Happy Baby

After she recovered from the trauma of a bath tonight, Baby was very happy. I was finally able to get a video of her talking–usually she quits and is silent when I get the camera! So, if you’re interested, here is 30 seconds of cuteness. (The background noise is the dramatized Pilgrim’s Progress the older children were listening to.)

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Tour of the Mud Town and Our Garden

On Sunday, when Mr. Sweetie had my camera, he also took a video outside. It is rather long (maybe 8 minutes), and shaky, but if you’re interested in the town my boys have been building all summer in the banks of the dry creek in our front yard, here is a guided tour of what they currently have and the place they did have a town before it was destroyed. He also gives you a glimpse of what’s left in the garden. Just please keep in mind this was taken by a 5-year-old–that explains a lot!

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A Tour of Our House

I stayed home Sunday with several children who had bad colds. Mr. Sweetie, the five-year-old, asked in the afternoon if he could use my camera. I took a look at the memory card this evening, and found a couple of videos. This one is a tour of the inside of the house, if you’re interested. Keep in mind that a 5-year-old took it! The background noise, other than the baby crying, is Mr. Inventor’s audio book playing (With Lee in Virginia); he listened to it most of the day.

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Sometime around the end of March, Gayle and the boys went to pick plums from a tree at an old house on the property a friend lives on. There was a quince tree nearby, and they picked a few quinces. Those quinces sat in our windowsill for a week or two before I got around to cooking them. I just put them in a pot with some water and brought them to a boil, and over the next two or three days brought them to a boil again so they wouldn’t spoil. Finally I had time to peel them and take out the cores, and then they sat in the fridge for another week till finally one day I put them on the table at lunch because I knew they wouldn’t keep much longer! To my surprise, the children loved them. I had not cooked them with any sugar or even stevia, but they were sweet enough to be good, and with cream on top they were absolutely delicious! We decided we wanted to can some quinces this year, so went back to pick a banana boxful off the tree. By this time, a month had passed since the first ones were picked, and they were now quite ripe. I washed and trimmed a dishpanful and cooked them the same way as the half dozen a month before, but they went to mush! So, I took the cores out by hand and froze the mush to make into jam when we have jars to put it in. The next batch, I peeled, trimmed, and chunked before cooking them, and canned them with stevia (I use NOW brand Better Stevia, 1 teaspoon to two quarts of water). We decided to make sauce from the rest, so I cooked them to mush and then picked out the cores and canned it as I do applesauce, with a bit of stevia because it was rather tart. Quinces are a distinctive flavor; I think they taste like flowers smell. With cream, they are quite a treat, and nowhere near as sour as I used to think they were. If you have access to this old-fashioned fruit, give them a try!IMG_0664

Above-the boxful of quinces I worked up. Below-some finished jars of quince chunks and one of sauce to enjoy this winter.IMG_0705

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Impromptu Lessons

One thing I love about homeschooling: Learning truly happens at all hours of the day.

One evening at bedtime, Mr. Inventor was busy working on his math lesson for the next day. He likes to do his math after dark, when it’s harder to work outside, so that he can have more daylight hours for doing his own things outside. He asked me a question about what he was doing, and I suddenly had an inspiration for a way to teach him something he had been struggling with for a long time! He was not understanding the difference between perimeter, area, and volume, and when to use a plain unit (such as inch) and when to add a superscript to indicate square or cubed units. To illustrate, I asked him if he had a string in his pocket, and being a boy he did. I took the string, a piece of paper, and a wooden block that was laying on the floor, and illustrated the different dimensions. It was so fun to see his face light up as he got it! He actually understood a concept that he hadn’t grasped before. IMG_0308

Another evening, as I was cooking dinner, Mr. Diligence came along and asked if there was a way to tell if something was heavier than water. We had just read Archimedes and the Door of Science, and one chapter talked about how Archimedes figured out that the king’s crown was not pure gold. I told him that if something floated in water it was not as heavy as water, but if it sank it was heavier. He grabbed a cup of water and started dropping things in to test them—mustard, ketchup, honey, a raisin—all sorts of things! He would guess if they would sink or float, and then check his guess. When one of his brothers showed up, he had great fun getting him to guess, too! I loved that informal science lesson. The picture isn’t very clear, but there are a lot of bits of things at the bottom of the water in that jar—things that are heavier than water!IMG_0685

