Monday, August 31, 2009

fridge fun

I try to rotate the magnetic toys on the fridge every week. I must admit that in the last six months I have not been so good about that, doing it more like once a month. It helps though when I write in the margin of my meal plan calendar what fridge toy to put up each week.
Miss J helped me take the fridge phonics set off of the fridge today and helped me put up the fridge farm. We also have a little radio that plays some children's songs and a set of magnetic gears to put on the fridge. They get to play with each toy for about a week every month. It is nice to have these when the little ones want to be in the kitchen (or need to be so I can watch them), but have grown tired of "helping".

making the switch

No, no, no, not that switch! We've been a Mac Family for years! LOL! I mean switching the toys around!

I have many of our toys split up into bins, some are rotate daily, some weekly, others monthly. This week-end I did the monthly switch. I have one very large bin that is for "living room toys" it contains books, toys to fill a basket, a couple toys for a shelf, and some of Miss J's baby doll toys. I have two sets of toys like this and we rotate them around every month. I do the same with the "baby" toys. It is a small bin that holds baby toys, books, and even stuffed animals that get split up between the two playpens and rotated every month also.
This month's group of toys for the basket has farm toys (that is just how it worked out, I realized we had a bunch of toys that fit together well when organizing this).
For the book shelf I just put a couple of toys on the top shelf and I rotate the books out too. This keeps the shelf from getting over loaded (and so easier for the kids to manage). The small basket holds the baby board books.
Miss J loves baby dolls and has quite a few and also quite a few gadgets to go with them. This months set up gives her her very own nursery! This picture also shows one of our two playpens, this one has "quiet" toys in it like books and soft animals, the other one is by the kitchen and has "activity" toys. There are toys that appeal to many different baby stages.

The result of doing this is that we have less clutter around the house, but all of our toys get played with! I've found that when the kids have access to all of their toys and books it just gets to be too much and they either get overwhelmed or board with the toys. By rotating them out
they have a bunch of new toys and books every month or so! The kids are excited to see their toys again, but don't mind when they are put back in the bin since they know they will see them again soon enough! This means that our toys are loved/enjoyed all the more, and our kids are happier and more content with the same old toys we've had around for quite a while!

Oh, and yes, the boys are wet in those pictures. They had just come in from doing bottle rockets with Rob outside and were quite pleased to see all the "new" toys and books!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A sewing day!

I'm a little behind in posting this, but I wanted to finish a couple things up before I took pictures and posted!

A friend of mine here has been teaching herself how to sew over the last few months or so, but wanted to move on to some bigger things, so we did a sewing day together on Friday. She brought her two boys over so the kids got to have a play day while we worked on a few projects. She used a pattern I have (her first time ever using a pattern), for an apron and managed to cut out two aprons and get most of the sewing done on one of them! I had done all of the cutting for two aprons the night before (I had a hard time sleeping), so I was able to get quite a bit of the sewing done while she was cutting.

I ended up making two half aprons out of fabric left over from other projects and a full apron. I realized the other day that I only have one apron (besides a Thanksgiving one I used around then), but each of my older four kids have at least two aprons if not more! So, aprons went on the bottom of my "to-sew before Miss C is born" list. This sewing day brought them up a few places, I'll have to return to my regularly scheduled sewing after this week-end!
The apple one is made of the left over fabric from the apple basket I made for my friend. By the time I was done carefully measuring and cutting all I had left was the smallest pile of scraps.
I had picked out the lavender and yellow fabric while we were in our last house, I had a pretty white and yellow kitchen, and that fabric just needed to be in there as an apron! For some reason I just did not get around to making the apron until now though (maybe it was the new baby, two trips to the west coast to visit family and then a move to the west coast?). I had plenty of fabric left over to put together a half apron from that fabric too! I also managed to piece together an apron for Miss J. She loved having me hold it up to her as I was working on it to size it. I'm not sure she will use it much yet, but it is plenty big so she has some room to grow into it.

Well that was fun! Now back to sewing winter P.J's!

