Monday, February 13, 2017

Walking the maze

On a recent trip to Johnson County, Kansas we encountered a labyrinth at a local church.  The kids were excited to run the maze and see who could come out the end first.  After reminding them that no matter where we are we needed to be respectful, especially with items associated with religion, they completed wandering its path at a slower pace.
Hahahaha, silly kids, they thought they would be done at the walking of the labyrinth.  With homeschooling, EVERYTHING is a life lesson.  We took pictures of the explanation of the labyrinth and had Bubby read them to us as we traveled to our next destination.  We then talked about what we learned and how it agreed or didn't agree with our worldview.  One of my personal pet peeves is people not knowing why they believe what they believe or just pushing an opinion without regard to the background of others.  Hopefully one day our kiddos will be reinforced with the knowledge they need and be able to stand fast in their beliefs and listen to opposing viewpoints while being respectful <3 br="">

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Field Trip: Hanging with the eagles

This fall has me all kinds of distracted.  I took a bit of time off, but hopefully will organize my time a bit more to include regular blogging again. In August we took a much needed family trip which included Effigy Mounds in Iowa and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin.  We ended our trip with a neat pause at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.  I had never heard of it before and we might not have stopped because we were travel weary, but we had some time and it had come highly recommended by a cousin and so we worked it in.
The kids hanging out with a statue of Wabasha in front of the National Eagle Center

We were not disappointed.  During the day they have a special talk by one of the keepers which allows a limited audience to see an eagle being fed.  We were a shade late to attend, and Bubby our "want to learn it and see it all kid" was pretty disappointed.  There was so much else to do though, that the disappointment was soon forgotten.

We were able to get up close and personal with these guys anyway in the viewing arena.  They were pretty talkative at times too because of a recent addition to the bunch.  All the eagles living at the center are rescue animals. 

The center was great for learning by all ages.  Everywhere you looked were interactive and colorful displays.  Our favorites were the eagle nest...
This is a life-sized model and Shorty pretended to be the "egg".
We also enjoyed matching the animals on this board that had pelts, antlers and feathers of local wildlife.
As a parent, one of my favorite experiences was not part of the center at all.  The kids and I were approached by a gentleman who used to be a former teacher and just wanted to show the kids how to make words into cartoons.  He was a little cautious about being a stranger interacting out of the blue, but we were blessed that he did!

This little side trip really was a nice end to what was one of our favorite trips  - but don't make me say which ones are my favorite, because really most are in their own way ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


  We've bumped around in history a bit this past week, getting to relive it with those re-telling their own stories, or watching an interpretation of it played out before us.  Parts of the wonderful blessings of homeschooling :)
  A while back, while posting some of my Granddad Murray's World War II pictures to the internet, I discovered that his division, the 504th Bomber group was on-line and I got hooked up with them.  It has been my desire to be able to attend one of their reunions and this year it was only an hour away from us in Kansas City!  Granddad did not fly on the bombers, he was part of the medical division and was an x-ray technician.  He used to tell stories of how he would watch the bombers come in to the island of Tinian where he was stationed.
  Our oldest, Bubby, is especially in to anything war related lately.  This includes everything from the Civil War, World War I or II, so Hubby and I made sure he was able to attend with us :) The day we picked to attend consisted of a POW-MIA ceremony and dinner.
  The POW-MIA ceremony was performed by a local ROTC and involved a symbolic table set for the missing soldier and a reading of the 504th men who lost their lives during the war.
  Our favorite part of the day was getting to visit with the five 504th veterans and one Marine in attendance.  Bubby found a new friend, Fiske.  Fiske served on one of the bombers and was captured as a POW (prisoner of war). I have bemoaned the fact many times that this kiddo's great-grandpas are not around to share their experiences with him.  What an awesome experience for this kid to get to meet some of the men who served where one of his great-grandpas served!
  This may have been our first time attending something like this, but it's not our last.  This is another wonderful way to encourage the love of history for our next generation!
  Continuing with our war theme, just today we were able to witness a reenactment of the Battle of Hickory Point here in NE Kansas.  This is one of the battles during the Bleeding Kansas era when pro-slavery and free-staters were battling it out quite literally for control of Kansas Territory.  This was to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the battle (which took place 5 miles to the north of Oskaloosa where we were) and just a perfect day for it! We joined a couple hundred Jefferson County school kids to watch the excitement!
It was thrilling to see the battle and hear the roar of the cannon - well, only if you prepared yourself for that one, it was quite startling ;) 
Next week in further continuance of the war theme, Bubby will once again be able to take place in a reenactment of the Battle of BlackJack, another Bleeding Kansas battle.  We're setting quite a precedent with these kinds of trips, a museum might seem kind of tame after this...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Field Trip: Effigy Mounds

  A real vacation!  *sigh* a long time coming, but this trip brought no deadlines, except when to check in and check out of lodging.  Yay!  Our first stop was Effigy Mounds National Monument near Marquette, IA.  It was another stop where we could pick up a Junior Ranger badge!  We did this part of our trip in to sections the afternoon when we arrived in the area and then we took advantage of the little museum area and finished our Ranger requirements.

