Saturday, July 30, 2005

Close Quarters

We made a road trip to Manitowoc yesterday. What a perfect day. We stopped at a picnic area along Lake Michigan and wow was it windy. We ate our lunch, walked among the seagulls and watched a young man attempt to surf. Our main destination was the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. The U.S.S. Cobia submarine is stationed there for tourists to get a glimpse into what life was like on the sub during wartime. The sub was fascinating, with the tight sleeping quarters (they slept above and below live torpedos), diesel engines and the intense heat (90 - 100 degrees). The rest of the museum offered many history lessons in early fishing, speed boating and a great exhibit for kids. Waterways of Wisconsin was a hands on room where the kids could build a boat and then sail their boat through the many examples of waterways including locks and dams, draw bridges, water wheels. And yes this all happened in real water. They offered plastic aprons to lesson the amount of water that actually got on the kids. Lou came away soaking wet. After all that fun we headed over to Beerstens for homemade icecream and hand dipped chocolates. We went for a drive through the town and then headed for home.

We have moved on to Farmer Boy. I love this book. I see the surprise in my kids eyes when Almonzo acts so mature for 9 years old. Hopefully some of his politeness and taking responsibility for his actions wears off on my kids.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eat Your Greens

With July coming to close, that can only mean one thing: fresh garden produce is abundant. I have more zucchini than I know what to do with. I started by grating it and going on a baking frenzy. Luckily, the average high temperature has dropped by about 10-15 degrees today. I made 8 loaves of zucchini bread (substituted 1/4 cup oatmeal for 1 cup of nuts) and one chocolate zucchini snack cake (very yummy). There were cheers of approval when Lee tasted and LIKED the zucchini bread and the cake; last year he wouldn't even try it. He's my picky eater, although I have to say that since he's working towards 7 years old, he is willing to try more and eat more. Then he went out to the butterfly garden, picked a chive and ate it. What is happening to my predictable kid, where has he gone? Tonight he tried Tortellini Soup. While chewing the tortellini and mixed vegetables he gagged, but was still able to keep it down. Again that is a huge change from just last week when he found a soft spot on a strawberry and wouldn't eat anymore of them.

Love to Learn catalog came in the mail today. That catalog has an uncanny ability to get me revved up for another school year. I marked all the books to locate in the library, a few games to check for on ebay and a couple of things to buy.

Grace told my Aunt Lorraine that she's supposed to be doing school this summer, but isn't because I forgot that we were planning on continuing during the summer. I haven't bursted her bubble, but I didn't forget, I just realized that between ballet, tap dance, violin lessons, guitar lessons, piano lessons, frog catching, reading, playing with friends, picnicing, swimming, running and bike riding we simply do not have time for mindless school work. "And what about socialization?" Yeah, what about it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lazy Dayz

It's been a lazy day for Lee and Lou. They spent 2 hours and 15 minutes listening to the unabridged version of Moose Tracks. Ray napped the entire time and I made Cottage Potatoes, a June/July Taste of Home recipe. The potatoes were well worth the effort. There was a lot of chopping. Anyway, today was the perfect day to try the recipe. The house was quiet, except for the story narrator. I was able to listen along with the kids, yet get something accomplished. Moose Tracks is an excellent story about a 12 year old boy from Northern Minnesota. He gets himself into a bit of trouble with some bear poachers. Of course, his father is a game warden. In the end it all works out and Seth learns a few valuable lessons about obeying one's parents, living in a blended family and how natural consequences work. A tiny part of the story revolves around the fact that he is homeschooled. That part was not included in the jacket description so it was a pleasant surprise.

Grace is at a friend's today. I guess Sierra got a new playhouse, so she needed some help decorating and organizing the space. Grace is just the one to help with that. She really has an eye for style; hard to believe she's only 7.

