Friday, September 15, 2017

Trip to Muncie, Indiana

My mom had a family reunion in Muncie, Indiana and wanted someone to go with her, so she offered to pay for my plane ticket if I would come. Three days alone, doing whatever I wanted and only taking care of myself? Yes please!! I did a lot of sleeping, eating, and reading. It was heavenly. We also checked out this awesome botanical gardens/education center founded by the Ball family (the makers of the mason jars with the Ball name on the outside). It is a combination historical site with their family homes, educational garden, orchard, and decorative garden. We had so much fun exploring everything!

Diorama of all the historic homes and a history of who lived in them. Now they rent them out for events.

There was a lot of canning memorabilia since they are the makers of the canning instruction book and the canning jars. It made me want to learn how to can!

Gorgeous roses in the rose garden:

This spider decoration tricked me from far away! I wasn't sure if tarantulas were a thing in Indiana. Thankfully they aren't!

They had a little free library full of only children's books. I was in heaven! I ended up with two of them.

This was my favorite one ::)

We discovered a cherry tree! We picked a few and tried them, they were pretty sour. 

There was a really cool children's garden with tunnels made out of large pots and all kinds of digging equipment. They even had a child size potting shed full of child size gardening tools! It is kind of a bummer finding these things when you don't have the kids with you.

A garden tortoise:

My mom testing out the construction equipment:

You can also feed the Koi.

I found a painted rock! It is amazing how this has become a thing all over the country!

My favorite part was their little instructional garden. It was full of all kinds of varieties of plants and was so interesting! Their sign said that they made it to show just how much food you can grow in a small space. This tall vining plant is actually a kind of spinach! It said that it is heat loving (which is great for florida) and the fact that it will vine up means that the bugs won't get it on the ground, which is a big problem for us in growing lettuce type plants.

Asparagus! I have read about what asparagus looks like growing but I have never seen it before:

Watermelon. We have never been able to get watermelon to grow, so I am always amazed to see it:

Yellow squash:

An apple tree full of apples! I realized that I had never seen an apple tree in person before.

So I had to pick one and try it. It was delicious! When I told James about it later that night, he insisted I go back and pick him one and bring it home.

The next day we went back for their farmer's market and I had to buy some of these hot peppers for Anthony. One of them is currently the hottest pepper in the world, twice as hot as a ghost pepper! Anthony cut them up and dried out the seeds so that we can grow some more. He tried a tiny bit of it and said that it definitely was hot.

We also found this cool variety of tomatoes called pineapple tomatoes that, according to the farmer, are less acidic than most tomatoes and has less seeds. Look at how huge they are!

We had to stop by the garden again and get some more pictures for Anthony.

The park the family reunion was at had his beautiful creek running through it and people would kayak by. I really loved how beautiful the weather was, so cool and not humid at all.

While I was gone, Anthony's parents came and helped watch Rett and pick up James from school. At first they were just going to come on the days Anthony was working, but then they ended up staying the entire time I was gone. So Anthony never really got the "I have both kids by myself" experience, but they had a good time :) They went shopping at Sam's since Anthony's parents have a membership. Anthony sent me this picture of them having fun in the store:

Since this was the longest I have been away from the kids ever (5 days total including travel days), I needed Anthony to send me proof of life pictures to show me that the kids were being fed and cared for :)

Saturday Anthony was texting me in the morning (while I was still lounging in bed!) and I tried to give him ideas of what to do with the kids all day. They finally settled on taking them to the marine center to pet the sting rays and see the sea turtles.

Our hotel in Muncie was right next door to a Rural King. I had heard about this store before, but didn't know quite what it was. It turns out it is a mix between Walmart and Tractor Supply, so there was a lot of fun stuff to look at. They had a lot of baby chicks in the back of the store and I had to take a picture of these. They are partially pink! I have no idea why, when I looked it up I couldn't find an examples of that type of chicken having pink feathers. Maybe it is from a medication? Strange!

A pizza restaurant we went to had a fun way to order, each table had a red phone and you would pick it up and it would ring to the cashier to tell them what you wanted. I was so glad I didn't have to be the person to order through the phone. That is pretty much my nightmare, to have to sit there and talk in the phone and give someone everyone else's order while they stare at me.

The second day of the family reunion, they have a fun tradition where everyone brings a wrapped bag of something (like at a white elephant) and they auction off the bag. Then they collect the money everyone pays for the bags and use it to fund next year's reunion.

This is my mom's cousin (I'm not sure what that makes him to me) but he was the auctioneer, trying to get everyone to pay top dollar for everything :)

It was a fun vacation, but it was nice to get home. Anthony hugged me the hardest I think he ever has and kept saying, "Never leave again!!!"

Saturday, September 9, 2017

First Day of School and new tortoises

A day after getting home from the Keys, it was time for school to start! We already met James' teacher a few weeks ago, Ms. Alois. Her class is the only 1st grade classroom not in a portable and right next to his kindergarten classroom last year, so it was a good transition. He was so excited that he got Ms. Alois as a teacher, he said that she was the one he wanted for 1st grade. Last year she won the charter school teacher of the year for the state of Florida, so I was glad he got her too!

When he walked in, he had to find his number on a list of names and put his things in his number cubby.

Then he found his seat and was amazed to discover that he had school supplies inside the desk. It was very exciting! (Last year in kindergarten they had the desks turned around so they didn't use the inside)

He also go his very own crayon and pencil box and doesn't have to share them with the table. Also very exciting!

His favorite thing about his new class is that they have a classroom pet, a lizard named Gus and the kids get to take turns going out into the garden with the teacher to pick lettuce and vegetables for him. James can't wait until it is his turn!

Holding our frizzle chick. She is getting big!

We are trying to hold Casper a few times a day to get him used to us. We estimated that he was only a month or so old when we caught him, based on how long he was.

Rett is excited to start up preschool at home with me again. 

We are almost done with the preschool level curriculum I've been using with him, so I ordered the next level. It is kind of intense, but we have a year to work on it. I'm fairly certain he will be reading before VPK.

One morning when I went out to check on the chickens I discovered this snake in the quail cage! It is a yellow rat snake, but they are also called chicken snakes because they are known for eating small chickens and their eggs. It looks like it came into the cage from a low hanging tree (since there is an electric fence around the bottom of the cage). Once it got in, it killed two quail before eating a third one. Once it ate a quail, its stomach was too fat to get out of the cage, so he was stuck!

I got our snake hook from the house and used it to pull him out of the cage. I couldn't just let him go because anytime he was hungry he would come back and eat more quail. I guess I could have put him in a cage and relocated him far away, but it didn't occur to me at the time. So I killed him with a shovel. Can't be squeamish about these things living in the country!

We planned on buying a few more tortoises at an upcoming reptile show, so we decided to combine Casper and a few tortoises in one big cage, since they have the same food and light requirements. That means the animal corner is expanding!

The night before the reptile show, a turtle and tortoise club had a lecture series you could go to. They were giving away a baby Galapagos tortoise, so we had to go and try to win it! It was really interesting, a veterinarian who actually went on an expedition to the Galapagos talked all about his trip and had slides and everything. We didn't end up winning, but it was fun to try. To actually buy a Galapagos tortoise cost $5000, so getting one for free would have been amazing!

Petting an albino iguana:

We bought two baby tortoises, the first one is a redfoot tortoise that James named Marshall.

The second baby tortoise we bought is a leopard tortoise that James named Rubble:

Rett checking out the babies:

We didn't plan anything fun for the eclipse, it kind of snuck up on us and by then all the places were sold out of the glasses. I was a little worried about buying the wrong kind of glasses or them not being good enough, so I figured watching it on TV would be good enough. Of course, James' school went all out for the eclipse! They borrowed equipment from NASA (since one of the 8th grade science teachers used to be a big deal at NASA) and set up everything in the PE field. All the classes got to come out and take turns looking through glasses and through the different telescopes with special filters. They made sure to emphasize to the kids to not look up at the sun while walking outside (dismissal was towards the end of the eclipse) and James took it very seriously. He walked with his head facing his shoes all the way to the car!