I've said yes to being a mama three times and now I'm on a year long adventure of home schooling my children while living in Arkansas. Please join us as we find new adventures.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back to SF

Okay, so I've moved the family to Arkansas for a year. Orginal plan: come back to San Francisco August 2011. How silly I am to still think my plan will be what really happens. This weekend, we had planned to go to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas to mine for diamond (little child labor with the chance of bringing home some diamonds=good messy fun). After a message from family with news of the death of Uncle Sherman, I knew it was time for a new plan. With less than a week, I booked flights and packed all the necessities for all five of us.
After we spent $600 per person on a flights, I couldn't imagine us returning after just a weekend in SF. Daddy-o had to be back a work by Tuesday but us homeschoolers have an open schedule.  If we stayed just the weekend, I might not even get a chance to see my mom or my best friend, let alone catch up with countless other friends. At first, I was going to stay an extra week with the kids by myself. After I almost booked the flights, daddy-o added, "oh yeah, I have to come out for a meeting at the end of that week."
Okay, new plan!  We stay until Thankgiving-ish. When I booked the flights, I had the option of either Thanksgiving day with the same direct  flights ( 4 hours) or Friday with four different hops totaling over 13 hours. Easy decision.
Before I could book a flight, I had to thinking about accomodations. We rented our house since we were moving for the whole year. We had been gone about a month now and here we were coming back to town with no place to live.  Feeling a little homeless, I was a bit hesitant to book the trip without somewhere to land with three small kids.
After  I talked to friends and family, I learned that I had a few option so I booked the flights. As the trip got closer, the final plan emerged by itself. (Thank you to MamaJ for the boat offer and Keri for the last minute slumber party offer and Terry & Paul for the house!)
After the beautiful memorial service and family time on Saturday, I was lucky enough to hear about the marionette show being performed at school on Sunday.  We needed to come to visit our house to get some things we forgot to pack (read: Christmas stockings) so we thought we'd take care of both things with one trip.
The kids and I taken by number 1

Right now, staying at a friend's house in San Francisco, I feel like I'm on vacation paired with a whirlwind tour. We have been to both Crissey Field beach and Baker Beach.We have eaten at some of our family favorite restaurants and have a plan for the rest. While drinking in the fall sun, I'm trying to enjoy all the little San Francisco moments with the kids while I can.We arrived just before the show started. Ben found a spot next to a friend. After a little coordinating, I found a spot for Edie to sit with them too. While watching the show, little tears came to my eyes as I was reminded the sacrifice of leaving this magical school we are blessed to attend. It's easy to become busy and forget the beauty which is out there for all of us. Their teachers have welcomed Ben and Edie for a brief cameo at school.  Ben is getting to enjoy a little Indian days (perhaps my favorite Kindergarten theme) and a bit of rock star status coming back from being gone. Edie was happy to see her friends but she was overwhelmed by all of them at once.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Biker Gang

So this Edie of ours had been on her Like-a-Bike since before she was two. She had been interested in the pedal bike for a few months. If we gleaned anything from Ben's learning to ride moment, it is that children need to have both feet on the ground to be able to ride a pedal bike without training wheels successfully and confidently. Now that's she's finally grown into Big Bill (Ben's old bike), she taught herself to ride it. All she needed was about 3 days of riding and riding around the court to cement it into her body.
At first, she needed a push start to get going. After the second day of happily riding, she showed me she figured out how to start on her own. She put the pedal bike on the hilly grass near the sidewalk and let it slowly roll while she took her feet from the ground and got to her pedals. (Pretty good lesson on friction) Now she can do that trick anywhere.

So yesterday, I floated the idea of biking to the library. Now that I check google maps, the trip is .9 mile each way.  Not sure I would have considered if I had known the exact length.  The kids were excited and we set out after second breakfast (yes be tend to be a little hobbit like in our eating habits!)

We made it to the library in about 15 minutes. We enjoyed story time and ate our yogurt snack afterward on the benches out front. (Sam choked on a potato chip and vomited the contents of his stomach. Low point of the day so far!) We washed up inside and then hit the trail for home.

Ben led the way and we kept Edie in the middle for saftey. She did a good job of staying right and pedaled and pedaled. As we made our final turn off of F st. a two lane road with no dividing line and onto the protected sidewalk on Central Avenue (our busy street) we had a moment of panic (from me) and a moment of brilliance (from Edie).

I saw the garbage truck on Central as we were coming toward the corner. For a second, I thought if he turned I wonder how far he might come across the lane towards us. A split second later, I realized that garbage truck was turning the corner (no blinker) and fast. Well, then when I started screaming towards Edie to stop or watch out (who knows what I was saying?!?!). I stopped my bike while wearing Sam in the Ergo and the garbage truck stopped. I'm sure he didn't see Edie but maybe stopped from the look for horror on my face and all my screaming.

