Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Funny Little Moments

So I had to post of this morning's happenings! I am a bit weary from the long days with no relief in sight, as Thomas is working very late each night for the spring season. When I hit the pillow, I hit it hard but when I'm with the boys, I'm 110% engaged and if I weren't, something beyond minor would most likely occur. Of course things spill, break, cave, overflow, crack, shatter, etc...but I put most of these in my "minor" category and I suppose this is because they happen every day. Just last night, Simon was clearing his plate, he dropped it and it shattered all over the floor. I already needed to clean the floor because while eating supper, Samuel had dumped his tray of spaghetti all over his head and half of it made it to the floor so the clean up of this shattered and broken plate was only minor as it fit into my nightly routine. All this aside, this morning was something minor but hilarious! After the initial frustration I had with my little guy, I had to laugh, along with the older boys who couldn't stop laughing! Samuel had taken the broom, which I use nightly to sweep kitchen messes (and broken plates) to clean the bathroom toilet! I was at the table doing school with the older two and he was in the bathroom scrubbing away. He must have noticed that one of the boys had not flushed there treasure down the toilet and so it needed a cleaning! The toilet water was spilling over everywhere and he was standing in a pool of dirty, stinky, murky water and I caught him on camera. I wanted to document his face and the sense of adventure that he displays every day. He, by far, is my most adventurous...and mischievous! At the table this morning while eating breakfast, Simon said something I also wanted to share. We were eating cereal and after he finished his first bowl of Rice Crispies, he asked if he could have another bowl of "Risp Crispies" or "Risp Cryspies"? One of those phrases you just have to write down! I love these boys!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Chickens!

You know it's officially spring when you walk into Teisens (farming supply store here in the midwest) and can hear the baby chicks and ducks in the back of the store. It's an exciting time and as we approach our first year owning our four beautiful and beloved Rhode Island Reds, we decided it's time to introduce them to another breed and increase our flock! We purchased 5 Americaunas at about 10 days old and for right now they are living in our garage under the protection and warmth of a heat lamp (despite warm temperatures just yesterday in the 70's, there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow)! On nice days, the boys and I have taken them outside and let them peck around as they nibble on our hands and feet. They stay very close and don't run off and the boys love to hold them. Simon has grown especially close to one of them, which has been fun to watch. He isn't very affectionate at all and to see him convey sensitivity to anyone or anything is very rare. Samuel is too aggressive with them, or rather clumsy around them, and can't be trusted! As soon as the garage door opens, he runs out of the mudroom to the bin where they are living and reaches in to try and grab them. I think he gets so excited and overjoyed at the thought of handling them but just can't control his excitement. I help him learn to be gentle and he's enjoying just having them around. The Reds chase after him when let out in the yard and he doesn't care for that. The older boys think it's funny, of course!
The kids dressed in their Easter clothes
Simon and his favorite chick!
Each time I walk outside and feel the warmth from the sun, I get antsy about starting the garden. This year, however, I am heeding the words of my amazingly wise husband and not jumping into planting too quickly! He always tells me there is plenty of time and I'm just wasting time by starting things too early! I'll listen, despite my aching desire to hoe the ground, fill my milk jugs and plant my seeds! Until then, I'm soaking up the warmth and watching the kids do all the growing!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Simon is 4!

