Saturday, May 3, 2014

Playing Catch-Up: Audubon Acres


So, you may be wondering where I’ve been.  I guess I just needed a break from blogging.  It’s a lot of work, and I choose to do it with no intent for income, so it’s just a hobby really.  There are times when I think, “I should blog that!”, but then I don’t.  And that’s ok.  But I’m here now, and I’d like to tell you about some cool things we’ve done this year. 

IMG_8782 copy

First up is our field trip to Audubon Acres.  Audubon Acres is part of Chattanooga’s oldest wildlife sanctuaries. This is an excellent place to get away from it all, (even in the middle of a major Chattanooga suburb.)  The occasional train passing by is your only reminder of where you are!   

The trails here are perfect for a nature walk.  I gave my kids some magnifying glasses to help keep their hands busy and not disturbing the wildlife.  That really worked!  Don’t forget the bug spray! 

Audubon Acres also ties in to our search for Cherokee locations.  Not only is this site rich in Cherokee history, (being the home of Little Owl, brother of Dragging Canoe,) but it’s also part of the Cherokee Arboretum and display signs about the plants here are in English and Cherokee, AND tells about how the Cherokee used each plant.  Very fascinating info here for Mom and Dad especially. Inside the visitor’s center there are displays of Native American artifacts and history of the area.  We enjoyed having a look around.

Check out all the the Chattanooga Audubon Society has to offer.  Take a look at their calendar for all their events, or just pick a pretty day and take a picnic! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What about Math?


equation on board

This morning I had a conversation with a woman in passing.  It came up that the kids are homeschooled and then it turned into one of “those” conversations about homeschooling.  If you are already a homeschooler, you know what I’m talking about.  But for those who don’t, it was a conversation where essentially my ability to teach was called into question.  It went like this:

Woman: So you’re the teacher?

Me: Yes, ma’am! 

Woman: So what was your degree in?

Me: English and Bible, (Missions specifically, but I’m not always so detailed.)

Woman: So what about when you need to teach Calculus and Chemistry?

Me: Well, anything I’m rusty on, I’m happy to relearn along with my kids.  My husband usually knows about the stuff I don’t and if there is anything we really need help with, there are always co-ops and internet courses, so we’re really not worried about it.

Though we are still new to homeschooling, this is not the first time I’ve been asked the “What about math?” question.  I’ve read some really interesting stories about questions homeschoolers are asked, and this may be one of the most common. 

I don’t think the people who ask this question are meaning to insult my intelligence or question my teaching ability.  I think they are honestly curious about homeschooling.  I think it’s also possible that their own fear of math may make them ask this.  Maybe they are really thinking, “I could never homeschool because math is hard”.  Don’t think I haven’t had that conversation with myself! 

I heard someone say that we have been taught that we can’t teach our own kids.  Is that true?  Is that keeping parents who would love to educate their children at home from doing so?  I sure hope not!

This summer, as I was planning our school year, I decided to write down some reasons that remind me I’m able to teach my kids.  I keep the list in my homeschool planner so if I ever feel discouraged, I can remember that I am well capable.  Here are just a few:

  • No one cares about our children’s education more than my husband and I do.  We will ensure they have an excellent education.
  • We have been teaching them their whole lives already!
  • I graduated from a public High School with a college prep endorsement.  I must have learned everything public education deems important, right?
  • I earned two B.A.s  This shows I know how to learn, but really, anyone who is enthusiastic about learning will be a great homeschooler, no B.A. required.
  • There are many resources for those subjects we need a little help teaching. 

The third one is my favorite.  Have you ever really thought about it?  If you went to public school, you took a range of classes the government said were important.  If you graduated from that public school, then the same government gave you their stamp of approval and sent you out into the world with everything they thought you needed to know.  So, technically, that same government thinks I’m able to teach my children.  Let that sink in.

