As many of you know, school has been a huge struggle for Chloe. Her speech has made reading very difficult, especially outloud. She has been afraid to even try, worried about getting embarressed when she can't do it. This year has changed all of that. We dropped the reading program we have been struggling with for almost two years and started over. What a difference! Chloe started doing the Explode the Code series (I actually bought it for Aidan but he isn't ready to read yet so Chloe is using them). She is flying through the pages and loves the fact that for the most part she can do it on her own with just a little bit of guidance from Mom or Dad. She is reading at a second grade level right now, which six months ago, she couldn't even do. Praise God!!
Aidan has really been struggling with memorizing his letters and phonic sounds. So in an effort to help him out, we are doing Alphabet Lapbooks. He is making a double book for each letter. We are filling it up with all kinds of activities he has done with each letter. He is really enjoying it. Brenna is even working on a smaller lapbook for the alphabet. Here are some pictures of Aidan's A book.
The front cover. Sorry about the sideways picture. I did fix it but sometimes iPhoto has a mind of its own.
The apple tree is from the kids' favorite learning website, Starfall. I love this website. It has so many free activities on it. After the first of the year I will be investing in the $35 yearly membership so we can access the entire site.
School this year has been very busy. I am teaching more than one child this year and I love it. Aidan and Brenna are both doing Kindergarten work. Chloe is doing awesome in every aspect of school this year too. I will share pictures soon of Chloe's big project this year--The Little House on the Prairie Series.
The kids are already at the table waiting for me to get their schoolwork started. =)
We had quite an ecclectic mix of costumes this year...
And no Dorothy costume would be complete with out her "Toto".
Here is the whole crew...
Let the Trick or Treating begin...
It was a good night but Nana, Matt and I were so glad when it was over. =)
This weekend we went to a local art festival, Nana, the kids and I (Matt was at home doing homework as usual). It was slightly cloudy in the morning but that quickly burned off to reveal a beautiful morning. The Arts & Crafts Festival is a fun event, things for the kids to do and lots of artwork to admire. So I didn't take many pictures of the booths (plus it was way too crowded to attempt any pictures). But we had so much fun checking everything out.
At the wharf were two ships--The Lady Washington (featured in the first Pirates of the Caribean movie) and the Hawaiian Chieftan. These wooden tall ships are beautiful. The kids were so excited to see the "pirate ships".
The kids were excited just standing on the wharf and looking down at these tall ships. So imagine their response when I told them we were going to go tour the boats. =) Nana and Daulton stayed on the wharf while I took the older three down to the ships.
After the kids were done exploring the ships we headed back up to the deck of the wharf.
Here we are heading off the wharf and back to the car. The Festival was getting way too crowded to manuever the stroller and four kids. So we decided to head to another local state park for a picnic lunch and some more exploring. Check out that post here.
When our family was smaller, much smaller, I mean just Matt, Chloe and I, we went hiking. A lot. One of the things that Matt and I love about the Pacific Northwest is the amazing state parks and hiking trails all around us. We would take advantage of that quite a bit when Chloe was little. A few years and three more kids, we realized that we have lost that love of the great outdoors. Let's face it, it can be hard just getting the kids in the car to make it to church on time. So the thought of getting lost in the woods with four kids is a bit overwhelming. But we decided to go for it.
We found a sturdy backpack for Daulton, one designed for hiking at a garage sale. We bought an annual pass for our state parks (budget cuts). Buying that pass meant we had to go to a state park at least three times in the next year for the pass to pay for itself. We figured that was doable. So we loaded up the kids and headed out. Our first hiking trip was Deception Pass State Park. We drive by this park quite often but since it is one of the most visited parks in Washington state, we rarely stop there. Today we decided to be tourists in our own backyard.
This was the first glimpse of the bridge as we headed into the woods from the car. It was beautiful, wrapped in the fog. You can barely see Matt on the trail ahead of me.
We stopped at the beach first before starting our hike to the bridge. The kids love any opportunity to hang out at the beach. It was quite crowded since this was one of the first nice days of summer.
It is so hard to believe that she is growing up right before our eyes. Chloe was so excited to go hiking and exploring.
Since we haven't done much hiking lately, these two weren't quite sure what to expect on our trip. They were just excited to be out with the family doing something together.
We hiked through the woods, catching glimpses of the beach and bridge here and there. It was such a beautiful northwest day. Brenna was a trooper heading up the trail. Chloe and Aidan kept trying to take over the lead from each other. Daulton thought it was great to be on Dad's back for a change and Mom was just enjoying the time together.
