Sunday, June 05, 2011

The half-yearly update

I always plan to regularly update the blog, but never quite get to it.  So, here's a bit of what we've been up to the past 6 months.

Another new year, which we rang in at home with my mom.  We are fairly boring folks for NYE, but we had a nice fish dinner, watched the ball drop and had some sparkling cider.  Katie and Zack stayed up right until midnight, I think for the first time, and then we were all tucked in by 12:30am!

We started the year with our regular routine of math (Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra), Italian (Rosetta Stone), handwriting and chores twice a week (although the kids are dismayed that daily making of beds, doing laundry and dealing with the trash don't fall under Mon/Fri chores).  Katie continued Girl Scouts, a Warrior Cat Club and art classes. Zack started an historical sword fighting class, which he really enjoyed and we will be looking for more swordplay opportunities for fall.  He continued Tae Kwon Do and both kids went skating on the weeks Katie did not have GS.

We also attended Virginia Tech's Kid's Tech classes once a month from Jan-April. This was a great program and took some of the mystery of college away.  Our favorite travel companions, Jeannie and Johno, were also going so we shared hotel and travel expenses and it also made the travel more fun.

The first session was in late Jan.  Sadly both Katie and Zack got headcolds once we got there, and had a hard time fully enjoying the activities.  We did enjoy trying fried pickles at dinner.

February... a blur.  I know we ran around a lot and my birthday came and went.  We went to VA Tech the end of the month.  We went back down to VaTech.  This time just Katie was sick but still managed to have an OK time.  What bad luck to be sick again!

Kids and I off to see mom in FL where she took a condo for a few months.  We apparently hit the only spate of cold, nasty, weather for the entire time she was there, but we still had a great time. I brought my new camera to try out on the trip.  Ofcourse, Zack and I had finally caught the bug Katie had at Tech, so we took it even more easy.

Here's Zack at the entrance to a nature center in Jupiter, FL (you can also see me).

Here's Katie with the bald eagles.

 We also went to Boynton Beach to visit my friend Nancy.  Here's a pose with her local Buddha.
 We went to a nature reserve with Nancy as well and saw lots of birds including babies in giant nests.  Their long-legged mothers looked strange hanging around in trees.

The kids and I went to a turtle sanctuary and saw many turtles.  Most of those pictures are still on my phone but here's one of Katie joining the demo show in the role of sea turtle:

Most days were too cold and windy for really swimming at the beach, but we did go for a windy walk one afternoon.  Katie was shocked at the number of shells out there.  She could just scoop up handfuls and easily found enough to bring one home for each of her fellow Girl Scouts and other friends with plenty left for her own collection.

These are from the one day warm enough to really hang at the beach:

We also climbed a lighthouse, which was fun, if a little scary!  We did all manage to walk all the way around the outside deck and wave to grandma, who waited for us below.  Quite a work out mounting the stairs too. 

Later in March was the VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair. I was the vendor chair and had to attend down near Richmond.  It just so happened that it was the same weekend as VA Tech, so Jeannie kindly agreed to take K&Z with her.  I don't think anyone got sick this time!

The conference was great and quite a high mark for me to reach for next year, when I'll be coordinating the whole thing.  Yikes!

At some point, I think in March, there was an extremely big moon.  Didn't know how to use my camera well enough but got one decent shot:

Two weeks after the March VaTech program was the April program, due to Easter at the end of the month.  Since it was the last, Pete came along and we made it a weekend trip as well.  We stopped at Natural Bridge on the way down there.  Neat place, very cheesy tourist trappy but with this great natural phenom.
Natural Bridge

Pete at Natural Bridge

In the cave at natural bridge. Small cave but interesting

I absolutely LOVE wax museums, the cornier the BETTER.  Second only to sculptures made of butter.  I knew when the first display of what was supposed to be a show about American history was the Garden of Eden that there had to be a wax last supper and I was not disappointed. I have never seen an actual butter last supper, but someday I hope to!
The Wax museum at Natural Bridge--yes! had the last supper all in wax!

The last Kids' Tech and I think these were some of the best hands-on programs of the whole series.  Getting to hold chickies was a highlight for the kids, maybe not so much for the chickies.

On the way home we stopped at Monticello.  It was chilly that morning and we weren't dressed for the weather, so it wasn't as fun as it could have been.  We also didn't have as much time as I would have liked, but still it was quite nice.  Here's the kids in the cellar, it really wasn't a jail cell but they insisted on this picture.

I loved this tree on the grounds.

I was on this trip but so far no pictures of me.  I think there may be some on Pete's phone.

Katie went on a camping trip in PA where she got to rappel down into a cave (how cool is that?) and survived incredibly cold, windy, rainy weather.  She also got to see  Frank Lloyd Wright's house Falling Waters which was nearby. Lots of bonding with the other Girl Scouts who attended.

Then we arrived at the run up to Easter.  We headed down to NC to leave the kids and dog with my mom.  Pete and I stayed there for a day then headed to Asheville, which we've been meaning to get to for years.  Loved it!  Pete needed the vacation-he had been putting in long hours at work for weeks.

I was fascinated with this building in Asheville, which I thought looked just like the Tower of Terror in Disney.  Don't you think so?

We also stayed near this kitschy motel. 

Just by luck, we met up with my cousin Jayne and her husband Donald and got to see their almost finished house.  So nice and wonderful to see them and catch up!

Spent Easter at mom's and baskets magically arrived for the kids.  They were disappointed at the lack of an egg hunt, so at the last minute it seems that our real colored eggs were dispersed around the house along with some cash.  Nice!

In May, Zack and I agreed that he would take some time off of Tae Kwon Do to see what his commitment level really was.  It has seemed to me to be not much more than a high-priced play date.  We made a plan to attend as many HS park days where he could meet up with his TKD friends and see if that would do instead.  The jury is still out and we've extended the break through June and I'm guessing through the summer.

I requested a flowering tree for Mother's Day and here are Katie and Zack with the newly planted pear tree.  Maybe a partridge will show up in Dec...

Katie enjoyed a big service unit encampment with her troop and, although it rained again, the weather was MUCH better than the last trip.  The ticks were worse and we did quite a few checks afterward.

The ticks have been unbelievable this year.  The dog brings one in on his fur at least once a week.  So we are trying to be vigilant about checking for them.

Katie and Zack turned 13!  Crazy!  Two teens in the house.  We had a family celebration and went out to Mike's American for dinner.  They will both have parties later.

We had a nice, wonderful, unscheduled Memorial Day.  Did some yard work, hung around, tried a new restaurant.  Lovely.

Have tried to make an effort to under schedule June.  Mixed results so far.  Pete had a big, late-night gig last night with The Jet Age.  Zack had his birthday party today and now has his two best buds over for the night.  Am hoping I can sleep through their party.

And so, almost half of 2011 has sped by.  I hope to keep up better for the second half of the year, so check back some time.