Thursday, October 1, 2015

Around Here Lately

We are having a busy fall!

Temperatures have yet to drop below 100, but we are pretending that it's autumn anyway. Time to break out the cinnamon spice candles, decorate with fall leaves (if I decorated... which I don't... but I should), and head to the pumpkin patch.

At the beginning of last month, our little guy turned six! We had a fun day celebrating.

The 9yo and the 3yo obligingly blew out his candles for him, and we all enjoyed the rather odd combination of angel food cake with chocolate frosting.

Our apple trees are decidedly not doing well. Their leaves are shriveled and have brown tips. A trip to the nursery this morning hazarded the tentative diagnosis of "salt burn," so we came home with a (pricey) supplement that will hopefully help them a bit. We'll see!

(That was two weeks ago. They still look awful.)

Shriveled leaves, brown tips, blighted fruit. Niiiiiiccce.

Arizona gardeners, any other suggestions?

Our church's children's club this month focused on using tools, which was right up the 3yo's alley. He spent the entire two hours happily banging, screwing, and measuring. As usual, the 9yo tolerated it long enough to be polite before disappearing to continue with his adventure games. He paused long enough to win the "string noodles on a string of spaghetti" game, which thrilled him.

This was followed up by a "Tools Night" at a local hardware store:

Our latest geography-based history study has been New Mexico - hot air balloons, Apache Indians, Geronimo, Georgia O'Keefe, UFO sightings, Cochise, and lots of great food. Our culinary adventures have included enchiladas (with beans and rice), Indian Fry Bread, and biscochitos (the official state cookie).

In history as part of our study of the Thirty Years War, we celebrated St. Martin's Day - a Catholic beginning-of-winter feast day. When Sweden converted to Protestantism, they wanted to keep St. Martin's Day, so they moved it back a day to Martin Luther's birthday and renamed it Martin Day. Oh, my goodness. The ingenuity of human beings in playing the logistics game. This really cracks me up.

We had Swedish apple cake and made a St. Martin's Day lantern. If you look closely, you can see that our lantern is made of a re-purposed coca cola box.

We enjoyed St. Martin's Day (Martin Day) so much that we are planning to add it to our annual repertoire of family holidays. (Along with Guy Fawkes Day, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the feast of Santa Lucia, the feast of St. Nicolas, and other assorted holidays. It's getting crowded around here!)

Another history project that went over (unexpectedly) well was making Louis XIV Versailles Ball Masks. I thought it would be a nice five-minute project. That was a week ago, and the boys still haven't taken them off! I'm not complaining! Anything to make history fun and memorable.

The littlest of the bunch is sitting up and getting into lots of toys, and our baby with special needs is also learning to get into trouble. In the first picture, you can see him starting to reach up to get the car box placed out of his reach (he got it!). The two of them play quite well together.

The 10mo is getting into stranger-danger stage, so her cheerful grin is often now replaced by a suspicious stare when she is confronted by strangers:

Who are you, and where's Mama?
Back to her sunny self.
A not-yet-but-kinda-sorta-large(ish)-family hack that I have learned lately has been... color-coding the family! Yes! You knew we'd get there sometime!
So far I am only doing bath towels and pillow cases. (Oh, and the boys' tools.) For bath towels, I have (or am working on finding at Goodwill) two towels of the same color per person. They are:
  • Daddy - Green
  • Mama - Pink
  • 9yo - Striped
  • 6yo - Blue
  • 3yo - Navy Blue
  • 1yo - Purple

For pillow cases, I am working on purchasing two identical pillowcases per child, so that they can rotate them and always have an easily-identifiable pillow (as opposed to the everyone-has-white-and-WHOSE-PILLOW-IS-THIS-ANYWAY? system). So far,
  • 9yo - Forest green
  • 6yo - Blue and white striped
  • 3yo - Green and blue striped
Working on the rest.
How's it working? I love it. I should have done it years ago. Having a good system in place for this has been a blessing, even in just a few short weeks.
At a church function in the "photo booth" -
I am slowly learning bits and pieces of almost-but-not-quite-large-family living. For example, getting-ready-to-leave time is gradually extending. If we want to be somewhere at 10:00 a.m., and it takes 15 minutes to drive there, I'd better be packing the car up by 9:15 or so, or we're going to be late. It's hard to admit, but it's true. I'm also learning the deep, deep secrets of managing large amounts of socks, shoes, water bottles, and other "ack!-they're-multiplying!" issues that surround larger-ish family living.
Coming up over the next month: numerous park days, a field trip for a back-of-the-house restaurant tour, a field trip to the airport, a family reunion, and lots of other fun stuff.
Happy Fall, dear readers!


  1. Looks like life is filled with many joys! It's getting autumny here--we actually need jackets in the mornings now.

    1. Ah, I am envious, Anne! :) We won't need jackets here till mid-December, and then they'll be gone by February! I crave every nippy day that we get. But hey, we had a few minutes of RAIN last week!!! :) So I shouldn't complain too much.

  2. Reading your post made me smile, both to see what you have been up to and the end about the large-ish family hacks! Sometimes they can be really helpful. Others that work for us:
    Pack the diaper bag/trip bag with everything when you get back home. So, for example, when Mason and I go to a long day of hospital appointments and get home, one of the first things I do is repack the backpack on his wheelchair with diapers, catheters, wipes, and paper for coloring. When we all come home as a family from church we repack the church bag.

    Also, keep some extras in the vehicle. We try to keep a few diapers and a pack of wipes. When we have a baby we keep formula, and empty bottle, and a bottle of water (store bought) in the van.

    Shoes always go in the same place - on our enclosed porch. In this way we never lose shoes and have to search for them.

    1. Wow, we do similar things here! I do my best to repack the diaper bag when we get home too. Unfortunately, though, it's hard to keep things in the car here in Phoenix - at least in the summer. The heat is brutal on diaper bags! Water bottles tend to explode, and wipes packages inevitably get dried out. But we do try to do that during the winter! We are also working on the shoe issue - we keep ours in the garage. I am using the idea posted by Amy (Raising Arrows) of keeping a basket for shoes, and then it's the 3yo's chore to put them back on the rack.

      There are certainly a lot of tricks to learning to manage a growing family!

      Only a few weeks till your sweet little one makes an entrance! Very excited for you! (A friend of mine had #12 yesterday, so it's definitely baby season!!)

  3. Thought you would like to know!

    1. Ah, shucks, Cathy - you're too sweet!! Thank you!


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