Guest Bloggers

Yes, Rain Dances Do Exist and They Do Work!

The Chavason 3 take a quick trip into their family’s past, which is also a piece of American history.  Sandía Feast is in the Sandía mountain range, East of Albuquerque NM.  Sandía means Watermelon in Spanish. As we watched the sunset over the Sandía mountain range on day one of our trip, we realized this mountain range was named correctly.  The sky and sunset on the opposite side of the mountain turned into colors of pink and red, while the mountains turned into deep greens, and yup, it looked like huge pieces of watermelon placed right on top of the earth! As the sun went down the temperature dropped too and we were so struck by how cold it became.  We needed to put on our Sandía casino sweatshirts. That’s right, not only we were invited to watch “our” culture in action, we also got the privilege to stay at the Pueblo tribe’s Sandía casino.

Like any casino in Las Vegas, this casino resort had every modern amenity and my twins took advantage of 24-hour pizza, grilled cheese, all you can eat self-serve ice cream, 24-hour buffets with sushi, French fries, and a river of orange Fanta as far as their 8-year-old eye could see.

Casino Fun
Enjoying the Delights of the Sandía Resort.

I tried my hand at golf and maybe threw some coins in the slots. 😉  We swam till we had fins and dined with one movie star (yup we had dinner with ET, a story for another blog post). Back to our adventure….

After all of our spoilage in the resort, the 2nd day started with a short trip to visit the Pueblo Tribe that Uncle Max was born into. We saw up close the traditional wear of the “singers” of the tribe. <Sorry photography wasn’t allowed.> “Singers” of the dance are made up of male elders from the tribe that have participated in past rain dances as “dancers”. Think of a church choir, but instead of choir books with words and music written down, these songs are learned through the passing down of melodies, rhythms, sounds and learned by ear while memorized by the elders. Their outfits are also passed down through families and every stitch, pattern, and feather have meaning. Most of the 100 plus “singers” are allowed to wear handed down moccasins to protect their feet from the hot sand. They stand all day from 10am till 7pm while chanting to nature. There is only 1 drummer with a drum made of a hollowed out tree stump and an animal skin pulled tightly over the top. The drummer will carry the drum into the middle of the “singers” and provide the bass and rhythm that the “singers” and “dancers” will follow.

The “dancers” outfits are similar to the “singers” in that everything one wears is handed down from centuries-old ancestors and every thread and accessory is full of meaning. My cousin’s dress was steeped in tradition and meaning, from the feathers in her hair, to the cornmeal pouch she wore on her hip. The over 250 “dancers” practice together year after year, starting at age 4 through over 50 years old.  Like “singers” none of the dances are written down. Observation and memorization of the steps are the only way they are learned. There are no words to explain the first time you hear and feel the pounding of the drum. Although we had “ backstage” knowledge of the workings of this tradition, we were not prepared to see the wind swirl around us and add its own howling to the “singers” chants.

Before
The Sky Before the Rain Dance

We were not ready for the heat of the day to quickly retreat and make room for rain clouds. We were taken by surprise as the thunder matched the beat of the drum. The female “dancers” arms are painted in white with stripes that are similar to rain streaks and their hands are painted with lightning bolts. The male “dancers” painted all in blue to match the water drops of rain. As the chants got more powerful, the drum beats intensified, and barefoot dancers steps pounded the hot sand, the entire tribe was whipped by feathers and dust. After 8 hours of heat, the last dance of the day ended with a thunderclap that shook the ground preparing us all for the huge droplets of rain that followed.

After
The Sky After the Rain Dance.

The Sandía mountain range has been home to the Pueblo Indians over centuries and is where you can witness a mix of modernism and the true traditionalism of Native Americans celebrating Mother Earth and all Her Power. 😉

Me
Fun Native Garb

If you are interested in visiting the Albuquerque-Sandia area of NM, then you might enjoy visiting in October during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The fiesta is the 6th of Oct – 14th of Oct, 2018. Roundtrip vacations from DFW/DAL to ABQ range from $2000 to $4000 for 4 nights/5 days for a family of 4 depending on if you go during peak balloon season or not. If you want help planning this trip, please contact Craft the Travel at bookit@craftthetravel.com.

