Thursday, November 2, 2017

October, Part 2

For the third year in a row our church and a public elementary school in downtown Reading have teamed up to host a trunk or treat for the kids from that school and surrounding area. This is a school where almost all of the students qualify for free lunch. It is soo awesome to see these kids and their parents enjoying a family afternoon, appreciating the simple games and candy. Last year a local police officer had a trunk.This year we had two police car trunks AND the Bomb Squad truck as a "trunk"!! Of course, they passed out fire balls as their candy LOL. It was so cool! And great to see the kids high 5'ing and fist-bumping the officers, and getting their pictures taken with them. 

Little Bit had planned to be a unicorn, wearing her unicorn jacket, but it was HOT! Much too warm for a jacket. Thankfully one of the trunks offered face painting, so she was a cat instead LOL. 
A friend was manning her trunk alone with her baby & almost 2 yr old. Needless to say, it didn't take much arm twisting to convince me to help her out by cuddling the baby. Between Lexie, Ashlyn, and me, we kept her most of the afternoon! I think her big brother enjoyed getting some extra mommy snuggles and we ate up all the sweet baby snuggles!
The next day our homeschool co-op had a field trip to Paulus Orchard. We had a wagon ride through the orchards, then each kid got to pick 3 apples and choose a pumpkin. After that we could enjoy the "play area" for as long as we wanted.  
There was a "bounce pillow" that everyone got a turn on, then there were slides, "hamster wheels", pedal cars, a play house, rubber duck races, a "sand box" of corn kernels, a spider web to hang out on, giant hay bales stacked up so they could be climbed . . . It was a very fun day!  We finished up with Apple Cider Donuts from the shop, yum!
Later that week my parents came up to replace our second garage door. The one we replaced in June was rotting away and definitely needed to  be replaced. The other one was starting to rot  but could have survived another year or so BUT the original doors were dark green and the replacement door was white so we wanted to go ahead and replace the second one so they'd match. 

After that was done the girls and I went back to my parents house with them and, on Friday, headed to Summer's Farm Corn Maze in MD. It's a big corn maze that I took the girls to when they were toddlers but we hadn't been back since we moved away the spring Lexie & Ashlyn turned 5. So, 10 years later, we came back! 
While the kids loved all the extra activities when they were little, the corn maze itself was a bit frustrating. The theory is that every time you come to a decision point there's a numbered sign and you can answer a question to know whether turn left or right but in actuality there are a lot of unmarked decision points. With two toddlers, that was a bit of a disaster. This year was much more fun. They were bound and determined to "beat" the maze so all I had to do was follow along and not worry about getting lost since, after all, we'd get out eventually. It took us about an hour to make it through the 12 acre maze, so we'll call it a success :) We also enjoyed the activities they had like the "hamster wheel" (similar to the ones at Paulus Orchard except those weren't built into a "house' they traveled back and forth on a track, which was more fun.
Jumping on the bounce pillow. There was a group of boys playing football on it at one point. But they did pretty good at not plowing into other people so everyone had fun :) Can't believe even my "baby" is too tall for the "little kid" jump pillow now!
The "big slide" doesn't look nearly as big as it did when they were 4 either, and Lexie declared it not fast enough but Little Bit had fun and went down several times. 
We finished our time at Summer's Farm by visiting the petting zoo. The cow was soo friendly, and happy to have Ashlyn cuddle it :) 
Saturday we went to Woodlawn Manor in Sandy Spring, MD to go on an Underground Railroad trail and tour. I had assumed, based on the website, that they would show us routes and hiding places that were documented as having been used in the Underground railroad, or at least were strongly suspected of having been used, but in reality, the original owners of Woodlawn Manor were slave owners so, in a community that was predominantly Quaker, and therefore anti-slavery, they chose the one site known to NOT have been sympathetic to slaves, as the starting point of their tour. It was mostly just a hike through the woods, and meadows, stopping occasionally for the tour guide to talk about how things might have been, and tell stories of specific slaves who escaped (but in most cases went nowhere near the area where we were). It was interesting, just not what I was expecting, and I didn't feel it was worth the price. The tour ended at the site of the historic Sandy Spring that the town is named after. Land development in recent years has re-routed the spring so it no longer flows from it's historic point, but the monument is still there. We then hiked back at our own pace, and visited the small museum that is a part of Woodlawn Manor. 

On our way back to mom & dad's, we stopped in Gaithersburg to walk around a lake there. We didn't make it very far around the lake because the Hero Dogs organization was outside a restaurant soon after we started. They had dogs from a 7 week old puppy up to a 3 yr old ready to be placed. And were happy to let us love on their dogs, and have those old enough to have at least started the training process show off their "tricks". The dogs are trained to do things like pull a wheelchair or crutches over to you (which involves training them to pull without shaking their head like dogs instinctively do) pick up your keys or their leash, open and close drawers and cupboards . . . and they are also trained to help with anxiety. So if the trainer tapped his foot like someone might do subconsciously if they were worried, the dog would put her paw on his foot to calm him. When the trainer put his hands up to his face like he was scared or depressed, she jumped up into his face to get his attention. It was really interesting and the dogs were all super sweet :) 

After talking to the Hero Dog people, we headed on up the road to make sure we got to South Mountain Creamery by 4pm to help feed the calves. This never gets old! Since it was the weekend it was busier than we're used to, but each of the girls got to feed at least one calf. Ashlyn was frustrated that the calf she really wanted to feed (an adorable, TINY, Jersey calf) someone else had "claimed" but then just put the bottle in the "bottle holder" and stood there watching it eat. 
Rodney joined us at my parents' house Saturday night and Sunday we headed down to his mom's house to visit with her and Rodney's sister and brother-in-law. 

In other October news, all three girls joined our homeschool co-op's Chorus, so we're immersed in the Christmas songs they're learning. Little Bit is once again taking art classes twice a month, and we're hosting an American Girl Club once a month. Lexie & Ashlyn joined the tween/teen book club at co-op which meets once a month . . . so we're staying busy.

Other schoolish stuff this fall:
Little Bit is enjoying Waldorf Essential's Second Grade Curriculum (adapted to fit our eclectic style, of course)
Lexie and Ashlyn chose a "Who Dun It" writing course for this year. We're having fun reading classic mystery books and watching classic mystery shows while they plan out the "who dun it" novel they will complete by the end of the course. 
We've cycled back around to Ancient History, using Story of the World Vol 1 as our spine. The older girls are digging deeper into the more "scholarly"books on the topic and I get to hear tidbits of what they read. I had figured we'd just use the Saint and hero stories included in the Waldorf Essentials curriculum for Little Bit's history, but she is enjoying picture books related to what her older sisters are learning about Ancient History. 
Lexie continues to be fascinated by genetics and read horribly long books on the topic :) 
We're finishing up the Little House series of audio  books in the car, in between CDs related to Ancient History.
We're introducing Little Bit to the earlier Harry Potter books. We're all enjoying listening to the audiobook of the Sorcerer's Stone for bedtime, along with audiobooks for the teen book club and/or the Who Dun It course.

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