Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gourmet Hot Cocoa and Daddy's Special Touch

About 10 years ago, one of my sister's-in-law changed my life forever. Toddler baby Sebastian and I were visiting her house on a winter vacation. She offered us all (my mom and I think my little bro were there too) some hot cocoa. This was to be no ordinary hot cocoa. She pulled out these big, round cocoa mugs and some flavoring syrups. I chose Irish Creme syrup for was soooooooooo yummy!! I did not grow up drinking hot cocoa on a regular basis during the soon as I got home from this trip I went and bought some hot cocoa, flavoring syrup and used our BIG soup mugs for Dave and I to enjoy this special treat at our house! :)
Dave has added his own special touch to our gourmet hot cocoa experience...he has taken it a step further by adding whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles!

Everything is more special with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles! Suddenly your pancakes are happy to see you! Your hot cocoa makes you feel pampered! Your ice cream is restaurant worthy! Add whipped cream, holiday sprinkles and a little lemon-lime soda to egg nog and you have a festive holiday treat! Daddy's special touch makes everything a little bit better! :)

More sledding photos!

Scarlett making a sweet little snow angel. :)
Sebastian fortifying the barricade.

Fiona taking a little break from working on the "ramp"...which was a little hill they made in the middle of a sled run.

There is always a lot of snow eating during sledding!! :) YUM!

Elijah on his way back up to go down again! I'm so happy we bought the boys snow pants last year! I'm so happy we live in an area where they actually get to use their snow pants! We have amassed kid snow pants for years and years and they saw very little use. Last year after we realized we could actually expect snow several times each winter, we decided we needed to start amassing bigger sizes of snow pants for the kids who were outgrowing them! They have actually gotten a lot of use!

All five of the oldest kids!

Here is Scarlett experimenting to see if a skateboard on the sledding hill would be fun. It's not really....
Brighton, who woke up abnormally early from his nap, got very excited watching the kids out the front window!!

Another great day for sledding!

We have been getting jipped. After every snow storm that passes through, we only come out with a few measly inches. I am very thankful for the many number of times we have been blessed with a few measly inches so far this year, but we have been waiting and hoping for that storm that brings a few least a few inches is still good for sledding! Above are Scarlett and Haven going down the slight hill that is our front yard.
Here is Scarlett after a good wipe out. :) All the kids had VERY strict instructions to stop themselves before they got into the street. Our street is not super busy, but we are only 4 houses up from a VERY busy road and so we do get traffic. The kids have a hard time stopping themselves at the sidewalk...not because it is hard to stop yourself, but because it is hard to stop the fun....In comes brilliant Daddy...

Dave came to the rescue by building a little snow wall with a curve to direct kids away from the street. :)

Added bonus to the snow barricade: it seems to be more fun! :)

They are still out playing and sledding in the front. From what I hear, Dave just got done building a "jump". :) Fiona just asked "can you make the jump bigger?" :) Brighton is having LOTS of fun watching them from the window and there is hot water simmering on the stove for when all the little frozen kidcicles want to come in and thaw out. Christmas vacation ROCKS! :)

Another little Billy Goat!

Brighton is an active, busy little guy. I leanrned a trick from my sister to pack books into a bookcase so tightly that babies can not pull them out. It really works great....until your baby learns to climb up higher to get to the non-packed books. :) Such a smart little billy goat! :) And so adorable.... :)

Watching the sky for Daddy!

Dave had a cool opportunity last week to view Colorado Springs from a few thousand feet above the ground. He had done a favor for someone at work, so in return the guy offered to take Dave on a flight in his little plane. We knew about what time he would be flying over, so we all went outside to try and spot him. We did see a plane or two (well, I did...the kids really just played) that I thought might be his, but it turned out that he had flown over our neck of the woods a bit earlier than anticipated. Although we missed seeing his actual plane, the kids had fun taking a little break outside and enjoying the "warm" low 40's weather! :)
All the kids are so good with Brighton and know how to take care of him, but Fiona seems to want to do it the most. :) She is a very sweet big sister and takes really attentive care of him. He had LOTS of fun jumping on the trampoline with her!

