Thursday, December 30, 2010

me time

Tonight Cameron is at her first real at-a-friend's-house-sleep-over! Of course, it's a double sleep-over with Jason, his best friend Jacob and Jacob's little sister Taylor. Look at her, she's so excited!
It was an easy trial run since their friends just live across the street.
Everyone's excited for the big night. Well, almost everyone...
She soon cheered up when she realized that she would have mom and dad all to herself this evening. We spent some good quality time playing babies tonight.

After Hayden went to bed I spent over an hour blitzing through the kitchen, school area and Jason's room. We are decluttered! For now. And now I can catch up on what went on in the Rusco house during December.

The big kids got to see two live shows this month. Nanny and Pops took them to see a production of Peter Pan and I took them to see The Nutcracker. I love it that they can have these opportunities.

Wait, I better back up. We got our tree Thanksgiving weekend. I know it's crazy since we always buy a live tree and it's anything but live once we get to Christmas, but we JUST CAN'T WAIT! Our addition to our Christmas village this year was a log cabin with a fireplace and family reading inside. It's such a fun tradition to go to Kohl's every year and pick out a new piece.
As you all know, a very sweet baby was born in the month of December and we had quite the party! Happy Birthday Hayden!
No time to smile, eating birthday cake is very serious business! Earlier in the day she had found big sis's Dora nightgown, so she just HAD to wear it to the party. She got a new Dora backpack, watch and doll, so it was a very Dora birthday. ¡Feliz cumpleanos Hayden!
We spent the next night in our car as the rain came down on the San Miguel Electric Light parade. I don't quite know how to put into words the (thrilling? magical? spectacular?) experience of the parade. Just in case you ever want to come up and see it, you'll be impressed to know that the parade route loops around so that you can see it twice! We pulled up at about 5 to six and were home by 6:30. So, yeah. Ahem. Here are the pics:

And there you have it. Obviously, the parade was a smashing success.

I'm gonna call it a night right here. Hopefully, I'll have you caught up on Christmas before the year's end. Good night!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh my, this is embarrassing! It's been so long since I've visited blogger that I nearly forgot how to log in. I won't give you any excuses, I'm sure you can imagine the things that keep me away from blogging. First of all, this kid continued to be cute:

This kid turned 5:
And she got a new scooter:

And then this guy showed up. Twice.
He brought his family along.
And then a little of this happened:
And then there was this:
Then this little one discovered how to climb up on the dining table to get to her big sister's stuff. Mom snapped a pic then removed little sis before big sis blew a gasket.

And finally, this boy who grew into a giant, read through the entire 5 books of the Percy Jackson series. Here he is reading in the special reading fort with the girls.
Of course, then there was Christmas, but I'm going to be ambitious and promise you another blog post before the year's end.

Does anybody have an explanation for why blogger started underlining all my text?

Friday, September 10, 2010

first week of school

We survived it. Barely. Everything was going well until the stomach flu hit our house in a big way.

Let's start with Monday, no wait, how about the weekend...

Before starting school we had to say good bye to summer. The proper way to do that is with an afternoon at the beach and a delicious dinner of fire-roasted hot dogs. Unfortunately for us, many other people had that same idea. We were pit-less so I did what any self-respecting mom would do when her babies start complaining of hunger. I stabbed the dogs and walked over to the nearest pit, inhabited by Cal Poly girls. I'm only 10 years out so I didn't think it would be THAT weird, but yeah, it was awkward. "Hey guys, can I borrow your fire?" Weird looks. "Uh, yeah, sure." Then for the next five minutes I prayed those dogs would roast at lightening speed. Mission accomplished, kids feed, evening saved.

Monday morning we started off with a delicious breakfast casserole and fruit. The beauty of home schooling is that I don't have to be out the door at 7:30am fully dressed and looking effortless as I scoot my children into their classrooms. I don't have to throw on a hat and pretend that I actually PLANNED to wear a hat rather than shower that morning. Jason can sleep. The boy NEEDS his sleep. Cameron can wear her weird outfits. And we can start school at the beautiful hour of 9 o'clock...
Don't these kids look happy? An hour and a half earlier they didn't look this happy. And none of us had to sit in school traffic. Beautiful!