I’m thankful for the homeschool moms who have been doing this longer than I and have written of their conversations with strangers and how they reacted politely. I pray I’ll never get defensive or snarky when asked about homeschooling in this manner, (as much as I may secretly want to) and that I’ll remember that many are just curious.  Maybe someday, someone will realize they are able to teach their children too.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Battle of Chickamauga


We had a week full of fieldtrips two weeks ago.  We started on Tuesday with our trip to the High, then on Friday we went to visit the John Ross House.  On Saturday we went to a Civil War Re-enactment.  It was just plain nuts to do so many fieldtrips in one week, but each was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed.  For example, the Civil War re-enactment wasn’t just any re-enactment. It commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga.  This was a big deal to us for several reasons. One: The Chickamauga Battlefield Park is one of our big local attractions.  Two: Everyone is making a big deal of the sesquicentennial of all the Civil War battles.  Three: My aunt is a re-enactor, which makes it even better for us. Unfortunately, Brian could not go with us, so we joined my family on this excursion. 


The re-enactment was at McLemore’s Cove in Walker County, GA.  It was quite a drive for us, but such a beautiful one.  It rained on us the whole way and didn’t stop once we arrived. We parked and had to trek through the rain to where everything was happening, not an easy feat with the double stroller I was pushing.  We all thought we were completely crazy to do it, but we were already committed to the endeavor. It was lunchtime when we arrived, so we grab some food from the vendors and ate lunch in a sheltered area.  During that time, it pretty much stopped raining.  I’m not sure we could have lasted much longer in that kind of rain.  We went down the hill to where the shops were and met up with my aunt. 


I love this picture even though my hair was drenched.  You’re not looking at my hair anyway, you’re looking at those two sweet little faces.


There’s Aunt Teresa in her re-enactment garb.  Don’t you just love her 19th Century sunglasses?  Just kidding, she forgot her other glasses in her tent.


We strolled down the lane and looked through all the shops. One of the shops had a feather pen for the kids to try. I practically had to drag them away.










My mom bought the kids souvenirs.  Sophie found a lovely bonnet and Liam found a cool wooden gun. 


While we were down at the shops, the soldiers started to march out.


We were really close to all the action.  We decided to make our way back up the hill before they started with the cannons.  I don’t think the kids would have handled them well so close.




We watched the battle for a while, then we went to the makeshift town on the side of the hill.  There were many tents to show the kind of entourage the army would have had.  This lady was making dinner.






We visited the midwife’s tent.  She showed us the tools of her trade, it was very interesting.

Aunt Teresa was in the civilian camp.  She told me that there were people who followed the soldiers around for different reasons.  Sometimes it was soldier’s families to help take care of their needs.  Sometimes is was people who’s homes had been destroyed and really had no where else to go.  Their clothes would not have been fancy, which is good since her camp was down a deeply muddy road. 


We finally made it back to our car.  Our road was muddy too and I was happy that I didn’t get stuck! 

Going to a re-enactment is fun for everyone.  It brings history alive and helps children understand the way things were long ago. 

If you’d like to see more photos of the re-enactment, check out these links.

Thousands Attend 150th Anniversary Civil War Reenactment | Photos - ABC News


The Civil War re-enactment in 6 animated GIFs – Times Free Press


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The John Ross House


As I mentioned in another post, we have some Native American blood in our family.  We come from the Cherokees.  It’s not unusual to have Cherokee ancestors in this region as this was their land before many were forced to leave, (some Cherokees hid, and some became citizens of their state and were allowed to stay).  There are many points of interest in our area that relate to the Cherokee people, and we intend to visit them, one by one, with our children.  I’m excited by this because there are some that I’m sure I have never seen myself. 

This last week was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, (more on that later), and the John Ross House in Rossville was open, and had a Civil War re-enactor present.  My childhood home was just down the road from this house, and I saw it in passing many times.  It has been so long since I’ve been in the house that I couldn’t remember anything about it.  Fieldtrip!! 


