Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Long, November

Well, at least I am good for 2 blog posts a month.  I always mean to sit down and post to this blog but it seems like I do most of my updating and communicating through Facebook these days.  Then, I feel redundant posting about the same things here.  I know that a few of my family members and friends aren’t on Facebook (no, really!) so here I am updating about our November. :)

Kaya turned 8 this month and we had a fun time celebrating.  We spent the morning of her birthday at the Strong Museum for Play.  It was very busy due to school being out for Veteran’s Day, but everyone seemed to have a blast!








Despite our liberal use of hand sanitizer, the girls came down with some sort of sickness within days of our museum trip.


Our homeschool co-op has been going well.  This month, the children learned about self defense and had fun throwing Mr. Faber around.


We went to Wegmans last week to pick up some Thanksgiving supplies and found that they have a whole display up that is made to look like the barn that Jay built for the Wegman family. They even have a wooden shape sorter barn with a likeness of the barn.  Very cool.



And here is the actual barn.



It has been a busy month for correspondence with our children from Compassion International.  We received letters from Yishak in Ethiopia, Yolanda in Guatemala and Precious in Ghana. The letters and drawings always bring such joy to our home.  We just love them!  This month, we received the special bonus of a picture of Precious with her family and friends.


When we started to sponsor her in July, we had just missed her birthday by a few days.  We sent along an extra $20 so that she could have a birthday gift.  With that $20, she got a dress, shoes, toothbrush and toothpaste, a sponge, paints, schoolbooks and a treat of Cola to share with her friends.  We were overjoyed to get this picture, to be able to see the Center (GH220 ~ Ajumako Bisease Child Development Center) where she attends.

In her most recent letter, Precious tells us that she likes to sweep and it is joyful and fun for her.  Boy, did that ever hit my heart!  I will admit that I do not generally love sweeping. Or any housework for that matter.  I’ll do it, but I’d prefer it if the messes were to magically clean themselves. lol Well, to read about the outlook that Precious has about sweeping has changed me a bit.  Now, when I sweep, I always think of our girlie in Ghana.  The girl who goes without so many things in her life, but still finds it in herself to be joyful and see the fun in sweeping.  I sweep and pray for her family, I sweep and meditate on the sweet girl halfway around the world who has changed my heart forever.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Welcome, November!

October was a crazy month for us, but now that everyone is healthy I can catch up a bit and post some pics from the last few weeks.


The Autumn colors were brilliant, but before we knew it we had snow and frost sweeping through.


The frosty morning walks with the dog get a bit shorter when it is so cold. I still find time to look for photograph opportunities such as this.


We visited the Continuing Care center and Luna was passed around like a party favor. She snuggled in with those that needed a snuggle and entertained those who needed a laugh.


In an attempt to get a group shot if the girls, I got to capture the *other* side of Luna’s personality. Oy.


For their Story of the World class, the girls got to make Joseph’s coat of many colors.

In other news, we have gotten many letters and pictures from our children that we sponsor and correspond with through Compassion International. Our little Precious from Ghana sends at least one letter per month, though sometimes we get 2 in a week!

We were able to pool our money with the two other people who donated through the Donate button on the left and sent a Family Gift to the Okyere family in the amount of $100. The monetary gift is in transit now and when it arrives in Ghana, Compassion workers will help determine the best way to use the money to benefit the family. If anyone else feels compelled to donate, 100% of the funds I receive will go straight to Precious and her family when I send the next gift.

We also took on two new correspondent children. Johan lives in India and is 14 years old and Yishak lives in Ethiopia and he is 11. We keep the pictures of our 5 Compassion children up on our fridge and pray for them daily. While we do not financially support Yolanda, Rodrigo, Yishak and Johan, we sent many letters filled with love and encouragement. It has been a great experience for our family.

I will try to update more frequently this month, hopefully everyone will cooperate and stay healthy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ 10/14






Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Autumn Beauty

On our way to Story of the World class yesterday, I was taken by the amazing colors surrounding us.



The overcast skies dimmed the colors in the pictures, but you can still see how the hills are covered in orange and gold. I was hoping for sun and blue skies before the rest of the leaves fall, but that may not happen.


The Story of the World class went really well.  The children learned about mummies and pyramids, then they made their own pyramids out of sugar cubes.



Jay is slowly bouncing back though he is still weak and needing to lay down most of the day.  His breathing is much easier and we’re hoping that his recovery continues. He mentioned wanting to go back to work tomorrow, but I am hoping to keep him home at least one more day to get some strength back.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Evening run to the E.R.

Jay was on the couch sick yesterday after a night of being up and coughing for hours.  A week after the rest of us recovered, he came down with the dreaded sickness.  Around 6pm, his breathing became much more difficult and by 7pm, he was talking about a trip to the Emergency Room.  You know it is serious when Jay is suggesting going to the hospital. The girls were in pajamas when Jay decided that he needed to go.  Jay was wheezing and gasping and starting to turn a strange shade of whitish green.

