Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up for the week of August 10

It's been a pretty quiet week (I LIKE quiet weeks but they don't lend themselves to great blogging, hee hee).

The weather has been AMAZING, cool . . . and perfect! I'm trying not to think about how this cool of an August bodes very NOT well for how cold it will be this winter . . .

We've been enjoying lots of time outside:

Riding bikes and scooters - the big girls just got new scooters, all 3 girls have been enjoying them!

Going for walks - awhile back we discovered that if you tear pink clover into the little "petals" (or whatever you want to call them) and throw them in the creek, the minnows LOVE to eat them. This week we added to our discovery by realizing that this does NOT work on days when the wind is blowing downstream, the minnows only live (in any quantity) on the upstream side of the bridge, when we threw the clover in, the wind blew it under the bridge before it even hit the ground, so while the minnows still probably enjoyed it, we didn't get to enjoy watching them eat it. . . this led nicely into a discussion with Little Bit about wind direction and water currents and a suggestion to watch the wind directions and try again another day when there isn't wind or when it's blowing upstream :)

Meeting friends at the park - I've participated, off and on, at Gentle Christian Mothers, and recently discovered that another mom there lives about 45 min from us and has daughters close to Little Bit's age. So we met at a park halfway in between and enjoyed a lovely afternoon letting the girls play while we chatted. The big girls joined our conversation part of the time and helped the little kids part of the time, so it all worked well, we're definitely looking forward to getting together again sometime!

Grilling - dh got a new grill earlier this summer so we've been enjoying grilling out in the cool evenings lately, YUM!

Visiting Grandmom - on Friday dh took the girls to visit Grandmom. They tell me they spent most of their time playing outside.  I have to admit, for me it was a HUGE blessing to have a day to be completely ALONE!  I mostly just reveled in the silence and aloneness :)

Playing in the rain - Little Bit enjoyed stomping puddles and otherwise playing in the rain a few times this week. Unfortunately, opening and closing her umbrella a gazillion and one times led to the handle falling off, sigh . . . (it was a cheap "paint your own" umbrella from Oriental Trading that I actually got when the twins were preschoolers but it was an extra that I (amazingly) found while unpacking, and she painted it awhile back). I suggested that she take a picture of it to save her "artwork" (she also campaigned to keep the top part and I agreed, for now . . . ) so this is the picture she took of Ashlyn holding it (because it won't stay open on it's own now.

I'll wrap-up this wrap-up (ha ha) with an update on dh. He's working full time, and overall doing well. But he's been having a lot of trouble with leg pain, I assume it's some form of "restless leg syndrome" (the girls giggle every time I say that, and insist that it sounds like a Doc McStuffin' sickness LOL), probably a side affect of no longer taking the pain meds he was taking after surgery, but it's making it almost impossible for him to sleep, so that's hard!

The one positive, when his legs start really bothering him, the only thing that seems to help is for him to walk, so he and I have been taking lots of late night (when it's worst) walks, the exercise is good for both of us, and we've been especially thankful for the cooler-than-normal temps that make the walks pleasant instead of muggy and miserable :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Independently Learning Together

Today I'm blogging over at SDA Homeschool Families . . . When I first started researching homeschooling, one thing that struck me as important is the idea of teaching my children to be independent learners. . . read more

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Is Where We Do School

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This week's post for the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop is "Schoolrooms". . . We have a schoolroom, but we tend to do school all over our house too! So I thought I'd just generally show you where we do schoool . ..

But we'll start with the school room. Our school room serves LOTS of purposes. . . it stores all our school stuff, it's where we can sprawl around and do read alouds and other school,  it has some "secluded" areas for when one of the girls wants to be abit more "alone", it's also as close as we get to having a "guest room".

So come on in . . .

Standing in the doorway, this is kind of what you see. The beanbag conveniently stores (some of) our extra stuffed animals and is a favorite seat. The "milk crates" are "cubbies" for each of the girls to keep their school stuff in, and others hold things like musical instruments  and books. the green plastic drawers hold scrap paper, collage supplies, and specialty papers. Hooks on the wall hold the girls' backpacks so they can quickly grab them and fill them for on-the-go school (the pink one really is on a hook, it's not hanging from the lamp). The cedar chest and square "cat cube" serve as seating and also hold bedding, etc for when it's a guest room. The wooden shelf forms one "wall" of one of the "nooks" where there are pillows on the floor for them to be abit more alone (another "nook" is on the other side of the cubbies.

