Wednesday, February 25, 2015

potato stamp printing press

Two days ago we were reading in history about Johannes Gutenberg and his invention of the printing press. What I love about teaching the kids history is that I'm learning right along beside them. I had a pretty terrible exposure to any history other than the Pilgrims and WWII so I find it all so very fascinating. 

At the end of the chapter they suggested we make potato stamps. Like I've said before, I do not enjoy crafts and I'm totally not a sugary "sweet" kind of person who does this all the time. However, I remembered these cookie cutters my mom gave me a few years ago and that they'd be super easy to use. So that's what we did.

It only took minutes to make the stamps and then the kids were busy stamping and painting away.

They had a lot of fun and it made me feel good too. Plus, hopefully they'll remember how important the printing press was.

Noah's leaf stamps. 

Evie's stamps. 

reading to Ez

After having zero interest in books or sitting still, Sunday night Ezra decided he wanted to be read to. And now he's addicted. I can't get through school with the olders without him climbing onto my lap to read the same book over and over. And over. I'm hoping this will help him learn to talk better than Samuel. Evie was already jabbering away by his age (21 months)... Perhaps I should just hope that he won't be as bad as Samuel. 

Anyway, I'm happy he's all of the sudden decided to enjoy books!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

spicy Ez

 Terry was a brave daddy on Saturday and took the kids to Watiki (minus Ez who napped at my folks) while I worked. When they returned, they were understandably famished. Terry busted out the chips and salsa and everyone dug in. Ezra has loved chips for a while but we were surprised that he wanted to dip his chip into the salsa. He kept yelling for us to let him and yelled more if we took it away. 

He did actually eat it. And quickly!  I'm wondering if in general he likes Mexican or spicy foods better. He seems to eat better when there's beans, rice or spiciness involved. 

He's also recently started "cheesing" for the camera. He even says "cheese," which is what he's doing here. Cutie. He won't have those chubby cheeks for long. He will be a big two year old on the last day of May. Already that seems too close. Sob.

Mexico/L.A. trip

Terry has a heart for missions. His trip to Macau, China as an 18 year old, changed the trajectory of his life. Prior to that trip he planned on becoming an engineer and being set for life. After that trip, he wanted to be a missionary. And that's what he went to school at Moody for - Teaching English as a Second Language and Missions. The thing was, he didn't want to go alone. So he stayed in Chicago to work and eventually went to grad school, right before he met me. He realized one of the reasons he had done so well in Macau and on mission trips in general was because he was gifted with students. So now he's essentially a missionary at home - a youth pastor. It fits him perfectly and he works extremely hard. 

Terry wants other kids to be able to have an experience like he did. Experiencing a different culture and seeing God at work there can change a person for the better. And so, this summer, he's taking this group to Mexico and L.A.

This will be his second trip, the first being with Gburg back in 2011. It's kind of crazy that I didn't do a blog post from his perspective of his two week actual trip. All I did was post my experience from back at home in Rapid while he was gone. 

Anyway, Terry took about 30 people from Gburg on this same trip and is doing it again. They're waist deep in preparations for the trip: fundraising by letters and brown bags have already taken place, and a chili feed and a dinner theater are coming up. It's going to be a very busy couple months around here!

Evie's late night

A couple weeks ago Evie was invited to a Rush hockey game by her friend Michaela. Her folks Matt and Amanda (with whom we saw U2 in 2011) are friends of ours from back in the day. We used to be in the same small group before we moved to Gburg. Then they were in our connection group last past fall. And they live only blocks away! Crazy.

Anyway, Evie and Michaela are the same age and since Matt scored some Rush tickets, they took Evie and we took their youngest daughter Sydney. Matt and Amanda even bought them cowbells to cheer with.

It was something like kids night so all the kids got a free jersey. That'll come in handy for Awana sports night. Evie had a good time and got to stay up past 10pm. Lucky her! We wanted Noah to have some fun staying up late too so we let him watch Spiderman 2 with us (the original, yo. I don't much care for the new ones). 

Go Rush! Oh wait, they lost...

Monday, February 23, 2015

dishwasher breakdown

On February 8th, Terry and I were suddenly, rudely and unnecessarily awakened at 3am by our malfunctioning smoke detector. And then we couldn't fall back asleep. 

Ever since we demolished the fireplace last summer, the stupid thing goes off in random spurts, though this was a first for the middle of the night. We'd done everything possible to fix it (a new battery and thorough vacuuming) but now it's permanently disconnected from the wall until we buy a new one.  Go, go gadget Menard sales!

