Friday, September 30, 2011

New York City Day 2

Each day in New York I was so mindful of the fact that this whole entire trip was such a lovely gift from God to me. I savored all the beauty, the new experiences, the good food, and the chance to have a complete break from my hectic life.

Saturday morning, sitting in my pajamas for hours, reading a book was certainly a big treat! Later we headed back to the Cloisters to explore the park grounds and stop for brunch.

There is a beautiful cafe called New Leaf on the grounds of the Cloisters, and this is where we ordered our brunch.

I loved the light elegance of the place -- everyone around us enjoying a leisurely Saturday brunch in the warmth of the early autumn weather, windows open and breeze blowing.

I ordered duck confit hash with eggs and grits.

Christy ordered french toast with sauteed bananas, Vermont maple syrup and the best sausages ever!!! (We split our orders between us)

We found this sight a very odd one to behold in Manhattan:

And another strange sight, though apparently quite common: check out the galoshes!

After brunch we headed downtown to Central Park. What a delightful place!

We met up with Christy's boyfriend, David, who kindly agreed to provide supplies for us to do watercolors.

I never take time to paint, but dream of the day when I will. Somehow it felt right to paint on vacation. Such an extravagant use of time could be justified.

We all enjoyed ourselves.......

And then we stopped to watch some street performers:

before heading to our next adventure. I made sure to stop at a Goodwill store in the city. Lovely on the outside, disappointing on the inside. Prices are at least double there and women's coats were up to $35!!! I did not see anything exciting or worth a lot of money.

Dinner was had at Alice's Tea Cup -- a proper British tea.

The food was scrumptious: warm from the oven pumpkin, buttermilk, and salted caramel chocolate chip scones; salmon sandwiches, curried chicken sandwiches, mocha cake, five kinds of cookies, and pots of tea for each of us.

We ended the evening at the New York City ballet!!! What a treat it was and it made my trip seem so authentic!

Oh yes, there is always the subway ride home late at night afterward.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New York City Day 1

I'm back from my amazingly wonderful weekend in New York City!!!! Michael was so kind to let me go and he did a terrific job taking care of the kids.

I arrived Friday morning in New York and took the bus and subway to my friend's apartment. Christy was my host. We graduated highschool (homeschool) together and have actually managed to travel a bit overseas together as well (Greece, Turkey and Scotland). However, it's been a long time since we had more than a few hours to visit.

We were both soaking wet after the very short walk from the subway to apartment in the torrential rain that hit the city. Ordering lunch in was a good option. Christy's favorite is from a Dominican restaurant and it was delicious! Rice, beans, chicken, avocado, and plantains two different ways.

We decided to brave the rain and made our way through upper Manhattan trying to keep our two selves dry under one little black umbrella. Christy took me to the Cloisters -- a museum of religious art from Europe and grounds covered in beautiful gardens, including a "Heather Garden".

There were many varieties, including one human:

The building was beautiful and incorporated many things brought over from Europe in the structure itself.

It was funny being in New York City and looking at the very kinds of things we had seen together on our overseas travels.

The flowers in the middle of the square Cloister area were so lovely:

Stained glass, tapestries, statues, funerary statues, and paintings filled the building.

I actually made it into a handful of pictures on this trip!!!

More of the heather garden:

Friday evening we ordered pizza in and watched a movie set in Germany during WWII. I started working on a sweater which I'm sample knitting for Christina. It was a good way to start the weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Off to the Big City!

I am off to New York City for the weekend!!! ALL BY MYSELF! I can hardly believe it! I've been selling biscotti to a local restaurant and saving my money and now I'm off! I'm going to be staying with a friend I graduated highschool with and can't wait to explore the city!

On the list is Purl Soho -- an amazing knit shop, Once Upon a Tart -- a cafe whose cookbook I love, and definitely Central Park.

Can't wait to tell you all about it next week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remembering 10 Years

This past Saturday marked the 10 year anniversary of our arrival in Scotland. We had scones and crumpets with dinner and talked about our memories.

Rachel was a baby and we left the states just 5 days after 9/11 -- a bit of a scary time to move overseas.

The early years of our children's lives were spent in this little house -- in fact, two of them were actually born at home here.

Hopefully one day we will make it back for a visit!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Magic Kingdom

Recently I've thought a lot about imagination, partly because I used to think my imagination wasn't that great, compared with someone like Anne of Green Gables or others like her. But then I started thinking about it and realizing just how much I actually do use my imagination.

A friend recently moved away and left me her pass to Eagle Creek park, which is just a mile or so down the road from me. I had no idea what a gift it was! Now, any time I fancy I can drive in the park and step into another world -- a magic kingdom of sorts. All is quiet and peaceful, there are no buildings, no traffic, everything is green and growing. If I want, we can go for a hike in the woods, or around part of the reservoir.

In the park I can imagine myself somewhere else: Scotland, Maine, Europe.......

We can enjoy nature and discover new things.

(Like this amazing tree that is hundreds and hundreds of years old. The first marker viewable towards the top marks the Revolutionary War!!)

One of the best things about the park is that I can drive through it and end up almost right at my sister's doorstep. It's like one of those secret passages I always longed to find as a child.

