Saturday, January 28, 2017
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
For instance, you can be glad you do not have to do Birrd's laundry.
There, did I make you feel better?
(This is not me complaining. I do ginormous amounts of laundry "willingly, because [I] have to." Some days, though, I look at the mountain and say "sheesh... that's nuts! Someone should take a picture of that!" So I did.)
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Frog's preschool co-op has just been wonderful this year. There are just four kiddos in it, and they are all easy-going and tractable. Having preschool here at our house doesn't stress me like it did when I did this with Bean so many years ago, partly because it's a small, well-behaved group and partly because I have so much more experience under my belt.
I also have a house full of fun toys and activities that are great for preschoolers, since I have been collecting homeschool stuff for all these years. And then there is Pinterest, my go-to for fun crafts and projects.
I also have Roo and Rabbit, who both love to help. Having an extra pair of hands is so helpful, especially with a tricky craft or when serving snacks. I feel very lucky to have two girls who are old enough to help and who enjoy it.
Today we had preschool here and it was fun. We played with Wikki Stix and blocks. We made little booklets about the letter R. We read a book about rain and a book about a rabbit. We ate bananas and graham crackers. We put together an ABC floor puzzle. We played Zingo. It was simple and fun. Other weeks I have done more complicated things like making shaving cream rain clouds and snow dough out of baking soda and hair conditioner. I always overplan, too, and have to remind myself frequently that simple is best, lots of unstructured play time is so important, and it always takes them longer to do stuff than I think it will.
Peanut loves participate also, and it's great to have her in the group too. One of the other moms is also a homeschooler, and her oldest is a Kindergarten-aged boy, so she has been letting Peanut come to her house the weeks she teaches so her son will have someone to play with. Peanut loves that, and those weeks are so nice because then it's just me, Roo, Rabbit, and the twins for a few hours and we really get a lot done. I also love the weeks when just Frog goes and I have a little more attention just for Peanut.
It has been fun to watch Frog grow and learn this year. He is catching on quickly to his letters and numbers. He can handle scissors better and better. He is still working on learning to write his name, but he will get there soon.
I am so grateful for the preschool co-op!
Monday, January 16, 2017
We were all so sick over Christmas break, and when New Year's came, we were still recovering. So we knew we were just going to keep things low key at home with our family. The Badger never likes to stay up late, even on New Year's Eve, so wild parties don't happen. But I like New Year's. I like to stay up, and I like to make the evening fun and special.
Pizza is a pretty standard party food around here, but this time I took it to a new level. I had heard about a local place that makes a huge 30 inch pizza. I determined to get one, but I didn't tell anyone what I was doing, just that I was getting something different. It was fun to see their faces when I showed up with this enormous box.
That pizza was so big that even our huge, pizza-crazy family couldn't eat it all. We had enough leftovers for all of us to have lunch the next day.
After that we watched movies and put together a puzzle. I got out one we haven't done in years: my map of London puzzle that I bought in London when I was there on study abroad in college. It's a pretty tricky puzzle, but it's fun to remember London and all the wonderful places there. I'm getting old though-- it was hard for me to read all the itty bitty writing.
There were various movies going on, but the one I watched was the new Pete's Dragon. Bean really wanted to see it. I didn't want to-- I often end up disappointed by movie remakes. But it was playing in the room where I was puzzling, so I ended up watching it. To my surprise, it was absolutely delightful and I loved it.
And that's how we welcomed in 2017. It blows my mind that it's 2017. I hear dates like 2012 and 2009 and even 2003 and I think "that just barely happened" and then I realize it was years ago... I guess that's a pretty universal feeling for people who have lived on this earth awhile, but it still feels fresh and bewildering to me.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
I set the stuff aside for when we were better, but then we were busy and it got forgotten for awhile. Finally, it happened, and here are some pictures of our experience. Such a fun craft!
This was the other day when it was really cold outside. I only have on of those snowsuits, so I'm glad I can usually leave one or both twins at home when I go places!
For years, I hauled all my kids with me almost every time I went anywhere. Especially since I homeschooled. My kids learned to roll with it, and they became good travelers and shoppers. Most of the time I didn't mind packing them around with me. People said, though, "just wait until you have one old enough to babysit! It is such a game changer!"
It was nice when Bean was old enough to tend a little bit, which was around the time that Frog was born. But I still didn't mind taking all the kids with me places.
Until I had twins.
I can't tell you how grateful I have been over the last two years for all my older helpers! If I have to take the twins with me somewhere, I have help getting them in and out of the car. And usually, I don't have to bring both of them with me. In fact, often I don't have to bring either one with me!
I like to take just one of them along though. I like to separate them for a bit and give me a chance to just enjoy one of them on their own and the other a chance to play at home without always having someone their same age right there. Of course that companionship is a blessing of being a twin, but I think sometimes they need a break. I know I do!
When I thought about what to do with a hoard of kids between the ages of 3 and 7, I thought, "well, they need to be able to run and jump and scream." So I rented one of those places that are full of giant inflatable things you can jump and climb and slide on. They allowed me a generous amount of guests, so we ended up with twenty or so kids, in addition to my eight kids and the adults that were there.
All the kids ran and jumped and screamed to their hearts' content. Many of the adults did as well. I, myself, did a fair bit of running and jumping (maybe not much screaming though.)
It was just so much fun.
Here's Frog blowing out candles...
One of my friends MADE Peanut and Frog these adorable dinosaur tails as their gift... Twig loves them too!
