Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Meme

2009 Meme found at Nocturnal Queen:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I learned how to knit and crochet.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any...and my only resolution this year is to simplify and create a rhythmn for our family

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on Feb 16!!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully

5. What countries did you visist?
Just good ol' USA

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Nothing material...just a better state of mind

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
2/16/09..the birthdate of precious Monkey

8. What was your biggest acheivement of the year?
Homeschooling Punky. It was a difficult decision, and it was the best one we made all year!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not saving enough money, wasteful spending

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully, no

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Educational materials for the boys, carpet for the living room

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My oldest son, who is blossoming in homeschooling. My youngest for his many "firsts". My husband for being an excellent father.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
In 2009, I guess my behavior at times.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Besides bills, weekend vacations, groceries, kid stuff

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Monkey's arrival, Britney Spear's concert (shuddup), vacations, Christmas

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2009?
"Fireflies" by Owl City, "Circus" by Britney Spears, "halo" by Beyonce..and many others

17. Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? Happier
  • Thinner or fatter? The same
  • Richer or poorer? technically, poorer or the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

gone on more daytrips

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

eaten out even less

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Been done already..with my family

21. How many one-night stands?

uh, none lol

22. What was your favorite tv program?

The Office, Modern Family, Real Housewives, The Hills, Glee

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I can't think of anyone I hate besides Aaron Carter :)

24. What was the best book you read?

The Creative Family by Amanda Soule

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Bluegrass, good children's music

26. What did you want and get?

a new home to live in

27. What was your favorite film this year?

Transformers 2 (because I got to see it at midnight with Punky which made it fantastic), Up because I loved it and many others.

28. What did you do on your birthday and how old are you?

My birthday was spent with family. And I turned 33.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Simple and girly when I go out

30. What kept you sane?

My children

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Eric Dane

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Disrespect for our President

33. Who did you miss?

My Meme. My BFF, Stacy. Friends and family up north.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

They aren't new to me...but I reconnected with cousins I haven't talked to since we were young teens...and I'm so glad we are talking again!!!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

I found this quote on Noctural Queen as well, and it says it perfectly:

"For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don't enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you're not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness." Andy Rooney

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu Planning Monday!

Monday (Dec 28):
Dinner: BBQ meatballs, perogies, various appetizers from freezer

Tuesday (Dec 29):
Dinner: Sushi, Rice, stir fry veggies

Wednesday (Dec 30):
Dinner: Sticky Japanese Drumsticks, mashed potatoes, green beans (didn't happen..had breakfast)

Thursday (Dec 31): New Year's Eve
Dinner: Lobster, crab legs, appetizers, french fries

Friday (Jan 1): New Year's Day
Dinner: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Cups, dumplings, rice (didn't happen, had pork and saurkraut at parent's house)

Saturday (Jan 2):
Dinner: Apricot Glazed Chicken, mashed taters, mac and cheese, green beans

Sunday (Jan 3):
Dinner: Gumbo (with shrimp and sausage), cornbread, beignets

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quest for Simple Living, Part 2

Our quest for simple living started out early while looking at Internet sites about homeschooling and blossomed from there. I started reading other blogs and Internet sites about living simply and get a lot of inspiration from other mamas who want a simple, less chaotic life.



For us, the first thing that had to go was cable television. We don't have rabbit ears either, so we get no tv channels at all. At first, it was very difficult giving up our shows. The tv was on pretty much every waking moment..between the 3 of us, someone was watching something. But once we turned off the tv, more time was spent doing things that we either wanted to do or needed to do. Of course, we still watch our favorites (about 3 or 4) on the Internet when time allows and we've been known to visit my parent's house to watch specials. We still rent movies and watch the DVDs we own...and the Wii is still used. Ideally, I'd love to cut back on these as well..but with 3 boys in the house, I think it's a losing battle. LOL Anyway, with no tv, I find we are less distracted and more focused. Also, the kids (and my husband and I) aren't bombarded with things we "need" to have or "need" to buy.



