Saturday, March 31, 2012

Florida - the beach

When we first looked at the weather forecasts, it looked like we would have cooler days at the beginning of the week and then warmer days towards then end.  Well, then like weather does ... it changed.  We planned a trip to the beach and it ended up being cooler than we had thought it would be.  I'm behind the camera - but I had on a sweatshirt and being wrapped in a blanket was sounding good too!

No matter the temps, this little girl LOVES the ocean!  She runs and plays with reckless abandon.
I'm always surprised that she doesn't get cold!
The boys headed in too.  Maybe it was just the adults that didn't want to get wet.
Rebecca enjoyed walking on the beach.  Its one of my favorite things to do as well.
I love pictures from the back.  I know I'm not the only one.  Just something sweet about the angle.
The older boys played frisbee.
Until a wave took it and wouldn't give it back.
This guy is growing so much and learning to do things he wouldn't do in the past.  He, like his siblings, loves to be at the beach.

You can see the speed at which she moves by noting the direction of her ponytail.  Or maybe it was just the wind off the ocean.  Cute, either way.
Wouldn't be a day on the beach for my guys without someone having a digging project.
Joshua is hard at work.
But he made it ... four corners neat and square!  (Yes, we've just been reading Mike Mulligan.)
The vehicle we drove onto the beach.  It made a nice wind break.  LOL

There were some people flying some pretty amazing kites out that day as well - and some of them were huge!  

This was one of my favorite photos.  Just love the sheer delight on her face!
Finished playing in the water and its time for some building in the sand.

Roger does a great job building castles for Eliana so when she is in demolition mode she can take out his and not a brother's work.

She does love her Daddy!
Keaton and Isaiah working together.  Looks the tide is fast approaching.
Daniel and Jesse on the other side of the building project.
It was a beautiful day and no matter the weather, the ocean is always magnificent.  What a testimony to a Creator!
Even as they grow, I'm still taking those shots from behind.  Some days, its all I can get and yet I do still love them.

Thankful for this beautiful day filled with sand, water and many memories with family and friends.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blessings & Bike Riding

We spent an amazing week in Florida.  What a treat on so many levels!!!  We stayed with Christopher's roommate's family.  We first talked via email last April.  We met in August.  God was so in this story that it still touches my heart.  I'm not sure if I've fully shared this story.  I think I've only done it in pieces.

A little less than a year ago, I posted about Christopher's college decision.  (Read it here)  I had been praying for Christopher's college roommate for quite awhile before that.  Having worked in college housing and also just going through it myself, I knew that having a good roommate could significantly affect your experience.  So I prayed.  I prayed for the spiritual life of the young man that would be living with him.  I prayed for his family.  I prayed for him.  I knew that I didn't know this man, but God did.

What I didn't know, was that while I prayed, God had already been at work.  (Even now the tears are forming in my eyes.)  I posted in December that Christopher had gotten his acceptance letter from NCSU.  I posted a picture of the letter.  One that very evening, another mom "happened" to visit the host site and saw a list of recent posts.  The picture in one of them caught her eye.  She recognized that letter. Her son had gotten the same one.  So she visited my blog.  And watched.  And waited.  For four more months.  And then in April, when I posted his decision, she sent me an email.  I opened and saw a "msg from a homeschooling mom whose son is also attending NCSU".  I read it and we started corresponding.  And soon, our sons were also corresponding.  I was excited and thought this might be the answer to my prayer!

I was delighted when the guys decided to room together.  I still had no idea of all that  God was orchestrating.  No idea.

We talked some over the coming months and then it was August.  Time for college.  We met each other the night before move in day and had a great time together.  They have 2 younger boys close in age to 2 of my boys (and also 2 older girls).  We spent more time together as they were in town for several days and God blessed us even more.  We just genuinely liked each other.  :-)

An answer to prayer.  I wanted a roommate that would encourage Christopher's faith, and one that would be fun to spend time with.  My request was answered - but in a far bigger way that I could have even hoped for.  Why do I limit my prayers?  Why do I limit God?  I am blown away by His goodness and grace - and not just because of answers to prayers.  This was just an example of a loving Father giving a good gift to children that He loves.

