While decorating our home for Christmas…
we even took the time….
to decorate our dog.
Just look at that adorable fur baby!
Doesn’t he look thrilled?
Well, maybe thrilled isn’t the most appropriate choice of words…
It’s time to write up those field trip posts!
Field Trip Friday will be back this Friday, December 3rd, but I’ll have it up and ready for link-ups sometime early Thursday evening. Can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know we did. Last year I just had a terrible, terrible time. My grandmother had just passed away, I missed our friends and family and I spent too much time thinking about what I’d lost and not enough time grateful for the many blessings we still had. This year has been different. Since my husband has decided that we will indeed be staying where we are, I have felt as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can’t even describe the difference it has made.
We celebrated our many blessings with a simple Thanksgiving dinner. I was thankful for many things, but especially thankful that I had managed to cook the turkey without burning it! My oven burns everything! It’s not me. Really. It is my oven. I jokingly called it the turbo oven because it managed to cook our pretty large turkey in under two hours flat. Bet your oven can’t do that. But then, I bet you don’t want it to either!
I was impressed when my oldest son asked to say the prayer over our food since it was Thanksgiving. It began lovely and really blessed my heart as he shared his…until he thanked the Lord that he had such a loving family. Hmmm…he just had to add a little rub since he’d been squabbling with his siblings earlier in the day. Let’s just say that the prayer was followed by a few moments of uncomfortable silence. Of course, he certainly thought he was being cute.
The kids had really wanted to celebrate the holiday by inviting friends over. So Monday I sent out an email. We invited all our friends and panicked when four families RSVP’d that they’d be over for desserts and light snacks.
With the prospect of a houseful of guests, my husband and I went on a frantic search for furniture. We went to new showrooms and found out it would take 3 to 8 weeks for the furniture to be delivered, stopped at a few furniture consignment shops and couldn’t find anything that we were interested in or wanted to pay the price they were asking, and finally on a whim stopped at a thrift store that I rarely visit. We hit the mother lode! We found a wingback recliner chair that my husband loved, a couch which I covered and a huge artificial Christmas tree for just over $100! I was thrilled!
The kids and I spent all day Wednesday shopping, cooking, and preparing for our visitors. I had selected several recipes from the Family Fun website. I love their ideas! Here are the recipes that I selected:
Pilgrim Pie- a favorite!
Cranberry Ice Cream Pie- creamy, smooth and almost too good!
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
Easy Fruit Dip served with strawberries, grapes and fresh pineapple.
Pilgrim Hat Cookies- which Phyllis shared at All Things Beautiful.
I bought a Pumpkin Pie and a Cherry Pie
Veggie Tray and Dip
Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs- yummy and oh, so easy!
Chili Cheese Dip served with Frito scoops- think I’ll skip this one next time.
Chicken Chile Cheese Cups- absolutely delicious!
The kids were incredible helpers, it’s so nice to have older kids! They wrapped the plastic ware in white napkins and tied them with a yellow bow. My daughter whipped up a batch of Pilgrim Pies by herself while I prepared the Cranberry Ice cream Pies. My son built an air soft fort in the backyard and they ran the vacuum and cleaned their bathroom. We actually had a lot of fun preparing for our guests.
We may not have been able to travel to Ohio to see our family, but we are thankful for everyone that was able to join us at our new house and help us feel a little bit more at home here in Alabama!
The kids can’t wait until next year!
We’ve been trying to cram in as many hikes as we can before the rainy or winter season hits. Today we joined some friends at the picnic/parking area at Monte Sano State Park where the kids were able to burn off some energy playing on the playground equipment…after all, just because they are teenagers doesn’t mean they are too old to enjoy the swings…
or Teeter Totter… right???
Today we decided to hike a portion of the McKay Hollow Trail since we stumbled upon the trailhead just past the shelter house near the parking area.
This was our first view of the hollow- isn’t it beautiful?
The trail immediately begins to head downward. In the spring or in the midst of the rainy season, a few minutes on the trail and you’d be rewarded with a stunning waterfall. This was not one of those times, but the view was still spectacular.
From this point on, you needed to pay close attention to your footing. The trail is narrow, steep and rocky. I was really lamenting the fact that my tennis shoes should have been replaced last year. It’s time for some sturdy hiking boots with thick soles.
We hadn’t gotten very far when the kids decided they needed to take a break. Of course the fact that over the years, water had eroded the rock to look very similar to a chair wouldn’t have made it a tempting place to rest would it?
We continued to follow the trail. You do see the trail, don’t you? It’s there…take a close look.
McKay Hollow certainly did not disappoint. There were many unique boulders and rock outcroppings along the trail.
We only had a couple hours to hike today so we weren’t able to complete the hike. Some of the kids made it to the bottom of the hollow though and then we all needed to make our climb back up. Up. Up. Up.
This trail never really levels off. When you start to climb, you continue climbing until you reach the top. I am happy to say that my kids and I have noticed that the hikes are getting easier for us. The regular once or twice a week hike is certainly beginning to pay off. Now if only my jeans would fit a bit looser because my butt is certainly getting a workout!
If you’re in the Huntsville area, this is a great hike. Make sure you have plenty of time, water and have a good, sturdy pair of shoes. A walking stick would also be helpful. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this trail if you are hiking with young children. At points the trail is very narrow with some steep drop offs. Monte Sano State Park does charge a $3 per person day use fee that does not apply to campers or those with an annual membership.
I was excited to receive the Secret of the Scribe this past week, the last book I wanted in hand before switching over to Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press. We began reading it as a read aloud and though three of us found it very interesting, one of my children fell asleep! Hmmm…I won’t mention any names but let’s just say that HE will be reading the book on his own from now on.
We began working on a new math program that I will be reviewing. So far so good. I’ll let you know more about that later.
