Friday, August 30, 2013

Vacation Part 2 - Days in the Sand!

So a beach vacation wouldn't be a beach vacation without spending lots of time at the beach and in the water.  We actually did this less than intended because of the weather.  It was rainy and cloudy and we were "chased" inside by lightning at least once.  None the less, we got plenty of sand/water time and no one got sunburnt.  Win/win!  (warning LOTS OF PICTURES!!!!!)

Forget sand castles....the boys made a batman symbol!

we're just letting the waves wash over us.....

The King as a mermaid (merman!)  

Out catching some waves

it is not lens had just fogged up. 

feeding the seagulls (we later saw a sign that said "please do not feed the birds"  Oops!)

An actual real sand castle.  

Another sand castle

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vacation Part 1

I've been trying to post this for a week but blogger and I have not been getting along well.  I think I got it fixed now though.  YAY!

So last friday evening we left for a week in Gulf Shores, AL.  We drove part way and stayed with friends in Clarksville, TN.  That was an awesome start to the week away!  When we left for the beach on Saturday morning (after an amazing breakfast made by my friend Amanda), it was so cloudy and it stayed that way till monday afternoon.  Yet we still had a great time!

Before I get to some pictures of the first day or two....I wanna tell a story that brought tears to my eyes and made me so happy.  For anyone who has driven long distances with 4 kids (or any number of kids) in the vehicle, you know that stops are a necessity.  I will say my kids were SO FABULOUS and the only stops we really had to make were for bathroom breaks.  At one such stop at a gas station somewhere, we had all gone to the bathroom and the King had gotten gas (for the van) and we were ready to head out of the gas station.  A woman walked up to me with $5 in her hand and said "can you do me a favor?"  I just looked at her blankly.  She smiled and said "Your boys were waiting outside the restroom in such a gentlemanly way.  I was hoping you'd buy them all a treat for me."  It was unbelievable.  And it made me day.  I am tearing up typing it out right now.  And I did then too.  She smiled and said "You guys are doing something right.  Even when it feels like everything is going wrong, you are doing a good job."  I said thank you over and over and over again, looked at the kids, and said "pick out some candy guys!"  Now for some pictures of the first few days.

Finally getting settled after a long day in the car.  This is the room where the 2 middle boys slept.  And we learned that they will NEVER ever ever have a tv in their room.  Ever.

If I ever were going to build a house, I would have a breakfast bar like this one.  We ate 2 meals a day in the condo and this is what it looked like each time.  (Well, the princess wasn't always pouting).  Only once or twice did the boys slide their glass over to me (Western movie style) and almost slide it right off the counter.  I don't have those bartending skills apparently!

The "balcony" at the end of the outdoor hallway in the condos we stayed at.  Our private balcony overlooked a parking lot which they incidentally ran a sump pump in ALL night long because it was raining SO hard!  :) 

Finally got to put our feet in the water late on Sunday....

The little building in the center is the condo where we stayed.  This picture was taken later in the week as can be seen by the blue skies.  :)
More pictures will be coming.  I just don't want to add too many at once to the blog.  My internet might totally go bat crap crazy if I do.  :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Toddler Learning!

There are different schools of thought on teaching young ones.  But I have a toddler (2.5 yo) that will be a part of our homeschool days when we start in September.  She lives here and we do school here.  That means we have to have a way that she is not a continual distraction with her cuteness and antics.  Enter tot trays and busy bags.  I've been a fan of tot trays for years (and actually modify them for use with my older kids too) but I've never really looked at busy bags.  They are essentially the same theory followed thru in different ways.

Tot trays are trays (it's not just a clever name) of things that address a certain skill.  I make up several each week and then the child gets to choose which ones to work on.  She might get to scoop and pour from a conatiner of beans, or match bolts to matching nuts and screw them on, or cut up a bunch of scraps of paper.  The supplies are all "organized" in a closet but I build the trays themselves weekly (or every other week).  Here is a blog that fabulously displays what tot trays can be...the possibilities are ENDLESS!  I got all my starting ideas from her and go back for inspiration from time to time.

In my mind, busy bags are different in that the activity is completely put together...with all required supplies and ready to roll.  They are stored in gallon sized zipper bags and you just pull one and go.  I am currently obsessed with busy bags and my pinterest board is getting filled with ideas...again, possibilities are endless!

Recently, our homeschool group had a busy bag swap.  We signed up and each made enough of the same busy bag to share with everyone there (9 plus one cool mom made two so we'd all have 10 bags to take home including our own).  We gave an example of how our busy bag works and what the targeted skills were (most were pretty cut and dry since they are for 2-4 year olds-HA!).  It was GREAT!  And I can't wait for the next one.

So one of the moms already posted a great run down of the busy bags we each got (and somehow I missed picking one of them up) but we've had a great time with them already.  There were things the Princess did that surprised me too....She correctly sorted colors (did not expect that)....she liked the jingle bells in that one and after she sorted she shook the egg carton and let the jingle bells do their thing.  :)

doing the color sort busy  bag.  She thinks its awesome fun and loves the jingle bells in there.

practicing putting clothes on a clothesline.  She has trouble with the clothespin....I think I need to put stickers where she needs to pinch.  (yes she is wearing shorts and a cape!  She also runs thru the house with her hands in the air yelling "up way")

Funny faces busy bag.  She just takes things off and puts them on this one....
Not a busy bag but she was SO proud of her art on the fridge.
She has changed and grown so much in the last 9 months or so.  
Can't wait to get out the rest of them....make more....and have another swap!

One "bonus" photo/idea.  I was trying to decide how to store these bags so they aren't sliding all over and are easy to get to and I know what I've got.  I have a small home and 4 kids and we do school at the kitchen table.  There is a small closet there that we use for arts/crafts supplies....and it is full.  BUT I had an old tension rod lying around and a facebook friend shared with me her kids sized pants hangers and....
Voila!  Busy bag storage!  YAY!

Friday, August 9, 2013

We're SO corny!

July is corn on the cob season here....and we LOVE it.  Seriously. we. love. it.  Corn on the cob and a BLT with tomato from the garden and Bacon from the butcher (and not Walmart) and bread from the oven.makes us happy.  I don't think we had BLT's with this corn but I am not sure.  Regardless, love!