Friday, August 25, 2017

Poetry Tea Time - Eclipse Theme

My kids love our Poetry Tea Time, mostly because of the tea and treats but they enjoy the poetry readings once we get into it.  I try to have these formal tea times about once a month.  I usually have poems that follow a theme and sometimes I have themed snacks too.  This month we had an eclipse themed tea party!

For our treats, we HAD to have Moon Pies!


We also made some turkey and cheese stuffed crescent rolls.  Get it?  Crescent as in how the sun appears as the moon is passing in front of it during an eclipse. Also, Rachel found some fondant I had in the pantry.  If you aren't familiar with fondant, think of it as moldable icing or edible play-doh.  She decided to make little colorful moons complete with rocky and cratered landscapes.  I stand by my original thought which was, "This is just an excuse to eat icing!"


For tea, we each picked our own flavor.  I really enjoy Mountain Rose Herbs organic teas.  Their blends are so delightful!  And they have many options for caffeine-free herbal teas for my bouncy kids who do not need caffeine.


I've learned that my tea pot doesn't have much use at our tea parties because no two people want the same tea.  So I bought a couple of these individual strainers by Yoassi on Amazon.  I love them.  You just put a teaspoon of tea leaves in the strainer, put it in your cup, cover with hot water, and steep.  They have a very fine mesh so you don't get a lot of tea leaves in your cup, it stands upright in your cup, and once your pull out the tea strainer, the little lid can be used as a dish to hold the strainer so it doesn't drip on the table.


Ok, enough about our tea accoutrement.  On to the poetry!

Although this wasn't actually a poem, it was perfect for our tea time.  I read to them an excerpt from Old Stories From British History (published 1894).  The book is public domain and I found on Internet Archive here -- https://archive.org/stream/oldstoriesfromb03powegoog#page/n18/mode/2up


At the website, you should be able to scroll through the pages to find what we read.  It's at the beginning of the book. Lesson 2, pages 4-6 talks about how people used to make up stories to explain what an eclipse was before they understood the actual scientific reason for them.  My kids loved it.  I might have to read more of these stories to them.  They really seemed to enjoy them.

We also read aloud a poem called "Eclipse" by Lillian Harris.  Then I pulled out a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.  He has several poems that kind of fit with our theme such as "Summer Sun", "Escape at Bedtime" (about stars and constellations), "Night and Day", and "My Shadow".


Next month's tea time will be in October so of course a scary theme will be fitting for Halloween.  We will read poetry from Edgar Allen Poe and have some creepy treats for our tea time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Everyday Family Chore System {Review}

We have tried many ways to get the kids to stay on top of chores around the house.  However, they need a little more structure than what we have been doing.  I want them to consistently do more light cleanings each week instead of waiting until the kitchen is sticky and there are dust bunnies running across the living room floor.

I recently had the opportunity to read and review The Everyday Family Chore System by Everyday Homemaking.  The book was written by Vicki Bentley with the hopes of providing encouragement to parents and proving some tools to help us train our children to be responsible contributors to the family and to do so with a positive attitude.

The Everyday FAMILY Chore System
The Everyday Family Chore System is based on a Christian worldview.  It states that being responsible members of the family is not just a way for children to honor their parents but to also honor God.  Just as parents, we must submit to authority, have a servant's heart, and do everything without complaining, so must our children as they learn and grow into responsible young adults.

The Everyday Family Chore System is available in a print version for $19.99 and a pdf download for $15.99.  I reviewed the download version but printed it and bound it myself so I could underline and makes notes as I read.



Ms. Bentley writes that, "Children can only be reasonably held accountable if we can be confident that they know what to expect.  It helped me to put those expectations in writing to reduce the probability of a misunderstanding".  As a result, she offers many ways to create visual chore management system so that children can see which chores they need to complete by the end of the day.  One system uses clothespins with chore labels on them so that they can be clipped to a display with the corresponding assigned child's name.  The book even includes printable chore labels to put on the clothespins.  I love how easy that is!  But other ways to display assigned chores are mentioned as well.