In addition, our stovetop and dishwasher had been malfunctioning as well. The stove only cooks on high. So that will have to be fixed, eventually. Just add it to our tab.

That same weird and expensive night another house appliance bit the dust: Our dishwasher. When we got up the next morning, rather bleary eyed and grumpy, we found that our dishwasher had been running all night. Terry took it apart to determine if it could be fixed or not. Perhaps it could but he decided it wasn't worth it since it was so old and something else was bound to break anyway (it came with the house). Terry hauled it out to the back deck and we cleaned up the dishwasher gap. Ezra fit in there pretty nicely.

Two's company Noah...

Whenever he could find the time that week, Terry shopped around for new dishwashers and discovered they are rather expensive. I could wait until we found something for a decent price. After all, I was the dishwasher growing up, so it wasn't a huge deal to have to go back to hand washing. Things could be a lot worse! It was just kind of a hassle. 
Bye bye old dishwasher

On Thursday of that week, with the help of Terry's co-worker and friend Paul, we found a good dishwasher on closeout which we were able to get further reduced for 10% off. But of course Lowes gets you with additional fees, despite the "free installation." Anyway, the installation guy was here last week and got it hooked up. It's nice to have a dishwasher besides myself again. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

family piano

Since August Noah and Evie have been working hard on their piano lessons. They're already to the point of choosing and memorizing recital songs. They've gotten a lot better!

On Wednesday mornings Terry goes in to the church later since he's there late for youth group. While he's home, he goes over the kids' new lessons for the week. 

So when Ezra and Samuel sat down at the piano together and started messing around I grabbed the camera. But by the time I got there everyone had joined them - even better photo op.

Cute little Dwidgie. Yeah, Ezra received that nickname after we watched a movie with the word "dirigible" in it. I started calling Ezra "Dirigible" since it was so fun to say. Then it got shortened to Dwidgie, Dwidge and Widge. I made up a song too. He's a cute Dwidgie. 

And here are Noah and Evie performing a London Bridges duet a few days before.

will it float?

A couple weeks ago Noah and Evie were reminiscing about how fun it was when we used to do science projects. Yeah, I kind of got out of the habit because I feel like the rest of school is enough work and therefore, theory is enough for now. Plus, I hate crafts. Perhaps that's because of one of my earliest memories: My folks must have taken me to try out a preschool but never took me back again after I had a meltdown over not being able to cut paper with those stupid safety scissors. Sounds like Samuel...

Anyway, when we did school last week they suggested a very simple experiment. And I took a photo even though it was totally not a big deal. But now my kids know that salt water floats things better than plain water. 

Plain tap water vs 10 teaspoons of salt added to tap water. It floats!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

hiking and geocaching M hill

Last Friday's weather was utterly amazing for February, again (!), as it had been the weekend before. We're in the midst of weird spring-like weather - bouncing back and forth between 50s/60s and below freezing/snow. All the while New England is buried under like 100 inches of snow. While they were being battered with a crazy blizzard last weekend, we were hiking in t-shirts and 60 degrees. I love Rapid City.

So, Friday, February 13th found us hiking up M Hill in the very midst of Rapid City. Terry did this trail with the olders in September of 2013 when Ezra was only a few months old. But this time we all went and Snap managed the whole thing just fine (his legs kept giving out on him before...). Also, this time we went further by combining our hike with a geocache search

What was fun for me is that I hadn't actually done this trail since I was probably in elementary school. My entire family went and the only thing I remember about it was when my dad insisted we all go off the trail to get back down. He took us over the very steep front side of the hill! We left mom to traipse back down the safe trail while we followed dad down was seemed to me to be a nearly vertical mountain. I will have to tease my dad about that...

Here they are just getting started. 

We opted to hike with Ezra in a stroller since we didn't anticipate doing anything too crazy. Noah, Evie and I took a shortcut to the top, right over the "M," while Terry toiled up the steep trail, pushing Ezra. But Samuel wanted to stop so much for water that it wasn't too hard on poor Terry. And I gotta say how improved Samuel's attitude and stamina were for this hike. We went twice in the fall (the flume and devil's bathtub) and Samuel wanted carried from the halfway point. He did wonderful this time. 

Once we caught our breathe, Noah and Evie admired the top from probably about the same spot my dad led us down when I was little. Seems pretty vertical doesn't it?!

