Saturday, December 27, 2008

cell pictures

The holidays are going smoothly. Could use a lot more sleep and a little less mess but all in all a fairly stress-free Christmas. My mom and dad got in on Tuesday night and Christmas Eve we went to the skating rink for Katie to show off her new moves. Then we popped dinner in the oven and headed to the early service at UUCA. This is the first time in many years that Katie and Zack were not in the church pageant. It was interesting to be an audience member and to stay through the whole service without having to show up early and leave early to straighten angel wings or wrap headscarves on shepherds.

We had a nice evening with very excited children. I got no sleep that night for reasons unknown and (with prodding from grandma the night before) Zack and Katie were up at 6am to see what Santa left. We opened presents, ate breakfast, sent gma and gpa on their way to LI then opened the next wave of presents.

After lots of playing and assembling of various items, we headed off to the Korean buffet for lunch and then to see Despereaux. We all liked the movie very much. Afterward, Zack was feeling a bit throaty and had spiked a bit of a fever, so we got him some meds and he went off to bed early. Katie joined Pete and me in watching the end of Ben Hur then we sent her off to bed and watched Casablanca before getting to bed early ourselves.

Pictures of the day are on Pete's cell phone, so won't post those for a bit. Here are some random pictures from my cell phone that I never downloaded.


These are all from a corn maize that I took the kids and their friends to. The one above is Katie and her best friend Anna Marie Rosina, who is moving soon and they are both very sad :-(. Johnno, a friend from TKD, is in the shots of all the children.


In Switzerland, Pete and Christine found cookies with smiley faces on them called Spitzbuben. We found Spitzbuben cheese in Whole Foods and had to take a picture for Aunt Christine to see.



Couldn't get very good shots, but this is one of the 100 carved pumpkins we saw at a local display right before Halloween. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

History

The National Museum of American History re-opened last week after a two year renovation. I wasn't sure I was making a good decision to take the kids on opening day, but it turned out great.

We skipped the ribbon cutting. I would have liked to hear Colin Powell read the Gettysburg Address, but didn't think it would be that interesting for the kids at 8:30am on a cold November day. Plus, the museum wouldn't open for an hour after the ceremony.

We got to town about 9:45am, easily found parking right outside the museum and by the time we walked over, there was no line and plenty of gifts still available. The kids got silly top hats and we all got flag pins and tote bags that you can wrap up into a small package for compact storage.

There were costumes characters and lots of excitement in the air. The science experiment room was running programs all day long and generally during a weekday, we don't get to participate unless they are expecting a school crowd. Zack experimented with electricity and Katie extracted cow DNA.

Nanci went on Monday and we agreed that it doesn't knock you out like we'd expect an $85 mil upgrade to do. We had actually seen the re-done Presidents, War and transportation upgrades before they closed in 2006. Katie and Zack did like the new hands-on inventors section but I miss the hands on history room where you could ride one of those bikes with the big front wheel and make rope, etc. That seems to be gone now and it's too bad that they would eliminate the history while adding the science aspect. No room for both in the $85 mil?

In any case, I was glad we went on opening day. The kids had a great time and only wanted to leave after 4 hours, when we got too hungry to concentrate any longer.


Katie and Zack with Martha Washington


Katie working the circuit


Zack tries to light up

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Zack gets some shocking results

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catching up

Here are pictures from Halloween:



Katie was Wednesday from The Addams Family and Zack was the Grim Reaper's apprentice. He was originally planning to be the Grim Reaper himself. I told him the GR has a scythe but he insisted on a sword. Then, ofcourse, saw a show with a scythe-bearing GR and wanted to change props. Too late! The sword was already purchased.

Katie wanted to Trick-or-Treat with her soon to be moving best friend, so we went to her neighborhood. Much better than ours, less hilly and many more houses participating. Pete stayed at our house to hand out candy, but we only got about 6 knocks at the door and were left with POUNDS of candy. That has now turned into POUNDS of fat around my waist. Nice.

