Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


One of the most difficult things for me to do is find meaningful work for my children. There is plenty of work to be done and I occasionally make lists of things that they can do. Often the jobs require supervision or at least minimal instruction. I was very busy helping Aaron and Taylor with some projects that they were trying to finish and could not do Ian or Erik's reading lesson.
The boys were waiting 'patiently', and I realized it would not be anytime soon that I could get to them, so I RELEASED them to go outside. I heard something and went to investigate, Erik was cleaning the garbage can! He told me he did not like that it was so dirty and smelled bad, he insisted that I take a picture of what he collected from the dregs of the can, Gross! It looks very similar to the Nasty stuff my husband gets out of the sink drains. I was pleased that he was doing something useful and productive and being kept busy and not getting into any mischief.

Around here you do work because you are part of the family. There are a few jobs I pay for and what I do pay is pretty minimal. Mostly I have to tell the children there is an allowance job and they decide who gets to do it. When Erik finished cleaning the garbage can all on his own accord, he said, "How much do I get?"
This trick of making up your own allowance job and proceeding does not usually result in financial gain. However this time it paid off!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Unsocialized Homeschoolers

I will take my unsocialized homeschoolers any day. I mean that. I love my children I love that God has put them here for me to learn from, to teach and to grow our relationships with Him. I love watching how their minds work, I also love that I am the one responsible for their hearts. Don't get me wrong, it is not all roses and soft lighting but mostly it is a joy and a journey we take together. Friday and Saturday we were able to attend the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference! This year we took Aaron and Taylor with us. When we walked in the building Aaron exclaimed, "Look! they have electric stairs! Can I please ride them?" I was shocked that he did not know the name of an escalator, I soon found out that the escalator was a highlight for most of the children and they did not have to correct name for it either. The difference here is that the children were not wildly running around or up the down or pushing, they were respectful and polite.
The other thing that showed my children's lack of socialization was during one break we were all a bit hungry and I asked Aaron if he wanted to get a candy bar from the vending machine. Aaron asked me what a candy bar was, AND what a vending machine was!
This conference really touched my heart. Not only did we receive huge blessings from the talented children that were chosen to minister to us, but we were equipped to better teach and train our children.
The two key note speakers were excellent! They were Kevin Swanson from Generations with Vision, and Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis! If you have never heard these two men speak you are missing out! The theme of the conference was Stand Firm! I have a renewed vision and encouragement for my home and homeschool!
Give me 2 full days with several thousand unsocialized homeschoolers any day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

5 years ago began a wonderful tradition of celebrating my mom with her closest friends. I am honored to be included among these beautiful women. Kelly is the best hostess. She always has a theme and everything is centered around that. I never knew that dandelions could be beautiful, but Kelly makes them beautiful.

Not only does she have the knack for decorating but her culinary skills are amazing! We had turkey rice soup, cantaloupe, strawberries, and chicken salad. She also had these cute little veggie cups! Notice the flower salt and pepper shakers too! each place setting had it's own little set.
Among the group several have special dietary needs and Kelly always takes those into consideration and provides foods that everyone can eat!

Of course food is a central part of the day, however the main focus it to celebrate who my mom is. This year she gave each and every one of us a special blessing by telling us how we are a blessing to her. We also shared our triumphs and struggles in this past year.

We celebrated Sarah's birthday on Saturday, then Sean took the children home and Taylor and I stayed. We enjoyed a pedicure, and shopping, then stayed up way too late talking. Sunday morning we went to church and out to an amazing breakfast. Taylor and Kimberly went to my God-mother's and got a taste of Greenlake and mom and I went to Kelly's! After the party we all went to see Weston Fields (a classmate of my mom's) speak about his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was amazing.

Naturally no get together with 8 women (2 of the original 10 were not able to make it this year~we missed you terribly Hazel and Celinda) is complete without chocolate. I enjoy baking and trying new recipes. This year's Chocolate Molten Cake is probably one of the easiest (don't tell) and was among the top favorites!
Chocolate Molten Cake
10 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate
1/2 Cup Butter
Melt together in a double boiler and cool slightly
6 egg yolks
6 whole eggs
3 cups powdered sugar
whisk into chocolate mixture then add:
1 Cup flour
Grease Ramekins really well and bake at 450 For 6-8 minutes
Turn onto a dessert plate and garnish with vanilla whip cream and chocolate shavings
When you take a bite of the cake the center will flow out like molten lava, hence the name.
The key to a great tasting cake is the quality of the chocolate, I used 70% bittersweet chocolate found at Chocolate Necessities, it is $9 a pound and worth every penny!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Whee! Look Who's Three

On Saturday we were thrilled to celebrate Sarah May's Third Birthday with her.
Sarah is my brother's youngest daughter. She has sweet little ringlets and is very quiet. I am told that she is a chatterbox, just not around large groups of people, and our family is a large group of people.
All my children love her and she is very patient when Ruby tells her what to do. I would love to know what Sarah and Ian were talking about here.

