Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Little Update. . .

I really do seem to start off every post with, "Well, it's been a while. . . "  And it really has!  We've had so many adventures and great things going on that it's been hard to keep up with just the daily stuff of keeping everyone fed and clean.  We've had a great fall so far for so many reasons. . . 

On September 13th we celebrated Addy turning 5 by getting on an airplane (seriously, we left our house at 3am!!!) and flying to Gunnison, Colorado.  We had a great time with Mom & Dad and we loved spending time in the great Colorado outdoors.  We hiked, fished, boated, rode ATV's, and went for a lot of walks outside.  It was so beautiful and the colors were just starting to turn when we arrived.  By the time we left, most of the trees were yellow and red.  It was beautiful.  Addy loves spending her birthdays at Grandma and Ba's. 

 In early October we were able to spend a night with some friends in Shingle Springs and we even got to visit good ol' High Hill Ranch.  It has been about 20 years since I went there last and it was so cool to be there with our kids.  The picture is our kids (minus the youngest Vanderstoep) watching the caramel apples being dipped.  What fun!  We had a great time and our kids had so much fun playing in the country.  ;)  William still talks about feeding the goats apples and the milk he got to drink straight from the cow. 

Fall in the Bay Area is so different from what we're used to!  We've been playing outside constantly and enjoying the beautiful weather.  The kids ride bikes a lot and I'm thinking it's time for a bike rack.  Their bikes are just getting a bit big to stuff in the back of the van.  I'm getting a lot of exercise now when we go bike riding because I have to run to keep up with them!  (without a bike rack my bike with the trailer for William doesn't fit in the van)  They (the girls anyway) are really fast!  William, well, I have no doubt he'll get there.  For now he does a lot of just standing and looking around.  But at least he can reach the ground now.

Parks, parks and more parks!  We have so many great parks in our town and the kids love to play outside.  We've enjoyed picnics, playdates and walking to a few parks near our house.  Can you believe the view from the swings in the picture above?  We are so spoiled!  It is so beautiful here and we so enjoy being outside.  This time change is for the birds though because we are running out of daylight to play outside after naps (and there is no way I'm giving up my 3 hour nap time!!).

We've had another exciting thing happen this year and that is that Addy started Pre-Kindergarten.  We're still homeschooling but we joined Classical Conversations and so we 'go' somewhere for school on Monday mornings. 

CC is a Christian Classical homeschooling group that exists around the world.  It's classical in that it follows the trivium (3 roads) of learning (grammar, dialectic and rhetoric) and it's Christian in that we recognize that all knowledge comes from God and that the purpose of knowledge is to know God and make Him known.  The trivium is cool because we're experiencing the truth in the method already.  The grammar stage recognizes that when we're young we learn grammar (or vocabulary) at an amazing rate.  And mostly, as we learn words, we have a very limited understanding of what they mean.  The dialectic stage begins when kids start to actually have the ability and interest to understand the concepts behind the vocabulary and the rhetoric stage coincides with the developmental stage where logic and reason begin to develop and one can learn to persuade and teach the vocabulary and concepts learned. 

So, at Addy's stage of the game, we are memorizing like crazy.  The thing we love about CC is that everything is to song.  So we go through our days singing constantly.  She (and the rest of us!) are memorizing math facts, geography facts, science facts, history facts, Latin vocabulary, Bible verses, English grammar facts and a history of the world timeline song with ASL hand motions.  We're having so much fun memorizing the songs AND I love the exposure Addy is getting to various topics that we can read about or talk about.  She'll learn them more in depth in later years (the memory work repeats on a 3 year cycle so the next time we go through it she'll be more able to learn the concepts).  It's amazing to hear Addy (and Elsie) skip counting by 7's or whatever.  Granted, she has no understanding of it yet but when she can learn it, it will be helpful that she already has the facts memorized.

