Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lunar Learning

Which 2 balls represent the size relationship between the Earth and  Moon? 
We are studying Astronomy for our science this year. It has been fantastic because so far we have seen a complete Lunar Eclipse, and a couple nights ago both Venus and Mars were visible when the moon was rising. 
I did not plan this study to coincide with these events, God orchestrated it just for us!

 The Earth is 4 times larger than the moon, yet the moon is responsible for our tides, and has influence on the gravity of our planet. 
Did you know that only 12 men have ever walked on the Moon? Because the Moon has no wind or rain, the footprints the Astronauts left are still there!
We also did some experiments to see how high we could jump if we were on the moon. Surprisingly, my little girls could jump a whopping 8" here on Earth, if they were on the Moon they could jump 24". The big kids could jump 16" on Earth, but 96" on the Moon. You can jump 6X higher on then Moon, than on Earth. 
The Moon is also the only place in our whole Solar System that people have actually visited, beside the Earth. We decided to make some Astronauts and design a Lunar Module that could land safely. The requirements were that the Astronauts could not be secured in (i.e.: glued, tied, or otherwise restrained) and that the landing had to be soft.
Every day my Family Room looks, at least to some degree, like this. Apparently, the children learn better and are much more creative with some disorder and lots of options.
Ian took several tries to design a Lunar Module that did not contain restraints for his Astronauts. It looked amazingly like a parachute. His Module landed softly but his Astronauts were ejected from their device.
Taylor's was by far the softest landing and least likely to lose an Astronaut. She rolled pieces of note cards into supports for her Lunar Module, then poked holes through the sides and inserted the supports and secured the whole thing together using tape. It had a wide landing and the helicopter like thingy on top made it land slowly and therefore more gently.
They are currently attempting to track the moon's phases for an entire month, and learning to use the telescope that they received for Christmas.
I enjoy learning as much, probably more, than my children and begin able to discuss what we have learned as we go about our day. Plus, it is really helpful to have so many hands clean up after we complete a messy project or experiment.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bringing Delight

Erik came in this morning with a super surprise for all the children! 
Don't let the beautiful sunshine fool you, it is just above freezing here. This kind of weather makes me want to go outside and play, instead we are inside huddled around the wood stove doing our school work. 

Erik's surprise was that our landlord rearranged the hay bales in the barn making a fort just for them. Although Erik is convinced that Mr. L played in the fort first, since his boots are right by the door. 
 It brings me such joy to see the thoughtful little ways that he brings my children delight. 

He made doors, windows, and even put a roof on it. He did it all without any fanfare or even telling the children that he was doing it. He just did it and left it for the children to discover. What a fabulous surprise for an otherwise normal Monday morning. 

Complete with windows overlooking the cows! 

Of course, we had to stop and play on the frozen puddles on the way back to the house. 
Now there is serious motivation to finish the school work and get out to the new fort! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Veterinary Issues & Facebook

Last year we gave Erik a bunny for his birthday. We then signed up for the Youth Fair and Taylor had a horrible experience in her division so she joined Erik in the Rabbit Division. 
 By the end of the 2 days we went home with 3 rabbits instead of the 1 we originally came with. Sean was a fabulous sport and built a rabbit hutch for Taylor's rabbit and we got another cage for Erik's second rabbit. We have had many interesting lessons involving the rabbits. From mating them and holding them upside down so the stuff doesn't fall out to keeping the mama from eating the babies, and even feeding the babies using an eye dropper.
I am usually pretty hands off, I do purchase their food, and have been suckered into getting them some toys and a leash, but overall the children do ALL of their care.
 That is until Erik forgot to put Uno (the one eared rabbit) back in his cage one night. He came home with this nasty wound. I would call him one lucky bunny. First he survived his tail and one ear being eaten off by his mom, then he survived a night outside in the country where obviously something tried to get him. Guess when he goes, we might keep one of his feet! No, just kidding, that is really gross.

