Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up - April 20

Sunday was a music recital for Lexie and Ashlyn.  Their teacher had e-mailed me in advance and asked if Little Bit would like to be her "helper". So as soon as we got there she went over to find out her job.  Miss Pat needed someone to draw numbers out of a basket to decide which student would play next and had a stool next to her where Little Bit happily sat through the whole recital.  I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself, being able to just sit and listen to the recital without keeping Little Bit quietly entertained, but she did great, playing with the number cards that had already been drawn and just sitting there . . .sniff . . . my baby's growing up!

Lexie and Ashlyn both did fine with their recital, including the duet that *I* was nervous about . . . I'm not sure they ever practiced it without threatening bodily harm, but thankfully they did fine at the actual recital.  I was sitting near the back so couldn't get great pictures, but at least I have proof that they were there LOL.

Monday afternoon Little Bit had a playdate with her friends, E & J.  They had new, bright orange swings at their house, so that was a big hit :)

Monday evening was also the beginning of Passover, but since we were gone all afternoon that day, we decided to wait and have our Seder on Tuesday evening. Lexie is our supper cook this month, so she was in charge of the Seder meal, but we all chipped in with the ceremonial elements.

Little Bit was excited to be big enough to have parts for HER to say this year too.

One of the extremely meaningful parts of the seder for me, is that it would have been during the seder that Jesus washed the disciples feet at the Last Supper. So one adaptation we make is to include foot washing as a part of our Seder. Traditional Jewish Seders include a ceremonial hand-washing, so that is an easy place to substitute foot washing.

I think Little Bit's other favorite part was getting to drink FOUR glasses of grape juice AND it was her first time having a "real glass".

For Shabbat (Friday night), we use stemware, but I have a fancy mug that we use for our Kiddush cup (to pass the first glass of "wine"/grape juice around while saying the blessing over the wine), and she's always just used that as her cup. But since we don't have a Kiddush cup as a part of the Passover Seder AND because it's probably a 12oz mug, so not exactly something to fill 4 times throughout the meal, we decided to do something different. The goblets were had were some we got from Goodwill the first year we celebrated Passover and were quite small (intentionally so), but we were only able to find 4 when we got them, and then one recently was broken, while drying dishes, so we only had 3. Goodwill isn't as close by as it used to be, and I didn't plan far enough ahead to check there for more last time we were on that side of town, so I found inexpensive, but larger, wine goblets at Target and declared those to be for the adults, and the 3 small ones for the 3 girls. The big girls weren't too thrilled with that arrangement, but Little Bit was very excited to be big enough to have a glass like Sissies :)

Much to our annoyance it got COLD again this week! Dropping below freezing a couple nights, and not being warm enough to want to spend all day outside like it had been the week before. Because of that, and rain, and everything else we had going on, I didn't get our raised bed put together like I'd hoped, but I was just as glad we hadn't gotten around to PLANTING anything yet, with the colder than normal temperatures, so there are pros and cons . . .

Friday afternoon we headed down to my parents' house for the weekend. My uncle and cousin were coming for the weekend to see Grandma, and, since we hadn't seen my cousin since the twins were younger than Little Bit, we decided to come down and see them too. They got here Sabbath afternoon and we've been enjoying catching up.  During supper, the twins discovered that my cousin is a Chemistry teacher, and they've been peppering her with science questions ever since.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Try a New Recipe: Matzah Pitzah

Passover started last night, so in honor of that, I thought I'd share our Matzah Pitzah recipe. It's kind of a stretch to call it a recipe, but it's easy and yummy! Besides, an area grocery store had a coupon for a free HUGE box of Matzah, so I got that instead of the normal small box (not gonna pay $3-4 for a little box when I can get a huge box free!) so we have lots of matzah to use up this year :)

When I was a kid, my mom would make "pizzas" using english muffins for the crust, so we decided to try that with matzah, and it worked GREAT!! If you're not familiar with matzah, they're basically big square, rather tasteless crackers that are the "unleavened bread" of Passover.

So, here's the "recipe":
marinara or pizza sauce
shredded cheese
chopped olives and/or other pizza toppings

Spread sauce, cheese and toppings on matzah crackers. Place on baking sheets and bake until cheese is melted. Cut each matzah into 4 pieces, and serve.

This is about the easiest possible meal! And it was good! I liked it better than the english muffin version! Little Bit wasn't impressed but I think she doesn't like the kind of tomato sauce we have right now (it's organic and I got it for less than $2/jar at an overstock grocer, so I got lots and the rest of us like it so she's just gonna have to live with it!).

