Thursday, July 29, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas

trip back from colorado 095

This week’s edition of Field Trip Friday is another outing that I took sans children on my recent trip to Colorado. I have to tell you that I discovered there is no shortage of historical hot spots in Kansas- particularly along I-70! I was tempted to stop and stretch my legs at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum which includes his boyhood home when I saw a billboard alerting me that it was in the local vicinity. It couldn’t have been easier to find. I simply followed the signs that directed me off the interstate and headed straight into Abilene. I had no idea that  this little 2 mile by 2 mile nearly square town is full of some of the wildest West History in Kansas. Abilene was the last stop on the Chisholm Trail, boasting it was once home to Wild Bill Hickok who served a very short term as Abilene’s sheriff.   You won’t find anything commemorating him, but you will find a beautiful, sprawling campus that is now part of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which is what I stopped to see in the first place so I was determined not to get side tracked. 

I knew this would be a special treat and actually felt a wee bit guilty stopping without my family because they’d have loved this one too. Unfortunately, I still had quite a drive ahead of me and didn’t want to take the 2-3 hours necessary to enjoy the site to it’s fullest, but even the hour I spent was a welcome break to stretch my legs.

I began with a short stop in the visitor’s center that has an awesome gift shop filled with all things Ike, and even shows a short 24 minute movie every half hour. Though I would have loved to have seen it, I had that time thing working against me.

trip back from colorado 037 I did slow down enough to explore the tiny home where young Dwight grew up. A guided tour of the home is offered continuously.  Unfortunately the pictures I took inside didn’t turn out because flash photography isn’t permitted but if you’d like to take a peek for yourself, you can take a peek at the online tour. The home was last occupied by Ida Eisenhower, Dwight’s mother,  who lived in the home until her death in 1946. The home has been shown as a museum with the original furnishings  since 1947.

trip back from colorado 060 After exploring the home, I took a moment to visit the Place of Meditation, the final resting place of President Eisenhower, his wife Mamie, and their firstborn son, Doud Dwight,  who preceded them in death. Inside you will see quotations from the famous president and general, including this one that I really found profound:

"The real fire within the builders of America was faith -- faith in a Provident God whose hand supported and guided them: faith in themselves as the children of God ... faith in their country and its principles that proclaimed man's right to freedom and justice."
Abilene Homecoming, Abilene, Kansas, June 4, 1952

Pretty incredible, huh?

I did not visit the Presidential Library which serves primarily as a research facility, thoutrip back from colorado 064gh it does have a quilt display that is shown at this time. I also did not visit the museum, which is the only building on the campus that charges an admission fee. It wasn’t the cost that scared me off, but rather the fact that I didn’t have enough time to really explore. I’m hoping to make a return trip with my family sometime in the future; maybe on the way to next year’s Savvy Blogging Summit.  I did take the time to walk along the grounds and must say that if you are in the area of Abilene, this is one of the stops I would highly recommend. Referred to as one of the Top Ten Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a highly esteemed military leader who received the great honor of Five Star General, no wonder it’s the best known attraction in Abilene! It’s even listed as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas which means that I saw two on this trip and didn’t even know it until I was back home in Alabama! Planning to be in the area and want some more information? You can call 877-RING-IKE or stop by 200 S.E. 4th Street. You’ll also find lesson plans from the website here and if you’d like to download my field trip notebooking pages you can do that here.

Once again, if you’ve been on an outing that you’d like to share feel free to link up to to this week’s Field Trip Friday. Of course you’re welcome to snag the cute button and I’d be appreciative if you’d link back to my site.  Until next week~ Happy Field Trippin’!     participated in FTF

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lijit: A Great Search Tool for Bloggers!

Have you seen this little box on my sidebar? I hope so! This is a new and improved way that you can search my blog and actually find what you’re looking for!lijit searchIf you’ve searched on my blog in the past, you will know that my Google search just wasn’t doing the trick and I just couldn’t figure it out. It couldn’t find anything. Ever. I even reinstalled it and it still didn’t do what it was supposed to do which was help you find what you’re looking for.   

When I heard share with us at the Savvy Blogging Summit, just what their search could do, I was hooked and couldn’t sign up fast enough for this FREE service! Just what grabbed my attention?

  • Lijit allows your readers to search not only your blog, but anywhere on the web you can be found. Yep, that means Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Digg,, YouTube- other blogs that you write for, you can create your own search engine by telling Lijit where to look.
  • Lijit also keeps stats for you. Want to know what your readers are searching for? Lijit will let you know. As a blogger this is very helpful. If you’re here looking for information about traveling to Atlanta and I haven’t written any posts on that topic, but we’ve been there, I know to get busy because there is an interest. Of course I want to write about what interests you.
  • You can earn revenue when you choose to enable Lijit ads- but you are not obligated to do so.
  • Lijit is FREE, no need to pay to have an alternative to Google.

There you have it, why I chose to switch from Google search to Lijit. If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit and find out if Lijit is for you. In the meantime, I hope you do take advantage of my new search feature if you’re looking for something specific on my blog- I know it’s been incredibly beneficial for me!

So, what do you think? Interested in giving Lijit a try?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The New Adventure has Begun!

