Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oldest Living WW1 Vet

We knew that we were related to the oldest WW1 vet, Frank Buckles. We got to meet him today. I asked him what the secret is to living to 108 years old... he says you just have to have the will to live. Good advice.

Frank and my father are both descended from the same man, who came in the 1700's as a stowaway on a ship to America. There was a reunion for all of the Buckles clan that came from this man and his children. Having grown up a Buckles, it was a wonderful experience. Everyone was very friendly and many were much more knowledgeable than I about the family history. We learned a lot.

We got to drive down Frank W. Buckles highway on the way home. I feel almost famous.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Living History

After the ferry ride from New Jersey and a long drive (on which we tried to get some sleep)

from Delaware to Virginia, we've spent two days living through the pages of history. We went to the actual site of the James Town Colony and then to Colonial Williamsburg. It was the number one thing I wanted to do while on this side of the nation, and I am glad we took the time to see the exhibits and museums. My hope is that my children will better remember and retain what they learned here than reading about it in a book.

The governor's mansion was a favorite for all of us.

Outside the house there were real stage coaches with footmen riding around.

Mr. Right, are you reading this? This is the table I want. Seats 12 and it 250 years old. Perfect for us.

Look at this architecture!

The woodwork is amazing. This never goes out of style. Looking at the old houses was by far my favorite activity.

We got to see how the Jamestown colonists would have blown glass. It's a beautiful art. They have a four year apprenticeship on site, what an interesting, yet hot, trade to learn.

One of the things that I know my husband would have been most interested in if he were here is the archeology of the actual site where James Town sat. They've pulled up all sorts of things out of the ground there. Pottery and guns, tools and other clues to their lives. This is where they found the original well and all of the so called garbage that was thrown in to it when it was closed off. We watched them dig and then went in the building to see some of the things they'd found on display.

This was one of my dad and Macho Man's favorites. The ships are reproductions of the ships that brought the original James Town colonists from England.

Do I need to say anything here?

This was Macho Man's favorite place of all. The Both the Governor's mansion and the magazine in Williamsburg are decorated with all sorts of weapons. This is the entry way, he was in awe.

There are people dressed up all over the park (as well as Jamestown) that act like they are living in the 1700's and can give you information about the time period or architecture. These folks were playing "the bones" and a "penny whistle" it really was beautiful music. The woman asked us where we were from but acted confused when we told her Seattle... Washington wasn't even a territory in the 1700's.

Everyone was wearing these hats in Williamsburg. I wanted to buy Sissy one but she thought she looked ridiculous. I say adorable.

Your traditional baby-in-a-mob-cap picture.

These are the colonial dresses my mom and I would have bought if we'd had an extra $200 in our historical outfit fund.

The historic triangle at Williamsburg is a wonderful, family oriented place to go. It is pricey, but I am sure not as expensive as some place like Disneyland but with far more educational value. The children can see things they've only read about and experience what life was like in the 16 and 1700's. It would be a perfect wrap up field trip for a year of American history for homeschooling!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On The Boardwalk....

Picture of the day: My cute kids at the boardwalk in Atlantic City. I had no idea that the Monopoly game came from actual street names. We saw them. I now believe.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Family Reuning

We went to our family reunion today... here are a few pics:

My daughter with my paternal and only grandmother.

My three boys.

The grand kids, six of mine and three of my sister's.

Aren't they cute?

My brother, sister and I.

This evening we're off to the East coast for our big trip. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Do You Manage Packing For a Trip?

As the years have gone on, getting everything you need in one place to go somewhere has become increasingly difficult. The more children, the more stuff.
How do you keep track of all of it!?

For me, lists are indispensable. Figure out how many outfits you need per child. Think through all of the situations that you'll be in and be sure to include any of the special items you'll need like a dressier outfit or swimsuits. Write it down. I make a list of the items down the left side of the paper and the children's names at the top with boxes to check off when I get their specific item in the suitcase or bag. (To be honest, many times I just pack laundry baskets if we are going camping or on a road trip.)

