About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monkey Business

It's been a while since I've just written about the kids...what delightful little cherubs they are and all that! Here are some recent pictures to remind you what they look like:

Gracie...helping Mama with the dishes. She loves to help out when and where she can, most of the time.

Tyler...into everything he can be. He recently started wanting to play "with" people instead of just near them. He still doesn't think anyone is playing Trains the right way and frequently tells them, "No...no, no, no." But at least he's having a good time and talking up a storm!

Jace...has found a new love in hiking with Dada. The last one, though, had him feeling it for a few days! This weekend they're going to go again, but Scott's thinking maybe a little more length but less difficulty this time around.

So, that's them. They aren't always angelic and so cute, though. We're taking this week off of school and they're like any other kids on a school break...they don't know what to do! When told to, "Go play!" they usually end up picking at each other, playing with someone who doesn't want to play with them, or getting rough...no matter what, though...crying and yelling often result. (sigh) Kids!
But, when they're not being pests, they're absolutely entertaining!
Jace read 15 books in two days last week. So I took him to the library on Saturday to get 20 more. This morning he clapped his book shut and said, "Again. Again, I have no books."

Yesterday we were eating leftover cheese stuffed meatballs, which Gracie and Tyler apparently love. I told Tyler if he ate any more he might turn into a meatball himself. Gracie quickly responded, "Yay! Turn into a big meatball...then I'll eat you up too!" Jace and I laughed. Tyler pouted and said, "No! Not meatball, Tyler. Gracie no eat me." Such a cute little pout, chest all puffed out in his defiance!
Tyler got new rain boots today and showed them to anyone who would pause long enough to admire them. "Tyler new boots." He's really doing great with his speech. If you don't know, he was behind for a while and started speech therapy just before turning two years old. He worked with an awesome therapist for about six months, then we moved. He's saying sentences, using lots of words, just doing great! There are still some words I can't figure out...but I'm working on it!
One of my favorite little things he's said recently was yesterday. He was downstairs playing with Legos and came running up, "Mama! Mama! Come here." When he got in front of me he was motioning with his hands and his eyes just sparkled! I asked what he was so excited about and he said, "Built monument." Clear as day! We studied monuments a few weeks ago and apparently he thought of one more to build! So clever and cute!
So, there's a little bit about each of the kids...they're doing well and growing before my eyes! I'm a blessed mama to be able to watch it all happen from so close.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Links for Learning

Whether you're a homeschooling parent or not, here are some link you might find interesting, helpful, neat, and possibly even fun! No guarantees about what your kids will think though. Jace and I just got back from the library and every book I picked out he said, "nah" to. Obviously I know nothing...in the eyes of a 7 year old boy. Let's hope you like my picks a bit more!

The Homeschool Classroom...This is a great all around resource. If you scroll down a bit, on the right side there are category buttons to push if you're looking for insight in some area. I think it's a great starting point for the answers to a lot of my questions, and sometimes the only place I need to go! Great writers!

Award Winning Books...Jace is a voracious reader. I mentioned that we just went to the library. That's because on Wednesday he got 15 books and read them all, yes...all of them, by Thursday night. Since then he's been reading Gracie's, Tyler's, and ones that we own - but he's read them all many times before. So we went again today. This site has lists for all sorts of awards, some I've heard of and some I haven't, but all books I'm trying to interest Jace in! Maybe your kids will enjoy them more...or maybe you will!

Happy Birthday Author...On the subject of reading, this site highlights authors around the time of their birthdays! Cool concept, I think.

Story Online...Here your child can have a book read to them by someone famous! We haven't tried this yet, but it's in our plans and I think Gracie's really going to enjoy it!

Teachable Moments...Ideas for how to talk to kids, and maybe even teach them a lesson, about things going on in our world. Again, we haven't used this yet but I will. If you utilize it before me, I'd love to hear how!

American Sign Language University...A friend just brought this to my attention. Free lessons from the ASLU...very awesome! The kids and I just went over the alphabet the other day. Hopefully now they can learn a little more.

So, that's what I have for now. Hopefully you'll enjoy looking through the pages and find something useful. Enjoy your weekends! We're off to the fair tomorrow!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blackberry Crumble and Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

During our unit on healthy living we foraged for blackberries and then made a crumble...mmmmm!

I didn't take pictures of the crumble, but it was tasty...trust me!

Blackberry Crumble (Thanks to yESiCan, from the Mark's Daily Apple forum)

3 cups blackberries

drizzle of honey

1 1/2 cups almond meal (I only had one cup left, so I used 1/2 cup hazelnut meal)

1 egg

2 Tbsp coconut oil

cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the blackberries into a pie pan or small Pyrex dish. Drizzle with honey. Mix together almond meal, egg, coconut oil, and cinnamon. Crumble the mixture over berries. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Serve warm.

And, tonight...we had cheese stuffed meatballs. I could have these every other day! Check out the recipe at Wilderness Childe's fantastic site!

Happy primal eating, everyone!

Healthy Living: Food, Fitness, and FUN!!!

Every one needs to learn about living healthy, right? They need to learn about what makes a well-balanced meal and how to get great abs, right? Well, something like that...

Our healthy living unit encompassed quite a bit more...and I don't think we covered ab workouts at all.

