Saturday, March 2, 2019

Israel Trip

Somehow, I have forgotten to post this trip. I may try to continue to add to it, because this is such a small highlight of our whole trip
Old Jerusalem
Near the Western Wall

Noah and I went to Israel in December of 2017.
It was an amazing time to explore, learn, and grow. We saw so many things and still there was so very, very little that we saw. To imagine that these places have been inhabited by many, many generations of people for several thousands of years is just so incredible. There is such richness of  history throughout the area; no matter where you turn or which direction you travel everyone has a story and history to tell that is just so huge that you can not ever take it all in.

Tower of David
Old Jerusalem

There are many, cultures, many differences, so much beauty and a lot of struggle and turmoil because everyone wants to claim a part of its vast richness, religious significance, cultural significance, historical significance.
Tower of David
 Old Jerusalem
I have always loved history and how the pieces of history weave into each other  to form layers of stories that fit together like a puzzle, but on so many layers and levels that you can only imagine it as an intricate tapestry of many layers, levels, and colors. Being in Israel was so much like that. I am not good at remembering timelines, dates, and specifics of history, but listening to the tour guides and others tell the history and layers that literally stack and add upon the previous generations either rebuilding the destruction of the past eras or adding on to existing structures and fortifications. 

Entrance to the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
at the end of the Stations of the Cross
on the Via Dolorosa and St. Helena Rd.

The historians can show where different eras ended and others began by the size and structure of the brick work on the walls. There were many times where they pointed out where the walls were destroyed by siege and taken over by the Phoenicians, Arabs and Philistines, Romans, Babylonians, the rise and fall of the kings and their kingdoms.

That is just a very little bit of the historical end of things. From a religious standpoint, the very idea of walking in the very place where the birth of our Lord happened. Touching some of the very same places, seeing some of the very same sights and vistas,  and  walking some of the same streets. It has truly made the Bible more understandable and more real. Over the years in life you read and imagine the places and the stories that you are told and you have an idea of it, you see movies and pictures and get glimpses and they seem so much closer. 
Bread Shop at a Market
Then you get there, you walk the streets, see the sites and the vast expanses of dessert, smell the smells and touch the rocks, and sand, and stones. Walking the market places watching the families go about their usual daily business and visiting with people that  live and work there, kind of gave me a pang of jealousy, but only for a moment because everything in life comes with a price and although it looks exotic and wonderful, it also comes with a high cost of living and living under constant military and heavy police guard, constantly having tons of tourists always walking the streets and
neighborhoods and relying on the many tourists and visitors as a steady stream of income.
Dessert Shop at the Market

Each area we visited had more stories to tell than there was time for. We spent a lot of time in Jerusalem, I truly loved walking the streets of Old Jerusalem the most. Walking in and out of the high walled streets that were very much like a maze and very easy to get lost in. It was broken up into Quarters that belonged to the Christian section, Muslim section, Jewish Section, Armenian Section
and maybe another. It was interesting to walk along and realize that the dynamic of an area changed drastically as you moved from one area to the other. 

Beautiful Pomegranates
Although the market places had mixed markets of different groups, Each area had a unique feel according to its section. The amount of culture and diversity found in this small space was incredible. Growing up and only hearing English everywhere you go and then getting the opportunity to walk these streets and for the first time in life understanding that you are in a place that language is so very wide, and diverse and everywhere you turn there is a different culture standing next to you no matter which corner you are on. American culture is a melting pot(that's what we were taught as kids); but what I found fascinating and I loved about this experience is that I love the distinctions in each of the cultures. 

This had to be one of my favorite shops 
Fruit cubes used for Tea

I loved the sights, the sounds, the looks, and styles. I loved that each individual culture was still part of the
bigger picture, but still distinct and separate and yet they each existed in and among each other with respect. I am fully aware that it doesn't fully exist in harmony and they are in an area of extreme conflict and it can be seen as an area of danger from on moment to the next, but in talking to the people that lived there, a lot of that is political and the day to day life is a different experience. 

Street in Old Jerusalem
When we arrived the Jewish people were celebrating Hanukkah. Every night throughout the celebration something different was going on in the area. We spent one of our first evenings out on the last night of Hanukkah walking around during their celebrations and they did something similar to what we would consider caroling at Christmas time where people walked through the streets and viewed all the lit Menorahs throughout the area.  It was quite crowded and chaotic, but fun to see and be a part of. The Christian/Catholic section was decorated in typical Christmas decorations with lights and Christmas trees and it felt very familiar. The other areas were not particularly decorated for celebration, but it was no less impressive to walk through and experience. All of the market stores, vendors, and things for sale made each area unique and beautiful. 

The Shepard's Fields Fountain
Every single place was a little treasure to see and explore. We spent a decent amount of time on buses traveling to the destination sites on the tour routes and quite a lot of things were quickly pointed out along the routes. Some of the areas that we really wanted to see were closed because of the holidays but we were able to see enough to make the experience complete. 

The whole trip was amazing and surreal. It is not something that I every expected to experience in my lifetime and I will truly be humbled and grateful for the experience. As a child I had always expected that I would travel the world and see every corner. That didn't happen, but in my lifetime, I think that I have gotten to experience on of the absolute best places. 
Mount of Olives Tour- Catholic Church
with a View of the Dome of the Rock

I hope that by having to opportunity to travel with Noah as a child, that it will give him the fortitude to reach further in life to live, travel, and find adventures and experiences to fill his life. 

