Category Archives: Homeschooling

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 31, 2020

We just returned from a wonderful week camping at Ft. Stevens State Park. Due to Rob’s surgery and Covid, this was the first time we were able to take the camper out for a whole year! We were so glad we got to keep these reservations we made 9 months ago, and that nothing happened to cancel them.

We made up for lost time and did everything we could!

We also took along many activities for both Jake and Patsy and did an outdoor school/camp experience for them, with a focus on Lewis and Clark, as Ft. Stevens is very near to where they ended up at the Pacific.

We crabbed off the bridge in Seaside and were very surprised to get 5 keepers. We made a conscious decision to go at a time that was not perfect, so the kids would have a good experience, and …..WOW!

We went fishing at nearby Coffenbury Lake a couple of times. The fish Rob has was not a keeper, but he did get one that was. Jake loves fishing now and had fun pulling in a few little ones, which we put back.

Jake played Legos for hours. We have some that we keep in the camper and never bring into the house, so they seem like new toys to him. The kids did glow sticks every night, as usual. They played “hot and cold” with Uncle, as usual. (He hides little prizes around and they find them–). They dug for buried treasure, as usual. (Rob buried gold chocolate coins this time and made them find them outside the camper.). I read outloud for hours, as usual–this time it was about the journey of Lewis and Clark. Can you tell this is a boy that likes his routine? ūüôā

Something new this time was the bike riding. One day Jake’s big sister, Caitlyn, came over and helped him “ride” on a very long bike ride. I guess she had to push about half the time, but it was fun.

Mostly, he and Patsy rode around and around the loop where we were camped, and both had a blast! My aunt had a bike she had not been riding, and gave it to Patsy. Patsy loves it so much. Rob taught her how to put on new tires and inner tubes, and once they fixed up, it worked very, very well for her. She rode it for miles, I think, because she was on it almost every day.

They dug in the sand one day. Rob did some fishing while they dug, and I stayed back and cleaned up the horrendously messy camper, a couple of cupboards and baked the cookies. Although I was offered help to bake the cookies, by that point, I had had enough help for a little bit, so Rob took them away for a little while, while I got the camper cleaned up. We never intended to leave the camper sit for an entire year, so of course, I found a few crackers that had seen better days. The kids happily fed them to the seagulls one day. Another day, we drove across the bridge to Washington State, and read road markers about Lewis and Clark’s journey. We also spent quite a bit of time playing Lewis and Clark–pretending to explore with a compass that was used more for fun than for correct direction, but…..

We went for several hikes down the trails, in fact, did a hike most days.

I took so many fun activities that we did not get them all done. They did camp fire cooking, decorated fall cookies, craft projects, plus all the outdoor fun. I still have some ideas left for next time, which is how I like it!

My sister came and picked the garden several times while I was gone, so it is in good shape.

We stayed frugal by using the foster/adoptive park pass we have, so we camped for the week for the $8 registration fee, only. We ate all meals as picnics or at the campsite, except one drive-thru at McDonald’s for a lunch the day we drove around. We always save change in a can for that purpose, and still have plenty left for another time, as Rob and I didn’t want a lot from there….just sayin’:). We’d prefer a little seafood or chowder, but since it’s Covid, we chose not to go to a restaurant so McD’s it was. The kids were happy, and we found a nice spot to sit and look out at the water while we ate, so we were happy, too. We visited a grocery store one time for a few items, but most food was brought from home, using our regular grocery budget and garden produce. It was a great week, and I’m so glad we got to go!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 2, 2020

Way before Rob’s surgery, my sister booked a cabin at Detroit Lake and invited us to come with their family for a few days. She wanted him to have something to look forward to post-surgery. As we discussed the upcoming trip, we talked about how he would probably need help up the few stairs, a ground level room so he could lie down when needed, and maybe could or maybe could not walk the 50 feet to the lake or go out on a boat one day. What a different, and wonderful, scenario it was!