Our book list:
The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy. by Mark Sisson

The Omnivore's Dilemma: The secrets behind what you eat by Michael Pollan, adapted by Richie Chevat - Young Reader's Edition

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson with Jennifer Meier

The Quest to Digest by Mark K. Corcoran

What we did:
We started by using Mark Sisson's Primal Food Pyramid and 10 Primal Blueprint Laws (the laws are written slightly differently on the poster, but they're basically the same as you see on the web site). We started here because I'm living a primal life and wish my family to do so as well. Also, the 10 laws cover healthy living...from food...to fitness....to fun! So, there's really no better place to start.

By the way, Jace quickly questioned that if Mark Sisson isn't the president...how does he get to make laws? I let him know that he wouldn't go to jail for not following the Primal Blueprint Laws, he just wouldn't be living as healthy as he could be.

We focused on eating healthy for the first week (PB law #1). We talked about what foods are good for our bodies and what ones are not. We defined poisonous foods (PB law #2) as not only ones that can kill us or make us very sick, but also ones that don't get digested easily in our bodies or make our bodies react in unpleasant ways.

Here's a chart from The Omnivore's Dilemma that we used to talk about corn (not a vegetable) and all the places it has inserted itself in our lives.

At the suggestion of a forum member (you can join the conversation too, if you want) we did a supermarket search for poisonous things! (Thanks jqbancroft!) The kids had a great time learning why some of the foods they thought were good aren't so good for them!

Jace and Gracie plan and cook a meal a week with me. In light of what they learned they chose healthier options to make these last two weeks. Hopefully that trend continues. We also made aprons to wear when making our fabulously healthy meals!

Gracie did help guide the fabric eventually, but she never got quite good enough to sew on her own...at 5 years old, I think that's OK! In a year or two she'll be altering all her clothes, don't worry!

No, Tyler doesn't do much cooking, but in light of how adorable he looks in his apron and chef's hat, can you blame me for stitching him up one too?

We've been taking walks (PB law #3) several times a week all together, as part of our schooling, and one or more of them usually walk with me in the evenings too. During this unit we talked about moving frequently at a slow pace, why sunlight is important (PB law #8), and foraging. We even got enough berries for a tasty crumble. (Thanks yESiCan!)

Another of the Primal Blueprint Laws is to get adequate sleep (PB law #6). This is something I've always believed in, the kids...not so much. But, put it in a list of rules, that someone else wrote, and the kids are all over it. There was one day Gracie woke up early and was miserable. I told her she needed to take a nap and she started to cry and whine.

"Gracie, remember we all need adequate sleep?"

Gracie sadly nods her head, tears running down her face, boogers too.

"What does adequate mean?"


"And you didn't get enough sleep last night, did you?"

Gracie shakes her head and, with her sleeve, wipes her face.

"So, taking a nap will help you get adequate sleep, won't it."



We talked about taking care of our teeth and looked at our teeth prints, seeing the two different kinds of teeth omnivores have. We read about digestion and then simulated it...

A banana was our food. We put in on a plate and smashed it with fork (chewing). It slid through a snack baggie with the ends cut off (esophagus) into a sandwich bag (stomach).

The kids got to churn it in the baggies. It then went into panty hose (the small intestine) where they squeezed it down into a paper cup (large intestine and rectum). The water and pulp that squeezed out symbolized the nutrient we absorb into our bodies. We then cut a whole in the bottom of the cup to expel our waste. That was their favorite part!

We've used our brains (PB law #10) in all sorts of ways...we've been creative, traditionally intellectual, played games and listened to music. We have talked about the fitness laws (PB laws #3, 4, and 5) and practiced some over the past two weeks...with plans to do more this next week. (Next week is going to be a sort of vacation for us. We aren't starting a new unit and are taking a couple days completely off to play! But we'll still be doing math, writing letters, and practicing vocab on a few of the days. Anyway....)

We've done lots of playing (PB law #7), both inside and out. We created a Grok Kit for our van, a set of fitness goodies to stay in the van in case we find ourselves with time and a place to play. (Thanks tbow!) This coming week we're meeting up with some (hopefully) new friends on Wednesday to celebrate not-back-to school day for us (the local public schools start that day). We're going to the zoo on Thursday to see some old friends, and the animals too!

So, the only law I haven't mentioned yet is PB law #9 - avoid stupid mistakes. We discussed this on the first day but haven't talked about it much since then. That was almost two weeks ago. Yesterday Jace said, "Mama, I'm a little worried now that we know the primal blueprint laws."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I like to go to Luki's house and ride his 3-wheeler." (Luki is the boy down the road who has a tricycle-style bike...it's sized for bigger kids, though, not toddlers.)

"What does that have to do with the primal blueprint laws?"

"One of them says to avoid stupid mistakes."

Jace is such a clever boy. It was a good opportunity to talk about wearing a helmet but still having fun. Getting scratches, bumps, and bruises is acceptable. Breaking your leg on a stunt you know is not bright...that might be considered a stupid mistake.

It's been a great two weeks and there's more food, fitness, and fun to be had!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Five

I love little games, answering questions, thinking...they're so fun! Today, while running through my daily blogs I decided to link up to a new one!

