Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raspberry Fields Forever

I couldn't resist the title. We had such a great morning last week up in Oak Glen. The kids and I met my girlfriend Laila and her son Ethan for some fun and apple picking. We have started our A-A-Apple unit in MFW and it just happened to coincide perfectly with apple season. We met at the petting zoo, but of course we didn't call first to see what time they opened and we were an hour early. I told Laila about an orchard that made homemade fresh apple cider donuts... and we were off. Snowline is the name of the orchard. They have a cider mill, which was also closed (I guess there are benefits to going up during the busy weekends). We decided to start the day off by picking raspberries. The kids each filled their own basket while watching out for the "bumbly bees". They did a great job of avoiding the prickles and found lots of berries. When we had finished picking we went back to the barn for the donuts... yum. I had been thinking of those warm cinnamon donuts since we had gone up there last year.

Snowline didn't have apple picking that day, so after our donuts, we drove off down to Riley's Farm. There we were told by a lovely woman, in full colonial dress, that we could take a hay ride up to the apple orchard to go picking. So we waited for the tractor and got on board for the short ride up the hill. The days pick were Gala apples and we hunted for the trees with red ribbons tied on (that is how they mark the trees with ripe apples). We were also reminded by the man on the hay ride to twist the apples until they fall off the branch. If you just pull an apple off its branch, another apple will not grow in that spot again. The kids did a great job again of filling up our bag with beautiful apples. They could even reach the apples this year all on their own.

We had a wonderful morning in the fresh air with great friends. We came home with a bounty of apples and raspberries, which we have just finished off today. I guess we had better make plans to up again before the apples are all gone until next year. I'm not sure I can wait another whole year before having any more of those donuts either : ).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family Field Trip

Last Saturday morning we went down to San Clemente to pick up a BMX racing bike for Zachary...another story for another time. Afterward we decided to drive up to Dana Point and walk around. We ended up at the Ocean Institute at the end of the harbor.

We first visited an exhibit that showed us what the ocean floor looks like. It showed craters and valleys and (big around our home) volcanoes. We really enjoyed the hands on approach of the institute. The kids felt the contours of the ocean floor in a model, and got to play with setting on a computerized electronic globe.

Then we went into a lab room that had microscopes set up with all sorts of things to look at, sea sponges, corals, baby brine, and more. There were benches all around so the kids could climb up and be at just the right height to see in each microscope. Our telescope at home has been really big lately and we had only talked about microscopes. Silly me thought we won't need one of those until at least 3rd grade - so much for that. I guess it gives Dan something new to search Craigslist for.

There was also an exhibit where you could pick a whale and hear its "voice". They had a blast picking and hearing them all. We also saw all sorts of fish, shrimp, corals, jelly fish, sharks, rays... it was really fun.

BUT... the best part of the visit was the fish dissection. We were the only ones there. The lady was so sweet. She really got Zach and Emma involved. She talked right at their level and pointed out the different parts on the outside of our mackerel. They looked in its mouth and checked out its gills. Zachary loved touching it and feeling it's skin, Emma was a bit more, hum... reserve let's say. More of a looker. Then the lady asked Zachary if he would like to cut the mackerel open. She gave him a pair of surgical scissors and showed him how to do it. He dug in like a pro.

Then they located the fish's heart and stomach. She showed Zach how to clip open the stomach and squeeze out what was inside. They looked at it and tried to figure out what our little mackerel friend had for dinner. They found scales so they figured he had eaten a smaller fish. They also took out his eye and found the lens in it. The kids were so interested. Dan and I just stood back and watched the two of them experience this together. I've got to say, I was really encouraged to watch the two of them learning and taking it all in. It also encouraged me to be reminded that there are all sorts of places we can turn to for education. It is so nice to be reminded that, if we keep our minds open, we can find learning experiences all around us. We had no idea that was what was in store for us that day, but our Heavenly Father did. He led us right there and we had a beautiful family moment together. Our moment turned into a lovely day. We bumped into some dear friends children, Noah and Kyle out with their grandpa for the morning. The kids all watched the crabs together for a while then Noah and Kyle went off to enjoy the Ocean Institute. We went over to the harbor for fish and chip and then up to Newport to see Grandma and Grandpa Noack.

I just love days like this with my family. One surprise after another. Time shared together. Memories made. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Oh one more great photo from last week...

When Emma wakes up from her nap before Zachary she usually needs me for entertainment. Well, this day was different. She brought her blankets into my office and set up a bed on my floor and proceeded to "read" her own rendition of her new princess book out loud. It was so much fun pretending I was working, but really listening to her tale : ). How lucky am I!!!

I'll post soon about the field trip we took today to the apple orchards in Oak Glen! Fun Fun Fun!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Life right now...

Today we schooled!! Two days in a row! I was starting to wonder if it would happen. Things have seemed very crazy lately. Things are always crazy, but lately its been very hard to slow down. I'm not saying life is slow right now, but I think I'm starting to put some things in perspective.

