Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Horseback Riding in Spokane

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

true-west-trail-rides

My son has been wanting to go horseback riding ever since he took lessons when was three years old. Back then we were doing a themed unit study on horses, and ever since, he saw himself as a cowboy. He would wear cowboy boots around the house, and several birthday parties were themed around horses or Wild West shows. He even wrote a creative writing assignment set in the Wild West, culminating in a show-down with a villain set in a western town.

So when we had an opportunity to go horseback riding in Spokane for his 16th birthday, I finally booked it. When I told him, his face lit up. We had several months to look forward to it, and last Saturday we finally went. We had found True West Trail Rides on a web search, and the fact that the trail that we chose was by the Spokane River made it all the more lovely!

We filmed the experience for you to enjoy:

We met at an equestrian area at Riverside State Park. As soon as we arrived, we signed some papers, and the kids put on riding helmets. My husband and I opted to not wear riding helmets and signed papers accordingly. It was a beautiful sunny day. A nice breeze was blowing in the shade under the trees.

susan-on-horseback

It’s been a while since I’ve gone horseback riding. Back when I was a teacher at an American school in London, I was a chaperone on a pony trekking field trip in Wales. I remember riding a tall pony for three hours and nearly falling off when the horse jumped over a small river with no warning.

This time my horse was well-behaved, and I was even able to film with one hand. I was holding onto the reins and the pommel (the handle at the front of the saddle) with my left hand. Every once in a while during the hour-long ride, I would film for a few seconds and then put the video camera into my fanny pack around my waist.

horseback-riding-in-spokane

My kids enjoyed themselves and even had the horses trot every once in a while. We hiked on a trail through the forest, so we saw a lot of pine trees and other forest plants. We had to duck our heads several times to avoid running into branches. I could have avoided all branches by guiding my horse around them, but dork that I am, I was recording with one hand, so they snuck up on me.

Ducking branches reminded me about the biblical story of Absalom, King David’s son, being caught in a branch from riding a horse, and dying shortly thereafter. In all fairness, Absalom would not have died if someone had helped him down from the tree branch instead of a group of soldiers stabbing him because he was in the middle of a war. Thankfully I was not in a war. Like I said, it was a pleasant sunny day.

horseback-riding-spokane

We had the rare opportunity to see a buck with antlers! My husband took this picture on his phone, but you can see this same buck in our video footage above. It was hiding in the upper left hand area of the video. Perhaps it’s worth watching the video again to see this delightful sight. When I was recording it, I couldn’t see the buck through the forest. My husband was pointing, and I filmed in the direction of his pointing. I’m surprised I caught it on film!

deer-with-antlers

You can see in the video that we had an amazing view of the Spokane River. I filmed some of it and never took a picture because I decided to just enjoy it. I suppose I should have filmed more, since further down the river, it was an aqua color. It was beautiful! It would have been nice if I had caught this on film, but I’m also glad I was able to enjoy the moment.

horseback-ride-spokane

When we arrived back at the starting point, we got our picture taken as a family. Here we are, sitting on our horses after our one-hour trail ride:

six-people-on-horseback

We thoroughly enjoyed not only riding the horses, but the tour guide’s conversation, as well as the beautiful scenery surrounding the trail. Wherever you live, there are probably places you can go to ride horses. It’s a unique experience to have as family-bonding time. We loved it!

Related article: Cowboy Birthday Party

Scottish Highland Games in Spokane

Friday, July 12th, 2019

scottish-highland-games

Where else can you find the sound of bagpipes, the smell of highland cows, and the sight of tartan kilts wherever you look but the Scottish Highland Games in Spokane! It is a fun way to dive into the culture, music, clothing, and animals of Scotland. It’s a fascinating field trip for geography class, and you can experience many fun hands-on activities with your kids that can enhance family bonding. When my family first stepped into this Scottish environment, we heard the music of bagpipes and noticed a group of kilted people standing under a tree.

standing-around

Within the first hour of arriving, an event began where a large Scottish marching band of bagpipes stepped in rhythmic time to an interesting anthem that sounded other-worldly. After playing a few songs, the mayor of Spokane spoke on a stage, and people clapped. General merriment filled the air.

scottish-bagpipes

In a different part of the fair grounds, we saw a stage with Highland dancers competing for a prize. Various dancers (all wearing Scottish clothing), sometimes single or in groups, danced and were scored by judges sitting on the sidelines.

