Last Day of School!

Phew… we made it!  The end of the school year most certainly feels like a race to get it all in.  Though we are officially finished, I will wait to breathe my sigh of relief until next week after my daughter’s 9th birthday.  {NINE!  I started writing this blog on her 3rd birthday; how weird is that?}  I digress… today we indeed celebrated our last day of school with some fun!

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Painted nails.  Why does that feel like a summer thing to me?  Perhaps because I never liked my own fingernails painted, and only painted my toenails as a camp counselor in the summer.   No matter, I think this will be a fun new end of the school year tradition.

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A water balloon morning at the park with friends.  Again, this may have to become a tradition!

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Cupcakes.  This was simply a fun surprise brought home from my husband this morning.  (I feel the need to confess that I ate my son’s while he was napping… some day he will be old enough to read this.  Sorry, buddy!)

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Finally, a field trip to Pasadena with more friends and a candy-making experience.  This was super fun.  The people who work there are so kind and gave lots of free samples.  The candy was awesome and it was fascinating to watch the process from beginning to end.  I highly recommend visiting Papabubble in Pasadena.  (Just don’t park in the metered parking where we got a ticket despite having time still on our meter!)

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Happy Summer Vacation time!!!

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Glimpses of Memorial Weekend

1.  This little guy insisted on napping in his boots.  Precious.

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2.  Anything involving water outside on a hot day is a good thing… so I recommend having little ones wash your rug for you!

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3.   Part 2 of the peg dolls:  On their own, the girls found boxes and popsicle sticks and other essentials and made their peg dolls a house.  Another long and fun independent craft — yes!  Another big mess — YES!

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4.  I told my husband the tomato plants were too close together.  He said, “No… look how little they are.”  And now?

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6.  The boy wanted his picture taken making different faces.  This was happy.  And sad.  And scared.  And surprised.  Perhaps he is a bit too young for this game.  Or perhaps he just can’t stop smiling!  (Don’t mind the blue Hello Kitty necklace… or the fact that he can sing most of the words to “Let it Go.”  He’s got sisters!)

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7.  Memorial Day means swimming — no matter what the temperature of the pool!

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8.  There was a lemonade tea party with homemade lemonade from our trees.  The kids thought it was a bit too sour.  The grown-ups thought it was perfect.

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9.  And, the coolest part of all… my oldest daughter wanted to go jogging with me.  Selfishly, I wanted to go alone.  But, I decided to take her along and just jog back and forth when she needed to walk.  (I also brought our jogging stroller in case she needed a rest — I needed my exercise!)  Anyway, we had a great time.  And, guess what we saw?

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Yikes… wasn’t expecting that!  I was very proud of my girl who is not a runner, nor in running shape.  She gave it a good go, and we are both looking forward to more running dates in the future.

Peg Dolls

This past week was pretty intense and exhausting as we conquered a 3-day Practicum on Classical Conversations, learning the classical method of teaching children.  (Such great stuff — If I find it in me I’ll have to share what I learned here.  If for no other reason, I’d love to try to organize my thoughts for myself!)  Anyway, in general we are homebodies and having such a busy week wiped us all out!  So, today I told the kids we needed to get out and exercise — a bike ride to the horses did the trick.  Then their reward was to be a craft.  Little did I know, the craft would be another all-day affair!

We have a lot of craft books.  Most of them are fairly old and a little hokey… but a good resource, none-the-less.  As soon as we got home form the horse stables, the kids looked through the books and came up with this: (peg dolls)

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I told you… not quite the cute pictures we would have in a contemporary craft book.  But, let me also show you this:

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HAPPY girls!  They were so enthralled by this project that it lasted through lunch and even through dinner time!  I believe it goes down as our longest craft ever. At least, the longest independent craft ever!

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My favorite clothespins are the grandma ones.  The kids did such an awesome job on their beehive hair!  And, this craft was so independent.  (Or is it that my kids have finally reached that stage — could it be?) Even the beehive hair was completely their idea and done with no help.  And, just so you can’t say I didn’t warn you:

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There is a mess to clean-up.  I chose to do it myself and sent the kids outside to play after dinner.  Sometimes it’s just easier that way.  If I have the energy, we are going to hit the craft books again, tomorrow!  (Wish me luck!)

The Chicken Yard

I often hesitate to post pictures of rooms or spaces in our home because it often seems there is just “one more project” in my head until I make that space complete.  I am starting to realize that I may never post pictures if I wait for that final project to be complete!

We did recently “complete” one part of our backyard that has me SO happy.  I’d say our backyard is divided into 6 areas: 1) the patio with the garden, the fountain and dining table, 2)  the pool area, 3)  the playground, 4) the craft/gardening/ play area, 5) the “hill”, and 6) the chicken yard.  Our (mostly) completed chicken yard is finally ready to show:

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 Where do I begin?  That awesome chicken coop in the back was built by my husband.  He had no plans, but slowly built and altered things as he went along.  I think it is amazing.  His tube feeding system allows us to feed the chickens just once every few days!  And, his watering system allows us to not have to water the chickens ever… it is hooked-up to the sprinklers!  The pathway to the chicken yard was FREE using the leftover pavers the previous homeowners left for us and labor from the kids, myself, and mostly Daniel.  The bench is also free; old stumps and lumber.  Daniel also built the fence and put solar light posts as finials.  They work great.  And, the hay bail is leftover from our front porch in the fall.

