Apple Picking at Prairie Sky Orchard

One of our family fall traditions is to go apple picking. Around the Chicagoland area there are several orchards, the only problem is that some of them aren't sure if they want to be orchards or amusement parks.  Now I have nothing wrong with amusement parks, I quite enjoy them actually, but when I think about picking apples I'm not really wanting rides or concerts. I personally believe apple picking should be simple: a pretty setting, a wagon, and my family. What about you? Do like to keep apple picking simple or do you prefer to make an event out of it? 

So we are very glad we stumbled upon Prairie Sky Orchard by accident. This year we had picked out an orchard in Woodstock to visit but when I was checking details the night before, I found out they were out of u-pick apples for the week. A few google searches led us to Prairie Sky, and since it was actually twenty minutes closer to our home we figured we'd give it try. 

We are so glad that we did. We're pretty certain this will be our new go-to orchard. The day that we went they only had Gala's for u-pick, but were selling Honey Crisps and Cortlands in their store. It's a newer/small orchard but there were plenty of apples. The people who own it were really friendly and welcoming. It actually reminded me of picking apples as a kid in Iowa. It's their home, their house is on the property and their store is in a small barn/large shed. They don't offer amusements but they do their best to make sure the apple picking is enjoyable. The property is beautiful and well cared for. They also provide wagons, at no cost, and a washing station to shine up your apples. 

Literature Based PreK/Kindergarten Curriculum: Over In The Meadow

Primary Literature
  • Over in the Meadow, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. I choose this for our second book for a couple reasons. First, it's a classic counting rhyme, one that I wanted to make sure my children were familiar with. I also enjoy Keats's illustrations in this book,  they are entrancing! Finally, I find it fascinating how many versions of this rhyme/story exist. Many people credit Olive Wadsworth for writing this rhyme in the late 1800's but it may in fact be even older. 

  • Vocabulary words to review
    • Meadow - grassland 
    • Chirp - a short high-pitched sound
    • Even - equal/same
    • Bask - to lie in a warm spot
    • Shady - free of sun and heat

Complementary Literature:
"On, two, three, four, five,
Once I caught a fish alive. 
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 
But I let it go again. 
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so. 
Which finger did it bite?
The little one upon the right."

Learning Activities/Games:
  • Green rice with meadow animals and measuring cups. 

Parenting is Hard...or...Why Can't They Just Use the Freaking Toilet

I've debated about sharing difficult/awkward stuff like this on my blog, but this past weekend when talking to a friend, she laughed and sighed, "I am so glad my boys aren't the only ones." My kids are amazing and I have complete faith that they are going to grow up to be some pretty outstanding adults. There are times though that parenting them is hard, and just simply a struggle.

see they are amazing...when I look at this picture I'm convinced I'm the most blessed mother in the world. 

One such area is my boys aversion to using the toilet. I kind of thought I was a bit of a rockstar parent, all my children were potty trained by two and half. It wasn't a struggle, we didn't follow any programs, it just happened. Then I started discovering urine in drawers and corners.  In their defensive, we live in an old home, so we only have one bathroom and it's on the second floor. Their playroom, on the other hand, is in the basement. I partly blame Jeremy, because several summers ago he taught the boys that they could pee in discrete locations outside. They then thought they could pee in anything with a lid...looking for a book I lifted up lid of a footstool in their bedroom to find several books covered in urine. They also started to pee in corners. At one point they lost all their toys for a week as their playroom carpets desperately needed to be washed. I also, unfortunately, lost my temper and yelled way more than I should have.

I thought that after loosing their toys, and watching Mommy throw a major tantrum, the "peeing wherever" habit had ended. It had been several months since we'd had any instances. This summer though the boys have become very obsessed with Legos and about a month ago we expanded their basement play area into a side room so they could have a special Lego place. In this room there is a tiny door that provides access to the furnace...and the boys found it. I'm assuming they thought, "nobody can see it, nobody plays here, we can just pee here instead of running upstairs."

the door of doom

Both Jeremy and I had thought that we had smelled something. This in the same area as our laundry area and much to my chagrin Little Lady has been having a few accidents because she been holding it too long - always in the bathroom which, in one way, is nice and extremely frustrating at the same time! I swear pride in parenting is a horrible thing to develop, they will prove you wrong! Anyway, we both assumed it was wet clothes, etc. Then last week our furnace kicked on...both Jeremy and I were on the couch having our morning quite times and all the sudden we both looked at each other with mix of sickness and horror - "what was that smell?!"

Jeremy went to investigate just as I heard the kids beginning to stir upstairs. He found the source and quickly brought the boys downstairs to confront them. Luckily, for them they were quick to confess. It was early and we'd both been reading our Bibles so Jeremy and I were able to keep our anger in check - we high-fived each other for this that later on.

The boys went back to their room as we cleaned up - it was pretty disgusting! After it was cleaned up, we had a heart to heart with the boys. They also lost their Legos and cars for a week, as well as, some screen privileges. Jeremy and I also decided to move their Legos to their actual bedroom, which is only about dozen steps from the bathroom. Here's hoping this is the last time we have to deal with this problem.

Our kids are growing and it won't be long before we tell them these stories and they'll laugh at how immature and bizarre they were. The thing about parenting though is that it's not just the kids who are growing - Jeremy and I are growing too. I see so many ways that the Lord had revealed my pride, showing me that as much as I'd like to have it all together, I don't. Before this last incident I had reacted to this situation way too harshly, I belittled and yelled. I didn't discipline, I just let off steam. I look back at those previous situations and I laugh.  I was so me-focused, so centered on my own comfort, on my own ideals, that I forgot to parent. I forgot to teach and direct. I'll be honest, this last time stunk (literally and figuratively), but in a way I'm thankful that I got to give it another go. We probably didn't handle it perfectly but we did better. Now when we look back on these crazy times I won't just remember my rage but the way the Lord has used parenting to continue to mold me.

Literature Based PreK/Kindergarten Curriculum: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Primary Literature:
  • Chicka Chicka Boom BoomI thought this was a great book to start out with since Mini Man and Little Lady are still mastering their letters. They know the ones that are 'important' to them, like the ones in their name or the beginning letters of their family/friends' names, but still struggle with a few of the rest. 

Complementary Literature:

"Great A, little a, 
Bouncing B
The cat's in the cupboard,
and can't see me."

  • We read two of Bill Martin's other books: Chicka Chicka 123 and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
  • On Market Street, is cute alphabet book introducing all the merchants on market street. This is a Caldecott honor book and my children were completely mesmerized by the pictures...there may have been a little tussle over who was the first to look through the book when I was done reading it. 
  • Bruno Munari's ABC, another fabulously illustrated book. Simple watercolor paintings and bold letters take you phonetically through the alphabet with a bit of fun and whimsy mixed in. 
  • The Alphabet Tree, introduces another tree full of letters but this time they band together to fight off the wind by forming words and eventually a sentence.

Other Complementary Materials: 
  • My kids loved this animated "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Song" on Youtube

Learning Activities/Games:
  • Coconut Dough with letter cookie cutters: 1 cup cornstarch to 5T of coconut conditioner. Add conditioner one T at a time, mixing between each one. 

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