The other girls wanted turns jumping with Brighton, but, sadly, I didn't think they were old enough to be in charge of him on the trampoline. They got over it and soon all had lots of fun again! :)

Brighton and I went in once his little bare feet were getting cold and watched for airplanes from a living room window. I love our living room windows because they are so low that Brighton can look out them perfectly. He thinks it is great fun to check out what is happening outside...he especially loves it when he sees Fiona getting the mail or another kid taking out the trash or Daddy coming home from work!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In case you need to know: How to Make a Dragon

A Recipe To Make A Dragon
By Sebastian Boyd

1. Start with the complete genome of a crocodile.
2. Modify the leg genes to make them longer.
3. Insert the DNA of bat wings into the shoulder bone and increase the wing size by 40% and attach muscle genes.
4. Modify head to give it bumps and chochkas and thing-ga-ma-bibs.
5. Finally, change it's false pallet into a fire-false pallet, give it a plutonium stomach and an appetite for plutonium and give it a flight bladder.

There ya go! If you happen to have a crocodile and a DNA extractor, you are set to make your very own dragon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fix my hair too!

Brighton feels left out when the girls get their hair done! He has started bringing us the spray bottle (which originally held no-tangle spray, no we refill it with water and a little squirt of conditioner) and begging to have us spray his hair! :) Today, Fiona and I decided to give him a mohawk. :)
He thinks it's so fun! The girls sometimes fuss about it, the big boys DEFINITELY complain, but he begs for more!

Then he turned it into a fun "chase me" game with the girls, who LOVE to play cute games with their adorable baby brother!

From there, it turned into a "stick the cute baby in the pink chair and look at how cute he is just sitting there while we push him around the kitchen" game. :)

He was so cute, just happy to sit there and be subjected to whatever the girls wanted to do with him next! Fiona plopped him in the chair saying "Oh, Mom! You have to come and see how cute he is!" Here in the above picture, Scarlett is spraying his foot. :) Then Haven pushed him around the kitchen for awhile. Scarlett parked him under the table where he was happy to just hang out for a good 5 minutes! :) He adores his brothers and sisters, and they all adore him! :)

Museum opening!!

A month or so ago, Sebastian constructed a life-size replica (including skeletal system and internal organs) of Lyuba, a 10,000 year old baby mammoth that was discovered frozen in Siberia almost completely intact. (You can find out more about her here.) The kids put her out in the back yard to simulate the aging that would take place when exposed to a frozen, cold environment. Well, it was only cold and frozen for a few weeks...then the snow melted and Lyuba started to deteriorate a bit more quickly than Sebastian had anticipated or wanted. On Sunday, he and Fiona excavated her out and brought her into the more stable environment of our house. Then Sebastian, like any good scientist, proceeded to do a small autopsy and take some important samples from the specimen. The above picture is of that procedure. Scarlett and Haven assisted. :)
Above are the samples that were taken, on display for the museum visitors to see.

Here's Sebastian right before he closed Lyuba back up to be able to put her on display.

Here we are at the museum opening! Haven handed Sebastian our museum "membership" card and we went in!

Here is our very first view of the museum: Lyuba on display and cave-man Elijah, who took part in an inter-active exhibit about early humans.

Here is the cave-man fire...pretty cool! Complete with a light under the tissue paper! You can see the cave in the background.

And here is the star of the show, Lyuba!

Here is Fiona, Elijah and Sequoia....cave people just would not be complete without a cave-dog! :)

Here is Scarlett checking out some of the art-work hanging on the museum wall. My favorite was the one of the giant ground sloth (megatherium) on the top right.

Sebastian loaded this empty set of drawers with interactive displays for kids. Here he showing the little girls a bone. The other drawers held the samples taken from Lyuba and some different games (what does not belong, etc) The little girls loved it! :) Brighton was a bit bummed that we wouldn't let him down to rampage and destroy the exhibits, though. :) The kids did a great job with the museum and it was fun to check it all out!