The elections have come and gone, did you know ;-) Our guy won and Katie and Zack were very understanding. They had to occupy themselves outdoors while I handed out sample ballots at the polls and then, later, knocked on doors to get out the vote. I let them stay home for the door piece as long as they called me every half hour (two calls).

Pete and I watched the maps turn blue as the night wore on and hugged, cried and danced from the election call at 11pm until, hours later, when VA went blue and then for the speeches. McCain was suitably classy in his speech but I think the boos of the crowd tell the tale of the kind of campaign he ran. I don't think it reflected well on his long career and the thoughtful Republicans I know-who I can't imagine booing at an event like that.

We woke the kids to see the Obama speech. They didn't fully wake up, but they get to say they saw it when their kids ask about it.

Friday, the weather was an amazing 70 deg and sunny so we grabbed a couple of friends and headed out to a corn maze in The Plains. It was fun, but Zack was surprisingly short tempered. That was explained that evening when he complained of an earache.

Otherwise, we've been doing the regular stuff--TKD, Scouts, yoga, art class, math and writing.

Zack had to give a speech last night at Boy Scouts. He was very nervous about it and procrastinated for two weeks. Yesterday he spent most of the day writing the speech and did a great job delivering it at the meeting.

Here's his speech, really the first essay he's ever had to write:

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My family took a trip to Niagara Falls. We took this trip in an RV. We went to see friends in Rochester. The next day we got to Niagara Falls, Canada and went to “Niagara’s Fury,” “Journey Behind the Falls” and wax museums. The next day, we went on the Maid of the Mist and the Whirlpool Walk.
While mom and dad were picking up the RV, Katie (my sister) and I were burning up because it was so hot outside! I didn’t sit down because the plastic benches were too hot, but Katie didn’t seem to mind.
That night, we boondocked at Walmart. Boondocking is when you don’t hook up to electric, water or sewer.
Two days later we visited friends in Rochester. They had two boys named Griffin and Myles. They had a Ben 10 Ultimate Omnitrix toy that I played with practically the whole time!
The next day we went to Canada. Then we saw Niagara Falls. I thought they were cool. The first thing we did was see a 4D movie called “Niagara’s Fury.” 4D means that it has special effects that make it feel more lifelike as if it’s really happening to you.
The next thing we did was “Journey Behind the Falls” which is network of tunnels that goes through the bedrock and leads directly behind the Falls. In “Journey Behind the Falls” there were holes in the ends of the tunnels so you could look behind the Falls, there were about two or three of them.
The last thing we did that day we see two wax museums. The first wax museum was called Ripley’s Believe it or Not Wax Museum. The second wax museum was Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which is wax statues of famous actors and some of them were put together as in scenes from movies or shows, like, for example, Alien—the part where the woman is hiding behind a wall with a gun but the alien is on the other side of the open doorway.
The next day we went on The Maid of the Mist, which is a boat that goes so close to the Falls that the mist is so thick you can barely see anything and we got soaked! We also went on the whirlpool walk, which is a walkway that guides you along the whirlpool rapids. You can see a whirlpool come up every once in a while if you look close enough.
The next day, we headed home.
Although it was a great trip, I sure wish we didn’t have to do it in an RV, because it was so crowded in there! But I really do hope I can go there again because I wanted to go see the Mystery Get Lost Maze but we didn’t have enough time.

Meanwhile, Katie's skating teacher had warned she needed to vastly improve her left back crossovers and T stops if she wanted to pass her test the following week. We added extra practice sessions to our week and last night--She Passed! This is a very big deal as most kids take this level at least twice. She scraped by on her T stops and the teacher rubbed that in, which sucked much of the joy of passing from Katie's evening but I know she will work on them. And really, does the coach have to act as if all the girls are Olympic hopefuls? On to the next level and a new teacher.

We almost bought an RV last weekend. We loved a lot about it but the more we researched, the less of a fit it was. So, we will keep looking, learning more about what we can get in our price range.

Today is gray and damp. Zack and I are both throaty and we can all use a morning at home taking our time getting things done. Grab a sweater and enjoy the falling of the leaves.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boston

Katie, Zack and I spent a few days in Boston a week ago so they could see Gma and Gpa N. and I had a nice visit with Julie.