We got a request for 4 dozen eggs. Hopefully Irene will trade zucchini and cucumbers for the eggs. She's in her 80's and still has an acre sized garden, "just to have something to give away to my elderly friends". She's great and I'm sure we'll play some cards with her before we head back home.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Another Hot One

Today it's revving up for another 90+ degree day. Before noon and it's already 85 degrees. I realize how fortunate I was to have Ray last summer when it never got over 90 degrees all summer. Breastfeeding in the heat gets pretty steamy. Grace has a friend over. All they want to do is watch PBS. I shooed them outside for a while to run through the sprinkler. When I looked out they were all lying on the grass, tummy down, letting the sprinkler go over them. Since the grass is dead (we don't have a sprinkler system and our yard is far to large to try to sprinkle) they came in covered in what looked like bits of straw. I noticed a bit ago that my sofa now looks like a hay stack.

I've been perusing the book, Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. I'll have a 2nd grader, 1st grader and 2 youngens come fall. I love putting together a general outline for each month. For some reason homeschooling just becomes a way of life and I can't let it go. Even on those lazy days of summer I'm always thinking about a book to read about clouds or identifying frogs or what have you. It's also time to make a list, and check it twice, of needed supplies. Grace is dying to learn to sew. She's done a few pillow projects and a couple of hand sewing endeavors, but she wants to make something real. I guess a pillow for her doll and a neatly stitched stuffed animal aren't considered real in her eyes. Lee and I are going to get back into learning chess and Lou is totally ready to learn to write her ABC's. Most days she "writes" with sidewalk chalk. She writes a lot of A's, T's, and O's. Time to expand on this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Four Generations

We picked up Lou from Grandma's today. She spent two nights there. Then we all, including Grandma, went to Great grandma and Great grandpa's house for a visit. There was lots of talk about who went on what vacation, who was having what medical problem and just basic family chattering. We all played the piano. Grace and I shared our songs that we've been learning at home, while Lee played a song that he is trying to learn from memory. He heard the song Surfboard Boogie played at a piano recital and is now trying to play it from memory. He has absolutely no piano instruction, but has the rhythm down and some of the notes. Lou and Grace did a little ballet for all the old folks. We ate wild rice and ham soup, that I made, which my mom didn't like and fresh blueberry pie that great grandma made, which Lee didn't like. He's not much for cooked fruits. He likes fresh fruit best. The kids played with bubbles and set up the ring toss. Of course, it's 91 degrees today and too hot to be out for very long. They ended up coming in to watch Ma and Pa Kettle: Return to the Farm. My grandparents find it hilarious as do the kids. It's not very politically correct, but sometimes I just have to grin and bare it.

We're home now and everyone is tired. Daddy Lee hooked a sprinkler head with the round-up machine and ended up dumping Round-Up on a patch of cranberry vines. Tomorrow they will be dead and will not produce fruit for this fall's harvest. He's not in the mood for my sarcastic humor either.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Cooking Kids

Grace and Lou are baking gingerbread men. Yes, it is 86 degrees. Yes, it is July. Yet they found this recipe in their ABC cookbook and decided to give it a try. Grace has been cooking with me since she was able to sit up on the counter. Her skills are phenomenal for a 7 year old. Lou on the other hand is 3 and has not had as many chances to cook with me, having 2 older siblings getting in the way. Anyway, it's going great; I've been called in three times to help.
*How do I measure 3/4 teaspoon?
*Look at this mixture!
*Does this look right?
Now the dough needs to chill. This was devastating for Grace to read. She is a NOW girl. Waiting is not her forte. She's setting the timer for 1 hour. I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Where have I been? We have been at the beach, visiting friends, camping, attending ballet, tap, guitar and violin lessons, hanging with family at family reunions and doing tons of laundry. I finally made time to blog and read other blogs. I did check out some new blogs, but can't seem to get my link icon work to direct you to them.

One cute thing said by Lou, who is three. At the supper table the other night we were talking about golden birthdays and when each of us had ours or will have it. Lou will be 4 on September 4. It will be her golden birthday. Later in the week we were at Walgreens; Lou saw a sand toy that she liked. She kept asking me if I would come back and buy it for her metal birthday. After about three times of asking her to repeat it (because I had no idea what she meant) she said, "you know 4 on the 4th, my metal birthday". It finally came to me that she meant golden birthday, but had forgotten the name of the metal. Very cute.