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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Prized Christmas Gift

Austin has been wishing this certain item for about three Christmases!!  And now thanks to some of Santa's helpers.....this Christmas.....his wishing came true.  Austin even told us as he awoke that morning that he had heard Santa's reindeer landing on the roof in the middle of the night.  But, of course, Austin said he made sure he stayed in bed.  He was so excited that night before he went to bed because this would be the first Christmas Eve where he slept in a top bunk ever so close tot he roof top! It pays to be the oldest!! Here is the video of Austin opening his special gift.  Of course once again....you'll want to pause the music player before you start the video!  Sorry people, I'm a music junky!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Baby is FOUR!?!?


My dear sweet baby is officially four now!! I can't comprehend that! Where does the time go? Blink and it's gone! We spoiled him and celebrated his birthday a day early. Sunday is his official birthday, but we have a busy day with church breakfast and program. So we decided to make today a relaxing day of birthday fun! I attempted to make an ice cream cake. It was not an easy process I discovered, but we may try it again sometime! Birthday boy gobbled up his cake! He was quite enthusiastic about it. I think he may have been more enthusiastic about the cake than the presents, at least at first! So in reflecting on the past four years of Wesley's life I poured through his baby pictures. We are very blessed! Wes is our wonderful Christmas gift from God. Each year I remember how special that first Christmas was with him. He is our quirky funny bunny who keeps us laughing. He showers us all with hugs and kisses and tells silly stories. He is the brother that Austin always hoped for. Thank you God for Wesley! He will always be our wonderful Christmas gift from above!

 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Finally, A Nonfiction Book for Homeschool Kids!

Wright on Time

Woo Hoo, I'm excited!!! Finally, Wright on Time: ARIZONA, Book 1 is a book for kids that is a fictional story about a homeschool family. Despite the fact that homeschool is more popular today than ever, I still have my moments where I feel self conscious when others question our choice to homeschool. I can not EMPHASIZE how GREAT it is to have a book like this for homeschool kids!!

My son was so excited about this book. He DEVOURED it. I was thinking we would stretch the book out over the course of a week and incorporate it into a reading unit for our homeschool curriculum. My son Austin didn't quite make that possible as he sped read this book. He really enjoyed the story. I think he is actually contemplating if we as a family can pull off an RV adventure much like the characters in this book!

One of the things that really made this book stand out for him were all the details about minerals and gems that the family is exploring for. You see, this summer we took the kids gem mining in the mountains of NC. Austin still had all the details from that family activity fresh in his head. In fact, he still had the mineral chart from our trip. He quickly pulled that out as he was reading through this story. He still remembers the details and names of certain rocks and minerals and it's been several weeks since he read this book. When he remembers certain details and continues to remember and talk about it several weeks later, that's how I know he enjoyed the book.

This story begins with a family of four setting out on a cave exploring adventure. There are mysterious details in the story the really help build the reader's interest. The author Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley has written a fantastic book that kids are definitely going to enjoy. The story leaves the reader itching to get started on the next book in the series to continue unraveling the mystery!

One big plus that I really liked about this book is the glossary of terms in the back. When Austin needed to know what a word meant, he could simply flip to the back to read the definition. This book has such great educational qualities, but the kids won't be complaining because they'll be having too much fun reading and discovering to notice. I really do believe that's when the best learning takes place!

The illustrations in this book are some of the best I have seen done in a chapter book. I always feel like the pictures become a little boring as children progress into chapter books. Not the case for this book. Tanja Bauerle's illustration work in this story are wonderful. They are very eye catching. No matter how old kids grow, they still love illustrations.

The book costs $12.99 and is put out by Write On Time Books. That's about average price for a paperback chapter book. The book is also available on Amazon.

When we first got the details about this book I checked out the website to find out more. I was shocked to learn of the number of families that are living out the RV adventure. My husband definitely started running through the scenarios in his head. We could envision one day doing an RV adventure as a family. We already know full well that our boys are on board for that idea! So thanks to this book, we have a new family dream to add to the To Do List!


