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Everything posted by Alice

  1. Interesting suggestions..I’ll have to check them out. Thanks! We can do either stay in one place or change. I’m pretty comfortable traveling and the kids are pretty easy. I would likely do an Air BNB if we stayed in one place but I’m open to it being more than one place and renting a car and driving around. Also interesting...thanks! Well, no, of course not. :) I thought about Chicago and had it on my list. When we went I was in a conference so the kids and dh actually got to see a lot more than me. The only thing that had made me think no was that it wasn’t that long ago that we went so I was thinking of going somewhere new. I think they would like that it’s somewhere that older brother hasn’t been...or doesn’t remember. Especially since he’s traveling out of the country. Maybe we could meet up! :) Last week in March. Roughly the 27th through April 1st. My son likes cold weather...but not as much me. I probably should have left that out of the description of what they liked since it’s not a huge factor. I think we are open to cold or warm.
  2. Help me pick where to go for vacation over Spring Break (week between Palm Sunday and Easter). Background: Dh and oldest son are going to Chile for a missions trip for spring break. Because of that we won’t really be taking a big family vacation next year so I’m planning on taking the younger two kids (ages 8 and 11) somewhere while they are gone. Parameters: We’ve traveled a fair amount so I’m trying to go somewhere newish. No beach as we go to the beach in May with my parents every year. We’ve been to NYC, Boston, Chicago, and all through California. No Disney because I’m not a theme park person and I don’t want to go there for Spring Break without dh. I don’t want to go there with dh either. :) I’m trying to avoid really heavily touristy areas, although I know it’s high season everywhere. But not Florida. The 11 year old likes the outdoors, cold weather, animals, and not a lot of people. His favorite place he’s traveled was probably Alaska with his aunt. The 8 year old likes cities, fancy hotels, hiking if it’s fairly active and exciting (rock scrambles but not just walking), and lots of people. Her all time favorite place she’s been is Chicago. They both like museums in small measures. They are both good travelers. They both like to be pretty active so no going to a cabin and sitting and playing games. We live near Washington DC and I’m willing to fly if we can get a good deal on flight or wiling to drive if it’s within about 4-6 hours drive. We will likely go something 5-6 days. My thoughts so far have been Atlanta or San Antonio. Atlanta because I know they would love the Aquarium (we’ve been but they were little and barely remember it). And I can think of other things they would like. I was playing around with the idea of driving and seeing some other things on the way there and back. San Antonio because we’ve never been to Texas and I think it would be fun for them to go somewhere their brother hasn’t been. I picked San Antonio just because I keep meeting people who say how cool it is and it looks like oodles of stuff to do. And flights seem fairly reasonable through Southwest. I also was thinking about the Pacific Northwest because I’ve never been there either but I’m not sure I want to go travel that far and use that much of our time in travel. Thoughts? Have a great other idea for me?
  3. Sure, we just started in September this year. We meet every other week which seems to be about right for us. It’s two hours once a week. We have 8 girls which is about the right number. We are in a co-op and invited all the girls in my daughter’s age group class at the co-op. We discuss one book per week. We have a variety of reading levels. One girl asked me to pick “really long books that take weeks to readâ€. I know two others who have their Moms read them most books. So, I’ve tried to pick books that are relatively easy to read but are still meaty enough for discussion. We talk about the book for roughly 30-40 min and then do a few activities or crafts and have a snack. Then they typically have a bit of free time to play at the end. We’ve read: The Happy Hollisters (picked as the first book because they all wanted a mystery and had read a lot of the usual suspects.) The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes Sarah, Plain and Tall Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson The discussions we’ve had have are mostly helping them to start talking about books in a slightly deeper way than “I liked it†or just summarizing the plot. But we’re not doing hard-core literary analysis. :) Usually we start with what everyone liked or didn’t like and why. I try and get them to explain what they liked...it’s exciting, the characters are good, it’s funny. And what they don’t like...it’s boring, I didn’t like the characters, etc. And then we talk about one literary element or theme in the book. For example, we read Ellen Tebbits and Otis Spofford at back to back book clubs. They are from different perspectives but the characters are in each book. So we talked about perspective and what it’s like to see things from different perspectives. The activities vary. I’m not super crafty. My daughter LOVES crafts. :) We mix it up and usually I aim to do 2-3 games/crafts for each book. For the Otis Spofford discussion, we talked about the idioms “seeing through someone else’s eyes†and “walking in someone else’s shoes†to go along with the perspective idea. Then we played two games. One was a relay race using crazy shoes (swim flippers, high heels, etc) . One was a Lego build game where they had to build a structure that someone else had created by having the other person describe it. We’ve also done Charades or played games that are in the books (hopscotch for The Hundred Dresses). The crafts usually go along with the books. I’m more about the process than the finished product so we don’t make Pinterest worthy stuff but it’s fun. For the Hundred Dresses, I put out all our art supplies and they designed dresses. For one book they made book marks. For the Christmas book we decorated cookies. We have a snack that relates sort of to the book. Usually something they ate in the book or that seems to go with it. Cooking and prepping the snacks is a fun activity for me and dd. There are some resources online, although I didn’t find as many as I thought I would. I bought this book which has good ideas: https://www.amazon.com/Kids-Book-Club-Activities-Organizing/dp/1585425591/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1513817364&sr=8-15&keywords=book+club+kids Hope that helps! It’s been really fun and has been something my daughter and her friends really love.
  4. I think kids should have some say. At that age, I think it’s reasonable to listen to their thoughts but make a different decision. We’ve done that with our one kid who has talked about going to school. We’ve told her that we can revisit it as she gets older but that at her age we think this is ultimately best. My daughter is super social (and the one kid who has talked about not homeschooling). I have realized that to successfully homeschool her I have to provide her with a LOT of social options. She needs it in a way that the rest of us don’t. We do a co-op. I started a book club this year for her and a bunch of her friends. She does a bunch of other activities. I’m very pro-active about inviting friends over and giving her social time. She also needs interaction with me in a way that my boys who are more introverted don’t. In many ways, she is harder to homeschool (for me as an introvert) even though she is my most self-movtivated learner. I don’t think I could homeschool her if we didn’t do all the extra stuff. I also think that at her age it’s good to realize everything can be only for a year. As a family you could agree on a one year trial of homeschool (or public school) and see how it goes and then revisit options in another year.
  5. I don’t know about food culture, but I do know some cultures or people who think it’s polite to say no the first time and so if a person says no, they are just being polite. My grandmother was this way. If she offered you something (food, gift, help, money) and you said no, she would ask again at least a couple of times. She claimed this was a French thing (she was French) and that you couldn’t accept a no unless it had been said three times but I never knew if it was really just her or was truly cultural. It became a family joke of sorts. She would say “Do you want __†and I would say “No, no, noâ€. I could see her thinking that if she asked “What can I bring?†and a host say “Nothing!†she would think the host was just being polite. **I’m not advocating this way of thinking or saying I do it. Just that I’ve seen people who seem to think this way.
  6. It probably would bother me in the situation you described. But pretty much every event we host is way more casual than that so it doesn’t ever bother me in real life. :) I like the idea of giving them something to bring that you would be ok with (wine, flowers, ice, dessert). I think for some people it’s really hard to not bring anything. Or they hear “No just bring yourself!†and think you are just being polite but really want something. You will never convince them otherwise.
  7. I like the food basket idea. To go with the “Winter’s Night Theme†You could add a board or card game. There are huge ranges of prices, but you can get fun card games fairly inexpensively. Or a favorite chapter book of yours that maybe she hasn’t read yet to her kids. Or a book for her. Warm socks? Favorite teas. Flavored honey. We did a Movie night basket for a family gift once. It was a bowl for popcorn, some special popcorn, hot chocolate, marshmallows and several videos.
  8. I think you could be helpful if you go, especially if you stay in a hotel. You could help with the son. It also sounds like MIL is expecting Christmas as usual and I can’t imagine the niece having to deal with that alone if you aren’t there...not sure if there are other family there. If you are there dealing with MIL and helping with the young son that could be a very loving way of helping your niece in a practical way. It’s hard to know what people want who are grieving because everyone is so different. I think it’s good to ask niece, if you can. But she might not say what she really wants or she might not even know what she really wants. Part of helping might be going and then being open to doing what seems to be best when you are there. A fault of mine is that I tend to give people space when people are grieving because I think that is what I would want...but I’ve learned that other people don’t always want that.
  9. Card games...Phase 10 or Capitalism/Feudal Wars (played with regular cards, two slightly different versions of the same game). With a big groups we play Feudal Wars with multiple decks of cards and it gets really fun. Even young kids can play.
  10. I have a Fitbit Zip. It’s the one that clips to a waistband or bra. I hate things on my wrist so chose that one. Also, it’s cheap. And it doesn’t do all the extra stuff that I didn’t want (HR, sleep, etc). I think it can be a useful tool, but can be used incorrectly. It gives you an idea of baseline activity. You can then try and increase that baseline. It helped me to see times when I felt like I was active, but wasn’t. For example, on days I work. I would have thought I was more active there than at home but when I started using it I realized I get very little activity at work. It also helped me to see patterns in activity...for example days that are consistently harder for me to get in steps. It’s also is ridiculously motivating to get things like the little badges or to see the little fireworks when I hit a goal. I know it’s kind of silly but it still makes me happy. The article points out some of the downfalls. I think as long as you know what they are and use it as a tool, it’s fine. My does keep track of several days at a time if it doesn’t sync for some reason or if the battery dies. It has stored data for up to a week at a time. It doesn’t track water exercise, and doesn’t do well at things like biking. It does exercise classes fairly well.
