April 23, 2014

One Year: A Peter Rabbit Party

One thing I love about blogging is sifting back through photos of an event, looking more closely at the tiny moments, deciding what to share and what to keep, replaying the day, seeing little things I didn't notice when I took the photo.  When I look back through these I see tiny carrots that little hands made, beauty of nothing more than vegetables, and my little bunny proudly wearing her new age of one.
Every year, every birthday, I make it my personal quest to make my children's birthdays special.  Vera, born on Earth Day, may have sealed her own fate to having a nature themed birthday party until she's a teenager.  Peter Rabbit just felt too sweet not do it.  She's a baby.  She likes vegetables.  Just made sense.
I just sentenced my children to a month of no sugar (so mean, I know), so I wanted to serve a cake that they could actually eat.  I found a really good recipe for carrot cake and carrot cupcakes with no sugar or white flour.  They were both so good and I actually didn't mind that my baby was smashing cake all over her life, because it was pretty darn good for my little bunny. 
I have been wanting to make something out of almond paste forever (which does have a titch of sugar), so I was so excited to make these little carrots.  So quick and easy.  I definitely see more almond paste projects in my future.


I am in love with the centerpiece I ordered from my new friend, Larry of Flowers by Larry in Hendersonville.  He's always up for a challenge and he did a great job using carrots just like I asked for.  :)
Of course the snacks were veggies.  I was amazed at how quickly these were all gone!


D├ęcor was basically all found in the produce aisle at the grocery store.  So simple, but so beautiful.  Some of my favorite things are found in nature and I love using as much from nature as I can at our parties.

I love the details of party planning.  The little things matter.  The little things are what you remember.  I got these tiny gift tags for Vera at Tiny Prints.  I love the tiny details of the floral and the soft pinks.


I think these years of babies has made me more and more sentimental.  I save more scraps of paper with crayoned stick men and tiny mementos.  By the time Vera graduates high school, she'll have 15 totes of memorabilia, but better safe than sorry, no?  I folded up Peter Rabbit napkins and ironed her birthday dress today to be tied with ribbon and stowed away in her memory boxes....all her first birthday pieces.

More birthday bits...

Every baby is more than special.  Each baby is meant to be loved, cuddled, rocked.  But there's something about the last baby that makes you linger just a little longer.  An IG friend shared this quote with me and it fits my Vera so perfectly.
“But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after - oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down.”   -Barbara Kingsolver

So very thankful for this girl.  Thankful that my mama could be here to relive last April with us.  Thankful for this amazing role that I have been given.  Thankful for this girl.

April 21, 2014

Easter this Year

I'm just going to be honest.  I've been one big mess of emotional memories today.  Today was the day, 365 days ago, that I went into labor with Vera and I remember every detail.  I remember what I ate, where I went, what I did.  My first contractions started in the grocery store and I was with my mom and Noah.  I asked Noah if he remembered that.  He did.  For my mom, watching me go into labor, I think that would be the strangest feeling as a mom, don't you? I mean, watching your little girl, who you can replay her birth story in your head a million times over, is going to have a birth story herself.  I just can't imagine that feeling.

Every time I looked at the clock today, I remembered about what I was doing a year ago.  It is kind of surreal.  Tonight after she was asleep, I picked Vera up out of her crib and held her tight and swayed with her for a long time.  She was born at such a pivotal point in our life, in our marriage, that her birth story will always be tied to it.  I laid her back down with tear soaked hair and whispered my love to her.  Something about birthdays always make me reminisce, but this time especially, and I needed to feel her one more time, just like she was one year ago, closer than close to me.

A semi-decent group kid photo.

And the other 65 looked like this.  I kinda like this.  This is real.

It occurred to me a few months ago, that I hadn't made plans for her baby dedication, and since we're way too rebellious for a traditional ceremony, I came up with our own, more intimate dedication.  We spent Easter day at the Biltmore Estate because there's nothing like pretending you're part of a Downton Abbey-esqe Easter egg hunt on the lawn of an estate.  It didn't disappoint.

The middle two did the egg hunt while we looked on a laughed (and yes, cringed over the white dress diving for eggs in the very green grass).  They turned in their eggs for prizes and we waltzed through the tulip garden from heaven and looked at every color in the rainbow, every 12 seconds telling Sophia not to pick the flowers.  We walked and walked until we were shaded by the pond and feeling a little drowsy from sun and sugar, sat back and drank it all in for a moment.  I had asked the kids to write letters to Vera beforehand and starting with Sophia, they read their love notes, one by one to her, smiling at her hoping for a response.  She mostly just stared, but I'm sure she felt the love.  They told her what they loved about her, like when she "smiled with her mouth open" and "how she made our family even."  They also gave her advice, like "to get a good education" and to "not marry somebody they'd have to beat up." (I am not even kidding, you guys.)  And then it was my turn.  I had read mine ahead of time, but even somewhat rehearsed, I still bawled my eyes out through telling my girl how she had changed me, made me grow, loved me through my shortcomings, and given me light in so much dark.  I choked through while Sophie's eyes filled with tears too, ever sensitive of her mama, while the boys fidgeted, and Jarrod rubbed my back. He ended by praying and thanking God for entrusting us with Vera Mae and thanked Him for completing our family with such a precious girl.  It was a precious moment and everything I had hoped her dedication would be.

