Archive for the ‘field trips’ Category

Forrest Homecoming 2013

September 20, 2013

One of the interesting things we found out about at Elm Springs was the homecoming at the Nathan Bedford Forrest boyhood home.

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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!

forest homecoming 2013 023 John and James (“the Army guy”) helping to set up”

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forest homecoming 2013 026 On the back porch where drinks and snacks were sold

forest homecoming 2013 027 cannon demonstrations

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forest homecoming 2013 053 forest homecoming 2013 054 forest homecoming 2013 056 Talks and demonstrations on fashion of the time period a Confederate Women, featuring Emma Samsom

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forest homecoming 2013 058Vincent with a Nathan Bedford Forrest reenactor

forest homecoming 2013 063 MaryEllen in a hat that she just loved

In the museum room of the house…

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After the homecoming…

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Chattanooga 2013

September 19, 2013

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.!)

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Kevins 8th grade grad

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 chattanooga june 2013 010church 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.chattanooga june 2013 015chattanooga june 2013 012chattanooga june 2013 011

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.

chattanooga june 2013 016 chattanooga june 2013 017 chattanooga june 2013 019 chattanooga june 2013 022 Pre-Junior catechism quiz.  Yes, she was the only one there, but they were very impressed with her knowledge, especially when she named General Lee’s horse!

chattanooga june 2013 026 Junior catechism quiz

chattanooga june 2013 028 Senior Catechism quiz

chattanooga june 2013 033 chattanooga june 2013 036With Tennessee division United Daughters of the Confederacy President)

We changed into some “play clothes” and headed out to Lookout Mountain to see the band!!!

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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!)

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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.)

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After speaking with the band members for a while, we enjoyed walking around Lookout Mountain park and being with good friends.

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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.

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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.

Native American Memorial in Alabama

September 19, 2013

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”  6 june 13 199  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. 6 june 13 187

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. 6 june 13 196

The man who built this thing is Tom Hendrix. 6 june 13 238 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. 6 june 13 211

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.

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Charlotte Turns 8!

September 19, 2013

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!!!)

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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…

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Elm Springs 2013

September 19, 2013

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.

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6 june 13 093 (looking off the top porch of the house.)

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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.

6 june 13 101 6 june 13 102 6 june 13 103  6 june 13 105 (You may click on an image to enlarge the photos)

Memorial Day Weekend 2013 at Shiloh

August 9, 2013

We missed being at Shiloh for the Anniversary weekend for the first time since we moved to Tennessee. They weren’t doing living history that weekend like they usually do anyway. When I looked and saw what they were doing for Memorial Day Weekend, I thought it might be an excellent opportunity to go. So, we did! We were not disapponted. They were having military demonstrations from all time periods in the U.S. History, from Revolutionary War to the present day. As as matter of fact, the gun demonstration was probably the best program we have ever been to at a National Park. The soldiers representing each time period came out and talked about their wars (or conflicts.) Then they loaded and shot their weapons. At the end, all loaded and fired. The newer soldiers were finished before the older ones were even loaded. They had a wonderful display of military things, a lot of which the children could touch. They had very knowledgable people there for the visitors to speak to as well.

One of our goals that day was to visit all of the Confederate burial pits (that’s right, pits. The Federal soldiers remains we dug up and properly buried in the National Cemetaries and the Confederates were left in pits…and you wonder why the Southerners still hold grudges!) We had flowers to decorate the pits, honored those brave fallen soldiers and prayed for the repose of their souls. As a side note, we were a bit disturbed to find all the U.S. flags all over the pits. That was not the flag that those brave men died for. It is a pity that our country’s history is being erased due to political correctness. It is also a disgrace.

Please enjoy the pictures.


shiloh may 2013 036MaryEllen “driving” an Army vehicle

shiloh may 2013 038 Some of the demonstrations

shiloh may 2013 039It was a beautiful Day

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shiloh may 2013 052 Confederate Burial pit.

shiloh may 2013 053 One of the Confederate burial pits.

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shiloh may 2013 068 Replica of Shiloh Church

shiloh may 2013 073 What’s everyone looking at in the cannon?

shiloh may 2013 074 A bird’s nest

shiloh may 2013 077One of the Confederate burial pits.  Not a Confederate flag to be found.  So sad.


shiloh may 2013 081 The Confederate Monument

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shiloh may 2013 045All the soldiers at the firing demonstration.

August 9, 2013

I’m trying to catch up here once again. One day in May for a little Children of the Confederacy outing, we went to Fayetteville, Tennessee to visit the courthouse. There is a confederate monument there. We also discovered a smaller monument that used to be a fountain erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. That fountain monument is dedicated to the Confederate woman who stayed back home and worked so hard to hold everything together. There is also an interesting story about some women holding a dinner party for the Federal men who were hunting some local Confederate boys. They held the dinner so the local boys could grab some horses and escape. The plan worked.