  11. The two best pieces of advice we got when we were getting married were: 1) It’s never 50/50. Sometime it will be 100/0. And sometimes you will be the person giving 100 and sometimes you will be the person giving 0. But if both of you do your best to be the one giving 100, you’ll be ok. 2) Not everything you think needs to be said out loud. Both were from couples in our church who had been married a long time. The second has been particularly helpful to me. It was told me by our pastor’s wife who was a very outspoken woman. Most people were giving advice like “don’t go to bed angry†and to talk everything out. And she said that she realized that sometimes she thought things that when she slept on them, she no longer felt. It was helpful for me to realize it was ok to process something internally and not talk everything out. Obviously, the big stuff needs to be talked about but sometimes it’s ok to let things go.
  12. Yes! The mud pits were also super cool. We do this thing on family trips where we take photos of funny signs and then make them into T-shirts for our boys. In Iceland I got a photo of a sign on the Black Beach saying “Swimming is Dangerous†that also had a funny image of a swimmer being overwhelmed by a wave. We thought it was funny as a Tshirt for our son who is a swimmer. But it turned out we missed his favorite Iceland sign...by a mud pit...â€Caution, stepping off the path may melt boots.†:) Also agree that if you stay in an apartment or Air BNB that using the grocery store is a great way to eat cheaper and to experience more of what the locals eat. Other than the hot dogs, we pretty much made all our meals ourselves. Our kids always think it’s fun to try snack food in different countries. The other food memories we have of Iceland is really good cheap chocolate and a particular brand of cheese puffs. And since we went to France right after Icleand, it’s saying a lot that the Icelandic chocolate is what we all remember.
  13. We went last fall in Sept/Oct. It was awesome. We combined it with a trip to Paris. We spent about 3 days in Iceland, then flew to Paris for 5 days then back to Iceland for another day. Random thoughts... *We flew Wow Air. Great fares, and we were happy with the airline. It’s no-frills but the people were nice and it was super efficient. *To us, everything was beautiful and we wished we had more time there. We stayed in Reykajvik in two different AirBNBs and just did things we could do within a days drive. One day we did the Golden Circle loop. One day we drove along the coast to the Black Beach. Another day we did the peninsula that is just east of Reykajvik. We would all love to go back and travel further and see more of the country. *Highlights... -Hveragerdi was by far our favorite hike. It’s a place where two rivers come together, one of which is geothermal. You hike to the river and then can change outdoors and swim. It was a cold day and a gorgeous hike and then unbelievably cool to swim outdoors in this hot river. We still as a family joke on every hike we go on... “What could improve this hike?†“A hot river at the end.†-We did not do the Blue Lagoon as we heard it wasn’t kid friendly even though they are allowed. It was also pricey for a family of five. We did do The Secret Lagoon which was a great experience. We went at night which made it even cooler. On our last day in Iceland we had a little bit of time before our flight. So we looked up things to do and discovered that there are tons of public pools in Reykajvik (and probably other towns). It was cheap...like maybe $20 for us all. Their were two geothermal pools so we swam outdoors in about 40 degree weather. The pools had a water slide which the kids loved and also lap lanes which my swimmer son loved. He can now say he’s done an IM in Iceland. There were also about eight hot tubs that got gradually hotter so you could find your perfect temperature. And it was pretty much just locals, including a couple of school groups that appeared to be on either a field trip or some kind of regular PE class. If you had kids, it’s a fun alternative thing to do if you just have a bit of time. -The Viking Museum was also a good way to spend a bit of time. -The Flea Market in Reykjavik was a great place to get gifts. Wool sweaters/socks/ lava jewelry. They also had samples of hakarl (the rotten shark that is a national dish) that we could try. -We went to the Bridge Between the Continents. That was interesting, and the kids liked saying they were standing in North America and Europe. We did it as part of a day driving around that peninsula and also visiting a lot of other geothermal sites. -The hot dogs are weirdly good. I think they have lamb in them (but I don’t usually like lamb so it’s not like they tasted like lamb). There are some hot dog stands that are famous among tourists but we all voted that the best ones came from the gas stations. -We rented a car. I’m not sure that you could see much without a car, unless you were part of a tour group that had buses. -We also got to make a trip to the Icelandic ER on our last night in the country. My daughter still tells everyone that she is the only person in our family who has been to the ER in two continents. :) Hopefully, you won’t have to do that. -Pretty much everyone we met spoke English so language was never a problem. -Iceland is a country of readers, which I loved. When we got back I told my husband that I think the country was made for me...sparsely populated, people who love books, rocky coasts and cliffs, hot rivers... Definitely go!
