Ugly Christmas Sweaters

We have finally ordered ugly Christmas sweaters for everyone and they are awesome.

Ron – His favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, so the leg lamp was perfect for him.

Amanda – I’m actually wearing an old sweatshirt of my mother’s.  It is very comfortable and I kind of hate that it’s considered an “ugly” sweater.  I secretly love it… well, that’s not a secret anymore!  Jango loves his ugly sweater, and he loves to wear it

Chyna – She found this cute “ugly sweater” dress on amazon, and I actually like it.

Price – Star wars is completely fitting for him.  He loves his sweater.  I love how the light-sabers light up.

Wesley – Mario!  He was Mario for Halloween one year, and has always loved Mario.  His sweater is super cute.

This is my favorite family picture… I love it!

Book Review

Anglerberger, Tom:

I am still reading books by Tom from our library.  I’m down to just the last two books by him.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda 4)

They didn’t have #3 at the library, so I skipped right to #4.  This one is named for Jabba, but he doesn’t actually show up until the end of the book.  I’m not giving away who the person is behind Jabba the Puppet, but it ends up helping the children out.  The children have lost their extra curricular activities, and they have to go to extra classes that prepare them for the end of year testing.  The children not only don’t like the classes, they think the classes are making them dumber.  They all join up together and everyone, not just Dwight, has finger puppets.  The kids all form their own Origami Rebel Alliance and decide to find a way to stop the extra study class and bring back their extracurriculars.  This book ends with the principal agreeing to talk to the school board and try to come up with a solution to their issue, but nothing is decided or fixed for the kids.

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (Origami Yoda 5)

This one picks up right where the other left off, except this time the case file has been stolen by someone (it’s not revealed until the end, so I don’t want to spoil it), and that person gives the journal to the principal.  The principal ends up helping the children and working with them to convince the school board that the extra classes are hurting them and they shouldn’t have to take them.  This entire series seemed to be one big fight against standardized testing.  I hate those tests, and I don’t think they tell us anything about how our schools are doing.  The children spend most of the year learning that things that will be on the tests instead of learning to explore and learn things on their own.  They aren’t ever allowed to follow an idea or a passion for something and see where it ends up or what happens because those things won’t be on the mandatory testing, so they can’t spend time studying those things or learning about them and seeing where they take them.  Overall, these books are great, and I’m sure the number of fans that he has speaks for themselves, but if you haven’t heard of them and you have an elementary/middle schooler, I think they would love these!!

The Rat with the Human Face: The Qwikpick Papers

There are at least 3 Qwikpick Paper books, and this is the second one.  It’s about 3 friends who hang out at the Qwikpick convenient store in their town.  The kids are from very different backgrounds, but they are friends and they have formed a society for adventure.  They hear someone talking about seeing a rat with a human face, and they decide they need to investigate.  Their parents are clueless and don’t seem to care what they do, or care too much about how they behave without finding out who their children really are.  I think this is a theme in the books from him that I’ve read so far.  I know that the ways these parents behave is definitely not the way I would react or treat any of my kids.  Anyway, this book was good and it kind of left me on a cliff-hanger where the club is concerned, and i want to know what’s going to happen.

Clarkson, Sally:

The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey

I started this book in January, and i have read one chapter each month.  This kind of walks you through each month with ways to be present with your family, how to create traditions with your kids, and how to show hospitality to those around you in each month.  I have read another of her books, and she seems to make her life almost an unattainable goal, and I have to remind myself that I don’t have the same personality that she does, and understand that everything at her house is probably not as perfect as it seems at first glance.  Overall, it was a great book… it’s short, but I stretched it out so I could concentrate on each month this year as it came.  I really enjoyed it.

Hartley – Brewer, Elizabeth:

Raising Happy Kids: Over 100 Tips For Parents And Teachers

I’m not sure I would say that I loved this book.  I liked it, and I thought it had some good things in it, but it’s just like any other parenting book to me.  It had a lot of examples of real people, which I liked, but it also had unrealistic ways of talking to your children, in my opinion.  I wouldn’t ever say things the way she encouraged us to talk.  We just don’t communicate in that formal way.  There are some aspects that I will remember and use, but overall it is pretty much the same as any parenting book I’ve read.

Smith, Angie:

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms:
I got this book as part of an online study with my friend who lived in Turkey the same time we did.  I ended up not being able to participate in the study because I wasn’t able to get online every week, but I loved the book and the facebook discussion.  This book really made me think about the things that I fear and how I can do better at letting go of those things and not letting them take over my life.  This book is great for individual reading, but it is also great for small group discussions.  I recommend this for anyone also, not just women.

