Sunday, September 30, 2012

Burnett County Duck Camp 2012

Ok, this is my first post ever on our blog or any blog, facebook, or twitter type thing for that matter.  All the other 250 posts have been from my lovely wife.  I made my annual trip to northwest Wisconsin to meet my Wisconsin friends that I used to hunt ducks with during our 6 years there.  They are all just as crazy a waterfowl hunter as I am (yes there are others as crazy as I am).  We hunted many the same locations we have hunted the past five years I've been heading up there.  We all did real well - we got about 50 ducks and a two big geese.

Abby and I with my limit the first day - 3 wood ducks and 3 blue-wing teal.  Abby did really good.
She made some good retrieves.  She found all my birds and many of the other guys' birds that were crippled in thick cover.

One day's hunt.  Andy, myself, Jim, and Jeremy.  The other lab is Sora, Jim's retriever. 

After the Monday morning hunt.

Got a few big geese that day.  Sure had fun.  Thanks to my beautiful wife for watching the kids to give me the time to go hunting.  I love you honey!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Everyone has their new vests and books! Kassidy and Kaylee earned their first patches and were SO excited!

This year at AWANAS, Kassidy is in Cubbies, Karolyn and Kaylee are Sparks and Kolsen is in T&T. Shawn is a leader for the T&T boys and I'm an all around helper and usually sub for those who are gone. I love doing AWANAS because the kids learn so much scripture and have a blast while doing it. It's also hard to find activities where all of us can be involved at the same time as a family and AWANAS provides that opportunity for us.

Here is a quick video, for the grandparents, of the verses the girls said for AWANAS this week. Kassidy always gets lots of help from her siblings, which is good because I'm sure they'll have all her verses memorized too!

Kolsen didn't want to take a break from raking the yard to say his verses, so I'll have to catch him some other time. I wouldn't want to keep him from playing outside!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I am so thankful to God for each day I get to spend with these precious, smiley faces. I know we are not  guaranteed tomorrow and I hope to be grateful and cherish EACH day.

I love these kids!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Let the Hunting Season Begin!

It's Shawn's favorite time of year, duck hunting season! We packed him up and sent him off to Wisconsin for a weekend  of hunting with his boss from Wisconsin and a couple of other friends.

 The kids helped load up lots of pop for everyone to drink and I know Shawn loaded a couple bags of his yummy duck jerky too!

Shawn's van all loaded and ready to go. I'm glad that we own two vehicles that we can all fit in and Shawn can still use for hunting and fishing. Abby wouldn't get out of the van once the doors were open, she knew what was going on and wasn't going to be left behind.

Hopefully, the weather will be crummy (that's the way he likes to hunt), he gets lots of fishing time and time to enjoy visiting with his friends! The kids and I are going to enjoy some shopping in Fargo for winter boots and other winter clothes they need and of course we'll have to load up on some crafting supplies.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Life has been busy

I'm realizing that I never got around to posting more vacation pictures from out trip to KS. Here are a few of my favorite ones.

 We fed ducks, turtles and catfish bread at the Dillon Nature Center.

 We enjoyed the naturescape at Dillon Nature Center a few different times! The kids LOVED getting wet and dirty.

 The huge sandbox at the naturescape was one of their favorite locations.

They all worked together to build a tepee out of sticks.

The weather was perfect for playing at the splash park.

Nana and Papa took all 5 kids to the All Star Sports Center in Wichita and the kids had a blast. They played miniature golf, water bumper boats, laser tag, video games and raced go-carts.
 All the K-kids with Cousin A.

 Papa and Kolsen lucked out and got the fast go-cart and easily won the race against Nana and Kaylee!

 Papa, Cousin A, and Kassidy playing golf. This wasn't the little kids favorite activity, but they still had fun.

All the kids had a blast on the go-karts and would have kept going all day long if they could.
 Kolsen (It was a little bit slow for him,  but you have to be 21 to drive the big go-carts.)


 Kassidy thought she was hot stuff to be able to do the same thing the big kids were doing.

 Cousin A


We also spent a lot of time running around my parent's place in the country.

 The kids love playing tether-ball.

And yet another big sandbox!

We had a blast visiting with everyone and are looking forward to having some visitors up North sometime soon. Our time to leave always comes up way to fast!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

All Cooked Up

Do you remember this photo from last Thursday? We got 18 dozen ears of corn, 24 gallons of tomatoes, a bag of kale and 10 kahlrobi.