On CC day Addy does a presentation in front of her class (which has been such great training for her for talking in front of people!) and we do a science experiment and an art project.  Now she's learning a bit of music theory and learning to play a tin whistle.  There are about 20 other families and the moms are the class tutors and help through the whole program.  The kids in the program are 4-12 years old.  The 20 kids under 4 are in the nursery for the morning and moms rotate watching and playing with them. 

CC day is similar to a school setting in that there are classroom type expectations for the kids but really different because you'll have anywhere between 2-5 moms in a room of 8 kids.  (plus, there are usually a few little ones running around the room parroting the memory work as well!)

One of the funniest things about CC is how much Elsie and William have gotten into the memory work.  They ask to listen to it all the time and they consider it 'theirs.'  They, however, have no interest in knowing anything about the words they are memorizing.  Addy asks great questions about it and she loves to look at the pictures in the book for each of the events in the timeline. 

On top of our CC day and practicing our memory work, Addy and I are working through a math curriculum and she is practicing her writing and learning to read.  It's amazing and so fun to be able to do this with her. 

Elsie and William are 'doing school' too (And don't even try to tell William that he's not because he'll yell, "MY TURN!" at you.)  Elsie is learning her letters and numbers, reading lots of books with me and having a lot of fun with do-a-dot markers.  William plays with puzzles, pegs and about anything else I can give him so that he can sit in his chair and have 'his turn.'  He loves to read books and play with magnets on the easel. 

The kids also love our daily time of reading and talking about a Bible story, memorizing Scripture and doing an application project about the concept in the story.  It's so neat to be able to take the time to teach them the foundations of the faith and to be able to talk about their questions.  Homeschooling is amazing. . . and I'm starting to see how it totally takes over your family.  It really is hard to do much else during the day. . . hence the blog neglect.  :)

So, besides all that, the girls started sharing a bedroom (and it is going WAY better than we expected!) so that Brad has an office so he can work at home.  Brad has been traveling a lot for work since September, though, as he works to improve his operation.  That's been . . . well, tiring for all of us.  We're ready for him to be home for awhile. 

Addy continues to surprise us with her imagination and generosity.  She's on a drawing kick right now so she draws pictures to give to whomever we're going to see next.  She loves her school work and is a total Daddy's girl.  We're enjoying reading The American Girl books together after her reading lesson each afternoon while Elsie and William are still asleep.  They are a great set of books to read to bring life to her history memory work for CC since this year our history content is US History.  I think I love those books just as much now as I did when I read them as a kid.     

Elsie (3 1/2 years) is our little songbird.  She sings constantly and if she's not buckled into something, she's dancing around to her singing.  Often it's the History of the World timeline for CC (which is funny to hear a 3 year old singing about Egyptians, Assyrians and Aztecs) but other times it is the all time favorite song of our family, Do-Re-Mi.  That kid has constant music playing in her head.  No wonder I can't get her to do what I ask her to do!  She has to tune out the music to hear me!  :)  We're working on that. 

William is a little chatterbox.  He just turned 20 months old and his language exploded right around when he turned 18 months old.  He went from having about 20 words to repeating everything we say and using the words on his own.  He's also REALLY passionate about things and demonstrates that by screaming, jumping, and pumping his fists in the air.  And that's for good things!  When it's a fit, look out.  But usually we can get him to laugh about something to snap him out of his fits.  His favorite things are trucks, the timeline song and his family.  He loves wrestling with Brad, cuddling with me and hugging and kissing his sisters.  He's such a great addition to our family. . . talk about balancing the girl drama! 

Here are the monkeys at Halloween.  William refused to wear the truck I made him and just wanted to push it around. . . it was not quite sturdy enough for that.  So he was a truck driver sans truck.  Elsie was a ballerina while Addy was Ariel (on her wedding day, of course).  The other little one is our friends' daughter who was dressed up as Queen Esther.  They had fun trick-or-treating to 2 neighbor's houses and decorating and eating sugar cookies.  Life with kids is so full. 

