10 for 10

Ten hours of reading for 10 hours of roller coasters and attractions at Silverwood Theme Park? When we heard about Silverwood’s Reading is the Ticket program through our local homeschool organization, it sounded too good to be true. But sure enough, K-8 students (homeschool and public school) have the chance each spring to earn a free ticket to the amusement park for reading 10 hours over the course of several weeks. The Younger Fives wasted no time in getting through their time requirement in a matter of days, and then the hard part came, waiting for the park to open for the season.

We chose the first weekend in June for our visit, the start of the longer hours and the water park opening. It’s safe to say we made the most of our day. The Younger Fives went on all the rides they were tall enough for, including some pretty serious thrill rides. Between hopping back and forth between adult and kiddie-sized coasters, we enjoyed the lush flower and plant life throughout the park and found plenty of shady, calm places to recharge. Five String and Five Spice didn’t hold back either and tried out some rides the kids weren’t quite ready for yet.

After several trips on every ride within the park, some clear favorites emerged…

Paratrooper – Longest, most enjoyable ride of any attraction. High and fast enough to be exciting, but not  jarring.

Frog Hopper – Rising and falling in the lap of a colorful frog. What’s not to love?

Roaring Creek Log Flume – Classic log flume with a big plunge at the end. Bystanders can deposit quarters to soak riders as they pass, which we learned the hard way.

Corkscrew – Great introduction to looping coasters. It was Five of Heart’s first trip up-side-down.

Also, some honorable mentions for Tremors, Tilt-a-Whirl and Scrambler. The latter two were boycotted by Five String due to his refusal to go on spiny rides and have the world rotate for hours afterwards, but the rest of the Fives thoroughly enjoyed both the rides themselves and the feeling of superiority.

By the time our 10 hours passed and 8 pm rolled around, we all were ready to call it a day. While we chose not to check out Boulder Bay (the water park) due to temperatures in the 50s, the weather held out and we had much more sun than originally anticipated.  The true mark of a successful day was when we asked the Younger Fives if they would come back again tomorrow for another round, and they all exclaimed “Yes!” in unison. Fortunately, for the Older Fives (feeling jolted and exhausted from experience), the tickets were good for only one day.

Banner Years

It’s that time of year again when we update our web site header, which sadly happens about as often as we update our Daily Snapshot on the home page. Instead of merely letting the old header slip away into digital oblivion, we thought we’d take the chance to look back at banners past and tell a little of their stories.

With each header, we try to show in pictures our family motto, “Living, loving, and learning on the fly” from the year to date. The first picture shows something about where or how we’ve lived, the middle is always a family picture, and the final picture offers a glimpse of what homeschooling on the road looks like.

2015
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We’ve covered a lot of ground this past year, journeying from Croatia to Germany on our roundabout Train Odyssey that took us through 13 countries in 15 days. The picture on the right of the header is from the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, a windy day indeed. The picture on the left shows our rental in Wyoming upon returning the the US. Though spring came unusually early to Star Valley this year, there were a few small storms that provided enough snow for us to make some smaller creations, just the size for the neighbor’s dog, Captain, to perch upon. The middle picture is from this past June in King’s Canyon National Park in California, where we spent a few days camping among the giant sequoia trees.

2014
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In 2014 we spent quite a bit of time south of the border in Mexico. The first picture is from Bahia Concepcion, just south of Mulege in Baja California Sur. We got our fair share of Vitamin D playing on the warm sand beaches and splashing in the water, and when we needed a break from the sun the palm-leaf palapas were just steps away. The right-hand picture is from our time in Chiapas, exploring Palenque and the many fascinating local flora and bromeliads. Finally, our family picture was taken from our back patio in Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula.

2013
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This was the year of exploring our neighbor to the north, Canada. The right picture is from the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. Having just returned to the mainland (more or less) from Newfoundland, we were practically living in our rain gear. Louisbourg was having an Archaeology Week when we visited, so we had a chance to get our hands dirty and learn about the process of uncovering, identifying, and preserving artifacts. The middle picture is from Prince Edward Island, where we spent the summer in Stanhope and biked to the red sand beaches every day. The left picture, truth be told, was a hold out from our previous banner.

2012
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In 2012 we sold our house in Maine and embarked on our first big adventure, driving the length of U.S. Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. We camped almost every night of our 2.5 month trip, which gave us many snapshots of “Living on the fly” to choose from. The one that won out was our awesome site right on the lake at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina. Some parts of the route had very few camping options, so that is how we ended up at the Jupiter Beach Resort in Florida and had occasion to get cleaned up and dressed up for a family photo. The final picture is in front of a chunk of coral at Biscayne National Park. Learning about the plight of coral reefs and humans’ impact on them was eye-opening to say the least.

