Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big Girls

We've got two more big girls this summer who love riding the trail-a-bike! I can't believe that my little baby girl (and K-sis) are big enough to ride behind dad on the big girls' bike. She really loves to go FAST! The two girls are taking turns riding in the bike trailer and riding the trail-a-bike on our family bike rides.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Softball and Horses

It's summer again so we are enjoying our Monday evenings down at the softball fields watching Shawn play on one of our churches teams.

 The girls always enjoy playing in the dirt and getting totally filthy!

The little girls and I also had a chance to attend a special event at Red Horse Ranch this week and ride a horse. My wonderful neighbor Cheryl watched the older two kids for me because they were too old for this class. I think the girls had a good time, but it wasn't the same as being at Nana's house with their own horse and donkey.

 The girls colored horse pictures while we waited for everyone to arrive.

 More time playing in the sand/dirt while waiting for our turn to ride the horse.

 K-baby getting her turn!

 K-sis takes her turn around the arena.

They also had the chance to brush and pet another horse while they waited.

We had fun, but it's hard to beat time spent at Nana's House!

I also had my neighbor Cheryl and her mom over for a few hours of card making and I didn't remember to take a single picture. I guess we were too busy having fun. Last week Cheryl's mom Pauline gave us lessons on how to make yummy homemade bread, so this was my week to share something. Cheryl is just getting in to card making and I had to show her all of my fun toys! We had a great time crafting together and I'm hoping we will do it again soon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Preparing For Summer

As we wind down to the end of our "official" school year we have been busy trying to plan out some fun summer activities. It always seems like summer slips by in the blink of an eye or the days drag on with bored kids, so this year we are making some plans to make sure we make the most of our summer. I'm also hoping to get in a lot of art and science stuff which seems to get pushed aside during the school year for some of the less fun stuff.

Last day of official school at the kitchen table. We are going to continue doing a few school things this summer to finish up some books and keep them busy. I love days like this!

To prevent days of bored kids this summer, we've spent some time thinking of things that we want to do. After we made a huge list we've been writing them on some calendars that the kids and I made from blank newsprint (thanks Heather!). Most of the activities are FREE and easy to do, but I figured if I wrote them down the kids would make sure that we completed each days task.

So far we have June and July up on the wall. We have grandparents coming in August so that's going to take a little bit more planning. My parents are taking K-man to KS and Branson, MO after they visit so I'm hoping to do some extra fun, crafty, girly things with my girls. 

 The kids helped lay out the grids, draw lines, wrote the numbers and did the artwork. I think they are all pretty excited for summer to start now!

Here's a list of what we're going to do this summer! What are you going to do to make your summer fun?

Some of the activities cost:
Horse Camp (k-girl)
Swim Lessons (3 big kids)
Baseball (k-man)
Swim at the Pool
But most of the activities we came up with were NO or little cost:
Picnic in the park (I'm sure this will happen more than once)
camp in backyard
homemade watering bottle
feed geese at park
make sidewalk chalk
water balloon fight
start watch (while camping with our bible study group)
fishing (mmmm...yummy fried fish)
make play dough
bike rodeo in our driveway (this is a day the neighbor kids are home)
make crayons
catch bugs at the prairie and make a waterscope
make a tepee in the backyard
make a garden scarecrow
bonfire in the backyard with smores
paint pet rocks
create balloon powered boats
swim at beach (This will be happening LOTS)
fly kites
write secret messages with lemon juice
weave reeds or some type of plants
go for a bike ride
make colored sand
paint with colored sand
magnet kit (we have this from school)
build an indoor fort
make homemade lava lamps
tear drop volcanoes
Frisbee golf
play 4 square
nature scavenger hunt
make melted bead sun catchers
blow up balloons with vinegar and baking soda
paint garden rocks
elephant toothpaste
marathon park tour (spend 15-20 minutes playing at each park in town)
melted perler bead bowls
fizzy sidewalk chalk
pipe cleaner crystals
homemade bouncy balls
mentos geysers
easy craft clay
green energy kit (also from homeschool supplies)
sidewalk paint
Free concerts at the park every Thursday night with a picnic
Library programs each Tuesday and a free  magic show, puppet show and a stuffed animal slumber party.
Free reading tutoring at the library
Chess club every Tuesday at the library

I also made a ring of index cards listing activities that we can do if it is rainy or the weather isn't cooperating. Some of those activities are: make a fort, crete paper maze in the hallway, board games, card games, puzzles and cooking with mom.

