Spring Break ’14!

It’s been a few weeks since Spring Break was happening, and I’m finally getting back to this page.  Between then and now, we’ve been getting back into the routine of involving school back into our day.

Thanks to Facebook, we’ve been able to see how several of our friends spent their week off.  Some of them used the time for family vacations.  Some took day trips, and some stayed close to home.  At our house, we were in that last category.  We stayed home and tried to find things to do in our area.  I also had some extra kids spending the week with us.  So I tried to give them something to remember as well.   It was also a rainy week, so anything we did, needed to be done indoors.

So here are a few things that we did.

1. Thrift stores: A great place for a kid to make those few dollars they earn, or get as a gift, go further!

I found a large bag of Mega Blocks at the thrift store, practically new (though I did disinfect them anyway) for nearly $16 less than what the department store was selling them for on sale.

I found a large bag of Mega Blocks at the thrift store, practically new (though I did disinfect them anyway) for nearly $16 less than what the department store was selling them for on sale.


Our 12 year-old friend found herself a cute pair of shoes too!

Our 12 year-old friend found herself a cute pair of shoes too!

2. Baking cookies!  I had 4 kids on this day, so I had the oldest (my daughter) lead and direct how the recipe was assembled.  They were very good cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

3. Museums!  On the day where I had 5 kids, we went to our local pioneer museum to see a bit of history.   As it turned out, we were the only visitors there and out of the 6 of us visiting, the 3 youngest  qualified for free admission!  After our half hour there, I took them through the Wendy’s drive-thru for  $1 fries.  I think that little outing only cost about $14 :)
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture for this one. I will say though that there was some fun. There was a quilt with a spiral pattern on each block, and after seeing it, the toddler exclaimed, “Lollipops!” The museum also had pioneer era clothes and props that the kids could try on and have their picture taken. I took one in black and white, posted it on Facebook and labeled it, “Mumford & Daughters?”

These are just a few of the things that can be done, on a small budget, for Spring Break.

Elizabeth

Just Checking In……

I may or may not have mentioned this before (I didn’t consult my earlier blog posts to verify this),  but, we now have a toddler in the house.  Some friends of ours needed someone to watch her during the day and since the kids and I are home all day, I offered.   This little gal is a lot of fun!  Kylin was my last little one and he’s now 5’11″.  Not so little.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a little voice using words that we sometimes need to try and decipher.  We’re getting better at it now, and she’s getting better at being understandable.

It’s definitely a change going from having two independent teens to having someone that you need to remember to take to the bathroom regularly.  Now, I have two highschoolers and a preschooler.  While they do their schoolwork in their bedrooms or the kitchen, the toddler has “Sesame Street” or a “Leap Frog” video in the living room, or playdough at the kitchen table, or story time at the library or at home.  Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Thomas the Train, and Richard Scarry are back in our lives now!1480741_10202208140341585_1811954775_n[1]  She’s also eager to help, and be included in things.  Several times a day we hear, “I wanna help!” “I wanna see!” “I wanna smell!”

My kids treat her (and her older sister, when she comes over) like the little sister they’ve never had.   My daughter, loves to paint the little one’s finger and toenails, play with her outside, and let her help bake things.1425516_10202251997997999_52490599_n[1]

I wasn’t sure how my son would relate to her because he lives in his own little world when other kids are over and tends to hide in his room to protect his toys.  However, he has come out and played with her and she just loves him.1509028_10202294658984497_1416336699_n[1]

All of the things that I missed by not having more kids, I can relive and get out of my system for a few hours a day.  We have a couple of years to enjoy her before school starts, when she’s too busy for us, lol.

Elizabeth

O Christmas Tree……………

Our Tree for 2013!For the past week or so, our son has greeted us with the usual “Good Morning”, followed by telling us how many days are left until Christmas.    Last week, we finally bought our tree, and decorated it.    In the past we’ve gone to tree lots on the side of the busy street in the middle of town, the lot at the home improvement store and last year, we actually went to a tree farm and cut our own.   We have a tradition every year of buying a dozen donuts to snack on later while we decorate the tree (December is not the time to start a diet in our house!).  Every year, we try to decide on whether or not to use white lights (my choice) or colored lights (Kevin’s choice, which as you can see by the picture is what we went with.  That’s ok, I have a tree on my porch with white lights!) Every year, I see the tree, and think about my history with Christmas trees.

My birthday happens to be in December, and for as long as I can remember, my mom really tried to avoid bringing a Christmas tree into the house until the day after my birthday.   She really wanted to make sure that my birthday felt like a birthday.  I don’t know if she always adhered to that belief, but I do remember that this was how it was when I was a teenager.   On the next day, the birthday was officially over, and all of the Christmas decorations were brought out and hung up!

