A Cookhouse Christmas

This Christmas was delightfully festive and busy. Abigail has been very sweet, and especially enjoyed opening her Christmas presents. It was evident that she liked the shiny wrapping paper just as much as the presents themselves! Ezra had never built a gingerbread house before, and did not understand that we were supposed to eat the house after we built it--not while we built it. As soon as he had finished making a gingerbread man to go near the house, he promptly sat down in his highchair and started to pray for his food! Anne gently explained that we "save the house", and gave him some candy to eat instead. Anna enjoys playing with her new toy food, and looks forwards to sharing her toys with her friends. She and Ezra currently take trips to the "store" (Nehemiah's room) to buy food for her "children"(her many dolls) Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah and I have immensely enjoyed reading the many books we got for Christmas, and have received enough books to do so for a while. We enjoy every minute we spend in a book, but we treasure more the time we spend with our siblings. We all pray that you have a Merry Christmas this year, and that the spirit of Christmas will stay in your hearts year round.

-Joseph Cook, on behalf of the rest of the Cook Family.


2009 CAP Awards Banquet

(above) Daniel, Nehemiah, and Joseph at the Civil Air Patrol Awards Banquet.

Though the air outside was crisp and cold, the atmosphere inside the building was one of warmth and cheer. As the many families which make up Gainesville Composite Squadron gradually assembled at the various tables in the large hall, the 2009 GCS Awards Banquet began.

The guest speaker was Maj. Craig Heitzler, USAF. He spoke to the cadets about his varied experiences with ROTC, and about what it means to succeed. He earnestly stressed the importance of having a career objective, and working towards that goal with the fullest of strength. In his closing statements, he reminded everyone that we must remember the veterans who have preserved America’s freedoms, because without them, we would not be here.

There were distinguished guests at the banquet, which included Col. Phil Newman, and Col. Ramon Waldrop, who were both US Army Air Corps Ret. WWII bomber pilots. Both men gladly shared their stories with the many cadets who met them, and helped present a few awards.

A small table, set for one, with an empty seat sat prominently in the front of the room. It was set with many symbolic items—but its purpose was to remind us that many soldiers never returned from battle. Numerous soldiers are listed as Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War. They must be remembered for the bravery they showed, honored for their sacrifices, and their legacy forever enshrined in the memory of every American who enjoys the simple, yet extremely significant freedoms in the USA.

There were many awards for deserving cadets and senior members. One of the most significant awards was the 100% attendance award, presented to C/Maj. Timothy Lhota, and his father 1LT Rich Lhota. They have attended 100% of meetings and special activities for 2009, and have both received this award for the past three years! The night was filled with promotions and awards. Six Cadet Airmen/NCOs and one Cadet Officer were promoted that night. (See list below for promotions/awards)

Gainesville Composite Squadron is like none other. The siblings, friends, family, and cadets make a squadron one that will never be forgotten, because of the leaders that are made, and the memories created. Every year is a new opportunity, and with an effort of teamwork, our squadron will once again succeed in reaching new heights.

Both Daniel and Joseph were promoted at the banquet. Daniel was promoted to Cadet Major, and Joseph was promoted to Cadet Master Sergeant. Joseph also received the “Squadron NCO of the year”. (NCO means: “non commissioned officer”) Our whole family was able to attend!


How old is Abigail?

Many of you have voted on how old you think Abigail is. She is currently 7 months, and 2 days old! 42% of you were correct, and the rest of you were close! A post regarding the upcoming Civil Air Patrol Squadron Banquet (on Thursday) will be posted Friday or Saturday night.


Sandhill Cranes

Sand-Hill Cranes

Earlier this morning, around 10 a.m, I was pulling Anna and Ezra in a wagon around the yard. Suddenly I heard a sound overhead. It reminded me of a dinosaur sound from the movies. Above me, were two large birds, flying south. I thought they might be herons, but I wasn’t quite sure. After bringing Anna and Ezra inside, I decided to research the birds I saw. Here is what I learned.