The liberal use of gallon sized Ziplock bags is highly recommended. Take each outfit: The diaper or underwear, the dress, the onesie, the tights, the hair accessories, everything in the bag. Zip it up and label it with the child's name using a Sharpie marker. This saves headaches and lots of time while you are away from home. No more searching through a suitcase, or worse, multiple suitcases for what you are looking for. Your children will be able to grab their bag with out up turning piles of nicely folded and organized clothes. When they get so big that their clothes don't fit in a gallon bag anymore, do this same thing with plastic grocery bags, just tie at the top but be sure to label or you'll be searching through 20 different Safeway bags!

Have you ever considered taking half of the clothes you need? For our upcoming eight day trip, I've made sure that each person has four outfits packed and we reserved a hotel half way through our vacation that has laundry facilities. A few quarters spent makes your load half as heavy. Don't forget to pack a tall sized kitchen garbage bag in your suitcase for your dirty laundry to go in every day, this will save you from your dirty clothes getting mixed in with the clean stuff.

Food can be a huge expense on any trip. Thinking ahead can save you so much money! For a few weeks prior to your get away date watch for sales and coupons for convenience snack foods. Look for boxes of crackers, cookies, cereal bars, etc. Even if you don't normally buy these things, pick them up for the trip. It will save you the $20 expense of Dad stopping at the convenience store in the middle of the night on a long drive. Another option you might consider is only booking at hotels with free breakfasts. Have everyone fill up before leaving in the mornings. Then, eat some packed snacks or something light from the grocery store at midday. Eat an early dinner out, this makes for only one restaurant meal, saving you so much.

Another food related tip, don't plan on opening a big back of pretzels and everyone grabbing a handful, especially if you have toddlers. Spend a dollar and buy some snack sized Ziplock bags (really, I mean the off brand from the dollar store). I try to pack everything ahead of time in them. It makes it so easy just to hand back as many as you have snackers in the back seat. More in the tummy and less ground in to your carpets.

Activities on long trips can be very inexpensive. Don't be tempted to wait until the last minute and run to Target or Walmart and load up on coloring books and travel games. It adds up fast. If you know you'll be taking a trip (and who doesn't eventually?), keep an eye out at garage sales and discount bins all year for things that you can take with you. "New" books from Goodwill are a big hit with my children. If you have one or two that have a problem with motion sickness, be sure to reserve some books on tape at the library. Chances are you can go on line and look through all they have to offer. A CD player with earphones is all you need to bring. I still have lots of collections on tape (Our Story Hour, Odyssey, Jonathan Park) and have recently invested in a portable battery operated cassette player before they aren't sold anymore (I found one at Radio Shack). With that and a four dollar double earphone jack from Walmart, two children can share a story and batteries.

With a little planning and forethought trips with children can be enjoyable. Try your best to be prepared in most situations. Everyone will have a better time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Do You Manage (Fill In The Blank)?

I am starting a new series and calling it "How Do You Manage...?". I get asked this question a LOT. I bet you do too. So, let's share. I'll show you the way that I've come up with to get everyday tasks done. And, since the camera is back from the edge of death, I'll include pictures too! It's fun to see how others do the same exact things you do at your house. Maybe you can incorporate some of my ideas in to your daily life - or - maybe you can give me a few suggestions!

Here's to mommy support and fellowship,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anti-Mothering Propaganda

Please, do go over to Large Family Mothering and read her latest post. Remember who you are, ladies.

What's It Like To Have Children, You Ask?

I hope that this doesn't come off the wrong way. Anyone reading this needs to realize that children are a gift from God and do more for us than drain our pocketbooks and make a mess. They show us a tiny piece of how He feels for us.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did....

Thinking of Having Kids? Do this 11 step program first!
Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, an d overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive) Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make?
To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons.
How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7
Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap.
The other half, just throw up in the air. You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 10
Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Back From The Dead

Our camera has been ressurected!

The other day it was 90 degrees outside according to the thermometer outside my kitchen window. I put the swimming pool out for the little ones and filled the sensory table with water for the baby to play in on the deck.

Next thing I know, my three-year-old yells in to the kitchen, "Moooommmm! The camera was in the sensory table but, don't worry, I got it out!"

