Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yes!!!

D just finished speech therapy.  I've spent so much time and money on that- he could be a black belt by now.  I'm just so glad he's done and we finally found a good speech therapist!  She is now seeing Evan and Leia.  I think things are progressing since Leia (who is close to 4) doesn't call Sam 'ass' anymore.  Now she just calls him 'Aaah'.  She says almost everything backwards, cuts out sounds, replaces sounds with other sounds.  It's a mess.  And it's still so much better than when she started, poor girl.

On their last day together, our therapist, Rose, tried to teach Dallas to sound casual.  Like butter- we all say budder, but he pronounces the t's.

An aid at the school and a parent asked me one day where we were from.  I was so confused.  California?  When I asked what they meant they said they loved Dallas's accent!  They thought Dallas was from England!!  His teacher thought the same thing. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

You know you live in New Mexico when...

I made a bunch of breakfast burritos for the end of the season soccer party.  Pat was coaching so it was for his team of boys and their families.  I learned how to make Carne Adovada which is like pulled pork in really spicy red chili sauce.  It is delicious- a New Mexican favorite!  So I made a pan of breakfast burritos- some with carne adovada, and some without- thinking it'd be too spicy for the kids.  I mean this stuff had Pat gulping water!

I guess I should have realized New Mexicans can take it.  Within one minute, the carne adovada burritos were gone.  The kids would ask me, "Did I get one with carne?", and I would look at the markings on the foil and say, "Yes, so you might want to try the other kind- those are really spicy!", and they'd say, "I like spicy!", and they were eaten up!  I should have known better.  My kids were eating them too!  Eventually it all got eaten, but a bunch of sad people had to make due with plain hashbrown, egg, and cheese burritos.  (The game was early in the morning, hence the breakfast burritos.)

Anyway it was a great soccer season- Pat's team did terrific, and it was a fun team.  I love those!  Dallas's team did okay...

Now the random stuff:

Halloween men!  Sharon gave us these for no reason at all- I thought they were so cute!
We told Sam to take notes during conference...

A beautiful morning.  Pretty much every morning is a beautiful one here in New Mexico!   

Everyday attire.  It's either this or the cheerleader costume that she thinks is another princess dress.

She drew a picture of me and daddy.  Guess which one of us has pokey whiskers.

I was excited to get this paper from the school of their holiday program.  Neat songs that actually mention the true meaning of Christmas.

I was in a meeting, and flipped my planner to November to schedule something.  Unfortunately, my November was full.  Leia got there first.

Guess which boy's history test this is?  This same boy has a new test and has just as long a study sheet for that one including to know the original 13 colonies.  I really love this school.
Can you tell someone's getting teeth?  Two on bottom, and two on top!
He just learned to stand himself up and sits down and stands up again over and over again.

He is super cute!  Everyone loves Charlie! 

All the boys had a friend over after school and we roasted marshmallows and made smores in the front yard.

Last week at church, Charles did this face non-stop for practically the whole three hours.  Everyone who saw him was taken aback at first and then when the face wouldn't stop, died laughing. 

We could not stop laughing.  It just felt fun to him, so he didn't want to stop!

I told her to clean the living room, and then she could watch a movie.  Best job she's ever done- even if it is all thrown behind the couch. 

The cheerleader outfit.

Sam's self portrait.  I'm sure glad I made him play piano for the primary program.  He and D did great!  He played I am a Child of God, and there were four verses, and the kids were singing two parts so it wasn't easy for a first time song- but he did it, no problem.  No messing up under pressure.  In fact, he shot me a look after each verse that said, "Didya see that mom?".  I wonder about this kid- he's sure neat.

D- hanging out in the pantry munching on whatever he can find.  I spend about a little less than $150 a week for groceries for our current family of 7.  I think that number is going to triple as these boys grow.

Charlie is practically crawling- but only backwards.  There he disappears under the bed!

*By the way- that test was for Evan- my 2nd grader.  They also did a neat thing recently regarding the Declaration of Independence.  They covered the windows so no light could get in, and no one could see in, and put a towel along the edge of the doors and pretended to be the real signers of the Declaration of Independence since if they were discovered they would have been hanged as traitors.  I love that.  He also has to build a simple machine soon too.  It's all just so neat.  I love visiting his classroom.  Sam's and Dallas's too. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Song Lyrics

I am pretty terrible with music.  I can't ever hit the right notes except on rare occasions or with lots and lots and lots of practice.  I get the lyrics wrong to most songs I try to sing, Karisa always makes fun of me.  Always.  In the last couple of weeks though we had a couple chances when the tables were turned and they were funny enough that I thought I'd share them with the world (or the 2 readers we have, same thing).

