Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Atlantic Highlands Park and Brackridge Park

Today's park adventure was truly a comedy of errors. No worries, though, because I'm actually a "let's go for a drive" kinda gal, so I enjoy even doing that. ;)

We loaded up the van and headed out to Atlantic Highlands Park. On a whim, I decided to swing through the Starbucks drive-thru and treat myself to an iced chai latte (YUM). Ephraim was immediately begging for pumpkin bread, so I indulged him as well. Seemed like a fun day for a rare treat! Anyway, I doled out pieces of the pumpkin bread to my back-seat riders and drove on to the park. Then, I took a sip of my chai. Um, GROSS. It was not a chai latte. It was a latte, though. I don't do coffee. This was just yuck. I figured I'd just move on with my life and have fun at the park anyway.

This park is truly the most randomly located park I have visited so far. It had no sign marking its presence. Well, there was a park rules sign, but no familiar City of Jacksonville "Atlantic Highlands Park" sign. It was really just a playground in the middle of a trailer park. I have nothing against trailer parks, but this just felt like playing in someone else's yard. There were TONS of trees and shade, which is great in the hot sun; however, early on a muggy day, it just meant everything was SOAKING wet... and worse, MOSQUITO CENTRAL! It's right off the intracoastal, so I'm henceforth dubbing it "Swamp Park." ;) We seriously stayed there about 5 minutes, got 463 bug bites, and left. :) I'm thankful the city put the park there for the neighborhood kids, but I'm thinking it's not a big destination park for the rest of us. Honestly, I don't even know how I found it. I just turned right a few times, and drove on to some mud. hahah ;) Anyway, here are the pics!

Teenagers. (Don't you like how I always blame teenagers for everything that is wrong at city parks?. Let's get real, though. It's always them.)

I've never seen a swing like this at a park. Pretty cool looking, huh? If it weren't for the gallon of water and mosquito swarm, we might have tried it out. ;) 

I really took this picture for Spiderman. 

Anyway, since that park didn't work out for us, I decided I'd try again. First, though, I went back to Starbucks. We really hadn't been gone but a few minutes, so they happily replaced my latte with the correct order AND gave me a freebie for next time. Starbucks, for the win!

So, the only other park that popped into my head was one I'd looked at last night online. It was Brackridge Park. It's super far from where we were, but what did I have to lose? Sooooo.... we drove all the way from the intracoastal to Southside and Hogan.... only to find.....


And one set of swings. 

We didn't bother getting out. There were a zillion construction workers, and since my big kid is still a bit hesitant about swings, I figured it wasn't worth all the gawking (that I'd be doing at them, of course). ;) 

I know I've been to this park for a couple of soccer games, and I'm thinking that is all it is used for at this point. So, if you like swings or soccer, go check it out!

Needless to say, our park adventure was more adventure than park today! Woops!

We came home and had an outdoor picnic to make up for it... sort of.

Anyway, here are the park websites and their amenities.

Car Parking1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters1
Picnic Tables3
Playground Equipment5
Trash Barrels3

Car Parking56
Concession Stand1
Multiuse Field1
Picnic Tables5
Playground Equipment1
Security Lighting
Trash Barrels5

Better luck next week! ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back to School - Week 5!

Here is this week's lesson plan.

For the "Chalk Rock Counting" activity, I am basically doing this, but using sidewalk chalk and rocks. This is somewhat similar to last week's M&M graphing activity, and builds on that same skill.

I am REALLY excited that we are almost done with "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." I confess, I am growing very weary of it. ;) I'm also excited to switch over to the unit-style study. Basically, I've been compiling lists of things that Ephraim finds interesting (bugs, spiders, basketball, etc.). I am then finding 10 books related to the topic, since we read 2 books every day. They can be fictional or nonfictional and as loosely related as I'd like. For example, if we are learning about fish one week, we can choose a few nonfiction fish books, but we can also choose books with fish as the main characters, like Nemo. Make sense? Our crafts, art, math, and science activity will all be related to that topic as well. I tend to also add a Biblical perspective on whatever we are doing, so I'll try to figure out how to explain that in an upcoming blog. I will typically spend one week on each topic, but I may go longer if he still seems interested. He's only four, so I don't want to get too crazy (yet). :)

Also, Calvary Chapel has been revamping their curriculum! Although I failed to change it on the spreadsheet for this week's lesson plan, we have switched over to the 1-year Bible study for Little Ones (ages 2-kindergarten). This gives Quincy a little more freedom to use more of the included activities.

Anyway, I hope school is going well in your house!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Bruce Park

Today we visited another one of my childhood playgrounds. Fortunately, the thing that I remember most and enjoyed most is still there. Unfortunately, you can't really play in or on it... and the place was a dump. :( Oh well! Times change... and we had fun, regardless. :)

This park has plenty of well-used basketball courts...

And an ever-flowing water fountain... (OOPS!)

And a fun playground, with really no graffiti, so that was cool...

I love that I caught my daughter's funniest facial expressions today. :)


Swings! Two big kid swings, and one baby swing.

More basketball courts, baseball fields, and tennis courts

And THIS is what I remember as a child! The train! I remember just a gazillion kids being stuffed inside that thing, climbing and playing all around. 

Not so much anymore. There are bars to prevent entrance...

For good reason! Yikes!

