Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Am Blessed

It is in my nature to complain and look at what is difficult and what I do not have. I have to make a conscience effort to look at the bright side of things. I like to sleep in the mornings and LOVE my bed with the perfect feather pillows and the last hour of blissful sleep. When I am disciplined enough to get up and get a move on the day I am rewarded with this: God does amazing handiwork and there is nothing like a sunrise to brighten your crisp fall morning. I confess I did not take this photo. Sean took it while I was still cozy and warm in bed. But, when I do get up I love the calm, quiet, before the storm.
This may not look like much but I tell you it is like gold. I was feeling Yucky this week and Syndi sent over this inconspicuous jar of THE BEST TEA IN THE WORLD. Jess introduced us to the drink called London Fog (Savannah refers to it as Lynden Fog) made of Creme de la Earle Grey Tea, vanilla syrup, water and Cream. It is Delicious and I am addicted! I even opted for this the other morning instead of Coffee (gasp!). Unfortunately the tea itself is worth it's weight in gold! That is why I am carefully coveting and hoarding these precious tea bags! Thank you so much for bringing some royalty into my day in a week that feels like I am a commoner.
I was focusing on the fact that Sean is gone many long hours for work every day and he is often not home until late because of other activities. I decided that was the wrong attitude and was not honoring to God. When I put it in perspective I am thankful that my husband has a good job, he is able and willing to take Aaron to cub scouts, and it is his hearts desire to study the Word of God with other Godly men, in addition to fulfilling some of his desires and making himself a better man. Isn't that a better way of looking at it?
I was grumbling that I had to tuck the children in after a long day (with a headache to boot!)Then I realized that I was grateful that my children still want me to tuck them in and anticipate the time we have together to discuss the day and pray together. They are not tired of listening to me or being with me. I have so much to be thankful for.
Jess, her children and her good friend Jamie came over for lunch today. I love having friends over to share a meal and especially enjoy the relaxed and comfortable way we can visit, encourage each other and laugh when we are together. Even in the midst of parenting 10 children at home, 4 under the age of 3.
I often wish that Taylor had another girl her age that lived closer so they could play together. Then I realize how much I like having Taylor around and how willingly and joyfully she helps me. I know that would be lost if we had negative influence around or if she was always gone with someone else. I am happy we have the time we do and I need to continue to trust God that His ways are the best and that He has a plan.
It is such a bummer when you are licking the spoon and it pokes you in the eye!
Jess walked in the kitchen to find Justice happily helping himself to the sour cream spoon that was left on the counter with Honor pleading for a lick as well. She immediately went to clean it up when I said, "wait! I need a picture." To which she replied,"Oh Yeah, you need to blog it right?"
I guess we all know what is blog-worthy.

Look at this beautiful young woman who tremendously blessed my family by giving my handsome young men great hair cuts! Erik cried that he did not want to get his hair cut and that only Papa could cut his hair right (we all know I am not qualified). He complained that even the barber does a bad job. After a conversation with me he decided it was in his best interest to let Jamie cut his hair, and when she was done he said that he liked it! That is high praise and a compliment to be cherished coming from Erik.
Ian just keeps asking when Ms Jamie can come back! He really likes having her around. Really who wouldn't? She has such a great smile and sees what needs to be done and does it! She is a wonderful role model for my girls and talented too! I have to say Thank you to Jess for sharing her with us!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bloggy Carnival Giveaway

This is my first giveaway! I have been wanting to have a giveaway for quite some time.
My daughter and I made these cute pumpkins at our Keepers At Home Meeting. We have a regular pumpkin patch from all the pumpkins she has made since then.
To be entered in this giveaway simply leave me a comment about how long you have been a reader, if you have ever commented before, and what you like best about my blog. I will randomly choose a winner on November 1 and then you will receive your prize! There are many more blogs that are participating in the carnival giveaway. Simply click on the widget below and Have Fun and Happy Harvest!

