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Category Archives: The Kids

Six!!!

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I know I say it every year…but, man! Six! Another year flew by, and I have a boy who is *this* much closer to…well, young man-dom. Which my brain just can’t fathom. In six more years he will be 12 (that math lesson was free!), and with how fast these six flew by…well, yep. Crazy.

We started the day with birthday breakfast, which is homemade pancakes with sprinkles, fresh whipped cream, and raspberries. Such a simple addition to pancake batter just makes everything so much special for birthday kids! I love being able to make things *that* much more special, at least to them. He then opened his presents from us, with the big one being a keyboard (he also got books, walkie talkies, and a new Nerf gun)! He was THRILLED, and the kids are really getting a lot of use out of it!

In case you didn’t know, Jackson is REALLY into volcanoes. What he wants to be when he grows up usually includes a variation of a ‘ninja chef’, meteorologist, or vulcanologist. Every Wednesday he goes to a class with other 5+ aged kids for 3 hours while I’m in attending a Bible study. He wanted volcano cakes to take to his class, and this is what I came up with! Basically, they were mini bundt cakes (I found the pan at Target), topped with chocolate ganache, and then drizzled with red sparkle frosting. I think they turned out great! Sadly, London fell ill (AGAIN) so we couldn’t go, but I popped them in the freezer, so hopefully they will be okay to take this week. Jackson LOVED them!

Since his birthday fell on a Tuesday, we waited until Saturday to go out to dinner. He, of course, chose Joe’s Farm Grill. Nana and Jerry met us there to celebrate with us, and we all had a great time! Next door to Joe’s is their coffee shop, where they have the most amazing cupcakes (they’ve been featured on the Food Network show ‘Cupcake Wars’), so Jackson and I walked over and picked out his birthday cupcakes. They, of course, devoured them. It may have been a world record for fastest cupcake consumption ever.

There were lots of other families and kids there, and the children all started a huge game of Duck, Duck, Goose which, of course, my children can’t resist! I didn’t post any of the photos because other children were in them, but they had a blast! I love the picture of Brooklyn above…it looks like she is about to take off, lol! Ready, set, go! We all had such a good time!

My handsome Jackson,

I remember the moment you were placed in my arms for the very first time. I was head over heels in love with you from that very first moment, and I would have never believed what you would be at six. You are truly so much more than your number; in fact, you are much more mature than that. Despite your smarts (have I mentioned how smart you are?), you are oddly quirky in a hysterical way. Today, you were in the playroom, and threw something down, making a huge crash. “Daddy, did you hear that Big Bang? Get it? Big Bang. It’s an astrophysical joke!”. My gosh, what six year old says that?! And you cracked yourself up over it!
You absolutely adore your sisters, and they couldn’t ask for a better big brother! You are quick to help, nurture, teach, and care for them. At the same time, you are quick to be like any other brother, getting frustrated and angry when they don’t do your will. What sets you apart is your ability to control your emotions and temper (most times), and you never lash out at them. Ever. When Brooklyn and London are doing their breathing treatments, you make sure that their favorite shows are on the TV, and you will stand by them, making sure they don’t need anything.
With age, comes responsibility. You now do chores around the house, including clearing off the table, wiping it down, and sweeping. Do you know how happy this makes me? You do it with such a cheerful heart, and I adore you for it. You pick out your own clothes, dress yourself, and put away your own laundry. Can you believe it? At some point this past year, you grew up.
Jackson, we are incredibly blessed to be your parents. We thank God for you everyday, and are constantly seeking wisdom and guidance when it comes to leading you to become what you will be. It is an honor and blessing to know you, to love you, and to lead you. We love you so much!!!

Love,
Mommy

First Popsicle

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It was a hit!

Our Days.

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I really can’t believe that its March. I run on an all-year school schedule, so it will be awhile before we are finished with 2nd grade (He is on Week 22 of 36), but still. I’m starting to prepare for London to start a preschool program (at home, of course) and gathering everything I will need to order for Jackson’s 3rd grade year. I’m in full planning mode at the moment, and I’d say that its fair to say that I’ve spent at least 2 hours every night researching and planning stuff for next fall. Next week I’m going to South Carolina for a homeschool convention that I’m so excited for!  I’m determined to have everything printed and laminated and organized before our next year starts in September. Add a possible move this summer into the mix, and I’m a wee bit stressed out.

