Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Geography - Russia

This year, up until at least our Thanksgiving break, we are studying some of the countries of Asia and Africa.  We started with Russia, since it is both part of Europe (which we studied last year) and Asia.  It has been a pretty good journey, looking at some different aspects.

Some of the activities for the week included:
- finding Russia on our large wall map
- Coloring pictures of the country
- Coloring the flag
- Looking at the Russian alphabets and some common words and phrases in Russian
- Writing our names in Russian

- Learning about babushkas
- Looking at St Basil's Cathedral
- Learning about Faberge Eggs
- Cutting out and decorating paper eggs

- Learning about the North European Plains, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and Vasyugan Swamp
- Learning about ballet
- Mading paper Matryoshka dolls

- Watching the Nutcracker Ballet
- Preparing and eating some YUMMY Russian foods

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First week of school

Our first week of school is complete.  We were hoping that jumping back into a routine would get things to normal in our home.  Well, I guess it was a "normal" week for us.... which translates to abnormal and hectic :)  We were able to get our school work complete, for the most part, but oy! parts of it were stressful, including a couple trips to the doctor for our infant.

Perhaps one of the most favorite activities of the week for the kiddos was a history activity.  We took a look at the Renaissance period.  Our discussion included the fact that many paintings and sculptures of the time period centered around the Bible.  The children, in turn, used water colors to pain their own Bible picture from a coloring book.

Welllll part of the paint got on the paper anyways.

Definitely an outside project!!!

And here is a photo of our oldest, DD9, working hard on her English.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pre-numbered Days

With crocodile tears filling her big brown eyes, and streaming down her face, my four year old choked out "Why did she die, mommy?"  Our family was watching a movie where the wife and mother died from Scarlet Fever. Hugging her close, I told her it was because she was so sick.  "But I was really sick, and I didn't die," she replied, as her body trembled with sobs and grief.  Those words about tore me in two!    It was time to try to explain the purpose of life and death - a concept that many adults struggle to wrap their brains around - or perhaps, more their hearts.

For those that do not know, when this particular daughter was not even two years old, she was extremely sick.  Hospitalized for over two weeks in a children's hospital, we had teams of doctors come in the room each day telling us they were not sure what to do to help her, or if she would leave alive.  A feeding tube had been inserted, trying to stave off malnutrition, due to her not eating or drinking anything.  Catheters were put in, and IV fluids constantly ran to keep her hydrated.  She hardly ever made a peep, even when they drew blood everyday, nor did her eyes ever open.  Her body was burning hot in attempts to fight whatever was invading.  The only thing the doctors could figure out what that she was fighting encephalitis and meningitis, but it wasn't the "normal" viruses or bacteria causing it.  They couldn't do anything for her, except try to make her comfortable... God truly was the only One who could heal her and no one else could take any credit!  And He did!!!  One day, her fevers finally broke, and she wanted milk.  When we brought her home, it was like having a large six month old - she couldn't sit up on her own, and could barely hold a bottle - but now she is doing fabulous, and you would never know any of this happened if you weren't told.

So how do you explain to a 4 yo why she didn't die when she was really sick, yet the mom and wife in the movie did?  I guess we could have told her "it's just a movie."  Or we could have just given her a "pat answer" - she is only four... But generally speaking, we are very open with our children about the truths of life.  This was no exception!

We turned to Scripture.  Psalm 139:13-16.  "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them."

We explained that God knows each child before he or she is ever placed in the mother's womb. Not only that, but He has already predetermined how many days each of us will live.  He has a purpose for each of our lives.  We explained that while the mother's purpose was complete, that our DD4 had not yet completed her purpose... that God still had more work to perform in her and through her.

With this answer, she was satisfied.  She said she was glad God still had work to do in her life and that He made her all better.  So are we!  We look forward to seeing how He works in each of our children's lives!  Praising God for His Spirit working in our daughter's life!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First day of school

School has officially started in our home!  Since the birth of our youngest, we desperately needed to get back to a routine and schedule.  Our children seemed to be lost without it, finding themselves bored or in mischief.  Quite honestly, I too was missing the structure.  Thankfully we are not stuck on a timed routine, though we do have estimates of what time we should be on which subject, but rather just an oder to our day, because the baby is still eating about every other hour!

Overall, today went fairly well.  There are definitely a few kinks we need to work out.  DS6 and DS7 neither read proficiently as of yet, so helping both of them at the same time, while working with DD4 was a little difficult and time consuming.  Thankfully DD4 does not start all of her curriculum until next week, giving us a few days to get accustomed to the new schedule.

My biggest challenge, by far, is DS2.  By the end of last school year, he was getting into more things, and keeping him preoccupied was a challenge.  I had started blanket training him, but quit after awhile, because I could send him and an older sibling or two outside to play while I worked with the others.  Now it is too hot to send him outside, and oh my, do I wish I had followed through!  I may have to start back with blanket training him!  For those wondering, blanket training is when you teach a child to play contentedly on a blanket or mat, rather than running around and getting into things.  The hardest part about the training, is as soon as the child starts to get off, you have to be right there to correct them and tell them to get back on.

The other thing I am thinking might help is getting more "busy bags" made.  I've already posted once prior about the ones we have.  I have begun the process of making some more.  Perhaps if I can get some of those done this week, I'll be able to have DS2 at the table with us, working as diligently as the rest of the children :D

Monday, August 5, 2013

Praying my girls are similar...

Everyone has dreams and desires for they children.  For us, we pray our children will become children of Christ, and fulfill His purpose for their lives.  Of course, we also pray that they get married to someone they love and who loves them in return, for good health, and happiness.  But those latter prayers are just things... nothing about the heart of the child.

Today we caught a glimpse of the type of heart we wish to see in our children as they grow older... a heart of compassion and caring for others... of doing things or offering services, with no expectation of something in return.  This is a rarity in today's society, where self-centeredness and a sense of entitlement is embraced.  Even more so, these tender hearts belonged to two teenage girls!!!  Yes teenagers - the age where most individuals are hitting the climax or quickly climbing the course to self indulgence. Yet these two young ladies went out of their way for our family.

As you guys are aware, our family welcomed our sixth blessing the end of June.  Following her arrival were some complications for myself.  Then, there was a great concern regarding our daughter's weight, to the point where the doctor was wanting us to consider metabolic testing and possibly a sweat test for cystic fibrosis.  To compound the issues, my husband started having further complications with his back resulting in another consultation with the neurosurgeon.  With all this said, life goes on.  Laundry, dishes, dusting, sweeping, mowing, and all the other tasks of everyday life continue.  And of course, thanks to my crazy tenacity, school starts back up tomorrow.  Life is hectic!  And yet, the first young lady offered me a gift of respite and help.  She has offered to come sit with the children, do my dishes, wash, dry, and fold my laundry, clean my house.... here is a teenager offering to give up her summer days to entertain five young children while their momma catches a nap... to clean up after their messes and help in a very real and practical manner, with exacting nothing in return!

The second young lady presented me with a gift for our daughter.  She had taken the time to make an adorable baby afghan.  The size is perfect for laying over her, keeping our sweet girl warm from the air conditioning, yet small enough to not smother her or become a hazard.  This young lady again took time from her summer to make something for a newborn... I can only imagine the time and love that went into its creation.

I'm not sure I ever sat back and took into consideration what the characteristics of our children would look like in the future.  Sure I have considered what I want them to be like now and what morals and values we hope to instill, but I've never taken the time to fast-forward to see what they would look like, lived out in real circumstances. I can honestly say I pray our daughters grow up to be like those two young ladies... with compassionate hearts and using their skills and talents to bless those around them.  I  know with all ceraibty, those two young ladies blessed this tired momma in some very real ways!!!

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

With an abundance of peaches (we picked five bushels) and some fresh blueberries, I looked for an inspiration to make some dessert.  Nothing I was finding seemed quite right for what I was searching for.  Sooooo I decided to create my own version of the dessert - one my gluten free family could enjoy :)  And oh wowsers did it turn out wonderful!  It reminded us of Fall, which would be nice considering we keep hitting crazy high heat indexes and I'm ready for cooler weather. Anyways, here is the recipe - Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan, combine 6-8 cups of peeled and pitten peaches, sliced, 3T honey, 2T lemon juice, and 2T water. Heat until warm and slightly thickened.  Add 1-1.5 C fresh blueberries.  Pour into a 13x9 pan.

In a food processor, process 1/2-1C nuts, 1C quick cooking oatmeal (make sure it is GF if needed), 1C brown sugar, 2T cinnamon, 1T nutmeg, 1t cloves, 1t ginger, 1T vanilla, and 1 stick of butter, until the butter is thoroughly cut into the mixture.  Put on top of the peach mixture.

Bake in oven for an hour.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Peach Picking

Each year, our family picks and preserves seasonal fruits and veggies.  We start with the yummy strawberry season in March or April, and finish with apples in September or October.  We try to pick enough to eat that fruit for the next year, until the harvest is once again ready.  This year has not been much different than normal.  Due to my pregnancy and our youngest's birth, we did miss the blueberry season this year.   Not wanting to miss the peach season, my husband, his parents, and the children went and picked peaches at St. Julien Plantation, while I stayed home with the baby.  What fun they had!!!


DD4 - so excited :)

DS2 - so proud



Pop helping DD4

5 bushels later, I had lots of preserving to do!  We ended up canning 30 or so quarts of canned peaches, around 2 dozen half pints of peach barbecue sauce, about a dozen half pints of lavender peach butter, gallons of frozen peaches and dehydrated peaches, and a delicious dessert of blueberry and peach cobbler (see later post for recipe), not to mention numerous fruits for each of us to enjoy fresh. We should be good on peaches until next summer :)

Since the infant is not in any of the earlier pictures, here is one of her, wearing a loom knitted hat her older brother, DS6, made her :)