As many of you know, Autumn is my favourite time of the year! I just love the colourful leaves as they drop from the trees!  And the harvesting of crops and the fruit of hard summer labour seems so worth it when eating our pumpkins or making applesauce.  

Yearly, the children have a harvest assembly at school where they sing songs off thanks to the Lord, recite poems, and play instruments.   Children bring tinned and boxed foods to school and make a beautiful display before donating them to those in need.  Cora and Titus both had speaking parts in assembly yesterday.  Unfortunately Cora was a bit shorter than others and I was unable to see her, but she could definitely be heard!  Performing for all the parents makes the endless hours of practise seem more worth it for them.  😉

At our school, this is also the assembly where music medals are bestowed upon students whom have performed high in recorder, violin, and flute.  The first year high school students return to primary school to receive their medals in this special ceremony.  

Harvest Assembly is a great way to usher in Autumn and emerged the reasons why we are thankful!  

Other Autumn photos from the week…


It is tradition here to collect conkers (horse chestnuts) which have fallen from the trees, and place them about the outside of the house to prevent spiders from coming inside.

Playing at swing park in rain!

More hermit crabs!


Since Titus met a personal challenge which his Daddy put before him (dry bed for 30 days); Titus earned two more hermit crabs!  We decided this reward because since we purchased his first two hermit crabs this summer, Titus’s hermit crab still has not come out of his shell…perhaps this is why he has the name Hermit the Hermit Crab!  We learned our lesson that we need to hold each hermit crab in the shop in order to see which is be old enough to come out of his or her shell.  And yesterday Titus and Daddy found two who did just that!  (But before that Titus held one who pinched him so tight he teared up…consequently they did not purchase that hermit crab!).  




How fascinating these hermit crabs are as pets!  Now we each have one, three which we can hold.  Welcome to our home, hermit crabs, Henry and Hailey which have now befriended Hyacinth (our first outgoing hermit crab) and Hermit!  

FAB (PTA) Donation to School


At this morning’s Family Assembly, FAB (Friends at Beecroft) presented cheque for £2,300! And £516 of that was from gift aid (matching money from government) of the Sponsored Walk (which we had two years ago) and will be allocated for new library books!  The following is a photo of the new Chair, the Head Teacher, and I presenting a large cheque (which Ryan thought to purchase in hopes of boosting awareness of FAB at our children’s school).  
I am very thankful to everyone whom helps, no matter how little or great, to raise money for our children to have school trips, instruments, and extras such as new library books! This is definitely a team effort!  

Now on to planning on of our bigger fundraisers…the Winter Fair!

Class Trip to Saltaire


Today I accompanied Titus on both Y3 classes visiting Saltaire.  It was a sunny but brisk Autumn morning where ushered the children towards Saltaire church after arriving on the coach.  Once inside the beautiful historic church, there were three ladies dressed as Victorian women whom lived at that time.  One woman was of upper class, one of working class, and one a hospital matron.  Each adult and child was given a bookmark which had the name and facts of a person whom would have lived and worked during the time of Salts Mill.  Also on the bookmark was the address where this person would have lived and we later walked to each actual address.  We would have loved to see inside these Victorian buildings, but now they are privately owned and I doubt the homeowner would have appreciated us coming inside!  😉  These bookmarks were helpfully entertaining as we found some were related and Titus was the village doctor whom helped those with Cholera!  
And I was a privileged woman whose husband was the local stationer and book seller!  

On our walk we learned interesting facts such as how human and dog feeces was used in the tannery to make leather soft!  Human bones were crushed and used to make glue!  And Titus Salt was worth £2 million when he died (that’s equivalent to offer £400 million in today’s value)!  

At lunch we ate what we each brought from home in the ballroom of Victoria Hall (the village hall named after Queen Victoria).  This was one building which I had not entered yet because mostly it is reserved for large functions.  This was a lovely historic grand building!  

After lunch we returned to the outside of the church where we drew maps of Saltaire before moving on to Salts Mill.  Salts Mill had David Hockney artwork on display.  The children were asked to focus on his iPad paintings in particular.  It was fascinating to me that art can now be done on the iPad!  Perhaps Cora and Titus will need to give that a go.  

