January 31, 2012

The End of January?

Goodness, this month has flown by.

Last January we were slammed with snow storm after snow storm. This month has been relatively mild. We had a couple inches of snow two weekends ago (I think.) We've had some rain too, but for the most part the weather has been really nice. Right now it is sunny and 62 degrees; tomorrow calls for rain but a high of 63 degrees! No complaints from me, I'll take it.

Peabody is so much fun these days. She is saying more and more recognizable words and phrases. She cannot bear to be congested or snotty. "Boba, ri' deeeer," she says, pointing to her nose (booger, right there!)

She calls me Honey now. It is awfully cute with her little voice.

Socks are "yosh" and are removed whenever possible.
Shoes are still "plah-plops" and shown to everyone she meets.
Barney is Bobby.
Church is "chitch."
The Boogie is Deedah.
My brother is Unnah Woo-ey. Ha! That's my favorite.
Her blankie is "lolly."
"Ah wa'" is "I wanna." "Ah wa' eat. Ah wa' Bobby. Ah wa' lolly. Ah wa' beebee [baby.] Ah wa' milmy [milkies.] Ah wa' moowee [movie.] Ah wa' Ma'y Poppy! Honey! Honey! Ma'y Poppeeee!" Mary Poppins is popular with all of the small people in this house.

She sings a lot. She likes to sing "Ring Around the Rosy" and the "Twinkle Twinkle/ABC" song. Her own version of the Barney "I Love You" song is, "I luh me, you luh me." The other day while singing it she saw a picture of my mom and sang, "I luh me, I luh Lela."

She's recently decided that she likes yogurt, and stands by the fridge banging on the door and yelling, "Huuunneeee, lola [yogurt] ri' deeeeer!" If she thinks something is yummy she says, "Mmmmm, mnom, mnom, mnom."

If she is hurt she says "ah-chee, ah-chee! [ouchie, ouchie] A boo-boooooo." I have my suspicions that sometimes she is just itchy.

She hasn't had a hives outbreak in quite a while. I can't remember when the last one was. Maybe she's outgrowing it ... or maybe it's environmental/seasonal and is dormant for now. And now that I've actually written about it she will probably pop some out tomorrow.

Her hair is finally, finally long enough for a teeny tiny ponytail!

The Boogie has been really sweet lately. "Honey," she's been telling me, "I'll never stop loving you."

Since Papaw died she talks about heaven a lot. "Honey, I will be happy when I go to heaven ... but I will miss you."

Once she told me, "I love you the most!"
"Why is that?" I asked.
"Because you're my mom and you're sweet," she answered.

She loves to play games and do workbooks and sticker books. She pretend plays a lot with Peabody. They pretend they are animals or veterinarians or mothers with babies. We have a couple of older LeapPads that they have been playing with a lot, reading books. We let the Boogie play games on pbskids.org (she calls it "PBS kids dot ord dot com") and I must say, she learns a lot on there!

She makes her own bed every morning, gets herself dressed, and folds her pjs and puts them away. She still requires some specific direction while doing it but can clean up the entire playroom by herself. I try to help some because I know she didn't make the entire mess -- and in fact probably didn't make much of the mess at all -- but sometimes I just can't help and she can do it all herself.

Although it doesn't happen much anymore, she still says some things incorrectly and cracks us up. The other day she was singing a song that she learned in church: "Tony Chestnut knows God loves him." For each syllable of Tony Chestnut the child points to somewhere on their body, toe, knee, chest, nut (forehead.) Except the Boogie was singing "Tony Chestbutt knows God loves him." She really thought that was how it went and focused intently on pointing to the correct body part. When she said "butt" she did point to her forehead so she had that part of the song right. When we got home from church I immediately got the camera out to record her singing it ... and she sang "Tony ChestNUT." That just figured.

She and Eric watched all of the "How It's Made" episodes on Netflix. She would ask to watch it during dinner: "Can we watch 'Halits Made'?"

