Sunday, January 31, 2010

My First Curriculum Choice Review

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog
I'm so excited! Today I have a review up at Curriculum Choice! I reviewed a product that we use and love in our homeschool, Vocabulary Cartoons, SAT Word Power! I hope you stop over and take a look.

While you're there, why not leave me a comment and tell me what you think?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekly-Wrap Up: A Bit of Encouragement

If you’ve homeschooled any length of time you know that some weeks are incredible and some weeks it seems like you’re just trying to hold it all together. I think God gives us those awesome weeks to help us get through the lousy ones.

This week wasn’t great as far as academics go, but it was one of those weeks when I was able to get a glimpse at the fruit of our efforts.

Monday and Tuesday were really whacked. My husband was surprised with a couple days off work- surprised because his truck decided not to start on Sunday and despite his best efforts, it just wasn’t going to budge. For a contractor, NO TRUCK=NO WORK. I don’t know how things in your home work, but when daddy is home, we don’t really get a whole heck of a lot of school work done. Of course that’s better than it had been since the kids are older and don’t need me like when they were younger. They completed all of their individual assignments, completed their Connect the Thoughts courses, finished their math up and did all their individual reading.

Though my husband was off work, we didn’t see him much because he was working on his truck. He did take a break and join us for our Bible reading and devotions and that was a special treat. We're still reading Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Schultz and I just can't recommend that book enough! Don't let the name fool you, I've found it just as beneficial for myself as for the boys.

We all discovered that campers are some of the most amazing people! I’m grateful for the people that the Lord has placed around us. They were extremely helpful to my husband, ran him to the parts store on numerous occasions, just to get a part that didn’t work, took him to Walmart and asked a mechanic friend to come over and take a peek at his truck. Something above and beyond what we’d have ever asked them to do. By Wednesday, his truck was fixed and the kids and I were itching to get out of the camper. We could not have chosen a better day, it was beautiful.

My husband dropped us off at the nearby art museum and the kids and I explored before heading outside to the park and then meeting up with some homeschool friends for a tour of the local Hardware Store.

While the kids were eating all their retro candy they bought on the field trip, I decided it would be a good time to watch one of the documentaries that I’d selected for school called Food, Inc. We were still watching it when my husband got home. Have you seen it? If not, you may want to take a peek. It certainly reinforced our desire to one day settle down on our own land and try to live a bit more self sufficiently! I don’t care where we are this summer, I’m going to grow as much of my own produce in buckets as we can realistically transport!

Anyways, I mentioned seeing the fruits of my labor right? Do you ever wonder how much your kids are really learning? Surely I am not the only mama out there that occasionally wonders…well at the art museum I was impressed by how much detail they noticed, commenting when some of the paintings reminded them of The Christmas Carol while another reminded them of Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. I was glad they noticed!

We’ve also struggled in math so I backed the kids up because I think it’s so important that they are solid on the basic steps. It wasn’t an easy decision because I was really ready for my oldest to begin algebra; instead we went all the way back to fractions and decimals. Today both boys were commenting how they finally really understand. For five minutes they had this awesome conversation between the two of them as they challenged each other with problems and then checked their answers. They got it! I’m so encouraged!

How about you, has there been an area in your homeschool that you are beginning to see improvements in?


Don't forget to stop by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for some more Weekly Wrap-Ups! Until next week...Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Field Trip Friday: A Day at the Art Museum

It's Field Trip Friday, a chance for you to get involved and tell everyone in the blogosphere about an exciting field trip you went on this week or one of your all time favorite field trips! Of course, if you already posted a fun field trip on your blog you're welcome to link that too while we're getting started.

I don't really have rules, just a reminder that this is a family friendly site so if you have the absolute worst field trip you could ever imagine, you're welcome to vent, just refrain from profanity if you're going to link up. Nudity is a no-no but I don't think I really need to mention that, but I will just for good measure. Feel free to snag my button, but if you do, please link it to my blog and finally, if you could spread the word about Field Trip Friday, I'd be so grateful! Now, on to the fun! Where did you go this week and what did you learn?

I'll get things started.

You may remember that my vehicle broke down when we went to Ohio for Christmas. We couldn't wait for the repairs to be completed so we rented a car and drove back to our camper. The thought was that I would rent a car whenever I really wanted to go somewhere, but that seems to be a bit of a hassle and my husband has discovered that it saves us money if I don't have wheels. So, as frugal as I try to be, that gas money I spend each week adds up! Needless to say, we haven't had many field trips since Christmas but this week we were really itching to get out of the camper and the fact that I planned to introduce Field Trip Friday was certainly a motivator to get out and explore! My husband graciously offered to drop the kids and I off in nearby Huntsville so we could spend the day exploring downtown.

Our first stop and one I will talk about today was the Huntsville Museum of Art. Now I have to admit that I've heard mixed reviews about this museum and the negative reviews really kept us from checking it out sooner. I have heard that it was small and not much to see and for the most part, it isn't huge, though they are adding on to it, you could easily go through it in less than an hour if you're just doing a quick walk through. I guess it all depends on how fond you are of the current display, and how much you appreciate art.

We really enjoyed the exhibit currently on display: Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection. This collection from the Royal Holloway, University of London, includes 60 canvases depicting images from the life and times of Victorian England life. This is the first time that many of the paintings in this collection have been outside of England. They were gathered by Thomas Holloway, a self-made millionaire who made his fortune by developing his own line of patent medicine, and donated to the college.

Walking through the gallery, The Princes in the Tower by Sir John Everett Millais, reminded us of Shakespeare and the mystery surrounding Richard III. Did he really murder or have his nephews in the tower murdered? The painter did a wonderful job of capturing the terror and emotion in the faces of the young lads. Seeing this painting, I was reminded of a book that I have tucked away called The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. We were encouraged to pick it up and read it...possibly as a read aloud.


With the exception of one painting, we really enjoyed the exhibit. One piece that really struck all of us as a creepy, out of place and just plain odd choice to include in the collection, Man Proposes, God Disposes by Sir Edwin Landseer shows two polar bears present at the site of ship wreckage, ripping and tearing into the remains of the ship.

We found it unpleasantly placed across from one of our favorite paintings by Briton Riviere titled Sympathy. An oil painting of a sweet little girl sitting alone at the top of a flight of stairs with her beloved puppy resting his head upon her shoulder. Quite a contrast compared to the polar bears, isn't it?

With the exception of one large painting called The Babylonian Marraige Market that showed a couple women with bare chests, all of the paintings were appropriate for any audience.