And so, we were off to a smooth start. Cameron sailed through her kindergarten lessons: Bible, math, reading, handwriting. She joins Jason for some history, science art and music. Jason and I discussed the plan for this year before this morning arrived. He understands that I will have to spend more time with Cams so he needs to be able to read his schedule and do the assignments that he can do on his own until I am available to help him. So far, so good. The boy is a first-born, box-checker, just like his mom, so this works.
Little Miss Hayden had some special time playing with dad while the kids and I did school. She stayed out of trouble... today.

On Tuesday school went well once again. We will be doing art lessons on Tuesdays so we started off the program by looking at art that is realistic versus artwork that takes creative twists. The kids then painted fish but added unrealistic features and colors. I'll be using ideas from Art Projects for Kids and Deep Space Sparkle.
I took Jason to AWANA Tuesday night (which he LOVES) and then something awful began in our home. I had a restless night of sleep. I was awakened with nausea and at 7am Wednesday morning the horror began. I won't go into details here. My brother is better at "getting-sick-and-living-to-blog-about-it", so you can check out his blog for nasty disease details. But let me just say, that without my parents we would not have survived!

The kids and Darren got through school Wednesday morning but by the afternoon he was down too. My parents came and picked up the kids (even packing their bags and taking them overnight). I'm not sure what happened next because we spent the next 24-36 hours in a sick-induced haze. If you're one of those people who likes to see the good in every situation then you can rejoice with me for losing 2.5 lbs. in one day! (Darren lost 5... that guy has to beat me at everything!).

On Thursday afternoon the kids returned home and we did our schoolwork for the day. They like Thursdays because we do music appreciation. They become very animated conductors and dancers when we have our classical music CD playing. I'll have to figure out how to post video of that!

Friday was a breeze. After surviving week one, I'm sure we're bound to have a very successful year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

while others went back to school...

we went back to Legoland! This week we packed up the family and headed down south to the kids' favorite destination. The excitement in the car was a electric as we set off and soon fizzled as the kids came to understand that they'd be in the backseat for 6 hours! They were content to watch Looney Tunes for most of the drive so we only had the occasional moan of desperation/exhaustion from the backseat.

When we arrived at our hotel Cameron declared, "this is better than our house!" That kind of sentiment always warms a mom's heart :/
After a dip in the pool and dinner we settled in for the night. It was a restless, sleepless night. The folks on the floor above us were running laps around their room until after midnight and Hayden was in and out of sleep all night. Darren and I loaded up on coffee and positive thinking the next morning so that our sour moods wouldn't ruin the day.

It doesn't take long after you step on to the grounds of an amusement park for your mood to lift.

As the day wore on we explored every nook and cranny of the park and the kids bravely stepped on to every ride (except the elusive Technic roller coaster, Jason has declared that one to be too big and too fast). Cameron went on her first roller coaster and also earned her Lego driver's license. She is very proud of herself and will tell you all about it if you ask!

After about 4 hours we stepped into the new Legoland waterpark and spent some much needed time relaxing as we floated down the lazy river. At this point I didn't trust myself to take pictures and look after a water-loving, diving toddler at the same time so there are no pictures of this portion. Just know, that the waterpark was fabulously refreshing.

The park had a deal to add on a second day for only $10 per person, so we took them up on the offer and returned for a second day of fun. Our second night in the hotel was much better than the first, everyone was able to sleep well after a long day at the park. The drive home was ok, it will be much easier to travel once Hayden can communicate with words rather than grunts and screams. But in the meantime her cute face will ease the frustration of not understanding her needs.
Stay tuned as next week we start school. Jason will be a third grader, Cameron officially starts Kindergarten and Hayden begins her reign of terror as we try to school with a toddler tearing up the house. Any creative suggestions for corralling the little one would be much appreciated!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

once upon a time...

I was a blogger. I enjoyed spilling silly stories and cute pictures to family, friends and the general public through this blog. But as time went on, several things happened. We started homeschooling...
(Box Day, 2010. Cameron's kindergarten books and Jason's 3rd grade books arrive and the kids have a blast looking through them all.)

And we had a third child who quickly grew from infant to toddler.
(Hayden in her swimsuit, ready to try out the slip n slide.)

I know that it has been 2 years now since we started homeschooling and Hayden will be 2 in December, so it is silly to use these excuses now. But the fact of the matter is that I just don't get around to blogging much anymore because the house is in a general state of chaos from sun up to sun down. And to be honest, we're having too much fun around here to document it all on the blog!

