Monday, December 15, 2014

A Musical Week

For Christmas this year in lieu of gifts we decided to take the kids down to Mary Poppins, the Broadway Musical in Philly last week.  We told them the morning of the performance and they were super excited, but they told us afterwards that it was even better than they thought it was going to be.
 I wasn't sure how Claire was going to do since it started at 8pm and went until 10:45, but she sat mesmerized nearly the entire time.  I think all the singing, dancing and colorful costumes helped hold her attention.

Yes Christian was there too, but someone had to take the picture.
 Even though there was a lot of differences from the movie, which the kids have seen many times, it was still an amazing show and they spent the whole next day listening to the music and singing the songs. 

The very next night they had their second choral concert with SGM which is always a big highlight of the year.  This year the choir added a younger Prima Choir so Asher was able to participate for the first time.  This choir was so adorable and it was so exciting for them to be able to join the big kids on stage for the grand finale piece.

Saturday night our small group had a party and Sunday night Grace had a violin concert with her studio.  At this point I was so beat that I forgot to bring the camera and have no pictures to show for it.  It was a great experience for her to be able to play with the orchestra and she is working very hard at her violin practice so that she can join in the near future.

It was a fun week, but we are glad we don't normally live like that and we are looking forward to some quiet evenings at home again by the fire with a good book.   

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas in the Castle

I know I've mentioned this before, but if you are in the area and haven't checked out Glencairn castle in Bryn Athyn, you really should try to get down there.  It is quite an experience to see a medieval style castle, built using tradition methods and housing so many ancient artifacts so close to home. 

We went down today for their home school days, which are always great because of the special pricing to get in and the great tours.  Since it was raining, Christian was able to take off work and head down with us.  Yay!

 It's crazy to think that this was actually the Pitcairn's home.  But I guess with 9 kids and 55 grandchildren they needed a castle for those big Christmas dinners.   Hide and seek must have been awfully fun back in the day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aiden's robotics tournament

We had a crazy busy day on Saturday.  Christian was doing a last minute state tree climbing competition, Aiden had a Vex IQ robotics tournament, and Grace had her violin lesson which meant a lot of driving for me because they were in total opposite directions.  Aiden just joined this local robotics club this year and this was his first tournament, so I felt bad that neither Christian and I could stay to watch him, but thankfully a good friend was able to stay and cheer him and his team on.
Aiden with the robot his team made, waiting for inspection.
Since Aiden is new to this and there were a lot of other experienced kids and parents I was just hoping he wouldn't get last place.  We were really all more focused on Christian winning his competition since it would mean a trip to Florida this winter.

I got a call from Christian in the afternoon telling me that he got 2nd place with 250 points, and the winning guy got 251.3.  How close can you get?  Every year he comes close, but it's never been that close!  One of these days...

So, being distracted by that news I neglected to call and see how Aiden did in his tournament.  When I went to pick him up in the evening, I asked my friend how they did and she said they got 1st place!  Aiden actually had the controls at the end and stacked the last block at the last second.  It sounded quite exciting, but Aiden being the chill kid that he is seemed somewhat nonplussed by the whole thing.
(photo courtesy of my friend because I wasn't there at the time)

The more we talked about it though and praised him for all his hard work he got more excited.  They beat out 12 other teams, many who were a lot more experienced than they were.
Holding the team trophy.
This has been such a great opportunity for him and he absolutely loves it.  Christian takes him every Monday night for practice and it has been a great father/son bonding experience for them even though robotics is totally not Christian's thing. 

Last year a team from our local group made it to the international competition in California, so it is exciting for Aiden to think about where his hard work might take him!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Claire bear

Happy 3rd birthday Claire Bear!  What a fun, happy, spunky, precocious girl you are turning into.  With all your older brothers and sisters you think you are such a big girl, too.  When we drop the big kids off at art class and you and I go to the library to read books you ask me, "when are we going to pick up our kids" as if you were their parent and not their sibling.  I love it when you say, "Guys you need to be quiet! Mom said!" when your siblings are squabbling in the car.

