Monday, September 19, 2011

Beginning again

It has come and gone again...the first day of school, the departure from the leisurely days of summer and the beginning of the voyage into another year of learning and fun.  Its interesting how we do the same things over and over again and they have a newness about them each time yet a nostalgia and tradition clings to them as we remember having done it all before.  In keeping with our nostalgia and tradition, I got a picture of each one of them and then group pictures.  They have grown a lot since we started homeschooling 5 years ago!

After pictures it was right to work.  We started our day with prayer and our Morning Meeting and then moved onto Bible.  We are doing lessons from the Old Testament this year.  I have been searching for a Bible Curriculum that I liked since we started homeschooling and have yet to find one.  I am looking for something that goes through the Word verse by verse (or at least book by book) and has a great deal of application for the kids so they know that God's Word applies to them in their daily lives.  I don't want Bible to be just another subject.  God's Word is Living and True and is the foundation for everything else we do and learn.  I want it to be a source of joy and encouragement, not drudgery. In the past 3 years I have been writing my own curriculum and they have really enjoyed it but it is very time consuming and with the baby coming I knew it wasn't feasible this year.  I ended up finding something very similar to what I had been writing myself and so far I am satisfied with it and they seem to be enjoying it too.  After Bible we do Language Arts and Math.  I do math one group at a time with them while they work on Language Arts.  We are using Life Pacs for the first time this year for Language Arts. They are enjoying them so far and it is allowing Bella, Hannah and Isaac to work independently.  After Math and Language Arts it is on to Science.  We have lots of different things going on for science but we will be doing a lot of life science, especially the study of animals and the human body.  After Science they kids have lunch and recess and then they come in for Art, Music or Creative Writing (depending on the day).  After our "special" we spend our afternoon on History.  We are hoping to finish up Mystery of History this year.  We started last year but didn't get very far.  I am trying to focus a little more on History and Science this year because...well, because I want to.
The boys had to do some science experiments dealing with inclined planes for the first day of school.

The girls had to make a collection of Earth Elements by finding things around the house.  They did a great job.  I was impressed.

For Art we will be continuing to study color for a few more lessons.  They all colored their Tertiary Color Wheel and then the next week they had to color match items in nature by mixing primary and secondary colors to make tertiary colors.

They all did a great job and the girls named their colors.  They had terrific names like "summer's end red" and "Susie's gold".  I decided that it would be a fun job to name paint colors and I wonder who gets to do that in real life.
We will continue adding to our Mystery of History Timeline this year...we have a long way to go to get to the top!

The weekend after school started we headed to Monson to take part in a 5K run/walk.  It was a fundraiser for the town to support the efforts to rebuild after the tornado.  I walked with my mom, sisters, and Isabella.  A few of Kimmy's friends came and Annika joined us in her stroller too.  Because we were walkers we didn't get a number for the race but Isabella made her own little banner to walk with and I just thought it was the sweetest thing.  (If you can't see it well, it is a little man with sword facing a tornado and it says Fight Back).  We had a great time together.
After the walk we were planning to go tag sale but ended up just hanging out at my moms and enjoying the company of one another for the afternoon.

We have had a terrific time harvesting from our garden too!  We picked all of our basil and I made pesto and dried some.  I still have some fresh in a vase too.  It was a LOT of basil!
I filled a few jars with pesto...
And I plopped the rest on cookie sheets to freeze.  Once they were frozen I took them off the sheets and will keep them in a ziploc in the freezer until I need them.  They are perfect for tossing in a soup or in a pan when cooking chicken or something. 
I also dried some of it in the oven.  It smelled sooooooooo good in my house when I was drying it.  If there was a candle called Oven Dried Basil (and I wasn't allergic to scented candles) I would totally get it.

With some of the rest of our harvest I made a fresh salsa.  It got an A- from Jen's husband only because it could have been spicier.  It was really yummy.  I was going to make a cooked salsa so I could can it but it is just so yummy to eat a fresh salsa that I decided to make it that way instead.  No need to try to preserve it anyway, it was gone in a day!

