Friday, June 13, 2008

Van-cation...All I ever wanted...

I finally have the time and energy to post our vacation pictures from Orlando. We went there in late April, but I've not had the time/strength to do much with my blog until now. I just had to title the post "Van-cation", because that's what Pippin always calls our vacations. It makes sense right? We always travel in our van, therefor, we take van-cations!

This is the longest and glitziest trip we've ever taken. Most of our trips are just short 1 or 2 day adventures within a couple hours drive. All of our longer trips have involved visiting our far flung families. We always manage to get in a little site seeing on these trips, but it's really not the same as being able to go out and about on our own schedule.

Anyway, we stayed in a lovely suite near Disney that was bigger than my first was bigger than my first three or four apartments now that I think about it. We had a lovely view of a lake behind the resort from our 17th floor suite.

The height was dizzying, and I was perpetually afraid a good gust of wind would sweep by and take Pippin or Frodo with it. Needless to say, I strongly discouraged spending much time out on the patio.

While we were there we visited Sea World, Cocoa Beach and Aquatica. Sea World was a bit of a let down so none of us are all that interested in ever going there again. It was stupidly crowded the day we went. It was so crowded that we genuinely had trouble walking in most places, because we were shoulder to shoulder in a sea of humanity. We purposely booked the trip so we would not be there during spring break, or on a weekend. It was to no avail. We had to wait on hour for each show to start, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten any seats. This was particularly bad for the dolphin show since we had to stand in line outside of the stadium in the sun for the hour long wait. At least with the Shamu and sea lion shows we could sit in the stadiums while waiting for the shows to start. And those three shows were all we got to see of the place. Between the hour long waits, the actual show times and getting lunch, the day was done! It was just as well though, since my limited strength gave out right after the sea lion show. Then we just walked to Shamu stadium and sat down to await the show. It was neat to see all the shows. I mean, the day wasn't a total loss; we're just not willing to pay that much to go through it again.

Here are the sea lions and Shamu.

Here are Frodo and Pippin waiting for the whale show to start.

They were sitting in the splash zone with Papa, while Mama, Eowyn and Gramma sat further up. The show was so awesome! It's amazing that people have been able to train these beautiful, majectic sea creatures to perform this way. It makes me think of Genesis 1:28, "God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

They day after Sea World we went to Cocoa Beach for a lovely day. Here are Pippin and Frodo chasing waves. (Or, are the waves chasing them?)

And here's Pippin with a dead crab he found on the beach. I guess the only thing worse than your child holding a dead crab would be your child holding a live crab!

We also spent the day of Frodo's birthday at Downtown Disney where we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and visited the Lego store to let Frodo pick out a Lego set of his choice for his birthday. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of this. Nor do we have any pictures of our evening at the Arabian Night's dinner theatre. This was seriously cheesy and no one will ever go there for the food, but we loved it! You will also note an absence of pictures of Eowyn. She is notorious for not wanting her picture taken. I keep telling her that she needs to let me get pictures of her or when she's off on her own in the great, wide world I won't have anything to remind me of her. I managed to get one side view of her playing in the sand with Pippin at Cocoa Beach.

Our favorite day was the day we spent at Aquatica, the new water park by Sea World. We lazed around on the beach, played in the wave pool, rode numerous water slides and had the funnest day ever! I think the all around favorite was a lazy river type thing called Roa's Rapids. Think lazy river only much faster.We spent hours being swept around the rapids. Again, no pictures. Bummer. I guess we were having too much fun to snap photos. We were also constantly in water with no waterproof camera. Alas, we'll always have our memories.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Preparing for the New School Year

For some time I have not been altogether satisfied with the history portion of Ambleside Online. Don't get me wrong, what the ladies of Ambleside have done is wonderful. My problem is not with what is there, but what is not there. My issue is that Ambleside begins ancient history with the Greeks which leaves out thousands of years of ancient history. Where is creation? The world-wide flood? Egypt? The Exodus? Whare are the Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes and Persians?

I had been ruminating on this for awhile and began to pray that God would lead me to the right path for our children's education. Then the latest issue of "Answers" magazine arrived and in it was an advertisement for the biblically based history curriculum by Diana Waring called "Ancient Civilizations and the Bible: From Creation to Jesus Christ". Eureka! My prayers have been answered! I ordered it and waited patiently for it to arrive. When the box finally arrived on my doorstep I was giddy with excitement while opening it. Now that I have looked it over, I am very pleased with the scope of topics covered and the biblical world-view from which they are covered. This book will make an excellent spine from which to build our curriculum for the coming years.

Mrs. Waring does an excellent job of writing in a conversational style which totally fits in with our Charlotte Mason school. My plan is to divide the book over two years. This coming year we will be cover the first six chapters, devoting six weeks to each. I will be using this as the starting point and adding other books to our readings that fall in line with our educational philosophy. Since Ambleside's coverage of this time period is nonexsitent, I will have to purchase a few books to go along with our study of ancient history. However, the following year, we will cover the last three chapters - Greece, Rome and the Life of Messiah. I will, at that time, be moving us back to many of the Ambleside books that we already own.

Be on the lookout for our schedules and progress in the coming months.