Monday, July 30, 2012

Busy! Busy! Busy!...even if we don't leave the house.


Another two weeks gone, *poof!!*  Crazy.
But what a great two weeks it's been!

The kids asked to go to the skate park two days in a row.  The first day they spent the majority of their time running up and down the ramps.  They would gather rocks at the bottom, run to the top, and chuck them off the other side into the dirt and weeds.

This was one of those "I wish I could remember this for forever" moments.  And of course I don't.  Sigh.
They were just laying there on their backs with their heads hanging off the edge, discussing life--the sun, how it warms the ramp, why it is so difficult to get up the ramp and how much easier it's gotten for both of them.
The conversation ended with silence.  Then giggles.  Then, "I love you, Brookwyn."  "I love you too, Sam."
Giggles.
And more rock throwing.

The next day they were a bit more adventuresome.  They went into the cement skate park and another kid showed them how to go down one side and back up the other.  We were there for THREE HOURS!!  And THEN they asked to go to Rockin' Jump (the indoor trampoline park)!  Unfortunately, Rockin' Jump was closed, so instead they voted that the next best place to be was the play place at McDonald's for a rousing game of Spies.

While helping me do some laundry, Sam thought he was pretty "ridicleelous".
Brooklyn is standing behind me with a pack of wipes cleaning every visible surface in my room...she's requested another box of them from Costco, lol.  Who am I to deny my kids cleaning supplies?!

Another day, Brooklyn decided out of nowhere to put together a package of items that Bubba's cat would like.  Items included a self-made toy (plastic bread bag with a long string tied to it), hats, balls, paper, etc.
Then she decided that it would be a GREAT idea to make the cat a shirt!!
Oy.
I haven't sewn any clothes much less FOR CATS in quite some time.
But she did a sketch of what she wanted and I did my best to imagine of how a t-shirt might fit on a cat.
Brooklyn was thrilled with the results, the cat I'm not so sure about...

For this upcoming school year we joined a charter school that specifically deals with homeschoolers.  Essentially we meet with our Education Specialist (ES) once a month to discuss what we've been learning, sign some papers, etc.  For grades 2-12 there is yearly STAR testing (which is how the school gets funding from the government--based on test scores), but we don't have to worry about that this year.
Anyway, in return we are given $800/semester to use for school supplies and classes.

I wasn't sure how our unschooling lifestyle would fit with our ES, but after a couple of back-and-forth emails (and me directing her to this blog to show her what our lives entail), it's apparent that she is more than agreeable to this style of learning and is happy to either help us or just leave us be as much as we want.

Anyway, we are really excited because Brooklyn has been wanting to try out different types of classes--voice lessons, swimming lessons, gymnastics, art classes, boxing...  AND the charter school gives us an unlimited budget for fine arts stuffs.

We we did do a trial voice lesson which did NOT go so well--hoping the guy didn't scare her off of it completely.  Oh well.

We also did a trial boxing lesson (which Sam ended up joining in with AND they both ended up staying for the following class--Brazilian Jujitsu!).

We have more trial classes to take, but for now, we have been having a LOT of fun with all of the goodies our ES has been dropping off for us.
Here is our first delivery:
 

All of the typical supplies we'll need:  markers, tape, pencils, paper (LOTS), petri dishes and agar, hole punchers, 25 pounds of clay...

...pencil sharpener

You can't see it very well, but this is Sam's rocket ship.

We also joined in the Minecraft world.  It's been fun as everyone from Sam to Russ enjoy it.

Putting her new 1000 ft. of paper to use!

Brooklyn ADORES her My Little Ponies.  She called me in to see their boat she'd constructed (in her hand is their hot tub that she attached next).

While searching YouTube, Brook stumbled across a tutorial on how to bake rainbow cupcakes.
I've never tried them, partly due to the fact that there is SO much food coloring used, but also because I just don't enjoy baking...but this was a LOT of fun to do with B!

While they were cooking, Brook and I went and jumped on my bed and when I came to check on Sam I found this...stretched out on the kitchen island playing Angry Birds.

She was SO proud!

