Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fair Week

Here we go!
The Sanders Family Fair Debut

Setting up pens in the pig building.

They are excited and nervous.
(I am stressed and exhausted.)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Kid's Club: Book and a Movie

As a summer project, we decided to have a book club for our middle girls.  We held a children's book club for four years when my older kids were younger, but after we moved (and didn't have room in our trailer for ourselves, much less guests), we never got it going again.  Since we were doing it in the summer, we decided to have regular book club, followed by the book's movie.  It took me so long to decide which books had good enough movie companions to satisfy my stuffy tastes.

Anne of Green Gables club meeting.  Enjoying a mid-movie scavenger hunt/leg stretch.

In the end, I decided on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Anne of Green Gables.  We invited children ages 8-12 because I've discovered over the years that younger kids have a hard time participating in the book discussion part of the event.  (Though, I do make case by case exceptions.)

Aslan craft.
 For the summer, we met from 11a-3p once a month.  The first thing we always do is the book discussion.  This is a vital part of the event.  It is important to me that the children learn to discuss books, think about ideas, and share insights.  It takes practice for some children while others need a bit of tempering because they are SO EXCITED about what they've just read.  With some books, it is like pulling teeth to come up with 20 minutes worth of discussion, other books (like Anne of Green Gables yesterday), we could have spent and hour and a half talking about just the one story!

A sampling of the treats at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory club meeting.
 After we talk about the book, the kids need food.  For the summer, since they were here for so long, I fixed them a full lunch.  During the school year, it is a much simpler snack.  The food is always related to the book, for instance we had cabbage soup like Charlie Bucket, bacon and scones like Bilbo Baggins, tea and toast like Mr. Tumnus and Lucy, and so forth.  Whenever possible, I read a quote from the book or remind the kids where that food is found in the story.

Engineering activity.

Once we've educated and fed the beasts, we play!  I always try to have lots of fun, moving activities.  I try to change it up so sometimes we do a craft, other times we do an experiment, we go outside and having a running or jumping game and otherwise keep it happy and loud.  What we avoid is crossword puzzles, spelling words, or other holding still activities.  Those certainly have a place, but not at book club.

Chocolate slime!

During the summer, we then get ourselves to the cool basement to watch a movie.  During the school year, we skip that step because we don't have the luxury of all day.

Our first book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which some would consider a "boy's book."  When it came time for our August pick, Anne of Green Gables, there was groaning from the boys.  I gave them a mighty lecture about not judging a book to be a "boy book" or a "girl book" without giving it a try.  One 10 year old boy took me up on my challenge and he gave Anne a chance.  His mom later reported that he loved the book and thought Anne and her antics were hilarious.  
YES!  Converting a generation one kid at a time.
This is one of my favorite aspects of a book club:  it invites us to try reading books we may have otherwise not chosen. Who knows but that book becomes a favorite.

My book clubs aren't Pinterest worthy, but the kids don't notice.  The best compliment came from one little girl whose mother made her come.  "I thought this was going to be boring, but this was like a birthday party!"  A birthday party that reinforces reading and the life-changing lessons offered in books.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Field Trip Summer: Crystal Gold Mine

This week we went to a gold mine that was abandoned in the early 1880's and not rediscovered until 1996.
The thing that I found particularly valuable was that because the mine was never used in modern times, we got a glimpse into the mining techniques and practices of nearly 150 years ago--a time before electricity (at least in the wild west), cars, large machinery, or power tools.

The mine was lit with modern light bulbs, yet we were still given flashlights to be able to see into the dark corners and better spy minerals in the ore.

At one point our guide turned off the lights. If any of you have been to a cave or mine similar to this, you know how absolutely dark it is underground.  He then lit a candle, a candle similar in size to one used by those original miners. It was not very bright!  It was interesting to learn the techniques those pioneers used to help them discover gold and find their way around in the pitch blackness.

Several of the mines in the area have been closed, mostly due to government regulation.  The couple who run this mine tour are native to the area and have worked the mines.  They are passionate about preserving the history of the area, which is part of why they do such a good job here.

Outside the mine there were several rail cars and carts, relics of those closed mines.

 They also had several troughs filled with sand carted down the mountain from local streams.  There were actually gold flecks in there!  Instead of other operations where you pan for fool's gold, these kids were actually panning for actual gold!

It was very cool to have the guy demonstrate how they would have done it (still do--lot's of hobby gold panners in our area) and then to let us have a go.  

Our state is known as the gem state and for good reason.  The kids also found lots of interesting agates, including my birthstone, the garnet, in the tubs.

The group rate made this field trip much more affordable, but it was still one of the more expensive trips of the summer.  However, by the time the kids got into the car, they each had small bags filled with these gems--easily worth the price of admission had we purchased the stones separately.  I do think the tour was worth the price, just because of the unique aspect of the tour and the experience of the guide.  Since he knew we were a school group, he gave us a few more bits and facts about the geology of the mine and of Silver Valley in general.  Overall, they did an excellent job of teaching us.

 Right after this picture was taken, our eight year old tripped, breaking her front tooth.  It was a sad end to the morning, but made worse because she felt jilted in her hunt for gold and gems.  After cleaning up her wounds and comforting her the best I was able, I went to call the children back to the car.  As I walked up to tell them we needed to go, they were compiling their stones and dividing them equally so that the hurt sister didn't have to go home empty handed.  That was sweet, but the best part was that it was initiated by the sister who fights most frequently with her.  That was the highlight of my day.

