Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Jumping Jack

A jumping jack was a puppet that was sold at The Great Fairs of the Middle Ages. They were typically carved of wood and painted to make lots of fun for children and adults, alike.

Here is our version of a Jumping Jack puppet. The pattern for this puppet is found in Days of Knights and Damsels, Activity Book by Laurie Carlson.
I enlarged the pattern on my copy machine and copied it on white card stock. The total size of this puppet is 20 inches. Youngest son colored it to his preference and it was put together with brass brads. You need to make the the brads loose enough that the puppet will swing its legs.

Next you thread the string. We used yarn and a large tapestry needle for this part. Tie a knot at the end of the yarn and thread the needle. Make a new hole with the needle above the place where the brad is inserted. Do this on both sides and the legs as well as shown below. Trim all the extra yarn. Finally, connect a long piece of yarn to the top horizontal thread connecting the arms and then connect the same piece of yarn to the bottom horizontal yarn connecting the legs. We decided to thread a few beads on the pull string that was hanging down.

And here it is in action!

Tapestry of Grace is a perfect fit for our family. It has such creative ways to teach about all periods in history. We are having loads of fun with Medieval History and this craft is perfect for my 9 year old son. I don't think I would have come up with this creative idea on my own. Thank you, TOG
Blessings, Suzie

Monday, October 26, 2009

Photography Class

Here is a special post from Naomi, dear daughter. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. I hope you enjoy. Suzie

I have been taking a photography class these past few weeks and these are some of my favorite assignment pictures. They're all about reflection. Take a look:
In this picture it looks like an upside down landscape.

You can see in this picture the neck of the ducks are reflecting on the water.

This is my favorite picture! I love the fall colors on the tree reflecting on the water!
It just seems so pretty.

Jeremiah 16:7-8
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yeilding fruit.

Blessings, Naomi

Sunday, October 25, 2009

BEST Robotics Competition

This is our homeschool group robotics team video that we created from the events of our 2009 season. It was a fantastic experience. Dh did a great job dubbing it all.
If you want more information or to contact a BEST Robotics hub in your area, go here.
I hope you enjoy. Blessings, Suzie

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Is In The Air

I approach with aniticipation, this time of year. It is, hands down, my favorite time of year.

Fresh pumpkins, mums in full fall color blooms, the smell of hot apple cider, the vibrant fall color of the leaves as they change color, smoke burning in the fireplace, all these things remind me of fall.

We visited a pumpkin patch today, and came home with five pie pumpkins. You know what we will do with those. Several of the moms were asking about how to cook them so that you can use the pumpkin and it is not so watery. Here is how you do it.

Oil a cooking sheet that has sides on it. Cut the pumpkin on half and remove the seeds and pulp. Turn half of the pumpkin upside down on the cooking sheet. I repeat this process for the second half, as I tend to pick large pumpkins. If its a small pumpkin, you can put both on the cookies sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven for 2 hours, or so, until the skin becomes dark brown and blistered. The pumpkin is going to cook by steaming itself. You may think you are burning it but you are not. After it becomes brown, take it out and let it cool. It will look like it is shrivelling as it cools and that if fine. After it is cool, the skin will just peel off and that beautiful pumpkin is soft and workable. I usually process mine in the food processor and then freeze in freezer bags, 2 cups at a time. Don't add the excess liquid from the pan back in as you process, as it may make your pumpkin too thin. It will seem thinner than the canned stuff but it has never caused me a problem. Some recipes may just need to bake a bit longer. Also, the cost effectiveness of cooking your own pumpkin is phenomenal!

Also, don't throw those seeds away. My family loves to munch on them. Here is how I process them.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

4 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried

2 T cooking oil of choice

1 t salt

sandwich bags

Rinse pulp and strings from seeds. Drain off excess water. Mix seeds, oil and salt in a bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Let stand for 24-48 hours, stirring once in a while. (I just let the cookie sheet sit in my off oven for a couple days) Remove wax paper and toast seeds in oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Stir once or twice. Drain seeds on paper towel. Store in airtight container.

