Wednesday, December 24, 2008


We had a trip planned to Maryland for Thanksgiving, but my sister Laurel called with an idea, and we ended up spending Thanksgiving week in Ireland.  We stayed on in Maryland the next week for Jim to do some work on the East Coast, the kids to visit with Jim's parents, and me to have a little get away with my sister in Massachusetts.  Mom and Nick came the night before we left. They house sat and explored the desert while we were gone.  Mom stayed for a week after we returned. 
They played and played-not just the piano.  Quinn had fun with her grandpa Nick, I think she got a week's worth of grandpa time in the one night before we left.

We were very jet lagged when we arrived, and missed the first day completely.  But on Tuesday, we made it out to explore the town of Ennis, and Wednesday took us to Limerick to see King John's Castle.  We stayed in Bunratty, and rented cars to get us around.  Driving standard on the opposite side of the car and road on some very narrow roads was interesting, mostly for Jim, although I did give it a try a few times.

The Cliffs of Moher.  Well... the field around the Cliffs.

Love this picture of Quinn and Lindsey.  We had to buy extra warm hats when we got to the Cliffs-it was very cold and windy.

I love the way the plants grow in Ireland-everywhere.  Ferns and moss galore, it is so lovely.

An image from my favorite place that we visited-Killaloe.  A quaint little village where we met a family who took us to a cafe for lunch, gave us the historical walking tour, and told us about life in Ireland.  I was sold!  Did I mention her son attended a Waldorf School?  It was a magical place.
A church in Killaloe.

A toy store in Killaloe.  We had a productive shopping excursion.  They had all my favorite stuff!  And the kids liked it too....

A full rainbow(this was half of it).  My first.

A view from the top of Blarney Castle.  A two hour drive and well worth it.  Our friends from Killaloe told us this was a good one, and it was.  The grounds of the castle were botanically amazing.  It was fabulous in late fall, but I would love to go back in spring or summer to get another view.  The kiddos all kissed the stone, but I skipped it.

A Waldorf school in a magical forest.  That is how it seemed to me anyway.  We went to the school for their Advent Fair.  It was beautiful and wonderful, I was ready to move to Ireland!

Ireland was interesting..... so clean, simple, tidy, green, historical, easy, sparse, friendly...I think I fell in love.

After we returned to Maryland, I was off to the Berkshires in MA to visit with my sister.  Don't ask me what we did, drove around mostly, stopping whenever we felt like it, making no plan. We saw movies most nights, went to a used bookstore, drank alot of tea and laughed...alot.  We got our make up done and a massage at Kripaulu.  Just some of this and some of that.  But wow... was it great.
 It was the first time since I had children that we had time alone together.  It was energizing, inspiring, relaxing, nurturing.  After 3 days, I was ready to go back to my family feeling so wonderful, like my cup was full , and I had so much to give to them now.  In all the homeschooling days, I did not make much time for my own rejuvenation.  Now, I hope to make it a regular part of my year-with my sister, with friends, by myself.  I just couldn't believe how good I felt.  My family likes it when I feel good-Jim already signed me up for next year with my sister!     

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Sock Monkey

When we were homeschooling, I had many ideas for projects that I tried to get the kiddos interested in.  Often, they were not interested.  Now that they are schooling, we don't have alot of time for projects, and Quinn follows me around begging for me to help her with her many project ideas.  Her ideas are endless, and I keep thinking...where was this 6 monthes ago????
Anyway, her idea last weekend was for a sock monkey.  I was busy, and suggested many reasons why we should not embark on such a project right now, but she persisted, and solved all my many problems with the project, and so we did it.  She found an old pair of my wool socks, we looked up a pattern on the internet, we got out the sewing machine, found some wool stuffing, button eyes, and went to work.  I did the machine sewing, and she worked on the hand sewing. The monkey was just perfect, and we had a great time doing it.  
She has also recently got me to make dog treats, pumpkin tartlets, do some beading, play teatherball with her homemade teather set up in the house, and many other things.  It is interesting how much she is thinking up now that we have so little time to pursue her ideas.  
We are very busy now.  I told someone we used to homeschool, and they made some sort of comment about how much work that must have been.  I thought privately that it is not nearly as hard and hectic as schooling the kiddos.  We are all running now.  School, homework, Tae Kwon Do and keeping up with the house.  I hope we can find a balance between schooling and pursuing other interests and projects.  I know it is all important right now!         

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Haunted Harvest

We went to the Springs Preserve for their Haunted Hay ride.  Lefty was our guide.

The scary stories led to scary characters in the desert.

This guy tried to shoot us with a banana.

The kiddos didn't think he was very scary.

It was a fun ride...scary enough, but not too scary.

A radio station was giving out playing cards.  After dinner, we played a few games of crazy eights.  We had a great night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Camping at Zion

Another camping trip to Zion with the Life Learners.  A great year for camping.  The weather was good, and it was a great groups of kiddos and adults.  We all had a very good time.

We all enjoyed the are the boys warming their toes in the morning.

The water was very cold, but the kiddos didn't care.

Keegan really didn't care, he loves the water.

Well, it was a little cold...

We saw lots of wild life.  These deer kept coming into our camping area.  

Quinn and Elena(Quinn's friend from homeschool and now school) were very excited to be together.  We brought them their own tent for their "double" sleepover.  A scary ghost story by the campfire the second night send them both back to their parents tents to sleep.  Oh well.  
Zion was so beautiful, there were masses of wild grapevine all over.

They were invigorated by nature!

The girls had a great time together.

Quinn and Elena found a tarantula, and stood watch so the boys in the next campground would not destroy it.  They stayed with it till someone moved it to a safe place.
A great group this year, so easy and fun.  We hope to go for a few days longer next year.  It was a lot to set up for 2 days.

TKD Testing

Keegan got his green belt.

Quinn had to break 2 boards.

Quinn, doing a jump round kick in her one step.

Quinn has very high kicks.

Keegan doing his jump round kick.

That night, Quinn got her brown belt recommended, Keegan his green belt, Rachel her red belt decided, and Jim his brown belt decided.

The Renaissance Festival

Quinn fought a knight dressed in her renaissance dress.  She eventually lost the use of both her legs, but persevered.  She crawled around on her knees, still determined to win the battle.

Keegan loved this.

Quinn loved this...the belly dancing.

Captain Jack was here!  And he shared his pirates booty with the kiddos.

Quinn loves to shop, and carefully decided how to spend her money.  She ended up with a child's corset to go with her dress.

Quinn tries fencing.

Keegan is turned on to fencing, and ready to try lessons.

The royal court made an appearance.

Quinn danced and danced with the belly dancers.

And watched the show with Elena and Juliana.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pioneer Days

They finally learn to do laundry!

This was their favorite pioneer activity, and came back to wash clothes 2 times.

They made candles,

watched a weaver and chatted with a lady spinning alpaca wool into yarn.

The army boy let Keegan hold his rifle.

Then they tried to get him to enlist!  I thought they were joking, but it turns out they were serious.  They would allow Keegan to dress up and carry a gun at a smaller engagement.  He was very interested!

For all the times we have been to Spring Mountain Ranch, we had never seen the spring!

We all tried throwing an ax,

the kiddos panned for gold,

and then enjoyed root beer floats!  It was a fabulous day, just our speed.