What I had seen, was a Sandhill crane. Sand hill cranes are fascinating birds. They are the most common of the world’s cranes. Sandhill Cranes are huge birds with wingspan of 5 to 6 feet! They live in wetlands of North America, and Siberia, where they feast on plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects and even worms. Because they enjoy plants the most, they often come into conflict with farmers. Every winter when the cold winds begin to sweep the marshes, large groups of cranes take to the air, to begin their arduously long migratory journey to Florida, Texas, Utah, California, and as far away as Mexico!
When Sandhill Cranes choose a mate, they are remain with the mate for their entire life. Two chicks are raised at a time, and parents take turns incubating the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the mother tends to the nest, while the father keeps away menacing creatures such as foxes, or humans. One interesting expression of harmony expressed by cranes, is the “unison call”. This call, is produced by birds near each other, and is a sycronished duet, which reinforces the bonds between a male and female crane. That “unison call” is the sound we heard when the Sandhill Cranes flew over our yard.
Sandhill Cranes are unique birds. Their example of commitment should be a reminder to us, and their uniqueness points us to a brilliant and loving Creator. I was privileged to be able to see such fascinating birds!

This is where I found information on the sandhill crane:

You can listen to the sandhill crane call, here: http://www.bakersanctuary.org/media/SandhillUnisonCall.mp3


Christmas Lights (2)

Today was the final day of outside Christmas decorating. Hammering and sawing filled the air as Papa and some of the boys busily constructed the new manger scene. From a vantage point up on the roof, I could see them below. I was helping Daniel carefully string the Christmas lights, along the last few places we had missed. In a short time, we had finished the lights, and Papa and the boys had finished the Manger scene. Daniel did a few last-minute tweaks, and the lights were up! All we had to do, was wait for darkness to arrive. Shortly after we finished watching the Gator game, we went outside to turn on the Christmas lights. When the whole family had assembled on the lawn, Daniel turned them on.

It was a beautiful sight! From the road, our home looked like a Gingerbread house! Mama and Papa had purchased a Christmas Tree at Ace Hardware Center. We put it up, and it almost touched the roof! We loaded down the tree with ornaments, while the a cheerful blaze issuing forth from the fireplace, warmed us all. Afterwards, everyone (even Ezra and Anna) enjoyed a small cup of eggnog. We are thankful to all be able to enjoy this Christmas Season together as a healthy, happy family.


Christmas Lights (1)

Today is the day after Thanksgiving. It is the day when we always put up Christmas lights, and decorate the house. We always exert a team effort, and work together to get things done. Daniel and I were on the roof putting up the lights, and the boys were busy working on building a manger scene. Daniel and I were able to put up several strands, using Duck Tape and Bricks! We are working on outlining the house with the colorful lights. When we finish, it looks like a Gingerbread house! Tomorrow we will finish the rest of the lights, and I will post a picture of the house at night.

Thanksgiving 2009

On Thanksgiving day we woke up early to begin our "Thanksgiving Pilgrimage". Every Thanksgiving Day for as long as I can remember, we travel from Keystone all the way down to Fort Myers. Papa's family lives down there, and every year we meet at our Grand-Aunt's house. (Papa's, Mother's, Aunt) We left our house at 6:30, and arrived at sometime around 11:45. The meal was better than expected! There was a plump turkey, warm cornbread, buttered rolls, and much more scrumptious food! Afterwards the adults stayed inside, and most of the children went out to play the traditional game of Hide-and-seek, in Aunt Abby's backyard. The rest of the evening was spent both indoors and out, playing games with cousins and relatives. Every Thanksgiving Day is a memorable experience. It seems almost like a step back in time, because everything is almost the same as last year! We headed home that evening playing Christmas Music (since Thanksgiving was technically over) and arrived home around 10:30. We enjoyed every minute of the day, which was spent with a mixture of friends and relatives. In the Cook house, Thanksgiving is a day that we always look forward to, and enjoy immensely.


