November 12, 2010

November 6, 2010

The Last of October

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Cousin Identifier:
Ian: Unknown Phantom
Noah: Dementor
Joshua: Harry Potter
Ava: Pippi Longstocking
Spencer: Ninja
Maya:Pippi Longstocking
Stella: Dorothy
Kailie: Adorable Witch
Owen: Shark
Madeline: Kitty
Finn: Cow
Amelia: Ladybug

Pumpkin Patch

Found this post from a couple of weeks ago. I don't know why I didn't post it but I'd hate for you to miss our journey through October....

I love fall!!! I love the cool weather, the beautiful colors and crunching leaves. I love all the activities associated with fall including visiting a pumpkin patch or two. Thursday was the perfect night at Vala's - perfect weather, NOT busy and everyone got along. We didn't even know it was Halloweenie Thursday so free hotdogs for all. Score!

October 29, 2010

King Science Quiz Competition

On Friday, Noah was part of a team of 4th grade students from Skinner to compete at the King Science Quiz competition. He was so excited the night before that he was worried he wouldn't be able to go to sleep. He did.

The competition started by answering science questions, went on to a team building competition and ended with a planetarium show. Perfect morning for my science boy. He and his teammates had a blast.

Not only did Noah have fun, but he won first place in the individual portion of the competition! Needless to say, he was thrilled. I was definitely proud of him but I was even prouder of the way he handled himself. He was a gracious winner and was just as proud of his team, which took second place. Just maybe, some things are sinking in.

Party Crashers

"What? The party's tomorrow? But I'm ready for s'mores now!"

October 18, 2010

Insight Through Apple Crisp

Setting: Sunday afternoon.
  • Nicole in kitchen preparing to make apple crisp.
  • Noah and the neighbor girls playing in the backyard.
  • Joshua sitting on the front steps playing by himself.

Hmmm. Why isn't Joshua out back with everyone else?

When I asked him he said he didn't want to. I asked if something happened and got the standard one word answer - No. I let it go but asked him if he wanted to help me make apple crisp. To this I received an enthusiastic "Yes!" and someone to help peel apples.

While peeling and slicing our talk revolved around apples until there was a short pause and Joshua quietly said the reason he wasn't playing with everyone was that Noah was being mean and yelling at him. After we talked a while longer he decided he was ready to play and ran out to join the group.

As he left I couldn't help feeling like I'd been given a gift. First, it was nice to have the opportunity to chat one-on-one without his brother to interrupt or add comments. Second, I realized that I had discovered the secret to getting him to open up and talk. Thank you!!!

This will not be our last apple crisp.

October 17, 2010


Last week we made it out to Martin's Orchard near Ceresco to pick apples. I didn't realize that our boys were such city slickers until we heard comments like these on the drive:
  • I don't see any man-made structures.
  • All I see is dead corn. Everywhere I look, dead corn.
  • How long can you breathe in dust before you die? Like two minutes? (While driving on a country road)
  • Ahhh, unpolluted air (with nose buried in shirt).
Once we arrived though they were in their element. Here's the proof...

We brought home 18 pounds of apples.

September 26, 2010

Oddly Familiar

Okay, I know I already posted about this but I was playing around with Animoto and these were my most recent photos. They must be posted - at least there are five new photos. Besides, the song is "Elusive Butterfly." I don't think this is what the artist had in mind but I could not resist.

September 19, 2010

Wildlife Encounters

Yesterday was a jam-packed day but the best part was at a sanctuary in our neighborhood: Heron Haven. It was their big fall event with activities throughout the day. We made it just in time for the wildlife encounter. Joshua was called up first to help and had these...placed on his shoulders. I wish I'd had my camera because his face was priceless. We heard all about the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and their importance in the world while we watched them hang out and crawl around on Joshua's shoulders.

When Noah was chosen to help his surprise animal was much cuter:
He got to hold the kinkajou (also known as a honey bear) while it ate fruit loops out of his hand. I could have done that.

There was also an alligator, giant boa, scorpion, African Serval and a Fennec fox (smallest fox). It was interesting to see and hear about some animals we hadn't seen before.

After the wild animals the boys enjoyed time in the butterfly tent.

We didn't have time to walk any trails. Hopefully we can make it back before the snow hits. I think this would be a fabulous activity with cousins!

