken without sunlight look dull! I'll post some more things later in the week! Now to tackle the basement!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

He's Home

Tonight, while at pre-teens, I received a phone call that I needed to come and pick Matt up from camp. The counselors and all the staff had exhausted their list of things to do to calm a homesick child. It had gotten to the point where his counselors, Ben and Brook, were spending too much time with one child and neglecting the rest of the cabin. Therefore, I had to go and get him. I am, to say the least, a bit frustrated. Matt is the kind of kid that gets something in his head and obsesses over it until there is an outcome - good or bad. He had decided before going that he didn't want to be there. We asked him to think positively and to make the choice to have a good time, but he chose to dwell on the fact that he wasn't home. Please pray. Pray that we would handle this the way God would want us to. Pray that we will take the necessary steps to help Matt work through this horrible anxiety he is dealing with. Pray for Sarah as she is still at camp and wasn't told her brother was gone until after we left. Pray for me, that I would be compassionate and not angry towards Matt and we would all be taught the lessons we need to learn through all this.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Camp Update

I just received a phone call from camp - Matt was terribly homesick and needed to talk with us. Andy and I had discussed prior to his going how we were going to handle this situation. We stood firm and told Matt he was to stay at camp and listen to what God had to say to his heart. I know that that seems heartless, but if we let him come home he will NEVER venture out to do anything again. We also believe that he needs to learn that we sometime have to do HARD things - like go away from home when we don't want to. Yes, this is hard for him, but I believe he will grow from this experience. Please pray that he will put his complete trust in God for this week and that he will think positively. Pray for his consolers, Brook and Ben. They will need it!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Daniel!

Yes, I am in wonder that my baby is now THREE! Where did the time go?July 12, 2005 - Birth Day!

July 12, 2006 - First Birthday!

July 12, 2007 - Second Birthday!

July 13, 2008 - Three Years Old! (Day after birthday!)

We are amazed at this child God has blessed us with! He keeps us all on our toes and gives us much laughter! We thank God for this incredible addition!


When I was a kid I went to Camp Sankanac every summer from the time I was seven. I LOVED camp and looked forward to spending a week away from home in the country! It was THE highlight of my summer! When I was older I was able to go for two weeks and eventually the whole month as a worker! I made such great friends and learned so much about my Heavenly Father - it truly molded me into who I am today.When I had kids I thought this same feeling would be imitated by my own children. Since they were young I have talked about all the great aspects of camp. Well, we dropped both Matt and Sarah off at Camp Men-o-lan yesterday afternoon. Sarah has been dying to go since she was seven and was thrilled beyond belief to FINALLY be able to go to a week long camp. Matt, on the other hand, not so much. This is his third year going to week long camp and probably his last. He is a kid that hates change and hates being away from home. But we think this is a good opportunity for him to learn much about his Heavenly Father and to, more importantly, learn to listen to what God is trying to speak to his heart in the setting of His creation. Please pray for Matt and Sarah as they are away. Pray that they would learn much and grow in their relationship with Christ. Pray that Matt would think on the positive and not dwell on the fact he isn't home. If you would like to write them a short note you can find the camp's address on their website, just hit the highlighted words above to be connected to their website. They would LOVE to get mail!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My School Room.....

When we bought our house, I loved everything about it - the big kitchen, three bedrooms, one and a half baths, etc. The only thing I didn't like (well not the ONLY thing!) was a door in the back bedroom that led to the roof of the kitchen. I always hated that door and when we put Sarah in that room after she was born I worried non-stop about someone coming in and snatching her. I begged Andy to take the door down and put in a window when he renovated her room (before her arrival), but he had a dream of an enclosed porch. So, the door stayed.

A few years ago, Andy came to me with the idea of adding a room off of Sarah's bedroom and making it into a schoolroom. Can you believe I actually fought the idea?!?!?! I don't know what I was thinking! I don't know what I would do without the schoolroom! We love doing school in it as it is so bright and cheery. Currently, however, it is a disaster area! It should have a sign that says "Hard Hat Area Only"! As a result of a challenge that another blog I enjoy reading is giving, Brenda's Keeping it Real gathering, I am going to let you see this disaster and show you how utterly unorganized I am right now!

