Follow our family as we journey through life.

Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I am behind on everything! With Michael gone I just can't keep up. The kids are alive and are fed infrequently, and that my friends, is as much as I can manage.
Something that has gone out the window completely while Michael is gone is getting the kids to bed at a decent hour. You would think that I would be counting down the seconds until bedtime, but bedtime on my own is such a hassle that I keep putting it off and off and off. I did get the littles down by nine last night, but Isaac and Henry went to bed after eleven, and James was in bed by one.
Yes, that is correct. 1:00 a.m.
Are you a single mother? Can I kiss your feet? And ask you how. the. hell. do. you. do it?!?!
Michael should be home in 33 hours and 50 minutes. But whose counting?
He'll be here in time to go Mass with us and then we can split up again for soccer. Last week I thought it would be a good thing to attend Saturday night because I figured it would be easier to get there since we were already up and everything. The church was only about 2/3's full, but Malcolm made sure those hundred people knew that we were there by randomly dropping large books, throwing his shoes, and repeatedly shrieking "NOOOOO!" as though someone was pulling his fingernails off.
That was early in Michael's trip when I still had energy to make food and get the baby dressed, so at least I know he was full and looked cute!
Go check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Monday, May 27, 2013

3 Down, 5 Days To Go

So far I have kept up with my goal to keep the kids alive while Michael is away. I have even fed them delicious food like homemade strawberry shortcake.

Yeah, yeah, one is missing. But four out of five is still 80% success and I have posted two pictures of the baby to make up for it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Fun

I know it's not technically summer, but we're starting the party early around here!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Grand Canyon

I have to say that going to the Grand Canyon is the ideal family vacation in terms of cost and things to do. Our main cost for the trip was the airfare. Next came lodgings, but we cut out a lot of cost there by staying in Williams, Arizona and driving to the canyon each day (it was about an hour each way). To get into the park is $25 for seven days. After that you can get by with spending very little depending on the activities you choose.

James received a trip to the Grand Canyon as a birthday gift from Michael's folks. I got to go along because I am the awesome mother.

James was mostly interested in hiking while we were at the canyon. He didn't want to go on a mule or helicopter ride. He had some interest in the glass bridge, but changed his mind after we saw the distance and the expense associated with it.

We only had about a day and a half in the Grand Canyon. The first day we took the train up from Williams. It was a fun ride, but definitely not worth the time or the expense to do it again or recommend it.

With limited time the first day we mostly stayed in the village and took in the views and checked out some of the shops and exhibits. We hiked a little along the Trail of Time which was so cool because it had examples of different layers of canyon rock and when they were formed.

The second day we drove up and got up there early. This was important because it gets crowded there fast. We still experienced some crowds, but after we got out on the trail it really thinned out.

This day we decided to hike along Hermit Road. This path/road follows along the edge of the canyon and is closed to private vehicles. A shuttle bus goes long this route with stops every mile or so. You can of course hike the entire way from the Village to Hermits Rest, but it is almost eight miles one-way.

Something we weren't prepared for was how the altitude effects you. At over 7000 feet you get winded and tired easily. We hiked a little over two miles along Hermit Road and both James and my mother-in-law started to feel a little altitude sickness. Thank goodness for the shuttles! We were able to hop on and get back to the village where we sat at an air-conditioned restaurant and refueled with food and water.

We were planning to hike another couple miles in the afternoon, but you would be surprised how much a little altitude sickness can wipe you out! So instead we drove the car to the Geology Museum, which is another great free attraction that has amazing views. From there we walked the almost mile to the Visitor Center to view the 20 minute movie about the canyon. Unfortunately, the movie was out of order, so we hopped on a shuttle bus back to the car.

