Monday, February 28, 2011

Cathedral Caverns in Alabama

I haven’t had a chance to visit all the caverns in Alabama—but I’m pretty sure that when I do they won’t compare to Cathedral Caverns which is located in Woodville, about 35 miles east of Huntsville.

Offering guided tours which focus on the history of the cave, Cathedral Caverns was the brain child of Jay Gurley who bought the property in 1952 and set to work preparing the cave for public tours which cost a total of 25 cents!

Originally called the Bat Cave, the name was changed when Gurley’s wife saw the beautiful stalagmite, stalactite and other cave formations and exclaimed that it looked like a cathedral.

Cathedral Caverns in Alabama

The cavern changed hands several times over the years before it was purchased by the state of Alabama in the 1980’s and improved the cave by installing lighting and cement walkways. The cave reopened for tours in 2000 and today welcome visitors from around the world.

At 25 feet tall and 128 feet wide, Cathedral Caverns claims to have the widest entrance of any commercially operated cave in the world.

Entrance to Cathedral Caverns

Cathedral Caverns is also home to the largest stalagmite in the world. Known as “Goliath"--it measures 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumstance.

Goliath- the largest stalagmite in the world

You’ll also see the largest flow stone wall, the frozen waterfall at Cathedral Caverns, which is 32 feet tall and 135 feet long.

Frozen waterfall in Cathedral Caverns

Though we found all of those features interesting, we loved the Cathedral Forest. You can see a few shots of the amazing cave formations towards the end of this short video.

The cave stays around 61 degrees year round so make sure you pack a light sweatshirt and wear comfortable walking shoes. You’ll walk just short of 1 1/2 miles round trip on your 1 1/2 hour long tour. The path is paved and nearly 8 feet wide, with a few inclines and descents along the way. A few spots aren’t that well lit so if you think you’ll have a difficult time, make sure you stay close to the tour guide or pack a small flashlight.

The cave is very open, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in tight places and most people on the tour should have plenty of head room, with the exception of one or two spots where the very tall should pay close attention.

For those of you that are interested in movie trivia, Disney’s 1990’s Tom and Huck was also shot in the cavern.

If you are looking for adventure, Cathedral Caverns has recently began offering a “Wild Cave” experience for ages 12 and up. You can call Cathedral Caverns directly for additional information at 256-728-8193.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Cathedral Caverns State Park is open year round. You can find their current prices, tour schedule and directions to the park at their website.

637 Cave Rd. Woodville, AL 35776 256-789-8193

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal- Week 6

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal meme is hosted by Sue a.k.a. The Homeschool Chick. You can click the link or the button below to see how you can participate or to read other link ups.  

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

I’ve seen several examples of answered prayer. God is so good!

Places we’re going & people we’re seeing…

Unlike some parts of the country, we’re experiencing spring- like weather. It was nearly 70 today!

I was so excited to notice the buds on several trees appear within the past two days. With such beautiful weather we really couldn’t stay inside, now could we?  We visited with some homeschooling friends early in the week and went on two field trips to learn about Alabama state history—our preferred method of learning.  Who says you need a textbook to learn?  

My favorite thing this week…

Our field trip to the Constitution Village which we agreed was one of our favorite field trips this year.

What’s working/not working for us…

We didn’t spend a lot of time at home this week which makes it a bit hard to accomplish much, however, I have a feeling that the rising gas prices are going to hinder some of our running around. Plus, the forecast is predicting rain…and lots of it.   

Homeschool questions/thoughts that I have…

It’s been a good week. I love homeschooling,  field trips and watching my kids grow and express their own individuality. Even if it does mean that they have blue hair or a mohawks. You probably think I’m kidding about their hair style choices. I’m not. I just hope we don’t frighten away the entire homeschool community!

A photo, video, link or quote to share…


Sporting the new “do’s”. 

I actually told my 15 year old that if he was going to have a mohawk, he had to make an effort to smile more so people didn’t think he had a bad attitude.

I’m just curious. If you have teenagers, how do your teenagers express themselves?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Deep Fried Peanuts: A Southern Delicacy?

Since moving to the South, I’ve noticed a few items on the shelves at the grocery store that one normally doesn’t encounter in the Northern States.  Items like Boiled Peanuts, Muscadines, Chit’lins, Gumbo, Jambalaya and Grapico are all items that were once (and some are still) unfamiliar to me.

