Tag Archives: kids

A Simple, Home-made Halloween–2017

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Yesterday, we celebrated Halloween.  Now, I must confess, Halloween is both Rob and my least favorite holiday.  For many, many years, we hosted an alternative harvest party of some sort, took the kids to one at church, or just did our own thing that night.  One time, in 20 years, we took the kids, including the nieces and nephew, trick-or-treating and we were completely worn out by the end, so we did not do it again.  To be fair, we tried to take them to every relative that lived within an hour’s drive of each other–lots of places, really far apart, nursing homes included, etc.   We were driving for hours, unloading them, visiting, and off again.  They were little, and it was just plain a lot of work.  All the relatives did enjoy the costumes, especially the elderly relatives who were in homes.  So, we went back to our regular ways.

However, when we got Patsy 4 years ago, Halloween was one of her most favorite things–a rare, good memory of times with her birth mother, a special evening she much looked forward to, a MAJOR BIG DEAL to her.  So, we decided that we would try to let her have some fun on that day/night, in a way we could all enjoy.  We saw no reason to remove one of the few happy memories/traditions she had from her past, but we did want to change the focus a bit from scary, gory, and dark to light, happy and fun.  In other words, keep the fun part, get rid of the rest.  To be truthful, we still don’t like Halloween much, but we do like our daughter and her feelings more than we don’t like Halloween, if you get what I mean.

For the past few years, we have spent the evening with the cousins.

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This year, Patsy was a princess, using an old dress I made years ago for Ja’Ana.  Alissa dressed up in her pajamas.  She recently got a job at a daycare for 2-1/2 hours each afternoon, and they were having the toddlers and staff wear pajamas Tuesday.  Jake, is Darth Vader, in a pair of pajamas, a cape, a mask and a light saber.  Just don’t call him that!  His name is Jake, and he is still under there, in case I was wondering:)

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Last year, Uncle Rob started a tradition with Michaela.  She really, really wants to be involved with the whole trick-or-treat project, but after all, she is 20 now.  Kind of old.  So, she and Uncle got a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and drove around, following Jake and his helpers (anyone who would get out of the van and take him up to doors, from his sister Caitlyn, to Alissa, and of course, Patsy).  This year, he also had Heath bars, Snickers, assorted candy, and Starburst in the van for all of the, well, helpers?  This year, again, she scarfed down candy, this time with Lovana (who isn’t actually eating much candy right now, to be fair to her), Caitlyn, Alissa, Ja’Ana, J’s friend Angel, Patsy……. Yes, a party in the van, all for the sake of Jake and Michaela.  Of course, Jake and Michaela.  Anything for Jake and Michaela.  Lots of eager volunteers for this task:)

Earlier in the day, Michaela and I had cut out the pumpkin cookies, and baked them.  Jake was offered the opportunity of decorating them, but he was too excited for the party to start.  So, Caitlyn and I decorated them.  My sister made a taco bar, and we had everyone eat dinner before Uncle took off with them.  I stayed back at the house with my sister and brother-in-law,  handing out candy.  It was fun to see the kids in their costumes, and admire the pumpkins my niece had carved.

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The kids coming up to the door enjoyed them, too, and she received a lot of compliments on her carving, which I passed on to her when she got back.

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Patsy lit up her pumpkin as soon as we got home.  It’s about done for, already, but that’s ok.  Another Halloween is past, and now we are moving forward towards Thanksgiving, one of my absolute favorite holidays in the whole world.  I can’t wait.

A Fun, Rewarding Day

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My sister, Rosalie, and I, Patsy and Ja’Ana started yesterday off with a very pleasant breakfast with my mom.  It was her birthday.  It was also Rob’s mom’s birthday:)  It’s always been funny to us that they both have the same birthdays.  He was able to go visit her later in the day and they had a nice visit, which he enjoyed very much.

After breakfast, my mom was off to have lunch with my aunt, niece and nephew.  We all teased her that she would be rolling home for dinner last night!  Then, the girls, Rosalie and I headed up to see our friends Harnet and Danait.

