Friday, January 29, 2010

Rubber Ducky You're the One

It's that time of year again--time to dress up small rubber ducks as storybook characters. Our library organizes this yearly contest, and surprisingly, Riley was anticipating it--reminding me, before I even saw any announcements, that it would be time to get our ducks soon. Why she can't remember to put her dirty laundry away, but she can remember when the Library's Duck Days are, is beyond me. But that's beside the point. Here are our entries for this year (the links will take you to an Amazon page that will show you the book if you are not familiar with these classic storybook characters):

Riley made the Magic School Bus

Mary made Katy the Snow Plow

Cory made Tacky the penguin

Lucy and Momma made the Coconut tree, filled with letters

This is really a cute concept. And I, being a lover of all things children's books, find this activity to be a ton of fun--even if it does take me two days to clean up all the crafting mess when we're finished.

Of course, this IS a contest, and so there will be winners, but more importantly, there will be losers, and therefore tears. In spite of our long discussion prior to making our ducks, that being able to decorate a duck is the real prize, when it comes down to not winning the prize, there is some disappointment to process. A good life lesson, but 6 year olds don't appreciate that very much!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Family "FUN"

Not unlike a lot of families, we often play a game or two with the kids on weekend nights. Some of our favorites are dominoes and Monopoly, Jr. We've also had a good time more recently with Bananagrams and an I Spy game. Sometimes it's difficult, though, because the games that interest Riley and Mary are too complicated for Cory and Lucy (case in point, Life), and Riley and Mary get a tad bored with games like Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry-O. But things usually get figured out. Currently Mexican train dominoes is a favorite for everyone--Lucy is even able to kind of sort of play that game.
Why, pray tell, do the kids feel this is a good time to roll around and do various gymnastics moves? One or more of them is posing like this at any given point during the game...

drives me crazy!

One of our kids' favorite games is Family Fun. Maybe you've played this Cranium game with your family. Every once in a while we oblige their wishes and play it with them.

But I'm not sure why, because it usually ends up in an argument, at which point Ted and I like to call it the Family Fight game. And then, despite all the ruckus, we remind every one that we're supposed to be having "fun."

Even if Lucy's doing this in the middle of the game. Right?
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Monday, January 25, 2010

We Can't Thank Sarah Enough

Several years ago, Sarah was kind enough to give her Bitty Baby doll to Mary Beth shortly before we all met in Chicago to have a girls' weekend and a big trip to the American Girl store. A few years later Mary got her own American Girl doll and passed the Bitty Baby she called Lauren on to Lucy. Lucy can't say Lauren--she calls the baby "Waywar." It's an understatement to say she likes the doll. She absolutely loves her Waywar. This is how I found the two of them a few nights ago...
Aren't they just precious?
Thank you, Sarah. She is well loved.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tea Time

In school right now we're doing a unit study centered around the American Girl doll Felicity. Felicity is a fictitional girl living in Williamsburg, Virginia, just before the start of the American Revolution. Luckily for us, the stories start just before the colonists begin to throw tea over the sides of boats, and Felicity was learning the proper way to take tea from Miss Manderly. So, of course, we needed to have a tea party.

Just like Felicity, we had Queen Cakes. We also served scones, cookies and tea sandwiches. And of course, TEA! Riley made the Queen Cakes--and she did quite well. Hopefully, we'll have more to share as the unit progresses, and particularly later in March if we are able to make a stop in Williamsburg on our way to or from Florida. For now, we're having fun reading about Felicity and what life was like for her, and we're learning about real people like Betsy Ross, George Washington, William Penn, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Here's a parting shot of all the girls we had over with their dolls...look at those smiles!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter Fun

Another fun year in snowy New Englad for our children. They fully enjoy all the fun things you can do in the snow. The hill of choice this year for sledding is behind house #1 on the circle. Lucy especially enjoys sledding on her little sled.

When we're not sledding, the kids are usually building tunnels through the giant pile of snow in the middle of the circle created by their favorite guy, Mr. Plow (if there's a Simpson's jingle playing in your head now, I've done my job).
They also like making snow families and snow furniture. Below, Mary Beth relaxes in a chair she and her friend Elisabeth made.

