Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Field Trips

It seems that most, not all, of our field trips this month, either in part or in full, had a common theme: our nation in conflict.  We had an interesting time seeing how much the business of war changed from the 19th century to the 20th.  I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to visit these sites; our history lessons will be so enriched by these experiences.
1.  Fall Creek Falls Mountaineer Festival
5th-generation furniture maker!

This festival celebrating pioneer skills and lifestyle tends to be similar from year to year, but the kids won't hear of skipping it.  Since we all enjoy it so much (plus it's nearby and free), we make room on the schedule for it every September.  

Broom maker
We had the opportunities to talk with and watch a broom maker, furniture maker, several blacksmiths, alpaca farmer & his wife who spins and weaves, a sorghum farmer, and several members of a Civil War encampment.

Ready!  Aim!  BOOM!  
2. LST 325 World War II ship
We had a chance to see the real deal this day-- an actual ship from D-Day.  This floating museum was there on the beaches of Normandy that awful day of 1944.  We were first given an introductory history of the LST's and their important role in WWII.  Then, touring the ship, we saw various photographs and exhibits.  One exhibit that was a particular favorite of the kids was a detailed replica, made entirely of Lego-style bricks, of an LST unloading tanks and men onto a beach while under attack.  During the tour, it was a honor to meet and talk with some of the men who not only work to bring this museum to us, but many of whom are veterans, including one from WWII.

3. Chickamauga Battlefield

We attended the 151st anniversary weekend of the Battle of Chickamauga.  Now, I am by no means a Civil War buff, but I am forever fascinated by the history, the soldiers, the politics, and the family stories from this era.  This was a great opportunity to have a blow-by-blow walk-through of a significant battle by an extremely knowledgeable historian, Jim Ogden.  The park itself is really neat, too.  In the years after the war, veterans came back and verified the locations of certain important movements during this two-day struggle.  Many monuments (300+)  have been erected to show locations of the heaviest fighting of different divisions of infantry and cavalry, and to mark the places where high-ranking officers were killed or mortally wounded.  This place certainly warrants another trip; we spent all day here and yet left much unseen.
4. Hike to the base of Fall Creek Falls and "Dangers of the Wild" ranger talk
I love living so close to Fall Creek Falls!  We called ahead for this trip to the park and were able to meet with a ranger for guided hike and a presentation about wild animals.  We had a beautiful day for hiking and enjoyed a great time with friends, Misty, Aloni, and Anna.
First came the talk about animals in the wild, in particular ones that can pose a threat to our safety.  Then, Ranger Jon brought out a non-venomous snake for the kids to hold.  Marian's always game for this type of thing, but Drew and Ellie surprised me.  This was a first for them.  Reagan would not even touch it. :)
At the base of the falls
  After this, we hiked from the overlook of the falls to the base.  The kids and I did this hike about the same time last year, which was the first time for all of us.  This second trip was no less awe-inspiring.
In places like this Psalm 8:4 come to mind, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
These pictures don't quite do it justice.  As we hiked down into the gorge of the falls, the trail takes us along a towering wall of rock.  The ranger provided some interesting information about Indian movements in this area many years ago, but...
As I walked, my mind wandered back much further.
I tried to imagine the great flood... the fountains of the great deep... perhaps this very rock splitting apart... water gushing forth with tremendous pressure... the sound of the earth in trevail... and Noah & his family, far away, obediently (nervously?) waiting in a boat.  What an incredibly powerful God!

And even today, He meets us in the most surprising places.  Field trips!!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Five on Friday-- Highlights of My Week

1. Reagan and I read The Hungry Caterpillar several times this week.  His favorite projects included building this caterpillar (and others like it); discovering lots of things around the house that begin with 'c' like c-cat, c-cake, c-car; and making a hungry caterpillar lunch, consisting of apples, a pickle, sausage, and chocolate cake!  Which brings up an interesting question:
if Reagan gets to lick the beater...
  ...WHO gets to lick Reagan?

2. Our family Bible study this week centered mostly on Jesus as the Way.  So much food for thought here.  We talked about the many different ways we could travel to a nearby city, and that all those routes would successfully take us to our destination.  Jesus is not like that.  Jesus did not present Himself as a way, but as the Way.  "No one comes to the Father except through me."  We also discussed how the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus' death.  This is such a powerful image to me.  It was not torn from the bottom up by man's hands, but top to bottom by God's power.  Through His death, Jesus provided the way by which we can each draw near to God, without a human high priest needed to intercede for us. (Hebrew 10:19-22)

3.  We added math to our home school schedule this week... and pretty seamlessly at that.  Marian does her math mostly independently.  Andrew seems to have a better grasp on things than he did at the end of last year, thanks to a summer's growth and God's mercy!  Ellie is not always a willing math student, but she is certainly more than capable.  As for Mom, math is her favorite subject!

4.  The girls' ballet classes started back up this week.  I am so excited to see how much they will learn and improve this year!  Also, Marian joined Bryan College Community Children's Choir.  The girl loves to sing and I am excited to give her this opportunity.
 Andrew is halfway through the football season now.  Sometimes he has a rough or discouraging practice, but he has come so far and I know that overall, he loves it.  And we love attending his games every weekend and cheering him on!

5.  Last, but not least, even though I've already posted about it, I'm still feeling the urge to brag over the first 5K that Marian finished with me.  First of many!!

Linking up with:
Weekly Wrap-Up
Random Five on Friday
My Week in Review

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Run, Mar, run!

At the start line
This past summer, Marian has been training to run a 5K with me.  Yea!  This past Saturday was The Big Day, a color run to benefit the Women's Care Center.