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Little Danait looked so cute in the dress I sewed, and you can see the one I made for Patsy on her.  I haven’t been able to sew very much lately, and I enjoy it a lot.  It was fun for me to see how much both girls enjoyed their dresses.  Donate kept looking around for Alissa, since she knows and loves her, but had a great time with Patsy and Ja’Ana.   Ja’Ana texted Alissa and A sent a photo, which seemed to satisfy Danait.  They took her outside for a while, played with her, and kept her busy.

In the meanwhile, Harnet had cooked her wonderful food for us, and after we had lunch, we ladies had a great time visiting, and working on some paperwork that needed to be completed.  There were 3 separate (LONG) forms that needed to be completed, and several documents to be gathered.  We also had to stay at the apartment, waiting for an inspector to come inspect, and then we would be free to go gather the rest of the documents we needed.

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So, we sorted papers and mail, quizzed Harnet endlessly for the answers that needed to be filled in on the forms, wrote them in, figured out what we needed, and visited and looked at pictures in-between.  The girls kept Danait busy, which we were very grateful for.

Finally, the inspector came, tested the smoke alarms, window locks, etc., and went on his way.  It was almost 4.  We were worried that we would not have enough time to gather all that was needed, so we divided and conquered.  I took Harnet and we roared from place to place, gathering documents.  Rosalie took the girls to a splash pad at a nearby library to have fun.

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We had success!  The places we went were not busy.  Everyone treated us like queens, offering us water and cheerful smiling help.  The whole time we were laughing and giggling like girls.  I think Harnet was so relieved to be getting this important paperwork done so smoothly and was so happy that Danait was able to be having such a good time while she did the work.  She was also getting a kick out of the fact that she had made her special coffee for us, and hyped me up pretty good on it!  I was pretty tired until I drank so much:)  She thought it was pretty funny.

While we were at the library, I explained about the summer reading program and we got Danait signed up.  We were also able to make a dental appointment on a day that Rosalie and I can be there to watch the little one while mama gets her teeth cleaned.

It was one of those feel-good days for me.  I got to spend time with both family and friends.  I got to feel like I helped someone get some very important things accomplished and I had a lot of fun while doing it.  I am getting to know Harnet as a person, and I feel like we are getting to be friends.

 

 

Summer Fun–Zoo Trip

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What a difference 4 days makes!  Today, when we went to the zoo, it was sunny and warm.  On Thursday, I was bundled up with 2 sweatshirts on, and we were carrying umbrellas.  Today, I did not even take a jacket with me.  Instead, we froze water bottles and took the ice-filled bottles with us and drank them as they unthawed.  Then, we re-filled them with water from bottle-filling stations I did not even notice on Thursday.  On Thursday, a picnic was out of the question, but today, it was the perfect option.

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Each person had an agenda today.  Michaela wanted to see big cats, and dressed in theme.   She even carried her 2 little stuffed cats around the entire day.   She was especially interested in the lioness she saw who was playing with a toy wrapped around a log in her enclosure.  What a treat to see the lioness being active.  Most animals were lying down today, because it was the first hot day in quite a while.

Jake wanted to ride the zoo train and eat.  He did both.  The zoo– once, the eating–all day long.  I was amazed as he isn’t usually so hungry.  Must be growing.

Patsy was a good sport and enjoyed all the animals we ended up visiting.  She had never been on the zoo train before, so enjoyed that especially.    I’ll probably slip up there one of these days so she can have a little more say-so in what she sees and where we go.   There were a lot of opinions floating around today.   The more we use the zoo pass, the better it is anyway, in my mind.

Rob and I wanted to keep everybody happy, hydrated, cool enough and fed.  We succeeded.  We took food with us that the kids like, several water bottles, took them to the misting areas 3 times, and negotiated between them all day long.   We also got Michaela to drink 3 full bottles of water.  Score!  (You have no idea what an accomplishment that is, but she is really trying to do better with that–we were so proud of her.)

