The whole family drove down to Bradenton yesterday to get baby’s handprint made for our wall collage. When he was done, we headed over to the DeSoto National Memorial.
It was QUITE chilly for Florida, but we thought the location was a hidden treasure.
The kids had a great time climbing around on the rocks. Mom was only a little nervous.
After running about outside for a while, we retreated into the visitors’ center to watch a 20 minute video about Hernando DeSoto. Overall, we found the story to be quite sad for both the natives and the explorers. I’m happy, however, for my children to have a more vivid account of one of the famous explorers than I ever had from school. After an obligatory shot of all the kids at the memorial monument, we headed home to get the kids ready for church today.
I don’t know if I’m going to stick with the local school schedule next year or not. We get so tired of school going until the 3rd week of June! Of course, we like not starting until after Labor Day… And if I switch it this year we’re going to have a really short summer…
Anyway, yesterday was the first official day of summer vacation. I worked on the blog some in the morning, took a nice long walk, did some family stuff with the kids at 10 and then let them play outside until lunch time.
(The pics are from my iTouch. I was relaxing and didn’t have my good camera outside.)
We were interrupted by the lawn care guy that wanted to mow the grass. We were almost done anyway, and the grass needed some attention. I was glad to see him! (And blessed that the landlord sends someone to take care of that chore for us!!) The little two took great naps after lunch. I’m hoping to sufficiently wear them out again today! 🙂
If we’re facebook friends, you’ve already seen a picture or two of our picnic on Walden Pond and maybe caught a little of the excitement I felt at seeing it in person. Seriously, people. WALDEN POND. I’m still giddy!
On our way to the pond we made a couple of quick stops for me to take pictures. We didn’t have time to tour all the author’s homes, but at least we can say we’ve seen them in person! First was Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott. I was most sad not to tour this house. I need to start a new list of things to see and do when we go back!
People were getting antsy and hungry back at the car, so we took off for lunch. Walden Pond wasn’t too hard to find. 😉 There was another replica of Thoreau’s cabin about a mile from the pond. We stopped there after parking and getting out our picnic supplies.
They wanted to stick their toes in the water, but Mom and Dad were feeling the need to get back on the road — preferably without sandy children since we had about a four hour trip home. I couldn’t resist getting one final shot of the pond right by the water.
We debated long and hard about what to see and what to leave for next time. There is a possibility that we will be leaving New York at the end of the summer so we knew there might not be a next time. Our options were the Concord Museum, Louisa May Alcott’s home, Hawthorne’s home and the Minuteman Museum. We decided the Concord Museum would be the most interesting to the most people (namely, the girls and the boys were likely to find things they liked).
The first thing we saw was a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin he built on Walden Pond.
We got our tickets and the curator challenged the children to a scavenger hunt. They each had a piece of paper with 16 things to locate in the museum. The most exciting thing (to me!) we found was one of the two lanterns used to signal Paul Revere to make his famous ride.
Upstairs has a wonderful seasonal Thoreau display. They even had some of his original journals and his writing desk. No pictures were allowed in this area — even without flash. I got so excited looking at his journal, though, and asked the curator if she’d ever heard of the English educator, Charlotte Mason. Thoreau and Mason were on the same wavelength! His journals reminded me very much of her Book of Firsts. The curator had not heard of Mason but she did tell me something I didn’t know. Thoreau is pronounced like thorough (i.e. — I’ll make a thorough examination of the facts.)
I could have stayed longer looking around at the Thoreau display. I’m super excited to learn more about him and his works now that I’ve seen this similarity to Mason. Jesse, however, is a two year old and was on day three of trying to be super good in public. He’d had about enough and wanted no more of the stroller. Since it wasn’t prudent to let a grumpy two year old loose in a historic museum, we opted to head out for lunch. I did manage a quick run through of the gift shop ;), and found this lovely little bird as a reminder of our trip:
This girl is amazing. She loves to dance. She loves to read. And she loves Tae Kwon Do. She is also the best big sister on the planet!! Jesse loves her almost as much as he loves his own mama! (And the *almost* might be wishful thinking on my part!)