Fall work-day

Early this morning, not long after KP was finished, we began working outdoors. I [Joseph] Started cleaning Anna's "playhouse" with a bucket of bleach and a scrub rush. The playhouse had collected a good assortment of bugs, and dirt over the summer! Nehemiah, Noah, and Elijah raked large piles of leaves out front. Daniel burned the leaves in the burn barrel. He and I also burned a lot of sticks, woods, and logs. We also burned an old chair. It was engulfed in the roaring inferno, and was barely distinguishable as a chair! Daniel called it the "Hot seat"!

Mrs. Stanley called over, and requested some of our pine needles for her garden, (to act as mulch) so the boys and I got on the job quickly. With permission of the neighbors, we raked much of their yard free of pine needles. We managed to create such a huge pile, that Noah and I decided to create a face out of the massive pile of needles. We nicknamed him, the "Gum-drop" man!

Needless to say, many people looked at it as they drove by! Later, some of the Stanleys came by to pick up the "Gum-drop man", and we disassembled him. The funny thing is--our neighbors never came outside and saw the "Gum-drop Man"! That is why I took pictures. Though the day was long, it seemed to pass quickly with all the work we did. We were able to rake a good portion of the yard, and burn a good amount of sticks and branches. The most fun thing though, was being able to work with my brothers in the cool fall weather.


Seaworld Trip '09

Yesterday (September 16th) Anne, Papa, Elijah and I [Noah] went to Sea World in Orlando. We stopped at a Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Elijah and I got kids meals, and Papa and Anne got sandwiches. After lunch we went to Sea World. When we got there we got our tickets and went straight to "Manta" the new roller coaster. Papa, Anne, and I rode one it. Sometimes Papa would stay down below with Elijah, and sometimes Anne would. I rode on manta five times (with Papa twice, and with Anne three times.) Before we left, Joseph gavbe us a scavenger hunt to do there. We were supposed to find [quite a few things]. We had a lot of fun doing the scavenger hunt. It got us moving a lot! At dolphin cove we touched a dolphin. He felt like a rubbery ball. We went to the alligator place, where we saw two alligators. RIght next to it was the Mannatees. Anne, Papa, and I went on Kraken. Papa nad Anne went together in the front row, while Elijah and I got smashed pennies. We also went to shark encounter, where we went in a glass tunnel with sharks swimming all around. "Stingray Lagoon" was really fun, because you could feed Stingrays. We had fun on a roller coaster rcalled "Shamu Express". The fun playground was called "Shamu's happy harbor". WHen we got ready to leave, we rode Manta two last times. Papa took our picture [with his camera phone] at the light house and the penguin wall. We got in the car, and drove to Bass Pro SHops and looked around. THen we went to Burger King, and then we got gas. As we went home I thought about the days events. It was so fun to go to Sea World with Papa, Anne and Elijah.

-Written By Noah Cook
-Posted online by Joseph Cook


A Pilgrim Thanksgiving

Pictured here is the entire Cook Family along with 3 other homeschooling familes.
Baby Abigail is being held by Mama in the back row. Ezra is standing in front of Noah. Anna is in the front in the dark green dress. Elijah is holding the bow and arrow in the front row. Nehemiah is standing behind Noah and Elijah. Joseph is in the back row in the gray wide-brimmed hat. Daniel is in the back row with the blue tam. Papa is standing in front of Mama, in the dark blue jacket. And I am standing beside Joseph in the back row. Last weekend, we and a few other homeschool families gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving, in our period costumes. Anne finished the costumes just in time! (The night before) Everyone gathered outside to eat both normal, and old-fashioned food. Aafterwards, the girls enjoyed making corn-husk dolls, while the men and boys target practiced shooting both clay pigeons, and stationary targets. Everyone had a great time, and looks forward to doing it again next year.
Daniel and Papa were among the many (including myself) who enjoyed using the shotgun.
Our friends (L to R) Mr. Stanley, Mr. Evan, and Ms. Katie, tend to the fire, over which vensison stew was cooked!
By the end of the day, even the littlest "Pilgrims" were tired--but they day was well spent. Days such as this one, live on as cherised memories.

We're back onto our normal schedule of posting! There should be at least one new post (or more) around the middle of the week.


Medieval Fair

On September 19, 2009, we hosted the 1st Annual Medieval Fair. Activities included: "Fencing", Archery, "Jousting", and Croquet. There was plenty of fun (and food) for everyone. It was a huge success, with over 5 families represented. Below are pictures from the event.


Indian Teepees

Recently, Elijah has been learning about Indians in his history book. One of the required activities, was to make a teepee. He also wrote a paper titled "The Indians", shown below.
The indians, which were on the move most of the time, lived on the plains of North America. They followed the buffalo herds. The teepees which were made out of buffalo skins were sewn by women. They draped the hides carefully over poles.

Fire Station Training: 9.15.09

(Pictured above is Engine 10, with the sun setting in the background)
Last night Daniel, Papa, and I, went to KHVFD (Keystone Heights Volunteer Fire Department) for the Volunteer training meeting. Mr. Chip had planned a hose drill out near McCrae. Upon arrival at the site (We Explorers rode in the Big Van) We were able to observe the Volunteers laying down hose all over a field, in order to turbodraft. Turbodrafting, is when they take water out of a lake to put it onto a fire--but it is much more complicated than it sounds!

(Pictured above, is Papa, getting the Turbodraft off the top of 101.)
After they had finished laying everything down, We Explorers climbed on top of 101, and were able to use the water cannon! Lastly, and most importantly, we packed all of the hoses up! There were quite a few lines layed out, but with all the help from both Volunteers and Explorers, it didn't take that long--and everyone was ready to head back to the station, where Ms. Joanie and some others, had cooked up a great meal!
(one of the Explorers using the water cannon)


I woke up at 6:30, so I would have time to eat. Mr. Geiger arrived at around 8:00, to take us out to the Church Tennis court, where there was a minor sinkhole. The cour sunk in, because it was built on top of a former burn pile, which was buried. When the pile of burnt wood started rotting, the weight of the court pushed down on the void, and sunk in. When the fill- dirt first arrived, we realized that there would be a lot left over. After putting less than half in the hole, Mr. Tim had to start filling up the trailer. We had to help by shoveling dirt into the diggers bucket. When we dropped the dirt off by the baseball field, none of it would slide out, despite the fact that the trailer bed lifted up to a 45 degree angle--so we shoeveled it. The second time through, we put the dirt in the dumptruck--and that worked quite well! (no extra shoveling) After pulling up some more asphalt on the side of the court, where there were imperfections, we took a load of it to one of the Geiger properties. Earlier, we had taken some over to the Burkhardts. After a hard day of work, the sinkhole was filled in, with fill-dirt, and awaiting the flowable-fill/asphalt--and, if I may say so myself, looked quite professionaly done! -JosephC


August was very busy! We were given free tickets to a Suns Baseball Game in Jacksonville. We had a very exciting time during the game, and especially enjoyed the fireworks after the game. Anna and Ezra have stayed busy around the house too--doing everything from raiding Jelly jars to "playing" the piano. The family also began schoolwork. Above is a "recap" of August, in a few pictures. -JosephC


Allies vs. Cherokees #2

On Saturday evening, Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, Noah, Elijah, Papa, Ezra, and a handful of friends, gathered in the front yard to play a 3-inning softball game. Despite the dark clouds that loomed above, the game began. In the first inning, the Allies scored four runs, and the Cherokees scored three. In the second inning, it began to pour rain, but the players kept on going! The Allies scored three points on a homer by CJ, and the Cherokees scored one. In the third and final inning, the Allies scored two, while the Cherokees scored one. Therefore, the game ended 9-5. Most of the players enjoyed the game--as it was very close, and competetive. This was the second official "Simply Softball" game. The Allies and Cherokees have both won one. The one with the most of five games, will win the season title. We are looking for players in our next game sometime next month, so feel free to drop us a call if you are interested! -JosephC

Above is the Allies' logo, Designed by Joseph Cook. The Allies team was created in the Summer of '09.


Daniel's New Toolbox and Screwdrivers

This is a picture of the Craftsman toolbox and screwdriver set Daniel got with the money he got for his birthday.

