Craft the Travel

PUJ, La Romana, Saona Island ~ Dominican Republic

Like most destinations in the West Indies, the Dominican Republic delivers you crystal teal-blue water and fine white sand. We found areas of our resort’s beach, at the natural swimming pool and off of Saona Island to be seaweed free and pristine. The trade-off to reach this stunning destination is a 4hr 15m (direct) flight (from DFW to PUJ).

Once you are in the Dominican you can elect to stay in Punta Cana where the airport is on the East tip of the Island or make your way about 45m Southwest to the town of La Romana or even farther West into Santa Domingo. Wherever you land you are likely to find yourself in an all-inclusive resort. From what we observed in La Romana, there wasn’t much in the way of restaurants outside of our resort. While the food in our resort was certainly edible and plentiful, it was different and challenged all of us to expand our palettes.

I would venture to say 10-20% of the people staying at our resort were Americans and the rest were nationalities from all over the world.  I had forgotten how much the rest of the world still smokes cigarettes and are used to doing so at any time/place they wish.  😒 The people that worked at the resort, as well as locals we encountered off the property, were all very helpful, kind and friendly.

We enjoyed the family time we had on the ‘touristy’ tours we scheduled. We participated in a day trip to go zip-lining, a boating trip to Saona Island and an afternoon of parasailing. Sebastian has really grown up and enjoyed these ‘big boy’ activities.

Our resort did have a restaurant at the end of their pier, which from what we observed most of the other resorts down the beach did not. We had one lunch and our final dinner there which were our favorite meals.

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We practiced traveling only with backpacks for this trip and while we all agreed that a lesser amount of stuff was ideal; we prefer that weight be hauled around on wheels versus our backs. I will be on the hunt for the perfect tiny roller bags.

Recommended Resorts:  Dreams, La Romana; Dreams, Dominicus; Catalonia; Grand Palladium; Nickelodeon Resort.

Things to be aware of in the DR:

-American Dollars & DR Pesos are both widely accepted, but be sure to take some small bills for tipping as when paying with a card or ‘on the room’ you are not offered a ‘tipping line.’

-‘Tours’ are very touristy and typically fully booked. Be sure to book private excursions if you don’t want to be a part of the crowd.

-Carefully consider whether you want to book ‘public’ transfers (vs private) as this will lengthen the time it takes to get you to your resort. You may be in luck and be the first stop or you may not…..and be the last!

-Wear insect repellent. Even though you may not feel like it is very ‘buggy’, other more unfamiliar creatures are around that may bite.

-Arrive to this airport (PUJ) 3 hours before your departure time. It is not a modern, ‘online’ airport. They make you stand in three (long) lines to leave the country. One to check into your departing flight, one to go through security and one (again) through customs to exit the country. The airport is an open-air building, so dress comfortably for the warm weather.

Lastly, after a long day getting home, I was SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL to have Global Entry. We scanned our passports at kiosks, printed a paper for each of us, showed them to the attending agent and breezed right out to our Uber (we only had carry-on luggage). BRILLANT!

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/

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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?

Continue reading “Washington DC: The Capitol, Smithsonian Museums and Monument Tours”

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!

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.

Homeschool Resources

Outschool, Khan & Music Mixing

We finally took the plunge and invested in a laptop for Sebastian. We wanted a windows based laptop that would be good for gaming (fast RAM), travel (lightweight & thin), Skype/google hangouts (built-in mic & cam), quick to boot up (solid state), lots of room for files (large hard drive), comfortable and easy to use (backlit keyboard, touchscreen & flip back yoga positioning). We went with a Lenovo Yoga.  I am sharing this because several people have asked me how and what we decided to buy. I will say that if you can hold out until Black Friday weekend and specifically Cyber Monday, that was when I found the best price. Be sure to compare Best Buy and Fry’s as Amazon did not have the best deals on laptops.  We had a spare monitor that Sebastian can use as a ‘second screen’ and we also added an external mouse for comfort.

His laptop has opened up many new learning resources for us that I am really excited to share. If you have seen me lately then you have probably already heard me talking about this first one. Outschool! It is a video-conferencing type scenario, so that second screen comes in handy. Outschool is incredibly easy to use and they have an amazing amount of classes to choose from in the catalog. First, you register, then you pick a class. Some classes are one time and average around $8-$11. Other classes are multiple weeks and some are even a couple of months. Register for something, then on the day and time of the class simply open the ‘Zoom’ link to see your ‘classroom’. If the teacher needs to communicate ahead of time, they will post messages (or follow-up info) in the ‘classroom’. You can search for classes on just days/times you have available or just on certain subjects. If you have a skill to teach or knowledge to share you can register to teach a class too.  We have done classes on world geography, polar bears, Winter, the Constitution and learning to make NPCs for Minecraft.

We are starting a new class on Minecraft servers. We have been working on creating our own, so this is going to help us complete that project. Last week we started a class on learning to use a microscope and observing/comparing things underneath it.  Soon we will start a beginners multiplication class and I have my eye on a few Spanish classes too. He knows how to log-in and get ready for the class to start. We have a routine where he gets ready early and practices typing while he is waiting for the class to start.

I love that I’m there and able to help Sebastian along if needed, but there is a sense of independence too. He is learning how to use technology to learn about any subject while having an interesting and unique experience with different teachers and students from all over the country and world. Win!

Another source a fellow homeschool mom shared with me is Khan Academy. We have enjoyed the easy to use platform. It is simple to see right where we left off from the time before and I like the assessments. They help me know if Sebastian has the concept or if we need to spend more time on something. We have been using Khan for math and grammar.

