Trick or Treat

 Annika's first Halloween.
 A dinosaur joined us for school
 So did Super Cow
 And Spiderman
 Posing before heading out to our Halloween Party
 Lots of posing
 He wanted to be duct tape man....but settled for Super Cow when we ran out of time and tape to make his costume.
 But check out his cape....silver and black duct tape using a trash bag as a base.
 Spider climbing
 Obligatory group shot.
 And another group shot once we got where we were going. 
Party Time!
 Lollipop spiders
 Witches Stew contest
 and race
 Jack-o-lantern luminaries 
Jack-o-lantern pizza
Bone pretzels
marble painted spider webs
and faux trick-or-treating
Happy Halloween!


Strengths of Character

Awhile back my dad sent me the link to an article. "What if the Secret to Success if Failure" from the New York Times. It was an interesting read on the importance of character. In the article the author referenced another book- Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, which I decided to have Paul check out from the University library just to see what it had to say.

Now when I say book- don't picture a educational or parenting guide on character building in your children. You'd be way off base. This is an 800 page psychology study. It's not exactly light reading. But I've been making my way through. Thoroughly reading some sections and skimming some of the other sections- searching for the information relevant to my situation and needs.
So far it's been very interesting. The authors have narrowed the list of strengths down to 24- universal across culture and time- and categorized them into 6 groups. They discuss their criteria for narrowing down these traits before diving into the details of each of the 24 strengths.

They range from curiosity and creativity to gratitude and hope. From leadership and fairness to bravery and persistence. These strengths cover cognitive, social and emotional virtues.

We (the human race) all have a lot to learn, a lot to improve upon. We all could use a lesson on being virtuous. We could all use a little character building. To rearrange priorities and relearn the value of wisdom and humanity. But all I can control is myself and my family.I can give my kids the best chance at becoming the strong people we all have the potential of becoming. And this is where I am starting; with a book, a list of character strengths and time.


School. Life. Balance.

I have been struggling lately. It's that pesky balance thing again. I have said before I am not an unschooler. We do have a "school time" and I prefer hands on, interactive activities. The thing is, that is not happening.

Life in general the past few years has thrown us off balance. Paul went back to school. He changed jobs a couple times, we added a baby. And now we are in the middle of a tight budgeted, stressful last semester, getting ready to move and all that comes along with that.

So where does school fit in? The short of it...they read, they do a page or two in their language arts books, they do a math lesson and we read a chapter in history. Sometimes I remember to do spelling. Sometimes we add in typing practice. It's boring. It's dull. And I miss science.

But then there is all that life we are living. The part where my boys feed and water our animals. They collect eggs. They chop wood and help build fences. They help each other fix breakfast and help me do the laundry. They watch their sister so I can make lunch or get the goats hay.

And all of that is so important too. There is just no room in my head right now for elaborate lesson plans, and maybe that is okay. They are young. They are exploring. They are learning. And later, maybe in the winter, when all these stressors start to fall away we will have more time. For art. For experiments. For fun learning together.

So for now I try and suppress my guilt. For not being the teacher *I* want to be. And let life happen.


Bit by Bit

We've got a long list of things to accomplish before moving. Things like knocking down a barn and building a barn. And fencing. A lot of fencing. Today we started on a small yard for the goats and chickens. The barn and chicken coop will be in this yard. It's where we will keep kids when they are very young. Eventually they will have about an acre to forage on, but for now we are starting small.

So today was fence posts. Measuring distance and driving them in. And pruning brush out of the way.

Rylan and Cale helped. Rylan has been a huge help lately. Helping to tape walls, pack boxes, prune weeds and hauling other things around. He was doing pretty good with the t-post driver too.

We've also got a new addition to our homestead.

Meet Thor.

He's an Oberhasli buck. With one broken horn and one curled horn. He's calm around the dogs. A little scared of us. He's got sad eyes and he stinks. But hopefully he will do his job and come late March we will have babies

He's only been here a few days now but seems like a very even tempered non-aggressive boy. Which is the type I wanted.


A Week's Worth

We started off the week in North Carolina....

Enjoying the fall colors and cooler weather

And painting inside.

And showing Bandit around his soon-to -be home.

And more painting inside.

We pulled from our fall garden.

Tuesday we did some art with friends.

Optical illusion drawings.
I had seen these on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and was happy to finally try them.

Then we played games

And read books

and more games.

Then I took over the playroom-

with 150+ cookies

And lots and lots of icing

Lots of icing.

Here's the finished product- they were for a friend whose daughter is getting married tomorrow.

Wednesday was packaging day. Thankfully I had some help and conversation which made the time go by much more quickly.

Thursday was cupcakes-

Chocolate and white cupcakes in 4 bouquets for the Bride's Luncheon and Rehearsal dinner.

And tonight, I am doing nothing.