Fish and Bean didn't want to come to the party. Oh, teenagers! Just a couple years ago and they would have just died to be there. Well, I dragged them along anyway. Once Fish got jumping around, he had a marvelous time. Bean jumped a little bit, then curled up in the corner with a fantasy novel.
But see, that's why I wanted to do this. Because I know that one day they won't want to anymore. I gotta milk these years for all they're worth.
The giant slide was a blast.
The twins had the time of their lives. It was great having a venue where they could have as much fun as everyone else. There was a toddler jumping area and they enjoyed that a lot, but they also tried all the big kid stuff too, even the big slide. They loved it.
Happy birthday, sweet Peanut! I am so glad I could celebrate you with this fabulous party!
The Badger had so much fun. In addition to shooting hoops with Fish, he enjoyed racing through the obstacle course. He beat me both times I raced him.
It was just a wonderful, wonderful time for all of us!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
I am not exactly up on the cutting edge of tech, so I didn't know about Spotify until recently, when a friend mentioned it on Facebook. He said he loved it for finding obscure classical music pieces.
THAT piqued my interest!
I downloaded the free version to my PC and started out by looking up old choral works: songs I'd sung in choirs years ago that have stayed in my brain and my heart but which I had no recording of. AND THERE THEY WERE. "Hail, Gladdening Light"! Healy Willan's "Three Kings"! Just a few clicks of the keyboard, and there was more John Rutter music than I could listen to in the next decade. A few more clicks and there were dozens of Bach albums. An avalanche of Handel, a tsunami of Tchaikovsky, a mountain of Mozart.
It was exciting and overwhelming as I came to grasp the magnitude of this music collection. If the classical collection was this thorough, other music genres were going to be as well.
That concerned me a little bit, if my children were to start messing around with it. I told the kids to stay off of it. That didn't last long, of course. But so far, it's been fine. If it ever becomes a problem I can find some way to block their access to it, but my kids at this point have no interest in listening to stuff with explicit lyrics or whatever else I was afraid of them finding on there.
Fish discovered movie soundtracks. Bean got on too. Now they each have their own playlist and they love it. I love it that Bean listens to Bach to perk up his brain when he has to do homework late in the evening.
I loved it at Christmas time... endless new Christmas albums to explore.
Now I am making Sunday playlists and mood playlists. Every time I get on Spotify I have so much fun. And I am just scratching the surface.
I may upgrade to a paid subscription at some point, because the ads are kind of annoying. But the free version is pretty great, and I am still just awestruck at the incredible amount of music I now have access to.
Isn't this an amazing time to be alive?
Friday, January 6, 2017
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
I am going to just blab about stuff going on around here lately.
The kids got out the Citibloks for the first time in awhile and they are having so much fun with them. I love rotating our toys so that this happens. And I love Citibloks. The kids really use their imaginations because the blocks are so simple. It's like the opposite of screen time... and I think my kids get way too much screen time (even though I am always trying to put a lid on it!) So I am always happy to see them doing whole-brain activities like playing outside or building with simple blocks.
The Badger just shaved off the beard he was growing and I'm sad. Every couple of years or so he starts to grow a beard. I never thought I liked facial hair much, but dang! It looks so good on him. But what always happens is that just when it is starting to look really really good, he shaves it off. He said it was itching and driving him crazy. He said it bugs him when it rubs against his pillow at night. Sigh. Too bad. I didn't even get a picture first.
I am trying to be more organized. I love how January gives me the chance to start fresh. I just assigned each of my five oldest kids a night to make dinner. I will assist as needed (heavily, in the case of Peanut) but they get to pick the main dish and make it. They also each have another different night when they are assigned to make a salad or vegetable. This tackles a long-standing problem in our household: we are good at making main dishes for dinner but not so good at making healthy side dishes, so we fill up on the typically cheesy, meaty, carb-heavy main dish and end up eating way more calories and way less fiber than we need. So I am excited about this new system. It will require more planning and organization on my part, but the kids like to cook and I think they will respond well to having an expected weekly chef turn. Plus they will gain lots of new cooking skills. That makes me happy.
I am still trying to figure out a workout routine. I gained about 7 pounds during the holidays being a sloth and eating everything sweet I could get my hands on. It was great short-term, but that is not how I want to live my life all the time. I am eager to get back into exercising and eating sensibly, but the exercise part is so hard for a mother of a large family. I feel like I really don't have time to go exercise without something or someone suffering for it. And yet, if I don't exercise, the whole family and I will suffer for that. It's a catch-22.
Frog likes rhyming words. He's very cute about it. (Frog is very cute in general.) Just in the last few days he has started composing poetry. I will leave you with a poem he told me today, followed by a picture of the Rabbit with a Citiblok creation.
I woke up one morning
And came down the stairs
But no bears.
Every fall, when the Rainbow Resource Center toy catalog comes, my kids spend hours pouring over it and picking out all the things they would like to have. I have no problem with this because the toys in the catalog are educational and quality, and I always make a big order from Rainbow Resource at Christmas time.
The kids all know I like to buy high quality plastic figures (Schleich or Safari brands) so they pay special attention to those in the catalog. This year there was one they all immediately wanted. I saw him and knew we needed him at our house, so I bought. Then I couldn't decide who to give him to since everyone wanted him, so I put him on the mantel and he was there looking down on us on Christmas morning. He's still there. I believe he is going to be a long-standing household icon.
Meet Grumpy Dragon. He makes me smile.