scottish-dancers

Scottish animals were penned off from the people. My favorite was the highland cow. It looks like a shaggy-haired beast from a Steven Spielberg movie. I remember back when I visited Scotland, I used to think these beasts were tame, but they are not. They are bulls and can gore you!

highland-cows

We also saw a group of sheep, a shepherd, and a sheep dog. These are highly trained dogs that can herd the sheep and move them around expertly from place to place.

shepherd-dog

Colorful tartan booths lined both sides of a grassy pathway. One of the booths had a really cool leather shield next to a sword. Kids clonked in sword fights nearby with toy swords and shields. The aroma of roasting meat emanated from the food booths as we walked past them.

scottish-shield

On the way out, we saw surprisingly ordinary-looking men throwing large, heavy burlap bags over a pole set high in the air.

scottish-game

Other men tried log throwing or a “caber toss,” which is basically throwing an entire tree trunk across a field! I have no idea how they picked up such a heavy object to hurl, but apparently they work out a lot at the gym before attempting something so phenomenal.

throwing-a-tree-trunk

My family thoroughly enjoyed attending the Scottish Highland Games. This year the games take place on August 3rd, 2019 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. If you don’t live in Spokane, Washington, you might want to see if there is an event like this in your area, as they take place in many states. Cultural activities like this are fun for the whole family and give you some time to enjoy each other in a new environment!

Teen Homeschoolers Shoot Math Books

Monday, July 1st, 2019

teen-homeschoolers-shoot-math-books

My teen homeschoolers had fun shooting their math books yesterday at the shooting range, culminating in exploding the math books to smithereens. My oldest son said the following quotes before being the first to shoot his math book:

  • “Pre-calculus took away one year of my life.”
  • “Pre-calculus is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
  • “Pre-calculus ruined my life.”

Even though the aforementioned teen got A’s on his pre-calculus, it took him an inordinate amount of time to finish his math each day, cutting into his free time. “Today is payback,” I said, looking in his direction. He grinned as he saw his math book fly up into the air while being shot.

how-to-help-my-child-with-math-at-home

I do need to say that I have been pleased with the homeschooling math books that we’ve used, just in case you figure out what brand of book was exploded by my family. It’s a course that my kids did on the computer, with explanations for higher math that I would never have been able to teach myself, seeing as how I never took pre-calculus in school. My husband thought it would be a good idea to teach our kids to think, hence they were required to go all the way through pre-calculus before they graduated high school.

how-to-improve-in-math

Obviously my oldest son didn’t appreciate being taught to think in this way, hence his glee at seeing the utter destruction and annihilation of his math book, along with his brothers’ and sister’s math books, which were also demolished.

This was the destruction after the shooting and before the explosions:

shot-math-books

Teen Homeschoolers Shoot Math Books (Video)

In this short 1-minute video, you will see the shooting and exploding of math books. We also show the book carnarge: first of the shooting, then of the explosions. Enjoy.

A good time was had by all. For those who have never heard of tennerite, it’s an explosive target that combines oxidizers and a fuel (aluminum powder) that are combined together and mixed right before setting up the target. The two components are stored separately until you are ready to use it. This is what we used for the explosions.

Here is a close-up photo of the utterly demolished homeschool math books after being shot and exploded.

math-destruction

Hope you enjoyed joining us for the demolition of our math books!

Top 10 Healthy Food Tips

Monday, May 13th, 2019

top-10-healthy-food-tips

My daughter Rachel and I have been learning a lot about food and how it affects our bodies. Rachel created another fun video about hands-on health called “Top 10 Healthy Food Tips.” These tips come directly from her high school health book by Apologia (link is at the bottom of this post):

Healthy Food Tip #1: Eat a variety of foods. Meat, dairy foods, beans, vegetables, and whole grains all have their parts to play.

Each type of food provides different nutrients that are needed by the body. If you don’t eat enough protein, for example, your muscles will feel weak and start hurting because your body will start taking protein away from your muscles to keep your other body systems alive. Without fruits and vegetables, you will not get essential vitamins and nutrients for your body, and you will suffer with poor digestion and other problems.

Healthy Food Tip #2: Choose unprocessed food, closest to its natural state. Choose fruit over fruit juice.

