Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sleepovers, Cousins, Dress-ups, and Saving Diamond

There are so many fun happenings in our life that I want to remember forever - I'm so glad I've started blogging again!
Quite often, the above photo is what John and I wake up to in the morning. As John and I talked yesterday (which is something we love to do) we realized that some of the best times we've spent together as a family is during one of our "sleepover's". It's easier to read and discuss books as they're winding down for the night sometimes and it's easy to read for long periods of time this way too.

This last week we've begun reading The Element by Ken Robinson and The Swiss Family Robinson. Both of these books have led to some fantastic discussions. And it's funny how the kids (well, Tyra and Ethan anyway) are begging me to read The Element. It's an amazing, eye-opening book that makes us all the more glad that we're a homeschooling family.

We went to the Night at the Museum at the Hutching's Museum. The kids love it! Millie was a bit afraid of the floating foam dinosaur skeleton that swung around above our heads upon entering but daddy was there to protect her!

Cedric enjoyed standing by some fossilized dinosaur poop. Ty enjoyed holding an actual factual magnetic meteorite.

While there, the kids all got to pet, touch or see some sort of living species. From a bunny sitting in a fake pot over a fake fire (which John and I thought was so funny that they'd set such a scene up), to snakes, to a hawk - which Ethan even got to hold. Not very many kids got the opportunity to hold the hawk (or wear those fancy hats) so we got pretty lucky there.

Millie loved the sweet little bunny. We can't wait to have a pet bunny again ... one day.

Some of our favorites at this event was the Indian dancing, the science professor and, the kids' favorite, the Mr. Gladd look alike. He really is such a neat addition to the Hutchings museum! We love this museum and are extra excited because we now have a year pass and can go anytime!

John has been teaching the kids how to use Windows Movie Maker. They're excited about using this new tool to create movies from still frame movie projects they've made in the past.
The weather has been warming up nicely - it's still pretty unpredictable (as you will soon see) but here's Ty and daddy having a good time on the swings. John, earthing away, wearing Millie's hat and Ty trying to touch daddy's tongue with her ever-so-clean sock! Get him Ty!!!

It's so fun to see the kids enjoying the outdoors. Everything awakes from its slumber when Spring comes; colors, budding plants, streams, and children!

We're still reminded, however, that although Spring is coming and we've had quite the "warm" winter, winter is still here. The kids had a great time playing outside in the snow - some of them barefoot!!! I believe John was the instigator for that one.

This is Ty's finished piece of art titled,"The Oxygen Factory". It's quite the piece. I'd love to turn into a mini person and check this place out. Awesome Ty!

The kids have taken up a new hobby - wood burning! First they find a stick, shave off the bark, and burn an intricate design into the wood to create a magic wand.

Cedric and Tyra were eager to make some more of these "wands" one day but didn't want to be out in the cold and wind so we made a workplace for them in the garage. They listened to music, had plenty of light to work with and burned away!

They even have a neighbor friend, Angelina, picking up this new hobby as well.
Millie and Cedric wanted to help me with my last batch of sauerkraut. We all LOVE sauerkraut. It's such an enlivening, healthy food to eat. They did a great job pushing out those juices!
We get to see Ellie almost (and at least) once a week. Millie loves to spend this time bonding with her. They played cards together last time. Ellie said, "I love this game!" It was fun to see those two spending quality cousin time together. Games are so much fun - especially ones that four year old kids can play. They're so cute!

My mom promised Cedric and Emma that they can sleep over at her house. The big day finally came a couple of weeks ago. Cedric and Emma had a great time. My mom said that they were in their own world creating all kinds of things almost the whole time. They both get along so well with one another.

Dieter, my new little nephew and the kids' new cousin buddy is the sweetie in the middle. He's SO adorable!

It's so fun to see my kids have cousins to bond with - which is something I never had. I've realized that cousins are only one small step away from being actual siblings and the bonds created within those relationships can be almost just as valuable.
We had one last snow fall - possibly of the season. So we went gung-ho trying to make the biggest snow ball ever. It ended up being a bit taller that I am - and quite wide. I went and hid while Ty went to get daddy. When he came Ty and Cedric told daddy that they covered me in snow. He actually believed it for a second and wondered how they talked me into doing such a thing. It was quite funny.

The kids had a (very hard) kung-fu test last week. They did very well, pushing themselves to the limits. Ty was even pushed to a breaking point but said a prayer while re-couping in the bathroom and returned to finish the test and get her GOLD sash. Yay Ty!

