Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homeschool Aviation Focused Classes at the Aviation Challenge Facility at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The classes on Thursday have been filled so Wednesday Classes have been added. If you’re interested in these classes SIGN UP NOW!

I’ve mentioned before how much I LOVE the US Space and Rocket Center. When we found out we would be traveling to Huntsville with my husbands’ job several years ago, it was the first place we visited. Anyone who has watched Space Camp will certainly understand, right?

Well, I’m really excited to tell you that the US Space and Rocket Center is now offering a series of 6 fall homeschool classes that focus specifically on aviation and held at their Aviation Challenge facility!

Here are the details:   

Cost: $99 for the 6-week session
Ages: 9 through 14
When: Thursdays from 1pm - 3pm
To register, contact Thelma Stephens @ 256.721.7200
or send questions to thelmas@spacecamp.com

Only 40 spaces available so reserve today! See the note at the top of the post- Thursday classes are FILLED but Wednesday classes have been added due to the popularity of this 6 week course!

Week One: Aviation Orientation
October 13th, 2011
Aircraft Tour:  Tour the aircraft of Aviation Challenge and see how the aircraft design helps in military combat and strategy.                                                                           Air Crew Equipment: Students will have hands-on experience in an aircraft cockpit  & learn about the gear and equipment needed to function in a high performance jet.                                                                                                                                                      Introduction to Flight:  Students will be briefed on the elementary principles of flight.

Week Two: Strategic Communication & Teamwork
October 20th, 2011
Patrolling: Students will be introduced to concepts and strategies that will help communication and movement in a tactical situation.                                                   Search & Rescue Mission: Students will conduct a search & rescue mission to retrieve a down pilot and secure Top Secret documents.

Week Three: Leadership Development
October 27th, 2011
Students will focus on teamwork, leadership and communication while working to complete various low rope challenges.

Week Four: Survival Challenge
November 3rd, 2011
Intro to Land Survival: Students will learn the importance of mental toughness when in a survival situation with S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. acronym and other helpful lessons.
Fire Craft: Students will learn six different types of fire lays to build in the wilderness.
Shelter Building: Students will learn four different types of shelters to build in the wilderness.
Food & Water Procurement: Students will learn what types of foods can be found in the wilderness and how to purify water from unknown sources.

Week Five: Aerodynamics & Aeronautics
November 10th, 2011
Aviation Lab: Students will be instructed by Commander Dennis "Hoot" Turner (USN, Ret.) on the fundamentals of aerodynamics, aeronautics, and propulsion.

Week Six: Flight Physiology
November 17th, 2011
Flight Physiology: Students will learn what the human body must endure to be a high performance jet pilot. Students will be educated on various visual and vestibular illusions, anatomy of the eye and inner ear.
Barney Chair Simulation:Students will experience a sample of the vestibular illusions a pilot might experience.
G-Force at Museum: Students will experience 4 Gs on their bodies while riding the Rocket Park version of a centrifuge.

Don’t these classes sound amazing? I only wish we were still living in Alabama so my daughter could enjoy them!

Make sure you visit their webpage announcing their homeschool classes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vacation: Destination, Alaska

Last month, my family set sail on our second Carnival cruise.  We were headed to Alaska and excited to stop at Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria which is in British Columbia, Canada.    

We flew to Seattle to catch our boat and I instantly fell in love. The weather was mild- not at all like the humid Midwest or South that we’re used too. Nestled between the mountains and water, Seattle couldn’t be in a better location.

We spent time exploring Pioneer Square, the Waterfront and Downtown, but I couldn’t resist thinking that someday I’d love to make a second trip to Seattle to see everything I didn’t have time for this time around- like the troll that lives under the bridge!

The weather was beautiful while we were there. It didn’t rain at all. It was so clear on the day that we sailed out of the port that we were able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier.   

Mt. Ranier

Our cruise was a seven day cruise. Two days would be spent at sea but unlike the Caribbean, there was plenty to see for most of the journey.  Like the whales in this picture:


You did see them didn’t you? Well, maybe I didn’t get the best picture but I promise, we really did see a few whales and it was so neat!

If we weren’t whale watching, there was beautiful scenery to view, especially as we made our way through Endicott Arm. Our boat was scheduled to travel through Tracy Arm Fjord, but conditions weren’t favorable for passage so we made a detour.

Floating ice burgs…


and beautiful glaciers.

