Monday, October 24

Mountain Time (Joe Bonnamassa)

When we told the kids we were heading to Colorado, the only place they really wanted to visit was the Garden of the Gods.  Granted, they didn't really know what else was out there, but they had a one track mind on this.  So it was our number one 'must do.'
At the entrance of our parking area, there was a trail guide pointing out all of the various geological 'structures,' like the Kissing Camels shown in the second photo.  We had fun renaming almost all of them!
This was one of our last stops on the Colorado trip, and we had told the boys that it may not happen...you know...keep them on their toes a little bit.  So they were pretty stoked when we got there!
Ah, but the disappointment quickly set in when we made them get down and stop climbing.  Without a permit and (naturally) the correct gear, climbing is not allowed.  We had not come prepared to climb, but we did spend a long time watching the ones who had.


We spent a lot of time walking the trails and exploring the plant life in the area.  It's pretty different from what we're used to seeing at home and on our east coast jobs.  It was morning, not too hot yet, and the day was shaping up to be a beauty!
As we were leaving, we discovered the area that is set up for climbing.  We had watched the rock climbers from the trail, and the boys were a little disappointed that they weren't able to climb, so we let them crawl all over this area.  All four of us enjoyed that hour!!
What you can't see in this picture is that the oldest has just fallen off a rock and disappeared into.....well, apparently a mini-cave that he found.  
Isn't the view stunning??

Rocks & Minerals Unit Study

Thursday, October 20

Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)

As I’ve begun making my own home cleansing products in the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend among all the ‘recipes,’ namely that they use castile soap.  So I got a bottle and decided to try my hand at it.....and it was really much easier than I had feared!!

Maybe you’ve heard of castile soap, but aren’t really sure what you can do with it?  Here are several different options of how to use this one simple bottle (see extra notes below) :

  1. General Cleanser :  Mix 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon castile soap, 1 tsp borax, ½ tsp washing soda (NOT the same as baking soda), and lemon or other citrus essential oil (just a few drops) in a spray bottle.  Shake it up, spray it, and use as an all-purpose cleanser.
  2. Fruit and Veggie Wash :  Mix 1 tablespoon castile soap with 2 cups of water; shake it up, squirt it on, and use it to wash produce so that it will last longer and remove pesticide residue.
  3. Shampoo : Mix 1 tablespoon castile soap with 4 tablespoons of water (or mix up a spray bottle with that ratio).  Throw in essential oil (a few drops) for scent – rosemary is good for the scalp!
  4. Soft Scrub : Same ratio as shampoo, but without the essentialoils.  Sprinkle the spots you want to scrub with baking soda first and let it sit a minute.  Then, spray with soap solution and use a brush to scrub it all away.
  5. Carpet Cleanser :  Mix ¼ cup castile soap with  1 cup of water.  Scrub into carpet and let it soak, then scrub it out.  Does the same job, but without the harsh chemicals!
  6. Soap (for dish washing, body wash, or hand washing) :  Mix 1 cup castile soap with 2 cups water.  Shake up well and use as normal.
  7. Floor cleanser :  Mix 3 tablespoons castile soap with 1 gallon hot water.  Wash it suds up and work just as well as that harsh stuff you’ve been using.
  8. Laundry Soap :  Grab a gallon-sized ice cream tub for this one.  Mix 1 ¼ cups vinegar (white, not apple cider), 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda (NOT the same as baking soda), 1 cup borax, and ¼ cup castile soap.  You may also use a couple of drops of essential oil, if you want.  Mix them _in this order_ and stir, stir, stir.  At first, it’ll look like a big, goopy mess, but if you keep stirring, you’ll get a powdered detergent.  (And if you don’t keep stirring, you’ll get a rock hard mess when you go to use it.  Think of it as an upper body workout…)  Use ¼ cup for each load of laundry.  (No, I don’t know if it’s okay for HE washers or not.  But here is some information about that from someone who does.)
  • Two good brands of castile soap :  Natural Way and Dr. Bronner's
  • A note on spray bottles :  Glass bottles will not react with any of the ingredients, and just look nicer around the house.
  • A note on essential oils : As these are not going to be ingested, you can use a lower-quality one that is a fraction of the cost of the big name brands.  I recommend Plant Therapy, because they smell good, and we've had no skin issues from them.

Wednesday, October 12

Path of Thorns (Sarah McLachlan)

Our trip through Nebraska took us right by Chimney Rock.....the same one that we used to stop off at when playing Oregon Trail on the old Apple II-E.  
We also stumbled upon the Chimney Rock Cemetery...where many loved ones were lain to rest during the trek Westward.  The cemetery wasn't as full as we'd predicted, but there was probably hundreds of settlers lain to rest beside the trail in unmarked graves...

Oregon Trail Unit Study
Reading Resources
Check out all of our We Were There unit studies!

Thursday, October 6

Everybody's Got a Mountain to Climb (Allman Brothers)



At the park entrance are all fifty state flags.  It's quite a long walk to get to the trail that wraps around the mountain.  The day we stopped by was absolutely gorgeous....not hot or cold, beautiful Carolina blue sky...perfect day.
Inside the museum, you can watch a video about the sculptor (Borglum) and the history of Mount Rushmore, from inception to completion.  There are also several exhibits showing the various phases of construction and talking about the project from a geological standpoint.
We took the trail around the mountain, to get a closer look, and the boys worked on their Junior Ranger Program workbooks.  We love this program - they get a small token for completing the day's schoolwork!  This is the same spot on the trail where National Treasure 2 was filmed toward the end.
It's a pretty impressive mountain....you know that it's huge, but you can't really fathom just how big it is until you've stood underneath the faces.
“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can...their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were.” ~Gutzon Borglum

Mount Rushmore Resources