The Family

The Family

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

All About Bees

With the weather changing, flowers blooming and swarms of bees hanging out in our backyard and at local parks, it's a great time of year to learn more about nature's buzzing, and sometimes furry, friends.

I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it was my 6-year-old son, after spending a Saturday afternoon spent mostly in fear trying to avoid them, who said it would be a good idea to learn more about bees so as not to be so frightened.

Makes a lot of sense!

There are great unit studies on bees, some free online, but I found an interesting website, and we used that to spend Monday talking about and then drawing a handful of the many different species of bees.

We spent yesterday learning specifically about bumblebees.

I'm not sure how long this interest will continue, but we'll be moving on to honey bees if it does.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting Through a Meal in a Restaurant

Some days I don't want to cook. Nor do I wish to tackle the hassle of going to a restaurant. The latter, even though I love going out to eat, is because I have young children.

One of my favorite things about travel is finding great places to eat. So I hate it when a good meal at a restaurant becomes a source of tension and stress.

We seem to be in that phase where someone starts yelling, almost breaks something, aggravates someone else or just can't sit still long enough for my husband and me to enjoy our food.

I'm also not good about remembering to bring activities along to pass the time. Sometimes I have stickers in my purse. Sometimes I remember to bring crayons. But inevitably, these things lead to quick boredom.

Sometimes I hand over the cell phone to one child, but then the other one wants it. And when it's time to share someone pouts (Jack) or cries (Mattie).

I may have discovered a solution!

While eating breakfast at a small bistro last weekend in North Carolina, we came across something that has given me hope in this area.

A bowl full of marbles and small stones that were part of the center piece on each table provided endless entertainment for my two. There were plenty of stones for each, so there was no arguing about who had more.

Hobby Lobby is calling my name. I plan to buy enough to fill a ziploc bag full for each child and pull them out only when we are in a restaurant.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not a Note on Where We Stayed

If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know I usually provide information on our accommodations when we travel. While I loved the property we stayed in while visiting North Carolina this past weekend, and even took lots of pictures when we arrived just so I could share them here, our departure makes me think it is prudent not to reveal too much about our location.

You know, for liability purposes.

I'm unsure whether I now think it's a funny story or if I'm still discomfited by it.

It all started shortly after 3 am on Sunday when I awoke to an odd smell. At first I tried to convince myself that it was nothing or that the smell must have been present all along. After about 10 minutes I got up to investigate. No matter where I went in the house, the smell lingered in the air.

I went back to the bedroom wondering what it could be and began to get an uneasy feeling. It dawned on me that the heat could be powered by natural gas, and I grew even more uncomfortable. It was at this point I woke up Matt.

Now would be a good time to point out that Matt has a poor sense of smell.  By poor I mean it is essentially nonexistent. I've often teased him that he better hope he's somewhere with someone that has a  nose to alert him if a fire ever breaks out becaue, if not, he has no chance.

Anyway, he couldn't smell it. When I told him I was worried it could be gas, he remarked that the gas fireplace pilot light was no longer on. I asked him what that could mean and he said he didn't know. He saw it was off before going to bed, and it stood out to him because it had been on the day before, but at the time he thought nothing of it.

I told him I was worried it WAS gas because it was a very strong smell, and that we should at least open the windows. Once we did that he informed me he was going back to bed.

I got in the bed as well, but five minutes later I was shaking him awake again saying that I didn't think we should stay in the place any longer. I really thought the smell was gas.

Frustrated and more than slightly irritated, he got up again. Jack, hearing us talk, woke up as well. After a few minutes Matt asked him if he had done anything to the fireplace.

And this is when we knew for sure the smell was gas.

Jack, seeing the blue flame coming from the fireplace, said he thought it might catch the house on fire, so he blew it out earlier in the day. How much earlier we have no clue. It could have been 7 hours. It could have been 15. So, for however long it was, gas was seeping from the fireplace.

Panic took hold of me.

Matt felt that because the windows were open and that by then he had cut the fireplace off, it would be fine to go back to sleep. I, on the other hand, said I wasn't staying in the house for one more minute. I promplty woke up Mattie and took she and Jack to the car right away. Matt began packing up our stuff and by 4:30 we were on the road home.

For the first hour we were traveling on pitch dark, winding roads so curvy that Mattie got car sick and threw up all over me. I was slightly concerned it could be more than just car sickness - oh I don't know, possibly gas poisoning??? -  and was ready to search the GPS for the nearest hospital if it happened again. Luckily, it didn't!

It was an unusual end to an otherwise peaceful and relaxing weekend in the North Carolina mountains.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Change of Scenery

Some days I want a change. Nothing major. Nothing with lasting implications. Just a simple change of scenery to rejuvinate the mind, body and spirit.

A day or two away from home is all I sought in order to get a break from always having something to do. Another load of laundry to wash then fold. Another dishwasher run. Another dishwasher full of clean dishes to unload. A bathroom to clean. A floor to sweep.

It also meant there was more time to listen to my 6-year-old that is growing up too quickly right before this momma's eyes. Time to be attentive when he talked about his interests and his two new loose teeth. It meant not putting him off or giving him a time limit so I could rush to the next task, but earnestly listening.

There was also a hike through the North Carolina woods where remnants of Old Man Winter still linger.

 And running in circles and chasing each other because it brought joy.

And maybe even some sharing and unwinding with a husband because those days and times to do so come few and far between.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reproducing Paul Klee

This quarter in his Art for Homeschoolers class, Jack was busy learning about the artist Paul Klee (pronounced Clay) and making his own versions of Klee's work.

Art for Homeschoolers is a popular class in our community. Homeschooling parents flock to sign their children up as soon as they become of age because the excellent instruction and quality work produced.

I cannot say enough about the teacher. A homeschooling veteran herself, what she is able to teach the children and get them to do each week never ceases to amaze me. She creates an environment in which the study and craft of art is a fun experience for children and an awe-inspiring one for the parents.

Here is some of what was on display at the end-of-quarter art show today:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dots and Q-Tips

Ever since I came across a blog post on painting with Q-Tips, I've been looking for ways to incorporate this fun technique into our art time.

So it was only fitting that the next lesson on our "Home Art Studio" DVD incorporated this exact technique.

As I was cleaning up last week I noticed all the dots in this postcard, making it perfect for another go with the Q-Tips.

We set to work re-creating the design with our own version. We obviously have no future in the art forgery business.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Montgomery Zoo

I don't know why I'm always surprised by this zoo. I wasn't expecting much the first time we visited when Jack was two, but boy was I wrong. We've been three times now, and each time we return I seem to have forgotten what a great zoo it is.

Not only does it have most of the major animals one would hope to see in a zoo: lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, and zebras, but it also has a train, a playground and, now, a chair lift that gives visitors an aerial view of the animals.

Here are a few of the things we saw and did on this visit: