Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Surgery update, Easter and Franklin

Well, Christian's surgery ended up going really well.  He came home in the afternoon and was in very little pain.  He didn't need to take any pain medication at all and the next day was out weeding and mulching the flower beds with me all afternoon.  I'm really not that much of a slave driver, it was his choice.  :)  He still isn't walking totally normal yet but he was back to work on Monday which is great!  

Easter was spent at Christian's sister's house with his parents and brother's family. Thankfully the rain held off for the traditional egg hunt.
And I was also happy to get the first family picture of this side of the family since maybe Grace was a baby.  It's been a while so I was glad that mostly everyone cooperated.  :)

We have another busy week of field trips again this week.  Today we went to the Franklin Institute but I was very very bummed not to have my camera with me.  Boo Hoo.  I was very excited though that we were able to go as we had some friends who had a membership and were able to get us in for FREE!  I had wanted to take the kids when I heard they were having a special Leonardo DaVinci exhibit but wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money so when this opportunity came up we jumped on it.  

We spent most of the day there and the kids had a blast and learned a ton of stuff.  It wasn't too crowded with school kids which was nice and they were able to do a lot of hands on experiments in the different rooms.  We enjoyed learning about trains, electricity, machines, the heart and body, astronomy and space travel, and on and on.   The DaVinci exhibit was really cool as they had models of a number of his inventions from his sketchbooks, original sketches and pages from his Codex.  They had giant interactive touch screen computers that let you explore his most famous paintings up close.  There was so much to see and we just did not have enough time.  Of course the kids all talked Christian's ear off when we got home telling him all about it.  They are at such a fun age where they really enjoy stuff like this now.  I love it!

Thursday we are off on another trip and I am not going without my camera that time if I can help it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surgery, mantises and a birthday.

No field trips this week.  That is unless you count Christian's field trip to the hospital operating room today to have his knee fixed.  He is there right now as I write this and should be home in a few hours.  It is a minor surgery that only takes 15 minutes and we are pretty happy to finally have it done with.  He has been limping around for the last 3 weeks now due to a meniscus tear.  While it wasn't causing him much pain and he was able to work for the most part, he is not able to straighten his leg all the way because of the way it tore so it is a bit awkward getting around.  We are thankful though that he was able to work since we weren't sure how this would affect his job being that he climbs trees for living and kind of needs his knee for that.

In other news, the baby praying mantises hatched this morning!
 Every fall we find praying mantis egg cases in the bushes around our home and bring one inside to overwinter.  Amazingly every spring out pop 100-200 little baby mantises.
The kids really enjoy watching them hatch and releasing them out near the garden.  
I just noticed that they sell these cases online for $10 for two of them.  Kind of crazy because once you know how to find them that seems a total waste of money.  Even it you don't have them in your backyard, surely you could find some on a leisurely walk though the woods.  They are super beneficial for your gardens, so if you can manage to find those mysterious looking brown, papery egg cases take good care of those babies!
But like Annie Dillard says in A Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, you have to learn to see them.  And once you do you will suddenly see them everywhere and be amazed at how you missed seeing them all this time.  If you need help, our kids would be glad to help you.  They too see them everywhere.

In other belated news, our first born son turned 8 this week.
Aiden requested a strawberry pie and I was happy to oblige since I am not a big cake fan.
We have seen a lot of growth in him in the last year and we do tell him so.  He is becoming quite the happy helper and worker which is quite a change from a couple years ago.

If he isn't inside on the couch with a gigantic stack of books next to him, or listening to an audio story CD, or curled up next to me on the couch while I am reading The Wind in the Willows for the second time, he would be found creating something artistic or playing outside, discovering, exploring or building.
Because of this, one of his grammy's got him a real artist's easel and canvas for his birthday.
Of course he set it up immediately and went right to work painting our weeping cherry.  I don't think we will be buying canvases to often but it would be fun to get him a new one every year to watch how his art progresses.

Well that's all for now.  
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Glencairn Museum - A hidden gem.

I am thinking that maybe I should have called this "Our Field Trip" blog at this point because here comes another post about another field trip. There have been a lot of them lately though and they were so much fun that I had to share.

This past week we visited a place I had never heard of before but was absolutely fascinating and beautiful and I can't believe it isn't more widely advertised.  The Glencairn Museum in the former home of the Pitcairn family who made their money in glass during the beginning of the 20th century.  Their home was built in the style of a medieval castle and now houses Pitcairn's collections of medieval and religious art.

The place was massive and I really couldn't get a good picture of the whole building without being up higher.

We took three different tours.  One was throughout the castle and was led by several college students from Byn Athyn college which is connected with the museum.  They did a great job at keeping the kids engaged and really making it fun taking them from room to room to meet different characters.  I don't know if you can see in the pictures but they had them wear pilgrim cloaks and pretended they were time travelers.

Here they are learning how to set a medieval table.
They also met a nun and a knight.
Here Aiden is learning what it means to be a knight and he was even then knighted.

 Besides all the fun characters the place was just breathtaking.  Can you believe this is in Pennsylvania and not somewhere in Europe?

Many of the walls were decorated in this elaborate tiny tile work.
This is the angel Michael from the book of Revelation killing Satan the dragon.

The next picture is the tiled ceiling in one of the rooms.
There was one room filled with many of these 12th and 13th century capitals from Europe.

The kids also had a very interesting class on stained glass art and how to "read" them and what certain pictures symbolized.
That's not to mention all the random ancient artifacts that we hardly had time to look at in each of the rooms.
The kids also had a chance to check out a replica of a Gutenburg printing press that they had on temporary display there to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James bible.

 After a lovely lunch outside we headed over to the cathedral which is on the same property for another tour and class about the art of making stained glass.
Again it looks like we are in Europe.  The entire building was built of granite while the inside of the cathedral was sandstone blocks bolted to the granite which gave the interior of rich gold color.
All of the hardware, doorknobs, hinges, railings, gates etc were hand forged and unique.  All the woodwork was worked by hand as if it really had been built in medieval times making everything so fascinating to look at.  The floors and doors were all a beautiful rich teak wood.
The kids had a chance to see what it is like to chisel limestone and how much work it must have taken on all the stone decorative pieces in the cathedral and castle.
They also enjoyed coloring their own stained glass art while listening to how it was made.
 At the end we had time to explore around the outside of the buildings and enjoy the gardens and flowers.
I had a really hard time limiting these pictures but if you want to see more I guess you will just need to go see it for  yourself.

After hearing about our fun time Christian wanted to go back to see it himself so we plan on going down for their Christmas Event, the first Sunday in December or for Medieval Day, the first Sunday in February.  Or maybe both!  They both sound like a lot of fun for the whole family.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Too much to post about, too little time.

Things are finally starting to bloom around here so I keep changing my blog header because I can't stop taking pictures of the flowers.  I think this star magnolia is beautiful close up but it isn't exactly my favorite shrub as a whole.  It just goes to show me that everything has a beauty of it's own and I just need to find it.

Last week was a busy week for us and I want to post about everything so I don't forget but that means a lot of pictures.  So here we go......

On Wednesday we went on another field trip to the DaVinci Science Center in Allentown.  The kids were kind of ho-hum about going, thinking that it was going to be boring, but after being there a few hours I practically had to drag them out of there.  They had so much fun and learned so much.  It was totally worth the trip up there and we want to go back again soon and take Christian since I know he would love it too.

There were so many exhibits and they were all hands on which kept the kids very busy.  I thought that we were only going to be learning about DaVinci but it was anything and everything science.
How scientists measure things in nanometers, how a vacuum works, pulleys and levers, gears in a motor, how ice freezes, how to build a bridge, how to stop a speeding bullet, etc etc.
Some of their favorites were....
the touch tank, 
the live animals such as snakes, hissing cockroaches, scorpions, tarantulas, millipedes and others,
practicing being a TV weather person,
and a really fun class on electricity.
I am so glad I am in this field trip group because I never would have found this place on my own.