Instead of sitting in the cabin, he went down to the lake several times. While down there, he fished, helped the kids fish and swam more than once. He had no trouble on the stairs or anywhere else, but made sure to use his trekker poles and follow his hip surgery precautions at all times. One morning, he and I walked all over the tiny lake town for exercise. It was nice to have a different change of scenery.

He took some of the kids rock collecting and creek walking.

On the day my sister rented a pontoon boat, we all fished for the morning, and swam during the afternoon. We took a picnic with us to enjoy at lunch time. Michaela got a fishing license before she went on the trip, with Rob’s help. Then, of course, she wanted to fish. He helped her hook this one, and she landed it. She was SO excited.

I caught a fish, too! It was the biggest trout I’ve caught in years, well over 12 inches, and we ate it for dinner that night, along with the one Rob helped Michaela catch.

Jake’s parents have chosen to continue homeschooling next fall, and are continuing his education during the summer. So, 2 of the days we were there, he did schoolwork. His mom organized it all, and his dad and mom both worked with him at times. Uncle helped him with science projects twice. I read two entire short chapter books to him. One was school, one was for fun. He would lay in wait for me to come out to where ever he was and get me to read to him,–it was so cute and fun. He commandeered everyone he could to play air hockey and foosball in the basement game room the cabin had, and although he beat me at air hockey, I did win the foosball game:). He talked every single one of us into Yahtzee at one time or another, and even used my phone to text Grandma for her Yahtzee-winning secrets one time, and then won the game!

We took all of our food, and cooked every meal at the cabin. We had a blast, and got some rest. Which was good because……

When we got home…..yikes! I had picked the garden produce before we went and processed everything or packed it for the trip. I needed to work for 12-16 hours a couple of days to get it taken care of before we left, but nothing was neglected or forgotten, except 3 pickling cucumbers that grew too big to use while we were gone, and about 10 beans that went over the hill. I can so totally live with that!

Since I’ve been home, I’ve canned beet pickles, dill pickles, blueberry pie filling and green beans. I’ve frozen the last of the peaches, some strawberries and blueberries.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a bean-snapping/canning party at my sister’s house. My other sister is growing tons of beans and is sharing. So after virtual church, Rob and I went over to Gail’s and joined their family and my aunt, who were all snapping like crazy. We got 28 quarts done! We took our canner, used their canner, and one that Rob’s friend gave us just last week. They never use it anymore, so we gratefully accepted. Rob stood by the canners, keeping time and keeping them all at correct pressure–that was his exclusive job, and the rest of us snapped and filled jars. When I left, they were all sealed, except one, and I’m sure it did. It sure speeds things up with multiple canners and lots of help!

I’ve been working on my garden in the evenings and mornings. I’m removing old bushes, harvesting produce, and weeding. I’m getting an area ready because I plan to plant a fall garden.

We ordered some more seeds from Territorial Seed Company for fall planting. They were out of a lot of things in their on-line winter gardening catalog, but we were able to get enough. We just wanted a few things like spinach, cabbage, etc. If they didn’t have the variety I wanted, I just chose another one, figuring they all must have some merit or they wouldn’t have made it into the seed catalog in the first place! Maybe I’ll find a new favorite. We have eaten and shared so many of our vegetables this summer–much more than we usually do, so I’m excited to get more going.

Rob took this picture of the clouds. I really like it, so thought I’d end the blog post with it, just because:)

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 3, 2020

This past week was a nice one. We took several nice walks this past week. Some of the days were very sunny and we enjoyed getting out. We also received some much-needed rain.

Patsy loves taking pictures of as many flowers as she can. These are Camas flowers. They were growing in a wild area in the little park we walked to with Jake the day we had him.

This woodpecker keeps coming around the neighborhood. He loves to rat-a-tat-tat on this sign, and on a metal plate up on a telephone pole near our yard. We were lucky enough to sneak up on him while we were on one of our walks. Jake loves birds, so it was a real treat for him.



Rob’s cousin shared some food with us. She belongs to a gleaner’s group and gets food regularly and had more than she needed. She kindly set aside some items that were gluten-free because she knew I eat that way. She also saved a large box of Keurig K-cups for Rob because she doesn’t care for coffee and he loves it.

