Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writing Torah

Deut 17:18-20
18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

Any king ruling over God’s people was required to write out the Torah (the law) – to make a copy with his own hand.  They were to do this in addition to reading and obeying.

I recently decided to incorporate this into our daily school work. Right now, that includes me and our 3 youngest. We also do it when we have family devotions. And, I plan to have my high schooler do it daily when we “officially” start school.

It’s a very simple habit. We start our day with 10 minutes of Bible Writing. We use a composition notebook and write for 10 minutes. The next day, we each pick up where we left off. It’s not a race (until the 14 and 18 year olds do it). For me and my 12 year old son, it’s a chance to read really closely and we often pick up details we hadn’t noticed before.

My two youngest aren’t very good readers yet and would have a hard time copying straight out of a Bible. So, I print up one chapter at a time for them. As they write each word, they cross it off on their paper. It helps them remember where they are in the copying exercise.

The kids appreciate it more than I expected them to. I have actually found my 9 year old copying just because he wanted to.

It’s definitely a long term project. And, it’s a great use of our time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Huntington Central Park Adventure Playground

I’ve been trying to do at least one new and fun activity per week this summer. I took the kids to the Adventure Playground (AP) in Huntington Beach. I have heard there are only a small handful of adventure playgrounds in the United States, so, I figured we had to take the time to enjoy it while it was open this summer. I also wanted to check it out for friends with small children. The AP suggests a minimum age of 5, but it isn’t a rule, so be aware of your child’s abilities and interests and go from there.

They go over the rules when you arrive. Kids are required to have an adult in the park with them, but kids under 8 are required to have an adult with them in the building area.That’s the only area adult supervision is required. So, if you have tiny kids and bigger ones under 8, you’ll need to take the littles into the building area with you.

AP shares a parking lot with the Huntington Beach library. The signs are very good and the AP is easy to find when you get to the parking lot.

When you enter, you check in and pay for the kids - $3 each, not a bad deal. Cash only. They also have snacks for sale.

Everyone must be wearing sturdy, enclosed shoes. No water shoes, either. If you happen to forget your sneakers, they do have shoes there that you can use.

There is a shady area with picnic tables and a sand box and very small jungle gym area. Lots of moms hang out in this area with their little ones. The only difficulty there might be if you have a little one that would want to play in the water. The shady area is right next to the water, and kids are not allowed to play in it. It is only for rafting. So, be aware of that. 

There are port-a-potties. Eeeew! On other blogs, I saw that people use the bathrooms at the library before they go to the AP.

They have a couple of designated “changing rooms”.  There is also one shower in the picnic area. The day camp kids used the changing rooms. My kids chose to just sit on a towel for the ride home.

If I were to go again, I would choose to arrive at 1:00 or later. That is when the day camps were packing up and leaving. So, the activities cleared out after that. Although, the lines weren't unbearably long while they were there.

There are four main activities in the AP. Activity #1 is the mudslide. This is open intermittently throughout the day. Basically, it’s a trough with a plastic liner that they spray with a hose. The kids slide down and end in a mud pit. My kids were a little disappointed that the mud pit was not as muddy as they had hoped. It was more mud-colored water. But, that didn’t stop them from going down the slide several times. Totally doable for any little one that wants to do it. Be aware that the smaller the child, the deeper the water will be for them at the bottom of the slide.

Activity #2 is the rope bridge. You just walk across the bridge – bouncing is against the rules. My kids did it once when there were lots of kids on the bridge and after that, they made sure to go when it was empty – or at least almost empty.

Activity #3 is rafting. Great fun! The kids loved it and went on several times.

You wait in line and then when it’s your turn, you walk through the water to get to your raft.

The first time my littlest went on with her big sister. After that, she chose to go on by herself. They do allow an adult on with the littles, but it is difficult to balance with a big person and a little person. Just ask my daughters. J  Two littles on the raft was easier to balance.

I saw some very small children (age 3 or so) doing it on their own. 

Activity #4 is the building area. When you enter, you get a hammer (or saw) and 3 nails. You can use any of the wood in the piles and you can build something free-standing or attach it to the already existing forts.

You can earn more nails in two different ways - turning in pieces of trash or bent/rusty nails. You will want to do this, as 3 nails doesn’t build much. Or, in our case, 9 nails.  I couldn’t find any trash, but we found plenty of nails to turn in. As a matter of fact, we did so good earning more nails that we gave away a couple of handfuls to other kids when we left the area.

