Category Archives: Field Trips & Travel

New Day

We got up early and before it was light we headed out to the edge.   

We marched forward in the darkness, walking from hard dirt to shifting sand until we could not go any farther.

We had to stop.  We were created with specific strengths and limits and we had to stop and recognize our habitat ends at this line.  Who set this boundary?  Who drew this line in the sand?

In the darkness one might miss the clarity of this line.  But if your ears are open, then it is unmistakable that even in the dark there was a change in our path.  The roar of the water is mighty.  It’s song drowns out the sound of the city and the night.  It deafens the sound of motors and all other man-made creations. Someone incredible put this line here and gave it a mighty sound so even in darkness it was unmistakable.

It clearly defines the boundary below our feet.  There are no more roads, no cars, no buildings, no houses, no people, not even trees, no…this line of roaring waters defines a boundary line.

The sky was beginning to shine forth with light separating the day from the night.  Standing in one place looking to the east we saw the new day and to the west we still saw the night.  We were standing at a boundary line between domains of powerful waters and land, but also between times, between day and night.

The reality of this moment is surreal and amazing!  It is encouraging and we waited patiently for the light.

It climbed slowly and steadily.

The waters kept roaring.  Their pace was rhythmic and never changing.

The rhythm seemed as if it were trying to lure me to sleep, back and forth, back and forth.

But all my senses were awake.  I could smell the energy in the air, I could agree with the rhythm with each breath I took.  I could feel the steady pace of life just like my own heart beating.  I could taste the salty air as it passed my tongue and as it filled my lungs it electrified and recharged my body.

There is life in this rhythm.  It churns up oxygen and minerals that bubbles and froths and is teaming with new life.

Even the birds were excited.  They instinctively know the ebb and flow of the water brings abundance into their life and they find nourishment.

It bears witness to the Creator.

The living God.  There is none like him.  He is the provider.  He is the daily bread of heaven.  He is the water of life.   All those who come to him will be saved and will never thirst for eternity.

We met many others on the journey to the water’s edge.  They come to enjoy the inspiring moments of a new day as it dawns.

The light transforms our view.  It bounces all around before the sun even appears over the horizon.

Everything takes on a new vibrancy. Colors seem to pop! Details previously unseen suddenly overwhelm the senses and there is a new awareness.

The birds are very excited.  The growing light points out the location of their next meal.  They dance in the air above the waves in anticipation, expecting provision.  They do not worry.  Then when there is just enough light, they quickly dive into the water and select their free gifts for the day.

I am dancing too.  On the edge.  On the line.  In the moment I become part of the the rhythm and I dance and wait.

My feet are wet.  My toes tingle.  My nose is full of sweet salty air that energizes my breaths and my beating heart.  My eyes are drawn to the dawning light and I wait.

My spirit is encouraged.

I wait. I know it will be here soon.

My Father in Heaven set this plan in motion.

I can rejoice and dance as carefree as a little child.

I feel alive.  I trust my Father’s plan and provision completely.  He drew this line.  He put this boundary here.  I trust him.

The waves rise and fall and rise again, washing the shore.  The rhythm is a song in my heart and mind.  It reminds me there is a plan, it is not random.

He sent his only begotten son to redeem me, heal me, and wash me clean. My robe is washed by the lamb, Jesus, my savior.  God sent his son to redeem all those who would believe and call upon him.

It is a new day, a day the Lord God has made.

Sing about his goodness, I will sing about his provision for my needs.  I will tell the world about his love and his mercy.  I will praise his name forever.

In him only will I place my trust.  His plan is perfect.  His plan is in motion.  I will trust him with my life and my eternal home.

I will rejoice and be glad.

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Sunset At The Beach

Have you ever watched the setting of the sun at the beach?

It is such a beautiful site.

We spent a November evening on a North Carolina beach watching the sun go down.

The Fall air was cool and crisp, but we didn’t let that hinder our joy.

There is something very special and exciting about being at the water’s edge.

The colors in the sky were beautiful!

The smell of the ocean and the sensation of breathing in the salty air is a completely different experience than our day to day experience.  If feels energizing, like it is renewing something inside the body and the mind.

I could watch the ocean and sky for hours and never get tired of the view.

The sand feels amazing and was cool to the touch.  We collected some seashells along the beach.

We saw a flock of pelicans flying above us.

Even though it was chilly, we decided to get our feet wet.

We tried to catch the waves coming into the shore.

The waves and the pull of the under tow current were quite powerful and knocked us off our feet several times.

One fella didn’t want to get wet.  He said it was too cold.

But the rest of the group was eager to get wet from head to toe even though we only agreed to get our “feet” wet.

