About Me

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I am an Air Force wife and mother of three precious gifts from God. I enjoy learning at home with my children, and the many adventures this life sends our way. So stop by often to visit, and check out what the Five Nomads are up to.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pickin' up the pace.

We've spent the last few days exploring and hiking in a couple of our National Parks. . .WOW! We had a great time, but now it is time to get back to serious traveling. We plan to arrive in Oklahoma on Saturday.

Stay tuned, as I've got some wonderful things to share.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On the road again. . .

We've seen a lot of this over the past two days.

Fortunately the kiddos have traveled very well. They were only a little giddy last night after 10 hours on the road. Can't say I blame them, I was feeling a bit punchy myself.

We're about half way there, but we are going to slow the pace down for a few days and do some exploring and hiking.

Thanks again prayer warriors for keeping us in your thoughts. I pray God continues to bless us on our journey.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Packing up, and heading out.

Well the bags are packed, the house is tidy, now just a few moments of calm before we wake the kiddos to head out on the next part of our moving adventure. Our time here has been so good. It was nice for the rest of my family to see the house we are going to live in, as well as the neighborhood we will call home. It may be the carrot we all need when things get a bit too cozy in our little TLF (temporary living facility) in OK.

We stopped yesterday and picked up a few gifts for our friends, yet they seem so inadequate. How do you find a "thing" that expresses how grateful you are? Seriously, what friend opens their home to a crazy, homeschooling family of five? Not just as guests, but cleared out portions of the house so we would have "our" space. This is the second time we have invaded these friends, they have been so good to us over the years.

It is really going to stink when they are gone when we get back. Although we have always followed a year behind them in all of our Air Force assignments, our luck ran out after Alabama. Now we are trading places. While we are in OK for the summer, they are moving to DC. (I think we are getting the better end of the deal this time ;).

Oh the shower just turned off. Now it is my turn. . . and we're off for the next phase of the adventure! Thank you for showering us with your love and prayers. We have felt them every step of the way. Keep them coming, and stay tuned. We are going to be seeing some really cool stuff this next week. I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Playing cards, the best teaching aid. . .ever!

I'll admit I am a bit nostalgic about playing cards. My Grandma used to play cards for hours with me. Most of the time we would play Rummy, but then there were great games of Double Solitaire. I would try to explain the games and rules, but you see there were no hard and fast rules. Grandma would let me "make-up" different rules. No, I wasn't just trying to cheat to be the big winner. I always wanted to make the games last as long as possible. There were a lot of "play until you get to the bottom of the pile" games. One time Grandma and I stayed up until 1:00AM playing cards.

I didn't really maintain my card playing over the years, that is until I began homeschooling. I have found you cannot beat the ordinary playing card for fun in math. We seem to go in spurts of playing, recently the games have been rekindled as Princess is still struggling with those darn multiplication facts. I'm still making up different rules, depending on what skill we need to tackle.

Here are some fun examples:
For the toddler/preschool set (Bubby's age) we play Slap Jack. You know the simple game. Divide the cards evenly, take turns laying a card down face up. The first one to recognize the Jacks hits the pile, yelling "SLAP JACK!" They in turn get to take all of the cards. The first person to get all the cards wins. This has been a great little starter game for Bubby. He caught on right away to the whole Jack thing, what little boy doesn't want to smack the heck out of everything? He is also learning the rest of his numbers. As I lay down different numbers I recite their name.

Once they get their numbers down, you can began to teach order. I like the good old game of war. Again divide cards evenly, each person lays down a card (face up). The person with the highest number wins. If there is a tie, you lay down 3 more cards (face down) saying, "I, do, declare war!" Then you lay down a card face up and whoever has the larger number wins that big pile. Very exciting.

When we started basic addition, subtraction and multiplication I modified the war game. We both lay down a card, but instead the child has to say the answer first. For example, we are working on multiplication. So Princess and I lay down our cards, face up. I say ___ times ___ equals, and then I give her a 5 second head start. She has to get the correct answer before me. We play until she has "won" all of the cards from me. Now do they LOVE this, not exactly. But they prefer it to flash cards, and I mix in other fun card games of their choice. Princess has been creating her own games, and I can't help but think that is good for her brain.

