Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures as a Legislative Page

  He was the most nervous I'd seen him in a long time.  This morning Bubby was getting ready to go off to the Kansas capitol and work as a legislative page for the day and he was dragging his feet.  I knew he'd have fun and be totally enthralled with it all, but sometimes you just can't tell them, they have to experience it.  So, I shipped him out the door with Hubby for a day he wasn't so sure was an adventure.
But it was.  Truly, it was the best day to be a page.  He didn't get to meet the governor because it was such a busy day for politics, but the action of the day - it was the payoff.  He got to tour the capitol from bottom to top (literally, he got to go out on the cupola, which is good because after last time I told him I'd not be the one to take him up there again *shudder*).  Then he was in helping during the House session the rest of the time.  He got to bring copies of a bill to the chamber for those needing it and then watch as they debated the same bill and tried to amend it.  He was so thrilled with the entire process that when I arrived he asked if we could watch some more so he could see them vote on it again.  Now he's ready to go back again next year!
  It was a relatively easy process to get signed up.  You send your name and a short description of why you want to be a page to one of your local representatives.  We chose Rep. Ken Corbet.  Representative Corbet responded that same afternoon and gave us further instructions on what to do.  His assistant followed up when the official paperwork was sent out.  They had us arrive at a certain time on our chosen day and receive a briefing. Aside from bringing copies of the bill to those that needed them, he ran other paperwork and messages to representatives on the floor.  What a way to learn the political process!  I wish I'd had that opportunity when I was a kiddo!  Hubby was a page when he was Bubby's age and they shared stories this evening.  Bubby has already been talking up the experience to a reluctant Mookie.  Although, it sounds like she'll have someone willing to go and show her the ropes ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Field Trip: Wichita

  Work took Hubby and I to Wichita today.  One of the perks of being your own boss is getting to take family along.  So we met up with Ducky and Grandma and headed out.  Our first stop was the Old Mill Tasty Shop.  Ducky and Grandma knew that it was a popular eating place so we got there right at 11am to beat any lunch crowd - I'm glad we did.  We were easily seated and dined on yummy things like the lasagna special, chili and crab salad sandwiches and cherry limeades (made on site).  Our server, Oliver, was fantastic (he's my vote for best server we've had over the past year).  Afterward we took part in yummy carrot cake and shakes - can you say stuffed? ;)  When we left the place was packed with periods of people waiting to be seated - yay for excellent timing!
Tasty treats at the Tasty Shop
  Hubby and I dropped everyone off at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum to wander while we went to our meeting at WSU.  Wichita has many opportunities for field trips, but since our trips to Wichita are few and far between and our time was limited, we went for local and less expensive admission.  The kids had a blast. Although when you are with your grandparents, how can you not? ;)

There weren't as many hands on activities, but there were enough like the antique phone booth with the rotary dial and the old typewriter. 
  When they finished with their time there, they took a hike through the downtown while on their way to the Transportation Museum (which is near the Tasty Shop).  They were fascinated by the bronze statues along the way and took some fantastic pictures of them interacting with them...

And trains!  The railroad passes right through downtown, much to Shorty's joy.
But, the Transportation Museum was closed, poor planning on my part.  I had neglected to double check the hours.  However, a wonderful man who was gearing up for a display there this coming weekend heard them rattle the doors and gave them some railroading magazines and pamphlets.
  Since it was chilly they went in search of hot chocolate at Expresso To Go Go which was a little coffee shop we had seen close to the Tasty Shop with a huge disco ball hanging from the ceiling.  Mookie declared the hot chocolate the best she had ever had.
Waiting on hot chocolate
We joined the fam there for our own treat before we hit the road. Those gals at Expresso To Go Go took really good care of us, and it will definitely be a place that is worth a repeat visit. 
  One place that is on our list for a possible future trip is the Great Plains Nature Center, but that will have to wait for an even warmer day ;)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Learning with the Amazing Race