The first mistake (which was actually the second but less funny so I'm sharing it first, but I digress) happened when we were listening to R.E.M a week ago or so.  When I say listening to R.E.M I mean we were listening to all their music.  It was my Friday off and that was our playlist for the day.  After we were finished Karisa started singing "If bushes were trees, the trees would be falling."  I looked at her and said "Weird, I always sang it 'If wishes were trees'- but I like your way better."  She looked it up and I was right, which was funny in itself.



The funnier time was about a month ago.  We were doing our evening chores and  put on a list of songs.  Karisa said it was time to turn the music off and I said wait, we need to finish the evening with an anti-war song, just for fun:


The song came on and Karisa looked at me puzzled and asked "This is an anti-war song?"  I threw back my head and laughed because she had to be joking.  When I looked at her again she was staring at ME like I was crazy and I threw back my head and laughed even louder because....well, because she was absolutely serious.  After a while when I could talk I said in a clear voice "War!  Huh...what is it good for?"  She looked puzzled and said "Weird, I always thought it was a cheer or exclamation.  Wuuuh, Huh!"  So then I teased her the rest of the night and we still laugh about it at odd moments.

In her defense that is how Jackie pronounces it which is probably where she heard it most:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First snow!

I sometimes update my posts later.  This is one of those times.  Just wanted to remember that today we woke up to about 2 inches of snow for the first snow of the season!  So early!!!

Daisy ran around yelling, "My mittens!  My mittens!", because there are several items of clothing, like the mittens, that we've been telling her she has to wait to wear until it snows.  Yea snow!!!

All the boys wanted to know was, "Can we stay home from school?"




I was volunteering again last week in Evan's class and I finished just as his teacher was taking the entire class to the bathrooms.  She yells "Attention!", and they march like the military, and go in by two's to use the bathroom.  When they're done they return to the line.  Silent.  At attention.

I was leaving Evan's class to go into Sam's, but watched them all lined up for the bathroom as I walked down the hallway. Suddenly Sam grabbed my hand!  He had been in the bathroom as well!  He had a bathroom pass around his neck.  He returned to his class and I busied myself looking at artwork in the hallway (and still peeping at Evan's class) while I waited 10 minutes for math to start.  But Sam returned almost immediately to the hallway, and said since he had finished his work, his teacher said he could hang out with me in the hallway!  I thought that was weird, but I was happy.  Then Sam saw Evan- at the front of the military bathroom line.  He waved at Evan- but Evan didn't wave back.

Sam said, "It's so weird that he doesn't even see me".

I replied, "Oh, he see's you.  He's not allowed to wave.  He's not allowed to move!  His teacher is really strict."

Sam said in awe, "Really?!"

Sam's teacher and Evan's teacher are night and day different.  And it's neat that I enjoy and appreciate them both.

More funnies from Evan's teacher:

"Your seat is a priviledge.  Sit on the floor."  (This happened to a couple kids while I observed them making too much noise with their chairs).

As she did a spelling test, I was impressed that, as she used the words in a sentence, the sentences were prepared and planned ahead of time and all having to do with things they were actually learning in science or history.  That is going the extra mile!

They played around the world again with their phonograms, and that was the most impressive thing I've seen so far!  The kids have these things they've memorized that have hand actions to help them remember the different sounds letters make in words.  So the teacher will show a flashcard of a certain sound (a letter with symbols) and then gives the kids a chance to answer with the correct rule.  They have to do the hand gestures and say it perfectly or they are out.  Most of the time they get it right, but once, three kids in a row messed up so she had the whole class say it- and they almost knocked me out of my seat.  It was like they suddenly broke into this perfectly choreographed dance with the words shouted out in perfect time.  It was impressive.  It is the RIGGS program, and it is a great tool for teaching anyone to read and spell really well.  They do the phonograms all the way up to 6th grade, but really only through about 4th grade. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Man of the House

It must be rough getting older.  I wouldn't know.  Pat had a fun birthday with food made by his loving wife at home, and pies made by himself to take into work for his coworkers.  They always bring in food for their own birthday and send out some sort of riddle by email for everyone to figure out their age.  Pat made 2 pumpkin and 2 french silk.  Here's his riddle:

My new age is a semi prime that is not the square of a prime.  You can count to my age in base six using your fingers (with the left hand representing the “sixes” digit and the right hand representing the “ones” digit).   I am old enough to be a US senator.   One of the digits in my age is one of the prime numbers used to form the semi prime that is my age.  I am not 33.

