A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
What a day. And not really in a good way. Yet, it ended well, so what can I say?
Huh. That sounded like a Dr. Seuss story.
In a nutshell, we were slated to leave Rexburg right after breakfast. We were ready to go by 9am! Record time! I should have known something would happen to kill that one off... We took off, and stopped by Radio Shack in order to set up my phone number/data plan on my new iPhone that I got for my birthday. Actually, AT&T was first. They said no, go see Radio Shack. Radio Shack said no, go see Best Buy in I.F. We went to Walmart instead. Walmart said yes, here you go. I popped the SIM card in, and my phone said no. We spent the next 4 hours trying to figure out why. In the end, between Mike, Daniel, and Devin, we found that the phone just belongs to Sprint and can't be unlocked unless you have a long-standing account with them and have, in essence, 'paid for' your phone. We tried calling the guy we bought it from to see if he would be kind enough to help us unlock the phone, but when we finally got through to him, we lost the connection and he never called us back. Daniel figured out a 'loophole', where he would sign his sprint contract on our phone, then go unlock it....except they're making him keep it for 30 days before he can do that. So, to fix the problem, we looked on Craigslist and saw that someone listed an iPhone 4S--UNlocked already--so we ran down to I.F., met the guy, bought the phone, popped in the SIM, and off we went! We only left 7 hours late. And now I am a proud owner of two iPhone 4S's. So silly. *sigh* One day lost.
But not really. We got to Craters of the Moon at 7pm, just in time for the evening Ranger programs!!! And it was perfect! We went on an 'evening stroll' with a Ranger and discovered all about the volcano ring and cinders surrounding us. We learned about A'a and Pa'hoe'hoe lava flows and climbed on them. These kids will NEVER forget the name of the lava flows! Best way to learn something to hear it, see it, touch it... :)
At 8pm was the Jr. Ranger program, where the kids got to learn things and earn their badges in one fell blow! At 8:30 was the evening program, which was SUPER cool, because as the program went on, first there were bats flying over us as dusk left and as the darkness fell, a huge storm blew in (that was all bark and no bite)! The winds picked up and there was lightning all around! It was so cool! Claire cried the whole time! Ha! We got back to our lovely campsite, put the kids to bed, and by that time, the storm had blown itself out, so Devin, Devika and I sat outside at our picnic table and looked at the most AMAZING stars we've ever seen! The Milky Way was crystal clear! It was so beautiful! Honestly, it was the perfect way to end such a tough and frustrating day.
Movie in Hebrew with Arabic subtitles... :/
Today turned out MUCH differently than I had intended. I got up intending to take the kids to Herodium--King Herods winter palace/tomb. We got to go to a big exhibition of it at the Israel museum a few weeks back, and thought it would be really cool to see the thing in real life.
I popped in the place in the GPS, and noticed it was acting really funky. First off, it took a few MINUTES to calculate. That doesn't bode well. THEN, when it finally came up, the directions went directly south, with a perpendicular line east to the site. That didn't seem quite right. I started to follow anyway. The 'road' that it told me to go on kept shifting and I just couldn't seem to find it. I finally stumbled on the road that takes you to Bethlehem, and as I zoomed out on the GPS, I saw that Herodium was further away than Bethlehem and smack dab in the middle of the West Bank (Palestine). Now, if I were with Devin, I may have still tried it out. But there were a few things against me. First off, the GPS doesn't work in that area, which is why it wasn't giving me any specific directions. Second off, while we CAN drive in the West Bank, there are many places we're not allowed to go, and I don't know where they are. Third, if ANYTHING were to happen and the checkpoints were closed, I'd be stuck, and it could potentially be dangerous. Maybe not, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. As I was meandering around the city, trying to find my way, some guy jumped in the middle of the street and flagged me down. He told me that Herodium (aka Herodion, Herodyon...they're very loose with their spelling here) was over an hour from here, but he could take me if I just jumped in his taxi! He could take me there and to Bethlehem and to Masada... Now, these ARE places I'd like to see, but not by myself with the kids in some strange guys' taxi. No, thank you.
So, we changed our plans. I had planned to go to some Stalactite Caves, so I entered that into the GPS, and off we went! It didn't take more than a few seconds to get the directions up, so I knew it was safe. :) It still took 45 minutes to get there, but the drive was GORGEOUS!! We wound our way through mountains covered with evergreen trees. There was hardly anyone on the road. It was lovely!