John Ross was a part Cherokee man, who among other things, was an Indian agent, founder of Ross’s Landing which would later become Chattanooga and Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  He would go to Washington to fight for Cherokee rights, and when removal was forced, he traveled the Trail of Tears.  His home, in what was then called Poplar Spring, but then changed to Rossville, GA in his honor, has been preserved and occasionally opened to the public. 



The house was used as headquarters for both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. George Barnard, Civil War photographer, took the following picture of the house in its original location, (it was moved a few hundred feet in 1962).

John Ross House by George Barnard


It turns out that this historic marker is full of errors.  I’m not too crushed by this because I love the science and research that has brought information to light.  Check it out in this article.  Maybe someday there can be a new sign.

Any child that grew up in the area probably spent a good amount of time at the duck pond adjacent to the house.  We made a little visit that day.


This little guy was quackin’ me up! 


This one had astonishing blue eyes.

The John Ross House is only open at certain times.  I believe you can call and make an appointment to see the inside.  It is always viewable from the outside, so you can drive by for a look and visit the duck pond.

The John Ross House

200 East Lake Avenue Rossville, GA 30741


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Visit to the High Museum of Art


Tuesday we went on an amazing fieldtrip to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to see the exhibit Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.  This was a fantastic exhibit with the star being Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring

Our first stop at the High was the photo booth.  Sophie and I had on our vintage “pearl” clip on earrings that I found at an estate sale. They didn’t last long on Sophie as she isn’t accustomed to earrings that are not stickers.


There was no photography allowed in the gallery.  We wrote down the names of each painting as we went, but you can buy the official catalogue for the exhibit in the gift shop for $35.  It lists all the paintings in the exhibit, divided into the different types of paintings: Portraits and Tronies, Landscapes and Seascapes, Genre Paintings, History Paintings, and Still Lifes.  There are also chapters on Dutch 17th Century Painting, the Mauritshuis and it’s expansion. It would make a great souvenir to remember these 35 beautiful paintings.

Before our trip, I downloaded the Audio Tour from iTunes.  Sophie was so cute with her ear buds in, soaking up everything from the paintings while listening to the Kids’ guide.  The guide does not include every painting, but enough that it kept Sophie interested. Sometimes though, we had to tell her to be patient while we looked at some that were not on the guide.  She really learned a lot, and even taught us a few things. We were actually looking at a still life that was not on the guide and commenting on how pretty the flowers were. Sophie told us that one of them was a cabbage rose.  She had just learned that from another painting! 

Abraham van Beyeren - Flowers Still Life with a Timepiece, 1665 (Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis The Hague) at Dutch Paintings from Mauritshuis Exhibit at de Young Museum of Fine Arts - San Francisco CA

Flower Still Life with a Timepiece by Abraham van Beyeren

Later, when I asked her what her favorite painting was, she said it was The Sick Girl by Jan Steen.  When I asked her why, she said it was funny because of Cupid and how the doctor thought she should get married.  He thought she was love sick!  She learned that from the guide, and chose it as her favorite. 

Jan Steen - The Sick Girl, 1662 (Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis The Hague) at Dutch Paintings from Mauritshuis Exhibit at de Young Museum of Fine Arts - San Francisco CA

Liam is only 3, and I was worried that he would not enjoy the exhibit. He rode in the stroller for about half of the exhibit.  We noticed that many paintings had a glare from his view, so we carried him around too. I found different ways to engage him.  Obviously, there are many things to see in the landscapes and still lifes that would interest a little boy.  On the way home I asked him what his favorite picture was, he thought about it and surprised me by saying, “the flowers and bugs.”

Owly Images

I would sometimes ask Liam questions about the paintings, like in Ruisdael’s Winter Landscape.  I simply asked him if this this picture was warm or cold.  He knew it was cold.

Owly Images

Liam also liked Steen’s genre painting As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young.  This is a very large painting, and he felt like the little girl on the right was saying “Hey!” to him. 

