2018/2019 Planning

Although most of the world schooling families you will encounter are unschoolers, the Bradburys are not per say. We unschool certain subjects for certain seasons depending upon location and resources, but we are primarily a home schooling family. With that being said, I have been gathering our curriculum for the 2018-2019 school year. Because the boys and I will be out of country for most of the year I’ve spent the last few weeks compiling and reading all of the things we would like to utilize in our home and classroom. 

In our classroom, our main source of curriculum comes from the Global Village School, with a vast online classroom and a brick and mortar in California. We only pay for the curriculum list right now, but we love it. It is a curriculum based on thematic learning. All of the recommended books are books that you can find on amazon and in your library, it is up to you as the parent to make the books intentional in the classroom. What I mean by this is outside of classroom context the book ‘When the bees fly home’ is just a story book, but inside the classroom you are making bees wax figurines, trying out candle making, learning about the hive and the life cycles of bees, planting bee friendly flowers, building bee houses, etc. You, as the teacher/parent, transform the book from a bedtime story to a tool.

28378914_211219829430499_3312023387088252236_n

Some of our curriculum supplementation comes in the form of familiar names; Charlotte Mason, Steiner and Waldorf. This school year we spent a lot of time with the Charlotte Mason concepts and in building good habits. The issue I have found with any one curriculum is that they are all lacking one concept that the other has. The Global Village School is the closest I have ever gotten to perfection for our family, but it lacks the structure of habit. Charlotte Mason gives me the habits and structure, but lacks the ideas. Waldorf and Steiner give me the forest school and ideas, but lack the discipline for us, Waldorf gives us the handi-crafts. So I USE THEM ALL! I don’t use them all everyday, but I do draw inspiration and ideas from them all as supplementation to our base curriculum. None of them give us foreign language so I immerse us and add Greek, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch when we are beginning to immerse in those places. I offer the boys the opportunity to use the little language skills they have, I offer them opportunities to count the money, to pay the cab fare, to purchase the groceries, to read the map. Living with intention offers a much more in-depth experience in our travels and in our classroom, this aspect of our family is very much “unschooled.” Below I have included a few links to a couple of these resources (disclosure I make a few cents if you purchase through the amazon link). If you have any questions, need ideas for crafts/projects/units please reach out via email. Also, if you’d like to discuss curriculum in general please don’t hesitate to contact me, it took me quite awhile to find a conglomeration that worked well for us so don’t be discouraged!

Grandeur and Guanajuato

 

The kids and I have been in Guanajuato (GTO) Mexico for 16 days now and tomorrow we will hopefully be catching a bus to Mexico City to begin our journey back to North Carolina. Guanajuato far surpassed any expectations that I could have dreamt of. We love it here. The boys want to stay forever. We have made some lifelong friends and likely would make more out of the locals if we stayed.

This Mexico trip was a foot in the water to try out a longer abroad stay and learn some new things from fellow world schoolers. The world schooling summit itself left a lot to be desired. Honestly, I will probably not attend it again unless it’s ridiculously close to me. I did however learn about another summit that is ran by someone I highly admire that I would really like to attend in the future, but the summit that brought us to GTO did three things;

1) introduced me to some incredible people

2) opened my eyes to some new ways of living and very new ideas

3) brought me to a city that I may otherwise have never ventured to

That is all I am giving the summit credit for the rest was GTO in it’s entirety and the most incredible population of people I’ve ever met. Everything about the people here screams happiness. They ALL smile at you. They ALL talk to and touch your children. They ALL engage you in conversation despite neither of you speaking the other’s language. The love of children here is so loud and cherished here that it blows me away every single time.

When we were climbing out of the mine, I was wearing atlas on my back, and a man said to me “you’re climbing out with the greatest riches of all, solid gold in the weight of children.”

The people are so genuine. They truly try their very best to help you. They greet you. They acknowledge and speak to you and your children with ease. There is so much the American society could learn from the Mexican people, especially in regards to how it views it’s children.