The door into the room is right next to the green fabric drawers. This is where I sit when we "do school" so the bottom wood shelf has my pens, etc. In the fall and winter we usually have a seasonally relevant playsilk covering the green fabric drawers and use that surface as a small nature table. We haven't done any "nature tabling" this summer. The drawers hold things we use on the nature table (sticks, small wooden animals, etc) the bookcase is mostly just . . . books . . . a couple of the lower shelves are Little Bit's picture books. Also I have a few art supplies stored on a couple of the higher shelves. The wooden shelf has my current "file cabinet" (the black milk crate) on top and most of that shelf is things I am currently using or planning to use soon. . . books I want to remember to incorporate, etc. The white bins have some art supplies and such in them. On top of the white bins is my laminator LOVE IT, and our color printer.  The short little door goes into attic storage space. Right now it's just piled full of boxes, my long-term goal is to organize that space with shelves to store things so that I can have less "storage" in the room itself . . . someday . . . The pink crate is the beginning of the wall of cubbies, it's currently empty, waiting for next time I need to store something LOL. The basket on top is musical instruments.

The "nook" behind the cubbies. The easel serves as one "wall" of this nook. Little Bit loves to draw on the chalkboard, and we use the white board for various schoolish things as well as a place to stick things with magnets. The file box under the backpacks is Ashlyn's WriteShop box. The basket sticking out of one cubby is books for them to choose from for independent reading if they tell me they have "nothing to read".

The bookcases along the wall hold books, and more art supplies on top. The space beside the bookcases in the corner holds things like wall maps that we're not currently using. The black cubby is Lexie's (it faces into the "nook". T he purple cubby AND the fabric bin on top of the blue cubby are Ashlyn's (actually one of her projects over the last few days was consolidating those together, the fabric bin is now gone). The blue cubby has our Learning Palettes. Under the empty pink cubby is one with our Bilibos and other "get the wiggles out" type toys. Under the Learning Palettes cubby is one that holds our Wedgits. Under Ashlyn's purple cubby is Little Bit's cubby and, as mentioned above, under Lexie's is a cubby (facing the other direction) with independent reading books.

 The other side of the room. More shelves of books with art and school supplies on top (the black plastic drawers are more of the same). The couch folds out into a queen size mattress and becomes our guest bed! We had a generic equivalent to an aerobed (that we stored in the cedar chest) but when it sprung a leak and I needed to replace it, I decided to go this route, so leaks wouldn't be an issue. The girls love sitting on it, doing gymnastics on it, etc! And our guests tell us it's quite comfortable to sleep on. If I had it to do over again I think I'd get 2 twin size ones instead, but we have this one now. It's lightweight enough to pull out to get to the books and games on the shelf behind it. On the slanted ceiling is our ancient history timeline.

On the other side of the door is our photocopier and another bookshelf.

While we love our school room and use it daily (for school and play), we also use the rest of our house.

The kitchen is where messy projects happen. The white dropleaf table (right side of the picture) can open up to a square  table or rectangular table, depending how much work we need. Messy art happens there. The tin pails on the shelf above the table hold paint, chalk, etc. for those projects.

Of course the living room is a great place for read alouds, just curling up on the sofa to work on homework, and watching videos.

 The other side of the living room . . . Ashlyn practices piano, and Lexie stores her violin here. (Lexie generally practices in her room or the school room). Between the piano and the TV is our hard-working printer. Under the TV are DVDs and games. One thing this house lacked, when we bought it, was places to store my huge book collection, so to help with that problem (in addition to squeezing shelves into every available inch in the schoolroom, my dad built bookshelves instead of a banister along the staircase, as you can see, I have it jammed full! The white canvas drawers under the windows hold art supplies and play dough stuff. The bottom cube has library books and current read alouds that we usually end up reading downstairs.
 Finally, the back door leads us out into our OTHER classroom, the whole wide world! While you can't actually see it in this picture, on the shelf under the counter, closest to the door is a basket full of field guides for when the children discover something interesting in the yard. Outside you'll find a driveway for bike riding , sidewalk chalk, and basketball, a swingset, container gardening on the back porch, and some in the flower beds, a creek for wading . . . all kinds of fun, without even leaving home! :)

Homeschool Classrooms

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up for the Week of August 3

This week started with us travelling, and ends with us safely back home :)  Sunday Rodney was working in a smallish town without much close by. Additionally, Lexie and Little Bit had both had some sort of stomach bug over the weekend so I didn't want to push them too much. I found a Panera Bread not too far from where Rodney was working and we hung out taking advantage of their wi-fi, as well as eating lunch there. I was just starting to check for nearby Geocaches, as something not too strenuous to occupy us, when Rodney texted that he was almost done, so we just hung out at Panera abit longer and then went and picked him up.

