The Perfect Summer Month

IMG_3625Just like June, July came and went fairly quickly.  I guess that is how it goes when you do not have an agenda to fill.  When I envision a perfect summer, I envision almost exactly what our July looked like.  (I know that I hate it when other bloggers say stuff like that, but I now know that it can be true!  In the past, our summers were fun but not without a lot of sibling stress and the stress of no schedule.  This year, everyone got along and went along with the no-schedule ride.)

July included visits from lots of friends and family, which meant lots of floating in the lake, playing behind the boat, and lemonade stands, .

 

We also made a couple trips up to the mountains where we kayaked the Green River in Saluda, NC  (by kayak, I mean float in big tubes that look like kayaks-no real skill involved) with friends who visited from Florida and hiked with local friends in DuPont Forest.

The kids had camp again this month.  Parks and Nick headed off to scout camp where they repelled, biked, swam and had a ton of adventures.  Parks also went to sailing camp with some friends.  Sawyer participated in a costuming camp where she helped make the costumes for the play “The Crucible,” in our town theater.  Sims headed to the mountains to climb outdoors for a week.

In between all of this, we simply enjoyed the pool and the lake every moment that we could.  It was hot and the water felt amazing.

And last but not least, I celebrated my 40th birthday with my family on the last day of the month!

June in Review

June has come to an end.  Can it really be?  I feel like the month flew by and at the same time I feel that we accomplished quite a few activities.  We began the month finishing up our dragonfly research (more on that to come soon) and hosting a Crankin Engines Class (we hosted this class last year, as well.  I thought that a refresher would be a good idea since Sims is now mowing lawns for spending money).

Next, we had a new adventure-camp!  Sawyer headed up to the mountains of North Carolina to attend Rockbrook Camp for Girls.  We were both a bit nervous as this was her first time away from home without someone with her.  I knew that she would have a blast, but it is tough to let your kids go! 🙂  We dropped her off on the 11th and picked her up on the 22nd.  On the ride there, she was almost almost silent.  On the ride home, she talked nonstop.  I loved listening to her excitement.  She participated in weaving classes, pottery classes, horseback riding (English which was new to her-she rides Western at home), white water rafting, hiking, waterfall sliding, and more!  The activities were terrific to hear about, but her excitement about life and her confidence convinced me immediately how good this experience was for her.

While Sawyer was at camp, Parks and I headed to Raleigh for BMX camp at the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex.  He participated in a class there in the spring and enjoyed every minute of it, so we decided to head back for camp.  Many of the same kids attended the camp which made it nice.  It was hot, and I didn’t think that he would want to keep going each day.  I was completely wrong!  He jumped up each morning and was ready before I was.  He learned many new tricks and even tried out a pro scooter (he loved the scooter so much that he came home and started earning money to get his own).  Once we came home, we hit the lake.  Sims is thoroughly enjoying his boaters licence and driving us around.  He even gave Parks a lesson on driving the boat.

The month of June finished up with one more camp.  Sims and Nick headed to Camp Grimes for a week of scout camp.  Sims worked on his water sports, fire safety (we could have used that one a few years ago-ha), and Indian Lore merit badges.  He also learned a bit about plumbing as a water pipe burst while they were working on a trail.  While the big boys were at camp, the rest of us laid low.  We watched Wonder Woman (I highly recommend it!), played with friends, cleaned out cabinets, and hit the barn.

We finished the month up with a bang at the Rock the Lake concert where Parks and Sawyer both played with their bands.  This was Parks’ first time playing in front of an audience and he did amazing!  Sawyer has played in front of an audience a few times, but this was her best performance yet (another way I think camp helped her!).  Her confidence beamed, and she looked very comfortable up on the stage.  Hopefully, I will get pictures from the concert up soon.  Mine did not come out, so I am waiting on the professional pictures.  June kept us busy.  I wonder what July has in store!

 

The Hungry Little Monarch Caterpillar

At the end of April, we visited the butterfly garden that we planted at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  We were ecstatic to see monarchs in the garden!  Not only did we see monarchs but we gathered the eggs.  At this time, I had no idea what we were getting into.

So the caterpillar nursery began.  After about a week, twelve of the fourteen caterpillars came into the world.  These hungry little guys ate and ate and ate!  They initially measured a mere 1 mm long!  After two weeks of nibbling away at the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars were about the size of my son’s pinky finger!

I started getting concerned that I would not be able to keep up with their appetites!  They are veracious eaters.  Initially, I thought that they would only eat the leaves, but the ended up eating every bit of each stalk of milkweed that I placed in with them. One afternoon, I started calling around to find milkweed to feed them, but lucky for me I found them forming Js at the top of the enclosure.

We even got to watch one of them form its chrysalis.  It was absolutely amazing.  Then for another 10 days or so, we had 12 gem-like chrysalis hanging in our kitchen.

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We went away for the weekend and came home to an amazing sight!

We had several dark colored chrysalis and several butterflies!  We observed them for a day and were entranced by their beauty.  We watched several of them emerge from their chrysalis and grasp onto the edge of the chrysalis as they dried their wings.  When all twelve had emerged and dried, we brought them out to the garden and released them.  It was a bittersweet moment.

Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to find more eggs this summer so that we can tag them.  Monarchs migrate to Mexico each year.  The generation that we released will lay more eggs here and their offspring should be the ones to make the journey.  We will let you know if we get to do it again!

Wacky Wednesday-Landsford Canal State Park

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Over the years, I have made a list of the places that I would like to visit near by.  We live in a very unique area.  We are between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  We have a lot of really amazing opportunities nearby.  Landsford Canal State Park has been on my list for a while.

The park is known for its rocky shoals spider lilies.  I have heard that they are beautiful when they are in bloom.  So back in August, we put a plan in place to visit the lilies in May-little did we know that we would be contributing to our Wacky Wednesday list!

This trip required some preparation.  We had eight people kayaking so we had to rent a U Haul trailer in order to get the kayak down to the drop in point.  The park is on the Catawba River which has a fairly slow current typically.  We put our kayaks in one by one.  The kids immediately went off exploring.  Unfortunately, on our way to catch up with them, my friend hit a rock and capsized her kayak.  We spent an hour trying to get the water out of the kayak with out getting taken by the current.  Once we got back underway and found the kids, they were playing on some rocks and a fallen tree trunk.

The downside was that their kayaks got hit by one of our paddlers.  Paddles, life jackets and kayaks went floating down the river.  Another rescue effort-I retrieved all of the items and got them to the kids.  We were off again.

We found out quickly why the area is called rocky!  The adults got stuck on rocks almost every 30 feet or so.  The kids flew right down the river.  Luckily, most of the river was shallow enough that we could get out, dump out the water and get back in.  It sounds much easier that it was!  The current was far from slow as we had anticipated.

By the time that we made it to lilies, we were exhausted and ready to get off of the water.

Of course we always learn things from our trip and here is our list from this trip!

  1. Not only check the weather but also the water depth/current.
  2. Take a pump (using a McDonald’s cup takes a really long time to get water out of a kayak)
  3. Have your plan in place before people get in the water (uhm, where did the kids go? Oh-they are WAY OVER THERE!).
  4. Rope is always useful when paddling-why didn’t we bring any?
  5. There is a reason that there are different types of kayaks.  Lake kayaks are not meant for any type of white water, or rocks, or current.
  6. Laughter works much better than freaking out when stuck in a bad situation (we spent a lot of time laughing because it is all we could do in our minds.  We helped a lady who also hit a rock and began freaking out.  She could not calm down.  We all realized from her example how important it is to remain calm in order to problem solve.)

I am positive that we learned a lot more from the trip, but this is all that I can come up with right now.  We decided that next week, we will stick with something closer to home!

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We made it back all in one piece!

Wacky Wednesday Update

Wacky Wednesdays sort of came to a halt in March.  The flu and pneumonia took the first two Wednesdays of March.  The third Wednesday of March wasn’t so wacky as we headed to the climbing gym.  The fourth Wednesday of the month, Sims went on a tour of the local high school to see what it is about.  The last Wednesday, we headed out on the boat to enjoy the lake.

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Getting out on the lake

April only had one Wacky Wednesday and it was only with Parks.  He and I headed to Raleigh, NC to check out a freestyle BMX complex-the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex.  Parks was in heaven.  He spent the day jumping ramps, playing in the bowl, and playing on the pump track.

May is going pretty well.  The first Wednesday, we hit the lake.  Sims is enjoying driving everyone around now that he has his boating licence.  The next Wednesday was a prep day for the weekend as we all had big plans.  Last week, we went to Landford Canal State Park.  You can read about this trip in my next post!

Grade 8 Project

Eighth grade!  Wow!  Eight grade!  I cannot believe that our homeschooling journey began six years ago, and that we made it this far.  My oldest child began homeschooling in the third grade after a less than good experience in traditional school.  I was a nervous wreck about pulling him out of school and taking on the responsibility of teaching him.  Looking back, I am so glad that I did.

Sims and Lily

These two met in kindergarten and have homeschooled together through the 6 years! All grown up!

When I pulled my kids from school, I had many ideas in my head for what I wanted to do over the next years.  One of my ideas was an eighth grade project.  When I mentioned this to my son last summer, he was ecstatic.  He came up with enormous projects-rebuilding a car, rebuilding a sail boat, building a bouldering wall in his room,….the list went on and on.  Obviously, these projects were slightly larger than what I had in mind.

We came to  a compromise.  At fourteen, people can get their boaters licence here in North Carolina.  He decided to take the class to get his boaters licence and to work on his grandfather’s fishing boat to get it up and running.

His grandfather brought the boat up in the fall.  Sims worked on the trolling motor first.  Before the age of fourteen, a person can only operate a motor that is less than 10 horse power on the lake; so the trolling motor was perfect.  He and his buddies putted around the lake at a very slow speed!

The first adventure!

One long boat ride with the trolling motor!

Right before his fourteenth birthday, Sims completed the boater’s course, which consisted of 6 sections that had to be passed and a final exam.  Passing the course meant that he could now take the boat out and use the actual engine.  He was ecstatic.

He and his friend took the boat out.  It made it about 200 feet before it stopped.  LOL!  They paddled in and then the engine work began.  Since that time, he has also built a platform inside the boat so that they have more room to stand and fish.  Overall, I think his project was a definite success.  I also think it will be a project that he will keep learning from over the next few years!