Monday we met some friends so the moms could gab and commiserate about their weeks while the kids played an airsoft match. If you don’t know what air soft is, it’s like paintball but instead of shooting each other with horrendous paintballs, they are shooting air soft pellets which typically don’t hurt as badly. For some reason this really appeals to them. Even my daughter gets in on the action.
My oldest son has wanted to learn to play the violin but with all of our traveling/moving, I’ve just never taken the time to find someone that gives lessons. Wednesday we stopped by a friends home so he could have an informal lesson. He really wants to get started so I guess we’ll be adding that to our list of things to do.
Thursday we went on an incredible field trip with our homeschool cover to a local beekeepers’, rushed home to get some book work done, and joined friends for a beautiful hike Thursday afternoon. Now that’s what I call a productive day!
Friday was…well…about as unproductive as it could have been. Other than Driver’s Ed practice…I’d say not much was accomplished. Well, maybe not that unproductive, the kids did go to another ballroom dance class. All three of them this time and to hear it told by his siblings, my oldest son really livened up the class. Wouldn’t you know, this is the one week I decided to run a couple errands while they were in class and I missed it? I got to hear about it all the way home. Belly laughs, I’m telling you. Belly laughs. Apparently even the instructor found him amusing. Poor child. He certainly had a good time though and can’t wait for next week. Oh, I thought you’d enjoy this quote of his that is a Nickolaus original…
“A Life worth while, means people smile.”
I guess he is on a self proclaimed mission to bring humor to the ballroom.
Next week the forecast is calling for lots of rain, which means my husband will be home- add to that the Thanksgiving holiday and I’m beginning to think that may be a good time to take a break and regroup.
What about you, do you plan to school next week? or will you be taking a break too?
You can see how the week went for other homeschool families at the Weekly Wrap-Up, hosted at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
We’ve been trying to go on at least one decent hike a week before the weather gets cold. This week we were fortunate to somehow fit in two hikes between the rain showers.
Since we first arrived in Alabama, I’ve wanted to hike to the huge cross located at Burritt on the Mountain near Monte Sano State Park. Yesterday we finally made it! We parked in the Trough Springs Trail parking lot, hiked down, around, up, across the road, and up, up, up before the trail leveled off on the easy Discovery Trail that loops around Burritt’s museum property. Not only did we see the magnificent 74 foot high, steel and concrete cross, we also saw some pretty neat Rock Bluffs complete with caves and the kids were able to crawl through a tunnel under Monte Sano Blvd. as we neared the end of the trail.
I really think this is one of my favorite hikes in Huntsville. I know, I know. I always say that, but each week the scenery just gets better and better. I really wish I could show you some of the pictures from this hike so you could understand, but for now they are hopelessly trapped on my sons phone since he can’t send picture texts. Why do the batteries in my camera always have to die when I need them?
I’m hoping to persuade my husband to hike with us this coming weekend before all the leaves disappear off the trees for the winter. We want to stay nearby, I just can’t decide where to go!
Where is your favorite place to hike in the fall?
My friend, Angie, just started a new meme that I am really excited about called Helpful Homeschool Hints- doesn’t that sound like fun?
Today is the kick-off so if you have a tip that you’d like to share with other homeschoolers why not stop by and link up?
Don’t forget to stop back each Wednesday (after next week) to link up and read through the tips that are shared.
I can’t wait to visit the blogs and see what I can glean from everyone’s nuggets of wisdom!
Planning a visit Disney World anytime soon? If so, I have an awesome souvenir idea to share with you!
You can order FREE customizable maps highlighting your families favorite attractions and entertainment in each of the four parks, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM and The Animal Kingdom.
This set of maps ( two maps, four parks, front and back) include a set of gold stickers which allow you to mark new favorites that you find on your visit.
You can design these maps and print them from your own computer or request to have them sent to your home free of charge. I would suggest the latter- the maps are large, the paper is thick and they are beautifully designed. Besides, it’s fun to receive mail from Disney! Just make sure you order your set of maps 4-6 weeks before you plan to arrive at Disney World.
Get started creating your own customizable maps here.
If you missed it, make sure you take a moment to learn about Disney’s Homeschool Days just around the corner, in January!
This week the writer’s On the Company Porch are talking about geography. I shared some of the resources we have used over the years as well as some that we still incorporate in our studies. If you are looking for some ideas, why not pop over to see what everyone has to say?
Geography has always been one of my favorite subjects. I guess it’s because from the time I was very young, I loved to travel. Taking afternoon trips with my grandparent’s across fields and highways and bridges to visit Lake Erie. Standing along the shoreline gazing out over the water and feeling the wind whip through my hair never ceased to amaze me. Or spending summers in the gently rolling hills of Southern Ohio. Enjoying one of our only family vacations to Assateague Island in Northeast Virginia. Yep, those memories gave me a passion for exploring the world- one I desired to share with my own children and something that we’ve been able to accomplish in our home while traveling with my husbands’ job for nearly five years.
Ideally it would be great to learn about the geography and cultures in our world through travel alone, but I also know that’s not always possible. So, I’d like to share some of the resources and activities that we’ve used over the years to bring the world into our home.
You can find the rest of the post here.
I was browsing through blog posts in my reader when this caught my eye:
If you want to play along all you have to do is choose any day between November 22nd to December 3rd and blog about EVERYTHING, the good, bad and the ugly, that goes on in your homeschool for that entire day!
Now is your chance to show the world what you DO or in some cases DO NOT accomplish in a 24 hour period!
Sound like fun? Check out all the details at BOOKS and BAIRNS.
Today, November 16th, at 1pm EST, you can travel virtually to Plimoth Plantation to meet a Pilgrim and a Wampanoag Indian for a free, 30 minute field trip.
You do need to sign up to participate.
You’ll find additional resources, book lists, lesson plans and multimedia presentations on The First Thanksgiving Teacher Resources page so don’t forget to take a look while you’re there!
Can’t make it to the Live event today? No worries, you can still view the field trip after November 17th.
Now, who’s heading to Plimoth?