Recently I encountered a bag of Deep Fried Peanuts that claim to be so good you could eat them ‘shell and all’. Hmmm…since my husband loves peanuts, I decided to pick up a bag.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat the entire shell but there was someone in our house that thought he’d give it a try. And no it wasn’t my husband. Here’s a hint…

   ohio trip 001

Does he look guilty to you?

We arrived home after church to discover nearly an entire bag of Deep Fried Peanuts scattered all over the living room floor. I guess that’s what we get for leaving the bag in reach of the dog?

It seems that he liked them better than the rest of us, even if he did seem to mope around a bit later in the day.

I have no idea what fresh Deep Fried Peanuts would taste like, but imagine that they’d be quite a bit better  than the bagged version we tried that I thought were a bit too greasy.

Peanuts + Grease = a bad combination (in my humble opinion, of course).

So, what kind of delicacies (delicious or not) do you have in your neck of the woods that may not be found in other corners of our world?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meal Planning and Preparation in Hotel Rooms

This post was written before we purchased our motor home as I adjusted to cooking for a family of five while staying for extended periods of time in a hotel room.

Affordable meal planning on the road has been one of my biggest challenges.  Of course, if you're planning a quick field trip, weekend getaway or a short vacation, to avoid eating out, you could pack PB & J sandwiches with apples, maybe your choice of lunch meat with chips or pretzels or easy snacks like crackers and cheese,  and if there are enough pennies in your budget, maybe you'd even enjoy a meal out somewhere different once in a while. Chances are, by the time your trip was over, you may be getting sick of the easy, convenient foods, but you'd survive.  But for an extended stay, believe me when I say that it won't take too long before you'll long for a home cooked meal.

What happens when you are going to be somewhere for an extended length of time, money is tight and you don't have a lot left over for food?  And to add to the dilemma, you don't have access to a kitchen or even a microwave or refrigerator?  What then?  Well to help us overcome this problem, I always pack what I like to call 'a kitchen in a box'. 

My makeshift kitchen includes my crockpot, toaster oven and cooler. I've learned to cook many, many meals in my crockpot. The problem is finding meals that are very inexpensive when we don't have a lot of money.  I love the websites and e-books that claim to create an entire meal for a family for under $5 but as hard as I try, I've been hard pressed to actually pull that feat off.  Even though I've learned to use coupons and shop sales, living in the hotel room, I'm limited on storage space so I'm not able to stock up when I find a 'great deal'.  And with 5 people in our family and two of those being growing teenage boys, the promise of creating all our meals for under $5 has eluded me.  But that hasn't stopped me from trying.   So, I thought I'd give you an idea of a few recipes that we enjoy while on the road and share with you the cheapest meals I've come up with so far.  

One particular recipe that we have enjoyed that is really inexpensive uses Ramen Noodles. In my crockpot (on high heat), I simply crush up 5 packets of chicken flavored noodles, add hot tap water (if the water's not hot enough in the hotel, I can heat it in the coffee maker), add the seasoning mix and add in 2 cans of corn.  The 'soup' will heat fairly quickly (30 min. or so) and is ready to eat. At a total cost of approx. $1.74, it's very budget friendly and makes enough for the fellows to have seconds if desired. I wouldn't want to eat this everyday, but it is quick, easy and requires no prep work. I normally prepare a tossed salad with croutons to eat with the soup.  While looking for inexpensive meals, I ran across this website that lists meal ideas for the Ramen Noodles .

Another inexpensive meal I've found is to cut up about 8-10 large potatoes in cubes, add 3 cans of cut green beans (don't drain) and 1 pkg of Turkey Smoked Sausage cut up in pieces.  Add the ingredients to your crockpot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.  Serve with salad and/or buttered French bread.  If you need to make more, simply add more beans and potatoes.

For about $8, I'll heat a few cans of canned beef stew in my crockpot and cook Pillsbury biscuits in the toaster oven. This is great for cooler days.

Another quick and easy meal is to serve baked potatoes with your choice of toppings.  Wash & dry the potatoes, wrap in aluminum foil and place in the crockpot on low for 8-10 hours.  Sometimes the potatoes are a meal in themselves, sometimes I'll add a salad or a quick dessert. 

How about Crockpot Ravioli, Chili or Crockpot Pizza? And of course, who could ever pass up a delicious roast with potatoes and carrots?  It may not necessarily be budget friendly, but it certainly tastes good. 


Crockpot Ravioli- 1 pkg of frozen ravioli, 1 large jar of spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese.  Pour a bit of sauce on the bottom of your crockpot, add the ravioli, cover with the remaining sauce, top with mozzarella cheese. Cook on high for about 2- 2 1/2 hours. I also serve this with a quick tossed salad and garlic bread cooked in the toaster oven.

