Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is It The End of November Already?

The month of November has flown by quickly.  It always does, it seems.
So before it's totally gone, I have a few more autumn visits to share.

We had some very warm days in October, so I wanted to take full advantage of at least one of them for a 
Fall Adventure Day.

First stop... Brandywine Falls
BigJ reaches the end of the boardwalk first.

They had a nice bench down there too.  If I had a book with me, I could have stayed for quite a while.
The boys, however, would have never gone for that!

Heading back up to the top.

Next, after a stop at Chick-fil-A for lunch, we headed to our next stop, 
the beaver marsh.
The boardwalk followed the old canal with remnants of an old canal lock, and then came out to the marsh.
The beavers reclaimed this area for themselves, which had at one time also been a junkyard.  After the beavers moved in and built a dam, volunteers came in and cleaned it up.  It's now a lovely marsh system.

Here is the beaver's lodge, though we didn't see any beavers that afternoon.
It was probably too warm for them, since it was 78 degrees while we were there.
There were benches here, and again, it would have been a lovely reading spot.

We did see some birds, some ducks, a heron, and this catfish pair.

Now that all the leaves have fallen, and Thanksgiving has passed, I guess I should admit that the Christmas season is on it's way.  I always wish fall would last a little bit longer, so I'm glad we took the time to enjoy it before it quickly slipped away.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bare feet and crunchy leaves on a warm fall day.
Handmade leaf showers!
Looking at the world from a different point of view.
Jumping in leaves and on the trampoline at the same time.
Helping my sister enjoy the fall leaves too!!
We were so glad for last week's wonderfully warm days.  
We hit the upper 70's and it was gorgeous.

That was the last of it though.  
We went from a week of 70's to this week being only in the 40's with lots of rain.

I'm still hoping for some fairly warm November days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Charles Dickens liked fall too!

I ♥ Fall!
It is truly my favorite season.
So I thought I'd share a poem I recently found by one of my favorite authors, 
Charles Dickens.

Merry Autumn Days

'Tis pleasant on a fine spring morn
     To see the buds expand,
'Tis pleasant in the summertime
     To see the fruitful land;
'Tis pleasant on a winter's night
     To sit around the blaze,
But what are joys like these, my boys,
     To merry autumn days!

We hail the merry autumn days,
     When leaves are turning red;
Because they're far more beautiful
     Than anyone has said.
We hail the merry harvest time,
     The gayest of the year;
The time of rich and bounteous crops,
     Rejoicing and good cheer.

The boardwalk through Jackson Bog
We had a lovely little hike through the Jackson Bog several weeks ago.  It's an enjoyable 1 mile + walk.

This part of the boardwalk is either sinking or the bog is rising.
My shoes got wet!
We also went to the Wilderness Center on a nice warm morning last week.  It ended up being warm, sunny, and a very nice hike.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fort Meigs ~ Perrysburg, OH

The next day after our visit to the art museum, we planned to explore Fort Meigs
a War of 1812 fort along the Maumee River.
We have an Ohio Historical Society membership which provides free entrance to all OHS sites.

Fort Meigs is not only a reconstructed fort on the original site, but a museum with history displays, archaeological artifacts found on-site, and a museum store.
The 7 blockhouses serve as mini-museums as well.

One of the hands-on interactive displays in a blockhouse.
Several blockhouses were open the day we were there.
Just so you know, we were there on a school day and had the whole place practically to ourselves.

Hmmm.... I wonder where they got that cannon from?  Very cool.
I'm hoping to visit again during a reenactment event.
Maybe in the spring when they celebrate their 200th anniversary.
Sounds like another great Ohio field trip!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why I Love Art Museums

Stegosaurus by Alexander Calder
It's been a tradition of ours for as long as I can remember, to begin each new school year with a field trip.

The Toledo Art Museum was our first stop this year.

We studied Alexander Calder last year while reading The Calder Game, so it was nice to see this sculpture outside the front entrance.  A Calder mobile also hangs inside. I like Calder.

I don't remember studying great art in K-12. Why was that anyway?  Was there not enough time to look at art?  I really find that hard to believe, and unfortunate.  Yes, we went to the art museum once, but only once in those 13 years.  Why?

I may never know the answer to that, but I do know that I love art museums.  They are really amazing places.  So quiet, calm, and inspiring.
I especially loved this Claude Monet.  It was absolutely beautiful.  
Antibes Seen from La Salis by Claude Monet
I was also thinking when we arrived back home; you could get a complete and fulfilling education from an art museum.  Describe a favorite painting.  Study the Mediterranean and geography.  Study trees or the science of color.  Figure the area of various paintings.  The possibilities are endless I think.
And if I lived closer to an art museum, I'm positive we would be visiting several times a year.