Years ago, I discovered Library & Educational Services, a company that offers wholesome books, CD’s, DVD’s and other products at wholesale prices to libraries, churches, resellers, schools and educators.
I’ve purchased some incredible products and deeply discounted prices including some of the products below all at 40- 50% savings.
You can request a catalog, sign up for the weekly email newsletter or easily place an order online but you may want to check them out soon because until Monday, November 22nd, they are offering a special cyber sale and have discounted shipping to $1.95 for orders over $70.
Go check them out and tell me if you find any good deals!
You’ll find Part 1 of The Story Behind the Name here.
In all my life, I never imagined what would feel like to be in the path of a giant rolling snowball until this point. I’ve heard people say that you can always cut back somewhere, but when you have no income and no money, it’s pretty hard to cut out everything.
Ideally, one wouldn’t take on as much debt as we had in the first place. That is the problem. Many times when things had looked bleak, we’d taken what we thought was a temporary step and used our credit cards or taken out a second mortgage, postponing the fallout that would inevitably follow. We had made many mistakes and by the time we had finally gotten serious and began to make changes, it was simply too little, too late. I hope you’ve never been in the path where I found myself but the fact is, if you haven’t you’ll have a hard time relating to what I will tell you next.
The months that followed were a blur. My husband and I were filling out applications, sending resumes, checking on job leads. Nothing happened with the exception of us falling further and further behind with the snowball rolling faster and faster. When my husband was working, I’d tried my hand at couponing and had successfully stockpiled food, with the intent of inviting friends and family over for dinners and fellowship, it turned out that my hoard of provisions fed us for nearly two months. At that time a family member gave us $50 a week for food, since we’d helped her through a rough patch. Ramon noodles, potatoes and beans became a staple.
When we first began traveling, a realtor had stopped at our house on three different occasions asking us to consider selling because he had a buyer. How I’d wished we’d have considered his offer. Our hope had been that we could get our debt paid and move back to Ohio for good. Besides, we had grown to think of our house as some sort of false stability.
We’d not yet missed a payment on our mortgage but we were struggling so we called our mortgage holder and spoke with them. They suggested that we consider a short sell, something I’d never heard of. Basically, a short sell is an agreed upon selling price that the mortgage holder will accept to release you from the loan.
We were optimistic. I called a realtor only to find that the short sell process isn’t as easy as the lender alluded to. Add to the fact that in one of our low points, we’d taken a second mortgage out on the house and things were beginning to look pretty bleak. The realtor would only list our house if both companies would agree on a price, which they would not do and according to our primary mortgage, we could only short sell our house if it was listed by a realtor. A real catch 22. I called four realtors. No one else would even look at our house. Why? There were far too many homeowners in our area in the same situation and the banks holding the loans were not easy to work with. Their advice? Live in the house and save money for when we’d be evicted. And speak to a lawyer, if we hadn’t already.
To make it clear, our mortgage was the last bill that we let slide. Our car payments, loans, credit cards, health insurance and utilities had already been ignored. .
We received disconnect notices on our gas and electric because we’d failed to uphold our end of an agreement on an extension, about the same time the lender threatened verbally to take my husband’s truck for non-payment. When it looked like it really couldn't get any worse, my husband got an offer. A company he’d worked for in Alabama wanted him to work, but only if we agreed to move. They were tired of us going back and forth. Not feeling like we had any other options, we packed up and drove away.
Things really didn't hit me as to what a mess we were in until one night in the hotel when my husband woke up with sharp pains on his side. He asked me to drive him to the ER, so I knew it was serious. My husband never willingly agrees to go to the doctor.
I left the kids in the hotel room with strict directions not to open the door for anyone. My husband was in a lot of pain and I was almost in tears. What would happen if it was his appendix like he thought and he couldn't work? We were already on the verge of losing everything. We didn't have the gas money to get home and didn't have the money to pay for the hotel room for the remainder of the week. I didn't know anyone that could check on the kids for me, we were alone, no friends or family.
And then I heard God tell me to trust Him. I didn't need friends, family or insurance all I needed was Him and to put my trust in Him alone. The following scripture came to my mind as clearly as if someone had spoken it:
“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14: 13
That verse brought me such comfort. I began to pray and the more I prayed, the calmer I became.
At the hospital, we were never even asked about insurance. They escorted my husband to triage and had us wait. As we waited, I continued to pray. It was a busy night in the ER and several hours later, we were still waiting. As the hours ticked by my husband began to feel better. So we got up out of our seats and left. I walked out those doors with a peace that whatever lay ahead, God was with us. The road may not be easy, but He is faithful and He alone would meet our needs.
Though my husband was working, up to this point we barely had the money to pay our hotel room. We had managed to catch up on his truck but we’d fallen further and further behind on our home and to make matters worse, property values had fallen once again when a major auto manufacturer announced they were closing their plant in our town.
Our house fell into foreclosure. I was heartbroken, but I really thought that the Lord would allow us to obtain the money to save it. Even then, we made a trip home to pack our belongings. I know people move everyday but I can’t tell you how hard it was to pack up a home that we had dreamed of growing old in because try as hard as we could, we weren’t able to pay for it. I looked at our 1940’s home with all the cute cubbies and built-ins, the fireplaces that I’d loved during the cold winters, the tree outside that my boys had spent hours climbing and the fire hydrant that we’d painted to look like Uncle Sam during our cities Bicentennial Celebration and I looked at my daughters’ Tinkerbell room knowing that by the time we’d have a home again, she’d have outgrown her fascination of the Disney character. I could barely hold back the sobs that I knew would come.
We gave away many of our things, threw stuff away and kept very little. It was very emotional. To this day, when we visit our hometown, I can’t drive by our old home without getting choked up and teary eyed.
Looking back, the road was not easy. We lived in a hotel room until my husband’s truck was broken into and he decided he couldn’t stand it any longer. When we were at our breaking point, we got an unbelievably generous offer when someone offered to front us the money to buy a camper. Not a lot of money, just a couple thousand dollars, but we were confident that we’d find something that worked. You can read that story here.