On Friday we went back and loaded up on peppers! We picked green, purple and some fancy ones that  were supposed to turn yellow. We weren't the first people out in the field that morning, but at 8:00 we were pretty early.

 A close-up of the peppers!

After 5 days spent in my kitchen, all the produce we accumulated is cooked, frozen or canned! (except the stuff we just got in our box yesterday) I did end up using most of it, but if you came by our house or lived close by you probably got some produce from me. My neighbor is such a good sport because I'm always showing up on her door step and giving her bags of veggies. :) We also shared a bucket of tomatoes and peppers with one of Shawn's co-workers and she made a bunch of salsa too!

This is what I ended up with:

 5 quarts and 17 pints of zesty salsa from the Ball Canning Cookbook. That was a LOT of chopping! I'm chopped all day Saturday, from breakfast to dinner, to get everything ready canning. The only ingredients I ended up buying was fresh cilantro and two bags of onions. All the other ingredients we needed were in our garden or freezer. We had a ton of banana peppers and mucho peppers in our garden this year and we used all of them. I'm definitely planting peppers again next year.

 8 quarts of veggie spaghetti sauce. I added onion, garlic, green pepper, squash, zucchini and kale. I doesn't look like a lot, but when I cook the sauce I reduce the pureed tomatoes down by half in a large pot. This made a huge mess on my stove, walls and even the floor and is the one reason I'm glad that I have a glass top stove.

 3 bags of roasted tomatoes (This recipe came from my friend Gretchen's blog. I have this recipe in my freezer cooking board on Pinterest if you want to check it out. This is probably the easiest way to freeze and use up tomatoes.)  I also had 4 full bags of spaghetti sauce that I got too tired to can so I just froze them.

 5 gallon bags full of corn and potato chowder (another recipe from Gretchen).

 I didn't get a picture of the corn before I loaded it in the freezer, so here is a picture of the corn already loaded in my freezer. All of these bags have 3-4 cups of corn and there's another whole stack in behind the front stack. We ended up with a total of 28 dozen ears of corn that we processed.

Lots of diced and sliced green, purple and yellow peppers. Most of these bags are stuffed full and I can't wait to have some stir fries this winter. I also enjoy adding a handful of diced peppers to just about any meal that we eat. It's so easy when all I have to do is reach in my freezer and everything is already chopped up.

We've been eating the kahlrobi fresh for snacks and at meals. My whole family LOVES kahlrobi. Sadly, I didn't get to the kale in time, so it ended up in the compost pile (no picture needed).

I love taking produce over to my neighbor because she always sends me home with cute knitting projects she made. These beautiful wash clothes almost make me want to do dishes, but probably not for a few days of recovering from my cooking extravaganza. I think I'm getting a pretty good deal on our trading!

I know you think I'm this awesome cook/mom, but I made my kids do school at the table for 3 days while I cooked. Then when I finished cooking yesterday, I took them out to McDonalds for supper so I wouldn't have to cook. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Homeschool 2012

September is finally bringing the start of the "official" homeschool year for us. We did some school throughout the summer, so it's hard to say when we are starting and stopping. We normally try to start in August to get a head start on the year so we can take lots of breaks. This year we had the chance to visit with all the cousins, aunts, uncles and more grandparent time when we normally start school, so we got a late start. We had a blast and were worn out and ready for home by the end of the trip (or maybe that was just me, because my kids were in tears and begging to stay longer.).

We are all pretty excited about starting this new school year and all that we are going to learn together!

 This year's class photo on the first day of school. Kassidy (pre-pre K), Kaylee (kindergarten), Karolyn (2nd grade) and Kolsen (4th grade).

 Kassidy is in what my children fondly call pre-pre K, which means that she sits with us when she wants to (which is most of the time) and does games and fun activities I have all her work loaded in her school drawers (a tall plastic set of drawers I used to keep crafts in). Once you get to four kids I've realized that pushing curriculum on my children at such an early age isn't as important and letting them "play." It's amazing what little ears can pick up just by being in the same room as the older kids.

Kaylee is in Kindergarten this year and so excited to be learning! She has lots of work in her workbox and is slowly easing into knowing how to do all her subjects.

