February 27, 2013

2/26/13

 
We had such a fun family day yesterday. Jarrod always takes the day off work on the kids' actual birthday (Note to self: talk to Jarrod about upping his PTO because of the rate we have children.) There's something about the actual DAY that I like to stay special. Throughout the day together, we'll say, "Well, Noah, we were just holding you for the first time EVER, RIGHT NOW 11 years ago...2:22pm." 
"Noah, this is when our first visitors arrived."
It makes the day a special one.
 
There's something about your firstborn. The one that made you a mama, that's nostalgic. It's hard too, for sure. As Noah gets older, we have to deal with things we've never had to deal with as parents.  "How hard is too hard." "How passive is too passive." "How do we teach the hard stuff??" "At what age do we let him do what??"
 
He's our guinea pig baby...bless his heart. I've been saying it for a long time.
 


He's outgrowing parties a little bit. He had a big camping weekend last weekend and he has a big church retreat this weekend, so it was hard to fit a party in anyway, but we had a super fun filled day regardless.

It starts with donuts, as always.  I eat one and then immediately feel sick. Then I need protein bad and can't function til I get it.  Ugh.

The boys both had enrichment classes, so we brought treats for Noah to give his little class buddies and Jarrod and Soph and I got to spend some time alone.
 
We surprised Noah by picking him up his favorite lunch (Jimmy Johns) and whisking him away to the bowling alley after that...



I have to just say about bowling alleys...ewwwww! I know they're fun and all that. There's a sort of American pastime about it that makes for happy memories and great photo ops, but just ewwww.  I have fully embraced the fact that I have a germ issue. It's true. I am willing to admit it.  But sticking your fingers into a ball numerous times and the bathrooms and all the video games and and and....
 
Ok. I'm better. I survived. The kids always have fun. It's just hard for me.
 
Moving on....
 



 
After bowling, I thought the kids would nearly explode if we didn't open gifts that VERY moment, so we did. The little ones each bought Noah a gift with their own money. I love that. They were so excited to give him their gifts. And he was so thankful. Sweet little birthday moments...
 
Since there was really no party or theme I asked Noah if I could just make him a cake to my liking. As long as it was chocolate he didn't care much.  The little ones and I found these great plastic dinosaurs in the $$ section at Target.  The cake was simple; just a double layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  We went all out and made him a cake from scratch.  Only the very best.  I usually use the recipe on the back of the Hershey's baking cocoa container. So good!
 
We added Jelly Bellies that looked "rockish," one of the dinosaurs and some parsley for greenery.  I was happy with it. 
 
I've also been wanting to add a little green to my house with some terrariums and I thought this was a perfect time.  Love what greenery adds to your home. Instant spring.




 
Jarrod and I are amazing at how fast time flies. They always warn you it will...and they are right.  It does. Poor Noah has to endure our downfalls as parents as we learn how to do it, but he's so forgiving. We love what a little man he's become. He's protective and gentle with the little ones.  He's been strange about Spring Chick...like he's apprehensive...not really excited or nonchalant.  I secretly can't wait to see him hold his new little brother or sister for the first time.  I know his heart well and I know it will be one instant puddle of mush. 
 
Last night as I was tucking them in, he said..."I can't believe I'll be 12 next year!" Twelve was a big deal for me too when I was little...I remember that. I told him we couldn't talk about that for a while...it was too hard on Mama.  He said it would be ok because the baby would make it easier because I'd still have a really little one.  It might. But it's never easy.
 
Oh, a mother's heart...
 

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February 22, 2013

Hope is the thing with feathers...

This week has been a total mind game if there's ever been one. Cray-to-the-zay! I went into this week with some big prayers and we're leaving it with some answers and a whole lotta movin' and shakin' on God's part.  And speaking of God...I decided yesterday that He has a big ol' flare for the dramatics.  I'd have to tell you every detail of this week to let you know exactly what I mean...but sometimes I just feel like there are easy answers and then there's just some big dramatic answers and I think He really digs those kind. I think he likes to keep us guessing...on our toes.  He's not boring.  Not in the slightest. I know we've got some answers coming and although I would prefer the hand-delivered envelope kind that come right when I want them, I think He's got a thrill-seeker version in mind.  Just my opinion...
 
I've been holding onto hope like crazy.  Hope always points to the future...always looks ahead. I feel like all the recent goings on in our life have somewhat overshadowed that fact that in less than 8 weeks we'll have a sweet little blessing to kiss and rock and hold. I hate that I haven't been able to just completely relish in this whole experience. How do you shove the stress aside and focus on what you don't want to miss?? That is my question for you.
 
