Dining room progress

How did you all do on your dining rooms last week? Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish? The pride part of me that knew I’d be blogging about it wanted to go crazy last night and finish everything so it would look nice for the blog post. 🙂 But the human part of me thought that was nuts and I always want to be real on this blog anyway.

I did what I could last week and the rest will have to wait until dining room week comes around again next month. That’s the beauty of flylady. If you don’t get it all done, it’s OK. It comes around again and again. It may not be perfect but it’s better than it was at the beginning of last week!

Here’s how it looked last week:

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Here’s how it looks now:

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It doesn’t look a whole lot different, does it? It took some time to get all the school stuff off the walls. It may seem silly to take down all the maps and posters but I wanted to get a fresh perspective for next year. Some things we won’t need to use again like the map of North America. That was up so we could track the early explorers. We won’t be studying them again for a long time. I’m not even sure yet what we’ll need up for next year! I just knew I wanted to start over.

After the walls I tackled the homeschool bookshelf. I took everything off and put it on the dining room table to sort through. It took a long time and I got distracted by this bookshelf:

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It housed the homeschool books for the year that I didn’t necessarily need on a daily basis. I somehow managed to start going through it, too, and pulling books that need to be stored for the younger kids (and make room for new books!). That’s one of my big problems in cleaning. I don’t stay on task very well! When I emptied the short bookshelf from the dining room I moved it into the living room and turned it into a spot to house toddler toys.

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That’s all well and good for now but I’m probably going to need it again in about 8 weeks…

The mess that is on the hutch now is actually a different mess than was on it at the beginning of the week. It’s actually somewhat organized mess at the moment.

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These are papers that need to be filed and books that need to be stored for later. I got waylayed on finishing this project because I didn’t want to pull the filing box off the storage shelf nor did I want to look for book boxes in the cellar. I also do NOT want to buy more storage boxes. I’ll purge if I have to but given that we have no idea what is going on job wise in the next few years I’m very reluctant to hold on to too much stuff.

I’m not too disappointed with the progress. We had a lot of unexpected things pop up last week and I wasn’t able to work on the dining room as much as I wanted. But that’s life, isn’t it? I think I got my 15 minutes a day in and for now, that’s good enough. Hopefully next month I can tackle those messy hutch drawers and clean out the kids’ personal school bins!!

Next up: the kitchen!! Are you ready? I’ll post pictures of my kitchen tomorrow and I promise to post the pictures I took today as soon as I read on flylady.com that it was kitchen week. I’d love for you to join me again. If you want to have pictures of your spaces posted just let me know. It would be fun to see others’ progress, too!


Field Trip Friday: Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake

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Kenny was on vacation last week so we thought a field trip a little further away would be OK. We have had several recommendations to visit the Adirondack Museum, but 1) it is a little pricey to get in and, 2) it is two hours away. Since we didn’t take an actual vacation we decided our budget (both financial and time budget) could handle it.

It was a beautiful drive. I took way too many pictures of the mountains from the road. 🙂

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The kids missed some of it…

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We started out a little later than anticipated (about 2 1/2 hours later!) so we had lunch as soon as we arrived. We found a beautiful little picnic spot right beside the museum.

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People were a little hungry and grumpy when we arrived but after some food and fresh air they were back to their goofy selves.

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Unfortunately, I forgot napkins…

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Rubbing your hands on a cube of ice from the cooler works wonders. The kids had fun running around for a few minutes while mom and dad finished eating. Wesley panicked for a moment about ticks but luckily we saw none.

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The kids were in love with the museum as soon as they saw the old passenger train to climb on.

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Abe was a very sweet big brother and accompanied Sophia inside the train’s engine.

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We saw a few cool old cars and lots of wagons and carriages.

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(I had a LOT of trouble getting clear pictures inside as no flash was allowed.)

Everyone wanted to see what it would be like to carry buckets of water over their shoulders. (maybe they should have put weights in the buckets so they could see how heavy they were full of water!)

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Abe was the best at faking it…

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When we got out of the stuffy indoors the girls and John Elijah decided to take a siesta.

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They revived quickly and were ready for a trek to the top of the fire tower.

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I stayed safely at the bottom with Jesse. Sophia got a little freaked out coming down but, it was Big Brother to the rescue again!

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We thought we were pretty much done (I was pretty much done!) when we found another great interactive building about camping in the Adirondacks. Kenny and the kids had a great time playing. 🙂

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Kenny tried on snowshoes.

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Novella and John Elijah and Wesley did some pretend cooking over a campfire.

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A couple of the kids even did a little indoor rock climbing!

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Finally, Dad got worn out…

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We gave the kids $5 each to choose something from the gift shop. Most of them chose to just keep the money. 😉 Everyone save Jesse climbed onto the giant Adirondack chair to wait for Dad to get the van.

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Overall it was quite an enjoyable field trip.

I know you all want the behind the scenes story. 😉 Why did we leave 2 1/2 hours later than we planned? Well… I can’t put a whole lot of blame for that one on anyone except myself. You see, the antique store across the street from us was having a yard sale…

Instead of getting in the van and taking off like we were supposed to we walked over to the yard sale. You know, just to see what they had. We bought a couple of minor things and saw a cool desk. Then we walked back home and drove to the library to return some books. During the drive to the library I began to regret not buying that cool desk (I KNOW. I KNOW. I’M OBSESSED WITH DESKS. It’s a sickness. I’M WORKING ON IT!!) So we hightailed it back to the sale and thank goodness, the desk was still there. You really can’t waffle like that on yard sale finds. You nearly always lose. But it was my lucky day.

See this beauty?

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You see this price tag?

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No regrets. 🙂

So that delayed our departure a bit. Other frustrations were that by the time we actually got on the road everyone was starving. It cost us ridiculous amounts of money to buy everyone a granola bar at a convenience store!! Sheesh!! And I forgot the diaper bag. Yep. I did. After nearly 14 years with a baby and/or a toddler, I walk off for an all day trip with no diaper bag. And the emergency bag that I keep in the van with extra diapers because I’m smart like that? Abe took it out the week before when he cleaned out the van.

Oh well. The behind the scenes memories are almost as fun to look back on as the museum (except for maybe the granola bars for which I’m not about to admit what I paid!!).


FIELD TRIP FRIDAY: National Bottle Museum

Welcome to this week’s installment of FIELD TRIP FRIDAY! We’re having so much fun exploring New York. I’m not sure why it took us so long to get started. I think we just needed a plan. And boy do we have a plan now. Field Trip Friday may go on for quite some time. Although today I’m posting last week’s field trip and we’re having a much needed “Do Nothing Friday” to catch up on our rest! Tired

Last Friday we went to the town of Ballston Spa and visited the National Bottle Museum. The kids were not really jumping for joy at the thought of touring a bottle museum. They weren’t grumpy or anything. They just weren’t overly excited.

Kenny worked on that on the way to the museum. He explained that we weren’t going to just any old run of the mill regular bottle museum. We were going to the National Bottle Museum. The bottle museum representing bottles from all over the entire United States and possibly even the world! By the time we got there even the teenager was wowed and anxious to see the collection.

The cool thing that none of us knew going in (well, except me, but only because I looked at their website before we went 😉 ) is that bottle making was our nation’s first major industry. The museum was set up to preserve that history and houses literally thousands of bottles — some of which even hold uranium within their glass and set off alarms if you get too close. (and no, thankfully, we did not learn this first hand!)

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By the way, have you been wondering if we were taking all of these trips in two vehicles? Nope. My super fabulous rockin’ husband found an extra 3 seat bench for our mini-van for $50 buckaroos! Here’s how we squeeze everyone in:

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Live like no one else, right? 🙂

Here we are standing on the sidewalk outside the museum:

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I’m not sure they get a whole lot of visitors at the National Bottle Museum. Perhaps we just went on a slow day but a very friendly tour guide practically met us at the door and gave us a wonderful and informative tour of the whole place.

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We saw lots of bottles.

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There were bottles from many of the states of the U.S. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the one from Alabama. Alabama still feels like home to me.

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Oh, and Jesse was lots of fun in a bottle museum. Afraid

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They gave us plastic cups when we left the museum and suggested we walk down the road and visit the natural spring and take a sip of the water. We’re gullible. We did it.

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We all took one teeny tiny sip and then poured it out! Yuck! It tasted like iron.

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Dad tried several times to take a drink for his health.

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He didn’t succeed.

