12/27/11

Our 2011 Adventures

This year we tackled a lot of firsts in our family.  We truly mixed things up and made our lives uncomfortable, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.  So as adventures go (taking the good with the bad), the following is a list of our many, many firsts for 2011.

-the discovery of elanaspantry.com and cooking with almond flour: I have only had one true recipe flop.  This style of eating has truly transformed our gluten free lifestyle and has made it so that I am nolonger a short order cook.  We all eat the same thing.
-motor home trip: 4 kids, 4 provinces, 7 days, you decide
-5 hour international flight as a family + return: thank goodness we had help
-entire family attended a wedding in which my husband was in the party and he wanted to show off our delightful family (read: pulling my hair out difficult, not to be repeated.....unless of course their uncles ever decide to settle down)
-felting
-lip balm making
-beeswax candle making
-knitting
-foraging for food other than mushrooms
-unplugged Sunday
-major house renovation
-multiple appliance relacement: dishwasher, furnace, dryer
-cooking curry and acquiring a tast for it
-Pho
-new job as Sales Manager and more house responsibilities for me
-LBB skiing :)
-BW transitioning from crawling to walking and speaking a number of words: 'what's that', 'thanks', 'Nan',
-officially home learning
-went 2+ months without an illness (Wow.  Our crazy diet does work.)
-drove 8 hours round trip with 4 kids to visit my sister for 3 hours
-Animal can write his name without any assistance, anytime he likes

12/26/11

Skiing Hill

We are at the ski hill.  We are having a blast. 
Yesterday:
 I watched and skiied with all 3 of my boys.
I helped and watched Little Boy Blue ski for the first time.  He's hooked.
I played cards with all 4 kids. 
I cooked healthy cookies for the kids. 
I sat and knitted with my mom.
I read books with my boys.
I skied with my husband.
I walked to the village twice.  Once by myself.  Once with three kids.
I watched both my parents spend time with my kids.
I listened to my husband play trains with LBB over the baby monitor.
I snuggled with my husband on the couch when everyone was asleep and watched Big Bang Theory reruns.
I enjoyed a full-on, Nan-style Turkey Dinner.  Yum
Builder organized a 'dine' at dinner: lights low, heads down, candle, each say what was good about their day.

This is what vacations are all about.

12/22/11

We Survived

Well, these past three weeks have been long.  We have watched more video's than I care to count.  The toddler is a bear from being catered to and allowed to eat as he pleased.  We all contracted the Chicken Pox, except my Husband.  And we all contracted the Flu, except BW.  A few more days and I think we may be out of the illness scare.  Ya.  We survived. 

Having 4 children does increase the fun, but it also increases the sick days.  Now for some healthy vacation fun.  The twins headed to the ski hill today with Nan and Papa.  We have had to postpone their trip for three weeks now.  The have been counting down the sleeps.  Today, they started packing as soon as they awoke.  Builder was waiting in the front yard a 1/2 hour before my parents were set to arrive.  They were truly ready to go.  LBB was sad to see his brothers go without him, but we quickly remedied that with a trip to the library, a smoothie, and time playing Tonka Cars with just him, BW, and I.  We ate dinner late.  Played in the bath.  And he got to pick his night time video.  I think he was happy to say goodbye to his brother in the end. 

I will be busy preping for our vacation tomorrow and then we are off.  Wahoo.

12/20/11

Life

It has only taken 5 years, but my brother has finally warmed up to being an uncle.  He is even feeding BW.  He came over and we had our 3 month visit!!!  We only live an hour apart and yet never seem to see eachother :(

The other two children are missing from the picture because we are now battling the flu.  Yup, we still have lingering spots, no longer contagious, but now have the flu.  Yick.  Hopefully, this will all clear up in time for our vacation in 4 days.  At the same time, Builder seems to have picked up some mysterious allergy.  He developed hives all over his body yesterday that subside with Benedryl, but return after some time.  I thought he may be allergic to some new paint we were using, so I thoroughly cleaned his nails and he had a bath.  The hives still remain, though.  I am a bit baffled.

We are all looking forward to our week with Dad.  Hopefully, we will be well enough to enjoy ourselves.

12/8/11

Life

We are sick.  Not the normal cold/flu-asthma fear that we usually have going.  We have the Chicken Pox.  Ug.  Actually, so far the toddler, who from this point on will now be referred to as Little Boy Blue (LBB), is the only one sporting the pox.  It's kind of wierd to see what he will look like with his hormonal-teen-pimple face that he is sure to have inherited from me.  The baby, who will now be referred to as Book Worm (BW) because she absolutely loves books, has spent the entire day sleeping and has a low fever.  I expect her spots to emerge soon.  The twins, twin1 to be referred to as Animal and twin2 to be referred to as Builder, are still going concerns.  Life seems to be carrying on, except that we are no longer able to have social outings.  And I think the choir performance that we have been preparing for will no longer happen.  We will have to wait and see if the twins get sick, too.