So there's our recipe for this week! Happy Passover!!!

Head over to Try a New Recipe Tuesday to check out other great recipes!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up April 14

I'm still trying to catch my breath from this past week! We started out the week at Mama and Papa's house. On Sunday we went to play with friends. It was a gorgeous day outside and the kids had a blast!!! They put on dog shows (with the very long-suffering puppies), dug in the garden, created and ran obstacle courses, cuddle puppies (well, Wiggy isn't a puppy, but he's smaller than one LOL) . . . it was  a wonderful day!!

Sometime in the last few months, when we were at Mama and Papa's, my mom remembered that, when I was a kid, my grandmother had put together a "doctor kit" using various medical things she had around the house (she was a nurse). So mom got that out for the kids. All 3 of them have had fun with it, and Little Bit was very into it this trip. She spent most of her time wrapping and re-wrapping my legs (it was a real hardship, to HAVE to sit still and not do anything, my kind of "playing" with the kids LOL. . . I actually got caught up on lesson planning, thanks to her play.  But one day she got abit more creative and "doctored" Ashlyn.  Lexie was her "nurse".  The picture doesn't show that another Ace bandage is tying Ashlyn's legs together LOL.

We got home Tuesday, and did our best to fit in little bits of school between all the play in the gorgeous outside weather! The girls have even managed to get Daddy out shooting hoops with them a few times, which led to, as he describes it "Ashlyn's first sports injury" I guess they both went for the ball, and she ran into him, which knocked her down and scraped her elbow pretty good.

Wednesday was our end-of-year evaluation for homeschooling. Ashlyn was very disappointed that she didn't have time to show Miss Karin EVERYTHING she'd wanted to show her, but otherwise, it went fine and the girls had fun showing off some of their artwork and such to an appreciative audience :)

Thursday was music lessons, the girls were preparing for a recital (that was yesterday), so that was the main focus of their lessons. It included them playing a duet together, which requires a level of teamwork that is good for them to focus on.

On Wednesday I'd gotten a new ebook to review that is written for teens to use to set up a microbusiness. So I put it on the iPad and told the girls to read the first chapter during music lessons. Ever since they have been busily planning their own microbusiness :)

We finished up the week with a visit to Grandmom's house. Aunt Lynette and Uncle Dave were there too, and it was another gorgeous day. As soon as lunch was over Little Bit wanted to go outside to play, so we all headed outside. She even convinced Aunt Lynette and Uncle Dave to play on the slide with her :)

Then she and Uncle Dave ran a few "races". Grandmom's back yard is a pretty steep hill, so they got quite the workout. she LOVED it! Though it did mean I had to work abit to keep her from falling asleep on the drive home.

So that was our busy week. LOVING the spring weather!!!!

And, while we were at Grandmom's, we loaded up a few cinderblocks that she didn't need anymore, so now I really have no excuse to not get a small raised bed garden going . . . except, of course, that I hate gardening . . . love the RESULT, just hate the work . . .we'll see how this week goes :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - April 6

I THINK Spring might finally be here!! About freakin' time!!

We had a kind of laid back week . . . Lexie was sick the first day or two, Lina was never "sick" but wasn't eating or sleeping like normal, so something was "off".  . .

The girls grabbed lots of outside time during the wonderful spring weather!!! They're finally getting a chance to play with the game of Graces that we got last fall in Williamsburg, and gave them as a Hanukkah gift this year.

I don't think Little Bit has quite mastered the art of throwing and catching the hoop, using the sticks, but she's quite skilled at running after the hoop when her sisters miss :)

There was also lots of basketball, they even got Daddy to shoot a few hoops with them, and some bike riding and such.

Little Bit also had earned enough "points" for doing chores, to have a "date" with Mommy or Daddy. She has been looking forward to this for awhile now, and knew exactly what she wanted! She wanted Daddy to take her to Chuck E Cheese!!!! BUT . . . that's no fun alone, so she declared Lexie to be her "slave" (yes, those were her words, sigh . . .) to come along and earn tickets LOL.  So that's what they did. And the icing on the cake, so to speak, was that she ended up with enough tickets to get COTTON CANDY as her prize :) At least it's consumable :) And she was generous about sharing it with her sisters, so it worked well all around. But Rodney said it was humorous to see how big her eyes got when she realized she could get COTTON CANDY!!! :)

