Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year...

Just wanted to tell you all Happy New Year! We wish all of you the best of God's blessings in the year to come. We are very blessed to have you in our lives. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Karl's Birthday

Well, today Karl turns 34...I'm no longer older than him. :)

We will be having a nice lunch, then German Chocolate cake with ice cream for his dessert. This has been his traditional birthday cake since he was a kid. Karl went out to see a movie for some 'him' time this morning, always a nice thing on your birthday. He'll be home soon, and we'll spend the day honoring him.

Happy birthday, darlin'! We love you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Coca-Cola Calamity...

Anyone wanna take a guess about what happened here?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wishy-Washy, part 2

Well...I am still researching curricula, even though I said I thought I would stick with HOD. I can't seem to make up my mind about what I should do. I am nervous about whether I can make it work once the baby is here. However, I won't be making any decisions (well, at least purchases) until about May, so I have time. I plan to move on in what we are using now, and evaluate how things go...then determine if it will work for next year. I'll have several more posts about this before I'm done...woo hoo, I know you all love my curriculum posts!...so maybe I can talk myself through this. Right now I'm checking on Ebay just to see what is available. I've also done Google searches regarding homeschool curriculum, both general and specific. There's a lot out there to sort through. I have to see waht's available to purchase, and whether I have some materials here at home that I can use....I have quite a bit, so I'd like to incorporate some of that. I'll be back to this subject in time. Still thinking, and researching, and praying...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Changes to blog...

I just want to let you all know, things may look different for a while. I'm trying to figure out a new 'look' for our web page, so when you log on don't be alarmed if it looks different. Hopefully I'll settle on something before long, but for now get used to the changes....


American Adventure series

The kids and I have a favorite series of books...historical fiction...that we've been reading through over the last year.The American Adventure series is a series of 48 books that tell all about American history, from the Mayflower to World War 11. We've read books 1-3 and book 6...now we're going back to finish 4 and 5 before moving on...when we began I did not have the entire set yet, so we just read what we had or could find at the library. At the used curriculum sale in May, I just happened to spy a box..the entire set...at someone's booth. I had been trying to purchase a full set on Ebay with no luck...I always lost the bid to someone willing to pay more $$$ than me...like $350-$500. Anyway, when I asked the lady at the booth how much and she said $50, I pounced on them. I know I never would have been able to find them elsewhere that cheaply. It was definitely a God thing. :) Now the first ones I found, before I even knew how great they are or how much in demand, I got at a used book store. Now that I have a full set, I don't need the extras, so I have listed them on Ebay. There are 18 of them...not in sequence. Check it out if you think you might be interested. Here's the link.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas...

and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse...

The kids are all tucked in, we've gotten the rest of the presents wrapped, and the stockings stuffed. Now, we're just waiting for morning so we can celebrate together. Although, we already celebrated a bit today. We had our traditional cocktail sausages, cheeseball with crackers, vegetable tray (served with a new dip taken from Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals), and wassail. We enjoyed all these yummy snacks while watching The Polar Express on DVD. It's the kids' favorite Christmas movie, and I have to admit Karl and I are big fans too. We never have been big on telling the kids about Santa...we have focused on Christmas being the celebration of Jesus' birth...but the movie still makes us choke up in spots. It's a great story, and of course we think Tom Hanks is great in his many roles. :)

We will finish up our reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens tomorrow hopefully...we've gotten a bit behind due to preparations for Christmas. We should have started it a little sooner...the book is quite verbose and has been quite a challenge to read aloud, even for me who LOVES to read!