Middle Ages Gallery
Enjoy your next trip to an art museum.  They hold more than just a bunch of paintings and artifacts.  
They hold inspiration, creativity, and wonder.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Mohican Fire Tower

     On our trip to Mohican State Park to do some hiking a few weeks ago, we stopped at the Mohican Fire Tower which is located within the park along the main road.

Built in 1934.

Stands 80 feet tall. 

Almost 100 steep steps (I counted).

Single file. 

No more than 6 people allowed at one time.

Climb at your own risk.  

Hmmmm..... sounds good.  

So up we went.
All 5 of us.
To the very top.

 Or, at least as far as we were allowed to climb.  
The enclosure at the top was boarded up and inaccessible, but the view from the highest point we could reach was fantastic.

We had a little rain earlier in the day while we were hiking a trail, but the skies were now clear and you could see for many miles.

Can you imagine how beautiful this will be in the fall?

April and Little J enjoying the view at the top.
We've had a long hot summer, and I'm excited for fall to arrive.  
We already have some leaves changing and falling in our front yard, which is early for us due to the lack of rain throughout the summer and the cool nights that have finally arrived.
School has started for us as well; the sure sign that summer is over, but the perfect time for field trips. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mohican State Park

It's late August and many of the local schools are starting back up again.  So, in honor of the first day of classes for Erica (on the 20th), who's at Ashland University this fall, we decided to go hiking at Mohican State Park.
 We started out at the gorge overlook with a little natural history lesson.

I always stop to read 
historical markers.

My family must think I'm crazy, because they just pass them by.
They really start to roll their eyes when I read the information out loud to them!

But I refrained this time.

I took a picture instead so I could read it to them later... HA!

The gorge is one thousand feet wide, and over three hundred feet to the bottom.  It contains a rare forest ecosystem that is virtually unchanged since it's creation by ice age glacial waters.

Now see, I find that amazing!  And Johnny Appleseed even planted apple orchards nearby.

The things you can learn about from just a little sign.... ahhhh.
But.... ONWARD.  It was time to find the Big Lyons Falls.  It started to rain a little too, so thought it was best not to linger too long.

The trail to the falls is a 2-mile round trip, and we had to wait for the rain shower to lessen, but we finally got there.
HAHAHA..... Where's the water??   
There was very little rain this summer.  Remember?  Oh yea.
So this falls must not be very big to begin with.

Here's a close-up, where you can actually see the falling water.
Maybe we'll have to go back next spring and compare.

On the trek back, the sun came back out and I made everyone 
put their muddy shoes in the trunk!
We weren't finished yet though.  
On the way out of the park we stopped to climb the fire tower.
I think that will have to be another post though, or I'll never get this one posted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Beginnings.... Round 2.

My two amazing and wonderful adult daughters!  Wow... why does the time seem to go by so fast?
And yet, it seemed like it would never arrive.

Time is funny like that, I guess.

This past spring we graduated Erica not only from our home school, but she graduated from the culinary program at a local career center.  Our spring was quite busy with a backyard party and 2 graduation ceremonies.

And then she waited...all. summer. long.  She worked, she did community theater with friends, she waited some more, but the day finally arrived.  Last Friday we dropped her off at the college dorm at Ashland University.  A new beginning...
A grand adventure.

There was a time when our grand adventures looked like this... not so long ago really. I'm so very proud of both of them.

The journey we have all taken together has been wonderful, and now their separate journeys move us along to new things.  It is wonderful to see them adventuring into the unknown and growing more confident in who they are and who they want to become.   I'm so thankful for the years we've spent growing together.

My role has changed with my daughters.  
I love this new adventure we are on.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My 2012 Reading List

I had a good reading year in 2011.  Though some of you might not think 11 books is very many in one year, for me it is a huge success.  Here are the books I read last year.
  • The Time Machine & The Invisible Man
  • Looking For The King
  • Till We Have Faces
  • The Word Snoop
  • Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship
  • Oliver Twist
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • The Complete Works by George MacDonald
  • The Princess and Curdie
  • The Princess and The Goblin

I enjoyed them all and started looking forward to a new year of new reading.  

Well... 2012 has gotten off to a slow start.  It's almost April and I've only finished 2 books.

The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures was my first book for the year.  I ran across this book while searching the library catalog for math-related school books.  It sounded interesting, so I decided to pick it up.  I wasn't so sure about it at first, but as I went along, I found myself hooked into the story line and wanted to see how it was all going to end.  

If you aren't a lover of the mysteries of numbers and math, then you might not enjoy it so much.

I thought it was very interesting though and enjoyed the way "the man who counted" solved the everyday math dilemmas as he traveled the Middle East.

The second book I read was Signing Their Lives Away:  The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence.   
                                           U.S. history has turned out to be one of my favorite things.  I would have never thought that in high school, because back then I found it all rather boring.  Throughout all our home schooling years though, we've never owned or read a history textbook.  We've read library books instead.  It's amazing how interesting history becomes when you read biographies, historical fiction, and topical history books written by professional writers.  We love to read what's called "living" history books.  