Most of these ideas are short and easy to complete! I found lots of ideas on Pinterest (so if you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, you NEED to get on it!). I have most of these activities marked on my Summer Fun board on Pinterest if you need directions.

Other ideas came from books I checked out at my awesome library. Here are some of the books that I found in our home library or at the public library to get ideas! I made copies of some of the activities to keep on hand and other books I plan to check out when we are doing certain activities to work through as many as we can. Can I just say, I LOVE the library!!!

Nature in a Nutshell for Kids by Jean Potter
101 Great Science Experiments  by Neil Ardley
Math for fun Projects by Andrew King
Hands-on Science Graham, John and others
The Kids' Summer Handbook (this one was cool!) by Jane Drake and Ann Love
The Ultimate Bubble Book by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone
Sidewalk Chalk and Other Outdoor Games by Jamie Kyle McGillian
Crazy Eights and other Card Games by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson
Dominoes Games Around the World by Elizabeth Dana Jaffe

Plus, my kids love to cook, so I'm hoping to come up with a whole list of yummy snacks to try with the kids this summer. Homemade icecream, icecream sundays, celery boats, apple butterflies, smores, watermelon, slushies, smoothies.....

I can't wait for summer to start! You should check out your local community for many of the free events that are planned during the summer months. I'm sure we'll be adding lots more activities, but I love that we are starting off with a plan!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some Weekend Fun

Last summer Shawn built the kids a new playset and he had LOTS of help when it came time to stain it this year. It was the perfect project for the kids to help with and boy, oh boy did they have fun!

Waiting for daddy to give out stain.

 K-baby helping daddy out. She thought she was hot stuff!

 K-man helped dad the whole way through to the end!

We're hoping to get a "new" boat this summer sometime. When we have 1,000 lakes in our county you need a boat to play with.  The garage sale, jon boat I bought Shawn a few years ago isn't quite big enough for our growing family. One of our friends from bible study is selling their boat and they let us take it out this weekend for a ride. We all fit! Now Shawn just has to figure out what he wants.

pure joy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Skirts from Pinterest

Let me say, "I LOVE Pinterest!"
Thanks Theresa.

I love that you can look online and find all these wonderful ideas and pictures. I've been wanting to make some skirts from the girls, but I didn't want them to be too "matchy." Pinterest to the rescue! In minutes I founds lots of different free, online tutorials and I had to narrow down my choices. I love how each skirt turned out and if you would like to make these too, just check out my clothing board on Pinterest.

 This skirt turned out cute, but the directions weren't very clear on the tutorial. I ended adding an extra strip on top to make it longer.

 This skirt had a good tutorial, but the example was for a 2/3T skirt so I had to make some size adjustments.

This last skirt was the easiest to make and had the best written tutorial!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend

We celebrated Mother's Day over the whole weekend this year. We didn't do anything crazy (expensive), but we had lots of fun spending time as a family.

 Our newest family photo (thanks to neighbor Chris!)

 Everyone grew this winter and needed new bikes except K-man so this is K-girl's new bike she got on Friday.

 All lined up and ready to go. K-sis got a new to her bike that had been previously used by the older to k-kids. I'm very thankful that my kids are thankful for new things (new or old).


 The kid all helped dad clean the playset so they could stain it this weekend.

 My flowers!

New kids pictures since everyone was clean and dressed for church.

We also went back to Glendalough for another fishing adventure, this time as a whole family. We took Shawn's leaking garage sale boat and his nice kayak. Shawn usually sits in the boat with the kids and I take one at a time to fish on the kayak. We are really hoping to save up enough money for a bigger boat this summer since Shawn's current one doesn't really fit all of us very well.

Everyone waiting for daddy to bait another hook. K-man was baiting hooks to this time and I think that will help. I can bait worms, but I don't really like too and I like to play the "girl" card while fishing. :)

 K-sis caught a pike, but he was too small so we threw him back.


 K-sis and Mommy caught one on the kayak. She spent most of her time playing with the minnows in the boat.

 K-man's fish.

K-baby caught the tiniest fish of the day.

