Monday, October 24, 2011

Family Date Night - October Style!

We went out on a family date tonight. It's been a long time since we've gone out to dinner just the 5 of us and it was so nice to just be together. Every other week or so, we order pizza from a locally own shop, Proccolinos. It is authentic New York style pizza and everything is so fresh - it's amazing! With the weather cooling off, we decided that instead of ordering take-out pizza, we'd go down to Proccolinos and eat out on the big deck.

It was so nice. The weather was in the 70's, the sky was clear and the Italian music was fabulous. We seemed to have the whole porch to ourselves, so we were a little crazier than usual.

Our pizza was fantastic. The pizza maker came out to see us and ask how things were, and then the owner came out and chatted with us for a while. Then is was time to head over to the pumpkin patch to pick up pumpkins.

Joshua needs to do a biography book report using a pumpkin, and so he was in search for an Einstein-looking pumpkin. Megan needs to bring a small pumpkin into class and so we picked out one for her, too. Then we ended up with two large pumpkins for the house.

After loading up the wagon with our choices, we took some time to be silly!

It was fun! Then it was time to get everyone in bed for school in the morning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Progress Reports!

The kids brought home progress reports from school last week. Joshua has all As and 1B - the B is in Science. I asked him why he thought his science grade was different than his other grades and he tells me that he might not be writing neat enough on his observation papers. I told him that it sounds like he knows what the problem is, so we'll see what things look like on the actual report card. Keith and I are both so proud of Joshua - those are great grades for starting a new school year at a new school with new friends and very new expectations. This will be our first year of the FCAT and the test preparation is a huge part of the classroom curriculum. I have a parent-teacher conference with his teacher next week.

Daniel brought home all Ss. He loves school. His teacher has a calendar that she sends home every day for parent's initials. If the face on the calendar is smiling, then Daniel had a good day, if it is a sad-face, then it means there was a discipline issue. So far, all happy faces! Shocking really, since he's such a little free-spirit!

Megan brought home 1 A (Science) 2 Bs (Math and Social Studies) and 2 Cs. Her Cs are in Reading and Language Arts. We can actually see the progression of her grades getting better as she's becoming more adjusted to her new glasses. A few weeks ago, the teacher decided to start printing out the slides from some of the classroom activities, and putting the slides on Megan's desk so that Megan won't have to look up at the screen - focus - read the words - look down at her paper - focus - write the words. Quite a bit was getting lost in translation. I was able to meet with Megan's teacher for a full hour on Monday to talk about some ways that I can build up her reading/writing skills. We are taking every opportunity we have to read/write around here. I've also pulled out some of the homeschooling materials that we've used in the past, and we are playing lots of games to help reinforce some basic skills.

I've inserted all of her spelling words into and allow her to "play" that on the computer when she's done with her homework.

For all of the kids, the school focuses on answering questions both orally and written with complete sentences. So if the question is, "what did Paul eat for dinner last night?" the answer only gets half credit if the kids write or say, "pizza". The correct way to answer is, "Paul ate pizza for dinner last night." or "Last night, Paul ate pizza for dinner."

Megan uses her fingers for math still, and her teacher is trying to emphasize memorization of basic math facts. The second graders have these Math Minute sheets that they do - completing as many basic (1+2, 3+7, etc) math sums as possible in one minute. She's score in the lower third of her class with this. So tonight we made a math mobile to hang in her room and we'll update it every few days with more math facts as she continues to learn.
Monday there was no school for FCE. No school = no homework! There was zero humidity and the weather forcast has been calling for storms to come in tonight, so we knew this was the right time to get outside! The kids rode bikes with Daddy, while I went for a run. Then we all sat around the fire pit grilling hot dogs and making smores.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Adventurers Pine Lake Retreat

It's that time of year again when we head out to Pine Lake Retreat for food, fun and fellowship with our Adventurers group. I was feeling a bit under the weather on Thursday, but after some rest and lots of fluids, I perked up enough to head out with Keith and the kids on Friday afternoon. We brought two vehicles because of all of our gear, so I had an easy way of getting back home if I needed to.

First stop was the Deininger's house, so that we could caravan with them to the camp. We went to the Cracker Barrel for dinner and met up with the rest of our camping crew: Allen and Braelyn, all five Grodacks, all 4 Deiningers, Jennifer and Blake (minus any super yummy treats!); and then Allen's parents, beautiful wife and adorable twins also joined us for dinner.

The ladies rocked and discussed the upcoming weekend festivities...

while the boys played checkers.