The idea is that Mrs. Gambizzle puts out 5 words and we reflect on our weeks and write something that comes to mind for each emotion. This week's words are:


Happy - I've been feeling a lot this week that I am happy. I'm content with my life, it's simplicity, the flow of it, the direction we're headed. Happy.

Giggly - When Jace threw up at the grocery store this week it was purple. We didn't giggle right then and there, mind you, but we did chuckle about it later. If only we could all eat blackberries before vomiting...

Excited - I met another primal, homeschooling mother of three! Well, she's pregnant with number four (and I am NOT), but the three kids she has are similar ages to mine. Mostly I'm thrilled to know, in person, another primal family.

Loved - Gracie left the house last night, as she often does, to run down the street and see if her friends were out. Usually she lets me know she's ready to leave and runs out the door. Last night she gave me a hug and a kiss before running away. Unexpected TLC from kids is always an incredible thing.

Thankful - I'm quite thankful that only Jace got sick and no one else caught it.

How about you...what's making you feel something this week? Head over to Mrs. Gambizzle's to read and share!

Friday Fill-In #10

Friday...already? Apparently time not only flies when you're having fun, but also when you're dealing with sick kids, homeschooling, and living life as usual.

If you didn't know, Wife of a Sailor, posts these thought-provoking questions every Thursday and we (military spouses who want to put ourselves out there!) answer the questions on our blogs on Friday. Nifty little get-to-know-ya, huh?

Here's this weeks Q & A:

1. What secret indulgence do you act on while your spouse is away? (from Devil Dog Darling)

Scott hasn't been out to sea in a while. We've been on shore duty for 3 years. In the past, though, when he'd leave I'd get Netflix and watch movies, which we didn't do very often together. This winter when he leaves, things are going to be a lot different, so I'm not sure. I'll have kids old enough to know he's gone, plus we homeschool. So, I'll definitely be hiring a sitter to get out of the house every so often...we'll see what other indulgences I give in to!

2. If you were a spice, what would you be? (from New Girl on Post)

I actually went and googled spices to get a comprehensive list! I didn't want to forget one. :) After looking through the list, I've decided on vanilla. It's comforting and warm.

3. Where do you go for support when your significant other is deployed? (from Texas Meets Washington)

A number of places...it depends on what sort of support I need. I attend FRG meetings and gatherings when I can. I like knowing there's a connection we all have and they know exactly what Im' goign through right then. I also call my mommy when I need a shoulder. She doesn't necessarily know why I need her so much, but there's really nothing like mom. I have non-military friends who I occasionally depend on to help me think about anything but the military too.

4. What is the oldest thing you own? (from A Troop's Girl)

Good question...Scott has a sweatshirt from high school! But, actually, the oldest thing we have is probably something we got from one of our grandparents. When Grandma Gebel passed we got a dresser and a crib that were at her house. The crib is actually in NY at Scott's parents' home, as we don't need it. Jace uses the dresser. I also got some serving bowls from Grandma Kral after she passed. So, one of those things is probably the oldest...

5. How did you vision your future pre-military? (from Daddy's Duty)

I remember having a conversation in college where I was uncertain if I was following the right path...I was thinking that I didn't want to work my life away. I wanted to be home when my kids got home from school, to give them snacks and hear about their days. I wanted to take care of my husband and truly feel content in our life.

So, I guess...I'm doing that...I'm caring for our family, schooling our kids, feeding them snacks and living their days with them. I truly, currently, feel content with life.

(Sigh) That was cathartic. Lovely questions this week...be sure to check out all the other great answers too!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Day in the Life

It's a good life...the one I lead. I have my moments when I wonder how things have gotten to this point. This point being whatever frustrates me at the time. Overall, though, it's a good life.

Let's take today, for example. The boys slept in and Gracie and I got a little one-on-one cuddle time before breakfast. That rarely happens. If Tyler sees anyone near me, he has to get nearer.

After breakfast we got ready to go grocery shopping. While Jace was putting his sneakers on, I had the chance to explain the saying "behind the eight ball" to him. You see, I hadn't gotten the load of laundry in that I wanted to nor had I gotten the dishes cleaned off the counter. So, when we got home I was going to have all of that to do and groceries to put away. I think he got it...and I'm sure I'll hear him use it correctly soon enough.

We got to the store and were discussing which cart would be best for us today. (The commissary, military grocery store, has three different versions.) Jace took a drink of his water and told me he thought he was going to throw up, "Blaaaahhhh." Well, at least he warned me. I let a bagger know so it could get cleaned up and we came back home.

In no particular order I did the following things:
  • put in a load of laundry, including Jace's vomit spattered pants
  • got Tyler and Gracie a drink of juice
  • found Tom and Jerry on TV
  • called Scott to ask if he could get a few things for dinner
  • called to reschedule an appointment I had today that I was planning on taking the kids to
  • emptied the bathroom garbage can into the larger, kitchen one so Jace had a puke bucket
  • did a load of dishes by hand
Then I relaxed. I cuddled with my two well children. I played on facebook and chatted with my sister. I read books, watched movies and cartoons, and did more laundry and dishes. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I really like doing dishes by hand. I have a very small dish drain so it took me several loads to get the neglected counter cleaned up. But it's a thoughtless, restful activity that I enjoy from time to time.

