Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bright Ideas

Fall is here!  The kids get really excited when fall comes.  By the time I had breakfast cleaned up on the first day of fall, they already had candles lit, blankets out, and library books strewn across the living room.  We decided to spend the morning reading our books, sipping tea, and enjoying the peacefulness of a beautiful gray, coastal day.  We are looking forward to fall baking, soups, walks, leaf-gathering, and the overall snuggly environment that blows in with autumn.

As for happenings in the house, we've made a lot of changes in our schooling day, and the kids are able to have more free time than they used to. They aren't allowed to be idle, but they are allowed to pursue their own interests.  They are coming up with some amazing things!!!  Jackson created a puppet theater last week.  He typed a script and put on a show for us.  There were tickets, a snack bar, and theater seating.  We also got a book on making puppets from the library, so I'm waiting to see if Jackson shows a real interest in doing more puppetry.

Also, our dishwasher is on it's way out.  I have to jam a wooden spoon into it to make it start, and it's pretty unpredictable when it comes to getting dishes clean.  We were doing 2 loads of dishes a day in our broke-down, sad little dishwasher.  I thought about doing everything by hand, but when I do that my fingers crack and bleed, and I will get a rash if I wear gloves.  

So we were in a pickle.  My brilliant, super-tastic husband came up with a solution to save us all:

We each picked a plate, bowl, and cup, and clean our own after each use.  If someone's plate is dirty from lunch when dinner rolls around, they don't eat.  Or they could push the leftover crumbs aside and put dinner down with them if they wanted to, I suppose.  But that hasn't happened.  Yet.

We've had some rainy days, and here are a few photos from our activities inside. 

I've been trying a new learning technique called "strewing," and have been pleased with the result.  I lay out art books, science books, gardening, poetry, biographies, history, foreign language, crafting, and everything in between.  Anything that looks interesting at the library.  The super rad thing is that they are reading these kinda' challenging books in their free time, without being told to.  I'm seeing how far I can stretch this thing by choosing the most random books from the library.  What I have discovered is that Megan will straight up read a science or history encyclopedia, cover-to-cover.  Jackson likes to read about science oddities and extreme or weird things of any sort, and Jordan devours anything about crafts, food, dress, and homemaking.  Strewing is genius, and whoever thought of it was a smart cookie.

Speaking of super rad things, the girls were asking me all about the 80's one day, and I offered to show them what it was like to be a kid in the 80's.  They said that they felt weighed down by accessories and gagged at all the hairspray, but really enjoyed dressing up like someone who lived in another time.  I had just gotten my wisdom teeth pulled and laughed so much doing this makeover that my jaw ached all night!

It's so funny that they think of my childhood as "a different time."  Last week we were driving along and Meg was talking about something and referred to my childhood as if I'm ancient.  I said, "Hey, I'm not that old."  To which she replied, "Well, you were born in the 1900's."

Both the statement and the look on her face made it clear that she lumps me in with the Great Depression and World Wars.  Awesome.

Maddie and Trent were over one day and there was a whole heap of laughter coming from the girls' room.  This is how I found the boys.  They were making a video, with the girls directing and the boys being their puppets.  Thanks, YouTube, for your never-ending silly ideas!

Jordan and Megan made this laptop for AG dolls.  I am so impressed with their attention to detail!  They are becoming very proficient at editing and scaling images to fit their projects.

Jordan was disappointed that they keyboard didn't fit the monitor, but it had already been attached when she realized that they had left out the large portion that has the on/off button a the top of the keyboard, and the track pad below.  Still turned out pretty awesome, I think!

We had another heat wave come through this week, so we sat and melted during the day.  It's difficult to sleep when you are soaked in sweat with sheets sticking to your skin, so we declared a family sleepover in the coolest room in the house.  The kids loved it and Jeff said he slept better than ever.  We're definitely acclimated to the coastal weather.  I don't know what we would do if we ever had to go somewhere truly hot!

We are in the middle of a big shift in the way we do school (mentioned earlier), and the kids have been doing a ton of creative writing, which seems to be paying off.  I let the kids choose their own subject-matter because I think the workbook assignments are dumb.  Is it okay to say dumb?
"Write a paragraph about something in your classroom."
Ugh.  Dumb.  Generic.  Boring.  Creativity killer.
(My opinion, of course.)

 So, instead I have all three kids spend a fair amount of time writing stories on the computer. Whenever they are ready, they ask me to read them and make corrections, edit punctuation, spelling, syntax, etc.  Jeff and I really enjoy their stories.  It's amazing because before we started letting them make up their own writing assignments, they hated writing and always did the bare minimum for their assignments.  If they had to write a declarative sentence about something they love, they would write:

"I love dogs."

