Sunday, April 24, 2016

More school fun

After learning about evidence of ancient people in the Americas, we headed to the beach to make our own, less lasting version of the Nazca lines in Peru.  Jared is posing here by a large heart.  
 This was a cow.  I really didn't think it was warm enough for swimming, but other people had a different view.
 The day was perfect for enjoying the beach views.
 Eloise and B swamped their boots.  They probably had a little bit less fun when their shoes and socks were soaked.
 Todd met us on his way home from work, and we rounded the boardwalk together.  Todd ended up carrying B, who hates to be wet.
 Sammy was very interested in eating as much sand as possible.
 This is while Eloise was still thinking of growing out her bangs.
 We read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang out loud together, and then we had to try the recipe for Madame Bon-Bon's fooj (fudge) listed at the back of the book.  Our fudge turned out a little bit chewy, but it still tasted good.
 Jared was pretty happy with this alternative to doing a written book report.  We still talked about our favorite parts.  It was a fun little book to read together.
 This is how Sammy helped with fooj.  Here he is signing "all done," but I don't think he was actually done eating.  Sometimes he is done with sitting in the high chair before he is done with stuffing food into his mouth.
 The bike is a handy tool for keeping Sammy out of the mud.  For a minute.  Mud is really fun, after all.  Sammy looks like he has a rock in his mouth in this picture.
 I love watching them all play together.  This was my view from the porch, where I sat reading Don Quixote for a lot of March and April, when I had a minute, and the weather was nice.

Grandpa Jolley's 90th Birthday

In March we had a chance to go to Salmon, Idaho for Grandpa Jolley's 90th birthday.  We were a little bit concerned about the weather on a winter drive across the northern part of the western United States, but spring was pretending to be on its way, so the drive went smoothly and uneventfully.  It was so great to get to see Grandpa!  Here he is with his namesake.  Eldon Dale holding Samuel Dale.  
 B loves everything that has wheels.  He was a little bit heavy for his great grandpa's lap.
 Spring in Idaho reminded me of home in Logan. We would be comfortable in t-shirts one minute, and then a breeze would bring winter back and we would need coats and hats and gloves again. Colette's family arrived just after we did, along with Grandma Knight.
 Salmon + cousins = happiness.
Sammy loved all of the outside time, and with so many rocks to eat!
 Feeding the calves was a highlight for the kids.  B was disappointed that Nate was doing the chores, since Josh was away at school when we arrived.  He tagged along with less enthusiasm than he would have had.
 Nate and Uncle Boyd were so patient with the hoard of kids who wanted to do everything with them.  They gave endless tractor and four wheeler rides, and took at least twice as long doing chores like feeding calves so that everyone had a chance to "help."  For the record, Rachel's glasses are decorative.  Someday when she needs glasses for real she will wonder why she thought they were so fashionable.  Annie spent most of her time in Idaho seeking the dogs (Mary's dog, Penny, and our Shadow).  She wasn't supposed to touch them, since she had some kind of allergic reaction to dog slobber, but she was magnetically drawn to them, and managed to get through the week without any reaction.
 I love this picture of Jared and Nate.  This calf didn't know what to do with the nipple at first.  Apparently I didn't get very many pictures of Jared, who enjoyed the freedom of the ranch, and rarely crossed my path after Rachel showed up.  
 Sammy was really happy watching the calves and mimicking them licking their lips until we got too close and this one tried to nurse on his sleeve.  Oops.
 "I hear an engine! Who's going? Can we go? Someone run out and see if they can wait while I find my coat!"
 We had pizza and movie night with cousins in Aunt Barbara and Uncle Boyd's kitchen.
 While we were there, Grandpa Jolley was inducted into the Idaho Agricultural Hall of Fame.  This was a great honor.  Grandpa wasn't up to the three hour drive to receive the award in Idaho Falls, but Barb and Boyd went, along with a couple of their kids.  Before Grandpa's big birthday party on Saturday, a lot of the family gathered for a reenactment of the presentation of the award.  It was fun to get together with a lot of the Jolley cousins.  Sammy got comfortable on Uncle Jim's lap when Megan came along and wanted Grandma's lap for herself.
 B and Josh were reunited.  B was really happy to have a farm shirt like Josh's.  As soon as Josh came, he had a little Benjamin shadow.
 Von read the a brief history of Grandpa's accomplishments in agriculture while a slideshow of pictures from Grandpa's life played.  After the presentation, there was a birthday open house. A lot of friends from the community came to wish Grandpa Jolley happy birthday.
 There was TONS of food.  Jolleys know how to do gatherings.
 B has the buffet table of brownies happiness.
 Mike and Julie, Grandpa Knight's nephew and his wife, came from Rexburg to pay their respects.  B hilariously got Mike and his dog, Ruby, mixed up.  He pointed to the dog and said, "This is my cousin Mike? And that's Ruby?"  Anything is possible, right?  The ranch is a land of magic and joy.

