Sunday, October 07, 2018

Our First Fencing Competition

Jonah and Coach Gromov (photo by Jason Davis)
Jonah competed in his first fencing tournament this past month. It was a local, unsanctioned affair but was still hard on the nerves for all of us. Jonah contracted a cold the week before and missed practice the whole week prior. My momma-bear side hated knowing the odds were against him performing well and that he would likely have a negative first experience with competing. Having never witnessed a tournament before let alone been a participant, there were a few things about the process which added a layer of bewilderment atop the frustration of not feeling well. He left with a combined sense of confusion, fatigue and disappointment. Afterwards, we chalked the whole thing up to a good learning experience over lunch and dessert at Culver's as a celebration of making it through his first fencing tournament.

The next day, he went to practice at my behest despite not feeling up to it. It turned out not to be a great idea. He became exhausted before practice was even over, and the next day awoke with a terrible cough that hung on longer than expected. 

As a result, I have come to the realization that we both have some things to learn that simply can't be taught except by experience. He has to learn how to lose, and by this I mean lose well, with grace and without taking it as utter defeat, while I have to learn how to judge when he is genuinely spent and not just uncommitted. 

There are other tournaments on the calendar in the coming weeks. Of course, I hope he does well, but more importantly I want us to enjoy the journey keeping in mind that sometimes the greatest victories do not come through winning. 

Jonah during a preliminary fencing bout (Photo by Jason Davis)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Emerald Village Museum and Gem Mine


In August 2017, we visited the mountains of North Carolina to see friends, be closer to the path of totality for the eclipse and to get a break from the Florida heat. 
When traveling, I am always on the lookout for unique learning experiences. The kids were very interested in gem mining so I researched a couple of places and decided on Emerald Village. It was a longer drive for us but I was intrigued by the history of the site as well as the gem mining opportunity. 
The mines at Emerald Village were started during the depression as a source for feldspar as the main ingredient in the Bon Ami cleaning product. Ironically, any other items found including gemstones were tossed away as worthless tailings. Today, customers can pay for a pass to glean precious metals and stones from those tailing piles. I would imagine that you really need to know what to look for. 
We toured the lovely grounds and museum for a fee and payed to sift through a medium sized bucket.

One of the mines with old equipment about.
Visitors can walk back in the shallow cave and feed the trout in the pond
The Bon Ami Museum and Mine tour entrance at Emerald Village
Inside the mine museum at Emerald Village


An old post office on site at Emerald Village
The Discovery Mill at Emerald Village
Antiques in the Discovery Mill building at Emerald Village are numerous and diverse
Gem mining flume at Emerald Village


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An Almost Teenager!

My oldest turned 12 this month. It is hard to believe that I will soon have a teenager in the house!

Jonah has matured a lot this year in many ways. This momma is very proud of the young man he is fast becoming. May God continue to lead him and us, his parents, as he approaches adulthood. May God make his path straight, his faith strong and his future sure.


Jonah has taken up fencing this year. He is enjoying it and improving quickly. We are thankful to have found a sport that he is truly interested in and also challenges him, as well as the new friends God has brought to us through the sport.


He got braces this summer which has added to his mature look.


At this point, his upper body strength exceeds mine, so he was a big help prepping his room for painting over the summer.


On a recent hike in the notoriously steep Tallulah Gorge, he stayed ahead of the rest of our group the entire time. Here he stopped to wait on us. All that physical conditioning from fencing is paying off.


He may be maturing but he is still a bit of a clown at heart, who enjoys a good laugh and likes to entertain others.

I'm so thankful that God made me his mom. He may be my oldest and he may not be a baby, but I still can't help but call him that from time to time. Afterall, there was a time when he was my baby.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Science: The Digestive System

I discovered a science show called Horrible Science on Amazon. After watching the first episode, we read a couple of excerpts from books about the digestive system. I then tasked my 12 and 10 year old with drawing a diagram of their own digestive system. The results were pretty interesting!

By Jonah
by Elisabeth

Monday, July 30, 2018

Elisabeth is 10!