We continue to have our monthly classes at the Microsoft store in Northpark Mall. This is such a popular fun event for so many of my homeschool family friends. Lunch and outdoor play are incorporated into these afternoons which makes for a great day of learning and socializing. Techie Factory continues to be one of Sebastian’s favorite weekly classes. The first half he gets to help other students and during the second half, he gets to collaborate with or learn from older students.

Our monthly DMA visit involved studies of Native American art and specifically basket weaving. It was a lovely afternoon so after class, we got to cross the street to Klyde Warren Park and have lunch at the food trucks.

Our friends Parker and Mason had their 8th birthday party at our favorite steam-punk playground, Spark! We are always drawn to their giant ‘light bright’ and of course, we went with a Minecraft theme for our art-making. When we left, Sebastian commented how pretty downtown Dallas looked and that I should grab a photo.

New at Zhen this semester we are attending a music class for music mixing. Sebastian is already three lessons in and compiled his first song:  The music style is electronica, but he is learning to record and mix in vocals, too. The software used for this process is called Ableton. In addition to needing a stable laptop with adequate hard drive space and fast memory, you need microphones and an interface. He already wants to lay in video for his youtube channel, eagleprescott.com. Slow down child, we will get there!

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Lastly this month we had a worm composting class at Texas Worm Ranch. It was good for them to get their hands in the dirt. We learned so much about worms, how to compost, how to use the worm casting and of course they sent us home with our own box of worms! 🙂

Homeschool Resources

Science Project: Sound Localization: Judging Sound Direction by Education.com

Education.com was kind enough to provide us with a project on sound localization. You can read below for all the details. To access a variety of study materials on ANGLES, visit Education.com’s website here.

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What? Where? If you can tell when someone’s sneaking up on you, your ears might have a good sound localization ability, meaning they’re great at judging sound direction.

Problem

How well do people sense the direction of a sound?

Materials

  • Grassy field
  • Lots of string
  • Protractor
  • Nails or wire stakes
  • Plastic freezer bag
  • Flour
  • Blindfold
  • Jingle bell
  • Tape measure
  • 2 or more friends

Procedure

  1. Can your friends determine the direction of a sound? How well can they pinpoint the direction that a sound is coming from? Create a hypothesis, your best guess about what is going to happen. What directions are the easiest to identify? Which ones are the hardest?
  2. First, you’ll create a semicircle so that you can make sounds in different places. To build your circle, put a nail in the ground and tie one end of a spool of string to the nail. Measure out 30 meters of string and pull the string taut. Put another nail in the ground and tie the other end of your string to the nail. This length of string will act as the diameter of your semicircle.

Walk along the string until you get to the middle. Put a nail at that point, and tie more string to that nail. The new string should be 15 meters long. Walk to one end of the diameter, holding the new string. Start walking in a curved path, holding the string taut. As you walk, you or a friend can hold a plastic freezer bag of flour with the corner clipped off and use it to mark a semicircle on the grass.

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  1. Now it’s time to make some noise! Ask one of your friends to stand at the midpoint, the place where you put the second nail. Put a blindfold on your friend so that he will have to use only his ears to pinpoint the direction of the sound.
  2. Measure out another 15-meter length of string for yourself, and give your 2nd friend his own 15-meter length of string and a jingle bell. Tie the ends of these strings to the nail close to where the blindfolded subject is standing. You and your friend should stand at the edge of the circle, holding your strings to either side of your blindfolded friend.

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  1. Have your friend with the jingle bell quietly move along the edge of the circle, stop, and jingle the bell. Ask your blindfolded test subject to point to the place where he heard the bell. Walk around the edge of the circle to move your string so that it lines up with the place your blindfolded friend is pointing. Ask your blindfolded friend to take his blindfold off and measure the angle that each string makes with the semicircle’s diameter. Place the results into a table:
Test Subject True Angle Guessed Angle Difference
Subject One
  1. Do five trials for each blindfolded test subject, then ask your friends to switch jobs.
  2. How accurate were your friends’ guesses? Was one person more accurate than the others, or were they all similar? What directions were most difficult for your friends to guess?

Results

Surprisingly, you and your friends probably will have had a harder time determining the precise direction of sounds that happened in front of them!

Why?

How do people tell where a sound is coming from? Different animals have heads and ears that are capable of capturing sound in different ways. Owls have flat facial disks that act like satellite dishes, capturing sound. Many bats have large pinnae (“ears”) that collect sounds.

People have pinnae too—but we call them ears. The part of the ear that processes sound is actually on the inside of your skull, and the things we call ears are our sound-collectors or pinnae.

Our pinnae sit on the sides of the head. This means that it’s easy to hear sounds that are coming directly from the left or the right. When a sound is above us, below us, or behind us, it can be harder to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from. However, we make up for this weakness with our eyes! Humans usually use our eyes to detect things that are right in front of us, because our eyes point forward.

We can still accomplish sound localization and determine where a sound is coming from even when that sound isn’t directly to the left or the right of us. A sound that comes from behind us and to the right moves into our ear pinnae and gets amplified in a certain way—meaning the sound is louder in one of our ears than it is in the other. Then, the brain takes that information and decodes it. Over time, we will have heard many sounds from this direction, and we get trained to realize that the particular amplification pattern this direction produces means that this sound comes from behind us and to the right.

A sound that comes directly from the back of your head is hard to figure out because it doesn’t move as easily into your ear pinnae. It might echo off something in front of you, and that could help. Usually, people turn their head slightly when they hear a sound behind them, and this helps their ears capture the sound and helps their brain decode it.

Project Author: Tricia Edgar

For more fun science projects, go to Education.com!