Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

We felt bad leaving out photos in this years Christmas cards, so hopefully some friends and family make it over here for a quick catch up. We keep this blog to record our days together, so please feel free to stop by anytime and catch up. We love getting comments : ).

This past year has been a fun one. Having a 3 and 5 year old is never boring. Emma started dance in February and fell in love instantly. She is taking a combo class and learning tap and ballet. She had her first recital in July and took to being on stage like a fish to water. In fact, we have yet to get her off the stage. She also performed at our local fair during the summer and really enjoyed that too. She is quite the thinker and talker. She really is a 13 year old stuck in a 3 year old body. The things she comes up with just boggle us sometimes. She has a true love for the Lord, and it is precious to witness. She has so much faith at 3, not yet tainted by the world. I'm learning so much from her.

Zachary has been a light in our life since the day he was born. Every day with him is a true gift. He is the most thoughtful 5 year old boy I've ever known (yes, I'm bias... but really). I started homeschooling him last spring. I found an awesome curriculum that made me courageous enough to make me believe I could teach him. You can look back in our blogs for some fun school days. We have started out very slowly, but are starting to pick up the pace. Of course, we could not leave Emma out, she's been doing a preschool curriculum. Zachary started racing BMX (bicycle motorcross) in October. We have a great track near our house and he is over there a couple times a week for practice and races. He is really enjoying it... so much so that Dan has joined him. He races with the "old men", the cruiser class. I am hoping it turns out to be a fun activity for the two of them for many years to come. Emma and I sure enjoy rooting them on.

Dan is still working out in San Jacinto welding and fabricating for Saddleback Valley Iron. He has recently changed his schedule to working four 10 hour days and taking Friday through Sunday off. We LOVE it!! It is so nice to have him home. He still enjoys getting out in the ocean and put aside the long board for a change and got a short board this year. We are still praying that the Lord will see us closer to the sea one day.

I am still blessed to be working from home. It's been a very busy year, praise God, the economy has not effected my work yet. Between teaching, working, being mama, and wife... I am pretty busy. I did take up knitting this summer and still love scrapbooking (my paper therapy!!). The kids and I joined a MOP's (Mother's of Preschoolers) group this year, and it has been so nice to get out with other mommies.

As a family we have done a lot of camping this year in our toy hauler. Most toy haulers haul motorcycles and dune buggies... ours hauls surfboards and bicycles for now. Zachary still has his quad. Now that the weather has cooled down we hope to use it more. Hopefully 2009 sees more sand/dirt. We took quite a few trips to the beach last summer, Doheny, San Clemente, Bolsa Chica and we have enjoyed using Dick and Mari's membership at Silent Valley in Idyllwild.

Well, there's much more in our past blogs. We would like to wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

In His Grip,
The Noack Family

Zach and Emma, sporting beautiful sweaters by Nana - December 2008

Camping Halloween at the BMX Track (Track or Treat)

"Team Noack" on the track

Zachary, tearing it up... fully padded.

Can't wait to get her training wheels off!

The Noack Family, Oak Glen Apple Picking - October 2008

Family Games

I've got to know, what honest mom or dad out there can say that they have the patience it takes to get through a whole game of Shoots and Ladders? I mean really, don't you just cringe when you get the shoot and you think the game is just never going to end. Or, how about Candyland, and the only thing holding you back from the end of the game is your three year old that just wants a "pink" card. Or worse... the Memory game. Why doesn't a five year old understand that if you pick up the same cards every turn, you will never get a match!!

Well, welcome to our new family favorite... Jenga. It's a game that's been in our closet since before we had kids. I just figured the kids would use them as blocks, but it's really been a fun game for our family. Now, to be honest, I thought it would be a short game since once the tower topples over, the game is done. Wouldn't you know that my dear lovely children have some kind of supernatural gift with gravity and can dance and yell around that tower, and unlike Jericho, the walls don't come down. Honestly, look at this last tower we made:

And look at how calm and tranquil we are when we play it:

(Yes, that's Dan in the background just as amazed as I was that that tower does not go down)

Got to love Family game night!!