I made my first made-from-scratch cheesecake today...for tomorrow's dessert. We'll see how it turns out...I also mixed up the stuffing, so all I have to add is the broth and raw eggs before popping it in the oven tomorrow. I still have to prepare our sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes (making these just because I wanted them!), gravy, green bean casserole, salad, and rolls. We have canned cranberry sauce...berries and no berries...so all I have to do for that is open and pour. And the rolls are brown-n-serve, so they'll be easy too. Karl is planning to make french toast for breakfast tomorrow morning, then we'll open gifts with the kids before starting our lunch preparations. Karl is in charge of the turkey, and will be using our rather large fryer ( a great gift from family...thanks so much!) to cook it in. He has some sort of cajun marinade to inject in it...I can't wait to taste it... The only real downside is he has had to shovel off the deck just to be able to get out there to cook! We had so much snow last week, and with the wind whipping it around, it had drifted so much that it was covering some of the glass in our slider. It's not supposed to be too cold tomorrow (high of 32, heehee) so that's a plus. :)

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stuff and Something...

Well, today is just going to be ramblings...whatever is on my mind, there's no specific agenda.

The kids just donned their snow gear and went out to play in the 19 degree temps. Don't worry, I limit their time outside when it's below 30...they'll have 'warmer' days later this week when they can stay out an hour or two at a time. Plus, they are old enough to feel uncomfortable and come in when they get too cold. I am planing to relax a bit. We finished school very early (earlier than lately anyway) today, so we had lunch and now it's playtime...which means computer time, and possibly Food Network for me...I enjoy watching Rachel Ray, Emeril, etc. on occasion. :)

We've almost completed the organization of the basement! Karl came home Thursday night, and he helped get it cleared out over the weekend. We have to have it done in time for the Lego Lambs party we are hosting next Sunday. It's just an end-of-the-season celebration for the kids that participated on Logan's team for First Lego League this year.

We've had a ton of snow since Friday...I don't know the actual inches, but Karl and I both think it was about 10 inches from Friday's storm alone...and we got a few more inches yesterday from a smaller storm, but there were very high winds yesterday. We could hear the wind whistling outside the windows most of the night. Corbin was scared of it when he went to bed last night, but he told me he felt better once Logan came into the room. (Corbin goes to bed earlier than Logan) We actually had to let him get up and sit at the bottom of the stairs because he was screaming and crying from fear...though Karl and I both question how much was fright and how much was his discontent with going to bed earlier than normal (due to disobedience) and missing the T.V. show that was on...? In any case, sitting on the stairs calmed him and he still had to miss the show.

I finally found my missing Christmas tree topper today. When we put up the tree and decorated it we decided it must have gotten broken. Last year on Christmas day we took a family photo in front of the tree. Amidst all this, our tree ended up falling over! Karl was able to get it back in place and finish the 'photo shoot' but we decided that our topper must have perished in the fall. However, in going through yet another box in the basement today I came upon it, so now our tree is complete. I'm glad we have a topper for this year, but I have to say I'm a little disappointed too because I was planning to have Karl take me to find a new one..I love to shop for almost anything....I doubt I can convince him of our need now! Oh well.

We're looking forward to our Christmas Eve and Christmas day together, although we wish some family and friends from across the country could have joined us. We wish all of you a blessed celebration....revel in the joy of Christ this season and all He's done for you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Petronas Towers

I'm back in the US now, but before leaving I made a side trip to Kuala Lumpur. While There I was able to visit the Sky Bridge of the Petronas Towers. Pretty cool place. These were listed as the world's tallest building until 2004 upon the completion on Taipei 101 (I hope to hit that one soon, as Thailand is also one of my countries of responsibility) The fascinating feature of these towers is the two story bridge that connects them at the 41st and 42nd floor. The lower level of the bridge serves as the observation deck of the buildings. This is a little less than half way up the building so the view is not quite as impressive as some of the other tall buildings I've had the opportunity to scale, but the buildings themselves are pretty cool. There is park outside which is very nice with many foot paths, a large fountain and even a small water park. At the base of the building is a 6 story shopping mall. I spent a little time in here getting some gifts for the family. I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which was right beside the towers (separated by only a sidewalk) so I went back out after dinner to see the towers at night. Wow. These buildings, when lit up... I could stare at them forever.

