Locks of Love

I have wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love for several years, but I have always given up on growing it out just before it's long enough to donate.  I get tired of all that hair, taking care of it, little ones pulling on it, you get the idea.  I am excited to tell you that I finally stuck with, and after two years I had 13 inches cut off!  It is a little shorter then I expected, but, it will certainly grow back.  :)  (Hopefully not as long though!)  So here are the before and after pictures.

Ok, so neither is a great picture of me, but really, the after hair cut is way cute.  If you've ever considered donating, I highly recommend it, it was a great experience.

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Muffin Tin Meal- Truman's Aunt Farm

This weeks meal was super easy, because Truman feeds his aunts "rice pudding for breakfast, jelly sandwiches for lunch, and little hot dogs for supper."  Instead of spreading it out, we had the whole day in one meal!  (We don't normally do hot dogs, due to mommy's healthy eating principles, but I made an exception, and the little ones loved it.)  



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Week In Review: Truman's Aunt Farm

This week was amazing!  Since I plan out my books a month in advance, I've known for a while that we were going to be reading "Truman's Aunt Farm" by Jama Kin Rattigan for a while, and decided to try and add a little surprise for Bitsy and Manly.  Because we are far from family, and the little ones don't get to spend a lot of time with our extended family I emailed all of their aunts, and asked them to write a letter or an email for us to read with our book.  As luck would have it Daddy is the youngest of five, and I have one brother who recently got engaged, so we have 5 aunts, one for each day of the school week!!!  Gratefully they all sent a letter and some even sent pictures, which I hid at the back of the book each day.  (By Wednesday Bitsy was on to me, and would check the back of the book before we read, once she was sure there was a letter she humored me by reading the book first, and pretending she was surprised at the end.)  

We did lots of map work this week as a result of our aunts, because each day we moved our story disc to the location of the aunt we heard from.  

On Monday we learned about aunts and how we are related to them, and then read a letter from our Aunt Missy.  Aunt Missy is loved because she loves rice pudding, and so the little ones love it too.  We made some for our Friday meal, and the kids were sad she couldn't come and eat it with us.  As soon as we finished reading her letter Bitsy wanted to know if we could go see her, RIGHT THEN!

We also spent some time cooking, this is Manly making some blueberry muffin "batteries".  Isn't he cute?
 We also made popsicles for the first time summer, I can't believe I've been so delinquent!  We just used grape juice, but the little ones loved them.  We also made some out of leftover smoothie later in the week.
On Tuesday we went through the book and looked for different activities the aunts are participating in, and made a list, then as we read we listened to see if there were any we missed.  Of a list of 34 we spotted 26 before reading, not to bad!  After that we read our letter from Aunt Julie who told us about how much she loves to be outside, and Bitsy wishes she could live outside, so there was a serious bond there!

Wednesday is art day, and we did a little tractor painting.  I saw the idea over at Counting Coconuts, but didn't follow directions real well, so instead of putting the paint on the paper and running the tractor through, we put paint in containers, ran the tractor through, and then repeated with another color.  If you did it our way, don't use one of those wind up tractors.  :)  Manly kept running it backwards, because he doesn't really understand that that makes it wind up...  well, needless to say, he was a little yellow in the face when he picked it up out of the container before putting it on paper. 

Because I'm not a huge fan of messes, or spending money unnecessarily we use daddy's old t-shirts as smocks, and the lids to my jelly roll pans as trays, since we never use them on the pans.

We heard from Aunt Jessie that day, which was fitting since she is our family artist.  They need no further endearing to their Aunt Jessie, because they adore her already.  Instead of visiting her, they wanted her to come stay here.

We learned about postage, and counted change on Thursday for math.  I had made these little cards for Bitsy a few months ago to help her learn our address, so we brought them out again, and I let her "buy" 2 cent stamps that I had laying around to put on the cards.  She also lined the nickels, dimes, and pennies up to make a 4 out of them while she was sorting the coins.
We also used colored craft sticks to count by fives, since that is how Truman keeps track of all of his aunts.
We heard from Aunt Crystal  on Thursday as well, and since she used the word "silly" in her letter the kids were in love.  Unfortunately for her they have decided that since she is silly she should be like one of Truman's aunt who "could do back flips with her eyes closed."  So, Aunt Crystal, you may want to start practicing.  :)

Friday we wrapped Truman up being hearing from Aunt Liz, who they want to teach them "how to throw corn" since she mentioned corn toss!  Of course our week couldn't be complete without getting our very own ant farm.
The ants aren't included, so we have to mail off for them, but we're excited to see them when they get here.