Even though the water was cold and the current was strong, I enjoyed getting my feet in the water too.  The waves kept a constant rhythm with perfect timing.

It felt so peaceful.

We enjoyed an evening walk on the beach and walked to a fishing peer not far from where we played.

The sun set was stunning behind the peer.

It gave the appearance of a glowing fire off in the distance.

The fishing peer went out so far and then was blocked at the end.  It seemed as if the peer would have gone further, but perhaps had been lost in a storm.

Even though a major hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, had come through days earlier,  the rest of the peer was still in good standing and many folks were using it for fishing and enjoying the evening.

I loved the contrast of the peer and the evening sky and ocean waves.

You could sense the determination of this peer to withstand whatever the elements of nature could beat it with.

The structure seemed to rebel against the constant waves, the salty air, and the gusts of wind.

The setting sun was gorgeous!  It peered through the dark clouds sandwiched between the sky and the water.

This experience reminds us of what it might of been like at the beginning. The bible talks about the beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:1-10

Looking away from the sun, in the opposite direction, the sky and the water seemed to be a reflection of each other, a matching blue that seemed to go on forever.

But looking towards the sunset, the colors were vibrant and seemed layered like a rainbow that had been deconstructed.


Sitting above the waves, felts as if we were sitting on them.   Resting on the benches of the peer was a special experience. 

The peer puts you out on the water, away from the shore.

Though you are sitting still, everything around you is in motion and has a rhythm of it’s own.  Everything is moving with a beat, the water, the sky, the salty air on your face, and the sound it all makes has a nourishing rhythm that feeds the soul.

All your senses are enhanced and focused on the beat, the soothing sound of the moving water and the amazing colors of the sky.


After we watched the sun set, we walked up the beach a little bit further for some food.  Later we came back outside to watch the beach in the darkness.

We sat on the steps of a small gazebo looking out over the water.  It was so peaceful.

A long way out, there was a small twinkle of light from ships on the water. 

We could also see the lights of the fishing peer reflect on the water.

But otherwise, we could no longer depend on our eyes to understand our environment.  We could not see the sky, and we could not see the water, we could only sense they were still there in the darkness.

Instead of using our eyes, we tuned our ears to the sounds of the night.  All we could hear was the familiar sound of the waves hitting the beach in a soothing rhythm.  It was peaceful.

The older kids and I wanted to stay outside all night, but the younger kids and daddy were getting sleepy, so it was time to head inside.  Bedtime seemed to come too quickly, yet we welcomed the end of this day feeling relaxed and renewed.

We definitely want to experience the sun setting on the beach again soon.

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Creation Museum, A Visit Back In Time

My family had a great time when we took a trip back in time and visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

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The Creation Museum experience is like walking through biblical history. It is a great experience for both kids and adults.  It covers the 6 days of creation, plus many more historical people’s lives from the bible like Noah, Paul, Jesus, etc. and the history comes to life in a hands on way at the museum.  There are life size exhibits and a planetarium too.  Visiting the museum was one of the best decisions we have made for teaching our family about who God is and his amazing creation called earth and the animals and people.  Seeing the bible come to life right before your eyes is an amazing experience and it strengthened our faith.

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To plan our trip, we watched for a discounted ticket opportunity and went when they ran a special for children ages 12 and under to get in free with the paid admission ticket of an adult.  It was a great savings.   So we loaded up the family and took a road trip to Kentucky.  The museum is about an hour and a half drive South from where we used to live in Richmond, IN (and only 7 hours north of where we used to live in NC).  The drive through Indiana’s mini-mountains in South-eastern Indiana is absolutely beautiful! It was even more beautiful as we sang praise songs and listened to Nest Family Audio Bible stories all the way there and was a great way to travel as it keeps the kids attention and they learn so much.

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Besides the beautiful scenery, there are some fun places to stop and visit along the way including two reservoir lakes and several historical towns.  There is the Whitewater Reservoir, and also a much larger reservoir called Brookville Lake. The towns of Brookville and Liberty Indiana remind me so much of the historical town of Hendersonville, NC and are set up beautifully for tourists.  There are lots of little shops to see and great history to explore in these small towns with beautiful historic courthouses too.  We also crossed the huge Ohio river, that borders three states and with breath taking views.  The river is huge and divides southern Indiana from southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.  You can clearly see God’s handiwork in creation when you look at the changing landscape and the river. It is all designed beautifully.

The kids were so excited to get there.  You know how it goes: “Are we there yet?  When will be there?  I got to go to the bathroom!  I wish we were there!  Do you know how to get there?  How much longer?  Are we there yet?”  Ha! Ha!  You just got to love traveling with kids!