The Royal Holloway exhibit is scheduled to appear in Norfolk,Virginia, Quebec, Canada and Palm Springs, Florida. If you live near one of these cities, you may want to view the schedule and have your own Day at the Art Museum. We enjoyed our outing so much that I bought an annual membership- and since they were having a special, I got a 15 month membership with access to over 40 other art museums in the Southeast, all for less than the cost of two visits for my family. Can't beat that!

Your turn! Tell us all about the field trip you went on this week or your favorite all time field trip. Just add your link to McKLinky below and don't forget to spread the word and stop back next week for some more field trip fun! Till then, Happy Field Trippin'!

The art pictures from this post are from the website of ASI Exhibition.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Easy RV Decorating

I love to decorate. That's probably one of the things I really miss about having a house. I no longer have a place to display all the fun decorations that I see when I'm out shopping. I can't complain, if I don't have anywhere to display it, I don't need to buy it which means, it saves my husband money. He won't complain about that. Really. Ask him.

But he does complain about something, the fact that our house looked, well... homey.I spent a great deal of time selecting color for the walls and trim, dragging him to furniture stores until I found just what I was looking for and choosing each item that would grace my walls, coffee table, wicker stands and mantle carefully. Think shabby chic, white accents and flowers...everywhere. I proudly displayed pictures with scripture and symbols of my Christian faith. And I had photographs of our travels and favorite family moments all over the place. That's what my husband misses. He misses the fact that our new home, doesn't resemble our old home.

I am trying to decorate. If you've been reading this for awhile, you may have even seen some of my Motor Home Makeover posts, which I will have more of. I promise. Just as soon as I catch up on all this sewing.

So, it is coming along, but when it comes to wall space, I am really picky. I don't have a lot of it so I really want to maximize what I do have and I've not been able to find EXACTLY what I have in mind, so I've done without. Yeah, I'm funny like that, but I think I've found a temporary solution that is actually growing on me. It's lightweight, cheap, functional, personalized and glass-free, a plus when traversing over rough terrain.

While shopping at a thrift store, I found a brand new ribbon/memory board for two bucks. As soon as I saw it I knew that it would be perfect for displaying some of the travel memorabilia that is currently stored out of sight in our memoir box. So I began filling the board with ticket stubs, brochures, postcards, and patches from some of my families all-time favorite destinations.

I can switch these out whenever I want to and add to it in seconds but the biggest perk for all, is on the days that we wonder why we are doing this, when we haven't seen anything neat for awhile, when it's rained for two weeks straight and we've not been out of the camper, when we're really getting on each others' nerves, this simple decoration serves as a reminder of all the wonderful memories that we've experienced as a family on the road. And for a little while, everything is better.

How do you display the things you love?

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow and link up for my first ever Field Trip Friday! I'm so excited to show you the field trip we went on today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This Week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling


I have read the Carnival of Homeschooling off and on for a couple years, but never participated until now.

This weeks edition of the Carnival, for those Considering Homeschooling is up and ready at Corn and Oil.

I hope you can take a minute to read through the post and discover some great new blogs!

Also, you may be interested to know that this is a weekly event and you are welcome to participate! Interested? Be sure to stop by Corn and Oil to find out more information!

Happy Homeschooling!

Reciprocal Memberships: Are they Really Worth It?

Next time you visit your local science museum or zoo be sure to ask about their annual pass rates. As my children have grown and we now pay the adult rate for their admission, it has often become more economical if we purchase a season pass; which normally pays for itself by the second visit. And...if your local science museum is in the ASTC passport program, as a bonus, you'll be able to receive free general admission at over 300 science centers worldwide.

If you do a bit of research before you buy, you may find a science museum that offers reciprocal benefits in both the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Zoological Association (AZA) such as Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio. They offer family memberships that include two adults and up to six children 21 and under beginning at the current rate of $85 (updated 2/23/2012). If you choose to purchase an Adventurer Membership for $100, you will also receive reciprocal benefits to the Association of Children's Museums (ACM).

But, the question is, are the reciprocal memberships really worth it? Well, you tell me. Since last March, we've visited the newly opened, Tellus Science Museum north of Atlanta in Cartersville, Georgia, the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama not once, but twice, the Great Lakes Science Center and the
Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio, the Adventure Science Museum in Nasville, Tennessee, the Southern Museum of Flight and the Birmingham Zoo in you guessed it, Birmingham, Alabama. Bringing our grand total of savings at $484.75 plus tax.

So, what do you think? Is a savings of almost $500 worth it? I certainly think so! And if you're thinking that it's only beneficial for us as a traveling family, would you be surprised to know that we used our memberships much more when we were at home, visiting our local science museums and zoo?

So, whether you are a traveling family, a large family looking for savings, a parent of older children or you're just interested in inexpensive family fun, reciprocal memberships may be just the way to go.

**** Before purchasing your membership, look over the above websites so you can see if the reciprocal benefits will be a good fit for your family. Many of the museums offer limits on the number of children permitted, so large families may not be able to gain free admission to all attractions, and there may also be geographical limitations, but reciprocal memberships should still reduce admission fees.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Coming Soon!

What do you think of my meme button? Isn't it cute? Once again I contacted Louise at Adori Graphics to hook me up and I'm just as pleased as can be.

And now I'm really excited about an upcoming addition to my blog and I really, really hope you can join in and spread the word. Okay, here goes...

Anyone interested in a bit of fun? Coming this Friday I'll be posting about a fun field trip that we've ventured on. We actually have one coming up later in the week, so more than likely I'll tell you all about it on Friday and post some fun pictures for you, but if that cancels I may share an older excursion.

I'd love to get a meme started and have others join in with me so won't you PLEASE consider stopping by sometime on Friday and linking up to spread some field trip fun?

You don't have to go on a field trip this week to participate. It can be a past event and it doesn't have to take place with a bunch of people. Some of our favorite field trips take place when it's just me, my husband and the kids. So link up and share!Or, you can also share any tips you have for field trippin' or how field trips have been beneficial in your family, and if you want to share pictures that's great. In fact you could make it simple and just add a picture with a short caption. I'd be so grateful.

So, what do you think, have you been on a field trip that you can share about? Can I count you in?

Till Friday...Happy Field Trippin'!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up #2

Wow, have we had an exciting week! I know Monday was a holiday, but we didn’t take the day off. Instead we spent the day reminiscing about our trip last year to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia. I have to admit that trip was an eye opener for me.

Born several years after the climax of the Civil Rights movement and born and raised in the North, I don’t remember really learning much about this turbulent and disgraceful time in American history. And against my better judgment I will admit that I had always pegged Martin Luther King, Jr. in the same category as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Was I ever wrong- I learned just how so when my daughter and I visited this National Historic Site dedicated to the great man that Martin Luther King, Jr. was. A man who strove peacefully for equality and dedicated his life to what he so rightly believed in, “that all men are created equal.”

