Monday, September 30, 2013

A trip to the Denver Zoo

To finish off our 'mini-vacation', we took the kids on a day trip to the Denver Zoo.

Our crew at the zoo!
We met a friend from Ohio - yeah, weird, right? - as well as a family we've made friends with here in Centennial.  Not sure who the kids were more excited to see.  Either way, we enjoyed the fellowship of all present.

The day was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!!!  Not sure we could have planned better weather if we'd tried.

The sun was shining, but it wasn't hot.  NO humidity.  NO bugs.  Just pleasant blue skies, warm breezes.  PERFECT!

The girls requested we see peacocks, zebras, and giraffes.

Such beautiful colors.  We saw
MANY peacocks.
This giraffe kept chasing all the others.  Funny.

The older kids ALWAYS want to see the cheetahs and big cats.

A couple cheetahs.  Such amazing speed.  But, not this day.
A big tiger pacing back and forth.

An adorable leopard
baby and it's mama.

Sorta looks like the bear who visited our kitchen. :-)

Wouldn't want to be on the
receiving end of those quills.

Bears, porcupines, monkeys, birds of all kinds,  sea lions, penguins, reptiles, and fish of great variety also encapsulated the various critters we were blessed to see that day.

Nana nana boo boo!  See his tongue sticking out?

Amazingly long legs.

Waving to the crowd.

Yep, a 2 hump camel.

the penguins retiring to their habitat
after being fed fish.  Cute.

Turtles are just. plain. fun!

A unicorn fish of some kind.

A pretty fish. Good enough
reason to take a picture, right?

Amazed by the unique fish.  Our littles - all in a row.
Smiles on faces, chattering discussions, wonderful discoveries.  It was all part of our tremendous day.
Entering the 'reptile' house.  
Alligator or crocodile?
The Komodo Dragon.  We
learned lots of new tidbits
about this particular creature.

HUGE tortoise!

Here's a few more pictures of our day.  Enjoy!

Guess the snack wasn't enough.  He found a WHOLE sandwich in the
garbage and sat and ate it while we watched. Too funny.

Squirrel enjoying a little snack.

Beautiful parrots.  Now Trinity is saving up her money to buy one.  Um..... NO!

These two were quite the show.
Sitting in a waterfall.

The girls liked this birds
pink throat. Imagine that?

This eagle had a great time showing off and strutting his stuff.  Fun photo ops.

These two flamingos were sparring or something.

See the little white baby flamingo?  Isn't he cute?

A slightly older 'baby' flamingo.

Cute little girls getting tired - glad we brought the wagon.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Agenda

A friend shared a blog post with me today entitled, "A Messy, Grateful, Beautiful Mama".

I read the entry and it rang so true.  

The gist of this post was how life, being a mom, and everyday happenings can be 'messy'.  How we tend to highlight the happy, the fun, the tidy when we present things to others.  Yet, we need to embrace the messy times just as much, if not more, else we could find ourselves getting bitter, irritated, angry.  Instead, we need to be grateful for the not-so-neat-and-tidy and point our kiddos to Jesus in all times.

As I read the post, I was reminded of a conversation Techno-genius and I had had just days before.

This school year has been rougher than many in the past.  I've been struggling with my teaching of the littles.  Imagine that?  Me?  Struggling?  Ha.  Seems a huge chunk of my blog posts have been about just that:  my 'issues', shortcomings, and faults.  Guess this blog thing has become my counseling of sorts.  (Maybe another post for another time.)

Anyway, back to my original thoughts.  As Techno and I discussed these obstacles, I realized most of them revolve around the fact that a) I'm a rather controlling person (don't anyone choke here) and b) I was allowing my agenda to dictate my reactions during lesson time. 

I'd come to our school room with an unwritten agenda in my head.  Since I was the one going over the  lessons the night before, I thought I had the wisdom to determine what the girls would whiz through and what might be a bit harder, take longer.

