Daddy's taking us to the zoo

At the zoo before it even opened!

Jonah took this one. I thought it was pretty good.

Up first, the carousel. It's free for the first hour so the kids did it three times. This was Norah's first go and I'm not sure she was thrilled with it. Jonah still won't ride on anything that goes up and down because he's not sure if it is safe. We then headed over to pet the sting rays and sharks. Lucy had fun but Jonah just watched because that definitely wasn't safe...except it was ;-)

Norah's just learned to point recently so she kept pointing at things. But she never seemed to point at the interesting things. Like, who cares about that giant rhino, look at the leaves daddy.

It really was an amazing morning. Not too many people and almost all the animals were out. We same the rhino, hippos, and the elephants.

We even got to watch a granddad repeatedly call this a Rhino until someone finally (finally!) corrected him.

 We also visited the penguins, seal lions and the polar bear. The polar bear wasn't in the mood for a swim which is when he is the most entertaining but I think that is the only less than ideal viewing we had. Everyone was out and about and it was perfect! Also perfect, the afternoon nap Craig let me have afterward. Zoo-ing is hard work people.


15 miles on the Panama* Canal

A large portion of the books I read are old. Not flare jeans, but really old. And if they aren't written a long time ago, they are at least set a long time ago. But when I heard about a mystery set in the Panama Canal building zone, I was intrigued. Here was a time and place I knew very little about. I was a bit confused because it seemed like it was being described in various ways - sometimes a suspenseful historical mystery and other times a Christian romance novel. I wanted the first, not the second. So I took a gamble. And I did okay.

In terms of history, Saffire did a great job of capturing the environment of 1909, the various cultural zones of the panama canal, the politics and differing levels of society. There were a few scenes where I felt like I could close my eyes and picture it all completely. The mystery was decent. I got lost on the details a bit and at times wondered exactly what was supposed to be happening in the plot which isn't usual for a mystery buff like me but I wasn't really disappointed in the end, at least with regards to the mystery. And it certainly isn't a typical Christian romance. As I said, for me that's a plus but if you pick it up expecting that, you'll be disappointed. I actually can't really figure out why the romance part was stuck in there at all. It felt like he wanted to write a historical mystery but the publishing company wanted a romance so he appeased them.

Overall, I really wanted to like it but it just fell short. There was so much initial potential with our main character, James Holt, his backstory and the current decisions he faced. I liked the title character Saffire although she didn't play as large a role as you might expect. There were a few other interesting characters as well. It just didn't quite get pulled together in the end. And while I hardly want to be hit over the head with religion when I'm reading a novel, I'm not sure why this would be described as a Christian novel. The author started us down a path that should have led to ideas of consequences and redemption but never developed it. This is probably one of most disappointing types of books to read. I'd rather hate a book outright that be disappointed by an almost but not quite good read. But I do want to learn more about the Panama Canal now and I would definitely consider reading something by this author in the future.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

*I know that song is really about the Erie Canal but every time my brain thinks the word canal, it sings that song. True story. Which is another negative to this book, although hardly one I can blame the author for. 


Four should be fun

Dear Jonah,

Four! You are four today! You've been counting down the days for a while. To you, that mostly means saying "tomorrow I'll be four!" and my reminding you that no, you have a X days left. For about two months now. But finally it was actually true.

Lucy saying "There's the birthday boy!"

You're such a simple kid. You didn't have grand plans for your birthday. You wanted homemade pizza with Pepperoni AND sausage. You wanted a dessert with dirt and gummi worms (but not cake, you don't like cake) and you wanted to go to the zoo as a family. And maybe some Legos. Because you are big now. But not too big. I love that you still want me to snuggle with you at night but I fear those days are numbered.

You love to be a boy. Obviously having a big sister has influenced you a bit but the boy is coming out and you are starting to exert yourself more and more. Just this morning Lucy managed to convince you to pretend to be Gaston so she could be Belle but then you decided that Gaston needed to eat Belle instead of want to marry her.  So then she tried Jafar so she could be Jasmine. You'll go along with her plans to spend the morning drawing but decide to draw trucks and cars and helicopters instead of the princess scene she suggests.

You and Lucy continue to be best friends. I love watching you talk to each other. You understand each other in a way no one else can. And you've got to keep up with her. You fill in answers when she takes her exams, you insist on doing math too - and your pretty good!  You are also amazing at puzzles and love to put together spatial type block challenges whether that's games or duplo buildings just based on a single picture. You've started writing your letters and love to sit with Lucy so she can make one for you to copy.

But you don't leave Norah behind. You are a great big brother. You love to sing, to the tune of Oh, Shenandoah, "Oh Norah Jane, I really LOVE you" and you are always watching out for her. Sometimes your help causes more problems that real help but your heart is in the right place. You can make her laugh so easily and you insist on rushing in to her as soon as you hear her wake up from a nap.

