Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

On Saturday, October 20, the kids and I enjoyed a LOVELY day in Washington, Arkansas. It is located two hours from us. Because we wanted to get there early for a special walking tour, we drove to Hope, Arkansas (birthplace of Bill Clinton) the night before. Hope is 8 miles from Washington.

There are no hotels or fast food restaurants in Washington. Nothing to take away from the wonderful peacefulness. I'm sure there are more crowds on days with big events (like Civil War Days this weekend, Nov. 3-4), but there were only a few other people milling around here and there. We were the only ones on our tour. It was so nice.

We started out at the Hempstead County Courthouse, which serves as the Visitor's Center. I believe it is open every day 8-5 (other than a few major holidays). You need to come here to purchase tickets if you want to go inside the historic buildings (which act as living history museums) in town.

We bought a family pass for $30, which will allow us to come back for a year PLUS visit many other state parks in Arkansas for a year.

A very sweet lady took us on our walking tour. I believe she said she is the town historian. This was the herb garden used for medicinal purposes, behind the Purdom House. (Dr. Purdom practiced in Washington in the mid 1800's.)

The kids got to practice pumping water, which took a lot of muscles.

They also got to try visit this outhouse. But only for pretend. There were different sized holes for adults and small children. I don't think we'd ever seen a multi-stool outhouse before.

We were watching the chickens that were roaming freely around this house. We enjoyed seeing the heirloom variety that looks like it is wearing fancy pants.

All day I felt like I was in Walnut Grove. Like on the set of the television show. And I wanted to never leave.

They learned about candle making and got to dip their own candles.

There were such amazing trees. I think that might have been the kids' favorite part. The branches fall out and down to create the perfect (huge) hideout. One day I may take them back to Washington and just let them play under the trees all day long.

I think this one is the largest magnolia tree in Arkansas. I'm pretty sure the kids wanted to move in and live under the branches.

I think this was the moon tree. It is one of the two remaining trees in Arkansas (The other one is in Fort Smith.) that were grown from seeds sent to space in 1971.

checking out the pioneer home

We spent a good amount of time with the blacksmith. He was a really nice man. The kids (and baby) were captivated watching the fire and listening to the clink-clink. This shop is a recreation of James Black's shop from the 1800's. Black, Washington's most famous blacksmith/bladesmith, created the original Bowie knife for Jim Bowie.

They got to hold these very serious knives. 

You (who are 16 and older) can actually take classes to learn the art of knife making, which I think sounds cool, in Washington. There are all kinds of classes and educational programs available all year for homeschoolers, school kids, and adults.

The kids will tell you one of their favorite parts of the day was feeding treats to this horse. It wasn't actually part of the tour. It was a rescue horse that belonged to our tour guide. She had thought the kids would enjoy seeing it.

After our walking tour, we ate our picnic lunch at a table under the pecan grove. One noteworthy moment: as the kids and I were eating, they started playing around, using their imaginations, and I heard myself say, "Come on guys - eat! We've got to go." 

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I thought, "Weird. Why did I say that? Is that what my life has become?" Because generally, we ARE in a hurry, and we do need TO GO. But we weren't in a hurry at all this day. We were enjoying being in the moment. I immediately said, "I'm sorry; I don't know why I said that. We aren't in a hurry. Have fun!"

I told the kids to choose two additional buildings to tour. There are many more homes and buildings we will have to visit on another trip. They picked the printing shop, which was the original post office and bank. 

The man explained a little bit about the original newspapers and how Washington's was the only paper continually published throughout the Civil War. The kids got to take turns rolling ink on the stamper, then cranking it through the printer.

Their next choice was the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum, which is across the street from the print museum. The man asked the kids to locate the very smallest and very largest guns.

I let the kids use their Car Bucks to buy gifts from the visitor center gift shop. Sissy chose this pioneer bonnet. Dash got a wooden rubber band gun, and Tornado opted for a wooden sling shot with clay marbles.

Here is a brochure of Washington that contains a lot of helpful visitor information.

I mean, seriously, if Ryan could live here for work or if we could profitably open a business here...I would pack my bags in a second. I know this is a paradox to those who know I would also pack up and move to NYC in a second. It's just pretty and clean and idyllic in the way small towns just aren't these days. (And there are picket fences and wood-plank sidewalks here!) And maybe it just gave me a feeling about life that I know Ryan and I have been missing lately. We were able to just walk around, and I felt like I could breathe and relax. We want to figure out how to achieve this feeling in our real lives.

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Week Wrap-Up/Giveaway Reminder

In Our Lives
Sis and I had a night out to ourselves. We went shopping! It was so much fun because we rarely ever go shopping, especially not just the two of us. We bought a few lovely things at Anthropologie, Justice, and The Children's Place. We also stopped by Whole Foods because she wasn't ready for the night to end.

By the time we arrived back home...

Three weekends ago, we had a nice time attending the birthday party of one of Dash's buddies.

What We're Playing
They've been playing a lot with this empty canvas tote that Dash's feet are on and a upside-down plastic tub they are sitting on. They take it to wherever they are playing, and it becomes their desk or office or whatever. And in this case, it was their lunch spot.

They've been big on eating outside or any place that is not the table or counter. This is where they decided to eat their breakfast the other day.

And I don't know what to say about these other than my kids are very fun and very silly.

In Our Extracurricular 
Around the World Night at AWANA

I didn't get a photo of my senor guapo before his costume came off.

What's New With the Baby
Baby has been going through a yelling phase this week. Not upset yelling. Just talking-yelling, like he's trying out his voice. He'll deliver a whole string of something that he wants to tell us. Then he smiles.

His biggest news is that on Sunday, we noticed his first toothie starting to poke through!

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing
The weekend before last was spent in Illinois with Ryan's family. This is a lot (but not all) of his mother's side of the family.

A fall party was held at Ryan's grandparents' house. My 7 year old son is down there on the dock with some of the boys. The kids enjoyed pairing up with their second cousins of similar ages.

painting pumpkins and games

And remember this little guy?

Look what he has become.


The kids and I spent a really nice day in historic Washington, Arkansas. I will do a separate post about it another time. We gifted Daddy (who works so hard and has been traveling for his job a lot lately) with a weekend of quiet solitude.

From there, we went on to Dallas for a couple of days. One of our activities was attending the Texas State Veggie Fair, where the kids got to play and eat vegan versions of fair food like ice cream, pizza, and these fried cinnamon rolls.

In Our Homeschool
I haven't had a chance to take many pictures of our schoolwork this week. Some of the things we've been learning about: contractions, verbs, Jamestown, spiders, and money.

 Sis and I worked on numbers and matching during her break at one of our homeschool co-ops.

One of the boys' lessons lately in their Dangerous Book for Boys class was on sound and soundwaves, etc. One of the dads has recording equipment he brought in, and the boys were ALL IN IT. They soaked 
it up.

Today we joined some of our homeschool co-op friends for a very chilly field trip at the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve on the edge of the University of Central Arkansas campus.

I've driven by here hundreds of times, and I have never paid much attention to it. It includes 15 acres of prairie and woodlands, all that remains from the original 2,500 acres of prairie that existed in Conway. It was a nice little place! I can see me taking the kids back here anytime for a little walking and exploration. 

Our tour guide, a graduate student who is one of the keepers of the reserve, was very knowledgeable and charming. They are continually working on preserving and restoring the land (which had never been converted to farmland or anything) to the original ecosystem. We enjoyed it.

What We're Listening To 
After The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, they have finished Prince Caspian and are in the middle of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

A Link to Share

Please visit my giveaway post: 

And you can enter to win Little House 
on the Prairie books here!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

I've said it before: I have a really bad habit of starting posts, then never finishing them. (Exchange "starting posts" with many phrases in life, and this will describe a lot about me.) I mostly blog in 5 minute increments here and there. It's ridiculous the amount of drafts I have saved in blogger. I'm going do a little housecleaning in my blogger account. Better late than never, yes?

This was a field trip we took last...late winter, early 2011? It was the first time I had taken the kids into the Pinnacle Mountain State Park Visitor's Center. It is not very large, but there is enough to look at and explore. And the people working inside that day were so, so nice and helpful. Pinnacle Mountain is one of the best places to go in central Arkansas to enjoy the beauty of our state.

Perhaps you saw the 19 Kids and Counting episode when they visited? I feel like I say that a lot about places we go. We're obviously going to visit a lot of the same places since we and the Duggars are both homeschoolers in Arkansas. And because we adore them. We didn't sample dried bugs, though, like some of them did on their visit.

It was chilly but really nice hiking weather. 

I don't usually take the kids hiking without Ryan because...I'm scared of the boogeyman, I guess. So this was a rare, fun outing for just the four of us.

Usually when we visit Pinnacle Mountain, we park on the other side of the mountain where the playground and other trails are located. This was a new trail for us to explore.

Guess what animal he is imitating?

If you guessed sloth above, then you are correct! This outing took place when I was still a mother to only three. We had reached the end of the trail with the Arkansas River overlook.

So...we had gotten a bit of a late start. We were hoping we'd make the mile loop before it got dark. I was a little panicked because it was getting pretty dark on the trail, and I only had my flashlight app on my phone to guide us.

However, we reached the car just as it got completely black out. Celebrations ensued!

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

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Check out my giveaway for girls' 
handmade dresses (3T-5T) made in Africa!