When it came time to teach and learn, what ACTUALLY transpired was often quite the opposite.  The concepts I feared they might wrestle with, that might cause some faltering were easy as pie.  However,  tasks I thought we'd whip right through and be done with in a jiffy - took.  a.  long.  time!

It was at those times, on those concepts that I'd -- YES THE TEACHER, THE MOM -- would scramble, stagger, s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e.  

MY AGENDA was off kilter.  I was NOT in CONTROL!  GASP!!!

My attitude followed suit.  

I'd get flustered, which would frustrate the girls, which would irritate me, which would...... you get the picture.  I have to admit... we had moments of tears and yelling.  Yeah, I know, not the most conducive atmosphere for learning.  Hence, the many wearying days of beating myself up, heartfelt talks with Techno, and lots of prayer.

Discussing this with Techno, we both agreed I needed to be more 'FLEXIBLE'.  Not exactly easy for my Type A, overbearing, slightly controlling nature.  [I'm sure Techno is laughing - loudly - at my 'slightly' comment.]

Comical --  after reading the 'messy mama' post, I also read a post about being flexible in your homeschooling.  Gee.... think someone's trying to teach me SOMETHING?  ;-)

Some simple to implement ideas we came up with to help me achieve this 'flexibility' goal included:  Leaving my agenda at the door (or at least realizing that it won't happen the way I plan ALL the time) -- in spite of itself, having a plan isn't ALL bad; stepping away from the concept when it becomes apparent it's more difficult than I could have anticipated - doing another subject before returning; taking a short break to grab a snack, use the restroom, get a drink when we are butting heads; simply smiling and hugging the child who's struggling and letting them know I too am struggling and leaving that concept for the day.  That's one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling - we can ALWAYS return to a concept later, the next day, even the next week if need be.

I'm not saying this is easy for me to achieve.  I WANT to accomplish all our lessons for any given day ON that day.  I'm funny that way.  Just how I'm wired.  Get it done, get it done now!  That tends to be my motto, my way of thinking, my A-G-E-N-D-A!  There's that word again.

I'm thankful for my friend who sent me such an encouraging post.  Being a mom, in my case a homeschooling mom, is M-E-S-S-Y beyond belief.  {I mean that both figuratively AND literally.}  

It's good to be reminded that messy is normal, it's good, it needs to be embraced.  

My AGENDA is not always the best thing for any given moment.  I need to let it go.  Let life happen, messes and all.  Enveloping them with a smile.  Yeah, that one is hard for me.  Messes do cause me stress, both figurative and literal sorts.  This is a tough lesson for me.  One that will probably take a little time to master -- sorta like some of those concepts I thought would be so easy for our girls............ that weren't.  Hmmmm.......... coincidence?

Yeah, I don't think so either.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Camping Fun

This weekend we went on a camping adventure.  We've wanted to do this for over a month.

Our camp site.
Apollos found it comfy

One of the kids favorites aspects - a creek in our 'backyard'.

After many cancellations and schedule changes..... we were able to head up into the mountains for a little get-away.

Our pop-up camper overlooking beautiful blue skies.  We were the only campers the first night.
One other site was filled the second night.  The third night brought one more group to the campground.
This truly was a 'get-away' given that there were - in essence - no other people around.

We knew the overnight temps might get a bit on the chilly side.  Chilly was an understatement. We put on our winter hats and multiple layers of coats for roasting s'mores as well as for sleeping.  Poor Apollos' teeth were literally chattering Friday morning.  As we stepped outside the camper we were greeted with this................... 

Frost on the chairs - oatmeal was a good hot breakfast plan.

yep, that's ice on our chairs and table cloth.  In addition Apollos' water was frozen.

At one point I feared his tongue would stick to the  ice block in his bowl - visions of 'A Christmas Story' and the little boy getting his tongue stuck to a pole - danced through my head

The entire table was covered in frost/ice.

Still, the weekend was loaded with fun.

"Buddy time" was instituted by the littles.