School Continues

We are picking up the pace this year in school. I'm starting to feel the groove. Both of the kids are still enjoying homeschooling and ask to do it everyday. Unfortunately many days sneak by without any formal school getting done... but I'm learning too.

Our last unit in Kindergarten was N-n-n-nest. We learned all about animal homes and how God takes care of us. The kids and I learned how awesome it is that a bird can make it's own nest. They both have made several nests, in hopes that a bird would move in. I think they have figured out that the birds are thankful to find material for their own nests from the ones the kids make.

In preschool we have been concentrating on the letter "B" and learning the story of Noah and the "B"oat. We've had some fun finger plays and acted out Noah filling up the ark. One day we discussed what things float and what things sink. We did an experiment to find out for ourselves. We went to our "lab" (the bathroom, that day) and filled up the sink. Then we found objects around the house and yard to experiment with. We sorted the objects into "float" and "sink" bowl. Man, I love this school stuff. The conversations that come up are so fun. I can't imagine sending these two off to school at this age and missing out on all that fun.

Last week we also learned how to make "friendship tea". We plan on making it our Christmas gift for the kids Sunday school and dance teachers, as well as for some family. Here's how to make it:

Friendship Tea
1/2 cup instant ice tea powder
1 cup instant lemonade powder
1 cup Tang
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix together, package and give out. To serve, put 1 - 2 teaspoons into a mug of hot water and stir. Don't use too much, or a sugar high will result!!

The kids loved the smell of the cloves which reminded me of studding oranges with whole cloves when I was young, so we did that too. Boy the house smelled great that day... and for many days after.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where Have I Been??

One may think that I have dropped off the end of the earth, but that's not the case. The last time I blogged was October 22nd, my birthday. On October 23rd we found out I was pregnant. Yeah, wow. We had just started trying, and lets just say we hit a home run right out of the box. Well, we had three days of silly smiles on our faces. We had fun telling our families the great news and sharing the news with our kids. But... three days later I started cramping and spotting. I was able to get in to see a doctor, and after a couple days of blood test I was told I had miscarried. It was quite a shock. I have had two very "textbook" pregnancies. My doctor said that my hcg level (which is the hormone detected in pregnancy) was not rising quick enough. Well, to make a VERY long story shorter, I continued having blood tests done for several weeks only to find that my hcg levels continued to rise, but at a very slow rate. I had hope that this pregnancy may still be viable. I found an excellent website about misdiagnosed miscarriages and found lots of support there from women who had been and were going through similar situations. Just last week my hcg level has started to go down. I'm sure this is not a viable pregnancy now, and the healing can begin.

These last several weeks have been such a physical and emotional roller coaster. Most days have been okay, but I did have my share of very difficult days. If nothing else comes from this season in my life, I have certainly gained more faith in my Lord. I know He is the Great Creator and the Master of the Universe. If He can orchestrate the Heavens, well then He can certainly take care of me.

The following is the chorus to a song called Bring the Rain, by Mercy Me. This song got me through some very tough days.

Give me joy, give me peace, give the chance to be free, give me anything that brings You glory. And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain.

Yes, the rain did come, but as I sit here in my office with my two miracles napping in their rooms, I see a beautiful day outside with plenty of sunshine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Silly title...and so hard to type. Yes today is my birthday and I proudly turn 25, I mean 35.

Yes 35 years today I was born to a very happy 19 year old mommy. A mommy who wanted a baby so badly. A mommy who has dedicated her life from that day to her children. Even now, with all three of us out of the "nest" she still manages to put us first.

Yes, a very happy mommy and a VERY Blessed baby...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dancing at the Fair

Emma performed two weeks ago at the Southern California Fair in Perris. She performed the same two dances she did at her recital last July. This time Nana and Nana Sue drove out for the show. Emma did a wonderful job and had absolutely no problems going on stage.

Tap dance - Baby Bumble Bee (Emma is on the left)

Ballet - Getting Ready for the Ball (Emma on the right)

We stayed for some rides after the show.

