Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Picking 2014

With Sukkot already having been so rainy and an imminent threat of severe storms, we gave up camping 2 days early and decided on a whim to drive up to the mountains to go apple picking. We went to our friends' house in Winston for a potluck/birthday party/wedding vow renewal. We figured we were already halfway there, so we found a decent room for $60 in Hickory and spent the night there. After breakfast, we drove the rest of the way to Hendersonville. When we went looking online (literally at 4pm the day before...ha...told you it was last minute and spontaneous) for well reviewed apple picking farms, Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard came up. We were a little late in the season, so it pretty much the tart varieties that we had to choose from. We got some Law Rome, Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Blushing Gold, and Arkansas Black. We picked 3 1/2 bushels and bought another half-bushel of Fuji to round the batch out with some sweet apples. One bushel was for another family that requested them. Our habit is to make applesauce to keep us through the whole year and Rebecca also wants to make apple butter. 
 The first wagonload. Each of those baskets is half a bushel. We wound up filling 7 baskets total.

Of course, the kids ate as many apples as they could while we picked. :)
After apples, we went for a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit and saw some beautiful fall colors. Our spontaneous trip turned into great timing for enjoying our favorite season. Sadly, our camera battery was dead that morning, so we had to make due with the dumbphone's camera. And sadly, I (jeremy) got very ill with a severe case of food poisoning on the way home from the mountains. Not fun. I was sick for the good part of a week.

We caught site of a waterfall along our route. Glassmine Falls. It was a view from a distance but a pretty cool find since it often is dry and not flowing this time of year.

So far we have eaten quite a few apples, made 34 pints of applesauce, and 7 pints of applebutter with another bushel or so left to go... if Irene doesn't eat them all before we get to them. She can frequently be found just grabbing one from the bags to snack on.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sukkot 2014

For the rest of Sukkot, we camped out at our friends' farm in Climax, NC. They have a beautiful new (old) farm that they bought and are homesteading on. Matt and I put up a sukkah the Sunday before and then Kallie, Rebecca and the kids worked on decorating it. On the green penants, the scriptures regarding the celebration of sukkot are written. Kallie had a wonderful vision for this lovely sukkah! This is a family favorite time of year. We love The Feast of Tabernacles AND we love camping. We all (esp Rebecca and the kids) look so forward to camping each year. Sleeping outside, more easy relaxed pace of the days, celebrations and fun, cooking outside, campfires, etc--all really good stuff. It has become such a wonderful tradition.

It was big enough that we could all eat under it. Sadly, it rained almost every evening, so we only got to eat in it as a group one time. While it usually does rain on Sukkot, this year was particularly wet (i mean it rained a lot) so things like the sukkah and our tent were perpetually damp. We didn't even get to have a campfire. But it was a good week nonetheless.
Our kids made Citron (Etrog) suncatchers and foam lanterns in the colors of the Israeli flag in the days leading up to Sukkot to add to the decorations.
"Shabbat Shalom"
One of the traditions of Sukkot is to invite "Ushpizin" to come visit your sukkah. The Ushpizin can be any of the forefathers like Abraham, Jospeh or Moses. In keeping with that tradition, we focused each day on a particular ancestor. Throughout the week, all the kids did crafts based on the various forefathers. We made rainbow wind socks after telling the story of Noah but they got pretty well ruined by the rain shortly after we hung them.
This particular craft was from Moses and the burning bush.

We painted rocks after reading Ex 33:12-23. Moses is interceding for the people and asks God to show his favor and presence on the people. God tells Moses to stand on the rock as he passes by him and puts him in the cleft of the rock and covers him.

This craft was based on Ruth and Boaz, who are ancestors of David and therefore Yeshua. The kids went out into the fields and "gleaned" some of the wildflowers that were growing and made bundles of them. The kids also made hearts after hearing the story of David and learning about his heart for worship and obedience for God. And they learned about Daniel and how he stood up for the truth and prayed to the One True God.
The kids had made pinwheels to put outside our tent as decoration, but sadly, they were pretty well destroyed by the rain. Amazingly they survived the first 3 rains but then couldn't stand anymore. We gave into the poor weather and abandoned our tent and camping on the Tuesday the 6th/7th day of Sukkot. It had rained multiple times that night (and pretty hard) and we woke up to rain and drizzle that morning. We decided to head home to dry off some. And then we even took a very last minute spontaneous trip to the mountains (where the weather was a better than in Greensboro) that night and the next day to pick apples. We had been wanting to do this since Yom Teruah and just hadn't had the opportunity. So we made some last minute arrangements and just went. You will see more about that in the next blogpost.  

The last tradition and highlight for us surrounding Sukkot is the birth of Yeshua. He is God and came to dwell among us for a time. He embodies the Torah and teaches us how to live it. He is our Messiah and we would be no where without the grace and mercy of our Abba God and his son Yeshua. There's a lot of evidence that this is the time of year when he was actually born, so we baked a cake to celebrate his birthday! The end of Sukkot is also the end of the yearly cycle of scripture readings in the Jewish tradition. So we would celebrate that by unrolling and rerolling back of the scroll in a day or so. More about that in an upcoming blogpost too. But Yeshua is the living breathing scriptures. It is all a celebration of God's word and his very being among us. Our connection to God. And we would be no where without that.