  14. Singular is a good option for some people but there is a significant subset of people who have the side effects. My son got really moody and weepy on it when he was younger. On the other hand it’s a great alllergy med for my husband who gets super tired with any of the typical OTC allergy meds. It’s always good to know going in what the side effects could be so you know what to look for.
  15. :lol: Don’t even get me started on Doc McStuffins. Sure, all her patients get better. But she has a magic stethoscope. If I had a magic stethoscope.... The Winnie the Pooh article was especially hilarious. Rabbit.." tendency to be extraordinarily self-important... He seems to have an overriding need to organize others, often against their will, into new groupings, with himself always at the top of the reporting structure. We believe that he has missed his calling, as he clearly belongs in senior-level hospital administration.†:laugh:
  16. Budget Bytes has lots of good cabbage recipes:https://www.budgetbytes.com/2016/11/20-recipes-for-leftover-cabbage/
  17. Travel Another one for updating my wardrobe. I bought a few new things from Stitch Fix but have consistently worn them this fall. Well worth the money. Especially since I hate shopping with a passion. Also, a Bravewriter class this fall for my oldest. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it but I was really impressed with the amount of feedback that ds got. It helped take off some of the burden from me as we started 9th grade. And even better, he recently agreed that it “would be ok†to take another one in the spring. This is a HUGE step forward from a kid who has hated every other writing curriculum/approach/class/etc. we have done.
  18. My daughter loves the series by Liz Kessler...one is called Phillipa Fisher ( a fairy) and the other is Emily Windsap (a mermaid). She said lots of exciting things happen in them. :) She is also really loving a new series called The Hundred Dresses (unrelated to the classic by Eleanor Estes). This one is about a girl who discovers a closet with 100 dresses and each time she puts on one she becomes a different person. Apparently lots of adventures then happen. The first is called If the Magic Fits. Another series with a main character who is a girl is Tuesdays in the Castle, my son really loved all those. If she likes mystery there are Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew.
  19. We went on a 10 day trip to California last May. At the time we had a 13, 10 and 7 year old. Joshua Tree was a highlight for us, of all the things we saw. (We drove from LA to SF along the coast, went to Monterey, back through Yosemite, then to LA again). It was otherworldly and amazing. We timed the trip so we were there at night. The stars were unbelievable to us East Coasters. It was absolutely worth the drive, even though it’s out of the way. SD Safari Park was great. We did not pay for an extra safari and loved it. You cannot feed the animals from the Africa Tram that is included, so it that’s high on your list you may want to pay the extra. Getty Villa and Getty Center were both really beautiful. If I had to pick one I’d do Getty Center, the building and grounds were almost as cool as the artwork.
  20. I do it in intervals just because I find the treadmill so boring that I can only do it if I keep myself engaged. I do 5 minutes at a good normal pace (about 3.0), then do 5 min of a “fast†set where I do 2-1-2 minutes at a speed that pushes me, right now that’s 3.2 for 2 minutes, then 3.5 for 1 min then 3.2 for 2 minutes. Then I do 5 minutes at my normal pace. Then I do an incline set where I do the same 2-1-2 pattern and increase the incline. That only works if you don’t mind pushing the buttons a lot. I only do it when I’m at the gym waiting for my son in swim practice. I’m about the same as you it sounds like as far as age and fitness level.
  21. I was a Bio and Chem double major and that sounds about right. I don’t remember the exact breakdown but I do remember that the work for the lab was more equivalent to a second class than the one extra credit hour you got for it. I was pre-med but went to a school where there was no separate pre-med track so that was the workload for anyone taking bio or chem (unless it was “baby bio†or “kiddie chemâ€...the classes to satisfy requirements for non science majors).
  22. Mine too. Also, numerous other soundtracks (Pirates of Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars). Ds listens to the Pirates of Caribbean theme song for every Lukeion quiz or test. It’s become a bit of a superstition for him because the one time he didn’t listen, he didn’t do as well. :)
  23. I think for the toddler it’s all in the presentation. If you make it a big deal (like some of the people here described) and throw in a new lovey or sheets or something I think it becomes an exciting gift. For the other kids, depends a little on age. I can’t see a lot of kids getting jealous about “fairness†when the big present is a bed. If it was something like a bike and everyone else got small gifts....that’s a different story.
  24. We only have three kids so it’s easier than if we had a lot. They each buy their subs presents. They do it online, with my help. They get an allowance so they use that. We do the same for birthdays. Two are very into giving gifts and typically make something for me and dh.
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