Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Little School on the Prairie

Today Rachel and Andrew had the opportunity to go back in time and attend school at a one-room Schoolhouse nearby. They were so excited and had such a fun time! It fit right in with all our reading from the Little House on the Prairie books.

Here they are ready to go. Everyone was supposed to "dress the part" and take their lunch in lunchpails with wax paper wrapped sandwiches.

Each child was assigned a desk and given "real" schoolwork to do, just like they would have had 100 years ago.

Andrew's pretend name for the day was "Willie." (Each seat had an assigned pretend name)
Here is the teacher at the front of the classroom.
And here is Rachel's class doing some oral recitation work from the lesson books.

Lunch was enjoyed on quilts spread on the grass. Then there were period games to play afterward.

This outing certainly has helped the Laura books to come alive for the children and I can't wait to do more of these kinds of adventures in future years.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Having never prepared artichokes before, I decided this was the week to learn to do so! After trimming the artichokes, I steamed them for about 30 minutes until they were tender. Mine didn't look bright and green like the book, but I think that is because I neglected to immediately submerge it in lemon water after trimming. Oh well.
Artichokes are eaten by pulling off the outer leaves and dipping the inner tip in melted butter before pulling at the bit of flesh with your teeth.

As much as I enjoy artichoke hearts from a can, I wasn't as thrilled with fresh artichoke. It somehow reminded me of acorn squash (same texture, same taste). I do like acorn squash, but not in the shape of an artichoke.

It was fun to eat the artichoke, and we decided it was rather filling, despite the minute amounts we were getting with each bite.

This is all that was left after I finished.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back to the Woods

Today the kids and I made it back to the woods. We were excited to see a turtle sunning himself on a log as we passed this little pond. He did not want his picture taken.

On the way back I had to stop and take a picture of this very stately looking Canada goose. I figured he must be a papa, and wondered where the mama was nesting. We looked around, but never saw her.............until, I downloaded this picture. That must be mama goose in the background behind the fallen tree. When the picture is enlarged it looks like she is sitting on some sort of nest. We'll have to discreetly check this out next time we go by!
PS: While resting in the woods one of the children came up to talk to me. Somehow we got on the subject of Daniel Boone and "resting". It came out that this child imagined that Daniel Boone (a famous early American explorer) just got a hotel each evening to rest! Oh my no! Imagine if exploring the frontier and fighting the Indians had been that easy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yard Work

We've been enjoying very warm spring weather with temperatures in the 70's and 80's! We've gone again straight from winter to summer! Maybe the warm weather will help the trees catch up to where they should be at this time of year.

We decided we needed to start work on some landscaping projects and we "dug" in on Monday, which is Michael's day off.

As with any major project or endeavor in our house, the teapot is not far:

The kids had a blast digging in the ground, discovering bugs, and enjoying the outdoors.

Thanks to a friend who planted these for us last Fall, we have some lovely tulips blooming in the front:

David decided he should try to help:

But we convinced him to stick to something more his size:

The kids thought the trowels made great toys!

And the mulch made a wonderful track for the remote-control cars:

Michael spent hours doing the hard work and the result was a lovely flower bed for the front. We still have the whole length of one side of the house to go! But, we are off to a good start!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Auntie C!

Today is Auntie C's birthday and yesterday we all met up at the Art Gardens to celebrate. This has been a tradition for a few years now, and we all enjoy it very much.

Spring is quite behind the times here in the Midwest, but fortunately we were greeted with lots of daffodils and blooming magnolias.

This was one of my favorites:

Just to give you an idea of how far behind we are, here is a picture from two years ago. The baby in the picture is James!

And now, the same path yesterday. The baby in the picture is David! Hard to tell the difference!

Everyone brought something to contribute to lunch and we had a grand feast!

Our contribution was a gluten-free carrot cake. It was fabulous (I had a few bites!)

The kids occupied themselves by making "beary houses" under a great tree. Rachel made a teepee. Note the lego man in front of the fire stirring the cooking pot.

Grandma also brought bubbles. Here is the baby of the first picture now a great big boy running around!

It's always refreshing to go spend some time in a place filled with beauty. I'm looking forward to going back to the gardens in a few weeks when all the tulips will be out and more green on the trees.

Happy Birthday Christina! We love you!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Into the Woods

A few days ago the children and I ventured down to the woods. For years I have been dreaming of having the kids play in the woods, and finally my dream is coming true! Our development has a walking trail that goes through a bit of wood, maybe 10 acres or so. It's not a very old wood, most of the trees look less than 15 years old, and there are no fir trees, but I'm so thankful to have any woods at all!

As a child, I LOVED playing in the woods, making forts, playing house, etc. Now I have to teach my kids to enjoy it as well.

We were actually surprised to find quite a bit of wildlife on our adventure. Blogger is having "troubles" and I couldn't upload all the beautiful wildflowers, but here are a few pictures that did upload:

We were startled at one point to find a rabbit scurrying past us and running for its life. We think it came out of this little nest, which looked like a sweet little place for a bunny.

We found lots of interesting mud piles that were made by something, we haven't quite figured out what yet.
There were a number of tracks, these, I think, belong to deer. Andrew was certain the dog prints were actually bear prints.

We were very fortunate (or unfortunate) to run into a snake! I really couldn't believe it! But, we startled it out of its hiding place and it paused long enough for me to take a picture before sliding into the water.

Perhaps it was unfortunate that we found the snake so early in our adventure as certain children did not seem so excited about the woods after that. It's kind of obvious my kids didn't grow up in the country.

And here they are (Baby Cakes stayed home for his nap). There is a stream that runs through the woods which might provide some water play in the summer. We found ourselves a nice clump of bushes for a house and proceeded to enjoy our time.

I hope it won't be too long before we go back!

The Earth Tremor

"When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars."
Psalm 75:3

What a surprise to be awakened at about 5:30 this morning with the bed shaking and my lamp shade clinking into the wall! My first thought was: "What is going on with the furnace?!" And then I began to wonder if it was something bigger than the furnace.

It's funny, I remember my first "earthquake experience" when I was about 3 or 4. We lived in Vermont and one night there was a tremor. My parents' first response was: "There's something wrong with the furnace"!

Later, we lived off the Rift Valley Fault in Uganda and it wasn't uncommon for there to be tremors now and then. The funniest incident happened one evening after my parents and a group of adults had been talking about the subject of "demons". That night there was a pretty strong tremor and you can imagine where those adults' thoughts went to first!

Although our tremor this morning was small, it still was an awesome experience. It was something so "outside" myself, totally beyond my control. There was nothing to do to stop it, run from it, get away. It was a reminder to me of God's incredible power and the amazing way He designed this earth to function.

Michael and I were glad the kids never woke up! He's sure we'd never get them to sleep for a week after that!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Show and Tell

Today seemed a bit like "Show and Tell" at our house. My mom and sister were here for afternoon tea, and we each had something to show each other and talk about.

Mom came with several of her latest paintings:

We think this seagull belongs in a children's book:

Christina is nearly finished with her pair of socks. They look lovely, and very much like Spring! She came home from her trip to the Fiber Fair with a contraption to hold her sock and needles in place when she stuffs it into her knitting bag.

This was my contribution: a case for "double points". Christina wanted something stylish and practical for storing her double pointed knitting needles. This is what we came up with:

The case unzippers and opens flat to store a collection of needles. Christina took it home and filled it up and put pictures up on her blog.

And now I must get back to knitting myself. I haven't done much recently between getting hung up on my own socks (I have new needles now) and then being side-tracked trying to design the needle case. And besides, the weather is getting nicer and the outdoors is beckoning!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Remains of the Week

Well, here it is the end of the week. I thought I'd throw my extra pictures up from the week. Seems as though there are a number of little things that happened this week.

For one, I went to the first garage sale of the season! Yeah! I found a box of legos for $2 which was a bargain. Speaking of bargains, I also got a 30% off coupon for Kohls and my $5 gift card (mentioned on Money Saving Mom some time ago) which I used to today to get some very good bargains -- like $2 slippers for Michael who has been in desperate need of them (he wears slippers all day rather than shoes, unless he goes out), $5 sneakers for James, and some $2 tops for next winter for myself!

My mom came on Wednesday this week and there were more face sandwiches for lunch:

David is enjoying being the spoiled baby of the house. He really loves interacting with the other children and I managed to capture this scene during school this week:

Andrew is a very sweet older brother to David and helps him or plays with him a lot. I discovered them in a chair reading a new book:
Last Saturday we managed to get out to the neighborhood park. This is something I was so happy to do, as it means I have more energy. :) The kids had a blast, and ran around in the shirt sleeves while I huddled on the bench in a coat and a wool blanket.

One of Rachel's projects for Rosebuds had to do with hospitality. We decided that having a tea for Auntie C would be a good way to fulfill that. Rachel and I talked about a plan, Rachel wrote an invitation which she mailed, and then when the big day came (Tuesday) she got to work on the menu.
Auntie C must have gluten free, so we made up some gluten free scones, which came out quite nicely. Rachel made the scones and set the table and discovered that hospitality can involve quite a bit of work to get all the bases covered. I think it was a good experience for her -- not too overwhelming, but enough work so as to realize what is involved.

Auntie C arrived all decked out for the occassion! Rachel poured the tea, and we had a very lively tea party (the boys joined in, and between the children, Mommy didn't get very many words in edge wise until she decided the party should end after an hour and give her a chance to talk to Auntie C).

Now it is time for the final chores of the day, baths for the kids, and I think a haircut for Michael. Then it will be time to breathe a sigh of relief and try to relax a bit.