Part of testing at this level is breaking boards. She didn’t get the hand break but she rocked the side kick break:
Next up is my almost a teenager, Wesley. It is so much fun to watch Wesley do martial arts. His movements are so clean and so precise. He makes it look like an art form! I didn’t get to see his patterns this testing (I bring Nov straight to TKD from dance and we’re always about 15 minutes late) but here is a picture of him sparring with Abe:
Our first stop the day after Abe’s black belt testing was Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. I knew Louisa May Alcott’s house was in Concord, but I had no idea how many other author’s lived there. The apartment we were staying in had a Boston area visitor’s guide and I looked through it our first night in town. We had originally wanted to go to Boston but we were limited to two nights (the owners were only gone for the weekend) and we were a little nervous about the whole subway thing with six children. I realized after looking at the guide that there was plenty in Concord to keep us occupied! Of course, I knew the whole Revolutionary War history was there (it is the Concord of Lexington and Concord, after all!), but I had no idea of the rich literary history!
One must see for any classic literature enthusiast is Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I secretly wanted to go there as soon as I heard who is buried there, but thought it might be hard to find. Nope. We passed right by it on the way to testing on Sunday. Since we wanted to be out of the apartment really early Monday morning (in case the owner came back early), we decided to stop there before any of the museums opened.
Field trips have been sadly lacking from our homeschool this year. We participated in a once a week co-op and never could get our schedule quite right. Now that it has ended for the year, we have a little more free time for exploring the area.
Last weekend, Abraham had black belt testing in Concord, Massachusetts (a separate post will follow on that whole very long experience!). We decided to stop in Stockbridge on the way to Concord and visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. We knew all school year that the trip was coming so we incorporated Rockwell’s works into our studies. It was so exciting to see originals of prints we’ve looked at all year!
Our plan was to leave home between 8 and 9 in the morning. The museum opened at 10 and is about an hour from our house. I was slightly frustrated that we pulled out of the driveway at 10 and still had to stop for gas and batteries for the walkie talkies (we are still functioning in two vehicles). Kenny told me he’d get gas for his car while I ran into the grocery store for batteries. The plan was that he would meet me at the grocery store. When we pulled out of the driveway at home he went the opposite way that I did. I thought it was odd but knew he could go around the back way and thought he just felt like being different.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
We never said which gas station/ grocery store we’d visit. I went in to the store, shopped, came out, repacked the cooler, tried to get the iPod to work with a cassette converter. Still no Kenny. I moved the car to a more visible location. Waited. Still no Kenny. Finally I decided to drive over to the gas station. Of course he wasn’t there. At that point I remembered how he had gone the opposite way from me when we pulled out of our driveway. Yeah. I’m a little slow on the uptake. 🙂
Since I had both walkie talkies and no cell phone, I stopped at a convenience store to use a pay phone. Of course there are no pay phones. Thankfully the clerk let me use the store phone. By the time I got in touch with Kenny he was on his way back to the house. We met there and pulled out of the driveway for the 2nd time at 11 a.m.
We didn’t get very far before someone (SOPHIA) had to go to the bathroom — despite the fact that I made everyone go AGAIN before we left home for the second time. We stopped at a McDonald’s. Kenny and I needed coffee by this time so we all sat down and had coffee and milkshakes.
It was past lunchtime before we actually arrived at the museum so we took advantage of the picnic tables on the lawn and ate lunch before we went in.
One whole room was covered with Saturday Evening Post covers. I was particularly excited to see this one. It’s the cover picture on a Norman Rockwell picture book/ song book I’ve had since I was a little girl.
We had a friend in Montgomery whose father posed for Norman Rockwell. Sadly, she passed away several years ago. I wish I had listened closer to her description of the painting for which her father posed!
We spent about an hour and a half in the museum before the kids got tired and cranky. When Jesse got cranky he got *very* cranky and we forgot to walk through Rockwell’s studio which is located on the museum grounds. Oh well. Excuse to go back, right? 🙂
There were a few comments I wanted to make on the Valentine’s Day pictures but in my hurry to get something up before it was embarrassingly late, I just posted pictures. Now that it’s Winter Recess (YEA!) in New York and I have the whole week off, I thought I’d take time to elaborate.
Did you notice the white frames in the picture of the Valentine wall?
Jesse and Sophia and I ran to Lowes while Novella was in ballet last Wednesday. We raced home after picking Novella up and I had barely enough light outside to get it done. In my haste, however, I forgot to take off my wedding rings and got white overspray on the backs of them. 🙁 Luckily, I caught it in time and was able to wipe the paint off with a rag. Kenny found it hilarious that I nearly ruined my wedding rings on the night before Valentine’s Day. It was also a miracle the frames even dried because it was far too cold outside to be spray painting!!
I was very lucky when I bought the frames. The two pictures I had in mind for them worked perfectly. I couldn’t have done better if I had gone to Michaels and bought new ones.
