Friday, June 24, 2011

Nature scratches back

I recently had my 2008 blog posts published. I know I am way behind. But it is expensive and time consuming to have it done so I just haven't gotten around to it. 2008 was the year I posted the most, just over 200 posts for that year while all the other years I have been keeping this blog I have a bit over a hundred.  A lot of the posts for 2008 dealt with our outdoor nature challenges. We did a lot of nature study that year and learned a lot about the plants and trees and such that we have in out neighborhood and area. I noticed that these posts somewhat diminished after one hike left me with Poison Oak. I had it really bad and had to go to the doctor for some prescribed steroids to help me get rid of it.  I had never had it this rash so bad and was miserable. I have somewhat avoided nature ever since. When we take walks up at my parents house part of the road is bordered by lots of greenery and in that greenery is poison oak. It screams out to me and I can't help but cringe when I see it.

Wednesday park day was at one of our favorite parks. It is great for a hot Summer day. It is shady and breezy and tucked away in a nice little neighborhood so isn't too crowded. In fact it is almost just our group of kids there. This park is bordered by a little creek and there is all sorts of brush and trees all along it.  Every time we go to this park, before we even get out of the car, I tell the kids that they are not to go down to the creek to play because of the poison oak. They always act put out by this rule because other kid's parents don't have such a rule and would let them play there.  I have taken my kids and left the park because they disobeyed my rule.  We have been lucky so far. We hadn't had poison oak in a long time.

Well after a fun day at a park and a walk along to trail to see if there were cattails we went home and took our usual after park baths. All the clothes went to the laundry and we had some dinner then went to bed.

Yesterday I woke up with a tingling around my mouth. I thought it might be a cold sore starting or something. But later my eye started to really itch and began to swell up. I knew I was having an allergic reaction. I took some antihistamine to help deal with the swelling. Last night while helping Henry dress for bed I noticed that his belly had a big red rash all over it. Then a few hours later he woke up and said his legs were hurting. I knew we were dealing with poison oak. Henry spent a miserable night waking us up to tell us new places where he was hurting asking us to slather on more lotion. The poor guy has it just about everywhere.  He has the little hive like bumps in many places around his body. You would almost think he rolled around in it. I know he didn't go down to the creek and I don't remember him playing in the bushes at all. But he did collect sticks. He must have taken a "nature potty" break because he even has it down in the underwear area.  He too is taking antihistamines and we have been icing and using a lot of calamine lotion. I feel pretty lucky to only have a small bit on my face. I must have touched Henry and then rubbed my eye or something.

I talked to my husband a little while ago and he has found a patch of it on his neck and cheek. He wasn't at the park with us but he did help the boys strip down for their baths when we came home. There must have been a bit of the oils on Henry's clothes. So far Ian, Sophie and Molly show no signs of the rash and I really hope that they don't. Sophie is supposed to have surgery next week and I would think a rash of poison oak would stop that from proceeding.

It is said that each time you get poison oak it is worse than the time before. I guess my body is less and less resistant to it.

Nature has not been our friend this week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Molly's picks.

When Sophie was a baby we read books, books and more books. She would sit through one after another and happily sit in my lap and let me read. Ian wasn't quite as good about sitting with us when we read books. He was busy and I just chalked it up as being a boy thing. Henry came along and wouldn't sit still worth anything for a book and usually caused so much mischief whenever I was occupied on anything other than watching him, story time was almost always when he went down for a nap. I am sorry to say the same is true about Molly. She always seems to choose that moment, when I have the three older kids draped around me on the couch reading a book, to dump out all the washing soap or pull the wet wipes out of the containers and throw them one by one into the garbage.

Thank goodness Henry grew out of the mischief making and now asks for books all the time. I are really waiting for that to happen with Molly. I know it will. The signs are there that she is really starting to enjoy books and will sit through longer pages with less pictures. In fact these are the books she has taken a fancy to lately and we seem to read a lot.