Oh, I almost forgot. I finished this little purse last week. It is to go inside my diaper bag to hold
all of my stuff. It has plenty of pockets for my sunglasses, phone, change, coupons, pen, pencil and more! As I was sewing I'd find new places a pocket would be handy and just add it in! I have a skinny little wallet that my sister-in-law gave me that will work well with this little bag so that when full the bag should not take up too much room in my diaper bag!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer days!

It has really warmed up here the last few days, which seems to be normal around here for this time of year. Today was a great summer day, and very relaxing!

Rob took the kids outside in the morning to do bottle rockets. The contraption was supplied by G'ma (used by her classes when she was a teacher) and Grandad. Everyone got nice and wet and had a great time! After a while they got some little squirt guns out too, since they apparently felt that they were not getting wet enough from the rockets!
After lunch we all walked down to the corner market to get various ice cream treats. The kids had mentioned wanting to do that this morning and we figured that was a great idea on such a warm day. They all grabbed their wallets and had fun picking out, and buying their own treats. There is a picnic table outside the store so we all sat and enjoyed our treats before heading home for nap time.

After nap time we all went to the pool, it was busy there but not too bad. I took Miss J and Mr. S to the little kiddie pool, but after a while Mr. S moved on to the big pool (his first time getting to go to that one!). Mr. M came into the little pool, and then Miss J decided that Mr. M was worth braving the pool to play with (she usually just sits on the side and dips her toes). It's so funny, because she is always so excited to go to the pool, but once we get there she just wants to sit on the edge and people watch (she always has a great time). The water felt so good on my 3rd trimester body, I may have to go more often in the coming months.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Rob goes jogging 2-3 mornings a week (that is the plan anyways!), and has been taking Mr. M with him on most of those mornings on his bike. Mr. M is our more athletic child, he loves any chances to play sports, but this is a good chance for him to be physically active while also having great quality time with his Daddy! Mr. M helps him with warm up and cool down too and they have a great time together! I can always tell when they are back home, I can hear quiet chatter and laughter in the front yard as they wind down, do sit ups and push ups.
Mr. S and Mr. R are both interested in going too. Mr. R has not made it out with Rob yet, he is not a morning person and when given the chance to go jogging he usually would rather sleep, he will start going one of these days though! Mr. S is a bit more motivated and actually got up yesterday to go jogging, the problem was that he did not have the use of his bike (he ran over his little sister the day before on it and so can not use it for a week to help him remember to be responsible with his bike) so he decided that he would jog in his new jogging shoes! It was too cute to see him getting ready to go and head out with Rob and Mr. M. About 5-10 minutes later they were back with Mr. S panting and worn out. He was so proud of himself (Rob said he really did do quite well), he had gone so fast! He sat and cuddled with me while the other two went back out to continue their jog. I think he will do very well next week when he can go on his bike.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

errands, creative writing and science

Tuesdays we run errands so I don't plan much for school that day (in fact this is the first year I've planned ANY school on errand day). Today we only had one quick errand to run, but most days we run many errands, have doctor's appointments and such things.

Rob picked out a creative writing program that he wanted to do with the kids, so on Tuesday mornings he does that with the oldest four kids. We think he will be able to do this on Thursdays also and maybe one other day of the week. So far they are all having fun with it and I get to have some time with Miss J!
After errands we have lunch and then it is nap time, but the older three kids do science. We found a great program that walks the kids through a lesson on the computer but there are also hands on activities and experiments to do. Today they built a little race car that they will be using in the next few lessons for experiments. They all had a great time, but needed very little supervision (important on those days when I'm worn out from running many errands with all of the kids!). Once they were all done with that they each had reading assignments to do.

It is working out nicely to have this little bit of school scheduled for errand day, and since many of our errands present learning opportunities also (budget/math when shopping, science/medicine at doctor's appointments and social skills) I'm able to count it as a school day! The kids often get comments either while shopping or at doctor's offices about how well behaved they are. We've even been asked to come into some stores more often, not because we spend so much money, but because they enjoy having the kids in the store so much!