The relationship with the guys grew and flourished and the rest of their family also enjoyed each other.  We had a short visit in the fall when they were here and they invited us to visit in Florida.  We all really wanted to come too.  March looked like a great time to go.  We had a free week at the same time as Christopher and Joe's spring break.  So we planned it.  A week in Florida.  Staying in the home of a family that we had known for just a short time.

I'm not sure I could have predicted how comfortable and easy it was to be with them.  Their gracious hospitality was so sweet for all of us.  We were all so welcomed and loved and relaxed being there.  It was a wonderful week!

I'm going to break up our trip into several posts.  Here is a start.  It was a beautiful day and we decided to go for a bike ride.  All of us.  We brought some bikes and then borrowed a lot from their friends.  Eliana rode as we just didn't think she would stay put in any other option.

Did I mention it was beautiful?  Check out the sky.  What you can't see are the tiny little bugs ("no-see-ums"), that don't bother you at all when you keep moving!
Rescuing a frisbee from the tree before heading out.
 It took awhile to get everyone ready to go!  LOL
Finally, we take off.  We ride around the neighborhood and then to a nearby neighborhood on our way to a yacht club.
My boys all really loved doing this and I know its something we need to do more often!  Its nice having all of them able to keep up (except for Eliana who is perfectly happy riding along most of the time).
Since there were so many of us - and 5 of us 18 and older - it made it easy for us to spread out some on the ride too.  Nice for those who wanted to go a little faster or slower.
It was a leisurely pace for most of us.  Really the perfect weather for biking.  I need to remind myself of this more often and get to biking NOW before it gets too hot.
Its just fun to enjoy being outside and being active with family and friends.
We checked out the pool at the yacht club.  The water was VERY cold.  I wasn't tempted in the least to get in.  I can't say the same about some of my children - but thankfully they didn't get in.
This was the deck leading out to the docks for the boats.  I know, I should have turned around and taken a picture of the boats in the water.  As you can see from my photo though, I was too busy looking the other way.
This little girl is fast and fearless and must be watched!  She doesn't have a good sense of danger yet which can be frightening at times too!
She loves to run and play tag - especially with someone else.  Joe is a great friend to play with too!
More photos from around the club.  (This is not the water the boats were in, but an  area of run-off or something?)
Just like sharing photos.
Heading back to the house.  More fun times playing outside in a backyard that is just designed for fun, fun, fun!
More photos soon and more on our adventures in Florida.  :-)

Thanks McDonalds for a wonderful week!!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Beyond Co-op - George Washington Carver #4

This is my last catch-up post before I get to our vacation.  I wanted to finish up our time with George Washington Carver too before moving on to our next Beyond FIAR title which will happen later this week.  :-)

We started our morning with a devotion.  Its a nice way to put our focus on God and what He has done that relates to what we will be learning about.  

I started with a game to see how much they knew about sweet potatoes.  North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in our country (more than 40 percent).  To play the game, I would read a statement and they would try to figure out if it were true or false.

Some of the statements included the following:

Yams and sweet potatoes are the same thing.  (False.  They are two distinct vegetables which are often confused.  The yam is a starchy tuber generally imported from the Caribbean.  It differs greatly in taste, texture and appearance.  The sweet potato belongs to the Morning Glory family.)

Sweet potatoes were brought to American by the Africans.  (False.  Native Americans were growing sweet potatoes when Columbus arrived in 1492.)

North Carolina is the top producer of sweet potatoes in the nation.  (True, but you already knew that.  NC has ranked No. 1 since 1971.  Its hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes.)
It was interesting to see what they thought and I don't think there was a single statement that they all agreed on completely.

There are more than 6500 varieties of sweet potato.  True.
You can eat all of the sweet potato.  True.
NC sweet potatoes are grown in summer and fall.  False.  They are grown year round.
We also talked about some of the nutritional information on sweet potatoes.  They are better for you than regular potatoes and much better for a diabetic as they are a complex carb.