In addition to all of our fun, Lettie has decided to stand whenever she can,
and give you the stink eye if she thinks you're going to try and take her cantaloupe away.

(Yeah, her cheeks were totally full!)
For our final shot, Bitsy got down a puzzle game we have that matches baby and adult animals.  She matched all of the animals up, and placed each card end to end like this, and then laid down to measure herself next to her line.  As you can see, it was pretty long.  It was amazing to watch her focus as she made the line straight.  (After the picture she actually moved some of the cards under her desk leg to make the line completely straight.)
We had a great week, and I really appreciate all of our aunts coming through to help.  We all really loved it.  

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Sunday Reflections

I'm not sure I have adequate words to explain my thoughts today, but I hope somehow the spirit of what I am trying to say will get through.

This week I had the chance to talk to a very dear friend, and as usually occurs after talking with her I reflected for a while on our conversation.  I have no way to tell you what a strength and blessing she is in my life, this woman is just so dear to me!  Her husband is away for work for an extended period of time, and their home is in a flood zone in the path of Hurricane Irene, so I wanted to call her and let her know we were thinking of her, and to make sure she was okay.  She has four beautiful children, the youngest of which is just a few weeks younger then Lettie, and just thinking about her going through this alone was overwhelming to me.  

As I talked with her I came to some realizations, the first was that while I often think, "If I was in that situation, I would just fall apart," that's actually not true.  I moved across the country in the middle of winter with a newborn, and two small children!  The truth is most of us are stronger than we realize.  That led to my next thought.  I am so grateful to know that that strength comes from my Savior!  As I talked to my friend she repeatedly said, "God will take care of us."  I know that she knows that is true, and while I don't know everything that she had packed up in the car, I know there was scripture in that car, and I know there was prayer all along the journey.  

The experience reminded me of a line from one of my favorite songs "Sometimes He Calms the Storm" by Julie De Azevedo, "Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms the child."  This week the Master choose not to calm the storm, but just as He calmed Peter, I saw Him calm my beautiful friend, and I know that He can calm us too!

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Mr. McGregor's Muffin Tin Meal

This week as we were reading "Peter Rabbit" the idea came to me to put together a lunch from Mr. McGregor's garden, and once I planned it out, it lent itself nicely to being put into a muffin tin.  So, we had another exciting Muffin Tin Meal this week.

We had blackberries, peas, a gold fish (courtesy of some apricot jam), beans, potatoes with parsley, and currants.  Since Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail had bread and blackberries, I made the fish out of bread so we could have more of the foods in the book.  

You can find more muffin tin meals at Muffin Tin Mom.

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Week In Review: The Story of Peter Rabbit

This was an exciting week for us.  The little ones already loved "The Story of Peter Rabbit", so I was interested to see their reaction to it.

On Monday we learned about England.  We looked through a book from the library, and although the text was dry, they enjoyed looking at the pictures.  We also read "Beatrix Potter" by Alexandra Wallner, and "My Dear Noel" by Jane Johnson.  Bitsy really liked reading "Beatrix Potter" and learning about her life, and they both liked "My Dear Noel", which is the story of how Peter Rabbit originally came to be.

Peter Rabbit lends itself nicely to lessons in friendship, and obedience.  We read 2Kings 5 to learn about why it is important to obey, even when we don't understand why, and we read in Luke 5 about the man whose friends cared so much about him they lifted him through the roof to have the Savior heal him.  I love when we can apply the lessons from our books so well to the lessons of the Gospel!

On Tuesday we learned what an onomatopoeia is, and Bitsy and Manly both pointed them out to me in other stories we read throughout the week.  It's so cute to hear little people say such big words!  :)  Just before school time I had a stroke of creativity, and decided to use our sensory bin to tell the story of Peter Rabbit, which was a lot of fun.

I really love when I have what I think will be a great idea, and the kids enjoy it too.

On Wednesday we made our own gardens, again, with the mysterious art kit pieces.  :)  Sorry I can't offer a link or name to it.

I only had one pre-printed scene, so I made the one for Bitsy out of a piece of thin cardboard, and green and blue scrapbook paper.