Here's a few more pictures from our trip to Cocoa. -Joseph


Hello from Cocoa!

Hello from Cocoa Beach! We traveled down here on Wedensday, to visit Papa, who is here on business.

We've been hanging out in the hotel room, a lot. Abigail enjoys herself very much! While Papa is in his class during the day, we go down to the pool or beach. At the beach, Nehemiah, Noah, Elijah, and I (Joseph) got to Boogie Board on the waves--it was fun! I will try and post more photos soon.


Last Monday, at 9:00 in the morning, Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, Noah, Elijah, Papa, and Pappy, were outside, ready to play a softball game. Tate, Jake, and Billy (our neighbors) also came over. The game was a lot of fun--we had 3 innings...this is a short video of a few pictures we took.

Nehemiah runs Front yard Football and Daniel runs Simply Softball. The teams were called the Cherokees and the Allies. The Cherokees were Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah, and Billy. The Allies were Joseph, Elijah, Tate and Jake. Pappy threw out the opening pitch, which was also the Simply Softball inaugural pitch, and the Simply Softball 2009 Season opener pitch. Daniel and Joseph (The team captains) agreed to a coin flip to determine who had home-field advantage. The Allies won the coin flip. The following is a inning by inning summary.

1st Inning:

The Allies really put on a show. They held the Cherokees at one run and made four runs.

2nd Inning:
Both teams played real hard resulting in the offensive and defensive plays of the game. For the Offensive play of the game Billy hit a Grand Slam racking up four runs for the team. For the Defensive play of the game Tate caught one of Daniel's fouls. The Cherokees made eleven runs and the Allies made seven runs. This brought the score to Cherokees 12 Allies 11.

3rd Inning:
The Cherokees made twelve runs. Then the Allies came and made six runs. This brought the score to Cherokees 24 Allies 17.

It was a close game and there has been much talk about it between the players. All the players are practicing and both team captains are working on their strategy for next game.

Simply Softball does not allow intentional strike outs or intentional walks. The goal is to get the outs through fielding the ball.

Coffee Weather

Today around lunchtime, we had a thunderstorm. It rained a lot! I went outside and took a picture--water was running around the base of our tree, and the watergarden was overflowing. Whenever it rains a lot, Mama calls it "Coffee-Weather" and we always turn on the Coffee Maker!


Rain, Lightning and Hail!!

This evening, Papa, Daniel, Noah, and I, went to Goldhead State Park to help the firefighters pack up after a Motorcycle Trip/Picnic. When we were nearing the Park Entrance, the rain started pouring down--we could barely see the road, because our windshield wipers do not work! We slowly pulled into the entrance, and the Ranger waved us through--probably because she didn't want to get wet! As kept driving, we suddenly heard "pinging" sounds on the roof! Papa said "It's hailing!" We pulled over with our hazards on, because the rain and hail were pouring down in sheets. When the rain seemed to have subsided slightly, I hopped out of the car real quick, and grabbed a piece of hail. It was about the size of a marble. For a few more minutes (about 5) Once the rain had thorougly subsided, Papa drove to the pavilion where all the Motorcycle/Firefighter people were waiting. While we pulled in we saw lightning, and immediately after it a loud peal of thunder. Papa noticed an orange glow as he was looking through the windshield. Once we got into the pavilion, they told us that they saw lightning strike the big van! They said when it hit the car, sparks flew everywhere! We didn't notice it that much when we were in the car though. (Except for Papa) No damage was done to the car, and after we helped pack up, we traveled home uneventfully!


Abigail and Friends

Anna had all her babies out on the bed, and Abigail was in the middle of them, sleeping!

New Door for the Garoom

Recently, Mr. Gordon installed a new Door for the Garoom. (Daniel and my room, named so because it was a former Garage, now turned room) The first step was to rip out the old door...that was done quite easily! There was indication of termites near the bottom frame, but when the FL Pest Control Men showed up, they confirmed that it was not active.

Then, Mr. Gordon (and Daniel) spent the next two hours installing the door. It was a little harder than usual, because it did not fit exactly, so some customization had to happen.

The final product looks great, and it is air/water tight!


