Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Boys Are Published!

My kids love these Illustory book kits

Matthew just got his first one for his brithday but Christopher got his first one as a gift when he was five years old and this second one (above) for Christmas but we just finished getting it made recently. 

So included in the box is the title page and a bunch of pages that the kids illustrate and write their story on.  There are two options for writing the story: having the company type the words that your kids write, or have them keep the writing of your child and putting that onto the page.  For Christopher's first book, when he was five years old, we had them type the words out.  For the boys' most recent books (above), I chose to have their own writing printed into the book, which I like a lot better.  Much more endearing.  Also, for Christopher's first book, we sent the pages he had drawn into the company in the mail, where these two books above were scanned to the computer and sent through their website, which I liked better as well. 

The books come back as a real book and are of great quality.

A few years ago, Christopher used regular printer paper to draw pages for a book and I took them to Office Max or the like to get it laminated and bound and it was about $25, which is much more than the $14 price that Amazon has on the Illustory kit right now (for the Christian edition which is no different than the regular edition except for the story outline page I think).  I did have every sheet laminated (I'm not sure why), so it'd be cheaper to just have the front and back pages done, but we still like these book kits better.

So, I'm not getting any sort of compensation for this product review, it's just a great project for kids and that will last forever and I wanted to share.

Gabe is already asking for one of these for his birthday in November and all the boys want one for Christmas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just Life.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.

~Mary Jean Iron

I saw this quote somewhere a few months ago and it has become one of my favorites.  I may spend most of my time with five kids every single day, and I get a lot of, "You're crazy for having five kids!" and "You've sure got your hands full!", and I wipe a lot of noses and change a lot of diapers, but I would not want it any different than living life with these five sweet children and my wonderful husband.  I really am at a great place in my life, where I am content and thankful for just where God has me right now.  Things may not seem perfect to other people looking in, not everything may be running as smoothly as I'd like, and some days may seem really long, and I'd really like a short break sometimes, but I know that things can change in a second, and I'd much rather have this, now, than long for something more, or even be hurting by something worse.  Life is full of highs and lows and I like being somewhere in the middle, with just some little dips and bumps along the way.  My house may never be clean, and I may wonder about my parenting every once in a while (or more), but I just feel joy with my life, and it's a good feeling.  Things may not be perfect according to this world, but this is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.

On that note, here are some of the everyday things that we do here in this home filled with love and joy and lots of noise...

This guy lost his second tooth!

Many hours are spent up in the playroom playing with trains.  Christopher even designs track layouts on paper and then builds his tracks based on that!  Matthew made this one and they always want me to take pictures of their designs.

The boys love playing with these pattern blocks and make designs in them that they want pictures taken of.  I love when there is no boundary between schooling and playing.  I could totally unschool if I didn't love the curriculum we are using.  The boys already have the building blocks for the minds of engineers and designers with all the things they build and put together everyday. 

I love these kids and I am very blessed to be home with them all day to see their minds work and learn so much.  Public school started here this week and while there is that little voice in my head that thinks it would be nice to be able to get a bit of a break from the craziness, it's not worth having to take five days a week of it.  Although this does make me smile for a minute.  Partly because I just love shopping for school supplies.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week 3

aThe boys were very excited to get to this week because they knew what we would be learning more about Noah's Ark. 

Over the weekend, at a friend's house, the boys had seen a painting of Noah's Ark and spent a while looking at all the detail.  They were most excited to see the dinosaurs in the painting.

We started the school week out by watching an amazing movie from Netflix called, "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark".  I had never heard parts of the theory that was talked about in the documentary and certainly had never heard about how there are many people who have actually seen Noah's Ark up on the mountain.  I really recommend this movie.  Christopher, Chris and I really enjoyed watching it.  Matthew and Gabriel were not as into it as we were.

We also learned about Noah's descendants and their migration in different directions and the boys enjoyed drawing pictures of the Tower of Babel.  We also did a little project using Cuneiform writing with the boys' initials on slabs of cookie dough "clay" and the older boys are learning/reviewing the books of the Old Testament as their memory work.

We finished up our science study of light this week with an experiment making light using wintergreen Life Savers and a pair of pliers. It was actually pretty neat...we went into the bathroom without the light on and I quickly crushed a Life Saver in the pliers and it let off a tiny flash of light. So that was pretty neat. We also learned about refracted light using a penny under a glass of water covered with a piece of paper.