While they were playing outside they decided to expand on their art lesson for the day, and I found a mud pie just outside of my back door.  Normally this would have been the time I freaked out, but for some reason a calm came over me, and I decided to embrace the mud, so I went in and got them paint brushes.  In hindsight I guess I should have painted with them, maybe next time...
 Here is their finished masterpiece!
On Thursday we learned how long a fortnight is, and used dot paint and some calendar pages to demonstrate what we learned.  
I also made up little graphs so we could graph how long it would take for four plants from Mr. McGregor's garden to sprout.  If they were older we could have used it for skip counting, or days to maturation, but I decided to stick with sprouting for this time.  There are two columns on our graph, because one is for the length of time from the package, and the other column is for how long our plants actually take.
Since the packages had a range of days for the sprouts to appear, we used two colors on our graphs.  Bitsy chose blue for the smaller day range, and pink for the larger.

Finally on Friday we planted our own carrots, lettuce, radishes, and peas, so we can compete our graphs.
A neighbor was getting rid of an old dresser, so we recycled the drawers and made planters.  She came down with three of her little ones too, so they could plant as well.  Unfortunately, six children, dirt, and seeds distracted me, and I didn't get pictures until after all of the fun was over.  :(  Maybe next time.

Manly also played our feed the chicken game this week as well.  I got the original idea from Counting Coconuts, and then modified it a bit.  We didn't use chicken scratch, we used granola, and since my dice was missing, I used farm number cards 1-4 from Musings of Me's Farm Pack.  This pack is AMAZING, if you're interested.  I cut the cards out and laminated them, and then he "fed" each chicken the number of scoops the card said to.

We finished our week off with Vegetable soup, currant buns, and blackberry bread pudding from the Five in a Row cookbook.  The little ones seem to enjoy this delicious end to the story!

At the beginning of the week we got a slide from some friends who were moving, so here's my parting shot.  This is Bitsy making the slide into a water slide before she and Manly went down on a warm summer day.
This week we have very special visits from our Aunts, and maybe a few ants too, so come back and check on us soon!

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Mail Call

Over the last two weeks we have gotten lost of mail from our friends and family for our continent studies.  

First we received these beautiful postcards from a friend who had just been back to visit family in Bethlehem.
 Then we got this amazing package from our Oma (Grandma) Nanna in South Africa!
The postcards and booklets are amazing!  I also saved the stamps from the package so we will have that when we study Africa.  Both the package from South Africa and the postcards from Bethlehem came with invitations to come and visit, and I have to tell you Bitsy was ready to pack her bags and go traveling!!

Next we  got a package from my sweet sister Missy.  Now, I am always excited to get mail, but honestly when this letter came from Missy I got all silly and giddy, because she is getting ready to have her first baby, and every time I think about her and this baby I can't help but get giddy.  (I'm so excited about this little guy and his cute mommy I'm leaving my beach home and making my husband drive me up to Utah in the middle of winter!)  Oh, and of course we all love her sweet husband Brett too.  :)  Ok, enough with the tangent...  Aunt Missy sent us these cute pictures and frogs from her trip to Australia along with a letter about her trip, and a camel from Jerusalem, and a $2 coin from Canada.  We are especially grateful to Uncle Brett, because had he not served his mission in Australia, they might not have gone last year, and then we wouldn't have these cool things to learn with!
The most recent thing to cross our mailbox was the box that got lost.  Ha!  My poor father in-law sent this and it took two weeks to get here when it should have taken two days, needless to say we were all sure it was gone for good, but somehow yesterday it finally arrived.  We got books, which we LOVE, and these adorable cubes. 
 It's hard to tell from my picture, but each side of the cubes has a piece of clear plastic sewn on so you can slip a picture or card into it.  They are soft foam inside, and my amazing mother in-law made them for me herself, after I saw some and said that I wanted to make them.  She did an incredible job, and I am so excited to use them with the kids!
Last but not least she sent me these pencil pouches.  I really wish I had had these for my activity packs while we were going to all of our conventions, and I can't wait to transfer the activities over.  So much better than plastic baggies!

A HUGE thank you to all of our friends and family for keeping our mailbox full, and our learning hands -on!