The twins have been playing chase constantly.  I think this is a result of too much time spent in the house during these cold days.  I kicked them out of the house tonight, so I could prepare dinner without being the safety zone.  I am constantly saying, "Out of the kitchen."  It would be so much easier if they would just help cook dinner.  Usually LLB does.  But at the moment, everything he touches hurts.  Poor little man.

BW is walking.  Ya.  14 1/2 months old.  Way to go BW.

I am drained.  My husband has been covering shifts, or watching the super bowl, and I am on my third week of 6 full days with the kids.  He hasn't even managed his one early (1 hour) night a week.  Last weekend we unplugged for his one day off.  The kids really enjoyed this and so did we.  I think we are attempting this about once a month.  It is nice to have a complete family focus for the day.  The kids asked to watch TV while drinking their milk and we told them no because...  The were even phased.  They were happy to cuddle up and read some books with Dad.  We also walked up my parents mountain and went for an afternoon swim at the pool.  I am ready for these 6 day weeks to be over.  However, 2 more and we are on holidays at the ski hill.  Wohoo.

The reno is slowly coming to an end.  And boy am I ready for it to be over.  It seems as though the workers do something outside and muddy up the area and then decide to do something inside and track all the mud in.  I have been constantly vacuuming and washing the floor.  The counter top went in last week.  It is amazing.  We had a family dinner last weekend and dumped all the dirty dishes on it and there was still some usable space left.  Wow.  They did leave a huge mess that I came home to, though.  They must have done their cutting in the house, instead of outside.  Grrr.  Wood dust was everywhere when I came home from a super long day of visiting my sister, including 7 hours of driving time.  That was not what I wanted to come home to and had to spend the entire next morning making the kitchen livable again.  A necessity when I have to cook every meal.

We made candles today.  It was fun.  The kids loved it.  Especially lighting and blowing out their candle.  Fun.  We have some major mood lighting for dinner tonight.  And with that, dinner is ready.  Good Night.

12/5/11

Finishing Quilts


I finished up a couple of quilts lately.  The two above were made for the twins.  About a year ago, they both picked  out their own fabric.  Bob the Builder for twin2 and Safari Animals for twin1.  The are very appropriate.  I was a bit afraid that their interests would change while I finished them up, but their infatuation still continue.  I finished the opposing side of both with a pirate map theme.  Both boys are very proud of their quilts and so am I.  They love almost everything I make for them.  As I was finishing twin1's quilt, the toddler asked where his quilt was.  Since my mom has made him a beautiful quilt, I thought that I wouldn't make one for him.  I guess I was wrong.  I hope the store still has some more of the fabric to make the rainbow.



 Here is another quilt that only took 2 1/2 years to complete.  It was the second quilt I started and his a bit too intricate for my taste, although I love the pin wheel pattern.  The embroidery took the majority of the time, though.  The result, however, is beautiful.  This one was made special for my mother and father in-law.



I still have one more quilt for my husband that needs finishing.  It is all pieced together, but needs the filling, quilting, and binding.  Then, I'll have to get started on one for the toddler.  That will be a hard one because he doesn't really seem to have any specific passion.  I think he will have to go to the store with me!!

11/22/11

Some Girl Candy

 With my week of Home Learning posts, which mainly happens while the baby sleeps, the content has been void of the baby.  So, here are some recent pictures.

My mom made her this adorable, yet ridiculous, coat.  It is even lined with red sateen.  She looks like a giant pillow.  Very luxurious for this little girl.


Cheese
She is now attempting little snippets of walking.  However, she only does this when there is an audience.  She know when to get attention.  Otherwise she sticks to the tried and true.

She is truly part of the crowd.  This afternoon, we were attempting a craft while she was awake.  We were all situated around the dinning table.  She sidled up to her chair and demanded she sit in it, so she could participate.  

A Day of Home Learning

We were supposed to go to co-op and build balloon powered cars; however, I opted for a day off.  I new the next couple days would be busy.  Saturday the kids spent the better part of the day with my mom and dad while I listened to David Albert speak - a home school guru.  On Sunday the twins and I had tickets to see a play - the Velveteen Rabbit.  So, we decided to stay home.

I pulled out a craft that I have been wanting to try out for some time.  We felted snakes.  We had a great time and the results were great.  They truly look like snakes.  The draw back is that the snakes have turned into a switch for hitting each other with.  Alas, the snakes have disappeared!!  But we had a great time making them.

The remainder of the day was pretty low key.  Some book reading, Lego building, closet deconstruction.  A low key day.


11/18/11

A Day of Home Learning

We headed out of the house early this morning to check out the new "Craft Plus!" hobby store that opened up in town.  We had a blast perusing the isles.  The hit was the model train that they kept in constant action until the moment we headed out the door.  We came away with a few things: glitter for future craft days, wool roving for a future project, and a Perler Beed Funfusion kit.

