Friday, August 01, 2014

5 and a half Sidge


Dear Sidge,

Today you turn 5 and a half. 

We sang Happy half birthday to you yesterday and you couldn't help but let that beautiful smile spread over your face.

I think back to the evening in an Indian restaurant near Eglin Air Force Base that we chose your name. Elijah meant passion. And Luke was the physician in the Bible. We thought it was a great combination. 
Of course we had no idea that your big brother would call you Sidge-uh because he couldn't pronounce Elijah and that you would insist that Sidge be your name so persistently that we had no choice but to stop calling you the awesome Bible name we picked out for you.

I think back to the day we found out we were pregnant with you. You were never supposed to happen. You were not supposed to be. You were the child we thought we could not have. And then suddenly, there you were. A heartbeat on an ultrasound that had your father who was running the machine speechless. (That doesn't happen much.)

I think back to the day you were born and am so grateful for the amazing doctors and nurses who saved your life that day. You weren't crying. You weren't breathing. I thought we'd lost you before we had you. And they did everything just right and suddenly you were screaming and I was holding you.

You love legos and superheroes and playing with your siblings. You know how to ride a bike and swim and you've tried roller blades a few times. You are a thinker and a dreamer and just like your name ... you are passionate about anything and everything you do. You are starting kindergarten this year at home with me. You are constantly making us laugh with your animated hand gestures and the way you say things. 

I love you sweet boy. I love your big blue eyes. And I absolutely LOVE being your Mom.





Friday Funnies

Okay folks, let's get your guesses! What does the new ER doctor have on his head?! Leave a comment!

My father commented on my last "Friday Funnies" that Sidge seems to dominate the funnies. I think that is true. Abigail is just starting to say funny things, but her's are still too subtle to always capture on Friday Funnies. Isaac is a bit older and not making the "play on language" statements that little brother is. He also has a dryer sense of humor which is sometimes harder to put onto page. I often get something that I think I can put on Friday Funnies -- but when I try to write it, I just can't get the funny to come across very clearly. So for now, I suppose we'll let Sidge steal the show. Here's some Sidge -- with a little bit of Abigail.

*****

Yesterday Sidge asked me to help him build a rocket out of legos.
Me: "Um, I think I need a picture to do that. I'm not a master builder. I need a picture."
Sidge: "No problem. I have a picture right in my mind."

*****

Sidge and I were working through this worksheet below:


Me: "What do you put flowers in?
Sidge: "A flower?"
Me: "No. What do you put it in?"
Sidge: "A vase."
Me: "Okay. Now, read number 2. You like to eat me. What am I?"
Sidge: "A plate?"
Me: "A plate! Sidge! No. What would you eat in that picture?"
Sidge: "Oh. A cake."
Me: "Right. Number three. I fix a torn page. What am I?"
Sidge: "Toilet paper."
Me: "Seriously?"
Sidge: "Okay, tape."
Me: "And number four. What do you use to pile leaves?"
Sidge: "A game? Ha ha. Isn't that funny Mommy?"

It wasn't until the last one that I realized he'd been pulling my leg the entire time.

*****

JB pretended to eat Abigail's pillow. "Oh mannnnn," Abigail said. "You gotta be kidding me."

*****

Abigail asked to put her play stethoscope on my heart. "It's still beeping," she replied.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Moving update

So all of our stuff is here. After an intense box counting extravaganza, it appears that ALL of the boxes are indeed here in our home -- they were just badly numbered, not numbered, or the numbers not communicated when they were brought in.

However, the mold is a bit worse than we originally thought. While it is nothing like some of our other military families are experiencing right now, we still faced some damage.

We had a claims adjuster come by today. Apparently, the "minor" mold that is on our awesome king sized bed is not minor at all. The adjuster thought it was pretty bad and said we would have to replace the entire bed and that we should not be sleeping on it anymore. Ugh! My bed! I had been so excited to get that back!

The boys mattresses are also a loss as are our dining room chairs. We also lost a smattering of pictures and wooden trays.

Our handmade Turkish rugs were also effected, but there is someone who can clean these in Nashville.

