Monday, August 31, 2009

Big changes for Ann-Marie

No front teeth and new hair! The second top tooth fell out at a friend's pool....never to be found, but payment was still received. The hair, another story.....before church yesterday, I asked Ann-Marie if I could french braid her hair because we hadn't had time to wash it for a couple of days (o.k., maybe was getting frizzy!) As I was french braiding it, I discovered a chunk of hair missing. After tears and confession, we found out that Ann-Marie had gotten something (a belt?) stuck in her hair and decided to get scissors and fix it herself. So, this morning, my lovely hairdresser was able to take us first thing and Ann-Marie got a lovely new bob for the Fall. We all agreed, after the trauma passed, that the haircut looks very flattering on her. Another day, another adventure......

Sunday, August 23, 2009

All I want for Christmas......

is my two front teeth - one gone and one not far behind! Ann-Marie's other front tooth will be coming out shortly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Revealing - what's new for school.....

After a year of praying, talking, consulting, researching and such, we decided in the Spring that we would go with a non-traditional way to do school in our family. We will be schooling at home with PACyber. Here are our top 10 reasons to go with PACyber:

1. Both school-aged children will be able to self-pace through their curriculum.
2. We want to foster an environment of a lifelong love of learning in our children.
3. The ability to make sure the children are internalizing our family faith and values at this age, so they will be able to better handle peer pressure and mature situation they are faced with when they are older.
4. Travel - the ability to build in travel opportunities for our family with the flexible schedule.
5. Reclaiming family time - with Darrell's job and my fitness job, the hours between after school and bedtime were being lost, which is family time. We can rearrange our day to have family time in the morning because Darrell doesn't necessarily have to go in at a set time in the morning.
6. Embracing opportunities to allow the children to spend more time in their interests and strengths.
7. Experiential learning - we have the opportunity to go on educational field trips multiple times per month.
8. Stronger relationships with our children and fostering the relationships between siblings - easier done with larger chunks of family time.
9. Cost - PACyber is free (it is a public cyber charter school)
10. Choice - lots of extra classes the children would not have gotten from the public school at this level.

So there it is......we said we would try this for one year and see if it fit our family situation better. We are in no way putting down our public school experience....we may be back in the future. We received our materials yesterday and I'm very pleased (and overwhelmed) by the quality and content. We are doing the Calvert curriculum, which is a self-paced curriculum with lots of support we can tap into through PACyber staff. So that's our news, we'll keep you updated.......we'll be starting on Monday, August 24th.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last trip for the summer - Maryland

Our last summer trip - to see our friends in Knoxville, Maryland. We didn't do much, but completely enjoyed each other and some new things! Above, best friends Rebekah and Ann-Marie tried to act like twins every day by dressing alike and getting their hair done the same. Note the height difference....they are only three months apart in age.
A brand new playground was discovered within walking distance of the Shullenbarger residence.
One day, plans to go swimming at the pool fell through, so we did some water play outside - no pictures of the slip 'n' slide, but that was a big hit also.
The most exciting thing was the new playground in the back yard that Chris and Jessica designed and built. It is attached to the deck and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it (parents were known to sneak out to use the swings sans children!)
Some highlights were: Paula getting to go with Jessica to Jessica's 6 month OB appointment; experiencing game night; Evan getting an overnight with best friend, Paul, in Silver Spring; Darrell meeting up with an Air Force friend he hasn't seen for 8 years; and of course, the river trip (below). Thank you to our dear friends for allowing us this week at their house and for their supportive and encouraging friendship. I'm reminded of a bible verse: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17. We can definitely claim that for our friendship with this special family and we pray that despite the distance in miles between us, our relationship will continue to stay strong.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Steeler's training camp through Evan's eyes

Evan's friend, Jason, invited Evan to go with his family to the Steeler's training camp in Latrobe, PA this past weekend. We let Evan take our old digital camera, so here is his trip through his eyes.
Road trip! It's almost a two hour drive, so lots of time spent in the car.
Training camp....Evan took his NFL football and got four signatures on it....the most exciting one was Troy Polamalu!

And finally, Jason and Evan having a good time! Thanks to Jason's family for taking Evan - he had a fantastic day!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Staycation: part 3 - Kennywood

Our family decided to visit Kennywood park in Pittsburgh. It is an amusement park that was established in 1898. We asked our niece, Analise, to come along and help out so Darrell and I could also ride some rides together (as well as having an extra set of eyes - which was really helpful!) Above, our trusty wagon carries Ann-Marie, Alec and our lunch into the park.
Alec LOVED Kiddieland....there was a miniature ride of most of the popular rides in the park. Here he rode the Lil' Phantom Jr. These little rides made him brave enough to tackle the Jackrabbit roller coaster twice at the end of the day.

