Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Adam's first chapter book

As you know from a previous post, we've decided to homeschool Adam. It took a few weeks to get in a routine, but are now feeling settled. I am having a total blast. Yesterday we got a little off track from our schedule because we were very engrossed in writing a chapter book for Adam. Adam dictated everything. He really loves mysteries ever since Rob read the Egypt Game to him. He's also been very interested in writing his own stories.The other day, he was asking his dad how one makes a book. Rob explained the process of writing and sending to a publisher to get printed and so forth. So it was very important for Adam to have it in chapter book format. He still has to do the illustrations so we can send it to the "printers". But here is what he has so far:

Adam’s Jack-in-the-box
Written by Adam Brandt
Illustrated by Adam Brandt

Chapter 1
The missing Jack-in-the-box
When I was 23 years old I had a birthday. I got a present. When I opened it there wasn’t anything in it. I was sure that this would be a mystery. And then I went into my room and looked everywhere around my room. I couldn’t find the Jack-in-the-box anywhere. And then I went in my brother’s room and I looked around my brother’s room. Thirty days later my Mom died. Then I went with my Grandpa and Grandma to their house.

Chapter 2
The Terrible Cries
When I got to Grandma’s house, I looked around the room that I was going to sleep in. And I looked at the strange pictures and one of them was like an old man crying and smiling at the same time.

Chapter 3
The Secret Room
When I came out of the room I was going to sleep in, I found that one of the flashlights was knocked down from the shelf. And then, the door closed behind me and when I looked around, no one was standing there!

Chapter 4
The Ghostly Picture
When I passed the flashlights it was knocked down from the shelf. I found another flashlight. It was knocked down from the door. And then I looked at the door and I expected more flashlights to be on there but there were none but an old old flashlight. I heard a story that a ghost that lived in an old man’s house. And when I went to the room that I was going to sleep in, I slept for a long time. And when I woke up, there wasn’t any strange pictures there anymore. It was like somebody had cut them off. And then I saw that it was like that because it was on the floor. And I saw somebody standing by my bed. But when I looked back there wasn’t anybody there. Then I saw Grandma it seemed like it was floating. And when I thought that, there was a cry heard. But I didn’t know, and it seemed like Grandpa was crying. But it was nearer in Grandpa’s office and it was more far away in the house from my room. And then I walked out of my room. Then I saw my ghostly shadow turn over my door when somebody closed behind me. It seemed like somebody was trying to play a trick on me but it was a ghost. And I saw Grandpa but his face was scowling like he was really mad that I was here.

Chapter 5
The Ghostly Shadows
When I walked out of Grandpa’s office, I saw another strange door and heard a slam when I turned to walk to the other door. But when I saw it, it wasn’t closed. It was like it was slamming to eat someone. Then I ran away but I heard another slam from the same door. This time it was closed but again when I turned it was slammed. This time it was open and it shut, but a little shut and a little open. It was strange that this house was kind of haunted when I read another story of ghosts that I felt more familiar that this was haunted a long time ago. Then I woke up from my bed. Then Grandpa called me to go to his work. And when I got to his work, it seemed like there was nothing but the church thing. But, there was churches surrounding us. The only airplanes we could see is the airplane that Grandpa built. It wasn’t a real one it was a fake. But it was used for flying but it wasn’t used for people to fly it.

Chapter 6
The Mystery of Grandpa’s work

Grandpa told me that I could look around Grandpa’s huge office because he would find some clues where his Jack-in-box was but he had a Jack-in-the box but it wasn’t his. He said that somebody sent a package to him. When he opened the door there was noone there. It was a person that Grandpa thought was a boy who sent the package. But Grandma sent the package.

Chapter 7
A Fake and Real Tornado
When I was working on building a fake tornado, but suddenly there was a complete smash like there was a real tornado. But when I looked out the window there was no tornado. Then I went and searched around grandma and Grandpa’s house. And I came to the door of my room and I turned it and it was locked. And then I went to Grandpa’s office and the door was locked. And I tried all the doors upstairs and downstairs and they were all locked.

