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Showing posts from March, 2013

Our Week in Pictures

Teachable Moments

While in Tennessee I also reflected if I wanted to keep blogging.  Usually I blog on the road.  I love writing down my feelings real time, as opposed to sorting through pictures of what we did and trying to recapture the excitement days later.  This trip however, I had no desire.  I could have left my computer at home and saved myself the little bit of cargo space.
I feel like my blog has become a photo album of our family, rather than an online journal, which is okay, it is just a change.  Recently I read through many of my old journals, some paper journals, others made on the computer but printed out and kept safe in three ring binders.  My writing is very honest.  It came from the heart of who I am.  It was not censored by the nagging realization that people will read it.  I just wrote for me.  I wrote so that my daughters would understand how hard it is to raise children and work.  Or how much I enjoyed those days of walks around my neighborhood pushing a stroller while holding a d…

A Day In The Life : Seven Cool Homeschoolers!

A Decision

In my self reflection-vacation-mode of the past few weeks I came to another decision I have been struggling to make lately.For some time I have debated dropping my role as 5th grade Religious Education Teacher at my church, a role I have had for 5 years. 
Can we realistically do everything we want to and do it well?  Of course not.  Something has to give.  I cannot be the sole person responsible for the health, nutrition, home care, pet care, laundry, cleaning, education of my children and spiritual education of other people’s children.  I looked at what in my life I can let go.  I can give up some of the home care, the pet care and the nutrition responsibilities by asking the girls to do more. They have been helping more with the laundry, with the dishes, and with the animals.  It helps so much.  Girls....I know you are reading this.  Thank you.
I decided to let go of religious ed.  After 5 years, I felt perhaps it was time for another parent to volunteer the…

Step One...

I am a firm believe that God gives us signs that help guide us through life.  We have the choice to listen to him, or ignore him and carry on in our own way.  It is not often that Greg and I both see the same signs pointing us in the same direction at the same time.  
I felt an overwhelming sense of content in Tennessee.  It has been a long time since the 4 of us had quality time together away from the responsibilities that come with our “normal” weekend.  Our normal weekend includes a yoga class, food shopping at three different stores, a run to the dry cleaner, religious education, church, family dinner and cleaning the house.  I am certainly not complaining, but our lives seem to be so rushed that time together is a luxury we just don’t have right now.  
In Chattanooga we met a shopkeeper who owned a book store / yarn store / odds and ends store.  We had an interesting discussion about religion, she being a southern Baptist and we being Roman Catholics from the Northeast.....she told…

Young Musicians Festival

For the past few months, Grace has been preparing to participate in a local Young Musicians Festival that was held at Fairfield University.  It is a non-competitive experience where young musicians play two pieces from memory in front of a panel of experts who do not “judge”, but rather offer a critique on the playing and rate the musician.  
Grace entered as an intermediate player.  I have listened to Grace play every day for years.  The songs she works on become part of our family’s day to day life because we hear them over and over again.  In a way, her playing is how we do composer studies, since she prefers classical pieces over popular ones.  We have heard Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky to name a few of the great composers. 
Having never participated in something like this, we had no expectations.  Taking vacation the week before was not ideal because it limited her ability to practice.  My mother in law contacted her friend and neighbor who is a pianist and owns a lovely Yamaha ba…

Seven Cool Homeschoolers Debut

The girls have been invited to join a youtube channel called 7 Cool Homeschoolers.  We  don’t use youtube to its full advantage.  We use it to find obscure educational videos like animated Shakespeare videos put out by the BBC and we watch The History Teachers’ amazing videos that bring our history to life, but there is a world out there on youtube that I never knew existed.  
Friends of ours, Theresa’s daughters, have been fans of the site Seven Super Girls and her youngest daughter Piper envisioned a channel about seven super homeschool girls.  Grace and Lilah were invited to join.  Piper posts the weekly topic and the girls work to create a video in their own style that will be uploaded to the channel on a specific day.  
My girls are not cinematographers.  It never has been their thing.  Grace has always had her weather studies and Lilah, her baking club.  This is Piper’s thing, and to support her vision and project, my girls wanted to give this a try.   It is not exaggerating to say…

Apple Valley Trail Ride

Our last activity in Tennessee was horseback riding.  We returned to the place where we first went years and years ago.  The stable sits at the foothills to the Smokey Mountains.    The trails run through a valley which is blanketed with wildflowers in the summer.  Horseback riding in early spring is lovely.  You don’t have to worry about horseflies the size of small birds, or ticks in the branches you brush up against.  You can see far up the hills and watch the red tail hawks circling.  The water is crystal clear and cold when it splashes against your legs.

