Friday, August 25, 2006

We don't need no stinkin' sign language!

I posted last week about Emma showing us the sign for "All Done" so clearly.

But clearly today she was doing her own version!
She was playing in her yard peacefully (for the first time all week, I might add) and she picked up a blanket, tucked it under her chin in a snuggle and put both of her hands in the air.

Do you think she was asking to go take her nap? Well, she was and that's where she is now!

Monday, August 21, 2006

First Day of School!

We had our first day of school today!

So after the kids went to bed last night, I loaded the kitchen table with all of our books so they came down to big piles of books on the table.

Daddy made Cinnamon Buns for breakfast before he headed off to work.

I presented the kids with the school supplies in a schultuete - this is a German tradition (very big over there) where you can buy them and fill them with supplies or make your own. They had been bugging me for a week to "put their school supplies in their school boxes" so it was tough to hold them off to give them their gift.

So we went over each subject and what we were going to cover. They wanted to jump right in (Michael found a page 10 weeks into his math book and says "this page is cool can I color it right now").

We did our daily devotion (we are talking about Kindness because I couldn't find a kids daily devotion on Obedience, but trust me when I do find one, we'll move right to that!) and we did our Bible Story and then we did our History lesson for the day. They each did their History reading and I asked questions about their reading. They each practiced their piano.

Samantha went off bowling with friends in the afternoon and Michael napped. Emma did NOT nap and didn't all morning so it was quite disruptive to have her screeching all AM!!

Tomorrow we add in Handwriting and Math - the kids are chomping at the bit right now so I'm definitely going to capitalize on that. Next week we'll add in the rest of the subjects!

But all in all a good day!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Getting Ready for School!

We're getting ready to start school. But its different this year because we are homeschooling. We are starting our day tomorrow.

The kids are going to bed a little early because they have been getting up later and later and I want to get back into a good morning routine.

I'm giving each of the kids a little gift in the morning - a schultuete. This is a German tradition that I heard about this week and I think its neat. It is a cone, made out of poster board and decorated (ours are wrapped with wrapping paper). In this cone are their school supplies. So, its a fun little way to present them with their school supplies for this year. I'll be sure to share photos tomorrow!

We won't be "learning much" tomorrow - well not any more than a regular day. I'll spend most of the time introducing them to the topics that we are going to be doing. We'll look at all of our books and how the pages are structured. I'll show them how their assignments will be presented this year and what things I'll leave for them to do as "early work" if they want to in the morning when they get up or after breakfast before I'm ready to start. We might start reading a little History after that or doing a Math worksheet (they have both already asked if I'm going to leave them one out to do in the morning). I'll add a new subject each day until we are doing every subject. I wanted to ease into the routine a little bit until we figure out what works for us. And the rest of the kids in the neighborhood are still home so its that much harder. But we're ready to go.

Friday, August 11, 2006

All Done!

When Emma was about 6 months old, I started looking into Sign Language for Babies. I had always wanted to do that with my other kids and just never got around to it. I looked up signs for many of the most common "baby" activities and I would start doing them around her (eat, food, more, sleep, all done, etc)

Nothing seemed to stick. They did say that it would take months and I kept trying and trying, but nothing. So, eventually I stopped doing most of the signs - just fell out of the habit. Except for the sign for "All Done" - because it is so easy and logical. We tend to do it at the end of each meal when we are asking Emma if she is "All Done". This is the sign for "All Done"

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed Emma making a sign that perhaps was "All Done". I finally noticed earlier this week when Samantha was feeding Emma applesauce that she would take a couple of bits and then CLEARLY tell us she was "All Done" by doing the sign that she is doing above!!

So, she is finally learning to talk - if only with her hands!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Family Traditions (or Cereal at night, you choose)

I have talked several times about "family traditions" that have been continued into my adulthood.

One thing my mother likes to do (Hi Mom!) is to have a bowl of cereal as a snack after dinner and before bed. My sister does it from time to time to, as does my sister-in-law.

I like to have an after dinner snack - just feels like it finishes my day after I've gotten the kids down and done everything else that I couldn't get done during the day when they were awake.

Well, I finally hit the grocery store today (after needing to go for quite a few days) and had restocked the cereal. So, when I stared into the pantry tonight with the typical "What do I feel like tonight" look on my face, my eyes fell upon the new cereal boxes on the shelf and the decision was made - Frosted Mini Wheats!!

I think I inherited the gene from my mother!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

First Golf Outing!

Michael got his first set of "Real" golf clubs for his birthday (thanks Granny and Granddaddy!). We haven't had a chance to take him out with them, between school and trips and other things going on. Well, yesterday the schedule and the weather cooperated and Mike finally got a chance to take Michael to the driving range to "break in" his new clubs.

When they returned, I asked Mike how it was. He said, "Well, I *#&$". And, Michael needs to learn the difference between a golf club and a baseball bat, because he swings them both the same way!!

But, still, not bad for a 6 year old!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A sign she is growing up

You see and hear signs that your children are growing every day. Obviously at Emma's age, the changes are more often and more dramatic. While we were on vacation, she started using "two syllable" words - or more appropriately, "two SOUND" words.

I am no longer Mama - I am Mom-MEEEEEE. DaDa is now Da-DEEEE. Emily's dog is "Bel-wa". Today Emma said "wa-er" for water while driving by the lake at the front of the neighborhood.

