Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brag Book

Guess who just found out that she made a 31 on her ACT???

Only my extremely beautiful......

And exceedingly clever......

youngest sister Hannah.

Isn't she a smart one???

One more bit of bragging and then I'm done.... All of the pictures on this post (minus the lollipop pic) were taken by another one of my talented sisters. My sister, Taylor, is moving to the Dallas area in a few weeks. Here is her website where you can check out some of her amazing work!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Light At the End Of the Tunnel

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and I am happy to report that we are ALMOST FINISHED!!! Mary Alice has been working like a trooper to complete all of her work and just finished up her Math and Spelling last week. We have about a week to go on all of her other subjects. You know what this means??? Free time! I am so excited!!! I guess this means more play time outside and more trips to the usual fun places before the crowds of school children take over at the end of May.

This has been a great year being at home with Mary Alice. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and watching her grow in her love for learning. You wouldn't believe how much I learned this year from all of her Kindergarten textbooks! (Well, maybe you would.) Anyway.... This first year of teaching my girl at home has been such a joy. I am constantly grateful that I am able to do this.

The book fair that we went to last year is coming up soon. This year, Mary Alice requested to go with me. We are looking forward to it. Even if you aren't considering homeschooling your children, I would encourage you to attend your local home school book fair. There are some really great educational materials, both for "school" and for training your children spiritually. I always enjoy seeing the many different types of people who visit the book fair. I remember last year seeing this mom with, like, seven kids, all under age 10. The kids just followed along behind her, happily, all day. The mother wasn't having to constantly remind them not to touch or bother things on the shelves. They were obviously well trained in how to behave. I wanted to ask her for her secret, but instead just watched (probably with my mouth open) as her little charges walked along joyfully behind her. Amazing! All that to say, the book fair is a great place for people watching as well as for checking out all of those incredible learning resources. I would never take my seven children there, but am sure impressed by those mothers who can pull that off!

I feel like the girl learned a lot this year. Here are a few words from Mary Alice about each subject.

Math: "Math is my least favorite subject because subtraction is sometimes too hard. Like when it says 27-18 or something, I think, Why can't I just do plus? Math is such a pill."

Phonics: "I love Phonics because of Miss Long and Miss Silent and Mrs. Short and Mr. Short. Phonics is such a blessing to me because I like all of the things I get to do, well, pretty much all of them."

Bible: "I like Bible because it is interesting. Memory verses are sometimes hard, though, because there are so many Romans verses, like Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 1:21, and 7:12, and stuff. That is the only reason that it is hard, though, just entirely too many Romans verses!"

Spelling: "I kind of liked Spelling and I kind of didn't because I had to write the words 10 or 20 or 1500 times each." (Um. Perhaps there is a bit of exaggeration here.)

: "I LOVE history. It is my favorite subject because of all of the books that we got to read. I liked all of the books except for two. I especially liked the book about Gladys Aylward because she missionaries in China and helps people worship God." :)

Science: "I like Science alot. I really liked learning about mammals and also learning about butterflies because of their beautiful wings and magical ways to fly. The experiments were my favorite thing to do for Science."

Handwriting: "I don't like Handwriting because you have to write words too much."

Reading: "Oh, my favorite! I just like reading. It is one of my favorite things to do."

About Kindergarten: "I like being home schooled because it doesn't take all day to finish school and I have my own mom as my teacher."

Well, there you have it, Mary Alice's Kindergarten year in a nutshell. As you can see, Mary Alice is very typical in the fact that she clearly doesn't like some things about her schoolwork. I was excited, though, that she listed her teacher as one of her favorite things about the year. Hopefully that is a sign that I am doing something right.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let's Go Fly A Kite

The Maje got a shark kite for his birthday. There was a mild wind today, so Josh took the kids out to a nearby park to attempt to fly it.

The kids watching Josh assemble the kite. Almost ready to fly!

First attempt

Second attempt (and third and fourth and fifth)

Finally! The kite takes flight!