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John Elijah was not as gullible as the rest of us. He refused from the outset. And, of course, we didn’t give any to Jesse as the tour guide suggested that it may bother your digestive system if you drank much. Yeah. I know. I don’t know why we did it. Maybe so we could say we did?

To get the yucky taste out of our mouths we had to go out for ice cream afterwards. We let Jesse partake this time.

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Even John Elijah agreed to join in.

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Some people experienced “brain freeze”.

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And some people let the sugar go to their head!

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All in all, another fun field trip in New York!


FIELD TRIP FRIDAY: State Museum in Albany

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We’re really making an effort to go somewhere and see something cool in New York on Fridays. Actually, we had hoped to get together with friends but Wesley woke up with a sore throat and it was supposed to rain. Since Wesley didn’t feel too bad we decided to drive to Albany and check out the State Museum. Almost everyone we know has highly recommended it and we thought an indoor museum would be perfect if it rained and not too taxing on Wesley.

We got a bit of a late start and arrived at the museum right at lunch time. We ate a quick lunch in the car and walked over to the museum. Dad pointed the way.

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We weren’t sure how long everyone would last but we knew the kids would love the carousel so we went up to the 4th floor and rode it first. (that later proved to be a wise decision!)

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I decided to sit in one of the static booths with Jesse since it was his first carousel ride and I wasn’t sure how he would react. John joined us. Turns out it was his first carousel ride, too!

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When the ride started we realized right away we did NOT sit in a static booth. It was a spinning booth!

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Luckily the boys loved it! We found out after we got off that those horses were hand carved in 1895!

Here’s my favorite picture of the day:

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After the ride ended we explored. There were lots of interesting treasures on the 4th floor. It was like a storage/ display area for cool things from the area that might have been thrown away or destroyed. Like this old sign from New York City:

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There was also a car owned by Franklin Roosevelt:

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And little ham was ever ready for a photo op. 🙂

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Downstairs on the first floor they had a massive display of the nature of the Adirondack area.

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And a hands on kids area that even the big kids enjoyed a lot.

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Jesse had been in the stroller through the Adirondack area.

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We let him out to explore the kids area and he loved it!

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After the kids area we got tired. We did a quick run through of the museum shop and then headed for home.

Now doesn’t that sound like a lovely day?

But let’s always keep it real. 😉

It took forever to decide where to go. We actually went through a AAA travel guide and wrote down 25 possibilities before deciding on one. Then we had to make a lunch to take with us and stop for gas on the way. About half way there we realized we didn’t print out directions. We’d been to the state capitol (which is across the street) so Kenny thought he could find it again. He did.

Eventually.

One kid had a melt down in the car as we were eating lunch because she didn’t get enough chips. And the kids were grumpy with each other before we ever got to the front door. I don’t know what Jesse ate the day before but I had to change his diaper about 5 times. Wesley began to feel miserable about half way through the museum. It’s a good thing we rode the carousel first. If we had waited to the end we wouldn’t have done it at all!

Remember last week when I planned ahead and put stew in the crock pot? I wasn’t so smart this week. I, for some crazy reason, thought I could come home and make homemade pizza! Yeah. That didn’t happen! We all crashed for a while when we got home and then I ran to the store and bought 3 frozen pizzas. 😆

So behind the scenes it wasn’t a picture perfect day. We’re all human here. We’re still glad we went and we enjoyed the museum. We just need to plan the details a little better next go round!


FIELD TRIP FRIDAY

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As soon as we arrived in New York I signed up for a Friday co-op for the kids. They enjoyed the peer interaction and I enjoyed the peer interaction but we seemed to lose our Fridays every week. Friday is Kenny’s only day off so we decided that during the spring semester we wouldn’t do the co-op but take every Friday to explore something about our rich historical area.

Hmmm…

It really was a great plan. But we didn’t make a list as we had intended. Today was the first day we actually made it anywhere.

It was a great day. We should do it every Friday! 😉

Today we drove to Stillwater, New York, to the Saratoga National Historic Park — the site of the Battle of Saratoga. If anyone needs a quick brush up on their history it was this battle that was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. (and no, I did not remember that until I was reminded during the overview film in the visitor’s center. I knew it was an important battle but that was about all I remembered.)

We arrived a couple minutes late for the start of the film but they let us sneak in. Afterwards the kids played dress-up.

