Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All Around the World

The New Year is always a good time to evaluate what you do, how you do it and how you can do it better. This year we decided to change things up a bit for our homeschooling. Teaching all the kids at the same time wasn't working. They all needed help with different assignments and yelling out "Mama" was becoming too common a habit. So Peter and I came up with a new plan. Eben and Kivi do their jobs all the way until lunch time. If they finish their jobs, they can do their typing lessons and then play on their new laptop at 15 minute intervals switching off with each other. While they are busy cleaning, Mama works with Jasper and Opal on their letter writing, reading and counting and we have story time which the older kids are allowed to join. The kids also must come to the Mama now, put their hand on my knee and wait for me to ask what they need. That in itself has helped a ton!

To make our learning more united and fun we decided to travel around the world! We even made our own passports and built a plane out of pillows and chairs. Our plan is to stay in that country or region until we've learned all we can about the culture, environment, animals, people, language and any other interesting things we can find.

To start our voyage I hid clues around the house that the kids had to find to guess where we were going.
Then they all had to look at each other's clues and figure out our destination.
On January 2nd we "flew" to the Arctic! We had so much fun and learned a ton. As soon as we arrived we got our passports stamped and then played in the snow. (The powder in the insides of diapers.)
We took pictures of things we saw (on the internet) and printed them up in a book. For our dinners we ate caribou (actually cow) steaks, caribou stew, fish, smoked oysters (which Berg loved!), and homemade clam chowder. Sadly we didn't get a chance to try any seal liver.
Eben, Kivi and Jasper made scrimshaw out of Ivory (soap, not real tusks).
Eben and Jasper made igloos and Kivi made a snow owl.
We built and licked an igloo, a gift from Buggy.
And we learned all about the Inuit people and built these cool things called Inuksuk which the Inuit used as landmarks.

We returned home on January 12th. We had so much fun in the North Pole. I'm sure we'll all have fond memories of our Arctic Tale. To remember some things we did, I finally finished our dining room/homeschool room wall. The frames had been hanging up for sometime, but they still had the art that came from Goodwill in them. Now it's complete and ready to be changed out for the next month and filled with things from our next trip. In the frames: Eben's batik art, Kivi's family portrait, E, K and J's snowflakes, Kivi's snowman painting, E, K and J's scrimshaw and Pella's footprints.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Game Week!

After Christmas we lived in our crazy messiness the whole week. We slowly found homes for our new stuff, ate our gingerbread Bethlehem and had our first ever Game Week.

Dada put the kid's new net and swing up in the boys' room.
We played a ton of games while learning how to be a good loser and congratulate the winner and how to win without boasting. We played all of these (some just Mama and Dada played) plus Hide and Seek, and a game my sister and I made up when we were little called Statue Maker. Statue Maker was all of their favorite.

They also made up some interesting games like the Stick Your Booty in a Tinker Toy Can and Drum On It In Your Underwear game.
Every morning we reviewed our new jobs schedule which we started before baby Pella came, but then slacked when she actually arrived.
Our new plan is that in the morning after devotions, breakfast, getting dressed and story time, the big kids (Eben and Kivi) have JOBS! We've done jobs before, but nothing like this. Peter and I realized they could handle a lot more responsibility around the house and come up with a rotating schedule. One of them does all the laundry and dishes for a week while the other one:
cleans the kitchen - Mon.
shakes out the rugs and cleans the bathroom sinks - Tues.
vacuums - Wed.
cleans the toilets and bathroom floors - Thurs.
washes the tables and mops under them - Fri.

Then the next week they switch. They have all the way till lunch to get it done and they've been wonderful!! Berg loves to go around and help with the laundry and putting away silverware.
It took some training, but they now know what is expected and how to do a good job without complaining. You can always hear Eben humming or singing a song while he works.

This week we also went to Ikea and bought a big boy mattress for Berg! Now he sleeps in the boy's room in his own bed. He does really well. We didn't know if he'd crawl out of bed or not, but we told him to stay in his bed - and he does!

