Jonah turns 7 years old!


 This has been a great year for you! You've really grown up and I'm so proud of who you are. You are smart, funny, silly and a great brother.

We did an early celebration with Grandpa Bob and Gigi while we were visitng Gulf Shores last week. That week was a fun chance to really see how much you've grown. You raced right out to that water without even looking back! You also showed off your love of nature and your great observation skills. We all know a lot about crab claws now!


Jude is one of your very favorite people and you two have a special bond. You love your sisters too and CAN get along great with them - but you also have your frenemy times as well. But I know that, even if your self control fails you at times, you love them fiercely. 

I'm really enjoying doing school with you these days. You make first grade seem like, child's play :-) You love math the most. So much so that we're actually going through two programs. You also love your readings. Handwriting is really the only thing you aren't super enthuisiastic about but even then you don't complain. You love problem solving and experiementing, snap circuits, maps, games, puzzles and riddles, robots,  art and above all - LEGOS! 

You're still not a big guy but you are growing! You're 41 lbs and almost 4 ft. But you're strong and fast and all the holes you've dug in my back yard show that fact. 

Now, that's enough from me. Let's hear what you have to say about yourself!

Jonah's Birthday Interview:

What is your favorite color? Red

What is your favorite toy? Legos

What is your favorite game? Settlers of Catan

What is your favorite song?  The Echo Song from church  (I think he means the Prince of Peace?)

What is your favorite animal? Fennec Fox

What is your favorite book? My new MAPS book

What do you like to snuggle with at night? Nothing.

What is your favorite movie? Star Wars!

What is your favorite thing to eat? Spaghetti and Pizza

Where is your favorite place to go? Legoland and to the Lego store to get me another Lego set. 

What is your favorite outfit? I don't have. 

What do you like to learn about? Legos (laughing) What about in school? Math.

What have you learned in the last year? How to build a Lego AT AP walker. 

What is hard for you? Lifting a house.

What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Go on a vacation

What do you like about Mommy? That you make spaghetti and meatballs for me. 

What do you like about Daddy? That he plays games with me. 

What do you like about Lucy?  That she makes me breakfast sometimes. 

What do you like about Norah? That she is funny. 

What do you like about Jude? He laughs and he is sooo fun to play with. 

 What do you like about yourself? That I'm good at Legos. 

What do you want to be when you grow up? A person who lives in a Lego house. 


Mason for me - crawling over the finish line!

I did it! I finally finished Ambleside Online Year 8! Okay, so it took my a whole year and a half which is twice as long as I had hoped but I also had a kid in that year and a half so I think I did good. These are some of my notes, mostly just the things I want to remember for when Lucy actually hits this grade.

History/Biographies: Churchill has really grown on me. I'm not sure if I've just gotten better at reading him or maybe since I was reading a bit behind where Lucy and I were in history with Our Island Story I already had a better background understanding but this second volume was much easier for me than the first. History is not my favorite subject and I was tempted to cut some of the shorter items (the speeches, journals, Life of donne, etc) but I did keep all the addtions and I do think they added to the overall program. I won't be moving on to year 9 (more on that later) but I do think I might buy the next Churchill and maybe other main history texts, trying to keep in the same time period as Lucy as she progresses because doing both the younger year and the upper levels together has some major advantages!

Geography: Kon Tiki. Interesting but not really mappable :-) I didn't really like The Life of Christopher Columbus so I might try the other selection when I have a Year 8 student.

Citizenship: I didn't start Ourselves in Year 7 and I haven't finished it but I thought it well done. I'll probably hold off on reading the rest and just pre-read closer to when my student reads it because it's not narrative enough for me to be able to remember for individual narrations years in advance. Utopia is a great read in terms of discussions and Bacon's Essays are easy but deep reads.

Literature: Westward, Ho. Okay, that was not my favorite but I finished it and I can see a young man enjoying it. The other literature selections are great, I'm looking forward to re-reading The Betrothal with Lucy. I gave up on The Holy War. I just don't like Bunyan. Lucy loved Pilgrim's Progress while I had to hide my distaste for it so I'll probably at least have her try this but I also won't hesitate to substitute if need be. Sorry not sorry.

Poetry: I've come so far with poetry! And I'm so proud of myself! I had already read Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves but I do want to get the second in the series. I read the other poetry this year with the exception of Paradise Lost. I had planned to read that but I've just started Anthony Esolen's translation of Dante's Inferno and while I'm definitely coming along in my ability to handle poetry, both of those would be too much for me to take at one time!

Science: When I started year 8, I wasn't sure how much of the science I was going to attempt. Mostly because I'm using this to expand my horizons and since it was my field of study, science is already an area I feel pretty confident in handling. But then again, I also really like science so not surprisingly, I ended up reading everything except First Studies of Plant Life and Signs and Seasons and Adventures with a Microsope. I wish I could have read those too but they're on the pricey side for mother culture (well, Adventures with a Microscope isn't but I'd need a microscope and those are). I enjoyed reading the ones I did get to but I will also be quite honest and say I'm pretty sure I'll be tweaking the AO plan but how much is undecided for now especially as I didn't get to pre-view the most textbook type books they've included in the program so I know I'm not getting the full picture for their science plan. I know that. That said, I really loved The Microbe Hunters so that will probably stay and I do think Chemical History of a Candle and Briefer History of Time probably will too. I won't use Napoleon's Buttons and if I need to cut, I'd feel fine about taking Kepler and Gage books although the Gage book is quite an easy read and probably one that most 8th graders wouldn't mind reading about.

Overall, I really loved year 8 and I'm excited for my kids to hit this year in the future. And now that Lucy's in year 4, year 8 doesn't seem nearly as far away as it did when I started Mason for me and she was just in year 2. But now that she is in year 4 and I'm having to pre-read as well as read aloud year 1 for Jonah, my time is running thin. So I won't be able to keep a full year 9 schedule. I will be trying to keep up with history as I said and use their selections for biographies and literature if I'm looking for some quality reads. I'd love to have as many of them read as I can before I hit those years but no pressure. I just love knowing that the AO list is a quality list that I can depend on when looking for something for my tbd pile.


Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Dear Jude,

You're one! You survived, we survived - let's celebrate! Except you're sick with a 100+ fever and only happy strapped on my back in the kinderpack while I rock back and forth. Luckily I can sway and type. These are the types of skills you gain when you have four kids.

But sad sick birthday crankiness aside, you're a pretty awesome little kid.

Loves: Food, almost all food but especially fruit. The only thing you have really rejected was you're birthday cheesecake. It made you cry. But I think we'll try again when the fever is gone and that might change.  Oh, and green beans. Those are suspicious. But tomatoes, beans and pb&js are some other favorites and you've finally decided you like eggs. But not as much as blueberries. If you see blueberries, you immediately reject all other foods. We normally pick a bunch and they last in our freezer until march or april but we're already out because you eat them daily.

Other things you love include baths, but not being forced to sit down in the tub. Cars and pushing things around. Anything - boxes, carts, tables, chairs. If you can push it, you will. That's true about climbing as well. You love to climb. You've been kinda fussy inside lately, probably because I keep stopping you from climbing all the things and opening all the drawers and lazy suson and spilling all my food and just generally impose limits on all your fun plans. So inside you like to be held or worn unless of course your big siblings are entertaining you. Otherwise, you prefer to be outside. You love to be outside. You love the sandbox and have finally stopped eating sand. You love to push toys around. You love to go up and down the little set of stairs to the yard. I hold my breathe each time expecting you to fall because you insist on climbing down face first but you haven't ever falled. You love to follow the big kids around and will climb up the hill all the way to the tree house, climbing dome or chicken coop just to see what they are up to without even glancing back at me.

Which is funny because at other times you are super clingy. You don't like church nursery anymore unless I am sitting down and talking to someone without even attempting to look in the direction of the door. You like to play with daddy as long as I'm not in the room then you are a fair weather friend. I know it's just a phase and before long you'll be prefering other to mommy but for now I appreciate the love. You really love your siblings though. They can make you smile and laugh when nothing else seems to work. And you love to make them laugh. You've recently turned into a little comedian and you love it when they laugh at your antics and you'll repeat it to make them laugh again. And even if the action itself isn't that funny the second (or third or fourth time), when they know you're doing it to make them laugh, it makes it funny and everyone obliges you by cracking up.

You want to be in on all the action. You love to be out and about, are a great road-tripper and don't seem to realize you aren't a big kid yet.

You love to play peek-a-boo, to be tickled, to clap and copy people pointing. You love to share you food with us even if we don't want it (we have to take it and at least pretend to eat it or you just keep insisting). You're starting to love books - both being read to on my lap or just sitting by yourself and flipping the pages.

You started walking last week but prefer to crawl still, most often the bear crawl. No need to damage your knees! You can say da-da but don't really say it much.

