A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Foster Kittens and Face Masks


I've been keeping track of my mask production in a composition book, and I did some counting yesterday and discovered I've made 363 masks, with more cut out, and I've given at least 60 away. 


(Sam and Annaliese's masks were made by me.  Eli's mask was not made by me, but I have sent him a couple, now that he has a new address.)


I love the horrified look on Grumman's face in this picture. 


This is Tobias/Toby.


And this is Murphy. 


They're staying with us for a couple weeks until they can get altered and adopted. 


It has been a sweet and welcome distraction to have baby kitties in the house again.


Although, when my lap is the nap location, I'm obligated to sit still until they're done napping, so I'm not getting all that much accomplished. 


I'm more or less okay with that.  These guys have had their issues.  We're doing eye drops twice a day, and they just finished a round of antibiotics, but surprisingly Grumman has come around to the idea of them being here.  He was totally freaked out by the kitten we fostered last year, so this is good progress.  He's been sparring with them, and I even noticed a little social grooming.  I don't think we'll see them napping in a pile by the time they leave this week, but it gives me hope that Grumman may not have to be an only child forever. 


So, now that we're no longer matching lipstick and nail polish (not that I ever was, really), how about matching your face mask to your shoes?  Grumman had to get in the shot to see/sniff what I was up to.  Notice the kitten scratches on my foot?  My legs pretty much look like that from the knee down. 


We're getting really close to the end of the school year.  Katie's math assignments this week were "play a math game."  So I had her do online drills (xtramath.com) and use geometry and spacial reasoning skills to fit the pattern blocks into the hexagon tray one day...


...and the triangle tray another day.


Photo from Zach.  They're settling in to their new place, and the boys went fishing and Brayden caught a fish!


Eli made it through a weird COVID version of boot camp.  He's now an Airman!  Proud of my boy, but missing him, as well.  Very disappointed that we weren't allowed the graduation experience that we had with Zach when he became an Airman.  But he's healthy, and waiting to start tech school, and I hear from him more often now that he has his phone back. 

Remember our twin visitors from a couple years back?  Well, times are hard for their family, so I cleaned out the girls' closet and took them over 3 bags of clothes to replace a load of mildewed laundry.  On a slightly related note, I took 2 loads of baby/kid clothing/supplies to our crisis pregnancy center, since they're one of the only organizations in the area accepting donations right now.  Most of this was stuff I'd been hanging on to since the twins left, "just in case" Paul changed his mind about fostering.  I let it go because 1) that doesn't seem to be happening, and 2) I'd rather have someone be able to use those things than have them sit here and make me sad. 

With all the crazy guidelines being floated about school for the fall, we're still contemplating what The Plan will be for our students.  I'm open to homeschooling, as I know it would be far easier than the "distance learning" nonsense we've done the last couple months.  We'll see! 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hiking The Grand Mesa


Anyone else really bummed about the libraries being closed for quarantine?  I miss easy access to books.  So I was thrilled when the opportunity came for us to review Hiking the Grand Mesa!


I asked Katie to tell me about the book, and she said, "At first, Cooper was sad because he couldn't see his friends and family," and I thought to myself, wow, that's really relatable these days.  "But then, they explored, and had an adventure, and it was really fun."


Although Amazon lists Hiking the Grand Mesa for ages 5-7, older children will enjoy it, too.  The vocabulary is challenging, and there are lots of words to each 2 page spread. 


Even though we may not be able to travel to distant places physically right now, we can still visit them in books like Hiking the Grand Mesa.


Join Clementine on a Desert Adventure in the Colorado Dobies! 

Join Coover, Conrad and their mighty dog, Clementine, as they explore one of the most unique landscapes in southern Colorado--the Grand Mesa! Their grandma takes them to the Dobies, a series of steep hills made from adobe clay that formed as the nearby volcanoes, now extinct, eroded. At first, Coover feels a little sad and lonely, but as he is introduced to the rich wildlife--from woodpeckers to toads, cattails and sunflowers--he feels stronger and more confident. As both boys tramp through their imaginative journey, the vivid history and beautiful scenery awaken them to a new world full of possibility and friendship. By the end of the day, everyone is happily exhausted and ready for the next adventure!

