Sunday, December 24, 2006

Emma's make-believe world!

Emma is great at playing make-believe. A couple of weeks ago, Samantha brought up her princess tea set from the basement because she doesn't play with it anymore. Emma loves to play with it. She likes to drink pretend tea and "cookies" and she INSISTS on having a plate before she starts.

Today Michael gave her his bear to play with. She decided she wanted to color so the bear was going to color with her. She put the bear in the chair at the coloring table and put a crayon in his hand.

Right now, the bear is sitting in his own rocking chair watching TV with her - and she pats him once in a while to make sure he's ok.

It's very cute!

10am and done wrapping!!

That's right - I accomplished a feat never accomplished in this house, nor, I doubt, my mother's house either. I was done wrapping at 10am this morning. The only reason I wasn't done yesterday is that I spent the morning wrapping the presents that the kids picked out at 5Below, and I couldn't do that last night when they were in bed.

So, all the wrapping is done, and the baking done. We are now cleaning the house. The entire upstairs is vacuumed and the bathrooms are cleaned (Samantha actually LIKES to clean toilets and sinks so that is now her job). Main floors are vacuumed. This afternoon, we'll vacuum the stairs and the basement and dust all of the woodwork and we'll be in good shape. I like it much better when I have a CLEAN house for Christmas. Especially since the family room will no longer be clean as of tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Congratulations Larry!!

My brother, after working very hard for MANY years, has been announced as a partner with the Law Firm of Moore & Van Allen in Charlotte, NC. We are all very proud of him!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Nutcracker

Samantha and I went to see a production of the Nutcracker today. It was put on by the local ballet company - the Loudoun Ballet Company. They have been doing this production for years and it seems to get bigger and more elaborate each year. The costumes are bright and colorful and the performers are just outstanding. They never disappoint. It is such a nice tradition that we have established each year.

We'll be spending this week talking about Christmas around the world and doing some things to prepare for Christmas, such as making some snowflake ornaments and baking cookies. I think for once we are actually going to be ready for Christmas EARLY for a change!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Banner

Just for those who hadn't noticed, I have updated the banner at the top with the new photos of the kids. Enjoy!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mind your Ps and Qs!

That is the name of the drama production Samantha was in today. This was coordinated through our local homeschool group and this is her second play. Samantha seems very natural in these plays and I see some talent that could really be fostered.

This play was about Grammar. There was "Captain Grammar" and "Doctors" that were to fix all the "Grammatical injuries" being suffered by people. Then, several of the characters represented the grammatical errors.

Samantha played "G", as in "people keep dropping the 'g' off of words, such as comin' and goin'". She also played "Awful" because it is used an "awful" lot of times when other words could be used!! She then played "I" because I is often used as an object when it should be "me" - and yes, mom, I am guilty of this all the time, including in my previous post.

It was a neat production and fun to see the kids developing their dramatic skills!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Concluding our Weather Unit

We are wrapping up our Weather unit in science right now. The kids have been learning about all different aspects of weather. Along the way, we have built some "home made" weather equipment to see how they work, and we have been creating little booklets and other "craft" items about weather. Yesterday, each of the kids put all of their craft items together into a "lapbook", which is simply a file folder made into a fold out book that kids can build to learn about a subject and display their results. The lapbook we created for Weather is one that I designed myself based on what we were learning in our weather curriculum. It was fun to make and even more fun to see the kids eyes light up as they realized what they had created.

Then today, we took a special field trip. We went to the NBC station in Washington, DC and met the morning weather man, Tom Kierein. We watch him a lot in the morning as we determine what kind of weather we'll be having during the day. Mr. Kierein showed the kids all of his screens and equipment and how he did his weather broadcasts. We watched him do 3 separate broadcasts while we were there. It was a really neat tour. We also got to see other parts of the NBC studio, including the temporary news studio they were using while renovations were occuring in their main studio - we also got to see the main morning news anchors in action. We saw the control room where the producers and directors worked and controlled the cameras. We also got to see the studio where national programs, such as "Meet the Press" and "The Chris Matthews Show" are filmed. It was really neat to see. The kids had a great time and Mr. Kierien was really great with them the entire time!!