One of the features of The Everyday Family Chore System that I really like is that it includes "How To Do It" cards so that after children have been trained on how to complete a chore, they can easily refer back to the steps they need to complete to be sure the job is done thoroughly and correctly.  I love this idea because often their idea of clean is something much different than my idea of clean.  These cards make sure that everyone is on the same page about what is expected to be done.


One challenge we had when our children were younger was trying to determine which chores were appropriate for each child's age level.  The Everyday Family Chore System includes a list of suggested chores for children starting as young as two years old.  Of course, each child is different so you may have to adjust this list some with your particular child in mind but it is a great place to start thinking about children's skill levels at different ages.


Not only does The Everyday Family Chore System help by giving you ideas for visually presenting a chore system for your children, but it also encourages parents by discussing the importance of children doing chores and being trained at an early age.  It also provides help on training a child's heart for service as well as suggestions on how to organize your home to be most successful in maintaining and clean and organized home.

Everyday Homemaking

Through September 5th, you can get 10% off The Everyday Family Chore System and Everyday Cooking by using the code TOS10books in your cart at checkout.  This discount applies to print and e-books.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review either The Everyday Family Chore System or the Everday Cooking books.  If you would like to see what other members had to say about either of these books just click on the banner below.

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dinner in Kansas City and Heading Home

It was the middle of the afternoon before the eclipse was completely over so there really wasn't enough time to start the eight hour drive home so we planned to stay another night and leave first thing in the morning.  We started to head to the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph.  But we were all kind of tired from the excitement of the day and none us seemed to want to go to a museum.  While we had pulled over to talk about what we could do instead, I jumped out to get a picture of corn against the sky.  There were a lot of corn fields in Missouri and Kansas.


We decided to just have a good hearty dinner and go to bed.  Stuart has been making some great BBQ at home and Kansas City is known for its BBQ so we made a short road trip to try a restaurant called Q39.  

We were kind of early for dinner but the place was PACKED!  We were happy to just get a seat and rest for a bit.


The food was melt-in-your-mouth delicious!


Definitely some of the best BBQ we've ever had.


On the way back to the hotel in St. Joseph, we stopped at this beautiful mural of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  We will be studying Lewis and Clark this year with Tapestry of Grace so I wanted to be sure the kids had a chance to see it.  It was really huge.  For perspective, if you look closely, you can see Rachel in a pink outfit up against the mural wall.


So I'm just realizing during this trip that I enjoy taking pictures of architecture and bridges.  I always have.  Some of my first "photo walk" pictures were taken of buildings in downtown Baton Rouge and I can't help but take pictures of the bridges every where we go.



We caught a little rain on the way back to the hotel but once it stopped, the sky was beautiful.


We got a good night's sleep and were up early for the breakfast buffet at the hotel.  It was quiet and not nearly as loud and packed as it had been just a day or two before when they had to set up an overflow room so guests would have a table at which to sit and eat.  It was kind of sad now.  I missed all of the excitement.

But we were happy to get back on the road and head home.  This isn't the best picture but I took it in Missouri.  I liked the little hills and the shadow that the clouds made on the ground.


The scenery got better though when a little later we saw two rainbows (the one on the right is very faint in the picture).



Ahh, home sweet home!  I was tired and so glad to get home.  I know Stuart was tired too since again he insisted on driving the whole way.


At one point I looked back at Rachel who was just sitting quietly and looking so sweetly at her Pink Baby.  Pink Baby was a baby shower gift so she has technically had her since before she was born.  She loves Pink Baby like the Velveteen Rabbit.  As she picked up Pink Baby to hug her, I noticed that she had been drawing a picture of her on the notebook she had brought.


We had a great trip to Missouri to see the eclipse.  There is just nothing like experiencing an eclipse in totality but all of the other activities we did were great too.

Monday, August 21, 2017

2017 Eclipse from St. Joseph, Missouri


This was the day we had traveled for!  The eclipse was finally here.  We prayed for a wonderful viewing later but the forecast was still holding at about a 30% chance of rain. To help cheer everyone up, we had some fun eclipse snacks...CapriSun, Sun Chips, Day/Night Oreos, Sunkist, Eclipse gum, and Sun Maid Raisins.  At least we would snack well in the storm!


I read the local paper and got all excited again.  We drove 8 hours to be a part of this amazing astronomical experience and a few clouds wasn't going to ruin it. Crazy Homeschoolers?  Yes!  


Unless the eclipse is in totality with the moon completely blocking then sun, then you should never look at the sun, even during an eclipse, without some special eclipse viewing glasses.  They block out a lot of the light which helps to protect your retinas from getting damaged.  You also should not take pictures with your camera directly pointing at the sun without some kind of similar protection or it can be ruined.  If the Nikon wasn't broken we would have gotten a nice eclipse filter for it.  However, I was stuck with 2 crummy cameras (hint, hint, birthday coming up, ahem!).  We were going to use the point and shoot to take video of shadow bands and we weren't planning to touch it.  It didn't need a filter.  But I was going to use my phone camera to take some pictures of the eclipse occurring. I created this makeshift contraption with an extra pair of eclipse glasses.



I didn't want to tape the eclipse lens onto the phone because I wanted to be able to remove it during totality so I could get pictures of the corona peeking out around the moon and then put it back on to take more picture once totality was over.  I secured the lens with two rubber bands.  This way I could just slide the eclipse lens down away from the camera lens during totality then slide it back up again.  I tested it a few times and sometimes a rubber band would pop off so I secured them with some tape.  It worked perfectly!

We had a phone app that tracked the eclipse and told us when it was starting, when we could take off our eclipse viewing glasses, etc.  It said that the first contact was happening so we excitedly put on our eclipse glasses and I used my phone contraption to take some pictures of the beginning of the moon covering the sun.



I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the picture and I was feeling down.  Granted the eclipse had JUST started and there probably wasn't much coverage yet anyway but all I saw through the camera was blurriness and I was wishing we had bought a new camera before coming.

But then to make matters worse, this is what I started capturing....lots of clouds!


There was heavy cloud cover but still a patch or two of blue sky.  There was still some time before totality so we tried to stay hopeful.


Then it started to rain.  I looked at Nicholas and couldn't help but laugh.  We were here to watch this amazing eclipse and there was my son standing under an umbrella looking at nothing but a grey sky!  Yes, we are crazy!  But interestingly, he had decided that he would take a time lapse video of the event using his ipad.  He didn't have a tripod so he secured it to the chain link fence and let it record.  


We gave up on recording the shadow bands and put that equipment back in the car.

At totality, the sky was still covered in clouds so we didn't get to see the corona.  But at 1:06 in the afternoon, we did get this stunning view as the sky got dark, the temperatures dropped, the horizon glowed, and the crickets started chirping.


There really was a 360 degree sunset on the horizon!


Look how dark it got in the middle of the afternoon!  Street lights automatically came on and we had a family of frogs that started croaking in the grass next to us.


Here is another video clip I took as it was darker now.  It was incredible to be able to experience this for 2 minutes and 40 seconds!


And here is the time lapse video that Nicholas took.  It is just impressive how dark it suddenly got and then everything went back to normal.


I was able to get one good still picture of the actual eclipse as the moon was on its way out of the shot.  One picture but it was so worth it!


It was cloudy and we didn't get to see the moon in front of the sun during totality.  Was it worth it?  You bet!  I would do it again in a second.  The next total eclipse will occur in 2019 over Chile.  Hmmm, if we start planning and saving up now.....

Other related posts:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse Frenzy in St. Joseph, Missouri

Our hotel includes a breakfast buffet.  We made our way down and the eating area was packed!  I guess that is to be expected when the hotel is booked to capacity.  But we also noticed that Mr. Mike Reynolds was speaking and answering questions.  Mr. Reynolds is a professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, FL and a photographer for Astronomy magazine.  He travels the world to view eclipses and this will be his 19th eclipse to see in person.  He and a group of about 100 people drove from Jacksonville to watch the eclipse in St. Joseph.  See, I told you this is THE place to watch it.  He was answering a lot of questions about what to expect during the eclipse and especially what to expect if it is overcast and rainy during the eclipse.