After our trip to Atlanta we did a full blown study on this tumultuous time and spoke at length with my grandmother and my dad to hear firsthand accounts. My dad made a statement that I think rings true, if Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have been assassinated, he would have changed things. Sadly, that was not to be. On Monday, my children and I watched a YouTube clip of his famous speech “I Have a Dream.” My children commented on what a charismatic and well spoken man he was, if you haven’t already done so, you can watch it for yourself:



Taking the holiday as a chance to dive back into the Civil Rights era, we began reading The Watsons go to Birmingham, especially since we are planning an upcoming trip to the city in the next month or two. We haven’t finished this yet, but this book is certainly one that will keep your attention. The very first chapter had us laughing so hard that tears were running down my cheeks! There are many online sources if you’re ever interested in reading this and developing it into a full-blown unit study, but we haven’t completed and additional activities yet. We’ll probably begin working on some notebooking pages and completing a couple activities that I found in the websites below when we really get into the more historical aspects of the book. I’m not sure what the age range is for the activities I ran across, but I wouldn’t think you’d really want to read the book with kids much younger than the 6th grade, the reading level it’s written at. Because of the content of the book, I wouldn’t rush to place it in the hands of a younger child and though my kids are older, we have paused a few times to discuss the book as we go through it. Before you hand it over to your child, you should know there are a few swear words as well.

You'll find teaching guides from Random House ideas listed under the Teacher heading here.

This website is basically a public school unit study, but the ideas can easily be adapted for homeschools.

This pdf study guide seems to be for younger children, but could probably be adapted for older children as well.

I also found some great ideas here that I will incorporate now and with other books that we read, especially the biopoem.

Well this is turning into a much longer post than I’d anticipated so let me just add that my son spent the afternoon talking to the campground manager hearing all about his tour in Vietnam- I count that as history, and who better to hear it from?

My oldest is still reading the history encyclopedia and my daughter began an online newsletter writing class that she is thrilled about. She has spent the remainder of week completing her assignments.

Oh, and did I mention that we had some other excitement? Last night we had a tornado touchdown nearby. I don’t know about you, but a motor home is not the most desirous place to be in adverse weather. We spent the morning reading the local news channels online and watching YouTube videos of the very same storm, just from different areas and angles.

Wanna see what other homeschooling families are up to? Just click on the button at the top of the post to read more Weekly Wrap-ups.

Until next week….Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Scariest Thing I Heard Today

There is one thing that terrifies me about living in a motor home...one word will strike fear in me like no other...
TORNADO!

And today, we heard it. We had just finished a dinner when we heard the sirens alerting us to potential danger, followed by the campground security pulling in front of our campsite blaring his horn with instructions for us to seek shelter in a more stable structure. For a moment I was nearly immobile with panic. I managed to encourage the kids to put on their shoes in case we needed to make a hasty exit without totally freaking them out. And though I was ready to run for the shower stalls, my husband had a different plan of action in mind.

At this point the storm that had been raging outside had calmed to an eerie stillness. Though the sky had a few dark clouds, it was mainly clear except for one massive cloud off in the distance that was producing an occasional lightening strike. So my husband wanted to remain outside and take a walk, just to keep an eye on things.

Our closest neighbor stepped out of his camper and told us that the tornado had touched down just Southeast of us, only minutes away from our campground. And that cloud we had our eye on? More than likely it was the one that had produced the twister. Though the storm did quite a bit of damage and there are families without electric, there were no serious injuries.

So, as always I have a question for you...when you hear tornado sirens do you heed their warning...or do you ignore them?

Strike it Rich: Gold Prospecting in the USA

Do you know that gold has been found in all 50 states? My husband is convinced that he is going to find some. Not just a little bit, but enough to really STRIKE it RICH, well actually, he'd only like to find a little bit. The emphasis is mine, but I say, if we can find a little bit of gold, why can't we find a lot? I blame our trip to Dahlonega, Georgia last year for putting that thought in his head. Our excursion to the site of the early nineteenth century gold rush was so enjoyable and relaxing that my husband decided that he could live each and every day content as a professional gold prospector.

So, for his birthday yesterday, I decided that I'd feed his obsession by purchasing a gold panning kit to get him started.

Commercial Break: If you are thinking about getting into the gold hunting business, I'd highly suggest Metal Detectors for Less where I bought a Garrett Deluxe Gold Panning Kit and a few extra videos and books. I was very impressed with the fast service that I received, I ordered on a Saturday and UPS dropped it off today (Wednesday) even though Monday was a holiday! That's what I call some fast shipping! By the way, I am not affiliated with their company at all, I just happen to be a happy customer.

Now back to my story...

My husband has spent the day planning his maiden treasure hunting excursion and as far as he's concerned, it couldn't come soon enough. However, even though gold has been found in trace amounts in all states, in many cases, it is so minute that more than likely you won't find any of this precious metal; especially if you are a novice. That's not going to keep him, well us, from looking but we could use a bit of advice. Anyone want to offer some? We'd love to know where to begin and any practical tips that you have.

So, now that you know what we'll be doing every weekend from now on, what do you do to relax?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Family Movie Night: A Christmas Carol

After touring Disney’s Official Christmas Carol Train in Atlanta last October, we couldn’t wait for the movie to come out. Though it came out in November, we’d planned to watch it in Ohio when we visited for Christmas. We were all disappointed to discover that although it was playing in Alabama, it wasn’t playing up North. Once we got back to our camper and Christmas was over we didn’t really think about it and decided since we’d missed it, we’d wait for the release of the DVD. And then, today while browsing through the Sunday paper I was surprised to see an ad for a local theater that has movies for $1 on the weekend! And guess what was playing? The Christmas Carol! Well it didn’t take much to convince us to go. So we loaded up and off we went. Excited as can be.


As thrilled as we were, our enthusiasm was short lived. Though the preview of the movie we’d seen in Atlanta was incredible, I had a hard time getting into the movie and spent the first part of the movie waiting to get into it and the second part of the movie waiting for it to end. I know this sounds really bad and I don’t know if we just really blew this up in our mind to be something better than it was or if the movie really wasn’t that good. I’m still trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad and think that I may watch it again to see if I feel the same.

I’m not sure if the theater had issues or if it was indeed the movie, but I had a really hard time understanding what the characters were saying. I thought this problem was unique to me, but when we discussed the movie on the ride home, we all agreed that it was a good thing the book was fresh in our mind or we wouldn’t have known what was going on. We think the problem was that the background music was so loud and the characters were to soft spoken and were sometimes drowned out.