This was a great way to end our unit - but I'm just not sure I'll be able to live up to it when we finish our Astronomy and Oceans units.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Visiting Santa and Family Portraits!

We had a busy day today.

We went to the mall to visit Santa. Emma, just like her siblings at this age would have NOTHING to do with Santa. So, we have some Santa photos with Samantha and Michael, but none that include Emma. Maybe next year. Samantha took a nice photo of Emma and I during the time that she REFUSED to let me put her down!! Seems a little 3 year old girl was looking at her and she would have nothing to do with that!!

I took some nice photos of Samantha and Michael individually in front of the Christmas decorations. These will be their "school pictures" for this year. Emma wouldn't cooperate for photos at the mall, but I did take some nice ones of her in front of the fireplace after dinner.

We finally took our family photo in front of the fireplace tonight. Imagine how difficult it is to take a family picture with 3 children (yes mom, I know you are remembering) - then add into that the fact that I was doing this with a camera timer with the camera on a stepstool and a baby who won't sit still for 2 seconds. In the end, we got a couple of nice shots.

Another busy day coming up tomorrow - visiting the NBC TV station in DC to meet the weather man - Tom Kierein!

I color!

That's what Emma said this morning when I asked her what she was doing.

A little background. I have realized that I picked a tough year to start homeschooling - tough in the sense that this is the age where Emma is all over the place! Its tough sometimes to get some work done with the older kids while Emma is running around the family room because she is seriously into everything.

This is a busy week. My expectations are pretty low, work wise, because we have a visit to Santa, a field trip to the TV station, and Samantha's drama production all this week. I decided that the ONLY thing I wanted to make sure to accomplish today was complete the Weather lapbook that we have been building the components for. I'd like the kids to be able to take it with them to the TV station to meet the weatherman tomorrow.

Samantha was in the shower, Emma was gated in the family room, and I was at the kitchen table with Michael working on his lapbook. I didn't see Emma when I turned around so I said "Emma, where are you?".

Her response: "I color wall. I sorry"

She was over in the corner near the stairs coloring quite brightly on the wall going up the stairs.

I guess its a good thing that we have painted walls and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I needed to add one more Christmas tradition

This tradition has been passed from father to son for many generations and we have fully embraced it in this household, and it is...

... The expletives that go along with putting up Christmas lights on a Christmas tree.

My father did it, my father-in-law did it, and my husband does it.

Its a fond family tradition passed from father to son, generation after generation.

And it obviously doesn't restrict itself to real or artifical trees. This year, my husband contributed a few choice words to the fact that part of the lights on the PRE-LIT ARTIFICIAL tree aren't lit - because he can't find the plug.

Ah, the fond family memories we create!

Christmas Traditions: Old and New

We have many Christmas traditions in our family. Many are old; taken from our own childhood Christmases and many are new that we have started or developed over time.

We decorate the house to a "t" - with more and more decorations and lights every year (it seems).

We have Christmas Eve dinner with a dear family friend that we don't see enough due to busy kids schedules.

We wait until the coldest, snowiest, wetest, ickiest of days to go get our Christmas tree (Because after years of trying to plan and always getting bad weather, we've just decided to go ahead and plan for the bad weather because we know there won't be crowds!)

The Christmas countdown calendar was something that Mike bought a few years back. He pulled it out that year on December 1st, ready to "set it up" and start the countdown. I think it was about 6 hours later when it was actually "ready", after Mike cut out 25 different little shapes and glued them together and hooked on the strings. But, now its done and all we have to do each year now is hang it up on December 1st.

The Advent wreath is new this year. I don't know what made me think about it but I decided that as part of our homeschooling curriculum this year that I'd like to make sure the kids know the story of Jesus as well as the other Christmas stories that they can recite from memory. I'm interspersing Bible stories (from Luke, which has the best account of the life of Jesus) with Christmas around the world traditions, focusing on areas from our heritage (Germany and England) and our closeby neighbors (Canada and Mexico)

So, I scrambled this past week to find an advent wreath. After several calls to crafts stores, and numerous conversations with people who didn't even know what an advent wreath was (that's a bit sad), I found one at the Christian bookstore at the mall. BUT, they didn't have any candles.

And, my internet research shows that the meaning of candles has changed over the years and through the different religious implementations of the advent wreath.

We have 4 Royal Blue candles to signify the celebration of the birth of Christ. We will light another one each Sunday until Christmas Eve, when we will add a white candle in the middle to signify the birth.

This is our newest Christmas tradition

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Parade!

Today Samantha marched in the Manassas Christmas parade with her dance school. They wore adorably cute Elf costumes and danced to "We are Santa's elves" from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

As a piece of background, Samantha also marched in this parade 2 years ago. Let me share the experience of two years ago for contrast. Two years ago it took us 25 minutes to find the location to drop Samantha off, and we dropped her off with no coat, no snacks and no water on a day where it was about 35 degrees with the wind blowing. We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic and then drove down roads we didn't know trying to get to where we could watch the parade. We ended up at a good corner - right near the end of the parade - and across from a 7-11. That's a good thing. Samantha's location was number 104 in a parade of 112 entries. The parade was scheduled to start at 10am - and Samantha group launched AFTER 12:30. And did we know this from the other end of the parade? Of course not. All we knew was that we left her with no coat in the cold for hours. The parade was so poorly timed that at times there was 10 minutes or more between floats. The 7-11 was FULL of people because we needed to eat and use the bathroom after being there so long. Luckily we were able to bring the van up into the parking lot and mom and dad could sit in the van for a while until their performance got closer, because of course we didn't take any chairs with us. Samantha's group came through at about 2:30, if I remember correctly (because I have conveniently blocked it out)

Fast-forward two years.

We pulled into a parking lot right next to where Samantha's group was gathering (Mike was told he wasn't supposed to be there but oh well!). Samantha's teacher was STILL late in arriving (at 9:25, when she told us to arrive between 8:30 and 9am). But, she had warmer clothes and snacks and water. So, I left her with some other moms and we headed to our viewing location. I had pre-printed a map so I knew exactly how to get where we wanted to go. We went back to the SAME corner we used 2 years ago - but we were smarter this time. We parked backed into a spot so that we could see the parade route while sitting in the car. We brought the DVD player so the kids could watch videos until we got closer to Samantha's group. We brought our soccer chairs so we had somewhere to sit on the curb. We went into 7-11 early and got snacks, and while their bathrooms were CLEARLY marked with "Not for public use", I was able to get the nice lady behind the counter to let me in for Michael to go.

As the parade started, we watched the floats for a while. They were timed much better this time, although there were still some patches of "Dead space" while there was a group performing at the review stand just before us. But, they did a better job of spacing performance groups with floats so there weren't long periods of lapses.

As Samantha's group approached, I walked up the block so that I could see them perform at the reviewing stand. I got right up front so that I would have a good view of the dance and get some great photos.

And my camera broke!!

One of my children dropped it a few weeks back, just after we had gotten our other camera back because IT had been dropped.

I got the two shots of Samantha when we dropped her off and a couple of shots of favorite floats from the parade. But now I need to depend on the charity of the other moms, hoping they got some good shots of the performance and the marching with Samantha in them.

But, Mike saw a reporter talking to Samantha's teacher after the performance, so we are hoping they won an award.

If for nothing else, the wonderful costumes that were perfect for the occasion!
And it was just as cold as it was two years ago!

Friday, December 01, 2006

There's just something NOT RIGHT about this

Its December 1st and currently 72 degrees outside.

There is just something wrong with that. Very wrong.

It snowed in Dallas, TX yesterday, by the way.

But not here. Certainly not when its 72 degrees.