When I was little, we lived out in the country, where trees were plentiful.  I do have pictures somewhere that my mother took one year, of my dad cutting down a tree somewhere in the pasture across the road from our house.  The cows and I supervised the cutting.  During the remaining years on that property, we went to the tree farm that was across the road and about a half mile away.  Very convenient.

After my parents divorced, a tree wasn’t always in the budget, but my mom would get one anyway, because that is what was a part of the Christmas tradition.  Sometimes, a family in our church, would drive into the woods and cut down Christmas trees for the single mothers and single senior women in our church.   More than once, my mom would leave her place of work at the end of the day and there would be a Christmas tree tied to her car.   She was thrilled and very touched that we were thought of.

After my mom remarried, our first Christmas with my step-father threatened to change her sense of Christmas tradition.  As most people are aware, the Christmas tree doesn’t necessarily stem from any Christian origin.  My step-father decided that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas with something of a Pagan origin in our house and therefore, no tree.  My mom did not like that idea at all!  She was really down about it and several times told him that we had always had a tree and it just wasn’t Christmas without one.     After about a week, he finally came to the realization that this was a compromise that would not come out in his favor.  So he went outside, and climbed up the Pine tree that was taller than our mobile home, and cut about 4 feet off of the top, and that was our tree.  It was a bit round, so my mom called it our Christmas bush (I don’t think that our neighbors noticed the “flat top” on the tree outside).    The tree issue never came up again.

My mom loved to drape loose tinsel on our trees.  I never cared for it.  Our tree would be so covered in tinsel that we couldn’t see much of the green.  It was also a mess to clean up when Christmas   When I moved out and had my first Christmas tree, I opted for tinsel free.  She probably thought that it looked rather plain.  I remember that my friend Carrie and her parents bought that tree for me, and gave it to me about a week before my birthday.   I went to the store with my sister to buy some lights (blue, to go with the blue/geese theme in my kitchen which was only 6 feet from where the tree stood in my little apartment).   I added all of the decorations that my grandma had given to me over the years (and discovered that I needed to buy some more ornaments  It was a nice little tree!

Anyway, those are some of my memories of one small aspect of Christmas.

Elizabeth :)

Our Tree for 2013!

Snow Day!!

Here in Oregon, we have maybe one good snow per year.  Sometimes it lasts until noon of the same day that it arrived.  Sometimes it lasts more than a day.  We’ve been teased on occasion, by folks in other states, where they have snow more often and for longer periods of time, because here in Oregon, if we are told that an inch of snow is coming, we tend to stay home.    There tend to be mad dashes to the store for those important items like bread, milk, cereal and toilet paper (I did go grocery shopping yesterday, but with more added to that list, like).  Then when the snow does arrive, we get about an inch of it, and kids will get up earlier and easier than usual to listen to the radio for any news of school closures.  I’m not mocking!  I’ve seen it happen and even did it myself when I was a kid.

I will admit, that I am not a big fan of snow.  Because we don’t have it as often, we really don’t have the opportunities to practice and gain the experience needed to drive well in the snow.  We also don’t have all of the snow equipment to clear the streets as you would find in, say, those states and countries that have snow for several weeks.   I am one of those with limited experience driving in the snow (and those few times unnerved me a bit) so I tend to let Kevin drive.

In the early morning hours, the snow came.   When my alarm went off at 6:30AM, I woke up to the DJ talking about school closures.  I looked outside my bedroom window to see the back yard covered in snow!  Then I went into my daughter’s room to look out of her window to see the driveway.  Plenty of snow.  I whispered to her that it was snowing and she mumbled something and kept sleeping (much like I did at her age when my mom would literally bound into my room, open my curtains and say loudly, “IT’S SNOWING!!!!)  Then I went downstairs (and it was still dark) to open the front door and see the snow close up.   Then I went for my camera and snapped a few pictures, because, that’s what I do.

Our back yard

Our back yard

Front porch

Front porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not overly excited about snow because it can keep one housebound, but on the other hand, it’s pretty, and makes the world outside peaceful (as long as you don’t live near a busy street).

Our little quiet neighborhood

Our little quiet neighborhood

Since I also homeschool, one might assume that we don’t have snow days because, the snow is not preventing my kids from getting to school.  My kids don’t really play in the snow anymore, however, it’s just an unwritten rule amongst kids that when there is snow, and other schools are closed for snow, then homeschooled kids get the day off too.  That being said, Kylin did go outside for a few minutes, to set up scenes in the snow with toy Polar bears so that he could take pictures of them.  IMG_5308

 

 

 

 

Happy Snow Day!

