A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
So, we're home now. It wasn't so bad, really... Our first flight from SLC to Paris was pretty fun since we all just sat and watched movies, however, we all paid for it! We got to Paris at 11am our time, and had stayed up for like 30 hours. DOH! The layover in Paris wasn't so bad, since they have playstations set up for the kids to play video games, and a little play area for the smaller kids to play in...but the flight from Paris to Amman was pretty grueling. Claire slept the ENTIRE time, and I could not get her to wake up. So did Andrew...until he woke up SCREAMING because he had to go to the bathroom. Funny thing, though--apparently, I had fallen asleep, too, because I remember dreaming that I was looking around, wondering whose poor kid was crying and if I could help, only to find out it was mine. :/ Devin had gone to the bathroom with Peter, so Andrew was all by his lonesome (I was sitting between Josh and Claire). He was still mostly asleep, so he couldn't get his seat belt off to get out of his chair. I finally woke up and realized it was Andrew, jumped up over Josh (who was sleeping), and dragged him out of his seat. Sadly, there was quite the line and the people in the bathrooms took a loooooong time (Devin and Peter being one of them). I finally got Andrew in, and he was in there forever. I kept peeking in, and he was just standing there, saying he was ok. Then, I finally poked my head in and asked if I could help, and found out that he had messed his pants while waiting in line. *sigh* So, now WE were one of THOSE people who take a really looooong time in the bathroom. :/ I helped him our of his pants and just chucked the underwear in the trashcan (sorry airplane people) and wiped him off as best I could with wet paper towels. Ah, well. Another bad thing about the last flight--the food was TERRIBLE. We're talking BAD. Ugh. AND there was no inflight movie! What?? It's a 5 hour flight, people! They would sometimes put some random tv show on. But good grief, even the scrolling map of where you are is better than a blank screen.
Even with all of that, it was a good trip. No other incidents. And it could have been much worse. The lady behind me had an 18 month old, a 7 month old, and she was 5 months pregnant. The 7 month old baby screamed the entire 5 hours. My heart ached for her. She was very nice. I'm glad for all the horrible kid experiences I've had on airplane trips, as it makes me not annoyed at all when kids are loud or screaming on airplanes. I empathize and remember and shiver at the memory, so I never want to be those horrible ignorant people who made my life more miserable than it already was when I was having those problems. :/
But, we made it. It's nice to be home, be mom again, and to get into a regular routine. The kids are doing 'homeschool lite' (meaning we're reviewing and drilling in the mornings), we're spending lots of time at the pool, and we're just enjoying playing. It's nice and warm again, and I'm actually turning on the A/C, so for those of you who know how cold I get, this is a big step for me! :) I'm looking forward to getting some more groups started and getting the kids back into music lessons and easing us back into our rigorous school schedule. Schedules are just better for us all around. The kids function better and I can think better. It's funny how even as a homeschool mom, I can't wait for school to start again! :)
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.
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.
In Andrew's words, as is his norm, this was the BEST DAY EVER!! Mt Rainier is one heck of a spectacular park. We learned that the roads of the park were specifically engineered to give you the most breath-taking and spectacular views possible. They did a really good job. As you go around switchbacks, around every turn is an amazing view of this huge towering volcano. Wow.
We were able to stop at some reflection lakes and got a few nice pictures. I couldn't believe how blessed we were to be at Mt Rainier on a crystal clear day. We saw the summit for two whole days! Many park visitors, we learned, come and go without ever even SEEING the top of the volcano! So beautiful, and made for such wonderful pictures! :)
After the lakes stop, we made it up to Paradise. Yep. Aptly named. It was so beautiful! We stopped in to the visitor's center so the kids could do their Jr Ranger. We lucked out and got there just in time to finish the booklet part and have a Ranger-led discussion, so they got their badges in less than an hour. Impressive! Then we ran down to the motorhome (which was parked on an overlook over a huge valley), cooked lunch, then ran back up to go on a hike up some of the mountain! We were planning to hike quickly, then go on our way. It didn't happen that way, though. Instead, as we were hiking up, we saw a whole lot of plants that we recognized: Wild Blueberries!!!! So, we spent 5 hours on the slopes of Mt Rainier picking blueberries!! YUMMY!! We ate and ate and ate, and also managed to fill 2 waterbottles full of them! The kids passed them out to hikers who passed by. We had a GREAT time and there were sure some gorgeous views on the way.