By the end of the day Jace was feeling better, sitting up and reading, and I made a trip to the commissary with Gracie to got groceries for the week...the ones Scott hadn't so lovingly brought home without complaint.

I have a wonderful little family and everyone is (relatively) healthy and happy. What more could a mama ask for on any given day in her life?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitsap 9-11 Memorial

On Sunday we went to the Kitsap Mall parking lot and waited with a bunch of other people...

...see, a whole bunch of people. We waited for what turned out to be a 9-mile precession of over 700 motorcycles. It was impressive.
There were bagpipers from a Tacoma fire station and many other firefighters who didn't have instruments to play. There were military personnel, some in uniform, some not. There was a Pearl Harbor survivor there. I even saw a couple young girls who'd been crowned Miss Something. The sheer number of people there was incredible.

But what was more awe-inspiring was the reason we were all there. A fire chief here in Kitsap County wrote a letter to someone in New York City requesting a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, over a year ago. His request was granted and that piece of steel arrived in the county yesterday. It's going to be on display at the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede and after that will be made into a 9-11 memorial.

Check here to see a little more about yesterday's incredible afternoon.
Check here to learn more about the memorial.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Friday Fill-In #9

If you haven't visited any of my fellow military spouses' sites for their answers to Friday Fill-In...this is the week to do it! These are dooseys!

Last week Wifey asked for questions we would like to see in future Friday Fill-Ins. This week she picked five of them and turned them back on us. Clever...

So, here goes.

1. If you could be a fugitive from the law for whatever reason, what would be your crime? (from It's a Hooah Life)

If I'm going to be living on the lam (that's what it's called, right?) then I'll need some money, so I might as well pull off a robbery. Then I'd live off that money in some country where the US can't touch me, enjoying drinks with umbrellas in them!

2. How long do you think you will be a military family? (from Julie the Army Wife)

We have just under 6 1/2 years until Scott can retire (that will be 20 years and 4 months of active duty for him, and includes his 10 years as an officer commitment), so at least that long. The question of whether we go further or not is one we revisit frequently. I guess we'll know in, say...6 1/2 years. Yup, by then we should know for sure.

3. What's your favorite recipe? (from Keep Calm and Soldier On)

Great question! I can't wait to read everyone else's answers. I'm surprised how much I had to think about mine. I really enjoy cooking and baking, but have made a lot of changes to our way of living (eating, fitness, general health) over the past several months, so my go to recipes aren't really ones I go to any more.

Here's a new favorite cookie recipe:

2 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
1/2 cup second nut flour/meal or nut butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix together and squeeze into 1 " balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit over for 12-17 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown.

I've made it using hazelnut meal for the second nut flour and I bought some cashew butter to try next! (The original recipe can be found on here.)

4. What would you want your last five words to be when you leave this life? (from My goal is Simple)

I couldn't decide between the following options that kept coming to mind. If I'm on my death bed, hopefully, I'll be able to figure it out!

a. "and the greatest is love"

b. "love, hug, smile, kiss, forgive"

5. Where do you hope to retire? (from Pennies from Heaven)

Wouldn't you like to know? I'm really not sure. I entertain the idea of retiring in Washington state, but the pull of family is all in New York, so that's definitely an option too. We've also talked about Massachusettes and Scott brought up Wisconsin once...so who knows!

So, go check out all the other great answers, and don't forget paper and pencil to copy all the best recipes!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Did It All Go Wrong?

I'm not a perfect mother and our kids, as darling as they can be when sleeping, are far from perfect too. Recently, they've been reasonably well-behaved, though. Even I have been impressed...until today.

Jace instructed Tyler to drop a rock on Gracie's back. Tyler's two. Jace is seven. One of them should have known better, right? Gracie later kicked Jace in the head. She's five, old enough to know not to kick people in the head.

So, where did it all go wrong?

A few weeks ago Primal Toad linked to a great article on primal parenting. I read through it, nodding my head, thinking "Yes...yes...we do that..." Then I hit hunter-gatherer concept #3. I stopped nodding quite so enthusiastically. In fact, I cocked my head to the side and wondered, "Really?"

"The way of the hunter-gatherer is based on a whole new level of trust, trust that children are people capable of making good decisions without external motivators."

Really? Yesterday, after I told them they couldn't slide down the steps into the front door on the top of a tote, Jace did tell Gracie, "You don't need to get your helmet. Mama won't let us go sliding." That's half a good decision I guess.

Apparently I need to work on my trust in their decision making to become a true primal parent. I'll do that...as long as they work on their good decision making. When that all happens we'll be able to turn things around and everything will go right again. I look forward to more of those days and less of days where people are kicking and hitting and...being kids.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Little Reminders

Today we started our healthy living unit. I'm really excited about it and I have a lot I want the kids to learn. This morning, it took an hour to go over the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws...an hour! My lesson plan had that task taking maybe ten minutes. OK, let's be honest. I don't have formal lesson plans. However, I do think about what I want to fit in in a day. There were other things I wanted to do this morning.

With that in mind, you might imagine that I was a little annoyed. The kids kept interrupting me, sometimes raising their hands (which I find adorable!) and sometimes just jumping up out of their seats. I asked them a few times to stop and listen, but they couldn't seem to do that. I was getting more and more frustrated...

