Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mud changes things

I don't know if anyone remember's this...
This is what our yard looked like when we were taking out the pond. A tore up mess. I've had big dreams for this spot, that have changed many, many times. Some because I got a giant dose of reality, some just because I thought up something new. Right now my plan doesn't look anything like it did originally. Mostly because we discovered this. There is a massive drainage issue in the area were the pond was, probably why the previous owners installed a pond in the first place. It became very apparent that putting in more turf was not going to be an option. So goodbye to the whole larger play yard idea I had.
 Imagine this, only greenish brown, that's why we changed our plans. :)
So this is were we are at for now. Still have a long way to go. We added just a little bit to the yard, having it go all the way even with the back deck and then added a slide to the side of the swing set. In order to make this work we put a thick barrier under the pea gravel to keep the mud away.
 I have toyed with the idea of keeping the garden open and just putting shrubs and trees in there for the kids to play in, but for the time being it's a vegetable garden. It seemed like a better use of the land for now. In order for it to be a vegetable garden I had to put up a fence, mostly to keep the chickens out {we let them wander around the yard on the weekends and they LOVE tender fresh shoots} but also to keep little human feet from trampling the plants, and nibbling caterpillar style on everything before it's ready to harvest. :)
 The spot is still really ugly and needs a lot of work, I basically just threw seed down because it was getting late in the season, next year I want the area more defined and I want actual garden beds with rows in-between to walk on. Even though it doesn't look like it, it took a lot of work before I could plant here. The soil {if you could call it that} was mostly clay, really, really nasty stuff. Not something plants like to grow in. So I added soil a little bit at a time as we could afford it, and compost from my compose bin and built it up as best I could. I'm going to do even more before next season. One corner in particular is still way too soggy when it rains to grow anything, except maybe curly willow. So I am going to have to build that side of the yard up quite a bit before I attempt to plant anything there.
 In the beginning of the season the beans started to look super yellow because it was raining so much and the soil still tends to be too wet when it's raining. I started to worry that it was a lost cause. But we got a couple weeks of sun and they really started to take off and they look pretty good now. Big sigh of relief. :)
 There is still a whole lot of gravel that has to be addressed. The prior owners really loved their gravel. I hate it.  It is no fun shoveling gravel, let me tell you! There in the corner are my potatoes in {unused} garbage cans with holes drilled in the sides. Best way ever to grow potatoes. You start towards the bottom with the potato starts and as they grow you slowly add more soil until they reach the top. Then you leave them alone until the end of the season where you end up with a magical can full of potatoes. No shoveling required, you just dump it over and the kids have a treasure hunt. :)
 This is obviously not the backyard, but I had to share because we have baby chick-a-dee's in our nesting box! See up in the corner attached to the fence. I wish I could show you the little chicks, instead of just the nesting box, ha ha! It's so cute to hear them cheeping away in there while I am gardening. The kids get all excited when they see one of the parents flying into the nesting box with a caterpillar or something like that, it their beak. They are some busy parents!
Another picture of the front and my pink hydrangea, love it. We are still patiently waiting for humming birds to discover our feeder. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zip line adventure!

Last weekend Ryder and I got a little crazy and went on a zip line adventure with my brother and his girlfriend. It was most definitely pushing the limit for this girl...

We took an hour long ferry ride over to San Juan Island. It was beautiful in a sort of mystical way because of all the fog.
It also made me a little nervous to be on a boat in such thick fog, at some points you could not see very far ahead and the ferry would start honking it's horn over and over again. I tried not to think to hard on that.
I was just keeping my fingers crossed that the thunder would stay away, other wise after all the hassle of getting over there {not to mention the extremely expensive ferry fare!} the zip line would be cancelled and we would have to reschedule. Thankfully that didn't happen, and the fog cleared up! It ended up being an amazing day.

We got to the island with enough time to wander and then get some lunch before hand. It was so much fun to eat, with out kids, in adult company! That doesn't happen often. :) 

All geared up and ready to go!

The four of us all suited up and ready to zip!
I look like a logger...
Before going on the actually course we did a test run on two short zip lines, which was an embarrassing introduction. I hate people watching me, feeling put on the spot, especially if I'm trying something new. It's the perfectionism. It's a curse. But I survived and managed to follow all the rules and not make a fool of myself. Mission accomplished.

Here's Ryder zipping through the air! He decided to do the splits midair, dare devil indeed! ;)

Here's the view from one of the platforms way up high in the air. This one almost broke me. I had to do some serious talking in my head, You Can Do This, You Can Do This, in order to not freak the funk out!
After that one I felt like a pro...

There's something about conquering fear that can make a person feel a bit giddy.

And speaking of giddy...

This rope bridge made me get those giggles. You know the ones where you are crying and laughing at the same time and trying really hard not to pee your pants. Those giggles. I inherited them from my mother who tends to laugh at the most inappropriate times, and always when she is nervous.. and wow, was I nervous! Hysterical giggles. And I kept it up all the way across. So embarrassing! I knew I was tied on and secure that way, but it didn't matter, I didn't want to fall off and just be dangling there way high up in the air! Every time the bridge just barely moved I would start up my hysterical giggling and tears would be streaming down my face. I was a mess. But it felt amazing to get across to the other side safe and sound. Exhilarating!

I had refused to cross with my husband or my brother, for good reasons. One I knew my brother would think it was hilarious to mess with me, and two because I could be sure what my husband planned to do.  Well it turns out his plan was to run across... with humorous results. My brother's girlfriend and I laughed so hard our stomachs hurt!

This was the point where our tour guides got really quiet. They didn't think it was quite so funny...

Then the tour guide next to me said "well that would be a first, we've never had that happen before." Welcome to my world, tour guide, ha ha!
It was great to see my husband laughing so hard though and just really enjoying himself, his crazy, silly self. I wish I had recorded the whole thing, it was a riot! :)

Then it was all done I was so glad we went! And I couldn't think of better people to go on such an adventure with!

This is a video I took on the very last zip line over a pond. I will apologize in advance for the shakiness, not easy to zip and record, but it does still look pretty cool!


Last Friday we had an amazing thunderstorm here. All day long it rumbled and grumbled... but it was a ways off so we didn't get the full effect. Until after I put the kids to bed. All of a sudden the thunder was booming and lighting was flashing and the rain picked up and you could feel that exciting electricity in the air. I swear it even smells different during a thunder storm. So what's a mom to do in this situation? Get her kids back up of course! ;) Well minus the girl who had already crashed, I got those boys out of bed, had them throw on a raincoat and we headed outside. The lightening and thunder was still about 10-15 seconds apart so I knew it was far enough away and we stayed by the house so we could dash back in if need be. I still remember the exciting thunder storms of my youth. I wanted to share that with them. It wasn't dark yet, so the lightening was not easy to spot, but you could see it if you really kept a look out. The thunder was loud enough to be exciting but not so loud as to be frightening {or thrilling if you are like me...} I've been in thunderstorms that seemed to rock the body with the sound of the thunder, the vibrations were that strong. :) That's my kind of thunderstorm. Yee-haw! ;)

 The sky was amazing! I wish I had a better camera... The colors were surreal!

The kids were all very excited, their Neenee was over and she has a way of making everything fun, so it was really something special. Atty liked it but was sticking to me like glue, as you can tell in this picture. :) He's very brave as long as him mommy is by his side, ha ha!

It didn't last long, but hopefully long enough to be a great memory for them. How often does their mom drag them out of bed to watch a thunderstorm!?! 

{The answer would be never, their 7:30 bedtime is usual set in stone, because no matter how late these kids stay up they still have a  way of waking up by 6 am, or earlier, every single morning... as much as I love them, mommy needs a break.}

fantastic fourth!

Posing at the park for a fourth of July photo shoot, compliments of mommy... :)

Silly kids.

Photo shoot time for mommy too! Every time I see a photo with me and all my kiddos I think, I can't believe they are all mine! What a lucky mom I am! :)

Fourth of July beauty!