Um? My camera?

Turns out, that yes, it was. My cheapy HP Photosmart would turn on but all you could see was a blurry light. I thought it was done for.

After three days of it drying out on the mantle. I am shocked and so surprised, it works!!! I feel like I just saved $300.00!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Too Much Obama Talk?

Heard in our van today from the back seat:
"Ug! I am six years old and I still don't know how to unbuckle my car seat."

Me -"Well, when Sissy and Macho Man were six, they weren't even in car seats... that was the law back then."

With a long sigh, "That Bush, he was a nice guy."

Responsibility and Your Second Child

Being a mommy to many often has it's struggles. Once you get over one hurdle, it seems there is another because our children and families are always growing and changing. One particular problem I have had for some time is my eldest son. He's my second child and never seems to be satisfied with his lot in life. It seems that he's forever angry or unhappy. Am I encouraging this behavior? Am I making it worse?

The light bulb came on for me recently. I was helping a S.T.A.R.S trainer during a class she held for child care center directors (mostly just handing out papers, etc. so I was able to sit in on the class). Many of these women can't provide much for their employees in the way of raises or prestige, this field is often characterized by their minimum wages and lack of education, hence the mandated STARS training in the first place. Anyway, one thing that the teacher mentioned, I realized that it was just what I can do at home. She said that when you don't have more money to offer an employee, make places for them to move up to within your employee structure. You know, add more prestigious sounding titles and a little more responsibility to the toddler teacher's work load. Call her the "Playground Safety Specialist" and make her responsible for the upkeep of equipment and first aid supplies in all outdoor areas of your center. Have her stand before the rest of the staff and give reports during staff meetings on the state of the playground.

Sound a little manipulative? Sound slightly see through and cheesy? You'd be surprised at how a mediocre employee will rise to the occasion and take a leadership roll, finding dignity and fulfillment in such a position.

So how does that apply to the mommy at home with several children? I've struggled with some time with allowing my eldest daughter to be my right hand girl. She's the one I count on if I need something done. How do you think that my #2 child has responded to that? Many shouts of "She's your favorite!" or "She's spoiled!" have come out in anger. Deep down, he wants to have the honor that his sister receives as the extension of my own arms.

If need be, my daughter is my babysitter. I do pay her when it isn't a necessary leave of absence on my part i.e. an emergency room trip (many people balk at paying your own children but my opinion is that this is far over and above regular chores and "a workman is worthy of his wages" 1 Timothy 5:18)

So I tried a little something. My son has often asked if he'll ever be able to babysit like Sissy. In my mind, I've always thought he was too immature and, quite possibly, never be able to do it. I took a chance, in a controlled situation that is (I haven't totally lost my mind!) After talking with my husband and then Sissy before presenting the idea to Macho Man, I gave it a go. The idea was that he would be in charge of Speed Racer during the time I was away. Sissy would still ultimately be in charge and call the shots in an emergency but he would be responsible to entertain Speed Racer and would receive the cash incentive that Sissy would normally receive for this child. Sissy would still be with the other children.

Because I was still a little hesitant, I dropped back by home in between errands. I was pleasantly surprised to find Macho man playing cars on the floor with his little brother and generally being a WONDERFUL babysitter. All reports were positive, including from the babysittee!

So, here is a little bit of responsibility and prestige for my up and coming big boy. He has risen to the occasion, now more than once. He continues to find value and importance within the family.

My mind reels at the possibilities here. How can I use this idea for child #3? They already have regular chores, and this child is the one who does the recycling and helps his younger brother with the compost chores... how can I add a good title and a little glamor to his job? The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On The Bookshelf

I've been enjoying more time outside. The weather is just perfect, in the seventies and beautiful. I was out weeding yesterday at 2:30 in the afternoon and realized that I won't be able to do that comfortably for much longer, the really warm weather is on it's way. Until then, my plan is to get as much done outside and get my children out for a little fun and lots of exersise. School? Let it simmer on the back burner for this week!