When they are in about 1st or 2nd grade, the one educational card game they all LOVE and beg to play is sums of ten. You lay down cards the ace, a one, a two, a three, a four, and a five. All in a row. Then you deal seven cards for each player. You take turns laying down on the piles, with the nine going on the ace, eight on the two, seven on the three. . .making the sums of ten. If you cannot lay down, you draw a card from the pile. If possible lay it down, if not you pass to the next player. Whoever gets rid of their cards first wins.

The beauty of card games is simply this, many are based on adding and subtracting your scores. Perfect for helping with math skills. Let the kiddos be the score keepers. They feel grown up, and when they are beating you they can't wait to add up those points!

Not only do I find these games a great way to keep some of our math skills fresh over the summer, cards are easy to carry along. The games keep the kiddos occupied in a quiet manner (unless it is a really close game, and then I'm sorry I just can't help but yell when they beat me!). Finally it is just a fun way to spend time together with your children. When we are playing, I'm building some wonderful memories--I know because each time I shuffle the cards I think of Grandma.

So there you have it, a little tip for summer fun that is educational. What are some of your plans for summer learning? Do you have a favorite teaching tool or game? I'd love to hear your ideas. Actually it is Princess, The General and Bubby who would most appreciate fun ways to keep school fresh this summer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Anniversary to the man who has given me the best gift of all. . .

Our family!

Today we celebrate our 14th Wedding Anniversary. At times it seems like yesterday we were walking down the aisle, beginning our life together. Yet on the other hand, life without my groom seems forever ago. I am so grateful God has blessed me with this man. He is more than I ever dreamed of, way more than I deserved. He is the perfect one for me, and I'm so glad out of all the girls. . .he picked me!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kayaking, a dream realized.

When we learned we were moving to WA State the first time, way back in December of '99, I began looking at fun things to do. The one thing that caught my eye was kayaking. My husband and I both love the outdoors, so I dreamed of all of these wonderful kayaking adventures we would share. Enter reality: two very small children and a husband who traveled A LOT. Needless to say, I left WA the first time with the regret that I had never kayaked.

Fast forward to Saturday, and my dream was finally realized. Our friends, the ones we have been living with the past month, invited us to join them for a day at the lake. . . KAYAKING! The clouds had parted, the sun was shining, who could turn that down?

So was it everything wonderful I had imagined? Yes, and more. Picture this: a beautiful lake setting with Mount Rainier prominently sitting in the background. You have to help me with this one, as in the picture below the sun washed the mountain out. It looks far away, but when we were there it was so vivid and close.
The weather was even better than I hoped for, as you can see we didn't bring suits for the kiddos. They started with wading, slowly getting deeper and deeper. You know how it goes, before long it was just all out swimming in their clothes.

Here was the surprise treat:

As one group was out kayaking the eagles showed up. Yes, there were two bald eagles and two American eagles flying around. Swooping over our heads, diving into the water fishing. Very cool.

So that is how I spent my Saturday. Kayaking on the lake, watching eagles soar, and enjoying the majesty of Mount Rainier and the joy of our children. Fun was had by all. In fact my husband, who has been a bit reluctant in my desire to outfit our family with kayaks, replied after our day, "I'm sold! Bubby isn't too young, we can get kayaks." YIPPEE!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eucharistic discussion with the kiddos.

This was so great I just have to share. One of our recent religion lessons sparked a very nice discussion about the Eucharist. The big kiddos have had their First Holy Communion, and are able to share in the Eucharist each week. Unfortunately they don't let three-year-olds into the class, much to Bubby's displeasure. He wants, "some of that body too!" Fortunately we have been able to stave him off with the beauty of the blessing. So all of you Eucharistic Ministers out there, if you see a small boy coming to you with his little arms crossed. . .please, oh please give him a blessing. It really breaks his heart when he is passed over. Sorry, I digressed.