Sarah decided that she'd better blow out her candle when Erik 'helped' her blow out the number 3 candle.
My brother's oldest daughter, Kimberly (15) planned a wonderful party and did a marvelous job decorating, planning games, and decorating the cake.

Chris and Sarah

Sarah loved all her presents, she was a little unsure of her new tricycle but adored the 'Tinkybell' doll that Kimberly gave her.
We were blessed to share in Sarah's special day. Happy 3rd Birthday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Is Your Definition Of Some?

Mama, Can I bring home some bark?

Friday, April 16, 2010

I am way off base

Sadly, no pictures from me yet again. Not sure why I can't remember the camera.
I love my camera.
I volunteered my boys and Ben to be the Color Guard for a circus that was in town. Sounds great, 3 free guest tickets per scout plus their admission and front row seats. The boys did a great job even though my scouts forgot to salute (they looked like deer in the headlights), they were so handsome.
We ended up leaving the circus before intermission, we did not even stay for the free bike drawing (their soul is not worth a bike). After the 3rd time (I am a slow learner) of the boys having to turn their heads away from the performers because it made them uncomfortable to look (or were told to look away) we decided that we needed to make a bee line for the exit. Sadly, we will not attend another circus. We loved the tigers, were looking forward to the elephants and laughed at the slap stick comedy. The lack of clothing on the female performers is not something I am willing to subject my family to. I am sure that Syndi will have photos up on her blog soon, so pop on over there to see our circus adventure photos.
We are also off to celebrate my niece's 3rd Birthday, with photos of what Taylor made to come, and my mom's birthday. I will get to stay an extra day to celebrate with all of my mom's friends at a fabulous tea party (this time we will get to drink tea).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TEA Party

We participated in the TEA party rally today. It was a brand new experience for me.Savannah and Jason
Our friend Jason is running for State Representative. I admit I am not as political as I wish I was. I do vote, I do know who I am voting for,and I am aware of most of the important issues. Jason knows so much I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode after talking to him, but in a good way.

When we got to Bellingham for the Rally Erik said, "This does not look like Boston."
He was convinced that we were going to the Boston Tea Party.
I was amazed by the number of people who attended and how many people shared the same vision and ideas.

Sometimes in my homeschooling world it is easy for me to forget that others agree with less government, and more freedom, and liberty that our founding fathers fought hard to give us. It was prevalent that we are not alone in our fight!
Ruby kept asking me when we were going to have tea? I suppose when you are 3 you only hear the part of the explanation you want to hear. She did hand out Jason's business cards and say, "Overstreet for liberty!" Which came out sounding more like, "Owersteet for libooty"
My children all have a difficult time saying their R's and often sound like we are from Boston.

It surprised me the number of people that drove by who were actually hostile. The girls took it personally but soon realized people really don't understand what is at stake.

It was really unnerving to see the children so close to the edge of a very busy street. The campaign signs were a bit heavy for the little guys, so they turned on their charm and were able to get some American Flags to wave.
Aaron absolutely loved handing out business cards!

Justice, Me and Liberty
We got rained on briefly, other than that the weather was nice and the day was educational.
We all enjoyed learning more and participating in our first TEA Party!

We LOVE babies!

Baby Jacob came over the other day with his big sister Cassidy and brother Cody. They came over to join our circle time!
Circle Time ran a bit different because all my children had to take turns holding the baby. I cannot believe that I did not get a photo of Ian, he had to take his shirt off to hold the baby because he wanted to feel the soft baby on his chest. We still enjoyed the singing and memory work, then because the preschoolers out numbered the school age we did a whole morning of crafts! Liberty has officially not nursed for a week now. It truly is bitter-sweet. I have either been pregnant or nursing for the last 13 years! I am now neither pregnant or nursing.

We have a lot of friends who are expecting or just had a baby, it makes Liberty look so old. Libby is starting to talk more, she signs a ton and is climbing on anything she can scale.

Here is my dirty laundry! Literally. Erik does not mind any chore as long as he is not alone. He figured out a way for Libby to help take out the laundry, she loves it!
My babies are growing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday Erik

Plain and simple we have been doing too much lately. I was gone for 3 days straight before Erik's Party and was overwhelmed by the thought of throwing a party together.
My amazing friend, Jess, suggested that we do a potluck for the party! Fabulous idea! When Erik opened his gift from Grandma Chris, "The Dangerous Book For Boys" Ian said, "That isn't very dangerous."
Jake exclaimed,"Sweet I love that book, Turn to page 110, it tells you how to talk to girls. #5 is the best!"
Naturally, we had to turn to page 110 and look at #5:
Avoid being vulgar. Excitable bouts of wind breaking will not endear you to a girl,
just to pick one example.
Needless to say we were relieved that what Jake thought was so important about girls was as harmless as wind breaking.
Erik was thrilled that he got so many dollars, most were gifts of $8 but Grandpa sent a $10 bill, so Erik felt like he got a bonus!

