Sunday, October 31, 2004

Trick or Treating, twice the fun!

On Saturday, when Brett and Hannah were at the teen party, we decided to go out to our friend's (Cathy and Curt Alldred) house in Batavia and go trick or treating. It was so nice of the Alldred's to invite us over and the weather was perfect.

Emily wore her pioneer costume (although a couple people thought she was Amish), Grant was a nerd (complete with a hat with a spinner on top), Jacob was a slice of pizza, Cade a crocodile and Sophie an elephant. Will didn't wear his costume but we put him in a cute halloween turtleneck and he hung out in his Baby Bjorn.

The subdivision the Alldred's live in is HUGE, I don't doubt that we probably walked 4 miles. There were even two haunted houses set up that the kids loved going through. It was really nice, since the time hadn't changed yet, that we got to trick or treat for the first hour in the daylight. Cade is immensely afraid of being outside in the dark and as I predicted, he said he was done as soon as the sun went down. There are days that I am sure that those 8 minutes that kid spent without oxygen during labor warped him! Sophie was so cute. She would go up and say "trick or treat" (which sounded more like "twik or tweet") and then she would say "thank you" (which sounded like "dank u") without anyone having to remind her! This one woman got such a kick out of her that she kept dropping candy into her basket just to hear her say "thank you"! She must have given her 6 pieces of candy!

At one point when we were trick or treating I asked Cade to give me his pumpkin with candy in it because it was full to the top. I told him I would put the candy in a pillowcase for him. He absolutely REFUSED to let me carry the pillow case with his candy in it, he insisted on carrying it himself and it was so heavy! As darkness fell, Cathy and I went back to her house with the little ones and Curt took Emily and the older boys out to hit more of the subdivision.

Today was trick or treating in our subdivision. We spent the early afternoon having dinner with my mom and dad and then everyone got ready to trick or treat. Cade only went to a couple houses, he hated the dark, so I was so glad I had taken him out the night before so he could enjoy the fun! Hannah invited 3 friends to come trick or treat with her and they went off with Emily and Grant, so Jacob and I walked together. He was so sweet when we were walking he hugged me and said "thank you for making my costume". Bret, dressed up as a farmer and ended up staying home and passing out candy and kept Will (the cow) with him.

I was suprised by how many houses in our subdivision didn't have their lights on to hand out candy. It used to be when we first moved here, every house was light up. Tonight, I would say almost half the houses were dark! Despite the lack of participating houses, the kids brought home quite a haul! It is candy heaven in the Riesenberg house!

Check out some pictures....

Isn't my pumpkin so cute? Will wasn't exactly thrilled with mom's idea of the perfect photo opt! Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bonfire/Hot Dog & Marshmallow Roast/Pumpkin Carving/Movie Night!!!
Saturday, October 30 ; 6pm to 10 pm
Ages: 12 and up
Hosted by The Freson Family at their home just outside of Fayetteville

Attention, homeschoolers ages 12 an d up!! You will not want to miss out on this incredible evening. Here's what's planned. First, we'll cook hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire (yum) Then, we'll be carving pumpkins and awarding the most creative, the scariest, and the funniest. After we set them out for display with candles and all, we'll go in and watch a movie. We're hoping to see The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (or something that is supposed to be scary but is really quite funny)

This event IS far. But it will be worth the trip. For those that don't want to drive that far, we have a plan. Andrea Hall and myself will take 2 vanloads of teens to the party if you have them to Dance Etc. (on Meijer Drive in Milford, right off the expressway) by 5pm. We will bring them back there afterwards. So, PLEASE come!

Here's what to bring: The Fresons are nicely providing the food, plates, etc. Each family needs to bring a 2-litre drink and a snack or festive treat. Each person needs to bring a pumpkin (one per person).

To RSVP: Please contact Cindy and let her know if you are going directly to the Fresons or are planning to meet us at Dance Etc. in Milford.

When we first started homeschooling people WARNED us of all the things our kids would miss out on by not being "in" school. What is so funny about this is that there are actually often "too many" actvities to chose from. The wonderful thing is that the events are always well supervised by other parents that we know and trust. And the groups, though of mixed sexes and ages, aren't pairing off and "coupling".

Brett and Hannah had a wonderful time at the party. Hannah's pumpkin took second place in the pumpkin carving contest. Brett's pumpkin didn't fair nearly as well but he said he had fun carving it. They really seem to enjoy hanging out with their electic group of friends!

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Maize at Turpin Farms
Organized by Laura Riesenberg
Cost: $3.50 for kids 5 - 12; $5.00 for adults

This activity is for ALL ages, although it probably doesn’t seem like it. Teens, you will LOVE the huge corn maze that can take up to 2 hours to go through. For other ages, there is a petting zoo, hayride, cow train, pumpkin patch, hay jump, and tube slide. We plan to pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it as there are plenty of tables for picnicking. Bring a water bottle (plowing through the maize is hard work!) and a picnic lunch. Dress for the weather.

Turpin Farms is located at 3295 Turpin Lane in Newtown, Ohio on the east side of Cincinnati. Here are directions and a website. You can actually see an aerial view of the corn maze on the website. It is:

Directions:From the north, take I-275 east to Rt. 32 West (exit 63A) towards Newtown. Follow Rt. 32 west for about 5.5 miles. Go through Newtown and turn left on Turpin Lane.From downtown Cincinnati (and KY) take Columbia Parkway (OH 50) east to the Beechmont Levee (OH 125) and go east. Go across the levee to the Rt. 32 exit. Follow Rt. 32 east for about 1.5 miles and turn right on Turpin Lane.