The Story of Babar isn't really one of my favorite stories. In fact it is a little strange. Molly will sit through the entire book several times a day.  I am almost ready to hide this one where she can't find it. Or maybe we just need to find another of the Babar books so at least it will be a different story.

The Big Hungry Bear, or the "strawberry" book as Molly calls it is her absolute favorite at the moment. Not only can she listen to it several times in a day she often demands it retold several times in one sitting.

Winnie the Pooh has been a favorite for some time. We don't make it through a whole bunch in one sitting. There are a lot of words and very few pictures but Molly is always bringing it to me to read to her and the other kids will always climb into the chair with us to listen to the story as well.

Madeline books too are often thrown my way, The Bad Hat is the most frequent but any of them are alright. I don't know if it is the size of these books but something really appeals to Molly about these stories. Our set of these books is actually somewhat small, about half a sheet of normal 8.5x11  paper. Molly has always been attracted by little books. The Babar book too is a petite version of the tale.

For what ever reason, these are Molly's favorites. She sticks to the old classic tales I guess. But then that is about all she will find on our shelves. (Only because the Star Wars and Spiderman books are tucked away into the boy's bedroom. Those don't stay in the big bookcase in the main room where we do most of our reading. )

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid-Summer's Eve

We have spent the last few days listening to Fablehaven. Sophie had a hard time not telling us what was going to happen next because she listened to the book on the airplane and during our trip.

Conversations around our house are now all about fairies, our need for some brownies or a golum, and what demons look like. Sophie draws pictures of different fairies and the boys have been building Fablehaven characters and even the house out of their legos. This is quite a feat since we don't have any regular lego bricks only a bunch of specialty pieces that have come with all the different sets we have acquired. Not many regular old Lego bricks in the box but they improvised

I believe the Dad from the Indiana Jones set is Grandpa, Hermione Granger is used as Kendra, Indiana Jones is Seth, Marion is Grandma and they have a bunch of storm troopers that are fairies. They even built the yard, complete with a little pond or swimming pool and had a great time acting out some of the scenes from the book.

This morning I found that Sophie had taken it upon herself to protect our house. We mentioned that Summer official starts on the 21st and since in the story the night before the first day of summer or Mid-Summer's Eve was a big deal and caused a lot of trouble. In the book they layered on protections so Sophie decided to do the same for us. We had paper lanterns and such stuck to the doors and who knows what else she had dreamed up.

I love it that my kids get so excited about a series of books. I have had the first two Fablehaven books sitting on the shelf for a few months.  They came via Paperback swap and we just weren't ready yet to read them. We had a bunch of other things to get through. But when I went to look for Audio books to take our trip Fablehaven was there at the library so I brought it home. Sophie loved it and wanted to talk about it so we knew we all needed to listen to it. Now my kids are begging me to read aloud the 2nd book. Sophie has already read it. She picked it up the moment we got home and started reading it. a few days later the 3rd book became available from paperbackswap and when it arrived she stayed up late reading it and spent a day or two reading every chance she could get. She has now finished the first three books and wants so badly to tell us what happens next. She is going to have to hold back because we want to read the books and not have them spoiled.

My kids sure love fantasy stories!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Doesn't Mean We Get To Sleep In!

On Monday morning most kids in our area were either sleeping in or excitedly getting ready for what ever Summer Camp they were signed up for. School was out for the Summer and they got to play. That isn't how things are done around our house. I much prefer to keep to our usual schedule. That way we still have our scripture/devotional time in the morning which always seems to get put on the way side when we don't "do school". So on Monday morning we started school again. Not that we ever really stopped. We had just been on vacation and had to get back to normal.

We do take things a little lighter since there are many interruptions that seem to pop up quite often during these few months. Friends that want to have play dates and outings. But, more or less, our mornings are spent the same way as they are done during any other part of the year.

Once thing I do plan to focus on during these few months is Science. We really scuttled science last year so I feel like we need to find some focus. I decided to just start over in the four year rotation. We will be starting over with history in the Fall so I thought we could get a jump start on biological science this summer.

I am trying yet another science curriculum. I bought the Apologia Exploring Creation Zoology book, Flying Creatures of the Fifth day.  We went through the first lesson this week. So far so good.

We learned about classification of animals, habitats, extinction, and a little about a physics of flying.  There are 14 lessons in the book and each lesson should take about a week to complete so we have a Summer's worth of science plus some.
The kids had a great time cutting up the Bird magazines I had found at the library in the discarded magazines.  So they made collages of birds and insects since that is what this Zoology book covers.  Wow 14 weeks on Birds and insects. That seems like a long time. We will see how this goes.
Sophie wrote quite a bit in her new notebook
Ian of course wrote as little as possible. This is the phrase the book taught the kids so they can remember all the different classification terms.

During the heat of the Day we also spent some time watching the Discovery Channel Life DVD which we were given a few months ago. My kids love it.

So along with the usual Math, Scripture, Writing, Music and such we will actually be doing Science. Or at least that is the plan.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hansel and Gretel in the Creepy Woods

Friday is usually co-op day. But tomorrow we don't have it. Co-op is off for the Summer. I don't know if my kids are going to be able to handle it. They asked me today what we were going to do (which means where are we going to go) since we don't have co-op as usual.

We only joined a co-op last fall but already my kids LOVE it. There are kids of all ages that attend. There are some just about to head off to college while there are some babies that are running around. There are usually classes divided into age groups but sometimes the whole group does things together. It has been a really good experience this year.

The last few months, one of the classes the kids have done is Drama. I wasn't surprised Sophie liked it. She is a very dramatic girl but I was shocked that Ian actually really liked it. He is usually such a shy kid. He even got the lead role in the end of term play the kids performed. He played Hansel in the Hansel and Gretel and the Creepy Wood play.

Even Henry liked it enough to take a part in the play even through it was supposed to be for the 6-12 year olds. Henry got to play one of the 7 dwarfs, Smelly I believe. Sophie played the mean step mother.

They incorporated the younger kids into the story (they were supposed to be the ferocious beasts out in the forest even though they were dressed up as butterflies, unicorns and such.) and used some of the older kids to bring them on and off the stage (they are the trees of the creepy wood) .
On performance night I was pleasantly surprised that my kids performed so well.  The performance was the day after we got home from our trip and they scheduled a special practice just for our kids that morning since we missed two practices. That morning rehearsal didn't got that well. But that night the kids pulled through and didn't forget their lines or joke around like they had been doing that morning.
We made a big deal about the show. Parents, Grandparents and friends were invited for the show. The older kids had a Shakespeare play they were performing and the kids all sang a few songs also. The group practices songs every week and sings once a month at a nursing home.
This was a very nice way to end the year and the kids got a chance to perform in front of an audience.
Here is the cast of Hansel and Gretel. What a great group of kids!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The last of our Trip - Punch Bowl

So this is the last of our Hawaii trip pictures.  Our 9 days in Hawaii went by quickly and my kids are now saying it is hard to remember they were ever there. We just jumped back into our normal routine when we got home.  I guess it is a good thing we took over 600 pictures (I obviously didn't post them all). It will prove that they were there.

The flowers in Hawaii are gorgeous. I spent a lot of time looking and smelling all the different pictures. There were flowers on the trees everywhere we went and my girls loved to pick them up off the ground and wear them in their hair.

The late afternoon of the last day we were on the Island we decided to visit The Punch Bowl.  It seemed a fitting end to our trip which started with Pearl Harbor.