Every time we put together one of the kids parties, I think to myself, how are we going to top this one! Each party seems to get more and more creative and oftentimes involve more and more work on our parts. However this was probably one of my favorites and the best was inexpensive and was fairly easy to put together. I think the simplicity of it was a hit among the kids and also allowed us to move through the party quickly and keep all of their attention. I shouldn't say it was simplistic because we packed a lot of games and activities in, but it didn't require much effort ton our parts. Just a few creative ideas and a steady execution. Simon's 4th Birthday party took place in outer space, which was in our basement. I painted glow in the dark planets and cut out white starts to tape everywhere. Thomas constructed an awesome spaceship made out of some 2x4s and cardboard boxes...everything we had laying out in our garage. He painted it with glow in the dark paint and outlined it with a highlighter. We looked on you tube for some fun games and came up with a few really innovative party activities! One involved air cannons, aliens, and a fog machine. Thomas made 5 air cannons for the kids to use to shoot air at aliens that had invaded (made out of paper cups with neon pipe cleaners) The parents all made one and put them on their head. The kids filled their cannons with fog, aimed and fired at their parents trying to knock over the aliens. It was a hit! The parents even liked the playing with the cannons and watching the fog rings shoot out of them. The next activity was holding moon bubbles made out from dry ice! So easy and so entertaining. Thomas put dry ice in a container with a tight fitting lid and warm water. The container had a tube coming out of it with an attachment that he put in a bubbles and the bubbles filled with dry ice. They were so fun to play with. The kids put gloves on (otherwise the bubbles pop) and walked around holding their moon bubble. Its a neat effect when they pop, spilling dry ice everywhere. NExt we made slime with a simple recipe of glue, water and borax! So fun and so easy. This was a hit and of course an alien piñata that the boys and I had made earlier that week! It was a great party and after the kids had enjoyed enough cake and astronaut ice cream to last them a week or more, they were all pooped and ready to go home! Thomas and I feel like we need vacations after we throw these parties, but they are well worth all the thought and planning that goes into them. But once again, what next? Can we keep up the trend?
Outer Space in our basement
Alien Invaders
The Birthday Boy and his Rocket Ship cake
Making moon bubbles
Air Cannons
The Spaceship
Glowing Goggles
The Alien Piñata
Making Slime

Friday, March 1, 2013

Winter Fun

I remember a conversation we had a while ago at the front of our decision making process for homeschooling in which Thomas was very adament that should we decide to homeschool, we would most certainly incorporate "snow days" into our year. I hadn't even thought of that before and admittedly, coming from sunny California, I would have to say that they weren't something I was planning on incorporating into our shcooling year. I happily agreed that we would take some days off when the snow was fresh and the sun was out so that the kids could enjoy all the pleasures that all kids get to growing up in the Midwest, and so that Thomas could reminesce and enjoy his trip back to elementary school as well. As for snow days this winter, we've had few until this past week. The snow really came down and we couldn't pass up the chance to...
Build a Snowman
Finished Product
Make snow angels
Have a snowball fight
All of which was enjoyed without their little bother Samuel who has clearly let us know that he is not into the snow...yet! Samuel and I watched from the window inside and he was having just as much fun (in his mind) cheering them on. So it goes, I logged our first official "snow day" for the year 2012/2013! It will go down in the record book as Ethan's very first day off of school in which Daddy came home from work to play with the boys out in the snow. Very fun! After the kids have been out in the snow for an extended period of time, our favorite thing to do is to come inside and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa together. They LOVE this and never forget to ask! We typically curl up on the couch with hot cocoa in hands (I know, a bit risky but worth the risk involved) and read a stack of picture books while sipping. I will so miss this someday!
Together on the couch (no cocoa this time)
A favorite winter indoor activity; Lego Day!
Not Sure if older 2 are crying or laughing but I love Samuel's expression
As the weather begins to warm, we are starting to make plans for Simon's space adventure party! He's pretty excited and Thomas and I have been brainstorming some fun ideas! I don't think we'll take it as far as having a slide down going down into our basement but there might be a lot of slime involved AND a rocket launcher! More to come...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Minneapolis 2013