I have so much to share with you- I am so excited! Earlier in the month I told you that we were indeed going to move forward with our house idea- and we couldn’t have made that decision at a better time! While I was away at the Savvy Blogging Summit, my husband was offered yet another promotion that would definitely  keep us in this area and he decided to take it and I couldn’t be happier for him!

About that same time, a house was offered to us and we decided to rent it, sight unseen. Well, we did peek at the outside and decided it would do and we began to eagerly anticipate the day we would leave the camper and move into the house. And though we’ve lived in the camper for just over a year, I have to tell you that the past few weeks have been extremely stressful for all of us. Tempers have flared more over the course of the past couple weeks than in the total 15 previous months! Why? Because once we made the decision to move…it really couldn’t have happened fast enough but though we were ready to go, the current tenant in the house apparently wasn’t as ready to move. We thought my family would be moving while I was in Colorado but the days kept passing by and still we didn’t have the keys in our hands.

With friends scheduled to arrive from Ohio this Sunday, we were really cutting it close, but yesterday (Friday) we got our keys and a peek at our house. After living in such tiny quarters for so long, it couldn’t be more perfect! We are all loving it. So, it is time. The day I have both anticipated and dreaded has arrived. And it couldn’t be clearer to me that after five years of traveling with my husbands job, we are all ready to really be secure when we call something home. No more moving for us. We’re home and I couldn’t feel more blessed.   

Stay tuned…I’ll load a quick tour that my daughter took of the house.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Field Trip Friday: North Alabama Railroad Museum


railroad crossing signs Well, keeping up our pace, the kids and I headed out to explore yet another local attraction, the North Alabama Railroad Museum. This was the second time we had stopped, but the museum is operated by volunteers and may not always be manned. For that reason, I suggest calling ahead before your visit. The museum grounds are open 7 days a week so you can see the trains, but if you want to see the tiny museum housed in the depot, or hope to get access to the caboose,  you’ll need to do so when volunteers are present.

When you arrive, your first stop should be NARM historic train depot to the Chase Depot, the yellow and green building shown in the picture. There is a box on the outside of the building that holds brochures and a paper detailing the self-guided tour which includes a map of the grounds.  Inside the depot, you will see a small display of railroad artifacts and displays. The depot was one of the smallest union depots in the country and served the Southern Railway, Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railways.  The depot you will see today is the second built on this site. The original depot contained two waiting rooms during the days of segregation, an agent’s office and a freight room. 

We were a little bit confused about where to go from here. Though the map details north alabama railroad museum 039 the buildings, we weren’t entirely sure what was open to the public and what wasn’t. I guess my advice to you would be to wander around, if it’s locked, it’s not open. Lucky for us, there were plenty of volunteers on hand since it was a work day and we were quickly whisked off to get a glimpse of the caboose.  The caboose is part of the display train and though you’ll find a plaque on the bottom of the car telling you what it was used for, this is the only part of the train that you are permitted to tour unless you arrive on a special departure day when the excursion train is running.

north alabama railroad museum 036One of the volunteers ushered us into the caboose. All I can say is wow, was it hot in there! I really think that the volunteer would have talked more about the train car if it hadn’t been so unbearably hot! We were interested in the commode that seemed to be stuck in the middle of the room. It was explained that men and women didn’t work together at that time so the two men who shared the caboose had less need for privacy. It was really interesting to peek under the lid and see that the toilet drained directly below. See the picture on the right? That’s gravel. Don’t think the EPA would let you get away with that now, would they? Of course if I remember right, this caboose was last used in the 1940’s- things have changed a bit since then.

north alabama railroad museum 032 The guys in the caboose would sit in the bay like window seats in the caboose, which would allow them a clear view of the train. They’d watch intently for axles that appeared to be overheating. We did see one that had overheated and as you can imagine, a broken axle would create a heap of trouble.

We also got to north alabama railroad museum 041take a peek in the vintage, restored Amtrak train that is still operational. Today it is used on select dates to transport visitors along the 10 –mile Mercury & Chase Railroad.  If you ask my children what they learned on this one, I don’t think they’d be able to tell you much. We discovered that it’s a bit hard to concentrate when you are literally dripping with sweat! My suggestion would be that if you happen to be in the Historic Chase community on a Wednesday, you could stop to stretch your legs and have a quick look around. It won’t take you too long, maybe 30-45 minutes tops. If you’re going to spend any significant amount of time traveling to this attraction, call ahead and see if you can schedule a tour. I really think if you received a tour it would make the difference between this being an okay stop and a gem of a field trip. You can reach the North Alabama Railroad Museum by calling 256-851-6276 or by stopping in at 694 Chase Rd. N.E. Huntsville. You can see more of the pictures from our trip at the Live the Adventure Facebook Fanpage. If you do plan to go you may want to download the free notebooking pages that I created.    Thanks for linking up to Field Trip Friday! Feel free to grab your cute button and once again, it’s not mandatory, but I would love it if you’d help Field Trip Friday to grow by offering a link back here.  participated in FTF

Until next week~ Happy Field Trippin'!

Field Trip Notebook Pages

Here's a generic notebook page which should work for any field trips that you take with your family or homeschool group. Field Trip Notebook Pages

Our Experience with Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others

This year I’m excitedly embarking on a voyage with the TOS Crew, a group of over 200 bloggers sharing reviews and insights on curriculum and materials of interest to homeschooling families. I’m especially excited to share my first practice review because I contributed travel tips to this really fun e-book, Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others and had planned to share this travel kitsproduct with you anyway!