We got to that night's hotel and much to Little Bit's disappointment, after being able to swim without floaties in the 3ft section of the last hotel, this hotel only had 4 & 5 ft sections, so she was back to using floaties, but liked that I said she could go anywhere in the pool :) The girls swam for 2 or 3 hours until a group of teenagers came in and made it unbearably loud and . . . chaotic. I realized that it was also suppertime, so we headed back to the room and the girls started through the shower and such while Rodney went out and picked up pizza for supper :)

Monday, we were heading home, but first, one more client. It was near Gettysburg and originally I'd thought we might actually go to Gettysburg National Park, but I wasn't feeling great, and Little Bit still seemed not quite back to normal, so I decided not to spend the money to go there this time. I was figuring we'd visit some of the other touristy stuff in the area or find a park or something. When we got to the church where Rodney was meeting the treasurer, there was a school, with a nice playground on the same grounds, so, with it a cool day, I turned the girls loose on their own personal playground-for-the-day instead. Thankfully, that worked out ok, I started to feel worse as the day progressed, and spent a good part catnapping in the car (with the windows and doors open to catch the breeze while they played on the playground and did schoolwork at a picnic table on the school's porch. When Rodney was done, we headed home. By the time I got home I was feeling nauseous enough that I said "please make sure the food in the cooler gets in the fridge." and headed straight to bed. Never threw up, but came pretty close. The kids and Rodney managed to survive the evening without me, and even DID put the food in the fridge, and bring everything else in from the car. By Tuesday, while I wasn't feeling great, and didn't have much appetite, I was functioning again, whew!

I'm assuming it was a milder version of what Lexie and Little Bit had over the weekend (Ashlyn had it a day or 2 later, also just an evening of no appetite or energy and feeling "icky").

The rest of our week was pretty laid back. Getting caught up on laundry and such after being gone, I was moving slow from not feeling good. Rodney's having some issues with leg pain, probably a side-effect of no longer taking the pain killers he was on post-surgery, so that's been affecting his sleep. And he asks me to massage his legs and/or rub an essential oil mixture into his legs several times a day.

The weather has been AMAZING for August! Not unbearably hot during the day and downright cool at night! So that's been nice, though I saw an article predicting a colder/snowier winter than usual this winter, even more than last year and I'm not looking foward to that, even if it does mean cooler August! But since it is, what it is, we're enjoying the nice weather while it's here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Schoolhouse Review: Roman Roads Media

Ashlyn is currently obsessed with learning about grammar and writing. So when Roman Roads Media gave us the opportunity to review The Grammar of Poetry, she was all over it! In fact, she happened to walk in as I was watching one of the video clips on the website, and before it was even over she was begging me to let her do this one.  When I told her we were getting it, she squealed loud enough to be heard around the world LOL. And proceeded to stalk the mailman until it got here.

The Grammar of Poetry is a 30 lesson video course that teaches the mechanics of poetry. It is intended for grades 6 and up. We received a student texbook (I would call it a workbook, there's very little "instruction" it's mostly the assignment worksheets), teacher's edition (answer key for the workbook, and contains the final exam), and DVDs. The teacher's edition recommends doing one lesson per day, 3 days a week, which would make this a 10 week course. When I suggested this to Ashlyn, she said, "But I want to do it every day!!! So I threw the "schedule" out the window and told her to go to it. She found that some lessons took her longer, so I think in the end she did average about 3 lessons per week, but she worked on it some each day.

Each lesson consists of a video to watch, of Matt Whitling teaching the course. As he teaches he goes over how to do the worksheets that go with that lesson. Sometimes she would pause the video and do the worksheet when it was explained, other times she'd wait and do all the worksheets after watching the whole video. Each video ends with a couple riddles, that she's been enjoying sharing with her sisters.

After she finishes the worksheets, she takes the answer key and checks her own work, and asks me if she has any questions.

Because she's self-motivated and wants to check her own work, this has been a completely independent course for her. She is LOVING it! Noticing the various aspects of poetry in other things around us, and yesterday I heard her trying to explain meter to her 5 yr old sister LOL. Surprisingly, Little Bit seemed to enjoy the "lesson".

