Monday, September 18, 2017

The Compassion Experience

Many people have heard of Compassion International and the work it does in finding sponsors for children living in poverty around the worlds. The kids and I were able to attend an immersive exhibit showing exactly what Compassion International does for these children and an example of what type of children they help. 

The Compassion Experience we attended had two children's stories. 
We were given an iPod and earbuds and went on a guided tour through rooms set up just like the places where these children lived.

 This plate of rice was an example dinner for an entire family.

We were led into the almost hopeless stories of these children. One young boy in Kenya was thrown into prison at the age of 9 because he had resorted to stealing food to live. 

Then we heard the difference Compassion International and the children's sponsors made to their lives. Through the Compassion program they were provided food, education, hygiene and most of all, love. 

 The things provided by Compassion International changed the lives of these children and provided them a way out of the darkness they lived in. Their families lives were changed as well. 

My children's eyes were opened to the blessings they have compared to so many in the world. They became aware of the needs of others and their compassion grew - all from this experience! 

The Compassion Experience is a traveling exhibit and there may be an event near you soon! Go HERE to find out more. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Solar Eclipse of 2017

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men 
          Gang aft agley, -Robert Burns

We had big plans for the Solar Eclipse on August 21st. It was going to be our first field trip of the year. We had plans to go to the library where there was going to be a little lesson on the solar eclipse and safe viewing practices, snacks and crafts. They also had a limited supply of safe viewing glasses. Well, I didn't want to run the risk of not getting glasses, so I ordered some of the NASA approved glasses and we headed to the library with plenty of time to spare - I thought it would be wise to be there at least a half an hour early. 

When we arrived at the library, all of Denton County was there, too! In fact, I could not even drive my car through the parking lot of the library and there were definitely no parking spots available. A crowd of people snaked around the perimeter of the building. It was clear that the library was not going to be the best place for us to experience the eclipse, so we turned around and headed back to the comfort of our own back yard. 

By the time we made it back home, the moon was already inching across the sun. We ran out back and viewed it using the glasses I had purchased ahead of time. (I gave myself a pat on the back for good planning.)

As it turns out, our backyard was an awesome place to watch the eclipse! Gabe was especially mesmerized! 

Faith liked seeing the moon shaped shadows the pin hole made on the paper. 

We had about 75% coverage here. It got a little bit darker outside, but not much. We devoted the entire afternoon to the eclipse and I am so glad we did. It was an amazing event! That is one of the joys of homeschooling. We didn't stop learning, we just focused it for a moment on what was happening in our world at that time. We talked about why it happens, when it has happened in the past and when the next one will happen. (In 2024 a lot of Texas will be in 100% totality!) Moments like these make learning fun and so meaningful!! 

 Did you see the eclipse? 

Our First Day of Homeschool 2017-2018

We had a fun and full summer and almost hated for it to end. At the same time, returning to routine is also so sweet! And so we started our 7th home school year on August 9th. 

Sweet little Faith is in Kindergarten this year! Her first real year of school! One of the questions I get asked most frequently when people learn that we home school is what curriculum I use, so here is a list of the curriculum we will use this year for each kid: 

Kindergarten curriculum:
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting level K 
Math: Singapore Math Kindergarten
Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful by Jenny Phillips level K
History: Mystery of History book 3
Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution by Dr. Wile

Mig is in 2nd Grade this year! 

Second Grade Curriculum:
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting level B
Math: Saxon Math 2
Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful level 1
Writing: Just Write book 1
History: Mystery of History book 3
Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution by Dr. Wile
Spanish: Salsa Videos

Selah is in the 5th Grade!

Our 5th Grade Curriculum: 
Handwriting: Journal prompts and Bible Verse copywork
Math: Saxon 6/5 on Virtual Homeschool Group
Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful level 4
Writing: Writing and Rhetoric book 3
History: Mystery of History book 3
Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution by Dr. Wile
Spanish: Excelerate! Spanish 
Logic: The Thinking Toolbox

Gabe is in 7th Grade this year! How can he be so big?!?

Our 7th Grade Curriculum:
Handwriting: Journal prompts and Bible Verse copywork
Math: Saxon 8/7
Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful level 7
Writing: Writing and Rhetoric book 5
History: Mystery of History book 3
Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution by Dr. Wile
Spanish: Excelerate! Spanish 
Logic: The Thinking Toolbox

We made a few curriculum changes this year and so far we are loving them! Selah is doing math online with the Virtual Homeschool Group. This has been a good change for her because she gets immediate feedback on each math problem. It has been good for me because it means one less math lesson for me to teach each day and because it is a free class! We were doing First Language Lessons (which I loved) and then switching to Rod and Staff at 5th grade because First Language Lessons stops at 4th. Rod and Staff is good, but is very dry and repetitive. I found The Good and the Beautiful this spring. It has grammar, geography, art and writing all in one program, but is just as challenging as First Language Lessons and Rod and Staff. It also has the kids from 5th grade and up doing a lot of self-directed learning (they have checklists to complete, but read the lessons and do them on their own). This is so helpful with a room full of different leveled learners. Excelerate! Spanish has been another great addition to our day. It is a program based on TPR (Total Physical Response) so the kids are up an moving and speaking. We do Spanish class almost entirely in Spanish now and the kids are having fun with it! 

We are ready for another year full of learning and having fun doing it together! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Choir Camp 2017

We returned to Texas just in time to do the Denton Bible Church Kids Praise Camp! 

This year Mig was the only one in the musical. Gabe is now too old for Choir Camp. So sad! Selah missed out this year, but will be in next year, I'm sure. 

The kids presented O Me, O My, O Nehemiah! It was adorable!! I am always so impressed that a group of over one hundred first to fifth graders can learn an entire musical in one week! 

Mig auditioned and received a speaking part this year!! He played "Kid 1". 

Here's a shot of the whole choir.

The musical is always proceeded by the "Mini-Camper". They are 3 year olds to kindergarteners. They present a short program with three songs and are always adorable! Faith was part of this group and I direct their camp. It is always my most exhausting, yet enjoyable weeks of the summer. 

And here is the musical! Sit back and enjoy! They did an excellent job!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our final days in Colorado

On Monday, July 10th, we walked around the shops in Woodland Park and did laundry. By Monday the monsoon season had hit full swing! On Tuesday we did some grocery shopping in the morning. In the afternoon we had some friends from Denton who are in the process of moving to Monument, Colorado out to the park for soggy hot dogs and s'mores (because it was so rainy). 

Early Wednesday morning Byron took his truck into the shop. He wasn't there long. The mechanic took one look at his truck and told him that to fix the issue they would have to remove the cab and their shop was not equipped to do that. He told Byron that he will be able to make it down to Texas if he is not pulling anything. So we made the tough decision to leave the next morning without the RV. Our old church was so gracious and let us leave the RV in the parking lot of their office building. 

Since it was our last day in the mountains, we decided to spend it doing something fun. We drove down to Manitou Springs and went on a quest to find all of the mineral springs around the quaint town.

If you ever wondered why Colorado Springs is called Colorado Springs - it is because of the mineral springs in Manitou. Rainwater and melted snow from the mountains soak into the earth and become heated and mineralized. It then flows up into the limestone where it becomes carbonated and then comes out of natural and drilled springs all over the town of Manitou. There are 8 springs in all and each of them taste a little different, so we brought water bottles and made it our mission to sample them all! 

The Shoshone Spring:

The Navajo Spring:

The Cheyenne Spring:

Stratton Spring:

Twin Spring:

7 Minute Spring:

Wheeler Spring:

Somehow I didn't get a picture of the Iron Spring Geyser, 

Iron Geyser:

Stratton Spring Spring

When we were done, Mig asked me why I didn't tell him that they would all be gross! Ha!! I didn't think they were all gross, but there were definitely some that none of us liked.

We really had a fun trip from Texas to Missouri, to Colorado and back. It was longer than we expected and there were truck troubles and thunderstorms mixed in, but we made some lasting memories and had such great family moments!! 

Just so I don't leave you hanging on the condition of the truck - we made it back to Texas safely late on Thursday night (July 13). Byron took the truck into a diesel mechanic here in Texas that used to work in a Ford dealership. He did NOT have to take the cab off and was able to do all the necessary repairs. The truck is now ready to head back up to Colorado and retrieve the RV and should make it back home safely. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Woodland Park Friends and Rock Climbing

 We were able to spend our Saturday in Colorado with friends. We met a bunch of friends at the park for a play date. The girls were so excited to meet baby Maisie! I think she liked all of the attention, too!

The park has been recently renovated and is just gorgeous! The view of Pikes Peak is amazing!

Monsoon season in Colorado was just starting so when the afternoon storms started, we headed to McDonald's for lunch and to let the kids continue playing. That afternoon were able to meet an old friend at the yogurt shop, too!

We were scheduled to leave early Sunday morning, but the truck was having issues. The diesel mechanics in the area were not going to be able to get to the truck until the following Wednesday morning, so we were able to sneak in a few more days in the mountains. We were able to visit the church we attended and saw more old friends. A Pearl Harbor survivor spoke at the service and it was so neat to hear his story and how his faith grew through the whole ordeal. 

That afternoon we went rock climbing in the Garden of the Gods with the Tabor Family. 

The Tabor Family were our neighbors in Woodland Park for a little while and became sweet friends! 

They live very close to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs now and really love rock climbing. Gabe was so excited to climb real rocks and Chad was such a patient and calm teacher!

Gabe said that rock climbing was his favorite part of the whole trip. 

Mig went up next. I was surprised that he wanted to go at all after he got so scared on Pikes Peak. 

He went a little way up and then was ready to head down. 

He did find a small rock to climb with out a harness and wanted me to make it look like he had gone to the top of the big rock, though. 

Selah climbed in a skirt (with shorts underneath) in pure Selah style. Strong, but still so feminine. She climbed with instinct and moved pretty quickly up the rock. 

She nearly made it to the top, but was exhausted! So she headed back down. 

We then had a lovely dinner at the Tabor's house and so enjoyed spending time with them. We weren't planning on being in Colorado on Sunday, but it turned out to be such a blessing to be able to see friends we wouldn't have seen had the truck been in good enough shape to head home.