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This awesome young lady turned 10 last week amongst a lot of other milestones. Elisabeth actually enjoys track club and has no qualms about wearing a towel on her head in a Chick-fi-la. I continue to be in awe of her spunk, creativity, self-assurance and determination. What a young lady you are becoming!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dinosaur National Monument Fossil Bone Quarry

Entrance to the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument 
Dinosaur National Monument is a 200,000 acre park that straddles the Utah/Colorado border. Visitors to the park can raft the Green or Yampa Rivers, see petroglyphs, take a hike, camp or explore the Dinosaur Bone Quarry located on the Utah side. 
The Building that Houses the Bone Quarry
Dinosaur bones were discovered here in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist representing the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA. This quarry is often described as a "wall of bones" as fossils from several species of Jurassic era dinosaurs are embedded in an steeply tilted rock layer that was once a river bed. 
Inside the Bone Quarry
The Wall of Bones in the newly renovated Quarry Exhibit Hall is impressive in size, but it is only a small portion of the whole excavation area originally worked by Earl Douglass who shipped more than 700,000 tons of material to the Carnegie Museum.
The "Wall of Bones" at Diniosaur National Monument
Visitors are invited to touch real fossils in the Dinosaur National Monument Fossil Bone Quarry
Diplodocus leg bone @Dinosaur National Monument
Camarasaurus skull and spine at Dinosaur National Monument Fossil Bone Quarry
The Quarry Exhibit Hall and tram stop overlooks the Green River
Getting ready to hike down the Fossil Discovery Trail from the Quarry Bldg to the Utah side Visitor Ctr
Fossils can be seen at various spots along the Fossil Discovery Trail
Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center
Sometimes I have to cajole my children into participating in the National Park Junior Ranger Program. Each park has an educational brochure/questionnaire specific to each site. Given the educational focus of this park, no cajoling was needed. My son jumped at the opportunity and really liked the unique, star-shaped paleontology badge.

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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Grand Teton National Park in Pictures

The Grand Tetons
T. A. Moulton Barn said to be the most photographed barn
Mountain Reflection, Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Lake Jackson, Grand Teton National Park
Log Cabin on Mormon Row, near Grand Teton National Park
Mount Moran and Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Grand Tetons from roadway overlook

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Resources that Make History Fun and Easy


Inca Wall replica and Soapstone Llama from Peru (2003)
Learning about history when I was a kid was so disjointed and hard. It was all about memorizing random names of people, places and dates, or so it seemed to me at the time. Thanks to modern day resources like The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, my children are learning a much more cohesive world history than I did and are quite entertained in the process.

We are currently working our way through Volume 2 of The Story of the World on The Middle Ages. Most recently, we learned about early American peoples - the Maya, Aztecs and Inca in particular. The biggest reasons I love “teaching” history is all the additional resources that are out there both in book and video form. In this instance, I had the added joy of sharing photos and trinkets from a pre-motherhood trip to Macchu Picchu.

Here are some great history resources that I have found invaluable:
  • The kids and I started watching the Horrible Histories series a couple of years ago browsing through online streaming options. We have watched all of the episodes available to us and still go back to it just for fun (some of the music is really great!). I recently discovered a wiki page for the series where I can search specific subjects to find out what episodes contain relevant material. For instance, Episodes 1, 4, 5, 9 & 12 from Series 2 and 1, 6, 9, 10 & 12 from Series 3 all have references to the Inca and Aztecs, respectively.  So we viewed those specific episodes as an accompaniment to our curriculum.


Thanks to all these resources as well as some good quality books, I have found, as an adult, a love and appreciation for history that I never knew as a child.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching history to my kids primarily because I am learning so much right along with them.



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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day 2018


For Mother's Day, Jonah (11) gave me the most beautiful little vase. How well I like it demonstrates the degree to which he knows me - kind of amazing. Elisabeth (9) made me a bouquet of paper flowers and a homemade card complete with a 3-D, steaming cup of coffee. The sentiment within is worth more than gold to this mom:
Dear Mommy, thank you for being the best Mother in the entire world. For making me lunch and getting ice cream for me and for convincing me into doing school (even though I don't really like it) because then I wouldn't have learned how to read which I really love. [She switched to cursive here; I presume for emphasis] thank you for being my mother. Love Elisabeth

Monday, March 26, 2018

Prairie Life Day with the Giles Frontier


We recently attended Prairie Life Day put on by the folks at The Giles Frontier. 


We took part in butter and book making, calf-roping, faux gold panning (gold-painted rocks) and tin-can lantern making.




We learned a bit about pioneer life in general and in Florida. We were served a tasty venison stew for lunch as well as some homemade sweets and the kids participated in a good old-fashioned three-legged race and a tug-o-war.



The kids were skeptical when we left the house that morning, but when we got in the car to leave they both said, "That was fun." I am still recovering from the shock of them actually eating deer meat!