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At the museum, there is a large 70,000 square foot building with a huge bronze dinosaur outside, surrounded by beautiful gardens and landscape, ponds, wooden bridges,  wrought iron and stone fences, and a tall fort with a zip line that crosses the entire museum grounds.  It is a very family friendly place.  The zip line costs extra and we did not buy a ticket for it on this day.  But someday we hope to be able to take the zip-line and explore the museum gardens from the tree tops as it looks like a lot of fun.

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The first thing we did was snap a picture with the dinosaur outside.  It had just rained and suddenly the sun was shinning really bright and we couldn’t hardly see at all.  It is funny how sometimes light can get so bright that your eyes cannot focus your eyes.  But once we got inside the museum, the lighting was perfect and there was so much to see.

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Archaeology is just one of their specialties at the museum, and they have lots of artifacts from biblical times. They have lots of fossils and a life size example of just about every kind of dinosaur.

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They have a replica of earth from the beginning, separating layers of the heavens, creating the stars, day and night, the Garden of Eden, the creation of Adam, and animals, and Eve.

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There is so much detail put into this museum that I bet you could go a hundred times and see something new each time that you didn’t notice before.  Actually they expect that you will need more time to see it all, and when you buy a ticket it is good for admission for two days in a row. Many visitors stay overnight nearby and come back the following day to explore some more.

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The museum is a combination of exhibits about science, history, astronomy, engineering, chemistry, Hebrew culture, our Christian roots, and so much more all rolled into one experience.

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Each room of exploration leads you into the next phase of creation and history designed by an amazing God who loves us and his handiwork is so obvious. Nothing is by chance! Everything was authored by our creator.

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This is such a fun way to walk through history!

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If you remember the story of creation, there is a tree that Adam was instructed to never eat from called the Tree Of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

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There is a deceptive serpent hiding in the garden who convinces Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

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Eve tells Adam and he also believes the serpent’s lies and eats of the fruit, even though God had specifically told them not to eat of the fruit of this tree.

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Evil becomes the ruler of the earth through Adam and Eve’s sin against God.

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They disobeyed God, and once they realized what they had done, they tried to hide their sin from God.  But God called them out on what they had done, and he forced them to leave the Garden of Eden.  From that point forward mankind must make a blood sacrifice to ask God for forgiveness of sin in their life.

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From this point forward, life becomes a struggle to survive. Later in the museum we return to the issue of man’s separation from God, and that he sent his son Jesus to reconcile us back to God through his own sacrifice. From that point forward, man no longer needs to offer a blood sacrifice for his sin because God sent his son Jesus who paid the price for us all who will believe in him and ask for forgiveness.

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As the world becomes populated, people and fallen angels do evil and wicked things.  God tells one righteous man, a prophet named Noah, his plan to flood the earth and wipe out wickedness.  He instructs Noah to build a large boat called an ark and preach to the thousands of people who will listen to board this boat to survive.  But everyone mocks Noah and won’t listen to him.  God instructs Noah to bring his family (including his wife, three sons and their three wives) and also 2 of every unclean animal, and 7 of every clean animal,  plus supplies, and to board the boat.

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Noah obeyed God and does all that he was instructed to do.

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After the ark is completed, Noah and his family board the boat with the animals and God shuts the door.  It rains for 40 days and 40 nights and floods the whole earth.  It takes almost a year for the water to recede.  Eventually the boat comes to rest on Mount Ararat.   Later one of the birds Noah sends out brings back a branch with a leaf and Noah knows that is safe to release the animals and his family from the ark.

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The museum has a lifesize interactive display of Noah and the ark.  You can hear the men talking and see them working as they build the ark.   The museum also owns a bible based theme park about an hour down the road from the museum.  They are building several life size recreations from the bible for the theme park.  One of those is called The Ark Encounter and it includes a life size ark, another museum and restaurant inside the ark, and a zoo.  We went to see it while it was under construction, and we plan to make trip soon now that it is open to the public.

Check out this short video we made of the awesome dinosaurs we saw!  The kids really enjoyed this entire trip and the highlight for them was seeing the dinosaurs.

And if you get hungry during your visit, the museum offers a jungle cafe to eat in and there are many picnic spots outside around the gardens and ponds.

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I encourage every family I meet to put this wonderful adventure on their to do list.  It is definitely worth the trip!

Be blessed!

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Field Trip To Jimmy Johns

Jimmy John’s Field Trip

We set out to find out if Jimmy Johns was as good or better than Subway or other sandwich shops we have tried.  Was it as good as everyone says?  How does a restaurant like this become so successful?

Our stop at Jimmy Johns was a new experience for us.  The shop has a fun atmosphere and special names for every submarine sandwich.

