A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
One handsome dude!
Ok, so it didn't snow on Christmas day. I didn't even WANT it to snow on Christmas this year. Bah humbug? No, I don't think so. It was SO nice to have the sun shining down with the temperature at a balmy 60F/15C. Who can complain about that? THAT is a great Christmas present, if you ask me! The fact that I can still take my kids outside to the park to ride bikes and run and play without spending 4 hours getting them dressed just to have someone tell me they have to use the bathroom... GAH!!!
Anyway, while our Christmas was not white, it was very merry! So much so, in fact, that I completely forgot to take pictures! How lame is that??!? I don't know what came over me. I suppose it was because it was dark on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, but my camera has great nighttime settings...
Regardless, we had a good time! We invited a lovely friend from church to spend Christmas Eve with us--she works as a contractor here and doesn't have any family around. She came and we ate a yummy Christmas Eve dinner of ham and potatoes, veggies and fruit salad and homemade rolls... AND I made my newest favorite creation: Pumpkin Pie! Yes, yes, pumpkin pie is not new... however, mine is dairy, gluten and sugar free (I even made a nut free one for Claire) and it is the BEST pumpkin pie you'll ever eat. I'm probably biased, and I wouldn't actually tell you that it's the best pie in the world if I were talking to you in person, but on paper it's ok. :D
After our Eve feast, we opened our traditional Christmas Eve present (the pj's, of course), got dressed in our pj's, and went out for our traditional search for Christmas lights. Now, one might think that living in the Middle East, that would be pretty hard to come by. Luckily for us, we live in Jordan--the country with the highest population of Christians in the Middle East! AND, it just so happens that the 'Christian Quarter' (a small city called 'Al Fuhays') is just outside of Amman and not a far drive! So, off we went with our friend to help us find the way (THANK YOU Shannon! Without you, we never would have found the place!!) to see some Christmas lights! It was amazing! Almost every store was decorated (sometimes OVERLY so) with lights--every other house had lights up! Some houses looked like Gingerbread houses! Some had big messages scrolling through! It was so cool! And I love that Amman (well, Jordan in general, really) is VERY hilly, so instead of just seeing the street you were driving on, all the houses/lights were in 3D going up and up and up! :) So neat! We found the site where the biggest Christmas tree in the Middle East was found (not a huge feat, really, since how many Middle Eastern countries have a large Christmas tree on display??) and got out of the car to see it. This is where I feel so devastated that I didn't have the camera! I suppose I didn't bring it because I didn't expect to get out of the car and have any lighting to take pics...a good assumption since we were all in our pj's--me in a nightgown and wearing fluffy slippers! HA! Now that would have made a good picture, right? Anyway, we saw the tree and it was so awesome on so many levels! First off, seeing a Christmas tree in the Middle East is just cool in and of itself. Then, we discovered that while the tree trunk and the tip-top of the tree itself were real, it was a sort of lodge-pole pine-esque tree, so in order to make it look more full and Christmas-y, the bottom all the way to about 3/4 the way up was a fake 'shell' of branches! Ha! There were some flood lights on the inside of the fake branches shining out. The kids kept yelling how the tree was a fake (made me think of Elf when Buddy realizes that the dept store santa is a fake...), and the top 'real' part of the tree didn't appear to have a lot of strength to support the star, so it was bending over pretty far. I didn't notice any elves ready to bungee jump down and catch it if it were to slip, so I was a little nervous! :) Tand to make matters worse, there was a sweet nativity scene up by the tree, and the kids noticed the cherub hanging from the ceiling and they kept yelling out, "Mom! Look! The Angel is NAKED!" Yes. Thanks for that.
So, after seeing the fake tree and the naked angel, we loaded back up in the car and stopped at a fruit stand on the street to buy our favorite Christmas treat: Bananas! Ha! (AlFuhays is a farming town, so there are a LOT of local fruits and veggies there for super cheap!!)
We got home and read Christmas stories until the kids (and our friend Shannon, too--we must be really boring readers!) all fell asleep, then Santa came and Devin and I went to sleep hoping the kids really would sleep in until 6am like they promised! :) (Although, I admit I woke up at 4 and wondered if I should just go wake everyone up...the excitement never dies!)