These boys see a tree and they just have to try and climb it.   Spike was actually off climbing... you guessed it...  another tree. :)

Spike bouncing on mattresses that were pulled out for just that purpose...  as well as a great place to watch the fire works from.

This brave boy watched the fireworks from his own chair this year and they didn't bother him a bit... in fact by the end of the night he was fast asleep despite the noise and excitement. :)

Watching the smaller fireworks around the fire pit.  It was a bit chilly out.

Watching the big fireworks show across the bay, beautiful night! This picture does not do the moon justice. It was big and put on a show of it's own.

These kids stayed up late! But wow did we have a blast! We had a long drive home, and didn't get there until almost 1 am. Yikes!!! I hate driving at night, but the view at this persons house was pretty amazing and the kids had such a great time that it was well worth it. {Although at this moment I'm dreaming of staying home next year...}

Sleeping fourth of July beauty... she partied so hard she wore herself out. ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Homeschooling overview for 2011-2012

As spring went into summer we finished up most of our schooling for the year. But we are not totally stopping for the summer. I don't want them to forget all the great stuff they learned {and I certain don't want to start all over again at the beginning of the next school year. That can get very frustrating for both parties.  Plus I wanted them to be stronger in some areas that I saw some weakness. So each kid has certain subjects they are focusing on, or reviewing over the summer.  I am over all pleased with the way our first year of homeschooling went. Although there were moments were I cursed the fact that we don't have good public schools around here, and we can't afford a private school. We don't even have charter school options!
 I was very surprised to find that Bubu is my most challenging student. He is the one I want to ship off to another school way too often. He gets overwhelmed so easily in his frustration and melts into these crying fits that really challenge my short fuse. Some days I almost want to start laughing hysterically because it all gets so ridiculous. He makes the same mistakes over and over again {I'm talking to the extreme so that it seems as if he's doing it on purpose, just to see smoke come out my ears} and starts flailing and squirming around and slouching and putting his head on the table... he gets down right obstinate some times. I really hate teaching him in those moments. But, there are still the moments were he gets it, and he get good at it, and he's so cute and proud of himself. The moments were he listens intently as I read and asks amazing questions. Were he gets excited about what is going on. The moments were he asks a question about something and we spend a bunch of time just surfing the web, or looking in our books or brainstorming the answers. The moments were I catch him teaching his brothers how to do something he recently learned. Those are the times that I exhale and feel at peace again with our decision. If I can cling on to more of those moments and less of the other then it is all worth it. Surprisingly to me, Spike has ended up being my most enjoyable student. Such an eager learner! I thought it would be him I would have the power struggles and melt downs with, but not at all so far. In fact he is such an eager learner that I am starting in on the kindergarten reading program with him this summer instead of waiting until he starts kindergarten next year because he's already trying to teach himself to read. I think he could easily catch up with Bubu in reading!
Atticus is basically enthusiastic about learning, but does lack the focus and some of the fine motor skills to be able to keep up with Spike. I don't feel he is too far behind, but I do think it will start to be a struggle next year to keep him at grade level in some subjects. I'm going to have to find a lot of out of the box ways to teach him. I'm mostly worried about handwriting right now, he really had a super hard time controlling his pencil! He's come a long way this year with that, but is still far behind Spike. We have done a lot of pre-printing practice and will do more over the summer.
This really speaks to me! Reminds me were I want my focus to be with my own children.
I think my favorite parts about homeschooling might just have to be how close it allows us to be and how it keeps some of the negative influences at bay. How I can really focus on character building and our family principles. How we can really seize a beautiful day and make the most of it, make our own schedule. Making every day learning fun, and sneaking in learning experiences everywhere I can. :) I really, really, really, like that we don't have to rush in the morning. That my kids can stay in their pj's if they want to, or even just their underwear. ;) I mean does it get much better then that, learning in your underwear! {it's Bubu's favorite} Ha ha! 
Anyway, I am now planning for next year. I feel a bit more prepared as I have seen up close and personal what it's like being the teacher in a homeschool environment. {I knew what it was like to be the home schooled student, and now I know that was the easy part. ;) Although it didn't seem that way at the time!} I have felt very challenged, stretched thin at times, almost broken... but.  I still go on. Because sometimes the right choice {in our family} is the hardest one to make. Good things come to those who wait. Nothing good ever came easy... and on and on and on. :)

