Thursday, August 29, 2013

An update

Just a quick update post...first off, Lego has had a great first week of Kindergarten.  We shall see how it goes when the honeymoon phase wears off, but we are thrilled that so far he seems very happy.

In other news, we have new little boy at our house.  He arrived last night, had a quick bath and went right to bed and slept for 13 hours, so we really got to meet him today.  He will be four next week just like Flower (a party is definitely in order).  He has had a rough start, and that shows a bit in his behavior, but underneath is definitely a loving little boy.  He has played sweetly with my kids for the most part.

This weekend Hubby is taking our three on a little beach vacation with his parents, so it will just be me and our Safe Families boy for the weekend.  Not sure if this is good or bad- plenty of time to love him up and get to know him.  He has been seriously testing the boundaries when he is not snuggling with me, so I hope we can cement our relationship a bit.  That said, I am a bit afraid that he might get possessive of me and have a hard time sharing once the other kids come back, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  It is almost as if I can read his mind...he wants our affection, but has been burned before and is pretty sure that we will disappear on him, so he is being naughty to see if we will leave him.  Classic behavior, but not easy to deal with.  I'm a bit bummed to miss the vacation, but he can't come out of state with us, and it seems unkind to pass him off to another family for a weekend when he's just arrived (and arrived from a two week stay in a state shelter at that).  So he and I will hang out and finish unpacking the new house.  I predict we will all have a fun weekend, a bit out of the ordinary which can be good.  If you'd have told me on Memorial Day that I would be spending my Labor Day weekend in a new house I wouldn't have believed you.  Oh the difference two months can make!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty Years Ago Today...

Half a century since Martin Luther King gave his most famous speech.  What a difference 50 years can make.  Whenever I think of MLK Jr. I am taken back to a small Kindergarten classroom in rural Iowa where, as a student teacher, I witnessed the saddest display of "teaching" I've ever seen.  It was a lesson on Martin Luther King Jr, complete with coloring sheet, ignorance and blatant, yet unintentional, racism.  Perhaps the worst affliction is to hold a bias we don't even know that we have.  This teacher had good intentions, but her life had never allowed her to intersect with those who were different from her.  I swore that day that I would go out of my way to intentionally expose myself to a rainbow of people, and this led me to some wonderful years of teaching, some wonderful friendships, and the chance to be inspired by people, black, white and in between, who do truly work tirelessly towards justice.  50 years after the "I Have a Dream" speech, we still have a LONG way to go towards racial equality, but we are further down that road than we were.  Here are a few of my favorite MLK quotes and a few cute pictures for good measure :)

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King, Jr.
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Martin Luther King, Jr.

 "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School!

Lego is off to Kindergarten today.  He was SO excited, we found him waiting in the van.  We took him to school where we left him literally skipping towards the playground while holding hands with the Principal.  Yes, no doubt he will know everyone at the school by the end of the week- and no doubt they will know him.  Happy First Day of School!
In the car 15 minutes early...ready to go!

First Day of Kindergarten August 26, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Amazing Maps

This is a repost from my old blog.  It gets a lot of traffic over there still, so I thought I'd bring it over here.  Enjoy!

Lego has been very interested in maps for quite a while.  He started with a US map puzzle, and quickly learned all the states and capitals.  From there, he took on the world map.  For his fourth birthday, he requested a map party, and he received wall maps.  We have had so much fun with these maps that I wanted to share with you some of the map-related things we've been up to.  

Where We've Been Stickers

Using a different colored star sticker for each member of our family, we've marked where each of us has traveled to.  We have a goal to take our kids to all 50 states before they leave home.  We're not doing too badly, but a trip out West is definitely in order!  It is fun to see how excited the kids are to add stickers after our camping trips.  

Amazing Places

I found a wonderful set of printable cards that show 50 amazing places around the globe.  You can purchase a set for a few dollars at Montessori for Learning.  We slowly worked our way through the cards, numbering each card and then writing the number on the corresponding location on the map.  If you look closely in the pictures, you can see the little numbers.  After visiting Mammoth Cave, we decided that it, too, was an amazing place, so we made a card of our own for it.  We hope to add more places as we discover them.

To find the places on the map and learn a bit about them, we used two wonderful books:
Childrens Amazing Places Encyclopedia

National Geographic Kids World Atlas
We looked up each amazing place in these two books.  If we couldn't find one in either book, we turned to trusty old Google on the iPad.