We got a bit lost trying to get there and ended up seeing a lot of downtown Honolulu. 
And as we drove up the crater we could look out over the city. It is a big busy city. There isn't any city like this on Maui which is the only other Hawaiian Island I have visited. I assume the other Islands too can't claim a big crowded metropolis like Oahu.
We finally made it to The Punch Bowl National Cemetery of the Pacific and after visiting the facilities and the small visitors center we walked around the grounds.
This is where a lot of WWII soldiers are buried.
Here is an unknown soldier who's date of death was December 7, 1941. My kids quickly said "Hey he died at Pearl Harbor". They found many more stones with names and that date on them.  My husband, as he walked down the rows of stones could tell just by the date of death what battles or islands they most likely died on.
We walked up to the memorial and climbed the many steps up to the top. We stopped to look at the big slabs of marble on the sides which were covered in names of those, that as stated on the plaque, who served our country but whose earthly resting spot is known only to God. There were a lot of names!
We couldn't decide who the lady on the memorial was supposed to be. Sophie called her "Lady Liberty with the mean face". I thought maybe she is supposed to be Athena Goddess of War. But then again we aren't Greek. So Lady Liberty is a better guess. She was rather angry looking. I guess she is upset by how many lives had to be taken in order to protect freedom.

Here we are at the pool under her feet.
Behind her is a colonnade with maps of many of the Island of the Pacific where WWII battles were fought. It was really interesting to see those maps. So interesting in fact that we forgot to take any pictures of them. My kids were so interested in everything. I was sort of surprised. But then we had just spent weeks studying and reading about WWII so they understood the history and all that this cemetery represented.

This is the view looking down onto the green. There were fields on both sides beyond those trees.  Rows and rows of graves.
A somewhat somber way to finish a fun filled trip.  But it was one of the things I am glad we didn't miss.

The next day we were back on a plane for our 5 hour flight back to the main land.
These boys spent a good amount of those hours fighting over who go to play games on their Dad's iphone.
Sophie spent most of her sitting hours listening to her ipod. She made it through Fablehaven on this trip.
This girl was not fun to entertain. We stuck stickers all over the seats and ourselves, read books (she liked the magazine from the airplane the best), ate snacks, napped, walked up the aisles, and played pick-a-boo with the neighbors.  5 hours is a long time to have to hold Molly. She counted as a lap child since she was under the age of 2. This is the last time we will be able to claim that one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

North Shore

Are you tired of hearing about Hawaii yet? I am almost done posting pictures of our trip.

One of our days was spent up on the North Shore. This is the area of Oahu known for it big waves. But this was the wrong time of year for that. The ocean was actually rather flat and calm. But a few months ago the waves were 12+ feet tall and they were having surfing competitions. This was a good time to go snorkeling.

But in order to get up to the North Shore we had to drive through a bunch of farmland. There was fields and fields of pineapple and sugar cane. We decided we needed to stop at the Dole Pineapple plantation. They have a maze and a train ride as well as a tour but we decided we would just walk around the grounds a bit.  There was a lot of pineapple plants all around for us to see.
and some silly things for the kids.

Fish to feed.
This is a rainbow eucalyptus tree. I have never seen bark so many different colors.
And of course we had to get a very expensive pineapple soft serve ice cream cone.
There are lizards all over the place in Hawaii. I was often shocked by them just hanging out in the kitchen or on the fences or like this one on a light shade outside.
We jumped back into the cars and headed north to the beach. We stopped at a place called Shark Cove. No there were no sharks but there was a nice big rock enclosed pool where we would be able to see a lot of sea creatures.

My kids hadn't ever been snorkeling. There isn't much chance for it on beaches near us or perhaps we just haven't tried but they didn't know what they were doing. They didn't like the plastic tube in their mouth and had way more fun just exploring the tide pools and looking at the fish and trying to find shells that weren't inhabited.
Molly just loved getting to play in the shallows. She kept wanting to go deeper and we did take her out farther but mostly she just wanted to splash in the water.

My kids swam around for over two hours here just looking at fish and exploring the rocks.
Later we would regret not keeping our t-shirts on. Our sunblock must have worn off and we got a little crispy.

After Shark Cove we ventured over to Turtle beach to see if there were any turtles on the beach and we were in luck there were 7 big sea turtles laying on the beach.
They were roped off so people needed to stay back away from them. I was surprised that they had little signs posted with each turtles name and information about that turtle. I guess they have all the turtles tagged and keep track of them.

It was a fun day in the sun.

It looks like the sun sapped Henry's energy. He conked out on the drive back to Honolulu.

We certainly have seen a lot of the Island of O'ahu.