A bit about me. . . I'm keeping busy homeschooling and feeding my family but I am enjoying studying the life of Moses in Bible Study Fellowship this year (as are the kids!) and doing my cycle classes at the gym when I can get there.  I love living in our new town and yet I miss our friends and our church in SLC.  I can't believe it has been a year already since we left.  What a strange year.  We have found a church here and it is filled with wonderful people who love God but friendships develop at a frozen snail's pace with little kids (especially when you're homeschooling!).  It still doesn't feel like home here yet. 

Brad has enjoyed fishing for salmon in the straight with a friend, biking and walking around town and meeting all sorts of people on his travels.  He's been to Des Moines, Columbus, Las Vegas, and Eureka just in the last 6 weeks (that does not include his regular driving all over CA) and he's off to Denver next.  Lots of adventures. . . His job is going really well and he's hired several new people to train over the next several months.  He's so good at hiring and training people.

So, that's a bit about the life of the Slease family lately.  I can't believe our kids are so big and how much our life has changed in this past year.  Whew!  Well, blessings to you!  I'm off to do Addy's reading lesson. . .  

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I just realized that my post title was 9 years and then I forgot to even mention why!  Brad and I have been married for 9 years.  Yeah!  Here's our only photo from our weekend away in Modesto to celebrate.  What a great man I have.

9 Years!

Happy (late) Fourth of July!  While we are missing the Highland Park happenings for the Fourth of July this year, we have enjoyed some new traditions in our new home.  The kids asked for fireworks in the driveway, pancake breakfast, carnival games and decorating their bikes for a parade and we were able to deliver some of those. . . sort of.  I'm not sure we'll ever live somewhere that celebrates the 4th as well as Dearborn St.

We celebrated Brad's birthday at the beginning of June and his request was to have a bunch of very California adventures.  We went to the beach (of course!) and everyone had a great time!

Brad's next request was to go the Aquarium by the Bay on Pier 39 and out to lunch.  So we did.  The aquarium was fun (except for the big 'grumpy' fish that Elsie was totally freaked out by - it was pretty ugly and bigger than her) and we got to see and touch all sorts of marine life.  I think we spent the most time by the otters, of course.  Those guys were so playful and the kids chased them around and around their enclosure.
William loved the tube you walked through to be surrounded by fish and sharks.  He kept pointing and saying oooohhhh!

Addy liked feeding the sea anemone some cut up raw fish.  She is so curious!

And who is going to go to Pier 39 without having clam chowder and a seafood feast!?  Happy Birthday Brad, what a great day!




William took his first major face plant in early July and his nose still has a pink scar on it.  Addy has really gotten into reading to her siblings and I love how she memorizes books after reading them just a couple of times.  William loves it too!


This is what our family room looks like after dinner.  Wrestle mania.  William has really changed our family.  If anyone lays on the ground he jumps on them to wrestle and then it doesn't take long for the girls to take it from there.

These kids do clean up occasionally.  I think they are pretty cute!

The girls did their first swim lessons and went from clinging to the ladder and refusing to get into the water to Addy floating on her back by herself and jumping off the diving board and Elsie, well, she still has a long way to go.  :)  She did go under and liked being in the water as long as she was hanging on my legs or being helped by her favorite teacher.  She did enjoy parts of it but man, she put up a fight!

William got his first haircut.  Funny story!  I finally got around to making haircut appointments for all the kids at a spa downtown to try to get them good haircuts at a reasonable price.  I told Brad and he flipped out that I would take William to a spa to get a haircut!  So we found a barber and William got his haircut by a tattoo covered barber in a red leather chair.  Perfect.  :)

We did our first family bike ride yesterday at the Benicia State Park.  We rode along the water front and had a great time together!  Addy is so driven she rode the whole thing and raced her Daddy most of the time.

Elsie joined her brother in the trailer after a little bit but they enjoyed being served wild blackberries by her sister that we found along the road. 


