Search This Blog

Friday, February 27, 2015

Homeschooling at Last!

We are finally doing it!  We are officially homeschooling for the 2015-2016 school year.  To say that I'm excited is an understatement.  (Disclaimer: When you ask me again about homeschooling in a few months and I break out in tears about homeschooling - I can do that!)
As finances ran dry and our daughter started to show signs of a classroom setting not being her ideal environment, we started to think of other options.  We had always said that we'd homeschool if the school didn't work out anymore but at first, the thought was scary.  I won't lie, it is convenient for the kids to go to school.  And what about all the friends I had made?  In the end, those are all shallow reasons and I quickly realized that I was simply scared.
As we began to research it became clear that God had blessed us with many experienced homeschooling friends who were all willing to help and show what worked for them (Beth, Ann, Jennifer, Kim and Kendra).  Many of them graciously invited me into their home for a day or however long it took and let me snoop through their homeschooling supplies to my heart's content. Some took me to their meetings of the curriculum they belong to.  Some invited other home schoolers to talk about home schooling in general and to encourage me (and of course to talk about the ever important future of play dates!).  One very dear friend (Beth - you rock!) was available daily to answer my 7,000,000 questions and helped me figure out so much.  I already have an amazing support system and that is apparently the number one treasure you want to have when homeschooling.
After meeting with many of my friends and talking and looking up all the options in our area, I presented my perfect plan to David who then agreed that we would be homeschooling both Abby and Nathan.  Before we told the kids we asked what their preferences were.  Both of them have begged us to home school (Nathan since Kindergarten, Abby since first grade).
This will be an awesome and amazing and hopefully not short-lived adventure!  I can't wait!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Abby's Wild Kratts Birthday Party 2014

With all of my blog posts, let's just assume that they are late.  That way, there will be no more surprises on blog posts that are months late.  Like this one.

Abby's seventh birthday party.  (Where, oh where does the time go?)  She left it completely up to me as to what kind of a birthday party she would have and all she wanted was to be surprised.  There are quite a few routes this could have gone: Frozen, bunny-themed, kitty-themed, book-themed.  The possibilities were endless.  Unless of course you remember that there is also one eight-year old boy.  That drastically cuts down on the possibilities.  The one love all my children share is a TV show called Wild Kratts.  They used to love the older version where the brothers Kratts visit different habitats and the kids learn all about one animal per show.  The guys who are David and my age are goofy so the kids really enjoy watching them.  There is no potty humor and the show is educational.  A few years ago they updated their show and it is now mostly a cartoon, still starring the cartoon version of the brothers Kratts as well as three sidekicks and various villains.  The kids have learned a ton about animals and they run around pretending to be animals (Nathan's favorite is the beaver or any snake).  Even Isabelle can bond easily through this and understands enough to learn about animals.  It is nice to have something they can all bond over (although TV is usually always my least favorite choice - ask my husband, I have issues...).
In an effort to get Nathan to see Abby more as someone he needs to take care off, I asked him to help me with this task of planning a secret birthday theme.  He was very excited about Wild Kratts (or maybe just majorly relieved that it wasn't a bunny-themed birthday) and he sure can keep a secret.  After searching Pinterest, we came up with an easy way to make the famous Wild Kratts suits very simply.  You can go all out here but with limited time, I went for simple.  We got $2.50 shirts on sale at Jo-Ann in blue and green and got some black felt.  We cut out all the striping and simply sewed it in place.  We printed the creature power disks from various websites on photo paper, cut them out and laminated them and then cut them out again.  Circle velcro was sewn in the middle paw piece and the matching circle felt piece was glued to the creature power disk.  And guess what?  I didn't really take pictures of it.  :-)  You can see them on the group photo below.  I had quite a few games gathered from the internet and thought up myself to match the batches but the girls were just so excited just to play with each other.  They are still too young to be organized much to Nathan's disappointment.  It's hard being the oldest and the only boy.

