Monday, June 30, 2008

Dug 'em out of the sand and brought them home

Mary and Katie came home on Sunday to celebrate my birthday with me!!! We missed them a lot. It was just too quiet around here without them. Apparently they had a lot of fun at the beach and doing their day camp.

I spent most of the week off the computer playing with the little ones and cleaning/de-cluttering the house. Our garage looks like a bomb has gone off, at least until we have a big garbage pick up. But, on the other hand the house is looking really nice.

I could go on for hours about all the summer time fun we are having, but I'll save you from that. Needless to say we are really finding a lot of enjoyment in our time together right now. DH has been putting together some scrumptious meals for us, we have a pair of deer frequenting the woods behind our house, bicycle rides, homemade ice cream, and the kiddies are all home...what could be better?



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back from "Vacation"

I got back into town, although minus the two older girls, Monday afternoon. Mary and Katie are staying through the week with my mom and attending a local science (Sound and Sea) day camp. It sure is quiet around here without those two, as they are my talkers right now. Robbie, of course, is doing his best to keep me busy. While we were at the beach he started cutting all four of his eye the same time. Of course he became Mr. Cankypants - fever and all. I don't blame him, but it sure is nice that he is back in his own bed now and not bunking with me. He never did do well with co-sleeping.

It was a nice visit to the beach. My dad had an empty apartment available for us to crash in. Which was helpful as my sister and niece had also flown in from the west coast. We spread the kids out among the houses (the apartment is connected to my Dad's house). I didn't see much of Katie from the time we arrived on Wednesday until Saturday, as she spent as much time as possible with my step-niece and the other two kids my step-mother is watching this summer. Emily moved in with my mom and really did not want to leave on Monday when it was time to go home. So, it was Mary, Robbie and myself for most of the time. We went to the beach (Mary tried her hand at skim boarding this year), played in the swimming pool (a lot), and we even held a Camp Rock slumber party for the tweens & tween-wanna-be's in the group.

I came back on Monday mainly to bring my sister back to the airport. My niece is now at a sailing camp on the coast and then will spend a few weeks visiting her various grandparents before her dad flies back out to pick her up. Mary and Katie will be home Sunday, giving me a whole week to work on some de-cluttering and organizing projects. So far, I'm not very motivated.

Today, I was shocked when at 9am everyone in the house was up, dressed and fed. We had the whole day ahead of us, could actually go ahead and run some errands. We didn't have to wait on any of the others to slowly wake themselves up. With nothing else to do we headed out to the library where they were having a toddler reading time. I always mean to go, but it never has worked with our schedule. Today we got to watch a puppet reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Emily was impressed and enjoyed it a lot, and Robbie didn't even scream once.

We all crashed after lunch (in my defense I had to get up at 4am to drive my sister to the airport) for a couple of hours. The afternoon was spent outside mowing the grass, filling the wading pool and picking through the outside toys (keepers, trash and give-away). I even tested out my ability to hack away at some of the overgrown shrubs that have been driving me nuts. I don't know if some of them will ever be the same, and I don't really care. Basically, none of the inside organization projects were touched today. Later this week it looks like we will hit 100-degrees again, I'll want to be inside then.

I have been talking with Mary and Katie both evenings, and they are having a blast at camp. Mary called me this evening talking about 100 words per second about all the animals she has seen today, at camp and otherwise. My mom took them back to the aquarium this afternoon after she picked them up. They go so often that some of the animals have become pseudo-pets to them; "the lobsters seemed sleepy today" and "the snake was really active, sliding in and out of his pool."

DH was glad to have us back. He says it just doesn't feel right to be here and for it to be quiet. With two of us missing it still feels out-of-kilter, but not as bad as when he was here alone. We know everyone is having a good time...and chaos will return next week.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to the Beach

Updated to add photo of the moon rising...
We are back at the beach visiting family and chilling out. My sister and niece, whom live on the west coast, flew in last night. We all drove down here together today. I'm hoping to get in plenty of beach time with the children. Tonight, we are going to head out and watch the moon rise. It is supposed to be pretty spectacular, with a larger than normal appearance.