Not knowing at all how to care for an injured rabbit, I posted on Facebook asking for advice. I was very grateful for all the helpful advice. I attempted to shave the area around his wound but quickly found out that the rabbit was less impressed with the clippers than he was with the socks on his feet. A helpful reader told me to put the socks on so that he couldn't claw me! That is one trick I will be sure to put in my back pocket.
I was surprised at how soft Uno is! Guess I never really bothered with the rabbits before. I flushed out his wound with saline, then but Triple Antibiotic Ointment on it. I used the extra ointment to slick back his fur and keep it out of the way. I also learned about Blue Kote, a Fantastic product to have on the farm.
Uno healed nicely and Erik learned to always put his rabbits back in the hutch. In fact, he has taken to padlocking them in, just to make sure they are safe. I really have to learn to appreciate his thoroughness.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine's Day

Savannah and her Wonderfully Delicious Fudge Brownie with Cream Cheese Decadence! 
I love Valentine's Day. A day to Celebrate love and friendship. Often, I host a big party and we make Valentines for Nursing Homes, or Firemen. This year however, we kept it simple.
Jess and her children came over for lunch, and playtime and goodies!
Justice, Liberty, Ruby, Honor, & Ian
 I gave my children each their own bag of M&M's! Liberty's were gone within an hour. The sweet girl shared hers with everyone. Paisley thought she was in heaven because she had an unlimited number of M&M's. Justice didn't leave Liberty's side until the M&M's were gone. Honor just wanted his own bowl. I had to put a stop to her siblings asking for some, after all they each had their own.

Where did Ruby Go? 
We enjoyed a fabulous day just letting the kids play. We got all 4 little ones down for a nap and the big kids were outside playing war. We have the habit of starting 4 or 5 different conversations and talking as fast as we can to try and fit everything in!
I got a beautiful bouquet of red tulips from my husband and some pussy willows from Taylor! The best gift was the time I had today with no bickering, arguing or complaining!
We enjoyed Seafood Fettuccine then the boys went to wrestling and Taylor and I enjoyed some girl time watching Ever After, one of my all time favorite movies.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flashback to Snow

I loved having my whole family together for 10 days. Sean took the time off to be here for when Mikaela came to visit. None of us expected to be snowed in! Our landlord was in San Diego for the week so we were in charge of the cows as well. We had to be very diligent in making sure that they all had access to water. Sean had to break the water trough for the cows, Erik unfroze the rabbits water bottles, Taylor dumped the ice and added fresh water for the chickens and I kept a fresh supply of water out for the cats. It was something we have never experienced before. I had no idea how much water cows go through in a day!
It was wonderful to have nowhere to go and hardly any laundry to do, because the children kept wearing the same warm clothes over and over.
Aaron building a 3D globe puzzle
This year, for the first time ever, we were prepared for snow. Between my mom and Sean's mom the children were completely outfitted for cold weather. We had Under Armor, Wool Socks, Snow Gloves, Hats, Pants, and Coats. We were also blessed with a Ski Do for everyone. Liberty was regularly asking for either her Filson or REI socks. I think that girl could make a commercial.

Taylor working on her 1000 piece horse shaped puzzle with horse shaped pieces
We were accustomed to our old house and how warm it was year round. If we had friends over or the oven on we had to open the windows in December or January because it got too warm. That is about the only thing I miss about that house (and the good neighbors of course). This house has us layering, wearing sweatshirts, socks, and at times, sleeping bags.
I felt really bad that Mikaela was here during the coldest time of year.

Looking Heavenward 
We enjoyed lots of time outside. We built a big snowman. This is him, after the snow, some rain, and much abuse by boys. We also built part of an igloo. After working so hard the first day and getting 3 layers done, it snowed and buried the first 2 1/2 layers. I think we all lost momentum at that point. 
We also enjoyed sledding on the neighbor's hill. Sledding is fun. The boys enjoyed going down the hill, under the barbed wire and into the cow pen. I opted for the safer route down the hill and between the calf domes. I was envious of their ability to run and jump head first down a hill. Every time I tried that, I either knocked the wind out of myself or just plain hurt my body.

A look inside the Playmobile Room 
When the weather turned cold we moved our couch in by the wood stove. This left an almost completely empty room (something we never even dreamed about at the Birch Bay House). Playmobile is a constant source of entertainment and play in our home. This room filled with Playmobile is like a dream come true. We rarely have arguments over these toys. All the children ages 3-14 love to play. The girls have admitted that they prefer to set them up and not necessarily play. 
I was impressed with my children's tenacity in beginning not only one, but multiple complex puzzles. I tried a few times to help but was easily distracted and it was not quick enough results for me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Soft Pretzels

Sunday was a beautiful day! After church, Liberty took a nap and the boys all disappeared outside. Ruby loves to work in the kitchen, and since nobody was around to complain they were hungry I decided that maybe we didn't need lunch after all. 
Ruby loves to help in the kitchen and is quite competent. Even more so than many of her older siblings. Aaron knows how to cook because food is important, but usually he is in the kitchen with a book in one hand and distractedly making food. Taylor just doesn't care all that much for food and sees it as a bother. Ruby just enjoys making things people like to eat. 

