Sunday, January 24, 2016

Adventure to Union Station- Davinci

Another adventure took place this past weekend this time I planned a little better and did some pre trip planning like I used to do when the older 5 were little.

First it was picking a day that would work for all of us as I wanted to be sure that the older boys could go, and one were I could make sure the littlest had a good nights rest. Then I went to the website to explore the activity we were going to do, and then it was on to the library website. Where I requested a bunch of books and a video on the topic we were going to explore.

The topic for this trip was Leonardo da  Vinci, at Union Station - Davinci which is a hands on exploration of his ideas. The books that I found the most useful for the nine year old to prepare him were Monday with a Mad Genius and the companion book Leonardo Da Vinci - Research Guide . We also used Leonardo Da Vinci - The world's greatest Artists books, and the night before we went we watched Leonardo da Vinci - Animated Hero Classics.

Proof that more then one of the kids went most of the pictures are of Aidan                                                                       mostly because he was with me.

There are plenty of books out there also for older children and adults, and a selection of videos on Amazon Prime, and Netflix. We really didn't do any of these for the older kids since they already had a knowledge about da Vinci and the Renaissance.

The morning of I made sure to feed them all a large breakfast and even packed a snack for the car to offer them just before we went in. Then it was on to the adventure. In order to save some money we also purchased a membership to Union Station which made the tickets to the exhibit less expensive. I know buying a membership to get pay less for special tickets why, it does make sense for us and I'll write about that later.


                                                    A self playing marching band drum

The kids were not sure what to think when we first got there, the older ones were reading all the information on the walls and the youngest was starting to look upset, took a minute to figure out he thought that this was all there was, no this was only the area to line up in. Once we went in there was a short video that was interesting to watch and the youngest kept whispering over and over I knew that, he was starting to get excited. 

After the video we entered the exhibit, the first items were the no touch items and were great to look at, the youngest rushed forward and pointed out the wing hanging from the ceiling. He shouted " Mom it's just like the one in the book" We split up with the teens taking time to look at stuff they found interesting, the dad taking pictures of almost everything, and me and Aidan following his interests. There was plenty of things that were hands on, it was great to see someone build his ideas and get to play with them.
A tank idea

His workshop

    Lots of cranks, and levers, and gears

The best moment was when we entered the section on art and there was a full size reproduction of the Last Supper. Aidan was shocked, we had to explain it wasn't the real one that one is painted on a wall. He enjoyed looking at it up close and asked were was the door that was cut into it, as he remembered that from one of the books. Then he turned the corner and saw what he had been looking for the Mona Lisa, being a reproduction he got close to it and in awe said that someday he was going to see the real one.

The older kids were not done yet, so Aidan and I headed back in the exhibit to the room with blocks, a wind tunnel and instructions for building helicopters. This kept him busy until the older kids were done. 

We really enjoyed this outing, and I liked the fact that you could roam the exhibit as you liked and that there was a lot of hands on fun. Prepping Aidan with books and a video was the one thing that made this a great trip for him. We ended up the day checking out Science City more about that later and dinner at a restaurant that brings your food to you by train.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Our Adventure to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum

One of my goals this year was to explore our new area a bit more, plus with the husband being done with school for now we have more free time as a family. This month will be a busy one for outings as we try to fit in a few before the college boys head back to school.

Our first adventure was to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, I had gone there with the youngest earlier in the year on a school field trip and had enjoyed it and wanted to bring the rest of the family.

One very nice thing about this museum is it is free, there is a fee for parking but there is also plenty of street parking around if you don't mind a walk.

We played a game that I play with kids in museums especially art ones, we go into a gallery and I take a quick look at the pictures and then give them something to look for such as dogs, trees, and it gets them to spend the time looking at the picture and then I will ask what story is the picture telling. It was pretty cool that when we were looking at a piece of art from the middle ages, it was a alter piece , the youngest one was able to tell the story the piece was telling.

The kids really enjoyed being able to see many different types of art, we were a bit sad that the Japanese Art wing was closed until summer but it gives us a reason to go back. But a art museum is a great way to take a peek at different cultures and later talk about them.

 A little bit of better planning my part would have made the day even better, mostly having a snack in the car and feeding the bottomless pit aka the youngest one before going in would had made the day better. About an hour into the visit all he could think about was his stomach, and we heard a lot about how he was starving. But he made it though another 45 mins and a quick trip outside to the sculpture park.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Celebrating the semester

While we don't believe in paying for good grades, we do believe in celebrating all that hard work. As one of the children once said if we paid them for grades we would be broke, my answer was more you should work hard in school because that is your job right now and the work you do now makes for better opportunities  later. They still think it would be a great idea to be paid since they had heard that there were kids out there, who did receive money for grades.