The kids really enjoyed flying their shark kite, once it was windy enough for it to actually stay in the air for a few minutes. The nosedives that the shark kite kept taking were extremely funny to the kids. We got to hear them laugh again and again.

Here are a few recent pictures of our girl. A few weeks ago we made a few trips out of state. Something in the air really irritated Mary Alice. Her eyes swelled up while we were there. Her eyes stayed swollen for two weeks, so I finally took her to the doctor. She looked (and felt) absolutely miserable. Another thing that happened at the exact same time is that her mouth broke out in ulcers. She had about five of them in her mouth at once! She was in pretty bad shape. Anyway.... The doctor suggested that we give her Children's Zyrtec for her swollen eyes. We gave her the Zyrtec and guess what happened??? Her eye swelling went down but she broke out in hives! I have never heard of such a thing! An allergy to allergy medicine? Maybe it was just a coincidence. Whatever the case, she certainly is severely allergic to something. I wish we knew what it was so that we could avoid ever getting near it again. Now that we have her face back to normal, I am ready for her skin to clear up. She is itchy all over. Much of her extremeties are covered with hives. Her lips bubbled up a couple of days ago because of allergies. Her poor little mouth (and tongue) have been full of ulcers for three weeks. She just hasn't been herself. Has anyone else ever had this happen? She's never had an allergic reaction before. I certainly didn't see this coming.

Here she is right after I took her to the doctor. Doesn't she look miserable?

Here is her little arm, covered with hives. They actually don't look too bad here. They seem a little redder to me than this picture indicates.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Major's Fourth Birthday Party...Etc.

Judging from the lack of comments, I'm going to assume that the readers of my blog did not find the little girl in my last post nearly as cute as I did. Seriously, that girl was A-DORABLE. It reminds me so much of Mary Alice at that age. I have a tendency to grab the video camera whenever I hear my kids singing, so I'm sure that I have a dozen or so videos of Mary Alice as a little one singing out like that. Nothing makes me smile like the voice of a singing child.

Moving on...

We celebrated Major's fourth birthday this weekend. We decided to have a family party this year. The day was beautiful! The whole family watched Major's tee ball game in the morning. Josh and Chad kept telling Major to slide. Finally.... Major did slide. I only saw part of it, but I guess Major slid all the way around the bases.... He slid in between first and second, in between second and third, and in between third and home.

We continued our birthday tradition of eating lunch at Rosa's and then came home for cake and presents. I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked of Major and his cake this year. I felt a little bit rushed and only took a few pictures. This was the best picture I had of Major and his cake.

Major received several exciting presents. His Uncle Chad built a sandbox for him. I have a feeling that the sandbox is one present that will get used often this summer. He was given a bicycle-like contraption called "The Green Machine". His legs were too short to reach the pedals. Mary Alice sure enjoyed riding it around our cul-de- sac, though. I love the fact that we live in a cul-de-sac. When we lived in our previous house, I always felt anxious whenever the kids would ride their bikes. In our old neighborhood, the driveways all faced the street. I was constantly worried that the kids were going to get run over by one of the cars that often raced down our street or backed over by someone coming out of their garage. We have really enjoyed the new traffic-free area around our house. It is so nice for the kids to be able to ride their bikes safely. This is probably my favorite thing about our house.

Here is Mary Alice on "The Green Machine". The girl has raced around on this thing nearly every day this week!

The kids with their Uncle Chad. He even made a top for the sandbox, due to my concerns about cat poop. He did an excellent job building this nice sandbox, don't you think?

Yesterday, Mary Alice and Major's cousins came over to play. The kids and cousins utilized the new sandbox and got extremely dirty, but had tons of fun! After their little playtime, we made good use of the garden hose and our bathtub. Those kids were covered with sand from head to toe!

They played for a while on the driveway right before covering themselves with sand. (Notice Mary Alice sailing by on The Green Machine.)

I just thought that Jonah was especially cute in this picture. He liked watching the big kids play.

