Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “R.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter R…is for Relationships.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to develop close relationships between parents and children as well as between siblings. 

Sophia and Olivia on December 23rd
The girls standing in front of
the Christmas tree.

When children are in a school setting, relationships with teachers and friends compete with loyalty to parents and siblings. School schedules and homework assignments take priority over family time, and children may be taught values that conflict with those taught in their homes.

Having attended public school as a child and teen, this definitely describes my school years.

When families homeschool, they operate as a team. Parents are confidants; and siblings are close friends. Schedules are set according to the family’s needs, and children are taught their parents’ values. This is very true for the way I’ve set up homeschooling for the girls.

At home, the curriculum and activities meet the needs of each daughter – not the needs of a classroom or school system. Both girls are treated as individuals, and are truly known and loved.

Ann and Girls 7 Years Later
The girls celebrating the anniversary of
Olivia’s 7th adoption day.

I’m able to customize their lessons based on their interests as well as their developmental abilities/skills. The curriculum and schedule is flexible so if something isn’t working, I can modify it to better fit their needs.  The goal is to make learning fun and educational…and inspire a love for learning.

Another benefit of homeschooling is that the girls have been able to develop a closer relationship with their grandparents who live 50 miles away.

Mom Me Sophia Olivia
The girls with their grandma and me on
my mom/Nana’s 80th birthday.

Girls with All Grandparents
The girls with their grandparents
on their First Communion Day.

Sophia Reading Papa His Favorite Book
Sophia reading to Papa.
She chose to read him his favorite book when he was a child.

Another benefit to homeschooling is that children within a family have stronger relationships. There is generally more camaraderie than in siblings who attend school. Since Sophia and Olivia are each other’s primary playmates, deep relationships have been and will continue to be formed and nurtured.

At the Chapel
The girls have traveled as part of homeschooling
with their grandparents and me.
This was taken at The Shrine of Guadalupe in Wisconsin
(a place where the girls’ grandparents wanted to visit).

As Sophia’s and Olivia’s teacher, we spend a lot of time together in two main ways – educationally and as a family. This time that we spend together learning, working through any problems, and communicating keeps us all well aware of one another.

All of Us by Lake Saganaga
An educational trip to northern Minnesota.
Here we’re near Lake Saganaga where
my Dad/Papa took many trips during the 1960s and 1970s.

Good relationships and communication extends beyond the immediate family. Generally, homeschooled children can easily communicate with people of many ages and from different walks of life. They learn to adjust to the group to whom they are speaking. Because of this, they often comes across as thoughtful and mature.

The Girls with Mary
The girls picking strawberries with their aunt.

Alice with Girls
The girls enjoying spending time with a
family friend (Alice) and her dog (Maggie).

Gathering together as an extended family brings together people of all ages – from newborns to seniors – giving the girls opportunities to play, talk, and build relationships with others.

Thanksgiving at the farm.
An opportunity for playing, talking, and having fun together.

Homeschooling has given the girls opportunities to form friendships with people of different ages who live in other countries. They have met and hosted people at our home including two exchange students from Brazil who lived here in the late 1990s; and my friend from Japan who visited here a couple years ago.

Mom, Dad, Girls, and Ruth
The girls with Ruth (from Brazil) and their grandparents.
Their grandparents invited us over for lunch, and
to visit with Ruth.

The girls also have enjoyed making friends with other homeschoolers as well as children who attend public, private, parochial, and charter schools. This have given them insight into multiple ways that children learn, and introduces them to a wide variety of children.

Sophia's Tea Party
The girls having a tea party with some of their friends.

Sophia with a Friend Before Performance
Sophia and a friend before one of the choir performances.
Sophia, Olivia, and Maggie
The girls holding pumpkins they picked
 from our pumpkin patch.

They have participated in community activities – theater, community ed courses, camps, homeschool swimming lessons, choir, and sports – which introduces them to a diversity of children who have a wide variety of interests.

Olivia with Friends from the Play
Olivia with three other girls who were in a
play/musical with her at a local community theater.

The girls also have had the opportunity to learn from other adults – whether it is at the homeschool co-op where they take a variety of classes; or through special education/speech therapy. They have developed special friendships with some of the teachers and therapists who have helped them learn and gain new skills.

American Girl Tea Party at Co-op
Sophia with one of her teachers at the homeschool co-op.
Ms. Dawn was the American Girl teacher, and this is the
end-of-the-semester party.
Laurie - Olivia's Speech Therapist
Olivia with her speech therapist, Laurie.

Homeschooling is represented by strong and varied relationships. As the girls get older, this will continue to be an important area and benefit to homeschooling.


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Since January, I have been making monthly journal quilts.  It started when I saw a swap on Swap-Bot about doing a journal quilt each month.  It was suggested that the year-long project have a theme. 

For my quilts, I chose the theme “Happenings and Highlights.”  Ideally, each journal quilt will reflect positive things that happen during the month so it can be a tactile, quilted image that brings back happy memories and can be looked at when I need encouragement. 

This month, the quilt is about 9” x 12” and made from 15 different fabrics. All the fabrics are cotton. The embroidery floss and thread used is cotton.

The individual shapes all are ironed onto a base fabric (the orange piece of fabric).

The top of the grass is blanket-stitched onto the background, and the snood and beak are straight-stitched onto the turkey body. The remainder of the pieces are machine-stitched onto the backing.

This month I didn’t do a binding since they pose a perennial challenge. Instead, I made the quilt like a blanket without a binding.

I did some quilting on the orange background, sun, and grass. I used similar colors to the fabric (e.g., yellow quilting on the sun, orange quilting on the background, green for the grass) and kept the orange thread in the bobbin so the back of the quilt is one color.

Here are this month’s highlights and how they are represented in the quilt:

Participated in “Art Every Day Month” – Found this challenge on the internet. The goal is to create something every day – whether it is a small project or a larger one. It could be something in the visual arts, music, photography, or writing…or it even could be being creative in the kitchen.

The point is that you carve some time each day for yourself to express yourself creatively.

I enjoyed doing embroidery and cross-stitched projects that I had in my “to do” bag for a very long time. This month, I completed many of those projects.

There are still more, but doing the ones I did has motivated me to keep working on them throughout the winter.

In the quilt, I did blanket-stitching and straight stitching by hand to represent Art Every Day Month.

Completion of repairs in the mudroom and kitchen – Back in August, there was storm damage in the mudroom.

In November, the ceiling, closet, and floors were completely redone. This has been such a day-brightener as these are the first two rooms when one enters the home (living in an 1890’s farm home means coming into the “service” door versus the front door).

The acoustic tile ceiling was replaced with a wood ceiling to match the walls. It is so beautiful now to walk into the room – especially with the walls cleaned and sealed.

The windows all have trim around them.

The floors no longer have ripped linoleum (from being improperly installed nine years ago) and aren’t curling up at the edges. There’s new quarter round molding all around the edges of the floor.

While I was at it, I had the majority of the blinds re-strung in the house (the cats damaged them many years ago). Now they have new cord/string holders near the top of the blinds so that the cats can’t reach the cords and play and eat them.

It’s so simple – just having things in good working order and looking nice- that can lift one’s spirits. The sun – which I equate with cheerfulness and happiness – reflects these home improvements.

Celebrated Sophia and Olivia’s Adoption Days – On November 26th, we celebrated Sophia’s 9th anniversary of her Adoption Day and on November 17th, we celebrated Olivia’s 7th anniversary of her Adoption Day.

The girls and I looked through their memory & gift bin; they touched (or tried on in Olivia’s case) the clothes they wore on the day they were adopted; I read them each stories I wrote about their early months and up until the time they came home to Minnesota; and we went out to eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

On Sophia’s Adoption Day, we also went to see the movie “Tangled” which both girls have wanted to see. It’s actually a very funny movie.

In the quilt, there are several pieces that represent the girls and their Adoption Days:

o blue feather (Olivia’s favorite color);

o cat feather (both the girls said they are thankful for the cats when asked what 5 things they are thankful for);

o green/purple swirl feather (to me, it reminds me of the ocean and the waves – we had to cross the ocean twice when adopting the girls – once in 2001 and then again in 2003);

o panda feather (the girls are both from China where we saw pandas. We all want to go back someday and also volunteer at the panda research institute which is about 3-4 hours from Olivia’s orphanage); and

o purple feather (Sophia’s favorite color).

Held Thanksgiving Dinner – This year there were 17 people at Thanksgiving.

The girls and I did a lot of crafts and cooking to prepare for the big day. It was a lot of fun making things together and then seeing how everyone liked what we made at Thanksgiving.

The turkey on the quilt represents all the preparations and the actual celebration of Thanksgiving.

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Name Place Holders
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

These are the name place holders that the girls and I made for the children’s table for Thanksgiving. The idea came from the November 2004 issue of Family Fun magazine.

The base is made from polymer clay. Each foot took about 2 ounces of clay. They are formed into a triangular shape and then you cut (with a knife) triangular pieces out of the foot to create the “toes.”

Before baking the feet, you place the fabric-coated wire into the foot so there’s a hole (but not all the way through the foot). Bake as the package directs.

For the face and feathers, there’s a pattern on the Family Fun magazine website. I used different scrapbook papers that I had on hand for the feathers. The face, beak, and snood are from construction paper.

Behind the beak is a tiny wood clothespin. After wrapping a fabric-covered wire (18 gauge…should have been 20 gauge, but there were none in stock at the store) through and around the clothespin, I hot-glued the clothespin onto the beak.

I made nametags for each of the children under ten years old, and cut them out. On Thanksgiving (today), I put them together. The children seemed to really like them.

(Made as part of “Art Every Day Month.”)

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The girls and I made 15 luminaries for Thanksgiving. The idea came from Family Fun magazine a few years ago. Have wanted to make them, but never have made the time. With this month being “Art Every Day Month” I decided that I was going to take the time to make them.

To make the luminaries, take a small bowl and trace around the edge on the side that doesn’t have the fold. Cut the circle out. From the circle, make an outline of a turkey body. (Family Fun has a pattern on their website, but the design is so simple I just sketched it myself.) Cut the turkey shapes out.

I used translucent paper for the white background and the triangular feathers (red, orange, gold, and yellow). This is the same paper I use for the window stars that I make in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand.

On the white paper, cut out circles that are about 1/4″ larger than the bowl. Glue this onto the paper bag to cover the hole. From the colored paper, cut trianges in various sizes. Using a glue stick, glue them onto the white paper. Then, glue the brown turkey body over the colorful feathers.

Place some sand and a tealight into each bag. Light the tealight to reveal the pattern and colors.

(Side note: Unfortunately, it was so cold and windy the luminaries couldn’t be used outside on Thanksgiving, so I put 4 – out of the 15 we made – on the counter so the little kids could see them.) Maybe next year they’ll be able to put outside.

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Pilgrim Hats
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

One of the goals of “Art Every Day Month” is to be creative each day. One of the ways I enjoy being creative is in the kitchen. With Thanksgiving coming up, I picked out some ideas of food that I wanted to make this year. This idea is from “Taste of Home” magazine.

The girls put the Keebler fudge stripe cookies on a plate and peeled the wrappings off the Reese peanut butter cups. I colored white frosting orange and helped Olivia put a bit of frosting on top of each candy. She pressed the candy onto the cookie and then added a miniature M&M to finish off the hat.

Simple. Quick. One dessert done…many more left to go!

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Thanksgiving is only a few days away, but Sophia, Olivia, and I have been preparing for Thanksgiving during this past week.

One of the projects I’ve been working on is creating a variety of stars to decorate the windows for Thanksgiving.

Here are six of the stars I made. They’ll won’t all be grouped together like this – they’ll be spread throughout the first floor where everyone will be for Thanksgiving.

Today I also started making some of the food for Thursday. Some of it can be refrigerated…and one appetizer needed to be frozen and baked from the frozen state.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving always seem to go by so quickly. So, it’s nice to have some of the things done already for Thanksgiving.

Crafting and making food were my ways of being creative today as part of “Art Every Day Month.”

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Racing Turkeys
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

Today, Sophia, Olivia, and I spent time preparing for Thanksgiving. One of the projects we worked on today was a game that I saw in “Family Fun” magazine a couple years ago.

The turkeys that are to the right are the six that will be “racing” down a game board that the girls and I are making. There are six columns (one per turkey) and 11 rows. The object of the game is to bet on the turkey that wins.

Someone takes 5 dice and shakes them. The numbers on the dice are called. The turkeys in the columns that correspond to the numbers move forward. The dice are shaken again and until a turkey crosses the finish line.

Not sure what the winner will get…candy corn, perhaps?

The turkeys are made from a cardboard tube (they’re 1 1/2 inches tall). The faces, beaks, and snood are hand-drawn and cut from construction paper. The tail feathers are cut from scrapbooking paper.

Once we finish the game board, I’ll post a picture of it. It’s rather large…considering the size of each of the turkeys.

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