Upon return to the house, the baby headed off to bed and we all headed to the couch for our book reading. We read several "Poppleton" books today.  Then we headed to the kitchen for an experiment.  Some time ago, I found an imitation silly putty recipe on a blog and bookmarked it for a rainy day.  Over the past few months I had collected the ingredients when I spotted them and was prepared for a day of inside experimentation.  First we made one batch together for the toddler, then the twins made their own.  The had to make them their favorite colours.  This experiment turned out to be a complete hit.  I would return to the kitchen many times throughout the day and find one, two, or three boys experimenting with their goo.  They carried on right up until bedtime when they showed daddy what they made.

Mixing the goo together to make imitation silly putty

playing with the concoction

It had to be orange and of course we had to figure out how to make the colour first.

Green
 After tiring of the goo for a bit, we pulled out the craft I bought from the store in the morning.  I didn't have time to fully read the instructions for fear of something in the store being broken, so was a bit disappointed to find that it was more of an individual activity.  In true team work style, though, we made a go of it and with twin2 at the helm, we created our first fusion figure - a backhoe!!  This was a successful craft that I am sure will re-emerge time and again.  I will have to pick up 2-3 more peg boards, though.
As I didn't have much time to read the instructions before leaving the store.  I did not realize there was only one peg board.  Alas, a lesson in working together.

Fusion.

The result - a backhoe, as per the guidance of twin2.

I kept finding the kids playing with their imitation silly putty throughout the day, right up until bed time.  We have already played with it today, too.  Twin1 was seeing how far it would stretch before breaking.
The afternoon was spent at choir.  We are making progress with the songs.  We practice in the car and at meal times.  I downloaded the melodies from You Tube and we have practiced using those.  We ended the day with the card games "Go Fish" and "Tastes Like Chicken."  Like I say, a busy day as usual.

11/17/11

A Day of Home Learning

This past weekend, we attended a wonderful family turkey dinner hosted by my courageous cousins and their little man.  I was asked several times how home school was going and whether I had started a curriculum.  I gave my standard answer, "It's going just fine.  We always stay busy.  No, we have started no curriculum.  Really, what happens in kindergarten anyway?"  To that most people, including my family smile and nod and respond with a hesitant, "Okay."   I thought about my casual response and decided to share a week of what goes on around here.  So, here goes a week of home learning posts.  I have already written 2, but  did miss a day in between, so I will add that in now.

***********

Tuesday was a day of Bridges.  We are preparing for an upcoming bridge building day with our co-op.  The goal of that day is pretty much free form.  The kids have an opportunity to build a bridge using a medium of their choice and then each child will get an opportunity to share their bridge with the rest of the kids.

So, I took out a bridge book from the library and left it on the shelf for the kids to peruse at will, or during our book reading session.  We looked it over a few times and as our library borrow time was coming to an end, I suggested we try to build some model bridges.  The kids immediately had grand plans of building a bridge from our house, across the lake, all the way to the ski hill.  I recommended we start small first.

So, we looked at the book more closely.  Learned the bridge lingo: pier, footing, truss, deck...  And discovered the different types of bridges: arch, rope, pillar..  We watched a couple of You-Tube videos on bridges and bridge building contests.  Then we dug out the cardboard, tape and scissors and began building.  We built three different bridges and then tested them out with their toy cars.  We discovered that some reinforcement would be needed if cardboard was used.  We discovered that wide, low bridges were sturdier.  We discovered that painters tape does not stick very well to cardboard.  We will need duct tape for the co-op event.

We let the bridge building morning stew during the afternoon and carried on with other things, including playing with the bridges.  Upon return from our after-dinner-walk, twin2 disappeared when he should have been getting his pj's on.  I went to look for him and there he was building bridges out of lego.  So, I plopped down and built bridges with him.  We were soon joined by the rest of the kids and we continued to experiment with how to make sturdy bridges until bed time.  In fact, my husband ended up locked on the back deck fumbling with his keys trying to open the door in the dark only to discover us all crammed in the smallest room of the house building lego bridges.  We were having a blast. 

As the co-op bridge build isn't until next Friday, we will probably attempt another bridge building session again next week.  Fun, fun.

11/16/11

A Day of Home Learning

After reading some animal stories curled up in the bed of twin1, we headed upstairs for dictation.  This is the third time I have done this.  My goal is to do this every 6 months to see how they progress in imagination, story telling, creativity, interests, story telling....  Each time, I plan to use the same materials and see how the utilization progresses.  I have 3 plain felt boards and a selection of felt figures.  They make their own picture and when done, tell me a story about, or to go along with their picture.  Today was the first time the toddler joined us. 

 This is the toddler's picture.  I believe he wanted to use all the figures.  The twins also did this the first few times I brought these out.
The toddler's story.  Written at almost 3 years of age.

 This is the picture of twin2.
The story of twin2. Written at almost 5 and a half years.

 This is the picture of twin1.
The story of twin1.  Written at 5 and a half years.
 The kids seem to really enjoy telling their own stories and my writing it down for them. 
 
