Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two of the same hike

One last post from New Hampshire.

One of the best parts of Fall in New England is the changing of the leaves and the best way to see that is to hike up a mountain!

We hiked up Mount Kearsarge for the second time this year.  I went back and looked at pictures from our hike two years ago to compare.  The kids have grown so much!

Our family has grown too!

Little miss Jami wasn't even a blip on the radar last time!

I am so thankful for this family of mine!

Even though they all teased me mercilessly about being to afraid to go to the very top for the second time!  But seriously, look at them...they are practically standing on the edge of the world!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

The leaf quotes

"I've never see these yellow leaves before!"

The last time we were in New Hampshire for the changing of the leaves, John was only two so as far as  his memory is concerned, he hasn't ever seen yellow leaves.  
Or orange.  Or red.

The leaves have been a source of endless fascination for him.

Even the girls, who do remember our previous Fall trips, love to examine the leaves!

"This is so great!  We are doing a job but we are also having so much FUN!"

Because when you only have to do it once a year as opposed to every Saturday, raking leaves is fun!
My brother-in-law on the other hand would rather have an unmedicated root canal, than spend a morning raking leaves!
"Let's jump in together!"

And hey, you can't roll around in a huge pile of leaves if you don't rake them up first!

"A pile of leaves was never safe with those sisters around."  -David McPhail, author of Sisters

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Apples: Picking to Pie!

One of our favorite Fall activities is apple picking!
I was joking with Brad when we arrived at the apple orchard, that anytime you see an apple tree in a children's book or drawing, the trees are always tall and majestic.  When in reality, apple trees are like overgrown bushes!
It's like a Napolean complex for trees.
But we don't mind because these overgrown bushes are just the right size for climbing!

Even Jami was able to pick an apple or two. 
Which she immediately ate right down to the core!

When we got home we pulled out the all in one peeler/corer/slicer that my sweet sister gave to me.

Check out this bad boy in action!  
We peeled, cored and sliced 5 apples in under 5 minutes!

Here are my beautifully prepared apples just waiting for my yummy crumb topping!
And no I don't have a picture of the finished pie...that bad boy was also done in under 5 minutes!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all!

Ok, so I know it has technically been fall for over a week now but when you consider that it doesn't feel like Fall until after Thanksgiving in Florida, I'm actually two months early with this post. 

We arrived in New Hampshire Monday night and woke up Tuesday morning to yard full of beautiful leaves!

The trip up here was quite an adventure!  
After almost missing our connection and and arriving home without our luggage the last time we made this trip we decided that a nonstop was non-negotiable!  

Unfortunately that meant leaving Tampa at dinnertime and getting to New Hampshire well past bedtime.  Most of our kids think it is super fun to stay up late, but Jami...well, she took great personal offense at the neglecting of her bedtime routine.  

And since she has recently developed that really fun, ear piercing habit of screaming when she is unhappy, the rest of our flight mates found her lack of sleep offensive as well!

It's just a phase, right?  Somebody please tell me the screaming will eventually STOP!!

The flight wasn't all bad though.
Emma Jane found a friend.

After the first hour, Emma Jane realized that mommy was way to busy with trying to amuse Jami to do anything fun or interesting like read a book or discuss whatever topic happened to be on her mind at that moment, so she struck up a conversation with the woman sitting on her other side.

And she proceeded to talk this woman's ear off for the next two and a half hours!  After giving her a detailed description of both of our homes, she told her all about homeschooling, Classical Conversations, her sister's dyslexia, American Heritage Girls, Jesus, gymnastics and her dream of being an Olympic gymnast someday, the woes of being a middle child, and to top it off: a full twenty-five minute discussion about the ins and outs of speaking sign language!  And then, because she was clearly an angel in disguise, that sweet, patient woman, gave Emma Jane a dollar and showed her how to make an origami boat out of a one dollar bill!

If Jami hadn't been pulling my hair and shrieking in my ear at that exact moment, I probably would have kissed the kind stranger for being so nice to my daughter. 

Mercifully, the flight ended and we made it home!

We have big plans to squeeze as much New England into the next 5 days as we can! 
First on the agenda:

Apple Picking!

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Take me out to the ball game

Little kid sports are so funny!

John is playing baseball this fall.  It is his first experience with team sports and it has been something of a bumpy road these first couple of weeks!
John is the youngest one on his team and from what I have observed, the only one that didn't already have some baseball knowledge going in.
Practices have been nothing short of torture for everyone involved, but we haven't let John quit because I knew that his resistance was just a lack of confidence.  
His coaches have been great!  
So patient with him, despite his refusal to ever run the bases!
Saturday was his first game and like practices it started off a little rocky.  He refused to go up to bat or into the outfield the first inning. 

