Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hiking Table Top

While staying with my parents over the Thanksgiving Holiday we decided to take a hike. It was actually my Dad's idea since he can't stand it when we just sit around at home and do nothing. He just isn't the type of person to sit around at all. I think it has something to do with the fact that when he sits down for any amount of time he almost always ends up dozing off. So he initiated a hike for us and we called the cousins to come and go with us.

Our destination was Table Top mountain. It is an old lava flow that filled a river and then over time the edges have worn away leaving a large flat volcanic mountain that runs through their small town.
My kids always enjoy being with cousins and being outside in the lovely weather was just what was needed to burn off all those extra pumpkin pie, apple pie, and ice cream calories that we partook of the day before.

Here are all the kids at about the half way mark on the hike. We had made it through the easy flat part of the hike and were just about to start the actual climb up the mountain.

Molly and Natalie are best pals and helped each other along the trail. They kept telling each other they didn't need to be carried because they were big girls. They actually did the climb themselves. With a little hand holding and that was it. I was happy not to have to carry Molly since it makes the hike twice as hard.

The last part of the climb was rather difficult with so many rocks and a very steep incline. But the view at the top was worth the effort.

We hiked across the mesa to see if we could find Grandma's house below us but there was a hill in the way so we had to be content with just pointing out a few of the landmarks we could see and enjoy the view of the valley below.

Molly and Natalie did get carried for a bit on the way back down the hill but they had smiles the whole way.
There was some grumbling from the kids about how hard the hike was but everyone made it to the top  pretty easily and enjoyed the trip.  

Ian also informed me that this can count toward his hiking beltloop for cub scouts. Always looking for ways to make everything count double.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading Days

I remember, in my college days, we were given "reading days" to help us study for our finals. I don't remember cramming those days full of study. I studied a bit and played a bit and enjoyed having a few days off of class.

I have decided this week is going to be "reading days" for us. Not because we have finals ahead that we need to study. I just thought it would be nice to have a few days where we don't do our normal school work and I can allow my kids a little more time for free reading. 

 This is the perfect week for it since all of our classes and activities have been cancelled for the week in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday.
 I am still going to require some piano practice. They may not have a lesson this week but they need to review all their songs.

 There will also be plenty of chores to do to break up the day. There is always floors to sweep, dishes to be done and laundry to fold.
 So rather than doing school we are just going to relax and read, play and work. I am sure there will also be some movies and wii time as well. After all this is vacation week right?!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Return to Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite

A cookbook usually wouldn't be a pleasure read but Return to Sunday Dinner was a fun, interesting read! I still need to do some cooking but this book certainly made me hungry.

Sunday dinners while I was growing up did tend to be nicer than the average weekday, last minute, thrown together meals but honestly this book didn't bring back memories about my childhood but it does make me fondly look back on the many family dinners we have had at my parents house surrounded by my family, my brothers family, my sisters' families as well as any guests that happen to be in need of a good dinner and some noise and mayhem that often are a part of Family dinners.

I loved how the author of this particular cookbook wrote a little introduction for each of the 24 different dinners he describes. These introductions include geographical or historical information behind the type of dishes chosen for these dinners.  He also includes recipes from all types of Americans cooking. There are southern dishes, Quaker dishes, and even south west. So many comfort foods like pot roast, meat loaf and macaroni and cheese. As well as the yummy cakes and breads. Most of the foods in this cookbook are foods I would call comfort foods.

I also appreciated that each dinner is complete. The recipe for the main dish as well as all the sides including vegetables and breads are included in each of the chapters. I loved the side dish recipes almost more than the main dishes. The salads and veggie dishes sound so tasty.

While I don't imagine making fancy dinners like the ones described in this book. Especially on Sundays. We tend to have really simple dinners on Sunday at our house but I do appreciate the recipes to make my everyday dinners a little more interesting. I also really liked that at the end of each chapter there were suggestions for things you could do to make the meals easier to put together. Things you can do ahead of time so that it all runs more smoothly. So if I do ever try to make one of these complete dinners I would be able to put together the meals a little easier. For someone who isn't the one who usually hosts the family dinners I need all the help I can get.

This was the next book I volunteered to review for Book Sneeze.  A very tasty, yummy read. Now I just need to get cooking and baking! Those cloverleaf rolls are first on my list! or maybe the banana black bottom cream pie. It is hard to decide.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Molly can Draw!

The other day I sat at the computer reading email and such. Molly was sitting on my bed behind me being very quiet but busy. I didn't know what exactly she was doing until I turned around and saw this.
She had a sticker booklet and a pencil and was drawing.
She has always been a great colorer. She loves to fill in coloring pages but I hadn't ever actually seen her draw something.
I bet you can tell it is a princess! Do you see the crown and the lovely dress.

