...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Family Fun

This past week we plunged into the start of Halloween festivities.  This is always a fun time of year and we have had a great time celebrating so far.
We started out with Ellie's pre-school Halloween program. 
Yes, she cried when I dropped her off at school (which happens every Friday, but since she is my 6th child I am not very much swayed by crying when I know the teachers are incredible and she will be fine...guess I'm a jerk these days).
She looked pretty adorable as a little witch and she had a great day (despite the regularly scheduled rocky start).
(Ok, grandparents, here's a bit of her program.)

That night, Aubrey's friends invaded our house for a party that she had planned.  Aubrey has been on a Cleopatra kick lately (for the past few months) and she asked me to make her a Cleopatra costume for Halloween.  This is what we ended up with.  She was pleased and that is what matters most.  (If you are interested in making something like this I just took one of her t-shirts, traced it into my pink fabric  -- which was just some leftovers I had that a lady gave me a couple years ago -- then I extended the bottom to dress length, sewed up the sides, hem, neck and sleeves and there you go.  The arm bands are just simple elastic in fabric -- a glorified scrunchie really -- with swaths of gold fabric attached to look flowy.  The gold was $1/yard so it isn't awesome, but it works...nothing complicated going on here).

We decorated the living room (the crows were a nice touch since we watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" as part of our party).
Her friends arrived (a few came late and missed our picture, but we still love them).

 Anyway, we played games, made each other into mummies, ate dinner and watched  movie.  I think they all had a good time and that was the plan so I guess we did ok.

The next day was our ward/neighborhood trunk-or-treat.  I was SuperMom that day (not) and didn't remember to take pictures of all my littles while they were dressed up.  Oops.  Good thing I have actual Halloween coming soon so I can fix that small oversight. 
I did, however, get a picture of Josh and I.  We never put much effort into dressing up because we are cheap and lazy, but we came a bank robbers.  Josh spent much of the time cooking hot dogs for the dinner portion but he said lots of people said, "Oh, that must be your wife over there by the fake bank..." so I'm glad we got to be connected in spirit (or in theft, whichever way) even if we didn't see each other much that night. 
(You can't really see it but our sign says "DE BANK: where they keep de money"
which was play on our last name, DeMoux)

Seriously, if you are in charge of your area's trunk-or-treat our committee did an AMAZING job with ours this year.  It was really really organized and I LOVED it.  They had the path around the parking lot roped off so it was easy to know where to start and where the finish was.  They stamped the kids hands at the beginning so the kids (especially the older ones) couldn't sneak through the path over and over (which is a problem we've had in the past).  They had plastic bags for kids who didn't have a sack to hold their treats.  We also did a simple hot dog and chips dinner after which gave people a good reason to hang out and mingle for a while.  It was just really a great activity.  Thanks everyone involved.
There will be more Halloween fun for us as the week goes on, but this has been en exciting start.  Next stop, pumpkin carving.  Wahoo!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Impromptu physics!

The other day we happened upon physics quite by accident.

I love it when that happens.

We took our boys to the local skate park because they are interested in skate boarding at the moment (I do love to encourage them to explore and try new things).  

This particular skate park happened to have a bowl which was new to the boys so they got to work trying to ride up and down the sides of the empty pool (or that's what it looks like to me).  Josh trained the boys to stay low on their boards and keep themselves centered with the ground no matter what angle they are riding on.  We told them it helped to stay low and centered because they are then taking advantage of their center of gravity.

And that's where physics popped in.  Suddenly they wanted to know what in the world center of gravity was.

Well, I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that, so after a simple explanation of the concept we decided to put it into action with a little experiment.  Here's what happened.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Simple and Tasty Apple Crossovers

Like I mentioned earlier this week, we accidentally came into a bunch of apples of late (and thank you to our apple donors, we love you!).  

So, I decided an apple dessert was in order.  After all, it is fall.

Since I am neither a fabulous cook nor a creative genius in the kitchen I just had to go with something simple.  I decided to make a delicious batch of apple crossovers.  They were pretty yummy.

Here's what I did.

1. I diced up four medium sized apples.  Then I stirred about 1/3 cup of sugar into the bits (be sure to stir it well so every piece gets coated).  I then added 2-3 Tablespoons of flour (I'm not sure exactly how much, just enough to thicken up the juices of the mix).  I was left with something that looked like this.  It was sweet and crunchy and good.  