What an absolutely wonderful day. It was a bit overcast and I was worried it might rain (the weatherman said we had a 30% chance) but it turned out absolutely wonderful. It was overcast and in the low 70's.

We were the first family to get to Turpin Farms (probably a good thing since we were the ones organizing the event) and slowly our friends began to show up. It was a tremendous crowd we ended up with 20 teens/adults and 27 children aged 5-12 participating, plus about 7 moms and numerous toddlers who just ended up hanging out while the rest of the group plodded through the maze.

Will was a bit hungry (and my boobs a bit FULL since he had only nursed once since 10 PM last night) so we opted to hang out and nurse. Sophie and Cade played on the playgound equipment and in the haydive while the older kids were off doing their thing in the maze. It was great because Kas and I got to talk while the kids played. We even had the opportunity to enjoy the company of some other homeschooling moms.

It took the kid about 1 1/2 hours to complete the maze and then they came and found us, hungry and tired ready for lunch. Amazing as it might be, Brett and Grant didn't get LOST in the maze this year (last year the two of them and another boy, Michael took about 1 1/2 LONGER than everyone else to emerge from the maze). The yellow jackets were everywhere, one of the pitfalls of fall picnicing! It made it really hard for the little ones to drink the soft drinks we brought with us!

The farm was peppered with adorable farm cats, one of which was so friendly it would cuddle up with anyone and let them hold and pet it. It even decided to take a nap in the Ridiman's stroller. There were also numerous chickens waddling around the farm.

We were really thrilled when the woman in charge of the farm came over and apologized, saying they were out of the small "pie" pumpkins we were supposed to get as part of the tour (we hadn't known about getting pumkins) and said that the kids could pick out ANY pumpkin they could CARRY as their "free" pumpkin. The kids were THRILLED as I think most of the pumpkins they picked would have cost more than the $3.50 admission they paid to get in. So for less than the cost of the pumpkin, they got to go through the maze, go on a hayride, ride the cowtrain, sit around a huge bonfire, and enjoy the fellowship of their homeschooling buddies!

Check out some of the pictures taken at the farm...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

4 months old!

Where has the time gone?

I took Will to JC Penney's today to have his 4 month picture taken. We got there early so I would have time to nurse him and get him dresses. Once he had finsihed nursing I put his cute little pumpkin one piece outfit on him. Orange is definitely a good color on him!

After he was dressed, i was holding him in my lap with his face supported by my hand. He managed to get my thumb into his mouth and bit down.....lo and behold I felt something HARD push against my skin. My sweet Will had cut his first tooth! I can't BELIEVE that he has a tooth! I haven't had a chance to look in eveyone's baby books, but I think he is my earliest teether (and is DEFINATELY the earliest if you adjust his age since he was a preemie). Brett didn't get a tooth until he was 11 months old! I looked at him and said "CONGRATULATIONS!" and he got this HUGE smile on his little face!

We finally got in to get the pictures taken. Only 30 minutes behind schedule, but no big deal since he was in a good mood and the other kids were at home! Can't say I was all that happy with the photographer, she seemed to snap every photo just a second too late, I really like the other photographer much better! But we got one REALLY good picture, so I can't complain!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Just out of reach......

After changing Will's diaper, he seemed to be in an unusually good mood, so I decided to leave him to play on the living room floor. Maybe, just maybe, I could check my emails without holding him! He was laying on this back enjoying the sights and sounds (Cade was talking to him), the next thing I know he is laying on his stomach! The little turkey managed to roll over from back to tummy, just one day shy of being 4 months old!

Once he was on his stomach, I decided to put some toys on the floor with him so he would have something to look at. If the floor was the face of a watch, I placed a baby mirror at 9 o'clock, a stuffed activity octopus at 12 o'clack and a little bug rattle at 3 o'clock. He was all excited and was kicking his legs and looking around. He spotted the bug and managed to turn his body to it was directly in front of him (he had been pointing at the octopus) then he started moving his arms like CRAZY trying to reach the bug rattle. He had never purposefully reached for anything. After about 10 minutes of trying (and a little scootch of the toy by mom) it was within fingers reach, he grabbed it, got this HUGE smile on his mouth, and shoved it into his mouth!

How quickly they go from BLOB BABY to an ACTIVE CURIOUS baby is growing up, a bit too fast for mom's liking!

Sunday, October 24, 2004


As part of the requirements for doing a solo, the dancers at our studio are required to have their routines critiqued by a master teacher. Sunday at 12:30 PM was Hannah's first critic session.

Miss Becky's fist comment to Hannah was "this certainly isn't the little girl dances I have seen the last couple of years." Both Hannah and I figured that was a huge compliment. She seemed to really like the routine, of course she kept telling Hannah to work on technique and to watch her thumbs (Hannah has a tendency to point her thumbs up...think the Fonz from Happy Days minus the fist....instead of keeping them tucked in).

It was the first time I had seen the whole routine, beginning to end, with music. I really like it. Of course I am probably prejudice, after all it is my child up there dancing! I can't wait until Feb. to see how well it scores in front of the judges!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Football Frenzy.....

Saturday is football day. Somehow during the summer in my post pregnancy haze, I agreed to let Grant and Jacob play football. All things considered it has been a very positive experience for both of them. Jacob enjoys being part of a team, and Grant, well, Grant is a natural athlete.

Jay had meeting Saturday morning and the girls went to dance, so that left Brett and me to take on football duty. We were scheduled to play out in Felicity, a good 30 miles from here, down country winding roads. It took us almost 45 minutes to get to the fields. It was damp and cold, not the best weather for having toddler at the game, but after 2 trips to the concession stand, we got them settled. We thought we had an easy morning in front of us, both teams that we were playing hadn't won a game yet this year, boy were we wrong.....

