Monday, September 28, 2009

Brotherly (and sisterly) Love

Just a few random shots of our kids together. How very, very blessed we are to have this beautiful family. And how very, very blessed they are to have each other. It's the moments like this that make every little argument and struggle between them melt away in memories.

Finny and Goose have one matching outfit. Finny always makes sure to dress Goose in it when he picks his own out.

Punky and Goose are like two peas in a pod. And Goose just adores that biggest brother of his!

Look at those kids! I just love this shot.

A quiet moment between Punky and Finny as they enjoy a cold treat on a hot day.

The whole gang (minus me - the photographer) on our hike to some local ice caves. A little bit of everything... Batman, Transformers, big rubber boots, pig tails, and a big Daddy to show them everything he can about the world around them all.

Finny showing Goose the ropes of this whole alphabet thing. They are doing so well together in their school stuff. Finny really seems to like the role of mentor with the basics. It's great reinforcement for him, and Goose of course loves the attention and time spent with his brother.

Punky and Finny enjoying a new load of books from the library together. I love when I catch one of the big boys reading to the others. It just melts my heart.

Goose and Girly Pie going for a little walk around the house with the babies. What you can't see is that they are both wearing babies on their backs, as well. (And lest you think we have a zillion copies of everything, we don't own all the babies - most are on loan from our local library from their nifty new learning kits) These two are so cute together. They really do enjoy a special connection that I so enjoy watching unfold!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Caves and swords and pretzels, Oh My!

I've been a little behind on posting about our school stuff, but that's only because it's going very well, and my time is spent planning and doing stuff with the kids, so I have very little computer time these days.

And I spent all day hiking for a big field trip (I love school days on Sunday!) for our caves and caverns study which we finished up over a week ago, so I'm heading to bed in a minute and can't post much now!

But we are currently doing a little study on the history of weapons. My Punky has loved weapons since long before he could talk. I wondered what I had done wrong as I watched my precious 7 month old son banging and beating on everything in the house with any object he could lift in his hands. He loves sticks, swords, bows & arrows, axes, spears... and guns (though I personally have a very strong dislike of guns and we do not allow toy guns in the house, nor do we let the boys play with them elsewhere, much to Punky's dismay).

So just for fun I thought we'd study something I KNEW he'd not only love but be completely and utterly enamoured with. And so we are. And he is indeed smitten.

We're doing it on a very basic level, just hitting the main weapons with a mild overview of the historical timeline from the stone age to now and only stopping to focus on those that grab out interest... Vikings, castles, likely a few more modern wars... We're also doing a little overview of simple machines and I look forward to seeing what my Little Engineer That Could will come up with in his spare time for creations. The boy has already made a stunning array of weapons over Week 1. I can only imagine the fun to come...

We also ordered a little wooden trebuchet kit, so the boys will be surprised and delighted when that comes in the mail and we tackle that puppy! I know they'll be inventing their own trebuchets and catapults to go with the real kit, but it was still a fun treat! And my hope is to whip up a batch of pretzel dough one day this week and let them make little pretzel swords and daggers (and guns, I'm sure) for snack. I'm pretty sure that will be almost as big of a hit as the trebuchet kit!

So that's where we are. The other non-unit study basics are still going well for Punky. The little boys are having fun learning together. Finny is doing really well with his current OT activities. Girly Pie is changing her nap time on me which is making me jump around a bit on my happy little schedule, but we'll get in a new groove soon enough. And I'm enjoying my time with them all more then ever!

Who could ask for anything more?

Oh, and the boys will start reading a slightly modified (shorter and cleaner) version of The Three Musketeers this week with their Daddy.

It's going to be a busy house around here... I wonder what they'll think of next to use as swords. ;o)

Monday, September 14, 2009

VERY quick update

No time to write about our FABULOUS vacation right now.

But we're home and mostly caught up with laundry and unpacking.

And it's Monday and we're on schedule and it feels SO GOOD to be back in the groove of daily life.

I am telling you - I am so pleased right now with how our days are going and how great I feel and how smoothly everything is running. I know these great times are never permanent, but it's good stuff.

It's going to be a good week. I just know it!

