A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
For those of you wondering what the heck we've been doing with our time here in America, I'm pleased to present a quick-view of our trip! I will eventually elaborate and add some better photos than just what's on my phone, but this is better than nothing at all! :-)
And that brings us to the present...where the rest of my family are outside roasting marshmallows and making s'mores while I'm in hiding... Life is good.
"It's lovely Bobbing Along! Bobbing along at the bottom of the Beautiful Briny Sea!"
For the past few weeks, Devin, Josh and I have been taking our classes for scuba certification. This weekend, we DID IT! Woohoo! We went down to Aqaba (the Red Sea) and completed our open water certification and even got to do a couple of 'fun dives'. What an amazing experience! I was flying! I flew over the top of corals and fishes, a shipwreck and a tank! I saw Nemo and Dory--the whole cast of Finding Nemo, actually--angel fish, flute fish, puffer fish, stone fish, LOTS of lion fish, glass fish, sea horses, scorpion fish, moray eels, ETC... Plus all the different kinds and colors of corals. Wow. It was so pretty! We saw about 10 lion fish living inside of an old abandoned tank under the water (along with everything else that lived on that thing)! We explored an old shipwreck of 'The Cedar Pride'. By the mast there were lion fish hanging around and a huge school of glass fish--and I swam right through the middle of the glass fish! It made me laugh! They were so cute--they just sat there in front of my mask and looked at me! (It's a weird sensation to giggle underwater. Just thought I'd throw that in.)
Josh is currently working on his KidVid (basically it's a documentary of Jordan from his perspective for an FS competition next year), so we bought an underwater video camera! He took lots of very short videos. Maybe I'll be able to post a couple. It's pretty amazing! Even with a video documenting the fact that we were all there UNDER the water, it's still hard to believe! :) I LOVED it and can't wait to go back and do it again! The hardest part: Walking into the water with 4 million pounds of stuff strapped to your back, and walking back out of the water with 4 million pounds of stuff strapped onto your back--especially after being weightless for 30+ minutes. Amazing. How cool is it that we went scuba diving in the Red Sea? Yah, we're pretty blessed.
Easter Weekend gave us an opportunity to have some time away from work and school (doesn't happen often for us!), so we took advantage and decided to go camping! We went down to Dana Nature Reserve, which is just south of the Dead Sea. It was so amazing! We reserved a couple of tents ahead of time at their campground, we packed a backpack each, and then drove down--about 3 hours--to the reserve (and I can tell you--I don't know how ANYONE gets around this country without a GPS!!! I don't think we ever would have found the place! Good grief it was crazy!). We listened to Ben Hur the whole way down and it was so interesting! It's been a long time since I've seen that show, and the radio drama we listened to was excellent and brought so much of the story to light!
When we got to the camp, we parked our car at the 'Tower', and we had to take a shuttle down to the campground area. They don't let you drive down to the campsite, nor can you bring your own tent. They have just over 20 big white canvas tents set up, so it's first come, first served.
We arrived, we dropped our stuff off in our tents, and went over to the big main tent for our dinner. Luckily, we had some leftovers and some veggies for me to eat, because we decided that this would be a good time to try out our MREs and use our 72 hours kits (they're a little old...it was time...) The kids ate spaghetti and meatballs, potato/cheese/bacon soup, and beef stew. They had cookies and pound cake for dessert and drank 400 gallons of fruit punch and milkshakes (yes, I typed 400). It was pretty funny to see everyone eating out of pouches.
The camp was totally full, but all the people were very friendly and we had a lovely time chatting with all sorts of people from all over the world! We talked with some students visiting from the US (they were living in Israel, but came over for a visit), people from Belgium, French, Switzerland, London, Lebanon... Everyone was so friendly and really seemed to be enjoying a respite from 'civilization'.