And finally, the header that started it all….
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We created this in May of 2012, before we officially hit the road. From Maine to mangroves, we knew we were in for an adventure. However, we couldn’t have possibly dreamed or hoped that after 3 years, the adventure would still be going strong 🙂

Younger Fives Present a Halloween Goodie Bag: UNICEF Comic, Travel Interview, and Slideshow

A note from Five of Hearts about the comic: I wanted to make this comic because I wanted to spread the word about trick-or-treating for UNICEF. It was a lot of fun. Storyboard That was a great tool and really helped. And I am looking forward to making more comics to teach people about other things. We have created an online Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF page, and we hope you can help us support UNICEF!
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UNICEF Part 1

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UNICEF Part 2

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An Interview with the Younger Fives about Halloween, Poverty, and UNICEF

What is your favorite part of trick-or-treating on the fly?
High Five: I like having glow stick lights, all of the colors.
Five Ball: Well… I actually I jest like spending the time together and having fun.
Five of Hearts: I really like how each Halloween we are in a different place so we have new opportunity’s each Halloween.

When did you first notice that some kids have a lot and other kids have very little?
High Five: I saw kids who wanted to wash our Mazda 5.
Five Ball: La Paz. I saw kids washing cars.
Five of Hearts: In San Cristobal de las Casas I saw instead of kids playing kids were working. That is what really made me realize what poverty is.

How does seeing kids with very little make you feel?
High Five: Sad because they don’t do their school.
Five Ball: Sad because they don’t have a home.
Five of Hearts: It makes me feel very sad. And makes me want to do something to help them.

Why do you think UNICEF is important?
High Five: UNICEF helps kids have water, medicine, and food.
Five Ball:UNICEF helps kids.
Five of Hearts:Because UNICEF helps people have a better life.

 

The Fives’ Look at Halloweens Past

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¡Hola, Ola! (Hello Wave!)

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Over the course of two years of travel, we have worked hard to develop a pretty flexible routine that allows us to keep some semblance of work, school, sleep, and food normalcy as we pack up and go every month or so. As we arrived this week in Playa del Carmen, however, we’ve had to seriously rethink our normal routine. The reason being that our rental for the month is just a few short minutes from the beach by foot, and it is part of a condo complex with its own swimming pool. The call of the waves and water have made us all want to throw our routine out the window.

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As if the draw of the ocean itself wasn’t reason enough for the kids to want more beach time, they discovered two boogie boards in the apartment closet the first day that we arrived. Since then Five of Hearts and Five Ball are all about boogie boarding. They would happily spend all day riding the waves, and we have to literally drag them out of the water each day. As parents we know that balance is key, since sunburned, exhausted children do not make for a happy family. However, it is hard to say no to more beach time, and since we are only here for the month we are trying to take advantage of swim time while we can get it.

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So, for now we are basing our daily routine around the water and spending a little less time cooking big meals (sandwiches anyone?), and more in-depth home school lessons (practicing multiplication facts and spelling words is so much more fun while jumping waves!). As we head to a cooler and darker climate in a few short weeks we know that we have to take advantage of this amazing beach experience while we can. We have no doubt that our memories of our time here will remain long after we leave Mexico. And with the inevitable wipe outs we’ve all experienced in the waves, so will the sand hiding deep in our swim apparel.

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Slackline with a View

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Being a family on the fly, we need to be pretty choosy about the toys that travel with us. They need to be compact, fun for the whole family, and something that won’t get tossed aside after a few weeks. We recently discovered such an item through the Sparkling Adventures blog.  Imagine a portable tightrope that can be quickly and easily strung between two sturdy anchor points (i.e. trees) at a height just a foot or two off the ground. Called a slackline, it promises unlimited fun for the young and less-young alike. We got exactly what we bargained for when the Gibbon Classic Slackline we ordered finally arrived.

With our slackline in tow, we soon headed out to find a suitable place to walk the line. We first used the flagpole and laundry line pole in the backyard, and cranking the ratchet a few times it was ready to go in a matter of minutes. The surf was pounding a few blocks away though, and we soon decided to scout for a place right on the beach. A sturdy fence post and jack pine tree were perfectly placed for our next not-quite-high flying trip. Admittedly, we all needed someone nearby to help us balance, and some of us took the the sky more naturally than others, but overall we loved the challenge and couldn’t get enough of our new 49-foot fun rope.

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In the end, the allure of climbing a nearby seawall proved to be too strong to resist for the younger Fives, and they soon were conquering even loftier heights. In addition to climbing and jumping, “Mt. Fiji” had an impressive network of hollow spaces between the rocks that made excellent caves. We soon got used to seeing Five Ball and Five of Hearts disappear for minutes at at time only to pop out at some unexpected place in the wall. And best of all, Five String and Five Spice didn’t need to crawl in after anyone.

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As the tide started to come in, we eventually retreated from our place on the beach. Walking home, we couldn’t help scanning every tree, pole, and post we passed as a potential slàckline anchor. I guess it’s safe to say we’re officially hooked and will probably never look at a fence post the same way ever again.

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