 Ele and Molly did not ever seem to get tired of pushing babies around in this little car.
 We celebrated Ryan's, Nate's, and Parker's (Carrie's baby) birthdays after we celebrated Grandpa's.  Four is maybe not quite as momentous as 90, but still worth a celebration.  B and Ryan were sad to be separated when the Campbells went home on Sunday.  I'm so glad that they have each other.
 We left for home early Monday morning.  Once again the ride went pretty smoothly.  Sammy was thoroughly done with his carseat by the time we got home, but, all in all, traveled well.
 Maybe road trips will get easier as they all get older.  I had the kids each pack their own bag of activities for this drive.  That way they couldn't be disappointed with what they had along to play with.
I'm so glad that we got to make some more happy Idaho memories and celebrate a very great grandpa.

Midwinter Beach Party

I can't believe I haven't posted this yet! I really am behind.  On February 29 (Leap day) we had our midwinter beach party.  This is the day that we put on our swimming suits, crank up the heat, and have summer in our house.  
Benjamin is my little snuggle bug.  He is forever asking me to 'nuggle him.  In an unrelated anecdote brought to mind by this picture, B is trying to figure out how this whole marriage thing works so that he can get his life planned out.  He asked me, "Mommy, can I marry you?" I said no, I was already married to Daddy.  "Can I marry Daddy?" No.  Eloise jumped in with, "You can only marry a girl, and not one in your family.  You can marry Alice."  B immediately jumped on that suggestion (I think he may have literally jumped with delight), "Yeah! I will marry Alice, and then I will kiss her on the LIPS!"
Eloise got out her two piece swimming suit and discovered that the two pieces that touched each other last summer had a very wide gap this winter.  It's like she is growing or something. She opted for Jared's spare swim shirt with the tankini bottoms.  This was more practical than a one piece for wearing all day long.  B saw her with the flower in her hair and said, "My sister is pretty." Awwwww.
This is actually my very best attempt at a group photo.  Sometimes it just doesn't work out.  I think I even have my knee in the shot.  This was a true disaster photo.
The Christensens came over and we had family home evening together after the party.  I was not up to a big production for the beach party this year, but you had better believe I was on the hook for having it.  Children never forget.
 It's nice to have friends who like a party just as much when it is low key.  Eight kids in the house makes for sufficient excitement without a need for lots of planning and preparation.  All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the chaos.

School Fun

One of the many things I am coming to love about homeschooling is being able to do school in any way we like.  Around Valentine's day we invented conversation heart math bingo.  We roll dice and using any operation the kids know how to do (add, subtract, multiply, and divide for Jared, add and subtract for Eloise, or counting for B), try to get five in a row in a 5x5 grid filled with numbers.  I promise I don't always feed my kids candy while we do math.  There is that Jewish tradition that learning Hebrew should be accompanied by sweet tastes in your mouth to make you love learning. . . 
One evening during our family scripture study we asked the children to draw a picture of something that they heard in the scriptures.  B's pictures tend to all look like circles, and then he describes them in the same way Jared describes his pictures.  This top picture was drawn by Eloise.
This was Jared's version.  Jared likes to draw his pictures to look more like comics.
Our challenge in the winter is staying active.  Active bodies lead to more effective learning, especially for these little boys.  When we had more than two dry days in a row (we have to wait for the moss growing on our driveway to not be soggy) I drew an obstacle course on the driveway.  The running, spinning, skipping, hopping, backwards hopping, arm flapping, shouting, bike riding course was a hit for a week before it was too rain damaged to see anymore.  Eloise LOVED it.  She would run through the course until she was sweating on this chilly 45 degree day.
Sammy added an obstacle to the course for the other kids.  They had to go through the motions without crashing into a bike riding baby.  He loves riding his bike all over the driveway.  In April he learned to use the bike to balance while he climbs off and reaches for things that interest him.  He still hasn't figured out steering, but he is getting there, and is so glad to be included.
To say that Sammy loves to be outdoors is an understatement.  He mopes around the house all morning until I put him outside on his bike, or take him out to swing on our swing.  He stands at the window saying, "Dog! Dog! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball!  Throw a ball! Throw a ball a dog!" and bouncing on the balls of his feet to give emphasis to what he is saying, which is that children belong outdoors.