Our first stop in Skagway was our favorite. Quaint and historic, we enjoyed a quick visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park followed by a stop to the Visitor’s Center to find out what the locals consider “must see sites”. We took several of their suggestions. One led us on a quick hike outside of town to Yakutania Point which was stunning. I could have stayed there all day but after relaxing for about 30 minutes, taking in the incredible view,  it began to rain.


As we were making our way back to the boat, we noticed that the tide was coming in. Guess what appeared with the high tide? SEALS! One of the highlights of our trip – we watched the seals as they played and then as they began to hunt their dinner- salmon!


Next stop: Juneau, where we were able to get a glimpse of true Alaskan weather. Overcast, chilly and rainy. Good thing I packed our umbrellas and ponchos. They certainly came in handy.

We ventured out to explore but didn’t make it further than the Alaska State Museum. We enjoyed our visit, but definitely would have gotten more out of if we’d taken the time to learn more about Alaska before we went. Of course, I had intended to do that before things got so crazy. 

Our next stop, Ketchikan is the Salmon Capital of the World but we didn’t see any salmon. Not from the salmon viewing area anyway. We tried to visit the eagle viewing area that was on our map but didn’t find it. Too late we learned that we could have taken a 45- minute walk through the rainforest.

It also rained and since we weren’t enjoying yet one more day out in the rain we decided to walk back to the boat and call it a day. Still, we did see some pretty views.

Back on the boat we headed for home. Our boat was only scheduled to be in Victoria for a short time but high winds caused a bit of delay so it was already dark by the time we arrived so we opted to stay on the ship.

Have you been to Alaska? What were some of the highlights from your visit?

Friday, September 9, 2011

SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student~ a Review

When I was offered the opportunity to review the SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student written by James P. Stobaugh and published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing, I jumped at the chance. A long time admirer of Master Books, I know when I purchase from them, I can count on material that reflects my beliefs and values.

As excited as I was, I began to feel a sense of dread as I waited for the review copy to arrive in my mailbox. After all, until this past year my kids had always sworn they weren’t interested in college and with some of the struggles we’ve had over the years, I was willing and happy to see them graduate high school!

As a sophomore, junior and senior, they are a quite a bit more serious and disciplined than they have been in the past. I’m beginning to think maybe the SAT exam is somewhere in our near future. But where do we start this late in the game? Enter the SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student. This volume is not at all like the stiff, difficult book I’d imagined it to be. With it’s ease of use and easy to understand lessons, you can easily  jump in and begin to prepare for the college entrance exam.

Ideally you would begin using this guide in the 9th grade with simple daily lessons. However, if you’re like me and get off to a late start, don’t fret. There is also a suggested schedule to complete the book in one or two years instead of three.

The 150 lessons follow four  main components:

1) a devotional

2) reading and vocabulary exercises

3) math and verbal exercises

4) and, test taking strategies.

You can download a sample of the book which includes the Table of Contents, tips for using the book, schedules and sample lessons. 

The book also outlines a comprehensive reading program that includes book lists of popular Christian and secular titles grouped by grade. You’ll also find a wide variety of examples of college admission essays with a few tips for your child on writing their own. There is also a link for a free downloadable essay workbook available which I found very helpful. 

I found the lessons easy to implement and easily understood by my own children. Personally, I appreciated the devotions that began each lesson, enjoyed the literature selections and feel that the suggestion of studying Greek and/or Latin root words to be valid but not sure that the book is a stand alone “test prep”.  I’d like to see more math problems and more vocabulary. Even so, my children can certainly benefit from the existing 150 lessons.

The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student is available for $29.99 from New Leaf Publishing Group and from a number of  online retailers.

Have any questions that weren’t answered here? I encourage you to connect with the author,  James P. Stobaugh, on Facebook and on Twitter where he shares tips for taking the SAT and ACT.

**I received this book free of charge in exchange for sharing my honest opinions with my readers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flight 93 Temporary National Memorial- Shanksville, Pennsylvania

It’s doubtful that many of us have forgotten what we were doing ten years ago when we heard that planes had flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Or that another had crashed into the Pentagon. And yet the terrible news that one more plane had crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside- perhaps connected to the terrorist attack that gripped fear on our nation as rumors of the possibility of other planes circulated throughout the news media.

I purposely chose not to watch TV that day. I didn’t want my children to see the images that were so graphically described by the news media.