This is the third time we’ve had to rush to the E.R., not counting when we transferred from our attempted homebirth after Luna’s cord prolapsed. Like the two time before, Nico took complete charge of getting her sisters ready. Within a minute, she had a bag packed with spare clothes and everything they may need if we needed to stay there for a few hours.  It was nothing short of amazing.

After jump-starting our car (which totally added to the stress of the moment) we made it to the ER within 20 minutes and Jay was given a nebulizer treatment right away.  That seemed to help within a few minutes and he could at least take bigger breaths. Then he needed a chest Xray and 2 more nebulizer treatments. The biggest shock of the night was when the doctor gave Jay the news that his lungs were in bad shape.  While she didn’t want to give a definitive diagnosis, the Doctor explained that Jay’s lungs showed the very beginning stages of Emphysema.  Jay has smoked off and on since his teens and that has taken a major toll on the efficiency and health of his lungs. I do believe that the combination of that news and knowing the very scary feeling of gasping for breath might be exactly what he needs to kick the habit once and for all.

We got home just before midnight and Jay was able to get right to sleep.  I, however, was still going from adrenaline and couldn’t mellow out for hours.  Today is going to be a mellow, recovery day for all of us.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


No, catch-up.  This week has been a catch-up week for sure. After a week of sickness, it seems that there is a full week of work to get things back in order.  I have been catching up on laundry, housework, learning with the girls, exercise and also taking on some of the household tasks that come with the transition to chilly weather.

Speaking of chilly weather, our foliage  is pretty close to peak colors and there’s a blazing brilliance everywhere you look.



I also know that in a few weeks, the Autumn wind will come and blow the leaves off of the trees and we’ll begin the season of gray skies and bare trees.

This week, we have started implementing Notebooking into our homeschooling.  I had read about Notebooking here and there, but I didn’t realize that there were so many free notebooking templates available on the internet. I also didn’t know how to tie it in with the other learning we do on a regular basis. 

One morning last week, the girls noticed a pine tree outside that had steam curling off of the bark as the morning sun was warming it.  It was a perfect opportunity to try out notebooking with a Science lesson that wasn’t part of our Science books.  So, Kaya and Nico drew what they saw on a notebooking page and then explained the process they witnessed. Both girls enjoyed the format of the Notebooking pages and the cobination of drawing and writing.

We plan to keep one Notebooking binder for each of the older girls, with dividers between various subjects. We’ve also recently started doing Artist Studies.  I hope to cover at least 2 famous Artists each month.

Our first Artist was Vincent van Gogh. I found some Notebooking templates for Artist Studies and also printed off small samples of  some of van Gogh’s work.  The girls did some research with books and online and filled in facts about his work and life.



Kaya and Nico also drew their own art in the style of van Gogh and we watched several videos we found online about him.  We’ll continue this Artist Study with a few related books (in my sidebar) and another video.

When we’re finished studying van Gogh, I will have the girls choose the next artist they’d like to study.  Nico has expressed interest in learning about Michelangelo or Botticelli.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On The Mend

It has taken the better part of a week, but most of the family seems to be on the track to wellness.  I’ve debated back and forth as to whether we came down with a version of the flu or just a harsh virus, but it hit Kaya the hardest yesterday.  She spent nearly the whole day on the couch and was very spacey.  We tried listening to an audio book at one point and about 20 minutes into the story, she got weepy because it didn’t make any sense to her.

Nico was at her Mom’s this week, but she was also very sick and laying around up until this morning. She back home now and seems to just have some minor symptoms left.

Weeks like this make me thankful, yet again, that we homeschool.  There isn’t a looming pile of missed work to make up, we’ll just get back on track when everyone is well again. I’m thinking that will be tomorrow for Nico and probably Monday for Kaya, but we will play that by ear.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Flip Side of Socialization…

…is sickness.  We’ve been battling a few different types of sicknesses these last few days.  I think it is time to get everyone back on the regimen of taking vitamins and Echinacea  now that we’re getting back into all of the homeschool activities.

We will be missing our Story of the World class this afternoon, so we will have to try to cover the material we’re missing at some point during this week.  I didn’t have time to blog very much last week seeing as Nico was here with us all week while her Mom went on vacation.  Now that Nico is in 6th grade, we end up devoting between 3-4 hours per day on all of the subjects she needs to cover. Kaya is in third grade and can usually finish her work in 2 hours and I set aside at least an hour a day to work with Luna on “pre-school” type activities. Having Nico here all week is a wonderful blessing, but also requires me to put a lot more time into planning, implementing and recording what is covered for each subject.

This week, I hope to nurse everyone back to good health and work on boosting immunity. I hope my readers are all healthy and enjoying the brilliance of Autumn.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More September Fun

We’ve had a lot of fun since our homeschool co-op and various classes started up recently.  This week’s Story of the World class featured a great (and messy) activity ~ Cave Paintings!


Then on Tuesday, we visited Parson’s Pipe Organs with our co-op group.  It was a very interesting field trip, where we all learned how a pipe organ works as well as how they’re designed and built.

HPIM1801 Checking out the working model of a pipe organ.


We were shown what “pulling out all of the stops” really means.



Then we got to check out the Design Room.

