Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Victory

I love to read and I want my kids to love reading too. From the time they were babies I have been reading to my kids. It's my favorite part of the day. I love to snuggle up and read with all my babes next to me.

Nothing makes my heart soar like seeing one of my kids sitting down with a book immersed in it. The quiet it provides is an added bonus!

Mr. P is a reading machine. He likes to read entire series of books. He's read the Harry Potter series....twice. Then he discovered the Percy Jackson books and he loved them. He also read that series twice. He often has two books going at the same time....not literally the same time but he will read a few chapters of one book at school and then a different book at home. I cannot do that. Too confusing. He also likes to read comic type books like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, etc.

I've been working with Moses to get him reading chapter books for about a year now. He is a very capable reader....he scores above grade level. He spends a lot of time reading and always reads in bed before going to sleep. He was getting lots of practice but wouldn't do chapter books. All last summer I spent time suggesting books to him, having the librarian suggest books, having former teachers suggest books. We would check them out but he had little interest and wouldn't finish them. I tried many of my mommy tricks....I'd read a chapter out loud to get him interested, I begged, I cajoled, I bribed. And finally his teacher this year said he HAS to do it. So, she and I picked a book....made him read it....made him take a test on it.

After that....still no interest....and then....he decided to read the first of the Harry Potter books. It is above his reading level but okay I thought....give it a go! He spent a few weeks with the book and went about 20 pages before deciding not to read it. Ugh!

But then...a magical thing happened. He checked out at school the first in the Percy Jackson series. I wondered if it was too hard. It also is above his reading level. But the magic happened and he loved the book. Suddenly I couldn't get him to answer me....he was too engrossed in this book. He was reading ALL THE TIME.

Then the best part happened. He went to school and took the AR test on the book. It was a big test....for a big book. He passed with 100%!!!! Wow!!! Then the next best part happened. He immediately checked out the next book and began furiously reading it!! He's now on book three and I have one thing to say.....

This is a VICTORY for me......okay....and him.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Gingerbread Houses

One more Christmas thing I wanted to share. The kids and I built Gingerbread Houses one afternoon. It was really fun!

I searched Pinterest for ideas. I really liked the small little house that you make using a milk carton...like the school lunch size of milk carton. But, I didn't have any of that kind and with sick kids I couldn't go to the store. After searching I found a site that gave great tips for using graham crackers and how to cut them. Tip: Use a bread knife and gently saw back and forth to make a cut. It works great for the end pieces to create a roof pitch! I also looked up a recipe for frosting that turns to glue...really strong...Royal Icing.

We laid out the pieces on little bits of cardboard that I cut from our recycle pile.

One thing I WISH I had done before we began is to cover the table with newspaper. Ugh! Frosting Glue Galore!! Big mess.

We made two different shape houses, one long and one short. Each kid picked what they wanted to make. I helped pipe the frosting onto the seams and then stand the walls up into place. In hindsight I should have assembled all the houses ahead of time and then just had the kids decorate them. That's the part they really wanted to do.

After assembling the houses we went and watched a movie while they dried. 

Then, candy time!! Lots of fun candies to use.....and eat. 

I was surprised how long the kids worked on their creations. The had a great time!!

In case you notice Mr. P missing from the photos....it was a sick day for him. 

Ta-da!! House done! Our little village. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sis is 7!!

Sis has a birthday that lands just after Christmas. This year it's the big 7!! My baby girl! Breakfast was yummy strawberry pancakes with whipped cream. Delicious! 

We took the kids to the movies and saw the new Penguins of Madagascar. It was really fun to get out of the house.

But...as I posted earlier it was a bit too soon for Moses and he came home not feeling well. That night we had plans for dinner out. Moses ended up staying home from dinner. Aunt Cinn was also sick so she stayed with him. 

Side story: Moses was really soundly sleeping when Cam woke him and told him that Cinn was staying with him. While we were gone he woke up and didn't see anyone home. Cinn was downstairs resting. I felt like the WORST parent EVER when he told me this. The second we got home I was called into the bathroom as Moses was vomiting. Got that handled and then 20 min. later George decided to copy him. Yike!

Okay, back to Sis and her bday. We went out for fish and chips and burgers. Rootbeer! 