No, I didn't let him wear the mask to church.
We all got up at 6 and opened our gifts. The kids were so excited for their new clothes (they picked them out, so I hope they're excited). Josh got his little iPod Nano that he'd been wanting for so long; Claire got a pony castle and a Barbie; Andrew got a spaceship lego kit; Peter got a collapsable playland (that's one that I really should get a picture of--it's a pretty cool thing with 8 tunnels and 5 tents that all hook together...and they collapse flat so I can store them all under the couch)...I got a new watch and a dehydrator, and Devin got a sweet preparedness kit. The boys all got new suits and Claire got a pretty new dress.
We spent the rest of the day watching movies and eating... That makes for a lovely Christmas Day. In the Evening, we read the Christmas story again and had another discussion about it. I felt like this year was much more balanced than Christmas has been in the past. We did lots of 'secular' activities to do with Santa and pop culture, but we spent just as much time in the Bible and learning about the life of Jesus. That makes it the best Christmas yet.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Beautiful sky on our drive through the Desert Highway
Well, hopefully it's not OUR last crusade... Of course, that movie wasn't Indiana's last crusade, either, really, as he had a run-in with some aliens later.
Regardless, it seemed like a good place to go and experience something awesome!
Indiana Jones Gift Shop! Time to watch the movie!
Devin and I have started a tradition of doing seriously outdoorsy activities for our anniversaries. We both really enjoy hiking/biking/running/exercising, so why not do something somewhat physically grueling together since we can't really be so...intense...with the kids...
Last year, we went on a 110 mile bike ride through the archipelago sea between Sweden and Finland. This year, we decided to go to Petra and do some serious hiking! We started out at sunrise and hiked until sunset and saw EVERYTHING that we could possibly see! I have no idea how much we walked, but we're both in pretty good shape and by the time we got to our hotel that evening we were pretty beat! It was SO AWESOME! It is even cooler than all the guide books will tell you. The pictures look pretty cool, but the real thing...well, it's beyond words.
Hiking through the Siq to get to the entrance of Petra--the Treasury!
Honestly, I didn't know there was SO MUCH to Petra! The Treasury was just the beginning. We hiked along and saw TONS of tombs, carvings, donkeys, camels, churches, temples... Wow.
Another highlight of our trip was hiking up to the Monastery. Wow. It's quite the hike. It's like 800 steps (large stairs carved into the rock) up to this really high point. Once you reach the end of the stairs, you turn right and look out...and Oh. My. Goodness. You think the Treasury is impressive? It's got nothin' on the Monastery! It's HUGE and seriously impressive.
As we were on our way back to the hotel after our hiking, I couldn't give up the chance to take a short camel ride! Good thing it was short--those things are NOT comfortable! But it sure looks cool!! :)
After the camel ride, we took a short break to eat a snack and get our energy back for one very last hike: The High Place of Sacrifice. We were feeling pretty good again, and took most of the stairs two at a time and made that hike in about 10-15 minutes (the guides tell you it takes 1 1/2 hours...whatever)! It was very impressive! The views on the edge of the cliff were astounding, and it was just so interesting to see the altars of sacrifice and to KNOW that what we've been taught about sacrifice is really real! You can just imagine the Children of Israel up there doing their sacrifices. Amazing.
On our way back, we were passed often by the carriage rides you can take from the Treasury up to the entrance if you don't want to walk the 1km back uphill. We found the walk very lovely and MUCH more comfortable than wooden wheels on rocky and unpaved ground! :) All part of the experience, I guess, but I liked watching them pass instead of sitting in them.
Here is the proof of what you can do when you turn of the tv. Gives you something to think about, eh?
