Adventures in the snow.

We’ll be riding the lifts next week, but not in shorts. This is actually at Sundance- we’re hoping to ski Deer Valley.

And I’m not really talking about the fun kind here.  You see, we live in Georgia, in the south, and nobody knows what to do when a little snow falls.  Now, in all fairness, when snow does fall here it promptly turns into ice because it’s usually not really cold enough to keep the stuff fluffy, and everybody knows that temperatures only hovering around freezing are the perfect recipe for black ice.  And probably everybody’s heard about the mess that was Atlanta a couple of weeks ago when we had those two measly inches.  Best plan of action when it snows in Georgia?  Just don’t go anywhere if you can help it.

Today, we’re getting snow again.  Yuck.  Worst of all, it’s supposed to continue into tomorrow, mixing in with a little rain and sleet, creating perfectly nasty road conditions.  All my grand plans for museum visits this week- out the window!  So you know what? Forget it, Georgia, we’re taking a break from you.  We’ll just go someplace where the snow is actually useful… say, Park City, Utah?  Seeing as the Pilot and I just realized TODAY that next week is the kid’s Winter Break at the homeschool hybrid they attend for math and science (we are really, really on top of things, apparently).  

We spent several months out there this summer while we contemplated our next move after our house sold.  We considered moving out there, but it just wasn’t right for us for a variety of reasons.  But, who says we can’t go out and ski when we get the chance?  So next week, we’re just going to do it.  We’ve found a hotel through Groupon, we’ll buy lift tickets the same day in order to utilize the Pilot’s military discount, and hop on a flight Monday afternoon (hopefully- you never really know when you fly standby).  Skiing on the (sort of) cheap!

Okay, I’m feeling better about the next two days of being snowed in again.  Sometimes you just need a little something to look forward to.

I took this photo last summer at Sundance Canyon.  This is one of the most beautiful places I've been to.
I took this photo last summer at Sundance Canyon. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.

Adventure in the tree tops.

We recently went on a very new sort of adventure for our family.  We are regulars at an indoor climbing gym, where my kids climb (safely!) like little mountain goats, and  we also love our state parks.  We have favorites here in Georgia, one of those being Amicalola State Park, where we go as much as we possibly can- the amazing waterfall keeps me coming back, and then there is the view! Incredible!  But we decided to try something new:  Panola Mountain State Park, just southeast of Atlanta.  It is a beautiful place, and is another granite “monadnock” (new word for me!) much like Stone Mountain, only it’s still wild and untouched.  In fact, you can only hike on it during guided tours with a park ranger, because they are protecting some rare species that have managed to hang on, even living so close to Atlanta with its serious case of sprawl.  From the park’s website:   “This unique park just outside Atlanta protects a 100-acre granite monadnock (mountain) similar to Stone Mountain and Arabia Mountain. Minimally developed, the mountain shelters rare plants of the Piedmont region.”  It is worth the relatively short drive if you are in the area.

This time, we didn’t just hike, as we usually do when we visit a state park.  We climbed trees.  With ropes.  And went very, very high, and had a ball doing it.  The tree that we climbed is named Naomi Ruth, and she (I suppose) is a Southern Red Oak that is about 100 feet high.  Now, this tree climbing business is hard work:  you are pulling your entire body straight up using a foot hold rope and a knot that you slide up as you go higher.  I am going to be very, very sore, mostly on one side of my body.  But I’d say it was worth it.  It’s an odd perspective that you get from sitting so high up in a tree.  At one point I managed to get high enough and get my body swinging so that I could hoist myself onto a branch.  Now, you’d think that you might feel more secure, sitting on a branch instead of just dangling from ropes.  But this is not the case- I actually felt much less at ease on the branch, which is of course entirely psychological.  The ropes and harnesses still have you, it’s just that, well, perhaps I was remembering my childhood days of tree climbing when sitting on a branch meant you better hang on because you could fall off.  And then, that moment when you must push yourself back off of the branch and once again trust the ropes entirely- let’s just say it took me about ten minutes to work up the courage for that.  I got brave, though, and hauled myself even higher and stood on the same branch and then stepped off… and swung at about 50 feet off the ground…

It had been a long time since I climbed a tree.  And I think I’d do it again.

One lovely blog award.

Aw, shucks, thanks!! And it certainly goes on my list of things that I’m taking joy in- thank you so much, Sugarlump,, for nominating me!  I can’t help but think we’d be good friends if we lived near each other, especially with our shared love for the South and disdain for raw oysters.

Okay, so here’s what I’m supposed to do:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Post the blog award image on your page.
  3. Tell 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs and let the nominees know they been chosen (I could only make it to 10. I have a MAJOR deadline this week with my editing/grading I do for the university I work for, and, well, I’m just running behind…)

And here’s the image…

So, let’s see, 7 facts about myself?  Yikes.  But here goes:

1.  I was born in Texas, but I’ve lived in 7 other states and two countries since I left Texas after college.  I go back often- it is and always will be home.

2.  I don’t like watermelon.  Or any melon for that matter.

3.  I speak French and Russian.  I learned to speak French in Montreal and Russian in Vermont at a Russian immersion program at Norwich University, where I got to meet Vladimir Lenin’s second cousin, who was something like 98 at the time.  I’m not making that up.

4.  I adore dogs, especially wiener dogs.  I have one named Annie Rose- that’s her in the photo.  We “rescued” her two years ago, but I think the rescuing actually goes both ways…

5.  I have a cat named Dora, named by my then-two year old daughter after Dora the Explorer.  Now that same daughter is 11, and is rather mortified by her naming choice.  I probably should have thought that one through a little better.

6.  I have to have some sort of creative outlet at all times, or I get a little crazy.

7.  I am NOT good at math (and I don’t particularly like it).  Thank goodness the Pilot and I share the homeschool teaching duties!

And now the list of other blogs I like:











There.  Now that was great fun!  I wish I weren’t pressed for time so I could search for more, but I wanted to get this out in a timely manner.  And again, thanks.  Truly.  It made my week.

My obsession with story.

It’s not exactly an original concept.  I’ve heard my amazing mother talk about it for years.  She based much on her research for her PhD on the idea of story, specifically as related to teachers.  Again, not real original here.  But in the last six months, the idea has become incredibly important to me.  So important that I have, at least in part, based my kid’s education on it.  You see, we follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschooling.  And really, it’s a central idea to her philosophy.  “Living Books?”  Aren’t they, in many ways, about teaching through story?

You see, you can break things up into little, disconnected pieces, facts, bits, for people to learn.  And they can memorize them and spit them back at you, and then depending on what type of brain they have, they will either retain those pieces and be very good at Trivial Pursuit, or they will promptly forget them.  Either way, not doing anyone much good.   Or you can give them the same pieces, only this time they are connected to the whole.  You can give them those ideas, and you can make it interesting and fun while doing it.  And that’s been my goal while teaching my son and soon my daughter.  I like to think I’ve been modestly successful.  I suppose time will tell.

But I’m not only un-original because my mother and because Charlotte Mason thought of how useful teaching with story could be.  No, this whole idea, when you think about it, pretty much dates back to those times when humans weren’t even writing stuff down.  Think about that:  how long, really, have we been teaching through story? And how many have done it, and by how many different names?  Aesop’s Fables- weren’t those meant to teach us stuff?  Go back further:  oral traditions that were the only way of passing on EVERYTHING cultures had to know- how to act, where to live, what plants would kill you if you ate them-  some pretty important information.  And then here’s a biggie:  the Bible.  It’s a lot of things, but it’s also an amazing story that can teach us so much if we choose to listen and absorb what we hear.  I’d say that Jesus was really quite good at teaching through story, wouldn’t you?  So no, not my very own super-cool original idea at all.  But I’m so glad I glommed onto the concept, because you know, it really is a great way to teach people, in particular my own children, what they need to know.  And they might just have a good time while they’re doing it.

It’s funny how when you become interested in something you start seeing it everywhere.  I just read an incredible book called “The Healing” by Jonathan O’Dell.  It was so good, so beautifully written, that I wanted to e-mail the author at his website when I finished it to thank him.  Maybe I still will.  But the part that really struck me was his Note to the Reader, at the very back of the book.  He states, “If you want to destroy a people, destroy their story.  If you want to empower a people, give them a story to share.”  I think that perhaps there is a power behind story that I’m only just beginning to grasp.  And I find that pretty exciting.

It Simply Isn’t Done That Way.

Fast forward through that whole dating part of our lives to when we married and subsequently became parents to two wonderful kiddoes…  You may have already gotten the impression that the Pilot and I do things a little differently.  Or if not, you will.

One of our children was born in Mississippi- there are lots of hurricanes to hunt down in the Gulf of Mexico, and hurricane hunting was what the Pilot was doing at the time.  The other was born in Northern California, the gorgeous part past Sacramento and into the foothills, near Lake Tahoe.  Two very different locations and two very different though equally wonderful children.  But when we became parents, people said to us, “Well, that will end your traveling ways.  You can’t travel with children.”  You know, the whole, “It simply isn’t done” sort of attitude.  I hate that.  I also don’t listen to that.  My immediate reaction is, “Oh yeah?”  And so we haven’t done it THE WAY IT IS DONE.  We have continued to travel with our kids, and had just as much fun if not more.  We took them to Norway when our son was 18 months old- a blast.  The Caribbean a few years ago.  France repeatedly.  And it’s all been fun.  Mixed in, naturally, with the not so fun stuff that you always have, even sitting at home, when you are with kids. But mostly pretty incredible.

And speaking of THE WAY IT IS DONE, we’re about to really mix things up here.  Blow that one right out of the water.  You see, I’ve already mentioned the homeschooling thing- we pulled our son out of public schools because we needed to, and now that we know we can do this, we’re going to take on our daughter as well.  I mean really, there are loads of other folks out there doing this very thing and doing a fantastic job of it- why should we be any different?  We are, I like to think, reasonably intelligent people after all.  But, just to keep it interesting, we’ve decided to spend part of this next year in France.  Yes, indeed.  France.  It was supposed to be Italy as well, but the military keeps changing it on us so who the heck needs them to decide anyway?  We’re just going, where we want to be for this fall, and hopefully our kids will come back from this crazy adventure speaking French with some slight degree of fluency.  That’s the hope, anyway.  And while we’re there, we’re going to read lots of books about places and then… we will go SEE those places.  Places with layer upon layer of history and amazing stuff that has happened…  layer upon layer of yes, story.  

Because that is my obsession these days.  The story of it all.  And man, won’t this make an interesting chapter in ours?

I told you we were about to get to the good part.