Friday, August 17, 2018

Can You Connect the Dots?

I love fun reviews!  OK, I love most reviews, but the ones that require no hard work- well, those are just a bonus.  We Are Connected Dot to Dot Philadelphia is one such review.  I asked to be a part of this review because I knew my 6th grader would love it, but let's just get it out there now and say it has been just as much fun for me as well.  The timing was also perfect as, yes, we are still living out of suitcases with our move and needed a little something fun to add to our day! The Timberdoodle Company graciously allowed us to try out this fun book.

A little background on the book...
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway was opened in 1918 and is considered Philadelphia's "grand cultural boulevard."  Its beginnings were actually started in 1892 and has had several architects and landscapers working on it since.  The boulevard now houses parks, gardens, and special architecture as well as a huge collection of public art for all to enjoy. 

The 23 dot to dot puzzles in this book give you a quick tour of the area on or around the Parkway.   The dot to dots were created to help celebrate the parkway's centennial.  At the back of the book there is a quick description of each attraction, explaining why it is special to the area, thus providing a mini history lesson.

Most of the puzzles in the Connected Dot to Dot Philadelphia are one page, but a few do spread out over two pages.  This is not your typical dot to dot book!  Each puzzle is quite detailed and requires multiple start and stops.  For example, you may connect numbers 1-36 and then come to a "Star" instead of a dot, that indicates you stop your line, pick up your pencil, go to the next number, and begin a new line.

The challenging part is the next number is not always close by and you must first locate it to begin.  When there are hundreds of little numbers all over the page, that can be a challenge.  Especially for my OLD eyes! ;) 

When we first got the book, Colby and I did several puzzles together, taking turns every few numbers.  We have even gotten brave and colored the first puzzle.  Colby has since done a few by himself with no need for help from me.  I, on the other hand, did need help from him when I tried to do one by myself.  Figures, right?!  Again, the numbers are quite tiny and I did have a harder time finding the numbers a few times.  Guess it is glasses time!

We did decide to complete the puzzles in pencil at first but I have gone back with mine and traced over with a fine black pen.  I figured it is better to erase lines than mess it up at first!  Upon recommendation in the instructions, we did also use a ruler to connect some of the numbers that were further apart with a straight line.  For the architectural pieces it does give them a cleaner look.

We Are Connected Dot to Dot Philadelphia is a part of the Timberdoodle 11th grade kit, but can also be purchased separately.  It can be used for so many things-
  • fine motor practice
  • math practice (some of the puzzles count into the thousands)
  • history (think state studies)
  • and even art (you can color to your heart's content)

Don't need anything extra for school?  Then just grab a pencil and your favorite chair,  relax and have fun connecting the dots!


Monday, August 13, 2018

God is on the Move!

Well, isn't He always?

But how often do we miss it because our eyes are on something, other than Him?

Trust me, I am speaking to myself here.  I have missed a lot these past 11 weeks.  My eyes have been on our not so fun, and very stress-filled days most of the time.  Yes, I have seen some some glimmers of hope along the way, but mostly I have been anxious, worried, and impatient if I am being honest.

This is not how I planned things would go.
This is not where I thought we would be living 11 weeks into our move.
This is not the lovely picture I had in mind for our retirement.

I, I, I!  Yep, it has been pretty much about me and my comfort, or lack thereof.

As Ashton told a friend today, our family had to have a come-to-Jesus talk and re-adjust our attitudes.  Believe me, mom was first!  We have spent the past two weeks trying to adjust our attitudes and see the blessings in this season.  We have put our eyes back on Jesus where they belong.

How blessed we are to know that He never takes His eyes off of us!

And yes, He is always on the move.

Changing our hearts and drawing us closer to him in ALL circumstances.

Even in the yucky and much delayed sale of one house and buying of another.

Praise Him that we are actually nearing the end of this adventure.  If all goes according to plan, we will close on our Nebraska house in two weeks and move into our new one here a few days later.  It looks like it is actually going to happen.  There have been more than a few times that we thought it would not.   I cannot wait to share a few pictures with you!