We're doing a 3-in-1 day, since it's the last day before holidays!! So, we're doing Rudolph, Frosty, and Charlie Brown Christmas! We have coloring pages, mazes and word searches, as well as the all important art projects! We each made a Rudolph head (including me!) and talked about what happened in the movie. We came to the conclusion that the whole idea behind Rudolph was to show that we're all different and that's ok. We all have something special to contribute. We made large snowflakes to show that we're all different (and also in honor of Frosty). For Charlie Brown, we talked about the difference between the message of that show vs many other Christmas movies. We colored some nice pictures while discussing. Then, we made some snow cones and sat down for our 3 movie marathon! :)
Andrew even made it snow! We had a great time playing with glue and glitter and pom poms and making our little projects unique. I love Christmas crafts!
Enjoying our Who Pudding!
Continuing with our movie/book theme, we had another day of fun! I found some fun Grinchy worksheets (dot to dots, word finds, mazes, coloring pages, masks, etc.) and we played with those while we talked about why someone might hate Christmas (or other holidays/celebrations). Then we talked about the traditions of the Whos, and how they related to our family traditions for Christmas. They really enjoyed seeing that they correlated and knowing that lots of other people have some of the same traditions that we have! I also loved the comment from Andrew, "The Grinch wasn't mean because his shoes were too tight--it was because he was following Satan!" Sounds about right!
Then, we made Who Pudding (we made a sugar/dairy/gluten free baked custard--SOOOOO yummy!) while we listened to the book--I found it as an ipad app and you could either read it yourself or have it read to you. The little boys were happy to have it be read to them and look at the pictures while the big kids and I threw all the ingredients into the bowl for our Who Pudding! We ate that while watching the movie and talking about the difference between it and the book.
We've been doing a short unit on Economics and money. I think they've learned something. This morning, after our fun little adventure with the Polar Express, the kids have been playing train. They're selling tickets and food on the train. Josh was trying to pay Claire with a US penny. She says, "No way! I only accept Jordan Dinars, Euros, and Guatemalan money. American pennies are found everywhere and are almost worthless!" Ha ha ha! Then, Andrew was being given options of different things to buy and different prices, and he says, "I'm not buying anything! All you want is money! I'm saving up to buy a storm chaser car and a motor home!"
These conversations are seriously priceless.
When we went down to the Dead Sea Museum, we passed the Amman Beach! I glanced at it and it looked pretty cool, so I made a mental note to go back again. We finally did it and it was so fun! Not the best place for a picnic (the Dead Sea Flies are relentless!!!!!!!!!!!), so eat in your car on the way there or back, but the place is all sand (even though the sand is pretty hard and not good for sand castles) and you can go out really far in the water! There is plenty of room, showers and changing rooms...AND there are two large pools you can swim in after you dunk in the sea! Peter ended up going to a friend's house for the day, so I took the three older kids and we had a ball! They all floated around in the water and marveled at the sheer amount of salt! We talked about the difference between that water and regular water and why nothing can live at the dead sea (hence the name). The funniest was after they had dunked themselves in the freezing cold swimming pool (the sea was warm and wonderful--it was 25C/75F and sunny--a perfect day!!!) and they were warming up on some beach chairs. A group of Arab teenagers came by and asked if they could take some pictures (we get that a lot--Jordanians LOVE kids--especially blond ones!!) so they posed with the kids and took pictures and kissed the kids! I thought it was hilarious. Claire didn't really think so. He he he... It was a lovely day and a perfect outing!
Last week, I went to the movie theater with some friends (some YOUNG friends). The girls I went with met up with some other friends and introduced me as their 16 year old friend. The guy said I didn't look like I was 16, I looked more like I was his age: 19! Sweet!
Well, then Saturday, I took Josh and Claire to a service project. Those same young people were there. There were some older couple missionaries there, too, whom I hadn't yet met. I was talking with one of the ladies, and she was asking about my kids, then she pointed to the others and asked them their names/ages...and then asked if they were my kids, too! Dang. Guess I really don't look like I'm 19 after all. Honestly, though, do I really look like I could have a 19 year old son?? I couldn't possibly, because I literally couldn't have a 19 year old son. Well, I suppose it could have been possible...if I'd had my first baby at age 15. No way. I felt very deflated. Oh well. I suppose I have to get old some time, right?
