After 5 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I found the wonder of mothering slowly starting to get crowded out by the mundane feeling. I realized our world seems to surround people with the negative, and complaining about blessings seems totally acceptable. So I decided to fight against that "normalcy" and focus only on the positive. I look back to my first year as a mom when everything was new and keeping house was fun and I aim to have that attitude again. This blog is my outlet to showcase the daily miracles that surround me in my blessed life as a stay-at-home mom so that I will never forget the wonder of it all.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sum it up Saturday

Grammy had Monday off, and the weather was hot, so we took the day off school to go swimming at her house.  Then we had friends from out of state visit for two days.  We enjoyed time with them while they were in town.  And on Friday, another friend came over for the day to visit.  That left Tuesday free to do school.  So we didn't.  :) 

We took the week off to enjoy family and friends.  I'm so thankful for home school which allows my kids the freedom to love and enjoy people so much.  I'm glad they're not locked up in a classroom with 30 other kids their age all day.  Hooray for being free to hang out with lots of different people of all ages.  :)

How was your home school week?
I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.
And if you do your own Sum it up Saturday post, please leave a link!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sum it up Saturday

That?  Oh that's just your every day drawing in the street of a massive person. 
I was kind of embarrassed when my neighbor left for work in the morning and found me in the street before 7am drawing a massive human shape.  But she just yelled, "Good morning honey!  Working on a lesson?"
My neighbors know me better than I thought!  :)
It was my turn to teach at our science co op this week (we meet every other Friday and the moms trade off teaching and snack duties).  Well, I had the job of teaching circulation.  I was not thrilled.  Why couldn't I have something beautiful and fun to teach like metamorphosis?  Ugh...I was NOT looking forward to teaching this lesson.  But then a friend told me about a game her home school group did to teach circulation that sounded perfect.  I tweaked it a bit for our young group and came up with our own version.  Inside, we had a small lesson about our heart; how its a muscle, how it beats, how it pushes blood through our body, etc.  I taught them that our blood feeds our cells oxygen, and flushes out carbon dioxide.  I told them the blood was kind of like the lunch man who delivers the lunch (oxygen), and then takes out the trash (carbon dioxide).   Once outside, I placed the kids on two teams and each team had three jobs; a cell, blood transporting oxygen to the cell, and blood transporting carbon dioxide away from the cell.  Our cells sat way down at the big toe.  Next to the cell sat our carbon dioxide transporting blood.  Up at the heart stood our oxygen carrying blood who each held a bag of felt food.  At "GO!" the oxygen carrying blood would follow the blood vessels drawn on the ground and run their way down to the cell in the big toe, one on the right and one on the left.  Once they reached their cell, they gave the cell their food.  The cell took the food out of the bag and handed the bag (trash) to the carbon dioxide transporting blood who ran the trash back up to the heart.  Which ever team got to the heart first won.  Are you following?  HA!  The kids had a lot of fun with this activity and we played a lot of rounds of it.  We also did an experiment to see how blood pumps into our hearts, using a turkey baster, and another experiment to show how we bruise, using grapes in plastic bags.  But this is getting wordy enough so I'll spare you the details.  :)

Other than our science co op, our week was pretty normal.  I finally got my act together and arranged a birthday party for Logan and his friends.  We went to our favorite park that literally sits on the marina where you can watch seal swim and pelicans dive.  These California kids have it rough I'm telling you!  His two home school buddies and their siblings and Mamas joined us for a day of play and treats.  I LOVE watching home schooled kids get together to play.  I'm always touched by how all inclusive they (usually) are.  Age and gender don't seem to phase them and they just all play together.  We took the kids to the park but I think they really never played on the park.  They soon found two overgrown patches at the parks edge and turned them into forts.  They divided themselves into two teams and played some sort of war game where prisoners were taken and rescued over and over for hours.  Sword fights a plenty! 
Papa came over on Monday for some "Papa School".  Oh how I'm loving this wonderful routine!  I feel so spoiled to cook away in my kitchen while the kids are being schooled!  Such luxury!  :) 
How was your week of home schooling?
Please feel free to share about your week in the comments,  and please leave a link if you care to join me in a "Sum it up Saturday" post.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mud Season