I've taken a big interest in all things homemade or handmade. Etsy.com is my new favorite Internet site, as well as those devoted to knitting, sewing and cooking. We've cut back significantly on eating outside of the home and pretty much cook every single day, 2 or 3 meals a day. No more quick runs for takeout. I'd say we eat out only a handful of times a month (just a year ago we were probably eating out 10-20 times a month), and that's pretty much for french fries for the kiddo or pizza. Not eating out required some fast learning skills in cooking, and I think I've come a long way!



As far as homemade and handmade materials, I'm working on that as well. Knitting, crocheting and sewing have become my new hobbies. I'm not talking about making my own clothes necessarily, but practical items and things for the kids. (napkins, place mats, hats, bags, etc). I'm careful about what I do buy these days, hoping to cut back on our consumption in this world. Giving out more than we are taking in. We have a long way to go, but we've bought so much less these days. Some would say it's out of necessity (economy, grr..) but it's more than that. Living simply means not living in excess...and I'm so happy we're heading in that direction.



Another idea I love about living simply is connecting more with the Earth and our surroundings. More time is spent outdoors, relishing what Mother Nature has given us. I have found that this is one area that is difficult for my family to achieve. Between husband's work, hot days in Florida, living in the suberbs and pathetic excuses, we haven't spent as much time outside as I had hoped in 2009. We did spend a lot more time at the beach this year than any other, so I'm proud of that. Simple, happy, FREE fun for the entire family! I vow to spend more time outdoors with the kids and hope that it becomes more routine in 2010.



My husband and I are very conscience about providing our children with the materials necessary to live simple, yet enjoyable lives. Books, books and more books are at their fingertips. We're slowly building a pretty healthy library. Some are meant just for fun (hello, Spongebob) but most are carefully selected. Field guides to the outdoors, how-to books and classic literature are waiting for them at every turn. Educational games, interactive learning materials and experiments are waiting to be perused and played with. I've found that when these resources are made available, easily and simply, Punky tends to reach for them all the time. Also, children follow by example; so my husband and I are making more of an effort to read in front of our kids to show them we too constantly strive to better ourselves via educational materials and books. Carving out special nooks and crannies in our home is our next goal for the children. We're hoping to create special spaces for their enjoyment that are cozy and welcoming.



Now, all this is not to say that Punky doesn't play, and play hard, with his plastic Transformers or Bakugan. But when the other choices are there, right at his fingertips, he often chooses a field guide to read or educational game to play. We're working more wooden and organic toys to our stash, and the kids are now reaching for those as well. You'd be surprised how often your children choose the "learnin' stuff" too!

Two helpful books to create a more simple life for us has been "The Creative Family" by Amanda Soule and "Handmade Home" by Soule. Many internet sites such as Soulemama and A Journey To a Simple Happy Life have provided many interesting, helpful ideas and suggestions. Magazines like Country Living, Southern Living and Real Simple offer inspiration as well.

We have such a long way to go with our quest. I think if you were an outsider looking in, you might say that we appear average with some frugal tendancies. Our kids have large plastic toys and play like every other kid out there in the world. But we are making great advances, and I hope to continue on this path of being content and joyful. One day I'd love to live on a small plot of land in the country, plant our own small garden and raise a few chickens. (Then again, I'd love a condo in NYC too...so I obviously have a loooong way to go).

Jingles, The Magical Elf

I'm alllll about Christmas. I start playing Christmas music as soon as it hits midnight on Halloween (ok, maybe sometimes in the summer too). I dream about what decorations I'll put up when the time comes, what stocking stuffers I'll find and what activities and crafts we'll make during the holidays. It's not about the presents. For us, it's about the memories. Growing up, I never had a Christmas where I didn't get every single thing I wanted. But the things I remember most about the holidays as a child aren't the gifts (except the year of the Cabbage Patch...I think I got 6 or 7 of those little munchkins..what a great year!). Anyway, I remember making sugar cookie cutouts with my Mom, decorating the tree as a family, driving around looking at the Christmas lights, cutting down the tree at a farm. I remember the Berwick Boulevard light display, the hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow, and the general togetherness we had as a family.

