Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm Still Alive . . .

Did you think I fell off the edge of the earth? Sorry, life got crazy (still is), sigh . . .

So to try to catch up . . . I think we left off as we were starting to drive home from Florida.

Sunday and Monday we spent at Fort Sumter and surrounding area. Lots of fun, some not-so-fun.  Highlights included . . .

  • the bird that dive bombed the captain of the ferry out to Fort Sumter. When the girls asked him about it, while we were waiting for the crowd to thin out, getting off the boat, he said he feeds that particular bird (named Henry) and the bird comes and attacks him if he doesn't feed him immediately. Then he let Sassy give the bird some bread.
  • met some awesome rangers, one we'd have enjoyed visiting with all day if time had allowed.
  • the girls thought the joggling board (below) was great fun.

The not so fun highlight was getting stung by yellow jackets (or hornets or . . . the jury's still out, Dad called them ground hornets but when I googled ground hornets the description didn't match so who knows . . . ) whatever they were, they HURT! Like no sting I've ever had before! We were hiking on the nature trail at the Pinckney House and one of us must have inadvertently stepped on a nest. MiniMe said "bee!" and I saw one near her face & told her to stand still, then I realized they were swarming all around us and said "no run!!!" Dad and Little Bit were ahead of us and he grabbed her hand and took off, the rest of us followed and then all of a sudden Sassy started SCREAMING and came running past me. her sweater was COVERED with them (thankfully that day was MUCH cooler than the day before had been, the day before, as you can see in the joggling board picture), we were all comfortably wearing short sleeves, the next day was chilly enough that Sassy had chosen to wear her sweater (a thick weave, thankfully) AND put her hood up (which I'd come SO close to saying, "why in the world do you have your HOOD up?" but I bit my tongue and figured, whatever floats her boat, SO thankful I did, her hood was covered too) and MiniMe was wearing an anorak (because she forgot to pack her sweater, and I carry anoraks year round in case of rain). Dad end up having to yell in Sassy's face to get her to stop screaming and stand still so he could knock a couple hornets off her face, then he took her sweater off, and told the rest of us to keep going.  Dad knocked the hornets off her sweater once we'd moved on. Mom said she had Little Bit so I focused on keeping the big girls moving till we could find a place to sit down and I could give them Apis (homeopathic for bee stings, thankfully I had my NaturoKit in my purse). Sassy had literally "run out of her shoes" (crocs) when she got stung, so mom picked them up and the ipod Sassy dropped when she took her sweater off. We got to some benches (well away from the hornets) and I got apis and crisis calm (flower essences to help calm down) into both of them (and me). By then mom & Little Bit came up. Little Bit was crying and I asked mom if she thought Little Bit had been stung and mom said she didn't know, Little Bit just kept saying "Sassy". We finally managed to calm her down enough to confirm that no, THANKFULLY, Little Bit hadn't been stung, she was just sooo worried about Sassy. That worked to our advantage, pointing out that it was worrying Little Bit was what finally got the big girls to calm down.

So once we'd dealt with all that, we went back to the ranger station to get the girls' junior rangers AND tell the ranger about the hornets (or whatever). She felt AWFUL!! And quickly closed the trail until she could get someone to go deal with them. Conveniently we'd been right by a little bridge so could easily pinpoint for her where we'd found them.

I've been stung by various bees and wasps in my life but NOTHING that hurt like these did. It was still hurting enough to be hard to sleep when I went to bed that night. Oddly enough different stings were different too. One of mine swelled up a BUNCH, the other, not at all. One on Sassy's cheek didn't swell at all the first day, but was VERY swollen the next day. The girls said theirs had stopped hurting before we went to bed, mine still hurt, but the next day, some of theirs itched and mine never did . . .very odd. But thankfully by mid-day the next day, other than Sassy's still being swollen, they weren't bothering us anymore.

So after that "excitement" we headed on home to my parents' house, and then, on home.

Right before we left on the FL trip, a friend had told us that their neighbor was planning to sell and they and thought it might be a good fit for us (they knew we'd been casually house hunting for awhile now, and had a rough idea of our "criteria") so when we got home, we made an appointment and went to look at it. While the house and lot were both smaller than we'd hoped to find, there were definitely things that made up for that . . . many that we've looked at have been short sales and would have required, if not structural repairs, eventual major remodeling to be "nice", this one is newly redone. The lot is smaller than most we've looked at but surrounded by farmland and has a nice little stream running through the back, which the girls love, so it still gives the "feel" of being in the country. And, of course, being across the street from friends has definite advantages . . . so . . . after much back and forth, we have decided to at least make an offer on the house. Of course, while there are financial savings in not going through a realtor, it means more "work" too, so we've been figuring that out, and Thanksgiving has slowed things down (and dh had some work stuff that meant lots of late nights working so that slowed us down too), but hopefully before too much longer we'll know when/if we're moving!  In the meantime, the girls and I have been working to pack things that we know we won't need for a little while if things move slowly. . . so that's what we've been up to. . . 