It appears I have another artist on my hands. Another girl who loves to draw!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Princesses Galore!

Molly loves princesses.
I certainly didn't promote the topic but there it is and Molly can't resist looking at the pink aisle at Target or get excited when she sees a princess backpack, shoes or anything appear around us. The last month or two, I admit, I have given in to this fantasy world of princesses and have been indulged her with books and movies and even a toy princess.  While at the library I purposely check out the fairytale section and find yet another princess story we haven't read yet.  So now Molly knows  the stories of the Princes and the Pea, Snow White and Rose Red, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Thumbelina, and for good measure we have also visited the stories of Hansel and Gretel, The Elves and the Shoemaker,  The ugly Duckling and the Steadfast Tin Soldier along with the princess stories. All my kids, since they can't miss out on any good read aloud story, are getting well acquainted with fairytales and folk tales.

Molly doesn't seem to mind that the princesses in the story books don't look like the Disney princess. She accepts them in any form. She even liked one version of Snow White that we read where all the characters were animals. Snow White was a cute white rabbit with black ears. I don't think we have yet read a Disney version of any of these stories but I have checked out the movies and my kids can now say they have actually seen The Little Mermaid, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast. They even got to watch Aladin and Hercules along with the Disney Robin Hood because I can resist that version of the tale.

So we have been spending a lot of time with princesses lately and our shelves are bursting with tales of princes and princesses an all sorts of magic.

To top it all off my husband and I just finished watching the first season of Once Upon a Time.  Netflix had it on their instant streaming and we quickly made it through season one and look forward to seeing what happens in season two.

So we are getting really well versed in our fairy tales.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Sophie's Essay

Since we are part of a charter school we have certain things we are required to do every year. One of these things is a writing assignment. The school gives me a topic that is to be given to the kids as if it was a test (so no help from me). They do give me a practice topic also so I can go over what is expected in the assignment and give the kids an idea of what their paper needs to be about. For the boys they only have to do a paragraph but Sophie has to do a 5 paragraph essay. 

Since the test/assignment is due in about 2 weeks I figured it was a good time to do the practice. The assignment is to do a narrative essay. Sophie's topic was to pick a place she would like to travel and write an essay telling about the trip as if she had already gone. So with only minimal help from me (I helped her do a very brief outline.). Here is her finished essay. I had her type it up afterward. The actual assignment isn't supposed to be turned in typed. I thought it would be good practice for her.

“My Trip to Australia” 

 I was able to go to Australia for Christmas last year. When I boarded my plane, it was freezing outside. When I finally landed in Sidney it felt as if it was summer! I had to strip off my jacket and mittens it was so warm! I knew I would have a blast!  
The next day I went on what my guide called a “Walkabout.” As I hiked over the plains, I saw kangaroos bounding gracefully over the prairies, emu craning their necks to see what I was, and koalas snoozing happily in immense eucalyptus trees. I hiked and hiked and saw many other animals. As I clambered over a bridge, I saw a platypus slip into the water. At the end of the day I was exhausted and excited to see what would happen next.  
As the temperature was so warm, I spent Christmas at the beach. It was funny to think that I was swimming in seawater on Christmas day! While I was swimming, I saw a couple people walk up to a Santa and had their picture taken with him. Swimming on Christmas was fun and exciting at the same time! When the sun went down I went to my hotel to empty my Christmas stocking.  
I went to the Great Barrier Reef. I went snorkeling and saw colorful fish. I got so close to a manta ray I could almost touch it. I saw no sharks though. I saw a plentiful amount of coral, fish and other things. Exciting as it was, my stay was nearing its end.  
 I finally said good-bye to the sunny weather. It was sad when I left Australia. I wish I could stay forever! The experiences that I had were amazing! When I landed in my cold airport, I remembered my fun times Down-Under, and I hope I can go back soon.

I thought she did a great job on this essay and I could tell all those IEW writing assignments have left their mark. She used all sorts of strong verbs, threw in a number of adjectives and adverbs and just made the essay really fun. Even through this isn't the essay I turn in to the school for her assessment I am sure she is going to do just fine.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Runner of Ravenshead

A friend of ours loaned us a great movie The Runner from Ravenshead . She said when she watched the movie with her children she kept thinking of Ian. He is the Indiana Jones loving, bag wearing boy and I guess the kids in the movie reminded her of him.

My kids loved it and laughed through the entire film. They were surprised by it being only kids acting out the story but that only added to the fun. The "baby" was their favorite character. If you can get your hands on a copy of this very fun christian film you won't be disappointed! It has a good message to go along with the giggles.

