Friday, June 29, 2012

American Heritage Girls Camp

 A few days after Peanut's birthday the girls and I packed up for our second American Heritage Girls camp.  We camped at our favorite place, Michigan Christian Youth Camp in Attica, Michigan.  This is the same camp my girls attend for summer camp and is merely a 30 minute drive from us.  When we arrived on Friday night we got the younger girls set up in the dorms while Sissy began setting up our tent.  

The Pioneers were camping in tents to continue to work on their camping badge.  This is where I would be sleeping as well since I am a Pioneer leader.  As it turned out, I ended up in the dorm.  Now, don't be thinking, "OOOH, you are one lucky girl to have been able to get out of sleeping in the tent!"  The reality of it is that Sweet Baby has been having a hard time being away from me and she couldn't sleep.  So...I ended up IN her bed.  Trust me, sleeping outside in the tent would have been more comfortable!  Those beds are not made for comfort and they certainly were not made for 2 people!!

We started the night with unpacking and then moved to the fire for smores, popcorn, campfire songs and a devotional.

As the girls were getting ready for bed I was helping wipe the crusted marshmallow of Sweet Baby's cheek when her tooth fell out.  No worries, it was very loose so it was time for it to fall out.
The next morning the younger girls all headed to the lodge for breakfast.  The tenters began cooking their own breakfast.  We made simple egg mcmuffins and had fresh fruit.  Here Sissy is lighting the grill that we would be using.

Now, I know this isn't the best picture, and you may be thinking - hmmmm, is this really worth seeing?  But for me, it is.  This is one of the only pictures I have of Sissy at camp.  Shortly after breakfast, within about 15 minutes of eating she said she wasn't feeling well.  She skipped horseback riding (which was so hard for her because she had been looking SO forward to riding) and she sat through about 15 minutes of the outdoor skills ramblings before she ended up in a dorm in a bed.  After about 2 hours of laying down, hoping it would pass, we ended up calling dad to pick her up.  Poor girl missed all of camp!  This is especially sad because she is my girl that LOVES to camp.  She looks so forward to each outing and was very upset that she missed it all.

After Sissy left I was able to sneak away 2 times to see how my other girls were doing and try to get some pictures of them enjoying camp.  Here Sweet Baby is at the Adventure Challenge.  This course required the girls to use teamwork and problem solving skills to complete.  In this challenge the girls had to get from one platform to another using various boards that were not attached.  Don't you love those shoes??? Sweet Baby forgot her shoes and luckily one of the other girls brought a second pair - groovy!

I ran into Peanut toward the end of the day while they were working on some Outdoor Skills requirements.  They were learning how to read a compass.

At the end of camp I asked the girls what their favorite part was.  I was shocked when this horse lover did not say, "Horseback riding!"  Instead she said, "I loved learning how to use a compass."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Birthday

Peanut turned 10 a few weeks ago...TEN.  It continues to amaze me that my girls are growing up.  I have a 13 year old, 10 year old and 8 year old.  I remember the days when they were 2 and we were trying so hard to determine what they were saying, what they wanted....I remember thinking,"I can't wait for them to grow up."  What a mistake.  Although I love my girls so much, I wish I could go back and steal just one more ABC song, one more rock in the rocking chair, one more walk with the stroller.

OK...enough of the sappiness on to the fun.  We don't do ridiculous birthday gifts around here.  There is very little my girls need and we do not need more junk around the house.  I always struggle with gifts for them.  Peanut really wanted an alarm clock of her own, that is what is in this package.

My girls LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Adventures in Odyssey and when I was at our local homeschool convention in May, I scored a deal on a couple sets.  Sissy, who can listen to Adventures in Odyssey for HOURS, was really excited to be able to give her sister this gift.

The smile this child has lights up her whole face, her blue eyes have always been something that could draw me in.  Of course, all of our kids have different personalities, but this one, this girl has the most amazing spirit of joy and it is one that I envy. she is...ten candles on her cake/brownie.  SIGH..where has the time gone?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Service and a Haircut

The girls were able to serve at our local Relay For Life.  They helped with the opening ceremonies by standing with the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance and then walking in front of the crowd during the opening lap. 