Our yearly trip to Minneapolis never comes at a better time. I am just starting to feel better and really needed a change of pace for a few days and I think the rest of the family did too. We headed to Minneapolis on Friday and came back late Sunday night. We opted out of the hotel that we've stayed out for the past couple of years and found a better deal through Expedia for the same layout. A one bedroom suite with full kitchen and dining area. It was perfect and the best part...we all were healthy! Last year was a rough trip because the boys came down with a bad virus (potentially the flu) while we were there and it was close to miserable for us all. This year was great. We had some all day passes from my sister to the Mall of America theme park so of course we spent much time riding rides. We even left the park to rest and returned later in the evening. The overhead roof was clear so the entire amusement park area was dark as if you were riding all of the rides outside. The boys thought that was pretty cool. Highlights included...
Lego Land
Checking out the fish at the zoo
Ferris Wheel
A trip to Cabela's
We had a great time. We ended our trip with a shopping experience like none other. This is our second time visiting a second hand store called IAMUnique and it is true to it's name. Very unique and a bit overwhelming for the kids. They complied with the idea after hearing that they could pick out a toy from among the myriad of gadgets on the fully stocked shelves. It's nothing special, just an over-sized second hand store. I go into overdrive, trying to think of all the items that we could use for the next season of clothing. I usually pick up things for Ethan and this year was able to find quite a bit of summer clothes for him as well as some good books that we all enjoy reading together. It's crazy and a little insane (adding to the chaos was the fact that the day we went was 50% off everything) but worth the trip. We save a lot and it ends up being a good learning experience for the kids (what they can buy at a second hand store with their money vs buying things retail). All in all, a great trip! We're now getting excited for Florida come June!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter 2012/2013

We are nearly half way through winter and we're fighting off some major winter blues! It's been a long winter already, probably due in part because I am feeling so sick! Rarely is there a day that I actually get out of my pajamas! We have had a fair share of snow this year which has made it fun for the boys! They have enjoyed playing, scooping, sledding and snowball fighting! I have only been out a handful of times as Samuel really dislikes the snow and consequently I'm unable to stay out long with him. Simon was much like this last year and how done a lot of growing up. He's now able to play with Ethan until I ask them to come inside. He was always quick to start complaining that he's too cold. I'm proud of him!
Here's a picture of Simon in our backyard the morning after a large snowstorm!
At Grandma and Grandpa's house with Grandpas new sled
Here is our chicken coop. The poor chickens didn't come out for days!
The boys in their snow den!
Despite the frigid temperatures, we have been able to do some fun things inside. We have played many lego wars and put together all kinds of different lego creations. Among the boys favorite is a castle, Star Wars spaceship, Fire-fighting airplane, and helicopter. Samuel enjoys dumping all the legos! I've taken a hiatus from crafts this winter as I just can't seem to find the energy to come up with creative things to do! It's enough for me right now to try and keep up with the housework and homeschooling. It's been fun though and I've learned to overlook ALOT in our home! I never thought I would be able to see past the myriad of legos strewn all over our living room floor and spilling into every corner in the kitchen, but now at the end of the day, I have one goal. To get to bed with my face washed and teeth brushed. That, in itself, is a major accomplishment! I'm hoping, at 12 weeks this Thursday, I will start to more productive days, meaning more organization and order. I don't think the kids seem to notice at a matter of fact, I think they prefer having all there toys at their fingertips each morning when they wake up rather than put away neatly back into their bins. Sadly for them, these days will change and they will once again have to abide by the "one bin at a time" rule instead of this "free for all" game that I've been allowing for some time now.
This last week was such a nice break from the low temps. It was actually 50 degrees the other day. I went for a walk and we all went to Reiman Gardens! It was a very pleasant weekend and a good dose of vitamin D for us all. We went to our favorite park, brought our bikes, and the kids rode bikes until the sun was beginning to set. It was so incredibly amazing to be outside and breathe the fresh air! Oh, how I've missed the outdoors so much! I'm not complaining as I know that it's very atypical to be outside, bike riding, on any given January day in Iowa. I'm very grateful in fact!
Checking out a really cool butterfly at the Gardens
I've pulled out some gardening and urban farm magazines from last summer and started to some motivation for this next year. I have some grand plans for this year's garden and I'm excited to get started! Until then, I will sit back on my sofa in the living room and desperately try to enjoy all the glowing white coming from outside our window!
I had to include Samuel's last picture before his big boy haircut!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ethan and Ava's 6th Birthday Party

