Monday, October 10, 2016

This Is Why We Live In Arizona

The weather right now!  Amazing!  The middle of the day is still hot sometimes, I think we maybe hit 97 on Saturday.  But the mornings.  And the evenings!  If it weren't for the mosquitos, I would be outside constantly.

I am one of those people that step outside and get 15 bites immediately.  I tried those repellent bands, and still got bit, so then put on repellent (a natural based one) and still got bit.  I think I'm doomed to use full strength DEET for the rest of my life.

Anyway, we have been spending quite a bit of time outside.  Yesterday, we took a picnic dinner to the top of a local mountain that overlooks the city.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea, but even with a bunch of other people, it was SO nice. 

The desert sunset.

We've also been spending lots of time in the backyard, way past all the littles bedtime.  Of course they are not complaining.

Doing a little star gazing.

Our weeks are filled to the brim with living, and other "extras".  Soccer, football, Atrium, American Heritage Girls, Troops of St. George.  It seems there is always something going on.  But as crazy as it's been, we have been enjoying ourselves, and when we are all back home we realize how much we love it here.

Cute little soccer girls.  Ladybug is #7.

In all my spare time (he-he) I've been reading and trying to keep up with my Well Read Mom group.  I've also been crafting in the evenings (or whenever, I'm kind of addicted right now.)  My mom sent me this book, and while there was a bit of a learning curve, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

This flower was only supposed to have six petals.


A flower scrubby.

A leaf scrubby.
 We're taking this week off for a unplanned break.  After ten straight weeks of school we could use a bit of a break, and our house could use a bit of attention.  We also have a few morning outings planned.  And I hope to have quite a few times of just nothingness, and some quiet mornings.  Here's to hoping!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Homemade Playdoh

My two biggest kids are in a homeschool enrichment program on Friday.  All day Friday.  Every Friday.  It's a very strange thing for me, you know?  I've never spent much time away from any of my kids.  So this is new.  But it's also good.

Anyway, so my big kids are gone today, and the smallest boy is napping.  What to do with the middle two?  Normally, I get caught up on house work, and they seem to enjoy the time that they get to play their games and not just the ones the big kids tell them to play.  So it works.  But today we needed just a little something more.

So we made playdoh.

As a rule, I don't like playdoh.  It's messy.  It dries out.  It's messy.  And they always mix the colors, so it's not even pretty.  Did I mention it's messy?

But these two.  Sometimes I feel as if they don't get to experience the fun mom that used to be. (Not sure I was ever really fun, but you know what I mean, I hope.)  Don't get me wrong, they get plenty of experiences the older two never got, simply because they have older siblings.  The learn faster, they are more well rounded.  Their older siblings have been HUGE blessings to them.  But still.  I realized I have never made homemade playdoh with them. (Or really allowed them to play with it much at all.  Ahem.)  So we did it.

If you have never made playdoh, here's my oh-so-easy tutorial.

First, put on an apron, to make you feel productive.  Next, get out a saucepan while the littles pull up a chair to watch.  Dump 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon oil (I used canola), 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (important for keeping the dough fresh for about six months), and food coloring.  Warm it all up on the stove while stirring.

When it's warm, take it off the heat and dump in 1 cup of flour.  Mix it in the pan until it comes together, and then dump it on parchment paper on the counter.  It will be hot.

This is the fun part.  Knead it by hand.  Yes it will be hot.  But it will be fun, and will help to take away all the anxiety from the morning.  Think of it as therapy dough.  Pound it, push it, knead it.

Soon it will come together nicely and you can form it into a ball and store it in a ziplock bag.

 But first, pull out a plastic tablecloth that has been designated for such messy projects, and let them have at it. 
Your kids will thank you, you will feel as if you accomplished something, and you can now sit guilt free on your couch and read, or stitch, or write out blog posts no one really cares about.  :)

Happy kneading! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is Being Busy My Cross?

