Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Sad Fact

My hubby has been traveling too much the last few months. So far for 2008 he has been home 52 out of 152 days. This really saddens me. I sobbed myself to sleep last night feeling overwhelmed.
I want my husband to come home and stay home.
There is hope that has travels are coming to an end but I am not that optimistic. When he is home for a month straight I will believe it. Here's hoping to June being that month.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hunting for Tadpoles

It's serious business!

The kids and Grandma out catching.

Can anyone please tell me what kind of bird this is?
We have scoured books and websites and have yet to identify it.

Anyone have an idea?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Around the Cottage

The Woodland Cottage across the parking lot from the Visitor Center at Mammoth Caves was where we called home for the weekend. A cute four bedroom cottage, it was perfect for the four families we had in our group. No heat, A/C, phone or TVs, that was what we knew. So we had visions of rustic and decapitated buildings in our head. We were pleased to find, spacious clean rooms, refrigerators, coffee maker and two bathrooms WITH showers. Not to mention the price was right. I would recommend it to anyone planning a visit.

My dad's camera takes the best shots. We got some cute ones of the kids.
Little Girl

My boy and Jac

The baby

There is a picnic area right behind the cottages. We had an awesome picnic on Saturday night. My boy found some abandoned coals and nurtured them until he got a fire going. I love that he has these life skills and knows how to do things like this safely. A couple nights later he taught a 30 year old how to start a campfire...(grin)

Hubby and I at the picnic

While around the cottage we pulled the chairs outdoors and enjoyed the birds and creatures that flitted through. Of particular interest was the cicada. They were hatching left and right.

We also enjoyed bike riding. The boys were hardly around the cottage as they were off romping on bikes. I took a group on a crazy bike ride that I would rather not talk about. OK maybe I will a bit. Do not take bikes down Flint Ridge. Down is incredibly AWESOME, going back up....not so much. If you must have a car waiting for you at the bottom.

More adventures to come...

Frozen Niagara

Saturday morning cave tour.
Frozen Niagara is the one area of Mammoth Cave that has stalactites and stalagmites. Over the majority of the area the cap rock is strong and does not allow drips of water into the cave. In this particular area the roof has leaks and has created these awesome formations.

Stalactites which form as the water drips down.

Here is a pool of water, it was crystal clear.

A wall or drapery

You can see here how in past times people have broken off a piece as a souvenir. The owner of the cave in the 1800s didn't mind if visitors did so. For a bit of money they could chose a piece and break it off. Unfortunately it takes hundreds of years to form so this practice has permanently effected the cave.

Thankfully, everyone from our group was able to enjoy this part of the cave as it was very accessible and go at your own pace.
Hope you are enjoying glimpses of our trip.
Still more to come...

Hike to Cedar Sink

Another guided hike my mom and I went on, was to Cedar Sink. Around this area there are many sink holes where water enters into the cave. One never knows where a sink may appear so you need to be careful in these parts. The hike to the sink was very beautiful and informative. The guide talked about the native trees and plants. Identifying flowers as we went along. The closer we got we descended upon some spectacular ledges. This area was truly beautiful and worth the hike. If you visit the area and are into nature, I recommend taking this hike.

Cedar Sink. You can see the pile up of branches. Right near this is where the water enters the cave.

I saved my mother's life, as she was about to fall into this nearby sink. It was a one foot path and she slipped. I grabbed a hold of her and helped her to get her footing. She is forever grateful. She says she would have been sucked into the cave, if I hadn't been there. I think she would have free fallen for 5-10 feet and then I would have pulled her back up. But I am thankful it was much less dramatic than that. This was past the Cedar Sink but near the cave opening.

300 feet from the Cedar Sink is a natural cave opening. It has been barred off so entry into the cave is not permitted but the view was cool. To get to it I had to climb a steep hill. It was worth it. Going back down the hill was slow and steady.

A view from the top near the cave opening.

Fire Pink, a pretty red, star-shaped flowers growing on a ledge. We saw this all over in Kentucky.

A centipede. I saw three during the hike. This picture here is actual size.

