Time Outside

It is so important to get outside everyday especially for kids.  It can be tempting to keep on going with the projects, games, work and reading inside, but if it is nice out, send those kids out!!  I try to let my kids run around and stretch after sitting for an hour or so– after lectures or videos and after finishing a reading or work session.  It’s especially nice to tell them to go outside.  We are all happier and more ready to learn after.  We just finished a Great Courses lecture series on the Memory– turns out that the best thing you can do for your memory is exercise– not doing mental puzzles, surprisingly.  I am finding that my teens especially are much better when they exercise (jog outside), much happier and pleasant to be around.  And moms, you need to go outside too!!  It feels nice to slow down for a moment and take in all that fresh air and beauty.  Leave those never ending dishes in the sink if you have to get outside before it gets dark!! I think I like fall, a lot!!  Here are some fun pictures from the past couple days:

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The Pumpkin Patch

October just isn’t complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch.  This one was not as exciting as the ones we became accustomed to in Utah, but it was a lot less crowded!!  They have them all over around here, I just picked this one cause it was the closest and easiest to get to.  As you can see it was a gorgeous day and a very picturesque outing.  First we rode around the farm on a trailer hooked up to a tractor.

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Then we took a bunch of pictures in these things:

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Then we walked on over to the field that looked like they just scattered pumpkins around, but there were dead plants, so I don’t know?

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Then we hauled our pumpkins over to the checkout to be weighed and to pay.

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$56 was our total– $0.49 /lb. — ouch.  The rule was that you had to be able to carry it in order to get it, guess they’re getting stronger.  And how do you tell your kids that we’re going to leave their well chosen pumpkins for replacements from the grocery store?  Plus it’s the experience– right?!!  Fun day anyway, we’re ahead of the curve– last year we played at CornBelly’s for a field trip, but didn’t buy pumpkins there, and we were driving all over town looking for pumpkins on the day before Halloween, most everybody was sold out.  This year, we actually did it the weekend before Halloween and we’ll carve them sometime this week.  Awesome!!

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Field Trip– Lowell Massachusetts

We have been studying US history this year, and have reached the time of the Industrial Revolution and we learned about the factories and interchangeable parts and such.  So I thought it would be fitting to take a field trip to see the old textile mills and museum at Lowell National Park in Mass.  We got out rather late as usual and some kids weren’t too happy about the prospect, but it ended up being a very nice field trip, although it was  a little sobering as many of the displays focused on the workers and I pointed out to the kids that while they are no longer in use in Lowell, these types of factories still exist and it is a way of life for many mainly overseas nowadays.  Also, it was overcast, and we felt safe, but Lowell felt a little rundown.  We had a good time!!

We parked at the visitor center.  They had a nice area for the kids to play– the from of a trolley and a little learning corner.  There were looms, so they could see how they work.kiddiecornertrolley

Then we left and walked through the historic district on over to the museums. Many of the buildings were at one time factories, the canals run all through the city.

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Here we made it to the main museum!

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The have almost a full floor of machines running, they supplied us with ear protection, which of course the 2 yr. old refused, so I carried him through there quickly. It was rather noisy, but very cool and we could see some of the machines actually making cloth!

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The displays were nice and they had a lot of hands on activities for the kids. They got to card cotton and see the machine that was invented to do that for them. Everything was done in this factory– from carding cotton to spinning thread to weaving the thread to cloth.

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This is the stairway many workers used to find their place in the factory each day. It went up pretty high. Today, many of these buildings have been converted into apartment complexes.

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This cool building was the boarding house for some of the immigrant female factory workers. We went and saw the displays there next– it was free.

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Then we headed back to the car, we were about the only ones there, so we had lots of our questions answered, and we made it through about 30 min. of a movie. All in all we were there about 2 1/2 hrs and that was plenty of time. The kids in the next photo all liked it, but the oldest was feeling a little under the weather, otherwise I think we may have spent a little more time, but not much. It was plenty.

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Autumn/ Fall in New Hampshire

I have been loving the fall here.  It is the most amazing thing, I just keep snapping photos and I wish I had more!!  The weather has been perfect and the trees are just absolutely amazing!!  Here are the kids playing in the hammock I got in Mexico– it had some rather large holes that kids would fall through, so they brought out a blanket to cover the holes.  A lot of fun, and not too much fighting!

