Friday, March 18, 2016

Field Trip: George & Grandpa Elmer

  We weren't necessarily going anywhere today.  A crammed schedule ahead of us was looming and I was happy to stay put.  Then you throw in something we needed to get to Ducky and the opportunity for a free showing of George Washington's inaugural Bible and we were off!
  Thursday I was checking my Facebook newsfeed and found this on one of the local history groups I belong to via the Kansas Grand Lodge:
How often is that going to happen 1/2 hr. from where you live?  Even if we didn't need to get something to Ducky, we just might have made the trip anyway ;)
  We met Ducky at the hotel hosting the event.  When we walked in we saw a room with a sign saying something about Masonic historical items.  We saw Bibles and assumed we were in the right place.  Wrong place, but we took a look around anyway.  We found some wonderful old Bibles, including a Martin Luther Bible from the 1680s.
Reminded me of our trip to see the Passages exhibit in Springfield.  While Ducky ran around with Shorty and Mookie and Bubby explored one way I rotated the other and found this:
A bunch of old Masons on the steps of the Kansas capitol from 1914. Cool pic and wouldn't mean anything unless your great-grandpa was a Kansas Mason.  So I scoured the picture and found him!
The archivist had told me that the guys in the front couple of rows especially were only the top guys.  Grandpa Elmer Gentry was the highest level Mason you can be, so I wasn't too surprised he was among the group.  To tell the truth, him being a high level Mason isn't something I'm particularly proud of. But, it is part of our family and history in general - so it opened another teaching moment for the kiddos.  I've said it before, but there is such an advantage to helping the kids personalize history.
  I almost could have gone home after finding that.  For a genealogist something like that can make your year!  But, in all seriousness we couldn't miss George's Bible.  So on we journeyed.
This gentleman brought the Bible from New York where it is housed with one of the Lodges there.  I have blanked his face because I did not ask to take the picture.  He did a fantastic job of telling the kids the story of how it came to be used by Washington for his inauguration, which Presidents have used it since and misc. other stories (Shorty was giving me a run for my money at this point so I did not have a chance to listen to the whole speech which I was sad about but not unexpected with a lively 4 year old boy).  The gentleman encouraged the kids to come behind the Bible and get their pictures taken.
Pretty darn cool!  It makes me wonder how many things like this are out there and available to visit for the general public, but aren't widely known.  We feel very blessed to have had this opportunity!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Little Things: Sale Barn

  In continuance of our stopping to do the little things, this week it was the "sale barn".  I am ashamed at how long it has taken us to do this one.  On the edge of our little town is the livestock auction house.  It is a popular place to grab a lunch and watch the cows on Mondays.  We have lived in town 15 years and I. have. never. been. :( I think the knowing of how busy it can get and not wanting to make a faux pas (especially with kiddos in tow) has been my main excuse in recent years for not going.  But no more.  Shorty had it on his list and was getting adamant about it.  In fact I heard about it all last week after we missed it on Monday.  The only reason I remembered it today was because I was lying in bed last night and then I heard the mournful mooing of the cows waiting for the big day.  I made Hubby promise to remind me.  And we didn't forget :)
waiting for the auction to start
We arrived just before sale time to get good seats.  Wow!  Those auctioneers had it down to an art form getting those cows and bulls through the arena.  Fast paced for sure!  The kids' favorite parts were the young calves and then the longhorns (there were two), which rekindled excitement of an upcoming trip to our much loved Wichita Mountains. 
We saw numerous buddies and had a grand time. The kids are excited to go back and so am I.  So, no more fear of the unknown and another "someday" off the list!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Free Day with a Twist

  We shuttled Hubby around for work one day this past week, but it wasn't a normal free day, we had a furry companion with us too.  A couple of weeks ago we took in a miniature pinscher for a friend while they are away.  She has some health problems currently so she needs us to stay close at hand, so she got to come with us.
  We started out our time at the Kansas Historical Society.  Pup stayed in the car while we played in the Discovery Area.  It was a beautiful spring day of about 50 degrees, we cracked the windows and set a timer for a half hour in the play area.
  We really enjoyed the newly re-vamped trails section of the play area.
We'd loaded the covered wagon before, but this time I made them add up all the packages to see how much they weighed.  Bubby is carrying over 1500 pounds in the picture.  Boy is he strong ;)
After our time was up, we headed outside to the playground.  Pup and the kids enjoyed the cool, breezy day and mom, well, she just sat and took it all in :)
  Our next stop was to the library.  We set another goal of a half hour.  When gas was so high and we were cramming all kinds of errands into a day in the city, we got this down to an art ;) We came out loaded down with books and took Pup to the park across the street for some leg stretching.
This accomplished one of my goals for the year.  To take time doing little oddities along the way.  We do the big trips and do them up well, but to stop and go to that tiny park right across from the library that has those cool gargoyles salvaged from a historic Topeka building - even just for a few minutes.  Doing those things you always pass by, but don't take time to do - that's what I want to do more of this year!  One checked off of the list :)
  Daddy was working in rural Shawnee County which allowed us to oogle wonderful historic houses like this one when we were dropping him off and picking him up. The big kids have come to appreciate looking along the way, Shorty begged to watch a movie and Mommy responded with "watch the movie that is going by out your window..." lol.  Poor kid...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

We love our libraries!