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For example, one sandwich is called The Gut Buster.  The sandwiches have a fixed description, and that is what is in the sandwich.  You don’t really customize them, but you can add additional meat.  This is the real secret to how fast you are served, no one is standing around deciding what fixings are going in their sandwich.  Instead you choose the sandwich design from the menu that best fits your taste buds.

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We let the children choose their sandwich, and choice of chips, and we all had waters to drink. The bread is very soft and fresh.

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The room is decorated with signs on the walls with words of wisdom for life.  My older boys laughed all the way through the meal while reading these signs.

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For example, one sign was titled Rules of Life I have learned, and here are two of them “Under any circumstance, never take a sleeping pill and a laxative before going to bed” and many more that my kids laughed the whole way through the meal reading.  They had funny signs and there was probably about 20 different signs posted around the room.

Jimmy Johns

Field Trip: New restrurant experience. We took a trip to Ohio and stopped at a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop because we had never been before.

There were pamphlets on the wall encouraging those who would like to open a franchise to fill it out and contact Jimmy Johns.  The kids decided we would pretend to open our own Jimmy Johns shop when we got back home.  I will share more about this in a future post.

This field trip was a fun learning experience and the food tasted delicious.  The kids got to figure out what all the hype was about and connected the dots from the funny videos they watched on youtube.

Once we got home, we looked up more information about opening a sandwich shop and the kids learned about opening a franchise, customer service, creating the ultimate sandwich, etc. We made our own versions of sub sandwiches.  We researched Jimmy Johns specifically and found out lots of interesting facts.  He has his own race team.  The first Jimmy Johns was started in 1985 with a $25,000 loan.  Now he own restaurants in 49 states across the country.

We are thankful we live in America where people can work hard and reach their goals. The kids are even more excited about what the future hold and are looking forward to our next great adventure!

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Sticky Situations


Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself in a sticky situation.  With six kids, “sticky situations” are the norm at our house. 



I just entered the STICKY SITUATIONS CONTEST by Wet Ones and Mom Central going on right now through December 28th.  They are asking moms to share tips on how they handle sticky situations with their kids.

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You can  Enter The Contest and submit your ideas for a chance to be featured in an e-book that will be distributed by Wet Ones in 2013.  Several prizes are being offered, including a chance to win an iPad Mini, and tickets to Six Flags amusement theme park.  It is real simple to enter, and only takes a minute to fill out their form and submit a picture if you have one.  I entered the contest and I hope you will too.   Please vote for us too.  


OUR STICKY BUSINESS

Below are a few pictures of the sticky situations we have found ourselves in.  I thought it might be fun to share some of our family’s sticky business with you.



Whether we are at home or on the go, life can be sticky!   I find us in all sorts of sticky situations at the park, field trips, when visiting friends houses, playing at the lake, eating out, while shopping, trips to the zoo, traveling in the car, and anywhere and everywhere we go, our life is filled with icky and sticky situations.



I am so blessed to have all of these little hands and feet to clean.  I wouldn’t trade it for a minute.  They have an inquisitive way of finding the dirtiest, messiest, ickiest, and stickiest places to investigate.



Learning moment by moment, each new experience brings a deeper desire to know more.  Creatures of all shapes and sizes are held tenderly, snuggled close, and played with.  No matter how horrified mom might be at the sight.



  

Touching brings new understanding of the world around us.  It also brings exposure to more than a few “germs” and toxins.  Some exposure to these germs is important in helping us build a strong immune system, but many are not and we need to wipe the dirt and grime away or wash off when we are through.  Soap and water are not always available, so I reach for the wipes to do the clean up.

  

And when it comes to eating, my kids seem to think food somehow tastes better when you can wear some of it too.  I am so excited though to see them on their “first” of trying something new.  Like when my baby tried his first taste of ice cream, and a few months later, his first taste of cake too.
 

I just accept that eating is a sticky business when you are young.  So I plan ahead and keep a stash of wipes with me to clean up after eating.

 

I am constantly reaching for the wipes to clean up the sticky mess before it spreads like a wild fire to other, not so easy to clean, places.

 


Handy Tips:

Let the kids get sticky, icky, grimy, and messy as they explore and learn about the world around them.  But keep a stash of wipes handy at ALL times!

        1.  I keep wipes in my purse for wiping off unexpected buggers and snot that 
             needs cleaned up before going into a store.
        2.  I keep wipes in my purse to wipe off the handel bar of a shopping cart, and 
             to wipe the kids off after they have touched the check out counter at the store.
 
The kids are better off after having a great “sticky situation” and
 “hands on” learning experience.



Disclaimer:  I participated in a Wet Ones campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting. I received a promotional item in exchange for participating.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

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Window View


A journey. A destination.  A moment in time.  The view from my window reveals hope.

