Saturday, May 30, 2009

Trip to the Zoo

We went to the zoo today. It starts getting too hot to enjoy the zoo pretty soon and I wanted to make one more trip before it cools off again in the Fall. I have always enjoyed our zoo. It's always been one of my favorite places in SC. I have really grown to appreciate it more this year though. Joe and I attended ZooVenture Education classes regularly this past school year at Riverbanks and this really opened my eyes to all that goes into helping our zoo stay so up to date in so many different ways. The zoo keepers do alot for the animals and really care about them, they seem to enjoy their jobs. During these classes we were also able to "go behind the scenes" from time to time and learn even more about the animals and how they are cared for and "enriched" at the zoo. I'm pretty sure I learned more in ZooVenture classes than Joe did.

We had a great time today. The animals were really active. The weather was perfect, and we all really enjoyed ourselves and our time together.

Joe was really into posing for the camera today (rare). He was asking to be photographed:-) and making some interesting faces too.


Hanna was her usual easy to photograph, ready to pose self. She's been this way since day one, always ready for a picture:-).


I managed to get a picure of Jack. He is so busy these days it takes quite a few shots to get a good one of him. It's worth it though:-)!


Jamie also took one of me and the kids that turned out ok.


Tomorrow is Joe's "big" family birthday party. His Aunt Teresa made an awesome Backyardigans cake. (Joe loves the Backyardigans right now.) Look for pictures from our little party soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hanna's Last Day at Brockman

Today was Hanna's last day at Brockman. She is officially a "homeschooler" now:-). I'll have to say, it was really weird leaving school today and realizing we weren't coming back. This wasn't just the end of the school year and we'd be back after summer vacation--we aren't going back. It wasn't sad for me (I'd wondered if it would be a little), but it was just a strange feeling. I'd been asking Hanna often the last few weeks if she was going to be sad to leave school for good, not just for the summer. She kept assuring me that wouldn't be the case. I just knew she'd feel a little differently today after we left. I asked her this afternoon if she was starting to feel sad as the reality set in and she said, "Mom, no, you don't have to ask me that anymore. I'm not sad. This school year was like being in a cage." Well, there you go. As I've said often the past nine months, this hasn't been a good year at school for Hanna. Teacher wise or kid wise--honestly the worst we've ever had. I hope our experiences this year will help both of us to appreciate homeschool more and not take it for granted during the hard, challenging times that I know will come. I pray and have prayed since the first of the year when I decided we would be homeschooling a year earlier than planned (and Joe wouldn't even be going to school at all) that Heavenly Father will bless our family with health and strength and guidance along the way homeschooling so that it benefits us all. I especially pray that the duration of this pregnancy and postpartum recovery will be completely healthy for myself and Jesse so that we can stay on our projected path. I am determined and I know this is right for our family. I am so thankful for the support of Jamie and Hanna, and Joe's positive attitude as I teach him each day during our "school time".

Despite the difficulties this year at Brockman, overall this has been a really good school environment for Hanna. I couldn't have had her at a better public school. She has been sheltered there from so many evils in the world and hasn't been exposed to alot of what she could have been elsewhere. Never any (and I mean NO) discipline problems (believe me, I have been so overly involved, I would know!!), and she learned above and beyond what she could have in most other schools. Brockman was a blessing to our family, an answer to prayers. The way her mind has been trained by the Montessori teaching methods she's had will serve her well in the future.

I have always taken a picture of Hanna with her teachers the last day of school for her remembrance book, here are the ones I got today before we left school. I am so proud of Hanna for having such a "thick skin" this year and growing in ways I never thought she would! I love you, Hanna, and thank Heavenly Father each and every day for blessing me with you!

Hanna with her Teacher, Ms. Kalagher.


Here is Hanna with her teacher assistant, Mrs. Jefferson.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Field Day With Hanna

Today Hanna's school had field day. Our family went and hung out during the "events". It was really lots of fun. It was fun watching Hanna participate in the different relays and races and see the look of excitement on her face. Jack and Joe had fun too running around, and Joe especially enjoyed watching Hanna and the other kids participating in all the games. I don't know how other schools do competitive events because Hanna has always been Montessori, but Montessori doesn't do anything competitively--so there were no "winners" or "placing" in these events, just plain fun! I LOVE that!!

