Friday, December 30, 2016

52 lists: my goals for 2017 (week 52)

I didn't participate nearly as much as I wanted to this year with the 52 lists. I got 13 14 out of the 52. I thought it would be great to think about this last one. My goals for 2017. I have already been thinking a lot about what needs to change in all areas of my life, and a new year is the perfect opportunity to start fresh, and make some goals. I always try to be realistic though. Great intentions, and ambitions can wane pretty quickly as life starts taking over again.

So, here are some thoughts for the coming 2017 year...

  • New adventures--I'm not exactly sure what kinds of adventures. I just know that the kids are getting older, and the zoo just isn't cutting it anymore, and it's "boring."
  • Strengthen friendships--I feel like I would like to connect better with old and new friends
  • More books--Both for me and for the kids.
  • More learning--We need a  new fire in our homeschool. I think we've all forgotten a little how fun learning can be. Going to try to re-light that fire this year.
  • Take some adult classes in something I'm interested in--not sure what this will be yet. Maybe some craftsy classes, or art classes at the local art center.
  • Do more puzzles!
  • Spend more time relaxing, and enjoying my family
  • Plant a garden in the spring--I'd really like to make this happen this year because it just hasn't for a few years now
  • I'd like to learn more about home preservation/canning
  • More camping trips--we had so many cancelled camping trips last year. Hoping that isn't the case this year.
  • Figure out something to improve my health/eating lifestyle, and exercise.
That about wraps up my very basic list of hopes and dreams for 2017.  Happy New Year!

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!






With love, Desiree, Michele, April, Aaron, Aric, and Alex!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas PJ race

We started a new tradition last year called the Christmas PJ race. A friend told me about this tradition that they do, even now as their children are adults, and I loved it so much that we are now doing it. We had to adjust a little this year for a Christmas party that required the wearing of PJ's for some, but usually this would happen on Christmas eve, and it would involve all 6 of us.

This year it just involved the 4 kids because we did it at the beginning of the month (instead of Christmas eve), and I didn't have pj's for Dad yet. Here's how it works:

All the PJ's are wrapped in something. I think I did just plain old paper bags last year, but didn't have any this year so I actually wrapped them up in somewhat equal boxes that all take the same difficulty to unwrap and get into.

Put all the wrapped pj's in the middle of the room with labels down, and make sure to mix them up. On the go signal each person has to find their package, unwrap it, get their pj's on, and race back to the room to grab the candy cane with candy in it. The first one to grab it is the winner of the pj race!

There is a designated area for boys and girls to go change that are both equal distance away so no one has to go farther than anybody else. It's exciting and fun for sure.

On your mark....


 Get set...




Alex won the candy cane this year, see it in his hands? These are his new pj's too. He didn't want Christmas theme, and since he was with me when I was shopping, I let him have these Batman ones.


I would usually not let them choose, but I did this year. Just because we had a time crunch to get them before the Christmas party, and they would be wearing them out in public, so I wanted them to have something they wanted to wear.

Aaron chose these awesome pj's, but he was too cool to wear them to the church party. He said all his friends had decided not to wear pj's, so he wasn't either. Boo! Oh well, they were fun anyway.


 I love that Aric picked these. He wasn't sure if they were too "uncool," but he wore them proudly anyway, and he found that no one cared. I'm so thankful for that!


I guess I didn't ever get an individual of April. Hers were just fun Christmas-y pj's that a normal teen girl would wear. Here are all my cuties. I love that they had so much fun with the great pj race this year. I love this new tradition. 


 Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our nature notebook--first day of winter


We ventured out to the great outdoors for a little nature walk on this very chilly first day of winter here in Oregon. I thought this would be a great day to get out this week, but we didn't prepare for the 35 degrees and foggy weather good enough, so we didn't make it too far. The little weather app said the sun would come out and reach 40*, I should have known it wouldn't actually happen that way.

The river was very full and flowing and everything looked cold and bare.

So with no gloves or hats, shorts (on the boys because they insist), we walked a short 15 minute walk. Our focus for this walk was winter berries. We found some holly. So festive! The scientific name for this plant is Aquifoliaceae Ilex.