After we’d found our camper, it became clear to me why we’d never been able to buy one before, though we’d tried many, many times. We didn’t need it before and we’d never have seen buying the camper as another way that the Lord had provided for our needs. And yet He had. And we were grateful and excited for this leg of the adventure. Besides that, the camper gave my children stability that they so desperately needed.
In October of last year, our house was sold, only 10 months after we’d missed our first payment. We tried to get help through different agencies, but the fact that my husband was working out of state and we didn’t live there just sped up the proceedings. Our house sold the day of the auction for over $100,000 less than it had been appraised for a year before.
I can’t tell you what it felt like when it sold. I thought I’d be relieved. I wasn’t. I became depressed because until it sold I firmly believed that somehow we’d have the money to save it and one day we could go home.
What happened next amazed me. One month after our house sold, my husband got a substantial increase of his workload, which means he began to make more money. Two months later he got an incredible raise that we weren’t expecting. We were finally able to buy something other than Ramon noodles at the grocery store AND we began to get out of debt paying off bill after bill after bill. Three months later, my husband got yet one more promotion. It seemed as though the debt just dissolved before our eyes. Last Friday, we finally paid off our trip to Disney World that we took in 2004! Tomorrow we will pay off our last remaining loan other than our mortgage.
In the past year we have paid off thousands of dollars in credit card debt, unsecured loans, two vehicles and the money given to us for our camper. We’ve also purchased a new-to-us conversion van, taken a vacation to Texas, and taken my mother-in-law and my parent’s on a cruise to Mexico without debt.
I would not wish for anyone to go through what we've gone through. And yet, I feel like the Lord gave us an opportunity to live our dream, even though it came at a price. Not only did we lose our home, we also lost friends and became the object of much gossip. On the bright side, my husband has a job, we have a new home (that we rent), our health is good and we are together. We have learned to live with much less and we have learned that our Father in Heaven is truly our Provider. We’ve also learned that facing foreclosure is not the worst thing that could ever happen in life. Unpleasant. Yes. Heartbreaking. Yes. A Blessing. Yes.
Today, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have tasted the freedom that comes from a life without debt. I am confident that my children will not think about making the mistakes that we made and I’m thankful for the experiences and the adventures that the Lord has allowed us to have these past five years.
I’m grateful for this new home, our new church and the friends that have reached out to us. Slowly, I’ve learned to grow where I’m planted.
I used to be so judgmental. I remember hearing about people that were losing their home thinking how terrible they were and of all the mistakes that they’d made. I was never going to be “one of those people”. I’ve realized the same thing could happen to many, many people. Could you make ends meet if you lost 20, 40 or 100% of your income?
How do you relate to people that are facing foreclosure? Are you like I was, someone that prefers to see what changes they could have made and offer condemnation or a friend to those that are hurting?
Remember I told you that we’d made a trip to Ohio last month to retrieve some of our personal belongings out of storage? Well, I’d sent my boys to grab the last remaining items from the van (finally) and my oldest son stepped into the house saying….prepare yourself… you won’t believe it...
“Mom, we used to do the neatest things. We just don’t do ANYTHING anymore.”
“Ex-cuuuuuse me???? “ Clearly, my offspring does not speak my language because I just could not understand what he was saying.
…my son was clearly taken aback… “Ummm…yeah…we still do cool things, mom…it’s just…well…you don’t scrapbook it anymore.”
At this his siblings also joined in with an accusatory, “YEAH, MOM!”
In his arms, he’d carried in one of our scrapbook albums plus a few loose pages that had been saved when our basement flooded. Each page was full of pictures of adventures we’d taken prior to Live the Adventure, and captioned, recording the Who, What, Where, Why and When’s for when our memory fails us.
We reminisced as we turned each page.
“Why don’t you scrapbook anymore mom?”
Sheepishly, I replied… “…because now I blog.”
Now I feel guilty.
The truth is I gave up scrapbooking for a couple reasons. It can be a bit expensive, and I tend to be a perfectionist. My pages were never perfect enough so every time I looked through my album, I’d see something to change and I did. My husband finally tired of my anal behavior and told me to stop fixing things or stop scrapbooking. Unable to control myself, I choose the latter.
Now I regret my decision.
So, I’m thinking…it would be nice to present my children with a story of our adventures for Christmas…has anyone ever had their blog made into a bound book? I know it’s possible, I just wonder how it turned out.
Anyone have any tips for a recovering perfectionist who has decided she’d like to ease back into scrapbooking?
It seems as though each week rolls around and I whine because I just don’t feel like we’re getting much accomplished. I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it would be to declare this year a dud and have a do-over. You know what? Since it’s my homeschool and I can do what I want- that is exactly what we’re going to do. Start fresh. Awww…deep sigh…I’m relieved already.
I can’t say that the entire year has been a waste. We have made some progress in some areas and we’ve certainly taken a ton of incredible field trips. In fact, we had one this week that will be chalked up to another one of our all-time favorites.
Friday we had the opportunity to listen to a performance of The Christmas Carol by Gerald Dickens. Does the name ring a bell for you? How about the last name? The Christmas Carol…Dickens…The Christmas Carol…Dickens…yep…Gerald Dickens is the great, great grandson of none other than acclaimed author, Charles Dickens.
At the time when The Christmas Carol was written, it was customary for the authors to promote the book through book readings. Sometimes they would become very animated as they told their stories and began to dramatize them. Charles Dickens was known as a supreme storyteller and clearly, Gerald Dickens is following in his foot steps.
For an hour and a half, the kids and I sat on the edge of our seat, partly because the seats were so uncomfortable that we were beginning to lose feeling in our rear ends, but mostly because we found the one man show outstanding.