My husband also complained that the screen moved a bit too much because it hurt his eyes on occasion.

There was a family that left towards the beginning of the movie but I assumed that was because their kids were all pretty young and some of the scenes were pretty intense and a bit scary. But then, if you’ve read The Christmas Carol you may suspect that parts of the movie may be a bit suspenseful.

On the positive side, the animation is incredible. The attention to detail is evident throughout the entire movie and I did find myself marveling at all the technology that is available nowadays. When we were in Atlanta we were able to see all the work firsthand that went into the production. Disney certainly spared no expense. I wish I could show you the pictures I took on that trip, but my memory card reformatted itself. If you don’t know what that means, it means they were deleted! I do have the beautiful morph pictures you've seen throughout this post as a reminder of our day. And I think they are lovely, if I may say so myself.

Now I have a question for you. Did you watch this movie? If so, please share your opinion and let me know if you think a second viewing would be more agreeable.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trip Planning: Don't Overlook Local Attractions

I originally published this on my original blog but felt it was worth mentioning again.

If you are anything like me, sometimes when you think of travel, the attractions close to your home are the ones that are farthest from your mind. It sounds so much more adventurous to travel around the country, visiting whatever you stumble upon. And though that is incredible when you can do that, I want to encourage you not to forget about that wonderful park 15 minutes from your home, the unique carousel downtown or the historic mansion and gardens across town.

I couldn't believe it when we were staying in Virginia Beach and the clerk at the library told me that she'd only been to the ocean once, and she had lived there her entire life! To her, the ocean just wasn't a big deal and wasn't worth fighting the crowds for. I can understand not wanting to deal with the crowds, but there is a such thing as an off season! And yet I was speechless when the same clerk was fascinated when I told her that we were from Ohio and she remarked how fortunate we were to live by one of the Great Lakes. She'd visited family in Cleveland and just LOVED Lake Erie and couldn't wait to return! You see, sometimes we think something is better if we have to travel a huge distance to get there, or if we have to pay more to see it and we aren't appreciative of what's close by.

My 4th grade teacher once expressed regret that she'd never visited the Smucker's Jelly Plant and she grew up right down the road. She always thought since it was close by, she could visit anytime and yet she never did. I know this to be true in my own life. There are still many sites in Ohio that I'd love to go to and yes, regrettably, one of those is in the town I grew up in.

So, when you're planning a weekend getaway or a quick vacation, why not make a list of what's nearby and visit some of the local attractions? You may be surprised by what you find! ~ Happy Traveling!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Just What Can this Copier-Scanner-Printer do Anyway?

When we packed up and moved into our camper our printer did not make the cut. My thought was that we really didn’t have the room and how much did I really need to print anyway? Well, you do know what happens when you don’t have something,right? It isn’t long before you realize just how much you NEED what you don’t have.

And to really prove my point, I visited the FedEx/Kinkos store for the first time. I paid a small fortune to print items off the computer and left with a handful of copies, spending just over forty bucks. I was appalled. I just about could've bought a printer for that.

So I did. But not just a printer. I found a deal. Printer. Copier. Scanner. All for fewer than fifty bucks and it came with ink. Both Black and Color cartridges. Now that's a deal. Since I bought it online, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my new toy. And that’s what it’s been. A toy. I’ve had fun scanning pictures from our homeschool portfolios, making copies of the notebooking pages I created for the kids and printing e-books because I can’t stand to read them online. Yep. I’m taking my new toy seriously. In the midst of my seriousness...

…my son decided to ask me a question. I’m almost afraid to type this...deep breath...here goes...

"What would happen if I sat on the scanner? Would it really make a picture of my butt?"

Really? Is he serious? Oh my… the workings of the male teenage mind…

Oh, I shrugged it off and chuckled because it was funny. I told him I better never see butt smudges on my scanner and didn’t really think much more of it.Until today.

I used the scanner to scan a document so I could email it and I heard this question…

"Hey, would this really make a picture of my butt?"

Are you kidding me? This time it was not out of the mouth of my children, but out of the mouth of my husband! Ugghhh…the workings of a thirty-something male mind… who by the way proudly proclaims…Great minds think alike!

So, once again...is this just a guy thing?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My 1st Ever Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Since this is my first Weekly Wrap Up post, and I haven’t posted a whole lot on how we homeschool, I thought I’d give you a basic run down of exactly what we do and how it works with our current mobile lifestyle.

First, you should know that I’m really laid back when it comes to homeschooling. I guess part of that reason is because I feel that my children should own their education. In other words, they have to be serious. They should have the desire to learn. They should take responsibility for learning. I look at my job more as giving them the skills that they need so they are able to teach themselves successfully.

As my children get older, I relax more. I worried when they were younger that they’d never want to learn. I was afraid to trust the books that said to back off and allow them to learn naturally. I didn’t want three kids that slept in until noon and watched cartoons every day. The amazing thing now is the more I back off, the more they want to learn and the more they do learn.

When we are really on the road, we don't do a lot of book work. We spend most of our time exploring our surroundings and visiting local attractions. Since we are basically sitting still at the moment, we are more focused on getting things done inside.

Getting back on track since our break has been a bit of a challenge. Though this is now the 4th year that we’ve been traveling, it is the first winter that we have spent in our motor home and there have been a few challenges that have arisen. If you’re really interested you can read about those here: A Sewer Story, Rescue Me.

Monday we were thankful to have a friend come visit. Since I tend to be quite the perfectionist, we spent the morning trying to clean the motor home and look like it’s not lived in. About the only thing I succeeded in was to make everyone a nervous wreck until our friends arrived and then all was forgotten.

Tuesday rolled around with warmer weather, and we couldn’t wait to head outside and take a walk. We were amazed at all the birds that we saw in the campground. We spotted a woodpecker, which we marveled at and later learned it was a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. We’ve spotted him every day since, hanging around an oak tree near our camper. He even woke us up a few mornings.

As far as book work goes, the kids each have their own daily assignments that they are required to work on. This includes courses that Connect the Thoughts offers, math (Life of Fred and Math Tutor DVD’s), literature- they chose from a pile of books that I’ve selected for them and their own personal Bible reading. I also require that they write in their journals each day. In addition to their own assignments, we also have what the kids affectionately call ‘Story time’, when I read to them. Even though my kids are older, I’ve never stopped reading to them and it’s something that we all continue to enjoy. We read devotion, a passage of scripture and then take time to prayer together. Following this I also read a chapter from a devotion type book which we discuss. Right now we are reading Created for Work by Bob Schultz. Though it is written to boys and men, I feel that my daughter and I can still glean from it. We are also reading a book about the faith of C.S. Lewis, Inspiring Men of the Faith, that we find pretty interesting. For fun we all learn a new vocabulary word from Vocabulary Cartoons.

