Monday, August 30, 2010

'reading, writing, 'rithmetic'....and hunting

I had a few free minutes tonight (I know, can you believe it?), so I thought I would blog a bit.  I started going through the pictures on our laptop and couldn't find anything recent.  (I don't know how to download the pics without Easy Share, and that is on our other computer which is at the shop, on hospice care.)  But, I did come across a couple I just couldn't resist.

We officially started school last week and we totally are doing something different this year. I will get to that more in a minute.  I have to share the cutest picture of Sara Beth and Jake one day doing school.  Sara Beth is doing first grade work and Jake kindergarten.  Oh, just too cute!

What are we doing this year?  The two big kids are going to Veritas Classical Schools.  It is a "tutoring" program, which meets once a day for k-6 and two days for 7-12.  The school provides the curriculum and teachers, we purchase the books.  Then, each week, an assignment is sent out to be completed before the next class.    So far, they have completed one week's worth of assignments and started week 2.  Tomorrow is their first day of class.  They are both each a bit nervous and excited, which is to be expected.  I am thrilled! :)  Of course, I am a bit nervous that I will forget to take them.   My opinion so far, a week and a half in - Love it!  It is still quite a bit of work for me, but I am not doing the planning nor the teaching actually.  Just assisting in work.  My brain is free!  No lesson plans, no forgetting to do lesson plans, no waking up wondering what we get done for the day.  Ahhh.

What about Katie, you ask?  Aren't there lesson plans involved with her?  Well, yes and no.  Sweet Katie and I are getting a year together.  One of the motivations for Veritas for the other two was so I could spend more time teaching Katie.   We are doing our own thing with her, cause I mean, good grief.  I have done first grade twice, and it is just first grade.  I can just pull it out and go.  But, given the state of my brain and the fact I have three children leeching what is left, I have to help myself.  I do have a semi-lesson plan to refer to just to make sure I am on track.  But it doesn't take long. 

For Katie's math this year I am doing something new, Math-U-See.  It requires Katie to watch a brief instructional video before her lesson.  To my complete shock and utter amazement, this video seems to grab the attention of the entire household.  There are even groanings of disappointment if it is a short video.  Go figure.  I promise you, if I had tried that with the other two, they would have watched with their eyes closed.  I guess because it isn't for them they have the freedom to actually watch and pay attention.  I say, great!  It is good reinforcement.

In addition to their academic education, Sara Beth and Jake furthered their knowledge by successfully completing their Hunter Safety Education Class.  This now will allow them to obtain their hunting license and contribute to putting meat on our table.   Now that they have passed, hunting and shooting as taken over this family.  We went out Saturday to shoot and practice with a gun.  Katie shot the BB gun for the first time and came real close to the target.  Sara Beth and Jake did some skeet shooting and did well.  Jake actually made contact with the skeet on his fourth pull.  Sara Beth hasn't had as much practice with a gun, so she didn't do quite as well, but determined she is.  She has asked David all day the past two days to go shoot.   Of course, I took pictures, but of course, I don't know how to download them.  But here is one of Jake, early in his hunting career.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No Words Needed

This will be the last post on Trail West.  But these are just some great pictures, taken by a friend while we were there.   No words needed.  I believe these pictures stand alone just fine.

Katie and Go-Go

Although Katie wasn't quite old enough to do the horseback rides, she did get her fair share (and then some) of pony rides.  But she also had to do alot of tagging along to the stables.  Because of the inordinate amount of time she spend there with us and then the times she got to go there as part of Kids Klub, Katie began to think of herself as a regular 'ole cowhand. 

First let's discuss the ponies.  She rode them alot.  And then some.  Theere were two ponies for riding.   One was named Mac and the other one named Cheese.  Get it.  Mac and Cheese.  Cute, huh?  Esp fitting for Katie because the child could live off of macaroni and cheese.  Which sometimes she does, but that is for another time.   The commonality quickly bonded Katie to these animals and they became friends.

If you think that those three bonded and were friends, then Katie and Go-Go must have been separated at birth.  They could hardly be separated at the barn.  Before I go any further, let me tell you a little about Go-Go.  This little creature is a baby goat.  A small baby goat, but one who makes her presence known.  In a very distinct way.  She sounds exactly like a baby crying.  Seriously.  You could tell a newcomer to the barn by the way they were looking for a baby nearby.  (I confess, that was really me.)  First, you are looking for a a barn...with pigs, horses and donkeys.  But that is where the sound was coming from.  Then, in the shadowed doorway would appear this baby goat.  Sounding like a baby.  And then, she would walk up to the gate, wagging her tail the whole time, like a dog, all excited to see you.   Then, you get to scratch her chin. Like you would a dog.  Anyway, as if Katie and Go-Go's relationship wasn't already deeply bonded, Katie and I were in the barn hanging out (waiting for Sara Beth and Jake to finish their rides) and it just so happened to be feeding time.  Oh, yes, Katie got to feed Go-Go her bottle.  The sweet little ranch hand  (who just so happened to go to Ole Miss) was so sweet to let Katie do that.  Thus the bond was forged forever.  In our hearts.  Go-Go had to stay in Colorado, but she will always have a place in our hearts.  Here's to you Go-Go!

Trip of a Lifetime - Part 3

Here we go down the final stretch.  I think I left off last on Wednesday evening (oh, yeah, date night!).  I did forget to add that on Wed morning, there was an all camp event - hiking up a mountain.  We were supposed to be able to hike the Continental Divide, but too much snow.  Then plan B, too much bear sign.  Nice.  Plan C worked great.  It was a hike for sure, but beautiful and lots of fun.

View from lookout on hike

Thursday morning gave us another all camp event.  We all caravaned over to Frontier Ranch, one of Young Life's many youth camps.  There they have this great big pool with this great big water slide.  Not to mention game room, snack bar, gift shop, etc.  The great thing about this pool is that it is heated by the local hot springs.  It felt so good!  Yes, we all went down the slide.  Promise.

Thursday afternoon gave us a reprieve.  And Friday morning was also open.   Sort of.  We weren't assigned any more activities, but at this point you were able to do things again if there was an opening.   In that span of time, the Pritchards, in some amount of family members, tackled the ropes course again, arena ride, pony ride, horseback ride.  Whew, I think that's it.

Thursday night was a culmination of the week.  There was this running dialog/drama with our lively hosts, Mike and Merle Mustang.  It is too much to describe in detail so ask me about it sometime.  Anyway, that night the work crew put on this show and then we had this big barbeque in the Aspen Grove.  Lest we are too full from all the grub, immediately following was a big square dance.  Huge fun, and then an impromptu dance session, with a few more current dancing styles for the younger set.  Definitely worked off that supper.  

The infamous Mike and Merle Mustang

Friday afternoon we had the chance to take a jeep ride through the mountains to an old ghost town.  That was very cool, esp the chipmunks.  There is this huge chipmunk colony (i guess that is what it is called) where the chipmunks will come eat out of your hand and climb on you to get the feed.   Scenery was just beautiful!!

After packing up Friday night, we were waiting for the kids to come back to get them in bed and they arrived in tears.  Obviously we were alarmed, but never fear.  No major injuries or incidents.  Just the fact that we had to leave.  They had such a wonderful time and met such fun friends.  Jake met a few buddies, two of which happened to be twins.  They were the three musketeers for sure.  They also had a friend there, Aaron. The dads from both of those families were crazy nice enough to invite Jake to eat at their table for several meals.  It was a table of all boys and well, you know, guy stuff.  They had a ball.  Of course this fun can't last forever and it was heartbreaking for Jake to leave.

Jake and his buds

We hit the road first thing Saturday morning.  As we left we were blessed with a view of a herd of mule deer and more tears.  The drive back couldn't have gone better.  Esp on Sunday.  We drove 10 hours with only one stop.  Miracle!

Well, that's it, and more.  Can't begin to describe in detail how wonderful this week was for us.   It is one of those we will never forget and long to return.  (contented sigh).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trip of a Lifetime - Part 2

Okay, before arriving at  Trail West, I must say that we passed through some of the most beautiful areas.  Snow covered mountain ranges as far as you could see in both directions.  What a wonder God made!  Although the kids enjoyed the scenery, they were about to bust a stitch because we were so so close! 

