Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Literature-Based Life

Earlier this week, I was pondering about a post of our upcoming Christmas Literature Evening, and I realized:


I guess I always kind of knew that, but it just really struck me this morning.

Our homeschooling is literature-based: historically, scientifically, language arts, religion and sometimes math. This means we hardly ever use a textbook. We learn through our literature, or from primary sources.

All of our animals always have literature-based names: Stridor, Sebastion & Viola, Ivanhoe, Holly & Ivy, Rum Tum Tugger, Jennyanydot, Mr. Mistofoles & Skimbleshanks, Huckleberry & Tom Sawyer, Darcy & Bingley, Mr. Wickam, Donegal...there are probably more :)

Can you figure out where all of the names come from? Some are pretty easy.

The kids drama fun is almost always based on literature. For the moment, they are focusing on "Little Women." We all love live theater, and are very partial to those based on literature: Anne of Green Gables, Secret Garden, Jane Eyre

Which brings us to our music, again often coming from literature: from the musicals of Les Miserables, Jane Eyre & Little Women, to the music of movies based on literature: Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Pride & Prejudice.

Which brings us to our movies..............almost all of the movies we view, were fine literature first.......and sometimes, about literature themselves such as 84 Charing Cross Road starring Anthony Hopkins. Another phenomenon in this house: we often watch a movie, and run to the library to get the book.

Birthday parties have quite frequently been literature-based, as well as many of our tea parties. Anne made a birthday cake once, shaped like an open book, with gummy bookworms crawling out of it.

Sewing is also starting to take on some literature in this house: one of the girls is beginning to sew a "Little Women" dress.............and the others are not far behind.

Our car rides used to be filled with literature on tape.....but now that the kids are is spent discussing literature.

Our home decor supports the storage of literature :)

About games: I worked very hard.......searching ebay and buying from the UK a couple of special, high-quality literature-based games: Winnie-the-Pooh to be specific, like the Peter Rabbit's Blackberry Game, by the same company, but not sold in the US. We have Lord Of the Rings Monopoly (the kids ignore the original Monopoly now :)) we have Lord of the Rings RISK, too? I wonder.....but would not be surprised.

When we take trips, we often make literature stops, as seen by our most recent Star-Spangled Adventure: homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder (four of them, to be exact), Louisa May Alcott (two of her homes), Margaret Sydney (Five Little Peppers), Henry David Thoreau (plus we walked all the way around Walden Pond)......and more. And, a trip to Eureka, CA, to visit their great-grandmother, is not complete without stopping at our favorite used bookstorein Old Town (Booklegger). We save up our money for just this visit!

Our souvenirs are just about always a book. Not a tourist book, but actual pieces of literature. Maybe a primary resource. I bought at least thirty books on our big cross-country trip. The kids bought mostly books, too. Definitely adds to our home decor. :)

We go to Yellowstone and I come home and order every book, especially primary resources, from the library. In fact, we may be the most abuser, I mean user, of our dear library, where our librarians are our friends. Whenever we study a topic, I scour the online catalogs of our libraries, and order, order, order.........

All through their growing up, the kids have imagined (and still do!) they are part of literary worlds. Lord of the Rings, King Arthur, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women...........and so on, ad naseum. :)

Any shopping, especially, thrift store shopping, requires going through every book, looking for a treasure. My home is now full of these treasures. It does leave you with dirty hands, though. :) Matthew has become addicted to browsing the on-going library sale, truly.

Our family traditions are often literature-based. We just finished celebrating Advent, and my youngest had 24 books to unwrap, one each morning of December, leading up to the birth of the Christ Child. All are Christmas literature, of some sort. And, of course, there were three more new Christmas book finds under the tree!

My children have SO many family memories, book-based. I wonder if they will laugh at the memory of me on the treadmill, reading aloud to them. I doubt it. I think they will think only of the gift of literature they received: Pyle's Knights of the Round Table, Little House books (prequels and sequels), The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Around the World in Eighty Days.....and the list goes on and on....

And, then there is the feet long as they keep tickling.....the longer mama would read to them. Anne and Matthew discovered that at young ages, and tickled my feet through the Chronicles of Narnia and all eight of the Anne of Green Gables books. Whenever I got near the end of the chapter, Anne would whisper: "Matthew, keep tickling and she will keep reading" I always pretended I did not hear. :) I enjoyed the tickling, but I have to admit, I was not ready to close the book yet........I wanted to know what was going to happen next, too.......even though I had already read through the stories several times.

I gave a baby shower for my friend Shawna a couple of years ago. What do you do for a mom, who is having her third child, who has everything she needs....especially one who is a new homeschooler? Why, you throw her a literature baby shower of course! When I sent out the invite, I sent a list of all of the books in the FIVE IN A ROW curricula. I asked the guests to bring a book off of this list or one of their favorites from childhood. It was so much fun.