When I realized that Edie was safely around the garbage truck's bumper (no thanks to the driver!), I  started pedaling around the garbage truck as he got back on to his side of the road. I needed to catch up with Edie.  When I got close to her, she called back to me, "Mama, wasn't that good that I didn't get hit by the garbage truck?"

All I could say was "yes, that was good."

After we got back, I asked her if she could hear me yelling for her. And she said,"No, my angels told me to go on the grass. And then I didn't get hit by the garbage truck. Wasn't that good, mama?"

Thank goodness for angels!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

All dressed up

So Ben has been pining for a police uniform for months now.  He happily pulled an "uniform" out of his regular clothes (tan shorts paired with a navy blue polo shirt) for his birthday last month. Alas, he had found a Halloween catalogue on it's way to the recycle bin and he been carrying it around all dreamy about the realistic looking costumes. If they weren't so expensive ($50 and up), I could justify getting him a few and letting him wear them throughout the year. Goodness knows, my kids certainly get enough wear out of all of their costumes. And anything for Ben gets a good trickle down of two other kids.

So I spent the big bucks on a costume for Ben and he's over the moon when it arrives. He wears it all day, except meals when he slips out of it so it won't get dirty. I catch sight of him trying to direct the cars as they drive by. Very cute!  He was waiting for his neighbor friends to come home so he could let them have their turn getting caught. Watch out G court, the law is out and he's stalking you!

Between the two of them, Ben and Edie broke and then decided to share the plastic handcuffs that came with the uniform. Yes, that means just one cuff per kid but they have imagination big enough to make up the other half! Before that, Edie made her own handcuffs using banded together hairbands (rainbow colors!) At mama school, ingenuity reigns supreme.

With weeks to go, Edie is still saying she will be a dragon (a hand-me-down costume in our dress up reserves) and sometimes adds she will be a police dragon. Everyone needs a side kick, even if it's your little sister dressed as a dragon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Double Edged Sword

I didn't realize how much I was anticipating the arrival of our things. Probably had a little something to do with me only having 2 pairs of shoes here and one pair were flip flops. The morning crept like it never does for me. Then I got a call from ABF to let me know they were on their way to deliver my cubes of goodies. Happy Happy day!

The kids watched as the truck unloaded the forklift and were running around on the sidewalk trying to watch as the forklift move the containers into place. I realized that since they are small they can't see it all but they also want to get close enough to see all the details. So to not miss anything,  they are like little ants running around after you step in their path. 

At one point, the forklift was adjusting the placement and the heavy container was sagging on the forklift, making the whole thing shake. Ben was pointing and was laughing  and said, "That's the heavy one." (one container was full while the other had just a few things.) I guess physics is getting inside him somehow.

My goal was to get the cubes unpacked into the house and try to unload at least 10 boxes. With a little help from our friends and kids (thanks James and Gracie) we made quick work on unloading the cube into the house. I said we, but when I comes to moving that means Bryan.  I stayed inside with Sam and worked on unpacking some quick boxes or routing things.  The kids road their bikes and carried the camping gear into the garage. Ben even started working on his own creation of a bike stand, which may need some redesigning. 

The house is still a wreck from the moving but I unpacked at least 15 boxes.  Well, that's the double edged sword for today. So good to see everything but man, are we inundated with our own stuff?!?!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

IFest in Fayettevile

Can you say free field trip? Good way to make a mama school happy! This was a great educational moment at cut rate prices!! Thanks to everyone at University of Arkansas's entomology department. The bugs rocked the house!

First, can I repeat free fun for kids?!? Ben's likes them alright as long as he doesn't have to touch them but Edie really does love them. Sam's is still just along for the ride. So I take the kids for a ride to Fayetteville so we can see this bug thing.

So we find the place, decked out with huge signs for bus parking and drop off. We arrived in the afternoon to avoid the possible throngs of public school kids. Us mama schoolers can play and picnic and arrive for fun after it's died down a bit.  

The building was a huge barn, which looked like they used it for horse shows, complete with stadium seating to watch the show. Today, the bugs were the show and the kids had the run of the place. We saw water bugs, food bugs, wood bugs, bees,  butterflies and even a bunch of spiders. They even had some interactive exhibits where the kids could touch or pretend to do a bee dance. The insect show was not to be missed. People size realistic bugs were singing and dancing and teaching the kids what they do in real life.  Backed up with a live trio!

What a fun day! And the icing on the cake...we got to play and picnic with friends before and even have Thai dinner out! Long fun day plus no dishes makes one happy mama!

Ben's new hole

and it's not in the yard, like usual. With the  change of the seasons, we also have the change of the teeth around here.

Flashback, to the first days of August, Road trip to my grandma's farm in Iowa. We picked a big bag of apples from her tree to make some sauce and I let each kid have one apple to chew on the trip home. I had to call my grandparents later and warn them about those hard apples they were growing...