Nearing the end of our Mammoth Cave Adventure.
Still to come, The Ferry over Green River and our visit with Miss Sue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cave City

After our first cave your we decided to head into Cave City. My kids have been wanting to go horse back riding for a very long time. Why not go on our trip and see some beautiful country side at the same time?

The Kentucky Action Park is where we decided to go. My husband had to laugh at the sign, KY Action Park. He opted out of the horse back riding but saw us off.

My girlfriend and her daughter went with us. Little girl rode with me and the boy got to ride his own.
Here's Homer on his horse, Chief. The boy did really well.

Little girl and I got AJ, short for Apple Jacks, he was an eater. He made every opportunity to get at leaves, weeds and grass. He also took us on the high rode and than ran back down the ledge. He was a feisty guy.

The guide led us along the Kentucky country side, through muddy red clay, up hills and through the grass. We saw heron, ducks, hawks and truly lovely landscape.

I lost my cell phone on the ride, but the guide found it an hour later. We picked it up on our way to dinner. :)

After the ride, hubby joined us as we went down the Alpine Slide. To get to it, we rode a chair lift up to the top of the hill. Then we raced each other down. Fun stuff. A highlight for the boy.
Once I find my camera, currently MIA, I will post some pics from the Slide.

While a bit pricey, The Action Park was a hit for the whole family. Everyone had a great time.

In the evening of day one we went to the Guided program at the amphitheater. The title of the presentation was Caves of the World. The photography was stunning. The information just as interesting. Well worth it.
So there you have Day One of our trip...still more to follow...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mammoth Cave- Historic Cave Tour

The first cave tour of the weekend was the Historic Tour.
It takes you through the large dry passage ways that Mammoth is known for. It also includes many of the parts Stephen Bishop led groups through in 1840s and some of his discoveries. Like The Bottomless Pit, Fat Man's Misery and Mammoth Dome. Places we learned about reading the book, Journey to the Bottomless Pit.
Many parts of the tour were wide open. If there was something close enough to focus on, we could get a good shot. In most areas the lighting did not allow for good photographs.

Others parts had low clearance.

Some parts were narrow.

And there were many, many stairs. This area was beautiful though so you could stop often and look around.

Little girl, helping grandma through the cave.

With all the little nooks and crannies, it's easy to see how this cave has miles of passages. 365 miles. Currently the longest in the world with more still being discovered.

Heading out the natural cave opening. Very beautiful. You can see the water falling.

Our group (mom was taking the picture) at the end of the tour. The baby was crashed out the last 20 minutes or so. I had forgotten how heavy a sleeping baby can be.

The cave tour was great. An awesome beginning to an awesome day!
More of our adventures to come...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garage Sale Savy

Little girl went to garage sales with my mother, today. At one stop, my daughter picked up a doll deciding whether or not to buy it. She had brought her own money so each purchase was carefully pondered. The doll was priced $2. My dear sweet daughter looked at the lady running the sale and said, "Don't people know kids only get allowance?"
The lady smiled, knelt down and whispered in her ear, "For you , I can take a dollar."
It was a deal.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ditching the Reading Curriculum