The videos are very basic, Matt stands by a screen that has slides of what he's teaching about, and lectures about the topic. Honestly, it's extremely "school-at-home" like and not at all like our normal way of doing school. However, it's a perfect fit for Ashlyn. For one thing, it's a video, perfect for her, as an auditory learner. She can comprehend things more easily when someone explains it to her than if she read it herself. Also she really, really WANTS to learn about grammar AND poetry, so she's self-motivated to pay attention and do her best. The worksheets seem to comprehensively review the information presented in the video. The riddles often have to be explained . . . one was about sleeping under the bed and having a tongue . . .when she saw that the answer was a shoe, she was confused. Her crocs , flip-flops and slip-on flats don't have tongues LOL. Once I explained that the part on Daddy's sneakers was called a tongue, it made more sense to her. But she thinks they're fun, and they're a great way to build critical thinking skills.

One complaint I had, was that there was no list in the front of the teachers guide of needed supplies. As she was watching one of the videos, it expected her to have a rhyming dictionary. I really wish I'd known she would need that, it bothered her, a LOT, to not be able to go straight into her homework because she didn't have it. In the end I suggested that she use an online rhyming dictionary and that seemed to work, but she would have been happier to be able to "follow the rules".

Despite that minor frustration she is LOVING this course.  I think this would be a great fit for . . . Ashlyn LOL. If a child was resistant to learning, I don't think this would convince them to love grammar or poetry, there aren't lots of bells and whistles to make it "fun". And obviously, since it's a video course, it's best suited for auditory learners (it wouldn't be a good fit for me, because watching videos is my least favorite way to learn anything, I'd much rather just read a book about it). But since it's a subject that many of us moms aren't overly qualified to teach . . . I'm sure I learned about poetry in school but, ummm . . . yeah . . . no real recollection of it! For children who are interested in language arts, this is a great option! Ashyn is at the young end of the recommended age range. We don't really "do" grade-levels, but she's roughly at a 6th grade level, which is the youngest grade recommended for this curriculum. I wasn't sure how that would work since, prior to her current interest, bordering on obsession, with grammar, we haven't focused too much on it, so I would have guessed she was more of a 4th or early 5th grade level for grammar. However, while this may be part of why she's moved more slowly through the worksheets, she hasn't complained about it being too hard. Matt explains things completely in the videos and makes them easy to understand.

This seems to truly be a stand-alone course, there isn't any assumption of prior knowledge about the topics covered, so it appears that the grade-level recommendation probably refers more to the maturity of the student than their prior learning on the topic, which made it a good fit for Ashlyn.

The bundle that we received, text, teacher's edition and DVDs, is regularly $131, currently on sale for $100. If you will be using the course with more than one student, additional student texts are available for $22 each.

You can visit Roman Roads Media on social media:

In addition to The Grammar of Poetry, Roman Roads Media has a variety of other amazing looking products that crew members had the opportunity to review. I'm especially interested to learn more about the Old Western Culture courses (Greeks, and Romans), I have to admit I was pretty bummed to realize my kids were still too young for those courses, they look amazing!  To see what other crew members thought about Roman Roads Media, click the banner below:

Click to read Crew Reviews

All prices and information are accurate at time of posting.

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, August 4, 2014

If You Don't Use Textbooks, What DO You Use?

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I'm not sure how it happened, but it's AUGUST again! And on this blog, and many others, August means the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop

This week is Curriculum Week! Often when people ask me what curriculum to use, they are thinking of a "boxed curriculum" that has all subjects, and daily lesson plans, etc. And to that question, my answer is, I have no idea, we don't do that, you're going to have to ask someone else. And those who've weighed their options and know they want a boxed curriculum do just that. Others, however get a puzzled look on their faces . . . how do you do school without textbooks and stuff? The answer has varied a LOT over the last howevermany years (8 if you count from when my twins first said "Mommy, can we do school?" and we started a simple circle time). But here's this year's plan:

Lexie and Ashlyn, age 11 (approx 6th grade)
Math:  Life of Fred - Each of the girls is working through this, independently, at her own pace. We "paused" for awhile last year to make sure they memorized their multiplication facts, but now they've dived back into it and are progressing nicely.

