Thursday, September 24, 2015

Almost Eleven

In less than one month, our oldest son will turn eleven.  I just can't believe it.  On one hand the time has gone so fast but on the other hand, I can't imagine life before him. He is changing. Right before my eyes. I am watching him mature in so many ways. I am witnessing the way he is processing the world and taking more and more steps towards independence.  He already has such a firm faith and clear understanding of God. His love for Jesus is rock solid.  He doesn't question what he reads in the Bible, he simply believes it.  I have so many mixed emotions about this new age.  There are days, hours, minutes, when he is very much a young child.  But here lately, something new is happening.  More and more often, with each passing day I am getting tiny glimpses of the person he is becoming.  In the last couple of weeks, he has started opening the car door for me.  I love this.  I know it won't last forever, so I cherish it each and every time.  It is funny because, he treats me like a queen but he has always had a hard time showing that same respect to other adults.  We have talked about this and I try to encourage him to treat everyone the way he treats me.  But he always comes back to the same answer, "They are not you, they are not my mom."  It is a work in progress, but we are getting there.  :) For a boy who is usually blowing full steam ahead I just recently witnessed the most gentle moment.  We were caught under a covering at my daughter's ballet studio while it rained buckets.  We were trying to wait it out before running to the car.  While we were waiting, a young girl (she was about his age) was dropped off by her mother.  She ran under the covered area with her umbrella and then had a hard time trying to close it.  She asked if anyone could help her.  As I reached over to help her, my son spoke up and said he would do it.  In the most calm and composed manner he fixed the umbrella for her and then politely handed back.  She smiled and then blushed a bit.  I, on the other hand, felt like I was watching a clip from a Nicholas Spark's novel plus having an out of body experience all at the same time.  It was the most precious moment.  I couldn't believe how mature and grown up he looked.  I loved every second of that little exchange.  It showed me that even though he is rough and wild and 100% boy, he can also be kind and gentle.  Tonight, while his brother and sister were upstairs taking showers, I noticed it was just the two of us in the kitchen.  The TV was off and it was quiet.  We had the nicest conversation.  He has recently started riding in the front seat of the car.  I love having his company and conversation.  I am so thankful that I have been given the wisdom from my mother and cousin (whose son is 16) that these moments will pass and I should hold on to every second.  They has taught me to slow down when he is willing to talk and share.  I have also been advised to "play it cool" and stay calm in the event he wants to talk about a topic that may make me want to jump out of my skin, run around screaming, and then jump under the covers never to emerge again.  Thankfully, I am pretty sure we are no where near any of that and my biggest concern right now is when should I buy him deodorant.  :) 
This picture was taken by my cousin Kristi in 2010.  It has always been one of my favorites.
As I brace myself for hormones and the roller coaster that will come in the next couple of years, I am also treasuring these small moments.  I feel like God is giving me tiny previews of the man my son will be.  It is a different feeling and it is very hard to explain.  I feel like I am getting to know him on a different level.  I will continue as his care taker, food maker, laundry doer, but I also get to have this really neat relationship.  It is kind of like we are a team, a mother-son duo and I love it. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Homeschool Lesson: Dissecting Flowers

Over the last few weeks we have been working on various types of plants, and all of the parts.  We have learned how to identify leaf patterns, classify according to vein structure, various root systems, and now the details of flowers along with pollination. The kids have been so excited throughout this unit.  They love getting out in the backyard and really getting a hands on lesson.  Today, we reviewed the main parts of a flower by dissecting real flowers.  We had five different types of flowers (hibiscus, sunflower, Esperanza, and blooms from a zucchini plant and star cactus).  We also had a quick lesson on safety with an x-acto knife. :) Using their notes from earlier in the week, each child had the opportunity to dissect the various types of flowers and locate the following parts:  petals, sepal, pistil, stamen, and ovule.  I often have people ask how I teach three different grade levels when using the same lesson.  My kids are kinder, second grade, and fifth grade.  We work through Bible, Geography, and Science as a family and then they complete Math, Language, Reading, and Spelling individually.  Both boys are taking Texas History for their specific grade levels at our weekly co-op and then they have assignments to complete (at home) throughout the week.  So, back to how I teach three grade levels using the same lesson.  This is a wonderful part of homeschooling.  It really is not as difficult as it may sound.  I start with what I call "middle of the road" information.  This is usually around a 3rd grade level and then I amp up the material for my fifth grader and tone down the material for my kindergartner.  For the flower dissection, I really wanted my kindergartner to enjoy exploring the parts of the flower using descriptive words and recognizing the key parts (petals, pistil, stamen).  For my second grader, I wanted him to be able to identify all of the parts we have been studying with some description (petals, sepal, stamen, and ovule).  My expectations for my fifth grader went beyond identification.  I also wanted him to explain (in detail) the function of each part.  We are also using Answers in Genesis for our Science curriculum which is geared towards teaching multiple ages at the same time.  It is wonderful! Needless to say the kids had a blast and the dissection was the perfect hands-on activity for reviewing the parts of a flower.

It really worked out that I only had one x-acto knife on hand.  I don't think I could have controlled three kids and three very sharp objects at one time.  I know my limits! :)

We found some very new seeds deep down inside the hibiscus.

Since only one child could dissect at a time, the other two continue working on their individual assignments until it was their turn.  This was a great motivator to get things done.

It was really exciting that we were able to see and identify all of the parts we had learned about earlier in the week.

We only had one bloom from the star cactus and zucchini plant.  So, to keeps things fair (because that is oober important to my kids), I did the dissecting and they watched.

The inside of the zucchini blossom really showed the ovary of the plant.  This was a very exciting discovery because it looked just like the picture in the book. :)

The star cactus bloom smelled SO BAD - as in week old fish bad.  This was a great example of how some plants have fowl odors to attract flies.  It was soooooo gross!

Then, Ginger, our two year old family member joined in.  She doesn't seem impressed by the smell, either. :)

There were some other neat parts to the star cactus bloom but by that point I had the awful smell on my hands and I did not want to touch my phone to take pictures.  I will say the inside of the bloom was really furry, which was also a neat discovery.

It was such a great lesson filled with excitement and some not so great smells.  :)

Just a thought:  To get a large variety of flowers you could call a flower shop and ask if they have a blooms that could no longer be sold.  This may be an inexpensive way (possible free) to get your hands on various types of flowers.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blue Jeans and Tres Leches Cake

Friends, I had quite the issue yesterday... It is something that is quite hard to talk about... Something so dreaded I would rather scrub toilets or mow the yard. I HAD TO GO SHOPPING FOR NEW JEANS AND IT WAS AWFUL! First off let me just say, that even though I am not happy with my current weight or figure I am also not at the point of dieting and exercising like a crazy person to drop 2.4 pounds.  Because lets face it, my metabolism hates me and my genes are large German people genes.  Seriously, when I turned 35 - BOOM! - the metabolism hit the floor.  As far as genetics, well that is why I married a large German man who loves his curvy German girl.  My point is, I will eventually get my derriere back to running, jogging, maybe just walking but for now I love me some Pioneer Woman and I caved to just buying new jeans instead of doing organ damage with my old jeans. However, the actual act of buying those jeans almost caused a scene worthy of being on the news.  I have always done well with jeans from Gap.  Well, apparently they have changed their idea of how a woman is shaped or maybe my shape has changed.  I am going to go with the first because to place the blame makes me feel better at the moment.  SERIOUSLY, it was offensive - they didn't even have two digit sizes out on the shelves.  Everything I held up would fit my five year old.  I tried on two pairs (or at least I tried them on up to my knees) and then left the store with my head down and tail tucked in.  I headed two doors down to Old Navy.  Their selection was better and I do love that they actually have a "curvy" style but it was a complete mess.  All of the styles, lengths, and sizes were mixed up and thrown everywhere.  I found a pair in my size, style, and length and felt I should exclaim to the entire store that it can, in fact, be accomplished.  After trying them on, I decided to purchase them just in case that was as good as it was going to get. Still frustrated I headed to the mall and called a dear friend of mine.  Just mentioning the phrase, "trying on jeans" almost brought her to tears.  We shared stories of frustration and she gave me some ideas to try different stores.  I finally found a pair, however, it did not have a price tag.  When I came out of the dressing room, I asked the overly eager sales person for the price.  She stated in a perky tone, $98.00.  What?!  She seemed confused by the look on my face.  I think I may have made a disgruntled snort along with some type of monkey motion of disgust.  I figured that between her perkiness and confusion with my body language she must still live at home and her parents obviously still pay for her clothes.  I left. I took my one pair of Old Navy jeans home and tried them on to get my big German man's opinion.  He assured me they (I) looked great but I only replied with grunts and moans and eye rolling.  Blah! So, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do something that I knew would be successful.  I made my first Tres Leches (three milk) cake.  It was a-mazing and it made me do a happy dance!!!!  It came out so pretty and super yummy. I know it doesn't help my blue jean situation but that is why I love my leggings!