Here are a few pictures of Hanna participating in the sack race, water balloon relay and three-legged race.

We got a family picture too, it isn't the best. Jack is trying to drink from his cup, Joe is looking off in a different direction and Hanna's eyes are half-closed:-), but who cares!! We were all there together and we had fun and got it on camera, that's what matters, right?!

I also got a sweet picture of Jamie holding Jack. Jack was hot and all tuckered out by the time it was all said and done. We ended up holding him the last little bit and I couldn't pass up this photo opportunity. (There are some good pics of the kids on my hobbies blog too from today).

We had a fun time today. I'm glad we could all go together, glad Jamie could take the time away from work and join us! It was fun watching Hanna.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Fourth Birthday, Joe!

Wow! Joe is four. I can hardly believe Joe has been here as part of our family for four whole years! Each one has flown and has been such a joy. Joe was such a laid back, calm baby. But don't let that fool you:-)....he has evolved into a sweet little boy with a personality full of humor, curiousity and all rough and tumble 100% boy! Joe is definitely a "mama's boy" and I won't hide it, it makes me smile to know he loves me so much. He is such a handsome little boy and we all enjoyed celebrating his birthday today.

I made a cake for him last night with help from Jamie. This was the first cake I not only made, but also decorated. It was time consuming but lots of fun to put together! (Looking forward to making one for Hanna in September.) I made the same strawberry cake that I made for Jamie's bday in February (see "recipes" in sidebar) and frosted it with homemade buttercream frosting (Wilton's recipe). He really liked his cake. It is an "anaconda" and Diego has rescued it on one of his missions:-).

After lunch today we had birthday cake and Joe opened his presents. Jamie and I gave him a Leapster 2 and a couple of games for it. Joe always wants to play Hanna's DS but he's just too young, so we thought he'd enjoy an age appropriate compact game system for himself. Plus, it has both fun and educational games:-). Hanna and Jack gave him some Play Doh and a Play Doh set he'd been looking at for a while when we're out and about. He enjoyed learning how to play his Leapster this afternoon and he and Hanna had fun with his Play Doh set too.

We'd asked Joe if he'd wanted to go anywhere at all today for fun. Whether it be somewhere for a day trip or just somewhere close by for fun since it was "his" day. Bless his heart, all he wanted to do was go to his favorite park (that we go to nearly every day lately) and play with Hanna. So after cake and ice cream we went to the park. There were some other children there too and both he and Hanna had lots of fun playing tag with these kids.

After the park my parents dropped in and brought Joe his birthday gift and spent some time with him. After they left it was time for dinner. We went out to eat, Joe's choice, and then came home had a little family time, and Joe was pretty tuckered out. We enjoyed Joe's day. He is such a blessing and brings such a sweet spirit and so much happiness and life to our family every day. Each of our children is so very different and each one makes our family who we are. I love them all so much and thank Heavenly Father for blessing our family with each one of them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Room Redo Begins--Beware Scary Pics!!

For those of you who don't know this already our home was/is a "fixer-upper". We have lived here now for almost 6 years. Now, I know what you are thinking, "they should have everything done by now". Well, we don't:-). When you throw in adding two more to our family and soon three, family vacations--yes, we often choose to take these instead of spending the time/money on our home renovations, and everyday life, we still haven't completed many of our projects. My personal opinion is our home renovations will still be here, but the time spent with our children as a family on vacations and such cannot be gotten back. So, as we have added children or the need arises we have slowly been knocking things off of our list. Some of the rooms in our home looked as if they hadn't been touched in at least 20 years, and this is no exaggeration! We still have two of these rooms left. One bedroom and one bathroom. I had really hoped to complete the bathroom before Jesse arrived and not the bedroom. We'd decided Jack and Joe would share a room and Jesse would get Joe's old room, making it possible to finally fix up this disgusting bathroom instead of a bedroom this time. However, Joe had other plans in mind and made these more and more evident over the last few months. Jamie and I slowly realized he was not going to happily share a room and to make things much easier on us we gave up our (OK, my) dream of redoing the bathroom:-(. So, Princess Hanna will get the pleasure of getting to move into a brand new bedroom this summer and Jesse will get her old room. She is VERY excited about decorating her "new" room and moving into it.