It was raining.  Smoky clouds hovered low, just above the valleys and ridges of the mountains.  The journey was darkened.  The mood was darkened.

The road was busy with travelers going somewhere.  We were headed somewhere.  I was headed somewhere.




Rain, but not to much.  But still, it dampened my hope of watching the sunrise and enjoying the views on the journey.  I longed to point out the amazing sites to my husband and children as we traveled.  I hoped they would enjoy the journey too.

Round and round and up and down the road travels through the mountains and valleys.  Seconds go by, minutes go by, hours go by.  Precious moments on the journey.  But rain and clouds cause the journey to be darkened.  Speed as we travel causes the view to be blurred.

The journey is like life.  Somedays are cloudy.  Somedays have rain.  Some days the view is hard to appreciate.  Somedays I see clearly.  Somedays I rejoice.

The journey forges ahead.  Where are we headed?  Where does this road take us to?  Are all these travelers headed to the same place?



Then the rain stopped.  The sky was a beautiful blue.  My view improved, and I could see a lot more of my surroundings.  The white pillowy clouds stood out in contrast to the blue sky.  Some clouds still hovered above the valleys, not wanting to give way to the sun.



Soon though it was bright as the rain faded and the day lit up the sky.  Mountains rose high above the valleys below.  We were able to enjoy the view for a time. 

Until we entered a dark tunnel.  The road goes through a tunnel.  The road goes through this mountain, not above it, or around it as it did before.  This time, we must go through.

Much like life.  It is bright and cheery until a crisis happens.  Until a life event happens.  Then you find yourself going through it, closed in, and unable to turn to the right or left.  Only forward or backward can you go.  But better not go backward, or you might crash as other travelers are going fast on the same road.  No, backward is not the right answer.  Forward is the way.  Forward through the scary dark moments to reach the other side.



Everything changes in the darkness.  Darkness distorts the eyes and the color of the day.  Who knows if it is night or day.  So deep in the base of the mountain, inside the earth, it is dark, and all knowing of day or night or seasons is removed. 



As you leave the tunnel, the light is much brighter than previously thought.  Coming out of the darkness and into the light is a major event.  It changes your perception. Yes, it is life changing.



Everything is magnificat.  Things you didn’t notice before, now seem special.  Things that once seemed important, now don’t seem that significant.

Life tastes sweeter as you advance on the journey.  Moments are precious, victories are memorable, life is valuable.

The huge sky above, and the huge river below speak of a special creator.  Intelligent in its form and design.  How did it come to be,  a sky and a river?



The tall mountain peeks that reach to the sky know who created them.  Why does man not understand what he sees? 



The gorges and valleys in between speak of an amazing creator who is interesting, tender, and kind.  Who could have created such balance and beauty?




Who is this creator?  Who engineered all of this to function in unison, in harmony with every element around it?  Who is this artist that used heaven and earth as his canvas?  Who could have created such a glorious place for us to dwell? 



The whole earth speaks of his glory.  The whole earth testifies of his majesty.
The one who owns a cattle on a thousand hills.  Jeshua.  Jehovah Jiirah.  The Alpha and Omega.  My provider.  My healer.  My comforter.  My deliverer.  My creator.



He travels with me on this journey.  He awaits my arrival at an appointed time that only he knows.  Until I get there, he travels each day, each place, each precious moment with me. 

He travels with all of us, on this journey, on this road of life.  He is along through the crisis and tunnels, through the mundane, and the victories.  He speaks to us through his marvelous creation.  He speaks to us through his word spoken to the prophets of yesterday and today.  He writes his word on our hearts. 

He awaits for us to accept him.  He awaits for us to accept his love.  If we reject him, the rocks and all creation will testify against us and will praise him in our place.  We were created for him.  We were created by him.  We were created to bring him glory in the place we dwell.  He asks us to accept him as our God, accept his son Jesus, and bring him glory with our life on this journey, so that others can know him too.

Here are some wonderful verses from God’s word for you to ponder as you look through the window and view the journey of your life. 

Be blessed.
Melinda




John 8:12


 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”



Acts 13:47


 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”



Acts 26:18


 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’




2 Corinthians 4:4


 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


1 Thessalonians 5:5


 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.


1 Peter 2:9


 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.


John 3:16


 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Luke 10:27


 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”





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Dan Nicholas Park



                                          Family Adventure During Christmas Break

I am still recovering from an emergency C section.  But six weeks being stuck in the house is all I can take.  The doctor told me not to drive, not to lift, and to have very limited activity for six weeks to allow my incisions to heal.  I am feeling stronger with each passing day, though severely sleep deprived with a newborn.  I have been out only a couple of times since our baby was born, and sitting inside all this time  is enough to drive me crazy!  