Time is Marching on

The first Thursday of the month is free museum day in Seattle.  We haven't managed to hit a museum every month, since we had been sick or traveling for the past two or three months, but in March we went to the Seattle Art Museum.  This was not expected to be a crowd favorite, since there is the restriction on touching anything in a fancy art museum, but for free I thought we could check it out.  This trip had the added benefit of my discovery of free parking in downtown Seattle for two hours at Target (validated with purchase, and we always need something from Target).  An actually free trip to Seattle! Score!  One of the first exhibits we saw when we got off the elevator was this very entertaining toilet exhibit.  
 What the artist was trying to abstractly represent with this one is beyond me.  This is a one-purpose item, as far as I can tell.  I saw grown men walking up to it and pretending to use it, so I know that it wasn't just the kids who found it funny to see a huge urinal on the wall of an art museum.  
 This was one of my favorites.  I think it was some commentary on capitalism, but I found the colors really pretty.
 Sammy was not a huge lover of the art museum.  Stroller confinement is fairly restricting.
 Art in the art museum: perspective.
 There was a small children's area with books about art, a video, and a small selection of building toys.  Sammy was grateful for the chance to get out of the stroller.
 This was probably the highlight of the museum for almost everyone.  I think Eloise's favorite part was the African art, where she developed an interesting fascination with some sort of fertility god made of wood and nails.
Jared and Eloise were also delighted to see that the museum sign was a great big SAM acronym.  It was a brief introduction to art.  We were exposed to art using a lot of different media, including hand made furniture and re-purposed tires.  A lot of creations made of toys, rocks, stacked shoes, and Legos have been called art since this trip, so I would call it a success.

The next day was Friday.  Jared prefers not to get dressed on Fridays.  He had an accident "powering up" on the driveway.  He whirled around to power up, but Sammy was right behind him, so he dove over Sammy and landed on his head in our rock garden.  He got an impressive welt for his troubles, and Sammy was safe.  
 Sammy likes to sit with the big kids for movie night.  He has to be contained so that he doesn't try to eat off of their plates. I just think that they are so cute all lined up like this, even if they are staring at the boob tube.
 We made a weekend trip to the park with Daddy.  Sammy actually knows how to ride his little bikes, but this one isn't his favorite, since the back wheels run into his heels.  At the park he never moved an inch because he was too busy watching the other kids play.
 We have gotten out of the habit of going to the park very often.  I'm sure that that will change as the weather warms up.  We have spent the last week doing most of our school work in the yard, with surprisingly good focus.
 Eloise has had bangs for so long that I have forgotten how she looks without them.  This hairstyle resulted in a few days of Eloise planning to grow out her bangs, but she loves getting her hair cut so much that the resolve didn't last.
 Todd knows how to attract children.
 I had heard that homeschool families can get a good rate at the Pacific Science Center if they go on Mondays, so, while Todd took one of his last two weeks of paternity leave, we decided to go as a family and check it out.  B got Science Center mixed up with Space Center, and fully expected to see space shuttles and astronaut suits.  He asked me multiple times if we would take an airplane to get there and see cousins.  Way to turn a cool outing into a total letdown, B.  This thingamajig was the closest thing to a space shuttle we encountered.  I didn't get any pictures from the first room we entered at the science center because the robotic dinosaurs were much too lifelike for Mr. B, and he had to stay very close to a parent all of the time we were there.

 Before we had been in the science center for very long, Eloise and B discovered the toddler area, which Jared was too big to enter.  Todd took Jared to look at more exhibits while I stayed in the toddler area with the rest of the kids.  Sammy was in water table heaven.
 Todd wasn't very impressed with the level of maintenance on the regular displays, but the little kid area was pretty fun, and not at all crowded.
 The butterfly room was probably the best part of the science center.  Lots of exotic butterflies flew around, and we picked up a butterfly identification card at the door so that we could name them.  It will be fun to check out the science center again when our group has a longer attention span for scientific inquiry.

Our ward had a March Madness basketball activity, which Todd was in charge of coordinating.  We are not sports folk here.  As you can see, we think that cones make very good hats.
 On an unrelated note, I joined a Ragnar relay team in March.  Our race is in July, and I have been training four days a week.  Jared drags me out of bed and makes me chase him on his bike, which is hard work, but very good for both of us.

B has lots of really nice Sunday clothes that were handed down to him by a family in our ward with two boys.  I can never get him to dress in the nice things (he is very particular about clothes).  I achieved this look by suggesting that he put on a "Jared costume."  Sunday clothes are restrictive, but costumes are fun and exciting.  It totally worked.  I did the same thing again to get him to wear his adorable blazer.  I told him he would look like his friend Max, who likes to wear his suit coat because it has lots of pockets to store his treasures in.
 Speaking of costumes, we had letter P preschool at our house, and Jared led the charge for dressing as pretty princesses.  I hope he never loses this confidence.  I love that he still doesn't distinguish between boy and girl toys, books, and games.
 This guy: 11 months old, six teeth, crawling all over the place, and learning to love balls, dogs, siblings, bananas (he's finally coming around), and doing what everyone else is doing.  He is such a happy guy.