Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Senior Sunset

It's Tuesday, May 30th and the Desert High School Class of 2017 are spending their last night as high school students.  Tomorrow evening, seventy six students will hear their name called, will make the walk across the stage and pass their tassel from right to left and they will begin to start their adult lives. Some will stay in touch with each other and remain close friends many years later. Others they will only see at their high school reunions. Others they may never see again.

But tonight, they spent their last night together, hiking the hill behind the Edwards Fire Station and watching the sun as it set on the eve of one of the biggest events of their lives.

Good luck tomorrow to all these young men and women who, after 12 years of hard work, will being a new chapter of their lives as High School Graduates.

(Parents and Grads - please feel free to take any of these photos to share and for your own memories)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Learning about George Washington with YWAM (A Homeschool Crew Review)

There are certain school subjects most kids either love or they hate - usually math and history.  I personally struggled with history in school myself because lets face it, the way history is typically presented is downright boring.  Memorizing dates and names along with a very brief summary of an event that happened hundreds of years ago just doesn't tend to grab the interest of most students.

But what if there was a way to help your student learn about important figures in history without the dry textbooks?  For the last few weeks, the kids have been learning so much about the life of George Washington as we have been reading through Heroes in History-George Washington, one of the many books offered in the Heroes in History series from YWAM Publishing.

About YWAM Publishing:

YWAM Publishing is part of the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Ministries that was founded in 1960
and offers a large selection of quality books written about figures who's lives not only had a huge impact in history but also showcase how their faith helped shaped them and how God used them to make a difference in the world.  With books about Presidents such as George Washington and Ronald Reagan, great inventors like Thomas Edison, pioneers such as Davey Crockett or Meriwether Lewis , Civil Rights icons like Harriet Tubman, Sports icons like Lewis Zamperini and Missionaries such as Nate Saint and Corrie Ten Boom and even people like Ben Carson who are making an impact today, there's so many options that are sure to spark interest in any reader.

But these aren't just cut and dry text books.  YWAM Publishing brings each story to live through engaging biographies, written by Janet & Geoff Benge,  of extraordinary people who's faith helped them to achieve some of the greatest accomplishments in history.  Series include Christian Heroes: Then & Now and Heroes in History which are written for ages 10 and up, as well as a Heroes in History for Young Readers, written by Renee Taft Meloche, which are aimed for readers ages 5-10. Many books are available both in paperback as well as ereader formats.

Our Experience:

For this review, we were given a copy of the book George Washington - True Patriot from the Heroes in History series, a 224 page soft cover trade paperback as well as the accompanying downloadable Unit Study Curriculum guide for the same title.

YWAM Publishing and the Heroes in History series are one that we are very familiar with and we have a number of these books in our homeschooling library, so when we were given the opportunity to do another review of one of their books, we were pretty excited.

Just prior to this review selection, I had asked the kids to list out various topics that they wanted to learn more about.  When asked to pick a President from the past that they would like to study, Garrett picked George Washington (Ashleigh picked John F. Kennedy). Lucky for us, one of the selections we had to choose from was about George Washington.  Perfect!!

True Patriot weaves together the story of the life of George Washington, beginning with how his childhood and family led to many of the decisions that he made as a young man, decisions that took him from a young, six year old boy climbing trees in his front yard to the Commander in chief of the Continental Army and eventually the first President of the United States of America.

Since the kids are still young, we decided to read this book together as a read aloud during our history time.  I found that a chapter a day was a perfect amount for them without being overwhelming or bombarding them with too much information at once.  Each days, the kids would cuddle on the couch and we would pick up where we left off on the exciting story of George Washington and his involvement with the American Revolution.

Garrett has never been one to enjoy reading, whether it's me reading to him or him having to read independently. Getting him to sit still during reading time is near impossible, to be honest.  However, this book caught his attention from the starting gate and there were many days where he asked if we could read our chapter before we did anything else.

