Smoky Mountains

I can’t believe that it’s been almost two weeks since my last post!  We spent five nights camping in the Smoky Mountains (near Gatlinburg, Tennessee) last week and we’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to even sit down and write anything.  The mountains were beautiful and our RV site was on a small creek (I’ve always dreamed of having a babbling brook running through my yard…it was nice, even if it was only for a few nights :) ).  We did all kinds of fun things including:

- Hatfield and McCoy dinner show

- Hiking (ok, more like gentle walking – LOL)

- Wonderworks

- The Tomb (an interactive ancient Egyptian tomb where we had to work together to solve puzzles and mysteries to escape)

- Titanic Museum

- Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Oddities Museum (by the way…all Ripley’s museums give homeschoolers 1/2 price tickets!!!)

- Downtown Gatlinburg


The Jellystone campground that we stayed at had lots of fun activities too like candy bar bingo, hayrides, trick-or-treating, etc.  Justin and the boys treated me to a sweet little birthday party at the campsite, complete with cake and ice cream!  I love how Justin put it:  we were “celebrating the 12th anniversary of my 29th birthday” – ha, ha!

Even though we were all worn out and have had a lot to catch up on since we got home, I wouldn’t trade this time with my precious family for the world!  I’m so very grateful that we are able to take trips like this (and that the boys still like to hang out with us…well, most of the time anyway :) ).

Sad –

Tired – Anxious –  Overwhelmed – Scared – Just “Blah”…. 

That’s how I felt.  For no real reason.

I had a strong faith in God, two beautiful boys (with the youngest being 2 months old), a supportive and loving husband, a beautiful home, a caring family, and many things to look forward to…except I didn’t – I couldn’t.  I had lost my spark.  My joy was gone.  I didn’t feel like doing anything…except lie in bed, but even as tired as I was I didn’t sleep well.  My husband tried to help by giving me time away from the kids, but I had no desire to do anything.  And I was crying –  a lot.  The breaking point was when my 2 1/2 year old son saw me crying one day and said, “don’t cry mommy…it’ll be ok.”

It was time to get help.  I did NOT want this to affect my kids!

Thankfully, my case was only mild depression brought on by a chemical imbalance caused by hormonal changes.  I was put on a low dose of Zoloft and felt better within a few weeks.  I have been on the meds since then.  I have tried several times to wean off of them, but started feeling the overwhelming sadness again.  My doctor told me that if I felt better on the low dose that I was taking with no negative side effects, that it was ok (even smart) to keep taking it.  And so, I am.

I still have low moments, but they are much more manageable now.  I have learned how to track my mood based on my monthly cycle.  I remind myself that how I’m feeling is normal (for me anyway).  That it will pass and I’ll feel more like myself soon.  And I always have.

I am very blessed that my depression was easily treated with medication.  It’s not that easy for others.  It may take several different methods to help others with depression including various medications, therapy, etc.  And I want you to know that it is OK.  There is no reason to be ashamed if you need help.

We all will need help at some time in our lives.  We all have struggles.

So please, share your story.  Tell others. 

It may help somebody who is struggling with similar issues to know that they are not alone.

Time To Share

We made homemade butter Monday.  I remember doing it as a young child and realized that Brendan and Ryan had never done it!  Isn’t making butter a required rite of passage for all school children?!?  Obviously, it wasn’t on Brendan’s list of assignments for the day, but we made him come up and shake the jar for a few minutes too  :) – our arms were burning!  After adding some salt, it was really good!  Now I can check that activity off the list – whew!






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Ryan and I are finishing up our study of birds and have been learning about the digestive system.  We have seen LOTS of birds (and unfortunately a few squirrels :( ) on our bird feeder that we made last week!



After not finding a nest last week on our nature walk (who knew it would be so hard to find one?), my sweet neighbors, John and Jennifer let us dig through one of their bushes to get a cardinal’s nest.  It was cool (minus the bugs and  spiders) to take it apart and see what the birds had used to build it!






Below are some pictures of  a few other subjects that we’ve been working on:









Ryan was excited to pick up his ribbons and photos from the fair – he’s already thinking about and planning his pictures for next year!




I can’t end this this post without bringing to your attention that this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week.  A dear friend of mine suffered the tragic loss of one of her family members last week due to a struggle with severe depression.  That precious family is now clinging to the  following verse :

Romans 8:28

Their prayer is that by bringing awareness to mental illness and removing the stigma that it often carries, that somebody will realize that they are not alone in this struggle.  That it’s ok to reach out for help.  That another family may be spared the horrific pain of losing their loved one.

And so, I will be sharing more about this over the next few days…including my own story.


Field Trip Friday!

Ryan and I left yesterday afternoon for a fun overnight trip to Staunton, VA.  Justin used some of his hotels reward points to get us a free night – thanks Dad :) !  We ate dinner at Cracker Barrel, did some shopping and exploring, had a treat at Sweet Frog, and played a game of Words With Friends before we went to bed.  The mountains were beautiful!

This morning we got up early and spent about four hours at the HEAV sponsored homeschool day at the Frontier Culture Museum.  We had never been before and it was so cool!  We got to experience West African, German, Irish, English, and American cultures.  The hands-on activities were great:  cooking apple tartlets, washing with homemade soap, sewing, sawing logs, digging potatoes, writing on slates, and so much more!  There were staff members dressed in authentic costumes at each site who were eager to teach.  The smells of the fires, the freshly tilled dirt, and the “lovely” scent of the livestock animals made us feel as if we had truly stepped back in time.  We got to see what it was like for the early settlers as they adapted to living in the “New World.”

I would definitely recommend the Frontier Culture Museum to those studying early American history!

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Birds Of A Feather….

…flock together!

Guess what we studied today ;) ?!?

Ryan and I have studied all kinds of animals so far: primates, marsupials, rodents, whales, dolphins, and now birds!


We had a busy day making a bird feeder, going on a nature walk, and making edible nests.  We also added another verse to our memory work, continued our study in James, started learning about the New York colony, reviewed adverbs, and more!

  Tonight we had a family meeting to discuss several mission opportunities that are coming up and play two games.  First, we played a game that Brendan created about the life of Abraham.  It was called The Promised Land and he did a great job.  He has learned a lot and helped us learn a few new facts too!  Then we played Ninepins as part of Ryan’s study of colonial times.  I have to admit that I like our modern version of bowling better – especially the automatic pinsetters!

We took a lot of pictures today (including some of Brendan – YAH!) and I don’t feel like putting a caption on each one, so to “kill two birds with one stone” (pun intended –  LOL), I’ll just put them into a slideshow:

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