During the afternoon, we headed over to my Uncles for a lesson on wood splitting.  The littles and I headed to the grocery story and left them to their work.  If you look closely, you may be able to see the snow flakes falling.  The twins had a blast and I think my Aunt and Uncle did too.  There was quite a pile of split wood when I returned an hour later.  Twin2 was fully decked out in 'Bob' dress: hard hat, work vest and tools.  He even brought his tool box and shed tools with him.

This evening we are off to the library for a pajama story time before bed.  Good night.

11/15/11

A Day of Home Learning


After reading a large selection of books until my voice went hoarse.  I suggested we head outside and pick the last of the mint/parsley/thyme and dry it in our new, wonderful, dehydrator.  We had to buy a new one because I burned out the motor on my mom's 20 year old version.  This herb picking suggestion quickly morphed into twin1 suggesting we need a ginger garden.  I said that all my gardens were full and that there was no room for ginger.  Together, the 3 boys decided they needed to build their own garden.  Twin1 was the foremen and he quickly began planning the layout of the flora to fill the box.  Twin2 immediately grabbed his hammer, nails, and wood and started building.  All three worked as a team and built their own garden box.  When I asked if twin1would get a turn with the hammer, I was quickly informed that he was the foremen and they don't work!!  Eeek.  I guess we better stop teasing grandpa.  They would never have gotten the opportunity to do this had they been in school.
Currently, the have moved the garden box to my preferred yard location and have begun to fill the box with dirt.  Well done boys.

11/10/11

Blank

I have been drawing a bit of a blank for writing inspiration lately.  I hurt my back this weekend and have a sore throat.  So, I have been trying to take things easy and recuperate.  That is not quite so easy to do around here.  We are also hosting home school co-op tomorrow, so I am trying to get things picked up and put away.  We are having a paramedic father present tomorrow.  Should be exciting for the kids.  Also, as it is Nov 11 we will have a few more kids and fathers here, too.  In fact my husband gets to participate in his first co -op.  I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Instead of spring cleaning, I am winter de-cluttering.  Yup.  Out with all the stuff we accumulated, broke, grew out of in the last 8 months.  It is amazing how quickly it all piles up again.  I threw out 3 bags of toys this morning.  Weeded out a few books that hadn't seen the light since the last time I went through them.  And am attempting to go through my bathroom.  Ug.  All that makeup.  I know that most of it has gone bad, but it just costs so much. 

My husband and I are starting to look towards our next home project.  The downstairs laundry and bathroom.  It need some major organization and reworking as we also hope to fit the fridge from the storage room and much of the extra food in the cupboards..Then its on to the storage room, which will become Andre's future room.  The goal is to have the baby and I move back downstairs.  Ya.  There seems to be a light and a shared bed in my future once again.

In the meantime, the kids and I continue to read books, craft, visit the library, co-op, walk in nature, tour the many farms around here and enjoy all the time we get to spend together. 

11/9/11

November

This is a busy month.  We had a 3 day weekend with my husband and had a great time as a family.  My husband and I left all 4 kids Saturday night with my wonderful parents and headed into the big city for a show.  We had a good time.  It was a bit disappointing because we have seen similar shows that were over-the-top great.  But it was still nice to get out just the 2 of us.  We were totally under dressed for the weather, though.  The cold has completely set in and it is time for heavy coats  and gloves.  The baby faired okay without me.  She refused to take a bottles and thus was very happy to see me, or should I say my chest, at 2:30 in the morning.  We arrived home at 1:30 am and relieved my sick mom, who went home and slept for the next 2 days and is still recovering, and dad, who went home and started work - crazy.  That night was the time change, but with 4 littles in the house the extra hour of sleep was non-existent.  We are still adjusting.  I got my hair done on Monday and Tuesday my husband got to take part in the twin's choir practice.  I am glad he got to participate.  That night I hosted the home learners parent gathering and felt the pressure of running the show, but it was nice to get out and have a start-to-finish conversation and use my brain.  The remainder of the month has dentist appointments, work party, family turkey dinner, and home-school speaking engagement. Busy, busy.  I hope I survive.

Family




11/3/11

We made Lip Balm





As commented on by my mother, "I had no idea it would be that good."  Yes, it is good stuff.  Super easy and cheap (after original start up, of course).Oh and I can pronounce all the ingredients.

11/1/11

12

12 is the number of cans of pop the 3 boys emptied all over the twins bedroom.  Yes, all over: walls, beds, floors, ceilings.

I was having such a great day.  I had just made bread.  The kids were all playing nicely (HA) downstairs.  Although, they had all just come up, changed, and ran back downstairs.  This should have tipped me off.  Instead, I carried on.  Cleaned up the kitchen and was heading downstairs to change the laundry over and get some items from the storage room to replenish those that I had just emptied while baking.  On the way to the storage room, I noticed the 4 cans of pop laying on the floor of the twins bedroom.  On inspection, the pop was everywhere.  I attempted to remain calm and not scream at the kids whilst expressing my current level of disapproval.  Ug.

