Saturday, October 31, 2009

our pumpkin

I can't believe my little pumpkin is now eight months old. She is sooooo big! (sing it and put your arms in the air) at a whopping 19lb. She is crawling and trying to pull up on my legs. She makes silly faces and rolls her tongue for her brother and sister. She tries to clap her hands but ends up just grasping them together and waving them up and down. She has my squinty left eye. She has three whole teeth and an adorable smile. She has a red birthmark on her lower back that her sister keeps trying to wash off in the bath tub. She has the hat that I made for Kenna a year ago and the sweet green sweater Aunt Christie sent for Kenna as a baby but her very own first pair of shoes. She pretty much has us all wrapped around her pudgy little finger.

Friday, October 30, 2009

the stuff of school

Textbooks, storybooks, reference books, workbooks, art books, teacher manuals, aides, manipulatives...copy paper, drawing paper, handwriting paper, construction paper, scratch paper...don't even get me started on the pencils, glue, scissors, paints, stamps, crayons, stickers and a million other things spilling out of our craft cabinet. With all this stuff, school can get cluttered, not to mention expensive. It's all too easy to begin justifying unnecessary purchases with the words "it's for school!" As I try to stay within our budget, I'm learning the importance of being creative, resourceful and organized with what we already have as well as just how many free materials and activities are available in our community.
We were able to borrow a huge set of measuring containers from our local Partnership for Children Resource Center, so now we get to have math class in the bath tub...or would that be baths in math class? Either way -it works. We also bring home "new to us" toys, games and videos every few weeks. We call it the toy library because it's much easier to say, Hey kids, let's go to the toy library! rather than, Hey kids, lets go to the Onslow County Partnership for Children Resource Center! (I mean really, what were they thinking?)
At his preschool graduation, Tristan's teacher presented him with the "Budding Scientist" award. Bless her, I have no doubts about how well this woman got to know my child. Recently, we checked out a book called Kitchen Science at the library and have found a lot of fun activities already hanging out in our own pantry. Tristan shined up a bunch of pennies with vinegar and salt, we are trying to start an avocado tree in a jar (it's actually our third attempt and it's not looking good -any suggestions?) and a little milk, food coloring and dish soap went a long way in entertaining us all for an afternoon even if the mess factor was a bit high with that one.
A few weeks ago, we visited the Neuseway Nature Park just up the road. We spent four dollars to ride the kiddie train but the planetarium, museum, animal exhibits and park were ours to roam free. Four dollars for a fun Saturday morning out together -even Dad got to go. The small planetarium may not have seemed all that spectacular to me and Shawn but when Tristan asked (with a bit of fear in his voice) if we were really flying into space during the introductory video, I figured it was worth it.
Days like that are good because on so many other days I feel like school is just this monster of clutter that has invaded our home. The stuff is spilling out of cabinets and boxes and the bulk of it actually lives in a pile on the dining room floor right now. I have to remind myself that the most important stuff is in the time I spend with my kids with or without books and papers. It's the days at the park as a family and the rare moments of peace around the dinner table when a real conversation happens or I witness Tristan and Kenna eagerly trying to teach Kate baby signs on their own. It's in that moment just before bedtime when Tristan is so cozy and content and happy that he blurts out "I love you, mom!" in that goofball voice he does. All the school stuff -the glitter and glue and games and flashcards- they are fun, helpful even and we are blessed to have them but they are not what it's all about...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

morning plans *updated

We're getting seasonal flu shots today. We're going with friends (...because who wants to juggle her three crying children in the doctor's office alone? much better to juggle six kids as a team...right?!) We're promising treats and playtime at a cool new park. We're counting on a stop at Starbucks. We have to visit two different offices to get them all done. We're going to do this. It will be fun or something.
Wish us luck.

We survived! The kids are now covered and Kenna was begging to go to the doctor today for another shot (seriously, kid?!) She has a little book called 'Corduroy Goes to the Doctor' and was really excited about getting a shot just like Corduroy! Even after the momentary scream of pain she still thinks it's cool! Tristan is not one to make light of such situations and made sure every nurse, receptionist, doctor and waiting parent we made eye contact with was aware of the fact that he would only be getting one shot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Books and Wild Things

This looks like a quiet, cozy reading spot don't you think?
I'd like to plop down among those pillows and picture books...

Oh, but what's this...?! My little Wild Things are hiding here...

in a silly pile of arms and legs and pillows and books and giggles...

We love this spot where the books greet us like old friends
and the walls become the world all around...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

birds at the OWLS

Before the whole dropped camera incident on Wednesday, I snapped some photos of the birds we met at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter (OWLS). The little Kestrel (top left) put on a fun show as his enemy, the Red Tailed Hawk (bottom right) just happened to fly overhead during the presentation. They said it is very rare for guests to have the opportunity to hear his voice or witness his cute tough-guy dance. We loved seeing the Owls up close -not a bird we get to observe at our fence feeder that's for sure. To follow-up on our visit, the kids had a chance to dissect owl pellets in their CC classes today. Tristan, my little scientist, seems to have met his match in the stinky balls of hair and rodent bones. I can't say I blame him for being a bit green in the face -they were really stinky. Classical Conversations is something we have just joined this month and I am really excited about the community. I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of tid-bits from our experiences there in the coming months so I won't go on about it right now. Right now I have a zip lock bag of mouse bones to find a place for and a new lens filter to order...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I love you, Filter.

That right there is why anyone who owns a nice camera lens (or even a sort-of nice camera lens) should own a protective filter for that lens. Today I was involved in a small battle between myself, my eight month old, my two year old, an unbalanced stroller, a paper plate owl mask and my camera. The camera lost (why couldn't it have been the silly paper plate?!) At the moment of camera to ground impact I couldn't even bring myself to look. I quietly tucked it into the bag (yes, where it should have already been) and tried not to think about the terrible crunching noise I had heard. We were in the middle of a field trip at the Outer Banks Wildlife Rescue Center with our Classical Conversations group. When one of the other moms said, "at least it wasn't the baby!" all I could think was, "oh, but it was my baby!" Does that sound wrong? Alright, my other baby. My not as special but still very precious not to mention very expensive, non-living baby.
Once I had worked up the courage, I went to remove my lens cap...and it was jammed...and there were tiny shards of glass around the edges...and the world was spinning like mad...and I nearly threw up all over the animal hospital floor. (I would have blamed it on the "cute" Opossum the nice volunteer was cuddling in her arms. Um, gross.) Later, while the kids were feeding the ducks and I had a moment to cry behind a tree, I pulled the camera out again and realized the glass could just be the filter. Oh please, oh please I prayed...and it was! It was! It was just the filter! Angels were singing! I wanted to dance a jig right there with the kids and the ducks! Or take a picture of them! Because I still could! So I did!

Monday, October 19, 2009

an Autumn weekend

The air turned from cool to cold. We lit our first fire and enjoyed it with pancakes and many, many rounds of Uno. There was a bonfire, hot dog roast and hayride with friends at the Farm. Pumpkins are sitting cheerily on the porch now. We shivered under blankets and hats at Tristan's soccer game. We are beginning to see reds, not just yellows, in the trees. The kids re-discovered their love of hot cocoa with marshmallows. Kenna helped me gather bunches and bunches of late Zinnias before the coming frost takes what it will. I love the colors of October.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

one thousand spiders on my porch

A couple months ago we began watching this Garden Spider outside our dining room window. Kenna liked running to the window squealing and tapping on the glass until the spider started bouncing her web in defense. Poor Miss Spider. Maybe that's what made her re-locate to the porch (or maybe it was my careless hedge trimming?) She even moved her egg sac which we've read may have around 1,000 spiders inside. The thought is creepy but also really amazing.

So, now there is a little spider work of art containing thousands of baby spiders suspended from the porch column. I just recently cleared that spot of Morning Glories (See? I told you they were messy). Tristan wanted to decorate for Halloween like other houses in the neighborhood but I'm not really a fan of Halloween decorations and told him that the Spiders have already taken care of it for us. While we're thinking about and watching the spiders I'd love to try this cool project over at Vintage Chica. I'm sure Tristan wouldn't object to a reason to use his hammer and I like the idea of spider webs in the house that don't contain thousands of spiders.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the campbell smarty-pants academy

A lot of people have been asking me how school is going and I know an update is long overdue.
So, here's my first attempt at a snapshot of our days...

Some days we begin our school routine and everything just seems to click into place. We cruise through our curriculum and I get that nice check-in-the-box feeling of accomplishment. Kate happily plays on a blanket, Kenna is in the mood to join us quietly at the table with a coloring book and Tristan is really excited about that new reader. Nobody falls our of their chair or whines about writing practice or wets their pants or cries about the broken purple crayon or spits up in the floor vent...because those are things that happen on all the other days. Those days when I might choose to slam close the books and holler cheerfully exclaim, "that's it, let's go outside!" We might come back to that lesson later after a little wind-in-our-hair break...