We found these pretty white berries that almost look like popcorn from a distance called a Snowberry or Symphoricarpos albus.


These boys just wanted to throw sticks in the water. I would have let them, but I was too cold to just stand around. We needed to keep moving!


Alex found this cool log. I told him he couldn't bring it home, and he gave me the sad lip. I decided to let him bring it home since it was actually kind of cool, and now we have a log. We might do some crafting with it.


After our walk we went to the Salem library and did some winter crafts for their first day of winter special event. I don't think we'll get any nature journal pages done for this outing because Christmas is just around the corner, but I am challenging myself and anyone who wants to join me to get out and do more nature exploration. Even just for a simple walk. I haven't been getting out and doing nature studies with the kids, and it seems like it is becoming more challenging to get out as we get busier and busier. So, for 2017 I am hoping to make it more of a point to get out and be in nature more, as a family and for learning. I am hoping this will be the first of many (possibly weekly) posts. Share with me in the comments if you've done anything outdoors this week!

Need some inspiration for where to start outside?
I got the inspiration for a winter berry walk at Handbook of Nature Study blog Winter berries challenge. I am amazed at the wealth of ideas she has over there!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thanksgiving and Birthday celebrations 2016

We had a really great thanksgiving this year, and I haven't posted about it yet. I want to do that before we get too far away. This Thanksgiving was really simple, but it was also special. It was my birthday, and that was fun, but it was just a nice day overall.

We had an impromptu crafting session the night before making cork turkey place holders for the table. I just pulled it all out and the boys came to help me. They each picked a member of the family that was coming to make.


I love that all my boys came to be a part of this, and helped. I love happy unplanned moments like this. 


They turned out pretty cute!


We did a turkey this year. We don't always do a turkey because well, it's just not everybodys favorite meat, but Michele rubbed it and smoked it in the traeger, and it was delicious. He started the night before by rubbing it with seasonings.


 The day before Aric got excited and decided to get all our Thanksgiving decorations out. I hadn't put all of them out because well, I just didn't feel like it. It made me happy to see him excited about it, and it turned out great. He made those toilet paper pilgrims and indians a few years back.


Finally the big day! The turkey looked great, and delicious!


It was very moist and juicy. I will gladly have turkey again cooked this way!


 The table was beautiful this year. It was all white, and so fancy. April loves doing this part, she was mostly in charge of setting the table.


She dug out our nice white plates that we've had since we were married, and looked up how to fold napkin swans. It was so festive. I thought that was such a fun touch. I love how creative she is!


 It was time to eat, so we all gathered around. Trying to figure out where we all would squeeze in was interesting. We had 9 people at our table, and when it is in this configuration we can fit 10, but our dining room is still tiny. We had to get creative with where to put the food for dishing up.


I think this is the most traditional Thanksgiving dinner we've had at our house for a long time. It all was so yummy. We had stove top stuffing (with sausage), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus with bacon bits, turkey, creamed onions, and cranberry coleslaw. 


To help keep the kids busy I found this neat puzzle idea at Almost Unschoolers blog. I can't find the exact post so I didn't link up to that, but I will try to describe what it is. It's this kind of puzzle where you have to draw part of the picture in each square using the grid lines as a guide.


Well, I cut all those squares up, so that the kids could take one and grab a construction paper square and do their best to draw the lines. Oh, and labeled the back of each square so we knew how to put it back together. The boys had to write the number/letter combo on the back of each one they did. They surprisingly enjoyed doing this, but I had to do it myself to get their interest going.


 Then we put it together! It didn't come together very well, but we had fun trying. I think I will make the construction paper squares a little smaller next time.


 Since my birthday was the same day I will just make this a super long post and share that too. Our Thanksgiving dessert consisted of pumpkin cheesecake, sugar cookies, and birthday cake. We had more pies that we could have taken out, but decided this was enough for our small gathering.


Then we opened presents! April gave me this mug that says "You're the Lorelai to my Rory". We are currently in season 2 of Gilmore Girls.


All my loot, minus a kid thing that I got to share with the boys.


That is some amazing writing! I don't think I have ever written that nicely on a cake. My Mother-in-law made this beauty.