I began to clean things up.  I figured I should get it done before it dried in and had things begin to stick to it. The floor would have to be cleaned, so I called my mom to see if she had a carpet cleaner.  She was kind enough to rent one for me as the baby was sleeping.  I started in on the walls and moved my way around the room, working my way from top to bottom.  Once I reached the kids beds and started cleaning them, I noticed the 8 cans of pop hidden in one of the shelves in their captains beds.  Ug.  12.  12 cans of pop emptied all over their room.

When my mom came to deliver the floor cleaner and suggested she take the boys until dinner time, she could barely contain her smirk.  In fact it frequently escaped her lips.  There was probably a giggle as she walked out of the house towing my delinquent children with her.

On the brighter side, I had just been thinking it was time for a thorough cleaning of the twins room.  I can't get anymore thorough than removing every piece of furniture, washing the walls, and cleaning the carpet.  Oh yes, I could paint.  I had planned to paint their room this winter, I guess the time line just moved up to - now.

Do I dare repeat it - 12.  Feel my pain.

Post Script:
I am not sure that I described how the boys opened the 12 cans of pop.  Usually this would be a difficult task; however, when you are as creative as my kids are then a solution is quickly found.  Alas, they opened all 12 cans with a hammer.  Yes, a hammer.
***********
At a family dinner a week later, I was retelling this story to a room full of 15+ people.  My mom was invovled in the retelling and it turns out the events did not end with the kids being shoed out the door with my mother giggling under her breath. 

Upon arrival at my parents house, my dad sat the boys in a row on the couch and tried to discover the instigator.  He asked each one who started the the "pop smash": twin1 and twin2 unanimously replied 'the toddler', the toddler quickly replied 'the baby'.  On questioning him about the ability of the baby to even open the storage room door, the toddler started to rethink his accusation.  My mother said, "You could see the wheels turning."  After a few moments the toddler responded, "Nan!" That was the end of that.  No instigator was discovered.  They were all in cahoots.

A few days later, while my mother was telling my sister the story with the addition of the accusations, my sister pointed out that it was Nan who started it all.  ???  The night before the "pop smash" we had our weekly family dinner at my parent's house.  After dinner, my mom pulled out a bag of hazelnuts that she had unearthed from her freezer during a recent defrost session.  She proceeded to get out a sturdy cutting board and a hammer and showed the three boys how to open the hazelnuts with the hammer.  It turns out, my mother caused the entire incident.  Hmmm.

The Girl Loves Music

video
This little girl is cutting 6 teeth at the moment.  She is wonderfully pleasant, but desires to nurse every 2 hours.  Understandable considering the state of her mouth.

10/26/11

Assisted Wallking


She has finally decided to take some measure towards walking and will walk assisted if forced.  She can, however, go up and down the stairs all on her own.  Oh, and I did immediately remove the marble from her mouth.  And the toddler was okay.

video

Relaxed Lunch


This is not normal for our house.  All meals, snacks are eaten at the table.  But, he just finished a stressful situation with his brothers and needed some down time.  So, while his brothers remained downstairs building Lego, he vegged and sandwiched on the couch. 

Never, ever, ever, wash and DRY a diaper!

Last week was a busy week.  Busier than normal.  The floor was installed Wednesday and we had to be out of the house the entire day.  So, with my mom's house as our hub, we went Hazelnut picking in the morning and to our swim lessons in the afternoon.  We arrived at our house after dinner.  The floor is gorgeous.  Thursday morning was more relaxed, for the kids. I had an entire house to clean for my first home school co-op on Friday and then a large Turkey dinner on Sunday.  The morning cleaning extravaganza was followed by our first choir practice - which reminds me of some songs that we are supposed to be learning and aren't.  oops.  Thursday night, I was informed by our contractor that his subordinate would be at the house the following day to trim.  WHAT!  My husband kindly let them know there would be 30 people running around the house.  They chose to hold off a day.  Phew.  Friday saw 17 kids and 5 moms gather in the house for "show-and-tell" and drama.  We had a blast.  The kids were great.  Surprisingly little mess was made.  These kids prefer to be outside when possible.  Ya.  Saturday was spent cooking and preparing for the 16 person Turkey dinner.  And Sunday was the event, which was our least stressful large gathering dinner to date.