Erik still loves frogs! He has had an infatuation with frogs for years now. As I write this I have frog eggs in a tank in the back yard. Erik has to go every day or two to the pond to get new 'fresh' pond water for the eggs.

Just before cake time, Erik got shot in the eye with his new Dart Blaster, He was just going to put on the safety glasses, unfortunately not soon enough. A combination of being overly tired, hurt, too much birthday that was the nail in the coffin so to speak. Erik had to be forced to come out so we could sing happy birthday finish the party.

By that point he was so out of sorts and Isobel couldn't wait for him to blow out the candles, so she helped. Meanwhile, Sean picked up Ian and moved him to the side of the house because he was so busy throwing a fit that went on and on and on and on and we did not want to hear about it anymore.
Everyone else had a great time and we all feasted on delicious breakfast for dinner items, sausage, cinnamon rolls, egg casserole, cheesy potatoes, and fruit!
Update: Erik's eye is just fine and he has no permanent injuries.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Birth Change Agent

I just got back from a fabulous conference in Edmonds about Changing Birth Practices. It was sponsored by R.E.A.C.H Regional Association of Childbirth Educators.
We had amazing food, fabulous speakers, inspirational topics and challenging ideas.
While I was at the conference Sean was home with 4 of the children, He took them to the Youth Fair and my mom had the 2 little girls. Unfortunately, Ruby spent the morning puking. Other than that it went well. I also got pulled over not 1/4mile from home! Thankfully I did not get a ticket, my lights on the license plate were out~soooo important.
Back to the conference, I never cease to be amazed at how God takes care of the little things. When I chose my seat at the conference I found a place that I could see well, and get in and out easily if I needed. There were 2 ladies already at the table and I joined them. Pretty soon, a group of 6 other women came and joined our table (there were over 200 people there). I discovered that they were from my same area! In fact one of them was the Childbirth Educator for our class when we were pregnant with Taylor! It was fun to make some connections. The other amazing thing was that one of the speakers talked about the genetic condition that I have that is extremely rare. I was relieved to be able to get on the right path to some answers by someone who had a clue what I was talking about!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My S-p-e-l-l-e-r

This boy is every teacher's dream. I put off trying to teach him to read because I thought his older brother should learn first, then he taught himself.
Here are some excerpts from recent conversations:
Ian, "I can spell b-o-y, s-c-o-u-t"
Me, "that is very good, can you spell America?'
Ian, "That is easy, U-S-A" I hear often, "m-a-m-a, I l-o-v-e y-o-u!"
please pass the w-a-t-e-r
I mostly love doing 100 easy lessons with my children and Ian is an absolute joy to practice reading with. When I tell him it is time, he shouts, "y-e-s!"
Today while doing one of the lessons, he was doing the word reading portion
There were other words to pre-read before the lesson but you get the idea.
Ian likes to read the word and use it in a sentence that he make up.
Today we had some interesting sentences:
Cars: Mama's nose runs like a car (What?)
Old: Mama will be old on her next birthday (Yeah, I know)
Lots: Mama has lots of chins (Thanks!)

Usually he is so sweet and cuddly, he must have gotten the memo that today was pick on mama day.
Good thing I know how to L-a-u-g-h!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Way Things Work

You guessed it! Liberty got some bling! I love pierced ears, I think they look so sweet. Sean has been telling me for months to get her ears pierced but I kept thinking she was too little. Liberty had an appointment with the nutritionist and she finally weighs 20 pounds 2 ounces! Her iron levels are perfect. I took Taylor with me to the appointment so we could do some shopping after. While we were in the mall Taylor said it was time to get Libby's ears done and she chose the earrings as well. She only cried for a minute and now likes to show her earrings to anyone who comments.
However, Ian does NOT like them at all. Wonder what that is all about?
I found these notes on the boys' door the other day. I was thrilled that Erik cared enough to write something! Not necessarily the nicest thing but he was writing all on his own!
You might notice that Ben's name is written on the sign then scratched out, Ben would not go in their room unless his name was on the sign. Erik temporarily took care of the problem.

The boys have a tendency to have a war zone in their room and have difficulty managing their things. Periodically I take all their toys away and they have to ask to play with anything. They really appreciate this. Again, I wonder what that is all about? For now, all toys are in lock-down and the room is clean.
Erik is meticulously clean and organized. Aaron doesn't give a hoot and Ian, well Ian has other things to think about.
Taylor posted her own signs to display the difference between her generosity and the boys. I walked by and saw her giving Ian and Ruby classes on her shell collection and something else that was in her window.