Leaving the Flock

10 Ways Travelling Has Ruined Our Kids Lives – Shared from 100 Bucket List Adventures

I haven’t had a chance to sum up our life choices into a tidy list like this, but if I had this article would have mirrored my thoughts and the experiences I plan to share with my son.

I’m not raising my kids to live a normal life. I’m raising them to live an extraordinary life. One that brings them joy, breaks the mould, pushes their boundaries and gives them the freedom to choose how they spend the precious days we have here on the planet.” -from 10 Ways Travel has Ruined our Kids Lives.

They’ve had to adapt and learn that home isn’t a place. Home is where our family is. It’s not the building that makes a place your home, but the people around you who love you, support you and make you smile every day.” -from 10 Ways Travel has Ruined our Kids Lives.

Travelling makes life unpredictable and that brings risk. But if I’m honest, this is why we travel. They learn that taking risks is ok and how to assess which risks to take. They learn to handle disasters. They learn how to stay calm under pressure and how to deal with volatile situations. These lessons are priceless and will serve them for the rest of their lives.” -from 10 Ways Travel has Ruined our Kids Lives.

I’m a firm believer that all the best things are outside of your comfort zone. If you want to be successful in life you’ve got to be comfortable doing things that make you uncomfortable. There’s no better way to practice this than travel.” -from 10 Ways Travel has Ruined our Kids Lives.

To view the original post by 100 Bucket List Adventures, go here:

https://100bucketlistadventures.com/10-ways-travelling-has-ruined-our-kids-lives/

Craft the Travel

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Leaving the Flock

Friends, Let’s Catch-up!

We are here in Orlando getting close to the end of our trip. This has been a well-timed trip.  Many things are in flux and changing in our world, so to take time to slow down and just enjoy ourselves in the company of family has been a nice change of pace. I will follow up with more on Orlando and Disney in a follow-up post.

I’ll catch you up on the last month or so of homeschool activities. We continue to tackle our basics (reading/writing/math/spelling/good citizenship) on a weekly basis and keep our schedule full of ‘field trips’ and ‘meet-ups’. The DMA continues to provide lovely, monthly art classes rich in both art education and hands-on fun. We gave a run at an ‘escape the room’ game with some of our homeschool friends and made it out with moments to spare. It was exciting for the team to work together and WIN! We worked a month on studying Picasso and cubism. This study finished with painting ‘Picasso inspired’ selfies. I guess my inner ‘she’ is Medusa! Ha! We have a new relationship with the director of Soar United, Lynn. She has REALLY stepped up to the plate and opened up the doors to Soar so our kids can have a fun, weekly place to be ninja warriors, play soccer and dodgeball. We are excited that this is continuing on and if you are Dallas local, feel free to join. (Tuesdays from 11a to 3p). Mention you are with the homeschool group for a discounted rate. We had heard about everyone visiting the Crayola Experience up in Plano, so we decided to try it too. We enjoyed the day, but for others considering it, we felt it was for younger kids or those really into coloring/crayon projects.

If you haven’t heard by now, we are making some big changes in our personal lives. We are selling our lake home in preparation of moving in a worldschooling direction.

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I have also affiliated with a wonderful, long-standing, incredibly connected travel company and taken on an Independent Travel Agent role. You will see changes as our blog evolves from just ‘homeschooling in Dallas’ to ‘Worldschooling and Travel Adventures’.  The deals, resources and inside info is TO DIE FOR!! I’m through the preliminary training and business set-up and really have not been as excited about my career since I launched Juxby in 2011.  I CAN.NOT.WAIT to share more info about this new journey and how it may help you too! CLEARLY a blog is coming about this.

Enoy the rest of your weekend and happy early mother’s day to all my fellow moms. Whether you homeschool, worldschool, public school or private school, we are all just making the best choices with the resources we each have available to us for the betterment of our child’s future. I salute you and hope you do something nice for yourself tomorrow! (like take a nap! 😉 ) 😘

Worldschooling

Washington DC: The Capitol, Smithsonian Museums and Monument Tours

Ok, I’ll admit Washington DC wasn’t on my personal list of travel destinations but now that we are homeschooling what better way to get a ‘civics and government’ lesson than a trip to DC, right?  Sebastian and I both agree this trip was fantastic! By the end, we were so sore and tired from all the walking, but happy and impressed!

