Random ramblings…

I resolved to not do any running around for a few days, but only one day has passed, and here we are, on the run again! 🏃🚶🏃

No museums for us today, though! I did keep that resolve. Instead, we are attending a class on how to stay healthy or get back to health using water! Hydrotherapy! I have learned some of these principles, and put them to good practice, but could still learn better techniques, and I feel that it is important to let the boys start learning firsthand some of these principles. Sometimes, it really helps for the information to come from someone other than Mom! 😉

So, we get Sunday school again! But, Daddy is working too, and that was part of the bargain (albeit one-sided)I made with the boys!

The class was fun, but the boys thought that three hours was a bit long in such a beautiful day. We had seventy degree temps today–so beautiful for January!

I’m thinking that tomorrow we will practice the procedures on each other! That will be a good way to see what we soaked in. I haven’t decided if we will do it with water, or just do a dry practice! Either way, it’s a good idea to practice and get the kinks out before someone really needs the treatment!

Never mind. Monday came, and along with it, the drags. We dragged along, and I took on the role of Mrs. Drill Sergeant, Ma’am! These days make me tired, and the school day drags on and on. Grrr…. The boys just seemed to have the energy requires to crash into each other and fool around, but couldn’t quite muster up enough energy to focus. A few grumpies came out as well, and if we hadn’t been needing to get back into a regular routine after so many outings, I’d have called the day off for school! But, I didn’t feel like that was an option. Sometimes we just need to grit our teeth and dig in! We gritted a lot today!😩 I think that once we are back in the swing of things, we will improve on our time!

But, as a side note, it’s amazing what a fifteen minute walk can do to change direction and attitude.

We ended up making a scale model of the solar system. One yard equaled like 3,600,000 miles, Earth was a popcorn kernel, Pluto was a grain of coarse salt, and the sun was a kickball. We mapped out the distances, and plotted the space between the sun and the inner planets to the asteroid belt. After that, we’d have been off the property, across the interstate, and about a half a mile away, if we wanted to plot out somewhat accurate distances. That really put our size and position in space into perspective. We aren’t so big!

“What is man, that Thou are mindful of him” comes to mind.

Long as it was for school time, we did make it to the end of this day. Monday it was, for sure! I’m thinking that the Monday blues were accentuated by the fact that everyone was up in the middle of the night chasing the cat, who had escaped. She didn’t know she was lost, and she failed in Friend-making class. We thought she was gone for sure, but, finally, I spotted and grabbed her! But not before losing a good bit of sleep, not to mention the stress of thinking she was a gonner. 😿

This post is a little choppy and disconnected, but that’s kind of how our day went. It did end up well, just LONG with Daddy-O coming in late. Tomorrow’s a new one! 😉

I took some pictures of our planets and the boys mapping out the distances, but they won’t cooperate. You’ll just have to imagine!😳


Museum week finale!

Look out, because the Little A’s are WANTED men–er, boys!  We visited the old sheriff’s office, and they barely missed being thrown in the slammer!  But, the posters are out–so, look out.  These fellows are said to be armed and dangerous–wielding walking sticks and tennis balls.  Consider them dangerous characters!  They look pretty surly, don’t they?  😉


We have reached the end of our field trip week.  Thursday, we visited two museums in Auburn–the Bernhard Museum, and the Placer County Museum.  Both were educational, just in different ways.


The Bernhard Museum is a Victorian restored home from the 1850-1860 era.  This museum had docents dressed in the clothing of the times, and one of the docents gave us a tour of the home.   From the fainting couch to the individual salt bowls, the 3D viewing game, the chairs that could accommodate bustles, and the pictures on the walls made of human hair, the place was an interesting peek back into time.  I think the most memorable item in the home, at least for the boys, was the beautifully decorated, skillfully hidden, chamber pot.  This is the pink item in the corner that looks remarkably similar to modern toilets, with one interesting exception.  The tank does not contain water, but dirt.  So, essentially, it is more like a human litter box, which the children had the job of changing daily.  Nice, huh?


I was a little bit afraid the boys would think that the house tour was uninteresting, but to my surprise, Big A turned to me after the tour and asked if I liked it.  I asked him what he thought, and he told me that it was really interesting, and that he liked it.  I’m glad I kept my expectations of his answer to myself, because what I said could very easily have colored his opinion of the place.