This year Sis got to have her first "kid" party and invite some of her classmates. She chose to have her party at the gymnastic studio. 

Sis picked Frozen as the theme of her party. So fun!

She helped me make the cupcakes.

The snowflake cupcakes turned out really cute. She loved them.

Special water for the guests.

We found this cute goody bag on Pinterest. 

The kids had so much fun. The favorite was jumping into the foam pit. 

Happy Birthday Sis. You are my sweet girl and I adore you. You put the sparkle in our family....literally. You have a loving heart and are a very kind and good friend to kids at school. You are BUSY and WIGGLY and LOUD...you are EXUBERANT. Sometimes you are shy and quiet. I love all of these things about you. I love to cuddle you and I really love to laugh with you. Your sense of humor is very...shall we say...potty humor....and you can get me to laugh at it too. I admire how much you love animals and how you have a connection with them. I love your beautiful voice and am amazed at your memory of songs and the tunes. You are a beautiful girl and I'm glad you are mine. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Christmas Cheer

Amidst lots of sickness over Christmas there were some fun times too. I discovered this yummy drink recently so I bought the ingredients to make my own. I was suppose to bring these along on Christmas Eve but since we stayed home I make up a batch for myself. Yum! It's Vodka (I put it in the freezer to get it nice and cold), red ruby grapefruit juice and a splash of cranberry juice. I put in a shot of vodka and then eyeballed the juice, add ice cubes and shook it up in my shaker. Pour into a martini glass and it's delicious! 

My favorite thing about Christmas is my dishes and I got to use them. Love! The table cloth was my grandma's and my dad made me the candle holder in the center of the table. It's made from one of the wine barrels from his winery. Even sick people should eat in holiday style!

I finally remembered to take a group shot of our guests on Christmas day. We are a fun bunch! 

The other fun thing was these two playing and playing and playing...in the midst of all the sick kids. They were oblivious that anyone was sick. They had a lot of fun playing dolls, and Barbie and dress up!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sickest Christmas Ever

I had mentioned in a previous post that we had lots of sickies over the holiday break. It was a whole lot of sickness!

It started in the 3rd week of Dec. when Cam got really sick. Fever, aches, chills, sore throat, bad cough, congestion. He was terribly sick....missed three days of work kind of sick. He never misses work. At the same time I had a bad cold but nothing like Cam had going on. 

We had to miss his work Christmas party because he was too sick and worn down. I was really bummed....ie: new red dress, new shoes, fun night out. Bah! 

Then a few days later George got sick with fever and cough. He was bummed and had to miss a Christmas gathering at Nana and Grandpa's house. 

A day or two after George got sick it was Tuba's turn to be sick. Bad! He was so ill that he laid on this window seat for 8 hours straight. He would NOT get up....he barely moved. Again, fever and cough. 

My dad and step mom were scheduled to stay with us for two nights in the midst of this. Cam advised them to skip our house and save themselves. They dropped gifts on the porch and blew kisses.

We had fun plans for Christmas Eve to spend with our dear friends. But, with sick kids we had to cancel. Bummer! We stayed home, had snacks and yummy drinks.

Next up to be sick was Moses....and shortly after was Mr. P. Now, I can't remember days or exact time frames because it was total chaos at our house. While all of this was going on we hosted Cam's sister and her family. Our youngest niece is 1yr. old and she was sick too. She arrived not feeling well and quickly progressed into pneumonia. Very scary! However, with medication she improved quickly AND she was all smiles and happy the entire time. Amazing!

We thought the fevers were behind us so we ventured out of the house on Sis's bday for an afternoon movie. During the movie I looked over at Moses and could tell his fever was back. Ugh! We came home and he went to bed. 

During all the fever sickness I had a terrible tummy ache and threw up Christmas night and then several days later Moses and George threw up too. Aunt Cinn suffered with a terrible tummy ache all night but held tough.

After our company left town the fevers were gone, nobody else had thrown up and we thought things were good. Then George woke up with a screaming bad sore throat. Off to the Dr. to find out it was strep throat.....followed the next day by Mr. P. 

At this point I burst out hysterically laughing. Seriously?! What else could I do?! We had over 3 weeks of sickness. At least one person was sick each day....some days several people were sick. 