There are lots of books out there about the signers of the Declaration, and this is just one of them.  It was very good and enjoyable to read.  I liked the way the authors told the signer's stories without getting too long-winded, and how they found something interesting to say about each of them.  They aren't just signatures on one of our most important documents, but personalities come to life.  

So, that leads me to the present.  I am currently reading The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.  Why?  Well, I've never read it, and it was one of the earliest books that was circulated in the early colonies.  Originally published in 1719, it was a treasure, and people considered it a privilege to be able to read it, let alone own it.  I am 110 pages in and enjoying it.

So there you have it.  My reading list for 2012... so far.  What will be next?  I haven't a clue.  
Most of the time, one book leads me to the next.  
I'll just have to wait and see.  Happy Reading.   


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's Been Lurking in our Backyard.

After the Sun and Moon, what are the next two brightest objects in the night sky?
Venus and Jupiter!

Right now, in the western sky, Venus and Jupiter can't be missed.
They are extremely bright and close together, and we have a very clear night to view them as well.
No telescopes needed.
I took this tonight from my back porch looking west.
We have a beautiful view.
Venus is the brightest one on the right, and Jupiter is on the left.  They will not be this close together again until 2036.  So, if you can, go take a look.  The picture doesn't do justice to the amazing brightness of these two planets on a clear night.   Also, after looking at Venus and Jupiter, turn around and look east and you will see an orange-red object.  That will be Mars.  

So what else was in our backyard today?
This lovely little creature.  A common snake in Ohio, the Eastern Gartersnake. 
And how was he discovered?  
BigJ almost stepped on him with his bare feet while playing in the backyard with LittleJ!  
He gave out a pretty big scream too.  BigJ, not the snake. Haha.

We watched him for a while and then saw a second one.  The second one was smaller and scurried along much faster.  As for our first friend, we followed him (or tried to shoo him along really) towards the neighbors yard. 
 Happy trails.... 
And I hope we don't meet again!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Birthday LittleJ !!

This week we celebrated LittleJ's 5th birthday.  
I can't believe he's 5 already. I'm greatly enjoying these days of preschool curiosity.
He's also quickly moving into the Lego phase, even though his Duplos will still get a regular workout, so he was more than delighted to see some Lego boxes appear under the birthday wrappings.

It's so nice that Lego makes some kits now for the younger guys.  This one has lots of large pieces and stays together when played with, so it's perfect for a 5 year old Star Wars lover.

He's also enjoying the new planet sets they have, which are also great for younger hands.  We bought him the Naboo one, but I may go back to the store and buy the other 2 that are out right now and put them away for Easter and Christmas.

He also loves to play games, and can definitely play a mean game of UNO.  So when we saw the Angry Birds game, we thought it would be perfect.  
He loves it!

Now, what about the birthday cake?
Little J chose cupcakes.  Yellow cupcakes with white frosting and blue sprinkles.
They turned out fabulous, even with the M&Ms we sneaked into the batter.

Oh, and things would not have been complete without a little cupcake tower we made as well.  
I had fun putting it together and decorating it up.  Though white paper would have looked better, I simply recycled some packing paper and boxes, and we thought it turned out great.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LittleJ!! ♥ We love you!♥

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Old Portage Path

Monday was a gorgeous February day.  
We had beautiful blue skies and sunshine, 
and a high of 52 degrees.  

Since the day was going to be so nice, I decided 
it would be great to be outdoors, 
and so I spent a little time looking for somewhere interesting to visit.

We ended up on an adventure to find two bronze statues of an Indian carrying a canoe, one at each end of the Old Portage Path.

The directions on the websites weren't very specific, and I wasn't so sure that we were going to be able to find them, but then we found someone at a local historical society who told tell us exactly how to find each one.

And we were off!
This map shows the canoe portage between the two rivers.
Here we are at the survey marker of the north terminus, with
the Cuyahoga River in the background.
Eureka!  Bronze Indian #1 emerging from the river, heading south with his canoe.
It's an 8 mile portage.
No, it's not exactly wilderness anymore.
The modern road basically follows the historic path and is appropriately called Portage Path Rd.

Next, getting onto Manchester Rd., we finally made it to the south terminus.
The new survey marker based on the original survey from 1797.
Here we are with the south terminus Indian who's looking to the north.
The Tuscarawas River is behind him.
This area is also interesting because it crosses a continental divide.  The Tuscarawas River flows south to the Ohio River, and the Cuyahoga River flows north to Lake Erie  Here is some information on the significance of the portage and the divide.  The lady at the historical society said that at this point you could see the water flowing in two different directions, but I guess we didn't know quite where to look for that.

We had another great Ohio field trip, on a nice winter day.
And if you've never stopped to check out the bronze Indians, now you know why they are there!