Everyone wanted to go to “Africa” to see the big cats.   It was the primary goal, according to the kids. So, being the good auntie/uncle/parents we are, we started for “Africa” first thing.   “Africa” is harder to reach than you might think.  To get there, you enter the zoo, head down a big hill, stop and see the seals, continue on, have Michaela notice that there are tigers to the right, stop there and see a tiger and a leopard, have Jake notice that the train is running, stop and ride the train, have everyone want lunch, so stop and eat our picnic, have someone notice the insect and discovery area, go in there for a l-o-o-o-n-g time, and then notice that it’s already getting scorching hot and it’s afternoon.  Already.  So, you head off for “Africa” again, but there are the bats….and Jake has the zoo key….and there is one of the recorded messages about bats…..and you finally head off for “Africa” again.

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We finally succeeded in reaching “Africa.”  Jake picked the smallest lion statues to sit on, mainly because they were in the shade.  By this time, the sun was scorching and the metal lion family was smoking hot.  So, we pried them away from the artwork and headed off to see live animals.  We went through the lions, gazelles, African exhibits, giraffes, and hippos.

When we exited that area, we found ourselves just in time for a bird show on the lawn.  It was very exciting to watch, as the birds swooped extremely low over the heads of the spectators sitting on the lawn.  We all enjoyed it.  Then, they could view the birds from a closer distance at the base of the stage.

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The sun continued to beat down on our heads as there was no shade on that lawn, and Michaela, especially, began to suffer from the heat.  She is more sensitive than many to the heat.  We continued to press water on her, and she obligingly drank it.  Still….we were next to the elephants, so headed on over there.  By the time we had viewed them, we were all fried in the heat, and decided to start meandering towards the car.  Rob and I figured we would stop and see more animals on the way, but the kids were done, especially Michaela, who was not feeling very well in the heat by then.  So, we headed back up the hill, stopping frequently to coax the children along–offering drinks and lots of rest stops.  There was no food left by then, so we promised more once we got in the car.   There was another misting station at the top, so they got wet again.  Patsy and Michaela had birthday money burning holes in their pockets, so they revived at the gift shop and bought souvenirs.

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When we left the zoo, the air-conditioned car and the book-on-cd were both welcomed.  The cool drinks and snacks we bought were, too.  We stopped off on an errand and then headed home.  Everybody was happy, healthy, and they all want to go back.  No one got sunburned, as far as I know.  The sunscreen we used was powerful enough.  Whew!  I was a little worried as the day wore on.

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That’s how we like to leave a trip like this–with everyone hungry for more, including the adults.  In fact, Jake asked if we were coming to take him somewhere tomorrow, but we informed him that Mom and Dad didn’t have to work tomorrow like they did today, so it was their turn to spend time with him.  He was diplomatic enough to groan dramatically.   How gratifying!  We are, however, looking forward to the second half  of the week when we are spending all day, every day together while Mom and Dad head off to an out-of-town wedding.  So, I assured him that “many fun things” were in store for him, and they are—-for all of us.  It was a great start to summer.

 

 

 

Birthday Tea Party

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Today was the first birthday party we are hosting this week.  Here’s how we made it simple, affordable, yet very nice.

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I started by giving Patsy a handful of invitations I had saved when we moved.  She wanted a small, special party so I have plenty from another occasion in my card bin.   We chose a day after school when I knew I would have plenty of time to get ready during that day.  She handed them out about a week and a half ago.  Although we asked for RSVP’s, we only got one firm one, and a couple of “iffy” ones.  So, we were not quite sure how many to expect.  Then, I dug around in the cupboards and pulled out fancy dishes.  These little luncheon tea plates are from garage sales and a junk store and I have had them for about 20-30 years.  There are a couple that match, but mostly they are different floral patterns.  I have 8 or 9, and got 4 chosen and washed and the others set aside in case we had any surprise guests that forgot to tell Patsy they were coming.

