On The Trail

Homeschool Hiking

Butterfly Garden at the library

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We heard the master gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension were going to plant a butterfly garden behind the library and were looking for helpers. That was an easy “Yes!” from us. We are in 4H and constantly at the library so it all went together. Maddie loved planting and taking pictures. It will be a lot of fun to watch the garden grow through the summer. A lot of summer reading programs are held outside since the library is small inside!




Maddie’s photos!



And one of the more exciting parts was discovering a robin had made a nest and laid eggs in one of the windowboxes. We are hoping to make more trips down this week and next so Maddie can take more photos! Perhaps a photo essay about robin eggs is coming for a fair project!





This gallery contains 11 photos

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Maddie’s Flowers

Yesterday we made a trip to the local greenhouse to pick some plants for our community garden plot. We had a lot of peppers and tomatoes we had started ourselves but had some gaps to fill. Maddie also got to pick some flowers to plant in her old rainboots. Last night she was checking out DIY.org and decided to take some close ups of her flowers for her account. I know I am her mother so therefore think all she does is wonderful but WOW!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



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Almost the end of school

Tonight we did a little bit of celebrating the end of 5th grade. Maddie is still working through Science (I cannot figure out exactly how we got behind there!!) and Writing with Skill but has finished her math program and history along with Latin and Logic. She had been saving for the Ranger Station Lego kit but it looks like it will be discontinued soon. The price kept inching up and then it was only available online. Brian and I offered to pitch in the difference between what she saved and the new cost for her end of the year celebratory, lets do something super fun now present. She was just a little excited!!


And so was Brian….


This is not something that will be done quickly that’s for sure! She broke it open though and got busy on the first 2 packets…a tree with some mini figures and some vehicles.


In the first bag was the girl Ranger….with binoculars….I guess it was meant to be!! Meet Ranger Maddie as a minifigure!


Look out for the bear!!


I plan to spend some of the weekend going through our work for the year, organizing and evaluating how things went. More on that later!


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New spot again…..

Oh boy! So once again I had a blog that was not working…well, not working well! Sometimes links would work, sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes video would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. Then tonight I could see my blog but I couldn’t post anything to it. So I basically gave that up as a bad idea and tried again! Let’s hope this one goes more smoothly and we have found a home…finally! I moved over the important posts from the last blog so they are in one place. The old blog, So Much To Do, So Little Time is something Brian and I have decided to get printed into book form so Maddie will have it later on. A yearbook for every year in school! Wow! So here we go!!!

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Best Day Ever!!!! for our Junior Ranger (from April 2014)

Best Day Ever!!! for our Junior Ranger

We took Maddie to the Saratoga National Historical Park last summer for the first time so she could meet some Park Rangers. She was thrilled to talk to many of the rangers at the park. She worked hard on completing the Junior Ranger booklet and found on the last page an offer of a special tour of the Battlefield if she completed several different booklets at different times of the year. We decided to try and complete the tasks because she really wanted to earn a tour. We went back on her birthday which was the encampment weekend only to discover there was no new booklet. I contacted the park through their Facebook page and asked if this was still available. Ranger Megan e-mailed me back explaining they had stopped the program since we were the only inquiry they had in 2 years! She offered to give Maddie the tour any way and of course we said YES PLEASE!!!

Today was the day of the tour. We could tell Megan worked really hard to make sure the day was a good one for Maddie and we appreciate all her hard work! I took Maddie’s picture out front by the sign when we arrived. Her smile says she is just a little excited, doesn’t it?

Megan greeted us at the visitor center with a special itinerary for the day. We knew right away this was going to be fun!

Maddie met with Gina, chief of interpretation who explained a little bit about what the interpretative rangers do and a few new projects they are working on.

We also started giving out some baggies of treats as thank yous to everyone! Megan also got an extra special treat of Poppa Bill’s “Ranger” bread. She couldn’t wait to try some!

Baggies with ranger bread!

We turned around and were able to meet Megan’s coworker Eric. Both Megan and Eric are interpretive rangers who meet the public and help tell the story of the Battlefield. Eric explained that they are currently working on changing the signs at each stop on the Battlefield so they have correct updated information (they discovered for example that there was no Asa Chatfield Farm where the sign has said “Asa Chatfield Farm). The signs are also a bit ragged and need replacing.

Then we moved on to the Ranger Station meeting the Superintendent, Administrative Staff, Curator, Facility Management Team and the Law Enforcement Officers. Maddie had a good time with all of them. Everyone was anxious to share their knowledge and what they enjoy about their job. Maddie was able to handle some artifacts and sit in the Law Enforcement Truck!

Meeting Ranger Joe, the Superintendent

Checking out a musket ball

Ranger Jason explaining how they repair the cannon carriage. The facility management area was very interesting. They are responsible for the upkeep of the park from the buildings to the grounds so it involves everything from repair of the building to prescribed burns to keep the park in shape.

Checking out the law enforcement truck! She was a bit enamored with. that job until we went out on the tour road with Megan and Ranger Linda, a naturalist.


Rangers Megan and Linda setting up Skyler for a photo shoot on the listening device.

Ranger Linda was checking this to make sure it was working. It should be picking up sounds in the area which she listens to and then uses the data to know what birds might be in the area. Unfortunately this one needed a new battery so we didn’t get to see it working. However it was really fun to see what part of her job entails. Maddie was back to being a naturalist!