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They listened to the battle story again while watching lights representing the British and the Americans dance across an elaborate topographical map.

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They played in a tent like the Revolutionary soldiers would have slept in.

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Finally we made it outside.

And we were *blown away* by the beauty of the landscape.

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We looked at lots of cannons.

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And babykins got to stretch his little legs.

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It was a glorious day in God’s creation. We can’t wait to go back and explore more.

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Homeschooling with littles

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Oh boy are my two youngest high energy and high maintenance kids! They definitely keep things hoppin’ in the Bailey homeschool!

I get asked a lot how in the world I can homeschool at all with a 3 year old and a 20 month old running around. In some seasons it’s been very hard. Newborn seasons are always tough and to be honest, the kids get a bit more life lessons than book lessons in those first few months with a new baby. We do our best but baby’s needs come first.

We are in a calmer season now. HA! I think the key is to remember that it’s homeschool. You don’t have to start at 8 a.m. and plug away until 3 p.m. with a couple of 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch. It’s not like that at all. We have things ordered now to accommodate the littles better. The kids get up around 7 a.m. or 7:30 and do their chores and eat breakfast. One of the big kids helps Sophia get some breakfast. I’m usually still downstairs getting dressed, taking out the dog or starting the laundry. Around 8:30 the 4 oldest start their independent seat work. By this time I’m upstairs with Jesse. I prepare a simple breakfast for him, myself and usually my hobbit daughter Sophia who by this time is ready for “2nd breakfast”. 😉

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Around 10 we all sit down together at the big dining room table and do “together school”. We pray, read history lessons, do an art study, etc. I have nothing formal planned for the littles during this time period. They usually run around the upstairs playing. We have lots of manipulatives and we’ll usually dump something out to occupy them for a few minutes. Their favorites are Lauri puzzles, Lincoln Logs and Wedgits. They also like to play in the toy kitchen area.

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We also just flat out have to be flexible. Sometimes we have school on the living room floor so the littles can feel like they have mommy, too, and crawl all over me while I’m reading. Sometimes Sophia wants her own “school” so we’ll give her a workbook and box of crayons at the table or we’ll give her an extra map drill to color. Sometimes we have to close the books, have lunch early and finish while Jesse is napping.

I remember way back when I was a working woman. I specifically remember getting out of my car one morning and thinking, “Is this how it is? Every day of my life the same thing?” I can’t sugar coat it. Homeschooling with littles is challenging. But it is NEVER EVER boring and I love it!

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A great day for apple pie

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John Elijah is a first grader this year in our homeschool and we have been using the Five in a Row curriculum. I have very fond memories of this curriculum as I have been using some parts of it for over eleven years! The basic premise is that you take a book and read it for five days straight. I’ll admit, sometimes I get tired of reading the same book five days in a row. But the kids really connect with the book using this method. The books become their friends. This has seemed especially true of John Elijah this year. I have been very relaxed about using the guidelines. There are many ideas listed for each book and in years past I have spent huge (HUGE) chunks of time planning activities for each day revolving around the week’s book. I knew I didn’t have that kind of time this year but some of these books have become my friends, too, and I wanted to share them with J.E.

Last week’s book was How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. I remembered it as being one of my favorites when the older kids went through FIAR. Of course, relaxed or not, we couldn’t let the book pass by without making an apple pie! I tried to let J.E. in on every aspect of making the dessert — even the dreaded pie crust. 😉 I cut the apples and helped a little with rolling out the crust but my big boy did the rest.

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He liked getting his hands down in the apples.

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Dotting the butter on top of the apples.

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He took the crimping job very seriously.

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Finally it was ready for the oven.

We had to deal with a few antics from little sis
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and little bro
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along the way.

And some people got very impatient…
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But eventually it was done
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There were only 2 pieces left after everyone enjoyed some. John Elijah and I snuck into his room a few days later and enjoyed those last 2 pieces together. It was good times. 🙂


Cherry blossom craft

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All of my children are artistic and they love crafts. It’s sad for them, really. Because I do not. At all. But sometimes I push myself out of my comfort zone for their sakes. I remind myself that even though I am like my mother in my dislike of all things messy, I went to public school where I was allowed (forced) to do messy crafts at least once a month if not more often.

