Our Vacation

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Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

Welcome back everyone! We are trying to adjust back to Life after basically being on a siesta for the last 3 weeks. I am not writing too much this time, for I mainly want to post some pictures of our vacation, but please at least scroll down to the end to a sneak into next post’s theme! In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!

The first week was a stay at home week with Daddy and the last few days of Chanukah. Not too much was done for Daddy was getting some much needed rest. Unfortunately Daddy couldn’t light with us most of the week, but the last few days he was home and it was nice to all be together. It was nice to have our regular menorahs out of storage this year. Mr. #2 decided he was going to make his own out of wood and a drill. He primed and even painted it all by himself. Mr. #3 was encouraged and did the same.

The last two weeks were spent visiting Saba and Savta, and aunts, uncles and cousins on Vancouver Island. The nice thing about living in a city with a HUB for airlines is that it is KIMG1393so much easier to get to the Island. One plane to Seattle and then your choice of how to get across the ferry (and airplane to do a short skip literally doubles the cost of the plane ticket, so ferry it is.) We landed before lunch and drove up the amazing almost coastal region to Canada.

I told the boys that even though we did not drive up that specific part of the world too often, it is the same general area that we did drive through when I was growing up and I felt so at home. I know that I wrote about it last year when Mr. Little and I went to that area

Up the western coast of Vancouver Island
Up the western coast of Vancouver Island

for a wedding, but I guess it is just that homey feeling that is making me write more. It was so beautiful to see all those amazingly tall trees. They are not quite as tall as the Redwood trees in Southern California, nor as wide as the Redwoods in northern California where you can drive through living trees in your vehicle and go shopping at a store in the trunk of a living tree, but these were still tall Рprobably at least 200 feet tall.

Vancouver Island is a very interesting place. At the bottom tip you have more of a tropical weather with some palm trees. Winters are on the colder side, but above freezing and with rain instead of snow. However, just driving not too far up the island you run into snow. We told Mr. Little that we would bring him to snow. He is still disappointed that we

The boys with Saba. Victoria, Vancouver Island
The boys with Saba. Victoria, Vancouver Island

don’t have 4 feet of snow piled up on our lawn and driveway for he misses making tunnels and forts. I keep telling him he can move back to snow when he gets older.

Most of the days was just recuperating from such a busy year. It was not just busy for Daddy, it was very different and busy for all of us. On the tannis (fast day), just Daddy and I went up the western side of the island. We had to stop before it got too windy. Twirly roads and fasting just don’t mix. We did make one really nice day trip with everyone heading towards the middle of the island up the other side. All I can say was that it was just amazingly beautiful. The fairly wet climate, trees, farms, water, just everything was so beautiful. Yes, we did get to snow, but the good snow was on the side of the highway and there was no place to really stop. On the way back, after crossing the

Victoria, Vancouver Island
Victoria, Vancouver Island

border back in the the US, we drove towards Mt. Baker and stopped at a visitor’s center to let boys out to get their fill of snow. ūüôā

There has been a lot of questions and suspense about the fairly new online Judaic Day School, so y’all might want to stay tuned for next time (which will, IY”H, be fairly soon) for our review of Melamed Academy.

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Little Qualicum Hills, Vancouver Island

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Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

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Miscellaneous, Mt. Baker and Trip Home

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Nachamu, Nachamu – Comfort

KIMG0964***I’m a week late in posting this – it was ready before Tisha B’Av, but I was having computer issues with inserting the pictures and then I was about to upload the pictures and come to find out it erased most of my blog. Guess it was not meant to be. Here is try 2!***

Time flies when your having fun, or just too busy to sit down and write. ūüėČ Between the 100 degree heat, adventures in Big Bend National Park, cooling down at the Macdonald Observatory to view the Moon, Saturn, as well as Jupiter and Venus, back to the 100 degree heat, staying cool inside, doing some cleaning and (finally) some organizing, and finding nice places to go walking in nature, I have felt constantly busy.

