Jan 18, 2018

Aliza turns 7! And other happenings.

Aliza Belle, we remember the day you came to join our family; how happy we were, how unique of a story your birth is in our family.  You add life, joy, and boldness to our family.  You are a gift to us from God and we love watching you become the person God made you to be.  You are loved!
 We took this enjoyable group of kids to Varsity Donuts and then came back home for a Treasure Hunt.  Sadly, we overlooked taking pictures, but the kids collected hidden balloons, popped them, and rearranged the letters inside to learn the location of the hidden treasure.  It was a great time.

On another note - What has happened to all the good, wet snows we used to have in this state?  We got this the other day and were thrilled just to have some ground cover.  Oh, the days of tunnels dug through piles of snow.
 Josie has joined a winter basketball team this year.  Nate is assisting in the coaching department.  Some of her team was able to go to the KSU women's game together last week.  They even made the big screen a couple of times, which made their day.
 These two craft the morning away, while the older girls do school.  It is almost an every day event that I emerge from the school room to find pieces of paper, tape, scissors, markers, and assorted desk supplies strewn throughout the kitchen.  Here, they are working on a notebook for their Pokemon cards.
 Pulling taffy.
 Malia teaching some CC friends Dominion.

Grandma Farwell's 90th Birthday!

My dear Grandma turned 90 just before Christmas this past year.  I have so many wonderful memories of getting together with cousins at her house, biking the quarter mile down the highway to play cards with her and get a chocolate chip cookie from the deep freeze.  I still have that recipe, and it is unique to any other chocolate chip cookie recipe I have tasted.  I can still taste it in my memory.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to grow up near both sets of grandparents.  For her birthday, all but one of my cousins, and every single great-grandchild, was able to make it back to celebrate with her!

The original family (minus Grandpa, who is in the nursing home):
 with their spouses:
 Grandma with her grandkids (minus the one):
 ...and with her great-grandkids.  I'm sure there are more to come, but she already has a full quiver. :)

Thanksgiving and Christmas 2017

 Visiting my dear Grandpa Farwell.

Dec 21, 2017

Ready Rakers, Recital, and Rabbit Surgery

After a recent nature study outing, our kids and their friends decided to join forces to form their first business: The Ready Rakers.  With the raking season coming to a close, and with 3 jobs under their belt, I think they consider it a successful season. :)
 These three were feeling cold and needed to rest up for a minute.

In early December we had our annual Piano Recital.  This year we had a total of 16 students participating, and it was a full house!  This is always one of my favorite days of the year.  I think the kids enjoyed it, too. :)  Ezra joined in this year as the youngest performer.   He styled his own hair for the event.

 Our family recently took our annual drive around the neighborhood(s) to look at Christmas lights.   Traditionally, we have followed it up with cheese and crackers, but this year I was inspired to step it up a bit to fit more of a "charcuterie" description.  I can see this being a fun tradition to get creative with over the next few years.

While Nate took kids to the 4-H Christmas caroling and party, I drove to KC to meet up with college friends for a birthday.  A couple of these friends I hadn't seen in 5 years!  We laughed a lot and ate some good German food.

And last Sunday evening was our church's Christmas potluck and skit.  All the kids sang songs, and Josie played the role of King Herod.

 Mabel and Tabi are growing and molting!  They recently went under the knife.  This has re-bonded the kids with these little ladies and the kids have been bringing them in the house more often again.
 Tomorrow it is off to Christmas with families!

Oct 29, 2017

Bits of Fall

This Fall has zoomed by.  Here is this season in snapshots:
Our annual Fall Conference in Salina with Christian Challenge.  Such a sweet time with family friends!
 The kids had a blast reconnecting with these special friends they only get to see at these annual conferences.
 The kids went out independently on the canoes and paddleboats this year.  Which went wonderfully except for the strong winds that trapped them in the corner of the lake.  :)  We were so thankful for our sweet friends to go pull them out.  It took quite the effort and they were our kids' heros!!

Homeschool Co-op and Nature Study with friends:

This fall, Malia and Josie made their entrance into the Manhattan community kids' orchestra.  They joined the Bronze Orchestra and had a great time!  It was a treat for me, as I got to revisit my old stomping grounds at KSU with my daughters.  The building is much the same as it used to be.

Aug 25, 2017

Birthdays, Solar Eclipse, and School Begins!

 This precious girl turned 11 this month!  What I cool girl she is becoming.  I am so happy God decided to put her in our family.  I love watching her grow in valuing God's Word, being thoughful of others, and continuing to have a deep interest in learning about God's created world.  She loves all things astronomy and reptiles right now and her birthday reflected that. :)
After gift opening, we took a jaunt to Reptile World.  The surprise was that Malia got to pick out one to take home. :)
 She is the proud new owner of a crested gecko named Treecko.
 After Reptile World, we hit Northview Pool.
 Then came back for pizza and homemade donuts (that she and I made that morning). 

There were a few other special birthdays this month including some ladies in this picture.  I am so thankful for them.  They add so much value to my life!
A major event happened just yesterday in our neck of the woods: the Total Solar Eclipse!
We did a little learning on our own and at the library earlier this month.
My hometown, an hour and 20 minutes north of here, was in the path of totality, so we packed up this weekend and took off to Bern!
Set with our Astronomy-themed Trail Mix.
 We made eclipse cookies at Grandma's, but they turned out more like annular eclipses, rather than total eclipses. :(
 Several Manhattan friends made the trip up north to watch with us, which made it extra special.  We all viewed together at the Hecht home.  We really thought we were going to miss most of it due to clouds, but they parted at just the right time and we were able to see all 4 phases (C1, C2, C3, and C4) despite the cloudy day.  It was spectacular, particularly the totality phase.  What I found most interesting is how long it stayed light.  It really only got dark just a few minutes before totality and got light again just as quickly afterwards.  We heard locusts come out as it got darker and cooler.  The air was an eerie green, not like a normal dusk.  We saw 1 star or planet, not sure which.  We saw "the ring", "bailey's beads", and the 360 degree "sunset".  We wanted to catch shadow bands, but did not see any.  An extra special gift was that something about the mix of the eclipse and cloudy weather created a 360 degree rainbow around the sun during totality.  The kids were the first to spot that and it stuck around long after totality.  God put on an awesome show, and I feel lucky to have seen it!
 I did not catch any good photos of the event.  I took one during totality with my phone, and it looked nothing like the real thing. But I am thinking that that is okay.  It is such a unique sight, that I am happy to remember it the old-school way - in my mind.  This is one that a friend took.  You can kind of see the rainbow here, but this doesn't portray the way the sun appeared at all.
 And now we are ready to start up another year of school.  This year, the kids told me they wanted to transform one of the rooms upstairs into a school room.  I thought it sounded like fun to make a school room, so I was an easy sell. :)  We are starting Classical Conversations (and a bit more structured approach to our days along with it) this year.  I have loved the flexibility of our first several years of schooling at home.  But as my older to are becoming more independent and want to understand how their day is being used, I am hopeful that this will help them to know better what to expect.  We have been easing into school slowing the last couple of weeks.
The finished room: