Sunday, June 29, 2014

Road Trip Activities

What to do on a four-day, 1,400-mile road trip?  Summer school work (as well as reading, not pictured) . . .
 . . . sleep . . .
 . . . and watch movies (only one movie per day, though).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jefferson National Expansion Junior Ranger Badges

As promised, we girls returned to the St. Louis Arch this morning, Julia's and Evelyn's Junior Ranger booklets in hand.
 Both Julia . . .
 . . . and Evelyn started working on their booklets right away.  They had to search the mural for clues to answer questions about the architect, workers and how the Arch compares to other national monuments.  The girls continued to complete activities by walking through the museum, which was really quite fascinating - the girls physically got tired of walking before their interest waned.

Ta da!  Mission accomplished!  Congratulations, girls!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The St. Louis Arch!

This evening's destination:  the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  This is also known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial . . . which means the girls were on a quest to earn a Junior Ranger badge (of course!).
 How big is the arch?  Quite enormous - there's my little Peanut, standing at the bottom of it.
 I scheduled an evening ride to the top so we could be up there while the sun set.  Here are the girls, waiting to ride in our pod . . .
 . . . and here they are at the top!
 Julia and Evelyn thoroughly enjoyed looking out of the narrow little windows at the top.  I think the only thing that encouraged them to finally go back down was the fact that it was well past their (east coast) bedtime, and they were getting tired.
 Two happy girls, in the pod, on the way back down to Earth.  As we left the Arch this evening, Julia and Evelyn picked up their Junior Ranger booklets, hoping to get a head-start on the activities before we come back tomorrow morning.

Wilbur Wright Birthplace

Shortly after crossing the Ohio/Indiana state line, I saw a billboard advertising Wilbur Wright's birthplace.  Over the past couple years, the girls and I have visited all sorts of Wright Brothers sites, but we hadn't been to this one, yet.  We also had extra time to kill before arriving at tonight's destination (St. Louis and the Gateway Arch) . . . so why not?  The birthplace was definitely off the beaten path - it was an interesting driving through the country north of the interstate - but worth the stop.
 We spent about two hours looking around, starting with the house.  The house that is currently standing is a replica of the 1860's house, which was condemned in the 1930's due to neglect.  When rebuilding and furnishing the house, special care was taken to stay historically accurate to the time Wilbur Wright lived there - from his birth in 1867 until he was about 18 months old.  The girls enjoyed looking at the artifacts from when Wilbur was a baby and imagining which room his family did various activities.
 In addition to the replicated house, there are a couple of outbuildings to visit - a barn with fake animals and information about farming in the 1860's, as well as a small hangar with a Wright Flyer replica.  The hangar had a model of a section of the Wright Flyer, so the girls could feel what it was like to try to steer their first airplane.
 Visiting Wilbur Wright's birthplace was a good culmination of everything they have learned about the Wright Brothers so far.  A lot of what we saw was review (but still fun and informative), and we learned a few new things about the Wright family.  All in all, a great place to visit . . . even if it is slightly off the beaten path.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Road Trip to Niagara Falls

Who's ready for a road trip to Nebraska?  These girls!  The car was packed, ready to go, last night.  This morning I packed a picnic-style lunch and added the finishing touches to a month's worth of packing.  We were ready to go by 7:30 a.m., with today's final destination being Niagara Falls.
 We found the massive waterfalls after dinner this evening.  Since we were pressed for time (and I hadn't brought along anyone's birth certificates or passports), we stayed on the United States side.  We had an awesome view from the observation deck that sticks out over the river . . .
 . . . and we also hiked around the smaller islands that are above the falls.  I couldn't believe how close to the edge of the waterfall we could get - I'm sure Troy would have had a heart attack, seeing the girls so close to the edge.
We had a fabulous evening at Niagara Falls - a perfect place to watch the sun set.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First and Last Day of 4th Grade

When I look back at this picture of Evelyn on the first day of 4th grade, I can tell she is nervous.  She was so nervous about riding the bus to school for the first time, and she was also nervous about meeting a new teacher at a new school with new classmates.
 Just as we thought, Evelyn fell into a rhythm at school with her new friends.  She also rode the bus without incident - never once did she miss her bus or ride the wrong one.  (Thank goodness!)
 And here's Evelyn today, the last day of 4th grade.  Cool, calm and collected, ready to rock out the last day with her 4th grade class.
 I'm not sure how this little Peanut is over five feet tall and ready to take on 5th grade, but somehow the last ten years flew by.
 Oh, and her report card was all A's.  Way to go, Evelyn!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Feisty Phoebe

