Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 4th!

     Last year the Fourth was a bit of a let down because it rained all day, (I think it rained every day last summer) and we didn't really do anything.  This year made up for it though, as it was a very fun filled Independence Day. 
     The day before, we all tie dyed t-shirts in red and blue.  I forgot to wear gloves, and so my hands were very blue for the Fourth. In fact, they are still a little blue, and probably will be tomorrow for church. 
      We started the day off with a picnic in the mountains.  Everyone is huddled up because it is sooo cold.  (Every one looks very cute in their tie dyed shirts. Even I wore one, although I am not a tie dye wearing person, normally.)
Every time we go up to the parkway, I forget how cold it is, and every time I say, "Next time I will bring jackets." But of course I forget, and we freeze.  After we ate and were able to move around some, it was better.  Of course you have to have
watermelon when you're on a picnic, even if it makes you that much colder than you already are. 

Eating a wrap in the sunshine makes you feel better, though.
     The highlight of our picnic was getting to see a red squirrel for the first time.  It was so little, at first we though it was a baby grey squirrel, but after closer inspection I realized it was a red squirrel.  It has to be the cutest animal ever.  I did get a picture, but it didn't turn out well enough to bother posting here. 
     After the picnic, (and taking a nap) the kids had strawberry ice cream with blueberries as a special treat. 
      As it got close to dusk, we went down to the lake to watch the fireworks. 
The Fourth of July Story:  While we were waiting for it to get dark, we lounged on a quilt and ate hot dogs, while I read Alicia Dagliesh's The Fourth of July Story.  I always try to put the focus on why we celebrate different holidays, as oppose to making it all about the celebrations. 

When the kids got tired of sitting, they played silly made up games with each other and danced to the music.  Finally, the sky turned dark, and it was time for the fireworks to start. When the first few explosions began, frightened ducks skimmed across the lake like torpedoes.  Abriel freaked out, and made a bee line for her Daddy, while Samuel hunkered behind me, shaking violently.  He said he was scared the sparks were going to fall on him.  Poor little guy.  After I explained how there was no way the sparks would hit us, he calmed down. Then his ever inquisitive mind began questioning everything.  "Can the fireworks reach the moon? Can they hit the the stars? Does God see the fireworks? How do they go up and then explode out? What makes the sound?  Why are they different colors?"  And on, and on, and on.  His brain never turns off.
     In between answering his questions as best as I could, I got to watch the fireworks.  The best part about fireworks at the lake is that you get to see two displays.  One in the air, and another reflected in water.  Simply beautiful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Konos Notebooks

     The kids spent yesterday assembling their Konos notebooks from the Patience unit we finished at the end of April.  This was the first Konos unit we've done, and we all loved it.  The notebooks were started as an after thought, as in, "Since we're doing all this neat stuff, we really need something to remember it all. "  While the kids were putting together their notebooks, I was gratified to see how looking at the pictures and worksheets brought back memories of what they had learned.  Definitely not a wasted effort, and they are so proud of them.
     I have them in three prong folders rather than in three ring binders because I wanted to be more of a book, that they could carry around and show people.  I'll have a notebook folder for each unit we do.

     The pages are a combination of scrap booking style pages with pictures of the activities we did, and worksheets that were completed as part of our studies.  Abriel's notebook is showing some of the naked egg experiments we did.  We removed the shells of several eggs with vinegar, then saw how far they could be dropped before they broke, dehydrated one in corn syrup, and rehydrated some in dyed water, so that they turned into brightly colored egg balloons.
     Anna's notebook is showing off the chart they made showing the gestation periods of different animals.  Samuel's is showing him winding silk thread off of silk worm cocoons. Now that is a lesson in patience!  There are also pictures of our chickens when they were babies.  We helped incubate and hatch them as part of our Konos studies. 
     More pages, showing a recipe for bread rolls that the kids made, egg relay races and other egg related fun, and pictures of our tadpoles turning into froglets.
     Getting the notebooks assembled made me realize how much we did, and how many great memories the the kids have of hands on learning experiences and being with friends.  Among the things shown here we also, dissected a frog, made a co-operative garden, (that we are still working on) learned about the first passover, and then celebrated a Seder meal. So many good memories.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