On the first chilly morning we had, my boys got up and went outside bright and early to go sledding.  They requested gloves but I refused to unpack them yet so they wore socks on their hands.  They are funny boys.  Even if the colder weather doesn't bring me joy, my children's joy does.  I'm realizing that there is always something to be thankful for, in every season.  Sometimes, in some seasons, you just have to look harder for the blessings, but they are always, always there.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Oh the fun we had!  Vacation is so wonderful *sang in opera type voice*.  I miss it so much.  It is never long enough.  I love the ocean more and more every time I go there.  Ian doesn't understand why we don't sell our house for "a hundred dollars or something" and just buy one at the ocean.  I don't understand either...

So we started our vacation early on a Saturday morning.  We were all packed up and ready to go.  We stopped for breakfast about 1/2 way there.  The kids were so excited about eating breakfast out.  On one hand it made me feel like I deprive them if they get this excited about breakfast at Denny's, on the other hand, it made me realize how awesome my kids are that they see blessings in every little thing.  I love them so much.  I also realized that eating out on vacation with Super GF Boy (gluten free Ian) would be challenging (but doable).

Just before we left for vacation, Ian lost one of his two front teeth.  I had told him that he would get a double tooth prize if he lost it on vacation.  It was dangling by a string.  After cutting a deal with me, and my agreeing that it was close enough to vacation for the double tooth prize he yanked it a day early.  The other tooth was also hanging precariously, but he dare not push his luck.  He waited until we got to the cottage.  He was there less than an hour when he yanked out the second tooth.  Soooooo Cute!  I love a toothless grin! 
We were all so excited to get to the cottage and see my mom and dad!  We hadn't seen them in weeks and we missed them so much!!!  They are the greatest parents EVER!  I think I mentioned that in the last blog too.  We are so grateful for them and that they let us come stay with them for vacation.  I don't know what we would do without them, certainly not go on an awesome vacation at the beach...
Something happened on vacation this year that hasn't happened on vacation in a very long time.  It rained...hard.  It rained non-stop for two full days.  It was awesome anyway.  Angela and the girls came down in the midst of the rain and they were a ray of sunshine for us all.  Nothing can brighten a rainy day like Madi and Annika!
We are starting to outgrow our little cottage...I'm thinking we'll need a pop up camper for next year. 
Bella and Madi captured my camera for some rainy day fun and took some pretty funny pictures.

The next day, the rain cleared out and we headed to the beach!  My cousin Renee and her daughter Angelique came down to join us for the day.

It was a perfect time for crabbing when we were at the beach.  I love to watch them do this because I have some wonderful memories of crabbing in the very same spot with Angela and my friends Jen and Lindsey.  We have pictures of the four of us that look very much like these, except 25 years older...
My boys were brave enough to hold the crabs.  They were proud of their bravery. (I don't think this crab actually had any front claws lol).

They caught quite a few!
Then, they let them all go to have a race and see who would get to the water first.  These guys buried themselves in the sand immediately. 
But some were more adventurous and headed for the water.  This guy was the winner.
Annika looking adorable in her beach attire.  Hard to believe we'll have a beach baby of our own next year!
A little pizza party at our "Cozy Cottage Cafe" after the beach was great fun for everyone before Angela, Madi and Annika headed home. 
After dinner we went on a nice boat ride on Papa's boat.  The water was so calm and the sky was so beautiful.  Sunset on the ocean is one of my favorite things EVER. 

This is one of my favorite pictures from vacation.  We just picked cotton candy clouds right out of the sky to nibble on our boat ride.  I have a lot of pictures over the years of when we've gone to pick things, but this is my one and only cotton candy picking picture.
One of the highlights of vacation for my boys was all the fishing they got to do.  All three of them caught a lot of fish this year!  Our freezer is restocked with striped bass and bluefish.  Ian caught the striper in the picture below.  That is also one of my favorite pictures from vacation this year.
Isaac and his bluefish...
Ian and his bluefish...
Ian, trying to hold up the striper on his own.  Gotta love when you catch a fish that is too big for you to hold up alone!
The boys and their bluefish.
We were able to spend some more time at another beach called Napa Tree.  It is so much fun.  The kids love it there now that they are getting a little older and can have fun in the waves. 
Bella is part mermaid.  We have to drag her out of the water from time to time to eat and rehydrate.
Ian tried boogie boarding this year and had a blast.  He said it was his favorite part of vacation this year.  He also decided that living where there is no waves is "dumb". 

