Friday’s Factoid 32 (by Titus and Joel)

We are studying about astronauts. There are astronauts in space right now on the International Space Station. We have seen it flying over Hawaii. You can see it fly over your house too if you look it up on the internet (Joel 7 1/2).

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The astronauts in space are mostly doing science experiments. We did more science experiments this week too. We learned about a law called inertia and how fire needs oxygen and how heated up air particles can make things move (Titus, 9).

Teacher’s Two-Cents (by Mom)

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To kick off our space travel and technology unit, we took a little field trip to see our neighbors, Dick and Linda. Dick is a retired helicopter pilot and therefore, the closest thing to an astronaut in our neighborhood. And according to my boys, helicopters are almost as cool as rockets and definitely worth learning a thing or two about. So armed with a page full of questions and empty tummies (gotta have room for Linda’s yummy homemade cookies), we headed next door for a lesson in “lift.” This is the second time we have done an interview/lesson with one of our elderly neighbors and it is a practice we will definitely be continuing. Not only do our boys gain valuable information, the older folks seem to genuinely enjoy being put in the spot light for a while and having their wealth of knowledge and wisdom tapped. Next time you are tempted to just Google a subject for answers, think first if there isn’t some older person in your life who might be an “expert” in that field. I guarantee you’ll walk away richer and wiser for the experience and you’ll leave someone else feeling a little more valued. That’s way more than an hour spent surfing the web could ever offer.
(For more on building relationships with seniors click here).


Friday’s Factoid 31 (by Titus, Joel, and Nate)

We started learning about space travel. We learned about rockets and the Space Race with Russia. Russia sent a little dog named Laika into space in a rocket and everyone loved Laika but Laika died because the Russians didn’t know very much about staying alive in space (Joel, 7 1/2).

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We did lots of science experiments this week. We turned water upside down and it didn’t spill and we tried to drink water through straws with one straw in the cup and one straw not in the cup. That doesn’t work at all. We hung balls from a string and blew in between them and they banged together instead of blowing apart (Nate, 6).

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Yesterday was a Solar Eclipse. We used special glasses to watch it and we made a special viewing box that made a picture of the sun on a screen so it wouldn’t hurt our eyes (by Titus, 9).

Our Hawaiian/American/Japanese/Canadian/Mexican “Boys Day” Celebration

We bought a Hawaiian calendar as soon as we moved here and the first thing we noticed was how it was full of holidays we’d never heard of. They celebrate everything here, including a Japanese holiday called “Boys Day” which falls on May 5 and consists of the eating of sweet rice Mochi wrapped in a Japanese oak leaf (apparently you’re NOT supposed to eat the leaf. Now we know.) and the hanging of windsocks shaped like carp fish to represent all the manly males in your house.
This year we hosted a Boys Day party and it was a true multi-cultural affair. Our Japanese friend brought the Mochi (minus the leaves this time) and taught all the boys how to make origami carp while they munched on very carpish-looking Swedish Fish candy.

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Then we partook in a good-old American hot-dog BBQ. This was followed by a rowdy game of floor hockey in honor of our new friends on vacation here from Canada.
And of course, we couldn’t just ignore the fact that this was also Cinco De Mayo so we finished off the festivities with a pinata. We made it shaped like a puck and the boys whacked it around on the ground with their hockey sticks until the candy came flying out. So here’s to boys and “Thank you, Lord for them!”

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My Token Post on Homeschool Socialization

