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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Adventuring--Day 2

It was a whole family kind of day. This is Jeremy's family. With 6 cousins who don't see each very often there was a lot of excitement and a lot of noise!
 We decided to go to colonial Williamsburg in a 3 car caravan. As we drove into the area, I noticed that there a car show right in the shopping area. Josiah was excited. I knew we needed to go there first. It was a Ferrari show. Josiah had so much fun. And to top it off there were two Tessla's which Jeremy loved too.
 We wandered down the street into the colonial area, but didn't get very far. It was hot and we weren't interested in buying tickets to tour the buildings. There was a nice garden shop that was fun to look at. And then we ended up like this--trying to figure out where we were going next!
 I wanted to find a letterbox and since I was the only one who had something specific in mind, that's what we did. It was a bit of a walk and a bit out of the way, but all the littles made it! The letterbox was in the *prickly* bushes beside the steps.
 It wasn't not where it was supposed to be, but Jeremy and Josh got determined to find it. I had been found only a couple weeks earlier. Apparently, though, the last people to find it decided to rehide it in a completely different location in the bushes. Jeremy prevailed and found it!
 I rehid it in the proper location according to the clue.
 Josiah and Joel were catching Pokemon.
 That was a lot of walking. We picked up ice cream to have after lunch back at the condo. Then it was off to the pool for the afternoon. When we got back from the pool, Isaiah promptly fell asleep.

 This is how the Heslop brothers bond. I believe they are all watching gaming streams. Other times they will all be on YouTube sharing whatever hilarious video they are watching with each other. Josiah is right there too, on the other side of Joel.
 Josh and Sarah had just headed back to their unit when a thunderstorm started. I was ready to put the children to bed when we had the loudest crash of thunder and lightening. We were on the second floor with a 3rd floor above us and it felt like the lightening hit us. Wifi was gone and the kids were nervous. I knew bedtime was on hold. A little later, Karen and Jeremy thought they smelled something. I took the girls back to the bedroom to read and settle them down.

I came out about half an hour later and the rest of the family was on the balcony watching this:
 That strike of lightening hit the building across from us and caused a fire in the roof. Fire trucks were out in full force. I high tailed it back to the bedroom to keep reading to the girls because I knew they would be beyond scared.

But curiosity got the best of me and after a few more books, I headed back out to the balcony--and the girls came with me. It was neat to see the aerial and ladder trucks and watching the fire men on the roof spraying water into the roof through the chimney vent. Ultimately they removed the chimney and opened the roof to spray water directly into the roof. Karen said the trucks left about 1am and people to reentering the building. No one was hurt.
For all of the emotion of that night, it is interesting to me that this story is not one the children have recounted when asked about their vacation.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Adventuring--Day 1

I tried to think of an inventive way to do these stories, but apparently my mind only works in the sequence of a day. So I'll mix themes in with days so that you won't have to read about the pool every single day! lol. Just know--we were at the pool every day for an entire 6 days and the kids loved every single minute of it.

Our first destination was Williamsburg, VA to be with Jeremy's family for a couple days. Josh and his family came from Texas so we were all together. We got in late Friday night so first thing Saturday morning the children were ready for the pool. Let me clarify, first thing in the morning on Heslop time is 11:00!

I took the girls back in the afternoon while Isaiah slept and they had so much fun playing together. I found it completely luxurious to sit on a chair and read a magazine while they swam.

On Sunday we spent the entire afternoon at the pool. Isaiah just kept going and going and going. Anna and Brandi played catch with a frisbee for at least an hour. Isaiah managed to flip himself over backwards in his float and sank. Thankfully, I was in the water and right there to grab him. He was scared and I was a bit shaken. I held him for a couple minutes and he was ready to get back in.

By the end of the week, Aliza and Josiah taught  Anna to put her head underwater and she was so proud.

We ate supper at Rocco's Smokehouse Grill. Josh had a friend visiting so there were 16 in our party. Our kids had not been in a sit down restaurant since October. 
After supper it was time for some mini golf. We pretty much took over the course.
I got a hole in one on the first hole and led until the 8th hole. Jeremy kept score for a while, but it was Joel who knew exactly when I lost the lead. All the clubs were too short for Joel and he kept us laughing with his silliness. 
Brandi arrived while we were golfing. After golfing we had ice cream and hung out with Josh and Sarah. The kids ran around like crazies and it took a while for everyone to calm down enough to go to sleep!