Another sign that Emma is growing up is her ability to follow directions. She picked up my shoes and I asked her to bring them and put them in a basket. She did just that. She can (when she chooses) put something down when I ask, or stand up when I ask. She will take her paci out and put it in the bed when I ask her. It is, of course, all when she "chooses" to do so

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Countdown to starting school!

Now that we have completed our vacation, I am on the countdown to the official start of our first year of homeschooling!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Home - and tired!

Well, after a long day yesterday we finally arrived home. I spent the morning packing up all of our clothes and toys and things in Emily's house. I also had to put the carseat back together because I had to wash it the night before. After we got all packed up, we all piled in the car for the 45 minute ride to the airport.

Emma spent most of the car ride "screeching" - she really has a set of lungs on her and her screams are piercing. I should have known this was a sign of things to come.

We ate a quick fast-food lunch at the airport and proceeded to our gate. Unfortunately, when we got there, I saw the flight was delayed about 30 minutes - due to air traffic. I should have known - we could have eaten a more relaxed lunch. So, we hung around the gate area in case they made changes and finally got a chance to board. Emma was clearly tired and, unfortunately, she fell asleep pretty quickly. I say unfortunately because we were then delayed on the ground another 25 minutes - again due to air traffic. The pilot actually pulled over and turned off the plane while we waited.

So, we finally got into the air and Emma was peacefully sleeping. I got the kids set up watching a video on my laptop and looked forward to a few relaxing minutes. That's all I got. Emma woke up. And, she spent the rest of the flight screeching. I mean screeching. I think maybe the pilot didn't hear her, but I can't guarantee it. It wasn't really fussing - sometimes she was playing and laughing at me as I tried to quiet her down. She would be quiet for a couple of minutes and then start screeching again - turning it on and off like a switch. Finally, I brought up a picture of Mike on my phone and she smiled and looked at that. But didn't like it when the screen dimmed, so she would touch a button to get the lights back on - but I would have to bring the picture back up (and of course, she would yell at me to do that). That entertained her for about 20 minutes, but then she wanted the phone. Not really a problem but she didn't want to play with it while it was off, and she kept "on and off" connecting to things while it was on.

I'm sure the people around us were wondering what they signed up for when they got tickets on this flight - thankfully the plane is actually kind of loud so hopefully it drowned some of the noise out. I finally just had to ignore it because I couldn't do anything to stop it!

But, we finally landed 45 minutes late and took a quick walk over to baggage claim where we found Daddy collecting our luggage! Emma was quite happy to see him and never once demonstrated the screeching that had characterized our previous 3 hours!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Galveston - Moody Gardens

On our last full day in Houston, we drove down to Galveston. Emily found this neat "resort/conference center" called Moody Gardens. They have 3 "pyramids" that are different themed displays. We decided to see the Rainforest Pyramid. It was a really neat display of plants and animals found in the rainforest. We saw lots of different types of Macaws, which (I think) are my favorite birds because they are so colorful and have interesting personalities. There were also some beautiful flowers and plants throughout the display and I took this opportunity to experiment with some photo taking techniques - and some of the photos turned out quite beautifully.

We had lunch at a nice restaurant in the visitors center - and then we went to see a SpongeBob Squarepants movie in 4D. The technology has advanced so much in the development of 3D movies, and the addition of spraying water, puffing air, seat movement and other techniques really make you feel like you are in the movie.

After leaving Moody Gardens, we drove around Galveston Island to see some of the older buildings and the nice beaches. We then headed home - and again, Emma was asleep before we left the parking lot.

And, oh, by the way, the kids went hunting for frogs after dark tonight - and found 12 of them!! All Emily and I can say is "Ick!"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Houston Zoo

On what we hoped was the coolest day of the week, we ventured out to the Houston Zoo. I'm still trying to figure out why anyone lives in this hot state, and the trip to the zoo didn't convince me to move here!! It was cool, for about 45 minutes after an absolute downpour during lunch, but other than that, it was hot, sticky, sweaty, and humid. I was literally melting!!

The Houston Zoo is nice. It is a lot bigger than the National Zoo. We actually needed to plot our course on the map at the beginning to make sure we saw everything. They have a really neat kids area where you can see some animals more "up close and personal", such as the "pop up" tubes in the middle of the Prairie Dog hill. They also had an petting zoo, where you could visit with goats - although they ran under cover quickly when it started to sprinkle.

I think my favorite part of the park was the Primate display. They have lots of different monkeys, gorillas, chimps, etc. Watch this video of the gorillas howling - literally - at each other. It is pretty funny and could be heard throughout the primate display (it's a little long but worth it)

The Orangutans were sweet. There was a mother with her baby. For starters, the "man" in the cage was lounging against the window of the pen while Mama chased the baby around. The mother demonstrated many of the same behaviors you see in people - the baby tried to run away and she grabbed her ankle so she couldn't go far, she played rough and tumble with her baby - all for us to see - and then sighed and moved off when the baby ran off and she had to chase him. It was cute.

It was a very nice zoo - probably even better when its not 100 degrees outside!

We enjoyed every opportunity to view the INSIDE displays - even though the kids favorite one was the Reptile House. And I think the heat was too much for Emma - I'm not sure we were out of the parking lot before she was asleep in her car seat!!

And, I'll leave you with a calming video of the sea turtle swimming in his tank in the Aquarium.