Saturday, December 31, 2016

50 Things I am Grateful for in 2016

The assignment was to set a timer for 15 minutes and write a list of everything I am grateful for in my life or that happened in my life this year.



  1. My husband
  2. My boys
  3. My health
  4. That my grandmother (and last surviving grandparent) is still alive
  5. For my whole family
  6. Our Myrtle Beach vacation and all that we did on it
  7. Watching Alec tackle the most difficult courses at the adventure park
  8. Getting a "new" to me car
  9. Having a wonderful Christmas with the family
  10. Going to the beach so much
  11. Hiking Mount Monadnock (even if I did complain the whole time!)
  12. For my house
  13. Seeing the sunrises and sunsets that are so colorful
  14. Watching the three bald eagles soaring over the lake
  15. Taking family kayak trips
  16. Watching Evan read a chapter book
  17. Figuring out what was upsetting Evan's stomach
  18. That Ian's wrist was NOT fractured this summer like we first thought.
  19. Homeschooling and learning beside my boys
  20. Going on the science boat trip and learning about marine animals
  21. Our trip to Beavertail state park
  22. For new friendships
  23. To be able to throw my boys some memorable birthday parties
  24. Hanging out with friends at the lake over 4th of July weekend
  25. That our cat did not die like we thought he would when he was so sick
  26. For the memories of Great Wolf Lodge
  27. Trick or treating with most of my family this year; it was fun to go out together.
  28. Going to Beardsley zoo
  29. All the wonderful food we eat
  30. Being able to take my boys to the movies in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week
  31. For all the homeschooling families we "click" with and have fun with
  32. Watching my boys form lasting friendships with kids they met in pre-k!
  33. Hosting our egg drop
  34. All our nature walks
  35. Joining our letter boxing group
  36. That Evan can ride a bike and we can go on family bike rides now
  37. Nature and the beauty in the world around us
  38. That it's the end of Dec. and we have yet to see any real snow
  39. For the fun day we had at the mall yesterday!
  40. Watching my boys take turns so nicely with our new video game system
  41. Hearing my boys helping one another out
  42. Watching the boys build complicated kits and Lego sets-- you can see them thinking!
  43. Taking a day trip to Block Island this past summer
  44. Seeing my boys settle in with books each time we visit Barnes and Noble
  45. Our trip to Mystic Aquarium
  46. That when our basement flooded we didn't have to spend money on any repairs!
  47. That my aunt was able to visit us while we were on vacation 
  48. For my new comfy slippers and boots!
  49. That leggings and sweaters are all the rage right now; it's such a comfy trend.
  50. That I finished this list before the timer went off
  51. That my blog seems to appeal to a wide variety of readers and my work is starting to be recognized.  
  52. For the zoo and museum classes my boys are lucky enough to participate in.
  53. For our new internet service provider-- it has made a HUGE difference in blogging
  54. For all the fun arts and crafts projects I get to do with my boys-- and that they'll willingly participate (like these)
  55. For finally finding our groove in homeschooling; balancing hands on fun and field trips with good books and more traditional schooling subjects.
  56. For fires in the fireplace 
  57. For takeout on nights I just can't imagine cooking.

Instructions Straight from
Tales From the Motherland

So, if you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 15 minutestiming this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that make you happy, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; just write what comes to mind in the time allotted. You may find that if you use numbered mode, and just type what comes to mind, like me you will have enough time for more than 50. When the timer’s done, stop writing. Finish whatever sentence you’re on, but don’t add more. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s OK. If you have more than 50 things great; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! Add the photos, links, instructions, etc after you finish the list––the timer doesn’t matter for getting these details down; it applies to the list only.  Be sure to link back to this post, so that others can find the instructions and join in to.


To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Please include a link Dawn’s post 3) Click on the blue frog at the very bottom of this post. 4) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. (folks have trouble with this, but it’s not that hard. 5)Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.(If you have problems, contact Dawn and she'll help).

Linking Up With:
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Friday, December 30, 2016

52 Brand New in 2016

For the past two years I take time in late December/ early January to look back at our year and see what new things we've done.  My goal is to expose my kids to new experiences each and every week.  Of course some weeks we don't do anything new but other weeks we might do a few new things.  There are always new recipes we try out, new board games to play new parks to visit, and new movies to watch but when I talk about 52 brand new I really mean new classes we've tried out, new field trip or vacation spots, and new skills we've learned.  Not all skills, classes or trips apply to every one of my boys and I have to admit it was much harder coming up with 52 things this year!



1.  Trip to Beardsley Zoo-- we took the younger boys to Beardsley zoo; a new zoo!  We got to see so many new plants and animals.



2.  We planted a container garden-- We had gotten some vegetable seed packets and tried our hand at growing food.  Out of everything we planted we ended up with a few butternut squash and were happy that we successfully grew SOMETHING.