We all had a wonderful time and what better thing could I do for Mother's Day than enjoy a fun outing with my kids! Shawn let me take a nap with K-baby and had everything all packed when I woke up, even dinner. I guess we forgot to comb the girls' hair though. Oh well, real life is messy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Truth

Everyone needs to read this blog post about "Mommy Wars."


What is really important?? KIDS!


We've had quite a few days of rainy or cool weather lately so when Wednesday ended up being beautiful, we decided to plant the garden and complete a little landscaping. The garden soil was still pretty damp from rain so I didn't get any pictures of the kids helping with that part of the project, my fingers were way too muddy.

I did manage to snag a few pictures of our new landscaping that we did at the back of the house. The kids had a lot of fun helping haul 15 bags of dirt and border rock. I've been wanting to do something in the area since we moved in 3 years ago and I'm so happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to see if I can keep everything growing because it is super sunny and hot in this area.

 Our super helpers!

Still helping daddy and it's way past bedtime!

 I wish I had taken a before picture because although this look pretty ordinary, the before was a foot wide patch of dandelions along most of the house. Shawn is happy because he has some natural prairie plants.

 I started a small herb garden and let the kids sprinkle some mixed flower seed packets in the back by the house.

The finished garden.

We planted 4 tomato plants, 1 potato :), 3 brussel sprouts, 3 kale, 3 banana peppers, 3 red peppers, 3 peppers, lettuce, onion, radishes, and lots of green beans. We are hoping that the pepper plants we bought from Natures Garden World will do better than the ones we bought from Home Depot last year if not, this will be our last year for trying peppers. One of my favorite things about our backyard is that it is almost all shaded by huge shade trees, which isn't very good for our garden. Next year I may have to talk Shawn in to doing some landscaping in the front so I can sneak a few edible plants in a sunny bed out front.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Climbing Trees an important skill.

I guess being safe while climbing is important too!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Usually I can say we never win anything, but this past month had been a little crazy around our house.

In April, while I was having a blast at the homeschool conference in the Twin Cities with some of my friends, Shawn was taking care of all the kiddos. Keeping up with four kids is lots of work, so Shawn looked for some ways to ease his time by finding free food cooked by other people. :) I'd do the same thing if I have a chance.

That weekend there happened to be a men's health fair serving free food at the local community arena in town. Shawn took the kids there for dinner and then wondered through the booths signing up for some of the door prizes. Later that evening he got two calls that he had WON some of the door prizes he had entered. First, he received a call that he had won a free, year membership to 24 Fitness which is just down the road from our house about a 1/2 mile. Imagine his surprise when he got a second call telling him that he had also won a share at Bluebird Gardens!!!! A share is $400 and we LOVE Bluebird Gardens so we were very excited about this! I'm not sure how much a gym membership costs, I just know it is more than we are normally willing to pay, so we haven't done it in the past. But WOW, two huge prizes in one day!

This past weekend we went to another free event offered in our community. (no food this time) A bunch of local businesses offered a Bike Rodeo for kids. The kids all had their helmets and bikes checked for safety and then got to ride in an obstacle course. When they completed the course their name was entered in a drawing to win one of four different bikes. I wish you could have seen K-baby's face when they called to let us know she had WON a new bike! She was jumping up and down, grinning from ear to ear and making requests that her new bike be pink.

 K-baby's new, pink Trek bike!

This is a really nice bike. The tag said it was worth $180, which I think is crazy for a little kids bike. Now we had to do some other bike switching because K-sis is now on a bike that is smaller than K-baby. K-girl is also in need of a bigger bike this summer. I'm hoping to find K-girl a new bike at a garage sale this coming weekend and then pass her old bike (k-man's old bike) down the line.

If I believed in the lottery I'd buy a ticket this month, but I think I'll just save my money instead.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fishing With Daddy

On Saturday, Shawn and a buddy from church decided to go fishing and they also took the two oldest k-kids with them. They brought home a whole stringer full of fish and lots of stories so I know they had a successful trip. They drove about 30 minutes to a beautiful state park called Glendalough.


 K-girl, Shawn and K-man getting ready to go fishing.

 K-girl and Steve with one of K-girl's fish.

 K-man caught a big one too!

They also did some fishing along the shoreline.

A whole stringer full of fish! YUMMY!

Next time Trudy (Steve's wife) and I are going to see if we can get them to take all 7 kids with them so we can do something fun too! ;) Or maybe we'll just send them to the park.