Monday, December 31, 2012

Handwritten apology

During our rough patch a few weeks ago, #1 and I had a few tough mornings behavior-wise.  We have been arguing over routines, arguing over bedtimes, arguing over responsibilities... just arguing all around.  These arguments usually resulted in full blown tantrums.  Kicking feet, thrashing hands, screaming... and #1 was pretty bad too.  Ha ha... I'm just kidding.  Like I said, a rough patch!  It must have been her sensing the holiday tension, which is surprising because I really try hard to tone it down now that the little ones are so perceptive!  Happy memories are the most important, not perfect ones.  Anyhow...

She is really working on her communication skills.  We are trying to train her to talk to us if she is having problems instead of "freaking out" over them.  The moment the yelling and tantrum starts, J and I check out (or at least we try to) and won't return until she wants to talk in a calm manner. 

Anyhow, we had a really big argument over the hair brushing responsibility a few weeks ago.  #1 refused to brush her hair, so I did.  I should have just let her go to school with bed head, but I had my bull head on that day and wouldn't let it go.  If she didn't want me to, she should have.  Her hair eventually got brushed, but she cried the entire morning until she got on the bus.  Fun times!  She must have been thinking about it all day because she came home with this note:
It says: "I love you Mommy.  I know I wasn't nice this morning.  I still love you." 

Her first apology.  An unprovoked apology.  This is one for the special box. 

When we send our little ones to school, we let go of a lot.  Going from knowing what they do every day to not knowing what they do for an entire day (relatively speaking) is very hard.  Parents don't get report cards.  Where are we excelling?  Where are we slacking?  What do our children need help with most and where should we focus our attention?  Most of the time we have no clue, but when your child comes home with a note like this, it proves that we are doing something right.  These moments are worth all the battles!

XOXO - I love you little one! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soup and Anatomy Lessons

Many moms cook a ham for Christmas Dinner.
Some moms then take the ham bone and cook it down and make soup with it.

And then a home school mom takes the bone pieces that have cooked down, and give a lesson on the anatomy of the knee.

I love little (mom)ents of incidental learning.  Both of the kids watched as I manipulated the bones and showed how the patella acted as a brake to stop the knee joint from going too far forward.  Why?  they ask.   Well, it would be awfully difficult to walk if the knee went all over the place...imagine balancing and moving that way?  After some thought, they agreed that it would be very difficult, but if it did work that way, they'd probably adapt to it. They experimented with their own knees to mimic how I was moving the bones.  They also observed how the knee bone of the pig broke as it cooked overnight.  They saw where the weak points were and we discussed how muscle (ham meat) kept the pig's joint safe as it moved around so the bone was less likely to break.   We looked at tendon attachments and how similar they were to our own.  They also looked at the cut part of the bone and saw the bone marrow.  We talked about how the bone marrow makes blood cells and discussed leukemia.

I find it sad that many moms I know shy away from teaching their children that the meat at the store was once a living breathing creature.  They are afraid that their child will shy away from eating meat.  I find my curious children love knowing that the food on their plate was once alive.  We visit the farm that we get most of our meat from and see the animals.  My son often then says that he'll eat the meat because he doesn't want that animal's life to go to waste.  He wants to honor the animal.  

And as for the soup...
1 ham bone with meat on it
2 onions
5 carrots
1/2 a red pepper
olive oil
beans of your choice (I use a mix of red and green lentils and barley)
Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

Place the ham bone in a crock pot with water to cover it and let it cook overnight on low.  Scoop out the ham bone and ham pieces.  Remove any cartilage or bone pieces as well as chunks of fat or skin that you see. Chop the meat and return to the stock.  Saute the veggies with a bit of olive oil and put in the pot.  The saute will add some sweetness to the veggies which complements the sweetness of the ham.  Add the beans and turn on high until the beans are tender.  Add seasonings right before serving as added salt will prevent beans from softening if added too early.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The New Hampshire Ladies are laying!

The New Hampshire Ladies are laying!  We are so excited!
This is the most beautiful dozen eggs I have ever seen!!!
We finally get to start using all the egg cartons we've been saving since June!