  We needed a good geography study again.  A few years back, we utilized our enjoyment of the tv show The Amazing Race.  We would make a lapbook and do crafts associated with the countries they visited.  It went really well.  We gave it up when during one episode they were in Vietnam and they had the teams sing a Communist propaganda song.  As a daughter of a Vietnam veteran I took extreme offense to such a thing and we boycotted it.  But, it is an effective tool to use for a curriculum base. It's entertaining:  The teams' challenges reflect local customs; It's quick paced: at an episode per week you have to keep moving with it, there's no putting it to the back burner; It's multi-media: you can incorporating, reading, art, music, geography, dvds, etc... all within one subject.  So, The Amazing Race was on again!
  This time around, our schedule is such in the evenings that we don't always have a chance to catch the Race on primetime, so we accessed an older season with our Amazon Prime membership and scheduled an episode per week.  That's enough of a spread to get some good crafts in and keeps the kids temporarily at bay when they are begging to watch the next episode ;)
  Watching on primetime requires a trip to the library each week to gather resources.  This time around, I can browse the episode descriptions and plan out our library gatherings a couple weeks in advance.  Things we check out are things like this...
This is part of our selections for the England/Scotland leg of the race.  For the Viking craft, we created our own Viking brooches too.  We found instructions for them over at :
We read aloud Paddington by Michael Bond too.  The kids really enjoyed it!  Bubby absconded with it and finished it in short order and the other two listened with rapt attention during each chapter.  We made our own Paddington bear as a craft.
We used a cork for his body, then puff balls, pipe cleaners and puffy paint.  The adorable hats we found at Hobby Lobby.
  We amped it up a little bit for the big kids and I am having them do lapbook parts on World Governments thanks to a Hands of a Child lapbook I had on hand.
   This might become our winter project each year.  Something that is a lot of hands on when its too cold to want to get outside!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Museum Selfie Day: Kansas Riverkings

  We had a field trip planned this week.  Tomorrow is the school day symphony for kids from around our area in Kansas.  It is fantastic!  So I was not looking for another trip into town this week.  But then there came across my Facebook newsfeed #museumselfieday, January 20th. *pause* Now I really want to do it.  Something fun and spontaneous and would satisfy my 11 year old asking, "where are we going for our next field trip?" for the last several days.  So then I justify it... I do need to get the oil changed in the van... I can take some library books back... I do need to get milk from the dairy.  Well, as much as we didn't need to take another trip this week, we got one ;)
  We didn't need a big one and I had the perfect addition to our schedule The Kansas Riverkings museum is located on the Kansas riverfront in Lawrence, KS.  To find it you need to go into the Abe and Jake's Landing entertainment center.  Abe and Jake's is named for two African-American commercial fishermen who made their living on the river and had shacks just right below the current Abe and Jake's Landing.  We got our picture taken with statues of them...
Mookie and Shorty with Abe and Jake
The Riverkings museum is much of what I expected, a single room with all kinds of fishing implements.  It does an excellent job of telling the story of the local fishermen and how they did what they did.  From the making of their traps and hooks, to how they "called up the fish" with an old telephone that would electrify the water. 
Mookie taking a picture of some of the tools of the trade
I love this picture Shorty took of some of the hooks.  How do you keep a pre-schooler who needs a nap under control?  Give him your camera (with a strap to put around his neck!).

The attendant was very knowledgeable and made sure to point out interesting facts to the kids.  That's a big bonus for me - any kind of extra engagement is good for learning!
  When we finished with our tour, we headed down the stairs in the Landing to take a gander at the Kansas River.  On our way we had to stop and see the HUGE commercial fishing traps hanging on the wall...
And then look at the gulls on the frigid river.  Mookie took her "selfie" responsibilities very seriously and took several with her own tablet :)
I sure like my at home time, especially on a cold and slick day where I relish being a homeschooler.  But, we had a blast doing something new and exciting!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Field Trip: Rochester, Minnesota

  We were done with field trips for the year, or were we?  I have learned to never count anything out.  We made a took a trip just before Christmas to visit a family member at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and gave it a little zip of learning.
  While visiting at Mayo, we stretched the kids' legs a bit and wandered the halls.  We were on the St. Mary's hospital campus and there was a small (the size of a walk in closet) museum in one of the buildings.  It had some cool artifacts from the early days of the hospital.

