Hiking in the Smokies

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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 »

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Lessons from the 29th Week

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Lesson #1: getting out in nature is not overrated. After weeks of rain and snow, we were finally able to go hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Super nice: the nature, the fresh air, the fellowship, the picnic. It was 46F, which is much better than the 36F we endured during our last hike in January.

Hiking

Looking for a picnic spot

The kids love being out in nature. They run around like lambs, staying on the path, but sometimes going ahead of the adults. We manage to keep an eye on them by sending somebody to run and tell them to slow down.

Face Paint

She loves to paint her face with rocks from the river.

We see the same usual friends, but now and then a family we have not seen in a long time pop into town and they come along. So we get a bit of a variety. This week we hiked the Alum Cave Trail, but only to Arch Rock. It was not a difficult hike up to that point. It gets steeper and harder from then on, but we stopped.

 

Birthday Girl

The other major lesson of the week was that children grow up. (Duh.) Even the baby in our family turned 10 this week. With mixed feelings, we prepared for her birthday party. She invited some friends over, we had pizza and cake, they played for six hours, and great fun was had by all. Sigh. They do grow up fast, don’t they?

Birthday Girl

Unicorn cake – and just like that, she is 10

Where is my baby girl? My kindergartner who could read but could not sit still for five minutes? She is in fourth grade now, participating in middle school events like Science Olympiad, earning a blue belt in taekwondo, playing with the youth symphony on stage at the Tennessee Theater, and giving me so much joy, it hurts.

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Lessons from the 23rd Week

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We spent three days out of the classroom this week. Even though I know learning happens, it makes me nervous to not have “school” done with books, at home, in our regular habitat.

One day, we went hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Another day, I had to take my son to Knoxville for Science Olympiad practice (Write It, Do It). And yet another day, my husband drove all of us to Knoxville again, so that our daughter can test her latest boomilever with her coach, while our son met with his partner for Mission Possible to schedule the next move.

Icicle

Now that’s an icicle!

Lots of learning happened, of course, but, at my core, I am not an unschooling, carschooling, relaxed homeschooling type of mama. It makes me nervous that we are not progressing through our books.

We attend church in Knoxville, too, so this means we drove two hours round trip four times in one week. People commute like this every day for work, but I am glad we do not have to do it regularly.

The hardest thing we did this week (besides driving to Knoxville four times) was hiking in 36F. That’s 2 C if you are wondering. Just above freezing. We got warmed up as we went along, but the picnic was tough. We ate in a hurry and left.

Icicle Flag

My daughter found an icicle flag.

The kids have fun on these hikes and that’s what keeps me going for more. Also, I enjoy the fellowship with like-minded mamas. I won’t pretend I do not need these hikes for my own soul. All in all, we had a good week.

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Lessons from the Twelfth Week

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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 »

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