It's a Wonderful Life…

with the Mace family.

Mother’s Day gifts

By now most of you have received your Mother’s Day gifts from the boys. But just in case you haven’t, I won’t (completely) spoil the surprise. There is a short story behind what you received. In our study of Botany, we do experiments or projects throughout to help with the learning or just for fun. This was a just for fun project that was planned earlier this year. Thankfully spring came early for us and we were able to pick and press some flowers. The boys also had to think about what two plants they wanted to grow, so we could dry them for this project. Lavender and spearmint were the winners and have been sitting in our window sill growing for quite some time. They boys put everything together into the gift that you received or will. You can use it or keep it for a keepsake/decoration. They hope you like it.

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Happy New Year 2015

(I actually had this written and was planning on posting it over a week ago.  I just needed to add a few things, but lack of sleep has made it hard to remember to do it.  Another post will be coming shortly)

It’s been a week or two since I posted, so I thought I should probably write something.  Whenever I go to long without writing a post, I forget some things.  We are into our third week of school after Christmas, and still very slowly getting into the swing of things.  Over Christmas, I review what was and was not working in our school day and made some changes, that seem to be working.  B is growing more independent in his studies, doing science and history with us, but needing me for his writing curriculum.  On the other hand, Gav is very dependent on me in every subject.  While this might seem like solutions to this would be easy, it truly hasn’t been.  Gav needs more breaks than we had going, and needs to work in shorter bursts.  Gav needs to start earlier in the morning, but B is wanting to sleep in and start later in the morning.  Really it was about coordinating time for B and I to do writing at just the right time, and working everything else around that.  The hardest part has been getting myself ready for school as early as Gav needs, as I am not a morning person and take time to wake up.  Of course, it’s winter and dark in the mornings still, even on sunny days, which doesn’t help with the waking up factor.

So anyway, things are working out, school is getting done at a decent time and B is actually getting his work done by 2pm or 3pm every day.  The days of him constantly doing school work are done, our schedule that we started the year out with has really helped B with that.  It’s such an accomplishment for him, he’s been working hard at focusing and getting it done.  We still have days were he has forgotten something, but who doesn’t.  This year we also made our own planners tailored to  each of us, and I know that has helped B out a lot with being more organized.  He gets a weeks worth of homework on Monday, and that enables him to work ahead, which often times he does.  We also have character goals and academic goals that we work on.  Over Christmas we reviewed these and found B had met one academic goal (Getting schoolwork done in a timely manner) and two character goals (Being more patient and kind, Work on being more honest).  I thought I would share his goals for the 2nd half of the year, which started this week for us.  Academic goals:  1. Become better acquainted with multiplication facts, 2. To have a better attitude when it comes to writing, 3.  Read and learn more about animals.  Character goals: 1. Be a better friend, 2.  Be more helpful.  B and I sat down at the beginning of the year and wrote these together.  There is one academic and character goal per quarter.  I was very proud of him and put stickers on his goal sheet for those he reached.  In 9 weeks, we will revisit them again and see where he stands.

Gav also has goals.  His academic goals that he reached are: 1. To be able to write a sentence, 2. To be able to read with very little help grade level books, 3. To be able to skip count by 2, 5, 10, (which he has partially reached, needing only to skip count by 5’s to reach this, which he will in his math book).  Character goals reached: 1. To pray every day to be more obedient.  I was really proud of Gav when he came up with his character goals.  After listening to B and I set some, Gav knew just what he wanted to work on.  With no help from me, he listed his character goals.  These are the ones we will be working on:  1. Be more gracious to God, 2. Listen better to my teacher, 3. To be more kind to my friends.  His academic goals are: 1. To be prepared for the next math book, 2. To be able to write fluently and read at grade level with no help, 3. To learn cursive (which we added in Dec. per Gav’s request).  This is the third week of cursive, and it’s slowed down a bit.  Gav’s enthusiasm has waned a little, but he is keeping at it and driven to do it.  We are powering through all the other subjects.  It’s really amazing how much he has picked up on his own.

Well not much more going on around here.  Just busy with the usual!

xoxo

Amberly

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

While it’s been a few days since Christmas, I thought the title was appropriate since I am posting videos from that day.  I took a bunch of videos, pasted them together, and I am now providing them for you to watch, or not.  The boys had no knowledge of being recorded, but only thought I was taking pictures.  Though I suspect B had his suspicions.  I wanted you all to see what we usually do on Christmas day, every bit of it.  Now there were times I wasn’t taping and that was when the boys were busy playing with their toys or looking at something.  Since we’ve no place to go, we go at a slower pace, letting them enjoy what they got and from whom.

Now December was a blur, but a something remarkable did happen.  Gav got his first loose tooth, and lost it two days before Christmas!  It was so tiny and he’s just adorable with a small hole where that tooth used to be.  He was so excited to lose it because he “really hates having a loose tooth.  It hurts.”  And for a kid with a high pain tolerance, it must have been pretty bad.  He couldn’t eat much, and I was cutting things like his sandwich just to make it easier on him.  It won’t be long before it happens again, but for now all teeth are staying  put.

Also, as it tends to happen when we take our cars in for an oil change, we got new vehicles, or at least new to us.  Obviously this doesn’t happen every time we take a car in for an oil change, it’s just that when it does, it coincides with one.  N and I had been leasing and we had a year left.  Honestly, we didn’t plan on anything changing, but wanted to inquire about some things so we could think on them over the next year.  We wanted to own our cars, and we wanted to have a minivan or a vehicle with third row seating.  But we also needed to know if we could afford that and what we were looking at for monthly payments.  We looked at some things, test drove a few, and honestly we weren’t sure about the minivan.  I wasn’t thrilled with what we were shown, especially considering we would have to lease for 3 years and then pay on it for 6 years to buy it in order to lower our monthly payments (which really was our goal).  But lo and behold, a used one, only three years old with less than 30,000 miles on it was being shipped in.  So we filled out the paperwork in order to hold it, with the opportunity to say no to it if we did not like it.  While I wasn’t super crazy about going from my Prius to a minivan, I did really like it.  It was in great condition, and much nicer than the new one.  Also, we could buy it and still lower our monthly car payments.  So I got that, and N traded his Rav4 for a little Audi to drive back and forth to work.  And while I’m still not crazy about the minivan (I loved my Prius, perhaps a little too much!)  I love the space it gives us and with wanting to grow our family, we will need.  Trips are going to be so much nicer in such a roomier vehicle!

On another note, we start school back up again this week.  We took the week before and the week of Christmas off.  Gav will start learning cursive writing, at his request.  It was something he was begging me to teach him.  I gave him a goal of completely his spiderman writing book by Christmas break in order to start learning cursive, and he did it.  His desire to learn cursive stems from him wanting to be able to read it.  I’m not sure he will take to it, or even really learn it this year, but I am willing to give it a shot.  I’ll try to keep you informed on how it’s going.  Heading off into the second half of the year in a few weeks will bring some changes.  In science, we will start Botany, Math will be getting a little more difficult for B as he delves deeper into Pre-Algebra, and Gav might be starting the next math book if he keeps going like he is.  Gav has really taken off in reading, so I am hoping to be trying some easy chapter books with him by spring.  Music theory is going well for B.  He isn’t really thrilled but knows this will help him later learn an instrument.

At this time of night, that’s all I can really think of.   We love you and wish you all a great week!  xoxo

 

 

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Gavisms

Our youngest has a unique way of looking at things.  Here are just a few things we’ve remembered to write down as they’ve happened.  This has been just over the last year.  Wish we could record them all.

I’m not moving my feet, I’m twinkling my toes. (in response to my asking him to quit moving his feet while in bed)

Well that is part of the law. (Said this when questioned about being disobedient when asked to get dressed.  He put his clothes over his pj’s.)

We need to get a car that uses gasoline instead of gas.

I don’t have nightmares anymore, but once we return the movie (Bearenstein Bears and the bad dreams) I will have them again.