It has been a long time since we started our adventure to our new place with moving four¬†times in about 4 months, unpacking an entire house in the few weeks before Pesach,KIMG0893 trying to finish up schooling, or what was called schooling for this year, and trying to figure out why things are just not settling down. It’s been about 3 months since Pesach finished, I thought we would be more than settled into a routine and start to feel “at home.” After all, when there are no boxes left in the house, it starts to “look” like it might be home, even if it does not feel like home. There really is nothing from stopping us from at least acting like we are at home. What we think should happen is often times different that what really happens. Reality was that I felt I have been treading water for the last 10 months, starting from the few weeks before we moved. I have been forgetting about appointments the last month, among other things, and we really have not been doing much schooling, so what has been going on?

No schedule. Oh, we have tried various schedules at different times over the months, and we can seem to stick with it for the most part, until the next change in our live (ie KIMG0813move) and then we go through a phase of what feels like chaos for we are not really doing school but we are busy doing needed things. Every month or two that is what has happened. After Pesach, when we finally were able to breath for a few minutes and realize that “this is it,” I tried to do schooling for a month or so to finish up the year, but I never could really get into a routine and always felt I was just treading water, never going anywhere. Yes, the boys went camping one week with Grandpa, we all went with Grandpa a few weeks later and last week I had one with the yearly-taking-of one-boy-out-with-Grandpa now. (Yes, I think Grandpa is happy we moved down here!) But still, I should be able to keep a schedule!

Then it dawned on me. What I am feeling is the lack of grounding. We are in a new place with new friends and Daddy has a new job with new hours, and there is nothing that is¬†familiar for us (me) to hang on to when things change. Before, when our schedule would change, Daddy’s hours were fairly constant, and if his hours were crazy for a while, we had our daily school routine that was constant. There was always something to fall back on. Here, it’s been almost 10 months of all newness. However,¬†over the last couple of weeks I think I finally figured it out.

It is summer and we can do our summer schedule, and really should do our summer schedule. Which is…basically nothing. We daven, do our chitas and are supposed to do our mishnayos and that is about it. It may not seem like a schedule, but we schedule in all2015-06-29_17-47-18 the nothingness, which when you schedule it in, it really is a schedule. It is something that we know, something that we do every summer, it is our grounding. We might be in a new city, a new house, have new friends and need to figure out Daddy’s new work schedule, but we have our familiar summer schedule. It has been such a relief and has felt like a huge load has been taken off my shoulders. I have been able to do some organizing and even gotten most of the way to organizing our new year. We have our new homeschool cabinet – the wet bar area that has been refitted¬†with a bookcase (should not be surprising. ūüėČ ¬†) I have decided on what books we will be reading this year and have purchased most of them. I have completed a first draft of the secular learning schedule (I do not feel quite comfortable with it but it is a really good start and I’ll mull it over for a few days.) I am starting to feel like I am standing on my feet on solid ground again.

Mr. Little has turned 6 and has lost his first tooth! He is so big that he planned for himself a birthday party and invited all his friends over. The only issue is that he did this all by himself without my knowledge! Baruch Hashem he did let me know on his plans the day before his birthday and so when I got phone calls from the children themselves asking if they were invited over for his birthday party, I was mentally prepared and told them that we were just having cake and they were welcome to join us in half an hour. ūüôā

We just came from a very low time in the Jewish year, Tisha B’Av, the time when we 2015-06-29_17-46-47mourn our loss, not only of the Bais Hamikdash, but of the loss of our closeness to our Creator, our King, our Father. The good part is that once we are low, the only way to go is up. After all our moves and all the changes and challenges, I am finally feeling that our home is on the up as well. We have hit bottom. The elevator only goes up from here.

We just had Shabbos Nachamu, which is a special Shabbos for us personally, not just the comforting Shabbos after Tisha B’Av. (Okay, okay, DH and I got married Erev Shabbos Nachamu. ūüôā ¬†) This year we also had dear friends surprise us and came over to spend it with us. It was so nice to visit with familiar faces. A beautiful family with a girl, and boys who were aged in between all our boys. It was a blast and also a comfort. How befitting. Nothing is coincidence. ūüėÄ I feel refreshed and excited about our new year. I feel there are¬†a lot of wonderful things in store for us this year. Wishing “y’all” all the best in your preparations for the coming school year!