And speaking of gifts, what do you think is the most common gift received from me??? Yep, you guessed it........a book, of course. For a baby gift, I like to give a special board book. One of my favorites is So Many Bunnies Board Book: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book. I like it so much, I got it for my friend, twice! :) Oops!

I have taught the kids to use literature as a way to meet people. :) I tell them if the introductions do not take off naturally, to ask the person what their favorite books are. This usually works quickly, and also lets us know pretty quickly if someone is a kindred spirit, too. :) I do the same thing to draw out shy youngsters, or even adults. Almost always works...except when they say: I hate books. :( Gladly that does not happen too often!

I asked Matthew, 17, if he felt we lived a literature-based life. He said, "I guess so." I asked him, "How?" He says, whatever I am reading at the time, affects my thoughts and real-life experiences.

I asked Anne, 19, the same question. She said, "No, we live a faith-based life, literature-saturated." I must admit she is right. Good for her to bring me back down to ground. :) But, it seems that a faith-based life, is going to be one spent in looking for the beauty in all things...from the places we go, to the things we see, to the books we read.

So, what do you all think? Am I bibliophile....or what? :) Are you?

Look what states I have been to!

create your own visited states map

My sister found the other site below for me, of countries. I was kind of hoping they would have one just for states, but they did not. I told her I would do a google search for one someday......and then, just a couple of days later, this one above appeared on my favorite homeschool boards (the ONLY boards I ever read). Ask & you shall receive. :) I love pouring over maps of the United States. That is why I always keep my USA atlas handy. If someone talks to about a specific place, my visual self likes to look it up and, well, visualize it.

PS: No matter what I do, I cannot get the USA map smaller. I am sorry. Anyone know how to fix it?

ETA: Thank you to Jessica for her advice in my comments section. It worked! And, thank you, too, Frances......your advice worked, too!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Beautiful Christmas Prayer

