Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring is finally making herself known!

The Spring has finally arrived and the damp smell of warming earth is welcomed with each breath. The children are spending their days climbing trees, digging in the dirt, swinging on their new swing and playing with their friends. We are enjoying the beautiful weather and I hope all of you are as well.

On March 20th, in recognition of the official start of Spring, we invited lots of friends (old and new) to help us celebrate and welcome in the new season. At the time, we still had quite a bit of snow, but the sun was shining and it was well above freezing outside! The children made crafts, played outside, did a Spring circle and a dear friend of mine told them a beautiful story with the help of her eldest daughter. I It was a wonderful experience and I am definitely looking forward to getting to know so many other home-schooling families in our community! 

March 25th we found ourselves at the MiSci museum in Schenectady to check out a really neat butterfly exhibit. This is an awesome museum for children. Magnets, sand tables, sound, gravity, wind. So many awesome exhibits that the children can actually TOUCH and experience!

Most of our group went into the "wind tunnel."

Martin has been hard at work building a chicken coop, while the children and I are are doing some fun reading about chickens and eggs. A dear friend of ours recently introduced us to Reg Down's "Tiptoes" series and we are currently reading and loving the "Eggs for Hunting" stories. Charlie is especially fond of the ridiculous dynamics between two of the characters, Pine Cone and Pepper Pot. We read one or two chapters before bed each night, and most evenings Charlie will beg for "just one more chapter." 

Of course, Martin is not just building a coop for the fun of it. 

With all this help, it amazes me he didn't have it done in one day!

This means, in another week or two, we will be getting chickens! We are hatching out some, and have a few being fostered at our friends' farm.

We currently have five chicken eggs, in an incubator, that are due to hatch on Easter morning! The boys are so excited about this- and Charlie has taken a real interest in the whole process. Matthew tells everyone that we have "hard boiled eggs on the counter." We candled the eggs, and barring any major disaster, we will have five baby chicks joining our four ducklings next week. Oh yea, the ducklings. These cuties right here:

We all have fallen in love. They are four Khaki-Campbells and we are really enjoying their silly little ducky dispositions. I assumed because I am the one feeding and watering them, that they would sort of "imprint" on me.. but apparently they think Abbie is their mother. They follow her around outside... as she giggles and squeals with delight!. But if I want the ducks to go somewhere, I now have to try to get my one year old to lead them... easier said than done.

Did you catch that? A one year old. Abbie turned one this past weekend! 

What a beautiful, loving soul this child has. Her smile is absolutely contagious and I see so much joy and light flow from her. She brings such a wonderful presence to our family and we all are so much in love with her. 

Sunday we spent the day outside- playing, working on projects, and getting the garden prepped for some early plantings. The children helped us to spread some peat moss and the resulting mess was just so adorably messy. It took three rounds of hair washing and scrubbing to get them clean!

The rest of the week we will be preparing for Easter, baby chicks, early plantings, and sunshine. I hope you will be finding ways to celebrate and experience this time of new birth, new growth, and new life. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Sunday at Home...

After a busy few days, it was so nice to spend the whole day at home together. The rhythms of home are so calming, and they restore a sense of balance and joy that is simply undeniable. 

Charlie often tells us that Sunday is his favorite day, "because Sunday is pancake day!" 
Today, we mixed that up a bit and had waffles- but no one complained! 

On Sunday mornings, after breakfast, the boys can be heard running and screaming, "Yay! It's time to go to the dump!" They usually go in their pajamas. And rain boots. The whole thing is comical. They don't get out of the car. They just sit there the entire time. But they love their special, "boys only," thing to do with Daddy each week. 

When the boys got home, Martin took all three children upstairs to play while I got some chores done. When I asked them if they wanted a snack, Charlie said, "I have a great surprise." He came downstairs with me and got right to work. My job was to make the popcorn. 

Apparently, we had these bags sitting in the drawer, left over from a party. When everyone came downstairs, Charlie started calling out, "Popcorn! Popcorn for sale!"

In the early afternoon we bundled up and headed outside to tap the rest of our maple trees. All of our taps are set and we are so eager for temperatures to start poking above freezing during the day. 
Charlie and Martin spent a few hours sledding while Matthew and Abbie napped. 
When Match woke up, we bundled up and took a walk, just the two of us. I often lose sight of how sweet the stage Match is at can be. Then, we have a 15 minute walk during which we sing, "You Are My Sunshine" and "Itsy-Bitsy Spider," twenty nine and a half times.
 On the way home, holding hands, he tells me, "I love you mommy. And, mommy loves Matthew." 
My heart melts. 
"Yes, Matthew. Mommy loves you."

We rounded out the day with an early supper and some nice wet-on-wet watercolor painting followed by some painting with leftover acrylic paints. It became a super fun mess of "splashing" on the paint.