Kaylee's Curriculum:
Devotions: Listen to Karolyn read a story from her Bible
Bible: Bible Study Guide For All Ages
Math: Primer from Math-u-See (She's already 1/2 way through her book because she really wanted to start it this summer)
Phonics: Hooked on Phonics and Explode the Code
Handwriting: Print
My Father's World 1st grade curriculum
Calendar Binder
AWANA verse memorization
Piano Lessons
Dance Class

Karolyn is entering 2nd grade and is finally at the "required reporting age" for the state of MN. I'm always amazed at the leaps and bounds she's taking in her learning.

Her 2nd grade curriculum:
Bible: Bible Study Guide For All Ages (beginner with Kaylee)
Devotions: Read a story to her sister from her Bible
AWANA: practice her verses
Phonics: Explode the Code
LA: First Language Lessons
Math: Math-u-See, finishing Alpha and starting Beta
Spelling: Spelling Workout Book B
Writing: All About Me and some Outlining with Kolsen
Handwriting: Transition to Cursive
Reading: She has a book list from me and lots of books she gets at the library each week. She reads one book off my list and then chooses one of her own.
Read to Sister: She reads at least one book to Kassidy
Guitar Lessons (From dad)
My Father's World: Countries and Cultures covers science and geography for the year.
Art: I Can Do All Things Drawing Book

Kolsen is entering 4th grade this year and that is hard for me to even imagine! This boy loves to read, learn and help out.

Kolsen's 4th Grade Curriculum:
Devotions: Keys for Kids
Bible: 2-3 chapters every day
AWANA: He's in Truth and Training for AWANAS this year and that means A LOT of time spent memorizing verses!
LA: First Language Lessons (we've only got 10 lessons left!)
Grammar: Grammar Lesson Grade 4
Writing: The Institute for Excellence in Writing
Math: Math-u-See: Gamma and then Delta
Spelling: Spelling Workout D
Handwriting: AWANA verses and finishing up our cursive book from last year.
Reading: He also has a list from me that he chooses every other book from.
Rosetta Stone: Spanish
Piano Lessons
My Father's World: Countries and Cultures
Art: I Can Do All Things Drawing Book

I'm sure I've missed some things, but that covers most of the "book" stuff we have on our list for the year. We also do a lot of character training together and life skills. Our three month membership to the YMCA will help make sure we'll be getting plenty of exercise and the kids love helping me with cooking activities in the kitchen, especially those involving sharp knives.

These are the boxes that I keep all the kids book work and checklists in. Each week they pull a checklist from the front file folder and use that to keep track of the work they complete. Each subject has its own file so the kids will know where their stuff is located and I can also find their work if I need to check something. I love using checklists because it keeps the kids on task, we can show daddy our progress, the kids always know what is expected of them, and if we're having a hard day I can tell them to do just 5 things and then they are done.

I've used these crates since Kolsen was 6 and they've held up to quite a bit of usage! I love keeping their books in these crates because we can easily move from the classroom to the kitchen (while I cook lunch) or to the living room for a change of scenery. I've also had the older kids take their stuff to a different room when they need a quite location. Right now Kassidy uses a set of tall, plastic drawers in the classroom which aren't really portable, but they work great for holding all the manipulatives she uses each day.

 Kolsen and Karolyn at their table. Notice their crates on the floor next to them.

Kaylee and Kassidy at their table in their normal homeschool attire.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Organized Sports?

Our kids don't always need organized sports to stay active and have fun because they can be pretty creative if left to their own devices. This fall the older two kids were hoping to do fall soccer, but we chose to travel to KS during the first two weeks of soccer to spend time with our families instead. I know they'll miss soccer this fall, but there's always next year and I know we can always find enough kids in our neighborhood to play a game. My kids wouldn't trade visiting with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for anything in the world.

 Don't you love what they can come up with from supplies they found in the garage?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Girls Can Shoot Too!

I usually post pictures of Shawn and K-man and all the stuff they shoot, but we also have another gun user in our family. K-girl enjoys target shooting with her brother's 22 rifle. While she was at Nana and Papa Papon's house she shot up a milk jug and an extra roof vent that Papa had. (Don't worry it wasn't on the house!) I'm sure she'll be tagging along with Shawn on some of his hunts this fall.

Friday, September 14, 2012

1st Day of Dance Class

K-sis decided she wanted to take dance this fall. She's been counting down the weeks/days/hours/minutes for a while now. 

Dance class was a success, she loved it!