Friday, March 07, 2008

Long Overdue Post

Where do I begin????

First of all, I have to say that I am shocked by the number of people who still visit my blog on occasion. I have daily visitors in the double digits. That means that at least a few people are still checking up on our family. :) If I were you, I think I would have given up every shred of hope that this blog would be resurrected.

My explanation is this: I needed to take a break from the blog world. I found that much of my time was being eaten up with blogging, that I was missing out on more important things. I started feeling like my blog was a burden, like an unfinished chore. I actually found myself feeling guilty for not updating it often enough. Having unfinished chores lurking around tends to make me feel stressed out. I hate it that something that started out to be so much fun turned into such a drag.

Another thing....I used to feel like I could be myself on my blog, without reservation. I now feel that the audience is so varied that I am constantly worrying about offending someone with my opinions. I have plenty of strong opinions that I choose not to share, and some thoughts that I feel I have to share in order to be real. The very nature of the written word can easily lead to misinterpretation by others.

I am beginning blogging again, for now, but am taking it slow. I guess I'll just wait and see how it goes...

About the past few months... So much has happened! Mary Alice played basketball for the first time. It is amazing how much she learned in a few short months. At her tryouts, the coach told her to "dribble" and "shoot" and perform other basic basketball skills. Mary Alice looked at the woman with a confused look and had absolutely no clue what to do! She didn't know a thing about basketball three months ago. Mary Alice just had her last game this past Saturday. It was amazing just how much she learned! A few cute things... After her first game, she complained about her legs being sore. I think she thought that something was wrong with her because she had never experienced sore muscles before. Also at her first game she was a superstar defense player. One problem: she played defense THE ENTIRE game!!! (even when her team had the ball):) It was pretty funny to watch. Also, at her last game, she kneeled on the floor and folded her hands for the pregame prayer. (Everyone else on her team was standing up!) We really enjoyed watching our sweet girl play basketball.

Mary Alice lost her first tooth about a month and a half ago. Her six year molars are starting to come in. She is getting to be so big! I hate it that she is growing up so fast! Not to worry, though, she has already promised me that she will live next door to me one day! :) On that note...Something sweet she said a few weeks ago. One night, I fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up, she was rubbing lotion all over my feet and legs. We started talking, the conversation evolved, and I said something like, "One day, when I'm really old, you can come visit me in the nursing home and rub lotion on my old, wrinkly feet." She said, "Mom! That's silly! You're not going to live in a nursing home!" I said, "But one day if I'm old and sick you might have to send me to live in one." She said, "Phooey! If you're old and sick you will come live with me and I will take care of you! That is the obvious choice!" She sounded so grown up and matter-of-fact, I simply had to laugh!

Mary Alice has been very interested in experimentation lately. She has been a little mad scientist, labeling things and performing her own little experiments all around the house. A few of the experiments she came up with were extremely nasty, involving things like moldy bread and food coloring. Yesterday, I finally gave her some limits. She kept bringing me all of these experiments and asking for supplies. (Example: "Hey mom! Do we have a cucumber I could put sugar on?") HUH?? I finally told her that, at least for yesterday, her experiments would have to be non-messy. She was compliant and came up with an experiment where she timed her breaths ("brethes") and recorded the data on a chart. I love to watch her love for learning. I love it that our house is littered with books and partially completed science experiments. This is just the kind of home I want to live in.

Mary Alice continues to devour books. I constantly have to remind her not to read in the dark. It is not uncommon for her to go through a novel a week. I started checking out these books for her called the Elsie Dinsmore books. I really like them because the girl in the books is very conscientious of right and wrong and really thinks through the decisions that she makes, weighing them out with what Scripture teaches. The books were originally written in the late 1800s. We just stumbled on them in the library. She has really enjoyed reading them, though some of the content was a bit shocking to us both. Elsie's father is a bit of a strict disciplinarian compared to today's standards and doesn't put up with any misbehaviour from his daughter. It was a sharp contrast to modern views of discipline. Anyway, I've had fun hearing about all of the adventures that she's been having via her books.

I have been in the process of reading a book called Lies Young Women Believe. It is a book that was written to a teenage audience and is definitely not appropriate for young children. Anyway... Mary Alice had seen me reading it earlier that day and casually mentioned that when I was finished with the book if I would please let her know so that she could read it because she didn't want to "believe any lies either".

Both of the kids have been enthralled with some books that they have been reading. Mary Alice has really been into The Daring Book For Girls while Major has really been interested in The Dangerous Book For Boys . I really like the Dangerous Book For Boys. It has lots of "guy" activities that Josh and Major can do together. The book contains instructions on how to make paper airplanes, build a tree house, a bow and arrow set, etc. Josh has already done some of the projects with Major. Major has a ready list of the things that he wants Josh to do with him. I think building a go cart is next on Major's list. Not so sure that will ever happen... I really love this book for boys! It has so many great ideas. It focuses on masculine activities that boys can do with their fathers.

I'm not a huge fan of the girls' book, although it does have a few fun things in it. I'm not sure the girls' book conveys the attitudes that I want to encourage in Mary Alice. I guess we only have it for another couple of days, though, before it makes a return trip to the library. We actually purchased "The Dangerous Book For Boys" for Major. He calls it his "dangerous" book. I'm looking forward to seeing Major and his dad be "dangerous" together.