We decided to make homemade Soft Pretzels. She knew that the sugar activates the yeast and that the water can't be too hot or it will kill the yeast. After Ruby made the dough everyone started wandering in. Either they knew something good was up,  or they were getting hungry. 
Everyone pitched in and shaped the pretzels. Erik asked me if I spent all day every day in the kitchen. Good observation!

Recipe for Soft Pretzels
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 - 4 Cups flour (I used 1 cup white and the rest whole wheat)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp coarse salt

Preheat oven to 425. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and blend until yeast is dissolved. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in sugar, salt and enough flour until a soft and sticky dough forms. 
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 to 7 minutes adding flour in 1/2 cup increments as needed. Dough should not stick and be smooth and elastic. 
Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll out until you get a rope (or play dough type snake) then cross the dough into a pretzel shape and place on baking sheet. 
Mix together egg and water and brush on the pretzels. sprinkle with salt and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

I doubled the recipe and they lasted about as long as it took for them to cool. You could have fun and let the children make different shapes, or their initials. 

Originally known as the Pretiola (Latin for little reward), Pretzels were created by monks who used to give children warm pretzels if they had memorized their Bible verses. The 3 holes in the pretzel represent the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The shape of the pretzel is supposed to symbolize a child crossing his arms in prayer. 

A little history with a yummy afternoon snack. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chinese New Year Party

It's been awhile since we have had a party. What better reason to celebrate than Chinese New Year. 
This works even better for us, because Chinese New Year begins on the first New Moon of the Year and lasts for a week. We got to choose what day worked best for all our schedules. 
Chinese Dragon Crafts ~ Year of the Dragon
Syndi is amazing at prep work. She planned the crafts and pre-cut all the materials! One of my biggest pitfalls in homeschooling is the failure to prep prior to needing the materials.

We began by reading about how the Chinese Celebrate. We figured out that we had a Dog, Rat, Pig, Dragon, Monkey, Sheep, Chicken and Tiger in our mix! Talk about a variety of personalities. We did read them what the beliefs were but were sure to discuss the fact that we didn't believe in horoscopes. 
The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Calendar. It is a type of huge birthday celebration as well, because custom has it that you don't turn a year older until the New Year    Celebration. So even if your birthday is in May you don't officially turn a year older until the New Year  Festivities~ That would give me an extra 6 months!

The Chinese also decorate windows and doors with red lanterns for wealth, good fortune, happiness and longevity. I still have the lanterns strung in the dining room because they make me happy! 

It is Chinese tradition to cleanse the entire house to sweep away ill fortune and make room for good luck. I am so thankful that I have hope in Jesus Christ and don't have to depend on luck. 
Although I felt quite lucky to be treated to Chinese Food. 
 One of the best parts of our Chinese New Year Celebration involved eating Chinese Food! Shockingly, my children did not like sweet and sour! Jess and I are shameless, we put our favorites to the back and served the children more of the foods we don't care for as much.
 My mother in law always says, "With rank comes privilege." I'm just going to go with that! 

I must admit that Justice has me totally wrapped around his finger. Look at those cheeks and the concentration.

I love that all our celebrations involve such a huge variety of ages. I made Red and Gold play dough for the children and Liberty so incredibly excited to play with it, she could hardly wait. I also appreciate the fact that the older children are able and willing to help the youngers and more importantly help clean up after them. 
Justice, Jess and Ian
Syndi brought a variety of pictures to color, some ribbon dragons for each family, the lanterns, and researched several games for the children to play. 

Paisley and Abigail are the only ones  missing from this photo! 

Jake playing a number game. 

A game involving picking up beans with chopsticks. You would have been amazed at the level of competition involved on this one! 
In the morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
Much to their disappointment, we opted not to give our children money in red envelopes. 

Isobel and Ruby 

Liberty and Justice

We had fun eating and reading fortune cookies. I think we can easily say that we are blessed, have prosperity, happiness, health and joy in our lives. It is always fun to turn a learning opportunity into a party with friends.