...and checked out some livestock. My Nana says this was her favorite part, watching Emma and her little friend holding hands and looking at the pigs. They both still have their tiaras on from their last dance. Easily titled "the two princesses and the pigs"... too cute.

Proud Teacher - Proud Mom

Just wanted to sharing a couple photos from a school day not too long ago.

Emma concentrating on stitching a lower case "a"

Zachary working on his weekly drawing page. Such an imagination!!

Finger painting apples on trees made from their hand tracings

Apple Picking - Part Two

Two weekends ago we returned to Oak Glen to go apple picking with Danny. He had missed our previous adventure this year since we went on a weekday. Boy was it crowded up there. We hit stopped traffic before we even got to Riley's Farm. We slowly ventured down the highway to Snowline only to find the line for apple cider donuts wrapped clear around the building! We decided to make due with apple tasting and an apple cider donut mix to take home. Then we drove on back to Los Rios Ranchos to pick apples. This time we got a 1/2 bushel box and picked away.

Zach and Dan with our 1/2 bushel box

Emma getting help with the high ones

Zachary's 1st attempt with mommy's camera (pretty good eh)

Emma and I hugging a redwood (we think)

NBA jump for that perfect apple

We really had a wonderful time. After picking apples we went across the road and the kids went on the pony rides and we got some lunch. It was nice to be out in the cool fall weather for the day. This is a family trip I would highly recommend to anyone in the area.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It seems some days are so hard to get through, while other days just seem to fall into place. It's been a very busy past month for me. Work alone has averaged over 40 hours a week. Add that to my mommy job, housekeeping (or lack thereof), teaching, being a wife, helping my grandparents, and other responsibilities... let's just say life has been chaotic.

I've been looking forward to this Thursday that had a void of anything to do on my "calendar". Well, today I was blessed with a day that felt more in order. By "in order" I mean I feel like I've had some successes. Today they were:

Schooling Kindergarten;
Working (still on the deadline);
Reading to Emma before nap (of course she didn't sleep, but she did stay in her room for over an hour);
Starting our next Little House book, The Long Winter, with Zach (he's been asking for at least two week, poor kid);
Sewing two skirts for Emma (something she's been asking for for over two weeks);
One and a half loads of laundry;
One load of dishes; and
blogging :).

My hubby just got home to start his weekend (loving his new 10 hour days/4 days a week!!), and he's mowing the lawn, yippee! And... I went grocery shopping earlier this week and have carne asada marinading in the fridge with avocados on the counter just waiting to be made into guacamole!! We are looking forward to a stay-at-home family weekend.

Here are Emma's new skirts. The butterfly one is made out of a soft flannel. I see tights and boots in it's future! She picked both the butterflies and the ladybug fabric (regular cotton). I still have one more to make out of the cutest strawberry fabric I found. I got the pattern free on-line here. I love the ribbon detail at the bottom hem of the skirts. I consider myself a beginning sewer, and I was able to make these two skirt in under two-hours (between faxes, phone calls, etc).

These are our new birthday crowns I made for the kids this year. I got this idea from my favorite blogger/author, Amanda Soule (aka, Soule Mama). She has an awesome book out called The Creative Family, which I love love love!! You can find her blog here. These "crowns" are made of wool felt and embroidered with the kids initials and some other fun stuff. There is elastic in the back, so hopefully they will last several years.

One more thing to share today... a passage that healed my heart yesterday:

From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever, I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. - Psalm 61:2-4

Here's to the weekend!! Blessing!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Zach's New P.E. Class

Just one of the many advantages of homeschooling is getting to pick our own P.E. (physical education) classes. Emma has been taking dance since February and loves it. She performed in her first dance recital in July and has yet to get off the stage. She will be performing at our local farmers fair next weekend too.

Every week Zachary sits patiently through her one-hour class. Dan and I keep telling him he can choose something to do too. He had mentioned both soccer and BMX, but had not decided which he wanted to try. He didn't seem to be much in a hurry, so we didn't rush him.

