Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FHE….Ellie Style

  Ever since the kids were tiny, we've reserved one night a week--usually Sunday or Monday--for  learning the gospel and spending time together during family home evening (FHE).   We usually sing a few songs, talk a little about our week, then have a short lesson and a treat.   The lesson is not usually very long or very profound, but it is meaningful time we spend together week-after-week that brings our family closer together.

When the kids were younger, I went to great lengths to engage the kids in the lessons.  I used flannel board stories, puppets, and creative games to help make the learning more meaningful to them. As they've gotten older though, the lessons now  are more often iterations of lessons I've either heard or given to the Young Women or discussions about some topic that's been on our minds.  I guess we may have have gotten a little boring around here, because Ellie practically begged to take over the lesson yesterday.  We readily agreed. 

And believe me when I tell you, that things were a lot livelier last night than during our average family home evening.  We still had the sullen teen who kept muttering under her breath about all the homework she had to do, but the rest of the lesson was all dramatics and giggles, and I do not mean that in a bad way.

Ellie was the narrator, costume designer, and stage director for an amazing lesson about Esther.  
She had learned about Esther during Primary on Sunday and was so excited to share what she learned with the rest of us.  It was one of the most memorable FHE lessons we've had in a long time and made me grateful for inspired teachers who so lovingly prepare lessons for my kids each week and also for inspired leaders who encourage us to take time out of our busy schedules to devote to our families.  


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Big 1-2!

In honor of Adam's 12th birthday yesterday, here are 12 random facts about him:

His birthday cake…a mint chocolate ice cream cake made by Emma

1.  His favorite dinner is lasagna and breadsticks
He tends to love any pasta dish as well, but usually makes some kind of sandwich when it's his turn to make dinner.   In fact, he makes himself a fancy panini almost every day for lunch, which includes pesto, fresh avocado, cucumber, and lunchmeat.

2.    His favorite treat is apple pie
 …and his favorite breakfast is apple walnut pancakes.  For his birthday he requested chocolate mint ice cream cake, which Emma was more than happy to make for him.  She tried the tutorial on my food blog for buttercream transfers and ended up making it  gorgeous as well as delicious.   Lucky for him, apple pie season is coming up and he will get some at least a few times over the next couple of months.

3.   Has a scientific mind and loves to figure out how and why things work       
I can count on Adam to be right by my side whenever we have something that needs assembling or fixing.   In fact, when Glen was out-of-town recently, he just took over assembling the fire pit we had recently purchased.

4.   He is still our resident bird expert  
His second grade teacher lit a fire in him to love and appreciate the beauty of birds.   Although our entire family now enjoys birdwatching as well, he still is by far the best at identifying the different varieties of birds.  

5.  Wears shorts and t-shirts almost exclusively…no matter the season
I can get him to wear a jacket at least in the winter, but even when temps dipped into the teens last winter, he still wore his shorts and t-shirts every day.   The only time he'll wear long pants willingly is to go to church and on campouts.

6.  His favorite outfits are monochromatic (i.e. an orange shirt with orange shorts)
He doesn't do it as much as he used to, but for several months earlier this year, he would almost invariably wear green on green, navy  on navy, orange on orange, and black on black.

7.   Really enjoys fishing
Adam has really taken to fishing this past year.   He won a fishing derby earlier this year and really enjoyed all the practice fishing he got to do with his daddy in preparation for it.  Glen wanted to make sure I also mentioned the awesome rainbow trout Adam caught in Utah.

8.   Doesn't like changes in routine
Ever since he was a baby, he's been our slow-to-warm-up kid who needs extra time to adjust to changes in our routine.   The beginning of a new school year is always particularly a challenging time for him and this year is no different.

9.   He is the family rule enforcer
Whether we are about to cheat on a diet or someone is trying to skip out on their daily chores, we can count on Adam to point it out and keep us on our toes.

10. Has always needed less sleep than the average kid his age
BUT  he also is by far the grumpiest and most nonfunctional of my kids when he doesn't get his required amount of sleep.   We all pay dearly for his lack of sleep at scout campouts and late nights with friends.  

11. Loves to program our Lego robot to do silly and pointless tasks --like spin in a circle for 3 minutes or go up and down the hallway over and over again.   He actually is quite good at programming it to do functional tasks (functional for a toy at least) as well, but as per his scientific mind, his favorite way to use it is to experiment with it to see what exactly it is capable of doing.

12.   Enjoys reading the "39 Clues" book series
…and the "Harry Potter" series, the "How to Train Your Dragon "series, and the "Percy Jackson" books!

We love our Adam boy!   Happy birthday to you!  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homeschool Fun

Here's a glimpse of some of the fun we've been having in our homeschool this year...

Afternoon rounds of board games  
With all of their schoolwork done by 1:00pm most days, the kids still have 3+ hours to occupy themselves before the evening activities kick into gear.  We don't allow any tv or computer games on weekdays, so they read, write stories, tweak their Lego robot, play outside, play board games, cook, and in general find creative ways to occupy their time! 

A magic show
The other day Ellie and Adam put together a very fun magic show…complete with costumes, "stage" and curtains, card tricks, and disappearing objects!  I love how the kids have a strong bond of friendship with one another and genuinely enjoy spending time together.  