For us, we made art. I used a poem that has been marinating in my brain for days and we used it to create some beautiful drawings.  We are loving these new soft pastels. They are messy, but they create these beautiful impressionist-like drawings that the kids are so proud of. They blend beautifully.  We got these at Micheal's and they're cheapy sets, but they seem to work fine.
 
 
We read about Emily Dickinson and her life. She was a different person...kind of a recluse and a hermit.  But because of how she wrote, I sense that she wanted to be adventurous and see the world more.  Either way, her writing is lovely and it speaks to me.
 
We read her poem about "hope is a thing with feathers." We are working on memorizing it.  Their drawings were simple feathers and we used real feathers to get inspiration from.  Each child's is very unique and different....
 
Noah's

 
Jack's 

 
Sophia's

 
 
 
My emotional pregnant heart went to sleep on Tuesday night feeling overwhelmed about life...and I woke up to a whole group of sweet friends that I love, practically sitting in my living room waiting to shower me with goodness and love.  My girl, Becky, gathered together a group of my favorite blog girls for a day of "virtual showering"...if you missed it, go read HERE and read all the posts.  It seriously made my day...it made me know that God does really see those hurts we have and reaches out to heal them.  It was just what I needed when I needed it. 
 
We are still waiting, but I'm choosing to look forward today...know that there's a plan for me and I have big hopes for the future, whatever it might hold.
 
xo,
{alicia}
 
 




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February 20, 2013

Meal Planning and All Around Organization

Sometimes I feel really organized and sometimes I don't. About a month ago, I was feeling more on the "don't" side and every now and again, even those of us organized folks need to recheck and rework things.  December was a blur and January started that way too. I needed a refocus badly.  The other thing is I keep thinking about the fact that in 8 short weeks I'm going to have a baby in the house and all sense of organization is going to fly out the window, so I need to do what I can now.
 
One thing I've gotten really lazy on is daily chores.  I do laundry almost everyday...just one load, but other things can fall really behind.  My sweet friend told me about these lists.  They are perfect for what I need right now because sometimes we feel really self motivated and sometimes we don't.  Motivated Mama has several down loadable list options: full week on one page, full week on half page, with our without Bible reading assignments.  It's great.  Everyday there are different chores; clean the inside and outside of the microwave, wipe down washer and dryer, clip kids' fingernails.  They are short, easy, doable lists and it's all stuff we don't do often enough.  My house is feeling clean now and I like that.  I just do what the list says...sometimes we all need to be bossed :)
 
 
The other thing that needed attention was my planner. I love my planner and I need it like I need air..pretty much. I've talked a lot about it here and here.  I have revamped it a little bit. But it still includes most of what it did before. The menu section needed some help and I really needed to get better about planning meals.  So behind my "menu" section in my planner, I have my Meal Planning sheets.  (You can download it by clicking on the link.)  And behind the menu sheets, I have my grocery list.  Every Friday, I've been trying my darnedest to sit down and make a menu...opposed to serving cereal and toast 3 nights a week...ahem.


 
 
The hard thing for me about planning menus is I have 25 awesome cookbooks, a binder full of pinterest and magazine recipes I love, and two books full of family and friend recipes I also love.  So when I plan that's a lot of stuff I have to gather.  I set up this system a few years ago with a couple girlfriends and it really works well for me, I'd just gotten away from it. So I'm bringing it back.
 
It takes a little prep to begin with, but when you're done it's great.  So I gathered up all my favorite cookbooks, recipes, and clippings.  I used index cards and each card has the ingredients for our favorite meals and where I can find it...what book to look in and the page.  If I find a new recipe I love, I add another card to the pack.  

 
So when I menu plan, I just take my pack of cards and sit down with my menu planning sheet.  Each card tells exactly what I need to buy.  Then when I get ready to cook, I get that cookbook out and make a super amazing dinner...at least I think so ;) 

 
On my March List, I'm hoping to make a big stock of freezer crockpot meals before Spring Chick comes.  My friend Kirsten has posted a whole bunch of really yummy looking recipes that are calling my name. Check out her post here.
 