My Quiet, Lazy Week

20140618_144608Summer is about here and it feels good! My oldest is having his turn for a vacation with Grandpa right now and it is awfully quiet around here. This was supposed to be the last week of school, but since one boy would still officially have school next week, I decided it was a good time to take the week off. We will finish up school next week. (Ah, the joys of homeschooling and having the flexibility of just taking off!) I have to admit, this week I have been quiet lazy. As in not really doing much lazy. I took the time to clean and organize the house just a little bit. I am getting caught up in the kitchen, I have taken several bags and boxes out to the van to give away, one boy did a very good start in cleaning the garage (it is part of one of his merit badges for Scouts,) and we spent most of the day today cleaning the boys’ room.

Actually, the boys did all the work! I give them full credit and they deserve it. They sure surprised me today. As part of my book removal this week, I bumped into a book that I bought at the library book sale several years ago called, ‘What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says “Clean Your Room!” ‘ It is a good book for kids and tells them exactly what to do when and how to organize any bedroom no matter how messy it is. The first thing the boys said when I opened the book to read to them is, “Boy, that room [in the book] is messier than ours!” Which was a good thing for then they did not feel so bad and I think it gave them chizuk (encouragement.) They spent at least 4 hours – two in the morning and two after lunch – cleaning their room all by themselves. I think they enjoyed going back to the book to read it and figure out what to do next; after all, it was not Mommy telling them. ūüėČ It is not perfect, and we forgot to mop the floor, but it sure is acceptable and it looks “nice.” Even the beautiful boy who has trouble cleaning did an amazing job! He was the one who cleaned the garage as well the other day. I did not have to say much, he just went and did it. Obviously it needs more than the hour or so of work he spent on it, but it sure is a wonderful start. I wonder if it is the lack of his older brother around that is helping him this week or perhaps, just perhaps, he might be growing up. Maybe a little bit? Maybe? I won’t hold my breath too much at the moment, but it is good to dream. ūüėČ The trick is, can they keep their room clean tomorrow?

Mr. Big comes home on Friday, Bli Nedre, and I am sure looking forward to his return. Aside from realizing how much of a help he really is to me, I miss talking to him. I have spent the week sending boys outside and taking the quiet to just let my mind go and think. I have been thinking about decluttering/organizing (though not getting too far, but started,) thinking about how the school year has gone this year and how I want to change things for the next year and trying to think about the summer (well, got started but that is about it.) I do want to do some work over the summer, I find that some sort of schedule works well for us. We have not been doing Rambam for a little while for they are staying where their father is and he has been busy with other learning at the moment. Gum Ze L’Tova; this too is for the best – I have replaced that with Dik Duk (Lashon HaTorah series,) something that I have tried to do for a couple of years but was never able to figure out how to fit it into the schedule.

I have some thoughts on how to improve for next year. I know that I have been trying to do too much with my oldest for Ambleside Online. It is just that everything looked so good that I tried to cram it all in. Unfortunately, it did not work out. So, I will have to thin out the workload for next year just a little bit. That is not too bad for that is the idea anyways; they put a lot into each year  to give the parents a nice selection to choose from.

For the summer, I was thinking of finding something for each one of the boys to do that is a little different than what we usually do. For one boy, he would like to write books (but hates to write,) so I have been thinking of The Creative Writer. I am wondering if I can have him spend the summer writing a book and then at the end of the summer we can print it off on Lulu.com. That should definitely make himself proud of himself.

It is almost 10:30 pm but my little one is still up and about and just cannot sleep. Even so, it is still awfully quiet around here. Did I mention the I cannot wait for my oldest to come back home? Just 2 more days! This is the third year now that Grandpa has taken one boy with him on a vacation. It does not seem to matter which boy is gone, the house is quiet without him. It is even more quiet this time for said boy is very talkative with his Mommy and Daddy (Baruch Hashem!!!!) and that is missing along with the bickering with his younger brothers. I am treasuring the quiet but am looking forward to his return.

I had some nice long walks with my DH this week, and that really helped make the week nice and serene. Hainge time to talk alone is something we like to do, but the past many months we have not had that pleasure and it sure has made a big impact over the last week. We have been able to talk about the boys and other needed stuff. It just puts a productive end to the day.

I’m off to bed now. Have a good night!

We’re All Back!

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Firstly, I just want to start off by mentioning a correction to the previous post. Room613.net is also geared towards teenagers, it was just my impression that it was not (not sure how I came to that impression.) That said, we are still continuing on with our Judaics for the coming year that we have mapped out.¬†Secondly, when you start tea time, expect to continue the tradition. ūüôā Cucumbers, watermelon and small bite sized pieces of brownies are all good, along with tea (or hot lemon water in our case.)¬†ūüôā We have not been able to do it the last two weeks, but today boys were complaining, “We did not have tea time today!”

The last two weeks have been almost entirely away from home. We went to the same cabin on the 350+ acres that we went to last year. Other than the 90+ degree weather with no A/C, it was pretty good, but I do not think we will be going there next year20130719_142349. (And the best thing to do on a really hot Tisha B’Av with no A/C is to drive in the car that has AC all the way back home for an hour to drop off camp stuff!) If nothing else, I found out today, after I had to take my van into the shop to get fixed, that the porcupines that live by the cabin not only eat away at the balcony and the support beams underneath it, they like to eat away at wires under cars… The mechanic asked if I keep my car in the garage, no, outside. In the back? No, in the front. Apparently, rodents like to chew on wires under vehicles, but not usually when the vehicle is kept outside, in the front, on the driveway. I asked about porcupines; we not only heard them on the porch, but actually saw one underneath eating away at the support beams. Yes, porcupines + vehicles in fields = lots of damage and money to fix the damage. He could not give me even a rough estimate when he called for he was not finished taking everything apart to see the entire damage. He will be putting some cover over my wires to help prevent this from happening again. Since we only have one vehicle, I am carless for a while.¬†The bonus to all of this is that we get to walk to the store or any other place we need to go and that means good exercise for all of us! There is a silver lining in everything. ūüėČ

The first Shabbos at the cabin was rather quiet Рjust one little boy to entertain. Sunday morning we all got up to drive 4 hours to fetch the really missed 20130718_114244brothers from camp. It was good to have everyone back home. I really missed them. I think the lone brother missed them the most. It is not easy to want to play with someone and only Mommy is around and Mommy sometimes cannot play. Boy, it sure is good to have brothers!

Aside from that, the train, Corning Museum of Glass, blueberry picking¬†and horseback riding were some of the main activities with horseback riding coming in tops for everyone (and blueberry picking a close second)! The youngest was too small to ride a regular horse so he got to have a pony ride around the farm. He then was lucky enough to be able to brush down and wash the pony. Both the pony and the little boy really enjoyed it. Oh, and I cannot forget about the birthday party #2 – afterall, it is not everyday that Grandpa comes down to visit! He was one lucky boy – a visit with Saba one day, and Grandpa the next, two birthday parties (and presents to match from each grandfather), and not to mention that this weekend there will, IY”H, be a THIRD party (for the same boy) for he was insistent that his friend comes over for a party, and since neither of the previous parties were at home, I promised him we will have one with his friend. Baruch Hashem my boys are very happy with simple things – a simple cake and a card and a small present is all that is needed to make someone happy, oh, and the occasional friend.

The Corning Museum of Glass was very interesting to go see. We have not been there before. The first section with glass art was not my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed going into the history section. They had the history of glass making, from the early times until the present, with all sorts of interesting facts and artifacts. We even got to see some glass making demonstrations such as the hot glass show and the flameworking.

Well, we got to pick up our sefarim yesterday! 3 sets of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (English and Hebrew.) I spent several hours on Monday trying to clean out a small book case that we had, figuring it had 3 shelves and each set would fit on 2. I would just need to get one more book20130717_161519 case. I was almost correct. Yes, each set fits on 2 shelves, however, the bottom shelf is too short to put any books on. Never fear, I have ideas! In the meantime, the living room is a mess. Boys have taken all the books out of the boxes and have been labeling all of their 93 books. Wow. I did not realize how many books we really were getting until just now. I was just of thinking it as 31*3 and those in themselves are not that big, but to do the actual math problem, wow, multiplication is powerful! We were good and even started our learning today! One video from Rabbi Gordon from Chabad.org was listened too.