We arrived Saturday morning and went straight to Julie's. Katie and Ruby are pen pals and were looking forward to a F2F visit. Zack played with Zane's toys but wasn't especially good at playing with Zane :-( Unlike Katie, Zack doesn't have much patience for younger children.) So, eventually, Julie and I helped Zane make delicious brownies.

Once with their grandparents, the kids went on a whirlwind tour of Boston. They visited the NE Aquarium, the Harvard Natural History Museum, the Mapparium, the Mayflower and the Museum of Science. They also got to visit with Aunt Rosette, Aunt Christine and Uncle Bruce.

They received digital cameras and made a lot of movies about their trip and took a few pictures. And went through a lot of batteries!



Julie and I got some grown up time together as John had Ruby and Zane on Saturday and we dropped off Katie and Zack in Wellesley. We went to a former colleague's restaurant, Alia, and had a wonderful meal, got to see pictures of their beautiful new baby girl and had a chance to catch up.

A highschool friend of Julie's joined us on Sunday and we had a great brunch and fun talking together. It was nice to have dinner with Ruby and Zane and then Julie and I ran out to a meeting leaving a babysitter to put the kids to bed.

Monday, I stayed out of the way as best I could during the morning rush and had a nice day of doing a whole lot of nothing. I don't miss Boston at all, even less than I had imagined and didn't have any desire to head into the city to reminisce. I met up with Bruce and Christine for dinner and it was nice to relax with them in their great home, head out for some of the best Mexican food I've ever had in Boston and to meet their adorable kitty, Mina. I even got Christine's recipe for Guacamole--yum!

Tuesday I had business meetings in the afternoon and hit the nearby New Balance Outlet afterwards where I scored new sneakers for $10, leaving me enough money to also buy skorts and a top. Nice!

Then it was over to Wellesley on Wednesday (10/22) to pick up the kids, say goodbye and thank you to Gma and Gpa and catch a flight home to Pete who we missed a lot. I really don't enjoy Boston as a city without Pete. He still has places he likes to go back to and I enjoy his enjoyment being back on native soil.

Good to be home and back to the "regular" routine, which last week included Zack's TKD belt test (he's now a black stripe), their UUCA sex education class--which brought up several hard to answer questions and a look at a real condom (!)--a wedding, and Boo at the Zoo--our last, I think. We also started in on our new math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks. I don't think it's as challenging as Math U See but they are doing it willingly every day and it's nice for it not to be a misery for the moment.

This week, Pete is working on the church auction, we will carve pumpkins today, and tomorrow is Halloween! I'll be working the polls for the election. Fall weather is in full swing but for the most part it is sunny and crisp, my favorite fall days.

Tell us about your adventures or at least who you are and how you found our little blog here. I see a lot of dots on our map in exotic places. Who's there?


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Monday, October 06, 2008

Katie's Locks of Love

Katie has been growing her hair for about a year and a half to donate to Locks of Love. You need to have 10" of the longest layer in order to donate it and she's been getting sick of taking care of the knots every morning, so was glad to hear that it was finally long enough to cut:



In other news, what have we been up to?

Since Niagara Falls, we've started Scouts, tried a class at the Nature Center in Riverbend Park, which turned out to be too basic to bother making the 30 min trip each week. I started Yoga again and Katie and Zack are now old enough to swim in the pool on their own while I take my class. Zack is still in TKD and Katie started the next level of her ice skating lessons.

We took a short trip to see Gma and Gpa in NC. There was only one warm enough day for the beach, but it was nice. I wrote a proposal while the kids were busy and also made a short trip to Fayetteville to see Heatherann, recently returned from deployment in Iraq.

This past weekend, Pete and Zack spent Saturday night camping with the Boy Scouts, who do fall camping in tents and hour away. Next weekend, Katie and I will be "camping" with the Girl Scouts in a civilized lodge setting, 20 minutes away. The girls (well, the leaders anyway) don't do tents until the much warmer spring.