Eth is up to a blue sash and Cedric also has a gold sash now. I'm so proud of the efforts they made at the test. Way to go you guys!
Oh, Gert-is-rude! We love this cat SO much. What ever would we do without her??? Yes, that is her (being forced) into praying postion.

This is a sweet little picture (only about 3x2") that Cedric drew. He made several of these and hid them throughout the house so that when Easter comes everyone can go and find them.

However, he kinda forgot about them ... seeing as how Easter is still a month away. I love how his innocence comes through in the pictures he draws.

Speaking of Cedric - he has a favorite stuffed puppy which he lovingly named "Diamond". He LOVES this puppy with all the love his delicate little heart can muster. We've spent many minutes searching for this little friend of his.

Well, yesterday, Cedric and Ethan were tossing Diamond up in the air (don't ask me why) when - whoops! - it landed on the roof of our, very tall, house.

Cedric and Ethan came in telling me about this ordeal. I said we'd have to wait until daddy got home. Only minutes after John came home we hear a heart wrenching sobbing coming from upstairs.

Cedric's concern and worry for his dear little friend who was now residing, who knows how uncomfortably, in the rain gutter of our house, could no longer be endured in silence.

We hurried upstairs and found him in my room, curled up on my bed, sobbing away. We quickly let him know the problem could be resolved.

We called a friend, picked up a ladder, set that tall contraption up, and John climbed away to the rescue. Boy was Cedric happy! Those puffy eyes no longer held tears of sadness but were filled with relief and joy that his puppy had been safely returned to him.

What a happy ending to a sad story! :)
Ethan (having gotten a new shirt) and Cedric (having been inspired by a dress-up birthday scene in a Target magazine) were both dressed up as an "Explorer" and a "Rich Man". That next morning, first thing I saw after getting up were these two, all dressed up, playing together.

This dress up adventure of theirs reminds me a lot of what they're both like. They're both SO different from one another and yet they work and play together like best buddies. The "Explorer" takes them on a journey (along with his trusty home-made map) and they find treasures that help make the "Rich Man" rich.

Love it!
Here's Millie having a silly time. She's so funny - and her poses are always so entertaining and humorous as well. We all love her free spirit!

It's time to say good-bye to Russia. We ended our "visit" to Russia by making Sirniki (aka Cheese Pancakes) with a drizzle of strawberry sauce. They were pretty yummy - Ethan didn't like them so much but it's been fun trying some Russian foods.

Now it's on to Poland!!! In Ethan's words: "Hope they have some good food!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lionhead Performance, Russia, Obert Sky

Wow, okay three years go by and then I begin blogging again. Yes, there's been a lot that we've missed blogging about but better late than never I guess.

We've done a read aloud for six hours before. But we beat that record just yesterday. We beat this record (not that we're trying to beat our past record's by any means) by reading Obert Skye's book Pillage. We started around 10 or 11am and ended close to six. It's fun - even Cedric is able to pay attention to our read aloud's now ... especially if they're about dragons!

The above photo is of Tyra drawing a dragon on the window with dry erase markers. She did this while I read ... along with drawing a massive mansion (which was also a part of the story) with a plethora of people on the front lawn, all of them having come to gawk at the massive building and half of them lying on the ground, having fainted at the shock of it. Pretty funny, Ty! Oh how I love her.
The kids spent some time outside today. Actually, I asked them to play outside because the house was such a mess and I needed to pick up without four tornadoes messing it all up again behind me. (I know, Ty. I know. Not you) :)

They had a good time. Ethan busied himself with drawing. He was a drawing a picture of Lord Shen. (Ethan's totally in love with the movie Kung Fu Panda 2 at the present moment.) He's doing a great job drawing pictures of the characters. Especially Lord Shen and Tigress.

The boys even made themselves "hammers". Replicating the Kung Fu Rhinoceros' weapon. They spent most of the day one day last week making and playing with these weapons. (Good thing John was extra nice and spent some time and creative energy helping them make these marvelous weapons.)

Cedric had built himself a makeshift house with a bunch of wood, on our front porch, around the bench swing. He even had a window! (Which he was quite proud (not to mention protective) of.) He's such an outdoorsy type of boy. I love it.

The girls have had fun being the best and closest of sisters. Ty dressed Millie up: dress, make-up, first time attempt (and success!) of french braids and all. Millie looked and felt so pretty! It's so fun to see those two experience sisterhood together ... especially when they're getting along!