I also have to wash every single piece of clothing that comes through due to mold/mildew smells. We'll have to dry clean anything that cannot be washed. Apparently this is also reimbursable. I am supposed to keep track of how many loads I am doing and a portion of the electricity costs are reimbursed. Go figure!

We also had about 5 or 6 items that were damaged that they will have to fix including our Turkish desk, an end table, and a picture.

Oh and hardware! We can't find hardware to my desk, the crib, the dining room table and a patio table. Some of these can have the hardware purchased, but some, the pieces are so obscure, it is nearly impossible. So they have to just trash these items and buy us new ones. Seems like such a waste, but no idea how else to do it.

None of these in and of itself are bad but trying to add to your unpacking list is a real pain! Trying to wash everything you own and keep up on normal laundry and trying to assess for mold and move those things out is a lot to do! I can only IMAGINE what the families who had nearly their entire shipment damaged are going through. Our's is nothing compared to that.

But life IS crazy right now. Hannah has a BAD cold, and Abigail is not feeling well. Thank goodness Mom is here to help right now as trying to have a new walker in a house being unpacked is less than ideal.

So ready to get this last military move WAY behind us!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

So ....

.... We have STUFF!

It was quite a day!

To begin with, we found out yesterday that JB had misread his work schedule and has to work. Praise The Lord that Grama K. was here with me!

So JB left at 630am for work, and movers were scheduled to arrive between 9 and 11am. We had everything timed perfectly for Hannah to go to sleep right when they got here, but then they called and said it would actually be between 12 and 1. So that plan went kaput.

But they finally arrived and even though it wa only mom and me and 12 crates and 4 kids and 1 dog, we did it!

There was no major mold, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't any. We appear to be missing many boxes and they can't find the hardware for most of our things that need to be out together .... But at least we have our stuff in our house.

Time for bed! I'll write more tomorrow.

Graden goodies!

Look what we harvested from our backyard garden:


You know I never grew up gardening, but I have to wonder, why doesn't everyone do this? It is so easy and nearly completely FREE! With food prices the way they are I'd encourage everyone to consider a garden of some sort -- no matter how little land you have. I am really looking forward to getting our farm, not having a baby that I have to stay inside with, and being outside all the time working in the garden. I believe JB has finally won me over to this awesome activity!

Also, here is a video of Abigail with her favorite garden goodie: Tomatoes. I really attribute her absolute love for these tomatoes to my housekeeper in Turkey, Hatice, who would let her eat them like apples. It seemed "weird" to us, but I believe it developed a love in her of tomatoes unlike anything I see in my other kids:

Bird Watching


Boys just did this ...


I love books like this! We have been using this for our daily writing. Bought it at the $1 store for, you guessed it, $1! The boys just finished their books yesterday.

Diaper Coupon

My sister-in-law let me in on a great coupon yesterday online!

Want to get two boxes of Huggies or Pampers (giant size) for about the price of one?

  1. Go to Target.com
  2. Search for "Giant Diapers"
  3. You'll get a choice of diapers with a notation underneath them that if you buy 2 packs, you get a $20 gift card.
  4. So already you have saved $20 on two packs, but it gets better. When you go to check out, click on IN STORE PICK-UP and choose your store.
  5. There is another promotional deal for $10 off an order of $40 or more that will pop up when you place the order.
  6. So basically, the diapers were $73.51. I saved $30 with the two coupons meaning I got the two boxes for $43.51. (One box is generally about $35.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Just finished

Per my Facebook friends' recommendations, I just finished my second book on their recommendation list: The Time Traveler's Wife. You can see the complete list of recommended books by clicking here. 

I did watch the movie first, and I know that skew how one feels about a book. Overall I enjoyed this book. I did feel that she sort of really ruined a great love story by throwing in some word usage that seemed to cheapen the relationship between the main characters. It also would prohibit me from wholeheartedly recommending the book or allowing my teenage daughter to read it. 

But I did enjoy it! Two out of three starts for this one!




Cow colored dog with cow


Charlotte Mason Homeschool

While I have been sort of "homeschooling" the boys for some time, this past week, we actually started on our first year curriculum.

