Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans

We decided to try to trap a leprechaun this year (Thanks to the Kunzes for giving us the idea in the first place; apparently our leprechaun knows a lot of the same tricks as yours!).
We studied Saint Patrick first, just to make sure we know what this day is all about, then we read a story we found online called The Leprechaun Trap. Vincent had the idea to make our own gold coins to use as bait since we're not rich and we don't just have gold coins lying around. We also used lucky charms and some shamrocks. Unfortunately, we didn't fool him, and Lenny the Leprechaun was not too happy about it.

Vincent was making a list of all the things we needed to gather for our trap.

We thought for sure we were going to get him.

I'm not sure what that leprecahaun was thinking, blowing "snot" all over the place.
He must not have realized that I would have to be the one to get it all off. Dummy.

He turned our lights green!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mrs. Scrooge

I've been quite a scrooge this year. Maybe it's because Dan is gone, maybe my crazy pregnant hormones are preventing me from appreciating the full joy of the season. Whatever it is, I am really trying not to let it impact the kids' Christmas. So I've been trying to keep up with the traditions we've developed over the last several years. I've found that once I start engaging in the various activities I cheer up and get excited about Christmas again, even if it doesn't last very long.

I thought I would share the favorite things we do during the Advent Season...partly because there's real housework to be done, and I'm having a hard time finding other ways to procrastinate.

1. Each night we read one of our Christmas books, which we've kept under the tree this year.
2. Then we turn out all the lights except the Christmas lights and sing Christmas carols. The boys' favorite this year is Jingle Bell Rock...even Silas knows most of the words. And Vince really gets into it, he pronounces the words like the singer on our CD: he diminishes his Rs, sings the long I sound as the short A sound. It's so funny to hear them sing it!
3. When we receive a Christmas card in the mail, we pray for the family who sent it, that they will be blessed, and that their coming year will be full of good memories and joy, and of course if we know of a specific need, we pray for that as well.
4. Each morning the boys move the candy cane on our countdown calendar.
5. We let the boys help pick out the birthday gift we're giving to Jesus, whether it's toys for other little kids in need, or gifts for friends/family, etc.
6. We bake Grandma Lutton's Christmas cookie recipe and (if the boys haven't contaminated the entire batch) we share them with friends.
7. Each morning they look for their Elf on the Shelf. I have forgotten to move it several times this season, so I told them he was really tired and fell asleep.
8. We haven't done it this year, but we usually have an advent wreath with candles that we light each Sunday and have a little Advent lesson.
9. Christmas morning I make the boys get dressed in their Christmas clothes (another thing I've skipped this year: Christmas outfits), then we all eat a big breakfast before opening gifts.
10. After gifts, we bake a birthday cake for Jesus and have a little birthday party for him, then we spend the day playing with our new gifts together.

I hope our boys will adopt a few of these traditions when they have families of their own, but even if they don't, I hope that even when I'm in a Scroogie mood, these traditions will help them to have sweet memories of Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Letter

For the first time in years, I have not been able to get a card and letter mailed out. It feels like my Christmas is incomplete without completing this one task, because I know how much I love receiving cards and photos from our loved ones. So in the absence of our typical letter and photos, I'm going to post a Christmas update, blog-style. Our church has recently been talking about the facades we tend to put up at Christmas time, and that got me thinking about our recent Christmas letters. Not that our letters in the past have been fake, but I think we all know that people tend to highlight the great parts of the year, our accomplishments, our joys, our successes, etc. Of course those things are important to celebrate, but I don't like the thought that I'm giving the impression that life is perfect and we never mess up. In fact, we mess up a lot. Especially me. In order to spare you the details (for your sake as much as mine), just know that I'm not an awesome mom or wife. I discipline wrong a lot of the time; I miss good opportunities for teachable moments, and my kids watch entirely too much Curious George in a single day, and I don't clean or cook nearly as well or often as I should. I won't share Dan's flaws (mostly because there are so few!) but they're there. So, there you have it; we are imperfect, but working on it.

Now for the yearly updates: Our kindergartener is a reader now. He is so much like me that I find it difficult to teach him much of the time. He's very headstrong, a perfectionist, wanting everything to come easily, so we both get frustrated a lot during school time. But...Vince has a really funny imagination; he wants to be an astronaut who takes pictures of outer space. He started piano lessons and gymnastics this year. He loves both; his piano teacher says he is a quick learner. Unfortunately she's moving this week (and taking Vincent's heart with her), so we are going to start at a new place.

Vincent in Destin, just a few weeks shy of his 5th birthday

Anthony is a different style of learner...I am thinking he's a kinestetic learner, but I haven't quite nailed it down yet. Whatever it is, he learns very differently from me, so he is also a challenge in a very different way. But he loves that one on one time with Momma and Daddy. Whenever we find that he's having prolonged behavior issues, we find the best solution is a date day with mommy or daddy. My friend Jackie is convinced he's a hopeless romantic and that he's going to get all the girls...I tend to agree...except he won't be getting any girls because he'll be locked up and only mommy will have the key! Haha! He also started gymnastics and really enjoys it. He was ready to promote to the 4 year old class a couple months early, but because we couldn't find an open class, his amazing coach was kind enough to give him more challenging instructions than the other kiddos.

