Monday, June 20, 2016

Wrapping Up Most of June . . .

Last October we were studying the American Revolution in history and I wanted to include the nearby field trips at that time, but we were a bit distracted with buying a house! So, I put it off. And then it was winter . . . and then we were busy getting our old house ready to sell . . . and then I blinked, and it's JUNE!! And we FINALLY made it to Independence National Park. Which is the official name for all the historic, founding of our country, stuff in downtown Philadelphia. Lexie and Ashlyn already have their Junior Ranger for Independence, but Little Bit earned hers. 

We had hoped to be close enough to the end of the school year to avoid school groups, and early enough to avoid the summer vacation crowds, but alas, the school groups were still there! Talking to a ranger, the elusive "in between" we were hoping for doesn't exist because of different parts of the country getting out of school at different times. But we did manage to find parts of the park that are, apparently, less interesting to school groups, that weren't super crowded, and enjoyed our day anyway.  
After most of the school groups had left for the day we were able to get to the Liberty Bell without battling crowds. The big girls were vetoing all photo ops that day, so Little Bit is the star. 
Needless to say, much of our time this month has revolved around kittens. They're soo cute, and active and fun! They have a strange obsession with shoulders (the kittens we used to have when I was growing up seemed to like shoulders too, so apparently it's a kitten thing . . . ) 

Another field trip that's been on my "to do list" for awhile is Landis Valley Museum. We went a couple years ago and enjoyed it, so now that we're back to the 1800s in history, I wanted to go again. Different buildings are open different days, so I watched the calendar and chose a day that sounded fun. It was, though it started raining before we finished, and enough of it is outside, and it's close enough to home, that we decided to just go back on a non-rainy day to finish up.  Before the rain started we discovered an unadvertised open building that had a room where kids could play house with old fashioned stuff. Little Bit had a blast! And Lexie occupied herself trying to figure out how a spring-loaded metal toy was supposed to work (I don't think she ever figured it out for sure). When I finally said we needed to move on, Little Bit begged to come back another day.
The kittens keep growing . . . Meanwhile, campmeeting time came around. It was only a weekend this year, so we didn't take the motorhome up and camp up there, just drove back and forth for Friday evening, and Sabbath. Little Bit enjoyed her first year in Primary, though I think all the meetings on Sabbath were a bit much for her. She was showing definite signs of being overstimulated by the end of the day.  Lexie and Ashlyn were in Earliteen (7th & 7th grade) this year, but for some reason, this year, Earliteen was combined with Youth (high school). They enjoyed the speaker, but I did feel the afternoon activity wasn't age appropriate, so we spent the afternoon meeting time visiting with friends instead.

Even Rodney can't resist cuddly little sleeping kittens . . . Sunday was Shavuot. Shavuot celebrates the harvest, as well as God giving Moses and the Israelites the Law on Mt. Sinai. Since the harvest is the "fruit" of the farmer's labor, fruit is generally eaten on Shavuot. And since the Torah is sweet like milk & honey, dairy, especially sweet dairy, is also traditionally eaten on Shavuot. So, we had fruit smoothies for breakfast, ice cream and fruit for lunch, and mac and cheese for supper. Little Bit declared it a very yummy holiday! We also decorated the house with flowers and greenery, and then, on Monday, planted those that could be planted outside.  

Monday and Tuesday my parents were here working on some final details on the Oley house in preparation for the appraisal and inspection. Much to Little Bit's delight, they took her with them to the Oley house on Tuesday and she got a whole day of of Mama and Papa to herself. The big girls and I took advantage of the quiet to get lots of school accomplished that day and, much to Lexie's delight, I went and picked up a Genetic curriculum that a local homeschooler was giving away. It's high school level and so far Lexie's finding it entirely too easy, but at least it's the subject she's been wanting to focus on for science this coming year. We also discovered that MIT puts their coursework online for free, including an undergraduate Genetics course, so once she completes the high school level course, she can try out the college level one, either back-to-back or in a couple years.

Wednesday we were planning to go to a free "Farm Days" at a dairy farm near Lancaster, but when we got there it was SOOO crowded, that we decided to skip it. I hadn't expected it to be that crowded, so hadn't worn walking shoes (it was going to be a hike from parking to the activities), or brought a bag to carry water bottles and such with us (it was hot!). We were literally right down the road from Landis Valley Museum so we went back there for a little while instead.  The buildings weren't open like normal because of some special classes that week, but the "playhouse" building wasn't being used, so we just went there (we have a Pennsylvania Heritage Membership that gives us unlimited admission to various PA history sites, including Landis Valley, so it doesn't cost us anything extra to just go for a little while). Lexie was an awesome big sister and "played house" with Little Bit until we were all hungry and ready to head to Costco for pizza.