"March nodded to Winter, “Goodbye! Goodbye!

Off to your home in the North you must hide.

Oh, have you forgotten, under the snow

The wee seeds are waiting — yes, waiting to grow?

“They are Spring’s little babies, and soon she’ll be here,

Whispering her welcome to each baby dear;

So I’ll tidy the earth; I’ll sweep and I’ll blow,

Getting it cleared for the flowers to grow!”"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

We spent Valentine's Day snuggled at home during a snowstorm!
We did lots of crafts, made Valentines for each other, and read all of our Valentine stories a few more times.

One of the really neat things we made were recycled paper Valentines to send to our friends! We put used paper in the blender with some water and then poured it out onto a screen we had stapled to a wooden frame. After we got most of the water pressed out, we used a rolling pin to make the paper even and smooth. We let it dry out and then made some fun Valentines!

Wet-on-wet watercolor painting.

"I will be your Vawentwine!"

The boys thought this little visitor (who came in on our firewood) was so cute.

I hope everyone else had a really nice Valentine's Day! 

"Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end." -Author Unknown

The Snow Moon

Did you know that February's full moon is known as the Snow Moon? It is because February is typically the month with the most snowfall. Kind of like King Winter's "last hurrah." I am ready for the snow to end, but the children certainly haven't tired of it! They are having so much fun sledding, building forts, and playing in the white fluff. Charlie even convinced Daddy to help him dig a tunnel after this past storm!

I love this shot- so typical of our little man!

 The little ones watching big brother and Daddy work hard at digging!

I went outside to get a picture of the tunnel and I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of them in the window!

We are still keeping warm with stories, hot meals, fires, blankets and more stories! I even tried making a variation of my mother-in-law's cabbage rolls! Martin said they were great, and because he grew up on the best, I guess they came out pretty well.

 Big brother Charlie is now fully reading and more than willing to read books to Matthew. Thank goodness, because Matthew loves, loves, loves to be read to. We wake up and read stories. We have snack, then read stories. We play, then read stories. It is so much fun! 

Here are a few shots of Daddy and Match reading one of the books he chose from the library last week.

We are slowly gearing up for Spring! We ordered our chicks (who are currently being fostered by some awesome friends of ours) and our bees. Martin picked up the equipment and box for our bees on Monday. They will be arriving in late Spring!

 The biggest news around here is that we now have another little walker! Abbie went from cruising to walking a few weeks ago and now is constantly on the go! She is very proud of herself, indeed!

See that chalkboard in the background? Martin just finished that for us! We have been having a lot of (dusty) fun with it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January's Adventures

We have been enjoying the streak of warmer weather, spending lots of time outside during the day. Both boys can be soaking wet, freezing cold and yet enjoy themselves so much they won't come in! We have had several great days of sledding- and at one point our entire family was on the toboggan together! Charlie has gone out to the pond with Martin and is pretty persistent in his desire to learn to ice skate! Matthew is happy to toddle along and notice things in the way only a two year old can. ("Look! SNOW!") 

Our days have been full. There is no better way to describe it. Full of fun, baking, learning, crafting, friends, family, and life:

The cold evenings have been filled with dreaming and planning many projects. Is there nothing better than sitting by the fire giving voice to our hopes for the warmer seasons? 

This year we will be getting chickens! The boys are so excited that we will have our own hens, and I look forward to helping them learn to care for their own little brood! 
Martin is going to take a course on beekeeping and hopefully we will also have some bees joining us, as well!
Martin has big plans for some berry bushes and I am already looking forward to getting my hands into the cool earth when the time comes to plant our garden! 

That said, we are also doing our best to enjoy each moment as it comes. This season has been one filled with beauty and growth for all of us. Charlie has taken off with his reading! If Matthew is persistent enough, he can often coax his big brother into reading him a few stories when this Mama is otherwise occupied. Matthew is busy exploring his world in the most physical, playful way. Everything needs to be touched, examined, touched again. His gruff, physical nature (even at two!) often causes me to forget how sweet and caring his personality is- but the hugs and kisses he gives so freely are an awesome reminder! Abigail is so close to walking, that we are all holding our breath, waiting for the day she just heads across the room! 

We are well on our way back into a routine. It is so wonderful to watch our children thrive in the rhythmic nature of routine. The rhythms of our days cause time to blend into this long, beautiful sequence of life. The snuggles, the stories, the baking, the laundry, the baths, the crying, the singing, the kisses goodnight, the squeals of joy that come when they realize a new day has begun!

This month, we have been enjoying so many wonderful books! The boys received Owl Babies and Good People Everywhere for Christmas. A simplistic beauty is present in both of these books and they draw the children in so completely! These two stories are fast favorites for both Match and Charlie. We are also enjoying lots of other books themed around winter, sledding and snow. 

I hope that everyone reading this is enjoying this beautiful month and finding their own rhythms in the new year.