Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Minikit Cake


I cannot tell you how long I have been attempting to upload videos to my blog. Last month we got a compact camera that will also do video, so I have been wanting to do this for awhile. Finally! The world can now see VIDEOS of my adorable children!

Okay, so the videos that get the grand premier took place on December 5th.

Levi and Claire both have the misfortune (?) of being Christmas babies. Since we are celebrating by going to Disneyland this year, I thought that I would through them a birthday party early in December, as to not overwhelm our friends by having another party close to the 25th.

We invited three families over in the early evening for some cake and ice cream. Since the kiddos are not getting presents from Josh and I this year, I thought the least I could do for them was make a fabulous cake. And boy, did I ever. Okay, correction, we did. Yes, Josh helped. A lot actually. He did all the creative decorating on the outside! His ideas are what made the cake take shape and actually look like a real Mini Kit.

Now, most of you are asking yourselves, "a mini kit? What is that?" I would be asking myself the same question if I did not have an almost five-year old who was obsessed with the Lego Star Wars video game.

On each level of the Star Wars game, you have to collect ten mini kits to complete the level. This is the cake that Levi and Claire humbly requested I bake. I did a google search for a real picture of a mini kit, but came up blank. You will just have to trust me that I did an incredible job and that my mini kit cake, looks just like the real thing.

I spent $75 just on ingredients for the cake. It took three cake boxes,
four containers of icing and lots of candy. But, as you can tell from the above video, it was completely worth it. The boy's reactions to the cake were amazing. They instantly knew what it was and thought that I was the coolest mom ever.

Here are some other pictures and video from the day.

The Happy Birthday Song - I sincerely apologize for how loud my voice is in this video.

One last search proved useful! Here is a picture of the Lego Star Wars mini kits! I am no Cake Boss, but I think it looks great!

Friday, December 4, 2009

About three days ago, Levi came up to Josh and I and said:

"I am ready to learn math and science. Mom you can teach me math, and Papa, you can teach me science, since Mommy doesn't know any."

He got two things right in that statement. One, he is ready to learn math and science. Two, that I don't know any science. But he also got one thing wrong... that I should be the one to teach him math. Seriously child, I despise math. Always have, always will. I was forced (okay, maybe a tad too harsh of a word) to take algebra I, geometry, AND algebra II in high school. I changed my degree in college from a BS to a BA simply because I could not handle calculus.

But my little Levi, where did your brain come from? Certainly not me. At least not the "intelligence" carrying side. I can definitely lay claim to his creative and sensitive and emotional side though!

For the past three days Levi has been requesting math tests. Yes, you read that correctly. Math Tests.

So I create a test for him with 5-7 questions per test. Any addition problem is fair game, as long as the result is less than ten. He grasped the +1 concept immediately. Now I am working in +2 equations. He is also interested in how many different ways to make a certain number. For example, we will go over the three ways to make six.

1 + 5
2 + 4
3 +3

He thinks this is the greatest! Crazy kid. If you only knew how lame math really is! But, I will keep this secret, since his math skills may support me in my ancient years.

Here is the math test he took today at lunch:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wanna join my revolution?

Let me preface this post by stating that I love languages. I took French and Russian in high school. I took French, Russian and Latin in college. The elementary school I am sending my children to in Portland teaches Greek and Latin, starting in kindergarten. I strongly believe that every child should learn at least one foreign language.

However, my love for the English language is quickly fading away.

I had learned from my high school language classes that the English language has some crazy rules regarding verb conjugation. For example, in French, there are something like 17 irregular verbs. That basically means 17 verbs do not follow the same rules the 1000 other verbs follow. This is a pretty small number if you think about it! Granted, two of those verbs, 'to be' and 'to have' are used quite often. You simply memorize them. I can still rattle off in my head:
I have (j'ai)
you have (tu as)
he/she has (il/ elle a)
we have (nous avons)
you have (vous avez)
they have (ils/elles ont)

In French, there are three types of verbs. Ones that end in 'er', ones that end in 're', and ones that end in 'ir'. With the exception of the very few irregular verbs, ALL FRENCH VERBS ARE CONJUGATED THE SAME WAY. Makes it simple right? Very.

English is not like that though. There are over 400 irregular English verbs. Yikes, that is a lot. Not only are there a lot of irregularities when it comes to conjugation, but even the conjugation itself does not make sense!

Take, for example some regular present tense verbs. To see, to read, to play.

I see, read, play
you see, read, play
he/she sees, reads, plays
we see, read, play
you see, read, play
they see, read, play

Notice the one change? The extra letter added on to the verb? That is right, an 's'. But the 's' is added on in the SINGULAR tense. Not the PLURAL tense where this makes sense!

Anyway, back to my revolution.

Now that Levi is learning how to read, I have found a new distaste for the English language. Teaching Levi to read was wonderful when all the a's made the same sound. When k's did not exist, or when letters were not silent. But now that he has mastered the short vowel sounds and we are learning the long vowel sounds, I am realizing that there are a lot of rules and they each get broken. We are learning about bonker e's. You know, when there is an 'e' at the end of a word the 'e' makes the vowel closest to it say its own name. For example: bike, like, hide. Oh wait! Unless you have the word live! This could be a long 'i' or a short 'i':
"I want to live!" OR " I saw Dave Matthews Band live!"

Or the word have! Don't make the 'a' long, it makes a short sound here. Another problem? Don't forget to keep the 'e' silent in all these words!

