Celebrating nine years together!

This past Friday was our ninth anniversary!  Yay!  We really have an amazing life together.  So, in celebration, we took a hot air balloon flight.  Neither one of us has even been up in a hot air balloon.  We occasionally see them fly over our house and thought it would be fabulous to try.  We were right!

We got to the launch point bright and early, just as the balloon was being filled.

Here’s our pilot, Addison, from R.O Franks Hot Air Balloon Company.  I was a little nervous about our flight, but when he told us that he was a third generation balloonist and began learning from his mom when he was 15, I was really relieved.  This basket that he is in will hold himself and 12 other passengers!!

Lift off!

I have to say, I’m not generally scared of heights.  I’ve been sky diving and up to the top of the Empire State building, but there is something about looking straight down from the balloon that was a little disconcerting. :-)

The ground crew kept in touch with us the whole time we were in the air and followed us from the ground.  That way, they could be waiting for us on the ground when it came time to land.  Here they are, getting ready to follow us.

We actually live just on the other side of one of the mountain ranges that we were flying by.  That’s why, when the wind is right, they fly right over our house!

Morning fog over the Blue Ridge.

Woo hooo!

The winds were really calm for most of the flight.  It was a beautiful morning.

Kathie, I took this one for you.  The rooster was going crazy when he realized we were landing in his yard!  See him staring up at us?

Despite the 14 MPH winds that carried us over to this field, the winds calmed and our pilot gave us a perfect landing.  You could barely tell we touched the ground.  The ground crew quickly hopped on and began securing the balloon.  I bet they won’t need any other form of exercise today after pulling the humongous balloon to the ground!

To make sure the balloon didn’t fall on us, they let the air out slowly and pulled it to the side of the basket.

The massive amount of color and geometry was just beautiful!

Have a lovely weekend!

My first 360 Drop

I’m just so proud of myself for overcoming my fear of falling flat on my face that I had to share this with you!  I’m learning all kinds of new stuff in level two aerials.  But, I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face after learning this drop.  SOO MUCH FUN!!

My baby boy turned 3!!

What an amazingly lucky mama I am to have such a sweet, smiley, happy, loving little boy!  He brightens my day, every day!

We had a wonderful little party for him today, with friends and family, and balloons and face painting, and construction cakes… he was a very happy little man!!

I know, he looks like a crazy red-eyed demon child here.  I have a red eye issue with my camera :-)

Lots more pictures below:

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Dear Valentine,

You are my love yes, tried and true.

I wouldn’t not trade you for the perfect shoe.

You give me love from all your heart.

You even crack the window when you fart.

You’ve given me two amazing children.

Though it’s cause of your genes I’d like to kill them.

You still love my figure after two pregnancies,

Even though my boobs reach for my knees.

You’ll take time off with me to play,

And know not to ask me one more freakin’ time if I want to watch that crappy movie – Groundhog’s Day!

Yes, I love you for all this and more.

(Like that time you killed that snake and put a hole in our floor.)

I hope that this day you feel loved, Valentine!

‘Cause your stuck, ‘Ball ‘n Chain’ and all

And you’re mine!

 

I love you, Toby!

I DID IT!

After almost a year of taking aerial silks classes, I have finally graduated to level 2!  I’m very excited!  I had a long year dealing with pain in my fore arms and attributed it to week muscles.  After every 5 or 6 classes, my forearms would become so tight I would have to stop class and take a few weeks off.  I finally went to see a doctor and he said I have exercise-induced compartment syndrome.  The muscles in my forearms would turn on and would not release.  The doctor said I could try using heat before I stretched, but that I would probably have to have the fascia surrounding the muscles cut to get any relief.  I said, “um, no thanks!”  Especially since it only happens when I’m doing aerials.  Instead, I went to see a woman who does trigger point therapy.  She massaged my arms and said they were way too tight.  She showed me how to massage them myself and I did this every day for a while.  When I went back to aerials, guess what… no pain!  I’ve been able, finally, to do aerials without having to stop mid class or take any breaks, and I didn’t have to have surgery.  (Yes, I did tell the doc about this so he would know that cutting the fascia in the arms is not the only option!)

