Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our 1st Big E experience

We have lived in Connecticut for 14 years and had never attended the infamous New England Exhibition called The Big E til yesterday {Monday}!  We decided to take the kids this year because I have always wanted to go and we haven't done any local fairs in a couple years!  We bought our tickets at Big Y to avoid waiting in lines when we got there, but the lines actually weren't that bad at all.  {But I can see how this tip would be useful on a busy weekend!}

Parking was easy and well organized.
We got the kids bracelets for the rides so we didn't have to worry about tickets or how many times they went on something!  The lines were pretty much non-existent for the kid rides and it was awesome! Colin stayed on one ride 3 times!  haha!
Pop a wheelie!
Poor kid didn't have a clue... He got on the motorcycle backwards!  I laughed so hard!!!  In his defense, it does seem safer to hold that taller bar!  haha!

The people there were friendlier than I remember from any fair I've EVER gone to and they seemed to be more attractive and clean cut too!  haha!  {Just an observation from this people watcher!}  The kids had a good time on the rides and there were many to choose from!
Just some of the rides!  Click photo to enlarge!
The biggest problem we ran into was because of the ages and heights of OUR kids.  Vienna was too tall for some of the kiddie rides.  She was exactly 54" tall {max height for some kiddie rides} so it depended on the ride and operator if she was able to go on.  And poor Colin was too short!  At 4 years old he's on the small size and was 2 inches too short for the fun houses, submarine, or spinning dragons unless he was with an adult!  So he cried and was disappointed.
Vienna was too tall and Colin was too short!
We did our best to manage the rides but I would have preferred going with friends so the kids wouldn't be alone!  {Jay or I could have gotten a bracelet and tickets to go on with him, but there was enough for him to do and we already spent so much money.  It was just hard have the mix of ages as we do.}
My thoughts:  This section of the Big E is ideal for 6-8 year olds!  They are big enough to go on all the rides without an adult and still young enough to enjoy the thrill of the kiddie rides!  Lance was the ideal age!

I went on the dragon with Colin.  Vienna and Lance behind us.
Also just to say... there were a couple fun house operators that let Colin go with Vienna!  They had many of them and I asked at each one with 2 yes's and 5 no's!!!  A couple were just a simple obstacle that a 4 year old could easily do!   I wouldn't let a 2 year old go in with the moving floors but Colin is steady on his feet - just short!!  I thanked those guys a lot!  Totally made Colin's day!

Colin, Daddy and I waited while Vienna and Lance went on the bumper cars.  Lance made me laugh because he just drove in circles!  So fun to watch them try to figure it out!!!  We really enjoyed so many firsts this day!

On the flipside, Vienna was able to go on the bigger rides but she is only 9 and wasn't quite ready to go on them all.  Some scared her and some she wanted us to go with her.  Someone gave us tickets {how nice!} so I escorted Colin on the Dragon roller coaster and I went with V on a fun spinning roller coaster.  Jay went on the Polar Express with Vienna which was a fav of mine growing up!  My Mom loved going on rides and I remember she and I going on this one!
The FAST Polar Express.  Jay in sunglasses with V beside him.
We went to the State Buildings in search for the glorious good food people told me about.  Oh did we eat!  Between us all we had a lobster roll, pulled pork and beans, corn dogs, samosas, cotton candy, whoopie pies, popcorn, fried dough, deep fried Almond Joy, and we shared a snow cone!!  Good thing my smart-always-prepared husband brought water for us to drink!

The Connecticut building had a Lego play area!  The kids really enjoyed that but otherwise they were pretty uninterested in the crowded State buildings.  I can see this being much more fun if I went without kids.

We explored the Farm-a-rama building and I could have stayed in there a lot longer than we did because I love animals!  Colin took a break to watch the veggie show.  Sometimes I forget that we have a 4 year old and he likes stuff like this, whereas the older two don't care as much.  Look how tired he was...

The Newman boys watched the veggie show while Vienna and I walked around to see the piglets and chick hatchery.  It was a great set up but the kids were anxious to play games so we didn't linger in here long.  They ended up bringing home medium sized stuff toys that they were so happy to win!  Vienna got a panda bear, Lance a furby and Colin, a stuffed Lego man!
Lego Man came in handy as a pillow while waiting for siblings on rides!
After the games, we did more rides and then we went to the 7pm circus.  I didn't take any pics so this is from their Facebook page:

The acts were ok and sadly, many people got up and left early.  Jay and I thought thought it was rude but we enjoyed what we could.  I don't attend circuses with wild animals but they had cats and dogs doing tricks.  I loved the acrobats and the funny clown who was throughout the show.  He made us laugh a lot!
pic I took before going to the circus
After we came out of the circus, the Midway was all lit up and pretty!  After spending 8 hours at the Big E, we were pooped and it was time to head home.  I didn't get any pics of the circus or lights because I was carrying Colin who was exhausted!

We had a great family day with lots of fun but overall, I wouldn't recommend The Big E if you have kids the same ages as mine: 9, 7 & 4.  Just do your local fairs til they get older and save yourself some money.  I think it would be a blast to go to the Big E on a date though!  We never made it to the craft vendors or the horse shows and many, many other things they offer!  There is definitely a lot to do and I'm glad we had the chance to check it out!  We needed the family time together and thoroughly enjoyed that!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

We were that family

My husband and I went to the beach on Labor Day.  Our kids played in the water and sand while we sat on our comfy chairs relaxing and taking it all in. 
Sept 2014
I like to people-watch and I was particularly taken with a young family.  Mom was pregnant and she and husband doted on their 2 year old daughter.  I watched them walk along the beach, play in the water, build sandcastles and go eat a picnic lunch together.
I had revelation. 

We were that family.  
Picnic lunch summer 2007.
And time has quickly passed and here we are.
We went to the beach with no stroller, no sippy cups, no cheerios and puffs, and no diapers.

My thoughts drifted… thinking how different it is…
I no longer have to watch the clock for nap times and meltdowns.
A tired lil Lancer. 2009.
I don’t need to carry around bibs, nursing pads, burp clothes, baby wipes, special spoons and pureed food anymore.

When I was in the thick of sippy cups and spit up, I remember wishing for relief.  I was told that it doesn’t get easier, just different and that is sooooooo true.  Although raising school-aged kids is less physically exhausting, I am more drained emotionally and feel just as beat up at the end of the day!

My kids are 9, 7 & 4 and we are in another phase of life.
Yes, I sleep through the night.  The kids can get their own snacks and drinks.  And every day they are moving towards more independence.  But we have plenty of new challenges that keep me praying to God for strength to get through the day!

But what would I like to say to that couple on the beach with a toddler and another on the way?
Enjoy the simplicity. 
Enjoy the smiles of new discovery. 
Enjoy the big diaper butt waddling as they find their footing.
Enjoy the dimpled hands and soft skin. 
Enjoy the adoration they have for you. 
Enjoy that YOU are their whole world.
Enjoy the possibilities.
Enjoy the morning cuddles and desire to be carried.
Enjoy the hands at the back of your neck.
Enjoy the sounds of a baby nursing in the darkness of night.
Enjoy naked bums running through the house after a bath.
Enjoy the innocence.

Because before you know it, you will blink.
Summer 2011.  Me and three little monkeys.
And you’ll be left only with your memories that seem like a lifetime ago.

{This is the sort of thing that helps me ENJOY the phase I'm in now.  Because like the baby/toddler phase, it is short lived too.}


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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lois Frye

Today I went to the memorial service for Lois Frye.  She was a sweet woman who certainly lived well for God!  It was wonderful to hear about her early days and how she has loved her family and friends!  She had no children of her own, but wow oh wow did she love her nieces, nephews and extended family!  "Everyone should have an Aunt Lois," were words spoken by her nephew today.  


I met her years ago because I am friends with some of her extended family.  She often brought a yummy zucchini dish to potluck gatherings.  I loved it so much that I got the recipe awhile back.  I shared it on my blog two years ago so CLICK HERE to get it, especially if you have a garden and need new zucchini ideas!  I can't make this without thinking of her!  It's a regular around here all year round!

She was a sharp lady and I know I will miss her smile at church.  She and her husband Lester {who is 95 years old!} attended the same service as me.  They were a cute couple!  Oh how Lester will miss his bride so if you read this and pray, please remember him.  


This is the verse shared on the handout today.  Good one to end with...

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why we homeschool and our first week

When my daughter was 6 and in first grade, life was feeling chaotic.  
She was going to public school.  I drove my 4 year old son to preschool 3 days a week.  Vienna started cheerleading, which took us out one weeknight for practice and Saturday mornings for a game. Meanwhile, I lugged my 1 year old everywhere!  It was crazy!  
Look how little they were!!
V's 1st day of grade 1
To add, Vienna got home from school at the worse time of day... around 3:30 and baby Colin was always finishing his nap around that time.  She was tired from a long day at school, she snapped at her 4 year old brother who was happy to see her and wanting to play.  I felt rushed to start supper.  She always had homework and I had little quality time with her.
Fall 2011
As a stay-at-home mom, I always knew I had the option to homeschool but I didn't want to!  The burden of teaching my kids was too much and I didn't think I was capable.  I yelled too much.  I didn't have patience and honestly I was very selfish and wanted more time to myself as the kids gained independence, not lose it!  