Wesley is ELEVEN!!!!

Wesley looked so cute sleeping and snuggling with Jango… he’s 11 and I want to just watch him sleep!

We let the kids pick a restaurant and the whole family goes out to eat on their birthday.  Wesley chose On The Border… he loves this place!  And since they sang to him and gave him a brownie with ice cream, he probably loves it even more!

 

We also take pictures of the boys wearing Ron’s uniform every year on their birthday and eventually they will grow into it.  This time he said “the hat fits perfectly!”   It is a wonderful tradition and I’m so glad we started it!

We had Wesley’s party at a laser tag place in town.  He hasn’t met a lot of kids yet, but he had a great time with the friends he has here now.

It’s December!!!

We started decorating for December as soon as Thanksgiving was over!  I let Wesley have complete control over the kitchen table, and he did a great job!  I love it!

I did the entryway in kind of a mixed genre, I guess.  I didn’t really have a theme in mind, and the nativity set we always use had to be added to the table.  Then I really wanted to do the whole red and green theme this year as well because Michael’s had this cute box and cute decorations.  I love the Christmas quote and I really like the way it ended up.  The big pinecone is the one I found on the beach at Lake Tahoe.  It was weird to see a pinecone on a beach, so I had to bring it home.  It still has some sand in it from Lake Tahoe.

Goodbye November!!

Hello December!!!

 

So, let’s get ready for a great December!!  Merry Christmas!!

 

November 2017 – Recap

November weather here in South Dakota has been very mild, and we’ve had a lot of warm days.  We tried to take advantage of the weather and go hiking as much as possible.  November has been great… full of making memories and hanging out together as much as possible.

 

Ron

Ron had to pause jujitsu this month because he had a few procedures done on his back and chest.  He also registered for an online class he’ll have to take while he’s deployed next year.   We also have 3 people having babies at the chapel over the next few months, so we had a giant baby shower at the wing chaplain’s house.  We all had a great time celebrating the new babies!

Amanda

I spent most of November practicing…  Practicing drawing/sketching and watching a lot of videos about my new bullet journal.  I’ve been loving all of the creative outlets that I’ve been doing this month.  Also, I’m officially trained as a d-group leader.  If you need a bible study and can’t find one, go here and read about the new study happening in January, or email me and I’ll give you all the info you want.  It’s a nation-wide bible based study program, and I love it.  My personal email is feeserfamily@yahoo.com or the email for this website is ourmilitarymoments@gmail.com.  Either of those will work to get in touch with me.

Chyna

Chyna is still working at Target/Starbucks.  She has recently been training some new employess, and while Thanksgiving and Black Friday were both busy for her, she is doing a great job with work and school.  She can’t seem to pass by a piece of dog clothing without getting it for Jango!  They are so cute!!  She has completed another session at Animal Behavior College, and her grades are wonderful.   We are so proud of her. Chyna has been hiking with me everyday she is off and the weather is warm enough to go out.  We had a great time at Mt. Rushmore right before Thanksgiving and found a very cool place right here in the city.  We’ve had a lot of great times this month.

 

Price

Price spent most of this month stealing my phone and taking pictures!  🙂  He is still loving the tumbling class at gymnastics, and he recently finished another merit badge in scouts.  He is about to start a new youth group at the chapel, and I’m excited to see where these coming months will take him.  He is binge watching lots of TV shows and I’m loving hearing about them and watching some of them again through his eyes.  I love that he’s loving Friends… one of my most favorites!

Wesley

Wesley began the month by lighting candles at the chapel in a ceremony to remember those who have passed away in the last year.  This candle was special to all of us because it was for Mr. Ronnie.  Ron’s dad passed away this summer, and we miss him so much.  Wesley also loves snapchat, and did such a good job of helping with all of the Christmas decorations.  He is always willing to jump in and help!

 

Overall, November was a great month and I can’t wait for December… bring on Christmas!!

Lake Tahoe Trip – October 2017

I cannot believe I forgot to share all of the pictures from my trip to Lake Tahoe.  Kim, Cristina, and I all met while we were stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland.  Kim’s family is civilian and Cristina’s family is army.  That doesn’t matter except that it means Kim is still in MD, while we’ve since moved to Spain and now South Dakota and Cristina has moved to Georgia and now Hawaii, so it’s been a while since we’ve all been together.  Two years ago we were talking about meeting when we moved back stateside.  So, we tried to pick a place kind of in the middle between MD and HI… and we settled on Las Vegas.  We decided not to go there because we couldn’t find a cheap place to stay.  We have points in a condo system, and we were able to find a place on Lake Tahoe for a few points, so that’s what we decided to do.