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Muffin Tin Meal

Last week in conjunction with our reading of "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" we had a muffin tin apple sampling.
I went to the store and got one of every variety they had on hand.  In the top left and right we have Granny Smith, the middle top is Red Delicious, the bottom left and right are Fuji, and the bottom middle is a Gala.  The kids liked comparing the sizes, and we talked about how the Fuji and Granny Smith were so big they needed two spots, and Bitsy surprised me by noticing that there were more slices of the Red Delicious then the Gala, so the Gala must have been the bigger of the two, but it was still smaller than the Fuji and Granny Smith.  All of that from apples in a muffin tin!
Check out Muffin Tin Mom for more of these fun meals.

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Week In Review: How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World

This week we officially started Five in a Row.  For our first book we read "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" by Marjorie Priceman, I HIGHLY recommend it!  If you aren't familiar with Five in a Row, the idea is you read the same book every day for five days, focusing on a different aspect each day.  I have to admit I was a little worried that by Wednesday Bitsy would be revolting, and insisting on a new story, but to my delight she enjoyed it.  
So, on Monday we focused on geography and culture.  In the book the little girl travels all over the world to find her pie ingredients, and we followed her with our story disc on our big world map.
This week we located Italy, France, England, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Vermont.  Because we talked about two islands, we also identified the bodies of water that they are in and started a list to put next to our map.
On Tuesday we focused on the writing and descriptive part of the story, and talked about pantomime.  Bitsy wasn't real interested, but Manly LOVED it!  He pantomimed making all of the ingredients into the pie, and then wanted to do it again every day after we talked about it.  Here is is grinding bark from the kurundu tree into cinnamon.  :)
On Wednesday we talked about how the artist can show us the characters are having a good time.  We found lots of silly pictures in the book, and then made our own silly illustrations.  I had the animals from an art kit, and originally intended for the kids to use stickers to decorate them, but when I gave them to them they immediately requested crayons instead.  So, out with the stickers, and in with the crayons.
 These are Bitsy's finished animals.  Manly did a chicken and cow, but he wanted them up on his bulletin board, and wasn't allowing pictures.  I was excited they were all farm animals that could tie in with our story, and our monthly farm theme.
 Thursday we talked about math, and how we use measurements to cook, and just so we would have some experience, we made granola.  (Yes, I know the book is about apple pie, just be patient.)  :)  Since we were cooking, and measuring I didn't get any pictures of the process, but here's our finished project.
Finally, Friday...  We talked about science.  Now, the little girl scooped up some salt water from the ocean as she traveled and then evaporated it to make her pie, so we did it too, kind of.  I dissolved 1/4c. of salt in 2 c. water, and then simmered it for about an hour to get our salt back.  Bitsy wanted to know where the water goes, so we talked about evaporation, and then we discussed our senses and tasted our salt when it was done.  (I don't think they're going to go for salt tasting again.) 
This is our almost finished salt, and again, small children, hot liquids, no process pictures.  For lunch we also used our sense of taste, and tried four different types of apples, and tried to decide on our favorite.  The only conclusion we came to is that everyone around here loves apples!
Friday was also our culminating meal, and we made apple pie, and apple stew, which were both delicious.  The pie was gone so fast there was no time for pictures.  Luckily we got a few pieces out to share with our new neighbors, since the girl in the book shares with her friends.  Manly really liked helping with the stew, and they both enjoyed making a meal from our book.

Unrelated to our book, we watched the big machines remove an electrical box across the street.
I came in to Bitsy's room to see this adorable sight.
Manly took care of Lettie, and made sure she had music in her room.
And Bitsy caught a butterfly with Daddy, while she was out picking flowers.
 She took the picture herself, after she decided the butterfly should be the dinner table centerpiece.


This is our eastern tiger swallowtail sitting on our kitchen counter.  We had to look up exactly which kind he was in our butterfly books, because Bitsy wanted to be sure we knew exactly what kind it was.  It seems to have an injured wing, but it has been living on flowers and water in the bug house in our kitchen.  Bitsy insists on giving it fresh flowers every day so, "it can drink their sweet nectar."

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Our Daddy

The children had the opportunity to go and be a part of Daddy's work earlier this week, and they really loved it.  It was a very special day for all of us.  We are so proud of how hard he works, and all of his wonderful accomplishments! 


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Water Wall

Last week my sweet husband helped me finish up a project I had cooked up after seeing this post at The Imagination Tree.  I'll admit, she's a lot more adventurous in letting her girls play in the mud, then I would be, but I LOVED the idea!!!  My kiddos love to pour water on everything, and dig up holes and tell me they're "cooking", so I knew this would be right up their ally.  Now, pictures.

