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, August 28, 2017

Back to School

So here I am, all by myself.  No excuse for not blogging now, eh?

These guys started school a week ago.  This is actually their second day of school.

Brianna had Senior Sunrise on the first day.  Boy sent me this picture.  He earns major points with me for sending me photos.

Miss Hannah, first day of 5th grade.  She's been to school before, having attended the local public school for K-2nd grade.  So she's adjusting to a new school, but not the idea of going to school.  She's pretty adaptable.  I'm not worried about how she'll do.  She'd already made a friend of one of the other 5th grade girls at orientation night, and she knows one of the 4th grade girls in her 4/5 combo class, too.

Miss Katie, first day of second grade.  Oh my heart!  Love that gap toothed smile.  She's getting so big.  This is Katie's first time going to school, so it will be an adjustment.  It's such a blessing that she's in a class of EIGHT kids.  She won't get lost in the crowd at this little school.

Today is Jack's first day of 8th grade.  Probably not an easy grade to start classroom school for the first time ever.  I'm anxious to hear how it goes for him.  I'm looking forward to the ride from his school to Eli's school, where he'll be up front with me, and I can hear all about it.

Backpacks full of every school supply imaginable.  Lunchboxes packed.  And they're off!

Meanwhile, I'll just hang out here and frost some First Day of School cupcakes.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Matter of Trust #bookreview

Do you remember when I shared about Wild Montana Skies and Rescue Me?  Great books, I hope you've had a chance to read them by now.  Today, I'm back with Book 3 in the Montana Rescue series, A Matter of Trust.

Susan May Warren creates a network of likable characters, and highlights a few of them in each book in her series, but you get to check back in with old favorites, too.  Although A Matter of Trust is a Book 3, you can absolutely read it as a stand alone book and not feel "lost" without the backstory.  However, you'll end up feeling so strongly about the characters, you'll go back and read the others, too, so you might as well start at the beginning!

One of the reasons I'm finding this series so fascinating is because it takes place in such a foreign-to-me setting.  I'm a suburban housewife.  The most dangerous thing I do is drive on the freeway.  The members of PEAK Rescue put their lives on the line, both for each other and for complete strangers all the time.

A Matter of Trust is full of adrenaline and intrigue.  Someone on the team is not who you think.  The relationships are complex and evolving.  You have Gage, who is a really amazing skier, but he's still grappling with mistakes in his past.  Pete and Jess, who still haven't figured out if they're "just teammates" or not.  And Brette the reporter who knows there must be a story here somewhere.  Then there's Ella, who had a complicated run in with Gage a few years ago, and now she's just trying to keep her younger brother from self destructing, but the only one who can help her do that, is Gage, of course.

The tension and the drama are enticing.  This is one of those books you just can't put down.  You know, the sort of book that makes your chest ache as you read, hoping that things will work out?

I'm really looking forward to Troubled Waters, Book 4, which comes out in January.  Looks like we'll finally find out the rest of Esme's story, and how things work out (or don't!) between Sierra and Ian from Book 1.  If you plow through the first 3 between now and then, check out some of Susan May Warren's other books.

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My Goal for the School Year

Please tell me I'm not the only woman with leftovers of various cupcake papers in my kitchen cupboard.  You know how it is...  you buy a 36 pack of birthday papers, and you make 24 cupcakes.  The other 12 papers go up in the cupboard.

Lemon poppyseed muffins, pre glaze, in birthday, Valentine, and Halloween papers.  

Now, I seem to be incapable of recalling this when I stand in the baking aisle.  "Oh look!  Easter cupcake liners!" (or whatever the upcoming holiday is)  I blithely toss a pack in the cart, because I think I'm going to make holiday cupcakes or muffins, which is, in itself a whole different fallacy.  Never does it occur to me that I have leftover Easter liners lurking in my kitchen like the ghost of holidays past.

This situation was compounded when my mother cleaned out her kitchen.

My mother, the cupcake queen.

I have memories of taking those monstrous 1970s Tupperware cupcake keepers to school, back when you could actually take home baked goods into a public school classroom without everybody getting their gluten free knickers in a knot.  Birthdays meant being admonished 47 times, "Don't forget to bring home my cupcake keepers!"

Fast forward to when I started having kids, and my mom became Grammy, and started baking cupcakes for them.  She did this for quite a while, and I can only assume that she bought papers like I did.  Because when she cleaned out her cupboard and brought me her collection of sprinkles and papers, let's just say, it was a sizable collection.  I promptly put them in a high cupboard and shut the door, but every once in a while, Paul opens that cupboard and gives me a hairy eyeball.  The poor man is a minimalist.  And only one of the children takes after him.  The rest are pack rats like me.

To my loyal readers (you know, all like 8 of you), it's been pretty obvious that I've been going through an identity crisis lately over this whole not homeschooling any more thing.  I've been thinking about what kind of school mom I want to be, and one of the things I came up with was after school snack time.  Normally, I bring the teens home and they tear through the kitchen like locust, buzzing down everything in their path and then retreating to their rooms in a state of stupor.

In an effort to make the chaotic time right after getting home from school more pleasant, I decided I'd have snacks waiting for them, and they could decompress and talk about their day.  --And perhaps if I define "snack" as a muffin or two, instead of the whole kitchen, we'll actually buy less food?

Since the high school kids started a week before the younger kids, Jack has been helping me bake muffins each day, and I've decided something.

My goal for the school year is to use up all the cupcake papers.

Not to be the most active mom on the PTA, not to have the kids with the highest grades, or see them all get perfect attendance awards.  Not to never forget an important project, a jacket, a lunchbox, or even a child (although I'd really like to make it through the year without forgetting to pick anybody up from anywhere).  I know I'm going to fail at so very many things this year.

