Monday, February 26, 2018

The House at Pooh Corner

*all photos of the play via the Youth Theatre at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Facebook page

I have written before about our Friend Fridays and the important role they play in our homeschool. One of the many activities that has fallen on Friend Friday is attending a local children's theater to see performances of some of our favorite children's books.

Back in October we joined friends to see a production of Charlotte's Web – and we all loved it. Then the Children's Theater did a production of Beauty and the Beast that we chose to skip, but our friends enjoyed seeing, and last Friday we had the opportunity to see The House at Pooh Corner with some of these same friends. Next month we hope to see A Year with Frog and Toad – which Jack and I have just started reading together.

The morning of the play, we finished up the book and the stories about Winnie-the-Pooh were still fresh in our minds. Since the book is by an English author, I found myself having to explain more to Jack. There were also more characters to keep up with. I kind of wish we had chosen to listen to an audio version of this book... maybe another time.

While the showing of Charlotte's Web was packed, The House at Pooh Corner was only about two-thirds full when we saw it. The play was cute, but the kid that played Tigger made the play. Isaac and the other little guy in our group thought Tigger was hilarious and they couldn't take their eyes off the stage!

While Charlotte's Web really followed the storyline from the book, I found The House at Pooh Corner blended story lines and left out a lot of (what I thought were) important elements. Either way I don't think the kids noticed and we still had an enjoyable time with our friends.

Afterward, we were able to walk over to Good Dog for hot dogs with one other family. Then we let our kids run wild at Coolidge Park, before ending with a carousel ride. Have I mentioned that we love where we live... and Friend Friday?

I will leave you with one of Pooh's poems/songs from the book since it has been in my head all week:
The more it snows (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
On snowing.

And nobody knows (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
Are growing. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Valentine's Day Cookie Party

This time last week, we were wrapping up our Valentine's Day Cookie Decorating Party.

Since beginning our homeschool journey, it has been really important to me that we meet up with friends as often as possible (for both fun and learning), and also make sure we take the opportunity to celebrate and have parties so the kids don't feel like they are missing out on these elements of school.

I guess it's my way of making sure we have the best of both worlds.

Back in December, we hosted a similar Christmas party with a group of our friends, and we had such a good time that Jack wanted to know when we would be having friends over to make cookies again.

Luckily for him, he made the suggestion right before Valentine's!

So I sent out an informal invitation to bring some of our friends together on Valentine's Day.

I followed pretty much the same plan as before, but this time around, the boys and I made all of the cookies before everyone arrived. This freed up more time for play for the kids. And let's be honest, most of them just wanted to decorate the cookies, make a mess, and eat icing!

Since it was Valentine's Day, we also wanted to exchange cards. Everyone came with boxes decorated and cards made, and had a lot of fun distributing their cards.

When they weren't eating or decorating cookies, the kids could be found running amuck, trying on various costumes and acting out all kinds of imaginative play. Kids would come running through with capes and swords, then police and fire fighters or various super heroes.

The kids all had a blast and the mamas had a chance to visit. We had 16 kids ranging in age from infants to first grade, along with 7 mamas.

I look forward to sharing more celebrations together. Jack is already dreaming up the next party we can host... maybe we will celebrate the end of the Olympics with a little field day.


On the note of Valentine's, Daniel was out of town for work the entire week of Valentine's, so he took the boys to buy me flowers on the Saturday before, and they hid a vase in the storage room in the garage. After the Valentine's party was over, Jack told me he had a surprise for me in the garage. I was definitely surprised.

Later Jack couldn't find the card he had picked out for me. Daniel talked to him on the phone and let him know where he could find it. The next thing I knew Jack brought me a sweet card that he had written in. I couldn't help but laugh when I opened it, because the card was actually the one I had bought to give to Daniel that I had not had a chance to write in yet! We still have not solved the case of the missing Valentine card...

Isaac also celebrated Valentine's Day at his preschool on Thursday. He had fun with his classmates. Coming home he told me that they had juice and cupcakes and loved looking at all the cards and candy that he received from his school friends.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hidden Hills Farm: Maple Syrup Day

Two generations ago, most of our grandparents were growing up on farms. Our parents probably had some connection to a farm when they were children, and perhaps we had relatives who owned farms that we visited when we were young.

Daniel has fond memories of helping his grandfather herd cows down a road between pastures and I remember visiting my Great Aunt and Uncle's dairy farm when I was a kid.

Our children? They don't have that same connection to the land that previous generations did. We don't even have a small garden at our house, though when we visit my parents, our boys enjoy picking raspberries and other things from my parent's garden

I am so thankful that there are local farms that open their grounds to children. You have to pay, but it is a wonderful way to expose our kids to where food comes from.

Hidden Hills Farm and Saddle Club in Ooltewah, TN is one of our favorite places. Throughout the year they host special days where you can visit and learn about a particular part of their farm. By far, our favorite day to visit is Tractor Day, and our very first visit was on a Cow Milking Day.

Other days occur throughout the year, you can check out their events on their Facebook page.

Most recently, we had the privilege of visiting on their Maple Syrup Day. Another homeschool family joined us for some fun on the farm and a hands-on lesson in how Hidden Hills makes their own Maple Syrup right here in East Tennessee.

It was a lovely day to be outside. The sun was shining and the ground wasn't too muddy.

Jack immediately wanted to take a ride on a horse, and Isaac rode his very first pony. Once he was on, he wasn't thrilled and insisted I hold his hand for the whole ride. I'm sure by our next visit, he will be riding without any trepidation. Of course, Jack wanted to ride the biggest horse they had out.

After they each took a turn, we laughed as a baby calf escaped the coral and children gleefully chased it back to its mama.

Isaac was beside himself watching the chickens run amuck everywhere and was happy to pet the goats. Jack was bitten by a duck at a petting zoo a few years ago and isn't a big fan of petting the animals.

To learn about the maple syrup, the farm had a hayride that collected a group of parents and children. We tried three times to get on the hayride and it was packed each time.

So we ate our picnic lunch and the kids played. Thankfully, the farmer promised to do one last run, even though the play day was over at 12:30.

While we waited for the last wagon, Jack was able to take one last pony ride. This time he ended up on the littlest pony. I can't believe how big he is!

We finally made it onto the hayride. The kids enjoyed riding around different parts of the farm. I loved hearing how the syrup is made.

It was really quite fascinating. I plan to start reading the Little House on the Prairie books to the boys next year and we may have to find some trees to tap on our property.

The entire experience was quite educational – much more than what you would learn just reading about maple syrup in a book.

I think the opportunity to see the trees being tapped, touching and licking the sap straight from the tree, and then tasting and comparing the syrup to other kinds of syrup, is the best way to learn. And the lessons stick!

As we left the farm, Jack was eagerly counting all of the white buckets with tubes attached to the trees.

A few facts that I didn't know:
  • You can tap trees besides Maple – like Sycamore and Walnut.
  • Birds, like woodpeckers, are good indicators of where the good sap is. Just watch for dripping holes on the side of trees in your yard.
  • You need frost at night followed by days that warm up above 40º  for ideal sap flow.

We left with a bottle of local Maple Syrup and new found knowledge. The next morning I made pancakes and we devoured half of the bottle!

The House at Pooh Corner

*all photos of the play via the Youth Theatre at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Facebook page I have written before about our Friend...