Gabriel was really excited about starting the phonics part of his school.  We learn about each letter for six school days and this week he learned about the letter "S-s-Sun".  The letters and sounds are not learned in alphabetical order but in a way to help learn how to read.  There is also a Godly character trait taught with each letter.  This week, the words to remember that go along with 'S-s-Sun' are "Jesus is the light of the world".  Each letter follows a unit study approach that includes many hands-on activities covering science, math, Bible, art, children's literature, and creative thinking.  We did this same curriculum when Matthew did kindergarten and I'm thrilled to be using it again.

Gabriel making raisins out of grapes.

Gabriel learned about shadows by making a sundial and tracking it throughout the day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Week 2

Another fun week of school!
Gabriel finished up his Creation posters and we reviewed that as well as counting for the rest of the week.  Gabe is really excited about starting his letters and I ended up letting him color his first worksheet that he'll need for next week.

Another activity that Gabe enjoyed doing.

Matthew and Christopher continued to read through Genesis and had to color and draw pictures about the stories as well as write a summary of each.  Matthew gets a little carried away with his drawings.  They both decided to draw a volcano exploding in their pictures of the story of Cain and Abel for some reason.  Matthew's pages are here and Christopher's are below.

We are still doing some light experiments in science, including setting a glass next to a window to make a rainbow.  We watched a wonderful movie about Noah's Ark over the weekend that was great.  We borrowed it from Netflix and it's called, "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark".  I highly recommend it.  Christopher was really into it and Matthew was at some points.

So we were supposed to celebrate the Sabbath over the weekend before we started week two, but I'm postponing it to a weekend where we don't have anything scheduled.  That sounds pretty bad, right?  I'd like to really get into it though.  We'll also be celebrating some of the other Jewish holidays that are coming up next month, so hopefully we'll get the the Sabbath celebration before then.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Entrance into Boyhood

So this little seven year old is already well into boyhood, but he did take another step further in this week.  He's been wiggling this tooth for over a month now, and he finally let me pull it out.  It was his first one, but the little one next to it is getting pretty wiggly as well. 

I thought this big ole tooth holder would make it easier for the tooth fairy to find his tooth, especially since he sleeps on the top bunk.  He did leave a note with it asking to keep his tooth, and the Tooth Fairy thought that would be okay.

And he did get a few extra dollars along with his gold dollar since the Tooth Fairy forgot about his tooth for three nights. Poor kid! I think Christopher told him she'd come eventually...he's had to wait a while before as well.


On another note, Leah has been a wonderful helper with Anna lately and insists on holding her bottle for her when I feed her in Leah's view.  Yes, her bottle.  Unfortunately, nursing hasn't been going so well and I've had to start supplementing with formula.  I hate it, but don't want to see Anna's weight go down even more like Leah's did for so long while I exclusively nursed her.  She's gaining well again now though, so that's what matters.

Leah wants Anna to finish every drop in that bottle, but once Anna's done, she's done.  Trying to convince Leah of that before she makes Anna cry from stuffing the bottle back in her mouth is tricky sometimes.

But she'll finally give up and give her something else to play with.  She's such a sweet sister.  Although sometimes, she thinks that the toys Anna plays with are only hers and so we are trying to teach her about sharing.  Fun stuff!

And I will leave you with this adorable little one.  Oh how I love this little girl!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Week 1

We finished our first week of school and it went really well.

All three boys studied/reviewed Creation, although Gabriel's kindergarten curriuculum took him through Day 5 of Creation this week and the older boys got through all seven days. It was nice to start out with something they are all quite familiar with to ease back into schooling.

This is Matthew's summary of the seven days of Creation.  For the day of rest, he drew a bed.

Here is Christopher's summary page.  He drew the bed for the day of rest as well.  Silly boys.  I've been reminding Gabe and Matthew about the difference in the letters 'b' and 'd' using the bed rule which is why Christopher wrote his bed using the word "bed".

For art, we are using God and the History of Art.  For the first lesson, we learned about an artist who had become paralyzed after a swimming accident.  She taught herself to draw and paint with her mouth.  The lesson was about the frustration often felt when making art, even by the most famous of artists.  Incidentally, Gabriel refused to do the lesson because it was too hard.

Matthew had a really loose bottom tooth while he did this, so it was even more of a challenge.

The objective was to draw a butterfly.  Christopher's paper is on top, Matthew's on the bottom of the picture.  I didn't try it or I'm sure mine wouldn't have been good either!

So, one of the things in each of the boys' back-to-school gift pile was this yellow shirt with some iron-on paper.  They each drew a picture, we scanned it to the computer and printed it back out on the iron-on paper.  They turned out really cute.  Unfortunately, the prints only lasted a couple of hours before they started coming off.  Chris said it works better if you cut around the area that is colored rather than leaving a lot of blank white space.