I said, 'there's no way I would ever figure that out', and he said, well you already know how old I am!  (Dork.)

I made garlic fries nachos for dinner.  I was going for a ball park feel since I know SF does some excellent garlic fries, and he said the best nachos he ever had were at a baseball game where it was loaded with toppings.  So I seasoned up some ground beef with onions, chili powder, cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt and pepper, and a pinch oregano.  Once it was all cooked, I added a can of black beans (drained) and let it hang out on low while I made everything else.  We topped our garlic fries with the meat mixture, palta (avocado, evoo, lemon juice), pico de gallo, jalapeƱo cheese sauce (no velveeta here), and sour cream.  It was really good!  I rolled up the leftovers the next day in flour tortillas and put them in a greased baking pan for about 30 minutes and the kids liked that even better.  Yum... burritos with meat, beans, fries, and melty cheese and pico de gallo on the side!

Then half of the family ran out the door to soccer practice and when they got back we had cake.  I made a cheesecake because it's one of Pat's favorites.  I've tried making cheesecake before from famous food network chefs and not been impressed, but this one was as good an anything I've ever eaten anywhere! That includes Cheesecake Factory and Claim Jumper. I'll put the recipe below, but you need a 10" round spring form pan and you have to make it two days ahead of time.  I love all different toppings and flavors for cheesecake, but Pat just loves canned cherry pie filling, so we had plenty of that on the side!



I tried to arrange some special weekend in Santa Fe for us since the last 7 months have been pretty difficult- and before that I was pregnant for 9 months!  I wanted to go to La Fonda.  Not this La Fawnduh!



This one!

But I'm still not well enough, and we talked ourselves out of spending that much money that we don't have!  That was good of me, right?!   But someday man! 

Today he made himself mushroom soup because he loves that, and last night we went out to Red Robin because he loves their burgers and their endless fries.  The kids each gave him gifts: back massages, nice cards, milk and cereal (that he loves to have as a snack at night) and a big scavenger hunt by the Bad Birthday Club, etc.  We love our daddy-O.

I couldn't lose this recipe, so here it is:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cheesecake-Supreme/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=new%20york%20cheesecake&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe

New York Cheesecake (adapted from the above recipe and comments)
Crust:
1 2/3 c. graham crackers, crushed
1/2 c. melted butter
Stir together and press into 10" spring form pan about 1/2 way up the sides. Put in freezer to hang out.

Filling:
5 (8oz) pkg cream cheese softened*
5 eggs
2 egg yolks (or just 1 more egg)
1 2/3 c. white sugar
1/8 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks; mix until smooth. Add the remaining 1 2/3 cups white sugar, the flour and the heavy cream. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan with graham cracker crust.  Filling will go slightly above the top of the pan but it won't spill over!  It's supposed to be tall.

Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 minutes, then turn oven temperature down to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) and continue baking for 3 hours.  Turn oven off and let sit for 2+ hours until it comes to room temperature, then refrigerate 48 hours.  To remove from pan and slice, use a clean, hot, dry knife.  To do that, run it under hot water, and quickly wipe dry, and slice.  Do it again each time.  We don't care about pretty so we didn't do that!

This cheesecake rivals anything you will ever buy in a bakery or a fine restaurant!  It is unbelievably smooth and creamy though it is tall and dense.  I would like to figure out how to put a thin sour cream layer over the very top, but it's not necessary.
*Use Philadelphia or good quality cream cheese.  I tried this with the generic store brand and it tasted completely different!

Beautiful day in the neighborhood

Sometimes I just feel so blessed to live in the land of enchantment.  We've had several deer (8 one day!) in our yard quite often, and the weather is so nice- huge blue skies!  We are full into soccer season right now, like every year this time, and the camera shots we take of the kids are great, but the background views are equally stunning!  This morning was a rare cloudy day, but then cleared up after a couple hours.
These pictures are of Dallas's game on the big field for the older kids.  We're glad he's finally on the big field because it's where we live. 

Daisy fighting boredom. Up close / far away.