On Friday we headed over to elderly folk's home for a sing-along that our group had planned.  We have been spending a lot of time here recently which I am so happy about.  This was our fourth time since Christmas for various reasons and I love giving the children these opportunities.
I had selected the hymns and played the piano while our group sat with the folks there and sang along.  We sang some great old hymns which the people there hardly needed the words for since they had them all memorized by heart.  Leaning On the Everlasting Arms, When We All Get to Heaven, I'd Rather Have Jesus, In My Heart There Rings A Melody, and many others.
Afterward the kids gave the residents some cards that they had made for Easter and we spent some time socializing.  It is always such a meaningful time and we are glad to be heading back there again in May for another event.
Update (4/15):  I was informed that I am not allowed to post pictures of the residents without written permission so I had to delete the pictures that I had here.  They were so sweet though.  :(

Saturday we were over at my parent's for a family get together with my sisters and their families.  
This is my sister Amy and my Grandma (Dad's Mom).  Amy is hiding baby Katy under there.  :)
And there is baby Katy checking out my other niece Kira.  Kira doesn't look so sure.  "Hey, I thought I was the princess!", she is thinking.

My Dad's parents live right there in my parent's in-law apartment so it is wonderful to be able to see them so much.  We had a great time talking, telling stories and hanging out.
Mostly I just took pictures of the kids and especially of Naomi and her buddy Kira (Dawn's daughter).  Naomi loves her cousin and will hardly leave her side the whole time.  She is going to make a great babysitter some day with all that energy!

Besides all these activities going on this past week I also managed to find time to paint the family room.  I had been wanting to do this ever since I painted it last time.  I never liked the color we had picked out 5 years ago when I first rolled it on the walls but just thought I would get used to it since I didn't feel like doing it over then.
  I didn't get used to it and it always bothered me but I did not feel like moving all these books that we have in here to get the job done.
It was such a blah brown and with spring being here I was really not in the mood for it anymore.  And now that I am pregnant I had the motivation to get it done.  Even at barely three months along I am already in partial nesting mode.
So everyone pitched in to move the books, one wall at a time so I could get it done in sections which was much more manageable than doing the whole room at once.  And just in case you are worried we used an environmentally friendly paint with low fumes.  You could hardly smell it at all, which was nice. (And yes, Christian's leg is still bad, which was why he couldn't help much, but at least he is mostly off crutches).
 I love the finished result.  It's so much more cheery in here now.  I didn't think I would ever paint a room blue but I do like this.  I nervously sent Christian to pick out a color and I think he did a pretty nice job.

Phew!  That was plenty for one day.  It's 73 degrees outside right now and the kids are playing with the hose so I am going to head outside to get some sun on this poor pale skin!

Monday, April 4, 2011

These days....

Look at me posting again and it has been less then a week!

These days it's been warm so we spend a good portion of the day outside.

These days our daffodils have finally decided to bloom.

These days the kids have been enjoying making forts from sticks and various and sundry other items.

And if one is good why not make more?
I think they must be trying to make our yard look like some sort of Revolutionary War army camp.

These days the chicks have a nice movable home outside that Christian managed to build nearly for free from scraps that were laying around.
Somehow they managed to escape today though but thankfully we were right there and rounded them all up.
 Thankfully we got them quickly before the cat found out.  She sure would love to get at them.
We all love the feathered footed Brahmas the best.

These days the kids are having fun with the rope swing in the barn.

These days Christian is hobbling around on crutches.
 I am sure he is not happy with me taking his picture.  His "bad knee" that he had surgery on 6 years ago has been bothering him lately and just went out a couple days ago.  It is looking like a torn meniscus but he won't know until he gets an MRI later this week.  If so then he will need surgery.  It's not exactly the best time since the tree business is really busy right now and he needs to be in good physical condition to work but oh well.  He has been keeping himself busy though doing office stuff for now so hopefully this doesn't last too long.  We'll see.

And last but certainly not least.
These days either I have been eating one too many grass fed, nitrate free, all beef hot dogs with New Zealand sharp cheddar or there's something cooking in there, due to make his or her appearance sometime around the beginning of November.
You decide.  ;)
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