She went through another phase of crying at night. I would go to her as soon as I heard her, but she would quickly escalate to all-out wailing before I could get there, which was different -- normally it sounds like a coughing, almost fake crying. I thought it was night-terrors and read that you aren't supposed to wake the child during them, but she so quickly got louder and louder that she was waking everyone else. We had to take her into another room each time and turn on the light and talk to her. We'd ask her questions and she would mumble unintelligible responses. Her eyes would be glazed over and unfocused, and if we stopped talking she would immediately close them and seemingly fall back to sleep, only to begin wailing again. If we didn't let her close her eyes after a few minutes she would rouse enough to snap out of the crying and would be totally fine and completely happy! The next morning I would try to unobtrusively quiz her about the night before -- she never remembered anything. It started 2-3 weeks ago, but the last few nights she hasn't been doing it at all. It's very strange and I can't put my finger on what is causing it, unless she is going through a growth spurt or something.

Time for a walk! It's a lovely day.

January 28, 2012

Calling All Homskoolurz

Although I would like to pretend that the Boogie will be 4 (again) on her next birthday, the actual fact of the matter is that she will be 5 in April. Boo-hoo! How can this be happening???

We are planning to start homeschooling in the fall. I have been looking at kindergarten curriculum and I am completely overwhelmed! Things certainly have changed in 25 years since I started kindergarten. My mom had a classroom curriculum -- I remember her big binders of daily lessons with lots of things crossed out or adapted because they were for a full classroom. Now there are seemingly unending options and resources for teaching at home and I'm having a hard time knowing where to start, despite some very helpful talks with other homeschooling parents.

Here's what I know I want/don't want:
~I definitely want a Bible-based curriculum. I'm sure there are some great secular options out there into which I could add my own Bible studies, but I am looking for something that incorporates Scripture and Biblical teachings into the other subjects as well.
~I prefer the King James version so would welcome suggestions of curriculum that use it.
~I prefer to purchase a whole curriculum and not have to piece together subjects myself (I'm sure I'll end up doing that down the road but want to make things as simple as possible for our first year.)
~I am not interested in enrolling in a satellite or correspondence-type school at this time.
~I am not interested in video/DVD or internet classes at this time.

Homeschooling parents, what do you recommend? What have you used and liked, or used and disliked? I am particularly interested in those of you who have taught kindergarten fairly recently, although I welcome all input.  I am hoping to attend the Pennsylvania homeschool convention in May, so I'd like to have a pretty good idea by then in order to look through books while there, and hopefully make a decision in order to purchase everything soon afterward. I want plenty of time to familiarize myself with it before the end of the summer so that I'm not rushing to get organized at the last minute!

January 26, 2012

Impromptu Roadtrip

Around Christmas time we realized we would be making a road trip to Kentucky very soon. We made a few little plans ahead of time, though most things couldn't be done until we were almost ready to leave.

We rented a car for the drive. Both of our little cars get great mpg; however, they are on the small side and not too comfy for long rides. We got a Nissan Altima again (we had an Altima when we went to Washington) which was just right.

On Thursday 1.5.2011 Eric left work early and met me at Hertz to pick up the rental. We came home and loaded up the car and got on the road around 3 p.m. We stopped right outside of Baltimore, MD, to eat dinner and walk around a mall to let the little ones stretch their legs. Hindsight being what it is we stayed far too long there -- we should have grabbed something quickly and kept driving. Eric drove for a while longer, then I took the wheel for the last 150 miles into Charleston, WV. We arrived around 1:30 a.m. I was so sleepy for the last 50 miles. It was very strange: I felt wide awake inside my head but it was physically difficult to keep my eyes open. I prayed a lot! I stopped at a rest area to walk around in the cold and wake up, and to get something with caffeine. Eric woke up and offered to drive but he'd been awake far longer than I had that day and it made me more nervous to think of him driving. We made it safely, praise the Lord.

