Friday, August 29, 2014

End of summer...almost! ~musings~

Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

The weather here in Colorado has been glorious. Early mornings are crisp...a little taste of the soon to be fall weather. The days are sunny, warm,  and I'm noticing...a tad bit shorter. The planner in me is already getting together a list of autumn themed crafts and recipes to make mid September - I'm SO excited for fall this year! 
First of all, I will be turning the big (well, not really so very big) 30 next month. I feel like I have been waiting for 30 my entire life - it has always been my dream age. No more explaining to people why I am in my mid 20's with oodles of children (I had four kids under five by the time I was 26.)
 Yes, now if someone says "wow, you have a lot of kids for your age" I can confidently say "well, I am in my 30's."
 I think 30 is a confident number - it sounds like it knows what it's doing. I feel like 30 likes it's personality and it's hair and it's body type. I'm going to really like being 30. 

 My second reason for being excited for September is that Zac told me to sign up for the women's retreat at our church - last time I was away completely ALONE without either husband or a baby on my hip was almost 11 years ago. I probably wouldn't have been so eager to say "yes" to going if the retreat wasn't going to be hosted at a gorgeous facility in Estes Park. Friends to be made, sleep (if I'm not up laughing and drinking cooca all night), not having to share my food,  and gold aspens are calling my name. I'm completely stoked. 

With that being said, I feel like at least half of the projects I wanted to complete this summer never got done. I never planted flowers in the kids little flower boxes, I have at least 20 crafts that I didn't get around to... several hikes that never got hiked. Lots of things. Maybe that's the problem with lists - you can look back on them and feel bad about what you didn't get accomplished. At the same time, you can look back at all of the things you crossed off and feel pretty terrific. 

I'm choosing to feel terrific. Maybe not everything got done, but I can honestly say that we have been active, we have been pursuing creativity, the kids are learning to work as a team and to help around the house - and we are giving them opportunities to be big. 
I'm letting them make their own food, sweep floors, fold laundry....sand chairs and spray paint them! I'm letting go and in the mean time letting my kids be. It's been pretty wonderful to see all of the things they are capable of doing if they have the opportunity to do them. This summer has been a time of transition for our family. Our last baby became a preschooler, we have found ways to interact and connect with our Brady, Trinity has become an awesome reader and LOVES art...has finally made a few friends and can wash dishes as well as me, clean a room almost better then me - plain and simple...she's a little 6 year old grown up. Tristan has begun "pretend play" with his big sister which is a big step for a child on the spectrum - and most of all, he seems to enjoy it. This is the first season of my life that I actually actually see that my kids are growing up. Even though our littles are still little, I have had a glimpse, a taste, of life with older children. 

I love seeing my littles figure things out. I love seeing ideas "click." I love watching them grow. 

So with the end of August just around the bend, I'm going to squeeze as much as I can out of the remainder of summer. We will use up the flowers, we will be barefoot, we will eat one to many smores and replace meals with cold smoothies. We will play a little longer outside in the evenings, we will feed the birds in our yard, we will try to go for long walks every week (our last walk we found 10 baby toads!) Our littles will climb trees, kick soccer balls, gobble up as many blueberries and grapes as humanly possible....

...and I will start sorting clothes into "too small" piles. I will start collecting warm sweaters and rain boots for 6 pairs of feet. I will buy pumpkin and apples and stock up on hot teas. I will have echinacea ready and elderberry syrup handy. Time will keep ticking on...lists will keep being made and items crossed off - but my goal will remain the same in each season :
to find light in eight blue eyes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Morning, Noon, and Night ( A little late)

9 am ... a not so little boy asked me if he could do a craft. He worked hard for over two hours researching soccer jerseys and creating his own with a white shirt and some sharpies. 

3 pm - Zac and I cut the boys bunk beds in half (well, not quite half) and created our own Ikea hack! 

I haven't finished the room yet but wanted to show their little cubby hideout. 

6:30 pm ... a cool breeze through our window (feels like fall today), dinner eaten, dishes washed, and Daddy's turn to play X box with one of his biggest fans. 

