Ace’s 12th

In July, we celebrated Ace’s birthday in style as usual.  He is definitely a lot like his daddy but has his own personality.  I can’t believe that next year we’ll have two teenagers!  

Uncle and Aunt B always give cool presents.  These socks were right up Ace’s alley.

And so what we have learned…

Good intentions…I do have them.  I fully intend to get the blog updated from May before the end of June so I can update with June even though there’s not much to report in June, except that we were visited by a host of Transueiness and we’re sick.  Croup for the babe, colds, stomach issues, fevers, and a touch of laryngitis for the rest of crew…and we’ve only had three go through it.  There’s still more to come!

However, before I start folding clothes, I thought I could do a post.

Our end of the year project fair with our homeschool care group was in May this year.  The weekend of Mother’s day to be precise.  Although it was a very busy day (and Aunt Yaya’s birthday) we had wonderful time.  This year, the kids voted not to do handbells.  They chose poem recitations instead.  I have no clue where the video is.  I think next year I’ll talk them in to doing a puppet show…or play.  They do enjoy getting up and acting and such.

This year was the first year for them to do projects.  I allowed them to choose their projects and have very, very little hands on work with them.  I did some guidance on how to do the projects, use machines, and how not to cut yourself with a paper cutter or scissors (or glue yourself to a board).

And I have to say, I was greatly pleased with the effort they put into doing this.  Because of that, we will be doing many more projects this year.

Zoe did her project on Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Lap Loom that she had received as a gift from us one Christmas.

They had to stand by their projects and actually talk to people who came by and asked about them (because they’re unsocialized).  Zoe enjoyed demonstrating the loom.

We love to watch The Spangler Effect with Steve Spangler and one of the experiments he had was disappearing ink.  That was Ace’s choice for a project.  He also learned a bit about cryptography and steganography.

 More “un” socialness going on.
About the middle of the year, Josiah told me he wanted to do a project on bird nests.  I told him he would have to do it with Liam since they were so young.  The boys eventually agreed.  As I wracked my brain trying to figure out how to help a six year old and a four year old put together a project on nests, I decided to glance in the kids science journals.  We studied flying animals this year and lo and behold, there was a mini book on nests.  We adjusted it to fit on a display model and brought along a nest that had fallen out of our tree at some point.  Some birds heard about our need for nests and obliged by creating one in a box we had on our front porch.
My totally anti-social Liam loved talking to everyone about nests and the different kind.  No fear of public speaking for this kid!
 Doesn’t Chi have a look of fear on his face?  Yeah, that’s brotherly love right there.

A Bunch of Characters in Concert

Before we left on vacation, the kids informed us that they had a show to do. We had Tracy and Kevin over with their kids and our bunch did not hesitate to perform for them. Zoe even made up a sign and programs. It was a blast to watch and they had fun putting it on.

It’s funny because this is what my sister and I did for our parents when we were little. Ge & Granddaddy please forgive me for all the times I made you “watch my feet” or listen to me sing.

No one should have to listen to me sing.

But my kids, well, that’s a different story. I could listen to their giggly singing voices all day…almost all day…especially if there is no whining or fighting involved.

No one should have to listen to me sing.

But my kids, well, that’s a different story.  I could listen to their giggly singing voices all day…almost all day…especially if there is no whining or fighting involved.

Dive In

We’re going on vacation really soon, so Mark and I decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for some of our non-swimmers to take some swim lessons and hopefully keep a few from drowning. Ace and Liam are so close to swimming so they were a must. What we weren’t sure of was Josiah. He had never had a swim lesson by himself before and I really don’t count the “mommy & me” class we took. Although, that was fun. So, we weren’t sure whether to put him in or not. We finally decided to give it a try.

Here’s how it went down (again, didn’t get pictures except the last night).

The first night, Josiah cried. The whole time. And did everything they said, while crying. We were really wondering if this was going to be worth the money.

The second lesson, Josiah cried but only when he had to do something. And he still did it. Hmm, this might work after all.

By the third lesson, he was smiling and informed us that he was having fun! He spent the rest of the lessons smiling and listening and doing all that was asked. He’s getting pretty good at floating and pretty good at swimming on his back! Not something any of our other 4 year olds have been able to do!

As for Ace & Liam, well, they had a wonderful teacher!  Ace is at independent swimming status and Liam is so close but needs a bit more confidence.  His teacher didn’t make it to the last class until the very end and Liam all but refused to do anything for his substitute teachers.  He was really scared and just didn’t trust these total strangers.  But, as soon as Mr. Eric walked in, he did everything that was asked.  I talked with his instructor afterwards and it really all boils down to his confidence in being able to do things.  Hopefully, when summer gets here (and at least our vacation), he’ll have that confidence.

We were really proud of all of them and how hard they worked!