The other thing she gave Rob was a fully-cooked frozen turkey. I’ve never had one like that before. I thawed it out, removed all the meat from the bones and boiled them. Rob and I worked together and canned 7 quarts of turkey broth. We ate a lot of the turkey all week long, shared quite a bit, and I will make a turkey-noodle casserole to share with the rest of it tomorrow. I didn’t want to re-freeze the meat, since it had been frozen once already.

I did homeschool with Jake two mornings this past week. One thing we did was made rice casserole with some of the turkey. He ate a little bit, but I was informed that I don’t make it right. His mama makes it right. I was informed that she cooks it for 2 hours. Yes, Aunt Becky, 2 HOURS! And, I put too many carrots in it. But, he ate some anyway, so It was a triumph. (I can’t tell you how many times he’s told his mama she doesn’t make soup the way Aunt Becky does–it was her turn to be the best at something, so I teased her about it!). Any time we can get that boy to eat anything even resembling healthy food, it’s a win.

Patsy and I got a good amount of schoolwork done, as well. She’s only got 1 week of curriculum left other than the new Biology we just started and some math. I went ahead and sorted through old bins of school books and curriculum and was able to figure out what she needed for next year’s work. I owned many of the books already, but there were a few I needed to get. We were able to order most of them used, and went ahead and ordered the rest. It was very economical since we had so much from previous years. Our plan was to be done with school now for the year so we could have time for field trips and extra garden work. It’s why we started in August, but we are going to do a few weeks worth of next year’s school since we are still on lock down here in Oregon. Might as well!

The kids are getting a little stir-crazy! This is Jake, wearing one of the zippered pouches Patsy keeps making on his head, being a “French fry man.” He was playing he was working at In and Out Burger.

Patsy made another owl. This one will be put in a gift bag for a little friend and dropped on her doorstep. It’s her birthday tomorrow.

And, of course….the garden….the place I spent hours and hours this week. It’s my happy place right now. I’m at home so much right now that I’m finding more time to work out there than ever before.

Keeping Kids Busy At Home–Homeschool And Fun–April 2, 2020

Jake’s mama had to work from her home a little bit this week, and since she was seeing patients over the computer, she needed privacy, for obvious reasons. So we moved school with Jake to our house for a couple of days.

My aunt found a way to make elephants with milk jugs and sent the instructions to Rob. Rob did the cutting, the kids painted. I dug the sequins out of a bin–they are left from a project years ago.

We continued our unit study of Africa. We are reading a biography of Mary Slessor, a missionary to Africa in the 1800’s. We are working our way through a book of the African savanna, 1 page a day, and doing further exploration on the animals pictured on each page. Jake is slowly filling in rivers and places on a map of Africa. I am reading “Beat The Story Drum, Put-Pum”–African folk tales retold. We also finished the one assignment they had sent home from school with him when it closed.

Gotta do something with all those t.p. rolls!

I’ve been using lots of u-tube videos to show Jake various birds–his favorite so far is the secretary bird.

Rob’s been coming up with lots of science experiments, using household items we have.

Patsy has been a good support, making crafts with Jake, while keeping up her usual studies. We’ve also forged our way into the new Biology program I ordered.

A friend sent over some pots for the kids to paint. They started in right away!

And, today, I commandeered them into a walk. The dog needed to get out, and it didn’t hurt the kids, either.

Its been fun to do some of the crafty school activities:)

Thriving In My thrifty week–End Of the Oregon Trail Museum–Nov. 11, 2019

Today, we visited the End of the Oregon Trail Museum/Interpretive Center in Oregon City, Oregon. As the name suggests, it is where the Oregon Trail ended approximately 175 years ago. My sister set up a field trip there for both a group of homeschooled kids and kids who attend public school. There were 13 of them, including Michaela. It was planned for Veteran’s Day, since it is a school holiday for the public schools.

The kids we took had a blast!

They started having fun in the parking lot, and it continued. It was a gorgeous day.