We are still quite new here, and had to also face the possibility that we would have only 1 girl, or even none if something prevented her from coming.  There was a lot of anxiety going around here this morning.  I was very proud of Patsy.  It’s hard to keep trying and trying in life when there are lots of changes, and so much history of disappointment in the past.  But, she was brave, and my prayers were answered.  In the end, 3 girls ended up being able to come.  They were delightful young ladies, and I enjoyed them very much.  Patsy was so happy.

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Alissa and Ja’Ana helped get ready this morning.  They also worked a bit on school.  They are almost done, and have very little to complete.  Alissa brought decorating supplies and worked on the cupcakes.

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She had frosted cupcakes I had baked and frozen last week.  She added the candies on top, and we picked and added violas to make it special.  We put Baby’s Breath on the fancy dish and…..gorgeous and special for pennies.

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I bought 1–$5 bunch of Baby’s Breath.  I used teapots I own, and roses and violas from the yard.  I put one bouquet on top of the piano and one on the table.

 

I used a tea cup and put one in the bathroom to take the elegance even further.  No extra money involved.IMG_4637

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We bought some fancy mints and candy from the bulk bins at Winco.  We used sugar cubes in the sugar bowl.  The girls were excited about the cubes.  They emptied half the bowl.

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Ja’Ana and Alissa worked on the chocolate and white chocolate-dipped strawberries.  I bought one carton of berries and a few melting chocolate disks from the bulk bins at Winco.  Alissa brought some red sugar to use as well to make them even prettier.

I worked on pickle rolls.  They are very simple.  You spread cream cheese onto lunchmeat and put a pickle on it, then roll up and cut into circles.  It is a family favorite at holiday times and Patsy wanted the treat for her birthday party.

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I worked on little sandwiches, too.  I cut white bread I got on sale for 69c for the loaf into circles with a biscuit cutter.  I threw away the edges.  If I was not gluten-free, I would have made crumbs from them, but we have no use for regular bread crumbs around here.  I just make and use gluten-free ones.

I used some of the circles for cream cheese/olive open faced sandwiches.  Then, I added 1/4 piece of turkey pepperoni on top.  I spread cream cheese, then placed 1 cucumber slice and a piece of dill on the rest.  I also made some egg salad sandwiches from whole pieces of bread.  I cut the crusts off  and cut into quarters.  I used fancy toothpicks for those.  I also made a veggie tray in a fancy dish.  Snow peas, the remaining slices of cucumbers, celery, carrots, and cherry tomatoes filled it nicely.

The last thing I served was zucchini chocolate chip bread, baked and frozen last week.  I also made 2 pots of tea.  I let them choose and they chose Chai and Peppermint.  That was easy enough, using my insta-hot on my sink.  We used 4 tea bags, total.

The girls visited for a bit.  They then proceeded to polish off almost ALL of the food on the table.  How gratifying!  I was very pleased that they were so verbally appreciative,  polite, and apparently very hungry!  Afterwards, they went outside and played croquet on the lawn until it was time to go home.

The items I made this food from were all inexpensive, common ingredients.  It was the fancy dishes, the flowers, and making all the food tiny, decorated and fancy that made the tea party seem special. I did as much of it ahead of time as I could, even freezing a couple of items last week. I shopped yesterday for the things I needed.   I washed dishes as I went, and then put all the fancy dishes away directly after the guests went home.  I cleaned the house first thing this morning and some more after lunch.  That is something that would just have to be re-done if I did it too far ahead:)

I made a list of food I wanted to serve on the whiteboard as I thought of it, and then used the list to shop and cook.  I bought dill and used it more than once to get the best use of my purchase.  I did the same with the Baby’s Breath.  I figure if I’m going to buy it, I want to use it a lot.

So, I’m very tired, but satisfied and happy.  Patsy had a great party, I did not break the bank, we DID have some girls come to the party and they had a great time, my house is clean, and I have bouquets of flowers to look at.  I should sleep well tonight.

