Saturday, January 30, 2010

From Sun Up Till Sundown

We started the morning at -2 F and a pickup ride to Jim's farm for 50 bales of hay. We're horse people and found ourselves without hay yesterday. So all 7 of us hopped in the F250. It was cold so packing in felt good. We loaded 50 bales on the trailer, gravity in our favor. Once home we hoisted 50 bales of hay into the loft of the tack room/horse shelter, gravity working against us. We got it done; Amber collected piles of loose hay from the trailer and fed it to the horses. I took a few flakes to the chickens to pad their nesting boxes. Emily and Sam had to leave for violin at 10am, but the rest of us stayed home cleaning up to go to a birthday party. We all headed over there at noon and stayed until 3pm when we had to boogie home so I could make my way to church for the annual BBQ Supper and Pie Sale. I was in charge of pricing the pies. Price them low and risk offending the baker; price them high and risk being deemed greedy. It's a delicate balance. Next up is to prepare for Children's Church and then fall into bed exhausted but content. Tomorrow it's off to visit cousins with babies.

I Recommend...

Michael Perry and the Long Beds.

To backtrack a bit, I bought Warren Coop for Christmas. He'd already read Truck and Population 485 and it was all I could do to keep him out of the book store so I could "surprise" him Christmas Eve with Coop. He read it within the next 48 hours. He'd read me just enough passages and I'd snuck off with the book just enough times to know that it would definitely make its way to my "must read" list. I also discovered his blog (Thanks, B) and from a link in his sidebar found out he'd be in our neck of the woods January 29. Perfect! A book reading (my first ever) and a chance to hear the band. And only an hour away with our favorite restaurant marking the half way spot. So we lined up a babysitter which was no small feat. Try finding a babysitter willing to sit for 5 kids at the end of a dead end country road. And even harder is having enough jing to pay said babysitter for watching 5 kids for say, 7 hours. Times are different now days; I remember babysitting 3 kids for $1.00/hour, 40 hours a week all summer. Let's just say last night cost us more than I earned in a 1985 week.

So he quietly walks on stage wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and carpenter jeans. He has this well they paid for this so I might as well read something attitude and then has the crowd roaring with laughter within the first couple of sentences. This was quite easily the best performance I've seen next to anything my kids have ever done of course. One minute my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so hard and the next that spot under my chin where it curves into neck hurt from trying to hold back the tears. And if I'm not mistaken he even had a mist in his eyes when reading his memoir of preparing for the birth of his daughter.

Be prepared, though, if you get a chance to attend a reading you will walk away with a serious understanding of the pain and resulting heroism of passing a kidney stone. You might want chickens. You might Google M.C. Escher illusions. If you have a secret yearning to give birth at home, you'll definitely want to drink tea with Leah. And for the entrepreneurs, Timothy hay will be your next big endeavor.

Then the band played and they were all great. I've been thinking all day of stepping outside the box of classical violin and trying my hand at a little fiddle. But I cannot express how much I loved the acoustic bass guitar. Before last night I recognized two types of guitars: electric and acoustic. But the long haired bass player with the overgrown mustache-you know the kind that stores lunch's best crumbs for a mid-afternoon snack-he made the best music on that longnecked guitar. The deep bum, bum, bum hooked me right in. I'm listening right now.

Now do yourself a favor and go read some Michael Perry.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So, I'm Weird

Sam: Amber, mom put apples on top of the pork. Really, she did. And guess what? Now she's putting onions on top too. I'm not eating it.

They both ate it and lived.

I actually wanted to watch the State of the Union address. It's amazing how becoming a parent, homeschooling mom, business owner and taxpayer has made me so much more interested in politics and what's happening in Washington D.C.

Happy Birthday Nick!

He's 11 today. He grew 1 3/4 inch. His feet increased 2 whole sizes. His hair is a bit longer. He's still my Nickel Pickle. And still he doesn't like cake so we have pumpkin pie and whipped cream. I'm totally ok with that.

His list of gifts hits me in the face that he's growing up:
turkey call
shotgun shells
digital camera
digital watch (no more analog for this cool kid)
And then a few things from his siblings:
Fruit Stripe Gum
Whoopie Cushion
Mini Whinnies (for his farm setup)
We all love you Nick!!!!!

They Think I Know Everything

Sam: Mom, how do you say dinosaur in Spanish?

Considering my knowledge of Spanish consists of a 3 week mini course in 6th grade and a review of the colors in a Shapes board book, I didn't have an answer for him.