 Brad pulled him out of the dugout and had a little man-to-man talk with him and the next inning John went up to bat, hit the ball and actually ran to first base!
He ended up getting out on third, but that didn't even matter.  When he walked back to the dugout, everyone cheered for him.  Even other kids parents!  
(Have I mentioned how great this team is?)

His time in the outfield was less productive, but at least he went out there!
John got the game ball when it was all over!
He was so excited and proud of himself!

He had practice again on Sunday and for the first time he went with no tears, participated the whole and even called baseball "FUN" when he got home!

Play Ball!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to School

So I had this whole "first day of school" post ready, and then I forgot to post it.

And then I just kept forgetting.

The homeschooling three kids everyday reality has set in and I've realized that keeping up with a blog is much easier during the summer.

So anyways, here it is (finally)!

Our official "back to school" picture.
This was taken before heading to our CC community day, hence the backpacks.  I don't usually make them put on their backpacks, go outside and then come back into school.

We meet with our CC group on Mondays.  In the mornings they break up by age into their classes to learn new memory work for the week and do art and science.  They also each give a 2-3 minute presentation on various topics each week.  

My kids have been blessed with amazing tutors this year!
I am so thankful for these women!

After lunch, John has PE for an hour and the girls have a sign language class.  Then we go home and I make them go swimming or do something independently so that Jami and mommy can rest.
(I don't know why doing nothing while the kids are in CC every Monday exhausts me, but it does!)

Tuesday through Friday we have school at home and this first month has been really good!  After the initial shock over the increase in work that comes with moving from K/2nd to 1st/3rd, the girls have settled into a nice routine. 

 John usually ignores any work that I set out for him in favor of legos or play dough.  But sometimes he can be bribed into doing an activity with mommy.
  Especially if making a huge mess playing with rice is involved!

 Jami usually alternates between playing school
And being really "helpful!"
All in all, this school year gets a big thumbs up so far!

Friday, August 9, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum

Is it possible that a new school year is almost upon us!  
I'm feeling both more prepared and more overwhelmed than ever before.
That could possibly be because I will have THREE homeschoolers this year!

John will be staying home this year and joining us in all the homeschool madness!
I'm like 98% sure about that.  Technically, I haven't withdrawn him from VPK yet...
I should probably do that soon.

Anyway, I have been in crazy major planning mode for the past week!
I'm pretty sure my dining room table is still under there somewhere!

So without further ado, here are our curriculum choices for 2013-2014:

Libby - 3rd Grade

Math- Teaching Textbooks 3 (we are making the switch from math u see and are super excited about it!)
Reading/Phonics- Phonics Pathways and Reading Pathways (Libby is dyslexic and needs lots of repetitive drilling in phonics. These books are great for that!)
Writing- IEW Bible Heroes, Prescripts Cursive Words 
Spelling- Sequential Spelling 1 and All About Spelling 
(We are trying both of these because there are things about both programs that I like and I need to see which one Libby responds to the best before we go one way or another.)

Emma Jane- 1st grade

Math- Math U See Alpha
Reading- IEW Primary Arts of Language Reading (We will actually be done with this in October and then I don't know exactly what we will do.)
Writing- IEW Bible Heroes, Prescripts Cursive Letters
Spelling- All About Spelling 1

John- PreK

Preschool- a combination of COAH's Letter of the Week and 1+1+1=1's RRPS
Math- Math U See Primer
Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears 

We are also a part of a Classical Conversations community, so we use that as our spine curriculum. CC will drive our history, science, and geography studies for the year.

Hopefully I can get all of this organized and the mess that is currently my dining room table cleaned up in time for our start date of August 19!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The old normal

Well, we are officially Floridians again!

We left New Hampshire with mixed emotions last Thursday.
Sad to say goodbye to our cousins, but really excited to be home too.
Florida missed us.

Between my flight two weeks ago and this most recent trip I have come to a decision.
 In my old age, I don't think I can handle the stress of airplane travel any longer.
We sat on the runway in Manchester for over half an hour, so that when we landed in Baltimore we had exactly 27 minutes to make our connecting flight.

Twenty-seven minutes to get four children and their ridiculously heavy backpacks out of the back of the plane and to a completely different terminal.

You know that scene from Home Alone...
yeah, that was us running through the airport like crazy people.