Hair bow holders

We have been having problems with hair bow storage for a while now, and adding in a second girl in bows just made things worse. We had been storing bows in a little plastic bin in Miss E's dresser drawer. There were many problems with this, one was that all of her bows/headbands/etc. (as well as Miss J's) just did not fit in the bin, the other problem was that often when it was time to do her hair we would realize the bin was in the room with Miss J that was either trying to go to sleep or sleeping. So this is what I came up with, I had seen this sort of thing before I figured it would work well for us. I had fun painting the faces and figuring out how to do the ribbon hair. I had been thinking I would add some sort of bag or basket to hold the things like rubber bands and head bands, but for now they are going back in the old bin that will be stored in my room. These cute little faces are hanging outside my bedroom door where there will not be quite so much traffic to mess with them, but they will be easy to get to no matter who is taking a nap!

Miss E and Miss J were both happy with how they turned out. Miss J had fun this morning running over to pick out her bows after she was dressed. Miss E is not such a fan of having her hair done, so though she likes this set up better than the old its not quite so exciting to her. I'll have to make one for Miss C eventually, but I figure I've got a good 18 months or so before I need to get that one done!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

at the park

We went to the kids' favorite park on Friday. I try to do more of a "fun" school day on Fridays, we do circle time and then after that I try to have something planned like a trip to the park, children's museum, a field trip, or just playing games or some special activity if we need to stay home. All of the kids love this park, it is great for big kids all the way down to toddlers!

A favorite at this park is the big slide at the back. It is not a traditional slide in that you go down on these plastic roller things. They slow the
kids down a bit and make them bounce. My boys like to go down it together, often on each other. Mr. S likes to go down face first.

Miss J is getting brave on the play sets here. She so wants to be a big girl, but she got stuck at
the top of this set a couple of times not wanting to go down on her own. Mr. S is such a good big brother and followed her one time, trying to hold her hand and wanting to help her down the slide, she wanted nothing to do with him and went down the slide just fine on her own that time!

The big kids love climbing on this train. Miss J has taken an interest in
trains recently and just stood looking at it signing "train" to me. I'm glad she was not interested in getting on it this time though, I think I would have been a bit nervous having her on there without an adult and at this point I don't think I should be trying to climb around on there either!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

circle time and the book mobile

After breakfast and all of our chores are done we start our school day with "circle time", I started this in Florida but it was just on the couch with Miss E and Mr R reading the Bible and working on Miss E's Cubbies verses, it has evolved since then.
For now Miss J is still taking a morning nap, we do circle time while she is napping, but in the
next month or so I think I'm going to have her start joining us. Here is a cute picture she asked me to take of her with her blanket after it came out of the wash (yes, she brought me the camera and then sat down with her blanket!)

Each of the kids has their own carpet square that they pull out for circle time, the little wooden crate on the couch holds all of our circle time things, it is normally stored in the coffee table shelf. Everyone looks forward to circle time, its fun, but we do quite a bit of learning too! They each have a day that they get to lead prayer and choose songs. This is how our circle time generally goes:

Singing- we just sing a few songs, this is a chance to sing the songs that we don't do before bed time (Father Abraham, and I'm in the Lords Army just get a bit too crazy then)
Prayer- We do the ACTS prayer Affirmation, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication going around in the circle each has a turn to pray.
AWANA- This is my time to work with the younger kids on their verses (the non-readers), and then listen to the big kids recite their verses. In the summer when we are not working on AWANA work we go through some great books by Susan Hunt. This summer was "Discovering Jesus in Genesis", we've used two of her other books, and next year we are looking forward to going through "Discovering Jesus in Exodus".
Flash cards- We rotate through a few sets of flash cards. This year we are working on Landmarks (world wide), Presidents of the US, animals/insects, and space
Rotating subject- we will be rotating through the subjects of geography (continents/oceans and states), grammar, and art appreciation. These subjects and the flash cards will be covered multiple times through the year. We'll just focus on them for a week or two at a time and then move on to the next one.
History- We enjoy history, mostly because we've been blessed to find great books that tell the wonderful stories of our history instead of just dry text books. This year we are focusing on US and California history. We found a local historian at our home schooling convention that has written several books on California state history for children as well as activities to go along with them (and reading lists for supplemental reading). I read these books out loud to all of the kids.

