Monday, September 29, 2008

Camping Events

Here are the highlights. I'll put a slide show of pics together later this week.

The Good:
The kids loved the camping experience. The camping traditions of roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, sleeping in a tent, and playing in the dirt kept them happy all weekend and begging for more. We had fun riding bikes and hiking around the campground. Hillman Ferry got a A- from us with its clean private showers, nice primitive campspots, a playground, and hike and bike trails adjacent to the campground. We found out when we arrived that we were there on the weekend of free admission to LBL attractions. We toured the Elk and Bison Prarie and the Nature Station for free! We stayed three nights and we all lived- all is well.

The Unfortunate:
Apparently there is a disruption in the Monarch migration this year. The LBL guides said that scientists are trying to determine the cause. No monarchs were found on our monarch butterfly tagging tour (nor on the one the day before). Other butterflies were "netted" and the kids had fun anyway.

Matthew tripped while walking in the dark with the flashlight and has a nasty bruise on his chin from his Dad's Maglite.

Several of the roads in the campground are gravel- hard for a little one on her tricycle and a kid with training wheels.

Our neighbors were a family of skunks, and we learned that we prefer raccoons to skunks.

The Bad:
We found our campsite abounding in bees. Katey was stung once and Carter was stung twice (scaring us because we feared a Masto reaction). Going camping miles away from a hospital with an expired epi-pen made me feel like a loser Mom so I am thankful for our answered prayers, benedryl, and a reaction free child!

Wading in the water in the swimming area prompted screaming from Katey. She told us something bit her, when we checked her we found it was a LEECH!!! Yikes! Obviously we waded no more. (Thus the - on the A- rating for the campground).

It was a fun weekend and a great getaway. We still need a bigger tent. Being a close family is something we want the kids to treasure, but sleeping like sardines is not what we have in mind.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gone Camping

We are camping at LBL for the weekend. Pictures to come... have a good weekend everyone!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just some thoughts

Its late and I need to go to bed so here are a few thoughts, minus the details from today. (Tim will be proud, he prefers the summarized version of my stories)

Give a child whipped topping on something and he is much more likely to consume it.
If I plan to eat it for breakfast, someone else will want it or have eaten it.
Division is hard. Playing the piano with proper form is harder. (both will get easier with practice- I promise!)
Give a toddler a glass of root beer and she will wear it.
Try to make a four year old share his gatorade and the van will wear it.
A DVD in the car makes a trip so much more enjoyable.
If you eat dinner early enough you can fit four full meals into a day and convince your mother to fix them for you.
Sometimes you have to get away so you can feel refreshed and ready for the next day and laugh at the one you just lived through.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Parables get real

The parables always mean more to me when they become tangible. This weekend we planted grass seed. (Phase 2 of 4 for the fall lawn/landscaping plan-we may not make it to phase 3 or 4- the first two have been a lot of work!) I now see the depth in the parable of the sower. I am a city girl. We've never grown crops. Tim had a garden at our old house, and it did great. Guess why? Good soil. We now have bad soil. Its not even soil really, its rocks and clay. Not so great for growing things. I now know the value of soil. We've scattered seed, but clearly it is not planted with in the best conditions. We fertilized, we raked, and we will water (generously). But we realize to get the grass to grow we really will need to have good soil brought in, till it into the existing hardpan that is our yard, and plant more seed. Tim thinks we will have to do it by zones, a little at a time. At this point we aren't shooting for perfection. We just want something green over the dirt. Yet as I look down at all that expensive seed I want it to grow- I want the 85% germination rate that the bag boasts about. However I know we won't get it- because we don't have all it takes. It made me think about "the soil" and the need to till in some good stuff in other places as well.