Jason and I were blessed to have a date night on vacation.  We waited to celebrate our anniversary (11 years!!).  My parents had a delightful evening with the kids and we went out for an awesome dinner, ice cream at my favorite place in Mystic and then stargazed on the beach.  Could an anniversary date night be more perfect?  I think not.  My mom took this picture of us before we left.  Can you believe that belly still has over 2 months to grow?!
One fine day at the ocean my dad took us all out for a cruise up the Mystic River.  It is one of my favorite things to do on vacation.  I love looking at all of the boats and seeing the drawbridge and trestle bridge go up.  Its so relaxing. On our way back my dad took us out for lunch.  Something about pulling up in a boat to go out to lunch makes me feel really cool. 

Isaac had his hand at driving the boat on our cruise.  He took his job VERY seriously and did a great job.
On our way back, we stopped and did some fishing.  The bluefish were having a feeding frenzy around us and it was a blast to see Jay and the kids reel them in one after another!
One of my favorite ocean fish to eat is sea bass, this guy wasn't even big enough for a snack lol.  Maybe we'll get him next year when he's a little bigger.
Bella had the big catch of the day.  She reeled in a huge bluefish.  It was quite the battle and she was pretty tired out when it was all said and done! 
After a long day on the boat we took the kids to an outdoor showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory along the Mystic River.  It was a great time!

Our last full day of vacation we decided to go back to Napa Tree one last time to catch a few more waves.  Our friends DO and Dottie joined us and DO taught Isabella how to fly his big kite.  The kids had so much fun flying it.  Bella did really well!  We also took a long walk to the end of the beach to see where there had been an old military "fortress" built.  It was really neat.  In the past you could walk down stairs and really explore the rooms underground but it is all roped off now and you can only see it from the top.  It was a bit of a hike and I didn't bring the camera but you can check out what we saw by clicking HERE

Then it was time to load the car back up and head home.  This is how the kids felt about leaving...
The great thing is, vacation really wasn't over yet!  We still had over two weeks until school and there was more fun to be had.  Bella got to go back to Lake Compounce with Hannah the day after we got home.  It certainly softened the blow of vacation being over.  We got to go to my friend Jen's and see what was in our garden and play with her boys.  The harvest was plentiful!

I made pickled beets.  This week I am going to make pesto.  We are still waiting for our bounty of tomatoes to turn red so we can make some salsa.  I really love having a garden from which to harvest herbs and vegetables to store and preserve.  It makes me feel so poineerish.  It is lame that pickling beets and freezing pesto makes me think I am a pioneer, I know.  I couldn't hold a candle to Ma Ingalls but still, I shall revel in my accomplishments from the perspective of my pampered modern existence.
On to fall activities...Isaac is playing fall baseball and Ian decided he wants to golf.  He has been asking to join a golf team for a long time but there are no golf "teams" for 6 year olds that I can find.  That said, who needs a golf team?!  Jason knows how to play and is going to take him weekly to the driving range to teach him some things.  Ian is sooo excited that dad is his golf "coach" and is looking very forward to their weekly outings and so is Jason :) 

After we survived Hurricane Irene unscathed we squeezed in another day of summer fun at a water park on Wednesday.  It was a beautiful day and the kids had a blast.  This was actually part of their Christmas present last year which had been a gift for every season.  Summer's gift was a day at a water park.  My friend Megan joined us with her delightful children and a good time was had by all!  We can't wait to go back next year!

So, labor day weekend and then back to school!  I am all prepped and ready to go.  I have planned every subject out from September until June.  Now I will move on to making preparations for baby!  Speaking of which...we are looking for a dresser for Isaac so we can pass his on to the baby (didn't think we would be converting it back to a changing table after all these years...).  We don't have a ton of needs because I can borrow just about everything from my sister!  Yay!  My greatest need (and newest adventure) will be cloth diapers.  I have decided to go cloth with this one, mostly to reduce the constant cost of buying disposables, and because I don't like all the chemicals that are in the disposables.  I'm actually pretty excited about it.  Cloth diapers have come a long way since pins and rubber pants.  It is sort of its own online subculture.  There are actually blogs devoted to sending you various cloth diaper blogs to try to win cloth diapers...I haven't won any...yet ;)
Also looking forward to hitting the town wide tag sale back home next weekend and the Big E coming up in a few weeks.  I wonder what the butter sculpture will be this year...