We have a change jar and Russ decided to donate all of the pennies in it to Sam's new Crayon bank that he picked out at The Dollar Store.
He was SO excited!!

Both kids have been BIG into swimming lately.  Brook decided to purchase a pair of goggles at The Dollar Store (despite my warning of them possibly not working, lol).  They work about as well as I'd thought.  Although irritating, the kids don't mention it as much as I thought they would, lol.
Given the amount of use the goggles are getting, I have 2 good pair coming in the mail.


This is our friends' pool (at their apartment complex).  We met them there and the kids all played amazingly for 2 1/2 hours.  When our friends decided to head in, I was planning on heading home but Brook and Sam were still having SO much fun...we ended up staying another 1 1/2 hours!!  We finally had to leave to go pick Russ up from work (thank heavens--I'm thinking they would have swam all night!).

Here is Brooklyn swimming with her mermaid tail.
video

And here is what 4 hours of non-stop play in the pool looks like 5 minutes after getting into the car.
One starving child (thank heavens for that Tootsie Pop I put in the glovebox over a year ago! lol), and one completely unconscious one.

A couple of days later we ended up heading to the city pool, where they don't allow floaties (we have avoided it up until now because of this issue and the fact that Sam FREAKS about it).  There is a pool that is only 2 - 3 1/2 feet deep, but he was still super nervous.

Come to find out when we got there, the pool was closing in 20 minutes.  The kids still wanted to swim.  They both jumped right in and wouldn't you know it, Sam was doggy paddling almost immediately but much preferred swimming under the water.  In that 20 minute period he learned how to swim 5' underwater!  This is the kid who doesn't even like to put his face in the water!!...excuse me, didn't like to put his face in the water.


Our ES dropped off our second shipment of school goodies.  The super fun ones!!
Beeswax candle making kit, build your own clock kit, body crayons, origami paper, high quality paints, henna kit, spin art, a mounting board for insects, and a giant calendar to go in Brook's room.

The spin art has been a HIT!  I always wanted one when I was a kid and it's no wonder why!  Paint, glitter, sand, and a platform to fling them all off!

The kids made some really neat artwork and now we have a really cool collection on one of our walls in the family room.


The body crayons ROCK too!  This is Brook's first design.

Then I did a few doodles on her leg.

Then she did her face and one side of mine--it looked quite cool, actually.  She had vines swirling all along my face from my forehead down my neck.

We found a new game--Spore.  Actually, we haven't tried the actual game yet, we've been having too much fun with just the Spore Creature Creator!

The other night I *had* to get to the farmer's market--we've been eating our way through produce like a bunch of banshees.  The only problem is that no one else (minus Russ) wanted to go.  Sigh.  Actually, Sam was in his carseat in nothing but his undies because it's as much as I could get out of him just to get in the car to go pick Russ up from work!

While sitting in the car in the driveway we brainstormed how we could all get our needs met.  Finally Brooklyn said, "I KNOW!!  Mom can take me on a surprise date--DON'T TELL ME WHAT IT IS MOM!!  It could be Rockin' Jump or the movies or bowling or to frozen yogurt BUT DON'T TELL ME!"  And then she looked at us like, 'Problem solved, let's go.'

So Russ and Sam headed in the house (with exhausted Sam screaming, "NOOOOO!!!!  I want Momma to staaaaaayyyy!", which we eventually got settled) and Brooklyn and an exhausted Momma headed to the grocery store for our date.

We pulled up to the grocery store, "Ooooh, we're at Nob Hill!"  She was so excited.  We walked in and I told her she could pick out any one thing that she wanted.

We were there for 45 minutes!!!  First perusing the novelty items aisle (I got nervous when she started looking at price tags and then walked over to the $50 plant pot!), then the bakery, then the drinks and chips aisle.
"Can you take me to the toys?"
We found the small aisle of toys, where each and every toy was inspected and deemed not good enough.

As we were walking to the baking items aisle, this giant bag of Tootsie stuffs jumped out and almost bit her.  It was love at first sight.

