Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Daddy

Who was born on October 29, 1974?
Who do we love so stinkin' much?
Who tells us stories before bed every night?
Who wrestles and plays "Hammy and Sammy the Shark get away from their keeper" every night after dinner with us?
Our Daddy--that's who! Happy Birthday Daddy. We really love you. Can't wait until you get home from work tonight. And we REALLY can't wait until Saturday so that we can share your birthday cake with you : ) The best part of having a birthday, as far as the two of us are concerned!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leaf Projects

We've been busy working on some leaf crafts around here the past few weeks. Just in case you have any leaves left...or any more tolerance for leaves, here are some ideas : )
The first activity was to take a leaf walk. In Snoqualmie we would have walked around the downtown area and local parks to gather leaves. Here we aren't close enough to town to do that without driving. But we do have a brilliant collection of leaves in the yard. So, we took a leaf walk together all around the yard and collected our leaves.

The next day we did a simple sorting activity. All the leaves were dumped into a pile on the table and we talked about different sorting attributes (size, shape, color, etc.). Ezra chose to sort by color first and next by shape. This is the simplest of activities and takes minimal effort.

Next we did some leaf rubbings. Of course, their favorite part of this project was peeling the crayons. They had trouble only using the side of the crayons to rub the paper with--always wanting to use the pointed end of the crayon...someday this will work better.
The ones that turned out would make cute cards...if I can ever get around to it.

Leaf stamping was what we moved onto the following week.

For leaf stamping you need supple leaves--not crisp or crunchy. We had to go gather some new leaves for this project. Often, still green leaves work the best. Turn the leaf over to the venous side and apply a heavy layer of paint in fall colors. I didn't put enough paint on my leaf and so only parts of the leaf showed up. After you've applied all the paint, turn your leaf over carefully and press down on your choice of paper. It worked best to put a paper towel over the top of the leaf and then vigorously rub on the whole leaf.

This is what the back of Ezra's leaf looked like--he was the only one to put on enough paint--it looked like too much, but turned out to be just right.
And this is the finished product. Again, cute for a fall greeting card.

This last project is not one that I've done with the kids in the past. My first year teaching I told my students how I had walked down the aisle on a path of leaves on my wedding day. They gathered me scads of leaves and brought them to class every morning for weeks after that. Hard put for what to do besides leaf stamping, I decided to use the leaves for a bulletin board aid. An incredibly artistic and energetic parent volunteer drew and cut out the most intricate brown butcher paper tree you've ever seen (life size). We stapled it to the wall and glued real live leaves all over it and on the ground around it.
I thought that my own kids and I could do a mini-version of this project together.
You'll need more materials for this project.
Gather up:
a roll of brown craft paper OR packaging paper OR plain brown wrapping paper. I used to buy the "kids craft paper" at Michael's. Last time I was there I realized that the UPS or FED EX packaging paper is the same exact thing, only cheaper.
a pencil
a permanant marker
tempera paints
Elmer's glue
real leaves from the yard OR cut out leaves from construction paper

First, cut out a length of craft paper.
Next, draw a tree with many branches with pencil

Then have the kids paint the tree and any other background you want--sun, clouds, rain, etc.
Let the paint dry for as long as it takes

After the paint has dried, go back with a permanent marker and trace the original pencil lines--it makes the picture "pop".
Next, have the kids use the Elmer's glue to glue the real leaves to the branches on the tree and the ground all around the tree, as if they have fallen there.

And, voila! Beautiful fall art to decorate the house with. These projects are hanging on the bedroom doors for the kids to admire for a good long while. This project does take a little more time because of all the steps. But don't be deterred, overall time and effort really is not that great. And the finished product is so fun!
Happy Crafting...
This is a seriously un-edited and un-thought out post...I apologize!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jumping and Climbing and Throwing

Last Saturday we drove down onto the beach in front of our house. The water in the reservoir is low enough still that we can drive along the beach for quite a ways...until we come to a small "stream" where water drains from the hill into the river. We climbed the rocky hill (the water was at the top of these rocks until about July), explored the beach and threw a lot of rocks into the water.
Last time Tadd and Ezra came to the beach alone this stream was narrow enough for Ezra to get across. This time it was a little wider and only Tadd was able to attempt a crossing. The rest of us walked up and crossed over on some rocks.

And running back to cross the other direction. Isn't he quite the athlete? : )
We climbed the rocky hill (the water was at the top of these rocks until about July), explored the beach and threw a lot of rocks into the water.