  Yesterday we took advantage of one of our local library's programming for a "school's out" day since Lawrence Public Schools had the day off.  They had staff from the Kansas Cosmosphere come and talk on different subjects, including the one we attended which was "Life in Space".
Our speaker's PowerPoint presentation included neat videos of astronauts in space doing their everyday thing.  He brought a variety of space foods, and other props for hands on pass arounds for the kids.  They left the talk totally thrilled!  The library also has had on display an indoor planetarium and spaceman "Steve".  We'd looked Steve over the past couple of times we've been, but got our picture taken with him this time!
I love the Lawrence Library.  They just went through a major renovation a couple of years ago and while there's parts of the new I don't appreciate they kept alot of the essence of what I always have.  They have unique books.  Interesting books that we can't find at other libraries.  Sure, they have the run of the mill, but they are eclectic in some of the things that they carry.  They have wonderful reading nooks and of course the fish and train table.  They also have walls of windows!  There is nothing more inviting than an area that seems to have no barrier to the outside...
Shorty playing puppets in the kids section
We not only utilize the Lawrence Library, but we are in the unique situation by virtue of where we live that enables us to use our small town library, Lawrence (1/2 hr. away) and also Topeka (which is also 1/2 hr. away). All have great programming for kiddos and some specifically for homeschoolers.
  Our small town library we use for everyday reading - fiction chapter books, picture books and general background for studies we are doing.  They can interlibrary loan most things which is a blessing, just takes a little planning.  We also utilize the local one a ton because it has no late fees, the other ones do.  Those are stinkers!  We try to stay on top of overdues, but there's always that one time...
  The Topeka library is a typical big city library.  We make it to Topeka and Lawrence at least once a month, so it's not too bad of a balancing act with due dates of every 3 weeks.  The Topeka library has more variety of the mainstream books, so that next Boxcar Children might be on hand there.  Or if we need a bigger variety for our Chemistry studies we can grab some extras in the regular kids section or the teacher's library (that's a neat bonus!).  Their children's section is one of a kind too.  One of my artist buddies did a fantastic job painting murals that really draw a person in.  There's a bookshelf made to look like a bus, and a dinosaur standing in the middle of one of the rooms and his upper body disappears into the ceiling!  And of course, the fish.  What kids section would be complete without them? ;)
  A library is the homeschooler's best friend.  We are still finding ways that we can better use what they offer in our schooling.  I am so pleased that the ones we have in our area are homeschool friendly and readily accessible :)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Field Trip: Great Overland Station

  I have been putting this blog off for a while.  This is one that will bring on the tears (box of Kleenax is nearby as I write).  Back in October, Bubby and I took a buddy of his, Grandma and Shorty to the Great Overland Station in Topeka.  We'd been before, so it was low on my list but they had a special exhibit on firefighting in Topeka - well, that's all they had to say.  Actually, I almost put it off too long and missed it, but we made it the week before the exhibit closed.
  My Papa Mauzey (Grandma's dad) was a Topeka firefighter.  I am extremely proud of him.  He is my hero in so many ways.  He would be the first to tell you that he wasn't a hero because of his firefighting duties even though he saved lives.  I always thought different though, I like being contrary and I claim that comes partly from him.
My Papa
He was very opinionated (this may be an understatement).  He never let you doubt where he stood on an issue, and would even sometimes take a stance contrary to yours just for the sake of argument  - he loved a good debate ;)  That being said, when we started homeschooling the kids, he was one of our biggest supporters.  I always wondered about that because I had a stereotype in my head that his generation would be more status quo.  It might be that it was because they grew up in the time of one-room schoolhouses and education was much different than what it is today.  I didn't broach the subject, but now I wish I had. 
Me & my Papa, during a bicentennial parade, 1976

  Our relationship wasn't at it's peak though until after I got to be an adult.  I think we could relate to each other better.  We'd have long discussions about anything and everything.  I'd tell him all the new family history I was learning and he'd listen interested.  He loved hearing it, just no desire to seek it out himself. And he would engage me in conversations of anything new he had learned.
  And when Hubby and I had the two older kids and they got past the baby stage - oh, Papa adored them!  They had his heart and he theirs
  So, when we got to the Great Overland Station we were all excited to see some of Papa's firefighting stories fleshed out in pictures.
Bubby looking at the Methodist Home display
One of them was the United Methodist home fire.  This was one of Papa's first fires he fought.  It was pretty intense and one that made another newbie firefighter leave the force.
The artifacts from the Grace Cathedral fire were interesting....
Shorty was not very tolerant of the time being spent in the exhibit, so thankfully there was a hands on area downstairs which suited him just fine.
There was a model train set and even a real train too!