This time of year, we always tend to back off abit on school, to leave time for plenty of outside play, and I've decided that the idea of "spring cleaning" is absurd . . . neither the girls NOR I want to be stuck in the house doing extra CLEANING when it's lovely outside! I did happily take advantage of good weather to hang clothes outside to dry, after using drying lines in the basement almost exclusively this winter, to do some extra loads of bedding and such :)

We're enjoying some review product - audios, to keep us entertained in the car whenever we go somewhere, and the girls continue to enjoy their art curriculum. But we've slowed down in most things for a bit here while the weather is good/

We wrapped up our week, with a quick trip to my parents' house. The church school that I attended for 3rd-8th grade was having a "40th anniversary" Sabbath, so I wanted to see who I could see. It was fun! And, while the girls weren't tooo terribly excited about the prospect, and Little Bit wasn't overly thrilled with the day, other than getting to run countless laps around the school gymnasium LOL, the older girls seemed to have fun getting to know some of my old friends, and "Uncle Dan's teacher", who they are now convinced knows EVERYONE in the world! Because he has so many awesome stories :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up - March 30

This week can pretty much be summed as birthday and sickies . . .sigh . . .

We did manage to fit some school in amongst the rest. Ashlyn is LOVING, the art curriculum we're reviewing (check back in about a month to read our review of that!). So pretty much an free time she has, finds her working on that. Lexie is enjoying the curriculum as well, but isn't quite as . . . obsessive about it. It's interesting to see, not only their different interpretations of the assignments, but also their different overall approach to it. Just because they're identical twins, they are most definitely NOT identical, I love it!!!!

At the BEGINNING of March, we got fabric to make Bible-time costumes for them to use in Sabbath School. All month, the Bible stories were about Abraham and all but one of them, suggested having an "adult" dress up as Abraham and/or Sarah to tell the story. Since this is the little kid's Sabbath School class, and Lexie and Ashlyn are my helpers, they get to pretend to be "adults" when the program calls for this. But life's been busy, and it wasn't until this week that we found time to make the costumes, sigh . . . we DID get them both done (but haven't had 2 well "models" to model them both at the same time. Their Sabbath dresses are short sleeved, so the pink sleeves aren't there when they wear them at church. I just made it up as we went. The head dresses were easy, 2 remnants of different brown striped fabrics, they just hemmed them and were done. Lexie finger-knitted brown yarn to make the ties for both the head dress and the robe. For the robe, we took 2 rectangles of fabric, the length we wanted the robe, and for an estimated width I had them hold their arms straight out to the sides, and took approximately from elbow to elbow. Cut one piece in half (down the length), then seamed the sides, up to where the arm hole would start, and the shoulders across the top. And that's it. we may hem it at some point, but the rough edges kinda add to it, and it's a fabric that I don't think will unravel too badly with occasional use.

After the lovely spring weather last weekend, winter returned this week, sigh.  We even got snow flurries a couple days, but thankfully nothing that stuck. It WAS cold enough to require coats when going out, sigh. Here, Lexie and Little Bit are posing with their new tote bags from Miss Judy before we head to the store. 

In addition to Wednesday being Little Bit's Birthday, it was also the day Ashlyn got sick, sigh. Little Bit had been planning, FOR WEEKS all the things sissies were going to do with her ON HER BIRTHDAY! And Ashlyn spent the day sleeping, which left Lexie to be bossed around by Little Miss Five! She did awesome, helping with meals and such, and not complaining at all, about playing 5-year-old games all day.

Thursday, Ashlyn was still sick, so we hung out at home. 

Friday was Lexie and Ashlyn's birthday.  Ashlyn was feeling better, but still not 100%, so it was abit subdued, but still a nice day.  Little Bit had the brilliant idea that "since it's your birthday, you should play with me!" but handled it ok when they vetoed that idea LOL. We finished sewing the above-mentioned costumes. And got ready for the grandparents to come celebrate birthdays with us the next day.

