Recently my older two boys and I visited Rose Hill School with our homeschool group (Classical Conversations). Built in 1895, the one room school house was moved to the Cherokee Strip Museum in 1971. Since 1988 it has welcomed thousands of students each year to experience what school life was like in the early 1900s. I remember visiting back when I was in fourth grade. It is definitely one of those field trips most kids remember.

A strict school marm told the kids that as they crossed over the bridge, they would be transported back to 1910.

2.15rosehill-012.15rosehill-02Most of the school is original, including the wood stove and desks.2.15rosehill-03The students participated in various activities like penmanship, reading, spelling and math. There were several rules for the day, including absolutely no talking or giggling. Consequences for breaking those rules included standing with your nose in the center of a circle on the chalkboard.

The marm also informed my second son that using his left hand was prohibited. He would have his left hand taped behind his back and would be required to only use his right hand. A wave of panic washed over his face, then she stepped out of character and told him she would let it slide for the day. And a wave of relief washed over me!

2.15rosehill-042.15rosehill-05There were lots of “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Ma’am”s. There was also more silence than I’ve heard in a really long time. Despite being told it was okay to take pictures, I was a little afraid my name would be called and I’d be disciplined!2.15rosehill-072.15rosehill-082.15rosehill-092.15rosehill-10It was an intimidating environment. The school marm did a wonderful job playing her role and giving the kids a real taste of what a one room schoolhouse in 1910 was like. There were also some smiles and fun too.2.15rosehill-112.15rosehill-122.15rosehill-13Thanks to the stilts my grandpa built for me as a little girl – I impressed my boys with my mad stilt walking skills.2.15rosehill-14The Cherokee Strip Museum has several different displays related to life and work in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is well worth the visit if you are in the area. I am not sure if you have to be a school group to visit the Rose Hill School. In a few years, I’ll go back with my next set of 3-5 graders…if their big brothers haven’t scared them away!

It was a great experience for all of us and made several books we’ve read from that time period really come alive. I think in the end, the boys gained a greater appreciation for me and their other teachers!

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  • Lisa - Haha, I love this. What an awesome experience for them to remember. I haven’t commented in a while, but wanted to express to you how much I enjoy reading your blog. I only follow two blogs and I follow yours yes, because of your beautiful photography, but also and most importantly because of your heart behind it all. I’m a new mama of a wild 2 year old and you’ve share with me many lessons that I have realized over time have impacted my own parenting greatly. Just wanted to thank you for all you do, and the time you put into it. I’m so glad you enjoy it so we can partake!

  • Ashley - I went there as a fourth grader! At the time I was reading through the Laura Ingalls books and had a lovely costume chest full of prairie dresses. I first heard about Rose Hill when I was in 2nd grade and COULDN’T WAIT until I finally got to go in the fourth. The experience was incredible and when I got home I rearranged my bedroom into a 1910 classroom and made my little brother my pupil. We played “old time school” for months after that.

  • Jenny B. - So fun! We had a very similar day at an old schoolhouse in Rogers, AR, a couple of years ago when my oldest was in 2nd grade (and they had just finished reading Little House in the Big Woods). It was really neat, and I could have hung out taking pictures of everything in the schoolhouse for hours. :) I did a page about it for my Project Life scrapbook: Rocky Branch School

  • Jenny B. - Ashley (the commenter above), that is so fun that you played “old time school!” I used to do the same thing. One of the elementary schools in my hometown flooded, and lots of the textbooks were damaged. My mom was a teacher, and brought home several for me. I loved how wrinkly and discolored the pages were! They were perfect for playing old time school. :) Also, my house had a loft/balcony with an open cedar staircase, and I would climb up it on all fours pretending to be Mary and Laura climbing up to their bedroom. Good times… :)

  • danielle - That looks like fun! I heard about that at the homeschool day at the history center. I think they were planning on setting up some public days so those not in a group could still do it.

  • Marsha - Oh, what sweet memories! We lived in Perry for a time, and my eldest (finally) made it with his class to Rose Hill. They were scheduled to go on what became known as 9/11. That just deepened the whole experience for him when they got to go. I tried to see in your pics who the school marm is. I’m sure they’ve changed more than once since I was asked to serve and since we moved back to BA. I don’t think I could be strict enough at all, but it didn’t matter. We had started homeschooling by the time the opportunity came along!

