Thursday, February 28, 2013

Update on the Nap Strike

The nap time strike continues.

Sometimes it is hard work, and our little friend can't help but let his eyes droop for a moment:

But despite the the hard times, he is DEDICATED to his goal!  He is not going to let anything like sleep get in the way of all the fun, fun, and more fun that he knows must be going on during his naptime.  I admire his desire to get the most out of life, but I sure wish he'd get a little more rest.  He looks so tired!  He's taken 4 naps (?) in the last 2 weeks, and they have all been in Grandma's bed or my bed.  I know that theoretically I'm in charge and I could just leave him in his crib... but what can I say?  He's an indulged fourth child.  And we love him that way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Typical Sunday

Three quiet reading and two busy on the iPad. We limit their iPad turns, but not their reading turns.

It's nice!  It's a break from the poking and shoving and hitting that happen on occasion.  Not too often, of course.  Ha!!

And Lincoln, although precocious, is not quite ready to read yet.  So he makes up for the children sitting still and moves as much as four children rushing around might:

Just another day in paradise... :)

Waiting For Ballet

This year Viva has been enjoying the chance to do dance class with her buddy Cassidy.  We carpool there and back most weeks, and it's always entertaining to listen to 5 year old conversation.  I'm used to all the little boys around my house, so it's fun to see what little girls interacting looks like!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yet More Brotherly Love

It's not bad being the youngest guy in the house!  Sure, there are some frustrations...but there is also a lot of affection!

Jake's Doggy Pics

Jake took some pictures at the Fur Rondy festivities too.  Quality pics, eh?!  (Actually... not bad for a 5 year old, I think!).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Valentine's Garland

Here's the garland I had my mini workers put together for me:

They do good work, right?!

Smiley Man

Evan is an amazing smiler.  He is always willing to flash his gumless grin and is kind enough to share it with all!  I think he was a bit of a distraction to those around us at church on Sunday; he was rather busy flirting with everyone in sight during Sacrament time!

This kid can be a little high maintenance at times, but it's hard to mind when he has such a cheerful demeanor the rest of the time!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fur Rondy Sled Dog Racing

Friday was the start of the three day dog sled race (The Open World Championship) that is one of the highlights of our annual Fur Rendezvous. I've taken the children to see the teams race for the past few years. We have our favorite viewing spot which is downtown, just a few minutes from the start of the race. There is a very steep hill at this spot and it's interesting to see the teams race down the hill and, if you're still there when they do the return loop, to see them go up the hill after having run 20+ miles. They do an incredible job, but occasionally a dog  slips and then the team gets tangled. Fortunately the mushers are all very adept at getting their team back on course.

We didn't make it to see the race Friday because the children were on the other end of town checking out a homeschool group, so we went on Saturday. Mark and I took the older four--yes, Lincoln got to come! We bundled him up like a big blue marshmallow because it was below freezing. He enjoyed the entire experience. I wouldn't say the dogs were the highlight for him, although he watched them run he was just as interested in the other spectators and what his siblings were doing.

What were his siblings doing? Part of their ritual when we attend the race at this location is to climb the snow banks and play in the snow. They made snow angels and trails and Viva climbed a tree. She got stuck because snow boots are not the ideal foot gear for tree climbing. (Neither is a pink snow suit. Who knew trees were so dirty? Blue jeans do a much better job of hiding the dirt.)

Viva likes to go to the sled dog races because she likes to get a hot dog. The boys opted for chips instead. We did not stay for the return trip of the dogs because Lincoln was turning into an ice cube. Next week we attend the unofficial start of the Iditarod Race where the boys want to add a bootie or two to their collection.

B, J, & V checking out the snow banks. 
They were not impressive this year like they were last year.

Lincoln, AKA The Big Blue Marshmallow

B making snow angels.

J was hoping to find enough chunks of snow to build a fort, but there just weren't many chunks to be found. The snow was fluffy and did not compact well, so no snowmen and no forts.

 Viva is our tree climber. You can see how her boot got stuck.

Lincoln had a hard time walking in his snow boots in the areas where the snow was trampled down, but the snow was too deep for him in the untrampled areas.

B was eager to race the teams when they came by.

Finally the teams started running! 
The dogs love running and I'm sure it's hard to pace them.

Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!

Check out how they run--three feet in the air at one time. How do they do that?!

One beautiful, eager team after another raced down the street. 
There were only 14 teams this year. 24 ran last year.
(Check out the incline on this hill!)

The top teams ran 24.8 miles in under 80 minutes while pulling a sled.
(The fastest a man has run a marathon (26.2 miles) is still over 123 minutes.)
These dogs are small, sleek running machines.

The last team ran by and it was past time to get the toddler out of the cold.
Lincoln's nose was so red! He would not let me put the scarf over it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Swimming & Skating

Last spring I took the grandchildren skating every week, but then the summer came and we shifted our athletic emphasis to swimming. I wanted the grandchildren to learn some basic swimming skills before they went to Mexico in the fall. We accomplished that goal. After they returned from their vacation in early November, the household was kept busy, busy with the Christmas season, house renovations, and the flu (yuck!). Two months flew by and we neither skated nor swam. Finally I took the leap and I purchased a new membership at the Dimond Athletic Club where they have two nice pools and your membership gives you free time on the Dimond Center Ice Rink. The children were ecstatic. We took them swimming quite a few times over the next month--when they didn't have ear infections. 