The kids built a chair and did a fine job of it. J

And, they dreamed of having a fort like these in our own yard.

Since we weren’t sure what to expect, we left everything in the car. You can bring food in with you. There are no lockers or cubbies, so, whatever you bring in, you just set to the side or carry around with you. I told the kids we could find a picnic table after we left, but they decided to just eat in the parking lot.

We definitely give the Adventure Playground thumbs up. Good entertainment and lots of fun for everyone.

Here is the official website:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Changing Seasons

I’m seeing the realities of a new season in life – new seasons, really, because seasons are constantly changing. But, the reality right now is, my baby is 6, and, my oldest just earned his Bachelor’s degree. One thing about having a big family is that my kids cover a large span on the developmental spectrum of early childhood to young adulthood. 
Some seasons seem longer than others. Sometimes we feel like certain seasons will never end.  I spent many years in the newborn and baby season. That season where just when you’re ready to walk out the door, the baby poops, where someone needs your help to get dressed, to find their shoes, to take a bath, to have a snack, to wipe their nose, to open a door, to buckle their car seat, to go potty, to get a drink of water, to wipe their little rear end.  You never get a good night’s sleep – for years on end. You are always being touched and climbed on. Your body isn’t your own. You barely find time to take a shower. You don’t get to go to the bathroom by yourself. Even now, I only sometimes get to go to the bathroom by myself and I rarely get to shower uninterrupted. But, it's all worth it.

My season of having a baby did come to an end, and I actually sold my stroller! I had a stroller for 22 years! I mean, not the same stroller, but a stroller. That was a little weird for me. It actually sat in the garage for quite some time before I sold it. I couldn't bring myself to do it. It came in handy on day trips to a zoo or amusement park. But, I found it very freeing the first time we went to an amusement park without a stroller. We put what we needed in a backpack and got around very easily.

Baby season is over in our house. Even toddler and preschooler season is over. I’m disappointed with that and OK with it, all at the same time. I now have 6 self-sufficient (to one degree or another) kids at home and one who has been on his own for several years.  I love seeing them grow up and become responsible adults. I love seeing their different personalities and strengths.

As the seasons change, some things are easier and some things are harder. It’s all just different. Before I know it, my kids will be married and out on their own. (And, I’ll have grandkids!  Woohoo!) It doesn't make me sad that they’ll be moving on. I look at my adult kids and feel like they've grown up into awesome adults – adults I’d like to hang out with, adults that will make society a better place. My goal is to work myself out of a job as my kids become adults and embark on their own life. I see my relationship with my two oldest daughters transitioning from mom to friend. I will always be their mom, but they’re adults, and I want to be their friend - when they live in my house and when they move out. Before I know it, they will all be adults ready to conquer the world.

I still have years of little ones, and not-so-little ones filling my house with laughter and fighting and silliness and joy and arguing and … you get the picture. I do my best to enjoy the good times. We never know how long we have with anyone in this world, so I strive to make the most of the relationships I have. That’s what’s important. Relationship. Relationship with our Father and our Savior. Relationship with our Family. Relationship with our Friends. That’s what makes life worth living.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Making Butter

Going through the Little House series, we read about Ma making butter. I realized it had been a while since we made butter, when none of the littles remembered doing it. So, we decided to make some ourselves. We don’t have a butter churn, so, we got some cream and a jar, and started shaking.

You can see that the kids are wearing the required homeschool uniform – PJs.

They took turns shaking. I helped a little. And, when they got that solid clump of butter floating in the buttermilk, just like the Little House description, they were really excited!

There it is. Beautiful homemade butter floating in buttermilk.

Next step was to strain off the buttermilk. We just poured it in a colander over a glass bowl. Look at those proud faces.

And, look at that lovely lump of butter.

They rinsed the butter until the water ran clear, just like Ma.

 Time to drink the buttermilk. They weren’t too impressed with that.

 Time to mix in the salt.

We packed the finished product in the butter bell. That’s as close as we get to butter molds.

What better way to enjoy freshly made butter, than on a piece of toast. Yum!

The only improvement on that would be to read Little House on the Prairie while eating toast with homemade butter.