Monday, May 30, 2016

Visiting Furnace Town

It seems that the attractions closest to home are the easiest to overlook. Last year we had our family pictures taken at Furnace Town. It was during the off season, but the grounds were open. Josiah wanted to explore so badly and so this was another place I had on my mental list of places to go.

Furnace Town is a living community. There is a church, school, woodworking shop, broom shop, weaver, printer, organic garden, blacksmith and a museum. The day we went the blacksmith and weaver were working and the other buildings were open to look at.

We were pretty much hoodlums in the church. There was a mighty echo that the children made the most of. I felt much better when I saw another group of students crowded around the pulpit making a bunch of noise!
Anna was very into posing at every spot possible.
Isaiah walked until his legs couldn't go any farther! This picture of Isaiah and Aliza makes my heart melt.
This is the furnace that supported this community. They produced iron ore and used the waterways to distribute it.
After our picnic lunch we walked a 1/2 mile nature trail. I definitely regretted forgetting the bug spray. I had it out and ready to go and forgot it! Josiah was our tour guide and leader on the trail.

The blacksmith was the highlight of our trip. We visited the blacksmith shop before and after lunch. The blacksmith gave Josiah a nail that they made.

And then the second time the blacksmith was working with letters and offered to make us a key chain with the name of our town on it. That was really fun for the children to watch and a neat keepsake.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Detour on the Way Home

Since we finished school earlier than usual, I've had a mental list of places I wanted to go before traditional schools are out for the summer. One of those places was the National Zoo. Coming home from WV was the perfect chance for us to make that stop, but the weather was so incredibly rainy. Sunday night it was forecasted to rain all day Monday and I was bummed. But Monday morning it was sunny and there was only a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Jeremy hates to break my heart so he relented and we told the children we were going to the zoo!

We didn't try to hit every exhibit and we didn't hold ourselves to any particular time frame. If I had made a day trip to the zoo, I would have felt like I needed to spend a certain amount of time there and see everything and probably buy at least a snack. By including it as a detour, we ate our packed lunch and didn't spend a penny in the zoo. (The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian museums. There is no admission charge, but $22 for all day parking.)

The habitats at the National Zoo are HUGE. There are so many different places where the animals could be. The trick is to find where the animals are in the loop! It wasn't that we saw that many animals, but the animals we did see were active and memorable.
Isaiah just spotted the elephant!

Aliza has claimed the panda as her favorite animal in the last year or so. We spent a long time watching the Giant Panda eat bamboo. There was another panda in the observation house that was walking around so she got to see a panda up close.



It's pretty fun to almost be at a stage in family life again where we can have some adventures and actually enjoy them. This particular adventure was from 12:30 to about 3:30--during Isaiah's normal nap time. He held up really well. No meltdowns.

Insinde the gorilla observation house was the first place we let Isaiah walk around. He was super glad to be free of the stroller and he pretty much ran as fast as he could. He was not the least bit frightened by the gorillas. He had his face right up against the glass. In the picture below if the glass wasn't there I would have been able to touch the gorilla.
When we got to this exhibit the zookeeper was working with the seals, but Anna had to use the bathroom and we started feeling drops of rain. A sign told us that bathroom were a 3 minute walk in either direction. We picked a direction and walked fast!
 When we came out of the bathroom it was pouring rain. I was super thankful to be sitting on a bench under a roof. It would have been a very long 3 hour drive home in wet clothes!
Now if you know my children you probably know that they are terrified of thunder and lightening. You can only imagine what happened when we were sitting OUTSIDE during a downpour that included thunder and lightening. Actually it was less drama than I thought possible. Aliza was talking the whole time. Anna was on my lap. Isaiah was sitting calmly on the bench beside the bench that the rest of the family was crammed on. And all of a sudden I look for Josiah and he is crouched down between the back of the bench and the concrete wall of the bathroom building. He figured that was the safest place from the lightening. Epic. Jeremy and I used our time wisely and took selfies.
We waited out the storm (10 minutes or so) and by that time everyone was tired and done so we made a straight shot to the car. This little family adventure made me so very happy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Back Alley Garden Tour & Tea

I wish I knew how many years I've been going on this garden tour. It's been a lot! This year I had both of my girls with me, my mother in law, my sister in law and my friend--wonderful company! It was a rainy day, but that didn't keep us from enjoying the day. We had our umbrellas and good attitudes.
This was Anna's first garden tour. She was pure sunshine. I think she sang a made up "I love the rainy days" song just about the whole day.
Aliza was also really great on the tour. I heard her ask questions or make comments to the home owners on several occasions. She was particularly thrilled to find the Travelocity gnome in one garden. Travelocity is a sponsor of the show Amazing Race and Aliza was VERY anxious to start watching the most recent race now that school is finished.
There are so many styles of gardens on the tour. I was taking particular notice of all the colors and variety of iris. Bleeding hearts are unique flowers that catch my eye too.




