On The Trail

Homeschool Hiking

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See that grin? It never came off her face, the entire 2 hours of the first 4H Archery meeting. Maddie loved every minute, soaked it all in, never hit the target but didn’t care at all. She did improve with each turn to shoot and made it very close to the target and once or twice over the target. Normally she is very hard on herself when she can’t get something on her first try so I was impressed with the lack of angst over this! Perhaps, just maybe, our talks about not being perfect, just being the best you can be are starting to sink in or maybe she was just having too good a time for it to matter! Either way Brian and I will happily take it.

We started out with a discussion of safety rules for parents and the kids. Then it moved into finding your dominant eye, learning the commands that would be given by the instructors and trying on arm guards. Maddie thought her dominant eye was her right eye but had a really hard time shooting from that stance. So the instructor had her switch sides and use her left eye and everything started falling into place. The kid is a lefty through and through.

After that the kids moved over to the shooting range. It is wonderful that a local business, Brown’s Archery and The Mabee Farm Historic Site both donated materials and a place for the kids to meet. A special thank you was set up by Bonnie, our 4H coordinator. We will visit Brown’s to get the supplies Maddie will need. Maybe somewhere down the road a bow of her own but not yet!

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The kids lined up by the cones which also served as quivers. The instructors give instructions about picking up the bow, taking a stance and when to shoot. Everyone must wait for all the bows to be put back down then the instructor gives the signal to go to the retrieval line. Once more the kids wait to be told its OK to go get the arrows, they meet back at the retrieval line, count to make sure everyone is there and then put the arrows back in the quiver. Safety is definitely coming first. The instructors were great in making sure the kids listened but also kept their interest and were really encouraging them.

Maddie can’t wait for the week to fly by so she can go back and do some more!



Yarning Along at Forestry Camp


We spent the last weekend at 4H Forestry camp (more about that here). I brought along yarn to try making a hexipuff for the Beekeeper’s Quilt Pattern. I thought it would be a good way to use up my leftover sock yarn and it would be great fun to have a blanket made up of all my leftover yarn! The knitting was quite easy. I haven’t completed it yet because I need some fiberfill and to locate the right size crochet hook! The library called the day we left to say they had What the Robin Knows for me. Some of the moms in a book club for kids nature books were recommending it. I didn’t get very far along yet but what I’ve read has been interesting! I mostly sat to knit and read in the early morning before most parents and kids were up. I also did some during the day when I needed to give Maddie some space to make friends or work on her test.

The tag on the tree had answers to how big and how much volume the tree had so the kids could practice with Biltmore sticks.

IMG_0782We came home on Mother’s Day. Maddie and Brian had sent pictures to Knit Girl in Idaho which she then made into stitch markers for me! One is Maddie’s photo that I took and the other is from our trip to the Christman Sanctuary. I love them and put them right onto my shawl that I showed last week.

IMG_0793Joining Ginny at Small Things for the Yarn Along.


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Forestry at the Bat Cave!!


Ok, well, maybe it was Camp Shankitunk not the Bat Cave exactly! We had a great time and learned so much. We also learned that we have so much more to learn! Yikes! All 3 of us are interested in learning it though and one of us may need it in future park ranger work so we are going to start working on 4H Forestry Curriculum at home.

We arrived Friday night at dinner time and got settled into our cabins. Maddie and I were in the Bat Cave while Brian was in “Welcome to the Jungle” with the other dads and sons. Brian said the amount of snoring certainly made the name appropriate! We brought dinner along with us to eat then Maddie started getting to know some of the other kids that we would be spending the weekend with.

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We didn’t realize until Sunday that Maddie had ended up making friends and hanging out with a group of kids who were 14-just turned 16 years old. They didn’t realize how young Maddie was either! Obviously they all met in the middle and were enjoying each other. Have I ever mentioned how much we love 4H kids? Friday night also included a bonfire and games.

Saturday morning we got up, had some breakfast then headed off to learn some things! First up was how to use a Biltmore Stick to measure the diameter and volume of a tree. Volume of a tree being how many boards you could create and sell from the tree. Its a pure estimate and not an exact science! First they had to figure out their pace which was how far 66 feet would be for every 2 steps they took.

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I had to take this picture because I was waiting for someone to yell “For Narnia!!!” and take off but everyone was very absorbed figuring out what they were doing and missed the opportunity!

After this session we went inside for tree identification. In my world that would be how to use a field guide. In Forestry world it is memorize what the tree looks like so you can tell me later.

