Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wrapping Up June

I started writing this at the beginning of July and then got side-tracked, and the window got closed, and I forgot that I hadn't finished it so now it's the middle of July, oh well . . .
How is it July already? It seems like June just started! We started our summer by going to Lititz (a nearby town) to visit our favorite book store, go to the farmers market, feed the ducks (if you look close at the picture you'll see the baby ducks in the grass), and eat ice cream :)
I snapped the picture of Joy on Little Bit's loft one night at bedtime. He often sleeps up there with her, and sometimes goes and wakes her up in the morning. One morning she said he wouldn't let her get to the ladder, so "trapped" her up there with him for awhile. 
And while we're sharing cute pictures of Little Bit and our critters. Both Tracy (pictured) and Mi'Lady (the other black cat). Like to lick Little Bit's face. Maybe she should wash it better after lunch LOL. Or maybe they just think she's a kitten who needs to be groomed :) Tracy is a sweet, friendly, cat, but ever since she had kittens last summer (and maybe before? I don't remember when it started, I know I was hoping that getting her spayed (after kittens) would solve it) she's insisted on peeing everywhere BUT the litter box. She likes to pee on fabric . . . so any clothes on the floor, the bathroom bath mat, etc. . . also shoes apparently are close enough, because the last straw was when she started repeatedly peeing on our shoes by the back door URGH!!! And then, we were leaving for a week for campmeeting. I told the girls that Tracy was going to HAVE to live outside, at least while we were gone. Rodney wouldn't be home enough to notice, or clean up, any cat pee and I didn't want to come home to week-old cat pee who knows where. . . So we put her outside with food & water for her on the porch. And headed to Campmeeting.

Lexie and Ashlyn divided their time between their class (which included tubing, and attempting to waterski at the lake, listening to mission stories from Papua New Guinea, and playing games) and helping in Kindergarten (age 4-6) and the craft tent for ages 7-12. Little Bit was disappointed that most of her afternoon activities were off-site, and I wasn't comfortable with allowing her to go off-site with the supervision and organization I had observed, but I think it worked out, even with skipping most of the afternoon activities, she was pretty exhausted by the end of the week. We have always put a priority on keeping downtime in our schedule, so our kids don't handle the constant stimulation that is the norm for many families in our current culture. Being able to just hang out with me and read stories, or paint or draw, gave her some downtime between the morning activities and the evening meetings. I remember observing the same thing with Lexie and Ashlyn at this age. It's just too much . . . even though they aren't actually getting to bed much, if any, later than they normally do, we normally start "winding down" by 8pm, and have a nice long storytime each evening. When they get back from meeting at close to 9pm, they're wound up and we don't have that nice, gradual, wind down to our day. Anyway . . . I didn't take any pictures during campmeeting, but linked to a couple pictures from Facebook that have my kids in them :) 

Also during campmeeting, my Dad helped us replace one of our garage doors. The bottom was rotting, so it needed to be replaced. So now we have one green door (old one) and one white door, but at least critters can't get in through the hole in the bottom of the door :) At some point we'll replace the other one so they match again :)

I figured, with the garage wide open while we were installing the new garage door, that Tracy would sneak back in. But apparently she's accepted her fate as an outdoor cat. She looked like she was considering coming in a few times, but never did (and certainly COULD have snuck in easily enough). And, since we've come home, while she's happy to have us come out and love on her (the morning that the weather was nice enough that I drank my coffee on the front porch, she happily came and rubbed around under and on my feet the whole time I was out there), and sometimes looks longingly in the door when we come out or go in, she hasn't even tried to sneak in. I think, since we have another extended trip planned this fall, we'll just stick with her being an outdoor cat at least until after that trip, and then may try again and see how she does, so she's not stuck outside in the cold this winter. . .

Ever since Lexie and Ashlyn turned 13, we've talked about getting them their own checking accounts (our bank offers a teen account) so they would have a debit card available when they go places without us. So, the money they received for helping at campmeeting was the incentive we needed to finally do that. While we were at the bank, there was a tornado warning, which freaked Little Bit out, but since it didn't even look stormy where we were, we just kept a close eye on the radar maps, and finished what we were doing, then headed home. The tornado warning had expired by the time we got home (and we still had blue skies), but we did get some good thunderstorms later that afternoon.

