Thursday, February 28, 2013

Addie Belle and World's Finest Chocolate

I know you already have heard me say that Addie is in fundraising mode for her choir trip to Normandy France in June of 2014, right before her 10th Birthday.  She is actually participating in many fundraisers, but one of the ways she is currently raising funds is by selling World's Finest Chocolate.
She has already sold two boxes in two weeks for a total of $60 to her credit in chocolate sales alone.  She has set a personal goal to sell 100 boxes of chocolate over the next 15 months.  This amount of chocolate would pay for her trip entirely.  The trip is estimate to cost about $3,000.  She pretty much needs to sell a box and a half each week.

Did you know that World's Finest Chocolate is in the Guinness book of world records?  Did you know their record setting chocolate bar was produced in Chicago but the documentary about the 12,000 pound bar was produced by Broadcast Media Group out of Starkville, MS? Look at the size of this thing?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dad, Sorry I missed a day

It seemed like nothing much happened except that enough happened that there was no time to say so. Sometimes staying at home and homeschooling gives me the opportunity to start several things and finish none of them hence, nothing to write about.
Today seemed mostly the same. I will
attach three photos to this post. Here is a short description of each. Sorry if you have to scroll up and down for this bit. My phone always puts the photos at the end of the post.
1. Emaleigh Lucille Force is officially reading at what I am fairly sure is a first grade level. I learned over the weekend what the public school's expectations for the kinder readers are by end of the year and she is there. She could use more practice with sight words but I do have some tools for that. She is doing amazing with this Dick and Jane reader that we picked up from a garage sale.
2. Addie was right by my bed when I took that photo of ELF and insisted that I photograph her fish face.
3. Aunt Claudia gave me the shirt that Addie is wearing in this picture over 9 years ago. It is really a sweet shirt that she got from the thrift store in Del Norte. I was never able to wear it. I was pregnant with Addie when she gave it to me. It fits Addie perfectly. We decided it made her look a bit French. This is her French pose.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Greatest Carnival on Earth

Today we went to church, then lunched with our friends, the Ligons, at Raising Canes and headed to the SA Rodeo
Grounds for more entertainment. A highlight of the latter half of our day was definitely watching the DockDogs compete in a long jump competition. We watched dogs of various breeds (pit bull, golden retriever, Weimaraner, German Shepard and more) run and jump after a toy into a pool at distances between 8 and 22 feet. Wow!!!!! I am going to attach some photos of that, but you have to know that the blur above the water is the dog. Really amazing doggies. Ton of fun. Kevin and Greg are brainstorming how to make this into a similar competition for our kids. Addie is sure she can train Chela to dock dive. We will have to help her develop an affection for a toy first.
That fun eventually ended so we walked conveniently over to THE GREATEST CARNIVAL ON EARTH!!!! Can you believe it? The greatest carnival on earth and dock dogs right here in San Antonio!!!
We love the Ligons. The kids had fun taking turns playing Mr. Greg's favorite.
So to paraphrase a statement I made yesterday, when the people you worship with feel like family, you know you picked the right church. How do we get so lucky?

Texas Children's Choir, Blue and Gold

The Texas Children's Choir was invited to sing at a Blue and Gold Ceremony. Blue and Gold is a bridging over ceremony for cub scouts to Boy Scouts. The choir sang the primarily patriotic songs. They started with The Star Spangled Banner. Then there was a break for Cub Scout announcements. They sang while the crowd of about 200 had dinner. The remainder of the songs were the following: God Bless America, America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn, and Chatanooga Choo Choo. Addie got to go he with her best bid after for a sleepover.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Yo Gabba Gabba, The Littlest Lyons turns 2!

When your papa is so cool that he rocks DJ Lance Rock's bright orange furry beanie for your 2nd birthday then you know life is good. Can you dig it? Can you dance?
Today was a busy day with a conference at Lucas's school, a little fundraising, a birthday party and a choir performance. Easily the highlight was the birthday party. This little girl is not to be overlooked. When she was only 14 months she preferred to be left alone in the swimming pool. Fiercely independent but purely her age in terms of fun potential. If there is fun to be had then she wants to be right in the middle of it. Don't tell her she's too little. Nothing is too big or too difficult for her. She's full of smiles and plenty polite. A favorite word of hers is, "thanks".
Fun party and awesome little girl. Can't wait to see what her next year brings. I am happy that we were invited to be a part of her celebration.
Yo Gabba Gabba style.