Christopher drew Gabriel's idea for this shirt.  Gabe kept getting frustrated that he couldn't draw it as good as he wanted.  See, he should have done the art lesson with us!

Christopher drew some of the handguys that I talked about a few posts back.  This is the correct spelling of 'Bagypants'.  For whatever reason, he wants it spelled this way.

Ever since we went to the Six Flags theme park last week, the kids have been obsessed with drawing pictures of roller coasters.  Matthew drew one of the ones that he made up.  I won't be going on this one should it ever become a real roller coaster.  I went on the Boomerang ride at Six Flags with Matthew and going upside down a few times was too much for me.

Doing school during Leah and Anna's afternoon nap is working out well.  We are still going straight through everything without breaks and it's working for the boys.  Gabriel's school work is pretty light right now and will be again during the second week.  Matthew is doing quite a bit of writing and I think I'll break some of it up into multiple days for a while.  He is doing great with math and does as many lessons as he wants right now, which is usually two or three.  I started him out at Singapore Math level 1A so that he wouldn't get right to the hard stuff while adjusting to the longer school day, so he's still doing simple math right now.

Christopher is still learning decimals as he continues in his Singapore Math level 4B book from last year and is doing well with it.  It's so nice that I don't have to teach him with that, he just figures it out as he goes.  If he can just continue this through middle and high school math, that would be wonderful.  Math was my favorite subject in school, and while it's easy for me to learn, I'll have to re-learn it with him I think.  That's okay, my brain could probably use the challenge.

We are using Genesis for Kids for science and studied "light" this week.  We took a trip to the library and borrowed a bunch of science experiment books about light, as well as one about optical illusions, which was fun to look through with the boys one night.  Christopher is old enough now where he'll just go do science experiments on his own or with his brothers and usually needs no help.  It's really nice, because while I enjoy doing some experiments with the kids, they like to do way more than I do.  Plus, it's good for him to learn more on his own as well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I think I mentioned in a previous post that my wonderful hubby got paid to go to Alaska this past week for six days.  Yes, he got flight, hotel, and a rental car paid for (for the group he was with) as well as a nice chunk of change for per diem (how's that for a vacation!).  He and three other Air Force guys from our base flew the T-43 jet that they fly in up to Elmendorf AFB just north of Ankorage, Alaska to show the jet at the air show there.  While the air show was two days long, only two guys were needed each day, so two of them got the day off.  Along with Thursday and Friday.  They acually left to come home on Monday but stayed overnight in Whidbey Island, Washington and came home on Tuesday, so I guess they were actually in Alaska for five days (four nights) but whatever.  Can you tell I'm still a little jealous?  Hahaha.  I love that Chris gets to travel to neat places and have days off when he's there.  Even though it leaves me home alone with the kids, I would not want him to not go and have these awesome experiences.  London, Japan, Key West, Alaska...I'd just like to stow away and go with him. 

So anyways, he had some days off and went and saw the sights while he was there. Friday, all of the guys from his plane went on a fishing charter and caught a bunch of Halibut and Sea Bass. Just so you know, Chris caught the biggest and the one that tied for 2nd place too. :oD The big one was about 30 pounds, bigger than Leah. The fishing charter guy skinned the fish with the guys and deboned them or whatever it is that you do to fish, vacuum sealed all of the fish meat and the guys brought it home in dry iced coolers. We'll be having fish for a while. It's super yummy though, so I don't mind.

Chris and the guy from his squadron worked the air show on Sunday, so they took Saturday off and went hiking in the mountains.  They saw moose, otters, and puffins.  They actually saw a moose in the middle of town, which is funny, except that it had gotten hit by a car, so that part is sad.  No bears, seals or whales though.

We couldn't find the little digital camera before Chris left so the pictures we have are ones taken by his work buddies.  (I found the camera in the depths of my purse while Chris was gone.  Whoops.)

So Chris finally got to the 'work' part of his trip on Sunday.  He stood next to his airplane at the air show and talked to people about what it did.  Uh, that's what he and the boys do for fun when he's home!  Okay, I may still sound a bit jealous, but remember, I was back here in Texas in close to 100 degree weather with an air conditioner that kept freezing up, making our house get up to a toasty 85 degrees.  And I just don't think of things like changing the air filter; that's Chris' thing (the filter needing changed was the cause of our miserably hot nights).

So then he had to end his 'work-cation' and fly back.  But he had this beautiful view of Mount McKinley protruding up through the clouds to bid him farewell.

And we'll go there on a family day.