*note for all mom's reading my blog - these are the moments today I decided to capture on camera. We are real people - there were plenty of dirty dishes, arguments between siblings, and scraped knees. It's nice knowing that even though everyday isn't perfect, there are always moments of beauty to be found (if looked for) and ALWAYS moments to give thanks for. *

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

School Photos ... Mama-Made

Morning, Noon, and Night

Three glimpses into my day

7:00 am ... the trees outside my bedroom window

3:00 pm ... getting Trinity's lunchbox ready for her first day of Options (a program that allows homeschooled children to have a complete day of electives with other homeschoolers in the community.) 

10:00 pm ... getting under my NEW duvet for the first time (this should keep me cheery this winter!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

School on Monday - and Character

I always thought I hated science. Ok, I didn't think, I knew.  All those big words and concepts and for the brain of a creative/visual person --- most science classes that I have ever taken sounded like a tv when it's all snowy without a signal....just a buzz in my head that eventually either led me to fall asleep or stare in confusion. I told myself over and over "I think I can, I think I can" like that brave little train we've all read about. Except, I couldn't. It's was just so very very boring in every way. 
Until now.  

Who ever knew that learning about blood could be so fun? Reading about red and white blood cells, the importance of platelets ...sounds boring right? It is, unless you make the words come to life. A simple jar with white lima beans (white blood cells) and some red hot candies (red blood cells) and then a few lentils to represent platelets ...fill with oozing corn syrup for plasma and it's blood in a jar. Pair this with some interesting you tube videos...

... a "scab" model...

...kid's creative drawings of what's in a drop of blood...and you have yourself some real fun. 
I'm becoming pretty excited about all
I  they
can learn this year. 


I've been reading a lot this week, trying to find...what's it called again? Oh yes, the elusive "silence." I found this quote by Mother Teresa and rather love it: 

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.
As a stay at home, silence isn't something I'm use to. I long for it, and then when there are a few moments that I might actually just sit in stillness, feeling peace, hearing God...just being - I turn on music. I watch a show. I hop on my computer - silence can be unnerving. Silence can be uncomfortable. But, if you allow yourself to dive in, take a moment...and just simply be, you can hear. I've made room for quiet...some how miraculously, even if it's only five minutes, and I've already felt just a little bit different. I've been spoken to, I've been appreciative, I've been burdened and been able to voice it to God in a peaceful setting. 
One of the things I've been challenged to do, from my quiet and from my added reading (yes indeed, I've made it a purpose to start reading again) is that I need to re purpose as a mom the importance of teaching my kids Good Character. Meaning, I have to also pursue good character for myself. So, I decided to give us a new "class" of sorts in our schooling. We are naming it (once again with great originality) ...wait for it....

Character Building Class (applause is welcomed)

For our Character Building Lessons we are going to base several weeks on this passage :

 Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

I found an awesome link that has printables, memory verses, fun ways to teach the kids the fruits of the Spirit and to actually make it to where they can understand with "hands on" lessons. I'm hoping you might enjoy this  site as well. 

The kids loved the example of eating different fruits and discussing how you can never get an apple from a peach tree, or an orange from an apple tree. We had a long conversation about what "bad fruit" in our life might look like (anger, jealously, greediness) and then of course what the good fruits are (the fruits of the Spirit, love, gentleness, joy, ect.) They colored their little picture and discussed how the boys in the picture can show love for others. Then we did a creative writing assignment and made a list of the ways we can love generally (all people) and particularly (a specific person in a specific way.)

When I was little I loved the Music Machine cassette tape my brothers and I had, so I looked them up on YouTube. Lo and behold, they were on there and there was one episode about Love that I had heard years and years ago and just adored. I played it for the kids while I went to make snack and they were completely absorbed. You can find the episode we watched here
To end our Love Lesson, we went around the table and shared on area that we think we are pretty good at that represent the Fruit of the Spirit. We also shared one "bad fruit" this is a challenge for us. I encouraged the kids that when they see the other one showing love to speak words of encouragement and to notice and to praise. We also talked about just like a fruit tree needs to be watered and pruned and taken care of to give fruit, we need to pursue good character - it isn't just going to instantly come to us without any work. 
I always think that I'm researching and teaching my kids these awesome lessons that will be good for them, and in the end...I think I might be the one who is effected the most. 
When God tells us that children are a gift, you can believe Him. 