When Jamie redid Jack's bedroom I didn't even think to take before and after pictures. I won't make this mistake twice. Here are some pictures of Hanna's "new" room right now. Beware--they are scary!! This room was used as a storage room up until now. Jamie has almost gotten it cleared out and he will start gutting it this weekend. I wanted to get some pictures before he starts tearing stuff out so you can really appreciate it's true beauty:-). Jack's room was just as disgusting as this one before he redid it. Since I don't have any before's of Jack's room I am still posting some after's just so you believe that we really don't live in "scary" home:-). Enjoy, and look for more as Jamie (and I give ALL the credit to him) progresses. This will be a slow project. This room has to be completely gutted, reinsulated and so forth!! This is interesting--the walls in this room are not one piece paneling, they are individual boards that have to be taken off one by one. We will be replacing the walls with sheetrock.

Hanna's "new" room "before" shots:

hanna's "new" room before
hanna's room before pic1

Jack's room "after" shots:

jack's room after1
jack's room after2
jack's room after3

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Birthday

Today is my birthday. I told Jamie a few weeks ago all I wanted this year was to spend the day together in Charleston. So, today we went to Charleston and visited Magnolia Plantation and then ended up downtown at the aquarium. We'd never been to Magnolia before, but this is somewhere I'd wanted to go for several years. It is beautiful. However, I'll be completely honest, after touring many of the homes in historic downtown Charleston, and seeing favorites like Two Meeting Street Inn and especially knowing how breathtaking Biltmore in Asheville is--the Magnolia Plantation home is not as amazing as I'd pictured it to be. Not as I'd expected, it is charming and historic, I'll give it that:-). The kids had a good time in the petting zoo. We all enjoyed that. The animals just walk right up to you, they aren't the least bit timid. We spent over an hour just in the little petting zoo area.

Outside of the petting zoo was a corral with donkeys, horses and a variety of other farm animals. There was also a fair amount of peacocks around this area. They were really pretty. The kids all loved looking at these peacocks. Joe found a really big peacock feather on the ground and brought it home to add to his "treasures". I love this age--I still have so many "treasures" in a special box that Hanna collected at this age. She still adds to it from time to time.

After we finished up with all the animals we walked around the grounds and just looked around in the gardens and a bit of area surrounding them.

Now, to tell the truth, at this point the kids were getting pretty bored with Magnolia. It wasn't exactly as we'd thought it would be--there were other things to do and we'd paid for and planned on doing them--a tram ride, touring the slave cabins and touring the main house but....when you arrive and pay for these things you are given a time for each and guided through them by a "tour guide". We aren't fond of doing things with a guide. This never works well with little ones (not for us anyway). It seemed like it was going to end up being like you were stuck in a classroom at the mercy of a teacher waiting for the bell to ring:-). Hanna, Jamie and myself did want to tour the cabins and house but we all decided we'd rather head downtown to the aquarium instead. So, I got us a refund for what we hadn't done and we left.

We all had a great time at the aquarium. The kids had so much fun, each one of them. Every time we go to this aquarium we like it more and more. This was our best time here thus far! I'm so glad we detoured and went here today.

Next, it was almost 6pm so we headed to Magnolia's for dinner. We all enjoyed our food at Magnolia's. Even Joe, this is saying alot:-)! Out of all the times we've eaten here tonight was by far the best other than the very first time we discovered this delicious restaurant!! I didn't want a birthday cake. I'm not a "cake" person. So, Jamie surprised me with what I like most--a big box of Godiva chocolates:-). I'm saving it for the premiere of "The Bachelorette" Monday night:-). And, of course, we all got some pralines from River Street Sweets after dinner.