Fresh fish, caught to order

Went to a floating restaurant today. It wasn’t actually floating, it was at the end of a long pier in the water. Very nice open air restaurant. The menu was heavy on seafood, rice and noodles. after taking our order the waitress went over to a guy sitting at the entrance to the restaurant, on the walkway between it and the pier. She reads from the menu and begins pointing over the side of the pier. This little guy then begins fishing around with he net in the water, brings up some fish, and then picks them out of the net and drops them in a basket. The waitress then brings the newly filled basket to us and asked if these looked Ok.

All in all a pretty cool deal. Now I know that I posted once before about ordering seafood outside of the US, but when you’re hungry you’re hungry. Even still, a grouper is a pretty ugly fish when it’s alive. It doesn’t get any prettier when it’s cooked.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Things to do before baby's arrival...

Okay, this is just a list for myself, because I think it is not likely to get lost if it's on my blog....I will add to it as I think of things. Sorry, I'll try to post something more interesting to others next time!

  • arrange baby's room
  • organize baby clothes, and hang
  • purchase cradle bedding
  • pack hospital bag
  • find someone to stay with kids while I am in labor
  • create workable school schedule for once baby is here
  • paint boys' room...won't have time after arrival
  • purchase baby socks
  • stock up on diapers of various sizes; Newborn to 2
  • purchase Dr. Brown's bottles

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just call me wishy-washy!

Well, I have been reviewing our current materials...Heart of Dakota...via their web site and I have fallen in love with it all over again! After looking through books that I actually already had on hand concerning how to make your own homeschooling plan, I found two very good ones by Lorraine Curry: Easy Homeschooling Techniques and Easy Homeschooling Curriculum. I read most of both of them (again) over the last two nights and there is some wonderful information about how to create a schedule, what to use for each grade level, etc. And it does seem easy...so there may be a time when I will go on and try it via her 'method'. However, after looking at the HOD stuff again, I am excited about what the next weeks and months will bring for us. I already have the next level manual (for when we finish our current one) and it looks as if it really will be easier on me by then as far as schooling Logan and Hailey goes. It is moving them towards independence in many areas...and honestly, many of the books and methods used by the author are the very ones recommended by Lorraine Curry in the books aforementioned. So it seems I am at least consistent in the method I am drawn to for homeschooling...and it doesn't seem to be textbooks, even though that's mostly what I was looking at and speaking of in my last post. I am not saying we won't change anything, we may, but I think we will at least stick to HOD for now as a guide and change things as needed. However, I believe using it 'as is' will be what turns out to be easiest after all. Time will tell, once the baby is here and we see how it goes.

Today was a 'warmer' day...up to 46 degrees. So the kids and I were actually able to get in the car and go to church...we had not been anywhere until today since Karl left! Afterwards we went to Uno Chicago Grill for lunch, then Target and Tops (groceries) for some needed items. I spoke with Karl during lunch, and it was a very interesting conversation...he's having experiences he will never forget! But, I think I'll leave that for him to tell as he has time. :) After our shopping was completed we came home, unloaded the truck, and the kids went outside to play in our remaining snow (slush). Today and tomorrow are warmer days for us...tomorrow predicted to be into the 50's....might I wear a short-sleeved shirt?! I expect most of the snow in our yard to be melted by tomorrow afternoon. However, the warm weather will once again be gone by Tuesday morning as colder weather and more snow moves in. We have to go out tomorrow morning to mail some packages...then back home to start another week of school.

