A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Continuing with our preschool journey through phonics for Peter, we did the letter 'O' this week. I couldn't think of a whole lot of treats with the letter 'O' (we're out of oatmeal, so no oatmeal cookies or anything). So, we walked on up to the local donut place in the circle by our house and got donuts, because they LOOK like 'O's!! Then, to wash it all down and keep with the letter, we got Orange Juice.
Doesn't he look happy?
This post was brought to you by the Jordanian Donuts Factory and the H Mart in the Abdoun Circle. Oh, and the letter 'O'.
Well, here we go! Our first confined water dive in our scuba certification class! And I thought it was appropriate to put in this picture that shows that, yes, Josh is officially taller than me. Crazy, eh? Isn't he only 11? Yes. Yes, he is.
Our first dive was pretty amazing! I have to admit that I was super nervous before we started. I did study, and I have all the logistics in my head, but it's never cemented in until you do it! :) But it was like second nature--and the COOLEST THING EVER to just swim around the bottom of a 3 meter deep pool and pretend I was a barracuda while singing that song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks..."It's lovely bobbing along; bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea!" Ha! One of the interesting things that I've realized about scuba is that I can't chat with people while I'm looking at this super cool stuff in the water--so I'll be talking to myself. Huh. This will be interesting!
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!
For our Peter Preschool time, we've been doing a letter of the week. We spend a little time each day doing things that start with that letter. This week, our letter was 'N'. We made 'nests' (coconut macaroons). I put Robin Eggs in a jar and had the kids guess how many were in the jar (hooray for math...), then we divvied them out and the kids put them into their little nests! Ta-da! Best preschool ever! :)
Then, of course, I taught them the finer points of Robin Eggs:
This message brought to you by Easter and the letter 'N'.
We've had rain here in Jordan for like 3 days! It's been glorious! I am looking forward to how green everything will be next week. Hooray for spring! :)
Today we had co-op with all our home school friends. It's so great! I love having a full day of classes for my kids that I'm involved with...and yet not the teacher. I do teach a class, but none of my kids are in it. I teach recorder to the 10 year old girls. It's really fun and they're doing really well. A couple of the girls are stressing out, a couple of girls are somewhat bored because it's 'too easy', but most of them are right on target. Sounds like a good class. :D
This morning, though, I realized that I had signed up for the Preschool snack and that today was my day! GAH! I didn't realize that until about 8:45, and we had to leave in 15 minutes. Darn it. So, Josh cut a block of cheese into tiny little cheese cubes while I sliced up 8 big red apples and threw them in a bag with a little lemon juice, some sugar and some cinnamon. We arrived a little late, but it was ok. Apparently the little preschool kids liked my snack. There was nothing left when I got my bag back! 10 little kids sure eat a lot! Usually the kids get crackers or pretzels. I admit that I never give that to my kids, so I didn't have any on hand. It was sort of fun to bring a different snack.
Josh and Claire now have assignments to keep up their own little blogs. This is just as much for them to record their activities as it is an active typing practice. Hopefully it'll help them in many different respects. I always found that typing/writing about my daily activities made me think a little more about what I did. Feel free to check out their little blog rolls and see what they're posting.
And now you've enjoyed the first 'lame' blog post I've written in quite a long time. This is what happens when I try to update more often. You get the mundane. Oh well. It was interesting to me.
I have a few minutes before rushing off, and decided that I really need to get myself back in the habit of blogging. Both for myself, for my kids, for my family (parents and in-laws), and for times when Devin is taken away for training trips. So, I'm going to do a 'back post' without back-posting it! Whew. I don't think that made sense.
All last month, I really struggled. I was very angry, very snappy...pretty much a horrible person that no one wanted to be around. It was a tough inner struggle for me, as I kept thinking in my mind, "I love this person, I'm going to be nice to them!", and then I'd turn around and make snide remarks and bite their heads off. *sigh* I was frustrated and feeling in a rut. Devin and I had long discussions about this but nothing was really helping.
Finally, last weekend, Devin did the impossible: He took the day off. Yes, he has every Saturday off--figuratively speaking--but lately it's been spent catching up on work things, or doing church things, etc., and so EVERY SINGLE DAY is EXACTLY the same for me. I don't mind home schooling my kids. I love it, actually. But I NEED at least one day a week to be different. And I think that's what was bothering me!
Last Saturday, Devin dropped all his other projects, and just hung out with us. He made food for us. After Josh's violin lesson (I go with Josh to his lesson and I practice/play my clarinet while he has his lesson--it's LOVELY), Devin surprised me by piling us all in the car, taking us to Burger Shack, and then to a big outdoor park. The kids played and played and we were all outside together! It was wonderful! Ever since that day, I've felt calm and at peace with the world (I know that it's more than just THAT day that's been helping, but that was the turning point).
I'm so grateful for a husband who is so thoughtful and cares for my needs and that of my family. I'm so blessed.
On to today's news: I had a lovely lunch with some friends--specifically with one friend I've been trying to get to come to 'social' gatherings for some time. I know it isn't because she doesn't WANT to, but that's exactly why I felt like it was necessary to get her out! She works HARD and has an 8 month old baby. I love this lady. I hope she had a nice day out.
This morning, the kids and I had a long heart-to-heart about our math studies. I really don't like the curriculum we're using right now (and no, I'm not going to mention what it is). I think it's vague, doesn't give any explanations or helps... It would probably be an ok supplement, but not a core curriculum. So I've been pondering about what to do about it. I want something that will help them get to where they need to be in math without them feeling overwhelmed or frustrated...and without ME feeling overwhelmed and frustrated! I LOVE math, but I really don't have the time to sit down with each one and give them an hour long math lesson every day. I'd love to, but I can't. I've been thinking about getting some sort of curriculum that was DVD based so they could watch the dvds, but I haven't had a lot of success with DVD based curriculums thus far. Today, though, as I was browsing, I remembered someone mentioning the Khan Academy, so I decided to look it up. It's AWESOME! I have an account as a parent with my kids signed up under me and I can see exactly what they've done and how they're doing, which can help me see what to do to help them better understand a concept, PLUS he has these little teaching example videos that are 2-2 1/2 minutes long that explain the concept to the kids (or whomever). Josh and Claire took to it immediately! They get special points for completing a class and get badges to show their accomplishments. Josh spent an hour on it this morning. Both of them asked if they could use this as their math now. Cool. I'll try it. It will teach them what they need to know, and I can supplement what they don't understand, or give practice as they need using these other math websites with worksheets and stuff. The kids like that during math time now, they get to use their iPads with earphones on so they can watch the videos and take the quizzes. I'm just happy they're excited about math again. I hope this works. I feel like the older ones are way behind where they should be because of the nature of the math book we were try
I'm feeling a little tired today. It's been a fun weekend full of, well, not much..and yet, everything. Yesterday was supposed to be nice and laid back. I suppose it was, compared to our norm. However, we spent the day at violin lessons, grocery shopping, and then sprucing up the house. The kids and I played some games. Mostly, though, I've been at the computer getting some school stuff done. I just finished writing the Mid-Term for my kids. Yes, my kids take tests, too. It's a 13 page comprehensive midterm. I have on it Poetry, Earth Science, Astronomy, Reading and Literature, History, Geography... And each one of my kids will have a page of spelling and math, too. Funny story, though: I told Josh that I was writing a midterm test, and he smiled and said, "Cool". Yes Josh, it is cool. And so are you.
I've also been writing Literature Units. I decided that the kids need to have a little more done with their reading. They read a LOT, but I'm not always involved in it. So, Josh and I are going to read The Hobbit together. Claire requested Alice in Wonderland. I've spent the past few days organizing materials to make them some pretty fantastic lit units. Each chapter will have vocabulary, comprehension questions, essay questions, quotations, extension activities, and other little things. Plus, they'll do a big final project at the end. THEN, after we've read it, we'll get to watch the movie(s) and write a paper comparing and contrasting the book vs the film. I'm pretty excited! One of Josh's friends is going to join Josh in his lit unit, so Josh will be having a class with a friend! I think it will be pretty neat!
I must say, I'm sort of tired of sitting in front of the computer. Luckily, the midterm test will be this Thursday (yes, my kids are taking a big test on Thanksgiving morning...but that way Devin will be here to help me out, since this is going to be a little intense and Peter won't have anything to do), which will lift a bit of stress off my shoulders. Maybe I should post my cute little test on here and you can see how you'd do! Ha! Are you smarter than a 5th grader? That was a good show. Maybe I should watch it. It could give me some good ideas.
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!
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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