Lasts and Firsts 2014

I wrote about lasts and firsts in a post last year, and was looking back and reread my words and was inspired to write about this year’s lasts and first.  Reading what I wrote reminded me of things I had not thought about in a long time, small details that I am glad to have written, so I am writing one for this year, if for no one else, for me;)

Last morning of school for the 3 bigs today, Avalon has been out since before Memorial Day.

This was Avalon’s LAST year of preschool , after 9 years of being connected to an amazing preschool with teachers that became family we are done…..this was a HARD morning, but I can write about it now, so it too shall pass, my small little people growing like trees into beautiful strong beings. She is already begging me to teach her Kindergarten.

It seems like ages ago I took their FIRST day of school pictures, which I never posted…oh well;)

Total they lost 6 six teeth, had 5  haircuts, we packed hundreds of lunches and snacks, had one case of strep and 2 ear infections, 2 times someone missed the bus, 2 new sets of glasses and Raiven is set for braces in August.

Solomon survived his FIRST year of middle school, which for us is 6th grade.  I love his school, his test scores and exceedingly high so he qualified for the highly gifted program (only 18 kids in his year qualify in the district) at a small choice middle school, it is truly what he has needed since kindergarten, to be in a class with his peers.  This was a decision we did not make lightly but are very happy with so far.

Santanna’s First grade teacher taught her FIRST First grade class this year, Mrs. A was actually Solomon’s 2nd grade teacher so we were super excited to have her, she is amazingly patient and organized, I need some of her skills!!!

Raiven had the same 4th grade teacher that Solomon had and this is his LAST year of teaching 4th grade for 3 years.  he has taken a position as a student teacher assessor, I am hoping he is back to teach 5th grade for Santanna, there is a rumor he will come back and teach 5th grade but year by year I am learning that until that first day of school nothing is set in stone. Right?!?

In a few hours it will be the start of The FIRST day of summer vacation…

Did a little photo shoot after they all were home:

Last day of School!

They just REALLY Love this jumping thing when I ask for a photo….here is some good news, stats are up from Last June:

from 75% to 100% excited about summer!

If you remember:

Last day of shool 2013

Have some fun this summer!!!!!

 

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Finally Outside

It was warm enough outside today to finally get out and enjoy spring.
I went out for a 4 mile run and came back to find Avalon hard at work:

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So I joined in and we vacuumed, wiped down, washed and cleaned out an enormous embarrassing amount off snacks and miscellaneous kid paraphernalia. But to the small vaccumer go the spoils:

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Just enough to pay in coin for an ice cream:

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While I splurged and treated the carro to an ultimate wash :

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Oh man does spring cleaning feel good here in Minnesota. We have been cooped up and frozen in and are ready to be outside and open the windows!!
Anyone else tackling spring projects. Any annual chores you do?
I know my blogging has been sparse but we have been working hard on a front entry nook project that is almost finished. Stay tuned for the before and afters!!

Snow My Goodness!!!

I love snowboarding.
I love watching my kids enjoy a day of skiing.
I love making forts…with or with out my kids.
I enjoy snowblowing…weird I guess, add to that vacuuming and mowing, and you could charge me for a visit.
I really like making snowmen, hot cocoa and vanilla steamers for pink checked freckle faced little mes.
I do not like -40 with/without wind-chill.
I do not like that it feels like we have been on Holiday since winter break, the kids are always home.
No complaints, but is it not lending to much productivity.
We are working on the front closet nook that I blogged about sometime before winter set in.
I actually think I will be able to give an update as to our progess thus far in the next couple days. Until then I really like snacks, shelters, and smiles:
Snowsota
I love how this picture makes snow look so beautiful, even though it is breaking the limbs off our birch tree out front.
I love how every pink face in this photo is smiling back and having a blast!
Snow on Mother Nature, you are beautiful and powerful and we are respect that.

Shreddin’

Really it could go either way….slopes or crafting right??!
We are actually doing quite a bit of both around here. It is cooold still and school continues to be cancelled on random weekdays due to the cold, we were off yesterday and today for temps that were in the -30’s with the wind-chill! Luckliy every Friday the mercury climbs up to perfect temps for hitting the slopes, in MN we have great hills no actual mountains, but we don’t mind!
So we are bumming and skiing/snowboarding, it is polar (ha ha) opposite of the California version of boarding and bumming since we aren’t getting tan, but I could not have planned it better myself.
Mostly we are spending times off the slopes inside, so I am trying to keep a balance between reading, eating, bickering, and screen time…not all that easy!
Here is the project we did yesterday, inspired by this pin on pinterest.

