Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Graduate Reader!

This picture is Dominik *today* eating a Sugar Daddy.  He decided it was too sticky, took it out of his teeth and threw it away.  Nice! 

But this post is really to announce that Dominik finished his reading program this week!  Here's a snippet of him reading from his 100th lesson (a weird story about a blind man hunting a tiger) in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

He started the book just over a year ago and has usually been eager to learn, but with homeschooling Lukas and Konrad, I didn't always make enough time for Dominik's reading lessons.  I'm glad we have the summer to work on cementing what he's learned, by reading more.  I've always found that going through the 100 lessons is the easier part...the harder part is to continue to have the child read to me to make sure they don't lose the skills they've gained.

Just like Konrad and Lukas, Dominik finished his lessons right around his fifth birthday.  Way to go Dominik!  I used the same lessons with Natalie, but only made it though about 40 lessons before deciding to let her kindergarten teacher take over.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A few birthdays

I've been more negligent than normal in posting pictures...and I've even missed three birthdays!

Lukas turned 11.  He had a party with friends (Tom did a great job creating a scavenger hunt in our yard that lasted about an hour).  There were a lot of boys running around, and there was cake and presents.


Dominik turned 5.  A bunch of kids raced boats in the ditch, and then there was cake and presents.  Legos played an important role.

Tom turned 29.  There were only our kids running around, but there was cake and presents.  And wine, as this picture shows.

We've been busy a lot of other ways too, besides birthdays:  local hiking trips, finishing school and homeschool for the year, 4H, tree maintenance and gardening, and relatives visiting.  I will try to post more soon...I promise to try!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow Play

Before another month goes by, I wanted to (Tom has been nudging me to) post pictures of what we did AFTER Christmas.  Most of our activities included snow, surprise surprise!

We used the break between Christmas and New Years to take day trips and see more of our local area.  Here we are hiking up to Initial Point.  Natalie wanted to stay warm, bundled in blankets, so she stayed in the stroller (it was quite windy at the top).

Natalie much prefers the indoor visits, like this visit to a model train exhibit.

On another hiking trip to Deer Flat, we saw a herd of at least 18 deer (in the left of the picture below).  They didn't let us get closer...

...but we walked to where they had been and examined their tracks.

Another day, we drove to the local ski resort, just to see where everything was so we knew where to go when we came up to go skiing. And to see the sun.

New Year's Eve dinner was raclette...

...and gingerbread house for dessert.

Dominik likes being pulled in a sled, but isn't ready for downhill speeds.  He says he will go skiing, "when I'm five."

Another day trip, we visited a small dairy that makes cheese.  Here we are learning about the cheese-making process...

...and seeing their cheese storage.  Of course, we brought home quite a few varieties.

Outside, we peeked in on a calf that was just born that morning.  It's protected in a warm little house since it has no fat on it.

Other calves that were a few months old were doing well outside.  The owner said they actually prefer the cold to the hot summer.

 We traveled to the river, where natural springs make waterfalls (and freeze beautifully in the winter).

There was a historical center at an old dairy there that the kids liked poking around in...Natalie kept warm in the sleeping bag on her stroller.

Then the vacation was over and it was time to go back to work and school.

In the field behind our house, we saw this coyote again for the second time, a few days ago.  The first time we saw it was New Year's Day and it appeared to be injured.  Now three weeks later, it's still alive and seems to be doing better.

 Lukas built snow monuments on each side of our driveway.  Next time, bigger!  But they have been the last snow to melt!

A beautiful sunset.

Then it was time to ski!  Lukas and Konrad are taking lessons with a homeschool group.  Here's their first day and they said they liked it even more than they thought they would.  Konrad in the first photo, Lukas in the second.

 I celebrated my birthday exactly as I would wish...with my family!

Konrad started playing basketball this year.  He's learning a lot and even scored a point at the game yesterday!

Natalie has a little static in her hair, as she stays warm at the pellet stove.

Second day of ski lessons...Lukas and Konrad can't get enough!

 Down the mountain, the snow is almost gone, so Tom is back to work taking care of our plot of land.  Here he's removing a tree that we've been wanting to replace for a while.  Now it's gone!

The weather is supposed to be getting warmer this week, so we will see what we can do to get ready for spring planting.  There is a garden to plan (not so many tomatoes this year!), garden sprinklers to put in, berry trellises to build, and that large chicken coop is still calling...we want to get another 15-20 chicks in the spring.  I still think there will be more snow this year, but Tom is betting that's all we get.  Either way, there is a lot to do!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

We've been on vacation, which means we've been having fun and taking pictures, and now it's time to record the memories (which means get back to work!)

The week before Christmas, the kids performed at an evening service.  Here they were practicing in the morning...

...and performing in the evening.  Natalie sang one song and then decided to sit down...hopefully she'll stay for two songs next year!  She loves to sing, but anytime there's a break in singing, she gets bored.

We had some fun preparations for Christmas this year...finally in our new home (last Christmas, we were in our rental home and hadn't unpacked very much since we knew we would be moving again soon).  Last year, the cookie cutters were not unpacked.  This year...

Last year the gingerbread house mold was not unpacked (we were blessed by a premade one we put together and decorated.)  This year...

The day before Christmas I seasoned the turkey and stored it in the garage (since the garage works well as a second refrigerator in the winter).  We kept the turkey out of reach of the cats.

 Christmas Eve dinner is fondue at our home.  I think Natalie is in pajamas because she had a nap right before dinner so she could make it through the Christmas Eve service.

The next morning, they are ready to open presents! 

Natalie received a lot of princess things.  I even got special "Frozen" wrapping paper that I used for her birthday and for her Christmas presents...unfortunately after opening her birthday presents, a few days later she thought it was ok to open any present with "Frozen" wrapping I kept her presents hidden to avoid rewrapping.  Each of the kids chose presents for their siblings from their own money...first year for that, and it worked out very well!  Konrad found this princess tablet for Natalie.

One of Dominik's gifts was the quarter collection book (now he can catch up with his brothers in collecting quarters).

Konrad received his first Bible.

And a wonderful gift they'll be able to enjoy in the New Year...

Christmas breakfast was a French toast dish I put together the night before and popped in the oven while we were opening convenient!

Then it was time to play with all those gifts.  Lukas enjoyed using his new bow and arrow.  We had the perfect amount of snow for Christmas:  a nice dusting to make everything white, but not enough that we had to shovel a ton of snow off the driveway.

 The cats were kept away from the turkey, so we had a delicious meal.

Konrad was adventurous and went for the whole drumstick. 

 That's grape juice in her glass that I made from our own Concord grapes.  Delicious!

My first try at a Bûche de Noël.  I looked at a lot of different recipes online, and since there didn't seem to be much similarity between any of them (besides how they are decorated), I found a recipe in French that had a lot of stars...and it came out great!  It was more French tasting, not so American tasting...meaning it had about one third the sugar that an American pastry would have.  Definitely a new Christmas tradition at our home.  I think I can improve the presentation next year, but not bad for the first time.

Everyone in our family said it was "the best Christmas ever"...we pray you also had a wonderful Christmas!