Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When You Teach Boys...

Tate was instructed to write a short paragraph describing a trip to the dentist, using exact and colorful verbs.  He began like this...

Keys rattle and click in the lock, and the spiked gates swing open.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, November 26, 2012.

Outside my window...  a beautiful, clear blue COLD morning!  Frost on the roofs and yards.

Hearing...  the dryer tumbling and the washer... oh, my poor washer... the bearings are going out, so when it spins it sounds like a jet preparing for take-off.  Fabulous.

Pondering...  what a whirlwind of a weekend!  We had my family (twelve of us) here for Thanksgiving; then in-laws here on Friday; moved furniture and "deep cleaned" on Saturday (you know what I mean, right?); and then to church, and home, and to a Messiah sing-along, and back to church yesterday.  (And we had burgers at McDonald's on the way home.  Don't judge.  I've done a lot of cooking this weekend!)

How did it pass so quickly?  How is it almost December already!

And - hello! - 29 days until Christmas!

Praying...  for peace in the house.

Thankful...  my freezer is full-to-overflowing, I'm making headway on Christmas shopping (thank you, Amazon), and everyone is healthy.

Wearing...  gray jeans, white T, blue (button-up) shirt, fall cardigan (one more time!), and my happy-feet navy blue Danskos.

Creating...  I have scale drawings of the rooms in the house and little paper cut-outs of furniture, also to scale.  (I like to move the furniture around, but I also like to see if something will work before the minions and I get to the heavy lifting.)  So, I had it all out as I was playing around with the living room and dining room and deciding where the tree will go this year.  (We like big trees!)

Anyway, Gunnar decided he wants to move the furniture in their bedroom.  Theoretically I'm fine with this, but realistically there are some constraints.  I don't like to block the windows (light! we need more light!) with big pieces of furniture.  Also, one end of their bedroom is under the eaves and has a sloping roof on two sides (kind of tricky with bunk beds).  I had pretty much found a floor-plan that worked and stuck with it.  For years.

But Gunnar, (a boy after my own heart) wanted to shake things up.  And he came up with a great plan. I would never have thought of doing it that way, but it could totally work great, and gives each boy his own area/corner in their large, shared bedroom.  Who knew?

We haven't done the actual moving yet.  I'll get before and afters. ;D

Going...  to jump back into the swing of homeschooling, after taking a week off for Thanksgiving and Tate being gone the week before that, heading up to WWU to have an earmold impression done (getting Tate a new HA in January), and then off to Messiah rehearsal tonight.

Looking forward to...  being done with Christmas shopping, decorating the house (!), getting a tree (still too soon to cut a live one), and sleep.

In the kitchen...  have to leave earlier than usual for rehearsal, so Kerry and the other boys are having... leftovers!  We've been eating turkey for four days, so I thawed out some potato soup, and there's the Chi-getti.  I made spaghetti on Saturday, with Tate's venison, and added some leftover chili to make it go further.  Voila!  Chi-getti.  They loved it.

In the learning rooms...  good grief, I've practically forgotten what to do!  What are the boys doing this week?  Wyatt is reading Night (Elie Wiesel), along with studying Charles the Great.  Tate is working with percents, and comparing archaeology, paleontology, and geology as they contribute to the study of history.  Gunnar is writing a book report (and giving an oral report), and we're reading about SE Asia.  Very timely, as we've been visiting with a friend recently back from Myanmar.

Around the house...  it's BARE.  Very, very BARE.  I put all the fall things away, blitzed with the minions, and just left it that way.  But I did have Kerry and the boys bring in the Christmas totes, so I'm ready ;D

The Mother Load...  okay, running shoes on.  Ready, set, go!  It's that kind of week...

Monday - homeschool, earmold impression, homeschool more, squeeze in lunch, head to rehearsal.
Tuesday - homeschool (x3), boys to CAP.
Wednesday - homeschool (duh), boys to youthgroup, me to extra rehearsal.
Thursday - homeschool, breath in and out.
Friday - ummmmm, decorating???

And then - BAM - it's the weekend again.

Actually, I have a list with sixteen things on it, not including normal things (like homeschooling and laundry) but it's too boring to mention.  *sigh*

Noticing that...  there is a tooth on my desk.  Gunnar's.  He pulled it out on Saturday.  What am I supposed to do with it?

Something to remember for later...  Gunnar has style ;D  (see "creating", above)

A favorite quote for today...  attributed to Frederick the Great,
Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl.
(That's for the boys.)

One of my favorite things...  driving to church last night through patches of ground fog, as evening turned to twilight, and everything went from light blue, to deep blue, to darkness, with the fresh snow on Mt. Baker glowing in the moonlight.

A Bible verse...  2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

A peek into my world...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful... Take Two

I am a genius.


We hosted Thanksgiving again this year, which I love to do by the way,
and I completely forgot to take a single picture.  

Not one.

We had twelve for dinner and two more for dessert, and Not One Picture.

I could cheat and show you last year's ;D

The boys, peeling potatoes...

All of us crowded around two tables...

... it's kind of the same ;D
But not quite.