We weren't sure how long the kids would last and what rides each would tackle as it was our first family trip to a "real" amusement park. Well, Alec lasted the entire day without many meltdowns (except when we told him to stop to use the restroom!), Ann-Marie rode every ride she was allowed to (which, due to her height, wasn't as many as she would have liked), and Evan did every ride he was allowed to go on (with the exception of the Swingshot - which was we thought was a wise choice to wait another year).

Leaving the park at 9:00 p.m.......ten solid hours of riding!
So, the memories I don't want to excited Alec was about EVERYTHING! Ann-Marie fell in love with the Jackrabbit and was able to ride it three times. How soaked we got on the raging rapids (and yes, I got the most wet!). And finally, the change I see in eight years ago I had this firstborn baby who was an easy, adorable yet timid baby and now is this rambunctious, enthusiastic boy who goes on a roller coaster with his mom! I didn't think the day would come and now it seems like it comes too soon. He made me sit in the second to front seat on the Phantom's Revenge....the whole way I'm screaming my lungs out while he's yelling "Yeah, bring it on, I LOVE THIS!"

This summer has felt like we have transitioned as a family into the next stage.....not having to worry much about nap times and eating schedules and is a little sad to leave that stage behind, but for those of my friends still in it, you'll be here before you know it! Enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Evan's first Pirate's game

Evan has caught the "sports bug!" First, it was the Steelers, then the Penguins, and now the Pirates. He's very loyal to the local teams, even though the Pirates are not doing very well this season. Darrell decided to take him and his friend, Jason, to a game in Pittsburgh on Sunday. They had a GREAT time. Above, eating the cotton candy I am not supposed to tell his siblings about.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Staycation: Part Two - Point State Park

We decided to show the kids a new area of Pittsburgh yesterday - Point State Park. We had a picnic and sat by the fountain to cool off.
From the website " Pittsburgh" -

"Point State Park, at the tip of Pittsburgh's "Golden Triangle," commemorates and preserves the historic heritage of the area during the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763). Along with the history, Point State Park provides a beautiful 36.4 acre getaway in downtown Pittsburgh with paved riverfront promenades, beautiful views, a 150-foot tall fountain and a large grassy area.

What to Expect:

Point State Park is a National Historic Landmark, and tells the story of Pittsburgh's pivotal involvement in the French and Indian War. Twenty-three monuments, plaques and markers throughout the park commemorate events, people and places of historic importance. If you don't want a history lesson, Point State Park also offers a beautiful place to spend an afternoon, with a paved promenade circling the rivers, a huge fountain for cooling off and beautiful landscaped grounds for strolling.

Point State Park History:

The French-held Fort Duquesne gave them control of the Ohio Valley until a British army, lead by General John Forbes, arrived in 1758. The outnumbered French burned the fort and departed. Soon Fort Pitt was under construction on the same site - the most extensive fortification by the British in the American Colonies.

Fort Pitt had five sides with a bastion (projecting part) on each side. Three bastions from the original fortification have been recreated: the Music Bastion, which has been partially excavated and recreated to reveal part of the original fort's foundation; the Flag Bastion; and the Monongahela Bastion."

Staycation: Part One - Idlewilde

This week, we were supposed to meet some Maryland friends in Lancaster County, PA and visit DutchWonderland. Due to scheduling conflicts, this had to be we opted for the popular "staycation" instead. So this week, we are doing some local things that the kids want to do.....first up was our annual family trip to Idlewilde. We hadn't visited StoryBook forest for several years since all of the cousins on Darrell's side of the family are well into their teen years and this area is on the outer part of the park. Ann-Marie and Alec had a blast discovering this area.....Evan came along because he had to (he felt he had outgrown StoryBook forest).

The kids trying to pull the sword out of the stone.....the only attraction that Evan wanted to participate in!

We were able to visit the water area for about an hour, before it rained, then onto the rides. Alec rode his first Rollercoaster!

We had fun, and are looking forward to visiting Kennywood in Pittsburgh on Tuesday (if the weather holds!) The kids have never been to Kennywood, so it will be fun for them to discover a new amusement park.