As we sat eating breakfast this morning, I just had to go outside! We got about a half-inch of snow, the sun was shining, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bluer sky! By myself, I went for a nature walk. I’m resurrecting this blog to put up a photo essay of the first snow, February 13, 2014.
This morning the UPS man pulled up with boxes for Kevin and James. They have arrived a day early!
And, what better thing to do when the uniforms arrive than to make hard tack?
When I saw the boys in uniform, it gave me just little glimpse of what those mothers in the 1860s must have felt. I have read accounts, but seeing them in uniform, even if just to reenact, stirs up the emotions. How did they get this big? So young, yet so much more grown up than the last time I looked. Would they ever see their sons again? Hear from them? Communication was nowhere near what it is today. I am all too grateful that they are not going off to march in battle, but going to help people learn history.
We’re suppose to be going to a skirmish on Friday, living history on Saturday, and a marker dedication on Sunday after Mass. Busy, busy! Now, if only I could spend the next 2 days sewing, I might be able to get something done for the girls. If you have sky blue, gray, or butternut wool that you’re not using, please pass it on so we can get John outfitted! Thanks for reading!
One of the interesting things we found out about at Elm Springs was the homecoming at the Nathan Bedford Forrest boyhood home.
Being members of the Children of the Confederacy, we volunteered. The three older boys and MaryEllen went to work. We help set up a bit. The kids manned the place where drinks and snacks were being sold, yet the still managed to get around, learn, and have fun. (As a matter of fact, during the end of the school year interview, this event was listed as a favorite field trip.) I did what I could, helping to keep the bathrooms tidy and supplied. On this day we also met (finally) the group that we will be reenacting with!!! (Also, a note about Nathan Bedford Forrest… if you think he started the KKK, you need to learn your history! N.B. Forrest was a hero who risked his life and wealth fighting for what he believed was right. And I am not taking about slavery here! Please, I beg you, go to original sources and find out the truth for yourself!!! OK, end of rant!)
There were speakers, musicians, games, vendors, and demonstrations to keep visitors busy all day, and the weather was lovely!
In the museum room of the house…
After the homecoming…
Every now and again I like to go check out the blog of our favorite War Between the States band. For the past 7 years or so, I ask when they are coming to Tennessee. Well, around February or March while looking at the events page, I saw they were going to be in Chattanooga!!! I ran out to tell Joe, who’s response was, “So.” Then when he looked at me he became concerned and said, “You’re not going to go, are you?” I replied, “It’s a lot closer than Virginia!” I marked it on my calendar and looked up the nearest state park for camping. When it got closer, we found out that the Tennessee Division Children of the Confederacy were having their annual convention the same weekend very near there. (We are still members of Virginia Division, long story!)
The Thursday before that weekend was the Graduation and Sacrament party for the homeschoolers in our area (sort of). So we could not leave before Friday morning. Then we had to be back home in time for 4:00 pm Mass on Sunday. It would be a tight weekend, but that’s OK.
We went to the Graduation and Sacrament party where Kevin officially “graduated” 8th grade. I don’t have a single picture! Ugh! Updated to add that some lovely young person read my blog and sent a few pictures of Kevin’s graduation. (Thank you, M.C.!)
Friday morning we packed up the best we could and headed out to a state park in Georgia. We set up camp the best we could when we got there. It started to sprinkle and we were trying to get to the convention on time. We got on our way, a little late, and were able to call and find out that they were waiting for us. We arrived at the hotel and got back on the road to a town called Ringgold, GA.
There is an old church there, built in the early 1800s, that has been turned into a museum. They held a memorial service there and then every one had time to explore the museum. After that, on the way back, we stopped at a beautiful Patrick Cleburne monument. There were many markers there explaining the history. Unfortunately, we were trying to beat the rain, and I could not find my camera at that stop. I know we have pictures somewhere of the kids with it.
Everyone went back to the hotel and we went to Walmart to get a Sunday shirt for one child and some socks for another. When we got back to the hotel (where the convention was being held) there was a pizza dinner and then swimming. It rained a lot while they were in the pool, but the children didn’t mind. It was nice to see some of the same faces that we met at the Tennessee convention we attended 2 years prior.
After all that, we headed back to the campsite. Things were a little wet as the big tent needs a good coat of water-proofing stuff. (Is that a word?) I was told the little tent had a hole, so before we left I purchased a patch kit. Let me tell you, it was a lot bigger than a patch kit could handle. The boys put a sleeping bag near the hole and did OK. It had stopped raining at that point. We headed to bed since we had to be at the convention in the morning.
Up came the sun and we got all dolled up to go to the convention. It is run like a formal business meeting. There are flag ceremonies, speeches, awards given, etc. There is also a “catechism quiz” for 3 different levels. My children did well. Veronica won the pre-junior and John won the senior. The boy who won the junior division knew the question after two or three words came out! He really studied! After the business meeting there was a luncheon. A good time was had by all.
We changed into some “play clothes” and headed out to Lookout Mountain to see the band!!!
It was so exciting to be able to see them live. There was a little thunder at times, but the rain held off and they gave a long performance. Our friends from CofC were there when we arrived (we had told them about it). They left at intermission. Then some other friends joined us (a surprise for my kids!)
