Sunday, March 31, 2013

Passover - Cleaning out the Leaven

Part of preparation for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is clearing out your house of all yeast. It symbolizes the removal of sin from our hearts. We did the traditional game of hiding bits of bread around the house and letting the kids go find them all. Normally this would be done with a candle, but our kids with open flames? Not so much... Note to self: write down all the places you hid the bread so you can find them if the kids can't... I still can't be sure we aren't missing one piece.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Passover - The 10 Plagues

This year, for Passover, we decided to make the 10 Plagues of Egypt fun for the kids. (I know...plagues aren't supposed to be fun...) Rebecca read each plague to them while I set up an illustration of each one.

The First Plague: The Nile turned to blood.
"Phew! That water stinks!"
Plague 2: Frogs. They got to imagine what it would be like stepping all over frogs and dealing with them in our beds and kitchen. Olivia spent a couple of hours making origami frogs with no idea the reason behind it.
Plague 3: Gnats!
Plague 4: Flies

We talked about how 6 flies could make 6,000,000 in just a couple of days.
Plague 5: The Death of the Livestock. The animals lying down are the ones in Egypt that all died while the others and those in Goshen.
Plague 6: Boils! The actually did bother  a couple of the kids. The double-sided tape was itchy.

Plague 7: Hail! Foam practice golf balls worked as a great illustration.
Plague 8: Locusts! We didn't have enough grasshopper toys, so we spread cereal on the  floor so it would be crunchy, like a housefull of locusts.

Plague 9: Darkness!
Certainly one of the most entertaining plagues, at least for us watching the kids bump  into everything.
Plague 10: The Death of the First-born of Egypt. This is what Passover is really about. We talked about how God gave the Israelites protection from death by the shedding of lamb's blood and how Jesus was a Passover lamb for us, giving us protection from spiritual death by shedding His blood for us.

"The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." Exodus 12:13

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chickens: Growing Up and Getting Feisty!

They started by hopping up on the edges of their corral. And then sometimes hopping out.
Then we left the house for about a half a day and came home late one night to THIS... Looks like our chickens had a little hen fest while we were out. They are growing like teens and throwing parties while the parentals are out. :)
The are really funny creatures as they seemed to want the confinement of their corral back and tended to huddle together and look for it. At the same time they want their freedom, too. If you look close, these guys still have some down on their heads and it is on their bellies, too, so they need to stay in a while longer.
Here is the reinforced chicken coop that Jeremy built at almost midnight the night of their partying. It is taller and a bit sturdier so we hoped it would hold them (and their mess) a bit longer.
Here they are starting to roost on the edges of the corral. They started sleeping like this. The byproduct is that they pooped on the floor so we had to add plastic on the floor all around. They then didn't seem to need the heat lamp anymore so we started leaving it off. Turns out they had to adjust to the lack of light all night. Seemed like they were scared of the dark as they would screech/complain very loudly for a bit. But they adjusted after a few nights.

They seem to have all their feathers in now. And they started to hop on top of the kitchen bar/counter and look at us while we were doing kitchen chores. They also could hop/fly in and out of the corral easily. The funny thing is that most of them still cheep like young chickens but one of them squawks like a grown chicken already. We call her our "real chicken". So we decided it was time for them to head on outside. We put them out during the day for a few days and then finally put them out all night and they have been out there for a full 4 days now.
Here is is their home for now.  We will paint the coop when the weather warms up a little more.

 And we are working on building a chicken tractor that we can move them around the yard during the day. We are going to put them to work tilling up the garden.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Emma-14 months

Emma Lee is now 14 months old. Here are some adorable pictures of her! :) She smiles big and laughs hardy. She has big blue eyes and love to interact with us and especially her siblings. She has an interesting mix of Olivia/Gabe personality and Ezra's (shall I say) stronger personality. She also following in the footsteps of her siblings, especially Gabe, in that her large motor skills are a bit delayed but we are confident that they will catch up. She had primarily been pulling her self around on her belly with her forearms and pushing with her toes as her means of moving about. This has led to her have low tone in her legs/thighs. They remain chubby and infant like. She is just now started to work on normal hands and knees crawling, as you will see in a few of the pictures below. We have a friend that is a pediatric physical therapist and she gave us some tips to help her develop her muscles/strength in her legs. Emma would normally just cry and get really upset if you tired to get her to stand on her legs or left her to hold herself up on something. So we have been working on having her go from sitting to standing positions, like from a really low stool or our legs. That has helped, especially if we can find the right toy for motivation. She wants to put her legs out straight and lock her knees but we have been working on helping her plant her feet and really work to raise to a standing postion.
happy girl in the bathtub. she likes to play in the water. she chats up a storm with her toys and anyone that is in the room with her. she especially like to scoop and dump water.