There were lots of lessons learned this trip. Some small ones like letting kids sleep. Some larger ones like the dire need for a kitchen and the need for a lighter weight backpack, but if I were to write you a guide to Guanajuato it would look like this;

1) Valenciana is over looked and it was one of our favorite places. GO.

2) Eat foods that you don’t recognize and ask waiters and chefs for recommendations if you aren’t sure.

3) Walk the streets and alleys and stairwells for endless hours with no particular destination in mind.

4) Bring things that make the altitude more comfortable for you (i.e. lotion, chapstick, conditioner).

5) Tour the mines, as many as you can they are all different.

6) Ride the funicular to El Pipila just because it’s fun.

7) If you can catch music in the gardens GO.

8) Eat Mexican bbq.

9) The Diego Rivera museum is over rated, but the children’s library inside is superb and tutu gelato down the street is divine.

10) Go to the Mercado hildalgo and take in the views from the second floor.

11) The mummy museum is very touristy, but an absolute must see.

12) If you can walk you should. There are so many shops, people, alleys that you miss entirely from inside the taxi.

13) Speak to everyone who makes eye contact with you, which will be almost everyone.

14) Eat street food and eat in restaurants that look questionable they tend to be the best.

15) If your mango juice is served in a resealed reused old coca-cola bottle it will be a thousand times better than what you can find at the store. Drink it. Better yet when you see juice in reused bottles, order extra.

16) When you see other American looking people wandering around, say hello, ask how they are enjoying GTO. You can go days here without hearing English and on the days that the language barrier is excessively present you will carry that familiar vernacular with you and enjoy it.

17) Alley of the kiss, though small and uneventful, is the most precious spot. GO. Kiss each other, kiss your children and if you’re at a loss for a set of lips there are plenty of locals within a close proximity willing to help a sister out. Say yes and go.

See a more rural side of Mexico if you can. There is so much beauty and adventure to be had here. So many phenomenal people to learn from. Ask questions, play the game of soccer, ride the donkey, do whatever it is you won’t regret it.

Our return to Mexico is still to be determined, but it will happen. It will be for much longer so we have a better chance of learning Spanish. It will be in a house near friends. It will involve Spanish speaking school. It will involve immense volunteering with regional women. The biggest lesson I learned on this trip by far was to NEVER BUY A ROUND TRIP TICKET. If time is not a factor for you then do not put a time restraint on your exploration. I am kicking myself for giving us such a short deadline to get back to Mexico City when we would rather be with friends south of here watching the monarchs migrate.

The best thing that I can leave you with is to follow your inspiration and spend your time doing all things with Intention, Attention and no Tension (stolen from my new friend Zoelle). There is so much joy in simply being in a place.

Learning Lessons

This is the not so positive post. No matter how wonderful a location is, no matter how much fun you are having, there are times when the cons are loud. In an attempt to be transparent and honest with you all I’m writing this post, which should be entitled “the things that really pissed me off.”

1) Despite the beauty of this city, and it is truly gorgeous, if I were to point the camera at the side walk and not at the steeples you would see a tremendous amount of trash and animal feces that we were dodging constantly. Kids do not dodge poop well.

2) I am so thankful that in a moment of genius I packed reusable grocery bags. Though a small thing, the grocery bags here hold almost no weight without ripping open and that’s when you’re lucky enough to get one with handles.

3) The lack of vegetables. In the Mexican people’s defense, if you put salsa on all of your food you are subsequently getting your vegetables, but they do not serve vegetables. I am desperate for some veggies.

4) Three year olds. Many of you have heard me say at some point that Rhodes introduced me to my least favorite age. Three has been a very real struggle for Rhodes and I. Insert picture.