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One thing we have started doing is going for walks or being sure to spend time outdoors and exercise.  It can be forgotten when there is so much work to be done inside.  But I have been jogging (slowly) pretty regularly. I jog about 2 miles, this cute Congregational church is about 1 mile from my house, I jog around the village green right past the little schoolhouse below (which is still in use for Kindergarten and 1st grade), and then around the town hall and past the cutest little village New England houses, I love it so much.  Anyway,  my older boys often come with me on their bikes.  Also, my oldest son has slowly been getting a little chunky and since both my husband and I tend to lean towards chunkiness we decided he probably needs more exercise especially since he isn’t involved in any organized sports at the moment.  So my husband has started running with the boys, this also makes the little boys want to go too, so I take them on a walk when I get back from my jog since I usually go in the afternoon.  My older daughter has been running on her own ( as a requirement from me).  Today we went in the mist, it has turned cold since these photos were taken.  But it does a body so much good to be outside, especially here where the air is clear and now in the fall when the beauty around us is just breathtaking and amazing.

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The kids put together a couple bookshelves for me, we sure do have a lot of books!!

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House Cleaning and Organization

A clean and organized house makes for a much better homeschool.  For me, this has been the hardest part of homeschooling, but I think it has been especially hard for me because of the twins and all the moving and commuting we have done the past 5 yrs.  So my youngest is now 2 and I have older kids who are actually helpful.  It has made a huge difference for me to not be interrupted as much.  Cleaning is not in my nature and it takes a lot for me to get started, and every time I would get interrupted to change a diaper, nurse a baby or stop a fight, I would lose my momentum and then try to get motivated again with a bunch of other things calling out for my attention.

We have a decent system going on now, each of the 4 older kids have an area of the house they are responsible for keeping clean, the 5th child helps me in the kitchen and the twins unload the dishwasher everyday.  The older kids rinse their dishes, but I do the kitchen– we have a septic tank with no garbage disposal (the only downside so far to living here), and so the sink just gets clogged too often when the kids do it.  So I do it.  I used to not know where to start in the kitchen, I would gather all the dirty dishes over to the sink, scrape them and then start washing them.  But I finally tried fly lady’s method of cleaning out the sink first.  This has made such a difference for me– with a clean sink, there is room for more dirty stuff– so I clean the dishes sitting in the sink first and then I just keep on going, there is always room in the sink for more and it seems to go much more smoothly, even though my sink is not always cleared and clean, this has made a huge difference in the kitchen.  We are keeping on top of the mess way better than we have the past 5 yrs and it doesn’t seem like such a chore anymore.  I even like it, I have been trying to practice more awareness and being in the moment– and this is nice to do while cleaning– feeling the water over my hands as I rinse, fell the scrubbing of the sponge as I scrub.  It’s even therapeutic.

We also had company coming this week to stay so we had to get the kids’ room under control and the laundry.  We got a ton done and were still able to do most of our regular schoolwork, not as much as usual– we missed a few lectures this week, but all the important math and Greek and reading and writing stuff.  So what I found in doing that is to get some laundry started and then fold and put away the clean clothes in the morning before we go downstairs.  Also, get all the bedrooms cleaned up and everything up off the floor and get the bathrooms wiped down.  It took some effort to get the kids’ rooms cleaned up, we took out quite a few trash bags of trash and old clothes, but now the kids should be able to keep them up easily.  I also paid my 11 yr. old $3 an hour to steam vac clean the carpets especially the big stains.  And I paid the other kids for jobs they could do that are extra like washing walls, and vacuuming the edges and doing other kids’ jobs that they weren’t doing well.  That was a win/ win, until my 10 yr. old told me that he already had enough money to buy the legos he wanted and didn’t need to work anymore.

So we have had a nice time with family, we even washed all the bedding and decluttered and got all the game pieces put in with their proper games.  I love a clean house.  It doesn’t last long especially when everybody is home all day, but I think we have a good system going on and a good start to keep it more orderly than we have in the past, and thus the ability to do some more learning.  I am looking forward to this week!!

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Mexico City

I still have to finish my post on Canada, it’s much more time consuming when adding pictures, but definitely worth it!!  In the meantime, I took my girls to Mexico City visit my brother, my mom went also.  It was really really awesome!!  We went to church in both English and Spanish on Sunday, English, cause my brother goes to the English speaking ward and Spanish, cause I wanted the girls to experience a tiny bit of what life was like for me as a kid ( I grew up in Guadalajara).

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Monday we went to the pyramids of Tenochtitlan.  It was awesome– huge ancient city, with more and more ruins being uncovered, there were archeologists working that day, so interesting, so many unanswered questions.

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There were a lot of vendors at the pyramids, they pretty much make everything themselves by hand.  The obsidian and the silver is beautiful.  We got some cool things, and the vendors were so grateful and so incredibly nice, I wish I had more money spend!!  Then we ate at an authentic restaurant, it was so good– I like cactus and we got serenaded by a guitarist.