I have decided to document what I am doing with our homeschooling in detail. This is so that other people can see it, yes, but also, even more, that I can remember what I did when it comes time to homeschool Abigail.

Please note: I am NOT trying to recruit anyone else to homeschool. Honestly, and I mean this wholeheartedly, I really couldn't care less if you homeschool your kid or put them in public school or private school. Your decision doesn't effect me, and I really just don't care! A friend asked me last week, "Do you think I should homeschool?" And I jokingly told her, "I really don't care!" I followed that up by explaining that I obviously think it is best for my kids or I wouldn't be doing it, but I am not on some crusade to get other people to feel the same way. Do what you want! Do what is best for your child. 

I was not a homeschool kid and I turned out just fine! Same goes for my husband and most of the other wonderful adults I know.

If I am being entirely honest, I think I'd rather keep homeschooling a bit more of a "novelty", because part of why I like it is that we can attend things during the school year that aren't very crowded. If everyone was homeschooling, I couldn't do that! :)

I will be posting things on my blog (statistics regarding homeschooling and other such things) in the future. However, it is important to note that things I list are not designed to discredit the success of the school system. That is not my job, and I have no desire to get into any debates with people regarding what is best. I will be listing facts on this blog simply to add to the validity of homeschooling. Many people believe homeschooling education is not as good as a public/private school education. I do not want to discredit the school system. I want to credit the homeschooling environment. 

I definitely believe that my children are getting as good of an education. If you don't believe that they are, I don't care! What I am posting is for people who are interested in homeschooling. If you aren't interested, then just don't read the posts (or just don't care what you read!)

Okay, off my little high horse now and onto the real reason I am writing this post.

My boys are starting kindergarten, and I want to keep a great record of what we are doing year by year.

We decided to use a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. My friend Carla first introduced me to the idea, and when I was struggling to decide whether to use a curriculum this first year or just "wing it", she reminded me of the idea. 

Why Charlotte Mason? Well, we like it. But secondarily, we were able to get the curriculum FREE online. At least in the beginning, we didn't want to pay a lot of money for curriculum until we were absolutely sure what it was we wanted to do.

The website that you can obtain ALL of this information from is found here: Ambleside Online. Please note that this website was done BY FREE for some mothers who loved the curriculum. They have a note up on the website that says they are improving the website. I don't want to complain about something that was done by volunteers, but the website is VERY difficult to navigate around (and I really hope they change it.)

The first thing we did was decide what year to start on. Technically, Charlotte Mason, would suggest that our boys be YEAR 0. She really doesn't recommend doing anything formally for another year. However, we decided to go ahead start our boys in YEAR 1. (We have already held Isaac back a year to be in the same grade as Sidge, so we felt like they were ready to do more than Year 0 dictated.)

Year 1 has an overview curriculum that you can follow either by breakdown or by chart. We then took that and decided to create our own chart as illustrated below. We are putting one of these up on the refrigerator each week for each of the boys.


Please note: If you would like a word copy of this chart, I would be HAPPY to email one to you. Simply email me at wendi@wendikitsteiner.com to request a word copy of the chart we are using for your own use. Don't try to recreate it. Get mine and use it!

The State of Tennessee requires 180 days of homeschooling per year and each day must encompass 4 hours of schooling. So that is how we broke up our week. The chart above indicates what we are spending time on each week. We give ourselves five days to work. Then we use day six for anything that doesn't get done int he five allocated days.

A few notes about our chart:

DAILY ACTIVITIES:
  • MATH: We are using CIMT Math. Why? Well, for now, because it is free.
  • WRITING: For writing, we are simply having the kids practice their letters and numbers each day.
  • READING: For reading, we are having the kids read to us or to themselves for a set number of minutes each day.
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION: can be ANYTHING! Our favorites are the pool, the zoo, the park, open-gym gymnastics down the street, etc.
  • POETRY READING: is from A Child's Garden of Verses. My kids really enjoy these.
  • BIBLE VERSE: is simply a verse a week that we are picking and having the kids practice each day.
  • iPAD LEARNING TIME: for us includes three programs: Homer (30 minutes), ABC Mouse (15 Minutes), and Teach Me (15 minutes). I have become a HUGE fan of Homer (approximately $8 a month). My kids are learning so much from this program, and it is hands-down the best one we use at this point. Isaac saw Brail on the outside of the hotel room the other day and said, "Homer taught me that this is for blind people to read." I go back and forth with ABC Mouse ($8 a month) but Teach Me is incredibly great because it is the cheapest of all the program ($2 total to buy the app.)
WEEKLY READINGS:
  • Each of the books discussed in our "Weekly Readings" section can be found on this page. We found all of them free or we checked them out at our local library. Our goal has been to avoid spending money on curriculum whenever possible this year as we learn the ropes.
WEEKLY ACTIVITIES:
  • PICTURE STUDY: is simply JB printing out and discussing some of the greatest pieces of art of all time with them. They discuss one a week. The first week he did Starry Night.
  • DRAWING: Once a week we have the kids spend time drawing.
  • CRAFT: JB's Mom is doing a weekly craft with the kids. (Thank the LORD for Grama!)
  • NATURE STUDY: is simply doing something in nature. JB is doing this with them periodically throughout the week.
  • MUSIC: We are considering attending a weekly music class with the kids. Otherwise, for now, we are listening to and discussing a different composer each week. Very simple.
  • SCIENCE: is a weekly video. Right now we are using The Magic School Bus.
  • GEOGRAPHY: I am letting the kids do a fun game online to learn the States. We study maps and learn the States song. Right now we are focussing on the Continents and U.S. States.
  • HISTORY: We are watching a weekly video called Liberty Kids.

So this is what we are starting with. Have questions? I'd love to answer them! And again, I am not interested in debating whether homeschooling is best or not. If you don't think it is, NO PROBLEMO ... don't do it! No pressure from me at all. 

My homeschooling pages are designed for people genuinely interested in doing it and learning from me as I go.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Turkish & Nashville

I thought I'd want to eat out more after not eating out much at all for four years. I had told JB that I thought it would be the hardest thing for me to not splurge on when it came to following our budget. But truthfully? I've really lost a taste for American restaurants. After so many years of not eating at them, they are proving to be a little too decadent and rich and greasy for me.

However, one thing I think JB and I will always enjoy is a good ethnic restaurant. Thai and Indian are our favorites, but we heard about a Turkish restaurant about thirty minutes from us and decided to give it a try.

Firstly, the food was plentiful and outstanding. Since it was the first date we've had in about two months, I splurged and got a Coke. I forgot that it wouldn't just be one Coke in a can delivered to my table! Free refills?! I had totally forgotten about free refills.

Secondly, I realized that if I am going to eat out in the USA, I really want to try to frequent "Mom & Pop" establishments. I have nothing against chain restaurants (like Olive Garden) but if I am going to spend money, it feels a lot better spending it in support of someone who is making a life for himself in that building. This Turkish man has been in America for 25 years now and has been successfully running this restaurant for 13 of those years. In addition, the waitress explained to us that she had ended up in the Nashville area after falling on hard times and that this Turkish family had basically saved her life by giving her this job and helping her get on her feet.

It was fun to get to practice some of my Turkish again and reflect on our wonderful two years in that amazing country! JB was a little disappointed that they didn't sell Raka which is a very popular Turkish drink. But according to the owner, liquor licenses are way too difficult to obtain.

After dinner, we headed to a nearby town for dessert where we stumbled upon filming for a scene from the TV show Nashville. I think I heard of the show but had to look it up when I got home to see if I was remembering correctly. Either way, that was a sort of fun end to the evening. We sat outside a little fudge shop eating chocolate and watching filming and just enjoyed a few hours knowing the kiddos were safe with Grampa and Grama.


I continue to enjoy experiencing and seeing America through "new eyes." So much has changed in the four years I have been gone. The biggest differences are the way people dress and the abundance of technology everywhere you go. I really love this country even if I think the girls are dressing way too risque and there are way too many people on their devices everywhere I go!