The following two weekends, the kids and I will head to Boston, where they will visit with Gma and Gpa and I'll get some time with Julie and the WGBH crew.

Then there's a wedding and, ofcourse, Halloween. And there goes October!

The leaves aren't quite turning here, but I hope to see some color up north and am happy for the cooler, mosquito-free, days we're having.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Niagara Falls

Just back from our trial RV trip to Syracuse, Rochester and Niagara Falls...

Slowly I turned...(it's about 4 minutes in)

(We crossed the Susquehanna river as well.....Susquehanna hat company!)


We picked up the RV on Saturday morning and spent the next few hours filling it up with our stuff. It was a lot of stuff and this was just for a week--how are we going to pare down enough for a long trip? Next we headed towards Syracuse in what Pete described as the cruise ship on the highway.

We didn't know in advance when we would be able to hit the road and didn't want to over do it on the first day, so the plan was to boondock (stay somewhere with no water/electric/sewer hook ups) wherever we decided to stop that night. Walmart allows boondocking at a lot of its stores and, sure enough, when we pulled in there were already at least 15 other RVs settling down for the night.

With making dinner in a tiny kitchen and having to wash the dishes after every meal, the night goes by pretty quickly and we were in bed early to the (not so) lulling sounds of the diesel engines folks ran all night.

Next day we went the rest of the way to Syracuse and spent the afternoon with Sal and Sherene, old college friends of Pete's. Their oldest has taken up the drums and Pete gave a mini master class down the basement. We had a campsite in Rochester, so we reluctantly hit the road after a great dinner.

The site in Rochester was much better than the Walmart and Pete and I handled the hookups with no trouble. Next morning it was time to DUMP THE TANKS--not something we were looking forward to. We had the kids observe, since this will occasionally be their job on the long trip. It went off without a hitch! Not even too gross, especially with good thick gloves on. A good start and lighter tanks meant better mileage.

Monday was spent with former Boston friends Lisa and Dave and their great kids. We chatted, ate lunch and then headed for a nearby beach on Lake Ontario. What a great idea! The kids all got along well and didn't mind the frigid water. The adults sat on the beach and caught up some more.



We went back to their house for pizza and then Dave and Pete had a jam session down the basement for a while. Lisa, Katie and I went down to watch and Katie joined the guys for a few Beatles songs--she's a natural!

I had the pleasure of backing us out of our parking space and driving back to the campsite through the construction in the dark. I was able to ungrip my hands from the wheel by the next morning!

Next morning--Off to Niagara and the tight quarters and packed schedule was beginning to take its toll. However, we did get to Niagara, suitably impress the kids with how big they are, got our Adventure Passes and went to the new Niagara's Fury and the Journey Behind the Falls, both of which the kids enjoyed and were very cool.



Pete took a break and the kids and I went to my favorite kitsch--WAX MUSEUMS! We chose Ripley's Believe it or Not and Louis Tussauds. Awful and totally fun. Katie and Zack were talking all afternoon about going to Dracula or Frankenstein's castle or to the Nightmare exhibit but I knew I had steered them right when we got to the "scary" part of Tussauds, which consisted of 5 figures of movie monsters. They were both terrified and clung onto me for dear life!





We met up with Pete to check in at the campsite and hook up to have a quiet night of dinner, fooling around on a funny cakes blog and heading to bed. Katie and Zack also played with the little girl from the neighboring campsite.

Wednesday--
This was supposed to be our big vacation day. However, we had been having ongoing problems trying to check the tire pressure, something we are supposed to do every morning. The front passenger tire was looking kinda flat, so we took our new truck pressure gauge (found out on Monday that the one we had for the car didn't go high enough) and headed off to find enzymes for the Black Water Tank--it's what you think it is--and to find a gas station with air.

Enzymes found and added. Air, not so much. There were strange stems on the wheels and the problem tire had one that air out faster than you could put it in. After several minutes, and quarters in the till, we got it up to a reasonable pressure and got a late start to the day.

