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Showing posts with label children's activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children's activities. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Blogging on the Run

It's already that time of the year again.  That super busy time near the end of the school year when the children have their performances, games, recitals, field trips, and shows.  Even though we're not involved in quite as many sports and extra-curricular activities as a lot of other families we know, with five school-aged children, it still means a lot of time away from home.  And lots of time driving.  These final six weeks or so before summer vacation begins are extremely full, and most days on the calendar have no space left to write anything.  

So far we've already had a strings recital:

Our daughter and a friend played and sang "How Far I'll Go" from Moana.  She is our little diva and dreams of being the next Taylor Swift.

And we watched our older daughter attend her first prom this past weekend:

That was bittersweet because I just can't believe she's this old already.  And my husband and I realized it's been three decades since we attended prom---actually, it's been 33 years since we both went to our first proms.  But we didn't go together.  How is it possible that so much time has elapsed already?  Like a blink of an eye.

And this is what we still have left to attend/celebrate over the next five weeks:
  1. Our final child's First Holy Communion
  2. Four birthdays
  3. A band concert
  4. Two showings of a musical
  5. Two art shows
  6. Two choral performances
  7. Four field trips that I know of now
  8. A class yoga party
  9. Two instrumental performances at nursing homes
  10.  EXAMS
These are just the final performances, mind you.  It doesn't include the practices and rehearsals leading up to the days.  Even though I wasn't thrilled with her decision at the time, I'm rather relieved our teen daughter dropped out of track for the season or we'd be having serious overlaps on the schedule.  And our middle school son isn't old enough to compete at the meets for his track team, so that simplifies that.
So why am I telling you all of this?  It's my excuse in advance for not blogging regularly.  I might get little snippets of time to post a bit over the next month or so, but it probably will be sporadic at best.

And if you're like me and most of my friends right now, you probably don't have a lot of free time to sit around on the Internet reading blogs anyway.  But I'll be thinking of you, and we'll meet up again when we can.

Until then, Happy Spring & God Bless.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fast Forward Through Halloween

Life has been so crazy busy here that Halloween was just a blip on the radar.  There was no time over the weekend to prepare, so yesterday after school, some of us were searching the clearance racks at Target for last minute Halloween decorations.  We rushed home to try on the costumes and wolf down some prepackaged, processed food (horror!), and get out the door before we missed trick-or-treat hours altogether.  I almost forgot to take pictures, and we never had time to carve jack-o-lanterns, and our 7 year old even painted her own face.  Hubby took the youngest three to the nearest town to go door to door because there's nowhere to go up here on our mountain unless you visit the Amish.  And they don't celebrate Halloween.  As of a week ago, only one of our kiddos was even willing to go trick-or-treating because they've been so spooked by this whole scary clown fiasco.  The one who wasn't afraid put together his own makeshift costume and declared himself to be an evil clown terminator.  In any case, at the last minute, three of them did go out for about an hour, and our youngest only refused to stop at a few houses this year: those she deemed too creepy to go near.

Meanwhile, back at home, I agreed to let our teenagers rent a classic chiller from Google Play, and the three of us sat down with a bag of orthodontia-friendly candy (ie. No caramel, gummies, or anything sticky) and watched Alien.  This is actually the first suspense thriller I've let them see.  I've been fairly censorial about the images allowed to enter this house, but they are now the age I was when I saw the stream of 80s horror movies, and I thought Alien was a safe one to start with.  After all, I don't need my older children to be too afraid to retrieve items from the basement, go out to the barn at night, or stay home alone to babysit their younger siblings.  As it turns out, our son didn't find it all that scary, but our daughter has decided that the horror genre is not for her.  I guess there will be no Nightmare on Elm Street, Amityville Horror, or Carrie in her future.  I am relieved to say that everyone did sleep soundly, and there were no night terrors at our farmhouse last night.  Maybe just a bit too much sugar.

Now that the two hours of Halloween have passed, we look forward to Thanksgiving, which I'm hoping is a little slower paced.  A couple of our children will actually be running a 5K that morning while I'm happily cooking away in my nice, warm kitchen.  I'll bet I can find some great deals on turkey and Pilgrim decor now that the stores have displayed all their Christmas merchandise.  I think I'll check that out later today with the littles.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Take a Walk on the Sweet Side: My First Cakewalk

Until this week, my only knowledge of a cakewalk came from one of the Junie B. Jones books that I used to read over and over again to our youngest daughter.  In the story, Junie B. skipped around with other children until the music stopped and a number was called.  The numbered square she was standing on just happened to be the winner, and Junie B. proceeded to choose a cake from the table.  There was one rectangular cake wrapped in shiny aluminum foil, and that was the one she insisted on taking home.  It turned out to be a fruit cake.  A very dense, heavy fruit cake that her parents tried to dissuade her from picking, but she insisted.  It turns out that she didn't like fruit cake after all, but it was so sturdy that she used it as a booster seat at her kitchen table, so all ended well.  

Our children's elementary/middle school had a Back-to-School Picnic last evening and one of the activities was a cakewalk.  Another dynamic mom and I co-chaired it because it sounded like so much fun.  She had cakewalk experience, unlike me, so she knew what to expect.  She and I both did a little bit of baking (the cupcakes, mini-cherry cheesecakes, and brownies above were mine,) but she was bold enough to ask for donations from a couple of the local supermarkets.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until we were almost finished, but I think we started out with 21 different containers of cakes/cupcakes/cookies/brownies and some boxes of Skittles for those with nut allergies.  There were no fruit cakes though.  I don't think most of the children there had ever done a cakewalk before, so we initially had to practically beg kids to start playing.

But once children saw that they could walk away from our table with free cakes, they started lining up to play.  We duck taped numbers on 12 circular stones, and placed a child on each one.  Once the music started, they hopped, skipped, ran, and jumped in a circle from one stone to the next.  One toddler marched to her own beat and repeatedly wandered off the path, but she always ended up on a number once the music stopped.

My friend's husband drafted children to help him call out the winning numbers, and each winner came to the table to eye up the loot.  The younger ones were reluctant to choose anything without a parent's input, but the pre-teens jumped right in there with no hesitation.  Interestingly enough, they chose all the store-baked products first...and the Skittles.  Go figure.  After about 70 minutes, we ran out of cakes, so we called it a night and finally got to go mingle with the other 350 school family members who were there.  I would call it a success, and it was definitely a lot of fun.

I have to admit though, that I had my eye on this cookie dough cheesecake that our grown son baked from scratch and donated.  It was very tempting to keep it at home in my refrigerator, but I didn't think that would be very charitable.  So instead, I persuaded my youngest two to play the cakewalk over and over again.  
 And I kept the cheesecake under the table in a cooler with ice. 
Because it was almost 90 degrees out, and I didn't want it to go bad, you know.
And my 10-year old son actually landed on the winning number during the first half hour of the cake walk.
So he really did win fair and square.  Honest.
...and he just so happened to choose that cookie dough cheesecake over the Skittles and the numerous store-bought cakes on the table.

So guess what I'm having after breakfast this morning?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tons of Fun for Everyone in Erie (Part 2)

Continuing with our Erie vacation, many of the fun family activities can be found on Presque Isle.  We spent a lot of time there, and there was plenty we never got to do because we ran out of time.  We had wanted to go on one of the pontoon boat tours of a lagoon, but it was too windy that day, so the tours were canceled.  We also never got around to hiking on the numerous trails that wind their way through wooded areas.  That's definitely on the list of things to do next time.

We did manage to swim at one of the many beaches on a calm, sunny day.  Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea, and the sand quickly filled up with umbrellas, towels, and lots of people.

Many of the days we were there, the waves were too high and the undertow too strong that swimming was unsafe, and the beaches were closed.  I'm sure this contributed to the crowds showing up on a Sunday to swamp the beach for the afternoon.  It was also Roar on the Shore, so there were bikers everywhere.  Even so, our younger children had a great time in the clear waters of Lake Erie.

Two hours of 90 degrees in the sand and sun were enough for us grownups and the teenagers though.  Much to our younger children's dismay, we packed up and headed elsewhere for the remainder of the day.  

Sunday evenings are Family Night at Presque Isle Downs & Casino.  You can't take the kiddos into the casino, but they are welcome out back at the race tracks.  Admission is free, and there's food and beverages, and lots of horses to admire and bet on.  

We're not a gambling kind of family, so we just watched the races and tried to guess which horse would win each race.

And it's good we don't gamble because each of us would have lost every single race, except for the kids' MeeMaw who predicted the winner twice.

It was fun for awhile, but most of my children lost interest after the first two races.  Only our horse-loving daughter wanted to stay.  But if you like horses, this would be a good place to come with your family to have dinner and watch the races.