Oh - and for anyone keeping track and wondering... I'm 19 weeks along today and feeling great and loving how often this little guy wiggles. I still feel "newly" pregnant, but I'll be half way to term next Monday. Crazy how time flies by when you're so busy enjoying the rest of God's blessings in life! I need to remember to sit down and enjoy the ride with this here baby, too, before my pregnancy is over and I miss the whole thing!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A recipe worth keeping

I love this play dough recipe and have found it to be the very best. I have tried others, but inevitably they end up too sticky or too hard or too lumpy, or too something. ;o)

Well, I lost my beloved recipe for a while and have been using other recipes for close to a year now. I get so discouraged every time I make an inferior batch that I have even resorted to buying real Play Dough again! So knowing we’re due for a new batch soon, tonight in near desperation I took out every recipe in my whole recipe file.. and I FOUND IT!!! (It was in the dessert file of all places. Hmm… wonder what I was thinking when I put it in there! I must have been pregnant or had a newborn at the time…)

So I am posting a copy of the recipe here so that if I do somehow lose the little card again I will have a back up copy on my hard drive as well as on the web. There may be a better recipe out there somewhere, but I have yet to find it. So for now, I’m sticking with what I know and love!

Best Play Dough (and it is indeed well named!)

Boil 2 cups water, add food color (Just keep adding drops until you like the color of the water – go darker than you think, it gets much lighter when mixed with the rest of the ingredients.) and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Remove from heat and add: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 2 Tbsp alum. Mix well, and knead when cool enough to do so. As you knead, add handfuls of flour as needed until it reaches the best consistency. (This is a great part for the kids to help with, as long as you let it cool enough that they can help without making their sensitive hands too tender) Store in a Ziploc. Refrigeration is not necessary (I never have and it lasts months and months) but I believe it does make it last longer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Meme

I saw this on a lovely blog I follow and thought it would be fun to do as well Feel free to post one yourself. It seems to me that almost every mom enjoys reminiscing over her labor stories. So here's one more opportunity to do so. I know with my fifth labor coming up in a few months, I love thinking over all the details of the other four!

How long were your labors?
Punky – Technically, 4 hours and 51 minutes. But I only KNEW I was in labor for about 2 hours and 40 minutes
Finny - 3 1/2 hours
Goose - 8 1/2 hours (milder than the others, but the longest by far, he was posterior for most of it)
Girly Pie - 2 1/2 hours +/-

How did you know you were in labor?
Punky - After two hours of what seemed like very regular - though not very painful - Braxton-Hicks contractions, I was trying to convince Hubby that this time might really be it. Then my water broke. So that's when I KNEW it was labor. And boy, once the first contraction hit after that, there was no confusing them with Braxton-Hicks contractions anymore!
Finny - I woke up to pee at midnight thinking I was having back pain from sleeping on my back. When I lay back down in bed though the first full labor contraction hit and I just knew it. It was just like the post-water-breakage contractions with Punky 23 months prior.
Goose - I was late and just waiting for it. So when I woke up at 6am with slightly intense contractions, I just planned to have him that day. I figured even if it wasn't full labor yet, I knew it would HAVE to get there - he was already 6 days late! But when My midwife arrived and broke my water at noon saying, "We're gonna just have this baby today either way." I think that's when I finally knew FOR SURE that it was indeed THE DAY. ;o) One of the many reasons I love Darlene. She knows when enough is enough. ;o)
Girly Pie - Woken up at 1 or 1:30 am with labor contractions. They were full-on right away just like with Finny so I just knew. I had been dilated to 4 already at my appointment the day before, too.

Where did you deliver?
Punky - Local hospital 20 minutes from home
Finny - At home
Goose - At home again, but in our new house
Girly Pie - At home again, same house as Goose (first two babies born in the same place!)

Punky - Well the mean nurse at the hospital didn't believe my water had broken, so she wouldn't check me for dilation. Finally after watching me writhe around for a while in utter agony, and seeing that the little monitor barely showed one contraction ending before the next began, she thought maybe I was further along than they suspected. Up until this point they told me I probably had 8-12 hours to go for a first labor, so yes, I asked for drugs. (they also forced me to decide then and there, since the anesthesiologist wanted to go home so I had to make up my mind, darnit.). But they finally checked me and I was already at 8cm, and I was pushing Punky out before they could even get the darn IV inserted. So I never got the drugs, and had I known that my intense pain was pretty much because the baby was crowning and that my pain would soon be over, I wouldn't even have asked for them.
Finny - No.
Goose - No. But being that he was the longest I'd ever had, I do remember feeling a little annoyed at laboring at home knowing I had no chance for relief should it go on much longer. But that was "the wall" and he was born a few contractions later. Funny how that works, huh?
Girly Pie - No.