This is Brenna's new "cheese" face. It is a little scary I know. Plus I didn't have our Nikon with me and the smaller camera has a slight delay before snapping the picture. I did her hair in pig tails that morning for our hike. She then pulled them out in the car and who knows what happened to the elastic bands. So the the rest of the day she had this great hairstyle. =S
Once we got up to the bridge, Chloe got scared. (I will admit that walking on the bridge is very scary, it shakes as large trucks go across, the wind blows across the bridge and it is very high). So I challenged her to conquer her fears and cross the bridge. So white knuckling it she started across.
We got partially across the bridge when she relaxed and just enjoyed the view. The fog going over the bridge was cold but the kids thought it was cool to walk through the "clouds". You can barely see a sailboat going under the bridge in the above picture.
I snapped this picture halfway across the bridge. Just as proof that we did it. =)
Here was the view from the bridge. Too bad the fog is in the way. We started our hike at the tip of the land you can see through the fog (on the right).
We always go on trips and there are never any pictures of Mom, since I am always the photographer. So this time I made sure I got a couple of pictures too.
This shot was taken from the small island between the bridge. The bridge is actually two bridges. The larger bridge crosses Deception Pass to this small island, than the smaller bridge crosses Canoe Pass and connects Whidbey Island to Fildalgo Island.
Daulton enjoyed the hike. We let him wander around for a few minutes while we rested before crossing the bridge again.
I was proud of the kids. They did a great job on the hike. Much better then we thought they would to be honest.
After we hiked down from the bridge we stopped and at lunch near the beach. The kids were very hungry.
It was a great day. Hopefully we will get more hikes in before the rain starts again. It was a three mile hike. Not too bad for our first one in years.
It has been a hit and miss kind of summer. The weather will be nice for two days, then it will rain and be cloudy for five. Not exactly the kind of weather you want to go camping in. So to make up for it, Matt put the tent up in the back yard to "camp" out with the kids.
Matt always teases me for buying such a big tent. I bought it when it was just the three of us (Matt, Chloe and I) but I must of had an feeling that we would need a big tent. Now with the six of us, there is plenty of room. =)
Aidan was super excited about the tent. He had been asking to have it up for most of the summer. After Matt put it up this is what we found.
Nothing cooler then taking a nap in the tent. He went out there on his own with his blanket and crashed. =)
It is so hard to believe that our big guy is now 1 year old. He is still a big guy--30 inches long, and 25 pounds. It took him about nine months to finally double his birth weight. =) He is still trying to learn how to walk but is getting closer every day. He manages about 5-6 steps before falling down and crawling. He is still my happy, laid back little guy and I absolutely adore his smile.
With Daulton and Aidan's birthdays only being six days apart, we kept things simple for Daulton's first birthday. I will admit I do feel a little bad that we didn't do anything super special for him (we wanted to go to the zoo but the weather has been so unpredictable this year that we cancelled that trip). I don't think he cared though, he was just happy to have his favorite people around him. So instead of a big party, we had a family dinner.
In an effort to save money this year, I have been making each child's birthday cakes/cupcakes. I really wanted to make a giant cupcake for Daulton's first birthday. It did not turn out as good as the other kids' cakes though. =( More on that later.
This guy didn't care that he didn't get a big party. He was having a blast at dinner. He got to eat his favorite food--hot dogs.
This picture crackes me up. My kids love corn on the cob and have asked for it all summer long.
Nana and Poppa joined us for dinner. It was nice and quiet. Just what we needed after such a crazy couple of weeks.
We even kept his presents simple. My parents got him some much needed clothes. We got him a couple of Little People car sets. Daulton loves cars. He makes a cute little "vroom" noise while pushing them around.
Daulton was so excited that he couldn't wait for Matt to finish putting his new toy together. It was very cute.
We kept the older kids out of the living room for about 40 minutes so Daulton could play without them taking over. It just about drove them nuts that there was a new toy in the house but they weren't allowed to touch it. I know Daulton appreciated the quiet time to play, he doesn't get that very often around here.
This is what happened to Daulton's cake. It collapsed into itself. I was pretty mad. We think when the kids were running through the house they aided in its demise. So we went to plan B.
Not as exciting as the big cupcake but it worked. I had made everyone else normal size cupcakes so we had plenty as a back-up.
We ended up giving him the smashed cake anyway. He wasn't too sure at first. He kept barely touching it and looking at us like he wasn't sure what to do. So mama decided he needed a little help. So in honor of Uncle James.....
Once I showed him how to make a mess, he went to town. It actually looks much messier than it was.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Big Guy!! We love you so much!!
We have had a long, wet, cloudy summer. I haven't even unpacked the kids summer clothes yet, the weather has just not been warm enough. Without the school routine to keep them occupied, all four kids have been getting on each other's nerves. So today I decided to break out some art supplies and let them create.
I love water color paint. It does not stain and is easy to clean up. The kids enjoy it as well.
