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Entries in life together (68)


A Math Lesson Is a Recipe for Fun

Since we (and by we right now I mean Mike) homeschool Michaela, her school year never really ends. She's had several long breaks but has continued to do schoolwork throughout the summer (though not as much as she should have done, for sure). The last few days, however, Mike has been getting her used to the idea of getting back into a more normal school schedule, and has been reviewing as well as moving ahead in her Math text.

She would never say that Math is her favorite subject. (And I have to admit it was never didn't come easily for me and I don't like to do things that aren't easy. Fortunately, she hasn't inherited all of my tendencies...) What we have learned, though, is that sometimes it has its benefits. One might be when you're studying fractions and part of the lesson involves measuring out the ingredients for a brownie recipe, baking them, and eating them!

That is such a coincidence, because I love to make brownies, and then eat them! I love Math!

Melting the butter was the first step, and because of the size of my beloved metal cake pan we had to double the recipe. Bonus! Michaela had to add her fractions to figure out how much we needed of everything.

She had no problem figuring out the amounts. She impressed me further by not only doubling a given measurement, for example 3/4 cup, two times, but also by telling me how else you could name the measurement. She easily went from 6/4 cup to 1 cup and 2/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups. I thought that was pretty cool. I couldn't do that until I was 24. Or percentages. Just ask my mom.

Eliana is always around whatever we're doing. "Smile, Eliana..."

Ooh, we need to work on that. "Try again!"

Alrighty then. Maybe later, eh?

Although this was not his Math lesson, Christian didn't mind helping out one bit.

And after it's all done, when you've measured everything out correctly, the results are quite satisfying.

Even Eliana agrees that Math is a useful subject.

And as for fractions...this is how the brownies got divided up:






That seems fair, right? I cleaned up the mess...



Life's a Beach So Pool It Together

Our final full day at the beach was full of fun; we made the most of every minute because the following day we would be packing up and cleaning the condo in order to return to Orlando...and reality (read:  a LOT of laundry). The waves that day were huge for this beach.  The surfers were very happy, but the waves were too strong for the kids to go in; the current would have sucked them out right off of their feet.  We made them stay on the beach and just out where the waves broke and the surf came gurgling and swirling over the sand.  They made the best of it and since they couldn't get out the boogie boards they grabbed some nets and went fishing!

Cousin N. (in the white shirt) was the fishing pro!  He caught about six, one pretty good sized one.

Cousin J. was right on their heels, net in hand.  If N. bent down to get a look at what was swimming by, then J. was bending down peering closely into the water.  He had to be careful, he's shorter!  That water would come and smack him in the back and knock him down!

Catching fish; eating fish.  Of course, these were from a bag, not the ocean.

My girls...

Normally, Eliana wants to do whatever Michaela is doing, and will follow her wherever she goes.  On the beach the story goes a little differently. Here comes the water...

There goes Eliana...

From a safe distance she stomps her foot and shakes her hands and shouts,"COME! ON!"

A ball lured her back down...

It sneaked closer and closer to the water...

but she would not be fooled...

She ended up playing happily under the umbrella, by herself sometimes...

and with company at other times...

My sister-in-law and her husband (my brother-in-law-out-law?)...

They took care of me a lot while we were at the beach.  Wendy bathed my big kids, and helped them get to bed.   She made them dinner and sent them to brush their teeth.   She put sunscreen on them.   She watched them outside.   Actually, it sounds like she took care of my kids, huh?  (Where was I?  What was I doing?)  And do you know, Bobby thinks I'm funny.  That is just the best compliment ever.   If I can make someone laugh, then I feel complete.  Thanks, Bobby, for laughing at me.  With me.  No, at me. This is one cute boy.

The suits match, but their personalities are so different.  Well, actually they are very similar in confidence and opinionatedness, but at the same time it is expressed differently.  I hope they are always good friends.

Like their moms.

It will be interesting to see how Eliana fits into the girls' scene over the years.  Right now it works out because she wants to be where they are and they love having her around.

A dad in the pool is like a cookie with's just better.

They sat outside and ate their lunch, all six of them.  They all looked so big, even Eliana.   I got tears in my eyes.  Is something wrong with me?   I am Hallmark's dream target.

While Eliana took a nap the rest of them were banned from the apartment wanted to stay outside and read...

By the end of the day everyone was worn out.  While I got Eliana settled and Wendy was taking care of the girls, the boys got to work on this project...

They built this giant tower using all of the Legos, except the ones with wheels, and they did it together.  This is what I think of when I think of our time with family.  Building, together.  Building our relationships, building our memory stores up, and lots of together; at one point there were ten of us staying here.

We're home now; leaving is always hard.  As Wendy and I hugged at the airport, there was that final squeeze, and she said,"Don't make me cry now!"  I put on a big smile and shook my head,"No!"  We have the next time to look forward to.  Besides, we need to catch up on some sleep.  Watching movies every night is totally fun, but we are not in college anymore!  There are children who wake up in the morning and want breakfast.

While it's hard to leave, I also have a lot to do around here!  Our summer is far from over...


A Love I Love To Watch

I think he's biting off more than he can chew...

He is actually skipping in this picture...

Explaining how the Florida landscape looked long ago before condos and highways made an appearance here...

He doesn't mind taking them in the ocean...

He can carry a heavy load...

The lure of is a part of him.

And he's excited to pass that along...

