Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cereal Box Knight Helmuts

 The first day of school, earlier this week, we did this!  Well at least for a part of the day anyway. :)
The boys have ideas you see.  And I am trying to follow through on my end more.  You when they say "But we want to build helmuts".....and you say "We can do that later"....because there is math to do and it's almost supper time and you'd like to actually be able to see the dining room table when the man walks in the door at the end of his day.

So....this time...when they said..."let's"....I said "Yes!"
Made out of cereal boxes, packaging tape, ribbon, and metallic spray paint.  They got to spray it themselves and thought that was especially cool.  They did all of it themselves, except I ripped the tape.  As a mom I felt it my duty to save them from the jaws of that nasty tape dispenser. (ahem)
 My favorite part....the shinguards...from soccer....
 Little Hen watches these big guys so closely, taking it all in.  We didn't paint the inside, because I didn't want the paint to close to their skin.  So if you look closely it's also an advertisement for Cinnamon Harvest.  Yum.
 Cricket's is really large, but that's how he wanted it.  Notice in this picture the cereal box gauntlet?  That was an earlier creation. Yes, we are very creative with our recylcing bin.   The gauntlet is falling apart now, and I notice as I type this that it's being held together by one of my hair bands.  I seriously can not keep track of those things as they are always being used to fix engineering "problems" in this house!  I think I might need a secret hiding place for them, but my homeschooling mama brain would probably forget where I put them.  So, I'll just continue to look in the boys things when I need one.  :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Elephant

 At Circus World Museum
 The elephant's name is Tiny.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Keeping a House

I know, I know.  Writing about this makes it I am just a boring housewife, who only thinks of her children and homemaking things.  But.  It's not true.  And I really have something to say about this.  So. 

Why is it that no one really talks about homemaking in a tangible way?  It seems to me anyway, that you either hear about the Marthas who talk as if they have it all together and their houses never are in disarray.  Or you hear about the women who talk about housework only if it is to complain.  Or you hear about taking care of one's home, in a decorating about how to pick out the exact right color or have the cleverest idea for storing your shoes.  And it should be noted that this last one of the three usually involves spending money on some elaborate system or overpriced product.

What I would like to how to keep a home that is clean and tidy and beautiful, without spending money or contacting an interior designer.  I would like there to be a magazine that is about housekeeping when you have a brood of children and making a room artisitic when you only have ten dollars!

I would like to read something that reminds me that taking care of my old bookshelf that has no paint and is not quite big enough, is better than spending money that I do not have on one that is fashionable and more useful.  I really would.  Because then I wouldn't have to spend so much time convincing myself that these truths really are true.  I wouldn't have to work so hard at stopping the comparing that happens in my mind every time I see a picture of someone else's living room.  I would look at what I have and see what a gift it is, instead of wishing it were something else.

I read once that "Comparison is the thief of joy."  And I really believe that.  The tricksy thing about it is, that I can stop comparing and feel fine and joyful and content, but then a friend comes over and I worry that they are comparing!  I worry, that although I am fine with what I have or don't have, that they will feel bad for me!  Oh to be truly content with the things that matter.  To be deeply rooted in them so that the little things are just that...little things.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Plant Zoo

Today we journeyed to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for a little adventure.  The rain let up just for us, and we arrived there with the sunny sky above.  As we pulled into the parking lot, eldest boy read the sign, "Olbrich Botanical Gardens."  

Second boy said, "Botanical what? Aww, man, what is this place?" (yes, he's been here before many times, but it has never seemed more than a nice place to walk and he has never been atune enough to remember its name)

Eldest says, "It's a plant museum.  Don't worry it'll be fun.  We'll walk around and see all the plants, like a museum, only for plants."

At this point Owl (boy #3) pipes up, "No, it's like a zoo.  It's a plant zoo."  We all laugh and agree wholeheartedly and it's good to start our adventure with a smile. 
 So many watery many little spots of beauty....

 It was the perfect day to walk in the garden with my love...
 The littlest man walked almost the whole way, and we walked for almost an hour.  Of course he has to "hold hands, mama!" and his little hat kept coming off every time he turned his head it seemed, to which he'd say "my hat is blowing away!"  which of course made me want to laugh.  But such tender little worries need to be handled with care, and I admit that even unaware old me is finally starting to get this, so you can imagine me dutifully rescuing his hat from the imaginary gust and putting it back on his head twenty times.

 This bromeliad flower was amazing.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  Notice the butterfly hiding out?
 My favorite spot.  I could spend a day here...with a book or a paint brush....

My little men.