After I had Punky, I started Christmas traditions (cookie baking, Gingerbread houses, driving around looking at the lights) but I also went overboard with the gift buying. I kid you not, there was not one single inch of open space in our living room Christmas morning. For years. It was ridiculous. He was happy, I was happy. But a few weeks later, only a few of the toys were beloved..others just thrown into the toy box waiting for next year's yard sale. Not all kids are like that, I realize this. But my kid was overwhelmed with all the toys. It took him HOURS to open his gifts and by the end, we were all exhausted.

So I got wiser after a few years and bought a little less. Still, it was all smiles and happiness Christmas morning. Punky never even questioned why he received less gifts. He was just so thrilled with what he did receive, he didn't care that there was less. It didn't even occur to him. And those toys (for the most part) were played with all year.

This year, we have another child, Monkey. And this year, we decided to REALLY focus on what matters most: the memories. Sure, each child is going to get gifts...around 5 or 6 plus a stocking. But those gifts, I just know, will be cherished.

As for the memories...well, if we could create one fantastic memory for our children this year, I'd be happy. And I think we managed to! We did so much as a family....things we've done every year and new things we have added. We've continued the traditional cooking baking, gingerbread house making, advent calendars and holiday crafts. We've also continued the 24 days of holiday books as well. Each night, Punky unwraps a holiday book, chosen from a basket, for us to read. Most are about Christmas (The Polar Express, Here Comes Santa Claus, Holly Hill Road Treasury) but some are about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc. It's something we all look forward to...ending our night under the covers, reading a holiday book. On the 24th, we unwrap Twas The Night Before Christmas!

A few new traditions (hopefully we'll continue with) this year were added as well. Our family favorite has been the addition of Jingles the Elf. Jingles, a stuffed 12 inch elf, was dropped off by Santa the night after Thanksgiving. Santa left a note stating why Jingles was there (to observe whether or not the boys were naughty or nice and then report back to Santa on the 24th), that Jingles could get into mischief and to please take care of him. Every night, Jingles got into some kind of mischief!!! One night he went fishing in the fish bowl, another night he played Wii all night, another he hung all Punky's underwear on the Christmas tree!!! It's been so much fun waking up to see what Jingles had done the night before. It's the first thing Punky asks about every single morning. Jingles will be greatly missed after Christmas. He'll definitely be back next year!!!!

***this post was written on Christmas Eve but posted after Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Quest

A lot of things are swirling and twirling in my mind these days. Many thoughts about how I want to lead my life, what I want my children to learn and how to live contently. Everything seems to point back to leading a more simple life. My journey started a few months ago. Let me start at the beginning.


It all started with reading a few blogs, Internet sites and books about homeschooling. I was researching the legalities and complexities of doing so in Florida; and the more I read, the more I realized homeschooling isn't just a way to teach. It's a way of life. You see, homeschooling, for so many if not most, is a 24 hour thing. It doesn't begin or end with the ringing of a bell. Learning and teaching is a daily, minute by minute thing. Every moment, every minute is an opportunity to enjoy the world of knowledge. After all, the things that are most important in life are NOT taught at school, are they? How to be a good person. How to be happy. How to be spiritual. How to be a good brother. etc etc. For us, it does not mean that we don't have any fun around here. I don't mandate reading of educational material only or the playing of only educational toys. I don't make my child read, write and 'rithmatic 24/7. It just means that learning and teaching can be done from anywhere at anytime. It means, as parents, we have to do our best to create learning environments, opportunities and materials as much as possible.


In the course of providing these things for our children, our place has become more cozy, more intimate. It has become a fun place to not only learn, but live fully. I'd like to go a step further and create even more spaces for cuddling up with a good book or setting up a cool experiment.

So, while we created this learning environment and enriching our lives at the same time, I began reading more and more about living simply. It's not about going "Amish" as they say and unplugging everything. Although, I'll admit, we had our cable tv turned off and no longer watch it at our house (but we do catch our very favorites online or at my parent's place). It's not about taking away the video games or electronics (we still have these on hand). It's not about going off the grid and living off the land (although for some it is). It's just about simplifying your life and learning how to be content. Life isn't always happy. Life isn't always grand and momentous. Sometimes, you just have to be content, knowing there will be some great, fantastic, magical moments; and sometimes, there will be stressful, hard, rough moments to get through too. The in between times occur most often..the ordinary, everyday life we all lead. What we make of them is what matters. And I think a lot of people (myself included) struggle with that. To be content within yourself and not want or need or ask for more or something better is a difficult task.