If you are a fan of The Christmas Carol and have an opportunity to watch a performances by Gerald Dickens in a city near you, I’d highly, highly recommend it. Though there were children of all ages in the theater, an hour and a half may be a bit much for young children as I saw quite a few squirming in their seats. But then again, maybe it was just the chairs!
If you’ve not read The Christmas Carol, you can find it online for free here.
Hope you had a great week- we’ll be ‘Starting Fresh with Illuminations’ on Monday. If you’re curious about what goes on in the homes of homeschoolers, be sure to stop by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how the week went for other families.
Mark your calendars and start planning! The Happiest Place on Earth is hosting Homeschool Days on January 23rd through the 25th. Disney World will offer a sneak peek of their upcoming nature film, African Cats at the Animal Kingdom Park, with additional Y.E.S. (Disney Youth Education Series) programs that you may choose to select for an additional fee. Disneyland will also offer special programs for homeschool families. Follow this link to find out more about this exciting offer!
Be warned! This is THE longest post that I’ve ever typed and certainly not an easy one to write. These words have been on my heart for quite awhile and I know the time has come to share exactly how we began to Live the Adventure. I hope that you can stay with me as I remember back to the very beginning…
Last week I shared that my husband dropped a bomb shell when he calmly asked me what I thought about moving once again. Deep Breaths. Deep Breaths. I really didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. We just moved into our house in July. Sold our camper in August and retrieved some of our long-lost treasures out of our storage unit in Ohio last week. Just when I thought I could let my guard down and begin to settle in. BAM!
His question reminded me of where the name of my blog came from…Live the Adventure. I didn’t choose this name because life was all smooth, wonderful and hunky dory (is that even a word?)…more likely it was because it wasn’t picture perfect. Somehow…Life’s an Adventure became a mantra for our family when things didn’t go right. When something was hard we’d mark it up to another adventure in a series of adventures. Some pleasant. Many that were not, but somehow the thought that we were ‘living an adventure’ allowed us to cope when life just didn’t turn out how we’d planned.
As I’ve mentioned before, we began traveling with my husband’s job five years ago. At the time we were really between a rock and a hard place because of poor decisions we’d made in the past. It was January, the slowest month of the year for my husband’s job. We were out of money and he found himself out of work. We didn’t know what to do. When the opportunity arose to work in Tennessee, we jumped at the chance.
We weren’t there long, about a week when another opportunity presented itself. My husband could go to Virginia Beach and work with his brother. We weren’t sure. Virginia Beach was a long way from home and the kids and I wouldn’t be able to travel with him. We did know that working in Tennessee was only temporary and that though he was making enough money to pay the mortgage and feed us, we were quickly getting in over our heads with our other monthly bills which totaled thousands of dollars as a result of years of accumulated credit card use. We drove back to Ohio and my husband headed to Virginia. Without us.
It wasn’t long before the kids and I joined my husband, only because my job allowed us to get steep discounts at area hotels. We rode to Virginia squished in my husband’s truck because we couldn’t afford to take both vehicles but we were together and the Atlantic Ocean was steps away from our hotel room.
Life in a hotel room was not easy. Sometimes I just wanted to run away. Literally. But I’d remind myself that we had always wanted to travel more and I had wanted to spend more quality time with my family. I also knew that I was getting what I prayed for. I had prayed earnestly for a closer walk with the Lord and my prayer was answered, just not the way I’d expected.
My husband had quite a bit of work, more than he’d had in a long time and we were able to begin catching up on things that we’d let slide. We tried to pay things off but found that though we weren’t really making a dent in our debt, we weren’t accumulating any more debt and praised God that we were able to buy tires for our vehicles and pay cash, something we’d never done.
After several months, I woke up in the middle of the night scared because of a scuffle that was going on outside our hotel room. I prayed that if we were going to be in Virginia any length of time that we’d be able to find something more accommodating and safer than the hotel room that we currently called home.
The next morning, my husband called me from work. How did I feel about staying in an apartment for the next six weeks? A girl in his office had moved out of her apartment but had miscalculated when her lease was up. If we moved in for six weeks and paid the rent, she’d pay the utilities. Well, you didn’t have to tell me twice!
We moved in to our one room apartment with air mattresses, folding chairs and plastic dishes. We still didn’t have my vehicle so during the day the kids and I were pretty much stuck unless we walked or rented a car, which we did once in awhile just to get us out of the apartment.
As the weather got nicer, I found it harder and harder to get a hotel room with my employee discount (my employer’s were amazing and allowed me to continue working when we were in town); as a result we had to go further and further from my husband’s office. Our expenses were increasing, but my husband was making more money than he’d ever made.
We began to think about moving to Virginia, permanently. I found a really cute apartment and a church that we liked, we were finally making friends, but my husband wasn’t convinced that moving was the thing to do so we prayed that our path would be made clear.
Hours before I was supposed to meet the landlord and sign a lease, my husband got a call from a company in Ohio. Did we want to go home? We packed up and headed home within days.
The funny thing is, when we got home, it didn’t feel like home anymore. I knew the company wouldn’t be able to keep him busy in the winter and so I began biding my time until we left again.
And we did. Back to Virginia we went and whether we wanted it or not, that’s how our life went. Back and forth. Back and forth. Finally the company in Virginia began to run out of work too and we traveled to other places, back to Tennessee, to Kentucky and to Alabama. He even interviewed with a company in Mississippi that wanted him to work a three state area that he turned down.
At this point, my husband was making less money and we weren’t able to go with him because it just wasn’t in the budget. Finally, my husband came home really frustrated. It had been a hard trip on him and on us and he didn’t want to be gone anymore. I had been sending resumes for months and we hadn’t gotten a single phone call!
Things were really tight at home. My husband’s income had dropped by 20% and then 30% and then 40% . We were juggling our bills and getting further and further behind.