One of the items was a spoon, the size of a serving spoon, that was used to remove gall stones - yuck!
See the operating table with the slats and trough underneath?  I won't explain that one, you can figure it out ;)
 This was one of my favorites from artifacts scattered on display in the halls.  It is a bronze cast of the Madonna's face from Michelangelo's Pieta.
 And then a lovely 3/4 size nativity...
This didn't even scratch the surface of all the lovely and interesting sights we could see within Mayo, but we needed to get out and about a little more so we took our show on the road.  And went to the History Center of Olmstead County.  I'll tell you, the Children's Museum at Rochester almost won out, but we had a limited time in town and we've been to general childrens' museums before.  We needed some local exhibits!
  While it was fairly small, the History Center did a great job presenting the highlights of the county.
We found a solar compass, which apparently Shorty has "been always wanting for my birthday!".
And a place to have our pictures taken with Dr. Charlie and Dr. Will Mayo...
I debated posting this picture, but someone's serious pic was too serious ;)
There were lovely outfits from the mid 19th century that made it on to Mookie's wish list...
And a Lego model of one of the Mayo buildings that Bubby was thrilled with.  He took pictures of every angle.  Including this one ;)
It would have been nice to be there under more relaxed circumstances and explore more, but we got to hang out with family made it fun and learned a little along the way.  That's what it's all about :)  We even got our fill of a White Christmas going home on Christmas Day (ok, a little more than we wanted by going through a snow storm, but Hubby got us home safe and sound).
On the way home before the storm

Update: When I wrote this blog I forgot the best story!  We went out in a snowstorm on Christmas Eve Eve to go get some of Rochester's homemade ice cream at Flapdoodles.  The guy at our hotel (Econolodge - which was the best hotel experience we'd had in a long time!) said it was phenomenal.  So, out we go in the driving and accumulating snow (crazy Kansans ;) ) to get said ice cream.  When we get there we're piling out of the car and Shorty grabs some of the parking lot snow and eats it!  Parking lot snow!  We are about to have frozen deliciousness (and it was) and he eats parking lot snow.  *sigh*

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dinosaurs: Marvels of God's Design: Review

As a homeschool mom (or even a Christian parent), it is a struggle to teach dinosaurs from a Creationist worldview.  Our boys, especially, devour any thing dinos and you just can’t find enough of a variety of resources with that slant. So eventually their little brains end up playing a game of dino ping pong going from God created the Earth in six days to “millions of years ago”…  So to be able to try out a new Creationist paleontology book was exciting!  Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design by Dr. Tim Clarey arrived in our mail box to review and I was excited!
  One of my pet peeves is people not being able to explain why they believe what they believe.  I know that I don’t have as firm of a grasp on that as I need to as far as Creationism goes, and I want to make sure the kiddos don’t have that problem (and I won’t from here on out for that matter). We are an “old rocks” type of family.  Hubby is an archaeologist and gets asked about digging up fossils all the time.  Even though fossils are paleontology and archaeology is the study of ancient peoples and their artifacts the two disciplines run nicely together because both professionals are bound to come across artifacts from the other profession since it all is found in the dirt.  Hubby has brought home many interesting fossils over the years while he was out doing archaeology survey.  So our lives not only revolve around things found in the dirt, we are constantly confronted with the old earth theory.
A fossil and a piece of coal Hubby found on survey
   This book was not just about Creationism, but a good introduction into dinosaurs in general.  Dr. Clarey dissects all parts of paleontology laying the groundwork for the reader.  So along the way the student learns about classifications, plate tectonics, fossilization, etc… He also addresses many common topics with mainstream paleontology and how they can be explained, and not just with simple explanations either, nice detailed ones that give you and your family the foundation you need to reinforce your stance on Creation.
  An added bonus for us was a nice sized section on Barnum Brown and Charles Sternberg.  Barnum Brown was born just 12 miles from us and Charles Sternberg is also a Kansan.  It was wonderful to see these familiar names pop up in our reading!  It was also fascinating to learn of the bone wars and how that affected how some of the dinosaurs were presented to the world. 
  The thing I loved about this book is not just the glut of information (and it is filled to the brim with that!) but the pictures! Tons and tons of pictures!  Some from digs the author has been a part of.  This book is great for not just older readers, but younger ones as well.  Dr. Clarey uses easy to read language, but technical enough for those know-it-all readers (like someone I live with). 
  One thing I wish this book had was a good ol’ suggested reading list beyond the books that are put out by Master Books.  Books with good sourcing for the young earth viewpoints are hard to come by and it would have been a valuable addition for young (and old researchers).   Some of the ones on our bookshelf include: What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs by John Morris and Ken Ham; Chronicles of Dinosauria: The History & Mystery of Dinosaurs and Man by Dave Woetzel; Dragons or Dinosaurs: Creation or Evolution by Darek Isaacs; and Dragons: Legends and Lore of Dinosaurs by Master Books.
   Overall this is a book I would highly recommend for including in your home library.  It is a resource that would be excellent to refer to time and time again.
  Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for giving me a chance to review this.  All opinions in this blog are my own. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Field Trip: Museum of the Great Plains

