Wednesday, May 27, 2015


This weekend we went camping again, where our friends reserved the entire loop of a campground.  It was so fun to be there with all the other homeschooling families!  This year Nathan and Luke had to be at the running club they are volunteering with at a local elementary school Friday afternoon, so they drove up separately.  Having 2 vans made it *so* much nicer.  Since we no longer have even 1 extra seat in the big van if we all go somewhere, there is really no way on earth we could have fit everything in.  Now we'll never be able to go back to just one vehicle, LOL.  Well--maybe in a few years.
We tried a slightly different tent configuration, with the 2 tents perpendicular to each other.  It was fine, but really, when you have 2 huge tents, there's no way to configure them where they don't take up a ton of room!
We had thought that this would be Nathan's last camping trip, but with him going to VT, then he possibly will be able to come next year too.  Nathan and Luke really liked driving up later--to a campsite that was already set up!
When we drove up, Bob saw a big dead log by the entrance to our loop.  He went back to it with a few of the boys (but not Nathan and Luke, since they weren't there yet), and Caleb and Daniel McC carried it back to our site.   We had brought a reciprocating saw, which we could plug in since our site has electricity, so Nathan cut the log into chunks and then split each chunk, using his wood-splitting skills he learned at WSS. We had plenty of firewood!
I spent a lot of time at the camp stove, since we eat the same prodigious amount of food camping that we do at home.  Maybe more, since the fresh air makes everyone hungry!  We are still borrowing the L's faithful campstove--just like camping in Colorado 18 years ago.  Ahh, the memories . . .

I wasn't anti-social, I guess, but I mainly just stayed at our campsite and let people come over to me to visit, which was really nice.  Caleb, Nathan, and Luke stuck around our site mostly, so it was really nice to just hang out with them.  I also finished the book I was reading, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  It is rare that a book lives up to its hype, but I really enjoyed this book.  Her writing was so descriptive.  It was also all in the present tense, which normally I don't care for, but in this case, it made it seem more dream-like or something.  A very basic plot is that a girl and a boy are locked into a magic competition of sorts, and the circus is where this competition plays out.  What was very unexpected for me was how much I identified with the main character, Celia, at the end.  She was just so very weary of holding everything together, which is how I have felt this whole year.  Not that I really am holding everything together, thankfully, but just keeping track of everyone's stuff, schedule, etc.  Anyhow, it was a great book for a relaxing weekend.
Verity did pretty well.  The first night was really cold (although not as cold as the first year we camped!), but she slept okay.  Every so often she would cry out, particularly if someone else had made noise (*cough* Micah, who needed to go potty twice during the night . . . ), but she always went back to sleep, so I didn't have to nurse her.  Three years ago, Drew was up all the time because it was so cold, and he bit me so very hard that it took weeks for me to recover.   That was my hugest fear, and I'm so thankful that didn't happen again.

This weekend was the last hurrah for the yellow bumbo, though.  I put a ton of duct tape on it so it would last, and it did (barely), but now we must say goodbye.  It has served well.  Thanks, Melinda!
The boys perfected using tortillas in the pie iron.  They were folding them like professionals!  This one has left-over taco meat and cheese from the potluck we had Saturday night.
Drew was a little stinker (a cute one, though).  He wandered more than any other child we have ever had, so he was always turning up in other campsites on the other side of the loop from us.  Micah mainly hung out with the bigger girls, of which there was a little pack running around together the whole time.  I guess next year Drew will go with them more?  He was sure a filthy dirty little boy by the end though.  He and Micah did play with all our little digging and construction toys a lot.  He wore that sweatshirt all the time, even on Sunday when it got quite warm.  He loved it!

When we left on Friday, no one had been sick since Wednesday (Grace), and we were all relived to have this behind us.  I was able to finish testing Anna and Grace Wednesday afternoon (Anna) and Thursday (Grace), so we were able to mail off the big package before we left on Friday (yay!).  But Friday night after we had all just gone to bed, Caleb threw up almost at the bathroom.  He never threw up again, but he didn't eat much Saturday.  Now tons of other families that were camping are sick, even ones we had nothing to do with.  But hey, feel free to blame us for any sickness you now have, or ever will, whether or not you were even anywhere near us.  It makes it so much better when you can blame someone, and we'll be the sacrificial scapegoats for single-handedly bringing the plague to everyone in Northern VA.  Other than that, it was a great weekend, and we are very sorry for anyone who is sick.  Hopefully it will pass quickly.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Limping to the Finish

Wow, May is almost over?  We're pretty much "done" for the school year, but there's no sense of "Whee!  Time to relax!" that there was when the kids were all younger.  I still have some grading to finish, and there's always prep for next year hanging over my head.  Jonathan and the girls have some math to finish over the summer, but that shouldn't be too bad.

We had our last Rivendell meeting on May 12, with our usual big ice cream party to celebrate.  I know I was so glad to be done!  With Verity's birth at the beginning of the school year, plus all her weight issues, Nathan's college stuff, Bob's job situation, and more, this has just been a stressful, tiring year.  It's too bad, though, because the anatomy class I taught was my favorite high school class to teach!  I liked the book we used (Valerie Scanlon's Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology), and the labs were fun too.  By the end, the boys were really seeing how the whole body works together, the various systems supporting each other.  Such a useful class!  It's back to AP biology next year, and I'm dreading it a bit, actually.  I need to rework a lot of things, including the labs, and I know it will take a ton more time and brain power each week to prepare.  One of these days, it will all be easy!  (Well, I can hope, LOL.)

