Saturday, May 31, 2014

To Duluth....and Beyond

Uncle Willy arrived today and we promptly packed up the the car and headed North.  Auntie Rorie and Chris followed us.  We drove four hours up to Gilbert, MN to attend a wedding celebration for my cousin Zach and his beautiful bride Kandace.  On the way we stopped at the Duluth Grill for some yummy local fare *mmmm...quinoa curry...*   We had some forethought and grabbed Alex a slice of GF cake to bring so she could have a piece of 'wedding cake' later on, too.

Then we spent a short while at Park Point beach to stretch our legs and let our bodies relax before hopping back in the car.

 This was Kolachi's first beach experience-- she loved digging in the sand, but was a bit distracted, trying to keep a close eye on her kids.  Seagulls and other beach-goers are NOT to be trusted.

Then we quickly changed clothes (another reason I LOVE my minivan-- plenty of space as a mobile dressing room!) and headed the rest of the way up North.  Not only did we get to help Zach and Kandace celebrate their new life together, but we also got to catch up with my extended family.  They're all pretty cool.
The bride and groom! Congrats!!
All Alex could talk about this morning was my cousin Andrea's awesome My Little Pony dress. And how about that hair-- she's rocking the pink!  Don't worry, Andrea, I won't tell anyone the story about your ribbon.
 Enjoying some conversation - catching up with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and, of course...
 Great-Grandpa Ed (well, my Grandpa, but somehow, once you have kids, everyone is referred to in reference to the children)

 My Aunt and her boys (Two sons and one grandson!)
 A blurry shot of my two kids venturing "far away" from the table to do some bubble blowing.  They quickly returned to color.
 My three Aunties-- all exceptionally strong, brave and beautiful women!  What great role models I've had.
Even though he normally goes to bed at 6pm, Justin and Alex rallied.  They were so well-behaved and polite- and made it until 8:30pm!  The fireworks and tears started as soon as we loaded up the car to drive home.  There were probably twenty mosquitos that had flown in to the open windows whilst we were partying (Kolachi rested in her kennel in the minivan during the wedding celebration).  Alex thought she was going to die.  Justin kept reassuring her that he would kill them all.  We had a three and a half hour trip home, and Alex hyperventilated for approximately one quarter of the trip.  The end.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

First 'Science' Lesson-

Our 'science' lessons are going to be mainly outdoor observation time.  Time for Alex and Justin to sit and listen and soak up this amazing world that God created for us.  Sometimes we'll be venturing to the local nature center or state parks, but, in my mind's eye, most of the time we'll find a quiet spot in the neighborhood to sit and notice.  Today it was just across the street from our house- on the path behind our neighbor's home.  The Flowering Crabapple trees are in full bloom right now, so we sat and photographed (me) and drew (them).  I am so excited about homeschooling my kids-- it feels like JUST the right fit for our family.  I know that in the future, they'll be off and about, doing their own things, but for us to spend this time as a unit, learning and being together, is so special.  Plus, they're pretty awesome kiddos

 J worked industriously on his own drawing.  He decided on doing a "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" tree-- it was the last story we read in his ECFE class, and he's been thinking about it a lot lately.

...and a shot of the regal Shepherd... always scanning the horizon for a potential problem.  She's calmed down MUCH more since being done with her first heat cycle.  

We found a cluster of blossoms to snip in order to draw in more detail once we arrived back in the classroom.  I was expecting Alex to use the color and draw one of her "stock" flower images (you know-- the daisy-type puffy thing with a circle for the middle).  Instead, she surprised me by really LOOKING at the petals and drawing what she saw.  I mean- I did tell her that was what art was all about-- looking at what was in front of you, not what you thought a tree looked like-- but I didn't expect the lesson to stick that quickly.

 After sketching the flowers, we put them in our flower press.  In a few days we'll be able to add them directly to the page as well.
 Alex's flowering crabapple tree, bumblebee (we observed two busily collecting nectar from the flowers as we sketched outside), petal and flower.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

And so Summer Began...

We skipped going to the neighborhood pool on Memorial Day because it was SO today we made our first visit of the summer.  It truly feels as if we are in Summer-- which is strange because it feels like Spring was so very short this year.  I now have a bona fide swimmer who hops into the shallow end of the big pool and does her own thing AND a preschooler who enjoys the little pool, but would rather be with sister.  I think I'll be in the big pool a LOT this summer-- it's much easier than getting whiplash trying to watch two kids in two places at once!
Goggle-Marks on the forehead.  Nice.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cleaning up the Garden beds

I'm trying to wrap up my LAST quilt order before leaving for Norway and Sweden in two weeks.....and I needed the kids to stay out of my hair for the morning.  Enter a "job".  Their challenge:  To clean and prepare all the garden beds.   I don't know whether to be happy or sad that they worked from 7:30am-2:30pm (with appropriate breaks for water play, snacks and lunch) all in order to earn screen time.  But it worked.  It's not a strategy I employ every day, but man-- they definitely earned their reward.  Three of my six beds were nicely cleaned out. The others are so crab-grass ridden that I'll need to bring my own hoe out there and work it up when I have free time (ie: probably not this spring!)

 I love our dog run setup.  Kolachi is free to be outside 'with' the kids or wander back in to be with me.  She's maturing so well, and has really learned to appreciate her 'freedom' (as it is restricted if she barks inappropriately).  We keep a padlock on the outside fence so that the kids can't accidentally let her out (or she can't nose her way out).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Raw Dog Food BONUS treat!

We got our monthly delivery of raw dog food today (check out Raws for Paws if you're in the market for some affordable pre-made raw!), and were excited to find dry ice in the bottom of the styrofoam container.  Auntie Rorie sprang into action and set up some science experiments to play with!

Umm...seriously.  The bubbles and fog are cool and all, but I'm a little hungry.  Can we get to the "feeding the dog" part?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Alex has been yearning for rollerblades for months now.  In fact, we've had to say "no" to several generous offers from well-meaning relatives and friends.  These rollerblades were Alex's first real lesson in earning and saving her own money.
Dave and I decided to help her split the cost of the rollerblades ($40).  In order to earn the money, she had to complete chores (and as that was sort of a hit or miss thing, it took a few months), sell some of her extra things (we had a garage sale a few weeks ago, and it helped to whittle down the excess 'toyage' as well), and work on saving her money.  She earned most of it in quarters, and it was also her first lesson in money counting.  There were nights she went to bed in tears because no matter HOW she counted, all she had was $6.75.  But I digress....the day came where she had her $20, we matched her $20 and we were able to go to the store and pick out her rollerblades.  
 Getting her footing was a bit tricky, but she soon figured it out.  It helped that Chris was over for dinner (we had a big family get-together tonight) and was able to give her some pointers.

 Practice, Practice, Practice!  That and lots of head-knee-elbow-wrist protection are all you need!

Not pictured:  Justin, Auntie Carrie, Uncle Sam, Uncle Willy and Gramps all hanging out in the backyard having a great barbeque whilst the lessons commenced.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tractor Watching

Sometimes it's easy to forget we live in a subdivision that has a Homeowners Association.  If you sit in the backyard on the right day, you can get VERY lucky (if you're a three year old boy, that is....)