By Thursday the weather was wonderful, so we went to a nearby hiking trail to enjoy a few hours in the fresh air and sun with our friends.

Right now my 13-year old daughter is on the computer teaching herself French. She also began teaching herself how to play the guitar this week using an online study. My 14-year old son is spending the day putting math into action- fractions, geometry and algebra- while working with his dad on a job. Finally, my 16-year old is in a nearby field watching the wildlife, so far he’s seen numerous birds and a deer, while reading a history encyclopedia. This week has been a wonderful encouragement to me. I am so thankful to have children that once again love to learn. If you're curious about what school looked like in other homes, stop by the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

You can make a Difference



If you've watched the news, turned on the computer or listened to the radio in your car this past week, no doubt you've heard about the devastating earthquake that has crippled Haiti. Like many, you may be wondering how you can help, but simply don't know what charity to give to. I'd like to suggest Compassion International. Right now any money that you can give will provide critical relief for those who so desperately need it. To give you can click on the banner at the top of this post. If you'd like to learn more about the developments in Haiti you can read updates at the Compassion International Blog.

Rescue Me

Full-timing. In the winter? What were we thinking? I spent last week asking myself that on a couple occasions and almost asked my husband if we should check into temporary housing. One week of freezing temperatures and no water was all it took. Boy, am I a wimp.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if my vehicle was here, but we are stuck. Well, not really because I could drive the camper if I really wanted to. But that just seems like too much work for me right now. Unhooking everything and hooking back up and leveling up. No, I’d have to be pretty desperate to drive away. I wouldn’t do it just to make a Walmart run. Not to mention that I’ve never driven it. Not that I wouldn’t. I just haven’t. Yet.

But I’m getting off track. I really didn’t want to boo hoo about how terrible it is to be stuck in the cold. I just wanted to whine a bit because we’ve been cooped up and getting on one another’s nerves. Well, that is the kids are getting on my nerves. As much as I love them. And I do. And before you judge me for being a terrible mother, in my defense let me just say that I’d rather be with my family than anywhere. Most days. But in all fairness, they are sick of me too. And I’m okay with that. Believe it or not, I am not perfect. There. I said it. Now you know. As if you couldn’t have guessed for yourself, huh? You do know I'm joking, right?

Back on track. Other than going on two brief walks in the freezing cold, we hadn’t been out together. And we were ready to go…anyway…so when the temperatures rose and our friends suggested that they pick us up and take us for a hike, we couldn’t resist.

It’s unbelievable how spending a couple hours in the fresh, WARM, air hiking with friends makes everything better.

I also forgot to mention that I posted an article at The Homeschool Classroom this week, My Top Ten List of Homeschooling Books. Why not stop by and tell me what you think? What is your favorite homeschooling book?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Consequences of Travel

This week I've been looking at some of our homeschool portfolios from several years ago. Since travel has always played such a huge part in our educational philosophy, it's only natural that I'd have included quite a few photos of our adventures. Seeing the pictures have caused us all to do a bit of reminiscing and of course, we want to go back to every place we've visited, with few exceptions! I guess that's one of the consequences of traveling to fun places. You always want to go back, but there is so much more of the US to see!

Here are a few of our past highlights:

Washington D.C.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland (or Virginia)

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Epcot, World Showcase

St. Augustine, Florida

Sanibel Island


How about you, what is your favorite travel destination?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Navigation Made Easy

If you are a regular reader, you may notice a feature that is new to my blog and something I'm really excited about! Can you guess what it is? Hint- it’s located above this post. Have you figured it out yet? Okay, I'll give you one more hint...it's blue with words written in white. Yay! That’s right, you got it! It’s my brand new menu bar!

From now on if you stop by just to read my posts about homeschooling, you’ll be able to click on Homeschooling Adventures and all my posts in that category will pop up, you won’t have to wade through everything. If you want to read about our Motor Home Adventures, you’ll just have to look under Everyday Life since well, that is our life after all. I’m also excited to have a spot just for all the fun places we’ve been- you'll find these under Destinations. And starting next week I’ll have a regular feature, Tonya’s Travel Tips that will be posted every Tuesday under, you guessed it, Travel Tips. Have no fear, if you forget to stop by on Tuesday, you can find my tips easily. Finally, want to read the neat interviews that I post with roadschooled teens? Check under Featured Friends- I’ll be adding more to this category soon. And, to make it a bit easier, if you do happen to click on the menu bar and want to get back to the new stuff, just go Home.

Now, back to the menu bar-doesn’t it look great? As always, I can thank my wonderful blog designer, Louise from Adori Graphics for doing such a great job. Actually, she isn’t just ‘my blog designer’, I do have to share so if any of you are looking to spruce up your blog, twitter or Etsy pages, why not stop by Adori Graphics and have a look at all the great things she can do?

Now, it's your turn, what do you think is the best feature you’ve ever added to your blog?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Statue of Liberty: Extending our Travels into our Classroom

In case you haven't noticed, this week I've kind of been at a loss of what to write. Or I was until I began looking through some of our past homeschool portfolios last night and discovered all the fun things we've learned over the years as a result of our travels. But some of you may be wondering how we mix the two; education and travel. So for those who aren't quite sure how this lifestyle works, I decided to share how travel influences what we learn here in our home.

Taken from my homeschool portfolio: In October of 2004, we decided to take a long weekend and venture to New York Harbor to take a peak at The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had prepared for our trip by reading books and watching movies about both places, coloring pictures of the Statue of Liberty and completing much of the Jr. Ranger books for both The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (which we forgot to take on our trip). In my research, I'd discovered that it would be best to leave from New Jersey vs. New York since we weren't there to see the city but just these attractions before moving on to Pennsylvania. My research paid off, there were no lines for this ferry and we were able to purchase our tickets and board the ferry quickly. The only thing I didn't pay attention to was the weather for New York and arriving we realized that it was much colder than we had expected it to be. We dug through the vehicle and put on all the extra clothes we could because we knew we would freeze on the ferry.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor was breathtaking. Our trip was wonderful from the ferry ride (even though it was cold) to the top of the pedestal that the statue stands on. Our tour started with a Ranger led discussion with the old torch, a trip into the museum which is in the pedestal of the statue and an elevator ride to the top of the pedestal where we had a beautiful view of Ellis Island and Manhattan. We could also see the Brooklyn Bridge from this point. We tried to visualize where the World Trade Center would have been in the skyline; saddened that we hadn't visited before.


