Friday, August 28, 2009

all about things that fly

This week was our first "official" week of pre-school homeschool learning that includes some guidelines for reference. Little J has had so much fun with this week's theme of Aviation & Astronomy!

Each activity we've done has incorporated a good bit of learning for our little sponge, and he doesn't even realize it because of all the fun playing involved.
Crafts we completed this week were two airplanes and a rocket (above) both crafts were very simple and they included several areas of learning while we were making them and playing with them. Big & Small concept, long and short concept, alphabet reinforcement, learning about things that fly, counting and grouping, shapes, and colors.
When we made the rocket above, we used a papertowel roll and two toilet paper rolls and covered them with white paper then used tape to attach them together and added a cone for the tip. Little J opted to put his fun puffy stickers on the rocket instead of color it, and since it's his creation - that's just fine :-) it's his fish rocket! We also have a space helment to make this weekend since we started our school week on Tuesday with big E's schedule.

We also read That's not my Plane several times this week and this is a touchy-feely board book that focuses on sense & sensation and aviation. Can't wait until next week to see how things go, this is a fun adventure for us all! Still working on our 'school resource room' and really hoping to join in with a local preschool homeschool co-op for a weekly activity in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

patience is a virtue...

.... and thankfully one that I have. {{most of the time}}

I arrive to pick up the boy at 330-340ish, last bell rings at 345pm. THIS is 1/2 of the traffic for carpool, what you can't see is that there's just as much behind my car, and up there at the school, there is a maze of traffic that twists and turns in 5 loops to pick up kids....

using my 200mm zoom, I can not even tell where my kid is, because I'm still not close enough... and it makes me wish I had a bigger lens for fun moments like this....

finally I find him, and this is a photo zoomed in at 200mm... so I'm still pretty darn far away from him!!

The package (a.k.a. the boy, or Big E) is finally sitting in the car TWENTY minutes after the bell has rang, and we finally made our way to the front of the line.... I suppose these carpool moms/dads must have arrived at 3pm!!!! EEK!! Well, that's my new every afternoon commute and carpool routine.... thank goodness for books, music, and oh yeah, UberTwitter, Facebook BBerry apps and great friends who humor me along the way because they're doing the same thing!!
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my hand hurts... wahhhhh

argh!!! the forms seemed endless today!! This is just a few of the forms we had to fill out tonight... and several included opting to join this or that club....
  1. School behavior policy agreement. (which explained In School Suspension, OSS, etc)
  2. Gym class Tee-shirt order order form - to be ordered by Friday ($10.00 cash only)
  3. Gym bag order form ($5.00 for solid color, $10.00 for both school colors)
  4. Team Spirit school tee's/pullovers/jackets/long-sleeve tee's order form (varied from $19.00-$30.00) - to be ordered before mid-September
  5. Sports Booster Club membership form - $35.00 annual fee - due this week if you wish to join
  6. Fine Arts Booster Club membership form - $25.00 annual fee - due this week if you wish to join
  7. PTSA membership and directory form - $4.50 per person membership, additional $4.00 for directory.
  8. Yearbook order form (to be ordered BEFORE 08.31.09) $18.00 each
  9. Read & Sign Student/Teacher handbook and rules - wow, some stuff in there is interesting!
  10. Student Insurance (accidental insurance) - depending on coverage choice, $10.00-$72.00
  11. Emergency Contact form
  12. Orchestra form - Use of School Instruments / Rules
  13. Permission to video/record your child. (or opt out)
  14. Medical info form (allergies, doctors name, dentists name, etc)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

skool daze for little J

We're going with a play and learn pre-school approach for little J this school year. He's 3.5 and is really eager to learn! I love the Montessori style of teaching, and hope to adapt alot of that in his learning activities this school year. In general, we do alot of learn by play with everyday activities. The general plan for this pre-school homeschool year is to incorporate some sit down time several times through the day for specific activities. Nothing rigid or scheduled - just fun and learning!! Lots of reading, music, art, outdoor activities, and library visits are in our future this school year.

We have a project in my dining room and hope to have it finished by next weekend - it will include removing half of the furniture in there, leaving only the dining table and chairs and adding a new book case system to house the supplies we'll be using for arts and crafts along with the books and music we'll incorporate with some of the creative play activities we hope to include with play and learn time.

I have found a couple of toddler groups locally for homeschoolers, and hope to connect with one close by for scheduled and routine play and learn gatherings either weekly or bi-weekly. We're talking about Romp n Roll for a gym class again, and we've also discussed The Little Gym which is close to big E's school. That all depends on pricing (some of those places are just crazy expensive!!), given our current economic situation at home...