...but then I calmed down. I realized that they weren't being obnoxious. They were excited. They wanted to pipe in with what they knew about eating healthy, fitness, and cavemen. I want them to be excited about it. I want them to learn from me about fitness and food, and have fun doing it! And we're homsechooling...if I don't get to something...no big deal.

Thank goodness I heard that inner voice that reminded me of those things. Instead of me shutting them down and having them write "I will eat broccoli and like it" a few dozen times, we laughed, visited, and learned. Hopefully.

It's great to remember, whether homeschooling or not, that kids learn and love best when given the freedom to do so and when they're guided by someone just as excited as they are.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monuments and Symbols

Hello, hello, hello!!! How is everyone? I know you've been wondering how homeschool went last week. I know it's Sunday and I'm just getting around to posting about our last unit...but good things come to those who wait!

And you've waited long enough. Last week we learned about monuments and symbols. We talked about national symbols, like the flag, and national monuments too. Over the summer we saw many of the things we read about...the kids were very excited about that. And we all want to go back to DC! There's so much more to see.

We also talked about local monuments and symbols. We visited Deterrent Park on base, the Poulsbo waterfront (where there's a statue of Maurice Lindvig, former mayor), Olympia and some other town. The last two field trips were sort of by accident. We met up with friends in Olympia and I wasn't planning on learning anything, other than how my friends have been for the past three years! However, while we were playing at the playground Jace announced, "Mama! I think I see a monument!"

Love the energy! So, we checked it out and sure enough, he's stumbled on a statue erected to show where the first customs house on the Puget Sound was. Then, on the way home, we stopped to get a snack and passed another statue! Again, Gracie noticed this one and Jace read the sign for us while we were at the stoplight next to it. It was a statue of a family and it was there to honor military families. Very nice.

So, we learned a lot out and about this week. We also read...we love to read! We found a series called Capital Mysteries by Ron Roy, who also writes the A to Z Mysteries. We all really enjoyed them and Jace is going to look for more to read this week at the library. They're fiction stories, but with facts in them too...like how tall the Washington monument is. We also read about the history of the American flag and the National Anthem. We learned about the White House, Dolley Madison's role during the War of 1812 in saving parts of history when DC got burnt and the pets that our presidents have had in their home. (Did you know they used to have goats "mow" the lawn? How's that for green?)

Gracie's favorite monument we learned about is the Statue of Liberty, "because she's a girl and her shoe size is bigger than yours."

Jace's favorite is the Iwo Jima Memorial because it has, "marines and one Navy guy with the American flag."

And, finally, we made our own monuments out of play dough and Legos. Tyler even joined in the fun.

Gracie's Lego statue in honor of Aunt Kate and her farm

Jace (so detail oriented), a monument to honor Uncle Nick and his team in Afghanistan

Tyler's addition to Mama's Lego statue, for Uncle Jared

the original monument honoring Jared and all firefighters

Tyler's monument to sea life

Jace's sub monument for Dada and the USS Henry M. Jackson blue crew

Gracie's monument in honor of baker's everywhere. These are "cookies on a pedastal."

Next week: Healthy Living...Food, Fitness, and Fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friday Fill-In #8

Every week Wifey at Wife of a Sailor brings us the fun of Friday Fill-In! I'm a sucker for questions and surveys and all that fun stuff...so here we go again!

1. What is ONE thing you'd like civilians to understand about being a military family?

that we're just like any other family...just with a different job

2. What is your favorite mistake?

Grad school. The mistake was thinking that I could be a therapist. As it turns out I really don't have what it takes, for a few reasons. But, going through grad school taught me so much about myself and life and I met some incredible people.

3. What indulgence could you give up for a year?

massages. I just went three years without one, so I know I can, but massages are probably my favorite way to relax. So, I won't be giving them up for the next year...I'll be getting more. But I could if I wanted to. ;-)

4. If you could be a winged animal, what would you be?

an owl...they're wise, look cool, and can turn their heads really far!

5. What is one question you'd like to see asked in a future MFF?

What's a stereotype or first impression you've had that's been changed through experience?

Done! Sorry it's late in the day, almost tomorrow for those of you on the East coast, but I've had a busy Friday! See you next week, though...and don't forget to check out other spouse's Friday Fill-Ins.

"Don't Put Your Ham on Your Head!"

Today's been a day. And it's not even over yet. I'm not feeling on the top of my game, thanks for Mother Nature, and everything is irritating me. Poor kids.

They're managing, though. We went to WalMart today with their birthday gift cards for a quick shopping trip. I hear you laughing...even the cashier laughed at me when I mentioned it was supposed to be a quick trip!

Before we got to birthday shopping, though, we had to get out of the driveway. This morning I shooed the kids out of the house, shut the door behind me and realized I didn't have my keys. The kids were already climbing in and out and around the van. I sat on the front step. I tried the door, but I had remembered to lock it. I tried the garage doors, but they were shut. I gave Scott's cell a ring, but there was no answer and I haven't put his office number into my cell phone yet. I sat down again.

I thought about the back porch, off the dining room, on the second level of the house...sometimes I don't lock that door. We happen to have a broken and unusable ladder (it was damaged beyond repair during the move) in the back yard. I called Jace over and had him climb the ladder and jump over the railing and try the door. He did. It was.

