Austria’s Monkey Mountain – Affenberg

Last week we had fun learning about monkeys while we rowed Caps for Sale.  We’ve read this book at least a  hundred times over the course of the last few years, but still had so much fun with it.  We were lucky enough to live within a short drive of Austria’s Monkey Mountain.

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The park is a protected area where approximately 160 Japanese macaque monkeys are able to run freely.  They are so entertaining and I could’ve spent all day watching them (as long as they don’t get too close).

From the parking lot, we had to cross a large pond.  We heard frogs and saw a few jumping amongst the lily pads.  Poor Benjamin kneeled into some type of stinging plant and his leg hurt for a while.  Luckily we found a water pump and the cold water relieved a bit of the pain.

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I’m not sure what kind of stinging metal this was, but his leg was pretty inflamed for a bit.LRG_DSC03494

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It was a beautiful overcast day — perfect for watching mischievous mimicking monkeys gallivanting around their environment.  The monkeys are free to run around and get so close that you could touch them. Of course they ask you not to… and who want to anyway? Monkeys are mean!

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I’m glad he wasn’t begging at my leg.  This was an employee, but I did spy a few monkeys doing this to visitors at different times.

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Isn’t this mama and baby the cutest???  The way she doted on him was so sweet.

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It was a joy to watch them frolicking around the forest.

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We watched them dive for treats in the pond.

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And do balancing acts on their “tight ropes”.

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This monkey climbed the tree to use the bathroom.  So glad we weren’t standing right under, though this proved to be the kids favorite moment of the entire experience!  Ha! I suppose they do not take my “potty humor” lectures to heart.

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Of course we couldn’t get out of there without a couple of pet monkeys.

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Such a pretty spring day.

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Next to monkey mountain was a castle and bird refuge.  We started the hike and were greeted with glorious views of the Austrian countryside.

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Now for the bummer… right when they got there the employees rattled off an announcement in german. We realized after the fact that they were announcing the last bird show of the day.  We missed the bird show, but enjoyed these guys flying around overhead nonetheless.

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We made up for missing the bird show by finding a horsey to ride — made Clara’s day!  Yeehaw!

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I guess this is the sign of a good day.  Both kids were passed out within a few minutes of heading for home.  So precious… I love these babies.

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Next up… I’m finally getting around to our last week of school.

 

Before Five in Row: Caps for Sale

“Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!”  We had fun with this 1940’s classic by Esphyr Slodbodkina this week. “A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business”.  I remember loving this story when I was little and it’s always fun to revisit a childhood favorite.

We’ve probably read this story a hundred times already and the kids already knew it quite well.  We began the week with some acting.   We practiced walking “slowly, slowly, so as not to upset his caps”.  We also talked about how having good posture helps us with balance.  Something I clearly need to work on for myself because when I demonstrated the meaning of  good posture, both kids burst out laughing! Haha!

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We fell asleep under a “tree” with our caps on…

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When we awoke… little monkeys had swiped our caps! LRG_DSC03401

We took turns being peddlers.  Isn’t this the cutest little peddler you’ve ever seen?!LRG_DSC03393LRG_DSC03391

They both preferred to be monkeys, so I spent most of the time peddling my wares.

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“You monkeys, you, … you give me back my caps!”

For Bible we learned Proverbs 29:11.  Umm… yeah… I had A LOT of conviction, confessing, and owning up to do with this one.  In fact, it was just a week later that I had one of the finest moments of my life when I shattered my phone in an angry rage — in front of my kids!   And they are not letting me forget it and are real quick to tell everyone about their “foolish mom”.  This is proof that I do not have it all together, nor do I care to pretend that I do.  But… this is why I love Jesus! Only He can take an outburst like that… and somehow work it for good.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.

Proverbs 29:11

We made salt dough peddlers and stacked caps on his head.  Clara helped knead the dough and it was great for those little hands!

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The peddlers… I thought they were so cute.

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A monkey peddler! 

We read about coins and sorted them into like piles .

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We observed many ways in which we could make fifty cents.  This was way over their head, but exposure nonetheless. Benjamin was a bit more interested.

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Teatime was fun this week!  We sang variations of Five Little Monkeys, played Monkey see, Monkey do, ate chocolate covered bananas, and slurped root beer — a favorite for all of us.

On a side note, we read No Monkeys, No Chocolate,  and learned that monkeys have been the only way in which the cocoa bean was spread because they were the only thing in the rainforest able to crack the shell containing the seed. God is good!  His design never ceases to amaze me!
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This was a great week and I’ll be back to wrap it up… at “Monkey Mountain” in Austria!  This was the whole reason I chose to officially “row” this book.  Because… how often do you have access to real live mimicking monkeys running freely around their environment???  Stay tuned!

Before Five in a Row: The Snowy Day

This week we enjoyed an Ezra Jack Keats classic: The Snowy Day.  A story where a boy discovers and enjoys the wonders of a snowy day.

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We read a lot about snowflakes this week.  The Story of Snow was a great one!  It talks about the uniqueness of each snowflake, how they are formed, and has wonderful close up photos and illustrations of snow crystals.  The kids loved this!

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We made our own snowflakes with coffee filters.  We had so much fun and they thought it was absolutely magical!  LRG_DSC02558

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His snowflakes were getting cooler than mine!

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In this snowflake of Benjamin’s, he commented that it looked like Peter’s (the boy’s name in the story) snowsuit.  He was right!  I love when they make those observations – I never would’ve noticed.

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We talked about Psalms 90:12 and how only God knows how many days we have here on earth, so we must make the most out of each day, enjoy the wonderful gifts He has provided, and live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalms 90:12

We made forts and had an indoor snowball fight with socks.