Last week was the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I may not have noticed except that my best friend lives in a place which celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival big time. I got to visit her once during cherry blossom time and it was incredibly beautiful. So beautiful that now I’m always sad not to be able to visit her this time of year!

This year I ran across a cherry blossom craft by chance about a week before the festival at a design blog I’ve been frequenting lately called Small Notebook for a Simple Home. I fell in love with it and knew Novella would love to do it.

I actually purchased all the supplies I would need at Michaels and then I let them sit around for a while and procrastinated. Then I thought about the Eat That Frog book that I read recently and decided to just get it done. Last Saturday morning while the big boys were all gone to a martial arts class, the girls and John Elijah (who loves crafts and artsy stuff more than I can say plus also loves flowers) got it done. I pretty much let everyone do it themselves. I showed them the website with the directions and they knocked it out in about half an hour. I squeezed out the paint and helped Sophia a little with the blossom placement. For the most part it was fairly painless on my part. 🙂 The only slightly annoying things were the fact that Jesse was running around desperately trying to smack his chubby little hands in some paint and Novella decided to paint flowers all over a lampshade before I could clean up. We finally contained Jesse in his highchair with a snack and I told myself to relax about the lampshade. It turned out really cute!

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The first thing I let them do was practice on a piece of paper to get a feel for the brushes and the thick acrylic paint.

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One brush stood out as the best to use for the tree trunk (I bought a variety pack for $5) so they took turns painting.

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I had only saved one 2 liter bottle so they also had to take turns painting the blossoms. I was a little worried about the thickness of the acrylic paint but it worked just fine.

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Buster Brown was quite happy once he had a leftover pancake to munch on while he watched the goings on. 🙂

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And Novella, who can never get enough of the craft thing, went on to paint that plain pink lampshade I picked up for her room.
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The boys arrived home before we finished which was a little crazy as Novella was worried they were going to bump into her. But they didn’t. Everything was fine and crafting day was a success.

Now I wonder how long it will take me to get these on the wall? Better read that frog book again…


Fun at the state park

The cool thing about homeschooling in NY is that once you have completed what you said you would complete, there is such a feeling of freedom! We finished our science curriculum for the year about a month ago. If I were in Alabama, I would move on to the next level. Not because I had to — just because that’s what I did. I finished one thing and moved on to the next. But I wasn’t in the mood to do the next thing. I wanted to take the extra time to just have fun! So we’ve been dabbling in a little nature study. 🙂 (and yes to my fellow Charlotte Mason homeschool moms, I should have been doing that all along — especially in Alabama!)

Last week we took a nature class at a local state park. The teacher was terrific. She did what I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to do. She just walked around the park with the kids for an hour and a half and talked about things she saw that were interesting and things they saw that were interesting. And because she’s a park ranger she knew what everything was! I don’t know about the kids (especially the tween and the teen who were a wee bit bored) but I thought it was great. We’re going to go to everything we can like that for the rest of the school year — because we can!!

Here are a few highlights:

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Sophia shaking a cat tail.

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The “why do we have to be here, I’d rather be playing video games” twins. 🙂 They may not admit it but they had fun, too — especially at the end.

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The park ranger pointing out to the kids the little bits of green beginning to pop through the ground. That’s Novella in the pink and John Elijah in the green.

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Some evergreen we crushed in our fingers (I forgot what it was; I’ll have to take notes next time!) smelled like lemon!

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I think Novella had the best time. She loved that the park ranger was more than happy to answer any question she came up with.

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Look! Spring is coming!

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It’s always fun to play with a big stick. 😉

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It’s also fun to find a bigger stick.

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And haul it out of the woods all by yourself.

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The park ranger told us at the beginning to look for anything green as it was 2 days before St. Patrick’s Day plus near the first day of Spring. Sophia said, “Look Mommy. I found green on my hand.” I think maybe that is marker. 🙂

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Animal tracks by the tree nursery. We can all totally recognize deer tracks now. We should have learned that from Aunt Duanie years ago!

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Lichen on a tree.

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I believe these were the pussy willows. So cool. I’ve heard of them all my life but never knew exactly what they were.

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The kids’ favorite part — playing on the huge piles of dirt next to the golf course.

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All in all, it was a great day. We can’t wait to do it again!