The next couple of picture are unrelated. These are of Mary Alice in her ballet recital costume. It came in the other day and, of course, she had to try it on.
She played around and practiced her little dance for me. So precious! I love my sweet ballerina girl!

And now.... a story about something funny that happened last night. Each night when we put the kids to bed we have a little routine that we follow. At the tail end of our routine we say "Goodnight!" to each of our little darlings, head down the stairs and turn on the "downstairs light". The downstairs light is a chandelier that hangs directly over our entryway. Right next to the "downstairs light" is a balcony, which is a few feet away from the kids' rooms.

So.... last night we said "Goodnight!" as usual, headed down the stairs, and turned on the "downstairs light". Josh went into our bedroom to watch a ballgame and I headed into the kitchen. A few minutes later we hear a frightened Mary Alice call out "Daddy!!!" I pretty much ignore her as this frightened cry is not uncommon and usually means that her bedsheets are crooked or some other such silliness. Josh said, "Yes, Mary Alice." Mary Alice replied with, "I smell something like smoke." Major said, "I smell it too." Josh started heading up the stairs and noticed a fire smell. He feared an electrical fire in the attic and told the kids to head downstairs. Then I heard him yell out, "Amber! Turn off the downstairs light!" I ran out of the kitchen and started turning off all of the downstairs lights. When I reached the chandelier, I looked up and saw that a child's t-shirt was perched on top of one of the chandelier bulbs, on fire. I quickly ran into the laundry room, grabbed a broom, and lifted the burning shirt off of the chandelier. I took it out to the front porch and beat the flame out. I felt like one of those frontier women, using all of my strength to put out a fire that threatened to burn down our home. I am happy to report that the flame was extinguished and our only loss was a greatly charred t-shirt.

You might be wondering why we put t-shirts on our chandeliers.... The kids often throw their dirty clothes off of the balcony whenever they are cleaning their rooms. They then retrieve their dirty clothes at the bottom of the stairs and put them in the laundry room. This shirt had probably been sitting atop our light fixture all day and started burning only after we turned on the "downstairs light" as we do every night when we put the kids to bed. This dropping dirty laundry over the balcony method is fine and dandy as long as the clothes are just dropped over the balcony. The burned shirt was one of Major's. He doesn't "just drop" anything, but rather, must have forcefully slung it over the balcony. This morning, when he was cleaning his room, I saw him do it again and had to retrieve a pair of pajama pants from the chandelier! Major is not allowed to throw any more clothes over the balcony, as it could be a fire hazard.

I guess that's all for now. Good night! :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Lord's Prayer

One of my friends had this on her blog the other day. I think this is possibly the CUTEST thing I have EVER seen!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sweet Major Gray

On Major's Fourth Birthday...

Four years ago today we met our sweet little guy. He has given us so much joy over these past few years. It is hard to imagine what our life was like before the Maje came around. Today we started the day by celebrating with (his request)...funny face pancakes. Here he is making a funny face of his own.... I thought this picture was very.....Major.

The rest of the day wasn't super fun, as we had schoolwork to do and other errands to run. Major picked out what he wanted for dinner tonight. He chose steak with A-1, macaroni and cheese, and peas. :)

Mary Alice made a birthday cake for him. That was pretty cute. Major opened his present from Mary Alice. I have to tell this story about Mary Alice. We went to visit Josh's extended family in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Josh's grandparents gave the kids $40 each as a late Christmas present. Of course, the idea was for the kids to get to spend the money buying their own Christmas presents. Major didn't really understand the whole concept, but Mary Alice definitely understood. I was tucking Mary Alice into bed one night (once we were back home). She said, "Mom, I know that you won't really want me to do this, but I really really want to spend my $40 buying Major's birthday present. I know something that he would REALLY love and I would like to spend my Christmas money on him."