...or we might not. We might just spend the rest of the morning outside and the afternoon in our reading spot with a huge pile of library books and a bucket of Legos. We might choose to shift our attention to a special geography lesson or a messy science project. Whatever we do, I know the kids are learning and making progress in this thing called school. Boxes are being checked, if not in the order I might have intended, and the result is more fun with less stress. Some very wise friends have reminded me more than once that the curriculum is not my master. The days when we have to step away from the workbooks are not a wash just because we only made it through phonics lesson 12.8 when I thought we would finish 13.1. Maybe the sole purpose in some of those days is for me to learn hard lessons in patience and self-control (darn this temper of mine). I set out to educate my children at home and I am quickly realizing that I have just as much to learn as they do.
Welcome to the Campbell house where everyone is in school! While it's not always an easy thing, it's definitely a good thing and we are glad we have chosen this path for our family for this time.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Congratulations to you...
Sara! from ...and Baby Makes 4!
Melissa! from The Thomas Trio
Katy! from Three Pound Bag O' Chocolates

You will each be receiving a new copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible! Thank you all for your comments. This was so much fun you made me want to scratch the drawing and just send you all books. Seriously! I guess I'm just going to have to do this again so stick around and watch for another giveaway in the next month. What will it be for? Oh I'm not telling but I have an idea and here's a hint...

p.s. In case you were wondering, winners were chosen using an online random number generator...and thank goodness for that, I never could have chosen myself!
Also, would you three lucky ladies please email me your mailing addresses? Thanks!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

storybook giveaway!

A very heavy box landed on my doorstep this week. I am excited about this new edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible and the fact that I now have a bunch to give away! I have set aside books for a few special little people I know but there are plenty more in that box, so I want to share with you too.
If you think you're not going to be interested in a child's storybook Bible, just go to the website and click on the little media player in the bottom left corner of the page...
No really, go NOW, then come back here.
OK, did you check it out? Pretty neat, huh?
You want one now don't you?
Well, leave me a comment on this post by Sunday night and tell me what you think (about the book, the weather, your favorite pasta shape, I don't care). I'm looking forward to hearing from you and I'm really looking forward to sharing this beautiful book with you.
Monday morning I will announce three randomly selected winners to receive one copy each of The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition. Given the number of comments I usually receive, I'd say your odds are pretty nice! Good luck and have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

good morning glories

The Morning Glories have taken over my porch. They are growing up and over and under and around it and dropping dead buds and seeds all over it. It's a mess. A beautiful mess but a mess indeed. They reseed the flower beds around the porch every Fall so that every Spring I watch Morning Glory vines sprouting up by the hundreds and ask myself if I really want to let them grow again.
And every year I do, because I see those perfectly heart shaped leaves poking out of the ground and I remember how much I love them. I tell myself the tangled mess will be worth it.
And it is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

those dancing shoes

I can't believe it was a whole year ago that I made these sweet baby shoes. At the time I wasn't sure who they were for but it turns out they were meant for my own little Kate.
They were kind of a challenge and I haven't made another pair since but seeing them on her now has me itching to make more. Surely that pattern wasn't as tricky as I remember it? We need them in holiday red and winter blue and Kenna could certainly go for some pink or purple with sparkly buttons. There will be no shortage of cozy winter slippers around here this year!

Come to think of it, there is never a shortage of cute shoes of any kind around here. These kids have style, don't you think? They sure didn't get it from me but they have a way of inspiring me to make things like sweet baby dancing shoes.

Friday, October 2, 2009

lately... finally feels like Fall! Kate is fully mobile. Kenna makes me read Mercer Mayer's book, The Bravest Knight, at least three times a day. Tristan is enjoying the big kid freedom of playing with neighborhood friends on his own. My thoughts feel really scattered and the next few months are a big question mark as we await word on a deployment that may or may not happen.

While Tristan was riding bikes with his buddies the other day, the girls and I plopped ourselves down under the Maple tree in the front yard to enjoy the fresh air. We planted that tree when we first moved here and it has finally grown big enough to cast a shady spot for our blanket. Kate is getting to know Maverick a little better now that she is able to crawl all over him. She likes to play with his jingling collar and bite his ears, he likes the taste of spit-up. They make a good pair.
Kenna looked down the street a couple of times while we played and cried in her most dramatic voice, "I miss my brudder!" I know it's only a matter of months before she will be running to join him and the other kids on neighboring swing sets and trampolines.

We don't know if Shawn will be home for the holidays or not. We don't know if we will sit under our Maple tree next Autumn or if we will be planting one at a new duty station. A person can go crazy thinking about "what-if" and "if-only" and "maybe then". I can sit inside fretting over things I can't know or I can sit on a blanket in the fall sunshine with these smiling faces that have a way of bringing me back to now. I'm choosing to take each day as it comes, making the most of it and trusting in God for what's next. Lately, it's all I can do.

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