A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Touch the ceiling!
I had never heard much of this National Park before we went. Arches is much more famous, but it's only 30 miles away! How come no one knows about this one? It's super awesome--a lot like the grand canyon in some respects--but it's HUGE!! It has 3 different parts: The Island in the Sky (a HUGE mesa and canyon), the Needles (think Bryce Canyon-esque), and The Maze. The Maze, no one can get to. The Needles was 70+ miles out of our way, so we went to the Island in the Sky. (Yes, this is the one we went in the BACK way! Woohoo!)
Happy Family Posing
The Canyon View (from Above)
A view WITH the kiddos in front:
A view WITHOUT the kiddos in front:
It was an amazing view! These shots just don't do the height and scope justice, but it gives you an idea. I think the canyon looks like a giant dinosaur print! :) I'd hate to meet that guy...!
We've learned SO MUCH about the desert already! I didn't know half this stuff! So, I thought I would put in a few pictures that remind me a little of the things we've learned and studied--and inspires me to continue to learn more about this amazing and diverse world we live in!
We made a little hike to Mesa Arch, as it seemed to be one of the big attractions of the park (and it was a short hike--the kids were super tired!) Little did I know that not only was the view pretty amazing from the arch, it was the very edge of a cliff with a sheer drop-off! So, as you look at the pictures, you can see Devin gritting his teeth, and I'm seriously on edge! It was unnerving! And the kids asked if they could climb up and walk on the top of the arch! Um, NO! And they kept trying to walk over and peer over the edge which gave me some serious vertigo issues! We survived and it was amazing, but they could have at least WARNED you!! :)
Jr Rangers and Family Fun!
Arches was so awesome...we spent 2 days there!! We just couldn't get enough! Or maybe it was because we did almost no hiking the first day and we (ok, me, Devin and Eric) were aching to do some awesome hikes and at LEAST see landscape arch! But we enjoyed ourselves, despite the heat, and we would definitely go back again! My favorite comment from the whole trip was my little niece, Jolie. She asked why we were at the park. I said it was because it's a beautiful place and we like to see all the neat things there. She replied: "The only places I like to go are the bank, the mall, and the ice cream shop!" Ha!! What a girl! You can't argue with that one! All the kids were such troopers and got their jr rangers badges the very first day. Aside from that, I just couldn't get over the amazing delicacy of the arches...nor their HUGENESS!! The pictures of this place are really cool--but the reality is astounding. These structures are really larger than life and more amazing than what the pictures portray. It is a place everyone should visit.
We'll finish this off with a parade of elephants:
The family reunion being over, Devin and I decided to take a family trip to some National Parks that we (well...I...) have never been to! So, off we went to Moab: The hub for Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point! We headed down Monday morning and by the afternoon, we were enjoying the views of Dead Horse Point. Amazing.
What we saw on the way there...
Cousins and Jr Rangers
The National Parks are super cool--but even cooler when there are cousins there to share the fun!! We loved doing the Jr Ranger programs together and playing in the shade!
A very important part of every summer spent near family is the family reunion. We will have our share of them!! The Hendriksen family reunion was our very first one. We had a great time! All 30+ of us stayed in a big cabin above Park City and played and talked and had a marvelous time catching up! We ate S'mores, chilled on the big couches, played foosball, air hockey, and pool, hit the jacuzzi, played board games, ate a LOT of food, did arts and crafts activities with the kids, played video games, played on the 'playground' area on swings and a slide...Man, what did we NOT do?? :) I even caught a butterfly posing for me by some flowers! There were plenty of rooms inside the big cabin, but the best part was the 'bunk house' out back that had its own bunk beds plus a few queen size beds where the bigger kids could hang out and be noisy while the little ones went to bed early! Everyone had something perfect. Kudos to Mom and Dad H for finding a place so awesome!!
Going to a Garden may sound like a somewhat lame thing to do. It didn't sound like it was going to be a place I could take the kids and spend all day without some battle going on: "Mooooooooom, WHEN are we leaving? This is SOOOO boring!" Well, we heard none of that. These gardens were AMAZING! There was a beautiful walkway with flowers all over, a rose garden, a Monet garden, gazebos, a lake with fish to feed, cool statues, a butterfly garden, a Secret Garden (Claire kept asking if it was the really really REAL Secret Garden that Mary Lennox found in the book...I told her yes, but Devin said no...), a river with frogs, AMAZING waterfalls, and super cool fountains. It was lovely and we spent 3 hours wandering around the place without seeing everything! Then, we headed over to the Children's Gardens and spent another few 2-3 hours! It was much smaller, but there were caves to explore, a pond, and the coup d'etat: Noah's Ark complete with water, water everywhere for the kids to play in and cool off (and some lovely shade for the adults to sit and watch). A WONDERFUL outing that is well worth the cost of admission!
