Friday Hike-Stephens Road Nature Preserve

Environthon proved to be an amazing experience for my older two children.  The downside of the class was that we were not able to take our Friday hikes.  Well with environthon over, we decided to hit the trails at Stephens Road Nature Preserve.

Friday Hike-Rural Hill

Untitled drawing

Today we headed out into the rain to hike the trail around Rural Hill (a historic farm in Huntersville, NC).  Typically, we hike in areas where there are few signs of people.  Today, the trail had bricks, old asphalt, and rocks all through it.  A very rare telephone poll tree stood in the forest.  ;)  We found that the trail is more of a historic walk than a hiking trail.  Throughout the walk, information plates shared the history of the land and the dwelling remnants around us.  The land is beautiful and mystical.






Chicken Egg? Our guess is that this egg was another animal’s lunch.


Through the fields


Through the fields


Beautiful Clover


More Clover


No idea, but a really neat plant


I love the rain drops on this daisy!

Sharing my Story-Bleeding Disorders

I know that health is not a typical topic on this blog, but I am adding it today.  Saturday morning I awoke early to head a little north to Greensboro, NC for the NC Hemophilia Conference with a friend.  Saturday’s conference was my first experience at a hemophilia conference-actually, it was my first experience participating in anything to do with hemophilia.  I had no expectations.

The main speaker for the conference happened to be Jeanne White-Ginder.  My friend gasped with anticipation when she heard the speaker’s name.  I did not know the name.  Man, did I get the surprise of the year.  Jeanne White-Ginder is the mother of Ryan White, a boy with hemophilia who contracted HIV through a transfusion and who became an amazing advocate for people with HIV and AIDS.  His mother shared their journey together and his story.

I wanted to attend the conference mainly to participate in the SOAR (Support Outreach Advocacy Resources for Women and Girls with Bleeding Disorders) program.  From the program, I realized that most women are in their 30’s before they are diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, unless they have a parent with a known bleeding disorder.  Most women do not think that they may have a bleeding disorder until they begin to hear stories.  Sharing stories helps spread the word.  So here is my story:

One day I accompanied my friend to her hematology appointment.  While in the office, the physician asked me what my story was.  I was shocked by his comment.  He immediately commented on how anemic I looked.  After  many blood tests and going through my history, I found out that I have a platelet disorder that prevents me from clotting.  How did I make it 32 years without knowing that I had a bleeding disorder?  Disorganized and disjointed health care? Not knowing normal bleeding?  Lack of communication among women?

So what in my history were the red flags?

  • Nose bleeds as a child.  Not just any nose bleeds, but one to two hour long nos bleeds that went through boxes of tissues and required cauterization to stop.
  • Heavy menstrual cycles.  As a young teen and young woman, my cycle would last for almost 2 weeks at a time and were far from normal.
  • Bruising.  I have bruises ALL-THE-TIME.
  • Long healing time.  I take a long time to heal from sprains, strains, surgeries, etc.
  • Heavy bleeding during surgeries.  I have had several surgeries.  All had bleeding complications or prolonged healing (one surgery required drains for 3 days-my drains stayed for 3 weeks).
  • Heavy bleeding after births which eventually required an endometrial ablation.
  • Anemia and VERY LOW ferritin levels.
  • Bleeding gums when I floss and when I go to the dentist.

I am forever thankful to my friend for taking me to her appointment.  Because of her, my children will have a different experience. We can be proactive for all that life brings.  Why will I start sharing my story?  I hope to help someone as my friend helped me.

There are many resources out there on hemophilia and bleeding disorders.  Personally, I keep in touch through the Hemophilia of North Carolina Website and the SOAR website.

The Changes of Spring!

What represents spring more than butterflies?  Butterflies fluttering around in the wild flowers immediately makes me think of spring.  If you follow my blog, you have seen many, many butterfly pictures through the years.

For some reason, I decided that I really wanted to watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis this year.  In years past all I needed to do was walk outside to find a caterpillar, but not this year.  The little guys must have known my motive!