Even before the whole house buying thing, I'd suggested to my mom that, since we'd just spent several weeks with them, we'd just stay home and do our own thing for Thanksgiving, and while getting together with extended family is wonderful, we enjoyed our quiet Thanksgiving of "just us" this year too! Sassy and MiniMe made dinner (salad, roasted potatoes and "alpine casserole" (a stuffing-like casserole with vegetarian chicken in it) pretty much all by themselves. They were proud of themselves and everything turned out great! Last year we also ended up being just us for Thanksgiving (I don't remember why), and we started a "Thanksgiving Gratitude Tablecloth" I got an inexpensive, light colored table cloth (I'd have preferred a cloth one, but it was a last minute thing and the only thing I could find that was a light solid color was a plain tan "plastic" one), so last year, and again this year we each wrote one thing we're thankful for on the table cloth (with Sharpies) along with our names and the date. It was pretty cool to see how, last year Little Bit had done a scribble next to her thing (that I wrote, obviously) and this year she clearly printed her own name, without any help! So the girls were excited to see what they wrote last year and write this year's thankful things, it's a fun, easy tradition :) 

And today (black Friday), was another quiet, family day. We cleaned the house, visited with a friend who stopped by, did some cooking, watched some TV, did some packing, read for history, and just enjoyed a quiet day together at home :) As thankful as I am for all the great "field trip" opportunities my kids get, days like today remind me how nice it is to just STAY HOME sometimes too :) 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crew Review: Growing Up Wild

I grew up hearing Missionary Stories, and my kids have enjoyed those same stories. BUT, I have to admit, when I think of "Missionaries" I tend to think of how things were 50+ years ago. So, when we were given the opportunity to review some videos about a MODERN Missionary family, I was thrilled!

Photobucket Growing Up Wild is a series of 5 videos, made by the Wild family, about life as a missionary family in a remote part of Indonesia. We were sent Vol 1 and Vol 4. Each video includes 3 episodes. Each episode is approximately 15 min. long. At the end of each episode there are several suggested activities to go along with that episode. The suggested activities are also available as a .pdf on the included, Activity Guide CD.

The videos are targeted at ages 5-12, but I found them just as fascinating as the kids did. So perhaps, more accurately the ACTIVITIES are for ages 5-12 (though some of them, like thinking about how you would plan for a supply trip, if you could only go to a store a couple times a year, are probably good exercises for all of us!), and the videos are great for the whole family.


We received these videos in a 2 week window between trips, so we chose to watch the videos all the way through and, for the most part, talk about the activities we would do when we revisit them later. When we revisit them, hopefully later this winter, though we've had some curve balls thrown at us recently, so life is abit unsettled at the moment, I plan to have us watch one episode per week, then really dig into the suggestions in the activity guide, and answering any other questions we might come up with. When used in this manner, the price of $18.99 per DVD, or $80.99 for all 5 DVDs, becomes very reasonable! That is 15 weeks of curriculum for under $100!!!

The girls LOVED the videos, we were all fascinated to tour the Wild Family's house, travel with them on a supply run, learn about the culture they live in, etc.In most cases there were one or more of the suggested activities that the girls were excited about as well, which is always a good thing :)

I would have liked to get a better understanding of what the actual "missionary work" this family is doing, entails, but perhaps that is addressed more on one of the other videos. Regardless, these videos are a wonderful, fun way to learn more about missions, culture, and God!

  To see what my fellow crew mates thought of these videos, click here


Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap up Nov 4 (a few days late)

Our travel adventures continued all this past week.

So last Sabbath we drove from Tampa to Orlando. Sunday we spent at Aquatica, the Busch water park. Little Bit happily spent the day in the wading pools while the big girls made sure to ride all the biggest slides, and spent a couple hours in the wave pool.

Monday we went to Disney's Magic Kingdom. We had figured the big girls would spend a little while doing things with Little Bit and then head off to some of the "big kid stuff" but we ended up all spending the day at Magic Kingdom. Little Bit's favorites were Small World, the carousel, and the Jungle Cruise.

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent at Sea World. Little Bit wouldn't pet the sting rays but loved seeing the baby ones. The big girls continue to love petting the sting rays though. Little Bit's favorite show, by far was the dog and cat show. Shamu was so loud and so much just lights and pictures on the screen that she would lose interest and not be watching by the time the orcas DID do something, so she didn't get into it like her sisters did the first year we went (I understand they can't be in the water with them after what happened a couple years ago, but I wish they would skip all the video and loud music and just show us what the Orcas CAN do).