Lexie and Ashlyn "graduated" from 8th grade this fall. When I asked if they wanted a graduation or party or something, they had no interest but when I asked if they wanted to go out to eat to celebrate, they thought that sounded like a good idea. After much discussion, they had narrowed it down to The Melting Pot and Cheesecake Factory. We decided that, since if they weren't twins, they'd each get their own graduation meal, we should do two graduation meals this year. I'm pretty sure Little Bit is too young to enjoy the "experience" of The Melting Pot so arranged for her to have a playdate with a friend while we took the big girls. Got there, sat down, ordered, and . . . they came and said they had smoke pouring out of a vent in the back and were going to have to evacuate the restaurant. Sigh . . . We decided to wait and see if they re-opened after the firetrucks came to see what was wrong (and as it turned out, the firetruck blocked our car in, so we were stuck even if we hadn't been planning to stay), but they determined that the storms earlier in the day (the same ones that scared Little Bit at the bank, but apparently they were worse in Harrisburg) had messed up their electrical system, so they didn't re-open and we had to go to Qdoba for supper instead. I tried to convince the girls that it still counted, since there was cheese to dip the chips in, but they are insisting that we still "owe" them a trip to The Melting Pot LOL.

Apparently we are becoming more "known" as the dog watcher family. When one of Rodney's coworkers needed to make a last minute trip, he remembered hearing that our girls like to watch dogs, so called Rodney and asked if, by any chance, we could watch their dog.  She's TINY which Little Bit liked, because she could handle her on the leash to take her out by herself. And she's a cuddle bug, so we all enjoyed cuddling her.

As usual, our cats stayed out of sight, though a few times Moccasin poked his head out, and Tara growled at him and he ran way. Which I found amusing since Moc is probably twice her size LOL. Figured it was just as well that he was afraid of her, rather than thinking she might be "prey" :)

One of the things Lexie and Ashlyn love about church is helping in the 0-6 year old class and getting to steal help out by snuggling the babies. When I saw them both holding babies after church one week, I had to snap a picture, even though the babies were both fussy (that's why B looks like Lexie's squeezing him too tightly LOL.

Ever since mid May, we've been trying to figure out and visit our friends Tom and Charity and meet their sweet new baby girl! But campmeeting and such got in the way, and then I had a cold . . . but FINALLY we got over there! A dog, a baby, and a toddler (who didn't make the picture)! What more can you ask for?!
They are also hosting a 13 yr old from the Ukraine for the summer. She doesn't speak English (Google Translate is a very useful thing!), but that didn't keep all 4 girls from having fun playing Uno. No need to speak the same language :) (bonus, since all the girls were busy playing their game, *I* actually got to snuggle the baby for a little while, woo-hoo!)
Once the Uno games were over, we all headed to Oley Turnpike Dairy's petting zoo! As a fun bonus, since it's only a few miles from our old house (and loading an 8 yr old and two 14 yr olds into a car is much faster than loading a baby, a toddler, and a teenager, so we left ahead of them), the girls and I detoured by our old house. . . they removed the gazebo :( If I'd known they weren't going to keep it, I'd have taken the (in better repair than the one we have) porch swing for our porch now, sigh! Ashlyn was excited to see a big dog pen in the back yard, and was wishing we still lived nearby to go meet their dogs LOL.  
The petting zoo was fun. It's been awhile since we've been there, and now they sell bags of dog food (or something similar) to feed the animals instead of crackers. At first V wasn't sure what she was supposed to do with the pet food, but by the end she figured it out and all three teenagers had fun feeding the baby goats :) 
I'll finish off my June Wrap-up with a picture of Ashlyn with one of "her dogs". We went to visit Maggie and her family. I'm not sure who was happier to see who, Maggie to see Ashlyn or Ashlyn to see Maggie :) 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wrapping up May