We stayed in a Best Western in Charleston and while our room was fairly clean, the bathroom needed some attention. By the time I realized it, the girls were both in bed and we were exhausted so we didn't ask for a different room. The breakfast was good and when I checked out in the morning I mentioned the un-clean bathroom. The girl at the desk apologized and thanked me for letting her know. All well and good. Then she went on to say that the lighting in the bathrooms wasn't very good and made them appear dingy. Really? That just annoyed me. There is a difference between dingy, and actual dirt and hair on the floor and mold in the shower.

Because of our late arrival the night before, we got on the road a little later on Friday morning, and took our time driving the rest of the way to Louisville. We checked into another Best Western (bigger, cleaner, nicer than the one in WV), quickly changed our clothes and freshened up, and went to the funeral home late Friday afternoon for the viewing.

It was bittersweet to be there. On one hand it was so good to see my parents and Washington family; to see my Mamaw and have her meet Peabody and see the Boogie; to see so many other family members whom I haven't seen in years. But my Papaw ... he didn't look like himself, at all. All of my life he had a neatly trimmed beard and mustache, but the staff in the nursing home shaved his beard. He was so, so thin. I thought that once I saw him I would have some closure and feel that he really was gone, but it still felt unreal because he didn't look like the man I remember.

Lots of people came and went at the viewing. That part was nice. There were flowers everywhere, and some folks brought food. I even got to see my friend Kristi and meet her husband -- her family lived next door to Mamaw and Papaw for years, and I've known Kristi for longer than I can even remember. I saw aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and third cousins once removed or however that works. The Boogie met a new cousin (actually the daughter of one of my cousins), Little B, who is five years old. They became instant BFFs and played constantly whenever they were together. We stayed until the end of the viewing time, then picked up White Castle and went to Mamaw's apartment to spend time with my folks for just a little longer.

The funeral was Saturday 1.7.2011 at noon. The weather was beautiful, a mild sunny day. I don't know how many people came to the funeral but I would guess 60-70? Vee and I sang "Be Thou My Vision" before anyone got up to talk about Papaw. It's a good thing we went first because if we had waited I think I would have been crying too much to sing. My brother Ben told some funny stories about Papaw. I want to write this one down because it just personified the Papaw we knew.

We kids got to visit Mamaw and Papaw a lot when we were young. For a while we lived in Columbus, OH which was within driving distance, but even after we moved away we would fly back to visit. Ben said that when Papaw would pick him up from the airport they would drive back to the house and after riding in the car for a little bit and chatting, Papaw would look at Ben and ask in his Kentucky accent, "Ben, are you a bozo?"
"No, Papaw," Ben would answer, "I'm not a bozo."
They'd drive a little more and talk a little more and then Papaw would turn to Ben and ask again, "Are you a bozo?"
"No, Papaw," Ben would answer again, "I'm not a bozo."
They would continue on to Papaw's house and pull into the garage and unload the luggage. As they would head toward the door into the house Papaw would ask Ben one last time, "Ben, are you sure you're not a bozo?"
"No, Papaw!" Ben would assure him, "I'm not a bozo."
"Good," Papaw would reply, gesturing to a sticker on the window of the outside door, "because there's no bozos allowed."
I can't remember exactly what that sticker looked like, but I think it was a lot like this.
My mom's brother, the one we called and whom I still always think of as Uncle Bubby, talked quite a bit about his dad, and Pops told a story as well. Pops officiated during the service, and after giving everyone opportunity to speak he gave Papaw's testimony of salvation and presented the gospel as well. I had brought a bag of  books to keep the girls occupied but forgot it in the car; they did really well, considering. Even the Pheebs was minimally antsy and mostly quiet.

The hardest part of the service, for me, was at the end when just the family gathered around while the lid to the casket was closed. We drove to the cemetery where Pops said a few more words, and one of the funeral home directors pulled roses out of the arrangement and handed them around to the family. Then we drove over to a church for the reception. Ours was one of the last cars to leave and as we drove away I could see the little excavator driving toward the gravesite to fill in the hole. That made me feel very strange ...

Many people stayed for the reception and there was SO much food! It was nice to see friends and family.

Mom with her brother and sister

Me with my auntie

Me with my uncle
The Boogie and Peabody and Little B played and played.