Fall Giveaway

What I Am Listening To Today

We have had a fairly unstructured day today due to the fact that Ruby and I are not feeling up to the weather. Ruby with her baby in her tummy
Listening to my children play:
Ruby,"I am a Patriot"
Aaron, "You are not a Patriot, I am a Patriot, I am Thomas Paine"
Ruby,"I am Sacajawea"
Ian, "I am your husband, I am Charbonneau."
Ruby, "OK, Then Libby is our baby, she is Pomp."
Erik, "You guys can't be Patriots, you helped Lewis and Clark. You were at the wrong time. I am a Patriot I am Sam Adams."
Currently Taylor is laying Ruby down for a nap and reading her a story. Ian wanted to listen to the story so Taylor promised to read it to him after she read it to Ruby. Ian, not wanting to miss out on a story turned on the baby monitor and declared, "I get to hear the story twice!"
He is listening and will listen again when Taylor comes out. Smart Child, I mean children.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Orchard

We love to go to the apple orchard every year. This year looked like it was not going to happen. We have been so busy and the weather simply would not cooperate! We finished all of our school for the day and Libby had a great nap, I had already laid Ruby down for her nap when we decided it was a perfect afternoon for the apple farm! I talked Syndi out of doing her afternoon school (I didn't have to work too hard at it), and I woke Ruby up from her nap. We have been the past few years and last year we paid for a great tour but decided we could do the self guided tour this year. They are currently packing Honey Crisp Apples, my ABSOLUTE favorite! Don't they look delicious? I have a few to myself that I am hoarding.
We began by tasting 8 of the 16 varieties they grow on the farm. Amazingly, the children's favorite apple was the Jonagold. Even Liberty had a taste and seemed to really enjoy them. They also make a delicious chocolate peanut butter stick, we reserved that just for the moms.

We toured the sorting, packing, cider making, dehydrated apples, apple pie making and finally the orchard!

Ben is such a good friend to all of my children. Ian was trying to trick us that he was Ben and Ben was Ian, because they traded hats. I don't know you have to look pretty close to tell who is who? Ian with the blond hair and green eyes, and Ben with dark hair and dark eyes.

The best part of the whole thing is taking the golf carts out into the orchard! We drove around and around and around and found this handsome fellow out for a tour as well. This is the only kind of man I want putting his arm around Taylor until she is married.

Best sisters, best friends
Ruby was thrilled that they provided blankets to snuggle in during the tour. Erik sat up front by me and I let him work the 'gas' pedal. He was so excited and had it floored the whole time. We went through an area of the orchard that Aaron nicknamed 'Mole Road'. Erik was whooping and hollering for me to decimate every mole hole that was there. I think we almost succeeded! I had a blast just having fun with the children. The orchard (because of liability) does not want children to drive the carts. I did however, let Aaron and Taylor take turns steering and working the pedals. I was behind the wheel and they were reaching across me!

At one point Aaron was trying to get us to go faster than Syndi's cart and was pushing us along Fred Flinstone style. One of my other boys thought that was a grand idea and decided to try as well. He fell out of the cart! Good thing the carts don't go too fast and the ground is soft!
It was the perfect way to spend a perfect fall afternoon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beach, Beach & More Beach

Just so you know I am not complaining. However, I do not like to be cold. It is getting cold. It is getting very cold. I am thankful it is not raining~yet. I do love the Pacific Northwest but the long grey days get, well they get, LONG. We did a little experiment at Syndi's on light refraction, then made weighted balloons to try out our hypotheses on light refraction. Making the weighted balls was very fun for the boys, they used PVC pipe and poured a lot of rocks into the balloons, which caused the balloons to be full of holes. We finally settled on marbles and Ben wore his dad's waders so he could retrieve the marbles. Aaron also wore his dad's boots, unbeknownst to me.
Aaron and Ben were totally into the experiment and loved throwing Ben's knife at the balloon. We could not figure out why some of the balloons filled with fresh water and marbles floated??

Erik hoarded his balloon and carried it with him the entire time, until it sprung a leak!

The children had to go see what they could find! They act like they have never been here before and it is all new and exciting! Which it is.
They found the biggest moon jelly yet. We learned that it is a male moon jelly. You can tell because the gonads are orange ~ Who knew? I love watching them pulse and move along it is really graceful.