    Thanks for sharing your time at Rose Hill, Ashley!!!

  • Carol Van Boening - SO sad to learn recently that my Granddaughter’ s school(Union district) will not be going to Rose Hill School on a field trip this year. SO disappointed! I think it is a great lesson for kids.Thanks for the WONDERFUL photos.

  • Krystin Robertson - Ashley,
    This is just an interesting place. I bet it was a great experience for the kiddos! I’m wondering now if my city (Louisville, KY) has an old schoolhouse setup like this one…I’ll have to look into it. Anyways, I really like how you captured the details of the boys at work. I’m sure this will be a great memory that they can look back on one day!

  • amber - That is way cool. As a former homeschooler, I’m pretty sure that’s something my mom would’ve made my sister & I do. Kind of makes me a little nervous to think about…lol! Way to go to your brave boys!!

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Lisa…I’m figuring out this parenting stuff by trial and error…but enjoying the process :)

  • Rikki - How fun! I did stuff like this as a kid (went to school in Missouri a few years). Always so neat, and such a great experience!

Yesterday felt like we lived inside a snowglobe. The sky dumped big, white snowflakes for most of the day. As much as I don’t like the cold, even I can admit how incredibly beautiful a day like yesterday was. As the snow began falling heavily I asked the 3 kids nearby if any of them would volunteer to go outside and let me snap a few photos of them. All three were up for humoring their mom and her camera.

85mm lens, ISO 100, 1/400, f/4.0

2.15snow-01PHOTO TIP: We don’t get a ton snow in Oklahoma, so I don’t have nearly as much experience shooting in the snow as many of you. However, friends and SnapShop students always ask me for tips for shooting in the snow. I don’t have many but here you go:

  • If you want to ‘freeze’ the snow falling, you need a fast shutter speed
  • If you want big blurry snowflakes, use an aperture in the range of f/2.8
  • Typically, you can use a low ISO
  • To capture falling snow, you need a dark background. If your background is light, the snowflakes will blend in. The next three photos demonstrate this concept

85mm lens, ISO 100, 1/400, f/4.0 (all three)

2.15snow-022.15snow-032.15snow-0485mm lens, ISO 100, 1/640, f/2.2 (you can see his left eye is a little faded looking, a snowflake is falling in front of it)2.15snow-0585mm lens, ISO 100, 1/800, f/2.22.15snow-0685mm lens, ISO 100, 1/320, f/4.0 – all in this series2.15snow-072.15snow-082.15snow-092.15snow-102.15snow-112.15snow-122.15snow-132.15snow-14He tries real hard to convince us he doesn’t like all her hugs. I am not convinced.

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  • danielle - Beautiful pics! My boys were out in it but they like to wear ski masks. It makes cute pics of their faces difficult. HA! I was in love with yesterdays weather. Beautiful. Did this northern girl good!

  • kassondra - The one with her eyes closed and he’s catching snow with his tongue!!!! So sweet!

  • Amy D - Thanks for these tips! They make so much sense but I didn’t think of them before! :)

  • Brandi - Oh I just love that kind of snow! How fun!

  • Emily - I’m not convinced, either ;-)

    Thanks! We just moved to Portland and have gotten almost zero snow (ironic that my family in Texas is iced in and it’s sunny and mid-50s here…) but I am saving this. The last series if my favorite, snow-wise. I think the f/4 setting adds depth so you can tell the snow is falling all around and not just on top of them like in an old movie ;-)

    Thank you!

  • Diana - These are wonderful! I love those of your 2 kids together. Definitely no denying the love there. =)

  • r - Cute, cute ????

  • Jolene - *Don’t you love phones? They change your comments and your name ;) So that “r” is actually supposed to be Jolene, and the question marks were supposed to be !! ????

  • Ashley - Great timing!! We are set to get 4 inches tomorros (in SC), which is a rare occurrence. The snow pointers are very helpful!!

  • RachelC - These are so good! I totally failed at snow pics this year…..but, there’s always next year. Those last few pics might just make it into her dorm room one day. Love!

I do not typically take all my kids grocery shopping with me.  I am so much faster by myself or with just a couple of them. Last week we celebrated Chinese New Year. I knew the kids would love roaming the aisles of the asian/international grocery store, so we loaded up and headed there together.

