Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time Keeps on Slipping...

I know I say this all the time, but I really need to blog more often. The longer I put it off the more time it takes and then the less likely I am to do it because time is not something I have a lot of these days. I am getting good at doing everything one handed again with baby in arms. It's like riding a bike, you really never forget... You wouldn't believe how many pictures I really have. This is such a small sample. If I blogged more often I also wouldn't have to cut so many adorable things out either! Would you read it if I blogged more often? I have been contemplating my purpose for blogging again. It is easy to get caught up in the desire to have lots of people read my blog and make me feel like I have a little corner of fame. I can easily convince myself that I have something to offer the blog world and am worthy of many followers. Then I remember, I blog so that I can keep a great record of memories and fun things and so I can share them with friends and families, not so I can be a "famous" blogger. I'm realizing that "fame" is not so difficult to attain these days with youtube and blogs and the like. It sort of takes the glamour out of it when you can manipulate your own fame. What am I talking about anyway?! On to the memories and fun things!! Some of our friends gave my children a few taps for our maple trees. The sap season was very short this year because of the unusually warm weather we had a few weeks back but that didn't stop us from getting some of the sweetest syrup we've ever had from our own back yard! Jason helped the kids tap the tree
and then we boiled and boiled and boiled. I peeled some of the paint off the wall above the stove. Ooops!
Amelia thought this was all very interesting.
This is how much syrup we ended up with.  A little less than 2 pints.  It is a lot of work for a little syrup but since this much syrup would cost around $8.00 at the store and it cost us nothing to make it, it is definitely worth it!
My beautiful niece turned 5 last month!! I can't believe she is that old. Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was with my sister in the hospital waiting (and waiting and waiting) for her to be born. My sister threw her a Rapunzel party. It was one of the best parties ever. She found so many cute ideas and did an amazing job. I know Madi will remember it always.  She had me make this tower cake out of donuts.  It was cute and easy!!
She hung a looooong Rapunzel braid out of the window so the arriving guests would know they had come to the right place. So cute!
The guests made these adorable party blowers to look like Pasquel, the adorable chameleon in the movie Tangled.  My sister even attached little braids to the party hats. 

Amelia and Jason opted out on the party hats, even though they could both have benefited from the extra hair...
The guests played pin the frying pan on Flinn Ryder.  If you saw Tangled, you'll get it.  I thought this was really funny. 
The day of Madi's party also happened to be St. Patty's Day.  I bought Amelia a special bow with shamrocks just for the occasion.  She was a good sport about it for a short time.
All six of my mom and dad's beautiful grandchildren! 
We really enjoyed the beautiful weather a few weeks ago.  We spent as much time as possible outside.  One morning we went to a homeschool park day and got together with some old friends and made some new ones.  Even though it wasn't a bad winter, we stayed in a lot with the baby and it felt good to get out and be with our friends again.
Interlude of cuteness...

It is story contest season again.  Every year since Isabella was in 1st grade (and she one first place *braggy mommy voice inferred*) we have entered the PBS kids story contest.  Sadly, Bella and Hannah were too old for the contest this year but they entered a writing contest sponsored by the Mystic Aquarium.  They had to compose a journal entry pretending that they were a passenger on the Titanic on the day that it set sail.  They had to choose from a list of real passengers and do a little research about the person and about the Titanic in general.  They really enjoyed it.  Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the day the Titanic's maiden voyage.  Ians birthday, the 14th, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking. The girls really enjoyed doing their research and both wrote great journal entries.

 Isaac and Ian wrote really awesome stories for the PBS contest this year.  Ian's story is called "One Million Gluten Free Dollars".  It is about a boy who is at the fair and he hears about a contest to win 1 million dollars but you have to eat a loaf of wheat bread.  The boy didn't think that was fair since he is gluten free so he asks to eat gluten free bread.  The judges say yes and even though the bread is gross because it isn't toasted, he eats it the fastest and wins the prize money.  He buys 5 bounce houses and uses the rest of the money to make the whole world gluten free so it is fair for everyone.  It is a very "Ian" story.  I love that kid.
Isaac's story is titled "Writer's Block" and it is about a boy who is trying to come up with story ideas in his room.  While he is thinking he imagines things like he's riding a dragon or flying a plane or racing a motorcycle.  His mom keeps interrupting his daydreaming to ask him if he has any story ideas yet, and he keeps saying "no".  In the end they boy decides to write a story about not being able to think of story ideas.  Very clever in my opinion!
My kids ask me to do a lot of crafts and messy things. I find myself saying "no" sometimes because I don't want to clean up messes later. I am realizing, however, that they are getting much bigger and can clean up their own messes so I am saying "yes" more often. When Ian asked me the other day if he could melt crayons over a candle to make a picture, I said "yes".
When Bella asked me to make a melted crayon picture that we had seen on Pinterest, I said "yes". 
This was very mess.  I had green wax drops ALL over my bathroom.  I still do have green wax drops in my bathroom but I'm ok with it. 
Her picture came out really cool.  It is worth a little green wax in the bathroom.  (It makes the bathroom mirror slide better anyway lol). 
I also said "yes" to a fort made of cinder blocks and some old cable that I used to use for garden stakes.  There are many (many many) days when I wish I had a yard that looked nice but on this day, I was glad that I have a yard that it is ok to build cinder block forts with cable and carpet tubes.  A few days later they moved the cinder blocks further into the woods and built a wall with mud mortar.  I cringe when I look out the window but Amira reminded me that these are precious memories being made and they are learning while they do it without even knowing it.  Someday, I do hope to have a nice yard though...