Hanging at the park on a dragon

At the Jordan River
Noah always has an animal near him

A boat on the Sea Of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee

Mary at the Basilica dedicated to her

A view from on of the areas at
 Ein Gedi Park Reserve

View of the Dead Sea seen at the top of the Masada Fortress

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

Camel and the dead Sea

Very old olive Tree

Wall Surrounding Old Jerusalem

Rampart Walk on the Wall Surrounding Old Jerusalem

The Cardo - Part of the North-South Roman Main Street

Life sized Nativity
Given to Bethlehem by Italy

6th Century Mosaic

Mosaic at the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre 

One of my favorite meals
Falafel and Hummus with a salad

On of the many interior streets in Old Jerusalem

Evolution of Homeschool

Life just seems to somehow get ahead of us here at the Zerangue house. There are always pitfalls and challenges that need to be faced navigated, waded through and overcome. Here in Mississippi we recently went through a rather brutal rainstorm that was really damaging for some parts of out state. We live on highground, and even though we came through it okay there was still a bit of challenges around us. The ended up being minor compared to some, but there were lessons in them all the same.

I posted these pictures because the kids overcame a fear of the unknown that day. We have lived here about ten years. This amount of water has never happened before and the kids wanted to know how much water covered the road...I told them to find out. They asked how, and I said the only way to do it is to walk in. They were hesitant, but eventually they did it, and then it was quite fun to run and splash through the water. Overcoming the fear of the unknown is one of the most difficult lessons in life and I want my kids to know that most times you have to wade out into something to find out if it is were you want to go. The path ahead in not always going to be clear and the clear path is not always a safe or sure bet in life. Sometimes it takes faith and trust and wading out into the muddy water to discover something amazing.
Between the schooling, and the activities, and the part-time jobs, it seems like we can never really catch up to our life and something always falls behind. Right now that is mostly our social post and our side businesses.

Last year was rough and we no longer have farm animals and our bees...they were picked off by the predators that live around our woods. No matter where we patched and protected, something always managed to get through to our chickens and rabbits. It is a difficult fight and a hard lesson.

We are on the fence at this point on whether to try again. The kids are all gettin older and not as interested, time is not our friend at this point.

I miss spending time in the yard, having garden space, but it seems like it is only me that is interested I am re-evaluating our life to see what is important and what needs to be let go.

Part of the focus of homeschool was to help the kids to find their way and as a parent I need to move with them in that direction. One of the things we are considering is looking at animal rehabilitation. It is something that would fall on me, but it is something that one of my children is interested in and it seems like it may be beneficial to have the opportunity for them to watch and learn and see if it is truly a direction they want to take.

This week we rescued two baby squirrels that fell out of a tree in our yard. The person we brought them to has confidence in their survival.

The evolution of a homeschool life...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spring is in the Air

It is already April, and somehow, life has just sailed by and I haven't updated in what feels like an eon. Spring is in full swing again, it's warming up and flowers are popping up everywhere.

Noah and I have flown across the world and seen some of the most amazing places on Earth. We had an unbelievable experience and I hope to post an review of the week we spent in Israel. I hope that this is the first of many adventures in Noah's life. I hope that the reality of how truly small our little corner of life is and how amazing, and huge, and wonderful the possibilities of seeing more of our wonderful world can be has been fully engrained in his young life.

We got home just after Christmas and as usual life has been moving along at full speed with little time to stop and take a breath.

Nathan is now 18 and on his last few months of high school. In February he was awarded the honor of Eagle Scout and we are truly proud of his accomplishments in that regard. We look forward to see what he will do moving forward.

Benjamin turned 5 in January, and is growing like a bad weed. He is starting his Pre-School/Kindergarten work and learning his letters and numbers and how to tie his shoes and using his ninja skills.

We still have the chickens and a goat. We are also trying to raise rabbits for meat, and the kids have decided that they want to learn tanning and use the rabbit pelts. I am assuming that the process will be long and arduous and probably will become another project for Matt and I, but I really like the idea of using all of the rabbit, being respectful of it's life and not wasting any part of it.

So the reason for this post was mostly to update on that process and progress. It has been a rough start, and our first experience lead to quite a few fall and winter births and a lot of deaths because of cold, wet baby bunnies and inexperienced moms and inexperienced "farmers"; we lost most of the young rabbits before they got to an age that they could be used for meat.

This past year we had several times that neighborhood dogs attacked and killed most of our population of rabbits and there again we never were able to grow any out to an age of harvesting meat.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we(Matt, because I was busy making cakes for Cub Scouts) harvested 5 of our youngest rabbits that survived from last year. There were just to many young males and they were terrorizing the females that we had left. So now we have three females and two males.

Today we discovered that our little grey female gave birth to five beautiful healthy, active little bundles of joy, and over the next couple of weeks we will have two more bunny nursery boxes to set up, so we should be up to our ears with bunnies again soon.

We also have two dozen eggs incubating that will be hatching on the 18th of April. We will have baby farm animals coming out of our ears before too long...

We have also collected a turtle that was buried in the nest in our back yard that it was hatching from, and today while walking the new puppy(yes, we have a new puppy also...her name is Sadie and she is such a cutie) Noah found a new turtle trying to cross the street. It is about the size of a quarter and is so very tiny compared to the one we found last month. So now we have two red-eared sliders to entertain us. They are very entertaining they have such great personalities.

So...Spring is definitely in the air...

How is your Spring shaping up?