Marian started out the morning saying she did not want to get any color on her.  I assured her that she could just detour around the color stations during the course of the run, no problem.  Well, my mischievous side got the better of me... that, and I truly didn't want Marian's uncertainty to cause her to miss out on any of the fun.  Before the race, all the runners have fun "coloring" each other, and I found a couple of Mar's friends that were all too willing to let her share in the fun.  So here's how she looked before the race even started.   I couldn't be prouder!

Marian is a blue blur approaching the finish line!
As for the actual 5K, we didn't manage to run the whole way, but this one was just about finishing.  And finish, we did!  Dwayne and the rest of the kids were all waiting at the finish line to cheer us on and take our picture.  As you can see, we definitely did not bypass the color stations!
Check out the green "gloves"!!

Then the whole family went to 
Huddle House for breakfast.  
Now that's a good way to start the day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rules of the Road

Heard from the back seat as we traveled down the road
 on a partly cloudy (aka, mostly gorgeous) day:  

"I think.... if there's just one grumpy cloud in the sky, we should turn on the [head]lights."
Thank you, Reagan (age 4), for those wise words.  You'll be a fine driver someday... and a very cute meteorologist!

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Field Trips

Okay.  Here's the plan:  one monthly post to summarize all the field trips of that past month.  Will it actually happen?  Time alone can tell, but for August, that's going to mean a rather long post.

We had some great trips this past month!  The first I want to tell about was a real "doozy": going to Nashville to visit the Belle Meade Plantation for their state history homeschool day.
The mansion
To start off with, I bought the wrong ticket.  I bought a regular family pass to tour the estate instead of the special homeschool day ticket.  This may sound like bad news, but as it turns out, this was all for the best!  Even though they had maxed out the enrollment for the homeschool day, several were no-shows so we were able to participate anyway.  Then, when the homeschool activities were done, we were allowed to join the guided tour of the mansion because I had bought the "wrong" ticket!  What a wonderful day!

First, the state history day provided interesting information about the 3 Presidents from Tennessee and African-Americans' role in local heritage.  Also, we had the opportunity to "meet" several historical figures from the Nashville area.  We met Cornelia Fort, a WWII female aviator; a French longhunter; Charlotte Roberson, a woman who came to the Nashville area with her nine children by riverboat in the 1700's to meet up with her husband who had come the previous year; Sam Davis, a Civil War Confederate soldier who was hanged as a spy; a Native American (with a "real" buffalo hide and tepee); and Rep. Harry Burn, a 1920 statesman who voted for women's suffrage in Tennessee.  Then the tour of the mansion topped off a fabulous day!

 We have also been to the park twice already.  Once for a tree identification class, where we made our own book of leaf rubbings to take home.  We also stayed for the next class where we made a turkey call from from a tin can and cotton string.  Then we went swimming in the Cascades.  A perfect day in my kids' book, to be sure!

The other trip to the park was for a hike to overlooks of the Cascades and Cane Creek Falls.  Beautiful!  We also took in a lot of the wildlife along the way, which on that particular evening included a bunch of mushrooms, a couple toads, and some trees (Good thing we'd already made our leaf ID books;  that ranger thought we were pretty smart!)

Oh, so soft chinchilla!

Check out Reagan's face.
I wasn't the only one who was creeped out! 
Now for the creepiest trip of the month:  the reptile show.

This was a gathering of a number of exhibitors and retailers of exotic pets-- mostly reptiles.  The girls were fearless: touching snakes, holding lizards, whatever creature presented itself.  Reagan had all he could do just to look.  (Andrew was not able to go with us because of a football obligation.)  As for me, my "creep-out factor" is maxxed out for the rest of the year!!

This fella was HUGE!  How would you like to find
him crawling around in your basement?  {Shiver. Gulp}
Adventurous one with
a bearded dragon.

Call of the wild

Our last field trip for August took us to the Chattanooga Zoo.  This is always a big hit.  The boys' favorite exhibit was the monkeys.  Ellie really liked this light pink macaw (?) (pictured above), and Marian thought the red panda was the cutest.  But I think the best moment captured that day was Ellie's and Reagan's attempts to mimic the calls of the apes!

Phew!  That wraps it up for August!  We have a full schedule of adventures for September, too.  Can't wait!

Sharing at...
Weekly Wrap-Up
Collage Friday
My Week in Review
Homegrown Learners

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God opens wide His hand

About this time every year, I like to look back at all the things God has amazed us with over the summer.  This year, we have a bumper crop of blessings!
 (Borrowing words from William James, circa 1888.) 

God opens wide His hand,
In this our native land,
Year after year.
From His abundant store
He giveth evermore,
"Pressed down and running o'er,"
Our hearts to cheer.

The seed packet said "Mammoth Sunflowers".  Now that's truth in advertising!!  This one was easily 10 feet high, with a diameter of about 18 inches!
The sunflower "harvest" is put aside to feed the birds so that we can enjoy watching them from the window all winter long.
We have been very busy filling nearly every jar we can lay our hands on!  We have canned peach jam, blackberry jam (both seedless and regular), green beans (oh, blessedly endless green bean harvest!), squash relish,
turnips, tomatoes (another seemingly endless crop!), and pickled okra.  
The corn has been plentiful, and we chose to freeze it all this year instead of canning it-- some on the cob, but most cut off.  We still have plenty of okra coming in, as well as green peppers, and we will soon need to dig up the onions and the sweet potatoes.

God has indeed opened wide His hand to us.  

 He has not only shown us His practical provision, 

but his artistry as well...

The whole earth is filled with his glory!! 
Amen and amen!
Psalm 72:19