Our arrival was greeted by camp staff on horse back ready to lead us down to a big stage coach.  There we were led out of our van to be welcomed and photographed.  We then loaded on a old pick-up to ride to the main lodge while...get this....they unloaded our van!!  I kid you not.  All 1300 miles of stale fries, gooey napkins, and about a hundred pistachios that had just spilled.   When we got to our van, I promise you , it was cleaner than when we left.   Honestly, from a parents perspective, that was the best gift ever!  The second best part (from a mom's perspective) was that all of the meals would be served to us at our table.  No deciding what to cook, where to eat, dealing with "but I don't want that tonight".  It was just there and it was wonderful.  It was all great food and even better (they really have this thing down pat on how to get the parents there), we actually got to have a dinner without the kids.  We sat with some of our Memphis friends and laughed, visited and had a great time.

Our week, it looked like, would be filled with more adventure than we would be able to handle.  The first morning was a camp-wide horseless rodeo, filled with team competitions.  We all participated in some races, but by far the best was David.  He had to run, spin around  10 times with his head on a wooden horse. and then run back.  Yes, it was as funny as it sounds and David did not disappoint.  He even made the cut for the weeks video!

Right after that, Katie headed to KidsClub (yes, again they think of everything.)  This was a place for younger kids to go while the other family members take a break or do things the younger kids can't do.  While she was there, the rest of us headed to the stables for horseback rides.   Don't worry Katie got to ride a pony and we ended up spending alot of time at the stables, but more on that later. Tuesday morning we had off and just hung out and prepared for our white water rafting adventure.   Once we all wrestled into our wet suits, we loved the cold water and the water fights that came along. 

Wednesday was our morning for the wrangler breakfast.  Those old enough for horseback, headed out early to the stables.  Katie and I rode in the old pick-up and we met up in this great valley.  There the camp cow-hands and wranglers served us up a breakfast fit for royalty - chipmunk sausage, buzzard egg omlets and flying french toast.  Don't worry it was real food, but there was the flying french toast.  You stand on the designated spot, plate loaded with syrup.  The chef then toss you french toast right out of the pan.  Yes, there were plenty of misses, including some of our own, and plenty of french toast left over for the critters.

Do you see the flying french toast in the upper left corner?
Yes, Jake caught it!
Shortly after breakfast, we made our way back to the stables for some more fun.  Sara Beth and I had the chance to do an arena ride, where we learned how to trot, gallop, etc.  It was fun and that was exactly what Sara Beth was wanting.  Katie got to have her pony ride at the same time.  David enjoyed watching me almost fall of a horse and Jake just hung around and got bored.  But, his boredom was fixed that afternoon as all 5 of us got our turn on the ropes course.  We all did, zipline included, even Katie and me.  Katie did so good, even though we could tell she was a bit scared.

Katie and David on our first ropes course run.

That night was our date night dinner!  Such fun and only half done!
The Aspen Grove where we had a couple of meals.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trip of a Lifetime - Part 1

For years, David and I had heard about this great family camp that was just so awesome and that we should try to take our family at least once.  Well, this past spring, the opportunity arose.  We found out that Young Life's famiy camp, Trail West, was offering a deal for the first week of camp.  David jumped on it!  This was his kinda thing.  After all our trips to the beach and Disneyworld, he was really wanting to take us out west.  This was a great chance to do just that.  Saddle up your horses, cause here we go!

The first big decision we had to make for this trip was: fly or drive.  Both had their goods and bads, but after hearing that drive could just be alot of fun, we decided to bite that off.  All 2500 miles of it.  And we are so glad we did.  Our first stop on Thurs, May 27, 2010, was for breakfast in Forest City.  It was a quick run through the drive-thru, which proceeded to bathe our car in syrup and orange juice.  Seriously. It got everywhere.  In trying to push us a little bit while the site seeing was rather bland, we made it all the way to Oklahoma City for a late lunch.  We didn't make it much further after that, but we entered the famous Route 66.    As we hit the road the next morning, we managed to find a quaint Route 66 museum.   It was full of really cool antiques, replicas, and just plain ole cool stuff. 

We kept on truckin', making our way throught Chekotah, Okalahoma, home of Carrie Underwood.  Had to play her song as we went through.  Once we made it to Texas, the scenery was just unbelievable.  Flat, flat in some spots where you could see for miles.  Then in other spots there were these beautiful gullies.  The only problem with all of this, is there is nothing for miles.  Nothing.  Including a restroom.  Finally made it to the only place around.  We get out and there is this sign.  Never seen one of those before. 