Since it's the last week before official holidays, we're doing just what you're supposed to do...lots of Christmas crafts and movies! :) We're having a book/movie theme each day. Today, we're doing The Polar Express. The kids helped me find boxes (or laundry baskets and a cooler) and we drew a track on the floor. Then, they got in their train cars, and while I read them The Polar Express (wearing my santa hat, of course) they drank hot cocoa "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars"! We talked about what it might be like to have a magic train stop at your house... Would you go on? Where would it take you? and they drew where they would want to go on the backside of the train track. Then, we watched the movie! Good times.
After the movie, they spent the rest of the day playing train. They tied all the baskets and the cooler together using old scarves and pulled each other around. They had a great time!
As is tradition at this time of year, there are LOTS of Christmas parties and programs to go to. The first of these was a reception at the Ambassador's house. That was a kid-free environment, and I actually didn't go to socialize--they asked me if I'd go and play the piano as background music for the party! So, I sat and played their baby grand while people mingled. It was quite lovely and funnily enough, I really enjoyed myself! I didn't know about it until a few days beforehand, so I didn't have to stress too much about it.
The next program was all my baby. It was the Christmas sacrament meeting program. I organized the narration and all the musical numbers. It was quite fun, too! Yes, that one was REALLY stressful, but it came together SO nicely! I think there's something to be said about less rehearsal time...he he he... Everyone in the whole branch did something. I had the Relief Society choir, the Priesthood choir, the primary choir, some duets and quartets, and I played my clarinet for a few pieces...the BEST one being this amazing arrangement of Silent Night that I found! It was SO gorgeous and the perfect closing for the program. I honestly don't think I can top what we did. We have a lot of lovely talent right now...and everyone's leaving! :( Hopefully someone else with move in and we'll be saved at the last minute... :D
The next and last BIG Christmas function was the branch Christmas party. The person who put that one together did a MARVELOUS job! The decorations were beautiful and the food was glorious (I have to admit, that turkey was so yummy! Oh, wait, I made it...he he he...)!
The program was perfect. It wasn't too short or too long, and again, lots of people were involved. I played the piano and the clarinet for this one, too, but it wasn't too difficult (except for when I sat down to play the piano and Devin was singing a duet just as Peter punched Andrew in the face...yah, that was nice...then Andrew tried to attack Peter back, and Peter came running up to me and almost knocked me off the piano bench and held on with all his might while I tried to finish playing the song...good times...) and it was just so beautiful! (Yes, I still play barefoot...)
The BEST, though, was the nativity done by the primary! HA! Someone read Luke 2 out of the bible while the kids acted it out. It was totally awesome!!!!!!!! The kids pantomimed in the funniest way--we have some seriously talented actors...or perhaps just a large group of hams! :) Claire was Mary and was so sweet--and it was so funny to see her and Joseph give each other these completely embarrassed glances! Ha! And I really loved that they used my laundry basket as the manger (hey, sure shows resourcefulness!) and gave the baby Jesus my hand sanitizer as gifts! Oh well. I suppose that's appropriate considering they were in a barn! Ha!!
Merry Christmas Everyone! And may all of your Christmas programs and parties remind you of the true meaning of Christmas and refresh your spirit! <3
Typical Andrew 'Bed Head'.
So the funnies really never stop at our house. There's always something to laugh at and something funny to say. (this is NOT to say that we're perfect and ALWAYS bright and sunny and happy at our house, but one can dream, right?) I happened to look through some of our pics, and since many of them really don't have any theme or big story, I thought I'd roll them all into one really fun slide-show for everyone to enjoy!
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
I like that the plot twists and turns a lot...and it makes you think. However, I don't appreciate Dan Brown's endings in his books. I find the endings incongruent with the rest of his stories--why make it a romance for the last chapter...
I loved this book. I'm a sucker for fairy tales/fantasy. This was so well written! I can't wait to read all the rest of her books!
I'm reading this one again. I liked it the first time I read it. I'm still liking it for the second time around. I like all of Shannon Hales' books. **Still lots of fun the second time around! I do like this book for a comfortable...