December 24, 2008

Passing the time...

While we wait for the big fat guy in red, the girls and I have been crocheting. It's actually our favorite winter sport. We don't get any snow and the weather has been unseasonably warm (hovering in the 70s) for the past few weeks, so we have to make winter wear to feel wintery.

So far I've made scarves for the girls, and this one is my favorite. It's the Botswana flag for Kenna. She loves that particular African country and now has something to show everyone. Santa will bring her a few more African articles, but this one will suffice while she waits.

December 21, 2008

Silent Night

May your Christmas be merry and bright...and peaceful. :)

December 15, 2008

Our pioneer Christmas

Last year, amist all the lavish gifts and crumpled wrapping paper, I declared this year to be a Little House Christmas. I told them that they would only receive what would fit into their stockings--just like Mary and Laura.
This year they reminded me of what I said, except they wanted a tree just like the Ingalls may have had.
So we picked a tree from the woods (okay, really it come from Lowes, but that's near the woods of our house...) and strung some popcorn

with cranberries (that could have come from our backyard, if we had any).

The girls enjoyed this project so much that they even helped clean up. Mabry even asked if she could do it again because it made her "behave," she said.
I think I'd behave too if Santa was coming next week. :)

December 7, 2008

If you have to stay home from church,

you might as well make marshmallows.

And if you're the sick girl with pink eye, you get to pick the color and the shape. In my crazy Christmas mind, I thought we'd do green Christmas trees. But, nope...she wanted pink hearts.
(Anyone else have "yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers and blue diamonds" randomly repeating in your head?)

December 5, 2008

Pieces of Pennsylvania

(This post is a bit late; the presentation happend over 3 weeks ago. But hey, what's a mom to do when she's got sick kids? So far we've passed around general nastiness and pink eye. We've avoided the stomach virus, but have visited the doctor more times in the past two week than in the past two years.)

For our co-op on the 50 states, we presented Pennsylvania. Kenna was a red crayon in honor of the Crayola Factory in the upper part of the Keystone State.

Kissable Mabes told about the Hershey factory and how chocolate is made. I think the girls would really like to move there forever.

Behind her is our poster. Everytime they presented some information, they would lift up a blue flap to show a picture on a red background. The turned the entire state into an American Flag a la Betsy Ross...

Cayli Grace's hero! CG was able to share Betsy trivia and facts about American Revolution, much of which started in Philly.
Then we all cut out Betsy's famed 5-pointed stars. When George Washington approached Besty to sew our first flag, he suggested 6 points on each star because they were easier to cut out of fabric. Betsy, creatively knowing better, showed him a 5-pointed one, with a few fold and a snip. The rest is history.

December 1, 2008

Excuse us as we withdraw from civilizaton...

and empty these containers:

I truly believe that for every trip to Walmart, a virus finds a new home. We must have loaded up on the common crud last week, because it's been never-ending since Friday. And this virus is especially family friendly, jumping from kid to kid (which explains why my sedated girls played 6 hours of monopoly yesterday). Hopefully we'll be our jolly selves in time for the Christmas pageant next week.

November 30, 2008

6.5 hours

For all of the afternoon and most of the evening, my can't-focus-on-anything kids played Monopoly with their daddy. They sat calmly in their seats, bought and sold, counted their money, negotiated, made change, sat still some more, assessed probability, made educated guess-timates, played banker, continued to sit still (even while in jail) and loved every minute of it.
I think this should count for an entire week's worth of math! I can't get this much cooperation on any school day.

FWIW, Cayli Grace claims victory, but in reality, Mabry and Cayli tied (but after 6.5 long, tiring hours, we let CG think she won!).

November 28, 2008

So I took a blog break...

Want to know why?

It's all his fault:

This michief maker keeps me hopping. I have no time to do anything other than chase this little devil around and around and around and....whew! I'm dizzy!

He hates toys. So please don't bother with any for Christmas. He'd much prefer to swish my hairbrush in the toilet, try to pry the protective covers so that pencils with stick in the electric outlets, throw handfuls of dog food/giggle/throw more and mess with my computer so that sometimes it sleeps, sometimes it types in a funny font and sometimes it just crashes. Then he giggles more.

And that in the first two minutes he's out of the starting gate his crib.

He can't open doors but he takes full advantage of the fact that his sisters can't close them. And if he gets outside, I get plenty of exercise chasing after him. Oh, if you see him walking down the road, please bring him home.