That evening April really wanted to go shopping, and there were a few things that we thought it'd be worth braving the crowds for. I also thought it'd be nice to have some Mom/daughter shopping for my birthday with no other kids. It was nice! Even if it was crazy, and rainy. We ended up having quite the adventure on the way when one of my wipers jumped out of place. We tried fixing it, but it didn't want to go back into place. So, we rode home with one windshield wiper in the pouring rain. So thankful the other wiper worked. When we got home hubby was able to fix it in 5 minutes. Of course.


That concludes our fun Thanksgiving day. But, before I go, here is a picture of Alex using the gift that I mentioned wasn't pictured above. It is a kid friendly potters wheel, and there was also a spin art table in it too. It was a bonus gift, so that the boys could be excited about sharing something with me. I thought it was fun too.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Our week: cells, snow, and a concert

Life this week...

I feel like I have a lot to blog about, but then so much happens, and I'm behind again! I haven't even got around to the Thanksgiving post just waiting to go up! But, I feel I'm also way behind on these weekly wrap-up posts too. It's a nice way to wrap-up all the odds and ends of the week that really don't fit into a blog post of their own. Here I am with a wrap-up for this week! Anyway, it was a pretty fun and busy week with (a little) snow, Christmas activities, and school.

School this week...

We are studying human anatomy and physiology as part of our science this school year. Aaron looked a little closer at body systems


Alex learned about the weather this week, and the water cycle. I know he picked it up because we were driving in the van one day after this, and it was pouring outside, and he started telling me about the water cycle as he remembered it. I love it when things stick!


Aric made a "cell" out of candy. I think it really helped him to remember the many parts that have such weird names!


We had to go buy candy for this, and decided to buy a bunch to also use for gingerbread house making.


Here is a picture of said candy. We obviously didn't use all this in his cell. We bought extra for gingerbread houses. We did think about making an edible cake cell also, but didn't get around to it.


Happenings from the week...

We ended up going to Salem library on Saturday just on a whim. It turned out to be a special treat because they had several dogs show up to read to for a special event. I tried to get Alex to read to one, but he just wanted to go around and say hi to them all. I think there were about 5 dogs. Aric finally got brave enough to go read to one. April used to love reading to the dogs, I was surprised my boys were so reluctant.


Earlier in the week we got a light dusting of snow. We don't usually get any snow here except for once or twice a year, so this was a special day. We took a snow day because I knew it wouldn't last long, and it didn't. It was gone by the next day.


We had fun getting all our snow gear out, and we even let the kitten out to enjoy his first snow too. Now he wants out all the time, except when it rains which usually it is.


Places we went and people we saw...

We had several Christmas activities this week. I had a dinner with the Relief Society ladies at church on Tuesday evening. There was an ornament exchange, date night, and the usual violin and cello lessons.

On Saturday we went to the Christmas Storybook Land in Albany. I will probably do a blog post for this, but here is one picture from the beginning of the walk through Storybook land. It was fun to see so many fun fairy tales, and even modern stories depicted for the Christmas season.


On Sunday April had her Winter orchestra concert. It was beautiful, and I was amazed at the talents of these young people. I was also so proud of my daughter, and how far she has come with her violin talent.


Fun stuff from the week...

Aaron has discovered calligraphy. He decided he wants to start writing in calligraphy. It was perfect because I found out this week that the set I ordered as part of his curriculum has finally come in. He didn't know that he was getting a calligraphy set, and was pretty excited to hear that. We still have to go pick it up, but in the mean time he found a set that his Dad had from several years ago, and decided to try it out. I never thought he would get excited about writing, but am so thankful he is.


So, we were wandering around Costco. Ok, we weren't just wandering, we were actually shopping, but came across these boards that you can write on and erase just using pressure. They are called boogie board writing pads. I had seen them around. They were on sale at Costco, and the boys were really excited about them because they have seen a friend from church with one. I decided it was worth it to get one. Then I got to thinking maybe it would inspire them to write more, and they could use it for a scratch pad for math or spelling. So, I got them each one, for school use. It has been fun to see what they have come up with. I can take a picture with a special app on my phone, and it turns it into a black and white picture. Here are some of their creations...






I think some of those could make a fun coloring page if printed up. So fun!

That about wraps up our week! How was yours?

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