Do you know why they don’t play baseball at the zoo? Because (according to Gavin) the baseball could hit the dinosaurs’ glass and then they would get out and eat all the plants.

Last night, Gav shared with us that when he grows up he wants to be a deep sea diver so he can hunt cookie cutter sharks while wearing a chain mail suit. When asked why, he told us so they don’t bite anyone. Then he went on to tell us about five other species of sharks he would hunt down afterwards so shark bites would not happen.

While cuddling up with Gavin in my bed this morning, the following conversation ensues.
Gav: I have to lock your door to keep evil men out. If the police take their guns and they still come in…..Oh they can go in the bathroom and then come into your room and eat you. (After locking that door too) There, now they can’t eat you.
Me(chuckling): Gavy, no one’s gonna eat me.
Gav: Why not?
Me: I’m not tasty
Gav: Yes you are. I’ve licked you before and you taste good.

You’re doing manly things B.  Exercising and taking your shirt off.  Those are manly things.

(During a fill in the blank session in history) Me: Going against tradition, Martin Luther married a former _______, Katharina Von Bora.  Gav: Woman  (the correct answer was nun.)

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Gav reading.

Gav and I have been working on his reading.  B picked this up so very easily and with little help, so this is a new adventure for me.  Some days he wants to read a lot, and other days he can’t be bothered.  But I’ve noticed as his confidence grows, so does his interest in read more books and more challenging books.  While I would describe Gav as a pretty confident kid, this is one area I’ve seen his confidence falter and even fail.  Pushing through a book some days has taken every ounce of patience I have and so I’ve had to ask God for more because there is nothing left in me.  While last year was a bit of a battle after he realized how hard it would be to actually learn to read, even his enthusiasm to want to read couldn’t carry him through, this year has been markedly easier.  His love of reading, now that he has some books he can confidently read under his belt, is thriving again and helping in the difficult times.  I’ve noticed that when his confidence lacks, he tends to lower the volume of his voice.  As a mom, this has been really hard to watch and see him struggle.  But I also know, he needs to struggle through this and conquer it.  We all know there are many things in life we have had to face that were difficult, and this is what I am trying to prepare the boys for:  real life.  They need to know that they may struggle with certain things in this life, but they can persevere.  All this to say, enjoy the video of Gav reading a book by one of his favorite authors, Mo Willems.  As you will hear, he doesn’t know he is being filmed, he would not have read as confidently if he knew.  And if it sounds like he knows this book well, it’s because it has been read a lot this week.  This is the fruit of his labor.

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B’s birthday trip

This is going to be a short post as I am going to encourage everyone to talk to B about diving with sharks.  There are six short videos we bought from this experience, I am posting the ones that will be of most interest to you..  He was in the cage with two other divers.

The first video shows how close some of the sharks came to the cage.  B is the left in the cage, he stays there the entire time.

In the third video, B is the first head of hair you see.  It’s to show you a view from inside the cage.

Hope all is well with everyone.  I will try to put a few more posts up shortly.

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Working our way through the summer-July.

Since I didn’t write anything about our summer, I thought I would get you all caught up.  The last summer post was mid-July, and right after that, N and I left on an Alaskan cruise, an amazing opportunity provided by N’s job.  During this week, the boys stayed with our neighbor and her kids in between our two houses.  I will just say this before trying to describe it to you, If you get a chance to go to Alaska or on an Alaskan cruise, DO IT!  <—— See those words, they are being said loudly and enthusiastically.  GO!  SEE!  ALASKA!  Get it?  Got it?  Good!  Seriously!  Do you get the feeling that I loved it?!  Well you are one smart cookie 🙂  Yes, I did in fact love every view, every sound, every smell, and everything we were able to experience in our limited time on land.  I fell in Love with Alaska!  But I kinda knew I would.  It’s the same way I love WA or MT, their beauty is breathtaking, indescribable, and it worms its way into your heart.  Or maybe that’s just me.  I won’t say much about the cruise because being on the ship wasn’t that exciting, except for the food.  The food was delicious!  Superbly so.  But it’s not that I didn’t like being on the ship, but this wasn’t your typical cruise.  It was taken over by a ministry and ran very differently.  And while it was nice, there wasn’t a lot for me to do except go to the cooking shows everyday and one ventriloquist act that was so hilarious we bought the dvd.  But the food was delicious!  And seeing Alaska was divine!  We went to Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan.  I could spend hours describing AK’s beauty, but instead I will show you a few pictures instead.