Well, that's it for now. I have to go get the kids ready for bed (okay they can get themselves ready, but you know what I mean!) and prepare myself and my snacks for the Survivor finale and the reunion show! Bye!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The fishing village of Semporna

Well I call it a village, but it is probably the closest thing to a city for 50 miles. The hotel in which I’m staying for the week is easily the most modern building in the region. It is not much different form any budget hotel in the states. It seems very out of place in this isolated community. It is located right on the river at what appears to be the main pier that all the fishing, crab and squid boats use to unload their catch each morning. Across the river is a small community that I will likely not have time to visit during my stay, but it appears to be very similar to this side of the river, only less developed. The people here are vey friendly. One thing that has been unexpected is the lack of people begging for money. For the most part, hello here simply means hello. The people here don’t have much, but they are getting by and seem to be content with what they have. This morning before work I took a walk out to the dock to watch the fishermen unload. Walking through the narrow alley between two rusted out tin roofed buildings I couldn’t help feeling a little bit out of place. But aside form a few quizzical looks from some of the people milling about, no one gave me a hard time. As I reached the end of jetty I heard the call of “hello friend” from one of the buildings. This appeared to be a small coffee shop that serviced the fishermen with breakfast and coffee after a night out on the water. They wanted to know whether I was American or Australian. Apparently this is also a decent dive spot, so they occasionally get young travelers here on daddy’s money taking a “find yourself” journey. We talked for a short while and I told him I was just out to look at the boats. He said, so come see them, and ushered me through the building to the other side where more squid boats were docked. He also posed for a picture. Nice folks, but I have work to do. I’m off.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well that's fishy

Woke up at about 4:45 am local time and got re-packed and ready to go. Arrived at the Airport and checked in. at about 6:00. on the way to the terminal I noticed a funny thing.

Yup, a fish market right there inside the airport. Crazy.

Loaded up on the plane for the last leg of my trip, KK to Tawau. On the 3rd day of the trip I’m finally ready to get to work… just as soon as I make the hour long drive from Tawau to Semporna.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

overnight stay in KK

From Singapore I traveled across to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Sabah region in Malaysian Borneo. From the air, the landscape is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with beautiful green countryside and oddly shaped cloud topped mountain peaks jutting out of nowhere. A coastal area, I hear it is one of the top rated dive spots in the world. After landing was a different story all together. The small part of the city that I saw was quite run down. I wouldn’t call it extreme poverty, but is definitely 3rd world. Little shacks dotted the road on the way to the hotel. As we passed onto the hotel property it was like entering an entirely new country. There was no more trash scattered on the roadway, no more pot holed half paved streets. All that was visible was the pristine shoreline and distant peaks. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but this little hotel and the surrounding grounds are exactly how I would imagine one of the upscale Hawaiian resorts to look. The first thing I thought when I got there (after the initial shock of “where did this place come from all of a sudden?”) was what a waste to be staying at a place like this without Wendy. The second thought was what a waste that I was way too tired and short on time to enjoy any of the amenities. I wanted nothing more than the bed and the shower. I had a flight to catch at 7:00 the next morning to Tawau, but I had to take a walk around the property before the sun set just to take a few pictures. Maybe Wendy and I can come back some day and do a little diving and whatever else there is to do around here.
Behind the hotel

The pool deck area with sunset in the background

Little Tiki Bar on a jetti pininsuila

Back to School

Well, after what seems like eternity, we have finally gotten back to our Heart of Dakota materials for school. We took a break from that starting with the week of our move, and due to moving in, unpacking, and a week-long Thanksgiving vacation we are just now getting back into the 'groove'. The kids have been working on handwriting, english, math, and doing lots of reading the whole time...but now we get to add back in the activities and read alouds for science, history, and story time. So far, it's been a good transition. We still have several things to do in the house to be considered completely moved in, but we're good for the most part. I'm hoping to get a lot of it done while Karl is away on his trip. I still have 7 days until he returns, so I think I can do it. :) I do still need to begin getting up at a regular (earlier) time, but we're still able to get all our stuff done...there's no going anywhere right now since I am not driving in the snow, so it doesn't really matter when we start or finish. I just feel better when we get started and finish earlier in the day.

