Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Blog

Life is about to get busy-er and I promise to catch up on all the wonderful things we have been doing since my last post in April.  Nevan performed in Peter Pan and Wendy with AZ Homeschool Theatre Group.  Grandma Johnson flew in for a visit for May festivities.  Whitney graduated High School and she turned 18 on the same day she graduated.  She is now a freshman at University of Arizona in Tucson.   Nathan graduated from Junior High. Beau (horse) went back up to Utah. Silvio flew back to Utah with Grandma for 4-H Horse Camp...both English and Western.  Nevan did some summer writing workshops with Changing Hands Bookstore.  He also had Baseball Camp. Maceo had a Make Your Own Pizza Pool Party to celebrate his 11th Birthday.  Then we flew to NJ for our annual trek to the beach and Nonna's/Nonno's house.  We had so much fun visiting with family and friends.  We made almost daily trips to the crabbing piers.  We went to the beach, the boardwalk, Great Adventure, Carlo's Bakery, Daniel's birthday party, Sarah's baptism, Jen's baby shower, boat rides, Ralph's Italian Ice, water trampolines,  and could not get enough summer lazy days with friends.  We enjoyed Nonno's colossal tomatoes, eggplants, swiss chard and crab sauce.  Nonna made us Caponata and a long list of yummy meals... and got me hooked on Nick's telenovelas! 

Photos of all these awesome events will be added soon.

As for now, the boys have started classes at Eagleridge for the fall semester.  Nevan is auditioning for Much Ado About Nothing with AZ Homeschool Theatre Group.  He is also playing Fall Club Ball with Chandler Rangers.  Silvio is going to start horseback riding lessons as soon as it gets a wee bit cooler outside and is currently looking for an Accordian instructor.   Nathan is a freshman in high school and Whitney has started her freshman year of college and settled into her dorm at U of A.  Justin and I have both gone Gluten Free and joined 24 Hour Fitness.  And I am about to start a Permaculture Design Course and aiming to learn how to play the Harp in between Mom's Taxi Service and fall gardening.  : ) 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Que Sarah, Sarah...

Here she is!  With the most gorgeous eyes!  and the sweetest smile!  Precious baby Sarah.  Welcome to the whole wide world of parenting, Pete and Karen!  : )   The real fun starts as soon as she becomes even remotely mobile.  You can add physical exhaustion to the mounting hours of sleep deprivation...but for what better cause, I say.  We are here for you whenever you need a babysitter.  ; )  The boys are just thrilled to have a baby girl in the family.  Silvio likes to rifle through his stored bins of old baby stuff to find fun things to hand down to his cousin Sarah.  ; )  I knew he loved her dearly when he gave up his little yellow windbreaker jacket that was favorite as a toddler.  Here is a photo of Sarah with the boys...minus Maceo and Whitney.  We need a complete cousin photo session asap!

Monday, April 12, 2010

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato (mp3 audio) - Believe it or not, in early colonial America, one of the most dreaded, most feared of all poisonous plants was -- the TOMATO! People grew it as an ornamental bush, but to think about actually EATING it was a horror! Certain that he would die a quick and painful death, a crowd assembled on the courthouse square in Salem, NJ on September 26th, 1820 to watch the rich and eccentric Colonel Johnson actually attempt to EAT one of these poisonous fruits! Hear what happened next in this delightful old time radio dramatization from the classic program "You Are There" of this fascinating true episode from American history.

Click here for today's resource!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Horse Riding Lessons

When Silvio started taking horse riding lessons again, Nevan decided he wanted to give it a whirl too. He has been a tremendous help to us in caring for the horse clan here when Justin is out of town. I guess he figured that since he was feeding them and caring for them, he may was well learn how to ride them and truly enjoy. So both boys are now taking lessons with a local instructor who Silvio claims is the "nicest instructor he has ever had". She gives both Western and English lessons...Silvio has decided to switch back to English and Nevan is carrying on with the Western tradition. Their cousin, Marlie, is taking lessons from the same instructor and the boys are lucky to have her Duncan baby on hand to ride. Thank you Ny! for referring us to Diana! Here is a photo of Nevan riding Duncan. I'll add photos of Silvio when I get a chance.

