16 August, 2017

The End of Summer

Someday when my big kids are at school and one or both babies are napping, I will try to sit down and detail the many events of the summer.

But for now, what I want to remember most years down the line are the feelings of this summer.

Steven has never worked so hard or so long or with such determination and awareness, and it is so inspiring to me to keep on trying. He is tan and I don't think he's ever been more handsome! He followed the kids around the neighborhood on his longboard last week while they sold lemonade door-to-door, and spends the evenings after the kids are in bed talking to me while we watch the fireflies in our backyard.

Gage is becoming a man. He is quick to ask if I need anything and to take charge and tenderly care for his younger siblings. He can't put The Hobbit down, and has downed gallons of orange juice. He would wear the same shirt every day if he could, and yesterday when we sorted through his clothes in preparation for school, he said over and over, "Thanks, Mom, for organizing my closet. It's going to be so easy for me to find good clothes for school!" His front teeth have grown in white and big and sensitive to cold, so he is wary of ice cream bars. I love laughing with him. He beats Steven in Monopoly Deal every night before bed.

Last night I broke down and cried about Kjel leaving for school. My heart ached that so many afternoons of her life were spent with me dozing on the couch, pregnant, while she watched Olivia or Backyardigans. Steven tried to console me, but the truth is, there just wasn't enough time with her. She is part of me in a way I can't describe and I have never before considered homeschooling so seriously. I can't bear to be away from her. Every day she gives me some kind of present and makes little beds for me with paper and crayons and pillows fluffed up and a blanket folded down. When Will got a bleeding owie yesterday, she didn't need to be asked - she just jumped up, got an icepack and a drink of water for him, and silently handed me the things I needed. She is an intuitive nurturer, leader, and creator of beautiful things.

Will is rarely Will - he is usually a giraffe, a robot named Bot, an airplane named Jet, or a dinosaur. "Tan I sit on or lap?" is a commonly asked question and I try to always say yes. He hates it when Merit naps and says over and over again, "Tan I go say hi to Murrit?" We babysat some friends earlier this week and Will was the only one who could get the youngest one to smile. He tickled her belly and asked her to say "Will" and when she did he grinned his contagious smile and said, "You did it! You said ME!" He is less snuggly and more busy than before, ALWAYS in a different world, always imagining. He idolizes Gage and laughs like a maniac with Kjel. He is pure sunshine.

Merit is one very loved baby. With her big belly sticking out over her skinny legs, her hair in a ponytail on top of her head, and some kind of snack in her hand, she is happiest when she's allowed to roam the backyard barefoot. She loves to climb up on the table and stomp around, she hates being lifted down. She loves olives and sometimes eats more for breakfast than the rest of us combined. No matter how rotten she has been, when she's tired and I take her up for a nap, she curls her little head into my chest, sucks her thumb and hugs her orange blanket close. I would be a very rested, very lonely mom without my #4. I can't imagine life without her and that big, toothy grin of hers.

07 August, 2017

Entrepreneur Gage

Gage is always charging his siblings to go into his room, "rent" his books, play with his toys, etc.

He LOVES to make money. A few weeks ago he opened up a savings account with his first $100. Wowie.

One day we came home from running errands and started pulling weeds. "Why don't you go next door and ask the neighbors if they'd like you to pull their weeds? They just moved in and I think they could use help. You could tell them that you want to earn extra money this summer and are willing to work for whatever they think is fair."

Gage was nervous at first, but we role-played his sales pitch a few times, and then my little man hitched up his pants, grabbed an empty trash can, and marched next door. He stood at the door for a LOOOONG time while they little girl went get her dad, came back, and told Gage that the dad said "not today".

I thought Gage would be daunted, but no. He marched right on to the next house and was told no again, that the woman's grandchildren had just recently weeded. But that she would come down to our house and ask Gage to weed the next time she needed help.

So Gage went right down the cul-de-sac and finally found a very sweet neighbor who had a few yard jobs for him. He earned four bucks!

At one house, our neighbor's Chinese grandparents were the only ones home and they do not speak much English. They kept trying to give Gage $2 and kept saying "No pick weeks, no got weeds!" And Gage said, "No thank you, I only take payment for working."

I was so proud of that kid. For working hard, being courageous, and talking so respectfully to his neighbors.

05 August, 2017

Book Parties

This summer, one of our goals was to have a book party each week. The idea came to me last winter when Will's eating was at its worse, and the only way I could get him to eat ANYTHING was to read to him at the table during dinner. Steven was working long hours then, and I was pretty exhausted with a new(ish) baby who had croup non-stop on top of a busy life. One night I made chicken stew and found "The Wolf's Chicken Stew" in our book shelf to read to the kids while they "ate" (ha. ha).

Anyway, I thought to myself 'when I have more energy, I will do a big old party for this book -- we will make the food from the book and do a craft and maybe invite friends." 

Well, I never seemed to get any more energy, but summer is a great time to plan new traditions and things, so we went for it.

Our first book party of the summer was for The Wolf's Chicken Stew (a book dear to my heart, that I once referenced here). We ate donuts, cookies, and made a little pancake craft. And we invited the friends that came to wear aprons. I know I look enormously pregnant in that picture below... nope, just a bad angle... I hope. If I really look like that, my friends need to maybe say something and I should put down the chocolate chip cookies for a bit ;).

Oh yeah! We also pulled out my trusty red cups to stack them up and make a layer cake. So fun.

For our second book party, we celebrated The Boxcar Children. Don't you love those books? I like the mysteries a lot, but the first one is my favorite. We started reading it a few Sundays ago and really couldn't stop. In the evenings after getting Merit to bed, the kids would gather around and I'd read and read and read.

We kept this one pretty simple. I pan fried stew meat, carrots, potatoes and onions with garlic on my stove (my kids HATE any kind of broth, so it was supposed to be like the stew the kids make in the book and I thought it was pretty yummy). But first, I put a pink tea cup, some wheels from a lego set, paper plates and forks out on our trampoline. I assigned each of the kids a character from the book (Gage - Henry, Kjel - Jessie, Will - Bennie, Merit - Violet) and told them to act out the part in the book when Henry goes to work (Steven was the doctor and had Gage go move some rocks around the yard). Jessie (Kjel) brought "Benny" to The Dump (the trampoline) where they found their little treasures. Then Jessie set the table and Bennie played with his wheels while I finished making dinner.

We had milk in a pitcher (there's something really romantic about that), bread and butter, and the "stew". Then, I sent Gage up to his room where they were all playing with a brown lunch sack with chocolate chip cookies (like the bag that Henry comes home with from Dr. Moore's house).

It was simple and really fun.

This week I think we are going to celebrate Snuggle Piggie. Have you read it? It is one of my all-time favorite children's books. I want to have the kids bring their favorite blankets and set up our stuffed animals all around while we read it, then have a big dance party like all the animals do in the book.

Anyway, this is a fun way to really experience our favorite books and to just try to make life a little more magical for the kids without going to great expenses or great distances.
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