There was no electricity nor lights nearby, so one of the main reasons we went down there, aside from the need to get out of the city and have a nice weekend, was to see the stars! We were in the chapter on stars, galaxies and constellations in our astronomy studies, so this gave us a great opportunity to show the kids what the stars REALLY look like! They were dully impressed. :) When I noticed the stars were starting to come out, we all ran over and found a 'star watching rock' (yes, we've been reading the Wrinkle in Time series), and we all laid down and watched the stars come out! Amazing! We lay up there and sang Primary songs and talked about how amazing the universe is and how grateful we are to God for the world we live in and the beauties that surround us. :)
The kids went to bed around 9:30. Who am I kidding? I think I fell asleep first! Ha! The boys all slept in one tent, and Claire and I shared another. Claire told me stories until I fell asleep! Isn't that funny? I must be getting old. I woke up around midnight to some SERIOUS snoring. I thought, "Wow. I had no idea that Claire snores!" But, no, it was someone in the tent next door! Ha! I went outside to find the loo, and was so astounded by the QUIET and the beauty of the night. It was so peaceful and lovely.
The next morning, the boys all woke up at 4am. Love camping. I tried to ignore them (they woke up Claire who came over to see if I was awake and I pretended I wasn't), so they all left and went exploring and had the time of their lives! Devin and I finally got up at 6, and the free breakfast wasn't available until 8:30. Doh! So, off we went on all sorts of hikes and explorations! We had a GREAT time--especially because it was SOOOOO windy, so it wasn't too hot. The view was astounding, and we really enjoyed hiking about and running around the open land.
(one of the pictures wouldn't let me caption it--it's the one of our little camp as seen from our 'star watching rock'--a very cozy picture!)
After breakfast, we went on one more hike. We went on the cave hike! It was a bit far--especially considering that we had been up and hiking for hours already--but it was fun. We found some cool caves to explore, Claire fell a few times, we got lots of 'stickers' in our socks and shoes, and Peter ate cookies. Random, I know.
We walked back to the camp, gathered up our backpacks. and headed over to the shuttle to take us back to our car. Such a fun ride! Ha!
On our way home, we stopped off at IKEA since we hadn't been there yet. We ate dinner there. Unfortunately, it made Josh SERIOUSLY sick, so that wasn't so nice. Oh well. We made it home and it was good to be home. I suppose. It was probably one of the most relaxing camping trips I've ever had. I would go back in a heartbeat!
I'll bet you're all wondering where I've been all this time? Well, I've been busy, of course, but then, I'm ALWAYS busy. This time, we've been having some awful internet problems. Blah. The computer kicks me off about once a minute for about 20 seconds each time. It's SUPER annoying. Devin says the router is shot, so he ordered a new one. It should be here soon, then I can post all our outings and pictures and things.
Some of my favorite highlights of this week: For FHE this past Monday, we all watched Apollo 13 (the one with Tom Hanks). The kids LOVED it! Andrew has asked to watch it again every day!
The kids and I went on a field trip yesterday to Madaba with a lovely friend to a mosaic shop where we got to watch them make real mosaics, fancy pottery, and inlaid wood furniture. It was astounding and fascinating how much work goes into all those things! Josh took pictures of the ENTIRE store! It was so cute! And my kids gushed over everything. We had a great time, and once my internet is up and going properly, I will post the pictures and have more fun details. :) The kids kept telling me it was the best field trip ever.
Tonight, for movie night, we watched Taming of the Shrew (the version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor). The kids and I have been learning about Sonnets and William Shakespeare this week in our poetry unit, so I thought it would be really fun to end that week-long study with watching an actual production. We all laughed hysterically through the whole show. I love that my kids like this stuff! Josh LOVED it! Even Peter sat through almost the entire thing! It's one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and it does my heart good to enjoy it with my children. :) Hooray for learning! :)
The kids and I went on a field trip to the Terra Rosa olive pressing factory! We brought along our little friend, Flat Stanley, so he cameos in many of the pictures here. :)
It was totally fascinating! We saw the entire process from start to finish--they pick the olives by hand, put them in these huge bins or bags, then they're all poured into a bin where they're sorted, washed, smashed, ETC until everything is separated and they end up with olive oil! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm going to put a few thousand words' worth of pictures up to show the process:
All of the kids (including Peter) said it was the best field trip EVER. Of course, my happy-go-lucky kids think pretty much every outing is the best ever, and it did help that they got food and juice and their very own bottle of fresh olive oil at the end of the tour! :) It was sure fun to learn about the olive oil making process, though. It went well with our Greek History unit, as the Greeks tell the story of their city, Athens, and how it was named after the goddess Athena because she gave the city the gift of the olive tree. Olives are pretty versatile!