Often there are work sheets, crafts or something to go along with at least one of the things covered during circle time, we do those things during "table time".

On Wednesdays the book mobile comes to our community center, so I walk down there with the kids after lunch. It is great since it is like a mini library right down the street! The kids choose a book or two each time and I can request anything that the main library has and just pick it up there! We all love going to the book mobile!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fried tomatoes

No one in our house cares for tomatoes unless they are cooked into a yummy red sauce in some of our favorite foods, or used as a dip on some favorite foods. I've tried to like tomatoes, really I have, I even happily buy them for my children when they ask for them at the store (each has done this once, and then been sorry after tasting them). This is the closest I've come to enjoying them. A friend gave me some organic heirloom tomatoes from her garden and I was determined not to let them go to waste. Yesterday was my first attempt at the fried tomatoes, and I think it turned out better than today, though both were fairly good.

I sliced the tomatoes and let them drain a bit on a paper towel while I mixed these up
Bowl 1- 1/2 cup regular white flour (salt and pepper could be added here too)
Bowl 2- one egg, beaten
Bowl 3- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour coarsely ground (I did not have bread crumbs and did not want to make any up), salt, pepper, and garlic salt.

Dip each slice of tomato into each bowl starting with bowl one, making sure each side is covered well. Place them on a plate until they are all ready to be fried. Heat up some olive oil in a pan and fry on each side for a couple of minutes. Remove from oil and let drain on paper towel, serve warm. Today I added shredded cheese to the tops of them, I don't think it added much to them and it made them harder to eat.

Rob, Miss E and I actually enjoyed them though we each added some seasoning or ranch dressing to them. Mr. M did okay with them (added seasoning also), Mr. R was not a fan but did eat his with little to no grumbling, and Mr. S and Miss J had no interest in them at all. I don't think I'll be buying tomatoes any time soon, but if I'm offered more I'll gladly take them and make these again. Who knows, given time we may come around!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The first day of school

We had our first day of school today. It went fairly well, but we do have some kinks to work out. Everyone was dressed and had their chores done in time for breakfast (which Miss E had on the table right on time!). After breakfast all of our daily chores for today were also done quickly and everyone was set and ready for circle time on time. I guess I should not be surprised about that since we had kept up these parts of our routine (except for circle time) through our whole break. Circle time went well, though since we are getting back into the swing of things it took a bit longer than it should have, it was fun though!
The kids were excited to see the binders I had made up for them. Mr. S and Mr. M spent quite a bit of time comparing stickers on the fronts of theirs. They all had fun looking through them a bit to get an idea of what we would be covering this year. I had also rearranged their bins (to add one for Miss J) and reorganized the basic arts/crafts supplies (crayons, colored pencils, glue, markers, and rulers) so that Miss J would no longer be able to explore them on her own time! The kids all took some time to check out the new set up. Then we moved on to letter writing, Math and hand writing. I'm going to have to work out some more simple activities to keep Mr. S and Miss J occupied during this time. Mostly they need to remember that this is a time for quiet play, since we have not done this part in such a long time they have forgotten what is expected of them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

last day of summer break

Today is our last day of our summer break. We'll be starting back to our studies tomorrow, and we're all ready and excited! I'm pleased with what I was able to marked off of my "to do" list and feel ready to get back to "normal".  We will be focusing on US history and California State history this year as far as history goes.  Miss E and Mr. R have supplemental reading to go along with the history I'll be doing with all of the kids, they also have reading lists that they need to get through this year of books Rob and I want them to read.
I'm in the third trimester now! Yep, only about three months to go until we get to meet Miss C! Time sure is flying by! We are all looking forward to meeting her!  I'm pleased with the amount of sewing projects I was able to get done in the last month or so, but I still have quite a list of projects to finish  before mid-september.  In September I'll slowly start to fill my freezer so that I will not have to do much cooking after Miss C arrives.  My hope is that my energy level will not drop too badly until the last month or so of pregnancy.  I'm also planning to have most of my Christmas prep done before October 31st.  As you can see I've got my work cut out for me, but I think I can manage.  We'll be busy, but we'll be having fun too!
I'll try to post pictures of the fist day of school tomorrow.