Jan Steen - Joyful Company, Painter's Family, 1657 at Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

My personal favorite was The Goldfinch by Fabritius.  I should mention that except for the Girl With a Pearl Earring and the Steen painting above, you can get very close to all the other paintings.  This means you can get your eyeballs right up to it and check out the amazing details and brush strokes.  Standing so close to The Goldfinch took my breath away.  It was just beautiful! 

Owly Images

There are a few paintings by Rembrandt in the exhibit.  What a great experience!

Owly Images

The last painting in the exhibit is Girl With a Pearl Earring.  We sat on the bench and talked about her with the kids.  Since they are young, any memory of this day will be fuzzy.  So I wanted to do something that would help them remember.  We talked about how someday when they are older, they can remember seeing her that day.  We talked about how pretty she was.  We joked about who she was staring at in our family.  Both kids waved at her; that was cute.  We stood near her and looked at her details.  We said goodbye to her when it was time to leave.  We bought the finger puppet in the gift shop for the kids to share.  Liam would put it on his finger and say in a silly voice, “Hi, I’m the girl with a pearl earring.”  Sophie played with it and exclaimed, “I solved the mystery! She had two earrings, but in the painting you can only see one!” 

After the exhibit, we had a picnic out in the courtyard. 


The kids were able to run around a little and act goofy.




After lunch, we went back in to look at some other exhibits.  There were a few very interesting pieces in the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries. This piece caught our attention as well as this awesome Crochet chair.  I loved the European Art galleries.  The Renaissance art is exquisite!  Brian and kids saw their first Monet and we all saw our first Renoir!  Some other famous names there were Degas, Rodin, Matisse, and Pissarro, to name a few.

I would recommend checking out the small exhibit American Encounters: Genre Paintings and Everyday Life.  Dutch Bonus: Jan Steen’s Festive Family Meal is on loan from the Louvre and can be viewed there.

We could have spent more time at the High, but we ran out of time!  The kids were so good and actually enjoyed the museum more than I thought they would.  Liam was so tired that he fell asleep in the gift shop at the end.


The Mauritshuis exhibit is here until the 29th.  I encourage anyone who even remotely enjoys art to go and see this.  It is beyond worth the drive, parking and price of admission.  It is a stunning collection of art.   Do not miss it!  Tomorrow is actually one of the High’s Homeschool Days.  Admission is discounted and homeschoolers even get a discount in the gift shop.  But if you can’t make it tomorrow, next week would be a great time to go as they have extended hours for the final week of the exhibit. 

Thanks a bunch to Art History Mom for the tickets, we had such a wonderful time!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Field Trip to…Nana’s!


Last week, we made a spontaneous visit to my grandmother’s house.  The kids were really excited.  Everyone loves Nana!  I took some school things with us, but we didn’t even touch them.  A trip to Nana’s can be very educational by itself.

The kids watched Nana make biscuits and were able to roll some of their own. All that play-doh practice really came in handy!

IMG_8955IMG_8957IMG_9040IMG_9041 copy

We went to the Veteran’s Memorial in Huntsville and saw Papa’s brick.  Papa died 10 years ago, so my kids never knew him. 


Later, Nana told Sophie about some of her Native American ancestors, (Sophie was curious about them.)  We looked over pictures, poured over documents and went on


We also went to visit a turtle habitat just a couple blocks from Nana’s house.  There were probably 4-5 different kinds of turtles, including one giant snapper that Liam called “Big Guy”. 


We had a great time at Nana’s!  We were able to count all these things as school, and they were things we would have done anyway!  Being able to pack up and go somewhere is a great benefit to homeschooling.  We couldn’t have done this if Sophie were in a traditional school as we went mid-week. 



Here is Sophie’s Sketch Tuesday drawing from this week.  The theme was something with wheels.  Sophie chose to do a concrete mixer.  We had to look up one online for her to copy.  She did a great job! 


Be sure to check in every Tuesday at Harmony Fine Arts to see the new assignments and the previous week’s slideshow!