September 16, 2010

Neverending Questions

Saved by the Discovery channel....I thought.

I only have a couple of weekends left to finish up my coursework. This means that the boys have been free to do just about anything while I'm studying on the weekends. This meant that last Saturday they enjoyed killer/danger day on the Discovery channel. First up, Killer Ants. Followed by Killer Jellyfish, Worlds Most Dangerous Animals and other deadly titles.

After watching Killer Jellyfish Joshua has been rethinking his "diver" career path.
The Killer Jellyfish program has sparked much discussion at our house and has led to even more questions about the killer jellyfish. All of which Noah has posed to me. When I was unable to answer his questions and grew more frustrated with each one, I finally asked why he thought I would know this. (He did just watch the program, not me!) He replied, "Because you've been to high school." Oh yeah, how could I have forgotten the jellyfish elective???

This is when I realized I'm taking the wrong classes. Instead of improving on my 21st century literacy skills I should have been focused on all things deadly. Maybe there is a class designed to answer all of Noah's questions. Better yet, I need a class that teaches me how to breath through all of the questions without coming unglued by question #937 of the day - the kid asks A LOT of questions!

They often sound like real questions:

Noah: Do you think it's better to be a teacher or an astronaut?
Me: Teacher?

But just when you think you're going to learn something insightful they take a turn to the 9 year old boy side:

Noah: I think an astronaut because then when you hurl it would just float out into space until it hit something. That would be so cool!

I fall for it every time.

Just when I think I can't take one more question, musing or revelation though, I remember that it won't be forever. As hard as it is to picture now, I know at some point he will start talking more to his friends then to me. It's inevitable. Just thinking about it now makes me a little sad. So, I'm going to embrace the questions and engage in the dialogue that is being so desperately sought (unless it's about my driving). We'll start
here which I'm sure will lead to more questions and quandaries.

August 30, 2010


This FINALLY arrived in my mailbox today...

It contains the highly anticipated conclusion to The Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay. At least I believe it does. As much as I'd love to rip it open and start reading NOW, I'm going to wait. Instead, I'm going to use this box as the motivator to get my online grad classes finished by the end of September (Because keeping my job isn't enough of a motivator???).

So, it's a date. October 1st you'll find me curled up with my book and probably a nice glass of wine. I can't wait! But first, back to my studies...

August 4, 2010

Sleep Mask for Kids

I couldn't stop laughing when I checked on Joshua and walked into this...

Yes, this is how he fell asleep. Why is he blindfolded? A more interesting question might be what is he blindfolded with? Any guesses?

If you said a blue stretchy cobra snake, you would be correct. Maybe we could corner the market on blindfolds for kids with this new reptile design. There is a market for sleep masks for kids isn't there?

June 17, 2010

Growing Up

Does it ever just hit you that your kids are older?

Joshua decided he wanted to a start his summer with a Mohawk. I love that he isn't afraid to be his own person or to try something different. The hawk lasted a couple of weeks until he got tired of doing it (or tired of hearing me tell him to do it).

Sometimes that moment hits you when you hear a mature response after so many that were not. Sometimes you just SEE them. This happened to me during dinner one night. Looking at Noah it just hit me how much older he was - taller, such long arms and more mature conversation (occasionally). He's moving into that pre-adolescent category and has more and more questions about growing up. Most of those questions involve driving and getting your license. Some do not.

Signs that it's time for the first "talk."
  • Yesterday at the pool Noah asked when you get armpit hair. He then asked if an older cousin had it, if I had it, and if he could see it. Um, no and not on the pool deck!
  • A couple of weeks ago while discussing his day at camp Noah said he was surprised that only two other kids made it to the top of the rock wall besides him - and they were girls! I said something about not raising a sexist and that girls can do what boys can do blah, blah, blah. He then started trying to use the word sexy. When I asked him if he knew what sexy meant he said, "Hot." When I asked him what hot meant he said, "You know, sweaty."
  • He's a little too interested in woman's undergarments. If we walk by that section in a store he wants to touch all of them. Is it inappropriate to pat a mannequin's crotch?
I know we'll get to all of this soon enough but I'm okay if he thinks sexy means sweaty for a little while longer.