Other weekend events: our first piano lessons went well. Matthew and Laurel both learned quickly and are doing well. I am learning right along with them since I know absolutely nothing about piano! Matthew scored two goals in his soccer game on Saturday and Carter enjoyed it much more as it was a cooler day and he did not get overheated! Tonight brought some fellowship time at the Hale's home with a chili supper and wagon rides behind Mr. Matt's tractor. The kids loved the ride, and some of the men had tractor envy. A great time was had by all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The price of silence

Today was a key day in Matthew's phonics program. I needed his full attention and I needed the little ones occupied. This school year there is a no TV policy during the school day so no electronic babysitter is available after the young ones tire of "doing school" with us at the table. Finding ways to have them play without distracting the kids who are schooling has been a challenge. This time they were playing quietly together, so I was thankful and taught the lesson without stopping to check on them. After we finished I discovered the price of their silence. Two kids covered head to toe in marker (washable, thankfully), the puzzles tub emptied onto the floor, and all the train stuff dumped all over the room. In short, chaos was created in minutes and the result was two gleeful children. Off to the bath they went and afterward we picked up their mess. Everything worked out and the really important stuff stayed the focus, but I would have preferred to have found two children playing quietly with a toy instead of joyous chaos. There's always hope for tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

She escaped

The day before her planned release our friend, the toad, escaped. We aren't sure how, but she left her home on the deck sometime today. She went back to nature leaving a few sad children who "didn't get to say goodbye." I am proud that she survived her stay and that the children enjoyed checking on her at various times each day. They recovered quickly from their loss and began searching for a new friend.

It was strangely cool today and we all enjoyed some outside time. The kids spent their playtime picking up the yard after what was left of Ike passed through on Sunday. Lots of sticks kept the boys busy. After the heat of Saturday the cool was a welcome change!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Soccer

Soccer and today it was 94 degrees. The heat made it not as much fun as we would like, but we are looking forward to fall and more soccer fun. Here's some photos: video

So far the weekend has included lots of activities. Friday night was Parent's Night Out at church and we enjoyed some "grown up" fun at the Mehr's home. Today was family weekend at MSU, the ice cream festival, soccer and Tim and I had a date!! A dinner related to his Germany trip was cancelled so we went to Gloria's for dinner, Walmart (our favorite date locale) and some of the MSU football game. I think the ice cream festival ranked #1 for the day on the kids' list. They picked rainbow sherbert as their favorite ice cream- over "Death by Chocolate" and "Cookie Dough"??? -- clearly taste preferences aren't genetic.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sometimes there's just too much to do

We are blessed to be in a place with lots for the kids to do and to have the means to be able to do some of it. Its hard to choose what to involve the kids in. They enjoy a variety of things and would happily participate in whatever we would allow, but the more we are away from home, the crazier life at home gets. Right now we are playing soccer. Its three days a week and it feels like our life revolves around it (yes, I hope for a practice or two to be rained out!). In the last week we have had opportunities to get involved in Tae Bo, piano, 4-H, boy scouts, brownies, and an art class. For now the piano is the only thing we have chosen to add into our routine (on Saturday- before soccer). The rest will have to wait for now, but there is some guilt associated with not letting them participate. They all are great activities and several of them are things we really want to do but we have to find some balance. Its hard to know when to say no and when to say yes. Are we passing up great opportunities or picking the wrong thing? The constant questions are a part of being a parent, I guess.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We have company

We have a guest. She (we think) will be with us for a week. Today the kids captured, literally, a toad. A female Fowler's Toad to be exact-yes, we made it part of school and did research. They want to keep her as a pet. I told them "God made animals to live in nature, not with us"- they didn't agree. I pointed out the likelihood of her demise left to their care and they promised a luxurious life that given the ability to communicate the toad would gladly choose of her own will. I was having little success. Frankly, doing research didn't help matters as I read about the joys one man recalled of his boyhood days and catching frogs. During quiet time I called Tim. I warned him of the campaign ongoing in our house. He suggested we allow her to visit for the week and then return to her home in the backyard. So that's the plan, everyone agreed. Here is a photo of the kids watching over our friend in her 5 star bucket abode.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

LANDSCAPING!!!!!