But God slowly worked on my heart and I was convicted to give it a try.  The bottom line is that I wanted more quality time with my kids while they were young and wanted to be with me.  I know this will not always be the case and I want to take advantage of this time while I have it.  Everyone says to enjoy these early years and I figured it was for good reason!

With a wonderful support system in place... a husband who is my rock and supportive beyond words... and with friends who helped me figure it all out.... we started our homeschool journey.

WOW!  We just started our third year this week!  A couple weeks ago I summarized last year and wrote what we are doing this year.  {You can CLICK HERE to read that if you want to know about our curriculum.}


Aside from teaching language arts, math, history and science, one thing I want to focus on this year is instilling a good work ethic in my kids and work on self-discipline.  I made these weekly charts in Word and put them in page protectors.  They use dry erase markers to check off the subjects that are done.  This gives my kids a visual of what they need to do, and at the end of  week 1, I can say that this has DEFINITELY helped!  {And we didn't do EVERYTHING this week because we are trying to adjust to doing school again!}


I used to have a great set up in our basement but I learned that we prefer to do school on the main floor of our home.  This allows me to do dishes, prepare snacks and meals, etc as the kids do independent work.  So we have officially taken over the dining room!  The kids told me that prefer this set up!  YAY!


We also changed our school time. We were doing it in the afternoons because Colin used to nap then and because of a preschool schedule but this year mornings are free and clear.  So school starts at 9am and we go til we are done, obviously stopping for snacks and lunch.

As for how long I will homeschool, I am still taking it year by year because I always want what's best for my kids and this set up may NOT always be.  But for now, it is clear to me that this is the path God wants us on.  

And honestly... I'm glad for lazy mornings... not rushing for the school bus... and not having to pack lunches!  hehe!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

I love whales but not a fan of Blackfish

After my last blog post sharing Juno's video, I received some comments that ruffled my feathers.

Why you ask?  Oh maybe because I am more sensitive then I let on and I don't want anyone to think I don't like animals!  And because I suppressed many thoughts about Blackfish when it first came out.

SO.. FIRST.. MY APOLOGY
I just want to apologize for coming across aggressively on the edit I added to this post.  The comments I got were submitted anonymously {except for one} and to deter more of the same, I felt the need to post that.  I initially felt that they were stirring up controversy that hit the world upon the release of the movie Blackfish. In hindsight one of the people commenting was probably addressing my question in the video {which was taken 3 years ago and I got my answer straight from the Aquarium back then}, where I wondered about the behavior that Juno was doing.

WHY I DON'T PROMOTE WATCHING BLACKFISH
The anonymous person told me to watch Blackfish to educate myself.  
But that movie was made with an agenda and is not a documentary on whale behavior. 
I know a whale trainer personally who worked at SeaWorld.  Not everything in that movie was fact. People get all hyped up on movies and they don't always look into the other side of things.  If you want to read up on Blackfish exposed, click HERE.  I think there are some things that more people should be aware of.  If you click over, please be sure to read it to the end.

I am a BIG animal lover and it didn't take a movie like that to keep me away from places that use wild animals for human entertainment.  I have long boycotted places like traveling circuses and certain animal shows, yes like SeaWorld.

TOTAL TANGENT
Total tangent but... did you ever notice that in the Curious George books they changed how George came to America?  In the original, the man with the yellow hat, brought him in a sack and George was sad.  He was captured for a zoo.  In the newer movie and books, George was curious and stowed away on his own free will.  It bugs me that history was "rewritten".