After the reception we went back to our hotel to change our clothes, then headed back to Mamaw's apartment again. Poor Mamaw and Mom and Pops -- they were surely exhausted but they graciously put up with us! The girls just loved seeing grandparents and aunts and uncles. One wall in Mamaw's hallway is covered with pictures. I love to look at them. Can you guess who this is?
The larger picture on the left is my mom, and the smaller one to the right is her sister. I think Peabody looks a lot like my mother.

The next morning we went to Mamaw's church for Sunday morning service, then back to Mamaw's for lunch. B&D had a series of unfortunate events and weren't able to make it to church; they thought we were leaving immediately after services. Meanwhile we went back to Mamaw's for lunch and more time with family before hitting the road around 4 p.m. We never did get to say goodbye to B&D but were able to spend a little more time with Mom's sister, 4 of her kids, and Little B.
Mamaw's nesting dolls were fun for little fingers

Peabody could not get enough of her Pops. She was constantly climbing up to sit with him.

Mom drew a skeleton for the Boogie

The Boogie with Papaw's Dodger bear

It was fun to play with Auntie Vee!

Peabody climbed into Pops' lap and passed out!

Mamaw & the Boogie


We drove back to Charleston on Sunday night and did NOT stay in the same Best Western, but rather in the Fairfield Inn right next door where we paid more money for a smaller room with smaller beds. That hotel had the tiniest elevators I have ever seen! There were 3 of them side by side, and we could barely squeeze ourselves and the luggage cart into one. It's a hotel, people have luggage! Wouldn't it make more sense to have two larger elevators? But at least it was clean and the breakfast was pretty good.

On Monday we drove the rest of the way home, stopping plenty of times for small people to stretch their legs. That was probably the hardest day for the girls. They had spent so much time in the car already, and it was a good 8 hours of driving on Monday, plus the time for stops. They did so well, though. Peabody insisted on removing shoes and socks and would play with her toes endlessly. Such a strange child. I am beyond grateful for our portable DVD player! We had to make an emergency Walmart stop to buy some velcro for it, but I was able to strap it to the back of my headrest and both girls could see it. They watched hours and hours of Curious George, Dora the Explorer, Backyardigans, and Mary Poppins.

I'm really thankful for all of the electronics that made our trip easy: the GPS, Eric's iPhone, my Nook, the DVD player. When I was a kid my mom sewed these sort of aprons that fit over the back of the front seats in the car. They were covered with pouches which were filled with books, coloring books, crayons, toys, travel games. The glove compartment was full of paper maps. Now we take multiple electronics. I'm not sure if it's an improvement but it certainly makes things nice for the adults ...

It wasn't an easy trip in many ways, but it was worth every mile driven and every dollar spent on gas and every fast food burger to be able to see my family.

January 17, 2012

December Revisited

Christmas was on the last Sunday of the year and I guess because of that I felt like I had more time to prepare for it. My holiday stress level was at an all-time low which was really nice, although I'll admit that it made me often wonder what important things I was forgetting to do ...

Eric's company Christmas dinner was on Friday December 9th at a local caterer. For the first time we went to the cocktail hour before dinner. Hey, we don't drink, so why go to the cocktail hour, you know? But it worked out for Eric to pick me up from work early and we got to the dinner early. My, what we have been missing all of these years. I knew that there would be appetizers. I just didn't realize the extent of the appetizers. There were tables set up along the exterior of the room with some food. Eric declared that he was going to save himself for dinner, so I got a small plate with a little bit of pasta, and we found a place to stand along a wall. We soon realized that we were right outside the kitchen door. Every four or five minutes a server would come out with a plate of something delicious. "Spring roll?" they would ask, proffering their platter. "Stuffed mushroom? Crab cake? Shrimp? Lamb chop? Chicken cheese steak? Dumpling?" There was no end of amazing food coming out of that kitchen. Eric soon forgot his resolve to wait for the meal. Then we went in to dinner itself which was nothing spectacular. It is pretty much the same every year: soup, salad, roll, main course, dessert. It is served in courses and takes about 2.5-3 hours to get through it because there are so many people to serve. I told Eric that next year we should go for the appetizers and leave before the dinner!