Crockpot Pizza- This seems to be a hit with the kids.  I use Mostaccioli noodles, but I'm sure you could use whatever type you prefer.  Pour a bit of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the crockpot, add a layer of noodles (uncooked) with your choice of toppings - we use pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers- top with cheese and continue layers until all your ingredients are gone.  Be sure to cover the noodles entirely with the spaghetti sauce so they will cook properly. Cook on high for about 3 hours.  Of course, we also add a salad and bread to this meal as well.

Roast with Potatoes and Carrots- This is our favorite crockpot meal.  Simply cube your potatoes and carrots and add to the crockpot with your roast.  I like to add 1 pkg. of dry onion soup mix and 1 can of cream of mushroom soup for flavoring. Cook on high for most of the day. Great, easy recipe! 

These may not be gourmet meals, but they are fairly easy to prepare in the hotel room. 

What’s your favorite crockpot meal that’s easy enough to prepare on the road?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who Loves Tinkerbell?

poppy & petuniaPoppy and Petunia has featured one of my Etsy shop designs for their 10 Days to Disney contest where they feature hand crafted items with a Disney theme. The featured item with the most comments at the end of the 10 days will receive a gift from Poppy and Petunia’s trip to Disneyland. 

I’d love for you to head on over and take a peek at my Treasured Tinkerbell Necklace and if you feel so inclined, I wouldn’t be disappointed if you left a kind comment either. :)     

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal- Week 5


The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...

I’ve been playing hostess and tour guide to my parents who finally arrived from Ohio! I can’t begin to tell you how excited the kids and I were to have them here with us for five days! We had such a wonderful time  and I can’t imagine how it could have been any better. 

In our homeschool this week...

To be honest, since this was a special week,  we pretty much blew off school or  textbooks anyway.  Just try to make me feel guilty. Ain’t gonna happen. *grin*

I did get a couple new products to review that I am extremely excited about that we began working on late in the week. I can’t wait to share them with you but for now, mum’s the word.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

We had a fun Valentine’s Party with some of our homeschool friends. The kids went bowling and had a few moments that they were pretty pleased with themselves, as you can see from the picture. 

wheeler wildlife refuge with mom and dad 045

They were asked to exchange Valentine’s and candy. My kids were all for the candy and though they’d decided that Valentine’s were creepy, at the last minute we stopped to pick some up. 

As is our normal routine, we have a couple field trips scheduled this coming week and a really fun one the first week of March that will be taking us to Atlanta. Woo Hoo! I can’t wait to tell you about that experience!  

My favorite thing this week was...

Without a doubt, having my parents visit for the week. 

What's working/not working for us...

Last fall I had the opportunity to review Aleks, an online math program. My 15 year old enjoyed it so much that we’ve continued with the program. This is the first math program that he is excited to use  which means that I absolutely love it.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

This was one of those weeks that I’ve really appreciated the flexibility that we have as a homeschool family.  My children didn’t miss a minute of their grandparent’s visit—something my parents really enjoyed. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

When I found out that my mom and dad were going to visit, I wanted to show them all the reasons that we have grown to love Alabama. This short video I took shows one of those places, High Falls Park in DeKalb Co. located in Northeastern Alabama. 

I think you can see why this gem made it on my list.

You can see how the past week turned out for other homeschool moms or join Sue in participating in the Homeschool Mother’s Journal at The Homeschool Chick.  

Until next week~ Happy Homeschooling!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This past weekend, we visited a historic hardware store and look what my boys found….a Jack-in-the-Box! Everyone loves a jack-in-the-box….  

 random trips 183

or not…

random trips 184

Just check out the look on their faces! I couldn’t help but laugh!

Friday, February 11, 2011

And the Winner is…

Congratulations to Jenilee who blogs at The Goodwin Family who answered my question of  “What do you consider the hardest part about homeschooling?” with this:


Jenilee, you are so right! Staying focused is so hard, but so worth it! I hope that you’re encouraged by the Expo to Go package that you’ve won,  courtesy of  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and The Schoolhouse Expo

The Schoolhouse Expo will be held online May 16th- 20th and offers a line-up of great speakers, free gifts, door prizes, and access to the recordings of the Expo at a later date so you don’t miss a thing!   Tickets are on sale at The Schoolhouse Expo website now.      