As Terry, Samuel and Ezra finally summited the hill, Terry took a panoramic shot with his phone. Ezra looks like he has a swollen eye... Oops!

At this point we were trying to decide our next course. We opted to attempt locate where the geocache was and if we could reach it with the stroller. 

As we came back down the trail we took a left hand spur that went up and back to the cell tower. You can see the "M" behind us. 

From the cell tower we turned around took a small trail south down the hill opposite the "M" which wasn't exactly stroller friendly. It was pretty rocky and Terry ended up lifting the back two wheels off the ground and navigating with just the one front wheel. It was like an extreme stroller edition of hiking. I think Ezra had a pretty fun time. I know I did. 

See, we went down the side opposite of the M.

At this point Terry is determining if we had to continue down what was a pretty rough trail. It wasn't too hard on two feet, but it was for three wheels. 

So Ez and I camped out right there and ate our lunch while Terry took the others further down the hill to find the geocache.  

And find it they did! Noah was the one to spot the cache hidden in the rocks. 

The kids prefer this kind of cache - one that's big enough to exchange treasures/junk. We've been leaving these little plastic bears behind, because, you know, we're the six bears!

This was their view. If they had kept going they would have come to a dead end cliff overlooking the creek and trail below.  

When they returned Evie led me back down to show me where the cache was. It took a little extra exploring to figure it out again but she managed it. 

And finally it was time to head home for naps. We took a trail that went west from our location and connected to the main trail back down the way we had come. The kids took another short cut and raced to this little bridge.

We discovered there was another cache along the trail that runs beside the creek. Evie found it and was the first to sign the new logbook. She even managed to stuff a little bear in there, though it wasn't meant to hold one.  

I can't wait for consistent nice weather, but it sure was nice to get some fresh air that day :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grampa, Grace, Samuel bdays

Last weekend we all headed out to the ranch to hang out and celebrate Samuel's birthday, along with Grampa's and Grace's (both in January). Really, their birthdays had already been celebrated, but since Samuel's party was foiled by icy roads we didn't have a chance to exchange gifts with Grace. Plus we hadn't been out there since Christmas and the weather was absolutely gorgeous, even for February. It was close to 70 degrees! So after lunch and the littles were napping, we went on a 4-wheeler ride to the south like we often do (we did a 3-in-1 back in September also).

It'd be nice to live right smack dab here.

They only have pine trees on this back corner of their land. It's our favorite part.

This is the view from those trees.

There's me and Evie, taking a cell phone picture of Terry...'s what I was seeing :)

When we returned to the house we got out Noah's bb gun, our .22, a paper target and 4 pop cans full of water. Then Jerry brought out his .22 and his pistol. 

Terry was trying to get the rifle's scope lined up right. 

I made a bulls eye on my second shot :D It was from about 30 yards.

And finally we went back inside where we had to wake up Samuel so we could have cupcakes, gifts and go (we had plans at church that evening). Poor little guy was absolutely out and didn't want to wake.

Here are all the birthday peeps awaiting their song. Poor Samuel is quite tired.

Blowing out the candles :)

Ezra mini-Samuel

On Samuel's birthday I came back home from some shopping to find the kids and daddy watching a movie. I glanced at them and nearly mistook Ezra for Samuel. Ezra was sitting in Samuel's usual spot in the exact same way that Samuel sits - with his face in his hands propped up on the end of the couch. It's crazy! Here's hoping the two of them will have more in common and get along as good buddies later, and soon, in life.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

big and little bro

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. But perhaps it had something to do with being pestered even before breakfast to spell out complicated friends' names while Noah and Evie were excitedly putting together Valentine cards. I just couldn't handle it and was in a bad mood all morning. My poor kids. I don't pretend to be perfect (and don't believe it if you think I am). I am far from it. And throw in homeschooling with four kids and I get even less perfect due to the irritation of being with them 24-7. Let me tell you: There is no summer vacation. This is life. It is most certainly hard but most good and worthwhile things are hard. I am thankful, and increasingly all the more as I continue to learn about a great many things...

But, I love them and feel very convinced deep down that this is the right thing for us. So I keep going. But it is nice when the spunky punks sit still for just a bit and do something cute like this... I was marveling at the stark contrast in their sizes.

Noah was watching a Math-U-See instructional division video (there's Mr. Demme!) and Ezra plopped down right there and imitated him. So cute but not enough to improve my attitude. My kids are so sweet and forgiving though. I'm so thankful we are able to do this.

Ezra is growing too fast!