Next week is project week and we will choose one thing to learn a bit more about. I love nature study. I don't like writing. It is painful for me. We are still working on it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Second Annual Historical Harvest Party

Saturday night brought us to our Second Annual Harvest Party. This year was a huge success. Last year was a super fun group but more is always merrier! We had 28 children! Theodore Roosevelt was brought to you by Ben. He had the most elaborate costume, complete with a 'real' mustache (made with real hair).

The children all studied about a specific historical figure. Some made displays, others made props, and others planned the perfect costume.
We do not like to celebrate Halloween (more on that in the future) so this is the Perfect alternative, we still get to dress up, eat delicious food, be with friends and even practice our public speaking.

Everett was Noah with Isobelle (in the back) as Annie Oakley. Noah even brought a proportional ark and Noah for visual effect. I never knew the ark was so well constructed using Popsicle sticks cardboard and glue!

Abraham Lincoln aka Erik dawned his top hat complete with important documents inside, and a log cabin depicting the home he was born in in Kentucky. Again, did you know the log cabin was made of glue and Popsicle sticks?

In light of all of our studies about marine biology (and we already had the costume) Aaron informed us of the life of Jacques Ives Cousteau. Cousteau was a colorful man but made SCUBA what it is today. I was surprised at how reluctant Aaron was to get up and speak. Fortunately I had already prepared the children that they might be a bit nervous, especially with the amount of people, but that this was part of our education and talking in front of people is an important skill. He was one of the last to give his presentation and I was very proud of him for being brave and going outside of his comfort zone.

Liberty went as Pomp, Sacajawea's baby. and Ruby was Sacajawea. However we did not let Ruby carry Liberty on her back the way Sacajawea did.
Ruby surprised me that she really did want to get up and talk. She wanted to be Sacajawea and expressed specific instructions to that effect. I only had her practice a little bit and did not do much research. What she had to say she said clearly and knew what she was talking about.
I had originally talked about being Jane Goodall because we had a monkey costume that one of the children could wear. I changed my mind and decided to go as Rosie the Riveter because it was the easiest costume. When Sean got home I asked him if he was going to dress up and who he was going to go as. Ian piped up, "I know! Papa can go as Mama's Monkey!"
It made me laugh.

We were so happy to have Mikaela there! She enjoyed seeing the stuff that the children were working on and hearing their presentations! I cherish the time that we do get to see her, the time passed much too quickly... in so many ways.

Jubilee as Queen Elizabeth, Ruby as Sacajawea, Savannah as Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Taylor as Molly Pitcher.
I am so proud of Taylor for being such a great example to the younger girls and that the girls from all different ages can play together so nicely and enjoy each other.
The girls were right there at the end helping to clean up and put things away while the boys cleared the chairs and RAN the vacuum!
It was such a wonderful evening that would not have been complete without all the families that were there. Jess' family, Bakers Dozen, Simply Made, Syndiluhu, and Making a Home were all there.
Once again I can't express how perfectly God has answered all my prayers with such a great group of friends and fellow homeschoolers, and encouragers. I do not think my journey to become a better wife, mother, follower of Christ and friend would be complete without every one of them. I thank you all for your role in my life and the life of my family.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blond Moment

I have been wanting to color my hair for awhile and finally took the plunge. I normally do a box and leave some strands out so I don't have the all over even color.
At the store yesterday I bought a box labeled Pecan. It looked like a nice nut color with some highlights. Perfect! Not so much. Sean even pulled my hair through the cap (really quite funny). I put the 'color' on and waited for 25 minutes, my head was a bit warm and it smelled more than normal but it was a different product, so it really should be OK.
I called Tami and told her I was blond.
She replied, "That's alright we all do it and what can we do to fix it?"
I said, "No, I really am blond!"
She called her friend and professional hairdresser Steph. Steph said I would be OK to color over it if my hair bounced back when it was wet. My hair did not bounce back but kept right on stretching, OOPS.
I guess I am blond~for now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I found it!