We started today with A is for Airplane, and he had fun helping me fold and tape together handmade airplanes then decorate them with stickers. We made two, one big airplane and one little airplane. On the big airplane I wrote an "A" and on the small airplane I wrote an "a" and we just played and talked about the big airplane and the big A, v/s the small one and the tiny "a". Then we had some fun throwing them in the house!

I have to get better organized with activities, since I'm totally green at this... Below are a couple of pictures from today's activity.

big E's school days

Big E started middle school today, and he was so proud to walk through those doors this morning! We all rode together to take him, and he was super excited. Little J was a little sad to see him go. I had a pit in my stomach watching him walk in this gigantic building and head off to class....

We're so on the fence about what to do with big E for education, we're really trying to balance out what fits his learning needs best. I've found a forum for homeschool co-op groups, and am talking with a few moms on there who's children have some of the same kind of "learning" with their children. It's uncharted territory for me, and I'm not 100% confident in how things would go, but we'll never know until we try... Out of respect to big E, as I wrote HERE, we're going with a green light with public school for this quarter to see how things go. WE are the ones who put him IN public school, and for now (last year and entering this year) HE loves it. So, we're kindof in a strange situation...

I wonder if there are any families out there with one kid in public and one in private, or one at homeschool and one not - because of similar circumstances?? Probably not, we're a freak show of our own in many respects... ARGH!! What to do??? We've both been going OVER AND OVER this for just under 2 years!!! The summer proved very productive with some book studies, lots of reading and reviews, and math concept review with big E...

Can't wait to see how things went today!!! Will post more later....

pardon my creative french....

......but you see this {note, not my actual vehicle, just one exactly like it...):

Well - it's finally: - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Thursday of last week, big E and I hopped in the car for a drive out to the Middle School he will attend. While we've tossed the idea around of homeschooling him, we've kept it open for discussion and he really seems interested in experiencing middle school so we're going to give it a go for now. We both agree that in order to give him everything he needs with education, and life skills, we would need to find a really great homeschool co-op group - so we're still researching homeschool groups and how best to deal with that once we come to a complete decision on how this middle school atmosphere works out...with having had him in public school for going on 7 years - we're trying to figure out how 'unlearning' would go??? Oh man it's tough!! Mainly because he WANTS to be with his peers now!! We do plan to homeschool little J for at least pre-K and Kindergarten and see how things go from there. But, we're trying to respect big E's wishes but yesterday when we pulled into the parking lot at the school I'll admit - I almost wanted to vomit. (too much info?? sorry)

The school is 2 stories high, and looks to be larger then the highschool I attended. Immediately I had a pit in my stomach, thinking of our young man walking the halls of this gigantic place with other kids. I'm not sure why I think it's such a scary place, but society today is NOT what it was when I was a tweenager... it looked like a bit of a fashion show at times as we walked the halls - even among the parents.
His classroom is nice, and small. The program he is in is one that creates a smaller group atmosphere for him, so he'll be in classes most of the day with 6-12 kids only, and parts of the day with much larger groups. He seems really excited, and his teachers seemed like genuinely nice people who are eager to educate our big E. Selfishly I dont like the idea of him being there!! Why am I changing so much these days? Drawing my mind closer to how society really does impress it's ways upon our children, and how in the 'old days' the village was not at all like society today is. Values changed along the way, and what was important then, is not at all important now. Why do two police officers need to be assigned to almost all schools in the district? I'm not a hippie flyin my freak flag over here, but what's wrong with this picture??? Soda machines when you walk in the front door, police cars, and 'lock down' drills for the potential threat of school shootings or worse.

Maybe I need a reality dose, and maybe I am a hippie - who knows. I enjoy relaxed days, where my kids learn by playing or observing or reading. Summer has been filled with learning, more then I thought and big J and I both have started to see that just a few little things we did this summer have stuck with both of our boys for learning.... oh - I'm so lost. I've been battling this for 2 years in my head. What's kept us from stopping public schooling for our oldest is that he suddenly began to WANT to go to school (whereas he used to cry when we went and when he came home) and he began to ENJOY the learning program that is set up for his individual needs. We're giving it 1 semester and then we're going to discuss it with him again...

Lesson I'm learning = An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life. ~Author Unknown

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Small Talk Six - what I'm gonna miss...