So these teeth have been wiggling for a few months. He was even growing in "shark teeth"  behind his wiggly ones.  Thanks goodness the wiggly phase is over and now we hope the teeth will find their rightful place in his mouth.

Since I knew I would need supplies for a good tooth fairy experience, I planned ahead. I gather some Fairy dust from good source while home in San Francisco (Thanks Nicola!) I also kept the special tooth box Ben had received from an Auntie years before (Thanks Caroline!) I had set aside some special money, or so I had thought. 

Near catastrophe for the tooth fairy...
In the afternoon, I look in my computer bag where I thought I stashed the special coins. After bed, I thoroughly look everywhere but no money for this fairy! Then I called my husband and sent him out looking. I asked my FB friends for suggestions. I texted all my neighbors. I even called my mom. No special money within driving distance. Just when I had given up hope and was coming up with a plan B, the tooth fairy came through after all.  My husband was picking up snacks for his all-nighter at work at the local Wingstop when a kind-hearted dad who worked there gave my husband a $2 bill from his own stash. Thank you tooth fairy!

In the end, a little fairy dust and a two dollar bill made for an extra special morning.

For those who may be needing tooth fairy supplies, I got a great tip from another Lifeways mama, Eilsa, about a great resources, Silver Penny for letters and other adorable things. Sure wished I had those little letter last night but I probably would have just had those accidentally packed too! Oh, well, disaster averted.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin Pickin'

Autumn is in the air here in Bentonville. Jack Frost leaving his trail on the dewy grasses in the morning. Crisp sunny days  need to be filled with a little harvest of our own. Namely PUMPKINS!

One of our neighbors suggested McGarrah Farms, just down the road in Pea Ridge. We had picked some berries there in the summer. Such a nice farm in a natural setting.  We headed over a bit earlier than our neighbors were planning on going and had a few hours more fun.

On the way to the farm, we spy what I think is wild elderberries growing within reach of the car. I make Bryan slow down enough to grab some. I'm on a no fruit diet (thanks Dr Cowan) so I can't try it myself. So I convinced Bryan to be the guinea pig of the family. He's not impressed with the wild elderberry, even if it does have medicinal qualities.  He even jokes with me describing it having a pea taste and later calls it tomacco.  We confirm later that pesky weed is, in fact, wild elderberry and they can't get rid of it. Not a bad weed to have!

At the farm, we are armed with big cutters and a garden cart (just like ours at home) and we head out in search of some good pumpkins. Ben pulls Edie and Sam in the cart. Edie begins with a handful of his outfit at the back collar to "keep him safe". Sam doesn't really love this.  We stop to climb the mountain of hay. Then onto the hay tunnel.

After we picked our first few pumpkins, we discovered that Sam loves pumpkins. Being the nature boy that he is, no one was overly surprised. No need to give him a toy, just a cart full of pumpkins and that boy sure is happy! Oh and thanks for the hay too!

Out in the field where the pumpkins grow, Bryan, our family biologist, noticed a familiar plant growing amongst the pumpkins. Upon closer inspection, Bryan found physalis which always reminds me of Germany, where we first tasted it.  Much later, we found it growing at Slide Ranch so we tried to grow it our yard in San Francisco. At first, we had some fruit. Edie loved that fruit so she picked it all before it was ready. Worse, Bryan made a rule that the fruit was only ripe once it falls to the ground. Edie, my rule follower to the edge of the law, shook the plant to death trying to make the each of the fruit fall to the ground so she could continue eating them...(phew, I got lost...)

So we picked pumpkin and physalis. The kids snacked on the physalis as we headed back to the front to buy our cart full of pumpkins. We shared our little knowledge of physalis with the farmers and they let us take all the weeds we wanted. Lucky for us, we love eating this weed!

The kids wanted to try the $2 "mule train," cute homespun train made of recycled water jugs pulled by a small tractor. Ben held Sam while Edie sat in her own car. They pulled out with grins ear to ear. In a moment of guilt, I thought Ben might enjoy the ride a bit less since he was responsible for his little brother for the ride. Upon return, Ben said "That was the best ride ever!"

Ben and Edie took turns driving each other around the lot of pumpkins. Ben remarking, "Mama, I made a figure 8 around the pumpkins!"

When we got on the tractor for the hay ride (complementary with a pumpkin purchase), our neighbors showed up just in time. So glad to have caught them and shared the hayride! Mr McGarrah introduced himself to us and gave us a tour of his farm. Very sweet! Over dinner later, Ben remarked about Oscar the alligator, "why did he drive so close to the pond?" This after a story about Oscar liking to eat small children who got lost from their parents. Good parent humor that was well over all of the children's heads.

The G Court gang took a ride together on the mule train. This time Edie and Ben shared a seat and I took Sam. I can see why the kids love it. Bumpy and loopy. Lots of giggles! Sam loved waving at everyone.

We said goodbye to our friends and hit the trail for dinner at home. Kids to sleep quickly after such a big day of harvesting.