Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Well, I had hope to get out cards this year, but trying to get a good picture - that everyone liked - proved a bigger challenge than I thought it would be.  So, here is a picture from tonight that is fun.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the beautiful gift of our Savior!

 I hope to be back soon to fill in some details on birthdays and other things I've missed, but until then I hope you are enjoying time with your family as I am with mine!
With love

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Field Trip to Agape

This was a fun field trip to Agape Center for Environmental Education.  It was quite a drive but worth the trip!

We were split into 3 groups by age and each had different activities.

The middle group had lessons on survival skills.  This is a shot of them as they were leaving the meeting area.

 The youngest groups had several shorter programs.  We started out learning about birds.
 They did an exercise in looking for colored toothpicks in a small roped off square.  After a short time, they stopped and then counted to see which colors that they had found the most of.  What a neat way to learn about camouflage! They tried it another time and found still more with similar results.  The green and brown ones were the hardest to spot and the same would be true of insects that are prey for the birds.
 In the next activity we headed for the woods.  The children were split into 2 teams and were told to make a home.  They put on gloves and got to work.  I'm not sure that there was much planning in what they were doing - they were supposed to select the type of animal first and then build a home for it.  I think most of them just liked moving the "logs" around.
 Lots of little ones in this "shelter".
 For our last activity, we headed to a new spot.  It was a gorgeous day and the walk was a nice one.
 We learned about Native Americans and saw pictures of a wide variety of people from many different places.  We learned about how they lived, skills that they developed through their work and play as well as some of the music that they enjoyed.
 In order to hunt, they had to learn to creep and move quietly through the woods.  Since it had rained, the leaves were wet and easier to walk on without making a lot of sound.  One person was blindfolded in this game.
 The rest were spread out a short distance away.
 When the leader pointed at them, they crept up to the blindfolded child trying not to make a noise.  If the child that was blindfolded heard them, she would point to the one making the noise and they had to start over.  They really enjoyed this game!
 We played some games that tested hand-eye coordination.  Can you see the circle on the right?  The child was aiming a dart at this.
 I don't remember the name of this one.  IT was a small sack with a feather sticking from it.  The idea was to bounce it up over and over using your hands.
 Can you see how high she has tossed it in this one?
 They also learned about some instruments such as a shaker made from a gourd.  We sang a song and danced in a circle.  They really enjoyed all of these activities.
This is a buzzer which is like a button on a piece of string.  The button is wound tightly, then you pull on the string and it unwinds and rewinds making a buzzing sound.

We then walked back to a shelter to have a picnic and meet our group.  The oldest group of students went on a 3 hour swamp trek.  They looked at ecosystems and collected data on soil texture, temperature, sunlight, signs of animal life, types of plants, weather factors and more.  

The leader of this group said that if she had groups like this every day that she would pay to come to work.  :-)  Made me very happy to hear this!  They really are a great group of teens!  (They are just playing in the photo below and not doing anything related to the program.)

All in all, this was a fun field trip.  It was great to be outside exploring and learning!  Thankful to have so many great resources near us.  I highly recommend this outing to anyone in the area!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family Event 2013: The Duchess Bakes a Cake!!!

Just a quick note that this is a VERY picture heavy post.  :-)  Too many good ones and there are a lot more that I didn't post!  This is our FIAR group's biggest event of the year!  We call it "Family Event" as its a fun event we hold on a Saturday so that the whole family can participate!  This is our 12th time hosting this event and each year we book a different book from the Five in a Row curriculum to base our event around.  For the first time, due to a special request by our seniors, we repeated a book.  This was a the book chosen for our very first Family Event and the seniors wanted to repeat it - so we did.

The book ... The Duchess Bakes a Cake.

We had special guests again this year too.  Can you guess who?

That wasn't so helpful, was it?  LOL  Here is a better photo.  :-)  Steve and Jane Lambert joined us for this fun day and it was wonderful having them with us.  (Jane is the author of Five in a Row.)

They also brought their grandson with them and my boys loved having him here!

We had our largest group of families participating this year at just over 20 families.  Many arrived early to help decorate and set-up.  Our site is a park with an open field and the decorating team transform it and the shelter into delightful places!

Here is a peek at the inside of the shelter.

And a close-up of the table decorations!  Aren't they cute?!

Setting up some of the many cupcakes it will take to feed a crowd.
The fields are marked off with signs and flags and tents in preparation for games and activities.
Aren't the signs great?  So many fun things in store for the kids!
We encourage people to dress in costume but its fine to come as you are too!  I think it is a fun excuse to dress up and my family has always loved this part of the day.  Daniel and Joshua are each wearing parts of the costume that Christopher wore at the first event.