I really wanted to get out and see something special during the Christmas Break.  The company my husband works for shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Years Day, and it is so nice to have him home with us and spend extra quality time around these two holidays as a family.   

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to learn about natural science and history through hands on exploration of the world we live in.  This turns into fun family adventures exploring places all around us.  So yesterday, we went 0n a little day trip to explore the Charlotte, NC area with our children.  Let me tell you the truth: two and a half hours, one way, is a long drive with a van full of kids ages 6 weeks, 3 , 4, 6, 9, and 11.   Whew!  But we survived, we explored, we had fun, and the drive was worth it.

   

We drove to High Rock Lake in Salisbury, just east of Charlotte.   High Rock Lake is a 15,000 acre reservior of water located on the Yadkin River.  We just got a glimpse of the lake though, because we spent all of our time at an amazing place near the lake called Dan Nicholas Park. 

Dan Nicholas Park hosts accommodations that cover 450 acres.   What a family fun place to visit!   There is so much to see and do, you can easily spend a whole day or a whole week enjoying this place.   This is a great place to visit for a family, homeschool, field trips, and just  fun educational adventures!



Plan to spend at least several hours enjoying this family friendly place.   There is plenty of parking, paved walking paths, clean bathrooms, and concessions.  There is an 80 site camp ground that is open year around, if you want to plan to stay overnight or longer.  The camp ground has tent space, RV space, and cabins.  There are full accommodations and a nice lake to enjoy.  You can read here , and also read here about their campground.   
 
There are both “free” and “not free” things to do at this park.  If you want to do several things on your visit, you can buy a multi pass and save a few bucks too.  However, several things are seasonal, such as the train and carousel rides and the water plaza, so be sure to check with the park for dates and times. 



FREE Activity

Play on the playgrounds 









Trees to climb



Tennis Courts
Volley Ball courts
Nature Center 



Water Plaza (wading and fun spraying)
Picnic Areas


NOT FREE Activity

Petting Zoo $1
Train Ride $1
Carousel Ride $1
Fishing $1 for resident $2 for non-resident
Paddle Boats $
Miniature Golf $2
Gem Mine $7
Rowan Wildlife Adventures Zoo $0.50 for kids 10 and under, $1 for anyone over age 10
        At the zoo we enjoyed seeing and learning about 
        Eagles, Black Bears, Red Wolves, Bob Cats, White Tailed Deer, Raccoons, 
        Various species of  Hawks, Owls, Wild Turkeys, and more…









Several pictures I took at the zoo did not turn out.  I was carrying the baby, and taking pictures with one hand and holding the baby with the other, and several of my pictures blurred.  I won’t torture you with posting too many fuzzy pictures, but the experience was really nice anyway.  Also, the zoo encourages the public to come during feeding times and they offer special learning programs too.

Because of the winter season, some attractions were closed, and we did not have enough time to enjoy all the ones that were open.  Things we did at the park on this trip were: play on the playgrounds, climb trees, go for a walk, Wildlife Adventures Zoo,
and the Nature Center.

We spent a couple of hours enjoying Dan Nicholas Park and we will definitely plan a future trip to explore more.   We also plan to go back and explore High Rock Lake and several little towns around it.  

Lots more learning and family adventures await!


This post will be linked up with
 No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
ABC and 123













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Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

On a recent family outing, we went to the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, NC.  This is a free park with over 1300 acres to explore.  It has lots of nature trails, and is a natural setting to view a large variety of wildlife, plants, Mountain Island Lake, and the river.



Our kids had so much fun on this nature walk.  It has a paved path with beautiful mature trees, lots of under brush, and lots of wild life.



There was a nice variety of trees and many had already changed colors.  We quickly spotted oak trees, walnut trees, maple trees, and pine trees.  We plan to do a tree study soon so we can learn to spot other tree species too.

I found a plant I had never seen before, and plan to look this one up.  It had beautiful, unique, thick, bumpy, pink, outer shells the kind of resembled flowers, that opened to an orange smooth oblong shaped berry.  I am from the midwest (Kansas, and later Indiana) and this is not a plant I had ever seen before. 



I did not touch the plant just in case it was poisonous, but it was beautiful to observe.



There were lots of birds and plenty of squirrels.  The squirrels were feasting on walnuts, pine cone seeds, and acorns that literally covered the ground.



There were downed trees decomposing, and recycling themselves back into the earth.  There were lots of fallen leaves covering the ground too.  Signs of fall were all around us.

Then the path opened up to the water.  It was a beautiful view.



We strolled out onto a fishing dock. 



From this vantage point, you could see beautiful contrasts of the fall colors against the water and shoreline.