Anyhoo… today, as a new year’s gift to myself, I tested for level two and passed.  I had to complete two forms that are laid out by the teacher and also perform one of my own.  This is my personal form.  I was a bit shaky in the beginning (and the music is just a tiny bit off in the video, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix that when it uploaded).  Still, I’m proud of myself! :-)

 

 

Leif’s crafting

It’s not just Kaia who’s been crafty lately.  Leif has been holding his own.  Aside from helping me create a parking garage for all of his cars:

He has recently had his hands in lots of gloop!  We discovered a recipe during a science lesson and he can’t get enough of it.  His little hands have been busy playing, making me gloop pancakes, gloop eggs, gloop on a stick…  It’s more addictive than play dough!

 

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself.

Renaissance Faire

Kaia and I have been planning and looking forward to this trip for many months!  I knew as soon as we decided to study the Middle Ages that we would need to go to a Renaissance fair!  The Renn Faire in NC is one of the biggest around.  The village is built on 20+ acres in beautiful woods.  We planned to spend the weekend there so we could see everything.

Kaia quickly settled into her own queen bed. (Oh, let me tell you, it was such luxury sleeping in my own squishy bed, all by myself.  We almost skipped the festival so that I could just sleep all day!)

Kaia quickly discovered the joys of the ice machine.

We thought it was important to dress the part in order to get the full Renaissance experience.

Many, many more pictures to follow:

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The Healthier, Happier, Stronger Me!

Two months ago, I took the huge step of clearing my house of all grains, legumes, processed sugars, and processed/prepackaged foods.  From now on, my family and I were going to eat only meats (including fish, fowl, and eggs), veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, herbs and spices.  We were going Paleo.  For most Americans, (especially us former vegetarians) this would be a huge and daunting task, but I felt like it was needed.  We had become so use to grabbing a quick carb-loaded snack from the pantry and forgetting about the veggies in the fridge.  Our daily intake was super high in grains (mostly processed) and very lacking in vegetables and digestible protein.  I say ‘digestible’ because Toby and I have food allergies/sensitivities, and imagine we’ve probably passed these on to our kids.  Toby and I are both sensitive to dairy, soy, and beans, which doesn’t leave much in the way of protein if you are vegetarian.  I was vegetarian for almost 20 years and began eating meat during my pregnancy with Kaia.  WOW!  Did I feel good!  My body had seriously been lacking in protein!  Still, even after we added meat and eggs back to our diet, those made up a very small portion of it.  The carbs led the way and with them came the frequent blood sugar roller coasters, anxiety, depression, temper tantrums, bowel issues, acne, weight ups and downs, PMS, bloating… (Obviously, the kids had the temper tantrums and I had the PMS…. OK, and the occasional tantrum).  For many people symptoms run even deeper and they develop inflammatory and auto immune diseases, and more.

I saw and felt immediate changes, my energy was up and my moodiness was down, my blood sugar stabilized while I lost weight and inches.  Really, I feel fabulous!  I feel strong and healthy!  I use to work out here or there occasionally, but I found that I needed a place to put all of my new found energy and decided to start doing workouts at home.  This only increased the feelings of strength!

Since it was my decision to clean out the house and change my lifestyle, Toby and the kids can choose to eat as they please when they are out of the house.  However, in the house we are strictly paleo.  Nothing comes in that doesn’t fit into our new food pyramid and the whole family follows this lifestyle when we are at home.   (Well, unless a certain Nana comes to visit and brings along tempting tasties.  You know who you are!)  But, I’ve found that I’m not tempted to eat any other way.  I feel so nourished, and I don’t want to go back to the way I was.  Our meals are nutrient dense and toxin free.

Now, I know many of you are saying “Oh, I could Never go without my morning toast!” or “I just LOVE muffins too much to give them up”.  Well, here’s the kicker.  I can still have toast and muffins, but I make them myself and I make them without grains.  I use nuts, seeds, and coconut in most of my ‘bread’ recipes and love the results.  That being said, I eat those bread-ish type of things much less than I use to.

I know I’ve not talked about the science behind paleo… I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the research and science behind the benefits of living the paleo lifestyle. (How the insulin and glucose are processed in the body from one type of food or another, the gastrointestinal inflammation caused by grains and legumes,…)  But, there are many fabulous blogs and cookbooks out there to get you started if you are interested.

Mark’s Daily Apple

Everyday Paleo and her super, fabulous cookbook

Nom Nom Paleo

Primal Palate and their scrumptious cookbook

Paleo Comfort Foods and their delicious cookbook

Paleo Parents

The Primal Parent

The Primal Home

The Crunchy Pickle

The Foodie and the Family

The Paleo Home

Practical Paleo

And this is just a short list!  There is so much information out there and so many recipes!  I felt like it was a pretty easy change because of all of this support.

So, what do I eat, you ask?