Jack was so tired. He immediately passed out in the car on the way home. Most of you know that Jack is NOT fond of car rides. Never has been from day one. We thought he'd be over it by now, but most rides in our van are pretty noisy, complete with very loud shrieks, screams, yelling and crying. Sometimes for up to an hour:-). Not the case on the way home. He drank his bottle, snuggled up with his lovie and was out!!

I had a great birthday. It couldn't have been any better. I spent it with my precious family and we all had such a good time together today. I am so thankful for each of them and I just love them so much. I am literally reminded each day by such subtle things how precious each one of them is to me, how much love and happiness they uniquely and individually bring into my life and how very blessed I am to be their mother and Jamie's wife and best friend. I could not ask for any more.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Sleepy Prince and Mr. Fix-It

Each night before I finally go to bed and anytime I wake up in the night I usually make the rounds in each of the kids rooms checking on them, and honestly just looking at how peaceful and angelic they look while they are sleeping. If I'm lucky Jack will wake up and I get to hold him and rock him for just a minute before putting him back in his crib. I don't get much one-on-one time with him and I treasure these a.m. times with him. Silly as this sounds, I like to listen to their breathing--Hanna's has sounded the same to me since she was a baby--and I like to smell their sweet skin and hair, give them a kiss and then I go back to bed. Well, last night I was making my rounds and I couldn't help but think how sweet Joe looked all laid out, peacefully sleeping and snuggling his best friend, Ted.

This morning after I'd gotten back from exercising I came into where Jamie and the boys were like always and this is how I found Jack. Very cute! My little Mr. Fix-It was at the "tool bench" fixing some stuff:-)!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hanna's Gift

I wanted to take a moment tonight to post about Hanna's Mother's Day gift she gave me this morning. Jamie said she could hardly wait for me to come downstairs to give me my gift, said she was so excited. She made me a card and hand-painted a flower pot at school this past week. She also made the little stake in the plant pot herself at home sometimes without me knowing. She was so proud of the "Roman lettering" (as she called it) on the plant stake. She said they learned how to write like this in art class this week.

Throughout the day I thought off and on about how she so lovingly made this for me at school and home throughout the week. I could just see her at school taking her time to make sure the pot looked just as she wanted it, and then at home writing the "Roman letters" carefully and putting all the little details around the word. I thought about how excited she felt waiting to give it to me and how proud she must have felt too. I made sure to thank her over and over all day and tell her how much her love and efforts meant to me. I also told her how much I appreciate her and love being her mom. How helpful she is and how important she is as a member of our family.

Being a mom is the best part of my life. My children and Jamie are my whole world. I will never be able to thank my Heavenly Father enough for blessing my life with Jamie, Hanna, Joe, Jack and Jesse. These words cannot express the love and gratitude I have for my family!

Happy Mother's Day! It is truly life's greatest blessing and joy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Catching Up

I am finally getting around to finishing up my last March scrapbook page.

I am starting on my April pages now since the month is over. I started with this one of the kids' Easter pics. I love these pictures. I love seeing the kids all dressed up with such happy smiles on their faces. These are some of the best pictures I have of all three of my kids together. I love this page and I love my kids!

Congaree National Swamp

We went to the Congaree Swamp this weekend. We walked the boardwalk trail and enjoyed looking at all the nature that surrounded us. The kids pointed out lots of interesting things they saw and heard along the way. We haven't been to this park in several years and Jamie and I had forgotten what a nice place this is to go for a family outing. We will definitely have to remember to take advantage of this park in our "nice" weather times of the year. We all had a good time.

We enjoyed all that we did together this weekend. This weekend was a reminder for me of how much I love my family and how thankful I am for each of them. I have had so many personal disappointments lately with others outside of my family and this weekend helped once again to remind me of what is most important--my family and our eternal salvation--nothing else truly matters. Knowing that they are my best friends and that we have complete happiness and love within the walls of our home is more than I could ask for. I am thankful for their unconditional love and all the pure joy they bring into my life each day. I was also reminded of how thankful I am for Jamie who does so much for us physically and emotionally and does it all sincerely and with such love and patience. I have so many blessings and am thankful for each of them!