Silvio is super excited to participate in 4H Horse Camp this summer up in Utah with Grandma Johnson. He has been patiently waiting to be of age (9). His summer adventure with Grandma is finally here!! He enjoys all the extra horsey time he gets up at Grandma's. : ) So, let's see, the last time he was up there we got a phone call that he jumped a horse over the jump rails set up for Whitney, unexpectedly. At age 6. Or was it 7? He still talks about that to this day. I wonder what his story will be THIS summer.

Estrella Wars 2010

The SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, hosts an event called Estrella Wars every year here in the Phoenix area. Well more like Florence, which is about 1 hour southeast of where we live. It is called Estrella Wars because it used to be located way out west close to Estrella Mountain. The name stuck. This was the first year that we have participated. The kids seemed too young to go in past years and honestly, I had no desire to participate in any WAR reenactments. goes against my grain. Needless to say, it was never one of those activities that we actively pursued. This year, the boys asked to go. I decided to go ahead and dive in and learn more about it. We went. And N and S had the most amazing time. they did not want to leave. We were there from 9 am til sundown. They want to camp out next year. Estrella Wars is not only about reenacting the battles of the Middle Ages, but also recreates the entirety of community living in that time period. Individuals/families/neighborhoods create encampments and stay for a week at most and live as historically accurate as possible. We were the outsiders when we went on our home education tour day. With our modern clothes, backpacks, and water bottles, we could easily be picked out of a crowd of tunic clad villagers, jesters, and jousters. It is quite a fascinating dip into history, where everyone around you is playing the part of a personally created, historically accurate individual. We had a chance to meet a Viking couple, a woman on spiritual pilgrimage, a falcon trainer, a crossbow merchant, a blacksmith and the boys handled daggers, swords, armor, bows and arrows. They also had a chance to sneak into the encampment, where the modern folk are not allowed to visit....lucky dogs they knew families camping out. : ) The boys have since been researching more about the Middle Ages on their own, developing possible personas so they can participate next year, and aiming to learn the art of black-smithing, sword making and jousting. S was all about the equestrian events. N desiring to know more archery.
We found out our local Barony is called Twin Moons and they meet at a local park weekly, offering a chance to get more involved.

I would love to delve further into the science and arts...sewing, herbalism, etc. We are trying to convince Justin this would be a good opportunity for him to explore his interest in making his own beer...the SCA has a Mead Making Contest, but not sure he is buying it.

We will post more as the family develops their personas and skills. : )

Justin's whirlwind tour of Europe

our spring garden...

We have finally planted! After 3 years of attempted container herb gardening, we have taken the next step. Justin has built 2 raised bed boxes so far. Our dilemma has been that we *have* to create raised beds due to our regular irrigation water coming through. We don't want our plants to drown. The plan is to have a few raised bed on the north west side of the house. We currently have with tomato plants (roma and beefsteak), zucchini, and pickling cucumbers; and the other with strawberries and carrots, so far. Our watermelon plants didn't make it. We created a burmed hill with artichoke plants and plan on planting more of those for high yield. ; ) We like artichokes! The boys are also desiring to plant more strawberries and have enough to share with others. They are saving all the little plastic containers that we get from the stores and building their stash. We also have Pineapple Sage...which smells divinely like pineapple! and Blackberry bushes. Those will be added to the front yard to make a natural hedgeline between the yard and the street. I thought it would be fragrant and fun for our neighbor kids walking to school to have a berry treat on their way, as they pass in front of our home. Once we get the hoses/watering situation in the front yard under control I would like to start building a retaining wall in the backyard to the west of the pool for a large melon patch. Watermelon and cantaloupe to start. We have an automatic watering system that attaches to the main spicket line and can water up to 4 different locations at once with a set timer to water. But....I can't seem to get it to work properly. So we are all still hand watering the garden areas. Once I get that up and running, we can run lines to both boxes, the melon patch, and a prospective root garden with beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Below are photos of our cucumbers and tomatoes.