This was by far my favorite trail ride ever.  Last time we visited this location the girls were about 5 and 7 so our ride was shorter and we did not trot.  I think trotting was a first for Greg!  We easily could have ridden for another hour.  Maybe next time we visit we will explore that possibility.  

TN Aquarium / River Gorge Ride

Before we left Chattanooga, we visited the TN Aquarium.  As far as aquariums go, it was fine.  It has two separate buildings, one for oceanic life and one for river life.  The oceanic building had the most amazing butterfly greenhouse I have ever been to....and the price was included in the admission!  Watching the butterflies flit and flutter about made me long for summer......... 

Our second favorite exhibit was in the river life building.One giant tank was devoted to River Monsters!It was not affiliated with the show that we love, but it housed many of the same species of fish that have been featured on the show such as the South American arapaima and fresh water rays.

After we learned about the types of species found in the Tennessee River, we headed out on their River Gorge Catamaran boat tour.I loved it.We have never visited Tennessee before the leaves cover much of the landscape.The hills were bare allowing us to really see the rock formation, the skytop residences and the bould…

Walnut Street Bridge

We walked the Walnut Street Bridge, the oldest non-military highway bridge that is 100% dedicated to pedestrians!  There is so much to say about the history of this bridge but it is much easier to click hereand read it!

From the bridge you can view the Hunter Museum of Art (which sadly, we did not have time to visit) and a crazy zig-zag sidewalk.  Across the river there are eclectic boutiques, art galleries and a beautiful riverfront park to visit.  

Gorgeous views and gorgeous weather make for a very relaxing day.  It felt good to breath in some fresh air and get a bit of exercise, even if it was just a leisurely stroll.  I think the best part of this entire week were the moments like this, just the four of us enjoying something ordinary, that is actually quite extraordinary.  It has been a long time since we have been somewhere just the four of us....with no family, no friends, no obligations like tournaments and pre-planned activities.  We were totally free to do what we wanted, when…

Rock City

Rock City on Lookout Mountain, GA had some spectacular views.It helped that we visited on a warm crystal clear day.This trip was not quite what I expected... but in hindsight, I did very little research so I only have my imagination on which to base my assumptions.I told the girls we were going to a cool park where they could climb rocks.

When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts, my parents took my brother, sister and me to a place called Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, which in fact, is an awesome park where you can climb the huge rocks created from glacial melting at the end of the Ice Age Period.  Rock City has the same types of boulders and chasms but the visitors are kept confined to the trail as it winds through the park property.  It was cool, but I could tell the girls really wanted to jump the rope boundary and climb until their heart’s were content.
All in all, it was a lovely walk and we made some lovely family memories!

Did you notice how tall Grace is?  Oh …

Glass Ornaments

For years Greg has wanted to visit Chattanooga.  We keep hoping that one of these trips we will be able to hook up with Karen at Homeschool Girls but it was Kei’s performance week and sadly they could not drive up.  Next time hopefully!

Like Knoxville, Chattanooga is a smallish city where many things are within walking distance from the downtown hotels.  We stayed in the new LEED Certified Hampton Inn.  It was beautiful and comfortable.  Hampton Inn is one of our favorite chains and we consistently receive excellent service and clean accommodations for a reasonable price.  

Our first adventure was to visit a glass blower at iGNiS for a lesson and a glass blowing experience.We were able to choose the shape of our ornament (smooth or grooved), the base color and if any secondary colors would be used.The professional glass blowing artist began the process by extracting the glass from the 2,000 degree oven.He shaped it into an sphere thus beginning the shape.He dipped it into the crushed cl…