The first thing I wanted to frame was a free Valentine’s printable from Nest of Posies. I printed the black and white version at home but wasn’t happy with it. I’ve bought some cheap ink for my copy machine and it wasn’t worth the savings! Plus I really liked the pink version and I only have black and white printers. So I downloaded the file and had it printed in color at Office Max for $0.49. Not bad and I love it! I’ll probably let the girls hang it in their room when I get sick of looking at the Valentine wall.
The other big frame didn’t have any backing. I thought about leaving it off and not worrying about it, but the picture slipped around too much. It needed a backing. Thanks to my eldest son, fondly known around here as the pack rat, I had extra cardboard hanging around. I had a piece from the inside of a calendar that was the perfect width. I slipped it in and cut another piece into a couple pieces to fit. I then taped it all together with packing tape. Perfect!
(yes, the back of the frame looks messy where I spray painted. I suppose I should have painted it, too, or at least taped it off. But what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right?)
The picture in this frame is special. It’s actually commissioned art! Novella has been learning “doodle art” in her homeschool co-op class. She showed me a small heart she made and I asked her if she could make a bigger one for me for Valentine’s Day. She happily obliged.
I was almost finished but I needed a mat for the picture. I didn’t want to buy one for a picture I might only have up for a day plus if I ran to the store I’d use up all of my energy and no one would get heart cookies. That wouldn’t be good! 😉 So I made one out of construction paper. It took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around the math of the whole thing.
I still have the Valentine wall up because I love it! The sparkly heart is something Novella picked up for her room from Michaels but she’s letting me borrow it. And the little flower in the vase? Mr. John Elijah made that in his art class. It’s origami. He also made the lego heart that’s on the printer.
I thought I could wrap up all the details in one post but this post is feeling plenty long for now. I’ll post more later! I still want to talk about the Valentine pillows we made and the Dr. Pepper sign!
(*technical note: Photobucket just updated their site and all the new pictures are posting HUGE. I’ve GOT to go to the store so I’ll have to re-size all the pics later. For now, just enjoy the close-ups!)
A quick note: it wasn’t really Apple Tree Farm but Sophia loves those books from Usborne so that’s what she called it the whole time. 🙂
Wow! The start of school has really been wild! We may have to do the good vs. best list on activities soon because it seems like we’re a little too busy this school year.
We have not completely abandoned Field Trip Fridays. In fact, we had a fantastic time at one of the local orchards a few weeks ago.
We loved the Farm Fest weekend at the apple orchard last year, too, and were eagerly anticipating it this year. Until we saw this sign…
We had heard rumors that the unseasonably warm days we enjoyed in February (I remember skipping school one day and going to the park because it was 80 degrees!) had damaged the apple crop. We hoped it wasn’t true but, unfortunately, many of the blooms died in the frost that followed the heat wave. Some orchards were forced to close for the season. We did find a few that still had enough apples to celebrate — including Riverview Orchards, the orchard we visited last year.
Remember last year’s picture in front of the Riverview Orchards sign?
Here they are this year in front of the same sign:
We had to pick apples in designated areas because of the crop damage, but we still had a great time. First, after parking next to a swamp
we looked at some super cute farm animals. I *so* want some chickens and goats some day!
Soph was getting a little bored with farm animals
so, after snapping a quick picture of the foliage that was just beginning to change, (this was a couple of weeks ago. The vivid colors are amazing now!)
we headed into the country store for a bathroom break. I thought we’d wait and get cider donuts at the end like we did last year, but last year we waited an HOUR because the waiting line was so long. We were there earlier this year and there was no line so Kenny wisely advised to go ahead and get the donuts first and just eat them there. We took our time and even sipped some lovely coffee.
The kids were again fascinated by the real live honey making machine. 😉
Jesse started getting tired at this point so I ran back to the van for the sling before heading over to the orchard. I was so excited to get to use the ole trusty sling one more time. 🙂
We had to wait a while for the hayride.
With the apple picking slim, the hayride was probably the most popular attraction of the day. Finally, we saw it coming around the bend.
So many people were waiting to get on that Dad and Abe decided to be all gentlemanly and walk along behind.
The rest of us were quite cozy.
Look at my pretty girl. 🙂
And then it was apple picking time!
Jesse was big enough to pick his own this year.
Remember this great shot from last year?
If it’s possible, Jesse loved apples even more this year!
He even did the sign for apple with an apple…
And nobody better say nothin’ about him havin’ two apples at once!!!
We picked a big bag full of apples and headed back to the country store for some decorative gourds and fresh cold cider. The kids couldn’t resist a quick photo op at the backside of the hay maze before we left.
We made some great memories and can’t wait to go back next year!