While it doesn't look like much, you are seeing 22 miles of glacier.

While it doesn’t look like much, you are seeing 22 miles of glacier.

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A view of Juneau.

 

Another sunset view.

Another sunset view.

Margerie glacier calving.

Margerie glacier calving.

A view of Mendenhall Glacier from the road as we headed there.

A view of Mendenhall Glacier from the road as we headed there.

A view of Mendenhall Glacier from the trail.

A view of Mendenhall Glacier from the trail.

A female bald eagle.  They were very abundant in Sitka, AK.

A female bald eagle. They were very abundant in Sitka, AK.

Nate holding a piece of the Mendenhall Glacier.

N holding a piece of the Mendenhall Glacier.

 

As you can tell, we went to see Mendenhall Glacier, which was in Juneau, our first stop.  N and I enjoyed the short hike, going off the beaten path a bit.  We stumbled across a family whose kids were in the water holding pieces of the glacier.  We just had to get in on the fun and do it too.  So we took off our socks, rolled up our pants, and stepped into the deliciously cold water to grab some ice.  We have pictures of each of us standing in the water, but the one above turned out better.  I also stood in the water near the waterfall at this glacier too.  Brrrrrr.  It was refreshing, cold, and not something you want to do for too long.  The bald eagle picture is from Sitka, where we saw so very many of them.  One flew so low near us that we heard the wings flapping.  In Sitka, we went to a park and really got to see lots of wildlife, so most of the pics from there are of animals and plants.  Ketchikan was super touristy, and we weren’t there long enough to go to the outskirts and do what was offered there.  We did see orca whales on the trip, and even a humpback, though only it’s back.  In Glacier Bay, we saw lots of spouting from the whales and sea otters.  We also enjoyed watching the Margerie Glacier calve.  It was incredible to hear, so very loud-sounding.  I was able to capture quite a few pictures of it as there was a lot of activity.  I was told from a woman who worked with the rangers, that it was very rare to have such a clear blue day where all the mountain tops were visible, hence the pic of the glacier 22 miles long.  Apparently even on sunny days, there is usually a fog around the peaks preventing them from being visible.

The sunset in Juneau.

The sunset in Juneau.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I have hundreds of them, so I just showed a few that I thought others would find interesting.  I, of course, love all of them.   And I do want to go back again, and hope I am able to.  But if not, I am so very thankful that I got a chance to catch just a small glimpse of the beauty Alaska has to offer.

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Gift Ideas

The title says it all.  I felt a little forward even thinking about making a list, but my momma said it would be helpful to know what the boys are into.  This list is meant to be helpful and insightful, not a burden.  I will update this list occasionally as the boys change.  I started this list this summer while walking around a store while Gav was in art class.  I signed both of them up for art classes that they enjoyed.  Anyway, while one was in class, the other would walk around and play with things or show interest in them.  My list actually started as something for N and I when Christmas comes around, but then I thought it would be helpful for grandparents.  As I said before, it is meant to be helpful.