My husband came home from Virginia for a promising interview at company an hour from our home, sadly, the manager hadn’t even bothered to show up! My husband was about as discouraged as I’d ever seen him. He didn’t want to return to Virginia without us, we had $40 to our name and no prospects. Or so we thought. My husband asked me if I’d been praying and I told him that I had and I knew the Lord would provide for us. Even as the words left my mouth, I wondered if I really believed them. And then, the phone rang. Never underestimate what the Lord can do. A company that I had sent a resume to was on the line. They had already checked my husband’s references and wanted him to start work the next day.
Armed with our last $40 and our two remaining free hotel room vouchers, I watched my husband drive away, thanking Jesus for provision and wondering what would come next. We discovered that my aunt had a camper at a state park located within an easy commute from the office my husband would be working at and though it was up for sale, we were welcome to stay there until it sold. The Lord had worked out all the details.
This job provided the money to pay our mortgage and for groceries, but not enough to pay our massive mountain of bills. When things looked really bleak, the company in Ohio got busy so we headed home. We were ready and this time we didn’t plan on going anywhere else. We were tired and just wanted to be home. We told the kids we weren’t traveling anywhere, adopted a puppy, began making plans for the winter and began paying off our debt with a vengeance.
It was the week before Thanksgiving when my husband was told that the company would not keep him busy for the winter as they’d promised and we’d have to go somewhere until spring. First, my husband was promised he’d have two more weeks of work only to have it shortened to one. Since my husband is self–employed we weren’t eligible for unemployment. We’d also been so busy paying off debt and closing our credit card accounts that we’d neglected to save money. We only had $3000 dollars, not enough money to pay a month’s worth of bills.
Yet, we weren’t worried because we knew that the Lord would provide and he has, in incredible ways. Just not ever the way I’d have imagined. That $3,000 ran out and though my husband and I were both applying for minimum wage jobs- we didn’t find anything. Not one offer and not even one call for an interview. We finally understood what the Lord had been trying to show us for so long…our home was not going to be in Ohio. We now knew it, a little too late.
Stay tuned for part 2….
Today is Wednesday, meaning that my post is up over at The Company Front Porch. This week I shared a what I think is a neat idea to encourage your family to list all the things they are thankful for so I hope you’ll take 30 seconds and hop on over to take a peek at our ongoing project.
How do you encourage your children to express thankfulness?
Allow me to introduce, The Write Foundation, a homeschooling intensive writing program developed to engage reluctant writers as well as fine tuning the skills of average writers.
What the program is:
The Write Foundation offers three complete writing programs; Level 1: Sentence Writing, Level 2:Paragraph Writing and Level 3: Essay Writing. You’ll find guidelines here that can assist you in determining what level will be the best starting point for your child.
When offered to review the program, I chose Level 2: Paragraph Writing which is geared towards 12 –15 year olds that I am using with all three of my children who are between the ages of 14 – 17.
The complete program contains a spiral bound teacher’s manual, one set of student worksheets and a CD with additional resources that are helpful to understanding and making the most of the course.
Cost for the course begins at $65 plus tax and shipping for lessons 1-15 or $100 plus tax and shipping for the entire 30 lesson course. Individual components of The Write Foundation programs are also available on their website for purchase.
To use the program successfully, each student will need a copy of Mind Benders A1, A2, A3 and A4, a set of worksheets (which can be reproduced within the original purchasers’ family), a 3-ring binder, loose leaf paper, highlighters in six colors, and access to a thesaurus and dictionary.
What I thought of the program:
According to the website, The Write Foundation is designed as a grab-it-and-go curriculum assuming that you, the teacher, can spend one to two hours familiarizing yourself with the program prior to using it with your students. I must disagree on this point. Personally, I did not find the curriculum to be user friendly or clear on the process explaining how to implement it in your home. Between you and me, I found the program very confusing. So much so that I became frustrated and it sat on my shelf until I had more time to review it.
After several weeks of picking it up and running into the same roadblock, I finally decided to jump in and begin using the program for fear that I would run out of time and not be able to offer a fair review. I was amazed what happened next. Armed with the worksheets and highlighters I sat down at the table and decided to work through the first lesson on my own. It finally made sense. I felt like the time I’d spent ‘trying’ to figure it out was a waste. I should have bit the bullet and not focused so much on understanding the program in and out and jumped in sooner, but that is completely contrary to my nature.
A tip or two:
The author of The Write Foundation, Rebecca Celsor, a seasoned homeschool mom, recommends that you read the program Introduction through its entirety before you attempt to begin the program. I wholeheartedly agree.
Before diving into the lesson for the week, I’d suggest that you locate the lesson plans or Paragraph Assignments, as they are called, which are found after the instruction pages for the first lesson. This arrangement didn’t make sense to me. Preferably, the weekly lesson page would be found prior to all the nitty gritty on how to teach the lesson. Discovering the weekly lesson plans, which I’d overlooked on several occasions really simplified the process. I guess you could say I was confused by the arrangement of the pages in the instruction manual.
Part of the confusion with this program is that it is not written exclusively to the homeschool parent, but also to a teacher in a classroom setting. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but in this instance it took me a little bit to realize that the author was not always “talking” to me. This was easily remedied by adding Post-its to the pages that are relevant to me as the homeschool teacher.
The developers of this program have given plenty of information at their website in order to help you decide if The Write Foundation is right for your child. Read through the introduction and check out the sample lesson plans here before you buy.
What I would LOVE to see:
I was excited to see that there is now a Yahoo group for The Write Foundation. Though it is in the very early stages, I think it could become a great resource for someone that has questions and a great place to share tips, success stories and updates when it comes to implementing and using the program.
I would really like to see this program in action. Possibly a YouTube video explaining a portion of a lesson would be incredibly helpful or even a podcast that walked you through the first lesson step- by-step.
Would I recommend this program?
Though I excelled in writing class in school, I do not feel competent teaching writing to my own children so clear step- by- step directions are very important to me. I do believe this program can and will teach them the nuts and bolts that they will need to become better writers while throwing in some grammar and spelling skills along the way.