I don't know what this video is because my computer was being dumb.  So here it is.
Whatever it is.
video

The last Saturday of the month is the 1/2 price sale at my favorite thrift store.  So Brooklyn, Shelan, Shelan's friend and I headed out in search of goodies.
And goodies we found!
Along with some clothes for B and I, Brook picked "Don't Spill The Beans" game out for Sam.

I found a jacob's ladder for $.50 and a pinata for a few bucks (which now proudly hangs in the middle of the living room).

Brook found a neat large horse and a bag of smaller horses to add to her collection.  She is SUCH a proud momma.  She built them apartments, a corral, has made them all bridals, has washed and dried them all, has given them all haircuts...

In our future I see much swimming, $1 theater movies, a much-awaited homeschooling conference, and lots of camping! 
Yippee!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Presents, Kinect and Big Sur--OH MY!!

Bah, feeling blogger-lazy lately.
Here's what we've been up to:

Army guys!

Weekly $1 movies (and $5 in games).

Lots of water playing...

Brooklyn's been into spy stuff lately and asked me to set up an obstacle course.

Shapes and building.

Thunder tube (thanks Bubs!).  This thing is really cool, but can be REALLY loud!!

We sold our NC house and celebrated with a trip to Target (thanks Karen!).
The kids chose Play-Doh stuff--Brooklyn an ice cream making thing and Sam a dentist kit thing.

And I chose swords.  :)

We've also been playing with the Kinect.  Everyone's favorite is the Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012.  There's some fun stuff that even kids can do, plus some good workouts.
Here's Sam trying to hula hoop in his undies.
I can't watch without giggling every single time.
video

Brook has also been into mermaids lately.  She started asking about mermaid tails, so we did a search on good ol' Amazon and lo and behold, they sell mermaid tails!  So we took it to the beach and gave it a shot.  She said that other than slipping off of her feet occasionally, it works great!

(Funny side story:  This beach is at a lake.  Russ was out swimming in the deeper part with some goggles and saw a large (approximately 24" I'm told) pipe, which was apparently a large catfish's home.  Russ said that the catfish's head took up nearly the entire pipe hole.  He quickly became obsessed with the idea of trying to catch it (without a fishing pole or anything, keep in mind).  He came up with the idea of trying to lure it out with one hand and grabbing it with the other hand...can you see where this might be going??
So he headed into the water and came out with bloody fingers...he said that sucker is HUGE.  So he's trying to figure out perhaps a better way to catch him to see how big he is!)

Our local swimming pools don't allow floaties and Sam loves his, so he was stoked to be able to wear them in the water...even though he only lasted for maybe 20 minutes, lol.  Then he joined me on the beach.

Grammie and Gpa Lybbert sent the kids a package.  Brooklyn about died when she pulled out a My Little Pony (which she enjoys watching on Netflix).
"MOM!  They got me TWILIGHT SPARKLE!!!  And she has a BOOK and a CAT and even her own SCOOTER!!!"
Fast-forward 3 hours and she was STILL playing with it!
Good job, Mom and Dad!

For Sam they included a build-your-own bank, which he loved.  Me?...not so much.  I'm not exactly mechanically inclined.  Russ had to come home and fix it, lol.

They also included some neat glow bubbles, which the kids had a fantastic time with while we were waiting for the 4th of July fireworks to begin.

On July 5th, we packed all of our camping stuff up again to head to Big Sur.  We made a quick detour to the Oakland airport to pick up Corinne and Phil and all of their gear (sooo impressed we got all of our stuff smashed into the van!!) and headed out.

We decided on Pfeiffer Big Sur state park and ended up with a *premium river site* for our first night.  Just behind those trees and to the left is the river, which was nice.

You can see the river right in the middle through the trees there.

Of course the kids immediately headed out to check out the river.

"I gonna catch some fish!"

Sam had been asking for hair spikes, so spikes he got.

Once we got settled in we headed out for a 1.8 mile hike up a mountain.  I wasn't sure the kids would make it, but figured we'd give it a shot anyway.


Redwood tree photo-op!

Sam would alternate between riding on Russ's shoulders and sprinting along this trail which often had very steep drop-offs!
 