3.  We went to Myrtle Beach!-- Typical when we go on family vacation we end up going to Florida and picking a major theme park or two to visit.  This year we decided to take a road trip and have a relaxing beach vacation.  It was my boys' first time staying on the ocean and we really enjoyed walking along the deserted beaches in the morning.



4.  We went go- karting-- We took the boys to go ride go karts and they just LOVED it.  The place we went to had multiple tracks so we spent a few hours driving around and trying out a few of the different tracks.



5.  We watched a pirate show--  While in Myrtle Beach we spent an evening at Pirates Voyage.  It was a super fun and entertaining dinner show.



6.  The boys and I attended a college class on techtonic plates-- A college professor that is friendly with a homeschooling mom we know offered to teach us all about techtonic plates, natural disasters, and how to use Goggle Earth.  It was so much fun!




7.  We went to Beavertail State Park--  We have been going to a park right around the corner from Beavertail for YEARS and had never bothered to stop by.  It was such a neat park that we know we'll be back.  We got to go right up to the lighthouse and we can't wait to go back one day when the museum is open.


8.  We hung out in a campground for an afternoon with our friends-- This may not seem like much of a new experience but my boys had never been to a campground.  We had so much fun hiking and walking the trails, checking out the arcade, seeing all the courts and playgrounds.  Our friends were tenting it and the boys thought that was pretty neat too.




9.  We started letterboxing-- We joined a homeschooling group that started letterboxing through the state parks in our region.   Having never been letterboxing before we weren't entirely sure what we would think but the combination of hiking, following clues, and using rubber stamps was a lot of fun!




10.  We took a baking class with my grandmother at her nursing home-- We learned how to make apple turnovers one day quite by accident when we stopped by to visit with my grandmother at her nursing home.  The boys were asked to join in on their cooking class and they had a great day with all of the elderly patients, nurses and staff.



11.  We went trick or treating at Great Wolf Lodge AND went trick or treating door to door in my sister's neighborhood-- Obviously my boys have been trick or treating before but they had never been trick or treating at Great Wolf Lodge and surprisingly enough we had never been trick or treating by going door to door around a neighborhood.  We typically drive and visit a few family members on halloween so this was quite a treat for my boys.  It was funny how much they were thrown by walking up to someone's door, ringing the bell and saying "trick or treat!"



12.  The boys learned to use navigational tools and a compass at Mystic Seaport-- On one of our trips to Mystic Seaport this year the boys took part in a navigational challenge; learning how to use a compass, a GPS, a spy glass, and they had great fun finding all the clues.



13.  We hosted an egg drop-- I had fond memories of participating in an egg drop when I was in middle school and I offered to host an egg drop for a bunch of our homeschooling friends.  The boys packaged up their eggs, trying to ensure the egg would survive a big drop onto the patio, and then launched their eggs.




14.  The boys helped take apart our dryer when we needed to fix it-- They each took turns helping with unscrewing the various (and MANY) screws, we got to see the inside of the dryer with the drum removed and cleaned out all the accumulated lint and dust.



15.  We watched the Mermaids swimming-- on vacation in Myrtle Beach, the aquarium we visited had mermaids!



16.  We went to LaSalette Shrine-- to see all the Christmas lights.  We go out to see Christmas lights each year but the shrine has 300,000 lights spread out over 10 acres!


17.  We made crystal paper-- As a fun science experiment one day we set to work making crystal paper.  It was so neat to see!



18.  The boys got a Makey Makey--  Once they learned how to use it we had great fun playing with it.



19.  We took a 3-D printing class-- Our library has a new 3-D printer and we got to learn all about how a 3-D printer works and even print out our own projects!



20.  The younger boys helped make their own shields-- learning about many of the tools and machines in my husbands shop at work.



21.  Ian tried water skiing-- for the first time ever... he couldn't get up since the skis kept falling off but he tried and tried and tried.


22.  Evan learned to kayak-- and we took off on quite a few family kayak rides.  He is our last boy to master the kayak and we had a great time exploring new coves and areas on our lake.


23.  We ran a sawmill-- My husband took us all to the sawmill with him over the summer and we learned how to cut logs down into usable wood.

24.  We planed boards-- building on #23; once we had a huge pile of boards we used a large planer to plane all of the boards and make them smooth.  The boys took turns feeding the planer and catching the boards on the other side.

25.  We built a shed-- we used the boards from #23 & #24 to help build a shed.  True my husband did most of the work, but the boys did help a bit at certain times.  It was Alec and Evan's first time using many of the tools.



26.  We celebrated Pi day-- I figured the boys were finally old enough to celebrate and understand Pi Day (OK, so really this is just the first year I remembered Pi day before it was past!)... They had so much fun learning about this "magic" number.


27.  We learned how to keep a nature journal-- We took a class at our local nature center to learn the right way to use a nature book/journal.  We had never tried before and Alec, in particular, really enjoyed it.