The window to our bathroom was open, if only we could get the screen out...but Jace was afraid to go up the unusable ladder a second time, this time more straight up. And I didn't think it would be safe for me, the kids supporting it isn't the same as me supporting it and I weight slightly more than Jace too.

So, we went back to the front of the house, where Jace thought he might have an idea. I only half heard what his crazy idea might have been. It involved the garage door and as soon as he said those words, I remembered that I have a garage door opener in the van...the unlocked van.

In my defense, our garage doors don't go down with the openers. We have to close them from the garage. And I never go in the house that way. I always use the front door. No matter what, though, I felt a bit silly. In the end, though, Gracie brought me my keys and we left for our morning adventures.

When we got back home I opened a few of the kids toys and got them lunch while they played. During lunch I found myself loosing patience...quickly. It might have had something to do with having to say things like, "Don't put your ham on your head."

So, now, Tyler's sleeping. Poor kid got new toys and then had to take a nap. Jace is putting together his new Legos. And Gracie is applying copious amounts of princess make up.

I'm taking a few deep breaths. How's your day going?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunshine and Rain

You might think that this post is going to be about life in the Pacific Northwest, where it can be a clear and sunshiny day and suddenly, from the blue sky, big, fat rain drops will fall! But it's not. That does happen, but it's not the focus of my musings this afternoon.

Today, I'm all about taking the bad with the good. You see, I'm trying to grow some flowers. (Not really...I'm actually trying to grow my children, but let's just keep with the analogy...) In order for them to grow strong and vibrant, they need sunshine and rain.

We've had a little rain lately, in our homeschool garden. Nothing torrential, just some unexpected summer showers. I know things could be much worse. I know the day will come when I'll feel like a tsunami flooded our classroom. So, I am not complaining. I'm just saying that the first three weeks went exceptionally smoothly. This week we've had a few rough spots. That's OK. Sunshine and rain.

So, what's been going on? Each of my three little lovelies has tried to shade homeschooling this week...with a big gray cloud. What I've found, though, is that I'm at peace with our decision to homeschool and, therefore, their clouds aren't a sign of impending doom. Instead, I see them as healthy, nourishing rain that's necessary for our growth. (Maybe you've felt a similar peace at some point...when you know you're doing the right thing and obstacles don't get you down, but become stepping stones.)

Jace is really struggling with math. If he knows how to do it, he's great! He'll zip through that part of the assignment happily and correctly. If he doesn't know it, he'll cry. He'll pout. He'll whine. He'll be completely miserable! And I'm talking complete melt down. I don't want to yell at him because, no matter what, he has to do math. He needs to learn these skills. And I'm his teacher. So, if I can't bully him into learning math, what can I do? Get physical!

His assignment yesterday included writing the number that came before the number given, counting by two's. For example, ____ 44. The answer would be...42. Well done! Jace knows how to count by two's going forward, but was completely stumped going back. Yesterday I worked with him to think about the fact that the tens doesn't change, and the ones digit is either 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8. He trudged through it. But I didn't want to trudge.

So, today we got out of our seats. We took steps forward counting by two's. All over the basement chanting, "2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12..." You get the idea. Once he was really into it and laughing with me, I had him direct me in moving forward or backward. When he said to go backward I counted backwards by two's as well. He loved it! And pretty soon..."Can I try?"

After that he did fine with his math today. I know it won't be the last obstacle we have with him, but I think he enjoyed a new way of learning. He even wanted to walk backward on the street when we took a little stroll before lunch, and counted backwards by two's and five's!

Gracie, has started getting easily worn out and needing frequent breaks. I have yet to figure out if she's trying to get out of things or if she's really tiring quickly. Either way, when her attention span is at it's limit, I give her the break she needs. I get enough tears from Jace, I don't need any from her! However, when she gets a break it's not to go play, it's to do another school thing. She and I work together on most of her actual school work, so when she complains of her arms hurting or whatever...I have her work on a Lego monument, read word flash cards, color by number, something different and that she can do on her own. I take those five or ten minutes to check in with Tyler and Jace and then Gracie and I get back to it!

These little breaks have helped with Tyler too. His rain cloud this week has been needing mommy time. Until now he's been playing well and quietly checking in every now and then. Yesterday he was, as Scott said, "a detriment to learning." He cried and fussed and climbed all over me, "Mama!!!!" But, as I said, I didn't get frustrated with him, just cuddled him more during breaks, played with him more at night, and clearly told him he could not behave like that. I don't know if clearly telling him anything really helped, but today he did better.

Sunshine and rain...and hopefully some beautiful blossoms.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday!

Today went pretty well. In homeschool this week we're taking a look at monuments and symbols, national and otherwise. I think this unit will only last a week. If that's the case, I'll fill you in on Friday!

But, for now, let me share with you what gems my children are.

Tyler just fell down the stairs because his sparkling Sleeping Beauty shoes slipped off. I tried really hard not to laugh while I consoled him. When he stopped sobbing I gave him the advice of perhaps carrying his pretty shoes to the basement and then putting them on.