Ethan and Ava celebrated their 6th Birthday this last weekend with some shared friends and family. The theme this year was camping and Thomas transformed our basement into an amazing camping adventure. The adventure included a slide down down the steps into foam pit followed by a trail through many dark tents and tunnels that led to a gigantic tree covered with green balloons as leaves and an impressive indoor campfire! The kids were pretty amazed and I think they all had a great time. When the kids arrived and sitting together Thomas jumped down from the upstairs dressed in an Indiana Jones vest and hat and asked the kids if they were ready for an adventure? Of course the kids were ready for the fun to begin and Thomas and I came up with a scavenger hunt that would ultimately lead them to the basement steps where they would slide down into the forest. The kids found all their clues, slid down the basement slide and used flashlights to guide them through the tunnels. We only had two kids that weren't so sure about entering the caves but they did ok. Once we were safe in a tent, Thomas turned all the lights out and turned on lightning sounds as if we were stuck in a storm. This is when I had a few kids plead to be released back to their parents :) Shortly after, we turned off the sounds, turned on the flashlights and read some stories instead. After that, we continued through the tunnels and made it to the campfire where all the kids bundled up in their sleeping bags with some trail mix and listened to Papa Shiplett and Grandpa Fawcett tell campfire stories. They were great! They had the kids captivated. We ate cake and amazing cupcakes (thanks to Grandma Fawcett who never disappoints with her baking creations), opened gifts and watched a movie under the stars! Thomas and I are exhausted, but it was well worth the effort. It's hard to believe we have a soon to be 6 year old in the house! Simon and Samuel enjoyed the party as well! Samuel refused to take a nap and wanted in on all the action. I had somewhat planned the party around his nap time so that both Thomas and I would be completely freed up to party with the kids however we were flexible and even though he didn't nap, he was very pleasant for the party and didn't require much added attention. Simon enjoyed the slide so much that we were still sliding days after the party was over. Finally Thomas thought it best to remove the slide since it was becoming a bit of a safety issue as the kids were sending all sorts of toys down the slide and sneaky little Samuel had opened up the basement door and slid down, unattended, several times. Very dangerous! Simon is already talking about his Birthday and how he would love a slide into a prehistoric basement! We're exhausted just thinking about it! This week, we have been trying to recover from a busy month! We did finally get our Christmas tree purchased and decorated. It's a bit smaller than last year which I think is appropriate for our size living room and it gives the kids a little more space to run around. We are excited for the trip to Grandma and Grandpa's in a couple of weeks along with Christmas morning in Ames! The kids can't wait! In the meantime, I will be baking our Holiday cookies and getting them ready to send to our family and neighbors. It's always fun to get the kids involved although I would say they stay involved for about the first batch out of 20 and that's about it! Their favorite are the date balls because they can roll them around in powdered sugar. I hope to take some pictures and get them posted. No snow thus far but we're eagerly awaiting its arrival! We had a few flurries the other night and the kids were having such a difficult time getting to sleep because they couldn't stop looking out their window at the stoplight down the street where they could see the snow falling. Unfortunately, nothing stuck to the ground. We're hopeful and optimistic though, that it will be a white Christmas!
This is the tree, although difficult to see, and the balloon covered ceiling.
This is the campfire that Thomas built and the picture really doesn't do it justice!
Here is a picture of the kids blowing out an amazing flower candle that opens up and plays Happy Birthday!
Here is the slide going into the basement! The lights were all turned off when the kids slid down as well as a wall of streamer and pit foam at the bottom!
The table of goodies along with the campfire cake!
The Birthday kids!
This is the early construction of the tree in our basement!