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 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 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 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 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 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 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!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Most disappointing children’s museum ever:

Until today (Tuesday, September 4th 2007), the most disappointing children’s museum that we have ever visited was the one in Richmond, Virginia . Today, that museum lost its distinction and will forever (or for at least the near future) be replaced by the east Tennessee discovery center. I found a link to ETDC through the reciprocating museum brochure that the wonderful Cincinnati Museum Center puts out every year, to let us know what museums across the world will let us in for free using our local membership card. When planning any roadtrip I use the brochure to plan stops to stretch our legs or as a day trip in a city we are visiting. So, ETDC is in Knoxville, on the way to Black Mountain, NC. We planned the stop for midafternoon and allowed a generous amount of time to explore what looked like from their website was going to be a wonderfully fun museum.

It probably isn’t a good sign when the museum is so small, you drive right by it. Then when you see no cars in the parking lot, it probably should serve as a warning. We ventured in anyway. After all it is free and we need to stretch our legs! The woman at the front desk looked put off that she actually had to get up and check us in. Then when she said that the children must use their “inside voices” little bells should have gone off in my head. We went around the corner and the museum laid in front of us….well if you can call 8 exhibit’s a museum. It was pathetic. The beehive had moths and ants in it, but no bees. The few computers they had weren’t working and some of the other displays were out of service. Needless to say, we didn’t need a generous amount of time. We probably didn’t even stay 45 minutes!

OK, so the positives for the museum…..scales that represented yoru weight on each planet in the solar system….although I would chose to live on Pluto, I am not sure if I can, since it is no longer a planet! There were interesting tidbits of informations posted on the walls. And the restrooms were clean! Always a plus in my book. Of course I wouldn’t detour that far off of 1-40 for a clean restroom, I am sure you could find a McDonald’s closer to the exit ramp and there wouldn’t be an admission fee!

Funniest museum moment, when Grant “farted” into the dish that carried sound across the museum. OK, typically farting wouldn’t be all that funny to me, but it really summed up the entire experience!