As in most cases, going up was easier than coming down and Ezra was quite optimistic as to what he could handle. I remember more than one time climbing higher than I should have in a tree only to cry out loudly for my daddy to help me down. His usual reply was "You got up there, now you have to get down". But don't worry, he really did help me if I actually needed it : )

For those of you worried about the kids proximity to these rocks and the water, don't worry. The house is set back on a hill above all this fun stuff. We drive down to the boat ramp in order to access the beach. We could slip and slide down the hill from the house to get to the water, but the kids do not want to attempt it themselves as it is full of thorns and weeds and not such a fun climb.

The water was this NASTY thick green paste near the shore. I'm not really sure if it's an algae bloom, or simply all the plants that grow while the water is down getting beaten to a pulp and then mixing with the water as the levels slowly come back up. Anyone out there know?

Last Sunday during Sunday School the speaker was talking about the Lake of Fire and how we need to be saved from an eternity there by taking the Lord Jesus as our Savior. He said to Ezra "you live by a lake, what if that lake was made of fire?" to which Ezra replied in a voice loud and clear enough to be heard by all "No, no, that's not a lake, that's the Snake River". Of course, this drew a lot of chuckles. After Sunday School someone else raised in the Seattle area told us he was quite glad to hear that we were keeping Ezra informed..."Lake Washington, now that's a lake" he said, "the reservoir is not!" To clarify...the body of water behind our current house IS the Snake River and it is dammed up (very close to the house) to form a reservoir.

Look at that form, would ya?

The kids like to ride in the very back of the pick up when we are going slowly on the sand like this. I'm afraid that these pick up adventures will have an abrupt end once our family numbers 5.

The afternoon was warm and wonderful and we enjoyed ourselves playing soccer under a canopy of falling leaves in the backyard. Thank you Lord, for the gift of beautiful fall days!

Yes, Ezra was recently relieved of a lot of hair.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ezra, Caroline and Penelope in Burley

Ezra and Caroline are my born-children. Penelope is my unborn child. No, that's not the name we've picked. No, we don't know whether Penelope is a boy or a girl. It's simply the name the kids call the baby. So, I'll be talking about Penelope instead of "Baby" from here on out (except for when I forget, of course).
Oh my word, a guy just came on Monday to replace some of our internet "stuff" and told me that I wouldn't believe how fast the internet would work from here on out. I had my doubts. However, normally I have to wait a good 20 minutes for 5 pictures to upload onto my blog...sometimes they fail and I have to try all day to get any pictures to upload. But in the time it took me to type the first paragraph, my pictures uploaded. Whoo hoo! We still have internet issues, but it's because of our computer...or rather, the stupidity of the computer's users. But, I digress...
Last Thursday the kids and I packed up and headed west to Burley. Where? Yeah, it's a big metropolis in Idaho, I'm surprised you don't know all about it. Why would we go there? To meet a friend for lunch! That's friend Charlene who was visiting her sister-in-law in Burley knew I lived within driving distance and emailed to see if we could meet. Yeah!!!

Before meeting Charlene for lunch, the kids and I went to a local park called "Storybook Park". This place was fantastic! A bunch of local moms got together and raised the money to build this fabulous park. Each structure has a plaque with the name of the individual or local business who donated money for that particular feature. The kids had a blast, and so did I. It was a crisp, sunny fall day. The park is surrounded by mature deciduous trees which were dropping leaves and nuts all around us. Squirrels chattered and chased. Perfection!

The "tot lot" was a section of the park specifically designed for toddlers. The theme was "Old MacDonald's Farm" and there were wooden animals and barns all around. A germ free petting zoo : )

Charlene taught at Opstad Elementary when I taught there. She recently retired and can kick up her heels whenever she wants to now. I have to tell you that she is one of the world's best teachers. She is one of the specific reasons I was sad Ezra could not go to the school where I taught. Not that it would have mattered, I suppose, since she up and retired on us. This woman was at the top of her game when she quit--no dying years of parents complaining that it was time for her to leave. Nope. Plus, she's a pretty fun gal. This last year she went sky-diving for her birthday and I had a blast hearing all about it over a gourmet meal of chicken nuggets and milkshakes which Charlene so kindly bought us at the Burley McDonald's.

Thanks for taking time away from your family to come play with us! The kids are still talking about "Miss Charlene" a week later.
And here is a picture of our ultrasound we had 3 weeks ago. Little Penelope with his/her balled up fists up around his/her face. What do you think? Is this obviously a boy or a girl??? Wait! Don't tell me, I'm waiting to be surprised : )