Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Washington D.C. Trip

Family Takes School
to Washington D.C.!

Home Schooling definitely doesn't mean sitting around in the house all the time! This Fall we took to the road and headed to Washington D.C for the ultimate learning experience.

As with so many other things in home schooling, we began our trip by first checking out the internet to get maps, information and details about Washington and the many sites to see. One of the best links was to the United States Information Agency, along with the official sites for the Senate, House and White House.

View from the FDR Memorial, back across the Tidal Basin. (you can tell this was Day 1!)

We did science experiments at the Smithsonian and the Capital Children's Museum, saw the actual Declaration of Independence, visited Arlington Cemetery and ALL the monuments, watched the new $20 bills being printed, and basically walked our way through American history for four days.

The whole trip was capped off with a tour of the White House on Friday, and then a marathon drive home.

Saturday, May 1, 1999

Maggie joins the family

"Magnolia May" Makes Her Entrance
Major Changes in the Family!

1999 proved to be a year of great change for the Burkes. As the '98-'99 school year drew to a close, we made the decision to transition the boys back into regular school this Fall. It was a tough decision, given that we've home schooled for three years now and loved nearly every minute of it, but it felt right for us in so many ways. And it was certainly easier to make the decision knowing that we've got such great schools here in Huntsville.

Home schooling left us with at least one lasting stamp on our lives, though! At the end-of-year picnic for our home school group we were introduced to young Magnolia May and her siblings, a litter of half Lab - half Australian Shepherds which one of the families was giving away for free.

It proved to be an offer we couldn't refuse, so we added the first new member of our family since Philip arrived. Tigger and Piglet, our 13 year old cats, continue to be largely unamused by Maggie and her puppy enthusiasm, but they seem to have developed something of a watchful truce between them. Maggie attended puppy school to become the refined southern belle (with limited success), but she is most definitely one of the family now!

Thursday, April 15, 1999

Camping Trip

Camping at Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee

Spring Break 1999 was kicked off with a family camping trip up to Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee. Not only was this our first chance to use some of the camping gear that Santa brought us at Christmas, it was also our first real solo camping trip as a family. We picked Fall Creek Falls State Park based on the recommendations of friends, having never even heard of the place before, and we were THRILLED with the place! There are actually several falls at the park, including the name sake, which is reputed to be second only to Niagara in height in the eastern US.

The campground was also wonderful, and we found a really nice site, where the boys quickly engineered a first-rate campfire. The weather cooperated nicely, even considering the short thunderstorm that blew through late on our second afternoon there. The rain and wind stayed around just long enough to give us confidence in the integrity of our tents, then blew away to reveal that Tennessee has WAY more stars than Huntsville!

A return trip is already in the works, and this time we're bringing our bikes!

Monday, February 15, 1999

Taking to the Slopes

Philip Gets Quality Time With the Grandparents
While the Rest of Us Head Sugar Mt. in North Carolina

In February, we threw caution to the wind and headed for the hills of North Carolina for a ski trip with the boys, while Philip stayed at home with grandparents for a week of undivided attention. Neither of the older boys had ever been skiing before, so it was with interest (more like awe!) that we watched them take to it immediately, and head for the black diamond slopes without a second thought. It was a great time, made even better by the fact that we got snowed on several times while we were there. Up until that point several of the local slopes had even had to close down for lack of snow!