Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet William

When I wake up in the morning, he greets me with "Would you like a back massage?" and then proceeds to give me one with those sweet little still-dimpled hands.  Oh, how I love this little boy!
I can't believe he will be six years old in just a few weeks!  He's gotten so smart and prides himself in doing his school work all by himself.  I got him the BrainQuest workbook for Grade 1 and he's ripping right through it - doesn't even need me to read the directions to him! 
He's also excelling in his AWANA class.  He's a Spark now, after two years in Cubbies, and is taking it VERY seriously.  He loves learning his Bible verses and tells everyone that when he grows up he wants to "teach people about God."
Because he's the third boy, he is constantly clamoring for people's attention and he's learned how to get it.  Last night we were at a Halloween party and he kept randomly hugging all the grown women that were standing around talking.  Their hearts melted (and so did mine!) and they all thought he was the sweetest thing they've ever seen.  I agree!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Party: Snacks and Snakes

Our homeschool group held it's Fall Festival today.  It wasn't easy getting the kids all out the door by 8:30am, since they're now used to sleeping until 8am, but I did it!  They put out quite a nice spread of snacks for the kids but I'm glad I gave them breakfast before we went because it was mostly sweet stuff.
There was a woman who's a member of our homeschool group that brought in her three pet snakes and did a presentation for the kids.  She has two ball pythons and a baby (1 yr old) boa constrictor.  I learned a lot about snakes and how to care for them, but nothing that would persuade me in any way to even consider taking one in.  Sammy, however, was sold.  She mentioned a website where you can buy snakes and have them shipped to you, and he keeps perusing it.  Guess I know what I can get him for his "Thanks for moving out of my house" gift in about 10 or 15 years!

She kept talking about how "mild mannered" those ball pythons were. What the heck does that mean???
Once she finished the presentation, there were a bunch of games the kids could play.  William liked this one, where you build your own skeleton.  He played with this for quite a while.

Owen joined in at first, but then after a while I saw him sitting by himself in the corner of the room.  I went to ask him what was wrong and he sighed and said, "These games are really dorky."  He sounded SO MUCH like a teenager!  UGH!  I told him that wasn't polite to say and to not repeat it to anyone else, because one of the ladies worked really hard to put them together for the kids.  They really were geared towards the younger kids, but that's mostly what the homeschool group consists of; I would say 80% of the kids are under 8 years old, with a good portion of that under 6. 

Owen really wants to go back to public school.  He misses the interaction with kids his own age, even though I try to involve him in many activities including AWANA, the gym class, and hopefully soon, the swim team.  The thing is, he is the one who needs homeschooling the MOST because he goes virtually unnoticed at public school, while he stares out the window and literally learns NOTHING! 

Today we started our unit on South America and we (Owen, Sammy and I) studied the countries of South America for a few minutes, and then took the quiz on  The first time I took it, I scored 87% and that's where the bar was set:  they needed to get at least close to that.  Sammy took it first and scored 81% and then begged to go one more time.  He got 100% in 23 seconds.  Owen took it and got 54%.  I made him take it over and over again until he could at least score in the 80's, which he did after 3 or 4 more tries.  This is just to show that he really NEEDS more attention when it comes to school and needs to be pushed a little bit or else he will just coast by and be completely satisfied with a mediocre performance. 

So I will continue to do my best to involve Owen with kids his own age in sports and activities, but I also know he needs to be AWAY from other kids during school because he gets lost in the shuffle.  I think he prefers it that way.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Family Pictures 2013

It pays to have photographer friends, especially ones who will take pictures for pizza!  I had my friend and Something Blue associate, Elyse, and her lovely little family over for dinner this week in exchange for her taking our family portraits.  We haven't had family pictures done since our 10 year anniversary/vow renewal in 2011 and we ended up going back to the same park.  It's so beautiful there and the day was perfect - 50 degrees and sunny.  Here are a few:
Chris and his boys.  He couldn't be more proud!

Owen, age 10

Sammy, age 8 (supermodel material, isn't he?)

