Field Trip Friday – Minute Man National Historical Park

Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me a month and a half to get all the Massachusetts posts up! What a trip! I promise this is the last one. 😉 I’ve been calling this part of the trip the North Bridge, and we did see the North Bridge, but it turns out we were at the Minute Man National Historical Park. (I found this out while writing quarterly reports which were mailed yesterday — WHOO HOO!)

To be honest, by this time in the trip everyone was pretty much ready to head for home. But our future was very uncertain (we were pretty sure we were moving to Tulsa, OK, at the end of the summer) and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to see where Paul Revere stood waiting for the signal to ride. Plus, we ON PURPOSE read “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Longfellow before we left for Massachusetts.

Concord isn’t that big and we found the park easily. We parked near a visitor center and had to walk about a quarter of a mile to get to the bridge. Here is a shot of it as we started out walk.

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And yes, I did hear some grumping and complaining. (Can’t we just look at it from here? We can say we saw it. I’m tired. It’s hot…)

But the homeschool mom in me pressed on. Seriously, we can’t get that close and not go stand on the bridge, people!

Getting closer…

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Oh wait! Gotta run into this secret garden real quick…

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And someone else got distracted by wildflowers…

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Dad took the camera for a while. I like this shot he got of Jesse and me…

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Abe standing on the North Bridge. I’m not sure if I took this shot or if Kenny did, but we’re lucky to have it. Abe was not photo friendly on this trip!

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Taking a break and looking over at the “Old Manse” which was the home of Emerson’s father, William Emerson. They would have been able to see the first skirmish from their back windows.

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Monument at the site of the first resistance…

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Let’s get all the kids at the monument. 😉

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Back across the bridge…

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Poor Wes. He was so ready to go!

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Minute Man statue…

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(and no, I didn’t make all the kids get in a shot with the Minute Man statue. 😉 )

Can I jump in this little water puddle?

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Me, too!

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Seriously, Mom?

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Finally, we headed for home. When I walked out back to take some trash to the can, I was greeted by a garden snake!

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What a memorable trip. I’m not sure where we’re off to next. The kids want to join Little Troy Park again this summer so we’ll spend a lot of Fridays there. Novella wants to see the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs. I want to go back to Massachusetts to Amherst and see the home of Emily Dickinson. And most of us want to get to New York City some day, but we’ve got to plan WAY ahead for a trip like that! The good news is we get to stay in New York for at least one more year! Yea!! We’re praying God will bless our sweet little church and we’ll get to stay longer.


Summer break is finally here!!

I don’t know if I’m going to stick with the local school schedule next year or not. We get so tired of school going until the 3rd week of June! Of course, we like not starting until after Labor Day… And if I switch it this year we’re going to have a really short summer…

Anyway, yesterday was the first official day of summer vacation. I worked on the blog some in the morning, took a nice long walk, did some family stuff with the kids at 10 and then let them play outside until lunch time.

(The pics are from my iTouch. I was relaxing and didn’t have my good camera outside.)

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Of course they asked if they could play in the water. And, of course, I said yes since it is summer. Some little girl was very exicted!

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I was pretty excited, too. I got a little sun on my legs and read a book.

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Every time I read Charlotte Mason I am floored by how insightful and brilliant that woman was! I may have to start doing a little blog series on the things I’m reading. They are too good not to share!

I got the big boys to watch the littles for me so I could make quick hot dog lunch and we had it outside on a blanket.

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We were interrupted by the lawn care guy that wanted to mow the grass. We were almost done anyway, and the grass needed some attention. I was glad to see him! (And blessed that the landlord sends someone to take care of that chore for us!!) The little two took great naps after lunch. I’m hoping to sufficiently wear them out again today! 🙂


Field Trip Friday — Last Day of School

I’ve got one more Massachusetts post to put up, but yesterday was the last day of school so I’m going to blog about that this week. I’ll try to get that last MA post up next week.

We had a mad scramble to finish things at the end of the school year. We always have a bit of a scramble, but somewhere along the way three of the kids got behind in math. (I think it happened during the 2nd quarter when we had Christmas break…) I don’t mind if we don’t finish every single thing. New York only requires us to complete 80% of what we said we were going to do. But it really, really bugs me not to finish math. We set up a little competition to finish last year and that worked well so we repeated it this year.

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We also sweetened the deal a little more.

