Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Jersey 2

We went back to Child's Park this year. Yes, it does seem to be a lot of hiking with waterfalls, now that I blog about it, but it was so beautiful and so fun!

This park has a series of waterfalls with trails of varying difficulty running around and across them.

The kids had a great time clambering over rocks beside the roaring water!

Leena wanted to have her picture taken like this. She's surfing on a rock, if that's not clear.

Here's a rare picture of all of us, thanks Mom!

When we had hiked to the bottom of the last big cataract, we came to a wide shallow run of smooth water. Most of the kids poked around looking for frogs. Choclo and Oob enjoyed their favorite NJ activity: throwing rocks into water.

Leena noticed that if you put a bigger rock in the water, you got a little waterfall going over it.

This led to a small pile of rocks as the project attracted more and more Zoomlians. Eventually, they constructed a small wall sturdy enough to walk 1/3 of the way across the water. There's a metaphor for the way I homeschool in there, I'm sure!

Aside from throwing rocks in the water (did I mention my parents live on a lake? And have a gravel driveway?), Choclo's favorite thing has become checking the fluid levels in Blue Streak. Mostly he enjoys looking at the engine and naming all the parts I know. we spent the better part of an hour walking around the big van, naming all the parts (with me looking through the manual!). Brings a new meaning to Carschooling!

It was really hard to leave this time. We had such a wonderful time. We lingered as long as we could. We looked through a lot of slides and pictures. We told a lot of family jokes and stories. We enjoyed each other immensely. And yet, I can see my parents getting ready, and getting us ready, to say goodbye. There was a taste of "the last time" in this visit. I don't think anyone is ever ready for that, really, but I know it is helping me. Seeing them pouring themselves out to help others and to show us how much we are loved, was a beautiful, if bittersweet, gift.

I have so much to be grateful for in my parents. It really has made me think about what I have been given and what I want to give my kids and my spouse. I'm hoping to blog about that in the future, but it's still too close right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Jersey

We stayed in NJ nearly twice as long as we had intended. My parents had some health problems while we were there, so we stayed to help out a bit, but we also went out and did lots of fun stuff.

Living in Maryland for nearly 20 years, the woods here aren't as strange as they used to be, but the Jersey forests are right in a way that Maryland's still aren't!

It was lovely to hike Tillman's ravine.

It was exactly the right kind of rocky: challenging enough to make it fun, but doable with little kids.

The trees clothed it in cool shadow and dappled gold

The stream along the bottom arced and leapt playfully in little waterfalls and pools.

Zorg's comment was, "Things are much wilder up here!"

They were, too! We saw dozens of graceful deer and shy fawns. Twice we saw big black bears. We saw the resident flock of wild turkeys several times along with herons and bald eagles, bats, and rabbits (not flying).

It was great to spend time with my folks. Choclo decided that Mumpy was the bees knees (why walk with Mommy and Daddy when Mumpy will hold your hand?).

The long awaited day of having masses of kids able to do useful things arrived while we were up there. Do you have a large brush pile which needs to be cut into 2 foot lengths? With 6 people cutting and carting and 2 small people picking up stray sticks, we can chuck more wood than a woodchuck could... Oh, yeah, we saw a bunch of woodchucks and chipmunks. Anyway, the reward for the wood chopping was a bonfire and marshmallow roast with Pa! Yum! Yum!

Kicking off our big American History project, we visited Millville, a reconstructed village from the 1800s. We went early on a Monday and had the whole village and both historical reenactors/park rangers to ourselves! The kids had tons of questions about everything, and the rangers were really delighted by their interest.

One of the really neat things about Millville is seeing the rough log cabin a poor person lived in right next to the nearly modern looking clapboard farmhouse of a mill owner. Neither had indoor plumbing, mind you!

More later!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We're Back!

I had meant to do a post that we were going on vacation...

I had meant to blog some while we were gone...

And I got back to an overflowing e mail box , one of which asked, "Long time, no hear. Everything OK?"


We just got back from a week at the beach.

The week before was Mxyl's scout camp and our crazy week of trying to catch up because...

The two weeks before that, we were at Mumpy and Pa's in NJ.

But we are back now and done with traveling for a while!

The short story is that we've all had a marvelous time and have now relaxed enough that Leena's hair has gone straight (just kidding about the hair!).

Details and pictures this afternoon (and probably the next few days)!