Monday, April 30, 2012

Picnics and Turtles

         It's starting to feel like summer is finally here.  Time for picnics, outdoor rambles, and finding a shady little water hole to play in. I know it's not even May yet, but around here, May is basically a summer month.
      This is our last week of school, and I am SOOO ready for a little down time.  Anna's end of year test result came back better than I expected, (Not that I expected bad, but she did really well.)  and I feel like I can finally exhale. 

    I'm so grateful to live near open outdoor spaces that we can go to.  With beautiful weather like this, you just want to spend every moment of it outside. 
     Dave and I have been going to the park every day to exercise.  We take turns doing laps around the lake while the other one watches the kids at the playground.  Today, Anna had her bike, and the twins had their trikes, so I let them take a lap around the lake.  It's not a very big lake; only a little over half a mile around, but we were able to see some pretty neat stuff all the same. 
The Lake is populated by tons of red eared sliders, and today ( without my camera, of course) I saw a tiny little hatchling.  It was on top of some pond slime, so I just scooped it up before it could swim away.  It's shell wasn't any bigger than a silver dollar.  The kids were in ecstasies over getting to touch a baby turtle.  It's seemed so helpless, that I almost felt bad about letting it go, but of course that is what it was intended to do.  Although tiny, it knows how to take care of it's self without help from it's mother. 

I know one thing; tomorrow I am not forgetting my camera! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nearing the end

    We follow the traditional school year with our homeschool, except with no snow days, teacher work days, (Hey, that's every day!) etc,  we finish a bit earlier.  That means we are nearly done with school!!!!  I probably shouldn't be this excited, but irregardless of the love I have of teaching my daughter, I am. 
      It seems I am not the only one.  I found this written on the back of Anna's math worksheet today. "School has been fun, but a break would be more fun!"  Ah, yes. my sentiments exactly.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Columbus Chalkboard Drawing

      We have moved on from the War of the Roses to Columbus and the discovery of the Americas.  I did this drawing tonight, so it will be a surprise for Anna in the morning when we start reading Columbus by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire.  It's such a beautiful book, as are all of the D'Aulaire books.  Eventually I will own the all of them.  Unfortunately they are expensive and I can't find them used, so it is a slow accumulation. 
     This drawing was a little bit more challenging than the last.  Circles are hard to draw freehand; as you can see, mine aren't exactly perfect spheres.  My continents aren't exactly perfect either.  South America looks pretty good, but North America looks a little wonky.  The general idea is there though.  What's perfection, anyways?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

     This has been a long, fun, aggravating, and somewhat stressful week, even though it's not over yet, I can't wait until it is. 
      The fun part of this week was Easter (of course!)  I made a few things for the kids baskets this year.
Wooden magnates, since we are always in need of magnates to help display art work.

Wooden tops that were REALLY easy to make, yet work really well!  They spin forever.  All they are is a 1/4 inch dowel stuck into a craft wheel.  I had to drill the hole in the wheel a little bigger in order to fit the dowel, cut the dowel into 3 inch lengths, sharpen it in a pencil sharpener, and stick the dowel in the wheel, and that was it.  I probably could have sanded them, but they work good regardless.
     I also gave the kids some more hand dyed play silks, because you can never have too many.

Their Easter baskets; ready and waiting for morning.
All ready for church!

