Monday, September 1, 2014

Not Back To School 2014: Mystic Seaport

Every year I plan something special for our not-back-to-school day.  One year we went to the Museum of Natural History in New York.  Last year we went to the Science Center in Hartford.  This year since we were had to travel to the northern part of Connecticut, near the Rhode Island boarder to pick out our puppy, I decided to plan a visit to Mystic Seaport to have our official start to the year begin with some hands on history.  

Mystic Seaport is full of original restored buildings and artifacts from the 1800s that depict life in coastal Connecticut.  Mystic was known for its participation in the whaling industry and several boat makers called it home.  This was the girls first visit and we were wondering why we have never taken the time to visit before.  It’s beautiful and we want to return again at Christmas to take part in the period celebrations of the holiday.

My favorite part of the day was admiring the mast heads.


*Another overlap of learning happened when we least expected it.  We listened to Jim Weiss' Women in Blue or Gray: True Stories from Both Sides of the American Civil War.  I grabbed this cd on our way out the door because we did not have an audiobook to listen to.  The stories on the cd pertained to women who dedicated their lives to making a difference in the war and many were involved in the suffrage movement.  Who do you think the first mast head was of?  A woman involved in the suffrage movement.  You just can't plan for this.....

I think Grace’s favorite part of the afternoon was the horse and carriage tour.

Lilah liked the village and touring the houses, chapel, schoolhouse and stores.

We ended our day at Lennie and Joe’s in Madison.  

We are looking forward to the 2014-2015 year.  7th and 9th grade will be an adventure for us all!

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Our family has felt incomplete since Jake passed away in April.  It was so quick and unexpected that it left us shattered.  As we were moving through the process of grieving his loss and reflecting on his life, I realized what an important role he had in our family.  In many ways he was more than “just” a pet.  He was a best friend.  He was here 24/7, in a family that is together 24/7.  He was a reading buddy, a math partner, a music aficionado, a playmate, and a protector.  Those are some pretty big paws to fill.

This week we met Crosby, our 4 week old Goldendoodle.  Don’t let his coloring fool you, this little guy is a true Goldendoodle.  His mom is a Goldendoodle and his dad is a standard poodle making him a F1b generation dog.  He is part of a litter of 10 that was bred to produce a service dog for a friend of the breeder who is a Veteran suffering from PTSD and has mobility issues.  He will be joining us in four weeks and we just can’t wait!

Week of August 25th

This year I am going to go back to a weekly wrap up post to capture the little stuff that does not make it to Instagram, the fillers of our lives.  
Monday was a day filled with Wonder: Lilah's 12th birthday.

Tuesday: Piano and Riding Day!  One of our favorite days of the week.  Lilah is not as much in love with riding as Grace but it is great exercise for both her body and her mind and I am glad she is sticking with it, even though I told her she has my blessing to stop.
Grace on the other hand....

Tuesday also saw lots of reading by Lilah (new Minecraft book) and a new project.  This year we are going to be doing a little more work with history.  We have a formal history program that we wills start next week, but this is a quick fun little daily exercise to introduce the girls to people who have made a difference in the world in some way and whose names they should know.  Each day I pick a quote and write it on our dry erase board.  The girls copy it into their journal and add a personal reflection of what the quote means to them.  The author of the quote is then added to their Book of Centuries.  I got this idea from one of my favorite bloggers, 71 Toes.

Wednesday:  The leaves are beginning to turn and our neighborhood friends start school this week.  Fall is almost here but for now we are holding on to every bit of summer while we can.

Wednesday also gifted us with a surprise visitor.

Lilah gifted me with a lovely watermelon smoothie.  See that cup cozy?  She made it for me.

Thursday:  Not-Back-To-School Day 2014.  There will be a whole post about this amazing day.  We picked this little guy out.  Crosby will be joining our family in a month when he is ready to leave his puppy pack.

Since we were in the area, we ventured to Mystic Seaport.

Friday was our first official day, but this year things are going to look quite different than they did last year.  Grace is working at the kennel and during her hours at work, I am able to have quality time with Lilah. It will be a rare thing to see the three of us working at the same time now.  Grace will have to work over the weekend to catch up.   

Lilah spent an hour on science (Science Shepherd), put her new quote into her journal and Book of Centuries, and began a game of Scrabble with me.  After picking Grace up from work, we met my Mom, who was off from work and my nephew for lunch.  There was some shopping to get Grace her riding jacket for her first walk/trot competition.  Our week ended with two episodes of TLC's Next Great Baker, our new favorite show.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Lilah is an amazing party planner.  For reals.  She puts such care and effort into making sure her guests have more than just a good time.  She ensures that they will have an experience.  This amazing child planned her own birthday party that gave her friends an experience they should remember for a long time!
I wish I had tallied the number of hours Lilah worked.  It is becoming apparent to me that she does not learn quite like other kids and the way her education is delivered is not quite the same as it is for her sister.  She excels at project based learning.  To plan her day she:
Created the guest list
Created and sent the electronic invitation using Evite and managed the responses. (technology)
Used a traditional notebook and binder to make and manage lists. (life skills)
Wrote a scavenger hunt list.  Wrote the game card clues. Wrote the brain buster clues (clues to books) and wrote the store spy clues (reward cards).  (writing)

Designed the game cards.  Designed the spy and brain buster cards using Henri Bendel playing cards, the computer, washi tape, packing tape, stickers. (art)

Determined the number of prizes needed and worked
within a $10 budget at Claire’s Outlet. (math/finance)
On the day of her party everything was packed and organized and ready to be brought to the mall.  All I had to do was drive her and her friends.  

And step back and let them have at it.

Her friends ranged in age from 10 to almost 14.  They all got along.

A partnership between a shy girl and a very outgoing one worked beautifully. (random pairing)
The youngest was paired with the oldest. (again random pairing)
The mall was not too crowded, but crowded enough that they could complete their tasks yet have the freedom to explore within a range.  

This party caused some girls (like Grace) to step WAY out of their comfort zone in the name of fun and do things they NEVER would dream of doing.  
They asked for a received free samples of frozen yogurt.
A stranger cut an extra button off the inside of his shirt for one team.
A kind sales clerk printed $10 receipts and then voided the fake transaction just so they could get an item they needed.
They went store to store to store, asking for letterhead and sadly, explaining to the employees what letter head is since 99% of those asked did not know.  

We were at the mall for four hours!  At one point Lilah snuggled up against me and told me that her mall party was exactly like she planned it in her mind.

The best part of this whole day?  This idea came from a book, her favorite book of the summer and one of her favorite reads of all time: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  She said I made an excellent Mr. Lemoncello.  I am honored. 

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