Yesterday was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  What better way to celebrate a Feast Day but to go to Mass, right?  So that's what we did.  In place of our morning walk, we walked instead to Mass.  I forgot that Wednesdays at this particular church are the school Mass so it was very busy and very...long.  Don't get me wrong, I love Mass.  It's just that I have a disaster baby, and a three year old (who is generally well behaved, but still.  He's three.)  Disaster baby likes to hear his own voice and spent most of Mass making sure everyone else heard it too.  I left my two big kids in the pew and took the other three to the back of church hoping that if I stood and swayed and walked with said disaster baby, he would quiet down.  No such luck.  So I retreated even farther, venturing close to the dreaded "cry room", but without ever actually going in.

I don't like cry rooms.

When Mass was over, I collected the older two and we headed up the stairs to exit the church.  Disaster baby spit up right on the top step.

Of course.

After cleaning up the mess (it wasn't terrible, it just...was) we left as quick as we could.

And that's why I still don't attend daily Mass.


We also made cross-shaped cookies, but I didn't take any pictures, because I was too busy...making.  Go us!

I'm dreading today and postponing it for as long as I can.  We originally had a park day we were going to go to, but I saw the schedule and crossed it off the list.  This afternoon, the girls and I have American Heritage Girls, and then we race from there to Sunflower's first soccer practice of the season.

We're going to be late.

Next week, though, it'll be even harder.  Fritter starts flag-football (what was I thinking signing up for two different sports?!  That will not happen again!) and guess when his team practices?  Yep.  Thursdays.  Also, Wednesdays, which was the only day during the week we didn't have something going on.  Sigh.

This introverted homebody is going to need a dark, quiet corner to curl up in by the end of the season.

So.  Got any advice?  How do you moms of many balance the schedule?  How do you allow your children to participate in extra-curricular things while balancing home life and keeping peace and order in your home?  Let me know in the comments!  Until then you might be able to find me in a padded room somewhere.

{Disaster Baby}

Bad cell phone picture, because he moves so much, it's hard to get anything else.
He's a Goop.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Backyard Water Park

Let me just start out this post by proclaiming the awesomeness of my husband.  He used his Sunday to build our family the coolest backyard water park I've ever seen. 

This was designed as a family project, so the first step was to load the whole family up and head to Home Depot.  Pieces and parts obtained, we headed home and put everyone to work.

The seven and nine year olds measured and sawed...

The little ones organized (and...ahem...dropped) parts.

Daddy glued all the pieces together, and made special joints (so named, super joints and cipher joints) so the whole thing could come apart and be stored later.

 Putting it all together...

 Attaching the hose.  Hope it works!
 We used stakes to make it stay put.  All that water pressure made it want to collapse.

There are three main sprinklers on top, and we drilled holes in the legs for more spraying fun.

Each leg has a valve to allow us to turn the side sprays off and give the top sprinklers more pressure.
 The best backyard water park ever!

 Of course, my children, after getting a taste of building, had to take things to the next level.  It's a house!
 And a car wash!
That'll keep us cool for a while!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rainy Day Morning Walk

Yesterday we took a walk in the rain.  It was just a drizzly sort of rain, and I decided to heed Charlotte Mason's advice and walk outside no matter the weather.  With the two little boys loaded up in the stroller we set out.  Generally, when we walk, if my three big kids are on bikes, they ride ahead of me and we have certain places they stop so I can catch up.  But if they walk too, they walk behind me so that I'm not always tripping over them.  :)  Either way, they get a bit of independence from mom, which is good for all of us.

If they are walking, they will often bring their little nature bags to collect treasures in.  Yesterday, at one point, I looked back to see Sunflower and Fritter exchanging one bag that looked to be loaded with very heavy rocks.  They carried that bag all the way home and now the rocks are sitting on my picnic table waiting for mom and dad to watch their "nature show".

Inside "Monkey Forest".  One of our favorite places on our walk.