"Barbara Torke's ebullient paintings set a joyful mood as two adventurous boys and their valiant dog explore the ecology of the Colorado Dobies, an emotional landscape that at first seems barren and solitary, but, as the boys learn, is full of life. The story is about how imagination and companionship defeat loneliness, and the beautiful illustrations provide the rich texture of a vibrant journey of friends learning how to thrive." --Sarah Treschl, Kurt Johnson award winning writer

"A fun and insightful adventure with vivid visual descriptions and language that engages and challenges readers--both young and old. The paintings leap off the pages and into your imagination. A poetic and visual treat!" --Marisa Donnelly, author of Somewhere On A Highway 

"Hiking the Grand Mesa comes to life in every sentence--brilliant images, constant movement and supportive interactions as the characters explore nature, enjoy each other's friendship and build upon shared imaginations. What a wonderful reading experience! You can share the adventure with everyone in your family, young and old!" --Steve Staley, professor, author and grandfather

Be sure to check out the first in the series -- Ice Breaking: The Adventures of Clementine the Rescue Dog

From Loving Healing Press www.LHPress.com

Available to buy from...

Page from Hiking the Grand Mesa: A Clementine the Rescue Dog Story by Kyle Torke and Barbara Torke
ALSO AVAILABLE
Ice Breaking: The Adventures of Clementine the Rescue Dog
Join Clementine on a Winter Adventure in the Great Outdoors! 

Clementine and her two boys set out for adventure on a snowy morning, mittens and imaginations in tow, and discover, among the many wonders revealed during a day outside, the miracles of cascading ice falls, a warren of rabbits, and golden fish in a frozen pond. When they return home, their imaginations are warm as a fireside!

"Ice Breaking brims with lively, engaging illustrations. I love a children's book with real art. Many modern children's books take shortcuts, but Ice Breaking is a book to keep on the coffee table to enjoy again and again." -- Markee Travis, Delta County librarian and artist

"Clementine the Rescue Dog steals the show from the humans during their fun romp, and she shows them how to climb the snowy banks of their imaginations. They delight, and you will enjoy their marvelous adventure!"" -- Steve Rabey, author of Star Struck and other books

"I love the softness portrayed in the illustrations. Clementine is incredibly expressive. The simple escapades of the children are enchanting and full of joy. What a pleasure to immerse ourselves in their play!" -- Carol McDermott, poet, teacher and school board member

"I am delighted to see Barbara Torke's humorous and expressive illustrations enhance the story of Clementine and her boys. The furry friends come alive in Barbara's creative hands: winter becomes welcoming and bright!" -- Maryellen Miller, artist, gallery owner and writer

From Loving Healing Press www.LHPress.com

Available to buy from...

About the Authors
KYLE TORKE: An adventure with children returns the adults in their company to a state of innocent wonder, and the transformative power of an alien landscape that forces us to look, really look at what is around us is a great joy. Grand Mesa is just such an adventure. As a writer, Kyle Torke hopes the best detail, the clear image, and the precise sentence will keep our eyes open as we read and then as we wander outside to see the world again-fresh now. He has published in every major genre (most recently a book of nonfiction, Tanning Season, as well as the first Clementine Adventure: Icebreaking!) and has taught at colleges and universities for nearly twenty-five years. He lives in Colorado with his family (wife Sarah and college-age sons Conrad, Coover, and Hunter and two canine friends, Nut and Bean). We encourage everyone to adopt from a rescue shelter and spay-neuter all pets! Take lots of walks and explore the world with children and dogs, our best guides.

You can also follow the author here...

BARBARA TORKE: A painting is a new lens on the world, a vitalized way of seeing the truth of flowers or people. We find our true emotions in the bursts of color and images that surface from our dreams and our daily interactions. Barbara Torke has been painting since she was a child on a farm on Colorado's Front Range, the great prairies. She studied art and education in college and has a BA and an MA. She taught art at the elementary school level for many years and now is a master teacher of other artists. Barbara lives on the Western Slope of Colorado, at the foot of Grand Mesa with her partner, Dale, and a bushel of cats. She has four children and five grandchildren, along with a multitude of dog friends and grandpets. She loves animals, camping, reading, swimming, and writing. Barbara is best known for her whimsical watercolors and pastels of dogs and pickup trucks. Learn more about Barbara's art at www.BarbaraTorkeArt.com.

You can also follow the author here...
Website    Author on Facebook    Goodreads   Amazon Author Page



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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Pictures, Masks, and Farewells


We had a hilarious little photo shoot in the back yard recently.


You may remember that Kylie (Zach's dog) destroyed our Hug A Planet globe.  Well, in my homeschool persona, I neeeeeed a globe.  And the kids needed outside toys.  So when I found a cheap pack of a dozen inflatable globes on Amazon, I ordered them.


Katie's class is only 7 students (including her) so I printed off these little notes for her classmates.  I hope it brings smiles to the other school families.  Have I mentioned that my Love Language is gifts?