This seemed like the perfect cold day craft….we have cardboard boxes and magazines laying around so we set to work.

I was not sure that I would be able to free hand draw a large shape that would resemble anything better than an amoeba, so I got our the overhead projector that comes in handy at the most wonderfully random times, I posted about it before here!

The kids got out their large bin of “figurines and animals” and chose the one that they wanted.  It worked best to lay the object on its side, and then we adjusted the projection to fit on the cardboard which was propped against the wall and then the kids traced the shape onto the cardboard in pencil.

Overhead scrapping

At first we were going to just rip the paper or cut it into thin strips, however with small hands it was looking chunky and not as uniform as we wanted.

So we employed the help of a paper shredder (which only momma was in charge of!), we borrowed from a kind neighbor, and shredded up old magazine pages.

The kids spent truly spent 2-3 hours gluing down the strips onto their shape…I mean quiet craft time is like silent gold am I right?!?!

At some point we ditched the white glue bottle and got out modge podge which is why some spots on the finished project are shiny…I would recommend this, it seemed to secure the paper better, and not leaves any loose spots that may tear off.

Ta da!

A Goat (by our 11 year old, completely independently):

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An elephant ( by our 9 year old again independently) I just love the hair-do:

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A panda bear (by our 6 year old, mostly independently, she needed a little help gluing and staying on task at one point, but you can see she came back with vengeance and a black crayon for the background):

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And who else? Pocahontas (by our 4 year old, she may have had some momma help;)):

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Really an easy craft with what materials most of us have around the house, if you do not have a projector you can certainly free hand a shape, I am sure most of you out there have better art skills than I!

And just one more…proof that the sun does shine on MN hills!

A bombski

Teacher gift workshop.

I saw this block calendar project on another site and was smitten , that’s a great winter time word isn’t it. My mind instantly thought “we can do that”.
So we set to work, I  even asked the amazing man at Home Depot to cut a 4 x 4 post into squares for me…. There are about 30 in a post. THANK YOU!!

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I have tons of paper scrapbook supplies from when I had time to encapsule photographic memories and notations on expensive paper to archive into even more expensive “books”, and a jar of modge podge. So we set to work:

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Finished late on the last night before the last day of school for 2013. I hope her teacher likes it. Because we do.

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These photos are from my phone and may not be the best, but I am thinking we will make this project again very soon and I will post a tutorial with some better photos and instructions.  The kids really liked making this.

 

No Tricks all Treats

By far the best Halloween costumes we have had so far in all 11 years of child raising.

Every year we ask the kids what they would like to be for Halloween, it usually starts with the delivery of the Chasing fireflies Halloween costume edition and from then on at story time we are leafing through the mag hearing about all the options and how we could all go as pirates, or momma you could be this and poppa could be that….or I bet Farley would be a cute yoda.

Now if you get this magazine like me you probably wonder how these prices are legal, I mean don’t get me wrong they are cute as can be and resale (for an eBay lover like me) is totally worth it, but I Like the kids to put more into the costumes than pointing a finger and saying “that one”.

So he is what the final choice was for everyone:

Solomon: scary clown.

Raiven : exterminator (bugs, and such)

Santanna: Viking princess warrior conquerer (not a football Viking)

Avalon: Pocahontas

As we wrap up the Halloween weekend I thought I would share their costume since I was literally still sewing  a few parts on them as the sun was going down and porch lights were turning on Thursday, I will be happy to go tinot maore detail on any of the parts if any one is interested.

Solomon…no real inspiration photo just what /he/we came up with:

scary clown

We thrifted the green coveralls from Savers , they are a size 44 Long…..huge on this guy, so we cut the bottoms of the legs off.  I found the Leroy patch in the sewing box I shared a while back, the mask we found at savers as well, shoes are from goodwill and glow in the dark (he did not trick or treat in these) flower that squirts water we found at party city.

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How many 9-year-old girls wanted to be an exterminator this year?  1?….mine?  We looked at the Ghostbusters costume and that was NOT it, so here is our version of an exterminator:

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Hand held “fogger”  I am not sure what it is called but I found it in the garage and it fit in the clear tube that I had attached to her “chemicals” on her back pack.

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The clothes are her brothers that were too small, and we patched the hole with more goodies from this sewing treasure box I found. The boots were also a hand me down.  the hat is just a ball cap with skull duct taped on over the words, we did this on the hoodie as well.

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We took 2-2 liter bottles and Raiven mixed and swirled paint in them to make her desired color, then I attached them to a small, purse size backpack with more of that skull duct tape.  We found the mask at a local Halloween shop.