Learning and I'm thankful, 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Second Hand Treasures Saturday

Before I begin this post I would like to make one thing perfectly clear , not all of these thrifted treasures are from just one shopping spree. I would never buy out a thrift not me (ahem.) No, seriously though, these items are all from the last month and I share them because... 

a. the feeling of paying pennies for gorgeous items feel like robbery (yet you get away with it)
b. buying items USED when you can saves lots of cha ching $$$$$
c. I have very eclectic taste so thrift stores serve me well
d. it's just plain fun to show deals and steals (and I don't really have anyone to share them with in person...besides my, errrr...little family - and that just doesn't do.)

Steal number one - a lovely pine desk (i think originally from Ikea.) I love it in this space in our bedroom, right under the window where I have lots of light. I have set one half of our room up so that I can have a quiet place to send kids when they are doing workbooks (our little boys are rather loud and there is NO way possible to concentrate on ANYTHING when they are running circles and diving off the couch. Our little bedroom space has served us well these last two weeks. ) I think the desk was 10 bucks and that chair I got at a yard sale for five dollars last year - it has an awesome yellow green velvet seat - pretty sure it's from the 70's. I can do yoga in this room and look at my peaceful white orchid, study and write at my modern Ikea desk while sitting in my flower child chair. Perfection.

I found this little framed piece of art this afternoon - it's signed by the artist from Norway and the back still had the sheet of paper that tells about the city (Bergen) and this one particular building called the Bryggen and a tram system that went my it - I guess the Bryggen at one point was one of the most complex wooden buildings in the world.  Love the frame, love the mat, love the colors. 

We didn't go to a beach this summer ...therefor a bag of shells so we can pretend we did. Trinity was in heaven feeling all of the textures and running her fingers over the pastel shells. Perhaps I can find a little kids craft for them?

I found the perfect basket to go in our little reading nook. I confess, I have a basket fetish - the more the better in my book. Baskets just scream of gypsy weavers sitting by a dirt road perfecting their art...or a time long ago when a young girl would head out for the orchards, a basket on her hip and a bonnet on her head, eager to collect  a quart of apples for her baking day. Yes, I just love me some baskets. 

This one in particular is very heavy duty and has two perfect handles on either side - we have named it "Our Library Basket " (catchy isn't it? Almost as original as naming your bird Sweetie.)

Now don't laugh - I found this man's coat and it was a size small so I decided it would work for me. I don't have a lined coat for these Colorado winters and have decided that it's going to be a MUST to find a good one this year. This denim one will do the trick for awhile. 

Found this little gorgeous red number for my gingerbread girl (check out her tan!) 

...a rocky horse for Finn - several people watching me come out of the thrift store were green with envy...I guess rocking horses are high in demand these days? One man stopped me and says "found yourself a little rocking horse did ya?" I told him (obviously) "why yes I did, isn't he cute?" The man says back " he sure is and seems to be in good condition." I told him that I thought it was in perfect condition and went on my way ...realizing later that I probably could have sold it to him for a profit if I had wanted to. Next time...maybe next time. 

For my Tristan...a pair of under armour cleats...

...and some fireman boots. As long as a boy has some shoes to play soccer in and some boots to fight fire you're set in our family. 

If you would like to play along on Second Hand Treasures Saturday post on your blog, link back to me and let me know! I would love to ooh and ahh over your steals. 

