Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

We went to mass yesterday.... Jay took the kids at 3 PM, I stayed home with Luke and the dog and started dinner, we had dinner and opened gifts and then I went to 10 PM mass alone....I bawled on the way there when this stupid song came on the radio that for some reason always makes me think of my dad...its a frickin rap song...lol.... "I'll be missing You" by Puff Daddy, I highlighted the parts that make my cry...yesterday they made me just bawl! I even ended up crying during mass, but I wasn't sobbing like I did in the car. Good thing I got there 30 minutes early so I had time to collect myself....bad thing was I had Jay's van so I had to scrounge around for fast food napkins to blow my nose and wipe my eyes...I always have kleenex in my van!

Verse one: puff daddy
Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show
I laced the track, you locked the flow
So far from hangin on the block for dough
Notorious, they got to know that
Life aint always what it seem to be (uh-uh)
Words cant express what you mean to me
Even though youre gone, we still a team
Through your family, Ill fulfill your dream (thats right)
In the future, cant wait to see
If you open up the gates for me
Reminisce some time, the night they took my friend (uh-huh)
Try to black it out, but it plays again
When its real, feelings hard to conceal
Cant imagine all the pain I feel
Give anything to hear half your breath (half your breath)
I know you still living your life, after death

Chorus: faith evans
Every step I take, every move I make
Every single day, every time I pray
Ill be missing you
Thinkin of the day, when you went away
What a life to take, what a bond to break
Ill be missing you

[puff] I miss you big

Verse two: puff daddy
Its kinda hard with you not around (yeah)
Know you in heaven smilin down (eheh)
Watchin us while we pray for you
Every day we pray for you
Til the day we meet again
In my heart is where Ill keep you friend
Memories give me the strength I need (uh-huh) to proceed
Strength I need to believe
My thoughts big I just cant define (cant define)
Wish I could turn back the hands of time
Us in the 6, shop for new clothes and kicks
You and me taking flicks
Makin hits, stages they receive you on
I still cant believe youre gone (cant believe youre gone)
Give anything to hear half your breath (half your breath)
I know you still living youre life, after death

Chorus[faith evans]

somebody tell me why

Interlude: faith evans
On that morning
When this life is overI know
Ill see your face

Outro: 112
Every night I pray, every step I take
Every move I make, every single day
Every night I pray, every step I take[puff] every day that passes
Every move I make, every single day [puff] is a day that I get closer [puff] to seeing you again
Every night I pray, every step I take[puff] we miss you big... and we wont stop
Every move I make, every single day[puff] cause we cant stop... thats right
Every night I pray, every step I take Every move I make, every single day

[puff] we miss you big

ANYHOW....we had greek salads, steak, scallops, mac and cheese (Will's request), sauteed mushrooms, and baked potatoes then cheese cake and brownies for dessert, after diner we opened a few gifts....did ANYONE hear Grant SCREAM when he opened the PS3???? I swear it was just like the comercial for Sears with the guy screaming it it...it was HILARIOUS! Luke was more into his gifts than I thought he would be!

Jay and the kids spoiled me......2 sets of alphabet dies for my diecut machine, a set of circle dies (from Brett), and baby pages idea book, adhesives, 2 sweatshirts, a pair of sweatpants, 2 long sleeve t-shirts (brown and lime), socks (I needed those desperately!), underwear (I needed those too!), new pillows (4) for the couch in the living room (we got new couches in late Sept and I never got pillows for them).

The kids seemed really excited about everything they got.....as far as their big things....Em and Brett got cellphones, Hannah an 8.2 MP camera, 1 G memory card and printer, Grant, Jacob and Cade Nintendo DS/with games and guitar hero III....Sophia got TONS of Bratz stuff, Will got a guitar and it seems like every Deigo toy on the market, Luke LOVES this cool babystage that plays music and has a mirror (he loves looking at himself)!

Jay made breakfast.....bacon, eggs, left over steak (reheated), toast, juice and he did the dishes!

It is just after 1 PM now....my mom is coming at 3 PM....she is bringing a prime rib roast, stuffing and desserts...I have a ham, and am making green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, rolls...I might make some corn! Should have bought some alcohol...I will probably need it!

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you are surrounded by those you love!

I plan to go shopping tomorrow morning to get some after christmas deals anyone else????

I forgot...Jay bought a COOL little bar table for our kitchen Sunday night and assembled it yesterday...it is so cute! It only seats 4, but it is going to be great to have an extra "counter" space in the kitchen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Caroling at a Nursing Home
When: Wednesday, December 12th; 1:00–3:00PM
Where: Llanfair Retirement Community, 1701 Llanfair Ave., Colllege Hill 45224
Ages: All
What to bring: Nut-free cookies to share
RSVP: Jenna

This is a yearly event. First we practice singing some carols and then we sing them with the residents. Afterwards there are cookies to share and eat. It really warms the hearts of the residents to have visitors. Join us for this activity of giving.
On Thursdays, the older girls are gone from the house all day, from 9 AM until 9:30 PM at their home away from home, the dance studio. I tend to not plan field trips or outings on Thursdays because of this, I always want them to have the choice of joining us in the things we do. I decided this morning that I would take the kids that were here with me to Walmart and let them pick out gifts for whichever of their siblings they had drawn in our family name drawing. It worked out well because Cade needed to buy from Brett, Jacob for Emily, and Grant for Luke, all of whom weren't with us. The only difficult purchase would be William buying for Cade, since Cade was with us. I thought the whole thing through and decided that I would let Cade show Will a couple of things he wanted and then I would have him wait in the next aisle with Jacob while Will decided what to buy. I would then send Grant to the front of the store to check out with William while I waited in the back with the other kids, because we had additional shopping to do. Grant was told to double bag the purchase, put the receipt in the bag and tie it shut and then come back and rejoin us. The store was quite busy and after waiting about 10 minutes and having every child kidnapping story I could remember run through my head, I decided to go to the front of the store, just as Grant was finishing tying the bag in a knot! Will was smiling and holding the change. Purchase complete, now to get on with our shopping!

We ended up spending about another hour shopping and then went to check out. We ended up in the same lane Grant and Will had checked out through earlier. The lines were long, the kids were being kids, I was chatting with the woman in front of me when I hear the cashier say,

"Ma'am, are those your children?"
"Yes" I answer, turning quickly to see what they must be destroying to elicit such a question from the cashier
"I just want you to know that your boys checked out through this line earlier and they are two of the most well behaved and well mannered children I have ever met. And your older son, he was so wonderful with the little one. You certainly are doing something right"

OK, so knock me over with a feather. I am sure the smile on my face must have been HUGE and the glow to my skin rivaling the best glow ever! Of course we were no sooner in the van than Sophia was screaming about her gum and that everyone else was only getting ONE piece, but that cashier's words still resonated in my head!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Memory Candles Ceremony

OK, the wicked witch, errrr....I mean, my wonderful mother has decided to stay in town for the holidays. She sent me the following that she wants to do prior to eating Christmas dinner. I like the idea (although I don't like her telling me who has to read each part, it is like she thinks I am too retarded to figure out who can do what). She got the handout at a grief support meeting she attended.

As we light these four candles in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories and one for our love


The light of this first candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.


The light of this second candle represents our courage to confront our sorrow; to comfort each other; to change our lives.


This third candle is a light to all of our memories of you. To the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, the caring and joy you gave us.


This fourth candle is the light of our love. As we enter this holiday season, day by day, we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your life brought each of us. We love you always.

Nancy Moeller, LSW, CADA
Conely Outreach Community Service

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Craft Day

You are receiving this email because you RSVPed to the Christmas Caroling event at Llanfair on Wednesday, December 12th. A few of us thought it would be a great idea to get the kids together beforehand to make cards to give out to the residents. The idea then blossomed into a card and christmas craft making day. Below are the details. Please consider bringing card making supplies (stickers, diecuts, etc) to share with the group or a simple christmas craft with supplies for about 20 kids.

What: Card and Christmas Craft Making Day
When: Friday, December 7th 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Where: Meeting room at the Newport Library, 901 East 6th Street, Newport, KY 41071 859-572-5035
Who: Families attending christmas caroling at Llanfair
RSVP: Tina is the organizer, but is out of town till next week, so you can RSVP to Jenna

We will have stations set up for card and ornament making. Feel free to pack your lunch and/or bring snacks with you. Come for the entire time or join us for a short while. We ask that some cards you make be donated for the residents at Llanfair, but you can also make cards to take with you. Ornaments and other crafts are yours to take home.

