This has been a very trying three months (or so). Butch has been gone for the better part of the late summer and early fall. He is working, which we are thankful for, but it seems that most of his jobs have been all week long, overnight, and even in some far away states! He drives his work truck, so he comes home on the weekends, even if his job doesn't end on Friday. At least we have the weekends to look forward to, and we do keep in touch every day by phone, but that doesn't make it any easier. This past Friday was his last day out of town (for a little while, at least!) so we are somewhat back to normal now.
Because I was pretty much at the end of my rope mentally, I took last week off of workbooks and sit down stuff and we had a week of field trips. We went to the apple orchard, the arboretum, to a local park reserve, to the cast party (they re-did the Fatima play last Sunday), played a lot with friends, and did some shopping. I didn't work all week because my brain couldn't take it and I didn't want anyone to have to deal with these nutjobs at night. They had fun this week, but I think I'll/they'll be glad to get back to routine.
The pictures of the park reserve are on Anna's camera (she went with us!) so I'll have to post them later, but I can show you some of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We went there with my mom and we also brought my niece, Gabby. I have been trying to include her in stuff with my kids because they live so far out in the country and don't really have any friends her age to play with. Her siblings can get a little much sometimes and since she calls her cousins her "friends", it's nice that they can bond this way. I wish my brother's girls lived just a teeny bit closer, too. They are about 45 minutes away and we do get together quite a lot for parties, but these individual times together are so nice for family bonding.
I was raised with most of my cousins and I called them my "friends" too! I want that for my children. I want their childhood friends to carry over into their adulthood seamlessly like mine did. It's so much easier and more stable that way.
I usually don't take pictures of non-persons because I think they are boring. I was walking by this tree and I just loved the little bridge in the background, so I just couldn't resist taking a "nature shot". God did all the work with the beautiful colors. My camera is an absolute piece of junk, but this picture turned out so pretty!
They had a scarecrow display (I think it was some sort of artistic contest) and there were tons of really unique, weird scarecrows. The kids got a kick out of all of them!
In one part of the arboretum, there was an interactive area with these cool boxes that spelled out words from every angle. I think there was a letter for every one's name. Here's Niklaus on HIS letter.
There is just something about these gardens that brings out the contemplative side of the children. (Heehee, Trina saw this bench next to a stream and some twisty trees and thought it called for some fake meditation! Gabby and Weasy are only too happy to go along with any sort of funny pose. I think they'll be models some day!)
There weren't too many flowers left but they still had some rose bushes that were hanging on and a lot of dahlias. I can't wait to go back there in the height of summer for the flowers and the best of spring when the flowering apple, cherry, and other fruit trees are in bloom. I'll bet it's stunning!
Apparently, all benches are hard to resist. Some for just resting, and some for just clowning!
The arboretum is a cool place for learning. I told Matty it would be sort of a science lesson. He didn't believe me because there weren't any explosions or dangerous chemicals (that he could see, anyway). In most of the gardens there are labels for all plants and lots of opportunity for education about the history of the plantings, and the uses of some of them. We went on the "three mile drive" which is a one way, labelled path through the whole arboretum with opportunity to stop in the individual gardens, mazes, and play areas. We didn't stop, but it would be fun to try the maze with the older kids someday. It was a feast for the eyes, and good exercise to boot!