He said that they chose to come to St. Joseph after a lot of research on weather at this time of year in all of the cities in the path of totality.  They decided that St. Joseph would be the best chance for getting a great view of the eclipse.  However, there is a lot of clouds and possible storms expected for the eclipse.  Stuart talked to him about the idea of driving somewhere else along the path to get out of the cloud cover.  Mr. Reynolds told him that he would drive but there was cloud cover all over for the any of the cities nearby that were in the path.  Stuart did some research on other cities in the path of totality and compared them to the weather forecasts and found that we would have to drive 11 hours to get to Wyoming to be guaranteed a clear sky for the eclipse.  We decided to stay put and hope for the best.

There was a lot of excitement in the air about the eclipse.  Everyone was talking about it, there were signs about it everywhere, and the paper talked about the traffic concerns again.


There was even a musical revue about the eclipse.  We didn't make plans to see it but I would have liked to.


We found out about a series of speakers who were going to be talking about the eclipse at Missouri Western State University.  When we got there, I couldn't help but notice the license plates in the parking lot were from all over the country - California, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, New Jersey, Wisconsin.

The first speaker was Michael Bakich.  He talked about what an eclipse is and the prenumbra (partial eclipse) and umbra (total eclipse).  He also described the importance of seeing an eclipse in totality vs. just close to totality. He said that even the difference between 95% totality and 100% totality was huge.  If you were viewing an eclipse in an area that had 95% totality, the sky would be 50,000 times brighter than if you were in 100% totality and therefore the experience would just not be the same.  He said there was no reason to view a partial eclipse if there was any way that you could get to an area that had a total eclipse.

He talked about what specifically to look for during an eclipse.  These are effects that can only be viewed in the path of totality.  First he talked about the Diamond Ring.  Just a moment before the moon completely covers the sun and for just a moment as the moon starts to leave the sun, the light from the sun peaks out at one spot and against the dark sky and ring of light around the moon, it appears to look like a diamond ring in the sky.


Then he talked about Bailey's Beads which occurs right after the diamond ring.  As the light from the sun is almost completely covered, the little bit of light that is still visible is peeking out through the topography of mountains and hills on the moon. It appears as little beads of light.  It gets its name from an astronomer named Frances Bailey who was the first to see them back in 1800.


During a total eclipse, you might also be able to see the sun's chromosphere.  It is one of the layers of the sun's atmosphere and during an eclipse you might see it as a red rim around the moon.  I had not heard of this before!


Of course, the highlight of the total eclipse was to see the sun's corona shining in all of its glory against the dark sphere of the moon.  Corona gets its name from the latin word for "crown".  Wow!  That looks so cool!


We also learned what stars and planets might be visible once the sky gets completely dark during totality.


He also talked about the possibility of traffic problems from people coming to view the eclipse in the path of totality.  In the picture below the black line represents the path of 100% total eclipse.  12.25 million people live in a city along that path.  They get to walk outside their door and view the total eclipse in all of its wonder.  The blue line contains 47 million people, the yellow line 88 million people and the orange line 127.5 million people.  


If all of these people realize the incredible difference in their eclipse viewing experience that just a short drive can bring them then there could be massive congestion on the roads tomorrow!  And then there are all of the crazies like us that drive even farther for the experience.  He described what could be like a zombie apocalypse except zombies only want brains, not gas, food, water, and a place to park a car.  I'm so glad we get to just stay off the roads tomorrow!  


The next total eclipse will be going right through our town in just 7 years.  We are considering this our trial run so we will be better prepared with what to expect and be able to take some amazing pictures next time.


The next speaker was Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at the Franklin Institute.  He talked about the history of eclipses.  He said that we have been able to predict eclipses since about 2200 B.C.  He talked about people in the ancient past had all kinds of explanations about what an eclipse was and how mythology formed around the events.  He even talked about how Christopher Columbus used an eclipse to convince the natives that he had some kind of power to control the sky.


He pointed out that people today are more educated and connected to a solar eclipse than ever before because of the internet and social media.  People can easily use their smart phones to share their experiences with hundreds of millions of people.

