Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Family

A family picture in one of our new favorite spots:  Stanley, ID.  

Homeschool Weeks 28-34

Our last school activity for the year, ITBS.  Still a few tears in the math section, but MUCH better than last year.  

For social studies the last seven weeks of our school year we studied primarily from the 1950s to the present.  In US History this covered the space race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, the Civil Rights Movement, both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the end of the Cold War, terrorism and the wars in the Middle East.  

In the rest of the world we looked a little bit more at the history of Vietnam and Korea; Argentina's president and his wife, Evita; India; Iran and Iraq; China; and Africa.  Basically, just enough history to help us understand the continuing unrest in some of those areas. 

The kids finished their President lapooks!  This project started last year with early U.S. History.  Once they completed their last little president booklet they put it all together in a pretty cool little folder system.  We found all the templates on

Some other history projects:

A visit to Sonic for "1/2 price shakes after 8:00" for a taste of the 1950s drive-in.  I had no idea that Sonic had operated since the 1950s.

German chocolate cupcakes:  This recipe was picked up by Baker's Chocolate Company in the 1950s from a Texas homemaker.  Sales of Baker's German Chocolate soared by 73% the next year.  The original recipe is still on the box!

Veggie pita bread:  in honor of the high tech, low fat 1980s and 1990s.  Both recipes/ideas (cupcakes and veggie pita bread) came from The U.S. History Cookbook which was included in our curriculum

Pop Art which was common in the mid1950s:  Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.  The kids printed and colored the pictures.  I just wanted to expose them to these artists and not stress them out by creating their own.

China's Coat of Arms

Bible:  Most of the Bible this year was going through the book, A Young Person's Guide to Knowing God.  After we finished that we read Tales of Persia which were the tales of a missionary in Persia in the early 1900s.  The last six weeks we looked at an adapted study from "Witnesses to All the World".  This study helps give us an eternal perspective to the history cycle we just completed:  how God worked through the nation of Israel and how He now works through the lives of people that He has drawn to Himself.  It helps to give us a "kingdom view" rather than an "I am here for myself" view of the world.  During this time we memorized 1 Peter 2:9-12.   Although I tried hard, I can only hope and pray the kids put it all together.

Writing:  Anna and Lydia spent the last several weeks working on a five paragraph essay of historical figure of their choice.  Lydia chose Molly Pitcher, a female heroine from the Revolutionary War, and Anna did an essay on the different Civil Rights views of  Booker T. Washington vs.  W.E.B. Dubois.  I really like the IEW program as each lesson in this section built on the one before it, so I was not overwhelmed as a teacher and they were not overwhelmed with research, writing the body, working on intro and conclusion and adding dress-ups all at one time.   Seth continued with free writing, working on his story of a young boy and his time machine.

Math/English/Spelling:  Lydia and Anna finished their math books about a week or so before the end of our school year so they faithfully have been doing Khan instead (except this week of ITBS).  Seth is trying to finish his math book through the summer.  The rest of the subjects we just stopped where we were at the end of the year and will pick them up next year.

Science:  We were a little sketchy on science the last few months of school.  I mostly gave them the highlights and exposed them to different physical science principles and activities.  Anna is working on the last chapter in her science book and should complete it next week!

Read aloud:  The last several weeks we read a biography on Brother Andrew.  We didn't actually read his book God's Smuggler because that is assigned reading for Anna next year.  Now she just has a teaser/preview!

Field Trips/Extras:

Ela Weissberger visited Boise early this spring and we went to hear her speak at the Borah High School.  When she was 11, the Nazis sent her and members of her family to Terezin, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.   While there she joined a cast of other children to perform the musical "Brundibar", where she played the cat.  Of 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, less than 100 survived and Ela was one of them.   She put a face to the of reality of the Holocaust.   On that same note, we did finally visit the Anne Frank Memorial in downtown Boise.  I don't think Seth read much about her, but both girls read excerpts from her diary and checked out books in the library that chronicled her life and death.  

Wetlands:  We had an educational visit to a wetland area not that far from our house.  The kids learned the importance of the wetland area and solved a pretend mystery about the deaths of several osprey.  They did several cool activities to show how high levels of mercury (or any other toxin) can enter a wetland, affect the food chain, and ultimately, kill the predators higher up on the chain. 


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Keith and Beth Visit

Keith and Beth arrived last Sunday night with their entire family plus Sara's boyfriend, Jesse.  It is hard to believe we had 16 people sleeping in our house for three nights, but we fit them all in with the help of a couch and a few air mattresses.  The first night wasn't so great since it was quite hot (90 degrees) and Russ and I forgot to check the settings on the air conditioner.  When we got up for our morning run we found sleeping bodies scattered throughout the main floor.  It cooled down after that so, hopefully, all slept better.

The cousins had a great time together.  They shopped at the Village, enjoyed volleyball at the park, and played lots of hands of Rook.  The older cousins went with Caleb and Nicolas to a church youth group outing at the Wigboldys on Monday night.  I think they had a good time because they came home pretty late:)
Just hanging out on our back deck

Playing "Cherry Bomb" at the playground in our neighborhood

We even got to celebrate Sadie's 6th birthday with her!