Language Arts:  As always, "reading" is well covered by reading books of their choosing and assigned reading in other subjects. We are using Spelling Wisdom for spelling, and also discuss punctuation and other aspects while going through this.  I also am hoping to implement a "freewriting Friday" this fall, but haven't discussed it with the girls yet. Ashlyn is very interested in writing and grammar right now. She's currently reviewing Grammar of Poetry (watch for that review in the next few days), when she finished that, she plans to continue moving forward with WriteShop (which we "paused" so she could review Grammar of Poetry).  After she's finished both of those we'll re-evaluate what, if anything more she wants to do.
Art: We took a break from Artistic Pursuits over the summer so I will be encouraging them to continue through this curriculum. I'd also like to make time for the See the Light DVDS we have that we haven't used yet (God's Runaway and the Crossmaker). They will likely also join in with some of Little Bit's art (below). Also this winter I'd like to re-introduce a daily "tea time" in the afternoons and have one day a week focus on learning about various artists.
Music: Our main music "curriculum" will continue to be piano lessons for Ashlyn and violin lesson for Lexie. This winter, one day a week, tea time will focus on a composer. 

Little Bit, age 5 (approx pre-K)
My theoretical philosophy is to delay academics until age 7ish, however none of my children have agreed with that philosophy, so I take an extremely child-led approach to academics while they're so young. These are what I have available for her, but it's all "if she wants to".

Nature: We are reading through the Burgess Bird Book, a couple chapters a week. I try to print a coloring page to go with each chapter and after we finish reading the chapter we look up a picture of the bird(s) talked about in that chapter and what they sound like. We'll also do some fall gardening, and just general nature walks and noticing things when we're outside. I'd also like to start doing some Outdoor Hour Challenges, but haven't gotten organized enough yet. For all of this, sometimes the big girls join us, sometimes not.

We also have been enjoying Herb Fairies again this year, and that will continue, with one story per month, through next spring. Little Bit was too young to pay attention when we first used this, 2 years ago, so she's enjoying it, and the related coloring pages this time through, while her sisters are now old enough to be more interested in the recipes and such related to each herb.

Art: I have lots of art and craft ideas on Pinterest. My plan/goal is to look over the ideas and choose 4 or 5 that I have all the necessary supplies for to have available each week if she wants to "do art". As with the nature, the big girls can choose whether or not to join us.

Math: We've done a little bit with Gnomes and Gnumbers, and will continue to work through it, play with it as she shows interest. She also actually enjoys "workbook" type things so I have some little workbooks that she works on when she wants. And one of her favorite iPad games is a straight math drill type thing, silly kid.

All Three Girls
Bible:  Bible Road Trip, Year 2. This is a perfect fit for us! It is straight from the Bible, and someone else went through and "condensed" things abit (a few years ago we tried reading straight through the whole Bible and it went too fast and covered some rather "adult" topics, I COULD do my own picking and choosing, but since Danika did such a great job, I'm happy to, with much appreciation, use her curriculum!  Our "weeks" float abit because of days when school doesn't happen, but we don't worry about that, and just keep moving forward regardless of the day of the week (for the most part, you'll see the exception below).
  • Each day we review memory verses from the whole curriculum, using a Charlotte Mason approach to memory work, except I adapted it to use a notebook in Evernote, since that's my "brain", including all lesson plans. 
  • On the first day of each "week", all 3 girls draw a picture on the memory verse notebooking page (included with the curriculum), while I read.  The twins write out the memory verse as well. I print out a copy of the memory verse for Little Bit and she either just glues it on or, when she wants to, writes a few of the words and then glues it on. I don't want to push copywork on her so young, but I'm happy to let her practice writing when she wants.
  • Each day I read the suggested chapters of the Bible for grades 4-6. And we discuss them. I print out What's in the Bible coloring pages for Little Bit to color while she listens.
  • On Music Lesson Day I print out one additional notebooking page, of their choice, from the current, or most recently finished, lesson, and they do that during the other one's music lesson.
  • When chapter books are suggested I either read the suggested chapter(s) during our morning Bible time, or as bedtime story.
  • All 3 girls LOVE the What's in the Bible DVDs and are excited when it's time for the next one. We usually watch it during lunch, once we've watched it together, the newest one generally goes in the car for Little Bit to watch over and over and over (and over). 
We will continue to work with Laying Down the Rails to improve our habits and character.

History/Social Studies:
At the moment the big girls are finishing up their self-paced online course. Once that's completed (probably early in September, if they stay on track), we'll go back to our "normal" history: Story of the World, Vol 2 audiobook will be our "spine". To that I will add living books for read alouds and independent reading, videos, notebooking pages, lapbooks and hands-on projects.