I printed a calendar page of Lego challenges, and the girls have been stretching their imaginations with some guided building assignments. 


This was "design a spaceship."


And this was "Build a house for our family."


Remember Kylee?  She's Zach & Heather's dog.  They got a new puppy, who follows Kylee everywhere, so Zach asked if Kylee could have a sleepover at our house to give them a little break from each other. 


My military boys are very limited in what masks they can wear in uniform.  I was able to get a pack of solid fat quarters (it's a quilter's term to describe a certain cut of fabric), and make a few that fall within regulations.  These are Zach's. 


My Mother's Day present from Annaliese. 


We ordered dinner delivered from a Mexican restaurant in town on Cinco De Mayo.  Unfortunately, so did everyone else.  We didn't have a great delivery experience (missing items, an hour late, leaking foods...), but it was still tasty.  Mexican food is my favorite. 


We said goodbye to Zach and Brayden and Kylee and Colt (new puppy).  Heather went ahead to TX to set up the new house while Zach was unable to travel due to the DOD ROM order.  He finally got his waiver to complete the move they were supposed to make in March. 


Goodbyes are never fun, but I'm excited for him in this new stage in his career.  Hoping I can visit and see their new house next year. 


I've now made over 250 masks.  I'm on a little break right now, as I wait for more elastic to arrive.  I'm still cutting and ironing, though.  We've been able to donate masks to SPCA, Chicks in Crisis, and school personnel, in addition to passing out many to friends & family. 


The K'nex houses mentioned in an earlier post.  Hannah glued her paper doll onto a sheet of paper, so that was a little awkward.  Note the car parked next to the house.  I think that belongs to Katie's doll. 


Katie's paper doll house. 

The kids' school finally admitted that the children are not coming back this academic year.  We "distance learn" through the end of May.  Jack cleaned out his locker yesterday when we went to drop of completed work and pick up Katie's next packet. 

Good news!  Katie was approved for the grant we requested for a running leg!  Her prosthetist and I discussed it, and we're going to wait until things are less weird to start the casting process.  Races are cancelled right now, anyway.  No point making a leg she's going to grow out of before she can use it. 

Wishing you health and safety, as well as a good helping of grace toward one another in these strange times. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Our Week Learning About Mexico


We're hitting our stride now, getting into a "school at home" routine now, and I'm going to set aside the country studies for the time being, as the more official school work has gotten straightened out and is flowing at a reasonable rate. 


Speaking of home, my volunteer snapdragons are doing well.  Notice the cat in the window?  Grumman loves windows. 


One of Katie's projects was to follow directions to make an origami pinwheel.  Katie's work is assigned each weekend, and I've found that she does best when I write her assignments on the board each night, and she starts on it after breakfast the next day. 


Remember the paper dolls?  We did glue outfits on them (you can see one of them on the right side of the circle rug) and the girls made K'nex houses and cars for them as an engineering challenge. 


I was reading another blog recently and saw a MOM key chain as a Mother's Day gift idea.  I had an idea inspired by that.  Hoping to work on this project some more once my sewing room is more under control. 


We made a couple Figures In Motion, Queen Isabella of Spain and Michelangelo to go with our study of Spain and Italy. 


The school asked us to start recording 20 minutes of PE every day.  So I made them a couple bean bags to toss, and ordered them a ball and some sidewalk chalk.  When the ball arrived, I thought, "This is going to end up going over the fence."  So I wrote on it, in the hopes that it will come back to us when that happens. 


Speaking of outdoors, we've dined al fresco a couple of times now that the weather is nice here.  Josiah made spaghetti one night. 


I think the girls are over these coloring pages.  They're not making as much effort with them as they did at first.  Probably a good thing we're going to take a break from country studies. 


Even though the libraries are unavailable, we're still reading!  The girls read these (as well as other books) during the last couple of weeks.  I've now placed at least 3 book orders since The Big Q started. 


Oh look.  More masks.  :sigh:  I know I said I was about done, but I guess I was wrong.  I posted this picture on Facebook and got several more orders. 


Part of my problem is that it's really easy for me to go overboard on the cutting part.  The ironing part and the sewing part are less fun for me. 

Jack and Hannah are getting used to regular zoom meetings and Google Classroom assignments.  I'm getting used to, "Is _______ going to be joining us today?" and "___________ hasn't done their assignment," text messages.  It's a process, but we're figuring it out.  I'm hopeful that classroom schools will reopen in the fall, but Paul and I have started discussing our plan if that's not the case. 

Stay healthy, friends!  Let me know if you need a mask.