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Family Photo Album – Dynamic Duos

A few updated family pictures celebrating the joy of beingTOGETHER!Ok, one trio of considerably cute cousins

Ok, one trio of considerably cute cousins

Daddy & Hannah at Bon Air 5K

Daddy & Hannah at Bon Air 5K
Noah ready for Greek Festival; Mia as Pocahontas

Noah ready for Greek Festival; Mia as Pocahontas

Mom & Sara chatting after church

Mom & Sara chatting after church

Daniel and Lauren - The Big Day is almost here!

Daniel and Lauren - The Big Day is almost here!

Zach & Cairo - faithful homeschool buddies

Zach & Cairo - faithful homeschool buddies

Dad & Amy at Rockwood

Dad & Amy at Rockwood

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“The Swatted Fly”

“The Swatted Fly”

An iambic tetrameter poem by Zach Kennedy

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A fly flies into a small house

It loudly buzzed past the man’s spouse

The spouse screamed and grabbed the swatter

She swatted at it — now harder.

And finally, the fly gave in

So there it was, extremely thin.

So thin it could have been paper

Its body gone like clear vapor.

Now that it’s hard as some metal

All flies cry on flower petals.

For their favorite fly is dead

Now the fly moves like it is lead.

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So Much to Do, So Little Time

Zach at State Capitol - Civil Rights

A few photos from the last few weeks of homeschooling … a trip the Virginia State Capitol with a particular emphasis on the grounds and statues, a visit to the newly re-opened and magnificent Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the discovery of a very special creek in a local park.

Kids at Forest Hill Park Stream Bed

We’ve also finished all the required reading on our book list, so thought we’d try to read aloud the entire Chronicles of Narnia in the next four weeks.  Not sure if we’ll find time for algebra and Latin declensions between the talking animals and meaning-laden battle sequences.

For those of you in Richmond, the re-opened art museum is simply stunning (and FREE!).  The exhibit shown below is a must see.  The “wrinkles” in the bill were actually made by ants tunneling through the colored sand.  Really an astonishing piece of art.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - don't miss this incredible exhibit.  The 'wrinkles' you see were actually made by ants.  Each picture is actually colored SAND,  Amazing art.

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Book Recommendation: Outcasts United

Book Cover

If you liked Three Cups of Tea, you will love this new book.  A friend in Colorado sent it to me after reading about the remarkable soccer game my ESL class (made up of refugees and immigrants) played a few weeks ago.  Thanks, Erika for the introduction to this great story!

Summary from the Outcasts United Website:

Outcasts United is the story of a refugee soccer team, a remarkable woman coach and a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement.

In the 1990s, that town, Clarkston, Georgia, became a resettlement center for refugees from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help keep Clarkston’s boys off the streets. These boys named themselves the Fugees — short for refugees.

Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees, their families and their charismatic coach as they struggle to build new lives in a fading town overwhelmed by change. Theirs is a story about resilience, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a place where people seem to have little in common.

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Yet another fieldtrip for the homeschooling duo

Where to this week?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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The Belle Island Adventure by Zach & Mom

The rising James River made a great spot for homeschooling yesterday.  We crossed from historic Trafalgar Street in Richmond on a fascinating foot bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge.

Belle Isle Footbridge

Belle Isle Footbridge

The walk across the flooded, muddy river was windy and cold – we felt we might blow off!  Reaching the other side, we explored Belle Isle, home to one of the most notorious POW camps for Union Soldiers during the Civil War.  The camp was not enclosed, as prisoners could not get off the island without boats.  The open air, lack of food and sanitation, caused most of the prisoners to die on the island.

Remains of an iron works are scattered around the 54 acre island.

Iron Works

Iron Works

A map of the island helped us understand not only the historical importance of Belle Isle, but also appreciate the unusual proximity of this park to the city of Richmond.

Richmond from Belle Isle

Richmond from Belle Isle

Belle Isle Map

Belle Isle Map

The island is frequently used by runner and bikers, enjoying the natural trails through the woods.  Zach also found a great perch!

Wooded Trail (January)

Wooded Trail (January)

Zach's favorite tree - completely horizontal, but alive and healthy

Zach's favorite tree - completely horizontal, but alive and healthy

The James River is expected to pass flood stage today.  The muddy waters were very impressive and cold.

Steps to nowhere

Steps to nowhere

Roaring white water around the island

Roaring white water around the island

We have to admit, its hard to stick to math and Latin when Richmond is full of such wonderful history and adventure!

Zach with artistically decorated Belle Isle sign

Zach with artistically decorated Belle Isle sign

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Sneak Peek: Meeting of the Waters

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Sneak peek of the ‘Good to Great’ of global missions book – here

– Dan

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