November 22, 2006

A New York Minute

Serona has spent the past few weeks in New York City on a business trip. His company actually flew us out to New York to spend a week with him. The kids and I have been here a few days now and having a great time.

We went to the Long Island Aquarium. It was smaller than I expected but we had a great time. We have been enjoying visiting with my parents and the kids have had plenty of quiet play time here.

The kids and Serona went ice skating in Bryant Park while Sirah and I and grandpa watched and drank apple cider. We were there for the unveiling of Macy's Christmas windows - it was magical for the kids to see. We walked around the city and had some good pizza at a little place we found along the way.

Last night Serona and I went out to dinner at Artisinal Bistro with his boss - and had some wonderful cheese and wine pairings. Then I stayed in the city with him and the kids stayed with my parents.

We are headed to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, to the Museum of Natural History and to see Rockfeller center, FAO and other Christmas moments in NYC. We are also enjoying a nice visit with my parents and get to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family for the first time in more than a decade! All is good here in NY. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and your families.


November 14, 2006

Rock the Wall

I have to admit it I am in awe of my children when they climb the rock walls. They are so brave and have no sense of fear. The first time we approached a rock wall they just went right up to the top and rang the bell, Ciaran was just 5 and Rhiannon 6. I was impressed considering they were doing something I would not even attempt. I will admit it looks fun and interesting and challenging and I like the fact that it is both physical and mental and an individual challenge. However I have inherited my fathers preference to avoid heights whenever possible and I simply do not have the trust my children do that a rope is going to hold me up.

I watch them approach the wall and stay determined to reach the top and figure out the puzzles. I have watched them use auto-belays and have a real person belay them as well. They take a different approach depending on which system they are using. Their determination is stronger when they have a person belaying them as they can take a rest and re approach the wall differently and have support when they reach that tough spot. With an auto belay they are more likely to release and start over again. Still they have the determination to approach that wall again and again no matter how many times it seems they can not reach the top. The faith and determination of a child is really an example to us all. They have such trust in the person supporting them and in themselves to accomplish their goals. They leave fear behind or at least overcome it on the wall and I watch their confidence grow.

Tonight as I sat in Rhia's lessons I watched her confidence grow. I watched her strength grow and watched her rock climbing skills improve. I watched her determination and her enjoyment of the activity. She climbed four walls while I watched and she reached the top of three - the one she missed she did not re approach because her hands were tired and sore and she needed a break she told me. She rested and took on a harder wall which she accomplished. I am glad she has the opportunity to rock climb with regularity and that it is a sport in which she finds enjoyment. There are so many life lessons she can learn here at the wall, skills that will serve her well in all areas of her life. And she is having fun!

Often when a child climbs a wall they will receive a sticker that says "I rocked the wall" and how true that is. I love watching my kids Rock the Wall and all that represents. If you have never tried it with your own kids - do so!


Weary of Whining

That is what my instant message status said today - does that give you any idea of what kind of a day it was? Sirah and Ciaran just could not find a tone of voice that cold qualify for anything other than the label of whinese. It also seemed that no matter what I did or said I only further complicated the situation and seemed to escalate the whining. It was wearing and I am weary now.

Still we did get quite a bit accomplished throughout the day. School went very smoothly for Rhiannon and I. Ciaran managed to do some reading and some Explode the Code and I read aloud to him. Rhiannon and I worked through quite a bit and she was in good spirits and very helpful today. After school we managed to clean out the girls room which is typically an all day event. I keep trying to find new creative ways to help organize their stuff so they can keep it clean themselves. But two girls in a small room is not much of a recipe for neatness I have accepted. We reorganized and cleaned together for most of the afternoon so their upkeep is easier - we will see how it goes.

I also worked on Christmas presents - I am trying to be good and get ahead of the game this year so I can actually enjoy the holidays with my family and not pay more in shipping then I did for the gifts. Since we are out of town we have to ship to everyone on our list in many different states. Somehow I always think I am starting ahead of time and end up shipping the week before or sometimes the week of Christmas. One year we FedExed presents - that was ridiculously expensive and to not be repeated. So I figure starting in mid-November gives me hope. I'll let you know how it goes in a few weeks.

The great thing is we have a fresh start ahead of us tomorrow and another great day planned. We have a busy day which after today I think will be a good thing. Rhia is going on a field trip for older kids with another family in our group, we have a fitness class and a trip to the nursing home plus our regular Wednesday night activities planned. Typically I do not like having that many things scheduled in one day but I am actually looking forward to it tomorrow.

Any great tips on how to handle these days? I have muddled through, lost my temper and apologized a few times and look forward to tomorrow. Days like this also remind me how thankful I am that they are rare and not my everyday life. We all have challenging days - I figured I would write about one so everyone knows it isn't all magical every day and we are real with bad days too.


November 13, 2006

One Book

Okay I'll be honest, I rarely like doing these but since the person who tagged me knows me in real life and is very pregnant with twins but still found time to do it - I suppose I should. Besides it is about books and everyone knows that is a weakness of mine.

Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias
When I met Serona I was an agnostic when it came to matters of faith. I suppose this was progress from my atheistic view of just a few years earlier. Serona is a pastors kid and gave me this book to read alongside with the bible. Let's just say I was a real skeptic and Ravi's book was written for someone like me - with real intellectual hangups and doubts over faith. While reading this book and the bible and some serious soul searching and questioning I came to my Christian faith. While raised Catholic I had stepped away from my childhood faith and questioned God on so many levels. It was during reading this book that I really had to come to terms with what I knew to be truth (God's word and who Jesus is and what he did for us) and decide whether I was going to accept it and change my life or ignore what I knew to be the truth and carry on as if I did not know it. This book was written with a directness that I had a hard time denying or ignoring. I suppose it was this book and the bible together that changed my life forever. The decision to accept that Jesus is God's son and he died for my sins and to accept him as my Saviour is definitely the biggest decision that changed my life.

