Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Growing Flowers

When I plated those tiny flower seeds, I didn't have very high expectations. In fact, Aliza predicted that I had a genetic brown thumb. With rain and some luck my seeds grew and I have been LOVING my flowerbed. Aliza has conceded that maybe my thumb isn't brown. How about a little picture tour?
This is the whole flowerbed from the front of our house.

Foxglove and Snapdragon. I've learned a bit about foxglove. I'll try them in a different location next year.

The sweet peas are hidden behind the zinnias. The zinnias are blooming and so much fun to watch grow.
I the corner are these pink annuals and I've started 2 clematis. Indigo is in front.

Baby's breath in front. I didn't expect them to do anything, but I've had a couple little flowers. Gladiolas, in the back,  were a late addition in a spot that didn't sprout. Beside the gladiolas are amaranth.
In he front is honeywort. The amaranth and honeywort are experiments. I've never seen them and know very little about what to expect.
Cosmos are growing well and blooming.
One of the little baby's breath.
The first honeywort bloom. I ended up pinching them back so have to wait for more buds.
Giant wine zinnia. Janell picked up these seeds from floret, started them and gave me the plants. I'm so glad she did! They are my favorite. I'll be watching to get more of these.
One of my first little bouquets of the season. I used azalea cuttings to fill in. 
I had no idea I would find so much joy watching flowers grow. I find myself walking around out there a couple times day, just looking, maybe pulling a couple weeds, or watering. I suspect that next year this flowerbed will be extended.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lessons from Blueberries

A post to my children:

I can't pick blueberries without remembering my first job and I usually tell you about it while we are picking. I was in 7th and 8th grade and we lived in Oregon close to a blueberry farm. My family picked blueberries and I remember my Dad loving the blueberries and exclaiming over how big the berries were and how wonderful they tasted. At that time I didn't like blueberries. I don't remember how it happened. I know that I did not make any phone calls to pursue a job. And so I really think that it was my Dad who said something when we bought blueberries that landed me that summer job of picking blueberries.
I got there early in the morning and worked until about noon. I don't remember regularly packing a lunch. I would sit under the bush on a turned over 5 gallon bucket and pick the bush clean. Picking in Oregon was different than picking here on the East Coast. We picked handfuls of berries at a time. Somehow pretty much all of the berries ripened at the same time. Here on the East Coast we have to pick one berry very carefully at a time and it takes forever to fill a bucket.
I'd fill my gallon bucket and then take it over to the nice lady in charge to get it weighed. She would write the weight down on a clipboard and I got paid by the pound. I know that I wasn't a super fast picker, but I kept at it. I didn't take breaks. I didn't have a phone to mess around on. I picked 7 or 8 buckets a day.
One summer there were a couple other girls my age. I really enjoyed when we were put on the same row together. I got paid one time at the end of the season. Both summers my checks were just over $100. I got paid 24 cents a pound. I was quite happy with that pay check and I put it right in the bank.

I had some really boring, low paying summer jobs. I hope you do too. Because you will learn to stick with a job even when it is boring. You'll learn to show up and work hard because it's the right thing to do. You'll appreciate your paycheck. And while you're working you'll dream of a job that you really want and then you will work to reach that ideal job and you'll be a good employee or employer. And hopefully I'll be the mom who will make sure you only have a flip phone in your pocket so that you won't be distracted from learning life lessons!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Joy Dare::June

5478. A morning of watching K-LOVE fan awards
5479. Flowers blooming
5480. A bit crazy, but fun, hotel story
5481. Meeting new people
5482. Safe trip home
5483. My bed
5484. Resting and catching up
5485. Smiles
5486. Got lots of work done
5487. The children pitching in to help with cleaning
5488. Isaiah being a great garden helper
5489. A "crazy" offer
5490. Compliment on well behaved children
5491. Aliza and Anna helping me weed
5492. Excited children about vacation
5493. The children surprised me by enjoying a new setting
5494. Braces off for Aliza
5495. Boys play time
5496. Tea time with Maria
5497. Afternoon view
5498. Friends who get me
5499. Errands with the boys
5500. Vacation anticipation
5501. Personality discussions
5502. Bible time on the balcony
5503. Jeremy is the best letterbox finder
5504. Hours of pool time
5505. Safety during the storm
5506. Aliza got to cook with Aunt Sarah
5507. Adventures in Odyssey
5508. In South Carolina!
5509. Family slumber party
5510. Touring BJU and meeting teachers
5511. Hiking and sightseeing
5512. Hole in the wall pizza
5513. Anna put her head under water
5514. The children are amazing travellers
5515. Very happy to see our house
5516. White brick in my kitchen
5517. Showing up
5518. Jeremy was genuinely excited about my plants
5519. YouTube Christian music parodies kept us entertained for a long time
5520. Celebrating my Dad