     Someone had posted this chart on Facebook today, and I started looking through it.  Unfortunately, I tend to look at things like this as checklist, rather than something to help me.  "Are my kids doing this yet? How are they measuring up to what's expected of them?", are what's running through my head.  I'm looking through the 10-11 year old section and thinking about whether or not Anna can sweep out a garage.  I don't know, because we don't own a garage.  So I try to think what the equivalent to that is. "Does the porch count? Maybe if I include the side walks."  Then I stop and think about what I am doing.  The only questions I should be asking is, do my children help me in the ways that I need them to? The answer to that is, yes, for the most part.  Life isn't a check list, (although I do love check lists) and even though Anna doesn't mow the lawn, she's been watching her younger siblings since she was six.  And the twins don't dry and put away the dishes but they can put groceries away and wipe off the table.  Why? because that's what I need them to do.
     This evening Anna was bored and wanted to make cookies.  Baking makes a lot of mess, so I told her if she wanted to make cookies she would have to clean the play room first.  At first she grumbled at this, and I could hear her complaining as she cleaned about the seemingly endless work.  After a few minutes, I could hear her attitude shift.  She stopped complaining and I could hear her singing bits of songs.  In a few minutes she came out in a cheerful mood, saying the playroom was clean, and she was ready to make cookies now.
     I can understand her attitude shift, because I have felt it too many times while cleaning.  At first you hardly know where to start, and it's rather irking that even though you weren't responsible for the mess, you're the one cleaning it.  Then something happens.  You start to see a difference; order coming through the chaos.  The job doesn't seem so hard any more, and you start to find pleasure in it.   
   Anna ended up not only making cookies, but deciding she wanted to make supper for every one as well.
     Seeing her happy contentment and pride at being able to cook a whole meal by herself, confirmed for me that I had done the right thing by making her work before having the pleasure of making a treat.  She went from being bored and mopey, to cheerful and helpful the rest of the evening.  Even children like to know that they are a necessary part for the running of the house-hold.  Anna's supper was delicious too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Coop

     The chickens are finally out of the brooder and into the the coop! 
They were insanely happy to have room to run and fly, and sleep without getting stepped on.  The coop is almost finished; just lacking nest boxes, which will be attached to the outside of the coop.  Samuel loves the sliding pop door, and keeps on opening and closing it, which drives me a little crazy.  He reminds me so much of a raccoon sometimes, it's not even funny. 

     There is a window in the front and back for ventilation.  The door window has a panel that fits into it for when the weather is cold, and the back window can open and close.  I had to make a heavy duty screen for it, to keep the animals out.  You can see Samuel in the corner still opening and closing that pop door. (eye twitch) 
    Today's funny chicken quote comes from Abriel, as she was gazing lovingly at the chicks. "I would love to kiss a chicken, but they're too dirty. Sigh..."


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zoo Birds

     We have been a part of a Konos group for a few months now, and we are currently learning about birds. 
Yesterday, twelve kids, four moms, and one dad (Dave) packed up and went to the zoo to look at different types of birds. (and other animals, of course)    Despite the heat, and trying to keep track of all the little ones running around like crazy, it was a fun day. Crazy, but fun.

     There were quite a few different birds, but my favorite was the Roseate Spoonbill. Those things don't even look real.  They look like something you would see in a cartoon.
         This was Samuel and Abriel's favorite, "Because it has hair that goes, POOF!"
       The crane was Anna's favorite.

     There was a really cool bird show, where we got to see some amazing birds, perform tricks, fly on cue, and even talk.
     Of course, no trip to the zoo would be complete without seeing a couple of giant tortoises go at it. That was fun explaining. Haha


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

     Beautiful may days like this just need to be spent outside.  While I was working on getting our chicken coop finished, Anna thought the chicks could use a little fresh air too.

     I love watching the kids play with the chicks.  This is what I got them for.  Abriel has the chicken touch.  She's the only one who can pick them up without them making a fuss. 

   She is very calm and confident with them, with is good to see since she is shy and reserved around people.
     Here is the coop in progress.  I can't wait for it to be done, so that the chicks can have more space.  The twelve of them are getting cramped in their 3'x4' brooder.
    When I first started painting the coop, Samuel asked me if it was going to be all one color. I said, "Yes, except for the trim."  He said, "I was hoping you would paint a rainbow on the side." Then he seemed to think for a minute, and said, "Actually, I don't want it to have a rainbow. If we have a rooster, he might not like it."  I'm not exactly sure what his thought reasoning was behind that, but I do know that he is very interested in the welfare of any potential roosters we might have.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

Number Four!

     The twins, unbelievably, are now four years old. I can no longer call them my babies, although I do anyways. For their birthday party this year, I decided to have a teddy bear picnic theme. I put a little more work into it than I usually do for Birthday parties. Normally we are very low key, but they were so, so excited about their Birthday, that I kind of got into it too.
Of course, since their Birthday is in February, we had an inside picnic.
    For the food I made teddy bear shaped rolls, mushrooms made from deviled eggs and tomatoes, and chicken salad sandwiches.   I borrowed an idea off pinterest for little acorn treats made with kisses and Ritz bits. 

      To make inside seem woodsy, I moved in some stumps, and put some blankets down for the kids to have their picnic on.  And of course, since you can't go into the woods when the teddy bears are having their picnic without being in disguise, I made all the little ones teddy bear ears.  They looked pretty cute. 

     Samuel, my little ham, posing with his mouth wide open, like he was going to eat the whole cake after the candles had been blown out.  He'll do anything for a laugh or a funny picture.