Two years ago Sissy donated her hair at Relay for Life, ever since she did Sweet Baby has talked about donating her hair at Relay.  Here is a shot of her in the beginning of the day.

She was so excited to be able to donate her hair.  This was going to be the second time she would have donated.  The first time she was 5 and donated 12 inches.  This time she had a little less to give.  Her ponytail measured 10 inches.

After getting her hair cut she got a feather extension, just for fun.  Isn't it the cutest cut?

The Survivor Dinner is usually outside under a tent so the girls got to work wiping down the tables before the Survivor Ceremony started.

GOLLY - she looks so cute I could just eat her up!

About 10 minutes before we started cleaning up and getting ready for the ceremony, the sky got really dark and the wind picked up even more than it had been blowing all day long.  The girls were supposed to wait at the end of the track and pass out pins to all the survivors as they crossed the finish line.  Here Sweet Baby and her BFFL were standing waiting when the rain came!  Like true AHG troopers, they stood there in the blowing rain until I reached them and pulled them under an awning.  I wonder how long they would have stood there if someone had not re-directed them.

The weather got so bad, the wind kicked up so much it actually blew the tops off the tents!  It was quite scary.  Thankfully, Relay for Life is held in the parking lot of our local high school.  Someone was able to get the building opened so we moved all the food to the cafeteria and the girls were still able to serve dinner.

I love having the girls working in their own community, there is service to be done everywhere - whether it be collecting shoes for orphans overseas or serving dinner to cancer survivors in our own town.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Happenings

We are smack dab in the middle of summer.  I love summer.  Not the Michigan heat or humidity but rather the freedom in our schedule.  I love being able to sleep in, I love not having to worry about school subjects, I love random phone calls for get togethers.  I just love summer.

Summer is not completely laid back around here, it seems like the calendar is always filling with something.

The day after we returned from our vacation our American Heritage Girls troop was serving at a local 5K Memorial Day race and marching in a parade.  Sadly Sweet Baby ended up not feeling well the last 2 days of our trip, so she was not able to participate in the parade.  It was terribly hot that day but we still had fun.

Here the girls are lined up to help a local boy scout troop with the flag ceremony before the race began.

As the runners came in they girls were passing out medals to each participant.  

The race was early in the day and the parade was around 6 pm.  After the race we went home to relax and cool off in the house.  We made sure we had water bottles in the fridge and ready for the parade since we knew it was going to be a hot evening.  

We loaded our wagon complete with homemade signs on the sides and back, cooler inside with water for the kids and flags taped to it  and headed to the parade route.  The girls all lined up complete with a banner we had made for the front of the procession, bags of candy to pass out to people along the route and fliers all about AHG.

Since we knew that most of the girls would want to be passing out candy, and we didn't have enough bags for each girl, we gave some of the girls little flags to hold, paired up a younger girl with an older girl and had them switch on and off.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the day. 

Up until recently Peanut has not been my child who seems to have an inherent "nurturing" streak.  She usually avoids babies, toddlers and preschoolers and pretty much just sticks to hanging with kids her own age.  However, lately, I've seen a change in her.  I'm sure part of it is growing up and maturing, part of it may be watching her older sister dote on little ones and mother them.  Either way, it was sweet to see her, as an Explorer, grab onto the hand of one of our newest Pathfinders and walk with her.  Another thing I love so much about this program - the little ones being mentored by the older ones and the pride the older ones get as they are looked up to.  In my house, our oldest takes the reigns on most things and it is made very clear to her siblings that she is the oldest.  In this program, my other two get to be the big kids, and I love that!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Continued Hiking and a Birthday

Here are some more pictures from our stop at Fall Creek Falls.  This is one of  my favorites from the entire trip.  I love how the girls are gazing out at the mountains with the little waterfall in the background.

One thing that amazed us at this park was the lack of  safety railings.  While it certainly did make us feel like we had discovered some new, it made this mom incredibly anxious having her girls hanging out near the edge of cliffs with no railings.  

We discovered a suspension bridge that went out across a VERY deep gorge.  Here is a photo that  Sissy took from the bridge of mom and Sweet Baby.  She was hoping the photo would communicate exactly how high up we were, but all it really shows you is the beauty of what the mountain was made of - rock, lots of rock.  It was amazing.