  We reached our primary destination near the Wichita Mountains.  Hubby and I were going to be deeply entrenched in research so we had a variety of trips for the family to go and visit.  It turns out we only needed one ;)   The Museum of the Great Plains was not open when we had visited this area a couple of months ago, and it had actually just re-opened after renovations just a couple of weeks prior to this trip, so we were among the first to experience all that it had to offer. 
  All I can say is wow!  Now, that's me speaking as one who did not set foot in the museum galleries.  The kids spent approximately 8 hours over two days in the museum and really only stopped when they had to eat something.  They went on and on in the evenings about all the activities they did, what they saw, and what they wanted to do again.
   From the printing press...
printing press
where they could make signs for the mock town that was set up for them.  The town featured actual historical figures from the area and told their stories.
The kids with one of their store signs

Each area had a docent which was on hand to assist the kiddos and give them more details.

Shorty getting some help with a wind tunnel from one of the docents
One of the areas they went back to several times was the buffalo that you could dissect.  Shorty dubbed him "Buffy" and gave him a hug before they left :)
The kids removing Buffy's organs
They even had fun things like a huge LiteBrite...
I could go on and on about the animatronic dinosaurs to the tornado shelter that made you feel like you were going through a tornadic storm.  I. am. jealous.  I have resolved to go into the museum the next time we're down south.
  I asked the kids which they liked better, this museum or the Illinois State Museum which we visited earlier this year and is the closest in comparison for hands on learning.  They refused to choose, but they did say that this one was way more hands on. 
  Just as a comparison, our local history museum (the Kansas State Historical Museum) charges $6 per child, and the Museum of the Great Plains charges $8, the Illinois State Museum was free.  All do fantastic jobs of telling the story of their state and areas.  All have a majority of permanent exhibits.  The Illinois State Museum and the Kansas Historical Museum have some age to their exhibits, the Kansas one being the older.  The big difference between these museums and why the Kansas Museum doesn't even come close is the interaction.  The other two make you an active participant in history all through your museum experience.  Want to make what most consider to be the most boring subject in school come alive to a child?  Have them feel it! Draw them in to the story, don't just tell them it.  My most favorite teacher in school was my junior high history teacher, and I give him a huge credit for my love of history.  He would "preach" history to us and give us a "hallelujah" when we gave him the right answer.  He would take one of the students, lay him on a table and reenact Meso-American Indian sacrifices (this happened one time when a group of Kindergarteners was walking by our classroom door - you should have seen their eyes get big! But I digress...).   I am so thankful for museums like the Museum of the Great Plains.  We'll end up there again, and it might be hard for the kids to branch out to the other sights in the area now ;)