White House

Here are a few summary suggestions: 1. Do not rent a car. Stay close to the National Mall. Traffic is bad and parking is expensive. While staying close to the NM may be more expensive, the convenience and access to popular sites is worth it.  2. You HAVE to submit your request to tour the white house 3 months in advance to even get a shot at getting a tour. We were under that window and could not get one. We DID get a tour of the Capitol which I was not that excited about, but would now say was the highlight of the trip. I will elaborate later. 3. DO make reservations and take a tour bus early in your trip. This will give you the lay of the land before you venture out on foot and help you better plan the rest of your time in DC.

Portrait Gallery
In front of the Portrait Gallery

HOTEL. I wasn’t sure what to book being a first-timer to DC.  I knew I wanted to stay close to the National Mall, close to all the museums and Sebastian wanted a pool. I am a Marriot member, so I do tend to look at their hotels first and found a Residence Inn by Marriot three blocks from the National Mall with an indoor pool. I was able to get it for around $250/night. We arrived at the hotel after a $15 Uber ride from Reagan (DCA) and were promptly checked in two hours early.  I was surprised to find a complete kitchen (except oven) in the room! It also had a small 2-seat bistro table, pull out couch, desk, queen-size bed, sink dressing area and bathroom. We were able to use Instacart & Safeway to have groceries delivered to our room. Mon-Wed the hotel did a food and/or drink give-away from 6p to 7:30p and again were pleasantly surprised to find a full hamburger, chips, and drinks bar served on one of the nights. Our room was clean, well serviced, quiet and comfortable. What more could I ask for?

Swimming
His request: POOL! He swam everyday!

GETTING AROUND. I am so thankful a friend recommended this tour, it was another highlight of the trip. Thanks, Sherry! Ideally, you have temperate weather as the tour runs from 7:30p to about 10:30p with the large picture windows typically open. Our evening tour begun during sunset with pick-up at Union Station, drove East to the Capitol and all along the National Mall to finish up at the memorials West past the Washington Monument. Our driver was entertainingly knowledgeable and stopped to allow us time to explore the monuments. If I would have known how valuable the perspective was, I would have booked our tour the first night. It gave me a comfort level of knowledge that would have been nice to have before tackling the area by foot. If you don’t think the ‘night time’ tour may be for you, you could consider Big Bus tours. We did not use them, but Sebastian wanted to because they were the company with the double-decker, open-top seating. By our last day as the fatigue was really starting to set it, we spontaneously bought tickets for a boat tour by DC Cruises. It was nice to get out on the water as we love boating, but the tour itself doesn’t show you much since most of the monuments are set farther back or off the tidal basin not accessible by boat.

Monument Tour
WWII Memorial and Washington Memorial at Night

CAPITOL TOUR. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. SUPREME COURT. If you are a Texas resident, book your Capitol tour here and do it three months before your travel date. We did it just over 2 months out and were able to still get the staff-guided Capitol tour, but not the White House tour. We thought we knew where we were supposed to meet for our tour guide, but we were way off. We were to meet at Cruz’s office in the Russell building, 4th floor. This building is near the Capitol, but about a block off. We ended up being about 30 minutes late after initially going to the visitors center inside the Capitol. Cruz’s staff was still more than happy to give us the personal tour despite our tardiness. While politicians may not get a lot of things right, the staff was wonderful to us. It was exciting to see the underground tunnels that the Senators use to get to and from their offices and the Capitol. The architecture, murals, and statues inside the Capitol were beautiful and reminiscent of scenes inside the Vatican.  After a great lunch at the Capitol cafeteria, we waited in line to see and sit in on the Senate floor.  We only stayed about 10 minutes observing the day’s agenda and then made our way through the connected corridor over to the Library of Congress.

Capitol among the Cherry Blossom
Capitol among the Cherry Blossom

The Library of Congress is equally decorated and ornate. The ceiling murals all interconnect by theme. The area of books is off limits unless you hold a library card. You are able to get a card if you are 16y or older with the purpose of research. Finally when you leave the LoC you exit and can walk next door to the Supreme Court. If you take a tour then you can go inside the Justices’ courtroom, otherwise, you can walk up to the entrance. A common theme in all of the buildings is the cherry blossom ceilings. You will see them on the ceilings in a dark pink or light blue and gold in all the buildings.