Little Bit had declared she wanted a strawberry heart-shaped cake with pink sprinkles and, once the Easter candy started appearing in stores, she added that she needed Peeps and eggs too. . . Conveniently, mom had a heart shaped pan that she sent home with us last time we visited them. I had good intentions of making a healthy-ish strawberry cake, but when Ashlyn being sick meant all grocery shopping AND preparations had to be done on Friday, with her still not feeling good, I caved and just bought a strawberry cake mix. I love that, while we aren't nearly as healthy as I'd LIKE us to be, Lexie's reaction to the bright pink cake batter was . . . that is PINK! YUCK!!! LOL. Little Bit was thrilled, however (sigh). . . I DID convince her that the pink sprinkles would show up better on white frosting, so at least avoided adding MORE food coloring that way, and the finished product did turn out cute! And most importantly, SHE was thrilled with it.
Initially, we'd talked about just getting a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for the big girls, but then, Thursday evening, I found a recipe online, to make you own ice cream bundt cake, with a crunchy layer like DQ's cakes have and it sounded easy enough to be do-able. The girls loved the idea so we made their cake. They chose Chocolate Moose Tracks for the bottom, the middle crunchy layer was crushed Oreos and Magic Shell, and teh top layer was Peanut Butter Carmel Brownie ice cream. It was kind of messy to get out of the pan (by the time I melted it enough to get it loose, the top was too melty - if we do it again, I'll get it out of the pan a day ahead & re-freeze it on a platter) but overall easy enough and YUMMY!!

So, in addition to the above-mentioned cakes, the plan was to come home after church and have all the grandparents at our house for dinner, and present-opening. BUT Ashlyn woke up Sabbath morning feeling worse again, and opted not to go to church. The plan for Sabbath School had been for Lexie to be Abraham, and Ashlyn to be Sarah, and each had memorized her parts (about 1/3 page each). When I pointed out that, as leader, I couldn't hide away in the (too small for me to fit) tent, like Sarah was supposed to do, Lexie decided she better be Sarah (she didn't like my idea of just saying that Sarah was SUPPOSED to have been in the tent, but wasn't), so Sabbath morning, in about 15 minutes, she memorized those lines so I could read Abraham's part and she could be Sarah. 

Grandmom (Rodney's mom) decided she didn't want to risk catching whatever Ashlyn had, so it was just my parents and grandmother.  Apparently 11 is the age where we glare at people who want to take our picture with the cake, but oh well . . . After lunch, dessert, and presents, I noticed that Lexie had disappeared upstairs, but thought she had just taken one of her new books upstairs to read in peace or something. When my parents were getting ready to leave, I called up to her and got no response, so went to check on her, and she was fast asleep. Uh-oh! I let her sleep . . . at some point that evening she woke up and said she had a headache, drank some water, and went back to sleep. When I went up to tuck Ashlyn and Little Bit in, Lexie had a plastic bucket next to the bed, so I asked if she had thrown up. She said no, but she felt like she might, and in the middle of the night, she did (but had that bucket handy, so no big mess. I still don't know if she had a headache that caused her to throw up (some of my headaches do that), or if she has what Ashlyn had, but needless to say, we are taking a very relaxed start to this new week, sigh . . . conveniently, it's a NOTHING PLANNED week, so if we need to take a sick-week, we can.

In positive news, Ashlyn seems fully back to normal, finally, today!  

Friday, March 28, 2014

I Blinked . . . and Now They Are 11!!

How in the WORLD can my babies be 11 already? Seriously, I don't understand!!! They have matured so much in the past year. There's not much "little girl" left in them *sob*, but they're growing into lovely young ladies, and are so much fun!

We do a similar birthday routine, to what I described on Little Bit's birthday, though they informed me they didn't need crowns, or a "path" this year, and I just left the same hearts on the window and balloons at the bottom of the stairs, that were still up from Wednesday :)

A tradition I started with all 3 girls 5 years ago (because that's when I read about the idea, online), is to get each of them a teacup each year for their birthday. That way they'll each have a nice big collection of teacups by the time they're grown. Each year I browse Goodwill, and stores like TJ Maxx, to find their teacups, so each one is different. this year we also gave Lexie a teapot that matches one of her other teacups, and Ashlyn a cute sugar bowl that I found. And of course, we read their rainbow bridge story this morning, and lit their candles :)

Here's their story:

Once upon a time two tiny babies began growing side-by-side in a warm little nook. They snuggled together, and sometimes they  played together. The second one loved to do somersaults. The first one was anxious to get out and explore the new world they were getting ready for. But every time she asked the special rainbow fairy if it was time yet, the fairy shook her head. Finally the first baby got tired of waiting, the second one told her they should wait, and follow the rules, but the first baby just wiggled and giggled and danced her way across the rainbow bridge. As she reached the other side, her new mommy and daddy excitedly welcomed her, and called her Lexie.

The second baby sighed, and slid, feet-first across the rainbow bridge, and the Mommy and Daddy excitedly welcomed her, and called her Ashlyn.

(light the first candle)

And then Lexie and Ashlyn were one year old and they loved to slide down the stairs on their tummies, and they were giggly and happy.