We got several double glances…I can’t imagine why.

2.15dumplings-09This next photo is for those of you that have little ones and you load 17 shopping bags on your two arms and carry a baby at the same time. One day…you won’t carry the bags or the baby. One day, you might have lots of willing helpers. And IT. IS. AWESOME.2.15dumplings-10

My friend Bopha’s mom let a few of us come watch her cook dumplings and steam buns last week. I jotted down a bunch of notes and was determined to make all the dumplings for our family feast. Typically, I cater most of our New Year’s meal because…well, I want it to taste good and I’ve yet to master the art of Chinese cuisine….until this year. I am thinking I might have a little bit of Chinese in me – the dumplings and steam buns were awesome. However, the mere fact I am calling them dumplings and steam buns instead of their actual names proves that I am in fact not Chinese.

Regardless, I do have lots of friends that know how to celebrate Chinese New Years and know how to cook authentic dishes…so I will learn a little more each year and have fun in the process.

I wasn’t sure if the kids would be able to ‘pleat’ the dumplings, but they did a better job than me. My mom came over to help us too, so that doubled our working speed!2.15dumplings-012.15dumplings-022.15dumplings-03My youngest daughter just wanted to tear all the dough circles. She did an awesome job at it.2.15dumplings-042.15dumplings-05A traditional part of Chinese New Year festivities is the Lion Dance. My mom started our own family take on the tradition three years ago. Each year she makes a costume with the kids that goes with the animal of the year (Year of the Snake, Year of the Monkey, etc.). This year was Year of the Sheep (or Goat or Ram, depending on who you ask). During our dinner the kids danced around in it, similar to the traditional Lion Dance. It is our Okie Chinese New Year – I basically love this night each year.2.15dumplings-07In 2012, on the morning of the day I would meet my youngest daughter I ate a steam bun for breakfast. “Attempted to eat” would be more like it. To this day,  I can’t see or eat a steam bun without thinking of that day. Every little detail of that day is etched in my memory in a profound and unusual day. I’ve always liked steam buns, but after that day – I relish each bite. I followed Bopha’s mom’s directions for making them. The outsides still need lots of work, but they taste so good. I still can’t believe I made them. The smile below is one of surprise and shock that I actually made them and they tasted good!

Later that night our home was full of laughter and familiar voices. Holidays have always been a big deal for my extended family. I love that life of my youngest daughter ushered in a new holiday that brings us all together in MY home. My mom and aunt get Thanksgiving and Christmas in their homes. I get Chinese New Year!2.15dumplings-11

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  • Southern Gal - That’s so special. Happy Chinese New Year!

  • Tanya - This entire post made me smile! What fantastic memories for everyone! Happy Chinese New Year!

  • Caroline - Being a chinese myself, it really warmed my heart as I read your chinese new year post every year, since when you celebrated it for the first time after you had your little girl.
    I was looking forward to your post on it and the “lion dance” that your mom will make with your kids.
    Maybe next year, you can try to make the sweet potato steam cake, which is better known as the “Prosperity Cake”. Let me know if you want the recipe!

    Another 11 days of celebration before it ends on the 15th day of the first month of the year. During then, you might want to make glutinous rice balls for your children . it symbolises family togetherness and is eaten on the 15th day of the new year, which is when we have the first full moon of the year.

    Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family! :)

  • Carrie - Loved this post!! Always so thankful when you share little tidbits of your family and your traditions with us. Also, can I just say how beautiful your mom looks!! She just has a look of peace and joy on her as she works with your kids. So wonderful.

  • Heather - Love this! Especially, “One day…you won’t carry the bags or the baby. One day, you might have lots of willing helpers. And IT. IS. AWESOME.” TRUTH!

  • Courtney - I just love love love how you celebrate this holiday with your family. And I can’t get over the picture of you and your youngest at the end of this post! Beautiful!

  • Elizabeth Nelson - I love that your family celebrates Lunar New Year! In case you or your kids were interested, the red and gold sign in your first picture says “Happy New Year” in Vietnamese.

    Best wishes for a wonderful and prosperous year!

  • Laura in Sacto - Awesome dumpling making! I could eat dumplings and tacos everyday. My two favorite foods in the world. Happy Chinese New Year to little one and family!