*The winner was selected using



The Curiosity Files™ E-book: The Dung Beetle

cf files

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has recently launched a new product line called The Curiosity Files™ where you join Professor Ana Lyze in exploring some of God’s amazing creatures that are a bit on the unusual side.  Zombie Fire Ants, Cicada Killing Machine, and Quicksand are just a few of the titles that I considered putting my request in to review, but I managed to narrow down my choice to the Dung Beetle.

I don’t remember ever seeing a Dung Beetle until we were camped in Alabama for the first time.  My boys had taken our puppy for a walk and excitedly returned to our RV showing me the pictures of the ‘cool bugs’ they’d seen—of which the Dung Beetle was one.  I couldn’t believe it! I had to go out and find one myself. It didn’t take long, just a short way down the trail, we found a little bug pushing along a huge ball of dung.

After that, how could I pass up the opportunity to dig a little deeper? I have to admit, since the e-books are targeted for 8-13 year olds, I really thought they’d be too young for my teenagers, but the information they contained I found to be appealing to both younger and older children- especially if your older children just need a brief change of pace or your younger children want to listen in with the big guys.

Professor Ana Lyze takes you on a journey to discover the world of the Dung Beetle while sharing interesting facts and observations. The first few pages tell you about the Dung Beetle, followed by a short quiz to determine how close your child was paying attention. From there, you’ll find bible memory verses, copywork pages, vocabulary lists divided between elementary and jr. high/high school levels, math, literature, history, notebook pages, lapbook pages, coloring pages, craft ideas and even a lab that includes growing your own dung beetle farm.


The Dung Beetle is a really cute and fun short unit study and I’m glad I didn’t let the age range deter me from checking out this series—though I do feel that many of the activities were a bit young for my kids.  However, the e-book contains some great information, it’s informative and humorous, not to mention it talks a lot about poop- something kids seem to love hearing about.       

9 cf You can view a sample of the Dung Beetle here and if you determine that The Curiosity Files™ are a good fit for your family, check out the package deal—you can get  all 9 Curiosity Files ™ e-books, The Blue Diamond, Dung Beetle, MRSA, Puffer Fish, Red Tide, Zombie Fire Ants, Blue-Footed Boobie, Cicada Killing Wasp and Quicksand for instant download for only $46.00. The bundle is also available on CD.      

You can read what other TOS Crew Members thought of  The Curiosity Files™ at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

*I received this product free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of the product with my readers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SPACES Bienniel Sculpture Trail: Huntsville, Alabama

spaces5Recently, while  driving through downtown, I noticed something new.  Someone had erected some pretty cool sculptures and I couldn’t resist stopping to take a closer look. It turns out the pieces are part of a sculpture trail, a collection of 28 pieces from 15 accomplished artists on display at six different locations around Huntsville, Alabama.  

Modeled similarly to Chattanooga, Tennessee’s sculpture trail and public art, SPACES Bienniel  Sculpture Trail will be on display until August 2012.  Installations are located Downtown on the Square, at the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Von Braun Center, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Center and the campuses of  UAHuntsville, and Alabama  A & M University.

Brochures are available at the Huntsville/Madison County Convention Center with maps of the sculpture trail also available for download at the Spaces website. 

There is a GPS tour and a Cell Phone Tour available which you can access by calling 256-489-2088 and entering the number of the sculpture. 

Here are some of the sculptures we saw downtown:


Soft 2 


Celestial Motion




And my personal favorite:  

…and this is hope (#1 and #2)

Created by internationally known artist and sculptor, Charles Brouwer, this piece is constructed out of locust wood, a hard wood that holds up to the elements. His sculpture symbolizes the hope that he finds in families that rise to the challenge of raising children in today’s world.

I can’t wait for a nice day so the kids and I can get out of the house and and appreciate some more incredible works of art.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Week on the HSB Front Porch and a Giveaway

Did you know that the first week of February is Authors and Illustrators Week? That’s why the writers at The Homeschool Bloggers Company Front Porch are sharing their favorite authors and illustrators.  You can look for my post of my children’s favorite picture books and I hope you’ll share some of your favorite picture books too.

Did you realize that I am giving away an Expo to Go package from the fall  Schoolhouse Expo? There are some great speakers, like Todd Wilson, Diana Waring and John Taylor Gatto. It’s easy to enter the contest. Go to this post, Who Needs Some Encouragement, and leave a comment telling me what you think is the hardest part about homeschooling. For our family, right now I’d have to say staying on track!  Hurry over, the contest ends tomorrow and a winner will be selected and announced on Friday.

Today is also the last day to purchase the Schoolhouse Expo tickets at the Early Bird Discount.