It was a great Sunday afternoon movie!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Founders' Key by Larry P. Arnn

After finishing my last book from Book Sneeze. I picked another book. I didn't pick a light romance but I picked a non fiction book. It wasn't a mistake the book was great it just took me a long time to make it through. I admit I don't read non fiction that often. I much prefer to get lost in a good novel. I guess I need my books to help me escape for a little the stresses and concerns of my everyday life. So I would read a bit of The Founders' Key and then go back to another novel or two before returning to it.

I knew it wouldn't be fair to review a book I hadn't read all the way through so I persevered until I made it through finally. Not that it wasn't interesting.  It is very good and well worth the read.  It was just work for my mind and not "mind candy" like I tend to gravitate toward.  I am sure I will revisit it again when we study the Constitution in our homeschooling.  The author makes so many great observations about how the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence work together. 
"The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.... are the products of careful crafting and they state specific reasons for the decisions they represent."
"The Delaration of Independence and the Constitution were both surrounded by debate and disagreement, and yet both were adopted, and both are still in force two centuries later and more. The debate reached a decision, and the decision still stands, even if the ground beneath it has sometimes shaken and even if it shakes now." 
The author also looks at how some of current politicians view these documents.  And uses Federalist papers to help us understand how the founding fathers' viewed things.

For example, when discussing the line from the Declaration which reads "all men are created equal" he explains that the founders were fighting a king who felt he was "born to rule, and his nobles born to help him."  The founders wanted to establish the fact that God made all men equal by being free and able to rule themselves. The book then goes on to talk about how equality is viewed now.
Today we think of equality as an outcome, something that comes about as a result of activity both personal and political, rather than the condition under which our actions begin and operate. Equality is now a thing that we can make

This is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about these two founding documents and the thoughts and intents of those that wrote and debated about them. The author does point out a lot of places where we as a country have deviated from these intents or have disregarded or reinterpreted these documents.

A very interesting read!

Friday, November 2, 2012

First braids

Molly has never had a lot of hair. Most people probably think I cut her hair and keep it short but in reality it just has never grown. This is all she has ever had. I have trimmed the back only once because she had a few longer pieces that sort of made it look like a mullet.  She often asks me to braid or twist her hair like I do for Sophie. I do put it into pony tails often but she mostly just is a wash and go girl.

After her shower today I decided to give french braids a try.

She wasn't the most cooperative so it wasn't nearly as tight and smooth as I would like but it did actually braid. She looked so cute and was thrilled to finally get braids.

She didn't keep the braids in all day. She pulled the bands out and undid the braids a few hours later. By that time they looked very messy and were pretty much falling out anyway.

But she had braids for a little while and loved it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First of November

The first of November always has to be a post about Halloween. So here it is..... Here is how we celebrated.

First we had a co-op Halloween party last week. The kids all dressed up and then had a bunch of free time. It was surprised at how candy free it was. I think we all thought there would be enough sweets over the coming days that none of us brought cookies for the party and instead had all sorts of real lunch like finger foods. It was great!
Then we had our Trunk or Treat at church.
Here is Henry in his car costume. I told the boys I wouldn't buy them a costume this year and that they would need to make one or use something we already had. So Henry gathered some boxes when we went to Costco and put together a car from things we had around the house.
Here is Molly in her princess dress. She loved seeing so many little girls dressed as princesses.
Sophie was the only one who got me to make a costume for her. She really wanted to be a leopard. When we went to the fabric store we could only find tiger print fleece so she ended up being a tiger.  Since this is her last year of trick or treating (we decided that 12 was the age where kids got too old for trick or treating.) I figured it was good to let her have the costume of her choice. I just modified a pajama pattern I have by adding a hood with ears and made a long tail. She loved it and it was was nice and warm too.
Ian's boxes were made into a robot costume. He made this entire costume himself. It wasn't the most comfortable for playing carnival games in however.
Molly had a Halloween party at her ballet class but I forgot to grab my camera but all the little girls were dressed up and they danced as princess or fairies or skeletons. I think there was ever a lizard or dragon there. Molly was thrilled to get to wear her princess dress to yet another place!

Finally the big day arrived and the kids got into costume one more time.
Molly found this princess wig in our costume box and thought she should wear it so she could have princess hair.
Here they are all ready to beg for candy. The boys had to dig out some costumes from our dress ups or costumes from past years. Their boxes didn't make it all the way through the trunk or treat. They luckily found something that worked. It didn't matter once the trick or treating got going. They were just happy to see their bags quickly fill with candies.
We of course went to Grandma's neighborhood for the treating. They have the best candies and so many of the houses were all decorated! It was a fun filled evening and now we have way more candy than we really should have.