Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day...

I love Thanksgiving day!  I love being a family... together -- all day... just enjoying each other (or trying not to get on each others nerves)! Bethany joined us for our weekend and so she was involved in the madness as well!
 Ethan is getting to the "old enough age" where he can play games with us.  I bought Go Fish and he is "hooked"... we've probably played 100 games between yesterday and today... Super fun!
A while back my sister-in-law sent me a link for activities to do with little "engineers"(HERE).  I love it when people give me great suggestions for things to do with my kids... because it seems like they're always in NEED of direction or else they find trouble and DIVE in! For the past few months I've been gathering newspaper to make a Geodesic dome (the tutorial is found HERE -- try it!)... and so we FINALLY gave it a go!  It was easy and awesome!
 Ethan and Eden pretended they were lions and the Geo-dome was their cage... I'm amazed how this structure is made out of only newspaper, some tape, and some staples!  We made it a tent... and it worked for awhile until Eden decided to pile all the blankets in the house on it... and it collapsed!  We were able to fix it and it is still standing... it was a perfect Thanksgiving activity to do with the family! 
Before we dove into our Thanksgiving dinner we went for a walk at our walking park... it was chilly out, but the SUN was nice... it had snowed the night before ... and the branches were covered with snow... it was a winter wonderland! 
Seriously... don't ever get into a sword fight with Eden... she is intense!
 When we got home we enjoyed a TEXAS Thanksgiving meal... Bethany's parents sent us a Greenburg SMOKED turkey from Tyler, TX... AMAZING! (Thanks so much!) and Bethany made their family cornbread dressing... we also had apple pie and a pumpkin cheese cake... OH YEAH!  It was a great feast... and great time to reflect on the goodness of God in our lives... 
He has blessed us so much! 

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you... 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shades of Color

I know this week is Thanksgiving week and I should be gushing all that I'm thankful for...  and to be honest... I've made a LONG list of things I am thankful for this year. Remaining "thankful" minded has helped me through the past weeks of ABSOLUTE CRAZY CHAOS!!!! I told Micah I regret NOT putting Ethan in school this year, because our house is WILD all the time.  Just last night we came in the kids bedroom to find that Eden had taken a screw driver and put deep scratches and holes through the whole wall.  I seriously could have put her in the box that very moment and shipped her to another country. 
 This was of course only a couple hours after I found her in the back yard looking like this!  She explained to me that her pants were down because she had to pee on the lawn like Ethan does (fabulous)... when I began to help her get out of the ridiculously muddy clothes she waved her hands wildly... coating my hair and clothes with mud... fantastic.  I stripped both kids and put them in the tub... thankfully they played there for an hour or so... while I scrubbed mud out of the carpet and their clothes... I then told Micah I resigned again... but the silly guy never takes my resignation or gives me a raise... bum deal for me!  

On to other things... I'm constantly working hard at teaching my kiddos how to play.  I don't know how you do it in your house, but ALL my kiddos WANT to do is watch movies.  It is a constant fight because all I let them watch is a show in the morning while I'm making breakfast.  They complain all the time about being bored.  WHAT?  So in the evenings I've been trying to think of educational activities I can set up for them ... so they can play/discover... explore.  It is a challenge -- let me tell you!  I'm ready for Ethan to go to school!
 This week we've been talking about shades of colors... I saw this idea on a blog a LONG time ago (wish I could remember which -- I'd give them credit!) and tucked it away in my brain.  One time while at Home Depot I collected a few paint color cards (two of each).  
This past weekend I finally put the color matching game together.  It is kinda a tricky game and takes times to match the colors, but it's easy to put together.  Cut up one of the paint cards into strips.  Glue a color strip on a clothespin until you have a clothespin for each color....
 Mix up the clothespins and have the kiddos match the shade to the card that wasn't cut up.
 It is tricky, but Ethan likes the challenge!
 I think Eden just likes the clipping on part...
Parenting is a contant battle for me... most of the time I feel like I'm losing the war -- but there are those small moments of success where they are busy, playing and learning -- instead of destroying things and/or yelling at each other.  I've gotta remember the good or I'll go completely MAD!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ice and Snow...