Duh! Oh!  Plus, my big German man loved my big Mexican cake!!! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

4th Annual Summer Sleep-Over at Ma's

Oh my word!  I have been trying to get this post finished for over a week.  Every time I sit down to type, download pictures, edit, you name it, I get some type of interruption.  Hopefully today it will be finished! :) The last and favorite event of the summer has concluded: The Annual Summer Sleepover at Ma's.    The kids and my mom look forward to their annual tradition all year.  Actually, she has probably already started pinning and planning for next year's sleepover.  :)  This year she WAY out did herself with a drive-in movie theatre theme and an endless list of other activities.  She wanted me to mention the majority of the printables she used for the weekend came from Fun Fleece.  I hopped over to the site last night and there are so many super cute and FREE (thank you, thank you, thank you) printables.  When you have a minute please take a look . The kids have been helping my mom prepare for a couple of months.  Each time they would go over to her house (usually during the ladies Bible study I attend) they would work and plan just a little bit more.  They would come home so excited to tell me what new details were being added to their weekend full of fun.  In the beginning, the kids had never heard of a drive-in movie theatre, so my mom wanted to  make sure they got the full experience.  Just a few of the drive-in details included:
  • making their own cardboard cars with detachable trays for their concession food
  • a fully functioning concession stand (with prices for each item)
  • concession items were purchased with tickets (Mom gave the kids 18 tickets and I added tickets throughout the week for working hard during school hours)
  • everyone was given their own flashlight to use while walking from the cars to the concession stand (she kept the lights in the house off to add to the effect)
My mom's philosophy with the kids is "keep'em busy".  So, when they weren't watching a movie the following activities happened over the course of the weekend.
  • played in the blow up kiddie pools (which looked very tiny now that the kids are so big) :)
  • craziness ensued with a large shaving cream slip and slide
  • glow-in-the-dark drinks
  • homemade cocktails (mocktails) with a rating system, umbrellas, and tiny swords with cherries
  • DIY suncatchers with ponybeads
  • 200 water balloons (Balloon Bonanza - you fill up 25 balloons in one shot)
  • homemade ice cream made by shaking the ingredients in a bag
  • trip to McDonald's to actually eat INSIDE and play (this is a big deal) :)
  • DIY picnic tablecloth with rock weights to give as a gift to Mommy and Daddy :)
Like I said, she keeps'em busy! :)  When we pick them up on Sunday I confiscate here camera and memory card so I can get all the crazy pictures. :)  Take a look.
Working on their cars weeks before the big event
Headed out with concession stand tickets in hand

Concession stand, popcorn was placed in the clear bowl and it was the only free item.  All other items cost tickets. :)

Lined up in the bedroom ready to watch "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"  
Notice all the details on the cars - eeeee!!!

This is a great view of the compartments for food and a favorite stuffed animal. :)

They will forever remember this. 

Water balloons, kiddie pools, and slip-n-slide

Filling up the water balloons, these things are awesome!

Giant shaving cream slip-n-slide.  I think she said it was ten cans of shaving cream!

I am not really sure what is happening here but it looks like fun!

DIY sun catchers made with pony beads

Homemade ice cream made in a bag
Judging by the look on my youngest son's face, I think he took another trip to the concession stand.

So you may be wondering, what did Charlie and I do since the kids were gone for the weekend?  

We were totally bored, pathetically, ridiculously bored!  My mom didn't plan activities for us so we had nothing to do! :)  We both vowed to each other that next year we have to go out of town or at least something that is out of the house. :)  Or maybe we could just tag along to the sleepover.

Then again... :)