Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zoo Take Two

One of our favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to take a field trip on any day we choose. We typically avoid Fridays because so many school groups make field trips then.

On Good Friday we had plans to visit the zoo with our friends and we were rained out. So we set a rain date and visited last week. It was anything but rainy. Several of us got a little sunburn. I left feeling like the worst Mommy ever as Liberty got her first burn. Her little face and one arm were more exposed in the Ergo than I realized. As soon as we got home I contacted Mrs. Stephanie at The Shifty Fox and placed an order for a sunhat. I'm not used to such a fair skinned babe.

We started off in Cat Country. After visiting the felines, the kids asked to visit the nre Sting Ray exhibit. I didn't realize there was an additional charge, so we settled with taking pictures instead. Hopefully, Daddy can make a trip with us and we can visit the Sting Rays another time.


Since we were there with the Mashburn and Tims families, picture taking took quite some time.

After taking a picture with everyone the kids checked out the elephant statue.

We headed to lunch and then visited the farm. A favorite activity for me is getting a picture of the kids on the cow. We've been getting one most trips since Madisyn and Ty were babies. My oldest babies are getting a little tired of the routine but they indulge their Momma anyway. :-)

We love hanging out with our friends. It's so nice to have friends were the kids like each other, the dads like each other and the moms like each other. When we all get together that's over 23 personalities to contend with! It's amazing that many people can enjoy each other.

Each time we get together we always forget to get a picture of  the kids. We didn't this time! It took awhile to get the kids gathered up from the playground. When we started, this hippo was free of other children. By the time we had everyone gathered up, some poor child had gotten in with our group and was trapped inside. She didn't seem to mind and we didn't even no she was there until she came out when we started leaving. LOL Either she's incredibly patient or she doesn't quite understand how photobombing works! :-)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Madisyn!

First photo as a family of 3

It's hard to believe how much our lives changed because of a precious little baby that joined our family 12 years ago.

First Birthday and her name was on the Sonic board.

Madisyn was such a good baby. She was also incredibly smart. Her intelligence may have caused us to believe that there might be something wrong with some of her brothers. LOL This picture is Exhibit A, apparently we only produce one "style" of little girls. I can't believe how much she and Liberty favor!

 2nd Birthday and oh so serious

 Madisyn has always been a talker. She had such an amazingly clear vocabulary at a very young age. This photo is Exhibit B - meet Mary Claire's twin!

 She's 3!

Madisyn loved Terry Ralph. She originally wanted to name her female dog Ralph, after a dog that Unc had at the time - a male named Ralph. We discussed that her puppy was a Rat Terrier so Terry might be a good name. Somehow in her little three year old mind Terry Ralph was perfect!

 Donning a hat for a 4th birthday.

Madisyn has been very friendly her entire life and never met a stranger. I remember one night we were having a campaign party at Kelley's Restaurant. I went to the bathroom and when I returned Madisyn was gone! She was quickly found sitting at the bar taking audience with about 4-5 adults. She used to accompany Papaw to the coffee shop and thought she was grown.

 Her short stint in "professional" t-ball.

Being the first born, Madisyn has always had a bit of a bossy side but she has always been very responsible. Even at age 5 she kept up with her things and was the family schedule reminder.

 So sweet at 6

Madisyn has such a tender heart. She is the type of person that bears another's burdens. She hurts for anyone who hurts. From a family member to someone mentioned in passing on the news, she has genuine concern for everyone.

 First lost tooth at 7

Madisyn has always been very creative. She loves crafts of all kinds. She is frequently creating something new with things she finds around the house.

 At age 8, new teeth abound

She has always been a very girly girl. She loves pink, flowers, and nail polish.

 Last year as a "little" kid

This was the year that Madisyn finally got that baby sister she had always been praying for. She loves having little sisters to dress-up! Mary Claire watches Madisyn's every move and wants to do everything "Tissy" does.

Enjoying double digits

My girl loves horses. I think if she could she would live in a barn. She hasn't had a horse at our house and I really thought the love would fade. Boy! Was I ever wrong! It doesn't matter if it's been months, weeks, days or hours since she last rode, she's constantly planning  the next trot.

 Growing up

She is such a giver. There isn't an occasion that goes by that she doesn't plan to give gifts. She is always thinking of others and is so wonderful at making everyone feel special.

12 years old

It is so hard to put into words everything that makes Madisyn so wonderful. She is a mature, responsible, caring, beautiful and most importantly, Godly young lady. I am so proud to be her mother!

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! We love you!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hard Working Men

A few Saturdays ago, Daddy and Unc got to work on a new shop area. They are quickly running out of space and needed to add some additional work area.

Of course, Daddy and Unc can't work without an audience so we all came to "supervise". :-)

Last fall, they purchased a greenhouse building. Unfortunately, the plastic cover didn't withstand a passing storm.

They determined the best way to prevent another storm destroying the building was to fortify the ends. They wanted to be able to place most any piece of equipment in the building so they installed roll-up doors on each end.

They began by setting posts and then building a wooden frame across each end. Then they attached siding the framework. The days work involved lots of  sawing and driving screws.

The best thing about Daddy's lot is there is lots of time for playing and annoying chores like laundry {does the laundry ever end!} can't follow us there. Who wouldn't love a ride on the pedal car with big brother?!?!

At the end of the day, each end was enclosed and lots of workers, little and big, slept well that night!

The next weekday, the guys in the shop helped get the cover secured and now we have an additional work area!

Friday, April 19, 2013

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians

One aspect of homeschooling that we love is the ability to take a field trip whenever one presents itself. If the principal says we can go and there's diesel in the big, black van, we take off! We especially enjoy field trips that appeal to all ages, from the two-year old to the twelve-year old.
 We headed to Parkin Archeological State Park to learn about the Casqui Indians that lived in this area in the 1500s. Hernando DeSoto visited this site around 1540 and lots of artifacts have been found all along the St. Francis River.

This field trip was extra special because our friends, the Tims, were able to join us. The park interpreters separated the kids into a group of older kids and younger kids. The younger kids started off learning about arrows and spears. Then they got the chance to make their own arrowhead necklace.

Henry and Mary Claire had a great time making their necklaces. Mommy usually doesn't let them work with such small beads so this was an extra special treat.

While the younger kids learned about spears, the older kids got to throw a few!

They also shot blow guns but I was with the younger kids and missed it. Madisyn hit the target with the blow gun darts!

After making arrows we headed to the audio/visual room for story time. The interpreters told some of the American Indian stories for how different animals came to exist or how they developed certain features.

Each story was complete with props such as animals skins, skulls or pictures.

After the 5 stories were told the interpreters asked the kids to come up with a story about how trees got leaves. *Warning - Shameless Mommy brag follows* Griffin had a very simple explanation. "God made them!" I don't think that was exactly what the interpreter was looking for, but how do you argue with a 7 year old over that.

I don't think this animal was part of a story but Henry enjoyed playing dress-up with its hide.

After lunch we headed outside. They re-arranged the groups so that families were together instead of being separated by age. Our group went outside first.

The interpreter explained that the Casqui homes were about 5 feet by 5 feet square. They frequently burned and a new hut was built on top of the old. This left lots of layers for archaeologists to uncover.

The chiefs house was located on this mound near the river. The village has yielded many artifacts that are on display in the main building of the park.

After learning about the pottery that archaeologists have recovered from the state park site, we got to create our own.

Since all of our group was either friends or family, we crowded around one table and made do. Who wants to sit at the back table? We just squeezed in and made it work!

This is another reason we love field trips. When we left clay was all over this room {and not due to just my children}. It was on the table, the chairs and the carpet. This Mommy doesn't like mess so the younger kids haven't been allowed to do this at home.

The pottery making was a highlight of the trip. We left with a few pinch pots, a replica of a hut, a mortar and pestle and a whale. I'm not really sure what the whale had to do with Mississippian American Indians but it was important to someone. :-)

The interpreter even let them use paint! He claimed that they were experts at cleaning up clay and paint. Everything did wash out of the children's clothing. Maybe I should see if the state park staff would be interested in cleaning my carpets.

We had a wonderful time and I'm so thankful that such a quality program is offered so close to home!