Saturday, July 28, 2007

When The M's Came To Visit ...

The girl's had a Care Bear Party - of course !

And we played some board games.
We visited the Playground at the Park - the girls had a GRAND time on the Tire Swing.
And we stopped to feed the ducks. Their tummies were FULL when we left.
And Cherub 6 enjoyed walking the 2 littlest girls in their stroller.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vacation Bible School

This week we have been attending Vacation Bible School. Cherub 1 and MomToCherubs are teaching the K4-K5 class, which has been a hoot !! Everyone has had a wonderful time. Our Cousins were here visiting so they attended as well and LOVED it.

Above are some photos from Bible School.

Photo 1: K4-K5 class - all smiles !
Photo 2: Mucis class - we learned new songs to sing and we even danced !
Photo 3: After learning about what God made that we CAN see (trees, flowers, people) and what we CANNOT see (air, love, faith, heaven), we blew bubbles - we called this our BUBBLE PARTY.

Homeschool Picnic

Last week we were invited to a Homeschool Picnic, hosted by some friends. We played and made some new friends, and we had a grand time. We even made Vanilla Icecream in Ziploc baggies - it was really yummy !!

This is a picture of our picnic lunch, although we had to have it inside because the rain came a bit earlier than anticipated.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Curriculum Fair

Today begins the big Curriculum Fair / Homeschool Fair. And I am armed with a list of what I need to purchase for this next school year, plus a few things from a Wish List too. Most years I do fairly well not to fall into the trap of "new and exciting" materials from the homeschool fair that are purchased and then barely used - let's hope I can withstand this year as well. I think many people have a tendency to impulse-shop at these things, which can get pretty pricey and rather frustrating. My helpful hint to new homeschools regarding the Curriculum Fairs - GO WITH A GOOD LIST AND A GOOD PEN TO CROSS OFF WHAT YOU FIND (that is ON your list).

Since we use a Literature based curriculum ( ) for the most part, I am looking for more than a few actual "whole" books rather than textbooks. I think at last count our shopping list is around 50 books. Since we are still working on our home library (after the fire) we need more than "on an average year". I was amazed, however, when I was compiling my general lessons plans and my to-buy list just how many wonderful living books are already here in my home .... thanks to a wonderful friend who expended a tremendous amount of energy and time focused on our needs this past spring after our housefire. WOW - it is just amazing when I really step back and "take stock" of what is here. And we are so thankful - all of us !! We would be in such a mess without having had so much help and guidance during those first several weeks. We have so many great books that came from other homeschoolers, near and far, given to us (and in some cases they were lent to us) out of understanding of our difficult situation and out of genuine love and concern - thank you fellow homeschoolers and Ambleside Ladies ! It just brings tears to my eyes .... and I thank God every day for all of the wonderful people He has brought into our lives, both those we know personally and those we have never met. He has blessed us beyond measure, and we will praise His name to the mountaintops.

Back to the Fair .... I am heading out shortly armed with my list and a SHARPIE .... and hope to be back just after lunchtime with lots of books .... hopefully ALL of the books on my list so that I do not have to order them online. Either way, I will have books either here OR on their way (we will order whatever is left to buy this evening) ... and then I can finally complete my weekly lesson plans for each of our children (more on this later) .... then just sit and wait for school to begin.

The children are staying home today with a sweet young lady whom they all love dearly, and DadToCherubs will be sound asleep (he works nights) .... and so I will be going alone to brave the crowds and to hold up against that little (strong !) voice inside me that says BUY MOREEEEE BOOKS .... WHAT A NICE BOOK - BUY IT .... OHHH MORE NICE BOOKS TO BUY .... so I will have to arm myself with restraint and try to stick to my list.

Thank you Shadybrook Acres .... MamaLion, as I look at the library that is here before me at home, and to many things in our home that "arrived" during those tough weeks, and as I look back at all you and your family did for us during those weeks .... I can barely keep from getting tears in my eyes .... we are so blessed to have you in our lives !! And then I need to say thank you for helping me finalize my shopping list for today (from one book-junkie to another) .... and thank you C&ace for coming to hold down the fort which I am out today ....

I think the expression is usually "wish me luck" ... but instead, maybe you can pray for me today (and maybe for those who happen to stand between me and something I need on my list - HA !).

JULY 28th UPDATE: We ordered the rest of our books from Amazon on the evening after the curriculum fair, and now the things we ordered are arriving daily. YEAH !! We just love getting books in the mail ! We have also purchased all of the supplies we need for this year. Sooooo ... we are nearly ready to begin our school year ... just as soon as MomToCherubs finishes the lesson plans. We have a very exciting year planned with lots of neat materials. And we are SO looking forward to getting back to "normal life".

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Science Comic

This weekend I have been working on Science lesson plans for our upcoming school year, which begins in August.

And I was looking around for additional resources, I stumbled across this comic and wanted to share. (from )

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Very Difficult Day

Our 6yo cat, Smudge, became ill on Wednesday evening, and by last evening she was getting worse. We called our vet yesterday afternoon, and he came out to see her early this morning.