* Everyone who finished got a trip to Ben & Jerry’s in Saratoga Springs on the last day of school.
* The first person to finish gets $10.00!
* Anyone finishing with an A average gets $10.00!

As you can see, they all finished even though a few weeks ago some of them still had over 15 units left!

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Before we left, the kids kindly let me take a group shot of all the school age Baileys.

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Then I handed them the summer box. They always get excited about what might be in it. 🙂 This year it was a board game I found on clearance (Eureka), God’s World News summer times, a fun reading book for each kid, Lego Batman II game for the Wii and a few movies I got on clearance at Target. I don’t buy things for the summer box all at once. I catch things on clearance for a few months before school is out. Usually I put some craft supplies in, too, but we so don’t need any more craft supplies right now!

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We left for Saratoga Springs around 11:30 a.m., had a quick lunch, and played around for a while in the mall. The Wilton Mall has a play area for little kids that Jesse, John and Sophia thoroughly enjoyed.

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Dad and the big boys had fun, too…

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While Dad, Abe and Wesley kept an eye on the littles (obviously the above picture was taken while Novella and I had an eye on the littles!), Novella and I snuck a quick look at the clearance sales. We picked up a few great deals and headed back. After the mall, it was on to Ben and Jerry’s!

We got our cones and spread out on the park benches outside.

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I had fun taking pictures even though my ice cream was melting!

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I made Kenny get one shot of me to at least prove I was there!

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And, of course, there were the obligatory Ben & Jerry’s sign pics…

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Novella preferred to be in front of the sign. 😉

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Mom and Dad had to play, too…

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After ice cream we drove home and Kenny and the three oldest went to the movies with some friends. What a great last day of school, wouldn’t you say?


Field Trip Friday — Picnic on Walden Pond

If we’re facebook friends, you’ve already seen a picture or two of our picnic on Walden Pond and maybe caught a little of the excitement I felt at seeing it in person. Seriously, people. WALDEN POND. I’m still giddy!

On our way to the pond we made a couple of quick stops for me to take pictures. We didn’t have time to tour all the author’s homes, but at least we can say we’ve seen them in person! First was Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott. I was most sad not to tour this house. I need to start a new list of things to see and do when we go back!

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Within walking distance of the Alcott home is The Wayside, family home of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m guessing from the sign that the Alcotts owned the home before the Hawthornes.

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It was closed due to major renovations in progress.

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People were getting antsy and hungry back at the car, so we took off for lunch. Walden Pond wasn’t too hard to find. 😉 There was another replica of Thoreau’s cabin about a mile from the pond. We stopped there after parking and getting out our picnic supplies.

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We were able to go in this replica and look around. There was even a reproduction of the writing desk we saw back at the museum.

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Some people couldn’t resist having a little fun with Thoreau’s statue. Wanna drink of water, Mr. Thoreau?

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Would you mind holding the lunch bag, Mr. Thoreau?

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Mom and Dad maybe went over the top a bit. Ahem.

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OK. OK. On to the pond.

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And the picnic.

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For some reason, that’s the only picture I got of the actual picnic. I guess I was too hungry to take pictures? Everyone is looking at a scary spider, by the way.

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And Kenny found an inch worm on his shoestring. I love the new camera! The old camera never would have been able to focus this close.

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Abe got a great Mom and Dad shot with Walden Pond in the background.

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We let the kids run around a bit after lunch.

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They wanted to stick their toes in the water, but Mom and Dad were feeling the need to get back on the road — preferably without sandy children since we had about a four hour trip home. I couldn’t resist getting one final shot of the pond right by the water.

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Great memories! One more Massachusetts post left. I’ll post about our stop at the North Bridge next Friday.


Ballerina Girl

We were thrilled to find a Christian dance company when we moved to NY similar to one Novella participated in in Alabama. She only got to dance for one semester in Alabama, but she was hooked. It is clearly one of her passions!

Kings Dancers works an entire school year towards one big end of year recital. The girls worked hard all year and it paid off with a beautiful show! It was hard to get pictures at the actual recital because of the lighting but I did get a few shots with my purse camera at the dress rehearsal at the dance studio.

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The looks so beautiful and graceful as she dances!

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I did get a couple of shots during the performance before the audience was reminded not to use flash. 😉

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In addition to her main ballet dance, she had a hip hop part in the opening dance of the recital:

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This shot is back at the studio at the dress rehearsal when she received her dance medal. She is with her teacher, Mrs. Suzanne.

