Monday, September 30, 2013

Annual Apple Pickin'

The highlight of our fall is our annual trip to go apple picking!

  We started this tradition the first fall that we had AnnaClaire home. Just me and my 2 girls! AC was not quite two at the time. I had never been to an apple orchard in my whole life.  I had no idea of the FUN I was missing nor the memories to be made!

I have such precious memories of this first time we went in 2007.  It was a chilly, gray and drizzly day, but perfect in every other way.

This year, as in most of the past years, we were joined by my friend Tracey, and her 2 girls, Mia and Emily!

Here we are arriving at the orchard.

As you can see, the weather was perfect!

We went on a hayride first. Here's some of the group.

Then we went pickin'!

Well, only some of us actually picked....

 Grace and AnnaClaire spend the majority of their time IN the trees!

Kate was meticulous with her picking, as she is with everything.  She was careful to make sure each apple was just perfect!

And Charlie was our fastest picker.  He does everything quickly!

After picking came the BEST part!  Warm apple donuts and fresh cider.
   Then we let the kids play and play, while we mamas sat in the shade and visited.  No photos of that part, because we were too busy relaxing!

We loaded our cooler with gallons of cider.  And brought home more donuts for breakfast the next day, and then it was time to leave.   

Before heading home, we had to take our annual photos by the Sky Top sign.

Grace~ 13- 1/2

AnnaClaire~ 7- 1/2

Charlie~ 7- 1/2

Kate~ 6- 1/2

Ellie~ 3
Notice the hands on hips.  "I did the sassy pose, mama!"

And the whole gang!

Then we loaded up the 7 tired kids and headed home.  Our trip from start to finish was 11 hours long!  We slept WELL that night!

And Emily, you were MISSED!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Living Science~

In our family, we usually focus on "living history" but today we had a wonderful opportunity to study science up close and "living!"

On our way home from picking a friend up from school,  I saw a turtle crossing the road in our neighborhood. I spotted it at the last second, literally as I was about to drive over it~ HOPING that my tires did not get it.  Thankfully, the tires missed the turtle, and he was still trying to cross the road after we drove by.

Initially, I kept going.  Then I thought, being the homeschooler that I am, that THIS was a teaching moment!  And I needed to take advantage of it.  So, I pulled the van over, unloaded the kids, and we went to help the turtle cross to the other side of the road.  AnnaClaire, picked the turtle up without hesitation, and carried him over to the grass.  The turtle was a spritely little fellow and the children enjoyed watching him for a bit.  

Then someone asked if we could bring him home.

So we did.

We had my friend's 15 year old son in the car with us, and he identified our turtle as an Eastern Box Turtle.  And JM graciously held our turtle the rest of the way home, since we had no container to put him in. He held him even as said turtle, ummm how shall I say this...., went to the bathroom. And as I apologized to JM while the turtle was "in the process,"  he replied with the typical teenage answer, "no problem, Mrs. H."  Gotta love a boy like that!

Well our little turtle friend, lovingly named Traveler (since we found him along the road) certainly provided an afternoon of entertainment and learning for the kids.  I did tell everyone that when daddy came home, they were going to load in the van and go release Traveler at one of our nearby parks that has a pond.  

I was only hoping that Traveler would survive the afternoon of turtle loving until daddy arrived home.  


He did!

And so, before dinner, he was set free.

  And somebody was soooo sad to see him go....

And now, and I'm sure it comes as no surprise, we are waiting for our 2 books about box turtles to arrive from Ama*zon. 

Oh, yes, we are! They were ordered before we even let the turtle go!

And if you're wondering which books we ordered, they can be found here and here

 I SO wish we lived on some land, like my sweet friend. Truly a dream of mine.  But, alas, all we've got is just a small suburban neighborhood lot. But I'm SO thankful that today God provided this bit of nature for us to study!      

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's Been a While!

Goodness, but it's been a while.

We've been fine here, just busy.

Getting Emily back to Auburn.

Settling in to our school routine.

A visit from a grandma.

Another little history road trip.

A short visit from a big brother.
Piano, ballet, co-op, choir, Frontier Girls, Cub Scouts, speech therapy 2x/ week x2.....

A daddy that's been traveling more.


I've got much to catch up on, but today I'm going to share a little about our Thursdays w/ homeschool.

This year, Grace is involved in a co-op. And let me tell you, it's been a HUGE blessing.  And an answer to prayer.  One thing that has been lacking for Grace within our family has been activities and friends of her own. The fact is, when you've got 4 children between 3-7 years old, and only one that's of a very different age, most of our days and activities tend to be geared toward the younger majority group.  We've been looking for ways to change this and to give Grace some things of her own, and her co-op is really filling this gap.