Unexpected Nicities

Today was full of surprises. Actually the two surprises I am thinking of came within the same hour or so. One was super awesome and one was a reminder that she who tries to do 70 things at the same time might not have enough brain left to remember to not...So the awesome surprise was a drop in by our friend and insurance agent, Tracey Blackwell. If you are not already friends with Tracey it is only because you haven't met her yet. She spills smiles wherever she goes so if you met her, you would love her. Kevin met her first and told me this. I met her second, he was right.At the beginning of this year, Tracey posted a status asking friends to comment if they wanted something from Tracey as part of Pay it Forward 2013. You may have seen posts like this, some said the friend would make a hand made item, some incldued a handwritten note or a date for lunch. I posted it as well and am pretty behind on handmade items for my list of people. Tracey brought to our home her smile and a bright purple box of Chalk-a-doos. There are like ten chalk holders, pre-filled with chalk, and stencils for making designs on the sidewalk. The little holders have fun faces like tigers,hippos, ladybug, elephants, snails and the like. It was a wonderful surprise at the start of the day for my homeschoolers and me.
From there, the principle of our school gave us a ride to the Chrysler dealership to pick up our van. We had a few things tweaked including taking care of a recall that was outstanding and getting a duplicate key made. When we bough the van in November, we were issued only one key which just made me really nervous. So so many reasons that it is better to have two keys. One of those reasons is incase I lock my keys in my car, Kevin, our homeschool principal, can come to my rescue with his copy. So the key is copied and crisis averted if it happened yesterday. Can I tell you that I locked my keys AND the copy in the car in the Frost Bank parking lot about half an hour after I picked up the van? Ugh, how embarrassing!
Well we made the most of our hour wait before pop-a-lock came to rescue us for a price by Journeying next door to our church and finding seething to entertain us in the pre-school room.
Aside: the pre-school room is where Kevin and I facilitate the Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. That is to say financial responsibility is so easy a 4 year old can do it.
So back to playing with the girls while we wait. There was this really cool build a track toy with wheels and spirals. Together we built a cool track to send marbles down. That right there was an impromptu lesson on gravity.
So two surprises, one awesome the other less convenient but ultimately a bit fun anyway. Now I have a friendly pop-aLock guy I hope I never need to call.

Friday, February 22, 2013

That's our Boy!

On Wednesday of this week I had a parent teacher conference with Lucas's first grade teacher. Lucas is a good smart kid and I did expect the conference to go well. Mrs. Perez started the meeting just that way, but there were surprises. She told me a lot of great things but I actually was surprised to hear that he is reading at a fourth grade level. She also told me that he is an assistant to her in the class and that he takes the responsibility seriously. She said that each time he finishes work early, he then starts to help teach his classmates that struggle to learn. She called him a leader, which is definitely one of the things we always encourage our kids to be. I was surprised and beaming with pride as I left this conference. Funny enough as we walked out we saw Lucas helping his classmates get ready to go into class. They were all sitting along the wall in am orderly way and Lucas was handing out their name tags.
We have these expectations for our kids and they continuously meet them and we we can't celebrate them enough. This time we decided it had to be special. Soooooo Kevin decided that Lucas had earned a day off from school to go with him to work. He got dressed up as he loves to do, packed some books and his iPod and headed out with his daddy. He was particularly excited to be able to go to a Toastmasters meeting at lunch. Toastmasters is a group that helps people develop comfort and eloquence in occasions where they have to speak to a crowd. Lucas must have been preparing his introduction for a while because he knocked their socks off. He stood up and said his name his age, how he earned the day off from school and with his daddy and that he loved soccer. He said he is a leader in his school which makes him just like his daddy except with plenty of gorgeous hair. What a ham!!! I wish I had been there or that we could have anticipated that so Kevin would have a video! Well, no video but just a cute photo!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blog about a Blog

My little Addie Belle has started her own little blog this week. It is called Sunshine Lemonade, a name she has retained from a lemonade stand she had on Lemonade Day May 2011...oh dear,no it was 2010. Geez times flies Anyway, she is currently in fundraising mode to raise funds to pay for her trip to Normandy, France with the Texas Children's Choir AND Lemonade stands will probably be a large part of our summer so she is bringing the name back and will be assuming it very soon. While she has not yet set up a lemonade stand in 2013, she has begun fundraising efforts for her trip to France. The tour has been put together by a tour group in Colorado Springs so she has an estimated cost/goal of $3,400. So far, between a bake sale and selling chocolate, beef jerky and a coupon book for The Wash tub, she has raised over $200. She has time and is optimistic that in the 16 months before her trip starts, she will get there. Our neighborhood loves chocolate!!We helped her set up her blog, but she has been posting without much input from us. She recognized that her posts were generally about two things in her day so she decided to be intentional with that. Check intoSunshine Lemonade to see what Addie Belle is up to. She will be blogging about fundraising efforts and hopefully if she is successful, eventually about her trip.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Kids Go To Work

Last Friday the kids and I did a little brainstorming exercise. I asked them to tell me what they thought their chores were. The kids who could write had five minutes to write their list. Then I let Emaleigh tell me what she thought her chores were. Next I asked them to tell me how they were compensated and if they got paid for all of those chores or just some of them.
I was surprised about how many things they put on their list. It was evident though that they didn't really know what their work was worth. It was time to be specific and a little more detailed about what exactly was expected of each of them, what chores qualified as extra work and what the pay was for expected chores and for extra work. So together we made a list of chores for each kid. Addie and Lucas get 7 chores each and Emmy has 6. These are the chores for which they will earn a weekly commission provided they are done to be paid on Sunday. Then we made a fourth list of chores that they can do for extra money. The extra chores are worth a quarter each.
Today I finally finished putting our outcomes together on a board that is now hanging in our school room. The kids love it and as if on cue they got into chores as soon as it was up. I am optimistic that the brainstorming exercise means they have bought in to my plan for world domination by having them do all the housework leaving my more time for royal schemes.
In other news, Emaleigh ran inside from the back yard excited to tell us about the little creature with a fuzzy back that she found in the yard. I hope this little creature
didn't have any friends.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Twofer Tuesdays

That is just how Tuesdays go during soccer season which started again today. Choir practice and soccer practice both start at 5 pm and we have the challenge to get three kids to two different places. Did you notice that I said three? Today is Emaleigh's very first practice for her very first year playing soccer. She is really thrilled. She is a natural at gymnastics but this opportunity will allow her to shine for her daddy. Daddy doesn't get to see her practice at gymnastics on Fridays at 11, but he took her to practice tonight and she rode over there on a cloud. Her first game is this Friday.
Addie's practices with the Texas Children's Choir are every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-6:30 pm and once a month for a few hours on a Saturday. They have a performance this Saturday for a blue and gold ceremony. They are singing 5 songs AND dancing for one. Dancing is totally new for the choir since Addie has been with them. I can't wait to see how that goes.
So that's a typical Tuesday, rush to two places at once and then home to come together for dinner.
I need to say here, many days we would not have made it to our two places without the help of our great friends, the Huffs. D&D are almost like second parents to our three and I think we are for their three too! I guess somebody said it takes a village; for us life is definitely better with a couple of partners who love us and our kids as much as we do.
Actually we have a lot of helpers. We are so lucky.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pros and Cons Monday

I don't know if I'll always do a pros and cons list on Monday. Maybe so, maybe I just had a good idea. Maybe it'll pop up every once in a while. But today I did want to write my Pros and Cons list for blogging on my iPhone.
I installed the blogger app last weekend hoping that if it was easier, then I could put more up. So far... Well I'll just start the list.
Cons to blogging on my iPhone (bad news always first, right)
1. I don't like the keyboard
2. I prefer a larger screen
3. I can't insert photos where I want them, rather they all go at the end of the post
4. I can't insert videos at all
5. I can't see much of what is written at the same time.
Pros to blogging on my phone
1. It is so so portable. I can write at a soccer game or while watching Merlin with the family or anywhere really
2. And so I think I can hopefully do it more
3. Cookies, what oh sorry I just got distracted because I can't stop thinking about
3. No memory cards or file moving necessary all attachments are already right here.
4. I can write when I am struck without trying to remember when I can get close to my computer.
5. This way is ideal for blogging during travel or during a soccer game. Better for up to date real time info
I am going to go get some cookies now.... See real time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snow Fest in Universal City and Family Valentines Date