Honestly, it really was the best day ever. We had a great time just taking it easy and munching on wild berries in a subalpine forest. You can't ask for more than that!
We camped on the other side of the park at a cute little spot with a playground. the kids were so happy and played while we did some laundry. Hooray for modern conveniences.
And just for fun, here's a lovely panoramic view:
Well, here we are on a Sunday morning, and let me tell you, it's been an interesting ride already, and it's only 9:30am!! We all got up early in order to get ready for church. The kids all showered (GASP!!), and we pulled out in plenty of time to arrive at church. We found it easily (thank you, GPS) and were 10 minutes early! However, as we pulled into the parking lot, we saw that we were either REALLY early, or no one else knew what time church started there. Doh! The parking lot was empty, the building locked; 9am came and went and not one soul passed through. The only conclusion we could come up with was that it was stake conference day.
So, instead, we plugged the computer into the audio cable in the motorhome and we're listening to last April's conference over our own loud speakers as we make our way to Mt Rainier. Here's another sad thing. We drove all through Washington yesterday without seeing ONE fruit stand. And now, we're on a local highway, and we've seen NOTHING BUT fruit stands! Oh, the sadness! Since we can't attend church, though, we should probably make an effort to keep the Sabbath day holy. Sacrifices. It's so sad to pass by all these peach and apple orchards without stopping to pick some! :( Oh well. That's what happens when you leave on your vacation a few days late.
(later) What a perfect day! We drove up the Chinook pass to the Eastern side of Mt Rainier. SO beautiful!
We entered the park and hiked a trail called 'Grove of the Patriarchs'. An easy trail through a SUPER old growth forest that consisted of HUGE trees, banana slugs (they're so big!), plants, flowers, mosquitoes...and EVERYTHING was covered in moss!! It was so beautiful! We got to play next to a river, a butterfly landed on Claire, we crossed a suspension bridge (which was supposed to be one person at a time, but the kids wouldn't move, so I had to get on and shoo them along)... It was a lovely hike!
Next, we were driving to our campsite and saw another hike called Silver Falls, so we decided to do that one. We trekked down a steep mountain side to these beautiful falls! So pretty! The kids loved the bridge!
We made it to our campsite early and settled ourselves into the BEST campsite ever! No electricity (yet again), but we camped right next to a stream, and that was the kids' favorite part! As soon as we parked, the kids jumped out of the RV and proceeded to play. They were angry when we told them it was time for bed (like 5 hours later)! I'm sure they'll be up early, ready to jump in the stream again! They were making a boat regata--complete with dock, launching site, and races! I love imagination! There's nothing you can't do with rocks, sticks and water!
While the kids played, Dev and I went on a 'date night' walk around the area. We found a little path that led to a 'hot springs'. It wasn't marked, but we found it by the smell and the warmth. Interesting. Sort of freaky, but it was there. Then we found lots of cool GIANT moss covered rocks. My favorite was one that Devin's standing by a giant moss covered rock with trees growing out of it! Cool!
And for those who are fans of Anansi the Spider: "Look at that strange moss covered rock!" *Kaboom!*
Boy, am I tired. Last night at about 1am, Peter started to cry a bit. Usually, that means that he has to go potty, so I jumped up to help him. When I got to him, I smelled a WAVE of NASTINESS! Vomit and diarreah hit me and I thought, "Oh no, no, no, no...PLEASE no!!" Yes. Peter had thrown up all over himself and had diarrhea, and what was worse (yes, it's worse) it was probably an hour or so previous to that time that that had happened. So it was dried onto him. Oh gross. Poor kid was caked with all the gross things of this earth. I tried to wipe him down as best I could with baby wipes and a cold wash rag (no hot water in the motor home). Finally Devin woke up, so he was able to take Peter over to a warm shower while I cleaned up as best I could. I had to climb up to the loft bed and face the monster that awaited me. I peeled the pillowcase off his pillow (YUCK!!!), then I had to tug the sheet out from under Josh on one side and Andrew on the other. Luckily, they were so dead to the world that they didn't even notice! I'm pretty sure I didn't leave any chunks behind (*vomit sound*), and I was able to sweep most of the stuff off the floor from the initial undressing of Peter (*more vomit sounds*). I tried to clean his pillow using a wet rag and some hand sanitizer (that makes an interesting smell). I piled all the sheets, blankets and rags into a laundry bag and got Peter some new clean clothes and made him a bed on the floor next to us for the night. Poor little guy. We got him all dressed after his warm shower and he fell back asleep and slept all night. I think that got it out of his system, as he seems to be back to normal today. Good times. I'm just grateful that we were at an RV park with water and showers and power. The power kept the fan going which covered all the noise of our nighttime efforts, and the shower was indispensible in getting poor Peter cleaned off.