We enjoyed our picnic by the Straight and watching the trains, sailboats, tugboats and HUGE salmon being caught down below.

Watching the men catch salmon.  Seriously, these suckers were 20+ lbs.  Brad is already planning to get a fishing rig. 

Major accomplishment:  Addy is riding her bike without training wheels!  She has practiced twice and by the end of the first day she was doing it!  Of course, when we practiced today I forgot the camera.  We are so proud of her!

Here's the first day when she just started.  I can't believe how quick she picked it up.

 William's working on his running in his handsome hat.  At 17 months he is not one to be left behind.  William has a lot of words and a lot of energy.  He's keeping up with the girls by being opinionated and driven.  I wonder where he gets that from.

Yeah for summer!  We are loving Benicia and all this little town has to offer.

Brad and I were able to get away for a weekend (oh yeah, we went to a homeschool conference in Modesto!) and my parents stayed with the kids.  They had a great time, we enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot at the conference.  We've enrolled Addy in the preK program at Classical Conversations for the fall which is a Christian Classical homeschool co-op type thing.  We'll get together with other families once a week and then do our own stuff at home the rest of the week.  I'm really getting excited and I am trying to plan out the year ahead of time so I can juggle all three littles while actually doing real school with the girls.  We'll see. . .

Happy August!  I'll try to update a little more often (ha ha) so it isn't so long next time.


(ps.  If anyone knows why the formatting with Blogger is so annoying lately, let me know!  This is giving me fits!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

All settled. . . mostly.

Well, after 6 long months of several major transitions we are moved in and settled into our new house.  The details of the whole thing are exhausting to even think about but we have been so blessed and so taken care of by family, friends and by God who orchestrated this whole crazy life change for us. 

Here are a few totally random photos and updates. . .

Our family on Easter before church.

Our family celebrated 'Easter Passover' as our kids called it.  We celebrated Jesus as our perfect Passover Lamb and we did went through a Messianic Seder dinner with the kids.  It was really fun and we are looking forward to doing it again next year!  
This is William after he found an egg
on the egg hunt at our friend's house. 
This little dude has a lot of enthusiasm!


Elsie turned 3 at the end of April. . . actually, it was the second day in our new house and we had just gotten all the boxes and furniture and we managed to have a birthday dinner for her promising her that we'd have an Elsie day when Grandma and Ba showed up the following week.  She was gracious (and I don't think she cared one bit!) and we celebrated her big day surrounded by boxes and complete chaos!  Elsie is such a cutie!  She loves to dance and constantly asks, "will you turn our favorite songs on please?"  (which consist of anything from Aladin's Prince Ali to our friend Biff Gore singing A Change is Gonna Come on The Voice, to All the People Said Amen)  She really has a thing for music and can recognize songs from just a few opening notes.  She is also really starting to talk about Jesus a lot and how he 'died on the cross for MY sins!'  She's fully entered THE THREE's in terms of her testing boundaries in her sweet little dance off and ignore what you told her to do way.  Good grief.  Well, at least she's not screaming at me like someone else used to do at 3.  :)  We're working on showing her consistent boundaries and trying to train her how to be self controlled and keep her emotions under control.  (Yes, it's ok to be sad and mad but not to throw a fit.)  It's so interesting to go through this with the second child because I'm WAY less stressed about it than I was with Addy.  I know that this too will pass and I just need to work on one thing at a time. 

Our new house and town are great and we found a neighborhood park just around the corner (well, maybe it's more like 4 corners) and the girls love riding their bikes there!  It is turning into a staple for after naps.  There are even some milk cows that graze the hills behind the park and love to come to the fence when you call them!  So great!  William is loving getting to play on the playground like a big boy and that dude is fearless.  You really have to keep an eye on him.  Except with the cows. . . he's not so sure about those.