On to the story. . .we were talking about our experience with the Eucharist, and The General and Princess began saying why they love going to mass each week. They love the Eucharist. Here's a direct quote that brings tears to this Catholic momma's eyes: "I love it because when you take the Eucharist in, you feel Christ. It is a warm, glowy feeling right here (they point to their heart)."

I know I have shared this before, but it is worthy of saying again, and again. God does not give children for us to impart our wonderful knowledge to the next generation. God gives us children to raise us up. Motherhood has been that for me. I am such a better person now than I was 12 years ago when I started this career. The General has taught me patience and to appreciate and celebrate every one's special gifts. Princess has taught me to control my anger. Bubby, well we are still a work in progress. I know my faith has and continues to deepen with each passing year, each new lesson.

There it is!! This is why I continue to give up my autonomy, a social life and lunches or coffees to homeschool my children. Without homeschooling, I know we would not be having this level of religious education or spiritual discussion. I'm not saying others haven't or do not do a good job raising children in school. I've seen them, and I love many schooled children. They are beautiful, smart and perfect. I just know with the five personalities in this family, right now homeschooling is the best option for us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birthday Wishes for The General

To the very special boy who made my dreams of being a Mommy come true, Happy, Happy Birthday dear boy. I love you more than words can express. The thought of life without you makes my heart hurt.

The things I love about my boy:

Although he is almost a teen, he still loves to play. Star Wars is one of his favorites.

He's not too cool to take silly pictures with Princess and I when we visit museums.

He's a talented artist, who is very passionate about his work.

He's a great big brother to Princess and Bubby. . . .always has been (above), always will be (below).

What young man puts on dorky shoe covers like this to take their little brother into a human kaleidoscope? And lets his mother take pictures, knowing full well the picture will end up on this blog for the whole world to see? The General. He marches to the beat of his own drum, which at times has been exasperating, but as a mature in my motherhood I treasure this trait. I love that he is comfortable in his skin, and very strong in his convictions. Most of all I love the beautiful heart he has for Christ.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nature's Adventures

We've been taking advantage of the recent sunshine by getting out for some very fun hikes. The General, Princess, Flipper (our friend's little girl who frequently sounds like a dolphin), Bubby, Flipper's big brother & the CEO of our little nomadic clan. Don't you think the two extra kiddos fit in well? I'm trying to figure out how I can steal them when we leave for OK in a couple of weeks.

The gang swinging on the fence like a bunch of monkeys. That is Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains in the background.
The General penned this poem in tribute to our love of hiking.

Nature's Adventures
By: The General
On the trail we hike and go

To see nature we must be quiet and slow

Look up high in that tree

See a bird's nest built so eloquently

Wow! A flower is in the clover

Watch out so you don't tip it over

That bit, fat, ole slug, a slimy trail he weaves

Now it is time for us to leave

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tip toe through the tulips.

No, this isn't a scanned postcard, it is a photo taken last week when the kiddos and I headed up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Tulips are my favorite flower in the whole wide world. So each year that I have lived in WA state, I make it a point to take the drive north and treat myself to this wonderful experience. This field of tulips is located at Tulip Town. One of two must stops for me whenever I visit the festival.

Notice how dirty Bubby is? He had a great time running on the path, finding clumps of dirt and throwing "dirt bombs". We only received a few "get your child under control" looks. Which made me laugh. If you cannot let a 3 year old boy get his energy out in an open field, not aiming at people, where can I ask are these little energy balls supposed to have fun?? It was a bit nostalgic as well. You see, The General was about Bubby's age the first time we visited the tulip fields. Guess what? He too loved to throw dirt bombs!

Here are my kiddos posing in front of one of the tulip beds at Roozengard's, another must visit stop in Mount Vernon. You'll notice that Tulip Town is more of the open fields, while Roozengard's has more flower bed displays.

You could spend the whole day here, just enjoying the views. The peace, the quiet, and the home-made fudge wasn't too bad either.

A little snuggle time with Mommy & Bubby. It doesn't get any better than this! (Didn't The General do a great job with this picture?)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's raining again. . .