Today’s Small Talk Six topic is “6 things you’ll miss (or won’t miss) about summer.”
You can answer this with a list of 6 words, 6 phrases, 6 sentences, 6 paragraphs, 6 photos, 6 videos, etc ...

  1. I'm going to miss little feet splashing in the water on the slip n slide.
  2. I'll miss all the beautiful wildflowers.
  3. I'll miss the boys having water fights and sprinkler fun.
  4. mmmm.... I'll miss the cherries.
  5. I'll miss the beach... even though we can visit it anytime, it's the most fun in the summer for us!
  6. I'll miss butterflys that seem to be EVERYWHERE right now!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ship Wreck

We visited Discovery Place this week, it was sort of a last ditch effort to sneak in a family outing during the week before school starts back. We were all a little bummed that the rain forest and the aquarium was closed for renovations, but there was a reduced rate on their admission fee to the museum because of that. SO... we went up and the boys enjoyed some kapla block building time together and little J enjoyed the toddler play area while big E wondered around all of the fun activities they have for older kids.
We went in to the Ship Wreck exhibit, but little J was a little scared of the dark and spooky look everything had to it. They really did have it set up like it neat! Dimmed lights, some soft spooky sounding music playing, and even a woman dressed as a pirate to greet you. We saw items such as old perfume bottles, plates, gold bars, coins, the ships porthole, and lots more - all from the SS Republic from the Civil War-era. It was very interesting to see the treasures that were from the mid-1800's!!

Lesson learned = alot can be learned from history, both in history in general, and our own personal history...for example, something devastating is bound to happen to us all throughout our life, but we can find treasures if we dig really deep during those times...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I got emotionally distracted earlier this week, it's been happening alot lately. I've realized that I've become a sensitive person. Something about the past 3 years of my life has worn me down to realize how very very short this life is, and how simple life should be for what it's worth - too often I sit and grieve about the complexities. During the time I was crying and being sad, I was also cooking a homemade goody - I left out a key ingredient in one of our favorites... Strawberry Bread. I left out the sugar!!! HA!! It doesn't require alot of sugar, but would taste like crap without it all together. So, it went in the garbage disposal and I waved goodbye to it and told everyone I was sorry there'd be no strawberry bread!!

Lesson learned = nothing negative in this life should distract or discourage me so much that I forget about the sweetness in my life...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

she smiles

This past weekend we went over to my dad's to hang out with my brothers daughter. She was visiting for the weekend only and I was so glad to hang out for a bit with her!
I took this picture right before she busted out laughing. For some reason, this picture just captures who Haleigh is for me. One beautiful and bubbly young lady.
Late at night, several times a week, she text messages me:
"I miss daddy so much - I love you Aunt S"
....yet, through everything. She still smiles....

Monday, August 17, 2009

time with grampy

A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

more from the beach trip...

We opted to stay at a resort this beach trip, and WOW did the kids love it!!! Thank goodness, it was overcast most of our visit, so it was just right for some pool splashin fun!!!
Above... little J waiting anxiously for his big brother to come down the gigantic slide...
Below: Big E diggin the slide bigtime!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

soulemama lovin

I have been a reader at for around 2 years now, and I'm just in awe of her craftiness!! I've snatched a few of her ideas up for our home here and there, such as the nature table, and some cardboard creations for the kiddo's. Then when her first book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections
published, I was on board instantly and was SO excited when it arrived in my mailbox!!! That book has been such a handy guide to easy creative ideas that honestly, I would have never even thought of!
So.... when I saw that she had a new book in the making, I signed up for pre-order and this week my book order arrived!! I was surprised when our mail (which was held for 3 days) arrived and this was in the mix!! Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures looks like SO much fun!!! I am eager to tackle Brandie's Book and the letter satchels!
I can not wait to dive in and try some of these ideas! I've never been really into sewing, but have always wanted to give it a shot. I did sew some as a child with my mom, and a little here and there by hand as an adult. Never anything to write home about though. I love fabrics, and patterns, and this book has all the right stuff for someone like me who's green at it!!
**LLYWD list = learn to sew.... I'm gonna dive in and learn, maybe it'll turn out terrible but who knows??? You only live once :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

un-fried chicken...but still crispy and yummy!

A super late post for Fitness Friday - about eating 'fit'. Un-fried chicken??!!?? And it was yummy too!!

We made this crispy chicken recently and plan to make it part of our regular menu choices.... really yummy and low calorie too! Almost fried chicken, and pretty much guilt free!! Yum! We opt out of the 'tarter' and the coleslaw, but the recipe I found gave it as an option, so I thought I'd add it here for anyone interested.