I cannot forget that we finally brought the organ inside! It was not as hard as I thought it would be. We used our Radio wagon, put some plywood on top, and used two 2×4’s and slid them under the organ with the other end of the boards on the wagon to make a ramp. We then pushed the organ up the ramp. We all held on while one boy very, VERY carefully and slowly pulled the wagon all away around from the garage to the front door. The tricky part came when we had to transfer the organ from the wagon up the 2 steps into the house. With some creative thinking and cooperation, we got it into the house. Since it is mine, only I was allowed to clean it all up. Boys wanted to help but I refused. I told them to vacuum the carpet. ūüėČ Everyone anxiously awaited the moment when they could touch and then play the new instrument. I have not played the organ in almost 17 years – it is amazing how even though I play the piano a little here and there, my organ playing is terrible! It was hard reading all those staves again! I had to go way, way back to the really early days and the very easy music to get back in the swing of reading everything again. “Mommy, how can your feet play all the right notes and you are not even looking?” I smiled and proudly told my son, “I started on the organ!” That was one thing I was pleasantly surprised about; my feet still knew where to go after all these years. They were even more surprised to find out that their Dad used to play the organ as well.

I have also spent the last two days finding the books I need for my oldest. With Ambleside Online, almost everything is non-consumable, so since I have books from my oldest, the younger children have their books as well. Finally, I put all the books in the Amazon shopping card, as well as two printer inks, and 20130723_160843pressed the order button. Among the books ordered were organ books (it is not easy to find beginning organ books now!). All four boys are so excited and want me to give them organ lessons. I told them I do not have time to teach them both the piano AND the organ. 4 for the organ it is. Though they are not happy that I am not teaching them yet. I appeased them when they saw I was ordering music books first. Unfortunately, unlike the electronic piano that I have, you cannot put headphones into the organ! At least there is the volume control, it helps. A little. ūüėČ

Anyways, I am saying sweet dreams to everyone and I am off to bed to dream about the fact that I am now officially also an organ teacher. ūüôā

My Vacation

20130707_081408I have been so excited for this week to come! It is one week in the entire year that I have for me; the older boys are off at camp and I get this week to myself! And then on Shabbos it hit me. My almost 4 year old will be home with just me. Me and no brothers to keep him busy. Just me. He has been so looking forward to Mommy time. Don’t get me wrong, that is a very nice thing except that I realized that Mommy time is going to take up his entire waking hours. You see, with 3 older brothers who are home all day, who needs to learn to play by himself? Ok, so I do not have much of just me time and I can’t go out for a walk or a bike ride by myself for no one is there to look after a 3 year old and I can’t go out to the store to get the things we need when we are out when he is sleeping, but yeah, there are still lots of wonderful things about having just the one boy around.

The older boys left yesterday morning to go to scout camp. Daddy took them. I was supposed to go along except a little 3 year old was sick and throwing up20130707_151518. This put a crink into the day if only because of one thing – my boys do not get sick! Baruch Hashem, and let it stay that way. A loving Daddy bought some ginger ale before leaving for with our only vehicle gone and with a sick boy, it does not make for a day to be able to even walk to the neighborhood 7-11 to get some. We made it. After a nice needed nap he was allowed to do what sick boys get to do to keep them occupied so they can rest in bed and not be as antsy – nice educational videos. Baruch Hashem he feels good as new today. He is even learning to sleep in a big room all by himself.

Someone told me to take this time and do something for myself, so I heeded that advice. I started cleaning the house. It is amazing how much I can get done when I am doing all the work – and how clean things actually get! Living room and library were both cleaned to my satisfaction, swept and mopped, except for 1 pile of papers in each room. Not bad. Today was the garage and the cleaning of the kitchen cabinet doors. Oh, and I stumbled upon an amazing thing today – when the boys are not home it is great to clean for I can actually not only leave the room for a moment and expect it to stay the way I left it, I can even go to sleep for several hours and it will still stay the same! It feels pretty good to be able to have a few moments when the house will stay the way I want it.

Today we cleaned the garage in anticipation of our new instrument! I finally got an organ! Bonus – it was free and so was the transportation to my garage where it is now being stored until the bigger boys come home to help me move it into the house. My husband is so excited about it, almost as much as I am. He says I need to find a place for it. I tell him, it will fit in the house and that I have ideas. I have a few weeks until I need to have the answer.