Feeling Thankful ... 
Alyssa Spring

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Elderberry Syrup

So, most cough syrups are pretty nasty for you - and do the opposite of what they are suppose to. Natural cough syrups from the health food store are convenient and usually wholesome, but very expensive if you are having to give it around the clock to multiple children (like, we may have to skip eating for a week in order to medicate the family.)
A few years ago when I started playing around with holistic medicine I learned a very simple tincture's so very easy and in the end you have a whole quart of fresh, organic, toxin free cough syrup for a fraction of what it would cost at the drugstore. 
Here's how I do it :

I buy some of my herbs online, often on Amazon. If there is a deal going on at Bulk Herbs I will use them, but being on a budget...I generally just do what is cheapest for our family. For a cough syrup I love to use Wild Cherry Bark and Elderberry...if I have it I will throw in some dried peppermint just for kicks. If you purchase a pound of each, it will be enough for at least 3 batches (I've only ever needed one batch for winter.)
I take half a cup of Wild Cherry Bark and half a cup of Elderberries and put them in the bottom of a quart jar. 
I then add half a cup of boiling water and let that mixture "steep."

I then pour Vegetable Glycerin directly over the herb mixture until I get to the top of the jar....screw on a lid...and done. It's best to store this in a cool dark location and give it a little shake every week. After about 3 months (just in time for Halloween germs!) I strain it...toss the bottle my syrup and I'm done. I have about a quart of cough syrup and it works FABULOUSLY. 

I made my jar a couple days ago....there she is...sittin' pretty, ready to do "her thing" in a few months. 
Feeling prepared and giving thanks,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three Glimpses...

Morning, Noon, and Night ... three glimpses of an ordinary day

Morning, forget the hour , my orchids saluting the sun from my new desktop (another day, another post...stay tuned)

Mid Afternoon - finding a rocket ship ready to launch, the pilot and copilot missing. It looks so proud doesn't it? 

Then, just before bed, the sun beginning to set and these two clowns catch their "second wind" ...or maybe their 15th wind of the day (who's counting?) and a game of soccer ensues in the backyard complete with jumping, finding their heads for no apparent reason except it seemed fun. 


Real Heartbreakers. 

This post was inspired by a new lovely blog I found ... Mothering With up if you want to play too. 

Tuesday Learning...And a Bird

My goal for homeschooling this year - simple yet a rather elusive concept for someone like me - TO BE ORGANIZED. Yes, I admit ... even though I love structure and scan pinterest for every type of organizational system known to man, whether it be where to keep your toilet paper or hanging your gift wrap from your closet ceiling...I pretty much stink at organizing kids laundry, cleaning schedules, homeschooling, and so on and so forth. Okay, I don't so much stink AT organizing, it's keeping it organized that I have issues with. You should see my dresser drawers ... if I was in a car wreck and my clothes were mangled and a friend needed to go to my house to get me some clean pajamas...
1. They wouldn't be able to find them
2. They would be shocked and dismayed
3. They would things that weren't clothes where my clothes should be

This is ACTUALLY a scenario I think about at least once a week - and yes, I refold, relocate, re envision my life as a clutter free soul ... and after a few days, chaos returns. 

But not this year. I am going to say for myself and for the record and for my children and for the blogging community - Alyssa will be organized this year. She will keep learning fresh and fun. She will be creative ... she will take long time outs when overwhelmed and she will eat chocolate ( not too much chocolate.) Yes, this I decree...I will be organized therefor making more SENSIBLE time for everyone...including myself. 

“An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.” 
― Scott BelskyMaking Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

So without further ado, our Tuesday home school :

This year I have put together a State Study for the kids. Trinity and Brady each got a three ring binder and we are doing a state study in alphabetical order, one state per week. Last week we learned about Alabama, today was Alaska. I do NOT have a curriculum for this ... just the handy dandy Internet, a printer, and some craft supplies. We read interesting facts about each state, I find free printables for the state bird, flower, fish...those kinds of things. Easy Peasy but generally takes about an hour to read, maybe watch the State Song on Youtube and then color all of the printables. 

So far, the kids have loved States Day. I figure this will be excellent for a "first time lesson plan mom" because it will take us exactly 50 weeks to finish (no school breaks around here yall guys.) There are tons of resources online ... we printed off one of our coloring pages here
Also, you can find my board on Pinterest for some of my home school activities.  

