Field Trip – Dismals Canyon, AL

WARNING – This post was written a while ago (maybe a year or so?) and never published. The prices listed may have changed. [OK… I looked it up, and it’s now $12/adult, $8.75 for kids, with the $1 add on for picnicking on their back deck.]

A friend and I decided recently that we needed a road trip. The weather’s been beautiful and she needed a break, so we packed the kids up, loaded the car, and headed to Dismals Canyon.

Dismals Canyon is a privately owned property with camping, hiking, a grill, and a gift shop area. The admission rate was $10 for ages 12 and up, and $6.75 for ages 11 and under. Those are for self guided tours (hiking and a map).

Since we arrived in a day when the grill was opened, picnicking was “prohibited”. As a conservation minded person, I get the desire to limit trash and I agree that people can be slobs and disregard their personal clean up, but banning picnics and posting that all my bags could be searched was really off-putting to me.  If you arrive when the chill is closed you can picnic – for $1/person… to eat the food you brought…on their deck… Hmmm.  I wasn’t impressed.

image

Overall the site was really, really beautiful. The day we went the weather was (as you can see!) perfect. We did about a 1.5 mile hike which was perfect for us. It left us a lot of time for exploring, relaxing, and hanging out and talking.

image

I took a ton of pictures!!

image

image

It really was a great break from our normal homeschool routine. I think I would go back again, but I might consider a different location with a more liberal picnic policy if I had a large group.

image

Are there any good day trips near you that you’d recommend?

Advertisements

Week in Review : 3/10/17

I know I haven’t done a Week in Review in FOR_EV_ER, but I’m hoping to get back on track. The kids and I LOVE reading them from years past, and get a huge laugh over all the stuff we’ve forgotten about. I also just got a SWEET new laptop – all my own – complete with a non USB mouse (because for some reason in our house the mouse and the little sensor thing can NEVER stay together…grrr…). I am thrilled and hope to blog more consistently!!

This Week In …

… School:

We’ve actually been pretty productive this week. Despite the move we’re pretty much on or ahead of schedule. Apparently having no friends and a limited social calendar make for lots of productive homeschool days!

The kids are also catching on that “done” means “DONE!”, so anything scheduled to be completed this year that gets done early means more free time for them. Hence, Big has completed her assigned Literature and is making HUGE strides on History. Little is working hard on wrapping up Aero and decided today he’d pick up the pace in math (we’ve been doing 1/2 lesson a day and he’s committing to a full lesson) to wrap it up in half the time. [Now, I wouldn’t do this for anything that they’re not excelling in, but so far, it’s not been a problem with retention or skills.] I think he’s on track with history, too.

The classes that will drag on for a while are the online classes (Big – German, Little – English), Advanced Math and Chemistry. BJU DLO Chem is just HARD and doing more than a lesson a day is just too much. The same holds true for Advanced Math. And, online classes require you to stay at their pace, so those will wrap up when they wrap up.

Guitar lessons are going great. Big sounds really good. Wow, this is so much easier to listen to than beginner violin or even piano!

Not actually school, but kind of school, is news that Big was accepted into the Dual Enrollment program at the local college. It’s a 4 year liberal arts college, so I think its pretty cool!! She’ll start there this summer. I’ll blog a lot more about what she’ll be taking, schedules, why we’re going that route and more in another post. The college is about 35 minutes away so today we may go down, walk around (we haven’t done that yet!) and buy a t-shirt. Big times here. I’m so excited for her and the adventures God has for her!

… Life School:

I’ll keep the details brief on this one, but we’ve recently had a shift in chores here. Little (a 14 year old DUDE) will now manage all of his laundry. While he’s skilled and has done laundry before, he’ll be flying solo. (And perhaps, a budding entrepreneur, he was theorizing he could make some cash in college doing other dude’s laundry… which I think is actually a great idea!! LOL!!). For fun we went to Publix and I am not joking, smelled EVERY detergent. He picked out a nice cold water, stain fighting, not-to-smelly Gain. We’ll see how this goes! LOL!

We’ve also instituted kid’s cooking nights here. I won’t say that the [honestly made in jest] comment about “woman’s work” started it, but for two weeks the kids have each had a night to cook. This week Little (the Tuesday Chef) made pizza and invented a chocolate pizza based on a book he read recently. It was DELICIOUS.