One year ago:Tonight:

We have landscaping. Tim had no weekend break, but he has a happy wife. We worked all day both Saturday and Sunday-other than time for our first soccer games and church. It was hard work and we are worn out, but wanted to share a photo of our efforts (sorry its hard to see- it was nearly dark when we finished).
Soccer results: Laurel and Matthew both scored goals in their games, and had a great time. It was a little hot for Carter so he tired quickly, but he played hard, got in some good kicks, and learned how to move the ball. We are looking forward to some cooler weather games so that he will have more fun. We have to give kudos to their coaches who ran around with them in the heat to teach and encourage. Talk about a workout! Don't even ask about the camera.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Soybean Festival

Free BBQ, friends, and fun- it adds up to a worthwhile drive back to Martin. We went back to Tennessee this afternoon to visit with friends and go to the annual Soybean Festival. For those unfamiliar with the event here's the scoop: basically the entire town turns out for free BBQ and festival style fun in downtown Martin. Its cheesy, the rides expensive, and there's lots of junk for sale, but its small town life and a highlight of the fall when we lived there. We just couldn't miss it this year-we are only an hour away. It was great to walk around and see friends again and say hello. We really had a good time and the weather was cool and perfect for being outside. The kids enjoyed being back in Martin and seeing familiar things. The McDonoughs even bought them dippin' dots- so of course it was an evening to remember! While there Tim was happy to learn that the greenway project (something he was very involved in) is making significant progress and hopefully one day we will be able to go back and visit and walk along the trail! And yes, once again, I had no camera. When Katey and Carter were riding the kiddie carousel together-by themselves-I could have kicked myself, so you'll just have to trust me that it was cute. Maybe I should just keep the camera in the van!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cleaning too often?

Warning to my mother: prepare yourself. We have wood floors throughout a lot of our home. The entire main level has them, and that includes the kitchen. I really like it, but it has been a challenge keeping the floor in the kitchen clean with the children. I clean them every week or so to remove all the sticky spots, dirt, and whatever else is left after daily (at least) sweeping. Lately they have been cloudly looking. I did some research and found out that I was cleaning them too often. You have to understand that I am the last person to be accused of "over cleaning!" I try not to let it get too bad, but in truth we aim for sanitary around here. My Mom keeps an extremely neat house, I wish I could keep up, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. So after I got over the shock of my "over cleaning" status I tried to find out what to do to fix our floor. I spent yesterday afternoon scrubbing the floors removing the built up cleaner. They look better. In the long run we'll save money- the floor cleaner I used was expensive. Now its spot cleaning only and sweeping. The kids are going to have to work on eating neatly! I find it funny that for once caring for something in the house will actually require less work!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fairness

The subject of discussion in our house lately. "That's not FAIR" is a common statement in our house. Some things are, some are not. It's life. We try to keep things fair, but sometimes it just isn't. Usually in those cases we just explain and move on. Not yesterday. I had to side with the "that's not FAIR" group because I was one of them. The boys and Daddy went disc golfing and the girls and Mommy stayed home. Tim wanted time with the boys alone. I understood, explained it to Laurel and we did "girly" things. Then the boys came home. They disc golfed, ate Subway, and went to Dairy Queen. The Subway thing was okay, the girls had lunch, but going DQ and bringing home nothing- NO FAIR!! So at 7:00 last night the girls and I went to DQ. A trip to town with no other purpose, so wasteful, but we wanted in on the fun, too!! All progress made on the fairness principle has now been lost. Oh well, my blizzard was good and Laurel learned that you can't eat an ice cream sandwich with no front teeth!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Time for a change

This has been a weekend of decisions. The first was made by our good friends, the Crabb family, who have decided to move to Iowa. We have a lot in common and have become close since our arrival here and we will be sad to see them go. Hopefully we can enjoy some good times before they leave. Coming on the heels of the Shideler's departure it seems the kids are seeing their friends leave at an alarming rate!

The other major decision is that we are changing our homeschool curriculum. Those of you who homeschool know what a big deal this is after only 31 days of school. Despite the expense and my reluctance to turn away from what I had planned to do, after prayer and discussion with Tim we have decided that we have to change what we are using for school. We are going with the curriculum we had planned to use next year. Hopefully the change will work better for everyone and help make our school a place in which kids love to learn and I can feel I am giving them what they need. It will make things easier for me as the new materials do a lot of the prep work for me!

Big decisions, family day at the park with church (thanks to Roy and Angie), and a garage that has been cleaned out- that was our weekend thus far. Its no wonder we were exhausted yesterday!