Dr. M performed an emergency surgery in hopes of saving her - DadToCherubs and Cherub 1 helped, as did I. Things were thought to be going well after the surgery was completed and she was beginning to awake from the anesthesia. Dr. M left to see another patient and we were holding Smudge as she was "waking up". And then suddenly Smudge stopped breathing. DadToCherubs and I tried CPR (the breathing part only) for her which helped for maybe 5 minutes until Dr. M could return (he left less than 10 minutes before things started going really badly, so when we called he came right back). After some additional efforts on his part, Smudge gave up and was gone.

We had a small funeral, and shed more than a few tears. She was such a very sweet cat, loved by eveyone (humans, cats, and dogs alike) ... and will be dearly missed.

Our Latest Rescue Attempt

Photo: Our found Baby Barn Swallow; cell phone to show size.

Since moving into this house we have had birds living in the chimmney - Chimmney Swifts to be more specific. We can hear them chirping mostly in the evenings - they are QUITE loud. And we had decided to wait before calling someone to remove them - atleast until their babies had hatched and fledged. We are hoping to call SOON to get them mvoed, and then to cap the chimmney to prevent them from returning as there are plenty of other place around where they can nest safely.

Well, our plan worked well until Tuesday evening when we heard a THUMP and a CHEEEEEPPPPP in the chimmney, and saw at the bottom a flipping-flopping little fledgling Chimmney Swift .... since named Smokey.

First we tried leaving him there in hopes his parents would rescue him, but that did not happen. We had a bonafide rescue in progress. We placed him in a small crate with warm towels, covered it with screen, and put it in a draft free warm corner. Next we have been feeding him a tiny bit of "formula" at a time and so far he seems to be doing well.

And tomorrow we are going to take him outside and we are going to HOPE that he flies away to live a happy Birdie's life.
This has been quite a Science lesson - the care and feeding of a small bird, learning about Chimmney Swifts (which are quite interesting birds !) The children have been most attentive as they are fascinated with this little one. Please pray for the "launch" tomorrow.
July 16 UPDATE: The Launch did NOT go off as planned - only flapping and many "attempts" to fly, but no actual flying. So, another idea came about ... and Smokey was put back into the fireplace (sans fire, of course). His parents have been coming to feed him, however he still is not able to fly "up" the chimmney. We are really hoping he gets himself moving UP and OUT soon so that we can have the chimmney cleared of nests and capped to prevent future "invasions".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Second Swim Meet

Cherub 5 "ready" and awaiting the START for her FreeStyle race.

Cherub 4 doing the Butterfly - he placed 3rd !

Cherub 2 starting her BackStroke race.

Cherub 1 doing the Breast Stroke.

Cherub 3 waiting to do the Boys FreeStyle Relay.

Five of our children (Cherub 6 is too young to be on the team) participated in their 2nd Swim Meet on Tuesday evening. Everyone has worked hard and has improved greatly since the last meet. All of the children had a grand time.
Just after the Meet began we had a GREAT surprise. Grandpa Beck came to watch the Meet and to cheer for the children. (we were not expecting him as he did not tell us he was coming.) They were very excited and most flattered that he came to watch. And of course Cherub 6 was excited because he got to sit in Grandpa's lap for the whole Meet - they are "buddies".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our Last Two Stops

Photo 1: Our children sitting on the front porch step of the Ranger Station.
We made 2 stops on our way home from our daytrip to the Cherokee National Forest.

The first stop was to visit the Ranger Station. While there, the kind ladies in the office told us about Park Rangers and Park History, and then told us the entire history of Smokey The Bear. It was all quite fascinating. The children were each given coloring books and comic-type books about Smokey the Bear too, with which they were quite pleased. We looked at photos of early trail-blazing projects and road construction during the parks official formation. We saw photos of Rangers-past hard at work felling dead trees, fighting wildfires, tending to wildlife, and other sorts of jobs that fall on their shoulders still today. We also saw several nice displays of early tools, weapons, uniforms, and additional useful items (dishes, canteens, belt buckles, etc) belonging to previous Rangers dating back to the beginning of the actual "National Forest". Also there were a few items that have been found in the area that belonged to the Cherokee Indians, although we understand much more information about them and many more artifacts were visible at a museum in the next town. (the museum was closed so we will save that visit for another day)
The Ranger station also had some wonderful books for sale, three of which we purchased for our home library. The titles are:
These books will be wonderful resources for our family. They are of reasonable size for carrying along, plus they are full of area-specific content. They will each be wonderful to use when we work "in the field" with our Nature Journals again (which will be soon).
After a very interesting visit to the Ranger Station, we all loaded into the car again to continue our journey home after a long day.
Of course, what DayTrip would be complete and totally wonderful without a special treat (preferably a cool one as it was 95 degrees !) .... so our very last stop of the day was in Tellico Plains by the river for an icecream cone. Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for me, Birthday Cake icecream for Cherub 2 and Cherub 4 and Cherub 5 and Cherub 6, one Olde Savannah Caramel for Cherub 3, one Blueberry Cream Pie for Cherub 1, and a Double Mint Chocolate Chip for DadToCherubs (his FAVORITE !).
What a yummy way to end a very special outing. Thank you DadToCherubs for a fantastic idea.