As we have taken an unschooling approach to education the past couple years, my children have not taken a formal writing program other than creative writing, writing letters to friends and family and practicing copy work and dictation. I found this program was easy for them to adjust to without causing them to be frustrated (once I understood how to teach it). We will continue to work through the remaining lessons.
We may not have gotten off to the best start with this program, but I do feel The Write Foundation will be a good fit for my family and has clearly filled a need.
I WILL recommend this program, but I do suggest that you allow plenty of time to learn how to teach it to your students.
You can stop by the TOS Crew Blog and see how this program worked for other families.
Just so you know, I received this program free of charge as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for offering an honest review. If you would like more information about program, or are interested in placing an order, you can find more information at The Write Foundation website.
My blog was nominated for the Best Blog Design Award in the 2010 Homeschool Blog Awards! Woo Hoo!
Anyway, I would be honored if you would take the time to vote for my blog in this category. You don’t have to register and it only takes a minute. Just follow this link, select Live the Adventure and click Submit. That’s it. Super easy.
If you nominated me or plan to vote for me, thank you so much!
And…if you are looking for a blog designer make sure you stop by Adori Graphics and check out what Louise and her team can put together for you! Not only is Louise the designer behind Live the Adventure, she has also been an online friend for over a year. I can wholeheartedly recommend her services, she is great to work with and I may be a little partial, but I just LOVE her work- don’t you?
Several of the blogs I write for have also been nominated in different categories including The Homeschool Classroom, On the Company Porch and The Homeschool Village for Best Group Blog. The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog was also nominated under the Best Curriculum or Business Blog.
Have you voted for your favorite blogs?
As part of the TOS Crew, I was thrilled to see one of my favorite companies, Bright Ideas Press listed as one of the companies that would be offering products for review. So I guess you could imagine my disappointment when I read the list of selected reviewers and my name was not to be found.
I consoled myself by deciding that I’d already used or owned all the Bright Ideas Press products that I was interested in. After all, we’ve owned and used The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide for years. I’d also used the Hands-On Geography book when the kids were younger and a few of the other products that they carry.
Several years ago, my husband had suggested that we give the Mystery of History a try but since my son was already past the 8th grade, I worried that it may be too young for them. However, after a friend recently invited us over for lunch and shared how she implements Mystery of History with her high school age children, I began to have second thoughts.
I didn’t go to lunch that day thinking that I needed a history program, but I was thinking it was time to make a few changes to our current homeschool lifestyle. At home I perused the Bright Ideas Press website and was thrilled to discover a high school level program that utilized Mystery of History and also combined Bible, Language Arts, Literature, Humanities, Geography and Life Skills. It is called Illuminations and it instantly appealed to me for several reasons.
Excitedly I showed my husband what I had discovered and within minutes he had handed me our debit card and told me to purchase the first semester by instant download so we could get started right away. I couldn’t be happier! It is with incredible excitement that the kids and I will once again incorporate a structured program as part of our school days and I can’t wait to share with all of you how the coming weeks progress.
How is your year going so far? Are you happy with the selections that you made or do you also feel that you need to make a change?
It seems as though I’ve forgotten what a typical week looks like or maybe it’s because we’re struggling to find a “new normal”.
Monday I thought we’d found it because the week began perfectly. We met with our co-op for a great hike and a simple wood burning project. On the way home we stopped to visit some of our ‘grandpa’s’ from the campground we’d stayed at before settling down into our home.
I was surprised on Tuesday by how badly our day went when Monday couldn’t have been any better. I’ve homeschooled long enough to know that there are highs and LOWS but I must have been overly hormonal because my husband could tell that I was truly upset, even before I opened my mouth and voiced my concerns.
My husband has been my biggest cheerleader and I could not ask for a more encouraging husband. He supports our homeschooling endeavors 100% and has always listened to my concerns and set me on the right path time and time again. Sometimes he tells me things I don’t want to hear, that we need to stay home more, that we need to be more consistent, that I’m making a big deal out of nothing but I know he always has our best interests in mind, for me and the kids, and for that I am truly grateful. By the time our conversation was through, I was anticipating a new day.
Wednesday found us at home plugging away. The kids read their assigned reading and completed their math. We watched a sermon on dating from the Mars Hill Pastor, Mark Driscoll, that my husband and I had watched several weeks ago and thought was particularly appropriate for our children. We’ve always encouraged them to think of courtship instead of dating but now that they are older we’re not entirely sure what that should look like. We personally feel that dating comes with many dangers which we speak openly and honestly about with our kids. The sermon prompted some great conversation.
Thursday we continued our studies without anything extraordinary taking place.
Friday is normally the day that I do many of my errands but today it just seemed as though everything snowballed on me. I left early in the morning to meet my husband and drop my oldest son off to work and one thing led to another. We spent the afternoon socializing with friends and this evening the kids took their first ballroom dancing lesson. They loved it and can’t wait until next week. Just one more way for us unsocialized homeschoolers to ‘get socialized’. Ha!
Next week we’ll be getting started on a new program, something with a bit more structure and I’m so excited! I can’t wait until next week to share with you how things are going.
Make sure to stop by Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what the week has looked like for other families.
Two weeks ago my children and I woke up early in the morning and drove nearly three hours away for a field trip to SIFAT (pronounced SEE-Fat) to experience an adventure in their global village.
Though I’d been excited to sign up, as the day approached, I was a little apprehensive that maybe the experience wouldn’t be worth the trip. I needn’t have worried, it turns out that this outing was absolutely incredible.
SIFAT, or Servants in Faith and Technology, operates as a Christian international, nonprofit organization that provide training to people from all over the world in simple, practical methods to better meet the basic needs (water, food, shelter) of their country by incorporating modern technologies. Though that may sound pretty complex it could be as simple as teaching participants from Haiti how to purify water using a car battery and salt.