 Thursday was our play-date-day.  When it is our turn to host the madness, I try to plan 1 fun thing to keep the 40 fingers busy (scary thought...huh?)... This week we built "ice" sculptures...
Ethan and I have built ice (sugar cube) houses before, and so this time... he knew what he was doing! 
 I was proud of Eden and her little creation... She worked on it for the longest time.  I brought out the food coloring and put a little drop of color in their glue... 
 I loved the glue trail... so cool!
 (Have I mentioned how much I love their new "art" trays?  Makes clean up so easy!)
 Micah had Saturday off... first one in many weekends since he went back to work at REI... Instead of taking a nap (which we were leaning towards), and BECAUSE the sun was shining we headed to the our favorite park for a walk... 
 When the sun shines... and it's winter -- you've got to seize those semi-warm afternoons!  When we got to the ponds... a bunch of kids were sledding on the "hill"... I left Micah and the kids and ran home to get our sled and snow suits... This would be the kiddos first time sledding!
 I think it was a success???  My FIRST run with Eden we hit a patch of mud and flipped... I rolled over the top of her... giving me flashbacks to the time when my Dad and I crashed while sledding years back.  I remember him telling me how he about killed himself trying not to crush me -- I now have a NEW understanding of that... I did the same thing with Eden, but wasn't fully able to protect her and her arm was submerged in the muddy goo.  Eden looked at me like I betrayed her and screamed BLOODY MURDER... So Dad, I'm sorry if I was upset at you for crashing on me... I have a whole new understanding of that day!
Every single run the rest of the day... Eden screamed her head off like we were abusing her, but then at the end she would stand up and scream how awesome it was and run back up the hill!
Our sledding experience ended abruptly with a broken sled... seriously... do they make things of quality these days? Anywho.... over all the experience was "good"... As parents we learned a few things... We learned we had to talk our kids through the experience (lots of convincing and encouraging)... we learned to never send Ethan down alone... (at one point we had both kids screaming and crying) and we learned to miss the mud patches... 
What a weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Schooling Today...

I've had a lot of questions about Ethan's schooling.  "Are you homeschooling?" "Is Ethan in Kindergarten this year?"  To answer those questions... Ethan meets the Kindergarten cut off date by a few days (I believe it is Sept 10th or 8th - he was born on the 6th), but working with college kids for as long as we have - we realize that those young 17 year olds - soon to be 18 year olds that come our way -- (in most cases) just aren't "ready" to be there.  We wanted Ethan to have another year to mature, gets more wiggles out, and really just be able to play and discover. At this time we want to put him in a private school, but he is on the waiting list and we will see if he gets in.  I'm not thrilled about the school district we are living in -- so public school isn't really an option in my mind. So who knows if in the end we end up homeschooling, but for now that is not my first choice.
 With that said... I would say I'm constantly "homeschooling".  As a parent my desire is to create a love for learning in my kiddos... we have all sorts of things were are working on -- learning!  On a daily basis we work on the days of the week, the seasons of the year, counting, reading, singing songs, finding patterns, learning to read... etc.  Learning is fun... we can always find some question to ask -- something to research... something to talk about!  
The kiddos assignment in Cubbies this week was to learn what it means to "serve".  A suggestion they made was to making table place mats... Then I saw this amazing finger painted tree idea (here on Ucreate... love that blog!) and it all came together in my mind... Cubbie assignment, a lesson on the seasons... perfect for the table!
 So on Saturday we made finger painted/stamped hand/tree prints... We did 4 stamped trees (each sheet of paper had one of Ethan's print and one of Eden's prints)... Then today we got creative.  I got out a blue ink pad for the sky and we dabbed on ink with cotton balls... then we punched out flowers, leaves, and circles... and started to glue them on according to the right season. 
 Lots of white circles for winter, little blooms for spring, LOTS of green leaves and flowers for summer and lots of brightly colored leaves for fall.  Ethan added a big orange circle in each sky for the sun!
Then we laminated them... Didn't they turn out cute!  I think they are going to make perfect table settings for our table... I just love the seasons....
 The cutting, glueing, punching... is still going on... as the creating continues... This morning was a "learning" success... or a "teachable" experience.  We had fun... I really love it when my kiddos are creative... makes me smile!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Snowy Weekend...

Living in the northern part of the States, I'm aware that the cold will come -- it is just a matter of WHEN! Early this week it was in the 60's - I heard snow was coming, but it was hard to believe!
 Friday we woke up to SNOW!  Lots of it!  And with it came the COLD... really cold!  There is ice everywhere - which means I immediately canceled all our traveling plans and stayed home... I hate driving on the that slippery stuff!
 The kids and I went out for a walk Saturday morning, but didn't stay out too long -- even though the sun was shining it was in the teen degrees!
 They love to eat snow... I can tell them how dirty snow is and what is in snow... and they don't care one little bit.  I gave them spoons to use because they have cloth mittens that get wet and cold so fast... this seemed to help their fingers from getting so cold... that and they are growing up so they aren't falling down all the time!
 I guess winter is early... and it will most likely stay longer than it is welcome... 
So we will be drinking a lot of hot chocolate...
 And finding things to do that help the "cabin" fever feelings...
Yes, I think they used all my clean towels... yippeeee... the mess is not inside for the next 6-7 months... *sigh*.... Happy first snow fall!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trip to the Dentist...

Seems like a silly thing to blog about going to the Dentist... but it was a happening in our week and it was memorable... I don't think I can go anywhere with my kiddos that isn't MEMORABLE or humiliating... I think those two things go hand in hand!
 It was Eden's first time in the Dentist chair.  She wouldn't let them take pictures of her teeth, but she let them look at her teeth... which was a success!
Ethan walked in the door asking questions and didn't stop until we were on our way out when he paused and yelled for the whole waiting room to hear, "I LOVE THE DENTIST!  This is the BEST place EVER!"  (I hope we get our visit for free...) The lady that helped us was so kind... she answered every single question he asked!  I was proud of how well he did.  She commented at one point that he sat better than some 10 year olds do.  The kiddos teeth were healthy and "sugar bug" free!  We've added flossing to our nightly routine... and Ethan has added extra brushings after meals (GO! Ethan!)  