The Beauty of the Gardens
Our first stop in our grand nature tour through the US is Timpanogos Cave National Monument! We had a great time! We attended a Junior Ranger hour activity, hiked up the VERY steep trail to the entrance of the Cave(s), enjoyed the coolness of the caves (and that word has multiple meanings--the caves were very cool, both literally and figuratively!), and then even hiked all the way back down! What troopers! They seriously earned their Jr. Ranger badges! We got some great exercise, saw all kinds of flowers and trees that we marked in our Field Guide; we saw tiger swallowtails and hummingbirds...and the view was spectacular! We also saw all kinds of rock formations and different kinds of rocks (limestone, calcite, granite, quartzite, etc.) and who could beat the education of learning all the different formations inside the caves? The ranger told us all kinds of great stories about the formations--how they came to be and their names and when they were discovered. Pretty amazing place! It was my first time in a cave, and it was spectacular! A highly recommended outing!
Inside the Caves Montage:
Once we got back down to the ranger station, we turned in our books and took the pledge to be certified Jr Rangers! A great adventure and a great learning experience for everyone!
The kids have been having a BALL with their cousins here! Their favorite activity is pulling each other in wagons around the block. The best was the day that it was SUPER windy, and instead of deterring them, they just pulled out some blankets, covered themselves, and off they went!
Peter has been enjoying watching movies at the table with Chase and generally playing...and EATING!!!!
Hooray for Cousin Fun!
The Natural Wonders of the World!
The view of Utah Valley from Mt. Timp
We are so excited for our very first Unit Study! We will be using the National Parks of the Western US as our classroom!
We plan to visit:
Some of our topics of study will include:
Life is, of course, full of hellos and good-byes. Some of us have to do that a little more often than others. It's all good, of course, as we really like having new experiences and meeting new people, but it never makes leaving the people and places you've come to love dearly any easier! Moving is sort of like ripping your heart out with your bare hand, throwing it on the ground, and watching someone wearing stiletto heels jump on it. Gross image, but accurate, I think.
I'll be starting here with our homeleave between posts (Helsinki, Finland to Amman, Jordan), so it's only appropriate I begin with leaving! :)
One of the most exciting parts of moving (and this is where you can't hear the sarcasm in my voice) is packing your bags. Ugh. No matter how far in advance you've been planning the bags and the workings of them, you will ALWAYS end up with more than you have bags to accommodate. It's a rule. And it's especially aimed toward those of us who are moving, as Andrew says, to a different world. Overseas moving is literally and figuratively painful, and is only made worse by all the restrictions that keep popping up with international and intercontinental flights. We used to be able to have 2 checked bags each--and international checked bag could weigh 75 lbs!!--and 2 carry-ons (with no weight restrictions). Not anymore. Now, we can have one checked bag each--weighing no more than 50lbs, and only one carry-on each--weighing no more than 8kg. Oh boy. And for a family of six that is not only moving, but going to be 'homeless' for 3 months, this is super tricky. We try really hard to travel light, but even then, it's just plain difficult.
So, one hour before the drivers were coming to pick us up and take us to the airport, we realized that we had enough stuff left over for another entire checked bag! Doh! That's sure cutting it a little close! Luckily, we had a wonderful, lovely friend (Georgetta, I hope you're reading this--I'm talking about YOU!) who had offered previously to lend us a bag or two if we needed it. So, I made a phone call, and as luck would have it (although, Obi Wan doesn't believe in luck--and I don't really either), she was actually just on her way out and could drop it by in a few minutes! Wow! So, we had 1/2 hour to redistribute the wealth, and we ended up with our limit of 6 checked bags and 6 carry-ons. Whew. The drivers came and had to wait around while we ate some lunch (they came about 1/2 hour early--I'll miss the punctuality of the Finns!) and then we were on our way!