I also had to laugh, Little Bit's favorite part of the shark exhibit wasn't the sharks swimming right over our heads, it was the moving floor that we stood on while going through the shark tank lol.

Thursday we had planned to go to Epcot and Hollywood studios, but all 3 girls and Papa had colds, so we decided not to spend the money on a Disney day when people weren't feeling good. We spent time at the time share play ground, and mini golf, and then went back to Sea World (since our Sesame Place season passes get us into all Busch parks, it's free) and watched some of our favorite shows again.

Friday we finished the week like it began, at Aquatica.

And Sabbath we began our journey home. We stopped at a couple forts along the Florida coast on our way up. Didn't take time to do junior rangers, though at one fort the ranger gave us the books and said we could mail it back and they would send us the badges, but toured the forts and such.

So that was our week, now we are continuing our journey toward home, and back to reality lol. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crew Review: Journeys of Faithfulness

I always get excited when I see Apologia, pop up as a review item, I've loved everything I've reviewed for them! And I got REALLY excited when I saw that this time it was another book by Sarah Clarkson. I've loved everything I've read that her parents have written, AND that she's written. But then I was bummed . . . this one is for girls ages 12+, and my girls are only 9, sigh . . . but I wanna read it! Then I read the information a little bit closer, and it said we could go ahead and apply if we had younger girls, so I did! I read the sample chapter, and looked over the table of contents, and decided that this would work well as a book to read together with Sassy and MiniMe even if they were a couple years below the recommended age. And we got to review it!!! Woo-hoo!!!!

PhotobucketJourneys of Faithfulness is a wonderful devotional for mothers and daughters to enjoy together, or for teen girls to read on their own (or for adult women to read).  Looking over the above mentioned sample chapter and table of contents will give you a really good feel for this book. It has 3 chapters each about four women in the Bible. Each chapter includes a story from the woman's life, a devotional from Sarah, and a Bible Study section related to the story and devotional.

We used this book for our evening Bible time together. For the most part we spent 2 days per chapter. The first day I read the story, the second day I read the devotional and we went through the Bible study together. A few times due to getting a late start or whatever, we split it into 3 days, doing the Bible Study on it's own the 3rd day.

While I think the 12+ age recommendation is certainly accurate for using this book independently, and probably in most cases, even for using together, we had no problems using it with 9 year olds, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed the book and were sad to see it end.  The only real evidence of them being "too young" was a few references, mostly in the devotional thoughts, to things they aren't familiar with yet (Lord of the Rings, and Mr. Darcy, off the top of my head). Since we were reading it together, it was easy enough to provide a brief explanation of whatever didn't make sense, and move on.

I was expecting to enjoy this book with my girls, I knew I enjoy Sarah's writing style, and in general, I love stories that "flesh out" Bible characters/stories, so this book was right up my ally. But I'll admit, I was expecting the devotions/Bible study to be . . . more for the girls than for me. Afterall, this is for girls 12+, I'm WAY past 12! But I was pleasantly surprised. While not being over the girls' heads, certainly not over the head of the target audience of teens. This book spoke to ME in such a real and wonderful way too! God knew what I needed to hear these last few weeks, and brought this book along at just the right time. So, even if you don't have girls the right age, look into this book, look over the chapter, and contents, and consider adding it to your own devotional reading!

One aspect we didn't use, because of using this together, but that I like, is that, in addition to room in the book to write in your answers to the Bible study quetions, at the end of each chapter there are a few "journal pages".  In a few years, I may re-introduce this book to my girls, and get them each their own copy (if they want), so they can go back through it during their personal devotion time and write down their own thoughts.

This book is available for $13. While you're looking on the Apologia site, look around, there are lots of other great books there, you can read about the ones I've reviewed, here.

To see what my fellow crewmates thought of Journeys of Faithfulness, read their reviews, here.


Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Weekly Wrap up Oct 28

(I wrote this on the 28th, but then couldn't get the iPad to connect to the internet so I could get it OFF the iPad to post, so here it is, a few days (or a week) late . . . )

Traveling is fun, but exhausting.

Sunday we celebrated Grandma's 95th birthday.

Monday morning, my parents, the girls, and I began our journey. And by that evening we were in Georgia.  Long day, but the girls continue to be awesome travelers.

Tuesday was a shorter day, driving. And we broke it up by visiting Andersonville national park in the middle. The girls earned their Junior Ranger, and we all got lots of wiggles out walking around the former pow camp. 

Wednesday we took some time to enjoy the pool before heading the rest of the way to Tampa.

Thursday we headed to Busch Gardens. Last time we went the big girls were in a kind of in-between spot where they weren't big enough for most of the roller coasters but were beyond the little kid rides. This year they made up for it. They were the PERFECT height, just a tad under 56". The little kid stuff mostly had a max height of 56", so the girls could ride those with Little Bit. But they were also tall enough for all the roller coasters. And, over the course of 2 days, rode on every roller coaster there lol.