The garden is in full swing. We planted 26 tomato plants, all of my peppers that lived - I think that was only six, 30 strawberries, beans, corn (I will be succession planting this crop, with 4 more squares to go), watermelon, sugar pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber. The peas and all of the different types of lettuce (I have a whole 4x4 box, I hope it won't be too much at once) are doing well. I see a little green in my carrot squares too.

To help everything along and maybe make get some honey in the process, I've gotten my honey bee stuff. Although I REALLY wanted three hives, the older couple that sold me everything took one look at me and said, "Let's see if you can keep this hive alive before you go killing three." These people really speak their mind!

So, with these new projects, I've been doing a lot of reading in the evenings. Thought you'd like to take a little peek at what's on my bookshelf today...

First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith S. Delaplane: This book is easy to read, easy to understand and has pictures. Just what I need. When I went to pick up my bee gear yesterday and the woman that runs the business was talking in bee-eese, this book translates it all for me. I pick up my bee hive and bees on Sunday!

Fruits and Berries for the Home Gardner by Lewis Hill: By far, my all time favorite book for the diy orchardist, and I have many. I don't have all that much fruit in my yard (2 peach, 1 plum, 1 apricot, 1 apple, four blueberries, four raspberries, the 30 strawberries, two tiny baby rhubarbs and one grape vine) but it keeps me hopping. There is lots of information in here. Even with this, I can't figure out what's eating my blueberries. :)

The New Self-Sufficient Gardner by John Seymor: This book is just fun to read, lots of good pictures and tips for gardening year around. It supplies ideas for what you can be doing during each season in your garden, such as composting, what to grow in different seasons, how to build a cold frame, etc.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Afternoon Snack, Fresh Thoughts Style

At our house today, it's just not quite as warm as it should be for this time of year. The skies are threatening rain and we'll be inside for the afternoon. While the little ones have been taking their afternoon snooze, I made these cookies for their afternoon snack. You should try them, they're really good. They are a little spicy but not so much so that the little ones won't be able to eat them, think ginger snap without the snap.

Soft Ginger Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
5 cups flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
additional sugar

Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and molasses. Combine flour and all spices and gradually add to the butter mixture. Roll into balls and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good Deal Alert!

Fred Meyer - Sunday, May 11 through the following Saturday, Tillamook butter 1 lb. is $1.50 - no limit, no coupon. That's better than Costco. Time to stock up!

Albertson's - They have special coupons out for today and tomorrow, they were in the Sunday paper but my store had a stack of them at customer service today... they double your manufacturer's coupon up to $1. Go here to print $1 off coupons for Ritz, Trisket, Planter's BIG Nut Bars and Wheat Thins - they'll be free with the in ad q's, printable q and doubler.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Week In Pictures

Tuesday was the second of Macho Man's pony riding lessons. He's enjoying them so much. His horse is named Wilbur.
Creative Genius came to the lesson with me. But, he would have nothing to do with the ride on the horses that the instructor offered to all of the siblings. He had a much better time climbing the fence during the class. Sweetie Pie was also came along. She was so excited to see the "ducks". Every animal is a duck to her still!

We got some school work done. Macho Man is almost at the end of his math book and I am excited to move him on to the next grade's work!

Here is Sweetie Pie "helping" with the dishes on my kitchen night. I should have named her Sassafras. She thinks she is at least ten years old. I can't convince her otherwise.
My two little sweeties. They are such good friends.

I hit the mother load in the book department this week!!! I'd posted on MOMYS (Mother of Many Young Siblings, go here to sign up for digests) a wanted to buy ad, asking for Sissy's English book for next year. A kind MOMY emailed back that she would GIVE me the book plus a bunch of other A Beka high school books. She shipped me a huge box full. What a blessing that was!
Then, while out on errands Mr. Right and I spied a book sale. I was shocked to see tons of books that I was interested in. Christian biographies, early readers, all of the Saxon math for 4th - pre-Algebra. I was packing box after box. The photo above is one of the boxes. That's what I call fun!

I had a wonderful mother's day. Not only was I served Belgian waffles in bed (made with my new professional waffle iron that I really wanted!), Sissy made me a beautiful gift. You'll have to go over to her blog to see what it is! :)