Hiking Our Hearts Out

Posted on

Once a week, we go hiking with a group of local homeschoolers. It helps that we live five minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but we go other places, too. Last week, it was Panther Creek State Park. Next week, it will be Seven Islands Birding State Park.

Fern Branch Falls

Fern Branch Falls

The thing is, the National Park is so immense, some of the trails are still an hour from my house. So even if the destination is in the Smokies, we still have to drive for 30 minutes or longer. What can I say? America is big. That’s what this Israeli family told us last week, when we were at Grotto Falls and started chatting with them. “America is big.” They could not believe how long it would take them to get from point A to point B. Continue reading »


Hiking in the Smokies

Posted on

We joined Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains last August and it has been a great experience. These other homeschooling families may have different approaches and convictions, but we all respect each other and find common ground.

Mom and Daughter

Mom and Daughter at The Sinks

If nothing else, nature unites us. We can all find many things to discuss about the natural things we run into. Then, we talk about food. Some of them have older children, who have gone to college, so we talk about that. I always have lots of questions about scholarships, test prep, and the college atmosphere. Religion is another thing we can discuss, as long as we deal in generalities. We stay away from politics – it seems like this topic has gotten more volatile than ever in our country. Continue reading »


Lessons from the Twelfth Week

Posted on

We are 1/3 of the way through the school year. Just like that. I am excited about the progress we are making. Also, I am happy with the changes we have made so far to our schedule.

Last week included two days away from home: one preparing for Science Olympiad with two different coaches in Knoxville, and one hiking with our Wild and Free Great Smoky Mountains homeschooling friends.

Seven Islands Hike Board

My kids on one of the hikes at Seven Islands

As such, I had to do some more adjustment in my head about book learning. In the end, I know we will finish our goals for the year. It’s just that I have to allow for weeks like this one to happen. In conclusion, I find it gets easier over time. Continue reading »


National Park Service Centennial

Posted on

Yesterday, the US National Park Service turned 100 years old. There were celebrations all over, I am sure. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park had their own celebration, complete with a visit from our Congressman Phil Roe and Senator Lamar Alexander.

Boy and girl taking a break from hiking

Taking a short break on the trail

I took the kids on a hike in the late afternoon and stayed away from the morning ceremonies. We avoid crowds, as people who live in a tourist area. We thoroughly enjoyed the hike.  Continue reading »