(I also have to add here, don't you think Josh is creepily big? Not sure if I like this growing up thing...)
For the second half of our 'day off' of Veteran's Day, on our way back from Um Qais, we stopped by Ajloun Castle! Now this is a pretty cool castle. It's not a serious rubble pile like most of the castles here. the kids LOVED it (probably because it was MUCH cooler temperature wise than Um Qais, and because there was a roof overhead through most of the castle. Shade and cooler temperatures do wonders for the temperament and enjoyment...)! We didn't have much time to explore, so we made the most of it by looking into every nook and cranny! It's always so wonderful to be outside!!
It's Veteran's Day, which gives us an American holiday to roam around the country without worrying about crowds. ha! Plus, we could give Flat Stanley a real tour of Jordan!
So, our vacation day is in two parts. Part one, is Um Qais. Um Qais is the ruins of a city up on a hill in the northwest corner of Jordan. In this spot we could see Israel, Syria and Lebanon! A good safe spot to be standing... *cough* It overlooks the Sea of Galilee, so now we've been all around the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberius as it is now known).
Um Qais has some pretty impressive ruins and a lovely view. We enjoyed exploring and finding pretty carved columns, and columns with REALLY cool patterns (made our of some pretty impressive stone--marble, probably), sparkly rocks, 'shops', and amphitheater... it was pretty cool!
Since it's my birthday, I'm allowed to do whatever I want! I wanted the kids to finish their jr rangers at Beverly Beach, so we did that. Then, my next request was a big one: to drive back up to Depoe Bay to take a Whale cruise! Wow! We got to go out on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to watch whales!! I teared up quite often while standing on this little boat watching the whales surface to breathe! :) Once it got within 5 feet of the boat and you could hear the 'whoosh' of the blowhole! Amazing!!!! I loved every second of it! We saw whales, sea lions, brown pelicans... It's something I'll never forget!
After the whales, we tried calling some campgrounds to get reservations so we would have someplace to park at the end of the day, since we've had such a hard time finding places. Unfortunately, state parks don't take reservations on the weekends! It's a first come, first served basis. Doh! So, we decided to start heading down toward our camp site of choice. On the way, we saw a lighthouse that I was interested in visiting. It was a national parks site, so we stopped in! I'm so glad we did! It was super awesome! The visitor's center was cool with lots of super friendly rangers. The kids got to do Jr Rangers yet again, and learned tons about lighthouses! We took a little walk down to some tide pools, but the tide was coming back in, so we didn't see much other than a few dead birds and a LOT of seals playing near by! Then we hiked up to the lighthouse and had a tour! It was one of the oldest and tallest (and best) lighthouses of Oregon! Cool! The Ranger who gave the tour was very cute--all dressed up as if it were 1880. The kids were mesmerized! :) It was so enjoyable!
At the end of the tour, we had to run down to the visitor's center in order to get our badges before they closed! We made it just in time, and the kids are now lighthouse experts (ha ha).
We headed down to the next RV park...but it was all full. Doh! It's my birthday! Didn't they realize that?? So were the next 4 on the list. :( Finally, we stopped off where we are now, which is a tiny little campground RIGHT next to the beach in the middle of a National Forest! Ha! It's so fun! We're completely surrounded by trees, and there are HUGE Huckleberry bushes all around us (YUM!!), and yet if you walk about 100 meters west, you're on a huge sandy beach! Pretty funny! The kids got to play on the beach until it was too dark to see, then we ate roasted chicken, black beans, and roasted sweet potatoes for dinner.
