Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tomorrow's a New Day

You know, today wasn't my best day. Aliza said I was mean and grumpy. I didn't mean to be; I thought maybe some children around here could behave a little better and make me happier. We certainly had our moments and just when I thought that everything was winding down...I had to clean up a mess. Little Miss Independent (that would be Anna) went downstairs--after the lights were turned out--and helped herself to a cupcake. That was all fine and dandy until I had to go downstairs after everyone was asleep and stepped on the open container of remaining cupcakes that was placed on the bottom step of the dark stairs. Frosting everywhere. Cleaning up, yet another, mess was that last thing I wanted to do at 9:30pm.

Yesterday, however, we got to cancel school to freeze corn. Forget Labor Day and snow days, we cancel school to WORK!! Ah well. It was good work. I had imagined a whole lot more than one wheelbarrow full of corn so the work wasn't as long as I had planned on.
Plus we had good helpers. The corn was lovely, but there was a worm on the top of just about every cob. Not a big deal except to Anna, who exclaimed "caterpillar" whenever she saw one and threw the cob away from her. 
Josiah said, "Hey, this looks like popcorn on a stick!"

There's nothing like a huge bowl of corn freshly cut from the cob.
Neither my Dad or Grandad were home yesterday so I spent some time in the shop with Josiah. I'm glad I did. He walked around like he owned the place. He decided he was going to build a house. So he moved some wood around.
The he went to find nails and a hammer. He knew where to find both.
Then he set to work pounding nails in the boards. The first nails were too short so he went back to find longer ones. Hopefully my Grandad grinned when he found the remnants of Josiah in his shop!
I'm sure looking forward to a new day tomorrow!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It was a Big Day for Everyone

I got to spend ALL DAY yesterday making every effort to spoil my nieces while the rest of the adults in the family helped Jeff and Janell move into their new house. Ice cream at 10am--check! Renee did not think I was spoiling her when it was time for her to take a nap. It was her loss...I would have been more than happy to cuddle and snuggle for as long as she wanted. I did manage to get all 3 little girls to sleep at the same time.

At 6:15pm it was time to take Renee and Lydia to their brand new house!

Everything went pretty smoothly all day (except for Aliza and Renee having constant power struggles...oldest girls...) until the end of the day when Anna went to my parent's bedroom and squeezed a tube a desitin all over the floor. Scrubbing the floor vigorously with a dry cloth did the trick. Unless it managed to reappear, I don't think Mom could tell where it was.

My sister's house is all clean and new and nice and pretty. The children had fun exploring and, honestly, I plopped down on the couch. I was quite tuckered out. Jeremy was also on the couch--asleep. He had been moving boxes and assembling a dresser during those 9 hours I watched children. I don't remember why I went upstairs to check on the girls. It was an unfortunate decision. Anna had a non-washable crayon in her hand and no paper in sight. I started looking around and, to my dismay, there was crayon on the door and on the wall and on the wall ALL THE WAY DOWN THE STAIRS. I tried to wash it off to no avail. I threw away the crayon and locked the bathroom door and sobbed. A very bad way to end the day.

I did manage to get it together to go out to dinner with everyone. My steamed shrimp were most excellent. I sat behind the table against the wall. Jeremy chased Anna during dinner. Thankfully The Crusty Crab (restaurant, not Sponge Bob character) is very laid back and informal.

When we finally arrived home at almost 10pm my bed was a most welcome sight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Days

It almost felt like a miracle. Aliza and Josiah were both completely finished with school by 1:00. That's what I've been working towards and hope to accomplish more often than not this year.

Josiah is doing great with kindergarten. I really wasn't sure how it would go, but he has been cooperative and sticks with his work until it is finished. He is going to do just fine this year. It's going to be really fun to watch him learn. He was really proud of himself for writing his name on his paper today. He is not starting "ahead of the game" in kindergarten so I know I will see a lot of growth and improvement in his skills.

Sometimes Anna likes to listen to Josiah's lessons.
Aliza could hardly wait to start 2nd grade, however, I don't think either one of us realized the growing pains we would quickly encounter. The expectations for 2nd graders are a lot higher than in 1st grade. It's nothing that she can't handle...she's just not sure she wants to! Today we had a much better day and I think she may be seeing the benefit of sticking with her work and getting it done even if it's not "fun".  One new thing is that Aliza is expected to pause the lesson and read her textbook for history and science. Her reading spot is in the rocking chair.
This lifestyle of home education is not the easy road, for sure. I'm still at the stage of adjustment to a new workload that I feel like all I do is run in circles all day. But we're happy and content and joyful through it. I wouldn't trade this hard stuff for any alternative.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hayride, Cherry Tomatoes, Fish and Tractors.

Great Grandad had all sorts of ideas for fun today. It started with a "hayride." Everyone loved that. It was cute to hear Anna tell her Daddy about the hayride when he got home for supper.