I have my camera, so I will be checking in and out through the week.



We walked down to the sound and watched the full moon rising. With the forest fires burning to the north of us, the atmosphere is really 'dirty' and gave the moon a strong red glow.

It would be so much better if I had a camera capable of taking night pictures.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Family Reunion Weekend

Every Saturday before Father's Day my MIL's family gets together for their family reunion. This year it was held in Wilmington, which allowed us to just make a day of it and come home. DH and I were the only ones, besides MIL & FIL to represent our side of the family.

When DH took a look at this picture he took one look at it and said, "Our children have no shoes."
That's right my children wear shoes from the car to inside, once inside the shoes come off. At home, even in the yard, they tend to be barefoot most of the year. We just are not a shoe family.

Katie and Emily are holding their new prize possessions. Emily recently received a sock monkey to go with her new monkey fixation. And, Katie got another Schleich figurine to add to her animal collection. Mary couldn't show off her newest Barbie since she had her hands full with Robbie.

We had fun at the reunion...ate, talked, played, ate some more. After it wrapped up we figured we couldn't give up the chance to hit the beach for an hour or two before driving home. The kids had a great time playing in the surf. Emily who was leary of the ocean last fall was all about laying down in the surf this time and letting the waves wash over her. Several times today the girls have thanked us for taking them to the ocean.

Today, being Father's Day, we have just hung around the house. I tried to keep the children out of DH's hair as much as possible since he wrenched his back on Friday and all the driving on Saturday just made it worse. Mary and I managed to escape on a bike ride this afternoon. We rode down the greenway and made a couple mini-hikes along the way. It was nice to be back on the bike now that the oppressive heat has moved on for awhile.

I have a couple more days to get caught up on the chores around here before my sister and neice fly in for a visit and I take the children to the beach for a visit. We might try to get out for some activity tomorrow, as it will be our last chance up here for a couple of weeks.



Friday, June 13, 2008

Just when you think it is safe to get dressed

He has a shirt that says "My Parents are Exhausted" - if I could he would wear it everyday as a warning.

I repeat: "There are no more popsicles in the freezer!"



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Celebrating my kids

It may sound hokey, but I have really been enjoying all the kid-ness around me lately. I am so glad that I have kids that are just kids. When I am able to let go of expectations, expectations of myself and my kids, we can just settle in and enjoy what comes.

I've been cleaning up and cleaning out the past few days. Very reinvigorating considering the chaos that had become rooted in our home. Getting rid of all the excess, which I guess acted like background noise to the kids, has allowed them to rediscover old favorites.

Emily walked into her sisters' bedroom as I stood their holding an old Dora Backpack trying to decide if I should donate it to Goodwill or not. She let out a squeal of delight "Backpaaaack!" Who am I to resist, and so she trotted out of the room as happy as can be. A few minutes later I found her spread out on the floor, piles of paper & crayons in front of her happily making 'treasure maps.' For the next ten minutes or so I helped roll up the treasure maps while she every so slowly figured out how to secure them with rubberbands. Into Backpack they went. Then she recalled an old wrapping paper tube she had come across. She had her telescope/walking stick/weapon. And, I as informed that she was now off on an Adventure. Inside, outside, beds that became boats on the open water. It was so interesting that her older sisters really wanted to go on Adventure with her.

When Katie hasn't been Adventuring with Emily, or playing Nick Jr. (yet another old favorite rediscovered), she has been seriously at work building Roman cities with the wooden blocks. Then begging me to take pictures or getting the camera to take them herself.

There is just so much joy and excitement in my kids being kids.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Yesterday was a rough day. Katie woke up with a stomach upset and the younger two were suffering from eating way too many berries over the weekend & Monday. I know better but the weather was so hot that cold berries just seemed like a good idea. Everyone seemed wound up and couldn't really settle on any one activity - which meant a lot of bouncing around for me. So, when DH came home I disappeared for a little break.

