Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thanks Be to God!

Sunday's Epistle from the Second letter of St. Paul to Timothy                    3:14-4:2

"Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word: be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching."

The Magnificat , October 2013 vol. 15, No. 8.

Angry Bird Corn Maze

Our Homeschool group went on another fabulous field trip to a brand new attraction, The Angry Bird Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch. By God's Grace, the weather was ideal!
This is a the first year that this farm family invested in preparing an attraction open to the public to generate income. They hired a professional to help set up their 10 acre Corn Maze into countless paths that from the air makes the field look like a giant Angry Bird. I read an article in the paper months ago telling about how the little corn plants were removed to create pathways in a pattern. The farmers also built some fun "Angry Bird" sculptures in full color that are right up against a busy road and have been a great source of advertising all summer. We were looking forward to checking it all out.

We e brought 23 children with us and about 10 adults. Our homeschool group treasury picked up the tab for half of the admission price, making the cost only 4 dollars per child. We do that to make it more affordable for everyone to attend. The more the merrier, always!
This old combine was repurposed into a climbing toy for kids with a slide off the back.
Rubber duckies race along waterways as the children use a hand pump to send water through the course.
Kids love the "corn crib" which is made up of loose kernels about a foot deep.
The kids had fun burying each other.
That is Juby buried and she assured me that she was having no problems breathing.
Talk about "Don't make a wave..."

The children played for almost an hour on the many fun things located in the picnic area while the moms chatted. Then it was time for the Maze. Wow! I am glad that we took the easy trail because we got so lost  we were in there for another hour! The corn was higher than an elephant's eye and the paths twisted and winded through 10 acres.The trail we took was a mile long if no wrong turns were made. Ha ha!
The idea was to answer 10 questions at stations posted inside the Maze. These questions were about the game Angry Birds which I have never played. Depending on the answer, one was directed to go either right or left and you would keep taking rights or lefts until the next question clue spot turned up. The mom I was with texted her teen-age sons to get the answers to all the  Angry Birds' Trivia.
After all that walking, we took a wonderful Hay Ride around the farm. We viewed the many big beautiful pumpkins. The farmer told us that they had grown over 50 varieties of pumpkins this year.

Then we watched the Pig Races which had a great deal of audience participation.
Our Field Trip was great fun. We all enjoyed being outside together getting so much exercise. It was a pleasure to support a nearby farm family and to delight in God's marvelous Creation.

Time Capsule

My niece and nephew spent the night in preparation for a trip the next day. They spent their time preparing a "Time Capsule" filled with a book of pictures of the cousins and sporting events, the flower girl bouquet that Juby carried in Jeff and Chelsea's wedding, and many other tidbits of memorabilia.
Maryhelen had prepared this book ahead of time and was planning for the "Time Capsule" before she arrived.
I loved the imagination that went into this project and the sense of adventure the kids were exhibiting.
In fact, I didn't know what they were planning until I came upon them digging a one foot deep whole in this area, now covered back up. I explained to them that this area has all of our electric, cable, phone and water lines ( from the well just to the left of the picture) coming in at this very spot. Thank God they didn't hit any of them with their metal spade!
I also explained that their Capsule won't be as much fun to open after the dirt and rain and bugs eat away at the cardboard box and items inside of  it.
They were thrilled to be offered the use of this hidden space under our staircase which we just opened up for ourselves less than a year ago.
At the last minute, they remembered to put on the box  the date on which it was encapsulated!
They plan to open it up in three years. Won't that be fun and something to look forward to?

Skyline Caverns

The Homeschool Co-Op we belong to is studying Earth Science this year. The kids have been learning about mountains and rock formations. We recently went on a very fitting trip as a group to Skyline Caverns.
Our leader negotiated an unbelieveable price to attend at four dollars per person. The Caverns folks were happy to offer it as our group brought 53 people on a Monday morning! That was a win-win situation. Equally fun was that fact that after a month of dry weather, we had heavy rains begin early that morning which would in fact last for over a week. That was no trouble because our Field trip was to take place undergroud and the rain was a non-issue!
This picture taken with the camera pointed straight up is where the caverns begin. This ledge is where the first person to find them, deduced from seeing a sink hole over limestone next to it, that he should start digging in 1937.
The first gathering place we stopped at as you go into the caverns contains this fireplace which has a natural flue in it. They used to build fires in this to warm guests as they began the tours. The entire caverns maintains the temperature of 54 degrees year round. We were dressed for that and were very comfortable.
Some lights were used to accent different rock formations but I found this Caverns to be more natural than some of the others I have seen. We are very blessed to live in an area that has an abundance of this very interesting phenomena open to the public.
Our Tour Guide was a wonderful young woman who instructed us about that types of rock formations we were seeing and answered our questions.
Since it was really raining, we asked about the possibility of flooding. She explained that only a few times, during some of the larger hurricanes we have had, has flooding been a problem. Apparently, during the earthquake we experienced two years ago, tourist groups were down in the caverns and didn't even know that there had been an earthquake! They didn't feel a thing! That is good because some of the passage ways we traveled along our 1 mile figure 8 tour were quite narrow. The formation above they described as "The Eagle", the wings and tail can be imagined.
Our Tour Guide turned out the lights, after warning the kids, to show us what "Cave Blackness" is. That is the absence of any light at all and you cannot see your hand right in front of your eyes. She explained that scientists believe that after one week of cave blackness, an individual would go blind ( from the eyes continually searching for light), after two weeks one would go crazy and after three weeks, that person would become a tour guide for Skyline Caverns!
These Anthodites ( rock flowers) were discovered and named in this cave. They are found in only a handful of places in the world. They were discovered in a part of the cavern  in which deep thick mud had formed an airtight vacuum.
This was a terrific Field Trip. It made no difference that instead of the planned picnic, we ate our lunch in the car as we drove home in the pouring down rain.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Living Rosary