June 6, 2010

The End - 48 Hour Book Challenge Complete

Clocked out but not done? The end of my 48 hour period came and went at 8:45 this morning. I HAD to finish the book I was reading so it was another 30 minutes before I could stop (Don't worry, I didn't count the extra in my total.). Instead of tired of reading, I'm just anxious to get into more books! If I had read more and slept less maybe I'd feel differently - but probably not.

When I discovered this challenge blog-hopping a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued and wondered how much time I could actually spend reading. I fell a little short of my goal (24 hours) but still feel good about the 21 hours and 14 minutes spent reading. I finished eight books and started a read aloud with the boys. I must admit I was more into the reading then the social networking. When most people are posting from their book blogs you feel a little "odd blogger out" posting from your personal blog. That being said, it was still a blast and I'm looking forward to checking out what everyone else read and adding some new blogs to my RSS reader.
I narrowed my book selection down for the challenge to the Nebraska Golden Sower Nominees for 2010-11 in the Intermediate and Young Adult categories. I'd already read two, so with 18 left to choose from, my 48 hour reading journey began.
Books Read:

Intermediate Nominees
  • Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell - This was my favorite. I don't know why I'm always shocked when I enjoy fantasy so much.
  • Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill
  • Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
  • (started Masterpiece by Elise Broach)
Young Adult Nominees
  • Peeled by Joan Bauer
  • Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
  • Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
  • Fakie by Tony Varrato
  • Steel Trapp: The Challenge by Ridley Pearson
Thank you MotherReader for hosting this event. I know beating my time next year is totally possible with less "Mommy!" and more caffeine.

Total Time Reading/Blogging: 22 hours 14 minutes

June 4, 2010

Let the Reading Begin!

The 48 Hour Book Challenge is finally here and I'm ready! Pork chops marinating, garbage out, dishwasher running, laundry started, kids gone until 5:30 and a big stack of books. I intended on starting earlier but it would be shocking to those that know me to find that I'm running behind. I'm going to be working my way through the Intermediate and Young Adult Nebraska Golden Sower Nominees for 2010-11 starting with Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. My official start time is 8:45 a.m.

Day 1
Woo hoo! I'm clocking out today with 11 hours and 26 minutes spent reading. I'm tired and my eyes are tired.

Books Read:
  • Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarian by Brandon Sanderson
  • Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill
  • Peeled by Joan Bauer
  • Fakie by Tony Varrato
  • Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
Too tired for more now... must sleep. It will be harder to get as much time in tomorrow unless I lock myself in the bathroom and ignore the boys all day. I might have to lift the video game time limit for the day. Are there really people that read 30-40 hours??? Crazy!

June 3, 2010

Thrilled To Be Reading

New find for summer reading: Mark My Time Bookmarks. They are bookmarks with a clock and two timers. One timer counts up so you can keep track of minutes read. The other timer counts down for those that want to read for a specific amount of time. You can stop or start each timer as many times as needed.

I found these at The Bookworm (The Make Your Mark web site says they are available at Barnes & Noble and Borders too.) and gave them to the boys last weekend. They are a HUGE hit! I'm sure the newness will eventually wear off but for now the boys love keeping track of their time spent reading. Joshua likes to see how long it takes him to read each book...
  • Jump, Frog, Jump! - 4 minutes
  • Starry, Starry Night - 10 minutes
  • Chapter 1 of Gross Out! - 9 minutes
... and Noah logged an hour and ten minutes the first time out. He was quick to inform me that he wouldn't do that every time but I'm not worried. He's like me in that he has trouble putting a book down once he's gotten started.

If you're looking for a way to encourage reading this summer these bookmarks might be exactly what you need.

May 26, 2010

48 Hour Book Challenge

I am so excited for the 48 hour book challenge! It is happening the weekend of June 4-6, 2010. Go to the MotherReader blog for all the details. I love that I will actually have a reason for non-stop reading. Since I brought 60+ books home to read over the summer I might need several 48 hour book challenges. It will be interesting to see how much time I can actually log reading. Anyone else up for the challenge?

You're My Obsession

We become obsessed with things around here. I know I'm guilty of it too (new products, books, parenting ideas, etc.) but when Noah gets stuck on something that is ALL you hear about.