Our family started a new Bible study last week. It's on Wednesday nights and there's something for all four of us. The kids both have their own classes, Dan is in the men's study, and I'm in the (huge!) woman's study. My former Bible study had about 8 people in it. This one has at least 200!! Luckily we are broken down into tables of 8, so it will be nice to get to know the women at my table this year. We are studying the book of Psalms, which I am very excited about.

I've also joined a MOPs group which starts next Tuesday. I've been going to T-Mom's the past year and a half which is basically a MOP's group, but put on privately by a church in Redlands. I've loved T-Moms, but the drive is long, and with gas prices it just doesn't make since. I'm looking forward to meeting a whole new group of women and seeing what the group as to offer.

I've also just found out that the church that has the Bible study and MOPs group, also has a group of homeschooling families. I've been looking into that too. I probably sound crazy, but there is something different about having scheduled activities with Christian groups than to have a busy schedule that is all over the place. Anyway, I'm hoping this year is a great year of growth for me and my family.

My last week of work was very busy, and while there is lots of work scheduled for the rest of the month, nothing can be as busy as the last week. I am very thankful for the work, and I'm so happy to be able to do it all from home so my kids can be with me. I'm looking forward to really getting school running regularly. This is what we've been called to do, and not doing it is disobeying the Lord. I must make it a priority. With that said, we are almost done with our leaf unit. Monday morning we should be starting our apple unit, and just in time. It's apple season up at Oak Glen and we have plans to meet friends up there on Thursday. We had a beautiful time there last year, and have been looking forward to going back since then.

We were hoping to go camping this weekend, but it didn't work out. So, my head is still in Idyllwild from Labor Day Weekend. I've decided to share a few more photos from that great time. (the header photo on my blog is from that weekend).

Here's Zach with his first catch, ever!! A blue gill.

Lucky for us Emma caught one too!!

Dan got a little bit of rest in (don't let this photo fool you, this was a rare moment!)

I thought for sure we would need a case of Bandaids when I saw them doing this...

but there were no falls. They had such a great long ride down the hill from our camp site. Dan tried to get me to go with him, but I was chicken (besides, then who would be in charge of the camera?).

We can't wait to go back to Silent Valley. Hopefully next time Grandpa with go with us!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Papa Sam

The following are some notes I took during Papa Sam's last days. I'm sharing these as a way to continue the healing process of loosing a very important man in my life and the lives of my family. I wish everyone can experience and feel love the way Papa Sam loved his family.

Friday August 1, 2008

I went to visit Papa today. We had just seen him last Saturday, but we know even more now that his days on this earth are numbered. We had a short, but very sweet visit with him on Saturday in the Atrium at Fashion Island. He had wanted to go down there for breakfast and coffee as he and Nana had done so many times before. Mom and Kitty were happy to help him walk down the stairs and take him and Nana there. When we got there Joseph, Cathy, and Tanner were there, as well as Wendy. Nana and Papa were talking with friends that I assume they knew from their frequent breakfasts there. It seems like the two of them make friends where ever they go. We all sat around and visited. I knelt next to Papa for awhile and spoke to him as he admired his great-grandchildren. I have always loved seeing the joy on his face when he looks at his family, but mostly when he looks at his great-grandchildren. He just beams with love. You can tell just from his eyes how very proud he is of his family. It soon was time for Mom and Kitty to take Nana and Papa home. He just looked so good. I know now that the Lord must have given him the energy to come out that special day. The news he had received just the day before seemed impossible. Papa has stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer is already in his bones and his liver and the doctors do not see much hope.

Only a week has gone by since he was diagnosed. So many changes in only one week. Papa’s body has gotten weaker by the day. He has good times and more difficult times. His family is all around him. Mom and Kitty have been staying at their house and Marylu came in earlier this week and is staying too. The three of them are coming together, as a family should, and taking care of their parents. It’s such a beautiful thing. They are facing this together as a family, as support for one another. They are going through one of the toughest times of their lives, but they are leaning on each other.

