Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back to School?

Daniel's classes started back last week. He'll be teaching Logic and 2 Intro to Philosophy classes at Midland's Tech and Contemporary Moral Issues at USC. He's also taking 3 classes at USC (this beginning his last year of course work for his PhD.) We are also beginning our homeschool year. Last week we began spending more time in the mornings doing "school work." Dance, museum, and zoo classes are starting back up for the year as well. Monday we had a birthday party with a bunch of kids from our playgroup. Most of them are homeschooled. We have playgroup that meets at a park every Tuesday afternoon and we usually stay at the park at least 3 hours. Monday's party included the birthday girl's "fairy godmother" who came dressed up and painted faces and did some magic tricks. We all had tons of fun.
For our school work I've been teaching reading, writing, and math. Ellen's reading is really getting better and she's gaining more confidence every day. Arianna is learning letter sounds and beginning to sound out words. We also do science experiments throughout the week. Last week we took advantage of a really hot day and did an experiment about the way the color of things effect how hot or cold they get. We made different colored boxes out of construction paper and placed ice cubes in them. We made a chart of what we thought would happen.

This is what our digital thermometer said 2 weeks ago when it was really hot here. It had been in the sun for a little while so I'm not sure how accurate the reading was. But, I think it was close to that temp on the back porch. It gets direct sun all afternoon. I know it is hot everywhere but . . . 125!? I think the weather channel said it was up to 105 that day. By the way it was only in the 90s when we did our experiment with the ice and the girls weren't in the heat for very long:)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sunday Surprises

Mimi and BB drove down this Sunday to bring us this scooter. We are so thankful for their generosity. I had just mentioned wanting to get one for daniel since he only drives a short distance to and from the 2 campuses. We can certainly get by with one family car. They were quick to offer this little 2004 Honda Helix to us. Mom used to drive it along side BB's scooters. Since she hasn't been using it anymore they were going to sell it anyway. It is perfect for Daniel. He can fit his books and lots of other stuff in those compartments in the back of it. We are really excited about getting 70 miles/gallon and having very little maintenance and insurance to pay for. What a treat! Now, I just have to learn how to ride it!
Mimi and BB only stayed a few hours that day. We also had a surprise visit from our friends Shael, Lily and Cole from Greenville. She said it was too early to call before they left. We had talked about getting together that day but I was so shocked to see them standing at the door Sunday morning. The kids played. Mom and Shael and I got to hang out a bit while the guys talked about the scooter. We finished the morning with a late lunch at Moe's. So, to say the least, we had a wonderful Sunday!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trip to see Lesley!

Lesley is my oldest friend. Not that she's old (our birthday's are only 1 month apart and I wouldn't call almost 30 old, would you?) She moved to Baton Rouge when we were in the 6th grade. We became friends way back then and actually lived in the same neighborhood. Then we went to highschool together and then on to the same college, Appalachain State in Boone, NC. We roomed together in a tiny dorm that first year. We've stayed friends even though we haven't lived in the same town since 2000. She moved to Ohio for her MA then to Knoxville for her PhD in Wildlife Studies. Somewhere in there she got married and I got married and we were in each other's weddings. Now she and Jason are living in Richmond, VA. She had her first baby 3 months ago. I never got to see her pregnant and I guess it's been over a year since we've seen each other. So, on Thursday I rented a little car and drove up there--without the girls! It was a very exciting trip. I've never been away from the girls over night before. So, I was gone for 2 nights and 3 days. Lesley and I hung out around her beautiful house and talked to and played with baby Alder. We went on a long walk and ate at a great Indian restaurant. When Jason got home in the evenings we had great adult conversation. Nobody was asking me questions and I didn't fix dinner or any meal for anyone, clean up after anyone, OR wipe anyone's bottom for that whole time! I mean it's not that I don't like to do most of those things on a regular basis . . . It is just nice to have a break from daily routines every once in a while. It was a wonderful vacation and I couldn't think of a better place to spend a few days away from my family. Daniel was very encouraging the whole time. He knew how much I missed Lesley and how important it was for me to get to see her. He was excited about being home alone with the girls for a few days. They loved having all the daddy attention! We plan to get our family's together in the fall for a beach trip.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

camping trip to Sumter Natl. Forest

We spent one night in Sumter National Forest, which lies in the NW corner of SC along the boarder of GA and NC near the Chattooga River. We chose the spot for two reasons: First, we needed somewhere close. Second, we needed something for the kids. This trip took 3.5 hours (a tad on the long side for one night) but provided plenty of bang for the buck on the kid friendly requirement. The hike was only semi-strenuous and enabled us to visit two waterfalls within a short distance.
We arrived Sunday early afternoon and began hiking. After about 30 minutes we realized we entered the trail to early (a very typical characteristic of Kruidenier travel-inability to follow directions), parking further away than we had intended from our destination. Daniel jogged back to the car and moved it to our new starting place while the girls took a break. Now we were really ready.
We hiked near a mile into the woods on a slow grade mostly downhill or flat. The girls did an amazing job hiking. They each carried a pack (complete with stuffed animal, flashlight, toothbrush, and other odds and ends) and walked every bit of the journey on their own. We reached our first waterfall, Pigpen Falls, tired but excited. It was Edenic comprising of cascading falls with two major stories pouring over rock walls into a calm sandy pool. We spent the day playing in the sand, climbing rocks, swimming, and meeting some small creatures. We had met a turtle on the way down to the trail. Here we saw two snakes, a crawfish, a newt, bluegill, bass, minnows, and frogs. Below is a picture of our tent placement at the falls. That evening Ellen built us a fire. I say Ellen even though Daniel helped, because he relied completely on her enthusiasm and sheer will in spite of the damp condition of every tiny twig in the forest. When it was finally blazing she was a proud girl. Sleeping that night with the noise of the falls was wonderful. This is Ellen's art. She worked on it for a long time. It began with just a few sticks leaning against each other then she added leaves and then mud. She said it's called The Tree.