 So Mom & Dad did come for a visit (that was planned long before we found our house) and I am happy to say that they didn't have to help with the unpacking/moving in at all!  We were done unpacking in 3 days because we had the most amazing moving crew that unpacked every single box and put stuff where I wanted it.  So we really just spent a few days organizing and finishing up.  When Mom & Dad were here we played, had adventures (like a date night in the city!) and celebrated Elsie's birthday. 
Miss 3 year old on her birthday outing.  Yes, her sunglasses are upsidedown. 


 Our new town had a festival for The Opening of the Straight and the Yacht Club had kids games, crafts, music and all things boating for everyone to enjoy.  We had a great time and got to catch up with our friends the Muellers that live here too (and their parents who were in town visiting).  What a great place to live!

My monkeys.  :)  Oh, by the way, William is walking now and imitating sounds and words he hears.  It's so fun!  He has some serious opinions (shocker, I know!) and he lets his sisters know them.  He loves to wrestle and jumps on top of anyone lying on the floor.  He's such a fun little man.  Addy is turning into quite the little lady.  She can talk a blue streak and she has an amazing imagination!  She loves creating plot lines for Elsie and her to play out and she's still quite a little mother to William.  

The kids love playing music with my mom and this time William was a bit more of a participant!  He danced, played music and sang right along with the girls. 

So there you have it.  The formatting of this post is horrible but I don't have time to fix it.  :)  So, we're alive and well in our new home ready for some normalcy and regular life. . . whatever that means with 3 littles!  We are blessed.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

William is 1!!!

I can't believe William turned 1 on Sunday. Unfortunately he was sick on his birthday but luckily we celebrated a week early with my parents when they were in town.  He enjoyed all the attention, being sung to, opening presents and THE CAKE!  He had no problem digging right in and he needed a bath when he was all done.  I think his favorite present was the Tigger singing card Mom & Dad got him (go figure) and he wanted to hear it over and over again and he bounced all the way through it.  How fitting.  He might just be nicknamed Tigger before he gets too far into life with how much he bounces! 

He said his first word, 'ball,' on my birthday and followed it up with 'yum' and making elephant sounds.  He loves to bop to the beat of music and often tries to snap along or 'sing' along.  He is so full of energy and smiles.  As is fitting for the third child, I have no idea how much he weighs or how tall he is but I do have a Dr. appointment scheduled. . . finally!  All I know is that he's heavy and squirmy, eating like a champ and growing strong.  4 1/2 years into parenting and I'm finally ok with just knowing the big picture - that he's doing great - and I'm really letting the details go! 

Below you'll see him trying the sand at the beach.  He only did it once and he did not say 'yum' after.  :)   He loved digging around in the sand.  He used the same technique on his birthday cake. 

 My parents came to town for a week for a week when Brad was going to be traveling to Denver.   We had all sorts of fun with them hiking around the Sutro Baths with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and heading down memory lane in Danville where we lived when I was 2-6.  We even found my preschool and got a tour.  It looks the same as I remember it - 30 years later!  When Brad got home, we were able to have a birthday/Valentine's date at Ruth's Chris (Thanks Cowans!) and we had more fun at the beach and eating at our neighbor's middle eastern restaurant at Haight/Ashbury St. and celebrating Mom's, Dad's and my birthday with homemade cheesecake and then William's birthday.  It was a jam packed week of fun and it was so nice to have them around when Brad was gone.

 Our family was made for the beach!  We were joking that we've wasted the last 4 1/2 years of our life with kids pretending we were mountain people because everyone has such a great time at the beach.  We run, play Frisbee, build sand castles, and just roll around in the sand.  So much fun!  Our van looks horrible with sand in every crevice but it has been worth it!

Well, I did it. . . William's birthday post.  What a wonderful blessing that little bouncing baby boy is.  To think I cried for most of my pregnancy with him because I couldn't imagine adding another baby to our already chaotic family.  It just goes to show how good God is and how I need to purpose to trust His plan because it is good!  Now I can't imagine life without him.  He brings joy to my heart and softness to the sister competition that shows up around here.  Thank God for boys!

Off to do the dishes. . .