I decided to ride my bike to the library. For the first time I had actually had my account locked. Thankfully I had enough cash to re-open my account, but I was flabbergasted when they printed off a list of five books I have had out since this past winter. Why in the world they didn't show up in May when I cleared my account that time I have no idea. They are all kids books, in fact all but two are Katie books. Katie is our little magpie and there is a very good possibility that those books are squirreled away somewhere in her room.

I am normally better than I have been the last six months with keeping things organized. I feel like I am always behind trying to keep the clutter in check. Things lately just seem to be falling through the cracks and becoming misplaced. It is driving me to distraction. I keep threatening to pack everything up again, like when we had put the house on the market. It just is such an overwhelming task to consider I keep procrastinating.

On the way home I stopped by a neighbor's house to catch up for a little while and thank her for sending over some school materials to add to our library. She told me that she actually did pack up the kids' rooms yesterday. She was so frustrated with everything being dragged out and not put away, so they sat down together and agreed what would go to storage and what they could keep.

Talking with her has really motivated me to start our purging job. Last night I pulled out on of the larger moving boxes and started sorting the play area. I filled the box with lots of misc stuffed animals and toys that the kids pull out but never do anything with. All the little free toys from fast food places and broken bits & pieces went into the trash bag. The area is all organized now and petty much limited to their Little People, which honestly is still a lot. This I know they play with , often. They also kept their Mega Blocks and wooden blocks. That is it for the play area.

Today I am going to purge Mary's & Katie's room. I am hoping to find the majority of the missing library books. Once that task is done, our library needs a good purging/reorganization. It is scary how many books and such we have accumulated this year.

If you don't hear from me in a few days I may be buried under a pile of debris.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boxes in the Mail

Yesterday we received two wonderful boxes in the mail. I had ordered them, but forgot that they were actually going to come. My life is kind of like that now.

The first was Mary's box containing her "Wildlife Explorer" book. This is one of those monthly membership type things that Mary found in one of her nature magazines. Since my experience with Columbia Music as a teenager I tend to shy away from these offers, but Mary caught me at a weak moment and I figured 'what the heck.' So, she received a large three-ring binder with a prepared table of contents and indexing cards, and three packs of wildlife/nature information pages to add to the notebook. Every few weeks she'll get new ones to add in.

I was really impressed with the information and format. It is actually quite nice. It was easy for Mary to organize the pages and begin reading. It will be a really nice addition to our library and has managed to hold Mary's attention for several hours. Last night the two of us were reading through it comparing how long it takes various mammals to reach maturity and leave their mother.

The other box is also for our library, but I am really going to enjoy. For this next year, since we are not doing textbooks or 'programs,' I decided to set up subscriptions to a couple magazines that I have been drooling over. One of them is Learning Through History. I sent the link to my purchasing consultant (aka my mother - the retired school librarian), and she replied that at the price they were offering online I should also buy a couple of the past year's bundles. Twist my arm...and I did. My box contained the past two years of magazines, and the most recent past issue.

I've already read the magazine on The Industrial Revolution, and have the one covering Tudor England sitting beside me right now. Each one is like its own self-contained unit study, complete with comparative timeline, crafts, food, web links, additional reading and writing prompts/essay questions. Being the history buff that I am, I am going to enjoy my reading for the next couple of weeks.

There won't be any curriculum boxes this we are enjoying our moment.



Monday, June 09, 2008

Too Hot, too soon

We survived Saturday at the soccer fields, although it was touch and go there for awhile. Even the kids who seem to have excess energy in all types of weather seemed a little slower. Soccer is now over for the season. We have our evenings & Saturdays back until August.