Chapter 8
The Beginning of One Mystery
When I had my second birthday, I had to do another mystery. But then I was the mystery that I was just going on. And I figured out that the picture was really floating. But it wasn’t real and it had nothing on it. Just a blank picture. Then I figured out that who was making the mystery happen was Grandpa and Grandma. They were the ones who locked the doors. They were the ones who made the fake airplane. And they were the ones who builded all of the churches to surround us as Grandpa’s work. But the only thing that I was not sure that my mystery wasn’t done, was where was my Jack-in-the-box? And I figured that my Jack-in-the-box was in Grandpa’s office. Grandpa was the one who kept the secret of him really selling the package. He wanted to get away from every thing that children have so that he could give children who didn’t have enough toys a lot of toys. Grandma was the one who locked my door. She was keeping a secret that she cut all my pictures. Because she wanted all the pictures to be in the neighbor’s house. And put the neighbor’s pictures in our house. But when I woke up, the pictures were hot wheels pictures in my room and there were airplanes in Grandpa’s room and houses in Grandma’s room.


Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful for the small and simple things. This is a conversation that occured in the car on the way to thanksgiving dinner with Great Aunt Dorothy and Great Uncle Lyle.

Me: "Happy Thanksgiving boys! What are you thankful for Adam?"

Adam: "I'm thankful for the leaves that Heavenly Father gave us so the trees could be beautiful in the fall."

Me: "Me too! Lincoln, what are you thankful for?"

Lincoln: (without hesitation) "God."

A few minutes later...

Lincoln: (smiling big with his big dimple) "I Shining!"

These are the moments that make life worth living! I'm thankful that God gave me these incredible boys!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mother for Sale

Does anyone know of a good therapist for children? I'm pretty sure that they're going to need it for every time I've cut their hair. I'm not kidding! I seriously dread when the time comes to cut my children's hair. Some probably wonder why I let my kids get so shaggy. It's because I know that I'm going to have to deal with major trauma. Adam is the worst. Oh my goodness! To hear him carry on, you would think that the worst thing possible was happening to him. I try to coax and be soft. Then he carries on so that I find myself losing patience and it becomes a serious battle. He is so prone to be afraid of everything. You should have seen us trick or treating on Halloween. Whenever someone with a mask got anywhere near, he would start freaking out desperately clinging to my legs. I wouldn't say he was much of a risk-taker. By the time it's all over, I always vow that I will NEVER cut my children's hair again. But then I can never bring myself to paying someone else money to do what I can do. So, I guess it all comes down to the money. My children need therapy because I wanted to save a few bucks! Poor Lincoln spent the rest of his evening following after me with his "blanky" saying, "Mommy, I want you!" Evidently he was in need of some nurturing after his haircut. Some reassurance that his mother did in fact still love him. My poor children...I just may have to put myself on Ebay..."One Mother for sale, one mother for sale. One haircutting, head holding mother for sale...."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life-changing decision

Rob and I finalized our decision this morning to pull Adam from public schools. We've been talking about it for a long time but at this fall decided to go ahead and give public schools a try. It was what Adam wanted to do anyway. Since school has started it has become increasingly evident that it was time to revisit the idea and to give it some serious thought and prayer. I went to parent/teacher conferences and left feeling that a huge change was impending and I wasn't sure if I was ready. Any parent would probably have come out of the that meeting feeling positive about the situation. The teacher is very happy with Adam's performance and that he behaves well in class. That's actually part of the problem. She describes a child to me that I didn't think existed. She told me that he's extremely quiet and rarely raises his hand to participate. However, he always knows the right answer when called on. This probably sounds like a dream child for any public school teacher that spends a good portion of the day keeping the peace. He comes home every day completely exhausted and expressing concern that school is "So Long". I've come to the opinion that after 2 short months of of public schools Adam is already tired and bored. They are in school 7 hours a day with only one 20 min. recess and a 30 minute lunch. I could go on and on about all the reasons why we are making the change but, I'm tired right now. I'm tired because I'm scared to death. I feel so much responsibility on my shoulders now and I'm not sure where to start. The answers to our prayers will be the driving force for me right now, in that I know that we are making the right decision. So, to all you homeschooling mothers out there, HELP!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Autumn pictures

The boys and I had fun taking some Autumn pictures to capture the leaves in our backyard. As pretty as the leaves are this year, I can't help but think my family is more beautiful.

Monday, November 03, 2008


After dealing once again with a tempermental printer that doesn't like to download pictures when I ask it to, I was successful in producing these fun Halloween pics. Adam was obviously Harry Potter. He wanted to look exactly like him so we colored his hair dark. Lincoln was a rough and tough cowboy that went around the church party tipping his hat to the ladies and saying, "howdy partner". I wish I had a pic of myself dressed up at the party. It was pretty entertaining getting the response that I got. Typically, everyone at church never sees my without make-up and dressed nice. I pretty much had everyone thinking that I was a typical high maintenance chick. I came dressed as myself the way I look when I roll out of bed in the morning. One of my friends was so traumatized that she actually asked me to never go there again! It was pretty sweet! Anyway, feast your eyes on these little sweeties instead.
If you look closely you can see a sucker stick sticking out of Lincoln's mouth and it looks like a cigarette. Once we got in the car this tough cowboy had had enough!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's official!

