On The Trail

Homeschool Hiking

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We almost had a large crisis on our hands. Maddie complained yesterday morning that her throat was hurting. I took a look and it was only pink and swollen. However in the afternoon she complained again and it looked much worse so we headed off to urgent care. It turned out she had strep throat! Camp drop off was the following day at 2:30. The physician’s assistant at urgent care told us to give her a double dose of medicine last night and that she would be OK to go to camp. So that’s what we did. Fortunately she was feeling a bit better this morning, her throat was looking better too and by the time she hit the mountain air it worked like an elixir and she was all set to go! Then her friend Norah met up with us at camp and she found out she was in the Eagle cabin and the grin was permanently fixed to her face and any soreness forgotten! Phew…thank goodness!! We know she will have so much fun this week!!

While waiting in line we watched a baby robin try to decide if he was going to take his first flight or not. I think he finally decided not due to the number of people below! He (she?) kept creeping into the corner further and further!

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Sixth Grade Wrap Up!

IMG_0828 IMG_0829 IMG_0830May 15 was the last day of Sixth Grade for Maddie and yes, she did “totally rock it” as her sign says! We finished all our curriculum by that date and wrapped up some bits and pieces. Brian and I are exceptionally proud of the job she did this year. Maddie completed all her work on her own each day with little supervision and while I had the flu in February she continued to work without prompting, pestering or supervising from Brian or me!

Maddie completed level 6 of Teaching Textbooks for math. This is her main math program and is completed on the computer which gives her immediate feedback on each problem. She finished the year with 87% average on all her quizzes. She also worked through Life of Fred Fractions. This series of books follow Fred, a 5 year old college professor. Yes, they are very silly but they really do pay off. Maddie’s score on the fractions section of her PASS test (standardized test for homeschoolers) came back as high average. She also pulled all the other areas up to average. So Fred, Daddy and Momma are all working to get Maddie really comfortable with math!

We also completed Analytical Grammar year 1. This was not easy. It included sentence diagramming and other concepts we had only brushed on in earlier years. Maddie finished Writing with Skill Level 2 by completing a 1250 word essay on Walt Disney, the topic of her choice. We also finished most of GUM drops for Grade 6. This is more grammar and spelling practice! We zipped through levels 1-3 of All About Spelling. Maddie was having such a hard time with spelling that we went right back to the beginning! We will be working on levels 4-6 in the coming year because we have seen great improvement!

We read some Shakespeare and The Canterbury Tales this year. Maddie enjoyed both of them.

In history we were in the Medieval times and so talked a lot about kings, queens and the church. Maddie read sections in a history encyclopedia and made notes in her history book. She also wrote a weekly essay on the topic being covered that week. Maddie worked on learning more about the Civil War. She knows her Revolutionary American History really well and its time to move on a bit!

Astronomy and Earth Science were the topics for Science. We really enjoyed some of the weekly topics and experiments. Maddie did quite well here as well and continues to apply her learning when we are “out in the field” (meaning the woods, camping, national parks and forestry camp!).

Maddie has done really well with guitar and enjoys her time with Miss.Lisa each week. She is learning chords and finger picking, both are challenging!

So I think that’s it! We’ve taken time off for vacation and are planning some fun things this summer. We will be starting 7th grade the third week of July and trying out a year round schedule to see how we like that!

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Knitting in the woods

IMG_0999We had so much fun last week in Virginia! You can read all about our visits to Monticello, Appomattox Court House, The Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Vernon here. One of the fun parts of our stay was the cabin we rented at Bear Creek Lake State Park. It was so lovely! My favorite part was the wrap around porch which is where I went with my knitting whenever I had a minute! Mostly that was in the early morning before Brian and Maddie were up. I worked on another hexipuff and got quite a lot done on my shawl (in the picture above). We also did a lot of nature journaling, especially with trees since we had just been to forestry camp! The leaf is from a tulip tree. I was reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes in addition to all the field guides! Our last day we added to the Cabin Journal. We had so much fun reading everyone’s comments and reasons for being there. So many good stories! Now we are back at work although Maddie is done with school and enjoying more free time! What have you been reading or knitting?