20130708_125931This last week or so my husband and I have been trying to figure out what we should do next year for Judaics. We have spent the last 4 years with Room613.net and it has worked out really well. However, we decided our oldest, who is going to be bar mitzvah in a few short months (how did that happen?) was ready to move on. My husband and I are ones who do not mind thinking outside the box. Hey, the fact that we have been homeschooling for 8 years now proves it! What started out as an exercise in trying to figure out Judaics for one boy, ended up with something for all boys – that’s one bonus in having children close in age. (The other is being able to send them all to the same camp at the same time!) We have spent the last week mulling it over in our minds, bouncing it off the minds of different individuals to get thoughts and reactions and have finally decided we are going to do it. The boys are going to do Rambam’s Mishneh Torah next year. We chose that for it encompasses all aspects of our lives. We do not necessarily follow all that the Rambam says, but he does cover everything from each of the 613 mitzvos to davening, shmita year, maaser and other topics that do not necessarily apply to us today, but we should know about them.

Now, this seems fine until I mention that we are not going to do the 3 year cycle where you do one chapter a day for 3 years before completing Рthere are 31 sefarim in the set. No, we are doing the 1 year cycle Рdoing 3 chapters a day and finishing it off in about a year. Yes, I know exactly what that entails and what we are getting ourselves into. Each chapter is going to take, on average, 35-45 minutes to do. And yes, everyone that we have mentioned it to has looked at us as if we were crazy. However, since that is basically all they are going to do for Judaics, it should be more than reasonable. Children in schools spend the entire morning on Judaics, and so are we. Of course the boys are also going to do parsha/Yomim Tovim as well as continue on with their mishnayos. We are not expecting them to learn it inside and out, that will only happen by going through things multiple times. My goal is to get them to go through it. They will pick up according to each of their abilities, which is amazingly more than most of us would imagine. People learn through time. Our minds will take something we have learned or something we are thinking about and put it in the subconscious. The subconscious thinks about it and over time we get new ideas and thoughts about it. Then we can go back and learn more on the topic.

I found these wonderful videos on Chabad.org by Rabbi Gordon. He has a wonderful video for each and every chapter of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. He reads and translates as well as explains very nicely what is going on. My idea is to listen to 2 of his videos a day with the other chapter being read and then translated by boys. This is to help boys with their personal reading. Two birds with one stone. We would obviously take breaks in between each video and not do it all at once. And, I might even stagger the times throughout the day so that one little then-to-be 4 year old is not left hanging by himself for hours on end and being bored. And yes, this is a very rigorous feat we are going to do. We were told something on Shabbos – if you start this goal, do not quit, do not alter it, do not make the goal easier. Even if you get behind 1 day, 2 days, 3 days or more. Each day is a new day. Start fresh and continue on. The only thing that should change, if needed, is the end date. I liked this.

Today I ordered 3 sets of Mishneh Torah. One for each boy. They will be theirs to keep when they move out. The only condition is that we get to use them when we want/need to, even when they move out. Where we are going to put them, I do not know. As any homeschooling family knows, bookshelves are sacred – second only to the Torah and sefarim which are held on them. I have ideas. I have time before they come in. ūüėČ

In the meantime, I miss my boys, even with the cleaner house.

Vacationing in the Boonies

For one whole week we spent a wonderful time up in a cabin, on the top of a mountain, on 350 acres.  It was one of the best weeks we have ever had.  Grandpa came with us as well.  It was a nice cabin, with several acres of mowed grass around it, many more acres of unmowed grass  Рthe size of a landing strip for a plane, which, on occasion does land there, and hundreds of acres of just forest.  I think the only thing we would try to do different is to take more opportunity to explore the gorgeous forest and not wait until the second last day.

Since the cabin was a long ways away from any electric lines, the owners decided it would be to their economic advantage to install solar panels and have a backup generator instead of having to pay for the electric line ($40,000 vs. $80,000!)  That was to our advantage for several times we got to fly our new kite.  Unfortunately, only one new kite was able to be flown for there was not enough wind for the other two, but we had a lot of fun sharing.  When you get the kite up several hundred feet, you just need to sit there holding the string, the kite flies by itself for there is a lot of wind up there.