Last Friday I mentioned that our boys were too busy socializing to get any schoolwork done. I decided this was a topic worthy of it’s own post since this blog is to be a record of our school year and the most important aspect of any education is, according to some, socialization. At least that is what comes across through most of the conversations we have with people who disagree with our particular method of educating.
The fact is, years ago before we had even started homeschooling, I had very clear ideas of how I thought my kids ought to be socialized. We lived in a very nice suburban neighborhood across the street from my sister, whose children I considered very appropriate influences for my own and we attended a church where all the other families either homeschooled or were planning to, just like we were. God in His providence moved us away from that seeming utopia to a little cabin in the woods surrounded by nothing but mountainous forest terrain and wild creatures of every kind. Here, there was nothing to influence our impressionable boys but wild animals and the weather. I actually considered this an improvement to our former conservative, Christian suburbia.
Our next move kept us in the mountains but this time we were smack dab in the middle of a Christian camp right next to the chapel where we were lullabied to sleep by live worship music every night. Now this was a slice of heaven, I thought. The best of both worlds. Surrounded by natural beauty AND God’s people at every turn. I really couldn’t think of a better environment to raise children in and I was frankly, quite proud of myself for having discovered it.
So the Lord decided to humble me by promptly plucking us up and putting us down in the very last place on earth I would ever deem fit to raise up God-fearing, flag-waving, self-reliant mountain men: an ocean-front resort community on the Big Island of Hawaii. Not another Christian in sight from our third-floor, golf-course-view condo. But we do have a small view of the ocean. And the ruins of a heathen temple formerly used for human sacrifices. Not exactly family friendly digs, but surely 9 months of this couldn’t damage them permanently. Fast forward 2 years and yes, we’re still here. And yes, I’ve been humbled (at least in this regard). And yes, my boys are absolutely thriving in a situation I never would have chosen to place them in.
Now about that socialization thing. As soon as we arrived we found a nice, healthy, family-oriented, AWANA-hosting, Bible-believing church and figured we had the social thing settled. But the Lord soon showed us, that as comfortable as we were, this was not to be our crowd. Instead He led us to the oldest church in Hawaii. And I don’t mean “oldest” because 99% of the congregants had grey hair, which they do, I mean “oldest” because this literally was the church that the first missionaries who arrived to the islands planted by permission of the king almost 200 years prior on that very spot. So there our boys sit, Sunday after Sunday, the only children in the building, singing hymns and reciting liturgy alongside these dear, grey-headed saints. Again, not most parent’s ideal social setting for little ones.
Which brings us to Friday and our boys being too busy “socializing” to get their school work done. Our oldest son, Titus, had a play date at the tennis courts. He plays doubles there Mon., Wed., and Friday mornings with some of his buddies that live here in our condo complex. One of Ti’s favorites is Al, with whom he shares a birthday. They are exactly 90 years apart to the day. Bob is 92, Tim is in his 70’s and recently widowed, and Phil, who tragically lost his own son at a young age, is about 60. The great thing about Tim and Phil is they aren’t just good for a tennis match, they like to play everything: catch, soccer, badminton, golf, whatever the boys are up for. They’ve even shown up at the boys’ hockey games (Yes, like many homeschoolers they also participate in a team sport). Tim also hosts awesome beach bonfires and puts on the best fireworks shows ever. There are other great friends around here, too, like Dick, the retired helicopter pilot who’s a pro at teasing and Shirley, their adopted great-grandma who keeps her fridge stocked with treats just for their visits. These are just some of our neighbors and friends. They are the people our boys interact with every day and because they are all retired and mostly all alone they have a lot of time and attention to spare.
But lest you think our poor boys have been assigned solely to the geriatric section of society know this: while Ti was playing tennis with the “old guys” the other boys were enjoying some pool time with their friend, Sei, and the day before Ti and Joel were playing doubles with 2 boys from France. And the week before it was soccer every day with Bailey from Washington. And the week before that it was football every day with Alexi from Russia. And the week before that Joel was begging me to teach him more German so he could talk to some kids visiting from Germany. We are surrounded by vacation rentals so every week there are new kids coming and going from all over the world. The only two other families that live here full time are Japanese and have one boy each which brings the boy count around our place on any given day to 6. This makes for about as lively and vibrant a social setting as any mom can tolerate.
So through these rather unusual circumstances this is what I’ve learned about homeschool socialization. The real fact of the matter is this: God loves my kids even more than I do and only He knows the plans in store for them and the experiences that will best prepare them for their life’s work. My goal can’t be to make them like a particular “brand” of person by socializing them with people who are exactly like I want them to be. My goal has to be to be pliable enough for God to use as He makes them more and more like who He wants them to be. Any kind of socialization is a failure if it doesn’t serve to make our kids more like Christ.

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Snorkel Under the Stars

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Just past the condo complex we live in is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the Big Island. On any given day the beach there will be packed with hundreds of people getting there first glimpses of sea turtles, eels, crabs and a hundred kinds of brightly colored tropical fish. All our boys have learned to snorkel there and every time they go they see something different. Lately though, they’ve figured out that the dark hours of the night are not just for sleeping and stargazing, they are for snorkeling, too. But for these starlit snorkel outings they head the opposite direction to another spot where the manta rays are known to congregate. These giant creatures have a “wing” span of 6-20 feet and feed on the plankton attracted by the spotlights of the snorkelers. For a small fortune you can pay to be taken out on a boat equipped with spotlights and snorkel gear right out to where the mantas are. Or if you are super adventurous, you can swim from shore through the dark (and Mom’s quite certain, shark infested) waters which is of course, the method my dear husband and our two oldest boys prefer. Last week, Joel came back from his first manta swim all excited because not only was there a big one circling all around him but the “water was full of twinkling lights,” too. No, the stars hadn’t fallen into the sea. He had just encountered a host of tiny, bioluminescent creatures. How awesome that our God chooses even the darkness of night to reveal his splendor, not just through the vastness of space but even to the depths of the sea. As this week’s memory verse beautifully states, “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them.” -Nehemiah 9:6

