Saturday, August 30, 2008

tie dye caterpillars and then some

Well, we've been super busy since we've gotten back from vacation. I've been trying to cram all of the activities I can into these last few unscheduled weeks of bliss.
We had a very enjoyable and productive playdate with some friends a few weeks ago. We had a little picnic in the backyard and then broke out Isabella's Tie Dye kit. It was lots of messy fun. The mom's had to do a lot of prep work for the shirts but the kids enjoyed squirting the dye everywhere. Taejan even decided to tie dye his tongue! It's not a short process, that's for sure. The kids were challenged to stay patient through the drying and washing until they could finally wear them.

We finally got around to making the Olympic lapbook that I had been promising to do since June. Unfortunately we didn't get to watch very much of them (the cat peed on the couch while we were on vacation so we couldn't relax in the living room much until I cleaned the couch thoroughly which took a few days) , but what we did see the kids enjoyed very much. The afternoon that we did the lapbook we talked about challenging ourselves to do our best and work hard. Later that evening we went for a bike ride to the playground and it was really tough to get going on the hill for Bella. She remembered what we had learned earlier though and she didn't give up. She persevered, even though she fell a lot and was frustrated and eventually she made it to the top of the hill. I was so proud of her and most importantly, she was proud of herself.

We've had a few field trips recently. We went to Whitney's Farm to pick blueberries one lovely afternoon. The kids picked for over an hour and they were so happy with their full baskets. I was too! We played on the cool playground, saw the animals, and spent too much in the little farm store. It was a delightful day.

We also had a field trip to Stop and Shop. I didn't have my camera but it was really a great field trip. Our guide, Lisa, was wonderful as was the rest of the staff. Everyone was so friendly and willing to show the children things. We toured all of the different departments. We saw how the bakery ovens work, learned about how mold makes cheese and then had a slice in the deli, saw an produce truck unloading and had some apples, watched a lobster crawl on the floor in the seafood department, went into the milk cooler and the ice cream freezer, and even got to have a snack in the break room. The kids loved it so much. Who knew such a mundane everyday place could be such a great learning opportunity.

My cousin Crystal had her birthday last week. She turned 17 and I made her a cake because I love her. She loves winter, and random things so I decided to randomly make her an Arctic cake...
We have found a new caterpillar. It is a Eastern Swallowtail caterpillar. It's a whole new experience for us. My sister actually found it at my mom's and we put him in a box and took him home. My niece Madilynn named him Ian because Ian sings a song about caterpillars. He made his pupa yesterday. It's very different from the chrysalis of a monarch. Speaking of monarchs, our two little guys (Hanaus, and Scoocher) are now both in their chrysalis. We will be very attentive over the next week or so. We have never gotten to see the butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis. I am determined to see it this year.

Above is the swallowtail getting read to make it's pupa and below in it's pupa

One of our beautiful Monarch chrysalis. They are so amazing.

Yesterday we had field day at a friend's house. It was such a blast. Each family came with a few games planned. We had kids of all ages and they did such a great job playing the games together.

As we were leaving we found a little snake. The kids all held it. I was shocked at their bravery. He was actually cute...for a snake.

Last but not least, I have to share the wonderful news...I have front steps!!!!!!!!!! Today Jason and the kids built some front steps on the house. They had been taken down last fall and I am so grateful to have them back up. Jason did such a great job. He never ceases to amaze me. I couldn't build stairs to save my life and he throws them together in a few hours and they're perfect! Not only that, but while he was building he was teaching Bella multiplication (among other things). Up until now whenever I was giving directions to my house I always said, "its the one with no front stairs" I am so happy that now I will have to change it to "its the one with the nice new set of stairs!!!"

I'm almost done planning school through December. Lots of copies to make and I need to do some organizing around the house and then I'll feel a little more ready...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

vacation all summer long

This summer is flying by so fast! I am so grateful we are homeschooling and not going back to school next week!! We've been schooling on a very low key level all summer and will get back into full swing the 2nd week in September. Before I plow into the fall, full speed ahead, I shall reflect on the amazing august we have had!