What I did get is this random assortment.

Draining the potatoes, and the window steaming up.  Modern windows are so much better insulated than they were when I was younger.  I seem to remember windows - especially in the kitchen - being perpetually steamy.  Was it like that for you?  Somehow a steamy window seems homey.  Or maybe I'm just weird.  (Don't answer that.)

I made all the potatoes the day before.  Two large casserole dishes of mashed potatoes.  Two small casseroles of Nana's (traditional) sweet potatoes, made with maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar.  And marshmallows toasted on top.  Because it's important to eat your vegetables, you know.  And another casserole of these sweet potatoes.  Yum.

I asked the boys to sweep the floor because I had been putting off mopping and waxing until right before company was coming (crazy?) and they did.  But they're boys, you know?  So I swept again.


Then I mopped... better.

But this is what a happy floor looks like :D

I set the table the day before.

I know, I know, you're thinking, She set the table?  She forgot a few things...

Yah, about that.  We serve our Thanksgiving buffet-style, so the plates are in the kitchen, and the glasses/goblets are at the drink station.  Do you put all the food on the table?  Does it fit?  Last year we put four more people around these tables, and I don't think the food would have fit!

Also, we ask the blessing before we fill our plates, because I like for people to be able to eat their food while it's still hot (rather than waiting for the whole group and the hostess to fill plates and sit down).  Major breach of etiquette?  Or good, practical solution?  It works for us :D

I like my Chinese lanterns :D  And I cover nearly every surface with pictures.  Because I'm thankful for what's on the table (turkey!), but I'm even more thankful for what's on the chairs.

And guess what we woke up to, Thanksgiving morning?

No snow at our house, but it wasn't far above us.

Only one tree in the yard is still clinging to a few fall leaves.

And then.... everybody came, and I had all three racks in my oven full of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, and there was a general joyful hubbub for the next few hours, and...

... voila, photographic amnesia.  No pictures of anyone or anything.

Veni.  Vidi.  Comedi.  Vici.
(I came.  I ate.  I conquered.)

When do you have your Thanksgiving dinner?  We eat around one.  That way, we can let it settle, eat dessert mid-afternoon, and then put out the leftovers again in the evening.

All amid incessant talking and occasional craft projects.

Which I don't have to show you, because, yah.  I meant to take photos, but, oh look a squirrel!

And now, can you believe it?  We're in the Christmas countdown.

I didn't leave the house today.  The whole Black-Friday-Shopping-Maul experience isn't for me.  

I did send Kerry and the boys out on a brief errand to K-Marche to get new CAP dress shoes for FIFTEEN DOLLARS A PAIR.  Sure they may not be the most well-made shoes in the world, but I bet they're the best shoes fifteen dollars can buy, and they only wear them about three hours a month.  And, you know, there wasn't exactly a line of crazed shoppers beating a path to the men's dress shoes.

I'm going to get up bright and early tomorrow and put all my fall things away and clean the house.  Doesn't that sound like a fun time?

I'll probably make the boys help me, because it goes so much faster that way.

And it's important training for when they have a home of their own some day ;D

But tonight?

They're watching a movie.  Spiderman.
You might say that I'm not particularly interested, and we'll leave it at that.

And I'm going to enjoy one more night of my my pumpkin spice candles...

... and my warm, sparkly fall decorations...

... and maybe a glass of Choco-vine, for one more night.

And just maybe listen to some Christmas music ;D

Catching Up... The Hunt, and Great Wolf Lodge :D

 While Tate and Grandpa trekked to Wyoming to hunt white-tail deer...

... they managed to be extras in a hunting show, being filmed at the lodge...

... and to do some sight-seeing.  No pictures of Little Bighorn (Custer's Last Stand), but I bet you'll recognize this place...

... if you're not from the US and you haven't seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this is Devil's Tower, a national park about five minutes from their hunting lodge.

(And, for a bonus - a kind of creepy bit of trivia - did you know that rattlesnakes climb that tower and live on the top of it?  Yikes!)

Meanwhile, Grandma and Grandpa wanted to do something special for Wyatt and Gunnar, to keep things fair(-ish) and Grandma cooked up a surprise.  I sent Wyatt off to school, let Gunnar go melt his brain play video games, while I stealthily packed their bags.  Grandma came to get Gunnar and me to run an errand with her and we picked up Wyatt from school, when she handed them each a sheet of pictures she'd gotten off the internet.  They're getting the picture, wink wink nudge nudge.

And four hours later, we were here...

... and they were doing this...

You can't see everything in this photo, but there's a large wave pool on the left, an activity pool in the back, pools and splash areas for really little kids out of the photo to the right, a big splashy play structure in the middle with a couple of medium-size waterslides, and the four BIG waterslides in the back.

The huge bucket above, dumped 1000 gallons of water about every five minutes.  Amazing.

The boys loved the wave pool, and spent a lot of time there :D

But the real attraction is the slides, four of them.  Two one-or-two person slides take off from the lower landing, and oh my goodness they are fast, twisty-turny fun.  But the big, four-at-a-time slides go from way, way up there.  (Hence, the elevator lifting the big tubes to the top.)