I love how I never really know what's gonna come out of your mouth. You show me a drawing of a spider and then proceed to tell me all about it and all the observations you've made and I'm amazed at the mature ideas you have. But then I read the line "wait for him to grow thin again" and you follow up with "and poop."

You're a man of opposites. You have two speeds -  whirling tornado fast or dawdling tortoise slow. Going on a hike with you is a pendulum of "Jonah, wait up for us!" and "Jonah, come on, let's go." One of the most common phrases out of your mouth is "That's not safe" and you rode the carousel three times at the zoo but never on one that went up and down because those were too scary. But I can't count the number of times I've found you about to do something that might kill you - like try to ride your tricycle or bike on our concrete wall or tying a jump-rope around yourself to catch you as you jump out of a tree.

You're skinny and fairly little but really strong and a good athlete - when you feel like it. Overall, you're a stinker. You are the reason we check out books like "No David" and "Harriet, you'll drive me wild" from the library. You probably only wear pants about half the time we are at home (but thankfully, 100% of the time we aren't!) and are often covered in dirt and bruises. But you can be super sweet too. The kind of kid who carefully reads the car his sister drew him before ripping into his presents. You insist on rescuing worms and ants that are caught in rain puddles.

 And when at home, you're volume is most decidedly loud but out and about, you are quiet and introverted. You often tell us you don't want to do something because you are shy. That's okay but I do think everyone else is missing out. Because loud or quiet, fast or slow, you are pretty awesome and I'm glad I have the privilege of being your mom!

Jonah's interview

What is your favorite color? I have two. Black and Brown.

What is your favorite toy? Legos

What is your favorite game? Castle Game

What is your favorite song? Celtic woman songs. The first one. 

What is your favorite animal? Cows

What is your favorite book? St George and the Dragon. 

What do you like to snuggle with at night? Baby Cow

What is your favorite movie? Brave

What is your favorite thing to eat? Pizza

Where is your favorite place to go? Volcano Park

What is your favorite outfit? Fox shirt and my wild thing shirt and the shirt that has nothing on it (all three of his grey and black raglan shirts)

What do you like to learn about? Cows, like at grandpas farm

What have you learned in the last year? write letters

What is hard for you? put legos together

What is your favorite thing to do as a family? go places

What do you like about Mommy? play with

What do you like about Daddy? Play with

What do you like about Lucy? Playing

What do you like Norah? Playing

What do you like about yourself? Playing

What do you want to be when you grow up? Sea diver


Brain Dump, read at your own risk

I think I've lost my writting mojo. Either that or having three kids have taken all my free time and brain cells away. So I'm just try writing with no plan and see what comes out. Sorry if it's awful! One thing that this fall break has shown me is that, yes, homeschooling uses up the naptime that I might otherwise be able to use to accomplish things but no, having one naptime available wouldn't suddenly make me supermommy, able to finish a long to-do list in a single morning and still get some sitting down quiet time for herself. Because this is what today's naptime consisted of:

Jonah: Mommy, I pooped.
Me: Put semi-sleeping baby that really needed another couple minutes of nursing down in bed and hope she stays asleep while I rush out and wipe things that need wiping.
Norah: stirring, falls back asleep
Me: Okay, a miracle, fix a drink, send this quick email and then I can read my book in peace for a few minutes while kids color and then try to write that blog post.
Me: fix a drink (chai latte for the win!)
two seconds later...
Lucy: He's hogging all the colors!
Jonah: I want them (he doesn't even try to deny it).
Me: Get up and review oil pastel rules, return to drink, take one sip
two seconds later...
Lucy: He's calling my picture nasty!
Jonah: Because I don't like it!
Me:Get up and review kind words rules (#1 - We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds and #2 If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all and #3 Don't ask someone their opinion if you don't want it (and if they are a little turd of a toddler, okay, that one was just in my head)
two seconds later...
Me: Return to computer, take another sip
Me: Finally send email - after reviewing meeting minutes and converting documents to pdf and double checking some info. So, not very quickly at all.
Me: Okay, now I can sit on the couch for a second and drink my now cold drink.
two seconds later...
Norah: Babababa - aka, the universal sign that the baby is no longer asleep.

Oh well, those two sips were quite nice. And actual, right now the kids are coloring semi-nicely. I mean, yes, there is an argument about how much glue exactly is "dot, dot, not a lot" but I'm not getting involved yet. The baby is enjoying playing with/sucking on my already broken headphones so I'm just letting her. And this blog post is getting written although it was meant to be a book review and as you can see, it is not.

Overall, the break has been good. I've gotten my entire fall cleaning list done and only added three tasks to Craig's in the process. (Things like replace the bathroom doorknob with one that I can easily unlock from the outside, ahem). And I was really ambitious when I wrote it, even including moving the fridge to vacuum behind it and washing the curtains. I didn't think I'd get to everything but just doing a couple a day we plowed through. This week we've got birthday plans for the soon to be four year old, a couple more adventure days and I'll be attempting to put a few freezer meals up for those crazy days that will come.