My first experience with travel kits actually took place before I read this book. In fact, I’ve been pulling travel kits together for my own family on special occasions for years! Our travel kits consisted of heading to the nearest dollar store and filling a bag with a selection of kid friendly, car friendly, games, crafts and toys for each of my children to break up the sometimes monotonous travel time that seems to appear somewhere around the second or third hour of on the road time, depending on the mood of my children.

I’ve introduced travel kits a couple different ways. Sometimes I’ve applied the ‘all-at-once-method’ where I’ve just handed the bags over to my eager children at the beginning of our journey. Other times, I’ve taken the ‘one-at-a-time-approach’ which has allowed me to divide up the treats along our route and choose in advance, or as temperament dictated, when I’d pass out a special treat. Sometimes this would be at the 60 mile mark, as we crossed into a new state or when the kids had been especially well behaved and I simply wanted to offer a reward for their efforts.  As far as occupying the kids went, the latter approach was certainly preferred.

What I love about the Travel Kits e-book is that even though I had developed ‘travel kits’ of my own, this e-book takes travel kits one step further and really gets your creative juices flowing by focusing on blessing others. What are ways that you can bless another family with a travel kit? How about a family that is embarking on a cross country move? Or a family ‘taking a trip’ to a nearby hospital for some type of treatment? Or a family traveling to see extended family for the holidays? What about blessing grandparents or other adults that you know?  The possibilities are endless.  

And as you can see from the sample of the e-book, this product is certainly more than the title suggests. Not only will you find ways to personalize a travel kit for each recipient on your list, for any occasion that arises, you’ll also find resources, tips and suggestions for alleviating some of the stress that comes from family travel. As a result, your entire family will reap the benefits that this resource offers. Not only will you have a great time putting together your own Travel Kit, but you’ll have an even better time blessing someone with it, as the name suggests, whether that would be your own family or someone outside your family.

This e-book  is offered by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and is available as an instant download for the purchase price of $12.45 through the Schoolhouse Store. While you’re there you may enjoy browsing through the additional selection of homeschool materials and e-books that are offered. Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to take my word for it that this is a great resource, you can read what other Crew members have to say about Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others here.

Just so you know, I was offered a copy of this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recordings of the Savvy Blogging Summit are Here!

I am really excited to let you know that you can learn everything I learned at the Savvy Blogging Summit right now from the comfort of your own home! The awesome Savvy Blogging Team has released the recordings from each of the classes for you to purchase!

You can listen to the Keynote speaker for FREE, purchase individual classes for $10 or purchase the entire series for only $97!

Click here to visit Savvy Blogging

That’s one great deal!

Just so you know, if you click on the link above and make a purchase, a percentage of your purchase will be credited to my account at no cost to you, which will allow me to begin saving for next year’s summit.

A Fun Stop in Breckenridge, Colorado: Art on a Whim

I love art. In fact, when I was in school, my art teacher was disappointed when I decided to end my art studies and signed up for classes at the local technical school. He’d really hoped that I’d have pursued a career in art, namely jewelry design. He must have seen something in my work that I didn’t because I just didn’t get it and certainly didn’t have the confidence to go on.

art on a whim 006 I’ve always thought of myself as someone that appreciates art more than someone that creates art. Which is why I love visiting art museums and art galleries and I was so excited to literally stumble across a unique, whimsical shop nestled in the midst of Breckenridge on my recent visit to Colorado. Allow me to introduce Art on a Whim, featuring artwork designed to inspire you and make you laugh. 

I loved this gallery for several reasons, one, the owners are so friendly and knowledgeable about the art and artists. They truly love the pieces thart on a whim 005at they sell and it shows. Many of the pieces have personal meaning to the owner, as she shared with me some of the artwork that was created specifically with her in mind.

Like many art galleries that sell fine art, the artwork and artists that are showcased are handpicked, yet I’ve never been at a gallery where the artists have been represented on such a personal basis.  Art on a Whim consists mainly of local artists or artists that have been chosen  because their art is truly remarkable and unique. Each of the artists represented in the gallery are considered to be family as far as the owner is concerned and even stay with her when they are visiting from out of town. Therefore each piece of work is personal not only to the artists, but to the owner as well and her love for art and passion for the extraordinary is infectious.

When you buy a art on a whim 003piece of art, you’ll learn the story behind it. You’ll hear of the artists love for their craft and know that you’ve purchased something impeccable. There really is something for everyone, from eclectic mixed media canvases with glass beads and silk strings that create beautiful Aspen motifs, to fascinating kinetic wood sculptures, to bronze statues, silver jewelry, hand rolled glass, watercolors,  pottery and Paper Mache sculptures. I found the prices to be reasonable and varied; there is simply something to fit any budget.

Art on a Whim is  a store that the whole family can enjoy. Personally, I didn’t see any reason why parents’ wouldn’t be able to enter through its doors with well behaved children in tow. Of course I wouldn’t turn them loose, but you could certainly browse through the collection with your children beside you.  My teens would have loved it and as I walked through, I found pieces that they each would have loved which is what inspired me to purchase this piece as a house warming present, but you’d just have to see our own beloved family pet to see why it is so special.

