Friday, March 10, 2017

Local Ecology

This week has been "spring break" for my kids. Williamsburg Academy, their online school takes a week off at the Mid term. Sophie had to take a few tests and the boys were given a few assignments to do over the break.  One of the things the boys were supposed to do was visit a local place and study the ecology of that place.  When they told me about the project I thought of the many different places we could go. We are only about a hour from the delta or even the ocean. That would be some fun ecology to study.  But instead I thought of Big Trees. It is a State park about 45 min from Grandma's house. It is a beautiful redwood forest with lots of very tall and BIG trees.  So we planned to go over the break. I told the kids that morning as we were headed out the door that since we had had so much rain the last little while it was probably going to be muddy. Little did I know and certainly didn't prepare for what was actually there. 

As we drove to from Grandma's house toward Big Trees we passed through Angels Camp and discussed the jumping frog of Calaveras County and why that is the mascot of that town. When we got up to Murphys we started to see little tiny bits of snow on the ground and the kids got excited. This was the first snow they had seen all year. Ian went up to camp in the snow but the rest of us have stayed snug in our wet, rainy valley and hadn't had any snow days this winter. As we kept going up higher toward Big Trees (3,000 ft) the snow became thicker and much more plentiful. Finally, when we only had about a half mile left before the turn off, there was a sign that said "snow chains required".  We ventured slowly up to the parking lot for Big Trees state park and I could hardly contain my excited kids. They were miserably prepared but they loved every bit of the snow they could. 

Quickly formed snow balls and threw them at each other.

Pulled icicles off the roof of the visiter's center.

Yes, Henry was only wearing some knit shorts but he was too excited to be cold. 

We did go into the visitor's center and looked around at the displays they had that showed what animals and such we would find out in Big Trees. 

But that visit didn't last long. We had to get out into the forest and see all that snow.

We tried to follow the trail, we knew where is should have been but it was so covered with snow that we had to just blaze a trail of our own. 

We actually couldn't go very far into the park. Years of drought and then with all the rain that we suddenly have had recently there have been a number of the really big trees that have fallen down and the trails are blocked until they can get in there and check out the full extent of the damage.

We were able to get all the way to the big stump that had been used as a dance floor back in the logging days. 
I played with my phone's camera and took a few pannoramic photos of clearing we were in.

It made people look a little strange but the scene was beautiful.

The boys decided to build tiny snow men on top of the stump.

Henry's hands were just a bit cold!

 But there was no complaining about the cold from anyone. (Okay, Sophie may have complained a bit about the coldness and her lack of boots and gloves)  They were all too excited about the adventure.

It was really beautiful to play in the fresh snow that hadn't been walked in.  We did spy some animal prints in the snow.

The boys and Molly decided to leave their own marks in the snow as well. 

Perfect snow for snow angels.

They could have stayed longer but we left the snow behind. 
 But they asked if we could come again next week. I told them perhaps later in the Spring or Summer.
I had never been the Big Trees in the snow before. Having grown up in the area I have been there many many times but this was one trip that will be quite a happy memory. We didn't see many of the BIG trees. But we certainly got to see snow!

On the way back down the hill we had to stop for a late lunch and a quick run around the local park. Funny what a difference a 10 min drive down the mountain makes.

Oh, and one more stop on the way home. We decided we had to go see the 44 lb gold nugget that was on display at one of the local vineyards.  It had actually been found in a gold mine only a mile or two from my parent house.

Gotta love the Mother Lode!

Pull ups

Ian is trying to get his Physical fitness merit badge and needed to start a regular exercise routine.  I had been thinking of different things we could add to our equipment that might interest the kids.  I decided to try a pull up bar. Henry has been asking for one for years. But I never did because I thought it would damage the door frame.  I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. 

 The one door in our house that isn't constantly being opened or shut is the laundry room door so that is where we decided to put it.
 Henry is currently the only one of the kids able to do an actual pull up. Mostly the others just struggle and try but can't quite do more than hang.
 But give it time and they might be able to do it.  But for now it counts as a little bit of P.E.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rain Concert

Six months ago or more we saw that the Beatles Tribute band Rain was coming to a town near us.  We decided to get tickets. Evidently they are very popular because we got some of the last tickets. The concert sold out within a few days. 