Noah's latest obsession is the desire to go to a baseball game. I think it stems from the school program he was just in about summer vacation. His part ...
Anyway, I'm not opposed to going to a ballgame (not that I have any desire or love of baseball) but I'm already tired of being asked to go - every day. Especially since I think he's really just interested in having a hotdog, peanuts and cracker jacks. He's been warned that they probably don't serve peanuts anymore due to all the nut allergies but he will not be dissuaded. Is it un-American to make him wait for the free tickets you get for participating in the summer reading program at the library for a game in August?

Baseball has already begun to fade only to be replaced by duct tape. Thank you Mythbusters for once again showing us the amazing power of duct tape. Fascinated, Noah found videos on how to make pouches, flowers and backpacks. Here he shows off his first two duct tape creations.

Since this video Noah has taught Joshua how to make the pouch and flower. He has added a backpack to his own duct tape collection. I think we have a cousin summer craft.

May 13, 2010

What Do You See?

School is almost out and one thing on my summer list of things to do is blog. Obviously, not much of that happened during the school year - except in my head. I thought I'd dip my toe back into blogging by sharing the thought process of our seven-year old this evening....

While gathering laundry tonight I asked the boys to dump their laundry baskets into mine. Joshua brought his in and although it seemed somewhat empty, I didn't think much of it. That is until I walked by his room.

Before you judge his room know this:
1. It has looked much, much worse. MUCH!
2. He has actually been picking it up on Saturdays but we had a really busy weekend.

Anyway, when I went by his room I saw the upturned empty blue laundry basket (Thanks for emptying it when asked the first time Joshua!) and then clothes strewn from the doorway to his dresser. It's amusing (sometimes) how literal kids can be. At what age does saying "bring me your laundry" become all encompassing? Clearly not at seven.

The clothes on the floor are also an example of how tired I am. Not because they are on the floor but because Joshua wore the khakis in the doorway to church on Sunday. Today is Thursday. His room is across the hallway from mine. I have stepped over those pants all week when I've gone in to wake him up and not even noticed.

Hmmm, how did he miss those clothes on the floor when getting his laundry? It couldn't possibly be in his DNA.

February 21, 2010

Birthday Wishes

More interesting ideas from our Joshua...

Joshua's birthday is not until the end of March but we are trying something new - a joint birthday party with his cousin Maya whose birthday was earlier this month. The party meets in the middle of their birthdays and has me trying to figure out what kind of cake he would like to have and what presents he might desire, much earlier than usual. When asked, Joshua quickly decided that he wanted a dragon Mighty Beanz cake... breathing fire and with a chest of gold. Of course you would.

You might recall his last birthday cake that I discussed here. I've now talked him down to cupcakes topped with a Mighty Beanz. Much easier! Score one for mom. I'm sure the cake for his actual birthday will need to be much more elaborate, but at least we'll be on spring break.

When I called him in for a private talk (an attempt to get a list without Noah's input) to discuss present ideas this is the list I got:
  • welding torch
  • metal
  • plastic
  • magnifying glass - circle only, no handle
Why does my soon to be seven year old desire these things? They are the things needed to make a light saber - he and Noah are growing the crystals. He did wonder if the welding torch would melt the crystals. I told him that he wouldn't be receiving a welding torch but he made me write it on the list anyway. You never know. Has it become appropriate to give your child fire wielding equipment that could blind or maim?

Other items that HAD to be on the list even though he can't have them:
  • iPhone
  • TV for his room
  • real kitten
Here is the list with real potential:
  • Bike
  • Wii: New Super Mario Bros.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - DS
  • Star Wars the Clone Wars - DS
  • alarm clock
  • Mighty Beanz storage case
  • Mighty Beanz flip track
  • Mighty Beanz
  • new stuffed animal - any kind...As if we need more animals to throw around!
  • model magic
  • triangle bakugan
  • sleeveless shirt - I know there has been snow on the ground since Thanksgiving, but he's concerned that he doesn't have any sleeveless shirts yet.
  • magnetic guy
  • new pillow case - He's not sure what kind, just that he'd like one. I think it's cute that he doesn't need a whole sheet set but is perfectly happy with interesting pillow cases. Anyone want to tie-dye a new one?
Roller Skates (size 1)