Punky - No.
Finny - No.
Goose - No.
Girly Pie - No.

Who delivered?
Punky - Our family practitioner at the time. She was the kind of small town doctor that actually came to our son's first birthday party! After she moved away we never did find another doctor we liked as much.
Finny - My wonderful midwife Darlene. Finny was her 5th delivery in 4 days. She was so tired from not having slept for so many days that when I called her in labor at 1am she actually cried. ;o) But she came with a back up midwife just to be safe, and she was very thankful for the super fast delivery. He was born less than an hour after her arrival.
Goose - Darlene again.
Girly Pie - Darlene again, of course.

(And a bonus question) How long were you pregnant?
Punky - 39 weeks, 5 days
Finny - 39 weeks, 2 days
Goose - 40 weeks, 6 days
Girly Pie - 39 weeks, 6 days

Anybody else care to share?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beach time....

And we're off.

Time for our 4th annual September trip to Ocean Shores.

We'll be building monster sand castles and finding dozens of sand dollars. We'll be driving our Suburban up and down the beach until we find the perfect spot to park for the day and feeding french fries to seagulls just for the fun of it. We'll be swimming in the hotel pool until our fingers and toes look like raisins. We'll be wearing shorts and winter coats and our toes will be numb and blue but we'll still be happily jumping waves along the shore. We'll be flying kites and mini golfing and cramming into a few beds in a hotel room meant for two or three people. We'll be up late playing Uno, Zilch, Polish Poker and Yahtzee. And we'll be eating meals cooked by someone OTHER than me. Which is just so lovely I can't even tell you.
Goose testing out the shallow water pools left behind at low tide, 2008

It's going to be a great week. Four kids, two parents and one Grandpa. 1, 3, 5 and 7 year old kiddos make for a fun, fun week at the beach.

Finny and Punky in the water from our 2008 trip

It's going to be GREAT!!!

Girly Pie relaxing on the beach at 4 months old, her first trip, 2008

Just because she's so dang cute...

Girly Pie at just shy of 16 months old.

She backed her way into this little "cave" of pampas grass in our front yard

Daddy was there to snap a few shots of her as she smiled at him from her little hideaway

This girl is just so stinking cute. Seriously.

Friday, September 4, 2009


So with all the big, fun efforts I have been putting into our "big kid" school... I have to laugh that today, the two minute prep I put into a little guy project to keep mostly Goose and partly Finny occupied for the last 20 minutes of our school time turned out to be WAY more exciting for both Finny and Punky than anything else I had planned for them this morning!

After watching Finny and Goose wander off towards making Zoob diving gear, I was inspired to do a quick letter D craft. The craft is just to make a big D and then "dot" it with Q-Tips dipped in paint. ("duh-duh-Dotty D") Fun. Simple. Educational. Perfect for Pre-K and K. So while we were doing the D's, Finny asked why we were doing D, and I said that diver starts with D, and since they liked divers so much, I thought it would be fun to do the letter D.

Of course he immediately wanted to make a little construction paper diver, which of course sent up Punky's radar and he was right there ready to give up a bit of free Lego time to join in on the paper diver fun. So I threw out some quick constructing paper body parts and a pack of brads and let the big boys go to town. Goose happily wandered off after 10 minutes of poking a Q-Tip into paint blobs and dotting his construction paper D's. He had no interest in making a paper diver at all.

So there you go. One of the many joys of homeschooling with multiple aged children around. You just never know what you'll do, or what they'll find the most joy in doing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fun times!

Just two seconds before I need to go back to the action...

But it's Thursday of Week One of our unit studies, and it's going GREAT!!!

We're doing a study on caves and caverns, and the kids are really enjoying themselves. There is so much we could explore, but with only aiming for the kindergarten and second grade levels, I'm keeping things fun and simple. They are getting info, but not an overwhelming (read: boring) amount of it.

