Taking Out the Trash

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About once a year, we arm ourselves with trash bags and walk through our neighborhood to pick up trash. We probably should do it more often. Maybe we will, as the kids get older.

Boy with collected trash on Earth Day

My son with the trash he collected along the road in our neighborhood.

They learn so much by doing it. Plus, it counts as service. I don’t have a particular number of service hours as a goal, though maybe I should. But I know service is important for the children. They need to learn life consists of times when we help others or we work hard for no tangible reward. We only receive the satisfaction of having cleaned the ditches in our neighborhood.  Continue reading »

This counts as my last post in November, for my first NaBloPoMo. It has been fun and not too stressful. Maybe I will do it again soon. Thanks for reading me.

Thoughtful Thursday Week 43 – Service

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Of all the things we do in our homeschool, nothing is harder to schedule than service. We visited a nursing home once. We attended a fundraiser for Sevier County Food Ministries. We sorted through toys and clothes and donated them to a Thrift Store nearby, for kids who could use them. Other than that, I am clueless.


After a column I wrote for The Mountain Press about my Halloween dilemma, i.e. about not knowing how to avoid observing this obviously occultish holiday, one of my readers emailed me about an event at Brookdale Assisted Living in Sevierville, on October 29th. Children can come dressed up in different costumes, they get candy, and the residents get visitors. It’s a win-win. There will be snacks, too.  Continue reading »

So after several weeks of praying and looking around for alternatives to trick-or-treating, I think I may have stumbled upon something here: an opportunity for service. Children put a smile on the faces of most assisted living residents. We will put our violins in the car to take along, as well as our sheet music. Surely, there’s a piano in that place. And we will make some music for the residents, besides showing up to cheer them up.

I have called them up and they were thrilled we offered to come just to trick-or-treat. The music may or may not happen this time, as it depends on the number of people they will have coming through. But they are totally open to our coming over there to visit any other time, and share our music, smiles, and presence with the residents.

It just so happened that I watched an emotional video on Facebook too, about this preschool which was planted inside a nursing home. The elderly were in tears as they interacted with the kids. They held hands. An elderly lady straightened the hair on a preschooler. The kids loved interacting with people the age of their grandparents. Again, a win-win situation.

We look forward to being more involved in an assisted living facility in the future, visiting with the elderly.

It is rather hard to involve small children in service opportunities. They can’t really clean a house or a yard without supervision. They hinder more than they help. It’s one thing having them trotting around the house with a duster. It’s another thing having them dust in the house of an elderly lady with lots of ceramic items on shelves. But they can smile, shake hands, and play their instruments in a nursing home.

If you have any ideas for service projects, I would appreciate them. I would like to spend more time in service with my kids.

Afternoon Tea at Buckhorn Inn

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Bukhorn Inn, a bed and breakfast in Gatlinburg which provides fine accommodations and dinner by reservation only, hosted an afternoon tea today, featuring a speech by Dr. David Woodfine, the retired High Steward to Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, and former butler and host to royals and celebrities.

With Dr. David Woodfine, at the Buckhorn Inn, for an afternoon tea

With Dr. David Woodfine, at the Buckhorn Inn, for an afternoon tea

Dr. Woodfine told us stories of attending to Princess Margaret, Lady Diana, Prince Charles and others. He was funny, warm, and very gracious. He is on a US tour with Dr. Mark Hilliard of Hilliard Institute. One of the divisions of Hilliard Institute is their press, the organization that publishes Dr. Woodfine’s books. All proceeds from his books go to Ethiopian well construction, by the way.

Boy and girl with John Mellor at Buckhorn Inn

With John Mellor, the innkeeper, also from England

We had tea, of course, and the kids managed to sit more or less still and quiet for 95% of his talk. Buckhorn Inn served cucumber sandwiches, lemon bars, and scones with jam and clotted cream. It was a lovely afternoon in a peaceful, elegant setting, listening to stories about English royalty and their high manners.

Boy and girl reading on a couch in a private library

Enjoying the Buckhorn Inn Library

Dr. Woodfine even had a story that related to Downton Abbey. Charles Blake, of course, is the dashing character who threw mud at Lady Mary in the pigsty. He is played by Julian Ovenden. Julian’s father is a personal chaplain to the Queen. His name is John Ovenden. And he had lunch at Dr. Woodfine’s house six weeks ago.  Continue reading »

Buckhorn Inn Afternoon Tea with a Real English Butler

Buckhorn Inn Afternoon Tea with a Real English Butler

We sat down and talked with Dr. Woodfine after his speech. We also purchased his books: From Kitchen to High Table, a cookery book, to use the British term; Join Me for Afternoon Tea, a lovely book which explains how to make a meaningful occasion extra special; and ABCs of Etiquette for Young People – a book on manners for children. All three links are affiliate links.

Buckhorn Inn Labyrinth

Buckhorn Inn Labyrinth

We happened to walk in at the same time as two ladies and a teenage girl. We all sat at the same table. As we introduced ourselves, we found out they were sisters from Maryville and – surprise, surprise – they, too, homeschool. We also discovered that we belong to the same support group, Blount Home Education Association, but that we don’t have the time to join them for all the activities and field trips. Nobody does.

Before we went there, I told the kids we were going to have tea at Buckhorn Inn. They were excited, as we pass by it many times and try to spot their swan on their pond, which can be seen from Buckhorn Road. Then, I showed them England on the map and explained that country does not have a president. They have a queen instead and her son will take over one day and be king. We talked more about it, as I brought up Prince George being fourth in line and having a little sister now. They kids went, “Awww!…”

My biggest takeaway was service. Here’s a man who served others for 50 years and loved every minute of it. I came back home and read through his cookbook while the children played. Then, I went into my kitchen and made his simple scone recipe. We enjoyed them for supper along some fruit and tea. Now, we are reading the books and learning about manners. I am sure I can record this as Home Ec or Proper Socialization or Geography or History. Better yet, it is a unit study on English Afternoon Tea. How lovely is that!