The only budget I had for the birthday went into the shirts.  For decorations I simply used all the animals we had around.  It is amazing how many animals kids have!  Here is a really cute owl bag Oma sent from Germany.  On top of the cereal box is a squid I had crocheted a few years ago.  The cereal in the background is tradition:  On your birthday you get a box of your favorite cereal.  Abby couldn't decide, so here are Cocoa Puffs, Honey Combs and Lucky Charms.  The girl is smart, she got three boxes out of it.

A bear dressed up as a skunk.  I know, I'm hilarious.  No one got it. 

For Abby's school, Isabelle and me had made these pink cupcakes with marshmallow paw prints (again, thank you Pinterest for your ever inspiring awesomeness). 

The birthday girl for breakfast.  See how crazy her hair is every morning?

While everyone else was at school, Isabelle and myself got busy getting everything ready for the party.  Isabelle is decorating with animals (here with Nathan's white tiger from Alexander and Kathrin).  We also drew paw prints in a path from the car to the front door with chalk.  Again, no picture.

The cupcakes for home were in blue, Abby's favorite color, and green, the other color for the Kratts.  We also had bats on toothpicks as cupcake toppers.

The matching hat and vest I knitted for Abby for her birthday.  What I love most about Abby is that she loves everything.  Clothes, toys, whatever you give her, it is loved.  The two dogs are from Jennifer.  They came in a little bag to carry them.  How perfect for Abby.  She loved them.

But more than anything, Abby loves her people.  Here with her siblings, and Olive.  Rosie was here as well and Dick and Jennifer and of course all the uncles and Grandma.  That is pretty much what makes Abby's world great.

At seven Abby is a most wonderful little person.  She is still our sunshine in the house and loves babies and animals.  She wants to become an animal rescue person and still devours books by the dozens.  She loves her siblings and cousins.  She is also very emotional this year and is learning how to deal with that.  School has become a love-hate relationship.  Ballet is hard for her this year as it has become more of a focus on details rather than dancing.  Although she can do many things ahead of her age, Abby is a little girl at heart.  Bear still holds the number one spot in her heart for stuffed animals.  However, second place is up for grabs.  Her favorite color is blue, her preferred foods are fruits and dairy (cheese stick, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, yogurt).  She picks gummy candies over all others, especially the ones from Germany.  Physical activity is a drag but she loves playing the piano and is practicing well.  Baths for her take hours (I'm not exaggerating - 2 hours is nothing to her).  Doing her hair is torture.  Taking care of Hannah is pure pleasure and playing with Isabelle and Nathan could be done all day long.  While she still plays with Isabelle with toys, she is definitely developing into an imaginative player.  Although the Wii is always welcome.  While she is strong-willed (very), she is also tender and giving and can let you have anything you want.  

Life with Abby is colorful, exciting, challenging and just pure joy.

I know a girl

She puts the color inside of my world - John Mayer

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Most of these are from Isabelle since she is in that beautiful stage of life where the things she says are just so funny.  Unfortunately she's my third child and by the time it takes me to find a paper and a pen, some other child has already demanded my attention...  Alas, here are at least a few:

Isabelle, demanding: "I said 'juice'!"
Mama: "Ask nicely."
Isabelle, still demanding: "I want juice!"  (Guess that was a little nicer....)

Isabelle, while watching a movie: "Eat him!  Eat him!"

Isabelle, born in May, telling me in December, January and February: "I'm going to be sick until my bird-day."

Nathan can never find a food that I cook that he likes (unless I make bacon).  One night I made breaded and baked chicken and much to my surprise, the boy who always sees the glass half empty, gobbled that chicken right up!  What a delight to this mom.
I asked: "Nathan, so you liked that chicken, uh?"
Nathan: "It wasn't that bad."  (Wow!)

Isabelle walking through the kitchen: "I just want to die and be with God."  (Life is hard when you are 3.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love by Abby

I love Abby.   For so many reasons. One of them being her big, big heart.

While helping Isabelle clean their room today, I found a note I'd never seen before.  Abby had cut out a heart, colored it red on the front and two other colors on the back.  In the front is says in big Abby letters:

Love is Medason that heels hurt feelings.  by: Abby To: Isabelle

(Love is medicine that heals hurt feelings.)