Geography and World Cultures: World's Fair: Sicilia!


Nevan and Silvio (and Justin) decided to showcase Sicily for our 1st Annual World's Fair Event sponsored by our Geography co-op! We had a wonderful time creating our posters and handouts, which included a word find with Sicilian landmarks. The boys are so creative and full of ideas! They created one poster that depict Sicilian numbers, another poster that had word translations for easy to read words like dog, tree, brother, etc...and we made a trifold board with photos from our trip to Agrigento, Messina, info. about Tindari and the Black Madonna, as well as the Trinacria and the Sicilain Flag. Silvio was adamant that we were not allowed to include anything on our display board that we had not actually seen in person...only personal photos were allowed to go up on the board. I finally convinced him that it was OK to put a printed photo of the Sicilian flag if he found it too challenging to draw a Trinacria himself. But they did both draw their own Italian flag, olives, lemons, and tomatoes by hand. Both boys remembered our trip back in 2005 and chose to focus a great deal on the Greek ruins. They are currently reading a lot about Greek Mythology and were pleasantly surprised to find out that Sicily is actually one of the main geographical locations depicted in many of their favorite Greek Myths. Nevan is keen on studying Greece next!

Silvio had fun showing our friends how to play Scopa, his favorite Sicilian card game. : )

And of course, we had food!! Cannoli, olives, cheese, semolina bread with olive oil and garlic, lemons and Pellegrino. Everyone loved the food!

Other countries represented in the World's Fair included: Scotland, France, Denmark, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, and Italy. Looking forward to the next one!

Posted by Picasa

Field Trip to the Department of Public Safety

The kids had a fabulous time on our field trip to the DPS building downtown. Various departments within the DPS gave Gang Prevention Unit, Highway Safety Unit, Drug Prevention Unit, the Bomb Squad and the SWAT team, etc... the kids had a chance to *get arrested*, remote control drive a bomb squad robot, sit in patrol vehicles, climb up into a SWAT Tanker. I think their favorite was the Bomb Squad Robots. I really had to let go of some of my biases against guns/violence/force as I watched the boys completely take in all the weaponry displays, gadgets and gizmos that police use...they were fascinated and I was equally fascinated watching them being fascinated. It was quite an eventful and fun filled day!

Should I be proud? Or concerned? Silvio can get himself out of a set of handcuffs in seconds!

The Basement Band

Nevan and his friends decided one day that they would start a Basement Band....yet to be named. His musician friends also attend Eagleridge and participate in the school band there. There are 6 of them...Nevan on drums, Braden on keyboards, LJ on guitar, Dougie and Isaiah on bass, and Silvio decided he would be the manager. He's got it all under control...down to the lights and promos. We keep reminding him that they need a name first. They meet every other week in our basement...practicing a mix of classic rock and newer groups like Nickelback. It's amazing to see these kids lug all their equipment and amps and paraphrenalia up and down our stairs every time. That's dedication! Thanks Uncle Nick for letting us borrow Maceo's drum set! Nevan is looking forward to his drum lessons! He is also taking up electric guitar and starting guitar lessons again soon. He had first learned on an acoustic, but has been excited to learn on an electric. It's fun to hear music in the house again! Just hoping the neighbors are far enough away not to be bothered by the fun that never stops. I recently went to the Paul McCartney concert here in Phoenix and thought it would be great to start a concert poster collection for the boy's music room and so their very first concert poster is Paul. ; ) Somewhere I know I have an old Rush poster to add to their wall. I'll have to dig that up soon. Anyone out there have old concert posters you don't want or use anymore?? ; )

