Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Latest Adventures

It sure seems like our family has been on the go lately! I am looking forward to spending the weekend at home catching up on some housecleaning and organizizing.
Anyways, we spent most of the day Thursday at Stone Mountain. We attended the Big Apple Circus at 11:00 and then headed over to the playground afterwards to hang out with friends and let the kids burn off a little energy before driving home.
We really enjoyed our family day. The circus was alot of fun, especially for Nathan, who had not been to a circus before. I enjoyed watching his reaction to the different acts and seeing how mesmerized he was by everything. Of course, we took lots of pictures, so I thought I would share a few here:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!!!

Sadly, in years past we have not celebrated Valentines Day as an entire family. Though Jason would usually buy me a gift and I would get him a card, we did not make it family-wide. This year, however, we decided to change that and make a new tradition.
We started off by planning a treasure hunt, in which the boys were given 10 clues to solve, before finding their Valentines "treasure":

1.Valentines is a day of love, clue #2 is behind our love spot - the "cuddle place". (our big chair where we cuddle each day with our children.)

2. After a kiss for Mom and Dad, you will find clue #3 in a place where your clothes get warm. (the dryer)

3. Give each other a high-five! Clue #4 will be found in a place that rhymes with lovin - a hot place! (the oven)

4. Now it's time to get it going! Clue #5 will be in the "upper deck" right on top of the world books. (upstairs in our "library" on the World Book Encyclopedia set.)

5. Mom & Dad like to snuggle, too. Every night we snuggle here - find clue #6 in a comfy place. (our bed)

6. Sometimes, love gets does this place and it keeps our veggies nice & crisp. (veggie drawer - refrigerator)

7. Hug a brother that is standing close to you! Because you're getting close as well...Clue #8 will be found where we find our daily bills. (mailbox)

8. Are we having fun yet? If not, let's go for a drive! Clue #9 will be found in the family "go-mobile". (our van)

9. Good job so far - only one more clue to go! Give out a big "yee-haw"! Clue #10 will be found where we keep our "living bread" - the words of life! (Bible basket)

10. You found clue #10 - Now you've got to think! You'll find your treasures on the path to yesterdays study spot - or was it just a fun place to be? Think hard! (in the attic on the way to the roof - the thinking spot our children like to go to.)

Oh how fun to watch the boys run around and read each new clue as if it was the most exciting thing they had ever done! Also to see them follow the directions and give high-fives or was priceless. All of their efforts paid off with each of them finding a valentine bag filled with candy and a toy and a personal note from Mom & Dad...I may have spent $10.00 on all of it, but it was worth thousands!

After the treasure hunt, we had breakfast. I decided to make heart-shaped pancakes and sausage. I cooked the pancakes from a new recipe and then Caleb & Ben took cookie cutters and cut them into hearts. We set the table with crystal goblets, our best dishes, and lit candles to make it the special occasion it was. As we ate, each person shared what their favorite thing about our family is. We heard, "family vacations", "we have fun together", and "cuddling" as some of the answers. It was a sweet time - literally as I looked at all of the syrup on their plates! Oh well, it's valentines day, right?
We finished off the afternoon with cuddling and playing...we really just hung out together and had fun as a family. I think we all agreed with Nathan's sentiments:
"This is the greatest Valentin's Day I ever did before!" Amen!!!

1920's Mystery Dinner

Last night Jason and I attended a 25th wedding celebration for our friends, Dave & Karen Channell. Instead of the same old party, they chose instead to do a 1920's mystery dinner. Everyone was assigned a character and given certain secret information for the evening and were to come dressed for their part. At first we weren't sure about this! Both Jason and I were a little nervous about being "out of character" per se, but it was nice to know that we were not the only ones!
As we got to the party, it was fun to see many of our friends dressed in their costumes and then to begin playing the parts we were assigned. Although we are not natural "actors", we did our best to accomplish the goals we were given. (Two of which were ackward: 1. confronting my husband's possible mistress and 2. confronting my husband - who was really not my husband at all - about the situation.)
Some of the characters really got into it, like Sandy a.k.a Carrie Crooner - the singer for the evening who ran around calling for her "Pookie!", her new husband of a week, who was actually "killed" during the event.
Once the evening came to an end and we headed home, me in my feathered headband and Jason in his felt hat, we came to the conclusion that it was a really fun night and we enjoyed it immensely! Just goes to show that we should never pre-judge an occasion and it is good to step out of our comfort zone once in awhile.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Natural Beauty