It turned out to be the best time because the weather was warm, especially for October.  Cristina has lived in HI too long because she was freezing in the 60-70 degree weather.  But we had a great time hiking, eating, and just hanging out.  I miss them so much.

I know I’ve said it before, and I guess I’m going to continue to talk about it until I find someone with a solution to the problem, but people in the military don’t have true community.  We might find it for months at a time, but that lifelong connection with people, raising your children together, and going through life together just doesn’t happen in the military and it does a huge disservice to the men and women and especially children who have to live this way.  I don’t have an answer, but I’m constantly thinking about this and I’m hoping there can be some kind of solution or at least a better way.

Anyway, we had a great time for 3 days and here are some of the pictures… Lake Tahoe is beautiful!  It was the first time I had ever been there, and my first time in California!!

Book Review

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Catalyst was definitely NOT a juvenile fiction book.  This book was in the juvenile fiction section, but immediately I thought the language used in the book was definitely not something I would think would be read before Junior High at the youngest.  I think 8th to 9th grade is the youngest that someone should be to read this book.  However, regardless of that part, the book was a great book.  It was well-written and the characters were so real and awesome.  I just loved the book.  It definitely wasn’t a happy ending book or a happy middle or beginning for that matter, but it is a realistic fiction book, and I loved it!!  If you have a highschooler, or even older teenager, I think they would love this book!

Angleberger, Tom:

I already knew a lot about Tom Angleberger.  My boys have all of the Origami Yoda books and a couple others of his.  We surprised them one night and drove down to VA from MD to a book signing and got all of their copies signed.  Tom was really nice and the boys loved it.  Since I haven’t found my external harddrive yet with all of those pictures on it, I can’t share one here, but as soon as I find it, I’ll edit this post and add the picture of all of them together.  Anyway… our library has a lot of his books, but not all of them.  I’ll just review them in the order I read them.

Inspector Flytrap in The President’s Mane Is Missing (Book 2) is definitely for younger elementary and beginning readers.  It has a silly story that I think this age group can appreciate.  I didn’t find it appealing at all, as an adult.  The jokes were very silly, but again, I know they will work for their target age group.  There is a venus flytrap who is trying to solve the problem of how to get rid of a giant fly from Venus…. a Venus Fly!  All kinds of things pop up to get in the way of his quest.  It is great for 5-7 years old.  And even younger for read-alouds.

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much (Book 3) This is just more of the same.  The flytrap is in a pot, of course, so he can’t move around without his goat assistant to push him around on a skateboard.  In this one, his goat is accused of a crime and arrested, and Inspector Flytrap has to find the read criminal and save his goat.  Perfect for pre-school read-aloud and beginner readers.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda 1)  This is the first book in the Origami Yoda series.  It is about a group of middle school students, specifically a boy named Tommy, who create a case file to determine whether or not a finger puppet named Origami Yoda is actually using the force to give advice.  The owner of Origami Yoda is Dwight, and he doesn’t really give an answer about this at all, so it’s just Tommy and his friends telling stories about what Origami Yoda has done for them and they use these stories to determine if he is “real” or not.  It was a great book and I think it’ll be good for anyone who can read the words.  All the way to adults, because I found myself smiling as a read and rooting for them to get the answers they wanted.  It really set up the series well, and it a great book for any Star Wars fans… young or old!

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book This is the second book in the series, and I think I liked it more than the first one.  He didn’t have to spend as much time learning who all the kids were because we had already met them in the first book.  This time one of the other kids, Harvey, has decided to make a Darth Vader finger puppet, called Darth Paper.  He goes around telling people how bad Origami Yoda/Dwight’s advice is and pretty much tries to sabotage everything.  This book is a little more serious to me, as an adult, because Dwight says something, as Origami Yoda, to a student, and when the principal hears about it, they consider it to be a threat and they suspend Dwight and the school board is going to determine if he needs to go to a school for “troubled” kids or if he can continue at the current school.  So Tommy uses the case file this time to get more stories to present to the school board and try to save Dwight.  Harvey seems to be sabotaging all of their efforts, and we find out at the end if it works or not…. a great book for any age!