Technically, that was correct.  Creatively, I was afraid for their future.  Lol  But this approach seems to be working well.  They get to have fun and make up ridiculous story lines, but they also get a grammar lesson.
Which brings me to this morning.  I was cleaning up the documents on our computer and found this little gem.  I hadn't ever seen it before and didn't do any edits.  Whoever wrote it must have started and then forgot about finishing it, but it's good for a laugh and insight into their senses of humor.  :)

I'm trying to figure out a way to end this with either "you mess with her, you get a black eye." or "as only a baby centaur can."  Because those lines just kill me.  Ha!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Camping for Wimps (or the wise)

This week, we celebrated 6 weeks of kicking booty with our school work.  We took a trip over to Valley of the Rogue State Park to camp in a yurt for a few nights.  A yurt, because the Cato's are all done pretending to enjoy sleeping on the cold, hard ground.  It had electricity and a heater.  And you know what?  You know that sore, tired, dirty feeling you usually have when you come home from camping?  We didn't have it!  A little sticky from s'mores and a lack of bathing, but warm and rested.  We got to swim a little, play a little, and even slipped into Medford for some really yummy food!  

I didn't get very many pictures this week, but this is the outside of the yurt.  It was very peaceful.

Bunk beds on the right, futon on the left.  We all slept great.  These beds were pretty comfortable.

At night, we made friendship bracelets, looked at the stars, and had "So much better than s'mores!"  At least that's what my kids called them.  We will never eat a normal s'more again.  The correct way to eat a s'more can be found here.  I'm really very sorry for opening that door, but the truth must be told and the people must have better s'mores.

Jackson helped with the scrambled egg wraps one morning.

I can't believe I'm posting the just-woke-up pictures, but oh well.  We were all snuggled in one bed together and took a bunch of pictures.

The kids had a water fight and took a dip in our makeshift pool.  It was 100 degrees, so measures had to be taken!

Another morning, we had chocolate chip waffles.  Jeff and I both feel terrible after eating what the kids ate the entire trip.  We were trying to be the fun parents and let them have yummy camp food, but we needed more vegetables and whole grains!  Surely, this is a sign of aging.  Sigh.

On Friday night, we got to visit the Martini's at their new home!  It was so wonderful to see them!  I did a terrible job of photographing the house so that Julie could see, but here is one of the back yard.

Close-up of the pool.

And here is a little of the view from their house on a hill.  You can see Upper and Lower Table Rock in the background.  The view from the house is panoramic, so you can see the entire valley from anywhere in the house.  There are floor-to-ceiling windows in every room--gorgeous from anywhere you happen to be.  I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the inside of the house, since it is so beautiful.  We will all just have to go over soon so we can see the Martini's again.

Cold.  As usual.

Jax was timing himself to see how quickly he could ride around the loop.

And here are a few funny pictures from last week:

Jeff found this on the fridge.  We were laughing about what she wrote on the "Saving For" line.  Polly Pockets can't bring you happiness, Jordan!

Jackson made these cinnamon rolls for everyone last week.

This is Jordan, pretty much all the time.  Except when she is sleeping and doing her schoolwork.

I've prayed a lot in recent months, asking the Lord to help me to know what exactly I am supposed to be doing with these not-so-little people.  Fretting that I'm messing up.  Parenting can be scary for me sometimes!  But I found this last week, laying in a pile of Megan's drawings, and it felt like a win.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Jordan's 10th and Other Happenings

So yeah, my little pita pocket turned 10 this week.  I looked through photo albums, got misty-eyed. Thanked the Lord for blessing us with this amazing little person for a decade.  And then I had some cake.

But before that, we had a few other happenings...

Megan donated her hair to Locks of Love again.  She is so happy to have a lighter mane for a while!

My boy convinced me to take him to the beach for some kite flying on a windy day this week.  It was SO WINDY!  We all got our legs sandblasted.

So windy!

Meg and Jackson spotted this Banded Alder Borer.  It was huge!  

These are the Aster seeds that Jordan planted in March.  They are gorgeous!

It's a ruff life.  Get it--ruff?

Spaghetti squash from the garden!  We'll have it with red sauce next week, Lord willing.

Jackson started learning programming from Khan Academy.  He is hoping to get enough knowledge tucked away to be able to create Minecraft mods in the near future.  He is also doing jobs, trying to earn enough money to purchase Minecraft.

Last Sunday's hike to Natural Bridge.  We actually started at the trail before Natural Bridge and hiked through and past, but I don't know the names of those others.

The views were outstanding.  I know that could be said of all views on the coast, but there were a few corners that we came around and said, "Whoa" because of how gorgeous it was.  
*If any of you decide to do this hike, wear long pants!  The first leg of it is not often traveled, and the brush hangs over into the trail.  I must have walked through some poison oak or something and now have two nice welts that are burning their way across my shin.

Who needs roses when you've got a boy to bring you wild bouquets?

We were all tired and it was a long and tricky hike.  On the way back, someone's feet started getting a bit achy, so I sang "Roar" to her--pep song serenade!

This was her response.  Didn't have the eye of the tiger that day, I guess.

She's been counting down the days to 10, and the day finally came!

After picking up a friend, we went to Slugs 'N Stones for a sweet treat in the afternoon.

And later came back home for dinner, cake, and Rio 2.  Then the girls spent the evening drawing with Jordan's new supplies.  We all had a great day.

Here are a few more birthday pictures...