Thursday, November 30, 2017

Salvation Army Bell Ringer {Volunteer Opportunities for Kids}

There are always a lot of volunteer opportunities for kids around the Christmas holidays.  One of the most recognizable ones is The Salvation Army Bell Ringers!  The money raised in the little red kettles goes to help local needs such as providing food and clothing to people in the community.  Rachel and I volunteered for a three hours time slot in front of Hobby Lobby in Lewisville.  

The Lewisville office of the Salvation Army is desperate for more volunteers and it it's not too late to sign up.  Just click HERE and find a time slot and location that works for you.  If you are outside of the Lewisville, TX area then click HERE and search for other bell ringer opportunities around the country.


Someone from the Salvation Army main office brought the kettle, aprons, and bells to us.  The sign stays stored just inside the Hobby Lobby for the next bell ringer.  The work was easy so it a great volunteer opportunity to do with your kids and family.  You just ring the bell, smile, and greet people as they enter and leave the store.  Usually people smile back and drop money in the bucket.  One person said that The Salvation Army had been a great help to her mom and she was happy to donate.  I was sad to see how many people looked rushed and stressed as they were out shopping so we tried really hard to be cheerful and wish them a Merry Christmas.  It was fun and we even got to let a few little kids ring the bell for us!


If you have a few hours before Christmas, please consider signing up to be a Salvation Army Bell Ringer.  Just click HERE and be a blessing to others in our community.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bucket List: LSU Game With My Dad

A few years ago, a friend challenged me to write a bucket list - a list of things I'd like to do before I kick the bucket.  Here is the Bucket List I wrote in 2014.  

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my dad has gotten tickets to LSU Football games.  I have such fond memories of going to the games with him.  I remember meeting up with some friends of his before the game and having so much fun tailgating.  I remember trying deviled eggs for the first time and loving them.  I remember sitting in the stands "watching" the game although when I was little that really meant watching people around me and occasionally watching what was happening on the field.   And asking Dad a lot of questions about the game, penalties, etc.

Last year, as Dad was talking about the football games for the season, I felt nostalgia for the fun I had had with him at those games.  They were such good memories and I missed that experience.  I realized that I hadn't gone to an LSU football game with him since I was in college and decided that I needed to add an item to my Bucket List - Go to an LSU game with my Dad (plus tailgate and eat deviled eggs).  

Unfortunately, we live about 9 hours away from him and we only travel home in July and December so we miss out on the entire football season.  Last year I tried to work out a way that we could visit on a game weekend but we already had conflicts scheduled on those weekends.  It was just too late to change things around and make it work.  So this year, as soon as the game schedule came out, I started talking to Dad to make plans to come for a visit on a game weekend.  He was a little hesitant to agree to it at first.  For the last couple of years he has been giving the tickets to my brother to use and he has just been watching the game on TV at home.  But he said if I came over there then he would go to the game with me!  I told him we also had to tailgate and have deviled eggs :)

With the game schedule and our kids' various activity schedules, we decided that it would be best for me to fly to Louisiana on my own.  Stuart had a lot going on at work and Nicholas had an important hockey game that weekend so it wasn't a good time for them to go out of town.  I was a little nervous about getting through the airport and flying by myself so I kept putting off actually buying the plane ticket but Stuart encouraged me on and helped me find the best itinerary.

The kids seemed excited to ride along to take me to the airport....


...until it was time for me to actually say good-bye and then this happened...


She broke my heart and it was hard leaving all three of them, especially since I was so nervous about just finding my way through the DFW International Airport on my own.  But I'm a big girl and managed to find my gate and get on the plane without a major incident.

The flight was nice.  It always amazes me to look down on the clouds!


I took this picture just to show the kids the way the gas and particles in the different layers of the atmosphere act as prisms to reflect and filter different wavelengths of light.


You know you must be in south Louisiana when you start seeing all of the curvy rivers cutting through the landscape.  


It was dark when we landed but I was able to snap this picture of the Baton Rouge skyline at night.