 We also did our variation on the Jesse Tree starting about 3 weeks before Sukkot so that we finished on the first night. We talked about the lineage of Messiah Yeshua and the prophecies that he fulfilled as Messiah.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sukkot at VoB

On the first night of Sukkot, we went to our congregation, Valley of Blessing, for the community celebration. They had built a very pretty sukkah complete with hanging fruit. 

Olivia participated in a dance routine that they had rehearsed diligently for 3 months. It was very powerful!

Miss Ashley worked so hard with her dancers to put it all together and we are so thankful she let Olivia be involved!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Olivia's "The Entertainer"

Last Spring at Co-op, Olivia learned about Scott Joplin, who is probably the most famous ragtime composer in history. His song "The Entertainer" has been one of my favorites for many years. The speed and quirky rhythms are really fascinating to me to listen to and Olivia thought so, too. We asked her piano teacher to help Olivia learn it and went through a couple of versions of varying difficulty until we found one that was a challenge, but still within her range.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gabe's Math and Other Schoolwork

Gabriel has been doing Queen Homeschool's Math Lesson for a Living Education this term and has been doing very, very well with it. Like everything by Queen's, it' CM-ish in approach, so there's a story at the beginning of the week followed by 5 lessons related to math topic discussed in the story.  

He works with a "Place Value Village" to help him understand place values like ones, tens and hundreds.
At the end of the week, there's usually a recap page that's in the form of a letter from the children in the story to their parents.

The story weaves in a bot of nature study with the math and talks about things like weather, various animals and life cycles.  One topic was about how plants grow, so he actually had to grow a bean plant. He then had to draw it every day for a week to document its growth. It got quite tall and started flowering in the jar before a mishap caused its demise. 
 For practice, he uses a dry-erase sheet to figure out math problems that we give him. He's gotten to where he's pretty quick with the answers.
However, if he gets stuck, he can use a counting chart to help him.

He's been enjoying the lessons every day. Once we finish this, I think we might try Life of Fred with him to see how he does with that.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Parents Only Weekend!

At the end of September, Rebecca's cousin, Hunter, got married on Emerald Isle, NC. We were blessed to have friends from Valley of Blessing volunteer to stay at our house and watch all 5 kids so we could go alone! We got two whole nights without our children so we could spend time celebrating with Rebecca's cousins and family. Sadly, we didn't bring our camera with us, so we only had our cell phones (not smart phones, btw) to take pictures with. We arrived Friday evening just in time for the Rehersal Dinner at The White Oak River Bistro. Delicious and lovely. We visited with family and ate. My grandparents even made the trip and it was so wonderful to be together. After dinner we sat and visited with Rebecca's cousins on the large porch overlooking the water. We haven't all been together in a really long time (?maybe our wedding 14 years ago even!) so this was a treat. We stayed at a condo on the sound side of Indian Beach with 3 of Rebecca's cousins. So nice! We slept in Saturday morning, read an entire book each, visited the beach, ate pizza, swam/sat at the condo pool, and got ready for the wedding leisurely...this is not the life we are used too at home... :)
 The night of the wedding, we got to see a gorgeous sunset over the sound. The wedding was at The Watson House on Emerald Isle and this picture was taken from the yard.
 And the next morning, we saw it come back up again over the ocean.
We went to the NC Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shores before returning home on Sunday. It was very enjoyable. Overall, we had the most wonderful time enjoying each other's company without interruptions or fights or noise or diapers!

Oh wait! there is one more thing... Hunter and Jenny had a photobooth at their reception so people could get their pics taken and have fun with them. They had all kinds of silly costumes and things. We did go in once by ourselves, though we didn't opt for the crazy stuff.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur 2014

Hear that?

It's time for the Fall Festivals again! As always, the season starts with Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. It is a day of shouting or blowing the shofar in rememberance and looking forward to the return our King Messiah. It begins the month of Tishri, a month to examine ourselves and prepare our hearts. To celebrate the day, the kids made their own shofars from paper and noise-makers. We attended a service a our community center and heard the different traditional shofar sounds. It is a very upbeat and fun service with lots of shofar blasting and wonderful worship.


 Then we baked an apple and honey cake and cut out various shapes like shofars and torah scrolls. We also had pomegranates, apples and honey.

 As fun as it was to play, it was even better to eat!
 Then the kids made their own crown-shaped paper mache challah loaves.

 Finally we took a walk to Lake Brandt in preparation for Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. 
 It's traditional (Tashlich) to throw crumbs of bread into the water as you confess your sins to symbolize how our sins are as far removed from us as East is from the West. We read Micah 7:19.

While we know that Yeshua paid the ultimate price for those sins, the symbolism of watching those pieces of bread slowly float away from us still holds a great deal of meaning and power. We do sin and we are held accountable for those sins and yet even more so, we are forgiven if we ask. It is with grateful hearts that we worship the One True God who loves and forgives us in the midst of our shortcomings.