Sunday, September 22, 2013

Apples, apples, everywhere!

Our first "unit" this year was apples.  For now, I have three early fall units planned, each lasting three weeks.  Each unit consists of one verse and story for the whole unit; three theme related activities for each week - a painting activity, a coloring activity, and a craft activity; a few recipes; and one or two larger outings.  It gives some guidance and rhythm to our time at home and I enjoy having at least three purposeful activities each week.

Our verse to go along with the apple unit.  It is the first few lines of the September poem in "Around the Year" by Elsa Beskow.
"Dear apple, on your branch,
Please fall off into my hat.
For if I pick you off the tree,
They'll not be pleased with that!"  

Our first craft was making a burlap apple print banner.  The kids stamped the apples and after the paint dried I sewed them onto a ribbon. 
The finished banner, hung above the kitchen table.

I made a small, simple sensory bin for the kids with green split peas and small wood balls I painted red with water colors.

It's a great activity for them when we need to bring the energy/crazy level back down.
For another painting/craft, I cut out the shapes needed to assemble apple trees from corrugated cardboard (with one side removed, to expose the texture within).  The kids used water colors to paint them.  We did this on a Monday, which is our painting day.  On Thursday (our crafting day), after the cardboard pieces were dry, they glued blue squares of tissue paper to white paper to create a "sky" and glued the cardboard pieces in place to create an apple tree. 

This was one of the first projects that Töchterchen became extremely wrapped up in.  She was so focused and content working - while Mannchen ran around the yard playing with the dog.  It was a complete roll reversal, but one example of several in the past weeks where I have started to see a real development in her attentiveness to tasks.
Her finished product!  I also somewhat followed this tutorial by my sweet friend Nicole to make a few knitted apples for our nature table.

Another painting day we made this apple tree with red stamped apples and green thumbprints for leaves.  I painted the trunk ahead of time to simplify the activity.
We were unable to find a close apple orchard, which I had planned as our "major" outing.  Thankfully, my mom and the kids discovered an apple tree at a vacant house in her neighborhood!  The kids picked lots of apples with her one day and helped make apple sauce.  Another day, we went back and picked more and made apple bread.  Yum!
We had so much fun learning about apples and the kids can't wait to visit the apple tree again.  Our next unit is on fall leaves.  I can't wait to share more about this unit with you soon!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Home Tour - Outside and Messy Spots

Let's start with the pretty pictures, alright?  Well, pretty in an outdoorsy, mildly trailer trash vibe kind of way.  Our apartment is tucked in on the downstairs, backside of the building, making it nice and private and giving us a bit of a yard.  This location is honestly one of our favorite parts - plenty of space for the kids to play away from any roads and space to garden!
Our unit and our little garden!

Broccoli, swiss chard, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, and some herbs.  Not too shabby for moving in less than two months ago! 

The pots of herbs and lettuce
Nothing fancy, but space to dig in the dirt and keep some of the kids' outdoor toys.  The wagon, riding toys, buckets, etc give it that redneck-junk-all-over-the-yard vibe, but we are embracing it and thankful we aren't visible from the road!
Now, for the rest of the indoor space - the not so pretty parts.  I've already shared the kids' room, living room, and kitchen.  All that remain are our room and the bathroom.  Neither are anywhere near the point of wanting to share them, but I'm going to just because I am a little stuck on what to do next or they are a very slow work in progress...and it might be months before I finish them up.
Bathroom first - looks decent from this picture (sorry it's so dark).  I already re-caulked everything.  The old caulk was about an inch tall/thick and black.  Nastiest thing I'd ever witnessed in a bathroom since using hubby's apartment bathroom in college.

Here's where is starts to get yucky.  When removing the old caulk, I pulled off a chunk of the wall.  This corner was all rotten and covered in black mold.  I was since cut it out, scrubbed, cleaned, and primed all that was behind the drywall.  Now we are just waiting for a new piece of drywall to repair it with.

Ugliest vanity I have ever seen.  It's rusty and funky.  But we have left over spray paint from when hubby's brother cleaned and painted the range hood in the kitchen.  When we get ready to paint after patching the wall, we'll freshen this up too.

Eww...the inside of the vanity.

One side of our room.  The other side (with the bed and dresser) actually looks pretty good.  But I'm sharing this part to hopefully get some insight on how to make such a multipurpose space look prettier without spending money.  So much is going on, especially in this picture since my sewing machine is out.  Suggestions please!
As we finish up these areas, I'll be sure to come back and keep you updated!

Home Tour - The Kitchen

Continuing on our grand home tour, the next stop is the heart of our home - the kitchen.  We spend so much time in this room, especially since we no longer have a separate dining room to use for crafts and activities.  Believe it or not, and you can look here if you doubt me, this kitchen is much larger than our old one.  And it has a dishwasher!  Both are welcome changes. 
However, it lacks a full size fridge or stove/oven.  Had I realized this prior to move-in day, I may have changed my mind about the place.  We had to adjust to shopping more than once a week (but the farmer's market is twice a week anyway!) and I put a few baking sheets/pans in storage.  Other than that, it's nowhere near as bad as I expected!  I can still bake three loaves of bread at once and my favorite cookie sheets fit.  I was even able to bake Mannchen's birthday cake in it without an problems.  If I do get back into baking wedding cakes, I was already planning to do it at my parent's. 
So, all-in-all, we are enjoying this space tremendously!
I didn't use the same pictures of produce I had in our old kitchen.  They were something I found my at the Eastern Market in DC during my first year out of college.  I loved them, but I really wanted this space to feel more cozy and vintage/homemade.  I collected a variety of embroidery hoops and used scraps of fabric in them, along with two hand stitched pillow cases I found at my mom's.  
Closer view of one of the hand stitched pillow cases.  I thought it was far to beautiful and well done to be tucked away on a guest bed or folded in a closet.  Besides, I have a serious affinity for handwork.

A more complete view of the table side of the room.

The best I could do at a photo of the whole room.  This is the most used room in our house, so it was only natural that some of the photos include some of us at work in here.  Hubby was working on a homemade pizza for dinner, while Töchterchen supervises.

The mini fridge and stove.

We were given this at a moving sale we went to on one of our first days here.  It is handmade and I  believe it means "God bless this house and all who go in and out."  How fitting for the heart of our home!  It hangs above our sink.

Tucked into hallway and somewhat in the corner of the kitchen is the kids' play kitchen.  Before we moved in I was nervous that we wouldn't have room for this anywhere in the house.  I really didn't want it in their room because it is so tempting to play with.  Nor did I want it in the living room because it's so large.  Thankfully the hallway is wide and it fits perfectly!  They can play in there while I work in the kitchen and we are all close together.  The ribbon to hang their artwork on is above it.

Now that you've seen the kitchen, stop on by for a cup of coffee and a pumpkin muffin!  We know our apartment is small, but we are so eager to share it and the love within it with friends and family.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Tough Spot

I had in my mind that I would blog even more after we moved.  That I would be so inspired by our new setting, I would turn into a blogging machine. 

However, life is never quite that simple. 

We love it here.  We love being in such a wonderful town, a gorgeous setting, a place that embodies the lifestyle we desire. 

But, you know, it's life, and life is never quite that simple.

While hubby is enjoying his grad school program and I have the work schedule I hoped for...we're finding both to be much more demanding of our time than we ever imagined.  He is on campus for long hours, then comes home and has more hours of studying to do.  I am so exhausted by the time I leave for work around naptime, only to come home around dinner time even more exhausted.  I am finding it to be a major adjust to get accustomed to working outside of the home. 

Many days I am really struggling to maintain my patience and a kind heart later in the day.  I just want to sit back and relax, but there is dinner to be made, a kitchen to clean up, kids to get ready for bed, and a house to pick-up (thank goodness it is small!).  The kids are too young to truly get this and I don't mean to be impatient with them, but I have days that I really struggle to show them the love and compassion they deserve.  And I've been gone from them all afternoon, so I just want to enjoy being in their presence again, not stress over all that needs to get done.

One day this week I almost couldn't take it.  I was in a crappy place emotionally and struggling to find the beauty in this new path of life.  Thankfully, I have a hubby who loves me even when I'm cranky and he went out of his way to care for me.  And, thankfully, those days are usually followed by far better ones, filled with love and outdoor time with my favorite kids.

Moving has had it's effects on all of us - the kids are slowing emerging from a much more demanding, cranky period, hubby is adjusting to the demands and rigor of grad school, I'm adjusting to working in addition to maintaining my home-life responsibilities.  We know this is only a phase - with time we will adjust and these adjustments will be distant memories.  But until we do, some days just feel difficult. 

And, in the more difficult times, I tend to share less because I want this to be a space of joy and sharing.  I want to look back on these blog entries and remember the parts of life worth focusing on.  I don't want to pour negative energy into this space, only joy, love, and the beauty of life.  So, as we continue to adjust, I may have a more silent presence in this space.  I know this is only a phase.  We will adjust and I will find more to share in the coming weeks. 

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama.