Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Swan Island Field Trip

Last week we went on a field trip to Swan Island located off the shoreline in Richmond on the Kennebec River. We were actually suppose to take this trip in May but were unable to secure a boat to take our homeschooling group across. Then we were rained out - twice. We ended up going on an absolutely gorgeous fall afternoon. We were the only people on the island.

We attended a class on Maine State Symbols taught by a biologist with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. These are the same educators that do classes at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. This was a fantastic class and one we hadn't done before.

Our educator started out by giving a history of the island first. Swan Island was originally named Swango by the Abenaki due to the large amount of eagles that nested on the island. Swango is the Abenaki word for eagle. Thousands of eagles have nested on Swan Island over the last 500 years. There is still a nesting pair there today.

A ship captain built the first home on the southern tip of the island. The Abenaki were not happy about this at all and eventually attacked the homestead. They killed the animals, burned the buildings, and kidnapped some of the people living there (the captain's grown daughter, her husband, and their children). They brought them to Quebec where they were sold into slavery.

Then we went through all the state symbols. It was pretty interesting. Some I knew, but many I did not. Our educator had a visual for each. The class was briefly interrupted by a Great Blue Heron strolling across the lawn outside.

Learning about the state flag and motto
Official state "flower" - white pine cone
State bird - Chickadee 
State fish - landlocked salmon  
State insect - honeybee

After the class was done (it was about 90 minutes), we had free run of the island for the next few hours. We ate our lunch and then began to explore. There were some great hiking paths. There were once 27 houses and 100 people who lived on the island. Some of the houses still stand (five to be exact) and IF&W is working to restore them and maintain the ones still there. 

When the Great Depression hit, many people left the island to find work. Their houses fell into disrepair and fell down. Many, however, burned their houses when they left as they didn't want anyone else to use them. 

One of the buildings on the island

My sister joined us on this trip. Our three boys.
It wasn't cold enough to warrant my nephew's hat, but he wore it all the same. 

The path we opted to take took us along the river. It went through the woods and was pretty peaceful. Of the roughly 50 homeschoolers on this trip, we were only a very few who went this route. Our end point was the island's cemetery. 

Once we arrived here, we still had time for a longer walk so we headed down a dirt road. There was a wildlife viewing station at the end. Many opted to go there instead of the route we took, but it was over a mile away so we didn't have time to do that walk with two toddlers in tow. Although, Mr. T spent most of our walk like this:

This was a huge meadow that is maintained as a meadow. Otherwise it would quickly become overgrown with trees. The photo doesn't do it justice. It was wonderful. I'm sure with all the leaves that have now turned color, it's even more beautiful.

You can only access Swan Island by boat. There are no bridges connecting it to the mainland. You can kayak or canoe to it on your own or get there via boats through IF&W. You can also camp on the island. I didn't take any photos but they have shelters on the island with a sleeping platform, fire pit, and picnic table as well as plenty of space for tents. 

This truck took us from the boat launch to the education area. 
All of us were packed into the back as they only wanted to make one trip. This was the highlight of the day for most of the kids. 

My middle son photobombing.

This was a really fun day. We all learned something - I was furiously taking notes on the history of the island on my phone. We had never visited Swan Island before. I have to say it was one of my favorites so far this year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. It's fall. Y'all. My favorite season of the year! What's something you love to do this time of year that makes you feel it's officially fall? And unrelated to that, do you ever say-'y'all'? I make a lot of pumpkin bread this time of year. That usually goes through the Christmas season though so not just fall. I also love to go for walks this time of year. The weather is cool. No bugs. Beautiful scenery. So nice. 

And I am a full blooded Yankee. Occasionally a y'all comes out, but rarely and I'm sure anyone from the south would look at me very strangely if they heard me!