The caves were interesting... We got there right in the middle of about 45 school groups. Sheesh. The lady at the ticket counter took our money, and told us to tag along with the school groups. You couldn't get into the caves without a tour guide. So, we tagged along. The group was an Arabic school group. The guide spoke only Hebrew. So, she told them things in Hebrew, then a teacher translated it into Arabic, and the kids and I looked for bugs. They gave a whole schpill outside the caves, then showed a movie, then we FINALLY got to go in. It was really pretty inside--very cool formations and the lights changed colors just for fun. The groups inside were sort of annoying, since they had to stop every once in awhile and talk some more--in Hebrew and Arabic. Luckily, the kids and I were able to slip by a few groups and do our own thing. We were grateful for the education we received when we went to the Timpanogos Caves this past summer, as we knew most of the formations! Peter had never been in a cave like this, so we taught him the names of all the different formations: Stalactites, stalagmites, cave straws, flowstones, cave popcorn. The cave popcorn was Peter's favorite. At one point, there was this 'field' of cave popcorn next to a little pool. Peter looked at the pool and said, "Look! An ancient bath!" Smart kid! I told him that this was where they people anciently had movie nights. They ate a lot of popcorn and made a big mess, then jumped into the bath to clean off. The kids thought that was very funny. :)
Claire on the top floor of the fortress!
After our cave tour, we found a park off to the side of the road in the mountains! We had a picnic, and the kids played for hours. They found a BIG playhouse. When Andrew told Peter to take a look at that, Peter said, "Oh. A fortress." He's a riot! They played house (I was the grandma. I'm ashamed at my kids and their lack of respect for my youth!) and enjoyed themselves immensely. I did get a chance to sit and just enjoy the peace of the forest. I watched these very pretty birds fly all over...and eat our discarded fruit! :)
It was a day well spent!
Our cute little trees that we planted!!
In honor of Earth Day, we did a super cool activity today: We planted a tree in a National Forest here in Israel! How cool is that?? We drove out about 40 minutes outside of the city into the middle of nowhere (SO pretty!!) into an area that they’re trying to re-forest. A very nice park ranger met us there and told us a little about what we were going to do… Of course, he didn’t get very far, because he made the mistake of passing out pickaxes before giving us his shpill. Ha!! We each got a tree (an Arizona Cypress, actually) and we walked out into this big field full of baby trees and irrigation pipes. There, we dug holes and planted our little baby trees! Then, the kids started hacking away at the rocks and dirt, and started finding ancient pottery. The Ranger said they could keep the pottery they found and they were ecstatic! So, they collected ancient pottery for a museum… We got certificates for participating, and flags that said, “I planted a tree in Israel!” On our way out of the forest, we found an area with picnic tables, so we stopped and ate our picnic lunch. The kids ran around and climbed on the rocks and found an old jeep which of course became TIV 3 (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) and they happily played storm chasers for another hour! We finally headed home when it really started to rain on us
Once home, I set up the jaccuzzi bath tub and everyone took turns in the Jacuzzi (or jakuzey, as they spell it on the wall sticker). After Jacuzzi time, we have our ancient pottery museum.
You can tell these kids have been to a lot of museums… They even charged me admittance fee! Sheesh. How’s that for gratitude? :D
Um, not a rose... An Orange Blossom!
Yesterday, I must admit, was one of those 'trial of faith' days. Sunday night I got hit with something and I was up most of the night super sick. Monday morning, I wasn't much better. However, the show must go on, right? I've discovered when I take a 'day off', it's much more stressful than just biting the bullet and going out.
So, out we went! We had the Wohl Rose Gardens on our next list of things to do. I drove to a nearby park where I knew there was free parking, but it was chock full. Doh. So, I decided that since the garden was free, I'd just park in meter parking. Well, I only had 50 cents. I put the 50 cents in as I was curious as to how much time that would buy me...but 4 minutes wouldn't even get us across the street. :/ So, I pushed the red 'exit' button, and it took my money! Dumb meter.
We drove up to the park entrance and everything was meter/pay parking. I was getting so frustrated as I had no way to pay! Finally, I drove up to a restricted section hoping some nice guy with a big machine gun would come and help me out. He did. I rolled down my window and asked if there were somewhere where I could easily get some change for meter parking as I had none. He told me to go to the stop light, turn left, and immediately on the right is a big FREE parking garage! Hooray! Then he told me to have a nice day. Well, I hope he has LOTS of nice days for giving me that little golden nugget of info!
We found the parking garage easily. The problem was that the entire thing was in Hebrew, so if you had no Hebrew language skills (like yours truly) you'd just pass it by. I drove bravely in, asked the people for a little help figuring out the ticket thingy, and in we drove like we owned the place! We found a nice parking spot after driving around a bit (I admit, I was a LITTLE worried we'd be paying afterall, since the ticket was totally undecipherable to me) and we unloaded ourselves and prepared for a nice park day. Unfortunately, it took us 30 minutes just to figure out how to get OUT of the building!!! HA!! All signs being in Hebrew and the universal picture, it was a little confusing. According to the signs, there were two ways to exit. We took the wrong one. We were led up some back stairs and to a door that was locked. Dang. Luckily, no alarms sounded, and we weren't locked into the stairwell. We got out and found another place with stairs and elevators that looked more promising. We went to the wrong level (um, down instead of up) and found ourselves at a dead-end in the bowels of the parking garage...so we turned back around and retraced our steps back to that promising elevator place and went up this time. We found the way out after some twists and turns. Whew. Then we were very turned around and had idea where we were, so we just started walking. Luckily, it was the right direction. We found our way to the park! Hooray! We celebrated by sitting on some benches and eating the lunch we had packed.
The Rose Garden itself was very pretty. There was a 'Garden of Nations' that was very cool. Many countries had donated roses from their own lands to put in this garden, so there were different sections (ie England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, etc.) and each section looked a little like that country's garden may appear (with little walkways, trellises, fountains, etc.). Very pretty. The kids loved smelling the roses. Yes, we stopped to smell the roses that day.
Happily, we made it home later without incident, and I have a free parking garage to add to my arsenal. Woot!
Today, I'm feeling much better, thank you. I got up and did a quick exercise routine outside before Devin left for work at 7. It's nice to have the sun up so early. The kids created a haunted house for me while I was in the shower, so I got to enjoy their creativity again (I don't think I mentioned the magic show they made for me yesterday as I was groaning in pain and trying to motivate myself to get up and be productive). :) They're so much fun!
After I was thoroughly frightened by them (Zombie-Andrew has a grip), we did some morning school routine (math/history readings) and then we were off to the Bloomfield science museum! Obviously, this is no Smithsonian nor Heureka (Finland's super awesome science museum), but it was a fun diversion. We saw some cool electricity exhibits, optical illusions, water exhibits, etc:
But the favorites were a big 'ball toy' (for lack of a better name): They had iron rebar soldered together into this big wire-y contraption and you rolled balls all over it along pathways. The pictures explain better than my words...
They spent a good two hours on that thing--it really never got old! Then, the looked out the window and what did they see? (Not popcorn) A giant sandbox with cool sand toys! Luckily, it was a windy somewhat cold day, so all the myriads of kids who were there (on school field trips--just like us!) didn't particularly want to hang out in the sandbox. So, these guys spent another few hours driving dump trucks around and paving 'roads'. They had a ball! They made their 'roads' all over and were very proud of their accomplishment!
When I walked outside to see them, I was hit with the most astounding and lovely smell. It was sort of like a strong lilac. I asked the kids if they knew the source of the smell and the all pointed at the orange trees planted all over the sandbox area! Wow. I've seen perfumes/soaps, etc., touting the orange blossom scent, but I don't know that I've ever smelled a real orange blossom. Oh, it was lovely. I'd wear that, for sure...
After 5 hours of being at the museum, I had to literally drag them all out, kicking and screaming. You'd think they'd be tired by then, but no, they were wishing for more! sheesh.
So, we came home, I popped some fish in the oven, and we ran over to a nearby park so they could run some MORE. I told them they could only have 15 minutes, because Devin would soon be home. They were not deterred. They WERE however, angry when I told them that time was up! Ha!!! But, they had a special treat: on our way home, Devin's shuttle drove by and dropped him off. Peter was SO excited to see daddy get off the van! And the other kids had seen him and hid behind a wall so they could pop out and yell 'SURPRISE!!" and attack him. They're very good at that.
It's been a lovely day. It's nice to not feel sick any more. I'm not sure what it was. But, I'm ready for some more adventures tomorrow! Woohoo!
I was really surprised the first day we had snow. Imagine my surprise when we had a SECOND day of snow!! We even ended up with a good 6 inches on the ground! The kids loved it--and even though we are definitely NOT equipped for it anymore, they insisted on playing in it as much as possible. It was so pretty, but made driving not so fun. They closed the embassy and pretty much every store in the city (sort of like Washington D.C. in the snow), which made our planned outings impossible. Sad. But, we enjoyed some quiet family time at home.
Most of these pictures were taken last night. It was so quiet and peaceful with a light blanket of snow!
What do we do during a snow day stuck inside? Play basketball, of course! :) Love these guys!!!
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!
After our lovely trip to the Dead Sea, Claire realized the next day that she had left her precious box of Barbie trinkets (you know, all the little tiny things that go with Barbies...like the shoes, purses, crowns, silverware, dishes, food, etc.) at the hotel! Yikes! Normally, I'd just say, "too bad" (yes, I'm a mean mom)...and admittedly, I did say just that (I TOLD her not to bring that!!), but I called the hotel anyway to see if they had it there. They did! So, we got to drive back down to the dead sea and pick up her special box...along with a few other things she had left there! (Apparently, she decided to 'move in' and put her things in the drawers and we didn't know that! She had a few purses, some slippers and some Barbies along with her box of stuff! Sheesh.) Well, since we had to go that way anyway, we decided to make the best of it and go on a school field trip to the new Dead Sea Panorama Complex! It's a museum about the Dead Sea along with some spectacular views--it's situated on a cliff--and some cool cliff-side hikes! We got down to the hotel (luckily, it's only 35min away), picked up Claire's stuff, then went on a little further down the road and up some awesome switchbacks to the museum complex! (The best part, though, was halfway up when Claire just HAD to go to the bathroom--she gets a little crazy when that happens--think Apple Dumpling Gang--so I stopped next to a little ditch, gave her some baby wipes, and told her to go down into the ditch...and then Peter and Andrew decided they needed to go, too, so they climbed down--except that Peter climbed back up the other side and did his business up at the top. I tried to hide as cars would pass and 3 of my children were relieving themselves on the side of the road...)
The ride down the switchbacks was SO cool, as I could see the view a little better this time, and I could see Jerusalem!! It was so neat to see that as we went back down the mountain! :) Would I go back? Yep. Good times.
I hadn't seen my mom's side of the family for a VERY long time! Some of them, it had been a few years (my grandma). Some had been 10 years, some 20+, and some I'd never even met! It was a great time to be together. WAY too short, I thought, but it was good to enjoy even that short time! Our venue of choice this year was the Grand Canyon! We stayed in Williams, AZ. What a fun little town! It boasted as being the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed. It reminded me a little of Radiator Springs (from the movie Cars)--a small town still trying to be small while still trying to be noticed! There were live performances at many of the restaurants, and there was a live Wild West type show in the middle of the street every evening! So fun!!
The Grand Canyon
This place does deserve it's own title! It was amazing! It's SO HUGE that it looks just totally unreal.
We had such a lovely time! Of course, it wasn't without its issues (like Peter screaming most of the morning, and Josh being a little on the grumpy side...and everyone was HOT HOT HOT and miserable during our little hike), but I think that's part of the 'charm' of family get-togethers! Ha! I could have only wished for a few days' more so we could have had more time to chat and play and maybe do some hiking!
One of my favorite highlights from the trip were eating lunch by the clock tower! We had just arrived and were trying to find somewhere to eat (well, and someTHING to eat! My parents were in charge of dinner and had dutch oven on the menu--only no one counted on one thing--the fire alert was on extreme and you weren't allowed to start any fires with wood, charcoal, or anything else! Gah!! We looked and looked for somewhere to cook it to no avail. Finally, we just parked ourselves by a big clock on a street corner, dug into our coolers and came up with cold cuts and veggies, etc., and ate right there! We did run into one little issue: It started to rain while we were eating! It didn't rain very hard, and the sun was still shining, however, my poor displaced and exhausted children had some serious issues with that rain! Andrew loved it. Josh complained. Claire sobbed her little heart out. :( Poor little girl. It didn't last long and was pretty funny since it was sunny, but it was enough to throw a real wrench in the enjoyment of dinner for my little ducklings.
My other favorite highlights were: going running with my cousin Leah! It was so nice to get out and run and chat with my cousin! Thanks, Leah, for running with me! I also enjoyed our one late night chat in the hotel hallway! Wish we could have done it again! Thank you everyone who came and made this a fun reunion!
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:
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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