Major just started to play t-ball a few weeks ago. He had his first game this past Saturday. I've seen a lot of kids sporting events in my day. I have come to the conclusion that there is NOTHING quite as cute as a 3 year old in baseball pants. It made my heart melt. Apparently, Major is doing pretty well with t-ball. When I try to practice with him outside, he insists on me pitching it to him. He doesn't really like to play with the t. He says it is in his way. Anyway, Josh is helping to coach his little t-ball team "The Yankees". They are precious! We especially love to watch our little Major run. It makes us laugh. He swings his arms and makes a serious aggressive face and takes off! I love to watch my little guy. He has also become a miniature coach. When he and Mary Alice play sports together, he will always say things like "Nice one!" and "Good job!" to her. I think he has learned as much as Mary Alice during her basketball season. During each practice, he would dribble on the sidelines the entire time. Ever since Josh put up a basketball goal in our driveway, Major is out there shooting baskets almost every time the weather is nice.

More about Major.... He has been quite a trooper when it comes to Mary Alice's schoolwork. He usually plays with his cars or colors/does craft projects every morning while I work with the girl. I usually give Mary Alice a mid morning break. Major adores Mary Alice and always begs her to play with him. Mary Alice is usually good to play his boy games with him. However, when it is time for Mary Alice to choose, she usually wants to play dolls, dollhouse, or house. Major is NOT all about that and is getting to where he complains more and more about having to play "girly stuff". They usually work out a compromise where Mary Alice will be the Mommy and Major will be the protector. He shoots the bad creatures that come to their little house. It is amazing how many bad animals he can dream up and how quickly they continue to come to Mary Alice's front door. Major is kept busy (and almost entirely out of the house) with his "dangerous" job. He wears his little coonskin cap and carries his popgun out and courageously shoots all of the bad pests that come her way (alligators, monsters, sharks, giants, etc.) It is pretty funny to watch them play together.

Josh and I have been battling laziness in Major lately. We are doing our best to nip that in the bud. Major has been having some trouble lagging around (and complaining) when it is time to do his chores. Josh and I decided that the best way to get them done was to require that they be done before breakfast. That is a huge motivator for Major, as he really loves his breakfast. He has to clean his room, get dressed, and brush his teeth before he can come to the breakfast table. If he complains/whines,sadly, another chore gets added to his list of things to do. We have learned that is a great way to train Major to do his work cheerfully. :) He will do really well for a while, doing his work happily. Sometimes, though, he regresses to his old lazy, whiny, stomping, fit-throwing self. Guess what? It never works! What does happen, though, is that our house gets an extra measure of clean for that day! :) I have also noticed that Major often even starts to enjoy the extra work he is given. I want so badly for him to be a hard worker, instead of a lazy loafer. We are praying that God will give us the wisdom to train him effectively. It will help Major so much in the future if he is responsible and disciplined enough to work hard to provide for his family.

Mary Alice (and Major) have been learning so much this year in school. The past few weeks Mary Alice has been learning about insects and butterflies in science. On the recommendation of a friend, we purchased a butterfly kit from a wonderful company called Insect Lore . The caterpillars arrived a few weeks ago. The kids have anxiously watched them turn into chrysalises. We are now waiting for the chrysalises to turn into beautiful butterflies. They are hanging in a cage in our living room. I also found out that a local botanical garden is hosting a butterfly exhibit over the next few weeks. I am planning to take the kids some time next week. What perfect timing!

I have been so proud of Mary Alice this year. She has learned SO much. She is very diligent and often wants to work ahead. If she keeps tearing through her books at the rate she has been, she will be finished with several of her textbooks in early April. If she does wind up finishing her school year a full two months early, we will be using those last two months for trips to the library, the museum, and other fun educational trips. I am so proud of my smart, hard working little girl! She is such a blessing.

Mary Alice continues to have a big time interest in cooking. She enjoys helping me plan meals for the week. As I've mentioned before, she is my little Giada. She usually likes to make meals that take lots of effort or dishes with unique ingredients. I can only cater to her every once in a while, as labor intensive meals are only fun on occasion. Last week, we made a fun Oriental feast. We made a marinated Teriyaki Salmon dish, sushi, and homemade fortune cookies. The fortune cookies were especially funny and surprisingly easy to make! The most interesting part was the fortunes she wrote. They said things like "Follow Jesus and you will be happy." and "My mom is cute." The sushi was a kit that we found at Wal Mart. It was actually more of a California roll kit. We filled them with avocado, carrots, and cucumbers. Anyone who knows me knows that I never eat raw things, so the "real" sushi is definitely not going to be served in our house. I am not picky at all and will eat just about anything, but eating health hazards is where I draw the line. Unless you trick me into it, I don't think you will ever catch me eating raw meat. (Gag!) Anyway... The kit made cooking fun and easy, but exotic enough to make it interesting for my little Giada.

Here are some pictures of a couple of the projects that the kids worked on during the past few months. A glimpse into the world of Mary Alice's little messy projects...I did not include pictures of the moldy bread project. I felt it was in your best interests.

Other news.... On Valentine's Day, Josh surprised me by having a piano delivered to our house. It is definitely a starter piano, but was absolutely perfect! Josh knew that I have wanted a piano for years. He knows me so well. It was such a wonderful surprise! We spent our Valentine's evening at home with the kids. I made a steak dinner and we watched a movie with Mary Alice and Major. It was perfect.

A picture of my new piano... Isn't it beautiful? :)

Yesterday I bought some piano music for the girl. She already knows Chopsticks and Heart and Soul (along with a few of her own compositions) and really seems to be interested in learning to play more. I bought her a few beginner primers and a beginning hymn book and will work with her starting next week. Did you know that they have piano books for children as young as 3 and 4? I looked at those, but, for now, am just happy with Major tinkering around on the piano on his own.

Well, if you've read this far, you must either really love my kids or have exhausted all of the interesting reading material available to you. Either way, thanks for bearing with me. This was an incredibly long post. I'm going to sleep now. Good night.