On the very first day of August we had the privilege of going to Lake Compounce courtesy of Jason's wonderful boss. He treated his employees to a tour bus ride to the park, admission, lunch and spending money! It was such a great day for us. It was actually our first trip to an amusement park as a family. I hadn't been to one myself in 7 years! I don't think I had been on rides in almost 10 years (does that make me old?!) We all had a blast. We had no idea that Bella is a little adrenaline junkie. She loved the roller coasters and went on some doozies! I also went on some rides that I wasn't sure an old 30 year old could handle, but I made it and had a blast screaming at the top of my lungs. The boys enjoyed all of the kiddie rides and games too.

After our amazing day at Lake Compounce we awaited our vacation. We had a busy week in between with picnics, cousins sleeping over, and trips to my sisters to take care of my beautiful niece, so the time flew by and I was really grateful to relax for a few days!

Our vacation in is such a huge blessing every year. My parents rent a cottage at the ocean for a few weeks and we get to join them for a week. It is definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole year. We have been going to this cottage since Bella was 1 so the children all look forward to it so much. I have to say, this year was actually the first real vacation I have had in about 7 years. It was the first time I didn't have a baby or toddler to run after. I didn't have to plan everything around naps or carry a diaper bag everywhere I went. I could actually sit on the beach and enjoy myself. I even got to do a little fishing!

Most of our vacation was filled with days on the boat fishing and days on the beach relaxing.
We went to a baseball game to see the one of the Red Sox minor league teams, the Portland Sea Dogs, play the Norwich Defenders. We also took a trip to the USS Nautilus Museum where we got to go in a real submarine. It was really cool. Jason and I even got to have a date, thanks to my mom and dad who watched the kids, and it was such a treat. Every year we learn something new when we are on vacation. This year we found a new spot to go crabbing, a new beach to hang on etc. We also learned that Isabella is a total beach bum and can't get enough sand, sun and saltwater and Isaac and Ian are completely crazy about fishing. They literally couldn't get enough. The minute they were off the water they were asking when they would go out fishing again on the C lasher (that's the name of his boat). They are so blessed to have a Papa with a Parker (that's the brand of his boat) so they can go fishing on the ocean so young. They already know so much. If they are this good at fishing when they are only 4 and 3, I can only imagine how good they'll be when they are allowed to bait their own hooks! I know my dad can't wait until they can clean their own fish too!

On our last day of vacation, Isabella said "I wish we didn't have to leave today, I wish we could leave tomorrow." I realized that when you are on a vacation you enjoy you always want to leave tomorrow. In the end we managed to drive away our over packed van without tears (thanks to the portable DVD players I think lol) and full of new memories to cherish and fish stories to tell...until next year.
Now we are enjoying the last few weeks of summer but the signs of fall are already creeping in. Raising our monarch butterfly caterpillars has become an end of summer tradition for us that we all love, but they are a constant reminder that our summer long vacation is coming to an end. The nights are getting chilly here in the mountains, I have even seen a few trees beginning to change. The billboards for the Big E and back to school shopping tell me that fall is coming fast.

It is always bittersweet to me. I love all the that fall has to offer with its beautiful foliage, apples, pumpkins, great weather etc, but it's the precursor to winter...and most of you know how I feel about winter... I dislike it so much I am already dreading it's arrival and it's still August, how silly! I will continue to enjoy every blessed day of sunshine and warmth with thankfulness to my God who created all seasons.

I'll have lots of great things coming up to post for school, we are going to be studying China for the beginning of the year and lots of other interesting topics of course. I have been trying to think of names for our little school at home. Corbett Family Homeschool seems a little ordinary...I was thinking we could be an academy of some Corbett academy, but not so boring. So many other homeschoolers have such creative names, I feel the need to follow the cool crowd and make one up too. Any ideas are welcome.