Letting The Youngest McFarland Lead Us

I tend to be curious by nature. I love learning. I take great delight in reading and exploring and gathering new information about my interests and passions. I think knowing more and gathering more information is gloriously wonderful. I take pride in having an inquiring mind.

But in the McFarland household – I am a mere novice – neigh a simple neophyte – a complete and utter fledgling at the gathering of information and data.

At just 8 years old Will McFarland has me completely and utterly skunked. William leaves his mom in the dust! Our boy is all about the deep dive into his passions. If Will is interested in something then he develops a vast knowledge base about it.   He becomes positively encyclopedic.

Our boy goes ALL in.

When Will was in preschool and kindergarten he was VERY interested in the Titanic and her sister ships so we learned all there was to know about the Titanic and the Britannic and the Olympic. We read book after book after book on these awesome and amazing ships. We watched YouTube videos and PBS documentaries. We have many pictures and original paintings by Will around our house of the Titanic.

I take such delight in these “early” Will McFarland canvases.

Next it was astronomy. We did a really deep dive into astronomy in kindergarten and 1st grade.   We were regulars at the Rauch Planetarium on the U of L campus. Will taught me so very much about the planets (especially Jupiter = his very favorite planet). He also taught me tons about the dwarf planets and the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt (which I don’t even remember from my astronomy class in college a billion years ago). There was even an adorable planets song!

Then we moved on to airplanes and military ships. For the past year and a half we have alternated between airplanes and military ships every few months.

Right now – we are in a ships phase. This means Will is making very impressive models of US navy ships with Legos. He draws detailed naval battles.   He will play lengthy battles of the board game Battleship with anyone who has the time. He watches videos on YouTube. Will and Jason are male-bonding while watching movies about WW II. His bedroom floor and our living room are often the scenes of heroic naval battles. We have made trips to the library seeking books about navy ships.

I was rather worried about this American aircraft carrier – but Will assured me the Americans were victorious!

Will is learning a lot about navy ships and by extension so am I.

In fact – if you want to have an in-depth conversation with someone – ask Will about the USS ANYTHING . . .

So when Jason read that the USS LST-325 was going to be in Brandenburg, KY this past weekend – we knew we needed to take our resident budding naval expert. This was so very – very Will!

A visit to an honest to goodness WW II navy ship was a perfectly perfect way to enrich Will’s Labor Day. This would be an adventure and a learning opportunity in which our boy would delight (and he did)! He really – really – really did!

The USS LST-325 is the last fully operational WW II Landing Ship Tank.

This ship is still sea-worthy and sails each summer with a volunteer crew of 45. In the winter USS LST-325 docks in Evansville, IN (in case you too would like a tour).

My two favorite readers reading together as we waited our turn to board the ship.

In 1941 these ships were the largest ships designed to place tanks – troops – and cargo onto hostile beaches.   This very ship was at Normandy on D-Day. This fact took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.   Especially now that I have an 18 year old of my own . . .

Winston Churchill called LSTs – “the ship that won the War.”

We were able to tour most of the ship. From the stern to the bow and back again.

The LST-325 has a Greek name too (Syros) – because she was a part of the Greek navy for 36 years from 1964 – 2000.

By navy standards this ship is small – but to me it seemed huge!   It seemed huge until I imagined being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – then the LST-325 seemed to be a very – very – very teeny tiny ship.

William McFarland called the LST-325 awesome and amazing!

I likely would not have chosen to spend the Monday morning of my Labor Day weekend touring a WW II navy ship on my own. But because I love Will McFarland and he loves ships I was thrilled to spend my morning aboard the LST-325.

At one point on Monday morning Will noticed that even the crickets sounded excited and seemed to be sharing his joy at seeing the LST-325. I don’t know if the crickets were excited or shared in his joy – but I know Will’s dad and mom were excited and were most certainly sharing in his joy!

Jason’s smile was pretty big too!

I love learning. I delight in exploring and expanding my mind. It is such a blessing to share in other folks’ passions.

Will was very impressed with this 20 mm round . . .

I give thanks for the opportunity to learn new things. To listen. To stand in awe. To be impressed. To be humbled.

Such a small bedroom. I think I shall refrain from complaining about my storage space from now on!

Exploring and learning and standing in awe are truly good for the soul.

I learned a lot.  But more than anything I was blessed by these sparkling eyes and Will’s awe and wonder and delight and his beautiful smile!

Exploring and growing and learning – what a wonderful way to experience blessings!

Even with a mask on you can see his smile!

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