For New Year's Eve we went to Chris and Tonya's new cool house and played games and ate amazing homemade pizzas. We all toasted the New Year with a peppermint candy because the Martinelli's was already gone.

New Year's Day the kids "surprised" us with this huge poster they had been working on the whole day before. It's Peter and I on our wedding day and says Happy New Year!
The amazing thing is that Kivi drew this little picture first, put a grid on it and then followed the grid to enlarge it onto the huge paper. They figured this out by watching Curious George, yay PBS! Right after this, the first activity of the New Year - go carting!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's Christmas, Ya!

Christmas 2011 was a fun, busy, lots of stuff happening all at the same time kind of birthday celebration for our Lord. As soon as Grandma and Grandpa came over, we connected online with Nonnie and Poppie. Dada's cinnamon rolls cooled off so we could stick the candles and the chocolate nativity on top we all headed upstair to sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

A departure from the traditional Dada reading Luke 2 was that the kids wanted to read this year. Which was actually good because Dada was sick, poor baby, and his throat hurt.

Our California family was able to look in on our chaos through the miracle of Skype. Mimi is meeting Pella.

After eating Dada's delicious, gooey cinnamon treats we all opened our stockings, which the kids know full well that Dada and Mama stuff with goodies. I accidentally filled them way before Christmas and the kids informed me that Dada usually waits until Christmas Eve night to fill them. Oops - rookie stocking stuffer mistake, it was my first year stuffing them. We've also told them flat out that Santa died (Well, I mean the real one, St. Nicholas), so they know we have to fill them. I figured who cares if it's filled on Christmas Eve or any other day, they aren't allowed to open them until Christmas either way, but I took them out and waited anyway.

Then we hung them back up, cause they are so cute, and it took me many years to find so many of the same knitted stocking. (I even have an extra, in case of a major stocking non-matching dilemma.) Then we opened our presents. That was the very chaotic part. I think next year we'll take turns and wait and watch what everyone is opening. It all went so fast, it was crazy. Opal is explaining the present she bought for Berg. It was an orange truck, which he loves. (Uck, every vehicle is an Uck.) He sleeps with it every night.

Eben and Kivi designed a complicated web of string for Dada to follow to his big present, a Kitchen Aid. He's been wanting one for a long time.

Uncle Chris and Uncle Tonya (as the kids call her now thanks to Jasper) and cousins came over and we got a shot of the big Johnson clan in front of the tree. We had Dada's cheese fondue, and Grandma brought meatballs, and lots of snacky foods for lunch. And we opened more presents.

Mi familia en las pijamas rojas y negras.
Have I ever mentioned that we have a Spanish lesson every Thursday?

Dada and his sweet Pella on her first Christmas.

The kids big gift this year which poor, sick Dada still did a scavenger hunt for, was a new LAPTOP!! They were so excited! All year long the kids would all talk about saving their money so they could buy a laptop and give it to Eben - the computer lover. They all like to try and play games or at least try to make the mouse go where they want it to go and we knew it would come in handy for homeschooling too. So Eben has to share, but I don't think he minds.

Mama and Dada resting on the Dada chair with Pella Pie. (Eben already figuring out the laptop in the dining room behind us.)

The kids got a rockin' 1970's doll house from the Uncles and cousins. Uncle Chris had just as much fun setting up the furniture as the girls did.

The traditional "Baby's First Christmas" picture in the huge stocking I sewed for Eben so long ago.

The 6 little johnsons in front of the tree. This picture actually took 4 different photo sessions. We had to keep waiting for Berg and Pella to be happy. We actually took these last 3 pics the next day, with all the presents piled under the tree like my mamacita used to do.

A close-up of Pella's pocket pajamas. I made her's out of the insides of pockets, and the part with the buttons down the front is made up of three different fronts of men's pants, you know, the part that opens in front of the crotch. They took me forever to make, like 4 hours, so I'm documenting them.