 So my sweet husband took apart an over the door rack that one of our neighbors was going away, and zip tied it to our fence.  Then he drilled holes into different containers and zip tied then to the fence and the rack for me, so they would stay in place and we can do this:

 The kids love pouring the water into their top container, and watching it pour down the three levels.  Now, lest you think I am patient and willing to keep refilling their containers of water, I will explain our bottom level.  The red and green bowls are zip tied to the outside of the rack, so they can be lifted like Manly is doing below.
 This way the collected water can be poured back into the original bucket, and the whole process can begin again.  They both loved doing this.  I'm hoping to get a container like this to use with just water, so they can refill their buckets on their own.  Of course I love the bubble idea too, and I'm hoping to get one for that as well.  :)
Now, we also put the other half of the rack on the other side of the corner, and that has become the beginning of our own outdoor kitchen. 
 During the first day we had this set up Bitsy started calling Manly "Farmer" and had him gathering wheat and barley, which was really just grass from our yard.  She mixed it in pots and made soup, and bread.  She also used her board and some of the water wall water to "wash" clothes she had brought outside.  The clothes were just scraps of fabric from my scrap bag.  After they were washed, she used the board to iron them as well.  We're slowly collecting more kitchen supplies for our outdoor kitchen.
I loved seeing them work together, and enjoy doing their domestic activities outside.  


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Canning

Maybe I'm crazy, but there's some part of me that resonates with Laura Ingalls Wilder, I can't get enough of the "Little House" books, and luckily Bitsy loves them too.  While I don't recall Laura ever talking about the canning process, she describes in great detail the satisfaction of seeing the food all put up for the winters, and I have to say, it is a beautiful thing.  I'm very sporadic in my canning, and I've done all kinds of things from fruit and jams to meat.  Honestly my favorite way to can is with other women, because I love the camaraderie.  Just this week I fed little Lettie a jar of apricot puree I made with my sweet mother in-law and sister in-law before we left Utah.  The apricots came from my sister in-law Missy's tree, and I actually started to cry a little as I thought of that experience canning, and the love that our family shares, even though we're so far away.    

I guess all of that was just a really long intro to my most recent canning experience.  Last week I canned 16 pounds of ground beef, and six pints of pickles.  


I like to can the beef because then it is cooked and ready to throw into a meal without thawing, which makes dinner so much easier, and the pickles, well, I had never done them before and I wanted to give it a try since we had so many cucumbers from our CSA.  The pickles were actually really easy, and loads of fun.  I love seeing the finished jars of all the food, it just makes me happy.

I love seeing the food all done, and if you are interested at all in canning, I highly recommend dropping by The Prudent Homemaker.  She has great canning recipes, and tons of resources about canning, as well as loads of other information!

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Week In Review

It always surprises me at the end of the week to see how much we did.  In many ways I really enjoy that feeling, because when your up to your elbows in dishes, food, and laundry it's easy to feel unproductive.  In fact, my aunt LaRee this week suggested that I find a project to work on for a few minutes every day that won't ever have to be done again.  I'm working on deciding what that will be, but, I digress...

So, we started this week by gluing the pictures we cut out last week onto construction paper, and making collages.

We also cooked up a batch of farm rice pudding.  There's no difference between farm rice pudding, and regular rice pudding, except the recipe we got out of the Friend magazine showed a pioneer boy, that the kids thought looked like a farmer, and since that's our theme for the month, we went with it.
Everyone took turns feeding little Lettie as well.

The results were, well, bath inducing.  Lettie loved the attention, and the food, and the kids loved feeding her, so it was a great time, despite the black bean mess.
Finally we ended the week with one more craft project.
 We made puppets from a kit I got somewhere, some time.  I know that's not really helpful, sorry.  I included the picture above not because the kids were doing something so profound, but so that you realize I am human, and sometimes school is done while mommy is putting together diapers, or just generally being mommy. 
And here, are the cutest frog and cow I have ever seen!  I let them use the pieces themselves without telling them what should go where, and we all loved it.  

Of course we also played outside lots, and read books.  Bitsy and Manly finished the summer reading program at the library and got their certificates and a book on Friday, and they were both very excited.  We also got to play with our friends who came to visit for a day from 29 Palms. 

We hope your week was as fun as ours!

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