Several ladies from our church were planning a co-op for their middle school children.  The kind where each mom would teach one of the classes.  A friend of mine from church mentioned the co-op to me one Sunday.  I thought it sounded GREAT, and perfect for Grace, but I commented that I just couldn't spend a day out of our house, teach a class, and have my 4 younger children in tow.  (I am certain that some of you reading this would have no problem with that, but for ME, it just was not going to happen.)  I told my friend it sounded like an answer to our prayers for Grace, but that it just probably wasn't going to work for our FAMILY.  My friend said, "Let me talk with the other moms, and I'll get back with you....."  I must say, I was so excited and quite hopeful.

Well, the ladies all agreed to have Grace participate WITHOUT me having to participate. Truly an answer to prayer.  And truly the body of Christ willing to step in and help fulfill a need we had.

So Grace has been attending co-op now for 3 Thursdays.  And she LOVES it! The boys and girls in the group are wonderful!  Encouraging and God loving.  Just the nicest MIDDLE SCHOOL kids.  

I meet my friend at 8:15 in the morning, and she takes Grace the 40 or so minute drive to the home where the co-op meets (a beautiful home on land, out in the country) and then brings Grace back to our house about 3:30 in the afternoon.  

And what makes this even MORE perfect, is that my friend is currently adopting a darling girl from the Philippines who is a year younger than Grace.  Her new daughter, EG, has been in the US for the same amount of time as Grace (3 years) and she is a year younger than Grace. (12 years old)  EG is being adopted out of a disruption, and she is ABSOLUTELY THRIVING in my friend's family.  She and Grace have quickly become "besties" and it is a delight for me to see Grace just blossoming through this friendship.  EG is bright, articulate and LOVES the Lord.  Although she is younger than Grace, she's an EXCELLENT role model for her. And I am SO, SO thankful that the Lord has put these two girls together. The girls feel such a connection and feel so comfortable with each other; I know it's due to having very similar backgrounds. 

Is there a downside to this co-op, you may be wondering?  Well yes, there actually is.  Grace cannot come even close to keeping up with the level of work of the co-op.  It's become very apparent over the last few months, that we are dealing with quite a bit more than what we thought was just a delay in learning English.  Lot's more is going on.  All along, I've been thinking, "once she really learns English...." but the fact is, she's been here 3+ years, the English is not really improving, and learning is a struggle.

Thankfully, the ladies in the co-op have been so gracious.  I told them that MY goals for Grace in the co-op were probably very different than the goals they had for their children.  They "got" what I was saying, and we're all working under the premise that "she gets what she gets."  And THAT took a TON of pressure off both Grace and myself.

So with Grace, happily at her co-op each Thursday, I've designated Thursdays as our "hands on learning" day with our four four littlest learners.  And it's been SUCH fun!

Today, after dropping Grace off w/ my friend for her day of learning and fun, we headed to our nearby hardware store in search of worms!  Well, don't you head to your local hardware store when you need worms????

This place is a historic TREASURE!  How anyone can shop at a big box store, when THIS place is nearby.... And you'll just have to indulge me these photos, because well,  I just ADORE historic buildings!

Sorry for the blurry picture, but it's the only one I took with the kids outside.

Just look at this place!  When you visit in the summer, you can enjoy a cold bottled soda, and when you visit in the winter, you can enjoy the warmth from the old heat stove.  Once when I was in, there was a mama cat and her kittens lounging by the stove.  Really. It was like a movie.

       As home vegetable gardens have become more popular these last several years, Renfrow's has expanded their gardening section, and it's now a large part of the store. 

    Mission accomplished!  We left with plastic tub of "about 35 worms." 

"Will that enough?" 

"Ummm, more than enough, I do believe."

As we were driving through town, we noticed this in the town park.

 So of course we stopped to remember.

And then we went home to learn about worms.

For science this year with the 3, we are using Simply Charlotte Mason's "Outdoor Secrets."  And we are loving it.  The guide that goes along with it leads us through lessons that include lots of living books and nature journaling.

 Charlie is holding the teacher guide, which I highly recommend.  Intended age range for this science "curriculum" is K-2nd grade, and I've found it just perfect for my 2 first graders and 2nd grader.

The girls are holding the 2 books about earthworms that we read this morning.

 Here are the kids studying their worms and working on their nature journals.  And Ellie in the middle of it all, just being silly. Because that's how she is!

 If you look closely at the end of the pencil in Kate's hand, you can see Kate "holding" a worm.  Yep, that's as close as she'd get to holding a worm.

 AnnaClaire was our bravest with the worms and at one point, she was holding all of them at once!

  You can see that Charlie is a bit timid with the worm in his hands, but he did "man up" and  hold one!

And Ellie?  No thank you.  Worms are just not her cup of tea!

And here are the 3 with their nature notebooks!

After our morning with the worms, we loaded up the van and met daddy for lunch (after washing hands, of course) as he was on his way home from the airport.

And that was our fun and wormy Thursday!