And speaking of books at the library, you could sit and listen to book for hours if only my voice would hold out that long.  Your favorites are Curious George books, The Mitten (which you can actually recite word for word), The Little Fur Family and Bible story books.
Claire with Grammy W.
You love your bible and always are sure to remember to bring it to church.  We also love to hear you pray.  You always want to pray and you remember to pray for things that we sometimes forget.  You still pray for Dad's back that he hurt back in August.  Somehow you haven't realized that it's better now.   What a sweet heart you have at such a young age.
You were so excited for your birthday and it was such a delight for you to have both sets of your grandparents here, your big friend Andrew D. who eats dinner with us two nights a week, and your cousin.
Grace and Naomi made you an orange marmalade cake all by themselves and it was delicious!  You were so busy with your presents that I think you forgot to eat it. 
As people left to go home you called out to them "happy birthday!"  Bless you little heart, my dear.  You can be exhausting sometimes with your antics but we love your and can't imagine life without you! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Illustrator David Wiesner

 Today our local library had a special program with author and illustrator David Wiesner, winner of three Caldecott medals.  We were already familiar with his books, owning one and having checked out others from the library, so this was a really unique experience seeing a "celebrity."

Mr. Wiesner writes mostly wordless picture books, which is a genre we have recently been exploring with books such as Polo, The Red Book, Hank Finds the Egg, and others.  David Wiesner draws inspiration from the surrealist artists and his books are imaginative and mysterious.

He walked us through his books Tuesday and Mr. Wuffles, explaining the process of sketching the first drawings to the final watercolor painting ready for the book.  He told us that it takes him 1-4 years to finish a book, which I think really surprised the kids.  Illustrating a book may look fun and easy, and while it may be fun it does take time and determination to get it done well.

He also showed us drawings that he had done as a kid which looked just like drawings any other 6 or 8 year old would draw.  He encouraged the kids that if they like to do something to keep at it because his sketches started out looking just like theirs.


He also showed us how a book is printed on one large piece of paper and then folded up to produced the final version when they cut off the edges, bind it altogether and add a cover.
Oh dear, I didn't realized Grace was blinking in this picture.  That's what happens in celebrity pictures.  You get too excited to get a good picture.  After the crowds left we were able to ask him for recommendations of his favorite wordless picture books and he gave us some great suggestions, such as The Arrival, which we immediately went off to find.

I was just thinking that as crazy as it is taking all the kiddos to the library at the same time I really am going to miss these days.  I love watching their delight at finding good books and then walking to the check-out counter still reading those books, not watching where they are going and bumping into things. 

After we get home all the books get dumped onto the floor in the living room and they go into book comas as they carefully scour each and every one.  Even though we do own quite a lot of books ourselves there is great delight in finding new books at the library and there sure is a lot more reading that goes on after our library trips.

I love public libraries!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The quarterly report

This year for vacation we were not able to get away until September.  It was a long summer and Christian really needed this vacation, but I think next year we will try to take a week off in the summer as well.  Working straight through this summer was so hard on his body that he threw his back out and ended up in the ER in the middle of the night with such intense back pain that took him about two weeks to recover from.

My grandparents were able to help us find this great rental on the bay in Ocean City, NJ.  It was great because even if the weather wasn't great for the beach we could still play in the lagoon with the kayaks, swim or fish.

Thankfully we still did get some really gorgeous days at the end of the week to spend on the beach.

 We discovered that the best and cheapest place to get your ears pierced is on the boardwalk.  Grace has been so nervous about getting her ears done, but I talked her into it this time, and since she didn't have enough time to get worked up about it she was able to go through with it without throwing up.  :)  We figured since the price was right we would get Claire's done as well.  She was happy to sit in the chair for it until......