Elizabeth

 

Thanksgiving

 

IMG_5234This year’s Thanksgiving deviated a bit from tradition in that we celebrated at our home, just the four of us.

Our car was having issues (which turned out to be the fuel pump needing to be replaced).  Driving the car was inadvisable.  Also, Kevin was experiencing severe back pain (which turned out to be a herniated disc) making traveling the half hour to my dad’s a painful trip.

I felt bad for not being able to see my dad and grandma this year, but the above issues really didn’t allow it.

So, I made dinner at home.

Heather made her favorite side dish, deviled eggs

Heather made her favorite side dish, deviled eggs                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I probably made too much food for the four of us, but, it was sooo good!

IMG_5243

 

 

 

 

Apple and Pumpkin pies!

Apple and Pumpkin pies!

IMG_5244

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, there is no sign of a turkey in my photos as we don’t eat meat here.  It’s been so long since I’ve cooked a turkey, I don’t even remember how to do it!  I think that the last one I cooked, was when I was about 21 and still living with my mother and step-father.  Instead of turkey, we eat Morningstar “Chik’n” patties (for anyone wondering if we’re getting enough protein).

The mashed potatoes were made from my grandma’s recipe.  There’s a lot of cream cheese and whipping cream in that batch!  Probably not Weight Watchers approved, but Ooooooooo so good!

The stuffing is a recipe that my mother gave me and Kevin loves it.  I always make some for the meal, and some to freeze for Kevin to snack on later.  Delicious!

After a very filling meal, we relaxed with movies.   Well, my husband and kids relaxed after cleaning up the kitchen.

Thank you Family!

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkins!

Once again, it’s that time of year, when pumpkins are popular and you can find them nearly everywhere you turn.   For at least 13 of the past 15 years, we’ve taken our kids to a local pumpkin patch, to ride the horse-drawn wagon, to get our pumpkins.   There were a couple of years, when we didn’t go either due to not enough time to do it, or money was tight (the grocery stores tend to sell them for less, and we don’t have to pay for horses to take us to them).  Also, as the years move along, we find ourselves wondering if the kids still want to go to the patch, or do they feel too old for such things.   Every year, we decide that the patch is a family tradition, and it’s fun!

So last weekend, we planned to go to the patch.  The weather had been dry, so we thought that we could get by wearing our sneakers instead of rubber boots.  What we discovered was that no matter what the weather, when you go to the patch, always wear your boots and have your jeans tucked into them, because it’s always muddy.

A very foggy morning at the farm!

A very foggy morning at the farm!

Apple Cider donuts help warm a body on a chilly morning.

Apple Cider donuts help warm a body on a chilly morning.

Every year, this farm seems to add something new.  This year, a goat pen was added.  The kids enjoyed them, and fortunately weren't asking to have any as pets.

Every year, this farm seems to add something new. This year, a goat pen was added. The kids enjoyed them, and fortunately weren’t asking to have any as pets.

"Do you have a snack for me?  Cuz you know, there's a snack dispenser to your right........next to the empty Purel dispenser."

“Do you have a snack for me? Cuz you know, there’s a snack dispenser to your right……..next to the empty Purel dispenser.”

Farm Monitor

Farm Monitor

Next month's endangered bird

Next month’s endangered bird

This is part of what makes the price of the experience worth it!

This is part of what makes the price of the experience worth it!

A foggy morning over the sea of orange!

A foggy morning over the sea of orange!

Aren't they beautiful?

Aren’t they beautiful?

Nature's decorations

Nature’s decorations

Proof that, even in dry weather, we should have worn rubber boots!

Proof that, even in dry weather, we should have worn rubber boots!

Bye-Bye Pumpkin patch!

Bye-Bye Pumpkin patch!

Here they sit on the porch, waiting for their makeovers

Here they sit on the porch, waiting for their makeovers

Elizabeth :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschool Photo-Of-The-Day Challenge

For the past few months, I’ve seen these Instagram photo-of-the-day challenges.  At the beginning of the month, I am determined to do them, as I like to take pictures.  However, by day 2, I’m so busy with other things in life, that I forget.  So, once again, one of these challenges makes an appearance, so I’m going to really try (really, really, really try) to post a picture daily.

For those who are interested, the details of the October Homeschool Photo-of-the-day challenge are available on Sprittibee’s blog at this link http://sprittibee.com/2013/10/homeschool-instagram-photo-a-day-challenge-october-2013.html

So, being in line with today’s challenge, here is a picture of my grandparent :)

Grandma Theda and I

Grandma Theda and I

Elizabeth