Next, we bypassed Amarillo and headed down these really rural roads.  Corn fields for miles and miles.  Did you know that they plant them in circles there, so the irrigator can go all the way around?  We then entered New Mexico, where we went for miles and miles with nothing.  All through these travels I wondered how many people ran out of gas with nowhere to go or how many people ended up using natures facilities along the roadside!  Driving in New Mexico, we passed probably our 100th coyote, spotted antelope, passed an extinct volcano, and began to drive the mountains.  This perked everyone up, as we started yawning, chewing gum, anything to pop our ears.

Our long day ended in Colorado Springs for dinner.  We ate, swam at the pool and all crammed into our hotel room looking forward to spending a couple of days sightseeing.  Below are some pics from our few days in Colorado Springs.  Not pictured are the Olympic Training Center, which was very cool, and Focus on the Family Headquarters, which was the kids favorite.

Seven Falls

Garden of the Gods

We had had so much fun already at this point,
we couldn't begin to imagine how much more fun we were going to have.

Proceed with Caution

Yes, this is a wildlife viewing blog.  You should expect a few warnings.  I am so very anxious to document our trip of a lifetime that happened at the beginning of our summer.  But, I am going to deal with our summer backwards.  That way the only perspective is to look up.  It will get better than this (or before this).

Anyway, from about mid-April on our lives got crazy busy.  Non-stop busy.  Really, really crazy.  We went from soccer to baseball to kindergarten graduation to swimming to vacation to swimming and more swimming to camp to mission trip to city swim meet.  Ahhh, the culmination of all that craziness - city swim meet.  July 17.  After that, it would be time to recoup our summer, get the house back in order, find some "mom" time for me.  Ahhh.  So looking forward to that.  Then things changed......

I will do my best to spare you the gory details, but remember I did warn you.  About two weeks before the city meet, David got sick.  A mild stomach bug.  Nothing serious, felt bad but hung around a long time.  About a week and a half after this, Katie gets sick.  A little sicker than David.  High fever, feeling yuck, mild stomach stuff.  This is Tues before the Saturday meet (The Meet, you know the culmination of our summer).   Thankfully, much better after a day or two, but hung around for about a week.  Oh, yes, then a week later, Sara Beth gets it. (You are keeping up with the weeks aren't you?  This is about 3 wks since the beginning.  First week of our after swim meet summer).  And, yes, she gets it a little worse than Katie.  She actually threw up for the first time in about 6 yrs.  Just once.  (this is an important point)  She feels kinda rotten for a couple of days.  Well, you know I don't know how long she felt bad, because, um, you guessed it.  Two days after Sara Beth gets sick I get it.  This is where things go awry.  Let me recap.  David, Katie, and Sara Beth all have a mild stomach bug.  Only one episode of vomiting between the three of them.  Get that?  Thursday morning I wake up in the middle of the night with the tell-tale aches.  I am thinking okay, I have this thing they were so nice to share with me.  It was mild.  I can do this thing.  Then, I throw up.  Okay, I am thinking, Sara Beth threw up once.   Glad I got that over with.  

I am laying there in bed, in the middle of the night wide awake (3am), knowing I am sick.  Shivering uncontrollably, playing lemonade tycoon on my phone.  That was handy to have. :)   Thinking all along this was that mild stomach bug.  I am a big girl; I can handle it.  Haa, Haa, Haa.  What a joke!  For whatever reason, for me this was no mild stomach bug.  For the next 9 hrs, the toilet and I became close friends.  As did the pot in my lap.  Probably visited somewhere between 10 and 15 times.  Seriously.  I am not kidding.  That was accompanied by 103 fever and stomach cramps that rivaled my three natural childbirths.  By about 8:30 I was thinking David was going to have to take me to the ER.  By about 9:30 I was so delirious I didn't know what was going on except that I just hoped I was on my way to meet my Maker so He could put me out of my misery.  I groaned, I moaned, I called out to Jesus.  You may think I am exaggerating.  I am not.  I scared all my children to the point they thought I was on my way to Heaven.  This was the absolute sickest I have ever, ever, ever been.  Things started looking up by mid-afternoon.  I could keep ice down and I had this great medicine for my stomach cramps.  Spent the next two-three days in bed.