Micah has ramped his temper tantrums back up these past few weeks as well, adding some extra stress to finishing.   One memorable one occurred on the morning that our friend from church was taking family pictures of us!  Mich was cold (and had to pee, as it turned out), and he had a huge screaming fit, frustrating me to no end.  He eventually settled down and she got some great pictures, but it really threw me off, so I totally forgot that I had wanted to get a picture of the kids lined up, for example.  As Luke pointed out, however, this *is* how life with Micah is.  I guess we'll never forget that, for sure.  And he had been doing so much better!

Nathan and Luke took 3 AP exams this year, with 2 of them being on the same day, last Thursday.  They got home from that marathon day at the local high school and rushed straight off to rugby practice.  They both woke up in the wee hours of the morning, vomiting and having lots of intestinal distress.  Maybe they picked a bug up from the school?  Who knows?

The unfortunate thing is that we were planning on driving to White Sulphur Springs that day for a retreat with our OCF Bible study.  We waited around until things seemed to be under control, so we left around 2:00.  We stopped at McDonalds when we were about 30 minutes away--and Drew threw up all over the floor as he took his first bite of cheeseburger.  Ack!  My lightning-fast reflexes miraculously prevented his clothes from getting too messed up, but still . . . no one was very hungry after that, LOL.  We got there, the kids ran around a bit, and I decided to give him and Micah a quick bath.  While I was starting the water, Micah threw up, but we did manage to get most of that in the trash can.  So that wasn't looking good.  We got through the next day, and it was really fun and refreshing.  But both Micah and Drew threw up again during the night on Saturday, which was weird.  I felt queasy, dealing with them, and at 6:00 AM I was down.  I just stayed in bed until I could finally eat a saltine cracker around noon.  I showered, and we somehow managed to get packed up and drive home, although we left Drew's beloved blue and white checked blanket there.

But we couldn't rest and recover because the next 3 days were standardized testing for our big co-op, and I'm in charge of that.  Plus, we had the minimum of qualified testers, so it wasn't like I just could not show up.  I was able to make it, without eating too much.  Caleb felt queasy the whole 3 days, but he never did throw up or anything. Faith got sick Tuesday morning.  Anna made it until Tuesday afternoon, and she threw up as soon as we got home.  Bob was feeling bad at that point too.  Grace started Tuesday night, and it definitely took her longer to bounce back.  Everyone else felt better after 8-12 hours, but she didn't really start feeling better until after lunch today.  That leaves Jonathan and Verity . . . we are praying this virus has run its course!

We've got things coming up:  Nathan's graduation party, a trip to TX, lots of trip back and forth to WSS for Camp Caleb and boys support staff, a trip to Ohio for grandma/grandpa camp, getting Nathan off to college.  During the school year I always think, "Oh, I'll do _______ in the summer!"  But in reality, it never seems to happen that I clean out the storage room, organize things, go through closets, etc., so each year, we fall farther and farther behind in household organization.  Well, at the very least, I'm not pregnant this summer.  Maybe that will help.  We'll see . . .

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Big Birthday Weekend!

Grace turned 8 on Friday, and we celebrated at Bible study!  She requested Air Force dessert and Andes Mint cookies, both of which were very well received.

Then on Saturday, after an afternoon of rugby, special visitors came--Bob's sister Rose and her 2 daughters Maddie and Amanda!  It was so fun for them to visit!  The main reason they came was to celebrate Bob's birthday on Saturday, which was a "milestone" one, for sure.
We ate Grace's (and Bob's!) birthday dinner of sausage roll, cabbage salad, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, and fruit.  They brought yummy chocolate cupcakes, which we devoured outside by a fire in the firepit.  We were thankful the weather was so nice all weekend!
Grace also opened her presents Saturday night.  She got a book, some "Frozen" socks, some modeling clay, some candy (including some chocolates from Rose and the girls!), a card game, and a kit to make and decorate a garden stone.
Verity was happy to see more people to love on her!
Sunday was another beautiful day!  Rose took the girls and Micah on an early morning walk around the neighborhood (where they saw a DEAD SQUIRREL!!  There was much excitement!).  I made pancakes while they were gone, and after eating people played Grace's new Apples to Apples Pictures game. This game is great for younger kids.  "It" reads a word, and then the other players pick one of their cards that has a picture they think best demonstrates the word on the original card.  "It" picks which card she thinks fits best, and the person who put that card in wins the round.  We like the original Apples to Apples, but often younger kids don't understand the words on the cards to pick one, so with just pictures, anyone can play!

They also played a rousing game of Wits and Wagers before we ate corn dogs for lunch.  Grace had requested those for lunch on her birthday, and I bought a box at Sams months ago--and then we both totally forgot about it.  So that was a fun lunch!  Then everyone went outside again.  The trampoline got a lot of use, as the girls were very anxious to show their cool older cousins every single trick they could think of, LOL.

We were all sad when it was time for them to drive back to PA, and we're hoping to be able to visit their house on the lake up in PA this summer.
Sunday afternoon Grace put together her stepping stone.  It's a butterfly, can you tell?  It's really pretty!  I was happy to find these kits.  I wanted to get another present for Grace, so I just stopped by Michaels on Friday on my way to another store.  These were on a display right in the front, 40% off!  I grabbed it, hopped in line, and was done.  My kind of shopping!

So we had a fun weekend of celebrating, with special company!  Now it's back to our regular routine--but only for 2 more weeks!  Woo-hoo!  Summer vacation is almost here!