We had a nice presentation by our guide, Bethany. We had pre-chosen the “Choose Your Own Adventure” presentation, so she let the kids decide what they would do under certain circumstances they might encounter if they were actually traveling the trail way back in the 1800’s. They loved her little voting devices that allowed them to push the button of their choice and then electronically transferred the information to the screen. After the informative presentation, they were allowed to explore that area for a while.

They moved on to a “Pack your wagon” activity.

The 3 big girls, with help from Alissa, really tried hard to figure out the best use of their 2000 pound wagon-loading limit. The littler boys just decided they didn’t need such things as clothes, just lots and lots of guns:).

The guide moved us on to butter making, where all the kids got to shake the cream until it turned into the desired butter, then they got to taste it.

Candle dipping was a real hit, as well.

Thankfully, there were plenty of grown-up hands to help the little ones. (Hard to believe Alissa counts as a grown-up now, but she DOES!).

The last activity was one in which they laid out ropes to “survey” their land on the big lawn outside. After each team “claimed” their property, often with lots of yells for others to “get off my land!” we were done with the official field trip. Rob had helped me pack a huge lunch for all 18 of us, and we relaxed in the picnic area while we all ate it. He didn’t go this time, which was a good choice since there was a lot of walking.

The kids ran and played on the big lawn after lunch. It was a great day for everyone. They had a blast while learning so much. One of the little boys confided in me how much he loved days where he didn’t have to have school–like this one!

We did do some money-saving activities during the week.

I cooked our meals, using the sale items from the grocery ads, coupled with items from my freezers/cupboards, etc. I did nothing earth-shattering, just made good, plain food. I sent Rob to some stores, and I went to others, and bought the best deals from each place. I hadn’t shopped much for a few weeks, and it caught up with me this week. I’m stocked up now for a while.

I wanted to make a small project and found everything I needed in my stash of fabric. We were also able to find everything my daughter needed for her project, except the stuffing, which my husband bought at the thrift store.

We used our membership at the Croc Center. Since the YMCA closed down for a re-build, we were transferred over there. We haven’t used it much, as it is a bit out of our way, but we are trying to use it more. Rob takes Michaela there at least once a week to swim and we join her when we can. I’ve taken a couple of exercise classes there, as they are all included in our membership. We are still on scholarship from the Y, which I thought was very nice of them all. We do pay each month, but it’s a reduced amount.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 9, 2019

Here is our newly graduated Alissa, with her proud parents!

…..and the aunties!

…..and then there’s the “twins, separated at birth,” as they used to call themselves. It was quite an evening.

All I can say about this week is, “WOW!” All week, we seemed we were scrambling from one activity to another. But, in the end, we got everything done, and stayed somewhat frugal:).

Of course, Alissa’s graduation was a huge part of the week, but we did some other things as well.

Rob, Patsy and I went to the dentist. Because our dentist’s son is starting to slowly take over the practice, we had a new dentist. Let’s just say our teeth were thoroughly cleaned. He’s very good, but still somewhat new at it all. We ended up using a gift card I’ve had for over 2 years for lunch because it took much longer than we expected. I’m glad we have dental insurance, and have a place to use it at, and can still go to our same old dentist office, even though it’s a distance away.

I weeded and hoed quite a bit. I tucked in more green bean seeds where they got eaten by birds or slugs, and planted a short, new row of lettuce. I like to plant little bits often so we always have some.

I mowed the lawn and planted a couple of flowers here and there. Some of the seeds I’ve planted are starting to look like they will survive and I will have flowers eventually from them.

I found a ham for 69c/lb. It was the last one. It was close to expiration, but we’ve already been eating it and it won’t be a problem to use it up. I got Bugles for $1/bag (7.5 oz). I shared some today with the family, but most are for summer fun activities.

Patsy’s birthday was Friday. We took her to Red Robin, using a gift card from Christmas and let her have milkshakes and French fries for dinner. Yup. No healthy food for her. Just that!