We concluded our tour with tea. This year we got to choose our 3 savories and 3 sweets. I believe that Anna ate her weight in sugar cubes (not quite!) but she ate a lot of sugar cubes.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Ending the School Year Well

I had planned for today to be the last day of school, but Josiah realized he only had 3 lessons left so he finished last Thursday and Aliza worked hard and finished on Friday. This is our earliest finish. It feels good. I am very pleased with what the children learned this year academically, developmentally and spiritually. I feel like we are on a good path--one that fits our family well.

So tonight we celebrated with Grandma and Granddad. A meal and the children showing their work. Aliza called dessert her "bowl of deliciousness." I wholeheartedly agree!
Aliza finished 4th grade. She learned long division and multiplication and passed my knowledge of geometry (lol). Her English accomplishment was a research report which included an outline, taking notes, writing the report and a bibliography.
Josiah finished 2nd grade. He became a proficient reader this year--reading for pleasure and on his own. Learning cursive and writing a report about an animal that included outside sources were big accomplishments.
Anna also finished PreK. She had her notebook of work out, but she was more interested in showing everyone her latest gymnastics stunts. Her handstand is getting up there. She's practicing that as much as she practiced cartwheels a couple years ago.
What a gift it is for me to have parents and parents in law who are so supportive of our homeschooling. Aliza sat herself right there between my Mom and I while we tried to have a conversation. =)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Changing Up the Scenery

It was time for a change of scenery and it turned out that a couple games of bowling was just what we needed. Besides an elderly couple bowling together (how sweet is that?!) we were the only ones at the bowling alley.
Josiah watched the man beside us and picked up some technique.
In both games all three of the children were within just a pin or two of each other.
Isaiah eventually got pretty comfortable and I was glad that I had Mom for backup hands! He's going to be a different kind of handful than he was last summer. Dad got to stop by too which made all of us happy.
Apparently we make ourselves at home wherever we go.
The children were surprised with lunch at Hardees. Isaiah had his first fast food meal to himself and he made quick work of his fries and chicken.
It's such a satisfying feeling when something that is supposed to be a treat and enjoyable turns out to be a treat and is enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Bit of Fun for Everyone

The had a fun outing with Renee to celebrate her birthday.
They got their nails painted professionally for the first time.
While they were having their girl time, Josiah and I went grocery shopping and bought some seeds and plants. Josiah has been dreaming up his very own garden plot. The sun was shining, it was warm, the girls were away so I made his dream come true. He worked so hard and is so proud of his little garden.

Flowers, carrots and onions planted right beside his hole. lol.
We used some wire fencing (thanks Chrissy!) to mark his area and make a bit of a visual barrier for Isaiah. We are still getting plenty of rain so Josiah hasn't had to water his seeds much to his disappointment.
While I was at it, Jeremy helped me clean out the swimming pools. We've got peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.
My family showed their love for my on Mother's Day by taking care of the cooking. Aliza made a no bake cheesecake for dessert while Jeremy and Anna were working on the main course. Aliza wanted her dessert to be just right and it so reminded me of working hard (just a few years older than her) to bake a cake for my Mom and cook Mother's Day Sunday dinner for her.
Now I'm back to sorting, cleaning and decluttering the house so that we can make some more fun memories!

Friday, May 6, 2016

At the End of a Second Week of Rain

This week our pace has slowed way down. We are so very close to being finished with school which means much less of our day has been consumed with school. And it has been rainy. There is something about the wet and gray that slows things down here--we've had jammy days, late mornings, lots of playing and a few things crossed off my project list.

But today I started getting buggy. I didn't want to tackle any major project. So I worked on a Project Life scrapbook which was fun and did feel like I accomplished something. It was fun to sit on the floor and just watch Isaiah play with cars. And I topped the day off with not having yeast to make homemade pizza so Jeremy brought home Little Caesars. A rare treat here!
Yesterday, though, was a big project day. I knew I had a lot of boys clothes stored away, but I didn't know how much until I piled ALL the bags on the bed. Upon seeing how the quantity, I no longer felt guilty for feeling overwhelmed and calling in Mom for help. Mom and I can knockout a project when we set our minds to it and that's what we did. In 3 hours we had the clothes sorted by size, reduced by at least half and in bags labeled by size. Such a good feeling.
These days have a Pacific Northwest feel to them--drizzly, cool and green grass to brighten the day. The children have gone out to play just about every day though. Josiah is currently dreaming up a garden.
The girls have been playing for hours at a time together in their room. This is an exciting new development. They've been playing school with their dolls. Aliza has been creating worksheets. I'm loving it as much as they are!