Moving right along, the other Museum we visited is also in Auburn.  The Placer County Museum is housed in the courthouse.  The second floor of the courthouse is still functioning for court, and the bottom houses the museum.  We were supposed to request a tour of the whole building, but I’m afraid that once we got looking around in the museum, I forgot all about that part of the visit.  We didn’t miss out, though.


This is where the Placer Gold Collection is housed.  This is a varied assortment of gold nuggets, large gold chunks–larger than my hand, and some gold still inside the quartz rock.  The officers at the door joked around with the boys when they went through the metal detector, that they must have some of that gold in their pockets, since the metal detector beeped.  Even though the boys knew that it was only their cameras making the detector go off, they looked a little worried at first when the policemen questioned them.


This museum was interesting, and highlighted local Indian tribes, gold history, California history, and transportation history.  We watched a video about the building of the highways, which we liked.  The boys got to see an old telegraph machine, and an early telephone.  The sheriff’s office was fun.  We didn’t get particularly into all of the artifacts, and I think that once we saw the bulk of the materials in the museum, we felt like we’d seen enough.


Friday, as promised, we got to go the Golden Drift Museum in Dutch Flat.  We met a docent from the historical society, who gave us a tour of both the museum and the town.  I got to ring the old school bell in the historic school house, which was fun.  We learned more about the hydraulic mining process, and the history of the town.  We were glad that Dr. B joined us for the tour.  🙂


So, the end of our field trip week comes to an end.  Whew!  We started out with a bang, then I feel like we lost steam a bit throughout the week as fatigue set in.  By the end, I think we were all suffering from a bit of brain fatigue in regards to museums.  You can only pour so much info in before you need some decompression time to allow it to percolate and take hold in the brain.  So, we will get back into the regular routine with only occasional outings to spice things up!  We are very glad that we took the chance to do all of these trips, though, because soon we get to move to another area on the map.


Soon, we shall find out what is around the next bend on this unique road of life that we are travelling on.




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Pictureless Wednesday

We decided to take a day off from field trips and experience a quiet, normal kind of a day.  No running around; just routine school activities.


It didn’t quite turn out that way!  I will spare most details, out of courtesy to you, dear readers, but let me just say that we got an education that day, just not a planned one.

We are living in an RV.  We have five people.  We have a black tank.  We had a clog.  And that, is where the schoolwork stalled and the action began for one day.  Dr. Dan so graciously (and might I add, unsuspectingly) offered to help us out.  Well, what should have been a five minute procedure turned into a two to three hour mess, and I stress MESS!  Before it was all said and done, we had an inside mess and an outside mess.  It’s hard to concentrate on creative writing when creative plumbing procedures are happening right outside, and no one knows how it all is going to come out!

Long story short, we got the job taken care of, without having to call in outside help.  Although I know that Dr. Dan and I would gladly have called in ANYone who would have done the job we did!  But, we got it all working properly, and I was just soaking the hoses and gloves in bleach water when the railroad working crew drove up.  How I would have loved to postpone that job to hand off to my dear husband, but, he arrived at the perfect moment, when it was all finished!  At least we know some ways to prevent, hopefully, and deal with, if need should arise, this kind of problem in the future.  So, education happened.

I didn’t have the heart to dig into the books after that.  We ate a late lunch, called it a day, and went gold panning–the whole family.  I panned my first pan ever, and struck it rich!  I found five pieces, tiny although they were!  I did have help from Hubby in panning out the first larger rocks, and he spotted several of the pieces after I got my first one!   We all were excited.    There is gold if you look!

The day rounded out with a very nice concert by Calvin Taylor, an extremely talented pianist.

We went from “Ewww!” to “Ohhh”, to “Ahhh!” all in the same day!  Not bad!

Sutter’s Fort

Our second stop in Sacramento was Sutter’s Fort.  We had learned about John Sutter as the man who sent out rescue parties to attempt to reach the Reed and Donner families, who were stranded up on the summit, in that fateful winter of blizzard after blizzard.  The third party did succeed in bringing back the remaining living family members, but many did not make it.


