Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Short Sidetrip

  Last year was the 150th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence.  The Watkins Historical Museum created a special exhibit featuring it.  I've been dying to go, but hadn't taken the opportunity.  Yesterday we used an orthodontist appointment & our flat travelers as an excuse to finally make it to the museum. 
  The price is right only a suggested donation of $2 per child & $3 per adult.  There are 2 main floors of exhibits.  The first floor used to be a bank and still has the teller windows in place. 
They had some great exhibits on basketball, Langston Hughes, the Old Sacramento cannon and of course Quantrill.  I was most impressed with the Quantrill exhibit.  It was interactive.  Bubby loved using the touch screen to interact with the route of the raiders. It also had some artifacts left over in the aftermath. 
Bubby and Shorty with "Old Sacramento"
I learned something new with the Old Sacramento cannon.  It was used in the Mexican-American War, was moved around during the free-state battles, and ultimately fired in Lawrence in celebration of Kansas being admitted into the Union as a free state. 
  Upstairs of the Watkins used to be the land offices.  They had some local history items and a large Victorian play house that the kids were able to enter and play in.  They were thrilled!
Definitely worth the trip.  We'll be visiting again, Mookie had opted to stay at home, but was bummed when she heard our stories.  I didn't get to see all of it myself, so I welcome the opportunity to go back:)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flat Traveler Adventures: Atchison & Leavenworth

  Daddy was gone this past week.  Usually when he has a big trip & we aren't able to come along, we plan some nice distractions for ourselves.  We decided to spend a couple of days with Ducky and Grandma & take them with us on our field trip.  We've been pretty busy with our trips this month.  We're hosting 2 flat travelers, one from England & one from Idaho.  I love doing the flats because it really makes you an ambassador for your area.  You need to get out and show what makes your area special.  The kids have been dying to do some specific things in Atchison, and since a it's the birthplace of a notable Kansas figure - Amelia Earhart, we went for it:)
  We started out our tour of Atchison at the statue of Deafy Boular.  He's a very distant cousin of ours (I wrote a blog on him here if you're interested in him further). Aside from all he overcame, he's amazing for the fact that was featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not for laying 46,000 bricks in less than 8 hours. He laid most of the brick in the streets of Atchison.
Mookie, Shorty & Deafy (and Longneck the giraffe)
 Our next stop was the historical museum where there is a display of Deafy's boots and other Atchison memorabilia. 
Bubby checking out Deafy's boots
The kids enjoyed the museum, but they LOVED the train exhibit outside even more! Especially Shorty, they're his favorite:)
You can't beat getting to climb on and explore trains.  Just the engine was open, but getting to crawl up on the stairs and peek in the windows was a thrill in itself.
  Our next stop was Doniphan Cemetery.  We were trying to track down some ancestors (no luck), and document stones for Find A Grave (huge success).  Some of us were not quite as dedicated to the cause though...
Bubby "King of the World"
That's ok, we'll just call that part of the day PE;)
  Heading back into town, we got out and stretched our legs at the riverfront park.  Its a lovely area with some interesting historical markers.
Ducky and Mookie at the Lewis & Clark display
  Our last stop was in Leavenworth where we picked up supper and headed to the riverside railroad park.  This is a favorite stop on our way to Jamesport.
Shorty loves it because the possibility of train spotting.  We almost didn't see one, then came the distant whistle of a train.  Bubby & Mookie got into a position on a ledge where they could get a good picture of their travelers when the train passed.  It was going to be great, right by the bridge with them in a perfect spot to be safely close.  The train got closer until we could see that it only had 3 cars on it - and it was really traveling!  I snapped the shot...

and the photo op turned into one that we laughed about the rest of the way home:)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Unknowns from Woodson County, Kansas

  A couple of years ago I was blessed to have a cousin let me copy all the photos out of a photo album that had been my great-grandmother Minnie (Schaede) Murray's.  Some of the pictures were identified, but the majority were not.  I'm going to share them here in hopes I can find someone else to help me identify them:)  Minnie grew up in Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas and died in LeRoy, Coffey County, Kansas.  The Yates Center pictures are most likely either Schaede, Yeager, Krien, or other branches of her family.
Cabinet card taken in Yates Center, KS.  Most likely the seated woman is Minnie's mother Amelia (Krien) Schaede

Friday, March 7, 2014

Field Trip Friday: Lawrence

   Today was WAY too busy.  It was field trip Friday and we have flat travelers in the house, so that means that we were looking for Kansas-y things to do.  Well, only because we had to.  Overdue books in Lawrence changed our plans from roller skating in Topeka instead.  From what I understand, the overdue book is the constant battle of a homeschooler - but I just need it for a little longer for this thing we're studying.... The next thing you know - BAM! Overdue fines! But I digress...
   Gas is terribly expensive and to try to ease the pain of the cost in our pocketbook but still do all the fun things as a homeschooler we cram as much into our time in the bigger cities as possible.  Here was the progression of our day: Target for shopping, an oil change, a drive-thru bite to eat, the KU Natural History Museum, the library, a stop to see James Naismith's memorial, Hobby Lobby, a stop into Sonic's happy hour for a drink, and then to Wells' Lookout for a photo op.  Whew!  But we did it! Here's some pictures from our day:)
Meet our travelers: Hero Harry & Longneck

