Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pictures From The Cook Christmas

We enjoyed a week at my parents house celebrating Christmas this year. We managed to keep busy, despite the cold weather that came through.
The little girls decorated a gingerbread house.
Eating with the cousins at the kids table.
Karolyn helped papa fix all of his bird houses.
Shawn had some friends come down from Wisconsin and they spent a few days hunting.
Everyone enjoyed putting a few pieces in Nana's new puzzle.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

We're Updating Our Music

Kaylee received a record player for Christmas along with all my parent's old records, so we've been busy dancing to Ghostbusters, I'm a Train and Puttin' On The Ritz.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kassidy's Birthday Update

We have three December birthdays in our immediate family. Kaylee's is the 5th, Shawn's is the 20th and Kassidy's is on the 22nd. Add to that the fact that we live 12 hours away from our family makes December a very busy month for our family. We usually try to get back to Kansas to see our family 2-3 times every year. This year we travelled back to Kansas on Kassidy's birthday and were able to have a birthday party with both sets of grandparents and most of the cousins.
All the little party goers!
We celebrated Kassidy and Shawn's birthdays with cake and ice cream and all three of our December birthday people enjoyed opening gifts from KS family.
Kassidy was excited to get a new quilt for her bed. She's been singing the ABCs song all week!
She also loves anything dress-up and fancy!
We also had a healthy rainbow that was a big hit!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Papa's New Toy

The big kids have been tearing it up at Papa Tom's house this week, driving up and down the dry creek and around the field. My brother, Ken and I had a red four wheeler when we were little, but it was a lot smaller than this one. So far, no one been going too crazy fast or doing any jumps.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. We hope God blesses you during this joyous season.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Kassidy

Happy 4th Birthday to my sweet baby girl!
Nothing could be better than spending your birthday with Nana and Papa. She was grinning from ear to ear all day and is excited for her party tomorrow with both sets of grandparents and most of her cousins.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Clean Carpets Make Me Happy

Yep, I love clean carpets!
It is amazing how easily our light, tan carpet gets stained with 4 kids, a husband and dog running through all the time. I usually try to clean them by hand, scrubbing with a vinegar and water mixture, but we were to the point where I thought we needed new carpet or it needed to be cleaned by a carpet cleaner. I love my hubby and he knows how to make me happy, so he went to Home Depot to rent the carpet cleaner for under $20 and we now have beautiful, clean carpet again. I'm so thankful that he's willing to fix the little things for me when I mention them.
I'm also thankful that he has worked at saving money for us to take our dream Hawaii vacation for our 15th year anniversary coming up in August. Our vacations usually involve driving back to Kansas to visit family, so taking a trip just the two of us, to a beautiful destination is going to be amazing. This will only be our 3rd trip without kids in 15 years. We stayed at the WI Dells for a night before we had Kaylee (with a free night stay voucher) and Shawn took me to Door County for our 10 year anniversary before we had Kassidy.

Thank you Shawn for taking care of us!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Snow Fun

The snow has finally arrived (in the past week or so) and the little girls and Lincoln have been out enjoying some of our warmer 20-30 degree weather!
We made our own little snow hill.
It would have been bigger if Kolsen was here, but it was just me scooping the snow.
We even broke out the toboggan that my family used when I was little!
Kassidy was queen of the hill.
All loaded up. I'm sure I could fit at least a couple more kids on that toboggan. I burned a few calories tromping through the front yard with these three.

Shawn even helped the girls make a snowman in the front yard. I got a picture of the creation process, but not of the final product. Some of our neighbors built huge forts, it was the perfect snow!

Cooking With Mommy

You may think that we are done with all of our CSA preserving for the year, but your would be wrong. I'm finally getting around to processing some of our potatoes. I try to use up as many fresh as possible before I start cooking them for the freezer. Well, I'm ready to have my laundry basket back (which if FULL of potatoes) and they are starting to grow softer since we brought them in from the garage. Before we leave for Christmas vacation I'm trying to get some of them in our freezer. Mostly I'm making mashed potatoes and hash browns.
For hash browns, I bake the potatoes for 1 hour at 350 degrees and then cool them overnight in the fridge. The next morning I either use my pampered chef julienne feature or use my food processor to  shred them.  So far we have 4 gallon bags of hashbrowns from one batch.
Kassidy loves to help out by washing potatoes. She loves dragging chairs over to the sink to help out.
Kaylee poking holes for me.
We also made sugar cookies!
mmm...look at all those sugar filled creations!

I think I may need to get my treadmill out after this week!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home Alone?