 

 

 

Camlann Medieval Village–Homeschool Field Trip

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This weekend, we took the kids to Camlann Medieval Village.  It is a living history village about an hour from Seattle, Washington.  Both our family and Alissa’s family went together, and we took all of the kids, not just the homeschooled ones.  We had a blast!

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The blacksmith entertained Michaela by putting arrowheads he had forged on her fingers and then they roared like wild animals.  He was so patient with her, and explained the whole blacksmithing process to all of us who were watching, but took extra time with an enamored Michaela.

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One of the cottages had a fiber display.  It was very interactive, and the guide spent a great deal of time with the girls I was with, and let them weave on this loom.

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Jake and Patsy had a great time feeding the sheep.

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My sister, Gail, the field trip queen, chose this weekend to go because there was a May Day festival going on.  There are other festivals at other times of the year, and some weekends are “village” weekends.  It was explained to us that on festival weekends they hire entertainment such as the magician who did a show, musicians, and a few others.  Those people are not there and one lady told me there were even more displays explaining village life and how they made things on the non-festival weekends.  At 3:30, because it was a May Day festival, there was a Maypole dance for those who wanted to participate.  Michaela, Patsy and Alissa wanted to dance it and we all enjoyed watching them.

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It was a lovely day, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

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This little guy had a stick and was WAY too cute, joining in with the musicians as they played for the Maypole.  Earlier, his mother had been a guide for the cottage where we learned about daily medieval life.  She was SO in character, and SO convincing, that Michaela exclaimed afterwards, “I had NO idea that the people really lived here, in these houses!”  She was very sincere, but was fine with it when her mama explained that these people were actors and actresses who were playing a part and were told to say those things, like in a movie.

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This little cutie was the daughter of the lady who made the flower wreaths that Alissa and Patsy wore.  She happily played with my sister, Gail, for a while as her mother was busy braiding flowers.  She had a designated babysitter, but was very friendly to Gail, too.

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There was an archery demonstration, and later on, those who wanted too could take a turn shooting.

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Jake sure wanted to!

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Alissa and her dad, Ron, both decided to goof around and sit on Rob’s lap when their legs got tired:)

There was a restaurant, where Ron and Gail got a little bite to eat, as they had not had their lunch, yet.  There were things like “fungus” (mushrooms), and stew of some sort with a medieval name.  They said it was delicious.  Later in the evening, there was going to be a medieval feast, but we chose not to participate.  It is reservation only, something you need to know if you ever go and do want to participate.  I’m sure it would have been a great experience since it included both food and entertainment, but many of our kids are not good eaters, and the expensive feast would have been wasted.  Instead, we went to a pizza parlor in the nearby town of Carnation, and everyone pigged out on their preferred foods.  They even made Michaela a peanut butter pizza, which was basically bread with peanut butter on it, placed in triangles on a pizza board.  She was so happy, as her food choices are very limited.  Then Ron and Rob took the big kids to the movies, and Gail and I stayed back with Jake and Michaela, and just rested.  Ahhhhh….

This morning, Rob and I drove Lovana, Alissa, and Ja’Ana back in time for Driver’s Ed class, which started at 2.  Ron and Gail took Jake, Michaela and Patsy to the Space Needle, then brought them home a little later.  We had a fun, action packed weekend, and hopefully, everyone learned a little bit more about medieval times.  The village was small, there were no huge crowds, and the guides were very patient, kind and knowledgable.

 

Valentine’s Day and a Birthday

Yesterday, we did Home Economics. 2 cakes were made.  First, as a group, we mixed up a double batch of Gluten-free sour cream chocolate cake batter.  The girls cut out waxed paper to fit into the bottom of the pans and then sprayed them with non-stick spray.  The cake layers were baked.  They came out of the pans easily with the waxed paper liner.

After they were cooled, they frosted them with chocolate buttercream frosting and decorated them however they wanted with the supplies they could find in the garage.  They did great!

Ja’Ana’s cake was for her dad, for Valentine’s Day.

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Alissa’s cake was for her mom (the G is for Gail) for her birthday, which is the day after Valentine’s Day.