5) it’s been as cold as an ice cube fart. It is seriously cold. For some reason bad weather follows me. Everytime this family goes anywhere we get “it hasn’t been like this in 30 years.” I checked the weather vigorously up until i handed greg our heavy coats in raleigh assured that the temps in mexico would be above 70 degrees the whole visit. Today has been our first day of sunshine in quite a few days.

6) Mexican time, I knew going into this trip that we would experience a lack of urgency to accomplish things once we got here. Not by myself, but by locals. It is just part of some cultures, Mexico is definitely one. I have gone back and forth a thousand times with the laundry mat lady. Her door says she’s open 8am to 8pm but I can never catch her in there prior to 1030am, during lunch 11ish to 2 so I’m not sure when she works. Anyway the same goes for the expats here, all the Americans that live here have adopted this characteristic and my on time meant that I was alone in the building with my kids waiting for the presenter to show.

A little blurb about this photo of lux and the fountain, in regards to Mexico time, the huge Sunday market was supposed to open at 9am, we got there at 1015 and almost none of the vendors were open. So we wandered around trying to find things we hadn’t seen, taking pictures for the sake of pictures.

7) the kids and the summit conference. That experience has gone better than expected, but of course I’m still pulled in 4 directions tending to their needs while trying to listen to speakers. Luxor was committed to kid camp, he didn’t want to stop to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, etc. Rhodes was going back and forth between being inside with me and outside at kid camp. Atlas was with me inside where the speakers were, but much happier to be outside. They have set up a small kids area inside, but that doesn’t stop the baby from dumping people’s coffee, eating the random food he finds, freaking out when he forgets where he put me, etc. I take the most of the conference in when atlas is asleep on me or nursing. Today I’m missing most of the conference because i chased Atlas around all morning missing most of the first few sessions and this afternoon lux fell asleep during lunch thus missing two afternoon sessions. There’s a lot of give in take going on. I’m trying hard to make it to my top two or three speakers a day and choosing not to care if we don’t. This conference is different than most; the speakers are other world schoolers so if there’s something I’m dying to know that I didn’t get to hear then I’ll just email them. The world keeps spinning.

exhausted and have a baby constantly hanging on me. It isn’t pretty, but it’s my reality.

8) not all world schooling families are friendly. My neighbors in the hotel are less than pleasant. She seems to not remember her children younger than age 12 so they are doing their best to drive me insane, but my control over the volume of a 5, 3 and 1 year old is minimal at best. So her constant complaining isn’t helping me achieve this measure.

9) this is the last booger of a thing that is a bit overwhelming right now, we are over eating quesadillas. The food is delicious, but a person can only eat tortillas for so many meals. Two weeks is apparently our mark. We are desperately regretting staying in a hotel versus an airbnb. The kitchen would be such a blessing right now.

I hope you all found some humor in this and not just negativity. This was my attempt to let you all in on a raw real life post. The positive rainbow farts and butterflies are in another post. Stay tuned.

Did I hear you say Quesadilla?

The post about FOOOOOOD! If you are a lover of tortilla, Guanajuato is the place for you. Unlike more touristy parts of Mexico (Cancun, etc) that caters to the desires of its tourist with chains like margaritaville, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc Guanajuato is littered with street vendors most of which are making some version of a quesadilla stuffed with cactus and chihuahua cheese (I think it comes from the chihuahua district of Mexico). I cannot seem to get enough quesadilla in its many forms, Rhodes and lux are now tiring of the regularity, but lux’s love of engaging the corner quesadilla man is far stronger than his desire for frozen microwave pizza. So I continue to get quesadillas.

Fruit plays a very large part in the local cuisine, even more so than in the u.s.a. Many of us have a constant produce flow into our homes at dollar amounts that would shock these people, but fruit is everywhere here and so reasonably priced. There are street carts selling containers of fruit with creme drizzled on it, fruit for breakfast and the fruit juices are divine. After our brief experience here I will most definitely look at the Hispanic isle of our grocery store in much different light. The other morning lux said “the oranges here look horrible, but they make amazing orange juice.” We had this wonderful conversation about allowing things to ripen the way they were intended. In the u.s. we pick things way too early to ship around the country and appear pristine in stores so that you want to buy them, but here they are harvested when they are actually ripe or when they fall off the tree and they are not treated with anything so when you buy them on the street they look a bit rough, but they’re perfecto!

Our sugar intake here has been interesting. My mother would claim that they just haven’t quite tapped the true potential of sugar here, which I’d have to agree at least in the things we have tried. The ice cream is odd, not very sweet. The candy tends to be spicy. At least by American standards. The boys were so excited to use their pesos to buy something from a candy vendor and they bought what appeared to be a mashed fruit roll up on a stick, but once a few bites in they started using words like; watermelon-ish, spicy-kind of, that seedy thing, it’s too hot. Very odd phrases to describe candy. All of these ‘observations’ could easily be chalked up to the United States’ over use of sugar as well, but it’s just that, personal observation.

Sticky, spicy, hot, seedy, watermelon thing on a stick.

For our long bus ride we tried to buy some snacks. We bought “regular nacho” Doritos. I even asked the girl if they were regular, not hot Doritos. She said yes, no no no. Hot hot hot. Their normal version of our normal is significantly hotter across the board. It was the same with Cheetos. So if those are spicy I can’t even fathom what the things with flames on the labels taste like.

Let’s talk about Rhodes’ bowels for a moment. . .corn (elote or maize) is fairly common here and most places have a corn tortilla option, but it turns out that the flour tortillas do not bother him. After I saw numerous ladies making the flour tortillas by hand this past week, we decided to give it a try and viola! He didn’t get sick!

Lux’s new favorite, refried black beans, are a breakfast staple here. Turns out we’ve been eating them wrong the whole time and they are delicious with eggs!

And just like anywhere else in the world, the best places to eat are where the locals eat. Lunch at Mercado hildalgo (hildalgo market) was wonderful and so inexpensive. We had huge helpings of food made right in front of us for the u.s. equivalent of $3 a plate.

Water and fruit, filtered water is easy to find here and in abundance and dirt cheap. I’m no longer worried about the fruit being contaminated, I wash it anyway with veggie wash just like I do at home in the u.s. but I’m no longer doing it out of fear.

There are so many incredible things about this place, the food is just one of them, but I’ll tell you more about the tourism and people later.

Getting to Guanajuato, Mexico

Very early Sunday morning I woke the boys to get on the hotel shuttle to the airport. Not knowing what the day would hold, if we would make it to our final destination as planned, if that destination would actually have the reservation I had made four months prior, and even more if my massive checked bag would make it there.

*

We said gooodbye to daddy at the TSA pre check. Lux tried not to cry, I tried not to linger too long for fear that I would and Rhodes said “I’ll see you when we get back dad!” Completely oblivious to the fact that we won’t no matter how many times we have talked about it. We went through security with no issues, not removing anything, including electronics and shoes. TSA pre check was worth every penny with only one experience. We got to our gate and in the first 10 minutes of a 30 minute ‘wait to board’ I had the entire crowd terrified that they’d be seated near us on the flight. Atlas was a tired mess, the boys never stop talking. One man told me I was his hero, a grandpa made conversation with he big boys about Moana and frozen the two things he knew they had seen that he knew all too well. Another woman inquired about their ages, stating that hers were the same distance apart, which choired a “mine too” and another and another from the women in line behind us, followed by a “you have the sympathy of the crowd with you this morning.” Ah yes thank you, sympathy that’s what I need.

*

We ate on the gate floor, a breakfast of fruit with a smidge of cheese. I was praying the baby would sleep on this short, but potentially miserable early flight into charlotte, nc. For enquiring minds, it was $100 more per ticket to fly out of Charlotte as opposed to connecting to charlotte from Raleigh. Annoying. Anyway, Atlas was perfectly happy until we started boarding the plane. When I got to the threshold between the gate tunnel and airplane door and he could hear the noises outside roaring he lost it. He screamed, blood curdling screams, from the cockpit door to our seats in row 27, we were the last group to load. I walked the entire length of the plane with a screaming child, the entire plane full and watching (praying we weren’t sitting close by). I felt like I must have grown a 2 foot beard in the last hour as the freak show passed through the plane Atlas calmed down and didn’t make a peep that flight.