I found the clean spot in my house, currently it is my kitchen windowsill. I confess, I cleaned it today so that at least I could feel good about a clean window, sill, and tracks.
I LOVE a clean house. The laundry doesn't really bother me, but I like things put away. I like the floors vacuumed, and bathrooms clean!
We live in a small house (1290 square feet) with 6 children at home, 2 cats, 2 adults, 4 hermit crabs, 2 frogs, and a multitude of guppies.
I think the 3 year old takes up the most space but that might just be my current findings of bags of babies, toys, and random puzzle pieces.
I am in the process of packing up all of the boys toys in their room, the toys will be gone until the boys can keep track of the items they need to keep track of. My current struggle is where and how to store the home schooling items that we use on a daily basis. We are using Teaching Textbooks for the older children's math and I love that we never lose it or have to go look for it because it is on the computer. The other items, pencils, workbooks, notes, art projects,etc., get piled in the kitchen.
We all get discouraged when it is lunch time and we have to stop what we are doing, clean it up,eat, clean up, and get the project out again. The days that we can eat outside on the picnic table are numbered so not a permanent solution.
I have found that I need to be content in all situations and teach my children patience and to wait on God. We are so happy with the group of friends we have and the fun we get to incorporate in our daily life but I feel our transitions from one subject to another would go much more smoothly if we had our schoolwork more organized, any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sea Grass

On Tuesday I was really not feeling great, I still had a headache from the night before and was trying to gear myself up for a day of schooling and getting caught up (an elusive feeling).
Syndi rescued me! She called and asked what we were doing? To which I replied,"I don't really know, why what do you have in mind?"
You see I am very easily persuaded to do hand on learning. She asked how soon we could be ready and miraculously we were all ready to go super fast.
We made our first stop to collect sea grass at the bay. It was really wet and slippery and Erik was dead set on walking in every body of water that was deep enough to enter into his boots. We identified tide height and looked at some seaweeds and collected a bit of sea grass.

Then we headed out to our beach where we were able to find a vast array of microscopic animals living in the sea grass.
We found more sea slugs, and even some roots of the plants.
I had great intentions of looking at the creatures under our new microscope that Syndi got us, but life got in the way and we had to be content with what we saw at the beach. We have not even identified what we found~yet. We will have to be satisfied with the now dead creatures (it is much more fun to watch them move).

We had Ben at our house for the better part of the day on Wednesday, which is a great motivator for my children to complete their work. While here we constructed 3D Bingo cards with creatures that live in the Aphotic, Disphotic and Euphotic Zones of the ocean and they competed to get a 3D Bingo. I know the best part for Aaron was that we used m&m's for the markers and every time someone got a bingo they got to eat all the markers and start again for another bingo.

By the end of the game even Ruby knew that the bottom dwellers were in the Disphotic Zone!
Learning is fun especially when you have someone to share it with!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bike Ride

We try to honor the Sabbath by not doing any 'work'. Some times we are diligent and persevere others not so much.

This week we were able to enjoy a refreshing yet cold bike ride around the neighborhood! Ruby's friend, Small Hannah (as opposed to Tall Hannah), loaned Ruby some training wheels. We have a box of training wheels at our house but none fit Ruby's bike. I know what we will be donating to the ARC the next time they are in our neighborhood.

Finally we were able to go for a real bike ride with Ruby on her own bike and Libby in the carrier. We rode by Ben's house and he joined us for a ride, then we talked Wesley and his parents into joining us as well.

We live in a small neighborhood with not much room for bikes and cars so I am sure we took up more than our share of the road but we enjoyed it a lot!

Libby cried for a bit but I think it was just because she was tired. She fell asleep on the way home!

Aaron was disappointed that we were not able to ride down to the bay because we had so many small people with us. I assured him that next time we would only take people who were capable of riding safely! More fun memories.

Fabulous Friday

On Friday we took our monkeys to the zoo! It was an official cub scout outing however, we never did hook up with our den. We went with some of our favorite friends! We even were the beneficiaries of 2 free passes and 5 half price admissions! Thanks Hilary! When we picked up Tami and her children they were waiting on the street corner with a shuttle sign. I often feel like we have a shuttle, but the funny thing is Isobelle has her very own car seat in our van that is permanently buckled.