One of the things we were hoping to do that we didn't have enough time to do was to hike down into the canyon. They suggest you do not try to hike down to the bottom and back up in a single day. We were thinking about hiking part of the way down on one of the suggested hikes, but there were so many other things to do that we never had the chance.
Even looking at the same spot in the Grand Canyon can seem different depending on the weather and the time of the day. This is truly an amazing place to visit.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Pizza Time

7 Quick Takes

I wish I had some photos for this post, but this week was so crazy I didn't even pick up the camera!
The Open House for LMCA was a huge success and we got at least one family registered for the program! Woo-Whoo!
Next Open House is July 8, 5:30 to 7:30pm. Please help spread the word.
Michael is leaving on Saturday for eight days. I plan on keeping the kids alive while he is gone.
Isaac's Feast Day came and went, as did our anniversary. They were both over-shadowed by the Barn Raising and First Holy Communion Party. No one minded though, Isaac celebrated his Feast Day on another day and Michael gave me a rain check of an anniversary/ delayed Mother's Day gift of going to see the new Star Trek movie when he returns. I may even let him come with me!
Soccer is winding down which is both good and bad. We love to see our boys play soccer. I love how much they enjoy it. I love the friendships they've formed and the ones I've formed with the other soccer moms.
I will not miss the fact that we can't eat dinner together four nights a week as two of us had to wolf down food at 4:45 pm. Or the craziness that our Sundays have become as we manage church, CCD, and two soccer games.
Pathetic that I couldn't even come up with two more things. Go visit Jen at Conversion Diary to read about more interesting takes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Recap #3

Oh what a weekend! Saturday was our Barn Raising and the laundry room looks amazing!

Yucky Wire shelves are replaced with cabinets. Unsightly mops and brooms are hidden away. It looks more like a powder room and less like a utility room.
Malcolm got a haircut.

He screamed the whole time and the gal said it was the worse haircut she had ever given and she refused to finish it because he was screaming so much. The real kicker is when she charged me in full.
It was also the First Holy Communion Party for Henry. We did a joint party with three other families since all the kids received this year.

It was a great time catching up with friends and learning who's expecting (Congrats again, Angela!!!), and what everyone is doing for summer.
Tonight is the first Open House for LMCA. If you are local please come out and support us!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Product Review: Science Naturally!

 photo 1100041v1v1_zpsa4dd1c29.jpg
It is no secret that we devour books around here. So when I was offered a free book from Science Naturally! in exchange for a review on this blog, I of course answered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Science Naturally! is a company committed to increasing math and science literacy. All of their products correlate to national math and science standards. Several products have also received coveted awards, recommendations, and been recognized by magazines or parent organizations.  
 photo MysteriesMoreSciCoverFrontweb_0_zpse15319fb.jpg
One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve with Science contains 70 brainteaser type activities that require math or science knowledge to solve. Written by a father-daughter team, this engaging and educational book is designed for ages 8 to 12. The stories are very short and do indeed take about a minute to read. The story is printed on the front side of the page and have the answer to the mystery, which is actually more like a brainteaser, on the opposite side.
The text is divided into sections each talking about a different theme such as plants or space. It is not necessary to read the book from front to back and kids can bounce around to the area that interests them. Although the book says 'science' there are five bonus math stories to enjoy.
As soon as the book arrived it was consumed by James. He enjoyed it so much and it really allowed me to see areas in which his knowledge of science was lacking or excelling. In fact he told me that stories he knew he wouldn't be able to solve, like the plant ones, he would just read to learn. Others he would sit and puzzle them out.
I tried reading a couple of the stories to the other kids, ages 7 and 9, to start a science discussion. Although they definitely had the interest, problem is that before this year their science education has been lacking, and they don't read as much as James to be able to 'pick stuff up' through literature and other means. So many of the puzzles they were unable to solve, and it became more of a guessing game. I was really surprised at many of the ideas they came up with to solve the stories. They usually weren't anywhere close to right, but they sure were creative! 
I know I am going to keep this book handy for a long car or airplane trip. It will be an easy way to keep their attention in a busy airplane terminal or to hold the dreaded "Are we there yet?" at bay.
This product exceeded my expectations. I loved how involved the kids could get in the mysteries. The stories were written in a perspective that really got down on their level without becoming too silly or preachy. Facts are presented so creatively that kids don't really know that they are learning while they read!
This is a product that I would feel good about gifting to another child. At only $9.95 it is a realistic option for a birthday gift. I feel I wouldn't even have to ask the mom if the child likes science. The way this book is written there is no way you can't like science while reading it.
I liked this book. I thought there was very good reasoning involved in the stories.

I liked that the book had something to solve in every part.