Ace’s Birth Story

Of course, I can’t type a birth story without a little background.  Ace is our gift from God which is what his middle name means!  When Zoe was eight months old, we found out we were expecting.  However, just a few short weeks later, we learned that baby had died and was now in the arms of Jesus forever.  We prayed and cried and sought God’s peace and amply provided it.  We grew closer together as a couple and we grew even closer to God.  At my two week check up after our miscarriage, we talked with Dr. J and then prayed and realized if it was God’s will, He would allow us to get pregnant again or He would have us wait.  Two weeks later, we learned we were pregnant with Ace!    While the first part of the pregnancy was full of uncertainty, we learned to rely on God to carry us through.

And a funny from the first part of the pregnancy:  I was about six or so months pregnant when the lab nurses suddenly realized I wasn’t being seen for a miscarriage follow-up.  Really.  At each check up, they kept asking my the date of my LMP.  And they kept marking up the check out sheet wrong.  We giggled about that.

So, the day of the big birth arrived as planned.  Yep, as planned.  I was induced on my due date.  I’m not sure what prompted us to want to be induced.  Again, probably a lack of education, the convenience of scheduling a birth.  Dr. J had been out of town the week before and his colleague was the one who left it up to me to schedule the induction.  However, as before, I was a really good candidate for an induction (usually am…if you don’t know what makes a good candidate, I can feel you in privately.)  I had dilated to a total of 3 whole centimeters but wasn’t really that close to labor.  At least not like I was with Zoe.

After pitocin was started, I never really felt like the contractions were strong or regular.  Dr. J came in around 9:30 in the morning and broke my water and I was still at 3 cm but could be stretched to 5.  I kept getting stronger contractions but I never really felt like they were regular.  Around lunch time, they were strong enough that I thought an epidural might feel pretty nice about that time.  The nurse came in and checked me and I was at a 7.  Of course, after now having three non-epidural births, I realize that I was transitioning and probably could have held off on the drugs, but at the time…well, the nurse asked if I wanted an epidural and when I said yes, she rushed out to find anesthesia and get them in quick.  Epidural in place, we settled in to wait for the magic number 10.

However, as I got close to 10, Ace’s heart rate started to drop slightly.  I had to get on oxygen and lay on my side to get complete enough to push.  When I got to 10, the nurse let me push once and then quickly stopped me to wait on Dr. J.  This was not going to be a two and half hour pushing marathon like Zoe’s birth.  Dr. J came in, said he was going to change and to keep pushing and then stepped out.  I pushed one more time and then the nurse quickly told me to stop.  She searched out Dr. J and he (as quickly as he does) got ready.  I pushed through three contractions and he was born.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around Ace’s neck at least one time and tightly which explained the drop in the heartrate.

Ace weighed in a chunker compared to Zoe at 8 lbs 14 oz.  But he was gorgeous and we were thrilled to have our second addition to our family.  Our precious gift from God!

How to Fit Five Boys in One Room

Welll, this was an issue we started discussing as soon as we found out Seven was really Malachi.  So, I went to trusty Pinterest to gather my thoughts all in one place.  We started with these ideas:

Source: fabric.com via Abbie on Pinterest

Fabric sample

Source: fabric.com via Abbie on Pinterest

Another fabric sample.

And an idea for beds to include this:

And this:

Our decorating and color ideas came from this bedding that we already had:

Source: target.com via Abbie on Pinterest

But before any of that could work in a room with five boys, we had to paint…and before we totally took the room apart, we remember pictures!

Sorry about the spots, not sure what was up with the camera.

Totally ignore that disheveled looking closet, the curtains for it will be coming later.  Ugh, I cringe when I look at that.  It does look much better now but still not fun to see every time you come in a room.

Before all the painting started, Mark and Granddaddy put their heads together to come up with bunk bed plans.  Granddaddy got the wood and cut it and even pre-drilled the frame and delivered it on Piano Recital day (cause he rocks).

I’m tempted to stop here and make ya’ll all wait until tomorrow to see what took place but then I think someone would come up with the cyber version of rotten tomatoes to throw at me so I won’t!

And this started…

Mark and I realized about an hour into bunk bed building night that two people, one of whom was in her third trimester were not really adequate enough to hold up these sturdy pieces of wood to build two levels.  So, reinforcements were called in by way of a neighbor down the street (he always comes to help…we really are wondering why he hasn’t ran away far far from here now).  So, thanks, S for helping with the project!

Not going to show the finished project yet…I had some art up my sleeve to do as well as a bit of refinishing.  And while I worked on canvasses, three very sad looking male faces appeared and requested ever so sweetly to paint one.  I couldn’t resist those big blue and brown eyes so an afternoon of painting commenced on their very own canvasses.

Not sure how we didn’t get a picture of Josiah in action, but he was there painting his square too.
And, when we visited Granddaddy Thanksgiving weekend, he showed us a chest of drawers he had picked up for $35!  No kidding.  Solid wood.  Just needed to be painted.  For those that don’t know, my parents are pickers on the side.  They have a booth at an antique mall where they sale their finds.  But this, this I was not going to let get away and gladly accepted it!
It had those missing drawers, I just had already taken them off to get the hardware off so Mark could sand it.

So ya’ll want to see the finished product huh???