On Tuesday afternoon the older kids went to see the blue turf at BSU and then visited the Old Penitentiary. Since Caleb and Nicolas were not able to go with us when Grandpa and Grandma were out I was glad they had an opportunity to tour it with their cousins.  Keith and Beth and Russ and I took the younger kids for a walk along the Boise River to the MK Nature Center.  We saw lots of wildlife and just enjoyed the beautiful weather.  

It warmed my heart to see Seth so nurturing toward his little cousin

A mule deer just running around the Julia Davis park 

Wildlife on the Boise River

Cute little fuzzballs

Learning about the fish that live in the Boise River

On Wednesday we took off for Stanley, ID.  We had reservations overnight at the May Family Ranch, east of Stanley.  We made several stops along the way, one of which was to enjoy the hot springs.

The Payette River downstream from hot springs

Payette River upstream from the hot springs. 

We found the trail head to hike to Langer Lake and had a quick picnic lunch before starting off.  

The hike was pretty intense for the first mile as it was all uphill.   The initial part of the trail was a burn out area from a forest fire.  Not as pretty in one sense, but it did allow us to see the mountains!  We made it the 2.0 miles to Langer Lake where some turned around to head back down.  Others decided to press on to two other lakes that were beyond, an additional .6 miles.  We found the next lake at .3 miles and decided to turn around because we could hear thunder and see a storm rolling in.  Several of the kids were disappointed we couldn't make it to the furthest lake, Lake Ruffneck, but we didn't think it safe to be caught in the mountain wilderness in a thunderstorm.  

I had never seen a Western Tanager before.  Absolutely beautiful!  I also snapped a shot of this Black-backed woodpecker.  Only later did I find out that this woodpecker is fairly uncommon to spot.  Evidently, these woodpeckers love burn out areas which fits this area perfectly.  We also saw Cedar Waxwings and Tree Swallows.

Maybe Grandpa and Grandma shouldn't read this next paragraph...We thought maybe we could beat the storm down the mountain as we were ahead of it.  As soon as it started to sprinkle, though, Nicolas, Caleb, and Leah took off running.  Anna followed behind them, but stopped to put her rain jacket on.  Russ and I were behind them with Lydia, Seth, Sara, and Jesse.  Keith and Keanu took the rear.  At one point on our way back we kind of lost the trail near one of the lakes.  Not for long, but just enough to realize that it would be easy to get lost.  We were 3/4 of the way down the mountain when all of a sudden Leah, Caleb, and Nicolas come up from BEHIND us asking for water.  They had lost the trail at one point and when they found it back they still thought they were ahead of us and wondered why they never saw us pass by.  So, they ran around backtracking until they finally decided to just get on the trail and come down.  All of a sudden I realized Anna was not with them.  When they told me Anna had never been with them, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me.  My Anna Grace was on this remote mountain wilderness trail all by herself?!  Did she lose the trail like the rest of us?  Was she still out there with this thunderstorm rolling in?  You should have seen her older brothers take off down the mountain to see if she was at the bottom.  Seth started to cry because he was so worried about her.   It was music to my ears when we heard them shout back to us that she had made it down on her own.  She was the first one down and was worried about Caleb, Nicolas, and Leah, because she knew they were ahead of her.  She ran quite a bit of the trail trying to catch them, not realizing that since they had lost the trail were actually behind her. Later, she told us that she, too, at one point had lost the trail, but was able to find it by following the footprints in the snow.  (She quite possibly has the best sense of direction of all my children).  Let's just say it felt awesome to hug her when we got back.  We also learned a few lessons:  1.  Keep an eye on the weather because it can change quickly.  2.  Everyone needs a hiking buddy!
Oh, by the way, we did beat the thunderstorm:)

After that exciting end to our hike we headed to the May Family Ranch.  We rented two cabins that each slept 8 people.   Another building housed a kitchen, gathering area, and a bathhouse.  We were the only people using the facilities, probably because it was early in the season and in the middle of the week.  The area around the ranch was just beautiful and we were able to relax and enjoy the company and scenery.   

Lydia exiting our cabin

Who needs a net to play volleyball? 

Guess who doesn't like to play volleyball?

Enjoying s'mores and crystallized Starbursts

Beautiful sunset over the ranch

Keith and Beth left for home the next morning and we took our time packing up and then made our trek home as well.    

Quick story about the way home:  We stopped to have a snack and go to the bathroom at a campsite along the river.  Caleb came back from the bathroom with a checkbook/wallet that contained hundreds in cash as well as several credit cards.  After debating what to do for a few minutes, Russ decided to ask a group of camp/park/forest workers who were sitting around on their afternoon break if they knew who this guy was.  Indeed they did--he was sitting in the pickup right next to them!   A little bit after we reunited wallet with the grateful owner, he came back to our picnic table to give us $20.  We adamantly refused, but he insisted we buy ice cream for the kids.  We reluctantly accepted the money and did exactly as he asked by stopping in Horseshoe Bend for ice cream cones on the way home.

We looked forward to the Keith Herman family visit for so long, and now we have some great memories of their time here.