Luckily nobody else got the strep. Amazing! The boys are done with their antibiotics and all is well.....today. 

This was the LONGEST and most unrelaxing holiday break of all time. 

If you were keeping count you might have noticed that Sis was the only one untouched. She has the most amazing immune system. It should be cloned!!

And in case you think I'm complaining....I'm not. Throughout all of the craziness and sickness I was constantly thankful it was nothing worse. Thankful that I was well and could care for the kids. Thankful we were all together. And then....I was REALLY thankful to send them all to school!

Happy New Year!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Big 44

In the midst of the holiday hubaloo....I have a birthday!! I LOVE my birthday! I plan a day of fun things that I love and enjoy every minute of it.

After dropping the kids off at school I went and had a manicure AND pedicure. It was so relaxing and so fun. I think it will be a new birthday tradition! After that I did a wee bit of shopping and then picked up George at school.

I asked him if we should go out to lunch or have a special lunch at home with my Christmas dishes. He opted for the lunch at home and I was glad.

I adore my Christmas dishes....in fact they are my favorite thing about Christmas. Yep!

George had recently poured himself a cup of water in one of my snowmen mugs and at first reprimanded him for it. He reminded me that IT'S CHRISTMAS and that's why we should use the dishes. Of course he was right...I just get a little protective about my dishes. My bad.

So, we made a delicious lunch of cheese and crackers, smoked salmon, veggies and dip, apples and hot cups of tea. We ate in the living room at the coffee table. That is a big deal to the kids who are not allowed to have food in that room. We snuggled and ate and looked at the tree. It was VERY VERY special.

After the kids and Cam got home we headed out to our favorite restaurant for birthday dinner. Yes, my birthday was all about food. Yum.

We had a fabulous dinner and drove around looking at Christmas lights on the way home. The day went by too fast but it sure was fun. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

O Christmas Tree

Another holiday tradition we have is we go as a family and cut down our Christmas tree. To tell you the truth I'm never very excited. Sorry! It's part of my Bah Humbug Disease. It's a ton of work getting all the decorations out and the lights on the tree always give me a problem. Have Cam do the lights you say.....ummmm no. You see I am a control freak and I like the lights a certain way. That way is neatly wrapped and evenly spaced with multi color AND white lights...not the creepy bluish white lights but the old fashioned warm white lights. 

Cam always pulls my complaining self into the van and out to get our tree. He's all Fa-la-la-la-la and I'm all...well, you know. Bah. 

PS the photo above really cracks me up. Sis is posing and Cam is hunched over cutting the tree by himself. 

This year I decided I would embrace the outing. I vowed to not care so much about the PERFECT tree. You see, we usually walk around for about an hour while Cam and the kids suggest tree after tree....after tree and I veto all of them. This goes on until all the trees look the same to me and I start to get dizzy from whipping my head around so much. The kids run off some energy and Cam maintains his Christmas cheer and fake smile while allowing me to be indecisive. As a side note Cam once told me that if he could change ANYTHING about me it would be my inability to make a decision. Poor man. 

Okay though....it's HARD to find the "right" tree. Seriously! But, the photo below is me NOT CARING if the tree is perfect. Look at all those trees. It would help me A LOT if there were less trees to choose from...how about three. That would help.

I picked the tree in under 10 minutes. A Christmas Miracle. 

Then we packed back into the van (we have to drive the little van so we don't scratch our newer bus-van) and wait for Cam to pay. 

Candy canes are part of the tradition too. 

After tying it down we head off home with Christmas tunes blaring. I do like that part. 

Once home Cam brings the tree in while I get the area prepped. Then....all chaos ensues as I put on the lights and then all six of my elves ram ornaments onto the tree at warp speed help me decorate the tree. 

Once the tree was done (and I had re-arranged all the ornaments) I was convinced that next year I will go back to looking for the perfect tree. Yes, our tree was pretty but it was a bit small and misshaped. How did I not notice this at the farm. Oh yeah...I was too busy being Easy Breezy. 

Okay, okay...it was a lovely tree. My favorite part is the ornaments the kids have made over the years.  And Sis and George had fun making some more and taping them to the tree this year. It added an extra special flair that made me giggle. I loved it. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seeing Santa

One of our yearly traditions before Christmas is to take the kids for a Santa picture. This was our 19th year getting the picture. I string them all on a ribbon in our hallway. It's so fun to look at all the photos side by side.