Off to the dentist!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Our First Broken Tooth

We do get regular injuries around here, but so far they have been treated by either home first aid or, at the most, stitches.  Last week, our eight year old was buckling her overalls while walking and she tripped on the asphalt.  Because her hands were occupied, she caught the entire fall with her nose, lips and, unfortunately, front tooth.

It was just as sad as this picture illustrates.  She was hurting terribly, but was also devastated by the broken tooth.  Of all of my children, she is the most careful about her teeth.  


I could hardly wait to get her tooth fixed because she wouldn't smile.  My happy, always smiling girl wouldn't smile and it broke my heart!  Luckily, the dentist was able to squeeze her in and she got it fixed.  What a blessing that it was fixable! In addition, it hadn't reached her nerve, barely, which saved her a lot of pain and us a lot of money.  Counting our blessings with this one.

We've had a rough summer for accidents. We for sure have reached our injury quota for the summer!
I may be becoming an advocate for screen time all day, every day.
No bike riding, swimming, hiking, playing, running, jumping or climbing.
Just sit on this fluffy couch and DON'T MOVE, at least until we can catch up on the medical and dental bills.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Baptism Day

My beautiful girl was recently baptized, following the example of Jesus Christ, to enter into the covenant to always remember Jesus Christ, take His name upon her and to keep the commandments.  She has been waiting all summer for this day and did a remarkable job of becoming spiritually prepared.

Everyone comes with their own gifts and this one definitely has faith.  She cares about doing what is right, strives to develop a relationship with Christ, and believes.  It has been rewarding to me to see her exploring that faith this summer in her quest to be prepared for baptism and confirmation.

Camilla took her for a quick photo shoot after she was in her white jumpsuit.

 Part of the reason she has been waiting all summer, is because she wanted her big brother to perform the ordinance for her.  He got home on Saturday, she was baptized Sunday.

Watching one worthy child baptize another worthy child was a singular event.  
Beyond words.
Really beautiful.

The whole family participated in the program in one way or another.
Our ten year old gave a talk about baptism, the twelve year old, Camilla, spoke about the Holy Ghost and accompanied the cousins who sang a special musical number, Eliza, fifteen, played the piano for the rest (prelude, two hymns, and postlude), Isaac, seventeen, baptized, Dad performed the confirmation, and I gave a prayer.

Our three year old participated in multiple ways.  He stood at the door and greeted the congregation, handing out programs and handshakes.

He also said hollered the best opening prayer ever.

Perhaps his best moment came when Lucy was teaching us about baptism.  She asked, rhetorically, what kinds of things we do to become unfit to be in the presence of God.  In other words, how do we sin (she was getting to the necessity of repentance and partaking of the sacrament).  Our three year old, for whom potty training is going poorly, to say the least, volunteered, loudly, "Because I pooped my pants!"
Oh, for crying out loud.

We grabbed the kids a few minutes before the program was to begin for a family picture.
My niece took a series of photos and I had released the children to go back to their stations
when my sister-in-law came into the hallway WITH OUR BABY and asked if we wanted her in our family pictures!  Serious Mother of the Year moment right there!

Calling the children back into position, we took pictures again--this time with ALL of our living offspring.

Besides a few hiccups, it was a beautiful day.  After she was baptized and I was helping her out of her wet clothes and back into dry ones, she was absolutely glowing.  She kept hugging me, and I her.  Finally, with her eyes bright, she looked at me and said, "Mom, did you feel like crying after you were baptized?  Because I just feel like crying!!"
What a special moment to teach my girl about how we sometimes manifest the feeling of the Holy Ghost.  It was a witness that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were pleased with her choice and were confirming to her heart that it was right.

After all was said and done, we came back to our house where Aunt Lindsey fried one billion scones for everyone, the girl's specific request for after her baptism.

Trying to get a normal smile out of her for one picture with her best-bud cousin.
No could do; she was giddy.
I went to bed exhausted, but thoroughly happy.
What a day.
How I love her.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Old Friends

Justin served a two year mission for our church to the Dominican Republic in the early 90's.  He regularly touches base with one of his companions and they get together periodically.  Last week, Tyler brought his family up to our neck of the woods.  They met up with us and we went with us on a hike then visited a historical site before coming to our place.  Justin has been working on perfecting his recipe for Dominican rice and beans and served us up an amazing dish for dinner.  After dinner, we had a fire in the back yard and stayed up altogether too late visiting.

The next day, we took them to one of our beautiful local lakes.

The water was a rich, almost emerald green, and the kids had a great time playing in the water.
I wish I had taken more photos!

Our sweet little one fell asleep, so I put her down in her beach bassinet (the lawn chair) and wrapped her in a beach baby blanket (a beach towel).  Turns out she wasn't picky and slept for a nice long time.

Twenty-four hours was not enough time for these old friends!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Field Trip Summer Bonus: Cataldo Mission

On a hilltop above the interstate, stands this beautiful old mission.  So old, in fact, it happens to be the oldest standing building in the state (1840's-1850's).

Since it was on our way home and we hadn't visited for a few years, we decided to throw in a bonus to our field trip and make a stop.
The girls were obviously thrilled!

It is a neat building, especially when you learn the history surrounding it.  I love the giant plank floors, straw and plaster walls, and purple paint made from crushed huckleberries.  You have to respect the dedication and courage of those early missionaries to the local natives.  Whether they always did right is another matter, but they were doing their utmost to live their religion and to teach it to others.

Next door to the mission is a much newer building (1880's) that housed the priests.
Having just learned all about the rough lives of the miners and loggers in the area (lots of brothels, gambling halls, and saloons), it was obvious that a little preachin' was needed in those parts!  I'm sure they kept busy.