Joining Small Things for the Knit A Long

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Thomas, George, Grant & Lee plus the Blue Ridge Parkway

Last week we headed off to visit Virginia. Last summer Maddie asked if we could visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Brian did a lot of research and found a cabin for us at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Virginia. It was located in a central spot so we could also visit Appomattox Court House and the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as being a beautiful spot itself. The cabin had a great room, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a lovely wrap around porch.

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This was the view from the porch the first morning we were there. Isn’t it beautiful? The birds were making quite a racket! The night before we had taken a small walk down the path to the lake. We saw a pileated woodpecker, song sparrows and a Great Blue Heron catching a fish for his dinner!

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Monday morning we took a small hike around the lake. We were trying to identify trees and had fun checking out the other plants. We also saw a butterfly and several other insects.

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We used our field guides to identify the butterfly as a red spotted purple. It was really cool…..more on those later! Maddie was very busy with her camera throughout the week. We will put her photos in a post of her own!

In the afternoon we headed to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. Here we learned, contrary to every class any of us ever took regarding the Civil War (including the history major!) that the surrender didn’t take place in a courthouse but in a private home. Court House in this case is 2 words and means the county seat not a building. We were struck here by the obvious respect Grant accorded Lee. He was given the larger desk and more comfortable chair. Maddie worked very hard on the Junior Ranger booklet. This was easily one of the hardest ones we’ve ever done but she did get it done! Her reward was a special junior ranger badge for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, some cards with photos of the buildings on the site and a printing made on the old printing press that is a copy of the parole the Southern soldiers received.

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On Tuesday we spent the day at Monticello. We had a special behind the scenes tour. The tour lasted 2 hours and was very enjoyable. The guide was knowledgeable, cheerful and loved Maddie’s story of her first memory of Thomas Jefferson. We told her about it on the way to the kitchen. It was a book called Thomas Jefferson’s Feast and explained how much he enjoyed cooking and that he introduced macaroni and cheese to America. Of course, the more she learned about him the better she liked him until he became her favorite founding father. Our tour took us through the house everyone gets to see plus the upper floors where most people do not get to go. We couldn’t take photos in the house but we were able to take photos on the grounds. Maddie loved every minute of that and was very busy trying to get photos of the house without people around and got her macros lens out when we went around the garden. It was very hot that day…almost 90! We really enjoyed the house and grounds despite the heat. While we didn’t learn anything astounding and new, we did learn little bits that made Jefferson seem a little more real.

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On Wednesday we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent time on a short section ending at Peaks of Otter Visitor Center. It was another beautiful day with temperatures in the 70s. We had great visibility at the overlooks and saw more butterflies than we could keep track of! Most of them were red spotted purples and tiger swallowtails. Maddie had her aquascope to check out some of the creeks. Maddie completed the Junior Ranger sheet for the James River visitor center earning a badge for the Blue Ridge Parkway and had a great conversation with the supervisor of rangers at the Peaks of Otter Visitor center. He told Maddie that he became a ranger because he couldn’t sit still in school and this let him be outside all the time. Maddie responded with “I know exactly what you mean!”. Maddie also told Brian and I later on how much she appreciates it when the rangers really check her work on the junior ranger book.

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Thursday we checked out of our cabin. When I made the last walk through I noticed a piece of paper on the desk in Maddie’s room and had to take a picture. I hope whoever checked our cabin and took the laundry enjoyed their note!


After checking out we headed to Mount Vernon.  The house was really neat and the farm had a unique 16 sided barn of George Washington’s own design. We also enjoyed the museum. They did not live up to Monticello however! The staff was not as cheerful and it was so much more crowded it was hard to think!

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We had a great time! Planning may be starting for next year’s trip, once again centered around a national park.On the way home we saw this group headed to Washington DC. Maddie and I particularly enjoyed seeing the one lady in riding her motorcycle in the middle of the men! Happy Memorial Day!