This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley and/or Wright on Time Books for this review.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another Goody for the Little Ones!

My three year old and I are having a delightful time with the book
Big Thoughts for Little People by Kenneth N. Taylor. The book is geared towards children ages 3-7. Right off the bat my son spotted the bright red ladybugs all over the inside cover of the book. It becomes a wonderful game when we read through the book. Wes tries to find all the ladybugs hidden throughout the pictures on each page. Sometimes he grows bored of stories, but this activity really helps keep him invested in the story. Each page has a larger than life brightly colored letter from the alphabet. This is another feature that my son really likes. He was calling out the letters each time we turned a page. The illustrations are just so much fun. The pictures are so brightly colored and filled with tons of details. Little ones are sure to spark up a conversation with each page. This is more of an interactive book for children. Each page has questions related to the picture and an extra question to help the child personally relate to the scenerio. I am a huge fan of life application of scripture and this book does a great job of showing children how to apply God's word to daily life. One of my favorite highlights of the book are the scripture quotes and reference at the bottom of each page. The one thing I noticed about the book is that some of the terminology feels a little odd to me, for example the words "perhaps" and "dear me!" Those are just not words in my regular vocabulary. On the other hand, it's an opportunity to introduce some new vocabulary words to my son. He didn't seem to notice or mind. This is a repackage edition book. I was amazed to learn that there are a million copies in print in thirty languages. What a great book for missionaries to share with little ones in foreign countries! This is a book we will continue to read over and over. The book is a nice hardcover with a glossy texture. The hardcover retails for $14.99. That seems to be an average price for a book this quality. It is a timeless book that is sure to stay in our collection. I can even imagine that in years to come my children could one day read this book to their own children.

Photobucket


Ages 3-7

Hardcover retails for $14.99

* Mama Buzz, and reviewers, were provided with a complimentary copy of this book for blog tour purposes*

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's a God Thing!!

I think this has to be by God's design that little cross type symbols appear in our dried tears!! I don't get why it's so hard to comprehend that we are God's creation!

Happy Halloween


Boys are ready for trick or treatin! :)  I'm ready to help them eat their candy! :)  Here is a preview of their costumes. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kiss the Camel

Here is the promised picture!!  You haven't lived until you've been kissed by a camel! That's right! I tried it!!  No one was around to catch a picture of me doing this either! :)  Camels have prickley tickley whiskers by the way.  If ever given the opportunity, you should take advantage of being kissed by a camel!!  Wonder if Jesus was ever kissed by a camel?  Yes, that's my weird thought process.  For some reason when I see camels I think of nativity scenes and then of course I think of Jesus!! :) 


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Practicing Face Painting Skillz!!!


I volunteered to help with face painting at our church's fall festival.  It was very fun and rewarding.  I was worried about not being able to do a good job.  So....of course I decided to practice before the big event. Wes and Austin were kind enough to lend me their faces.  Austin said is face was itchy and smuged it all off before I could get a picture.  I did capture a shot of Wes with a white lightning bolt.  He was good practice because he likes to wiggle around.  Next I practiced some spidey skills on my hand.  This is fun stuff.  Anyone want to come over and let me paint their face?? :)  Next up I'll get some pictures posted of the the festival.  It was so much fun for the kids!! Stay tuned for kiss the camel picture!! That one is a hoot!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Packages!



Our boys get really excited when packages arrive.  Grandparents have a way of making different holidays special for the kids.  It's hard living in different states. We don't get to see each other as often as we like.  When packages arrive it's a big reminder of grandparents who may be miles away, but close at heart.  I know I always love to see the look on someones face when they open a package.  So, I try hard to capture these moments to share with our family members!  Thanks Grandma "P" and Grandpa Rich!  The boys are excited about Halloween and using all the cool prizes you sent. 


And of course this one well....