After an austere but peaceful nights sleep, with Jay protecting us until morning, we ate breakfast and packed our camp. We hiked another half mile and found ourselves at the second falls, Lick-Log Falls. These were much larger and only the base and third tier were accessible to us. At the base the falls joined the Chattoga River which made this an even more interesting site. We did some rock sliding, climbing, and falling (but nothing serious-just the occasional unforeseen rock algae and the occasional dad stunt gone bad) and tried to soak up as much of the wilderness as we could.

The return trip was more difficult. But, because of the encouragement it will give any young parent waiting for the day when they can hike with and not carry their progeny, I want to say again how profoundly impressed I was with the girls endurance, pleasure in hard work, and appreciation for being out there. It was so enjoyable hiking with them. We were exhausted when we returned to the car. But we had completed our first family camping trip in the mtns of SC and the girls first trip with so much hiking.
But that wasn’t it. We needed a nice lunch spot and so chose an interesting looking park in Walhalla SC. The park contained another easily accessible and even larger water fall, Isaqueena Falls along with a large tunnel called Stumphouse. Stumphouse tunnel is a huge hole in a bed of rock where a group of entrepreneurially minded individuals had tried to build a railroad straight through the side of a mountain. They ran out of funding maybe a 1/3 of a mile through. It now rests as a freak curiosity for onlookers like us. All you need is a headlamp and the capacity to forget all the frightening things about the dark that you have ever read, saw on a movie, or dreamt up while lying in bed. Jennifer and Ellen could not, but Daniel and Arianna made it to the end and back…alive.
Then we headed home. We had a wonderful trip and are excited to return to that part of the country for more exploring. We are interested in doing some mild canoeing on the Chattooga.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A visit from the Morrison Family

We were so excited to have our good friends visit on Saturday. They were on the way back from their family vacation at the beach. They are some of the only friends we still keep in touch with from our life in Boone. We enjoyed lunch together then the rest of the time the kids were busy playing. They dressed up, did puppet shows, jumped on the trampoline and ran around chasing the cat. We love them a lot and are thankful for the time we get to hang out with them. It is not often enough!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Daddy Days

As I said in a previous post Daniel is done teaching summer school and has a short break before beginning another round of classes in late August. Congrats should go out to him as he has done an amazing job teaching so many different and new classes at once. He taught contemporary moral issues and 2 logic classes which were all new to him. He also taught Intro to Philosophy again. He worked very hard this summer and it is such a relief when he is not teaching. We have extra time with him as he can be more flexible and not have to stay up late preparing and grading for the next day's classes.

When he came home today at 3 we were beginning to make play dough. He helped the
girls mix the colors in. I want to share this recipe here so that if you are interested in making it you'll know how. It is very easy to do and has just a few ingredients. It is a great one for the kids because they can really get their hands messy during the process. I let them do pretty much everything and try not to freak out as flour goes everywhere. After all, flour is fairly easy to clean up as long as it doesn't get wet:)

Playdough Recipe
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tarter (I don't really know what this is but it's sold in the spices section)
1 tablespoon oil (any kind)
4 cups water
food coloring
I've seen this one with add cinnamon or lemon extract for smell

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large pan. Then add the water and oil. If the dough is to be one color, add the food coloring to the water. Mix well. Then cook over a medium to low burner, stirring constantly, until the mixture changes texture and forms into a ball. This will take up to 15 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool. May divide and knead in colors now if desired. It will keep for several weeks if stored in an air-tight container.

By the way, I told the girls to put on old clothes since the food coloring will stain and they thought it was just as good to just not wear a shirt. Just thought I should explain the outfits:)

For a quick garden update, here Arianna shows off our first watermelon. Ellen is holding the squash and eggplant which we have had tons of. We did finally take up some plants this weekend that were looking sad because of the heat and started some fall greens inside.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

a visit from uncle David

This is Daniel's twin brother, David. He drove from Philadelphia to visit family and friends for a few days. We were so excited to have him. The girls had a with him. They played chase around the house, wrestled, played tons of board games, put on puppet shows and played in a band. Daniel gave him the award of most energetic guest as there was definitely no shortage of laughter and screaming while Dave was in the house. The boys got to spend lots of quality time together as well. They spent an afternoon at the library (their favorite place to be) and since Daniel is done with classes for a few weeks (hurray!!!) we had extra daddy time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

finally decorating the girls' room

I realized the other day that we've been in Columbia for exactly 1 year now. It made me think about all the things that I wanted to do to this house when we moved in. Before leaving Indy I talked to the girls about how they were going to have their own room and we talked about what it was going to look like. They wanted a big rainbow and butterflies painted on the walls. Well, on Sunday when Daniel was working, I decided it was time to change the girls room. After thinking about what the girls wanted in their room and considering my own artistic ability (or lack of) I came to the conclusion that it was not a good idea that I attempt to paint pictures on the walls. So, instead of being creative, I took the girls to Lowe's and let them pick from the 3 or 4 designs that they have to choose from. They had a Dora theme and a Princess theme along with some other typical boy themes. The girls really liked the one with the butterfly and flower design. So they each picked out a color to go on the walls and a few other decorations to match. We then came home and started prepping the room for painting. They were very involved the whole time. Monday morning we worked on their room first thing. They helped paint then played when I needed to do something on my own. Then today we painted some old picture frames to match. I'm proud of the way it turned out. I know the girls really like it and I think it was a good experience for them to learn what goes into painting and decorating a room. Next we are going to work on something for the play room. I'm hoping Daniel will design something really cool for in there. Here are some before and after pics.