Atlas slept off and on for both flights and overall they all did wonderful on two flights totaling 4.5 hours. When we got to Mexico City, we waited in the customs/immigration line for what seemed like a life time due to some human factors of starvation and sleep deprivation.

*

When we finally emerged on the Mexican sidewalk we got a taxi and tried to communicate that we needed to go to the north bus terminal (autobuses del Norte Mexico). It appeared that he did not understand where we needed to go, though I thought my language interpretation was going ‘ok.’ He continued to ask for more information so I tried to supply him with an address. Thinking to myself that the cab driver should, most definitely, know where the north bus terminal is???? How is it even possible that he doesn’t??? Eventually I mentioned something to mom about Guanajuato and the bus driver experienced a huge epiphany with an “Ahhhhhh Guanajuato! SI OK!” Why he felt that our destination (9 hours later) was important information to our taxi destination I’ll never know.

*

We arrived at the bus terminal, somehow and with little struggle I might add, I managed to order four bus tickets and choose seats on a primera bus to Guanajuato at 1600. We tried to eat lunch, a nun tried to help me order, but in the end my five orders of food was handed to me as two orders with two fountain drinks.*facepalm* we loaded up on snacks from a shop for the long , 5 hour, bus ride. After paying for my first public restroom since the Turkish toilet hole incident of 2009. The bathroom ate our money and we went to catch our bus.

The bus experience as a whole was wonderful. I did bust my shin trying to get on when my suitcase fell over, taking me down with it. The girl that checked our tickets handed out a bag of chips and drink per ticket, nice touch. The bus was so comfortable, has a bathroom on the back, reclining seats and each seat has a tv playing Spanish movies. Well American movies in Spanish. The boys watched ‘the secret life of pets’ on repeat in Spanish. Atlas was not a bus fan, he wanted to walk around, but of course couldn’t much so hours 3 through 5 were rough and dark, which didn’t help.

*

The bus pulled into Guanajuato at 9pm in pure darkness and cold. We grabbed our luggage and looked for an available taxi, no taxi were found. Eventually my mom tried to call one, still not sure if the one we got into was the one we called or not, but we finally made it to our hotel room around 10:30pm. After some questions and trial and error we finally got hot water flowing and showers taken. One of the best showers to date. I can only compare that shower to those I’ve taken post child birth. Washing the stress, anxiety, facade away and emerging new and ready to take on a new role, a new adventure. We went to bed relieved and woke up rested to take on the city and everything it had to offer, after food of course.

Preparing for Goodbye

We are down to a few days left with my husband Greg. He is deploying for 6+ months while the kids and I are traveling. You might think that preparing for a deployment is solemn and depressing and I’m sure it can be and believe me it has had it’s moments, but a lot of the preparation for this deployment has come with some joy. We are doing our final “things” as a family of 5 for right now. We celebrated new year’s at great wolf lodge. We have attended winter birthday parties as a family, enjoyed neighbors and tackled ‘honey do’ lists, but there is also a plethora of things happening here that you wouldn’t naturally think of. For one, a deployment binder has been created and meticulously added to over the course of the last month.

Tomorrow I will do a short live video covering some of the items that we have chosen to include in our deployment binder. AND I will give you the free link to download your own template if you should ever need it. This life that we live is stunning and awe-inspiring in so many ways. There are many sorrows and silver linings to Greg’s deployment. I get the “oh you poor poor thing” comment quite regularly, or the “I’m so sorry” as if he is dying. The kids and I are ok, I’m more worried about Greg actually. The bigger boys will miss him, there’s no doubt about that, but they have been away from him for the better part of the last six months and in that time we have had plenty of conversations about this ship on the horizon. I, though love the adult conversation and companionship of my husband, am looking forward to nights of good books, new friendships, cultivating old friendships, visitors, getting to know my grandmother as an adult, raising our children on the edge of the world knowing I have Greg’s blessing and that this is what he wants for them too.

