Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Patience Field Trip

Weather being so wonderfully rainy this spring,  we had to be patient 
for a sunnier day in which to take a class on plant growth named
"Flower Power" from our local Arboretum.  It was a field
trip with some other home schoolers from our association
and it was well worth the wait!  Here are some photos
from that trip:

Patiently waiting for the trip to begin, we decided to
make the most of it and have a picnic at a park nearby first!

JSS and COS soaking in all the information
before they got to the more "hands on" portion of the class.
JSS bee-ing "pollinated" by the teacher's pet.
Listening to the classroom instruction like
the good students they are.  :)
Who doesn't love a photo of an grossly exaggerated
eye through a hand lens??
They got to plant a sunflower before
the class was over.  These are the same
ones they transplanted on the edge of
their Patience Garden at home.
(See previous post on Patience)
We got to explore the gardens for free after our
class.  The misters came on while we were 
walking through this section...
...which reminded the kids of Jurassic Park, so
the decided to play like dinosaurs were after them.
Check out JSS's flower goatee.  It was his specimen
from the class.  No flowers were picked/harmed
in the making of this merriment.
As soon as they saw the teepee in the pioneer village
section, they were off and running!  They loved our
Native American study last Fall.  :)
It was dreadfully HOT and HUMID this
day, so we sought shade where we could find it.
The water wasn't so bad at cooling us off, either!
Down was C O L D!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Memories

Yesterday we took the kids to a local lake known to be an exercise haven for the physically fit.  We had a picnic "in the grass" (that meant a lot to JSS and COS for some reason) while we watched sailboats glide past in the water, kayakers fish from their little boatlets and (ironically enough) a couple of kids with protective gear beat the mess out of one another for fun while their family watched as they grilled their lunch at a nearby picnic table.  It was great fun!

The purpose of our visit, however, went beyond that scenic lunch on the lake.  We had a vision.  A vision that included the five of us (JDS was working his first full day at his new job at the animal clinic!) biking all thirteen miles around the a family.  

Little bit o' background...COS just learned to ride a bike two months ago during Spring Break.  With all of the rain we have had this spring, she has NOT had a lot of opportunity to reinforce that learning.  In addition to that handicap, *I* have not ridden a bike since AMS was COS's age!  I didn't even own a bike anymore!  My sister, Angie, gave hers to JSS a couple of months ago and he very graciously let me borrow it for this ride.  It will be a few years before he is tall enough to handle a bike that big, but he is looking forward to the day in which he gets to repaint and remodel it like his Dad is doing.  :)  In the meantime, he is a great "sharer" and I am the grateful recipient of his generosity.

That said, we decided from the get-go that Simon would take the lead with JSS and AMS.  I would pull up the rear with COS.  *IF* at some point she was too taxed to go the entire 13 miles around the lake, then we would stop, enjoy the shade, people watch, enjoy the wildlife & landscape until the others completed our vision & came to pick us up.

What ended up happening is that the first three left us in their dust and about 1/3 of the way around, Simon turned back to check on us while AMS took charge of going on with JSS.  They enjoyed a great bike ride around the lake and some one-on-one time while they waited at our cars.  Simon and I made our way around at a slower pace with COS (age 6, mind you), stopping frequently for water breaks and a bit of rest.

Long story short, the girl made it around the entire lake!!!!  She had a stellar time and really enjoyed it!  AND SO DID I!  Not only that, we made it about 11 miles without incident at all!  That is quite an accomplishment for such a new rider, especially one with people, bikes and pets galore that you had to dodge the entire ride.  We are super proud of her!

What happened around mile 11?  We were crossing a long bridge, COS in the front, me encouraging her from behind.  When we got to the end of the bridge, you had to turn left or right immediately.  Straight ahead was a brick wall.  I said we were turning right.  I think there were just too many people in that direction and she ended up forgetting to use her breaks and WHAM!   You guessed it.  She went into the brick wall.  I saw it all, as if in slow motion, but I HEARD from my little distance the sound of her helmet smacking into the wall!  As a fellow biker who was right there and arrived at the scene of the accident seconds before Simon and me said, "THAT is why we wear helmets!"  (He was very sweet helping her.)  

I cannot say honestly that she came away from it unscathed.  The first thing I noticed was that her knee was purple immediately following the accident.  I honestly thought it was dislocated, but thankfully it is not.  She has an awful cut on one of her pointer fingers, a bruise on her cheek and a scrape on her chin.  She is sore and a little worse for the wear, but she also was able to get on her bike and ride the rest of the way to the car.  

God was VERY present, helping her, cheering her and even protecting her.  We are so thankful for His parenting of our kids.