So far this week we've: read a great kids book on caves and caverns, learned about the different types of caves and how they are formed, discussed both the evolutionist and creationist theories of how limestone caves were formed, learned about many different types of limestone cave formations, explored the internet for pictures of caves and cave paintings, learned specifically about the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, formed our own clay and sugar cube versions of limestone caves (we'll finish them soon and watch the sugar "limestone" dissolve leaving behind solid clay) and made our own cave paintings on rocks. And that's just been since Tuesday! We still have cave animals to discover, bats to study, a real cave expedition to undertake... and so much more!

So I have to say that between the interest led unit we're doing and the schedule allowing me to make specific times in the day to do our activities, it's really going great.

OK. Back to cave painting. I think Miss Girly Pie is tiring of her play-dough distraction while the boys paint. Time to entertain the baby. ;o)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009



60 seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 24 hours in a day. 7 days in a week. 52 weeks in a year.

It is what it is and it doesn't change – at least it hasn't in my lifetime.

And yet, it can feel so very different from one day, one month, one season to the next. Some days you wonder how you will ever make it to dinner time, and other days suddenly it’s 20 minutes past your normal dinner hour and you look up and wonder in amazement, “Where did the day go?”

A few weeks back I felt like I had so very, very much to do and so very, VERY little time in which to do it all. I felt robbed of all that I wanted to do and overwhelmed with all I HAD to do. It was a funny mix of “Where did the day go, I’ve hardly done a THING!?” and “How can I possibly survive until my Hubby gets home? This day is taking forever!”

A few months from now, I may very well be back in that same spot. But right now, at least for the past two weeks or so, I suddenly see so much potential for my time, and suddenly it seems everything is falling neatly into place each day.

Suddenly, the time I have been blessed with each day seems perfectly matched to the tasks which lay before me.

Right now, in this particular stretch of time (and I can only pray this “stretch” lasts for a LONG time!) everything lines up. And each moment of each day, from my always too-early seeming wake up to my always too-late feeling plop into bed, feels rewarding, challenging, fun and... right where I want to be.

I know most of the difference is my own perspective and attitude. Honestly, since Girly Pie’s emergency room adventure a couple of weeks back, my eyes have definitely been on my Maker to take care of me and carry me through my struggles rather than on my own lack of ability to get through them. My eyes have also been back on Him with an attitude of thanks for the blessings I have been given, rather my view of my blessings being blocked by the obstacles of life and my own negativity and fears.

And I’m pretty sure that just that shift of focus has made the most difference in how I have felt since then. I feel God has blessed that shift in focus back to Him. I'm looking back where He wanted me to look, and I do feel He's pleased with that.

There is something else though, too. In addition to changing where my focus is (or maybe because of that change?) I’ve also felt more driven and inspired in working out a daily routine that better fits our family’s needs.

I’ve tried and failed so many times before at schedules and routinesmore times that I care to count let alone admit out loud. Really, to tell the truth, I hate schedules. I go into them kicking and screaming, and usually run right back out the same way. And there is absolutely no guarantee that this time will be any different.

But, at least for the moment, this time does feel different. This time, I really can feel God's hand in how our days are going. I actually feel like He gave me the the inspiration I have been desperately seeking and revealed to me how He knew our days would best be spent.

I can see my days in chunks and I know what will fill those chunks. I have been shown what has been lacking, and those gaps are being filled daily now. I feel guided and structured, but not restricted and confined.

Sure, I have much less “me time” than I did before, but somehow the time I do find to be free and mine is getting better used and I appreciate it more. Instead of sneaking in little snippets here and there at the computer or at finishing the smaller tasks around the house left undone, I see now how I was taking away from the more important things I want to do each day. I also see that while I was constantly multi tasking every moment of every day, I was never really fully in any given moment or task. I was always only semi-present. And so I missed the joy in most of what I did.

And now I am so very much enjoying my days, even though I am doing so much more than I was before! And yet, I feel like I have MORE time than I did before.

It's amazing really.

Maybe I’ll post the skeleton of my daily schedule/routine another day, but the meat and potatoes of the plan is not really my point today. My point is just that time never really does change, but what you do with it, and the attitude and perspective you have during the time you are blessed with, really does make a huge difference in how your time is passed, and in how you feel in each moment you have.

Or at least that’s my thought on the matter. For the moment, anyway.