WHY I LOVE OUR AQUARIUM
Some people who come to Mystic Aquarium actually say it's boring!  There are no "fun" whale shows or dolphins anymore.  They are a research center focused on animal conversation and education.  They rehabilitate seals and release them all the time.  The belugas are not there for performance and their habitat is the largest outdoor exhibit in the USA.  So I have a great peace of mind visiting and supporting this facility!
2014 -  We love the Mystic Aquarium

I absolutely love God's creation and wouldn't want to be portrayed as someone who didn't.  So again I am sorry for coming with my claws out.  And thanks for letting me vent about my position about Blackfish.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Juno at the Mystic Aquarium

EDIT 8/23:  To all the people telling me to watch Black Fish, I have.  You are barking up the wrong tree.  Research Mystic Aquarium and what they do and have done to help animals.  I have been an animal lover for years and personally boycott traveling circuses and have no interest in watching animals at Sea World or the like do silly tricks for human entertainment so please do not come hear preaching to me on my blog because you were affected by one movie that got a lot of buzz.  
I moderate comments and will not publish anything negative on here. Thank you.

----Original post below-----

Three years ago we visited the Mystic Aquarium.  We are members and in all my visits, I never saw a whale do this.  I posted the question on their Facebook page with the video below.

"Does anyone know more about this behavior? Would love to know the inside scoop! ~Mary"
video


I got this response:
Mystic Aquarium Juno’s behavior in the video is an open mouth threat and jaw pop. Open mouth threats and jaw popping are aggressive behaviors. Juno (and Kela) seem to direct these behaviors toward guests at the windows when they are annoyed or seemingly trying to get a reaction from the guests. If people are banging on the glass, running towards the windows quickly, waving objects around in front of the glass, the whales seem to react more. However, there are times that guests are not doing the above things, and the whales still seem to react to their presence.

For the record, we were not doing any of those things to irritate him, so I guess he was in a playful mood!  If I remember right, Juno was a newer whale on loan from another Aquarium as part of a breeding program.  But as of today he is still there and still entertaining the crowds!  

Earlier tonight, I started getting random "likes" from strangers on that video I posted on the Aquarium's Facebook page.  Then I got a notification that someone shared it.  I was really confused so hopped over to the FB page and saw that a video of Juno scaring kids aired on The Today Show {here} this morning!  How fun that Juno is getting National attention!  I love it.  And to think, I took these videos three years ago!  I should have contacted a news outlet!  hahaha!  

Here is a cute video of my kids interacting with Juno!


video
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Good Morning Girls team split and changes

I have been doing bible studies with Good Morning Girls {GMG} for 3 years.  Recently there was a split in leadership.  Since I have been a facilitator of a Facebook small group, I wanted to summarize what was going on to reach all the ladies who have been in and currently are with us, along with those who are thinking about joining. 

As confusing as details might be to us, we have to remember that the ladies who lead our studies are imperfect human beings who have emotions just like the rest of us.  Whatever their struggle, it need not be ours.  They provide a TOOL for helping us with getting into the Word daily and we serve HIM not them.  So please do NOT be discouraged.  They each had a different vision and now there are two ministries.
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HISTORY
Courtney Joseph started GMG years ago at her church.  Then she took it to her blog “Women Living Well” {WLW}.  It grew, so she brought her friend Angela Perritt onboard to help her as website administrator and contributor.  Later they added other writers {Whitney & Jen} to the GMG blog.
For whatever reasons, Courtney stepped away from GMG in April.  She owns copyright to the “Good Morning Girls” name so in order for the ministry to continue, Angela and team changed the name to “Love God Greatly” {LGG}.  


MOVING FORWARD: 2 DIFFERENT STUDIES

1.    LGG will be doing a Fall study in Esther using the format that the ministry has always used.  8 weeks doing the SOAP format. They blog on Mon, Wed & Fri to further enhance the study time.  After that they are doing the annual Gratitude and Advent studies in preparation for the holidays.

2.     Courtney, who will continue to use the GMG name, is doing a read through of the entire bible breaking it down to just 1 chapter a day!  Read her blog announcement about it HERE.  She will offer a weekly reading plan on Sundays.  A blog post on Wednesday and a short video on Fridays.

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Every person studies the bible differently at different times in their lives.  For years I attended studies at my church, but now that I homeschool that is not an option for me.  Doing it online has been wonderful!  
Likewise there are different ways dig into God's word... Use a published book study, following a reading plan, do a topic study, read it cover to cover, read it chronologically, etc. Each person has a different preference at different stages in their lives. 
So as you read what each ministry is doing, don't worry about the issues behind the scenes. Decide which format suits you best and use one or both if they can help you get to know God's Word more.

If you want to know what my small group is doing, please email me and I will share.  I don't want to take sides publicly here on my blog because I love what each team is doing; it's just a matter of preference.

To read each ministry leaders own words, please visiting their websites:
http://www.lovegodgreatly.com/
http://womenlivingwell.org/

Serving Him,
Mary