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I was amazed at how nice they looked!  Of course, we are all helping Rob eat his, and it tastes great!  We even got about 6 or 8 cupcakes as well from the leftover batter.  It made a lot.

We went down to the farm store and bought some flowers and some potting soil.  We used a pot I had, and the girls planted flowers in it as a birthday gift from all of us.  They chose the colors carefully and it turned out great.  They also got a flower for my aunt (their great aunt), and some chocolates for Grandma.  Last evening, Alissa babysat her siblings so her parents could go out for dinner for Valentine’s and got up super early to give her mom breakfast in bed for her birthday.

It was a gorgeous day, and I love how we spent it.

Another International Homeschool Day

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Today, my sister Rosalie, and I took the girls to see Rosalie’s friend Harnet and her 2 year-old daughter.  You may remember that we have gone to see her before and I wrote about it in this post.  We also went for a day out around Christmas time.

Today, Danait remembered the girls fondly, looked forward to them and myself coming over, and played really well and interacted with all of us.  It was quite a change from first time when we went over there and she was very shy because she did not know us.  Rosalie always brings a balloon from the Dollar Store, and today was no exception.  We also took a bag of assorted coloring books and activities, such as stickers, that were sorted out from Alissa’s house.

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She loved them.  (The reason you will see lots of Alissa and no Ja’Ana is because she is catching that awful cold that we are passing around  and didn’t want her picture taken today–mostly she was very quiet and sat down a lot–poor girl!)

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Harnet made us a bunch of food.  Yum!  She carefully taught us how to make this red lentil dish.  Here’s how you do it:

Saute a lot of onions in oil.  (I didn’t see exactly how many, but it was between 2 and 3 cups)

Chop up 4-5 tomatoes and throw them in. (She said a can would work)

Add some oil.  (It was a lot–like 1/2 cup or even more–I’m going to try a bit less)

Cook all of this for a while until tender, stirring occasionally–about 1/2 hour or more.

Put in 1 heaping Tablespoon of Beri-Beri spice or 2 heaping Tablespoons of Beri-Beri paste

Add red lentils 1 or 1/2 cups. (She washed them well first)

Chop 8-10 garlic cloves and put them in.

1 jalepeno pepper, sliced into sticks.  (She said this can go in any time.  She did it toward the end)

Salt and pepper to taste.

She then added some water until there was about 1 inch of liquid above the solids.  She stirred ever so often and let it cook until soft–about another hour.  It may have been done sooner, but that’s when we wanted to eat.  We had it over rice and some of them ate it with injeera bread.

She also made some chicken and some beef, which were also delicious.  It was important to her to cook for us, and for us to eat a LOT!  She is so hospitable.  We did our best, which was easy, because it is delicious food, although very different than what we are used to.  It’s a little bit spicy, so sour cream or yogurt is offered  to cool it down.  I like it the way it is, but the girls take the sour cream.

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Rosalie and the big girls took Danuit for a walk and then played with her while Harnet and I worked on her homework for her classes in college.  We worked on English.  It was hard, and English is my first (and only) language.  We worked for about an hour and did not even get done.  After we left, Rosalie helped her finish.  She was so grateful because it is hard to get it done with Danuit “helping” and also she said it is just nice to be able to KNOW that she has the right answers instead of HOPING she is right.  She was telling us that she is studying for citizenship now, and hopes to take that test before too much longer.  I already respected her for her bravery and courage in coming to a new land.  I respect her even more as I get to know her and see how hard she is working to succeed here.

Then Harnet made us coffee.  She roasted the beans, ground them, heated milk, added tons of sugar, and served it to us.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but just can’t say no to that.  It has enough sugar in it that I can drink it and enjoy it.  There is a flavor to it that I can’t describe, but it’s a good flavor–very strong and sweet.

I brought embroidery supplies and started teaching her how to embroider a towel, because she wanted to learn.  We simply ran out of time before I had to head back home (over an hour away) to get to work.  So, Ja’Ana showed her how to find the DMC website with stitch instructions and pictures, and hopefully she will be able to get guidance from there.

