Friday, April 3, 2015

4 Year Old Birthday!

This was the first year that ZB has been very aware of her birthday, we had so much fun!  We decorated after she went to bed.  The 4 year old woke up with balloons, ribbons and streamers hanging in the doorway and balloons all over the living room.

We made delicious coconut flour blueberry pancakes for a special birthday breakfast.  ZB sat in her birthday throne (her chair decorated with construcition paper shapes), ate her pancakes, and then opened her presents.
I bought her a first Disney Princess doll.  Those of you that know me, know I'm fairly mortified about this.  But dang, the girl really wanted it!  So, I tried to be the good mama and got it for her.
B made her something extra special, but only gave her a part of it.  ZB exclaimed, "I've always wanted this!!  ... What is it?"  We convinced her to bring it outside and we'd try to figure out what it was for.  She guessed for snowboarding.
Didn't work.
Then, she guessed maybe it was something for making her jump higher on the trampoline.
 Didn't work.

With a couple hints, she finally spied the new swingset that B had built in the yard.  "Ah!" she said, it's a bottom swing!"  She loves having her own big girl swing, and uses it every day.

We spend the rest of the morning decorating for the party  Grandma and Uncle David came in from Omaha to help.
The party was so fun!  Lots of friends came.  Reed had a face-painting booth set up.  Here is one of ZB's friends sporting a new kitty face:

I enjoyed seeing the sandbox get put to good use.  It was quite rewarding to see lots of kids using it at the same time and all have space to play!
There was lots of play time in the school bus, around the yard and on the trampoline.
The pinata was a pretty comical affair, since most kids there had not done one before.  There were several kids who insisted on just poking it with a stick on their turn.  After pinata, we did a cake.  ZB wanted a rainbow cake and the Frozen characters.  Since I was not planning to draw Frozen characters on a cake, I broke down and bought more Disney Princess junk toys and stuck them on the cake.  She was a happy camper.
2 or 3 pieces of cake later, ZB got up again to play with friends until it started getting cold and friends went home.  We finished the night with a big family dinner at a local pizza place.  Such a fun day, I felt really blessed have such beautiful weather for her birthday, and get to be with so many lovely friends while we celebrated this awesome girl!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gray Fossil Dig

Just over the Tennessee border, in the town of Gray, is an active fossil dig.  The younger kids and I had a really fun day today accompanying Clay's high school Earth Science group on a field trip to the dig site.

The DOT was actually bulldozing for a new road and starting seeing bones.  They explained this is quite common, and they have paleontologists that routinely come check it out, usually finding bones as old as the Ice Age.  At this site, researchers found bones that were even older, back when this part of the country was very warm (they found an alligator)... so cool!  They have also discovered two new (extinct) species at this dig site - new kinds of red panda and badger.  Also prehistoric bears, tapirs, a mastadon, etc.

We had a great tour guide show us the active dig areas and patiently answer questions from all the kids, including Blossom asking things like, "When will it be Saturday?" and "What will happen if it's night and a girl comes out of a volcano that comes out of a mountain, that comes out of a rock?"  Hahaha!
The guide said she was very impressed with our group.  She said most teens come through and are very disinterested (or at least trying to act like it), and don't pay attention, just goofing off the entire tour.  Our group was asking lots of questions and actually listening (yay homeschoolers!)

The labs are inside the adjoining museum.  Researchers were busy cleaning and examing bones.  It was pretty neat to be able to see this work in person.  To preface this photo, I'll say that whenever Clay saw me snapping a photo, he decided to be totally goofy, so half of the photos I came home with look like this:

The museum was small, but pretty neat.  Some of the kids brought home applications to volunteer as site workers this Summer!

No one in the group had to be home yet, so we decided to spend more time in Tennessee.  We headed to Bays Mountain.  It's only a $4 entry per car, and it was really beautiful!  There was a lot to do there, and we picked the ropes course for this group, and a quick walk to see some of the nature center animals.  We had hoped to visit the planetarium at the end, but the teens found a really great hike, so we followed their lead on that one.

The low ropes course was intended for team building.  The kids had a blast on it!

On the hike, the boys had discovered what looks to be an old dam or bridge maybe.  It is all surrounded by forest now, but apparently used to have a road, as they also found a car at the bottom of it.  The whole structure was semi-dilapidated, which I guess makes it all the more desirable to a teenage boy!
ZB was not allowed to go on top of the structure (lots of holes over a pretty big drop), so she settled with just striking some poses next to it ;)

The group of boys (7 of them, I believe) went off to explore the woods on their own for a while, and ZB found her inner mountain goat and was rock climbing all over the place!  It was really the perfect place for it.
If you ever find yourself near the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, and have a couple hours to spare, I highly recommend checking out the dig site or Bays Mountain.  I'm sure we'll be back!

