Saturday, January 31, 2009

Magic Kingdom

We're home! Our vacation was wonderful! Disney World truly is the happiest place on earth. Will told me that numerous times... "Mom, this is the best place in the whole wide world!" He sees everything as a superlative contained in the whole wide world.

Florida is a fabulous place to visit in January. We traded our coats and mittens for shorts and swimming. We did miss DC's first snowfall of the season, but we're fine with that. Grin.

My camera was giving me problems. I have a big black spot on many of my pictures and I can't find the source of it. Here are a few that are (thankfully) spot-less...
Our first night in Orlando - Downtown Disney.
Day 1 : Magic Kingdom

This was Hannah and Will's favorite character sighting... a very believable Mary Poppins. Actually, I think she may be the real Mary Poppins.

Grandpa loved the Mad Tea Party. Hannah took this one and said... "It's really cute. You should put it on the blog."
Peter's getting tired of lines.
After a rest at the hotel, we headed back for the parade. (This was my favorite thing about Disney when I was a kid.) Here's one very happy five year old.
A few moments later.Day 2 : Magic Kingdom

Grandpa liked the speedway, too. See the spot... I want editing software. Almost time to go.Thanks Mom and Dad!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guess where we're going...

Before the sun is up tomorrow, we'll load up still pajamaed kids, stop at Starbucks - 2 Grande Americanos a must, and beat morning traffic out of here. My parents will greet us 13 hours later at their house in Florida. And early next week, the whole crew of us will spend two days at Disney. The kids first time there. My husband's second. My... 18th or so... but first time since high school.

Just checked the weather... Sunny, mid-70's. Hmm... I may not come back. Grin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Day

It's an exciting day around here. The big event in our home... Peter is THREE today!

DC is buzzing with the enthusiasm of a gazillion people. Roads and bridges and schools and all other regular life is closed for the day. We'll be staying in, where it's warm.

Celebrating Peter and watching History.

And tonight, we'll pass on the Balls. For us it'll be take-out pizza and birthday cake with good friends. : )
Opening gifts this morning.

Hannah sewed this stuffed dog especially for Peter. So sweet.

We had a little party for him yesterday.

I can't believe my youngest is 3!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baby Fix

Hannah has talked a lot recently about wanting a baby in the house. She got her fill this weekend.

Our dear, dear friends are going to be separated for six months (his work). We took their two little boys for the weekend, giving them some much needed time together.

Hannah is a natural nurturer. While her brothers don't always want to be cared for, this little guy happily received all kinds of lovin'.

And these two... well, they were cracking us up all weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It's cold. January has sent us inside.

And we are learning to be thankful for these sweet days.

Our homeschool has been filled with bright winter sun pouring in the windows, hot chocolate breaks, the constant hum of space heaters, lots of reading on the couch wrapped in blankets, wrestling-jumping jacks-running in circles, listening to Mozart - January's composer study, Hannah on the piano, more crafts, more puzzles, more games.

A few scenes from our week...

Here is Hannah waiting for her piano lesson to begin. This is after she dusted the piano, swept the floor around it, and had me light a good smelling candle before her teacher arrived (all her own ideas). And yes, Mom, that is the Little Red Riding Hood skirt you made me for Halloween 30 years ago.

I'm glad someone has time to read the paper.
Peter makes us laugh all the time. And he knows he's funny.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Booklist

I'm sure some will be added and maybe taken away, but for now these are few books I hope to read in 2009...

Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment
James R. Gaines

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
Richard Louv

The Little French Girl
Anne Douglas Sedgwick

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver

Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids
Scott Turnansky and Joanne Miller

Jane Austen

Charlotte Mason Series

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Dave Ramsey

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
David Guterson

A Little History of the World
E. H. Gombrich

Marilynne Robinson

Update on The Skirt

Sorry to not get back to you all. : ) Thanks for all the great advice and encouraging comments!

After being dropped off from Ballet, Hannah walked in the door and immediately asked if she could get the skirt, stating, "There were only 2 other girls without the skirt." Whew... latecomers.

Then she turned it into a modesty issue. "If I had the skirt, you wouldn't be able to see my underwear." She's right... the cuts don't match up perfectly. Now this is a new issue. I don't want my seven year-old worrying about her underwear showing during class.

She hasn't mentioned the skirt since that night, but Thursday is coming quickly.

My decision...
I am going to buy her the skirt, explaining it is a gift from me and I used my Christmas money to get it for her.

I thought about having her work for the money or part of it, but there are a few problems with that. $26 dollars would mean weeks and weeks of work... which she doesn't have for this particular item. When she is paid for extra jobs, it's with small amounts... not $5 per job, more like $1 or less, so $26 seems a little hard to climb when there is a time constraint. Also, there are just not that many indoor (it's stinkin' cold) jobs around here other than her chores. So, a gift it will be.