Many of the blogs I love to follow are written by Mama's living in areas where they experience a true Winter, snow and all (imagine that!).  These Mama's talk about the mud season, which comes after the snow has melted, leaving fields of mud in its wake.  Well, I thought I'd share pics from our own mud season.  No, we don't have snow, but yes, we DO have a mud season.  A very LONG one in fact.  For six months out of our year, May - October, we have heat.  HEAT!  100 + degrees.  Which basically means that our "mud season" lasts for six months.  Mud season is when water play in the sheep trough begins.  The sheep trough is in the back yard, where there's a whole lot of dirt.  I think you get the picture.  My kids have old clothing we keep around specifically for playing in the mud.  Each morning, they go out and scoop the muddy water out of the sheep trough with buckets, old tea kettles, and pots.  They water the plants in the garden and when the trough is mostly empty, they dump the rest out.  Then they hose out the layer of mud on the bottom, tip it right side up, and fill it up with nice fresh water.  Then they play in that water on and off all day long.  And the cycle repeats daily.  Yeah, we have a LOT of mud around here.  6 HOT months full of mud.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Kian's new favorite job is vacuuming.  The vacuum makes Arrow pretty nervous.  So, Kian vacuums, and Arrow keeps a VERY close eye on the whole process.  It keeps them both busy for quite a while.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

I've been wanting the kids to each have their own little planting bed in the backyard....something they were responsible for.... a place they could plant whatever they wanted.  For Mother's Day, Zac asked me if there were any projects around the house I wanted to have done.  I chose the kids' garden beds.  After church we took the kids to pick out their plants.  We told them they could pick anything they wanted to grow.  Kian was disappointed to learn that neither pancakes nor goldfish crackers grew on plants.  He settled for strawberries, cantaloupe, and gourds.  :)  I hope I never forget his little face looking up at me asking, "Mama, do pampakes grow on plants?". 

We came home, and in our 100+ degree heat, my dear husband built three little planting beds.  He teased me for being a slave driver.  The kids played in the sheep trough while he built them, but then Kian helped smooth the dirt into the beds, and Logan and Felicity gathered bunny fertilizer.  Then they arranged their beds just how they wanted and planted away.  Lastly we made little name signs for them to add to their beds.  When I talked to my Papa tonight and told him about our day, he said, "you're going to make farmers out of them all"!

I hope so.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sum it up Saturday

We've made tally marks, worked with the clock, played with nickels, planted seeds 5 inches apart, picked up toys in groups of five, counted carnival tickets by groups of ten, used the beautiful number grid in the back of Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 to skip count, and simply practiced together in the car while driving.  And this week, it clicked!  He still stumbles over the order some, especially through the teens, but this week Logan mastered skip counting.  I screeched and hugged him too tight the first time he counted from 5 to 100 by 5s.  Its victories like this, which *I*, not a school teacher, get to share with my kids, which makes home schooling so amazing.  We have worked hard together, and we celebrated together.  :)

This week was a jumbled week.  Arrow wasn't feeling too well and pretty much did not sleep for three nights, which means this Mama didn't sleep for three nights.  I had to look back into my camera to even remember what we did this week.  It was the type of week I tend to call "free".  Not free because we don't do anything, but free because we followed the kids' lead more than the books.  These weeks used to scare me because I worried we didn't accomplish anything.  Now I'm learning that we accomplish so much in these "free" weeks and its not always about having a completed worksheet.  So much learning goes on outside of worksheets!

Logan wanted to make his cousin a birthday present.  Zac helped him, but Logan used most of the tools himself.  He was very proud.

I introduced the kids to Mr. Rogers this week.  I wouldn't say I loved T.V. as a kid, but I do remember loving Mr. Rogers.  We streamed his shows from the PBS website.  The kids love it, especially Kian, as its geared towards his age range.  Its fun to hear the things they retain from these episodes.  One episode featured the group Stomp.  The kids were enthralled by Stomp so we got on youtube and watched more of their shows.  They were especially excited about this video, where Stomp members are shown making music while hanging suspended from a billboard.  With brooms, my old ironing board, drum sticks, an old metal serving plate, and wine barrel hoops hung from a chin up bar, the kids reenacted Stomp.  They had so much fun!

The kids got to do a bit of phonics and handwriting with my Mom yesterday.  I love when others offer to do school with the kids.  Its fun for them and I think its good for them to learn how to take instructions from someone other than just me all the time.  They both learned new concepts in phonics this week.  Felicity learned a new blend and Logan learned to read two syllable words.  Grammy said they did great with it.