Skyler, Ranger Megan, Junior Ranger Maddie and Baldwin(Maddie’s gift from Ranger Megan)

We saw so much wildlife today! Let me see if I can remember it all….deer, a chipmunk, red wing blackbirds, a turkey vulture, garter snakes, yellow bellied sapsucker,

a beaver dam and lodge,

turtles at the beaver lodge,

and a bluebird!

We cannot thank Ranger Megan enough for offering Maddie this opportunity and all the rangers for taking time with Maddie today! It is one she will remember for a long time to come.

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Shoooooooooooootttttt!!!! (from March 2014)


We are so proud of Maddie! She was moved up to level 5/6 in swim class from level 3/4. She did really well today but had a bit of a private lesson with her favorite teacher Patrick to help with her backstroke. Its been a while since she did that and was having some trouble! But everything else went really well and at the end of the lesson they were allowed to jump into the pool 2 times from the block! Maddie was thrilled and did a great job getting to the side after jumping in.

After swimming we went to homeschool night with the Albany Devils hockey team! It was Maddie’s first game to see live and, to be totally honest, she was not that thrilled to be going. I think she was going along for Daddy’s sake but pizza was involved and a hat so maybe it wouldn’t be too bad!

We took some pictures before the game got going…can you see she is really uncertain about this?

Then the game got going. They have lost the last couple games so Brian thought they were due for a win. The fight for a win (and I don’t mean that literally…really no fighting any more!) was on! So she started to get into it. Toward the end of the second period I knew she was hooked because Brian was yelling “Shoot!” and right next to me Maddie was yelling “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”. Yup, a hockey fan is born. She even put up with the mascot being within feet of her without getting hysterical so maybe not only did she decide to like hockey but also that “big headed guys” aren’t going to eat her?

Maddie even took some pictures of the game itself…here is one.

It was a perfect first game. The regular playing time ended in a tie so we went to overtime which also ended in a tie. It was on to a shootout which was won by our team! After the game they open the ice up for a free skate but we couldn’t locate everyone’s skates so we skipped that! However we did stand in line to have 4 of the players sign Maddie’s hat and Brian’s program!

We have had a lot of fun this weekend…almost a mini vacation! Tomorrow its back to the reality of math, science and day care kiddos!

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Homeschool Field Trip

Homeschool Field Trip!

Yesterday we went to Old Sturbridge Village….in the rain. Fortunately we left the rain behind for a while and were able to enjoy some of the village while remaining dry. We arrived mid-morning and spent the morning wandering around the main part of the village. The first exciting thing we got to see was baby lambs!

We loved these two all snuggled up with mom.

After passing the sheep we went into the meeting house to meet Hawk the flute maker. He was very interesting and a former homeschool Dad himself. He told Maddie that he started playing music when he was in his 30s. He was given a wooden flute which he ended up ruining due to inexperience so he set about learning how to fix it. In the process of learning how to fix it he learned how to make flutes. They were very beautiful and he was really interesting. He had a didgeridoo with him as well and let us all try to play it! Maddie was the only one with any sort of success. Hawk told Maddie she could make one out of PVC pipe so guess where Brian and Maddie are headed pretty soon. Yup! Home Depot!

We did some more wandering about, stopped at the little souvenir shop and got Maddie the promised new bonnet. Isn’t this the best 10 year old outfit ever??

Checking out the contents of the dresser drawers

After that we had a yummy lunch that we had packed including some homemade chicken soup! It was perfect thing to warm us up and get us going again! Then it was time to head to Maddie’s class. The day’s theme was Native Americans so her class was about planting the 3 Sisters-corn, beans and squash and farming during the mid 1800s.

On the bridge to the education building–the outfit! Love it.

Waiting for our class to be called

During Maddie’s class they made a seed bag similar to the ones that would’ve been made in the 1800s. I thought we were making them out of paper but the people of the time would’ve used fabric. When I asked the teacher said they would’ve used paper. The bags were to store the seeds for the next year and they would’ve needed hundreds! Maddie had a bit of a struggle at first because her needle was dull.

Then the kids tried grinding corn into corn meal and discovered this was not as easy as it looks!

Finally they planted seeds to bring home. As you can see the box was not exactly the best thing to bring seeds home in…I think we should’ve just put the seeds into our seed bags. Hopefully the seeds made it home but a lot of the dirt kept falling out on us!

We wanted to go out to the farm, one of our favorite spots, on the way back. There was construction by the mills–saw, grain and carding–so we made a new discovery of a trail behind the mills! I loved the inside of the carding mill. That is where they would prepare the wool for spinning into yarn for knitting and weaving. The water was rushing through the bottom making a lot of noise and the view out over the fields was pretty even on this day of dismal weather!

The farm was closed which was disappointing but we walked around to the barn to see if the animals were out and discovered…..

And oh my the noise this little calf made! moo….mooo…MOOOOOOO!!! It was either I want mommy or I want milk but we really couldn’t help with either one. Maddie got her camera back out for a picture. I love this because you can just see the calf’s little head peeking at her.

We wandered back down to the gift shop/exit then headed almost directly across the street to have dinner with friends and former day care kiddo, Maggie! I can’t believe how big all the kids in my life are getting.

We had a great time all around!! We haven’t been in a while so it was fun to go back and revisit favorite spots. And ending the day with friends is always good!!