So we have been looking forward to this show for a long time!

 Our tickets were not all together so Molly and I sat on one side of the room.
 This was our view of the stage. We had seats all the way at the top, last row and in the back. We didn't hear any complaints though.
The boys had seats on the other side of the room and then Sophia and Papa sat in seats in the row behind them. There wasn't really a bad seat in the house. That was all that was left for all 6 of us to go see the show. 

It wasn't a huge venue so no matter where you sit you saw a great show.

 They start the show dressing up as the Beatles in the early days as they play songs from this period.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Sargent Pepper so almost the whole 2nd half of the show was the songs from that Album.  I admit there were a few of those songs I had never heard before.

We all loved he show!

New shirts

There were no chocolates for Valentines this year. My kids were each given a new Doctor Who t-shirt. They all seem to like them!
I don't usually buy shirts for my kids. They live in hand me downs mostly. I also usually don't like words and such on shirts but Sophie has loved the Mickey Mouse shirt I got her for her birthday and then she also got a Hogwarts shirt for Christmas that quickly became a favorite so I decided Doctor Who shirts was going to be alright too. 

Projects for School

My boys have been cooking quite a bit for school. This year they have been traveling to different countries of the world and studying their different cultures and government systems. One of the projects they are either assigned or they choose from the list of options is to cook a food from that country. This semester they have visited Italy and made pizza.  Henry was not very adventurous and only made a margarita pizza.
Ian was brave and tried the mushroom and eggplant toppings. 
I think they both prefer the pepperoni or canadian bacon pizzas that I usually make them. 

They also visited Germany so needed to make a German meal. They decided to make Schnitzel. We just made chicken schnitzel rather than pork. We just don't eat a whole lot of pork.
Ian added a salad and some apple cake to the meal and then we had some ginger ale to represent the beer that would usually be served in germany. It was a tasty meal but not one we will be making again anytime soon. It was pretty greasy!

Ian has also been working on his Cooking merit badge so he has been asking to make breakfast, lunch and dinners quite often. It is nice to have my boys cooking so much. We are motivated to try new foods and they get to know their way around the kitchen a little better.
 Whenever they can, the boys like to try to fulfill their assignments by using legos.  While visiting Germany they read a number of Grimm's Fairy Tales and then they needed to create a scene from one of those stories. Henry made a gingerbread house and had Hansel and Gretel visit the witch.
 He even wanted to make a scene from inside the house too. It is hard to see in the photo but Hansel  is in a cage with the witch reaching in. He has a bone he is holding out to her. Poor Gretel is sweeping the house.

 Ian's scene is from Rapunzel. I think they turned out rather cute!

 The boys also studied some famous paintings for one of their classes and needed to try to recreate one. They both decided to do Van Gohn's Starry Night. Henry's is above and Ian's is below.

 Not to leave Sophia out. She doesn't get to do nearly as many fun projects for school. Her classes are much more academic and so I have far less things to take photos.

Here she was supposed to make an infographic about viruses.  She did a great job!

No school projects for Molly. 
 School work is very boring. She only does bookwork! Not really. She just doesn't want to do much school work. It is like pulling teeth to even get math, reading and spelling done each day. Beyond reading books and those few assignments each day she is not interested in doing much else. I also am busy trying to help the others get their projects and work done so this poor girl is not given as many "fun" projects as she could have. I really should remedy that but it is hard to fit everything into our schedules.

But she finds ways to add projects into her life. This girl always has art projects going. There is always little bits of paper scattered about the house because she has cut up something or is making something.
She decided one of the boxes that we got in the mail one day was perfect to be a Tardis for her barbies. So she painted it blue and then then next day added the details. Now her  Rory and Amy barbies have a Tardis to travel in.

School work at home is always an adventure and does keep us very busy!