Monday, March 30, 2015

ZB 4 Year Old Interview

Here's a little capture of this moment in the sweet life of Blossom!

Birthday photos coming soon...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Awesome Dinosaur Pinata

Prepping for ZB's 4th birthday party was lots of fun!  She insisted that a pinata was essential for the party, and wanted it to be chicken shaped.  On the first day of construction, she changed her mind and wanted it to be a dinosaur.  She chose an apatosaur, and we started construction!
First the balloon and newspaper inner structure were built, then the first layer of goopy paper mache.  I know there are fancier ways to do this, but I stayed old school with newspaper and a basic flour/water glue.

After it dried overnight, ZB decided it needed "thorns" (spikes).  So these were added.  They are the dividers from egg carton.
One more layer was added that day, and left to dry.  When it was all dry the next day, we stuffed it full of treasures (kazoos, dark chocolate squares, gummy snacks, magnifying glasses, etc.)  Then time for the first layer of paint.  ZB decided it was to be purple.
Details were added:
On her birthday eve, when she was tucked in bed, B blew up all the balloons, and we set the finished dino in the balloon jungle as a fun wake-up surprise (she was quite delighted by the scene)!

Talent Show

The Asheville Homeschool Talent Show was this week.  My kids have never participated before, and this year they surprised me and (very last minute) decided to do it!  Blossom got to go first because she was the youngest participant, and she was thrilled!  Not even a little nervous :)
She then did a quick-change off stage, and 2 acts later, she and Reed went back on stage to breakdance.  I didn't get any video of the two of them, but did get Blossom's ballet performance.  Clay took care of music for both acts, so everyone helped out!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring is Finally Here!

We are all so excited that Spring is finally here!  Bobby is busy with outdoor projects.  Clay is getting lots of yard work jobs and skateboarding everywhere!  Reed is breaking away from playing Minecraft to soak up some sun.  I'm loving that I'm already sunburned and Blossom is naked in the yard half the time!

Baby chicks in the brooder box are just about to be put outside, and the big chickens are LOVING the arrival of delicious bugs ;)

Blossom's cousins from Charlotte made a visit this weekend to check out a kids event at the Arboretum.  They did all the "event activities" and then we all wandered into the woods for some creek play time.  Here's Blossom and her cousin Hudson enjoying the chilly water!
Reed was, of course, climbing on everything he could find (we was fairly upset that most of the trees were thin rhododendrons).
I spent Sunday digging Blossom's sand box bigger.  I made it about triple sized.  As it was, if you got 2 kids in there and they had toys, there was really no room left to play.  Bobby was glad for me to use up some old stumps, too.
When I did the first version of this, I hauled the river sand home in 5 gallon buckets in the back of my little Honda.  But now... Bobby got a truck - woo-hoo!!  He is putting it to good use immediately.  Though it still took a couple trips to get all the sand.
He is now busy at work on a special surprise for our nearly 4yo.  I'll surely post pictures soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lots of Love

Before the month is over, I want to make sure to share about Valentine's Day!  Our homeschool co-op had a little exchange - well, actually lots of people showed up and we kind of freaked out the ice cream shop employees (note to self: hold it in a bigger venue next year!).  Reed filled little bags with homemade treats - he melted a Hershey Hug on a square pretzel and then squished an M&M on top.  Sweet and salty yumminess! (not my photo)

Blossom did marble paintings.  If she had her way, she would probably spend a good portion of each day painting.

In a baking pan, she rolled paint-covered marbles over paper until it created really cool designs.

We let the paintings dry and then cut them into heart shapes and glued on little Valentine messages.  They turned out really sweet!  Even though Reed's treats were probably more of a hit with the other kids, I like to fool myself into believing that the kids loved these as well :)

The kids get to share a little more love this month with our new chicks!  These are called Buckeyes (from, you guessed it, Ohio).  We bought them on craigslist.  They are a rare breed and I am excited to add them to the flock!  They will turn a very lovely dark reddish-brown as they get older, and the roosters are supposed to be very docile.  They are good meat birds as well as egg-layers.
We have 5 of them peeping away in the brooding box in our living room.  Never a dull moment!