Sorry, not this year!

I'm sure you do this to: the day is going really well, kids are happy, things are clean, you're feeling abnormally good and happy and so you plan big; "Sure, I could have 5 more kids! No big deal, it'd be great!" or "I can totally tackle that remodelling project without my husband, no problem!" I have had way too many of these moments recently, once of which being when I said "Let's do a homemade Christmas this year!" I must've been having a REALLY good day that day! We made big plans for a large variety of presents for the kids we could craft ourselves...the bulk of them sewing projects. I am not a real big sewer. In fact, it's been probably over 2 years since I sewed anything. And 5 years since I actually "made" anything by sewing. And, to add to that, I made this great sewing/homemade Christmas idea about 2 weeks before Christmas. I am a huge procrastinator and it usually works out for me okay, but 2 weeks and lots of huge projects to get done ONLY when the children are sleeping????

Reality hit me a few days later. I am 5 months pregnant and dead tired all the time, have a busy 14 month old baby to chase and care for, 5 other kids who need my attention and, lets face it, aren't all asleep until between 10-11pm at night!! There is no way I can sew and make a bunch of homemade gifts this year. This is NOT the year for a homemade Christmas! Once I announced such to Dave (who giggled when I told him,) I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders! Some day we'll do a homemade Christmas...and when we do, we'll start before December even begins (good suggestion, Dave!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A whole new meaning to "I've got a monkey on my back!"

On chilly mornings like today, I like to get a warm fire going downstairs in the family room to take the edge off of the cold and make it more inviting for kids to be able to be down there and play. This morning, after I had explained to the kids the "new and improved" chore system, Sebastian started to work on his chore (or jurisdiction) of the family room. He found a pile of monkeys and decided his little bro would look adorable with one riding on his back. I think he was right! All the kids gushed about how cute Brighton looked with the little monkey hugging his back. Brighton seems to think it's pretty fun too...he's been wearing the monkey now for almost an hour (and none of the chores are done yet, in case you are wondering....ergh.)

A monkey on his back, a brush in his hand to carry around, and some snackage in his mouth; life is good! :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It happens so quickly!

Brighton is learning and growing so fast! He just turned 14 months old this week. He is understanding more and more every day and is just so fun and cute! Today, to distract him from something small I needed to take away from him that wasn't safe, I put a hair scrunchy on his wrist. He thought it was so fun. He kept taking it off and then bringing it to me to put back on his wrist. After my enthusiasm for how cute it was on his wrist wore off, he would have me put it on his world and then walk over to the gate at the top of the stairs "yelling" to the kids downstairs (who could not hear or see him) how cute it was on his wrist. :) Then he decided to try putting it in his little ball maze thingy. He would stuff it in (as pictured above) and then try and REALLY stuff it in there using a paint stirring stick. Then he would pull the hair scrunchy out and do it all over again. So adorable!!
Of course, once I pulled the camera out and started taking pictures of him, he was hamming it up with big cheesy grins where his eyes are all squinty and his little beaver teeth stick out of his smile. :) I didn't manage to capture one of those classic baby looks (my camera is dying I think and not doing the job it used to), but I did catch the sweet one below. :)

Brighton is a real sweetheart. He loves cuddles when he has time for them; he is a VERY busy little guy. He goes from one thing to the next to the next to the next to the next to the next to the next to the next and so on pretty much all day long! I forgot how tiring it can be to try and keep up with a busy little boy! (Just since I started writing this post he has moved on from the hair scrunchy to the window, to some cords to pull down and play with, to "mopping" and "sweeping" in the kitchen and now on to something else...) He always takes time to check in with me, though, either by talking to me and smiling or coming over for a hug. He has learned a few of the signs we have taught him. He has "eat" down pretty well (one of his favorite hobbies...), working on "more" (he usually signs "eat" for "more"...pretty much gets the same result!) and "all done" when he is, well, "all done." :) He has started bringing me things to open for him or help him with or do for him, which I think is pretty adorable and smart. :) One of his favorite things to do is just walk around holding something. He'll take a lap or two around the room with something, check on some stuff, find something new to hold and then go around again. :) Brighton brings a lot of joy and sweetness into our home and we all love him a lot!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