We collapsed after such a long day in the sun, but we were all filled up....and that's what we were looking for.

April 18, 2014

Natural Egg Dye

Wednesday we did an awesomely fun art/holiday/science project...natural egg dyes.  I have wanted to do this forever.  The beautiful natural shades looking ever so elegant on my Pinterest boards compared to our vividly electric blue from our Paas kits.  We went for it this year. Let me warn you though, this is not a project for the faint of heart.  I felt like I could have used a stiff drink after all this, but it was so worth it.  At one point, all four burners were occupied by bubbling fruits and veggies, there were Cheerios all over the floor, grape juice spilled down the cabinets, and a pile of cracked eggs quickly accumulating.  I would suggest you put on your organized pants this day...a pair that were definitely in my ironing pile on Wednesday, and have things set up before the project starts.  It is fun for the kids to make the dyes too, but maybe have things chopped ahead of time.  Either way, we got some pretty fabulous eggs....

Our favorite concoctions were the beets, the purple onions, and the turmeric.  The purple onions produced the most beautiful jade green. 
Here's the things we used and the ratio of water to veggie to vinegar.

I think its important to tell your kids these dyes are different than Paas.  They might be disappointed if the colors aren't as vivid.  We had lots of cups of dye and took turns with the different colors and some were left in for even ten minutes.  When we got done, I had them leave their final eggs in for about 30 minutes.  These are the results...

...natural Easter egg bliss.
We decided the beets was the worst smelling dye, but it did produce some gorgeously dark pink eggs.

There's still a few days to try this! Have fun and Happy Easter!

April 16, 2014

Our Ancient Greece Unit Study

I don't share every single unit study or art project or book we read in our homeschool, but sometimes there's things that are just way too good not to share...our Ancient Greece unit study is one of those.  We had so much fun learning about Ancient Greece and my kids worked so hard on projects and stretching their brains.
We use The Story of the World for history as our "spine." We follow this book's table of contents to keep us on track.  I skip a lot of chapters in this book.  Usually, I have a plan of big unit studies I want to do throughout the year and a lot of the chapters in Story of the World don't fit with the study, so we skip those.  We do listen to the CD with the lessons that go along with our units and use the map work and the coloring sheets and put all that, with other maps and worksheet type things we do, in a history binder.  Each kid has their own.
We have already been through the ancients in our homeschool, so this is round two.  Since Noah is a middle schooler and seeing this all for the second time, I try to make things a little more challenging for him.  I gave him a packet called "Great Greeks" while I worked on some other books with the younger two.  Noah had an assignment every day that he had to do.  He worked independently and studied many of the "great Greeks" like Socrates and Archimedes. He read, wrote a short report, put together a display board showcasing three of his favorites, and he made a planetary model for the great Greek that discovered there was more than one planet.

Greek myths was another awesome part of our study.  The kids loved reading Greek myths, especially Jack.  He knows pretty much everything an 8-year-old could know about Greek mythology.  He and Sophie made this family tree for the Greek god family.

So much of what we say and do now is based on Greek mythology.  We read countless stories about the gods.  Some of our favorites were:
we also read
The Odyssey as part of this study too. 
Next is Alexander the Great.  We spent a good two weeks on Alexander the Great.  We read John Gunther's book Alexander the Great and it was a fabulous spine to our sub-study.  After the first few chapters, I had the boys sketch out maps of what would be Alex's territory and as we read, we followed his route on their maps with a tiny little black horse, Bucephalus, that we printed out and laminated. 
Besides the maps, we made posters of the Gifts of Greece...their art, view on politics, music, and other amazing things that they have influenced in modern times.  I also had the kids act out a skit, pretending to be Alexander, Queen Olympias, and King Phillip III.  I thought my kids would hate this, but they did so well and it was so awesome to see them do this!  The things they learned is definitely engrained after acting it out.

When we read The Iliad, they kids made a model of the Trojan Horse.  Basically just a triangle of cardboard with popsicle sticks on top and then painted.  The coolest though, is that there really is a secret compartment for the "Greeks" to hide.  Its a really fun piece to have on our history shelf now.

Here's a couple other books that we read a lot...

We had so much fun studying Greece.  Now we're on to Rome and the pressures on to make this unit really fun too.  Not sure we can top it, but we'll try our best.  We are working on a Coliseum model right now. (Can you tell my favorite part of school is history?? :))
If you have any questions about unit studies, I would be happy to try and answer!
Happy learning, folks!

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