A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Claire is almost finished with her baking course! As one of her last big projects, we had a cupcake/cake war! Here, the boys are posing as judges as they look for taste and presentation in her chocolate garden fresh cupcakes!
The cake she made to go with it was absolutely spectacular! She called her cake the Tower Vine Cake. The outside was covered with purple and green buttercream frosting made to look like vines and leaves and flowers, and the inside was a swirl of vanilla and chocolate cake batter (we call it 'Marvel Cake'...mostly because when I first invented it many years ago, I called it 'Marble Cake', but I seem to still speak with my b's and v's sounding a lot the same, so the kids all thought I said 'marvel' and it's stuck). Yum! She did a 'Marvel'-ously fantastic job!!!
And in other news, we are still puzzle crazy at our place! Since the last puzzle photo we posted (the American Revolution) we've done 5 more, including this 3D windmill! I'm getting the other puzzles framed, so once they're done, we'll share some more photos. Peter and Fiona actually did this windmill puzzle in one day together! Neat! Right now, we're working on a puzzle of Rome--first comes the puzzle of ancient Rome, then we cover it with modern Rome, then we add the buildings! Should be fun. Can't frame that one, though. Oh well.
And now, we're off to watch 'The Man in the Iron Mask' to compare it to the book we just read. I seem to remember liking the movie as a kid, so I'm SURE it's better than the book, which was seriously depressing.
Last week was the Sri Lankan New Year, so Devin and I decided to take a little trip to Nuwara Eliya. We had heard so much about this little city: it's beautiful; it's green; it's cold; there are biking/hiking trails all over; it's small and quiet... Sounded like a utopia to us! So, super early in the morning...before the kids were awake...we loaded up our bikes and some stuff, and off we went! Having left so early, we missed all the traffic and made it there in just 5 hours--enjoying every minute of those crazy, twisty, turny roads up and down the mountains!
Then we arrived in town! We made it to our cute little Bed and Breakfast--it was so fun! It was the top floor of someone's house. This young kid decided to go to 'Hotel School', then turn his top floor of his house into a little B&B! It had two rooms--a double and a triple. Then there was a common area with a dining table, couches and tv, and a big kitchen. There were nice balconies to look over as well with lovely views. The best part about it, it was within 5 minutes' walking to downtown, and yet we didn't hear any of the downtown noise! Since we came during Sri Lankan New Year, there was a LOT of noise! LOTS of cars, people, loud music, preparations for carnivals, all sorts of stuff! So we hopped on our bikes and found a cool lake. This is my dad's lake, since it is called Gregory's Lake! Plus, we also found where Pedro went after they voted him in as president of Preston High School! Ha! Vote for Pedro!
After our biking excursion, we ate food, then wandered around and visited this really lovely park in the middle of the town. I took WAY too many pictures of the flowers, but it was really lovely! AND it was SO nice and cool! We wandered around this tiny park for probably an hour, then we just laid down on the grass in the shade and read our scriptures on our phones and dozed a bit and just relaxed like crazy! Can't beat that!!
After the park, we enjoyed a leisurely dinner and walk, then we played a fun game together (Alhambra--it's a good one!) and went to bed early! We had gotten up at 4:30 in order to get to Nuwara Eliya and beat the traffic, and the next day, we were doing the same thing!!
So, next morning, by 4:30 we were up and ready to go! This morning, we were headed to Horton Plains--a National Park here in Sri Lanka that boasts a view just as incredible as the Grand Canyon--except that this one has lots of trees. The hike/view point is called 'World's End', and so we were off to see the end of the world as we know it! Ha! (I did sing that song a LOT while driving there and hiking there...poor Devin...) We took a tiny wrong turn on the way down (it was REALLY dark and we didn't have a GPS), so we went the scenic route. Whew. Dang. We DROVE the end of the world! Holy heart attack. The road was hairpin (and I do mean hairpin--as in ZIGZAG--as in we had to do 5-6 point turns just to get to the road again!!!) turns all the way up a HUGE mountain and it was one lane that was NOT maintained. BEAUTIFUL views, though!! I had to get out and do jumping jacks at the end of that one, though, to release the adrenaline rushing through my body! Ha!
We finally found the right road, but then we pretty much had to do another hairpin, hair-raising, twisty turny up a mountain side adventure to get to the park itself. This time, with other people who were crazy enough to want to see the end of the world. We made it, though. The hike was really lovely. It's a round trip, so we went the opposite way of everyone else, which was brilliant, because we got to hike in the quiet! We saw waterfalls, plains, jungles, weird horned lizards, monkeys, birds...so beautiful! Then the end of the world: It's pretty cool! I don't think it's QUITE as extensive as the Grand Canyon, but it IS a drop and it's very pretty. I'd do it again.
After we hiked World's End, as we were driving out, we saw another trail head. It said it was a 2km hike to the top of the third highest peak in Sri Lanka! Well, we just had to go! So, up we went! The hike was lovely--very quiet and woodsy. The views on the way up and down were SO beautiful! We even stopped for a little 'picnic' to enjoy the view! The summit, however, was a disappointment. It was a big old radio tower all fenced off with some broken solar panels! It was completely surrounded by 5+ ft tall shrubs, so there was no view at all whatsoever. SAD! Oh well. Again, it was worth the hike. Sometimes you do things just to say you did them.