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I made snow dough and we made our own tracks in the snow with Legos, animals, and sticks.

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Down fell the snow — plop! — on top of Peter’s head. 

Benjamin had the idea of getting his Lego figure ice cubes to use as snowmen.

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When the ice melted the snow got a little slimy, so he began creating avalanches instead.

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poor Lego guys!

We discussed how Peter handled his situation when he couldn’t participate in a snowball fight with the big boys.  We all agreed that Peter made the right decision when he found other exciting things to do instead of pouting and complaining about not participating in the snowball fight.

At the end of the story, Peter is shown telling his mother all about his day in the snow.  We discussed memories and how much of the fun of going on adventures is being able to remember them later.  I shared some of my favorite childhood memories — a  few hours later during lunch, Benjamin asked if I would tell him more about my “adventures at Gan’s house when I was little”.  I thought it was so sweet of him.

We went to up to Piancavallo for our own fun in the snow.  We had fun sledding, making tracks, and attempting snow angels.  Clara has been desperate to make snow angels for a long time.  It wasn’t quite the right snow for that but we tried anyway.

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cioccolato caldo… yum!

We worked on story sequencing cards and created our own snowy scenes with puffy paint.

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The finished product turned out cute!

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We made a snowflake/snowman snack with pretzels and marshmallows.

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In other news this week:

Benny lost his first tooth! He was bursting with excitement and wanted to call everybody.

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We went to Boy Scouts this week and the boys learned about teamwork and building each other up.  They had to work as a team to build a tower without using any hands.  This was very challenging for them.

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We’re still plugging away with Logic of English.  We practiced writing in “snow” and Benny shot phonograms with his nerf gun.

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They loved this little story and have made many references to Peter and are still interested in hearing memories.

 

 

Before Five in a Row: If Jesus Came to My House

We started this story when we were at my Mom’s for the holidays.  I thought we’d do a lot more school while we were visiting but alas, we only managed to squeeze in one day.  We finally got around to finishing the book about a month later — it took us a long time to recover from jet lag and Christmas.

This was a very sweet story with a beautiful message… We can show our love for Jesus by serving others and treating them with love and kindness.

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We began by learning about the Golden Rule.  We made watercolor hearts.  They loved watching how the watercolors spread on the paper.  I even let them use my fancy Japanese watercolors which made it that much more exciting.  I didn’t get a picture of the final product, but we cut them into heart shapes and wrote the golden rule on it.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

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We talked about the power of music and how it can make you feel certain emotions. We listened and danced to classical music selections from Play Kids Music and they explained how it made them feel and why.  They were definitely partial to the fast, loud, and exciting pieces.  We also discovered how music can make unpleasant tasks a lot more fun…  so we blasted music and tidied up the house.

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So do not fear, for I am with you

Isaiah 41:10

In the story the little boy is frightened by the shadows on his wall at night.  We discussed different kinds of fears we all face in life. Apparently Benjamin has no fear, but Clara stated she is afraid when she is outside in the dark without her mom or dad.  We read Isaiah 41:10 and reviewed that we shouldn’t be afraid because Jesus is always with us.

“Although I cannot see him, I still can feel him near to understand and hold my hand and drive away my fear.”

Since the boy in the story mentions shadows, we had lots of fun reading about how shadows are made.

We did a shadow puppet show.

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We traced, raced, and chased our shadows at the park…

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We watched our shadows swing.

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We combined teatime this week for The Snowy Day and If Jesus Came to My House. Benjamin decided we should serve snowball cookies, so we got baking.  I have to say this Tupperware chopper was amazing for chopping all of those pecans!

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rolling “snowballs”

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We looked for all of the ways in the story the little boy shows hospitality to Jesus and decided to invite some special visitors for teatime.

We greeted them at the door and invited them in…

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welcomed them to our table…

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and offered them something to eat…

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The kids did all of the decorating for teatime today.  I loved the snowflakes as coasters.  We enjoyed the snowball cookies and root beer and of course began teatime with My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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“And with my bricks I’d build for him a palace of his own, and he would be the little king and sit upon the throne”.

We made palaces for our guests.

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This one looked a bit more like a prison cell!

I was glad I went ahead and finished this story.  I wanted to make it more service centered, but living in a foreign country makes it difficult to find opportunities.  I also wanted them to find toys to donate, but since it ends up sitting on our train table it didn’t seem too effective in getting the point across.  Hopefully we can do more service projects after we move.

We’re Off!

November 9, 2015:  We’re all packed up and ready to go! We’ve had a great summer living with Gan, but it’s time to say goodbye 😔😢😭.

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As excited as I am for this new adventure, saying goodbye never gets easier.  I will miss everyone dearly and it’s sad to think the kids will miss these years with their cousins, aunts, and uncles.   I am praying daily for Dad’s recovery 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻.

Clara was happy to have her animals and made a bed for them.

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She looks like such an angel (wish I had been this comfy).

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Both kids were happy to look at the photo album of our summer that Aunt Erica made for us.

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We had an eight hour layover in Baltimore 😧.  When we finally made it through security, we ate dinner at the one and only restaurant.  The kids were dropping quickly.

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We were supposed to board the plane around 1 AM, but it turned out to be around 2:30.  It was rough on everyone. Clara buried her head in the chairs and Benny picked strings out of his blankies.

The flight was long and painful but quiet and I think we all managed to get some sleep.  We had a two hour layover in Germany where we had to get all of our luggage, go through security again, and then board the plane.

The kids really perked up when we finally landed and made it to our room.

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Time to be silly!