We found that this time was substantially easier in the airports/transitions, as the kids are much older than they've ever been. It is SO much easier to get your bags checked or to drag all the carry-ons if everyone call pull their OWN! The kids were such troopers--pulling huge heavy bags through multiple airports: over bridges, on trains, in elevators, through hotels... They did awesome! The flight from Helsinki to NYC was very uneventful. Eight and a half hours of the kids watching tv and playing video games. They were pretty much in heaven. We landed in NYC, went through customs (can i just say how WONDERFUL it is to have diplomatic passports when your kids are cranky?? makes it so much easier to not have to wait in that super long line if you can just go to the diplomatic line where no one else is!!), found our checked bags, dragged them around for miles (this was the 'over bridges, in elevators, on trains and through hotels that I had mentioned earlier), found our hotel shuttle, dropped our stuff off at the room, went to the hotel restaurant for dinner...and the kids almost didn't make it through! We all crashed. (Well, I actually went to the fitness room and took advantage of the treadmill for a few miles. I needed some exercise!) The next morning, most of us were up at 2am. Lovely. We managed to keep the kids mostly under control until about 5 am when we saw they were setting up for the buffet breakfast, so we took advantage of no one being there, so we could eat without scaring away the other guests.
After that, we packed up our bags (Peter is helpful in unpacking), and went upstairs to wait for our shuttle to take us to the airport. The night before, someone (shuttle driver? loud speaker at airport?) had said we should arrive 3 hours before departure time, as it is a very busy airport. So, we were obedient. We arrived at the airport 3 hours before...and made it through all the security and check in process in 1/2 an hour. Doh! Now, we had 2 1/2 hours to kill with some pretty crazy kids. Luckily, there was a returning missionary hanging out, and the kids attacked him and it helped blow most of the time. :) Mr. Bean took care of the rest (via laptop).
Now comes the fun part. This flight still had some lovely amenities that I wasn't anticipating--like the individual tvs for everyone that included satellite tv! Hooray for cartoon network! However, as we started to fly over the Rockies, we hit some serious turbulence. Now, I've been in turbulence before. We fly fairly often, so it's nothing new. Most of the time, it's pretty fun! It's sort of nice to have a change and feel the bouncy air. This time, however, I have to admit that I was scared. Have you ever gone on those free-fall rides at amusement parks? The ones that shoot you straight up in the air, then let you go and you drop? It was like that. Over and over. Most of the time, they were quick little drops--probably 20 feet or so. A few, though were some serious free falls. We're talking 5-10 second falls. You could see people rising up out of their seats a little because their seat belts weren't cinched tight enough! Whew! We got to the airport, went in for the landing, and then the plane started heading back up again. What? We did a bunch of circles over Salt Lake and tried to land again. No luck. The cross winds were too fierce. Instead, we needed to refuel before we ran out of gas and just crashed. So, we flew to Boise, Idaho!! We landed safely in Boise and had to sit on the tarmac and wait our turn to refuel--we definitely weren't the only ones re-routed! Luckily, around the time the severe turbulence started, Peter conked out. He slept for the entire 4 hour detour! Which wreaked havoc on sleep that night BUT sure made the flight and unanticipated detours much more endurable!
So, we sat in the airplane for 2+ hours. We were all seated in the very back row (right by the bathrooms!) and while we were stuck, EVERYONE had to go to the bathroom. We met a lot of people! Ha! Then, finally, we heard the captain ask everyone to return to their seats and we were on our way! Woohoo! We hit some turbulence on the way back, but it was nothing compared to earlier, and we landed safely...3 1/2 hours later than we were supposed to. Oh well. We got our bags, pulled everything over to the shuttle to get our rental car, and got our car (they were out of mini vans, so we got an 'upgrade' to an SUV...it's pretty nice, but there is NO storage room--so when you're a family of 6, moving overseas, and on homeless leave for 3 months, we have a lot of luggage), and drove over to the Hendriksen's for dinner. We were all pretty loopy, so it was pretty much an 'eat and run' experience, as Devin and I were both sort of walking sideways, but we made it! We are now safely in Utah and ready to play!!
In the foreign service, we jokingly call our 'homeleave' "Homeless Leave". It's a pretty apt name, as we get to go back to the states for months at a time with nowhere at all to stay. So, for our first few weeks here in Utah, we're staying at a cute little apartment in Pleasant Grove, Utah. The kids love it because there are baskets full of blocks and train tracks! We really like having a place to call our own...at least for a little while!
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!
by Dan Brown
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