I did not forget the cake

Miss E has been wanting to celebrate her birthday with Grandad for quite some time (they share the same birth date), so she was happy to put off her birthday cake for a couple of days until we could get up to visit G'ma and Grandad. We headed up to their house and the kids got to have a great time exploring the house, yard and neighborhood lake. Miss E had requested that I make these sunflower cupcakes. She decorated the board under them with vines and leaves. She enjoyed directing the placement of the flowers on the cupcakes but decided to leave the piping of the frosting to me. I surprised her with the water mellon cookies. She loves water mellon, and I thought they would look cute with the cup cakes. She was thrilled with the result. Oh, and they tasted good too!
Rob enjoyed taking the kids out one at a time on the water tricycle that he played on as a child, while Grandad enjoyed fishing with the kids. The kids all enjoyed playing on and around the lake and were all able to cast out on their own (even Mr. S) though no one caught anything. Miss J was quite thrilled to watch me cast her line out and watch her bobber as she reeled in her line. Our very excited and adventurous Mr. M fell in the lake twice. Once on the tricycle with Daddy, but just up to his knees (you have to be quick with five kids, Rob didn't miss a beat and just pulled him up!), and once off the edge of the lake just
up to his belly. He quickly stopped himself from going all the way in and pulled himself out before we could get to him. I was so glad he kept a level head! We all had a good laugh after the moment of surprise and making sure he was okay.

The kids sure enjoyed the visit with G'ma and Grandad and all the fun food, activities and even some gifts!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Diapers for Miss C

I just finished six fitted diapers for Miss C. In the cloth diapering world "fitted" diapers refer to diapers that do not need to be folded, have some sort of closure (these use snaps), but do not have a water proof outer shell (they need a cover). These are made with snaps so that I can have a snap down notch for her cord until it falls off, other diapers I've made I've used velcro.
They all have a minky outer, it is so soft, and should keep moisture from coming through! Every time Miss J sees me with the fabric she comes right over to pat it, lay her head on it, and kiss it (I know, I need to make a blanket for her out of it!). Inside most of them have suede cloth, except for one of the pink ones that has a brown minky with pink dots. The tan ones all have the cute monkeys in diapers print inside them. I'm happy with how these turned out, but I'm not sure how they will work since I've never cloth diapered a newborn before and right now I don't know anyone with a newborn. I'll have to wait a few months to try them on her. I'm just about done with her diaper stash, then I'll take pictures of it, I made some of them and she will even have an Air Force one that was custom made!

Miss E's perfect day

Miss E's birthday was this week, and she says she had a "GREAT!!!!" day! It started knowing that she was getting out of many of her chores, and she got to open presents before Daddy had to go to work. She received punch balloons from Mr M (Mr R picked up an oreo carmel apple for her at the farmers market last week, which was quickly devoured, she was sweet to share!), a large tub of "girly" legos from us, and and an apron I made for her (right now she really likes sun flowers).

Miss E LOVES crafts, cooking, working with her hands.... well, just about anything creative and that is what her day was filled with. When she did not have anything better to do she was building with legos, however there were plenty of other activities to keep her busy too. We
made chocolates using molds (some were borrowed from G'ma, and we picked up a couple more). The kids all had fun "painting" them, then choosing a filling (caramel, orange, or just more chocolate) and banging the air bubbles out on the table was quite popular too! They did not turn out perfectly, but the kids sure had a great time, and they were yummy! A bonus was that Daddy was able to come home early enough to have lunch and enjoy some chocolates with us!
I had a small project that I needed painted and she had asked if she could do that portion of the project, so she got to do that. By the time she had finished that her gift from Nana had been delivered by the UPS guy, it was a large clear storage bin filled with clay, tools, and an idea book! That took her up until it was time to go pick up the sub sandwiches she had requested for dinner! The rest of the day was spent doing more of the clay and having some nice family time. Here is a picture of the first things she made with her clay, the horse had a hard time in the oven, but she did do a great job on it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