After we all managed to get up (blah), we headed back out on the road. My goal was to get to Spokane and go to the temple and hopefully get all the way to Rainier. I think, though, that when I have these journey's-end-goals in mind, I become extra ornery and it's impossible to live with me. We drove through Missoula, then through Ceour D'Alene. Devin wanted to stop in Ceour D'Alene and see the lake and I got super ticked off. He did it anyway, which made me even madder! It WAS a beautiful spot. And what a shame that I ruined it by being snotty! I spent the whole time at that peaceful spot wondering when we were going to leave and checking my watch! Sometimes I surprise myself. Where did this come from?
Well, I finally got my way and we were on our way to Spokane. We found a park by the temple, dropped off the kids and Devika, and we went to MY goal. Yes, the temple is a GOOD goal, but I was honestly going about it the wrong way... Anyway, we get there only to find that it's a super small temple. Not only is it a super small temple, but it's the BUSIEST temple!! They were totally booked and wouldn't let us in!!!! They put us at the bottom of a super long waiting list, and we went to a waiting room where I sat down and just sobbed. I told Devin we should just go, but then the temple president came in and asked if we'd be interested in a sealing session if he organized one. Ok. I was a blubbering mess, though.
Red-eyed, he led us through to where we needed to be and arranged a sealing session for us and another couple who were in the same predicament. It was a lovely session. I'm actually glad it happened that way. Half the time, I didn't need to be attentive at all, so I was able to think and be introspective. I realized how uptight and unbearable I've been acting and that I really need to realign myself and lighten up. I've worked very hard to lighten up and be more flexible and I was regressing. I was also able to remember that time almost 12 years ago when Devin and I knelt across that altar to be sealed together for time and all eternity. I love him even more than I did then. It was time for me to let go again and just enjoy the journey, if not for myself, for him! So, while we didn't get to do an endowment session as I had planned, what we did was what I really needed. I'm back, and I am fine. I was able to take a deep breath, apologize to Devin, and make a resolution to do better.
After our outing to the temple, we picked the kids back up and started on our way to Yakima, WA. We had about 3 1/2 hours to go. Halfway there, Devin decided he wanted to stop at a lookout area. My first thought was, "No way! We need to get to Yakima so we can get a spot and cook dinner and get the kids to bed at a decent hour!" Then, I stopped myself. Why do we need to get to Yakima so fast? We don't. Why do we have to have a spot in an RV park in order to cook dinner? We don't. Does it REALLY matter if the kids stay up a little later right now? No. We're on vacation. it's ok. So, we stopped. There were paths to run on up to this cliff overlook of the Columbia River. It was beautiful! We all ran on the paths and played! Devika made us dinner of fish, pumpkin and salsa! We ate dinner while the sun set over the Columbia River! The kids and I found cool basalt rocks to add to their special school rock collections and we did some science experiments using the COOLEST experiment book I've ever found! We learned about sedimentary rocks by cutting Snickers bars in half and inspecting them with magnifying glasses, then looking at shale. We had a GREAT time, and we would have missed it if I would have put up a fuss. What other wonderful times have we missed in the past few days because I've been uptight? I don't want to think about it. I'm ready to be open to impulse stops and unplanned awesomeness!! :)
After dinner, we loaded back up and headed on down the road to Yakima. The kids played on the iPad and listened to radio dramas and stayed up late (almost 9--Ha!). We found an RV park that was almost completely full. We stopped and were able to wash Peter's yucky sheets/blankets. I showered and felt much better. There was some GREAT wi-fi, so I was able to download some apps on my phone and do some other little things. I fell asleep feeling much more comfortable with myself. That's a good feeling.
Today was mostly spent driving. We got up late, did some laundry, left late, and drove up through Idaho, through Montana (Missoula), and over to the panhandle where we decided to stop for the night.
We stayed at a cute little RV park in Wallace, Idaho that was nestled in a pretty little canyon by a little creek. So lovely. Devin and the kids roasted marshmallows on a wood fire...AND we got WiFi! Woohoo!
Bunch of sickos!
I'm sure EVERYONE is wondering why I haven't posted for awhile. Well, the problem is, mostly, that there hasn't been TONS to post about...AND there's been too much going on! How does that work, you might ask?
Well, first of all, there's the picture...that sums up the entire last week of our stay in Israel. Josh got sick while we were in Tel Aviv. A few days later, the other three all got it. :( They were down with fevers and colds, aches and pains. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday had all of them sitting on the couches in comas while watching movies. This time, however, their eyes weren't glazed over by the 'movie monster'--it was glazed with fever. I felt so bad for the poor little munchkins! They were little lumps for days on end! They didn't even get crazy with cabin fever after staying still for so long. Yes, they were sick.
Friday and Saturday, we took advantage of the sickness and spent most of the time cleaning up the apartment in order to leave. I just hate the final cleaning. It gives me nightmares. I feel like nothing is ever clean enough and I start obsessing over it. Not a healthy thing. But, we managed it, and no one was the worse for wear (I think).
Sunday morning, with two little boys still getting over the fever, we started our journey homeward. We only stopped to find some Jerusalem magnets (we collect magnets for the fridge from everywhere we've lived or stayed for longer than 2 days) and a gas station. The car was loaded and we were hoping fervently for a quick and easy border crossing so we could be home by lunchtime!
Nope. To make a LONG story short: Apparently the person who took Devin through the border crossing INTO Israel, forgot to take him to the place to get the car registered in Israel and pay the Israeli car insurance! That's a BIG whoops!! It took almost 2 hours to sort that one out, and after Peter finally screamed himself to sleep in my lap (poor kid with his high fever) I think the people took pity on us and let us go. They threatened that they wouldn't let us go home, though! They said that, "No Hebrew papers, you don't go home!" I almost fell into a little purple puddle right then. Home. That's what I wanted. A place where we could rest and get over being sick!
We made it, though. We got through and back to our home. We hit a little roadblock when we opened our front door, though. Devin walked in and noticed that the main circuit breaker was tripped. I didn't think much about it. So what? We don't need electricity when we're not here! And then... (**dum dum dum--scary theme music placed here***) we opened the freezers. Oh gross. Dead and decomposing livestock lived in them along with a colony of fruit flies...and I don't know what else. It was the most horrendous smell I've ever encountered. The insides of the freezers were almost black, everything had oozed down the doors and out and onto the floors and was dried up. We spent hours cleaning with bleach and any other disinfectant we could get our hands on. No good. They looked alright, but when we plugged them in, it would start to heat up...and our house would smell like a dead cow all over again! UGH!!! So, spoiled people that we are, we asked for replacements and got them...now we are the proud owners of a new fridge and upright freezer. They're lovely and wonderful and I will never leave anything in them when we go on an extended stay trip ever again. I think this happened partly because we've never left home that long before. When we leave for that long, it's usually homeleave. Anyway, lesson learned.
Other than that, we're back to 'normal' life. We do school here and there. We're doing a unit study on oceans. And we're studying Greek myths...because I love them! The kids take tennis and swimming lessons for the summer. Josh and I are starting training to become certified scuba divers. I decided this would be a great 4th grade oceans unit immersion project! :) We're hoping that all works out.
I'm deep cleaning my house. I've gotten rid of SO much stuff already, it's ridiculous! We have to much, and it's making me crazy. Time to simplify! The kids have been really helpful in this process...especially when I told the older two that if they brought me 27 things that they wanted to get rid of, I'd pay them 50 cents. He he he... AND if they want to sell anything, they get the money for it. It's been working thus far. We'll see how far I can push them!
Now that we're back, I thought I'd post a few random tidbits of things that haven't gone into any one post, but are noteworthy, or just funny, and need to be addressed for history sake! :) So, here are some random things for your enjoyment:
Hurrah for Israel...! However, we like Jordan. It's so good to be home.
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...