As sad as the story of Flight 93 is, it is also a success story. It is a story of brave men and women that realized that they could fight back. Passengers that are now known as heroes. They weren’t going to allow their flight to be used as a weapon by the terrorists that fought to cripple our nation. And so Flight 93 soared through the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside and crashed not into the United States Capital, the presumed target, but into a farmer’s field just outside a tiny town called Shanksville.

This past July, on our way to NYC, my son and I stopped to visit the memorial of Flight 93. I’m not sure what I expected. What I found was a peaceful field where visitors speak only in hushed tones, honoring the 40 passengers and crew members that died in that crash.  

This simple building that has served as the temporary visitor’s center was the official Command Post during the investigation and recovery phased of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93.

Inside the visitors center we found pictures of  the passengers and crew members on board the plane, the story of Flight 93 and the other terrible events of September 11, 2001, what the final memorial will look like and a wall where you can share your thoughts.

house 356

Across from the makeshift visitor center is a path that leads to a view of the field where the plane crashed.

You can see the area that was littered with media personnel for days following the crash.

And you can see the spot near the tree line where the crash occurred. The area was searched for remains for days and then at the coroner’s request, the crash site was filled in with dirt and scattered with the seeds of wildflowers. 

The Ranger told me they have no idea how many people visit the memorial each day,  but as the 10th Anniversary of September 11th approaches they see more and more.  Some come simply to try to understand the events of that day nearly ten years ago. Some leave something behind in the chain link fence that blocks access to the field. The same fence that served as the only memorial for years after the tragic event.   

There are now three phases of construction planned for the Flight 93 National Memorial- though it may be years before each is completed. The initial phase includes a new approach road, an Arrival Court and Memorial Plaza where visitors can view the crash site while leaving the site untouched. It will open this weekend. 

                                             The new Arrival Court under construction

The next phase includes the building of a visitor’s center while the final phase will include the construction of the 93- foot Tower of Voices, a wind chime that will symbolize the voices of those passengers that died on United Airlines Flight 93.

As I drove by the site of where the new access road will be, which will lead to the new, permanent memorial, my son and I saw this angel.

An appropriate welcome to the memorial, don’t you agree?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to Normal

Well folks, I’m back. After an incredibly busy July and August, September has started out at a more relaxed pace. I’m finally able to catch my breath and things are beginning to return to normal, if there is such a thing. 

We just returned from a much needed vacation which I dreaded for weeks because it was “just one more thing”.  In fact, with all the craziness, I didn’t even find time to pack for our trip until the day we were to leave! Talk about waiting until the last possible moment! Please don’t follow my example. In my haste I forgot several items that would have been extremely helpful to have.

Our trip turned out to be a huge blessing! When we began planning our trip last year we had no idea how much we would need to relax! The week before we were to leave my husband commented on how much he was looking forward to getting away and sleeping! And you know what? We did just that!  

Any guesses on where we went?

I’ll give you a guess. It is in the US and starts and ends with the letter A.

Did you guess ALASKA?

It was beautiful!

                                    A glacier as seen from our ship, the Carnival Spirit

Of course our trip wasn’t without a few stressful moments- like when our cab didn’t show up to take us to the port.

Or when we missed our flight home! Yep. You read that right. Thankfully United was able to get us on another flight and didn’t even charge us for my mistake. Yep. You read that right too. It was all MY fault….ughhhhh. 

The day after we returned from our trip, we began moving out of our temporary apartment and into our new home!

We had searched and searched for something that would be a bit more permanent to rent and couldn’t be happier to find just the house we had prayed for. We’d asked for a little bit of land and ended up with over 60 acres!  I have a feeling that Nature study will definitely be woven into our school plans this year.

                                                                  The back of our house

Last weekend, the kids enjoyed our country setting and spent time outside, hiking and swimming in the pond. My daughter attempted a camp out with a couple friends. That lasted until almost midnight when my city kid decided maybe she’d rather sleep inside the house and vacated the tent. You know, on account of Bigfoot and all. I think we’ve watched too many episodes of Monster Quest, what do you think?

Our dog couldn’t be happier as he systematically makes his way around the yard marking his territory and rolling on everything that his canine nose finds appealing. He smells quite ummm…unpleasant at the moment…yeah, I’ll just leave it at that. I’m sure you can imagine.

The only problem so far?  I’ve not been able to find an internet service provider for our location. Hello, welcome to the country! :)

How’s your fall shaping up?

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