Valentines weekend was a great bunch of fun for the Force Five. We have been watching a fun series on Netflix based on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot and we kicked off our weekend with a Friday night ,"Merlin Marathon" we got about 5 episodes in before everyone was too tired to go on. It ended before ten o'clock and I for one was surprised and our inability to go on, but pleased to have kids in bed asleep at a very reasonable hour. This series has been great entertainment for us together. We have had some really fun conversations like if you were in a sword fight who would you want on your side and why? Or what how will the king rule in this dilemma and is that fair or right? Which would you prefer to have, Arthur's strength or Merlin's magic? Who is prettier, Lady Morgana or Guinevere? And the like, you get the idea. Very fun to share this interest with them instead of all of us watching our own favorites separately.
Well I did say we went to be early but that didn't keep us from sleeping in late and waking up only for a late pancake breakfast (for the second time this week, pancakes that is). We had a lazy afternoon until it was time to go to the Universal City Snow Fest. YES I did say snow in Texas. Well not much of it really but plenty of fun if you ask my kids. Rock climbing, fun house, bounce houses, and slides of all sorts including one snow slide adjacent to the small snow playground. To me it was a lot of opportunity to stand in line. For the four hours we were there we stood in line for five attractions that each lasted about half a minute each and if you ask Addie and Lucas they were the five best 15 second periods ever, so I guess all that waiting in a crown was worth it.
We topped our weekend off with our regular Sunday morning at church at Journey Fellowship and an early evening family date to Outback Steakhouse. Kevin shared with us a gift from his birthday in October and everybody ate steak ... AND bloomin onion AND bread AND cheesecake. Only the cheesecake was fairly small so we ran by Walgreens on the way home to pick up BlueBell to ease the small cheesecake heartache.
Needless to say, we are winding our weekend down now with a little bit more Merlin.
I hope your weekend was fun and full of smiles like ours was.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We Are Going to France!

Did I ever post about Addie being accepted to the Texas Children's Choir? She auditioned in May and has been singing with them ever since with twice weekly practices even over the summer. She has learned a tremendous amount about singing techniques and about all music under the direction of the choir director, Dr. Thomas Hardaway, and from her peers as well. I am not sure what her favorite thing about the choir is but if I had to guess I would say that the friends she has made with girls of all ages is way way up there. All the extra time she spends with one of her besties, Haidyn, is probably there too. I didn't really know much about the choir when we brought her for auditions. I was primarily interested in getting her plugged into something that would be a social outlet for her from our Homeschool. But I really had no idea how amazing this organization was until we got into the Fall practice season. Kevin and I are so impressed with TCC. It is hard to explain it, but if you watched them once you would find it hard to believe that it is not a professional choir rather each person there is a volunteer. But I will make an attempt to give you my top five reasons I love the Texas Children Choir:
1. They provide an environment for vocal training that also encourages no expects respectful behavior, a sense of personal responsibility and all around good character.
2. They encourage development in all areas of music by giving each choir child a performance opportunity once a month with a three minute limit. Addie is learning to play guitar and has already performed solo in front of her choir. (Btw, about 53 other children ages 8-18)
3. There are ample opportunities to learn about teamwork not just because she is accountable with her voice, but we are becoming like family to this organization and other choir families. We team up to get kids to events, have them all fed and dressed and help them in other endeavors wether they be related to the choir directly of just to schooling. There is more than ample volunteer participation from choir parents to keep this well oiled machine moving and continuously improving. The kids are amazing but so are the parents.
4. The choir is a 501(c)3 organization . They almost never sing simply for the case of showcasing talent. Don't get me wrong they sing like angels, but these angels sing where they are invited and typically that invitation comes to honor a fallen soldier, a police officer killed in action, a family that has buried a child much too soon and the like
5. They are a small choir with a large recognition. The sing many ceremonies in the San Antonio area but not all invites are local. Last year at this time they were preparing to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. We weren't part of TCC yet. The current invitation is to sing in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of DDay next summer, June of 2014.

So we are all thrilled to be a part. Much more coming with this news about Normandy. Keep posted for updates regarding Sunshine Lemonade and Addie's own blog.