 This weekend our friend, Kathryn was here visiting. She was interested in seeing Valley Forge so we went there on Friday. After seeing the museum and video, we did the driving tour (the gift shop sells a CD that gives you tons of information about Valley Forge as you drive the tour, so we enjoyed that), with a stop part way through for a picnic lunch. Then we detoured through Amish country on our way home to make sure Kathryn saw some horses and buggies and such. She took tons of pictures, so I didn't bother taking any, if she's willing to share, I'll post a few :)

The rest of our weekend has just been hanging out closer to home. Playing with kittens, grilling out, and enjoying time together.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Things We've Been doing BESIDES Playing With Kittens . . .

Since the last update pretty much focused on the kittens, I thought I'd share a few OTHER things we've been up to recently . . . 

A friend from church is getting ready to move. Since I know just how challenging packing can be with young children, we've gone over a couple times to help. Little Bit has fun playing with her girls, which also nicely keeps them occupied. And the big girls and I can help pack, carry boxes, etc. And sometimes be silly when we find sunbonnets and such :) 
Last fall, just as we jumped into the whirlwind of buying our house and moving, we came the American Revolution in history. I had good intentions to do several field trips, but moving took precedence, and then winter . . . (though when I mentioned that recently, the girls pointed out that going to Valley Forge in the winter would have been more authentic LOL) . . . and then this spring we were frantically trying to get our old house ready to go on the market. . . so the field trips didn't happen. SO . . . a couple weeks ago, we finally made it to Valley Forge! 
We've been before several times, but this time Little Bit was old enough to do the Junior Ranger and of course, as the big girls get older, they enjoy different aspects and understand things on different levels.  It was a fun day, despite the frustration of one of the roads on the driving tour being closed, with no indication of how to get around that and continue the tour (thank goodness for GPS *and* having kids old enough to read maps. We put the visitor center in GPS and Ashlyn paid attention on the map, and we were able to re-enter the tour route at a different point and continue). Here are a few pictures. 

Exploring the fireplace in one of the cabins (because how often do you get to check out a chimney from INSIDE the fire place? And testing out the bunks in the cabins . . . I think she prefers her loft bed! I can't imagine grown men sleeping in such a narrow space!

A couple weekends ago we heard from our realtor that he was finally ready to list our old house on the market. Rodney, Lexie and Ashlyn spent ALL DAY that Friday finishing up/freshening up the landscaping over there. On Sunday we all went over to put the final touches on it. It looked great! It was listed on Tuesday, and by Friday we had two offers, and accepted one of them. I'll heave a HUGE sigh of relief once all inspections are done and the buyer's loan goes through and all that, but we are so thankful for such a quick sale! And I must admit, selfishly, I'm thrilled to not have to spend weeks running over there to sweep and generally clean up after showings. 

Sunday was our end-of-school year evaluation. We actually officially ended our school year in February . . . since we school year-round, we don't have an end/beginning to our school years, but since the state requires more record keeping than I otherwise consider necessary, we keep those records for the required 180 days, and then declare the school year "done" and continue with our schooling, with less paperwork for me, until it all starts over again in July . . . but busy schedules meant we finally got around to meeting with our evaluator and doing the official evaluation. 

And Monday we went on a homeschool group tour of an adorable little family owned bookstore in a nearby town. After the tour, the coordinator from the homeschool group had also organized a "teen day out" where the teens went out to lunch together and played board games and such, and just had fun. So, Little Bit and I got our own "day out" while Lexie and Ashlyn were making new friends and having a blast. 

Little Bit and I got ice cream and pizza for lunch and went to a nearby park and she had fun playing on the playground, and meeting every dog she could find to meet (Ashlyn's trained her well. . . every time she saw a dog, she asked to pet it, and then, assuming she was given permission, proceeded to ask it's name, breed, how old it was, etc. . . But I think her favorite part of the afternoon was the ducks! They're hard to see in the picture, but there were some TINY babies . . . sooo cute! And there was a machine with duck food. Many of the adult ducks were, apparently, too well fed to care, and the tiny babies didn't notice the food when we tried to throw it near them, but there were some larger babies who LOVED it! They gobbled it up, dove to the bottom for any pieces they missed, and looked at us like "is that ALL?!?!?" when it was gone. Little Bit's already asked that next month for her "date" we take more food and go feed the ducks :) 

So that's some of what we've been up to recently!