Monday, May 11, 2009

Forbidden City Slickers

I was in charge of co-op for the seniors this week and one of the chapters in our history reading had to do with Emporer Chi'en-lung of China and the Forbidden City. I found a really cool print-and-make palace from the Forbidden City, from a great Canon website. Not knowing what to do with it once it was put together, we brainstormed about how to use it for co-op. A game, of course! I love making games, so I got to work making one with the palace as the center of it. The kids had to answer knowledge questions (trivia from 3 chapters of history for that week) to earn books for Chi'en-lung's library. There were also "chance" cards that taught little tidbits of info about the Forbidden City itself, along with instructions either good or bad for game play. They had a lot of fun playing it, and it was a blast to make! Some wooden craft blocks served as dice, with chinese numbers 1-6; so the kids had to figure out what the symbols meant too.
Because there are close to 1000 buildings in the Forbidden City, now called the Palace Museum, this obviously could not be a true representation. I took some serious artistic license with it. For instance, I'm sure that the Imperial Garden by the northern wall of city didn't look anything like this:

We had some fun making little bridges to cross the canal that runs through the city. We only had 7 bridges, but I'm sure there are tons more in the real city.
I really do adore making games for school. There's just one problem: where to store all these fun games until we can use them again!!!

Mother's Day

Aaaahhh. Mother's Day. I can always count on a nice breakfast in bed. Scrambled eggs, bacon, strawberry muffins, and juice. Yum.

And of course, wonderful homemade cards from the kids (these are from Emma and Thomas)
I also got a nice gift. A new computer! Would love to say that I'm blogging on it right now, but we can't get the internet hooked up right on that one, so I'm on the old computer. But the new one is sweet!

Rick made dinner: ribs, corn on the cob, raspberry Jello--Finlayson style, and angel food cake with strawberries and whipped topping. It was so good!

Time to start planning Father's Day..........

Catching Up

I went a whole week without posting! What's up with that? Well, here are some photos from this past week to catch you up with what's been going on here in Finlayson Country.

This morning Austin was holding Henry, and Henry fell asleep while they were just sitting there. That 'ardly ever 'appens!

That rose at the corner of the porch....It's some kind of climbing miniature rose but I cannot figure out to save my life what it's name is. But it sure is pretty.

Slowly but surely the potager begins to take shape. With the fence company chosen, I now just have to wait for them to work me into their schedule. In the meantime we are working on the beds close to the porch. Some free brick cast-offs provided the border for this bed.
In case you haven't noticed the Skip-Bo Tournament Scores in the upper left column, our family has started a perpetual Skip-Bo tournament. Here are some pictures from Wednesday's game night:

Emma and Thomas are thoroughly bored with Skip-Bo at their ages, so they opted for puzzles instead.
Austin, our resident goofball, strikes one of usual stately poses
.....made that face when he saw my cards! Mom didn't have good luck that night.

Audrey successfully avoided direct photos the whole night
Even when I tried to pretend I was only taking pictures of Henry.
More coming later...............

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stake Conference Picnic

Our stake center is too small to accommodate the congregation on stake conference Sunday, so we have it in New Bern at the convention center. It's a longer drive, but only by a bit. Besides, the convention center is on the waterfront in New Bern and it's so pretty there on the water. There's a small park and we almost always bring a picnic lunch to have afterward. Today the weather was so fine, we had lots of families all hanging out and eating together. It was a great day. And here's the proof:

Audrey with some of her friends
The gazebo
Yes, Audrey is still our daughter, but she was off somewhere hanging out with some friends. Teens!
Henry enjoying the seagulls

Austin and one of his best buddies

Emma and Rick

Another view of the gazebo
Thomas pushing the stroller

Austin, my friend (who is also buddy's mom), Henry, and buddy

Some of the families all comfortably hanging out under the shade of a tree

Henry had to eat too!

Audrey has entered the please-don't-take-my-picture phase, but she let me take this one

See, I told you he was eating!

Austin pauses for a photo
Many of the families were LDS homeschoolers and it was so nice to be together. It was a great afternoon. But we sure missed Papa and Nana and the Easons being here, as both are gone on trips right now.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


There's nothing more evocative of country living than a rooster. Audrey bought ours from a homeschool band friend for a whopping $3 and he was a teenager when we brought him home. In fact, he looked liked a skinny hen....not a rooster. But in the couple of months since we've had him, we've seen him grow into the stately farm fowl he was born to be.

It took some of us a while to get used to the crowing, once he finally started. Rick used to wake up at 4 a.m. with the rooster, but now he's used to it. Rooster crows

Rooster and some of his girlfriends like to fly the coop. Literally. They fly up to the top of the pasture gate and hop on over to forage for bugs all around our house. We can tell where they are because Rooster crows Here they are in the soon-to-be-potager off the back porch. You can see the pasture in the background.

I fed them some pancakes so I could get some closer pictures of them. And yes, that is my rubber-ducky-pajama-pants/bedroom-shoe-wearing leg in the picture.
In case you're wondering what that brown furry object is to the right of Rooster, it's a chew toy of Lucky's. It used to be a rabbit toy, but it no longer has a head so I don't think that counts as a rabbit anymore. I don't know.

You Load 20 Tons and What Do You Get?

I guess I'm just a really bad judge of size and volume, but does this look like 20 tons of topsoil to you? I was expecting a pile twice this size. So you can imagine my disappointment when the 2 ton pile of granite screening was dumped next to this pile of topsoil. I'm sure I'll have to order more. Oh well. (Notice the usual Austin antics as he pretends he is falling off the pile. Also, Audrey lost her flip flops on the trip up Topsoil Mountain.)
So all that dirt is waiting to be put into the jardin de potager, which is waiting for the fence to be put in, which fence is waiting for the dang fence companies to hurry up and get me the estimates already. Meanwhile, the grass (and I use that term loosely) is starting to grow back.

But in the meantime, at least I get to enjoy the plants already installed. Actually this mystery rose just started growing a couple of years ago. It's in a bad spot and I'll have to move it this fall, but it's actually got a few blooms this year. It gets no direct sun where it is now, so I'm surprised it bloomed at all. Doesn't it look great next to our blue house? You know that's the reason I picked blue right? All flowers look great against a blue house. Seriously. That's why I picked that blue. No I am not crazy. Well, not completely. Give it time.
And of course, no gardening post of mine would be complete without at least mentioning my favorite Lady Banks rose. It is definitely past its peak now (frown) but it was a glorious blooming season while it lasted. Here our Fletch Memorial cat figurine is enjoying the blooms too. (Fletch is our orange tabby that died about 5 years ago.)
Can't do much potager work in the garden today without knowing where the fence will be so I guess we'll just work elsewhere. Cleaning up the firepit, cutting the grass, pruning a wooded pathway. Yeah. We've got enough work to do today. When the time comes to install pathways, bed borders, and topsoil I think we'll be doing a lot of life skill math in homeschool that week!