Monday, February 7, 2011

VocabAhead One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos & MP3’s-- A Review


VocabAhead offers tools to help students build their vocabulary so they are better able to master the SAT, GRE and ACT words on college entrance exams. In addition to an incredible website, they also offer a book and a DVD-Rom, which I received to review.  

The DVD-Rom, VocabAhead One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos & MP3’s, contains more than 1,000 SAT Vocabulary Words that are introduced as cartoon pictures for visual learners. The DVD-Rom also has MP3 audio files that your student can listen to on their MP3 player. The videos can be accessed on your computer, with a DVD-Rom, or added to your child’s iPod, iPhone or iPad.

One way that we used this product was to listen to the definition of the word a couple times and then my kids were required to work the word into sentences throughout the day. I have to tell you that some of the words aren’t common. Try to work accouter or legerdemain into your everyday conversation!    

I also encouraged my kids to begin a vocabulary notebook, jotting down their vocabulary word of the day and using it in several sentences. This worked okay for a little while. Unfortunately,  my computer is on it’s last leg and though initially we were able to see the videos, shortly after I received my review copy, my DVD-Rom quit working so we really didn’t utilize this product as much as I’d hoped and the notebooks kind of fell by the way.  

You can learn more about VocabAhead and their products by visiting their website.   The DVD-Rom that sells for $24.95 is available for purchase through Minimum system requirements are as follows:  Windows:  XP, Vista or 7.  Macintosh: MAC OSX. iTunes 8 or above. 512 MB RAM, Sound Card, 4.7 GB Free Disk Space and don’t forget the working DVD-Rom! A Compatible MP3 player for portable use.   

I encourage you to visit The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew website to learn how other crew members used this product in their homes.  

*I received this product free of charge in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.

Woo Hoo! My Etsy Shop Name is Chosen!

Last week I sent a plea out to my readers asking you to help me name my upcoming Etsy shop. I was blown away by the response! Honestly, based on my experience with contests and giveaways, I expected to have maybe five or six entries. Instead, I received 33 name ideas here on my blog, one on Facebook, and yet more from some of my friends via e-mail! My “easy” decision suddenly became Incredibly difficult!

So, I began the process of elimination—did I tell you this was hard? First, I went through the names and determined which ones were already in use on Etsy. Next, I went through the remaining names to see if the name was available as a domain, in case I decide I’d like to eventually buy the website. Finally, I asked for my family’s opinion. I even called my mom in Ohio and ran the names by her. There was one name that everyone really liked and for branding purposes, it fits. 

Without further delay…. the name of my soon- to- open Etsy shop will be… 


Thank you to Dana, a full-time RVing mom who is currently living in a fifth wheel with her family of 13, exploring the US one state at a time.  I hope you stop over at her blog, at Our Traveling Tribe to read about some of their many adventures.

Dana will have her choice of one item from my Etsy store. But to let you all know how much I appreciate your thoughts and ideas, everyone that submitted a name will receive a coupon for 50% one item.

Thank you all! You gals are one very creative bunch!

Homeschool moms, don’t miss my latest giveaway from The Schoolhouse Expo- a Expo to Go prize pack.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Needs Some Encouragement?

This is the time of year that I begin to loose focus on what I’m trying to accomplish by teaching my children at home. I begin to worry about a number of things.

  • Are we where I thought we’d be at this point in our year?
  • Are we getting enough school work completed?
  • Is our curriculum working for us?
  • Should I be doing things differently?
  • Is homeschooling really the right thing for my family?

Yes, even though this is our 12th year in the trenches, I still second guess myself. I still wonder, what if… should I….what about….

It’s times like this, when the winter doldrums set in that I desperately need some encouragement. I need to hear from those who have gone before, or those that are right there with me, to cheer me on and convince me that yes, homeschooling is the right option, you can do this and you’ve come so far!

That’s why I am so excited about The Schoolhouse Expo, an encouraging, fun and informative online homeschool convention presented from a Christian perspective and brought to you by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

The convention will be held May 16-20 and includes an incredible line-up of speakers including some of my favorites;  Diana Waring, Dianne Craft,  Carol Barnier,  Norm Wakefield and many more.   There’ are even special tracks  that teenagers and entrepreneurs will enjoy!

As much as I love to go to conventions, the fact that The Schoolhouse Expo comes directly to me, in my home,  is a huge plus. It doesn’t require me to spend a large amount for admission, drive to the event or even get dressed if I don’t want to! And as a bonus, each ticket includes free MP3 downloads, or the Expo to Go as it’s called,  of every session from the conference so you can listen to your favorites over and over again, every time  you really need that little bit of encouragement. 

