Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bluewater Key RV Resort: Paradise

Our site with the giant tiki hut
We decided to take a week of vacation in the Florida Keys. People come from all over the world to visit the Florida Keys so we decided we should take advantage of our proximity. Typically, we like to stay at state parks. Bahia Honda State Park is the only one with waterside campsites in the keys and they stay booked a year in advance. In researching other alternatives, I found bluewaterkey.com. (There is also sublets via bluewaterkey.net) All the reviews indicated the sites were pricey but worth it, and I have to say that I agree.
All the waterfront sites have docks
As soon as we arrived the kids both said, "This is the best campsite EVER!!!" and even daddy was pleasantly surprised. So I think I officially got mother and wife of the year for finding this place.

We had our own dock with swim ladder as well as a huge tiki shelter with table and chairs. The tiki hut at this particular site was twice the size as some of the others and had a counter and sink with running water as well as lights and fans.

The resort is actually on a bay in the Saddlebunch Keys. The water was so clear that as soon as we arrived we were drawn into the water as it were. While swimming and snorkeling, we saw several species of fish including grunt, mangrove snapper, and barracuda as well as a lobster.
Front gate
The resort does have restrictions on the type of camping equipment - no tents or pop-ups or even trailers with canvas pop-outs, and a minimum 23 feet traveling length. Our Outlander is certainly showing it's miles with pealing decals and in need of an exterior wash, so we felt a little bit like the Clampetts in amongst the Class As with matching tow-vehicles and giant fifth-wheels.

There is a pool, dog park, and laundry facility - but we didn't use them. (Who needs a pool when you can swim off your own dock in crystal clear water?) The bathhouse is very clean and the one entrance is gated with keycode access. All the sites are well landscaped for privacy and aesthetics. Outside the resort is a greenway/walkway for bikers and walkers that connects to other keys via the old US1 bridges. Essentially the location and amenities couldn't be better.

These two video clips will give you a good feel of the place.





Needless to say this was a perfect spot for us to enjoy all the Florida Keys have to offer. It was so nice to sit under the tiki hut and read a book while the kids played. Or throw a line out from the dock and catch a few snapper. Ah paradise......

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Story of the World: Ancient Egypt & Early Writing

A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria
A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are on Chapter 4 in The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition. The kids really enjoy the hands-on activities that reinforce what they are learning.

Last week, we learned about the first civilizations and the origins of writing. We watched several documentaries and Youtube videos on cuneiform and heiro-glyphs. Afterwards, they wrote messages in modeling clay as a representation of ancient cuneiform tablets.

{Did you know ancient Sumerians wrapped the clay tablets in clay envelopes?! Find out how scientists are now reading these ancient documents without destroying the outer envelope.}

This week we are continuing to learn about ancient Egypt, in particular, mummies and pyramids. We supplement the material in The Story of the World with books from the library. Here is a short list of some of the related books that we are reading.
While I read from some of the books above, the kids made their own pyramids. Elisabeth chose clay as her medium while Jonah chose LEGO. (Be sure to note the mummy and artifacts that Elisabeth put inside Jonah's pyramid.)


Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Minecraft Themed Birthday Party

Copyright Temptation Bites
I make no claims of being a great crafty DIY person. So when my son said he wanted a Minecraft themed birthday party I did what most American moms would do I googled "minecraft party decorations." I was shocked that there was hardly anything available for purchase in the category. So I turned to pinterest for other options.

Given that our setting was a picnic shelter at a park, our decor options were limited to tabletops and a pinata.

After looking at pictures of other pinatas, Jonah came up with a conceptualization of one with a Steve face on one side and an Enderman on the other. His got his dad to putting it together according to his vision (a CEO in the making I guess).

I took this idea for grass dirt blocks from pinterest, but used the cocoa crispies instead of rice crispies to make it look more like dirt. They were a huge hit with the extended family.
And did I buy or make that gorgeous cake shown at the top of this post? Nope. I bought some stickers from an online party store that aren't Minecraft per se but are mining related - the kids stuck them to popsicle sticks for inserting into cupcakes and voila you have cupcake toppers (and yes, they were store bought cupcakes). 

We also used strawberry and licorice flavored twizzlers to make some Minecraft TNT. This is a common minecraft party food and can be packaged numerous ways.

We did purchase a Minecraft Papercraft Animal Mobs Set to assemble and use as table decorations. They doubled as party favors for our few child guests. Jonah added a couple of his action figures to the tabletop display as well.


In the end, Jonah was very happy with his Minecraft birthday and I didn't overly stress or overspend on cake and decor. Success!