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More Harvesting

This was the zucchini we found in the garden after our trip to Timaru. It ended up being nearly the end of the zucchini for the year, too, since we had a killing frost a few days later. We were happy to have these, since I’ve discovered a way to cook zuchini that everyone likes. I dice it in about 1/2 inch cubes, then toss with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and oil. Then, I spread it on a cookie sheet and bake at about 350°F for an hour or so. Yum!IMG_0573

Last week, Gayle and the boys dug all the potatoes. It wasn’t a very good harvest, but we’re thankful for what we got—and thankful that they weren’t rotting in the ground like they did last year! This is Mr. Handyman, Gayle, Mr. Diligence, and Mr. Inventor.IMG_0669IMG_0671

This is Mr. Diligence running away!


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Extra April Pictures

Mr. Sweetie dressed up to go “tramping’IMG_0561

I’m not sure what is happening here, but this is Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Imagination.IMG_0564IMG_0565


Our sweet baby girl likes the Bumbo we just got for her.IMG_0651

She rediscovered her tongue, and spent several days sticking it out. It’s a good thing that baby tongues are cute!IMG_0654

She discovered her feet a week ago—but forgot about them again.IMG_0680

Sunrise one morning; I think Mr. Handyman took this.IMG_0681

This little girl was practicing making funny faces Sunday evening, and her brothers and sister were in stitches!IMG_0690

When Martha was about six weeks old, a friend brought some of her friends, who were visiting from the North Island, when she came for milk. The woman she brought was from South Africa originally, and got started telling stories about the wildlife there and some safaris she had been on. The boys were all ears, and apparently the woman really liked the audience she found here. When our friend was up north recently and visited her friends, she was given a bag of gifts for us! The South African woman had made a small quilt for each of our two little ones! This is Mr. Imagination excitedly naming the African animals on his quilt; our little girl’s quilt is on the back of the chair.IMG_0693

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Mr. Inventor has been very busy living up to his name lately. He designed and built two bike trailers, after finding a picture online; the welder was used a lot over the past two weeks! He also figured out how to carve a wooden spoon. That was after the wooden knife carving contest between three boys; I didn’t get a picture of those creations, but they were very good.IMG_0574IMG_0575IMG_0576IMG_0581


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Diligent Students

I thought Grandma might like to see pictures of my diligent students! These were not all taken at the same time; it’s hard to get this kind of picture, because I’m busy teaching lessons at the same time.

Mr. HandymanIMG_0317

Mr. InventorIMG_0695

Mr. IntellectualIMG_0327

Mr. DiligenceIMG_0325

Mr. SweetieIMG_0638

Mr. ImaginationIMG_0634IMG_0637

And this is how Little Miss does her schoolwork! We’re all glad when her eyes are closed during school hours.



This was another day. She was happy in her new Bumbo for a long time, and Mr. Imagination was quite entertained as well, putting her socks on top her head and then making them fly off. Thankfully, he never hit her head!IMG_0698

And, just for fun: The one picture I took at the Waipara River when we went there for a fun day with our homeschool group (not the fossil walk but a different day). When we first arrived, Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence found this tree they could walk up. I told them they couldn’t do it with other children around, though.IMG_0328

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Finishing the Harvest

We are getting close to the end of harvesting food for the year. Gayle and the boys are digging potatoes today. That is quite different from last year! It was so wet last year that there was water in every hole made by the fork when they dug up a potato plant. About half the crop rotted in the ground, and I had to deal with rotten potatoes in the bin all winter. Yuck! This year, the soil is bone-dry! We’re hoping for heavy rains soon, though, so Gayle decided it was time to get them dug.

The shelves in the jar room are very nearly full. The freezers are mostly full—even the “new” one we bought to put a steer in in another two weeks is a third full! Onions are braided and hanging beside the jars of food, and the pumpkins are piled in there and on a porch. We won’t go hungry this year!IMG_0602IMG_0603IMG_0615IMG_0616IMG_0617

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