My boys brought out a couple of their puppets. (They make puppets.) Well, it turned out that one of the members of the band used to work for Jim Henson! He was an artist who illustrated Muppet books! He was really enjoying James and his puppet and wanted to get picture of them after the show! So, they did. We got autographed posters (as a matter of fact, one hangs in our den just over James’s desk.)
After speaking with the band members for a while, we enjoyed walking around Lookout Mountain park and being with good friends.
When we left Lookout Mountain, we went back to the campsite with our friends. The kids roasted hot dogs over the fire and there was peanut butter and jelly. They also went to the playground. Then, sadly, our friends left, but we had a good time camping.
The next morning we wanted to go to McKay’s Used Bookstore before we left. Just down the road we passed a Confederate Cemetery. We decided that we needed to go back there. McKays was not open yet when we arrived, so we went back to the cemetery to pay our respects.
We went back to McKay and found a book illustrated by the banjo player! After McKay’s we headed home, got changed for and went to Mass, and had a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon and evening.
Thinking about this post was not too easy. How does one describe this place? Well, for starters, a friend of ours was talking to the boys about photography. The man showed them a picture of a “prayer circle” some place in Alabama and tried to describe the place to the boys. There really are no words to describe it, as I later found out. Also, I didn’t realize how close we are to it, thinking it was somewhere way down in Alabama.
Aunt Sue wanted to take a ride on the Natchez Trace. We had never been south before, so we went that way. Of course, a child or two had to go to the bathroom. As luck would have it, it was our day to be inconvenienced by the government, (Don’t get me started!) due to the sequester that our president said was “never going to happen” in a debate that I watched. The bathrooms on the Trace were closed on that day! So, we had to take an exit, which ended up having a nice little visitor center and the kind people told us about this memorial. We ventured south and found it.
The man who built this thing is Tom Hendrix. His grandmother was a Native American woman who was forced out of her homeland on the Trail of Tears. She walked back to her home and was the only one that they know did this. Mr. Hendrix was trying to get a stone in the wall for every step she took. He carried each rock 3 times; loading them on to his truck, unloading them at his home, and then putting them where they belong in the wall. As people have learned about this place, they send him rocks from all over the place. I could post pictures of nothing but rocks here, and Mr. Hendrix has a story for each one. He is a master story-teller and we were blessed that he was there.
Oh, the prayer circle was built according to Native American ways. He had a native come in and teach him. There are no electronic devices allowed in there. It was phenomenal!!! If you ever get a chance to go there, it would be time well spent. Mr. Hendrix has written a book about the history of his grandmother and their people called If the Legends Fade. I’m looking forward to reading it one day soon.
The only reference I found to it on the internet can be found here.
This is just a little tiny post. The children have been members of the Children of the Confederacy for many years. Last year John served as Historian for the Virginia Division. One of his jobs was to create a scrapbook. Kevin submitted a picture for the annual art contest (for which he received honorable mention), and our little chapter, the Belle Boyd chapter, submitted a yearbook. I took some pictures on the day we were mailing everything off and wanted to post them here. By the way, Children of the Confederacy has a new website.
We were missing Genevieve here, but she wasn’t a member of the CofC yet!
We celebrated Charlotte’s 8th birthday this year. We took Aunt Sue to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Ave Maria Grotto. We met up with other friends of ours that day as well. It was a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed themselves.
First here are some pictures of Charlotte opening a present from Aunt Mary Lou and Uncle Al. (Thank you so much!!!)
That is all the pictures I took. Luckily Kevin took a few from the Shrine…
Edited to add that I found some pictures from the day that I took!!! Here they are…
Aunt Sue came and visited us at the end of May. We had a lot of fun and tried to take her to a lot of places locally. One day we went to the Polk house in Columbia, TN. For some reason, I don’t have any pictures of that on my computer. This was the house that President James Polk’s parents lived in and he visited there every day when he was in town. There was also a neat display, in a separate building, of Mrs. Polk’s things such as dresses, a couch, and many personal effects of hers.
After lunch that day we went to Elm Springs, the headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I would say that was the best part of the day. We had a tour of the house and we made some Confederate connections which led us volunteering for the Forrest homecoming event. But we’ll save that for another post.
We drove home through Mt. Pleasant and stopped to read the history signs there and see the Confederate Monument in the center of town. There was a group of Confederates formed there called the Bigby Greys. The town was so very proud of that group marching off to war. We vowed to go back and study more about it on another day.
While living in the Shenandoah Valley we had no shortage of battle fields to visit. We would spend days on end at Manassas, New Market, and others learning about that time period in history. There were many re-enactments and living history events to attend and we all wanted to be re-enactors. Then we moved to Tennessee. Virginia claims the record number of War Between the States battles. While Tennessee is second in line, there are not nearly as many events to attend, at least that we found out about. We searched and searched. Finally on a visit to Elm Springs, the headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, we got connected. There is a local group who does a lot of living history.
Today Kevin and James took some of their money they have been saving for years and ordered uniform pieces. We did a lot of measuring and research. The boys are ordering from Crescent City Sutlers. Today they both learned about money orders and the difference between them and checks. They learned about making decisions (blue or gray, etc) and filling in order forms. We learned that Kevin grew just under a half of inch since July and James grew a little more than a half of inch since then.
I’ll be trying to sew something up for the girls. I don’t know what we’ll do about John yet. We’ll figure out something. It should be really fun and the group that we are with are very family oriented which is just perfect for us. Look for some up coming pictures.