On the day we went, beautiful roses were in bloom by a bench at another location on the town square. We were able to get some pretty good pictures of the children that day. Enjoy!

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Heard at the Art Museum Today…

April 26, 2013

We were there to see Dutch Masters. James looks at a Rembrandt painting of Jesus’ face and says to me, “I like the frame better than the painting.”

Edited to add what my friend who went with me heard (she’s got the better memory):

“I’m hungry.
Can I go to the next room.
Look at that drunk guy.
I’m thirsty.
Can you hold me.
Where are the statues?
That guy has a big honker (oh wait, that was YOU! LOL!).
look at the cute dogs.
Look at the depth perception in that painting.
Here goes mom talking about depth perception again.
Look at the lighting on that – it’s beautiful.
There’s a ship.
Can we go to the children’s playroom yet.
Why do you think I would be good at being the drunk in that painting – I’m offended.”

Thrift Shop Fun!

April 24, 2013

A couple of days a month we go into the city for “Enrichment” days. The girls have a Little Flowers group, the boys have a boys club called “Brothers in Christ” and there is even a little 4-year-old club. It is also our library day, where the selection is significantly bigger than our little country libraries. (However, I forgot my library list, but I digress!)

We decided to go in early so we could do some thrift shopping. We stopped at this one shop that we had not been to in a couple of years. Their prices did go up, but who’s hasn’t? My big find there was a little tiny crock pot that I have been wanting for years. I hadn’t bought one because none could be found that did not have a plastic lid. Well, the one yesterday had a glass lid and looked as if it had never been used. We like to cook overnight oat groats and this pot is the perfect size, so we’ve already used it! It was brand new and the plastic plug protector had never been removed. What a find.

We ended up going thrifting both before and after clubs. Here are some other fun finds. First of all some books…

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And some hats….

thrift find 012For the ladies.

thrift find 016 This one is James’.

thrift 2 003 thrift 2 004 Charlotte’s hat, but Vincent just had to get into the pictures.  He’s a cutey!

A couple of patterns…

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thrift find 001 (Yes that price tag says 49 cents!!!)

There is a Spring Beatrix Potter unit study.  I printed the whole thing out years ago and come across it from time to time.   This  year I remembered about it at the right time of year.  We just started it this week and it has me keeping my eyes open for all things Beatrix Potter.  Yesterday at two different stores, I found these:

thrift find 009 They are melmac, perfect for our tile floors and Veronica loves them already.

The boys love to go to look for jerseys and military-type things.  Here’s some of their finds…

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thrift 2 005 thrift 2 006 This one is the prized one because it is some kind of rare alternate Titans jersey, of Vince Young.  It is the same as my Fred Smoot jersey (that you can see in this post), about which we were told by a reliable source that it was as close as you can get to the real thing.  The numbers are sewn on, etc…

The boys had about 10 jerseys in the cart at one store so that they could get one for everyone on their football teams when they play again at church or wherever, but I put my foot down on that.  But, it shows the generous spirit of my boys.  That is nice.

Oh yes, one day I’m gong to put a puppet post togher.  James and Kevin have been making puppets and are even sometimes part of their friends’ show “Buffle and Friends.”  So, James and Kevin are always on the lookout for good puppet material.  Yesterday James found some black and Kevin found some green.   This morning, Kevin made his new puppet which he calls “Spinky,” so he tells me.

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John has been looking for a few years for a good desk.  He traded his away to his sisters one time (and I think regretted it ever since.)  He found one for a reasonable price yesterday and they were kind enough to take 10% off.  He’s already got it up and running this morning….

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The boys like 80s rock and were pleased to find a Joshua Tree CD.

For our gaming pleasure…

thrift find 015 Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, complete with gold ring.

Last, but certainly not least, was our last find of the day.  I nearly fell over when the girls brought it to me smiling, and I asked in a doubtful voice, “How much do they want for it?”  “$2.99,” MaryEllen said.  I exclaimed, “Put it in the basket!”

thrift find 010 Yes, what you see here is a Pleasant Company American Girl retired Kirsten Doll in her original dress and apron.  She is missing a pinky on one of her hands and her toe and finger nails have been painted, but not too messy.  Her hair is a little dry at the ends, but she is in perfect playing condition!  We were quite pleased to find the doll.

So there you have it.  There were a few other finds, like some sewing material for Mom and a postcard of Renoir’s painting of a girl with a watering can.  We had an enjoyable day out that ended with us going to see the last 2 innings of a friend’s baseball game and visiting with them for a little while.

Our Whirl-Wind Trip – May 2011

April 3, 2013

Editors Note:  I started this post in 2011 and never finished it.  I’m going to post it anyway, now, for family reference.  I had a computer crash and the rest of the photos are not on this computer, so it may never get done.