The less processed food is, the better it is for your body. This means that raw fruits and vegetables, for example, are better for you than packaged foods that contain preservatives. Even with fruit, the bulk in the fruit (like the pulp of the orange) has nutrients that are absent in the orange juice that has been pasteurized, a process by which it is heated to high temperatures which strips the orange juice from most of its nutrients. Preservatives are then placed into the juice. So it’s way better to eat an orange, or to squeeze it right before drinking it. The same is true for any other juice.

Healthy Food Tip #3: Limit white carbohydrate foods. These include white flour, white sugar, white rice, and white potatoes.

When we studied biology in our homeschool, we did an experiment where we placed white bread and wheat bread with some water drops in a plastic bag. The wheat bread spoiled a lot faster than the white bread, which had less for the mold to feed on, indicating that mold didn’t even want to eat the white bread because it didn’t recognize the bread as actual food.

The darker rice has the bran and germ still in it, giving it more nutrients, whereas the white rice has the nutrients stripped from it. So try to stay away from white carbohydrates and instead, eat whole grains.

white-grains-not-good-for-you

Healthy Food Tip #4: Enjoy the delicious nutrition of eggs; just average one a day.

Growing up, I heard that two eggs a day is about all you want to eat because of the cholesterol. (This health book recommends eating only one egg for that reason; I’ve also researched online to find that eating a lot of eggs causes heart disease.) But the eggs also contain Omega 3, protein, and other vitamins, so they are good to eat. I’ve heard people argue that the cholesterol in eggs is the good kind, and that the nutrients in the eggs are hard to find elsewhere. So enjoy your eggs; just don’t go overboard–one or two a day is plenty.

Healthy Food Tip #5: Grain and beans together give you all the essential amino acids.

When I grew up in Guatemala, everybody ate black beans and rice. I never knew that together, they provide a complete protein with all the amino acids. Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, so sometimes you have to combine a grain (like rice or corn) with a bean to get everything you need.

Healthy Food Tip #6: If you have a choice, start with unsalted food and then add a sprinkle of salt at the table if needed.

If you eat too much salt, your blood pressure goes up because of extra water stored in your body. I know so many people who are on high blood pressure medication. I wonder if they cut out salt (as much as possible), if their bodies would not need the medication. For example, if you put cheddar cheese and ham into your scrambled eggs, there is no reason to add salt because the eggs are already flavored. Oregano and other herbs are good for you, unlike salt, so use those instead.

Healthy Food Tip #7: Three 8-ounce servings of milk or yogurt each day cover many mineral needs.

Milk is a rich source of calcium, which is needed for your bones. You can get that calcium from milk products like yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream. Milk products also contain phosphorus and magnesium. If you are lactose intolerant, you can get the same nutrients from vegetables, nuts, eggs, and whole grains.

Healthy Food Tip #8: Eat lots of vegetables, both cooked and raw. Minerals are more easily absorbed from cooked vegetables. Vitamins, on the other hand, are more plentiful in raw vegetables because vitamins are destroyed by the heat used for cooking.

I found it interesting that minerals are more absorbed from cooked vegetables. But raw is better in almost every other way because most of the vitamins are cooked out of the vegetables if you don’t eat them raw. If you grow your own vegetables, eating the vegetables right after picking them will give you the most flavor, too!

fresh-vs-canned

Healthy Food Tip #9: If you have options, choose fresh or frozen food over canned or dry food.

The high temperatures needed for canning remove a lot of the vitamins from the food, so it’s way better to eat fresh or frozen foods. Even dehydrated foods have to be processed, losing some of the vitamins of the food. So fresh food is best, then frozen, then dried, and last… canned.

Healthy Food Tip #10: Limit your intake of table sugar to between 6 and 9 teaspoons each day.

My dad recently died of cancer. Cancer thrives on sugar. And eating too much sugar leads to atherosclerosis, which clogs your arteries. Sugar is empty calories, so you end up gaining weight. Also, sugar makes you feel sluggish. Yes, you can eat sugar in moderation, especially a small piece of dessert with a meal, because when you have other food in your stomach, all of the contents of your stomach are digested together and you won’t feel the sluggishness you would feel if you ate a sugary snack on an empty stomach.

If you enjoyed reading about what we are learning in our health class, you would probably love the book that we are using: (affiliate link) Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Apologia. We hope you enjoyed my daughter’s video where she dramatized each of these food tips, to help you remember to eat well to have more energy!

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