One of the things I really enjoy about the Heroes of History series is that while historically accurate, it's written in such a way that really pulls the reader into the story as it bridges the gap between non-fiction and fiction.  Readers are not subjected to dry textbook style reading as one would find in a typical history book, but instead are immersed in the story, setting and characters like they would be with their favorite novel.   Yes, all the pertinent material such as dates and locations are included but they are presented in such a way that they are part of the story.  From a parent who follows a more Charlotte Mason style educational format, I really like that these books are easily considered Living Books. The stories are vivid and engaging but highly educational.

Here's what Garrett has to say about Heroes in History-George Washington: True Patriot

Another great thing about YWAM books is that it's super easy to incorporate these books around an
actual unit study, especially with the available Curriculum Guide.  This includes a downloadable 64 page guide that includes comprehension questions for each chapter of the book, as well as multi subject activities such as Language Arts essay questions, arts and craft activities, field trip suggestions, and movie and additional reading suggestions.  There are also notebooking pages as well as overview guides for homeschools, small groups and traditional classrooms that provide the historical order in which the books can be read, making incoporating YWAM books into your history lessons easy. .

 Since we have decided to make a study unit around George Washington and the American Revolution, these suggestions and activities have come in handy for tying our reading in with other subjects.  For example, the kids got to help make these Cinnamon and Sugar Scones for a snack one day after reading about how George had scones for lunch one day.  We've also had a wonderful virtual "field trip" to Mount Vernon, George and Martha's home.

I highly recommend the YWAM Heroes of History series for any homeschool classroom setting, or even for just general reading.  And not just for the kids, either, making them perfect for adults as well.

For more information and to browse the large selections of books available, be sure to visit the YWAM Publishing website at http://www.ywampublishing.com. 

You can also find them on the following social media:
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/YWAMpublishing        
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/YWAMpublishing             

Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Early Mid Life Crisis

There are two things as a wife and mother that you hate to see for your husband and kids : disappointment and heartbreak. With kids, many of these hurts are cured with a kiss and a huge and a plate of cookies, but with husbands, it's not that easy. While this is written to be a bit tongue in cheek in regards to our recent experience at buying a car, the disappointment my husband faced through this process was very real and many times I felt helpless, knowing there wasn't much I could do about it.

We've been a one car family for as long as we've been here in California.  Originally, we had an old Dodge Grand Caravan that was on it's last leg, as the road salt from four years in Michigan had created some serious rust damage on the undercarriage and the air conditioning no longer worked, which was a real problem when you're talking temperatures of 118*F.  A year after we arrived in California, we decided it was time to get a new car, at which time we purchased our Forrester. The original plan was to keep the van so that we had two cars, in case I needed to go someplace while my husband was at work.  That plan didn't pan out, as the battery on the van went kaput and buying a new one wasn't a priority.  Needless to say, five years later, that van still sits in my driveway, it hasn't moved since then. (I'll be having a junk yard come and pick it up in the next few days - FINALLY!!)

The Poor Ole Grand Caravan has seen Better Days!!
 The need for a second car was starting to become a necessity.  The kids were starting to have activities that they needed to attend during weekday evenings and I really wanted to start going to the gym at the community center on days that it's too hot to comfortably go for a walk outside.  Also, we've taken up bowling lately.  It was creating a bit of a hassle,  as I would have to drive my husband to work so that I could keep the Forrester and then wait around until he called for me to come pick him up.  Unfortunately, with the Air Force, there's no given time when that call would come: some days it was as early as 730pm, other nights it was closer to 1am.  I would then have to wake up my teenager (who had school the next morning) to tell her to keep an ear on the kids until I got back, just in case the kids weren't asleep when I had to leave.

My Forrester!! 

It was time for a new car.  I had my Forrester and it was time for Charles to have his own car.

However, just any ordinary car wasn't going to cut it..

You see, about three years ago, my husband hit what I jokingly call his Mid Life Crisis.  It was at that time that he decided that not only did we need a second car, but we needed a brand spanking new sports car.  Hours upon hours were spent scouring the internet, reading car reviews, watching videos, looking at the manufacturers websites. There were even a few trips to dealerships as we looked at the Subaru WRX and the Chevy Camaro. Then, about a year ago, Charles finally made his final decision.  He wanted a Dodge Challenger.  But not just any Challenger - it had to have the V8 in it, preferably with a manual transmission.

I'd like to say that this decision was smooth and painless.  It wasn't.  For the past three years, I have heard about almost nothing else except cars. I have heard him complain about not having his car.  There were plenty of arguments about cars, even to the point where I basically told him to get whatever the heck he wanted, as long as I didn't have to hear about it anymore.  I try to be a supportive wive, honestly, I do, and I do believe he deserves whatever car he wants, but after THREE YEARS of hearing about it, I was tired.   So long as we had a car note on the Forrester, a sports car wasn't in the picture.. I even suggested buying a cheap used car just for him to drive back and forth to work until he could get the car but he was set on what he wanted and nothing else.

Well, back in Feb, we finally paid off the Forrester, almost three years ahead of time.  We used just about all of our tax money to pay it off, but it was finally ours, free and clear.  So, with the car paid off, that meant only one thing to Charles - it was time to buy his car.

We took a trip to the dealership shortly after.  Charles had his eye on a black "Skat Pack" Challenger.  He'd checked it out on the website, he was infatuated with it, he wanted it.  We drove to the dealership and looked at it, spoke to the salesman who went to get the keys for it. But there was a problem - someone else showed up a few minutes before us to look at the same car.  It broke my heart to have to watch as Charles saw someone else drive away in "his" car.  Being the supportive wife that I am, I told him that it wasn't meant to be - that "his" car was still out there, it just wasn't at the dealership just yet.

The Black Skat Pack - It wasn't meant to be
Now, before I go on with this story, I should mention that when we have discussed cars in the past, we both agreed we couldn't stand yellow cars.  I had a cousin who would only buy yellow cars and I always found them to be tacky looking.  Yellow just does not look good on most cars.

However, as we were waiting to find out if the people before us were indeed going to buy the other
car, I noticed a yellow Challenger that really caught my eye and I pointed it out to Charles.  Now, at this point, Charles only had eyes for the black Skat Pack he was about to see driven away, but he did agree that the yellow looked really good on the Challenger. We took a closer look at the yellow one,  it even came with a moon roof, something we both enjoy about our Forrester and we both liked it.   Well, after we knew for sure the car we came for was not to be, we left the dealership for Charles to lick his wounds.

A few days later, the guy at the dealership called to upsell another car on the lot.  I honestly hate when salesmen dangle that proverbial carrot in front of a buyers face - especially since Charles was primed and ready to jump, even if the water was a bit too deep for my liking.  The offer sounded too good to be true, a very small down payment with monthly notes well below what I was originally expecting.  Charles gave the go ahead to "make it happen".

What happened next??

The dealer put in the wrong information, basically trying to get the financing on the wrong car!!!   Which meant multiple credit checks for no reason!!  When he called back to tell Charles what he had done, he said all he had to do was change the information for the right car and all would be well.. Nope. Repeat all the credit checks (Keep those credit checks in mind, btw, they will come back into play!) to finance the correct car and he called back saying he couldn't get it done for the down payment or for the monthly notes he promised.  Again, I had to watch the my husband's disappointment and frustration!! And I was getting just as frustrated as well because I hate seeing him disappointed.

It was at this time I told him to cool his heels and stop jumping the gun before we were ready.  Until we had what was, in my opinion, a decent down payment ready to go, there was no point even bothering to try to get the car.  He agreed and started putting money aside each paycheck to start saving for a much larger payment up front.  He also had a bonus coming from the military from when he re-signed, so he decided to wait til that came in to add to what he had saved.  He also started looking at cheaper alternatives to the cars he was originally looking at, opting for an RT or TA version of the Challenger instead of the Skat Pack.  His only stickler was that it HAD to have the V8 in it.  He even began considering this hideously ugly "Destroyer Gray" colored car, only because it was the cheapest V8 on the lot, about 4 thousand dollars cheaper than the next car.