On game day, we had some breakfast and grabbed some deviled eggs from a local deli.  But somewhere along the way, we got a little behind schedule and ran into some heavy game traffic on the interstate.  We realized that we wouldn't really have much time to tailgate once we got to the stadium so Dad opened up the deviled eggs and started snacking on them while we sat in traffic.  He pointed out that it was just like tailgating.  We were eating in the car before the game and we were surrounded by other LSU fans.  Yep, just like tailgating....


We got to our seats just fine.  The weather was gorgeous.  The temperature was great.  And I was just giddy to actually be sitting with my dad in Tiger Stadium about to watch an LSU football game!


The LSU Golden Band from Tiger Land took the field before the game.  As usual they were amazing.  I teared up a little as I sang the LSU Alma Mater with my Dad but the rest of the music was just exciting!  Geaux Tigers!

The game was great and we won!  LSU 33 - ARK 10!!!


I am so glad that Dad agreed to go to the game with me and that we worked out the details to make it happen!  It was such a fun day and I had a great time with my Dad.  I love you Dad!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

STEM for Your Homeschool: Thinking Like an Engineer by Innovators Tribe {Review}

We've got Math, English, Geography, and History covered in our homeschool curriculum.  We do Science as well but it has been hard to find good STEM curriculum to challenge my children's "tinkering" natures.  We have been trying out a new program I discovered called Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.  It is a well-designed online course that provides interactive hands-on lessons and activities in science, technology, engineering, and math.  We have used the course for a few weeks but I've also looked ahead at the material to be covered in future lessons.  Nicholas and Rachel are having fun with the course and I'm excited to share this review with you.



Thinking Like an Engineer combines its own videos with videos from outside sources as well as hands-on activities for students to complete on their own.  The course is intended for students in grades 6-12 and it can be completed independently without much teacher prep, except when you might need to help them locate a few household supplies for their challenge activities.


Thinking Like an Engineer

The course begins with an Introduction to Engineering where students learn about different types of engineers, the challenge of engineering clean water, and the grand challenges of the world.  They worked on several challenges including the Tower Challenge.  


The challenge was to build a tower as tall as you possibly could with just four sheets of paper and one foot of masking tape.  My kids each built their own towers but it was fun to see them give each other pointers or brainstorm ideas together on ways to make the towers better.


The next section of the course is an Introduction to 3D Design.  Here is where we got to download a CAD program called Autodesk 123D Design!  It is a really cool program and the tutorials for the software are easy to understand.  Students will learn how to design a car rim in CAD!


The additional challenges in this section of the course include designing a piece of furniture in Autodesk 123D Design as well as designing an improvement on some regular household item like a stapler.  My kids love this kind of challenge!  Sometimes their ideas are crazy but other times they are quite amazing.

Next the course teaches about Mechanical Engineering and how to build rollercoasters.  This section has a really impressive challenge that includes students building their own rollercoaster with downloadable paper roller coaster tracks!

The course also covers engineering bridges and comes with a Bridge Construction software that students can download and use to design their own bridges.


There are just so many cool challenges in this program that innovative kids can't help but have fun with it.  In addition to the videos, software downloads, and hands-on challenges, the course also provides students with lots of book recommendations and additional video links to explore their areas of interest further.

Thinking Like an Engineer does not provide grades for students.  I'm having as much fun as my kids as we work through the course together and since I'm right there I know first-hand how they are each progressing through the material.  I could assign grades for them if I wanted to.  However, the course does include a Course Journal that you can have students complete to give some accountability.  

Innovators Tribe

The company that makes this course is called Innovators Tribe.  Their current products include Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.  They are currently working on a new course called Thinking Like a Carpenter which will be available soon.


Thinking Like an Engineer costs $149 for 18 months of online access.  However, you will also have access to several different kinds of software to download during the course and you get to keep these programs even after the course has been completed so your children can continue to use them and learn as they go.  PLUS, go to the Innovators Tribe website right now and snatch up 35% savings on any course.  Thinking Like an Engineer is usually $149 but it is only $96 with this sale price.  But this offer ends on 11/11/17 so hurry!

If you would like to read more reviews on Thinking Like an Engineer or for reviews on Thinking Like an Architect, just click on the banner below:

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

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