Saturday was Abbie’s birthday. My oldest and my youngest. What a pair:). The 3 of us went to the zoo to celebrate. We used my zoo pass. It was my gift to Abbie–we just wanted to spend some time, and this was a super fun way to do that. Patsy borrowed my phone and took a lot of pictures.

We had a really nice time being together.

Ja’Ana’s Graduation

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We finally found a dress yesterday.  Whew!

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At first, I wondered if it was too fancy, but she really wanted this one.  She looked so nice, and it fit in perfectly.  She was just right.  There were other girls with super fancy dresses, along with some who chose more casual attire.  She also got high heeled black shoes, but wore the white ones in the car and to the rehearsal.  Once she put those babies on, I felt even shorter than usual:)

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And, then……She graduated!

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IMG_7223¬† It’s nice to have another milestone achieved. ¬†Tonight, I’m going to chill for a while, then up and at ’em bright and early in the morning to cook, clean, shop and decorate for the big party on Saturday to celebrate with family and friends.

Camlann Medieval Village–Homeschool Field Trip

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This weekend, we took the kids to Camlann Medieval Village. ¬†It is a living history village about an hour from Seattle, Washington. ¬†Both our family and Alissa’s family went together, and we took all of the kids, not just the homeschooled ones. ¬†We had a blast!

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The blacksmith entertained Michaela by putting arrowheads he had forged on her fingers and then they roared like wild animals.  He was so patient with her, and explained the whole blacksmithing process to all of us who were watching, but took extra time with an enamored Michaela.

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One of the cottages had a fiber display.  It was very interactive, and the guide spent a great deal of time with the girls I was with, and let them weave on this loom.

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Jake and Patsy had a great time feeding the sheep.

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My sister, Gail, the field trip queen, chose this weekend to go because there was a May Day festival going on. ¬†There are other festivals at other times of the year, and some weekends are “village” weekends. ¬†It was explained to us that on festival weekends they hire entertainment such as the magician who did a show, musicians, and a few others. ¬†Those people are not there and one lady told me there were even more displays explaining village life and how they made things on the non-festival weekends. ¬†At 3:30, because it was a May Day festival, there was a Maypole dance for those who wanted to participate. ¬†Michaela, Patsy and Alissa wanted to dance it and we all enjoyed watching them.

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It was a lovely day, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

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This little guy had a stick and was WAY too cute, joining in with the musicians as they played for the Maypole. ¬†Earlier, his mother had been a guide for the cottage where we learned about daily medieval life. ¬†She was SO in character, and SO convincing, that Michaela exclaimed afterwards, “I had NO idea that the people really lived here, in these houses!” ¬†She was very sincere, but was fine with it when her mama explained that these people were actors and actresses who were playing a part and were told to say those things, like in a movie.

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This little cutie was the daughter of the lady who made the flower wreaths that Alissa and Patsy wore.  She happily played with my sister, Gail, for a while as her mother was busy braiding flowers.  She had a designated babysitter, but was very friendly to Gail, too.

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There was an archery demonstration, and later on, those who wanted too could take a turn shooting.

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Jake sure wanted to!

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Alissa and her dad, Ron, both decided to goof around and sit on Rob’s lap when their legs got tired:)

There was a restaurant, where Ron and Gail got a little bite to eat, as they had not had their lunch, yet. ¬†There were things like “fungus” (mushrooms), and stew of some sort with a medieval name. ¬†They said it was delicious. ¬†Later in the evening, there was going to be a medieval feast, but we chose not to participate. ¬†It is reservation only, something you need to know if you ever go and do want to participate. ¬†I’m sure it would have been a great experience since it included both food and entertainment, but many of our kids are not good eaters, and the expensive feast would have been wasted. ¬†Instead, we went to a pizza parlor in the nearby town of Carnation, and everyone pigged out on their preferred foods. ¬†They even made Michaela a peanut butter pizza, which was basically bread with peanut butter on it, placed in triangles on a pizza board. ¬†She was so happy, as her food choices are very limited. ¬†Then Ron and Rob took the big kids to the movies, and Gail and I stayed back with Jake and Michaela, and just rested. ¬†Ahhhhh….