My little Lincoln is officially growing up! For the first time he very adamantly told me, "I NOT like you Mom!" My baby is gone.....

Monday, October 20, 2008

New York, New York!

After a year of living in the East coast, I finally made it to New York City for my first time. Rob was hosting a tour bus to go see the Metropolitan Opera debut of "Dr. Atomic" by John Adams.
It was an incredible day. The first picture was the first thing I saw when I got off the bus at the lincoln center. The Manhattan temple. It's amazing to see Moroni in the middle of New York City. Unfortunately the itinerary of the tour bus did not allow enough time to attend the temple (so sad!). The next picture is the Lincoln center. The building on the left is the New York City Opera. The middle is the Metropolitan Opera house, and the building on the right is the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Behind that building is Julliard School of Music. For a trained opera singer, it's pretty sad that this was my first trip to the Met!

The story of "Dr. Atomic" is about Dr. Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb. The music was riveting as well as the dramatic content as the morals of what happened at Hiroshima are explored. A definite MUST SEE in my book. It was exciting because the composer John Adams was actually there in the audience. The tenor role was sung by a fellow BYU Alumni Thomas Glenn. He was fantastic. Gerald Finley is Rob's favorite baritone of all time and he sang the lead of Oppenheimer. I wasn't terribly impressed with the new mezzo-soprano who was making her Met debut. She seemed very young and somewhat non-committal dramatically. Beautiful voice though. Being in that historic place certainly got my blood going again to get back on stage. Oh, how I miss performing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, how the years fly by!

It seems like just yesterday...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Milburn Orchards

Saturday morning before conference, the boys and I went apple picking with some good friends or ours while Rob spent the day in New York leading a tour bus to the Metropolitan Opera. We had so much fun. However, I probably should have put a limit on how many apples they could pick because Adam picked a good 20 lbs. on his own! We also enjoyed feeding the goats and the Giant pig. Good times.

I Did It!

My little lincoln has become obsessed with puzzles and the Memory game. The other day he totally beat Adam and his dad playing a Memory game that Rob brought back from Germany. Below are pictures of a puzzle that he just finished putting together 3 times in a row. Such a little smarty pants this one!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

First day of school pictures

I'm very excited to announce that I'm back in business with pictures! Yeah! I finally got the transfer to work. So here are Adam's first day of school pictures

Adam wanted to make sure I got a good shot of his cool Star Wars backpack and Scooby Doo Mystery Machine lunchbox. He was so excited.
I love this picture of Adam with brother. They sure love each other.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It gets even better!

So, I looked at my receipt from yesterday's shopping trip and realized I had been overcharged almost $20! I went in and it turned out to be the wrong item but was falsely advertised. So since it was their mistake, they gave me 2 big container's of honey for $5 when they were originally $9.99 a piece! Sweet! So, actually, my shopping trip panned out at $180 worth of groceries for approx $71! Almost $110 worth of savings people! I figured out that with the time I spent clipping coupons, I paid myself about $55 an hour. Not bad for a homemaker! Stay tuned for future reports of fabulous savings!

Monday, September 29, 2008

My latest obsession

As the state of the economy grows worse and worse all the time, with cost of living ever rising, I'm always searching for ways to be more efficient with my time and/or money. In my book, time is money and vice versa. I'm determined that any time I spend working for income to help the family will be time I get paid for over and over again versus by the hour. I'm also becoming obsessed with coupon clipping. My friend Stevi, who I met at the park at playgroup (not a part of our group), has been opening my eye's to the wonderful world of getting paid at the register when you go grocery shopping. This woman is incredible! She more often than not, walks away with hundreds of dollars of groceries for only a fraction of the cost. She was showing me some old receipts and one showed over $200 worth of groceries that she only paid $49 for. Crazy! So, I went dumpster diving this morning to get a couple copies of the sunday paper. With Stevi's help, and on my very first time, I walked away with $180 of groceries for $90! Not really to Stevi's level yet but not bad for my first time. I can't even tell you how excited I am! So, I'll keep you posted as I get better at this. I can't even tell you what a blessing this is going to be. I don't remember the last time I was so excited to look at my receipt at the end of a shopping trip!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First day of school and talk in primary

