Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ezra--4months old

Our littlest one is now 4 moths old. He is very interactive and has a sweet personality. He looks are serious and knowing to a smile that lights up his whole face. He swings his hands around a lot and grabs things that come into his range. He likes to grab his toes. He "chews" on anything he can put into his mouth. He is rolling all over the floor. His siblings can make him smile and laugh easily. He enjoys watching them. Of course, his laugh is so precious, like his smile! He has taken to rolling on his tummy to sleep sometimes. It can make him kinda mad as I think he does it unexpectedly and wakes himself up. He has a big bottom lip (although I haven't been able to catch it in a picture). :) I am not the super sympathetic sort, so I tend to laugh at him while I am comforting him. I guess that's what happens when you are number 3, or maybe I was always that way. :) Thank you, God for blessing us with this sweet child!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Patterson Farm field trip

We joined some friends and were "farmers for the day". We went to the Learn & Grow Discovery Farm at Patterson Farms. It was a lot of fun! The people of Patterson Farm want to help the kids understand how their food gets to the table - from the farmer and not just the grocery store. First the kids gathered in the barn and had to pretend to put on their overalls and boots. They each received a basket for the work ahead.

Our first "early morning" stop was to feed the animals.

After the butterfly garden, we headed out to the bee hives to learn about caring for them and harvesting honey. The kids collected a honey bear for their basket.

Then we headed to the "apple orchard" to pick apples for our baskets.

Next was the chicken coops. We gathered some eggs into our baskets.

Then we headed to the milking barn. They had a cow milking simulation for the kids to try out. We gathered a carton of milk for our baskets.

Our next stop was to the garden to pick produce. They had strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, and pumpkins.

The kids got to dig in the dirt and plant their own seed. Then our last stop was to the the composting area.

We then turned in the items in our basket at the farmer's market for $1 that we then bought ice cream with. It was a nice cool treat after so much work. :) For fun, we got to ride some miniature farm equipment and then headed to the play area.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvesting Corn

While we were in Williamsburg, we saw that harvesting food meant days of back-breaking work, doing it all by hand. Last Saturday, we got the opportunity to see how it's done today. My co-worker, Donnie, spent many years as a farmer in Alamance County, NC. He used to grow corn, wheat, soybeans and tobacco. While he no longer farms, he still helps out friends by running their combine during harvest season. This year, he's helping a friend harvest feed corn, which will be sold to feed either deer or livestock, and he invited us out to see how it's done.

We were rather surprised at the size of this thing. Even though we had looked at pictures, they don't really give you a sense of just how big it really is. And this is a relatively small one! This one will harvest 4 rows at a time, pulling the stalks into the "chains", where the ears are popped loose of the stalk and often right out of the husks. The auger then feeds the ears into the heart of the combine, where it strips off any remaining husks and pops the kernels free of the cob. Somehow, the kernels are separated from the husks and cobs and tossed up into a bin behind the driver. Everything else is spit back out the back end and left on the ground.

Olivia was excited to find a cob among the rows.

Now, I'm no corn expert, so I can't really give any more info than my own observations. This corn wasn't like the stuff you buy on the cob in the store. It was hard and dry on the cob. The stalks were also very dry and stood 8 feet tall or more. Some were as tall as the combine!

The owner of the field only wanted us to harvest about 150-200 bushels, since that's what he can sell in a week selling it as deer corn. He could sell more as feed for livestock, but he gets at least $1 more per bushel selling it to hunters. When we got there, Donnie and his grandson had already harvested about 100 bushels and were getting ready to make another pass. We all (except for his grandson) piled into the cab of the combine and Donnie started down the row. It was pretty loud, but thankfully, it wasn't too bad. There was also air conditioning, so it didn't get ridiculously hot in there. It was amazing to see the beast in action. It just plowed through the corn like nothing.

Once we'd finished half the field, Donnie pulled up next to the trailer, extended the elevator arm and started offloading the corn. It only took about 5 minutes to offload and fill the trailer. Olivia had just a wonderful time and thought the whole things was really neat and "It wasn't so loud that I had to cover my ears."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What happens when you get locked into the state park?