Love my boy, but don't expect another blog post until he's in college. lol

Actually I've got some great pictures of the girls' Pennsylvania presentation and I hope to get those up sometime this weekend during a naptime; for now, though, I've got to go stop him from propelling all of his blocks into the dog's water dish. Wish me luck. :)

November 15, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

in the rainforests that is. Rainforests get anywhere from 30-100 feet of rain each year. Makes the miserly 47 inches we get each year seem like only a drop. Though yesterday we finished up our study as a record-breaking 2 inches of rain fell from the sky during the day. And since it was fiercely thundering as the rain began pelting the earth, the kids were up before the roosters. So we jumped into our final day of rainforest study by making chocolate.

Chocolate pods are native to the rainforests. You break open one to find the beans:

You crush the beans, add some sugar and cocoa butter a la Milton Hershey (who perfected the process for chocolate-happy Americans) and viola! you've got chocolate:

Very enjoyable, rich, smooth tasty chocolate...until Micah gets a hold of it. :)
Did you know that the aztecs enjoyed hot chocolate? Of course theirs was crushed cacao beans mixed with water and hot peppers! So glad Mr. Hershey left out the spices...or chocolate would be worthless bribe for my kids. ;)

November 12, 2008

Uplifting words

My nature artists designed a sign just for me...on a day that wasn't necessarily going as planned and was going downhill fast:
But the girls redeemed the day with 3 simple words and a heart. I love it when they love me!

November 9, 2008

Micah is now 17 months, 11 days...

A trivial young age for sure, but very tender to my mommy heart. For it was the exact age that my sweet, sweet oldest darling, Cayli Grace, was the day her sisters were born. For the most part, I remember every aspect of Cayli Grace's life up until the moment Mabes and Kenna were born. But then my happy-go-luck life became a collection of mundane, rigorous, frazzled-mommy schedules. I remember nothing from those early years. I can look at pictures to put together pieces of our family's adventures, but I really don't have any warm-fuzzy recollections of life with three less than 18 months apart.

And that's why Micah, our surprise baby, is such a refreshing blessing. I cherish each step and word and laugh. Even the messes...I love them all! Even though he's baby number four, it's really like the first time I've experienced it.

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November 8, 2008

God Bless America

Don't you love a kid's version of patriotic pride?
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November 4, 2008

Our patriotic fieldtrip

to the polls so that the girls could collectively tell me how to cast my vote. Who knew 7-8 year olds could be so opinionated?
I bribed the kids with Sonic slushes. I brought book and paper and pencils. I was prepared for a lengthy line. Four years ago I waited over 2 hours to vote and was expecting the same this year, but with rowdy kids in tow. I was anxious about the anticipated wait, but 36 minutes later, I was surprised that the cup of cheerios (but not the Dr. Pepper) lasted longer than our wait.
We'll be finishing up our election study this evening as we plod through the election returns. Such an historic election should provide some great entertainment. :)
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October 30, 2008


Months ago I purchased the FIAR Fall Nature Study and oh, how we are enjoying it! We haven't done every activity, so we have plenty to look forward to when Fall '09 frosts our window.
My country girls love nature anyway and constantly challenge me to delight in the simple pleasures of the seasons: the changing colors, the creepy crawlies, the simple sounds.
One tiny sentence in this nature study inspired some beautiful creations from my kids: Make a rubbing of the bark or a plaster cast of the leaves. We've been doing leaf and bark rubbings since the girls could hold a crayon, so we opted for a bit of variety. And I just happened to have a box of plaster of paris hiding in my craft cabinet waiting for a project such as this.

While they were out gathering leaves, I removed the top of their pencil boxes, lined them with wax paper and poured in the plaster (after following the mixing directions on the back of the container).

They set the leaves in the plaster and rubbed them until we were sure that the leaf pattern was set. After it dried just a bit, we used a knife to loosen and lift the leaf.

The leaves made a nice permanent imprint. Honestly I'm not real sure that this is a true leaf "cast," but it's what happens when I find usual craft supplies laying around and decide to wing a project.

A few days later, the girls were admiring the miracle of plaster, a decided it need a little color. I didn't have any watercolors to give it a soft finish, but I did have some tempera paint. Viola! A remarkable memory of fall:

Even the broken corners add to its charm.

I even think the color choices of the girls reflect each child's personality. But that's another post for another time.

Who knew that stopping to enjoy a fall day would lead to such artistic renderings? Imagine what you can do with your family with the simple nature around you!

October 28, 2008

Election study

It's that time you know. Finally one week left in all this blah, blah, blah jargon. So we're doing a basic study this week so that my kids know what's really going on when we hit the polls next Tuesday.

I started by downloading a fold-n-learn from FIAR. This resource comes complete with info, graphics and ideas to further study this topic.
We used construction paper to put together a file folder of sorts and then made a flip-up section to divide the candidates.
Tomorrow we plan on adding a section on the inside about the history of voting, including women's right to vote. I'm in the process of printing off a basic bio of each candidate so that kids will know a little bit of each man's resume. Next Tuesday we'll color in each state's election returns, just like the big newsrooms do. We'll also spend some time praying for the outcome of this election.