water and toes

This is our last week of summer break, even though it is just now really starting to feel like summer (weather wise). Yesterday I filled up a bunch of water balloons and squirt guns and when Rob got home early (as we had planned), he had a water fight with the kids! There were two baskets each equally equipped filled with "ammo". They had a great time ganging up on daddy, and then it was off to swimming lessons! Rob takes the three oldest down to our community center pool once or twice a week and gives the kids swimming lessons. When I am able, I go along with Mr. S and Miss J and take them to the "kiddie pool" there (about 18 inches deep).
Now to the toes. Miss E has been asking to do toe nails again for the last week or so, but always when we are in the middle of something. Last night we both remembered at a good time and so we were able to do nails! She did mine for me (since I can't reach!) and her own. She did a great
job and had fun choosing colors for both herself and for me! Miss J was so very excited when she saw all of the colors and was sure she wanted in on the fun too, so I did her toe nails. She was quite sure she wanted the red, her little toes look so cute!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

a tisket a tasket...

...a lovely apple basket!

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" Proverbs 25:11

I made this for a friend at church. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and her best friend mentioned this verse, having a box that she could save all of her notes in (decorated by our girls), and then the thought came up that it would be nice to have a place to drop off notes for her at church. I had seen the apple fabric just days before while shopping and I knew it was perfect when the verse was mentioned. I hope this works out well and is a blessing to her through her treatment and recovery.

Friday, August 7, 2009

pizza rolls

I made pizza rolls today for lunch. The kids love this lunch and though it does take extra time I'm able to make four to five pans of them and freeze them, so it is worth the extra effort.

I just use my regular bread recipe (which makes four loaves of whole wheat bread), make up pizza sauce and shred cheese (this time I also cut up some pepperoni too). I rolled it out like I would for making cinnamon rolls and added the sauce, cheese and pepperoni (remember this is for the kids, so I just put what they like on!).
The roll it up like you would when making cinnamon rolls.
Cut (again like making cinnamon rolls) and place in a greased pan. Let rise for 20-30 min or so and then bake at 350 for about 30 min.

Miss J was so excited to watch me put these together. Pizza and bread are two of her favorite foods, she just loved watching it go from bread dough, to pizza, and back to bread again! You should have seen the look on her face when she saw
how much dough I had made!

Its done!!!!

I finished my new diaper bag and all of the accessories to go with it a couple of days ago! I took the pictures yesterday, but just did not get around to posting. I've had a cold this week and I'm feeling a bit run down.
My mom took me shopping for the fabric while we were in Portland as her birthday gift to me. I had in mind what I wanted and was thrilled that is was actually quite easy for me to find exactly what I wanted. I made up my own pattern after thinking long and hard about all the regular things I will want to have in this bag. I'm very happy with the way it has turned out, and I think I'm going to enjoy using it. My guess is that I'll use it for about a year and then I'll be ready to design my "perfect" bag for the toddler stage when I will not need to carry as much stuff with me.

I made bibs, burp cloths, a wipe case, wipes, a changing pad and a nursing cover/blanket all to match the bag. I did not do this because I wanted everything to match so much as to help keep things
organized. When any of these things goes through the wash or is seen anywhere in the house we will all know that in NEEDS to go back in the diaper bag. That way I'll always have all those things with me when we go out (or at least I SHOULD!). I've been doing the same thing with the cloth diapers for over a year now, the white ones are for the diaper bag and it has worked out so well. I've ordered some newborn
sized white cloth diapers also. I was tempted to order some that would match the bag, but white is better since it will always look okay with whatever baby is wearing, and I'm already used to pulling out the white ones.

I'm planning to make myself a small purse/large wallet that will go in the diaper bag (there is a pocket inside all ready for it). It will be big enough to hold my wallet, phone, glasses and few other odd and ends, but will not take up too much room in the bag. It will be a while before I get to that though, I've got other projects listed first on my "to do" list.

Things I would have done differently-- I think I would have used more interfacing. As I was working on the bag it felt very sturdy and I truly did not think I would want it any stiffer, but once it was all together I realized that one more layer on the body would have been nice as well as in the inside pockets. I think the handles are a bit too long, but I'm going to leave them for now, I can fix them easily if I decide they need to be shorter. Over all I love the bag though and I'm looking forward to using it in about three months!!!!