2. Next I pulled out two packages of refrigerator crescent rolls.  I placed a dollop of apple mix in the center of each unfolded crescent and then folded the three sides in to cover the apple.  It looked like this.

3. Then I drizzled some melted butter over the rolls (what doesn't taste better with a bit of butter?) and popped them into the oven for about 20 minutes.

4. When they came out, and while they were still hot, I mixed up a simple glaze made from powdered sugar and milk (mix the two together to the consistency you like, I honestly didn't measure so I don't know how much of each...it should be thin but not watery).  

5. Let these cool for a bit and then serve them.  They were a sweet finish to dinner that night (and we don't do dessert that often so it was a special treat!).  



And involving fruit which makes it healthy, right?  

Ok, maybe not that last one.  But still tasty.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Apples to Apples (sauce or juice, either way)

My Grandpa sent us a bunch of apples to end off the growing season.  We had already made a lot of applesauce, not to mention his apples are a bit tart so they don't make the best applesauce on their own.

Lucky for us, our Sweet neighbor across the street also happened to share with us some apples that had been given to her so by combining the two varieties we managed a much sweeter mix.

But rather than just head straight to sauce, we opted to try our hand at making apple juice.  Never done that before, it's always fun to try something new.  It turned out really tasty and I think we just might tackle this project again next year.

If you are interested in giving this a shot, here is how we did it.

1. Procure a whole big bunch of apples.  Check.

2. Put 3-4 inches of water in the bottom of some pans and bring the water to a boil.

3. Chop your apples in quarters and ease them into the hot water bath.  Ahhhh, refreshing (plus this will make your house smell FaBuLoUs!).  Let the apples bathe for 1-2 hours (we did both 1 hour and 2 hours in different batches and they both worked).

4. Place a strainer or colander over a larger bowl.  Pour your apple/water into the colander.  Your apples will be ultra mooshy, but that's fine.  Let the apples drain into the bowl for a while stirring some to let all the liquid fall through.  That liquid is your juice.

5. We used the apple mash that was left to make more apple sauce.  We have a food strainer which separates peels and seeds from the pulp and mashes it up as well so that worked well for us.  

6. Our apple juice still had some pulp in it and my children will DIE if we try to present juice to them that way so we ran all the juice through a cloth to pull out the pulp.

And TA DA!!  Fabulous apple juice!  

We ended up with a gallon and a half from the apples we processed.  We did add just a smidgen of sugar for our children's taste, but it actually tasted really good on its own.  We learned that it is best to use a little less water at the start of the process because you can always add more water at the end if your apple flavor is too strong (it's a little harder to make more juice to even out a flavor that is too watery).

And eight more quarts of apple sauce.  We did have to add a fair amount of sugar and cinnamon to this because, like I said, my grandpa's apples are a little on the tart side.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Witches Galore!

Since Josh was off of school on Monday we decided to take advantage of his presence and take our annual trip to Gardner Village to see the witches.

This is one of my favorite field trips that we take each year.  I love it.  I love fall anyway, but add to that ornately adorned life size (or more) witch figures stashed all over the grounds.  They are a little bit different every year and that makes it fun.  This year we found a witch on her eye-phone (a phone made of eyeballs), that was the kid's favorite find of the day.

Anyway, this adventure also tends to be a great photo op for fall fun so here is the best of our day trip for you to enjoy (and you really should go visit these lovely ladies yourself if you get the chance...have your kids do the scavenger hunt to earn a free cookie in the bakery).

Friday, October 18, 2013

In the DeMoux house...

A bit of weirdness around our house of late...
I found this picture (and about 30 more just like it) hiding in my camera.  Not sure who was so enthralled with the dead insect, but it made it abundantly clear to me that I needed to clean the slides on those windows...yugh!
These little ladies have been spending loads of time together while school has been out for a couple days.  I love seeing my girls love on each other.  They are fabulous!

And last but not least, this is how I found my husband napping the other day.  Doesn't look too comfy to me, but hey, I don't judge.  Silly guy.  Sure do love that man.

I'm glad I have such an entertaining family.  They keep me on my toes and I wouldn't want it any other way.  Love these people.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Please don't "hurry up" the children

This week I read a book that really has me thinking.  I LOVE a book that makes me think.  The book is entitled "The Hurried Child: Growing up Too Fast Too Soon."