We have always had the rule that the boys have to ask before going in her room and the boys room is fair game for anyone. I know it sounds like a double standard but let me explain, Taylor is the oldest girl living at home, she needs a certain amount of privacy and she is the zoo keeper around here, she cares for the cats, the hermit crabs, fish and what ever other animal we have at the time. Her room could be chaos, thus the need to ask.
The boys room has a trapeze and all the dress up, as well as all the other toys in bins on their shelves. Erik would tell anyone (even people living in the room) that they could not come in because it would mess it up, especially if he had just vacuumed. Which is why no one has to ask to come in.
Problem solved, Everyone has to ask to get anything out. Lots of work for me. However, the payoff of a clean and orderly room is priceless.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Notice Anything New?

He Has Risen

We Made Resurrection Sunday Story Cookies:
1 Cup Whole Pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 Cup Sugar
Ziploc baggie
wooden spoon
Bible Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Read John 19: 1-3
Place pecans in Ziploc and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19:28-30
Let each child smell then vinegar. Put 1 tsp vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink.
Read John 10:10-11
Add egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life.
Read Luke 23:27
Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
Add 1 Cup Sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us and wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
Beat ingredients on high speed with a mixer for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus

Read: Matthew 27:57-60
Fold in the broken pecans. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid
Read Matt 27:65-66
Place the cookie sheet into the oven and close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed shut.
Read John 16:20-22
Go to Bed. Explain that it is sad to leave the cookies in the oven. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.

Read Matt 28:1-9
On Easter morning open the oven and give each child a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite, The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
He has Risen Indeed!

Friday, April 2, 2010

History Is The Best

History Day really is my favorite day of the week! Syndi found this really cool museum in Seattle. We went to the Klondike Gold Rush Museum after reading about the gold rush in our history class. The children also panned for gold in their history class, and at Fort Langley, so they knew how frustrating and time consuming it could be. We left home at 8:00am (really a feat for myself) and arrived at the museum at 10:00am.
We started the tour with a great guide who introduced us and told us that the Klondike museum is actually an international park, it is located in Seattle, Canada and Alaska! After the introductory film our tour guide disappeared. We had each of the children choose a person from the Klondike Gold Rush and read about their experiences throughout the museum, that was my favorite.
Savannah's character was a black woman who was pregnant and gave birth on her way to the gold mining camps, she also traveled with her 2 other children.
Aaron's character was Mr. Nordstrom who struck it rich and came back to Seattle and used some of his wealth to start a business.
I do not remember all the other characters but it was very interesting. The children also weighed themselves and calculated their worth if they were worth their weight in Gold. Taylor was worth $181,673,966.72
Each of the older children completed a scavenger hunt to find relevant information located throughout the museum. My younger boys got a passport book and found rubbings and stamps to 'cancel' their pages.

After the museum, we ate a quick lunch and headed to Seattle Fire Station #5! Jason (Jake and Savannah's dad) arranged for us to have a tour of the station and the Fire Boat!
The unwritten rule is that you do not show up at a fire station without some goodies for the firemen. On our way to Seattle we stopped and Jess bought some Krispy Kreme Donuts for the firemen. We enjoyed some for ourselves as well.

Everyone loved sitting in the trucks and touching the equipment. The highlight was getting to tour the new fire boat! Syndi stayed on dry ground with Ruby. The tide was way out so the ramp getting to the boat was very steep and slippery.
Mr. Mike the firefighter was very engaging and answered ALL the questions. Erik asks relevant and thoughtful questions. Half way through the tour he said to me, "I am really trying to come up with a question that he doesn't know the answer to."
I love how he thinks.

At the end of the tour Erik asked one of the firemen for a dollar, and the fireman gave it to him! Erik was so excited and exclaimed, "I was going to say, April Fools! but he really gave it to me"

The children (and adults) had a fabulous day! We got to see first hand many things that we had been reading and learning about. On the way home we stopped at Goodwill and then headed across the street to one of the BEST BBQ restaurants ever, Sticky Fingers and enjoyed a delicious dinner! As I was pulling out of the parking spot, Aaron Yelled, "Where is Jake?" Jake was the last to use the restroom and did not tell anyone where he was going! The other patrons in the restaurant laughed.
My van does not have tinted windows and several times throughout the day we noticed people staring, open-mouthed at the number of people packed inside my van.
I feel so fortunate and blessed to have such amazing friends to share these experiences with. I love that there was not fighting or bickering among the children, we all enjoy each others children, and we easily agree on activities. I appreciate that there is not a competition rather, encouraging each other and lifting each other up. I have an amazing life.