Friday, August 26, 2011


I wish I had pictures to post, but Jacob managed to break the memory card for our camera, so I'll have to settle for words. We are two weeks into our homeschooling year now and off to a great start. I have a 7th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner, and Kaitlyn is learning right alongside Noah for what it's worth. As you can imagine, this makes for a busy house! Throw in my two babies and Forrest's 16 hour work schedule and you'll excuse me for not blogging in a while.

Anyhow, back to our homeschool. Our new curriculum has not arrived in its entirety so we are making do with last year's books and activities. I have been printing up letter tracing sheets from the Internet and Kaitlyn and Noah have learned their entire alphabet in two weeks. My next goal is getting them to read. I figure so long as she's interested, I'll take Kaitlyn as far as she'll go, but being that she's only three I'm not going to push her too hard. Jacob is really focused on language arts and we have a plethora of great books for him. He is my focused student and diligently works through his workbooks until he is done. We always sit down on the couch together for history, science, and some writing. We have also begun reading Little House in the Big Woods, which is probably my favorite part of the day.

Ashlee has shown an interest in biology, so we have undertaken cell structure these past two weeks. I was lucky enough to find another teacher's unit on cell structure via the Internet and we have been basing our lessons around that. She has already learned the names and functions of all the organelles, and our next task is to undertake the construction of a 3-D cell model using Jell-O and various fruits and candies to represent the different parts of a cell. It should be interesting, and providing I have a new memory card by then I'll post pictures when we're done.

As far as extracurricular activities go, Ashlee is in troupe this year and taking five dance classes a week in the disciplines of jazz and ballet. She'll be performing 8-12 times during the year. She is also maintaining her piano, though her teacher is still on maternity leave. Currently she is working on a piece to play in our church's Primary program in October. The boys start karate next week, and I just enrolled Jacob in the Lego engineering class to start in September. I am looking forward to the outlet for him and some more socialization.

Anthony is such a wonderful baby, for which I am so grateful. As I say, he's the perfect sixth child. He must have known he was coming into a busy family! He is still in bed with me at night and I am not doing anything to rush this time. He can stay my baby for as long as he'd like, and as Forrest says I'll probably nurse him until he's fifteen. =)

This postpartum period has been a little challenging for me, emotionally speaking. I don't know if it's the stress from Forrest being gone or something different, but this last week I have felt what I think would probably be classified as postpartum depression. My mood has been very volatile, the tears flow easily and randomly, and everyday tasks have been very overwhelming. I also snap easily, for which I carry a lot of guilt. I realize it is all situational, but it is a very real thing and knowing that doesn't make it any easier when you are going through it. That being said, today is a much better day and I am hoping we are on the upside of things. Having Forrest home for the second half of the day yesterday took the tightness out of my chest and gave me something to look forward to. It's true when they say separation makes the heart grow fonder!

The one thing I am maintaining for myself is running (and a clean house.) The farthest distance I have gone is five miles with Ashlee, but most of my runs average three miles. My goal is to be 10k ready by fall. As far as the chores go, one day off will tell you they are constant! A clean house is so important to me but it's so much work to maintain it (not saying I'm quite where I want to be yet.) I did establish a chore chart, which helps, and the kids do help with laundry, dishes, and cleaning their rooms. They can also pick up the living room in a jiffy between the four of them. My challenge is finding a balance between chores and school work. The moment I get distracted with dishes or a load of laundry, I lose the kids and that is a bad thing. I try to separate school time from housework, which is good for the kids but means that I have a lot less time for chores. It's just the way it has to be. Anywho, that's our life in a nutshell over in our little corner of the world. It's crazy-beautiful and I wouldn't trade in a moment of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reading Hour

When Mom is at her wit's end, and I mean wit's END... it's always a good idea to mandate some quiet reading time for the kids. After a long day of school work, running Ashlee to dance, Trader Joe's, and a husband who works 16 hours a day, this was the scene in the living room while I put a late dinner of spaghetti on the table. I had laid Rachel down and Anthony was asleep in his swing, so this actually brought a few minutes of quiet. Today was an exceptionally hard day for me and moments like this are too few and far between, but when I get one, I'll tell you it's worth it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I could call these boys twins. From the moment he was born I could see Anthony's resemblance to Noah, and people continue to comment on how much they look alike. He's like a chunky version of Noah.
Here he is getting some much-needed Daddy time. With the 15-hour days he's been working we don't see too much of Daddy lately, so when he's home we make sure to enjoy him.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Family Reunion

Forrest's sister Janean is in town from Texas, and in honor we held a partial family reunion today at Lake Natomas. We BBQ'd, swam, went out on the raft and kayaks, and had a great time catching up on everyone's busy lives and growing children. The kids were very excited and definitely had their fill of fun. The only thing about getting together like this is that it makes me miss not being close to everyone. Love you all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Movie Night!

Tonight it's Newsies. Oh how we need our family movie nights at the end of a busy week! Here's to the last weekend of summer.