I love that girl and she sure is medicine for my heart.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Christmas 2014

This year our Christmas went really well.  I was worried how it would work with Lorena not doing so well and me having a baby girl to watch.   But with enough planning and scaling down on certain things it went really well.  I got the dishes Russ got a few years back for the family to use, his chairs and then added my own table cloths, napkins my mom sent (which I loved and they reminded me so much of Christmas as a child) and lovely table cloths also courtesy of my mom over the years.

We actually always start our celebrations on Christmas Eve.  This year was no exception.  That is when the German's celebrate it and in order to celebrate with them, the kids get to open their gigantic package from Oma on Christmas Eve.  Since they are 9 hours ahead, we open it around noonish.  Which makes for very happy children.  This year Oma did something crazy and sent us TONS of cash.  She had me buy things for everyone that I thought they'd really like.
When I grew up, we also had to recite a poem, sing a song or read a Christmas story in front of the manger.  My mom was very pleasantly surprised when Nathan recited Luke 2:6-20 and Abigail and Isabelle both sang different songs.  Isabelle sang quietly as she always does, barely audible and with a shy look.  Abby on the other hand loved singing Oma a song in front of the computer (love Skype).   Almost as if she was sitting in our living room.  Not really.

This must be the most-loved Christmas present ever.  I suggested my mom buy him Broncos gear.  She got him a light jacket since he really needed one and by chance picked this hoodie.  The boy will NOT take it off.  I have to beat him out of it to wash it.  He sleeps in it.  Then he seriously tried to wear it to school.  Boys.  So many of their ways are mysterious to me.

For Isabelle's big present from Oma, she got this teepee for her room.  Here she is on Christmas day in her teepee with her super-soft blanket and animal pillow from Grandma.  So much love.

Abby mentioned at the beginning of the season that she loves all of our "Wadleigh 20__" ornaments.  Over the years we have bought one almost every year and then just in the years when we added babies.  My mom loved that idea, so Isabelle and Abby both got the above ornament.  On the back I dated them and wrote that they were from my mom.  Both girls, but especially Abby, loved them.

For Hannah my mom got this 1st Christmas pink horse with Hannah's name engraved.  Oh, and the elf hid 24 candy canes for the kids to find, like the one next to Hannah's ornament.

Another tradition has become that Grampy buys the kids and their cousins Christmas dresses and Nathan a suit.  This year Megan did a great job of putting together the outfits for the kids and getting accessories for the kids.  We had the kids dress up in the morning and had them walk down one at a time to show dada how pretty/handsome they were.

Somebody was proud of her pretty dress.  Her hair has gotten so nice and long.  For this special occasion she even wore a hair band.  She usually hates things in her hair.  Her dress held up really nice but her hairband fell victim to the ever chewing Betsy.  Even though she is a girl dog, she doesn't like accessories.

Pretty little Abigail.  She loved her glitter shoes Auntie Megan picked out.  Unfortunately her dress (and Olives, which was the same dress) didn't make it past Christmas.

The handsome little man who loves putting his hair up now.  We had him match his tie to the girl's dresses.  He looked so handsome.

For the group photo.  Crazy how much taller Nathan is than Isabelle.  

The cuteness!!!  I can't stand it!

Good.  It was overwhelming me.  Focus on food.  This is a tasty treat we got from one of our neighbors.  David had told him that a large portion of his roof was lifting off in a storm and they were so thankful, that they not only brought us this frozen and ready-to-bake treat but also a plate full of homemade cookies.  Yum.  They didn't make it until Christmas....

Christmas Day for breakfast.  We had a regular Wadleigh holiday breakfast: Sausages, lot of bacon, pancakes, potatoes with onions and peppers, fruits, the braid from our neighbor, toast, and various jams.  Oh, and of course by now various sweet treats graced out table thanks to Lorena.  Only the good stuff, See's candy and two full pounds of it.

The kids couldn't wait for presents.  Yes, their own as well but more so than that, they wanted to give out their presents.  This year Grandma gave them each a dollar per person and they could go and buy gifts.  It was amazing what thoughtful gifts they came up with for just a dollar!  It was a great experience for them (thinking ahead of time, planning, budgeting, crafting, etc) but more so it was a great experience for me.  Not only did it utterly warm my heart to take each of them to the dollar store but it also amazed me what they could come up with and how much they really knew about their relatives.
Abby just could not wait any longer to give me my present.  I LOVE nice mugs and always seem to break mine (I already broke 2 this year and it's only February).  Abby got me another wonderful mug from the Christian bookstore.