I would have never guessed 7 years ago when Greg proposed that here I would be all domesticated (insert chuckles), raising three boys, homeschooling and married to a Marine pilot preparing for deployment. I would have told you then that there was no way, why would I deliberately put myself through that? There’s no way I could handle that. But now? I’m not even nervous. I have a general idea of what to expect and even lower expectations in regards to communication, agendas, timelines. I have never been more emotionally flexible in my life and I’m not afraid. I’m hopeful that Greg will enjoy himself where he can, we will try to rendezvous where we can and the kids and I will be our usual busy selves, but this time we won’t be staring at his empty chair at the dinner table.

.

Last week, Luxor asked me “mom do you think things will be different when we get back from our big trip?” I responded with a simple, yes sweetheart, very different. I can’t help but wonder how the boys will be different, not size wise by height and weight, but the size of their spirit, their zest to know more about the world around them, their level of responsibility, their awareness. . .will they struggle horribly to re-assimilate back into American culture like I have for the last 10 years? For their sake, I hope not, but lucky for them this trip to Mexico and then abroad for 5+ months is just the beginning.

Greg and I, July 2011, 4 months after engagement and 3 months to wedding day. The beginning looked pretty good 😉

The Return Route

The Return “home,” it has become a lovely home, but what is ‘home’ when you live on the cusp of nomadic-ness with travel and military home roulette? 

The return home took much longer than the drive to Missouri because we only conquered about 4 to 6 hours a day and stopped for all the fun and memory making! Our first stop was Louisville again, but this time it was to tour the Churchill Downs. I found it to be very interesting, but the kids were bored. It was a long tour and had more of it been outside they would have enjoyed it a bit more, but it wasn’t and they were over it. They did however, really enjoy the museum.

Some of you know what my master’s degree is in, but almost no one ones the depths of what I was really studying. “Museum Science” is a vague umbrella of intensive exhibit design, organic material conservation, humidity levels, temperatures, different types of insects that cause threats to museum collections, loans, label font and size to cater to all levels of literacy and education. ANYWAY, my point, is that when I go into a museum I am very observant of the museum and permanent/traveling exhibit design. Now that I have children, the interactive aspects are becoming more important to me. The Churchill Downs museum has some incredible interactive displays for children. I apologize for the long windedness, but it is so incredibly important to expose your children to good museums when they are young so that they learn the joy of a well executed exhibit.

IMG_3068

Our second stop was actually the Mary Todd Lincoln house in Louisville, but for lack of photos I won’t spend much time on it. Very affordable entry. An incredibly long and in-depth, personal tour of almost the entire home, which differs from most historic house tours. The tour guide was personable and answered all of the boy’s many questions. From the gift shop, I purchased a beautiful Caldecott award-winning book about Abraham Lincoln’s life that the boys and I just finished in school. 

Most of my return photos are from Dollywood. I have wanted to go to Dollywood for quite a while, but upon looking at prices, yikes, it has been pushed off over and over again. We finally went on the return trip, bonus it was decorated for christmas. It was beautiful, very christian oriented, family friendly park. BUT my children are adrenaline, roller coaster junkies and there were almost no rides that they were tall enough to go on. They still had a great time, but price to product evaluation and we won’t be going back until my children are all MUCH taller.