He wanted to know where is package was! : (
He thinks all treats should include him as well.  He seems to think he's people!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A New Adventure for my Kid Sized History Buff


We are having a great time discovering a new history book alongside our homeschool curriculum. It’s called Draw and Write Through History by Carylee Gressman. Before I even had a chance to integrate it with the current materials we are using, Austin discovered it. He immediately asked to look through it. He loves all things history. He has been reading a lot about Egypt lately. When he saw the Egyptian illustrations on the cover his curiosity was peaked. He spent a good hour looking through the book. He made it a point to bring the page with the Legend of the Trojan Horse to my attention. You can even try a sample lesson from the book posted on their website.  The illustrations are done by Peggy Dick. Her experience as a graphic design artist is evident in this book. She has done a great job of simplifying what appear to be challenging drawings. This book is put out by CPR Publishing. It is reasonably priced at $12. The quality and content of this book make it well worth the price. You can purchase this book directly through the website here.

What really makes this book great is how it integrates the practice of cursive writing, history, and art. I am a big fan of combining subjects. It really enhances the learning process for children. It also makes a subject like handwriting a bit more fun for a child that may dislike writing. This book would be perfect for supplementing history or Bible curriculum. Art is definitely the strong emphasis in this book. There are colorful illustrations throughout the book. Another nice feature is the step by step instructions on how to complete the drawings. It contains a wide variety of drawings. The style and content are appropriate for the targeted age group of ages 8 and up. I have a younger son who loves to do everything his big brother is doing. This is a book that I can easily adapt to include him. I really like how the author references  Bible verses.

When my son started the first drawing activity in Draw and Write Through History, I was amazed at his enthusiasm. He truly enjoyed the activity. He was very pleased with his drawing results. He usually doesn’t want to color in pictures, but with this book he took the time to carefully color in his pictures. He even went the extra step of blending the colors. After completing some leafy green plants from the creation story he was begging to jump ahead to the section about the Trojan Horse story.




His creative juices were definitely flowing at this point. He began drawing background details for his picture. Even my younger son was following along and making his own pictures. While he isn’t quite four, he could still understand the simple directions with help. It was definitely obvious in his artwork that he was drawing green plants. Any activity that I can use together with my kids makes for a more peaceful and productive school day! The only area that may be challenging for us is the amount of cursive writing practice listed on each page. It seems just a bit lengthy. Handwriting is not a favorite subject for my third grader. We are tackling that subject this school year. Austin completed second grade in public school. The schools in our state are not teaching cursive writing. This was one of many factors that persuaded us to return to homeschool. I am hoping that my little history buff will find the cursive writing process more pleasurable since it is combined with wonderful history and Bible tidbits. We will happily continue to use Draw and Write Through History with our other curriculum. 






**disclosure: This is a Mama Buzz review. This product was graciously provided for free by
Carylee Gressman for our review.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun at the Air Show

We had a blast, literally at the air show!!!  I'm not kidding.....there were even explosions!!!  One that would require the fire trucks to rush to put out a smallish fire!  I think the explosions were intended, but the fires that wouldn't go out on their own, weren't.  Seems no one was hurt or anything like that.  It was a little erie.  Made me thankful we don't live in a war torn country like the middle east.  I didn't manage to get any pictures of the exlposions that took place in the finale due to camera batteries dying. Sorry to disappoint! :)  But we did manage to get some fun photos for your viewing pleasure.  Wes took a lot of persuading to go to the air show and of course some nice ear muffs as well.  Even with the muffs, he had some moments where he was not happy with the noise!  The explosions in the end were a bit much for him even though we were pretty far away.  I have to say, if I didn't know it was planned, I would have been terrified too!!




This Fella was Eyeballin ME!!


On a rainy day last week we spotted this guy on the a/c unit in the backyard. I love photographing praying mantis. They are a more than willing subject. They are not skittish. They will pose for you endlessly. They will however keep a close eye on you while you're doing this. What ever angle you move to, a mantis will rotate it's head with precision to keep an eye on you. And what EYEBALLS they have!!! I felt like he was staring into my soul!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Sleepy Sun Cover

We are BIG on bedtime stories. It is such a great way to unwind and wrap up the day. We have been reading a new bedtime story at our house. Sleepy Sun by Mari Priscilla Hanson,
Mari Hanson
is filled with delightfully colorful pictures. The illustrations seem to jump off the pages. My three year old instantly took note of the details as we began the story. The catchy rhymes throughout the story keep the reading extra fun. My older son particularly liked the detailed artwork showing various cultures and landmarks. I didn’t even realize that my three year old had the word cactus in his vocabulary until he saw the desert scenery. He was quickly calling out all the different things he saw throughout the story. This book has a way of igniting those precious conversations at bedtime with my boys. This story is a reminder of thankfulness that each morning we are greeted with sunshine.

This picture book is classical yet refreshing at the same time. This book is great for children of all ages. Despite the fact that this is a bedtime story this book is full of topics to teach and build upon, from new vocabulary words and colors to various cultures and ethnic diversity. You can purchase this story book at Amazon.com for $14.99.

Check out another review on this story book.

*** This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided for free by Mari Priscilla Hanson for this review.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Family Photos

Finally getting around to posting the pics from when my family was here. It was such a special week. Their visit was a true blessing. I'm so thankful for my parents and brother!! House always feels empty after family leaves. Takes a few days to shake off the sadness of missing them!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy October


We have had a busy week with a visit from my parents and brother here from Florida.  It was their first big trip with their RV.  We had a great week together, but as always, it goes by entirely to quick.  This time they brought their thrree dogs along for the trip.  It was a treat for the boys as well as our dog Ben.  He loved having doggy pals around to play with.  Wes just loved Belle.  She is a mini-pin.  This little doggy seemed to enjoy his company as well.  I think the picture speaks for itself. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boo Boo Buddy Update!!

Wes got his stitches out this morning!!! Woo Hoo!!  He did really well.  Then they gave him a colorful bouncy ball and all was right with the world again!  God is good all the time, all the time God is good! : )

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Little Boo Boo Buddy!

We have had some challenging times at our house over the last few days.  Our little man Wes took a tumble on the playground.  He bumped his chin pretty hard.  I knew immediately when I saw it that he would most likely need stitches.  Thankfully we were at the park with friends.  They were not only a huge help to us, but also a great blessing.  Amazing how God puts people around us at exactly the right moments!  God's providence never ceases to amaze me!  Our friend Mari helped get a bandaid on the little man and kept Austin for me while Wes and I headed to the doctor's office.  I was afraid they wold turn us away since it was so late in the afternoon.  I thought maybe they would send us to the ER.  We must have been a sight to see because they brought Wes and I some wet cloths so we could clean ourselves up. The nurse even brought him a little teddy bear.  Have I mentioned that I really love our doctor's office and staff!!??  Wes was as tough as he could be all things considered!  The doctor got about two stiches in and decided to leave it at that.  Wesley's sobs made his chin quiver, so I can't imagine what that must have been like for our doctor! It was so hard to watch as a mama!!  This was way worse then watching both the boys get shots!   But, five minutes afterwards Wes was happily digging prizes out the the bin at the doctors office.  Even had it in his mind to grab one for his big brother!!  That alone both impressed me and warmed my heart! Wesley is a good egg!! :)