Anthony after finishing a school project

Silas...oh, Silas. He is your typical number 3 child. I get tired just saying his name! He moves at the speed of light; he is fearless; he climbs like a monkey. As he approaches his second birthday, his rebellious streak is growing  more and more prominent. The little turkey has his defiant pose down to a science. He looks at us with this sideways look, hands on hips, chin to's so hard not to laugh...which he is not too slow to notice. He is fully aware that it's funny, and he counts on it. He is quite the little lover, especially when it comes to his little love, Josie. She's about 10 months younger than him, and he is constantly following her around, making sure she hasn't dropped her pacifier or her blankie or her dolly. Silas is enrolled in the Hot Tots gymnastics class for 18-24 month olds; the parents have to assist with this age, but he will be graduating to the 2 year old class in January after the Christmas break, and then he'll be on his own! He has mastered all the skills in the Hot Tots class and I just hope he'll keep his little attitude in check so he can do well in the big kid class!

Silas, climbing around in Destin

We took a lot of fun trips this year. We visited Atlanta a couple times: the Children's museum was a huge hit, as well as the Aquarium, (mommy's favorite Atlanta trip was when we went to Ikea). We visited the Children's museum of Bloomington with my nephew Aaron and my parents while we were home in March. Then we made a trip down to the Lutton Farm near Poplar Bluff, MO. We visited Destin, FL for Memorial Day weekend. On Vincent's birthday in June we went to the Wild Animal Safari and drove through in a "zebra van" getting up close and personal with all kinds of animals. In July, my mom came to visit and we drove up to Rock Ranch, where we rode a train, visited tiny town, held worms, petted animals, and lots of other fun stuff. During the summer we spent most of our days at the pool here in our apartment complex. Pool season lasts a lot longer down here, so the boys were able to spend a lot of time splashing around and they all love it. Also during the summer our orders for Ft. Benning were extended and we found out we will be here until July 2013. We still love it here in Columbus; we are so thankful for the church home we've found here. The church is called MyChurch, which makes for a funny conversation if we're inviting a new friend to visit..."Oh, you're looking for a church? You should come to MyChurch." ... "Oh? Where is it?...What's it called?..." "Who's on first?"

Dan is on a four month TDY (Temporary Duty) overseas. He will be home in plenty of time for baby Ripley number 4, who is due at the end of May. But for now, we're back to Skype and phone calls. The boys have been begging Dan to send pictures of camels.

This photo was taken in February. Springtime here in Georgia.

We've been fortunate to find some amazing babysitters here, so we've enjoyed almost weekly date nights. I have grown to share Dan's love of guns while we go shooting at a nearby range on one of our favorite date night activities. Dan enjoyed going hunting several times this year before he had to leave. He has been bow hunting and shotgun (rifle? I don't know which) hunting, but hasn't had any luck with the deer or the wild hogs out here. Although, I don't know what we'd do with a whole hog; none of the guys in this house likes ham! I've been enjoying learning more about photography this year. Dan bought me a DSLR last year for Christmas, and I've loved taking photos for friends. I'm pretty lousy at editing still, but I'm trying to take the advice I give Vince, "You have to practice and use a good attitude if you want to improve!" I've been involved in several women's Bible studies throughout the year and have met so many incredible women, who challenge and teach me so much!


I'm sorry I couldn't get this done in time to send out, but we all hope this Christmas brings you and your family joy, peace and love. May Christ's love bless you in the coming year.
The Ripley Family

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bat in the Cave - Blast from the Past


Vincent has been really interested in bats recently, so I decided to tell him our bat story from the early days of our marriage. The boys laughed so hard listening to the retelling of the story…then they laughed even harder at the video I showed them. They love their prankster daddy and already aspire to be just like him. Enjoy this old video. It’s crazy to see the Danvers house in its pre-renovated state. Dan did such a great job finishing it. Oh, those horrible green cabinets! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten and K4 preschool

We had a great first day of school yesterday. Since we started on a Tuesday it dragged out longer than it would normally have. Tuesdays we have gymnastics for the younger boys and piano for Vincent in the middle of the school day. Vincent loved his first piano lesson with my sweet friend Kate.

Both boys enjoyed school...even if they didn't want to do a picture to prove it. :)

It is such a privilege to be able to teach them at home. I have been really nervous about being the one to provide their education, but now that I am closer to the material, I am realizing that we're just learning together. The program we chose is literature-based, so we are just reading and discussing a lot of really fun stuff! It is so fun to see Vincent get really interested in what we're learning. In Science, we're talking about the earth, and we used a flashlight and a globe (thanks, Nana!!!) to show how it spins and why it's day on one side of the earth and night on the other side. He just couldn't get enough of it! And that was before we even got to the material in the book! He loved looking at the diagrams of the earth's core and photos of a sunrise and a sunset. I could just go on  and on. I am so excited to see him excited!

Vincent is reading really well, so he is using First Grade Language Arts material, which means SPELLING WORDS!!! Those of you who know even a little about my dorkiness can guess how fun this is for me.

Today's Laguage Arts lesson was supposed to incorporate story-telling (him making up a story) and before we could even get to it, he wanted to write a story about astronauts because of what we were reading during Science! So instead of moving on to the spelling words right away, we changed our course and wrote a story. He dictated and I transcribed. He is working on the cover of the "book" right now and we will put it all together when he's done. This is why we are homeschooling. I love that we could just adjust our course and move on to what he's excited about. We will circle around and cover they other stuff later today, but for now, we are loving the book we have put together and he feels so proud of what he created.

Anthony is in Pre-K this year, and he listens in on all our stories and works on things that develop his skills for his developmental level. He's my hands-on guy, so we get lots of fun stuff to play with for him!