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Too Fast Too SoonThe premise of this work is that in today's society we are pushing our children to sprint through childhood and move on to bigger and better things much too quickly and it is to their detriment.  The author looks at everything from early reading and writing to premature exposure to sexuality and extreme violence. 

Now, this isn't just based on some random guy's opinions on the matter, the book is full of research and study after study that supports the author's personal findings.  Some of the information is pretty dramatic and extremely surprising. 

The overarching idea here is that we (as parents, teachers, leaders etc) do our children a great disservice by forcing them to scurry past childhood into adult issues and problems before they are really ready.  By doing so we sabotage their progress and deprive them of learning experiences which would prepare them to face adult concerns later in their lives.  The author links this "hurry up" behavior to issues like gang violence, suicide, depression, divorce and a myriad of other societal woes.

One particularly intriguing fact about this book is that the author was able to document the harmful effects of this "hurry up" behavior...and his book was written in 1981.  That's right ladies and gentleman, this psychologist charted the dangers of this practice more than 30 years ago!  Some of his comments are almost laughable because we have progressed along this sad path so much further than when the book was written.

Now, I don't agree with every word he wrote here, but I find merit in his work.  I have watched first hand as people I know...and sometimes it's me that I'm talking about...treat children as their peers rather than their children.  They expose youngsters to adult themes instead of protecting and preserving their innocence as long as possible.  They expect kids to rationalize and decision make in an adult way when said kids don't have the experience to bring understanding.  They place emotionally overpowering ideas, decisions and pains on the backs of youths expecting them to buoy up the adults around them and to make informed choices that they are not mature enough to fully understand.  Sometimes they trivialize childhood as though it is a disease to be overcome rather than an important learning stage.

I had my first personal experience with this sort of thing when my oldest son was four.  Even though it was small and (hopefully) not too damaging it was still a powerful experience for me.

At a play group, a couple of moms told me how their children (who were the same age as my son) had started reading on their own.  They smiled semi-condescendingly when they learned that my little boy couldn't read yet (or that's how I felt).

I felt sheepish and, honestly, a little bit jealous.  It hadn't occurred to me to teach my son to read.  We read stories together every day and were learning our ABC's together, but I hadn't thought to take things further than that. 

Well, I decided if they could do it so could we.  I was not going to have my very bright and capable little boy be left behind. 

So I started drilling (yes, looking back that is exactly the right word)  Bryce on letter sounds every day.  At first he was pleased to be learning something new, but soon it become a bit of a dreaded drudgery.  I wanted to work on sounds several times a day and he had other interests (like dirt and Lego's). 

Pretty soon he had the letter sounds down pretty well so I started trying to force him to sound out simple words so that he too would be able to read.  Remember that he was only four years old. 

My turning point came one evening when I was sitting in his room with him drilling again.  I was starting to get frustrated because he just couldn't put sounds together to make words.  I remember huffing a nearly angry breath and looking down at him.

And that's when I saw it.

I saw this little boy who wanted so badly to please me.  He wanted so much to do what I was asking, but it just wasn't clicking for him.  He had tears in his eyes, and I was the ogre who put them there.

I stepped back.  I realized that there is no requirement that four year olds be able to read.  I realized that this little guy had talents and skills and loved learning IN THE WAY THAT WORKED FOR HIM AND IN A TIME THAT WORKED FOR HIM TOO.  Reading at age four was not right for my young son (maybe it is for yours, I don't know, that is for your family to decide).  I needed to reign myself in and allow him to be little.  I needed to let him explore and discover and make mistakes and unearth new understanding without forcing him to rush through an extremely important phase of his life. I need to encourage and support him rather than dragging him through my agenda for his life.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying we should never push our children to grow and progress -- that is extremely important. I'm not condoning complacency or settling for the least possible passing effort.  What I am saying is that this whole growing up thing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Let's encourage and help them along their way instead of forcing them to try to gallop when what they need is to trot.

(As a side note, Bryce did enter kindergarten without the ability to read on his own...but he has managed just fine.  He is now in 8th grade and is a voracious reader who devours any book he can get his hands on.  He reads faster than I do and reading has become one of his favorite recreational activities.)

So what if our kid doesn't know the name of every letter when they enter kindergarten?  Will his or her life be ruined by that?

So what if our sixth grader isn't interested in classical poetry? (I happened to have recently had a sad moment where all six of my children scoffed at me as I tried to share with them a lovely Robert Frost piece, but they wanted me to read Shel Silverstein to them instead.)