Brenna had so much fun watercoloring that she turned herself into a canvas. I forgot to get a picture of her after she painted all over her stomach. At least it washes off easy.
Aidan is not a kid who normally gravitates towards art projects, he would rather just build something. But if the supplies are out than he will go for it. I always love listening to his explainations of his artwork.
Chloe's artwork has come a long way. She loves to watercolor. She insisted on drawing her picture first and then filling it in. She has an amazing art teacher at school who is also a professional artist. She has really instilled a love of art in Chloe.
Daulton was not going to be left out. He kept trying to pull the garbage bag off the table so he could see what his brother and sisters were doing. It won't be long before he joins the art projects.
Aidan has been impatiently waiting for his birthday to get here. He watched Chloe and Brenna have all the fun at their parties and just didn't like waiting for July 14th. His birthday finally showed up and he was beside himself with excitement. He is into all things Superhero and we decided to do a Super Hero birthday party. I must admit, his birthday got put on the backburner this year due to us being so busy. But we managed to pull it off even if it meant some long hours for Mom and Dad.
The decorations were fairly simple, especially since the kids would spend most of their time outside. Matt printed out a bunch of pictures of superheroes that Aidan liked and we stuck them on the windows.
Aidan has been asking to have a 'flag sign' up for his party ever since he saw Chloe's. So I cut out blue and red pennants (I cut the scallops off since they were too girly for a Super Hero party). Instead of spelling out "Happy Birthday Aidan" I decided to say "Super Aidan". It seemed much more fitting.
Aidan also asked for snacks at his party. I tried to keep them simple--PB&J sandwiches, Goldfish crackers, watermelon and Capris Sun drinks. There was hardly any food left at the party (which made me very happy).
I decided to do cupcakes for Aidan's cake. They are just so much easier with kids. So I made some chocolate cupcakes and whipped up some blue and red frosting. Super cute! The little Super Hero cake topper was actually a leftover from his birthday invitations which we made. It made a perfect topper for his cupcake.
Here are the super hero masks I made for the kids. These are super easy to make! I got the template here. I just traced the pattern onto felt and cut them out. I then hot glued thin elastic to the back of each mask. I covered the glue with a scrap piece of felt on the inside of the mask. I decided to make them in a variety of colors that way each super hero would be different.
A super hero is not complete without his cape. I was orginally going to order some cheap capes but when I went to get them they were out of stock. So we had to come up with another plan. We got the idea to use sheets. (Okay, I must admit, I use sheets for all kinds of projects--tableclothes, costumes, back drops, art projects and more. They are cheap (from Wal-Mart) and you get plenty of fabric to work with). So we cut two twin flat sheets into 8 rectangles. I then hemmed all of the cut edges. I folded over the tops and added some ribbon so they could tie it around their necks. If I had more time I would of done a fancier neckline but they worked great the way they were.
Each kid received a cape when they walked into the door. We put a tarp down for the kids to color on. I have a bunch of fabric markers and each kid decorated their own cape. They had so much fun coming up with their super hero names. It was neat to see their creativity unfold.
After everyone finished their capes they picked out a mask to wear. The kids kept their masks and capes on through most of the party.
We attempted to do an obstacle course with the kids. Here is Matt trying to line them up and explain they were suppose to climb up the climbing wall of the play set, go down the slide, use a frisbee to knock over some blocks and run to the tire swing to 'save' the baby doll. Sounded like a great plan, right?
Our plan worked for the first couple of kids then the rest got tired of waiting so they all ran through the obstacle course at once. So much for planned activities. After that, we just let them run around the yard and play.
After the kids played and ate for an hour, it was time to round everyone up for presents. That was quite a feat, trying to round up all of the super heroes.
Once everyone was assembled it was time for presents. Aidan was super excited.
Aidan received so many great presents for his birthday. He was so grateful and excited.
Daulton had a blast playing with all of the tissue paper and wrapping paper afterwards. He was giggling so hard, it was adorable.
The cupcakes were delicious but the frosting did stain just a little. =)
Living in a small town has its perks. Especially our Fourth of July Celebrations. It is the one time when most of the community gathers for the parade and in our largest city park by the beach. You get to see people you don't normally see on a daily basis and catch up on life. The kids love fourth of July here and I have so many great memories of this summer holiday from growing up here. This year was no exception.
Before the parade started the kids ran around and danced. There was a band across the street from us playing patriotic songs. It was a nice treat.
My mom and I have a store called The Curly Girly Boutique. We sell our crochet hats, pettiskirts, tutus, sewn projects, hair accessories and much more. The girls were my models today showing off our "Firecracker" Pettiskirts and Brenna is wearing one of our "Sailor" hats. They both looked adorable.
(Yes, her shoes are on the wrong feet, as usual =)