Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I love our vet

When we got to keep our sweet, "dropped-in-our-laps" cat (who is doing great, by the way), another person naturally came into our lives--the vet.  Dr. Kelly, to whom we went on the advice of Aaron's mom, has been wonderful.  She's been great with Confetti, her prices are reasonable (actually, much less than I expected), and she's always happy to answer questions.  One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexible schedule, so the boys have been able to go with me and/or Aaron when we've taken Confetti in for shots and when we picked her up after she was spayed.  During that last excursion, Connor (the animal lover) saw a horse in a large pen near where we were parked and asked if he could pet it.  Kelly was very gracious, even getting a halter and offering to let him put it on the horse (he declined, but watched, fascinated, as she did it).  We didn't have much time to stay that day, but she offered to let us come back the next week so that he could learn how to put the halter on, brush a horse, etc.  He was thrilled with the idea, of course, so I called early last week and we ended up going over this past Friday.

She had Tank, a beautiful, chestnut 1400 lb quarter horse, ready in a stall for us.  Connor was over the moon as she helped him put on the halter and then helped him up onto Tank's back.  The weather was cold, windy, and threatening to rain, so we stayed in the barn.  Connor was so excited as he actually got to use the reins and Tank responded by moving the direction Connor wanted him to go.  Brennan had a go as well, and I think he had fun, but he was definitely a bit intimidated.  His smiles waited until he was done!

Then Kelly let Connor lead Tank out of the stall, helped him tie him up, and let both boys brush him.  I loved the way she was diligent about teaching safety around the horse without saying things in a way that would scare them--she was clearly intentionally teaching them to not be afraid.  She also showed Connor how to lift the horse's hoof and clean the bottom of its foot, although that was a bit tougher--even when he figured it out, he had to have help because the foot was HEAVY!  He found that out first-hand a little while later when Tank ended up stepping on his foot while Connor was walking him around the barn--ouch!  He was a trooper, though, and thankfully the only injury was a bruise.  The boys got a kick out of feeding him treats, too.

I'm so thankful that Kelly was willing to take the time to share with us--and invited us to come back this week!  What a blessing.  The only other way I know of that we could get anything like this would be to take horseback riding lessons--something we definitely wouldn't be able to afford.  We're very thankful, and I'll be calling back tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

River Legacy Park and Science Center

I love how many incredible and inexpensive learning activities there are in the Fort Worth area.  Aaron's brother's family found this one a while ago, and I've been wanting to check it out ever since.  We finally went a couple of weeks ago, and it was wonderful!

River Legacy Park is in the middle of Arlington, and it has beautiful paved walking/biking trails, a playground, open fields, and more that we didn't get a chance to explore on this trip.  The boys loved riding their bikes while Aaron and I walked.

After we had made plans to go, it occurred to me to check and see if there were any letterboxes in the area--there were three listed actually in the park!  So we added in a little letterboxing as well.  We found two of the three.   I think we were in the right place for the third one, but it was missing.

We didn't have nearly enough time for the second part of the trip: the River Legacy Living Science Center.  We'll be making a trip back out there before long, I'm sure.  The science center had exhibits about various animals native to the region, terrariums and aquariums with all kinds of native critters, exhibits about the land and different things that impact nature (weather, human activity, etc.)  They had kid-friendly microscopes and leaf and bark samples to explore, science-related toys to play with, animal track information plates to do crayon rubbings, and more.  You can check out binoculars and go on the trails around the center to do bird watching (we didn't have time, but it's definitely on the to-do list!), and they regularly offer nature walks guided by naturalists and other organized activities.  And all free!  They do have a preschool and they offer other fee-based classes and programs as well.  Here are a few of our pictures from the first visit.

Fort Worth Science and History Museum

I can't believe I haven't done a post about the museum yet (other than the one about the new Ancient Egypt exhibit)!  Aaron's parents gave us a family membership, and we are definitely putting it to good use.  We go at least once a month, sometimes more.  They have incredible hands-on learning activities, fascinating displays (both the permanent ones and the temporary ones), and a wonderful staff.  They always have open-ended exploration and/or construction activities and materials available, and I love watching their fascination as they explore.  The boys (and Aaron and I!) have a great time doing and learning every time we go.  Here are some pictures from a couple of different visits.

Brennan exploring with plastic straws (a bit sturdier than drinking straws) and connectors.  I loved seeing his curvy creativity next to the more "expected" box structure behind him (which was totally huge and totally cool!).

Connor's favorite activity by FAR is building marble runs.  He will probably cry if we ever go and they've put it away for a while.  He made this one on his own with a little help from one of the docents.

Brennan and I made this one together (with a few finishing touches from Connor) on another visit.

More pictures from the Ancient Egypt exhibit (since I had the card in the camera this time!).

Learning about how archaeologists study seals to learn about a site

A pottery shard matching game

Seeing how animal bones (from meals) can help archaeologists learn about the people who left behind artifacts at a site

Building the pyramid with Daddy

Arts and crafts, Egypt-style!  I took advantage of the opportunity and counted these as our hands-on activity for SOTW chapter 13. *grin*

Making a paper pyramid

Daddy helping color the bricks

Making a clay scarab

Brennan painting his scarab (Daddy helped him shape and carve it)

Making a cartouche.  He even remembered a couple of the hieroglyphs for his name (from when we made a cartouche a couple of weeks ago) and drew them on his own without the stencil.