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After that was lunch. Meals were prepared by one parent who was in charge of that all weekend with both kids and parents helping to finish up and serve. We all chipped in to make the weekend work because that’s what 4H’ers do. Once lunch was eaten and the kids had raced around a bit we headed out for a hike. This 4H camp has a learning forest directly across the street which was donated for that purpose. There are examples of both good and bad practices in forestry. It was also on the side of a mountain. I thought we would never make it back to flat land!

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Then we moved on to maps and compasses. These were not easy sessions. I probably would’ve flipped that to morning if I was given the choice. Lots of math, lots of trying to follow confusing directions. The plan at home is to work on topographical maps this winter. These two pictures sum up Maddie and Brian’s feelings about them!

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I was very proud of Maddie! She certainly got frustrated but she stuck to it and did get some idea of what she was trying to do !

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Sunday was dedicated to testing the kids on the skills they had learned the day before. Maddie didn’t do as well as she hoped to do. Brian and I reassured her that we were there for fun and to check things out, not to ace a test. Maddie wants to be good enough to go to the National Competition when she is old enough (14 years) so we said we would study at home and work toward that goal. Goals are good. Knowing how far you need to go to reach the goal is even better!

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Working hard on her test!

All in all it was a great weekend with good people!



Knitting and Reading


I picked up my shawl to start working on again. I got frustrated with it a while back but decided to pull it out, go slowly and do it when it is quiet. I’ve made some progress thank goodness and frustration hasn’t come into play…..yet! I am reading The Fiery Cross on my kindle which is part of the Outlander series. I’ve read them all once but have gone back to re-read them closer together which is helping my recall quite a bit! In preparation for 4H Forestry Camp we are reading The Woods Scientist.

Joining Ginny at Small Things for the yarn along. What are you knitting and reading?

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First Day of School…well, sort of!

Today Maddie and I made a trip up to the local elementary school to read the book Weaving the Rainbow to 2 second grade classes for NY Agriculture Literacy week. Maddie was able to take on her own class and she did a great job. I dropped her off in that room and headed down the hall to my assigned class. We read the book and discussed it a bit with the kids then we made felt marbles. I wasn’t sure the marbles were going to come out but they actually worked very well! The kids had a great time and so did we! As we left the school Maddie confided to me that she was so glad to be homeschooling. She didn’t think she could sit in those seats all day long. So that was a nice confirmation that we made the right choice as far as she is concerned!  The teacher’s aid in Maddie’s class was kind enough to take some pictures for me.

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Robin Hood!!

Today was Schenectady County 4H Public Presentation Day. These are always fun. The kids do a great job and come up with a wide range of interesting topics. Today we had everything from how to make pin curls to learning about bees from kids with an age range just as large as the number of topics. Maddie decided to do a dramatic interpretation of Robin Hood Meets a Giant. She did a great job considering we had a late start on it all due to the flu, ear infections and sore throats! Normally we would’ve been practicing for at least a month but this got cut down to about 2 weeks. She dressed in her Lucy of Narnia Halloween costume and cape which doubled quite well as a middle age story teller’s costume.

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You can go here on youtube to see her presentation. Enjoy!!

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Christman Sanctuary

We kept hearing about the Christman Sanctuary from different people as a great place for an easy afternoon hike especially for our 4H kids. We decided to check it out for ourselves this weekend and discovered that no one was steering us in the wrong direction! It was a very easy hike through a field and woods to end near a stream that included waterfalls. Dramatic waterfalls! There was a small “lean to” near the largest waterfall. It was not my kind of lean to because it didn’t have a floor to get you up out of the muck! However it would keep the rain off your head! It did have a table someone had made so I spread out the picnic blanket and our “snacky” lunch and we ate while watching the waterfall. Maddie had her large camera along but was disappointed with many of her photos. She needs some more lessons and practice with low lighting. Some of the ones she took of the waterfall were beautiful though!

Checking in

Checking in


In pursuit....

In pursuit….

Of Mr.Chipmunk!

Of Mr.Chipmunk!

Something was eating a lot of bark. We kept finding stumps and bottoms of trees like this one.

Something was eating a lot of bark. We kept finding stumps and bottoms of trees like this one.

Follow the walkway...

Follow the walkway…

And discover this!!

And discover this!!


The lean to

The lean to



Going back up the walkway

Going back up the walkway


The spot where Maddie realized that her parents do not follow nearly as well as the day care kids!

The spot where Maddie realized that her parents do not follow nearly as well as the day care kids!


Maddie’s Photos





All of the sudden Maddie said "I know! Hey Momma! I change the shutter speed and now the water looks better." As I was looking through her photos I suspect this is the spot where she did that.

All of the sudden Maddie said “I know! Hey Momma! I change the shutter speed and now the water looks better.” As I was looking through her photos I suspect this is the spot where she did that.