Probably one of my most favorite places we visited was the Presque Isle lighthouse.  This was an actual working lighthouse for many years, and families lived in the attached building.

It is open to the public and you can have a tour guide share its history and walk you up the winding staircase to the very top of the lighthouse.  Once you're up there, the view is spectacular.  It's narrow though, and the railing at your back is kind of low.  On the windy day that we were there, it whipped your hair around and sometimes made you feel like you could be blown right off the ledge.

But like I said, the views of Lake Erie are amazing from up there.

Another great place for views of Presque Isle is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

Admission is free, and there are two floors of local nature/ecological/science-related exhibits.

Some of it is a little odd in a Ripley's Believe It or Not kind of way.

But most of it gives a decent introduction to the wildlife and habitats of the area.  They currently feature information on fishing in Lake Erie.

You can either take the stairs or the elevator to the top of the tower, and you get a great view of the roller coasters and water slides at nearby Waldameer Park.  This is both an amusement park and a water park.  This is another place we didn't go to on this trip.  There's also a Splash Lagoon in Erie that our kids love.  

On our last night in Erie, we went to a Seawolves baseball game.  For some of our children, this was their first time to watch baseball.  In fact, it was only the second game I've ever been to.

It was "Buck Night" so sodas, popcorn, hotdogs, and the cheaper beer (yuck!) were only a dollar.  We took advantage of that and ate dinner there before the game started.  And we all donned Seawolves baseball caps to get in the spirit of things.

This is probably the only time you will catch my husband and me in baseball caps.  They're just not our thing, and I spent the whole evening adjusting mine because it felt so uncomfortable.  I don't know how so many people go through the whole day with these on their heads.  It drove me crazy.

We cheered and we clapped and we ate popcorn and cotton candy.

And we thanked their grandparents for procuring the tickets.

But in the end, the Seawolves lost the game, I am sorry to say.

Those were the activities we packed into about five days in Erie, PA.  We had such a good time that some of us weren't ready to come home.  But it's good we did because a few days later our family had an event that none of us would want to miss.

More about that news later in the week... 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sometimes We Do Have Fun Off the Farm

Not all of our time in the summer is spent at the farmhouse making butter and cakes or hiking and hanging with the farm animals.  We do occasionally go elsewhere and have fun, and that's what today's post is about.  It also just occurred to me that this is the third post in a month with pictures of feet in them.  I do love to go barefoot in the summer.

The children and I spent a day this past week at Greenwood Furnace State Park, PA.

It is beautiful here with a great fishing area.

Our 15 year old son has loved fishing since he was three and got a Spiderman fishing rod.

It's easy to just sit back here and relax and wait for a long as you bring some insect repellant.

Unfortunately, the bugs were biting, but the fish were not.

No matter.  The kids had fun burying each other in the sand.

And they built sand villages.

An added perk to this park (depending on who you are, I suppose) is that there is absolutely no cellphone service, which meant the teenagers had to play with their younger siblings. 

It was one of the hottest days of the summer and very humid, but the water here stays freezing cold all the time.

It was definitely the coolest place to be on a 90 degree day.

There's a beautiful hiking trail around the water which you can see off in the distance.  Most of us forgot our sneakers though, so the swimming counted as our exercise for the day.  Well, I mostly watched from my lounge chair in the sand with some flavored water and a good book.

And we all enjoyed a couple gigantic scoops of ice cream as well.  It melted so fast though that we couldn't keep up, and some of us were a sticky mess.

We also did the obligatory trip to an amusement park a couple of weeks ago when our diocese had a special Catholic Day at Del Grosso's with discounted tickets.  Amusement parks and shopping malls are probably my husband's and my least favorite places to go, but we do it for the kids once in awhile.  See if you can spot the Preppy Mountain Farmers in each photo.

This park is actually quite family-friendly and the day wasn't too bad.

Especially since Hubby went on most of the rides with our youngest, and I just took the pictures and held everyone's stuff.

Unfortunately, some of these rides were not good for a man with a bad back.  He was not smiling by the end of this ride.

All in all, it was a fun day for most of us, and we don't have to do it again for another year.  Oh, and this time no one got a migraine or threw up, so that's definitely an improvement.

Our next outings will be more to the likings of the middle-aged couple that we are: a variety of museums.  Stay tuned...