I have more books by Tom Angleberger to read, but I haven’t finished them yet, so I’m just going to share these reviews and start the next review with those books… so more Tom to come… stay tuned!!

As always, you can see everything I’m currently reading and find my profile on goodreadsHappy Reading!!!

Journey Museum

Wesley and I attended a program at the Journey Museum with our homeschool group.  It was called Aviation History.  The teacher talked to them about the history of aviation, specifically what impact Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base had on the advancements of aviation.  It was really interesting, and then the children were given lots of supplies and told to try to make an airplane.

Wesley made one airplane with a lot of the supplies and named it Lady Bug because it looked like the open wings of a lady bug.  The second one was made with paper and two straws.  That one twirled a lot when it was flying, so he named it Grayson (like Dick Grayson, Robin, from Batman)

After they finished making the airplanes, they brought them out of the classroom and threw them off of the balcony of the museum and watched them all hit the floor.

He had a wonderful time and couldn’t wait to get home and show everyone his airplanes!!!

 

4-H

I know there must’ve been 4-H in Hamburg (where I grew up), but I’m sure I probably had the same opinion of the 4-H’ers as I did of the FFA’ers.  They wanted to learn about cows and stuff.

That sounds so bad, and I didn’t think of myself as a judgmental person when I was a teenagers, but I guess anytime people are different from you, you just don’t understand them and like them without putting in some effort to get to know them.

Anyway, when we found out we were moving here to South Dakota, I started doing reserach.  It’s just what I do… and one of the first things I looked for was a homeschool co-op.  What that usually means is that homeschool families get together about once a week or so and do classes for each other.  Make sense?  They CO-OPerate!  So I start searching and I can’t really find anything.  I found some older ones that aren’t CO-OPing anymore, and I found one that seemed geared to preschool age kids.  Then I found one that looked amazing, I then realized it was going to be very expensive, and I wasn’t even sure that the boys would want to do the classes they were offering.

So, I joined a few facebook groups of homeschoolers in Rapid City.  One of them is has their own 4-H program.  I still knew nothing about 4-H, but their registration fee was only $15 for the year and the classes were mostly free.  This sounded perfect to me, and they were offering things that I knew the boys would love.  We signed up online ($5 each to the county), and then we showed up for the informational meeting.  We arrived an hour early because the class signups were based on a first-come-first-served basis, and I do NOT like to lose!

We got everything we wanted.  Price got photography, archery, and drama.  Wesley got archery, robotics, arts & Crafts, and photography.  They were both excited, and I was excited because it had all worked out.

Our first informational meeting was last week.  We were going to elect officers (the children actually run things in 4-H, like boy scouts, who knew??  Not me, that’s clear).  Anyway, just as we are about to start the very first meeting of this year, the adult president (there is a committee who overseas the children or decisions that the children just can’t make).  She read a prepared statement that basically said she was quitting, and she gathered her children and walked out.  Not only did her children leave, but 3 other leaders went with her.  The remaining leaders stood around completely dumbstruck.  They had no idea this was coming, and her doing it at that time was a complete shock.

Now, we were told the leaders for arts & crafts, photography, archery, and all animal sciences just walked out of the building.  We all start looking around at each other and no one really knows what to do.  We had all of the kids go to another room and some of the remaining leaders had a mini meeting while those of us who are brand new just sat and waited.

I have NO idea what has happened in this 4-h over the last two years, and frankly, I don’t care.  I found out all I needed to know about the woman who walked out right before the first meeting.  She could’ve saved everyone a lot of confusion and embarressement if she had told the other leaders before the meeting.  Even if she had told them the day before it would’ve been better than when she did it.  However, after a quick panic moment, everyone calmed down and they said they would need more parents to step up as leaders.  We still had some of the classes that they initially offered (just not the ones my boys wanted), and now they would need new people to step up into some of the missing classes and even new classes if anyone was interested.

Price had already asked me if I would teach a creative writing class, and I found the 4-h curriculum page (they offer a TON of class curriculums… it’s pretty amazing!)  I have ordered the creative writing book and I will be teaching that beginning in January.  And since we lost the photography teacher and both boys wanted to do that one, I volunteered to lead that one too.  I am less confident in my ability to do this one, but we will make it through.  I have the photography curriculum from the 4-H, and I’ve been looking for other ideas to use as well.  And since I volunteered, we have had others come up and volunteer for photography as well, so this has really been an answer to prayers.

I’m looking forward to learning more about 4-H programs and teaching these classes this year.  I can’t believe I never knew how awesome this program was.