Fun Fridays 
This year we are trying to work really hard during the week, so that we can have more free time on Fridays.   Sometimes we still have to play a little catch-up on our work, but usually we try to go somewhere and do something fun!  A couple of Fridays ago, we met friends at the park!

Who says recess can't be fun when you're in middle school?   

Field trips 
Another one of our "Fun Friday" ideas for this school year was to go on more field trips.  Last week we met friends and learned all about honeybees!   It was actually pretty fascinating.  

Theater "class"  
A couple of my kids have been interested in participating in theater, but were intimidated by trying out without having any previous experience.   Luckily a couple of our homeschooled friends this year also enjoy acting in plays, so we've been doing little mini-productions.  

The kids are having a great time with it and really gaining confidence. 

It's especially something that Ellie and Emma enjoy.  

Out-of-town trips
In addition to Friday field trips, being homeschooled makes it much easier to go on out-of-town trips too!   We went to Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown last month.  I figure that the three days we spent there counted for at least a month of learning history from books!   

Tools made from bone

An old-fashioned needle (made from bone)

Throw the corn through the hoop

Making bread from scratch, which wasn't actually that novel an experience for my kids, since we make homemade bread at least once a week.

A Native American dugout canoe 

Adam tanning a hide and  a replica of one of the ships.

I'm actually a lot more organized with homeschooling this year than last year, which has proven to be both a blessing and a curse for us.  On the one hand, it's a relief to know that we're covering all of our bases by sticking with the plan each week.  On the other hand, one of my children isn't too fond of "sticking with the plan" day-after-day and week-after-week and lets me know that fact loud and clear.   Thankfully, each week has gotten a little better than the last, so hopefully we'll all be in a good place soon enough!  


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Visiting the Farm

What happens when a bunch of city-folk drive an hour through the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia,  and head to a farm for the day?    

Well, in this case, they had a {mostly} UDDER-ly great time! 

The kids bounced around,  

played with friends, 

went on a hayride, 

picked fresh apples straight off the tree, 

and in general just enjoyed being together in the fresh country air.
While it was mostly fun, there were a few hiccups with how they ran things that made me a little grumpy.   I even had a little melt-down at the check-out when buying our apples when the worker was rude and condescending to me.   We resolved our misunderstanding in the end and it was okay, but next time I think I will either stick with city-life or visit a much less commercialized part of the country! 


On another note, here's a cute picture of Ellie with Spencer's girlfriend, Erin, who dropped by the other day and became an honorary judge on our family version of Cutthroat Kitchen.   


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cami in Acrostic

C-lass of 2015!  She is thrilled to be a senior this year!  
A-CT score of 30!   
M-ath tutoring a 9-year-old little boy 
I- will miss her when she goes to college next year! 

R-olled her ankle during a cross country race last weekend
O-odles less homework than last year
S-tarted making her own shampoo/conditioner/laundry soap from scratch
E-xperimenting with making  new cupcake creations….today it was delicious cookie-filled cupcakes

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holding Down the Fort

A few weeks ago Glen had a business trip to Delhi, India.   

The trip took place  shortly after the school year started and I found that holding down the fort while in the midst of trying to establish new routines,  was challenging to say the least.   

Thanks to a  9-1/2 hour time adjustment to make and then a nasty case of "Delhi Belly" to deal with, he wasn't much more help when he came home.   He was barely functional for two weeks while his body recovered and literally just as he was barely starting to feel better again, it was time for him  to leave on another trip.   
This time to Utah with Adam to help celebrate his upcoming 12th birthday! 

They went to the BYU game where the quarterback broke his leg and BYU had their first loss of the season.   

They went on hikes in the mountains--to Bridal Veil Falls and to the Y. 

They went fishing at Strawberry Reservoir with Uncle Alex and Cousin Nicholas. 

It was a chilly, but very successful fishing voyage!

I daresay, even a dream come true for Glen.  

On Saturday they hung out with Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Tim, and Heather and watched General Conference.   

Then Saturday evening they filled the purpose of their trip by attending the Priesthood session of conference.  

On Sunday they watched conference with Glen's brother's family and took a hike at Sundance between sessions.  

Meanwhile, back on the homefront… 

I am still holding down the fort.

I've done all the early morning shifts, the late-night shifts, and the kid stuff…and I'm tired.    
 Thank goodness for Cami who can drive herself places at least.
This weekend it was just us girls (and a few cute visitors).  Friday night was supposed to be the ward camp-out, but it was cancelled for rain….and I wasn't disappointed by that.   That cancellation made for  a very laid-back weekend as we watched conference together.     
 We wore our sweats, put no make-up on, ate too much junk food, and just enjoyed being together while we listened to the words of a living prophet.    It was a good weekend for spiritual and physical renewal.  

Now I am staying up until the wee hours of the morning, so I can go pick up Glen and Adam from the airport.  Then I will sleep for a couple of hours and wake up in the slightly later wee hours of the morning to get Cami off to seminary.   

I may look a little bleary-eyed for the next couple of days, but at least Glen and I will be bleary-eyed together again!


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