Oh, and let me end by telling you that J took us all out for lunch at a place called "Daisy's cafe and cupcakery".  Yeah.  It was awesome.  I enjoyed the most amazing sandwich ever which involved breaded eggplant and edamame hummus followed by a mocha cupcake that was amazing.  I shared with little hen and he just kept saying, "hmmm, mama this is delicious!"  It really was.  The whole day.  Delicious.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August.... a month of abundance.  Hot days, warm nights.  Summer rain.  Sunshine.  Sunshine.  Sunshine.  All these things bring about abundance in a garden. 
 The "wealthy" apples, just like my grandma grew, from the tree we thought was dead.
 Pears growing in their perfect roundness.
 The sweetness of nectar sustaining such beauty.

Yet....these same things....sunshine, and heat, and even rain....the things that are essential for growth....they also stress the plants.  Too much of any of these causes the plants to be stunted and weak. And as I'm out in the garden, (like Eve?) I wonder how one balances all this.  How do we, creatures that need growth to live, how do we ever control the "circumstances" enough to avoid stress and thrive?
 The summer goodness also brings weeds.  The garden was full of them when we got home!  I didn't mind too much, because nerd that I am, I actually like weeding.  It sorts my insides out without me knowing it.

And in case you haven't seen this crazy picture yet....the summer goodness also brought this to my potato patch....
 And no, I didn't chase them away even though the Mr. McGregor in me thought about it.  I waited a few days until their eyes opened and then I did! 
 They sure were sweet to watch though.  The boys loved, loved, loved them.  And when we released them (ahem...chased them out with a stick) the little hollow left behind did feel a bit sad and empty.  And I sat and weeded around their old home after they were gone (yes I left the weeds while they were here so they'd have something to eat) I kept thinking, thinking about how the same goodness grows both the good and the "bad".  Doesn't it?

And what about me?  How do I handle the sun shining down on me?  What do I do when it's too hot too many days in a row and I just can't breath?  What about when the rains come washing down so hard that I can't see in front of me at all and I don't know which way to turn?  How do I handle all of it?  I went to bed that night feeling like I didn't know anything at all.  Only that somehow I still knew that God is good, but how do I make sense of it all?

The next morning I woke to this....
 The cardinal flowers that I had waited all summer for, finally blooming, showing their brightness in the morning sunshine!
 A yellow finch husking sunflower seeds like an old man does peanuts....
(His eye on the sparrow?)
 And boys.  Boys making pancakes.  (note the storm trooper "flipper")  Boys that greet each day with a freshness that is contagious.  (Morning by morning new mercies I see...)
 And then later in the week....the boy who all last summer and this season too...just couldn't find the courage to join in at soccer, yet desperately wanted to go each time.  Such a struggle, maybe more for the mama than the boy.  And finally, as if I was the most forgetful of all children, finally after many many times of struggling with this...I mumble this weak prayer to the one who fixes hearts...(please help him, Lord) and then the very next time...this!  Out there the whole game!  Smile on his little brown face!

Perhaps we manage all of this crazy goodness by just accepting the Grace?  With open hands.  And we keep going.  Trusting that our ship will come to no harm that He doesn't have providence over.  That no struggle will be too big for Him to guide us through.  That even though we don't always understand, we can trust that He is good.  He is love.  We are loved.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Trip!

J and I and our l'il troop headed to Door County this past week!  We spent four days seeing the sights, visiting with family, and I think we all enjoyed it very much indeed.  Here are a few of the highlights....
 Port Jackson's beach...
 finding crayfish with cousins....
 papa and hen...hen LOVES the water....
 Cricket....a relaxed and fun to be around traveler...
 Papa did a lot of carrying of the little guy, trooper that he is.   It's been really, really nice to have J with us for such a stretch of days.  I can't believe he has to go back to work tomorrow.  It's going to feel strange to be on our own again. (eek!)
 Bumming around the harbor....watching the boats....feeling the breeze....watching the water birds....

 walking on the pier....rain clouds rolling in....

the whole gang...perhaps a bit tired at this point?
 blue moon! (we stopped for ice cream at a place called the Chocolate Chicken)
 Bailey's harbor beach...Lake Michigan...
 It was storming off and on this day and the waves were awesome!
Bare feet.  Sandy beach.  Crashing waves.  A shore that beckons you to come and take a walk while the rain rolls in and your brothers laugh and skip rocks and go in the water too far for shorts because who can resist a wave like that?  

We did more traveling too.  On the ferry boat. (super fun!) Around the little towns and shops.  Spent time with cousins and grandparents.  J and I felt like we were on a date "over the kids heads" most of the time.  And I'll be honest, going on vacation with four littles is not really vacation when you are the mama.  But....seeing it all through their eyes...building these memories with's so worth it!  More than worth it.  And I'd walk anywhere with them.  With J.  Anywhere.