Posted in Family

Aloooooha!

We used our Spring Break to go to Oahu, Hawai’i.

Oahu, Hawai’i

This was such a big deal for our family. We had NEVER experienced a family vacation before. We had some memorable camping trips, but never traveled out of state all five of us for FUN.

The kids had been asking me to go to Hawai’i for a while, since we learned about the 50 States. I had told them they needed to learn how to swim. And they did. I was overdue in keeping my word!

We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the income that AK Exploring Studies provides. Through it we paid for everything and took this vacation DEBT FREE. No worries on the way there, no worries on the way back. This truly helped it to be a family vacation we’ll never forget because my husband and I were so relaxed, I think the kids got to enjoy a different version of us than the ones they get at home.

Teaching the kids what waves are good for!

We stayed in Waikiki, near the beach. We had plenty of days just walking to the shoreline to get all salty and sandy. We discovered a beach we liked just a little south, called Kapi’olani Regional Park and did some boogie boarding there.

But the home educator mom in me couldn’t just … beach lounge… so we did a lot of learning activities too. Like the Waikiki Aquarium, on a “rest day”.

Caleb was fascinated with their resident Monk Seal.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the highlight of our entire trip there. A must go. We pulled out all the stops and paid for an “Ambassador Prime Rib Buffet” deal. Every show and attraction was phenomenal and my kids loved every “island” we visited (well, it didn’t look like Caleb enjoyed it, but that’s only because of sensory issues. Nothing the Center could’ve done; it was hot, and he’s Alaskan, he didn’t like it. He recalls only wonderful things from there!). The event that made the price totally worth it (more than half a crab and prime rib buffet dinner) was the Ha’ Breath of Life show. It moved me to tears. Like, I know you don’t want to fall into tourist traps where you wonder “Is this really worth the money?” so I’m here to tell you: YES! For two reasons: 1) You will never be able to “island hop” and get to know so many DIFFERENT Polynesian cultures for this price and 2) Every performer and employee is a foreign exchange student from the Island they represent. Your admission helps house and feed them while they attend school in Hawai’i in hopes of bettering their home.

We also did a whale watching and snorkeling tour. Go figure it was the only day that it was windy and rainy. The choppy waves led to some serious nausea and had I not been so sea sick I probably would’ve totally enjoyed their kalua pig buffet style lunch and four complimentary alcoholic drinks. They did, however, let us take home left overs and their food, microwaved a day later, was amazing.

The whales we got to see and the snorkeling experience made the experience worth it. Take it from someone who grew up snorkeling off the coast of Florida… It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

And it gave me the bug to snorkel some more (and take my poor husband on an enjoyable, definitely shark free trip) so we went on a date (that’s right! Kids stayed in the hotel!) to Hanauma Bay. This is the place to see fish if you are afraid to swim. You can literally see the fish from the sand. Find a spot that is knee deep and put on your snorkel – you will see very colorful fish and it will make it all worth your while.

More importantly, it was 9 days of no nagging, chores, homework, or grading. Literally no worries. A lot of snuggling, Pokemon Go, and sun burning. We met up with a church that meets at the beach called the Waikiki Beach Gathering thanks to Instagram and Hashtags and we worshiped together at the park that Sunday.

And I realize now that we need a God-ordained “Family Retreat” more often than we’ve done. Certainly can’t wait another 14 years of marriage to do that again. Probably won’t be able to go annually like my kids are asking. To be honest, I can’t wait to go back!

Posted in In The Classroom

Dress Up is The New Cosplay

Every time our organization does a costume themed day, I always challenge my students to take it one step further and make it a HISTORY day.

6th Grade

That’s right. Cosplay is no longer reserved for geeks at Comicon. I think this is a creative and expressive way to learn material! And in some places it’s the fabric of their culture. In Virginia there are civil war battlefields that do cosplay re-enactments with brilliant actors. In Hawai’i, the Polynesian Cultural Center is basically 80 Islands coming together to cosplay for tourists, using the funds to help foreign exchange students get a college education.

So the first day we had was “Dress Like a Book Character Day” in October, and all my students participated though not all were historical characters (although the T-Rex certainly argued that he was!). I had been teaching a lot about Egypt so I dressed as an Egyptian goddess and so did my daughter, but we never agreed on exactly which one we were dressed as. My oldest son was a Roman soldier and my youngest was a WWII Infantry soldier.

My Oldest, Anakin

Then we had crazy hair day in February. This was a chance to do cosplay only from the neck up. I had the 5th and 6th graders create laurels to wear for Ancient Greek Olympics Day which happened to coincide with Crazy Hair Day. End result is we wore laurels over our crazy hair while playing olympic games (the original pentathlon) and performing puppet Greek Drama.

Funny story: I decided to go “Viking” because that’s what we were learning in our 7-8th grade classes and I did my hair very braided and blonde (I was a brunette at the start of the school year)… And then felt like I couldn’t stop. Maybe I had seen enough of Lagertha on the History Channel to feel all brave and what not, but I decided to see what all I could do with black and gray smokey eye shadow, red lip stain, and my imagination. I did the fiercest warrior face and then completed it with bruising and bleeding because no legit shield maiden would look “pretty” after battle.

Well, can’t say I look a LOT better on regular days…

Problem was I scared a lot of younger students. Poor kids. And some parents were concerned about what kind of institution their kids were going to.

My class had fun with it. The older kids definitely got it.

Next problem was that I was so tired by the end of class I forgot what my face looked like. Ran to McDonald’s to buy something quick to drink, and then decided to be all healthy and ran to Carr’s for ingredients for dinner (instead of making McD’s dinner). I thought I was looked at a little weird by the people at the cash registers, but didn’t even realize what I had done until AFTER I got home, started my instant pot, took a nap, and woke up to a truckload of make up on my pillow.

And all the while, my children giggled hysterically.