But what a day! First stop was the White Water Walk, then off to the Maid of the Mist. This is when homeschooling is its most cool--no lines or waiting. We were able to be right up front and get very soaked in the process. Not a problem since we were wrapped up in plastic raincoats that got VERY hot while we waited for the boat to depart. We had terrific weather throughout the trip and it was nice to get a blast of water from the falls every now and again.

The only down side was our late start and then finding out that the shuttle to the parking lot, most of the attractions and the people mover all close at 5pm. We rushed over to the Butterfly Conservatory, only to realize we had no time to see anything and make the last bus back. But, good news! The conservatory had its own parking lot. Back on the bus to head back to the camper and go have dinner. I was irritated about everything closing so early, but when we got back to the main falls area there was an amazing rainbow, so it was a stroke of luck after all.



Katie and I really wanted to see the waterfall light show, but where to park the rig? I came up with a plan to get the kids in their PJs and do a couple of drive bys. But when I shared the idea with our neighbors, they suggested we use their car. Nice, considering they had just met us the day before. They are Dutch and have been living in Canada for about 4 years. Katie kept an eye on their 3 year old at the camp playground and we chatted on and off. What a nice offer and Pete and I said yes. So, we were able to see the falls on foot and also peer into the IMAX daredevil display, where they keep all the barrels everyone took over the falls.









The last day at the falls we went over to the Butterfly Conservatory but first, Pete squeezed us into a parking spot at the Whirlpool section to see the whirlpools and the Aero car. Katie and both agreed that this is not the ride for us. The kids were not very impressed by the whirlpools and I remembered them spinning more. Maybe the water levels were low?

The Butterfly Conservatory was stunning. I have NEVER seen that many butterflies in one place. The most important thing was to watch where you stepped. Pete, Katie and Zack all had butterflies land on them, but I guess I wasn't sweet enough that morning.







We called customer service for the rig and got an appt to get the tires and fridge fixed that afternoon on the NY side. Going through customs was easy and it was fun to hand over our passports. Not too fun to wait for the fix, but there was a Walmart nearby the shop and we needed to restock snacks and water, so we killed some time in the store.

Then we headed home. Zack asked if we could go to a campsite instead of a Walmart that night, so I found us a site with no hook ups once Pete was sick of driving.

Our last stop before home was Pittsburgh and I wish we'd had more time to spend there. Definitely going back. We stopped at the Children's Museum. where Pete magically squeezed us into another parking space. I'm generally unimpressed with Children's museums but this one was very nice. A lot of hands on activities and, ofcourse, a large Mr. Rogers section (the show was filmed at the Pittsburgh PTV station).



Too early we had to hit the road for home. We were worried about the impending hurricane weather but got lucky that it held off until Saturday.

We learning a LOT. Primarily about over scheduling and having a plan for what to do when nerves run high. We're also a lot more knowledgeable about how an RV works and rides on the road. Katie and Zack had a blast, their only complaint being the amount of driving we did.

So--plans for the big trip continue!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Places

We've been going places.

I don't know if I mentioned that right before Zack's failed camp experience, I loaded the bikes onto my car and we spent a few days in NC with Gma and Gpa. It was great weather and we spent a good amount of time on the beach. Too bad it had to be so short, since we thought we had to be back for Zack's trip. I remembered to take a picture this time:


On mom and dad's new front lawn

Two weeks ago, I called Nanci to see if she would like some lunch guests and off we went to Gettysburg for the morning (which turned into the afternoon). From now on I will take a page from Nanci's book and not give the kids the details on the day.

Katie and Zack really like places like Gettysburg, but it was hard to get them into the experience at the new visitor's center and museum because they were so anxious to get to Nanci's and see their friends. Next time, I won't tell them about the visit.

Once we started the auto tour (we did the 4 hour tour in about an hour and a half) they had a great time and were irritated I was rushing them through.

We had a nice lunch and visit with the Marts and it was a fun day all around, if a long drive for me. I didn't bring a camera and left my phone in the car most of the day, so have no pictures from the day at all.