In the past we usually would go to Pizza Hut as a family and enjoy a meal and each other at the completion of a marking period and at the end of the year we would do something bigger like a trip to Chuck E Cheese. That was a very big deal with having a large family and a budget ,meals out didn't happen often. Life is a bit different now that we have only have four kids at home and  two of them still at home are really away at college most of the year.

So we saved our celebration for the end of the first semester, but most of our children have out grown Chuck E Cheese. So it was time to find something new, and it was a trip to Dave and Busters, we started the fun by playing 20 questions in the car, they knew that we were going on a adventure but where was unknown. So after singing the required song by Little Einsteins they started asking questions no one guessed where we were going so it was a nice surprise when we arrived. The youngest one I don't really think understood what fun he was going to have until after he had eaten and dad handed over the card to go play games, the look on his face. 

Our Adventure Song

Found out that Aidan is very good at skee ball, and Nolan is still very good at video games which really was not really a surprise but he was the only one who at the end of our time still had a ton of credits on his card. Speaking of cards those things are the greatest, no juggling tokens or tickets from games needed those cards years ago. 

Was this a pricey outing yes it was, but it was nice to connect with each other, the food was pretty good, and they all had fun. The youngest is a little more motivated to study his times tables as he really would like to go back again at the end of the school year. We did order from the Eat and Play Combo which cost us 24.99 a person and each person was given a 20 dollar play card. So 4.99 for the meal and 20 dollars to play games. Next time we will go on a Wednesday night since games are all 1/2 price so they will get more time to play. 

Looking forward to another great semester from the kids.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

It's Not your Mom's Pressure Cooker

Most years for Christmas I get a new kitchen toy something to make my life easier. In the past it's been things like a new crock pot, a big roaster, an immersion blender, and last year I got a new  Kitchen Aid mixer. This year it was a electric pressure cooker, I am having so much fun with it learning how to use it and once again enjoying being in my kitchen, Sometimes I think my husband gets me new kitchen toys in order to re spark my interest in cooking. 

So far I have made red beans and rice w/ sausage using dried beans, a beef stew/soup, plain rice , chicken soup, and a ton of turkey broth. 

I have had in the past a stove top pressure cooker just like my mom and grandma used to , that saved many a dinner but it met a untimely death by falling to the floor one to many times with the kids doing the the dishes. I loved it but it did have it limitations, mainly that I had to stand there and watch it closely and in a house full of kids standing at the stove at dinner prep time, also known as the crazy hour that isn't a easy thing to do. It's the time of day when kids are hungry, homework needs to be done and more often then not someone needs to be picked up or dropped off. Plus I was always a little worried I would blow up the kitchen.

With my electric pressure cooker all this is solved for example the other day we had company over and I really hadn't thought out lunch out ahead of time. So while eating breakfast I thought of soup, an easy meal to feed a lot of people and I have the ingredients needed on hand, and it was a chilly day. But my chicken thighs were in the freezer, we were getting ready to take the kids on a walk to channel some of their energy, and lunch was going to need to be ready when we got back. So I set up the 6 year old and 9 year old that were on hand with a cutting board and knifes and set them to work cutting up celery, the 3 year old was given the job of washing carrots, and I chopped up an onion. All of this was placed in the pressure cooker along with 8 very frozen chicken thighs some seasoning, water and the lid was placed on top. The pressure cooker was set to the right setting and off we went for our walk, when we got back the soup was done. I boiled up some noodles on the stove, I could have added dry noddles to the soup to cook for a few minutes but we needed to use gluten free ones and regular so on the stove was easier. I pulled out the chicken and de boned it adding the chicken back into the soup, adjust seasoning and lunch was served. No need for me to watch it cook, to even be in the house, and my lack of pre planning was not an issue.

I have also enjoyed the timer on mine, one day I wanted to meet my husband at the gym when he got out of work so we could encourage each other to get some exercise but that was during the dinner prep crazy hour. So earlier in the day I tossed frozen beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, beef broth, and seasoning into the pressure cooker and set the delay for 2 hours and when we walked into the house 3 hours later dinner was done. Yes I could have used my crock pot but once again that issue with pre planning once I was so good at it, but now not so much, the meal would have needed to be in the crock pot first thing in the morning not at 2 in the afternoon with dinner planned for 5.