I wish I could say that's where our story ended, but no, there's more!  I have been begging Wes to slow down.  Since the very day after the stitches he has been trying to run, jump, and climb on everything!  Wes only goes one speed, fast.  On Monday I grew excited at the thought that we only needed to make it through two more days before his stitches come out!  Then towards the end of the night, Wes was taking a bath.  He was still as restless as ever.  And then of course, just before I'm getting ready to take him out of the tub, he begins playing around in the tub crawling on his hands and knees rocking around.  No sooner than I said, No don't do that, it might make you slip" .....Guess what? Before I could even finish that sentence, he slightly slips and taps his chin on the top of the tub.  And again I had that sick feeling in my stomach.   I knew right away by the look on his face that he bumped that exact spot.   So I took a look at the stitches, and sure enough he bumped the spot where he has the stitches.  Thankfully he didn't bump it too hard, but enough that I knew we were going to have to go get it looked at.  He of course is begging that we don't go.  He remembers the last time we went.  We get ready to head out to the least desirable place to be, Urgent Care.  In my head thoughts of swime flu and stomach virus exposure are swirling through my head.  Yes, I'm a bit of a germaphobe!   This had to be done though.  We had to take care of our little man!  We get to the medical  center and it's teaming with people.  I see people waiting with barf buckets and others wearing face masks.  There is a big welcoming sign in huge bold letters that says if you are showings signs of flu-like symptoms let the front desk know immediately.  It was a sight.  I wanted to run for the hills.  But, I grinned and bared it.  I said a silent prayer to God asking for protection.  After filling out registration papers, Wes and I chose to wait in an outer open area away from all the sickly looking people.   Not long after we got there, Eric and Austin arrived.  They decided to come join us for moral support.  It was nice that we were all together.  After almost two hours, we finally got to see a doctor.  He takes one look at Wesley's chin and says that it's going to have to heal the way it is.  Wes was thrilled to know he wouldn't be getting any new stitches.  Apparently his cut would have been more prone to infection if they were to try and do more.  I think the cut will leave a slightly bigger scar than he originally had, but at least he didn't have to suffer more.  The fact that the cut is on his chin is another plus.  It will be hardly noticeable since it's in that particular spot.  Eric and I contemplated rolling him in bubble wrap until he's all healed up!  We know that's not a realistic option....but that thought did cross our minds!! For now we will have to wait and see what the doctor says tomorrow.  He is supposed to be getting the stitches out in the morning....of course that was all before the incident on Monday night! We'll keep you posted! Say a prayer for us!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Using Gross to Keep the Learning Fun!

Being that I'm a foodie, anytime I find a food related topic that can be applied to one of our subjects I can't help myself. As we started our study on ancient history I was searching for books to supplement our material. Just reading the title raised my curiosity. What do you think? (It's Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History) The title sounded so promising. I don't know why I love the gross stuff. I'm weird that way. I would laugh until I cried watching the TV show Fear Factor. If the challenge didn't involve eating something disgusting I was highly disappointed. Not that I would ever dare eat any of that stuff, but I do enjoy watching someone else give it a go. I checked out this book out from our local library. I had to go on quite the search for it. I cannot understand why the library only has one copy!! This is quality stuff. Don't kids love these kind of books?  I was a bit surprised! I think Austin might a bit squeamish. I think he gets that from Eric. Wes on the other hand, became a huge fan of the book. This was his book of choice, asking for me to read it multiple times. It was yet again one of those moments of truth. Wes is so much like me. Austin is just like Eric. Not to say Austin didn't find the book interesting, he did. He just wanted to be sure that he personally wasn't doing any eating immediately before or after the reading of this book. The illustrations in this book really add to the fun. There is so much history throughout the book, along with standout humor.  That was a definite highlight about this book for Austin.  I was even surprised that the Bible was referenced in this book.  That author mentions the diet of John the Baptist.  They didn't have these kinds of history books when I was a kid! Maybe if they did, I actually would have liked the subject back then! Thank goodness for homeschool! I get to take advantage of all the things I missed out on!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Freebie Fans!

 Well.....we tried hard to take advantage of Chick-Fil-A freebie offer on Monday. We got dressed in our sports fan t-shirts. We headed out for an earlier lunch. Then when we arrived at the restaurant the parking lot was insane. The parking lot was jam-packed with sports clad people. We didn't even attempt going in. We knew by the looks of it that obtaining lunch would require a very long wait. It was not a sacrifice we were willing to make. Being that it was lunch time, we were famished. I had also spent that morning doing a run. My hunger was extra powerful at that moment. The first place that popped into my head was Moe's. It probably came to mind because it was a restaurant close by that our whole family easily agrees on. When anyone says the name Moe's I automatically start hearing in my head someone shouting, "Welcome tooooooooooooo Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeessss!" This franchise has certainly coined that term. So off to Moe's we headed. When we walked into the restaurant it was fairly dead inside. After we were sat down with our lunch, more people began to trickle in. I knew instantly that we weren't the only ones that headed to this restaurant as plan B. Quite a few folks came in wearing sports shirts. I guess we all like a freebie, but when it involves a long wait and huge crowds.....sometimes it's just better to go with Plan B!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Artists at Work

Texture Monsters
Giving the monsters an environment.