Last week Gadsby's Tavern was holding a homeschool day. We could visit Gadsby's and get a tour, the Lyceum with a short walking tour of Alexandria and Friendship Firehouse all for $5 per child and adults were free. It was fun but I didn't want to miss Tae Kwon Do that day because this week was test week (more on that later). So--we ran out of time at the end of the day and never made it to the Firehouse. Still, it was a good deal, we got to see some HS friends we haven't seen for a while, met some new people and the kids had a great time.


Katie dressed up--she also got to make a mob cap from a giant coffee filter (just sew around the edges) but this one is cloth.


Zack is sporting a tri-cornered hat he made.
There were also colonial games and toys to play, not shown in this photo though. I was able to catch the ball in the cup a few times.

Pete's band played a show in a DC park and so the kids and I had a rare chance to see them play. It was hot and sticky and still very fun.

Some time last week we went to the Baltimore Zoo. Hadn't been for years. I always remembered it as being much bigger than the National Zoo but it turns out that it was just that the kids were so small! It was very manageable. We got to try out our new Science Museum membership, which works with ASTC museums (science and kids) and also AZA zoos. Worked like a charm and we visited at no charge. Yay! That way, the price of lunch didn't seem so out of reach.

Katie and Zack got to feed a giraffe which was pretty cool and there was a petting zoo with goats to brush. Our zoo technically has that too, but it's only been staffed one time that we've visited, so it's a let-down.









This Monday, the Newseum had a summer deal where kids got in free with a paying parent. A real deal--normally kids are $13 a piece. Katie was not thrilled about going and whined a good deal about it but we all enjoyed the museum and spent all day there and still didn't get to everything. They had newspapers dating back to the 1400s, lots of video on different subjects and a whole floor devoted to Sept 11 which included the antennae from the top of one of the towers. I knew that on the floor just below that were technicians from a lot of the TV networks, including PBS, none of whom made it out that day so it was an eerie sight. The kids wanted to watch the video of the coverage from that day and I sat for about 10 minutes and then had to leave.

It's a great museum but very pricey, so I'm glad we found out about the deal being offered.

Katie and Zack were invited to the MD Renaissance Festival for a friend's birthday. Pete and I got a day to ourselves and went on a picnic to munch on cold chicken and play some Scrabble (I killed!). Plus, we didn't need to go to the Ren Fest ourselves--not a favorite. K&Z had a great time.


Zack's "Renaissance" face painting.

Tuesday was the end of summer party for the Boy Scouts. Where did the summer go? It's not really over for us though. We have a vacation coming up and will enjoy more museums and sites around town in this empty time when kids are in school but not yet on field trips. Great times for homeschoolers!

Today, it's rainy so we are having a lazy morning and probably a lazy afternoon--except for the dreaded math!!!!

Katie and Zack feed a giraffe (I'm still getting used to my cell phone, it's not easy to remember which way you have to hold it to get the picture the right way....)

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No Boy Scout Camp

You may have read about the Boy Scout camp at Goshen closing. Well, this was Zack's troop's week to go--the final week of camp, so no do-overs...

Zack was pretty disappointed about the camp fiasco. He was VERY nervous about going the night before and had a little cry about it. By morning, he had screwed up his nerve and was excited about going.

We put him on the bus at 10am on Sunday and headed home. We had hoped to make it to church where the Rev. was going to speak to the events in TN but would have gotten there too late.

Two hours--yes two--we get a call that they have closed the camp due to E coli and have turned the buses around possibly to another BS camp, more info to come. We hear they have arrived at camp Snyder and can't be accommodated, we need to drive an hour to go pick them up.

So--4 hours on the road for the kids to arrive...BACK HOME!!!

Zack was very disappointed. Our leaders belong to the local pool and they arranged for a pool party/BBQ to have something nice for the boys and families. They are so good to the kids, we're very lucky to have them.

I feel especially bad for the leaders, who had taken time off work and put in a lot of time getting everything ready. What a mess!