By the time we were finished, I was toast and the younger ones needed their naps. Mary, on the other hand was invited out to one of her teammate's stables to see part of a horse show and ride a horse. DH took her to that, so I could come home and rest.

Apparently they got the big tour of the whole stable, barn, riding ring, etc. She got to ride a horse, help brush one and watch as someone cleaned out the hooves. Before she left they gave her a 'real' used horseshoe. This little side trip totally made Mary's day.

Sunday, we went over to a friend's house and went swimming with them. Their pool was the perfect size to be able to swim/play with Emily and Robbie while also keeping an eye on Mary and Katie. It felt so good to be in the water, even at 10:30 in the morning it was already sultry outside. I brought Robbie and Emily home after lunch so they could rest. DH was home so I went back to my friend's place and spent the entire afternoon chilling, relaxing and visiting. What a vacation for me.

Public schools still have two more days, so two more quiet days around the house. We are going to try to relax, play some games and enjoy our time together. In between I'll do my best to tackle the mountain of laundry from this weekend.



Thursday, June 05, 2008

This week in pictures

A boy who is bound and determined to have what is his sister's. If it belongs to Mary, he wants it. What you can't hear is him humming his own little tune while listening to her MP3 player.

Mary and Katie discovered cicadas tunneling in the sandbox of the play structure.

"Playing" dominoes
Emily's favorite book - I don't know how many times we have sat down and read sections of this book.
Our black snake is back, in fact we have two of them this year. One in the backyard and one in the front. This one was cornered by our dog, Ginger, and wasn't very happy about it.

I've realized that all the time the girls have spent on the slip-n-slide or playing the sprinkler I have yet to take pictures. Probably because more often than not Emily is doing it au natural. We've also been to the Farmer's Market this week and loaded up on the fresh fruit available; blueberries, strawberries and peaches.

Mary has entertained herself with reading all about the Disney stars in a magazine she bought herself, and more recently learning all about using her new cellphone. I'm jealous, it is such a neat phone.

Friday is going to be clean up day around here. Learning is certainly messy!




I think I am going to cry. Our May had to have been the most enjoyable, beautiful month ever...and this is where we are going to pay for it. I actually turned on the AC yesterday, the temps were bad enough, but when the humidity levels inside hit 70% I was afraid it might actually start raining inside.

Mary has her last soccer practice this evening; haha - right. I tried to get Katie to blow off hers as well. I mean here she is with all her friends over playing on the slip 'n' slide and she wants to go get all dressed in soccer gear and go out to the fields (it was 5pm and still 94-degrees). Check out the temp for Saturday - that is the day we get to spend 4 hours hanging out at the non-shaded soccer fields for "Celebration Saturday." It is a must, as Katie would be tremendously disappointed to not get her trophy. She is actually marking down the days on the calendar for this.

Clothing is optional at this point, water play is preferred, and it may be a good day to re-open the video vault to laze around.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Looking for what's next...

I am getting that 'antsy' feel in my gut. That one that tells me a change is in the air for me, and I'm not quite sure what it is going to be. See, I'm kinda of a crisis, big project kind of gal and everything is going along well, only needing little tweaks here and there to keep it on course. Which is kind of leaving me a little rudderless. No big projects, nothing to really stress and obsess over. Seriously, what fun is that?

I started thinking about some new projects I could take on. I always talk about how my dream is to be a professional college student. Really...take all those anthropology, sociology, history, physical science, environmental science and language classes I just couldn't fit into my four-year degree. Tonight I found myself cruising through the websites of our local universities to see what they had in the continuing ed/distance programs. Lots and lots of classes, and nothing that reached out and said - "Take me." And, at $400/class it would have to do this pretty loudly.

Since I homeschool, it isn't too far out for me to say, "I'll just homeschool myself." Think of what an impression that will make on the children. So, now I am left trying to decide what I want to learn. Do I want something schooly and theoretical, or a practical art. Nothing is crying out at me right now.

I guess I'll just have to wait to see what comes.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.