I want my children to learn by example. How can I expect my 8 year old to be mindful, patient and responsible, if I was wasteful? How can my children learn to be truly content if Mommy or Daddy isn't? Sure, they too can learn later in life..but will they? Being Christmastime, I've realized it's even more important to lead by example. Too many wasteful, never to be played with again after a few days presents under the tree would be going against everything I am learning and wanting to teach my children. There are certain values and morals we would like our children to learn, and I realized I wasn't always practicing what I preached. And the learning was so much more non spontaneous when there was tv watching, video game playing and emails to do.

Even in just a few short months, we have changed so much as a family. We are closer. We are happier. And best of all, we are more content. Our marriage is stronger. We have slowed down, spent less and savored more. We are beginning to rid ourselves of negativity and things that were loading us down. Some things were done out of necessity (darn economy!) and most things were done just because we felt the need to personally change our lives and the lives of our children. We have a long way to go, but I feel we are finally on the right track.

Everyone has a different journey in life. I'm not saying how we are living is the "correct" way or the "best" way. All I know is that it's working for us. How are we doing this? What steps have we taken? Where have we gotten our ideas? Coming soon!

Menu Plan Monday!

Monday (Dec 21):
Dinner: Hot Dogs with saurkraut, loaded fries

Tuesday (Dec 22):
Dinner: Steak, risotto, asparagus

Wednesday (Dec 23):
Dinner: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thursday (Dec 24, Christmas Eve):
Dinner: Wings, french fries, assorted appetizers

Friday (Dec 25, Christmas ):
Breakfast: Monte Cristo Casserole, Cheese and Bacon Quiche, Lemon scones, Coffee, OJ
Late Lunch/Early Dinner: Ham, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, baked beans, baked mac
and cheese, corn, green beans, rolls, appetizers (cheese board, pickle tray, mozz sticks, spinach puffs, shrimp cocktail), peppermint candy pie, mini eclairs, cookies

Saturday (Dec 26):
Dinner: Pizza (didn't happen, Ihop)

Sunday (Dec 27):
Dinner: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, stir fry veggies, white rice (didn't happen, leftovers)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Magic

We completely abandoned homeschooling, for the most part, this week. There is just too much excitement and too much to get done! I figure most schools are off anyway (at least in Florida) so he's not really missing much. We ARE doing SOME homeschooling though. Gotta love that Grinch Unit! Plus, art class and home-ec have definitely been taught in full force.

One of our favorite crafts we've done together has been the Elf making. I never giggled so much with Punky while making a craft, ever.


Another favorite was making gingerbread houses....a tradition we'll always keep.


Recently, a cousin of mine posted a link to a site where you can create a video from Santa that is highly personalized for your child. I created one for Punky. And oh my god. Best thing I've ever done! It was so magical, so personal. Punky was in awe. He even had tears in his eyes he was so happy. Of course, that made me burst into tears. The magic is definitely alive in our house!

I've been thinking a lot lately about my belief in preserving the magic and memories, rather than focusing on the toys and the "stuff." I'll be posting soon about what I've been thinking and feeling. Also, I'm going to create a post about what we bought the kiddos for Christmas and a wish list of items I would love to purchase one day.

(Pictures and link will be added soon)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmastime Family Vacation






We had a wonderful time in South Carolina, visiting my husband's side of the family. We stayed at his parents' house and had a wonderful time. The boys were in heaven! It was cold, they have chickens and a golf cart. What more could you ask for????

A lot of time was spent learning how to crochet (me), playing outside (the boys) and visiting with family (all). Punky was able to help pick out a real tree from a tree lot and then help Grandma and Uncle decorate it.




Monkey was able to sit for a long time and inspect dead leaves, sticks and dirt. He had such a great time relaxing in the grass.