Millie was pretending that a boy "her size", named Jack, was escorting her down the stairs and was dancing with her. How sweet!! I didn't realize how dreamy and princess-y she was like until that day.
The kids got super creative with an art project we had going on. They were to construct some sort of modern looking structure and then paint it white but they, very happily and creatively, created their own works of art.

Initially the art project was supposed to be similar to Louise Nevelson's type of art work. Her art work: interesting. The artist herself: even more interesting. I'll post pictures of the direction the kids took with their art pieces ... maybe that's a good thing though! :)

Cedric made a house. Ethan is working on constructing a huge house of his own. Ty created an "oxygen factory". (more about that one later) I had to push pause on their creativity and send them off to bed. They're excited to continue their projects tomorrow.

We kept with the tradition of having a special Valentine's breakfast for Valentine's day. The boys were so cute and sneakily cut, colored and taped up a whole bunch of hearts all over the house the night before. It definitely made things more festive. I love those boys!

We had lemon water, chocolate pretzels, a bunch of fruit and some round, crispy chocolate treats. We had a good time.

John is still teaching kung fu every Thursday. Right now we have Dalan, Hunter, Tyra, Ethan, Cedric, Millie, Ellie, Zade and Dominique that come. John had been teaching them the lionhead dance with a new (baby) lionhead he got the class for Christmas.

They were able to do a performance for family just last week. Everyone had a good time ... well, I'm not so sure about John ... he was pretty stressed about the event. But it really did go quite well. The kids had a blast and I'm sure it'll be something they'll remember forever.

We started doing "A Journey Around the World" together. We will be reading about and learning about, in various ways, other countries across the world, as though we were traveling there.

Our first country is Russia. Ethan chose it because one of his Lego guys is Russian. :)
We decided to visit a couple in our ward who are going on their third mission! They happened to go to Russia ... which isn't even why we dropped by their place. We dropped by because we wanted to thank them for their example and give them a card saying so and share some of our Russian dessert with them.

The kids all either rode their bikes or rollerbladed over there. They always love to stop and say hi to Roo and Karl. Millie was carrying the little bundle and card in her plastic bike basket.
The Littlefield's were so kind. They immediately invited us in, offered the kids some cookies, which they happily enjoyed and when they found out that we have been studying Russia they pulled out their Russian hats. I don't know why but that hat is very fitting on Ty. Eth looks like he could fly to Russia ... in a very good looking kind of way.

They pulled out a Russian muscial "box" which was one of the beautiful Russian palaces, carved out of wood and beautifully painted. The kids all "whoa'd" at the same time when they saw that. It sang a song based on a love story. Sister Littlefield sang some of it. It was so beautiful. Languages are beautiful especially when they're being sung. They also pulled out their hand painted Matryoshka doll.

(It's interesting to note here that I spoke with my mom later that day and she told me how much she detested Russian - because they were forced to learn it from 4th grade until their teenage years where they then had the option to learn English if they wanted to instead.) I guess being forced to learn a language would dampen the experience a bit.

Brother Littlefield taught us some phrases in Russian: "let's go" is "paydyom", "good bye" is "dasvidania", "thank you" is "spasibo".

Sister Littlefield was so nice to show the kids how little the dolls got. Even I was surprised. The last one was almost microscopic!!!

I re-realized today that Heavenly Father truly wants us to learn and to enjoy learning. It seems that every time we are in an awesome learning groove, He blesses us with an event of some kind, such as our visit with the Littlefields, to help further our learning experiences.

I feel so greatful to Him for caring about us so much and I feel so grateful that there are such wonderful people like the Littlefield's who open their doors to others and have such a warm and inviting spirit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pleasant Weather, "Dumplings", Books, other...

Oh, these early peeks at Spring weather are so wonderful! We've been eating lunch outside, going for walks, and plucking at, poking at, digging at, a myriad of things which have slept underground throughout winter.

***Chinese Lesson***
John's Chinese teacher invited John's class to come to his home to experience making the traditional Chinese "dumplings" (pot stickers).
John brought the 3 oldest kids with him seeing as how Tyra likes to cook and ....learn anything new, Ethan loves anything to do with the Chinese culture, and Cedric loves to cook. There were times, during the event, that John had wished he had left the two younger ones at home but, all in all, I think it was a neat experience for them.
They made pot stickers and rice "muffins"- they brought home leftovers which I readily enjoyed. . . mmmm, perfectly delicious. They also watched a Chinese movie. Somewhere in between these things John's Chinese teachers' house was just about flooded by a clogged toilet (Ethan) and his bathroom walls were painted with urine (Cedric), but in the end - the house was left in one peace.