The clouds were amazing, and brewing up a fall rain storm.  It was a spectacular view.

 

Next, the children observed a variety of fresh water sea shells along the sandy shore.



They quickly started collecting as many shells as they could find.  They collected over a hundred shells and each put their find into a plastic bag to bring home. 

We plan to look at the shells closer at home, look at them under a microscope, wash them, draw them in our journals, perhaps use them in some other fun (math, art, and science) activities, and find out what animal had lived in them.  Homeschool adventures are so much fun!



Next, they got busy building.  At this point, I was tired from the walk.  I am eight and a half months pregnant, and running out of energy.  So I sat down at a picnic table to rest while I watched the kids play and explore some more.  The kids still had lots of energy.



They built mountains and lakes…



castles…



and motes.



We packed up to leave when the storm started to deliver rain.  We continued to explore several other sites nearby from our vehical despite the rain, and found many places we would like to go back and visit. 

It was a great day for discovering and playing in nature on this early fall day at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve .


This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Play Academy
The Handbook Of Nature Study
Raising Homemakers


Highhill Homeschool

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Kid Senses Museum – Part 2


This is the second installment of posts, in our visit to Kid Senses Science Museum in Rutherfordton, NC.  I took so many pictures of our visit, that I had to divide the story into two parts and I still don’t have room to share it all with you. 

You can read the first post here: Kid Senses Part 1

In these two posts, you can see the variety of programs and hands on science exploration they offer for children of all ages.   But to get the full experience, you just must stop in and visit this great children’s museum for yourself. 


Trains, Engineering, and Constructing



World Geography





Learning about design, efficiency, synchronization and more.



How the heart works.



These were PVC pipes on magnets and on a magnetic wall.  The kids made paths for a ball to travel.  There was also a magnetic wall of words for building poems and word configurations.

 

There is also a magnetic wall with shapes to build transportation vehicles or whatever you can imagine.



Learning about Forces, Energy, Movement, Momentum.




Learning about the forces in the environment.  This is a tornado machine.



Dental Hygiene

Be sure to brush your teeth.  Smile!



Healthy Foods Store



Learning about healthy food choices, “clean and green” household supplies, role playing, money, putting stuff away and matching its location, and more.



Making wise choices and there is so much to choose from.



How much does it weight?



The bakery with lots of selection of realistic foods.



Our helpful cashier helped us check out with money leftover!



There is an arts and crafts room with lots of supplies to choose from to make projects.  Just about any supply you could want is available.



There is a large octagon craft table in the middle of the room.



One half of the craft table is like a counter top, and one half is lighted.  This was so much fun to color and make things on.  It definitely added a new dimension to crafts.



We left the bigger boys to finish their more detailed crafts and the younger children and I went to explore another hands on learning room.



This was a wonderful room for younger children to explore with murals, imaginative play, reading spaces, and lots to do.



A pretend river to kyack on.



A forest of hiding places, climbing places, tunnels, slides, stairs, and loft.



ABC’s with carpet tiles in a tumbling river.



Places to read and hide…..



and so many places to explore.



The highlight of the day was definitely the Science Show.
This gal came out dressed in a lab coat and had the personality of Beakman from the Beakman’s World.  She was wacky, funny, and very good with kids.



She taught the kids about air currents, carbon dioxide, gravity, polymers, and static electricity with some really fun science experiments that made an exciting science show.



A static machine generated static electricity.  It lit up this light bulb.



It caused a stack of aluminum pie plates to pop off the stack one at a time and fly a short distance. It also generated a lighting bolt in the dark when another metal object was near it, but I didn’t get a good picture.



She did this neat experiment where she popped a balloon with a candle. 



Then she took another balloon and filled it part way with water and part with air. 



 This time the candle did not pop the balloon, but instead the water in the balloon absorbed the heat of the candle and prevented the balloon from popping.



How about water on your head in an upside down cup?   The cup contained  a small amount of polymer and absorbed the water, but the crowd didn’t know.  Oh… the suspense…



We learned so much more.  I don’t have the room here to display all the concepts she demonstrated with the children.  But she was terrific in making science fun.



We were able to visit a bit with our wacky science instructor and she said most of the kids who visit her refer to her as Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series.  She is definitely a very funny gal and works very well with children and adults. 




I highly recommend taking your children to this awesome hands on science museum.  They will surely meet some interesting people, and get to explore a huge variety of science and learning adventures.

All of this fun is available for $5 a person.  They have programs going on all the time and lots of special programs on Fridays and Saturdays too.  They also offer a special discount on Fridays after 3pm for $3 and stay open late.   Check out their website for more details.

Kids Senses
http://www.kidsenses.com


Check It Out!