We even managed to have a boy in each rank of cub scouts Everett is a Tiger, Erik is a Wolf, Sam is a Bear and Aaron is a Webelo! I love how the boys look in their uniforms. However today I had to hand sew the numbers (read very thick patches) on to Aaron's uniform. The reason for this being that when he becomes a boy scout he can wear the same uniform but his pack number will change. I digress, I am not a sewer. I was very careful (I like my projects to be perfect without the learning curve involved~remind you of anyone in my family?) After much agony I realized somewhere near the beginning I sewed the sleeves together! I also only had 2 of the 3 numbers he needed for his uniform, so when I thought I was done - Finally I really wasn't because we had to find the other number to sew on.
Uniforms are nice, I just wish they came already ready to wear or with snaps to snap on all the awards as you earn them. I dunno just a really good idea to consider.

Isobelle enjoyed a great ride on her Aunt's shoulders and Grandma joined in for the fun. I love Tami's family and I feel so welcomed and cared for by them. Tami's mom even came and brought me Lattes (plural) when I was at Children's Hospital with Libby. Who cannot love this wonderful woman! What a pleasure it has been to spend time with her and share so much with their family.

I don't seem to be able to stay focused enough to tell about our trip to the zoo, except to say that the Poison Dart Frog exhibit was the highlight of all the boys, especially Erik! I tried to get a photo of him by the frogs but my camera did not like the humidity and kept fogging up!
Erik also waited patiently by the Komodo Dragon exhibit for the Dragon to finish his bath. There were 2 dead mice (OK really they were rats) by the window that the Komodo Dragon promptly consumed as soon as he was clean. Erik had front row seats while the rest of the children were riding the Dragon statue!

We again were treated to a beautifully set table and delicious dinner courtesy of my mom and niece! It was fun to spend some time with the beautiful women on my side of the family before heading home. Libby even got to take a bath with my niece Sarah! Sarah does a great job sharing her toys with Ruby, who seems to 'organize' things her way!
Kimberly tooks great effort in making the meal table beautiful and inviting. Taylor especially loved the fine china and pretty table cloth. It is a blessing for us to be able to rest and be refreshed before driving home!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Stuff is Really Cool

Last week we went to our beach with a very cool plankton net that Syndi made. I took this photo of one of the medium size jelly fish the children caught. We caught several tiny jellies in addition to a lot of plankton. They even caught another Hooded Nudibranch. Before we started this Marine Biology I had never even herd of a Nudibranch much less a Hooded one.
Taylor really enjoyed trolling for plankton, while Ian and Ruby were marching around on the dock. It is a good thing that plankton don't get scared away.
We were really happy that the tide was in, it made looking for sea creatures very successful.

Syndi is so good with my children. She got right down there with them showing them all the really cool things to discover and naming the bivalves, plankton, and many other amazing things.

I loved all the children looking for more Nudibranch's and Jellies. I was nervous about Ruby being so close to the edge, and Erik tends to lean too far out for my comfort.

It amazes me that every time we go to the beach the children discover more. They never get bored, they always want to go, and they get along wonderfully while we are there~Always, All the time!

We spent more time at the beach than we had planned and had to rush home to eat lunch before I left all the children with Syndi to run Ian to the doctor. It was a planned virus to take care of some nasty virus', but was rewarded with a coupon for a free pizza.
Ian was telling the doctor all about the zooplankon that we found and that we were going to look at in under the microscope when we got home. He carried on a very educated conversation with the doctor who even asked if we had seen some Nudibranchs to which Ian replied, "We saw Hooded Nudibranchs!"
How can you be doing something wrong when your 5 year old is learning so much?!

Syndi was so excited when we successfully got slides and could see the plankton swimming under the microscope! The children all too turns looking at the slides and drawing what they saw (some took more care than others, naturally).

Probably the best part of the day was Syndi's excitement and smiles and laughter. Or it might have been spending a few hours at the beach on a sunny October day. Maybe it was learning new things together. Perhaps it was enjoying my children's delight in learning.