Jacob's game was first. Jacob, who is usually only involved in a play if it is directly in front of him, actually had 7 tackles! It was unbelievable! The kids on his team were so excited to win for the second time this season. He was so excited at the end of the game when all his coaches kept grabbing his helmet and hugging his head telling him what a great game he had. He was BEAMING from ear to ear!

During Grant's game, Brett has been given the responsibility of filming the game for the coaches to review. Brett loves the job and takes it seriously, unfortunately that leaves me with Will, Sophie, Cade and Jacob Cade to keep track of while trying to watch Grant play.

Grant's game seemed to start out OK, but on our first possession the field was littered with the ref's flags. He made no signal to indicate the penalty he just moved the ball back 10 yards. We were penalized on each possession without so much as being told the penalty. To top it off, we ended up with 2 penalties called on our coach, one on the bench and one on the parents. To anyone watching it appeared that the refs were doing everything they could to hand Felicity their first win of the season. At the end of regulation, the game was scoreless. We were headed for overtime.

The first overtime begins with Felicity getting the ball on the 10 yardline. They have four attempts to score and miraclously we hold them off. The Bulldogs then get the ball on the 10 and get four attempts to score. Bet you can't guess what happened? We are penalized and the ball is moved back 10 yards. We don't manage to score. The second overtime begins with Felicity getting the ball on the 5 yard line. We manage to keep the team to neagative yardage. We get our shot to score. The ball in INTERCEPTED! So we head to the third overtime.

Felicity starts out with the ball on the 2.5 yard line. This possession they manage to score, but they don't make the 2 pt conversion. We get the ball back for one last try. One the first play we are penalized 10 yards, but we don't lose the down. We run three more plays and come close but don't manage to score. The other team starts CELEBRATING when it is pointed out rather LOUDLY that we still have one more possession. We line the boys up and they run an end around and SCORE! You should have heard the parent ROAR! We have a chance to win the game if we can score on the 2 pt conversion. They run the opposite direction, faking out the other team and trip over the goal line.......BULLDOGS WIN! BULLDOGS WIN! BULLDOGS WIN! The parents were hoopin' and hollerin' like we had just won the superbowl!

Grant's team is now 5 and 1, tied for second place in the league....we play the team we are tied with next weekend. Bet it will be another EXCITING GAME!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village
Friday, October 22, 2004; 9:30am – 2pm
Cost: $5 per student: babies, toddlers, preschoolers and parents arefree
Organized by: Laura Riesenberg

Bring a picnic lunch (there are no vending machines or food available)and dress for the weather. Learn about life on the Ohio Frontier. There will be live demonstrations, children's games (always a fun way to burnoff some energy), and hands on activities to excite and inspire students of all ages highlighting the early settlers and pioneers from Ohio in the late 1700's to early 1800's. There is a touring group who will be staffing the village in full colonial and pioneer dress. I have spoke with Shelley, the school days coordinator, and she is thrilled to have our group out on Friday, October 22 and she has said that she will try to make this day HOMESCHOOL ONLY (although when we visited a few years ago there were school groups there and it wasn't an issue). This was by far our favorite Ohio history "fieldtrip" and the lessons we learned at CCPV have stuck with us even years later. As an adult, I was amazed at the things I "didn't know" about the history ofour region.

Directions: From Cincinnati, Ohio: I-71 North to State Route 73, Turnleft onto SR 73, Turn left onto Oregonia Road, then right onto Pioneer Village Road.

Although the weather was a bit chilly and overcast, it was a great day for an outing to CCPV. We had an absolutely great turn out. After a brief orientation, we headed over to the school house. The school master certain strikes fear in all who enter and serves to reaffirm to my younger children who have never been in school that school isn't someplace they want to go! The Ridiman's showed up right after we toured the schoolhouse (Kas had made a wrong turn off the expressway) so we spent the rest of the day trekking around with them.

Our next stop was to learn about music from the period and the re-enactor played the penny whistle and dulicmer for us. From there it was on to "children's work" to learn about the tasks children from this period would have engaged in. It is hard to believe that by 2 years old, my unruly toddler would have been expected to chase away crows from the crop and to help with spinning. From there we went to play outdoor games which the children really enjoyed and helped to burn off some energy. Next stop, the Quaker Meeting house where we heard from a re-enactor portraying Betsy Ross. We left the meeting house and went to drive the oxen. Unfortunately, one of the oxen that we had seen during our previous visits had died and they were training a new oxen team, Cade was really sad about the oxen dying.

We went and enjoyed lunch and socialized with the other families. Then it was off to explore more of the villiage. We learned about harvesting flax and making linen, I can not comprehend having to make my clothes from a crop I grew in the field, let alone having only one outfit to wear! We then learned about rope making and ended our day learning about treaty negotiations on the frontier.

The kids had a ball and eveyone learned something new. Emily came home and wants some "frontier" clothes, so we are going to check into making some...or maybe I will see if ebay has anything to offer!

Check out some photos from our fun filled day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Basketball, part 2.....

The tryouts seemed to go very well and at the end of the second session the coach approached Brett and Jay and asked if Jay would want to help coach and if they could make Tues. afternoon practices. Things seemed to have fallen into place perfectly, that was until Monday night.