The results of this and the point.  The point - I got way behind on the rest of my summer.  I didn't get the part that I thought I needed.  God knows way better what we need than we do ourselves.  I finally feel somewhat caught up.  Realized some things just don't need to be done and it is okay that school starts tomorrow and I haven't finished lesson plans.  And it will all be okay.  The results - down two or more clothes sizes.  In that 24 hours alone, I lost 8 pounds.  David also lost quite a bit of weight.  Now we have no excuse to not stay in shape.  The hardest part is done!

Thanks for listening.  I couldn't begin documenting my summer and end on that note, so I thought I would start backwards.  It is much better that way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Crazy Cycle

In Dr. Emerson Egge:richs books on relationships, he refers to the Crazy Cycle.  This is basically where husband and wife go back and forth in mis-communication, vying for love and respect from each other, but greatly missing the mark.  In our family, we have a different Crazy Cycle.  It is the one where as a family you feel like that hamster on a wheel....just going.....and going.....and never slowing down.  That is how I would describe our summer.  (More details on that to come.)  The results of this - tired children, tired  mom and day, discipline issues that are difficult to address when you are on the go, messy house, no routine, poor eating habits.  You get the picture.  I kept saying, "one more week, then things will get back to normal".  Yeah, like that is ever going to happen.  Unless, we just put on the brakes.  But, when exactly do you do that?  It is easy to put on the brakes when there is nothing going on.  For one day.  Then things start popping up.  Well, for us today is that day for us.  Putting on the brakes.  Easy, you say.  Not so much.  For us this means that today I have to tell my children that they can't attend their respective sleepovers for the weekend.  (well, at least Katie doesn't even know about hers.  One less heart to break.)  This isn't going to be fun.  But, you may say, "Why are you going to break your little children's hearts?  Just one more weekend. Come on".  The parental powers were headed in that direction until we re-evaluated and realized that life was getting complicated.  And we are in control of most of that.  It is time to take back control and get off of the Crazy Cycle.  If you think about it today, you can pray for me.   I hate breaking my children's hearts.  But it is so much easier knowing that I know the reason and am sure of it, even though they won't understand.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Year, New Stuff

At this, the beginning of our 8th year of homeschooling, I thought it was time to start something new.  A blog.  It would allow the ever running conversation in my head to actually be put down.  It will also allow for guest bloggers as a school assignment.  Always trying to think of new ways to incorporate learning.  :) That learning goes for me too, because I am technologically illiterate.  Seriously.  I ask forgiveness now of any blogging mistakes.

Let me take a minute to explain a little about the name of my blog and how it fits into this family of 5.  Wildlife is a part of our everyday life.  Existence actually.  If it weren't for the wildlife that God created, then David wouldn't have a job.  He is working his dream job - owner of a wildlife and forestry consulting business.  His love for the great outdoors has carried over to the family.  We all love the great outdoors (most of it anyway - I despise spiders.).  There is evidence of this all over our entire house.  Let me give you a visual tour.   As you enter our home, you might see various experiments on our front porch - plants, bug collections, frogs and tadpoles.  Oh, and don't overlook the flower beds and yard where you might find various crops growing there - turnip greens, milo, wheat, etc place there by the natural plan God intended.  Birds eat the seed out of David's truck and deposit over our yard.  Always exciting to see what is growing next.  Inside our home, it isn't usual to find these various items strewn about - turkey feathers (as happened this week), cow bones, antlers, mud, deer jaw bones, all sorts of seeds, camoflouge, more deer antlers, maps, ticks, etc.  Some of these appear on a rotating basis, some grace us with their prescence more permanently (such as the numerous deer heads mounted on Jake's wall). 

Another aspect of wildlife in our home would be that because we homeschool and David works out of the home, things can get a little wild around here.  Well, that is just a given with three kiddos.  So, yeah, wildlife pretty much sums up our life.  I am even teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, janitor, etc of Wildlife Academy.  Cute, huh?

So, here it goes, a new year, with new stuff and a new wildlife adventure.