Friday, January 22, 2010

From the 5 Year Old

Mom, I'm going out to the hayloft to get some privacy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Homeschool Update

I'm always trying new ways of practicing spelling words. I saw this idea somewhere online, but can't give credit because I don't remember. But what I did was write out the alphabet on small Post-Its. The reason for the two colors is that I ran out of pink, but if I was thinking I would've done the vowels one color and consonants another color. That would have added to the lesson. Some of the letters had to be doubled. I put them in alphabetical order on a large sheet of paper and then Amber practiced her spelling words by grabbing the letters and sticking them in the open space below. I like this idea for two reasons.
#1 - the act of pulling the letters from the alphabet and sticking them in order is very concrete. 8 year olds need concrete ways of learning to help the ideas stick.
#2 - I like that she has to find the letters in the alphabet. By doing this it enforces the order of the alphabet. She can sing the alphabet, but one thing I notice is when given a letter and asked what comes before it and after it she has to whisper sing the alphabet at mach speed until she reaches that certain letter to identify the before and after. Is this common? Thinking back, I faintly remember Emily and Nick doing this as well.

Over at Chasing Cheerios I saw this number wheel idea. Samuel loves to count and can count to 100 except for the simple fact that he skips 11-19. Here's what he does: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 21, 22......98, 99, 100. I thought I could use her idea to enforce the counting of 11-19. I traced a large bowl on a large sheet of paper and then divided it into 10 pizza slices. I used smiley stickers in the amounts of 10-19 depending on the "slice". Then I grabbed some pinch clothespins I had on hand and wrote the number 10-19 on them. The idea is that he counts the smiley faces and then pinches on the correct clothespin. I thought it was a brilliant idea; he doesn't like it. "It's just easier to skip all these numbers."

Pilgrims of the Holy Family is a badge earning program on order of Boy or Girl Scouts. It can be done as a family, individually or with a group. Emily and Nicholas both started this program last January (2009). They go in spurts with it, working like crazy to check off as many tasks as possible and then the book gets tucked away and forgotten until something triggers a thought about it and out it comes and the cycle continues. Nick finished Archery, Model Building, Collections, Wilderness Survival, Camping and Wood Tools throughout the last year. We presented him with his badges earlier this week and now he's on a mission to earn Fire Safety, Fishing, Cooking, Nature and Woodworking. For kids who love task lists this is an excellent program to involve them in. This week my smoke detectors have been tested, a bow string for his recurve bow has been made, he Googled and demonstrated the 9 steps to proper archery shooting and made homemade Ham and Potato Soup for tonight's supper. The onions were getting the best of his tear ducts. I suggested the cracker method only to find him a few minutes later implementing his own idea - Airsoft goggles.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Shoes

I used this tutorial for making baby shoes. The directions were perfectly clear and so easy to follow. I would call them slippers, especially if made for an older child. I enlarged the pattern to 112% of the original so they would fit Little J who wears a size 4 infant shoe. He has plenty of room in them and for future shoes I plan to make them a tad bit narrower.

They are similar to Robeez shoes. I used regular felt for the sole which is pilling quickly.

Next time I will use something different for the sole or maybe just cover the felt as they suggest in the directions.

A Week of Sickness

Twelve years of mothering and I had a first this week. Our first case of strep throat. Nick came down with a sore throat and cough Monday night. We treated it with cough drops, Triaminic Cough and Sore Throat, tea, cold yogurt and lots of rest. And yet it prevailed; he couldn't eat, could barely drink. No change by Thursday afternoon so I called for an appointment and took him in Friday morning. The verdict - strep throat and probably a viral cold. Dr. H. said normally strep throat and phlegmy coughs don't go together. But that's what he has. After only 3 doses of antibiotics he is wrestling with Sam, picking on Amber and planning a lunch of two grilled cheese sandwiches and an afternoon snowmobile ride.

Little J woke up Sunday morning around 2am with an extremely stuffy nose. He wanted to nurse, but could only suck, suck, suck, let go, swallow, breathe, repeat. He's been a little more tired this week, but his stuffy nose changed to a runny nose and now it's drying up. Yeah!

He Makes Me Laugh

Warren made Marian's Pancakes for breakfast. Thank you! Thank you! He caught me checking him out. He donned his red union suit (complete with seat flap) and slippers (handmade by me from a felted Goodwill sweater). He really looked like something....but what I don't know. He looked over at me and said, "I know...fashion follows me."

In between flipping pancakes he sat reading his farm paper. The front page article was titled How to Develop a Relationship with your Banker. Warren couldn't let this one go by. He said, "Give them your money, they don't take your stuff."

Mornings with him are bearable, actually laughable.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


For the Feast of Epiphany we made a three kings poster and did the traditional blessing of the home. It'd been 4 years since our last blessing so I'd say it was about time we updated the chalk above our door. Where did the time go?

Little J's little bibs weren't doing the trick any longer. So it was time to pull out the cereal box bib template and use up some scraps. My mother-in-law made bibs for Emily and Nick, but those are long gone. I do have some of her fabric left, so in her honor we used as much of it as we could.Gingerbread houses made with graham crackers, Royal Icing and plenty of candies.

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Emily learned how to make fleecy tie blankets at a friend's house and so she made one for Little J as a carseat cover. It's just the right size without all that overhang to get in the way.