My daughter was especially enamored with our experience and before we left to visit Ellis Island decided that she was going to focus on the statue for her Education Expo project in the spring. The Education Expo is an event that our local support group offered to its members each year. The kids were invited to select a topic that they wanted to know more about and they would prepare a presentation board and a short report that they would give as a speech for a small group of judges.

Though there were judges, they were basically there just to ask questions and to offer constructive criticism. All children that participated received a certificate and a ribbon as this was basically for them to practice their public speaking skills in a non-threatening environment. Anyway, Chelsea began to collect material for her presentation for us to work on at home. Chelsea worked really hard on her display and made an adorable scrapbook and dressed up as Miss Liberty. Had we not gone to the Statue of Liberty, my daughter surely would have found something else to talk about, but since we had been there, she was extra excited to share her knowledge with everyone else. And, since it was something SHE had chosen, she still remembers much of what she learned.

Want your children to truly remember something? Capitalize on their interests. I'll share more later...until then...Happy Homeschooling!

Do you encourage your children to learn about their interests as part of your homeschooling lifestyle?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Creation Museum:1/2 Off for Homeschoolers


Well fellow homeschoolers, have I got a deal to tell you about! The Creation Museum near Cincinnati is offering a winter deal that's hard to beat. During the months of January and February each Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday admission is reduced for adults to $10, students to $7 and planetarium tickets $4. That's an incredible savings- more than 1/2 off for adults and nearly that for students! If you have little ones under five, they are automatically admitted at no charge. Yep, they are FREE. But for all others, you will need to print the coupon so be sure to click on the picture above and print it out before you go so it can be presented at the ticket counter. If you have any problems, contact me thetravelingpraters at gmail dot come or leave a comment and I'd be happy to send you a pdf copy.

I realize not everyone here homeschools but if you are Active-Duty Police, Military, or Firefighters you receive free admission and dependents will receive 50% off with proper ID.

We haven't made it to The Creation Museum yet, but this is one museum that we will not miss! We really can't wait to go!

However, you may enjoy reading about these places near Cincinnati we have visited. And if you're planning a trip of your own, don't miss this link for some more incredible deals.

Have you been to the Creation Museum or the Cincinnati area? Why not leave a comment and tell us about your favorite attraction?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Easy Meals for this Week

I love the days when I can throw some ingredients in the crock pot and a couple hours later sit down to a yummy meal or side dish. This is one of my favorite recipes for that occasion.

Cheesy Potatoes

1 bag of frozen hash browns
1 med. onion, diced
1 16 oz. container of sour cream
1 can of cream of chicken soup

Add all ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Season with salt & pepper if desired. That's it. So easy, even a camper can do it. With a crockpot of course.

To keep it easy, we served this with Turkey hotdogs, and green beans. Just heat and serve. Can't beat it. Total meal cost $8.05 plus tax- yes, some places do pay tax on food...

Wanna try another easy meal?

Beef & Bean Burritos

This is a super easy recipe that we enjoyed last night. Sorry, I didn't think to snap a picture before they were all devoured, I'll try harder next time. Promise. Anyway, here's the recipe and believe me this is so easy, I prepared it all in the microwave in under a half hour. I'm not going to tell you how many pounds of hamburger or cans of beans to get but I'm sure you'll be able to adapt it easy enough for your family.

This is what you need:
A lb. or two of Hamburger
A can or two of Pinto Beans
A pkg or two of taco seasoning
Tortillas of your choice (I used 10" flour tortillas)
Mexican blend cheese
Salsa

What you do:
Brown the hamburger and drain. Add taco seasoning to hamburger according to directions (personally, I don't use as much water as they typically call for, just enough to enable me to mix it all up). Open the beans, drain, heat through. Warm tortillas and layer each tortilla with hamburger, beans, cheese and salsa if desired. Serve and eat. Yummy!

Total meal cost: $10.75 (we ate the burritos with corn chips)and don't forget the tax, of course.

How about you? Why not share your favorite easy and cheap meal idea?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Myth or not?

Bred and born a Yankee, growing up in the Northern States, I am accustomed to cold winter temperatures with inches and inches of snow. We play in it, drive in it and yes, go to school and shopping in it. It takes a lot of snow, really frigid temperatures, or threat of a blizzard to shut things down in my home state.

That’s why I never believed the rumors I heard growing up, thinking the source must surely have gotten their information wrong. Really wrong. But I now know the rumors are not some fantastic myth created to make us Northerners jealous, it is true. I’ve experienced it firsthand. No longer fiction, but cold, hard fact. When it snows in the South, everything really does shut down. Everything. The Interstate, the highways, even Army bases. It’s all closed. And Wal-Mart nearly runs out of food. Well, bread, milk, soup and popcorn, everything that we went to the store to buy on our regular list, not because a ‘storm’ was coming.

And how much snow does it take to cause all this upheaval? Not a lot. How about less than 2”? Just enough to cover the roads and freezing temperatures. Because unlike the Northern States, they aren’t accustomed to snow. So what little bit they do get apparently doesn’t warrant the expense of an investment in snow removal equipment that they may or may not use again this season. Or next.

But I’m not complaining, really I’m not. After all, my husband was able to enjoy a snow day with us. Who could complain about that? It WON'T be me!

I just thought I’d escaped this kind of weather, that’s all.

So, do you have snow in your neck of the woods? If so, what do you do to enjoy it?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons... (Part 1)


Make lemonade! This week has been very trying to say the least. So it just made my day when Karen at Educating Crumpet honored me with the Lemonade Stand Award!

As with any award, there are a few ‘rules’ that should be followed:
The Lemonade Stand Award is awarded for being a blogger who shows great attitude and gratitude. The rules for accepting this award:

- Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So, I've given this some thought and since my blog seems to have become a mixture of stories about our life on the road interspersed with tidbits about homeschooling, I decided I’d select five bloggers from each category to honor with the Lemonade Stand Award. So, here goes…

If you’ve noticed the Families on the Road button on the side of my page, you know there are other people crazy enough to embark on this lifestyle, though of course we don’t see ourselves this way! I've found many blogs this way and think you'll enjoy these too.

You may remember Show Us the World when I distributed my last blog award, well, they now have a spin off; their teenage son Austin has recently started his own blog The Teenage Traveler. Since I have been unsuccessful in my own attempts to coerce, I mean encourage, my children to blog about our adventures, I am awarding Austin an award because I love his attitude and he seems to be really sweet!

Fairly new to the full-time lifestyle, Discovering US is a blog that I keep my eye on. I’m still impressed that they cooked their entire Thanksgiving meal over an open fire. I can’t wait to read about all the discoveries they make on the road.

Another blog I’ve enjoyed is The Ticknor Tribe,the chronicles of a little family of 13 that are flourishing on the road while living in their travel trailer. Well, actually, they just upgraded to a huge 5th Wheel- I’m so jealous I may have to stop reading. OK, just kidding! I really can’t wait until they post the inside tour…I love reading how this lifestyle works for other families.

Last week I found Smitty’s Info and after reading Sherri’s post I’ve Never Been so Hairy ,I decided she deserved an award!

This week I found a new blog, The Stafford’s on the Road. They’ve been on the road for a bit now and have traveled to some pretty cool places and have lots of neat pictures to prove it. The post to Sylvan Lake II caught my eye when they mentioned the movie National Treasure II, we loved both the National Treasure movies! Anyway, remember the Eagle Rock, where the treasure was found? They went in search of it...cool stuff.

I know that’s five, but I really have another one that I want to mention, Where Are We Now. They have a neat goal to visit every baseball stadium in America. I just began reading their blog when they got to Florida, because I dream of visiting the Everglades and they beat me to it. Be sure to read about their visit to Everglades National Park.

Well, that concludes this part of the Blog Awards… I hope you take the time to stop by and check out each of these blogs and enjoy reading about these families as much as I do!

And don't forget to stop back next week when I’ll be posting my favorite, Top Five Homeschooling blogs…according to me that is….until then…Blessings from the Road!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Well, Ex-CUZE me!

I'm sure many of you have received your share of goofy, tacky and just plain weird gifts at Christmastime, but the family gift we received this year from my mother-in-law, no less, really shocked me.

I wanted to post a picture sooner, but a picture just really wouldn't do this gift justice. No, you really need to HEAR this. But though I've been trying to post a video for the past week, something just isn't working as it should. However, I'm sure you're all creative, I'm sure when you look at the picture you're able to conjure up in your mind the kind of sounds that emerge from this bank as each coin is dropped in the crack. If my kids were younger, I would have been appalled... But rest assured, now that the kids are older, it brought many laughs...even if it is a bit rude, crude and ooohhh sooooo tacky!

Imagine one child standing outside the bathroom door insisting they need to GO (the bank 'making noises' of course), while another child is laughing hysterically in the bathtub! Thus...our Christmas Eve...

Hmmm....let's have an informal survey....do you think this lovely invention was the brain child of a man or woman?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life on the Road: Another Teen's Perspective

An Interview with a Homeschooled, Roadschooled Teen

You seemed to enjoy the first post in this series about our life on the road from a kids' perspective so I thought I'd continue. This week I sat down with my youngest child, my daughter and asked her some questions that she was only too eager to answer too honestly, but hey, you come here to hear what really goes on in our camper, right?! Enjoy!

Tell me about yourself.
My name is Chelsea, I’m 13 years old. I enjoy reading, writing, playing on the computer, beating my brothers on Xbox, texting my friends, listening to music and duct taping things. Oh, I’d also like to play the guitar if I knew how.

Everything is pretty self explanatory, but what’s with the duct tape?
It’s fun, it’s not your average gray duct tape, this is tie-dyed and I use it to make rings, bracelets, purses. Whatever I feel like. I want to decorate the computer I share with my brothers, but they won’t agree to it.

Describe your life on the road.
It’s boring. It’s not the funnest thing in the world to be this close to your brothers with no privacy.

Okay, now that you’ve just painted a picture of gloom, is there anything positive that you can think of to this lifestyle?
(Chuckle) Ummm…not right at the moment…no.

Anything?
(Stares at me with that deer caught in the headlights look…obviously trying to think).
It’s kind of fun to live in a home that you can drive?

Let’s try a different approach…where have you enjoyed visiting?
That's easy. Disney World. Virginia Beach. Washington D.C. was fun. Colonial Williamsburg was one of my favorites. Everywhere we went to in Virginia was fun. Virginia has the ocean, the beach and it’s funner than Alabama. Alabama just has grass, lots of grass and rocket ships. Virginia had dolphins, beach glass, sand, shells, and cool hotels with good breakfast food.

So are you saying that you prefer to stay in hotels vs. the camper?
No. I only liked the hotels on the beach. In the camper I have my own bed and I also have my own closet. I decorate my closet with autographs signed by all the band members that I’ve met at concerts. I’ve met Skillet, Decyfer Down and Remedy Drive. I also met Kimber Rising and Anthony Evans but I didn’t get their autograph…tear….I did get my picture taken with them though.

When did you go to these concerts?
This year. Since we started traveling.

So could it be that there REALLY are perks to traveling?
I guess so...there could be some. Meeting interesting people. Other homeschoolers, but I don’t meet very many girls my age. Actually I don’t meet any.

How do you stay in touch with friends and family?
I text my friends, call them, email them and keep in touch through Face book. I probably talk to them once every day.

How has your current on the road lifestyle affected your schooling?
We do less book work, but learn more because we learn a lot from the places that we go. If we are near something interesting we normally go there and afterwards we’ll look it up in books and read about it. I didn’t know anything about Civil Rights or Martin Luther King, Jr. but when we were in Atlanta we went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site and mom made us learn about it. I didn’t even want to go and thought it would be really boring. Afterwards we watched movies,read books about that time period and talked to my Grandpa and Great Grandma about what it was like to live then. It turned out to be really interesting.

What do you do for school when you aren’t visiting interesting places?
I read a lot. I’ll read basically anything. Right now I’m reading the Redwall series. In the past few weeks I’ve also read Sense and Sensibilities and then I watched some Jane Austin movies. I enjoyed reading the Left Behind series for kids and read all 40 of them in 2 weeks. They were good and they are also small books. I’ve enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables books. My mom was reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok and let me read it when she was finished. That’s one of my favorite books. It was really good. I learned a lot from that book. I had no idea there were different types of Jews. I also learned about some of the Jewish customs.

I also do the Connect the Thoughts curriculum and The Life of Fred for math. I read the Bible. I also write, creative writing.

I’m also interning for an author, Judith Allee. She wrote Homeschooling on a Shoestring and Educational Travel on a Shoestring. I have a list of assignments to work on. That’s pretty cool that I can work for an author. It counts as some of my schooling.

I also crochet and knit. Not very often but sometimes I get in the mood and make things. A couple weeks ago I made a baby afghan for our neighbors that moved. It was a going away present and because they just found out they were having a baby.

If you read what my mom wrote the other day, you'll know why I'm teaching myself French!