So, Zack unpacked his bag today. :-(

Katie is signed up for a sewing class all week--what I though was a brilliant piece of scheduling synergy--so now I have to shuffle her while still getting Zack to his regular activities and my 3 hours of free time each day this week is gone. Bummer.

We're in the midst of planning our Labor Day camper trip, so that's helping diminish the disappointment for Zack--and Katie too, who was looking forward to her chance to be an only child for a week. I'm irritated that we came home from the beach on Friday because of the trip when we could have stayed longer if we'd known and maybe even made it to church on Sunday.

I understand the safety issues involved, just irritated they waited until the kids were on the bus to close when the camp was empty from 7am the previous morning.

Still, it's nice to have Zack home :-)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Finches

We have seriously ugly wild plants in our front garden.

When they first come in they are fine, with pretty yellow flowers. Then they keep growing...and growing...and growing and the flowers dry up. Just when I decide I need to yank them out, the finches (I think they're finches) come back to eat the seeds. And then I remember why I let these plants come back every year.

Aren't they beautiful?







Friday, June 27, 2008

Folk Art Fest

I had a nice plan in place. Get to the Folk Art Festival on the National Mall early, stay for a couple of hours and leave before the heat set in.

Katie and Zack had other ideas.

First, We were to meet friends at 10am. Traffic was unexpectedly thick and spaces that used to be public free parking around the mall are now marked as permit only, so we met more like 10:30. It was pleasantly cool out, and the place was pretty empty--perfect! Then the info booth woman told us the fest started at 11am--not perfect! But not terrible either. We went into the Castle and enjoyed the air conditioning for a while.

It was hotter at 11am and lots of people had sprung out of the ground. We still had a great time at the Bhutan family tent making prayer wheels (please spin clockwise) and the temple where Zack listened to and watched the playing of two long silver horns and Katie and Abby waited for a monk to tie colorful strings on their wrists (have to look up what that means).



We went over to NASA and the girls launched balloon rockets to Mars and Saturn and the kids all waited for a LONG time in line to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet and talk to a test pilot.


Right to plan, our friends left to grab some food and go home.

However, Katie and Zack were no where near the end of their visit. I headed back to the car to feed the meter and put the prayer wheels away. I also grabbed the large umbrella for portable shade in the increasing heat. Zack thought the umbrella would look foolish, but I preferred cool shade to looking cool.

We ended up staying another two hours as the temp rose to 90 degrees! But they had a lot of fun seeing everything at NASA and stomping grapes at Texas wine making, good for cooling off hot feet. I wish I could have done it. Katie knew just what to do with her skirt for the stomping, having seen Lucy do it on TV!



We've gone to the festival for several years now but this is the first time K&Z really wanted to see everything and took the lead on a lot of what we did. It was great.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shared Experiences

Today, while Katie was at her art class, Zack looked over books I had taken out of the library last week. [Having random items around the house to pique kids' interest is called strewing in unschooling lingo.]

He was looking at a body book and I picked up the philosophy book. He then took an interest in that book and we had a nice conversation about the ancient Greeks, philosophy, science and ethics. We talked about why the Pythagorean theorem was important, why you can't step in the same river twice, a bit about cloning and tabula rasa and a few other bits and pieces about the Greeks. I mentioned I'd been a philosophy major in college.

A great unschooling moment right? Yes! But when this happens when one of the kids is missing, I always feel badly and am tempted to recreate the conversation later for the missing child. These recreations always flop since I'm the one then forcing info onto the child who was absent rather than spontaneously chatting with an interested child. So, this time I made an effort to let it go and trust that if Katie wants to know about philosophers later on, she will bring it up.

But it's hard to resist the urge to "teach!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On to Double Digits

The tent came down from the dining room in about three days, it dried out surprisingly well!

I threw together several Girl Scout meetings while working long hours but we got a good deal of badge work done. Most of the girls earned about 6-8 badges this year and a good number of patches. I won't be leading the troop next year, since our plans are so up in the air about the RV trip, so not sure where Katie will be going for GS. The older cadette troop at the local school seems to have fallen apart and there are really only two girls remaining in the current Jr. troop. However, the only thriving homeschool troop is in Reston, which is a haul and also full of girls that Katie would never see any other time. Will wait until the fall to make any decisions.