Serves 4

Calories per serving, chicken with coleslaw: 519
Calories per serving, tartar sauce: 27 (optional - we didn't make this)
1 serving of chicken = 3 pieces of chicken

For the chicken:

2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 pound chicken tenders (about 12)
1 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed to medium crumbs (I added 1/3 cup of bread crumbs with this)
1 tsp of Mrs. Dash original (added this myself, I have a thing for Mrs. Dash)
Nonstick cooking spray

For the tartar sauce

1/2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon drained nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon chopped sweet gherkin
1 tablespoon water

For the coleslaw

1 1/2 (10-ounce) bags cabbage slaw mix
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
2 tablespoons thin-sliced red onion
1 tablespoon low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
2–3 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. For the chicken: In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, spices and buttermilk. Add the chicken and turn in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

3. For the coleslaw: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage slaw mix, bell pepper, onion and shredded herbs. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.

4. For the tartar sauce: Whisk together all of the ingredients in a separate small bowl.

5. Place the cornflake crumbs on a plate (add the bread crumbs here, and the Mrs. Dash). Drain the chicken tenders. Pick up a chicken tender with one hand, and turn it in the cornflake coating, using the other hand to gently press additional coating onto the sides. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue on in this way to coat all of the chicken pieces, arranging them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees until firm, about 15 minutes.

6. To serve, divide the coleslaw among 4 bowls. Arrange 3 chicken tenders, standing up with wide ends at the bottom and overlapping slightly, at one side of each mound. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Garnish bowls with chopped cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

we snuck away...

For a much needed trip here....

And we're enjoying our view.... from the 20th floor at the resort in a cozy suite.

We needed this!!
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Monday, August 10, 2009

down by the water...

Above - Big E finding the right rock to skip across the water....
Below - Little J giving his best "cross" face.... (angry) He loves to pretend he's cross!
There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.
~Walt Streightiff

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small Talk Six - 6 Lazy things...

Today’s topic at for Small Talk Six at momdot is “6 things people do that you think are beyond lazy.” You can answer this with a list of 6 words, 6 phrases, 6 sentences, 6 paragraphs, 6 photos, 6 videos, etc . .

I'll admit, I'm guilty of one or two of these!!
  1. Vacuuming over a large piece of trash over and over and over and checking to see what's wrong with the vacuum instead of just picking up the trash!!

  2. Throwing socks with holes into the hamper over and over (and letting them get washed) instead of just putting them in the trash.

  3. Turning the dryer on over and over to re-fluff the clothes that are in it, instead of just getting them out and hanging them up (I'm SO guilty of this at times!!).

  4. Putting what looks to be 1 ounce of milk back into the fridge in the container, instead of tossing it out and putting the container in the recycle bin... who can use that amount of milk???

  5. Not flushing a public restroom toilet. Seriously LAZY and GROSS! I've seen enough pee and poo between my two kids - not interested in some lazy grown up's .... especially at a restaurant. EWW.

  6. People who leave their garbage in the seat at the movie theatre. OH that annoys me!!! You bought it, you ate it - you toss it out!! Lazy and inconsiderate. :-(

Friday, August 7, 2009

LLYWD - one step at a time

A new path...
My mom bought me a book for my birthday, it's filled with quotations, interviews with some random people, statements, and biblical references about how you should let go, and love, accept, and forgive and forget. It couldn't have come at a more appropriate time in my life. Lately, I'm sitting around wondering "what is THAT about???" or "WHY and what GIVES??" about many things in this crazy life of ours. I have to LET GO, let go of the 'what if's' about this life and what's gone on in it. I LET IT GO. Laying my burdens down. I want to live like I am dying (because in all reality - we ALL are, someday)... One of my favorite excerpts about life from the book I received: Live: With passion and purpose, and mission and meaning and with a little wild abandon. With no forgiveness withheld and no anger held within. I just want to live life with my husband, love him and my family, and be happy while watching these two boys of ours grow into men.

I'm going to try to journal my "bucket list". But it's not really a huge deal bucket list, so I'm calling my list the LLYWD list. (live like you were dying) It's really nothing spectacular or over the top (yet!) - but it's mine ;).

One thing on my list is to take a vacation on a COMPLETE WHIM. And we're going next week ;-). I sat here just now, talked to the hubs, and we decided, and we booked it. Dangit - our family deserves a pick me up. Recently, this whole household has felt a downer and it's not fair, so we're gonna reward ourselves with a quick 3 day getaway before school starts back. I've always been a planner, when it comes to things like vacation - but hey, you only live once, right?? Baby steps turned into a giant leap.

letting go...