I liked it because it had all different stories in it and you weren't just reading the same story with the same mystery the whole time.
As mentioned above, One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Stories You Solve With Science retails for $9.95 on the Science Naturally! website. As a special offer to my blog readers, the vendor is offering any three books from their website for only $19.95 plus $2.95 shipping. That is a savings of $12.90! Use coupon code: 3SPEC at checkout to get your savings!
So what other books does Science Naturally! offer? In addition to the book I reviewed, they offer many other science book and math mystery books of a similar format. Plenty of choices for all the different learners in your life! Click here to view their selection.
Other folks over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew got a chance to review this book as well. Click here to read their reviews or click the banner below.
 photo Disclaimer2_zpsff718028.gif

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tea Time

7 Quick Takes

Adoption Update: Although we have been viewing profiles of birth mothers, we have not had our profile shown to any gals yet. With the exception of one birth mother, all the women have not known what they were having, or they were having boys. The one having a girl was due in less than a month. At the time that was just a little too soon for us. It seems to be a season for boys and for patience.
The Open House for Laurel Mountain Classical Academy is this Monday! If you are local please consider coming out to check out all we have done to get this going. The fact that you don't homeschool doesn't matter, nor does the fact that you aren't interested in enrolling you kids. We would just love the support and we are also afraid we are going to be standing around staring at each other all night. We are meeting at Victorious Life Church: 214 Frye Farm Road, Greensburg. Right by the Mountain View Inn.
Some people have wondered how we came to be at Victorious Life Church and what their involvement in our program is. Pastor Mike and his wife Wende are completely supportive of homeschooling and out of over 50 churches we approached, they were only one of three to consider letting us use their classroom space. Our program is not a religiously-based one, and we are not teaching religion. We are simply using their classroom space for a modest rent.
Tomorrow is our Barn Raising and we are doing our laundry room! I am completely excited. Here is the before photo:
Earlier this week Henry came down wearing the same shirt Malcolm was wearing. He ran up and put on similar shorts as well. Then Isaac appeared wearing the same outfit. James refused to get in the game as well, but the three boys were beyond cute.
Our school year is winding down, but we still have a couple weeks to go. And I think the boys will be doing writing and math beyond that. I can't decide really. I want them to finish their writing books, but I am wondering if any new material is covered in the math books from here to the end. A Beka is very review-heavy and it may just be review from here on out. We are all looking forward to a break over the summer from school. I don't know how year-around homeschoolers do it. I need a break as much as them!
Still haven't been able to do the Grand Canyon Post. Next week at the latest! I just need to get through this Open House.
Go visit Jen to read more Quick Takes. Also you could catch a glimpse of her gorgeous new baby!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Look what we got!

A pop-up camper!
We've been talking about this for a while. A friend of Michael's was selling his and it was perfect for us!

So it sleeps six and has an additional room that attaches to the front of the camper. It also has a sink and stove as well as a heater. We are so excited to start camping again!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Recap #2

Yeah, so I missed a week in there. But if you saw my calendar then you would understand why.
Here's a little peek. We are way. too. scheduled.
James and I made it home safely from the Grand Canyon. What a wonderful trip it was! It deserves it's own blog post, but here's a picture to tide you over until I am able to get to that (blogging isn't on the calendar and so it may be a while).
Malcolm has been a bit clingy since I have returned, but I don't mind because seriously that baby is the best darn snuggler we have ever had. Did I mention he plays with dolls? Well, he does and it is beyond adorable! Yesterday while I was weeding through the 300 plus emails I got while I was away he created quite the doll set-up behind me.

I think he was keeping an eye on me in case I tried to sneak away again for a few days. Notice the shoes and coat? He was ready in case he needed to chase after me.
See that white wire shelf? Malcolm is obsessed with that thing and carries it around all the time. He even tried to bring it to church. He loves it and uses it in many different ways. Sometimes he spreads his night-nights on it and lays down. It is really cute. And kind of weird.
Michael survived his first time caring for the kids alone. Usually if I have to leave his mom will come to help out. But she was in the Grand Canyon with James and I and so Michael was left on his own. All the kids survived and they had even been bathed when I returned.
Michael didn't miss me, and that may seem a little harsh, but his reason for not missing me is very valid: He says he was too busy to miss me. He couldn't believe how many things there were to do and he never had a spare moment to think about missing me. That, my friends, was the best Mother's Day gift I have ever gotten.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

"The mother is everything - she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses his mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly."
-- Kahlil Gibran