This phoebe has set up residence in a nest she built above our porch light.  Thankfully it's a porch we don't use very much because she is extremely feisty.
 The reason for her being so defensive?  At least one baby is in the nest.  Evelyn kept mama phoebe at bay while I climbed a step stool to take a picture of the baby.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Julia's Stony Brook Program

This morning's Stony Brook Tiny Trekkers program focused on one of my favorite animals - turtles.  Julia learned about the four different kinds of turtles that live in Massachusetts - painted, snapping, spotted and box turtles.  After reading a story and making a craft (her paper plate turtle, pictured below), we headed out for a hike.
I brought my "real" camera to this morning's program, and Julia wanted to take some pictures.  I like this one of water lilies - it's very artistic, I think.
 Julia also got a nice shot of this blooming water lily.
 Then we got to the area where painted turtles were sunning themselves on logs.  Julia had a hard time zooming in on the little reptiles, so she handed the camera over to me.
 On our way back from the boardwalk to the nature center, we saw a family of swans.  Julia thought the four little cygnets were so cute - and I agree!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First and Last Day of Kindergarten

A look back at Julia's first day of Kindergarten last September . . .
 . . . all smiles, ready to hop on the school bus.
 Fast-forward to today, the last day of Kindergarten.  Julia is still a little cutie, but she looks older.
 Here's Julia hopping off the Kindergarten school bus for the last time.  While we are both happy that she is moving onto first grade next year, we will also miss spending weekday afternoons together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Three Shows in One Day

Today Julia and Evelyn had three end-of-year shows between the two of them.

First up, Julia's Kindergarten Memory Show.  This is also known as a musical program that highlights the major events from the school year.  Following the singing program was a reception in the classroom.  Julia's teacher had put together memory books for each student, with pictures that chronicled various activities from Kindergarten.  It is a priceless keepsake, for sure.
 This afternoon, Julia participated in her class's Little Gym "Big Show."  Her class has been working on routines for the floor, bars and balance beam.  Julia, being the little ham that she is, proudly strutted her stuff.  She has really grown in the world of gymnastics - hopefully she will want to continue this activity in first grade.
 And finally, this evening, Evelyn had her Little Gym "Big Show."  Like Julia, Evelyn showed off her routines for floor, bars and balance beam.  She has gotten more comfortable on the bars and beam, but I can tell her true love is tumbling.  Unfortunately for Evelyn, today marks the end of gymnastics; she will be committed to four days of dance a week next year.  However, all of the strength and poise she has learned in gymnastics carry over to ballet.
 One last shot of my gymnasts together, with their Little Gym medals.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spring Soccer Finale

Today was Julia's last soccer game of the Spring season.  Just like last week, she played her little heart out.
Recently she has been much more assertive, going after the ball and trying to take it away from the other team.
 She has also been working hard to pass the ball to her teammates.  Julia has always said (this year) that she really liked playing soccer.  But these past two weeks she has played well enough to show she likes the sport.
 Fortunately for Julia the goalie, there wasn't much action on her end today.  The other team got worn out towards the end of the game, and they didn't make many goal shots during the fourth quarter.
 The last game of the season means a soccer trophy, and here's our start player, proudly displaying her hard-earned award.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Boston Junior Ranger Badges

The girls have been to historical sites in Boston twice (September and December last year), working on their Boston Junior Ranger Badges.  They had to visit five different sites and work on activities in their booklets to earn these badges.  They had two places left, and today was the day to finish their booklets.

Our first stop was the Old South Meeting House.  Evelyn took off on her own, searching for answers to her scavenger hunt.  I shadowed Julia, helping her read the questions and spell out the answers.  The most interesting thing about the Old South Meeting house (for me) was learning that Benjamin Franklin was born across the street.
 Then we walked a few blocks north and found the Old State House.  In the picture below, the girls are reading the pavement marker for the Boston Massacre.  (On the train ride into Boston this morning, we girls read books about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party - both historic sites we visited today focused on those two events.)
 When touring the Old State House, we were each given a card with the name and information about a historic person.  As we walked through the displays, we were given questions about our characters - how would they respond to a certain situation, would they be involved in the conflict, etc.  This really helped the girls make connections to what they were learning about.
Oh, and the kids' area was fun for the girls to play in, too.
 After completing activities for the last two historic sites in their Junior Ranger booklets, we headed to Faneuil Hall, where the National Parks Service ranger station is.  The girls took the Junior Ranger oath, and they were awarded their badges.  This is the seventh badge the girls have earned.  And they proudly wore their badges as we made our way back to the train station.