We spent most of our time at the model train
The kids stuff was fun for everyone, even cool grandparents!
Bottom line, trains never disappoint and anything that relates to family is always awesome! ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures as a Legislative Page

  He was the most nervous I'd seen him in a long time.  This morning Bubby was getting ready to go off to the Kansas capitol and work as a legislative page for the day and he was dragging his feet.  I knew he'd have fun and be totally enthralled with it all, but sometimes you just can't tell them, they have to experience it.  So, I shipped him out the door with Hubby for a day he wasn't so sure was an adventure.
But it was.  Truly, it was the best day to be a page.  He didn't get to meet the governor because it was such a busy day for politics, but the action of the day - it was the payoff.  He got to tour the capitol from bottom to top (literally, he got to go out on the cupola, which is good because after last time I told him I'd not be the one to take him up there again *shudder*).  Then he was in helping during the House session the rest of the time.  He got to bring copies of a bill to the chamber for those needing it and then watch as they debated the same bill and tried to amend it.  He was so thrilled with the entire process that when I arrived he asked if we could watch some more so he could see them vote on it again.  Now he's ready to go back again next year!
  It was a relatively easy process to get signed up.  You send your name and a short description of why you want to be a page to one of your local representatives.  We chose Rep. Ken Corbet.  Representative Corbet responded that same afternoon and gave us further instructions on what to do.  His assistant followed up when the official paperwork was sent out.  They had us arrive at a certain time on our chosen day and receive a briefing. Aside from bringing copies of the bill to those that needed them, he ran other paperwork and messages to representatives on the floor.  What a way to learn the political process!  I wish I'd had that opportunity when I was a kiddo!  Hubby was a page when he was Bubby's age and they shared stories this evening.  Bubby has already been talking up the experience to a reluctant Mookie.  Although, it sounds like she'll have someone willing to go and show her the ropes ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Field Trip: Wichita

  Work took Hubby and I to Wichita today.  One of the perks of being your own boss is getting to take family along.  So we met up with Ducky and Grandma and headed out.  Our first stop was the Old Mill Tasty Shop.  Ducky and Grandma knew that it was a popular eating place so we got there right at 11am to beat any lunch crowd - I'm glad we did.  We were easily seated and dined on yummy things like the lasagna special, chili and crab salad sandwiches and cherry limeades (made on site).  Our server, Oliver, was fantastic (he's my vote for best server we've had over the past year).  Afterward we took part in yummy carrot cake and shakes - can you say stuffed? ;)  When we left the place was packed with periods of people waiting to be seated - yay for excellent timing!
Tasty treats at the Tasty Shop
  Hubby and I dropped everyone off at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum to wander while we went to our meeting at WSU.  Wichita has many opportunities for field trips, but since our trips to Wichita are few and far between and our time was limited, we went for local and less expensive admission.  The kids had a blast. Although when you are with your grandparents, how can you not? ;)

There weren't as many hands on activities, but there were enough like the antique phone booth with the rotary dial and the old typewriter. 
  When they finished with their time there, they took a hike through the downtown while on their way to the Transportation Museum (which is near the Tasty Shop).  They were fascinated by the bronze statues along the way and took some fantastic pictures of them interacting with them...

And trains!  The railroad passes right through downtown, much to Shorty's joy.
But, the Transportation Museum was closed, poor planning on my part.  I had neglected to double check the hours.  However, a wonderful man who was gearing up for a display there this coming weekend heard them rattle the doors and gave them some railroading magazines and pamphlets.
  Since it was chilly they went in search of hot chocolate at Expresso To Go Go which was a little coffee shop we had seen close to the Tasty Shop with a huge disco ball hanging from the ceiling.  Mookie declared the hot chocolate the best she had ever had.
Waiting on hot chocolate
We joined the fam there for our own treat before we hit the road. Those gals at Expresso To Go Go took really good care of us, and it will definitely be a place that is worth a repeat visit. 
  One place that is on our list for a possible future trip is the Great Plains Nature Center, but that will have to wait for an even warmer day ;)