We'll be using Apolgia's Exploring Creation With Astronomy once a week. I think this is the ONE year that I'll get by with doing a combined history for all 3 girls. By next year, even with adding in extras, I think the big girls will need something more advanced than Apologia's elementary science series, and last year when we used their Physics and Chemistry, while Little Bit enjoyed some of the experiments it was still over her head.  having looked over this one, I think it will be simple enough for her, but still give the big girls some good information. We'll also spend one day a week reading through Signs and Seasons, which I suspect will be over Little Bit's head. I want to try it first as a read aloud, just in case she finds it interesting, but if she doesn't, I might switch to having the big girls read it independently. Interspersed with these 2 "spines" I also have lots of ideas saved to Pinterest and in my science notebook in Evernote that I'll intersperse throughout and once a month we will do a lesson in our Star Chronicles study.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but for the moment, that's our plans!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up for the Week of July 27

We've had a field trip filled week! Last weekend we headed out with Rodney to travel around western PA while he caught up on work that had to wait while he was off for surgery. While there were numerous times when I muttered under my breath about how much better it is to do trips like this during the school year (I like empty hotel breakfast rooms and pools!), over-all we had a great trip!

Sunday we were in Erie, PA so we headed to the Maritime Museum. I'd looked online and the "Niagara" (reproduction of one of the ships that fought on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812) was supposed to be gone, but they had had some delays so it was in port and we got to tour it while we were there. woo-hoo!

Monday we stayed at the hotel, did schoolwork, and spent lots of time in the hotel pool :) Little Bit is tall enough now to stand in the 3 foot water, so she doesn't need her floaties anymore, which she loved! Meanwhile, this hotel's pool was larger than most and went all the way to 10 feet deep. So the big girls enjoyed having more deep water than usual to play in.

 Tuesday we toured Old Economy Village, a religious commune in the 1800s. It was an interesting tour, and also included some hands-on "life in the 1800s" stuff that all the girls enjoyed.

Wednesday our PLAN was another day of school in the hotel room and lots of swimming, but when we got to the pool, it was closed for maintenance. Needless to say I had a very disappointed little girl! And some rather disappointed bigger girls but they were more ok with just doing lots of history and such. Thursday I had ALSO planned to just hang out at the hotel, but when we asked at the desk they told us the pool would be closed at least until 5pm. So another whole day of JUST sitting in a hotel room didn't seem like a good choice. I did some quick googling to find something to do near where Rodney would be working that day and came across a gem we would have otherwise missed!

Friendship Hill is a national historic site that was Albert Gallatin's house. Gallatin was the Secretary of the Treasury during Jefferson and Madison's presidencies, so he was the one who figured out the money stuff for the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark's Expedition, among other things. We would have loved to have lots longer to spend at Friendship Hill, it looked like there were lots of great hiking trails and such, but we just had time to do the Junior Rangers and tour his house. Still a very cool site!  I had to roll my eyes abit though. When we got there I asked the ranger for Junior Ranger books for 1 five year old and 2 eleven year olds, since every site designs their own books, some sites have different books for different ages, others just have different requirements within the same book. Her response was "5 is too young" which kind of surprised me because most places, even when she was 3, they'd say "well, she might not be able to do everything, but see what she can do".  And most places the Junior Rangers start at age 5 or 6, so I was surprised that at age 5, she was still "too young". This one started at age 6 (so she's not THAT much too young) and she was perfectly capable of doing all of it that I'd expect a 6 or 7 year old to do.  There were a couple places where it expected the 6-8 yr olds to write things out that I had her draw lines instead, and a couple of the activities *I* couldn't figure out but overall I could see a huge difference in how well she could "really" earn a Junior Ranger compared to the last one we did, about a year ago! My baby's growing up.

When we got back to the hotel Thursday evening (near bedtime), the pool was open again! So we took the girls down for a final swim instead of bedtime stories that night!

Friday we were in a tiny town without much nearby, and Rodney didn't think he'd be there long enough for us to drive farther to find something "field-trip-ish" so we just found a cute little playground area with goats and a big slide and the girls played and we ate our picnic lunches and such. You can see pictures from that in my "First Day of August" post.

Friday afternoon we visited friends near where Rodney was working, and that evening we headed to my parents' house for Sabbath.

I'll wrap up the post by sharing the picture I couldn't resist snapping of the girls sleeping one night in the hotel, I loved how they both have their elbows bent under them :)