William, age 5

Luke, age 4

The boys held up pretty well, but after about an hour they were anxious to wrap it up.  Elyse is also a professional nanny and did a GREAT job of wrangling all of them.  They've gotten used to being allowed a couple of silly pictures and this one turned out to be one of my favorites of the day.  It pretty much sums up our life with four boys, doesn't it?

We also got a couple of Chris and I.  I think I look so old here, but I know in five or ten years I'll be thinking how great I looked.  Might as well snap a few photos of me at 41 while I still can.  Meanwhile, Chris is totally photogenic and makes 41 look really good.  It's really unfair!

Go Pack Go!

Last weekend, I crossed something off my bucket list and went here:
That's right: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.  One of my clients this summer gave me two tickets and I couldn't wait for October 20th to roll around!  As it turns out, a couple nights before the game I met up with an old friend of mine from the Grand Geneva.  She and her husband were going, too, and invited us to join us for some tailgating.  We got there a couple of hours before the game and enjoyed visiting with them. 
The experience of going to a Packers game is VERY unique.  We paid $10 to park in some lady's driveway.  Our friends paid $20 to park on a lawn around the corner, where you were allowed to use the bathrooms in the house while tailgating.  Everywhere we looked, there were people just walking around the streets with drinks in their hands.  It's as if the stadium was dropped in the middle of a middle-class neighborhood - it was literally a block from the driveway where we parked.  Very surreal.

Chris and I with Stephanie and Dan before the game. 

Our seats were great!  Row 17 and right near the end zone!

The polka song was a highlight.  Most people are season ticket holders and go every week.  They know all the people in the seats around them and probably have for years.

I zoomed in on this one, but was still really impressed by how close our seats were.
Thankfully, Chris watched the weather and bought us ponchos because it rained the whole time.  Nothing could put a damper on the time we had, though.  We're both so glad we had the experience!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Am My Mother

Those are the most horrifying words any woman can say...or a husband can hear!  But I now know that I really, truly am becoming HER. 

Last week I picked up this book at the library and was excited to dive into it...

But after I read the first few pages, things started seeming very familiar to me. 
 By the end of the first chapter, I knew it was true:  I had read this book before. 
And not a long time ago either - like maybe just a year or two ago. 
So I am now officially my mother.  She swears it's a good thing because she gets to see really good movies for the first time repeatedly.  Come to think of it, I WOULD like to see
"The Shawshank Redemption" again for the first time.  Maybe becoming my mother isn't
such a bad thing...for me, anyway.  I can't speak for Chris.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goodbye, Friends

We were so sad to hear the news yesterday that our neighbors are moving.  They've been renting the house next door for almost two years now, but their landlord is basically kicking them out because she broke up with her boyfriend and needs to reclaim the house for herself.  Since we've lived here, there've been no less than six different tenants in that house - some families, a couple of single people - and we've liked just about all of them.  But this family has been our favorite.
Zeke, the dad, is so wonderful with our boys.  I can tell he would love to have a son of his own.  He has whittled them little wooden guns, invited them down to the lake for bonfires and to go fishing,  and a couple of years ago made them a leaf pile that was UNBELIEVABLE! 

Shanda, the mom, works a lot but is such a loving and attentive mother to Ashlyn (age 5).  She had tried her hand at homeschooling Ashlyn last year for preschool, but made the decision this year to send her to kindergarten.  With Zeke working midnights, he was having a really hard time getting any sleep with having to tend to Ashlyn all day.  Shanda told me that once the decision was made to send her to public school, she had mentally made the commitment to stay in the house for several years because she didn't want Ashlyn to have to change schools once she started.  The plan lasted all of a month before this turn of events, so Shanda is pretty upset.
Then there's Ashlyn, who has been a wonderful friend for William and Luke.  She just loves my little boys and the three of them play so nicely together.  I got a few pictures of them today so William and Luke would always remember her.  I also plan on putting together a care package with a few pictures for Ashlyn to take with her when they move.