This post will be linked up with
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers




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Fishing Trip

It was a gorgeous day fishing at the lake with Dad.



We loaded the van with a picnic lunch and drinks in a cooler, chairs, fishing poles, tackle boxes, and the stroller and headed to the lake for a relaxing afternoon.



Someday, when the kids are older, we want to take them fishing from a boat to access the best locations.  But for now, while they are little, we fish from the bank.



We do wish there were more options for public access for bank fishing.  Before coming to Lake Lure today, we also drove to Lake Adger.  But though they had public access for boats, they did not have public access for bank fishing.  We have found this same problem at a lot of lakes we have visited.  Most of the banks at the lakes are private property, so to get good access one really needs a boat. 

But at Lake Lure, there is a nice walking park with a cleared path, and the bank is mowed and kept nice, and they allow public access for bank fishing from there.



We chose a lovely spot to set up our gear.  It is an inlet channel and the water was less choppy compared to the larger lake area. 



All of the kids enjoy learning how to fish.  The older boys are learning how to bait their hook and they cast their poles very well.  The younger children still need almost everything done for them, though the six year old learned to cast his pole by himself today.   He was able to get it out about 12 feet or so in the water.  

The four year old would reel hers in just minutes after daddy would cast it out for her.  He said she needed it re-casted faster than he could keep up. 

The two year old played with a stick and a rope (his fishing pole).  But instead of casting the rope into the water, he hung onto the rope and cast his pole (stick) into the water.  Then he enjoyed reeling in his stick.  It was really funny to watch him, except for the two times he let go, and I had to go after the stick “pole” before it drifted to far out to sea! 



We brought three kinds of bait today (red worms, night crawlers, and cat fish bait), plus several artificial forms of bait in the tackle box too.

My 11 year old son is holding up a Canadian night crawler worm.  It looked like a small snake, and when I went to take the picture, it had already coiled itself back into less than half it’s length.  These worms are huge!



We actually did see a small water snake just after taking this picture.  It was about a foot long.  It swam right towards us as if to check us out.   It came within a few inches of the bank, then it turned and swam away.  The children squealed in delight to have seen a real snake so close to us today.



For the entire three hours we fished at the lake, the fish kept stealing our bait.  Cast after cast, we had to reload our hooks.  There was a huge amount of little baby fish in the water, that were two inches or less in length, and they acted like little piranha.  As soon as the hooks hit the water, they devored the bait, nibble after nibble.  We did get to see groups (schools) of 20 to 50 of these little bluegill fish near the shore when my son tossed in some chips into the water. 



It is amazing to observe so many amazing things on a mini-trip like we took today.  This is a great opportunity to talk to the kids about God’s creation, natural science, life skills, observations of the environment, and more. 



Besides a beautiful lake of water, there was so much more to observe, such as gorgeous mountains on all sides rising high above the lake, a beautiful sky with swirling white clouds, a hawk flying overhead, a blue heron swooping down to scout the water for food, a snake in the water, schools of baby bluegill fish, a dying fish floating on the water, bees pollinating flowers, wasps looking for a meal, ducks, geese, beautiful trees, people in boats of all kinds, people enjoying the lake fishing and swimming, a wedding next to the lake, a birthday party, ants, waves crashing to the shore, and more.

 

We decided to take a sample of the lake home so we can see under the microscope more things we could not see with our eyes today.  The microscope will give us the ability to see tiny creatures living in the water and tiny things in the sand.  We got a sample of just water, and a sample of water with sand.  We will use this in our studies this week to further our understanding about life in the lake.



About the last half hour, we were joined by several beautiful ducks.  Four stayed real close to us and another group of four were about another 20 feet away.



When I stepped away from the tackle boxes, the male duck came up out of the water and walked a complete circle around our belongings checking everything out.  Then he went back into the water and rejoined his group.  It was so funny.



Even with a toddler smacking the water with a stick, these littl
e ducks were determined to stay close by.  They came back repeatedly. 



We had quite the time with the little fish stealing our bait.  They ate the red worms, the night crawlers, and even the catfish bait.  Finally, the last 30 minutes or so, dad put on some artificial worms on the younger kids poles.  No more lost bait, but….no more bites either.  But he was tuckered out with re-loading their hooks every few minutes. 



I spent most of the time just enjoying watching my family.  They are funny, interesting, and a blessing.   I took this picture of them just before packing up to leave.   They all had such a good time fishing with Dad today.

The new life growing inside my womb will be here soon and join the line up of this beautiful family.  I truly am blessed!



The lake was so beautiful today, and even the sky was gorgeous.  I could have just layed back on a blanket and enjoyed many more hours of its beauty.



I truly enjoyed today, being in the company of my family and the awesomeness of God’s creation.




This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers




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