It's been a while since I've just had one kid at home, but on Wednesday, with the two oldest kids in Kansas with grandparents, Kaylee at 4-H and Lincoln at home with him mom, Kassidy and I enjoyed a few minutes alone playing games. She won at Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and Zingo!
She's fast on the draw with Zingo. You've gotta be watching her or you'll lose your chance to have your pieces.
Yes, that would be my person on the second row and Kassidy about to win. I'm not sure how little kids can always win games of chance, but they do! I'm glad that I took the time to lay on the floor and spend some quality time enjoying my youngest. We're hoping to play some more board games this week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Treats and Santa

I love Christmastime and all the special treats that we can make for the holidays. One of our favorites and easiest to do is the giant pretzel rods.
Kassidy, Kaylee and Lincoln all lined up to dip pretzels.
You're really going to let me do it??? He was so excited!
yummy...look at all those sugary sprinkles!
mmmm... these are good!
We also had the chance to visit our local library who was hosting a special visitor for story time on Saturday.
The girls listening to stories.
Kassidy decided she would rather sit on mommy's lap.
Enjoying a cookie while we check out books.
Finally, Kassidy sat on Santa's lap, which she did so she could get a candy cane. Kaylee wouldn't even get close to him which didn't surprise me at all. :) None of my kids have really been in to Santa, but Kassidy was sure she wanted to hear him read stories.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why homeschool?

180 days in the average school year
7 hours in the average school day (6.7 according to the US government in 2004)
l3 years of school

Homeschooling = 16,380 more hours I get to enjoy spending time with and instructing my kids.

That is A LOT of hours! I'm so thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to make our own educational choices and that I also have a husband who believes in how much of an impact this decision will make in our children's lives.

I am not saying that homeschooling is the only way to educate your children, I'm simply pointing out one of the many benefits.

Jesse Tree Project

At one of the Mom's Night Out for our homeschool group, one of the moms shared her Jesse Tree project with us. It was a beautiful quilted tree with embroidered leaves on it that tell the different Bible stories leading up to the birth of Christ. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was something that I wanted to do with our kids. Of course, starting in mid-November meant that I probably wouldn't get it done for this year, but I managed to finish a few days after we needed to start. It was a big task to complete, but I love how my Jesse tree turned out.
952 squares, 29 embroidered leaves, 29 clothes pins, one appliqued tree and many hours spent quilting the top later I finished.
Each leaf has a picture of a Bible story leading up to the birth of Jesus. One of my friends suggested that I use the baby clothes pins to hold the leaves on so during other seasons I could put up pictures using the pins. I love how it turned out and the little girls are enjoying putting the leaves on the tree each night since the big kids are visiting in Kansas.
This is the devotional book I ordered from Amazon, It has a Bible story, commentary and prayer for each leaf.
A picture of the quilting from the back. I did McTavishing for the background and a sharp meandering on the tree.

A close-up of the back.

I had all the material in my stash, so all I had to buy was the book and baby clothes pins. The book was $6 online and the clothes pins were a few dollars at Fleet Farm. For $8, I created a heirloom and  family tradition that will help us celebrate the real reason for this wonderful season each year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ornaments and Books

Each year I have the kids make ornaments that we give out to our family and friends. This year the kids and I decided to do salt dough ornaments with stamping and spray paint. I'm always happy when I can use my stamps in a craft and the kids love it when I share my "real" stamps with them. The kids had a great time making them and I was really glad that Nana Kristi was here to help.
Nana Kristi helping Kassidy and Kaylee stamp out their ornaments.
The big kids whipped out their ornaments in no time flat!
Yes, I happened to get my picture taken too, thanks Nana.
Kolsen has been busy practicing his Christmas songs for our Kansas trip. Of course anytime there is music, Lincoln is right there in the mix.
Kaylee, Lincoln and Kassidy enjoying story time.
We love our local library.
They let you check out as many books as you want, which is important when you homeschool and have four kids.
They have NO late fee on children's books.
They also have an amazing children's librarian who offers a fantastic story time.
Plus, my husband loves the fact that I have my library card number memorized and not my credit card number.
Kassidy taking her turn to help out Ms. Ariel.
Kolsen helping Lincoln with the parachute.
Kassidy thought the parachute was pretty amazing.
Kaylee and Karolyn got in on the act too. Not the best picture, but the rest were all blurry. The kids all loved taking turns running under the parachute and bouncing balls on top of it.
I don't think you can ever be too old for story time. I started going when Kolsen was a toddler and all of my kids love it when we get to attend. Kolsen and Karolyn usually start off reading a book towards the back, but as the stories start they slowly move up and end up listening and participating.
One of my favorite memories of elementary school was of my teachers reading books out loud to the class, so I do lots of read alouds during our school day. We just finished reading Swiss Family Robinson and watched the movie with Nana Kristi and Papa Tom while they were here. The kids were laughing through most of it and they had a great time comparing the differences between the movie and the book. My oldest two and I all thought the book was WAY better and that's saying something, because I love the movie.