Library of Congress
Reading Room Inside the Library of Congress

SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS. It is such a treat to have so many (19 total) free museums in DC! The Air and Space Museum was running extended hours so we were able to run over our first day and see things like the original 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer, space shuttles, nuclear missiles and so much more. Another day we visited the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Portrait Gallery. This was a lot to see in one day, not sure I would do this many again in one day.

Air &amp; Space
Mural in the Air and Space Museum

CHERRY BLOSSOMS. We were fortunate to be in DC during the blooming of the cherry trees. We were told by our tour guides that there are 9 varieties and he ID’d two for us. The soft pinkish white petals float around like snow and cover the streets in pinkish-white. It is a lovely sight. While they are all over the National Mall, one of the best places to see them is on the Tidal Basin with the water and various memorials in the background.

Hanging
Hanging in the Cherry Trees

WEST SIDE MEMORIALS. The WWII memorial, the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial are all on the West side of the Washington Monument. The nighttime tour I mentioned earlier will take you by all of these monuments and give you time to get off the trolleybus and explore the monuments. Great way to see them all in one shot. We returned to see the Lincoln monument in the daytime and it was a lot more crowded so the nighttime tour may be the better way to visit.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument over the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Expect crowds and lots of tourists. I’m not sure there is any way around it. We saw lots of school groups of mainly teenagers. I was hoping they would thin out after 3p, but no they were still in full effect through the evening hours. Just get a good night’s sleep and pack along your extra patience.

Lincoln
Lincoln Memorial at Night

Do save one evening for dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill. I highly recommend reservations. It is a very old DC tradition around since 1856. No need to dress-up they took us in casual sight-seeing garb. It is an easy walk from the White House so plan your day accordingly and end up here for dinner.

Here is a map of the National Mall area and some things we did not see that I would recommend if you have the time.

1. Mt. Vernon – You will need to buy tickets and from DC is about a $35 Uber ride. A fellow homeschool family and our Capitol tour guide said it was well worth it. I suggest spending a day on this adventure.

2. Arlington National Cemetery – Friends recommended 2 hours. Visit the Kennedy graves, see The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, watch the changing of the guards, and take-in in the overall impact of the cemetery. It is just across the Potomac from the National Mall so an easy taxi ride.

3. International Spy Museum – “It is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on an all-but-invisible profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events.” -from Website. There is an entrance fee, but we have heard great reviews of this museum from several sources.

4. Newseum – A fellow traveler recommended this museum for the amazing photography. You will explore everything from current events to the role of a free press in a free society. Reserve your tickets online.

4. Any of the other Smithsonian Museums such as, but not limited to:

African American Museum (time passes required)

American Art Museum

American Indian Museum

National Zoo

-Smithsonian Castle and Gardens

Portrait Gallery
Inside the Portrait Gallery with Van Gogh Peeking through the Easel.

Follow on Instagram to view the complete series of DC photos posted daily.  All photo credit to LoveCameraEarth and Natalie Prescott. All rights reserved. ©

Homeschool Resources

Practice Multiplication with this Cute Crawlies Worksheet!

Just sharing a fun multiplication resource! Practice multiplication with this cute crawlies worksheet!  multiplication_games_multiplication_crawlies

Need more practice? Head over to Education.com for more multiplication resources to help you master mathematics!

Sebastian's Stories

The World of Skateboarding

Skateboarding is hard, but when you learn it’s fun. Then when you’re good at it you can do tricks. Also, skateboarding is a sport. The five major elements of the board are the deck, grip tape, trucks, wheels, and bearings. The gear that you should wear is a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves. Skateboarding is fun!

Leaving the Flock

Riding the Trail, Squeezing the Juice and Painting the Stars

I wanted to share a random, happy shot from one of our mornings. As a family, we place much value on decreasing the busyness and increasing the calm. Homeschooling affords us the time to support these values. On this day my little juicer and I made one of my favorite juices (recipe below) while discussing green vegetables and health, organic vs conventional produce, the mechanics of a masticating juicer and whether or not our worms would like our juicing remnants.