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Right after her main dance concluded:

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After the whole recital with her friend, Emily:

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Another shot after the show:

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With me and little sis:

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I’m so proud of you, my sweet girl! And thank you for making breakfast while I got this blog post up! 😉

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Field Trip Friday — Concord Museum

After leaving Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, we drove down the road to the Concord Museum.

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We debated long and hard about what to see and what to leave for next time. There is a possibility that we will be leaving New York at the end of the summer so we knew there might not be a next time. Our options were the Concord Museum, Louisa May Alcott’s home, Hawthorne’s home and the Minuteman Museum. We decided the Concord Museum would be the most interesting to the most people (namely, the girls and the boys were likely to find things they liked).

The first thing we saw was a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin he built on Walden Pond.

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The kids were in a good mood as we headed in.

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We got our tickets and the curator challenged the children to a scavenger hunt. They each had a piece of paper with 16 things to locate in the museum. The most exciting thing (to me!) we found was one of the two lanterns used to signal Paul Revere to make his famous ride.

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They had a room set up to mimic Emerson’s study with all of the original furniture and furnishings:

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Kenny was fascinated by this Victorian-style dining room. Personally, I find the wallpaper a bit suffocating…

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Upstairs has a wonderful seasonal Thoreau display. They even had some of his original journals and his writing desk. No pictures were allowed in this area — even without flash. I got so excited looking at his journal, though, and asked the curator if she’d ever heard of the English educator, Charlotte Mason. Thoreau and Mason were on the same wavelength! His journals reminded me very much of her Book of Firsts. The curator had not heard of Mason but she did tell me something I didn’t know. Thoreau is pronounced like thorough (i.e. — I’ll make a thorough examination of the facts.)

I could have stayed longer looking around at the Thoreau display. I’m super excited to learn more about him and his works now that I’ve seen this similarity to Mason. Jesse, however, is a two year old and was on day three of trying to be super good in public. He’d had about enough and wanted no more of the stroller. Since it wasn’t prudent to let a grumpy two year old loose in a historic museum, we opted to head out for lunch. I did manage a quick run through of the gift shop ;), and found this lovely little bird as a reminder of our trip:

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Of course, I couldn’t help but style it with my vintage Burgess books!

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I think all the kids (except maybe Jesse!) had a great time and learned a lot!


In other Tae Kwon Do news…

Abe wasn’t the only one to test for a new belt in May. Three more kiddos moved up in rank!

First up is my sweet 10 year old, Novella.

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This girl is amazing. She loves to dance. She loves to read. And she loves Tae Kwon Do. She is also the best big sister on the planet!! Jesse loves her almost as much as he loves his own mama! (And the *almost* might be wishful thinking on my part!)

Part of testing at this level is breaking boards. She didn’t get the hand break but she rocked the side kick break:

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Novella did an excellent job testing and earned the rank of high blue belt. That puts her three testings away from black belt. Great job, Nov!

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Next up is my almost a teenager, Wesley. It is so much fun to watch Wesley do martial arts. His movements are so clean and so precise. He makes it look like an art form! I didn’t get to see his patterns this testing (I bring Nov straight to TKD from dance and we’re always about 15 minutes late) but here is a picture of him sparring with Abe:

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Wesley always nails the board breaking.

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Great work, Wes! Mom and Pop are proud of you!

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Last but certainly not least, John Elijah testing for yellow belt. His instructor, Mr. Gibbons, grinned from ear to ear any time he was on the floor. He is just so cute!

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He did a great job overall and was always so serious!

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My camera battery died at this point. Luckily, I had my backup camera in my purse. The quality isn’t as good but at least I had something!

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Congratulations to all the new belts and their instructor, Mr. Gibbons!

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Field Trip Friday — Author’s Ridge

Our first stop the day after Abe’s black belt testing was Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. I knew Louisa May Alcott’s house was in Concord, but I had no idea how many other author’s lived there. The apartment we were staying in had a Boston area visitor’s guide and I looked through it our first night in town. We had originally wanted to go to Boston but we were limited to two nights (the owners were only gone for the weekend) and we were a little nervous about the whole subway thing with six children. I realized after looking at the guide that there was plenty in Concord to keep us occupied! Of course, I knew the whole Revolutionary War history was there (it is the Concord of Lexington and Concord, after all!), but I had no idea of the rich literary history!

One must see for any classic literature enthusiast is Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I secretly wanted to go there as soon as I heard who is buried there, but thought it might be hard to find. Nope. We passed right by it on the way to testing on Sunday. Since we wanted to be out of the apartment really early Monday morning (in case the owner came back early), we decided to stop there before any of the museums opened.

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It is a beautiful cemetery.

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The first grave we came to on Author’s Ridge was Henry David Thoreau. Here is a picture of the whole family’s plot:

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And Thoreau’s grave:

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On up the ridge on the left is the Hawthorne family plot:

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is buried on the left side of the plot in the back:

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One of his most famous works, The Scarlet Letter, is available for free on Kindle. (click on the title of the book to go directly to Amazon.com)

On the other side of the ridge at the very top is the family grave site of Louisa May Alcott:

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Kenny thought it appropriate to take a picture of his girls at her gravesite:

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We had to search a bit to find the last author, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was around the corner from the others:

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His grave is marked with the giant stone.

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If you are wondering, YES, the big boys thought it was odd that I was taking so many pictures in a cemetery. 🙂 Here is a look down from the top of the ridge:

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We learned more about Henry David Thoreau later in the day when we visited the Concord Museum. Come back this Friday to hear more!


He’s a black belt – again!

If you know us personally, you probably know Abe’s black belt story. He set a goal for himself to attain black belt status in Tae Kwon Do before his ninth birthday. Yes, I did say *ninth* birthday. Isn’t it funny how the oldest never seems little? Getting a black belt before nine seemed totally reasonable to us back then. Also, he’d been taking Tae Kwon Do since two weeks before his *fourth* birthday. Five years was plenty of time to achieve black belt. No matter that he wasn’t even double digits yet!

Anyway, long story short, it was the last testing cycle before his ninth birthday. He had passed everything except the board breaking. If he didn’t break the board he’d be given another chance at a make up testing but he wouldn’t get the black belt at the awards ceremony; he’d just get it in class. Getting a black belt in the ITA (International TaeKwonDo association) is a big deal. Your dad makes a speech at the awards ceremony and everything. I didn’t want Abe to miss getting his dad make a speech about him!

Back to the testing… As they were preparing to break boards Abe’s instructor realized he had taught him the wrong kick. The kick he needed to pass the test was one he’d never practiced. The instructor pleaded with the judges to let him use the kick he’d learned but they refused. The instructor took Abe aside for a moment and gave him a pep talk. Then the board breaking began. Kids have 3 chances to break the board. If they can’t do it in 3 tries, they get a “no change” status for testing. They don’t say they “fail”, but they don’t move up to the next level. Abe did not break the board on the first try. He did not break the board on the 2nd try. The instructor gave him another pep talk. Kenny and I and Mr. MacLaughlin (the instructor) held our breath. AND HE BROKE THE BOARD!! I’ve never jumped up and shouted for joy before but I did that day. I was so proud of Abe! His dad made the speech and everyone at Tae Kwon Do had to call eight year old Abe “Mr. Bailey” from then on.

(I wanted to put a picture of the “Congratulations, Mr. Bailey” cake I baked for him, but I can’t find it in my huge mess of old pictures. I’ll post it later if I find it!)

Fast forward to four years later. We move to New York and hear about a Tae Kwon Do program that costs only $35 per month for the whole family. By this time Wesley and Novella are into TKD, too, although neither of them felt the drive to achieve black belt at the young age that Abe did. $35 a month?! For the whole family?! Seriously?! Yes, please!! We hadn’t even done TKD for months because we simply couldn’t afford it anymore. I was paying $185 per month in Alabama for a family plan with $60-$100 testing fees every two months per kid.

The thing was, it wasn’t ITA. It was USTF (United States TaeKwonDo Federation). While all the kids got to keep their belt colors, they each had to earn them all over again with USTF patterns and regulations. For Abe, that meant going back to the white belt pattern while still working at the black belt level. They have a fantastic instructor. None of them ever felt like they were starting over. They were just “catching up.”

After two years, Abe was ready to test for his black belt in the USTF. Since testing takes place in Concord, Massachusetts, and since we all wanted to be there, we decided to make a family trip of it and see some sights along the way. Our Norman Rockwell trip was actually on the way to Concord.