Here is our little Choochie.  I think she gets called Choochie or Chooch, more than Amelia.  She is wearing a necklace made out of hazel wood.  I did some research and found that hazel wood helps with acid reflux and rashes.  She was spitting up a lot and has a lot of diaper rash so I decided to give it a try.  It certainly is a cute remedy!  She has been wearing it for about 2 weeks.  I have noticed a definite decrease in the spitting up.  The diaper rash is a little less too.  I'm not completely convinced it is the necklace.  I plan to keep it on her for another week or two and then go a few days without and see if it makes a difference.  Maybe it is my imagination but either way, it looks so cute around her pudgy little neck.
Have you ever tried LaraBars?  They are really delicious and they only have a few ingredients.  They are very expensive, however.  I decided to try to make my own and when I did so successfully, I decided to take cool pictures of them like a real foodie blogger.  Maybe I'll become a famous food blogger...oh wait, I'm not doing the famous thing...never mind.

Last week we took part in a geography fair. It was really fun. The did their research on Kenya since Hannah's Dad, Don and brother Jacob just got back from there a few weeks ago.  There were about 25 countries represented at the homeschool geography fair.  The kids each received a passport when they arrived and they went from country to country collecting information.  Many of the countries had food samples too, it was like "around the world in 80 minutes". 
Our homeschool community is getting bigger and bigger every year! 

One child made this mini Stonehenge.  I thought it was so cute lol!
At the end, children were asked to volunteer to come up and say "Hello" in the language of their country.  Isabella (after a little persuasion) went up and said "Jambo Sasa" which is the Swahili way of saying hello, but generally only to tourists haha.
My kids love coloring eggs. Every year I try to do something to make it a little different. Last year we did a lot of different techniques. This year I decided we would make our own natural dye instead of buying the little tabs.  We made red dye from boiled red onion skins, orange from boiled yellow onion skins, yellow from boiled turmeric, green from boiled spinach, blue from boiled red cabbage leaves, purple from grape juice and pink from pickled beet juice.  All of the dyes had vinegar in them too.  The kids were a little apprehensive about this approach but they humored me.  In the end our eggs came out pretty good.  The "red" dye turned the eggs a golden khaki sort of color and the green didn't really work well but everything else came out nice.  The kids had fun "tasting" the dyes at the end too.  
On Saturday we went to my mom's to celebrate Easter.  My mom bought her granddaughters their adorable Easter outfits and they  looked beautiful frolicking around the yard hunting for eggs.  The boys and Kimmy's dog Roxy looked pretty cute too

Uncle Rod took the kids for a spin in my mom's new golf cart.  I love my family!
Amelia really loved the gifts she got from her Rara and her Auntie Angela.  She's a little snuggle bunny.
Every year I struggle with trying to keep Jesus as the focus of Easter (and Christmas).  I don't mind fun traditions and games like egg hunts but I don't like when those things become more important than what we are really celebrating, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As a Christian, I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ everyday because without it, I would still be dead in my sins.  He didn't just die for my sins, He rose again and that is what made all the difference.  If He didn't rise again, it wouldn't matter that he died...but He did rise again.  I do my best to share and celebrate this with my kids all year, not just at Easter.  Why am I sharing all of this?  Because I don't have cute pictures of me talking to my kids about Jesus.  They don't dress up in Jesus ears and get Jesus baskets so there isn't a great deal of adorable "activities" to take pictures of but it is a much greater part of our lives than all of these other things combined.  It often gets left out of the blog but I guess I just need to note, that it isn't left out of our lives.  It is the most important part.

We had a little egg hunt at our house on Sunday too.  We always mix the "Resurrection Eggs" in with the other eggs in the hunt and when they are all collected the kids sit down and open the Resurrection Eggs to tell the Resurrection story.  It is a great tradition.  We also have a tradition of hunting for the silver and golden eggs.  The contents of the silver and golden egg varies from year to year but is always much better than the rest of the eggs.  This year Hannah found the silver egg pretty quickly.  It contained a certificate for a day off from school.  

The golden egg proved very elusive this year.  Jacob and Don did a good job hiding it. The kids searched for a loooong time.  It was almost painful to watch.  They each stood or sat right on the spot it was hidden at least once.  Bella is sitting on it below but has no clue.
Finally, that shiny gold caught Ian's eye and he found the golden egg!  It had a (homemade) $10.00 gift card to Target.  He was pretty excited.  He nearly ripped the retaining wall apart when he found it.  It was fun to watch.
We have a lot of great things coming up.  Ian's 7th birthday is this weekend, Bella and Hannah have been asked to participate in the Youth Environmental Summit in May, and we have been working diligently on our research papers to present them in June.  The kids are all looking forward to taking their standardized tests I'm serious, they are actually looking forward to it.  I had never tested them until last year and the girls liked taking the tests and they asked to be tested again.  How can I say no to that!