Saying goodbye to our Twister

Twister was with us for almost 3 years. Here he is with Uncle Vance, looking rather muddy and disheveled on the morning of his departure. We had rainstorms back to back without much opportunity to clean him up before his travel adventure. Twister was adopted from the racetrack for Whitney, less than one month after we moved into our Gilbert home. He was young and didn't want to race and lucky for him his owner decided to adopt him out rather than give him a hard time. He was beautiful! and spunky! After a couple of weeks, we received another call from the rescue org...and Monte joined our family as an emergency foster placement. Monte has since shifted from being an emergency foster placement to unofficially adopted. : ) Whitney began spending more time working with Monte, who seemd more compliant to training and Twister spent alot of time lounging in our pasture, without much riding time. We decided after careful consideration that he might be happier with more attention, as the only other rider in the family is Silvio and he is just too young and inexperienced to ride Twister. Twister needed a more advanced and experienced rider. Justin's mother found a family in Utah that was interested in adopting him, so Uncle Vance drove him up there, one cold and rainy morning. Nevan was up before the sun to help Uncle Vance prepare the trailer and gather Twister's belongings. It was quite a morning indeed, as Twister decided he didn't want to load that morning. He gave Nevan and Uncle Vance a run for their money that day. It was sad to see him go...but knowing in our hearts that it was the best thing for him. Wonder what he's doing now...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Challenger Space Center

We took a group field trip to the Challenger Space Center in North Phoenix in January to do a Space Mission. We had a blast! What an experience. Our large group was split into two group performing the tasks of Ground Control, and the other becoming the Space Shuttle Team tasked to rendezvous with a comet to gather specimens. Every individual was given a *job* to do...communications, labs, medical, data collecting, etc. Individuals on board the shuttle and in Ground Control needed to communicate effectively with their counterparts to get their jobs done on time. About half way through their mission the groups switched roles, so everyone was able to experience both Ground control and space travel. : ) Very interesting and exciting! The boys are looking forward to doing another mission soon!
Posted by Picasa

Happy Birthday Nathan!!!

Nathan turned 14 on the 17th! He is almost as tall as Justin and we say he looks the most like Justin did as a teen. ; ) Tall, blonde, handsome, dashing blue eyes. ; ) We'll be celebrating his birthday with him this weekend. Updated photos of him to follow. they are hard to come by. He starts off his year on the Wrestling team at his Junior High and enjoys skiing as a favorite hobby. He graduates junior high this seems like just yesterday he was toddling around at age 2 and singing Christmas songs in his own toddler renditions, tugging at my wedding dress and Justin's tux, to be picked up as we stood at the altar on our wedding day, loving the thrill of riding in the back of a limo for the first time. The years fly by and before you know it they are teenagers. Sometimes I want to yell, STOP THE's all going too fast. The trip from toddler to teen at lightning speed. We have gone from kindergarten meet the teacher to graduation year in the blink of an eye. Hope you have a year full of blessings and adventure, Nathan!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bulldog Bark Zazzle...

Here is a link to our Bulldog Bark Online Store with Zazzle. All proceeds from sales of Bulldog Baseball paraphrenalia supports Nevan's Bulldog Baseball Team. Need a tshirt? ; )

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Nevan!!!

11 years old....I can hardly believe so many years have gone by. He is almost as tall as I am and is wearing a size 7 shoe...that's men's size 7! He is becoming quite the comedian and athlete. He starts off his new year playing the part of Marcus in the Homeschool Family Theater production of Cinderella. Marcus is one of Cinderella's closest friends. Next week he is going to audition for a part in the AZ Homeschool Theater production of Peter Pan. His baseball season with the Bulldogs also begins this weekend with his first Spring practice. HIs baseball season runs from now until May. With concurrent rehearsals and practices all Spring, it is going to be busy busy for him from now until May. With theater practice on MOndays and Wednesdays and baseball practices on Mon/Wed/Fridays and home educ. classes on T/Th...we are gearing up for a very full Spring. I am going to have to get creative with family more on the weekends to freeze for the week and reading up on crock pot menus so dinner is done by the time we get home. I am grateful for his enthusiasm and dedication to his chosen activities. We pray that he is always fulfilled in his endeavors. I am finding that he says YES to more than he used to...he is willing to try just about anything at least once, and has a wonderful attitude when it comes to competition. He engages in activities for the sake of having fun and he rarely approaches even competitive events with a competitive attitude. There is a difference between being enthusiastic and competitive...and he has shown us a very caring sportsmanlike attitude.