This is down by what we call the "Troll Bridge" and "Fairy Land".  The fairies were dancing making little rings on the water where they stepped.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rainy Morning Chat

It's a cozy rainy day today.  We do not get many of those here in desert Arizona.  Sure, we get rain, but usually when it rains here, it dumps buckets from the sky.  But not today.  Today it's an on again off again cooling sort of rain.  So lovely.

Have I mentioned Searching For And Maintaining Peace here yet?  I know it's been mentioned in lots of other places before, but I just have to recommend it as well.  This book.  Is. So. Good.

From my reading today:

One must everywhere and in everything live peacefully.  If pain comes to us, whether internally or exteriorly, one must receive it peacefully.  If joy should come to us, one must receive it peacefully, without wincing because of it.  Must one run from evil?  It must be done peacefully, without being troubled, otherwise, in fleeing, we could fall and give the enemy the leisure to do us in.  If one must do good, one must do it peacefully, otherwise we will commit many faults in our eagerness.  Even in matters of penance, one must do it peacefully.  ~St. Francis de Sales as quoted in Searching For and Maintaining Peace

As I was reading that this morning, I thought of how much I could use this wisdom.  But for me, it would go more like this:

If the baby is crying and dinner is burned, accept it peacefully.  Soothe the baby and serve the dinner with a smile.  Make sure everyone has ice cream afterwards.  If your student is crying over a math problem, and another student is crying over phonics, and another wants you to hurry up so she can read you another story, and the preschooler is pulling out all the toilet paper, and the baby is trying to splash in the potty...take a big breath and tackle it all peacefully.  Um....I still don't even know what to do in this scenario, and a version of this happens almost everyday. 

Oh, well, work in progress, right?

Moving on.  School has gone well, we are well into week six and I don't want to quit yet, so that's saying something.  Actually, I've made a few adjustments this year, and more than getting through, we might actually be thriving.  We are implementing Morning Time from Teaching From Rest which has been absolutely lovely.  And now that I have a fourth grader, I realize how many fun things we get to learn about, and just how much Fritter can do on his own now.  It is September, which has never been an easy month for me, so we'll see how it goes, but so far, so good.

Ah, September.  My least favorite month.  Here in Arizona it's still SO hot (except today!) with no sign of letting up until October.  Yet the stores still persist in putting out fall decorations.  I must live in a dream world this month!  Don't they understand?  If I pretend it's still July, I can deal with the heat.  But the thought of fall makes me want to be cozy, and there is nothing cozy about 105 degrees!  As the song goes, Wake Me Up When September Ends....

How about a random picture of a Rustic Sphinx Moth the kids found in the backyard?  Hello nature journals!  Science, check!

That's all for today.  Kids are awake, and I must get ready to be peaceful in the midst of chaos.  :)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Catching Up

As far as blogging goes, I figure it's gotten so bad, instead of offering my excuses (homeschooling, traveling, life!) I'll just throw up some pictures and let them tell the story of our adventures lately.  And then I hope to blog a little more regularly now that we seem to be in a good rhythm. Because, as my husband recently told me, blogging and writing are good for me.  And also, I miss this space, and I miss the community I once had with my bloggy friends.  I'm pretty good about updating on Instagram, mostly because it's so easy.  But blogging is more of a commitment.  All good things require a bit of a commitment though, right?


We went to San Diego recently, and got sun burned.  It was amazing.  Just what our family needed.  This is the Children's Pool in La Jolla.  The harbor seals have taken it over for their children.

Napping on the beach.

All ready for their first day of American Heritage Girls.
We went to the dinosaur museum.  Fritter got eaten by a T-Rex.

Or maybe he didn't...

{Learning All The Time}

Working on his own musical composition.  Might he be the next Bach?

Seed race, and then Sunflower (appropriately named, apparently) planted these in a big pot outside and they are thriving.  Even in our hot, dry, climate.  Maybe my hopes for a big garden are not so far away after all...


Quiet Time.  My favorite part of the day.

Finished the scarf, just in time for August.

{Let's Dance}

{Don't forget to smile}

Next up, a recap from our most recent Wyoming trip.  Exciting as ever around here!