We watched big brother run around the yard, chase chickens and drive the golf cart. Long talks were had in the sun room, where we caught up on past traditions, memories and stories. For our Christmas celebration, my Mom made a big ham dinner, complete with baked mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, etc. Uncle baked some yummy muffins, breads and cookies.



We laughed until we cried. We were all able to take a big breathe and just RELAX. It was a nice vacation!

Menu Planning Monday!

I'm in the mood to try some new soups this week. It's not cold out here, but it's still the Christmas season and I'm dying for soup!!


Monday (Dec 14):
Breakfast: Eggs and bacon
Lunch: No one was hungry. Skipped.
Dinner: Coconut Shrimp, homemade fries, perogies

Tuesday (Dec 15):
Breakfast: (Late) Eggs, sausage, grits, toast
Dinner: (Early) Holiday Party at husband's resort
Snack: Popcorn, cookies and hot cocoa (while looking at Xmas lights in the town of
Celebration)

Wednesday (Dec 16):
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Out at Sea World
Dinner: Chicken Salsa Verde Burritos, corn bread ( a favorite)

Thursday (Dec 17):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover soup and sandwiches
Dinner: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and homemade bread

Friday (Dec 18):
Breakfast: French Toast, bacon, toast
Lunch: Grilled Cheese, crackers, fruit
Dinner: Hamburger Barley Soup (crockpot) and homemade bread

Saturday (Dec 19):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover soup and sandwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs

Sunday (Dec 20):
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Steak, cheese risotto, green beans, apple pie

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rainy and Cold

I don't think I get to say those two words in Central Florida very much: rainy and cold. But it is, finally! Not that I enjoy the rain so much...but combine it with some coldness and it's perfect on this December day. You see, we didn't have much planned for the day. Just some homeschooling, a little game playing and movie watching.

It started off with some studying about adjectives. Boring, yes. But when it involves the Grinch and Cindy Lou-Who, who was no more than two, it's a little more fun.

Next came math. Trying to get Punky up to speed on non-digital clocks. ugh. I'm soooo not a math teacher, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Punky and his Dad built some forts out of legos, for their Lego Santa and Elf, after our short homeschooling lesson for today. They quickly switched to the Wii while I prepared dinner and packed some more for our upcoming trip. Also, Monkey is learning how to use a sippy cup, so I think I may have picked it up off the floor after he intentionally dropped it, oh, 535 gatrillion times. Monkey has also learned how to pull up and cruise and crawl at speeds of lightning so he's keeping my on my toes lately. I can't even tell you how many cups of water/milk/soda I've had to clean up already from little hands that pulled them from tables. LOL Thank goodness we pretty much baby proofed the house a few months ago.

Well, it's dark again outside and still raining. Tonight, Punky and I plan on doing more reading about the Grinch and possibly doing a craft or two. He's been reading ferociously lately, so I want to keep that habit up!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Menu Plan for Next Week!

We will be in South Carolina next week, so I thought I'd post my ideas for what we will be eating. It's definitely going to be changed, no doubt about it, but I figured I'd make one up in hopes of sticking to it as much as we are able to. We are staying with my in-laws..the only reason for the trip being to visit family. We are on a tight budget and do not plan on eating out (except for maybe a McDonald's breakfast..which we love to have when we're there for some reason lol)

Monday (Dec 7):
Breakfast: Pumpkin Bread/ cereal
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Mac and cheese
Dinner: Spaghetti with garlic bread (maybe a salad)

Tuesday (Dec 8):
Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, toast
Lunch: Sandwiches, chips
Dinner: Pizza

Wednesday (Dec 9):
Breakfast: Cereal/cookies/Pumpkin bread
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: "Christmas" meal (ham, potatoes, veggie, rolls, dessert)

Thursday (Dec 10):
Breakfast: on the road (probably cookies, fruit bars, etc. LOL)
Lunch: on the road (probably fast food)
Dinner: Fish Sticks, Fries and corn (or something equally easy)

Friday (Dec 11):
Breakfast: Pancakes, sausage
Lunch: Soup and crackers
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, noodles, veggie

Saturday: (Dec 12):
Breakfast: Eggs, toast
Lunch: Tuna salad sandwiches, pretzels
Dinner: out at Magic Kingdom/boys at Grandparents'

Sunday (Dec 13):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, chips
Dinner: steak, cheesy risotto, veggie

Forgotten post

Forgot to post my plans for meals this week!