Technically, they should have started the end of October, but there was a slight problem with lighting that wasn't figured out until late October (Thanks for the guidance, Country Sister-In-Law's husband).  It was slow going at first, but we are up to 6-7 per day.  For 8 hens, that's not too bad, right?  Plus, our Aruca hens laid those beautiful pastel green eggs, so our dozens will be extra pretty!

We go out to check the coop a few times per day and have been finding that they are laying outside the roosting bins quite a bit.  The Arucas especially.  They will probably find their way into the bins at some point (hopefully).  Maybe if we stick more hay in there to make it more comfortable?!?!

Although we have really been enjoying fresh eggs, we have run into a problem that we are trying to figure out.  They are squishing and eating the eggs.  Only two or three of them that I know of, but it's still a problem.  A problem that is most likely accidental, but needs fixing before it becomes intentional.  The other day, I went out and saw a piece of broken egg shell in the run.  My initial thought was "man... I need to remind J not to put egg shells in the chicken scrap bin."  When I went out the next day, I saw a similar shell inside the roosting bin, and another egg that had been cracked and most likely on its way to being eaten.  I removed all evidence and quickly ran inside to research.  We picked a solution that uses something we had on hand.  Lady Fairway golf balls (Country and City Sister-In-Law, we must remember to replenish before July's LCP Open)!  The point is to trick them into thinking the golf balls are eggs, and when they don't get anything out of them, they will give up and won't continue.  We only had enough to stick one in each roosting bin, but it should still work nonetheless.  

Stay tuned to see if that works out!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Routine Charts

Mornings are tough, as I am sure they are with a lot of you too!  The one thing we are constantly working on (especially with #1) is completing tasks in a timely manner.  Each kid has their own struggles.  #2 is the queen of doing things fast in our house.  #1, not so much.  This is where she struggles.  

After dinner pick up, we tell all of the kids to go brush their teeth and get jammies on.  Twenty minutes later, this is what we find:  #2 with jammies on, teeth kind of brushed and she is dancing around the upstairs singing frosty the snowman.  #3 is running around with no pants on (per his usual) trying to find someone to help him with his jammies.  He can only do pants off at this point.  We're working on shirts.  He's only two.  #1... well, she is just standing on the step stool in the bathroom making faces at herself in the mirror wearing the clothes she wore to school!  Teeth not brushed, jammies not on.  Jammies not even picked out!  She has been doing this the entire twenty minutes.  If you ask her why these jobs have not been done yet, she will say "I forgot what I was supposed to do."  FYI:  This kid is full of bologna.  Generally speaking, 5 year olds should be able to remember and complete a list of at least 5 things, as long as they are part of a routine.  This kind of routine can be established within 2 weeks.  This is a proven fact.  It is something I learned at a kindergarten readiness workshop last year.  It is NOT a dream made up by a mother of three in New Hampshire.  It's a "for real life" thing!!!  

But, in order to keep my sanity and try to force my kids to be more efficient, I created some routine charts.  The "MORNING" one below is the one just outside of everyone's bedroom door.  Keep in mind, items 5-7 are, indeed, a pipe dream.  They never happen.  This doesn't bother me.  I consider it a victory if items 1-4 are completed.  If they are completed within 30 minutes, I want to throw a party!

The charts are more for #1 than anyone else, but I included pictures just so that the other little ones could participate since they can't read.  
So, when #1 tells me she isn't sure what her responsibilities are, I tell her to look at the chart.  It's much easier than me telling her (okay, yelling) "go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, get dressed... etc." seven million times.  It's spelled out for her.  
I have routine charts for morning, afternoon and after dinner.  They help me out tremendously and I find myself yelling a little less.  It was really fun coloring each little picture with the small crayola markers!  Brought me back to my school years! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday traditions

