Monday, October 5, 2015

Art Work

Brian's had a lot of late nights with work recently. So I decided to try my hand at mixed media art. "Mixed media" meaning it's all kinds of art, combined. It's paint, paper, texture, glue, stamps, wax crayons, etc all in one! This is not finished yet, but it's coming along! I still have more to add and tweak, but it's starting to turn out very well, I think!!

Hurricanes and Aquariums

So, there were about 7000 models showing Hurricane Joaquin making landfall, and only 1 showing it being pulled East, out to sea. And that ONE was correct. We woke up Saturday to the sun shining in the windows, no rain, no wind - it was nice! Since it had been raining for a solid week beforehand, football had already been cancelled because of the muddy we had a free day! Brian had to go into work, and I decided to surprise the kids with something we've never done before - The Aquarium.
I loved this room, with water on all sides/above you! It's really cool!
We were given a 1 year membership to the Aquarium recently (Wow and yay!, so grateful), but I hadn't told the kids that yet. It seemed like the perfect day to check it out!
It was a dark room, but that is a huuuuge alligator. Grey loved him

Shark tank!

Shark bait:-)

They had a pool full of sting rays where you could put your hand/arm in and pet them. I naturally did not do this, but the kids did. I think only Brooks claims to have touched a bit of one. They didn't seem to want to come too close to us this time.

There's a person!

It's kind of like a "limited zoo", with marine life, lizards, turtles, birds and frogs and such. Unfortunately nothing cute or adorable

Chesapeake Bay 

We climbed the lookout tower, and saw a heron

The lookout tower presented me with two of my biggest fears: Stairs without "backs" and see-thru stairs.
I couldn't not look down, yet was very dizzy, and definitely clinging to that railing pretty good. It was a lot of stairs! Going up is no problem, it's the coming down that's terrifying

They have an adventure park "in the sky", where you tie onto the ropes course and have all kinds of fun. It's an additional cost, and the kids seem a little young for it at this point, but it looks awesome for the future!
 Grey loved the Aquarium best of all, and declared "I will never get bored or tired of this place!"
Grey, taking a River Otter for a "walk". It followed him as he walked back and forth across the glass.
On the way to the Aquarium, we drove through bits of town we really never go past - and found something great. I had no idea that there was a Steak and Shake here!! I treated the kids on the way home. I hadn't been to one since my Chicago days (in the 90's!)
This kid has a very acute 'dominion sensor' - he gets this from his Daddy. He also can put on a mood - he gets that from his Mom;-) I "accidentally" reached over and ate some of his food (that he really had no intention of eating until I touched it). Then suddenly he was unable to eat it because I "scribbed it up" and it wasn't *exactly* as it had been. He sat there for a few seconds with his sad face on, refusing to look at me, and a french fry hanging out of his mouth, "unable" to chew it, in protest. I gave him about 3 seconds to make a better decision, meanwhile continuing to eat his fries (HAHAHA!). He chose to make a wise decision and change his attitude, and voluntarily gave his family the rest of his untouched food, because it really was too much for him:-) Parenting challenges never cease. And naturally I snapped a picture, like all good moms;-)
And about the Hurricane - so grateful it didn't hit us. Because of all the other rain we've been getting, it really would have been a disaster. Half of Norfolk is under water in high tide, and schools have been cancelled. The flooding is really bad. Adding more rain and wind to that would have really done a lot of damage, so we're glad it didn't hit land!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin

It happens about once per year. A hurricane is on watch. And about every few years, the watch becomes more real, as the track holds steady, and the storms gains in intensity. And so then - we get ready. It's really nothing of a panic - it's pretty old hat for all the people living in this region. Evacuations are rare in our area, just a little south of us in North Carolina they often evacuate a few of the islands there that people live on.

To prepare, about 3 days out - you buy stuff. Water, food, the event of power failures you need stuff to eat and drink. You could wait until closer to "go time"...but then there would be no food or water left to buy.

Joaquin hit the Bahamas in full force as a Category 4 - 130+mph sustained winds. And it seems to have changed its course, and is tracking more east - out to sea. Yay. It will likely only be a tropical storm by the time it reaches us.

The last time we had to really "prepare", we did get hit with Hurricane Irene, as a Category 1 (74-95mph winds). We boarded up our house, and my sister was in town visiting us. We didn't lose power in our neighbourhood, though many did. It was basically just a fun time. But the power of wind is NO JOKE. Anything left outside on a porch (a chair, or a rake) becomes a deadly weapon being whipped around by the wind, smashing a window etc. Not to mention tree branches etc.

Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Ida/Nor'easter

Those are the more major storms we've experienced in the last 11 years we've been here. We arrived just after Hurricane Isabelle, which hit Va Bch as a Cat 2, and did a lot of damage. Prior to that, the one people around here talk about is Hurricane Hugo (1989, Cat 5).

So while Hurricane watch is something to take seriously, thankfully our area does not suffer often.

This weekend Joaquin will hit, but chances are, in only Tropical Storm force, and we'll enjoy a little at home time, due to flooding in the roads etc. For most, it's likely a bummer that weekend plans are all cancelled throughout the region, but for us it means DADDY'S HOME. Haha. He's still out working today, but I'm guessing/hoping he'll be off tomorrow & Sunday. He's been working on a big project with a big deadline though - so if there's any way that Norfolk is not underwater, I'm sure he'll try to find a way to get there and get stuff done;-) But the kids have grand plans for staying up late, watching movies, and playing Catan...Mom has plans for sneaking in a little extra school work, haha.

We'll update in a few days with pictures from our rainy weekend! Praying for safety in our area, and for all those rebuilding in the Bahamas in the wake of Joaquin's destruction.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Quotes Archive 2015

What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. CS Lewis - The Magicians Nephew

'Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend.' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing,' EB White, Charlotte's Web

The single most important ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. Without it, most achievements are not possible, and even what we do achieve will feel hollow. Abraham Lincoln

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. C.S. Lewis

There are good young men who need someone to show them they are trustworthy by entrusting them with worthy work, who take the time to inspect their work so they know what to expect, who give them confidence to do hard things by giving them hard things to do. Ann Voskamp

I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church. Put your finger on any properous page in the Church's history and you will find a little marginal note that says: 'In this age people could readily see where the Church began and where the world ended.' Charles Spurgeon

It is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.” CS Lewis

In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children. The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted. The result is unruly children and childish adults. Thomas Szasz

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance, but by our disposition. Martha Washington

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. Newt Gingrich

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Only One

We have only one picture taken on our American anniversary. A polaroid, snapped by the Justice of the Peace that married us in Rochester, NY. This was right after the "ceremony" in the marble halls of the city building. It was Tuesday, Sept 30th, 2003 at approx 11am.

Here it is:
I wore my to-the-floor black Jacob skirt, and a white lacy blouse with frills on the sleeves and square-toed 4ish inch Aldo chunky heels. It was exactly what I had worn to Josh and Heather's Wedding the year before. Brian wore his black suit, with a burgundy tie - the tie was exactly the colour that our bridesmaids dresses had been.

Brian took a few hours off work, and we had to pay for parking. Funny the things you remember.

We picked recited vows from a list the Justice gave us - I think there were 3 choices. We only had a minute to pick them, and the vows that seemed to line up closest with what we'd want to say were chosen. I really do not prefer " I will's" as vows, but love a more traditional "I do". This time though, I didn't really have "full choice", and we said I Will when prompted. So we got say both, haha!! 

The judge read through everything he was obligated to say, a mini-ceremony of sorts, between Brian, myself, the Justice and his secretary. He included the part "if any man show any cause why this man should not be married to this woman, speak now or forever hold his peace", and paused - forever - Like seriously more than 20 seconds of waiting, which feels like 20 minutes when you're in an empty room. Almost like a scene from a movie, I fully expected Julia Roberts to come bursting through the corridor;-) After the long wait, and surprise-surprise, no objections from the empty room, we were married in the United States. The entire process from beginning to end took 15mins, max. Brian went right back to work after dropping me back home. 

It was kind of a strange day. It really was more of a formality than a wedding, which was how we viewed it then, and now. But it still "counts" as something to celebrate. If nothing else, a celebration to the end of the crazy-long-and-confusing visa process.

The days immediately following our wedding found me in Buffalo, paying more money, and filling out more forms, and getting fingerprinted yet again. Just when once visa process ends, another begins. It was time for "permission to work" permits and "permission to travel" permits - and WOW. Can I just say that thinking back on it all, it makes my head spin.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Schools In Session!

Well, we've been officially at school for about a month now. It's going pretty well, I'd say, but - can you say BUSY?!

We've got 4th grade, 3rd grade, 2 Kindergarteners, and a Pre-K. The course load for the 4th grade is much more intense than in previous years, which is an adjustment, and Kenna struggles a bit with her reading and comprehension still (she tests at "average" on the state standardized test, but I'd really like her to do better because it's not an area of strength for her, which is pretty obvious to me - "average" is certainly not setting the bar high, when you're talking standardized tests:-/). Brooks is well above average in this area, so it's one of those things she sort of gives up on - "Brooks is good at it, I'm not". Trying to impart that reading can be fun, is super necessary even if not fun, and a skill to be very well mastered has been our goal. She's making improvements and strides, but not without a few tears. She still has a few dyslexic tendencies with d & b, which seem to be working themselves out with age, but its just taking time, repetition, and practice. Not really her 3 favourite things at the moment:-)

I *adore* homeschooling for this very reason - it's so adaptable! When one person needs more help, we are able to provide it, and can easily make adjustments when something is not working. We center much of our "downtime" around this central-focus of bolstering her abilities where they are weaker. For games, we play Boggle or Scattergories. We read at dinner, and have her take turns reading portions aloud.  Brooks is generally a quick study:-) He, although officially beginning 3rd grade, is pretty much halfway through it already, and doing many 4th grade subjects already.

We have Sonny again this year! Kindergarten is an "optional" in our state, and since he didn't get accepted into the desired public school (they select children by a lottery system), he's getting homeschooled this year. This keeps me busy as well, because of the extra course work with the olders, and then of course, since Sonny & Grey are not independent readers yet, I pretty much have to do all their work with them - teaching them the math concepts, practicing it, giving instructions for worksheets and handwriting techniques etc.

And May-May is learning letters, writing, sounds etc, and playing with lots of playdoh and busy books:-)

We have cancelled out of our science co-op for this year, because we were pressed for time in getting everything "in" and it didn't fit in with our over all focus of the year, being reading and writing (mostly for Kenna's benefit, but helps all really).

The kids do 4 hours of a Homeschool Physical Education program at the YMCA (free with membership), they love it! Kenna and Brooks have piano each Tuesday afternoon. Brooks and Grey currently are playing flag football. And now they all are in Awanas...Grey's in Sparks. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?! We still adhere to at 7pm bedtime when possible, sometimes it's not with church and sports. But it generally keeps everyone well rested, and Momma totally sane with evenings free dishes and stuff. :-)

We are sort of starting our own mini co-op just right here at the house. I have a fun Geography/Animal Habitat studies curriculum I got from my sister, and it's super hands on and great! For Sonny, Grey & May's benefit, we are going to have 2 other kindergarteners join us every other Friday and well do that together in the mornings. I think they'll really have a lot of fun with it!

So, life's been busy! Like, really busy! It's been nice and fun, but the kids are definitely offering up their share of complaints over the lack of free time. Welcome to the world, guys. Haha!! Super grateful for our trampoline, they are able to bounce off lots of energy with little time involved. The boys looooove to practice baseball and football together too, which is so adorable!

It's been amazing to see how our family is growing up. I still think of them as the adorable little munchkins that used to dance around the livingroom - but they are so far from that now. They are turning into wonderful little people, and we're so proud of them! I guess it's nice to look back and see how far we've come, and see that the path we set out to follow has been endured, and enjoyed, and is yielding positive results. A lot of our friends have kids much younger than ours - we're only 18 months away from Kenna being able to stay home alone. WHHHHAAAAT?!! It's so funny how busy you think you are when the kids are little. That "busy-ness" is but preparation for the real thing, let me assure you. It's amazing how quickly all baby/toddler/child behaviours (and corrections) have culminated into the people that they are. We love 'em, anyway!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Extended Family Pictures

We had Brian's family in town for a week in August, just before Meghan goes back to Moody for college, and Jake & are moving to Belgium!! Jake is continuing his education at a university there, so they are off for a foreign adventure in a beautiful country!
 It was fun to see everyone again, and while they were in town - a photo shoot! We hired Joel DePriest Photography to get some nice family shots, because it will be a long time before everyone is reunited.
Original family

All the girls
All the boys

It's us!

The sisters

Dale & Lauren

Us again:-)
Mom & Dad B

Ann & Jake

Grandpa, Grandma, and the Grandkids

Siblings: Lauren, Meghan, Brian, Ann
Siblings & spouses: Ann & Jake, Darla & Brian, Meghan, Dale & Lauren

With Grandma & Grandpa


Father and Son

The always ready pencil behind the ear...;-) Contractors at heart I suppose. I mean really, who needs a weird, square pencil at a photoshoot anyway? ;-)

Father and Son

Mother & Daughters

Goodbye to Jake & Annie! Have fun exploring the world!