Well, a couple weeks ago Zach decided he wanted to try out BMX after watching his buddy, Trenton, at our local BMX track. Danny got pretty excited and started looking for a bike for him right away. I suddenly did what any mommy of a five year old would do, I got nervous. Dan found a great bike at a great price on Craigslist and we pulled out Zach's quad gear to make sure it all fit well.

So Monday night, after getting suited up in an armor of gear, I sent my baby boy out with the "big" kids on the BMX track. Sounds scary huh... well I sent him out there with his daddy in tow. Dan followed Zach around the track over and over again. They both had a lot of fun and they both did great. It was so fun to watch my "baby" out there doing it on his own. Granted his dad was trailing behind him, but he had to peddle himself up and over all those hills. I think we are really going to enjoy getting to know BMX life and meeting new friends out at the track.
Here he is taking off, out the gate for the first time. Dan held him back so the big kids could go first and then let him go.

And here is "Team Noack". I'm sure the team will grow to three as soon as Emma gets rid of her training wheels : ). As for mom, I'm better off in the stands for now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raspberry Fields Forever

I couldn't resist the title. We had such a great morning last week up in Oak Glen. The kids and I met my girlfriend Laila and her son Ethan for some fun and apple picking. We have started our A-A-Apple unit in MFW and it just happened to coincide perfectly with apple season. We met at the petting zoo, but of course we didn't call first to see what time they opened and we were an hour early. I told Laila about an orchard that made homemade fresh apple cider donuts... and we were off. Snowline is the name of the orchard. They have a cider mill, which was also closed (I guess there are benefits to going up during the busy weekends). We decided to start the day off by picking raspberries. The kids each filled their own basket while watching out for the "bumbly bees". They did a great job of avoiding the prickles and found lots of berries. When we had finished picking we went back to the barn for the donuts... yum. I had been thinking of those warm cinnamon donuts since we had gone up there last year.

Snowline didn't have apple picking that day, so after our donuts, we drove off down to Riley's Farm. There we were told by a lovely woman, in full colonial dress, that we could take a hay ride up to the apple orchard to go picking. So we waited for the tractor and got on board for the short ride up the hill. The days pick were Gala apples and we hunted for the trees with red ribbons tied on (that is how they mark the trees with ripe apples). We were also reminded by the man on the hay ride to twist the apples until they fall off the branch. If you just pull an apple off its branch, another apple will not grow in that spot again. The kids did a great job again of filling up our bag with beautiful apples. They could even reach the apples this year all on their own.

We had a wonderful morning in the fresh air with great friends. We came home with a bounty of apples and raspberries, which we have just finished off today. I guess we had better make plans to up again before the apples are all gone until next year. I'm not sure I can wait another whole year before having any more of those donuts either : ).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family Field Trip

Last Saturday morning we went down to San Clemente to pick up a BMX racing bike for Zachary...another story for another time. Afterward we decided to drive up to Dana Point and walk around. We ended up at the Ocean Institute at the end of the harbor.

We first visited an exhibit that showed us what the ocean floor looks like. It showed craters and valleys and (big around our home) volcanoes. We really enjoyed the hands on approach of the institute. The kids felt the contours of the ocean floor in a model, and got to play with setting on a computerized electronic globe.

Then we went into a lab room that had microscopes set up with all sorts of things to look at, sea sponges, corals, baby brine, and more. There were benches all around so the kids could climb up and be at just the right height to see in each microscope. Our telescope at home has been really big lately and we had only talked about microscopes. Silly me thought we won't need one of those until at least 3rd grade - so much for that. I guess it gives Dan something new to search Craigslist for.

There was also an exhibit where you could pick a whale and hear its "voice". They had a blast picking and hearing them all. We also saw all sorts of fish, shrimp, corals, jelly fish, sharks, rays... it was really fun.

BUT... the best part of the visit was the fish dissection. We were the only ones there. The lady was so sweet. She really got Zach and Emma involved. She talked right at their level and pointed out the different parts on the outside of our mackerel. They looked in its mouth and checked out its gills. Zachary loved touching it and feeling it's skin, Emma was a bit more, hum... reserve let's say. More of a looker. Then the lady asked Zachary if he would like to cut the mackerel open. She gave him a pair of surgical scissors and showed him how to do it. He dug in like a pro.