However, we did not get back to skating until this week after purchasing another month long membership at the club. At the start of the new school semester Kara had set some school funds aside for skating lessons, but we had not lined up a teacher. When you have three children taking skating lessons, you can hire a private coach to work with all three for the same cost as larger group lessons. 

I finally contacted a lady I had heard about through a girl we met last spring when we were skating. The coach agreed to meet us on Monday. It was a good plan except that the public schools were out for President's Day and so the rink was pretty busy. Nevertheless we were there so we went ahead with the lesson. Coach Ann brought some used skates for the boys that we purchased from her for a great price. (If you skate a couple of times a week, it doesn't make sense to rent skates at $3.50/session.) Coach Ann didn't have any skates in Viva's size. The children's first skating lesson went really well. They picked up some new pointers on how to skate.

The day after the lesson I spent hours scouring thrift stores and used sports equipment stores looking for a good pair of skates for Viva at a good price. I did not find what I was looking for. I found cheap skates at cheap prices and great skates at unbelievable (to me!) prices. $139 (marked down from $189) for a pair of skates for a five year old who will grow out of them within a year? No, thanks! Later in the week, I went back and purchased an okay pair of used skates for an okay price. (On Tuesday when I first searched for skates, I did snag a great pair of used skates for $6.50, but in a slightly larger size than we now need.)

I had hoped to take the kids back to the rink this week to practice the skills the coach taught them, but on Wednesday afternoon they left to spend the night at Grandma Karen's and on Thursday they had ballet and gymnastics. On Friday I checked the ice rink schedule and the pool schedule and headed off to have some fun with the trio. When we got to the rink there was a sign "No Public Skate Fridays." Huh? That's not what the online schedule said. ARG! We shrugged it off and headed over to the pool. When we checked into the athletic club, I saw a sign "Small Pool Closed." Seriously?! Turns out someone had vomited in it. The afternoon was not going our way.

The larger lap pool was still open, so we decided to swim there. We've used the lap pool before, but it's a colder temperature pool and the children get chilled swimming in it. We stayed a half hour when we usually spend an hour plus swimming. B, J & V told me they had fun, but they were too cold to stay longer. I agreed with them! We headed home.

All-in-all our first week of skating has not been as productive as I hoped, but we'll find a good rhythm in the coming weeks. (I have an added incentive to do so because I purchased myself a new pair of skates. They weren't used because it's hard to find used skates in my size, but $70 for new skates seemed like a bargain compared to the $139 that they wanted for skates in Viva's size. Obviously my skates are not competition level, but I'm not planning on doing any spins or jumps.)

From the Mouth of Viva

I overhead the following conversation earlier today, and it made me laugh.

Genevieve was in the dining room, and I had just told her to carry the laundry basket of dish towels into the kitchen so she and Jake could fold them.  She was half heartedly trying to pick the basket up off the side of the chair but wasn't really interested, and so she called out to her brother.

Viva: "I can't pick this up, come here Jake!"  Then... "Here, pick up this corner and then I'll help you carry it... or do you want to be a strong boy, and carry it all by yourself?"

Jake, of course, promptly picked up the basket and carted it off to the kitchen all on his own.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Young Suduko Master

We start 'em young on the brain teasers around here...

Evan is fascinated with the suduko board.  I think it's all the bright fun colored marbles, but since he doesn't talk yet I don't know for sure!

I like to think his presence is a valuable addition to the game.  And I'm sure he agrees.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prayer Time

One of the advantages of older siblings is all the information about how things "work" that is available for a little person to soak in long before his parents might think he's able/ready to understand them!  Lincoln is the best little prayer.  Whenever he hears the words "time to pray" he promptly folds his arms nice and tight and keeps them folded until we're all done!  He is very reverent (and cute).  He's great at meal time prayers, night time prayers, and anytime prayers!

The above picture was snapped at the beginning of Family Home Evening time earlier this week and provides a deceptive perception that there is something of the calm about our FHE time.  I wish that were the case, but I'm pretty sure that the closer it is to bedtime the more my children bounce off the walls. They have a master plan to drive me completely batty.  :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Play Time!

Lincoln has finally figured out the answer to a question I have pondered on more than one occasion - what on earth is to be done with so many Pez dispensers?!  He has found the container in the pantry that I keep them in and pulls them out every now and then to play with.  Last week when the older trio were off swimming with Grandma, Lincoln and Evan had some quiet time without the distractions of crazed siblings.  They "played" together for 20 minutes.  I had a glimpse of the great future playmates they will be and it was sweet to see!

Ocean Weavings

The kids are blessed to receive weekly packages from Grandma Vicki.  She is always sending fun activities, crafts, and books for us to do together!  Whenever another package arrives the kids jump on it and and eagerly tear it open to see what new fun there is for the week.  Lucky kids!

A couple weeks ago we received these cool ocean animals (and shells) and some strips to do some basket weaving with.  