SCUBA Diving Class

Last Week, I (Joseph) went to a SCUBA dive class at a friend's house. we took a 9-Chapter video course, where we learned the basics of diving. After finding gear that fit us, we practiced diving in the pool. After we had the essentials down, we went to Manatee Springs for our first real dive. It was really pretty! Fish, Frogs, Snakes, and Turtles, were a few animals we saw while underwater. We dove to about 30 feet, for 20 minutes. The next day, we dove in Catfish Sink. We went all the way down to 42 feet! It was really pretty, because there were rock walls going up on all sides. After about 30 minutes or so, we exited the water, and our dive teacher dropped me off at Red Lobster, where I met up with Mama, and the rest of the family. The course was a lot of fun, and now that I know how to dive, Papa and I will dive together sometime.


Who's on top?

Today I (Daniel) built a complicated wooden train track set-up. Beneath are a few photographs of it. I have entitled it "Who's on top?" It was built for Anna and Ezra to play with. If you look you will notice that every raised bridge has a track going under it. The entire track only has one dead end! If you were an engineer of a wooden train on theis track a map, gps, and anti-collision technology would all be VERY USEFULL.

"Who's on top?" aerial image version I.

"Who's on top?" aerial image version II.

Encyclopedia junction with three levels of track!

Looking through the bottom tunnel of encyclopedia junction.

The older you get the more complicated the tracks will become!


Free Books (by Anne Cook)

Paperbackswap is a wonderful website for everyone! I use it constantly! You can earn "credits" for your books, and use those "credits" like money, to purchase other books from the website. Audio books, VHS tapes, storybooks, textbooks, devotional books, journals, and much more is available from Paperbackswap!
And, when you first join, you get Two free credits!!! All you have to pay in order to earn a free book is the shipping costs for one of the books someone requests from you. Paperbackswap is a valuable resource for homeschoolers, book collectors, and everyone who enjoys reading.

Join today with my referral by clicking the large button to the right, or selecting a link in this post.

Feel free to email me with any questions at: cook01.fl@comcast.net


Rainy Day

On Wedensday, we went out on the front porch to look at the rain. Anna and Ezra went out into it, in their raincoats. Ezras was a bit oversized, but he definetly enjoyed himself. We thank God for all the rain we've been getting these past few days--it is most certainly a blessing! -JosephC

Dessert Night for Mothers

The Alliance Men's Group, from our Church, Friendship Bible, planned a dessert night for Mothers, Sunday night, following the Evening service. The Dessert went well---Several mothers attended, and everyone, (including the Alliance Men and Alliance Kids) Got enough to eat.


Pictures of Abigail at the hospital and at home. Abigail is now over 1 week old, and doing fine!


Abigail Lillian Cook!

Our newest little sister, Abigail Lillian Cook, arrived today on May 5th, 2009 around 5pm! She weighs 8.6 lb! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! Mother and baby are healthy and well.


Church Workday

Today was the Alliance Men's Church Workday. Papa, Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah, Elijah, and I attended. Several other men from church were there. We laid carpet, cleaned walls,etc. It was a lot of work--but it was worth it. Below is a succession of photos, showing the carpet being laid in the lobby. -Joseph


Yesterday, Daniel and I went over to a friend's house to fix "The Duck" (our yellow Isuzu) Last week, it had died on Anne, while she was driving home from the Watson Center. She was able to pull it into the Church parking lot, and get a ride home. On Sunday, we found out that there was no Transmission fluid in it at all! We added two quarts, but it dumped it out as soon as we turned the car on. Our friend towed it to his house, where we raised it up, and assesed the problem, and it wasn't hard to find, either.

A tube, through which the transmission fluid flows, had popped out of it's connecter. We were able to replace the tube, and get the Duck running again. We also fixed a few smaller problems using Ductape!



Yesterday a friend from church, came over to help us till a place for our second garden. (We have had one in the past, but the is the first one on a close to large scale production) We tilled and leveled, and later in the day, we added fertilizer and tilled it again! The place we were tilling, was a former burn site (for the burn-barrell) and gun range. We found 4 small toy soldiers, one giant toy soldier, a toy alligator, at least 5 soda cans, and lots of roots! Some roots were so thick, that we had to chop them with an axe! We finally finished, and later that evening, while Anne, Daniel, Anna, and I were at AWANA, Papa and the younger boys planted a few varites of squash, tomatoes and peppers! We hope to plant some more things once we go to Ace and buy seeds.

Noah's Sword

Noah recently bought a "English Adventurers" Sword from Vision Forum. He was able to purchase the Sword with birthday money. He has had fun playing with it, and looks forward to fencing, when Nehemiah gets his.


Piano(s) on the move

Yesterday, we finally moved our big, wooden, 100 year old piano. Mr. Hector came over with his moving truck, and using some of his equipment and a lot of effort, we got it in the truck. Our neighbor across the street, was more than happy to take the piano off of our hands. Mr. Hector let Noah and I ride in his truck! Getting the piano out of the moving-truck was a little bit harder, but with the help of Papa, Daniel, our neighbor, and Mr. Hector, it was rolled down the ramp, and into the house safely. Our new piano, which we purchased from Lipham Music in Gainesville, is a lot of fun. It is digital, so it has headphones, which allows us to practice any time of the day. It has a full keyboard, and weighted keys, so it still feels like the old piano. It is also a lot smaller which allows more light into the room.
-Posted By Joseph Cook


Fighting more fire!

Today Caleb Eades had come over to go with us to the Keystone Heights Volunteer Fire Department business meeting to give a talk on the fire explorer conference we went to. Just as we were finishing dinner a call for a woods fire came through! Caleb, Papa, and I ran on out to the white Isuzu Trooper (literally) and headed for the station. Once there Caleb and I were given the chance to respond in Tender 109 (The biggest truck that holds all the water). We drove through town on our way to the fire. We passed Mrs. Eades with big smiles on our faces. Once on scene we were told to stay and wait in the tender. During our almost hour long wait Mrs. Eades came by and took some photographs. After almost an hour Papa, who had responded in Brush 10, came by and picked Caleb and I up. Before we left we refilled Brush 10 and then packed in and drove into the Lake Geneva lake bed. By the time we got down to the fire the Division of Forestry was plowed a fire line around the area that was on fire. We drove to the area that was already burnt and sat there in the truck oohing and ahhing at the flames and enjoying breathing in and smelling the smoke. We backed up a little and watched as the firefighters took drip torches and set fire to the rest of the brush inside of the fire area. After it burned out (Which was quite spectacular) we drove around while Mr. Chris Seymour started mop up. Just when we were about to help mop up we ran out of water. We went back and refilled. Once in the lake bed again Caleb and I sat down on the water tank of the truck and Mr Seymour passed us the hose. Caleb and I enjoyed taking turns at the hose and driving around the burned out area. Once out of water we went back and refilled. Mr. Seymour then had us roll up the hose and we climbed back into the truck and went back to the station. On the way back to the station we got a lesson in refilling the tender, which was quite educational and enjoyable. WE then rolled up the hose, walked to the station, and helped wash Woods 10. Shortly thereafter (About two and a half hours after first responding) we went into the station for the business meeting. Our briefing to the volunteers was postponed and instead Papa gave a short summary of the events at the conference and competition. We all enjoyed the call and had a whole lot of fun riding on the back of the brush truck. The most impressive part was watching the flames in the darkness of night.

Ezra's First Sentence

The answer to the poll: "Which of the following do you think was Ezra's first "real" Sentence?": 1. Thank you Papa,(41%) 2.Please eat (29%) 3. No thank you,(29%) 4. "Please, Mama" (0%) The correct answer is: "Thank you Papa" He learned this sentence on our "up North" Cross Country trip. (Every time we pull into a resteraunt we say "Thank you Papa!" so Ezra caught on easily! -Joseph


Angel's Diner

On Friday, February 27, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell treated Nehemiah, Joseph, and Anne to dinner at Angel's diner in Palatka Florida.
Founded in 1932, this small silver capsule looking place, contains a narrow walkway, small kitchenette, and tables and chairs on either side.
The menu had a variety of tempting choices.