The fort itself, a replica of the original, except for the main central building, was smaller than I anticipated. I figured, as we walked up to the place, that we’d probably breeze in and out.  I wasn’t expecting all of the activity that we found inside!!  Turns out that we showed up in a day when a local school was participating in its living history days.  They do a really cool thing with the fourth grade classes in this state.  They study California history, but in many schools, the children get to go to a historical place like Sutter’s Fort, stay there overnight, and just live the life that a person from that time period would have lived.  Their parents come, and everyone dresses up in period costumes, taking on a real character from history, and memorizing details about the life of their chosen person.  So, we saw several Donners, some Sutters, and some Reeds, as well as many dressed as prospectors, pioneers, and tradesmen.


The for was all abuzz with activity.  Camp fires burned, with vegetables roasting over beds of coals; a big stone oven smelled of baking bread, and the two kitchens were packed with parents and children peeling apples, stewing beans, and stirring biscuit dough as at least nine Dutch ovens rocked merrily on the hot coals with wonderful odors wafting out.


But more than the stir of cooking was happening all around us.  Docents, also in period attire, explained the covered wagon life, with a real wagon to climb up in;  sheep got sheared, and the wool turned into yarn, then woven into rugs.  A doctor explained the medicine of the 1800s, which was a scary method at best, with bloodletting and leeches being the rule of the day.   We saw a grist mill for the grain being cranked, rope being made from twine, woodworking, and leather use.  The boys were invited to participate in some pioneer games, which were simple, but fun, activities with poles, rings, and balls.  That got to be a very lively stop!


But, as in two other parks that we visited, the favorite stop was the blacksmith’s shop.  This was an active place, with a friendly blacksmith who explained about his equipment and tools, and busily made little horseshoes and other metal craft.  He also invited the boys to stay to learn the lesson he taught, and they just loved it!  He described tongs as metal fingers, allowed each child to pump the bellows or handle the metal, and suggested that the children ask for “tools for Christmas’, even girls.  This naturally endeared him even more to the boys, and when, later we talked about our experience at the fort, they all decided that if we had lived in those days, Daddy would certainly be a blacksmith!  🙂


We are so glad that we made the choice to stop at this fort.  We really got a good feel for the life that went on at the fort, and I believe that experiencing this living history will make this time in history stand out in the memories of the Little A’s.  After all, I still remember the forts we visited as children–the earthy smells, the darkish rooms, and the people dressed up like pioneers.  Maybe if we’d have done more living history when I was in school, I’d have liked it!  I’m finding that I enjoy history much more than I thought possible!  Sometimes, you just need a different approach!  🙂


Here are a few excerpts of thoughts that the boys expressed about our visit, and what they thought about living there:



If I lived in Sutter’s Fort, Mommy would cook over a fire.  Cooking over a fire  is fun.  I like cooking.

Mommy would use a rock oven,  She would cook vegetables.  I would put wood in the fire from the trees.  I would break the dry branches off.  I would carry wood that Daddy cut.


I would like living in the fort.  I would have space to run around.


My favorite part of our visit was the blacksmith, because he was funny, and he made stuff.  –Littlest A


Now, for another viewpoint:

Yesterday we went to Sutter’s Fort.  If we lived Sutter’s Fort our dad would probably be a black smith!

What I would do is play games, and help Dad work in his shop.

If Daddy was a black smith, then I would help start the fire, pump the bellows, and heat the metal.  What he would make is horseshoes, spoons, and pans.

He would also use an anvil.  What you use an anvil for is to put metals on when you want to pound them into shapes.

My favorite part of the fort was the blacksmith’s shop.  I liked it because he explained things well, and was fun to talk to.

–Big A–


Middleman A, remembers…

If I lived in Sutter’s Fort, my dad would be a blacksmith.  I would pump the bellows.


My mom would cook with a rock fireplace.  She would cook vegetables and potatoes.  I like to cook too.  I would like to cook over a fire.


My favorite part of the trip was the blacksmith’s shop.  I liked seeing him make horseshoes.

–Middleman A–




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Train Museum

So, I mentioned to a friend of mine that I’m a bit late on getting some of our field trip reports done. When we are on the go all week, it’s hard to find a spare minute to just sit and reflect on what we’ve done. We are taking it in bits and snippets.

The diggings day was Monday. Now, to report on Tuesday…

Tuesday was the day that the Little A’s had been WAITING for, in much anticipation and excitement! This field trip day, we were headed to Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum! We had another couple of spots on the list, too, but soon realized that three stops was biting off more than we could chew in one day. So, we settled it down to two, and I sure am glad that we did!

The Railroad Museum was all that the boys hoped it would be, and more! Train engines everywhere, from Union Pacific, under which Daddy is working, to Southern Pacific, that their Great-Grandpa worked for, to BNSF, Central Pacific, and so many more! And the steam engines!!! This museum houses the world’s largest steam engine, which the boys had a chance to go inside, and move the levers and pretend that they were train engineers from the days of steam!

But, it wasn’t all just shiny engines, bells, and whistles, although there were plenty of those! The museum had dioramas depicting the surveyors who mapped out the rails for the Transcontinental RR, the building of it, and all of the work, and workers, that went into making such an engineering masterpiece. We took a guided tour, and our docent was very enthusiastic about the railroad history. Indeed, there were many of these well-trained docents, around every corner, ready to explain for us what we were seeing. We saw the old US Postal Service train, sleeper cars, dining cars, and personal cars. We just loved roaming around to explore this fun place! The unanimous report from all of the Little A’s is that this was, hands down, their favorite! “Better than gold panning?” “Well…we like both the same!”

One of the docents sent the boys on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum. He asked them to look for three things: a train by a window, a paper train, and a set of three shakers. Keep in mind that this museum houses thousands of model trains along with the real full-sized trains. Toy Thomas trains, tiny scale trains, all kinds of electric trains, plus scenery, props, and train-related memorabilia! So, finding those three things would be a challenge! Not surprisingly, Big A, spurred on by the promise of “something for you” if he found all three, sent him searching. He found all three first. The other toe needed some general direction to get in the vicinity of where the items were hiding, but they found them all too. As promised, when the boys reported to the docent at the end, he did have a little gift–a pin with a train (of course) on it!

We could have stayed ALL DAY at this museum, but we did have one more stop to visit that day, so we had to move on! And, I discovered that I did not want to return to Sacramento to maneuver the downtown traffic, so this was it!


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Exploring the diggins

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Yesterday we set out for another of our field trips in this trip-a-day week.  I’m actually wondering if I’ll be able to keep up that pace of a trip a day, but we will take a day at a time!


We wanted to see the sites where the hydraulic mining took place, and we knew that it wasn’t too far from us.  Just how to get there, we weren’t sure about.  So, we headed into the thriving metropolis of Dutch Flat, population 1373–actually about three times what I would have guessed!  The only store in Dutch Flat is a tiny “Trading Post”, leftover from the gold mining days.  There is a post office, an old historic hotel, a lodge, and some buildings with historic value, but that don’t actually operate for business.  And a tiny little museum, which accounts the history of golden days of old.  It’s pretty much a ghost town, at least compared to what it was during the gold rush .


We ventured into the old trading post. We had heard that we should look for the old safe houses inside, a relic from the days when such safes kept treasures of gold, plus important documents and bank notes.   He ranger from Sutter’s mill told us that the safe was way too big to be moved, so they build the new store around it.  We asked about it, then noticed it towering over the cash register near the front of the store.  Just an interesting  old piece from history.  😊


The storekeeper filled us in on some more tidbits from the town’s history, then directed us to “diggins”, as they call the mining sites.   We checked those out, way up and down a one-lane, skinny road with treacherous drop-offs.   My favorite kind!  We found a beautiful lake at the bottom, but couldn’t really tell on the steep banks that they had blasted water there.  But, it’s been over a hundred and fifty years!  Nature does smooth over in time!


Alongside the RR tracks, we could see better the damage done by hydraulic monitors.


We noticed while in Dutch Flat a tiny little museum, the Golden Drift Museum.  I’d read some reviews online that said to not miss this little gem.  But, the sign read, CLOSED for winter.   Another phrase caught my eye, written below:  “Open during Summer season and by appointment.”  Why not?   You never know unless you ask, right?   I called, wondering if I’d reach anyone, and did!  The man I reached obviously held a real historical appreciation for his town, and promised us, not only a change to get into the museum, but he offered us a two-hour waking tour of the town!  Not bad!  So…we have a field trip for Friday! 😀


The rest of our day we spent on a walking tour of Old Town Auburn, another preserved section, that is supposed to represent the old gold rush days.  We found it rather busy, not unlike most downtowns of today. We went to the old courthouse, though, now converted into a museum, but found the doors locked.  Online info said OPEN, but it wasn’t.  Turns out that it was closed for MLK Jr. day. It looked really cool, though, and we plan to go back!  After all, it houses the Placer Gold Collection, and that sounds like a fun thing to take a peek at.


This ends the report on today’s exploration.  Tomorrow is another day, with another trip–a very exciting one, I might add!   🚂




A gold mine trip

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I made a decision in the last couple weeks that didn’t win me votes for popularity. 😞 Since Daddy and his fellow workers are trying really hard to get through their work in a timely fashion, they are working many Sundays. So, last week, when Daddy headed off to work, I announced that when he works Sunday, we will too! A chorus of “boos” followed that announcement, and a few tears. But, with travel, adjustments, and a more up-in-the-air kind of life this last semester, we have some days to squeeze in too. I figure that Sunday school now is better than Summer school later. I may not have many in agreement right now, but I can assure you that come June, I’ll have more on my side. I bet it’ll be unanimous! 😀

That’s where field trips on Sundays come in. Nice to be flexible that way! And, the days without the fellows get kinda long anyway, so it’s not a bad thing to have an outing or activity.

Today we checked out the Empire Mine State Historic Park.  We thought that after our trip to where gold was discovered, we would like to see another way in which they mined it.  Placer mining, or gold panning, is the least expensive way to get gold, but it certainly isn’t fast.  We learned more about the hydraulic mining, which was faster and more efficient, but just terrible for the landscape.  And, now, we wanted to learn about the underground mining process.

Incidentally, Hubby found a neat video last night about mining in our immediate area, and it showed the rest stop just 3/4 of a mile down the road from us, where they have a few of the old hydraulic mining monitors to see, so we stopped in, and saw those.  We also enjoyed reading the informational plaques about hydraulic mining practices.    So close, and I would never have thought to stop in the rest area for a learning spot!  Tomorrow, we may try the one going in the other direction.  Just a little rabbit trail that we took.

The mine that we visited was about 45 minutes away, so it was not a bad drive.  We had a nice sunny day for it, too, and that helped, too!    We took the two tours that the park offered; the first tour was of the owners’ living quarters.  We found that somewhat interesting, but it didn’t really excite us all that much.  The grounds are beautiful, and the cottages lovely, it’s just that, not knowing the people or much about them, seeing where they lived just didn’t capture our attention too much.  Except for Littlest A.   He does love snapping photos, and so, he had a great time taking pictures to show Daddy when he came home.  Really, all of the Little A’s make a good camera crew.  They all line up and take a picture of the same thing, and it’s pretty funny to see.  I like to see them having fun taking pictures!

The second tour took us on the route of a common gold miner.  We heard about what they ate, what they wore, wages they received, how long they worked in the mines for a shift (which was 10-12 hours), how strong they had to be in order to hand drill for their whole shift, as well as how they got down into the mines to work.  We also learned about the mining process.  Can you believe they used liquid mercury to help extract, or rather, bind up the gold, then at some time later in the processing, they used cyanide to help wash more gold out of the rocks.  Nothing like a little poison to help loosen things up!

Really, the process they used was interesting to learn about.  They used huge “stamp mills” to pulverize the quartz into sand, and then came the separating processes, eventually ending up with pure gold.  It really sounded like a LOT of work for those miners.  They never got rich, and they never even got to keep any of the gold;  they were just working for their livelihood, and the owners were the ones who got rich.

The tour of the actual mine was much more brief than we all expected.  We got to walk down into the mine, but not very far down.   We basically got to see down into the deep shafts, where the men were lowered on what they called the “man skips”.  The tour guide allowed anyone who wanted to sit in the man skips to do so, to get a feel for what the men rode on.  Of course, the Little A’s all jumped on!

We watched a good video that the park offered, on the history of mining practices, which was really a good overview for us.

The highlight for everyone was the working blacksmith’s shop.  Here’s where the action was happening!  Two very friendly and informative blacksmiths explained metal temperatures for us, as well as how the steel looses its magnetism at a certain temperature.  He demonstrated this for us.  He also explained how the coal is heated, to what temperatures, and how the metal turns different colors based on their temperature.  This one particular smith was very good about answering questions, and telling us things before we had a chance to ask!  The one neat thing about him, also, was that he had an eleven-year apprentice helping him out.  This little guy listened to every word the blacksmith told us, then he shared the information with us again, in his own way.  It did not surprise me in the least when I learned that the apprentice is also a homeschooling boy; he is pursuing an interest that he has, and sharing it with others.   We stuck around for quite awhile in the blacksmith shop, and were gifted with “prairie diamond rings”, made out of horseshoe nails, and a little salt spoon, also made from a horseshoe nail.   So, those were our little souvenirs for the day!

This was a good trip, and even though it turned out a little differently than we expected, everyone agreed that we all had fun and learned a lot about the mining process.


Dutch Flat

Gold Run


Sutter’s Mill


San Francisco



What do these things all have in common, besides being towns or cities in California?  I will tell you:  it’s GOLD!!

We are in the heart of gold country, where the California Gold Rush happened.  We have seen some places where it is obvious that gold seeking was the way of life, way back when, but now, time has moved on, and so have the people who made these towns what they were, and now, all that remains are some empty buildings and memories.  Ghost towns.  They are a reminder of days gone by, and give us a hint into that important period of history that made America what it is today.

When I realized last week that we would not be hanging around here too much longer, it hit me that we had better get in gear to go see some of the places we have planned to go see, but were waiting around until a better time came.  The time is here.  We have around two weeks more here in this town, then we move to a totally new area.  Somehow I missed that, and thought we’d keep inching along the highway, and railroad, getting closer to some museums and interesting sites, so I planned to go later.  Well, looks like we will have a whole list of field trips in these next weeks, which is fine for us!

I figured that we might as well go in order, so our list kicked off with the place that started the Gold Rush–Sutter’s Mill.  I mentioned the trip to Hubby, and he got an interested gleam in his eyes as I described the park we would visit.  He had a work day, but I know he would have loved to accompany us on this trip.  When I came to the part that told how they would teach you to gold pan, for a fee, I hesitated, but he did not.  “Do it!”  he said.  “They will never forget it, and it’s a great opportunity to learn!”  He was very emphatic, and I know that he really wanted the boys to have a great experience doing something that, as a child, he had always wanted to do.  My husband did get his chance, when a relative of his took him to go pan for gold in Dahlonega, GA, when he was growing up.  He has never forgotten that, and still keeps gold pans, indicating that his interest in panning has never given out.

Indeed, everyone here has a little bit of the gold bug.  Hubby got a couple of pans for our family to use while are out here, and the boys have all been just itching to get out there and give it a try.  They did one day, and Hubby found three little pieces of gold, which he is very proud of.  No matter how small or large, it is just fun to do it, and find something that you went out looking for!

Those boys got right to work, and helped the Boss Man get his wire loaded all up, and the promise of gold panning, really made them find some motivation!  Most of them, anyway!  😉

We travelled along Highway 49 to reach the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.  The trip along that windy road, with its precipitous drop-offs left my palms sweaty and my mouth dry.  The boys always think it’s funny, my fear of falling off high mountain roads, down to the rocks below, but I noticed that they kept me informed of the speed limits, which I obeyed implicitly.

When we arrived, one of the rangers gave us a rock talk, which was really interesting.  He described the types of rocks and minerals in that area, but especially those important to the gold mining industry. He showed us a very impressive gold nugget found in the park nine years ago, but warned the boys not to get their hopes up for finding one that size!

After the ranger talk, we got signed right up for the gold panning lesson!    That was the major  event of the day, I knew, and I also knew that nothing much else would get absorbed while three little boys had gold dreams running through their imaginations!  The instructor was great!  She taught us the “One, two, shake, shake, shake” method of panning.  The explained the process, demonstrated then let the students give it a try.  After they struggled a bit, she gave each one personal instruction, and helped them to find their first flakes of gold.  She also helped them to find garnets for their collections.  Now, for this class, the box was already salted with some gold, but each student had to do their own work and actually find the gold for themselves.  It is hard work, even when you know it’s there, to find the gold, but it is also exciting to succeed in finding the gold!  Each boy found some, and several little garnets too!  So, everyone had a treasure to bring home to show Daddy!

We got to see the site of Sutter’s Mill, where it all began, and learn more about the happenings surrounding the discovery of gold.  The boys took time to complete their Junior Ranger books, which included a scavenger hunt for museum items, answering questions about a video we watched, and mapping out our walk through the park.  We also got to see the blacksmith’s shop from the bygone days, where men were doing a little bit of blacksmithing.  We got a good talk there, but the boys kept wishing they would heat and pound more steel, and make something!

The park also had some water cannons, or monitors, from when they used them in the town of Dutch Flat, where we are currently staying.  Placer mining seemed too slow, so the miners here used hydraulic mining, where they used these big water cannons to shoot water up the side of a mountain to wash the gravel, along with the gold, into their giant sluice boxes.  This got to be so damaging, that it was finally outlawed, but Hubby and his crew could see just how close these water monitors shot water to the railroad in the past, right at where they were working.  It’s pretty wild!

Anyhow, this was a very interesting park to visit.  We did learn quite a bit about the history, not only of the gold rush, but of the state of California’s beginning.  The boys came back all excited, chattering  up a storm, so eager were they to show everyone their finds!  Daddy was impressed, and I think that all in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten kind of a day!

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An Experiment–hugs and tickles

Day one:

I’ve started reading a book on my Kindle, out of my sheer need to understand more about my kiddos and how they think.   It’s the Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman.

I’ve been a mom for over eleven years, yet still I fumble in this area of figuring out what love language my kids understand.  My husband said it should be fairly straightforward to figure out, and maybe it should, but I’m a little dense sometimes. I get caught up in day to day thinking and often don’t stop to think about how what I’m communicating really feels to those around me.

I’m not a good communicator generally.  I like to write.  I don’t think enough about other ways to communicate love.  I do them, some intuitively, and some not so naturally, but I really don’t stop and think about who needs what, are they getting enough, etc, and I wonder why I get brick walls sometimes.  I don’t even know my own love language, and I’m not too sure about my husband’s. So much for women’s intuition.  🙆

I decided that, as I read through this book, I’d try to go ahead and put into practice each love language as I learn more about it, and see who responds most to which language.   Everyone needs all the ways of showing love shown to them, but we all have a particular way that we best understand love when we see it.

The  five love languages, according to this book, are 1). Physical touch. 2). Words of affirmation. 3). Quality time. 4). Gifts. 5). Acts of service.   Interestingly, the only person I know for sure that I know their love language is my mom.  I’m pretty sure her love language is gifts. If not, she’s pretty good at faking it!  🎁💝🎄

Today’s language is physical touch.  This includes hugs, pats on the back, running fingers through hair, fist punches, high fives, and just any kind of loving touch.   This language doesn’t come completely natural to me.  Somewhat, it does, but not all the time.  I think of giving hugs at bedtime, when someone gets hurt, or when I say good-bye, but I don’t always think about walking by and patting someone’s head, or just giving a little tickle.

I do know that one of our sons seems to have a yearning for this kind of love.  He’s the one who always has a kitty in his arms to hug, loves to tickle others, and who even loves fuzzy things to feel.  🐣  He has a love for snuggles!  And sometimes, I hate to admit it, but I feel smothered when someone gets too much into my personal space!   So, this language is one that I need to work on during the regular events of the day, and not to just save hugs and pats for predictable times.