  • Trilby - What a wonderful celebration! I love steam buns more than anything. Would you care to share your recipe, or at least point me to a link for a good one? We’ve got other Chinese and miscellaneous Asian recipes down pat – I think it’s time to try a new one!

  • Beccy - I laughed at your comment about sheep/goat/ram. We went to a fantastic celebration put on by the cultural center here, and the director did some research on the animal of the year. He said that when they chose the 12 animals rams and sheep had not been introduced to China yet, so technically it would be the year of the goat, but they use the one word for all 3. Also, our son’s Chinese name is a different word, spelled the same in pinyin, so when they sang a song in honor of the new year he thought they were singing about him. It was very funny. Thanks for sharing your celebration. It is inspiring to add a little more to our celebrations each year.

  • AshleyAnn - Trilby – I don’t have a ‘recipe’…I just jotted notes and took pictures of Bopha’s mom. I’ll see if she minds me sharing some of the things I watched her do!

  • AshleyAnn - Caroline – I would love the recipe!

  • Tracy - Hand making Chinese dumplings is what Chinese friends do at their gatherings. It is one of my fondest memories in China! So much fun and yummy.

  • Shelby - I love this. I love that you do this for your youngest every year. I can’t wait for the day when she realizes that you did this all for her and that it is more than just a tradition, and that her life is a true reason to celebrate. I magine that our Creator looks down at all the things he has made and loved in the world and says, with complete delight and satisfaction, “I did this all for you, my beloved child. “

  • Caroline - Your beautiful family gives me such hope. I’m deep in the jungles of our third pregnancy while taking care of our 1 and 3 year old boys. It is so encouraging to know that someday I will be able to do projects with my kids without someone wreaking havoc on the whole process. I miss being creative so very much.

  • Katie - I LOVE reading your blog… and the encouragement of “you won’t always be carrying 17 bags of groceries and a kid”… yeah, I needed to hear that. Currently have an 11 month old and am 6 1/2 months pregnant with #2… I’ve sent Hubs to the grocery store for the past month. :-P

    Keep on celebrating Little One’s heritage… it’s so neat to see your family do, and it will give her SO many special memories!

  • Jillian - I am an ESL teacher in South Philly so Lunar New Year is very important with our gigantic Asian population. One of my Cambodian students gave me a red envelope with a $2 bill in it. His mother sent it for me and said that I should keep it in my wallet because it will bring me fortune. I was so touched. Normally I give out red envelopes (with no homework passes) and this was the first one in 4 years that I received.

  • Debbie C - Happy Chinese New Year! I love how all the kids (and grandma) made dumplings together, I need to teach my daughter soon! I can’t wait for the day when the kids help mama carry bags (and bathe themselves, etc…). Although these days I just load up the stroller (sometimes I hold the kid so I can pile all the bags in the stroller!). :D

  • Angie Webb - So sweet. And when did your oldest get SO tall…. wow!

  • Shelby - I’m sure others have asked, but is this recipe something that your friend’s wonderful mother might be willing to share (maybe along with her story of learning to make steam buns?) I love the idea of sharing such a snippet of history and culture!

  • Lisa - Oh, I just love the lion dance idea! The kids at our party improvised…five of them under my oldest daughter’s comforter! Steamed buns are sentimental for me too! I remember wrapping two in a napkin at breakfast right before we got my son and tucking them in the hotel fridge so he’d have something there for lunch that was familiar. The day of our medical visit he carried one around in each fist for hours!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Chinese New Year!! So happy for you that the food turned out well! That is such an awesome accomplishment, isn’t it?!

  • Jen Ference - XinNian Kuaile! I just had to break my silence and say what a great post this is..but all I have seen so far has been so wonderful. I very recently found your blog, and have yet to hunker down and digest it, or leave a comment for that matter, but what a treasure trove. We moved to Beijing last October, and are experiencing Chinese New Year in a major way, but I would’ve never thought of making a sheep like your mom did! So awesome. And your jiaozi are GORGEOUS. What talented chefs! I made some dumplings as well, homemade dough and all, but I am far from mastering the pleating…! What a precious family you have, and I just love the way you share your thoughts and your day to day, but your photog skills are amazing. Really, what a treat to find you! x

  • Johanna - Do you always have to make me cry with your posts about your youngest? ;)
    Those smiles in the last picture say so much about your relationship, your accomplishments, your pride.
    Just lovely.