I know I’m taking forever to get to the actual testing part of the post, but I have to mention God’s providence. As time for the trip drew near, we got a little worried about expenses. Hotel rooms in Concord were $200 per night and most hotels make a family of eight get two rooms. We wanted to stay at least two nights. You can do the math. That was more than we felt comfortable spending. We were starting to toy with the idea of taking the three hour trip the morning of testing (Abe had to be there at 9:15) and coming straight home — hopefully we could squeeze in one little field trip on the way home if testing didn’t last too long. Thursday before our trip I had a homeschool support group meeting. I mentioned that we were going to the Boston area and didn’t have reservations yet. The leader of our group is moving to Boston and already has an apartment there but has not yet moved in. She gave me her keys and said we could have it for the weekend!

After all the wordiness of this post, let’s just go straight to some pictures!

Abe and Wes hanging around before testing. Wesley looks more nervous than Abe and he was only there to be Abe’s sparring partner. 🙂

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Jesse found a box of legos.

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John found a table full of snacks. (Replenishing snacks, too. Every time it got low, someone filled it back up — all day long!)

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During testing.

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Sparring brothers.

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Didn’t someone say testing was only three hours long?

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Not a great shot, but you can see where Abe’s foot went through two boards.

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Jesse and Sophia made some friends.

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He passed!

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It was a big group of new black belts. Testing took over 6 HOURS!!!

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Senior Master Reyes, Abe, and Abe’s instructor, Mr. Gibbons.

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Proud Mom and Dad.

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Celebration dinner. 🙂

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Field Trip Friday — It’s Back!

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Field trips have been sadly lacking from our homeschool this year. We participated in a once a week co-op and never could get our schedule quite right. Now that it has ended for the year, we have a little more free time for exploring the area.

Last weekend, Abraham had black belt testing in Concord, Massachusetts (a separate post will follow on that whole very long experience!). We decided to stop in Stockbridge on the way to Concord and visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. We knew all school year that the trip was coming so we incorporated Rockwell’s works into our studies. It was so exciting to see originals of prints we’ve looked at all year!

Our plan was to leave home between 8 and 9 in the morning. The museum opened at 10 and is about an hour from our house. I was slightly frustrated that we pulled out of the driveway at 10 and still had to stop for gas and batteries for the walkie talkies (we are still functioning in two vehicles). Kenny told me he’d get gas for his car while I ran into the grocery store for batteries. The plan was that he would meet me at the grocery store. When we pulled out of the driveway at home he went the opposite way that I did. I thought it was odd but knew he could go around the back way and thought he just felt like being different.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

We never said which gas station/ grocery store we’d visit. I went in to the store, shopped, came out, repacked the cooler, tried to get the iPod to work with a cassette converter. Still no Kenny. I moved the car to a more visible location. Waited. Still no Kenny. Finally I decided to drive over to the gas station. Of course he wasn’t there. At that point I remembered how he had gone the opposite way from me when we pulled out of our driveway. Yeah. I’m a little slow on the uptake. 🙂

Since I had both walkie talkies and no cell phone, I stopped at a convenience store to use a pay phone. Of course there are no pay phones. Thankfully the clerk let me use the store phone. By the time I got in touch with Kenny he was on his way back to the house. We met there and pulled out of the driveway for the 2nd time at 11 a.m.

We didn’t get very far before someone (SOPHIA) had to go to the bathroom — despite the fact that I made everyone go AGAIN before we left home for the second time. We stopped at a McDonald’s. Kenny and I needed coffee by this time so we all sat down and had coffee and milkshakes.

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It was past lunchtime before we actually arrived at the museum so we took advantage of the picnic tables on the lawn and ate lunch before we went in.

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FINALLY, we got to go in! We looked around for a while and then listened to a short talk about Rockwell’s life and works.

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We took some pictures of ourselves with some of our favorites.

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Abe was a little picture shy but this was one of his favorites:

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One whole room was covered with Saturday Evening Post covers. I was particularly excited to see this one. It’s the cover picture on a Norman Rockwell picture book/ song book I’ve had since I was a little girl.

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We had a friend in Montgomery whose father posed for Norman Rockwell. Sadly, she passed away several years ago. I wish I had listened closer to her description of the painting for which her father posed!

We spent about an hour and a half in the museum before the kids got tired and cranky. When Jesse got cranky he got *very* cranky and we forgot to walk through Rockwell’s studio which is located on the museum grounds. Oh well. Excuse to go back, right? 🙂

All in all, it was a fun trip!

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