Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


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International Festival

When taking your children on a trip around the world would be a slight strain on the budget, going to the International Festival is the next best thing, right?!

We have our passports and we're ready to go!

At a lot of the booths, the kids asked questions about the countries and asked about some basic words and greetings in that country's language. Clara cracked me up because at several of the booths she asked, "How do you say 'chocolate milk' in Spanish?" Here they are getting their names written in Chinese:

Checking out Philippine currency:

Participating in Italian street painting (they said they painted "fire"):

Cruising around Asia:

Meredith brought a purse full of change and LOVED purchasing little knick-knacks at the various booths. Here she is buying an Origami Christmas ornament from "Japan."

Learning about Brazil:

Eating Indian, Egyptian, and Mexican food at lunch, while watching Japanese dancers on the stage. (Yes, I did bring peanut butter for Clara, just as an emergency back-up and I'm GLAD I did!)

Getting an Indian jewel to wear on their foreheads:

Playing instruments and handling the colorful fabrics from Nigeria:

We thought the Swedish folks were the friendliest! Here is Meredith with her purse again, purchasing candy for herself and Clara:

Listening to an accordion at the Czech Republic booth:

Dolls from various regions in Poland:

Proud of their Swiss heritage! (We got some free cookbooks with yummy, authentic dishes--if only I can convert it all from the metric system first!)

Swiss chocolate is the best ...

One of the most awesome parts of the festival was sitting-in on a Naturalization Ceremony. It was a very proud, very emotional moment. There were 190 applicants from numerous and diverse countries around the globe. I'm really glad I got to see this.

Ending the day with gelato, of course.

A full passport and a full, happy day. We all definitely want to go again!

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Last Class

The last six weeks of our homeschool classes just flew by! I can't believe the fall semester is DONE!!

Here is Meredith with her tutor. She learned the basics of music theory this semester and learned how to play some simple tunes on a tin whistle.

Here is Meredith's class, minus one little boy. Tho' they don't look too happy to have their picture taken ...

The kids learned about the constellations. This was the last in a series of sessions focusing on outer space.

For the final oral presentation, the kids were asked to bring their favorite stuffed animal.

Here is Clara in her "class." She is playing with her friend Elyssa.

I think I'm going to really like this schooling schedule! It's 12 weeks of intense learning with a really nice long break afterward. We will do phonics and math and some review during the next few weeks, but otherwise, it's pretty easy sailing until January. I'm SO looking forward to Christmas this year!!

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today I have been thinking a lot about fiction.  I know of several people who have told me that they think reading fiction is a waste of time for them personally when there are so many Christian self-help type books they could be reading to improve their lives.  While I can understand and appreciate the desire to grow spiritually by reading good, non-fiction books, I also think that reading good fiction has made my life fuller, has made me think deeply, and has enhanced my understanding of the world and my enjoyment and quality of life overall. I am a huge proponent of reading good quality fiction. 

Several years ago I read a non-fiction book that challenged my way of thinking about the value of fiction in everyday life. The book was "Reading Lolita in Tehran" (Nafisi). The author spoke of what it was like living in Iran under Taliban rule where artistic expression of all kinds was banned, including the freedom to read Western literature. Nafisi spoke of how this form of tyranny was the kind that did not kill the body, but killed the spirit, which in many ways was even more cruel and sadistic. 

Good fiction feeds my soul. Good fiction adds beauty of language to my life. Curling up with a good book and getting lost in beautiful word pictures is akin to going to the art museum and gazing deeply into a masterpiece and losing yourself in the beauty of the painting. 

Fiction is powerful and transformative. Fiction is often the best method of highlighting truth and relaying a moral lesson.

Good fiction is invaluable to me. Life would be drab and dreary without art, including beautiful and masterful literature.

Sleepy Sophia

I called this post Sleepy Sophia. I could have also called it Stubborn Sophia, because she absoultely refused to take her morning nap, screaming at the top of her lungs for a long while. Finally, I just took her out of her crib and set her down to play, which is exactly what she wanted.

