Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | November 11, 2011

I didn’t kill the kids today!

You know, they might as well not even bother with school in November. Three days off for the storm, five half days for storm recovery and teacher’s conferences, two days off (that would be yesterday and today) for the NJ teacher’s convention and then the half day and two days for Thanksgiving. Don’t they know there’s a reason I didn’t home-school? As Mom said, “You couldn’t have home-schooled. They’d be dead and you’d be in jail.” She does know me, doesn’t she?

So rather than stay home and get annoyed at the squabbling, I took the kids and the mighty deer hunter for a hike. We went to the Bouman-Stickney museum, which is a house built in 1741 and lived in until the 1960’s. The township bought it and turned it into a museum which gets used for some really cool stuff. All the first grade classes come and hear “Frow Bouman” talk about what it is like to live in the 1740’s on a farm out in the middle of the wilderness. For several years a wonderful woman named Amy ran a museum camp in the summer, which both my kids attended. They learned to churn butter, bake bread (which was really yummy), make dill pickles (which were outstanding), weed the garden, and probably a few other things.

the kitchen where open hearth cooking gets demonstrated

Then every year she had them do something as a concentration. One year the girl child went, they took clay and molded dishes, built a kiln and fired them. The year the boy child went they made Colonial era toys. He sewed a baseball stuffed with yarn, made a kite and made some kind of marble maze thingy. Here is Amy and her students. Boy child was the only boy and is in the straw hat. They got to wear Colonial clothes – the girls got dresses, aprons and caps and the boys got a shirt and a straw hat.

This is the other side of the house: and from farther away. I love this wee little window in the bedroom:

not the bigger one that you can actually see the glass panes in, but the little one on top. It’s probably about 6 inches by 12 inches or so and seems to be the compromise between “I have to have some light in here” and “Don’t let all the heat out.”

Fields and woods surround the museum and there are trails looping through. The squabbling was at a minimum for the rest of the day, so my plan worked!

And I have to show you this: It’s a little hard to see, but it’s a chimney sitting by itself by the edge of a stream. I haven’t a clue why it’s there. Any ideas?

So on to today’s challenge: Eat a red fruit or vegetable. They gave choices: tomato, cranberry, apple, beet, cabbage, pomegranate, and I don’t remember any more. We’ve got a bunch of apples from the farm stand, so that was mine plus a bonus of the tomato sauce on the pizza slice for dinner.

And today’s gratitude: I’m grateful for hiking with the kids and dog on a beautiful, blustery fall day.



  1. What a fabulous way to spend the day, and keep the kids happy. I love the photographs and would love to visit. It reminds me of my Gran’s farm in Australia. She had no modern conveniences, an outhouse, an intricate shower system, and she cooked in a wood burning stove yet made the most amazing food. Her refrigerator ran on kerosene, she ironed with a flat iron heated on the stovetop, milked her own cows and made her own butter, and farmed the place by herself. She was awesome. : )

    • That is such a cool story, Robena! While we were out of power I was wishing we had all that and weren’t so damned dependent on electricity.

  2. Okay, first off, Robena you have the BEST damn stories and memories!!!

    Right, homeschooling. Me neither! Although I loved having everyone home (and sleeping in) during the summer, I also did like it when they all left the house for several hours a day, several days a week. 😉

    Brilliant field trip idea. I love those heritage lessons in real life. My thought on the fireplace is that it was ALSO a homestead, but the water moved, it does that.

    • I don’t think it was a homestead, because the hill goes up quite steeply behind it. I don’t think a house would have been built in what is essentially a flood plain. But I don’t know.

      Man, I do love my alone time and get kind of cranky when I don’t get it, as I’m sure my family would attest to!

  3. Fabulous trip! We took the 2nd grade to a pioneer day at a state park where they dipped candles, churned butter and tried archery…i thought it was cooler than they did

    • They will remember it for a long time though. Those kinds of experiences tend to stick with you.

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