28.  We went to see the Fairy Villages-- The boys and I enjoyed checking out all these mini masterpieces.  The details on many of them were amazing!



29.  The younger boys took part in a set of engineering classes at a local children's museum-- This is the first time they've tried their hand at building a pendulum, making a geodome, and using large materials to make large structures.



30.  We checked out the new amphibian exhibit at the aquarium--  We were so surprised to see a new exhibit at our favorite aquarium!  We loved how interactive a few of them were too!



31.  Ian put together a robot-- With the use of a kit and the help of his father Ian learned how to assemble a robot arm.

32.  We went to the Worcester Art Museum-- I had never taken my kids to any art museum before but we finally went this summer and my boys just LOVED it!


33.  We went to Block Island-- My husband was working away from home most of the summer and the boys and I were getting antsy at home alone.. so we took a fun day trip to Block Island.  We had such a great time wandering the town, checking out the local eateries, stores, and even the real estate offices.



34.  We took a ferry ride!-- Heading over to Block Island was the first time my boys had ridden on a ferry.  It was windy but we rode up top so we could everything!


35.  We rescued a hummingbird-- we found a limp and dying hummingbird in our garage and after looking up on Google what to do we tried to feed it some sugar water.  It was so exciting to watch it revive and fly off into the sky.



36.  We went out on an ocean research vessel for a fun hands on science lab--  My boys have been dying to partake in this field trip since they first learned of it last year.  We had such great weather and such a wonderful time learning all about the local ocean and ocean life.



37.  The younger boys and I learned how to make strawberry jam at 4-H!-- I am not one of those moms that knows how to can or put up foods so this was such a great class.  While I didn't get to help make jam I did get to sit in on the class and hear everything-- I learned so much too!


38.  We went to the Breezy Picnic Grounds Waterslide park-- Of course we've been on waterslides before but this was our first time at this particular park and we just loved it.  The park combined waterslides, a lake, an arcade and a snack bar.


39.  Ian got a subscription to EEME and started putting together electronic kits each month-- This is our first time using subscription kits and Ian has just loved learning about electricity each month.


40.  Alec taught Evan how to dive-- Evan really wanted to learn how to dive this summer so Alec offered to teach him.  It was so cute to watch them together and Evan really did learn how to dive.



41.  Alec took a few lessons in making stained glass objects with one of our neighbors-- He had so much fun learning all about stained glass and making his first project.



42.  Evan dyed his hair for the first time and the older two boys got objects shaved into their heads (A first for Alec)-- I have an "anything goes" attitude towards the boys hair and haircuts.  I know that hair is a personal expression and since hair grows pretty quickly most things won't last long so I let them get a bit crazy.  Evan had so much fun playing with hair dye and Alec just loved his pokeball.



43.  We hiked Mount Monadnock-- This was our first time hiking about the tree line and while the boys and I didn't quite make it to the very top we were quite proud of oursevles and how well we did... even if we did feel like we were not going to make it back down to the bottom.


44. The boys made their own pool floats-- I challenged my boys to make their own pool floats using pool noodles, zip ties, and anything else they found around the house.  It was a fun engineering challenge.



45.  Alec and I took an art class together-- Alec has attended a few of these "paint night" classes and I tried one in the spring with my mom, sister and mother- in- law but this was the first class that Alec and I took together; just the two of us!  It was so much fun.


46.  We ate at a Hard Rock Cafe-- I don't normally include new restaurants as new experiences but since my boys were so wowed with all the paraphernalia and music videos I decided to make an exception.  It was definitely a new experience!



47.  We took on a 100 Day Art Challenge (that we're still in the middle of!) and tried out all sorts of new materials and mediums.  Check out their beaded sun catchers.


48.  We made drippy sand castles-- my boys have always made traditional sand castles but while at the beach this summer I sowed them how to use wet, muddy sand and make drippy castles.  We then had a contest to see who could get their castle to be the tallest and biggest.


49.  We took a geocaching class-- We learned all about the history of geocaching, how to properly find (and set up) a geocache, and then we went out looking for one. We had been geocaching before but we learned so much more from the class (it was loooong) and the boys had a great time finding the special cache the teacher planned for us.



50.  We ate lunch ON the Chesapeake Bay Bridge- Tunnel-- We stopped mid way on the Chesapeake bay bridge/ tunnel to eat lunch.  It was quite the experience to eat lunch on what felt like the middle of the ocean surrounded by huge windows.



51.  We found a fledgling in our yard and read up on what to do for it--  Alec actually held the baby bird in his hand for a few minutes trying to find a safe place to put him out of the sight of the neighborhood cats.


52. Went to Ocean City, Md-- Sure we were only there for one night and it ended up being pretty cold and it was pouring rain but we could imagine the main drag filled with summer tourists and thought it would be a lot of fun in the sun.


You can read about 52 Brand new in 2014, and 2015 too.

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