Of course, they jumped right in and went down the "big blue tube".


... and Gunnar...

They they went for the Big Kahuna, the Howlin' Tornado.  If you've ever driven by on the freeway ((I-5, heading south, near Chehalis), you might have seen this from a distance.

I've seen it lots of times, and let me tell you - I seriously underestimated its size.  The website claims that the funnel (you see the big circle) is 65 feet tall. Yah.  That yellow and red tube is a good 8-10 feet in diameter, and that drop into the funnel... well, it feels like a free-fall.  The fence in the foreground is about 6 feet tall, for reference.  Oh my gracious, it was crazy!  You feel like you're going a million miles an hour!  And you slosh around, up and down the sides of the funnel, before settling into the tube that takes you out to the pool.  And let me also tell you that two growing boys along with mom and grandma have some serious momentum!  Because, I really, really must tell you that Grandma Grasshopper and I also went on every single waterslide at least once.  Because we rock.

It looks like this at night... wheeeeeee.  (From their website.)

 Just for perspective (also from their website) here's a picture inside the funnel.  And remember, that exit tube is 8-10 feet tall.  Yah.

You could say they had a good time :D

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Give Thanks!

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known among the nations what he has done.
1 Chronicles 16:8

Thanksgiving is not a holiday - it's a holy way of life.  It is a new perspective that guards us from greed and self-centeredness, that tenderizes our hearts and renews our minds.     - Penelope Stokes

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given.  One or the other becomes a habit of life.     - Elisabeth Elliott

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Psalm 100:4

But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:57

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh Canada...

We've had so much going on lately - so many fun things - that I've fallen behind in posting them.  Like many of you, I use the blog to keep a record for us, since I've all but given up on scrapbooking.  (Maybe when I'm done homeschooling I can catch up???)

I had no idea when I started blogging that I would make so many friends.  Some I know only through blogs and email, but a few I've had the privilege to meet in person.  And a couple of weeks ago we joyfully added to that number :D

Probably my most geographically distant bloggy buddy is Felicity, who writes from Pretoria, South Africa.  Much too far for either of us to hop in the car and meet for an afternoon, but when her family decided to visit Canada our chance had come!

While they had to fly halfway round the world, we just jumped in the car and hopped across the border.

The main crossing (from our I-5 to Canada's Highway 99) is commonly called Peace Arch crossing, and is right along the waterfront.  And look!  No lines!  How did we get so lucky?

Getting into Canada is no problem.  Though the border guard did get a bit concerned when Kerry forgot how many people are in his family.  (Huh?)

And here we are in Canada, where we are mildly amused at all the metric signs informing us that the speed limit is ONE-HUNDRED!  Go, Daddy, go ;D

From the border it's just a hop, skip, and a jump up to Vancouver.  And a bit of over-the-river...

... and under the river.  But no ships passing over us just then.

And, ta-daaa!  Lunch at a fish and chips shop with Felicity, Malcolm and a mixed bag of kids :D

Our three are at the back end, and her lovely six are nearer the camera.  The boys immediately found lots to talk about, chiefly hunting I think.  Her oldest joined the adult conversation, while her two youngest graciously managed jet lag and (probably) significant discombobulation, as they had only arrived the day before and their bodies were telling them it was midnight, rather than lunch time.

Due to Tate's imminent departure (Wyoming hunting trip) we only had an afternoon to spend with them, so we chose something close to their hotel and - hopefully - interesting to all the kids, and toured the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

If you're in the Richmond/Steveston area (just south of Vancouver) and looking for a family-friendly activity, this is a very hands-on experience.  First, we all punched our time cards, then entered the cannery for a guided tour.

If you don't know which way to go, just follow the fish :D

Though it's very politically incorrect, this "Iron Chink" was the mainstay of fish canneries for decades.  Kerry even ran one in an Alaska cannery in his college years.  (It rapidly guts the fish.)  Our guide was careful to refer to it as an "Iron Butcher".  Most of the early cannery workers were Asian and/or native people, hence the (outdated) name.

The cannery, naturally, is built right on and over the water and the cold just seeps up right through the floor.  Quite an initiation for our warm-climate friends!  But they were all real troopers :D

The kids got to throw fish with a "peugh" (pronounced "pew")...

... find what they would be worth if they were fish...

... experience the sliming table...

... and get an idea for how dangerous it was to work in a cannery.  Without any of the modern safety regulations, all manner of blades and belts were exposed, and it was very easy to lose a finger.

This may have been the boys' favorite part of the tour ;D

Children as young as eight worked in the can loft, feeding two cans per second onto the machines.

All too soon we needed head south to get Tate packed up, and our friends were getting cold and probably tired.  It gets dark so early this time of year that it seems late, anyway.

I grabbed Kerry's camera and got a picture of him with his new friends...

... but too bad his pic of the boys, horsing around, didn't quite come clear.

Wish we could have spent more time with our friends, but we'll hang on to the fun memories and hope to see them again someday :D