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Friday’s Factoid 25 (by Titus, Joel and Nate)

This week we learned about galaxies like the Milky Way. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. Only spiral galaxies can support life and only on the outer arms. That is where our solar system is (Titus, 9 1/4).

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We learned about the different shapes of galaxies. We made our own galaxies with glitter and glue. Mine was a spiral galaxy and so was Ti’s. Nate’s was a barred spiral galaxy and Sam’s was an irregular galaxy. There are also elliptical galaxies but nobody made one of those (Joel, 7 1/20.
We made Sombrero Galaxies out of tortillas and beans and sour cream and cheese. Our friend Sei made one, too. Then we rolled them into burritos and ate them (Nate, almost 6!).

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Teacher’s Two-Cents (by Mom)
Great place for a messy project.

Great place for a messy project.

With a house full of boys I don’t have a whole lot of glitter in my life. So when I planned this galaxy project I thought we were safe doing it outside on the picnic table. All of you glitter veterans out there are probably laughing at my ignorance. That stuff is a true scientific wonder. The makers of germ warfare should use it as a model. I’ve never seen anything spread so quickly or so thoroughly onto and into every square inch of our persons and household. And showering doesn’t help either. It even showed up on the Sombrero Galaxies we made later. One of our neighbors joined us for that project. The boys taught their friend, Sei, all about galaxies and Sei’s mom gave them their Japanese lesson in return. A great trade off, I think. I started out teaching the boys German with plans to move onto Latin, because that’s what I knew. But the Lord moved us all onto an island in the middle of the Pacific and now they are learning Hawaiian and Japanese instead, two languages I know nothing about. I have no idea how God is planning on using these languages in their future but I’m sure He has something in mind! Oh, and by the time Sei and his mom left they had glitter on them, too.

Friday’s Factoid 20 (by Titus and Joel)

The winds on Saturn blow over 1000 miles an hour. That is faster than the speed of sound. Saturn’s winds are so strong because it is spinning so fast. It rotates faster than any other planet except Jupiter and takes only about 10 hours to make a day. But it takes 30 Earth-years for Saturn to orbit the sun (Titus, 9).
Saturn has over 30 moons. Some of the moons are in Saturn’s rings and they are called the shepherd moons because they help keep the rings in the right place. Saturn has thousands of rings and they are made of ice and rocks and dust and are not very thick (Joel, 7 1/2).

Teacher’s Two-Cents (by Mom)

The boys had so much fun experimenting with the “soap that floats” during our study of the gaseous planets that I decided to throw another sudsy experiment their way. This time we put liquid dish soap in the blender with about 10 parts water and gave it a lengthy whirl. The result was a thick, foamy slime just perfect for smearing around. I made enough batches to fill a sand pail full for each of the boys and cut them loose with rags in the kitchen, bathrooms and tile hall ways. To make it easier, I cleared all our counters first and had the boys put socks on their feet for extra skating traction. After about 45 minutes of slippin’, slidin’ and scrubbin’ I gave them all dry towels to go over the surfaces again with. Spring cleaning and science fun in one! The boys had a blast and our kitchen and bathrooms have never been sparklier.

Friday’s Factoid 19 (by Titus and Joel and Nate!)

Saturn is the “Ivory Soap Planet” because if you put it in water it would float. We did a science experiment with different kinds of soap to see which ones would float in water. Only Ivory did because it has gas bubbles inside. Saturn is a gaseous planet and is less dense than water so it would float, too (Joel, 7 1/2).
We put another bar of Ivory soap in the microwave to see what would happen. We all made a hypothesis. I thought it might disappear, Joel said it would explode, Nate said it would melt, and Sam said it would get bubbles. Then I remembered that air expands if it gets hot so I changed my guess. Mom said that was okay (Titus, 9).
We took the soap out of the microwave and it was all puffed up like a cloud. It was bigger than the plate. It stuck to the sides of the microwave. We played with it and turned it into snow. We made a big mess. But it was soap so Mom said it was a clean mess (Nate, 5 1/2).