Monday we went exploring in the van. ¬†We found out this week that one cannot always trust a map. ¬†We had two different (both detailed with contour lines, etc.) maps, and they both showed a road going into a state forest. ¬†However, when we arrived at the state forest, no road! ¬†The GPS on the phone said there was no road, and the road sign said it was a dead end. ¬†We know from experience that GPS’s are not always reliable either, and normally we just use them to see where we are. ¬†We decided to take the only other possible road, which turned to the side. ¬†We thought that might be the state forest for there was gate there and sometimes state forests and parks have gates. ¬†We opened the gate and drove on. ¬†Well, the road was not¬†conducive¬†to vans, but we drove on. ¬†At one point we decided to turn around for it did not really look like a state forest road and then got stuck! ¬†After walking around we noticed a house not too far in front of us and figured we were not on a state road, but how to get out? ¬†Lots of man power, and B”H we had as many people as we did for even one less person and I don’t think we would have made it. ¬†Lesson learned: ¬†Trust road signs.

As we were making our way back home, trying hard to stay on the real road, we come across signs that state it was a real road, but that the bridge was closed 1000 feet ahead. Grandpa wanted us to stop, for the bridge was closed – read the sign! ¬†So, we did, and most of us got out and walked the 1000 or so feet…… only to come to another sign, for cars coming the opposite direction that said….. bridge closed 1000 feet…. Uh, well, we just walked right on through and there was nothing wrong with the road. ¬†Lesson learned: Can’t always trust the road signs!

Tuesday we went touring the Amish region.  It was interesting to see that people really do live a life almost identical to life 100 years ago.  We saw the horse and buggies (though that is nothing new for us where we live, but still neat to see it anyways,) wheat that was cut and stacked in the fields Р7 bundles to a stack, men plowing, men cutting up wood into boards and all the wood craft and quilt shops.  We stopped in a wooden toy shop and a couple of boys bought something there.

Wednesday was a trip on a steam engine! ¬†TOOT TOOT! ¬†Look at all that black smoke coming out of the top! ¬†It was a nice, relaxing time for me. ¬†3 boys wanted to sit with Grandpa, and that left me with just 1 and it was the perfect time of day for on the way back that 1 boy just wanted to lay there almost falling asleep. ūüôā

Thursday we did some geocaching. ¬†We found most of them. ¬†We actually did a bit of geocaching the entire week, but this afternoon was dedicated mostly to it. ¬†We also learned that not all state forest roads are maintained. ¬†We came across one that had a fallen tree in the middle of it. ¬†All 5 big boys went out to try to move it. ¬†Unfortunately it was just too long, however, DH being adventurous as he was, decided we took enough of the top away that he could drive around it, over the mud hole, and that is just what he did. ¬†However, he was smart enough to know that we had to find a different route out of the park ūüôā

Friday it rained, and the boys ate popcorn and watched a few National Geographic DVD’s about pirates! ¬†Challah and cinnamon buns filled the air Erev Shabbos, as well as the lack of electricity (B”H the oven was gas and still worked!) ¬†To their credit, the owner showed up within minutes and got the generator started (it was supposed to start automatically when the solar energy ran out but didn’t.) ¬†DH spent time doing orienteering work with the boys. ¬†They learned how to read the map, and the contour lines on a map, along with other compassing work.

The rain was a nice welcome, for Shabbos was nice and cool. ¬†We had all the windows open (like we had all week), but we did not need to ¬†have any fans going, so Shabbos morning we woke up to the sounds of birds…and quiet. ¬†It was so peaceful! ¬†We made our first trek into the 300+ acres of forest and saw butterflies and moths and bumblebees and even a snake! ¬†DH and I walked around the whole grassed area. ¬†It was pretty cool to be at one end and look back at the cabin – yellow flowers all over the grass, I just about ran right through pretending to be Laura Ingalls in the show from Little House on the Prairie. ¬†ūüôā

Sunday morning, the sun got up early, and so did I. ¬†I spent most of the morning packing up. ¬†We decided to walk down a path to a road and since Grandpa did not want to walk with us, he got to pick us up. ¬†Such a beautiful trek – about half of the walk was done solely on property we rented, and most of the rest was in what seemed an “alley” between properties. ¬†GPS was great this time!

On the way out, we stopped off at a Scandinavian festival outside of Jamestown, NY and got pictures of a life size replica of a Viking ship (a small one, more of a fishing boat – not the size of one crossing an ocean). ¬†We ending up in Niagra Falls for pizza for supper and finally made our way back home. ¬†All in all, we had a good time, and have lots of nice memories! ¬†We even got to finish off Grandpa’s visit with a birthday supper for my now 3 year old. ¬†Happy Birthday MA!