We just made it.
Sadly, Our luggage didn't.
But, I knew it wouldn't.

At about 6:30pm we got a phone call letting us know that our bags had arrived in Tampa and would be delivered to us sometime between 8pm and 2am!
Have I mentioned that the airport is 20 minutes from my house?

 But that was really just a slight hiccup.
The next morning I woke up to way more suitcases than I wanted to deal with.
Three hours later, I came to another decision.

My children have too many clothes!
And rather than wash and put them all away, I am just going to make a large donation to Salvation Army instead.
Not really.  I actually did put all of their clothes away and the laundry is under control but seriously, we need to cut back! 
And by we, I mean they!

Now that we are home, I feel like Summer is officially over.
The kids feel this way too.
As soon as I pulled out all of our books to make some plans for the coming semester, I had three little people all up in my business begging to start school.
Seriously, who are these little nerds?!
Go play!
Because I guarantee, 30 minutes after we actually do start school, they will be begging to go play!

But that's life.
And I am glad to be back to it!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lake day

One of the things on Brad's "New Hampshire bucket list" was to rent a boat and spend a day out on one of the big lakes near our house.

In order to do that, he had to have a boating license.
After cramming for about 20 minutes, he took his test, scored 21/25 (20 would have been failing), and he was issued his temporary boating license.

I asked him later if there had been any practical portion of the exam.
You know, like when you get a driver's license and you have to actually prove you can drive a car...

Just 1 point better than failing and you get a boat! ;)

Luckily, driving a boat is way easier than driving a car!
And the lake was pretty empty that day.
We had successfully prayed for no rain, but we forgot to pray for warm weather too.
It was a wee bit chilly that day!

Not that the cold stopped these crazy kids from jumping in the water!

John was less sure about the lake than his sisters and took a lot of convincing to get in the water.
He immediately decided it was a bad idea!

Once, safely back on the boat, John spent the rest of the day either snacking or sleeping!

 The other big kids spent the rest of the day tubing.  
Unfortunately the pontoon boat was not not nearly fast enough to satisfy these little speed demons!

It was however plenty fast enough for the other two kids that gave it a go!

 Sadly, the lake did not have a zero entry end for Jami, so she was unable to enjoy this bath!
(Have I mentioned that she labels any body of water big enough to splash in a "bath".)
Instead she helped out with driving the boat instead of swimming.

When she wasn't busy napping

 or playing dress up in Uncle Pat's radioactive pullover.
Anyone else think she looks like Slimer?

Not to worry though, these two did enough swimming for everyone! :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

too cool for the pool

We have experienced a lot of firsts this summer.
Including an outing so fun we repeated it two days in a row:

Our first time to a public pool!

In Florida, almost everybody has a pool right out their own back door and as soon as the weather get even slightly warm, my kids want to start swimming everyday.
This is usually sometime around the end of March!

In New Hampshire, almost no one has a private pool and the public pools don't even open for the season until after July 4th!
So another first for us would be waiting until mid-July for the first swim of the summer.

When we got to the pool, I told the kids that this pool would be different from our pool at home.  I told them there are rules and if they broke the rules the lifeguards would blow a whistle at them.

By the look they all gave me, you would have thought I said, "the lifeguards have guns and if you break a rule they will blow your face off."
But considering how bad John is about running by the pool, I figured a little terror was a good thing!

They were so excited to be swimming again!

After about an hour, all the whistles blew and I realized I had forgotten to share another important public pool rule:
 The Five Minute Break.
The kids were confused but they sat on the side of the pool with everyone else and patiently waited for the whistle to blow again.

Libby may have used her five minutes for a little snack break.

We had so much fun on day 1, we brought Jami back on day 2 for a little first of her own.
That's right, my Florida baby had to travel all the way to New Hampshire just to go swimming for the first time.
I so wish our pool at home had a zero entry shallow end!

But she had so much fun, I think the days of keeping her out of our big backyard "bath" are over.  Time for swim lessons!

And yes, I realize that her hat is too small.  She made it perfectly clear that she did not appreciate me jamming her big ole head into it!  Poor little fourth baby!

How are you beating the heat this summer?

Monday, July 29, 2013


It's not a birthday party without cake!
And when your having a party celebrating three birthdays in one, that adds up to a LOT of cake!

We had one super cool nascar cake for our big 6 year old, my nephew Ryan!

And then there were the TWO purple cakes for me!
(Long story.)
We only ate one.
The other one is in the freezer.