We are doing some monsterly artwork at our house. The boys made texture monsters by using the soles of their shoes. Wes made a print of his sole with paint. Austin made a print using a colored pencil. Then we gathered all our monster story books for some inspiration on creating their own monsters. This project definitely has us thinking about the story WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. We are so excited that the story is being made into a movie. The trailer to the movie looks amazing!!
Once the boys created their monsters, the next task was to draw an environment for the monsters to live in.  Austin quickly sketched out a street scene for the monsters to reside on.  This post will have to be a two part deal.  After the boys complete painting the scenery we will have a second post to show the finished project.  You really should check out the trailer!! :)See the trailer here!  Check back soon for the finished artwork!! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sticker Boy!


Have I failed to mention that life with Wes is NEVER EVER boring??? He always manages to give us something to laugh about! I usually know he is up to something when he is very quiet. He was born noisy. The only time he is very quiet is when he is busy at work. These free stickers arrived in the mail. He just thought that was the coolest thing ever to arrive in the mail. Well, that and packages from grandparents. He is a smart kid! On the day the stickers arrived he made sure to stick every single sticker on his legs while watching his favorite cartoon. On this particular day when I decided to investigate the quietness, I found one very content sticker boy! At our house we always make sure the camera is ready to go!

Wes is growing up fast! In the blink of an eye he became potty trained, learned how to swim, and now officially knows how to write his name, or at least his nick name. (Wes) Actually, if you call him by his full name, he will inform you that his name isn't Wesley, it is in fact, Wes. Be sure to call him Wes unless you want a stern correcting from a three year old! :) Trust me as one who has been corrected! All I know is that all this rapid growing up must be from trying to be just like his favorite big brother! Next thing I know he'll be asking us to take the training wheels off his bike!! Oh my!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This One is for the G-Parents!

Okay G-Parents!! Just so you don't have to miss out on the funny memorable moments, here is a video clip that you will especially enjoy. Just don't forget to pause the music play before you play this clip!
video

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Excavator Brothers







I am loving the new season of life that we are presently in. We are in the beginning season of a new homeschool year. Life is exciting here at our house, and I am determined to keep it that way. Creativity don't fail me now! I fear that about three months from now I will run out of steam. For now I am plugging along strong! Thanks be to God! I am loving that we are not having to rush our third grader out the door to school only to see him again near three in the afternoon. I love not having to rush through an afternoon of snacks, homework, dinner, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, bedtime. Our days seem a little less hurried and a lot more relaxed. In spite of that, I really think a good bit of learning is taking place. I am also amazed at how much less fighting takes place among the boys. It seemed like the boys did a bit more of that after Austin got home from school during the last school year. I think the difference is the pace of our lives. This homeschool business certainly seems to suit Austin! Today He got to do quiet reading time outside in the backyard! We were lovin it. Yesterday we got to put some real archeological skills into practice. We are reading Story of the World Vol. 1

A very kind friend let me borrow a teaching guide that goes along with it. We have been having so much fun. Thank you, Mari! Austin has been reading books on the topic like a maniac. I'm all for maniac book reading! This past weekend we were in a store that had these fossils buried in plaster paris along with the mini tools to dig them out. They were on clearance and I couldn't resist them. The boys were with me when I discovered these, but I managed to purchase them on the down low. I think they were distracted the many other toys in the store. They didn't see me sneakingly make the purchase. So as we finished our study topic on archaeology, they were more than thrilled about our activity of the day. My little adventurers that they are, worked hard to dig out the fossils! Hopefully we will continue to have many more exciting days like this at our house.