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After we left, Rosalie took them shopping to an Ethiopian grocery store.  On the way home, Danuit fell asleep and stayed asleep on the couch while they finished the homework.  Yea!  The girls were awesome!  They wore her out!  They had so much fun, despite J’s cold.

I am so happy with how this whole experience is unfolding for the girls and myself.  When we go, we do not do any conventional schoolwork that day, but I feel they are learning so much.  They are making a connection with someone they would not normally cross paths with.  They are learning that they can make a difference in someone’s world, by the simple act of playing with a small child and some simple toys.  They are learning to respect someone with different ways of doing things, a different language, and a different culture. They are seeing that the world is so much bigger than their small arena.  I like to think they are very accepting of others, and I want that to grow in them.  I’m happy they are generous and take small presents, and can also see, and be grateful,  that Harnet and Danuit have much to offer them as well–things like a welcoming spirit, hospitality, kindness, and more–and that they have something to offer, too.   I love it that they are surrounded by strong women, such as their aunties, and I think they will probably not understand how much courage it took for Harnet to leave her homeland and come to America for a better life until they are much older, but I love that they will have that information to process when they are ready.  They are going to need courage and compassion and many other traits to be good women.  Today is one of the days that I love about homeschool because we have time for these kinds of lessons along with the more traditional ones we do most of the time.

Busy Kids=Happy Kids-Christmas Break 2016–part 4

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The fun continues around here!  This week is focused on my immediate family, so on Tuesday, we took the 3 girls to the beach.  The weather was extremely rainy, cold, and raw, so we didn’t go play in the sand, although Lovana had expressed an interest in doing that since it’s been a while since she has done that.  Instead, we took them to the Outlet Mall, and let them shop to their heart’s content.

On Monday, my 2 older girls went to the mall with the older cousins–it was quite a trip with Rachel, Caitlyn, Lovana, Ja’Ana, Alissa and my oldest daughter, Abbie (who is a great sport and actually loved being asked to join with the other cousins–she loves the younger girls and loves shopping…)  It sounds like they had a blast, although no one bought a whole lot but, instead, had fun being together.  Since Caitlyn will be returning to college in a few days, and Rachel will be heading off for a 6-month adventure soon, I was happy they could spend the time together.  Rob and I took Patsy to the YMCA to swim and I cleaned up a little from the Christmas mess.  I’m still not done, but it was a good day.

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The girls had all received some money for Christmas.  One gift promised them a trip to the outlet mall in Lincoln City (on the Pacific Ocean).  I got some, too.  We walked around the small mall, hunting for bargains.  Last year, we found incredible deals, like jeans for Ja’Ana for $1.  There were no deals that good this year, but we did find some things we liked for a price we liked.  I found 2 things I liked, a sweater for spring in a lavender color, and a sweater vest in patriotic colors.  I think they will brighten up some other clothes I already own.  I’m being very careful to not buy just for the sake of getting a good deal, since space is at a premium here.  I will be doing some more shopping later, as many of my clothes are showing the wear and tear that comes with wearing them so often.

The big girls found things they liked, also, in their 2 days of shopping.  Patsy dug out some long-hoarded birthday money and added it to her Christmas money and had a spending spree in her one-day extravaganza.  She enjoyed getting to buy what she wanted at the mall (clothes and jewelry and headbands), and spending a large chunk of her gift card at McDonald’s for fries, soda and a McFlurry.  Hmmmm.  Well, it’s Christmas, right?

We also enjoyed going out to eat at Mo’s, a favorite restaurant of ours that is found up and down the coast here in Oregon.  Throughout the day, the rain poured, with a ferocity that always amazes us, even though it is typical for this season at the beach.  Thankfully, it came in showers, and we were able to dodge the worst of them.  After a drive back home in the pounding rain, we were thankful to tuck ourselves away in front of our fire and enjoy the evening watching tv in our cozy living room, drinking tea and munching snacks we had been given for Christmas.  It was a good family day, and  we all enjoyed it.