Okay, I just thought of one more thing...is there anything that could make life on the road more pleasant for you?
Getting along with my brother, Josh better. We are both stubborn and we annoy each other and it really bothers me. Other than Josh annoying me, life on the road is pretty good. I enjoy going places, but I don't like staying in one place- it's better when we are moving around more. Unless we were stuck near the beach, I wouldn't mind that. I like spending time with my family, hiking, watching movies and playing games.

Well, there you have it...Life on the Road from a slightly different perspective. Did I miss something? No problem, I'll have another interview coming up with another Homeschooled, Roadschooled teen in another week or so.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask? Why not leave it in the comments below? Of course if you have a Homeschooled, Roadschooled Kid that would like to participate, let me know that too! Why should it be all about us? We're nosy and love to hear how this lifestyle works for others!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For the love of Paris...

My daughter loves Paris. In fact, a visit to Paris has one of the coveted top spots on her Bucket List. And dreaming ahead, she's already planning a Parisian wedding. The source of her affection isn't really because she wants to visit all of France. No, just one amazing structure known globally...the Eiffel Tower. She's spent hours researching it, drawing it and recently painting it.



Here's a peak at the finished project:


So, what's on your Bucket List?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Sewer Story or What was He Thinking?

Well the temperatures have dipped a bit lower here in Northern Alabama than we had anticipated. Either I had failed to keep as close an eye on the weather forecast as I thought I was or the forecast had changed because I don't remember reading anywhere that we were going to experience below freezing temperatures. To be honest, after spending the past week in Ohio, I was rejoicing to be further south and what had initially felt like a heat wave.

So, imagine my surprise when last night I discovered that our water had frozen! Not one to keep a secret, I couldn't wait until morning to share the news with my husband. As if not being able to flush the toilet was a concern of his at 3:00 A.M.! He simply grunted, rolled over and went back to sleep while I envisioned horrible thoughts of broken pipes flooding our camper and ruining our newly installed floor, finely drifting off about the time my husband was getting up for work and did want to survey the damage.

Luckily, other than not having running water momentarily, there was no damage, and not anything a couple electric heaters couldn't remedy. Within a couple hours the heaters had done their job and we had water once more. But here's where the story gets interesting...

By the time my husband had returned from work and we had eaten dinner, the temperatures had already fallen into the low 20's and our holding tank (sewer) had frozen. My husband decided to have a look while my boys jokingly asked if he'd need the hose spreader- ever watched RV? If you have, you'll understand the comment and the incredibly horrible scene I envision in my mind each time the holding tanks seem to need attention.

Well, this time my imaginings weren't too far off base. In an effort to thaw out the line, my husband grabbed the electric heater and decided to remove the hose from the tank so the hot air could go into the tank and the yucky stuff could be thawed and drained.

Now, let me explain that the tank is still designed with a pull lever that needs to be released to allow the waste to exit the tank. So, it's not likely that we would experience seepage...however...after allowing the heater to heat things up a bit, my husband decided to have a glance at the progress, not expecting much of a change. But, you guessed it, when he pulled the lever...surprise... urine (because we don't do the poo in our loo) gushed (according to me), spewed forth (according to the kids),trickled (according to my husband) from the camper. But since my husband was the only one to actually witness this event, we'll just have to take his word for it that it was indeed a trickle...as exciting as spewed forth may be.

But my story is not yet finished...remember the heater that was heating up this mess so it could be properly dumped? Of course it would happen to remain directly in the line of fire. So my husband simply wiped down the heater, sprayed it with Windex with ammonia and returned it to its normal spot in front of our bedroom door.

Now this story never would have been written if that heater had not been plugged in and turned on, but it was! The intense, overwhelming smell of urine sent us all clamoring for the door and fresh air. Judging from the smell of the heater, that is NEVER permitted inside the camper again, may be it was a bit more than a trickle.

What was he thinking?

The Homeschool Classroom Makes a Move and other surprises...

The Homeschool Classrom


Several months ago, I found a site that I absolutely love, The Homeschool Classroom. I'm so excited to share with you that today, The Homeschool Classroom moved to a new site and has a brand new look and there's also another surprise, but you'll have to stop by the new site to see exactly what's going on. Let's just say they aren't alone....

To celebrate the move and the other surprise, there is a cool giveaway with some really neat items! Hands off the Pioneer Woman Cookbook, I want that for myself, after all I've been hearing so much about! But anyway, you'll have to go to the site to see all the giveaways for yourself...

So...what are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Travel Games: the Game Folio series

We’re a big game playing family. When the kids were very young, I realized the educational and social benefits of introducing games as a part of our homeschool program, not to mention that games are great when it comes time for family bonding, unless of course you’re playing Risk. But then again, that’s a whole other story that you can read about here, if you’re really interested.

At home we had an armoire full of games. Educational games. Silly games. Classic games. When it came time for us to put our stuff in storage it was so difficult to pack those games! Each one had so many memories associated with it, just like our favorite books.

I was tempted to stash our boxes of games inside the camper, but knew that our space was already limited. Instead, my husband suggested that I purchase some travel size games. Though that is certainly a great suggestion, I’m not a big fan of travel editions. Typically I find that the pieces are too little to be practical, or the games are not quite the quality that I’m looking for. Still, I was reluctant to begin our journey without a couple new games for rainy or cold days.

Amazingly, I found a Connect Four game that I’ve been absolutely thrilled with from the Hasbro Game Folio series. It wasn't long before I added other games from the series. Each game is designed to pack up and play on the go and comes in a zippered case that has built in compartments not only to separate the pieces, but also to serve as storage. When it’s time to play you simply unzip the case and begin. Each case is just under 11’’ X 7’’, and weigh under a pound. Remember, I have teenagers, if you have very young children, you may not appreciate the small pieces, but I’ve found the games to be just the right size for our family.

For weeks we had nightly Connect Four battles that the entire family would get in on, plus, my daughter and I would pack up our game and play while we were washing our laundry each week. When I found Battleship at a thrift store, my boys were thrilled!For weeks Battleship was the game of choice, only recently replaced with our newest Game Folio, Scrabble, which I bought as part of their Christmas present, thinking it was time to add another fun game and because secretly I wanted to work on their spelling and vocabulary skills. See, I don’t always play games just for fun.

I’m not sure that the Connect Four game is still available, though I did find it online at an incredibly inflated $79.99 at Amazon. I’m pretty confident that I didn’t pay that much! Battleship is available at a much more reasonable price. Oh, Hasbro has Scrabble and Yahtzee, which we may add to our little collection next. You may be in luck; I found ours at the local Walmart.

There you have it, my favorite ‘travel size’ games...have you found a brand or game that you really like?

*the pictures for this post are from the Hasbro website and Amazon.com.
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