I thought I’d do a little post on what our days are looking like, currently. After everyone wakes up and has breakfast, we start school around 9 am. London and Brooklyn are usually just playing or coloring, which isn’t working out to well, hence my need to plan better for next year. I’m going to move to a workbox system where each child has 6-10 boxes that they work through over the course of the day. I’m VERY excited about that!  We do Language Arts in the morning (Reading, Grammar, Writing) and History. Then we break for lunch and naps.

After Jackson’s rest time (from 12:30-2), we do Math, Logic/Critical Thinking, and Science. I purposely wait until the afternoon because the house is quiet. The girls are napping and Jackson can focus, plus I can give him one-on-one attention without distractions if he needs help. This usually takes us about 1-1.5 hours, and then he is done for the day.

After the girls wake up, its free time. They read, watch cartoons and have a snack, play in the playroom, or play outside. I LOVE this picture of Brooklyn. She set her doll up, wrapped her in a blanket, and then sat down to read her stories. How precious is that?

We just got these chairs for the schoolroom. London decided that they needed to be their “have a snack and watch cartoons” chairs. Clever gal. We finish up the day with dinner, baths, and lots and lots and lots and lots of books. I’m usually hoarse by the time they go to bed. I gather a stack of books, some that each child will like, and read and read and read and read. After the girls go to bed, I  read the more difficult chapter books that I know the girls wouldn’t sit through to him. Then we read his “fun” book, which is currently a Choose Your Own Adventure book about Ancient Greece. He can play a few games on the iPad, then he is off to bed by 7:30-7:45. Phew! I’m tired just typing it out. 🙂

And here is a cute picture because I just couldn’t resist…

Such a tender little lamb, that one. 🙂

Sick, Sick, Sick

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The flu.

I’ve been blessed up to this point when it comes to that icky virus being in my  house. We’ve never had it. Sure, we’ve had some nasty stuff, but never the real life, they-make-you-put-a-mask-on-your-child-and-walk-you-out-the-back-door-of-the-clinic kind of flu.

Apparently, it hasn’t really hit AZ yet. In fact, London is our pediatrician’s office first confirmed case this year.

Where is my prize? I don’t think I should have to pay my co-pay as a reward.

That day, I caught Brooklyn drinking out of London’s cup several times.

The next day, Brooklyn woke up with the flu. Surprise, surprise.

Daddy’s chair has been the place to be. The girls rotate sitting in it. It’s closest to the TV, which has had a steady stream of Bubble Guppies, Max and Ruby, and Peppa Pig on.

Sometimes they share.

We are on Day 4 for London, Day 2 for Brooklyn.

No end in sight for either of them.

Hopefully the rest of us are spared. I don’t have much hope for myself since I’m Mom and therefore all up in their business, but we’ve done a good job keeping Jackson away.

Keep my little loves in your thoughts and prayers.

B-bear.

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It’s pictures like this that make me want to go wake her up, right now, and squeeze her. She is just edible, really.

DIY: Wood Floor Drop (for photography)

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I’m lucky enough to have EXCELLENT lighting in my house. Like, crazy good lighting. Most of the time it annoys me, actually…no one should have to wear sunglasses in their own home. 😉 But when I want to take photos, it is pretty much perfect.
There is a spot in my front room (which is the playroom/schoolroom) that I love to take photos by. There are two huge windows right behind me and then another big window to the left, so plenty of light streams through. The wall is blank with a very neutral tone (which I rarely use…I almost always use fabric as a sort of backdrop) and I usually have pretty good luck in this spot. The only thing that has been a thorn in my side is the tile floor.

It is currently trendy to have wood floors in studio photography. I can see why; they are seamless, have no wrinkles, and just look nice! Was I going to rip out my tile and lay down wood flooring? Yeah right. If I’m gonna spend $2k for photography, its going to be on lenses, not flooring. You can buy wood floor drops, but those can run anywhere from $100-$150 dollars, before shipping. And I’m not a professional! I just like to take decent pictures! So, I got the bright idea to make my own!

If I wood (ha ha ha!) have known how easy this was, I would have done it a LONG time ago! Total project cost was around $32 dollars, and it took about 30 minutes to put together.

Supplies you will need:
Laminate tile squares with adhesive backing in your choice of finish. I found these at Home Depot in the flooring department. They were .88 a square and I used 20. You could use more or less depending on the size you want.

Foam board ( I used 6 from Walmart) OR a piece of plywood/PDF cut to size. Either will work, its just a surface to attach the tiles to.

Once you have all your supplies, just adhere your tiles to your choice of base! Could this be any easier?!?!? When I finished, I flipped it over and used packing tape on the seams of the foam board to add some extra support, but if you use a seamless piece of wood, you won’t have that issue.

So much better than the tile!!! I can’t wait to put it to good use!

Mommy Soapbox: Booster Seats

Look at her fancy new ride! 🙂

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the new recommendations for children to remain rear facing until the age of 2. So, I figured I might as well step up and talk about boosters seats, since that is also a major issue for children in car safety.

First, let me say this: Just because a booster seat says that you can put your child in it at 30 pounds does not mean that you SHOULD. Big difference. There are lots of “readiness” requirements that your child should meet before you move from a five point harness (pictured with London above) to just using the seatbelt in a high back booster.

1. It is recommended that your child be at least 4 years old before they move to a high back booster using the seatbelt instead of a five point harness, and at least 40 pounds (NOT 30).

2. You child should stay in a harnessed car seat if, when falling asleep, they lean forward against the belt or slip to the side. Basically, if your child slips out of proper position at all while sleeping (meaning that the seat belt isn’t coming across his/her chest properly), then they need to be 5 point harnessed. Jackson just recently has been able to sleep while maintaining proper position, and he is almost 6. I mean, this just makes sense. If your child has slipped out of their seat belt and you get in an accident, that seat belt won’t work. While it may still restrain them from flying out windows, it may cause serious internal damage from the force of the belt against a sensitive area, such as the neck or abdomen.

To put it simply, you should not put your child in an unharnessed booster seat until they have outgrown the harness system in their current car seat, which is when the top of their shoulders are past the top level of the harness straps. Until then, they should remain in a 5 point harness, regardless of age or weight.

For those of you who claim that your child is too big for a harness system, check out this great option: The Graco Argos. It harnesses children up to 70 pounds. This one seat will take you all the way through; it harnesses until your child has outgrown the harness, then it transitions to a high back booster, then it transitions to a normal booster. It can hold your child until they are 120 pounds and until they reach the height requirement to ride boosterless, which is 4 ft 9 inches.

One more thing to check next time you harness your child: notice where the chest clip is on London. On her chest. Right where it is supposed to be. Make sure that the chest clip is on their chest, not their abdomen. The force of that clip on their bellies in an accident can cause serious internal injuries on a young child, so make sure it is correctly place on their body.

London loves her new seat!!! It is super comfortable, and was insanely easy to install.

Let’s just remember this: these recommendations aren’t meant to make our lives harder. They aren’t meant to tell you how to parent your children, to step on your toes, to delay “milestones”, nor create “mommy wars”. They are meant to protect our children in a time when we cannot: a car accident.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, ‘motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children from ages 1 to 14.  About 50% of these deaths to children under 5 involved children that were unrestrained.  Of those that were restrained, misuse is reported in 80-95% of cases.  Injuries requiring hospitalization are even more common, and many involve the head, neck, and spine.  Some of these injuries are permanent.’

Here are some links to check out on your own:
http://www.nhtsa.gov/ChildSafety/step3

http://www.car-safety.org/faq.html#Q7

http://www.babycenter.com/404_when-should-my-child-switch-from-a-car-seat-to-a-booster-sea_1384636.bc