  The kids had been dying to go to the Natural History museum.  The exhibits really never change (although they had updated some), but how can you top dinosaurs, bugs & that animal panorama?
  Bubby is in the stage where he wants to look at every. single. exhibit.  In the animal panorama, for example, that meant finding every animal that was listed on the guides in front of the glass, etc...  Needless to say, we were there a while.  It took some work keeping a toddler busy through the whole museum, but we managed to make everyone happy, even if some of us did make laps:) 
Shorty in a moment of patience in the panorama
  We had never been to the Naismith memorial before.  Bubby was super excited, because he'd read a biography on him late last year.  Shorty tried to take home a KU basketball from the memorial, but he didn't get far:)
Some ornery brother is giving Mookie rabbit ears in her traveler picture
 Aside from all the interesting stops, the best part of the day was the weather!! 65 degree temps!  After single digits at the first of the week we were ready to be outside!  Come on spring:)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grocery Shopping - Amish style

  Every month and a half we go grocery shopping.  We do our milk and eggs weekly, but for our big baking supplies, we make a 3 hour trek to NW Missouri to Amish country.  I factor in the cost of gas to the price of groceries and it still makes it worth our while to make the trip.  Plus its super fun.  We pick up Grandma, and make a day out of it. This time we carpooled with some buddies so we could show them the route too.
  The place we go is just outside of Jamesport, Missouri.  It doesn't look like much, but inside you can buy 20 lb. bags of flour (even 50 lb. if you so desire), 10 lb. bags of oats, 10 lbs. of sugar, you get the idea.  There are some things that I can get cheaper at Sam's Club, but I try to do as much of my one stop shopping at either place to limit my trips.  They also have 6 lb. logs of cheese you can buy.  Its my guide on when we need to make the return trip north, when the cheese runs out we know its time;)
  The kids are in awe of their way of life.  Everything from the horse and buggies (the kids are jealous that Amish children get to drive a horse & buggy to school),  to the lack of electricity, to the different way they dress.  At the beginning of summer last year when we first mad our trek, Mookie wore her shorts and flip flops.  When we pulling into the parking lot I was explaining the differences we might find inside.  Mookie was horrified that she was wearing shorts instead of a dress - she didn't want them to disapprove!  I told her that their religion was Christian based and if they judged her on her clothes what kind of Christians would they be? That seemed to help.  After that discussion though, she always wears slacks or a skirt and I wear a skirt too:)  I often wonder what they do think of all of us Englishers that come and shop at their store.  The Country Store we shop at mostly is run by women. Most of them are rather quiet, but they're always quick with a smile too, and quick with a hand to help us lug our groceries to the car (we usually have a few boxes).

  Yesterday Shorty was talking about going out to see their horses and deer (they have about 20 deer in pens which we had always seen from a distance).  They told us to walk across the yard of the house by the store and go see the deer up close.  Boy that was a treat!  I expected the deer to be standoff-ish, but they came right up to the fence & licked the kids' hands:) That was so thrilling for them!
Shorty, Bubby and Mookie petting the deer
  There's a cute little fabric shop right next to the country store and I ran in there to grab some more blank tea towels.  Going in that shop is like a snapshot of clothing for the Amish.  Most of the colors are dark, with the exception of the children's clothes which can have bright colors and larger prints.  The shop carries all you would need to make your family's wardrobe and even some items that are pre-made.  I've drooled at the hand woven rugs several times - going to have to break down and snag one...
  Our next stop was the variety store.  It is 1 1/2 miles further and a couple of turns down a dirt road.  The proprietor was a kind looking gentleman in typical Amish dress.  He didn't say much at first & let us look around his wide selection of essential oils, ointments, vitamins, and even wood stoves.  When I walked close to him, he smiled and asked if I homeschooled.  It is so funny, many people can pick homeschoolers out just at a glance.  I asked him if many in the area homeschooled.  He told me that the Amish have parochial schools (we had passed one on the way to his store) much for the same reason we probably homeschooled - true.  We had the most interesting conversation with him.  It ranged from the things in his store, to what his family did for work, to the "rabbit dog" sitting on his file cabinet.  In fact, he kind of talked our leg off, but we didn't mind, it was so interesting!  It is definitely a place we are going to go back to.  He sent Grandma with her own "rabbit dog" and the story to go with it (its a carved wooden dog on one side and a rabbit dog on the other - makes a good pet!) , with instructions to practice, so she might get tested when she goes back;) 
an Amish school