Well, fortunately we didn't find out. :) But we cut it really close! A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Jeremy met us there after work, since he was working in the area. It's a lovely place. We went in on the south side. Jeremy and I went there a fair amount when we lived in the Cary area years ago. We also lived over by the north entrance for a year and enjoyed that just as much.

But, back to the story. So we had a picnic dinner. Then we went for a hike down the wooded trail to the Company Mill site. There are tons of rocks/boulder along the creek and remnants of an old dam long-since fallen into the water. There is even a small "waterfall" of sorts created by these rocks. We found ourselves having fun as the sun was setting and realized that we were going to cut it close getting back to our cars before the park closed. And they lock the gates so we would have been stuck. We hauled it out of there. I am proud to say that Olivia did an amazing job basically power walking up hill for over a mile with us. At one point, I carried both boys and JR put Olivia on his shoulders. The good news is that we made it out (with 5 minutes to spare) and had a great time! We did talk about what we would do for the night on our way back up the trail. :)

One of the reasons for going on this hike besides pleasure was Olivia's bible lessons for the last couple of weeks. The name of Jesus that we are talking about right now is Rock. Our memory verses: Deuteronomy 32:4 - He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!  Matthew 7:24 -“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock." Jesus is the firm foundation that we can build our lives on. He is the best foundation for our lives. Our science the first week also had to do with the earth being made up of metal and rocks. So Jeremy talked to her about the "softness" of some rocks versus the "hardness" of others. We took paper and crayons and did some rock rubbings. We found some quartz rock on our hike. They put a few pieces of that in a paper tube and shined a light through it. Olivia has had a thing for collecting rocks for a couple years so this was a very enjoyable lesson for her. We talked about how the water and other elements wear away at the rocks but that God is rock that can't be changed or broken.

Here is a picture of her house built on the rock...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jamestown Settlement and Indian Village

This was probably our favorite day. The things we saw went right along with our recent homeschool studies of early pioneers and indians. Therefore, it seems most applicable to Olivia.

We visited the minaturized Indian village. Olivia got to see a wigwam. She got to try her hand a making tools from bone, scraping animal skins, and pratice her accuracy with a "spear".

Then we went inside for a class similar to yesterday. It was taught by Mrs. M from William and Mary again. This one was on indian life and was just as hands on.

Gabe tried on an animal skin to cammouflage himself for hunting. :)

Next we headed out to the Jamestown Fort. Outside the fort was the riverfront with the three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. I must say I can't imagine coming across the Atlantic Ocean in something so small. Those were brave people!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The Yorktown Victory Center had a great museum. Or so it looked! :) It is definitely more geared to older children and adults. Jeremy and I would like to have had some time to enjoy this part but it just didn't work out. It was hot and the kids were a bit restless after just half a day here. But they did have some great smaller children's activities.

Our first stop was to a 1780s dress up room.

"A musket, you must use" :)

Then Olivia took a class given by Mrs. M from William and Mary. It was on colonial life and was a very hands on class. The rest of us got to sit in with her.

Olivia's favorite part of "colonial life" was the toys of course. She was really proud of herself when she got the top spinning and moving on the slate board.

Outside they had a farm set up with costumed people to help you understand life in that time. We toured the small farm house, its separate kitchen (because the smoke from the fires was not something you would want in your house), and the grounds. Like I said it was hot, so we cut this a little short. Olivia did enjoy trying her hand at the laundry. Gabe even helped out. They also had a battlefield encampment set up but we decided against visiting this part of the museum.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunrise in Yorktown

Jeremy and I really enjoy getting up early to view a sunrise on the beach. We haven't done this in a long time. Actually, I like an early morning sunrise just about anywhere. I think the air is fresh and still quiet. It's a great way to start the day. This vacation brought us close to a east facing waterway (not a beach but it would do). So we decided to give our kids the experience with us. We went down the Colonial Parkway towards Yorktown and pulled off to see the sunrise. It was beautiful. The kids played in the sand while JR and I watched the sun rise. So now you can enjoy a beautiful sunrise too...

Psalm 30:5 (Amplified) - For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 19:1 (NLT) - The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.