This week I read a little bit about how the children in Finland are taught.  One article said they are let outside to play every 45 minutes.  When a teacher was interviewed and asked how she could ever teach them enough when they break every 45 minutes, the teacher said there's no way she could teach them if they DIDN'T get their energy out every 45 minutes.  Play is such a huge part of learning, and for the home schooler, I think it is especially big.  We can take play breaks whenever needed and I'm trying to do that more.  That being said, when we are home all day, we are limited to our SMALL backyard and the cul de sac for outside play.  We've tried to be creative with space to really give a lot of space over to the kids and this week we added something new to the backyard.

Hooray for play!
How was your home schooling week?
Feel free to do your own Sum it up Saturday post and link up in the comments area.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Play Quilt

My sister told me that when she has kids, she'd love it if I made her baby a black, red, and white play quilt.  During my second trimester with Arrow, I thought up a fun plan for such a quilt and decided to just get started on it.  I figured Arrow could use it now and whenever my sister had kids, it would go live at her house.  So I got busy.  Other projects, such as diapers and Arrow's "Mama quilt" took priority, but when I had a chance, I played around with the play quilt.  It was fun to make!  I dug through my scraps and my friend's scraps for red, black, and white prints.  I added in different textures; corduroy, velour, polyester, minky, cotton, fleece, satin, and terry.  I added ribbon scrap loops here and there, one even left over from my wedding 13 years ago!  I added pieces of old cereal bags under some of the hexagons to make them crinkle.  It was just a lot of fun.  Bed rest and some quilting issues pushed this project back quite a bit but I was able to get it finished just as Arrow was starting to like being on his belly a bit.  I was hoping he'd enjoy it, but wasn't getting my hopes up that he'd like it any better than any other blanket we set him on.  So I was thrilled when he DID respond to all the sensory stuff on this quilt.  He definitely enjoys it more than any other old blanket.  :)

 In this picture he found a hexagon that crinkles and is working hard to hit just the right one.
He's having lots of fun with it now, but I can't wait to see my sister's baby on this quilt one day.  Come on adoption process!!!!  Be quick!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Around the Urban Homestead

I've always called our small plot our "urban homestead," but honestly, that always felt more like a goal than a current label.  But each year, as we add more beds and learn more, truly claiming the title of an urban homestead feels a bit closer.  And this year, it feels like we're nearly there.  This year, if all our tomatoes produce well, we should be canning!  CANNING!  That's huge.  I mean, a lot of urban homesteaders focus on eating just what is in season because really, there's often not room to grow enough to preserve.  This year I just decided to go big.  Every year I wish I'd put in more.  Worst case scenario, I go big and have too much.  That's better than not having enough.  So, we have 71 tomato plants currently soaking up the sun on our tiny plot!


Not all the tomatoes are canning types.  At least 7 are "salad" tomatoes; cherry or yellow pear. 
Getting started on the long awaited "Secret Garden" helped in creating more room on our small plot to plant a lot of these tomatoes.  We have a South facing side yard that does nothing but grow weeds.  For years I've wanted to put raised beds down the whole strip.  We put in beds slowly, as time and money allows.  Over the last few months, Zac was able to put in raised beds down two thirds of this area.  The wood was free as he used our old deck boards.  So the only cost here was on soil and soaker hoses.  Planting areas like this excites me because when you urban homestead and don't have fields upon fields available, you really have to get creative and plant in any little speck of ground you can find.  This side yard will up our yield by A LOT!

In addition to the tomatoes, the garden is basically completely "in".  Meaning, everything is planted and now I just weed and water.  Its my FAVORITE time of year and my FAVORITE time of day is when I go out to water each night. 

What are we eating from the garden now?  Greens.  Lots of them!  This is our first year doing Kale and we're all pretty much in love with it.  We eat it in salad, smoothies, and muffins.  Right now we have more than we can keep up with so I'm freezing it for smoothies later on.  Onion tops (what do you technically call them?) are cut up in salads. 

We can't keep chickens, but a few months ago we officially made the switch to only farm fresh eggs.  Oh my goodness, why didn't we do that years ago?  Though we all long to be able to keep chickens and are sad that we can't, we are happy to be buying farm fresh eggs from our many friends who raise chickens.  We have also switched over to goats milk soap, made locally by a friend who is a TRUE homesteader.  Its wonderful stuff!
Having our garden grow in size, and making decisions that bring other homesteaders' products into our home, make the label of "Urban Homesteader" feel almost within reach.  Its exciting!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sum it up Saturday

So I had a home school freak out this week.  Normally when this happens, everything comes to a screeching halt.  But thankfully, we just kind of swung into unschooling mode.  I'm so thankful for that.  It allowed me time to step back, calm down, do some research, and not feel guilty.  My kids weren't running wild.  In fact, in the end, I can look back and say that other than some anxious thoughts, we had a very enjoyable week.

