Monday Night we watched the movie Big Fish. We had finished the book just in time to make plans to visit the town Spectre during our fun week. This was a huge deal for me because I really love the movie Big Fish. Before moving to the Montgomery area it was one of the really fun things that we found that I got the most excited about visiting. The kids speculated about whether the fish was real not. Bubbles and Duke seemed to enjoy the book and movie the most. I think secretly Pippi and Jem liked both too.

Tuesday we made arrangements to visit Spectre. We packed a picnic and spent the morning just enjoying the quiet abandoned Spectre.I have grown to love surprising the kids with where our next adventure will be. When we pulled up to the gate the kids weren’t sure yet. They read the sign that said Big Fish and most of them got really excited. The short drive to the island reminded me so much of the movie it was amazing. Once we found the entrance to the town the kids were more excited. Big Fish was never one of George’s favorite movies but it was fun to hear him talk the kids through where we were in the movie. It was pretty kewl to be where a movie was filmed. The kids all looked up to see if the shoes were hanging on the line near the Spectre sign. Funny thing is some people have made it a point to add shoes. We walked done main street looking in all of the buildings and houses. It was so kewl to say this is where Ewan McGregor was in the Mayor’s house. Under the church live a family of goats. The kids laughed so much hearing the goats cry. Most of the buildings are falling apart. The couple that own the island have been working to repair what they can.

We explored more of the island and found Jenny’s house from the movie. Well not her house as it is gone but the pillars from her house. We also found a really kewl treehouse you can rent for events and such. The walk around the island was nice. There were a few people camping or fishing on the island. I reminded the kids that Jackson Lake Island was the second island we have visited. I want to make it my new favorite place not just because of the movie Big Fish but because of how quiet and beautiful it is out there. Please take the opportunity to visit. Donate to restoring and upkeep. No vandalizing. And enjoy the joy that Edward Bloom must have felt when he found Spectre.

That night we were very proud to watch Pippi, Jem, and Bubbles earn some badges at their American Heritage Girls Badge Ceremony. Pippi earned her Joining badge as well as crossed over to join the next level which is Patriots. Jem earned her Joining badge, Stick shifts, and Let’s talk. Bubbles earned her Joining badge and 7c’s. The three girls have worked very hard the past couple of months to earn just those few patches. They are hoping to earn more this summer to catch up with their new friends.




Enlisted Heritage Hall

We recently wrapped up our final days of school. I thought with the break from the move and not taking any breaks since then we could use one. I didn’t plan for a week but George was able to take a week off from work. My initial plan was just to do a few fun educational things at home but since George took a week I wanted to make the most of it. On Monday, we decided to visit the Enlisted Heritage Hall before lunch.

The Enlisted Heritage Hall is located on Gunter AFB. The museum is filled with many great pictures,displays,and videos. George talked to the older four about some key parts of Air Force history while I did my best to keep up with Baby Kermit and Pooh. The kids really seemed to enjoy the growing museum. I was the most amused by the pictures of those who have served as enlisted airman. It was kewl to see Chuck Norris and Jimmy Stewart to name a few. We probably could have hung out longer but the kids had their fill of history. Outside there are several memorials, statutes and a few static displays. It’s an amazing tribute to the Enlisted side of the Air Force. It always makes me so proud to be able to add my name to the list of those who have served our country.

After lunch we visited our library to pick up some movies and books for the week. The kids read books so fast. Bubbles always complains about finishing her 5-6 books in 3 days and having nothing to read. For the first time in forever I had to make Jem get some books to help fight her boredom. The kids played at the playground nearby until little boys had red faces. We went home to cool down in the A/C with delicious Root Beer floats.


