Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Child's Play

When our older kiddos were in grade school, I used to take them on all kinds of field trips.  You know, that is a real plus to homeschooling.  You choose the place, the day, the lunch, the time frame.  You choose if you go alone or with other families.  You see what you want, and then you all go home and nap.  It's really a sweet deal. 
One of our favorite places back then was the Denver Nature and Science Museum.  This place is huge. And despite the overbearing evolutionary junk, it was a nice place to spend the day.

 But as the boys got older, I started finding myself sandwiched between the ever-changing needs of adolescents and the fatigue of being pregnant and caring for newborns late into my thirties.  You know, teenagers up at night, wanting to eat and talk...Babies up early in the morning, wanting to eat and talk...So naturally, the field trips got put on the shelf.  Not intentionally, mind you, just sort of, out of necessity.  So I could breathe. And sleep. And manage my ever-growing family without loosing my mind.  Which didn't really happen.  But at least I tried.

Well, I am mid-forties now.  I most likely will not be having any more babies.  And I have graduated two young men from high school.  Kenny has taken over much of Sammy and Tommy's schooling. And I find myself itching for something more enjoyable than hauling older kids to speech and debate tournaments and co-ops and jobs all over the state, you know so they can work and make their own money...With my gas. 

I digress...

So, at the beginning of this school year, I started putting together a wish list of sorts.  For fun things to do. Outdoor walks, learning days, company tours. And the Denver Museum once again made it's way back onto that list.  Because it had been too long.  And...it was a free day.

"Wow, Mom, that dino-sword is WAY taller than me!', says a very excited two year-old.

Green girls at the Space Odyssey

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Pretty cool deep-sea divers

Lunch Time!  As we ate, we found ourselves talking about and drooling over the idea of BBQ ribs and such...Perhaps because our lunch consisted mainly of fruit and nuts!

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Digging for Fossils

The BEST water table I have ever seen.  I wanted to take it home with me!

Michael loved building these critters, until another little person wanted to 'share' the pieces.  Michael looked at the boy, dropped his toy, and walked off disgusted, muttering to himself.

At lunch, I kept seeing Sarah put her hand down toward the ground, ever-so-sneakily.  So eventually I took a peek under her chair and found these poor unwanted pecans lying on the floor. 

This water vortex really kept Sarah's attention.  She just kept saying, "Mom, we have got to get a family pass to this museum!"

Engineer in the making.

Michael didn't get the point of these over-sized Tinker Toys.  Then he walked over to a video demonstration, and came back, victoriously putting them together!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Comfort of Tradition

Traditions and familiarity are important.

That savory aroma that brings you back to the comfort of your Grandmother's kitchen.
The gentle hum of the neighbor's lawn mower on warm summer afternoons.
The children's story book you read over and over and over until the cover was hanging by a thread and the jam-covered pages almost smiled at you.
The same Christmas treats, baked every single year; even though you add in new recipes, you will never not make the tried and true.
That list of favorite hymns that brings you back to your childhood church, as you stood right in the middle of your quiet, gentle, towering parents, soaking up the richness of the human voice reaching out to God.
New school supplies and clothes.  And a lunchbox. Every year.
The changing of the seasons, cold to warm to hot to cool and back to cold again.  Just like clockwork.
Your Mother, always in the kitchen taking care of the family after you trudged home and fell on the couch after a long day of school.
The well-worn places in your Bible, calling you over and over to stop and read and be refreshed and filled by His thoughts.

These things are comforting.  They speak without a word.  They are the invaluable sights and sounds and smells and feelings that have gently shaped us, year after year. They are the traditions, the familiar traditions that seem to possess a priceless ability to calm us and keep us grounded.

Every fall we have a celebration in our home.  Because Mom adores this time of the year.  And now my family does too.  We decorate and cook and light candles and have our once-a-year fall feast.  We find comfort in this tradition with each other. Danny even made sure he was off work for it. 
Joey got a care package with chowder soup mix, candy corns, and apple cider mix. But boy, was he missed. First year without him.
Whether Thanksgiving turkeys or Autumn leaves, our children's little hands have graced craft projects like this one for almost 20 years.

My lovely daughters put most of this together before I even got a chance to.
We don't' have a tablecloth long enough, so we just use a small one for a splash of color.  

Like our new fall goblets?  Emma and I found them at our grocery store for 75c a piece. Maybe someday I'll have real crystal instead of the cartooned-woodland-creature theme, but I'm not holding my breath!
 Clam chowder, real apple cider, apples with caramel dip, and candy corns are the menu each Autumn.  I know Dr. Atkins would not approve, but it really is yummy.  
And besides, it's tradition.