… Other Stuff:

Friday night we attended a TINY HOUSE festival. We’re all over the tiny house deal and think it’s a great junior/senior homeschool project. It was a blast looking at all the houses, seeing what we liked/didn’t like, and checking out different builders. There were some super helpful people and lots were eager to answer Big’s questions. I really, really hope we can execute this project!!

This week was the state AAU TKD tournament. The kids learned a lot. I learned a lot. I am grateful the injuries weren’t worse. Really. I hate Olympic sparring. I am grateful that Little already had his braces installed. Really.

We’re made great progress on finding a home church. We visited 8 (yes, EIGHT) in the local area. Some were OK, some were terrible for our family, and like each one of us, none were perfect. We have found a place where we’re all happy about it’s biblical stance, peer group for the kids, and opportunities to serve both in the church and the community. I am THRILLED the search is over. It was so hard. We’ve already attending the “so you want to join our church” class (which was 4 weeks long!), and I am ready to get plugged in. To show how eager we are… we’ll be hosting a home group this weekend. Yikes!!

I haven’t, but will blog about this, but my Community Bible Study class is just about the greatest thing since air, iced coffee, and puppies. It’s amazing. If you have one near you – please try it out.

Seriously – the BEST COFFEE CAKE EVER. Add chopped pecans to the top and filling. Perfect. Moist on day 3. It makes a HUGE amount so I recommend a half recipe.

… The Move:

We’re now three months post move. I was joking with someone yesterday that like babies, I’m now past counting in weeks and made it to months. LOL!

Since we’ve been putting a lot of effort into it, we’re actually meeting some people! I went to lunch at a friend’s house last week, which was such an encouragement. Saturday night we had dinner (oh.my.word.it.was.so.delicious.) and learned to play dominoes at our soon-to-be neighbor’s house, and then yesterday after bible study I had lunch with a lady from my core group.

Check me out! I am making myself get out of my comfort zone and meet people! It’s not easy, but I have was inspired by Sally Clarkson’s comment in one of her books that she started every group she’s been a part of. That was a huge encouragement for me. The older I get I see that most everyone wants to be a part of a group, but rarely do people feel they are – so I’m trying to work on inclusion, community, and reaching out.

… On the Horizon –

We’re headed to one of my favorite cities, Chattanooga, this weekend for a play. Some of our VERY favorite teens are in a school production so we’re headed up to cheer them on. I am really looking forward to it!

Sunday we host our first home group. I already cooked all the taco meet and we’ll clean some today. I’m nervous but so far really like the people we’ve met!

Praises:

+ Injuries weren’t worse from the TKD tournament.

+ Fun, busy week.

+ Big’s DE acceptance news!

Prayers:

If you’re inclined to join us in prayer we’d HUGELY appreciate it!!!

+ House sale. This week is Spring Break back in MS, so we’d love to get a reasonable offer, sell the house, and move on with plans to build here. It’s all in God’s timing and we’re calm knowing that!!

How about you?? How was YOUR week?

Homeschool Coffee Break
The Homeschool Post

Week in Review : 21 October 2016

Fall arrived!! Today no less!! It’s absolutely AMAZING out. It’s one of those rare Southern days that are so gorgeous that when the kids were little we’d skip all schoolwork, pack a picnic and the dogs, and head to the wildlife refuge for the day. I miss those days. Honestly, I’d still do it now if it weren’t for the looming move and the need to us to be as diligent as possible until we’re settled. Alas, we’ll stick to the schedule and work outside!

Breezy. 60. Sweatshirt weather.

And apparently Chemistry in an ENO weather!

School this week:

We were SUPER diligent Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday Big (a sophomore this year) took the PSAT for a trial run. I think it’s great to be exposed to these tests before they are “for real” so she went to a local private school and took it there. Apparently the hardest part for her was the admin stuff and “when did you take Algebra 1? What is your parent’s highest degree?” etc. Homeschool teen. Pretty funny. The test took a lot longer than we thought it would so most of her day was lost. After piano lessons I think she did a Chemistry lesson later in the day. Big will likely have a little “homework” over the weekend, but we’ll get through it.

Little wasn’t feeling well on Wednesday so we got as much done as we could. He slept in and then knocked out a bunch of work on the computer. He rebounded late in the morning (my guess is Fall + allergies + teen growth spurt + busy schedule + move prep  = TIRED) so he made it to piano. He did have some good help while on the couch…

And later in the week when it was Math Test on the Porch Time.

I am noticing a trend with Red the dog following him around…

The rest of the week was school work as published! Online classes are fine. We’re pushing through!

 

Other Stuff:

I’ve been getting in the swing ofmu walking the dogs a lot more than usual in prep for the move. Our rental does not have a fenced yard, so we’ll be walking the dogs. With that I busted the FitBit back out. With that I had to buy a new charger as the old one is “packed”. Thankfully a two pack was $5.88. I also broke down and bought some new sneakers. My old shoes were getting NASTY and making me hurt, so they got chucked and I got these…vibrant…new shoes. Yes, they’re ugly. But, I’m killing the budget lately and these were $50 (marked down from $160). They’re SUPER comfortable.

Robotics is still going strong. This week is VIDEO week so tonight Big is directing a shoot and will spend the weekend editing. She’s getting REALLY good at video work. It’s so cool. We also finished the orders for the sweatshirts and they’re on order. I can’t wait until the arrive!

The Move:

Big Box week is 3 weeks from Monday. We haven’t packed anything more (I think we’re almost at a standstill until about a week out) but house prep is moving along. The contractor was here yesterday and due to return. We have some repairs than need to be done and we’re moving in the right direction. DH was amazing and did a bunch of little stuff (trims, faucets, etc.) that have been lingering forever. He’s awesome!

Praises:

+ Productive school week, all things considered.

+ Little’s Birthday DOT arrived and he LOVES it. It’s very cool.

+ PSAT round 1 done.

+ The weather!! Even Big Weasley is enjoying it…

Prayers:

If you’re inclined to join us in prayer we’d HUGELY appreciate it!!!

+ House preps, repairs, and sale. That God’s presence would be all over this move/house sale and every decision we make. And for me to WORSHIP more than I WORRY! It’s really starting to get real.

 

How about you?? How was YOUR week?

 

 

Online Classes – Communicating with Teachers

My kids have taken, and are taking, some online classes. We love Landry Academy, Coursera, and other providers. 

One skill I wanted my kids to learn with the online class is how to appropriately communicate with an instructor/teacher. I know this will come up on college, so I want them to practice now. So far my kids have needed to ask for help on assignments, clarify assignment requirements, ask about grades and much more. In these emails I wanted them to be clear, polite, respectful, and purposeful. I was happy to help them at the beginning of their online careers, but after a few emails I wanted them to handle it themselves. 

Thankfully, as my kids were in the throes of learning these skills a friend sent me a link to a GREAT article. The article, from a college professor, is entitled How to Email Your Professor to Get a Response. It’s a must read for any student, but most definitely for online students. We’ve actually printed out the graphic and the kids use it as a guide for every email to their teachers. Now I can be nearly hands-off and know the kids are communicating clearly and respectfully on their own. I hope you and your kids find it as helpful as we have!

5 Things

I’ve been reading all these blogs where people are sharing five things that they’re loving this week so I decided I would join in!

1.Alexa

image

I received this is a birthday gift and when I’m able to pry it out of the hands of the two teenagers in the house, it’s absolutely amazing! You can talk to it and have it give sports updates, play Pandora, adjust my calendar, set alarms… It’s just absolutely fabulous, and the sound quality is awesome.

2. Spring Weather.

image

Low 80s. Low humidity. Low pollen. It’s rare those collide here so we’re soaking in as much as humanly possible!

3. Summer Jobs

image

I’ll wrote more about this in a whole post, but I’m LOVING the kids running their lawn service. It’s great. So many lessons. So much good about it.

4. Surprises.

image

This morning I came home from my walk to this. It was so delicious and we were so stuffed we ate lunch at 2. Another surprise? A dear friend came by unexpectedly with her toddler. Another friend received good news and we got to celebrate. It’s a good day!!!

image

5. Tony Chocoloney.

I love you. Salted caramel. Real chocolate. Amsterdam I miss you.

How about you? What’s blessing you this week?

