Friday, October 3, 2014

What We Did Over Summer Vacation - Part 4

Also in August, we visited Lake County History Center for a pioneer day field trip.  We got to learn about life in pioneer times by performing some hands-on tasks such as doing chores in a log cabin, making johnny cakes over the fire, hand-dipping candles, and participating in lessons in a one-room schoolhouse.  It was great fun and you could really see the information being absorbed and "clicking" in the kids' heads.  I overheard Monkey saying to another boy in our group when we were in the log cabin, "This sure would be a neat life," and Bug still occasionally says "yes ma'am" to me, many weeks later, after being taught that's the proper way that children speak to adults in the schoolhouse that day.

Hand-dipping candles


The little boys (including Bug) were sent out to fetch wood, with one big boy in charge.  Monkey's group was sent to bring back buckets of water.

She was really entertaining.  She taught us about pioneer life and showed us how to grind corn and make johnny cakes over the fire, which was a daily breakfast staple.
The teacher, calling the children in to school.

Leading everyone in a "blab" lesson.

Monkey doing his lesson on his slate.  Notice the woodstove in front of him - the teacher discussed how that kept everyone warm in winter and required work from both teacher and students to keep it going.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What We Did Over Summer Vacation - Part 3

Also in August, we made our first visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  I had been a little hesitant to go because I didn't know if the boys would be that interested, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the trip and spent a good 4+ hours exploring the place.  Highlights were the butterfly enclosure and the children's garden - especially the splash pad.  What motivated me to go, though, was that I had heard good things about the temporary Lego sculpture exhibit and I wanted to see it before it ended.  They were placed all around the gardens and it was fun to come across them as we wandered.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Let me back up a second - our spring/summer To-Do List

In May or June, we wrote a To-Do list together of all the stuff we wanted to do over the next few months.  It was taped to one of our kitchen cabinets all summer.  Here it is:

If you can't read it, here's the list (with completed items crossed off):
Visit Great Lakes Science Center
Visit Pump-It-Up
Visit Sky Max
Sleep Outside / Camp Out
Complete Spring Hiking Spree
Visit a Lake Erie Beach
Go Fishing
Get a RV
Go Running
Go to Yankee Peddler
See Hot Air Balloons
Go to the Pet Store
Watch Chickens Do Chicken Stuff
Cleveland Zoo
MAPS Museum
Hale Farm
Go to Brandywine Falls
Akron Zoo
Cleveland Botanical Gardens (before Aug 24)
Blossom Concerts
Bike Ride
Stan Hywet

All in all, not a bad summer!  So the recent collection of posts are highlights of things from this list - there are more to come, but I only wrote posts about things we haven't done before, or at least, things I haven't posted about before.  There are 3 or 4 more posts ready to go.  A note on the items that did not get crossed off of the list:  some will get moved onto our fall To-Do list.  "Get an RV" will get bumped indefinitely - Monkey wrote that because he knows we really want to get one and travel, although it's not going to be in the budget anytime soon.  He also wrote "Go running" and I'm not exactly sure what he meant by that... the boys run around like maniacs all the time so I could have crossed it off I suppose.  He may have just meant to go running errands.  I don't think he meant to go running, in a purposeful, athletic way... because that's just not happening.  Not my thing.  Shooting off on a tangent though, that reminds me of a conversation I need to record for posterity: Bug challenged his big brother to a race when we were hiking a couple weeks ago - he said, "First one to the bottom of this hill is a FRESH EGG!"  I love his way of looking at things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What We Did Over Summer Vacation - Part 2

The same day we visited GLSC, we finally toured the nearby Steamship William G. Mather for the first time as well.  It's a self-guided tour - you just follow taped arrow lines along the floor which show you the route.  It was pretty cool but the kids loved the big spaces and mostly wanted to zip through quickly instead of stopping to examine things, so I snapped as many pics as I could to look at later. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What We Did Over Summer Vacation - Part 1

Back in August, we checked out the special Lego Travel Adventure exhibit going on at the Great Lakes Science Center.  It's INCREDIBLE.  There are tons of amazing three dimensional scenes and recreations of famous landmarks from around the world, as well as artwork on the walls made from Legos, interspersed with lots of free play areas.  And all of this is included in the regular admission for the museum - there's no extra fee like there usually is for the special exhibits.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recent Conversation I Had

Recently, I was at a local Metro Park hiking with my kids.  Another hiker came along from the opposite direction with two small dogs.  My boys asked for permission to pet his dogs and he said yes, so they started petting them.  And then...

Perfect Stranger:  So, do you go to church around here?
Me:  No.
Perfect Stranger:  Aww, why don't you take these little guys to church?
Me:  Um... it's not our thing.
Perfect Stranger:  ...
Me (sensing that he was working on coming up with another persuasive statement):  No, thanks!

And we continued our separate ways down the path.  I know I shouldn't let it get to me, but I have been stewing about this.  It really rubbed me the wrong way.  Let's examine that one little statement again.

Aww, why don't you take these little guys to church?

I know the guy meant well and he thought he was being friendly.  He thought he was doing what he was supposed to do by trying to share the message or bring someone new into his church or whatever.  From his perspective, it's like he has a great big plate of cookies, and he just wants to share them with everybody, right?  But asking me why I don't take my kids to church, implies that I should.  And if I'm not doing something that I should be doing, that implies that I'm failing in some way as a parent and should feel concerned or even... guilty about that, right?

No.  No, no, no, no, no.

First of all, these are pretty personal questions to be asking a complete stranger.  And last time I checked, implying that a total stranger is somehow parenting their children incorrectly is A) just plain rude, and B) not a good strategy to win someone over.  I would never have the audacity to walk up to someone, ask if they take their kids to church, and then ask "WHY?" if they replied "Yes".  That would be rude, correct?  So why is it socially acceptable for it to happen the other way around?  It shouldn't be.

I turned the conversation around in my head for a long time, wondering if I should have said something else or if I should have given him a piece of my mind, but I'm glad I didn't.  I'm sure that would have just given him fuel to take back to church with him, "Oh, I met this angry atheist in the park the other day [shudder]..."  No, I'm glad I gave him exactly as much of my time as he deserved.

I fully respect everyone's right to believe and live as they wish - even if I do not share those beliefs - and I would just like to receive the same consideration and respect.  I should be able to go for a walk in the woods with my kids without a stranger needlessly shoving his religion down my throat and rudely implying that I'm doing parenting wrong.  Making judgemental/opinionated statements about religion is not appropriate when engaging in small talk with random strangers whose belief systems you know nothing about.  There are millions of other things to talk about.  If you really cannot think of any other topic to discuss in a small talk situation, you need to work on your social skills.

Thanks, internet, I feel better now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Another Chicken Update

The summer has flown by and fall is nearly here.  Our feathered companions have been great company and have provided a constant stream of learning opportunities as we've watched them continue to grow and develop.  Here are a couple pics of the flock which were taken about a month ago.

Monkey thinks the chickens are kinda cool, but Bug is a bit obsessed with them.  We often refer to him as the chicken whisperer.  He loves to hang out with them and cuddle them and giggle at their antics and give them treats.  He is completely comfortable around them and utterly fearless.

Oh, and he wants to BE one for halloween.  The first element of his costume arrived the other day.  (Thank you, Amazon!)

In the past week, we have experienced two big firsts.  I had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first egg and had been searching the internet for information about how you could tell when your chickens were about to start laying.  Most sites said around 4 to 6 months, and a couple places said the average age was 20 weeks.  So I counted off 20 weeks from the day we picked up our newly-hatched chicks (Wednesday, April 23rd) and I wrote on the calendar on Wednesday, September 10th "Chickens are 20 weeks" and watched the date get closer and began checking the nest boxes each day.  Low and behold, right on September 10th - the first egg appeared!  And it was a Big Event for our household.  Both kids had to pose for pictures with the egg.

I'll never forget when Bug exclaimed, "I'm so proud of you, chickens!  Great job!"  I was just as excited as a little kid too.  I did refrain from taking an egg selfie though.  That same day we had taken one of the hens to our homeschool co-op with us for Bug's Preschool/Kindergarten Animal Study class.  He was so excited to share his chicken with everyone and she was a big hit.  Everyone was amazed at how relaxed and friendly she was, and I gave Bug all the credit for socializing our birds so well.  I was a little bummed that we didn't end up taking the hen who laid the egg though, because she would have ended up laying it while we were there!

Even more exciting, this morning, Shane ate that first egg for breakfast and texted me this pic:

Egg number one was a double-yolker!!
Today we received egg #2 and I could tell its arrival was imminent because the hen was definitely singing the "egg-laying song" which is something else I came across in my internet research.  (There are plenty of YouTube videos of it if you're curious.)  It's basically just some very loud clucking: bawk bawk bawk bawk BA-GAWK! with the pattern repeated over and over.  If the song had lyrics I am pretty sure they would be "What's coming out of my BUTT?!  What's coming out of my BUTT?!"  It's rather comical.

Anyway, I mentioned above that we had two firsts this week.  The other first involves an intentional decrease in our rooster population.  Shane converted two of them to food.

This majestic creature is now in my freezer.  Weird, I know.
The kids and I went elsewhere and he and a friend took care of business.  I have not gotten a lot of details from him on the process (and that's ok!), but he was committed to learning how to do it, from a self-sufficiency standpoint, although I gather that he definitely did not enjoy it.  We still have four more roosters to eliminate and I know he is not looking forward to it.  My parents offered to take them to a livestock auction instead and we may take them up on their offer.  Not sure yet.  We haven't eaten the two he killed yet and while it seems very strange to have two creatures who were recently walking around my backyard, now inside my freezer, I am curious to see if I can taste a difference in fresh, organic-fed, cage-free chicken that we raised ourselves, compared to what comes from the grocery store.  Will let you know...