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.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wrapping up March

Sigh, I'm behind again . . . March . . .

Starting in January we've been hosting a monthly American Girl Club for our homeschool group. In January, one family came. In February, 2 families came. In March . . . there were 21 people at our house! It was awesome! I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about how that many people would fit . . . and if/when we end up having a rainy day, it will certainly be loud, but it really worked out wonderfully! Altogether there were 8 girls there for the club, which is the maximum that will fit around our table. We were focusing on Samantha's time period, so we did a craft and ate a snack from 1905. Meanwhile the moms and younger brothers hung out in the sunroom, and the older siblings hung out in the living room. Once the craft and snack were done, the girls played with their dolls in the living room for awhile and then most of the kids migrated outside for the last while. We had a great time, and I was happy to see that our house can handle a "crowd" without feeling claustrophobic.

The next day, it snowed! After a winter of no real snow, we got a BUNCH in March! Go figure! I really didn't mind. It came when we didn't need to be anywhere, and we could just enjoy it's beauty while snuggling up indoors and staying put. And the nice thing about March snows is they tend to melt pretty quickly :)

I had to laugh at Moccasin. We had set a bowl out in the snow to catch snow for snow ice cream. After we brought it in, I walked into the sunroom to see Moccasin waiting to come in, sitting in the indentation from the bowl. Guess he thought it was a cat seat LOL. I'd say it was because he didn't want to sit on snow, but pretty sure there was still snow under him, so who knows . . . he's a silly cat!

The girls took advantage of having Daddy trapped at home with us, to play Monopoly with him. It's fun to listen to them argue . . . Daddy's risk-taking and Ashlyn risk-aversion tend to clash . . . it amuses me :)

Our church hosted a game night at the school gym one Saturday night. The "main attraction" was human hungry hippos. People also brought board games and Lexie and Ashlyn helped with setting up and supervising minute games (I think that's what she called them). Quick little challenges. They were a hit. My kids won't let me post the rather amusing pictures I have of them participating :)

 One of the snacks was sour patch kids. Not sure any of my kids had ever had them before. Little Bit's face when she tried one for the first time was PRICELESS! :)

It was a fun evening.

One night when I went to tell the girls goodnight, I found Tracy sleeping on the American Girl doll bed. Apparently she thinks she's an American Girl doll. Or maybe she just thinks that everything in this house is for her pleasure and comfort LOL.

I managed to not take any pictures of birthdays this year. They were pretty low key. I came down with a bad stomach bug 2 days before Little Bit's birthday, so lost my final "prep time" completely and was still moving pretty slow on her birthday. It was a nice day, just quiet and low key. Lexie & Ashlyn's birthday was also "low key" because they don't like a fuss being made AND don't like pictures taken, so I didn't push it this year.

We'll finish up this brief summary of March with a couple pictures from Little Bit's school. We're doing a slightly structured waldorf-ish approach and she seems to be enjoying it. In January and February we did a math gnomes block that I'm still planning to do a separate post on. Once we finished that we moved on to Form Drawing. This is something I didn't know much about, but it's recommended that we "catch up" on the first grade forms before we start the second grade curriculum that we're planning to start in July, so we'll be doing a long Form Drawing block with breaks for holidays and such, from now until July. We read stories, and I draw the form on the chalk board. We practice it in the air, on each other's back, in a "fairy sand box" (that is actually salt & glitter), Little Bit practices "painting" the form with water on the chalkboard, and drawing it on the chalk board. We also go outside (weather permitting) and draw the form on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk big enough that she can walk the form. Once she feels confident that she can draw it accurately, she adds it to her school notebook.

One of the things about Waldorf that I knew would be a good fit for her is all the art. We are learning the wet-on-wet watercolor technique as well as drawing with block crayons, and some days I'll draw a picture on the chalkboard that she copies into her school notebook with regular crayons of colored pencils. We will also eventually be sculpting with modeling beeswax, but I have to admit, *I* am still really struggling to figure out how that works, so don't want her getting frustrated with it until I understand it better.

She still has days when she doesn't want to do school. And of course, with it being spring, on gorgeous spring days we forget about book work and go outside and soak up the spring! But I feel like we're getting into a good groove. With the modifications I've made to the "prescribed" Waldorf method, it provides the structure that she needs but tons of creativity and the block schedule means it's not always the same (the block schedule would have not been a good fit for Ashlyn, but seems to be working well for Lina. Lexie just wants to be moving and doing hands on stuff, she doesn't care if there's structure or not LOL).

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Wrapping up the Rest of February

The second half of February kind of went by in a blink . . . Little Bit asked Lexie to make her a "Little House on the Prairie" dress for her American Girl doll for her birthday. Her birthday isn't until the end of March, but Lexie finished the outfit already. Didn't it turn out cute?