Dallas probably the best player on his team.  He's pretty equal with his friend Derek though who has great ball control, but D seems to be everywhere.  It's probably because he's played so many years, but, unfortunately the other players on his team are mostly new so it's a challenge.  Dallas just loves to have fun, but he also has a coach who's not very fun this year.  Everyone's a volunteer, so it's not like we are mad at her- she's doing the best she knows how!  But she goes over things he learned 5 years ago, so he doesn't get excited about practices anymore.  Dallas and Derek try to get her away from the boring drills of 'how to throw in a ball' by asking to play games (sharks and minnows) or just practice playing soccer, but it never works.  You can tell the kids on his team are newer players because they all chase the ball around like it's the nucleus, rather than playing their positions.  We understand, I mean, hey, it could be us who were the new ones, so it's no big deal.  But last game he blocked the other team from scoring a goal and then took the ball down the whole field to score himself because there was never anyone to pass to.  They get discouraged and give up and quit running.  Maybe we will try the challenge team next time.  It's just so much of a commitment!

A couple weeks ago, as he was driving the ball down the field a player fell on him.  It tripped him and he landed hard on his back.  I was too far away to tell what happened or if he was okay.  He got right up and I saw the ref talking to him and I saw him get a free kick.  I saw tear wiped away and he went on and finished the quarter.  Then his coach gave him a break and he came to me and let the tears come out.  But I made him laugh, and after a rest he was okay.  It's rough out there by this age.  He is U12 so that means anyone under 12 can play on his team, so he is a younger player at age 10.   He's always been taller than the kids his age, but I'm noticing they are all bulkier, so that makes a difference.  I see the other kids throwing elbows and shoving him, but he just doesn't return it since it's against the rules. 


Evan is on the field that is 25 minutes from home, so a bit farther, but still in our lovely East Mountains!
He has been scoring goals and playing better than ever!  (By the way, Sam didn't want to play this year, so he helps with Evan's soccer practices). Evan's friend Jacob from school is on the team and Jacob's mom is the assistant coach.  She is wonderful!  That's the first time Pat's had a functioning assistant coach and it is such a relief when he has to miss practice or a game because of a scout campout.  She arranges the snacks and party stuff too, and has given Evan many rides when I can't help because of my surgery.  Jessica is great! 

The fall is one of my favorite times here.  My huge sunflowers erupt, and the weeds are gone (because of all our hard work), and the sun shines warmly, but there is a cool breeze of fall.  We love hanging out on the front porch laying on the sidewalk. It is like medicine for my soul!  These cute kids sure help too!




Yesterday we had to bundle up for the soccer game because it was seriously cold.  Sweaters, layers of clothes and warm coats and blankets and we still ended up sitting in the car to watch D's soccer game.  He was out there in a t-shirt and shorts! 

Here's the pictures the kids tried to get of the deer.
Two deer.

I'm outta here!



School update

The first quarter of school is over!  I was finally well enough to go and meet their teachers and spend a whole day at school observing in all their classrooms, and we just had parent teacher conferences to top it all off. 

Evan: He is doing well like he always does.  Friends, pretty much all A's, never any behavior problems, a joy to teach.  His teacher is extremely serious, very young and right out of college, but she is good.  I can tell the good teachers from the fakers.  The classroom is run like a strict old school one room school house.  Spelling goes like this: "RED.  Listen to it in a sentence: The flag is red, white and blue. RED.  Say it! (they all say RED). Write it!", and then she moves on to the next word.  It is all business and don't mess with her!  But she is extremely positive and tells the kids constantly what she likes about what they're doing and I got to see them have a POEM-BEE which was where they took turns saying a poem and eliminating anyone who made a mistake just like a spelling bee.  All it took for them to get eliminated was a pause or an "Um", and they were gone!  Evan was one of four finalists, and she kept making them go faster and faster and not one kid messed up, so they all got the prize!  Evan's grin stretched from ear to ear- it was so cute!  They said the poem with all the proper feeling and I could tell that even though it was a difficult poem, they understood it!

Sam: This kid has had it the worst so far.  Begging me to let him stay home.  Giving me and his teacher looks of death.  Now?  Both teachers (he has a different one for math) just love him and say he's their favorite student!?!!?!  He does have to go to the bathroom more than anyone on the planet though.  I think it's partly that he is bored sitting there all day and needs escape, and his teacher, bless her heart, understands him, but also, he really does have the smallest bladder out of all my kids.  Whenever we have road trips we're always pulling off to the side of the highway for Sam.  Anyway- I'll take my punishment for not wanting the teacher we got.  She is completely who Sam needed.  When he'd give her dirty looks she'd give them back, but in a loving way, not scary.  And she'd write him notes asking, "How are you doing, really?", which were just between them.  I don't know if he ever responded to the notes, but he figured out that she was an okay teacher and he didn't have to hate her.  Unfortunately, we just found out she's moving to Washington at the end of October.  What's going to happen to Sam!?

Oh and a funny!  I happened to go to PE with Sam when they were doing dancing.  I joked with Sam asking, "Do you want me to dance with you guys?", thinking he'd be mortified.  "Yes!", he said, and we danced it all up!  It was so fun!  I'm still recovering from surgery so I couldn't do tons, but it was great!  By the end of the period lots of the kids were tired and sat down- I had to stop too, but not Sam.  He moved up to the front and kept on going.


Dallas: This kid gets an assignment to make a book and he makes five.  He does science projects completely on his own for fun.  He's always asking me if he can research a different type of frog or thing for science.  As I observed in his class, he seems to raise his hand for everything.  That can be annoying but at least he is meek and quiet about raising his hand and isn't bothered when the teacher refuses to call on him hoping someone else will answer.  But the teacher does say things like, "You're always one step ahead of us Dallas".  She is a nice lady with a southern accent.  She did say that sometimes he'll sit alone or stay in to work on things when the other kids go outside to play.  That worried me.  I want him to learn to make friends and have fun at recess, so I told him he can't do that anymore.  He does have his good friend Micah, so they can always play together at school instead of bugging me to hang out after school all the time which takes a whole lot more organizing! I say, "Dallas!  You won't be a kid forever!  Just have fun!  You'll be an adult soon enough!"  But who am I kidding?  I made him who he is- well with a little help from his father.  He's a first child, being born less than a year from a child I lost, and all of these things play into the person he is today.  Honestly, I rather like him!  He's so responsible and helpful and WONDERFUL with his little siblings.  I just know that making friends was never easy for me as I'm a bit more introverted and so is his father, and I don't want him to go through that pain.  But Pat said, "Don't force him to play if working on a project is something he actually enjoys!".  Well, whatever.  He is the kid who eagerly listens to all 10 hours of conference.  If you want normal- don't hang out with D!  But why should everyone be normal?  That's why we pray as parents.  We do our best and ask God to make up the difference in helping him to be the person he is supposed to be.  I'm confident that though he'll have his own set of challenges like everyone does, he is going to be amazing!  He is nearing the end of speech therapy, by the way, and his therapist is now having him recite poems he has to learn for school, or read Don Quixote out loud (also for school), or she'll have him read from his scout book and talk about things he's working on, and she is always blown away by the great things he's doing!

And we can't have been doing too bad a job since our children all behave well, and they are all getting almost perfect grades, and they are all a grade higher in math.  The school has math at the same time so you go the the grade you test at.  So Evan is 2nd grade but goes to the 3rd grade teacher, Sam 4th to 5th, and Dallas 5th to 6th (although he could be higher).  Sam's so cute in his class.  He's one of only two or three fourth graders in a class of 5th and 6th graders for math and since he's on the smaller side, he looks really small amongst them all!  His math teacher is Dallas's regular teacher, so she gets two of my kids!

All in all, I am super duper proud of my kids.  They constantly make me so happy!!!  Did you know that both S and D are playing songs in this years primary program?  Yea for them!
 I don't know if we'll do the school next year but we have been very blessed so far!  We'll access the pro's and con's yearly.  This year, with all I've been through, it seems like this is what needed to happen since I would have had a difficult time homeschooling.  But that's just life.  Homeschooling is never easy.  Last year was a difficult year too because we had a baby!  You just do your best, and I really do feel God makes up the difference when you communicate daily with him.  Being organized and prepared is essential to me, but He really helps you to be so much better than you ever could alone.  And it is so nice to learn together as a family!  I love it!  Now-a-days, I'm lucky if I get one piece of information about what they did for the 8 hours they were away.  I hate that!  They all say that they like school, but they all still wish they could stay home.  Homeschool is awesome.  There are so many reasons why- but lately I think their main wish is to get up early and finish all their work by lunch so they can just play!  I'm okay with that since it works!  They are really creative neat people and can have time to work on things they enjoy rather than 8 hours at school, then homework!