His strength is in his gentleness. His gentleness is born of his love.


In Keeping With Tradition...

Family traditions...they can be so meaningful and comforting. Some traditions would be better left behind, however.  For example, leaving for the airport an hour later than you planned is a tradition that I think we would all say is one worth breaking. Aside from our crazy ride to the airport and check-in, my flight with the kids could not have been better.  I hinted at my not-looking-forward-to-flying-with-Eliana attitude before; the last flight we were on six months ago I held her on my arms in front of me as she was stretched out on her back screaming.  The lady in front of us glanced over her shoulder more than once.  I wonder if she thought I was having fun?

I was prepared on this flight, though.  And Eliana is older now (that happens when months pass by, you know).  I had markers, a writing pad, a small container of play dough, and baggies and baggies full of snacks.  I had Goldfish.  I had Annie's graham bunnies.  I had a Z-bar.  I had snack size Pringles.  I had tiny smore's crackers.  I was well-armed with weapons of mass distraction.  Eliana had a great time with the markers, because she doesn't get to color with them very often.  I may have sacrificed a shirt for her entertainment but it was absolutely worth it.  The small smore's crackers (tiny chocolate sandwiches) were a big hit.  She was silent and happy for the last hour of the trip eating her nine little treats.  She separated each sandwich, took the chocolate off with her finger, then ate the cracker part.  She was quite methodological about it.  I honestly couldn't believe when the captain said over the speaker we were beginning our initial descent; it didn't seem like we had been in the air long enough for the flight to be over.

Christian and Michaela were also very well behaved.  They colored, they played a game in their activity pad, they read a little.  They also enjoyed their snacks.   I gave each of them snacks in their own bags so that they had some control over when and what they ate.  I think they really liked that.

We all survived the trip, no one got sick, and the drive over to the beach was uneventful.  Everyone was awake until after 10 pm or so, and then Eliana dropped off, then Christian.  By the time we got to the condo, Michaela was very tired.  I got Eliana inside and put her in her jammies, then in her bed.  Christian was next.  I brought him in, got him to go to the bathroom, and his aunt got a t-shirt for him to put on.  Unfortunately, by the time he got in his bed he was quite awake, and had just had a forty minute nap. Now it was midnight and three of the six kids were awake.  My sister-in-law, Wendy, and I had talked about letting the older kids (four children:  8, 8, 6, and 6) sleep in the same room this summer instead of splitting up according to our respective families.  This arrangement was not working so well with our late arrival, which followed their late arrival not much earlier than when we got there!  I pulled Michaela out of the room and put her in where I was going to be.  Christian was still pretty wired, though.

Wendy and I talked and then said,"Now we have to go to bed."  Then we talked some more and said,"NOW we have to go to bed."  Then we talked some more and were interrupted by a door opening and a little voice calling out,"Is it morning yet?"  This question was followed by hysterical giggles.  Indeed, it was Christian, whose laughter is usually quite contagious, but at 2 AM it was not so.

Wendy and I were in shock.  For one, we were supposed to have gone to bed an hour ago!  Then there was the fact that not only was Christian awake, but the cousins were now awake!  I ended up moving Christian in my room.  He told me that he wasn't tired and he asked if he had to go to answer was YES and that there was no other choice.  Nighttime is for sleeping.  He finally drifted back off, but Eliana woke up, and Michaela went to the bathroom; Eliana noticed that the big kids were in the room and took forever to go back to sleep.  The whole night went on like that...fortunately there are super-duper black-out shutters on the window in that room so that I got away with telling them that it was still night for a long time.  Finally Michaela got smart and checked out the window over the front door and told me it was pretty light outside.   I was forced to roll out of bed around 8:45, which doesn't sound all that early, except I think I slept about 45 minutes total.

Getting back to traditions...I realized this morning some of the more important things that I forgot to bring on this trip to FLORIDA, the SUNSHINE STATE.  Number one:  my sunglasses.  Classic move on my part.  Number two:  my razor (also very helpful when you go to the beach).  Number three:  the two back-up camera batteries, and the battery charger.  And in keeping with beloved traditions my camera promptly died this morning just as the kids were trotting single file over the bricks to the gate that leads to the beach.  I was able to take a few pictures last night of the girls seeing each other, but other than that, not really anything.  I've been very sad.  I'm taking pictures in my head.

I'm taking these mental pictures of the kind of traditions that I hope will last beyond my own lifetime...the time with cousins on the beach and in the pool, the matching outfits and braids, the family get-togethers, late nights with in-laws who also happen to be very good friends. We've had a great time so far, and are looking forward to many fun days.  There is a birthday celebration in the very near future, and the Fourth of July fireworks.  And there will be pictures...soon!  For now, I'm headed to bed...tomorrow morning is going to come fast.


A Day for Dad

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

This is what came to mind tonight when I thought about Mike as a dad.  The first thing I thought was,"Mike is patient, Mike is kind," and it went from there.  While no dad loves perfectly, Mike loves our kids with all of his heart.  I love watching them together... I tried getting a sweet picture for Father's Day; here's the best I came up with...

...and what these pictures say to me is that Mike is indeed patient!  He is also protecting Eliana from flinging herself over the back of the couch.  His tolerance level for their crazy shenanigans is so much higher than mine.  They eventually pushed him off of the couch screaming with giddy delight. It's all about the love here.  And the tickling.

Happy Father's all the special dads in our lives.  We love you!

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