We were so late in the day that we were one of the only ones there and we got to spread out a bit.  Shorty was wired for sound having waited patiently (if you count two dozen "are we there yet" queries) and finally I told him, "I think they saw a table just for you over here", silently thanking God for touch tables all the way.  
The next morning, we braved the chance of rain and took a hike.  Effigy Mounds gives a guided tour twice a day, but because of the threatening rain the morning session was cancelled.  A wonderful ranger gave Bubby an outdated guide book (it contained markers that were no longer visible even though the features were there) and Bubby was our guide on the Fire Point trail, regaling us with stories of the mounds - it was even better than having a ranger with us ;)
conical mounds on the left

bear mound - you're looking at his head and foot

the Mighty Mississip, but Shorty was more interested in the train track ;)
Before we took off from the area, we stopped in nearby McGregor, Iowa. Excellent pizza, excellent bookstore and "refrigerators" of old carved into the limestone cliffs.  One thing we learned on our entire trip to the North Woods was that one week was not going to cut it ;)
A little fun in McGregor, IA

McGregor, IA

Monday, August 1, 2016

Field Trip: Pocket Parks

  Topeka just re-vamped its downtown area in an attempt to make it more inviting.  I've been seeing all the pictures of its new "pocket parks" and I've been dying to go!! Each park has to do with Kansas or Topeka.  We started at the south end and made the loop...
Icabod Washburn

some Kansas wheat (this is a Christmas pic I think ;) )
We HAD to stop at our favorite chocolate place - Hazel Hill. They informed us that we can check out checkers for them and monster chess pieces from the business next door for use on the boards on the sidewalk adjacent - yeah, we're going back for that and taking some buddies! After some truffles, chocolate dipped Nutter Butters and a peanut butter cup, we continued!
This picture reflects the kiddos pretty well ;)
These medallions were pretty great.  They highlighted all the state symbols.  My favorite were the box turtle (shown) and the honeybees.  My only complaint... near the medallion for the state grass (bluestem) there was some grasses....plain ornamental grass.  And near the medallion for the state tree (cottonwood) there was one of the few trees planted downtown... a ginko.  What in the world??? Yes, maybe the state symbols wouldn't thrive there, but it did seem a little confusing ;)
Bubby's favorite

 My favorite was the railroading park. The statue of Cyrus K. Holiday is utterly fantastic with a 3D map under his feet and the associated statuary of the train, signal and train wheel benches are just so cool! 

 A fun time was had by all and Topeka definitely made us want to come back downtown again really soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Field Trip: The Wild West

  We don't often get out to western Kansas.  We love it though.  There's something about the remote locations, land where you can see forever and the slower pace that we really enjoy.  Some of our buddies who live far away and are near and dear to our hearts were coming as close as Phillipsburg and while that is not close to us, it is close enough, and we jumped at the chance to see them. 
  We don't do anything normal, so we drove some back roads on the trip out, giving Bubby some opportunity to try out his photography skills..
When we arrived, our buddies had a field trip planned that if we had made the trip ourselves, we would have missed.  It was this excellent model train and museum in the Phillipsburg community center, open only by appointment.  Shorty was so thrilled that he couldn't stand still.  He chased the trains as they rounded the track.  I gave up trying to lift him to see the trains when they were too high for him - he was too fast!
Part of the community center's museum was a great display of the history of photography and the life's work of a local photographer (who also donated the train set). 
The time with our buddies was amazing. We came away with cherished wonderful memories and anticipation of those come :) 
  On the way home we made a stop at the Garden of Eden.  Before we got there though, we found Waldo! ;)
 I was about Mookie and Bubby's age when I last was at the Garden of Eden.  It's a quirky, cement, folk art creation of a former Civil War veteran.  One of the 8 wonders of Kansas apparently.  Now we need to research what those are, so we can add more things to our list!
Bubby ended up taping a video tour of the site.  He is going to be our videographer in trips to come ;)

There is an opportunity to "meet" the artist himself at the end of the tour.  Old Mr. Dinsmore, the creator of all of this, designed his own mausoleum and casket with glass so he could be viewed after his death.  Bubby was totally intrigued and therefore Shorty and then Mookie.  We all paid our respects and declared him not quite as bad looking as we expected, even if he was a little moldy ;)

A bit of a whirlwind trip, but full of wonderful memories <3 br="">

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Field Trip: Hiawatha

  This last week has been cRaZy!  Hubby and Bubby have been volunteering at an amateur archaeological dig in Council Grove, KS (more to come on that later). Then our work took us up to Hiawatha area near the Nebraska border.  Hiawatha was among one of the first stops my family took when we started taking summer trips when I was growing up. So although it is small potatoes, I was glad to go back. 
  Of course, any time we can meet up with Ducky and Grandma is a bonus and it worked for them to come along! We started out at the Brown County Historical Society so I could do a little historical research and everyone else browsed the displays.  The top floor had a ton of militaria and Bubby was in high heaven.  Although the top and first floors had displays, the basement was the most engaging for everyone in general. They had little rooms that showcased life from bygone eras. 

And other local displays like "the birds of Brown County".  The museum, like many county museums, is based solely on donations, but this museum seemed to have a knack for putting those donations to good use telling the story of everyday life in Brown County. 
  I separated from the rest of the group after the Historical Society.   Their next stop was the Ag Museum. The museum staff there did a great job engaging the kids in finding artifacts in the displays.  Shorty also got to ring the school house bell - which is always just totally cool!
The last Hiawatha stop was the Davis Memorial, which is one of the notable Kansas sights.  John Davis memorialized his and his wife's life in stone and you can see it in the local cemetery.
It has seen some vandalism, but is still rather impressive.  The big kids took notes throughout the whole excursion, which thrilled me!
  I would be amiss if I didn't mention our new favorite place to eat in Hiawatha - The Bread Bowl.
Shorty playing with one of the lunch boxes at the Bread Bowl
Croissants, wraps, and cookies - oh my!  We enjoyed it so much, we went back the next day and got lunch again (and red velvet donuts! Ooooooh, I'd make the 2 hr. trip again just for red velvet donuts).  I have decided that after this trip we are making a map of the Kansas counties where we can check off which ones we've been to.  We've covered quite a few within this last year alone with more to come :)