Daddy is afraid of heights so it was quite a stretch for him to even attempt the suspension  bridge, but honestly, he knew he had happened upon something that was amazing, so he tried it.  He only got about half way across before he had to turn back.  Sissy and Peanut really wanted to try to make it all the way across so I went with them.  It was awesome.

After our walk across the bridge and back, we continued hiking a bit more.  Here is a shot of the girls and I.  

I love these shots, they really shows you what the terrain was like.  LOTS of rock, LOTS of roots.  It was a very invigorating walk to say the least.  Daddy and I really enjoy hiking, Peanut usually gets excited when we say we are going to hike, but the other two usually groan.  They did agree though, that this was one beautiful place to see.  Someday I'd like to go back and spend a couple days exploring.

We made our way back to the condo and slept really well that night.  The next day was Sweet Baby's birthday.  She isn't a baby anymore!  She turned 8 while we were in Tennessee.  We gave her the choice of driving into Knoxville to go to the zoo (where they had elephants, her favorite animal) or spending the day at the condo for swimming and mini golf.  She chose sticking close to home.  The morning was lovely so daddy wanted another hike.  We drove just 15 minutes from our condo for an hour or so hike.  

As we came out of the woods we were underneath a bridge which mom found cool since it had many arches made of brick.  It fit in really well with our study this year - roman arches was one of the things we talked about.

We returned back to the condo for lunch and presents.  The sad thing was that at this point Sweet Baby began not feeling well..she spent the rest of her day in bed - no swimming, no mini golf and only a smidgen of cake.  Unfortunately she spent the remainder of our trip not feeling well.  Poor girl!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stalagtites, Stalagmites, Waterfalls and a Panic Attack

 What a thrill we had when we discovered that about an hour and a half from us was a cave system we would be able to explore!  We were about to drive to Cumberland Caverns.  Now, why does the sign say "Home of the Bluegrass Underground"?  Because this cave has one room in it that is so large, they actually hold concerts in it!

As a teenager I remember going to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and thinking it was pretty amazing.  I thought the girls might enjoy it and for the most part I was right (don't you love to be right?).  Peanut and Sissy enjoyed it the most with Peanut being incredibly fascinated with it.  Sweet Baby liked it well enough but it was this day that we again learned something about our youngest (I'll share that later).

It was a pretty typical cave system with stalactites, stalagmites and all the cave formations that you see anywhere else.  Learning about how caves are formed as well as the various cave formations was an optional badge requirement for the Geology badge so the girls were checking off a few requirements for American Heritage Girls.

There were several places where we had to climb many stairs.  At one point we climbed pretty high and came to an area with benches where we could sit and take a rest.  In addition to just sitting for a few minutes there was a "light show" to watch, which was an audio presentation about the creation of the world and on occasion a light would shine on a part of the cave wall.  We learned that Sweet Baby does NOT like dark places.  She was sitting in between her dad and I when they turned off all the lights - you have NEVER seen dark like this before!  As the audio presentation continued Sweet Baby began breathing heavy and crying and saying, "I want to get out.  I don't want to be here."  I believe we witnessed her first panic attack!  Poor girl!

After enjoying the caves we headed back to Fairfield Glade.  We had checked the map and discovered that there was as state park not to far from Cumberland Caves that had a waterfall so we decided to stop there. I am SO glad we did.  We made our way to Fall Creek Falls (pretty original name huh?  I wonder if the person who made the swing at the tree house came up with that one.)

Even though it began sprinkling when we arrived, we were still able to enjoy the beauty of this park.  The road had us winding our way up the mountains.  Our first stop had us on the top of the mountain allowing us this beautiful view of the mountain tops and steam that was collecting at the top.

The only way this could be more beautiful would be into see it in the fall (my favorite season).  When we looked at this we could hear rushing water, turned to our right and were completely amazed to see this...

Now, I've seen waterfalls before.  Last year we took the kids to Taqhamanon Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I have been to Niagara Falls, but this...this was just amazing.  Here it sat - no crowds (we were the only ones there), no commercialism around it, with an amazing was awesome.

After enjoying the falls, we decided to take a little hike.  I'll share pictures of that in the next post.