5521. Feeling a little more settled after vacation
5522. No one cried when we left them at Grandma's house for the night
5523. Ice cream date
5524. Spending the day with Maria
5525. Selling some curriculum
5526. Summer in full swing
5527. Trading off babysitting with Meghan
5528. The toy room cleaned up
5529. The snake met its demise
5530. New Bible study
5531. Josiah was full of ideas of things to do
5532. Slower day than I expected
5533. Cousins and water
5534. Succlents
5535. Talking it through with a friend
5536. Josiah's motivation to take a walk
5537. Wii must have been designed for 3 year olds--Isaiah plays with gusto
5538. Putting together a care package for our neighbors
5539. Finished a scrapbook
5540. Took a day to do things I enjoy
5541. Picking blueberries
5542. Double rainbow
5543. A few buds in the flowerbed
5544. 6 kids at the cove went smoothly
5545. Josiah and Anna came out smiling after VBS
5546. Aliza doing some very pre-teen things
5547. Zinnias as tall as a boy
5548. No alarm clock mornings
5549. Cooler outside than inside
5550. The moment at Bible study when I see a new truth
5551. Sisters noticing the weird error on my blog
5552. First cosmos bloom
5553. VBS Mom friend
5554. Seeing Aliza developing critical thinking
5555. Listening to Josiah's heart
5556. Spontaneous decision to watch fireworks tonight
5557. All the kids' conversations today
5558. Ice cream cones

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mini Man

It now feels safe to say--after 12 years I am no longer contributing my resources to the diaper industry!

My mini man is as tall as the zinnias. He begs to ride bike every day. He is pretty sure he doesn't need to take naps any more. Keeping up with the big kids takes little effort at all. It won't be long until he beats up on Josiah instead of the other way around. More nights that not, he wakes up dry. And all that makes my heart hurt a little bit in mostly the best ways.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Adventuring--Day 5 and 6

Our first adventure of the day was Paris Mountain State Park. There were a lot of long trails so we opted for the trail that went around the lake which was 3/4 of a mile. It was Anna who was complaining by the end that she was SO tired and her feet hurt SO bad. 

At the end of our tour yesterday, the children were given a Cheddar stuffed animal. Cheddar is a mouse--the character from kindergarten math. Isaiah loves his Cheddar. He took "Cheddie" on the hike. He told us Cheddie was afraid of heights and next time we looked at him Cheddie was riding inside Isaiah's shirt. Isaiah kept us informed of various insects and critters he spotted along the trail.

 We snuck a picture of us! A second later Aliza stuck her little face between our shoulders to photo bomb.
 Josiah was our fearless trail guide. He frequently counted to make sure all of us were within site.
 After that trail, we ate lunch by the playground. It was a pretty day. Warm, but not too hot. I wanted to look for a letterbox that was farther up the mountain. This was met with groans by the tired children, but we did it anyway. When we got to the trail head we had lost internet which meant I also lost the clue. Jeremy and I tried to piece together what we remembered and we got close, but didn't end up going far enough. I wish we had gone to this trail first and just walked as far as we wanted. It followed a stream and the boys loved it. Josiah would love to fill our ditch with stones to make a stream. Anna ultimately won and we went back to the hotel. Really what she wanted was to swim. It was my turn to go to the pool with the kiddos, but Jeremy was the real hero when he showed up a little later ready to swim. Nothing is better than Daddy in the pool too. This was when Anna finally put her head underwater.
 After watching a Fixer Upper, we headed to downtown Greenville for supper and walking around. We went without a plan, found decent parking and then walked a long time looking for somewhere to eat close to where we wanted to be after supper. We found a local pizza place called Mellow Mushroom. We must have been REALLY hungry. Jeremy and I ate all of our dinner salads and helped the children finish off a large pizza.
 This park is part of the downtown area. Falls Park on the Reedy River.
 A really neat suspension bridge to cross the river and overlooks the falls. A couple kids scared of heights made this a short excursion.

 A letterbox clue led us away from the bridge and to this tree. How cool is this?! I've always wondered what a tree's root system looked like.

And we found the stamp. There is a whole letterbox tour of the downtown area. That's on my list for next time!
There was a large grassy hill that the children enjoyed rolling down and running down. Isaiah totally face planted running down. He popped back up and kept running. I don't know how he had the energy to run up and down the hill. We did so much walking and he didn't nap. We had to take one more quick trip to the pool to top off our vacation before bed.

Day 6 was driving home. It took longer than we thought it would. Our children are some pretty amazing travelers. Everyone except Anna slept for a long time. We hit construction and we managed to choose a Chick fil A for supper in downtown Portsmouth. I know those things added time. Once we got across the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel-Bridge, Jeremy kept us entertained with Christian parodies of secular songs. Thank God for YouTube!

I could not have been happier to see my house when we got home at 10pm. One way to make your house seem spacious is to spend the night with 6 people in one room for 6 nights! My mom painted the fake brick in my kitchen white while we were away and I LOVE it.
Jeremy and I unloaded and unpacked as fast as we could while the children played on the computer as fast as they could. And then we were all very happy to sleep in our own beds.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Adventuring--Day 4

Originally this day was going to be our outside exploring day, but it was rainy. I took the children to the pool first thing in the morning and was trying to figure out how to regroup and I had the idea to just call distance learning to see if, by chance, we could do our tour today. They said yes and we switched gears--fast. In 45 minutes we showered, got out the door and to BJU.
We started with our tour of the Distance Learning facility. The kids were totally enthralled. Well, I was too, honestly!.
This display houses the retired kindergarten puppets--Dottie, Hopper and Bonnie. And Paddy from 2nd grade math.  