So, if you ever find yourself in Breckenridge, Colorado, make sure to pop into Art on a Whim, especially if you’re there on the 2nd Saturday of the month where you’ll be treated to appetizers and wine and you may just bump into one of the artists that are showcased in this amazing little shop, which is sure to be a special treat in itself. You’ll find Art on a Whim at 100 N. Main St. If you happen to be looking for a special gift for the art lover in your life, they also offer convenient online ordering at               

TOS Crew Blog Walk: Week 6

Presenting  Week 6, for your reading pleasure.

1. Deanna’s Corner
2. Light, Liberty, and Learning
3. Bunny Trails
4. Flowers N Plaid Homeschool
5. Gadow Ohana
6. His Wonderful Works
7. Expand
8. Confessions of a Homeschooler
9. The Sojourner
10. A Full Heart

Are you finding new blogs to read?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Introducing FREE Notebooking/Coloring Pages!

I’m really excited to introduce my new line of notebooking/coloring pages for your printing pleasure! These pages are all FREE of charge, you just need to download them and print them from your own printer.  If you would like to share them with your friends, please direct them to my site so I can determine whether there is enough interest in these pages to keep them going.  So, what do you think?

Historic Fort Hays Coloring/Notebooking Page

Historic Fort Hays: Another stop in Kansas

trip back from colorado 003

I’d actually spent the night in Hays, Kansas on the way to Colorado. Can’t say that I was overly impressed with the hotel I stayed at but I did sleep well enough- even if I did sleep with the TV on so I didn’t have to hear the ramblings and goings on of those in the rooms nearby.  After leaving Hays, I’d decided that this was one town that I’d probably not stop at again. Certainly not to spend the night- that’s for sure! However, a lover of all things unique and historic, I couldn’t quite pass up a quick trip to Historic Fort Hays on my return trip through Kansas on the way back to Alabama. I was disappointed to find that it was closed when I arrived and though I am somewhat adventurous, I did not enjoy meandering the grounds by myself.   It would be really helpful if the hours could be posted on billboards so you don’t drive 15 minutes out of your way to an attraction that is not open on Sundays! OK…rant over.

Just what is Fort Hays anyway? Fort Hays, originally named Fort Fletcher was a frontier outpost managed by the US Army to protect the stage and freight wagons trip back from colorado 005 heading West to Denver, from Indian attacks.  Fort Fletcher was abandoned for several reasons, and reopened as Fort Hays, essentially to aid the railway crews. After a flood destroyed the fort and killed several of the soldiers, the fort was moved to closer proximity to the railroad, making it more practical to guard.  The fort resembled a frontier town and was designed as a supply post. Fort Hays was abandoned in 1889.

The Kansas Historical Society manages several buildings at the Old Fort site that trip back from colorado 004 visitors are now able to tour, including the 1867 blockhouse, 1872 guardhouse and two of the frame officer’s quarters.  I found it interesting that 46 commanding officers served Fort Hays between 1867-1889. That’s a pretty high turn over!  I’d loved to have spent more time here, learning about the black soldiers, or buffalo soldiers, that served here, had it been open.

I could almost imagine what it would have been like for a trip back from colorado 021 soldier stationed here in the summer heat. Surrounded by the threat of Indian attack in the midst of the wide open spaces, buffalo quietly grazing in the fields. If we ever head back to Kansas, I’ll add this on our list of places to visit- as the history surrounding Fort Hays certainly appeals to the history lovers in my household. It is located on the edge of town with a nice park across the road where you’ll find picnic tables and get a great view of the neighboring buffalo. If you’re in the area or passing through, and are looking for a place to stretch your legs,  this is one attraction worth stopping for- even if it’s not officially open- and it’s only about a 15 minute drive from the Cathedral of the Plains.  You can find more information as well as operating hours by calling 785-625-6812 or if you're in the area, you'll find Fort Hays at  1472 US Highway 183 Alt, Hays, Kansas. Don't forget to download your free notebooking/coloring page before your visit!Historic Fort Hays Coloring/Notebooking Page

Monday, July 19, 2010

Savvy Blogging Summit: Let’s Talk about Community, Personalization and Monetization Part II

Last week,  I covered some of the key points that J.D. Roth brought up at the Savvy Blogging Summit opening presentation. I couldn’t wait to attend the rest of his workshops after listening to him that first night. Not only that, but I began to feel that maybe I really could take my blog where I’d like to see it go.   

I heard a lot of the same ideas reiterated among several of the summit speakers and sponsors, which included getting personal- sharing your story and building community.

So how does a blogger go about building community?

  1. Know who your readers are. You can do this by conducting a survey,  reading their blogs, interacting on a Facebook page and adding an online forum or community to your blog.  
  2. Respond to personal questions and reply to your readers. I try to do this. If you email me, I WILL email back. If you comment on the blog, I try to comment back here, on your blog or shoot you an email.
  3. Focus on a story and sharing. I guess this is kind of what I do with Field Trip Friday, but on a small scale. I post what we’ve been up to and ask you to link up field trips and outings that you’ve been on with your family. I have a few ideas that I’d like to try in the days to come that would allow each of you to share your stories as well so I can learn from you too.
  4. Encourage guest posts, ask your readers questions and include links and round-ups to your readers blogs and projects. You’ll also see more of this in the days to come. And, if any of you are interested in guest posting, I’m open to that too!

So, what about monetization? That’s a controversial term here in the blogging world. Some bloggers are making money, some are opposed to making money. Me? I’d love to earn some gas money without turning my blog into an online commercial.

What steps can you take in the quest to earn a dollar? First, you need to think about the big picture. Where do you see your blog down the road? Think in terms of 5-10 years. Where do you want to take it? If you’re going to effectively monetize your site, you need to realize that advertising is not evil but you do need to make some choices.

  1. Limit your ads. Too many ads will cause confusion and your readers won’t be able to make a choice.
  2. Determine which of your pages get the most traffic and advertise on those pages. In fact, while you’re finding your top page, figure out your top five pages and monetize them all.
  3. Find ads and affiliates that are relevant to your site and share your values. If my primary audience is for those interested in family travel, I probably don’t want to advertise Pampers.
  4. Keep your ads above the fold- the part of the blog that readers can see without scrolling down-  for the best results experiment with the size and placement of the ads.  
  5. Share your experience with the product you are trying to “sell”. If you really like it, write about it and include links. Just remember that if you are selling something, per FCC guidelines you are obligated to let your readers know.

For those opposed to ads, there are steps you can take to monetize your blog without the advertising. Here are some other ideas that some of the bloggers at the Savvy Blogging Summit shared:

  1. You can sell products from your blog.
  2. Find direct advertisers.
  3. Sell e-books or offer information products.
  4. If you have a large number of readers, you could choose to add premium content. This would essentially mean that you would offer those guests, members or readers a service in exchange for x amount of dollars a month, year, etc.
  5. You can become a brand representative for a specific product or company.

I hope that you’ve learned from some of the ideas I’ve shared with you. I learned so much from the conference and really loved the tips that other bloggers offered.

Do you make money from your blog? What are some ways that have worked for you?    

Saturday, July 17, 2010

TOS Crew Blog Walk Week 5

I’m just a wee bit late on getting this post up but here it is, better late than never.  

1. Buckaroo Days
2. Our Homeschool Reviews
3. Reed, Party of 6
4. Training Hearts at Home
5. Along The Way
6. I Love Science!
7. Through the Calm and Through the Storm
8. Created for Home
9. Tractors and Tire Swings
10. Guiding Light Homeschool

Now I'm off to catch up on my reading!

Check out this Deal!

Buy the 2010 Entertainment Book!

Just wanted to tell you about this incredible deal that the 2010 Entertainment Book is offering. Now until August 2nd you can purchase any two Entertainment Books for only $10! That's a $60 savings for you! These books will expire at the end of the year, but you'll still have just over 4 months to use them and at only $5 each, I'm convinced that you'll be able to get your monies worth.

Our family is planning to take a couple trips in the near future to Nasville, Birmingham, Atlanta and Ohio- so I checked out the website to see if any of the places we'd planned to visit offered any discounts in the book and guess what? They certainly do!

You may remember that the kids and I visited Nashville a couple months ago and saw the outside of the Parthenon but didn't go inside (nor had we planned to on that trip). Well, since we watched Percy Jackson and the Olympians, they now want to go back and and actually go inside this time. The Entertainment Book actually has a coupon for Buy-1-Get-1 Admission. At $8 a piece, we'll pay for our book right there! Of course we won't stop there, we plan to visit many of the attractions that we'll have coupons for. How could we pass that up?

Want to see how much money you can save? Just click on the button at the top of this post.

Have you ever purchased an Entertainment Book? What did you think, was it worth it?

*Disclaimer:If you purchase through my site, I will make a little bit of money off the purchase, which I will use to fund the gas for my vehicle for Field Trip Fridays, of which my husband will be grateful. Just so you know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives


It was suggested that the kids and I visit the Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives some time ago and to be honest, I drug my feet because I just really didn’t think that it would be very enjoyable. I can’t tell you how wrong I was! From the moment we stepped inside, and I saw my boys’ eyes light up, 013I knew we were in for a special treat.

The museum is housed in a 100-year-old building along the railroad tracks that was originally used for the transport of cotton and other commodities. Though the tracks are still in use today, the building hasn’t been used as a depot for many years. It  now houses uniforms, artifacts, and memorabilia from each of the wars in United States history,  with the main emphasis on the men and women who have served from the state of Alabama.  

Many of the exhibits displayed books or pamphlets that offer more in-depth information on the display for those that want to dig further. We didn’t really have time to delve in deeper on this visit, but my boys are looking forward to a return trip so they can read through the information on Sybil Ludington, the female Paul Revere, as well as WWI and WWII Trench Art.   My son remarked that the art created from artillery shells resembled Medieval Art. 

With a son that wants to be a future soldier, and major039 history buffs in our household, we’ve spent time in many museums that house war memorabilia but we always learn something new.  I hadn’t ever noticed that the Uncle Sam figure in the famous recruiting poster seemed to be looking and pointing directly at you. No matter where you seemed to be standing.  Personally, I also had not realized that thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives during WWI and WWII are buried overseas in military cemeteries in places such as Sicily, North Africa, Luxembourg City, Florence and Normandy. I had no idea.

I didn’t know that WWII pilots had silk maps. Of course, a paper map wouldn’t have held up very well if th079ey were shot down over a body of water. The boys were surprised to learn that dog tags have not always been rectangular. During WWI there were round dog tags that were about the size of a silver dollar. We saw a miniature kit of military ships that the Navy would use to train sailors so they could recognize friendly and enemy ships on the horizon so they wouldn’t mistakenly shoot at their allies.

I think we toured just about every inch of the museum from the gift shop to the bathrooms. Yes, we even went into the bathrooms to see the artwork th104at a local artist had painted on the walls.  The story goes that a sailor got off the ship and grabbed and kissed the first girl he saw which resulted in a reporter snapping this well known picture. The subjects have never been identified.

The museum currently has over 2,000 pieces of memorabilia on display, but because they accept donations, the displays are always changing. It’s likely that it will not look the same on our next visit. The museum offers a library with books, DVD’s and VHS tapes on the upper floor which is open to the public and is an ideal resource for those working on reports or interested in military history. They also offer a Coffee Call breakfast the 1st Saturday of every month where you can meet and thank veteran’s who have fought for our freedom. The museum is free but donations are welcome. They also sell flags and commemorative bricks that you can honor a loved one with while supporting the museum.

The Alabama Veteran’s Museum and Archives is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00-3:00 and guided tours are available upon request. You’ll find it at 100 West Pryor St. Athens, Alabama.  For more information you can call 256-771-7578 or visit the website.                     

Want to see more pictures from our trip? You can check them out on the Live the Adventure Facebook page.

Don't forget, you can share your own family trips, outings and educational endeavors here on Field Trip Friday. It's not mandatory, but I'd be grateful if you'd include a link back to Live the Adventure from your site and don't forget to grab your cute button letting everyone know that you participated in Field Trip Friday!
Until next week...Happy Field Trippin'!

Cathedral of the Plains: One of the 8 Wonders of Kansas

trip back from colorado 024 I notice billboards and advertisements along the road. One of the signs that I saw grabbed my attention as I read “Cathedral of the Plains”. As one that has a keen interest in art and architecture, I was certainly intrigued. After all, I remembered all those art classes that I took in high school where we spent so much time learning about the historic European cathedrals. I couldn’t get enough of the towers and spires, beautiful stained glass windows and Gothic architecture. I made a mental note to visit this cathedral on the way home from Breckenridge, and I did.

The Cathedral of the Plains, known as St. Fidelis Church to the locals, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. It is a magnificent building, perhaps not as ornate as I had pictured in my mind, but certainly regal for a small prairie town.

The website states that the cathedral welcomes over 16,000 visitors a year. I’m certainly not surprised, as there were two other tourists outside snapping pictures when I was there. Apparently, the church is open for visitors, a fact that alluded me at the time. I certainly would have loved to see the interior of the building. 

St. Fidelis Church is not a true cathedral since a bishop is not seated there, but received the nickname in 1912. It has been designated as one of the religious treasures of the state by the Kansas State Historical Society and was voted as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas in 2008. 

If you happen to be near Victoria, and need to stretch your legs, make sure that you stop… and… go inside! You’ll find the church at 601 10th St., conveniently located minutes off I-70.

Don’t miss out on seeing the inside of this gem like I did! You can find more information about this beauty at the St. Fidelis Website or by calling 785-735-2777.

Want to see more pictures? You can view them at Live the Adventures’ Facebook page.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Savvy Blogging Summit: Let’s Talk about Community, Personalization and Monetization Part I

jd roth I arrived at Breckenridge with an incredible altitude headache. Something I hadn’t really anticipated. I checked into my room at  Beaver Run Resort and drank massive amounts of water before the reception with Chris from Escalate Media Affiliate Network. One of the many great things about the summit is that it offered many opportunities to network not only with the other attendees, but also with the sponsors. If monetizing your blog is something that you’d like to consider, you may want to check out Escalate and the companies that they work with.

At dinner I met Amy of The Finer Things in Life, Tara of Feels like Home, the author of Bucksome Boomer’s Retirement Journey (who doesn’t use her name on her blog, so I won’t mention it here) and  Debba of Girlfriendology. I’d love to direct you to the other bloggers that I shared a table with that night, but unfortunately I didn’t collect business cards from all of them and I really am terrible with names.  We also had a special celebrity of sorts at our table, J.D. Roth, author of Your Money: The Missing Manual and owner of the award winning blog, Get Rich Slowly.

J.D. was also our opening speaker and it was  listening to him share openly, honestly and passionately about doing what he loves, blogging,  that I realized the Savvy Blogging Summit was really going to be something special.   

I walked away with some key points that night and some were reiterated throughout the weekend.

  1. Be yourself and have fun. If you don’t enjoy blogging, why are you doing it? 
  2. Tell stories to engage your readers and build community- you’ll hear about this later.
  3. Create the best content you can. Content is key, this is what will get readers to return to your site. 
  4. There’s always room for improvement. Take writing classes at the local community college or read writing manuals- strive to be the best writer you can be. 
  5. Don’t listen to the naysayers. 
  6. Blogging is not a competition, do you realize how huge the world wide web is? Find bloggers that you can work and network with.  
  7. Don’t ignore your readers, interact with them- preferably on your blog. It’s important to build a community. You want your readers to come back. Often.
  8. It’s okay to have a niche blog and occasionally write about other things. Write about things you are passionate about.
  9. Edit, edit, edit! Need I say more?
  10. In J.D.’s words:  “Assume that no one reads your blog , assume that everyone reads your blog.” In other words, don’t assume that your friends are ‘up to speed’ with your life because you blog about it or that you’re the ‘big fish’ when meeting new people but at the same time don’t write about that family member or next door neighbor that really annoy you because you never know when they will stumble upon your blog

If you want to take your blog a step further, you can join me in reading the following resources that were recommended: 

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland and On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser.

I can’t wait to continue to share more with you and hope you’ll stop back for Part II,  but I’d also love to hear from you. What tips have worked for you when you’re blogging? Do you plan your blog posts or just write what happens to come up? What do you do to stay inspired? Do you deal with blog critics?  How do you interact with your readers?

*In compliance with full disclosure, this blog post does contain affiliate links. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Savvy Blogging Summit: My Initial Thoughts

When I found out that I had been accepted to attend the Savvy Blogging Summit, I was amazed! I couldn't believe it, the day I'd leave for Colorado couldn't come fast enough.

However, as the day approached for me to head out the door to embark on my mommy road trip, it was a different story. I'd nearly managed to convince myself to skip it. The anticipation had turned into dread for more than a few reasons: I knew I'd miss my family, I am not a big fan of crowds of any sort and though I enjoy meeting new people, it overwhelms me to meet a lot of new people at once. I also managed to convince myself that I was even selected by mistake. After all, in my opinion there were some mega-bloggers planning to attend and my blog is teeny tiny in terms of traffic.

If I hadn't been sponsored by Adori Graphics and planned to room with Shannon of Living Life at Home I really could have talked myself out of it but to do so at that point would really have been tacky. So I went and let me tell you, it was so worth it.

I can't even express to you how incredible the conference was. On Thursday I had an idea of where I would like to see my blog down the road, and by the time the conference was over I knew how to achieve what I hope for and I also now have the tools to get me there.

The other bloggers were phenomenal. They were friendly and helpful, willing to share tips and even trials that they'd encountered. I excitedly met Robin of Our Homeschool Home, who, unlike me, actually drove out with her family in an RV! I also met Angie of Many Little Blessings, Amy of Raising Arrows, and Meghan of Half-Pint House who also write for the Homeschool Classroom.

The speakers were approachable, sincere and oh so humble! I didn't feel at all like I was being lectured to, but more like I was listening to a friend share valuable information that has worked for them in their own businesses. Oops, did I call my blog a business? I sure did! That's one of the first things I learned. I need to make the mindset from blog to business if I truly want my blog to become the informational hub that I hope it can one day be known as.

Our days were packed with class after class, taking breaks only for our incredible meal times. Oh, the food! Hmmm. Hmmm. Good.

I know many of you that read my blog are also fellow bloggers so I hope that you'll be excited to know that as I slowly settle back in at home, I'll be blogging about some of the tips that I learned at the conference. If you could care less about what I learned, that's okay too, I'll throw in some of the sights I saw along the way!

In the meantime, for those of you that blog, do you consider your blog a business or hobby? Why did you start your blog? Please share, I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's Finally Here!

Join Pixosphere Now! - Family Friendly Photo Community
Several months ago I agreed to begin testing a family friendly online photo community where members could upload, share and sell photos directly from the site. As a blogger and a mom with teenagers that spend quite a bit of time online and uploading photos, I instantly recognized the benefits of Pix-O-Sphere and now I'm excited to let you know that you can be a part of this incredible photo community as well because today is the public launch of Pix-O-Sphere. You can check out Pix-O-Sphere and read more about this unique community by clicking on the button on the top of the post.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Did you Guess it?

If you have no clue as to what I’m referring to, I’m talking about my challenge from yesterday when I decided to play a Where Am I? game.  Did anyone guess?

This field trip is a wee bit different because this one was a trip sans children because mommy (that’s me folks) is on a road trip one that is providing plenty of bloggy fodder for future posts. Oh, the things that I’ve seen…

I actually did try to fit in another trip with the kiddo’s before I skipped town, but the attraction we had chosen to visit was actually closed when we stopped by so we’ll try again and share that with you another time.

This week’s highlighted attraction, Sequoyah’s Cabin,  is actually found outside a small Oklahoma town by the name of Sallisaw. The cabin, listed as a National Historic Landmark was built by Sequoyah and served as his home when he moved to what is present day Oklahoma in 1829.

drive to SBS 080Sequoyah was born in the late 1700’s to an Indian mother and non-Indian father. His name at birth was Nathanial Gist. Known as an artist, silversmith and skilled blacksmith, Sequoyah is perhaps best known for developing a written language to (what I believe was his) native Cherokee tongue.

Sequoyah  was the taunted and made fun of during the 12 years that it took him to develop the language but that changed when he demonstrated that he and his daughter could communicate even when they were apart. Instead of a laughing stock, he became a much respected man.  

Arriving at the home site, you’ll see a cute little Visitor’s Center and nearby restroom facilities. The Visitor’s Center has an impressive display of arrowheads that have been collected over the years plus some educational materials and small assortment of souvenirs that can be purchased.

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You’ll also see a huge kettle that used over an wood fired furnace to boil water from a local salt spring. As the water evaporated, the salt would remain. Sequoyah operated a salt spring until his death in the 1840’s.  drive to SBS 032

There is a path leading to a picnic area and spring that Sequoyah visited to gather water for his household. As you can see, this is a beautiful place to have a picnic.  

drive to SBS 037Today you’ll find Sequoyah’s cabin housed in a rock building in 1936 after it became the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

drive to SBS 071The stone structure is now a museum with exhibits lining the walls to familiarize you of Sequoyah’s life and accomplishments as well as some history of the Cherokee people.

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Inside the cabin you’ll find a spinning wheel that is said to have had parts handcrafted by Sequoyah from his blacksmith days.

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Finally, the mystery photo from yesterday is a statue of Sequoyah, meant to depict the moment that Sequoyah ‘conceives the written word in Cherokee.’ 

drive to SBS 075So, if you’re ever along the I-40 corridor in Oklahoma, I’d recommend stopping by Sequoyah’s Cabin. You’ll find it North of Sallisaw on U.S. 59  (3 miles) then East on State 101 (7 miles). Of course if you find your way to Sallisaw, you can follow the signs. It’s open everyday except Mondays and Holidays. Admission is free, but they do suggest a donation of $3 for adults.  You’ll find more information on the Oklahoma Historical Society’s website.  

Have a field trip that you'd like to share? Link up to Field Trip Friday below. It's not mandatory, but I'd be grateful if you'd include a link back here in your original post and feel free to grab your cute button:participated in FTFUntil next week- Happy Field Trippin'!

Have you checked out my sponsor?

Just wanted to take the opportunity to direct you to my sponsor's website. If you haven't stopped by yet, will you please take a peak at Adori Graphics and tell her I sent you? If you stop by now you can even enter her contest to win one of her super cute premade designs for your own blog.

Louise is amazing and it's because of her generosity that I'm on my way to the Savvy Blogging Summit! Thank you so much Louise!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where am I?

I’ll give you a clue. It’s not in Alabama. LOL Actually, I’m not at the same place where I took the picture either, but I did make a quick stop there today. Let’s see if anyone can guess where I went. Maybe some of you have even been there. drive to SBS 075 Anyone want to guess? You won’t win anything, but it will be fun. I’ll post the answer tomorrow when I finish the Field Trip Friday post. And now, after driving since 4 a.m. this momma needs some sleep!

Road Trip for Mommy

Later in the week, I'll be leaving for the Savvy Blogging Summit in Breckenridge, Colorado. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the upcoming trip.

I was thrilled when I found out months ago that I'd be going. Now I'm a wee bit apprehensive. Not only have I not ever really been away from my family like this before but I have to admit after living with them for the past year in such close quarters, the thought of waking up and not having them nearby is really...well...making me feel a tad bit ill at ease.

I'm not the only one that feels this way. My kids are obviously troubled too. They really don't know what they are going to eat this week and are afraid that they are going to starve. That's it. Not that they will miss me or worry about me. They are afraid they won't have any good food to eat. I suppose I should feel flattered that they appreciate my cooking as much as they do. My husband has promised to take them out to eat on a couple occasions. Problem averted. Actually, they have mentioned that they really, truly are going to miss me. You know what? I feel blessed to have three teenagers that will admit that they enjoy having mom around.

I know the summit is going to be an incredible experience for me. I'm really looking forward to meeting some of the other bloggers that I know will be there and finally meeting my friend, Shannon from Living Life at Home, who I met nearly two years ago when we were paired up to work on a project in an online marketing class we were taking.

I can't wait to learn how to make the most out of my blog and share what I've learned with you when I get back. I may even post a bit from the conference if I can find the time, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I was if you would. Ha!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Online Classes an Incredible Tool for Homeschooling Families

currclick open house

My kids have participated in several of the live classes offered at Currclick. For our traveling family, the live classes have afforded a simple way for them to take a class on a subject that appealed to them without leaving the camper or hotel.  As long as we’ve had internet access, the classes have worked beautifully. They’ve taken a couple classes together and recently my daughter participated in a newsletter writing class and last week she finished a live photography class  where she concentrated on creating her own photography portfolio.

I was really excited about this class and feel it was very beneficial to her.  She met with her teacher and classmates each week in a virtual classroom where she would discuss the assignment that her teacher had given her from the previous week with the other students. Normally they would spend time critiquing each others work based on the criteria that her teacher had outlined.   The pictures below are examples of what she took as part of her class assignments.  The first one is a nature photo, followed by two landscapes and a unique self portrait.   

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ohio june trip 236

ohio june trip 196This week CurrClick is hosting a free open house where you can meet the online instructors and learn more about the 50+ classes that are offered which include anything from history and literature to cooking and guitar lessons. There really is something for just about any area of interest. The classes are also very affordable ranging anywhere from a couple bucks for a single class to $70 or so for a class that would last the entire semester.

Just so you know, if you do sign up for classes, I am an affiliate so a small portion of your total will be credited to my account which will give me a discount on the classes my kids will take this fall so I’d be grateful if you’d sign up through the link at the top of the page.   

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