Fort Toulouse, AL

“Guest” Blog post by George
History has always been considered important to my family; it gives context to who we are, and insight to our future. If I had a time machine I would travel back to see each family generation as they were. Since that (currently) isn’t possible, living history is the next best thing. Fort Toulouse recently had their “French and Indian War” re-enactment day. This time period is the middle of the 18th century, where the first global conflict is raging, the Seven Years’ War, as France’s and Britain’s long-term rivalry erupts into a fight for supremacy. Earlier in the century, from a family perspective, our ancestors arrived in New France and were stationed at a Fort near Montreal. Fort Toulouse was built like many forts at the time, at a strategic position overlooking a bend in the regions significant waterway. Despite being built in an area claimed by three major powers, no battle was ever fought at the fort. My guess is because European settlement was low in the area. The area didn’t see any real importance until General Jackson arrived in the area during the Creek War, and ordered Fort Jackson built on the site.
The Fort is certainly worth visiting for anyone in the Montgomery, Alabama area. The area remains undeveloped, aiding the step back into the past. A replica fort sits on the site, and was alive with activity as French soldiers and civilians went about their daily life. We arrived in time to see the local garrison form up, march, and raise the Kingdom of France flag used during the time of King Louis XV. The children spoke with locals as they spun wool, churned butter, baked bread, and went about their day. They met a Coureur des bois, a French-Canadian woodsmen who lived between the worlds of the French and the local natives. He was replacing the flint on his .69 caliber Charleville musket, a heavy weapon of ten pounds, in preparation for the upcoming skirmish with British forces. Outside the Fort we ventured into the nearby Indian outpost, and met the Muskogee (Creek) Indians. The children greeted using the Muskogee words the Coureur des bois had taught them. There they found children their age using rocks to crack open acorns, prime ingredient for the unique experience that is acorn bread. We visited the local merchants circled outside the fort, and spent some time with the Blacksmith as he quickly and expertly forged nails in rapid fashion. Next we journeyed westward to a field where a British unit was encamped. Guards patrolled the perimeter, and most of the unit was “enjoying” a lunch of dried meat and fruit, and slightly moldy bread. We spoke with a Royal Artilleryman about the unit’s one pound breech-loading swivel gun. He admitted it was cast with river boat defense in mind, and thus the limited bore, but felt it provided physiological advantage fighting land forces. We met a British Lieutenant that was dismayed at our small French flags, and expressed contempt for our ancestry. He extorted the virtues of the English way and was confident of victory in the upcoming battle.
We walked onward to the site of Fort Jackson, a sizeable frontier fort common to the Napoleonic era. Not much remains, raised dirt shows one bastion, and a small stone building. The rest of the fort site is defined by gentle earthen ditches and ridges. Further towards the river we saw a small, forested hill. Not much to look at now, but it was a ceremonial mound built by the Mississippian Indians over a thousand years ago. We made our way back to the field by the British encampment, where we watched the French and British forces engage in linear fashion. Unlike the skirmish earlier in the day, the Muskogee and Coureur des bois stayed in the relative safety of the trees since they didn’t have the advantage of surprise. The two lines of the regulars and militia approached and raked each other with musket volleys. Men dropped on both sides, but the British line eventually pushed the French off the field.
We left mid-afternoon, as the heat index was in the high eighties; Alabama has a humid subtropical climate. Despite the heat, I heartily recommend visiting the Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson State Historic Site, particularly during re-enactments which bring the Fort to life and offer a glimpse into the past.

Anniston,AL Museum of Natural History

I like to try and find places the kids have never been before or an educational area we haven’t touched on yet. I found out the the Anniston Museum of Natural History was going to have a presentation about animal teeth. It promised live animals so I knew that even Pooh and Baby Kermit would enjoy it. The other great thing is all of the kids really seem to love Science.

Anniston is about 2 hours from Montgomery so we tried to leave in order to arrive at the museum when it opened. Things didn’t go as planned but we did get there in enough time to walk through part of the museum before the presentation.

The presentation was amazing. The woman giving the class was great with the kids. She let the kids take turns answering and asking questions. She has actual skulls or replica fossils to pass around. The kids were able to touch them and inspect the teeth. She presented each animal and talked about its teeth and how it uses its teeth or lack there of. No one was allowed to touch the animals but all the kids respected this. I think the addition of being able to touch the skulls and replicas helped alot with this. Duke seem to get the most excited about the little Alligator. He talked the rest of the day about how he was gonna get his Uncle Kenny to get him an Alligator. The girls weren’t exactly happy about going about first but they really did enjoy the show. I know at least Duke and Bubbles know by looking at an animals mouth what type of food it eats. I call that a win.

After the presentation we went out side to take our lunch break. The kids really do start to act like they have never eaten by noon. I had taken the easy route that day and bought lunchables over our usual PB&J sandwiches.