During the co-op I received a call from my husband.  I assumed he was calling to see how the house and I were holding up with all the people.  I said that things were great and the builders had decided not to show, so some of the stress was relieved.  He was happy to hear that.  He then suggested that I may want to rewash the last of the 5 loads of laundry that I had washed the previous day and had left in the dryer because I had accidentally washed and dried a diaper with it.  Um, okay.  And, yick.  That was the end of that conversation.  After all the kids left, I headed down stairs to rewash the clothes.  As soon as I opened the laundry room door I knew I had a problem.  The urine stench was over powering.  I rewashed the clothes, opened the window and left the dryer door open,  This did not help.  When the washer beeped done, the smell was still there.  I took a closer look and the dryer was coated with urine diaper glue.  Ick.  Not wanting to deal with it yet, I closed the door and left.  This is how I problem solve.  I have to walk away from the problem and ponder the situation.  When my husband arrived home from his 3 day leadership course that night, he said that he had to quickly get his clothes off.  Ahhhh.  Ick, again.  He irons his clothes in the dryer and ended up smelling like urine the entire day, confined in a room with 11 people, learning about leadership.  Oops. 

A few days ago, I was telling ,my sister, who just had a new baby, to never, ever dry a diaper.  She burst out laughing when I told her about my husband's predicament and said, "Follow me, I smell like pee!"  Sorry, babe.

PS.  A smearing of Pink Solution, a wipe down, and then a drying with a very wet blanket washed in pink solution solved the dryer smell problem.

10/22/11

Bath Time

This doesn't happen any more.  The bath is too small.  The kids are too big.  Usually I divide and conquer: littles first, twins second.  But I figured I had to get at least one picture of all four of them in there together.

The Reno



This is my new favorite place in the house.  I enter the kitchen and my face lights up.  It is truly Luxurious to have all this space.  The kids are no longer under foot when we eat or I am cooking.  The frustrations are limited because I am not tripping over them.  My parents had a few spare lounge chairs that they let us have and there is nothing better than getting a few minutes in the afternoon sun, drinking tea, and reading a book with one of the kids.  The baby can now see me when I am cooking and happily eats her meal/snack.  The shoes are no longer all over the entry and the dirt is contained a bit better.  There is some major progress happening today as the builders are here all day.  Should be fun.

Hazelnut Picking




This was our first ever hazelnut picking.  We had no idea what to expect.  It turns out there are no ladders involved.  You just pick them off the ground.  In half an hour we picked 8.5 lbs and had a great time.  We had a taste test in the store and bought some Hazelnut Honey - oh, my - Yum.  We got them home, cleaned them, and partially dried them in the oven.  Now they are hanging in nylons on my bedroom door.  We will do this again next year.  The kids love having a bowl of nuts on the counter.  They sit at the bar while I cook, crack nuts, and we talk.  I really do love having my kids home with me.

Mom

The wonderful person who offered us a camera.  Now there will be some colour to this blog again.  Thank you.

10/20/11

Numbers

3 meals prepared
2 snacks
5 loads of laundry washed and put away
8 cups/bottles of pseudo-milk prepared
4 more cups/bottles of milk still to prepare
1 wall primed
1 table put back together, glued, and clamped
8.5 lbs of hazlenuts partially dried in the oven
8.5 lbs of hazlenuts in nylons hanging on doors drying
2 boys taken to choir practice
2 littles dancing to the singing at choir practice
4 cups of tea consumed
2 times I have sat since waking this morning (and did something for me)
1 shower I took
3 showers still to give
1 bath to prepare
5 times I nursed the baby (so I guess I sat a few more times)
2 times I have cleaned the toilet, so far
2 pizzas in the oven for dinner (fake crust, sauce, and cheese - mmm!)
1 loaf of Almond Bread I should have made today and now have to make tonight
1 wall still to finish painting before bed
1 episode of Survivor to watch and then head to bed
Sleep, still a long way away

10/15/11

Life

I think every post during this time of life could be titles: busy or sick.  That seems to be the extent of things around here lately.  At least the sick has not resulted in a hospital stay - ya to our crazy diet and naturopathic/pharmaceutical remedies.  They seem to be working.  I myself have noticed a huge change now that I am on this diet too.  I do not get sick.  I may get a sore throat and a bit tired, but that is the extent of it.  It doesn't seem to matter how little sleep I get.  I am not getting sick.  Wow.  I used to catch everything.  I am starting to realize that I am the one with all these food intolerances and I have passed them on to my kids.  Eeek.  Sorry kiddo's.

I have felt rather uninspired to write of late.  I am finding my head extremely cluttered.  This is a direct result of our very cluttered house at the moment.  I really do like a tidy house and a clean floor to keep my head in the right frame of mind.  But with our reno, the chaos is starting to slip into the rest of the house.  We painted the kitchen and hallway last weekend/this week, so there are pictures and tables crammed everywhere.  We are starting to see an end, though.  The paint is done.  The floor goes in Wednesday.  The counters are getting measured Monday and hopefully put in the following week.  I managed to find the same counter top we currently have, so we no longer have to replace all the kitchen counters.  We just have to replace the main one.  This saved us a tonne of $$.

We have been in full swing school/unschool mode around here.  Trips to the library.  Nature walks.  Farm visits.  Long discussions around the dinner table.  Crafting extravaganzas.  Board games.  I am truly having a blast spending all this time with my kids and am completely in awe of all they are learning.  Twin2 seems to grow his vocabulary by the minute.  He truly enjoys playing with words.  We were down at the beach park the other day swinging on the the swings when twin1 starts to describe how the lake and rivers are all connected and lead to the ocean.  Wow.  I love this.

The toddler has learned to ride a bike with training wheels, although he prefers his balance bike.  The baby still isn't walking, but she is talking.  She said 'Hi, Da.' to my husband on the phone the other day.

10/11/11

Unplugged Sunday

Weekends around here are usually pretty crazy.  In fact, I have to plan for a day of rest on Tuesdays (our weekend is Sunday/Monday) because the kids need some unstructured down time to just be kids.  Usually weekends are filled with some home fix-up project, especially of late with the reno going on, or a day long shopping trip.  Or my husband and I alternately take up some project that we are working on that can only be done when the kids are busy with the other parent - quilting, painting, gardening, yard work....  My husband and I seldom have nothing on our 'honey-do' list - actually, I don't think I remember a time when it was empty.  As soon as you purchase a house, the list seems to be endless.  Sometimes by the end of the weekend, we are more tired than before it started.

This weekend roller coaster combined with some added pressure from work for my husband to do some schooling has left the kids feeling a bit family quality time deprived.  As we value our children and our limited time together at each stage of their lives, we have decided to unplug one day a week.  No TV, phones, internet, errands, projects - just us.  Time spent as a family, doing family things.  We recognize that this may not happen every week, but if we plan for it and make a valiant effort then hopefully it will become second nature.  We will prep for our family time the night before, or the week before.  Our goal will be to primarily spend this time outdoors, but in the region we live in weather is a factor.  So, we will have to research various events going on in the area. 

I can't wait.  We still don't know when we will start, but the idea is in place.  We have a few commitments to clear from the calendar.  Unplugged.  A new adventure.

10/5/11

Harvest Wednesday

We have been bringing in and storing the last of the local produce.  We picked apples and made 9 quartz of apple sauce yesterday.  Yum.  We picked apples from Grandma's tree.  They are delicious.  Tonight my husband and I have a tomato date.  Yup we are preping tomatoes for freezing.  Funny, I know, since we rarely consume tomatoes - the twins are very sensitive to tomatoes, but love them and can't keep their paws off.  I myself dislike raw tomatoes.  But, in the heart of winter, my husband and I consume a fair amount of curry and some date night tomato pasta.  So, tomato prep it is.  I had read that tomatoes and coconut milk leach the BPA toxins from the cans they are canned in.  So, this is one of those ways we are trying to limit our exposure.  We have not yet found a way around the coconut milk, though.

Today was a normal Wednesday.  We read a lot of books today.  Played games.  Drank tea.  Lunched.  Had swimming lessons.  Picked out books at the Library.  Grocery shopped.  Drank smoothies.  Made pattern block pictures.  Washed 5 loads of laundry and put 3 away.  And still the day is not done.  As I was sitting on the library carpet chatting with a mom, waiting for the toddler's swim lesson to complete, I realized this was the first semi-break of the day.  A typical Wednesday.

Tomorrow - hair cuts.  Yick.

10/1/11

Life

Things have been busy around here...when aren't they busy.  Construction continues on the house.  At this point, I am not sure when it is going to end.  Our contractor has grand ideas, but seems to have difficulties bringing them to fruition.  I expected the project to take awhile, but the space just sits there calling me to utilize it.  Especially in the afternoon when the sun shines in and warms everything.  I just want to curl up in there and read a book in the sun.  We have finally ordered the floors, so completion, of the inside, will take about another month.

We have been slowly settling into our homeshool routine, very slowly.  This week we strayed a bit because everyone took turns with a cold.  So we spent a lot of time relaxing, watching movies.  It is hard to keep the boys confined, though.  Around 10am each day, they end up outside 'building' in their play house - really this means destroying things and hammering wood with nails, but they are having a blast.  We headed out for our usual after dinner fresh air bike/walk and the twins had a bit of an asthma relapse, which of course extended into the night and are still recovering from.  The cold and the strain on their respiratory system was a bit too much - oops.  Alas, I recieved strict instructions from my husband to not let them outside today.  Easier said than done.  These guys are goers.  Usually, they only sit for about 45 min at a time and then only if the TV is on.  (This, of course, does not include book reading because for that they will snuggle until my voice disappears.)  Thankfully, my husband ran to the movie store before work this morning and picked up a stack of movies.  This may keep them  inactive for a few hours?!?