All ticket holders will receive goodie bags valued at over $200, you just log in to your account and download all your goodies!  There will also be fun door prizes throughout the conference--  you’ll even have an opportunity to win one of my unique jewelry creations

Right now, until February 9th, you can purchase a ticket to the entire event for only $19.50 with the special Early Bird price . Not only will you  receive your goodie bag valued at over $200, but you’ll also receive additional bonus gifts too!  Prices will increase on the 10th to $29 (minus the bonus gifts) and again to the full cost of $39.99 on February 27th.

Are you interested? I am, and I hope that you’ll decide to join me once again for The Schoolhouse Expo, so don’t forget to buy your ticket to The Schoolhouse Expo before the price goes up!

Now it’s time for a giveaway just for my readers!  Thanks to The Schoolhouse Expo for offering one of my readers the opportunity to win an Expo to Go package from the Expo held last October-- 24 sessions from some of the best known names in homeschooling-- including John Taylor Gatto!

How do you enter? It’s easy.

Mandatory- Leave me a comment telling me what you think is the hardest aspect of homeschooling.

You can increase your chances of winning by: 

That’s five chances for you to win! And so I can keep it all straight, please leave a separate comment for each action that you take. You have until Thursday, February 10th at midnight CST to enter for a chance to win the October 2010 Expo to Go package, valued at $19.99. A winner will be selected at random next Friday, February 11th and announced here at Live the Adventure and through email so make sure that you leave your email address if it’s not already linked to your comment.     

Now, who needs some encouragement?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal- Week 3

Do you need some encouragement? Check out my giveaway.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

I’ve been busy learning the art of couponing.  After watching an episode of Extreme Couponing, my husband is convinced that I should be able to acquire all of our groceries and personal care items at little to no out of pocket cost. Clearly, couponing is not as easy as that or everyone would do it. However, I have couponed in the past and was doing really well when we began traveling with my husbands job. Let me say that stocking up when you live in a motor home is easier said than done.

In our homeschool this week…

We’ve not been very diligent. My boys each worked together two full days which left just my daughter and I at home. It doesn’t take long for her to complete her assigned work, so we spent our afternoons visiting some of the thrift stores in our area. We found some amazing quilt pieces so we are beginning  a quilting project. Sewing is not my thing so I’m really hoping that I can be a good example and see this project through to completion.

Since our visit to Narnia: The Exhibit, we’ve been fascinated with the works of C.S. Lewis once again. I rented a movie from Netflix, The Life and Faith of C.S. Lewis, that we watched and enjoyed. It also discussed his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d found a book called The Tolkien Companion by J.E.A. Tyler which I presented to my oldest son and he’s been reading it every spare moment.

My 15- year old is still focused on training for boot camp and has visited the gym every day this week and is thrilled with his progress.      

Places we’re going & people we’re seeing…

My parent’s will be visiting from Ohio next weekend and I’m busy planning some sight seeing excursions while they’re here. We’re all looking forward to showing them around Alabama- we just hope that the snow lets up in Ohio so they can actually drive here!

What’s working/not working for us…

I received two products this week to review that I am absolutely thrilled with, a bible/worldview curriculum  and an art program. You’ll hear more about these products in the weeks to come. 

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Now that my boys are working more, I’m trying to figure out how to schedule our days. It’s been a challenge since they don’t really have a set work schedule. They work for my husband and he doesn’t typically know too far in advance when he will need them. So far we kind of take it day by day. 

A photo to share…

smashed penny souvenir jewelry 4

Check out my newest adventure….I’m planning to open an Etsy store next week featuring my unique penny jewelry. I’m also hosting a contest until Sunday night - if you’d like to help me choose a name, you can win any one item in the store when it launches.  

Hope you’ve had a great week! Happy Homeschooling!

Join The Homeschool Chick to see how the week has been for other homeschool moms.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Creation Museum: Field Trip Friday

I wrote this post last month, had it ready to go and somehow lost it. It’s nowhere to be found! Ughh…So bear with me. There is much more that I wanted to share with you, but until I find my notes, it’s just not going to happen.

My husband and I have longed to visit The Creation Museum with our family for years. Our regular trips to and from Ohio nearly take us right past it, and yet we’ve never found the time to stop. With our frequent trips up North coming less and less often, my husband decided that just after Christmas, on our way home to Alabama, we would finally make that visit.