At about 11:30, I gave her a bottle while I prepared her sisters' lunch. I looked over a few minutes later, and this is what I saw:


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Playing Pretend

One of my absolute favorite things to see is my girls playing pretend together. Sometimes they set up these elaborate things--for instance, the other day they set up a "Children's Museum" that took up our entire house. There was a cash register at the entrance, and various rooms for various activities. It totally cracks me up! I love to see the creative juices flow in my children. I love seeing them "just be kids" together.

The other day they set up a covered wagon. The Little House books are their favorite, can you tell?

Here is Meredith, pretending to be Justice Elena Kagan. (We read about her in God's World magazine, and then she immediately went to find her bathrobe so she could be a judge too.)

Here is Kevin, obliging Clara. I forget whether he is her horse or her dog. Probably her dog, since she is not riding him in the picture!

"Someday I will play pretend too. But right now I just like to eat and get into drawers!"
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Owl Snack

What child doesn't love funny-face food? We saw an idea for a new twist on this--creating an owl snack--in our Big Backyard magazine.

It was also really awesome that, after reading about owls in Big Backyard, our library offered a class on owls. At the end of the class, the kids walked to the local nature center to learn more, and then had the opportunity to dissect owl pellets. If you don't know what an owl pellet is, they are really gross. Apparently they were sterilized, but it was still really gross. Meredith and Clara found two different sets of mouse bones, including two skulls, with yellowed teeth attached. They thought it was pretty awesome. I wish I had pictures of it!!!

But, here is our snack:


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Another Morning Board Pic

Here is another picture of our Morning Board, since I had several people email me about it. In this one you can see the "money pocket." It's really simple (an idea I found somewhere on the internet)--the kids add a penny every day and we switch out the pennies for higher valued coins when we get five pennies. I always have Clara count the coins and Meredith count how many cents we have.

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Movie Food Party

I have some really awesome friends who helped me brainstorm on Facebook, to get ready for a movie-themed food party we attended. It was so much fun to put this together!

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunny Days

We have been having these amazing 70-degree weather days. I see each of these days as a gift. We have been outside a lot.

My children are at ages that I personally think are really adorable. I am really enjoying them. I recently read that, if you have to choose between cleaning and cuddling, you should cuddle. That’s definitely easier said than done, but I know that it must be true. I simply cannot believe how quickly my kids are growing up.

The other day we walked to the park, savoring each drop of sunshine. That’s something that is great about the weather changing—you know that you need to put aside your regularly scheduled programming, and just really enjoy a good weather day when you have one. People in California take the good weather for granted. People in Indiana (or at least in my neighborhood) all come out to socialize and be in their yards when the weather is nice.

The girls played while I sat on a bench and watched. Then we all took turns being “human pizzas” while letting the others put toppings on us—dried leaves, acorns, twigs, berries, etc. (One of their current favorite books is “Pete’s a Pizza.”) We all had such a great time.

I love the opportunity to just be with my kids, and watch them have fun. It’s the random, joyful moments like this that make mothering so rewarding.

Pumpkin Crafts

While we don’t celebrate Halloween we do let the girls carve happy faces on pumpkins, which they always love. Thankfully Kevin always volunteers to oversee this project. (Bless him!) What a fun day with dad!








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House Projects

To be honest, I get really discouraged by how long it takes to accomplish little things. I have been wanting to paint a lot of rooms in my house and it just hasn't happened. I have a book shelf that is orange, that I want to paint white, and it just hasn't happened. Don't even get me started about how far behind I am with photo organization!

But here are a few little things we have done recently.

Kevin's mom helped me make a table runner for our dining room and I LOVE it!

Kevin totally impressed me and figured out how to install a tile backsplash behind our stove. This is such a great focal point for the kitchen now. And very practical too!

And here is our nursery which we finally finished. Yay! I just really hate white walls. It makes me happy to have some color and make things look complete.

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