During this mini-unit, the book So You Want to Be President? has been a great humerous overview of all the presidents. It's truly a must-read! (Did you know that Roosevelt's kids brought a horse into the White House elevator?)
If you've got any other ideas, I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment or shoot me an email. I'm sure my kids would enjoy someone else's fun ideas! You know it's so much easier to teach my kids when they think another mom come up with the project. ;)
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October 26, 2008

Skipped the church's fall festival...

and carved a family pumpkin and roasted its seeds instead.

This week has been one of our crazier ones. But we're comfy cosy at home this evening, enjoying each other. We're also listening to Casting Crowns' new Christmas CD. Fall time is great...but Christmas is right around the corner! Yeah!

October 23, 2008

Harvest Hope Food Bank

The girls group from church toured the Harvest Hope Food Bank yesterday evening. We were met in the parking lot by friendly Sam, the Can Man.
We brought with us many canned goods that we collected during the month. All of our food weighed 172 lbs. This is enough food to feed 2 people for 2 weeks each.

The goal of Harvest Hope is to give each person who uses their services 87 lbs of food. That amount should get them through 2 weeks. With government food stamps, they will have enough money to buy food for the other 2 weeks of the month.
These tough economic times have seen an increase of 12 extra people per day using their services. Currently this agency is serving more per day than at any time in the past, including holidays.

To fulfill the need of the community, Harvest Hope takes donations from grocery stores and private citizens. With the holidays approaching, many places are hosting food drives. The food collected is then sorted and organized so that emergency bags can be given to hungry people.

One thing our family would like to do is volunteer to sort or stuff bags. And with the extra people really needing food, they sure can use donations and hands to help.

Cayli has been begging to help, so I think we'll since we found out last night that they'll let 8 year olds join their team. Of course I think my girls secretly want to learn to drive the forklift that organizes bundles for food onto these high shelves.

October 16, 2008

Lizard Lover

I think fall is one of my girls' favorite time of the year because they get to be "friends" with tiny green creatures. Mabry also think these pets also make fashionable hair accessories, too.

During this season we'll collect a fair share of lizards, praying mantises and other creatures that unsuspectedly get caught in my girls' mesh houses.

Kenna went out the other day armed with two ladybug lockets and a bug watch. Poor bugs.

Queen Cayli, however, seems to relish the beauty of fall and was quite content to leave the lizard-catching to her sisters.

One of their assignments this week was to photograph fall colors. Sadly in our area, it's either still very green or red. We do have a little yellow but not a whole lot in between the fall spectrum of colors.

Speaking of vibrant colors...fall brings the state fair at this time of the year. We had fun!

And remember this ugly guy? It's a nasty wheel bug. I've never seen one before and hope I never see another one. Apparently its bite is painful.
Many thanks to my cyber friends who helped me identify this little fellow. Some fellow homeschooling moms also suggested two more sites to our growing list of online bug guides:
Bug Guide
Insect Identification

So, what's your favorite fall activity?

October 14, 2008

The uglier, the better

So, what do you think this thing is? Other than ugggggglllyyyy, that is. You'd think that since I've lived in the country for 4 years now and even graduated from a pretigious country highschool, I would know the precise names of 2-inch-long, 6-legged (so we know it's not a spider), red antennaed, brown and ugly bugs.
But I don't and my fascinated children are on a search. We caught the uglyness and put it into our classy bug condo (gotta love recycled spaghetti sauce jars!) and Kenna proceeded to investigate with a magnifying glass.
While Mabry was looking through a few bug ID guides I asked Kenna what the bug was doing. And she said it was acting like this:
Her drama coach would be proud!
Since eNature and I have come up short on names, do you have an idea of what this thing is?

October 13, 2008

Chore Chart

With dirt-loving, mess-making kids, chores are a necessary evil for our family. Knowing that my kids like checklists and I prefer not to sound like a broken record day after day, I printed off a custom made list from this site. I picked a picture for the top and then typed their name and personalized to-do list, stuck on the fridge and viola! my house is clean.

I kept their lists basic: make your bed, clean your room, unload the dishwasher, fold laundry...But I also added an extra space: Ask Mom. Everyday they have to ask me for something else to do. My list for them is 2-3 miles long, for it includes things like: clean out the car, wash windows, sort laundry, help in the kitchen, etc. Just stuff that doesn't have to be done everyday, but needs to be done when I think about it.

So far, so good. We're on day 4 and they are still checking away. How long do you think this will last?