You're starting to sleep through the night which is nice. I didn't realize how nice until the last few days when you haven't because you're sick. I'm ready to go back to that. You still take two naps but can do one if we are on the go a lot that day which is quite a nice stage.

The last few weeks you've really seemed to grow up and I love watching your little brain work. You love your car ramp toy and your ball pounding toy and like to do them over and over again. You also spent about 10 minutes yesterday putting pegs into your peg car and dumping them out again. We have another little game we play together where you walk your bouncy ball over to the laundry basket and drop it in and I clap for you. It's a fun one.

My favorite thing you do is when I pick you up, you rest your head on my shoulder and pat my back. You have me wrapped around your finger and you know it. We call you Jude the Dude, Jude-y (probably should probably stop that one soon), Little Pookie and Baby boy. I might stop that last one externally but not internally, you're my baby and you always will be. You're everyone's favorite Jude! Happy Birthday!


Colorado Road Trip Part 3 - Homeward Bound

Oops, I thought I posted this weeks ago. I hope nobody was waiting with bated breathe to see if we made it home :-)

All good things must come to an end and such it was with our trip. The kids were so upset when it was time to go. So many tears! It almost made me want to never go on a roadtrip again level sad faces. But luckily we had a really fun stop just a few hours after we headed out - The Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Great Sand Dunes National Park (MacKenzie - 5 stars, Craig - 5 stars)

(Yes, Norah's wearing pajamas. We left the cabin around 6am so we could get to Dunes before it got too hot. She put on clothes before we went into visitors center I promise)

The visitors center was small but a good stop to get started because we picked up Junior Ranger booklets for kids and learned a bit about how the dunes were formed and what we might find there (bugs not found anywhere else! Black magnetic sand!) then it was time for the dunes.

 I'll be honest, when we first got here I was worried it's be a bust of a stop. Kid's attitudes were bad and made worse by a thick application of sunscreen, then we had to walk through the creek to get to the dunes and the bugs were so bad. BUT we persevered and it didn't take long for everyone to start smiling. It was so neat! I wish we had gotten a sand sled but I was worried the younger ones wouldn't be able to do it and it would be frustrating. Next time (and we do hope to go back) we'll do the sled but even without it, they had a blast.

Sand Angels!

Jude was a crawling fool in this sand. We kept letting him wander thinking he'd eventually come back to me but nope, he was having too much fun in the freedom of a large, pretty much baby proof space. And the sand wasn't hot yet (it was probably around 9am)

After a while the sun was warming us up and we were ready for the creek. The kids weren't sure they wanted to change into swimsuits but I convinced them it would be worth it. Plus we needed more bug spray so we needed to go back to the car again anyway. 

Pretty soon I was hearing "You were right, Mom! This is so much fun!" I rarely say "I told you so" to my kids but I flat out said "I told you so!" and they all laughed with me. 

It wasn't very deep but really wide and some spots were perfect for Jude to splash it while some were moving faster and great for Lucy and Jonah. Norah loved it all. And the bugs weren't that bad out in the water. 

They loved finding the black sand and trying to alter the course of the water.

And of course, just splashing around. Then we sat on the sand for a while, filled out the junior park ranger booklets and dried off. This was one of the more involved Junior Ranger programs we've done and they really earned their (really neat wooden) badges. 

We spent so much time at the dunes and creek that we didn't have time to hike. And I would have loved to stay here in the evening and see the stars (we had originally planned to stop on our way and do that but weather/schedule made us alter our plans). Craig and I both want to come back to this park and do more. 

Next stop of the day was the town of Kit Carson. This might have been fun if there were interpreters but while the trail was technically open, the buildings were all locked and kids were hot and whining so we didn't stay long....so we have our roadtrip moments just like you'd expect!

Later on that night we found this old school playground and took advantage of it to get some wiggles out of the kids. 

They all survived the slide but I had to bite my tongue a bit so I wasn't saying "be careful! be careful!" the entire time.

The next day was our last travel day and we were all more than ready to be home but we still had fun at the Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, KS (MacKenzie 3 stars, Craig 3 stars)


 It's a really cute little town complete with an Emerald green playground at the end of the yellow road. Our kids LOVE the whole book series and have listened to the full thing at least three times on librovox. Thank goodness for Librovox because while I love the movie, the books are a bit weird to me and not my favorite thing to read aloud. But thank you Phil Chenevert for reading it for me!

We had plans for one more stop but all four kids were asleep as we drove past and there was 0% change of us stopping with four sleeping kids and just 5 hours until home to go so it's going to have to wait for our next roadtrip that way.