File Folder Addict

Above is a gorgeous picture of my file folder stash thus far. I LOVE these things! Last summer I decided to purchase some file folder activity books that you use to make your own educational file folders. Some people make their own from scratch; some people print off file folder activities from the Internet; some people buy pre-printed color file folder activity books. I am relieved that I am a part of that latter group, at least as a file folder newbie. Now that I have actually done all three options, I know the pre-printed color books are so much easier and faster to put together than the other two options.
Here are a few examples of the younger kid's file folder activities. (The one open is an activity reinforcing what an antonym is.) It takes me about 30-45 minutes to complete one of the younger kid's folders. These folders were made from these books ordered off of Amazon. They come in different grade levels. I also ordered a few other ready-made file folder activity books for the younger kids, but have yet to use them since they are not color...thus you have to take the time to color each one and THEN still put it together. I am thinking about selling those books...and now that I know which books I really like a lot (see below) I plan on purchasing some of those in other grade levels and subjects for next semester!

Here is an example of the older kid's file folders. These were made with the excellent Take It To Your Seat centers series (find link to the right under homeschool resources.) I LOVE these...VERY educational and useful. This series is my favorite. The younger kids activities use actual file folders. These ones use kids school type folders with pockets inside to hold the supplies for each activity. The folder open above is about 3 different types of poetry and contains laminated examples of poetry, spare lined paper for a rough draft of the child's original poem in one of the three styles, and worksheets to illustrate and write the final draft of the poem.
To make the folder, I simply tear out the pages along perforated lines, cut things out, glue things on the folder that might need to be attached firmly (makes the laminating look better and have less bubbles), mount components on card stock and then laminate everything that needs to be laminated (which is everything that is non-consumable papers/worksheets.) Then I cut the laminated pieces out and trim up edges, affix any velcro where necessary (mostly for the younger kid's folders) and then put the game pieces, etc in a zip-top plastic bag which I staple to the folder. Since each folder is laminated and any necessary components (cards, pieces, etc) are mounted on card stock and then laminated, I expect them to last through all of my kids!
These file folders have really helped to enrich, reinforce and introduce new ideas to our homeschool. I love that the kids can largely do them all on their own (the front cover contains the instructions and the back the answers, if necessary.) I love how organized and "together" they make me feel. :) I especially LOVE that the kids LOVE them (well, the math ones might just be a strong "like") and are very happy to do them.

Here is another place Brighton hung out this morning during school work (other than the dog.) :) This cabinet does have a child lock on it....but obviously not Brighton proof! What a cutie! He gave us all several good laughs this morning. :) And several sweet moments that melted our hearts, too. I love babies! :)

Just needed to take a little break...

While everyone was working away at their school work this morning, I looked over and saw that sweet Brighton (who got up waaaaaay too early this morning) had decided the best place to take a little rest would be on the dog. :) Willow (who is now about 7 months old) is very sweet and gentle with him and didn't seem to mind being his pillow in the least.
She especially didn't mind once she realized Brighton had brought some snacks with him! After all our years of having dogs and toddlers, I have observed that dogs REALLY like toddlers: where there are toddlers, there are usually snacks!

He's learned to be such a great little pack leader already! She got a little too close to his snacks and he gently kept her away. :)

This was all going on under our work table. :) Here is Haven showing me a pattern page she just finished. All the kids are doing really well and making great progress. Haven (who is 5) has started sounding out words better than I had anticipated. She did this pattern page all by herself where you needed to read color words (blue, green, etc) and we have not practiced that, but she sounded them all out and finished the page all by herself!
Even though a few of us have the grumpies this morning (Mom in included...), we are still trying to make the most of this beautiful, snowy, wintry day. Cute babies, nice dogs and workboxes all help with that!