I have SO much to catch up on that has happened in the last several weeks. I'm been kind of trying to wait until I could get pictures on the computer to help document the events. But alas, my camera is MIA and my printer is not transferring pictures well anyway. Anyway, I wanted to document Adam's first day of school and his very first talk in primary. I'll have to post the pics when I can get them later. So, I thought for sure I would be bauling like a baby on Adam's first day of school because I was really fighting back the tears during orientation a few days before. Just walking the halls I was hit with the realization that my first "baby" was growing up, and FAST! I took him into the building on his first day and decided to say goodbye at the end of the hall and just let him walk by himself to his classroom. As I'm trying to hug and kiss him, he's getting on this tiptoes looking past me saying, "MOM, I gotta go!". I said goodbye and he just marched right down to his class like he'd been doing it for years with his cute little Clone Wars backpack and his Scooby Doo Mystery Machine lunch box. It was at that moment that I was excited instead of sad and weepy that he could have something to call his own. He has been ready for independence from me since he could walk and communicate anything at all! So, I didn't cry actually. I was so proud of my boy in seeing his confidence in his own abilities that I was happy to see him go and "conquer". It probably helped that I moved us into our new house that same day so my mind was on other things.I often miss him during the day as does little brother who asks me all day, "Where's my brudder? Where's my brudder?" So we look forward to our afternoons when he can tell us all about his day. At his school they use a color code system to encourage good behavior from the students. Green is the best and the colors go to blue, purple, red, and yellow as behavioral problems escalate. He's so funny everyday as he announces, "Well, I got green again today mom! But, so-and-so got a color change, and so-and-so had to give the teacher time." He is very conscious of pleasing the teachers and always notices when someone is breaking the rules. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. Adam's sense of humor and theatrical side is more apparent as his fictional stories of himself and his friends are becoming more and more frequent. One afternoon he had me going for two hours, totally straight-faced, telling me that he was naughty and should have had a color change. He went on and on about he and his friend Isha and how they were wandering the halls without the teachers. When I finally realized that he was fibbing, his story had excalated into sort of a Sci-fi, twilight zone account of missing buildings, and alien abductions. Pretty imaginative, that one.

He also gave his first talk in primary a couple of weeks ago and did a fantastic job. He was so reverent as he spoke about prayer. His dad helped him with alot of it but he recited the 9th artical of faith by heart and told a sweet story about how his prayer was answered one time the car wouldn't start before church. It was fast sunday that week and Adam seemed particularly in tune with the spirit that day. That same morning of his talk, he expressed to his dad that he wanted to bring a Book of Mormon with him to church. These were his words, "Dad, I need a Book of Mormon! I'm going to take my Book of Mormon and we're going to go around and knock on doors and teach the gospel! We're going to do it!" He was devasted when we explained to him that our job as members was to be a good example and share with our friends and not to knock on doors. He so had his heart set on tracting. So sweet! I love his huge little spirit. I know I've been focusing on my Adam so one of these days I'll need to fill you in on the adventures of my little rascal the "Lincolnbot", as he calls himself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ode to a dishwasher

Well, I finally got internet today! I've been without it for almost 3 weeks and it has been driving me nuts! Anyway, alot to catch up on as in the last three weeks we've moved to our new home (love it!) and sent our first child off to kindergarten. But the most important event of my life as of late has been the beautiful joining of woman and dishwasher. Oh how I love this machine! I wish I could hunt down it's inventor and give him/her a big hug and kiss. But, then they would be very uncomfortable as my hug would linger on much too long. Anyway, I just can't even begin to describe the happiness that I have now that this wonderful thing is a part of my life. I'm pretty sure that at least 3 hours a day have become free to do anything I please. I just might have to find a hobby now that I have 3 extra hours a day and only 1 child at home. Hmm...any ideas?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What in the World!

Now that Adam is 5, he has found it appropriate and very grown up to add new phrases to his vocabulary. My favorite is, "What in the world....!" He pretty much says that any time things don't go exactly as planned. It was pretty cute when I overheard this expression as he was trying to put a toy back together and it wasn't happening. He muttered under his breath, "what in the world is this thing doing to me!" He also likes to use the word "actually" alot. "Mom, it's actually......." He will proceed to fill in whatever he would like to say. One of these days I need to take a video of him talking with his hands. It's too cute. I was so proud of him the other day as I arrived home with the car full of boxes for our move. Adam marched right out and proceeded to be a little gentleman and essentially emptied the entire car by himself as I talked on my cell phone. When I got off the phone and realized what happened I thanked him and he said, "Mom, I like to give service to people to show them how much I love them. And I love you Mom." I pretty much melted right there. I find myself just gazing into his darling face just wishing he would stay this little forever. Can you tell I'm going to cry on his first day of Kindergarten? I found some old pictures that I just love because their just so sweet! See, I can look at the mess now and say, "Oh, wasn't he just sweet!" I guarantee I didn't say that then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Girls