I have been MIA for a few weeks.  Something happened and set our routine out of whack, but we're back now!  Just in time for the holiday season!  
Every year, I bake a large variety of cookies to give away for the holidays.  Neighbors, friends... and J works at three different practices, so that means three groups of people to bake for.  We love to bake, so this was exciting for us!  (Another minor detail about me:  I am 1/2 Greek and we love to feed people!  It makes us happy.)  We talked with Yiayia and Auntie and came up with a date to hold a cookie baking weekend.  It was this past weekend and it was perfect!
We made our lists (I also love lists) of who we were baking for and what kind of cookies we were baking.  We didn't make all we intended to, but we got a good variety.  Here is a picture of #2's taste test panel.  You must also be noticing 1's hand barricading her samples so that #2 wouldn't take any of hers.  That's love, folks!  L.O.V.E! 
The weekend was great all around.  J took #3 away for the weekend.  They had some excitement of their own.  "Guys night" where they go and buy all the ladies in their life gifts for Christmas.  It was #3's first year participating.  Daddy, Grampy and the little guy.  Three generations!  No picture this year, but it will be on the agenda for next year, that's for sure!  
It's traditions like these that make the holidays so special.  Spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Baking (and sampling) some of the yummiest cookies that you only get to have once a year, when the desire to give is so strong and you actually have the motivation to bake (for me anyway).  Shopping for your family and keeping it a secret.  Waiting to see that precious reaction when the gift you bought and put so much thought into is opened.  Traditions carried on from generation to generation. 
It really is the most wonderful time of the year!!!  A beautifully wonderful time of year! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ginger Cherry warmer

This morning it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
A faint breeze was blowing when I went to the coop to do the morning chores (with a steaming jug of water for the chickens.) I was thankful for their sturdy shed that broke that gentle breeze...when it's cold, even that faint gentle breeze was not making for a pleasant experience.  I am trying to forget for now that soon it will be snowy and cold and blustery.     
Soon after getting into the coop, it felt a bit better.  I went about my chores.  The girls seemed to like the warm water, and my broody hen jumped into my arms for a little snuggle time.  She sure is a silly one, insisting that she could be a good mommy despite the cold.  She also prefers to spend a little time each day getting a quick drink, snack and snuggle before it is time to go sit in her empty nesting box (since I took the eggs she gathered to brood.)
When I got in to the warm house, I realized how cold I was.  I longed for a third cup of coffee, but since I was already way past my caffeine max for the day, I thought maybe some tea.  And then I had another thought.  I had recently purchased some cherry juice (a natural anti inflammatory) for the family as it is winter and joints and bellies get icky this time of year.  I also had about a pound of ginger in the fridge again for its belly help.  What if I made something out of them that would warm me up and get me going?  I started thinking I'd also like it a little sweet...what's better than honey?  

Ginger Cherry Warmer
2 cups of water
1 inch of ginger root peeled and roughly chopped
honey (to taste)
Tart cherry juice (to taste)

In a small pot bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat and add ginger.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Strain the ginger water into a jar/mug and add honey.  Stir until the honey is incorporated.  Add a touch of cherry juice until it tastes just right for you and enjoy.

What keeps you warm on a blustery day?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yarn of sorts

I broke out the drop spindle that I got for Christmas...last year.  I kept meaning to work with it sooner, but found it didn't look like most drop spindles that I had ever seen before.  That's because mine was a Turkish that creates a center pull ball right off the spindle.  I watched youtube videos that were the most recommended...which made me think that the yarn somehow was supposed to wind itself...amazing I thought.  Then when I tried...nothing nada...zilch...except over wound yarn.  So I went to knitpicks and looked at their tutorial (non-video) which made me realize that I had to be the one doing the winding...duh...

So, while teaching about doubling consonants when adding -ed...and about r controlled vowels and how car doesn't have an o for a vowel (like it sounds when you are sounding it out slowly) I began spinning...and spinning...and spinning some more.  I'm thinking that I can work on drop spindle until I get my grandmother's spinning wheel up and going.  It looks like the wheel needs to be fixed a bit and the bobbin has a crack that lets the string jump off (that's my not so expert opinion...)

As for reading...that good old garden reading...the seed catalog.  I'm still thinking about last year and what worked/didn't work and have ideas for next year that are brewing.

joining with ginny and nichole