I reminded her that she wouldn't have any money if she used it all on Major's birthday present. She said, "I know, Mom. But I just really want to give this one thing to him. It is something that I know that he will REALLY like." Anyway.... I got online and was able to find the present that she picked out for him for only $20! So...This is what Mary Alice bought Major for his birthday. I was SO proud of her. She was so sincere and so excited about giving. I hope that she continues to have such a giving heart. By the way.... Major LOVED the costume that she picked out for him. I don't know how she knew that the costume cost $40. The last time that we even looked at costumes was around Halloween. Isn't he a goofball?

Here are a few things that I want to remember about Major right now:

-He is a jokester. How fitting that he was born on April Fools' Day because he LOVES to play tricks on people. One of his favorite phrases right now is "Just kidding!"

-Until this past week his greatest ambition was to be a garbage man. One of his jobs around the house is taking out the garbage and emptying the trashes. He thinks that it would be the greatest thing ever to ride around on the back of one of those garbage trucks. :) A few days ago, though, he whispered to me that he would like to be a doctor who gives people shots. A garbage man or a doctor? Hmmmm....

-We can't keep the boy in good looking pants. He is constantly wearing holes in all of his pants. He is a boy through and through. Tonight after his tee-ball practice I caught a glimpse of something sweet... muddy knees. I love it!

-I have always thought that Major was musically inclined. He always hears and imitates the sounds around us. It reminds me a little bit of the movie August Rush. I'm not saying that Major is a musical genius, just that he seems to hear music in just about everything. It isn't uncommon to have him make a sound (like the sound of a piece of construction equipment backing up, for instance) and make it into a song. He'll say, "Listen, Mom! That sounds like "whee wheet chicka chicka...t'ssss." Then he'll say the sounds again over and over, like a song, sometimes adding his own parts. And Major LOVES to sing! (And I LOVE to hear him sing!)

-A few of his phrases that I love right now are: "Check this out!" "Hey guys!" And, often times, if you are talking to him about something and he agrees with you, he'll say "Right."

-He really likes scaring people right now. Nearly every night for the past month when it is bedtime, he will run upstairs and hide in either his closet, under his covers, or under his bed. When we come upstairs to tuck him in, he will jump out and scream "BOO!" and then explode into fits of laughter.

-He is getting so big, but is still very much a little guy. He still loves his Nima blanket (a blanket made for him by his great grandmother.) He rubs on one part each night and calls it his "fuzzy part". When we moved into our new house, he made a new "fuzzy part" on his blanket. So, he has the "old fuzzy part" and the "new fuzzy part". He sleeps with a stuffed elephant named...Elizabeth.

-He is really into the idea of being a protector. Mary Alice told me this morning something that happened the other day when they were sleeping together. Major leaned over and said, "Sissy, are you scared? Come over here and I'll protect you." Mary Alice told me, "Don't tell him this, but I wasn't really scared. I just pretended that I was so that I could have some of his loves."

-Major got into trouble the other day for saying an ugly word. The word wasn't really that bad, it was just a word that we don't allow to be used in our house. Anyway.. since then he has been overly conscious about saying words that are "ugly". One of the things that he knows is that we never say God's name in vain. The other day, he came up to me with a guilty look on his face and said, "I said an ugly word, Mom. I'm sorry." I sat down with him and asked him what word he said. He said, "I said vain." I wanted to bust out laughing. I explained to him that vain was not an ugly word. He has done that at least three times in the last week, apologizing for some word that to him just sounded like it might be a bad word.

-He still has a bit of trouble pronouncing his R's and L's. He can say his L's and can hear the L being said, but continues to pronounce it like a W. He'll say "I wuv you." We say, "You wuv us?" To which he'll respond, "No! I love you." He calls his sister Mawy Awice and himself Majuw. I will keep an eye on this. Hopefully he won't need speech help. We'll just wait and see...

-He loves me to read to him, but most of all, begs me nearly every day to please play with him. "Mom, will you please play with me?" is something that I hear every day. I need to be less busy. I know that he won't want me to play with him for too much longer.

I love our Major boy. He is a gift from God that we continue to be thankful for every day. We continue to pray for the same things, that he would be a leader and that God would allow him to use his talents and abilities for His glory. Happy birthday sweet Major Gray. We love you!