And then Term 3! I think I'm ready, kinda-sorta. We ended up having a lot more outside the house things that I planned for this fall. They've already started so I'm not sure if also having school will make it easier since the rest of the day's routine will be in place, or if they stress they are causing me will be the many straws that break my back and I'll be wishing it was December already. None of them are big in and of themselves but they add up and now Craig's got a couple work trips that I wasn't expecting and this momma is feeling overwhelmed. It's probably partly caused by the fact that I spent yesterday putting lots of things on my calendar. I have to keep reminding myself not to borrow worry. Today is fine, tomorrow is too. And look, I even wrote a blog post today!


11 months

Dear Norah,

Just one more month until your birthday! I'm hoping its a slow month. I am not ready for you to be one year old.

But you don't seem to do slow. You are everywhere and you want to right in the action. When we play outside with your brother and sister, you chase their bikes and scooters. It's a good thing you don't seem to mind going in circles!

Jonah wants to move that heavy log across the yard? You volunteer to help!

You have become so much more communicative this month. You say mama and I do believe have started to sign milk and all done. And beyond that, you don't have a problem getting your point across, whether that means hitting us on the head with a book until we read it to you or screeching and throwing yourself down in a heap when everyone else goes outside and attempts to play without you. You point a lot. Point at the high chair tray - you want more food. Point at the door - you want to go outside. It's pretty clear. (And it should be pretty clear that you really like to be outside)

You also give hugs and kisses which are drooly and right now, a bit snotty. So gross but adorable nonetheless. You have been known to chase around your brother trying to kiss his head before he finally gives in. But his forms of affection aren't always the most comfortable looking either so its a two way street.

(Don't worry mommy, I got her!)

You are really into books this month. Your favorites are Mama, Mama; Papa, Papa, Babies and sadly, The Foot Book. (I normally don't like abridged books but in this case, I'm glad its the short version). You will tolerate Goodnight Moon if I read it fast enough and haven't totally abandoned last months' favorite Pat the Bunny but its starting falling apart already so we have to find both halves to read it. We quite literally read that book to pieces.

You've also started to copy us. You like to help sweep and "help" clean up. That normally involves things going in the wrong places or being taken out of the container I just put them in but the intentions are good. 

You noticed I had a headband on and wanted on as well. It turned into more of a scarf but you still were very proud of it and did NOT want to take it off. You even wore it to church. You really do love accessories and shoes already. It cracks me up but when I put shoes on you, you're body language clearly says "I'm adorable in my shoes and I know it!" This has been independently verified by non-related adults so I know it's not in my head. 

You are pretty much always filthy. And I even give you a bath every day. But you like to eat.

Yum, watermelon. 
and you like to play - hard.

Get me outta this thing! (You actually sit nicely in the stroller as long as its moving. The second it stops though, you want down.)

You were playing with the rain water in the wagon and then, bam, you had climbed up into into it and were soaking wet. Good thing we didn't have to go anywhere and I didn't mind the mess. Phone in the toilet, baby on top of the picnic table, all the colored pencils taken out of the box and rolled around the kitchen - blinking is dangerous. 

And then you crash. You don't actually fall asleep in my arms much anymore so despite it being too late in the day to allow this, I couldn't help myself. We paid for it with a super late bedtime but it was worth it. Snuggles are always worth it with you my baby girl!


Finally some fun!

Our fall break got off to a rough start with a car ac problem and then a week of colds and fevers and runny noses. But finally we were able to get out of the house and start "adventuring." We spent over three hours running around the botanical garden today - exploring the Japanese garden, sitting down for a snack picnic and nature journalling time and then playing in the children's garden and splash pads. And I actually took the good camera! And used it!

"Look at the stork taking care of its eggs, mom, take a picture!"We are reading Wheel on the School so they were particularly happy to see a stork. I'm not actually sure if it is supposed to be a stork but I wasn't gonna tell them that. 

Always have to say to the lambies. 

Connection alert! We went here a few months ago and I tried to figure out the locks and show them how they worked and they just weren't interested. But then we read Paddle to the Sea and learned about locks and this time - they were so excited! Lucy showed me just how to make it work and it didn't take Jonah long to figure it out either although in all honesty, he liked to do it wrong just to watch the boat go "too fast, ahhh!" down the river and hopefully even flip over. Boys will be boys. 

While the big kids played, I tried to get some good 11 month pictures of Norah. Most of my pictures are in sequences like this...

She did manage to sit still for a few good ones though. 

But wait, are Lucy and Jonah playing over there...wait for me!

Lucy wanted a "girls pictures"

and one "just of me being beautiful." And she is beautiful! I love how young girls are just so confident in their beauty. It isn't a comparison thing or a put down to anyone else. She just knows she's lovely. A lovely day with my three lovely kids.