We heard a song on the radio for the first time today. It's called "This Afternoon" and Nickelback sings it. Even though we've never heard it on the radio before, we're familiar with it because the video is quite popular on CMT and GAC. Who knew that Nickelback was a country group? Hmmm. So the cong came on and Gracie got excited. She said to Jace, "Don't you just love this song?"

The excitement rose in Jace's voice as he answered. "The songs OK, but what really makes it great is the video. In fact, if I could watch the video on mute that would be awesome!"

They're full of joy and, although they sometimes make me think I run a zoo, I love how priceless they make the time I have with them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Today was a relaxed day for me. If you remember from a few posts ago (here) my back is a little "jacked up." On Thursday, the chiropractor told me she was glad I was feeling better, but not to over do it. I thought I was heeding those words of advice, but today I'm pretty sore...and I didn't even do that much yesterday. The kids and I went to the library and the fabric store. We didn't even go for the walk I was planning because we were running late. But the library can be an errand that requires great physical strength. (Check here if you don't believe me.) And a fabric store with all three monkeys at lunch time requires great mental strength, and herding abilities. Thankfully we all made it out alive.

After those two trips, lunch, and a calm afternoon, I even suggested to Scott that we go to Scenic Beach for a little something to do last night. We walked from the parking lot to the beach and back. We let the kids play on the beach and on the playground for a while. It was a nice night. I know my walk was a bit more hilly than the "mostly flat" walking the chiropractor recommended a few weeks ago, but it was short and I went slowly.

So, I'm not sure if it was some or all of yesterday, but last night when we got back home I was beat and sore. I woke up this morning, still beat and sore. So I declared today a lazy day. And, not only was it lazy and relaxing, but full of simple pleasures.

Jace and I played Battleship. I was so close to beating him! I swear! But, in the end, he won. He asked if I'd play every day with him until he was 19. And, then, after he got back from his honeymoon, if Scott and I would give the game to him and his new wife so they could play every day!

Gracie and I read books and laughed and enjoyed a little America's Next Top Model. I wasn't letting her watch that for a while, but she did well with it today. We'll see if it needs to go back to the Mama only list. I'm hoping she'll do my hair too. She did the other day and I forgot how relaxing that can be!

Tyler cuddled with me, a lot. He laid with me and I read him stories while I iced my back. He cuddled on my lap after nap time. He sat with me and put my arm around him after Gracie made him cry. He's such a lovable little monkey.

They all are, actually. I felt lots of love today. From Scott too. In fact at one point he gave me a kiss and Jace asked where he was going. "No place. I just wanted to give Mama a kiss."

Simple pleasures.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smokey Saves the Day

So, I mentioned a few posts ago, when reviewing our library unit, that Gracie and Jace had written a wonderful, little story. I promised to post the story in a later post...this is it!

In case you're just tuning in and don't want to read the lengthy review, here's the short version of why we wrote a story and how we did it: In learning about the history of libraries, and therefore books, we discovered that two early ways of creating books were dipping quills in ink and writing on papyrus, which created scrolls actually, and using stamps to make the pages of books. We made our own berry ink and wrote a few lines to Aunt Mary with it. The kids came up with a story and illustrated it with stamps and drawings to mimic how the early Chinese did it.

We started with our stamps and brainstormed ideas for a story based on the pictures our stamps would make. Gracie, of course, wanted weddings and Jace, of course, wanted firefighting. Here's what they ended up with:

Jace H. Gebel was the one who suggested we write where the book was published. He's always thinking!
Well, a rousing game of Memory is calling my name...hope you have great weekend plans as well.

Friday Fill-In #7

Hello. For those that are regular readers...no you haven't missed Friday Fill-Ins #1-6. I just found this fun blog hosted by a fellow Navy wife and am jumping in on the fun! (OK, I didn't actually find the blog...a friend of my sister did and thought I'd like it. I do!)

So, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Wifey hosts a blog for military spouses. Each Thursday she posts a lists of questions. On Friday she answers them, and so can you! Don't be shy...

1. What is something you wish you'd learned to do earlier in life? Good question. I think gardening is my current answer. The big kicker (and reason anyone who knows my childhood is spitting out their drink right now) is that I had ample opportunity. We lived upstairs and my grandparents lived downstairs. We had acres of land, and several of them were planted with crops and flowers. Grandma could make anything grow. My mother also gardens. I remember her encouraging me to get out there with her...I didn't. I don't know what I was doing, but it wasn't learning to garden. Now I wish I knew more.

2. What is your biggest pet peeve with the military? No regular work hours. I can't plan on Scott being home every night by 7:00. Sometimes he's not even home by 5:00. Other days he's home at 2:00. It's chaotic and makes planning difficult. I can't count on him to be with the kids if I want to make an appointment or take a class. And he can't even tell me on any given day when to expect him that night. Sometimes it leaves me feeling a little off balance.

3. What tourist attraction near you have you never seen? I haven't been up to the gardens in Victoria, BC, or seen anything up there for that matter. With the Olympics being held there last winter there's probably even more to see now!

4. What are you avoiding doing right now? We need to do a little school work (we homeschool). There's not much to do today, though. So if we start late...that's OK. I've actually got 10 minutes until our normal starting time, so I might actually make it!

5. Wine, beer, or liquor? When I'm out at a bar or restaurant, which isn't often, it's likely a mixed drink of some sort. At home...wine coolers or hard lemonades.