The kids ate lunch pretty quickly because they were excited to go back inside and explore the rest of the museum. I think the kids favorite parts of the museum were the Birds of the Americas and Dynamic Earth. The took turns choosing a bird or birds to have their picture taken by. Of course Duke opted for the Alligator instead. I think his Uncle Kenny has turned him into a Gator fan. We probably could have spent another hour or so just wondering around taking everything in but we had plans to visit Kevin and Crystal at their house. We wrapped our trip there up with the purchase of some postcards for me to send to our nieces and nephews and were on our way.

This has got to be one of the best Natural History Museums we have ever been too. It is definitely a close second to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in DC.  In you live in Alabama or are planning a trip this is a must see. It was totally worth driving out of our way to see.


Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival

I don’t remember ever going to a Medieval or Renaissance Festival growing up. If I did I may have gone with school. What I do remember is that I loved that era alot. I remember in 6th grade one of my teachers having us get our parents sign a permission slip to watch First Knight. A memorable movie for sure. I have recently started watching the show Merlin and it has rekindled my love for the Medieval/Renaissance era.

One day I was looking up events on FB when I came across the Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival that my twin (not really my twin but maybe) was interested in. Since our move to Alabama I have been looking for fun things to do. Driving a couple of hours or even 20 minutes is nothing for us after living in DC. Anyways, I got super excited and reminded George how much we have loved going in the past. He agreed that we should go and I started making plans.

It only made since to me that since Keri had shared the information that we should go on this adventure together. She agreed to drive down from Birmingham with her boys to meet us there. We settled on the Friday not only to beat the crowds but to take advantage of the student/teacher discount.

We met Keri and her boys plus they brought along a friend,at the gate. Keri even went as far as to photo bomb the picture I had George take of me and the kids. It was the best photo bomb in the history of photo bombing.We watched a joust, a Raptor birds demonstration, a glass vase be made and chatted with a blacksmith all before lunch. I would have to say the kewlest part of the jousting was the huge Clydesdale. They even had it to where you could ride it if you wanted to. The Raptor demonstration was really neat because the guy showed us several different birds and they flew pretty close. Two different birds flew into a tree above my head while the kids had birds fly over there heads. The glass blower had alot of very beautiful pumpkins. I was so worried on of the kids would break one. The blacksmith had Bubbles try her hand at banging on some metal.

Six flagging it? Keri-“Growing up we would get to go to Six Flags but my parents couldn’t afford for us to eat inside so that’s what we would do.Then we came up with the term.” So we Six Flagged it for lunch and sat in the shade of our big van in the parking lot. We had sandwiches, fruit, carrot sticks, and graham crackers. It was alot warmer than it had been in 5 days or so and Pooh got a little sick. Either he ate too fast or got too hot.

The other kids were done eating lunch so Pooh stayed with Dad in the Air Conditioned van while we went to check out more of the shops. The shops had all sorts of kewl stuff. The boys all got swords. Bubbles picked out a beautiful fan. Jem picked out a long pair of very obvious Oh I love Harry Potter socks. Pippi, Keri, and I all picked out bell dancer hip scarves. George picked out soap goat soup and I bought him some jam.

After our shopping we were looking for a play about Arthur but found Bagpipes instead. We sat and listened for a little while before deciding we should keep trying to find the other show. We somehow split up and had very differing experiences. I took the older four to what seemed like a haphazard display. The man talked about armor, building houses and other things. I thought the kids would get bored but I think they could have spent hours talking to the man dressed in true garb. The rest of the group watched a guy do magic tricks. The kids really seemed to have enjoyed it.

The piece ala resistance was the junior knighting ceremony. The kids went up in groups of three to be knighted by the king of the festival. This was a very cute and kewl ceremony. The girls were even able to participate. They were more excited about doing it after hearing that one of their favorite teachers from the Harry Potter series had been knighted. The girls went last and then George was ready to head home. We said goodbye to Keri, her boys, and their friend. It was a very fun and educational day.

We were able to be apart of Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festivals 1st Student Day as well as 2nd year to exist. I knew it was going to be smaller than ones we have gone to in the past but I was still just as excited. I was also very happy to find on the website on the school page a Classroom guide which includes worksheets, history, and project ideas. We did a few of the worksheets and discussed things a week before our field trip. The kids each chose a project to do for a prize. The projects are due Friday so I will be sharing the final products next week.