So what if our budding violinist isn't first chair all the time?  How many of these young learners really grow up to be professional musicians?

And more than that, is there really merit in pushing our children to experience everything life has to offer before they exit middle school?  Why do they need to be exposed to graphic sexuality, radical violence, extreme language, and other coarse concepts?  Are we protecting them by forcing them into the deluge of explicit information, images and experiences that are available just because we can?

We can try to force our kids to mature fast, but what are we really doing?  We are handing them the cliff notes on life rather than letting them revel in the language and imagery of the real creation.  We are shoving them into the deep end where they will likely struggle to breathe because they have not had the gradual building of knowledge and understanding that equip them with a powerful grasp of who they are in this world. Not awesome.


Dig for worms instead of watching a drama.

Laugh at knock knock jokes rather than scoffing at how childish they are.

Don't force fashion to become more important than personal choice.

Be careful what you talk about in front of small ears.

Happily enjoy dress-up rather than pushing a love of make-up.

Try not to let your problems dribble into your child's tablet of worries.

Listen to what children have to say even if it seems silly (and it will seem silly sometimes, what you and I have to say is silly sometimes too).

Indulge the inkling to pretend.

Watch for chances to teach tiny lessons (not everything needs to be addressed in a sermon) -- and smile when you do it.

Remember that mistakes are some of the very best learning experiences ever.

Sing your babies to sleep at night for as long as they will let you.

And most of all, decide that childhood is beautiful and it is something to be reveled in not rushed through.  Don't hurry your way through your chances to teach and lead your small ones.  It is a beautiful thing to watch them grow.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Compost bin for my Boy Scout

Bryce and I have been working on his gardening merit badge for scout lately.  He did a lot of helping in the garden from planting and weeding to watering and harvesting.  He was heavily involved in the de-caterpillaring of our tomato plants (GROSS!).  He also helped us process and can some of our tomato sauce so he has had a lot of garden fun lately.
Ok, maybe he hasn't been quite a thrilled about it as I have, but he does have an amazing attitude and rarely lets grumpiness find its way to the top of his emotional pool. 
Anyway, as part of this merit badge Bryce needed to create a compost bucket and maintain it for 90 days.  We are almost to the 90 day mark (and good thing because it is starting to get cold).  I thought we would show  you how we created our compost bin.  It has worked well for us and wasn't to hard to make or maintain.
Here's how we did it (and then make adjustments for what will work better for you).
1.  We started with two 5-gallon buckets.  One needs to have a lid, the other doesn't.
2. Next, we used a drill to make holes in the top AND bottom of one bucket.  Make sure your holes aren't too big or else you will invite flies and other nasty creatures to wander their way in.  Use a small drill bit and bake LOTS of holes top and bottom.

3. Now, the bucket with the holes should sit INSIDE of your other bucket.  This allows all the goopy, fluid gunk to drip through your compost pile and land happily in the second bucket instead of leaving a grotesque puddle on your grass or carport or wherever you store this baby.

4. Now, start filling your bucket.  You can use grass clippings, plant remains (it's a good idea to break them into smaller pieces so they can decompose faster), table scraps and any other organic matter you come across (egg shells, leaves, moldy bread, anything like that).  When you get something new just toss in into your bucket, snap the lid back on, roll it around a bit to shake everything together (so it doesn't matt together in a big mass).  Leave the bucket outside to let rain, wind and other weather work on it.  You'll need to dump the bottom bucket occasionally (your garden will love this liquid).
And that's it!  You can just sit back and watch as your bin composts otherwise garage bound stuff into usable fertilizer and organic matter.
Good stuff.  Thanks scouting!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Growing up: the glad and the sad of it

The other morning I was happily minding my own business when suddenly this came upstairs ready to head off to school.
What the heck!
Who gave her permission to grow up so fast?  Whoever it was did NOT get my approval on that one.  I want her to stay my sweet little princess for just a tiny bit longer. 
But, sadly, no.  She is 11 going on 18.  She is anxious to mature and make choices and dig in to her life more deeply each moment.
Now, don't get me wrong here, I am extremely pleased with the young lady she is choosing to grow into...it just happened WAY too fast. 
That's the thing about raising children.  There is this constant battle between nostalgia and growth.  I love watching my sweethearts stretch and learn and become something more than they were the day before.  But then I miss the innocence and simplicity of the day before.
What a beautifully wistful adventure parenthood is turning out to be.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...