There are many models of electric pressure cookers out there that all do different things, making it a multi use item. The one I have I would consider a entry model, it will do a lot but not as much as say a One Pot Pressure cooker will do. It may replace my rice cooker and I think will serve the need of a second slow cooker time will tell.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

12 personal goals for this year

After much thought I have come up with 12 goals for myself this year some are household, some are personal, and others enriching.

1 Organize and De- Clutter every room in the house- We have been here in the new home for 6 months, and unpacked for about 3. I have a good feel for what is not working and what we need to make what is important to us fit. Part one of this is looking at different rooms and making a list of things needed. Such as baskets, shelves, storage, some of the things from the old home just don't
 work or fit her in the new one, We have done some things like building shelves in the garage.This house seems to have been designed around a tall person and I am rather short.

2. Start a Garden- this new home has a great yard but no garden yet and this year I would like to get one or two raised beds built and ready for spring. Not as large as the 9 we had at the old house but enough for this one.

3. Stay on Food Budget- the last six months have not been good on the budget, but having talked with my husband we are going to do some adjusting such has removing all non food items from my food budget and making a new line for them. We will see how this goes and may have to increase the food budget due to living in a new area. I have found these things to be the main issues 1- Food stores are  closer to us then they used to be, 2. I had my shopping down to an art in our old area I knew when things went on sale, were to get the best price on stuff and so on. I am still learning that here but working on it by building a price book.

4. Limit Take out- Pizza Delivery - We moved from an area where it was 20 min to the nearest place with take out, and pizza delivery what was that. To an area where you can get pizza delivered to the door ( should have seen the kids faces the first time the door bell rang and there was pizza on the other side)  and just about every type of take out is with in 5 min. We went a bit overboard in the last six months.

5. Limit Food Waste- this has become a bit of an issue since when the boys are at college I Am feeding only 4 people with normal appetites, but when they are home on breaks I am feeding 6 two who are teen boys and this is after having spent 9 years feeding 9 plus people at a meal. Food waste has been an issue since the move and I need to move the issue to the front of my mental list of things to think about.

6. Exercise 4x a week- I have gotten a bit fluffy and have started making changes and exercise 5x a week is what the personal trainer recommend, I am making my goal 4x to start and will see where it goes,

7. Walk / Run a 5K- This is a longer term goal there is one on our area in October that I would like to do.

8. Hike this summer- We have a three week adventure planned for this summer back to our old stomping grounds and one of the weeks we are camping. I want to be able to hike with my kids, and enjoy it.

9. Take the kids on adventure each month, we have moved to an area where there is a lot to do that is free and low cost and we just need to get out and do some it. I am a bit of a homebody so this will take effort on my part but I just need to get out there and do it.

10. Get back to sewing- Number one is getting a new machine the old one didn't make the move and then number two using it.

11. Make Soap- I have always wanted to learn how so this year I will

12. Do 3 minutes of stairs with out dying- This is the one exercise I feel real challenging and I know that if I can meet this goal, goal number 8 will be easier.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's a Marathon not a race- 10th grade

10 th grade another year closer to graduation, and making sure our kids can live on their own. This years big discussions are about future plans, because for a lot of schools at the end of this year you will be making choices for the rest of high school.

And while I truly believe that they need to be responsible for their own school work and the consequences, life planning I am still very involved in. Because I am lucky if at this stage of the game they think about planning the term paper due in a week, thinking 5 years down the line not happening at least with my group.

They will be deciding on technical  training programs, which three of my children have done, or college in high school which one of mine has done, some schools it will be AP classes and other options. The summer in-between 10th and 11th is a good time to explore some interests, that might mean camps, volunteer work, family trips or projects. Some things that we have done is have a son interested in building, spend the summer helping a friend do a project on our house, sent one child to a summer camp about math and science. Another went to a military summer encampment, and one went on an overseas trip. You can even do things local, for example if you have a child interest in teaching, have them volunteer at camp, VBS. If hospital work is something that catches their eye have them volunteer at a hospital, or even visiting elderly family members or working as a Junior Member of a Fire Department.

Most of all keep talking and listening to them, at this stage you may have some conflicts, which I have found true with my daughters, and my husband our sons. Right now I have one that I have to keep reminding her how to speak to me, while my husband has no problem at all with her. I just take a big breath and remember her older sister going through the same thing and in the only 3 short years which seemed real long at the time she turned into a very nice young women who I enjoy spending time with. As someone said once you just have to love them until you like them.