There you have it...see you next week! Naturally, you're welcome to stop by anytime, but I'll be back next week for more Friday Fill-Ins!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Library Unit

It's official. Gebel Family Homeschool has completed it's first unit study! I don't know if the kids retained anything we learned, but I had fun...and that's what matters, right?

Originally, our Library Unit this was going to take two weeks. During that second week I realized we still had plenty left to do and expanded it another week. And what, you may be wondering, did we learn and do in three weeks of studying libraries? Glad you asked...

Especially since we just moved back to Washington, I wanted to get to know our local library. I recommend this even if you think you know yours...maybe you can get behind the scenes a little more and find out something new! As it turned out, our local library is part of a system of nine libraries. The Kitsap Regional Library is having a Tour de KRL this summer, inspired by one of the librarian's husbands who biked to all nine branches. It's not too late to take your tour. It's a ton of fun!

Here are our passports. Each of the kids got one. When we got a stamp from each branch each of us got a canvas bag. The kids are very excited to have their own book bags for library books! I'm pretty thrilled not to have to carry all the books anymore too.

During the first two weeks we not only visited each library, but also tried to see a little of the area where the library was located. Having lived here for six years before moving to Georgia, I'd never been to Manchester. As it turns out, they have a small public beach that you can see Seattle from. It's a short walk from the library and perfect for a picnic!

Aside from our travels we made two care packages. I know they don't have anything to do with libraries, although we did include books in both. I want my kids to learn the art of letter writing. We don't often do Thank You notes, but I want them to be able to hand write a note home from college or to a lonely great aunt. There's something wonderful and personal about letters. With that in mind, we're trying to write one a week. We wrote two in three weeks, this time around, but I'm good with that!

We'll try to pick up the pace from here on out! The two we wrote first, though, were to Uncle Nick and Aunt Mary. Uncle Nick is in the Army and currently in Afghanistan. We miss him and the kids ask about him all the time. I thought sending a little homemade love his way would be appropriate.

So, we made cookies and banana bread and put some little toys and books in a box and sent it all his way...along with letters and pictures by the kids.

Aunt Mary got the second group of letters and a little care package of her own for a few reasons.

1) We miss her too. She's Uncle Nick's wife (Mary's actually my sister) and living in Germany with their little one, Lu.
2) I don't think I sent them anything for Christmas. I know it's July, but that's why it's perfect to send a little something now...no one else will be.
3) Mary's so excited about our journey into homeschooling!!!! I really wanted to share some of our first projects with her.

As most of you probably know, dipping quills in ink was one of the early methods used to painstakingly make books. So, we made berry ink to write with! I found a simple recipe online (1/2 cup berry juice, strained, 1/2 tsp. vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt). We used blackberries. Then we wrote!

I made "quills" out of stir sticks, which worked pretty well, but the kids didn't like having to dip after each letter. I kind of liked the time it required and could have found it relaxing if the kids hadn't been whining. I'm odd like that though.

Next we tried q-tips. They didn't need to be dipped as often, but made very thick letters.

Finally, we tried fine paint brushes. These were a hit!

Here's a look at my letter. You can compare the three methods. You can also see that I didn't greet my sister with "Dear Mary," which, let me assure you, got me in trouble with my very detailed son, Jace!

The kids had a good time writing the letters, but Jace took it a little further.

He gave himself a moustache!

And then he tasted the ink. He asked if he could first. All the ingredients are technically edible so I let him.

I don't think he'll be drinking the leftover ink! Good, I can write something with my stir stick quill and relax...

So, anyway, what else did we do? We categorized books by size, subject, fiction or non, whose they were, alphabetically, ones we'd read and not read...any way we could think of. We thought of those ways by brainstorming. We came up with tons of ideas! Love all the ideas, kids...well done. After we put them in stacks based on whatever method we counted them, wrote the numbers in tally marks and regular digits, added them up, and graphed our results.

We compared all the libraries we knew, including our old one in Georgia and Grandma Foote's in New York. We talked about how libraries are all the same and what differences they have. We learned about what libraries offer other than books, both in material (magazines, DVDs, reference books) and activities (speakers, read alouds, classes). We learned about Melvil Dewey and his way of classifying books. Did you know that it originally included fiction books as well?

We read. Jace read a few books on his own and summarized them for us, either in writing or by telling us about them. We read lots of books together. Here's a partial list:
The Library Book: The Story of Libraries from Camels to Computers - Maureen Sawa
The Librarian of Basra - Jeanette Winter
I Believe in Unicorns - Michael Morpurgo
Magic Tree House #14, Day of the Dragon King - Mary Pope Osborne
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World - Vicki Myron (only read excerpts)
Bob the Alien Discovers the Dewey Decimal System - Sandy Donovan

The last thing we did was write our own story and make a book from it. Another early method of book making, used by the Chinese, was to stamp pages. We didn't stamp whole pages, but instead used stamps as part of our illustrations.

The kids dictated the story and I wrote a rough draft for them. Then we made a few changes and decided on a title. They did a great job. I'll put the story in another post....I have a feeling this one is getting long!

The most important part, though, is that "they ALL lived happily ever after." And, after our first official homeschool unit, so are we.