We'll also be practicing our songs and learning accompaniment using hand bells!

What a great time. I was a bit worried when I got to the library at 10:35 AM and NO ONE else was there, but others arrived quickly and the kids got to work crafting. I love seeing how you can give a 3 year old and a 13 year old the exact same supplies and how they come out with such different results. They made 4 different types of ornaments, snowflakes from coffee filters, and cards galore for the residents of the nursing home!

The one beaded ornament kit that Tina brought with her, Emily and I fell in love with, I had to stop at Hobby Lobby on the way home and get similiar ones for us to play with at home. I can't wait to play with them.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Beach Waterpark HOLIDAYFEST!!!!

I talked with the group sales staff at the Beach and they are very excited about our visit. There is an exciting new element to our visit, Santa will be making an appearance! Pictures in a photo greeting card will be available to be purchased for $2 each! Santa visits and the craft will take place in the tents where the lunch will be served, but EVERYONE is welcome to come and visit santa and do the craft, even if you aren't eating the lunch buffet!

If you haven't already RSVPed for this event, it's not too late! Feel free to come and join us...there are close to 300 homeschoolers on the growing RSVP list! Details are listed below, feel free to email me with any questions!

Holidayfest at the Beach Waterpark

Wednesday, December 5th 10am - 4pm, lunch at 11:30 AM!

Where: Beach Waterpark Mason, Ohio

Cost: Admission $6.50 ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 3 -12!!! (note this is a change from last year....3 and 4 year olds now need to pay for admission), optional lunch $6, Parking free. Platinum pass holders get in FREE, regular pass holders need to pay admission price! Pay at the gate when you arrive.

Organizer: Laura please RSVP so that I can get a count to the waterpark!

The park has agreed to open the park EXCLUSIVELY FOR HOMESCHOOLERS on Wednesday December 5th from 10 AM until 4 PM. The offer is incredible (includes everything) and we will have the park entirely to ourselves. This should be a great activity for everyone...toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schooler and teens. There are activities for ALL ages, including teens...here's what your admission includes: Skating and skate Rental, Carriage Rides (pulled by tractor), Paddle Boats, Toboggan Slide, Santa’s Maze, Live Nativity, Polar Pearl Palace, Santa’s Sleigh, Holiday Lights and Dazzling Animated Lights Displays, South Pole Petting Corral, Holiday Railway, and Festhaus Pavilion. We will even have an area set up for the kids to make a small Christmas craft!

Admission $6.50 per person (ages 3 - 12 are $5) , children 2 and under free. Free Parking! Typically, admission and to do all activities at Holiday Fest at The Beach is $25.00. This special rate is a savings on admission of $18.50 per person. Parking is $5.50 per car on any operating day, but will be waved for our visit. MEAL $6 per person (optional)

*Holiday Fest at The Beach Catering Staff will serve the All-You-Can-Eat buffet style meal in an exclusive pavilion during a specified time frame (starting at 11:30 PM) which includes your choices of..Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog or a ¼ lb Hamburger or Cheeseburger, mac and cheese, Bag of chips and drink for $6 per person. PLEASE let me know when you RSVP if you want the meal or not.

*participants are welcome to pack lunches, but meals will need to be eaten in the picnic area outside the park. The only food that can be consumed within the park, is food purchased from the Beach.

All You can drink wristbands $3.00 (they have guarenteed that drinks will be available the entire time, even at the end!). I have been told that coffee will be ready the minute we enter the park!

We had an awesome time last year and had wonderful weather! It was VERY WARM in the tents!

Please feel free to share this information with your homeschooling friends, regardless of their group affiliation, but remember that they need to RSVP to Laura.

What an awesome day! We were blessed with a snowstorm overnight and the waterpark took on a completely magical appearance! Over 200 homeschoolers braved the elements and came out for an amazing day. My only regrets, not getting to socialize with everyone because I was busy running around making sure everything was going OK and NOT WEARING 2 or 3 or 4 PAIRS of SOCKS....man were my toes COLD! I didn't take many pictures (OK, for me 30 pictures isn't many!), hopefully I will be able to snag some from Deanne or Lisa!

The kids had a blast on the paddleboats and on the sled rides! Chris even went down the one slide IN HIS SWIMSUIT! It was HILARIOUS, hopefully Deanne got a picture of it. The boys had joked it would be funny to wear swimsuits because the event was at the waterpark where we spend so much of our summer and Chris decided to go ahead and do it!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rumpke Sanitary Landfill Tour
When: Wednesday, November 14 10 AM
Where: Rumpke Sanitary Landfill (see directions below)
Who: Homeschoolers age 4 and over
Cost: none
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg

Students tour the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill in Colerain Township from the safety and comfort of a bus. The tour begins with a brief history of the company and a demonstration of how trucks are weighed. The bus then travels around the landfill while the guide shows exactly what happens after the garbage leaves their homes. Methane gas removal, leachate collection, surface water controls and other points of interest are explained. The tour concludes with an explanation of the final landfill cover and cap and then the future uses of the landfill property.

Here is some important information: Tours last approximately 45 minutes in length. Tours are free of charge. . The weather must be dry for a landfill tour. Rumpke reserves the right to cancel tours when precipitation causes slippery road conditions or other safety concerns. As a safety precaution, all tour participants must be at least four (4) years old. Groups must have at least 10 tour participants. There is a maximum of 24 participants.

Directions: In Cincinnati, take I-275 to the Colerain Avenue exit, #33. Go North off the exit onto Colerain Avenue. Turn right onto Struble Road. Turn left into Rumpke’s entrance. Stay to your right and go to the parking lot on the right. Your Rumpke tour guide will meet your bus in the parking lot.

This, by far, had to be one of the most informative tours we have ever gone on and it was FREE! The tour filled quickly and I had a fairly significant waiting list of families that wanted to attend. You just need a minimum of 10 people (max of 24) for the tour and it was very easy to set up, all I did was call and pick a date (they only do tours on Wed). The only thing I wish is that we had left the tour with a handout of all the amazing statistics that we were told as part of the tour!

Things that I never knew before the tour:
*a garbage truck can only pick up trash from about 400 homes before it is full. I really don't know what I thought, because I had never really given it much though, but I assumed one truck was doing all of an area of the city, when in fact, some large subdivision require two trucks just to get the garbage from those homes.
*our landfill will be out of space for new garbage before Luke's 18th birthday! What they will do with new trash after that, they have no idea.
*methane gas recycling takes place at Rumpke
*there are enough birds at the landfill to make the movie "The Birds" look lame!
*Rumpke Landfill was originally a pig farm and they started collecting "garbage" to feed the pigs.
*Large trucks crush trash to 1/16 to 1/32 it original size once it is dumped on the landfill. Even with this, they are running out of room rapidly.
*The landfill only accepts trash from about a 50 mile radius of that location.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spring Cleaning....

Or should that be near winter cleaning??? Despite the fact that over half the family has had the stomach flu over the past 10 days (Brett, Hannah, Grant and I have yet to succumb to it!) I have gotten so much stuff OUT of this house! 5 large garbage bags of clothing went to Truly Blest, a resale shop that supports Birthright, 2 bags and 2 winter coats went to a little girl in a family that is struggling (a request came through on one of the homeschool lists I belong to), and the exersaucer, swing, bouncer seat and 2 bags of boy clothes went to a homeschooling friend who is expecting in January! I am so excited about the reclaimed space, but it just seems there should be MORE of it with everything that I got out of here!

The logistics of large family living still baffles me 17 years into my journey. How to properly store everything that I want to save, so I can find it when I need it has never been something I can completely figure out! I try to store things by gender, size and season, but some things never seem to end up where they are supposed to....and why while going through the stuff that we got rid of, did I stumble over CHRISTMAS decoration in the basement (when they are supposed to be in the crawlspace upstairs) I still don't understand!

I know I am happier when things are organized and in their proper space, but it is just a never ending task around here! I do think I know where all the winter clothes are and have packed up all the summer stuff for the most part. And the laundry, well that is a never ending task, made almost insurmountable by puked on bedsheets and clothing!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Had a blast shopping Friday! Did anyone else go out? Find any good deals????

Brett, Hannah, Sarah and I were in line to get into Kohl's at 3:50 AM....yes, the doors opened at 4 AM and we were there with HOARDS of other people...amazingly we got everything (or so we thought) that we wanted from there and were out the door by shortly after 5 AM. Portable DVD player for $49.99 and a v-smile game system for Sophia and Will were the big scores! Tons of other stuff too!