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Mexican Green Juice

6 Green Applies, 6 Stalks Celery, 4 or 5 Green Romaine Leaves, 1/4-1/3 of a bunch of Cilantro, 1 Lime and 1/4 of a Jalapeno Pepper (seeds removed).

We are both SO excited about finding River Ranch at Texas Horse Park. We learned about this ranch because it generously offers free services to the public on the third Thursday of the month. On that day, we did short little rides in their event arena. We loved it so much we booked a time to return for a one-hour trail ride. We learned a few basics about riding and got the feel for relaxed, western riding. If you want to experience a trail ride yourself, there is currently a Groupon. We plan to return for riding lessons over the next few months and take advantage of the pleasant spring weather to come.

We attended The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show at the Dallas Children’s Theater. I anticipated it being a little young for us, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a thoughtful, entertaining puppet show. It had almost a dream-like quality to it. The puppeteers did a lovely job of becoming their puppets and making their presence unfelt. This theater keeps the shows to 55 minutes with no intermission and has great organization with arrival seating and post-show departure.  Kudos to a job well done!

Last month at the Dallas Museum of Art, Jennifer did another wonderful job with the kids, teaching about The Silk Road, trade route. She told ‘stories from the route’, talked about the countries ‘along the road’ and discussed how China became known for its silk. In the art lab, the kids learned to hand embroider. Sebastian enjoyed it very much and asked if we could go to the store to get more embroidery supplies so he could continue to work on his design.

Level 2 robotics floor or basement level’s dino race are where you will find us at the Perot Museum. This trip included a tour of the NASA space exhibit currently on display.

Here Sebastian and friends took a ride in a space vehicle. The simulation makes you feel as if you are weightless and spinning around in space.

Sebastian and I coordinated a ‘famous painters’ series at Painting with a Twist in Richardson. For our first month, we started with studying the life of Vincent Van Gogh and did an ‘inspired by Starry Nights’ painting. This month we are studying Pablo Picasso and will paint a cubism ‘Selfie’. If you are a fellow homeschooler and wish to join us, please register here:  Thursday, March 29th from 12:30 to 2p. Use the passcode:  HIP HAPPY to register by March 21st.

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Sebastian is ready to try out the local skate parks this spring/summer, so I thought it was a good idea to get a few lessons in during the tail end of winter. We are taking lessons at Soar United on Thursdays at 3pm. There is a 4:30pm class. Both are open to the public, feel free to join us and chat about homeschooling! I have learned about my son, that his sport is anything with wheels or blades on his feet. His favorite sports are rollerblading, skateboarding and skiing.

Microsoft taught this month’s class about the Paint 3D software on Windows 10. The kids created or downloaded images which would then appear on the screen and through the computer’s camera. Sebastian finally got to get his picture with his Minecraft nemesis, Herobrine! Here are more details about using Paint 3D.

I want to offer a reminder to those pondering their child’s education; lessons and learning are found every day in everything, use that to drive your ‘curriculum’. Creativity grows from a mind allowed to think and question. Strategic thinking is spurred from reasoning through challenge. Happiness blossoms from a loving, supportive environment that respects and nurtures interests. Raising a happy boy that thinks creatively and strategically would be a good way for me to sum up my goal for this our first homeschool year. Whatever is driving that little whisper inside you to question the status quo, give it room to be a louder voice and research your options.

Homeschool Resources

The Great Backyard Bird Count Needs You! Feb 16th-18th

“Since 1998, bird watchers across North America have come together for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This February 16th- 18th is your chance to participate in the GBBC as a citizen scientist! In 2017 “an estimated 240,418 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 181,606 bird checklists reporting 6,259 species-more than half the known bird species in the world,” according to the February 7th GBBC news release. Participating only takes 15 minutes outside with your little one to record the birds you see. All the materials you need to get started are provided below. So, grab some binoculars and a bird book, and get started!” -Dallas Arboretum

GREAT BACKYARD BIRD INSTRUCTIONS

 

“Our spring #homeschool series kicks off March 12 with #PlantDetectives and CSI in the Garden. When you finish the session, step outside to smell the wonder of spring!”  -Dallas Arboretum

Spring Homeschool Days.