Jeremy probably enjoyed the videoing room the most. The technology they have is pretty amazing. We saw where the teacher stands, how the teleprompter works the set up for the technician. The children asked questions about different things they have seen teachers use in the lessons--some teachers change the teleprompter themselves and others don't.
Next was the set design area. It was like a treasure hunt in there. They had all kinds of set pieces around the room and we would look around and spot something we recognized and exclaim. In the picture is a set model for 1st grade reading. All of the sets are made from styrofoam or rubber. They made some very real looking brick and wood out of styrofoam. The designer demonstrated the saw they have for cutting intricate designs out of styrofoam.
We walked down the hall, the kids turned and there was Mr. Pencil! I wish you could have heard them! You would have thought they just met a famous person. Mr. Pencil was in 1st grade handwriting and he did some pretty silly things. Anna just finished 1st grade so this was a big moment for her.
We also saw the warehouse where all of the old set are stored. Some sets have become so iconic to a certain class that they will not be used again. Pieces of other sets can be used again or repainted and used again. For the upper grades they are using canvas backgrounds for the set that have a more contemporary and mature feel.

There is a huge rack of clothes where they female teachers keep their outfits and accessories. The teachers buy outfits and then each outfit is screen tested to make sure that it coordinates with the background and isn't too distracting. There is also a makeup area.

AND THEN...the moment we had been waiting for. We got to meet Mrs. Walker!!! Mrs. Walker teaches reading in kindergarten and all of the Phonics/Handwriting/Reading in 1st grade and numerous other classes through 5th grade. This is the teacher who I credit with teaching my children to read. I always said if I met her, I would give her a hug because 1) she taught my children to read and 2) she teaches with such passion and enthusiasm all 3 of the children love her classes.
This is Mrs. Gillenwater who Aliza will have for Life Science next year. Aliza can't wait for Life Science now. Super fun lady! And Aliza knows a couple inside scoops on the filming of the class. She also teaches Biology.
When we got to the hotel and flipped through the pictures, we found their selfie!
Aliza had Mrs. Bullock for 6th grade ancient history. Mrs. Bullock teaches 8th and 10 grade history also. She was super personable and fun to meet.
Mr. Matesivic taught Aliza 6th grade math. He just finished filming the updated Geometry course too. I also met Mr. M in Lancaster at the convention.
These teaches visited with us for at least 20 minutes. The kids say we have to go back some day because there were 3 other teachers they would have liked to meet who were on vacation or business trips.

It was lunchtime when were were finished but there was one thing that I really wanted to do while we were on campus. I wanted to talk to someone about the Academy of Home Education (AHE). I had some questions and I knew I wanted to talk to some face to face. No one could give us clear directions to the office (they are located off campus) and so a man headed out to lunch offered to take us there.

Jeremy needed to take care of a work something and so Aliza and I went together. I wanted to appear to have it all together (ha), but with 4 family members in the car and hungry, I ended up have to text Jeremy a couple times about where we were (the guy who led us to the office parked very far away from the actual office!) and how there was an area where the kids could run. I won't bore you with the details, but I hit the jackpot when I landed on BJU curriculum. Assuming we continue on the path we are on through high school, my children can graduate with a diploma and have college transcripts sent to colleges through the AHE. I have a better understanding the requirements and expectations after talking to the staff. If I think about it too much I get a little overwhelmed, but mostly I'm excited and ready to go for it. 
Aliza did a lot of dreaming and it made me happy.
We *finally* ate lunch and then went back to walk around the actual campus. I wanted a BJU Christmas ornament and we went into the library for the experience. After that we were all ready to go back to the hotel. Those couple hours had been a highly anticipated experience and we were tired! At least Aliza and I were tired! Jeremy took the youngest 3 to the pool, Aliza watched cooking shows, and I read and took a nap!

If you ask the children about our trip this day is what they talk about.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Adventuring--Day 3

One thing that Aliza wanted to do was spend some time cooking with her Aunt Sarah. Sarah and her sister have a business in Houston where they prep keto (healthy, low carb, no sugar) dinners and sell them. Aliza wishes that she could do their chopping for them! Our last morning in Williamsburg, Sarah offered to make low carb pancakes for breakfast and Aliza got to help. They were yummy except that I really do not like the taste of sweeteners.
 I went back to our unit to pack while the others played a while longer and said goodbye.

We loaded up and were on our way to Greenville, South Carolina! Anna was quite sad to leave Williamsburg. No one was ready to say good bye to cousins and Grandma and Grandpa. It wasn't too long until they all settled down and were excited for our next adventure.

It was almost 7 hours to our hotel. At Chick fil a, Aliza really wanted a milkshake. Daddy must have wanted one too--he got 3 to share.
We reintroduced the kids to Adventures in Odyssey and this time they are hooked. We listened to a lot of Odyssey! It was late enough when we arrived that we got settled in, looked at the pool and watched some food network and settled in for the night.