This has spurred good conversations about money with Hannah. Up until now, the only income she has had comes from gifts/grandparents, the tooth fairy, and odd jobs. We hadn't started an allowance... no good reason, it just hadn't happened. So, we will begin giving her a weekly allowance. My plan is to have 3 envelopes - SPEND, SAVE (with the item/event saving for listed on the envelope), and GIVE (maybe I will grab some church offering envelopes for her). She's excited about getting started this week.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Daily Days

I recently reworked our schedule to accommodate new activities. Here's a look at a day around here.

We do school Monday-Thursday with Field Trips on many Fridays.


Family Huddle (with Dad, devotion with songs, prayer and scripture memory).

Mon / Tues / Wed: I read to Peter, snuggle, play... "fill his bucket"
Hannah: independent work notebook (Singapore Math worksheets, Explode the Code, Mind Benders, Spelling Workout - tabs divide the work over the four days)
Will: independent work clipboard (Handwriting practice, fun Math worksheets)
Thursday: We all clean bathrooms, dust, vacuum. : )

Math with Hannah.
Will and Peter play together.

Hannah finishes up her Math sheet for the day.
I go over the Calendar, Math with Will (and Peter).

First Language Lessons and Poetry Memorization with Hannah.
Will and Peter play together... hopefully.

snack, "recess" - run around outside, hide and seek inside...

Phonics and Handwriting with Will.
Hannah reads to Peter... or puzzles, building, etc...

Depending on the day... Science, Geography, or Music with Hannah and Will (and Peter).

Hannah - piano practice, while I prepare lunch.

Lunch. Clean-up.

Depending on the day... Story of the World with Hannah or Art with Will and Hannah.
Peter down for a nap.

Quiet Time. Hannah in her room - 30 minutes of independent reading, free time. Will on my bed listening to books on CD, legos. Peter napping. I email, return calls, fold laundry...

Neighborhood play, crafts, piano lessons, ballet, basketball.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Skirt

I love to give my children good things. They don't normally beg for things, but when they do I try not to burden them too much with, "That's too expensive," and try saying things like, "If you really want it, we will save for it." Usually, the want passes.

Not this skirt.

Hannah started a ballet class this afternoon at a studio near our house. Children's activities around here can be unbelievably expensive, so we try to limit the amount and make good choices. I picked this Ballet Studio not because it's a good deal, but because it's convenient. I was not willing to driving a half hour out of town with the boys in afternoon traffic to save a little. All the nannies that sit in the waiting rooms seem unphased by the cost. : )

Then there was the $32 leotard. It had to be bought from the studio. All the girls wear the same one, the same $10 tights and the same $22 shoes. The $26 wrap skirt is optional. Great. Hannah, no skirt. Buuuuttt Moooommmm, it's sooooo pretty.

Yes, but you don't need it.

The skirt has come up several times this week... and today, on the way there, I say, "Hannah, it's expensive. You don't need it. I don't think it's wise to buy it."

We get there. She is thrilled! Skips into her new class. The french doors close. I peek inside at the 12 girls standing in a line facing the mirror.

Hannah is the only one without the skirt. (Thankfully, still smiling.)

My heart breaks. I want to run to the desk and buy the skirt. It's not that we can't, I just... well, I thought I was doing the right thing. Am I?


She's not home yet... I have a feeling the skirt is going the come up again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Piano Lessons

Hannah had her first piano lesson today. She has been counting the days, hours, minutes until January 7th at 3:15. She made Miss Diana (she's never met her until today) a gift, wrapped it herself, and presented it to her. This excitement to play the piano... let's hope it doesn't wear off.

I love the marker-smudged fingers and chipped blue nail polish. Precious.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I have spent the past week getting organized. A new year, a fresh start, an organized home... love it!
  • The first thing I tackled was our budget. I cleaned out files, made lists, read a Dave Ramsey book (after hearing for so long about him), and set up a budget for the year using Pear Budget. And for the first three days of this year, we have stuck with it. Grin.

  • Next on my list: potty-train Peter. Starting the new year with no diapers seemed like a good plan to me. There has been great progress in our first four days. Tomorrow is our first big outing (church). I'm taking a stack of extra clothes.

  • My husband and I organized the basement so the kids have an extra, winter-months play space. The space under the basement stairs that used to house suitcases is now a clubhouse. The boys have been hammering away (with toy tools) to fix it up. Hannah has set up chairs, a lamp, and hung pictures. Classic.

  • And for more organizational madness, I made myself a "Family Organizer" notebook. Where I keep our calendar, meal planning pages, homeschool planning, shopping lists, kids' activities info, important numbers... you name it. For the front cover of the binder, I slipped in our daily schedule. Now all I need on my desk is this binder... ideally.

I have my first homeschool review with the county next week, so I have more organizing ahead of me. Of course, my type-A self is thrilled. : )


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