Star Quilt…

I finished this quilt at the beginning of last month, just in time to take it to Ohio and give to my little cousin.   I’m so pleased with how it turned out.  The colours are even more vibrant in person.

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I started with the paisley print on the back and drew the colours out from there.

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I had an idea of what it would look like in my head but during the process I started doubting myself.  It happens with every time!  However, I think it turned out even better, especially since it was my first star block.

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I really love this quilt!

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I did a variety of machine quilting on this quilt which differs from my usual overall stippling.

I left some spaces without quilting to give it a puffier look and to give the quilt more texture.

On the white borders I did stippling but I added hearts into it.

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I think it’s time to advance my machine quilting and try some more difficult designs on future quilts.

I would love to get a long arm machine one day!  A girl can dream!

Bogs and Frogs…

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Last Saturday we had the pleasure of visiting a cranberry farm with our home school co-op.

Not only was it very interesting but it was beautiful!

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We watched as the cranberries were harvested by machine…

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and by hand.

 It was interesting how the bogs were each slightly lower as they went so that once one bog was harvested the water could be drained down into the next allowing that one to be harvested next.

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While on the tour the kids were given trivia questions to answer.  There’s never a lack of volunteers in a group of homeschoolers!

(I just love this picture of the little Professor in his sweater that Nanny knitted.  It’s now way to small for him but he loves it so much he can’t give it up!)

Throughout our whole visit Benson (the yellow lab) followed us from bog to bog demonstrating his frog hunting skills.  Apparently he’s so good at catching and eating them that he’s cleared the bogs of all frogs since he didn’t catch a single one while we were there!

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At the end we were given samples of freshly picked cranberries which the children bravely attempted to eat.  It was quickly followed by some crasins which were much more enjoyable and then followed by some cranberry baked treats and of course cranberry juice.

The baked treats were the favourites!

As it turns out, the farmer’s wife is from Ontario and she moved to the US to marry her husband years ago!

A very familiar story indeed!

Nanny

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For those of you who have not yet heard, Nanny (my grandmother) passed away last Friday.   It was quick but peaceful and now she’s in Heaven with our Lord.  I don’t say that lightly either, I know she is there and I will see her again one day.

I had a hard time deciding on whether or not to write a post about this.  I wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to share but every time I tried to write about something else, I just couldn’t.  It didn’t seem right.  So I’ll keep it simple and tell you a little about my beautiful Nanny…

Nanny was dignified.  She never went anywhere without having her hair fixed nicely and her make up on.  She was stylish and her outfits were well thought out.  She was independent and smart and had a really good, dry sense of humour.  She always made me laugh.  She didn’t put up with nonsense from strangers but she had all the patience in the world for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She was kind and thoughtful and never forgot a birthday.  She still sent me birthday cards every year with money in them, to this day.  She always wrote “buy yourself something nice” and underlined it with little curvy lines.  Nanny appreciated nice things.  She would always serve tea and biscuits or cheese and crackers whenever we visited and she would do it on fancy plates with beautiful napkins.  She would also send tea and biscuits and beautiful napkins for me with whomever was coming to visit us – every single time – and she would also send the children treats too.  Nanny was one of a kind!

I love her and I will miss her but I am comforted knowing where she is.  When we came across her bible, she had Revelations 21:4 underlined and it really spoke to me.  I know, without a doubt I will see Nanny again and even though I miss her now, there will come a day when we will be together once more.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Home Sweet Home…

We are home!  Actually we’ve been home for two days now but I’ve been so busy getting settled that I’m just getting a chance to write a post now.

This last trip was one of our busiest, non-stop vacations ever.  It was also a very emotional vacation too.

As you know, we started our vacation in Hershey PA, then we headed to Cincinnati OH and wrapped it up with an unexpected detour to Canada – 2 weeks has never felt so long.

Tonight I want to write about Hershey…specifically Chocolate World .

Chocolate World is located right next to Hershey Park and offers various attractions to see, all of them revolve around…you guessed it – Chocolate!

Most of the attractions cost money but prices for each are fairly reasonable and they offer packages that give little discounts.  All the attractions end with a taste of chocolate because after all what kind of world would Chocolate World be if you didn’t actually get to try the chocolate!

Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour is free – I think we can all agree that free is good!

It’s a little ride that explains how Hershey makes their chocolate and it’s super cute.  It has singing cows, a roasting oven you ride through and the scent of chocolate permeating the warm air, while a catchy tune plays in the background.

Yes, I’m singing it right now as I write this…

“It’s the milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…

Hershey’s Milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…”

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At the end of the ride as you exit they give you a fun size chocolate bar to eat.  If you go when it’s not busy like we did, they let you stay on the ride, but if your children are as cunning as mine they will politely refuse, claiming they don’t mind getting back in line.  They weren’t fooling anyone!

We also did the Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar.  That was surprisingly fun and really interesting, even kept the Monkey attention…most of the time.  All three children took it really seriously.

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First we were given hair nets and aprons because it’s a factory atmosphere.  Everyone has to wear them or you aren’t allowed to go in.  They had both adult and children’s size.

The children designed their chocolate bars by selecting various options like white, dark or milk chocolate and sprinkles, butter crisps, pretzels and many other fillings, on a computer screen.  Then we watched as the bars were created going down the assemble line.

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Then as the bars went through the cooler we went into a side room and created the covers for the tin box that the bars were going to be placed in.

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It was around this time the Monkey started to get restless – after all, there’s only so long chocolate needs to cool!  One of our tour guides was kind enough to distract him with her hard hat and that was all it took!

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The kids loved the tin box with their custom packaging.  They were very proud of themselves.

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We also took in the Hershey’s Great Chocolate Mystery in 4D movie which was also really entertaining.  They even personalized our experience by letting us text info to them so they could add it into the beginning of the movie.  The Professor, Princess and Monkey were completely caught off guard when Hershey Milk Chocolate (the character) singled them out and began talking to them.  Apparently I was the only one who knew how to text.  They were even more surprised when it turned into a conversation!  And of course, there was chocolate handed out at the end.

Chocolate World also offers chocolate tasting classes and trolley tours but we were pretty chocolated out by that point.  We just barely managed to drag ourselves back to the shuttle bus and spill out onto our stop.

It was the end of the Chocolate World for us!

90 Years…

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Today I had the honor of celebrating my Grandfather’s 90th birthday with him.  I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Grandpa these days now that we live so far apart, so it was extra special to be able to be with him for such a great milestone.

Even though today was his actual birthday we had already celebrated previously this weekend with all of our extended family congregating in Cincinnati Ohio – where my grandpa lives – to throw a big party for him.  It was wonderful to get together with everyone and spend the time.  It was more than just a birthday party, it was a much needed family reunion.

Sadly, everyone else left at the end of the weekend.  The campground became quieter and quieter while we waved to each car load of loved ones as they drove off.  The Professor and the Princess would tell us how much they missed each person a few minutes after the car was out of site.  They especially enjoyed hanging out with their cousins and even though they were sad to say good bye, they were glad we were staying a couple more days.

As a child I never really appreciated my grandpa like I do now.  Back then I didn’t seem to have time to listen to all he had to say, but now I cherish every word he speaks.  He is full of wisdom and experience and stories of the past.  He is kind and thoughtful and he has a wonderful sense of humour.  He is also extremely talented when it comes to playing the piano.  I have fond memories of listening to him play for us and tonight it was like stepping back in time as I listened to him play once again.

I would love to be able to do it all again next year!

 

The Sweetest Place on Earth…

It has been 2 weeks since I posted last.  We’ve been busy!

We arrived in Hershey PA on Saturday and stayed at the Hershey Park Camping Resort.   We had planned to get a good nights sleep since we were all so exhausted from the long drive but instead found ourselves in possession of “preview passes” to Hershey Park.  We couldn’t possibly pass up an opportunity to have two and a half extra hours of park time.

Staying at a Hershey Resort offered a lot of the same benefits as staying at a Disney Resort – free transportation to the park, a guest only extra park hour and various discounts.

At the bus stop there was a sign that assigned us a chocolate name according to our height and every ride at Hershey Park had a similar sign in front of it indicating which group of “chocolates” are permitted to ride.

The Monkey was a Miniatures…

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the Princess was a Reese…

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and the Professor was a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.HP 3

There were a lot of rides all three could go on, but the Professor found himself pretty bored on most of those.  Still he was willing to take his little brother on them so that he could enjoy himself too.  I was so proud of how kind and thoughtful he was!

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The spinning cups made for a good lesson in cooperation, something I made sure to point out to my little ones.  The Princess and the Professor realized that if they wanted to spin fast, they had to agree on the direction to turn the wheel – not an easy thing when both are so strong willed.  If that wasn’t enough, Daddy went on to explain a little physics to them.

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The preview hours flew by fast but we weren’t too disappointed since we knew we’d be back first thing in the morning.

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We made it back the next morning bright and early and we all had rides picked out that we couldn’t wait to get on.

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For Daddy it was Skyrush…

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for the Princess it was the Sooper Dooper Looper, which was her first upside down roller coaster.   It was a first for the Professor also.  I think it was harder for me to let them do it, than it was for them to go on.  They were so excited but I was very apprehensive.  Sometimes it’s hard to let go and let my little ones grow up but I’m glad I did because they both loved it.  In fact, the Professor decided to take it a step further and tackle an upside down roller coaster that went forwards and then backwards.  He didn’t like that one as much, but I’m glad he was brave enough to try it.

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The Princess cried and cried as she watched her brother walk down the queue.  She was so upset he was tall enough to ride but she wasn’t.  It just wasn’t fair!

She wasn’t the only one upset about not being able to ride the more intense rides…

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The Monkey was pretty disappointed everyone else got to ride the bigger rides while he had to wait in his stroller!  Again, it just wasn’t fair!

There’s always next year!

8 Years…

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The Little Professor turned 8 years old this past weekend and I still have trouble believing it it.

He’s growing up so fast and sometimes I feel if I blink too long he’ll be a grown man standing before me instead of my sweet, gentle little boy.

The Professor has always had a maturity and wisdom about him that exceeds his years.  He is curious about everything and is constantly striving to gain knowledge in a broad range of subjects – from human behavior, to deep sea marine life and even things like…how exactly does the power source Tony Stark created keep him alive.  His ability to comprehend the answers always amazes me.

At the same time my little guy has a very kind and gentleness about him.  He is always watching out for his little brother and sister.  He is quick to help other people and sometimes he doesn’t understand why everyone can’t just be nice to each other.

I don’t ever want him to lose that sweetness about him.  The world has enough tough and hard people in it…it needs people like my little Professor to balance it out.

Someone as wonderful as my little guy deserved an exceptional birthday and since he wanted to go camping we decided to take him somewhere really fun!

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We had been eyeing a campground in NH that has a big pirate ship water slide for a while, so the Professor invited his friend and we made our way to the campground.  It was great!  The pool was awesome and they had make your own sundaes and a huge playground.  The kids had a blast!

Sadly, I hurt my leg on the Saturday and couldn’t do much swimming for the rest of the trip but I enjoyed watching the kids play in the pool while relaxing and reading some magazines.

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The little Monkey even kept me company at times!  He was my mini-me!

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When we returned home, the Professor quietly approached me and hugged me for a bit and said “Thanks mum, that was the best birthday ever!”

I’m not sure how we’ll top that next year!

Carnivorous Creations…

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A while back we bought the kids the Carnivorous Creations.

It was agreed upon by all that it looked really cool – how could plants that eat bugs be anything but?

So finally today we managed to get some time to try it out and this was our experience…

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The kit came with little dehydrated soil discs that the kids placed into the pot.

I thought this was a great idea because it was tidy and easy…two things I’m all for.

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Next came the water…4 cups to hydrate the soil.  The kids worked together well taking turns pouring the water into the pot.  I’m not sure what it is about pouring and measuring but my children love any chance they get to do it.

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The directions say that the discs dissolve quickly but we found it took a little extra patience then we were expecting.  We waited and waited and eventually….

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it slowly started to break down.  With a little jabbing, mashing and stirring it all came together nicely and the kids had a great time playing with the dirt.

Then we opened up the seeds package and this is what we got.

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This too.

At this point, I started to question whether or not we’re actually going to see any plants.  The kids tried to plant the first little batch but we couldn’t be sure they actually made it into the soil or if they just stuck to their hands or fell to the floor.  The seeds were so tiny in their small little hands.  It was at this point I decided to look at the instructions again…

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and I realized this was not going to be as exciting as I had hoped.  At three months they will only be slightly bigger than a penny and 6 months not much bigger, and that’s if the seeds actually made it in.  I think it’s going to take a year before it looks anything like the picture on the box.

Oh, and remember the picture of the seeds in the little baggy?  That one was separate from the tiny seeds and after adding some water to the baggy it needs to go into the fridge to germinate for 6 weeks before it can be planted in the pot.

We continued on and the kids seemed to really enjoy adding the decorative features the most.

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The box says it’s for ages 4+ but I just don’t see it.  I think it’s probably better for older children who can understand that it’s definitely not instant gratification.  They will need to invest months before they will see any results.

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My advice would be…if it’s about planting, and watching things grow I’d stick with beans or catnip.  If it’s about insect eating plants I suggest you look around for an older plant to buy because it’s going to take a long while before these plants eat anything.

Back to School…

We have made a lot of major changes to our home school this year.

The first change we made was with our school curriculum, as I mentioned a couple posts back.  The Little Professor’s curriculum arrived last Monday and we managed to get it all set up and ready to go.  We started back to school full-time last Wednesday.  It may seem early to most, but with all our travelling and field trips throughout the school year we need to start early to get all the mandatory school days in.  Besides, the kids were so excited to get back to school!

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One of the other big changes we made this year was assigning a designated space to act as a full-time classroom.  This was not an easy feat in our house because we’ve already completely outgrown our space as a family, never mind as a homeschooling family.  In order to make this happen, big sacrifices had to be made – specifically, all my sweet, little children had to agree to share a bedroom.  I wasn’t sure how they would react to this but I was pleasantly surprised when they all shouted for joy at the idea.  The fact that they were so agreeable made it easier but the actual logistics of the plan is a little more complicated and we’re still working them out each day.

In the meantime, the class room is set up and it is working out well.  I have been slowly fixing it up since the weekend and today we took a little trip to Ikea to purchase a few remaining things to make the classroom complete.

Since we left early for Ikea (so that it didn’t take up our whole day) we arrived before store hours, so we decided to stop in and have breakfast in their cafe first.  I have to say, that place is amazing!  Our family of 5 had breakfast for $12…where else can you purchase breakfast for that price and their coffee is so good!

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The kids sat in a special little area designated just for them and watched Cars 2 while they ate breakfast.

After we ate we quickly made our purchases and returned home to assemble our furniture and start our day.

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The Monkey enjoyed colouring on the empty boxes while I built the desk and rearranged the room.  Sure enough, the moment I became absorbed with my task the littlest quickly took advantage of it and left his mark on the new furniture.

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This is normal, everyday stuff in our house.  I gave birth to a multitude of Pen Pirates!

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I have to say, I’m so pleased with our new classroom but not anywhere near as pleased as the Professor and Princess!  They have both expressed their gratitude for a special place to learn.  The Professor and I had a big, one on one chat today and he thinks having a room dedicated to school will help him concentrate more and I completely agree.

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We named our school and hung some maps, posters and charts.

Not only do the kids have their individual desks but…

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we also have this big desk that will do double duty as my desk and the lab/art table.

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All we need now are a few more art supplies and for our science equipment to arrive!

I can’t begin to express how happy and excited I am for this school year.  The curriculum has far above passed any expectations I had and the new room has changed the whole atmosphere of our schooling.

This is going to be our best year yet, I just know it!