Thursday, February 17, 2011

Romantic History

So it's Valentine's day and what does a loving husband do?  He takes off work and takes his wife and children to a National Park and a historical site.  O.K. so maybe not your husband but that what mine did because he knows what I love.  I don't need chocolate and roses and a fancy dinner but good old Pennsylvania history will light my fire any day.  :)

First stop, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.  It was a gorgeous day but unfortunately for us the park was closed.  We could still walk around but no tours were going on.   I mean really, I thought that place would be jam packed on Valentine's day!  It's so romantic!

That's o.k.  We still had fun all by ourselves walking around the property and checking out the old buildings and reading the signs.
Exploring the huge old furnace.
Visiting the sheep.....
...and lone horse.  I think he was glad to have some visitors.  He looked lonely.

Measuring old sycamore trees.
I'm not sure why that caution tape was there.  Oh well.
I love sycamore trees.
Even though the ground was still very much covered with snow it was a fairly warm day for February and it was so nice to be outside.  Thank you Jesus for February sunshine just about when we feel like we are going to wither up and die.  A park ranger was also nice enough to come out of the office and give the kids all Jr. Ranger badges for braving the snow.  They were pretty excited about that.

On the way home we also stopped at the Daniel Boone Homestead.   We have passed signs for this place a lot but never thought to stop in.  I wish we had sooner because even though it wasn't open either and it wasn't an ideal day, it was a lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be and was situated on a beautiful property.  Unfortunately our camera battery went dead and I didn't get any pictures but we are going back there next month for Charter Day so we should get a lot of great shots then.

We also decided to join the Pennsylvania Heritage Society so we should get in a lot more historical field trips this year.  I am really looking forward to it!  Pennsylvania is so rich historically and we really want to take advantage of it.  Like the one park ranger said, "There is no excuse for not knowing your history in Pennsylvania".

Monday, February 14, 2011

Loving the Forgotten

I recently joined a homeschool group for the first time.  I never really felt the need to them before but this one sounded more up our alley because they did a lot of interesting field trips and even service projects.
A few days ago we all gathered to have a Valentine's Party in which the kids all brought handmade Valentine's cards expressing God's love and we had a contest to pick the ones we all liked best.  The kids spent most of their free time working hard on them all week.
 
Here are the winners.  Aren't they precious?
Then we made valentines cookies and made up plates of cookies and muffins to take to our next part of our event.
Then the fun part......
We all loaded up in our vans and headed over to the local home for elderly folks (is there a politically correct term for that?)
We split up in two groups and spent time with the people who were the most needy or lonely.
Our group went to the dementia wing and had a great time talking with the folks there.  Of course they did keep asking us the same questions over and over again which was cute but they loved talking with the children.   They were so happy to have visitors because they don't get very many and they really don't get out much if at all.
We were also able to spend some time with my very good friend's grandmother, Bessie who was in that wing as well.  Thankfully she remembered us.  We visited for a while and she told us some stories and then the kids pretended to play the organ in the hallway and we all sang "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" together.  She is such a dear.  We were glad that we were able to brighten her day a little.  She certainly brightened ours.

Speaking of the lonely (ha ha Mom!), we also trekked over to New Jersey yesterday to see my Mom who was by herself for her birthday since my Dad was on a mission's trip to Guatemala.  Not that she was really lonely but I felt bad that she was by herself on her birthday.
We took her out to our favorite restaurant Chipotle for burritos, tacos, salads etc.  Yummy!!  It was a quick visit but we all had a great time.  The kids always love seeing their grandparents whenever we can.
Happy Birthday Mom!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lessons in Gratitude

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." 
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been challenged lately to learn and grow in the practice of gratitude.  It's a good time to start in this dead cold, dreary middle of winter when very little rays of warm healing sunshine touch my skin.  But it's still possible.

This morning we were in the car driving to art lessons; the sun was shining but it was cold and very windy.  The kind of biting wind that takes your breath away.  We were all commenting on how nice it was that some of the snow had melted and we could see the earth again even though it was mostly brown and muddy.  Ahh....earth, sweet earth, we long to dig in you again.

Naomi announced from the back seat, "I wish it was.......".  I knew she was going to say "spring" but I interrupted and said, "I wish it was a day just like today".  "Oh look!  I got my wish, lucky me!"  Silly, I know but the kids laughed and took it up.

"I wish I had a Daddy. Oh yay, I got my wish!"
"I wish I had shoes.  Hooray, I got my wish!"
"I wish we had a big van.  I got my wish too!"

Giggles ensued as they continued the rest of the way there naming the silly to the serious, the big to the little.

Really it was just a sneaky way to teach them to be aware of God's goodness that surrounds us all the time.   When we can be thankful for the little everyday things than we truly learn contentedness and how to be thankful in all circumstances.

Thankful for.........
  smoothies......

 ...for the first lost tooth.......
 ....for the sun and wind in her hair....
(unlike myself this girl loves the wind)
...and for ultimate relaxation.

I love to read this poem to the children.
Father We Thank Thee
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee. 
 
May you as well be able to find joy in the little things today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Asher!

Genesis 30:13  "And Leah said, Happy am I! ........... and she called his name Asher."
 That verse couldn't be more true of our Asher.  He brings us such joy.  He has a quick and ready smile, loves to have fun and is so loving and cuddly.  He has funny sayings that make us all laugh so much

Yesterday my baby turned 3.  I guess now that he is three I need to stop calling him the baby.  Since he has been the baby the longest of any of the others he certainly gets the royal treatment.  
 
Really though, how could you not spoil a kid with eyelashes like those??
I know everybody says it but time really does fly.  I can't believe how quickly he has grown.  
From this:
(He still had that big smile back then)

to this:
Trying on his new big boy coat he got from Grammy for his birthday.  He really does not look like a baby at all in this picture.  :(
He is also pretty excited about his new scooter that he got from Mommy and Daddy.  Now he can finally be like the big kids!  Notice the tiny hat?  No we are not converting to Judaism or anything.  Our kids all have really big heads.  That hat came with the coat and is supposed to fit a typical 3 year old.  Not a typical 3 year old at our house though.  :)

Happy Birthday big boy!
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