After our whirlwind of field trips in Maryland, we headed home. . . and continued to stay busy :) A few days after we got home, we went to Hopewell Furnace. They offer a free field trip for school (and home school) groups in grades 3 and up where they take the kids on a tour of the park, explaining how the cast iron was made then they let the kids make their own sand molds of a model of the stove doors that were made there. The ranger pours plaster of paris in the molds and the kids get to take home their own casting! We had a good sized group from our homeschool coop join us for this field trip. Little Bit isn't in 3rd grade yet and her bff in the homeschool group was also there with her younger brothers so their mom and I took the younger kids on their own "tour", and did the Junior Ranger with them.  
The highlight, however, were some caterpillars they found. By the end of the Junior Ranger, Little Bit and B had collected 6 or 7 caterpillars and decided to create a "caterpillar hotel" in a tree near the visitor center.  In the end, those silly caterpillars kept them occupied for most of the 2+ hours that the big kids were busy on their field trip! Since I was with Little Bit, I didn't get to actually see the big kid field trip, but Lexie & Ashlyn said it was interesting. I'm hoping to organize another group in a couple years when Little Bit is old enough to participate as well :) 
Ashlyn finished up a subscription to a ArtAchieve at the beginning of May, so is doing her own thing for art now. At the moment, she's having fun making jewelry with oven baked clay. She made coffee bean earrings for herself, Lexie, and me a few months ago. And made Little Bit a penguin bead to try out some other techniques, but her "big" project was a TARDIS necklace. She did tons of research to figure out what techniques to use to get the look she wanted, and it was a multi-step process, but the end result is pretty cool! So far Lexie hasn't convinced her to make her one though, she says it was too much work :) 
Meanwhile, Little Bit finished the finger knit jump rope she'd been working on. Unfortunately, despite following the directions for determining the length, it was way too short. We may try again at some point, but for now, we moved on to some hand-stitching. With campmeeting coming up soon, and our plans to take a long motorhome trip this fall, I liked the idea of having a pouch to keep her block and stick crayons in. So she chose some felt she liked, and she hand-stitched it into a crayon pouch. I'm so tickled with how well it turned out and she's been having fun being able to carry her crayons around :) 
May is the start of park days with our homeschool co-op. We attended some last summer but since we only knew a couple people, and not everyone comes every week, my girls hesitated to join in the group games. Now that they know most of the kids they have no such qualms. One of the main games is "sword fights". A couple of the kids have a whole arsenal of foam swords/weapons and are willing to share, so all the kids get in on it. I love that everyone from the teenagers to the preschoolers get to participate! Once my girls had played a couple weeks and had determined they want to continue, they made their own "weapons" with pool noodles, pvc pipe and duct tape :) 

We got to dog sit one of "our dogs" for a week while his family was out of town. Always love having a Cavalier King Charles around again. And he's sweet as can be! In general he's more lovey with the girls and me, and ignores Rodney, but  he was very certain that Rodney should share his chicken with him :) 

One Saturday afternoon each month during the school year, a group of us from church goes to the Boys and Girls Club downtown and play games in the gym and do a craft with the kids. May's craft was string art. The kids LOVED it!Some of the crafts they rush through and want to go back up to the gym, but this one even the boys asked if they could do a second one. Little Bit had fun with it too :)

Lexie and Ashlyn take turns teaching in the 0-3 yr old class at church so they get to be friends with all the little ones at church. After church last week Lexie was "helping out" by hanging out with one of her buddies while his mommy was busy, and I managed to snap this picture, isn't he a sweetie!

This past week, Lexie and Ashlyn spent a couple days helping with a project at Rodney's office (photocopying and putting packets together and such), so Little Bit and I got to hang out together.

Recently Little Bit has gotten very into looking up bugs, plants etc. to learn more about them. She had started carrying around a whole stack of field guides in her backpack so when I needed to order an "add on" item from Amazon, and therefore needed to order something else to get up to $25, I took the opportunity to order her a combination field guide for our area. She's been having a blast finding things to look up and had to get a new purse at Goodwill that was just the right size to carry her book with her everywhere she goes :) In this picture she was looking up some bug she'd found on the railing, and glaring at me for taking her picture LOL.

One of the days that Lexie and Ashlyn were at work with Daddy, she spent the better part of the morning sculpting things with clay (Ashlyn's current interest in making the baked clay jewelry has sparked Little Bit's interest in sculpting as well. Her most elaborate sculpture that day was a gnome.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May Field Trips

As I mentioned in my last post, we did a BUNCH of field trips, back-to-back.

Day 1:  Gettysburg and Eisenhower Farm
We had hoped to do both in one day, but ended up only doing Eisenhower Farm (but you have to park at Gettysburg and take a bus from there to get to Eisenhower Farm. It was a gorgeous day! When we got off the bus we were met by the tour guide and had to jump straight into the guided tour. Given the choice, I would have preferred to go to the visitor center first and gotten the girls' "Junior Secret Service Agent" books, watched the video, etc. But . . . there was no choice, so we went with it. It amused me that both Little Bit and Lexie asked questions that the tour guide couldn't answer . . . After we finished the tour, we got the girls' "Junior Secret Service Agent" books and they got busy. It was a pretty cool program, but nobody at the site seemed to really want to answer their questions or help them. And, of course, it would have been much more efficient if they could have been watching/listening for answers DURING the tour. So it ended up taking all afternoon, but at least it was a pretty day to hang out on a farm :) 
Even though we didn't have time to do the Gettysburg driving tour, or Junior Ranger, since the bus left from (and returned to) the Gettysburg Visitor Center, we snapped a picture of Little Bit with Abraham Lincoln, outside the visitor center :) 
Day 2: Washington DC - Ford's Theatre and the Library of Congress
The next day we took Metro into Washington DC. Dad wanted to get the newest state quarter, so we tagged along, but did more fun things than buying quarters :)  First we went to Ford's Theatre. Lexie and Ashlyn did that Junior Ranger several years ago, but Little Bit hadn't, so she (and my mom) did their Junior Ranger. There were some school groups there so it was pretty crowded, but still interesting. 
Thomas Jefferson's Library
Then we headed to the Library of Congress. I'm not sure how, but we'd never managed to stop there on all our visits to DC. We will DEFINITELY be going back! We opted to just wander around on our own, rather than take a guided tour. The only bad side of that was, at one point, my Dad had asked the employee in the room a question and we were all listening to the answer and the rest of us were told we had to "move on" because a tour group was coming. 

After looking at the Gutenberg Bible, and a similar-age, hand-written Bible, and the unknown room we were told to leave (at the time we were told to leave, I was waiting for the employee to finish answering Dad's question so that I could ask what the significance of the room was, since it wasn't labeled. But I didn't get the chance), we headed upstairs. There was a docent there with a display showing how the building was built.  He grabbed Little Bit's attention effectively by telling her, as we walked up, that the building was "like an Oreo cookie" (it's a brick building with granite overlay on the outside and marble overlay on the inside). He proceeded to explain that and then answer questions. In addition to the information on how the building was built, he had tons of information about all kinds of things. He showed us the "stories" of the murals on the ceilings in the area we were, and also gave us information about the ceiling murals in the Main Reading Room. He told us about Thomas Jefferson's library (pictured above) and how it came to be donated to the Library of Congress. . . he did an excellent job answering the girls' questions in easy-to-understand, but informative ways. It was awesome! 

Once we left him we visited some more of the exhibits, before heading to the "Young Reader's Room". By the time we got there, it was near closing time but we had time for Little Bit to find the Elephant & Piggie toys, and look at some books. Lexie and Ashlyn browsed the teen section for awhile before they kicked us out :) There was still more to see, we plan to go back next time we're in DC!
Day 3: Wheaton Park and Brookside Gardens

 The next day we planned to go see the live butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens. The 18th Century Market Fair had inspired Lexie to research making 18th century clothes, and she'd been researching authentic fabrics to use. Since there's a  big fabric store near Brookside, we stopped there on our way down and Lexie happily browsed until we told her it was time to go :) She claims to hate shopping but forgets that if there are books or fabric involved :)  When we left G Street Fabric, it was near lunchtime. So we decided to go to Wheaton Park so Little Bit could play on the playground and we could eat our picnic lunch.  I'm not sure we'd been to Wheaton Park since we moved away from MD when Lexie and Ashlyn were 5. They've completely re-done the playground, and it's just as cool as before. Even Lexie and Ashlyn enjoyed playing on it (though they didn't want pictures taken!)