Monday:
Breakfast was cereal
Lunch was turkey sandwiches with grapes and carrots
Dinner was something I completely forgot what we had lol

Tuesday:
Breakfast was eggs and toast
Lunch was leftovers (Thanksgiving)
Dinner was at Epcot

Wednesday:
Breakfast was cereal
Lunch was grilled cheese, chips and/or crackers, applesauce
Dinner was pizza casserole

Thursday:
Breakfast was pancakes
Lunch was soup and crackers
Dinner was Firecracker chicken with veggies and rice

Friday:
Breakfast: Will be Pancakes
Lunch: Will be Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Baked Lays, fruit
Dinner: Will be Grilled Turkey Sausages, sauerkraut, pasta salad, fruit

Saturday:
Breakfast: will be cereal
Lunch: will be leftovers
Dinner: will be Chicken Salsa Verde Casserole

Sunday:
Breakfast: will be cereal or french toast
Lunch: will be leftovers
Dinner: on the road..we're going to South Carolina..maybe sandwiches if I take them

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Grinch And Epcot

I can already tell that homeschooling in December is going to be very relaxed. We have a lot of activities and events planned...and a whole lot of learnin'...but our schedule is going to be very relaxed, for sure.

We started our unit on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Very fun so far!!! We've read the book a few times. I've forgotten how much fun Dr. Seuss books are to read out loud!!! Even Punky was begging to read it over and over himself. Love it. Anyway, we've only been at it for a couple of days, but so far, so good. Yesterday Punky started writing his own Seuss-like story. I think he'll be working on it for a few days, along with drawing illustrations for it. We've talked about plot and character so far, and we'll be delving more into the storyline soon. I'm going to have him do some work on adjectives and adverbs to the story...as well as other parts of speech. And before next week, we'll do a craft or two about the Grinch.

He's still doing fairly well with his math. It's the subject I like teaching the least, as it was always my least favorite subject in school. But, I've learned to fake my interest in it, and I'm pretty sure Punky has no idea that I dislike the subject.

It seems like ever since we started homeschooling, Punky has been asking more and more questions..ABOUT EVERYTHING. It seems like he can't go five minutes without asking a question. And I love it! Sometimes his questions are so intricate and hard, I have to look them up myself! I definitely think it's a good sign that his reading has improved (even though he was already reading at a much higher level when we brought him home to learn), his math skills are on target and he seems so much more interested in learning.

For fun tonight, we went to Epcot at Disney with my Mom and Dad. Punky was able to participate in the Kim Possible Secret Agent activity throughout the park. He was given a cell phone at the start, and told to follow the clues. I didn't realize how interactive it would be!!! It was so much fun! One of the clues had us find the steins in a German store...and when we told the cell phone we were there, the steins started singing. It was hysterical! Punky even made a gigantic 2 story glockenspiel chime and activate right in the middle of the square. So fun! It was a great lesson in geography, logistics and sequencing! The following is a pic of the two guys playing the game:



While at Epcot, Punky spent a great deal of time at the different aquariums in the Living Seas. He learned all about cuttlefish (even asking to bring some home, ugh), lion fish, and many other fish! He could have spent all night in there! The following is a short video of the cuttlefish we saw:
video

So many learning opps at Epcot! But we also had a lot of fun too! We enjoyed Illuminations with a special Holiday ending (fireworks show), a few rides and some good food. We learned how to make animals out of sugar candy in Japan (Punky got a shark), about some holiday traditions in other countries and that John O' Hurley has a great speaking voice! (he did the narration at the Candlelight Processional that evening).

Tonight, my leg and feet are aching from all that walking. But it was definitely worth it! Little Monkey had a blast too, as well as everyone else in the family!

Next thing we have to look forward to: a trip to South Carolina next week to see Husband's side of the family! Can't wait!