So just because I have a quiet moment I'll give a few updates:

Jason is 8 years old and still a Lego maniac. He is busy on a daily basis creating new vehicles and dreaming up inventions. He has a blast playing with his buddy across the street, Jacob, and the 2 of them have had many sleepovers this summer. He is quite skilled at playing air guitar and drums in the backseat of the car and can be heard singing in his room when he thinks no one's listening. (Shhhhh!)

Cameron is 4 years old and very expressive. That's my simple way of saying she is dramatic, stubborn, difficult, silly, loud, funny and a constant roller coaster. The other day she was having a difficult time obeying instructions and she looked at me and exclaimed, "Mom, I'm just frazzled!" Yeah, me too Cam. She also informed me the other day, "I think I'm interested in Hannah Montana." Heaven help us, I think that's the last thing we need. I politely informed her that I would look into that to see if it was appropriate for her. She seemed to think that was acceptable. Cam loves to play with her little sister, especially wrestle her and she loves to play with her big brother, especially, you guessed it... wrestling! Cameron is imaginative and I can often find her hidden away in her room creating zoos or schools or princess boot camps.

And of course, Hayden. Hayden has swiftly moved into the role of Household Destroyer. She works like a little ninja, deftly undoing everything I do throughout the day. Need your clean laundry unfolded and strewn about the living room? Hayden's your girl! Need every toy in big sis's room removed and brought out to the living room? Hayden's on it! At the end of the day though, she is the best snuggler, giggler and tickler we have and we all love her!

Monday, June 7, 2010

school's out--now what?

I don't know why home school moms are so anxious for the school year to be over. Honestly, I love having things to get accomplished during the day. That's mainly my personality type showing through, I like to cross things off my list! We finished school before Memorial Day weekend and to be honest, the first week was disasterous! There was a lot of clawing, screaming and tantrums because we had no plan of attack for the day. So this morning, I was ready!
First things first: feed everyone. The kids are much happier on a full stomach. Hayden especially loves a scrambled egg and toast. After breakfast, I read the girls a story, Owl Moon, and then we moved into craft time. While Cameron glued feathers onto a crude owl shape that I had cut out, Hayden spent time "drawing".

It turns out that Jason is selective now about stories and crafts. If he declares them to be "babyish" then he will settle in for a little computer time. However, some activities peak his interest so I won't get discouraged that he is growing up. Here he is, trying to ignore his crafty sister.
So there it is, my strategy for surviving summer: divide and conquer!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

family camp

Wow! I missed the whole month of May. Sorry about that, I guess the blog has been on the backburner for a while. Here's an update on what we've been up to this month:

We took a field trip to the SLO Children's Museum with our home school buddies. The kids enjoyed playing in all the areas including the cafe, fire station, stage, and water table. Actually, Hayden LOVED the water table. She loved it so much that I had to take off her shirt and set it in the sun to dry for a few minutes!

Also in May, Jason completed his AWANA Sparks program. He finished all three of his books and earned the Sparky plaque. What a great night of fun and ice cream for our guy. Next year he is looking forward to being in TNT and memorizing more scripture (and playing more games of course!).

Darren is proud of his Sparky plaque too. the guys hung up their plaques side by side in Jason's room.

The highlight of May was our trip to Hartland for family camp. We had a blast! The mountains are beautiful right now, they still burst with the signs of spring. The evenings were chilly and the days were just warm enough to take off your sweatshirt. We all enjoyed the delicious food, the clean mountain air and all the activities at camp. The kids tried archery, rock wall climbing, peddle boats and canoes, the zipline, fishing, crafting, ping pong and foosball. I think we may have the next Robin Hood living in our house! If you ask Cameron, she'll tell you that her favorite part of camp was the cabin with BUNK BEDS! And yes, she slept on a top bunk.
Hayden watches intensely as her dad takes on a challenger in shuffleboard.
Jason conquered his fears and spent all afternoon on the zipline.
Darren bravely takes the kids out on a canoeing excursion. Hayden and I stayed on shore to run for towels if necessary.
Cameron is an excellent fisherwoman. Her favorite part is casting a line so even if a fish wanted to jump on, I don't think she'd give them a chance!

The kids had a great time with their friends from home and they made new friends too. Here they are with their buddies, Alex and Andree.