Archives for September 2013

Living History Farm & Des Moines Science Center

We found two very fun and educational field trips in Des Moines. The first was Homeschool Day at the Living History Farm. We’ve been to several living history farms and this was by far the most authentic and had the largest scope. We visited farms from 1700 (Ioway Indians), 1850 (pioneers), 1900 (horse-powered), and the 1875 town of Walnut Hill.



Filling Ben the Horse’s bucket with dry field corn to crack for feed.


Not too clear, but the kids got to jump on the hay in the hay loft. Fun!!!


Thinking of uses for those cobweb-laced tools?



The town, as well as the rest of the farm, was charmingly authentic. There were no annoying ropes up around the furniture, etc. to keep kids out. They got to experience each building as if they were living there.


The broom maker’s shop. They actually sell the brooms they make here!


The blacksmith shop—really working to make spikes.


The millinery was one of our favorites—beautiful ribbons and flowers for hats and dresses, with a charming dressmaker to tell us how she creates her specialties.


The print shop, where they really print brochures and flyers using authentic equipment.


These little guys were cute beyond words. I guess the one on the end didn’t want to pose along with the others.


We loved how all the town’s “residents” (docents) were actually hard at work. It was  HOT day and this lady was out in the garden really pulling weeds, in her bonnet and big dress.


Time for school!


If you get Sweet Pea’s newsletter, you’ve seen a picture similar to this—anyone spot all the differences there?



Super fun all day!!

Our second field trip was to the Science Center of Iowa . Plenty of hands-on opportunities to learn about physics concepts, rocketry, native Iowa animals, fluid dynamics, and more! IMG_2388



Balls floating on air!


I never did figure this one out, but the kids did!


These were giant “air drums” that could be aimed at the wall of hanging medallions in the background, so that we could see where the air “hit” as the medallions wobbled.


Constructing dams!


Building rockets!


Launching rockets!


So much fun in one day! We were surprised at all Des Moines had to offer, and I’m sure there was much more than what we saw—fun city!


Summer’s ending…

While visiting Des Moines, we stayed at Timberline Campground, just outside Des Moines in Waukee.



Some highlights:

…enjoying and observing nature…


(Anyone know what these little buggers are?)


…making ourselves home at Whole Foods…



…finding a local Awana club to visit for the first meeting of the year…


…visiting the house Chad grew up in…Ankeny, Iowa…


…just hanging out…



…soaking-in the midwest sunsets…


…visiting the brand-new Hyvee grocery store and being amazed at some of the unusual foods we found…


…seeing the sights…



…being the only ones at the ice skating rink…


We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed Des Moines! Two very fun field trips gave our visit the extra boost. Where did we go? Next post….


Our Three Month-iversary and FAQs

We’ve been on the road three months!

To celebrate, I thought I’d answer some of the questions we’ve been getting on the road. (Then I’ll get caught up with the rest of our August activities!)


Q. Where are you from?

A. We are from Monument, CO. It sits on the foothills on the Palmer Ridge, between Denver and Colorado Springs, has very odd weather at times, is beautiful and growing like crazy, and has some of the nicest people we know!

Q. Where are you going next?

A. Our summer was loosely planned, based around 1) leaving Colorado, 2) reaching Asheville NC to see my brother and his wife, 3) attending the Answers in Genesis mega-conference in Sevierville, TN in Juy, and 4) getting back to Colorado in October for my niece’s wedding.

Beyond that, on the way to NC, my parents were along and were very helpful in suggesting fun places to visit based on their many road trips over the years. They love to get off the beaten path and have found some gems along the way. They still make great suggestions for wherever we are along our route.

Our winter plans are, well, non-existent at this point, but it’s time to start looking, and it’s got to be somewhere warm (at least warmer than Monument!) Any suggestions?

Q. How do you select campgrounds?

A. The process of finding specific campgrounds has usually been: find a city or general area we want to visit, search Google maps for campgrounds in the right area, check out the campground’s website for overall feel, price, wifi, etc., look at RVParkReviews and Woodall’s to see what other campers have experienced, check the Verizon coverage map to make sure our internet card will work, call the campground to make sure they have room. If something doesn’t look good on any of these steps, it’s back to the top until we find just the right place!

Q. What about school? Are you homeschooling your kids for the year? (This is often followed by…”I could never do that” and sometimes by “that’s really great”, “I admire you”, or “I wish I could homeschool my kids”)

A. Yes, we were already blessed to be homeschooling them, and they are learning all year round, whether we’re traveling or not. As for the follow-up question/statement, I am not specially patient or gifted or specifically trained to homeschool. But I know exactly where my kids are academically, I pray for patience and wisdom often, and I use the amazing resources available to anyone who feels called to homeschool. We love being with our kids and watching them learn, even on those hard days homeschooling sometimes seems to invite. It is a humbling and daunting responsibility to guide our children’s education and we feel blessed to be able to do it!

Q. “Do you use a curriculum, or…?”

A. I’m known as the Homeschool Gypsy in some circles, so it’s always something different…. Here’s what we’re doing this year: staying flexible with our schedule and opportunities to learn from the places we visit, our “formal” school time consists of math (switched to Math Mammoth this year—it’s downloadable and affordably priced), spelling (Spelling Power), lots of great books in a Charlotte Mason style (Living Books Curriculum), penmanship (yes, I still feel it’s important even though many schools aren’t teaching it; we’re practicing on quotes, Bible verses, etc.), and are looking forward to starting Answers Bible Curriculum in a few weeks (meanwhile, studying Kay Arthur’s Digging Up the Past together, along with Jesus Calling for Kids). Also, when the iPad app is available, we’ll be learning the Classical Conversations Foundations Cycle 2 grammar work.

I’ll write a separate post about the supplemental items we use, but some of them are: Kahn Academy, Dance Mat Typing, PyScripter, What’s in the Bible and Mathtacular DVDs,

Q. “How can you afford this?” or, even better… “Are you retired?” Aaaack…I had to go check my gray hair after we got this one…

A. This question usually goes with the assumption that full-time RVers are retired, which is a reasonable conclusion since most are not working. But we are still a ways from retirement age and generally like to work, so we’re still doing on the road what we were doing at home. I’m still teaching the children and managing our home, Chad is teaching business courses online as well as being an entrepreneur here and here.

Q. What do you do about mail?

A. We use a mail forwarding service, America’s Mailbox. So, we now have a South Dakota address, even though we haven’t even been there on this trip! All of our mail goes there, and we let them know when we are at one location for long enough to get the mail from them to us. So far, it’s been a great option. Doing it over, though, I might try to talk a relative or friend into receiving all of our mail and just forwarding to us what we need.

Q. What about healthcare?

A. We had been paying pretty high premiums for high-deductible insurance since the time Chad transitioned to a “non-traditional” job. When we decided to hit the road, we also decided to try Medishare, a Christian medical cost-sharing option. The monthly cost is much less and it’s basically major medical, although they are very clear it isn’t “insurance”. All I can say so far is that, thank the Lord, we haven’t had to use them much, but when I did have a reason to call, I was pleasantly surprised by the encouraging support I received, including a heartfelt prayer at the end of the call.

Okay, now it’s your turn!! What questions do you have for us? Ask away; I’ll be happy to answer!