Destroyer Gray Completely Destroys My Color Pallet lol 
Saturday, Charles decided it was time to "just go look" at another couple of Challengers that were on the lot.  At this point, he had a size able down payment in the bank. What was suppose to be our grocery shopping trip turned out to be our car buying day.  His "just go look" turned into a test drive and a "Hey, let's get you into this car today"..  I kind of knew when we headed to the dealership that he would end up signing on the line for a car.  He was in the mind frame to buy the ugly car, said he would learn to love it. My opinion was why buy a car in a color you hate!  So I tried to steer him towards a green T/A Challenger instead that was priced a bit higher.  Well, "just a look" turned into a test drive of the green one and I knew at that point there was no turning back.

Charlie Test Driving the Green T/A 

After the test drive, Charles and the dealer come back inside and sat in a small cubicle and start talking numbers.. And here's where his "jumping the gun" in Feb and that proverbial carrot bit him in the butt.  In Feb, Charles had a pretty respectable credit rating.  Roughly 40 credit checks later and his credit score took a massive hit.  When the salesman brought him the paperwork showing his credit score, Charlie's heart once again sank.  He was positive he would not be able to get any sort of financing on the car.  More credit checks later and the salesman came back saying he was financed for the car, but that his APR would be higher than we were offered back in Feb and the car notes would be significantly higher than what we were wanting.   Discouraged, Charles prepared to walk away empty handed once again, figuring the car wasn't meant to be because not only could he not afford the car he just drove, but the cheaper (but ugly) car was no longer on the lot, having been sold to someone who probably also hated the color but was willing to settle for it in order to have a Challenger as well.

However, the salesman (his name was Josh and he was wonderful!) scrambled and the tables turned.  He told Charles to give him a few more minutes, "Let's see what we can do" he said, "Let's make this happen".  First, they offered to drop the price on either the green car he had just test drove, or if he would prefer, there was an RT Challenger on the lot that they would be willing to drop the price on.  "Take your pick and we will drop either of these down to $27K  (down from $33K) for you to make the payments in your price range."  Then, Josh managed to drop the ARP down a bit lower, still higher than what we were offered in Feb but the combination of the two, with our down payment, put the monthly payments in the range that we could afford. (Once we get all those stupid credit checks off his record, we'll refinance at a much lower rate).

Sitting in the Exact Same Spot Just Waiting for Us To Take It Home!!
And what was the second car they offered us?? None other than a yellow RT Challenger, with black stripes and a moon roof.  It was even sitting in the same exact spot where the original black Skat Pack that we had looked at sat right before he watched it drive away into the sunset.  And the kicker?? He was wearing the same exact shirt LOL  (I swear he has lots of shirts!!) Where his heartbreak started, his happiness began.

Not so patiently waiting for his car to be ready!! 

That yellow ray of happiness is now sitting in my driveway!!

I often tell my husband things happen for a reason.  Maybe that black car was a lemon and while he was disappointed, might have saved him from years of even more disappointment.  It wasn't his car.  The ugly "destroyer gray" that looked like a block of concrete wasn't his car, either.

THIS is his car!  And man, let me tell ya, I'm going to have just as much fun driving this baby around as he will.

I was a bit hesitant to drive it, when he left it here yesterday for me to play around with the radio and get familiar with it.  It's been nearly 12 years since I drove a stick shift.  Alyssa was still in a infant car seat the last time I owned a car with a stick.  I've now driving it around base three times, realizing that it's like riding a bike.  And the kids are absolutely in LOVE with it.   Since we brought it home yesterday, they have asked me a gazillion times if they can go outside just to look at it.  They even made me take them for rides around the neighborhood. And Alyssa made me drive her to school this morning it in.. lol

We have named the car "Wasp"..  The yellow color on it is called "yellow jacket" and since it's yellow and black, it just fit.

And best of all, no more disappointment in my husband's eyes!!!

Now, to just get rid of that van!!!  It's an eyesore.   Especially next to that Challenger!!!


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