I have wanted to drive down and see papa the past couple of nights, but today was the day that the Lord wanted me there. Dan was working so I took the kids. We walked up to the door and I looked through the window to see my Mom, Kitty and Marylu all seated at the dining table together. The Team. That was such a touching sight. I’m not sure exactly why, but it really touched me. Mom met us at the door and took the kids and told me to go on in and see Nana and Papa. I walked into their large airy bedroom to see the most beautiful picture. My Nana was lying on her bed with her head where her feet should be. Her arm was outstretched holding papa’s hand. He was reclining in his hospital bed next to her. She had turned her bed around so that they could face each other. I went straight to her and gave her the biggest hug. It felt so good to just be there with them. They have the most gorgeous view from that room. One whole wall has windows that look out toward the ocean. The sky was so blue and there were white puffy clouds in the sky. The light was so perfect in that white room. Papa welcomed me in and I went to sit at a chair that was at his bedside. I can’t get over how peaceful and lovely he looked. He had no shirt on and his tan skin was so beautiful. His hair looked longer than usual because it was not so brushed back as I usually see it. His dark hair is so handsome. He had a bit of a 5’o clock shadow going and that even looked good on him. He held my hand and we talked. We talked a little about the visit we had had just the past Saturday. We talked about the kids. He wanted so badly to see them, but he had told Nana previously that he didn’t want the great-grandchildren to see him. We wanted to honor that request, so I didn’t bring them in. Nana talked about so many mornings when they woke up how Papa wanted to hop in the car and go see Tanner and then come see Zachary and Emma. He just loves those kids so much. I think he just feeds off of their energy. Papa asked for his water that was next to his bed and I gave it to him. I remember feeling pleased that he asked that of me. Such a small gesture, but I just wanted to do anything I could for him at that moment. All his needs seemed to be taken care of, so that little thing really helped me. While Nana and I talked, Papa seemed to drift in and out of sleep, always with a small smile on his lips. I really can’t remember what all we talked about, but it was such a relaxing visit. It was so nice to be alone with them. I finally asked if I could pray with them before I left. They both said that would be wonderful. We all held hands and I prayed to our Lord to bring peace to that house. I prayed that He would be with Nana and have her feel His arms around her. I prayed that he would be with Papa and have him know how much he is loved and what he has meant to our family. I prayed that we always remember to count our blessings. Nana was resting her head on my hand that she held and Papa was squeezing my hand over and over. He was just so relaxed and peaceful. He laid there with a smile the whole time. Papa thanked me for praying and then started to say something, but I just told him how much he has meant to me and how much I love him and how much we all know he loves us because he always told us that. I told him that I have learned from him to tell my loved ones that I love them as often as I can. He just put his head back and smiled at me and nodded his head.

I want to hold on to that feeling in that room this afternoon. I don’t know if this is to be the last time I am in a room with Papa, but if it is I just want to be able to go back in my memories and savor those precious minutes. I know that Papa understands a bit of the impression that he has left on my life. I am sure that that impression will continue to grow as the lessons he has taught me will continue to be learned.

Tuesday August 12, 2008

Dawn called. She had just left a little over an hour ago to go back to Nana and Papa’s house after spending the night with us. She told me the news. Papa has died.

He died moments before she got there. Nana Sue had just gone to look at some photos with mom on her computer and my dad had arrived for a visit. My mom asked him to come see the photos, but he wanted to see Papa first. He went into see Papa and witnessed Papa’s last breath. It was as if Papa was just waiting for him to be there to handle everything. It was a day of so much sorrow, but also of so much joy. My initial reaction was just stillness. I had just put Zachary and Emma down for their naps. I didn’t want to disturb Emma while she was sleeping, but Zachary was still awake. I went to his room and lay in bed with him. I gave him a big hug and told him that Papa Sam went to see Jesus today. His reaction is one I will never forget. He looked at me with his big brown eyes. Excitement, not sadness, came over his face. “Really!!” he said. That was met with another big hug. How did this 5 year old boy know just what I needed to hear? He was so excited that Papa Sam was with Jesus. Stories from that day trickled down to me in the days to follow. I learned that Nana Sue, mom, Dawn, Kitty, Scott, Wendy and Nathan all ordered pizza at Nana and Papa’s house and had dinner together that night. They watched an extra beautiful sunset together from the house. Wendy said that Grandpa Bunny Bunny must have painted it. That was so poignant to me being that it was a book introduced to me in Nana Sue’s arms when I was very young. After it got dark, they saw fireworks down by the Pavilion. It was so strange that there were fireworks in Newport on a Tuesday in August. It was just another sign of celebration. I would say that Papa is still sending us signs that he’s with us, but I really don’t think that is true. Papa is in an awesome place now, and quite honestly I don’t believe he is worried about us. I do know that in just an instant we will be with him. I think that our Lord is sending us helps. I think He knows just the comfort that we all need and He is providing that for us. I also believe that these “signs” are only beginning. I believe the best is yet to come.

Papa Sam meeting Emma for the first time

"Sam Francisco" The City that he loved!

Our first day back to school

Our first day back to school was actually 3 weeks ago. As I did last spring, I took first day of school photos. Below is one of the photos which shows some of the beauties of homeschooling for us... a typical, or not so typical day.

Just done with breakfast, no hair brushed, Emma dressed as a mermaid, and... who's that in the background... silly Aunt Dawn doing a 1st day back to school dance. We were lucky enough to have Aunt Dawn overnight so we shared our first day back to school with her. She's been visiting from her home on St. Thomas "aka, Aunt Dawny's Island" for a month already and she's planning on staying until September 30th. She's been such a wonderful help to our family in this season. I'll post more on that later.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

School Year, Here We Come...

We have (slowly) started up our school year again and are looking forward to sharing our antics with friends and family. We have enjoyed a very busy summer and are ready for our pre-school/kindergarten year.

For our 5 year old son we are using My Father's World for kindergarten... and still LOVING it. We're currently on the "Leaf" unit, which tied in great with a Labor Day weekend camping trip to Silent Valley in Idyllwild.

For our 3 year old daughter we are using My Father's World and Heart of Dakota's, Little Hands to Heaven for preschool. This takes us 30 minutes or less a day, but it's a great time of Bible stories, devotions, and fun with both the kids.

I have what we need for school organized and ready to go and I am praying that God gives me and my husband wisdom and courage this year to train our children in His ways. I hope you join us for some fun and please leave comments if you have them.