Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quick trip

Since we knew the kids had the first of (too many) random days off school coming up, we tried to motivate them to finish memorizing the Articles of Faith by offering a fun trip as a reward.  In typical C fashion, he waited until the last minute, then passed everyone up, memorizing about half of them in 2 days.  The other two boys worked on them more gradually, but finally passed off #11 on Monday. 

We decided to revisit a trip we'd done four years ago when M was a baby.  None of them remembered it that well, except C.  It turned out to be the perfect mini-vacation. 

We picked up J&S from school early so when C came home from middle school, we were ready to go.  We missed the rush hour traffic AND got to see the Blue Angels over Baltimore on our way through!  Amazing.  They are SO fast.  Even watching from the freeway, the formations were impressive, especially the stall where they seem to hover and then take off straight up.  I want to go to an air show now.

After that, there was much license plate spotting and that kept them entertained almost to the Red Caboose Motel.  Which is a dive, really, the rooms are so old, but how fun is it to stay in a real caboose?  We found some dinner then came back and had a donut while sitting by the train tracks, looked around the petting zoo, climbed the viewing tower, and played on the playground until dark.  It was so pleasant.  There is something about getting out of our normal routine that breaks some bad habits.  Everyone got along so well.

We got ready for bed and watched the first half of The Great Race.  Have you seen that movie?  It's hilarious.  Jack Lemmon is a genius.

(The only picture I got of the motel :(  Ours is the turquoise one in the middle)

Friday morning, after eating cereal with milk frozen in the mini-fridge, we headed to the Mennonite Information Center to tour the replica of the Israelite Tabernacle.  I loved it.  The visual inspired a lot of questions and answered a lot too.  I would love to go back again after having studied the Pentateuch more closely.  The kids, aside from M, liked it too.  She was pretty restless by the end.

(The three littlest with Percy)
We rode the Strasburg RR after that.  They were gearing up for a day with Thomas the next day, so we benefited by missing the crowds but still getting to ride the hand crank trains and see Percy anyway.  One advertiser wanted kids to ride battery powered trains and take pictures for marketing.  They really wanted M, I'm sure because she's a girl and she's got cute red hair, but she was so focused on driving that she wouldn't even crack a smile.  So much for that. :)

We finished out the day with the Hands-On House in Lancaster.  Perfect.  At about 3:00, I wondered if we'd have trouble with older kids getting bored and younger kids wanting to stay, but that place is just great.  The inside is just big enough to play with everything without feeling like you have to rush.

(working at the factory)

And then the outside.  The gardens are so fantastic.  They played outside for probably an hour and a half, maybe longer.  They built the Land of Sand, all four of them, for the longest time.  It's nice to find something they'll all do together.

It was so peaceful and lovely, sitting there watching.  G and I even had a chance for a nice long talk.  I must say, it is much easier doing things like this without worrying about diapers, bottles, pacifiers, and naps.  I am loving this stage of parenting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I am so far behind it's not even funny.  But yes, the kids did start school and now we're a month in and everyone has survived so far!

C is adjusting to his new middle school.  We were redistricted, and he had to switch -- which he wasn't thrilled about, but as with most changes, there were both things to be gained and things to mourn their loss.  He really likes his science class.  His teacher has pet snakes and brought one to keep in class.  He'd really like one as a pet.  I don't think I'm ready for that.

(These two love fact books; they're quizzing each other on S's bunk)
S likes his 2nd grade class.  His new recess pal is a boy with the same name, which is enough for instant friendship when you're 7.  J decided to join band, so he's starting on the clarinet this year.  He's excited about it.  Unfortunately, it overlaps every other week with his bird-watching seminar.  Not good scheduling there.

(I got to chaperone his first field trip - celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner!  It was super fun!)
M started preschool which she was thrilled about.  There was no fussing, no tears, no fears to be eased.  She just dived in without looking back.  Strangely enough though, I watched her join her playmates and suddenly, she seemed so little.  I guess I'm used to her ruling the roost around here with her big brothers.  It was an adjustment to see her as just another 4-year-old!  She is enjoying the class so much and loves being asked at dinner how school was. 

(She was being so silly, I couldn't get a decent picture the first day!)
I am actually loving my alone time as well.  I've discovered that my nine hours a week goes by quickly.  :)