Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Rad Dude

Chilly, you're rounding the bend toward 17 months and I thought an update on your little life was in order.

You have changed so much in the last few months. You eat everything in sight. Every time we pick you up from the nursery at church, the sweet volunteers shake their heads and proceed with a [lengthy] list of all the snacks you enjoyed while we were in the service. After polishing off what Mommy has packed for you, you apparently make the rounds to all your little buddies and have some of theirs too.

You're the baby of our little family, but you don't seem to realize this. You wholeheartedly believe you should be doing whatever your eight and nearly six-year-old siblings are doing. Last week as we enjoyed an unseasonably warm afternoon, you awoke from your nap to discover that Chloe, Sam, and Max were playing outside while you were, in fact, inside. You marched over to the open window, hoisted your little self up, took in the scene at the swingset, and then turned to me as if to say, "Oh no you didn't!"

You squawked at the window until your siblings heard you and came running inside for a greeting.

You are so loved by them.

You have a few new pastimes that keep you busy...

Your current favorite is to travel throughout the upstairs bedrooms, dragging all manner of pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals off the beds and down the hall. I watched you the other day and must say, I was quite impressed with your determination. After you drag each one down the hall, you proceed to throw it down to the bottom of the stairs. Then you race down feet first on your tummy and play in the pile.

You are super pleased with yourself, and I admire your ingenuity, if not your devotion to keeping our home neat.

You've got a sweet new ride, and you enjoyed your daily spins in it very much while the weather was warm. We're thinking of cleaning it up a bit and bringing it into the basement this winter because you miss it so.

We still call you Chilly - I think we always will - but you've got some spice too, buddy. Lately Daddy and I will watch you kicking a little ball around the kitchen or racing to keep up with one of your Bro's and say, "Wow, he's one rad dude." With your spunky determination, sweet little spirit, and wild mullet of blond curls, it's just the perfect description for you right now.

You're a good boy, Charlie Smith. We love you so.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buttermilk Falls

Last week the kids and I blew off school took an educational field trip with our besties to a local waterfall called Buttermilk Falls. The last week and a half we have enjoyed unbelievably beautiful and warm days in our little corner of the world. We have been loving every minute of it.

Mrs. Bozek was a kindergarten teacher, so she is always the best at corralling the hoodlums and giving the instructions. 

And... we're off (but not before a quick pic).

After a short descent the kids discovered nirvana... boulders just perfect for climbing on, jumping off, and crawling behind.

Two thumbs up, Mom. Totally.

This one cracks me up. These two used to squeeze into one chair for pictures, he telling jokes and she giggling hysterically. Now that she is eight and he'll be seven in two weeks, taking pictures together is really not that cool any more.

The waterfall!

I foolishly thought I might get a Christmas card-worthy shot of my four lovely children.

Foolishly would be the operative word there.

Ooooh! This one's a keeper.

After hanging out at the Falls we found a little wooden church up the hill and spread out blankets on the lawn and ate lunch. The kids raced around and my two girlfriends and I talked about how much homeschooling meant to us, how grateful we were for each others' friendship, how happy we all were that day.

And then... I woke up the next day and had a meltdown of epic proportion because as I had been traipsing about the Burgh enjoying the sun, a Mount Everest of dirty clothes had cropped up in my laundry room and everyone was crying because they couldn't find clean underwear.

One thing God is really teaching me lately is to try not to see a great day as a prideful accomplishment or a bad day as a total failure. That beautiful day bursting with sunshine and Fall foliage? It was a gift from Him - I was able to see with clear eyes the myriad of ways He has blessed me and provided for me. And the horrible day that followed, full of hard work, feelings of desperation, and the need to dole out one too many spankings? A gift from Him - I was brought to me knees, forced to slow down, and reminded of how very much I depend on Him every hour.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Field Trip Friday: Reilly's Pumpkin Patch

Last week we went on a field trip to Reilly's Pumpkin Patch with our homeschooling buddies.

We took a hay ride to the top of a big hill, stopping in the middle to hear a fun, silly story about Halloween.

Without question, the kids' favorite part of the morning was not choosing pumpkins or listening to Halloween stories about their favorite nursery rhyme characters. No, indeed. It was the giant slide of course!

This is my favorite: one person is having a blast, and one person is screaming in terror. Guess who's who!

Happy Fall, ya'll.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rain Rain Go Away

Here's my sad boy watching the rain fall. He was all set to go out and fly his kite.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Go Take a Hike

Last weekend Chloe earned her hiking badge with her American Heritage Girls scouting troop. One of my co-leaders owns some beautiful property about an hour north of where we live, so we all converged on her place in the afternoon for a bit of hiking and crafting. The girls had already spent one of their meetings learning about hiking safety, and they were ready to put their new knowledge to work when we arrived. We had worried that it might rain, but the clouds made way for sunshine around lunchtime and we were blessed with a lovely, chilly afternoon - perfect for a walk in the woods and marshmallows roasted over a bonfire.

The girls learned all kinds of cool stuff that little girls need to know, like always hiking with a buddy, what they need in their backpack to be prepared for an emergency, and what to do if they ever became separated from their group.

Here's what I learned:

The woods have a very particular smell in the Fall, a potpourri of musty leaves, wet dirt, and plants giving their encore before winter. You can't smell it anywhere else.

Kicking up piles of brightly colored leaves as you wind down a well-worn path never gets old.

The sounds of the woods are a symphony in their own right.

No matter how old you are, you should get your sneakers nice and muddy at least a few times every year.

Life gets busy and you forget how beautiful the world is... how the most simple things are often the most fun. There were so many things fighting for space on my calendar last Saturday afternoon, screaming their urgency at me. I silenced them and spent the hours in the woods with my little girl, and I am glad.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crustacean Fascination

This past Monday at our Classical Conversations Co-op the kids studied crayfish. It goes without saying that Max was in his glory. He took one look at those dead stinky things layed out on the table and announced that he finally had the pet he'd been dreaming of.

We're memorizing the classification of living things in science, and this week the kids learned the eight groups of invertebrates. They had the exciting privilege of getting up close and personal with these arthropods as part of the learning fun!

Our director stuck them into ziploc bags and lined them up by the door so our kids could bring them home if they wanted. Oh, hooray!

"George" went all over the house with Max, including my kitchen island where I was trying to prepare dinner. As a slight stench began to fill the air, I had to break it to Max that his beloved pet was about to take a really fun ride in the garbage truck.

BTW, the eight groups of invertebrates are sponges, stinging cell animals, flat worms, round worms, segmented worms, mollusks, sea stars, and arthropods. I am increasingly terrified as I discover how little I know. I either never learned these things in school, or I learned them and then promptly forgot them. Either way, I'm not sure who's enjoying this year more - me or the kids :-).