I have been researching other curricula...which seems to be a constant pass time of mine, even when I'm happy with what we're using. I don't know if it's a constant need for change, a desire to make sure we aren't missing the perfect curriculum, or just a desire to find things I can add that are exciting...who knows? The problem is, I never seem to add the things I download for that purpose, because we don't really have a lot of time for that even with no extracurriculars on our schedule. The main reason I am searching now is because I am concerned that HOD will be difficult to use when the baby is here. We will finish out the year with it, so I'll have 3 months to try it with her in the house, but I want to research now so I'll be prepared if I feel we need to go with something different. Some things I am looking at are: Christian Light Education, Abeka, Core Knowledge, Landmark Baptist, Rod and Staff (we already use their English and the kids do great with it), Robinson Curriculum, A-Squared Homeschool Curriculum, and The Classics Curriculum. What I'm really looking for is something that will free me up to work on reading and math with Corbin, and of course to spend the time with the baby that I'll need. For now, Corbin has just begun using http://www.time4learning.com/ and is doing pretty well. It's done on the computer, has reports that I can look at so we can go back and work on something if he struggled, and it's self-paced. I think it'll be a good fit for now...and we'll get to LHTH with HOD if and when I carve out time in our schedule. So, it's a lot to consider. I definitely want the older to to begin to learn to be more independent, and we've already been doing that with English, math, and handwriting. I am of course available if they have questions about anything. So, if there are any of you in cyber-land that have used these curricula in the past, I would love to hear from you about how it worked, or didn't work, for you. I love personal recommendations, either for or against. I am also considering creating my own curriculum using the many things we already have on hand...I think I could do it but I also have a lot of self-doubt. We just have so much great stuff to teach from, I hate to keep buying curricula, adding to our piles of teaching materials, and not using what we already have. I may research that too...I know there are books available that tell you how to put together your own plan. I may need to make a trip to the library...or the bookstore.

Well, it's getting close to dinner-time. I need to get something on the stove so I can feed my hungry babies...and me too! Until next time...adieu!

Never Waste a Layover

For any one who doesn't know, I’m Karl. Wendy’s hubby of 13 years. I’m currently on my first trip to the Far East since taking over the region as program manager. I will be spending a majority of my time on Borneo Island at the eastern tip of Malaysia. I’ll try to post snippits of the trip on Wendy’s site as time permits.

I Arrived in Singapore after a nonstop flight from Newark, NJ. This was an interesting flight on Singapore Airlines, as the entire plane is configured for business class seating. I’ll go ahead and say it. I don’t care how nice the seats are, 19 hours is a long time to be on a plane. Landing meant time to stretch my legs.

I had an 8 hour layover here before traveling to my final destination in Tawau, Malaysia, and not wanting to spend it in an airport terminal, I decided to take a taxi downtown. I did not know this, but the country of Singapore is not much more than the size of a large US city. It sits right middle of the two main land masses of Malaysia and is separated on all sides by water. The city proper is very clean and modern. Once downtown, you really wouldn’t know you were outside of the states. It was Just before 7 am local time when I arrived, and most of the downtown area was closed. Because of this I had the Taxi driver drop me off a couple miles outside the downtown area in a residential area that contained a shopping district that he said was open 24 hours. This particular strip reminded me of some of the costal areas of Mexico and the Caribbean, and is probably where most of the locals do their day to day shopping. Interesting side note. I had something happen to me that I never experienced before. When the taxi let me out the meter read 20RM. (RM is shorthand for Renggit, the local currency). After giving the driver 24 he said "you gave me more." and haded back the extra 4. I never thought I'd live to meet a cabbie that didn't accept tips!

From here I hoofed it to the downtown harbor area, which was beginning to open for business by the time I arrived. In a previous post I think I remember writing about my ride on the London Eye, created as the largest ferris wheel on the planet. As cool as it was, I remember being slightly disappointed that by the time I got to it, a larger one had already been constructed… in Singapore. So on my way downtown I walked through Singapore’s new creation, the Singapore Flyer, which was of course built a few meters taller than the one in London making it the new largest. But as is the case with all record breakers, they are due to be one day broken themselves. Dubai is currently working on the Great Dubai Wheel which is due for completion next year.
This was taken from one of the overpass walkways on my trek downtown. That’s the other tip off that you’re out of the states. Everyone drives on the left side of the street. I really like those trees.

