Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hunting Fossils

Mindy and Ella digging

Max, digging, from the root ball of a tree , dangling himself from a precipice. I guess that whole "falling out of the tree incident" didn't go to his head

Archaeopteris, far upper left; True fern leaf, lower right

Another Archaeopteris

Alex with his finds

We went on a fossil hunt with the Chattanooga Nature Center. The Nature Center is another one of those little gems nestled here in Chattanooga. This is where Sophie and Max go to Nature Camp in the Summer.

We were to be hunting fern fossils in a giant scrap pile left over from when there was a coal mine in the area. This is one of the best places to find fossil ferns in Georgia.

We weren't disappointed! I bent down, picked up a rock, and lo and behold, I'd found a perfect specimen of an archaeopteris. On the very same rock, there was a true fern leaf imprint. It was awesome...you couldn't not find a fossil!

When I first mentioned the idea of a fossil hunt, Max didn't want to go. He thought it would be boring. On the day of the trip, he seemed up for it, but not very enthusiastic. At the end of the day, he stayed longer than the rest of us because he was having such a blast. He said, "This was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. I'm glad I came."

Strewing the path.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Beautiful, peaceful, tranquil Gail tagged me with this most awesomely awesome tag. I love happy. Six things that add to my joy and happiness...
1. Waking up to the pot of french press coffee, with a love note next to it, from John.
2. Dancing...and teaching my dance classes
3. Watching Max dance
4. Watching Ella do gymnastics
5. Snuggling with Sophie watching our "stories"
6. Sharing good food with Alex
I have more too. It's so cool to realize how many things I have in my life that make me happy...hiking on our ridge, grass sledding, being with my girl friends, drinking coffee, drinking wine, our wood stove and the cozy fire we have all winter, my massages, my marriage.... I love my life. I am very happy and content.
Laura...I l.o.v.e. your blog and you intrigue me...what makes you happy?
Shanna...because I love you and you add to my happiness :)
Alex...because I love your honesty on peaceful partnerships, and don't always comment on your blog, but I do enjoy reading it.
So I didn't tag 5 people, but who the hell cares!

Valentine's Day

Again, no pictures :(
Blogging is so much better with a visual, but I am sorely lacking in that arena lately.
We spent a wonderful Valentine's Day with the Traaseths. We shared good food, coffee, games, and conversation.
Abbi's chocolate chip cookies have to go in the annals of the best ever! Thank goodness for little baking mishaps...they lead to masterpieces.
Alec was as generous as ever with his time and patience...Ella adores him, and the boys have a blast gaming with him.
As always, I leave inspired by Kelli and Tim and their "presentness" with their kids and as a family. I am grateful for the pockets of time we are able to carve out of our lives to share with other unschooling families.

Grass Sledding

Once again, me without my camera :)
Ella and I have longingly watched people grass sledding by the river every time we drive to gymnastics.

Shanna and the kids came for a couple of days, so we decided to make it happen. Shanna found the most amazing cardboard boxes ever, and we headed downtown.

What a freakin' blast! I haven't gone grass sledding since I was 5 or 6 and lived in Texas. It was so much fun. The kids were way more adventurous than me. The were surfing, going on their bellies, etc. I just sat on my butt and rode down.

Shanna took some great pictures with her phone, which would definitely give a better picture of the afternoon, but we couldn't figure out how to get the pictures to a computer...sigh...

I'm way more sore than I thought I would be. Who knew grass sledding would be a great glutteal workout?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Hanging out with Grandmother Payne at our family reunion in 2006
Grandmother Payne with her 7 children...my mom is on the far left.

My grandmother died on Monday. She was just shy of 91. She lived a very eventful life, filled with amazing accomplishments as well as very difficult rough spots. I believe she was ready to die, and was lucky enough to have my mom and aunt with her.
Two plus years ago, my mom and aunt brought my grandmother down South from the Chicago area. They were hoping to help make what might be her last years more comfortable. They found a great retirement home in the same town as my aunt lives, and close enough to my mom that she could visit often.

Before she moved into the retirement home, my grandmother lived with my mom and dad for a couple of months. During this time, the kids and I also lived with my mom and dad while we were in the process of moving and selling our house. John had already relocated to start his job. I am very thankful for this funky situation that found us all together for a couple of weeks. My grandmother was really smart. She was a voracious reader and huge sports fan. I loved talking with her about little things...like how she used to make vegetable soup and what her life was like growing up. We discussed the merits of owning a cow rather than a goat, and she shared her memories of having both as a child.

While we were there, Grandmother Payne and Ella forged a bond that rather defies explanation. My grandmother is known for being extraordinarily stubborn. For example, she had always insisted that everyone call her Grandmother Payne. No grandma, no granny, etc. Just Grandmother Payne, or she wouldn't answer. Ella has also always marched to own beat, challenging those around her to hear her. They took to one another almost instantly. Ella always wanted to sit next to her at dinner. It was really cool.

I remember feeling a similar bond with Grandmother Payne, even though we didn't really see her much growing up. One of my clearest memories of her when I was a kid was when we lived in Colorado. I was about 9 years old. Being the youngest of 5 kids, many times I felt left out, ignored, and not heard. Grandmother Payne was visiting us, and I got really upset and my feelings were really hurt by my siblings. Grandmother Payne came down to my room and asked if she could come in. I let her in, we locked the door, and stayed in there for what felt like hours. She helped me clean my room, and refused to talk to any of the other kids when they came knocking on my door trying to find out what we were doing. It was our little conspiracy, and it made me feel very special that she was there only with me. That feeling is what I sensed she had with Ella.

I will always remember that special time we had, and the special bond she and Ella shared at the end of her life. Here's to you Grandmother Payne...you will always be remembered.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finally...a Picture!

I forgot my camera for Ella's first gymnastics competition last Fall. I just received this picture from another mom. It shows Ella on the podium accepting her Gold Medal for floor exercises. Can you see that grin? Proud doesn't even begin to describe how she felt, and what this picture captures, about that moment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh, The Places You'll Go

Ella was invited to be a member of the Level 4 competitive team at TAG. It is quite a commitment of time, energy, and of course, finances, but all oh so worth it. Ella has been walking on clouds waiting until today, her official first practice as a Level 4 team member. There is a great deal of training required, and Ella just keeps wanting more. She is quite determined and thrives on the whole experience. I am so happy we have been able to support her efforts and find ways to follow her passion. Oh, the places she'll go :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I love basketball. Sophie and I are going to check out the local high school teams play a little round ball next weekend. I can not wait!