Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Day

In order to cut down on the candy mess at our parent's house, my sister and I decided to have our kids open their stockings at home this year. We surprised our kids with them this morning. I had so much fun shopping for this, adding some gift cards from a jewelry shop, lotions and special chocolates for the girls and itunes gift cards, electric toothbrushes and cool hats and gloves for the boys. I found a cute Hello Kitty electric toothbrush and some $1 stuffed monkeys for Annalise.

I also started a new tradition of giving each child a matching ornament to create their own collection of Christmas ornaments for their own Christmas trees when they have their own homes. I thought of the fun it would be for their children to see the same ornaments as they visit their aunts and uncles. These were inexpensive but I loved them ~ but then I love anything that makes me think of the snow of my childhood.

After stockings Ford and Pris went off to work, Kezzi and Hope went to help Grandpa roll meatballs, and the boys & Annalise are lugging bedding and presents over to Grandma and Grandpa's. I put the turkeys in the ovens - 32 lbs. between the two of them. I am cooking them like my grandmother used to with little sausages attached all over them with toothpicks. All I have left is the rolls and the vegetables and then we will be ready!

**Ok, Granny, here's the picture! This is the one cooking in the roaster oven so it's not pretty and brown yet. My sausages aren't working as well as my grandmother's because I used turkey sausage instead of pork. Next time I'll go with the pork because it's greasier and the juices drip down over the turkey while it's cooking.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Evidence of Christmas

Here is Priscilla, the Queen of Christmas this year. She has led the charge in Christmas decorating, even coming home with a wreath that she bought for the front door along with assorted ornaments and ribbons for the Christmas tree. Here she is armed with Christmas lights in her make-shift pouch before she goes outside to decorate the deck railings.

And here's our pretty tree with a few presents under it. We even have our mantle decorated.
Priscilla also made these ornaments to commemorate the mission trip to Kenya. She made one of these for each of the ladies who went with her, along with giving them a framed copy of her drawing of the Kenyan children.

She's inspired other clay-working around here by other children, but I'll have to see if I can get permission to post photos when those projects are finished. And there's another special project by another resident artist awaiting its unveiling on Christmas stay tuned for more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Weird Things Boys Do When They Don't Have TV or Video Games

I spotted this strange creature passing by my windows. This is cousin Paul.

Then I was summoned to the door to see Luke looking like a walking bush. This is taking camouflage to a new height.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday, Cousin Joe!

Our Favorite Lentil Soup Recipe

When I was a young mom I went to the library and checked out different ethnic cookbooks. This recipe was from a Greek cookbook from which I gathered several good recipes. This was the first way we learned to eat and like lentils. Many friends and family, who after declaring they did not like lentils, tried and liked this soup.

2c. lentils

8c. water

1/2 c. each of chopped onion, celery and carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c. olive oil

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

3 T. tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1/2 t. oregano

3 T. red wine vinegar

Rinse the lentils and soak overnight in 2 c. of water. Saute onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil. Add to the lentils along with 6 c. water, salt, pepper, oregano, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until lentils are soft. (I cook mine all day in the crock pot.) Remove bay leaves and add red wine vinegar before serving. We usually double this now and serve it with homemade bread.

*note to Candace ~ This is something easy to make and inexpensive too! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Playing with Dolls

On a rare day, when none of Annalise's cousins could play and all of her siblings were gone, I talked her into getting her neglected dolls out and giving them a good airing. She has quite a few between her own and ones that her sisters have loaned to her. It was quite a feat to get them all dressed and groomed. Since she doesn't frequently play with them and they were so cute lined up on the couch, we decided to get a picture. As I well knew, they were soon stacked back in her room and she continues to spend the majority of her free time outside with her cousins John and Elijah, who don't appreciate playing with dolls.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Art, Art and more Art

I love it when my kitchen table looks like this~with art projects under way!
We are having a great art year. I don't know what has clicked around here that has made me more diligent about having art time but it has. I think it started with the Draw Squad book. We started using that for daily drawing time and it's amazing when something becomes a regular part of our routine that I no longer hear complaints. It's like they just accept it and don't think about balking any more. I think another big help is that I am participating too, not just as the teacher, but as a student.

After successfully incorporating daily drawing, we are adding a weekly art project. This book has loads of fun ideas and I like the easy step-by-step instructions. My goal is to use this time to introduce different media and methods.

People always ask where our kids get their talent from since neither Ford nor I are active artists. This afternoon while we were working on the project pictured on the table Abel proudly stated, "That's where we get our art talent - it's Mom!" Ha Ha. I know it's in me but it's never been developed and I still fear the blank page. My artsy side comes out whenever I'm near art supplies. I love buying them. That's what I've done all of these years. I've bought the supplies and the kids have used them. That's why they do well. Practice and fearlessness. I'm trying to overcome my fears and at my older age learn to draw and paint. I'll probably be one of those old ladies that take art classes at the local art center or go to those week long classes at some folk art center.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bah, Humbug Reformed

Can you believe I'm forty years old and not only have I never read A Christmas Carol to my children, I've never even read it myself? Pathetic, I know. Well, we're reading it now as our first-thing-in-the-morning read aloud. It's one of the many Christmasy things we are doing this year. Funny how appropriate it is for us right now.

After years of struggling off and on with the to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas, we're finally giving in. I don't know if it's just getting older and getting tired of making a big deal out of things or what. I know my parents are thrilled. How many years did we bring our Scrooge spirit into the holiday talking about the "origins of Christmas"? Bless their souls. May I be as gracious to my kids when they act like idiots.

I don't know what's gotten in to me but I've even ordered A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and other oldie Christmas movies from Netflix. I also printed off the Christmas poems off of the Ambleside site. I'm playing Christmas music and baking cookies. And having a great time.

Nature Study - Opposum

Last week the kids had the opportunity to see an opposum up close. Hope was coming home from her cousins' house and heard a rustling noise. After getting a flashlight, she found the creature in the rafters of the carport. Of course, it was an opportunity for some impromtu nature study. Here's the pages from Annalise, Abel and Hope's nature journals (Luke refused permission to publish his.).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Gift Giving

After following the trail from Dewey's Treehouse to this post, I have been really appreciating our way of doing Christmas gifts. Actually, I have been appreciating it every time I hear of someone else's craziness over their Christmas shopping list.

Every year we draw names with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lori, Uncle Kenny and all the cousins. We each draw one name and that is all we have to buy for. This year we even set a price limit at $50. I love it. We have one person to think about, that's it. And now it's really great for our family because almost all of our kids are old enough to earn money themselves. This year I only have to think about my person and Annalise's.

We all spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's and have Christmas day together. The day is more about being together than the gifts, though the gifts are fun. Usually we do a white elephant gift on Christmas Eve. My sister, mom and I cook a nice, big Christmas Eve dinner and then we eat leftovers and lots of Christmas goodies on Christmas Day while we are playing games and hanging out in our pajamas. This year we are adding a performance time on Christmas Eve where each person is supposed to recite something, sing something, dance or whatever.

It's the greatest day~and a stress free season!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Homeschool Blog Awards

The nominations are up at the Homeschool Blog Awards. Shadybrook Acres has been nominated for the Best Super-Homeschooler award. I don't know about being "super" (I can always call to mind many weaknesses) but I certainly do love homeschooling. That must be what it really means. :)

There are lots of great blogs to visit so stop on over there to visit some of the nominations and then vote.