This morning, Rob and I drove Lovana, Alissa, and Ja’Ana back in time for Driver’s Ed class, which started at 2. ¬†Ron and Gail took Jake, Michaela and Patsy to the Space Needle, then brought them home a little later. ¬†We had a fun, action packed weekend, and hopefully, everyone learned a little bit more about medieval times. ¬†The village was small, there were no huge crowds, and the guides were very patient, kind and knowledgable.

 

Another International Homeschool Day

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Today, my sister Rosalie, and I took the girls to see Rosalie’s friend Harnet and her 2 year-old daughter. ¬†You may remember that we have gone to see her before and I wrote about it in this post.¬† We also went for a day out around Christmas time.

Today, Danait remembered the girls fondly, looked forward to them and myself coming over, and played really well and interacted with all of us. ¬†It was quite a change from first time when we went over there and she was very shy because she did not know us. ¬†Rosalie always brings a balloon from the Dollar Store, and today was no exception. ¬†We also took a bag of assorted coloring books and activities, such as stickers, that were sorted out from Alissa’s house.

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She loved them. ¬†(The reason you will see lots of Alissa and no Ja’Ana is because she is catching that awful cold that we are passing around ¬†and didn’t want her picture taken today–mostly she was very quiet and sat down a lot–poor girl!)

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Harnet made us a bunch of food. ¬†Yum! ¬†She carefully taught us how to make this red lentil dish. ¬†Here’s how you do it:

Saute a lot of onions in oil. ¬†(I didn’t see exactly how many, but it was between 2 and 3 cups)

Chop up 4-5 tomatoes and throw them in. (She said a can would work)

Add some oil. ¬†(It was a lot–like 1/2 cup or even more–I’m going to try a bit less)

Cook all of this for a while until tender, stirring occasionally–about 1/2 hour or more.

Put in 1 heaping Tablespoon of Beri-Beri spice or 2 heaping Tablespoons of Beri-Beri paste

Add red lentils 1 or 1/2 cups. (She washed them well first)

Chop 8-10 garlic cloves and put them in.

1 jalepeno pepper, sliced into sticks.  (She said this can go in any time.  She did it toward the end)

Salt and pepper to taste.

She then added some water until there was about 1 inch of liquid above the solids. ¬†She stirred ever so often and let it cook until soft–about another hour. ¬†It may have been done sooner, but that’s when we wanted to eat. ¬†We had it over rice and some of them ate it with injeera bread.

She also made some chicken and some beef, which were also delicious. ¬†It was important to her to cook for us, and for us to eat a LOT! ¬†She is so hospitable. ¬†We did our best, which was easy, because it is delicious food, although very different than what we are used to. ¬†It’s a little bit spicy, so sour cream or yogurt is offered ¬†to cool it down. ¬†I like it the way it is, but the girls take the sour cream.

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Rosalie and the big girls took Danuit for a walk and then played with her while Harnet and I worked on her homework for her classes in college. ¬†We worked on English. ¬†It was hard, and English is my first (and only) language. ¬†We worked for about an hour and did not even get done. ¬†After we left, Rosalie helped her finish. ¬†She was so grateful because it is hard to get it done with Danuit “helping” and also she said it is just nice to be able to KNOW that she has the right answers instead of HOPING she is right. ¬†She was telling us that she is studying for citizenship now, and hopes to take that test before too much longer. ¬†I already respected her for her bravery and courage in coming to a new land. ¬†I respect her even more as I get to know her and see how hard she is working to succeed here.

Then Harnet made us coffee. ¬†She roasted the beans, ground them, heated milk, added tons of sugar, and served it to us. ¬†I’m not a coffee drinker, but just can’t say no to that. ¬†It has enough sugar in it that I can drink it and enjoy it. ¬†There is a flavor to it that I can’t describe, but it’s a good flavor–very strong and sweet.

I brought embroidery supplies and started teaching her how to embroider a towel, because she wanted to learn. ¬†We simply ran out of time before I had to head back home (over an hour away) to get to work. ¬†So, Ja’Ana showed her how to find the DMC website with stitch instructions and pictures, and hopefully she will be able to get guidance from there.