Zack moved up to Weblos II last night. Sadly, it rained on the celebration/pool party and the guys never got to swim. It's been a pretty rainy season for the Boy Scouts lately. We also got massively rained on at last weekend's yard sale and that night's camp out was canceled. The rain did hold off on the one event I agreed to plan for the boys, a nature walk. We got to see a fox den, which was fun. We also got surprised by a snake, which was fun for some, but not for all!

The two weeks leading up to my work event was hectic and Katie and Zack were real troupers about keeping themselves busy and bending with the ever-changing schedule around conference calls.

We were able to make it to most of our activities--TKD, Katie's ice skating lessons and practice (Zack comes to practice too, nice group of kids and a HS discount), Scouts, Art class and a few play dates here and there. We also managed to take the CAT test and send it in to be graded. The kids passed with flying colors and so are now 5th graders!


Katie skating


Zack Skating

The event I'd been working on, PBS Showcase, was in Palm Desert. I dropped the kids off at my folks on May 8, then took three flights to CA. Got to see Aunt Fran, Uncle Mike and Richard in Palm Desert, which was a nice break from the hotel and conference. Got back to NC on 5/15. Headed home again on 5/17.

The plan was to stop off at my friend who cuts our hair in her downstairs salon and then go home with fresh cuts. Unplanned was the discovery of nits in our heads YIKES! So, instead of a nice cut and a relaxing few days after all the work and travel, instead we headed home to nitpicking, vacuuming, laundry and more laundry, pesticides and putting lots of toys in bags.

Then it was two weeks of laundry every day, looking through heads and more vacuuming. The house looks great though.

During that ordeal, it was great to get away for the kids' 10th birthday trip to NYC. They had agreed to this trip in lieu of a party. We took Katie to the pinnacle of all girldom--the American Girl Place. Zack gamely went to breakfast at the store with us and was very relieved to see that he was not the only brother in the room. We looked around the entire store and Katie spent every cent of the birthday money from us and from Aunt Carrie and Uncle Phil.

Payback for Zack was a meal at Jekyll and Hyde's a restaurant in the Village where, every 10 minutes or so, one of the statues on the wall does a little show. We were pleased to be there for the Frankenstein monster to lower down from the ceiling. We were also glad that we had that lunch on our first day. Overnight, a nearby water main broke and tangled up that part of town for the rest of the weekend. We also went to the big Toys R Us in Times Square so Zack could spend his birthday money, which he did. We also rode the ferris wheel inside the store.

There's never enough time to do all we want to in NYC, but we did go to Economy Candy (and have been all hyped up on sugar ever since), the Doughnut Plant, rode the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, walked around SoHo and had dinner in Little Italy. Sadly, that dinner was very late and Zack's stomach objected to it that night. :-p Zack felt better the next day so we went to the Central Park Zoo for a while before driving home. It was nice to have the hotel wash our bed linens for a weekend too!


Katie having breakfast with her American Girls


Zack with a friend at the Toys R Us


On the Staten Island Ferry


Hatching out of turtle eggs at Central Park

Meanwhile, back in NC, my dad was having his carotid artery cleaned out. His surgery went well, despite a slight complication, but they had to change their plans to travel to us and the Ebel's in June :-( Hoping their travel plans for July will remain unchanged.

We're kind of back to our "normal" routine now. Finishing out the school-year activities with Scouts and such. We'll continue with Art and TKD through the summer. Katie will be going to sleep away Girl Scout camp right after July 4th and Zack will be going to sleep away Boy Scout camp in August. Pete's band tour starts June 25 for two weeks.

We are trying to keep the lawn trimmed and the weeds at bay in the yard and I'm still thinning out our things in preparation for the RV trip. And then there's the ivy, the downstairs bathroom, the painting, the never-ending basement cleanup and a million other projects to keep us busy for the summer and beyond.

Hope the sun is shining on you and the summer is long.

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