We have perfected how to do this without standing in a long line for hours. I call ahead and find out what time Santa's break is going to be. Then we arrive about 15 minutes before the break is over. We are always the first or second group in line. It works great! Santa is always so kind and Tuba really loves to see him. The photographer.....hmmmm.....are they all nutty? I don't mean all photographers but the ones hired to take Santa photos. Woo-hoo....crazy. Oh well, it adds to the fun of the day.

We all get dressed up for the occasion too. Tuba was going to wear a tie so the other boys wanted to wear a tie too. Very festive and fun!

Then we traipse through the mall (dodging shoppers) and head out for dinner. Burgers and fries!! Since it's early for dinner there is no wait. We like a nice loud restaurant where we can be ourselves....loud.

The kids color and play Tic Tac Toe while Cam and I visit.

After dinner we stop at our favorite candy store, See's and get some chocolates for the road. Yum! Dark chocolate covered almonds are my favorite...or maybe the s'more candy. Ohhhhh.....

It's a fun day out!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Slice - Let It Snow

The Slice

We had a snow day awhile back....way back before the Christmas busyness. But, I wanted to post the pics. I thought I'd just intersperse the photos on today's post.

Outside My Window - Foggy mist that's burned off some. I can now see the water and the sun is just starting to come through. Just in time for it to set behind the mountains. The water is still and there are a few boats out today. I don't see any eagles soaring today....they are my favorite.

From The Kitchen - It will be left over Mac n Cheese for dinner tonight. Yummy! It's Martha Stewart's recipe with sharp white cheddar and Gruyere cheeses. Delicious!

For after school snack we just had popcorn. I pop the kernels in olive oil and then sprinkle with a little coarse salt. It's the BEST popcorn in the world!! My friend Joy told me how to make it....so I call it Joy Popcorn.

I Am Thinking - About Spring. Do you start dreaming of springtime as soon as the new year begins? I do! I have a few daffodils pushing through the dirt and it's getting me so excited. Plus, each day is giving me a couple more minutes of daylight. Yes!

I Am Thankful - For healthy kids. We had very sick kids over the holiday break. More on that when I post about Christmas.

I Am Wearing - Black and grey running tights, lavender tshirt, purple pullover hoodie, hot pink socks and new black slippers. Cozy! And yes I did work out today and haven't changed out of my gear.

I Am Creating - Really I'm not doing anything creative. Before Christmas I made some fun Christmas pillows for the living room. The kids and I made pillows and little sleeping bags for some of their stuffed animals/dolls. It was a blast and they loved learning how to sew. I love sewing and wish I had more time to make things. I keep telling myself that I'm going to make the time. Perhaps now that the kids want to sew I will do it.

I Am Going - To a dear friend's bridal shower this weekend. Very excited! Sis will get to come with me...she is the flower girl.

I Am Reading - For book club I am starting The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I am also excited to read my new magazine....Country Living. I love magazines! I subscribe to Sunset, Real Simple, Cooking Light, and Better Homes and Gardens.

I Am Hoping - To take a yoga class next month. I am not a very flexible person and it really helps my tight muscles.

I Am Hearing - Sis, George and Tuba are painting with water color paints and chatting about our friend's wedding. The other boys are downstairs practicing piano and visiting.

I Am Planning - Our summer vacation....and hoping for a small get away for our spring break. Plans depend on finances.

Around The House - Things are getting back in order after the chaos of of Christmas and the holiday break. I have one tree still up. It's an artificial tree in my bedroom and it's decorated with my teddy bear collection. I thinking of leaving it up right through Valentine's Day. It has lots of red and white and th
e lights are so pretty...and what the heck....I like it.

One Of My Favorite Things - At the end of the day I love to sit and chat with Cam. We often sit in our room (he on the window seat and me in the warm cozy bed) and visit about our day. He really is my best friend and I enjoy our time catching up.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week - It's Cam and my 18th wedding anniversary this weekend. We are going out for appetizers and drinks to our favorite Thai place. Yummy! I'm really looking forward to a night out to celebrate.

A Picture Thought I'm Sharing - 


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