Six Flags 2011

Yesterday the kids took advantage of their free Six Flags tickets they had earned through a reading program in the spring and we made a visit to the Discovery Kingdom. I decided it was best not to bring Rachel along on the trip, being that she is at the age where she would want to be out of her stroller and is not quite old enough to enjoy all the park has to offer, so we dropped her off at Uncle Tommy's house. Grandma Nancy wanted to come along with us, and we were glad to have her company as well as the extra pair of hands. Let me tell you, Six Flags with five kids is busy, busy, busy! But we had a great time.

The first thing Kaitlyn wanted to do upon our entrance was hug the bunny. I was glad I had my camera so that I did not have to pay for the professional picture of this.
They make a cute bunch!
Next we visited the dolphins. I could sit and watch them for hours, they are so beautiful to me. I absolutely love sea animals.
We lucked out with an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining (of course) and we reaped the benefits of the bay breeze. It could've been so much worse for August!
We only watched two shows, one of them being the tigers. I think our favorite part was watching them swim underwater to retrieve chunks of meat.
And of course we hit up a few rides. This was the kids' main reason for wanting to come.
My personal favorite is always the killer whale show. I love Shouka! He has been there for 17 years.
Look at that... majestic.
The 1:00 show was absolutely packed. We sat way up at the top of the stadium, which was fine with me because we were in the shade and able to see everything.
Ashlee being a good big sister and going on the kiddie ride with Kaitlyn.
These penguins were so little and cute, much smaller than they appear in "March of the Penguins."
One came up to the glass to say hello.
Shark Experience was very cool. The kids really enjoyed this and had many questions to ask.
One of Ashlee's was, "Why don't the sharks eat the fish that are in the tank?" We found out that the zookeepers chop the heads off the fish before feeding them to the sharks, so they never make the association of live fish with food. That is how the fish swimming around in the tank stay safe.
We also discovered that zebra sharks have spots, and leopard sharks have stripes. Hmmm, strange...
My kids "suckered" me into buying these treats for them. They made for a couple hours of quiet though!
We had to hit the butterfly exhibit. Upon arriving, Ashlee stated that her favorite species was the owl butterfly.
See how his wings resemble the eye of an owl? This is a defense that keeps predators at bay.
Scoping out the koi in the pond...
It was too tempting not to stick little hands in the water.
Fascinated by the butterfly pupae.

This is how they drink their nectar.
And look at this... one of Ashlee's favorite butterflies landed right on her back!
We thought she was going to take him home.
This was such a fun trip. We did so much more than I was able to capture here. We stayed from open until close and spent our last dollar, so I considered the day a success. One highlight of the trip was that I took Jacob on his first rollercoaster. He had been begging from the moment we got there, and I really felt like he had to experience it for himself. We decided on Kong, the floorless one that goes upside-down. I kept telling him it was going to be scary! I screamed the whole time and he just sat motionless with his eyes shut. Afterward he nearly collapsed from the adrenaline rush and said he would never ride that again. Poor guy! I am still trying to decide if I am a bad mother for doing that...
To make it up to him I took him on the race cars, which he absolutely loved. We came in second place and lapped two people. He kept telling me, "Mom, we are burning serious rubber!" We hit IN-and-OUT on the way home and the kids fell asleep in the car. Anthony held up pretty well, though I could tell by the end of the day that he was tired and had had enough. We can't wait to do this again, and hopefully next time Daddy can come with us. Hope that was enough fun to last for the year kids!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday with Grandma

We are starting to enjoy our tradition of Sunday dinners with Grandma Nancy. She just joined us last night, and within minutes of her arrival she was able to get big smiles out of baby Anthony.
He liked her talking to him and was really trying his best to interact.

I guess all that socializing wore him out, because shortly afterward he zonked out in her arms on the couch.
It made me so happy to see baby Anthony in his grandma's arms.
(all dressed for church.)
Thanks again Grandma Nancy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Promontory Park

Today I took the kids to the beautiful Promontory park in El Dorado Hills.
It's not easy to get to (I actually had to call Forrest on the way down and have him navigate me because we got lost) but once we got there it was worth it.

Here is Jacob waiting to be dumped on by the water buckets.
Once she warmed up, Rachel had a blast. It was so fun to see her watching and learning from the other kids.
She got sprayed in the face by these ground spouts about a dozen times. I kept wondering when she was going to figure it out!
Thankfully there was some shade where I could sit and nurse Anthony.
Oh, and this beautiful grassy hill which I love! It was so scenic and picturesque. I wanted to do a photo shoot with all of my kids on it. It was the perfect pastoral backdrop.
Thank you Promontory park! You were good to us! We'll be back soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Solar-Roasted Marshmallows

Who says we have to wait until the first day of school to start learning?

My friend Katie sent us the link to this science website that gave instructions for constructing a solar oven. The kids had fun watching the tele-class and learning all about alternative and renewable energy sources. Their project was to create an "oven" using a cardboard box, magnifying sheet, and tin foil. For some reason our marshmallow didn't quite roast as we had expected, but it could be that I didn't have a strong enough lense or that the angle was not quite right. Either way, it was a good learning experience that got them working together. As for me, I am now really excited for the upcoming school year! I tell you, there is nothing like teaching your own children.

The marshmallow was skewered in this little back door.

Waiting for a change to occur...

Our oven.

He thinks he sees something...

Is it toasted yet?

A view through the magnifying lense.

Our marshmallow (that never toasted.)