Okay to all of you over the years that I said it doesn't REALLY rain in Washington, it just drizzles all the time. Well, I'm sorry. . .I lied. I honestly do not remember it raining like this, but for the past few days we have had steady rain. Not the drizzle, but rain that you can hear on the roof.
Along with the rain are the cool temperatures, so it is cold and wet. Normally not really a problem for me. At this point in the game I am not sun deprived, so it isn't the weather that is getting to me. Rather it is the wardrobe issue. I am so tired of the two sweaters I packed. Would you like to see me in the green sweater with the v-neck? Or how about the lighter green funky one with the v-neck? Packing for 5 months, with 3 seasons and not an endless amount of room was a bit tricky.
I did great on space. In fact my husband, the one who always gives me a hard time about bringing everything but the kitchen sink, commended me on my low volume when we were leaving DC. Fast forward to days and days of wearing the same cool weather clothing, and I'm wishing I had my closet back.
Church is a special treat. As I was packing back in DC I thought surely by May it would be warm enough to wear some sandals. You guessed it. I am looking like a frump every Sunday, which in itself isn't so bad. However, my husband has taken to wearing a sport coat and tie to mass. Invision this: A handsome man walks into church with his three beautiful children, followed by his dumpy wife. Last week when I complained that he looked too nice. He replied, "what happened to all your fancy clothes?" Well, umm, let's see. . . maybe in a storage unit somewhere???? Lesson learned: Do not try to please your husband and impress him with your small scale packing. Heap it on, make him find more room in your overloaded cars. He may be overwhelmed, but you'll look good! :)
On the bright side, we will only be here a few more weeks before we head south to sunny Oklahoma. Maybe God is just helping me out. When I'm roasting in the heat I won't be complaining about how hot I am, rather I'll be so very happy to have more than two outfits to wear. I'll be walking into church on Sunday with my fancy sandals feeling good about life.
Again, I am sorry about the false advertising about Washington State. I honestly did not remember this kind of rain! To all my WA loving friends, do you remember heavy rain? Didn't it used to just drizzle? Have I lost my mind???

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Homeschooling. . .I have options!

Well, I was out and about to meet more homeschoolers the other night. This time it was an informational meeting for Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA). Here's the 411. This program is for homeschoolers K-12. Basically you sign up, and they offer FREE classes in core and enrichment areas. The classes are taught by certified teachers or community experts. They also provide you a budget for homeschooling supplies. The only thing you have to do in return is have a learning plan on file with them. So far, this learning plan does not look very intimidating. Basically I would just have to tell them what I plan to teach for the year. I can also change my plan as the year goes along. There are no work samples and no mandatory testing. I do have to stay on site for any children under the age of 12 to provide supervision.
Now let me tell you about the classes they offer. They look like so much fun. I saw lots of cool art, drama, dance, science, etc. . . The General would have such a great time in some drama or art courses, and Princess would LOVE Irish Dance. However, I'm still investigating, looking for the hidden glitch. After our experience with the charter school in DC I am very reluctant to give up my autonomy.
As I am talking with homeschoolers here I am amazed at the support the school districts provide homeschoolers. You can take your homeschooled children to the local school, and take part in any of the classes they offer. Can you believe it? So you, as the parent choose what you want for your child. As I said before I'm still looking for the hidden catch.
Now, IF all of this is true, I am just so excited. Can you imagine how much fun we will have? How wonderful to have classes for the kiddos. Classes that I don't have to plan, organize & teach. We would be able to meet lots of other homeschool families. I'm trying not to get overly excited.
Two of the ladies I met had been doing the program for a couple of years, and they love it. They were so welcoming and kind. One even gave me her number.
So wish me luck as I continue to dig around for resources for our next school year. I'm going to continue to talk with people about ORLA, and also check in to the neighborhood school. ORLA really sounds fabulous, but it would be about a 25 minute commute, while the neighborhood school would be only 5-10 minutes. BUT, ORLA is all homeschoolers, so my kiddos may have more in common with them. At the neighborhood school they might be outsiders just coming in for a class here and there.
This is appears to be the most homeschool friendly place we've ever lived. Have any of you ever homeschooled here? Or do you know anyone who has lived here? If so, I'd love to hear your experiences. So far it looks very promising!