Totally off topic but HAS TO BE SAID...I got a bird!!! My very own little zebra finch. 

Kids : what are we going to name it?
Me : Do you mean what am I going to name it? 

His name is Sweetie and has the cutest little song you ever did hear, and the rosiest cheeks you ever did see. He's a darling little gray fluff ball of energy and I loves hims so muches and I can't talk to him without making the "baby voice." His name is Sweetie just so I can say it in a rather annoying high pitched voice and get a reaction from him. He is 15 dollars of pure entertainment and a friend while I cook ( I keep him in my kitchen under a window so he can get fresh air.) I love him. Everyone needs a bird.

Back to homeschooling...

 Tristan's "education" is rather simple ... I read to him, we play learning games, and he has a couple of workbooks so he can become comfortable tracing letters and numbers. 
I have really enjoyed the freedom of mixing and matching curriculum for certain subjects...keeps things spicy around here. 

What little boy wouldn't want to help Han Solo and Chewbacca find the path of 2's ? 

The kids also did their math workbook pages and Chapter books and we called it a day (I had a rather grumpy three year old underfoot at the time and had hit a wall. That's fine.) 

We made some pineapple mint  iced tea...

...then I labored over the mountain we call laundry...

...and rewarded my mothering self with this little piece of comfort food heaven. 

Feeling blessed, and I give thanks...

*~Alyssa Spring ~*

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Where Angels Live...

You know you live with angels when...

  ~ You find two little barefoot souls, cuddled up...crayons scattered, quietly being creative, enjoying each other's presence and "end of the day sunlight." 

~ You see their faces delight in simple things...bubbles, smores, climbing trees, finding the moon in the sky, birds eating their seed offerings...

~ when they love color, gravity, textures, sounds ... we don't know much about the angels but I'm pretty sure they delight in my babies do. 

You know you live with angels when they make funny faces, when they squirm and climb and jump and bounce. I'm pretty sure angels fly ... so do my littles, in spirit, in bravery, in good character. My babies can fly so very high. 

You know that your children are growing in character when your oldest son offers to make breakfast (and you know you are growing in good character when you let him, and don't mind one bit if it's a little bit crispy. )

You know your children are angels when you come home from grocery shopping and find them barefoot in the kitchen, every dish scrubbed, a little tongue sticking out of the corner of their mouth as they concentrate so hard on the task at hand...then your husband comes in and says "I didn't even ask her to help, I just found her this way." You know you are loved through their service, and you thank them and offer thanks to God for their sweet spirits. Angels do indeed live on Oakland Street, and today they were ever so busy in my ever so messy kitchen. 

You know you are loved when you find your portrait on the kitchen refrigerator and the artist made sure to clothe you in your favorite color. 

I love the moments in my life when I look around me, and gratitude for what I see is bursting through me at such a fast rate I could laugh, I could dance...and I do. I love the moments in my life when the day is cooling and the sun is sinking and my kids are playing in the backyard and they are content. I feel hope at these moments - because I know that regardless of what our life has brought us we are normal even though we aren't "typical." We are a family that is pursuing one another, we are a family that enjoys a good tamale dinner and a game of soccer and building fairy lands in Tristan's little dirt pile (did I tell you the birds come every evening and fluff their feathers in the dust of Koala's little trenches?) I have hope because I can feel love, I can feel it in my spirit. It's not always, it's not every moment of every single day...but when I do feel it I know I'm blessed...and when I don't feel it I'm learning that I am STILL blessed. 

The reason why I know that angels live here is because I have changed over these last "almost" nine years of parenting. Only something sent directly from God can bring such change to this world...such simple yet so very complicated good change. Only someone or "somebody's" sent from Heavenly Father could make me know such tremendous grace, such wonderful mercy...such beautiful creativity...such contentment in myself and in who I am...and then in excepting who my children are. Only The Ultimate Artist could achieve such beauty in a family so ordinarily human

I know angels live here...and I give thanks.