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Posts Tagged ‘home schooling’

Jiggity Jig

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 4 Comments

 

Wyoming 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity jig…

Whoever wrote that certainly wasn’t returning from almost THREE full months on the road with two kids.  It was more like “Home again, home again, collapse at the door…”

Yes, three (3) months.  What started as a two year commitment to travel with the kids and homeschool them has, over the past three months, turned into a true once-in-a lifetime adventure we never could have imagined.  I can say in all honesty that given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.  But, if you had showed me last fall a map and calendar of what 2012 was shaping up into, I think I probably would have chickened out. 

Maybe that’s why God doesn’t lay out everything He has in store for us all at once.  Consider all the things we would miss in life when the mountain in front of us looks too high to climb.

Well, I guess that brings me back here, home after almost three full months traveling in an SUV on the road with two very active and energetic young boys.  And where is here?  Well, it’s a state of exhaustion, amazement, enlightenment, and sheer awe at all the truly wonderful things and people we met and visited along the way. 

 Elko 2012

We began the adventure at the end of January with a trip back to the annual National Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in Elko, Nevada.  Neither of these boys had been to Elko and I hadn’t been back with R.W. in years.  The best thing about Elko and its legendary gathering – it never changes.  It is pure “cowboy” in so many ways and yet it constantly seeks to show how our culture is so connected to similar cultures and people from around the world who are so very different but have much in common.  The artistry displayed, heard and shared at Elko is like nowhere else; a venerable feast for the cowboy (or cowgirl) spirit.  Buckaroos, cowpunchers, vaqueros, ranchers, friends, fans, family – they all gather for one week to experience the expression of that spirit and to feed their own souls with music, poetry, stories, art, culture, and friends.

Two days up to Elko through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, a four day stay for the gathering, then another two days back home.  The following week at home flew by with doctor appointments, business meetings, church meetings, a Boy Scout banquet that required a cake and table center-piece, car tune up and oil change, surgery on a sick horse, and setting up everything for the five-week trip we were about to embark upon. Not to mention the usual stuff that goes on like home-school, music business, ranch chores, and dealing with a winter storm.

Tennessee 2012

Then it was off to the East! With the excitement of a new adventure we loaded up and pointed the SUV towards Texas. And then Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee where we started out the musical portion of the trip in Nashville with R.W. filming a couple of music videos right down on Music Row.  The next day R.W. was invited to a singer-songwriter night at Douglas Cafe and connecting with both new friends (including the up-and-coming new group The Henningsens (who have written several top hits for The Band Perry), and old friends (like cowboy partner Dave C. who manages Charlie Daniels, and fellow Savannah Music artist, Michelle Wright).  No matter what industry you are in, it is always great re-connecting with the folks you hope to work with in the future. 

From Nashville it was off to Pigeon Forge for a four day festival called Saddle Up (one of our personal favorites!), then down to Chattanooga, farther south to Georgia, back up to Chattanooga, over to South Carolina, up to North Carolina, and then Virginia for over a week at the Williamsburg Film Festival. From there we headed back West through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma… You get the picture.

Inside Raccoon Mtn, TN 2012

TN. Racoon Mtn.2012

Along the way we went caving in Chattanooga, had a blast at Rock City, visited Wade Hampton III’s homes in Columbia, SC.

Pillars remain at WadeHamptonIIIs.2012

We toured historic Jamestown and Williamsburg, where we all spent some time in the stocks.  The boys and I spent an afternoon at the beach on the Atlantic side of America and even got to watch the regal USS Enterprise ship out on her final deployment before she is decommissioned.

In the Stocks in Williamsburg.2012

Somewhere along the way we toured the Great Smoky Mountains, Monticello, Greenbrier Resort, Churchill Downs and the majestic Gateway Arch in St Louis, Mo among other things.

Monticello.Spring2012.photo by Denver Crowder

The Boys on the steps of Monticello

Jefferson's Gardens.2012

You might think that after those five weeks a little rest was in order, but no, thankfully R.W. had another job waiting for him in Texas the next weekend to help pay for all our fun!  So after five days of “rest” and unpacking, repacking, ranch repairs, another car tune-up, and several kids’ activities it was time to load up and head back to Northeast Texas for another five days on the road.  (Thankfully for me, this was an “all male event” so I was able to stay home and at least get the laundry caught up!)

Home again, home again, jiggity jig… for another five day stretch of rest, repairs, and repacking then off to West Texas to our daughter’s hometown to celebrate  Easter with her, her husband, their two boys, and a bunch of his side of the family.  Not a bad little trip at all but we were starting to feel the miles each time we clicked those seatbelts on.

Driving... some more

After a big four day rest it was off again! Destination: Kansas… in tornado season no less.  As the weather reports started warning of one of the biggest storm systems in current history R.W. and one of the boys loaded back up for what our son was convinced was going to be a “really exciting” trip to see a tornado.  Fortunately for me, as I was a nervous wreck waiting at home, the excitement didn’t turn out like he had hoped and the event which was to be held outdoors at a local riding arena was moved to a theater downtown that also doubled as a storm-shelter.  Unfortunately, for the good folks putting on the event, the attraction of holding the concert in a location that doubled as a storm shelter still wasn’t enough to convince a good portion of those who had planned on attending to leave their homes and brave the unknown forecasted weather.

With the excitement behind them the boys returned home with a little less jiggity jig for a whopping two day rest.  With over twenty states covered in less than 2 1/2 months it was time to complete the circle of the Central United States by heading west again, this time to Santa Clarita, California just north of Los Angles.

As we once again loaded suitcases, CDs, a plastic crate of our school books & lesson plans, R.W.’s guitar, hats, boots, a few toys, a box of office work I hoped to finish, and assorted drinks, snacks and cell phones I had to laugh at how we had managed to perfect our use of space. Even our five year old knew the drill by heart and loaded without complaint.  (Of course it didn’t hurt that there were a few days set aside for family fun at Disneyland ahead either!)

Goofy and Ethan being... goofyThe next 13 days included travel days across New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California; a quick visit to one of our sons who is stationed at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base; several days at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Music Festival, two days in the recording studio working on some new songs, a visit to Disneyland with four generations of our family present, an afternoon visiting the Grand Canyon, and the drive back across Arizona and New Mexico. 

 The Grand Canyon.2012

Yes, by the time we got back late last Monday night our jiggity jig was completely gone.  But can you imagine missing all or any of that?  What an adventure! What a great experience for our boys!  What memories we have made!  What fantastic things they have learned and people they have met!

So, another week at home and although it was full of unpacking, repacking, shipping orders, homeschool, cleaning house, cleaning up the yard, and end of the school year activities we seem to have gotten our jiggity jig back so we head out again for Texas this afternoon.  Each time it’s been a little harder to load up and drive off, but we won’t ever have the chance to make those miles and memories again, so why not? 

Our travel times with our youngest boys won’t last forever so we cherish these trips plus it’s even more fun having you along for the ride. And, essentially we owe it all to you, because without you and your support we wouldn’t have the chance to share this wonderful country without children this way. Without you, R.W. would just be a great voice singing around the campfire in some remote cow-camp.  I can’t imagine our life without you, so I’m so glad you have not only joined us on our adventure – but you are the whole reason for it!

Thanks!  The Hamptons, Lisa, R.W., and of course, “the boys”

Mr. Titanic

Posted on: April 15th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 2 Comments

visiting the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TNDid you know that it was 100 years ago yesterday that the unsinkable Titanic hit it’s iceberg and as of 2:20 AM this morning the tradgedy culminated with it’s sinking?  Well, if you didn’t, don’t feel bad, I might not have either if it wasn’t for my five-year-old. 

Yes, Mr. Titanic himself reminded me during our homeschool studies that this week was the big 100 year anniversary. 

Now what, you might ask, is a five-year-old doing with that tid-bit of knowledge rolling around in his little brain? 

Well, let me tell you, he not only knows the date but also can spell the ship’s name, tell you whether it hit the iceberg on the bow or stern, tell you about how many people were on the ship and how many survived, how many dogs were on the ship, how many smoke stacks it had, what colors it was, why they didn’t have enough life boats, and a million other facts that would have slipped my mind long ago.

It all started a couple of years ago with his big brother’s fascination with the movie soundtrack and the creation of a “garage band” of several four to nine-year-old cousins who aptly named their band “The Titanic”.  The adults who were subjected to their performances couldn’t have been happier than when the act prophetically sunk.  But the fascination must have floated around in their minds because the Titanic was the first thing they wanted to visit on our trip back East.

Visit the Titanic, you might ask?  Well, yes, sort of. 

You see in February one of our first stops on our big trip to the Mid-Atlantic States was in Pigeon Forge for the city’s “Saddle Up” event.  The folks there at the City of Pigeon Forge treated us with VIP passes to the gigantic Titanic Museum/Exhibit that really looks like the ship, complete with iceberg.  After spending an afternoon as four of her passengers (complete with their names and histories) we were submerged in little known facts, overwhelmed with actual artifacts retrieved from the ship’s underwater grave, and drowned by the sheer magnitude of the tragedy.  Ethan on the other hand became obsessed; the character he played not only survived but exploded in his mind, carrying him into a world of over-sized ships, Captains, Skippers, ice-bergs, and sunken treasure. 

After leaving Pigeon Forge, TN we traveled east to South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia where we got to spend an afternoon on the beach at the Atlantic Ocean.  Wouldn’t you know it, as we were about to leave, none other than the USS Enterprise cruised by as she departed for her final voyage before retirement.  I was pretty excited to be able to say we were there, but for Ethan it was a true miracle.  For him, seeing that big aircraft carrier (the first and largest nuclear powered one of its kind) on its final voyage was just about as good as it gets and I think that cinched the deal.  From then on all we have heard about is the Titanic. 

USS Enterprise deploying on final tour, March 2012I was naive enough to think his obsession might dwindle over the trip, but no, while we were in Williamsburg, VA for the Williamsburg Film Festival he purchased an old black & white 1940’s movie “The Titanic” that was made in Germany during the war and is all in German with sub-titles.  Do you know that although he can’t read, he has watched the movie no less than two dozen times?  His enthusiasm even rubbed off on his little 4 year old friend who, to his mother’s surprise, sat and watched the entire movie with him last night even when they were given the chance to watch Tin Tin instead!

So the final blow came with the April issues of National Geographic and National Geographic for Kids… both featured articles on the ship which have now been read, analyzed, and believe it or not, disputed by my boys.  With R.W.’s help they have even created a cardboard model of the ship – which they hope to one day float with full knowledge that being made of cardboard ensures that it will sink!

There really isn’t much point to this story except to say that I am really glad we are homeschooling this year so that these little minds can absorb such things as the fact that today was the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. 

It is exciting watching our boys learn and share with others things that they find interesting, even though it may be somewhat unique and obscure.  And, I am hoping that after today, Mr. Titanic will find something new that sparks his imagination and we can enthusiastically embark on another voyage into history that we might otherwise never take.

 Bon Voyage!

 

War Horse – A Cowboy’s View

Posted on: January 8th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 15 Comments

 

War Horse Movie PosterWell, it’s not often that I see a movie worth commenting on, much less recommending, but the family and I drove about 200 miles round trip the other night to go see War Horse and it was well worth it.  My wife and eleven yr old are studying WWI currently in his home-school studies and had just read the book so it didn’t take much to convince us all to load up for the trip. I think I can say without reservation, the whole family enjoyed it as much as I did.  (*note to parents – it is rated PG 13)

Now hoss folks, take note; yes, you will notice that they use about six different horses to depict the equine star “Joey”.  This is common in movies and forgivable. I’ve done quite a few movies with horses and it’s almost impossible to find one horse that can pull off all the gags, so doubles must be used. 

As a ranch hand/cowboy it would be easy for some scenes to be perceived as corny but what the heck, Roy & Gene’s horses came when they whistledJoey and Albert too. We must also forgive some of the more ignorant tack and equipment idiosyncrasies that happen on almost all horse movies. On the other hand, I was impressed that they used a true to the story “European looking” Thoroughbreds and not an Americanized Quarter Horses (which are often preferred for work with on movie sets because of calmer temperaments). 

Part of the intrigue to me is that this movie follows the life of a horse born to a farm family in rural England, it moves through a boy’s youth and then with the horse into service in France during World War I. 

The countryside scenes are breathtaking and the battle scenes are graphic, intense, realistic but not gruesome or gory.  

I found it facinating that it was a war movie where there were no “good guys vs bad guys” sides taken as the horse ends up on both the English and the German’s front lines, because, as the author puts it in the book, everyone loves and respects a good horse.

It is obvious that horses of all types play a vital role in Europe during the period of time depicted in War Horse, but while the horse still played a role in warfare; tanks,War Horse Scene machine guns, trucks and airplanes were being used to full advantage also. Through the film it is easy to visualize that this is a turning point in history.

Favorite Scene:

There are many fine and exceptional moments in War Horse but this one got me, (as well as many other people, my wife tells me).  The location is a devastated apocalyptic stretch of land between the English and German trenches called “No Man’s Land”. The fighting has been long and fierce, the men are impeded in miserable trenches and the conditions can be described as cruel. Yet thru the smoke of this living hell both sides notice a lone horse badly tangled in the razor wire.  Touched by his plight white flags go up from both sides and we watch as the fighting stops in the eiry quiet as two soldiers climb out of their respective trenches and work their way towards the trapped animal and towards each other. Both men meet and after some discussion go to work together, enemies joining forces to free an injured animal out of love for a good horse. The irony is that upon accomplishing their goal they must shake hands and return their separate ways and once back to the relative safety of their trenches their brutal fighting must resume.

Now, if that doesn’t get to you, ya better check your pulse!

If you like big, old fashioned epic sagas like the Searchers or the Quiet Man, your gonna love War Horse. This movie, the story, and its cinematography harkens back to the work of Ford & Selsnick. Every frame is stunning and creates a spectacular backdrop for an amazing story. 

I hope you enjoy it and if you’ve seen it or read the book already tell us what you thought.  I’d also love to know, what is your all-time favorite horse movie?