Thursday, March 27, 2008

Adventures in Maple Sugar Land

Well, we did complete our maple sugar backyard experiment, and it *was* quite an adventure!
I decided to post about it on my other blog, "Musings of a Fulltime Mom".

If anyone is interested in checking it out, here is the linky:
  • Musings of a Fulltime Mom
  • Saturday, March 22, 2008

    Field Trip

    This week we went on a field trip to see how the tapping of maple trees is done, for making syrup. This brought back fond memories of my childhood, and I was happy my children could see the process as well. (A family friend of ours in Ohio did this.)
    First they explained to us the tapping process:

    Large trees can have 3-4 taps:

    Kaylin (friend), Dominique and Joshua checking out the tin buckets:

    Next stop, they demonstrated how "maple syrup" flavored stuff you buy in the store typically has NO real maple syrup in it - it is pure corn syrup, and not nearly as tasty! They explained a few other things here while we warmed up, and then we were on our way to the next stop.

    The old mill. Didnt have anything to do with our field trip, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of it!

    Inside the sugar shack, where we saw the enormous evaporator used to boil down the sap until it becomes syrup. Sap is 97% water, so it has to boil a long time (8-10 hours) in order to become syrup. It requires 35-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, so that explains why true, pure maple syrup is not cheap! Oh, and besides the ratio issue, there is only a short window of time during the late winter/early spring in which you can tap the trees: when it is below 32º at night, and above 32º during the daytime.

    Still, *nothing* beats the taste of true, pure, real maple syrup! Nothing!

    Here is the sugar shack from the outside:

    Our group was too big to all go together, so we split up into two smaller groups. This was my group: 6 mamas and 22 children. :)

    Dominique, Cheyenne and Kaylin trying to share an umbrella! That was the only drawback to our day - it was misty and sometimes sprinkling, but at least it wasnt pouring!

    We had a nice time and will soon report our backyard experiment with tapping our own maple trees. :)

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    The Week In Review

    Last Sunday, we had a going-away party for Maria, one of the ladies in our group who moved back to Mexico on Wednesday. (She is in the front on the right, in the white jacket.) It was a bittersweet time, as we will miss her, and yet we see the hand of the Lord in her life, and know that He will guide her way in Mexico as well. We showed a short video we had put together for her to remember her times with us, if you would like to check it out: The text that you see intermitently is the 23rd psalm.

    The guys at the party.

    Chupis feeding Israel

    Then on Friday night, Fabio and I had a date night and it was wonderful! Fabio found a place downtown called Sushi Samba, which is, of all things, a combination of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine!! Imagine that! It was a perfect night for a walk in the city, too, and made me think that spring might come one day after all!

    This was this morning.
    Fabio is SO creative with things like this! When I want to do a project with the kids, I get out a project book or look something up online... but not Fabio. He has all he needs right between his ears. ;) This is the armor he designed for the kids this morning, with nothing but a cardboard Aldi box and some tape. They LOVED it! (Except that Dominique didn't want a helmet because she found it entirely too uncomfortable. :)

    (Notice their sheaths on their "belts" as well. )

    This was Dominique's attempt at a "mean face". Convinced?

    I think Joshua was a tad more convincing....

    ... although he doesnt look much like a rough-and-tough soldier here! Here he is in the vest that Fabio's mom knitted for him. She nearly threw it away last year because she didnt think it turned out right, but I think she did a wonderful job on it! Joshua just LOVES to wear this bow tie, and would wear it every Sunday if he could. He likes to tell people that "not very many people wear this kind of tie any more, because it's old fashioned." I'm glad he doesnt mind marching to the beat of a different drum!

    And lastly, a picture of our littlest angel, "patiently" waiting for his food. Believe me, that doesnt happen very often, as he is *quite* the eater these days! Made for a cute pic, though!

    And I am thrilled to report that I feel half-way ALIVE again this week!!!! Hip-Hip-Hooray!!!!! I think we all finally recovered from that nasty sickness, AND I am also feeling slightly more energetic now that I have passed the 12 week mark of pregnancy. It feels wonderful to have a little bit of desire to actually do something. :)

    Another bit of good news is that Fabio went back to work this week after three months of being laid off. It looks like they will be relatively busy from now on, so we are thankful for that. :) We do miss him dreadfully, though... :( I was extremely grateful to have him home during the time that I was feeling blah, as he was a fabiolous help with the children and makes some pretty darn good breakfasts when his wife can barely function without food in the morning!