Isabelle opening her present from uncle Chris.  All she wanted for Christmas was a stuffed animal.  Actually the one she had given Abby for her birthday.  A gray elephant.  And she got it!  Along with the tiger and Oma bought another frog from Gund.  Isabelle was very happy.  Big brother Nathan as always helping her.  Between Nathan and Abby, Isabelle is well taken care of.  They both are so good with her.

Nathan getting his second football for Christmas.  See Isabelle in the background all happy with her stuffed animals?  :-)  Football was the big theme for Nathan this year.  He'd love to play but there is no way with all the injuries happening in that sport.  Especially since we just got over a concussion and that was very scary.  And it was only a minor one.

The amazing and awesome animal Sherpa blankets with matching pillows that roll up into stuffed animals that Lorena bought for all the girls.  Abby got a lamb and Isabelle got a dog.  They are amazing.  Normally I wouldn't say the price but this was so amazing, they were only $11!  And they are of really high quality.  The girls have been getting lots of use out of them.

This was one of the gifts Nathan picked.   :-)  He couldn't think of anything for uncle Mike who is admittedly hard to shop for.  So when we went to the store and he saw these, it was a no brainer for Nathan.  Good choice.  We all had a really good laugh and uncle Mike was a good sport for wearing them.  Other funny gifts included a horrible dollarstore tinsel Christmas tree (gold) that Isabelle got for uncle Chris "because he doesn't have one," and a Christmas hat from Isabelle for Grampy (think Bah Humbug) because "he wants that."  

The kids' favorite part of the day - when their cousins Rosie and Olive arrive.  It seems that now Rosie and Isabelle play really well with each other and Olive and Abby are joined at the hip.  For the longest time Isabelle would tag along with the two older ones.  Nathan and Abby fight a lot lately over Olive.  Poor Nathan.  

Isabelle and Rosie sitting next to each other during dinner.  We had lots of yummy food, including a new corn casserole, green beans, glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, and others.

And Olive and Abby in matching dresses.  These two are just loving each other and having so much fun together.

The baby!  Oh, so sweet.  She had a little dress to match the other three little girls but then I realized that dresses for babies are just a hassle (especially when they try to crawl).  So we put a snowy PJ on her instead.  That worked for me.  
What a fitting picture to end up on: a sweet little babe, just like the one we celebrated.  And His love that flows through our family.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Christmas Season 2014

Christmas.  My very favorite.  I love it.  Plan it for months.  Love celebrating it with our children.  It is the best - a season where Christ is highlighted as I wish he was all year.  Goodness dwelling in the world.  People are nicer, sweeter.  The picture above captures the feel of the season for me (other than love, of course, which the picture does not show).  Warm colors, peace, golden light of candles, and German pyramids displaying the story of Christ's birth.  (Tangent: In Germany, all nativity scene related people are in German clothing, surroundings, etc.  Woolen coats, hats, evergreens, the likes.  Note the shepherds in their dark woolen and long coats.  Not until I moved to the United States did it become clear to me that this history takes place in the Middle East and people would look and dress in such a manner.  Strange, uh?)  

One of my kids' favorite tradition.  Despite Hansel and Gretel and being born and raised in the land of Lebkuchen (a gingerbread like cookie that German's are famous for), I don't recall ever even seeing a gingerbread house or train for that matter.  Well, maybe at trade shows.  Anyhow, the kids love making this and even more so eating this.  Nathan may even skip the whole making process if he was allowed to.  Isabelle will secretly stuff one candy after another in her mouth.  Abby delights in decorating and creating something pretty.  Hannah loves to just watch them at this stage.  This particular train was gifted to us by Grandma.  Thanks, Grandma!

Speaking of the cutie pie, here she is with the little hat that had been worn by Nathan, Abby, Isabelle and now little Hannah.