This is me across the harbor from the business district on my way downtown. Notice the little white objects in the water behind me. I was told that they are wishing balls. They are the size of large beach balls. The idea is that you pay a little bit of money to write your wish for the upcoming year on one of them and set it afloat in the harbor. I’m not sure if this is an old tradition or a new idea thought up to raise money for charity, but is seems fun. Also note the little white post over my left shoulder on the opposite bank. This is a Mer-Lion. The next picture is a closer view of this, but I just wanted to give a sense of perspective to the distances of the pictures.

This is a closer shot of the Mer-Lion, guarding the downtown harbor area. It is a half Lion half fish combo (think Mermaid, but fuzzier) and is apparently a national symbol of Singapore. Since taking this pic, I’ve seen a couple in tourist brochures taken from a different angle to make it appear as if the water from its mouth is flowing into the open mouth of a person in the foreground. I wish I had thought of that. Oh well, maybe next time.

After getting my morning exercise I hopped back into a cab for the next leg of my journey that would take me for an overnight stay in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Overall, it was a great morning. I think my new travel motto will be “Never waste a layover.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Lego League Tournament...

The competition was fierce yesterday at the First Lego League Championship Tournament, but our team did very well. We did not win the championship title, but the Lego Lambs did come home with 2 trophies (for the team) for second highest in points and most innovative robot design. Here is an article if you'd like to read more...it includes a photo of two of our team members. We also hear we were on the nightly news...captured collecting one of our trophies! Cool stuff. :) I found a link to that too...we are the team in the dark aqua shirts...shows just a brief glimpse.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Such a cutie...

I have something cute I want to share that Corbin said today. :)

We finally bought Wall-E and watched it today. During a scene that shows the Milky Way galaxy Corbin tells Logan, "The Milky Way..where the aliens can get milk." I just thought his innocence was so cute..he'll learn all about the world soon enough, and I'm still enjoying his fresh, untouched perspective!

We also got our Christmas tree up and decorated today, and it looks very nice. Now it really is beginning to feel like Christmas! We've gotten our Christmas shopping done..just have to send some packages to family members. And I do still have to wrap the kids presents....we'll save that 'til just before Christmas day. We're gonna work hard at 'school' for the next two weeks, then we'll be off again until after New Year's Day We'll start back once Karl returns to work in the new year. And then, of course, we have Hailey and Logan's birthdays. They want us to go to Splash Lagoon again; I'm not sure if we're planning to do that or not. It was fun, so maybe we will. I have to do shopping for that too, but I'll wait for the after-Christmas sales to try to get some good deals!

Well, I have to keep an eye on dinner. Have a great weekend everyone, and keep Logan's team in your prayers His big competition for Lego League is tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back from vacation

Just a quick post to say that we are safely back home...after a great week with family in the beautiful mountains! I had such fun playing with my nephew, talking with family members, eating (so MUCH) delicious food, and generally relaxing. It was cold, but about 15 degrees warmer than in NY when we left, so it felt almost 'tropical'. :)

Karl has one more day off before reporting back to work. We spent the day today just getting things back in place from our trip and also catching up on bills, unpacked the last boxes in the kitchen, and de-cluttered a bit. Tomorrow he will take Hailey to the eye doctor, we will go get some much-needed groceries, and I think Logan has Lego League tomorrow night. His team is doing awesome by the way, winning two trophies at the qualifying meet, and will move on to the regional competition that occurs on Sunday.

We will dive right back in to school, full-time, on Wednesday until about the 20th of December. I do plan to spend a little time making some sugar cookies with the kids, decorating for Christmas, and planning our Christmas dinner, too.

I'll be back to post more soon, but right now we're getting kids to bed so we can catch up on the T.V. shows we missed while on vacation!