    So, the Lord is good - in sickness and health, in times of plenty, and leaner times as well. We have so much to be thankful for!

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Por Favor

    A quick post of Israel. He recently learned to say "por favor" (please in Portuguese). It's too cute with his little raspy voice! (We're not biased, of course!) We were drinking our green smoothie - the highlight of his day! You can also see him use his sign for "more" ("mais" in Portuguese), although he has gotten rather lazy about it!

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Freedom Alert!!

    Dear Friends,

    I know most of you do not home school but that you are concerned about our liberties and freedoms as American citizens. In California, home schooling has been a legal right for a very long time, but last week, a judge working from anecdotal evidence, effectively banned home schooling for all Californians in one decision about one family. The Home School Legal Defense Association is still collecting facts about this particular case because they were not involved with the family prior to the judge's decision. The details of the case are irrelevant however, in light of the fact that the judge has tried to prevent all Californian families from home schooling because of one case! Imagine if we all were banned from certain freedoms because of one criminal's action? This decision is outrageous and threatens the right of parents to choose what is best for their children.

    Dr. James Dobson, whom many of you respect, and who did not home school his own children, interviewed the president of HSLDA about this landmark case and it will be aired today. You can listen to the broadcast on the Focus on the Family website at your leisure. I encourage you to listen to the broadcast and sign the petition (link below) to send a message to this California judge that families all across the US are incensed by this decision.

    Few things make me so angry as when our freedoms are threatened.

    The only thing that makes me more angry is when no one stands up to fight when it happens.

    Husbands and wives can sign separately. Here is the link:

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Father- Daughter Dance and Boys Night

    Well, the long awaited night finally came!

    Here is the little princess with her knight in shining armor:

    "Daddy, I love you SO much!"

    Wrapped around Daddy's little finger.....

    Before we left the house, I tried to get a few pictures of our darling, but it wasn't all I hoped for....

    I did get a couple of decent shots:

    Her hair is so curly just after a wash!

    Not a smile, but I thought she looked like a little angel in this shot. :)

    Anyway, unfortunately, she was still not feeling quite 100%, and if it had been any other occasion, we would have kept her home to rest, but since it was this once in a lifetime thing, we let her go anyway....

    But, here you can see that she was *trying* really hard to be excited, but she actually wasnt feeling super....

    Not exactly the princess look we try to encourage....

    Here are the three princesses that were going to the ball: Dominique, Cheyenne and Jessica

    ... and a fourth princess that might get to go next year. :)

    The daddies and daughters

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we decided to have a fun "boys night" and do some yucky stuff! On the agenda for our evening were:
    Making volcanoes
    Feeding the pythons
    Concocting gooey gunk

    We started with the "volcanoes" - kitchen science at its best!

    Check out that explosion!

    Silly boys!

    Then we got to watch the pythons eat their bi-monthly meal of poor innocent little white mice.

    This is the view I constantly see! He has been cutting teeth (still!), and so if I put him down, this is the response.... but once my belly gets a little bigger, I wont be able to see him down there! lol

    And lastly, we concocted "gooey gunk". This recipe was from a really neat book called "Kid Concoctions". Great to have on hand!

    It was gooey, and gunky!

    And a huge hit with all the boys!!!

    Just so you can get the full effect of what a night with this many little boys is like, I thought I'd include a short video clip. :)

    Joshua was feeling perfectly fine on Friday and thorougly enjoyed his boys night, but then on Saturday he relapsed into feverland again! Too bad Dominique's ball wasnt on Saturday, though, because she was feeling wonderfully marvellous. Problem is, Sunday she relapsed! It's a weird one, this cold going around! And as for me, I thought I only had it on Wednesday, and tried to "snap myself out of it" after that, but I really didnt feel good for days. I tried to tell myself it was just because of the pregnancy.... but lo and behold, I also relapsed fully Sunday night and was flat on my back all day Monday!

    So, here we are on Tuesday, and I *think* we are all over it for good now! I am still tired, even more than before with just the pregnancy fatigue, and the kids are still more crabby than usual, but hopefully we are done with relapses!!!