Side note to that effect, each time COS really needed some water, we came across a water fountain...except for this one time where there was a sign that said "FREE WATER."  We stopped (read that, slammed on our breaks and almost caused a bike pile up) and asked why they were giving free water away to which we were told, "We just wanted to come out here today and share with you God's love."  We talked a moment while we drank (COS had almost an entire bottle!) and then thanked them.  While we were biking away, we were praising God with COS with how well God continually shows His great love for us.

And THAT is a great thing to remember.  

Monday, May 25, 2009

St. Jude's Fundraiser

We toured the St. Jude's Dream Home
in our area on Saturday.  Here are some
photos I took around the house in case
you would be interested in supporting
St. Jude's in support of eradicating childhood
brain cancer (which our son, Jude, died of 
at the age of 2 years in 2001).
Buying a ticket ($100) not only helps raise
the astounding $1.2 million a day it takes
to keep the hospital up & running 
(not to mention providing HOPE for a cure),
but it also gives you a 1/10,000 shot
at winning this amazing $439,000 dream home.
Upstairs media room
View from an upstairs bedroom of
the greenbelt behind the house from
which we spotted a roadrunner running
across the adjacent lot!  :)

My dream kitchen...(sigh)
Back of the house
There are side yards on both sides of
the house in addition to the one behind.
Part of the master bath
with a curtainless shower "room"
and ginormous walk-in closet
that can double as a safe place
in case of tornadoes.
COS looking from the window of the 
bedroom she wants if we win.  :)
She has her hands in a prayerful 
fold under her chin.  It was very precious.

Side view of the house

House features:

      - built by Graham Hart Home Builder
      - 3,576 heated square feet
      - four bedrooms
      - three and one-half baths
      - valued at approximately $439,000
      - granite countertops
      - stainless steel appliances with gas cooktop and custom wood hood
      - all cabinets locally custom made with rounded fluted corners and raised side panels and stained on-site
      - gas fireplace with logs
      - tile in all wet areas
      - study
      - game room
      - Texas garage vinyl windows
      - Tech Shield roof decking, blown cellulose wall insulation

Cultivating Patience

We had a four week unit study focusing on Patience earlier this spring, which included planning, planting and cultivating a Patience Garden.  We thought we'd share some pics from that study and let you all know that it is taking a long, long time to learn patience!  And you cannot learn patience in a vacuum--it REQUIRES more than one person, so this has INEVITABLY become a family study.

Background:  Simon grew up with backyard gardens.  I did not.  This is all new to me, so my important job has been to photo document the process, rub sore muscles, encourage tired weeders and medicate blisters.  :)  My favorite perch from which to do these things was our hammock, from which I got some great perspective shots.  Enjoy!

Tilling our virgin soil in the backyard

Elanor enjoying some frisbee fetching while 
the gardeners (like JSS below) prepared the earth.

Finished product included the benefits of
many man hours of mixing manure into the
soil so that it was nutrient rich and pesticide free.
(Yes, it smelled a wee bit ripe while they were doing it.)
Funny story about that...
They mixed a little of the soil in with a little manure
at a time in a large garbage can.  Same day they finished,
I went to check on JSS and COS in the back yard and 
guess what they were doing...taking turns rolling one
another around the backyard *IN* that same trash
can!  P-stinking-U!!!  (They enjoyed it, though.)
The gorgeous master mind behind the project
plotting the position of each plant before they
went into the ground.  He asked everyone what
they wanted and our garden consists of those
things we all wanted the most that cost
the most to buy to help us be good stewards 
(see previous unit study on Stewardship).
Lots of back-breaking work and sweat 
go into the making of a home garden.
COS most wanted strawberries
and grapes.  Of COURSE her
Daddy gave her her heart's desire.
Waiting for transplantation
I just love this shot simply because it relayed to
you the activity I got to witness from the hammock.
COS and JSS have LOVED this project I think 
the MOST of all of them this year.  Simon
has been very gratified by it, as well.  :)
Planting the tomatoes in their cages
Here is our newly planted
Patience Garden a couple of months 
...and the fruits of their labor by
Memorial Day!
LOVE this pic because JSS is in the background
planting his sunflower on the edge of the garden
while CSS is reading the instructions
aloud to me on the hammock.
Cucumber plant
Bell pepper
Wee little jalepeno, which when
JSS told me what it was proudly 
said, "That starts with a 'j,' Mom."
This may be another bell pepper.
It's so TEENY!
JSS's favorite...roma tomatoes.
Understand this, JSS does NOT like
tomatoes at ALL.  He literally gags
and has thrown up trying to get them
down his throat, but he said this morning
when I was taking pics,
"Mom, did you get pictures of the roma
tomatoes?  They are my favorite!  They're 
fuzzy like tarantulas!"
COS showing off the peppers to me
COS's strawberry plant
She picked and ate three this morning!
I love this pic because they kind of make the
shape of a heart with their bodies.
I think that's perfect since they love 
spending time out there in their
very own Patience Garden, even
if the time spent is weeding.  :)