Monday, November 24, 2014

Creative Legos

I love it when my kids have time to get creative. The kids have been busy building their own creative ideas with Legos the past couple of weeks, while I've been doing read alouds for school.

 Kolsen made a rainbow.

 Karolyn built a cool garden scene.

 Kaylee made a boat dock with a gas pump. 

And Karolyn built a really cool restaurant!

NO instructions needed!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm thankful for this crazy life!

I'm so thankful for the life God has planned for our family. We had yet another crazy, homeschooling day today and I loved every minute of it and I'd like to share a few of the details with you.

I have to start this story with yesterday's activities. All of my kids did all their school work (even all the extra work they do with me!) and I didn't have anyone in tears. It was a great school day. The girls were all excited about gymnastics on Monday evening, but when we showed up we realized that Fergus most not have had school for the day because there was no gymnastics. I forget that even as a homeschooler I have to keep up with the public school schedule. So, I took my girls back home and they had their own gymnastics class in the living room. Thanks Nana, for all the gymnastics mats! They sure do get used quite often.

On Tuesday, Shawn took the morning off work so he could take Kolsen duck hunting. They didn't end up shooting any ducks, but were able to see a huge flock of Tundra Swans flying off the wetland they were hunting and enjoy some quality time together. I'm thankful we can choose to delay school work for the more important things in life!

The girls and I slept in (until 7:00) and enjoyed snuggling on the couch for a while before eating breakfast. Then we worked on school for a few hours before my friend, who just started homeschooling on Monday, came over with her kids to look at some of my curriculum. I love getting to share my curriculum and books that I'm not currently using with friends.

When Shawn and Kolsen got home from hunting we went to Applebees to use a gift certificate that I had won on Facebook. Shawn left from there and went to do a conference call at work. The kids and I ran by the library to get some books I had requested from other libraries for next week science and social studies. Of course, I forgot to write Kolsen's speech class on the calendar for November so we missed it. I didn't remember about speech class until one of my friend posted a picture on Facebook about her daughter giving her speech. Needless to say, Kolsen wasn't too disappointed. ;)

When we got back home, we finished up the rest of our school work and then Shawn took Kaylee out for an evening duck hunt. She was really excited to have a special trip with daddy. She loved that she got to use his duck call to call in a duck he ended up shooting. She was on cloud nine when she called me on their drive back.

Kolsen and Karolyn spent the afternoon working on a home-made Christmas gift.  Kassidy and I played at least 6 different board games. She's pretty competitive and I'm pretty sure I know where she gets it from.

After supper the kids were all wound up to show Shawn what they've been doing at school. Kaylee just finished a phonics box, Kolsen was starting some new complex math problems, Kassidy had to show off her reading skills and even Karolyn broke out her math book to do a few pages. I'm thankful that all my kids love doing school and are even willing to do school the night before to get things done. Of course during this time, I get a phone call asking if we are coming to Bible study tonight? What??? I was sure this week was going to be cancelled since our friend's husband is in Haiti on a missionary trip with our church, but no we're still having it. We threw on our shoes and headed out the door. Luckily, Kolsen is our best babysitter and is always willing to help out. The kid worked on school for about 45 more minutes and then Karolyn tucked the little girls in bed.

Tomorrow, Kolsen and Shawn will get another chance to go hunting in the morning before he
heads to work after lunch. Snow may be in the forcast, so the girls and I will be hunkering down at home with school work and hot chocolate. I love this crazy life!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hunting, Preserving and Special Guests

 Shawn and Kolsen have been busy hunting whenever they get a chance. The hunting hasn't been as good as it was in Canada so Shawn has been a little disappointed, but I think he's still having fun. If he wasn't doing so many construction projects at work, I'm sure he'd be taking some more time off for hunting.

 I'm still busy preserving the harvest. I'm trying some fermented vegetables so we'll see how that goes. We also went back out to the farm on Sunday had picked up a few last minute items like kale, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, bok choy and brussel sprouts before they closed the farm for the winter. Our freezers are stuffed, so I think I may have to do a little rearranging to get it all in.

 Our good friends let us pick all the apples off their tree, so last week the kids and I took one day and preserved all the apples in apple butter, syrup, jelly, dried apples, pie filling and apple sauce. I really wish we had an apple tree!

 Kaylee and Kolsen completing a science experiment early in the morning on what type of hair is stronger. Kaylee's straight hair held up 36 pennies and Kassidy's curly hair only held up 32 pennies. Did you know that the shape of your hair follicles determines if you hair is curly, wavy or straight? I love learning right along with my kids.

 Baby holding is the favorite activity of the week!

 Karolyn is a little mother and loves on Holdon every chance she gets. If this boy makes a peep, she's on him!

 Kolsen with a rare chance to hold Holden.

 Lincoln is enjoying his time playing with everyone this week. I wish we had been able to watch them last week since our weather was so much nicer, but they are keeping busy indoors. 

Kolsen's K-State pumpkin

 All the kids spent Tuesday morning painting and carving their pumpkins. I always have in my mind what they might do and they have their very OWN ideas that they want to do on their own. The kids all did their whole pumpkins on their own this year. I think the only thing I did was cut Kassidy's top off and cut Lincoln's pumpkin. After pumpkin carving we had a quick lunch of pancakes and the went to Kolsen's speech class.

 A little bit of Nebraska support for Nana and Papa Cook.

Kaylee can get a smile and a giggle out of Holden during any part of the day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Busy Fall Harvest

I haven't blogged about our CSA a whole lot this year, but we have been eating and preserving vegetables like crazy from our CSA and from our new and bigger garden. Fall is always a busy time for us with school, activities and garden produce and this year was no different. 

Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), called Bluebird Gardens is amazing and I love that we get a box of fresh vegetables from our favorite farmer each week for 20 weeks. On top of that we also get to go out to the farm and spend 10 pick tickets and get free produce by the five gallon bucket full. We always use all our tickets and try to make it out the farm whenever they have free produce available. Our family has two extra deep freezers and also an extra fridge in our basement that we load up each summer and fall and I rarely have to go to the grocery store to buy any vegetables all winter long. I love knowing where our food comes from and that our farmer knows and cares about what he is feeding our community!

The kids and I went out and got all this produce a few weekends ago! Some of this went to a friend who wasn't able to pick, so I didn't have to process all of it. I did get all of my half processed and put in the freezer along with some dilled carrots that I canned.

While the kids and I have been busy putting up vegetables, Shawn and some friends from Wisconsin went up to Canada for some duck and goose hunting. They had an amazing time and Shawn brought back quite a bit of meat for us to eat.

 Mmmm....carrots diced, sliced, shredded and eaten raw! We processed 10 gallons of carrots and just picked 10 gallons more when we went out to the farm this past weekend. I've been keeping a bowl full of cut up carrots on the table for the kids to grab when they walk through the kitchen.

 Kaylee, Kolsen, Kassidy and I LOVE dilled carrots and we've been waiting to make more since we ran out last winter.

 One weekly CSA box. All of this has been eaten except some of the squash. I've really got to figure out how to get more squash in our diet plan.

 Kolsen washing up some of the lettuce we picked a few weeks ago. We wash it, put it through the salad spinner, lay it on the counter to dry some and then store it with a few dry paper towels in our downstairs fridge. Last year we had lettuce that was still good a month later.

 The kale and spinach. We ate some of the kale wish garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. The spinach was all chopped up and frozen.

 Our final FREE pick of the season. After rationing out our 10 tickets to last all season, the week after we receive our final CSA box, the farm is open to everyone to come and pick what is left. This was what we thought we could fit into our freezers and process before it goes bad. I couldn't believe how many pumpkins and squash were still left. We've now learned to start walking out of the fields with our buckets only half full because the kids and I are always spotting just one more veggie that we have to pick.

 I love the rainbow of colors and variety we get!

 Our K-State cauliflower. I tried some steamed and it tasted delicious, but it was hard to eat because of the color, so we'll be trying to eat all of this raw.

mmm...carrots. The kids all loved the atomic red carrots!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Youth Waterfowl Day

Shawn and Kolsen had a great time during youth waterfowl day. They had been scouting hunting spots for a few weeks and ended up going to their third choice spot because so many people were out that morning! It's a good thing we has so many places to go hunting around our county. Kolsen shot six ducks, but they couldn't find one, so he came home, grinning from ear to ear with five ducks. I'm pretty sure it'll be pretty hard for Shawn to go hunting this year without a helper or two. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gooseberry Falls State Park

I love Minnesota! Our state is beautiful and has so many amazing places to visit. Our summer was so busy this year that we didn't get out camping until September. We decided to try out a new state park and went to Gooseberry Falls, which is over on the North shore of Lake Superior. It was amazingly beautiful and the kids had a great time. I also love that my parents can remember bringing me here as a child when we made it up North to visit my mom's sister Jerri and her family. I'll definitely have to see if my mom can find some pictures of me at the park.

Getting ready for our private tour of the Gitchi Gummi Trail with one of the park workers. We ended up camping on Sunday night through Tuesday so most of the park and camp ground was empty. The kids loved it when he showed them all the berries they could eat around the park.

On of the views from the trail. Our campground was about a five minute hike from this picture.

Looking out at Lake Superior. The kids loved that you could see WI from the shore on the first day. food.

They had really nice bike trails, but it was pretty hilly so we didn't make it outside of the park.

The kids LOVED that they could crawl all over the rocks and touch the falls.

Holding on to the troops while looking over a cliff.

The kids loved this rock bridge/tunnel!

Karolyn was all over!

We had beautiful weather each day, but it was cool enough to enjoy some hot chocolate each morning.

A beautiful lighthouse that was in the State Park just North of Gooseberry.

We did most of our biking from the campground up to the visitor's center.


They found the loot!

I can't wait until we can go back!