Work on life skills too, have them sit along side you while you pay the bills, take them grocery shopping with you, talk about budgets. Teach them to clean, do laundry, meal plan and prepare a meal. I can say that my one son made some money when he went to college as there were kids in the laundry room staring at the machines with no idea on how to do laundry, and he offered to teach them for a dollar. I usually stop doing their laundry in 9th grade, it's up to them to do their laundry, also depending on the child they also start cooking a meal a week around the end of 10th grade. I have a great pasta maker, another who makes pizza every Friday Night, and one who is a little flighty in the kitchen but can cook with someone to toss advice to him. Some of these things we learned after the first child, that poor first kid.

Next up 11th grade, time sure does fly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Things They Don't tell you when you bring them home

Since I have been looking back at pictures some things the kids have taught me over the years have come to mind.

1. Never wash a kid covered in flour, because flour + water in hair equals Paper Mache , and a Paper Mache kid is not normally something you want.

2. If the kid or kids get really quiet, usually when you are in the bathroom, find them quick because something's in life are guarantees.One is that your children will always need you when you are in the bathroom. They could be playing nicely together or by themselves but as soon as you go to the bathroom the world is ending and they " NEED" you. So if for any reason they actually let you go alone, or maybe even get a shower, guarantee number two is happening they are into something or thinking of getting into something.

3. Know the way to the ER, drive it a few times, because when you really need to get there you will not be thinking about how to get there. You will be yelling at the kids in the back to keep pressure on it, or hold it still.

4. Nose and Ears for some reason kids love to stick things that do not belong in them into them. The nose is easier, the best way to get something out is to place your mouth over theirs and press your finger against the side of the nose that doesn't have a pea, bead, vitamin, pillow stuffing in it, and blow. It should come flying out.  Ears that one is usually a trip to the doctor, and since they never tell you that they put something in there, you usually find out about it at the doctor's anyway. When you take them in for a check up and the doctor insists that your child has lost one of the tubes in his ear, and you have to insist that your child has never had tubes, and he shows you and you have to tell the doctor that looks like a perler bead.

5. It is OK to ban things from your home, your children will still grow up to be decent human beings with out perler bead crafts ( see number 4 ) , glitter, Brat dolls, gum ( for a period of time ), trampolines and anything else that you really just don't want to deal with.

6. In the summer keep a pair of shoes, clean shirt for each kid and diaper wipes in the van, because that trip to the ER is almost always going to happen just before dinner when they are the dirtiest and have no shoes on. And it's handy to have when you have a child that for some reason had two shoes when they left the house but only one when you get to the store.

7. Make rules that make sense to your home, like here we never throw or kick to third base ( see number 8 about windows), we only throw nerf balls in the upstairs hallway ( sometimes it's easier to give in a bit then to always say no)

8. Don't sweat the small stuff, correct them , teach them, ground them. But in the end paint will cover the names written on the walls, the pictures drawn, and even the red painted handprints (Blue's Clues anyone). Drywall can be patched, and windows replaced, and hair grows back.

9. Listen to them, there will be days they will have nothing to say and others when all they want to do is talk. Listen to them when they are young and they will still want to talk to you when they are teens. Mind you that there are days during the why stage when you might wish to leave it all and be a hermit, and times when they are teens that you wonder if you really needed to know that.

10. Give them hugs, when they are sweet little guys, when they are smelly teens, and if they don't come and hug you once a day go looking for them and give them a hug. I find it great that when I am in the high school and pass one of my teens in the hallway they will break away from their friends and give me a hug right there. Some kids may not like hugs, so even just sitting close is a good thing.

11. When you look out the door and count the number of teens that it looks like you will be feeding dinner to don't panic make more rice, potatoes or even an extra veggie or two. Just cut the meat pieces a little smaller.

12. Teach them to read, have them see you spend time reading, have books handy, read out loud to them, go to the library, read the same books your teens do so that you can discuss them. Find a " family" book, one that you read to all of them at that stage of life. For us that has been Dr.Suess for the non readers, Owl at Home and Father Bear for the early readers, and a favorite read aloud book has been Mother West Wind.

13. Lice happens to us all and the more children you have, and the more sports they play the higher the chance that some day you will get that call from the nurse. That makes your head itch, gives you an instant headache, and increases your house work. Grab some chocolate, a diet coke, the meds from the store and a movie that the kid likes. It's going to be a long night but your not alone.

Just a few if the things I don't want to forget, I am sure I will have more to add.