And we had a lot of fun trying to build an igloo with the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it was too big, and they weren't able to close it up, so it became a pretty cool fort instead.

Ted insists on going out in the snow in his old desert BDU's...he figures if he can imagine being in the desert he'll stay warm. Good luck with that one.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Electricty, Electricity

Last year I bought this electrical science activity kit with good intentions of using it. Unfortunatley, it got procrastinated and forgotten until just recently, when Ted pulled it out on a cold Sunday afternoon to let the kids learn a little about electricity and circuits.

They all enjoyed closing the circuit to turn the light on. There will follow up experiments soon.

As soon as I can stop procrastinating!
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Saturday, January 9, 2010


Today was another Men's Challenge Event. Swords. I had a couple of swordsmanship instructors come in and teach us about swords. They brought in different kinds of swords and explaind their histories and origins. We learned about Oriental Kendo swords, German-broad swords, and even cavalry type swords of the modern era. They let us have some hands on time with the hardware. Above I'm modeling some of their artifacts with style.

After some instruction they allowed us to practice with some foam swords. These were stiff enough to swing, but padded enough to not really hurt anybody. We started with some one on one fights. The simple rule was any hit below the neck counted and you were out - next man up.

We worked up to larger team games. I saw lots of smiles. Towards the end, some of the guys were really getting winded, but they kept at it to support their teams.

I had a very diverse group, but the swords were a great equalizer. It's not about how big you are.

As usual I had some words to go with my Challenge. This time we talked about a modern day sword. Network connected/mobile devices. Just like the swords, you have to engage and work at tactics to make sure you don't let it detach you from your family or lead you/your kids into trouble.
The whole day rocked!!
(not sure what up with blogspot and the funny centering??)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Language of Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

This book provides techniques for husbands and wives to improve their communication. The text is a follow-up to the author’s Love & Respect written in 2004. The book breaks down communication from a male and female perspective. The book explains how to decode messages from the opposite point of view. The last section explains that Jesus’ words gave us a model for communicating in our relationships.

I enjoyed the book, but I would only give it an average review. I think the book was written to help couples with poor and struggling relationships. My relationship is in good shape and I walk away with only a few new things to add to my toolbox. My favorite part of the book is where Eggerichs suggests that your spouse most often has your goodwill in mind. Many times we misunderstand the spoken word, but if we would only slow down and consider that our spouse is trying to help us it would reduce or eliminate many disagreements. The chapters on Jesus’ communication are worth reading, and I believe they accurately reflect biblical truths. I would recommend skipping the early sections if you read the original 2004 book.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for the free book!

Monday, January 4, 2010

She's All Growed Up

don't forget--to fully enjoy the movie, scroll to the bottom and press the pause button on the music player

Here is the proof that Lucy is not a baby anymore:

1. The precious way that she showed us how old she was (I'm two with my thumb, as shown in the video) has gone the way of the dinosaurs. She can now hold up three fingers-- just this past weekend she proudly showed us how she could do it.

2. She potty trained in, oh, about a day. 10 years of diapers are now in our past.

3. She pointed out cribs at a store and asked if those were beds for babies. "Yes," I answered. But aren't you still one? I wondered.

I guess not.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

It has become a tradition for us to have fondue on New Year's Eve. As 2009 came to a close, we began debating whether we would do fondue, and, more importantly, should we invite someone to join us. At the last minute we decided yes, and yes. And if you know my motto, we only needed a minute anyway, so it was fine to plan a party the day of. We had a cheese fondue and 2 chocolate fondues. The kids only ate the chocolate fondue...

After the fondue, our friends brought over the PS2 Rock Band, and we all had fun trading off instruments and singing duties...
Mary's working really hard on the guitar
Cory beating on the drums
Ted strumming away. His favorite song was When I'm Gone by 3 Doors Down
And Riley and I had fun singing to the Taylor Swift songs
Afterwards, we played a little Disney Scene It and Charades before our friends left around 11. Then, my kids were determined to stay up until midnight. They wanted to see a stunt performer like last year. ESPN did not disappoint. Luckily, they let us sleep in Friday morning...