IMG_3115

Our last, but never least, stop was the Biltmore Estates. I love this place so. Being one of the Curators on staff has been a dream of mine for a very long time. After my first exposure to the Biltmore a year ago May I said “we need to go back when it’s decorated for Christmas!” That we did! My dad has also always wanted to see it and never had so we went and took our sweet time seeing as much as we could. You see, hear, learn something different every single time you go. There are so many incredible things to do and see in and around the Asheville, NC area, but perhaps the best thing my kids saw was the faces of our beloved neighbors at the end of this month-long trip.

Playing Catch Up

IMG_2682

Whew! It has been a fast, yet long, three months of almost constant travel. After our Pennsylvania road trip the boys and I were home for a week before we drove to Charlotte, NC for the Thomas the train engine close-up. I was skeptical about this event because our Thomas the train ride was at noon and our Percy the train ride was at 5:15 so I’m thinking to myself “what in the world are we going to do for 5 hours?? How am I going to entertain Lux whom has already made it very clear that ‘it’s for babies?’ ugh.”

IT WAS AMAZING!! There was so much to do that we ran out of time and didn’t get to do everything. It was nice and spread out so there weren’t 45 kids in any one area. I cannot wait to go back. Wonderful bang for the buck. DO IT!

Two weekends later, Greg finally home, we went to the North Carolina Hot Air Balloon Festival. It was over our 6th anniversary (the first year we have been able to see each other on the date) and though it was a low-key, low funded event it was good and worth going. I want these blog posts to be honest so in the name of honesty we RARELY purchase VIP parking or pay extra to be closer, but we did this time not knowing what to expect. THANK HEAVENS we did. Holy walk. If you find yourself going to an event similar to this do yourself and your party a favor and purchase VIP parking. The areas for these types of events are typically large to protect property (cars, people, trailers) from potential balloon hazards. We still walked quite a ways, but it was definitely worth the money. 

IMG_2557.JPG

Ten days later, the kids, Dog, Poppy and I, hit the long road from Coastal North Carolina to Boonville (Mid-central) Missouri. 17 hours, that goes by rather quickly with good conversation, but has some pretty horrendous moments with 3 kids squished into a mid-sized suv with no movies or electronics of any kind. I have a few rather pious and also boring normal reasons for this. 

  1. I have an older vehicle, no built in fancy things.
  2. In the past I have tried portable dvd players. one person couldn’t hear, then it wasn’t fair, then they didn’t like the movie. I put them away never to reemerge.
  3. Maybe the biggest reason, the only way we went on vacation growing up was via road trip, this is how I saw a good portion of the midwest. I LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW, or I read, played games, many many other things. I learned all of my initial assumption about the world by viewing it and you miss out on so much of the adventure by not looking out the window and asking questions.

 

On the other hand, I completely understand a mother’s want to hand out the electronics, typically everyone is happier (kids and mom included). Too bad for my kiddos, I won’t budge on this one. A movie here and there if the equipment exists is enjoyable, but I’d rather they count cows :).

All of our attempts to sight see on the way to Missouri were a bust due to winter hours except at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory. It was a last minute decision to go there and we loved it! Very kid friendly, great little museum, wonderful factory tour. It surprised me and now I’m recommending it far and wide.

Our trip back was immensely more fun, stay tuned. . .

 

Carter Mountain Orchard

IMG_1938

Friends, I am behind!! Of course, I’m behind due to some very fun travels that you’ll hear about soon 😉 Here in North Carolina, apple orchards are like mythical unicorns. You really want to believe they’re right down the road and not 5 hours away deep in the swerving mountains of Virginia, but alas, Charlottesville, VA is where we went. 

I was first introduced to this beautiful, mountain top orchard back in 2013. Desperate to find a quiet place in the craziness of Washington D.C. HOV lanes, we traveled south with our then 14 month old and pregnant with Mr. Rhodes. We fell in love with the drive and the views. We would come back two weeks later and then proceed to miss this special place for the next 4 years. 

This time was exceptionally chaotic and fun because we met our previous neighbors there (now stationed near Washington D.C.)

