Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Harvesting and other activities going on in our life

I'm going to do a quick ramble of the things we have been up to lately. I want to say we are super busy but that isn't necessarily the case. We lead a simple, quiet life and that is actually how we prefer it. We do stay busy, we just aren't really caught up in the same kind of busyness that many of our friends are involved in (and sometimes we struggle with that). Our main focus is on showing our children how beautiful the quiet life can be. We want our children to know what it feels like to be bored, how to entertain themselves at home, and to find contentment in what they have. I feel like our life mostly encompasses that. So here is what is going on currently:

1. It's harvest time!

Our small acreage is ripe with fruit and vegetables right now. We are definitely staying busy canning and freezing produce. My mother-in-law came out to help me with canning for a few days. Both my mother and my husbands parents were also here to help pick food from our garden and pick apples from our tree. We have successfully processed apples for applesauce and made apple pie filling, apple juice, cinnamon pickles, salsa, and roasted tomatoes (for spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, pizza sauce, etc). I am still a novice at preserving as this is only my 3rd year at this, but I am learning and growing in my knowledge of canning.

Our family eats a lot so I would love for what we've done to make it a year, but I would be thankful for 6 months!

2. A tractor came into our lives

Since moving out to our small acreage, my husband has wanted a tractor. We finally took the plunge and got one. It has already done several small projects including landscaping, moving out some broken concrete pieces, and enabled us to get apples off the top of the tree for the first time ever. I think we will find it the most useful for snow removal as I'm hoping it will cut the time in at least half of what it was taking.

The kids are loving it, especially Riley. He loves pulling out his tractors now and making them work like he has seen Grandpa and Daddy work the tractor.

3. Preparing for baby

Baby #3 arrives in December and we are getting ourselves ready for this. It will probably be the hardest transition for Riley, who is still a toddler. Payton has been working really hard to help him understand what a new baby will mean for us and how to care for the new baby. We are trying to keep dialogue going with him regularly so he will have a bit of an idea of the change as it comes. Our house is also getting rearranged as we prepare for the arrival of our little one.

We are currently in the process of combining Payton and Riley's room and therefore had to find a system that would work to combine closets. So far, this has been working for us. The kids have not officially moved to the same room yet as I am kind of dreading the transition. Hopefully, it will go smoothly.

4. Preschool

We chose to continue another year of preschool at home. We didn't really take the summer off since Payton refuses to let us give up our regular scheduled period of time to do school work. She loves routine and I have no idea where she would get that from! ;)

In any case, we continue to work for a short period of time in the afternoons on formal school work. Outside of that, we are constantly learning as we go through our days exploring our toys inside, cooking, preserving food, and playing outside.

Each week, we pick a topic we want to learn more about. With that topic we will check out related books at the library, find an art project, create a science experiment, and utilize youtube or abcmouse for more activities. So far we have learned about zoo animals, the solar system, and volcanoes.

This week, Payton wanted to explore cooking so we got some recipe books from the library and she has been a lunch helper all week. She is going to make her own meal for us (with some assistance) at the end of this week and has been trying to decide on her menu still.

I have a friend that is bilingual and she is coming over to work with Payton on Spanish once a week. I review the words with her daily that she is learning. The benefit is that I am learning Spanish as well and Riley is already picking up on some of it. We are so blessed with this opportunity.

5. Play dates and a Parade

Now that summer is over, we seem to be back into full swing with regular play dates. Payton loves seeing her friends again. Our high school just had homecoming and we were able to take the kids to the homecoming parade. They had a blast.

6. Just good old fashioned play time

We are spending a good chunk of our time playing. I love watching the world through my children's eyes. They are learning and growing by leaps and bounds.

I am so very thankful for the time I have been given with them. I can't say that enough and I hope that really resonates within this little blog. God has surely blessed our household beyond measure and we are eternally grateful for this beautiful life we have.

May you have a great week!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Taking Our Zoo to THE Zoo

Our family took our first trip to the zoo. As part of this trip, we also camped for a few days, adding yet another camping trip to our list of the adventures from this summer. We had such a blast and I found myself being a bit sad that this could very well be our last family vacation as a family of 4. Baby #3 will be joining us in December, making us a party of 5. Trips may become a lot more complicated then and maybe even more of a rarity.
Monte took a few days of vacation so we could take an extra long weekend vacation. The morning we were supposed to leave we woke up to trees blocking our road. This delayed our leaving by several hours!
That was really the only wild event that happened though. We arrived at our campsite a few hours later than planned, but that was no big deal since we weren't going to the zoo until the next day.
We love camping and all that comes with that experience. We went for walks throughout the day but never miss the opportunity for an early morning walk, even in pajamas. I have posted before about easy meals we make when camping, but we tried something new and made breakfast sliders. They were very good but a little messy. My kids ate them well but Payton doesn't do the greatest with messy foods so it was harder to convince her to eat them. I do think I will be making them when we have large groups visiting us (like family for the holidays).