Apple Harvest


Nothing welcomes in Autumn more than the falling of the leaves and apple harvesting!  For two Wednesdays after school we have gathered the children from Cora’s & Titus’s school, along with a neighbour of ours whom organises local foraging walks, to pick apples and press them into juice.

Ryan even learned how to build an apple press using a car jack!  He has worked with his friend to further perfect this press into efficiency!

The first week we harvested we cored and cut the apples, placed them in a plastic bucket, and then used a rolling pin to crush them!

This week we borrowed another neighbour’s mangler, which does just what it says in the name!


Then Ryan takes the crushed apples and places them in the press in order to squeeze the juice out.  This may be his favourite part, but mine and the children’s is picking the apples!

The children all climb the trees and then pass the apples down to those standing on the ground.  We cannot spend all our time harvesting because we need to form our “factory” (as Titus & Cora call it) assembly line for coring, slicing, and mashing the apples for pressing.  Fortunately, the children do enjoy participating in those activities as well!   And I love harvesting apples and bringing them home to make apple sauce, apple crisp, apple cake, and more!

Ballet Class 


Cora has been asking us for ballet lessons since she first took them in Colorado (before we moved here) when she was only three years old!  Therefore, I finally gave in but unfortunately not without first having to die to some of my selfishness.  For the past eight years (basically all of Cora’s life) I have resisted the kids having any activities on Saturdays.  This was because of our busy evenings with ministry but also because I selfishly wanted to keep Saturdays for hanging about home, which is most relaxing for me.  Yet I have had to ask myself if this is best for the children?  True, Cora and Titus each need extra weekend rest because going to school daily 8:50am – 3:15pm and having homework most evenings and weekends is quite tiring for a seven and eight year old.  But it is time for each to enter another stage of life…hobbies which create discipline.  Therefore, Titus is beginning Rugby and Cora ballet and both of these activities are on a Saturday.  

Despite my dragging my feet and not leaving quite earlier enough to allow for horrendous traffic, the Lord answered Cora’s prayer (which she prayed aloud as we were struggling to locate Armley Dance Studios) and her class had been delayed just enough that she had not missed out at all!  That is definitely the Lord’s grace!  Even though I was sinful in not wanting to go, He blessed us and thankfully we both enjoyed it!  Perhaps also my hesitation was a bit fearful of Cora being disappointed if we cannot continue lessons for whatever the reason or if she cannot perform to expected standards.  Yet, I shall not hold her back due to these unfounded fears.  

Cora looked the beautiful ballerina still adorning ballet clothes Nana had given her years prior!  And she was not shy, she joined right in, and tried all the moves…most of which she performed well!  Now she says she wants to do extra practice with me when I do ballet Pilates on a morning before school!  And I quite look forward to that as well as watching her graceful moves at upcoming lessons!  

Castle Howard…a first look


The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.  The 1st Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard was the great grandson of Lord William Howard, the youngest son of Thomas Howard.  Created Earl of Carlisle in 1661 it was Charles’ grandson, Charles Howard the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who is famed as the creator of Castle Howard.

This morning we drove through magnificent ornate gates to Castle Howard…and then rode in a Kelly car to the large manor home!  

Titus found the Emporer whom has his namesake!  

The Great Hall (above) unfortunately had a fireplace which caught on fire in 1940 causing the magnificent dome to fall.  Fortunately some girls whom were staying there (due to the war) from a nearby girls school helped to save some valuables. However, it was near 20 years before much of the damage was repaired.  

This ornate home made us often look up!  Grandpa loved the antiques and wanted to take some back to Texas!  

The Chapel (pictured below) was one of he most ornate I have seen!

At the end of the tour, Cora and Titus were rewarded with free face Painting!  And since they saw peacocks when we entered the castle grounds, they just had to have peacocks painted on their faces!

As we were searching for lunch, we came across falconry!  Cora and Titus and even Ryan lived the dream of holding owls!

View of Castle Howard, which is still lived in today:

Family pictures by the garden fountain…

After a rather small and expensive lunch, we walked through the idyllic rose gardens and vegetable patch.

Kids were fascinated with the quite large goldfish!

And, of course, our last full day with Grandpa just had to include ice cream!  

We are so very blessed to have had Grandpa with us for the first time in five years!  Yet, we are sad to see him go tomorrow morning!  Titus and Cora have been hoping to persuade Grandpa to Skype with us when he returns home.  And we look forward to seeing him and many more family members next summer!