Amazing Places Games and Connections

It is amazing how many times we've come across reference to one of our amazing places.  It gives me such joy to see him making these connections.  For example, we just saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and there is a line about the Pyramids and the Pharoah, Rameses.  Lego excitedly told me that they were the Pyramids of GIZA, and that Rameses built the Ramesseum. I would be lying if I said that I knew all or even most of these places before we started- I have learned a ton of history and geography. It is so fun to learn alongside Lego (and humbling...his memory for this type of information astounds me).

We keep our two reference books and our amazing place cards in a basket next to our maps. To keep these places fresh in our minds, we like to play games with them.  We'll do amazing place riddles, run and touch this amazing place, or practice our writing skills playing amazing place Jeopardy or hangman (have I mentioned that I have a unique little guy?  I realize that a game of geography Jeopardy is not every 4 year old's idea of a good time- nor should it be.  These activities might be better suited for an older child if your kid doesn't happen to have the same passion for maps. Don't force it- learning is supposed to be fun and interest-driven.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Little Danger is Good for the Soul

One of the best thing about campgrounds is that every now and then you find some old playground equipment.  You know, the really fun kind that probably aren't technically legal anymore?!  Merry go rounds, wooden teeter totters and the really high slides?  We found one of these in Nebraska, and the kids had a blast.  At first they were pretty is pretty high...but once they went down once, they wanted to go again and again.  I was able to watch their confidence grow in front of my eyes.  Safety is great and all that, but there is something to be said for letting kids take some risks.  They had a blast.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Meant to Be

We just completed a surprise move from a house that we loved into a new house that we love, and can see ourself in for years to come.  We keep saying that this was meant to be, and while it is fresh in my mind, I want to record why.

- This house popped up on my computer screen when I was looking into building an addition on our current home.  We were not looking to move AT ALL, but I clicked on it because I love looking at houses, and something about it caught my eye.  I noticed it has multiple kitchens, so I called Matt over to look.  Then we discovered some other little gems about it.

- The house we are looking to buy happens to be the VERY LAST STREET in the school district that will be the very best for our son.

- The house is just over the border into the next county, and therefore has very low taxes, in a school district that typically has very high taxes.

- It is less than a mile to the train station, so Hubby's commute is shorter, despite living further from the city.  He leaves later and gets home earlier!

- The gifted coordinator at Lego's new school is our pediatrician's sister in law...frankly, just the fact that there IS a gifted coordinator at the school is pretty awesome.  That we "know" her is just icing.

- I have always had an interest in working with parenting teens, as well as expanding our work with Safe Families.  Now we have room to do that.  In fact, our house has a 1 bedroom apartment attached that we hope to share with people who can use a place to call home for a while.  

- Without knowing it, we had already assembled an awesome team to help us make decisions and ultimately go for it.  Our realtor sold my parents their house 15 years ago and has continued to be a dear friend of the family.  We had a wonderful mortgage broker who recently helped us refinance our old house.  We met a lawyer we just love when she drew up our wills...she is competent but not at all arrogant and is a lot of fun to work with.  The final member of our little dream team is our financial advisor who we've recently started working with.  Because he already had all our info, he was able to quickly lay out all our finances for us and help us make the decision to go for it.  Mortgage brokers and lawyers aren't always known for being wonderful and full of integrity, but ours sure are!

- The week that we first saw the house, Hubby was granted a generous stock bonus at work.

- Despite the stock bonus, we were still feeling unsure about money issues.  We asked God to send us the money we would need if this was meant to be.  At the VERY SAME TIME that I was signing documents to officially put our house on the market, Hubby was called into his boss' office and given a small spot bonus.  Right after the other bonus.  Talk about reassurance?!

- Our house sold in a week.  And more than that, it sold to an elderly couple in our neighborhood who needed a ranch home with no stairs.  Win for them and for us.  

- We were afraid that our house would not appraise high enough to sell.  Turns out, the new owners paid cash and did not require an appraisal.  Did you catch that?  CASH OFFER?!  No contingencies. 

- The house we wanted stayed on the market while we sold our house- even through the tense time between when we agreed to sell our house and before we were certain we had the new house.  That was a scary leap-of-faith sort of time.  Risk is not my favorite thing, to be honest, but I'm so glad we went for it.

- The appraisal on the new house came back at exactly the amount we had agreed upon for the contract.  Exactly.

- My wonderful parents let us (and loads of our stuff) stay with them while we showed our house, and again for the two weeks we were "homeless" between houses.  Because of them, having to vacate our house in less than three weeks was doable.

- We have two dear friends and a set of grandparents who have recently moved, and they were kind enough to provide us with all our box and packing needs.  They even loaned us cars, their hard work and watched our kids for us.  And they didn't laugh too hard when we said we were moving, even after saying that we were SO glad that it was them moving and not us.  We are so blessed.

So there you have it...some of the reasons that we feel this is truly the house we are meant to have.  From the day we first saw the house to the day we moved in was exactly 2 months.  Not what we planned to do this summer, but we are so thrilled with our new place.  And as I've said before- this is SO CLEARLY a house meant for sharing.  Now we just wait to find out who is going to come through this house and into our lives next...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Apple tree

Planted in May 2011

First Apples, August 2012

Saying Goodbye!  August 2013
Looks like the trees aren't the only that that have been growing!  And yes, we are aware that our little ladies look a lot alike!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Midwestern Roadtrip 2013- Part 2

Day 3- This morning we headed over to the ranger station and museum at Ponca State Park.  It was raining, but the kids got to explore the kids area of the museum with turtles and toads and puzzles.  We made plans for our time here.  After lunch and naps we headed over to the West Shelter for a Critter Connection- the kids got to hold a snake (Flower's new necklace of choice and the beginning of her begging us for a pet) and a box turtle, and see furs and antlers.  Then we went into the town of Ponca and found the most wonderful treasure- an old soda fountain counter at the back of the local pharmacy.  They offered sodas and phosphates, floats and ice cream.  The woman who worked there could not have been nicer (her grandson was there enjoying a cone of his own) and we all enjoyed the treats. Then we set out on a geocaching adventure and found 3 caches...and didn't find one, but did find a neat beaver-gnawed tree after trekking through some LOOONG grass.  

Great ranger station at Ponca State Park

Check out this cabin- luxury accommodations!

Nebraska- also not flat!

ranger talk 

finding some geocaches

She found one in a tree!

This old fashioned soda counter in the drugstore was AWESOME!

Searching for the elusive geocache

Didn't find it, but do you see where a beaver gnawed at the tree?

Day 4- Today we started off by moving to our tent site...goodbye wonderful cabin.  The site was incredibly sunny to start off, but huge.  It ended up nice and shady in the afternoon.  After getting hot and sweaty moving sites, we went into town to Outlaw's Pizza for lunch.  It was awesome and the kind of small business you just have to root for.  Then we came back and Hubby took the big kids fishing while Little Bee napped.  They both caught a Blue Gill.  The park provided all the equipment!  Then we roasted hot dogs and s'mores for dinner before heading into Ponca for the Days of 56 Rodeo.  It was an awesome, local culture type of thing.  The kids really liked seeing the horses.  Lego made friends with the couple sitting behind us and he traded them state information for rodeo information.  The highlight of the event was the "Critter Catch" which Flower decided to do.  Essentially, they released dozens of adorable pets (bunnies, chickens, pigs, ducklings) into the area at the same time they released about 200 children.  Anyone who caught an animal got to keep it as a pet (or it could be returned to the hospitality desk, as the announcer said)  Luckily, Flower didn't catch anything (I'd say there was more than one 4H ringer in there...any kid who knows how to carry a chicken by its feet has done this before) but she did spend the rest of the evening asking us why SHE doesn't have a pet.  Lots of fun, and right to bed when we got home!
Our cabin

Outlaw good!

Hotdogs for dinner

At the rodeo

Waiting for the hot sun to go down!

The rodeo queens and princesses

Even Little Bee liked it.

But nobody liked it more than this little lady

She's out there somewhere doing the critter catch...poor pets!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Garden Journal- The Final Installment

Perhaps the hardest part of moving out of our house is saying goodbye to our beloved garden.  We have put a lot of time and sweat into the garden, and have gotten back at least as much in enjoyment and tasty food.

Here is the beginnings of the first garden in the Spring of 2010

Add in a lot of dirt and hard work...with baby Flower on my back

More dirt, more hard work...this time with Baby Bee on my back.

And here are a few shots of our garden now:
We are enjoying the first tomatoes...but the new owners should still have a bunch to enjoy as well!

The peas are just finishing up...getting a bit dry

But Little Bee doesn't care- she enjoys foraging and scheduling her own snack time!

Happy tomatoes, lots of peppers on the plants- from bell to spicy spicy (and I'm not sure which is which!)

The lettuce is just about done, but the zukes and cukes are just getting started- I think we'll miss out on those :(

The tower of beans in the background is doing well,  and all those carrots are coming with us
great helper!

This is only a fraction of them...we have LOTS!

Third time's a charm with the rhubarb...finally got some this year.

Beautiful squash blossoms!
So we will say goodbye to our garden, take with us a few veggies and a whole lot of knowledge we didn't have four years ago when we started.  Looking forward to building new gardens in our new house and watching those evolve.