Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mind Benders

Our kids really like this Mind Benders series of critical thinking books.

Figuring out the puzzles is one way to make working on reading comprehension, logic, and problem solving skills fun!

We have the 7-Book Set A series that has one book for preK-K level, one book for K-1, one book for K-2, and 4 books for grades 3-6 that spiral in difficulty. There's also a series of books for the 7-12+ range.

Jimmer is working through the preK-K book right now.
An example:

A finished one.

Here's an example from the first of four books for grades 3-6. Try it out!

Or how 'bout this one from the 4th book?

Have fun!

Our kids can't seem to get enough of them.

Be warned:
Once you hand over one of these books to your kids, please know that they won't: respond to your voice, eat, sleep, pay attention to their bodily functions, or (quite possibly) heed smoke alarm warnings.

They'll be on a Mind Benders bender!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A birthday tart...

...for the oldest strudel of our bunch.

(Missing one of our little cupcakes.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where's Mary Kate?

A glimpse of what Mary Kate has been up to in California...

Making new friends...with Kizzy (including giving her a bath).

Having fun at Six Flags.

Working in Mr. Merle's workshop. (Doesn't she look like she knows what she's doing?!)

What is she making?

I guess we'll have to stay tuned...

Fun with Gramma

Yes, Gramma was here.

Then Gramma left...

with Mary Kate.

It was a frenzied enough time that I didn't even post pictures of her having fun with the kids while she was here. I'm sure Joe and I missed most of the fun she had with them while we were out of town.

Gramma taught the kids one of Great Grandpa Hardie's favorite card games--Gin Rummy--modified for Jimmer by laying down parts of their hand as they went along.

Whose hand do you think will win?


I'm betting on Jimmer.

Gramma also taught the girls some jump rope rhymes.

"A horse, a flea, and three blind mice,
sat on a curbstone shooting dice.
The horse, he slipped and fell on the flea.
The flea said "Whoops, there's a horse on me."

Next time, Mom, we'll have to try Double Dutch. Then you'll have two sore arms!

Jimmer couldn't be left out of the action.

Whoops! Jimmer, you missed.

The kids always love seeing Gramma's dramatic reaction to their every move.

Jimmer: (giggle, giggle)

It's always more fun when Gramma's around!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mary Kate's big adventure begins

Today was the day Mary Kate has been waiting for. For nearly two years she has been thinking and talking about this big adventure.

Off she flew.

Her big trip--no other kids--back to Gramma's.

For nearly two weeks!

She'll feel so special.

Gramma and Merle's dog, Kizzy, will get more attention than she ever dreamed.

There are some fun adventures planned.

Never been away from home without Mom, Dad & siblings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Quick Getaway

My mom told me to leave town.

She didn't have to tell me twice.

Being the respectful and obedient daughter I am, I left the kids with her, grabbed my husband, and...skipped town.

Here's a close up glimpse of what we were able to soak in while we were away.

Further away

Left to right, top to bottom:

Prickly pear flower
Prickly pear cactus
Longhorn door knocker
River near cottage
Our dwelling place
Gnarly Cypress roots
Goodnight, Sun

More glimpses...

From our abode

Flowery yet prickly

Thought this was outlawed long ago? Not in Texas.



; )

Okay, maybe not what you thought.

Our view while we ate our vittles in town.

Thanks, Mom (a.k.a. Gramma), for chasing us out of town!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mary Kate's special day

Did she get married?

Nahhhhhhhhh, Lambie wouldn't allow it...even if Jimmer wanted to be her groom today! (Really!)

I had fun helping her get ready!

Holy gifts!

Crucifix necklace

Lots of pictures


As she receives

Fr. Danny...same guy who blessed all her gifts.

Jimmer looks like he's going in for a garter here, doesn't he?

Just helping MK take off her shoes. Sweetness.

See--only shoes.

Released from the bondage of dress shoes and tights.

Free to spin!

More holy gifts.

Gramma gave her a Rosary from the Vatican that was blessed by Pope Benedict!

Lambie was tasty!

Mary Kate, sweet soul, we're thrilled that we were able to help you celebrate your First Holy Communion. A joyous day for us all!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My brother's escort

Last night was sweet.

After 21-1/2 years, my mom and I were reunited with my brother's Army escort.

As some of you know, on October 7, 1987, my brother Mike died in a car accident while he was in the Army.

This kind man, Greg Ulibarri...

...brought his soldier home.

A difficult job that he did extremely well.

In his entire Army career, it was the only time he served as an escort.

Until last year, we had lost touch with Greg after he returned to Fort Bliss from Mike's funeral. Not that I hadn't tried finding him. Making the search more challenging was that my information had his name misspelled (leaving out an "r" in his last name), and he doesn't live in this country anymore!

Coincidentally, we unknowingly lived only a short distance from each other--not even an hour's drive--for a number of years here in Texas before he moved to Germany.

So, we met his lovely wife, Ann, and hugged and visited.

After the kids found out that Mr. Ulibarri had been a wrestler, they begged some tips on holds (e.g. half nelson) and learned some rules. Then, of course, they had to display their new-found moves.

Then the kids presented some pictures they drew for our friends to have.

My Mikey (named after my brother Mike) showing Mike's escort the pictures of Army vehicles he drew for him. *Sniff*

After a wonderfully warm visit and lots of laughing (and eating), we had come to realize what we had already guessed. Greg is an amazingly compassionate, thoughtful, and selfless family man...and always seems to have a fun story and comforting word.

Then we had to say 'goodbye' since they had an early flight back to Germany this morning--but not after some more big hugs...and our kids chasing them in their car down to the end of the block! (Who needs dogs when you have kids like ours?)

You know how some people are so warm, you think you've known them all your life and could consider them extended family? That's Greg and Ann.

Thank you again, Greg, for bringing your soldier--our brother, son, and uncle--back home for his final rest.