Merry Crazy Christmas! All birthdays are a wild, fun time over here. Christmas is the greatest birthday ever! Happy birthday, Jesus!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Eve 2011

After Leavenworth I finally got around to making all the kid's traditional matching Christmas jammies. This year I made 5 jammie pants out of 3 XL men's pants and crafted Pella an outift out of four of the pockets and flowers for headbands out of the scraps. Dada took all the kids, except Pella, to his cousin's house for a get together so I could get them done - in one day!
So we were ready for Christmas Eve - the last day of the multiple advents! The kids all take turns each day rotating between turning on the Christmas tree lights, opening a wrapped Christmas book, sticking a character on our cloth advent nativity and waiting. It was Jasper's day to put baby Jesus on the nativity. Notice the headband? Yep, that was a three day trend. The first day they all wore them, the boys wore blue, to let everyone know they were boys, and the girls wore pink. Jasper just kept it going.
We delivered our Lakewood friends our super mini honey gift in the bus.
While we stopped at Albertson's for Dada to pick up some food for us, I took their picture, and the girls looked so cute in their matchiness holding Pella, I had to get one of them too. Pella wore her "first Christmas" outfit from Grandma.
The great thing about the bus is that every kid can get out on their own without having to do and undo all those car seat buckles.
After our deliveries we went to Lake City's 4:00 Christmas Eve Candlelight service. It was so beautiful!
I cried. I love the symbol of Christ's love being shared through us as His light in this dark world, spreading that light to everyone around us.
When we got home - the revealing of the jammies! Of course I had to make Opal's with ruffles!
They put them on before we watched a Christmas movie and headed for bed.
Well, the kids did, Dada stayed up for me to make his most delicious cinnamon rolls for our birthday cake for Jesus and I kept him company. He's so cute to watch in his Christmas jammies. (Artwork in the background, by Kivi. She made about 11 pictures of the nativity [bottom, next to Dada's bottom] and put them all over the house. She also made pictures of our family to give as gifts to everyone.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Leavenworth 2011!

Peter's wonderful parents' somewhat new Christmas gift to us is "memories" - we love them. Our memory for the past couple years has been a family trip after Christmas. This year it was before Christmas, Dec. 18 (right after the kid's Christmas pageant) - 20. It was great fun, but my head was still a little occupied with all the Christmas "stuff" I still had to get done before the 25th. We went to Leavenworth and stayed at the same place we did the year before at the Apple Blossom Inn, Pear Haven and Farmhouse - three cute homes owned by the same people who run Smallwood's Harvest, a little general store a couple of minutes before you get to Leavenworth proper. We spent most of our time between dance competitions on the Wii and puzzles. Marlee worked everyone. The nieces had cheated and knowing we would get them Just Dance 3 rented it so they could all beat Peter! Ha!
We finished a puzzle a day and almost everyone contributed. They are really addictive. The first day Peter teased me about how I was spending so much time at the puzzle table (while he was trying to beat Marlee at Wii) and then the next night he stayed up until 3 in the a.m. to finish one. The only incident was Jasper's eye colliding with his bed. If we were good parents we probably would've gotten him stitched up, but we're just o.k. parents, so he'll have a lovely, manly scar.
Pella and Grandpa bonding time.
So much T.V.! I love every once in a while to go somewhere that has T.V. so that I can watch it and watch it and finally realize I've spent most of my time watching commercials or trying to find something good on and then be really thankful we don't have T.V. because really, I'm not missing much. Every morning the kids got to watch Curious George, and then Cat in the Hat, and then (yucky) Dinosaur Train. And then I don't even know what was after that because we sent them to the other room to watch the next kid show so we didn't have to any more.
Dada found a great little sled hill right outside our place, in the orchard. Mostly Kivi and Eben sledded but some of us tried it out a couple of times. Eben gave Dada a little ride, and Dada gave me a great face.

Eben and Kivi hauling their sleds back up the hill through the picturesque orchard.
Beautiful pears that were still hanging on. They had to have been frozen solid. We should've picked them to see if they were still edible.

My beautiful Sweet Pea in the snow right after sledding down the hill.