1.  You Choose books (these are books where you choose the endings, B enjoyed reading them)

2. Stethoscope (Gav was interested in this)

3.  4D Vision Great White Shark anatomy model (B, this is really cool)

4.  Art Lab for Kids (the art classes the boys loved came from this book)

5.  Marbles, marble book (both boys)

6.  Microscope for Kids by GeoSafari Jr (this was the one Gav was enthralled with)

7.  Spot It (game, both boys)

8.  Magnetic games (these are great for when we are in the car, both boys love playing them)

9.  Find It Tubes (Gav thought these were great)

10.  Kaleidoscope

11.  Musical Instruments such as a wood block, triangle, rain stick, maracas, egg shakers, etc. (Gav really enjoyed them, B got into them a little too)

12.  Butterfly net (both)

13.  Bug Catcher (We had one once, but it broke.  They would both enjoy this)

14. Crayola Marker Maker (Gav)

15.  Atilla, the switch n go dino (Gav)

16.  Art supplies (B)

Of course, they both love gift cards.  We have amazon prime now, so that or Target are the best.

http://www.raisingmemories.com/2013/12/ultimate-list-100-non-toy-gift-ideas.html Here is a website that gives non-toy ideas, lots of which would be just as fun for the boys as well.

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Fall has arrived

And with it, comes the beautiful crisp weather we have been dreaming about all summer. For us, it was a hot one. And I mean yucky hot! Do you remember me mentioning most people don’t have air conditioning out here? That’s because it’s typically only hot about two weeks out of the summer. Yeah, not this summer. It was unusually hot and unusually dry. I am thankful we don’t have the humidity out here because that would have just made it worse. There were days, and by days I really mean weeks, where the temp in our house did not drop below 78 and that was sometime after midnight, and only until the sun rose again and brought the temp to 85 or higher by noon. There were even days when it was cooler outside in the evening than it was in the house. This might not seem hot to all of you, but do it without a/c and you will find it’s uncomfortable at best. Plus, our place was in full sun all day, not a speck of shade. We all stunk! But thankfully there were more days that were bearable, though hot, than unbearable. It’s still dryer here than normal, but the rain is coming. I look forward to the rain and the beauty it brings. So much has changed and happened in the last few months. Let’s start with the most recent and try to work our way back.
Most of you know we have moved. We didn’t plan on it, but our previous landlord decided to sell the property we were renting. Even then, we didn’t foresee such a quick move. The couple had also put their house up for sale. It sold quick, like within 3 days of putting it up for sale quick. So they wanted to move into where we were living and gave us 30 days. No one could have foreseen their house selling so fast!  So like madmen, we searched for a new place and packed.  We talked and dreamed about moving to B’ham, how close we could be to everything.  But we only found one place there we liked, but didn’t love.  It honestly looked like we were going to take that one, when one popped up in the city we live in.  Since N was out of town, I checked it out and fell in love with it.  It was everything we wanted, including a fantastic price, except in wasn’t in B’ham.  It became my first choice, even though we didn’t know if we would even get it.  That night our second choice called and said we could have their property.  We asked if we could pray about it, hoping to buy some time.  To make the long story short, we got the first choice!  So we are still in the same town we were before, just a different street.  It is a blessing!  We have a nice size fenced in backyard that has three raised garden beds with compost already put in.  There is a two car garage, to offer plenty of storage space.  The boys love it and this is the house they were hoping for after we saw it.  This was the first time they got invested in a place after seeing it.  Our kitchen in large enough because of a breakfast nook to house both a dining table and a homeschooling table.  It is smaller in some areas and larger in others, but over all it feels like a home.  The neighborhood has plenty of families living here and we have already met some of them.  The only thing that would make this place better is if it weren’t in the city limits so I could get chickens and a cow.  Yes, as crazy as that sounds, I want them.  I am looking into miniature cows that produce enough milk to feed a family of four for a week.  But I will save this dream for later.