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The lanterns are fro Ikea and are purely decorative.

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I used my Cricut to make a stencil to paint our “fresh eggs.”

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As I noted before, there are still a few more ideas I have in mind for this space.  But, for now we need to focus on fixing our broken table from the last winds and a few other projects.  I am SO glad summer, (project season), is almost here.

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And, while we are talking about birds and our backyard, our baby birds are back once again this year.  You can barely see one of the birds here:  (So far we’ve spotted three heads.  Exciting stuff!)

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And, that was our chicken yard!

The Fine Line

Sometimes there’s a fine line between “school” and “fun” around here… I’d like to think that our fun is still educational.  And, of course on some level it is.  But some days… (especially as we draw near to the end of the school year), we just have fun, and then call it school.

Exhibit A:  I brought down a bunch of magazines and had the kids pick a picture, cut it in half, glue it to their paper, and then draw the other half.  We learned symmetry!  (and important drawing skills, of course!)

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Exhibit B:  We have some incredible white flowers out front right now.  I have no idea what they are, but I say incredible because I LOVE their strong smell.  Anyway, we did the good ol’ colored water experiment, and the girls painted their observations into their science notebooks.  Some fun facts: blue and red were the most absorbent, while orange and green took much longer to change colors.  Also, the color started from the outside of the petal — I found that very interesting!

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Exhibit C:  “How to Draw”  Youtube has some great drawing tutorials we do once in a while.  This day the girls chose “Olaf.”

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Exhibit D:  I have a feeling we are going to be doing a lot of sewing this summer.  My oldest LOVES it and even sacrificed swimming with her daddy for this project… a sweet pouch with a ribbon tie.  All instructions came  out of her sewing book “Made by Me.

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Exhibit E:  We have long since run out of those black papers for our Light Bright, but that doesn’t stop this one from being creative.  Can you guess what she made?

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A horse and a dolphin.

Exhibit F:  And, this crazy stuff from Pinterest.  It was called “Wonder Dough,” and it is pretty cool.  But, there are no proportions given and it was a little tough for us to get just the right consistency.  It’s 2 ingredients: corn starch, and tempera paint.  That’s it.  Since we did this on a writing day, I had the big girls design an inspirational piece and then write about it.  Allison did a purple snow cone, and Natalie wrote about a yellow ice skating patch.  Both stories turned out awesome.

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Happy Learning!

Friday Night!

Friday night, (like many households, I am sure), is our fun night.  Want to know a secret?  I look forward to it even more than the kids!  I really do… Sometimes it takes some planning.  I wish I was better at that part.  Most of the time it’s more spontaneous.  Last Friday we had an m&m night.  We split into teams, and used a straw to transport m&m’s into bowls given a time limit.  It was tough — I couldn’t stop laughing.  Daniel creamed us all!  We also passed out m&m’s and went around and learned a bit more about each other.  It was a fun night.

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TGIF… we made it through anther week!  For tonight’s family fun dinner, I barbecued pizza.  I did a caprese style for me since we have so much basil to use!  It was delicious, but was really watery right after I pulled it out, so I had to dab it with paper towels.

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Tonight was our first after dinner swim night of the season.  I was a little worried it would be too cold, but actually the water was warmer than during the day yesterday.

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The only thing missing this week was Daniel, who had to work.  He would have loved seeing this next bug… one of those enormous, flying crickets!  I actually caught it and fed t to the chickens.  Honey, you would have been so proud.  I don’t want anything ruining our tomatoes that are looking incredible!

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Happy Friday!

Lunch.

Lunch is by far my least favorite meal.  I have tons of wonderful breakfast recipes, not-to-mention everybody loves breakfast so it’s always a winner!  Dinner can be tough when I don’t plan, but at least there are many options, again.  Then there’s lunch.

For one thing, after cooking breakfast then getting started on school, I feel like the morning flies by.  The next thing I know the kids want lunch, and I have no time to plan ahead to make something.  They don’t like sandwiches too much, so that is rarely an option.  I want it to be healthy and filling.  I am slowly coming up with some fun alternatives, but I usually make them lunch and then it’s my turn.

I try to make salads for me — (but I’m often too hungry and just eat whatever.)  If I can have patience, I will make myself something.  This week, I did a corn salad that was awesome.

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What I love about this salad is that it is versatile.  Sometimes I do basil, and sometimes cilantro.  Sometimes bacon and sometimes not.  Tomatoes.  Corn.  Avocado.  Red Onion.  I’ve seen many variations on Pinterest, but usually just go with what I have.  The dressing is always a little lime juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  If you have any lunch favorites, please pass them my way!