Left Kohl's, got gas, grabbed breakfast at Burger King then went and hit Old Navy (big waste), Bath and Bodyworks (great deals!!!!) and got in line for Target's door busters (the kids rushed the door while I was in Bath and Body)...Hannah snagged the Hot item for the boys....bunch of other stuff including tons of the cheap movies, also a BOY babydoll for Will (he loves dolls).....only waited in line about 30 minutes...not too bad....got out of there about 7 AM....

Headed home to drop off stuff (we wanted to go to the Mall and I didn't want to park the car with all the stuff in it) and grabbed Luke and then went to the Mall.....scored big at Finish Line for Grant and Jacob and Hannah (got her 4 pieces of Adidias clothing for under $30) and got Jay a couple of things (yes, I know my hubby likes to read my blog!).....hit a few more mall stores....went across the street to Toys R Us and Dicks....and managed to get something in their doorbuster ad even though it was almost 10 AM......then grabbed an early lunch at IHOP.... left IHOP and went BACK to Kohls (I forgot to get the airmattress) and then to Hobby Lobby for wrapping paper and Hannah ran into Meijer's to grab one gift.....we were home and WRAPPING presents by 1 PM!!!!

So I am almost done with Sophia (need to get her 1 more thing), about half way done with Will and have at least SOMETHING for everyone else!

My mom is renewing our YMCA membership and most likely giving us money to renew our museum membership and zoo membership....I am quite thrilled with that...and she told me she MIGHT be going OUT OF TOWN for CHRISTMAS.....could I ask for a BETTER gift from her???? I hate to say it, but she is a total downer and not having to deal with her would be the MOST PERFECT GIFT in the world!!!!! Jay even offered to buy her a one way ticket.....of course I didn't tell her that!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Biography Fair
What: Third Annual Biography Fair: Guess Who is Coming for Dinner?When: Sunday November 18, 2007 3 PM
Who: All ages invited to participate
Cost: None
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg
Where: Jr. OUAM Hall in St. Bernard (directioned will be emailed when you RSVP)
What to bring: Your project and a dish to share*

We have decided to put a little twist on this year's biography fair. The question you need to answer is "If you could have dinner with any person living or dead, who would it be? Why?" Use this question to direct your project! Each child can pick anyone, living or dead, as thier dinner guest to do for their presentation. The child chooses how to present the infomation. They can write a report, make a display board, a photo montage, a video. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. The great thing about this opportunity is that any age child can participate and present their research to the best of their abilities. No competing! Certificates of participation will be given to each participant. The hall has plenty of electrical outlets so feel free to use one (or more)!

There is a great article online that explains the biography fair in detail. http://www.home-ed-magazine.com/HEM/HEM155.98/155.98_art_bio.html

Contact Laura if interested in participating. If you don't feel like doing a project but would like to come and check out the work of our aspiring biographers, feel free to join us for the fun. Remember to bring a snack to share.

Projects can be set up from 3-3:30 PM at which time we will give each participant a chance to present their project to the group. At the conclusion of the presentations, certificates will be given to the participants. Similiar events have run until about 5 PM in the past.
*Please bring a nut-free snack to share. No popcorn please! It might be fun to try to tie your treat to the subject of your biography fair project, for example, if you did your project on George Washington, maybe a cherry pie or if you chose Johnny Appleseed, some baked apples. Plates, drinks, napkins, silverware and cups provided!

It amazed me how excited the kids were to work on their projects this year. Grant chose Mike Schmidt, Jacob chose Reggie Bush, Cade chose David Ortiz, Sophia chose Marie Tallchief and Will chose Eric Carle. Grant had originally wanted to do a serial killer, but given the topic asked who you wanted to have dinner with, he opted for a baseball player instead. Better dinner conversation and no threat of being killed during the meal!

I was surprised at the confidence of each of my children (actually of all the children who participated) as they presented their projects to the entire group. When we first started doing the fairs 3 years ago, the kids were quiet, and no one wanted to present anythng to the group. Now they confidently stand next to their projects and tell everyone about them! Even Will at 3 years old will engage the group and talk about what he did. This year he even "read" part of a book by Eric Carle "Have you seen my cat?" Of course he knows it from memory, but it was so adorable to watch him read it to everyone! My mommy pride was swelling as I watched each of my kids present their projects! So as we trudge through our lives, unschooling as we go, we must be doing something right!

All of the projects were great. One of the girls, True, made a wonderfully creative cake ala Duff (the subject of her project) using fondant (sp). I had never eaten a cake with fondant on it before, personally I think fondant tastes that sweet playdoh, but her cake looked awesome. This guy Duff does amazing work.

The only real mishap of the day, one participant showed up with POPCORN....luckily Jacob didn't flip out about it (typically even the smell of it will send him into a frenzied panic) but it annoyed me that she didn't read the announcement about not bringing popcorn. I try so hard to keep Jacob comfortable and avoid the thing that seems to trigger his most bizarre reactions! So I am doubly proud of my son, who when he smelled the popcorn, looked at me and let me calm him down and REASON with him that everything would be OK!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

CoCo Key Water Resort
Thurs, Nov 15th
9:30am - 3pm - they have a banquet to set up for that happens at 5, so they need us to cooperate by being out on time.
RSVP: Julieanne

Hi all!


We have a wonderful opportunity here.... CoCo Key Water Resort in Sharonville is having their Grand Opening on Thursday, November 15, and they need 300 homeschoolers to be in the park playing for the media to take pictures.

We get to play for FREE!!!! Those who remember when Great Wolf did this for us will also remember how fast this filled up. So rsvp ASAP. First come, first served, and I'll have a waiting list as well - so if you find out at the last minute you can't make it, PLEASE notify me as soon as possible, so I can let another family onto the list.

-Please have everyone arrive between 9:00am to 9:30am.
-Children should have swim attire on (underneath clothes).
-Home School children and families will be directed to the Center Ballroom.
-In room, we will provide beverages, snacks, movies/cartoons, coloring and a balloon sculptor to keep everyone entertained.
-We ask that children stay relatively quiet, since we have corporate meetings going on in adjacent meeting rooms.
-A CoCo Key staffer will need parents help in gathering children together at 10:15am to line up.
-We will need 50-60 young children (plus a few parents) to follow CoCo through aisle of guests for ribbon-cutting.
-At 10:30am, CoCo will lead first group of children.
-After ribbon-cutting guests get up, we will invite rest of children and parents into CoCo Key.
-Please take all personal belongings with you from Center Ballroom.
-Home School Network families are invited to stay in CoCo Key until 3pm.

Here's the rest of the story: They have a Pizza Hut and an A&W on site which will be up and running, and ask that we not bring in food and drinks. Those of us who need to can run out to our vans to eat. There are lockers available to rent, if you're interested.

And they are willing to set up some homeschool days for us at a group discount rate. Unlike Great Wolf, CoCo Key will be doing day passes, and birthday parties and such. They will also do fundraisers - for instance, if your ball team or scout troop or band or whatever sells tickets, your group would get a percentage of the sales. They are eager to work with us, so all you group leaders out there keep that in mind! : )

Although not as large as Great Wolf, or as engaging for the older teens, we had a GREAT time...there was plenty of seating, free towels and lockers, lots for the younger kids to do and they were very accomodating, even giving us 1/2 off all the food we purchased. Their food prices were very reasonable, even before the discount, and it tasted much better than the crap we ate at Great Wolf. They gave the kids $5 cards to use in the game room. The kids had a really great time. The best part is, that if we want, we can go back, because they offer day passes to just swim, something that Great Wolf doesn't do!

It was great to get to see many homeschooling families that we hadn't crossed pathes with yet this year, to catch up and hear everyone's stories.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rumpke Sanitary Landfill Tour
When: Wednesday, November 14 10 AM
Where: Rumpke Sanitary Landfill (see directions below)
Who: Homeschoolers age 4 and over
Cost: none
Organizer: Laura

Students tour the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill in Colerain Township from the safety and comfort of a bus. The tour begins with a brief history of the company and a demonstration of how trucks are weighed. The bus then travels around the landfill while the guide shows exactly what happens after the garbage leaves their homes. Methane gas removal, leachate collection, surface water controls and other points of interest are explained. The tour concludes with an explanation of the final landfill cover and cap and then the future uses of the landfill property.

Here is some important information: Tours last approximately 45 minutes in length. Tours are free of charge. . The weather must be dry for a landfill tour. Rumpke reserves the right to cancel tours when precipitation causes slippery road conditions or other safety concerns. As a safety precaution, all tour participants must be at least four (4) years old. Groups must have at least 10 tour participants. There is a maximum of 24 participants.

Directions: In Cincinnati, take I-275 to the Colerain Avenue exit, #33. Go North off the exit onto Colerain Avenue. Turn right onto Struble Road. Turn left into Rumpke’s entrance. Stay to your right and go to the parking lot on the right. Your Rumpke tour guide will meet your bus in the parking lot.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cade's football pictures

One of the dad's from Cade's football team took pictures of ALL of the boys on the team and then gave them a CD with all their pictures on it. Cade's CD had close to 70 pictures...I know I didn't take 70 pictures of my 3 boys combined, let alone of anyone else's kid. I had to share them here....a few of them are just too precious!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Luke's 6 month picture

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We found our first LETTERBOX!

Hiking Club Meeting Update
Where: Withrow Nature Preserve, Hamilton County Park
7075 Five Mile Road, 45230
When: Thursday, Nov. 8th, 1-3PM
Ages: ALL
Cost: FREE
Organizer: Tina

Come join us to find a hidden letterbox and hike afterwards. No RSVP necessary. We will be on our own, not with a naturalist.

Here were the clues we followed to find the letterbox:
Cupcake Birthday Box LbNA #: 32593
Placed by: Brainstorm
Placement date: Jul 4 2007
State: Ohio
County: Hamilton
Nearest city: Cincinnati
Number of boxes: 1

This box was planted at Withrow Nature Preserve in Anderson Township in honor of someone's special birthday.

Take I-275 to Kellogg Ave. Exit towards Coney Island & Riverbend. Pass Riverbend & Riverdowns and turn left onto Five Mile Rd. Follow Five Mile Rd. to Withrow Nature Preserve on the right.

Park in the parking lot.
Enter the trail nearest the parking lot entrance by the port-a-potty.
At the first fork, veer toward the left.
At the next fork, after about 5 minutes of walking, stay on the gravel path on the right toward the overlook.
After 5 more minutes (just before the overlook), you will come to another fork, take the path to the left.
Walk for about 10 minutes and you will see a sign that says
Withrow Nature Preserve describing the O'Donnell Cabin.
From this sign you will see two benches.
Go sit on the left bench. When the area is clear, stand up and walk about 16 steps forward.
To your left you will see a large tree.
At the base of the tree on the right side you will see a rock.
The letterbox is nestled between the rock and the tree.

We were first introduced to the concept of letterboxing at the Live and Learn Unschooling Conference and we recruited some fellow homeschoolers to join us in our endevour. I couldn't believe how much fun and how easy it was to follow the clues and find the box, for me a bit easier than using a GPS and finding a cache! The kids seemed to like stamping our letterboxing notebook and signing the logbook as much as they enjoyed exchanging items in the cache. I can't wait to find more letterbox clues and search for the letterboxes!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Luke has his first tooth!

After endless months of drooling, horribly swollen gum, using mom's boob as a teething toy and much chewing on everything....his first tooth has shown its shiny little edge through the gum! Mom is definitely more impressed than Luke who refuses to let anyone see the tooth!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

What: Halloween Party
Who: Homeschoolers from infant to teen and everyone in between
When: Friday, October 26 from 12:30 PM to 3 PM
Where: Jr. OUAM Hall St. Bernard
What to bring: Bag of candy per child (see list below for allergies and suggestions), bucket/bag for trick or treating and a snack to share (chips, cookies, etc)
RSVP: Laura

Come join the fun! Everyone is welcome to wear costumes! We will begin the party by decorating cardboard houses (which we will later use for trick or treating) and then continue with games, crafts, snacks and fun!

Please bring chips, pretzles or a child friendly snack to share (no popcorn or peanuts please!). Drinks will be provided.

Feel free to bring a craft or a game with you!

Please be aware that we have children attending with the following food allgeries/adversions: nuts, red dye #40 and popcorn. We ask that you not bring any items with nuts or popcorn to the party.
The following items are nut-free and would make great choices for sharing: individual bags of pretzles/snack chips (avoid bags of potato chips as many are fried in peanut oil!), tootsie rolls, tootsie pops, dots, charm suckers, jr mint, charleston chews, andies mints, sugar babies, sugar daddy's,nerds, laffy taffy, airheads, bottle caps, sweettarts, smarties, crunch bars, plain m&m's, fruit snacks, individual bags of animal cookies, individual bags of oreos, individual bags of goldfish, bubble gum, Werther's carmels, regular carmels.

What an absolutely awesome time. We had an amazing turnout, close to 30 kids and over a dozen adults and one charming service dog! We started out by decorating boxes and then we had the kids trick or treat to each of the boxes (each box represents a house, it is a great halloween party idea that I borrowed from what a fellow homeschooler did with her daycare kids!)......we ended up having 6 "houses" and the kids all trick or treated around our "neighborhood" 5 times! After trick or treating, we did some crafts (ghost suckers and haunted magnets) and then played some game, one where you pass around the bowls and pretend they are full of are body parts and then the crowd favorite APPLE BOBBING....Will was absolutely hiralious, he patiently waited in line and then when he got up to the bucket, promptly shoved his ENTIRE ARM, shirt and all, into the bucket and just grabbed an apple, you should have seen the smile on his face! Limbo was the final game of the afternoon.... it is always funny to watch kids limbo in costumes! There was a beanbag toss (with FRIGHTFUL monster beanbags!), a table with coloring pages and a pool table to keep the kids busy!

I think that the witch costume was the most popular, I believe there were 4 "traditional" witches and a couple older girls that costumes could have fallen into the "witchy" category!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


The boys, Sophie and I are part of a newly established homeschool hiking/nature club. Below is an activity I planned for the group, like geocaching wasn't enough, now we are hooked on letterboxing!

At our last hike a few of use discussed the idea of adding a letterboxing aspect to our hikes. We decided to met on Thursday, Oct. 25th at 1 PM at Sawyer Point to discuss letterboxing and so that the moms could design the stamps for the letterboxes while the kids played on the playground. Each family that wants to participate will need to design 2 identical stamps to use. Our plan is that each family will then go and hide their letterbox in a local park and the other families will be able to go and find them.

Please RSVP to Laura to let her know if you would like to join in on this activity so that we are sure there are enough supplies for everyone. There will be a small fee for the material to make the stamps with (under $5) and Cari is going to bring the tools to carve them with. Below you will find some links about letterboxing for those of you that aren't familiar with exactly what it involves! Included are the Hamilton County park rules about letterboxing, if you hide them in other parks, you may want to check to see if they have any guidelines.

History of Letterboxing: http://www.atlasquest.com/aboutlb/history/

Letterboxing North America: http://www.letterboxing.org/ has a great FAQ section as well as a section to find letterboxes in your area.

Another site for locating letterboxes: http://www.atlasquest.com/

Hamilton County Park Letterboxing rules and registration form: https://secure.nuvox.net/www.hamiltoncountyparks.org/Geocache.htm

Guidelines For Placing Geocaches or letterboxes within the Hamilton County Park District:

Must use a normal type of container. (ie, it cannot resemble a pipe bomb or otherwise cause alarm to the public, etc.) and provide a description of it.
Must be placed on or near an authorized trail. An authorized trail is one that is maintained by the HCPD’s Trail Crew, usually has either asphalt, crushed gravel or wood chip base. The container cannot be placed more than 25 feet from the trail. The container cannot be placed in any unsafe areas (ie, near a steep embankment).

Placement or access to the container cannot damage park property or vegetation.

All materials must be safe and appropriate for families and children.

Requesting party is responsible for checking the container contents, as well as it’s proper location.

The HCPD must be given the actual location of each container. (For example, The container is .5 miles into the Oakleaf Trail, under the log to the right of the trail sign that is titled “What Good is Dead Wood?”).

Each request will be given a registration number by the HCPD that must be visible on the outside of each container.

The HCPD will record the name, address, phone number and if applicable, the e-mail address of the requesting party associated with the container.

Annual renewal is required for all active boxes.

The requesting party must abide by all Park District By-Laws.

We had great fun creating our stamps today! 6 families showed up to make stamps, including a new family that we had not met before! It will be exciting to find the boxes once each family hides them. Sarah and Brett are going to place one along the biketrail too, so there will be 7 new letterboxes in our area just from our hiking club! And unbelievably, it only cost us each $2 for the materials, thanks to Cari having the carving tools! A fun new activity and we aren't breaking the bank! Jay should be thrilled!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Natural Bridge State Park

Cave Tour at Natural Bridge State Park (2.5 - 3 hours south in KY)
Meet at Hemlock Lodge Lobby just before tour
When: Wednesday Oct.17th at 1:00
Who: Homeschoolers of all ages
Cost: $2.50 a person (babes in arms are free)

We plan to stop and get lunch on the way down there. When we get there we'll meet at the Natural Bridge State Park for a Cave Walk guided by a naturalist (complete with helmets and flashlights). The Cave Walk takes about 1 hour. Not sure if we’ll do this or not but after the program we are welcome to walk the trail that leads under Natural Bridge. From Hemlock Lodge it's about .5 mile which should take under an hour.

What to Bring:
Snacks and drinks
Field guides
Magnifying glasses
flashlights (they do provide these but you can bring extra if you like)

Directions: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=116645750226709456414.0000011344fde9fb04673&z=7&om=1

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Celebrating Fall in Granny's Garden:

What: Fall in Granny's Garden
Where: The grounds of Loveland Elementary School
When: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 9:30 AM to Noon
Who: Homeschooler ages 5-10
Cost: $5 per child. Program limited to 28 children. There will be a facilitator/student ratio of 1 to 7, along with a teen helper for each group.
RSVP: Laura

Enjoy learning hands on about what happens in the garden during the fall. Activities may include harvesting (potatoes and whatever else may be available), cooking (perhaps roasted potatoes & bruschetta - depending on what is available), planting (spring bulbs or garlic), a craft (most likely flower presses ) and perhaps a walk on the nature trail. Other activities may be added if time permits.

Because school is in session, the program will all take place in the gardens on the hill in back of the elementary school. There is plenty of parking. There are two learning centers in this area.

Rain will cancel.

Parents will be on site but involved in a separate activity at Granny's office. Younger siblings can play in the yard at Granny's office. Light refreshements will be served to the parents. This is not a drop off program, you must stay on site or arrange for another parent that is attending the program to supervise your children.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Home to meet his brother.....

My uncle died October 9th, less than 10 months after my father....here is his obituary.....last names edited out....

H. George William "Bill", loving husband of Judy , beloved father of Deborah (Norbert) K, Bill (Kellie) H, Pam (Robert) H, Kevin H, Kathy H and Teresa (Timothy) D, devoted grandfather of 16 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, dear brother of Terrence H and the late Dave H. Bill, a resident of Withamsville, died October 9, 2007. Age 69. Visitation Sunday, October 14, 4-7 PM at E.C. Nurre Funeral Home, St. Rt. 125, Amelia. Mass of Christian Burial on Monday at 9:30 AM at St. Rose Church, 2501 Eastern Ave. Interment Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Cincinnati East, 7691 Five Mile Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45230.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The next phase of babyhood:

Luke, 5 1/2 months old, is moving all over the place....not really a crawl using his arms and legs but more an army crawl where he uses his arms more and kind of wiggles the lower half of his body...but he can get ANYWHERE he wants doing it.....all the way across the living room.....into the hallway.....under his jumparoo.....next to the cabinet the tv sits on.....guess it is time to babyproof the place! I have to be grateful that his pincher grasp isn't too developed yet, or he would probably have gotten a bead or a penny into his mouth. The kids aren't too great at keeping tiny pieces off the floor. We are definitely going to have to be more vigilant!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Here we go again.....

My mom called yesterday to tell me that they transfered my uncle (my dad's oldest brother) to hospice. I don't know if I ever mentioned it here, but they diagnosed him with cancer back in April. A different kind of cancer than dad had, but apparently just as invasive. None of the treatments they tried worked. I told mom when she called yesterday that I would go with her to visit him, knowing she would have a hard time going on her own, since he is in the same hospice that dad died in.

She took off work early today, picked me up around 1 PM and we went to see him. It was rough to walk back in the building, rougher to see him dying (far too many memories of dad) and even rougher to deal with mom afterwards. I think I have cried more today than I did even right after dad died, most of my crying after he died was out of frustration, dealing with my mother. It has been a very rough day.

I would say that my uncle's time could be measured in days, not weeks. I have watched one too many people die....Jay's aunt died when I was pregnant with Brett, Jay and I were in the room as she took her last breath...Jay's dad, his mom, my dad....I have come to know the look and the sound of death...

My uncle is a wonderful man...great father, wonderful husband, loving grandfather. Not only was he my father's big brother, he was his friend.

I could go on here to ponder the reason why God has chosen to take both my father and his big brother home well before we were ready to let them go but he leaves their piece of shit brother living and breathing on earth. I know life isn't fair, but right now it seems almost cruel.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Photo Slideshow from Egg Drop

What: Egg Drop
When: Wed. October 3rd at 10:30
Where: Gower Park in Sharonville (100990 Thornview Drive across the street from the Sharonville Community Center& Library)
Who: Homeschoolers/Unschoolers of all ages invited
Cost: Free but we are asking that each family bring at least one item to share with the group off the suggested materials list.

Our kids thought it would be great to do an Egg Drop so we’re inviting other families to join in on the fun and learning! We plan to meet at the shelter by the parking lot (You can park across the street at the library and Rec. center lot but Gower does have a small parking lot located by the tennis courts and that’s where we’ll be).Once we have our eggs safely inside their containers we’ll walk across the street to a high wall by the library and drop them from a certain height onto a target. If your egg is still intact, you can drop your container onto the target from higher up on the wall and see if it survives. Because we must leave the area where we’re dropping the eggs the way we found it, we’re asking that each family participate in clean up and that we use materials that won’t make a BIG mess if our containers do break open (See Materials NOT to bring for Egg Drop below). We also plan to picnic and play. Gower’s amenities include: Playground: (swings, slides, age appropriate play features, sandbox), Patio with Open-Air Picnic Tables, Creek, Perimeter Walking Trail, 2 Picnic Shelters, Lovitt Building, 3 Tennis Courts, 1 Lighted "Class A" Ball field, 1 "Class D" Ball field

Eggs, scissors and bubble wrap will be provided.
Please bring at least 1 item off the suggested materials list to share with the group in addition to whatever else you bring for your own family.

Suggested materials:
Tongue depressors
Shoe box
Empty soup can
Popsicle sticks
Plastic bags
Rubber band
Cotton balls
Pipe cleaners
Coffee filters
Toilet paper

Materials NOT to bring for Egg Drop: glass, liquids, food of any kind (peanut butter, jell-o, fruit, etc), powdered soap, flammable substances, anything that will splatter!

A few interesting egg drop web sites.
Very cool Egg drop based on designs by Leonardo da Vinci -
This web site has pictures of different designs people have made -http://www.mse.arizona.edu/faculty/birnie/EngrsWk/EggDrop.htm
Egg drop contest site - http://web.njit.edu/~leejw/kmso/2004eggdrop/

What a fun time. The kids, 15 in all, had a great time designing their containers to drop. Two kids brought their containers already made, but everyone else designed theirs once they got there. We ended up with 14 containers (one family opted to make a single container rather than 2) and of those 7 eggs survived the drop and 7 eggs perished! We were all surprised that it fell into a perfect 50/50 ratio! We did conclude that most surviving eggs had some kind of balloon or parachute attached to them to help slow the fall ever so slightly! I do suspect that a few of the boys, particularly ones who belonged to me, designed their containers for maximum BREAKAGE! Emily, Will and Sophia all had eggs that survived. Grant, Cade and Jacob were quite proud of their scrambled eggs!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cade and the mystery rash

On Wednesday Cade had a few odd looking spots on his leg, I didn't think much of it, but by Thursday night it looked worse and by Friday it was causing me major concern. It was only on ONE leg, but was spreading both up and down the leg. It wasn't poison ivy or chicken pox (at least by my thinking) so we made our SECOND trip to the pediatrician's office in less than a week to get it check out.

Well the rash completely stumped the staff and we were told to put steriod cream on it and to give him benadryl, the rash is clearing up. So we have no idea what it is or what caused it, but apparently it isn't contagious, thank you Lord!

So in less than a week, two of my children break my "we haven't been to the pediatrician except with a newborn" streak that had been going since well before Sophia was born! Maybe 6 years?????

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pioneer Village Tour

I have set up the following fieldtrip for any homeschoolers that would like to attend. Our family has participated in this program for the last 5 years (it used to take place at Caesar Creek) and the interpreters LOVE homeschoolers, a few of them are homeschoolers themselves. Please join us! Pack a lunch and dress for the weather! The program is very hands on and extremely informative.

When: Monday Oct 1 9:30 AM to 2 PM ARRIVE PROMPTLY!!!!
Where: Quaker Knoll Campground, 675 Sprague Road, Wilmington, Ohio 45177
Cost: $5 per student, preschoolers and parents free BRING EXACT CHANGE!!! Pay the day of event! Cash only!
RSVP: Laura Riesenberg that they can be properly staffed to handle our group
Other info: bring a picnic lunch, dress for the weather

Every culture in the world requires that young people learn their own history. History provides answers for the future by examining the problems of the past. Inessence, it is the study of the problems of human life.Our challenge is to get our youth interested in historyat all. When competing with electronic games andtelevision, stories of the past can seem dry, at best.For several years Frontier Resources has offered a schoolprogram designed to capture the interest of the studentof Ohio history. The program makes maximum use ofHands-On and interactive learning. We have designed our‘School Days’ to interest students in early Ohio history toreinforce your classroom efforts.

Frontier Resources is an organization that designs and presents programs to students all over the country. Our specialtyis “hands-on history”. Our programs are designed togive your students a taste of the activities, both work andplay, of children of early Ohio. These include, but are notlimited to:

• OXEN- An explanation of the importance of oxen toearly America and how children were involved withthem is followed by an opportunity for students to trytheir hand at driving oxen.
• SPINNING- An introduction to the problem of clothsupply for the Ohio frontier family involves a chancefor students to try to make a piece of yarn.
• CHILDREN’S WORK- A view of the importance ofchildren on the frontier while they work to shape agrindstone.
• ONE ROOM SCHOOL- An introduction to early nineteenthcentury learning.
• TOWN MEETING- Students experience frontierdemocracy by taking part in a town meeting and wrestlingwith a vital issue of the day.
• CHILDREN’S GAMES- A look at entertainment onthe frontier while students try an outdoor game of the1800s.
• INDENTURED SERVITUDE- Forty percent of thepopulation of Colonial America arrived under termsof indenture. This station examines the lives of the children who found themselves so situated.

The program takes about 4 hours, running from 9:30 a.m.until 2:00 P.M. Cost is $5.00 per student, there is no cost forteachers and chaperones.

Here is a link to a blog about the village:

Best to mapquest this address from your location:Quaker Knoll Campground is located at 675 Sprague Road,Wilmington, Ohio 45177, a lovely site on the north end ofCowen Lake State Park.

Here are the directions I followed (follow at your own risk!):Take OH-28 (Milford Exit off I-275)towards BLANCHESTERto LEFT onto OH-133 (according to mapquest this isabout 16 or so miles). Go a little over 3 miles and staySTRAIGHT to go onto OH-730. Go a little over 6 miles and turn RIGHT onto SPRAGUE RD. Quaker Knoll is aways down on the left hand side.

By far one of our favorite fieldtrips each year, we were not disappointed! Gary Barker, one of the main organizers, greeted us, his head now bald, but looking as great as ever. We found out that the schoolteacher wouldn't be there (he tends to really SCARE the kids) because his wife had sinus cancer (?) so that was our big disappointment of the day, since he is such an authentic re-enactor! As always, we were flooded with new information (the program is never the same two years in a row) and the kids absorbed it like the little sponges they are.

Will and Sophia seemed more interested in the playground and playing in the rainpuddles (yes, it rained on us at one point!) but the other kids really enjoyed the entire day!

Pioneer Village Slideshow

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dance Team Picnic or
Those Unsocialize Homeschoolers...NOT!

For the past few years our dance studio has had a competition family team picnic in the fall to kick of the new competition year. It is fairly well attended and we always have a good time. I won't bore you with the details about the food and the chitchat, just wanted to share an observation with everyone.....

After everyone ate, most of the older team members departed (after all it was a SATURDAY night, prime party and date night!) so it was mainly the 13 and under crowd remaining. The entire group that remained seemed to gather in the field and the more I observed, the more I noticed that is was EMILY and GRANT organizing the ENTIRE group, probably 20 kids not counting their siblings, in playing assorted field games that they LOVED to play. I commented to one of the teachers at the studio, a former homeschoolers, asking her if it reminder her of anything...she laughed, knowing it looked similiar to many a homeschool gathering, where the kids just organize themselves and play a game, including everyone from toddler to teen. It was odd for me to see Emily, my quiet child, as the one organizing the entire group, I am so used to seeing her follower her older brother's and sister's led. Grant stood as her biggest cheerleader, rallying the boys to join in the games. Can I say that I glowed with pride?

We ended up staying much longer than I intended. As each game ended, a new game began and the laughter from the group was intoxicating! They played for over an hour, no one cried, no one quit, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves! As I called my crew over to leave (I needed to be home by 7:30 PM) one of the dads commented "well, if Emily is leaving, everyone is going to want to leave".

I love the life I have chosen to live with my children, but it certainly is nice to see others realize what great kids they are! I wish I had thought to take pictures of the field games, certainly a sweet end of summer memory!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Barn Tour of Rose Arena: Home of Cincinnati Mounted Police
Friday, Sept. 28th, 9:30 AM
Wooster Road, near the intersection with Beechmont
Cost: Free
Organized by Julieanne

This was a wonderful tour and chocked full of information about the LARGEST members of the Cincinnati Police Force!

Also from Julieanne: To those who are signed up for the tour of Rose Arena, the barn of the Cincinnati Mounted Police... we're planning on doing a picnic/ play at the Lunken Playfield afterwards. It's $1 per child, adults are free. It's also completely enclosed by a fence, there's ample shade trees, and close by bathrooms and parking. There is a walking/ bike trail, golf, and other things at this facility, but I'm not sure as to hours or prices for those.

The kids really seemed to enjoy the playground, although Grant and Jacob couldn't seem to get along, a small fenced in area and a tennis ball obviously weren't a good combination for the two of them. Despite my efforts to get them to go and play in the large open field across from the playground, they insisted on staying put! The playground is GREAT for the 8 and under set, but not really set up well for kids that need space to just RUN!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Greenacres September program: Pond Study
Thursday, Sept. 27
12:00 PM
Organized by Sally

Concept: The pond is composed of different habitats each of which is home to variety of inhabitants with adaptations for life in a watery environment.

We will:
Use dip nets to scoop organisms out of the Delaware Pond for observation in the viewers

The plankton tow will be used at Shawnee Pond to catch small pond inhabitants to examine under a microscope

The rains left the trails too wet and treacherous to hike, so we drove up to the pond. Despite the rains, we had a wonderful time and it was probably one of the coolest pond programs we have done. The only diappointing thing was not being able to actually get into the pond. The viewers and microscopes were absolutely awesome, it was so cool to see everything close up, especially those critters like the plankton that you can't see with the naked eye!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

4-H Volunteer Project: Grace Place

Our family recently learned about a wonderful home called Grace Place that offers a temporary residence (up to one year) without cost to women - with or without children - who are in transition from homelessness. Right now they are hosting a family that includes a mother, her son and her newborn daughter as well as a refugee family of 9 from Burundi. One of there biggest needs right now is for fall and winter clothes for the kids in the home. Below is a list of the sizes they are looking for, items can be new or gently used. Anything the families at Grace Place can not use will be passed on to the 5 other Burundi refugee families in our area (information about why these refugees are in our area is at the bottom of this announcement).

Here is the list and information that Joyce sent me:
14 YEAR OLD BOY wear size 16 bottoms and 16/18 tops

13 YEAR OLD GIRL wears women's small top. She has a small waist but a curvacious rear. Size 14 fit in the length, but the waist is big and the hips tight. We ended up with a size 7 jr but they are a bit big in the waist but the hips fit and we needed to shorten them.

11 YEAR OLD GIRL weats size 12 girls top and bottoms

9 YEAR OLD BOY wears size 8 boys top and bottoms

5 YEAR OLD BOY wears 4 bottoms and tops

3 YEAR OLD BOY wears size 3 bottoms and tops/can also wear some 4 toddlers

2 YEAR OLD BOY (in November) wears 2 toddler

NEWBORN GIRL (born in July) will need 3-6 and 6-9 month winter clothes

They also need clothes for the adults in the refugee family. Mom wears a size 10. Dad is small. His slacks are 31 w x 29 l.

They have enough clothes for now, but will need some long sleeve shirts and heavier long pants when the cool weather comes. Since they are from Equatorial Africa, they think 70 degrees is COLD! Sweaters will be appreciated too. At some point we will need thermal underwear for them, winter coats, gloves, hats and boots.

A little background on the family of 9: They are one of five families who have come from Burundi in the past two months. They all have kids of assorted ages and sizes. What our family doesn't need we will pass along to the others.

The reason there are so many families at this time is that the U.N. ruled it would be unsafe for them to go back to Burundi from the refugee camps they were in, so they asked many countries to take thousands of them. The US was one of the countries that responded to their need. One of the difficulties of this nationality is that their language is only spoken in their small country and most of them do not speak any other language. There are only a coupld of interpreters in Cincinnati. The dad of our family does speak French and a little English, he is rapidly learning more. The kids start school at an English as a second language school in Cincinnati this week, so hopefully they will learn quickly, but I am sure they will experience a lot of frustration without dad to help them understand us Americans.

Other items the home is in need of: pillows, simple green cleaning concentrate, mops, brooms, sponges, dust pans, 10 lb packages of baking soda, body lotion (urgently needed), disposable diapers (size1 and size 4), toothbrushes and toothpaste, bars of soap and feminine hygiene products.

Deanne, Sarah, Chris and my gang headed over to Grace Place to volunteer. The older three (Brett, Hannah and Sarah) went with Joyce to go and disassemble shelves that had been donated to the home while the rest of us stayed at the house and cleaned windows, sorted clothes and raked leaves. Joyve was gone with the older teens MUCH LONGER than we thought she would be, but despite that, all of mine want to go back and volunteer again.

The mom with the teen and infant daughter have been able to get their own apartment, and the home has taken in two new guests, a brother and sister also from Burundi.

When Joyce was gone, we realized that none of the teens had their cellphones with them and that we didn't know (1) where they had gone or (2) what kind of car Joyce was driving! When we couldn't reach Joyce on her cellphone, I think both Deanne and I were a bit paniced, wondering just how we could explain to anyone that our teens had left with someone we really didn't know! Of course it all turned out fine, we were able to reach Joyce on her phone about 15 minutes later and we found out when she would be back with the teens!

We were fortunate enough to meet the entire family from Burundi, the children are beautiful and seemed very happy. It was adorable to watch the little ones (ages almost 2 and 4) interact with the kids.

Monday, September 24, 2007

When: Monday, September 24, 2007 10 AM
Where: 7645 Voice of America Center Dr. West Chester, OH 45069
Who: ALL HOMESCHOOLERS (toddlers to teen and everyone in between) Limited to 15 students.
Costs: $2.00 per child
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg

A hands-on workshop at CiCi's designed by teachers to help kids develop basic math skills. Students use pizza ingredients and other related items to solve problems, and in the process make and enjoy their very own pizza!

This was possibly the best restaurant tour we have ever been on. At the beginning of the tour they gave each person (parents included) a soft drink with unlimited refills. The managers were great and highly informative, answering any and all questions that were posed to them. After touring the greeting area, kitchen and storage areas, each child made their own pizza...and not some dinky little personal pizza, but a FULL SIZE pizza! They put the pizzas in the oven and cooked them for 4 minutes and 45 seconds (can you believe they can cook a pizza that fast?) and then everyone sat down to eat them. The pizzas were absolutely delicious! This fieldtrip was certainly worth every cent it costs! The boys kept asking if we could go back for another tour! I guess I will have to take them back for the lunch buffet some afternoon!

Most interesting fact of the day, the most expensive ingredient in a pizza is the cheese. The restaurant goes through over 1000 lb of cheese a week at a cost of $2.50 a pound! Each pizza gets 3 oz of cheese put on it. That comes out to roughly 5333 pizzas a week!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Season's Change
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Here are some pictures from Irons' Fruit Farm......did I mention it was 90 degrees? Makes it hard to get into the fall spirit!

The ped was wonderful, it was our first time meeting him....he said:

1) he either has asthma
2) is experiencing asthma triggered by a upper respritory virus
3) has pnuemonia that we caught early

When we got to the doctor's office his pulse/ox level was 90....not too hot, so they were pretty worried....it was 95 when we left the office and his breathing wasn't as labored....

So, they gave him a breathing treatment in the office (he didn't charge us for it! how nice was that! I just had to pay for the office visit) and sent me home with 3 prescriptions... 1 for right now (inhaler with spacer) that he needs to use 4x a day for 5 days, another for a steroid that I can fill if I don't feel the inhaler is controlling the wheezing and then one for an antibiotic in case he still isn't feeling better on Tuesday.....he did it all to save me a trip to the ER or back to the office and the extra $$ that would cost, wasn't that sweet?

Will started acting better within 10 minutes of the breathing treatment! He is almost acting normal right now....hopefully we will get through this and the asthma is virus related and not an everyday thing we have to deal with. Emily had pretty severe asthma when she was a toddler/early elementary school age. As she got older she has outgrown most of it, but it was pretty hellish during her bad periods. Hopefully Will isn't heading down that path.

The receptionist at the office was funny. She saw that Will had put two barbie stickers on his shirt out of the sticker basket, so she said "oh, you don't have to have those, we have boy stickers" and he looked at her and said "I LOVE barbie"....I looked at her and smiled and said "He does love barbie. And dance and tumbling. He even have TAP SHOES in the bag he is carrying." I am sure she noted on his chart "gender indenty issues"....ROFL!
Will is sick!

Will has had a cough all week, I figured at first it must just be fall allergies, but yesterday a mom on the fieldtrip told me there was a respiratory virus going around and then a mom at the dance studio said her kid had pneumonia ...he didn't sleep well last night and this morning he woke up and his breathing is really labored and he said his head hurts....so we are heading to the pediatrician's office for a 9:40 appointment. His color is really good (or I would be heading to the ER) but as usually my kids can only get sick/hurt themselves/break something/need stitches when the peds office isn't open (they opened at 8:30 on Sat) or urgent care is closed (they open at noon). I tend to worry a lot when Will has any breathing issues, as he was a preemie and on CPAP after he was born (he almost needed to be ventilated) because his lungs were in such bad shape. We have been up since 7:30 AM, and of course he is finally back asleep....now I get to wake him up and put him in the tub!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Apple Farm Tour
Irons Fruit Farm 1640 Stubbs Mill Road, Lebanon, Ohio 45036
Friday Sept. 21 at 10:00am
Homeschoolers of all ages
Cost: $4.00 a person including adults (please try to bring correct change for your family)

The walking tour lasts about 1 hour and includes information on growing apples & their uses. Attendees are guided through the process of how apples are picked, washed, sorted by size and placed into our large cold storage room. Then we walk then through the apple bagging room where apples are hand sorted and selected for quality control to be sold in our store. After the tour concludes, there is apple cider and an apple cider donut for all. Finish up your day with a visit to our friendly farm animals.
For directions and more information about Irons visit their web site
http://www.ironsfruitfarm.com or call 513.932.2853.

From Cincinnati-East (I-71)
Take I-71 North, past Paramount's Kings Island to exit #32.
This exit is State Route 123, turn left towards Lebanon.
Follow St. Rt. 123 for 2.5-3.0 miles until you reach Stubbs Mill Road on your left (Bob Evans restaurant is on the corner).
Take Stubbs Mill Road about 1.5 miles and we are on the left.

This was probably the worst fruit farm tour we have ever been on, but the kids still enjoyed themselves and the small farm store had a wonderful variety of jams, jelly and butters. The woman that led the tour didn't seem to understand children very well, she would tell them they couldn't talk and that they had to be quiet, but then she would get mad that they didn't answer her enthusiastically enough in unison! The orchards were very sad, the trees certainly suffered from the odd weather we have had this year. The fruit cooler was horribly moldy and she kept insisting that it was at 34 degrees even though none of us were cold at all and asked Grant to go and read the thermometer...he said it was at 60 degrees and she says "your wrong", well, the adults all go and look at the thermometer and it is 60 degrees FAHRENHEIT, so I made a point to tell Grant that he was right and that it just proves that adults don't know everything, she couldn't tell the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature readings! Then when we were in the apple bagging room someone asked her what she thought about something and she said "I don't think about that. The owner here says if you have time to think you aren't working hard enough"....what a bunch of BULLSHIT.....I made sure to mention to the kids later in the van that what she said was ridiculous, that THINKING is what is important, not being some drone worker who never questions anything.