Both Shanda and Zeke have family in Knoxville, TN so they have quit their jobs and are driving down there on Friday.  They don't have any real ties to Wisconsin and figured if they are ever going to make that kind of a big move, now is the time.  We said prayers for them tonight that they will have a safe trip and find great jobs and a nice place to live when they get there.  I told Shanda that there's a reason this happened and that someday they will look back and know what that reason was, but that we will miss them terribly.  I do hope we keep in touch and are able to meet up with them when we go to Tennessee in the spring.


I had to spell "geocaching" repeatedly for Owen and Sammy, because they kept thinking there would be actual "cash" in it for them.  Not quite, but we decided to give it a try anyway.  Lots of people have told me how much fun they've had with it and my friend, Jessica, said she'd show us how it's done.  The "cache" she found was in Lake Geneva at the Four Season Nature Preserve, a park I never knew existed.  We went on Friday morning and there wasn't  soul around.
I considered not bringing Scrabble but he was SO excited as we were getting into the van, I relented.  I was so glad I did when I saw this large dog exercise area.  He was in HEAVEN!

Jessica brought her 9 year old son, Alex, and he was also glad I brought Scrabble. 
(Did I mention Jessica is a former bride who is now my friend?  I think that's so great!)

Being a native Wisconsinite, Jessica educated us on some of the plant life.  I was fascinated by milkweed, which I had never seen before.  Owen said it felt like cat fur.

Sammy got the "milk" on his hands when he went to open one and got pretty grossed out.

We finally got around to searching for the cache, which was supposed to be near an oak tree.  We** plunged into the brush, searching high and low for the green tin that supposedly held the treasure.
(**By "we", I mean the people in front of the camera)

As it turns out, we never did find it but we had a great time anyway.  Afterwards, we went to a greasy spoon in Lake Geneva and I had a delicious BLT.  Yum!
I told the kids I need to set up a cache inside our neighborhood so they can get the hang of it and then we'll try again out in the "real" geocaching world.

Gym Class

Thanks to our awesome county homeschool club leader, for the first time ever there is a recreation class offered to homeschool kids in our area.  We signed up for it for all four kids and it is designed to allow them to participate in sports in a group environment, but more importantly it's designed to give ME two hours alone on Thursday mornings.  It hasn't gone all that well so far, because of the four classes they've had I've had to take them to two.  Hopefully that will change and Chris will take them for the next six weeks.  This house is a WRECK and I could use that time to get it in shape. 
Last week, hoping it would be the last time I'd have to take them, I snapped a couple pictures.

They're so serious about their stretching!

Because there are kids ages 4 to maybe 14 or 15, they had to split into two groups.  The girl who teaches the younger kids is excellent with them. 

I had to bribe them with the promise of Slurpees if they were good at this week's class and they were.  And, of course, I enjoyed one as well. I deserve it, too, don't you think?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Interview

The other morning Luke and I were the first ones up and I took him to the living room and asked him a few questions:

What's your name?

How old are you?

What's your favorite color?

What's your favorite TV Show?
Ben 10.

What's your favorite song?
"Moves Like Jagger."

What's your favorite food?
Strawberries, peanut butter and jelly, and apples.

What kinds of things do you like to do?
Play with William.

Who's your favorite stuffed animal?
Tiggy.  (that's what he calls Tigger from Winnie the Pooh)

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Papau New Guinea.

Ha ha!  What other four year old would have that answer?  He's paying more attention than I thought while I'm schooling his brothers!

Natureland - Octobra 9th

This has been the most glorious week, weather-wise:  sunny and 70 every day.  Yesterday we went for our nature hike at our favorite park, Natureland.  The older boys posed for this picture and then ran off on their own.  I am starting to give them more freedom and independence and they love it.
I love that I get to hike with William and Luke...and Scrabble, of course.  He stays right with us.

Luke absolutely loves Scrabble. 

Inspired by this book, I collected leaves during the hike so that we could make our own Leaf Men.

This is my attempt at a Leaf Turkey:

William worked really hard to make his Leaf Man - he even had a hair-do!

Love that smile!