2. When did you last have a falling out with someone? Has it been resolved? I honestly can't remember. 

3. A song you love with the word 'fall' in it's title? Heaven Fall Down by Phil Wickham

4. What's something you've recently let 'fall by the wayside?' Protecting my time. I'm horribly over scheduled this fall so I'm working on that at the moment. 

5. When did you last attend an event, read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, or visit a shop-town-tourist attraction that fell short of your expectations? In what way? That is an interesting question. I try very hard to not have high expectations for most things. I find that helps me be pleasantly surprised more often than not. 

6. Describe a time you said or thought, 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Pretty much every time I look at my boys. In fact, just today while on a field trip, my sister and I were talking and she commented that my middle son is a lot like me as he heads through puberty. Sadly, she was very correct. Quick to be offended and upset. Thankfully he's also very quick to forgive and forget. I love that about boys.

7. Was today better than yesterday? Why or why not? Yes. I had more sleep last night. I've started getting up early in the morning twice a week (working on three times a week) so that I can go to the 5:30 classes at the local gym. Due to some evening commitments I can't make my usual Zumba workouts at night. However, I'm still finding it hard to shut things down at night and head to bed at a reasonable hour. Yesterday I was up at 4:45 to go to the gym and had a very busy day of shuttling kids from one activity to another. I also had our small group Bible study last night which meant I didn't get home until almost 9pm. Add to that some things I needed to get down before bed and I wasn't ready for sleep until almost 11. I had hoped to get up this morning to go to the gym, but opted instead to reset my alarm for 7am. Those extra two hours helped immensely. 

8. Insert your own random thought here. In the last few weeks I've realized my schedule is just crazy busy this fall. I participate in online Bible studies hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Our new one kicked off on Monday and it talks about giving our "best yes" - making sure we give God our best time each and every day. I like these studies because you can do that at home at your own pace. I'm praying that I get a lot out of this study and find a way to free up some more time in my life!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Upta Camp

Circa 2009

My hubby's family owns a camp way up in the boonies of Maine. I'm not exaggerating on that point at all. It is roughly a four hour trip for us now way down here in Central Maine to get all the way up to near the top of Moosehead Lake (the largest lake in Maine by-the-way). One drives about 30 minutes on dirt logging roads to get to the "parking area." It's then a half mile walk in to the camp - pictured above. 

Until recent years, one had to not only walk in but haul in all necessary gear, food, and water. This is definitely primiative camp. The photo I took above was from the last time I went to camp with my family so it's obviously been a few years since I've been. We now have a 4-wheeler and trailer so we can load all our gear in to that and haul it down the trail. The walk isn't all that bad, it was hauling the extra 20-30 pounds of gear that was highly annoying.

The camp has also had a face lift of sorts. The porch on the front is now all screened in. I just simply didn't think to take a photo of it while we were there last weekend. Some of the appliances have been updated (all run on gas), the building has been insulated, and the sleeping loft redone slightly. I guess a lot can change if one only visits every five years. 

Since this visit was shorter than we've done in the past due to outside obligations (namely karate class), we spent half a day on Saturday at a gravel pit not far from camp to do some shooting. Everyone had a turn. 

We have a single shot .22 rifle for our kids to start learning on. Hubby holds the ammo (and you can see how close he stands) until they are a bit older. 


Each boy is holding a .22 and plinking away at skeet targets laid out on the hillside. Hubby & I even had a turn. It was fun!

Getting instruction on the .308 rifle

Our middle son took Hunter Safety last fall and he is eager to go deer hunting this fall. This was his chance to practice shooting a larger gun. He loved it and can't wait now for hunting season to start!

Practicing from a sitting position (safer and more stable)

Then we pulled out the skeet thrower and the 12 gauge shotgun. Our middle kiddo loved shooting it and did an amazing job at hitting those skeet! In fact, he shot so much he was pretty sore in his shoulder area. That gun has a kick!

I even tried it and quit after just a few shots. Ouch! Our middle kiddo though had the hang of it and was having too much fun to stop.

Proof our oldest took a turn shooting (.22 rifle)

We finished the day shooting handguns. I needed the practice. I ended the day shooting this watermelon. So fun!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

{Review} When Calls the Heart - The Dance DVD

I'm a big fan of Janette Oke's books. I've read the entire Love Comes Softly series but hadn't really delved into many of her others. I have that "so many books so little time" problem. When I was presented the chance to view this DVD based on her work, I was eager to see it.

When Calls the Heart is a series on the Hallmark Channel. Word Entertainment took the first two episodes and created this feature length film. I hadn't heard of the television or seen it so this was all new to me. I really enjoyed it. My youngest son even watched it with me and seemed to like it as well.

The series is set in the time period when the US was settling the west. New miners have arrived in Coal Valley where Elizabeth Thatcher is the school teacher. One of the new miners, Billy Hamilton, seems to have taken an interest in Elizabeth. She appear to be very flattered by the interest. However, the Mounty that lives in town, Jack Thornton seems to think something isn't quite right about Billy and begins to look into his background. Elizabeth just feels he is jealous.

I did feel on occasion that I was missing something in the story line so I'll be interested to see how this lines up with the television show as well as the books. I know that the Love Comes Softly movie series veered far afield at times from the original books. Although, that series was very enjoyable so I think this one will be as well.

This was a wonderful, family-friendly film. I'm now very interested in reading the books as well as watching the television series. Michael Landon, Jr. is the director. He does such a wonderful job on any project I've watched of his and this is no different. You can view a trailer of the first movie below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. I'm celebrating a birthday this week so a question relating to aging feels appropriate. Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, "You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair." Would you agree? If not why not? I would agree with this statement. I think the essence is that if you have faith, self-confidence, and hope the big picture doesn't really matter. It's when we get bogged down in the things that strip us of those things (doubt, fear, and despair) that we forget how much we have to be thankful for. I find that as I grow older this becomes even more true for me. (Great quote, by-the-way!)

2. What remarkable feat, interesting piece of trivia, or historical event occurred on your birth day and month? Not necessarily in your birth year, just the same date/same month. After a quick internet search I discovered that the first official US flag was raised aboard the USS Alfred naval vessel (December 3, 1775). 

3. Describe a time or circumstance where you wanted to 'have your cake and eat it too.' In a few weeks actually, I'd love for this to happen. I have two different events planned. However, I can't attend both as much as I would love to. In fact, that seems to happen quite often. A similar thing happened this past weekend. I had three things I wanted to do but I needed to pick just one.

4. What's something you do that makes you feel young? Something that makes you feel old? I take care of little ones, well, one little one. There is nothing like chasing after a two-year-old to make you feel young. 
"Mr. T."

As for feeling old? How tired I feel (and it's not all the fault of this little one) and how I don't bounce back as quickly as I used to. I certainly feel all the aches and pains I have!

5. When did you last do something that was 'a piece of cake'? Honestly, I can't think of anything at the moment. I'm sure there was something but for the life of me I can't remember. Oh wait....wasn't there a question about what makes me feel old? This. The memory is going fast I tell ya!

6. Beef, wine, and cheese all improve with age. What's something else you'd add to that list? (not necessarily food or beverage) Relationships - if done right. The more you get to know a person and the longer you know a person, the better the relationship. In particular I'm thinking of my marriage. We celebrated 21 years this past July and it's far better than it ever was when we were barely in to our 20s and married.

7. If I were to have a giveaway when we hit Volume 200, what should I give away? By my calculations we'll hit Volume 200 on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which means whoever wins would have whatever it is in time for Christmas. Oh gosh. I'm not going to be any help at all with this one.

8. Insert your own random thought here. I'm absolutely loving this song lately. Have a listen. 

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn't choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact, I'd understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that's just not my story
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don't need my name in lights
I'm famous in my Father's eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I'm not living for applause
I'm already so adored
It's all a stage
He knows my name