Monday, February 26, 2007

Hiking and Animal tracks

We went on a fun field trip last week to an area environmental park and had a very informative hike. It was supposed to be on snowshoes but because of a warm-up and little snow it wasn't possible. (After our weekend blizzard this would be a perfect week to snowshoe!) It was a blustery morning so we started off shivering but soon the sun came out to warm us up a bit and we were able to enjoy learning about how God created all of the animals to survive and adapt to their surroundings. My circulation must be pretty poor (I am always freezing) so my pinky turned white and was numb -- heading toward frostbite and yes, I was wearing mittens. The area we were in reminds me of our backyard as we can walk through our field and into State Forest -- I am so thankful for this blessing! A guided hike was very welcome as we learned so many things and were able to track various animals and learn more about our surroundings. Now we will be even more observant when we go hiking on our own. So.... do you have any idea what animal track this is???

animal track

I wasn't sure at first but our guide pulled a leg of the animal from her backpack and it is from a..................






Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fun with Art

Art projects are one of my boy’s favorite things to do. Last week we had a lot of fun reading the book Mirette on the High Wire  using Five in a Row and looked at a book of old circus posters so decided to paint our own posters. I wasn’t sure how well it would work out but the boys loved it! They each had their own fun idea and got right to work. I helped Pete and Re-Pete with their lettering and mixing paint colors but other than that they spent the afternoon painting. I really enjoyed watching their individuality shine through. The end result was wonderful! 

The boys displaying their circus posters. (Names are blurred by me)Circus Posters

This week we had an art class that a few homeschool-Moms from church and I take turns teaching. We often go through the book How to Teach Art to Children but take a break now and again. It was my turn to teach so I found the simple project of tie-dying baby wipes and coffee filters. It was fun to see how everyone had a unique design. The kids all enjoyed this and could have spent the day just coloring -- I could have too!


Grandma's familyMy Grandma's Family shorly after they arrived in the United States

This week we had our traditional Lenten meal of Schnitz Soup (dried fruit soup) with Butterballs and Greble (like a donut) for dessert.  My Mom told me that her grandparents made this German Russian meal and I grew up with my Grandma making it every year at the beginning of lent. I do not know if there was any signifigance and now it is mearly a tradition and is the only time we ever make it. The version of the soup can vary and depended upon which village in Russia a person came from. As a child fruit soup never appealed to me and so I ate steak sandwiches along with my Dad and sister. As an adult I decided to give it a try and do enjoy the flavor. My favorite part is frying the Greble and seeing what various shapes I can form. Unfortunately my husband and children have yet to aquire a taste for Schnitz soup. (The look of it can be a bit of a turnoff so I did not take a picture).

Greble -- a German Russian dessertGreble

If you would like to try Schnitz Soup for yourself, here is the recipe....

Boil the following together until all fruit is soft.

3 qt. water

½ c. raisins

½ c. prunes

½ c. dried apricots

½ c. dried apples

½ c. dried peaches or pears

1 c. sugar (I would use less)

½ c. syrup (my grandma used the syrup from canned apricots)


Mix 1 pint sour cream and 3 T. of flour well, then stir into fruit soup. Can be served warm or cold.

My Grandma added Butterballs to her soup, which are made with bread, eggs, butter and allspice. My favorite part of the soup!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Our Valentines Day

Valentines Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year. Probably in part because my Mom always made it such a special day for my sister and I and I have tried to carry that tradition on in our family.

George showing me that Jesus Loves Me.

This year our homeschool group had a Valentine party for the children which was such a fun time! There were 71 children that attended which meant we had quite a few valentines to prepare. We decided to make our own as we always enjoy a craft project (my husband took on that project since I was not home that night -- thanks honey!) and of course the cards were not perfect but it's the thought that counts.

I loved the look of delight on Tank's face as he took a heart from hiding behind his back. He so enjoyed being a part of something his older brothers usually only are in.

After our party we attempted to surprise Daddy with a visit and a valentine but could not find his car in the parking lot. Turns out he was at another building for a meeting.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing at Grandma's house. She was babysitting for my nephew who is a little younger than Tank and the two of them haven't gotten along well but lately there has been a change. I was so happy to see the two of them wanting to take a nap together on Grandma's bed. I think they will be good friends as they grow up. Tank told me that my nephew is his "friend best".

Tank and my nephew enjoying each other's company

Wednesday night we always eat supper at my parents house so my Mom was able to do her traditional Valentine meal which isn't always the same but has the same elements consisting of mainly RED food. The table was very festive and she had gone all out making heart candy and cookies and had a little bag of goodies for each of us. Thanks Mom for all of the special touches and for continuing to create memories.

 Our Valentines Dinner

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Attitude is EVERYTHING!

Lately I have been struggling with the behavior and attitudes of some of our children. By the end of the day I have often had it and feel very frustrated not knowing what more to do. My husband comes home from work and I have to work to change my attitude and not bring him down. I was discussing this with him and ended up pulling out one of our books on child training No Greater Joy Volume 1 and I began to read through the section on bad attitudes. Here is an excerpt that sounded like something I could write.… “The children frustrate me so much. I tell them to do their schoolwork, and they just piddle around. I tell them to clean up their rooms, and they fuss over who is to clean up what. They are always irritating one another. It frustrates me so much, trying to cause them to maintain a good attitude. They are always complaining and whining about something…." That’s it! That sounds like me! Here is the kicker… the problem is MY attitude! Yes, in the back of my mind I knew that to be true but was I really that bad? As I began to reflect on how our day goes at times I know that my attitude toward the children is not the best. I know I get impatient and my response to a question may be very short. I know I struggle when trying to get everyone ready to get somewhere on time and can hear myself yelling. I know that when my oldest has a hard time counting money or trying to read I can loose my patience thinking we have gone over this so many times. How often am I taking the time to just sit down with the children and enjoy playing? Yes, I know the answer to my frustration lies in my own attitude. Of course I love my children and take great delight in them but I am only human and cannot rest in my own strength to handle each day. I have really been convicted that I need to get my attitude right first thing every morning by spending set aside time with God and committing the day to Him and asking for wisdom and guidance.


After my realization I began to take every thought captive and make each moment count. The first day I saw great results! While my oldest was doing his Math, something that he doesn’t enjoy and often complains about, I decided to sit with him and be available to help and not get frustrated with his questions. He flew through the work and when he asked a question I was calm and helpful. A short time later when I was preparing lunch George came to me and asked if he could help me out. I was blown away as that is a rare comment! He told me that he enjoys being a help to me. I knew right then that my taking the time for him was being reciprocated to me. What a lesson I learned that day and while I continue to struggle with keeping my attitude glorifying to God no matter the circumstance, I know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Remodeling Help?

After a week of fevers for almost all of us I am at a loss for words so will share pictures of the boys “helping” out with our basement remodeling project from a number of weeks back. We put an addition onto our house a few years ago with only the framing being done by an outside contractor and the rest to be completed by my husband, family, and friends. So this has become an endless project and is definitely another thing God is using in my life to help me become more patient.

George is learning how to mud the drywall

which is a welcome help to me (the "resident mudder")

Three of the boys enjoyed dangling between the stairs that were previously blocked.
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