Reading. It is a vital skill to master. As important as eating, sleeping and breathing. Reading and writing are essential to function as a contributing member in our society. Without the skill, one lives in poverty. This has hit home hard over the last month. As I have read numerous books on slavery and the underground railroad, one theme has been hit on again and again. SLAVES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO READ OR WRITE OR BE INSTRUCTED IN MATTERS OF EDUCATION. It breaks my heart. A whole race being withheld from education for the purpose of controlling them and preventing uprise.
While it breaks my heart, it also ignites a fire. To see my children and those near my influence, LOVE reading! Not just tolerate it. I want them to love it. I want them to be able to read anything they desire. I want them to educate themselves on whatever they find of interest or use. I want them to be able to carry on meaningful discussions about things they have learned. Especially things they have learned in a book. Be it history, a good novel, a newspaper, a magazine, a field guide or science experiment. I want them to have the knowledge to not only decipher the written language, I want them to love it.
And right now, my son simply tolerates it.
He enjoys figuring words out. He enjoys mom reading books to him. He really has been completely engrossed in biographies. First Stephen Bishop and currently Abraham Lincoln. Yet when it comes time for his Reading lesson, he drags himself to the reading spot. He continuously asks for me to alternate reading paragraphs with him. Some stories we can zoom through, while others are painstakingly picked at. There are moments, recently, where he will ask to stay up late to look through a book. And wanting him to read, I do let him. In those moments I see a light in his eyes, glimpses of what reading can be.
So today, I decided to ditch the Reading Curriculum. Oh yes I did!
I will share with you my thought process.
Part of my home school thinking is I am not raising two children, I am raising two adults. When they are grown I do not want them to still act as children I want them to be fully functioning, contributing, intellectual members of society. So with whatever I choose to teach them with, I have to ask myself if it will help me to achieve that goal. In regards to Reading, I have asked myself, how I want them to view reading as an adult. My answer is that I want them to love reading. I want them to be able to pick up any source and media, obtaining useful information from it. I want them to be able to read whatever interests them. I want them to be able to pick up a newspaper and know what is happening in their world and in their backyard. I want them to know what it is like to be so wrapped up in a book, that they do not go to bed until 3am to finish it. And I want their life to be richer and fuller because of books. I know my life is.
Continuing with the thought process...
If I want them to be able to read what interests them, why don't I do more of that now. The answer is, by the time we finish curriculum, he is zapped not wanting to do any further reading. He would rather be outside playing. And me wanting him to be outside playing... that is a whole different post.
So I asked myself how I could change this situation. And the answer was ditch the curriculum. Some may gasp, some may raise their eyebrows and wait curiously to see if we are successful. And still others reading, are cheering and shouting 'Hallaluia!' because you know it can be done.
In ditching it, I did not ditch the idea of any formal reading time. Nor have I ditched the Phonics and English grammar side of language. We will still do the English curriculum Instead, I have decided to let the boy read WHAT HE WANTS TO READ. The thought is revolutionary in my mind.
We will take time each day for him to read to me a book.
Now I did have some concern as to how to encourage different concepts and media so I decided to alternate the choosing of a book. Today he chose. Monday, I will choose. Tuesday, he will choose. And so on. In doing so I hope to encourage him to read things of interest but also challenge him to look at other authors, types of reading material and review things I may notice need review.
I am quite hopeful.
Today, I presented my thoughts to the boy. He seemed more than willing to agree. He quickly selected a book form his book shelf. One he had read only once before and with much assistance.
Today, he breezed through it. He read with ease and confidence. And what delighted me most was his use of expression. We were reading from the book Are You My Mother by Don Eastman. And every time the little bird spoke he would do so in a high pitch voice. And then I noticed he would change to a low voice for the dog. He used inflection where there were exclamation points. His eyes were sparkling with love of reading.
If today is any indication for the future, I think we may have ditched the Reading Curriculum forever.

My Handy Man Can

We were watching a family DVD this morning when the DVD player malfunctioned (DVD's fault) for the second time this week. The first time hubby repaired it while I was gone. This morning, my boy says to me. I can do it. And I let him. Amazingly enough with no apprehension.
He unplugged the player. Took out all the screws. Putting them in a safe spot as to not loose them. Next, he took off the cover and located the last two screws needed to take out the DVD. Amazing!

Then very carefully he placed the cover back on and tightened each screw.

Lastly, he plugged it back in.
It works! It works!
I am looking forward to many years of exploration and discovery with my handyman.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Kids Triathlon 2008

The kids both decided to participate in the kid's triathlon not far from our house.
This is the start of the 7-10 year olds. My boy is red shirt, black pants with white stripe. He was the one of the youngest in this age group.

Running, .6 mile, he never gave up.

Starting off on the 2 mile bike ride.

Finishing the 75 yd swim. I love the smile on his face.

Little girl running...


And swimming.

Yeah!!! She did it!

Both kids with their medals.
The boy got a third place medal for his time of 23.41

Way to go kiddos. I am very proud of both of you!