I should update you all on the boys now.  B had an ortho appt. last week and has new colors on his braces.  He gets them changed every time.  He also has a thicker wire on the bottom and it’s looking like more brackets will be added at his next visit in Nov.  He is wearing headgear, but only has to at night, though he has worn in during the day as well.  We are still homeschooling.  This Wednesday we will add music theory bi-monthly to his subjects.  This is being taught by a friend of ours who was classically trained in music.  She has an amazing voice and plays banjo among other instruments.  Growing up, her family played music and sang together, touring and putting out cd’s.  We are very confident in her abilities to open up the world of music to B.  B will be learning to keep a beat, which he can’t do, but needs to be able to do in order to pursue an instrument.  He will also learn how to read and write music as well. While not the most fun class, I believe he will gain a lot from it and I know his teacher is great with kids and can make it fun.  The other subjects he is studying are going along very well.  He really enjoys Latin and is wanting to teach our new neighbors what he is learning.  These lessons will really come in handy when we start studying botany in the second semester.  B is also in youth group on Wed. nights and he even did a lock in back in Aug.  He stayed up all night, but fell fast asleep in the car as N drove him home.  He had a blast and got to know a lot of the older teens.  Back in Aug, B asked us if he could help out in a program our church was starting for the kids on Thurs. nights.  My B is volunteering and giving his time to be with younger kids on Thurs for an hour and fifteen min.  Through this, I am hoping he learns to pour into others and to love and be kind.  He really does well with little kids, and we’ve had lots of parents comment on that.  But it’s so very true.  B is gentle and patient with them.  He willingly teaches and helps them do things.  Of course, we don’t always see this with his brother, but you know how that is.  While you can already see how busy B is, he might be adding two days at the gym to it.  Our gym is doing classes for middle to high school age kids.  It is half an hour every Tues. and Thurs. where they run and do other activities.  We are going to check it out this week to see if it’s something he wants to do.

Gav is Gav, always interesting and entertaining.  He is getting the hang of reading, though he likes to say he doesn’t know how.  But he can read, and quite well for the little we have focused on it.  He started a spelling book and encountered spelling words for the first time last week.  Before it was working on phonics sounds.  His list is only six words, but like his brother, he doesn’t like to write.  The struggle begins again with this one.  Thankfully, he loves math and has really taken off with it.  At this age, it’s not incredibly hard, even for him, but he really enjoys it and finds it fun.  I love when a subject is fun for them.  He is a busy one and we struggle to get through history and science now that they are a little more involved.  But I think he will get used to it, especially when we hit more of the fun stuff.  Gav got baptized a little over a month ago.  It was a big day for him.

I will leave you with the video below.  xoxo

 

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Strawberry Picking

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B showing off two large strawberries he found.

Around here, berry picking is a huge deal and once one berry is ready, they all follow in succession.  We went strawberry picking!  I think the boys had a blast and we are going to go raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry picking as well.  And quite possibly peach picking.  Still thinking about this last one as we have to travel quite a distance (think hours) to do so.  Wondering what we will be doing with all these berries?  Well freezing them for now, but have plans to make jams out of quite a bit of them when the weather cools down.  The rest will get used up in smoothies or frozen yogurt.  These berries will be eaten up by next year for sure!  More berry picking on the way!

It’s been hot here.  Yuck!  We have no a/c, so it hasn’t been super fun.  Thankfully it hasn’t been all summer and it’s just a few days here and there.  The boys and I have been getting out and going to parks.

New news:  N and I will be going on an Alaskan cruise on the 19th.    And the great thing is, everything is paid for.  Nate will be working some of the time, so I will be taking advantage of the onboard gym and sitting on the deck outside enjoying the scenery.  This is going to be a huge blessing for us and we are both looking forward to some much needed quality time.  We will get to see Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan (all three are in Alaska), and Victoria, B.C.  If you look at a map, it’s not that far into AK, and I would really love to see more.  This is just going to give us a taste of AK and I am excited.  The boys will be at home with our neighbor as their caretaker.  They play with the neighbor kids and I have been enjoying their mom’s company.  It works out really well.  This will be our first time away for this length of time.  They are really looking forward to having friends sleepover and playing with them every day.  I will post more when we get back for sure.  I hope all is well with everyone.  Enjoy the pictures.  They aren’t much, but I was enjoying picking with the boys myself.  There was a lot of “Mom, come here” and “Look at this one”.  A little hard to snap pics with all that going on.

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Gav filling his own little bucket.

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B with our bucket. He’s such a handsome boy.

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Gav tasting the goods. He had to be sure those strawberries were tasty!

 

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Walk By Faith

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