The beauty of imagination is that it can help one to be content in the setting one finds oneself in. The danger of imagination is when you refuse to be present in your circumstances and use imagination to escape reality in a harmful way. So, don't let yourself think imagination is only for children! Brighten up your day by enjoying what you are surrounded by.

Lingering Beauty

There is still much lingering beauty in my garden. My mom so kindly picks and arranges flowers for us when she comes on Sundays.

This bouquet has been brightening our days all week. Doesn't it look like spring instead of fall?

Life is very full. Homeschooling is keeping me going from dawn til dusk and then I'm ready to do something relaxing (not sit in front of the computer screen).

I need to go finish my household chores and then the work will be done for the week! Sunday is tomorrow! A day of rest and refreshment for the week ahead!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Andrew Turns 9

Andrew turned 9 last week! He woke up to find this raccoon getting into the birthday candy.

Andrew went for breakfast with Michael and then had presents to open once he finished his school work. He requested cupcakes and ice-cream in the evening with the neighborhood friends.

It was a perfect evening. We had vanilla gluten-free cupcakes, and regular chocolate cupcakes. Through a long series of events, it looks like Andrew needs to be gluten-free. So, we are learning the ropes and trying to make sure Andrew has eating options.

Happy Birthday dear Andrew......

oh yum!

Laura is getting to know the new puppy in the neighborhood. I was very mindful that it was a year ago on Andrew's birthday that we began to find out the problems Laura had. How thankful we are that a year later she is doing so well!!!! She is still followed by six different specialists at Riley but we rejoice that each time we go in for a checkup they are pleased with her progress.

Yes, these two are the babies on the block.

And here are the friends:

I loved being 9. I hope Andrew has just as much fun as I did.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Books We Enjoy

I promised a friend a list of some of our favorite children's books and thought I would just post it here.

I've been using Read for the Heart to give me new ideas on books to check out of the library for the children.

In no specific order, here are some of our most-enjoyed books:

Little Women
Chronicles of Narnia
Little House on the Prairie series
Anne of Green Gables series
Billy and Blaze series
Milly Molly Mandy series
Secret Garden
The Little Princess
American Girl Doll book series
Wind in the Willows
Happy Hollisters series
Carry on Mr. Bowditch
Sugar Creek Gang series
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series
Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley and other books by Marguerite Henry, especially:
Misty of Chincoteague
Abigail (by Portia Howe Sperry)
By Freedom's Light (O'Maley)
Captured (by Mary Blair Immel) (these last three pertain to Indiana history)
Diary of an Early American Boy
Wolves of Willoughby Chase series (by Joan Aiken, our new favorite author)
Bears of Blue River
Growing Up in Indiana
Johnny Tremain
Witch of Blackbird Pond
Miss Hickory
Miss Pickerel series
Pippi Longstocking
Raiders from the Sea series
Ollies Cabin in the Woods
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
Trumpet of the Swan
Boxcar Children series
Magic Tree House series
The Little series

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Knitted Lobster

My latest knitting project was this little lobster, knit for cousin John to take on his trip north to Maine. As with most toy knitting, there are lots of little fiddly parts that have to be sewn together, but overall it was an easy knitting project with a cute result. You can find the project here on Ravelry.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back to School

We started school last week. Here are the crazy students. I am the crazy teacher. We have entered a new level of homschooling, one I had only heard about before.

This year I have four separate grades to deal with, which has made for a lot more work. I do group the children together for science and history, so I am only teaching two different groups in that category.

I've started planning my weeks out in advance, writing out the exact pages to be done each day, any extra projects, what books will be read each week, etc. It's a lot of work at the end of the week, but it does make the next week flow quite smoothly. Rachel and Andrew each get an assignment book with each day's assignments listed.

We start the day with Assembly where we are doing memorization, timeline, songs (like the national anthem, and the president's list), skip counting and reading aloud. Then Rachel and Andrew get time for math drills and for correcting the previous days work. For the most part, they are able to work on their own after that.

James and David come back to the table to read aloud and have their lessons together before I take time to work with each one on their schoolbooks. Right now it's taking at least 3 solid hours to get this done, with the older ones finishing some things in the afternoon. We don't get started on school until chores are finished at 9:30, so we are working right into the lunch hour. Then there are days like yesterday where we still had quite a bit to do in the afternoon. And then there is the constant, all-day-long checking on chores to be done, schoolwork to be finished, piano to be practiced, toys to be cleaned up. Maybe that's what makes it all seem just a tad overwhelming!

This week was certainly better than last week, but I think it's going to be a very full year. I'm so glad we aren't playing soccer this fall and I'm trying to look for ways to keep our schedule to a minimum so we can concentrate on school.

We have had a lot of fun so far, even if it's been a lot of work. Last night we made "edible cells" to go with our anatomy lesson. And the little boys have done a craft project or two that they enjoyed. We always enjoy reading aloud together and the neighborhood moms have banned together to create a 7:45 p.m. curfew so now my kids can actually have some time for reading aloud before bed.

I'm still excited about the school year, if not a bit overwhelmed at the work it is going to take. Hopefully the work will pay off and the children will learn a lot!