Well, breakfast usually consists of eggs (fried, scrambled, omelets, egg muffins…), sometimes pancakes/waffles (yes, without grain and usually with veggies shredded up and added in),  sausage or bacon, muffins, or leftovers.  Lunch varies greatly and often consists partly of leftovers.  Dinner… well, for the next few weeks are dinners look like this: Tex/Mex Chicken and veggies, Biscuits and gravy with mashed ‘potatoes’ and green beans (yes, all without grains or dairy), Farmer’s Pie, egg salad sandwiches (with paleo bread), chicken and vegetable ‘lo mein’, mini-egg pizzas , lasagna (ok, this one does have cheese, but zucchini instead of noodles), red curry beef stew,  gingered butternut squash soup and lots of carrots, broccoli, other veggies and salads.  Yes, we eat well!!  No, I don’t feel deprived!

Oh, and please don’t worry about that fabulous new ice cream maker I just bought this summer.  It will still get good use!

My newest addition

I can’t tell you how excited I am about my newest knit!!  I love drinking out of a quart mason jar, but I always worry about dropping it.  So, I’ve made myself a jar ‘cozy’.  The pattern came from ravelry.

I’ve had a number of people approach me about it and some even ask me to make them one.  Who wouldn’t want one??  It’s awesome!! Keeps the tea warm, the water cool, and protects it from falls. :-)

Here it is pre-felting.

Leif was my ‘felter man’.

Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

My kitchen counters are covered with fat, yummy peaches!  Though I could probably eat about 10 a day, Leif begged for some muffins this morning, so in went the peaches.

Peach-Ginger Muffins
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup multi-grain flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
3 large Peaches cut into small chunks
½ cup walnuts – chopped
½ cup raisins
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup candied ginger chunks – diced
1 ¼ cups maple syrup
3 eggs
1 cup apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 350, and grease muffin tin (or use muffin cups).
Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix well.  Add shredded peaches, chopped walnuts, raisins, coconut, candied ginger, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk maple syrup, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until combined.
Pour batter into muffin tins ¾ full and bake 15 minutes.
Cools muffins in the tins for 5 minutes before taking out of pan to complete cooling.
Keep muffins in an airtight container.
Makes ~24 muffins.

 

SOOO Yummy!

 

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!

Last week, the kids and I were lucky enough to visit our friends at their  Lady Luck Flower Farm for a morning of flower picking! Kaia dove right in, snipping fists full of flowers.

Leif had fun cutting grass with his little scissors and digging in the mud.

Katie and Mike, our flower friends!

We filled three vases and our home feels so happy!

Suminagashi

Kaia has been in art camp all week, from 9-5.  When I pick her up, she spends at least 30 minutes telling me about what they did all day and showing me her art before I’m allowed to pull out of our parking spot.  She is in her element.

Last night, she just couldn’t get enough art and decided to break out the Suminagashi kit that I got her for her birthday (thank you Frugal Family Fun for the recommendation!)

It took just a little bit to get the hang of it, but once she did, Kaia covered our kitchen table and floor with her art.

We didn’t realize that this one had a heart in it until we pulled the paper off.

 

 

She would use an 8 x 11.5 piece of paper to pull of the first design.  Those would come out bright and colorful.  Then she would use half sheets of paper and do it again, without adding any more ink.  These had more subtle colors, but were just as beautiful.  I like the subtle ones the best.

Don’t worry, she almost dropped the paper at the end of the video, but it turned out fine.

 

 

My Sweet Baby Turns 8!

My sweet little girl is becoming a young lady! She is growing so fast, and that shy little toddler who use to hide behind my skirt is now stepping out to take on the world.

 

You are my I love you
I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favorite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

Author: Maryann K Cusimano

 

Kaia, on the day you were born you wrapped yourself around my heart. It was so full of love, I felt it might burst. Yet, somehow, as each day passes, I love you even more! Happy Birthday!

Memorize in Minutes Multiplication Review

School is out!  Kaia is officially a 3rd grader, and we are celebrating with doughnuts and a party!  But before I retire the curriculum for the summer, I wanted to tell you about Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables.  I bought this after hearing good reviews from other homeschoolers.  Adding in art and stories to Kaia’s math lessons seemed right up her alley.

When I first got it and looked through the book, I was skeptical.  Each number is assigned a word, like 2 is “shoe” and 6 is “chicks”.  Then a story is developed for each equation using these words as clues to the final answer, in this case “elf”.  And when you think of “shoe” and “chicks” you remember “elf”.  It sounded good, but I really didn’t think Kaia would know her multiplication facts just from hearing a story.