Another favorite of ours, during this time of year is hot apple cider. Here is how we do that.

Apple Cinnamon Cider

1 gallon of apple juice or cider

3 sticks of cinnamon

1/4 t allspice

5 pieces of candied ginger

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

2 oranges, sliced

Simmer slowly for a wonderful aroma (your nose will be able to tell when it is done) and then serve in mugs. Store leftovers (if there are any) in jar in fridge and reheat in microwave for a wonderful morning treat.

I hope your fall days are delightfully bright.

Blessings, Suzie

The Summer Project

This past summer we resolved to do something about our garage.  We needed to convert it to storage and living space, however, we did not have a lot of funds to do so.  I had begun food storage and needed another place to put it, as well as a need to have it organized and be able to know what I had.

It was very frustrating to find tools all over the house and garage, never knowing where to find one when you needed it.

And finally, we were swimming in books.

With these three things, the inside of our home was busting at the seams.

So we formulated a plan for zones in our garage.    One area for pantry space, one for books and finally a home for all the tools.  We also had a bit of space left over for a children's play area.

When we were all finished, here is how it looked.

One area for tools, home repair and lawn equipment.  Now I can find a tool when I want it and mostly I can train the children to put them away when they are finished with them.

This is the area for books storage.  Our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, uses many living books and thus we need a place to store our books.  These are not all school books.  David has Bible book collections from his father and grandfather and now, my grandpa too.  When all these were in our house, I ofen felt as though we were being over run by books.  You can also notice my bulk bucket storage is here as well.  They are only one bucket deep so I don't have to go digging for the right one.  There is an 8ft. by 10ft. space in front of these shelf where the children can play with blocks and build expansive wooden train design.  We put an area rug down to make it more comfortable for them to be on it.   With the laundry area out here (not pictured)  I spend a lot of time out here so now I just clean this each week like the rest of the house.
Note:  my yongest child is 9, so there is not a need to gate up the tool area, but if I had smaller children, that would be very easy to do.
This area is the pantry area.  It is like a small  hallway, formed by using shelving units.  There are identical shelving units on each side.   These are heavy duty units that we bought several years ago, from Sam's Club.  They will hold lots of jars, both full and empty.  I did a lot of canning this summer.  As  you can see, not all of this is food:)  I am still in the process of going through a lot of my grandmother's things that we brought home.  It is truly a process.  This gives me a bit of space to put the boxes while a grieve and ponder a bit.  Eventually, this will all be pantry space.  I think it will force me to go through things as I am ready, and as I need more space.  
As far as cost goes, I think we spent around $100.00 and that was for the supplies to build the book shelving.  The pantry shelves, we already had, we just repurposed them.   We also spent about $20.00 of that on the hole hanging system for all the tools.  This has been a real easy way to get folks around here to put the tools away, just hang them where they go.   I can also think of some other ways that this might be useful in the house, painted beautifully for hanging jewelry, if a person had lots of it.
Blessings for a wonderful day,  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Challenges with a Robot....and life

The last couple weeks and the next few to come have been filled with problems solving in many different areas of life.  My two oldest children and dh are part of our local Homeschool Robotics Team.  They are building a robot for the BEST Robotics Competition in Oklahoma City in 2 weeks.  The children (and dads) have been working tirelessly on this project for four weeks now, two more to go.

Here is our current robot.  We finished putting the claw on last night only to find that the arm motor could not lift the claw, it was too heavy.  However, do not lose heart.  Only  a slight modification is needed, a little counterweight on the other end, to help the motor our a bit.

My thoughts tonight are not really about the robot, but life.  God is the ultimate designer of us all.  Just as with the robot, God is constantly fine tuning us for His glory.  He doesn't throw the whole thing away and start over, he just makes fine little adjustments.  When challenges come my way, I need to remember that these are just wrenches, thrown my way to help me make adjustment, for the glory of Him.

A verse for today, James 1:2-3

My bretheren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of

your faith produces patience.

Blessings,  Suzie