Until then, we are still adjusting to Arizona.  We seem to be at the height of monsoon weather, with lots of heavy rain and dust storms every few days.  Pictures don't do it justice but they can be quite intense.  Luckily they move through pretty quickly.

Salem is headed to Alaska next week and the following week Riley heads back to Mississippi for her senior year at college. We are settling into a routine slowly but surely and making new friends.  Life is good.

And God is good!

And He is surely on the move in your lives AND ours!


Friday, August 3, 2018

What is This Civilain Life They Talk About?

Since Wednesday, we are officially living the "civilian life."  Ask me in a few months what I REALLY think about it!

Clarke and I were married right after college graduation and went directly to pilot training so really, my entire adult life has been that of an Air Force wife and mom.  Three of our four kids were born at different bases and our youngest came home to a beautiful, 100 year old historical brick house on FE Warren Air Force base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Guarded base gates, flights lines, military balls and constant moving are all our kids have ever known.  They have worn the label "military brat" well and with pride.

We reassured them a few nights ago that they will always be military brats.  We will always consider ourselves a military family.  It is who we are, deeply ingrained in every ounce of our being.

But now the outside world refers to us as civilians and I find myself wondering what that even means and looks like.

Doctors I get to choose who I go see?  Really?  Pardon while I ask, how exactly does one do that?  After all, I have had someone tell us what doctor we were assigned to the minute we moved to a new location.  The idea of just choosing someone out of a phone book (ok, ok, I know, GOOGLE!) is daunting.  And our list of needs is a mile long.

Grocery shopping Have you seen the prices of meat?  OK, I know you have.  And yes, I have shopped at a regular grocery store frequently though the years.  But meat, well let's just say the commissary has you civilians beat!  And while the closest base to us is a haul, we will be going once a month to stock up on meat.  Some habits die hard and some I just cannot give up!

Location, location, location  I get to choose.  Ummm, as hard as it was to wrap our minds around the idea of our newest assignment sometimes (Minot, ND, anyone?) it took far less brain cells to just go where you were told.  Yes, we did get asked a few times where we would like to go next, but I think they usually just asked to give someone a good laugh that day as they processed papers for as far away as possible.

Overseas travel  Guess what!  This is optional now!  While some of the places Clarke traveled and was assigned to were interesting places to visit, he is no longer being TOLD to go there.  Without those he loves. For a year at a time.  Just saying.  If he wants to go now he can choose and even take us.  Not that I am getting on a plane anytime soon, of course.

Friends  Who knew you actually had to go and look for them?  You see, I am used to a military community where you are fast friends with people who live in the base house next to you, ones you see at the OClub, and ones who are also waiting for their moving truck to arrive.  We bond quickly, knowing that our time together is short and we "get" each other because of our shared joys and struggles.  Actually searching for people with same interests...well, that is something new to me.

Identity  Yep, sounds silly but true story guys!  I have always been an Air Force wife and mom.  Apart from my identity in Christ it has been who I was AND what I did.  Sure, I am a blogger and a homeschool mom, but military wife- well, that was THE thing.  So who am I now?

That is a good question.  And one I am eagerly exploring as we try to settle into this new reality of civilian life.  There are so many possibilities out there that I am a bit overwhelmed.  To the average onlooker, our lives probably seem quite normal with no huge changes on the outside.  But boy, on the inside we are feeling like fish out of water currently.  And with our current housing situation, we are swimming upstream trying not to drown quite honestly.

One thing has NOT changed though.  Our faith.  It may be pushed to limits some days, but it is still there and guiding us in all we do.  Decisions, big and small, are more easily made with God in control.  We may not always understand what he is doing or what he is calling us to, but we rest in the fact that he is sovereign over every aspect of our life.

Whether we are military or civilian!


Monday, July 30, 2018

Nine Weeks, But Who's Counting?

Ok, I am.  Not sure if it is my obsessive personality or just to make a point, but yes, I am counting how many weeks we are living out of suitcase.

We did break down and buy some more hangers (among other stuff I won't even mention) and have hung a few things up but you get the point.  This little temporary stay in a fun AirBNB has turned into the never ending adventure.

9 weeks and counting.

And counting.  And counting.  With a possible end in sight, but I am too afraid to even get excited about that so let's just not mutter a date for now.  Suffice to say, we have rented this place for another month.

We have owned and sold other houses with little difficulty.  I do not remember losing sleep over inspections.  And appraisals.  And the closing dates.  To say this has been a lesson learned is an understatement.

To say I NEVER want to move again is an understatement.

I wanted to give Arizona a five year trial.  HA!  At this point I hope to grow ancient here.

I used to be adventurous when it came to moves.  I have done it a lot, written about it a lot, and actually found it to be quite fun a few times.  Now I just find it tiring.  And lonely.  But mostly tiring.

So for those who are still reading, eyes glazed over, what have we been up to?

Ashton started a full time job as an office manager at a local performing arts studio.  She will be back to taking quilt orders (two a month, so get on her calendar early!) once we get into the new house.

Riley completed her two online courses and is filling her time with voice lessons and reading a copious amount of books.  She leaves for school on August 25th, but we are not talking about that right now.

Salem has begun to study for the ACT,  spends a lot of time in coffee shops and exploring the area with his sisters, and is getting ready for a 10 day trip to Alaska with his grandparents.

Colby is doing full time school now, 6th grade.  He also just made the swim team and spends a lot of time trying to perfect his strokes.  He keeps busy in the pool here and begging people to play games with him.

Clarke and I are busy trying to sell one house and buy another without losing our minds.  In the meantime, he continues to enjoy his job.  Who knew just being around helicopters daily would bring a spring to his step.  OK, who are we kidding?  We ALL knew that, right?  We are settling into a church, making a few new friends, and eagerly awaiting the time we can feel like we have really begun this new chapter of our lives.

I made a note from church a few weeks ago when the pastor mentioned the phrase "just a vapor"  It reminded me that not only is this season of our lives, as crazy as it seems, it is just a vapor.  Indeed our time on this planet is indeed a vapor.

May we live it well, as God intends for us to.  May we bring him all the praise he deserves in our lives, whether we understand his plan or not.

Because believe me when I say, it IS ALL his plan.

And it is good.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Geology for Kids- Review with a lot of Gushing!

 Sometimes we get reviews that are a good fit for our family.  Other times we get one that is just good timing.  And sometimes, like this past month, we get a review that is not only a good fit for our family, but the most perfect timing too!  Bonus!  Such is the case for Geology for Kids- A Biblical Approach to Earth Science and Earth History kit, by Partick Nurre from Northwest Treasures.

 As many of you know, we are in temporary housing, 8 weeks and counting, with a lot of time on our hands.  I brought a few school things with us to work on, but nothing significant.  In my defense, I had no idea we would be spending the summer as nomads.  I realized quickly we needed to start some school to not only stay busy, but to also just GET started with a new school year.  Problem is, all of our life to include school supplies and curriculum are in storage somewhere and to simply start over was going to be quite costly.  I have been trying to piece things together and this review fell into my lap!  My science for 6th grade problem was solved.  It doesn't hurt that it is Geology, which thrills Colby.

Let me start by telling you that Geology for Kids is a young Earth, creation based curriculum, as is all of the curriculum created by Northwest Treasures.  That is so important to me because of our family's beliefs.  While I enjoy teaching science, there have been times in the past that I have had to stop on numerous occasions and remind my kids that we do not adhere to the "millions of years" belief, and that we do not believe in evolution.  It is refreshing to know that the science we are studying is being taught by a believer that holds to the same beliefs we do.  It's just one less thing for me to have to worry about.

Geology for Kids is a 147 page, soft color science book about Geology, intended for 4th-8th grade students.  It is full color and dotted with many pictures and graphics.  Comprised of 6 sections is has 22 chapters and can be used for a semester of teaching.