Busy Kids=Happy Kids-Christmas Break, 2016-Part 3

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The last 2 days have been busy, and full.  On Wednesday, Rob helped my niece, Rachel,  move home to her parents’ house.  She is leaving on a big adventure to Ireland in January and does not want to keep her apartment for the 6 months she will be gone.  He kept our girls occupied with that project and some errands, and I kept Jake occupied.  We hung around his house all day.  Since Jake’s big sister came home from college late, late at night Tuesday, all of the big girls were exhausted, since they had gone to get her from the airport.  Jake did not go.   So, he kept me busy.

I had him do his usual chores, eat his breakfast, get dressed, etc.  Then, we did crafts and played with trucks, Legos, read stories and played games.  (I will say that his rules are definitely his own, but since I don’t care if I win, it works for me better than it does for Patsy, for instance.   We use various cars and little trains for markers. We have to drive them along in a certain way that only he knows and the rules change every minute.  About 1/2 way through the game, he is done, but as long as he had fun….)

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I’ve been having him try the Perler bead projects.  I was so proud of him. This penguin is the first one that no one had to finish for him.  He got it all!

Today, we did chores, etc., and some more crafts.  I had no idea he liked crafts so well.

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This is definitely the time to buy kid crafts.  I have been able to pick up several kits for 50% off, or even 60% off.  I shopped at JoAnn’s and Michael’s.  I got a lot of bang for my buck.  He wanted me to sit beside him most of the time, all day, both days, but it was mostly for company.  He loved doing the crafts.

So, this afternoon, Rob came, with the van,  and we went to the library where they were having an activity where kids could go from table to table making Christmas gifts.

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He made crafts until he had visited each station, and even made some things twice.  Who knew?  He also enjoyed visiting with Santa, who stopped by.  We even got an Amelia Bedelia book, as he has begun to enjoy that character.

While he and Patsy made crafts, the big girls (all 4), wandered through the huge library, enjoying themselves.  It was good to spend time with Caitlyn as she isn’t home very often.

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We couldn’t resist a photo shoot in the remaining pile of snow in the library parking lot.  It’s the closest she got to the fun of the big snow, since she goes to school in southern California.  The only piles left are where people plowed or shoveled it into heaps during the storm.  It worked for her!

Once we did an errand for Alissa, bought a few more crafts for tomorrow, the library, and picked up some photos Rob had ordered from Fred Myers, several hours had passed.  The afternoon was awesome, and I have to admit that french fries were involved.  Tomorrow, I will spend another day with the kids, again focusing on Jake, and then I have next week off from such structured activities.  We will still see one another, but their mom and day and big sister are going to keep Jake happy and busy since they all have the week off,and I’ve got a few things planned for Rob and my girls to do a few of the days, plus at least 2 family dinners.  Fun all around!

 

 

Busy Kids=Happy Kids, Christmas Break 2016, Part 2

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Want to keep them busy and interested?  Sign them up for a squid dissection class!  That’s just what we did today.  We spent the day at OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  My sister, Gail (Alissa’s mom) is the field trip guru.  She put together a day for all of our kids, plus some friends.  Some of the kids are homeschooled and some go to various schools, but they all had the day off because of Christmas break.

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We had no idea that our little friend would enjoy dissecting, but she had a blast and held her own!

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The boys had a great time, too (I promise–he just looks a little sober in this picture)

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After the kids finished their class, we had some time to wander around OMSI and eat our lunches.  I was so glad to have a knowledgable person in charge of the dissection, and that that is checked off the Biology list!  Then, we watched 2 movies, D-Day and Jerusalem, on the OMNI Max Screen.  After that, we wandered around the museum for a while, enjoying exhibits, then headed home.  It was a great day, and the movies fitted in so well with what we’ve been studying in history.  We are just finishing World War II, and the movie brought it to life.

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Happy kids = happy moms!  I was so glad to see some of my friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, spend time with family, and give the kids such a great learning experience.  It was a great day.