The next game we played was to highlight some of the discoveries that George Washington Carver made about the sweet potato and peanut.  Did you know that he developed over 100 uses for sweet potatoes?!  Isn't that amazing?  God gave him such a gift and he did use it fully!  He held only 3 patents for all of these discoveries as he believed that food products came from God and that it should not be a source of profit but rather available to all.  He also discovered over 300 uses for peanuts!

Each child was given a card with a  peanut on it and another with a sweet potato on it.  I read an item and the children tried to decide if it was something made from a sweet potato or peanuts.  A few of they were from both.

Here are the items with a (P) for peanut and a (SP) for sweet potato.
Lotion  (P)
shaving cream  (P)
Flour  (SP)  ***
wood stain  (P)
sugar  (SP)
yeast (SP)
leather and cloth dye   (P)
wood stain (SP)
hair tonic (P)
laxative  (P)

*** During the wheat shortage of 1918, Carver experimented with making flour from dried sweet potatoes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture brought him to Washington, D.C., to discuss the feasibility of producing large quantities of sweet potato flour, and plans were put in place to conduct some large-scale experiments. But when the war ended, so did the wheat shortage, and demand for alternative sources of flour faded

vinegar   (P)
paint  (SP)
instant coffee  (P) & (SP)
cocoa   (P)
medicine  (SP)
mayonnaise (P)
salad oil  (P)
postage stamp glue (SP)
cosmetics (P)

Next, we headed outside to try to grow our own sweet potatoes.  We suspended sweet potatoes in a jar to be filled with water.  

We have had ours now for a couple of weeks and this experiment did not work for us.  :-(  I remember doing this as a child and getting a great plant.  Not sure why it didn't work this time.

For our snack, we decided to have a sweet potato feast!!!  We made SEVEN different foods from sweet potatoes for the children to try.  Isaiah liked doing this so much that he thinks we should pick a different vegetable and try this again at home.

Here's what we ate from left to right.

*Traditional sweet potato  casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows
*Roasted sweet potatoes
*Sweet potato chips (bought from store and not part of our count of 7)
*Sweet potato slaw
*Sweet potato muffins
*Sweet potato cheese straws.
What I didn't get a picture of were the two that were some of the biggest hits!  A creamsicle smoothie and a Caribbean stew!  Both were delicious and we have made them both at home since then.

I found the recipes on this wonderful site.  NC Sweet Potatoes  There is also a lot of great info on sweet potatoes here.
For the next part of our co-op, we learned about insects.  This time we focused on their wings as a means of identifying types of insects.  "Tera" means wing and you will see this in the names of insects.  (Ex Lepidoptera means scaled wings and is the class of butterflies and moths.)

This book was a great resource in learning about insects.

It is both informative and visually appealing which I find to be a great quality in a book!

After learning, we did a hands-on fun project.  In our story, we learned that Dr. Carver was an expert at identifying insects.  One time, some of his students put together pieces of several different insects trying to stump their teacher.  He was not fooled and called this bug a  "humbug".  We now let the children make either a realistic insect or they could choose a humbug.
With a variety of materials and a hot glue gun, they went to work.
They all were very interested in this which was fun for me to see.  I don't always tackle these types of projects with my boys and I can see that I should do this more often!  They loved it.
Can you see his neat bug?
I loved all of them.
Unique, creative and fun.
Just like their designers.
Time spent creating is not wasted, but is a fun time of using the gifts and talents that God has given all of us - to be creative - just like He is.
And the smiles and laughter while they were working was sweet to my ears as well.
THis is quite a collection, wouldn't you agree?
They took turns sharing details about the insect they had created and if any of the details fit into some of the categories that they had learned about earlier.
My only question now is what do I do with these when I get home?  (Its one of the reasons we probably don't create more.  *blush*)
As always, a fun time learning with our friends.  I'm thankful for this time and this group and for the sweet memories we are making here and at home as we study our Beyond Five in a Row books!

Blessings to you as you learn new things today!