Funny story: I was driving Nevan in for his classes one day and had remembered that the program was running a Spelling Bee for the kids and I thought it was going to be held within the next few weeks. So I asked Nevan if he wanted to participate. He said sure. Before classes started we went into the office to sign him up and get the list of words, etc. and the secretary informs us that the Spelling Bee was actually that same afternoon. Oops! I asked Nevan if he still wanted to participate in the Spelling Bee since he had not had a chance to practice words or prepare. He said sure! Alrighty then. We signed him up, but I was not sure how that was going to go...this was his 1st Spelling Bee and he was going in cold. He didn't seem to mind. I think I was a bit more nervous than he was, more concerned about how he would take it if he didn't do well. When the Spelling Bee started I could tell that he really had no concern for whether he was going to spell everything *correctly*. He was doing this to have fun and he did! He came in 4th place in a multi age group...2-8th grade. He was pretty pleased with himself and I gutsy of him to walk into an academic event with no preparation and get up in front of an audience of people to spell words that he may not know. The highlight of the evening was that they spelled his name incorrectly on his name tag and on his participation certificate. heard me...his name was spelled incorrectly at the Spelling Bee...ironic, isn't it?? Ahhh...we had a good laugh.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Health and Fitness's part of the plan...

The kids are not the only ones enjoying the great outdoors and benefit marathons this year....Mom participated in the PF Chang's Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, in honor of Sally Loughrige, a friend's mom who died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. The family started a team called Sal's Pals and they walk/run the marathon every year. This was my first time in a *marathon*...which is a little different than a *walkathon*. LOL! There are some serious runners in the marathon. : ) there were over 32,000 participants. We started in downtown Phoenix and the finish line was at Sun Devil Stadium at ASU, Tempe. The Half Marathon is 13.1 miles long. I walked about 6 miles, to the 10 K marker and then decided that if I wanted to walk the next day, I should stop while I was ahead. : ) It felt wonderful to walk that long distance, though. After my car accident and subsequent broken leg, my level of physical fitness seems to have declined. It has been more challenging for me to do the types of physical exercise that I was doing before. And I am not happy about that. I walk, sporadically, in the mornings, but it certainly has not been a regular thing. Until now. My 2010 plan is to focus on my personal health and fitness! My goal is to get back into shape...and feel good all the time. This marathon was my personal benchmark. If I could do 6 miles without any training at all...imagine what I could do if I actually trained and had a consistent exercise regime! By next year, we are planning for our family to do the Rock and Roll Marathon together...whoever is old enough, that is. ; ) there are age requirements. I plan on crossing that finish line having put 13.1 miles under my feet. In the picture is: Gina Loughrige, Me, Heather Cates, Christine Hunter, Barb Mulvany and Gina's two little girls Willow and Sofie. : ) It was another beautiful day!!! Thank you ladies!!

Kids Rock!

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, January 16th...Nevan and Silvio participated in the Kids Rock Marathon to benefit the Phoenix Children's Hospital. The boys were up at the crack of dawn to prepare themselves for their run. It was a One Mile Run...over 4,300 kids participated. The crowds at Sun Devil Stadium were amazing! I don't think we have ever seen so many participants in a benefit marathon. Wow!

It was great to see all the kids lined up at the Start Line. : ) And all the energy swirling about as they lifted the start rope and the kids pushed forward on their run. It was a wave start, meaning that they had categories of kids starting at different times. This race was age Nevan ran first with others in the 5th grade category and Silvio ran later with the 3rd grade category...including our friends Donovan and Reese! : )

Nevan came in about 7th place among hundreds of 5th graders... and Silvio has come a long way since his double serial casting in August...he ran a spectacular race, crossing the finish line in a steady pace, not even breaking a sweat! : ) His feet are a little sore now, but he's holding his own. After the Lungevity Walk he did, he said that one mile was a piece of cake! In August he could not put his feet down flat on the ground due to his short achilles tendons...and by January he is able to run marathons. ; ) We are most grateful for his physical therapist... for his insight, suggestions and dedication to Silvio's progress!