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This is where we were waiting one evening, I just like how my photos came out!!

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We happened to be there over Independence Day so we got to watch the military parade on Tuesday.  The parade route shifted a few times, and it ended up being long, but it was worth it for the horses at the end.  Also, the soldiers would touch the hands of the kids as they passed by and they would periodically stop the trailers so the kids could get pics with them.  So cool.  My favorite was the fresh sliced mangoes with limon y sal (lime and salt).

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Wednesday we went to Chapultepec Park and castle. The castle was the dream castle of an Austrian prince and was amazing.  It later served as an observatory and a presidential palace and is today a museum.

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We also rented a row boat, and had a hard time of it, but lots of fun. We also went to the zoo.  We saw lots of animals, this baby monkey was especially cute!!chapultepec19zoo1

We returned in the evening to watch the Ballet Folklorico which was also at Chapultepec castle.  It was so Mexican and so cool!!

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Thursday we went to the Ciudadela to buy trinkets.  They had so much cool stuff and the people were all so incredibly nice, I wish I could have bought more, but I am pleased with my purchases!!  They had hammocks, purses, shoes, toys, clothes, amazing art of al kinds, mostly hand made– truly truly amazing, I was so busy looking at things, I never took a photo!!  Afterward we got some bread at a panaderia and waited for a taxi.  I took some photos of the area there, it looks like I remember Mexico looking like– the rest of the time while at my brother’s place, it felt very modern and upscale– he lives in a super nice area.  Costco is nearby, Office Depot, Chilis, California Pizza Kitchen, an amazing grocery store, so different than it was when I grew up there– there was no way to buy anything American.  So these pictures show the area I related to:

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Friday, the girls and I went by ourselves to the Centro where the National Cathedral is.  It was hot and the air was pretty bad, it was not nearly as nice as it had been the other days of the week– rainy season had just ended and now there will no storms to clear out the pollution.  There were lots of true worshippers at the cathedral, and we walked passed the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and onto the Ciudadela again.  We got the rest of our souvenirs, and enjoyed our last day there.

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It was so fun to spend time with my brother and his family and with my mom too.  I am so glad I got to go and take my girls with me.  We all learned so much.  Now that I have been, I would do it again, but I would not have attempted the trip without my brother being there to visit and inform of us of what to do.  Advice to those wanting to visit Mexico– contact the Embassy for updates on where and when and how you can travel safely.  We stayed in the safe areas and we only used Sitio taxis which keep a record of all their clients.  My brother told us the regular taxis are the ones that Americans get kidnapped in periodically,  we also stayed on the toll roads and traveled during the daytime.

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Home at last, I really missed my boys, here are some of them with their Mexican luchadores masks!!

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First Week of School — Done!!

We survived our first week of school, yay!!  It went fairly well, we painted t-shirts, we read some books, we had little kids story time and singing time,  we kept the house pretty clean, we went to our new co-op. The only wrench was the dentist — booo!  But it had to be done. It took up a lot more time than I had hoped and my little 4 yr old unfortunately has a lot of work that needs to be done (which I knew and have been putting off, because I felt he was too little to go through that- in hindsight it was probably a mistake) and the dentist seems a bit expensive especially for baby teeth, so I will probably have to take more time out for the dentist this week.  I’m going to call around and see what prices are, I’m also going to see if I can find one that has a TV in the ceiling for the kids to watch while the dentist does his work.  My poor little guy’s teeth are in such bad shape, that he may need to go under general anesthesia to get it all done, I’m debating.  It will take some time to figure out, also it is fortunate that 2 of my brothers are dentists, so I’ll be talking to them about it too.  Fortunately my friend introduced me to an awesome book that has given me some great tools to clear my mind and make good choices with a clear head, which I very much needed in dealing with the dentist.

Anyway, back to the topic, I love spending time with my kids learning things.  The older boys had cub scout day camp and an overnight camp over the weekend.  My oldest had her first real volleyball game on Friday.  She had a good time, and got to go to a party on Sat.  The 3 little guys have had a cold.  The 2 yr. old wiped the snot from his nose into his eyes so we have bee fighting goopey eyes, fortunately, I learned the remedy for that years ago– it’s colloidal silver and he is recovering nicely.

This coming week will be busy as will the rest of my life it seems, but it’s good, and I am handling it well.  I will be taking my 2 older to visit my brother in Mexico City the following week, so we will try to get everything under control this week and lots of easy to prepare foods for the boys while we’re gone.  I am really looking forward to spending some time with my girls, and in the country where I grew up– so excited!!!

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Here’s the 2 yr. old, he painted himself 3 times, I only thought it was funny the first time, should have taken pics every time.  He keeps us very busy!!

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