Joshua and Luke clowning around before dinner. We had a great meal - who doesn't like BFD (breakfast for dinner)? Then we set off again to caravan to the camp. It was dark by now, and I don't have a Sunpass, so I had to actually stop to pay tolls while everyone else just zipped along. Then I'd have to merge back into fast lane and punch it to catch up with everyone else. And every time, Megan would say, "are we lost?".

After some confusion at the retreat sight, we finally found our cabin and got all 7 vehicles parked, only to go inside for more chaos about which kid is sleeping where. Fortunately, we had mapped this all out a couple of weeks ago at Canadian Thanksgiving, so we had a great starting point for stowing gear and settling down the kids.

We didn't make it in time for camp worship. Lisa had brought along her Bible Story books and read to us for worship in the cabin.

Sleepy Megan looking ready for bed during the story. We all slept pretty good and were awake early enough to chit chat before breakfast was served.

Keith slept out in a tent, and the weather was just gorgeous for that. If I wasn't such a chicken about bugs, I would have joined him.

Megan put her shoes on and went out for Daddy's wake-up call. He was awake and had brewed coffee already.

Our house number.

My little posse dressed and ready for Sabbath morning breakfast and worship.

After breakfast there was some down-time before worship was ready to begin, so the kids were all free to run around and do whatever. Megan had just learned how to ride her bike without training wheels the day before so she was stoked to have some opportunities to get out her wheels and feel the wind in her hair.

Our house, with the cars, bikes and tent. We had quite the set-up.
We gathered again back in the meeting area for family worship.

Me and my sweet little Eager Beaver. I'm co-leading the Eager Beaver group this year.

For family worship, we discussed the Armor of God and then created our own family shield.

Even though Joshua doesn't look pleased, we were all rather impressed with the final product. I think maybe it was too bright for him.

The Builders (Joshua's group) were responsible for serving lunch.
Joshua and Adam teamed up to serve side by side.

After lunch, there was plenty of time to rest. Daddy set up his awesome hammock that he got on a trip to Ecuador when he was active duty.

A quick group kid picture before Luke had to leave. We were only missing the 2 littlest Grodacks.

As Luke was leaving the camp, Megan yelled out, "hey Luke, you wanna ring my bell one more time?". So sweet!

The parts of our group that signed up to go canoeing left to make that drive, which left me, Megan and Daniel behind.

My and the little ones went on an Alphabet walk. I gave Megan a notebook with A-Z written out and she and Daniel had to observe things on the walk and write them down...
C is for cow.

It was then time for dinner, which the Eager Beavers and Little Lambs were helping to serve haystacks.

There seemed to be quite a few families for dinner and so midway through serving, Lisa and Keith took over to allow me and some of the little kids a chance to eat.

Sabbath sunset made for a spectacular sky!

Worship that night was about acts of kindness. Groups took turns acting out stories depicting kindness and the congregation had to guess which story it was. Megan, Braelyn and Blake acted out the story of the inn-keeper giving Mary and Joseph a place to stay. Notice Blake holding Megan's hand. So cute!

Megan and Daddy. I just love that smile!

Moving on to a hayride around the grounds. So fun!

After the hayride, it was time to go jump in the bouncy house! In order to keep our family together, we kept Joshua back to ride the hayride with us which then meant he was to bounce with the little kids. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best idea, since it was tough for the bigger kids to really enjoy themselves when they were trying to be mindful of the younger kids.

Keith helped some spot some of the younger kids while they were making their way up the rope.

She promptly came down the slide and handed me her glasses - she was afraid of breaking them.

Then it was time to make smores by the fire. Yum!

That night, after the kids were put down for bed, the adults stayed up and played some card games. It was so fun! I'm going to need to work on my Dutch Blitz skillz.

The following morning (today) I had to get up early again to help serve breakfast with the Sunbeams. Megan was tired as were many of the other Sunbeams, because not too many of them showed up.

Megan was on cereal duty helping to hand out cereal for all the hungry campers.

After a victory lap around the camp sight, it was time to pack it up and head home. We needed to be back to pick up the dog so Keith's parents could go out of town.

After one last walk through of the house, it looks like all belongings have been packed.

We had two of these bunk rooms. One room had the 2 oldest boys (Adam and Joshua) and their brothers (Luke and Daniel). The other bunk room had Blake, Megan, Jennifer and Me, and we snuggled Braelyn in there, too. There were also to rooms with full size beds - we put Allen in one room and the Grodack family in the other room.

Our kitchen and card game playing area.

The house had a total of 4 pull out couches in the 2 connecting living rooms. Lisa and Rob slept on one of the couches.

Overall, the accommodations worked out really well. It was quite fun. But sadly, it was time to pack it up.
Heading off the property, Megan, Daniel and I made a prayer stop (and then I promptly cleaned my front windshield).

We had a great time and look forward to coming back again next year.