Our homeschool group met for the Noon Mass, and then traveled 16 miles to our Diocesan Retreat Center for what we called A Spiritual Pilgrimage and  Nature Hike. This day was the First Friday in October and the Feast of St. Francis. We were aware of the fact that  St. Francis of Assisi was told by our Lord to  "Rebuild My Church."  Our new pope chose the name Francis. Father Sam stopped by to talk to our group while we were there. After enjoying a picnic lunch, we gathered around the  Mary Garden to pray the Rosary together.
The Living Rosary is prayed by having each person stand on one of the stones laid out in the shape of  Rosary beads to say the prayer that the stone represents. We had ten people with us, six children and four adults. That conveniently made up a "decade" of the Rosary. We prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries in which one meditates upon Jesus' Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross and Jesus' Crucifixion and Death. After all ten of us prayed our prayer aloud, we moved forward ten stepping stones to pray the next decade.
The Living Rosary stones were placed here as part of an Eagle Scout project by a young man in our parish.
Another Eagle Scout project located here is the Outdoor Stations of the Cross. These we did as well, in an abbreviated way
Then we went hiking on mowed paths around the 200 acres here. We visited as we walked along enjoying the beginnings of fall color. It was warm and sunny- probably in the high eighties! I really enjoyed the combination of the Mass, The Rosary  and the splendor of nature on this Feast Day.
St. Francis, Pray for us!

Powder Puff Football

Natalie was excited to play the Powder Puff Football game in which the senior girls verse the junior girls. The Varsity football team coaches and officiates. The seniors' shirts were a gorgeous shade of pink, the juniors were black and the coaches wore grey.
We all paid the money to attend and watch the game.
I was praying that Natalie wouldn't get hurt. This is a "flag " game not tackle, and she was fine throughout. Many girls played and I think that everyone got out there at some point during the game.
Juby got into the spirit by making a sign ahead of time and blackening under her eyes.

To our delight, Meg, Jon and the kids, as well as  Tori joined us so it was very special. We knew how much it meant to Natalie to be a part of this "School Tradition".
The boys were with us and saw many of their friends there.

By the end of the game it was dark out. The Juniors won, and all of us had fun!

Youth Hunting Day

John is thirteen and has taken both the NRA Safe Hunting Class and an Archery Class. Those things make him eligible to be an Apprentice Hunter with Larry. Uncle Tom passed onto him a great bow and they went out to hunt on Youth Day which I think is only for young people with their teachers.
I am thrilled that they can spend some special time in the great outdoors together.
The Hunting magazine published by the Fish and Game Dept has on its cover " It takes a hunter to make a hunter."  That it does. There is a lot to know and do to hunt well and safely. It is a skill- an art and a science. It can be a hobby for a lifetime. I am very happy that Larry is passing on his passion for hunting to John who is eager to learn. We need more hunters- fewer folks are hunting each year as the average age of hunters creeps up. Deer are a terrific source of lean meat for families.  Conversely, when they overpopulate an area, they are a real danger to motorists. We need hunters.
John, welcome to a long tradition in Dad's family. Good luck this year!


Chelsea gave to John the telescope she received when she was fifteen. He and Larry assembled it one evening.
It was challenging but they got the job done. The telescope works and they used it for a couple of nights in a row.
Because of its size, it is tucked into a corner in John's room. We forgot that we had a telescope last night during the extremely bright Full Moon and partial Lunar Eclipse. We will need to develop the habit of getting it out and setting it up to view the sky during these cool , clear fall nights.

Apple Picking

Our homeschool group went on a fun field trip to a local apple orchard. It was a glorious fall day and we were all delighted to be outside together!
One of the owners of this farm that has been in her family for over a hundred years read the children a story about the life cycle of an apple seed.
Then each child was invited to pick five apples each.
The trees were small and the apples large!
We went on a wonderful Hay Ride together. Our whole group could fit and the moms had a great time talking and chatting and seeing the beautiful farm sights on such a pretty morning.
Like these hogs which we could smell before we could see!
Then the kids picked their own little pumpkin from the patch.

This orchard has a busy produce market and is well known locally for its spectacular playground. The Moms and Dads ( uncle Trent was able to join us!), purchased some Apple Cider Donuts made fresh that morning and continued to visit under a large pavilion while watching the kids play with their friends. We all had so much fun, we agreed that one of the best parts of homeschooling is the fabulous field trips we go on. There must be a market for putting on field trips for moms whose kids go to school!