Little Bit's favorite thing was a moon bounce type thing in the Sesame St part.

Thursday the park was empty, it was awesome!

That night Rodney flew down and came with us on Friday. It was busier than Thursday but still not bad.

And finally, before heading out, we visited DeSoto National Park. It is all about the Spanish explorer DeSoto who explored Florida, etc. We were kind of frustrated because they were doing some Halloween thing there that evening and had covered up most of the museum, and some of the outside displays with Halloween stuff. Even if we liked Halloween, I'd have been annoyed. When I go to a historic site I want to see the history! If I want to go to a "haunted house" most towns have several. But such is life. . . Aside from that, the junior ranger was REALLY cool. The books were a beautiful color book, and for one of the activities they gave the kids each a small, working compass (to keep), and the activity was to follow the map and go on the nature walk and record various directions at certain points. The girls loved it.

So that was our busy week. I do have pictures, but I haven't figured out how to add pictures to blog posts from my iPad so I will have to post them later.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crew Review: Grace and Truth Books


You probably know by now, if you've spent any time on my blog anyway, that we LOVE LOVE LOVE books around here. So anytime books come up for review, I get a little giddy, even before I look at the specific books.

This one presented an interesting problem though.  When I looked at the list of books available for review from Grace and Truth Books, there weren't very many that I could even consider, even though they had generously provided a list of TEN choices! Why, you ask? Well, obviously, one reason for the variety is different age ranges, and different genders, so that ruled out a few, but the bigger problem was that so many of the books that were for 9 year old girls already live at our house!! While I didn't recognize the company, I'm obviously already a fan of their books! (I think I've purchased the books through other homeschool sites instead of direct).

PhotobucketSo, that narrowed things down dramatically, and we finally decided on the Collector's Edition: Seven Favorite 19th-Century Children's Stories.

This paperback books is a collection of stories that were published in the 1800s by the American Tract Society. We chose to use this book for our bedtime stories.

We enjoyed these stories on two levels. They are nice stories, teaching nice moral lessons without being too terribly "preachy". But, because they are well over 100 years old, they also provided some interesting "social studies" lessons for us, as we discussed what some of the unfamiliar terms meant and why, for example, it was considered terribly sinful for Herbert to go for a walk instead of going to church (while we attend church regularly, we also love to worship God through nature, so nature walks are a fun part of Sabbath when the weather, and our schedule, cooperates).

Another interesting history lesson woven into these stories was the fact that Sunday School used to actually teach academics! The girls were very confused when a story alluded to that, so we took a few minutes to talk about the history of Sunday Schools :)

The recommended age range for this books is 8-14. I think this is accurate. Because of the stories being so old, I don't think any younger than 8 would understand the big, sometimes archaic, words, or the no longer common in our lives, concepts. But since the stories were originally written for children, much older than 14 would probably find the stories too "young". Of course, *I* loved the stories, but I've always been a collector of classic children's literature, so this is right up my alley!

This book retails for $7.50, which seems very reasonable, AND it's currently on sale for $6.50, even better! 

Before you rush over there and buy this book, be sure to check all the other crew reviews! As I mentioned we had the choice of 10 products to review and I can vouch for the fact that many of them are excellent! But go read all the reviews and then start adding stuff to your cart, it shouldn't be too hard to get to $49 and get free shipping!


Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review: Imagination Station books

When I was a kid, a highlight of our week was getting to listen to Adventures in Odyssey on the radio. Now my children are loving listening to the adventures on CD. So when Tyndale House Publishers gave us the opportunity to review a couple of the Imagination Station books, I figured the girls would loved them too.  And I was right!

We received books 8 & 9.  Book 8 is Battle for Cannibal Island. In this book 2 children take an adventure in the Imagination Station and visit an island inhabited by cannibals. After many harrowing adventures, they make it safely back to Whit's End where Whit tells them that the missionary they met is the well known, James Calvert.

In book 9 Escape to the Hiding Place, the same children go on another Imagination Station adventure, this time finding themselves in Holland during World War II where they help an injured Canadian pilot, and then deliver a Jewish baby to Corrie ten Boon's house, hiding in their hidden room while the gestapo looks for them.

As soon as these books showed up, my girls grabbed them! I think Sassy had the first one finished before it had been in our house a full day.  Both girls enjoyed the books and asked if we could get more of the series. I also found them enjoyable, and like that it's teaching kids, in a fun way, about missionaries.

I think it's important to note, that these books kind of assume you know about the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. Whit, the Imagination Station, etc. are never really "introduced" for anyone who's not familiar with the show, although it occurs to me that they might have been introduced more thoroughly in the earlier books in this series. Overall, these books don't seem to build on each other, so, while they are numbered, it appears that you can choose the books that deal with the topics that interest you.

Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.