Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wrapping Up Most of November

Hey look, I'm getting caught up!!! I make no promises that I'll STAY caught up LOL.

I'm also realizing that I haven't taken many pictures recently. So guess I'll just have to tell you what we've been up to recently . . .

  • Little Bit had fun at a friend's birthday party. It was a gymnastics theme, complete with a coach and some students teaching the kids some basic tumbling and helping them with it. Little Bit was WORN OUT but had a blast! 
  • Bowling! Our homeschool coop's teens went bowling. Since we live farther away than many of the families, I was going to try to figure out something for Little Bit & me to do nearby but the coordinator sent an e-mail to those of us with younger kids in case we wanted to have our own bowling party while the big kids did. The little kids had fun bowling while the teens had their fun :) 
  • Splitting wood. As the weather cooled down, we started using our woodstove. We have a nice sized woodpile in the shed from some trees (or parts of trees) that came down at the old house and this house, but none of it had been split. And some was still in the yard needing to be cut up. My parents came up for a few days and Dad did the cutting, and taught Lexie and Ashlyn to split it. They were AWESOME and did tons of splitting! Conveniently, it's been warm enough we haven't had to use the woodstove much, but we have a good stack of wood in the garage, and more in the shed, for when we need it.
Which brings us to . . . last week! 

After church we headed downtown to pass out lunches, hats and gloves, and hot chocolate to the homeless. We passed out over 100 lunches (and 50 cups of hot chocolate) and could have given away so much more if we'd had it. Each week, once all the lunches are passed out the pastor gathers everyone into a circle to pray, and invites anyone nearby to join us if they want. Not only did several people join us this week, but 2 or 3 of them took a turn praying as well. 

Once we got home afternoon the girls and I headed to my parents house. Ashlyn was happy because she got to play with my brother's 3 german shepherds. 

Sunday we headed to NC to visit my friend, V. She's been inviting us to come visit ever since they moved there a couple years ago, and we finally found at least a couple days that would work.

V has 2 girls near Little Bit's age, and the 3 of them had a blast the whole time we were there. Lots of giggling :) V also has 3 dogs, so Ashlyn was happy. I don't think Wiggy (the little one) touched the floor the whole time we were there. He likes to snuggle and all 3 of my girls were more than happy to oblige.

The first evening, it was chilly, so V was trying to start a fire in the woodstove, but not having much luck. The kids decided to try their hand at it after she gave up (and was going to wait for her husband to get home), and they were successful! And very proud of themselves :) 

The weather was GORGEOUS while we were there! So we took advantage of it and spent the first morning at a nearby park. 

After hiking around the lake, we headed to a playground. It has this awesome "spider web" thing to climb on that Lexie had to try out. V managed to convince Ashlyn to at least stand near the spiderweb for a picture (Ashlyn agreed as long as she could hold Wiggy). 

Lexie also kept V's youngest (age 4) happy by pushing him on the swing and generally being his buddy the whole time we were there. He was so cute.  "Wexie, will you pway a game with me?" She played tag (made more fun because it was in the house and Charlie (the dog) assumed they were running for his benefit and kept tripping her), board games, and took him out to play on the swingset. Which at one point, involved allowing all the kids to declare her to be a chocolate bunny and "eat her" . . . but at least the kids were all getting along (big sisters don't always like to include little brothers). Naturally, when she came back inside and told us they'd declared her to be a chocolate bunny, Ashlyn, V, and I promptly started singing the Veggie Tale "Bunny Song" hee hee.

V's 8 yr old had her very first cello lesson while we were there. Lexie was super excited to get to play with a cello, and taught her to play twinkle twinkle. Then everyone played Twinkle together. Lexie on her violin, K on her cello, Ashlyn on the piano, and E on her harp. It was super cool, if not "great music" :)

Since Monday night was the "Super Moon", we had a bonfire and made smores and looked at the moon. It was very pretty, though I couldn't tell that it was that much bigger than other nice big full moons.