I am beyond embarrassed! I finished portfolios in the beginning of June and just left the mess! You can see in the photos that I kind of just dropped everything and left! And to think I am starting school in three weeks! CRAZY! The two older kids are at camp next week and I am planning on spending a good number of hours de-cluttering and organizing the schoolroom for next year, so please come back and see the new and improved schoolroom next week!

One of the reasons my schoolroom is such a mess is because of a certain almost three year-old!!! Do you see in the picture below the small bucket of pearler beads in the center? Do you see that they are all over the floor? Sometime last week he stole into the room, opened the bucket, and proceeded to THROW THEM EVERYWHERE!!!!!! They are everywhere! The black you see next to the yellow star and white heart is his attempt at art with a black crayon. It is currently his dark crayon and bright bead phase in his artistic expression! I need to get a better lock on the door to prevent him from getting into the room when no one is there to supervise!

Summer Stage and Peter Pan!

Since Matt and Josh were four Patsy and I have been taking our boys (and the others as they have grown) to Upper Darby Performing Arts Center for their Summer Stage program. The first show we went to was Peter Pan. We loved it and we were "hooked" (ha!ha!) on Summer Stage. This year we are only able to attend one show (this is a repeat year as we have seen most of the others presented this summer) and that was today! We went and saw Peter Pan! It was so much better than I remembered! I think as their stage productions have grown, so have their skills! This year they flew in the air!!!!! It was great! Matt and Sarah enjoyed it so much! We went with Patsy and her kids, Josh and Rachel and with Carisa and her son Paxton. The kids in the production were AMAZING! I am always surprised by their skills and abilities. It really is a first rate production and the tickets are so reasonable, $8 a seat! Well worth it for the live performance. What I also enjoy about Summer Stage is that the actors go outside so that everyone can meet them, get their autographs, and get pictures! They are great! Can you tell I love this activity?

Staples Update

Well, the sales at Staples ended Wednesday and since Daniel was with Daddy camping up at the Schultz farm, I drug Matt and Sarah with me to two more Staples. I have to say that of all the Staples I have visited, our Staples on Roosevelt Blvd. is the friendliest and most well stocked of them all! Since it was the last day of the sale they didn't seem to mind how many times you went through the line. They still had oodles of folders and pencils. All three of us went through three times!!! My final count for this weeks sale was: 420 folders, 84 packs of pencils and 60 bottles of Purell! And my grand total spent was........$6.06!!! I just find that amazing! And I still have all my army shopping. I know many have made several trips. It looks like we will be well set with folders and pencils. God is so good!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Science in the Summer!

Every year since Matt and Sarah have entered second grade they have been attending Science in the Summer. It is a great program and each year they look at a different study of science. This year was Chemistry and both kids were beyond excited! Depending on the library that it is held at it can be a 4 day/one-hour session class, 2 day two-hour session class, or a 1 day/four-hour session class. Today it was a 1 day program so they were gone from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm (they gave them an hour for lunch and library time!). They did all kinds of experiments, some we have done at home and others were new to them. They came home with "gack", something made with baby powder, borax solution, glue and water. It is pretty neat stuff - it's like silly putty but a bit slimy. A highlight was that Mr. D returned as their teacher. Matt has had him at least three times and really enjoys his style of teaching. Matt was disappointed this year, however, because this is the last year he is eligible to participate as a student. He can, however, volunteer to be a helper and earn community service hours. He is excited about that!

Andy and Daniel are spending the night at his parents house as Jen and Trish, two of our co-workers, took 12 girls camping. They left around 1 p.m. so I had a couple hours to work on the house with NOBODY around! It was amazing! After I picked up Matt and Sarah we headed out guessed it, STAPLES!!! We also headed off to WalMart as I had heard that they had one-subject spiral notebooks for .05 ! But ours had them for .10 :-(. That's still a great price, so I picked up 50 to get us started. $5.35 isn't too shabby a price for 50 notebooks! I also got a sneak peek at some of the backpacks for the year! OH! Some are just soooooo cute! I talked with Carisa and we are upping the price to $10 per backpack. I guess I always had $10 per backpack, but I found some great deals last year for under $10. With the money that we are saving from Staples doing their deals we can spend a little more on the backpacks themselves. I am going to start picking some of them up tomorrow. Just in case you are interested in donating a backpack, we purchase ones without characters - it just makes life easier for us!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Let the shopping begin!!!