We traveled to parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America without leaving the campus. Believe me when I tell you it was an eye opening experience for a family that has only dreamed of serving in the mission field.
Our first stop was to Uganda where we entered a waddle and daub home. In Uganda, manure would have been added to the mixture as a filler to give the walls some shine. The one room structure is designed for shelter only, having no electricity or running water. Uganda is very poor and living there requires a lot of work. Children begin working at the age of three, often carrying water from the water source back to their homes or tending to the animals as they graze. It is a hard life.
The structures are made with any found material that will provide relief from the heat, cold and elements. The interiors contained old broken furniture, wood pallets or even boxes to sleep on. I was reminded of how fortunate we are to have a roof over our head.
A volunteer demonstrated three ways to purify water. One method utilized water, salt and a car battery to create a chemical reaction that makes chlorine which will clean the water. Another method consists of filtering water through layers of sand and various sized gravel while the simplest method is leaving water filled plastic bottles in the sun on a bright sunny day for about six hours. The UV rays will go through the plastic killing 98% of organisms.
Soberly, we moved on to Bolivia, which was perhaps my favorite stop in the entire village. The Bolivians in the Southern part of the country live in rock houses with thatched roofs at an elevation of 14,000 feet in the Andes Mountains. The Bolivian people are small in stature because they lack protein in their diets. Potatoes are a staple crop, but the uneven, mountainous terrain makes it difficult to raise livestock. This is remedied by raising guinea pigs. Since there is no refrigeration, this small creature is just the right size meal for a family with no leftovers.
SIFAT is showing the people of Bolivia how to identify additional sources of protein in the form of green leafy vegetables such as winter wheat and quail grass which can be dried, crushed and substituted for flour in bread, tortillas and pasta. This will give the children the proper vitamins that they need to grow strong and healthy. The women have even learned to substitute the “green” mixture to make cookies and other treats for their families.
Guatemala was a special treat and we were served homemade tortillas, bean and salsa. Tortillas are served with almost every meal and are made specifically when needed, not in advance which contributes to the 11 1/2 hours every day that the women work to care for their home and families. Have you ever thought of the work that goes into making a tortilla? First, the corn must be grown, tended to, harvested and dried until the kernels are very hard. Next, the kernels are removed and boiled in lime water and ash. Somewhere along the way the outer shell is removed to leave the inside, or hominy, which is then dried and ground to the consistency of flour. I’m probably missing a couple steps, all I could think of is how easy it is for me to go to the grocery store and buy what I need. There is so much that I take for granted.
During our lunch break we were able to listen to three international participants in the program.
After lunch the kids were able to climb across the rope bridge which is typical to what the people in the Andes region of Bolivia would use. They had fun here and though at first I thought I’d go across, I was too busy snapping pictures. I also met another blogger mom, Tiffany from Sweet Phenomena. I was excited to meet someone in real life that enjoys blogging as much as I do. You’ll have to stop by and read some of the field trips she’s taken with her daughter.
Our journey continued to the Philippines where the homes are constructed of bamboo. Did you know that there are 7,000 islands in the Philippines but only 1,000 are inhabited because the others are under water?
Next, it was time to get dirty! The kids learned how to make bricks that will be used to make fuel efficient cook stoves. The stoves will reduce the amount of smoke that is inhaled because continual smoke inhalation is a leading cause of death to women and children in these poor, underdeveloped nations.
We wrapped up our tour with stops at Liberia and Nigeria. The authentic Nigerian home was recently completed by a Nigerian man who was participating in the SIFAT program. Recognize those bricks?
This was an incredible field trip that heightened our awareness for all the things that we take for granted. I expect to wake up in the morning in a warm or cool home, depending on the season. Preparing food for my family is as simple as turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. I don’t have to walk miles to get a bucket of water that could contain parasites that would make my family deathly ill. I don’t even have to boil that water to warm it because it comes out of our faucet hot. I don’t have to work for 11 1/2 hours of the day tending to the basic needs of my family and yet sometimes I’m ungrateful and don’t feel like vacuuming or washing another load of laundry.
SIFAT has gone to great lengths to create an environment to simulate what it would be like to actually spend time in a third world country and they have done a great job. The kids and I left humbled and aware that beyond this great country of ours lies a world in need.
If you are within a short drive to Lineville, Alabama, I highly recommend this field trip to SIFAT. There are several programs available, including an overnight experience. SIFAT can be contacted at (256) 396-2015 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find SIFAT on Facebook.
Until next month…Happy Field Trippin’!
It’s easy to participate in Field Trip Friday. If you are stopping by or linking up for the first time, you may want to take a peek at the guidelines here.
The next edition of Field Trip Friday will be the first Friday in December.
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Veteran’s Day is just around the corner. How do you show the Veteran’s in your life that you appreciate them and the sacrifices they have made for our country and the freedoms we enjoy? Here is a teaser from a post I wrote for this week’s article at the Homeschool Blogger’s Company Front Porch, I hope that you’ll stop by and check it out.
I have a confession. Until the past few years, I’ve not really thought much about Veteran’s Day. Terrible. I know. It’s not that I didn’t teach my children that it is an important day, I’ve tried to tell them about the men and women that have served our country, past and present. It just didn’t mean much because personally, other than my grandfather who passed away eight years ago, I didn’t really know anyone who had served in our military and sometimes I tend to take our freedoms for granted.
My grandfather spent WWII stationed on a boat in the Pacific, he never, ever talked about his experience in the Navy. Frankly, it seemed as though he didn’t want to be reminded of that time in his past when he was a young man. I guess I grew up thinking that it was better not to mention a Veteran’s service, as though they had somehow forgotten the time they’d served and by my mere mention they would somehow be reminded of a nightmare they were trying to forget. I learned to tip toe around the subject as though it were somehow a dark secret or something dishonorable.
You can read the rest of my article, Two Simple Words at The Company Front Porch.
How will you spend Veteran’s Day?