The phone rang and it was John, the boys basketball coordinator. He was calling to say that Brett was on the "B" team and wanted to know if Jay was interested in coaching. Jay told John that he had been told by the coach that Brett was on the "A" team and then John told him that the coach told him that he wasn't. Jay was absolutely devestated. It wasn't so much that Brett hadn't made the team, but that the coach had said he was on the team and it now fell upon Jay to tell him otherwise.

Jay broke down in tears. He couldn't even get the words out to tell Brett without crying. Brett was really upset. I suspect he was pissed off at Jay and I for making him switch teams. He didn't say anything.

Jay confessed that he has a lot of hate in his heart right now. He said "You can fuck with me all you want, but don't fuck with my kids."

We shall see how this all plays out!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Archiver's Scrapbook Store in Mason
Oct 19: 10 AM to noon
Girl Scout event

Laura wrote: I think that teaching our daughters how to create scrapbooks is a skill that will serve them well as homeschoolers. It is the perfect way for them to answer the question "so what do you do all day?". The women at Archiver's have agreed to teach the girls (and any moms) how to create a scrapbook page. The cost for the supplies is $5 and they have cool, funky albums available for $10 for those who wish to purchase them (so if you want an album the cost is $15). Have your daughter bring a recent picture of herself that she really likes with her to use in creating an "all about me" page and we will also be creating a page with the pictures from Mio's Pizzeria. Moms, if you want to join us, bring 6-8 photos related to one theme (birthday, holiday, vacation). Archiver's is located on Mason-Montgomery Rd next to Borders.

What absolutely great fun! The women at Archiver's taught the girls how to scrapbook. They each created a page using the pictures we took at Mio's last week. It was interesting to watch how the pages evolved. The girls also picked out supplies to do an "All About Me" page. Their pages were as varied as the girls themselves!

After the class (and a little bit of shopping!) Kas, her girls, my girls, Will and me went to Panera for lunch. Oh how I love the greek salad! It was nice just HANGING OUT! Kas and I both think we need to set up a monthly scrapping date so that we can get some work done in our albums. Emily and Tabby of course weasled their ways into having Emily stay at Tabby's house, they have gotten pretty good at overcoming any objections that the adults might pose.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Tour the UnMuseumContemporary Art Center Downtown Cincinnati
Monday, October 18, 10 – 11:30 am
Organized by: Laura P.

Laura P. wrote: Tour the UnMuseum, the Center's unique, 6th floor education facility for children. A docent will conduct us on a tour, leading thought-provoking discussions about the UnMuseum's interactive works of art for children. The tour will be followed by a hands-on art projectin the new Art Lab.

Since my own formal expose to art has been quite limited, I always jump at the chance to expose my children to art in all its forms. It wasn't until I was in the 9th grade and on a class trip to Chicago that I stepped into an art museum for the first time. Even though there were a couple of wonderful art museums in Cincinnati, my parents never bothered to take my brother or me to them. I found the museum in Chicago to be overwhelming and wonderful at the same time and drove the teacher absolutely nuts with all of my questions. Of course, being in a typical school setting, my "outside the box" questions were looked at as an annoyance.

As a young adult I visited the Contemporary Art Center for the first time. Jay and I went to see the Maplethorpe exibit, mostly out of curiosity since it raised such a stink in the local community. I went to see they exhibit for the same reason I went to the Hustler store when it opened. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Back to my point. Since having children, I have made an effort to expose them to art. It started when they were little and we would take advantage of free Sundays at the art museum. On more than one occasion, we have had security follow us through the museum, assuming that there is no way that their priceless treasures will survive the hoard! Surprisingly, the kids have always understood the "look and don't touch" concept.

When I saw a post on a local homeschooling list about the Contemporary Art Center's Unmuseum I was intrigued and eager to join the adventure. As an UNschooler and UNmuseum sounded like the perfect place for us! Brett and Hannah were at Monday school, so the younger set and I headed downtown, dispite torrentual rain. We parked a couple of blocks from the center and quickly made our way through the rain. One can only IMAGINE how much fun it is dragging a baby, toddler and preschooler who is terrified of thunder and lightening through the busy downtown streets. But we would soon find out that our efforts would be rewarded!

We were the first to arrive (it always amazes me that the lady with all the kids is usually early and the one with a single older child is usually late, but I digress....) but we were soon joined by about 7 other families. A docent broke our group into two smaller groups and we were led to the 6th floor. The docent was engaging and you could tell that she really enjoyed her work. The museum was warm and inviting, encouraging touch and interaction. Sophie and Cade really liked enteracting with the pieces, especially the robotic tree that responded to their movements and "peed" from his branches. This was far from your typical art museum!

At the end of the tour, we each got to make our own sculpture with model magic. The kids had great fun "creating"! Now I just wonder how they will do in a few weeks when we tour the regular art museum and its "hands off" policy! Maybe those security guards will actually have something to worry about this time!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Just how fast.....

In case you have ever wondered just how fast one can drive a 15 passenger van before it begins to vibrate uncontrollable, the answer would be 91 MPH.

I can upon the answer to this question quite by accident earlier today. It was a fairly typical Saturday morning. Emily needed to be at the dance studio by 8:20 AM for her private lesson and Jacob and Grant boys needed to be at the football field by 9 AM. Usually, I take Emily to dance and then Hannah, Sophie, Will and I run to a few yardsales and met up with Jay and the boys at the football fields. This being said, the football helmets and shoulder pads tend to stay in the trunk of Jay's minivan, so that they don't clutter up the living room.