Many of you know that we have a program called Reading Rocks! For those of you who don't know Reading Rocks is our summer reading program in which the kids that attend can earn points for reading and answering comprehension questions. It is a program that we hope will help kids retain their reading skills throughout the summer. At the end of the program we have a huge party to celebrate their accomplishments and give each child a backpack full of school supplies. Last year, as a favor to Carisa, I started shopping for the Reading Rocks Party while she went on vacation. While doing the shopping I discovered that I LOVED shopping for the supplies and finding the best deals! I think I managed to put together over 50 backpacks for about $15 a piece! One of the reasons I was able to put together the supplies so cheaply was because of Staples one cent deals! Last year they ran incredible deals for different things like folders, rulers, pencils, etc.! I also had a small army of helpers (Thanks Pat, Aunt Louise, Mom Schultz and others!) raiding their local Staples for the deals.

Well, the deals have returned and I have once again signed up for the responsibility of putting the school supplies together!!! Yesterday, on my way to and from visiting my friend Donna we hit three Staples! This week they have two pocket folders, 8 ct. Dixon pencils, and 0.5 oz Purell Hand Sanitizer all on sale for a penny each! You are able to get 10 folders, 2 packs of pencils, and 2 Purells costing a total of 15 cents! I had all the kids, including Daniel for a few, go through the line with their fourteen items! Look at all we got for $3.00!!!!We have 200 folders, 40 packs of pencils (320 pencils!), and 40 Purell! It was so much fun! Matt and Sarah are totally into it! We are planning on hitting some more Staples tomorrow as the deals are only good through Wednesday. I can't wait to see what all I'll get next week!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weekend Recap

Whew! This weekend was a whirlwind of activity! It seemed as if we just went from one thing to the next to the next! Friday, July 4th, we went up to Andy's parent for the day. Even though it was damp and rainy, the kids had a great time running around. It was just us, Andy's brother, and his parents for a quiet indoor picnic - but the food was great! Corn on the cob!!! I LOVE it! Since it had drizzled all day we decided to head home and not stay for fireworks. We went home by way of the Schuylkill and while listening to KYW they kept announcing that the fireworks at the Art Museum would begin "any minute". We have always wanted to see the fireworks at the Art Museum so we decided to try it. We found a great parking spot and walked to the Central Library/ Franklin Institute area where we proceeded to wait for about an hour. So much for "any minute"! We did enjoy seeing them and Daniel LOVED them. He cried when he found out they were done! We headed back to the car and thought we were in good shape to get home, but it took us 1 1/2 hours to get home! We decided we would never do that again! If we would ever go again we would have to take the train!

Saturday I took Sarah and her friend Eliza to see "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl". They loved it! It was a really cute movie. It was so nice to relax and not worry about anything inappropriate showing up! A true "G" movie. We came home and Andy picked Sarah up to head off to the huge "Block Party" our church hosts every year. It was a huge success! I headed up at about 4 p.m. after Daniel woke up from his nap. There were so many faces many of us didn't recognize! That's a good thing! I left around 6 p.m. - just as the rain started coming down. It only lasted a few minutes, but Daniel was getting tired. Andy, Matt and Sarah came home around 8:30 p.m. after helping to clean up and get Frankford Avenue opened again. Needless to say, church was PACKED the next day. Please pray that those that made commitments will get the follow-up that they need and continue to come to church and Bible studies.

Sunday was a sweet time of rest! After church, we took the boys to get their haircut! Daniel's is SO short! I will post a picture as soon as I find the camera (Andy has taken it to take some ministry shots). Matt hates his haircut - too short for him. I think it will be good for camp next week. Easy to spy any ticks running around there! After we came home from the haircuts I took a nap with Daniel! I love Sunday afternoon naps! I haven't taken one in ever so long! It felt so good! It really helped get me ready for the week!

I finally was able to visit my friend Donna today! We have been trying to get together since the end of May! It was so great to see her and talk with her about what we have planned for our coming school year. We both plan to start August 1, 2008. Our kids can commiserate together! I usually start the school year with a field trip and then slowly bring the school work out the following week. I am starting to get excited about getting back into a routine and teaching again. My kids are NOT looking forward to starting up in four weeks. Pray for all of us to get on the same page and have positive attitudes for this coming school year!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Look at me!!!

Yes, he is wearing underwear! He managed to stay dry the entire morning yesterday! The afternoon was a bit rough, however! But we are officially potty-training! He will be 3 in 10 days and both Matt and Sarah were mostly trained at that point. I know each kid is different, but he totally knows what he is doing and can do it if he chooses - he just mostly chooses not to! He is really funny, though as he announces to everyone that he is potty-training! He really likes his Cars underwear. Mater is his favorite! He was very sad when he had an accident and though Mater would be mad at him. I assured Mater would forgive him and would give him another chance! I am really hoping by May 2009 he will be completely trained (night and day) as we are planning a big trip with my mom and I would so love not to drag Pull-Ups with us!

The Curry's were moving into their new house today and I offered to watch their kids. They arrived around 1:00 pm and stayed the afternoon. The kids had a great time playing in their rooms, with the Wii and then in the pool! They are all fish. Daniel was so desperate to get in the "big pool"! He kept assuring me he was big and could go in with the big kids, but I made him wait until Daddy got home to watch him. "Sweet relief" when Daddy finally did arrive! See his big smile?!?! He is really getting good about swimming around in his tube and not depending on Daddy to carry/ hold him.

Reading Rocks was great yesterday! We had 22 kids out for the first day! We will get new kids each week as they remember and friends start bringing one another. The first day is always crazy as we try to figure out where kids need to start, but it went incredibly smooth! I think Carisa and Trish have done an amazing job building this program up and making it totally applicable to the kids in the neighborhood as well as challenging to staff kids who benefit from a better education (most of them are homeschooled) than Philly generally provides. It is fun to see the kids progressing in just the short time (5 weeks) they are with us. Please pray that this program would really help the kids in the neighborhood build the necessary reading skills to progress in their education. Carisa is also in the midst of developing a more personalized tutoring program to help some of our more "at risk" kids. These are kids we know could do better if someone were to just help them along in the process. Please pray that we would find the right kids and the right tutors for the program to start in the fall.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My last month....

....of summer vacation! Where on earth did June go? It really flew! Of course the kids were sick for almost two weeks, but hopefully that will be the end of it for the year! July is looking as busy, if not busier, than June! I know August will be here in the blink of an eye and school will be starting up again! Please pray that I make the best use of my time in the next five weeks and get many of the projects I have on my list of things to do completed.

Reading Rocks starts today! I LOVE this program! I am so glad we have something to encourage the kids to better their reading skills throughout the summer. Carisa and Trish have allowed me to become part of the team and I am so excited! The program is Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-2:30 pm. I will be helping out on Tuesdays. Andy will be coming home during that time as that is when Daniel takes his nap. The program has been totally revamped as many of the kids have grown-up and are now beyond the picture book stage. The program was getting too easy and they were racking up the points without really having to work for them. This year they are going to have to work - but I think the goals are totally obtainable - if they work! We have brought in chapter books and are requiring the older kids (at least most of the staff kids!) to read them. Matt and Sarah are excited about the new changes - what I have told them - they don't know everything yet! I hope it will be encouraging to Matt as he struggles with reading fast, and is constantly reminded of that by a friend who reads a lot faster. Pray that he will view this as a way to meet his own reading goals and not be discouraged and focus on those around him.

A note about Daniel - he has taken to calling Sarah "Honey"! I think this is hysterical! Andy and I occasionally call her honey and he has picked up on that. He is just too funny!