I’m very happy to tell you that it worked wonderfully.  Kaia really enjoyed coloring the picture of the equation while I told the story.  She would repeat the equation a few times and that was that.  We would do a new multiplication fact 2-3 times a week and review them once a week.  The book doesn’t cover multiplying by 0, 1, or 10 because those are pretty easy facts to memorize.  It also doesn’t repeat facts.  For example, once you learn 4 x 7 you don’t do 7 x 4. You learn as you go along that they are interchangeable .

When we finished, she taped them up on the wall in what she calls her “shrine to math”.

Working on the shrine

(The rainbow circle in the middle of the shrine is Robinsunne’s Multiplication Clock, a beautiful way of looking at the multiplication table)

She may still take a minute to think about the facts before giving the answer, but she knows the answer.  I think we’ll play lots of math games over the summer to help solidify the knowledge, but overall, I’m very impressed with the results!

 

Because today, I really needed to read this …

Beautiful words by Alicia Bayer to help me remember why I do what I do.

The Never-Ending Parent

Sometimes it’s hard to be a good parent.
Sometimes you wonder why you’re not like others
Who make themselves the priority, who are stern and unyielding
Or who let everybody else take care of their kids.
Sometimes you envy them their time, their space,
Their full night’s sleep.

Sometimes you start doubting yourself and wondering
If you really are just crazy, being this kind of parent
In this kind of world.

Your house is noisy and full of chaos
And you wonder if it will last forever.

I have a secret.  If you keep this up….
It will.

Think of it.

When you get up at 3 a.m. because your baby cries, think of the time
When he’s a teenager and calls at 3 a.m. to say he needs a ride
Instead of getting in the car with his drunk friends
Because he knows he can be honest with you and that he can count on you.

When you take the time to explain “why” for the hundredth time today
Wondering if you will ever get a moment’s peace and quiet,
Think of the days when your daughter is grown and on her own
And will still call because she loves your conversations.

When you discount all the well-meaning people who tell you to let your baby cry
And you go to him, hold him, comfort him anyway
Think ahead to the times when he’ll be a strong, secure, independent kid
And those people say “I don’t know how you were blessed with such an easy child.”

When you nurse your daughter and hold her close
Spoiling her with all that love and care, think of the time
When you’ll overhear her tell a friend
“My mom and I have always been so close.”

When the house is full of noise, mess and chaos
Think of the days when the kids are grown, and it will start all over
With your grandchildren, because your family is so bonded
That everybody still gathers at your loving home.

No, if you keep this up it will never change.
Your children will be in your life forever.
And honey, you’ll love the noise.

~ Alicia Bayer

Aerial Silks

For the last few months, I’ve been going to  Aerial Space to learn Silks.  I’m only able to go once a week but I’m having so much fun!!  It is a tremendous work out!  Right now, I’m trying to master the basic routines for level one.  This one is called Legs Basic Movements.  You can see, I still have to stop to shake my arms out when they burn, but I’ve gotten so much stronger!

This next video is what is called Arms Basic Movements.  I make a lot more faces with this one :-)  I LOVE the move that I do which is called the Iron Cross (where I look like a T).

 

Peeps Math

Kaia’s been using Right Start Math as her basic curriculum for the past 2 years.  It’s a great curriculum, but she’s gotten bored with worksheets.  So, I’ve been trying to work in more ‘living math’ done through experiments and hands on activities.  When I saw this activity with Peeps, I knew we had to try it out!  Kaia isn’t ready to take on algebra fully, but there’s no reason not to introduce her to it.

We laid out 5 peeps and she easily told me how much space they would take up if each peep were 2 inches and there was a 1/2 inch space in between each peep (12 inches). So, I put out 10 peeps and she told me that they would take up 24 1/2 inches.  We discovered that the number of spaces between the peeps was always 1 less than the number of peeps.  3 peeps, 2 spaces.  10 peeps, 9 spaces…

We discussed that we could learn how much distance the peeps would cover even if we had 6549 peeps, or any number for that matter.  So, then we set up our equation.  We called the number of peeps P.  If you multiply then number of peeps by 2 inches you will get the distance that just the peeps take up.  So that leaves us with the spaces between them.  If you take the number of peeps, P, and subtract 1, you get the number of spaces.  Then multiply that by 1/2 inch and you get the distance that the spaces would cover.   The final equation looked like this:

2p + (p-1)/2 = the distance the peeps would cover.

We decided to plug 8,000 peeps into our equation just to see how long that line of peeps would be.  We were happy to discover that if we had 8,000 peeps we could line them up from our front door, down the hill, past our 3 neighbors and to our mailbox 1/3 mile away.  (Peeps, you are welcome to send us those 8,000 peeps so we can give this a try!!  The chocolate covered ones are just fine, too!)

And of course, the reward for the math…

Spring has sprung

Though it’s been a bit rainy around here, we all have spring fever and enjoy the warm weather when ever we can!  I can get so wrapped up in the things that ‘need’ to get done for the kids schooling that I have a hard time just going with the flow.  I’m trying to take lessons from Kaia and Leif as they explore the world around them.

In preparation for warm weather, Kaia has finally decided it is time she learn how to swim.  I think she’s been capable of swimming for a few years now, but she’s a very cautious kid.  So, she’s never wanted to go under water, or take off her floats.  She’s grown in so many ways in the past year, though, and her confidence is really blooming.


She has her float around her belly in this video, but you know she could totally swim without it if she wanted!

I think this is the first year that Kaia has expressed any interest in getting in our small pond.  Leif, of course, had no reservations in joining her!

Here’s a little video of the pond area.  Sorry for the shaky hands.


And when we can’t get outside, there is always driving around the house with your bear.


Or playing hide and seek.

or snuggling with your favorite man.

How have you been enjoying spring so far?

Pine Car Derby Races

When Kaia heard her Girl Scout troop would be allowed to compete in the Boy Scout’s Pine Car Derby Races, she was very excited.  But, I’ll tell ya’ the person who was most excited was my former Webalos husband!  Kaia and Toby planned, sketched, and carved!  I burnt details into the wood and painted on some flames.  Kaia added weights to the bottom to make it weigh the maximum amount allowed so it would have more speed on the downhill slope. Then she sealed the holes with wax.  Today at the races, there were about 20 girl scouts participating and Kaia’s car, “Fire”,  took 4th place.  The top four cars were very fast!!!  Unfortunately, only the top 3 won trophies.  Kaia had a blast, though, and was super excited that her new friend took second place.

Silly Boy

This morning, Leif  and I were snuggled up in bed and he woke me up with his giggling and he mumbled something quietly.  I asked him, “What did you say?” and he replied “My bootie just said ‘pplllbbbbb'” !  I love that my barely -2-year-old little man can tell fart jokes!

This afternoon, when I was putting him down for his nap, he asked me to sing one of his favorite songs about a rabbit.  Then he asked for the one that he likes about a duckie.  Then he said “Chocolate?”  I said, “You want me to sing you a song about chocolate?”  “Yep,” he said!  So, here it is:

Chocolate cookies,

Chocolate bars,

I love chocolate covered frogs!

Chocolate’s yummy,

Chocolate’s sweet,

I’d eat chocolate off you’re feet!

A Magical Vacation

We just got back from a fabulous week down in Orlando!  Toby had a computer conference at Disney, so we planned a vacation around it and everything just fell into place!  We were able to visit with friends and family, and play until we collapsed from complete exhaustion!  There are A LOT of pictures to follow.  I won’t take offense if you stop reading here :-)

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Back from commercial break

Actually, I’m finally back from one crazy sick household!  Aside from a long, cold winter with lots of snow keeping us indoors, over the past 2 months, both the kids have had whooping cough, and Kaia and I had the flu!  GeeZ!!!  Talk about going stir crazy.  Luckily, we are all feeling better and in good health.  Just in time for our trip to Disney next week!!! (woohoo!)  But, being in the house SOOOO much gave me some time to reflect on all the stuff we have.  Way too much stuff!  So much stuff sitting around, going unused.  So, Toby and I have decided to down size.  Our initial intention was to get rid of 50% of our stuff, but realistically, that will probably be closer to 20%, or so.  I’ve made 3 trips to Good Will with the car full!  Boxes of books have been donated to the library.  And a few of the larger items are being sold.  Kaia’s room is what is left (and will probably be the hardest one since I have to get permission from the princess to get rid of stuff).  Ooooh, it will feel so nice to have de-cluttered!!

Leif enjoyed helping go through the cabinets with me.  (Man!  I love those little feet!!)

He also loved snuggling up with Kaia and me when we were sick.

And, of course, he knew exactly which rules could be broken easily when mommy was too tired to say ‘no’.

“Who me?  I’m not sitting on the table playing with your phone!  You’re hallucinating mommy!”