HPIM1808 This amazing, two-story organ frame was probably the coolest part of the tour.

HPIM1813 Before we left, everyone got to pick a pipe to bring home!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If We Could Walk with the Animals…

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to volunteer at a little Petting Zoo down in town.  I thought it would be good for the girls to help out during a fund-raiser and it was great fun for everyone. They had all sorts of sheep, goats, bunnies, chickens, ducks, miniature pigs, guinnea hens, and even pony rides. 


Setting up before the crowds set in.



Kaya with some baby goats.



Luna loved feeding Red.



They also had little presentations about different animals.



Nico was excited to see a friend she hadn’t seen in quite a while.


HPIM1781 For the last hour that we were there, Kaya carried around a sweet, little black and white bunny.



Right before we left, Kaya and Luna got to take a Pony Ride. Nico proclaimed herself “too big”. Unlike some of the other Pony Rides we’ve seen at events, these ponies got plenty of time to rest in the shade between rides.  Lune was ecstatic and talked about her ride the rest of the day.


All in all, it was a gorgeous September day and everyone had a great time!

On Thursday and Friday, I continued with the 30 Day Shred and found each day to be at least a little bit easier.  Some of the moves, like the anterior lunges, really put me through my paces and  by the last round I feel like I want to stop and rest, but I have been pushing through. I took a Recovery Day yesterday, because I had read that it is recommended and I had really been pushing myself over the last week.

I have noticed a few more positives that have come with working out this month.

  • When dealing with a very disappointing and stressful situation on Friday, my first reaction wasn’t to raid the cupboards for something sweet. Instead, all I really wanted to do was go out for a run and clear my mind.  I just did a quick 1/2 mile but it helped tremendously.
  • While I am, by no means, going on a diet, my eating habits have changed all on their own.  After putting my body through its paces, I am naturally making better food choices throughout the day.
  • I had been going through some pretty serious PMS symptoms over the last year, extreme moodiness and agitation for a week beforehand.  This month,  my cycle pretty much snuck up on me. Woohoo for that!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catching Up From a Busy Week

Today, I have decided that we’re going to stay home all day.  It has been a fun and busy week full of great activities, but my house has suffered from the schedule and I hope to whip things back into shape.

On Monday, we went to our first Story of the World class.  A very ambitious homeschooling Mom from our area is teaching the class and I can already tell that Kaya is going to get a lot out of it.  This year, they will be covering The Ancients. I will admit that History is probably our weakest subject and this class seems like it is already inspiring a deeper interest in all things Ancient.

On Tuesday, we had our weekly homeschool co-op. Kaya’s favorite class so far is American Sign Language and she practices every day.  It is sweet to see the pride in her face as she shares her newly learned words with Jay when he gets home from work.


I took this picture during gym class and love the combination of the action and the scenery.  We live in such a gorgeous area!

Yesterday, we were invited to a mock archeological dig which was very fun!  The kids had a great time unearthing some treasures that were buried, and then they cataloged their artifacts into different categories.


Again, the scenery is just amazing.

HPIM1767 HPIM1765


What a great learning opportunity!

On the workout front, I tried the 30 Day Shred for the first time yesterday. I started with Level One, as is suggested, and it was difficult enough that I had to stop and rest a few times, but it didn’t kill me! The push-ups were tough.  I admit that even the modified “girly” push-ups were really challenging for me, but I kept at it and did them all.  My armpits are sore as heck this morning and I’m not quite sure how I am going to do it today, but I am going to try! I can tell the ab moves really targeted some neglected muscle groups because when I cough I can feel some core muscles that I never even knew existed.

All in all, today is day number 17 of working out seriously.  For years I had wrongly assumed that because I am moving pretty much non-stop most days (such is the life of a Mom) I was getting in enough exercise.  Wrong. The truth was, I was very out of shape. I have a long way to go, but in these last 17 days I have felt amazing changes, not only in my body but in my mind. I haven’t weighed myself because I am not interested in the numbers at all, but I have increased my stamina and strength.  I have a sense of accomplishment and a motivation to live healthier. Even though I seem to be sore on a daily basis, I have WAY more energy and focus than when I began.

Today’s plan is to regain control of the house and to get day two of The Shred done while the girls rest. Then, I may even take an hour to just lay on the couch and read. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Back to School Picnic

Though the morning started out grey and rainy, by the time we gathered for our Not Back to School Picnic, the sun had come out and it was a lovely day!


The kids started off with a game of Tunnel Tag.


The rock pile was like some sort of Kid Magnet.


The kids were able to pet and feed a pair of cute sheep.


Miss Hannah offers up some pellets.


Luna says she likes she sheep better than the steer because “them steers had slimy noses!”


This is one of the two steer on the farm.

HPIM1728 Kaya snuggling with her little friend.

HPIM1729 Nico and Nancy taking a walk up a trail.

HPIM1730 The kids enjoyed climbing up a large hill.


More fun on the rock pile.

It was a great time, we stayed for hours and the kids played while the Moms got to chat.  I met two new Mom-friends there and I look forward to more gatherings with this awesome group of people!