The farm animals looked so sad, I know the weather was unusually hot today for September (over 90 degrees) but they just didn't look happy!

The kids were really disappointed that the farm didn't have apple cider for us to drink (they gave us store bought apple juice instead) and that all the apples for sale in the shop were from other farms. I know the spring freeze really hurt the crops at the local farms, but how hard is it to go and get cider from the store to give to the kids? The donuts ROCKED, but the only other things that made the tour bearable was being in the presence of homeschooling friends and some wonderful old trees out front that the kids could climb in! Next year we will head back out to A&M Farms..it is a lot longer drive, but it is worth it!

Pictures to be posted soon!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Going for the THREE-PEAT!

Emily, my 13 year old, auditioned for the Cincinnati Ballet's Nutcracker on Sunday and found out this afternoon that she has been cast as a soldier with trumpet....she gets so excited each year about it, this being her third year....the opportunity to dance with a professional ballet company, if only for a maximum of 15 shows and only for about 6 ir 8 minutes on stage, but it is such a big deal to her.....she is really excited, floating on cloud nine right now and ever so eager to rejoin her "nutcracker" friends (many of the same kids return year after year) for another great season.

Now I get to put on my taxi mom hat and drive her into the city (Cincinnati) for rehearsals and shows...we live about 30 minutes out of town and the ballet is in one of the absolute worse area of Cincinnat (the blocks adjacent to it are really rough, a few years ago I made a wrong turn and ended up finding a "box city" inhabited by the homeless just about a block from the building).....from the direction I come from, there is only one road to the ballet ....Liberty.....and it seems that anytime there is a shooting in town that it is on Liberty and some cross street.....fortunately a police officer is on duty at all times at the ballet and will walk you to the car, but it sucks that there is nothing closeby to do when she is down there (the museum center is about 5 minutes away but isn't open in the evening). Last year after a rehearsal we were leaving and there was a robbery or some other crime at the gas station on Liberty, honestly there were at least 20 police cruisers with cops with their guns drawn and we are sitting right there in the middle of it all...talk about SCARY!

But Em is THRILLED and I will now begin my yearly quest to find a nutcracker that resembles her....this year it will be one with a trumpet....last year was a sword and the year before a rifle! Most likely this will be her last year, as the performers can't be over 5'5" tall or they won't fit in the costumes...she made it this year by only 0.5"!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Park Program: Creek Study
Monday, September 17, 2007 10: 30 AM to 11:30 AMS
haron Woods, Sharonville MEET AT SHARON CENTER
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg
Who: ALL ages
Cost: Free program

Come dressed to get in the creek (watershoes or boots work well, NO OPEN TOED SHOES!!). The naturalists from the Hamilton County park district will lead the program. The creek itself is not accessible to strollers, so it is recommended that infants be in a sling or backpack. Plan to bring a change of clothes if your children are like mine and will end up sitting in the water. If the weather is nice, we will picnic following the program.

They just recently put new playground equipment in at Sharon Woods in the upper play area, we may end up picnicing and playing there after the hike, it should make for great play fun, especially if the weather cools a bit! Covered shelter with picnic tables. Restrooms with flush toilets and running water!

We had a great turnout for our first park program of the year. We had a new naturalist, Sophia, and she did a really good job of engaging the kids. We started the program with a brief introduction done in the class and then headed into the creek. The water was low because of the dry summer, but the kids found plenty of critters in the creek. The weather was a bit cool, but it didn't keep the kids out the water, especially not Will, who got in almost to his waist! A lot of the information that she presented were things we already knew, but the kids were still eager to get in the creek and turn over rocks and explore. Jacob found a huge snake skin (probably from a black rat snake).

After the program we had lunch and the kids played on the playground. The yellowjackets were HORRIBLE but it was nice to get to talk with other homeschooling moms and dads. We have lots of programs coming up in the next few weeks, we love being out and taking advantage of the beautiful weather!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Jacob the Brave
Or Defending Mom

Upon our arrivial at the Blue Ridge Assembly, we checked into our cottage, Clemson, the FURTHEST structure from the main lobby on the property. Although extremely rustic and very outdated, it appeared it would suit us well during our stay. With one bedroom downstairs that Luke, Will and I were going to share, and 3 more bedrooms upstairs, it was perfect. The girls had a room with 3 beds in it and each set of boys would share the two remaining rooms.

Once we were settled in, I ran to the grocery store with Deanne. One of my purchses was grapes for the kids to eat as an afternoon snack. Will decided to eat the grapes, so I put some on a paper plate for him. He ate all but about 6 of them and I didn’t thnk anything of leaving them on the table.

We were out of the cabin most of the rest of the afternoon, getting henna tattoos, tiedying the baby’s blanket (we didn’t buy t-shirts but the tiedye gal was wonderfully sweet and let Will and Sophia tiedye Luke’s white blanket, eating dinner and then going to the campfire to make s’mores. After all the fun Deanne drops me and the little kids (Jacob, Cade, Sophia, Will and Luke) at the cabin …oh, I forgot to mention, my van couldn’t make the share curves up the mountain, so it was in the main parking lot. When I walked into the kitchen to get Will some juice I thought it was strange that the remainig grapes were now on the floor and appeared to be swished in half, but I figures one of the kids had done it.

The boys sit down to play, Sophia is just hanging out and I sit down to nurse Luke. Luke falls asleep and I go and put him in the pack and play in my bedroom and I settle back on the couch with a home schooling magazine. Jacob goes to the kitchen to get something and says “mom, there’s a mouse, it just ran under the couch” as he says this I see it take off into the bathroom. “look Sophia, there’s a rat!”

I quickly correct him and say “that isn’t a rat, that is a mouse. Rats live in sewers!“ Why I felt the need to correct him at that moment, I have no idea!

I HATE MICE! Jacob knows this and senses that he must spring to action as my face gets whiter before his eyes. I don’t know if it was me quickly drawing my feet up off the floor onto the couch or my eyes wildly darting from side to side that tipped him off, be he somehow knew! He says “It’s OK mom. I will catch it and then when Brett gets back he can kill it. He killed the spider in Deanne’s cabin. “ So Jacob the brave goes and gets a bowl out of the kitchen that he intends to put over the mouse. As he is searching for the bowl and Cade is babbling on and on about how Brett can smoosh it with his shoe just like he did the spider, I spy ANOTHER mouse. , at least I assume it is another mouse since it comes out from the couch on the other side of the room, nowhere near the bathroom the other one ran into.

At this point I go and get Luke out of his pack and play, since I am convinced that the mice might decide they want to dine on baby fingers and baby toes. I have Jacob and Cade move all of the luggage off the floor since I am also convinced that there might be mice under it or worse yet climbing in it (since I just know they want to follow me where ever I might go) , thankfully there aren’t any mice, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I decide that we are heading DOWN the mountain, in the dark, with no flashlight because if the mice are partying like this with us standing there and all the lights on, I don’t even want to consider what kind of party they will have once we go to bed. By now Sophia is standing on the chair screeching “don’t let the mice get in my Bratz dolls”, Cade is still plotting what they will do when the catch the mice. I keep thinking the same damn thing ….what will they do if they catch it….imagining the plastic bowl running all across the floor!

Of course I have to pee before we can head out which means I have to enter mouse number one’s last known location. Needless to say, I am amazed that any pee made it into the toilet with all the jerking around I was doing trying to see if the mouse was in there!

So shoes on everyone, and down the mountain in the dark we go. tI is close to 10 PM and very dark. Yes, I decided in my infinite wisdom that we would be better off in the dark with bears, possums, raccoons, skunks and assorted other woodland creatures with no flashlight than we would be with 2 very small mice. We get to the main building just as she is turning off all the lights. I look at her and say “I don’t do mice. There are at least 2 of them in Clemson, and I am not going back!“ Thankfully she helps us (yes, I do realize that she was doing everything in her power to not LAUGH at me!) and finds us alternate accommodations, although not nearly as roomy or well suited to our large crew (two hotel style rooms, barely big enough for two full size beds) and there is no refrigerator or microwave. Now the real problem arises.

The older kids are all in watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so Deanne and I have to move 10 peoples worth of stuff and all the food from the kitchen ALONE from the cottage to the 3rd floor of the hotel (which has NO ELEVATORS)…..I can’t even describe how sore I was or how chapped the insides of my legs were from the numerous trips up and down the stairs.

So Jacob will here forth be knows as Jacob the Brave, because he was going to save me and his younger siblings from the mice! And I, will forever be known as the big fat chicken!