We really enjoyed our day hiking about Horton Plains. When we got back to Nuwara Eliya, we basically just hung out! Weird, eh? We tried to watch television (hard to believe, I know), but there was NOTHING on, so we sort of took a nap on the couch...then we put gas in the car and got cotton candy for the kids and got ready so we could leave the next day.
Bright and early the next morning, we decided we had to use our bikes one last time. So, 6 am, we went off on a sunrise bike ride! It was SO lovely! The air was cool, hardly anyone was out because a) it's 6am, and b) it was the Sri Lankan New Year day--an official and HUGE national holiday! We rode our bikes up a mountain and it was glorious! The views were beautiful, the company was fun, we waved to people who were out, and just felt happy and calm riding 20+ km on a bike up and down a mountain in Sri Lanka. Everyone needs days like this. Best. Day. Ever. Sometimes, you just gotta do something different and outside...where it's not hot. :)
And, the rest is history. We packed up the car and headed home. We took a few wrong turns and got stuck in some pretty serious traffic in some of the little villages, but once we hit Colombo, it was smooth sailing...only because almost everyone was NOT in Colombo! Hooray for traveling on National Holidays! :) And hooray for getaways for moms and dads!
Another morning visitor... Sadly, it flew off before I got a really good shot of it, but it IS sort of cool that I got it just as it lifted itself off the branch of the tree in our yard! :) Not sure exactly what kind of bird of prey that is...Anyone else know?
This 'little' guy was just hanging out in our front yard! Luckily, he was seen before he found Buddy...
We were trying to shoo the guy out--Devika was whacking him with a broom, then throwing rocks and tennis balls at him to get him out...and finally just threw the broom at him! He just sat there and hissed and got ticked! In the end, he sauntered his way out the gate. Creepy dude.
Move over Monastery...there's a new monster mountain full of steps that is master! Adam's Peak: More than 5,000 steps up the side of a mountain! I've read that it's 5,200...some say 5,500...I honestly didn't count. It just kept going! Whew! We left Colombo WAY too late (try 10:30pm) and arrived around 4am. I was disappointed, because I really wanted to watch the sunrise from the top. As soon as the bus stopped, our family hopped out and practically ran up as fast as we could. Honestly, we only made it about a third of the way before sunrise hit. However, we just kept going anyway. It took us about 3 hours to go all the way up to the top. It took about 2 hours to come down. Coming down was MUCH harder! We had to run, because if we went slowly, or stopped, our legs started jerking uncontrollably, and we would collapse! It was funny. Once down at the bottom, Dev, the kids, and I ate ice cream and yogurt, guzzled water, and dozed while waiting for the rest of our group.
We went up there with just over 50 people--Everyone made it to the top! Now it's time to decide...when to go again...?
And here he is with his new obsession: Every time I see this kid, I start to sing, "In the Navy!" He is certainly inspired. The best part about it is the renewed interest in his studies! :) He certainly did a good job recreating the USS Blue Ridge with his Legos. He had to shorten the Empire State Building a bit in order to do it, but he seemed ok with that. I especially like the captain with his telescope hanging off the mast near the top. And his cute little American Flag. :)
In other fun news, Peter has lost 3 teeth in the past few weeks. At this rate, the Tooth Fairy is going to go broke, and he'll have to be on a liquid diet! Ha! He's so proud of the huge gap in his mouth! :) He has now joined the ranks of those who can close their teeth on a straw without crushing the straw. He he he...
We had a really amazing opportunity to visit a US naval ship that is docked here in the Colombo port! It was the perfect school field trip. That ship was HUMONGOUS--of course, it has to be if that many people live on it, and it has a helicopter landing pad, and it sails for days on end...
Our tour guides were wonderful! The sailors were really eager to answer the kids' questions and show them all the ins and outs of the ship. You could see the love these sailors have for their job, and it definitely caught in a couple of my kids. I wasn't surprised when Andrew came out saying he was going to join the Navy when he grew up, but I WAS surprised when JOSH came out saying now he knew what he wanted to do! As the sailors talked about all the different jobs and specialties aboard the ship, I could see Josh's eyes light up at the mention of professional scuba divers who do underwater repairs (like welding)!! Plus, he's really interested in and loves to do electrical/mechanical repairs/engineering, and they need people with that expertise on a ship. AND he doesn't like to stay in the same place very long, so, really, this could be a good thing for him! Who knows, right? But it's fun for him to have a goal like that in mind. And Andrew...well one of our guides was the ships 'historian'--she takes the pictures and keeps track of the daily life. Andrew thought that would be great fun! Plus, he LOVES weather and wants to be a storm chaser and/or meteorologist, so why couldn't he do that on board a naval ship? Why not? He could be in a branch of the military AND be where there are some sweet storms AND work with history. Problem solved. Again, we shall see. It was really fun to see the excitement in those two, though! AND one of the guys that was leading us around really seemed to take to Andrew, and gave him his personal cap that's embroidered with the ship's logo!!! Andrew was in seventh heaven and is completely inspired. He's already lining up the classes he needs to do in order to be ready to join the navy with lots of specialty experience. :) I love that my kids can be inspired to learn and prepare. It's a magical experience.
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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