On Tuesday we went to check out a fort nearby. There wasn't much there but it was another gorgeous day. There was a small playground so the kids had fun playing on the playground for awhile and then we went for a short hike on a trail through the woods. Much to the delight of the kids, there were some "side trails" (that might have just been deer trails) that we let the kids explore. The woods were small enough that they couldn't get lost, and the ids were loud enough that we could hear them the whole time, so it was nice to sit in the woods and talk and listen to the kids laughing and having fun :) 

Wednesday afternoon we drove back to mom & dad's house. Celebrated Dad's birthday that evening, then came home on Thursday.

Friday we had another park playdate with the same group of friends we met at the end of October. Another gorgeous day (I was plenty warm in a long-sleeve t-shirt) and the kids had a blast. 

Yesterday was the Reading Holiday Parade. Our church had a float in the parade so we walked (or rode) with the float and handed out candycanes. 

The theme was storybook characters so our float was Bible stories. Some of the talented artistic types in our church made a huge "Bible" out of plywood to have in our truck. And some of the kids dressed up as Bible characters and rode in the truck.

Little Bit dressed up as a giraffe. And Lexie resurrected the generic "Bible character" costume she made to use when I was leading the little kid Sabbath School class at church, and needed her and Ashlyn to occasionally play the part of various Bible characters.

While it was chilly waiting for the parade to start, it wasn't bitterly cold, and was plenty warm once we were walking. 

And then, much to Ashlyn's delight. Some friends joined our float with their 2 person recombant bike and, riding in a trailer behind . . . their DOG!!!! He was a super laid-back dog and happily rode the whole parade route. Ashlyn stayed next to him, pretty much the whole time. Some of the kids very happily took turns riding in the 2nd seat of the bike. So they were a welcome addition to our float all around :) Ashlyn hasn't stopped talking about what a sweet dog he is. To be fair, he WAS very sweet. A lab/pitbull/boxer mix. He was a big boy, but very well behaved.

When we passed out lunches, etc. downtown last weekend, after we'd given away most of the "winter wear" our pastor was talking to young homeless guy, and ended up giving him his sweatshirt that has our church logo on it. As we were walking the parade route, we saw the same young man, wearing his "new" sweatshirt. He asked if he could walk with us since he was wearing his sweatshirt that matched ours. I think he even passed out some of the candy he'd been given while standing on the parade route :)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Belatedly Wrapping Up October . . .

I'm hopelessly behind, but going to try to touch on at least a few highlights from October before moving on to November . . . .

When we got back from the motorhome trip we got to dog-sit one of Ashlyn's favorite doggy guests for a weekend. Maggie likes us, we let her on the furniture and play frisbee with her until she's exhausted :)

Tracy (the cat) no longer attacks Maggie like she did when she had kittens, and mostly they ignore each other (the other cats wisely disappear to the garage, behind furniture, or outside when dogs come to visit). BUT Tracy LOVES Maggie's bed and claims it as her own whenever Maggie's at our house. Since Maggie gets to be on the sofa (during the day) and in Ashlyn's bed at night, she doesn't seem to mind letting the "enemy" use her bed :)

October brought the season's first frost warnings, so Ashlyn and Little Bit went out and harvested the rest of the tomatoes & peppers and we spread them on the windowsill to ripen. I have to say, more than I expected did, indeed, ripen. It's been nice to have a steady but gradual supply of ripe tomatoes for the lats month or so :)

The homeschool co-op that we joined this fall had a fieldtrip to an alpaca farm. All the alpacas are adorable, and some were super friendly. But the coolest was a baby who was only a few days old!!! Soooo sweet!

They also had chickens. The younger kids were trying to pet the chickens but the chickens weren't cooperating real well so, with the owners' permission, Lexie caught a chicken for the kids to pet. It doesn't show very well in the picture, but the chicken had a kind of pinkish tint. They said a few weeks earlier they'd had a "circus camp" on the farm and had colored some of the animals and some of the dye hadn't worn off yet LOL.

I didn't use my porch swing much during the heat of summer, but it's the perfect place to enjoy my morning coffee (or afternoon coffee) in the spring & fall. LOVE IT!!!