While using up all the cupcake papers may seem like setting the bar really low, it's more about what it represents for me.  1) it will please Paul to have one.less.thing. in the house; 2) I may actually bust out a cookbook and try some new recipes, something I haven't done in years; but most importantly, 3) it will create a welcoming place for my kids at the end of the school day.

Using up the cupcake papers says to my children, "I was thinking of you while you were gone."

"I care about you.  I know you're hungry.  I made this for you."  And if I can convey those things to my children, if they know that, after school, I will listen while we nosh together, then I will consider this school year a success.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Hair, Cats & Eclipse

The school requires that hair be "a natural hair color" --not the student's natural hair color, mind you, just a color that occurs in nature.  So Bri's fun blue/green/lavender summer hair had to come to an end.

First she got it cut.

Then she did the new color.  It's really cute.  It suits her well.

Looks like someone took a selfie while I wasn't paying attention to my phone.  We started watching Band of Brothers.  We being Paul and I, Brianna and Boy, Josiah and Eli.

Spent another day helping with the feral cat spay and neuter clinic.  This kitten cracked me up in recovery.

This week I got to learn how to take their temperature, and how to blow dry them if they were too cold.  I also administered Karo for those who were slow to awaken.

Sometimes they really don't want to come around at the end of the day, like this little one, and they have to have another shot to reverse the effects of the anesthesia.

After dropping high schoolers off, we stopped at the donut shop.

School starts for these little sprinkle munchers next week.

Like the rest of the nation, we looked to the skies Monday.  I'm glad they weren't in school yet.  It felt like one last homeschool experience.

Being in northern California, we saw a crescent sun at the peak of the eclipse.

"The sun looks like a banana!"

We talked about pinhole projections and played with shadows.

I shared glasses with a couple of the neighbors as they passed by.

And now our 10 pack of eclipse glasses, minus the pair that Katie was chewing on (!?) will sit in a drawer until Paul finds them and asks why on earth we're keeping them.  No pun intended.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

DaVinci's Machines in Motion at the Aerospace Museum

If you're thinking, "Haven't you guys been to the Aerospace Museum before?" you're right.  Almost a year ago, actually.  We went on a field trip there right before Josiah left for boot camp last September.  You can read about that here.  But the DaVinci Machines in Motion exhibit is there for another week or two, and I wanted the kids to see it.  My older kids vaguely remember it from the last time it was there, several years ago.

I think Hannah should have been on a step stool for this picture.

We decided to go outside and look at the airplanes first, before it got too warm.  This is a retired Blue Angel.

Some of the planes were open for people to go inside, which the kids really enjoy.

There's a lot of buttons and gauges in the cockpits!  Makes me appreciate the skill needed to be a pilot.

Jack has decided he wants to be in the Coast Guard someday, so I figured I'd take a couple pictures of him with one of the Coast Guard planes, on the off chance I can use them to embarrass him a little later in life.  Because that's how we roll.

The next 5 years are going to fly by, and he'll grow up and pick a direction, whether that's USCG or not.  This coming year will be full of change for him, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he's at a year from now, but I'm a little nervous about the growing pains between now and then.

But enough of my maternal ramblings, back to airplanes.

Inside one of the Coast Guard planes.  Yes that's Boy and Brianna in the back row.

Hey, look!  I was there, too!  After leaving the Walk For Love and realizing there wasn't a single picture from that event with me in it, I'm trying to be more intentional about getting in some of the photos, instead of always being behind the camera.

I'm sure there's some fascinating scientific explanation for all the long noses on the jets, but I don't know what it is; I just wanted to touch it.

Brianna touched everything.  Wings, propellers, noses.  It's okay, we used hand sanitizer before snack time.

One of the D Day planes with invasion stripes.

It was like touching a piece of history.

Although this is an air museum, there are a couple vehicles, too.  Jeeps, a fire engine, an army ambulance.

This little guy is new, and we were told that it's the only one that was made.  It belonged to the Air Force, and is a turboprop.

This was actually the first picture that I took when we arrived, before the high school kids dispersed (I can't say "teens" any more now that Jack is 13!)  On the left is Eli, his friend A, and Katie.  On the right we have Boy, Brianna, Jack, and Hannah.

This was Leonardo's precursor to the modern day tank--which would not be a reality for another 400 years.

He was obsessed with coming up with a way for man to fly, and several of his inventions deal with flight.

While the leather swimming mitt (perhaps inspired by webbed duck feet) never took off, the life preserver is still in use today.

The show DaVinci's Demons (affiliate link) is not at all to be taken as historically accurate, but there were a few points from his known life that showed up among the wildly imaginative story line.  

A display dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, the squadron of black pilots, navigators, bombardiers, etc. of WW2.

Soon, we'd played with many of the hands on exhibits and seen most of what there was to see, and it was time to make a quick pass through the gift shop and head out.

There's a great space themed park next door, so we all had a snack and then the kids played for a while before having to get back in the van again.

Boy bought a little airplane model glider thingie and assembled it while we munched.

The many ways up and down make this the perfect park for chasing games.

I love that these two humor me when I ask to take their picture.

Not all of the youth are as agreeable about photos.

Eli's been in a no pictures phase for a while, but this was too cute not to share.

They're adorable together.

I'm excited for Katie to have PE at school this year, so she can start learning playground games and sports.  She's more physically active than Hannah is, and may be more interested in doing a team sport later on.  And I think it's awesome that she can climb a rock wall in a dress.

After playing for a while, we left so Brianna and Boy would have time to go get haircuts.  A good time was had by all, and it was nice to have a sort of "final field trip" before the high schoolers head off to school on Monday.

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