Then they located the fish's heart and stomach. She showed Zach how to clip open the stomach and squeeze out what was inside. They looked at it and tried to figure out what our little mackerel friend had for dinner. They found scales so they figured he had eaten a smaller fish. They also took out his eye and found the lens in it. The kids were so interested. Dan and I just stood back and watched the two of them experience this together. I've got to say, I was really encouraged to watch the two of them learning and taking it all in. It also encouraged me to be reminded that there are all sorts of places we can turn to for education. It is so nice to be reminded that, if we keep our minds open, we can find learning experiences all around us. We had no idea that was what was in store for us that day, but our Heavenly Father did. He led us right there and we had a beautiful family moment together. Our moment turned into a lovely day. We bumped into some dear friends children, Noah and Kyle out with their grandpa for the morning. The kids all watched the crabs together for a while then Noah and Kyle went off to enjoy the Ocean Institute. We went over to the harbor for fish and chip and then up to Newport to see Grandma and Grandpa Noack.

I just love days like this with my family. One surprise after another. Time shared together. Memories made. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Oh one more great photo from last week...

When Emma wakes up from her nap before Zachary she usually needs me for entertainment. Well, this day was different. She brought her blankets into my office and set up a bed on my floor and proceeded to "read" her own rendition of her new princess book out loud. It was so much fun pretending I was working, but really listening to her tale : ). How lucky am I!!!

I'll post soon about the field trip we took today to the apple orchards in Oak Glen! Fun Fun Fun!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Life right now...

Today we schooled!! Two days in a row! I was starting to wonder if it would happen. Things have seemed very crazy lately. Things are always crazy, but lately its been very hard to slow down. I'm not saying life is slow right now, but I think I'm starting to put some things in perspective.

Our family started a new Bible study last week. It's on Wednesday nights and there's something for all four of us. The kids both have their own classes, Dan is in the men's study, and I'm in the (huge!) woman's study. My former Bible study had about 8 people in it. This one has at least 200!! Luckily we are broken down into tables of 8, so it will be nice to get to know the women at my table this year. We are studying the book of Psalms, which I am very excited about.

I've also joined a MOPs group which starts next Tuesday. I've been going to T-Mom's the past year and a half which is basically a MOP's group, but put on privately by a church in Redlands. I've loved T-Moms, but the drive is long, and with gas prices it just doesn't make since. I'm looking forward to meeting a whole new group of women and seeing what the group as to offer.

I've also just found out that the church that has the Bible study and MOPs group, also has a group of homeschooling families. I've been looking into that too. I probably sound crazy, but there is something different about having scheduled activities with Christian groups than to have a busy schedule that is all over the place. Anyway, I'm hoping this year is a great year of growth for me and my family.

My last week of work was very busy, and while there is lots of work scheduled for the rest of the month, nothing can be as busy as the last week. I am very thankful for the work, and I'm so happy to be able to do it all from home so my kids can be with me. I'm looking forward to really getting school running regularly. This is what we've been called to do, and not doing it is disobeying the Lord. I must make it a priority. With that said, we are almost done with our leaf unit. Monday morning we should be starting our apple unit, and just in time. It's apple season up at Oak Glen and we have plans to meet friends up there on Thursday. We had a beautiful time there last year, and have been looking forward to going back since then.

We were hoping to go camping this weekend, but it didn't work out. So, my head is still in Idyllwild from Labor Day Weekend. I've decided to share a few more photos from that great time. (the header photo on my blog is from that weekend).

Here's Zach with his first catch, ever!! A blue gill.

Lucky for us Emma caught one too!!

Dan got a little bit of rest in (don't let this photo fool you, this was a rare moment!)

I thought for sure we would need a case of Bandaids when I saw them doing this...

but there were no falls. They had such a great long ride down the hill from our camp site. Dan tried to get me to go with him, but I was chicken (besides, then who would be in charge of the camera?).

We can't wait to go back to Silent Valley. Hopefully next time Grandpa with go with us!!!