Monday, February 17, 2014

Junior Rangers: Topeka

  Ever since our Rushmore trip, the kids have been itching to add to their junior ranger badges.  One that is super close to us is the Brown vs. Board of Education site in Topeka.  We wanted to do something for Black History Month, so this seemed like the week.  Mookie was dying to have her buddy, who attends public school, spend the night last night.  I almost said no.  The buddy didn't have school due to a teacher work day, but we did.  We decided to flop our week and take our buddy with us instead!  So field trip Monday it became! :)
  Since it was just me and 4 kiddos, I knew that Shorty wasn't going to fare well through all I had planned, so we went to the John Ritchie House first.  Ritchie House is the oldest structure standing in Topeka.  The Ritchies were staunch abolitionists, hanging with the likes of John Brown during the turbulent territorial era.  Their house was a stop on the Underground Railroad. When we got there, Bubby was SO excited (really he makes homeschooling easy, the kid LOVES learning!).  He leaped out of the car and shouted "The Freedom Trail!" He had learned about the house at Kansas Day and its been on his mental list to visit ever since.
The kids in the front room of Ritchie House with a pic of John Ritchie
  The tour is free, and actually only open on Mondays and Wednesdays.  There is an education center with a small exhibit detailing the era the Ritchies lived in, and then you get to tour the 1st floor of the house which is next door. The house has only sparse furnishings, and some artifacts, but the tour guide did a fantastic job of explaining the Ritchies and their role in the early Topeka time period as well as their part in the Underground Railroad.  Shorty did a wonderful job, only faltering temporarily when he grabbed a door knob on the artifact shelf and called it a hammer.  *whew*
  On to the Brown vs. Board site.  I explained the background of it on the way over.  The kids hadn't studied that yet and were fairly incredulous that segregation had happened.  I was glad to expose them to these in conjunction with each other, really makes history more easily understandable when you can merge lessons like that.
  Admission is free to this one as well, but both sites would appreciate donations.  We checked in with the Park Ranger & she started us off in the auditorium that had some artwork & video going.  The videos at Brown are so well done.  I had been several years ago and they really do a great job of detailing what led up to that decision and the effects (which is good because between chasing Shorty and trying to help kids find answers to their Ranger booklets I really didn't get to absorb anything).  When she got the intro movie up and running we moved on and watched it.  It was pretty corny, but really if you had young kids it was a good way to introduce them to why this was an important place without getting too in depth.
  The next room is my favorite, it is chalked full of why blacks were treated the way they were, the Jim Crow laws, the court cases, a timeline, and a hallway which makes you feel like you're walking in the midst of one of the race riots (it can be a little overwhelming, so keep that in mind for young kids - Shorty was unaffected though).
The riot hallway.  This pic does not do it justice.
  The whole Junior Ranger process takes on average we've found about an hour and a half.  The number of sections you need to complete varies with age, for instance, our buddy only had to complete 4 since she's 8, but our two completed 6 for ages 9+.  Which is only right since we made her do school on her day off;)  The Park Ranger swore them all in as Junior Rangers and presented them with their badge and certificate.

   Bubby is already planning our next Junior Ranger expedition to Nicodemus, KS.  I'm focusing on something closer like the National Archives in Kansas City:)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Field Trip Friday: Skating!

  We almost forgot about skating today.  Its been a really weird week.  Shorty has been sick & we had around 15 inches of snow with really cold temps so it threw us a little off.  We started out normally.  The kids had a little bit of computer time - we give them 15 minutes each day, with more occasionally.  They stretch it out a little bit by watching each other play their games:)
The boys watching Mookie play WebRangers
  While we did our devotionals for the day, Mookie worked on her dishtowel embroidery.  Papa gave her some for Christmas (and pretty much every color of the rainbow in embroidery floss) and she's been dying to start another.  She threaded her own needle this morning and she was so proud:)
  I made sure they got Math & English done and a few other side items.  This week has been a little loose.  Our buddies across the street used to be homeschooled and now that they're in public school if they're off for snow days (which they were 3x this week) we make sure the kids are available to play more readily than a regular school day.  Between that and Shorty making trips to the doctor, it cut up the week a bit, but one of the awesome things about homeschooling is being flexible!
  The timing of skating day couldn't have been better to get us out of the house!  Mookie absolutely LOVES rollerskating!  We've dropped going to the Keepers of the Faith group meetings so we can go to a monthly homeschool skate instead.  Bubby chose to stay at home with Daddy.  While we were gone, they cleaned the basement.  Its more of a cellar, so they scrubbed down the walls and chased the cobwebs away:)
  Shorty is a little too young for me to feel comfortable with him being on skates in the midst of the other skaters, so I pushed him in our umbrella stroller on the skate floor.  Mookie lapped us several times on the floor, but came by and gave us a smile every once in a while.
  Her favorite part of skate day is the limbo!  She's getting better and better, both at the limbo & skating.  There were about 100 kids doing the limbo today and she lasted until the last 25, but we didn't get any farther than that because its on a time limit.
  No trip to town is complete without running extra errands, so we grabbed some groceries and then headed to the library.  Shorty was in high gear because of a super short nap, so it was interesting at times, but its always fun:)