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After we left, Rosalie took them shopping to an Ethiopian grocery store. ¬†On the way home, Danuit fell asleep and stayed asleep on the couch while they finished the homework. ¬†Yea! ¬†The girls were awesome! ¬†They wore her out! ¬†They had so much fun, despite J’s cold.

I am so happy with how this whole experience is unfolding for the girls and myself. ¬†When we go, we do not do any conventional schoolwork that day, but I feel they are learning so much. ¬†They are making a connection with someone they would not normally cross paths with. ¬†They are learning that they can make a difference in someone’s world, by the simple act of playing with a small child and some simple toys. ¬†They are learning to respect someone with different ways of doing things, a different language, and a different culture. They are seeing that the world is so much bigger than their small arena. ¬†I like to think they are very accepting of others, and I want that to grow in them. ¬†I’m happy they are generous and take small presents, and can also see, and be grateful, ¬†that Harnet and Danuit have much to offer them as well–things like a welcoming spirit, hospitality, kindness, and more–and that they have something to offer, too. ¬† I love it that they are surrounded by strong women, such as their aunties, and I think they will probably not understand how much courage it took for Harnet to leave her homeland and come to America for a better life until they are much older, but I love that they will have that information to process when they are ready. ¬†They are going to need courage and compassion and many other traits to be good women. ¬†Today is one of the days that I love about homeschool because we have time for these kinds of lessons along with the more traditional ones we do most of the time.

Our Big Field Trip to San Francisco

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We got back last evening from our biggest field trip of the year–San Francisco! ¬†The trip was a huge success. ¬†Here are some highlights.

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Yikes!  The BART train not only jerks you around, it makes extremely loud noises!

We arrived without any trouble or fuss at the San Francisco airport and then rode the BART train to Union Square, where our hotel was.  My sister was attending a conference at Union Square, so chose a hotel across the square from where her conference was held.  We did not rent a car, but instead, rode public transportation the entire time.  That, in itself, was a big adventure for us. Where we live, most people I know drive everywhere, all the time.  We loaded an app on each phone, and then purchased tickets for unlimited rides on the MUNI system.  It included the cable cars, but not the BART.  Whenever we rode, we just showed our phone.  No paper tickets involved at all and we could hop on and off all we wanted.

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They left their hearts….in San Francisco. ¬†This heart is in Union Square.

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We walked into Chinatown for dinner. ¬†Our concierge gave us a bum steer to a Chinese restaurant that was supposedly gluten-free. ¬†It wasn’t. ¬†We were HUNGRY, so just took off down the street until we found another restaurant that my sister had found on a gluten-free app. ¬†It ended up being a Spanish tapas restaurant, and we ate delicious tapas. ¬†We walked and walked and finally ended up riding a MUNI bus back to the hotel. ¬†We had a great walk through Chinatown, with no rain, and got full!

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Friday morning, my sister went off to her conference, and the girls and I went sightseeing. After eating breakfast, armed with many destinations on my phone, we tried to catch a cable car toward the wharf. ¬†Unfortunately, by this time of the day (late morning), the cable cars were full and kept whizzing past us with the conductors waving their hands at us and saying “catch the next one, this one’s full.” ¬†So, we would walk another block or two, hoping for better luck at the next stop. ¬†We walked for miles, straight up steep hills and down again. ¬†Literally. ¬†Each time, hoping that we would find a better place to get on. ¬†Finally, I realized that the Cable Car Museum was only a few blocks away, so we walked the rest of the way there and went in.

It was wonderful and very informative.  It told history of the area, cable cars, and how they work.  It was also free.

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Michaela loved this museum.   She did not love walking as much as we did that day.  So, after enjoying the museum, a friendly cable car operator sent us to the right place, and we were able to hop onto a car.  We rode the rest of the way to the wharf, to our specific goal, Ghiridelli Square.