I asked the girls if they wanted to try their hand a building a sukkah (temporary shelter) for Sukkot this year. They spent the better part of 2 afternoons working with the pallets we had in the shed and some old boards and such . . . the plan was modified a few times to get it to work, but with some sheer curtains draped over the top, and cement blocks strategically placed to make sure the pallets didn't fall over, it turned out pretty cool. Wish I'd remembered to take daytime pictures, but the nighttime one turned out ok. It was fun to enjoy dessert on the deck, under our sukkah, while watching a huge, beautiful full moon :)

A friend from the church we attended when we lived in Maryland had sent me information about a Christian magician who was going to be at their church. We left right after church and headed down to hang out with friends before the show. They were taking the teenagers can collecting that afternoon so took Lexie & Ashlyn along while Rodney, Little Bit & I went to the church early to help set up for the magic show (or more accurately, refreshments after the show).  The friend who was organizing it all has a daughter Little Bit's age who's very outgoing, so as I expected, the two of them hit it off instantly and ran off to happily play until the show started. We had a great time visiting with friends, and the magician was pretty cool! Typical slight of hand and illusion but he used it to create object lessons about various Bible concepts :)

The next day was our church's second annual Trunk or Treat. I'm not a fan of Halloween, but this is such an awesome ministry. We host the Trunk or Treat in a school parking lot in downtown Reading. The school is near the boys & girls club facility where we provide crafts, activities and snacks to kids on Sat. afternoon once a month, so many of the kids are the same. The school principal and several teachers had trunks as well as church members, friends, and some local businesses. This year a police officer brought her police car and had it set up as a trunk from Zootopia (which would probably have made more sense to me if I'd seen the movie, but I thought it was great for kids to get to interact with a police officer in a fun, positive way :)  United Way had several trunks and in addition to the candy that everyone handed out, they also brought books, sorted by grade level, to hand out to all the kids. Little Bit was happy to get an Amelia Bedelia book (and surprisingly one she doesn't have), I was more excited to know that the local kids who probably have very few, if any, books of their own, were all getting a book too :) Lexie & Ashlyn came planning to help wherever needed (so did I, but they actually had quite a bit of help this year so I didn't do much, which was fine, it allowed me to take Little Bit around to the trunks and then let her play with her friends while I could keep an eye on her).

Lexie spent most of the time at the soldier table (we send the leftover candy to the soldiers overseas so we have a table with posters for the kids to sign to send with the candy), but one of the trunks had a Jurassic Park theme including a fancy inflatable dinosaur costume, but the guy wearing the costume was getting hot & thirsty (we had AWESOME weather that day!) so they were looking for someone to take a turn in the dinosaur and Lexie agreed. Doesn't she make a cute dinosaur next to Little Bit the cat? :) She was most amused when a little boy in a DINOSAUR costume was afraid of her :) Other kids happily ran up to her to get their picture taken with her though :)

As has  become an annual tradition, our pastor invited the whole church to a bonfire at his house on the last Sat. night of October, which happens to also be the night of the King Frost parade in the town where they live. We look forward to the time with friends (and Little Bit looks forward to getting candy at the parade) but Ashlyn also looks forward to getting to snuggle with their dog Sadie. Sadie's old and deaf and sweet as can be and she and Ashlyn adore each other :)

We again, had great weather! And a good evening!

The next day, much to Little Bit's delight, her Sabbath School class took all the kids who could say the books of the Old Testament to Sweet Frog as a reward (they learned the books by singing a song that talks about ice cream, so ice cream seemed like the logical reward). She'd been looking forward to it forever and then a few days before, the teen "Stage and Screen Review Club" that Lexie and Ashlyn joined in our co-op group, sent out information about a performance of a Little Women Musical that they were going to. Needless to say, Lexie and Ashlyn wanted to go to that, but Little Bit would have been devastated to not get to go to Sweet Frog with her friends. Conveniently, even though the co-op we joined is in the next county over, and most things, including this play, are about 30 min. from us, the mom who's in charge of the Stage and Screen group lives near us, so she agreed to pick Lexie & Ashlyn up and take them with her and her daughter to the play. So everyone had a great day!

We finished off October by meeting friends at a park to play all afternoon on the 31st. These friends are a group of moms I know from an online group, and it's a bit of a drive, but there are toddlers for Lexie and Ashlyn to happily chase (plus the park we go to often has people walking their dogs, so Ashlyn has to meet every dog that walks by), and one of the families has a girl near Little Bit's age and they have a BLAST together! They bring their dolls and I don't know what all and play together happy as clams the whole time we're there.