Canyonlands National Park

August 13th, 2018

canyonlands-national-park

When our family arrived at the top of one of the overlooks at Canyonlands National Park in Utah, we could see an immense canyon with bizarre red outcroppings jutting out of the ground. The summer heat penetrated our skin as we took in the beautiful panorama.

canyonlands

Canyonlands is a desert area, with flat-topped outcroppings that are striped with layers of sedimentary rock. The layers in the distance look purple and blue, making me want to paint the scene with oil paints on canvas. Or maybe a watercolor would bring out the soft hues in the rocks. I didn’t have any art supplies on hand, but we snapped over a hundred pictures. These were my favorites:

canyon

If you ever wondered what a butte looked like, here is a gorgeous picture of one. It seems strange that erosion wouldn’t have flattened the structure by now, since the surrounding area is so much lower. It looks unreal.

canyonlands-tops

This is an area known as “The Needles,” because the rocks jut up in needle-like structures, standing up like an army in the middle of an empty battlefield.

canyon-edge

The edge of the cliff reminds me of cartoons of Wile E Coyote, who chased Roadrunner through deserts like this, only to find himself falling off the cliff–often with an anvil rather than a parachute.

I liked how the tree grew near the edge, allowing people to sit in the shade to enjoy the view.

sitting-on-rock

Here I am sitting on a rock in the sun, from a different vantage point. (I would be paying for it later through a bright red suntan.) I slid the red dirt between my fingers and marveled at how different it was from the stark white sand we saw at White Sands National Park earlier in the week.

canyon-alan

My husband Alan is pictured here in front of a super interesting formation called “Island in the Sky.” From up above in a helicopter, you would see a blob like an amoeba carved into the ground like a ginormous cookie cutter. A river runs through the area.

canyonlands-tree

Gnarly trees like this one grow in this desert area, giving a small amount of shade from the intense heat.

canyonlands-plants

Most of the plants are lower to the ground, and they are sparser the further down the canyon you go–except for the river area, where you will find strips of green along the water.

canyon-view

You’ve really got to see this in person to get the full magnitude of the giant-ness of everything. Looking down from different angles at the beautiful rock formations is truly a breathtaking experience!

Making Sand Angels (White Sands National Park)

August 6th, 2018

making-sand-angels

I laughed when I saw my son making sand angels when we visited White Sands National Park in New Mexico. We were on our way to Canyonlands National Park, so we only spent about an hour playing in the sand, which was ultra fine and starkly white.

We took off our shoes and left footprints in the sand. The wind made ripples that made the sand look other-worldly. I felt like I was walking on the moon.

footprints-in-white-sand

My oldest son lay down and flapped his arms up and down in the sand to create a sand angel. He must have felt like the white sand resembled snow. Apparently the sand is made of white gypsum. This national park is the largest deposit of gypsum sand in the world.

sand-angel

Not very much grows in this sand; it’s kind of like a desert. In fact, there are lizards and other desert animals hiding in the dry shrubs.

white-sands-park

It definitely looks like another world. It’s silent except for the wind blowing on the sand.

white-sands-couple

Here’s a picture with my husband at White Sands National Park.

grass-tuft-in-white-sand

Here is a weird shrub on an outcropping. It looks like an enormous chia pet.

white-sand

You can see how bizzare this place looks. Its unusual white sand makes it a unique place to visit, and my kids loved it!

High School Career Exploration

June 26th, 2018

high-school-career-exploration

I wish I had acquired this high school Career Exploration curriculum sooner, since my oldest son is going to college in the fall and isn’t sure what career he wants to pursue. We have been talking about what he wants to do with his life for quite a while, but it wasn’t until we came across this curriculum that we narrowed it down. Since this is the exact curriculum I wanted (yay!), I received the bundle from 7 Sisters Homeschool at no cost, became an affiliate, and agreed to do a review for compensation.

I recommend using this curriculum way earlier in your teen’s schooling so that you have plenty of time to fully explore careers. My 13-year-old and 15-year-old will be able to think about apprenticeships and interviewing adults in different careers to figure out what they truly would be good at. By the time they graduate high school, they will be in a better position than my oldest son.

My second son, who is currently 16, has always wanted to be a microbiologist. He knew when he was 10 years old, and he is now off to college, too. It’s great when kids know exactly what they want to be. But even then, it would be nice to take a field trip to a lab where he can see microbiologists at work, if possible. Interviewing scientists who are doing what he loves will give him the understanding of whether he will have to work long hours, or if there are any other interesting facts about the job.

exploring-careers-for-teens

My own personal career journey

When I was in college, I wanted to become a teacher, so I took a job as a teacher’s assistant while I was still in college to see if I really liked it. It seemed like disciplinary issues were a constant part of each day, so I had to re-assess whether I truly wanted to be a teacher. It seemed like I would have to be a militant leader in order to cope as a teacher and not get run over by the back-talk of the middle school students I was teaching. I would not have known what the job was really like had I not taken a peek at the inside of the career.