I wish I could tell you that it was a great day from the start- but this was one of those stops that almost didn’t happen. We’d planned to arrive early. We overslept and after a nearly 3 hour drive, we arrived later than anticipated.

It was the middle of Christmas break and it was very crowded. Have I ever mentioned that we don’t like crowds? I know, that sounds entirely selfish to show up and expect to have the place to ourselves, but we are so used to off season travel, that we’ve just kind of gotten accustomed to the lack of people. So we stood in line and waited to purchase our tickets.

I’d really wanted to visit the planetarium but since we were already behind schedule, my husband said no. That made me unhappy because I’ve heard that the planetarium shows at The Creation Museum are incredible. I’m ashamed to admit that it wasn’t the kids or my husband that were being difficult- it was me.

Finally we paid for our tickets and proceeded along our self guided tour through the Walk Through Biblical History. The bulk of our time was spent exploring this exhibit which featured the 7 C’s of History. For those unfamiliar with The Creation Museum or Answers in Genesis, the 7 C’s stand for Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation- all showing Christ’s plan for redemption.       

The video below shows a very brief view of what we saw inside the museum.

I was astounded by how beautiful everything was. Somehow I’d expected things to be a bit “cheesy” –not at all like the stunning exhibits I saw, heard, smelled and experienced.  The museum was clearly well planned to the tiniest detail.

There were a couple areas that concerned me. The Corruption exhibit is pretty straightforward and clear cut, showing much of the trials, diseases and addictions that are present after the fall in black and white. As a parent, I was glad that my children are older because young children could be scared by the images of death and decay that are flashed before their eyes. 

Also, there was a child in front of us in line that was frightened by some of the dinosaurs, so if you have small children you may want to keep that in mind.

I appreciated that many of the exhibits were interactive. After we’d been there for a couple hours, my brain started to get a little fuzzy. You really need to allow an adequate amount of time to go through the museum and we just weren’t afforded that luxury on this trip.

The museum is clearly geared towards Christians, but I do think that non- believers could visit the museum and enjoy it  - especially if they have read the bible- which many people have, even if they only consider it to be great literature. I believe they would still find some merit in going.

If I could plan this visit over again, I’d allow more time. I’d buy that annual membership so we could pop in at The Creation Museum on all our trips to and from Ohio. I’d visit the planetarium. I’d explore the exhibits outside of the museum- though they were offering the free nativity that evening on the day we visited, we just didn’t have time to stick around. I guess it just boils down to this: There is a lot to see at The Creation Museum, make sure you allow yourself enough time to see it all.

We paid $124.75 in admission- without the planetarium. Would I pay that much again? In a heartbeat! It was so worth it- even if we weren’t able to spend as much time at the museum as possible.         

So, what did I think of The Creation Museum?

All I could think of was “I couldn’t  believe we had waited so long to visit!”  The Creation Museum is truly phenomenal. We loved it! All five of us! LOVED it!  To be honest, it didn’t even bother me that we’d missed the planetarium. My husband on the other hand, was just a wee bit disappointed that we didn’t meet Ken Ham- hmmm… maybe next time? 

Don’t forget, if you’d like to visit The Creation Museum and explore for yourself, they are offering an amazing deal to homeschool families this month.

So, where have you been for Field Trip Friday? You can add your link below and tell us all about it- if you’re unfamiliar with Field Trip Friday go here to read the guidelines.

Word Roots: A Review

word roots 1 We’ve utilized materials from Critical Thinking Press in our home for years. When my children were little they worked through Building Thinking Skills book 1 and 2,  Visual Perception Skill Building Book 1 and 2 and later, we discovered Mind Benders .  So I was thrilled when Timberdoodle offered me the opportunity to use and review yet another of their products. I was even permitted to select which product I’d like to use and chose Word Roots A2, designed for grades 5- 12+,  for my oldest son. Lately he’s expressed an interest in both the Latin and Greek languages so I thought this would be fun for him. Yes, you read that right, I did say fun.

One of the things I really appreciate about the materials from Critical Thinking Press  is that they are pretty basic, self explanatory and offer clear, easy to understand directions. I quickly read the introduction, removed the answer key from the back of the book (no peeking allowed here), offered my son a few simple explanations, handed him the book and he took over from there.  word roots 2

The 68- page workbook is written to the student to work from independently. Other than a question here and there, I didn’t really hear much from my son unless it was time for me to review his answers. 

After completing several warm-up activities, the student is able to jump right in to the worksheets which each focus on a particular root word. There are also corresponding extension worksheets if you find your child needs additional practice pages or just to use for further reinforcement. word roots 3 The back of the book also contains a dictionary of Greek and Latin prefixes, roots and suffixes, making the workbook completely self-contained. 