Bald River Falls

We recently visited Bald River Falls, which is also in the Cherokee National Forest. The falls are gorgeous - and we learned that the Cherokee Indians believed that the pool below the falls had healing properties. It was so neat just to sit and imagine Indian families playing in the cool waters long ago, and to think of what early area explorers thought when they "discovered" these Falls.

The children and DadToCherbs played in the water, and took turns trying to swim INTO the falls. DadToCherubs got pretty close, but did not quite make it INTO the Falls themselves.

We hiked up the trail to the top of the falls, and followed the river a bit before it becomes the falls. Everyone walked downstream until they were just in front of the place where the decent into the falls begins (photo of some of the children above "on the wall"). The concrete wall apparently was put in pace to replace some rocks that traveled over time down the falls to the pool below. Next we found a smaller falls that "feed" the big falls, just beyond the concrete wall - those little falls were very pretty and the pool below them was extremely deep (too deep to explore as we could see the downward pull of the water - YIKES !).

Going To Walnut Grove

DadToCherubs had a grand idea a few days ago - we drove into the Cherokee National Forest for a Family Picnic at Walnut Grove (though not the Ingall's Family Walnut Grove). We packed coldcut sandwiches, chips, soda, and chocolate cookies for dessert. The children explored the river nearby while DadToCherubs and I prepared lunch, and everyone played in the crystal clear waters.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Frisbee Dog

DadToCherubs threw a frisbee to Cherub 5 this afternoon as she claimed to have never played Frisbee ... and Daisy saw it and immediately took off running at a very FAST pace ... she ran FAST to actually catch the frisbee !! And she DID in fact catch the frisbee in her mouth like an old pro !! We were all amazed, and to be sure it was not a "fluke" we continued to play Frisbee with her for several more tosses (until she stopped running to catch it anymore). Who knew we had a FRISBEE DOG living in our midst ??

Sunday, July 08, 2007

At Fort Loudoun

We spent this afternoon at Fort Loudoun State Park. We packed a lunch of sandwiches, along with lots of snacks and drinks ... and headed out for a nice Family Day together. After lunch we walked on the trails, and then ended the afternoon swimming in the cool clear lake.

The picnic areas are wooded so the shade keeps things cool. There were plenty of tables, and even little grills available for use. We were amazed by how clean the entire park was - the Park Rangers are doing a wonderful job.
The trails are nice and are kept up well. They are also well labeled.
And the lake - crystal clear water, clean shorelines, well marked "areas". We saw some boats and jetskis out today - even a houseboat.


Cherub 3 used a deck of oversized cards very creatively ... to build a castle, a house with sliding doors on the garage, and all sorts of other structures. It's not exactly the "suggested" use for such a game, but definately fun.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home early from vacation - pulling into the driveway at 11:30pm on Friday evening. We had originally planned to stay until late Sunday evening.

Since we were home a few days early, we decided to make Day #1 (Saturday) PRODUCTIVE !! First we called Grandpa to let him know we were at home again - he was our petsitter and garden-waterer while we were on vacation. Grandpa came out to visit later in the morning "because I missed you guys" he said. How sweet - the children were all really excited to see him. Then DadToCherubs picked up our riding mower from the repair shop AGAIN. So I spent almost the entire day trimming and mowing the yard. Having had not-a-single-drop of rain since we left, we were amazed how fast the grass (and weeds) grew while we were gone. The vegetable garden grew a whole lot as well this past week. We also managed to get all of the laundry washed, dried, and put away - we are completely unpacked. Nothing left to do other than a good "clean out" for the car (vacumn floors, clean windows, etc). And a BIG grocery trip - but we will save that for early next week.

On our afternoon visit to the garden, we found (and harvested) 6 HUGE zucchini, 8 HUGE yellow squash, 2 green peppers, and 5 good-sized cucumbers. And .... we found a few "cow pies" and more than a few HOOF PRINTS. We are guessing the cows got loose while we were on vacation and visited our garden. HA !! Other than the HUGE hooooooffffff prints, the only damage was about 8 stalks of corn were crushed, and a few of my pumpkin vines looked as if they had been "nibbled" (large nibbles). Not too bad for strolling cows, and such is life on a dairy farm I suppose.

To say "thank you" to Grandpa for petsitting and watering the garden, we invited him to dinner this evening. The Cherubs were soooo excited to see him - big hugs all around again. I think he was almost as excited to see the Cherubs as they were to see him - how cute !! For dinner tonight we had steaks (grilled thanks to DadToCherubs), salad which included our fresh cucs and peppers, baked potatoes with "the works", and a whole platter of fried squash and zucchini slices. YUMMY !!

So - now the house is straight and in order, and the yardwork has been finished - I am exhausted and am heading to bed to read for a while.

It's good to be home.

Tomorrow I think we are going to take a day-trip together before our vacation is over for this year. DadToCherubs heads back to work Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007