When homeschooling/travel schooling, I tend to pack books that aid in our learning and bring a little tiny bit of structure to something that could otherwise be a crazy fury of apple cores. The orchard as a facility helped me greatly has they had interactive trivia boards everywhere and fun visuals for the kids. I brought a book about apple orchards (a girl who goes on a field trip to one) and we worked on our variety identification and based on what we learned we tried to pin down what varieties of apples we would be allowed to harvest that day at Carter Mountain. 

IMG_1968

Due to the steepness of the mountain, a person cannot leave clean. You have to hike quite a bit and reach taller than you thought your arms capable, but the fruit is perfection. If picking fruit is not something you find necessary, Carter Mountain Orchard is still worth your time for history’s sake. Thomas Jefferson gifted the Mountain to, his then neighbors, and in 1912 the mountain opened as a public orchard and has been open ever since. Get out there and enjoy the beauty friends, it’s worth the drive.

Amish Country and Mount Pocono

IMG_1871When you begin the drive from Gettysburg, PA toward Lancaster county (Amish country) and Intercourse, PA do your whole car a favor and fill up with fuel before leaving Gettysburg. Though you will see many cars, primarily tourists and Mennonites, driving around there are a scarce few gas stations and the prices are astronomical. Supply and demand is thriving in Amish country. 

Our first stop was to a beautiful quilt store where everything was hand stitched by the Amish. Photos were not allowed and we had to put white gloves on upon entering. I have been to a lot of quilt stores and that was a first, but for good reason. After the quilt store our goal was to catch a buggy tour. Rhodes (middle child age 3) loves horses and all things that go. Therefore, pairing the two became a very important must do mission, despite it’s blatantly touristy ambiance. 

IMG_1849The ride was quite comfortable, though packed with people. We toured an Amish dairy farm, had homemade Amish root beer and lemonade before re-boarding the buggy. 

The dairy farm was very interesting. Apparently batteries and solar panels are exceptions to Amish rules of no electricity. Every religion has their loop-holes, but the part that was truly interesting was that numerous generations of family lived in separate homes on the farm. The father identifies as Amish, the son that actually owns the dairy portion of the farm is not Amish. The father, who is pictured, actually owns the land and crops that feed the dairy cows. They work together and thrive together. The son’s milk production is purchased every two days by Land O’ Lakes. The co-existence was everywhere. There were Amish and Mennonites working side by side using different techniques and yet honoring each other’s choices and businesses. There were some overwhelmingly tourist trap type areas. In theory, we thought we would love the “square” full of shops, but there were dozens of tour buses, thousands of people, we kept driving. If we are going to shop, I want it to be authentic. I want to see the faces our money is feeding and we were back on the road. . . 

From Amish country we traveled to Mount Pocono, PA. Gorgeous! We were blessed with a beautiful lake house to stay in that had perfect water access and all the amenities we could possibly want. We enjoyed a beautiful three days there, relaxing, no t.v., no rushing, just enjoying the company of friends and celebrating the life of a mutual friend. We played so very hard, packed 11 bodies into a 3 bedroom house, cooked together, drank together, laughed and cried together. We will definitely be back.

The boys got some extra, unexpected freedom due to the lack of lake depth off of the dock. You could walk about 20 yards out before it got any deeper than 2 feet so they were able to play and play and play essentially unsupervised and with little risk of drowning. The paddle boat was tied to the dock and they would paddle it out and back in practicing their pirate siege techniques and pretend playing for hours.

Though a good portion of our schooling that weekend came from play I did try to incorporate some more structured learning. We worked on tree identification and forest classifications as the trees and resources for this lesson were in plenty around us. We picked our favorite leaves (red maple and yellow birch mostly) and waxed them together with an iron. They are still adorning my kitchen windows a month later. 

Though Amish country left some things to be desired, it was very easy to see the enticement of Pennsylvania. Rolling hills, pristine farms frozen in time, nature in perfection. I feel as if we only saw one facet of a Gem. I suppose we will have to go back.