Funny how a little trip to the Dentist can be such an educational trip.  We learned how cavities are formed and how much sugar is in 16 ounces of apple juice (like 9 teaspoons!!!)... plus 100's of other things.  It was highlight in my kiddos week... especially the treasure box on the way out!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Weekend House Renovations....

What we had planned to do months ago, finally came about this weekend (thankfully before the snow flew...).  We had a few boards on our trailer that needed to be replaced.... it was quite the chore.
 We started out the day with Home Depot day... the kiddos built turkey napkin holders.  They are fun and perfectly decorate our dinning room table... just in time for THANKSGIVING!
 Then we started our home improvement project.... and it went down hill from there. We couldn't find the right supplies... the supplies we got, we ended up returning... it went from an afternoon project to a full weekend job... yuck!  But we are responsible adults and that is what you do as an adult... I guess!
 I was SO thankful that it was a warm weekend... the sun shone and it was enjoyable being outdoors... the kiddos help... and then didn't help so much... but they were around the whole time!
 We torn down the old boards, pulled out a million nails, cut off old caulk, hung new board, caulked, painted...  you know all that important building stuff... 
At one point the neighbor kids even came over and helped haul out all the yucky boards (I gave them a cupcake!)...
 On Monday I finished painting the new boards... and making it look nice.  At one point I turned around and found the kiddos with the bucket of "pulled out" nails sitting by the side of the road throwing handfuls into the street... WHAT!?!?!?!  Gotta love home projects... or being finished with them!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fermenting #1

A few weekends ago I went to a fermenting class.  It was fascinating learning about how to preserve food by fermentation versus canning. When you ferment you can preserve food without killing/destroying the nutritious qualities like in the canning process.  Of course things don't last as long through fermentation like they do with canning..., but they do last several months (which could keep one through a winter... Did I mention that the class was a fascinating history lesson as well!)  I could explain more why they are good, but to simplify it, fermented food have the "good" bacteria that your digestive system needs to work properly.
Sourdough waffles with Creme Fraiche and fig butter!
 I've tried a couple ferments in the last few weeks and I'm loving them!  My morning breakfast has been a sourdough waffle, with creme fraiche and fig butter... it is to DIE for... so yummy -- all fermented!  I got a little bit of whole wheat sourdough starter at the class and it has gone nuts.  I borrowed my friend's waffle maker (yes, out of the 12 years of marriage we've never owned a waffle maker --- crazy huh??) and made several batches of waffles.  I froze them.  In the morning I can just pull out a waffle and toast it!  

The creme fraiche is easy to make... take a pint of the best quality cream you can find.  Raw cream is best, but most of us don't have cows.  I used an organic cream and you add 1 Tablespoon whole milk buttermilk or a tablespoon from a previous batch.  Mix it together in a pint glass jar, cover tightly, and let it sit in a warm place for 20-24 hours in a warm place (my house is super cold so I let it sit for 48 hours), then chill -- it should look like a thick creme! 

Fig butter is delicious... if you love fig newtons you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this spread! (My husband and kids don't love it - so I told them to keep their hand off of it!)  To make 1 pint you need
2 cups dried figs - unsulphured
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup raw honey
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons whey (to make whey take a quart of whole milk yogurt, put it in a cheese clothe, and let it drip for 24 hours... after the whey has all dripped out your yogurt is now cream cheese - delish as well!)
Let the figs soak in the warm water for a few hours, then put everything in a blender or food processor and let blend until smooth.  Put in a pint jar, cover tightly and leave at room temp for 2 days, then chill.
A delicious sandwich with homemade mustard!
Another ferment that is DIVINE is mustard... don't think I will ever buy mustard again! You take 1/4 cup whole, yellow mustard seeds and 1/4 cup whole, brown mustard seeds, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional -- I left this out), 2 tablespoon whey, 1 tablespoon sea salt, juice from 1 lemon, and 2 garlic cloves.  Blend in a blender or food processor until you have a good consistency.  Leave at least a 1 inch head space, cover tightly and leave at room temp for about 3 days, then chill. Sooooo good on sandwiches!

I hope you try some of these recipes... they are so good... and good for you as well!
(Most of these recipes can be found in the Nourishing Traditions book...) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ah, November... How I love Thee!

 November is probably my favorite month of the year... I love that our family dedicates a whole month of the year to being thankful.  If there is one thing I want my kiddos to learn -- is to be THANKFUL!  We have been so blessed... Money has been so tight since we moved to Bozeman, but somehow we make it from month to month -- and it is amazing to see the ways God provides for our needs... I can't wait to share all the ways! 
This morning we kicked off the month making "thankfulness" collages...
Glueing, cutting... and chatting about what we are thankful for... I just love the pictures the kiddos picked out... (lots of ice cream, steak and pizza!)