Here she is working on her hands and knees crawl.

And here is she finally starting to pull up and stand on the edges of her crib. Yes, she just started doing this in the last month.These pics were of one of the first times that she did it and you can see how she moved her legs underneath her. She looks mighty proud of herself doesn't she! I love her smile! :) This has quickly progressed with better getting up technique and to cruising all around the crib in the last week or so. Finally time to drop the crib down.

She now can pull up on the bottom step. We don't have a picture of this as we mostly try and keep a close eye on her when she is there like good parents of our 4th child. (haha!) ;) And she will more willing stand and hold on to one of the ottomans in the living room. And sometimes she will even let me put her feet down on the ground and help hold up her weight while I hold her arms or midsection. So we are definitely progressing.

One of her favorite places to play in the house is with the play kitchen. She loves to take everything out. And she often beats on the pots and pans or stirs her utensils around in them. She laughs at herself and babbles away. The other day she was playing in their while the other kids were out in the living room. She heard them all start laughing and she just burst into giggles herself and started "calling" to them from her play area. It was a really funny back and forth that lasted for several minutes. The other place that Emma likes to play is in either bedroom and it mainly involves pulling books down off the shelves. She does sort of flip them open like she is actually interested in the book too...maybe. :) She is also likes to sit with one of us and pass a toy back and forth. With her siblings, she mostly likes to take toys and isn't quite as good about giving them back. And she complains loudly when they take toys from her hands. hmm, interesting that it starts early. :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Science Lessons

Olivia's Science curriculum this year is Genesis for Kids, which has been a great deal of fun. The experiments follow the progression of Genesis Chapter 1 and group things together by their corresponding day in creation. For example, we did these light experiments as part of the chapter on Day 1 and the air and water experiments as part of Day 2. In each experiment, we talk about how God made each of these things we are studying and how things work together perfectly because He made them that way.

When held just right, the magnifying glass acted as a prism, allowing us to see the colors of the rainbow and talk about how light is made up of all those colors.
We looked at how the light from the Sun can be focused into a small dot that can then burn things like leaves and paper, especially if they're a dark color. She thought that was neat and tried writing her initials with the dot.
Here, we lit a candle in a bowl of water, then placed a jar over it and recorded how high in the jar the water rose as the candle burned out. That change in the height is proportional to the percentage of oxygen in the air. We then talked about how we need that oxygen to live and if there wasn't enough, we wouldn't be here, and if there was too much, the plants wouldn't live (they need carbon dioxide), so God made it just right for all of us.

*Overall, we are not super impressed with this curriculum. While many of the experiments were fun, many of them did not work out well. In the future, if we cycle through MFW-CTG again we will likely use 106 days of Creation Studies by Simply Charlotte Mason. It is a similar approach to studying an overview of science but adds many living books.

Friday, March 8, 2013


The other new addition to our household are our chickens! About 3 weeks ago, we picked up 6 little red chicks from Tractor Supply in Oak Ridge. We decided we wanted Reds (preferably Rhode Island Reds) for their great temperament and large, brown egg production. What Tractor supply sells are "mixed reds" which means they could be RI Reds, New Hampshire Reds, or Red Sex-Links. We picked the 6 that most closely matched and were the darkest color, hoping to at least get 6 of the same breed. So far, it looks like we were successful. We don't know which ones we've got, but they all look very similar as their feathers have come in.

6 cute, fuzzy, peeping chicks huddling under the heat lamp. It's amazing how tiny they were... The best guess the guy at the store had was that they were 2 to 3 days old.
Here they are just 6 days later. Already, their wing feathers are coming in. 
It's amazing to watch how they change every day. This is one day after the picture above (one week after we got them and about 10 days old) and the tail feathers are already coming in.
A bird in the hand...

We encourage the kids to pick up the chicks often (if they can catch them!) so that both they and the chickens get used to the handling.
King of the roost...this one got brave and hopped up on the feeder. only seconds after I took this picture, the rest came and pecked her feet until she jumped down.

At 18 days old, they're too big and feisty for the kids to hold in their hands, so they have to let them perch like falcons. The chicks are skittish and are too hard for the kids to catch. They run and  flutter around and when you pick them up, they cheep loudly and flap their wings until they get settled. They have lots of feathers now and can fly for very short distances. I've had them leap out of my hand to coast back into their corral. 

Our plan for these chicks is for them to be purely egg layers. Greensboro City ordinances allow us to have 6 chickens over 6 months old and four more under 6 months, so maybe this summer, we'll get a few more to grow for meat. We're looking forward to the eggs these ladies will produce this fall!