We left in the beginning of May to make a trip.   My mother called one day about a month previous and asked if we would come up while she was there so she could see the new baby, the children, and so could everyone else.  After hemming and hawing, we decided to do it.  We left on the first Saturday.  We had committed to first Saturday Mass for 5 months and this was one of those Masses.  Father would have excused it, but we really did not want to miss it, so we decided to leave after Mass.  Dear Father decided to give a special blessing for travelers after Mass.  I was then called into the sacristy.  “Me?”  I asked John.  “Yes, Father said he wants to see YOU in the sacristy.”  Well, he wasn’t sure if there would be a priest who would give a special Mother’s blessing in New Jersey, so he gave me one.   Add confession on that and we were all feeling very prepared spiritually for our trip.  Off we went!

We stopped about lunch time at a rest area somewhere in Tennessee.  We made peanut butter crackers, had some chips and hummus, and some baby carrots.  The kids ran around a while during which time I fed Vincent.  We also met a family from Virginia who had five children as well.  After we packed up and got back on the road, we made our way into Virginia.  There was some severe tornado damage that could be seen from the highway.  It amazes me how you can see pictures and think, “Wow,” but when you actually see the damage it is really something else!

On a side note, the whole time our friend “Luke” was calling.  This is not so unusual, as he travels a lot and will call the kids.  He had called me the day before to tell me that he would be traveling on Route 81 the same time we would and we could meet up.  “Don’t tell the kids.  Let’s surprise them,” he said.  So surprise them we did.  The kids told “Luke” we were looking for a Cracker Barrel and he said, “Well, I think there is one in Christiansburg.”  We stopped there, I saw Luke’s truck, but the kids had no idea.  The walked to the door of the Cracker Barrel and “Luke” opened the door and said, “Welcome to Cracker Barrel.”  They were stunned!  It was such a great surprise.  We ate dinner together and then they played out on the porch for a while.  It must have been like dinner theater to some because they were looking out the window and laughing!

  Here’s a silly picture from Cracker Barrel.

My goal was to try to make it straight through to our destination.  The plan was to stop and sleep if I got tired.  Surprisingly enough, I had a ton of energy for the trip.  If we stopped in Virginia, the kids would be awakened in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting up for the early Mass.  We would have to leave as soon as possible to get to our destination by 3:00 pm dinner.  If we traveled straight through, the kids would have more time with Mom and others and be able to make it to Mass in NJ.  On we drove.  We hit the Washington DC beltway around 1:00 am.  How do I remember that, you ask?  I have never before been stuck in a traffic jam around 1:00 am before!  Road construction!   We finally stopped just after Baltimore at a rest area, and I slept for about an hour and a half.  After that, I felt good to go.  While driving through the farm valley of NJ, the fog was thick while the sun was just coming up.  Had John not been so impressed with the sight, I would probably not have remembered it at all.  It was really neat looking.  We wanted to go to a Latin Mass in Berlin, but we were just too early for that, so we went on to our destination.  We arrived at my sister’s house at approximately 6:30 am.  We were going to go to the early Mass (I think 7:30) and the kids had to change.  At Mass we had quite a surprise.  A nice young Catholic priest was at St. Theresa’s.  We also got to see Aunt Maddie.

Later that day, I could not sleep so we decided to go see Aunt Gert in the nursing home.   There was a true story about her that her cousin had written and my son Kevin had turned it into a picture book.  We were excited to show it to her.  Aunt Gert was so happy to see all of us.  She is 94 years old and walks herself around in her wheelchair.  After that we visited with Mom some.  I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep and then it was time for our family dinner.  7 out of 9 of Mom’s children were there, including my brother Joe from Colorado.  One of the things that I miss about those family dinners is the funny stories that are told.  We were not disappointed as Joe told funny stories of Steve and the like.  We laughed around that table and it was wonderful.  People were also reading Kevin’s book entitled, “The Memorable Afternoon.”  Joe did not have his reading glasses so he borrowed a pair of Mary Lou’s. 

Here are some random pictures taken by the children at our Sunday family dinner…





MaryEllen and I went for a walk, ending up in Greenwood cemetary visiting graves of so many that I have known through the years.  It is one of the best places to walk in that area because you don’t have to worry so much about getting hit by cars.  After that, Aunt Vicki went walking by.  Vicki is my “childhood” friend.  We are six weeks apart and grew up next door to each other until we were 20 or so.  I walked around with she and her mother-in-law, got to see her husband and kids and then she walked back to say “hi” to my Mom and family.

On Monday morning we started the day with daily Mass.  Fr. Brian said the Mass, so afterward we got to speak to him a bit.  We had breakfast out with Mom and Sue.   Here, again, are some photos taken by the children…      After breakfast, the children and I stopped at the house of some friends.   They didn’t know we were coming (we didn’t either until I decided to go left instead of right!), but they were glad to see us.  Ellie and I talked and watched Veronica play while Roy gave the boys the grand tour.  There are several pictures that the children took.  I’ll try to pick out the best.  Roy is very talented in woodcarving and gardening, so there was a LOT to take pictures of.