I realize this post sounds a bit negative, I'm just being real. I'm sharing the darker stuff. Some times people who homeschool seem to only talk about the good stuff, and I find that annoying. Because you know dang well that they have bad days too! But honestly not all days are bad, not even close. There are little clusters here and there and they vanish just as quickly as they appear for the most part. It's only in the rough spots that I wonder if I'm doing this out of sheer stubbornness or a love of it... I hope it's because of the love.

Monday, July 9, 2012

~Garden tour time~

I'd say it's time for a tour of the front garden. :)

I think of my garden as an ever changing kaleidoscope. From spring, to summer, fall to winter, the color scheme is never the same for long. Keeps things interesting. I'm pleased with the way the garden is developing but it's still a LONG way from the way I want it to look.     
I've been slowly adding  garden art and statues for added depth and interest.
This little garden gnome use to be my grandmas, she painted it. I have three of them and I had them packed away for a while to keep them safe, but I decided I'd rather enjoy them. And hope that they stay safe. :)

Dew drops on Ladies Mantle.

I love this angle of the garden and house. The blue of the house and the blue of the hydrangea, broken up with the red of the posts and front door.

Walkway into the side garden. I had to move my little bird bath over to this area because the tree that it was by before ended up being our cat Max's favorite hiding spot. And he likes hunting birds, sadly. I invested in a collar with a bell, that lasted all of about three days before vanishing... I have a feeling I will be buying many collars with bells in the future...

My patio area is starting to fill in, but not fast enough for me. I'm thinking my impatient self might have to buy some more ground cover to speed up the process. I also need to finish the chairs that I want to put out here so that I can relax in my garden and enjoy the view.

Got some cherries this year, enough for a taste test... yummy! 

Over flowing, a multitudes of color, texture and shape.

Yet another angle of the front garden, daisies!

I love the simple beauty of daisies.

More contrast.

Little Mountain

The kids and I went on a picnic and a hike at Little Mountain the other day. It was nice to get out with them and have some fun, because it had been sort of a rough week. I'm starting to realize that the best remedy when we get in the rut of negative behaviors {mommy and kids} is a good ol' fashion day trip. :) Preferably in fresh air.  There is something about nature that balances this family out.

So we filled up our bellies with some yummy picnic food and then went on a nice easy and enjoyable hike on new trails that we had never explored before.

Of course Spike needed two walking sticks... they all took turns being leader, which helps to keep them motivated. :)

This girl is pretty tough, but there came a point were she felt we all needed a rest whether we knew it or not. She just plunked herself down on the trail.

And talked her brother into joining her, safety in numbers and all. ;)
They rolled around for a while, got nice and dirty and then we journeyed on.

Dappled sunlight is one of my favorite things, brings me instant peace. The way the sunlight filters through the green leaves and lands in happy little puddles all over the place. Or when is shoots through like a spotlight and spreads a warm glow over the star of the forest show. An unsuspecting lily, or a dancing fern.

Of course the boys just had to beat us to the top of the hill. Bubu was so proud of himself for finding the way back for us. :)

There are these amazing look outs at this park that show all of our area, one side is a view of our whole town and the other side is farm land. It's really amazing, we were all in awe. Atty said it was like flying. I'd say he was right. We all took a moment to pick what bird we would be.

My favorite part of being their mom, at this stage, has got to be going on adventures with them. I have always loved a good adventure {a lot more then my husband, ha ha!} and sharing that with my kids is truly a blessing. I'm looking forward to when they are a bit bigger and we can go on some serious hikes and do some back country adventures. One of my long time dreams has been to explore parts of the Lewis and Clark trail. It's been a dream since I was a kid, not even sure why... but I hope to some day share that dream with them. There are so many places I'd like to explore with them really, I hope we get a chance to do some of them before they are grown... time flies by way too quickly!