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 :)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Whirlwind of Christmas Field Trips

Jumping back to the beginning of December. Because why bother to blog in order, right? . . .

The girls and I spent the first several days of December in a whirlwind of Christmas field trips with my parents.

We started our whirlwind at Brookside Gardens. We visited the greenhouse in the afternoon, went to Chipotles for supper (it was right next to a Costco that's parking was in a parking garage. We were most amused at the contrast between that Costco and the Costco we normally shop at in Lancaster, complete with horse and buggy parking!). After supper we headed back to Brookside for their walk through light display!

I convinced Lexie to pose next to old Mr. Frog so I could compare it to another picture of I have of her with the same Mr. Frog from a few years ago . . . She's changed just a tad in the past 10 years :)

And while we're sharing old pictures . . . this one is from Brookside Gardens too, in the green house, 11 years ago.

And a couple more pictures from this year's Brookside Garden lights . . .

The next day we hopped on Metro and went into Washington DC. Our first stop was the National Greenhouse. Their "special" display this year was about the National Park sites and it was very cool! Though there seemed to be a disproportionate number of displays for west coast sites compared to east coast sites.  While we were at the Greenhouse we went through the permanent displays as well. Lexie entertained herself in the desert display by seeing if she could touch all the cacti without getting hurt, or something . . . 
Lexie and Little Bit humored me and posted together in front of the National Park Tree (As hlyn was in a "no pictures" mood. I've joked that 100 years from now people looking back over the picture record of our life would assume she vanished at age 12 or thereabouts LOL. Little Bit also posed for me in the "Train" . . . isn't if fun? 

When we were done at the National Greenhouse we headed to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I had an ulterior motive, a few years ago when we were at this museum, Little Bit found a giraffe Christmas ornament in the gift shop that she HAD to have. I humored her, and she LOVED it but it somehow vanished during our move last year. I'm sure it will show up again someday, but in the meantime, she was very sad to not have it, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to at least check and see if they still had them (I didn't mention it to her until I'd made sure they did). She was VERY excited to get a replacement ornament. As you might have noticed from the pictures, she kinda likes giraffes.
By the time we left the museum it was getting close to dark, so we went ahead and headed down the mall to catch a glimpse of the National Christmas Tree, and all the state-decorated trees. I have to admit, most years, I'm not overly impressed with the national Christmas Tree, and look forward more to seeing how all the school kids have decorated the state trees, but this year's national tree was GORGEOUS!!! So simple, and patriotic (it's hard to tell in the picture, but the little lights are red, white and blue), and just plain PRETTY! Which isn't to say I didn't also enjoy the state trees. It's always fun to see what the different states, mostly school kids, though some states have a specific artist, or art studio, to do their ornaments, come up with.
After seeing the trees, we headed back to Metro. On our way into the city, Little Bit had caught sight of "a big panda with Christmas lights". We'd been in a hurry to catch a train, so hadn't taken time to check it out then, but at her request, we hunted it down before heading home, and got her picture with it. As you can see, it's a rather creative advertisement for the National Zoo's light display :) 

And finally, the reason we chose this particular weekend for our field trips. Harper's Ferry's Old Time Christmas. The whole town was decorated, and had re-inactors around. It was fun. We enjoyed a harp concert at the church, visited the horses, and learned some interesting information about how they train horses to be "re-inactors" (have to teach them to not mind the gunshots and such). . . saw a shooting demonstration. A demonstration of how they baked bread . . . lots of interesting stuff.

The last thing of the day, was a Civil War dance demonstration. We poked our head in the tent to check it out, and . . . stayed until the last dance was done. Lexie jumped right in and danced every dance. By the last dance, one of the instructors sought her out specifically and asked if she wanted to dance with him and be the "lead couple" because he needed someone who could follow the steps, and keep up a good pace. She loved it! It took longer for Ashlyn and Little Bit to decide to join in, but once they did, they had a blast as well. One of the dancers found out, in conversation, that we're from the Lancaster area, so told Lexie that they are from Lancaster, and offer free dance classes in Jan-March in Harrisburg . . . so that's how we knew to go to the dance class a couple weeks ago. :)