Are you feeling organized? I'm trying...at least I know my sink is clean and what I'm having for dinner. That's something ;)
 


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February 18, 2013

St. Valentine Would Not Approve

I wonder if sometimes we put way too much pressure on making things something they weren't intended to be. Like Valentine's Day. Do you think Saint Valentine intended self-induced diabetes and sugar headaches and roller skating parties with The Dancing Queen on repeat? I can't be certain, but I can't think that's what he would have liked for his day.  Some tea perhaps...or a nice exchange of cards.

My Valentine's day was cra- to the -zay.  I still might not be recovered. In fact, I know I'm not because I have since sworn an oath of NO SUGAR for at least two weeks and that's just crazy in itself.

The day started out ok...the usual.  School, spelling words, "a" says aaa, the Great Depression, and all that goodness. Then I realized it was 30 minutes til we had to be out the door and I hadn't showered.  Twenty-four wildly frosted cupcakes with heart-shaped sprinkles, a mad dash shower, and a leotard later we were out the door.  A whirl through McDonalds and a spin through the bank for cash later we were at ballet...for 45 minutes and then we were back in the car on the way to our annual homeschool Valentine party at the roller rink. 



I felt like I was half zombie watching all the activities. It could have had something to do with the chocolate here and the Tootsie pop there all day that had put me in a sugared stupor.  I watched 150 little kids..some struggling and some not so struggling to stay on their feet in roller skates (mine tended to lean towards the strugglers) while they jammed to Get Down On It and shoved frosted sugar cookie after frosted sugar cookie into their little faces.  The ones not doing those activities were intently shoving Valentines into homeade boxes and bags so we could take them home and eat more candy.



4:00 and the grand finale. Sad for some and ok for me...time for home at last.  Til I'm on the interstate driving home and my gas light pops on.  Ooops. I always put that off.  I made it without any huge issue...I do have AAA just in case, but the Toyota Prius in front of me going 45mpr getting 80 miles to the gallon was none too helpful...but we made it home all the same.



Home to a package from Granny with more candy and a dinner to prepare and my darling sprite saying the f-word repeatedly as she tried to find words to rhyme with 'duck.'  She's in the rhyming/song writing phase...it's marvelous. Now sweetie, we shouldn't make up words because sometimes you are saying words that aren't nice...on repeat as well.

6:00.  Jarrod is (finally) home. I give him his gift of a box of chocolates and a lovey movie.  He gives me my gift of a box of chocolates and a lovey movie.  We laugh about that over our spaghetti and meatball dinner followed by Lady and the Tramp and a gurney to bed. 

I woke up tired and groggy and never wanting to see a granule of sugar ever again.  Ever. I started a sugar fast yesterday and intend on fasting for several weeks. Yesterday I had berries for dessert...it was nice.  Thank God for weekends and naps and berries to recoup from all these previous festivities.

Hope your new week is even better than last.  Here's to Mondays and fresh new weeks...

xo,
{alicia}

February 15, 2013

Currently...

I have always loved these posts, but I've never done one before. I'm all about random. This is just sort of organized randomness. Ya ready??

Currently...what's up with me right now....

Loving Downton Abbey.  Duh.

and this photo....


and soft pastels.


and this quote....(found HERE)

Reading Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory and rereading The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles...great homeschooling help book! Oh, and War Horse to the kids for school just finished actually.  Oh ya, and Anne of Green Gables to the kids for fun.

Waiting for phone calls............

Excited about Spring Chick....what is he?!?!!?! she?!?!?! Less than NINE weeks to go!!

Trying to think of a name for ^^^^

Working on getting organized, purging, and sorting...yes, some might call it nesting.

Enjoying school. Especially art and history.


...and getting super FUN baby gifts in the mail!!!



Using Eos chapstick. A lot.  And organic milk. We just made the switch. Feels a little ouchie on the wallet though...geesh!!

Wearing skinny jeans...maternity versions...how crazy is that?! I've never worn skinny jeans before.


Planning everything....and nothing all at once...oh limbo, how I dislike you!

Singing THIS...all. the. time. 



Needing answers.

Learning to wait for them. ^^^

Listening to Sleeping Beauty in the background.  I voted for Tangled. Apparently her vote counts double??

Wishing dinner was made already...

Dreaming of Spring, terrariums, planting things, green things, Easter...




