**I started writing this a few weeks ago, updated it last Saturday, and now just finished adding pics and editing . . . so some of this is kinda "old" news, but I wanted to get it posted finally!! :) **
It's been a while since I've done a random post, so I thought it would be fun for a change. :) Random pictures, random musings . . . little stuff that comes to mind throughout the day that doesn't seem to fit in a more focused post.
We just finished week 21, so we are just over halfway through the year. Crazy! I always love getting to the halfway mark and realizing that it's all downhill after that. :) Things have been going pretty well, overall. I still do not have us on a good schedule (i.e. we do not usually start very early in the day, because the kids like to sleep in and then I don't get them going quick enough after they finally get up and eat breakfast). At least it still only takes them 3-4 hours to get everything done each day. Sam has been working his way through a number of chapter books, which he reads out loud to me on the couch. I love that special time with him every day, and it still almost always gives me a thrill when I hear him reading so fluently--my boy who bucked at learning to read, for so long. Once he discovered the wonderful world that reading opened to him, there was no stopping him. :) Last year, it took him a number of weeks to read through his first Tintin book. Last week, it took him part of a day to read through his second. He also got a Batman Lego dictionary for Christmas and he spends time almost every day poring over that. :)
Julia, too, is making great progress with her reading. She's always trying to read book titles and other things on her own. I've even noticed her reading signs and things when we're out in town. Like Sam, she isn't keen on the whole learning process, but she's made great leaps since the beginning of this year.
We recently finished reading The Cricket in Times Square as one of our couch time books. We all loved it and I was all choked up reading the end of it. (Yes, I'm one of those people--I get all emotional over poignant books. :)) I absolutely love Sonlight's literature choices for this year; every novel so far has been a hit, and there are only a few history/geography books that the kids aren't crazy about, but I think they are still learning something. I know I am, anyway! :) We started out the year studying the Vikings, then moved on to learning about the Crusades and England in the middle ages, touched on a little bit about China and Marco Polo, and a bit about North American and South American peoples such as the Aztecs, Mayans, etc. Our most recent studies have been about the Renaissance. Personally, I enjoyed learning about the Vikings the most. :) They were very violent, but SO COOL.
We got a new computer a few weeks ago, and yesterday our cable internet got hooked up!!!! It is super fun to have both the new computer and most especially a high-speed connection! It's light years faster than our old dial-up. I'm feeling quite spoiled right now! We also got a wireless router so we can have wi-fi through the house. It's really cool and fun to be able to use my iPod from the couch or the bed now. :)
Last night we made our belated Valentine's Day dinner! Since we have church on Thursday nights, we decided to wait till Friday. Jim cooked the steaks and they were scrumptious!!! We also had mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls. And I made this chocolate cake for dessert . . . the ingredients were not cheap, but it is one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had. Definitely a treat you'd want to save for a special occasion, but so worth it! And we made homemade butterfinger ice cream to go along with it. :)
Oh yes, and we like to make V-day fancy and drink sparkling juice from wine glasses. Well, this year I tried something new--making our own sparkling juice using apple juice concentrate, seltzer water, and a bit of cranberry/raspberry juice. It worked beautifully! I found the basic recipe here at Tammy's Recipes, and adapted it. We got WAY more juice this way and everyone enjoyed getting to have seconds, thirds, etc . . . and then we mixed up another batch the next day, with the leftover cran/ras juice and seltzer water. It had a stronger flavor than the first batch with apple juice, but it was still yummy!
and these super warm and cozy mittens, which are made from repurposed wool sweaters!
this Etsy shop which sells similar ones and they are super nice, too, although pricey! I think I will be shopping thrift stores for some wool sweaters soon . . . :)
Jim and I have recently started something new with the kids. For years, almost every night before bedtime we have our family Bible time (which includes a Bible story/devotional, singing, praying, and sometimes working on memory verses), and this is a very important "anchor" in our day. Just a month or so ago, we decided to start something else. After Bible time, the kids get in their beds and then Jim reads a chapter or so out loud to the boys, while I read to Julia. The kids really love this, and it is a special way to wind them down for sleep. :) The first book Julia and I read was Ballet Shoes (which we gave her for Christmas), and Jim read Danger on Panther Peak (one of his faves as a kid) to the boys. Now they have started the first Hardy Boys book, and Julia and I have moved on to Betsy-Tacy.
She was so excited to discover it has a girl named Julia in it! :)
I guess I will wrap up this post now, but I just thought you all might like to see and hear a bit more of what we've been up to. I hope to be back to more regular blogging next week, with a goals post as well as a book review, and maybe some other stuff!