Charity and her 'buddy', Bethany playing by the creek.
This constituted one-on-one playing time between the older/younger sibling pairs we've developed over the years.  Sword fighting, piggy back rides, playing in the stream, and shooting airsoft guns were among the many activities chosen.

Selah with her 'buddy' Jacob shooting airsoft guns.
This along with sword fighting was her favorite buddy time activity.

Trinity convinced her 'buddy', Elijah to give her lots of piggy back rides.

In addition to 'Buddy Time' was LOTS of all sibling games and fun.  Hide and seek, sword fighting, climbing rocks, and picking rose hip berries were but a few of the fun events engaged in by all the kiddos.

Guess it's good we have SO MANY swords.

Whenever we couldn't find 'frick and frack' we knew to
check the creek and rocks.

Once again -- on the rocks, IN the creek.
They didn't seem to mind the frigid cold water.

Catching grass hoppers {and making unique habitats for said hoppy friends}, traversing the creek, even cutting fire wood all made for fond memories.

Selah LOVED her grasshoppers.
Not so sure the feeling was mutual.

The 'man-child' at work cutting wood.

Case in point.  Grasshoppers in a water bottle;
hung by a bungie cord; on the back of the camper.  Ha.

A trip to Saratoga - a good 1/2 hour from our campsite - to visit the hot springs, get homemade ice cream from Lollipops, and window shop encapsulated Friday afternoon.

Lollipops ice cream parlor - like taking a step back in time.

The ice cream was well worth the trip.

You scream, I scream, we all scream for...... ICE CREAM!!!

Saturday was filled with lots of creek playing, rock climbing, dirt digging, and mud pie making, along with a 'roadtrip' to the welcome center and a drive up to see the Ryan Park Fire Tower.

Gotta love piggy back rides AND rock climbing in one.

The views alone made the ever-so-rocky-feel-your-spine-rattle-hope-we-don't-destroy-the-oil-pan drive up the mountain worth it.

Looking down from the fire tower.  Breathtaking!

I'm pretty sure dirt.....

......equates fun!

One can't camp without a campfire and s'mores.  Each night we made these tasty treats.  Now a family tradition anytime we camp  or have a fire.  Even Aunt Biff joined us Sat night for the sticky-chocolaty-crunchy goodness.

One of our many campfires.  It was so cold at night, the heat from the fire did little to warm us.

Roasting marshmallows. 

Some like them golden.....

....Others like them.... on fire?

Getting big -- Selah now roasts her own marshmallow.

Another one likes them 'crispy' to say the least.

No matter how they are roasted....

once combined w/chocolate
and grahams..... they are yummo!

.....And apparently funny too!

Sunday was leisurely as Techno made pancakes for breakfast; the kids played in their PJ's all morning; and we enjoyed our wonderful mountain and stream views.
Our little warrior princesses.

'Cooking' with the rose hip berries.
Searching for more unsuspecting

Sneaking away for some quiet reading before the
littles insisted on their 'buddy time'.
Who wouldn't want to sit on a cold rock and read for hours?
Of course, with the views we had.....
I too spent some quiet time with Techno sitting on rocks,
reading our Bibles and chatting near the stream.

Convincing her sister of something.



After her first shot.... she was determined
to re-load that gun herself.  She did too!

.... Fire!

It's hard work hunting for insects.  Wears a girl out.
Our creak.
The sun peaking through the trees.
The morning sky as Techno made pancakes and I sat in my mesh chair enjoying the sunshine on my face
and the sound of laughter in my ears.
So peaceful!
Unfortunately, as lunch approached, so did the clouds.

Storms can hit quickly in the mountains.

Hail and rain chased us all into the pop-up to finish preparing and eating our lunch.  Once finished we began the task of packing up the camper and heading home -- in. the. rather. cold. rain.

Even though the stormy sky brought dropping temperatures and freezing fingers; we finished packing up, popping down, and headed out with warm hearts full of wonderful memories.

Another view from the fire tower -- this overlooks toward Saratoga where we had our ice cream.