Since it was my birthday, we ate ICE CREAM! yes, I had ice cream. i only have a birthday once a year! It was Breyer's, so it was better than most ice creams... :D We used matches for the candles and it was silly. Then, I shoved the kids into bed and I'm hoping for the best. There's no power at this site we're at, so there is no fan...just the sound of the Pacific Coast Highway on one side and the crashing beach waves on the other. He he he...
As far as birthdays go, though, this was the BEST DAY EVER! :D
When we got up in the morning, we found that there is a cool Jr Ranger program for Oregon state parks! We were camping at Devin's Lake state Park, so that's where we start! The kids filled in their booklets and then we were off to find somewhere to do some laundry and go to the beach! :)
We found a coin op laundry place and had a great time throwing in ALL of our laundry at the same time! So fun! It's almost worth the $1.75 each load to be able to be done with a week's worth of laundry in less than 2 hours! Ha!
While we were waiting for the laundry, we took a walk, as we knew the beach was only a few blocks away!! We found a great beach access site, and the kids set out to have a great time! Dev and I left them on the beach with Devika and we ran back to finish the laundry. It was such a lovely day! When we got back, we all just enjoyed the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. So nice! I love the beach! Even if it's slightly chilly and cloudy, it's still incredible. It just goes on for forever and ever...
We had to leave to go grocery shopping, so we left the beach, grabbed food at the store, and cooked lunch in the parking lot. The kids and I did some science experiments while we were waiting, so that was good. :)
After eating, we headed on down the coast a bit more. We passed by a whale watching center, and stopped just out of curiosity. We walked in, and within seconds we saw whales!! Holy cow! apparently, at this particular spot, whales are there almost all year long! There's a pod (or 2?) that just migrate between there and Mexico. So, the chances of spotting whales in the ocean from that observatory are really high. The kids were SOOOOO excited! Better than a documentary! :) They did whale cruises, too, but they were all closed. Sadly, we only had 15 minutes to spend there before they had to close. We also learned that it was still high season there at the Oregon Coast, which is why it had been virtually impossible to find parking!!
So, in a panic, we found the nearest state park and found a spot. It was called Beverly Beach, and out of 350+ spots, there were 3 left. Whew!!! So, we got one right near the playground! :) It had a nice beach access, too, so we spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach...until Andrew and Peter made their 'volcanoes' in the sand explode and Andrew threw some of his 'lava rocks' at Peter's head. Oh well. It was time for bed anyway.
We headed home and passed the visitor's/ranger's station to pick up Jr Ranger booklets, and ended up going on a nature trail to get home. It was really pretty. We've decided that state parks are pretty much the best places to camp. Ever.
We really enjoyed our hike and learned lots of cool things with the help of our little Jr Ranger guide books. :) The kids played at the park while we cooked dinner, and we had a nice comfortable rest at this lovely park!
I should mention one of the things that I find difficult when I'm on the coast...no matter if I blow dry my hair or not, it ends up as you see above: a frizzy, curly-ish, wild mess! *sigh* Oh well. I'm on vacation.
We got up this morning and made our way into Portland. What a difference it is to be in a city vs all the time we'd been spending in the trees!!
Dev and i went to the temple and did a session (they let us in this time). The kids played with Devika. When we got out, we all went to the little visitor's center there and watched a few little movies. Then, we headed out to the coast!
Up to this point, we'd never had ANY problems finding anywhere to stay the night. There's always been plenty of room at every park we've stopped at--even the small ones! We haven't always had electricity, but that's been ok. Today, though, I needed a fan and we needed to find someplace with laundry. However, EVERY RV park we went to was completely full!! Holy Cow! We spent a really long time trying to find one--and ended up staying at a state park camping facility at the VERY LAST spot with electricity that they had open! Whew! We were able to plug in, cook our dinner over the coals and hope for a fun day at the beach the next day.
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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