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of Lexie reading WHILE swinging though LOL.

After playing and eating lunch, Mom and the girls and I walked through the gardens at Brookside to the greenhouse (Dad drove around so we wouldn't have to walk all the way back). As we walked through the gardens, we noticed someone waving to us, and some friends from home, who are in the process of moving to Maryland, were there! They had come to see the butterflies, and then were eating their picnic in the gardens. So we stopped and visited with them for a few minutes before heading on to the Greenhouse where the butterflies are.

It was pretty much perfect weather for visiting the butterflies. When it's hot, the butterflies (mostly tropical varieties) love it and are active but it's miserable for people because it's so hot. When it's chilly, the butterflies are too cold and aren't active. We managed to hit a day where it was cool enough to be comfortable for people, but warm enough that the butterflies were active. Little Bit is finally old enough to get into it, and spent her time asking the volunteers questions and using the magnifying glass they provided to check out the butterflies up close. The big girls and I found a comfortable bench and just enjoyed watching the butterflies fly around and land near (and on) us. Lexie is never without her book, so she was reading part of the time, and a friendly butterfly stopped by to see what she was reading :)

Day 4: South Mountain Creamery
One of the things the girls had said they for sure wanted to do while we were in Maryland was go to South Mountain Creamery to feed the calves. Even though we drove by it (more or less) every day, we never managed to be in the area at calf feeding time, so the next day we just went to feed the calves. Got there a bit early, and ate ice cream (yum! Though they didn't have the mocha flavor that Ashlyn was hoping for). And then, even though it was still a half hour till feeding time, we went to visit the calves. They figured if people were there, they should be fed, so they were very "friendly" hoping for food. Since there was no food yet, they settled for having their ears scratched and generally being loved on until feeding time. Lexie's favorite was one with long white eyelashes. 
Little Bit's favorite was one she named "Droopy" because she said it's ears were droopy.  It happily chewed on her shirt while she petted it until the milk bottles got there, and then she got to feed "her calf" :) She has since re-named her stuffed cow "Droopy" and drawn countless pictures of "Droopy the calf" :)   Once all the calves were fed, we made a quick stop back by the store to get chocolate milk and headed home. Little Bit didn't remember the chocolate milk from previous visits, so when we got home and I poured her a glass her eyes got big and she declared it SOOOO GOOOD!!! Yes, yes it is!!! Later, as Lexie was drinking a glass, she commented that it's "so creamy" and Little Bit gave her a disgusted look and said "Well it IS called South Mountain CREAMERY!" I was amused.
Day 5: Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
Our final field trip of the trip was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Most years it's beastly hot there but this year it was almost COLD. We figured the vendors didn't mind, it was probably easier to sell all the gorgeous wool shawls and such with cooler temperatures :) We enjoyed wandering through all the vendor areas, stocked up on wool for felting projects this next year, watched the sheep shearing and sheep dog exhibitions, and petted lots of sheep, and rabbits, and alpaca.  We were amused that, in one barn, there were sheepskins hanging on the side of the pen where the sheep were. Seemed a bit twisted to have the skins of their "friends" hanging on the side of their pen LOL. 

And that was our busy first week of May! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Field Trips

As I mentioned in my last post, we finished up April with back-to-back field trips.

Wednesday we went to Indian Echo Caverns with our homeschool group. It was awesome! The caverns are beautiful! My camera was giving me fits, so I only managed to get one or two pictures, and it doesn't do the cave justice, but it was very cool! The tour was interesting, and the kids had fun learning about the cave, and spending time with friends. After the tour, we ate the picnic lunches we had brought and all the kids (from preschoolers through teenagers) played on the playground and eventually they were all participating in a huge game of tag. So fun!

We left straight from the caverns to go to my parents' house so that, on Thursday we could go to Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. My zoo membership expired the end of April, so we wanted to sneak in one last zoo before it expired. The "nests" at Maryland Zoo have been a favorite photo spot since the big girls were little, but now only Little Bit will humor me :)

The real reason we made sure to go to this particular zoo was the baby giraffe! When we got there, the parking lot was more than twice as full as I've ever seen it! (granted, we try to make a point of going on not-busy days, apparently a Thursday in late April doesn't fit that category, who knew!). I was concerned that, with so many people, the giraffe house would be mobbed and/or closed because the baby needed a break. But we ended up, rather randomly, choosing to do the "other half" of the zoo first, then ate lunch and THEN headed to the African animal area.

By then the school groups, and many of the other people had cleared out (and/or were in the section we went to first), and there were only a couple other families in the giraffe house when we got there. The baby giraffe, in addition to be adorable (of course), is a complete natural at this zoo thing! The entire time we were there she stayed right in front of the windows, and often right up AGAINST the windows, seeming to pose for pictures! Little Bit was over the moon!

Friday, we headed to the 18th Century Market Fair at Fort Frederick. It was HOT, and we all got a little sun burned, but it was sooo fun!! I'd been wanting to go for several years but had never figured out the logistics to actually be in Maryland for it. This year it worked out! And I think it's going to be a priority most years from now on. The "living history demonstrations" in the fort itself weren't as impressive as I'd have expected . . . the barracks were open, but not that much more than normally, and there was a musket shooting demo while we were there but we're not nearly as interested in guns as we are in the rest of history. BUT there were tons of "sutlers" (vendors) all over the grounds. The rules are pretty strict to make sure that the vendors are historically accurate, which means there's tons of really cool stuff to see AND all (or at least most) of the vendors are true history nerds!

By the well inside the fort.
We spent probably an hour talking to a woman who makes 18th century clothes by spinning and dying her own wool, weaving it into cloth, and hand-sewing it into period clothing. It was fascinating! The other vendor we spent a LONG time talking to was a "blanket historian". He has spent years studying a specific type of 18th century woolen blanket known as "rose blankets" (they have an embroidered design on the corners that looks similar to a compass rose). He not only taught us TONS about the blankets, but told the girls that if they're interested in history, the key is to "specialize" in something nobody else cares about. Because if you go into a museum and ask to see something that ALL historians want to see, the curator's not likely to let you, but if you go in and ask to see something that's shoved in a back room being ignored, they're likely to turn you lose in that back room, happy that SOMEONE cares about it. He said he's gotten to dig through cabinets full of blankets at museums from tiny little ones to the Smithsonian. We probably talked to him for 45 min. or more and could easily have stayed longer if we hadn't wanted to see the rest of the vendors before we left.
Some of the sutlers' tents as seen from the wall of the fort.

The day re-inspired the girls' interest in making colonial costumes and they're busy researching how to make stays, and historically accurate costumes. We figure, even if it's a couple years before we make it back to Williamsburg, we should be able to make it back to the Fort Frederick Market Fair every year so they can wear their costumes there :)

The last couple days of April were quieter, and in a few days I'll have another post with our "early May field trips" :)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wrapping Up Most of April

We've started into one of our marathons of field trips, so I decided, before we get into that, to go ahead and wrap up most of April, and then another post (or two) about all the field trips.

We started April by celebrating the girls' birthdays with the grandparents. Which I, apparently, didn't take any pictures of.

For school, Little Bit and I are learning about "form drawing", a pre-writing skill (that grows into some rather complex drawing skills as children get older) taught in Waldorf curriculum. To help practice the form before writing it in her book, she draws it on the sidewalk with chalk.

Then, after I've smoothed out the form, if needed, she practices walking the form, using movement to help her brain remember it better :)

Another event that I didn't get any pictures of was the little birthday party Little Bit begged me to do. In general, we keep birthdays simple, and family-centered, but this year she begged to invite a couple friends over for a party. She argued that we could do an "American Girl party" that was the same as what we do for co-op each month. So I gave in. And then I was sick on her birthday, and had to postpone it. So finally, 2 weeks later, we had a fun little party for her and 2 of her friends. They made glass paperweights, and Lexie made petit fours that they ate with ice cream and lemonade. Then they played outside, and with their dolls.