And why do we have double letters? Do we really need two 'p's' in happy? Or snapped? Or flapped? And why do we have some letters at all? Really, do we need a 'k'? And speaking of 'k', a 'c' should not make an 's' sound. And another thing... did you know that 'ur', 'ir', and 'er' all make the same sound? So why three ways to say the same thing?

There are a million examples that we have encountered over the past few weeks. These are just a few that are currently stuck in my brain.

And, honestly, I understand WHY the English language is they way it is. I know that it is a blend of many languages, French, Latin and German being the predominant ones. I just don't understand why we continue to teach spelling and reading rules, only to teach the ways to break them the next day. Can't we streamline the English language and make it easier?

I know, I know. We all learned it. And so will Levi. I will teach him the rules and then the exceptions. It is just lame, that is all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When I was eight years old, my family traded houses with another family. The houses were maybe a 1/4 of a mile apart, so it was not a difficult move in those terms. However, it was this new house that I associate most of my childhood memories with. Of course, I remember our old house. I remember the winter when our refrigerator broke and my parents could not afford another one. I remember the window ledge where we stored all the perishable food items. They were behind a thick plastic covering were a window normally would be. I remember sharing a room with my sister, and my two brothers being right across the hall.

Our new house saw a lot more "life" than the previous one. It saw the death of my father; my mother's remarriage; the birth of two baby boys. It also saw six children enter the crazy stage called puberty and emerge without too much damage. Both my brother and myself were married in the church walking distance from this house. My best friend and I would tan on the roof above my room on the rare hot Alaskan summer days. We made forts in the attic crawl space, sneaking applesauce from the pantry because we had to climb up the shelves to enter our fort.

Basically, this was my house. My families house. I say "was" because about five months ago, my youngest brother graduated high school and shortly after that, moved out of the house. This left my parents in a huge house with no children. A couple years earlier, my step-fathers job had been transferred to a town about five hours away. He had made the sacrifice to commute back home for the weekends, but now with no children requesting not to leave the high school that his previous five siblings had graduated from, they decided to rent out our house and move to Homer.

Prior to the move my parents made some much needed repairs to the house. They tore out the old carpet and replaced some with wood floors and some with new carpet. They painted all the walls. They removed bookshelves screwed into the walls. They completely redid both bathrooms.

And then, about one month ago, my mother and step-father packed up the home we had lived in for 23 years.

I am slowly realizing that this transition is harder on me then I thought. I don't like talking to my mom on the phone and not being able to picture which room she is standing in based on sound alone. I don't like that another family is living in my house. I don't like that my childhood phone number, the ONLY one I remember, no longer reaches anybody I know.

I still have reasons to visit Eagle River. My brother and his family still live across the street from our old home. But the next time I visit my parents, it will be in a new town, in a new house, going to a new church. This will take some getting used to.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Veteran's Day Activity

A member of our neighbor's church has a family member stationed in Afghanistan. There are 90 members of their unit, and that person set up and organized a care package making party for each soldier in that unit. We all meet up on Veteran's Day to assemble the care packages and to meet a real soldier. Levi and our neighbors are very much into playing Army, so they totally were into this. Only one thing was requested of the children, that they donate some of their extra Halloween candy to the soldiers in Afghanistan, since it is hard to get American candy there. Surprisingly, my children were extremely generous and actually gave away some of the best Halloween candy they got! I was so proud of their unselfishness.

Here they are sorting out their candy before we left:

We got to the church and the kids got to meet a soldier in the Air Force. Although it was a great talk and he answered a lot of thoughtful questions from the kids, you could tell that the older ones were unimpressed that he had never flown a plane. It takes all kind of people though!

Here are the tables before the kids got to them. It was such a well organized event! The children were split into similar age groups and then they got to put one of everything (toothbrush, toothpaste, gum, chap stick, candy, granola bars, floss, Kleenex, etc) into each bag. If there was left overs, they got to add more to each bag.

Claire and her buddy, Owen.

Here they are, loading up their care packages.

After they made all 90 care packages, each kid wrote a card. Claire's age group just scribbled and drew pictures, but the older kids were very creative. They drew pictures and said "Thank You."

Here is our neighbor, Gavin. He wrote "thank you for serving us."
On the front of Levi's he wrote "Dear Army." Here is the inside of his card.
Here are Gavin and Levi with their finished products.

And now they get boxed up and mailed to Afghanistan.

This was a great way to spend Veteran's Day. Levi was super excited to send care packages to the Army and he and Gavin still talk about it. Even if politically we disagree with the wars, I still feel it is important to support the men and women who put their lives on the line daily.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween 2009

Yes, it is the middle of November and I am just now posting pictures of Halloween. Oh well.

This year Claire decided to be Luke Skywalker. I put together her costume for about $7.00 mostly from items found at Goodwill. I also made her a Jedi cloak, but she hated it and refused to wear it. She also refused to wear a light saber. This is one of the few photos that she allowed it to be on her belt.

Levi was much more indecisive about his Halloween costume. He could not decide between Darth Vader and Indiana Jones. I let out a huge sigh of relief when he finally decided to be Dr. Jones. Much easier costume to make! The hat belonged to our neighbor, and the outfit we got at Burlington Coat. Luckily it doubles as a nice church outfit! I made his whip out of a jump rope.

Our neighbors two eldest boys. Owen, Claire's buddy, was Batman.

I was super lame and never got around to getting pumpkins, so here our our neighbor highly creative carvings.
I did, however, manage to make a satchel for Levi. It turned out to be enormous. Like down touching the floor enormous. More room for candy, I say.
Here are a few of the houses we trick or treated at.

It did not take long to get the concept down!