Mr. & Mrs. Campbell ordered the classic American hamburgers. Nehemiah and Anne both ordered a cheeseburger platter, which came with fries, a drink, and onion rings. We ordered a "Pusalow" to share, a special milkshake type drink made of crushed ice, malted milk, ice cream, and chocolate. It had a curious taste, and was enjoyed by all.
Joseph ordered a ONE POUND hamburger! It hardly fit on the plate!

It was a very special memorable day for all of us.


Finally fighting fire!!!

After a year and a half of waiting it finally happened! I have been an Explorer for one and a half years and I was really looking forwards to a brush fire I could help mop up. Explorers are not allowed to fight and active fire but we are allowed to help mop up after a fire. Today when the brush fire came through I was sitting down doing my Algebra and Papa was outside working on his motorcycle. I immediately jumped up when I heard the magic words "Station 10 Volunteers" and "Brush fire." When we got to the station most of the trucks were missing. However in a few minutes another volunteer, Mr. Chris Seymour, and his father showed up. Mr. Seymour chose to roll in the 4x4 pumper known as Attack 10. Soon we were charging through the light in town and down the road with LIGHTS, SIREN, AND HORN. We drove on down some residential paved roads and then on to some bumpy residential dirt roads. Once on scene we saw the smoke and a line of three or four inch tall flames. Papa was all suited up so he engaged the fire while I suited up. Once the flames were out I was allowed to help drag hose for Papa in the mop-up. Then Papa gave me the hose and I got to mop up under his direction! We ran out of water and were sent back to the station to refill. By this time the fire was out and the brush trucks that were there could handle it. At the station I was given a hands on lesson on filling up Attack 10's water tank. Then another call came through. This time we passed our house on the way to the fire. Mr. Seymour sounded a long horn blast for the boys. We were cancelled before we got to the fire and returned to the station. This great series of events made for quite a memorable time that will always remain as my first fire call where I got to help mop-up the fire.

-Daniel R. H. Cook


Explorer Conference

This weekend Papa, Daniel, and Anne went down to an Explorer/Fire Cadet conference/competition in Coral Springs Florida at the Coral Springs FIre Academy. They left Friday in The Keystone Heights Volunteer Fire Department's Squad 10 accompanied by Caleb Eades and his mother Laura Eades. After the long drive down they slept the night in a classroom at the fire academy. Saturday after breakfast they completed the conference registration and were of to the days events which included vehichel extrication, hose drills, technical rescue, rapelling, and a class on SWAT medics and dive rescue.

Daniel and Caleb agreed that they liked extrication best of all. After all, how often do you get to puncture tires, smash windshiels and rear windows, and cut up cars in the name of training! (Daniel is on the left of the photo Caleb is in the center of the photo and an explorer form another post is on the right of the photo holding the cutters.)

The ground based monitor was fun to control!

The technical rescue included lifting Caleb up high in a stokes basket!

After Technical rescue Daniel, Caleb, and Anne all rapelled from the fire tower. After the conference and cleanup the fun began. Blow up toys including a velcro wall, bungee run, and clibming wall were brought in. The activity Daniel enjoyed most was the blow up obstacle course. He and Caleb did it many times and were definentely sore from doing it at full speed a couple dozen times!

Anne and Papa competed in the bungee run!

After the raffle in which Caleb won a t-shirt and acquired a CD carrying case, they watched Fireproof in the room Papa, Daniel, and Caleb were sleeping in. On Sunday they observed the competition before heading for home. Once back at the station Caleb and Daniel washed and vacaumed the Squad.

Authors note:
This is a highly abbreviated account of the action packed weekend and only touches on a few major points.


Homemade Icicles

Last night, we left a sprinkler on to try and make some icicles...It worked! The bush was partly covered in icicles over an inch long. The bench had a few little tiny ones. The water garden was frozen over (we turned it off last night) and most of the ground had Ice all over it! THe rocks were also covered in ice, not to mention the short bushes too. Here a few pictures: