Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding a park to play

  Did you ever have one of those days?  You know, one of those days where nothing seems to go right?  That's the kind of day we had yesterday.  It wasn't exactly bad, but it sure was stressful dealing with curve balls thrown at me with every turn.  It started out innocent enough.  I woke up, went downstairs and was joined by Evan.  We had a nice breakfast and conversation and I headed back upstairs to get dressed and ready for the day. 
   The boys and I decided to head out on a field trip.  It was a beautiful day and we wanted to try out a new place-- Bakerwoods.  I've heard good things about the place.  It's cute with I-spy gnome trails, animals, and woods.  It's free and not too far away.  I thought it might be shady with trees and a perfect place for a picnic.  My sister was going to join us with my niece and while I knew it was going to be tough to get everything done on my list and get out the door on time I thought I could do it. 
   While the boys got all ready for the day and relaxed for a bit with screens I cleaned our basement and the bathroom we have down there, getting all ready for some company this weekend.  I did some laundry and grabbed my grocery list.  I had asked the boys to pick something, anything that we could call schoolwork and work on it in the car while we checked out a new grocery store.  They willingly agreed and Ian pulled out his extreme dot to dot book, pencil, markers, and his color by number book.  Alec pulled out his Sassafras Science Adventures book and Evan wanted to work on some Mad Libs.  Alec reluctantly agreed to work with Evan and the two of them spent the car ride going over nouns, adjectives, verbs, and more.  Alec worked really hard on spelling too, spelling each word out loud to make sure he was spelling them right (he was).  It was quiet and they were working really well. 
    We got to the grocery store and discovered that carriages require a quarter deposit to use them.  I think it's a great idea for keeping the parking lot empty and the carriages together but I wished I had known.  Not having been to the store before I had no idea-- and no quarter!  Luckily it was a short grocery list today and I had my shopping bags so we started in and I piled things into my bags as we went.  The boys were loud and I had to reprimand them a few times.  They tried to be helpful but boredom got the best of them at times and, to top it off, we left the store without a few products that this particular store just didn't seem to carry.  I wasn't happy but I wasn't terribly disappointed either.  I did, however, spend most of the 15 min. drive home trying to figure out WHEN I was going to get the rest of the groceries on my list by this weekend when our days were pretty well booked already. 
   On the way home we all listened to our Heroes of Olympus book and Ian continued to work silently in his books.  The boys played nicely with one another out on the swings while I put the groceries away.  I called them inside to help me pack up their drinks and see what they all wanted for lunches.  It was getting late and I really wanted to head out soon.  I was like a blur in our kitchen (which means I also got a few small bumps and bruises and made a slightly bigger mess than usual trying to make sandwiches so it actually took me longer to clean up than if I had just gotten ready at regular speed and had  been more careful).  We got our food all packed up, grabbed our sunscreen and headed out.  The GPS said it would be 40 minutes until we reached Bakerwoods and we settled in to listen to our book after I called my husband to warn him that our washing machine was not spinning the clothes dry (something I discovered as we were walking out the door and I tried to quickly switch the laundry). 
   We were awfully disappointed to get to Bakerwoods and find out that they are only open Fri- Sun!  I was a bit miffed since their website said nothing about times, days or hours but I quickly turned on the GPS and hit local area attractions.  Less than ten minutes down the road we found Ashford Memorial Park.  Never sure what the "park" is going to be like when it's just a name and address on the GPS I was already trying to think of where else we could go.  The park was beautiful!  We stopped to have our picnic lunch and the boys played on the playground equipment.  We still soaked in some sunshine and had fun but my heart wasn't really in it.  I felt like I wasn't really living in the moment and "there" with my kids since I was still trying to think of something more that we could do and I was trying to get a hold of my sister so she could know what was going on.  I really wanted to walk in the woods and experience something more than sitting and watching my kids play.  The curveballs of the day were piling up and all my joy was slowly ebbing.  Luckily, they still seemed to be having fun anyway.