It seemed too hard to convince all 3 children to pose with their creations, so I settled for having one of them present.

Thanks, Grandma Vicki!

Group Hug

Our Lincoln is very social and affectionate!  Every night before bed he walks around with his Father and says g'night to everyone.  He waves bye bye and heads up the stairs.  Lately he's been shaking up his routine and throwing in some great Lincoln hugs.  So, naturally, I insist that his siblings indulge him and give extra bear hugs... because I say you can never have too many hugs... and, of course, because I wanted to grab my camera!  :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Song School Spanish

I keep meaning to introduce some foreign language studies into our curriculum, and this past month I finally had the chance to get serious about that goal!  The kids and I have been trying  out Song School Spanish, by Classical Academic Press.

Song School Spanish is a very gentle introduction to the Spanish language, designed for the K-2 grade age range.  As implied in the title, there is a musical component to the program to make it more fun, and hopefully memorable, for the tikes  There is both a student and teacher's manual available as well as an additional card game you can purchase for more practice and reinforcement of the words learned.

How does the program work?  The book is divided out into 30 chapters and they are intended to be completed weekly.  On the first day of the week we pull out our book and look at the new vocabulary words of the week, and read the short lesson of the week.  We also listen to the new songs of the week while we follow along in the book to learn the words!  On Wednesday we pull our book back out and do a work page while we listen to the songs, and sometimes an activity too (there are puppet shows, stories, connect the dots, flash cards, and more).  Lastly, on Friday, we listen to our songs again (sometimes with crazy dancing from at least one or two of the children) and we fill out the "Show What You Know" quiz at the back of the chapter.

What I Like:

  • The program is designed specifically for young children!  It is hard to find good language programs aimed at this particular crowd.  I know because I'm always looking, and I find it odd since research has shown, time and time again, that foreign languages introduced at a young age do marvelous things for young brains.  Song School Spanish strikes a nice balance with their tone - it's not too cutesy, but it's still fun enough to easily interest the five year olds.
  • The songs!  Once in a while I catch my oldest humming them which must mean some of the material is really being internalized, right?!  :)
  • The additional mp3 pronunciation guide available.  Learning how to pronounce the letters of a new language correctly is tricky stuff, and I need all the help I can get.
  • The worksheets!  They are just the right length, and a mixture of fun (draw a picture of your teacher, for example) paired with practice.
Other Thoughts:

  • I think this program would be slightly harder to implement if I only had one child using it.  Many of the activities call for interaction involving multiple kids.  Not an issue for me, but it might be for others.
  • The scope of this program is rather limited - 100 words.  Along the way you do learn quite a bit about the Spanish language though - so if you keep in mind that this program is intended as a fun introduction to the language and not so much a serious study of it?  You will be happy with it!

In summary - we liked it!  I never had to cajole TOO much to get the kids to the table for Spanish time, and that is a strong point in favor of the curriculum.  I am looking forward to continuing with the program, and to also trying out Classical Academic Press's Song School Latin!  This program is a great first introduction to a language and is an "open and go" type of curriculum which I love.

Interested?  The student's textbook is $24.95, and the teacher's edition is the same price.  The teacher's edition is basically the same as the textbook with one exception.  The front of the book is the same as the student's textbook but with the answers to the questions from the worksheets filled out.  However, in the back of the book there are a number of great supplemental worksheets (40) and resources.  Can you do the program without it?  Yes, it's pretty basic and I don't think you need the answer key to grade your child's worksheets.  But if you're an overachiever (just kidding!) you will probably really enjoy the extra resources in the back of the teacher's edition.  The Spanish Amigo Match card game is $26.95, it's a fun supplement you can use to play Memory/Go Fish/Old Maid and practice your Spanish words from the textbook.  I'm considering purchasing it because I can't resist supplements.  You can get a bundle with all three products for $66.95.

Want to see what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought about the product?


**** I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jake and Baby Brother

Jake has a very affectionate soul.  Very affectionate and passionate... (Which is great when it's good, but bad when it's horrid... !!) One of the things Jake is passionate about is his baby brother Evan.  He thinks Evan is just the greatest little guy around.  I like his devotion, although I to try to remind him it shouldn't be TOO single minded!  :)  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Snapshots

Today, while sitting at church, I noticed that Bentley's hair was getting awfully long.  And then I remembered that a few weeks ago he requested a haircut, and specifically told me that he wanted the hair on the side of his face (sideburns?! LOL) GONE, as he told me "it does not look good."  I,  of course, promptly forgot his request.  Until today.  So after getting home from church (and making stew, brownies, and bread)... we got to work.

Lincoln hopped right up onto the chair and wanted to go first.  Who I am to say no to that type of eagerness, even in the face of my semi-competance?!  So here are 5 children and 5 pictures from our Sunday afternoon.

Viva, no hair cut, but she needs one.

Bentley in shorts because he forgot to do his laundry before Sunday... :)

Jake working hard on some type of Star Wars Lego ship.

Happy baby!  He did not get a haircut.

Napping Lincoln.  He consented to taking a nap in Grandma's bed.  In the war on naps he is definitely still winning.