The boys picked cherry tomatoes. I have never seen tomato plants this tall!
Gideon reached up high!
Caleb giving Aunt Carla the obligatory smile. By this time Josiah had gotten hot and his poison ivy was bothering him. In every picture he was scratching a different spot and by this one he had just collapsed on the ground. (Drama is not confined to the female gender!!)
The boys came in and had the genius idea to sell their tomatoes. Josiah was selling the yellow ones for $5.00 a piece and the red ones for $1.00. Lucky for Grandma and Great Gramma he does not yet have an accurate concept of money.
Great Gramma happily bought produce from her husband's garden. haha.
My Dad has been in Florida all week for a conference. He took an extra day to go fishing. They boys were excited to see his catch. Gideon informed me that this is the way he "always poses" and that his Mom approves.
I was more than a little surprised to look out the window and see Josiah not just riding on the tractor but DRIVING the tractor. Despite his infatuation with tractors he has never agreed to ride on the tractor while it is running. I believe he would have driven that tractor for hours if he could have.
Aliza got a turn too.
After all that fun, it was completely predicable that Josiah would fall asleep on the way home. In fact, it was hard to wake him up. He was sound asleep!
That's it! Summer's over. I've promised Aliza and Josiah that tomorrow is school.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crazy Beautiful Days

I managed to pick the most beautiful days of the summer to start Aliza in school. Today school got kicked to the curb so we could be outside all day long. That wasn't my intention at the beginning of the day, but all 3 children went outside first thing and were playing together so nicely I just couldn't bring myself to drag Aliza in. That's the beauty of this life of home education, we can take full advantage of beautiful weather. Let's talk more about school next week...

Today there was hiking and "camping" on the "hill". Most likely 1 or 3 will have an outbreak of poison ivy...but today they had tons of fun.
When it got warm, we put a blanket in the shade and read library books. Aliza is mad here because I took a picture instead of instantly starting the next book.

Legos were on hand.
And a picnic lunch was in order.
We took a walk later in the afternoon that turned out to be completely unenjoyable. Josiah was most out of sorts. So much so that he, loudly, declared he did not have enough muscles to drive his Gator. Really, child??! It was dreadful and I was most relieved when we were back on our property and out of ear shot of most of the neighbors. haha.

Tonight we decided to head downtown for 3rd Friday festivities. We didn't stay long, but it's fun to walk the street. Rita's afterwards was a hit!
I'm ready for a relatively uneventful weekend before we hit school for real next week.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Before Knoebels

 The first part of our crazy busy Saturday was my mother-in-laws family reunion. There is something unique about this family reunion though. It's my family too--and not by marriage. This couple that I'm talking to, Marvin and Eunice, Jeremy and I are both related to. Marvin is Jeremy's Great Uncle and Eunice is my Great Aunt. Crazy, huh? I remember the moment I realized this at a Sheats reunion while I was dating Jeremy and asking my Dad is Jeremy was still "ok"? Jeremy and I both have some pretty conservative Mennonite culture in our lineage.

Not 10 seconds after we arrive Anna is attached to Brandi and we are getting a family picture. Do you know "Mennonite" children are really quiet? Mine aren't.
I do, however, have THE BEST sister-in-law. I'm so glad Joel has such good taste. Bless her heart...Brandi is 11 years younger than me and doesn't even try to make me feel old. =)
 There was a treasure hunt for the children and it was a great way to get them to play together.
 The clues led to them to each of the 4 siblings in the eldest generation.
 This is the youngest and only sister, Elizabeth Mae.

 At the end there was a bag of candy and prizes for each child. Aliza and Josiah loved the treasure hunt!
 A family reunion would not be complete without volleyball.
 Josiah and his Great Uncle Darryl. They sat and talked.
 And then explored the stream.
 Then because the day certainly wasn't full enough I decided we needed to travel the extra 6 miles to see another one of my Great Aunts. Abe and Mary live on Widermere Farms and breed Clydesdale horses. Abe was out in the field, but Mary and Linda Sue (I believe she would be a first cousin once removed to me) took us to the barn and we met Moose, the world champion stallion. We also met the team of oxen that Abe is breaking. Aliza is scared to death of animals right now so she wanted no part in any of the visit. I'm glad we stopped anyway.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Vacation Finale

I'm not sure what possessed me. I filled our day to full and overflowing on Saturday. Family reunion, visiting one of my Great Aunts that lived close to the reunion site and then Knoebles in the evening. Knoebles is an amusement park in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. There is no admission fee. You buy tickets for rides and the kids rides are .75-$1.25. Since this was a new experience for our family I thought it a safe way to test the amusement park waters. Joel and Brandi were with us along with Billy, Diana and Brayden.

Bottom line:: Everyone had a GREAT time and at 10pm no one was ready to leave. Except for the fact that everyone was utterly exhausted and could hardly drag ourselves to the car!

We checked out the Knoebels website before we went which describes all of the rides. Aliza knew that she wanted to ride the Carousel first. I believe she rode the carousel 4 times during the course of the evening. 
 Anna was attached to Brandi's hip. Literally.

 Bumper cars was the second thing on Aliza's list. Josiah thought he would ride and then he wasn't sure. Aliza LOVED bumper cars.

It wasn't until after supper that Josiah decided to try a car ride...but only if Mommy, and only Mommy, rode with him!
This was also Anna's first ride. Brandi rode with her. And Daddy got back from riding the big rollercoaster with Joel and Billy just in time to see Josiah and Anna ride for the first time. (Aliza was positively terrified about her Daddy riding the roller coaster. We had to leave the area.)


I got to ride with Anna!

Josiah and Aliza loved "driving" cars.

Anna too!

We ended the night with a train ride. I'm not sure how Anna and Joel shared a seat, but they did. Anna totally looks like she could be Joel and Brandi's child. =)
It was great fun and we only scratched the surface of rides at Knoebels. Too bad it is so far away! I will say that it was fun, but it was not relaxing--at all. There were tons of people. I generally had one child up ahead, one holding my hand, and one behind (on Brandi's hip). Of course I knew Brandi was watching Anna, but she's still my girl and I couldn't help continually looking back for her. Phew! It was intense!