Well, this morning, it was cold and wet. Jay wanted to run errands and neither of us wanted to sit at the football fields in the cold for over an hour waiting on the games to start. Knowing that Jay would be in a bad mood if I didn't let him get the errands ran, I told him that I would drive to football if he took Emily to the studio. He agreed and said he would try to make it to the fields by the start of Jacob's game, but that he might be a bit late. A few minutes later I hear him walk out the front door. When I don't hear him walk back into the house, I walk into the living room and peer out the window to see that he has already pulled out of the driveway and is heading out of the subdivision. As I step onto the front porch, he is at the end of the you see where this is going? Those damn shoulder pads and helmets are in his trunk!

OK, unlike the majority of Americans, we don't have a cell phone and I know I am totally F*CKED if I don't have the shoulder pads and helmets! I yell to Brett and Hannah to finish getting the boys ready and the baby and Sophie dressed. I don't think to tell them to try to call the dance studio to tell Jay to wait on me. It isn't until I am pulling out of the driveway I realize that I have to CATCH UP with him BEFORE he heads out on his errands since I have no idea exactly were he is planning to go! The pursuit begins....

Jay is a creature of habit and I know I have a chance to beat him to the main intersection if I take Summerside instead of Beechwood. I barrel down the main road at a steady 55 MPH, just barely over the 45 MPH speed limit. I pass the old man out for his Saturday stroll and actually make it to the main intersection at almost the same time as Jay. If the intersection was a clock, I would have been at 6 and he would have been at 3. I am HONKING the horn like crazy, everyone else is rolling down their windows and looking at me, but not my husband who is absorbed in his own world. I guess having 8 kids tends to teach one to block out annoying noises. His light turns green and he heads onto the expressway, I have to sit through his light and then have to make a left hand turn onto the main road and then merge onto the expressway. I can't see his minivan, but know that he NEVER exceeds the speed limit, so I figure I can catch him if I EXCEED it the van begins to vibrate and I look at the speedometer, I make a note....passenger van vibrates excessively at 91 mph. I see him barely ahead in the right hand lane so I pull up next to him, again HONKING my horn. Does he look over? NOPE! Not until I get slightly ahead of him and roll down the van window and am still honking the horn......he looks at me confused and rolls down his window and I shout "SHOULDER PADS" at the top of my lungs. The look on his face was priceless. Of course we had just passed an exit, so we had to drive another 2 miles to the next exit. We exchanged equipment at the top of the exit ramp. We both went on our merry ways.

By the time I got home, everyone was ready to walk out the door. We actually made it to the football fields ON TIME!

Jacob's team won for the first time this season. Grant's team continued on with their impressive winning streak.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004 – 11am
Park Program: Tree Identification at Pattison Park on (located on Rt 50 in Owensville)
Organized by: Laura Riesenberg

Laura writes – We will meet near the lake. Alethia Pattison donated her 23 acres of land the Clermont County Park District, known as Pattison Park, "to be used as a bird and small animal sanctuary and as a preserve for trees and flowers". The park district has honored her wish and Pattison Park provides a great diversity of trees. Walk along the interpretive tree trail and you will discover more about Ohio'sterrific trees. You will also learn to use a key to identify native trees. Program is geared for 3rd grade and up, but he said that the younger kids will still get a lot out of the program. We plan to picnic and play following the hike (Pattison Park has a wonderful playground and shelter area with picnic tables).

What a wonderful program. The weather was a bit overcast and cool, but it didn't keep people from coming out and joining us. Keith showed us how to use a "Tree ID" book to figure out what kind of tree we had found and we walked around and used the guide to identify 5 different trees. I think the moms learned as much if not more than the kids. We were joined newest naturalist at the Clermont County parks, Sheila, and she is absolutely wonderful, just like Keith.

After the tour we picniced under the shelter and the kids played. Two new homeschooling families joined us and it was great getting to know Amber (Hannah and Ashton) and Michelle (Nathan). We talked about our homeschooling philosophies and why homeschooling was so important to us. We were all a bit shocked when we realized it was after 2 PM and we were all still sitting at the park just talking away!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Will enjoying his predigested pizza during our Mio's Pizza tour Posted by Hello

Troop #8259 on our tour of Mio's Pizza Posted by Hello
Girl Scout meeting
Tuesday, October 12 10:30 AM -noon
Mio's Pizza in Milford

Laura wrote: Join us for FUN and PIZZA MAKING on Tuesday, October 12 at 10:30 AM at Mio's Pizza in Milford (directions below). The cost of pizza making is $3 per girl and I figure most will want a soft drink and we need to leave a tip, so please have your daughter bring $5 with her. Siblings are welcome (but remember we are touring a kitchen and stoves are HOT)but will need to pay if they want to make pizzas. I do need a count to give the manager, so let me know if you will have siblings with you.

Directions: Take I-275 to exit #59 A (Milford Parkway).....turn right at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow to the first traffic light. Turn right at the first light (Target will be on your left and the strip mall the Mios is in on your right)...turn right into the strip mall's parking lot. Mios is at the far end.

What great fun we had touring Mio's and making our own pizzas. I think the girls were really impressed with what goes into food preparation and also with how clean the restaraunt was. Owner Bob Ballinger gave us a tour of the kitchen, seating area, dishwashing area and walk in freezer. Each girl made her own pizza and then ate it for lunch! I took tons of pictures for the girls to use next week when we do our scrapbooking class at Archivers.

Unfortunately, Emily started puking right after we left the restaraunt so we probably exposed everyone to a stomach bug. I have no idea where she could have picked it up! When I got home, I found out Cade, Jacob and Grant had all started puking right after I left for the tour. Oh, how I HATE puking kids!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Basketball is life.....

Brett has played basketball with the same group of boys since he was in kindergarten. All in all they were a pretty decent group of boys, less one with a terrible attitude. The parents, on the other hand, would have made great material for a talk show. They were terrible. At every turn they were plotting against the coaching staff if little "Johnny" wasn't playing the entire game or arguing with referees to the point of being ejected from games. Years ago I had had enough, but Jay wanted to stick with it, he didn't think it was fair to not let Brett play with his friends. And because for many of the years he was the head coach. He was looking forward to coaching the boys their final season together. That was until this summer. By the grace of God (aided by the actions of some of the most troublesome parents on the team), Jay finally agreed that he had had enough and that we needed to find Brett a new team to play with. The search was quite simple, just a hop, skip and a jump from here but now we have to worry about "if" Brett will make the "A" team. It is tough in the 8th grade to earn your way onto an exisiting team, because it means that someone who has been on the team will get moved to the "B" team.

There are 2 evaluation sessions to determine who will be placed on what team. The first was Saturday. Brett looked slow and out of shape, but you could tell he had the skills needed to play. The final evaluation is next Saturday and hopefully by then Brett will look "ready" to play the game.

The funny thing is that Jay and I seem more "hung up" on him making the "A" team than he does. Maybe it is because he loves the game and he knows he gets to play either way. Or maybe he just isn't going to let us know how much this all means to him. He was perfectly willing to switch teams because it was what his father thought was best, but I sometimes wonder if his heart is still with his old team.

So this week, I will bit my nails and say a few prayers, that my little boy, whose first words he ever uttered were "I think I want to go outside and shoot basketball", will make it on the "A" team and prepare myself for the reality that he might not. In the larger scheme of things, making a team isn't that big of a deal, but it sure would be nice if he does!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Freedom Center....

We invited some friends to meet us downtown and play at the park at Sawyer Point, have a picnic lunch and then head up to the new Underground Railroad Freedom Center. One friend's kids got sick (and thankfully she was kind enough to stay home rather than risk infecting us), the other had a disaster with a gallon of lavender paint so she and her girls couldn't come. Not the type of people to be deterred from a good plan, the kids and I decided to go it alone.

We started off with a quick stop at the book sale at the Campbell County Library. Always looking for interesting books for reading or alterning, we aren't ones to pass on a booksale. $13.50 later we walked out with 2 large bags full of books. Thrilled with our finds, we headed across the river and to the park. Cade was so excited when he saw the playground, he said it looked like a castle. The playground is great, accessible to everyone and has that wonderful cushiony play surface that seems to lessen mishaps. Of course it wasn't very crowded, a playground, downtown on a weekday afternoon on a school day, you are almost guarenteed to find things deserted.

After playing for about 45 minutes we ate our picnic lunch and then decided to trek up to the Freedom Center. It was a bit of a walk, but once I park the monster van downtown there is no way I am moving it. Plus parking at Sawyer Point is a mere $2 for the whole day, much cheaper than the $10 it would be up near the center. Will happily hung out in his baby bjorn front pack and we pushed Sophie in the stoller, I knew that her two year old legs wouldn't make it on the long walk and then the museum tour. Everyone else walked along, they do amazingly well for "country" kids, dealing with city traffic. They seem to know to stop at the corners, stay out of the road and watch for crosslights. Walking the busy streets of dowtown with kids in tow is always an adventure, but we safely made it to our destination.

We were fortunate to have been given a free one year membership to the freedom center, because we certainly couldn't have afforded the admission. At $12 for adults and $8 for students, it would have never have been in the budget.

I don't know what I expected the freedom center to be like, but I thought it might be overwhelming and depressing. I was pleasantly surprised! The kids loved the place. The tour begins with a film entitles "Midnight Decision" where a young slave makes the decision to leave his mother and sister and run North to freedom. After watching the film you go into an exhibit hall full of artifacts, interactive displays and interactive computer games. We read the story of a slave who shipped himself to Philadelphia in a SMALL box (and he was a big man), saw a mock up of a house that might be on the underground railroad, and huge timelines spread out across the walls. From that exhibit we went into another theater and saw a film about 2 influencial people from the Northern Ky/Cincinnati area, John Parker and John Rankin. As that film ended, you are ushered to "begin" your journey to freedom. The theater we were lead into, filled with a mist, was meant to represent the Kentucky bank of the Ohio River. You join a slave on her journey across the river. The film is overwhelming, moving, engaging. At the end of the film we walked out and looked at the Slave Pen.

We went up to the third floor to visit exhibits on Everyday Freedom Heroes and also the Unfreedom exhibit that reveal human rights and contemporary slavery issues. There was another wonderful interactive area for the kids with computers, drawing paper and magnetic poetry. We then went to another exhibit that showed the history of slavery and representations of slave ships, graphics of how many slaves were placed on each ship, and watch another film regarding the history of slavery. Emily's comment as we walked out of the film was that she was proud to be Abraham Lincoln's great, great, great, great, great, great cousin because he helped free the slaves.

There was so much to take in, I am sure we missed many things. We plan to go back again soon and see what else we can take in. Like I said, I was pleasantly suprised by what a great experience touring the freedom center was for our family. I have recommended visiting to everyone I ran into this evening.

I never know just how much the younger kids take in when we go places. My theory on learning is that they will process and retain what they can. Before they went to bed, Emily, Grant, Jacob and Cade invented a new game. It was called "EXCAPE!" and two of them were excaping slaves, trying to make their way to freedom in Canada and the other two were the slave owner and the bounty hunter (complete with a play horse and toy gun). The slaves snuck through the house and finally arrived in Canada (the family room) and celebrated by dancing, kissing the ground, and shaking whoever was in the family room hand! I guess they absorbed plenty!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Brett and Hannah at the Ronald McDonald House. Hannah front row in striped top, Brett back row is red Nebraska pullover Posted by Hello
Ronald McDonald House:

From Chris: I'm heading to the Ronald McDonald House and need help with food, meal preparation and clean up. We will leave on Thursdays (see dates below) at 4:30 p.m. from St. Andrew's Gym parking lot. We will cook, clean up and head home around 7:30 p.m. We are usually home by 8 p.m.

Menu: to be determines but I need kids to provide the food, prepare at RMH or at home and re-heat when we get to RMH. Plan to serve 40 people, so we need lots of food.

Dates we will be going to RMH: Thursday, October 7 (Octoberfest); Thursday, November 4 (Thanksgiving); Thursday, December 2 (Light the Night at RMH)

In my inifinite mom wisdom, I decided this would be the prefect service opportunity for both Hannah and Brett. Brett tried to play the "headache" card (as a kid with hydrocephalus, he knows that a headache will get him out of just about anything), but mom was wise to the plan and told him to take two tylenol and drink a coke. I dropped them off at St. Andrews, devilled eggs and mashed potatoes in hand and they headed down with 4 other kids to help serve dinner. They were both actually GLOWING when they got home. They really enjoyed themselves. Hannah is even asking when she will be old enough to volunteer at RMH. They both want to go back and participate next month. See, sometimes mom is right!

From Chirs post visit: Laura, you can be so proud of your kids. They walked in and needed very little direction. Hannah did an awesome job talking to the residents and just listening. Tell them there is a SMILE youth group meeting on Sunday night in St. Andrew's basement for kids grades 7-12. They divide up junior high and high school for small groups. Let them know Meredith will be there (she's home-schooled and she's a peer minister). I'll mark them down for November. We're doing a Thanksgiving dinner and details are forthcoming.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bike Ride
Wednesday, October 6; 9:30 A.M. - ?

Meet at Loveland Bike Trail in Nisbet Park/Loveland
Organized by Cindy Led by Ken, Cindy’s dad, avid bike enthusiast.

From Cindy: Calling all bike riders. My father, who has led bike rides for years, wants to lead a homeschooler’s bike ride. We’ll meet in Nisbet Park and the group would ride about 1 ½ hours. Then, they’ll stop for lunch and rest and then ride back. Total time for ride would be about 4 hours. For siblings too young or not interested, there is play equipment and a river to throw stones in. I will be riding in the back to help anyone with trouble or to go back with those who want to turn around.

Brett, Emily and Grant joined Cindy, her kids, her dad and another family for the 27.4 mile bike ride today! When we got to the bike trail, we were the only ones there (how on earth can the woman with 8 kids beat anyone anyplace is completely beyond me!) and just as I was getting out of the car to go and find a payphone Cindy and her dad pulled in. The kids were really excited but I was apprehensive about Grant, at 8, riding that far.

While the kids rode, I went and dropped Hannah off at the dance studio to assist, shopped at the scrapbook store, stopped at Wendy's to feed the little ones lunch, popped into Half Price Books, ran into Girl Scout Council to get registration forms (somehow I misplaced the originals), visited my favorite resale shop and then went back and let the kids play at the park until Brett, Emily and Grant were finished.

They returned about 2 PM, exhausted but excited about their ride. Grant apparently had some "bike issues" where his tempremental chain popped off, but they were able to fix it and he finished the ride. According to Cindy's dad, Emily was the only one who "followed the rules" out of everyone on the ride. Figures Miss Eager to Please would do what she was told!

In the van on the way home I asked Brett is the trail was flat or uphill/down hill...his response..."well they told us it was uphill one way and down the other, but I think it was up hill the WHOLE time!".

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

October 5, 11:00 am
Waste Management/Recycling
AJ Jolly Park Campbell County, KY
Organizer: Laura P.

Laura P. wrote: The naturalist will show the kids an enviroscape landfill model, and go through the processes that occur in a landfill. We will cover natural decomposition outdoors at the nature center, as well a recycling and what shouldn’t be put into the landfill at all. RSVP to Laura P.

The kids and I decided to join everyone for the Recycling tour. Stupid mom that I am, didn't quite understand what she signed up for. I thought we were touring a RECYCLING PLANT, but it ended up being a program on recycling at a Kentucky park. Not that I am complaining. It was a great presentation about landfills, recycling and then about how nature recycles! The naturalist did a great job and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, I was just happy to get out in the beautiful weather! After he used a model to explain modern landfills and how the differ from old time dumps and talked about the benefits of recycling, we headed out for a hike to see how nature takes care of her trash.

Each of the kids were given a worksheet, kind of a nature scavenger hunt. They looked for things like ants, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, wildflowers, algae, mold, fungi, and moss. They had great fun trapsing through the woods, turning over logs and recording their findings.

After we were done hiking, we sat at the picnic tables and had lunch, it was a beautiful day!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

If you give a Mom a Muffin.....
Written by Allison L. Wischer

If you give a Mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
The coffee will get spilled by her three year old.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she will find some dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do some laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over some snow boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan dinner for tonight.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She will look for her cookbook (101 Things to Make with a Pound
of Hamburger).
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two year old.
While she is changing the two year old, the phone will ring.
Her four year old will answer it and hang up.
She remembers that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee on Friday.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some.
And chances are......
If she has a cup of coffee......
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.
Now I get it......

Written by Janet Konttinen
San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 1997

I remember seeing a kid in the grocery store with dirt and old food on his face, wearing a filthy T-shirt, barefoot and eating a two-pound candy bar. I couldn't imagine why his mother had brought him to the store looking that way and why she would give him a candy bar at 10 in the morning. That was before I had four kids. Now I know why.

His face was dirty because he was going through a phase in which having his face wiped seemed worse to him than getting beaten. She chose not to do either. His T-shirt was filthy because it was his favorite one. He wore it every day and every night. Just as they were walking out the door to go to the store, he had pulled it out of the clothes hamper and surprised her with it at the front door. By then she didn't dare risk interrupting the momentum she'd built toward the car by going back into the house to get a clean one. He had shoes on when they left for the store, but he took them of in the car and threw one out the window on ! the freeway. She was relieved it was the left shoe, since he'd thrown a right one out the window the week before. He was eating a big candy bar because she had promised him he could pick out his own treat at the store if he didn't throw the cat into the pool for a whole week. She was desperate because it was the neighbor's cat and couldn't swim.

I used to think that my children would eat only fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and free-range chicken. Now I look forward to our semiweekly luncheon at McDonald's. I have acquired a genuine love for secret sauce, and relish the fact that my kids can't do anything wrong there. This includes drenching their french fries in ketchup, then spitting their cola out on top of the fries, molding the whole mess into a big ball, then throwing it at one another.

Before, when I would see a woman wheeling a kid around in a dirty stroller, I'd ask myself, "Why did she give birth to that child if she didn't plan to keep the stroller! clean?" The other week at my annual stroller washing party, I found ground cover growing in the storage compartment of one of mine.

When I would see children throwing fits in public, I would wonder why the parents didn't just tie the kids' arms and legs together and put them in the trunk of the car until they had finished shopping. Now I know it's because they left the rope at home.

When several children were screaming in an airplane, I'd wonder why there wasn't a separate airplane, and a separate planet, for kids. I know now that their parents wish the same thing and that they had to take the kids to attend the family reunion at Aunt Lois' so they could see Uncle George before he kicked the bucket.The kids were crying because their parents wouldn't let them eat the headset, stick their fingers in the ear of the lady in front of them, or press the attendant call button for the 100th time. The parents were preoccupied with trying to decide where to change the ! really smelly diaper. Should they change it on the seat next to the couple on their honeymoon, or on the floor in the back where five perky flight attendants were playing bumper cars with those one-ton food carts? Forget the bathroom. They were designed to hold one person with short legs. The parents feared that the smell would cause a panicky passenger to pull open the emergency exit in order to trigger the release of the oxygen masks, and they'd all be sucked out of the airplane.

Now when I see a little girl wearing cowboy boots on the wrong feet, a pink bathing suit on backward and Army helmet, I think "She IS absolutely sure that her shoes are on the right feet, and she likes the way the helmet looks with the swimsuit. And, no, she doesn't want to wear a jacket because 'she likes to be cold'. She is happy."

Friday, October 01, 2004

Oh, no! The BIG 4-0!

Jay is officially 40! Hard to believe that it has been over 18 years since we first met, seems like a lifetime ago....anyhow.....

The week leading up to this momentous birthday was certainly worse than the day itself. Jay has been moody and depressed, but once the clock struck midnight (wonderful wife that I am, I woke him up to wish him a happy birthday!) and it was "officially" his birthday, his mood seemed to improve, kind of like he just accepted the inedivitable. I kept reminding him it was much better than the alternative!

We went out to dinner at Coconut Grove over in Newport, the food was good but overpriced. Dinner out alone was nice, not having to worry about Sophie climbing under the table or one of the kids spilling something made dining a much more enjoyable event. While we were gone, the kids cleaned the house and decorated. When we got home we celebrated with a cake decorated with the Grim Reaper on it. We opened presents, mostly small useful things, but he seemed happy with his haul!

Jay had refused to let us throw a big party for him, but promised that when he turns 50 that he wants a big birthday bash! 10 years to plan it, by then Brett and Hannah will both be adults and Emily will be almost 21! Grant will be 18 and Jacob 16 and baby Will will be 10! Believe me, I am in no hurry for the next 10 years to fly by!

Now I wonder what is in store for me on my birthday?

Emily and Tabby at Juat About Fish Posted by Hello

Hannah and Mandy doing the craft at Just About Fish Posted by Hello
Just About Fish Tour and craft
Harper’s Station
Host: Julieanne

We'll take a tour of the store, get to hold starfish and possibly horseshoe crabs, feed the turtles in the pond, and make a craft. Thanks to Laura for all the help!

Directions: I-71 to 275 East 1st exit is Montgomery Road Right off exit onto Montgomery Road Store is up on left, in Harper's Station, near Bova Furniture

What great fun our outing to Just About Fish was. By far the kids favorite thing was the small musk turtle, of course with 5 turtles at home they are a bit partial to turtles! Jacob and Cade also loved holding the starfish. Hannah and Emily were just THRILLED that Mandy and Tabby were there to hang out with since they hadn't seen them if a few weeks!

After the tour we made small "fake" aquariums in plastic bottles. It was a bit more challenging than the directions would have led one to believe, but the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

After we were finished with the craft, 3 other families joined us for lunch at Taco Casa, it was quite a sight, us walking in with 15 kids and ordering lunch. The funniest thing was the cashier, Brett was standing next to me holding the baby and I was ordering the food. The cashier looked at him and then said to me "what does your HUSBAND want to eat?" I just about burst out I know Brett looks older than 13 and could probably pass for 16, but to be old enough to be married to gotta be kidding! Needless to say, we think the poor cashier must need a raise so she can afford a new pair of glasses!