One of the cute little towns near us does a "Fire and Ice Festival" in February. The website said the ice sculptures would be available to view all day, with music and such happening in the evening. I figured it would be warmer, and less crowded, and less chaotic if we went late in the afternoon and then we could decide to stay into the evening if we wanted to.

Unfortunately, most of the ice sculptures weren't even uncovered until 5:00 (when the "festival" started). Making me pretty confused about the website's assertion that the ice sculptures would be available for viewing "from dawn to dusk". And after having to wait around for awhile for them to be uncovered some of us were rather grouchy and we pretty much just walked through the park to see the sculptures and then left. There WERE some cool sculptures and we even got to see a guy carving one, with a chain saw. . . very interesting to watch. I can't imagine doing that with an "audience" like he did . . . well *I* can't imagine doing it at all, but even if I had the skills and talent to do it, I can't imagine doing it with a whole bunch of people standing around staring at me. I'm hoping we can go again another year, now that we know what they really do, and can plan to be there only when things are happening :)

Little Bit's friend, K had a birthday party a couple weeks ago. It was a "painting party" so right up Little Bit's alley :) She had a blast, but commented that she's glad HER art teacher (at that class she's taking through our homeschool co-op) lets them do their own work. It bugged her that the painting teacher at the party would come by and "help" by adding details to her picture. In addition to being glad that my personal belief that children should take pride in their work because it's THEIR work, not because it looks "perfect" because someone else did it for them, has apparently taken hold with her, I was also glad to hear that the art class she's in is a good fit for her (and my philosophy on art). I'm glad that she's willing to participate in things without me being right there, but it does mean I don't know the details of what's happening in class like I did when my kids were younger and didn't want to be out of my sight. Nice to get little insights into things and know they're working out well :)

We've had such a weird winter, weather-wise. January fluctuated between bitterly cold (and dry) and warm enough to not be snow and heavy rains! I'm (mostly) glad it played out that way, the amount of rain we got, if it had been snow, would have been . . . much more snow than we're used to. But would have been nice to get one or two good snows! And then, in late February we got frigid one day and high 60s another day! We have spring flowers!! Of course, all that also meant that last weekend, when we had temperatures in the 70s, and then a wet cold front coming into that, lead to tornado warnings and "straight line winds" strong enough to cause quite a bit of damage, thankfully no people were seriously injured. The damaging winds missed us, but within a few miles of us I've seen lots of HUGE old trees knocked down and some barns, outbuildings, and roofs being repaired. And now we're back to FRIGIDLY cold temperatures. Little Bit tells me that "Winter and Spring are fighting about who's turn it is". I think she might be right . . .

I had the audacity to tell the kids they needed to straighten their rooms enough to sweep and dust. There was some (minor) wailing and gnashing of teeth, but once that settled down and they did as they'd been asked, Lexie decided to take it a step further and do some minor rearranging to make room for an extra table in for sewing and ironing. I realized after I'd taken the picture that she's managing to completely hide the sewing machine in this picture, but it's behind her on the desk. She's been sewing at her desk, and that works well, but she was tired of having to use her bed for ironing and cutting. She moved our small rectangular folding table in there and it's perfect! I had to admit I took advantage of it to cut out the bathroom wipes I've been meaning to have her sew for MONTHS (she told me she'd sew them if I cut them out). And very much appreciated having everything nicely set up.

The girls have always liked that there are "holes in our floors" - the cracks and knot holes between the boards. If Lexie's in her room when I ask the older girls for their "resource lists" on Sundays (because they are responsible for their own schooling now, they keep a checklist of books they use and things they do during the week, then I collect those on Sunday and incorporate the information into my spreadsheets that keep track of everything in the format the state requires) she will generally drop the sheet of paper between the cracks in the floor onto the sofa. On the not so positive side, when she recently spilled a box of straight pins in her room we had a bit of a dangerous shower in the living room, and I would guess that we'll find more straight pins the next time we move the sofa to clean under it. (the cracks in the floor were also not appreciated when we were having issues with Tracy (the cat) peeing on any piles of clothes left on the floor. Cat pee showering down onto my dining room table does not please me! On a more fun note . . . recently when little Bit was bored, she took advantage of our "holes" to create a ride for her stuffed bear. She dropped the yarn down through her bedroom floor and tied it around "Pilly" the bear then went back upstairs and raised her up to the ceiling.

Every so often Little Bit decides to participate up front for song service at church. Last week I was able to snap a great picture of her and her friends, K & K all singing along with the adults! I love that our church encourages the kids to be involved :)