Sunday, June 10, 2012

Things I Love About Summer

I know, technically it's not summer yet, but it's our summer break, and we're enjoying it so far!  So, here are some things we are loving so far about our unstructured time during our summer break.

Ice cream!  We had Neapolitan ice cream to remind us of the Trinity... we topped them with nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut to make Trinity Sundaes for Trinity Sunday!

Short hair!  Cecilia has a new summer haircut to keep her hair off her neck... she's never had it cut this short before, and she loves it!  I cut off more than I meant to, but I think she's glad about that!  Caroline got a hair cut too, but I took her to Mastercuts at the mall since she's working on growing out her bangs, and I didn't trust myself to  even it out and taper the bangs so they looked decent...

Free time in the out of doors!  They can get dirty, messy, wet... Caroline's digging dirt to make a mud pie, I think, in this shot... she's also wearing dress-up clothes over her regular clothes.  I had to send her inside to take it off because she'd gotten mud on the dress, so I had to wash it.  We have a no dress-up clothes for dirty play policy here.  They have plenty of regular clothes that aren't dressy, so they can get dirty in those!

Fresh basil!  The kids like to pick it and eat it off the plant, or tear it up and put it in a jar of water for "herb stew," as they call it.  

Honeysuckles!  I showed Cecilia how to pick the flower apart to get the drop of honey out... we have lots of these growing beside our carport.

Mud pies!  Here's Caroline with her mud pie, topped with a few blueberries.  This is what childhood should be: the freedom to just play without adult guidance or rules when school is out!  One thing I want to try hard to do is not overschedule my children.  I don't think they need to take a bunch of classes and lessons outside of their schoolwork.  School, ballet, and church activities are plenty for elementary school, in my opinion.  Then they have so much more time to do things like this, to play with siblings and friends, to observe and enjoy nature around them, and the best part: they rarely complain "I'm bored!" because they aren't used to be constantly entertained in structured or contrived activities all the time.  Okay, end of rant. ;)  And I'm thinking on where would be best in our yard for a nice mud pit to enable more of this kind of play...

Fresh tomatoes from the garden!  This year, I bought bigger plants which were apparently already well enough established that we were unable to kill them. ;)  They have at least doubled in size and are giving us lots of nice tomatoes currently!  Hoping this lasts... we've had poor success with gardening in recent years.  These plants were purchased from a local person who raises lots of plants on his property about ten minutes from our house.

We have three varieties of tomatoes: Rutgers is one type, and I can't remember the other two now...

Chris moved the garden boxes to a spot where they get more direct sunlight, and I think this has helped them to do better this year!

Fresh blueberries from the backyard!  Our berry bushes are doing very well, so we're picking about a cup or so of blueberries each day right now.  They'll go into the freezer for future baking and for stirring into yogurt.  I think we'll have some of the fresh ones on our cereal in the morning, mmm!

Food cooked with our home-grown food!  Blueberry muffins and an egg-veggie casserole... with our own eggs from our hens, who aren't laying very well right now.  I had to save eggs for a week to have enough for this!  Maybe the hens are starting to show their age...

Baby birds!  We continue our nature study year round, and this is an example of why.  There are always new things to notice all around our yard!  We think this nest belongs to a sparrow... she flies away so quickly that we haven't gotten a close look at her.  The first egg actually hatched yesterday, so we'll be checking each day to notice the changes!  The nest is in a small bush near our garden.

Watermelon!  What, these don't look like watermelons to you? ;)  The hens enjoy the rinds after we eat the best part!  That reminds me that Lucy seems to know the word "hens" - she looks for them when I say the word.  She also seems to be beginning to understand the words "wave" and "baby," and she knows Caroline, Cecilia, Mommy, and Daddy.

Extra cooking time!  With not doing school comes extra time in which we can bake together (if it's not too hot to turn on the oven, that is!)... the girls wanted to make gingerbread because a girl in a book the read had gingerbread and ate it outside in her secret tunnel, so they did the same.  This had crystallized ginger in it too, mmmm!