As I was saying, we are slowly settling into our school routine.  Wednesdays and Fridays find us out and about: library and swim lessons on Wednesday afternoons and co-op on Fridays.  That leaves Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays for 'homeschooling'.  I say this loosely, because I leave the school part for the kids to lead.  Usually, I wait until they find something they want to try.  One day they pull out the book of science experiments and we flip through and pick something to try: balloon rockets and soap crystals so far.  Or they pull out a game to play, focusing on following instructions, taking turns, colours, numbers, letters.  Or, the shape tiles are brought out and we make huge pictures on the kitchen table.  Or they ask to craft.  If no directions is taken by the kids, then we sit and read books, which takes place daily.  Once a week we read a few bible stories.  One of the three school days also includes some outdoor outing: hike, zoo, museum, tour....  Daily, the kids have chores, cleaning the downstairs, putting away their dirty laundry, putting away their dirty dishes, and/or cleaning up some huge mess that has occurred as a result of their self directed learning.  Also, they help cook one of the three meals each day.  Oh, and don't forget the constant character development that takes place - constant.  "Patience," seems to be uttered from my lips hourly.  Learning is constantly taking place, thus, I use the term 'school' rather loosely.  There may not be any scheduled sitting around the table, but if you were to write down all the learning that takes place, I am sure it would rival most kindergarten classrooms.

The baby has decided to change things up a bit lately.  She spent three days refusing to nurse.  When I offered a feed, she would bite me.  I have to say I was a bit crushed.  I was not prepared for an abrupt end to our one-on-one time.  I am so busy with the other kids that nursing offers the baby and I some carved out time together.  I cherish that time we have.  I had been talking about slowly introducing a bottle of Almond milk to see how she would do and allow me to start heading out of the house on my own, but I was not prepared for the transition to take place so decisively.  So, after feeling rejected and missing our calm moments together, I decided to persevere.  After 3 days, I am happy to say she has returned to nursing as usual.  She did catch the cold that we have been passing around, so perhaps she wasn't feeling hungry.  I have to say I appreciated the reality check, though.  I was starting to feel too tied down and was ready to start weaning, now I know I am not ready.  Those few minutes here and there spent just with my baby girl are too special.  I do now know that she is happy to take a bottle and has no problems digesting Almond milk, so I have scheduled my first outing sans-baby.  Eeek.  The twins and I are heading out to watch a play at a nearby cultural centre tomorrow afternoon.  I am looking forward to not juggling an infant around, the twins are excited about some time with just Mom, and Dad is excited about some time alone with the littles.

And not to forget my toddler.  He and I have been spending a lot of time together.  When the twins head out of the house to play and refuse to let the toddler play, I take him under my wing and we cook, read books, puzzle.  He has such an amazing personality.  He is constantly seeking out attention in weird and wonderful ways.  He is wild, WILD, and will try anything once.  He is stubborn and extremely structured.  Once a routine is introduced he doesn't forget.  He is constantly trying to reason out the order of the world.  His current question involves pointing something out and asking, "For me? For brothers?  For Dad?  For You (Mom)? For peoples?"  Adorable.  He is extremely affectionate.  When I sit on the couch he always sidles in close for a snuggle.  And he prominently takes the seat on my lap during book time.  He is very quirky and wonderfully original.  I have never seen anyone be able to use their eyes so expressively.  He could tell an entire story just with those big eyes.  And his laugh lately.  He has developed an evil laugh lately.  I'll have to record it and put it up.  Too funny.

It's funny.  A month and a half ago, I could not have fathomed how anyone 5 year old could be ready to head to school and spend an entire day without their parent.  Over this last month, though, I have noticed the twins slowly transitioning away on their own.  They head outside and play in the their playhouse for hours, or dig in the dirt, or ride bikes in front of the house, or build trains in their room, or build Lego, or race cars - all without me and without any guidance from me.  Although, I do not agree with all day kindergarten, I can see that 5 year old do start to seek out independence and perhaps are ready to head to school.  I absolutely do not regret keeping my kids at home.  At this point in our lives public school is not for us, but I now understand why 5 is the age it all begins. 

I noticed this one Friday during co-op.  We had a Guide volunteer to introduce us to the world of foraging: identifying edible plants, names, uses.  The Guide was introduced, we headed off and my kids stuck pretty close, insisting on holding hands as we walked.  Once the Guide introduced the first plant, twin1 was gone.  He attached himself to the Guide and I did not see him until the end of the walk.  Even then, he remained alongside the Guide while plants were cleaned and prepared to eat.  Independence.  He even found his own wild ginger to bring home and turn into tea, which he did later that afternoon.  He boiled the water, cleaned and cut the root, and steeped the tea for all of us to enjoy.  Then we sat around the table and enjoyed the fruits of our labour.  A wonderful, wonderful moment in my life.  To think, we may never have had this opportunity had the twins been sent to school.  No regrets.

9/20/11

Long Lost Pictures From My Husband's Phone

I believe this picture was taken the day we brought our baby girl home.  I still look pregnant and not very with it.

New Baby Girl

Pumpkin cleaning

Fresh from Mommy's tummy.  She was the only baby that I got to hold following birth.

He was very attached to this hat last winter.

Our anniversary picture from this year.

At the top of the lookout.


A view of the ocean.  Taken when we went to the wedding this summer.  It was a beautiful town.  I am holding the babies foot.

Me.  Outside our vacation house in Hawaii.  Jealous?