Santanna: this is the costume she wanted:

Halloween 2013 warrior girl costume - Chasing Fireflies

Chasing Fireflies

Here is what we created:

Viking Princess

Santanna LOVED it, and it was really warm.  Head to toe, Viking helmet is from party city, so are the leg cuffs, we cut them off a little since they were meant for adults, so we sued a scrap as hair under the helmet also meant for adults…perfect! she has on a gray tiered dress from The children’s Place that was handed down from big sis, brown leggings, Primigi boots and a long sleeve layer shirt.  The sword was also from party city.  Instead of a shield she had her trick or treat bag in her other hand.  I sewed the cape, and added a hood.

Viking warrior 2

She picked out the fabric and had to have some color so we added this little blue streak in the hood. Jon called her Helga and others commented that she looked like a character from how to train your dragon.

Last but not least, Pocahontas, Avalon is probably her biggest (smallest) fan:

Pocahontas

This is a very warm fleece costume and headpiece from Old navy that was sold about 7 years ago, I have found it on eBay for a few years in a row and bought the 5T this year, once she outgrows this I am not sure what we will do, Disney does not make a winter version of Pocahontas dress up, which is a must in MN. Boots are Minnetonka triple fringe boots, we had tights and the bow (with missing arrow) was from a local Halloween store.  The belt was a fifty cent thrift years ago.

Those are the spookables I went trick or treating with this year. You can pin these as ideas for next year

Pumpkin Patch Flash

Say that 5 times fast!

Just like any other great small place you find that is amazing and not well known, once word gets around it is the new hot spot, still great but changed.

Alas our charmer of an apple orchard/pumpkin patch falls into this category.

But first this past weekend I had my mind set on a photo shoot with the kids, me=photographer, kids=subjects, then a visit with some family and then the pumpkin patch, remember hubby is working, I am going solo.

There is a small town in MN where 3 generation of my dads family have lived on a farm that has been shrinking as each generation passes it on, however there is a fantastic bike trail, and now an orchard/pumpkin patch, that butts up next to what used to be “our land”, and land that still belongs to a cousin, how can this not be the place to gather fall goodies!?!

Pictures first:

This is one of my faves…such personality! I took hundreds of shots, just clicked away and chatted with them, seemed to work well.  The quilt they are sitting on was made in 1937….it does not come out often but what better time then a photo shoot to use some of the special pieces we have right?!

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This one was right before someone was pinched I think…and I forgot Avalon’s hair pretty ( I made all the hair pretties…blush) but look at how big they are getting!

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We visited with my Aunt and uncle that still live on the family farm and went with another Aunt to the pumpkin patch.  In the meantime we picked up a friend who is like a sister to Tanna.

Holy cats, they piled out of the truck bee lined for the big orange pumpkins, each picked out a pumpkin that they needed to have another buddy help them carry to the wagon  which we used to haul the pumpkins to the truck. Patchwork pumpkin patch

Than they ran from animal to animal, through a barn…fed some goats..my aunt and I could barely keep up. We did get to see some animal very close, the kids just loved these pigs…

Piggy

Changes I noticed from years past; They no longer let you pick apples off the tress, we used to each get a bag and fill it up off the tress, they now sell bagged apples and donuts and have a small concession stand. The corn maze seemed to have been down sized a bit to allow for more parking and there were less animals, the kids were bummed that this year there were no kittens.  Still a Great pumpkin/apple/gourd place, and the people are so friendly it just feels a little more commercial, maybe the kids felt it too.

I had the kids pack and bring a sack lunch which we enjoyed on a hay wagon under a beautiful weeping willow and everyone was ready to go.

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It was fast and furious Pumpkin Patch flash fun…

Haystack photo

Squirt Level Triathlon

Summer, how fast it flies, I love it, for real.
It seems like calendars are full of events, fairs, festivals, friends; endless opportunities.
We may have accidentally hit the ground running faster this summer than we sauntered into last school year, but there are such so many fun thing to participate in when the weather here in Minnesota is sunny and warm, we really do know how to pack a year of run into the summer.
There are so many things I would like to share, but these photos I had a chance to sit down and edit and it is so cool that Santanna has made family history by being the only one to complete a triathlon….and at the squirt level.
60 feet swimming
.9 mile bike ride
.4 mile run
I am so proud…I also hope that by involving all of our kids in these small races at young levels they will carry these skills throughout their lives as hobbies, emotional management time, a way to stay fit and/or a way to compete at their own level.

TRI