With spring finally here, we met friends at a nearby (ish) zoo! There's a playground at the zoo, so all the kids convinced Lexie to push them on the merry-go-round and generally took a break from animals to play.

The zoo doesn't have giraffes yet, but they're working on building a place for them, and taking donations to be able to get them, so Little Bit had to pose as a baby giraffe. We enjoyed the animals that were there, ate our picnic lunch, and then the kids spent an hour or more pretending to be wolves at the "wolf den" (rock overhang for kids to play on), and rolling down a grassy hill while us moms (and teens) got to visit.  It was a pretty awesome day!

There's a store near us called "Art of Recycle" that sells recycled junk as art supplies, and also has various workshops and classes. Recently they had a "miniature fairy garden class" that the girls thought sounded fun, so all 3 of them went to it. It was really cool. For $5 each, they got to choose a teacup (or similar) with a succulent in it, and some small "toys" as props and some sea glass/marbles/rocks etc for additional decorations. Then at each table there was additional plants and dirt and water.

Each of their little fairy gardens turned out different, reflecting their different interests, but all 3 are really cute. I should have thought to take pictures of the final products.

We've been enjoying lots of park days while the weather's nice. One of the parks near us has lots of paved paths right near the playground, so I can sit on a bench and read while Little Bit rides her scooter on the paths and plays on the playground. Ashlyn can sit on the bench and watch for people to walk by with their dogs :) Lexie can read her book, or swing on the swings, because even big kids like swings, and that park has some swings that are tall enough to be worth swinging on.

Now that Lexie finished making the pioneer  doll dresses for Little Bit for her birthday, I thought maybe she'd sew some wipes I've been wanting done. I cut them out for her, and left them for her to do. I heard the sewing machine going and thought she might be working on them, but no . . . a little while later, she came down and showed off the doll dress she'd made. Rather than just making one she had a pattern for, she'd taken pieces of various patterns and put them together to come up with this dress. I had fun giving her a hard time about making a doll dress instead of the wipes I asked her to make. Her response was that sewing plain squares are boring :)

When Little Bit was younger, she watched quite a bit of "tv" but it was mostly things like Wild Kratts and Martha Speaks and other shows that were teaching her something. As she's gotten older, she's tended to prefer less educational things, which means I'd prefer she watch it less. So a couple weeks ago I made up a system (putting together 2 or 3 different ideas I saw online and then tweaking them) where she earns "jewels" (the little flat marble things that we seem to have millions of) for doing the things she's required to do anyway, like feeding the cats and putting her toys away, and also for doing things I'd rather she do instead of watching tv. Like playing outside or "creating" (drawing, painting, etc), provided she cleans up after herself when she creates. Then the idea was she could use those jewels to "buy" tv time. The one exception being, if the whole family is watching tv she can either watch what we're watching, or watch something she'd rather watch on her tablet. That was the system as I designed it. When I presented the idea to her, I also pulled a small mug out of the cabinet for her to keep her jewels in until she used them to buy tv. I was fully expecting her to pretty much "spend" the jewels as quickly as she earned them. . . She asked what would happen if she filled the cup? Could she have a "second date" (each month each of the girls gets to choose to go on a "date" with either their daddy or me. Little Bit generally goes for instant gratification and the first time we're anywhere near Auntie Anne's pretzels or an ice cream place, she decides that's what she wants for her date. Then she spends the rest of the month planning elaborate things that will be her next month's "date"). I said sure! Still didn't really think she'd be willing to give up tv enough to fill the cup, and figured if she was willing to do that, I'm more than happy to buy her an ice cream cone or pretzel to help her break the tv habit. Ummm . . . I think she only "bought" 2 or 3 shows since then! She still gets to watch tv in the car (but that's usually What's in the Bible or Friends & Heroes). She started asking for audiobooks a lot more. . . and the commented that she wished there was a way she could listen to stories while she played with dolls in her room, so I set up my tablet so that she could listen to audiobooks on it, and once she could do that, she's been perfectly happy to listen to librivox audiobooks instead of watching tv. It's meant I've spent more time reading to her, and on the nice days she gets me to go sit on the porch swing while she plays in the yard.