Sections include-
  • Introduction to Biblical Geology
  • The Two Contrasting Views of Earth History
  • The Rocks and Minerals of the Earth
  • Fossils and Noah's Flood
  • Dinosaurs and Noah's Flood
  • The Ocean

The book also includes fossil card templates and rock groupings charts.  When you buy it as a kit, you will also receive a Journal for your child as well as several bags of rocks, minerals and fossils-60 total. (quite possibly Colby's favorite part, of course!)  A materials list is included in the book for additional materials you will need for activities presented as well as a "how to" section that encourages you to cover only about 2-5 pages a day, a few days a week.  While it can be done independently, the author encourages you as a parent to walk through the course with our child and I have to second that.  Some of the words are quite big and harder to pronounce and it is a great gateway to open Biblical worldview conversations with your children.

The pages in the book are quite interactive and often will ask personal questions as well a geology related questions, with room to write directly in the book.  The first section explains a biblical background to science and worldview and has you look up and memorize quite a bit of scripture.  Every so often Rock Man Pat  (a character version of the author), will ask a little "did you know" question or fact.

In addition to the questions sprinkled throughout the book, the journal has a corresponding section for each section in the book that has additional questions, much like a review or test.  There are also a few sections that are labeled quizzes, comprised of just a few questions, Periodically you will find projects that include doing additional research to write a paragraph about a new learned fact or drawing pictures to show what your child has learned.

How we have used this program and our thoughts-
(Beware, this is where the gushing comes in.)

Colby and I decided to work on science three days a week during the summer months.  Each of the 6 sections are divided into "parts" and so we do one part each lesson.  If you found that to be too much information for your child, you could most certainly break it down into smaller chunks.  I thought we might have it, but he loves this book and doesn't want to stop mid section.  If it gets to be a lot we have sometimes taken turns reading.

He has answer the questions himself in the book and where it asks you to memorize scripture, we have written that scripture in as well.  Some activities have called for more writing or drawing so we have done that one separate notebook paper.  We have since gotten a dedicated science notebook, (remember all my supplies are packed) and the rest of his work outside the journal will be done in it.

As for the journal, we now complete a section right after we read it.  We waited in the beginning, but it was too much for him to write (capable but not happy!) and required us trying to remember too much at once.  I have tried treating them like a mini quiz to challenge him to remember as much as he could before going back to the book to look up any answers he did not know.

We are just now getting around to the chapters that really begin to explore the rocks in the kits, but let me emphasize how important the first few sections are.  Listen to this-

"Why would people want to tell a different story from that of the Scriptures?  Realize that the debate over Scripture and Science is really not about science but about rebelling against our Maker." (p.30)  

Throughout Geology for Kids, author Patrick Nurre points us back to the Creator of Earth and His Word.   This is not an evolution bashing book, but it IS one that shows where evolution theories came from and how they work against what the Bible teaches us.  It speaks of Creation and the Flood and is unapologetic in its teachings.

It is refreshing!  And convicting!  And interesting!

And Colby loves it!  What more could you want from a science program?

Oh, I know, videos!  Got it!

In addition to the Geology for Kids Kit, we were also given access to a video series called Dinosaurs and the Bible also by Patrick.  We are currently working our way through Dinosaurs and the Bible, shown through a vimeo subscription, and loving it as well.  I mean, who doesn't love dinosaurs?  Colby and I had intended to watch alone, but now are going to include our family in our viewing time, knowing they will love them too!  There are 6 sessions to watch and each are about 16-21 minutes long. 

Take the Mystery out of Geology Online Course

Our Crew was able to review several other courses to include Taking the Mystery Out of Geology, Dinosaurs and the Bible, and Geology and Apologetics.  Be sure to check out their reviews!

Be sure to check out Northwest Treasures on their website or on Facebook.  Science never looked so good!

Online Geology Classes{Northwest Treasures Reviews}

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