Landry Academy Biology Lab Intensive – Review

This spring my two kids, 8th and 9th graders, attended a Landry Academy Two Day Biology Intensive. I have seen online where a lot of people have questions about these events, so I figured I’d share our experience. I wasn’t paid or compensated for my review, and every opinion is mine (or my kids).

 

A while back I jumped on one of the Landry sales and it included two intensives as “free” add ons. I was intrigued by the idea of knocking out all the labs in a couple of days, stretching my kids a little, and providing some social time with other homeschoolers. So I plunged in and registered Big. She would be taking Biology online with BJU this year so it seemed like a great idea.

 

Then I shared it with her. Well, she wasn’t thrilled. It wasn’t the idea of the intensive, but the idea that she wouldn’t be doing biology labs until the spring. Science nerd drama ensued. I relented. I bought the BJU Bio kit ($246…. and the microscope from last year). Now, I don’t begrudge spending the money and I am a HUGE proponent of labs – real live, gross, dissecting labs – but I had a plan. Wah. My plan was foiled. The Intensive became an add on for Big.

As the time drew closer to attend I decided, nearly last minute, that Little should also attend. I figured he would take Bio next year and we could pre-lab with him. He’s less finicky about science, and apparently Big shared with him what she learned this year – that Bio labs can be a hassle, and watching them on dvd with an intensive on the side would have been a descent plan after all. I also realized that if he attended I would have 2 DAYS of alone time. Seriously. A few emails, some money sent, and he was registered.

 

Now, the city with the Intensive was, for us, about a 2 and a half hour drive. We would have to hotel it – so with Hotwire at the ready we booked  a place fairly nearby and with a free breakfast. (In hindsight the free breakfast needn’t be mandatory – the kids fast for a lab on the morning if day 2.) We arrived the night before the first class since the kids had to be there at 8:45 am.

Upon arriving at the lab location the kids received a lab notebook and some lab gear. They needed to carry a sack lunch, but otherwise everything was included. Really – for the two days my only job was to make sure they had food, get them there, and pick them up. (I see the appeal of a traditional school now….really….wow.). This was new to me. I enjoyed it. LOL!!

OK, so, the set up was great, everything was well organized, and the amount of pre-check in material and communication was great – but what about the labs?

 

image

Well, both of my kids really enjoyed themselves. They both say they learned a lot, and it was a great experience. Big, Science Nerd, loved the hands on and thought the teacher was fabulous. Little, less science-y but more social, enjoyed the other kids in the class, the material, and a couple of days of “fun” school. Both kids learned a lot about having lab partners – a rite of passage for high school IMHO – and both really liked the other kids in the class. It was a great group. One thing that surprised me was that ALL the kids in the class commuted from at least a couple of hours away. I was a little concerned it would be a pack of kids from a local group and my kids would be outsiders – but that was not the case at all. ALL of them were at hotels for the class.

image

Will we do it again?

Yes, we will be attending another Landry Intensive in the future. It was a great way to break up the spring blahs, to meet some new people, and to knock out some labs that are harder to do at home. The quality was great, the teaching excellent, and overall the whole experience was one I would HIGHLY recommend.

So, have your kids attended an Intensive? Have

Teen Boy Bible Study / Devotional

image

With the new semester I’m changing up a few little things. I’ll share here done new stuff, and at some point I’ll do a summary…

One thing I’ve done is added a new devotional for Little. He’s working through the Bible Study Sampler in Core 100, but I wanted him to have more application. A couple of years ago we bought and read through the Bob Schultz devotionals Boyhood and Beyond and Created for Work. They’re EXCELLENT. I decided we’d pull then of the shelf and have Little work through them again.

Twice a week this is his assignment:
1. Read a section.
2. Write out the answer the section questions.
3. Write a paragraph summary of the point of the section.
4. Find 2 other verses to support your conclusion.
5. Write out 1-3 action points for him to work on toward the biblical truth learned.

We’re only two lessons in, but so far I LOVE IT. I think he likes it a lot too, and it’s definitely not a “fill in the blank” system for him. I’m excited to see how this challenges him in his walk with the Lord!!! If you’re looking for a new way to challenge your teen son, I highly recommend these books!

Do you have any other great teen boy bible study or devotional tools? What’s worked for your family? 🙂