As you enter you can see that beat up dresser all done.  Mark did add the knob to the door.  We kept the solid wood sturdy big dresser we already had and got rid of (well, it’s sitting in the schoolroom right now) the beat up smaller dresser.  We took the knobs off of that dresser and put them on here.  I already had the fabric for the boys’ beds and we had plenty of paint leftover from painting the previous dressers.  So, total cost was $35 for the dresser!  That’s my spaceship canvas that I freehand drew from looking at the pattern on the boys’ crib.

Bryant helped with the photo tour and please ignore any toys, this was prior to clean up time.  This is Josiah and Liam’s bunks.

And this is Bryant’s and Ace’s.  See the sweet little head peeking out.  Bryant got his mattress this past weekend and has transitioned pretty well to his big boy bed. (This is the part where I don’t admit that we tried to give up paci but Mark nor I could stand the screaming so he still has that and it’s probably a big part of the transitioning well.  Yeah, it’s going bye bye before Malachi is born though.)

 We put gutter bookshelves on the footboard of each bed and a push light (which is battery operated and they have to buy the batteries…some of them are already in need).  At the headboard we put their name canvasses that I did with their life verses on them.  Have I shown those yet?

My other canvas that I made…freehand…yay me.

This was the boys’ artwork.  I thought it turned out really well.  In an effort to control the art, I did sketch off the ship they wanted and outlined it and they did the rest.  I resisted any desire to control how they did it but I did limit their color choices to what we were using in the room.  Really, I did!  The end of the legs of Liam’s ship is fire coming out.  And my control of Bry’s hand was mainly to keep the paint on the canvas not  on the house or me.

Verdict:
I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to do the beds L-shaped.  When we put them in the L-shape, there was no room to put two dressers and a crib so we had to think and rethink.  My dad and Mark wanted to make sure they were sturdy enough for, well, boys.  And that meant using a bit bulkier wood.  But ya’ll, these things will last for a long time!  We also had to factor in that the beds were tall enough to hit the fan.  Mark willingly volunteered to chop off a bit to make it work but we came up with this configuration and it worked.  I’m really happy with how it all turned out and the curtains on the beds are a super hit! This room was a month long project and every time the boys woke up it was kind of like Christmas.  They spent four days sleeping in the living room (on the sleeper sofa) and so they were truly surprised each time they awoke to find their room a little different.  It was a great treat for them and I’m so excited that they love it.

Now, I realize this is a long post, so next time we do a big project, should I just post as we go or wait until it’s done?  I love waiting so everyone could definitely see the finishing touches.  Sometimes I forget to post the finished product when I post as we go.

Energy Burner

A sure fire way to get my kids to burn off excess energy is to go to gymnastics.  There is a local gym that offers homeschool classes twice a month.  The kids love it and usually rush to finish school on gymnastics days.  This month, they had a “Snowflake Show-off” which meant we got to sit down front and center and watch the kids do their thing!

Ceili Rain, Bryant, and Josiah enjoyed the show.  Josiah’s old enough to participate but gymnastics is not his thing.

They all received medals at the end.

Okay, so the Olympics is not in our future, but it sure is fun for them and they definitely sleep well after gymnastics.

Piano Man…and Woman

In between travels, Zoe and Ace had their first official piano recital with their teacher Mrs. T.  They’ve been taking for the past two years and have done really well.  We just recently figured out that Ace can play a bit by ear.  Zoe was teaching herself “The First Noel” and Ace heard her playing it and picked up on several different measures too.  That thrills this non-musically talented mama to no end.  This coming year we’ll add Liam to the lessons and Mark will start teaching Ace percussion as well.  He’s wanted to learn to play drums for quite some time and we have a live-in instructor so my house will be full of endless musical noise!

Excuse the spots.  I have no idea what was on our new camera lens.

Ge & Granddaddy made the trek up to hear them play (and deliver the wood for the boys’ beds…don’t worry, I’m getting there).

Let the travels begin

As stated previously, we went to Williamsburg in November.  This was my first trip (and the kids too) and we were all so excited.  We spent two days there and walked and walked and saw just about everything.  It definitely was a good trip for us and a great learning experience for the kids.  They only wore their costumes the first day.  Which was good because the second day it was cloudy and rather cool.

The princess in her chariot.

To the stocks with ye!

Sad lot!
Might I say, we went at a great time and were able to see some beautiful fall trees!  Bryant loved the leaves.

Lunch anyone!  This was the only way I could get him to allow me to take his picture.  

The hits for the girls:  The Millinery and the Weaver.  The boys:  the Gunsmith and the Battery.

We didn’t stay in Colonial Williamsburg but opted for a very affordable resort, The Historic Powhatan (not paid to say that…we paid them)  about ten minutes away (and a beautiful drive too).  I would recommend searching the travel discount sites for reservations here.  We got a great deal on a two bedroom, two bath condo.  It was a wonderful resort recommended by a friend.  They had an indoor pool and the rooms had a ton of space which was awesome for our size crew.  The first morning we were there, we drove out and saw the swan above just a swimming in the pond.  And then the geese.  Oh my, they took their sweet time crossing the road but it was so neat to be close to such lovely birds!