    I spotted a hiking trail and persuaded the boys to go check it out.  I was still thinking of other places we could possibly stop and hike or go for a nature walk on our way home.  We got to the trail head and found that it wasn't a mowed or groomed trail (which, ordinarily would not have been a big deal but we all had flip flops on).  We all elected not to go traipsing through the tall grass and I couldn't help but think it was too bad.  On my GPS I had noticed a thin blue line indicating a stream or a river that I'm sure we would have been walking near.  Instead we walked around the ball fields and saw a lot of grasshoppers, butterflies, wild flowers and plants.  Again; the boys were content and pointing to things excitedly and I felt like I was distancing myself from it all.  I was busy texting back and forth with my sister telling her not to bother coming since Bakerwoods was closed and I didn't have any other great ideas of things to do.  The boys all agreed they had fun, had had enough and wanted to go swimming at home. 

   We settled in for the car ride home and the boys did a few more Mad Libs, Ian worked in his books (and completed a whole page in his extreme dot to dot book), and we all listened to more of our Heroes of Olympus books.  We actually had to change CD's twice today so we listened quite a lot.  I told them I wanted to stop at the library on the way home.  We had lots of books to drop off and a few waiting to be picked up.  Alec had finished all of his Greek Mythology books and wanted to see if they had Roman mythology books too.   But, even the library didn't go as smoothly as it should have! I forgot that our library cards were on my other keychain and I didn't have them with me!  I was bummed but just sighed and said we'd be back another day.  We proceeded inside to drop off books and told the librarian we wouldn't be picking any books up since we forgot our cars today. 
    We were stopped by another one of the librarians, who was handing out popsicles for the day, and she offered to let us check out books in secret by looking up our name (even though we had asked and were told that it was not possible).  But it's a secret since they're not supposed to do that so---- shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!!  I was grateful that they offered to look up our account for us.  We are there so often that they know us all by name and yet it still amazes me when they go above and beyond for us.  I just love our library and all our librarians.  The boys do too!  We have one librarian that discovered Alec's love of stuffed animals and has been searching her collection for a frog for him.  She remembered us and talked to Alec today, let him know she hasn't found a frog yet and mentioned several other animals that she has available.  It's so sweet.  But I found that even at the library once all the curve balls were dealt with I still wasn't relaxing and enjoying our day.  I should have been too.  The boys were happy.  Alec found a few mythology books (he even proceeded to read King Midas and the Golden Touch while we were there) and several other books about animals, butterflies and caterpillars, Ian picked out a book called Naked! that he thought looked neat, and Evan found one on Chameleons.  They were all, once again, completely happy and nice and sticky from their popsicles! 
He should be set for a few days anyway!

    Ian wanted to read his book on the way home so we didn't listen to The Heroes of Olympus until we were almost home, but the younger two contented themselves with looking through some of the books they checked out.  Once home they all wanted snack and asked if I could read them another chapter in Harry Potter while they ate.  As if I'd say no! They kept asking me to pause in my reading so they could interject different part of the movie, make predictions, or even make connections from the book to the movie (Oh! It's Cedric Diggory that Harry trades secrets with!).  I'm well used to these interruptions but they're starting to happen so frequently through each of the chapters in this book that they're starting to annoy me and since I was already feeling irritable I just wanted to get through the chapter and be done.  Sounds lovely doesn't it?  What can I say?  Not everyday of homeschooling is picturesque and I've learned that that's OK.  Some days it's enough of an accomplishment to say we just got through it.
    They played in the lake until they were no longer playing and were instead arguing, yelling, fighting and trying to drown one another.  I pulled them out, made them sit far apart from one another and take a break.  I couldn't help but wonder if my funk had finally warn off on them.  They chose to dry off, change and play outside for awhile.  They eventually went inside to watch movies and play video games.  We finally figured out how to update our Minecraft games (per Evan's suggestion) and the boys were happy to explore all the new features of the game and hatch new animals for their worlds.  I was happy it was almost dinnertime and that bedtime would follow soon after.  I was ready for a do-over of our day and was determined to have our week end on a much more positive note. 

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