Papa came again on Monday for "Papa School."  I can't even tell you how priceless these times with him are.  He got the kids through their Hooked on Phonics work and then moved into skip counting with Logan.  He brought a nice big clock from his house and introduced time concepts to him.  He also brought pennies and nickels to do skip counting with.  Papa got a taste for a "true Logan day", which is basically a day where Logan's thoughts are in outer space, then the deep ocean, then to make believe worlds of dragons and who knows what else, in about a 3 second span of time.  That can be hard enough to work with, but Logan also can sometimes add in an attitude that's a bit of an amped up, lack of self control type of thing.  He can get upset and take things personal when he doesn't instantly grasp a concept.  Needless to say, these moments are hard and Papa plugged through and was able to give Logan the foundations for telling time and counting money despite it. 

Another thing I did to help Logan grasp skip counting, was to introduce him to tally marks.  The play porch was a disaster so I gathered up all the baskets and set them in front of me.  I had the kids race to bring me 5 toys at a time.  Once the toys were deposited into their correct baskets, they could give themselves 5 tally marks.  After everything was put away, we counted, by 5s, who had the most points.  The winner got to choose a movie to watch during lunch time.  But I think I was the winner here because the play porch was cleaned in record time and by the end of the game, both Felicity and Logan totally understood the concept of how to do tally marks and it gave them more skip counting practice.

We spent all of Thursday at the beach with friends.  Its an hour drive for us so we sang lots of our school songs on the way, and practiced skip counting.  I took 2 nature guides and slipped in some quick animal identification with the kids.  I really want to keep nature journals.  I've wanted to for years.  But honestly, I'm afraid my distractible boy will not do well with sitting, drawing, and observing.  Fearing it will end in a fight, I haven't done it.  I know, I'm totally in the wrong.  I'm looking into doing Ambleside Online for next year's school plan, and they do lots of nature journaling. I figured I'd start implementing the concepts slowly in hopes that by next September, it may be a smooth transition into full nature journaling.  At the beach we identified squirrels.  The next day at home (before home school friends came over to play in our sheep trough thanks to the 100 degree heat), we took our bird book into the back yard to determine which species of woodpecker our little resident guy is.  It took us a while to decipher between two species that look very similar, but in the end we are confident that he is a Downy Woodpecker.  I'm excited to add in these beginning steps of observing nature around us more completely.

I'd love to hear about your home school week!  Leave a comment letting me know what you're up to, or leave a link to your own Sum it up Saturday post.  Has anyone had any experience with Ambleside Online?  I hope you had a great week with your children.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Their Gift

Kian and Felicity made Logan a treasure map for his birthday!  I got the idea to help them make him a treasure map because the kids will often scribble something on scraps of paper and call it their "map."  These maps get carried around for quite a while.
First Felicity picked out a red fabric scrap, and I cut out an X.
Next, Kian and Felicity took turns sewing straight lines on top of the X to adhere it to a large fabric square.  This process goes a bit like this;
Me, "Ok, press the pedal....a little harder....GOOD!....keep going....keep going...keep, STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP!....GOOD JOB!"
Ok, so I need to read up on how to teach children how to sew.  But at least we're attempting it.  This was Kian's first time operating the pedal by himself and he was pretty excited.
After the X was on the map, we took turns sewing zig zagged stitches from a starting point, to the X.  We each chose a different color thread.  Next, I explained that treasure maps often times warned of dangerous places.  So, with a permanent marker, we drew some warnings on our map.
 Kian drew snakes and I labeled the area as "Snake Canyon".
 Felicity drew a monster in a cave and I labeled it "Monster Cave".
I drew trees and labeled it "Black Forest".
Lastly, Felicity sewed a back piece on, to cover up all our stitches.  We just left the edges raw and did not turn and top stitch.  This left it looking a bit ragged on the edges, which is what we were going for.

And there you have it.
Our kids love to gift to each other and we like to encourage them to make gifts when possible.  Sometimes I have lofty goals for them and we start projects that soon loose their interest.  This project was GREAT for Kian and Felicity.  It was fast, simple, and a quick result.  We had it done in a half hour tops.  They didn't really have time to loose interest, and they were very proud of their finished product.

Logan's Mama made gifts were a man apron (since all the others in the house, kid sized, are pink), a birthday crown, and a pair of hammer head shark sleep shorts.  You can see them in the last picture of his birthday post.