One afternoon she brought her paints out to the front porch and painted the Mary, Joseph & Donkey who are traveling to Bethlehem for the 40 days of counting the Omer.

It's been great and she doesn't seem to miss watching tv in the least. Within a few days she had filled the cup to the top and we stopped for pretzels the next time we were near Auntie Anne's. Since then, she hasn't even bothered to collect her jewels. I'm still a bit in shock at how simple it was to break the tv habit!

And that gets us caught up to the middle of last week, which is when I STARTED writing this post. The rest of the month, is pretty much back-to-back field trips, so those will get their own post :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Math Gnomes

I mentioned in my last post, that we've moving toward a more Waldorf approach with Little Bit and that it was doing a unit on Math Gnomes that got me started thinking about it. So I thought, today, I'd share about the Math Gnome unit we did. I roughly followed the first grade math blocks from Ancient Hearth.

Since Little Bit already knows how to count, I did a quick "intro"/summary of the first block. We only spent a week or so on it, I just wanted her to become familiar with Roman Numerals. So, I set up the entryway shelves to be a forest scene. 

The 2 children follow a squirrel through the woods to the big green tree, where the squirrel disappears down a hole at the base of the tree. The children follow the squirrel and find themselves in a pinecone forest . . . 

They follow the squirrel through this forest until they find a fairy guarding a cave door. She tells them that if they learn the "secret of numbers" it will open the cave door and allow them to enter the Land of Numeria. 

The secret of numbers was the Roman Numerals 1-10. I used glitter glue to write the 1 I on a piece of cardstock and "hid" it in the bottom of the plastic container of salt/glitter that we use to trace letters/numbers/forms, etc.  You can see the container (red lid) on the shelf under the pinecone forest along with the white shell the fairy gave the children to dig in the glitter sand. Once she found the glitter numbers she copied them into her school notebook, then we did the same with  2 II and so on up to 10 X. Once she'd learned these numbers the fairy gave her some little black stones with regular numbers and Roman Numerals on them (I bought small black rocks at the craft store and wrote the numbers on them with a silver Sharpie). Her job was to match the regular numbers to their corresponding Roman Numeral in order to unlock the cave.  Once she did, she (and the peg children) discovered the Land of Numeria . . . This begins the second Math Block on the Ancient Hearth site.

I set up the land of Numeria on the cedar chest/coffee table in the sunroom. It was covered by playsilks until she unlocked it. When the children entered the land of Numeria they met a wolf who would guide them through the land of Numeria. They traveled through the land and met "Gnome Share". He taught them how to share things equally (otherwise known as division). Gnome Share gave the children a treasure chest full of jewels so Little Bit had to help the children divide the jewels equally between the 2 children and the wolf.  

After Little Bit divided the jewels evenly. Gnome Share gave her a plate of strawberries (red like he is) to divide evenly between her, her sisters, and me.

We spent the rest of that week dividing other red snacks, and practicing dividing the jewels more and such.

The next week, Little Bit woke up to a new part of Numeria on the cedar chest.

Gnome Share traveled with the children and wolf through more of Numeria until they discovered Gnome Plus. We spent the week playing with addition, and eating green snacks.

The 3rd week's journey through Numeria took introduced us to Gnome Minus Takeaway who had, unfortunately lost the shepherd boy's sheep. The wolf called his friend, the Collie to help them track down the sheep. But first we spent week 3 learning about subtraction, and eating blue snacks.

The final week, the collie led us to a different part of Numeria, where it was snowy.

We met Gnome Multiply and he helped the shepherd boy find his sheep, hidden in the snow (Ashlyn painted the sheep & collie for me, aren't they cute?). And 4 lost sheep had multiplied into 6 sheep (2 lambs)! 

 We spent the week learning about multiplication and eating yellow snacks!

Also each week I draw a gnome picture and poem either on the chalkboard or on paper. Only managed to take a picture of the last one. Little bit copied the picture and at least part of the poem into her school book each week.