Oh, how wonderful to see the beautiful sun shining and feel it's warmth on our faces today! After all of the cold weather we have had, I could not have asked for anything better than an afternoon outside with my boys looking at all of the interesting things God has placed before us to admire, study, & enjoy!
Although I do not have alot of land of my own, I am blessed to know others who do and who are gracious enough to share it! So after placing a call to our friends, we all headed out to "go exploring".
We started out at the small pond where we took deep breaths of fresh air and forgot all about the cold weather. We noticed the water levels had dropped since we last visited and we toyed with the idea of kayaking, but we decided against it since we wanted to stay dry. Instead we all agreed to take a hike and see how many signs we could find that would prove to us there had been mammals of some sort around the area. I told the boys to look for clues, such as tufts of hair, half-eaten nuts or pinecones, tracks, or "droppings". Of course they were humored by the last clue and were ready to set off!
Our oldest son, who has camped (and worked) on this land before, wanted to take us on a trail he was familiar with, so we all allowed him to be our guide and followed happily behind him. We spotted alot of natural beauty, such as green moss and wild ferns. We did not initially see any wildlife, but we still enjoyed our trek up to the big pond. There we sat and admired the water and the boys made little "boats" out of tree bark and had fun seeing which ones would float. We did see some geese on the water and found a really neat hollow tree that some animal was probably using for shelter. Nathan was the only one who ended up in the water and he only to his knees. As he was trying to get a stick out of the water, it "pulled him in" (as he says) and he had a short scare. Boy, did he jump out of that water quickly! It was hard not to laugh, but thankfully he did not allow it to ruin his day. I think it helped that Ben offered him his jacket to wrap up in until he was a little drier.
We decided to head back to the smaller pond and as we rounded the corner to it we were greeted by three beautiful horses who had wandered over to munch on the greener grass around the pond. We were so excited to be able to go over and pet them and feed them some grass from our hands. I was a little unnerved at times with all of the children around the horses, but they did a good job of following the instructions I gave them so that noone would get kicked or stepped on.
We spent alot of our time with the horses because they were so gentle and beautiful and we could not pull ourselves away to go on. However, we did notice that the sun was lowering and we knew our time was getting short. Lately, I have been taking some time to admire the silouettes of the trees in the sunrise/sunset, so I took a couple of pictures and pointed this out to the boys. I'm not sure that they caught my enthusiasm, but one day they may.
Finally, it was time to go home, but much to our delight we were given one more gift of beauty as we headed down the driveway...deer in the pastures peacefully grazing. We could not have asked for anything more! How refreshed we were when we got back home and how much more we admire the Creation around us!

A Living Education

Our family is doing a unit study approach this year so that all of the children are studying the same thing and our attention is less divided. While this has not been a "perfect" homeschool year, we have had an exciting time learning about a variety of countries and cultures. At this point, we are finishing up 3 weeks of studying Africa, so we thought it would be alot of fun to get together with some other families to celebrate and strengthen what we have learned.
Whatever we are studying becomes so much more interesting and alive to us if we have the opportunity to hear from someone who has a passion for what we are studying. So, we asked our friend, Susan, to come over and share with our families her love and knowledge of Africa. I am so glad that we did!
She shared so many interesting things with us along with pictures and stories of her travels to Africa in the last 7 years. She also brought pieces of art and jewelry and traditional African clothing. We learned of the customs of the beautiful people there and amazing stories of God's grace in their lives.
Afterwards, we all delved into the various foods that each family had prepared - different recipes from Africa! We tasted fried plaintains, banana fritters, Peanut Toffee, Traditional African rice, and so much more. Oh, and how could I forget the Malta drink? Noone could forget a sip of that!
Although at times I may grow weary in our homeschooling, days like today remind me how thankful I am to have the great priviledge of educating our children at home, learning along with them, and strengthening our family relationships.