A sea of littles enjoying birthday cake.  The twins are blessed with many cousins (and a nephew) close to their age.  I do not have any cousins near my age, so I think it is great that they get to experience this. 
     Here's to four years of having these delightful, silly little people in my life. 
 I love you, Samuel and Abriel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning!

     Christmas has come and gone, and we survived; woo hoo!  Samuel was up at 5:30!  It was hours before daylight.  The kids love their stable and dollhouse, which is my reward for all the time I put into it.  Here it is all set up on Christmas Eve, waiting for Christmas morning. 
     Every single thing in this picture is made by me.  The toys that is.  Obviously not everything.  The house looks a little sparse, but I didn't have time, or desire at this point, to make any more furniture.  I will make more stuff eventually.  Anna managed to decorated it nicely with what we had.

   I also made Abriel a stroller.  This was not entirely made by me, but was a joint effort with my brother-in-law.  We made two strollers; one for his little girl and one for mine.  He made the parts that I didn't have the tools for, and I made the parts that he didn't have the tools for.  It worked out pretty well. 

       I also made crayon holders like the ones here, for my little nieces and nephew.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Advent Wreath

     I never did get around to making an actual Advent wreath this year, but I did fashion a makeshift one, so that we could still celebrate Advent.  I used our Waldorf birthday ring as a base, with a simple greenery wreath around it.  It's very pretty, but I do like the symbolism of the different colored candles.  The beautiful red berries I got from a shopping center parking lot.  They had this long row of  Nandina, all dripping with red berries.  So I went ahead and picked some.  Not sure how ethical  this is, but they look really pretty in our wreath.  Is it wrong to pick flowers, berries, etc. from parking lots?

Housework and Children

     Parenting is hard.  There is nothing more constant or physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting.  Just when you think you might have this whole parenting thing figured out, you realize you really don't know anything.  And you can never, ever slack up. 
     Unfortunately, I slacked up a little bit, and I am now seeing the results of that.  I've been busy making toys for my shop for the past few months, and then I've been spending even more time down in my shop making Christmas presents.  I've been seeing signs of not enough Mommy time in my kids for some time now, but I've tried to ignore it, because there was just so much stuff I had to do.  Thankfully, I think I've returned to my senses, and realized my priorities were not where they needed to be.  Making things in order to earn some extra money is great, but it's not the top priority in my life.  In fact, it's kinda near the bottom.  Or it should be.  So I probably will be rethinking how my shop fits into my life in the new year. 
     Right now, I've been working on getting the kids to be more obedient about everything, and to contribute more to the household in terms of chores.  As usual, Samuel is the one I've been butting heads with.  He's not into this obedience thing.
     Anna has been resisting helping me with the housework.  She is now at an age where she can be a real help, but she has not been a willing helper.  I used a chore chart with her when she was younger, but it was reward based, and I felt that it was giving her the mentality that unless she got payed for it, she wasn't going to do it.  I stopped using it, and started stressing that everyone in the family needs to contribute to the household work, because we all live here.  She gets this, but it's not very motivating.  She liked the chore chart.  I think I had a breakthrough with her the other day, though.  I had been sick for a couple of days, and the first day I started to feel better, I look around the house and it's horrible.  It looked like something exploded, or maybe lots of things had exploded.  It was bad.   I was already feeling stressed about lack of time, and here was this giant mess that was going to take all day to clean up.  I really wanted to yell, but I didn't.  Instead, I reminded Anna about how she is always wishing that I had more time to do fun stuff with her.  I explained that one of the reasons I don't have time to do fun stuff, is that I spend all my extra time cleaning house.  Then I told her that if we both worked really hard, and got the house clean before 4:00, I would have time to set up a craft for her to do, before I had to make supper.  Well, she helped me clean, fast, and we managed to get the house clean by 4:00.  The twins helped too.  As a result, I made up some salt dough, and the kids made salt dough ornaments.  The next day, after the house was clean, they got to paint them.  This was hugely motivating for Anna, but unlike monetary rewards, it was a natural result of helping with the housework. 
     I decided to reinstate the chore chart, but only as a means to check off what you need to accomplish that day.  The twins especially need a visual reminder of what they need to do.  I saw this really nifty chore chart on Pinterest, and thought it fit what we needed perfectly.  You can get the tutorial here. 

     The kids each got to pick out what kind of paper they wanted.  They loved that!  For the twins, I tried to give them very clear cut jobs.  Nothing like, "Pick up your toys." Since I knew there would be questions like, "Do I have to pick up the ones that I didn't get out?" So they have to pick up one type of thing like all the stuffed animals, whether or not they got them out, or if it belongs to them.  Abriel loves following her chart and doing her chores.  Samuel not so much, but we're getting there.  So the chores are getting done with a lot less complaining, and that's good.  One step at a time.