Star-light by Lava-glow


Our favorite vacation spots are America’s National Parks. The daughter of a Park Ranger, I grew up exploring these wonderlands and was determined my children would have the opportunity to do the same. Thankfully, having a husband in the teaching profession has afforded us plenty of vacation time to indulge this dream. Of course, this same profession has also afforded us an extremely limited budget that really only allows for the kind of rustic adventuring these parks and other wilderness areas have to offer. I must say we have become quite the masters of low-budget adventuring. Money (or rather the lack of it) has never been something we let stand in the way of showing our boys God’s amazing creation.
When we moved to Hawaii I rather thought we would be giving up our wilderness adventures. But that’s because I didn’t know all the Big Island had to offer. Our favorite family outings here are definitely those made to Volcano National Park, especially if we have the opportunity to stay overnight and witness the lava-glow by star-light. This past weekend provided the most spectacular display yet.
I’ve told many people that the hike from the Kilauea Military Camp to the Jagger Museum Lookout along the crater rim is the best kids night hike in the world. As long as you STAY on the trail! The path, which follows the edge of the crater (which is why you want to stay on it lest you plummet to your death!) is relatively level most of the way and starts out in a clump of rain forest which quickly gives way to vast openness with nothing but darkness on one side, the glow of lava from the crater on the other side and a vast expanse of night-sky stretching over the black Pacific over-head. It’s a great hike in the day-time too, but not nearly as adventurous!
Friday night was foggy but we thought we might get a glimpse of the glow anyway so we all (including Oma and Opa) set out with flashlights through the trees. Pretty soon we couldn’t see the rain forest for the rain. Our fog had turned into a cold, dense drizzle and there was no glow in sight. The boys were eager to keep going though, so we thought we’d just continue on to the little overlook about half way up the trail. The only way to find the overlook in the dark is to look for the trail crossing our path and turn left on it so we kept our eyes glued to the ground for most of the last stretch till we finally saw the crossing and walked out to the railing. The presence of the railing by the way, is the only thing that makes this an official overlook. The rest of the crater rim is wide-open, just beckoning some poor-unsuspecting soul to fall in. We all stood there looking into the thick wet cloud and seeing nothing but a thick wet cloud when we heard a sound like distant thunder, and then another boom and another and another. It was the volcano! We couldn’t see it but we could sure hear it! Pretty cool and definitely worth the hike!
The next night was foggy again so we skipped the night hike, but when I woke up at 2 in the morning, it was a clear, star-filled night overhead and the whole sky toward the crater was ablaze in orange. Great star-gazing AND lava-glow at the same time was something I couldn’t resist pulling the boys (and Dad) out of bed for. Of course, Oma and Opa heard the ruckus and being the troopers they are, came with us. This time we drove to Jagger Museum which was deserted this time of the night and we had the whole viewing platform to ourselves. The stars were insanely bright and bountiful but it was the more terrestrial glow that had us riveted. And there was that volcanic sound again! Only this time it was constant, like the roar of the ocean. Truly awesome and even a little terrifying for our 3-year-old.
The whole time I kept repeating to the boys, “Imprint this on your brains. Never, never forget this moment, and never, ever forget the Awesome God that made this.” Thank you Oma and Opa for making this memory with the boys and for being good enough sports to leave your cozy beds at 2 AM to go stand on the rim of a volcano and join in the Doxology to our Creator with us and not even complain about it the next morning! You two are great!

Just a Reminder…

We’re on break right now, but I wanted to share a few things this week.
#1- There are lot’s of people out looking at Christmas lights this time of year and many miss one of the most spectacular light shows of all —The Geminid Meteor Showers which should be peaking tonight. So get out there and look up. No store-bought tree or decked-out rooftop could ever compare to the brilliance of God’s night sky. Follow this link for more info on where and when to observe.

Yet another great use for old calendars...

Yet another great use for old calendars…

#2- The ladies at the deli counter of our local Asian food market created some fun decorations that we took immediate notice of because of their celestial theme. So here’s our attempt at some Calendar Page Stars as we say goodbye to this year and prepare to usher in the next.
The finished product...

The finished product…

#3- With so much emphasis on the birth of Christ we sometimes forget the other message of Advent which is that He is coming again, and next time not as a helpless baby but as Creator and King of the Universe. Here’s some special memory work we’re focussing on during our break:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who desires take the water of life without price… He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. COME, LORD JESUS! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. AMEN.” -Revelation 22:16-21