We also have enough parents who have stepped up for archery, arts & crafts, and animal science.  Chyna volunteered to teach the animal science stuff since she’s taking the vet assistant class right now.  It has really been great to see how all of the parents jumped in and helped out when things looked like they would spin out of control.

I hope and pray that it will be a wonderful year and that we can show our children how we work through problems and deal with adversity.  We didn’t walk away… we didn’t quit when it got hard or scary… we just kept going… that’s what our family does.

Book Review – 6 November

Here are the books I’ve read since my last review.  We finished another family read-aloud, I finished another book from my personal reading list, and I finished a lot of library books.  I’m really surprised by the number of Juvenile Fiction books from our library that I just love as an adult!

Almhjell, Tone:

Thornghost was a really great book.  I was worried at first about it being too scary (I’m a complete whimp about scary stuff, but it had a great premise and the story really held my attention.  I definitely think this is a great read for older elementary and middle schoolers.  It’s also a good book to discuss what happens to our pets when they die.  It’s not a fluffy little books for babies.  This deals with some serious issues.  I loved it!

Alvarez, Jennifer Lynn:

The Guardian Herd: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (2015-04-21) This book was a good one too.  I wasn’t sure I would like it when I started because it was told from the point of view of a Pegasus.  I thought it would be too childish or not have enough depth, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This book is filled with action and adventure and I found myself wanting to sit down and read it instead of doing things that needed to get done.  It is, of course, magical and wonderful and has great moments of bravery.  It has wonderful friendships and shows the value of sticking by someone and believing in them even when other people don’t.  It is a great book, and I would say any age could read it, but middle elementary and older elementary will probably get the most out of it.

Amato, Mary:

Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook This book was such a cute concept.  I haven’t ever read a book like this one before.  It follows a boy named Edgar Allan, and he uses the notebook to write down his observations about multiple crimes committed in his classroom at school.  It is just such a unique concept and I love the way it is written.  This will be perfect for early elementary kids because the pages aren’t filled with words.  It is just a wonderful little book.

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories is maybe my favorite out of all the ones I’m reviewing this time.  It really is one of the best, most creative books I’ve read for children in a long time.  This class has an empty notebook and they fill it up with things that happen during the school year.  Beginning with the owner of the notebook thinking that their teacher is a vampire.  It is such a funny book that made me laugh out loud multiple times.  It also made me want to get an empty notebook for our house and start letting everyone write in it.  

Anderson, Hans Christian:

Twelve Tales I had already read some of these stories, but some of them were new.  These stories are really weird.  There are so many of them that end so weirdly and abruptly.  I guess we should read them because they are classics, but some of them are just disturbing and definitely not happy endings.  I think an older elementary student would be best for this book, but a younger one can definitely read the words.  They just might be more disturbed by the stories than more modern stories that are usually written for this age group.

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Helping Hands: Vet Volunteers, Book 15… the only one of the Vet Volunteer books that our library has is number 15, so that’s the only one I read.  It’s a great book for animal lovers.  This book is perfect for elementary and even middle schoolers who love horses.  I’m assuming that all of these books revolve around a different type of animal, but that might not be true.  This one was about a man who didn’t take care of his horses and how the volunteers rallied together to save the horses and work with the local vets.  It would be great to use elements of this book with a vet program for elementary kids.  It will at least start very good discussions about animals.

Bunyan, John:

Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress (Moody Classics)… We read this as our family read-aloud after two different people mentioned it and then I started reading Little Women and they talked about it a lot in that book.  This book was unlike any we’ve ever read.  It explains at the very beginning that it’s an allegory.  It takes aspects of our life and makes them characters.  The main character is Christian and this whole story is filled will characters that personify the fears and feelings that we have in our life.  Christian is on a journey to get to heaven, and this book walks us through the journey with him.  I’ve heard about this book just because it’s a popular book, but I’ve never read it.  I decided to start with the pictorial version of this book because we were reading it out loud and I wanted everyone to be able to understand it.  It was really good and just reinforces for us that we need to read different kinds of literature.

Penley, Janet P:

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths… This book was so good.  I really loved it.  We have learned all of our MBTI personality types, and I love the way this book talks about relating to different types as a parent.  It also helped clarify my own type and learn more about myself.  I recommend this book to anyone who is a parent.  If you know your type, this book will just help you clarify what you already know.  If you don’t know your type, this book is also great for discovering what your type is and for helping you find the next resource for discovering more about your type.