My goal for today is to give a pat or some physical expression of love to each child, as I remember, and to my husband, too, and just see what happens!   It’s currently almost eleven in the morning, and I’ve already started.  I gave head rubs and little thumps on the rumps as we walked along, in good fun, gave some hugs, and little back pats as we prepared for school and as we are sitting here doing our schoolwork.   I’ve already received looks of surprise and smiles, and to my surprise, have begun to receive some pats on my own back–not from my middleman, as I expected more, but from my eldest, who seems less physical.  It’s food for thought.  👩💭

Because I can’t resist the urge to make a homeschool assignment out of everything, I gave the boys a creative writing assignment on this topic.  I think because I feel so dense about what they each need, I wanted to hear what they think love looks like.  I gave them a page of prompts for ideas to get going, then asked them to write down how they would know if Mommy or Daddy loves them.  I told them they could keep it a secret if they wanted to.  Wish I hadn’t said that!  😕  One boy took me seriously.  That won’t help me much, but I’m hoping maybe he will change his mind!

(It’s several hours later now, and, as I hoped, he did let me read what he wrote 😊)

What the boys wrote actually did surprise me.  Which does worry me, but I’d rather learn …

What our middleman wrote in his paper surprised me!   I thought I had him pretty much pegged, but he didn’t write that he feels like we love him when we give him lots of hugs!    Now, I know that he loves them, but what he shared actually indicated that he feels love through acts of service done for him, or maybe it’s a little bit mixed in with quality time.    I guess maybe I should have picked up on this.  My husband has commented before that he is really helpful at doing little things without being told, but where I see life, things are a little different.  I see the school end where we have to labor to keep focused, and so I don’t have as much opportunity to see this side of him.   But, I have some ideas now.  “How I know that you love me: when you help me cook…when you help me make my bed…”  I had no idea!  I so often push the boys out of the kitchen because I like a little space, but such a simple thing could increase our son’s feelings of being loved!   💡

And at the end of the paper was a command to me:  DO NOT TRASH!

(Don’t worry; I plan to keep it!)

Our firstborn, the secretive one for awhile, didn’t surprise me too much, but he did a little.  His definitely indicated a love for quality time spent together.   “How I know when Mommy loves me is when she lets me pick a video and when she reads me a story. ”

“How I know when Daddy loves me is when he lets me help him work and when he gives me a hug and says I love you…”  And he drew a picture of Daddy working along the railroad….  I found it interesting that the activities vary depending on who’s spending the time with him; he doesn’t find it loving for me to let him help me do my work.  🙍  Wonder why…

The little Little A…I think he just wanted to cover his bases.  Or else he, like me, doesn’t really know what he likes BEST, but he knows that many of the suggestions sounded good!   He wrote, “how I know if you love me is you would take a walk with me and play with me, give me a hug, and give me presents, and say I love you.”  💙  Pretty much covers it all, doesn’t it?   You’ve got quality time, touch, gifts, words of affirmation.  Not sure if there’s acts of service, but four out of five covers quite a few!

He wouldn’t give me the paper unless I promised I would keep it forever!  💎  Not a problem!

Well, the day’s come to the end, and I feel like this has been a good opportunity for our eyes to be opened.   I shared what the boys wrote with Mr. Friendly this evening, and he also was surprised at what was shared.   On the surface, most of the activities that make the boys feel loved are not difficult or expensive.  The difficulty lies in our own selfishness as parents, when we don’t want to step out of our routine comforts.

As for the results if the day’s experiment?  I found that today was the smoothest and most enjoyable of our days this week!  Really!  At the end, all was peace in the home, and I think that we all felt like we’d had success instead of defeat.  We didn’t have a perfect day, but I did find that the consequences that had to be given out were taken with much less drama than when we are all running on empty love tanks.

All of the boys responded to extra loving touch.  We had more smiles, and they all seemed more cuddly and positive.   And silly.   I can’t say that any one boy responded more or less than the others, they all responded.  I expected response from Middle A, and he gave more smiles and tickles. Little Guy was more reserved, and sometimes pretended like he didn’t like the attention.  But he did seem happy in general, and I don’t feel like he was unresponsive, just not so obvious about it.

But Big A did surprise me the most.  He really blossomed under the attention, and seemed half shy/half happier and surprised himself.  I really think that a lightbulb came on with me.  Our issues were so much less today.  We both were encouraged.  And what did it cost?  Just some extra focus on giving what the boys need to feel loved!  A few hugs, plenty of pats and hair ruffling, and an attitude willing to learn!

I am definitely looking forward to the next few days as we explore another way to show love.  Should be interesting!