Our night time read-a-loud is The Door in the Wall. It's a bit hard to follow seeing as how the author used a more traditional English way of speaking for the characters.
But it's good enough that if I'm about to stop reading I still hear, "Keep reading! Keep reading!!!"

Ethan's Audio book has been A Single Shard. Which, it seems to me, has been an alright book for him. He doesn't seem real taken away with it but I think it may be a bit above his comprehension level.
As for his own reading skills, he's on chapter 59 in the "Teaching Children How to Read in 100 Lessons".... or something similar to that title.

The Unicorn's Secret book series are the book Tyra uses for her "vocabulary comprehension" books. (She reads a few pages, circles the words she isn't able to read or understand and we go through those words together.)
We also just finished this series this last week. At first Ty and I were reading them together but Ethan became interested and so they turned into our nightly read-a-loud book...I'm not too fond of how the author words the story but the end it quite good - Tyra was quite taken away with it.
***Homeschool Ways***
About a week ago I sat down and jotted down what our focuses have come to be within our home schooling efforts - and here they are! (not in any particular order)
German (every day): Songs, Rosetta Stone, Word Vocabulary, Video Lessons
Computer time: Typing, Math, English, science history
Independent Activities: karate & gymnastics, play with friends
Educational Activities: "field trips", tours, museums, exhibits...
Family Activities: plays, musicals, performances, hike...etc. etc.
Spiritual Growth: Scripture reading, family councils, saturday preparedness
Academics: workbooks, computer time, story of the world, science
Extra Learning: Share and Tell, Spelling competitions, poem memorization
Reading: vocabulary reading, other reading, read-a-louds, audio books
Individual Interests: Piano, art, science, robots, trains
Awareness: current news discussions, movies, all other learning, documentaries
Other: service and hard labor
Now, we don't do ALL these things ALL the time..I used to think all the good ideas I've had should be going on consistently. But, I've realized that good ideas go in and out of phases and that I just need to make sure I remember the good things we've done and go back and do them over and over again.
***An American Life***
Last week, as a family, we sat down and listened to a down loaded story from This American Life - it's a radio show where very well written (true) stories are told and letting us tap into a person's personal (and intersting) american experience. I thought it was great! The kids enjoyed the story...only, some parts of the story we listened to were a little eery and so when we mentioned we should get together like that more often they said they wanted to... as long as it wasn't another scary one.

And, as usual, here's another completely adorable photo of Millie.
Oooh, which reminds me, my sister(Katja) had her baby (Nyah) and she is one of the most beautiful newborn babies I've ever seen...I love being an aunt!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mrs. E, Wrist Cyst, Mother Teresa, Mills

Oh!.....Oh dear. Whose child is this? Poor lad. No hope.
"Mrs. E."

Oh wow! That explains A LOT.

"We're a homeschool family! dah-da-de-dum (snap-snap)"
(Sung to the Adam's Family song) - funny video

//////Wrist Cyst//////

Tyra went in for surgery to remove her cyst upon her wrist....something which she was quite excited to be rid of.

It wasn't all quite exciting though. She was a tad nervous but was well taken care of.

She did well, the cyst is now gone and she is now recovering. Yaaay Tyra! It's gone! It's really gone!


We have been sick the last few weeks (which is an understatement, really) and so have done close to nothing but trying to recover.
But! we did read one great book - it's a book about Mother Teresa's life. What a wonderful woman.
I could feel Tyra and Ethan makes leaps and bounds in the things they came to understand about how we should treat one another and what's really important in life.
One comment Tyra made was, "She reminds me a lot of Jesus." And so I ask, " Should we all be like that?" And her little heart thought only for a moment and clearly answered a simple but profound, "yes."
Ethan is SO disgusted by even the mention of "bones" or "blood" and so I was glad that he could gain a new perspective on the human body as we read this book - that we can become grotesquely diseased, malformed, even to the point of having rotting sores but should that turn us away from caring for one another? Mother Teresa never turned anyone away and took care of everyone with a genuine heartfelt love and concern....maybe we should be the same way.
One man was embarrassed by his sores and said, "Sister, how is it that you can stand the smell of my sores?" and, without lying, she said, " You're sores do smell but how can I care about that when I know what kind of pain you must be in?"
Beautiful just beautiful.
Ya know, that's exactly one significant reason why we home school - I want to expose them to the beautiful things of this world. There's enough junk they do (and will) naturally see as they wander the world, as we discuss recent news, as they meet more people, even as we read about certain characters and scenarios in scriptures and other books. But for right now, during their young years, I want them to learn from the beautiful, the moving, the life changing truths, discoveries, and people that have existed and do exist on this world today.
Life is about taking the great and beautiful things of this world and making it a part of who you are now and who you will be forever.
I don't expect my kids to turn out perfect. But at the end of it all, as most mothers do, I want to know that I did what the Lord wanted me to do for them. I gave them what He wanted me to give them. And I exposed them to the things He wanted me to expose them to - to help them remain true to who they were before they came to earth so the Lord can use those talents and interests of these little individuals at this present time, in this world's present conditions, to help the Lord's work to progress.