A hot chocolate bar, or ice cream if you preferred that. This was a new and very simple tradition.  We just used what we had on hand, some nuts, cream, peppermint extract, sprinkles and/or white and dark chocolate chips.  The kids LOVED it.  Nathan chose ice cream while both girls opted for hot chocolate.  And again, my beloved German pyramid from my mom.  Thanks, mom!!!

Betsy, the newest member of our family.  Yes, I'm crazy that way.  Just in time for Christmas because she does remind me of a reindeer with her gazelle-like built.  She is the cuddliest little dog but quite a bit wilder than Copper.  We'll see how it goes.  The jury is still out to see if we will keep her.  She is quite a bit harder to train than Copper was and with little Hannah around, I'm not sure I have that much time to put into her.

Like I said, the hot chocolate bar was a total hit.  It surprised me that Isabelle and Abby chose hot chocolate over ice cream.  And another hat that has made its way from Nathan through the line to Isabelle.

Nathan of course chose ice cream.  He is also proudly wearing his Premier hat.  And another new habit: running around without a shirt on.  I'm trying hard to break him of that.  He loves to run around in just shorts.

The kids loved decorating their sugar cookies, as they do every year.  Here is Abby artistically working from high above the cookie.  Her hair is almost straight on the sides now but still curly in the back.  

And here are some of the creations.  As you can see, lots of frosting is mandatory.

Abby's creation - the figurine.

This, I believe, was Isabelle.  Doesn't it look awesome?

Each of them got to pick two cookies to eat right away.  Isabelle picked one with, how shall I say, minimal amounts of frosting?  And look all around her mouth and the tips of her fingers.  She hadn't had any red sprinkles yet.  NOT!

The boy meticulously decorating his cookies.  Although a lot of events are becoming child's play to him, decorating cookies definitely is not.  He still loves it as much as he did when he was little.  Probably correlates to the amount of sugar involved in the event.

Our decorating bags.

Nathan proudly showing off his creation which then was devoured with the same amount of pride.

The Man's birthday happened during the Christmas season as well.  Look at that happy face!  Crab! Unfortunately for him both his girls love crab now too.  Isabelle is still (in January) talking about how she wants it for her birthday.

One of the last pictures without big teeth in the front, although you can see them if you look closely (bottom two teeth).

Isabelle goofing off in her pretty Christmas dress.  I love her dark, dark eyes.  They are so much like her dad's handsome eyes.
The familiar elf took on a different role this year.  While the older kids have figured out that the elf is not real, there was no need for the elf to surprise them anymore with strange happenings (although for old times' sake, the elf still did it occasionally).  The elf did however hold a heart every day to share an aspect of Christ that they were to imitate.  And they had to find the elf every morning.  The elf did still hid.  Many of the examples were taken from Raising Arrows blog but also from other blogs.  In addition to the elf we also did our regular tree advent calendar where the kids could bestow more blessings on others (e.g. to give a hot beverage to the Salvation Army bell ringer) and find one activity (e.g. sing Christmas songs by the fire place, decorate gingerbread train, read Christmas book). 

Dave got me this for Christmas after I wanted it from a local school bazaar.  One person in our household gets to fill it out and then we display it for a while.  Then it is cleaned and the next person gets a turn.  This is Abby's list.

Another Pinterest idea, I created this board this year.  We didn't really use it this year as we already did the elf and both advent calendars and read Ann Voskamp's "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift".  We'll definitely use it next year.

Abby created this beautiful banner.  After Christmas I laminated it for her.  It was truly creative and Christmas-sy and just warmed my heart.

I love German Christmas decorations made of wood.  This is one of those examples.  A little something my mom mailed last year but they truly made me happy every single day.  The ornaments were affixed to the kitchen hood with poster tack.  

And there was the broken finger.  Poor little guy.  This is the first splint he got.  Because the break was at the tip of his finger, they couldn't put a cast on.  That made the whole experience so much more painful.  And of course it being a finger tip where all the nerves are.  Not a good choice if you plan on breaking a finger.  

I absolutely adore Christmas.  And having all these wonderful people to celebrate it with and for, is just the icing on the cake.