The next speaker was Dr. Mike Reynolds who we had spoken to at our hotel.  He had a lot of technical information about how to photograph the eclipse.  For us and our crummy equipment, we were just going to use an extra pair of eclipse glasses over our camera lenses to protect the sensors.  During the actual totality we could remove the glasses and take regular pictures.  But Dr. Reynolds also said that if this is your first eclipse, don't stress over pictures.  Look around, notice the changes around you, talk to your family, enjoy the experience.  There will be plenty of great professional pictures of the eclipse that you can look at later.


Finally, the speaker that we were all waiting for...Bryan Busby, Chief Meterologist at KMBC Kansas City told us a little about what to expect from the weather during the time of the eclipse.  He started with explaining the times.


Eclipse Duration 2 hours, 53 minutes, 49 seconds
Totality will last 2 minutes and 41 seconds
The Eclipse will begin at 11:40
Totality will begin at 1:06:24, peak at 1:07:44, and end at 1:09:05
The Eclipse will end at 2:34:30

He also had a graphic to show the expected temperature and drop in temperature during actual totality. It shows a 16 degree drop in temperature for that short time while the sun is completely hidden behind the moon. 


We all wanted to throw tomatoes at Mr. Busby when he showed us this forecast showing clouds and 30% chance of storms during eclipse totality.  But he was quick to try to calm us by reminding us that weather changes all the time and as long as it isn't actually storming we should still have a wonderful experience even if we can't see the total eclipse due to clouds.  He said we will still see the world go completely dark, street lights will come on, crickets will start to chirp, the temperature will drop, and there will be a 360 degree sunset on the horizon.


Afterwards we caught up with Dr. Reynolds again to ask about our plan to use eclipse glasses over our camera and he reassured us that we did need to have some kind of protective lens over the camera or the sunlight would be so bright that it could ruin our cameras.


The speakers were just amazing and they got me even more excited to be in St. Joseph to view totality, even though the weather could turn out to be disappointing.  We headed to downtown to find some lunch.  There are a lot of old red brick buildings in town...and a van on top of a building!


We parked and as we were walking to the restaurant, the kids noticed some unusual features about the building.  There were doors with no stairs for access and what looked like arched windows or doorways on the street level that had been filled with brick.


Here is a window that looks out under this grate in the sidewalk.  How odd!


We chose a little comfort food from home today and had lunch at Boudreaux's.  The name should give it away - Louisiana Cajun food!


As I made my way up the steps, I noticed this little bitty window that again looked out under the grate on the steps.  WHY???


Ahh, crawfish, street lamps, and a Mardi Gras mask on the cover of the menu and a big tiger and LSU art work all around the restaurant.  It felt like home!


And the menu looked great too!  These are just the appetizers!!


I had some boudin balls.  They were good but could have had a bit more spice.  I imagine Missouri might not be used to real New Orleans spicy food so they have to tone it down a notch.


I ordered jambalaya with a side of jalepeno pasta.  They were both delicious!


On the way to back to the hotel, I noticed this building.  I love the round corner.  There is some neat architecture here.  I wish I had time to research the style and learn more about it.


As we drove around we checked out East Hills Mall and decided it really wasn't any better than the view from our hotel parking lot so we decided that we would just stay put tomorrow.  We also found a few places that welcomed visitors to come watch the eclipse.


Most private businesses had signed like this one below stating that parking was for their guests only and others would be towed.  Our hotel gave us a card to put on our dash stating that we were guests and allowed to park in their lot.  All other cars would be towed.  This had been one of my concerns when we were going to be driving to St. Joseph from Kansas City.  What place would let us just park and hang out for a few hours along with all of the other people that would be traveling there for the eclipse too? 


We made it back to the hotel in time for the 5:30 Kick Back!  It's a free dinner buffet at the hotel.  Like breakfast, it was very crowded and everyone was talking about the eclipse.  Check out this eclipse dress!  It reminds me of a dress that Mrs. Frizzle in the Magic School Bus book series would wear!  I love it.


One of the extra nice benefits of the 5:30 Kick Back is that it includes 3 free drinks from the bar.  Yep, that's a Tequila Sunrise.  I had to pick a sky-themed drink in honor of the eclipse!