There is nothing worse than preparing for a career that you later find out you hate. This is especially true if you spent tens of thousands of dollars earning that degree at a university. Way better would be to know a variety of jobs that you would be good at, and figure out what kind of training you need to become certified for those jobs. Many trade schools are shorter than a 4-year college and pay just as much (or more) than a career that requires a degree. All you need to do is investigate, and this {aff} Career Exploration high school curriculum was just the thing to help us do that.

Career Exploration: What is Included in the Curriculum

The Career Exploration curriculum includes ten packets: Step by Step Through Career Exploration, Career Exploration Questionnaire, Career Exploration Workbook, Successful Experiential Resume Writing, Successful Cover Letters, Introductory Interview Skills for Teens, Writing Your Own Personal Mission Statement, Career Exploration in the Bible, Collected Posts on Career Exploration, and Collected Posts on Financial Literacy.

career-exploration-7-sisters

I’ve read through the entire ten packets, and I was impressed at the amount of useful information this bundle contained for teens to explore what careers might be of interest to them. I will highlight a few of the packets:

Career Exploration Workbook

This workbook contains seven chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of finding a career. The students can fill in the workbook, answering each question to know themselves better. The checklists are especially helpful in finding out broad areas of interest. The teen can circle occupations that seem interesting and cross out other careers.

Interviewing people who know the teen well can help to uncover more strengths that maybe your teen was unaware of until now. Apprenticeship opportunities can emerge as your teen talks to people from different occupations. I personally love to do this by inviting families from church over for dinner. Your teen can ask the occupation of the guests, and whether they love what they do.

list-of-careers

Career Exploration in the Bible

I’m intrigued by the idea that God designs each of our children with the experiences they need to become the person they were meant to be. This short packet highlights three characters from Scripture, showing how their childhood and teen years prepared them for their future career. This packet spurred some interesting conversations with my teens, and I wondered in my heart what fun things God has done in the upbringing of my children to make them who they are today.

For example, my oldest son has always had a philosophical mind, asking spiritual questions even as a preschooler. The depth of knowledge he has of God’s Word is perfect to prepare him to be a pastor, if he chooses that occupation. He has also enjoyed drawing, especially symmetrical drawings on graph paper. The fact that he is a natural artist could indicate that he would be a good architect. As his mom, I pondered what other experiences he has had that has made him the man he is today.

Introductory Interview Skills for Teens

Both my older teens have been in a process of interviewing for jobs this summer, so this packet was particularly useful. When my teens prepared for the most commonly asked questions, they felt more at ease in their interviews. My kids made up a fun skit for what NOT to do in an interview:

A Personal Word about the 7 Sisters

I’ve met several of the women from 7 Sisters Homeschool in person at a blogging conference a couple of years ago, and they are the real deal. I love them! Their homeschool high school curriculum is no busywork – no overkill. Your teens can build character and critical thinking skills while learning. And the women who wrote this curriculum are veteran homeschool moms who know what they are doing. Here are their links, if you would like to follow their blog and social media, especially if you have teens:

For what’s included in this Career Exploration bundle, the price seems unbelievably low. If you have teens, I encourage you to click over there and grab this bundle to direct your teens to a career that they will actually enjoy. If you yourself or your spouse is in a career that you hate, you know how important it is to explore careers before deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life. And yes, you as a parent can fill in your own workbook if you yourself would like a change in careers!

How to Make an Ice-Cream Cone Cake

June 4th, 2018

ice-cream-cone-cake

My daughter wanted an ice-cream cone cake for her picnic-themed birthday party. To make an ice-cream cone cake is quite simple. First you bake two cakes. The first one will be divided into two circle tins. These will be the ice-cream scoops. The other cake will be baked in a rectangular tin. You will cut that second cake into a triangle the shape of an ice-cream cone.

Make sure that after you bake the cakes, you cover them with plastic wrap and put them in your refrigerator. It’s much easier to cut and shape cold cake. Grab a piece of cardboard and cover it in foil. You may need to tape together (with packing tape or duct tape) two pieces of cardboard to make it long enough for the ice-cream cone.

After placing the cakes on the foil, make sure that the scoops look like the picture above. You will have to carve an arc in the top circle before placing it on the foil, and cut a straight section off the bottom scoop.

Frost the “cone” part of the cake with chocolate frosting. Divide a bucket of vanilla frosting into two bowls. Tint one of them pink for the top ice-cream scoop. The bottom one will be vanilla, so leave it white. Shake sprinkles over top of the ice-cream scoops.

ice-cream-cone-pinata

If you have an ice-cream themed birthday, you can buy a piñata in the shape of an ice-cream cone. My daughter was overjoyed to find this at a party supply store. Hobby Lobby and Walmart also have piñatas, if you don’t have a party store in your town.

picnic-themed-tea-party

My daughter wanted a craft for her picnic-themed birthday party, so we decorated straw hats by hot gluing silk flowers to them. We set out a tea party in the backyard, and the girls enjoyed their scones and other treats after their craft and piñata.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial on how to make an ice cream cone cake for a picnic-themed birthday party!

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