It was fun (and slightly dangerous) to climb around on the outside though. :)

This is a covered pavilion where someone was enjoying a nap. HA!

Well, the kids and I have fun wherever we go, but this park was pretty trashed. Literally. Garbage was everywhere. So, I don't necessarily think you should go out of your way to visit, but no worries, there are TONS of other great parks out there!

Here is the park's website, and its amenities, as listed on the site.

Baseball Youth1
Basketball Lighted2
Bike racks2
Car Parking11
Concession Stand1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters2
Picnic Tables5
Playground Equipment2

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Back to School - Week 4!

Well, last week was pretty rough. We devoted most of our time to dealing with fevers and tonsillitis. So, we did not do our reading lessons, although we kept up with pretty much everything else. So, you'll notice we're repeating those lessons this week.

Here's the plan.

Also, I thought I'd kind of share how Ephraim's day goes, so you know how this works with our life.

He wakes up and I am already working. I grab him some breakfast and let him watch cartoons till his daddy gets up. Quincy and Aspen usually get up an hour or so later. Quincy handles the Bible lessons in our curriculum. He'll read the scripture and talk about the lesson all throughout the week. Anyway, I finish work around 9 a.m., and we get started on our day. Typically, we go for a bike ride or do something outside for at least a few minutes. At 10 a.m., we are doing something (unless it's Monday). We go to the park, library, beach, grocery store, or some place fun. We get back home around lunch time, have lunch, and then I put Aspen down for her nap. As soon as she's asleep, Ephraim and I do the reading lesson together. After we've done the lesson, we read 2 books (of his choosing). Then, we do our craft or math activity. At some point during the day, I will let him play some games on the computer. At bedtime, Quincy spends one-on-one time with him doing the Bible lesson. So, that's basically it. It's really pretty informal, other than the reading lesson. Once we finish this book, I do plan to switch to more of a unit study style, and I'm pretty stoked about that. So, here's to a week of wellness and getting back on track! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to School - Week 3!

For those of you following along, here's week 3!

For the Gumball Machine Math Activity, take a look at this link. It is pretty self-explanatory.

For the aluminum foil artwork, check out Luv Boopa later this week. This was one of my favorite things to do as a kid, and I'll share it as a kids craft! :)

By the way, based on the busy-ness of my days, I decide which day is best for which craft/game. We don't repeat them over and over. Every day after we do our reading lesson, we do some sort of creative activity... coloring, at the very least. :)

Anyhoo, hope school's going well for you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Book Project, Continued (Books 91-100)

We did it! We finished the Top 100 Children's Books of All Time! Actually, we'll probably read the "just missed the list" group as well. ;) Anyway, here's what we thought!

My review - Funny little book! George doesn't know how to bark... but you'll see why! And there's a joke at the end that I'm pretty sure only the grown-ups will understand. Check it out!

Ephraim's Review - He was silly because he just barked and he said, "I can't talk," and he said, "Hello." He said "You're crazy." 

My review - Okay, I found this book to be hilarious. I think we're going to have to read the whole series. It is actually a collection of "shorts," so  you should definitely try it out if you need a laugh.

Ephraim's Review - It is silly because they were trying to play and then they go in the dark silly hippo true of king. (No idea?)

My Review - This is story is taken from a Yiddish song about a fella named Joseph who really loves his coat, so much that he recycles little bits of it into new things constantly. I like a man who sews. Also, I wanted to sing the whole story, but have no rhythm and do not know the tune. ;)

Ephraim's Review - That was crazy, and you are so crazy I don't know what to even do!

My Review - This is one of the books that I remember loving as a child. So funny. That Miss Nelson will get those kids every time!

Ephraim's Review - That was silly because she just had a costume on, and the kids like you said, "You're crazy! I don't even know you!" That was funny at one point. 

My Review - This book was geared toward a little younger children, but it was cute and might just help your little sheep to fall asleep. ;)

Ephraim's Review - It is really funny because the sheep never sleeped, and sheeps are never supposed to sleep.

My Review - This one was a wee bit scary, but the message is about how to handle tough times, so I could see it being a really useful teaching tool. 

Ephraim's Review - That was pretty silly because the fish never came back until a shell came and the antler popped out of it.

My Review - Classic story! Everyone should read it!

Ephraim's Review - The elephants are naked because he's naked. So, he runs away and never comes back until summer today. (hahah. He found the dichotomy of city elephant in clothes and country elephant without clothes to be very funny.)

My Review - This is a funny little twist on the classic story. The ending is quite surprising as well! I think it would be fun to read all the pig/wolf stories and their spoofs at once! :)

Ephraim's Review - That's mixed up! The big bad wolf never came back to he throwed a dynamite at his backpack. That's why he got him with dynamite, but he didn't hurt so bad because he's a pig. He eats mud to help him go bad.

My Review - Well, a baby owlet dies in this story... and I'm always bummed when there's sad stuff in kid stories... but alas! It is an African folktale with the message that even one little mosquito can cause a whole lot of trouble!

Ephraim's Review - Why do mosquitoes buzz in ears? Because they are crazy, so they are peers. (He doesn't know the word "peers," he was coming up with a rhyming word for ears, and I'm pretty sure "peers" is entirely made up in his mind.)

Ephraim really wanted to type something. So, enjoy. 

ephraim p,mn 

(I suppose the "p,mn" is some sort of childhood credential.)