Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hug Them

Hug them when they make a mess.
Hug them when they fight.
Hug them when they break a dish,
Or keep you up all night.
Hug them when they're angry;
Yes, hug them when they're mad.
Hug them when they're happy,
Bored, yelling, or sad.
Hug them when they're difficult,
And if they listen or ignore,
Hug them when they drag their feet,
Or throw down on the floor.

Time it soars;
Yes, it flies by fast.
So hug them every time
You get any little chance!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Games, Gingerbread, and Sillhouettes

It's December! Winter break doesn't really apply here. I've noticed we kind of cycle around academic learning and play learning. Actually, the two also mix together quite nicely when you let them! Today, Ava spent almost two hours doing online learning. She covered reading, Spanish, songs, and more. She's also been interested in cursive writing. Noah and Amora also did some online learning and did some painting, as well...and now are in the bath as a result.
Going with the flow is so nice, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The magic of the holidays should be soaked up by children! Lots of memories and living to do! We've been taking long ways home to see the Christmas lights, decorating the house, reading books, playing game, and paid Santa a visit at the mall.

Ava made a treasure hunt game by making a map of the house and then hiding a "treasure" and then putting an 'X' where the treasure is. We took turns trying to find where the treasure was hidden.
We also took down the Wildcraft game for the first time. Well, the kids found it actually. I'd been saving it for a while until they were old enough for it. Ava is at a great age for it and it's now our favorite game to play together. It teaches kids (and adults!) about which natural herbs help which ailments that you get along the hike up the mountain. I also love that there are no winners or losers and it encourages everyone to help each other through the game and get back down the mountain together.

While Ava and I played Wildcraft, the younger two had to be kept busy after they started getting bored with watching it. They were very active that day so it took several ideas to keep them happy:

Bean bag toss game:

Shape puzzles:


And bean sorting/mixing:

Ava got into this later but decided to try out a more advanced version with the electric mixer:

Speaking of kids using big-versions of things, I've been helping the kids learn how to use real knives to cut fruits and veggies. It may feel nice to only let kids use kid stuff that is uber safe and can't cut worth a crap, but kids also don't get to learn how to respect and carefully use the real stuff! At their ages, I supervise them and give them some pointers (don't cut toward yourself, move your thumb! etc.) and keep them put up out of reach in between, but I really think it's useful to let kids use the real thing. Sure they could get a cut (as do I!) but it's all part of learning. Our culture has taken the safety thing too far in so many ways. I'm working on getting away from all the fear and letting the kids have some freedom to learn and explore.

The kids made gingerbread houses at their homeschool group this month. What a blast! They had them eaten all up within 2 days, but they were sure cute! There were around 20 kids that attended that day so there was such a wonderful variation of different houses. Noah also built some block structures with his friends while Ava and Amora played games with the other girls.

This week, Ava headed to a Christmas concert/play with her grandma and aunt and uncle. Ava loved the play and talked about her favorite part when angels flew around the stage.

Meanwhile, I went to an art show where I got to meet my favorite artist, Jane Evershed. Her art is so amazing and is so inspirational and empowering for women and she is such a cool person, all around. I so enjoyed talking with her. I look forward to bringing Ava next year to it since she loves art so much and is familiar with Jane's work from the prints I have at home.

We also did some silhouette shadows. No easy task for the four and two year old. But cool none-the-less. Ava's turned out well, despite my flashlight holder making her shadow fly all over the place. Noah's was a bit of a challenge, but we managed. And Amora, well I didn't get past her hair line since she much preferred to watch the shadow on the wall instead of face forward. But yes, they thought it was great anyways and a couple fun silhouette portraits came out of it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today we went out to find out how old all the trees in our yard are. The usual growth for most trees is about an inch a year. The measurement around the trunk of a tree (about 5 feet up if you want to be most accurate), will give the approximate age of the tree. According to its measurement, our largest oak tree is about 118 years old!

Ava also enjoyed her favorite tree in the yard. We measured it to be about 80 years old. She did a bark rubbing on paper of its bark, followed its roots, and appreciated the 'Y' patterns she saw on the trunk. She finds that specific tree to be so special.

Noah was more interested in stick collecting and made a nice pile of sticks for a bonfire someday.

We also measured a cut log we have in the yard. We compared the number of rings inside, which shows the trees age, to the measurement in inches around the stump. There were 35 rings. It was 40 inches around. Pretty close!

Duluth, Thanksgiving, and Holiday Decorating

As it gets colder and days shorter, the kids are having to shift from the outside activities they have loved to new ones. The bikes and scooters have been put up, the sandbox covered, and not-soon-enough, the hoses will be rolled up and stored. Noah is still taking advantage of water even as the temperatures drop.

One good thing about the short days, is Ava can see the stars earlier now. She loves to go out and watch them. She brings her books out with her once in a while to find constellations.

Amora with a Lake Superior veiw.
We went up to Duluth, MN last week and stayed at a hotel with a water park. Ava can now doggie paddle and Amora got over her fears of deeper water with her life jacket on. And Noah did his thing. He LOVES water, as I've mentioned a few times, haha.
We also visited the aquarium. They have a set up for the kids about the lock and dam system that connects the great lakes together all the way to the Atlantic. The sign described this as being like an elevator for boats, which I thought was a great explanation to help the kids to understand how it worked. They must have spent 45 minutes putting the boats through all the different locks!

Vampire Fish! This guy sucks blood from other aquatic animals!

Fun with the Green Screen.

We got back just in time for Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. The kids loved playing with  their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They went for a walk outside and threw some acorns off the decks for the squirrels and birds, played with the three dogs, and Ava got to try out a baby grand piano, one of which she now wants. I think her keyboard will just have to do for now.

Our favorite Thanksgiving book!
The next day John and the kids put up the Holiday Lights around the yard. The kids love helping and handing him tools and clips and nails. He takes the time to show them how the tools work and how the clips work to hold on the lights, and how he uses the pole and hook to get them up high in the branches.

We made some ornaments for the tree out of homemade salt dough.

Noah made some nose prints...

And eye prints...

And elbow prints.

Then we baked them and cooled overnight.

The next day they painted them. Noah turns all painting projects into finger paint.

Ava gave one she made as a gift to the neighbors and wants to make more to give to the other neighbors too.

They made some more decorations and then some felt ornaments with their Grandma. I love looking at the tree with all their homemade crafts all over it!