On the second day of camping we went to the zoo, the highlight of our whole trip.
We rode horses, fed goats, touched iguanas and snakes, observed the sloth show, dug for  dinosaur bones (in the sandbox), saw all sorts of animals, and hopped on the train. Payton took on the opportunity to hold a butterfly and showed us, once again, that she is truly an animal whisperer. Payton claims everything was her favorite part of the day while Riley loved the monkeys and choo choo train ride.

As we were about to leave, Monte allowed each child to pick something from the gift shop to remember the trip. Riley grabbed a pop up toy that disappeared before the end of the trip and Payton chose a set of butterfly wings. She is now claiming she wants to be a butterfly again for Halloween.
Our zoo trip ended with the train ride and by then Riley was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open. He made it through the ride though but was asleep within minutes of getting into the truck.
He slept right through the ride home, complete with a stop at a drive-thru ice cream shop. We didn't have the heart to wake him so I sat with him in the vehicle at our campsite while he continued to sleep. I think it ended up being an almost 2 hour nap! He was tired.

This vacation took place in the area we went to college so each evening while camping, we had friends stop by to visit. All our visitors were friends from college (or high school) and people we still hold dear to our heart. We hadn't seen them in so long so it was so good to catch up. We were thankful for our time with them but the late nights and early mornings quickly caught up to me!

The day after the zoo, we made the trip home. Payton spent this time planning her return trip to the zoo.
We are back home now and trying to relax after taking the first 24 hours back trying to unpack and get the house caught up. Vacations are always a good reminder to me of how important family time is and how much I treasure my time with my babies. I am also so thankful for this man in my life:
I would never want to do life with anyone else and am so grateful for our time together.

For now, it's back to the daily grind! Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekend Recap and the start to our week

As I was flipping through photos from the last week and a half, I can't help but notice we are almost always outside. That truly defines our little family. Until the weather gets too cold we basically live and breathe in the fresh air. That can also explain why it's so hard for me to find time to sit down and write a blog post, because during the times we are inside for quiet time/nap time, I am typically taking a nap myself (thank you pregnancy #3).

A few days ago, we were blessed with the opportunity to pick fresh sweet corn. The kids had a great time and we are working on slowly harvesting what we picked along with harvesting apples from our own tree.
 We spent Friday at home, enjoying the sand box and play set in the morning. When it got too hot (and humid) to be outside, we headed inside for 101 Dalmatians.
 We don't watch a lot of tv but I allowed it on Friday because I knew our weekend would be super busy. My husband's work had a company picnic and they always go all out. There are small carnival rides, a free buffet lunch, cotton candy, funnel cakes, sno cones, bounce houses, rounds of bingo, face painting, a magician's act, and a photo booth. It is all free and available to company employees (and immediate family) only. It's always a great time. After the picnic, we headed to the lake for another camping trip.

 We were so tired after our busy weekend that we have slowed down quite a bit the last few days. Breakfast on the patio is always a huge hit at our house and jump starts our day with fresh air.  We eat outside for one meal almost every day when the weather is nice.
 Yesterday was the eclipse and we watched it from our house. I loved the scenery views we got just a few minutes before totality. It was gorgeous!
 Yesterday afternoon we took the kids to a traveling museum our community was offering. It will only be there for a few days so, despite our need for more quiet and slow time, we decided to see this while we could.
 The kids had so much fun. Their favorite activity was building houses and testing them to see if they could continue standing against high winds, tornadoes, and earthquakes. With a little help from daddy, they both made safe houses that stood up against the tests.

The kids did so well, we decided to treat them. They still have coupons from the library reading challenge they did over the summer so we let them use those to get some ice cream and cookies.
We may have slightly regretted this special outing when we hit the sugar high.

The rest of our week will be quiet as we prepare for our big family vacation to the zoo next week. We are so excited and can't wait to introduce our zoo animals to the other zoo animals! It's all Payton can talk about right now.

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