IT'S FRIDAY!!! So yay!!! Whatcha up to this weekend?? I think I will nap...like for two days. I'm tired.

xo,
{alicia}

February 13, 2013

Blood and Guts and Apologia Science


Sometimes I feel like we've accomplished so little in school and it takes some looking back to remind myself that yes, we've done a lot! Science is a hard subject for me to teach and it can feel like such a chore so it's easy to scrimp in the science area.  This year though, I feel like we've learned a lot so far.  We're using Apologia's Human Anatomy & Physiology.  I tried using Apologia's Botany last year, but it overwhelmed me and I stopped using it.  But this year, a wise homeschool mama friend advised me that I don't have to cover ever page of every chapter...it was fine to pick and choose. So I have and it's worked great.
 
Here's what we've covered so far this year...
 
I've taken the 14 chapters in the book, picked the 8 that I most wanted to cover and we're spending about a month on each of those chapters.  First we covered DNA and cells.  DNA was a little over their (and my) heads, but that's ok.  If they see a DNA strand, they'll know what it is and that works for me.  We covered cells more in depth and learned all the different parts and what the parts do.
 
We made several models...

 
They thought they'd be good to eat.  They weren't. So grosssss! But great visual aids.  Each candy represented a different part of the cells and the Jello was the cytoplasm that held it all together.

 
We also made mini pizzas and the toppings were the parts of the cell. This was really fun...and was actually good to eat :)


 
There are SO many great resources out there, but sometimes I find myself getting stretched too thin if I try to use it all.  So we've basically been using the Apologia text, a few extra books here and there, and The Body Book.  We are making their models and adding them to our "body" after every system we study. This has been a GREAT visual aid for us! 

 
 
I've choses a few extra books and this Magic School Bus movie to add on for extra reinforcement.  I am figuring out if I add too much I don't get to any of it.
 
Our lastest unit is on Blood and the Cardiovascular System.  These are two different chapters in the book and I would normally take a month for each, but we're trying to get as much done before April as we can.  We usually do Science two days a week and History two days a week.
 
We've been reading about blood this week. I found some great printable on pinterest.  You can check out my Science Board for some of my resources. We talked about the parts of your blood and made a model with corn syrup, jelly beans, sprinkles, and a mint! So fun!!

 
There's almost always more than one way to use a good resource, like Apologia Science.  I think if I would have tried to cover all 14 chapters in a year I would have been overwhelmed again, but breaking it up into units has been perfect for us.  I think we'll give botany another go next year.  Apologia also offers science kits for each of their books so you can have all the supplies ready on hand. I think we'll do that too.
 
So that's science lately...blood and guts. Mmmmm, time for lunch yet?? :)


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February 11, 2013

Life Lessons and Downton Abbey

Are you watching this show? Have you jumped on the Downton bandwagon yet? I'm going to tell you why everyone needs to watch this show...
 
It's good. That's why.  It's real good. The characters are absolutely amazing. Amahhhzing. Even the ones that you're supposed to hate are so good.
 
The scenery is beautiful. I mean, look at this....


 
In some ways it reminds me of Asheville's very own Biltmore Estate. It's beautiful. Who doesn't want to escape to tea and crumpets in a castle for a few hours?
 
My favorite character of all is Granny...Dowager Countess Violet Crawley. I. Love. Her.  When I'm 75 I want to be just like her.  She's witty, she's sharp, she's hilarious, she's influential. I love Granny. I'm tempted to name my Spring Chick Violet just for Granny.

 
Season 3 has already started, but we just finished up Season 2 yesterday.  Now I'm not about to spoil anything, but let's just say Season 2 had a happy ending. It was long awaited, it was beautiful.  I teared up, I'm not gonna lie.  I did one of those parallel things with my life and Mary Crawley's...I connect with this girl.  She's like me...or I'm like her, one or the other.
 
She's blunt, she's slightly misunderstood, she longs for a good full life, and doesn't want all her emotions on her sleeve.  I get her.



 
I'm waiting, like Mary was waiting. I had a hard day yesterday. I can't tell you how ready I am for the next chapter of our lives, how ready I am for my own nest again, my own place.  I've been waiting and praying for answers and for us to finally feel settled. Sometimes I am just so tired, you know? I know though, that sometimes we just have to wait...like Mary, till the details work themselves out, before we get what we want. The waiting in the middle though is what drives us crazy, makes us expect the worse, and over analyze every choice we've ever made.  But the middle is what we look back on and see that that's where the lessons were.  I'm waiting for that time when I can look back.  Until then, I'm still waiting for the details to sort out.  But if Mary was a real person and I could ask her, I'm sure she wouldn't take back the lessons she learned in the waiting. 
 
So if you need me, I'll be sipping tea, keeping composed, my shoulders square...just like Lady Mary and waiting for the best to come....
 

 
 

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