Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Happy Halloween!

We decided not to take the kids trick-or-treating this year. Instead, we had a perfect, low-key Halloween!  We invited over friends, ate too much yummy food, and lots of fun was had by all.  Some of the awesomeness you get to enjoy when you have a Halloween party is sharing more "traditional," homemade treats.  We got to eat homemade caramel apples and homemade apple cider donuts and homemade maple popcorn!  We had hot cider and chili.  It was perfect for a nice celebration as the weather gets colder!
While the adults would have been thrilled with just that, we knew the kids would want to get their hands on some treats, so we set up a "trick or treat trail" on the path that Martin made through the woods.  That beautiful path the boys and I walk each day looked magical in the evening light.  There was a bit of a misty-rain coming down, but that only added to the excitement!  We lit candles and put our Jack-o-lanterns out on the trail, along with buckets and baskets full of treats for the kids to find along their walk.  
I will add more pictures than these if I can get them out of some of the other parents that were there- unfortunately I didn't manage to get many!

Paul Bunyan, Dinosaur, & Ghost 
Abbie was a chicken- her costume kept her nice and warm!

One of the pumpkins on the trail.

You can see one of the many lanterns we had hanging on the trail.  It was so beautiful!


We had a fun time with some friends carving pumpkins at their house, but for our Halloween plans, we needed a few more.  We headed outside on a warm afternoon and made quite a mess last week.  The boys had so much fun- Charlie was allowed to do all of his own carving.  He was so focused and careful.  He made this Mama very proud!

Match with the pumpkin I helped him carve!
Sweet Abbie loves being with her brothers!
Charlie focused on his work!

 The finished results were fantastic!

When they were done, the boys insisted on having a snack- it must have been all that hard work!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The smell of good bread baking....

Earlier this week we made bread in a bread bucket.  For those who don't know, bread buckets were the predecessors to our modern bread machines

All ready for the kids to start filling it up with flour!

This picture shows the "bread hook."

The boys measured and poured the ingredients into the bucket, then we all worked together, turning the handle to knead the bread.  They were thrilled with the experience, and getting to peek in at the dough as it rose was so exciting! The best part, of course, was seeing the finished product, and watching them eat it!  I forgot to take a picture of the bread when it was done, but they boys already asked to do it again, so I will post one as soon as we make more!

The boys working together.

Charlie was able to turn the crank all the way around- he was very proud (and so was his Mama!)

Match is always happy to help!

We put the bucket on the hearth to let the dough rise.
The boys were thrilled when I said we could lift the lid!

“The smell of good bread baking, 

like the sound of lightly flowing water,

is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and 


 -M.F.K. Fisher

A lesson for this Mama

So, a month or so ago, we collected this huge container of acorns.  The boys had so much fun gathering them and playing with them.  We even used some in our Autumn decorations!  However, there is something I didn't know about acorns.  If you have a lot of them, and they just sit around, eventually these little larvae dig their way out of them.  Yes, the grub-like, maggoty-looking Acorn Weevil larvae!   I won't share with you any pictures of our adventures with these fun little creatures.  I was too busy screaming and hurling acorns out the 
back door to take pictures, anyway!

This led to two new projects: learning about the acorn weevils  (if you have 2 minutes to spare, this is a super cool video on the National Geographic site worth checking out!), and then learning how to properly gather, and then store, acorns.  Apparently, the most important step is to bake them.  This keeps them from getting moldy, and "gets rid of" any larvae.  Charlie was pretty sure that because he warned them what was happening, they had all gotten out before we baked them.  So, we baked and polished our acorns.  Then Charlie got to use a hot glue gun to put their hats back on!  
So, for all the crafty mama's looking to use the nuts their little ones have found this Fall to do some of those super neat pinterest crafts ..... BEWARE!  If you don't take the proper precautions, you may have some visitors come in with those cute little acorns!

Out hunting for acorns!

Match found one!

He would tell us, "It needs hat!"

Charlie found a great one!

"Match, that is an oak leaf!"

Our finished project!

My favorite time of day....

We are sticking to our morning routine, but have added one little thing.... sitting by the fire while we wake up!  It is so warm and cozy laying on the couch with babies, books and blankets!

After breakfast, it is time to head outside for our morning walk. 

The kids and I both enjoy this time so much.  
It helps get the energy out before we come in to "do school."  

Love these leaves.  The boys run up and down this part of the trail several times.
They have to crunch as many leaves as they can!

Something just a little bit spooky...

For Halloween, my oldest decided he wanted to be something, "just a little bit spooky."  He decided making a ghost would be the coolest thing- and I agreed.  
So, we had a decision.  Now we needed a costume!  
The simple route meant he could help.  We cut two holes and draped it over him. I also sewed some make-shift sleeves to keep the costume from just falling off as he moved around.  
The fact that it looks like a costume one of the kids from the Peanuts Gang would have worn is no accident.  It took a little convincing to stop at just two holes in the costume.  He wanted to have lots of them so he could tell people, "I had a little trouble with the scissors," like Charlie Brown . 

If you are itching for a preview- here it is:

Happy Spooking!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin, pumpkin big and round. Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground.