 The crying didn't last long though and there were big smiles afterwards!  She was so excited to have earrings like the big girls.
 We biked on the boardwalk nearly every day and that was a big highlight of the trip.  The scale tells me that all that biking didn't make up for all the visits to Brown's donuts that week though. 

Back on the home front we are overrun by bunnies again.  We acquired this guy as sort of rescue situation.  He had been neglected and needed a new home.  He has got to be the friendliest and floppiest (although not the prettiest) bunny ever.

And the baby bunnies are back again!  Six this time.  We have two ginger colored boys left for sale.

Our Polish Tolbunts that we got this summer turned into quite the beauties  I just wish they would lay eggs consistently so we can sell them!

We also "borrowed" a new boyfriend for Lily a few weeks ago and I am happy to announce that Lily will be having her last litter of puppies around Thanksgiving.  I think this guy (who we called Georgie because his real name was weird)  is so adorable and we are planning on keeping one of Lily's girl puppies to continue breeding.

Grace started a face painting business and was able to make some extra money at the 4-H fair, a local farmer's market and an event at our alpaca farm.  She is saving up for a new violin and has done well enough with little odd jobs here and there that we should be able to get her one in December.  She is very excited!

Of course there is a whole lot more going on than that, and as soon as I remember to take some pictures you will hear about it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Music, trees, eyes, politics, and more trees

Usually a post around these parts will have something to do with music, art, trees or books, and this time is no exception.  But politics, you say?  Oh yes, read on dear reader.....

Grace started taking violin lessons this past fall and started progressing so well that I knew pretty quickly she needed a better teacher than the one we had originally chosen.  She has been taking with her new teacher at Elite Strings since February and we both think he is fabulous and an excellent teacher with high standards, but also very encouraging.  I am so sorry we didn't start with him to begin with.  She has learned so much in such a short amount of time.  She had her first recital last month and I was able to accompany her, which was fun.  I wish we had it on video, but obviously I wasn't in charge of the camera, so all we got was a few pictures.

The beginning of this month Christian had his state tree climbing competition finals in State College.  The day of the competition happened to be on Naomi's birthday, so we just couldn't leave her home and decided to take her along for some special mom and dad time.  She was in her glory staying at a hotel, swimming in the pool, eating out and getting drinks at Starbucks.  The competition day is a long, and most of the time is spent waiting for the other guys to go, so we had some free time to ourselves until it was Christian's time to go.  He had a great climb and placed fourth over all. 

 A few weeks ago our state representative, Marci Toepel visited our 4-H alpaca farm and our club leaders asked me to bring the kids over to show her around.  She was very nice and was the least "political" politician I have ever met (not that I have met a lot).  The kids even said she was like a "normal person."  So it was a good lesson for us all.  Even politicians can be real people, too.  She invited us to come visit her in Harrisburg and get a tour, and I think we will take her up on that next school year.

Last week Asher got some sawdust in his eye and ended up with a scratched cornea.  He had to wear a patch for a few days until it healed.  He was embarrassed about it at first and didn't want to go out until he realized that it would be funny to have Aiden draw and eyeball on his patch.

He begged me all day long to take his picture with him in bed pretending to be asleep with his patch on.  He thought it would be so hilarious.  It is pretty funny now that I look at it.  He also got quite a few double takes from people when we were out and about, which kept me snickering.

This past Sunday was so beautiful, so we headed down to Morris Arboretum for a walk through the park with Christian.  This was our fourth time down there this year already and only the first time Christian was able to go with us besides Christmas time last year.  We had a lovely time of course.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we had fun exploring parts of the arboretum that we had never seen before, most notably the Japanese gardens that are off the beaten path.  The garden railway is fantastic as well and I highly recommend a visit even just to see that display.

And we finally got a family picture at our favorite tree.  And yay, everyone is looking and smiling!

I wish I didn't have to post all these events in one post, but if I don't then it won't get done at all and I like to have it all here for posterity.  Better to blog imperfectly than not to blog at all, I say.
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