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They proceeded to have ice cream for lunch and to buy chocolate! ¬†It began to rain quite heavily, but we had no trouble at all catching a cable car back to our hotel. ¬†We had dinner near our hotel with my sister, who was done with her conference for the day. ¬†The restaurant was in a several-story Macy’s store, which the girls went wild over!

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On Saturday, we had a plan that worked much better. ¬†We got on the cable cars much closer to the beginning of the line, and had no trouble getting a seat. ¬†It did take 2 tries, but we got one. ¬†We rode down to Fisherman’s Wharf again, and continued where we left off on Friday. ¬†Alissa and Michaela enjoyed eating bread at the Boudin sourdough factory. ¬†Ja’Ana wanted an In-and-Out burger, because we don’t have them in our part of Oregon. ¬†We went through the museum there. ¬†Here’s a tip: ¬†If you eat downstairs, you have to pay for the museum. ¬†If we would have eaten upstairs, the museum would have been free. ¬†As far as I can tell, the bread was the same bread either place, but there were more entrees upstairs. ¬†Thankfully, the cost of admission was not expensive.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon on Fisherman’s Wharf. ¬†In the late afternoon, my sister joined us and we walked around some more, and then ate dinner at Rainforest Cafe. ¬†What I love about that place is that they will cook food that I need. ¬†My sister and I are both gluten-free. ¬†So, I asked for plain rice, plain chicken, and plain vegetables. ¬†That’s exactly what I got. ¬†Phew! ¬† My tummy was the happiest it had been all trip. ¬†By the time we exited the restaurant, it was pouring rain and quite dark.

We decided to ride the train to the ferry, then transfer to the MUNI subway train. ¬†Things were not running quite normally, due to a protest march, we were told, but that was a good, easy way to get back. ¬†In reality, it was a little harder than that. ¬†We got to the ferry easily. ¬†Upon leaving the train, we were told to walk 1 block up to the station, go down the stairs, and ride the subway train to Union Square. ¬†So, in the pouring rain, with our umbrellas turning inside out at times, we shoved and pushed our way through the edge of a huge crowd of protesters, waving signs and chanting–some quite angry, but most peaceful, surrounded by a multitude of policemen. ¬†We put the girls between us, and tried to stay together as we threaded our way through the huge mass of people. ¬†Crowds are especially difficult for Michaela, but she was a trooper. ¬†We reached the subway station and waited on the platform for the appropriate train. ¬†The march was ending and the station filled with people. ¬†We crowded onto the train, which became so full that they could not close the doors, there were so many people. ¬†Once we reached our stop, we almost could not get out, but my sister shoved her way through, pulling Michaela. ¬†Ja’Ana followed, then Alissa, then myself. ¬†At one point, tiny little Alissa wasn’t making any headway and I gave her a huge push through a little crack in the people and popped her through like a watermelon seed going through someone’s fingers. ¬†She told me later, she felt she would have never got out of there without that push! ¬†I was able to shove through behind her, and we were free. ¬†We climbed up the stairs, and exited into a deluge of rain. ¬†After walking several blocks, we were delighted to wrap up in blankets and get all cozy and warm in our hotel room. ¬†The girls were still keyed up, so they went to the exercise room, exercised, and then went and got some french fries from the restaurant. ¬†Oh, to be young!!

 

Sunday was the tour my sister had booked for us.  We had a wonderful driver, and we saw many sights, despite the rain that developed.  He took us to the bridge while it was still sunny.img_3975

We had studied some San Francisco history before we went, and the museums and this tour helped solidify some of those facts for the girls.

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We saw the Muir Woods. ¬†There were redwood trees there, and hiking trails. ¬†The trail we tried to hike down was blocked by flooding–it’s been raining a lot there lately. ¬†We still enjoyed ourselves.

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He also drove us around the city, showing us neighborhoods, city hall, and more.  He told us about the hippie movement, and other historic aspects of the city.

On Monday, it was time to come home.  We had a blast, but missed the rest of our families we left behind.  Today, it was back to the grindstone!  Vacations can only last so long, but trust me, the field trip queen (my sister, Gail) is already formulating a plan for the next, great field trip!