As October began, we shifted more heavily into a focus on pumpkins.

We grew pumpkins in our garden this year, and it has been quite the experience.  You see, our pumpkins were magic pumpkins.  They started out as watermelons, but decided they wanted to be pumpkins instead. Perhaps some of my helpers mixed up the garden labels?
Anyway, we took one of those "magical pumpkins" and had some fun!
Charlie and Match found out that our pumpkin weighed exactly three pounds and was seven inches high.  Much to their surprise, it floated when we put it in water!

I used past-tense describing our magic pumpkin, because we unceremoniously hacked it in two!  We counted the seeds, and then we stuck it in the crock-pot!  Our whole family LOVES pumpkin-chocolate-chip waffles.

We are having a lot of fun with some pumpkin stories, and are learning two very fun songs!
Match and Charlie really like this one:

I'm a pumpkin large and round, 
Sitting on the cold, cold ground.
Now it's time to leave this place, 
Take me home and carve a face.
Make some eyes
(clap clap)
and a nose
(clap clap)
and a mouth
(clap clap)
I'm a Jack-O-Lantern now, 
Not a pumpkin on the ground.
Put a candle in for light, 
I will glow throughout the night.

The other song we are learning is the more familiar, "Five Little Pumpkins."  Matthew often comes up to Charlie during the day and asks, "sing pumpkin?"  
For those who aren't familiar, this is the version we are using:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, "oh my it's getting late."
The second one said, "there are witches in the air."
The third one said, "but we don't care!"
The fourth one said, "let's run and run and run."
The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
OOOhh OOOhh went the wind
And out went the lights
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

One of the crafts we made was a sun catcher. Charlie traced a pumpkin onto wax paper, painted it, then we cut it out and taped it on the window.

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Let's not forget those pumpkin waffles.  Matthew has been quite the helper in the kitchen lately.  "Chef Match" helped me whip up some of those waffles in a big freezer-cooking session.  I love how those little moments are so great for their development.  Just think of the motor skills involved in scooping, measuring, cracking eggs, and of course, picking up those mini chocolate chips to taste!

Match, showing me we need two cups of flour.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Leaves and Bears

This week we are reading a few new books surrounding Autumn's themes of leaves and pumpkins.  The boys are enjoying them, but the story of a little bear experiencing the changing seasons became a fast favorite and has found its way into all of our hearts.

Match and Charlie have been collecting so many beautiful leaves and we needed to start using them for projects before the bear from their story thinks he can come in our house to hibernate!  

We tried to make a leaf lantern using a balloon, glue, and leaves.  
I will spare you the photos of that mess!  

We decided to try again, and instead glued leaves on an empty jar... the results were really neat!   

Charlie built a road layout that led to a pumpkin patch.  He used his lantern to light the way for the people on their way to get their pumpkins!  

We also used some of the leaves we found to make an Autumn Garland.   

 We used some hemp twine and tied on acorns and leaves the boys had found! 

It is so neat to find natural ways to bring the season into our home.

A Basket of Books

We have this beautiful picnic basket from the 1940's which is now serving as our book basket.  We are adding in several books each month, mostly stories themed around the time of year.  

September's books were a huge hit with the boys.  Match and Charlie sat and read them several times throughout each day.  Matthew would often take them out and search until he found his brother.  It was so sweet to overhear Charlie reading to his little brother!  

Charlie reading Duck & Goose to Match.

We just made the switch to October's books and the kids are excited for something new.  We may have to keep Duck & Goose in there, however.  It is definitely one of their favorites!

Monday, September 30, 2013

September's Adventures

September began and I realized we needed to incorporate a stricter schedule.  OK, that sounds way too strict.  I hate schedules.  I am a fly-by-the moment kind of person.  However, for the sake of my kids (who definitely are NOT into my flightiness) I have started incorporating more rhythms into our day.  We have started each morning with a hike.  Not far, not long.  Often, no destination in mind.  After breakfast we get dressed.  The grass is still covered in the cold dew that Autumn brings.  Some mornings the boys are quiet and observant.  They walk slowly and stop to look at everything.  Other mornings, they run wildly down the trail.  This morning we were using sticks as flashlights, looking for bears.  Last week we brought baskets out to look for fallen leaves.  It feels magical.

Charlie & Match

 Charlie, above.  Hanging upside down in the hollow log.   Match, right.  He had to get a peek at the camera, too!
We were lucky enough to spot this beautiful web.  The spider was hanging out where we could see it!

Many of our walks take us by "the pond."   It is really a glorified puddle.  Don't tell the kids that, though!

A Great Blue Heron moved into the pond this Summer.  
We got to see some of the Heron's tracks under the water!

One of our many "visitors."

Charlie & Match on the "grass trail."

Abbie getting bundled up for her morning walk!

We have missed one or two days of the morning walk this month, and it made me realize how important this part of our day actually is.  The fun monsters turned mean on the days we didn't walk.
If your mornings feel rushed and there is more chaos going on than you would like to see, go take a walk.
The kids won't mind if you do the breakfast dishes later.  Trust me.