Since we already had three cakes at this point, Jami just dug into a piece of nascar cake
and enjoyed it as thoroughly as if it had been her own little girly smash cake.
She was immediately excused from the party to take a quick bath!

After everyone had eaten their fill of cake and ice cream (and gotten cleaned up) we took a group picture of the July 27th birthday buddies.
What a great day to turn "24", 1, and 6!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jami's Birth Day

Tomorrow is a big day.

Jami and I will both be celebrating a birthday.
Technically I will be 33, but I like to think that since Jami was born on my birthday that it is now her birthday and I get to stop aging. No?

Last year, my birthday plans were pretty low-key.
I was going to get a pedicure, get my hair done, take a nice long nap and then go over to my friend, Cyndi's house in my pajamas for movie night and cake.

I certainly didn't plan on giving birth.
I actually didn't plan on doing that for like another two weeks.
One week at the very least!

But God and Jami had other plans!
Very early in the morning on the 27th, I woke up with contractions.
They weren't very painful, but consistent enough to keep me from really falling back to sleep.
At 6am, when Brad woke up I told him that I had been having contractions for 3 hours and would probably be having a baby sometime later that day.

The first words out of my sweet husband's mouth were "Can I still go play golf?"
I am sure my body was releasing some sort of "happy hormone" at the time because I did not throw a lamp at him.

"Yes, you can still go golf.  I have an appointment at 9. I'll let you know what the doctor says." said the wife of the year.

Before going to my appt, I sat down to rework my plans for the day.  
Since I hadn't packed a hospital bag, washed any baby clothes, made up the crib, or gotten the infant seat out of the attic, I had a feeling my nap was not going to happen!

By the time I got to the doctor's office I was starting to feel "in labor" and I was already mentally crossing a pedicure off my list.

The doctor confirmed what I already knew.  
I was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced, her head was nice and low, and I was definitely having a baby that day.
At this point, I started to get really excited.  I have never spontaneously dilated and I really thought that God was answering my prayers for a pitocin free delivery.  

And then she listened for a heartbeat and couldn't find one.
I wasn't worried yet.  Jami was kicking like crazy so I knew she was fine.

Dr was worried though and sent me down the hall for a non-stress test to monitor Jami.
20 minutes later, Jami failed the NST and I was sent down the hall in the other direction for a sonogram.

As much as I just really wanted to leave the doctor's office and get on with my day at this point, thank goodness for sonograms!
Jami's heart was beating loud and clear over the ultrasound, but instead of her head pressing downward, it was her bum.
She was in a full Frank breech position with her feet up by her ears.
The ultrasound tech just looked at me and said, "Did you not know she was breech?"
I was like, "My last sono was 20 weeks ago! How should I have known?"
And the bad news just continued...
I was also leaking fluid and she was engaged.
There was no turning back.

All of my big birthday plans:
even going home to pack a bag flew out the window.

All of my plans for a completely natural, drug-free delivery also went out the window.
I was sent to the hospital for an emergency c-section instead.

I have to give it to my husband here.
When I called him, completely freaking out about having a c-section, he was so calm and reassuring!
He told me he would get the kids settled at Cyndi's, go home to pack for me and then meet me at the hospital.
I actually felt better when we got off the phone.
I later found out that he immediately called my sister and freaked out all over her!

8 hours and one small(ish) panic attack on the operating table later, Jami was born and I got to meet my baby girl for the first time!

Apparently, my "emergency" c-section wasn't the most pressing emergency that day, so I got to spend all day hanging out in the hospital, twiddling my thumbs.
So wish I had gone home first to pack myself!

This was the last time I held her that night, because as I already knew, anesthesia is not my friend!
I spent the rest of the night throwing up and Jami spent it in the nursery.

 But even though my plans failed, I was and am so thankful that God's plans are bigger. 
 I almost skipped my appointment that morning since I already knew I was in labor.  I figured I could just show up at the hospital when it was time to push.
 And sometimes when I am feeling sorry for my failed plans and my ugly scar, I think to myself, "what a waste, I could have pushed that tiny baby out easy." 
But the truth is, I have no idea what God was protecting me and Jami from when he hid her heartbeat in the exam room and during the NST.  
We wouldn't have discovered she was breech until too late without that sonogram.
So today, before her birthday, I am thanking God for my ugly scar and my healthy baby! 

 Now a whole year has passed in the blink of an eye!
And yes, I realize I am missing 2 months. September was a bad month for pictures!
Happy almost Birthday, Jami!