Conversation with Adam in the car this morning;
M: When your last month of karate is over you can pick something new to try like gymnastics or something.
A: Well, I might want to try gymnastics. But I don't want to go to a dance class that has lots of girls like the one in Indiana.
M: What's wrong with being in a class with girls?
A: Well, I don't like to be friends with a bunch of girls. I just want to stick with boys.
M: Oh, but you like to play with Haley and she's a girl.
A: Yeah, but she's a girl I know and I'll just stick with her. I like Haley, but I don't want to be friends with a bunch of girls I don't know.
M: You'll probably have alot of girls in your kindergarten class.
A: Oh, well, I'll be friends with the girls in my kindergarten class. Just not the girls at the dance class in Indiana.
M. Oh...okay.

I still couldn't quite get out of him why exactly he doesn't like girls. Maybe he thought he had to wear a tutu if he went to a class with all girls. Or, maybe he just doesn't want to be the only boy. Anyway, this conversation happened on the way home from registering him in Kindergarten. I can't believe my little boy is going to school! This all seems to crazy! Time goes by too fast and I wish my little stinkers would stay little just a little longer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

God does love us!

Hello it's me again. Back again from my regular hiatus. Usually, I become resistant to journaling when I have plenty to write about. In fact too much to actually sit down and document. I have so much to report and say that I usually get overwhelmed and quit for awhile. My guilt eventually gets the better of me as I contemplate the volumns upon volumns of journals that my father has painstakingly kept over his now 68 years of life. You'd think I could blog a consistent word here and there instead of post silly pictures of my face on different famous people. Anyway, I feel compelled to share a huge blessing and answer to prayer that will drastically improve our families' quality of life in the next year to 6 years. We have spent this last year crammed into a tiny 720 square foot home. We have been very grateful to have a roof over our heads that was affordable as the cost of living on the east coast came as quite a shock from the slow-paced mid-western state of Indiana. But this home was much less than ideal for our growing family. Now that we know that Rob has some long-term stability with his job, we have been praying for an opportunity to purchase a home that we could stay in for awhile. I think in our 7 years of marriage we have moved almost 7 times! I have gotten very good at moving but I'm ready to settle down. When we went about getting pre-approved to purchase, we quickly realized that until Rob received his first real pay increase at the professor level (it happens when he officialy has his doctorate degree in hand) we would not be able to afford anything suitable for our family. I was very discouraged and had resigned myself to the possibility that we would never grow up and have a home of our own. That we would always struggle month to month to make ends meet. Just when we had decided that we would just stay in this tiny house another year, I checked craigslist out of auto pilot habit and came across this ad that seemed too good to be true. There are many scams on craigslist, but when I saw the pictures I had the distinct feeling that I had found our home. As it turns out, we have found the perfect set up for our current situation. The couple had decided to rent for one year to someone that was interested in buying the same home at the end of that year. The market is terrible out here so this is really the ideal. To rent a home this size, location, and quality, you have to pay at least $1350-$1600 per month! Crazy hugh! They are renting to us much lower than the normal market value so we feel very fortunate to have just found it to rent for the time being even if we don't buy. We are 99% certain that it is exactly what we would want to buy for our first home, so we are planning to purchase the home which is currently listed at almost $10-15,000 under the current market value at the end of this next year. We found our home! We signed the lease tonight so it is official. I can't tell you how excited and blessed I feel! Today as I was cleaning my tiny corner of a kitchen and watching the ants march across my table that we have learned to coexist with, I smiled to myself because I could now have peace in knowing that we will be in a much better situation than we are now. I will no longer have nasty moldy caulking in my shower that I can't scrub clean no matter what powerful chemical I use. All the windows will actually lock! I won't have stray dogs and cats roaming into our yard and tearing through our garbage and pooping in my yard later to be transported into my house on the bottom of a little boy's shoe. I'll have a dishwasher! After 3 years without one, I will cherish every moment I spend filling that machine! I will have a place for everything! No more trecking out to the storage unit to retrieve everyday used items. My boys can play without falling all over each other in their tiny bedroom/playroom. Can you tell I'm excited? Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure so you can share in my excitement.