New Blog Design!

I am so excited to be able to finally show you all my new blog design!!  Tracey over at Little Bitty Blog Designs was a doll to work with and did a super-awesome job of dealing with my picky tail!

I won the makeover over at The Tuckers Take Tennessee, entering because I have wanted a new design basically from the time I started the blog.  I didn’t really think I was going to win, but jumped around like a school girl when I got the email from Meghan letting me know I had {of course, all the while feeling bad for those that hadn’t won}.

The process was easy, fun, and I’m so happy with the end result.  The design of the blog is one less thing I need to worry about now, because as all of us know, these things take up way more time than we ever knew they would!

Thank you to all my loyal readers; I love that people enjoy reading what I’m putting out there.  I hope to bring you lots of great new content to go along with the great new blog!
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October 20, 2010

I could barely handle watching her do this {what with all the germs and stuff}, but she had fun…

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October 19, 2010

A nice quiet spot to think

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Field Trip No. 4 – AL Symphony Orchestra & McWane Science Center

Today was our second field trip of the week.  We headed to the AL Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Series to hear their “Air, Land, and Sea” presentation.  It was absolutely outstanding!  I was so sad that it only lasted an hour.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect, other than the orchestra playing music.  Neither Babydoll or I had ever been to an orchestra, however, we have attended ballets.  I was curious how it would work sitting there listening to the music with no “action” to go along with it.  We were so pleasantly surprised.
Not only did we get to hear some great pieces, they integrated audience participation and explained the pieces as well as a bit about each composer.  We, as the audience, even got to put together our own “symphony”.  One section was the wind, one section was the waves, and one section were seagulls.  The conductor conducted each section, asking us to elevate and soften our sounds to create an interesting experience.  We even got to participate as cuckoos during the Im Krapfenwaldl Polka {one of my favorites}.  The conductor informed us that literally translated, this forest in Germany is “the little jelly doughnut”.  I don’t know how accurate this is, but in my cursory glance on a Google search I did come upon “Doughnutwood”.
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Part of our season ticket fee covered admission to McWane Science Center next door.  We changed out of our pretty {uncomfortable} symphony-going shoes and into our flip flops and went in!
Several exhibits were set up that reinforced things we’ve been learning, such as the exhibit on cells and cell division.  Babydoll also went to exhibits on dinosaurs, water, and the big bass.
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Babydoll thoroughly enjoyed touching the sharks and the stingrays in the touch tank.
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There were quite a few school groups visiting that day, so we couldn’t see everything, but we’ll head back soon.  All-in-all, it was a great day!

Field Trip No. 3 – SIFAT CARES

Yesterday’s trip to SIFAT was, as Babydoll put it, “the best one yet!”  We attended the SIFAT CARES Around the World field trip, and while it was loooong {6 hours of wilderness, hilly terrain, and walking}, it was so worth the 1.5 hour drive.

CARES stands for “Creative Academic Resources for Educational Success.”  I’d definitely say that they creatively provided academic resources for our educational success.  Of course, anytime you can provide hands-on training for your children, it will stick more than reading something in a book or on a worksheet.  This was to the extreme, though, in that we were really immersed into each culture.  And while SIFAT is a Christian organization, I appreciate the fact that they allow for non-faith based field trips, so we really got to experience things from a more practical and technical point of view.  If you’d like to learn more about SIFAT, feel free to visit their site for more information.

The premise of the day is to experience what life is like in developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.  An emphasis is placed on learning how the people in those countries use appropriate and available technologies to live their daily lives.  SIFAT hosts community leaders from all over the world and teaches them how to fix current problems in their home countries using technologies and materials that are available in that country.  For instance, they might teach someone how to purify water with a barrel, some salt, some tubing, and a car battery.  Or they might teach someone how to better build their fire pits and cooking areas so that women and children have longer life expectancy due to less smoke inhalation.

Our first stop was in Uganda.  We saw how many in the rural areas live in small one room homes made from adobe.  We also saw how they have their cooking, cleaning, and storage areas outside their homes.  A Nubian goat was even present and waiting to be loved.

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Next we travelled to a slum village.  This area was rather sobering.  It was interesting to see all these “lost things” {Tinkerbell, anyone?} being used in so many unusual ways, just to make a home for someone.  We also learned of three different ways to purify water.

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After the slums, we travelled to one of Babydoll’s favorites, Bolivia.  We saw the tiny hut that many people in the Andes mountains live in, and learned that potatoes are their number one crop.  They eat guinea pigs because they can’t raise cows in the mountains, and even if they could, they have no way of keeping the meat cold.  We also learned that they dry leaves of all sorts {spinach, quail grass leaves, etc.} and then grind them into a powder in order to get nutrition to their children.  They make green cookies, tortillas, and even have cooking contests to develop new leaf powder recipes.

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Next up was Guatemala.  We saw a model of a bamboo home that many in the rural areas live in, and also got to eat fresh homemade corn tortillas.

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At lunch we got to meet three current SIFAT students.  They were visiting from Vietnam, Haiti, and India.  They all had great {and very specific and sometimes surprising} ideas of what they wanted to do for their countries.

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After lunch, we headed to the rope bridge.  We learned that in places such as Bolivia, the rope bridge is used to connect people as well as for communication.

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From the rope bridge, we headed over to the Philippines.  We saw one style of traditional housing and learned how to perform the tinikling.

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After the Philippines, it was off to mud brick making!  Babydoll got to assist with sifting the dirt, mixing the mud, and filling the forms.  Afterward the kids got to play in the creek.

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We finished the day by visiting Liberia and Nigeria.  I was a bad homeschool mom at this point and stopped paying attention in favor of speaking to another blogging mom I had just met.  It was so nice meeting her and her kids.  You can go check out Tonya’s blog at Live the Adventure.

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We then visited the Village Store, which was filled with all sorts of goodies.  We bought a couple of flutes, a drum, a tagua nut ring {pink, of course}, and crayons whittled from sticks.  It was all from Ecuador and only cost us $17!  The drive home seemed endless {we were exhausted}, but we really enjoyed the trip!