O God of love, who has given a new commandment through thy only begotten Son, that we should love one another, even as thou didst love us, the unworthy and the wandering, gave thy beloved Son for our life and salvation; we pray thee, Lord, give it to us, thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience and sincere thoughts, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord and only Savior

~~~Coptic Liturgy of Saint Cyril

Friday, December 14, 2007

Look where I have been!

I have only 14 states left to visit! How about you?

How many countries have you been to?

I am pretty short on that list:
Northern Ireland
Cayman Islands

I just love maps, don't you?

Where is YOUR atlas?

Mine is always a short grab OR house.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It is Thanksgiving Day!

Where are you? How did you spend your day? DO share!

Yesterday afternoon, the kids and I headed WEST.......for the first time since driving across the country on our Star-Spangled Adventure. We arrived in time for their Great-Grandma's Thanksgiving meal, last night. I think Grandma was hoping to make the BIG meal while no kids were underfoot ( I do believe she will agree with that :)). We were too full last night to have, that is awaiting us tonight after a bit.

After having major trouble falling asleep last night, due to a DOUBLE dose of Cafe Mocha at Java Joe's in Redding at 3:30pm......WHAT WAS I THINKING????..........I awakened today, obviously tired....but, just in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We do not have any TV (we have a TV, just no television on it....we use it for movies--fun & educational), this was only the second time the kids had seen the parade, the first time being last Thanksgiving, when we came here for a visit in 2006. It was such a fun contrast....because, since last Thanksgiving, we have actually been to New York City. It really changes our whole perspective. Plus, it was even more fun watching the Broadway musical scenes before the parade, having now seen a couple of Broadway shows.

I started organizing my Christmas cards, getting ready to address them.......while the kids watched an Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney)movie. The boys helped Uncle Steve start the process of prepping for Christmas lights. Tomorrow, they will work really hard on the project. Uncle Steve has been doing this for a hobby over the past few years, with his holiday decor getting more elaborate over the years. I will post a photo when I can.....maybe of last year's scene.

I researched the Internet for info on the latest Disney movie, dad agreed to treat for the movie.......and we headed out the door, while Grandma put togther an evening meal.

We had such a delightful time at the movie! We rarely go to the movies......but for the last six years, any movie I have seen has been a Lord of the Rings movie or a "Pirate" movie......quite adventurous.........Enchanted was just plain fun, and, well, enchanting! It was clever, the music was enjoyable, the lyrics amusing, the acting good........and, once again, the kids and I could totally relate to the NYC scenes. :) The "dancing and singing in Central Park" was quite inviting. :) We all left with smiles on our faces, as was promised by a review. This is almost like the Disney of the past. We knew we could look forward to it when we saw the music was by Stephen Schwartz & Alan Menken. Let me know if you enjoy it.

Just a side note: the lead male is a divorce, there is a divorce being dipicted........and, the lead male is a single dad.....who eventually says his wife left him. My kids are older and not as unaware as they may have been as youngsters. If this concerns you, do preview before your kids see it. Also, there are a few scary scenes, very much like in Sleeping Beauty.

In fact, I called a friend, who has a daughter who will not appreciate the movie because of her youth ........but, I told the mom, she would love it. Any adult who has grown up with Disney Princess movies, going all the way back to the first, will appreciate this story.

We came home to a yummy roast, salad and potatoes. Thanks, Grandma!

Anne worked on her school papers; the rest watched I Love Lucy re-runs. Then, we watched a Howard Keel musical we brought from the library, Kismet. Kind of slow........definitely not as much fun as any of his other movies.

Pie, ice cream.....and bedtime!

With Thanksgiving blessings,


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Are We Expecting Someone?"

I was at Marty's work a couple of weeks ago, when my eye caught a beautiful metal, fish sculpture, hanging on the wall. My husband noticed, and said, "I just sold one." I asked him how many he has sold, and he said only two. I told him that is because many people love the sculpture, but cannot justify an expensive decoration item. Like us. You should come see my frugally decorated home. :) I want one of those sculptures, but fish do not figure much into my life. :) Nor expensive decorations. :)


So, the next day, we start our morning prayers & Rosary.......and the phone rings, it is my dad, as usual. He always waits till we start our prayers or the Rosary before he calls, regardless of whatever time of day we pray. Uncanny knack. So, I put him off for twenty minutes :) and go back to prayers. But, I cannot find my Rosary. I went looking in the kitchen, and I see someone walking to the front door.........I say, "Are we expecting someone?" I did not recognize the person from the angle. I open the door, and there is Andre. The husband of my friend Debbie, who was the good friend who was there with me when I gave birth to that wee fella mentioned last week. :) And, he is the great guy who invented a way to attach swings to our swing set. (I definitely need to post about the GIANT swingset!)

In his hands, we find this:

He says it is for us.


He says it is the first of its kind. He has only made fish from these plow discsFor us, we get a bear. That so fits us! In fact, I was in the middle of reading my third book about Yellowstone (I am infatuated with the place since our visit.......I am in the middle of my fourth book right now), titled: PLEASE DO (NOT) FEED THE BEARS, about bear management at Yellowstone from the start of the NPS. Here is a view of the back side, with his signature and date:

Here is his story:

In case you cannot read it, the card states: Andre's interest in metalsmithing began in the Pyrenees Mountains of France, where he was raised, and where he trained and worked with traditional Basque craftsmen. To create his art, he recycles descarded steel and iron. Each piece of metal art is handcrafted and unique. An avid fisherman himself, some of his favorite work features trout and steelhead. Other pieces use Basque themes and symbols. Many California State Parks have benefitted from Andre's custom-forged hardware and decoration. Andre has donated his art to local organizations, including The River Center and Castle Crags State Park interpretive association.


We are in absolute awe at his generosity. I have seen his handywork at his house. He makes some pretty neat stuff. :) One thing he is "famous" for is the creation of bear-proof food lockers, at some of those CA State Parks. He just recently retired from the state park system, and with all of this time on his hands, I expect he will get to finally embark on his REAL career, ART. :).


For the curious, these sculptures are made from a plow disc. A plow disc is one of many in a line on agricultural equipment that cultivate dirt. They get worn to the point that they are no use to the farmer and then they are discarded. Then, Andre turns them into art! Here is a photo of the plow......

Thanks, Debbie for the photo! :)


Andre is going to create these sculptures for the CA State Park store at Burney Falls, and he wanted to see how a bear would look. And, he gave us the prototype, the first one ever made.

Is this cool, or what???

Thanks, friend!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Time For Another Birthday!

I remember quite well what I was doing exactly six years ago at this moment. I was in labor with the wee fella.


I had just laid my head down for a short nap, waiting for my body to declare labor. My dear friend Willa had arrived earlier that evening with her seven kids. They were there for Anne's 13th birthday party the next day. My due date was still 9 days away. We thought we could do the party without mishap. Silly us. That turned out to be such a blessing as we had not yet found anyone able to baby-sit the kids when we went to the hospital for his birth. God took care of the plans for us! How grateful I am!


Anyway..... Willa and all of the children went to bed, too. I awakened at midnight. At 12:30, it was obvious I was definitely in labor. It took half an hour to wake Marty up all of the way. Willa was sleeping, but Anne and Clare were chatting their hearts out on the bunk above Willa. I told them we were leaving for the hospital, and to pray a Rosary for us. Willa never actually woke up till morning, to find us gone........and that she was in charge of the party! :) Actually, Anne kind of ran things, with Willa at her side. It was a literature-themed birthday party. That's a surprise coming from our house. :)


So we left for the hospital about 1am........and the sweet fella was welcomed into our arms at 2:04am. All 7 pounds of him.......our biggest baby to date! :)


We brought him home in the middle of the party :) Naming him took a couple of days.......and there is a good story about that........but it will have to wait for another post.


We were hoping to spend his day at two soccer games, one for him and one for Garrett, and then head over to a pumpkin patch with our dear friends Louise, Miranda and Evan........but it is supposed to be really cold tomorrow (maybe even rain or snow 60% chance) and with his mama feeling a case of bronchitis coming on........we will delay till Sunday, as the temperature is supposed to be about ten degrees warmer, and sunny. Then, we come home for cake and ice cream. He is getting a scrapbook and supplies for his birthday......his big wish. Really! :)


In the meantime,

Happy 6th Birthday, little man!


Disneyland, September 2007



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Prayers for tomorrow please?

One of my kids is having oral surgery in the morning.........could you please pray it all goes well?

I am always nervous when my kids go under general anesthesia. Kind of creeps me out. I am glad it does not happen often. It is kind of like a faith thing, you know. You give your child to the experts (and God) and just have to let go, and let God.

Also, I seem to have come down with the family sickness.........please pray I get over it quickly, as it is a 3 hr round-trip to the oral surgeon tomorrow.....hard to do when you feel yucky.

Thanks, friends. This is our first of TWO oral surgeries in this family before the end of the, I will be back.....

Friday, October 12, 2007

OH! The Poor Deer!

So, my friend Patty and I were driving five teenagers, including Matthew, to French Creek Outdoor School, about 1.5 hours away. We were talking about hitting deer, and I told her the story of the time Marty and I were driving an all-nighter up to Idaho when Anne was only 9months old. A deer had hit the side of our Blazer and flipped in the air coming down in front of the car so we could hit it again. It was horrible.....but the most frightening part was I had just taken off my seatbelt to go back to a fussy Anne. I was leaning over the front seat like a cannon aimed at the windshield, trying to put some lullaby music on for her, when Marty yelled, "Deer!"

I looked up to see what I descibed above. The most amazing thing was: Marty never put the brake on. He just plowed throught the deer. WE KNOW it was our guardian angels watching out for head should have been in that windshield. We drove a few miles, and then pulled over. I was sobbing, thinking of my motherless child. I have been a seatbelt nut since I was 16 years old....long before it was a law. To have almost died that way, was beyond me.

I mention to Patty that we have never been hit, or been hit by one since then.........
.........less than 24 hours after our conversation....
I am out on the road early with Garrett and Anne, to take him to meet someone who is driving him up to the same camp, and her to school at the college. Matthew had to go a day earlier for training as a counselor. We are about one mile from home, when a very large doe jumps out of the brush, about five feet from our car, as I am already passing her. Her body hit the side of the car where the panel over the tire resides, and her head got whacked against the windshield. It was such a loud thump. So much muscle. Poor deer! I looked in the rearview mirror, and apparently, she bounced off of the car, and then ran off into the brush on the oppsite side of the road, where she had been intending to go. She was not even limping. That made me feel better. I pray she is okay, she was so beautiful. A fine speciman.....and probably someone's momma.
I drove up the road, pulled over and viewed the damage. So much muscle is right! And her head cracked the windshield, too. The damage is noted below in the photo. I was driving the Honda, which Marty bought for me to use whenever we could all fit, to save on gas money. I actually hardly ever drive the big car anymore. That means it should last longer....I am glad, I just LOVE my new car! I digress. I took the Honda home and exchanged it for the Yukon XL. But first, I went in to tell Marty what had he needed just one more thing added to his to-be-taken-care-of list! It just never ends! Poor guy!
He drove it for me last see how it was functioning. He says I can use it again. Now, we need to decide if we drive around a dent-up car, or put out the money to fix an old Honda. Knowing Marty, he will tolerate for only a little while, and then go get it fixed. Anne is bummed....this was to be her commuting car for school.
Now I feel kind of gun-shy, (or, is that DEER-shy?) driving my new car around, on the lookout for deer. :)

(By the way, a reader mentioned it looked like blood all over the is a reflection of my pretty Garnet Yukon XL standing near by :) )

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hey, Haven Family Performers...... that Beauty & the Beast is over, what are you gonna do?????


Haven Kids celebrating 50 yrs with Disneyland in 2006........Malachy less than cooperative.

Haven kids with my dad, Georgie-Pop. What a sweet guy to treat! The "C" for California Adventure Park, the night of our arrival in September 2006.


Yes, it sounds like a commercial, but it is the truth. When my dad took everybody last year, he kept saying how much fun he had..............and, that he wants to do it again. So, here we are!

I had to chuckle when my friend Alice left a comment on my last blog entry, saying:

It is official. You have had the most phenomenal summer ever.

It got me thinking......hmmm......when does summer really end? September 2oth (or is it the 21st?), that means, I still have more to do, to have an even more phenomenal summer.

Alice, I must add a long Disneyland weekend to the deal, plus a week in San Diego, hanging out at the beach with some of our dearest friends, while visiting relatives.

I must also add:

Some of the Haven kids with some of Robynn's kids, at the Getty in 2005.

A visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum with dear friends. This museum is free, wonderful and absolutely beautiful! We just love this museum. It has become a tradition for us, of visiting it on the way to Disneyland. Our dear friend Robynn in Lancaster has always joined us. This year we have invited a few others. The Getty is also only 6 miles down the freeway from:

Johnny's Pastrami!!! Where my family is on their 4th generation of eating here! There is NO place in the world where the pastrami gets this good, trust me, I have tried! And, their pickles are pretty special, too. Just add some french fries and rootbeer, and you have it covered! The sandwiches are $9.95 these days, but at least feed two kids.............oh! I am drooling now! Can't wait! And, this year, I am buying an extra sandwich to eat in my hotel room at Disneyland, so the experience will last longer. :)

Last year at Disneyland felt like a family reunion. I am hoping for the same this year. My dad of course, the cool guy treating. My cousin Julie came last year, and is planning to come this year, too. Hopefully with one of her kids. My Aunt Nancy also......with my cousin Cindy's three kids. My sister Teresa & her family and family friends, the Synders, will be attending this second year. Sadly Robynn cannot join us this year. Last year, Erica from San Diego came up and spent an hour with us in the cement picnic area just outside of Disneyland entrance. That was special! Others are invited, we will just have to see who shows up.

On the way home from San Diego, we plan a stopover in Lancaster at Robynn's and hopefully will see a performance of Cheaper by the Dozen in which her son plays the 5th son in the family. This possibility is exciting for us, as we have never seen this play live.

And lastly, we are planning a layover in Northern Nevada, home of most of my family: my parents and siblings, a few cousins.

So, see Alice, my phenomenal summer is so not over, yet!
I think school will really start in, uh, October. Until then, it is "travel school" for us, yet again.



Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beauty & the Beast

We arrived home from our Star-Spangled Adventure in time to join the Mount Shasta Repertory Theater Company's summer production of Beauty & the Beast. This is the first show in which ALL six of the kids are performing. It may be the last. Who can tell? But it is fun!

Originally, as we were going to be missing most of the rehearsals while we were on our trip, all of the kids were given roles in the ensemble. But, just before we left, Sarah was given the role of Silly Girl (one of three girls infatuated with Gaston, the villain) and Matthew would be playing Cogsworth, the clock. Both would be splitting the role with another cast member, playing about half the shows. Well, due to some folks dropping out, Sarah got to keep her role the whole run, Anne was also made a Silly Girl, and Matthew got the role of Lumiere.
Here is the run down of parts for the Bryan Family Performers:
Anne: Silly Girl Two, Dancing Plate, mother in mob scene
Matthew: Lumiere
Sarah: Silly Girl One, dancing plate, girl at mob scene
Maddelyn: Village Girl, Dancing flower vase, girl at mob scene
Garrett: Village Boy, Little Drunk boy under table in Tavern, Dancing Knife (flatware), boy in mob scene & castle fight
Malachy: Village Boy, Salt Shaker, Scared little boy in mob scene


The show runs for 11 nights. Tonight starts the last weekend run. There are two Belles, splitting the shows. The one you see below in the photos is a very special friend to the kids, and she had her closing night last weekend. Only four shows to go!!

I LOVE live theater. Beauty & the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. This show is good. I wish all of you could see it!
Wanna enjoy a few photos? I have taken about 1000 photos.........because of all of the movement, only about 100-200 come out good enough to keep. It is fun to try!

The Bryan Family Performers,
posing with their special Belle, Kathy Young,
playing her ultimate dream role.
Gotta love Matthew's candle hands
that light up and flicker, like a real flame!

Garrett as a piece of a flatware set, with Belle,
during the big number, BE OUR GUEST.

Here is a BE OUR GUEST scene.
Maddelyn is the Flower Vase second from Belle.
Matthew is standing there to the right.....see his candles?
That funny tall thing in the back is a broom.
See the corkscrew to the right, in the back?

Anne & Sarah as the China. Aren't they adorable!
I wonder if they ever thought they would be a "plate" when they grew up. :)

Malachy as a Salt Shaker, in BE OUR GUEST.
The Pepper Shaker is the director's young son Caleb.
The audience just loves their sweet appearance.

Just Sarah.....cute 1940's look!

This is a part of the Mob Scene, when Gaston tries to have Belle's father locked up in an insane asylum. Isn't Maddelyn sweet? She and her friend Alicea have blue mob caps, shawls and a teddy bear between them. Maddelyn is the one with the big eyes. :) Anne's head is bent, top right, with a cream mob cap in place. She is holding a little girl, a wiggly one by the looks of it.



Belle says, "I am a little hungry." Here is Matthew as Lumiere the candlestick, with his castle co-horts Cogsworth the clock & Mrs. Potts the tea pot.


If you can join us this weekend, we would love to have you! If not, sorry we missed you!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where does the time go?

I am sad. My little fella lost his first two teeth on our Star-Spangled Adventure......and, now?, he has started organized sports. How did this happen???? What's to be next???

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Fifty-One

Space reserved for Thursday, July 12th, Day Fifty-One:

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Nine

Tuesday, July 10th, Day Forty-Nine:

We were awakened quite early by very heavy wind. Our tents were blowing down on us, kind of doing a tent dance, maybe the twist. Does that help as a visual? :) It was one of those really blue-sky kind of days, with those gorgeous fluffy, cotton-ball white clouds blowing by.

I believe we got out of the campground around 7ish.......and then, we had one amazingly full day!

And.....we learned over the next two days, that we LOVE South Dakota! When I was planning the trip last spring, I fell in love with it, sight unseen. Who would have thought South Dakota would turn out to be a favorite state! We all want to come back, with more time to explore.

Today is the third day of our "Little House" days. We could have a 4th day, if we wanted to explore the LH connections in Keystone, but we had to draw the line somewhere, and not be on the road for our lifetimes. :) I also cancelled our side trip to Burr Oak, Iowa, another LH site, so we could have some quality time at the other houses.

We crossed the border into SD quickly, as we camped only about 15 miles from the border. We made a Wal-Mart stop, to stock up on groceries for the next few days, and headed to DeSmet, where the LH books: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years take place. One could spend two whole days here seeing the sites. We only had about half of a day, so we stuffed our time. We arrived at the LH museum and signed up for the house tours, the only way to enter the homes. They had a fun LH gift shop........I resisted all temptations to purchase anything, especially all of the cute tea stuff. The two younger boys bought a bag of marbles each. They were really cool, based on famous artists' colors. Malachy had to borrow $5 bucks from Sarah to buy his, as he was all out of money. He will pay her back from his piggy bank at home. :) He got "Van Gogh" marbles, gorgeous blue and yellow. Garrett's marbles represent the planets.

The first stop, were the bathrooms at the LH park across the street, marked "Ma" and "Pa" instead of men and women. :) Then, our tour guide took us into the Surveyor's Home.

Surveyor's House

The original first schoolhouse in DeSmet is the white buiding in the background.

This was the actual home the Ingalls lived in when they were By Shores of the Silver Lake. The Lake is gone now, but there is a sign showing its place. The house was moved to town. It was the biggest house Laura had ever lived in at the time. It had lots of original belongings. Our tour guide was kind of different. I am not sure how to describe her. She would say things like this: "And they, were like, noooo waayyy....." Kind of a Valley Girl crossing with a midwestern gal........just a little odd. Though sweet. And kind of funny as she was middle-aged. Behind the Surveyor's House, are two buildings. One is either the original school house, or a replica (I think a replica), of the little school that Laura taught in when Almanzo began giving her rides home on weekends. Very small, but I could just see what the descriptions were telling us in the story.

School where Laura taught.

And then, there was the original first school house in DeSmet, which Laura attended, of course. It is being researched right now so they can restore it. It was very cool to see the way they do the research, looking for original blackboards. And, you should see the museum of items found in the walls! :)

First schoolhouse in Desmet, SD.

Then, the tour takes us to another part of town, where we find a house that Pa built with his own hands. The home where Carrie married in the living room, and Ma, Pa, and Mary died. So many pieces of their real lives, just waiting here for us to discover. One of the dressers had drawers we could open, to see belongings from the family. How exciting to be so close to this literature and history.

The house that Pa built.

I know we did a lot already on this day.........but, there is so much more to go! First, we drive west and then south, to get to I-90. This is the first time we saw signs for WALL DRUG, only a hundred miles away. Once we are on the main highway, we have a lot of stops to make. The first stop was in Chamberlain, where we were looking for St. Joseph's Indian School. We get "junk" mail from them all of the time. What a surprise to me to find we would actually visit the area. It seems the school and students have created a wonderful Indian museum. As we were passing through the "old town" part of the town, we found a quilt shop. Of course we stopped. One thing we have learned on this trip, is that most quilt shops have a distinct personality from other quilt shops. The quirk for this shop??? Glittery fabric! We never saw so much sparkly fabric. I knew I did not want any eventually will rub off, or wash off. We found a lot of fabric we liked, but not much to go with our themes. I finally settled on the two fat quarters below the flag fat quarter, which I picked up the next day, still in SD. Very funny joke on me: I found when I got home that the fabric with the pine cones.........was sparkly! It had been folded inside out. Oh, well. I may just use it with the non-sparkly side out.

For the Star-Spangled Quilt: South Dakota

The museum was free, donations welcome, of course! What a surprise treat this museum was! First, we watched a very well-made video. There were many artifacts & amazingly beautiful art. The bronze sculptures seemed like they could rival Remington's work. Just gorgeous. One thing I noticed about this Indian museum was the way they taught about their culture without using any blaming. They just told their story. It was a nice perspective. We cannot change the past, but we can minimize prejudice in the present and future.

Garrett & Malachy outside the Saint Joseph Indian School Museum.

Our day still had more.........somehow. :)

I had been given flyers everywhere I turned, about various large antique stores in the area. Since we ended up going the opposite way out of town, crossing a special bridge (though I cannot remember why :)) over the Missouri River, we bumped into one of the antique shops. It was hard to resist the begging from various members of our caravan. I did stop.

We actually spent about 2 hours there! The prices were fair, and we spent the majority of our time trying to decide what we would NOT buy. :) All of them were enamored with all of the wonderful old books, especially Matthew, who had a heck of time choosing which books to purchase. Since I had bought tri-cornered hats for the boys at John Adams bookstore, the girls convinced me to buy each of them an "old-fashioned" hat. I also came away with the book below, knowing that we were heading to Mount Rushmore the next day. When we came out of the store, we found our Thule (pronounced: Tooley--the storage on top of our car) kind of crooked. I have no idea what we would have done without Matthew to be the Thule manager. I can barely reach it, and I definitely had no idea of how it went on and off the car. He was a huge help.

Even though we left the store sometime after 5 pm, we still had one more thing to do before we went to our next camp. And, even though we had to backtrack a few miles to reach our next destination, and even though the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center (great photos here) was already closed, I just had to see the area where Lewis & Clark stopped by the Missouri River. It was a lovely place for a rest stop, over looking the Missouri River. We explored, took some photos, admired the artwork: a tee pee as a monument to Lewis & Clark, and the metal display below. It was hard to capture the true beauty in the natural light that was available, but maybe you can find it? The metal art graced the front of the visitor's center. It is hard to tell in the photos, but they were very large, the whole side of a large building.

Bryan kids at the site of Lewis & CLark's camp area,
with the Missouri River in the background.

Scene 1 with Lewis & Clark.

Scene 2 with Lewis & Clark.

Finally, attempting to put an end to our day, we headed to a KOA in Kennebec, SD. Where we got our tent set-up barely just before dark, but ate yet another dinner in the dark. :)

America sure has lovely sunsets!

We caught this one just before we pulled into the KOA.

Saint Felicitas & her sons, Pray for us!




Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Eight

Monday, July 9th, Day Forty-Eight:

We got our camp packed up pretty quick (for once!) and headed to the town of Winona, Minnesota, looking for a quilt shop. We found a very sweet one, in this little town. And, while we were looking around, the salesgirl, started looking for fabric with us, once she heard our plans.....and, here is what she found for me!

These fat quarters are very sweet, much prettier in person. I was very pleased!

Then, we went looking for the seminary located there, Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary. The directions we had were so useless. Very confusing. Even though the girl at the quilt store used mapquest to help me find the site. So, I just took a chance on a "country road" to get me to the right road for heading to Walnut Grove. You may have heard of this town? :) So, there we were, just driving along on this two-lane highway, when we drive past the road we were looking for, to find the seminary! We just drove into the grounds, checked it out and left. We had intended to stop for a visit, but we really needed to head west........we were at least 4 hours form Walnut Grove. Oh! And, my little fella lost his first baby tooth today! Now, it is official..........he is NOT a baby anymore :(

They have a large museum in Walnut Grove, dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder AND the TV show :) The museum is put together very well, and has several buildings. That would include a re-created dugout house, as this is the town where the Ingalls lived in the "little sod house" which can be read about in ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK. This photo was taken outside the museum.

I figure since we keep mentioning quilting on this blog, I would share a photo of a quilt at the museum.

We had fun at the museum store and I picked up a bunch of tiny cookie cutters for tea time cookie making and a little metal milk jug to use as a toothpick holder at home, since someone just broke the ceramic one I had for years. A drive of about 4 miles out of town, takes you to a private farm, where the site of the actual dugout, or sod house, is located. A few years back, the roof caved in, so all that can be seen is an impression in the dirt. The owner has allowed the area to go back to the natural grasses grown there, so one can see what the view for Laura origially would have been. The coolest part for me, was seeing Plum Creek, which still flows by there. I did not see any leeches (you will have to have read the book to know what I am talking about :)), but I could imagine them. :) I could also imagine the girls playing in the creek. It was SO peaceful there. Except when a certain son of mine was hollering. :) Below, are photos of the dugout site, and the creek.

We then grabbed some food at a grocery and sandwiches at the local Subway for dinner, as we headed to Lake Benton for a campground. The campground was nice, but not near the lake, as I thought it was. Lots of manicured grass, and very nice showers. And quiet and peaceful. Hardly anyone was there........maybe five RVs. Two of the RVs were camped there for the summer. One had a couple that could not stop staring at us. And, they were not friendly and curious stares. We must have looked nuts to them, showing up in our car, setting up our funky tent village, "millions" of kids. I think they were scared of our potential kid energy.......maybe our noise would ruin their camp. Ah well, we did not give them any dirty looks, though we were tempted :) It is just a strange feeling to have all of our moves watched. Here is our Minnesota sunset. It was much prettier in person.

There was a definite lack of bugs here, at this camp. Tomorrow we head to deSmet, South Dakota. Home is only seven days away! And, we are anxious, but SO excited to see a few National Parks on the way!

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Seven

Sunday, July 8th, Day Forty-Seven:
Even though I was short on sleep, we managed to get out of the hotel in a timely manner :) Hey, we have clean laundry..........and it needs to last us till we get home on the 16th!

Today was the first of three Little House days.
We drove across the Mississippi River into Minnesota today (my friend Paula says it is the best state in the union........I admit, I am kind of partial to California :)).......drove along the River, which looks less muddy up here than it did in Saint Louis.......and very pretty scenery here, too. Lots of trees....lotsa green.

We crossed BACK into Wisconsin, as we drove to Pepin, home of Little House in the Big Woods.
First, we went to the museum there.............where there was a very talkative and friendly docent. Then, we went to the Museum store, which thankfully had air conditioning :)
I already own most of the Little House books in the store but I did pick up a book called

I also picked up a prairie girl cookie cutter. Sweet.
We drove a few miles out of town, to the site of the Little House, and the place of Laura Ingalls Wilder's birth. We had a picnic lunch, felt the wind pick up and a very stormy sky develop. We worried, as we were camping in our tent tonight. The house is a replica of the original little House. The wayside park is surrounded by very tall cornfields. The people in Pepin are so proud of their Little House heritage.

Well, the storm was picking up, the sky getting scarier, so we headed back to Winona, Minnesota, where we were planning to stay the night at a campground, near the Mississippi River.

We found our campground, checked in, set up the tent and the kids got to go swmming till dark. Then we ate dinner in the dark, with the worst bugs of the entire trip, at any campsite.

Maddelyn and Matthew acted out a spontaneous "radio show" outside the tent for those in the tent. It was "Into the Bugs" a parody of the musical "Into the Woods." It was composed of all of the characters they have played in their past shows. Hysterical. A few raindrops fell. We slept.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Six

Saturday, July 7th, Day Forty-Six:

Long drive to Chicago.......good thing we gained an hour.

Paid more today in TOLL charges getting to Chicago, and through it, and then to the Wisconsin border..............than in all of the trip total. At least in the west, we only have tolls for the occasional bridge.......but, sheesh, east of the Mississippi river, they go nuts on making you pay to use the roads.......NUTSSSS!!!! Though, they ARE nice roads.............except in Chicago :)

Found an "urban" quilt shop for our Illinois sample.........weird energy in that store :)

Then, drove along the shore of Lake Michigan, to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. My children were SO excited to go there. Okay, well, I admit, Malachy and Garrett could care less :) Since we could not use all of the wonderful parking garages in Chicago......we had to pray to find a parking space for our BIG car with a THINGY on top. Somehow, we did.....only cost $20!

More later on museum..............

more later on rest of day........

Stayed in a BW Hotel near the Dells in Wisconsin. Older kids got to swim.........stayed up till past 4am doing laundry.........they only had ONE washer and dryer!

A Wisconsin sunset.

more later..........

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Five

Friday, July 6th, Day Forty-Five

Got the oil changed (which turns out to be a bad thing, then a good thing.......more later :)).............visited with 4 generations of Bryan cousins in Ohio.......enjoyed their hospitality and conversations immensely, including a really cool Amish double-bench swing in the will be fun to have common memories at our future Bryan Family Reunions...........

Cousin Tim & Kate's pretty backyard

Sarah & Cousin "Tall Chuckie" on Amish swing

found a great Ohio quilt shop

.....and then drove west (yay!) to just past Toledo, Ohio, on fun country roads......actually got to hotel in time for the ONLY hotel swimming for all of the kids got to have.......but only because the pool was open til midnight! :)

More details later...........

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Four

Thursday, July 5th, Day Forty-Four

This post is needing transfer from Anne's appear in the next week or so :)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Our Star Spangled Adventure Day Forty-Three

Wednesday, July 4th, Day Forty-Three:

There is so much to write about today….yet, I am not sure we really “did” much. :)

Highlights, chronologically speaking:

We found that some of us were actually more comfortable than others sleeping in the car. :)

We found it is easier to clean-up and leave a campsite if you never actually get out of the car. :)

We also found that if you sleep in a car with your clothes on, you wake up already dressed for the day. :)

We stopped by Dunkin Donuts for morning juice and yucky coffee. :/

We visited the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.

The round church is quite interesting, with a round altar, so that there are actually three altars all together.

Our first views of Niagara Falls.......

...the American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls from above........and Horseshoe Falls.......too

Here are the kids, after the fireworks show over the Falls, huh? :)
Their personalities just shine right through, don't ya think? :)

...oh, man....I have run out of time....... :/