Some of our lovely ladies!  The middle two both made their dresses!  (I'll have one closer up at the end of the post.)
By 10am, we are set up and ready to go.  We start the day with a welcome and prayer and explanation of what is going to happen.  Can you tell that I'm excited about what the day has in store?!  I love seeing this day unfold as each mom has a job to contribute to the day and thus we are all surprised to see what each of the others has done.  And its always so much better than any of us could have imagined.  I do love this day!
Steve greeted and encouraged our group.
And now it is time for the telling of the story.  We had some of the older students present the story in a drama.
Rebecca is the Duchess.  Here is Joshua making a dramatic entrance as the King.
And she has started to make the cake.
Our lovely narrator does a fabulous job in telling the story.  The only words from the cast are the refrain of the book, "a lovely, light, luscious delectable cake".
The Duchess has risen on her cake and nobody knows how to get her down.
The army is called in to try to help.  They finally start eating the cake in order to get the Duchess down.
Our wonderful cast.
Its fun seeing the Dads getting into the spirit of the day too!
In the morning, we had 3 stations.  We divided the children into 3 groups by age and they visited each of the 3 stations.  One station was "A Call to Arms".

In this area, they learned some basics of stage combat such as how to "die".
And how to fight with a sword.
A small princess wanders into the fighting wearing the same gown that her older sister wore to the first event.  :-)

They also made swords.
And decorated them as they wished.

The second area was one in which they learned about many of the things that the Duchess put into the cake such as various herbs.
They were able to smell some and sample others (peppermint) as well as learn interesting facts about them.

Be careful of the sleeping dragon.  This is from another book by the same author entitled How Many Dragons are Behind the Door?

The last area was called Storm the Castle.

The younger kids were divided into teams and played a game to see who could get the most balls over and onto the other side of the castle wall.
They had a blast doing this!
The older students had a more complicated game - which they loved!  Also involving throwing balls.  First though, they reviewed the feudal system and the rules of warfare.

The players were divided into 2 teams and the rules of the game were explained.  It was similar to dodgeball but with some medieval twists on it.  

Each team had a King who held the Globus Cruciger and thus he could throw with only one hand.  He was also invincible so this was not a disadvantage.
There were also knights who had shields to block the balls thrown at them.

There were monks (who could release prisoners) and serfs (who could attack the castle when "storm the castle" was called).
Even the bigger kids liked to throw as many balls over the wall as they could!

Roger did a great job trumpeting when it was time to move from station to station.

For those that follow the adventures of my little princess, yes, George attended with her!
A picture of some of the moms.  We don't get too many of these as we are usually behind the camera.  I'm so very thankful for a precious group of friends to do fun things like this!  Thankful that they are willing to put in the time and effort and energy that it requires to pull off.  Thankful for delightful friends to enjoy life with.
Group photo.  We are a big group this year and its hard to get a good one of all of us.  We forgot to take one this year of just the moms.  Ah well,  next year.

This little one just makes me smile.
Time for lunch.  What a spread we had too!  Lots of food to choose from and something for everyone from main dishes, sides, appetizers, bread, desserts and more!  YUM!
And of course we had to have lovely light luscious delectable cake!  And isn't the stand precious?!

Friends, food and fun - what could be better?
In the afternoon, everyone is free to explore from a number of options including games, crafts and free play area.  We had stilts, marbles, quoits and bowls which were available for anyone to use.
The craft area had several fun options too.  You could make a trebuchet from popsicles sticks and shoot marshmallows at a castle.

Or maybe at your mom.

You could also make a min bow and arrow.
 Or a stained glass window.
Or a knight.  Daniel spent a lot of time working on his knight.  Didn't it turn out great?!  He added extras like the shield and the decoration (dragon) on the suit of armor.  I loved seeing this!

You could do archery.
We have done this activity with several of our events and it is always a popular one.

One of the games you could play was called "Jingling" which is kind of like a reverse Blind Man's Bluff.  And amazingly, they didn't run into each other ... much.

There was also a trebuchet which you could shoot tennis balls to try to knock the Duchess off the cake!   (Not sure why I didn't take a picture so that you could see that.)  
We also had a free play area for the younger people with playdoh and a slide and more.  Some of the little people just had fun hanging out and playing with their friends.  I loved this picture of Eliana and Steve.

There were great places for photo ops!
Aren't these amazing?
Had to show these beautiful girls and the dresses that they MADE.  All the steps from selecting the pattern and fabric to sewing it all.  So proud of them both and aren't they beautiful?!

The end of a delightful day!  So much fun and so many sweet memories.  The day prior to this was dark and it poured all day long!  We were so happy to wake up to a sunny day - just perfect for our event.

My heart is always so full after this day.  Very thankful for so many things.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of our day!