Okay this one is really tough for me as I reread many of my books! I try to read a Jane Austen book at least once a year so I have reread those many times over. I also really enjoy rereading the Harry Potter series right before a movie and new book come out. There are so many books I am enjoying rereading with my kids especially the Little House series, CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables. Okay so I completely cheated on this question but I can't narrow it down - so pick one.

The Bible
The only truly living book I know of that speaks to me uniquely each time I read it. There is so much wisdom and beauty and love in that book. I am truly one who believes it to be the greatest story ever told. Also it is the only book that I believe would see me through all the trails I would face alone on a desert island. I would prefer my bible to "Wilson"

A Walk to Remember - Nicolas Sparks
Okay so he is trendy but he is easy to read and really can capture a touching heart wrenching romance story well. While everyone rages about The Notebook - this one brought me to tears and really touched me. It is one of the few books that turned to movie that I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book even though it was a different take on the book. Both book and movie made me cry.

Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room by James Carville and Paul Begala

Okay I REALLY wanted to steal Mamadala's answer here. Because I can't really think of a book that would be more fun and meaningful to write than CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. One of my favorite series ever written for people of all ages in all times. But I will try to be more inventive and not steal her answer.

Okay so I am Republican but these two are REALLY smart and I wish I wrote the book so more Republicans would listen to it and learn from it. However you feel about the authors, former president Clinton, or the democrats in general, it is a great book with many applications beyond just politics. If I wrote it I could claim I was smart and maybe the Republicans would run better war rooms.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo
I have very passionate feelings about this book and the influence it has had on many parents over the years. Ones I do not really want to go into here. To know how much I dislike this book I have been known to turn it face in at local bookstores when I am in the parenting section so it is hard to find and not on display. I have also resorted to checking it out of the public library and renewing for awhile so it was off the shelves and no one else could stumble upon it. I have grown up and matured some and no longer do these things but I still wish it was never written.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
Recommended by Hugh Hewitt, Serona and I are both reading it together. I am enjoying it though it is very slow moving at times and traces the history of Al-Qaeda further back than I would have expected. It really gives you a good sense of what is at stake and at root in the issues we face today and 5 years ago. I would recommend it.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon - Patty Lovell
Oh wait you probably want to know something I want to read for me not what I will be rereading again to Sirah tommorrow and the day after and the day after that.

One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury

This has been on my to read list for awhile as I have the sequel here waiting to be read. Somehow it is never in the library when I get the desire or gumption to face down the memories of that day and read this story or when it is in I know emotionally I could not handle reading it yet. Someday I will get to it.

People I tag to do this on their own blog , Lorainne, SoCal, EmpressBarb, PB, Spin, Katie and L2 when she feels better! Post a comment to let everyone know you posted your answers to your blog!

November 9, 2006

It's Great to Be Five!

Ciaran is having an incredible year of being five. I can hardly believe all the things that he has accomplished and learned just this year. He has learned to tie his shoes, read, swim, add, subtract, and write his letters. He went to Disney World and California. He hiked up a mountain, swam in the ocean, was in a wedding and started kindergarten. He developed a love for singing and for video games. He made the decision to accept Christ into his heart and we have watched his faith mature through the year.

Overall it has been an amazing year of growth for him. He is still a little boy to be sure. He still has lots of energy but he is learning how to channel and control it more. Watching him discipline himself to learn to read has been especially meaningful. When Ciaran puts his mind to something he is easily able to accomplish it because he has a determination and tenacity that is impressive in a young child. It has to be his idea or desire though for that spirit to kick in. But wow the results are amazing when it applies.

Schooling him is very time consuming but also very rewarding. We have seen a lot of transition in him in just these few months. He makes me smile a lot and also experience a full range of emotions each day. He can be my easiest student or my most challenging and there is little rhyme or reasons to it that we can discover yet.

I love the age of 5. They still want to please you. They still are so curious about everything and have a natural curiosity and desire to learn. Learning is just fun and interesting. I also love the way 5 year olds look at the world and the questions they ask. Each day Ciaran makes me smile and makes me proud. He is definitely having a great year.

Enjoy your kids,

November 8, 2006

American Girl party

The party went very well. The girls had a great time and I would do it again. We ended up with 28 girls between the ages of 7 and 11. The first movie went well they all snuggled up together and sat still to watch the Felicity movie. We did not have snacks for the first movie because we got a late start. We stopped for snacks and the girls were like locusts. They came and cleared out the table. But they did it politely and with nearly no mess at all. They each brought down a bag of popcorn or pretzels and filled their water bottles (with tops) before they went down to the second movie. The second movie went well but some of the girls had a hard time keeping their concentration that long. We had space for them to play quietly but it was distracting for some.

If you decide to do this for your kids, I highly recommend it. A few things I learned and would recommend. Name tags for the girls and name tags for their dolls (we had like 6 Elizabeth dolls and several of the other ones) - I also recommended they take off shoes or losable items to minimize losing items or people taking home the wrong ones. I also really liked the covered water bottle idea - as we had no spills at all. We also asked people to bring snacks so we had variety and the girls seemed to like this. Lastly, I would limit it to one movie and do two seperate nights rather than one double feature night. It just got too long for some of the girls.

What fun though! Having a movie night is easy and fun. Making it an American girl movie night seemed to make it more special for the girls. Can't wait for Molly to come out so we can do it again.


November 3, 2006

Call me Crazy

We have somewhere around 30 girls between the ages of 7-10 coming over for an American Girl double feature movie night. We are watching Felicity and Samantha. We have snacks, wonderful girls and know it will be a great night. More updates after we recover!

November 2, 2006

Fun Science