     After church, my family came over for Easter dinner.  My oldest brother and sister and their families could not be here, but even so it was a crowd.  I don't realize how small my house is til there are twenty people in it.  (Six of those being toddlers!)
     I had a treasure hunt for the older kids, with golden coins for the treasure. 
Chocolate coins, that is. I hid the clues inside real eggs that I had blown out, and poked a big enough hole to slip a rolled up piece of paper in. 
     The toddlers had an egg hunt, which a couple of them seemed to get the point of.  Abriel doesn't have the competitive edge necessary for egg hunts.
      It was great to see everyone, and to host a family event at my house, which although crazy, is a lot of fun. 
      Now the not so fun part.  On Easter I noticed our water pressure was... lacking.  Like barely a trickle coming out of the faucet.  This of course is while everyone is here, and needing to use the water.  Wonderful timing.  Here's the aggravating part.  We have a well, and everything (pump, etc.) seems to be working properly, but yet something is obviously NOT working.  We have had no water until today; when suddenly, for no apparent reason, it starts working again.  This is a mystery.  One that I have pondered today while washing mounds of dishes.
     Also going on this week:  I tested Anna.  Much more stressful for me than her.  I think my tongue is bleeding from all the times I've had to bite it to keep from saying, "Are you sure about that answer?"
      It turned really cold and even frosted some of my plants, which makes me very sad, sniff sniff. 
I have managed through all this, to make some placemats and napkins.  Stress makes me want to make things.
  When I am finished there will be five placemats and napkins.  Currently there are five napkins and two placemats.  I could really use more, but I had limited materials, since I repurposed a old set of curtains that I no longer needed to make them.
    For the appliqued strawberry, I copied a design I saw on a vintage table cloth.  I love strawberry designs, especially vintage ones.  This was my first time doing a ric rac trim.  Not super easy, but hopefully by the time I am finished with these, I'll know what I'm doing.  Maybe it's a good thing there are only five, since that makes them a "for family use only" set. 
     I also whipped up some beeswax skin salve tonight.  Anna's skin gets easily chapped, but it's so sensitive that most salves hurt her.  This is just beeswax and a combination of olive and grape seed oils.  It works really well at protecting her skin, and it doesn't have anything acidic in it to hurt her.  I use approx. one part beeswax to three parts oil to make this.  It can also be used as a wood rub for unfinished woods.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Personality and Artistic Differences

     An unexpected thunderstorm today made me think it was a good time for a little inside creativity, and to let the kids try out their new painting boards. 
     The boards are so smooth and pretty, it made painting time more special.  I made them from 1/4 inch plywood that was really smooth, but one side had green printing all over it, that could not be sanded out.  So I decided to stain them green using my homemade colored stain.  I just mix artist oil paint with butcher block oil, and I can get a rub on stain any color I want.
     I loved watching the twins paint today.  It really showed their personality differences.  Abriel very carefully painted in the blue, and then without mixing at all, she carefully added the red.  You can see her tongue stuck out in concentration.  She didn't talk at all while she was painting, but when she had filled in the last little bit of paper, she said, "I'm all done. It's very lovely." 

     Samuel's painting method is very different.  He slaps it all on, and the more mixing the better.  He also loves to chat while painting.  He said he was painting "A big, giant thunder rain cloud. " and it was "really loud!" While Abriel was carefully dabbing on her paint, he was painting, "as fast as a tornado!" with paint flying everywhere.  The paint must have been an inch thick by the time he was finished. 

     Anna painted her usual theme.  I really need to get her some watercolor paper, since painting on card stock just isn't the same.  When I made the painting boards, I also made Anna a paint pot holder.  I stained it turquoise- her favorite color.  I am going to make some for the twins as well, but I'm  out of scrap wood just now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Zoo Field Trip

     Here's  a few pictures from our latest field trip. This is the Greenville Zoo; not too long of a drive for us.  None of the kids had ever been to a zoo before, and Dave and I hadn't been in years and years, so we all had a great time.  Anna is the right age to fully enjoy seeing new and novel things, whereas the twins are still in the stage where everything is new, so seeing an elephant was about the same wow factor as seeing an airplane pass overhead. 
This leopard was very curious about the kids, and kept licking the glass when Anna would put her face against it.  Maybe he wanted to see how she tasted!

     The gibbons were hilarious, and put on a big show with much hooping and whooping.  It was really amazing. This did impress Samuel.  Days later he still comes up to me and says, "Monkeys say WHOOOP!"
     The giant tortoises were very cool.  Anna was highly impressed.
     For the zoo trip, Samuel had to wear his crocodile shirt.  For months now, he'll tell me he's going to go to work to feed crocodiles.  He'll go outside for a few minutes, then come inside and tell me, "Mommy, I did go to work." I'll ask what he did at work, and he'll say, "I feed the crocodidels." 
      When we were at the zoo, if anyone asked him what his favorite animal was, he pointed at his shirt, and this was before we even saw the alligators.  One of the last animals we saw before heading home were the alligators, but Samuel didn't seem that impressed.  I thought it was because they didn't move at all.  However, the next day Samuel tells me he's going to work at the store.  I ask him if he's going to feed crocodiles, and he says, " No, I no feed crocodidels anymore. Crocodidels want to eat ME!"  So I guess they made a bigger impression on him than I thought.