I always seem to post another completely adorable photo of Millie at the end of these blogs but, I post this one for two reasons.
A) She looks 100% better after being sick for 3 weeks!!!! And am so happy to see her happy again.
B) It's sunny outside and fairly warm(er).
We love seeing the first signs of spring. There's so much natural excitement in a child's heart as they see the first bee of the year or the first green tuft of grass poking up out of the dirt.
Children come alive with nature. And, after being sick for so long, it's just plain good to be alive! :)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memorization, Fave Book, 9 principles, Play Dough. Sting Rays, Trains, Other

:::::Glenn Beck's 9 Principles:::::

The kids and I discussed Glenn's 9 principles and whether we agreed with them or not. After discussing and agreeing with each principle we took pictures of ourselves and sent them to the e-mail address Glenn gave out for this occasion. See my face? Major TMJ day....the kids look lively and refreshed though.

Being inspired by the book Laddie and their way of living we have begun to add a few things to our daily "learning". We discuss current news events. This last week or so we discussed the speech/article "The Action Americans Need" written by Obama himself and we discussed the article, "Grocery Stores Fight Back Against Food Prices". I receive these articles from

:::::Audio Books:::::

We like to listen to audio books and the kids enjoy themselves as they play with play dough or do other "quiet" activities while the book plays.
We were listening to Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl here.

Even Millie played with the dough the whole hour and a half.

:::::Treasure Map:::::

Our favorite library find was The Greatest Power. We read aloud The Tiger Rising and really enjoyed it, I've been reading Julie of the Wolves with Tyra. Ethan has been listening to The Castle in the Attic, Tyra listened to Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and our current night-time real aloud is The Giver - I've enjoyed the thought provoking discussions its stimulated.

We found a treasure in our house about a week ago thanks to "this here" treasure map. Ethan was cleaning up an area I had asked him to clean up when, all of a sudden, he came rushing over with an old leathery treasure map in his hands. We all gathered round and followed it's clues to the treasure which happened to be the greatest treasure of all - books!

There were three to be exact and each book had a piece of old leathery material within it containing one of the kids' initials on it. Julie of the Wolves went to Tyra, Tiger Rising went to Ethan and a train book went to Cedric.

What a smart pirate! ... Now, if only the kids could find this mysterious pirate - they've been looking long and hard - many times they've even claimed to see him!

:::::Orem Library::::::
We love the Orem Library. They have so many neat events there every month. Most recently we listened to the New York Symphony Soloists perform - they performed music for one of Babar the elephants stories - it really made it come to life. Ethan especially enjoyed it.

They even answered lots of questions and told about themselves and how they came to play the instrument they's interesting most of them began playing a completely different instrument but eventually were led to the instrument they now play professionally.

Ethan now wants to play the piccolo - yikes! And I want to get my fingers on a cello all the more - sigh! Before they played the music to the Babar story they played music from Mozart, Vivaldi and someone was so beautiful.

:::::Living Planet Aquarium:::::

We made a trip to the Living Planet Aquarium (half off on thr first Monday of the month!!!) and enjoyed the colorful assortment of fish.

Tyra and Ethan tried to touch the sting ray's but didn't quite dare - the water wasn't quite shallow enough for their short arms to reach in very far anyway.

::::::Train Show:::::

The train show at Thanksgiving Point was quite a treat (for all the kids) but mostly for little Reeky.

The contents in this picture were Cedric's dream come true - Disney's Cars and trains, oh my!


Ethan was being so cute with Cedric - showing him around and lifting him up so he could see the trains sets a little better.

:::::Just Cuz::::: She is such a shweetie! Squoosh the cheeks - squoosh the cheeks! Still teething though :( - darn those molars, come through already!