(light the second candle)

When they were two years old they loved to splash in the water and swing on the swings.

(light the third candle)

When they were three years old they loved all things Princess.

(light the fourth candle)

When they were four years old, they liked to visit Daddy at work, and play on the playground.

(light the fifth candle)

When they were five years old, they moved to Pennsylvania, where they could play outside all day long.

(light the sixth candle)

When they were six years old, they welcomed their new baby sister into their home.

(light the seventh candle)

When they were seven years old, they loved visiting science museums and picking raspberries.

(light the eighth candle)

When they were eight years old they helped their Papa build an awesome playhouse.

(light the ninth candle)

When they were nine years old, they moved to a new house.

(light the tenth candle)

When they were ten years old, they enjoyed outside time, handwork, and learning.

(light the eleventh candle)

And now Lexie is eleven years old! She loves to read, is great with little children, and has an answer for everything.
And Ashlyn is eleven years old! She wants to know how everything work, and always does her best. 
Lexie and Ashlyn are turning into lovely, intelligent young ladies and we're so happy to be a part of their eleventh birthday.

(make a wish, blow out the candles and sing Happy Birthday)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Y is for Year-Round Schooling

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This is the time of year when people start thinking about the "end of school".  And that means that people at church, and the store and the library and most everywhere else we go, ask my girls variations of "Are you ready for school to be out?"

A few years back, that cause some consternation in our house. See, school is never "out" at our house! And all those people planting the idea that it should be, led to Lexie and Ashlyn thinking they must be missing out on something. . .

But one thing I love about my girls, is they ask questions about EVERYTHING and are happy to talk things through. So, when they started to think it might be "not fair" that they didn't get a summer vacation, they asked me about it, and we talked about why we don't do that. Now, when people ask, Ashlyn and Lexie enthusiastically tell them "we do school all year!" And will happily go into more detail if asked.

So, why DO we do school year round? And why are my kids glad that we do?

At first, I assumed we'd "do school" during the school year, the same as "everyone else". And we started out with that schedule. But I soon discovered something. . . we all thrive on the schedule (loose though it is) of "doing school". The girls weren't sure what to do with their time, when we didn't have that extra big of structure, and they ended up fighting and whining and . . . life just wasn't pleasant . . .So, in those early days, when school was only an hour or so a day, and extremely laid back, my reason for not "taking breaks" from school was simple, it provided a structure that worked for our family. And that structure cut down on the whining and bickering!

As the girls got older, we discovered a couple other things . . . one thing . . .there is SOOOO MUCH to learn! It's fun to learn! And there's no possible way that we'll ever find time to learn everything we want to learn! So, in light of that, it seems illogical to waste time when we could be learning fun things! A big example of this is history. Even with schooling year round, it took us 3 years to get through most of (not all of) American History. If we'd "taken summers off" we would have had to cut out tons of awesome books and field trips!

Another thing. One of the things we love about homeschooling is the flexibility! That can mean deciding to head down to Mama and Papa's house, or go with Daddy on a business trip, or just go out and fly kites on a day that is PERFECT for it!

We take "snow days" when the snow is perfect for playing in, and we don't on days when it's too cold or too powdery or whatever. We take LOTS of "spring days" as the weather turns warm and we can revel in being OUTSIDE!!!!

On the flip side, when it's July and 98 degrees and 100% humidity, we happily settle ourselves inside near the air conditioner and read books and do art projects and just generally "do school". . .

I don't ever have to worry about "missing school" on days when the weather is begging us to spend the day outside, because I know that we don't just have 180 days to cram everything into, we have all year, every year!

And finally, we live a lifestyle of learning . . .it's hard to decide what "school" is . . . just this week, as we approach Lexie and Ashlyn's birthday, Lexie asked me if we could "skip school" on their birthday. My response . . . "Sure, so you don't want me to read God King to you for Bible?"  Well, yes, she definitely wants to do that! . . . "ok, so you don't want to do art?" YES!!! Of course we want to do art!!!  "Ok, then we'll just skip history?"  NOO!! History is fun! We need to do history! . . . hmmmmm . . . so what exactly are you wanting to skip? In the end, I think they decided they didn't want to do math on their birthday LOL.  And what DO they want to do on their birthday? They want to sew! Guess what? That's school too! Call it home ec or art or problem solving class or all of the above, but they certainly are learning stuff when they sew!

So, we school year-round because learning is fun, and we don't really know how to NOT be learning, and all learning is "school" . . . it works for us!

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