Archive for March, 2010

Yet another fieldtrip for the homeschooling duo

Where to this week?


In all my years in Richmond, I never knew we had a zoo until this week.  Called upon to be the official photographer for Mia’s class fieldtrip to the Richmond Metro Zoo, Zach and I enjoyed taking pictures of the class – then dashed off on our own adventure.  The Zoo is beautifully laid out, with many animals to enjoy at surprisingly  close range.  Having just finished a study of the Lewis & Clark journey, we were particularly fascinated with the prairie dogs, elk, bison & buffalo; the peacocks and giraffes were also magnificent.


If you live in the area, check out this hidden treasure off Rt 360 near the Chesterfield/Amelia line.

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Places of Quiet Rest


The beautiful 1845 Belmead* mansion, site of St. Emma’s military academy for boys of African descent from 1895 – 1972.

*Formerly a plantation owned by Philip St. George Cocke, son of General John Hartwell Cocke of Bremo, Belmead was purchased by Colonel and Mrs. Edward de Vaux Morrell of Philadelphia to establish a school for African American youth. Emphasizing practical skills, Colonel Morrell’s approach to education was similar to that of Booker T. Washington. The St. Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural School opened in 1895 and admitted only boys of African decent from the South. The first graduate, John Paul Scott, received his diploma in 1899. In its seventy-seven years, the school re-established itself as the St. Emma Military School and graduated 10,000 men. Due to school desegregation, interest in school lessened and the academy closed in 1972. The campus was demolished except the Belmead mansion.


As you may have heard through the grapevine (Dan’s Facebook), I’m working on a book project about women, how we nourish our souls, how to stay whole and healthy during even the most intense years of life with young children.  Ironically, since I live in the midst of those years, finding time and space to work on the book can prove incredibly challenging.  BUT, I am convinced that to stay emotionally healthy, I can order my life in ways that allow a few minutes each day, and a few hours each week for soul care.  I usually head to a favorite local park, but of late have begun to explore other nourishing haunts.  A friend recommended the grounds of Belmead a few months back; yesterday was my first visit.  Oh, the wonder of such a place of quiet rest.


For four hours, I did not see or hear another human being.  It was quiet enough to hear moles burrowing, spiders scurrying and the gentle current of the James River.


Even the old manse itself spoke of contemplation, with multi colored glass windows overlooking the lawn, the rooms within places of prayer and contemplation for over 150 years.

My book project may take years to complete, but the joy of lying quietly in a meadow, waiting for the Muse, or waiting for nothing at all – only being still in the presence of God and His natural chorus of trees, deer, river – is reward enough.

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Best Oreo Challenge Ever!

This is just a great clip from last weekend’s Oreo Challenge – best seen versus explained… This is one of the many things we picked up in China. ah, memories!

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Treasure Island

Zach's chain on islands - But where's the buried treasure?

Zach's chain of islands - But where's the buried treasure?

In literature, Zach and I just finished Robert Lewis Stevenson’s magnificent Treasure Island.  If you’ve only seen the old Disney version, make sure to pick up the book sometime. The original story is richer and more complex, and is great fun to read aloud (Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum!).  We celebrated finishing the novel in several ways: eating at Long John Silver’s (which was wildly disappointing, having not great food and NOTHING to do with the book), learning to make hardtack, watching the DVD and creating our own set of islands with buried treasure (quarters, pennies and decoys) in the salt map style. Zach even drew a corresponding treasure map.

We’ve moved onto Seaman, a story which follows Meriweather Clark’s newfoundland dog along the Corps of Discovery’s historic adventure.  Ken Burns’ DVD series about Lewis & Clark is on reserve at the library and we look forward to boiling some roots and berries for our celebration lunch.

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