I resorted to ordering caterpillars online.  The little guys showed up in a small containers with all of their needs met.  The process is amazing.  The caterpillars were about 1.5 centimeters when they arrived.  However, those hungry little caterpillars doubled in size within days!

When each caterpillar decided it had eaten enough to survive for 7-10 days without eating, it climbed to the top of the container and hung upside down.  It then curled up into a J formation and attempted to form a chrysalis (I say attempted because the other caterpillars liked to poke the ones in a J).  After about 45 minutes, the caterpillars would expand its body and secrete some substance (this is the technical name for it, I am sure).  Next the exoskeleton was shed while the chrysalis began forming.  Finally, the little guy would move its body until it was spinning for about 60  seconds.  It then relaxed and began its change!

For 7-8 days, the butterfly habitat was quiet.

The day of butterflies!  We spent almost an entire day watching the butterflies emerge from each chrysalis.  Is is amazing!  Did you know that they use their eyes to break a whole in the chrysalis?  I had no idea.  Then they pull themselves out.

Out of 12 caterpillars, all 12 survived but one was injured.  It had a very difficult time emerging from its chrysalis and it must have injured its wings in the process (we named him Chuck after Chuck Norris who played Walker Texas Ranger).

Yesterday we released the butterflies into the garden!


Pin It! Maps

The following is simply my thoughts on this curriculum.  I purchased it on my own and did not receive any items for this review.

Do your kids enjoy geography?  Are you looking for a way to bring more geography into your home?  Check out Pin It! Maps.

I read about Pin It! Maps first on Simple Homeschool.  I fell in love with the program when I read through the website.  The curriculum uses a hands-on approach to teaching geography.

So far, we only have the land and water forms map.  The package came with two pieces of Styrofoam, a laminated map, a control sheet, and “flags” with the land and water forms.  The website contains a wealth of information including activity cards, three part cards with the land forms, and more.

All of us enjoy the program and finding real life examples of each land and water form.  We also love that we can do the program individually or as a group.

I look forward to adding the world map and the map of the USA next year to expand our geography knowledge!

Latta Plott Hounds Environthon Team

Environthon!! Enviro-what?

Last year I went on a search for environmental education classes for my crew.  All three of my kiddos LOVE learning about nature, the outdoors, and our environment.  Thanks to google, I found a program called Environthon.  Now at that time, I thought Environthon would be a fun way for my kids to go a little more in depth with their environmental studies.

My mind was blown when I heard about all of the information that an Environthon program goes through.  I decided to ask one of our instructors at Latta Plantation Nature Center her opinion on the Environthon program and our children.  She thought our crew would do well, but she thought that they would need a full a year to prepare.


So in September of this school year, we pulled together a group of 7 kids to start an Environthon team.   Our group of 7 middle schoolers met once a week to learn about aquatics, forestry, wild life, soils and current environmental issues.   They hiked.  They measured.  They identified.  They  learned how to take tests took practice tests.  The class was intense but fun.

March 8th came fast!  The day of truth.  6 of the 7 children went to compete at the area Environthon competition.  At the competition, the kids work as a group of 5 (one person on the team is an alternate just in case someone is ill) to take a test.  The test covered information on forestry, wild life, aquatics, soils and current environmental issues.  We were excited that the kids were going and that they had made it through the class.

To our surprise, they qualified to compete at the state level Environthon!  7 more weeks of studying meeting with friends weekly!


The state competition required a road trip with an over night stay.  The kids had a blast hanging out together.  The team spent Friday going to educational stations on each area covered to review for the test and of course, doing some team building activities like playing sharks and minnows and hanging out in their hotel rooms.

Saturday they headed to the testing stations.  The state test humbled our team by showing them how much they still have to learn!  They did not make the top 5, but they did well.  As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud of the how hard they all worked and all that they learned.

Most states have Environthon programs.  If you have a middle or high schooler who loves being outdoors, check it out!