Yarn Along!


I am working on a prayer scarf…well, actually several….for our church. I hope to have enough that each graduating senior will have one to pack for college. We often do prayer shawls but I had read about this idea and liked it.This particular one is for someone entering the military. My Ravelry notes are here. I am reading many things at once! The ones in this picture though are The Canterbury Tales which I am reading aloud to Maddie. Maddie is coloring in a coloring book about Chaucer while I read. We are both enjoying this version which quite surprised me! The other book is The Harp and the Laurel Wreath which I am reading to find some poetry for next year. I am not sure yet if I will have Maddie copy it over or memorize it or just read!


I thought I would add this picture in too! This was the first really nice day of spring that we had last week. I was able to sit out on the porch for some knitting while listening to The Lord of the Rings on my Kindle. The sparrows were all quite upset that I was back out there in their world and lined up on the railing to let me know how upset they were! I tried to get a picture but I guess they felt they had said enough. The notes about the sweater are here.

I hope you are getting some spring weather too!! Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along!

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Easter and the rest of the week!

We have had a busy week! The kids have been off from public school which meant that I had a whole different crew of kids for day care. Some stayed home with teacher parents and others came for the week whose parents were working. It made for a busy week following a nice 3 day weekend for Maddie and me!

The day before Good Friday we made yummy hot cross buns with the day care kids and tried to make a Seder platter to go with our dinner. I messed up the platter a bit but we still discussed the elements on it and the Seder meal itself. The historians in us like to put things into perspective so talking about the last meal Jesus had with his disciples makes sense! Next year I promise to remember some meat on the bone!

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On Good Friday we walked in the cross walk around our little village. The churches all come together on that day to tell the Easter story a little bit at a time in the different sanctuaries around the village. Maddie loves to help carry the cross at some point and to see the other churches. She wore her new coat from Poppa Bill! The coat was part of his Navy uniform and has been around the world. She loves it and has worn it often since receiving it.


IMG_0580 IMG_0581 IMG_0582 The man in the orange shirt came over to Maddie later in the walk to ask about her coat. He had also been in the Navy and was proud to tell us he still fits into his uniform! This impressed me more than Maddie I have to admit. He was pleased that Maddie was wearing her grandpa’s coat and that she expressed pride in his service.

Saturday was spent doing our usual chores and dying eggs. I suspect this is the last year of the egg hiding fun! In fact Maddie sort of went along with her crazy parents this year. We had fun at any rate and Maddie enjoyed her basket in the morning. Somehow we managed to miss getting a picture of Maddie on the front porch so I am sorry to say you will miss her Easter finery. She looked so pretty and grown up! We were the greeters at church which is always fun then came home to make dinner. This was my first shot at deviled eggs! Brian and Maddie declared them delicious then proved it by eating them all!

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The rest of the week has been spent doing schoolwork and taking care of day care kiddos! One of Maddie’s favorite things from the  week was a Shakespeare Finger Puppet theater.


Tonight Brian took over dinner and I had a few minutes out on the porch in this beautiful weather! The sparrows were not too pleased by my presence though! I took my camera out in hopes of getting a picture of them all lined up on the railing telling me exactly what they thought of my knitting out there but they didn’t come back!

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Here is hoping for more knitting on the porch this week!!

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Spaghetti Dinner Time!

Yesterday we baked cakes and pies for the annual spaghetti dinner at church. The dinner helps raise money for scholarships for our kids to attend Camp Fowler. We always have a lot of fun! Maddie helped with the cake decorating at home. I made an “eating cake” and an auction cake. My auction cake was actually a chocolate bottom peanut butter pie. Yum!

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Then we headed off to church to see how Chef Brian was doing with the spaghetti, check out the other cakes and get busy ourselves. Maddie helped to serve and I helped with the auction cakes. We ended up bringing our dinner home to eat.

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As you can see some of the cakes were amazing! One was a replica of our church building. As always a good time was had by everyone and we will be sending lots of kids to camp!!