Looking in another direction
Each time something drastic occurs, we take a new path, my husband and I and our two kids. You can't do anything about what this life hands you by way of tragic events, but you CAN do something about how it affects you. I'm challenging myself, to live like I am dying. To forget about all of the 'wrong' that has been done to me, or my idea of the 'wrong', to realize and embrace differences and accept people for WHO THEY ARE in my life, to FORGIVE & FORGET, FOR LIFE, FOR LOVE, FOREVER. As Charlotte Bronte once said "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." I have LET IT GO!! There's no point in holding on to anything that feels "wrong" inside, right??

So I started my own little 'bucket list' after watching two people in my life die in the past 3 years. One KNEW she was dying and showed me what love, forgiveness, and absolute grace looked like while each day stepping closer to her death. She had a hand in planning her funeral, and made it her last wish that during HER funeral, those that were closest to her felt like SHE was there with them. The other had NO IDEA that his day was August 6, 2007. He knew that life was precious, he had a few scares the year before. He did not take one person in his life for granted, he did not let the sun go down on his feelings. At his funeral, the song 'live like you were dying' was played and it's taken me 2 years to really be able to listen to the words. The words have hit me like a ton of bricks this week, as if to say "hey you idiot, get with it, you're not getting any younger by the day!!" My upbringing was that I should not take any day for granted, and that the sun should not go down on our feelings - and some days, and some situations that's easier said then done. I think the saying goes "Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That's why it's called the Present"..... it's time to live like we're dying.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2 years

Today - 2 years ago.... we lost my brother.
A father, a son, a brother, a uncle, a nephew - a friend...and now, an angel in heaven.
That photo was taken just 4 weeks before little J was born and we were all at my house for Christmas celebration together. We were all cracking up because mom insisted on having a picture of use 3 in front of a tree or fireplace EVERY year. The ironic thing is my dad does the same at his house. Now, as a mom - I do it too!!
And in some strange, sad turn of events - I absolutely understand why...

You can't control the length of your life. Just the depth.

on day at a time...

Thinking back
I made an appointment with my regular physician not too long ago and sat down with her for a 1 hour consult. I wondered, do I need medical intervention to help me cope with my feelings of anxiety, and at times feelings of general depression? I haven't felt like 'me' in a very long time. During the last 4 years of our lives, there's been some pretty big stuff. ALL of which has, in its own way, impressed upon me how very fragile this life is and can be...

She asked "what has occurred to make you FEEL different about your life".... I replied, "In 2004 my father had quadruple bypass surgery... also, in 2004 we moved into a new house, a brand new adventure, our first mortgage, and sometime that same year I was told I have Lupus symptoms - likely flared up due to stress. Then in January of 2005 my husband had a sudden heart attack which resulted in triple bypass surgery, 3-4 months later we found out we were pregnant and the pregnancy was high risk due to various circumstances determined by my ob/gyn, but things went very smoothly until delivery... that was a bit of a chaotic situation, but everyone turned out ok in the end. During that pregnancy, my stepmother was diagnosed with a rapid and terminal cancer. She died when my son was 10 months old in 2006. And, then in August of 2007, my brother died. Since then, my husband's been through 2 layoffs with his job, and it sometimes seems like we're paddling upstream." But we've been BLESSED too, little J was born healthy, and after surgery big J is healthy, my dad is healthy, and lots of other things are pure blessings in our lives.

HOLY CRAP she looked at me like I had four heads. Even though I'm POSITIVE there are people with much more then that in their lives, I think she was poorly prepared for what I had to say just by her expression and tears. She offered me her hugs, and her tears, and her tissues. She told me that she was very suprised that I hadn't had serious anxiety, and that some people even have PTSD after some of these events. She gave me a medication to take for 3 months only. I took it for 4 weeks, and ended up feeling even more void then I felt before, so she recommended I come off of it completely and begin deep breathing exercises and try to manage my stress and anxiety on my own as long as it didn't become depression I'd be ok - in her professional opinion. My opinion?? HA. I think I'm a nutjob most of the time....

So - One day at a time....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thanks ....

Just wanted to say thanks to all of the phone calls,twitter tweets (Julie - YES my phone exploded), facebook comments, emails, and cards for my birthday - you guys are the bestest!
I managed to get flowers 2 times today!!
Below is a photo of one of my favorite blooms in one of the bouquets!
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved;
loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves.

~Victor Hugo