Brooklyn kept talking about how afraid she was of heights and how tired she was and I knew I just had to find the right thing to trigger her to finish, but was having a tough time.  I was just about to say, "Fine, I'll walk back down with you." (even though we were a good 2/3 of the way there) when I told Brooklyn about how Corinne and Russ are both really good hikers because they do it often and they have "Teeter calves" to help them out.  I explained that I do not have them, which is why I'm the very last person coming up the trail, but I wondered who's calves Brooklyn had.
"I'VE GOT TEETER CALVES!!" she yelled and literally sprinted off.  I did not see her again until we reached the summit.  Then when we headed down, I didn't see her until we finally caught up with her and Russ halfway down.  Phew!
She's loved hiking since. :)

That's the ocean out there...beneath the fog.

On our way down!


Back at camp for dinner!  We were all pooped and Brook and Sam both asked to go to bed before we even got the marshmallows out!

The next morning Russ, Corinne and Phil headed out for a long hike while the kids and I milled about camp.  We ate breakfast and took off for a long walk among the campground.

When we got back the kids wanted to play in the river, even though it was only 9:30am and they still had their coats on.
Good thing kids are far more immune to cold than adults are!



Sam, enjoying throwing rocks and sticks and Brook enjoying floating around.

When the others got backed, we packed up camp and headed out to find a new site since the one we were in was reserved that night.  We found one with a nice little meadow out back (where we didn't have to constantly worry about the kids getting into poison oak, which was rampant here).

Corinne brought her slackline, which we like playing on.  The kids like it too...so much that Sam split his lip on it and Brooklyn clothes-lined herself on it...oy.

There was a large tree out in the middle of the meadow that the kids spent a LOT of time at.  It was a godsend for everyone!  The kids asked Phil to tie some rope up for them and I hauled some chairs and snacks over for them and it became their Secret Fortress.

View of camp from The Secret Fortress.

Our neighbors not only had this amazing tree the the kids loved playing on...

...but they also had 9 and 10 year old daughters.  Yippee!

The following morning we decided to go and check out the Discovery Center where they have all sorts of information on the condors that live there.  It was pretty neat--each condor is tagged and you can go to Condor Spotter and type in the number to see information on each bird.
The woman there told us interesting things on the reintroduction program (there were close to only 20 condors left at one point) and some of the birds themselves, such as one father who keeps driving off all of the female birds that his son hangs around with so that his son will stay with him.  Ha!

We drove south a bit more to Julia Pfeiffer State Park to hike about a bit.



For those of you who have been fortunate enough to be around when Brooklyn is frustrated or upset, you'll understand what sound is coming out of her mouth.
For those of you who haven't had the privilege, it sounds something like THIS.
Oy vey.

But we got to see a condor!  (We actually saw quite a few, but the others were high above, circling.  Corinne and Phil saw some right up alongside the road though!)
It's number 38.


Freaking gorgeous.


Later on, Russ, Corinne and Phil headed back out to hike the beach and find some tide pools.
(Thank you for taking pictures, Phil!!!)
 
 
 
 
 
 


They saw a sea otter!

Love this shot!

When they got back, we headed to a beach area that was close to our campground.  Unfortunately, Sam fell asleep on the way there and stayed asleep on my lap the entire time we were there, so no photos.
It was GORGEOUS though.

The next morning we headed out.  We had to stop for a couple of hours in Carmel though so Corinne could show us her dream home area.  Unfortunately, she has to figure out how to become a multimillionaire before she'll be able to afford the places she wants.  We were happy to visit though.
It's really neat--this is the marsh side of the sand.  To the right is the ocean. 

Sam, chasing the seagulls.

"MOM CAN YOU GET MY SWIMMING SUIT?!  I NEED TO GO GET THOSE SEAGULLS!!"

"Brookwyn, I found you a great feather!!"


Paying their respects to a dead great heron.

The ocean side.
 

Looking for tidepools, but finding only seaweed.
 
 
 

 We headed home to celebrate my birthday.
Russ got me my porch swing that I've been asking for and it's been everything I've asked for...
I found Brooklyn and Sam snuggling, eating popsicles and chatting one morning.  <3 <3 <3

That's it for now!