The next evening was my work's Christmas dinner which is always at Maggiano's. We look forward to that all year: good food along with good company make for a really enjoyable evening. As always the food was incredible and there was an abundance of it. I could have made a meal out of the appetizers alone. By the time dessert was served I was stuffed but of course I had to try that too! We ate too much but enjoyed every bite of it.

On Christmas Eve Eric's immediate family met at 52 for our traditional gift exchange. Normally we have it after the evening service, but because everyone had the day off we were able to schedule it for the afternoon which was really nice -- all of the kids were wide awake and happy!

On Christmas morning the four of us opened our gifts before church. The Boogie was so excited. As each thing emerged from wrapping paper she would exclaim, "It's just what I wanted!" Ah, appreciation. When Peabody would open a gift she would chant "Rip rip rip" as she tore the paper off, and then exclaim "A box! Yay!" After the morning service BIL/SIL1 and their crew came over for a nice relaxed dinner. The kids played with new toys and the grown-ups played several rounds of Snap! which was hilarious as always.

This is only a sampling of all of the fun things the girls received. They play with their new toys daily! Peabody got a new baby doll; play food, bottles, and dishes for the baby; a high chair, stroller, and bed for the baby; an adorable old-fashioned doll pram! among lots of other great gifts. Some of the Boogie's favorite gifts are her shopping baskets with "healthy" play food; her doctor dress-up outfit and doctor's kit; the toy nativity; the many workbooks and sticker books (her "homework.") Honestly they got so many things I can't remember them all, and they really do play with almost everything every single day. I blitzed through the play room afterward and pulled out a bunch of their old toys -- some went to the church nursery, some worn out things got thrown away, and several things went up to the attic to be "forgotten" for a few months.

However, don't you know that a couple of days after Christmas I came into the living room to find this:

Some things are the same for every kid: boxes are more fun than toys!

Normally we have a family party with MIL's side of the family before Christmas. Because Christmas was on a weekend we pushed that gathering to the 31st. In recent years the Delaware family has done the driving to New Jersey, but one of Eric's cousins had just had knee surgery, so this year the New Jersey families made the trek to Delaware. MIL's brother and his wife hosted in their beautiful home; there was lots of yummy food; and we all enjoyed visiting and exchanging gifts. It was a really lovely time. (Sadly I have no pictures. I'm not sure how that happened -- I know I took the camera! And I'm almost positive I can remember taking pictures with it ... hmmm ...)

The final family get-together is usually with FIL's side of the family on New Year's Day, but again because of when the holidays fell we pushed that one back as well, to January 7. Our family missed it because we were in Kentucky for Papaw's funeral. I think that's the first holiday gathering that we have missed since Eric and I got married (well, so far we haven't been able to spend any holidays with my side of the family. Every year we say "maybe this year!")

Despite my Papaw being ill it was a good month. We are so blessed to have wonderful family, nearby and far away.

January 3, 2012

Still Here

I haven't been swallowed by Rubbermaid bins of Christmas decorations, or frostbitten my fingers while caroling, or made myself ill by eating scads of Christmas cookies and other delicious things (although I HAVE been eating scads of Christmas cookies and other delicious things.)

We had a nice Christmas. I will write about it soon. I have a few little things that I want to remember, things that the girls did and said.

It's been a more difficult Christmas for our family because my Papaw, my mom's dad, has been so sick. He was in and out of the hospital from around Thanksgiving. A few days before Christmas we all learned that he was in the hospital for the last time. It was a time of waiting and praying and waiting some more.

He went Home yesterday.

While I am sad, so sad, that I will never see him again in this life, that my Mamaw had to say goodbye to her husband, that my mom had to say goodbye to her father, that my children will never have memories of him, it is bittersweet because at the same time I am so relieved for him. No more pain. No more suffering. No more sickness. Just being with Jesus. Just being with Him.