Studying Greek and Latin root words are a great place to begin if you want to further your vocabulary- why not consider starting with Word Roots?

Though I was asked only to review the Word Roots workbook, I’d like to add how impressed I am with Timberdoodle as a company. They have been one of my favorite resources for ordering homeschool supplies or homeschool curriculum since we began homeschooling 12 years ago. Even though I received this workbook free to review, it was shipped the same as though I were a paying customer, shrink wrapped on a sturdy piece of cardboard to ensure that my material wasn’t damaged in transit. I appreciate that added touch.

Though my son worked through one of the workbooks geared for students in grades 5 and up,  Word Roots are also available for students in 3-4 grade as well. Prices begin at $14.99.  You may visit their website to place an order or request a free homeschool catalog to view the other products that they carry. I think you’ll find something that you’ll like!  

Critical Thinking Press + Timberdoodle = a win win situation!

timberdoodle logo Legal Disclosure:
As a member of
Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

February is for the Birds, Field Trip Friday and a fun Contest Reminder


Today you’ll find me writing at the HSB Company Porch where I shared a few ideas to get you started on a bird study for the month of February. I hope you’ll pop on over and share some ideas of your own.

Just a reminder, Field Trip Friday is back tomorrow and I’ll be sharing our recent visit to The Creation Museum near Cincinnati with my first ever video from the Flip Video my kids bought me at Christmas. Be kind, it is my first attempt and didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped but I was so confident of my abilities that I didn’t take one picture! Boy did I learn my lesson- I’ll be sure to pack my camera next time! :)  Anyway, I hope that you’re planning to link up because I can’t wait to read about all the fun places you’ve been!

Don’t forget, you can help me name my Etsy shop and win any item of your choice when it opens next week. I’ve had so much fun reading the names that have been suggested! Thank you to everyone that has participated so far- you guys are so creative!  You can read more about the contest and how to participate here.   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Help me Name My Etsy Shop and Win a One of a Kind Piece of Jewelry



Smashed pennies. Squished pennies. Pressed Pennies. Flattened Pennies. Elongated pennies. It doesn’t matter what you call them, they’re all the same thing; souvenir pennies.  Several times, I’ve mentioned my affection for themIt doesn’t matter where  I go, if there is a penny smashing machine nearby, I know I’m going home with a pocket full of souvenir pennies.

Over the years, my dear family has learned to humor me, because I have to tell you, they’ve not understood my addiction  …until now. 

I love my souvenir pennies. Sometimes I add them to a scrapbook page, or turn them in to a magnet that hangs on the refrigerator but nine times out of ten, they get thrown into our treasure trunk along with all the mementos we collect on our trips, never to be seen again. Okay, well maybe that’s a wee bit dramatic. But the truth is, I’ve been trying to figure out a practical way to display my collection. So, I began thinking- dangerous, I know.  I love souvenir pennies. I love jewelry. Why not combine the two?  So I did . And I love the result. Check out this charm bracelet I made from souvenir pennies.        

smashed penny souvenir jewelry 4

Or this necklace.

smashed penny souvenir jewelry 1

And here’s another.

smashed penny souvenir jewelry 3   

I’m also working on pieces with Disney souvenir pennies that are going to be super cute…think pirates….ARRRRR…. and Tinkerbell …and … well, you get the picture.

Anyway, my family loves them and I’m having so much fun making them that I’ve decided I’m going to open an Etsy shop. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sell one of the jewelry pieces crafted from souvenir pennies every now and then. But here’s where you come in. I NEED help.

Names and titles are not my strong point. So, I’ve decided to have a contest. Help me chose a name for my Etsy shop and you’ll have a chance to win ANY one item, of any value, pictured above or from my store which I hope to open the end of next week- I’m just waiting on that name! So, what do you say? Are you in?

Here’s what you do. It’s simple. Leave a comment on my blog between now and this Sunday, February 6th and tell me what name you would choose. If you have more than one idea, leave more than one entry. 

I will select a name from the entries and the winner will receive a jewelry item of their choice. If I am unable to use a name for whatever reason, I will randomly draw a winner from all the entries. That’s it! It’s that easy. Just make sure when you leave your comment that you also leave your email address so I’m able to contact you.

I will announce the winner here on Live the Adventure next Monday, February 7th.

Wanna play along? What would you name an Etsy store that sells an eclectic mix of travel related products and one of a kind jewelry made from souvenir pennies?

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