Extra project time!  We have more time now to follow the whims of our artsy girls... they wanted rag dolls like Laura and Mary Ingalls had, and Caroline found directions in a book for making dills from old socks.

Here they are with the finished dolls... sock bodies filled with stuffing, button eyes, embroidered mouths, yarn hair.

Cecilia's is named Charlotte if she's pretending to be Laura...

...and Caroline's is named Nettie when she's pretending to be Mary.  Otherwise, the names change.

And another project they have enjoyed: finger-knitting.  Caroline and I learned from a youtube video.  Cecilia learned in one day from watching Caroline and me (though she doesn't always cast off so that it gets tied right at the end and it sometimes unravels as a result).  She made me this bracelet.  She finger knits left-handed, interestingly, although she draws right-handed.

Friday, June 08, 2012

End of School Year Celebration!

We finished the school year in the last full month of May... on our 179th day of school, we had an end of the year gathering with some other homeschooling families!

We started off with frozen yogurt at Jandy's.  Caroline was amazed when I told her she could choose whatever toppings she wanted!  So she got about seven toppings.  Cecilia just went for colored sprinkles.

Then we went to the fountains downtown.  These fountains are incredible... in addition to the huge one you see in the background, there are several smaller ones all around it...

...and then there are three "rivers," which the kids can wade in.

I even took Lucy in one of the very shallow rivers, and she loved it!  No photos of that though, since I couldn't hold onto her in the water while also taking pictures!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Pentecost 2012

We began Pentecost Sunday with a special treat for breakfast: donuts from our newly-opened Daylight Donuts, which is located just a couple minutes from our house (dangerous, no?).  I picked these up the afternoon before and got an assortment of white donuts, since Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday ("whit" meaning white).  The dove is the sign of the Holy Spirit and is white as well, although the original name I believe came from the newly baptized members of the Church who again would dress in their white clothing for Pentecost... not sure what years this was the custom.  We had our red tablecloth out since red is the liturgical color of the day.

I have to brag on my children a little here... they both came up with their own spontaneous and creative projects to celebrate the day!  Caroline began painting a watercolor of the first Pentecost.

Cecilia took a cork and toothpicks and made them into a dove, and then she asked to paint it.

She put three toothpicks on each side spreading out to be wings and three in back to make a tail.  She broke another toothpick and used half for a beak which was then painted yellow.

She asked me to dab eyes on with black paint.

Maybe it's just because I'm her mom, but I thought this was very abstract and creative for a four year old.  I love that it doesn't have to look "perfect" to Cecilia; she just does things the way she wants and is pleased with the results.

Here's our table, all ready for dinner... our apostle cupcakes are on the table waiting for dessert!  For dinner we also had white foods: chicken, potato scones (oh wow, these things are so, so very good!!), and roasted cabbage.  

I didn't dig out our typical dove ornaments this year, but these little guys from Lucy's baptism party made an appearance in Caroline's ballet recital bouquet, which was still on the table.

Our other centerpieces were last year's homemade Pentecost candle (see the yellow doves on it, sort of?) and Cecilia's dove.

Caroline's watercolor painting was hung on the china cabinet.  I love how detailed she was with it... all 12 apostles plus Mary are included, and each has a tongue of fire over the head!

We sand "Happy Birthday" to the Church and lit the candles on the cupcakes: 12 white and one blue to represent the apostles plus Mary.  We did't have enough candles for each apostle to have a tongue of fire, oops.  Then the girls blew them out, symbolic of the rushing wind that was heard when the tongues of fire appeared over the apostles' heads.  Another oops: noticing in the background that we didn't change the priest's vestments to red!

The cupcakes were dark chocolate with a cream cheese frosting.  It was entertaining to hear them deciding to split the blue cupcake since they both wanted Mary.  Ha ha!

And here's our Easter season countdown, all complete!  We didn't do as much Easter season celebrating this year, still having a young baby... but we made sure to end the season on Pentecost with a bang!