Archive - September 2006

National Museum of American History
Back into the swing of things

National Museum of American History

We were able to take advantage of Labor Day by going to visit the Museum of American History’s last day of being open. They are closing for 2 years to do some extensive renovation. We live about 15 minutes from the National Mall, and on government holidays, we can usually find parking right in front of the Smithsonian museum that we are visiting. We got there good and early, and were able to walk around the grounds a bit before the museum opened.

One of the first things that we saw was the flag that hung on the Pentagon after September 11.

Here it is at the museum: We also saw the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner.” Pictures were not allowed in that exhibit. But this link has a picture, as well as being a really great site to learn more about the flag. You can hover over the flag and learn interesting facts about the flag and its history. There are links about the renovation of the American History Musuem and the new gallery they are building for this flag.

I was impressed at how large the flag was and was surprised to learn that the big hole in it was not from the battle. Apparently, the owners of the flag allowed people to cut pieces from it as souvenirs, including one of the stars.

The museum had a neat display of model ships and this fun masthead.

In the section about American Pop Culture, we saw some of the original Muppets and Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”

They aren’t as bright red as I’d imagined they’d be. The ruby slippers are moving to the National Air and Space museum, just across the Mall, for the duration of the renovation.

We saw these chairs from “All in the Family.”

I immediately got the theme song in my head, and I bet you do now, too…”Boy, the way Glen Miller played. Songs that made the Hit Parade. Guys like us, we had it made. Those were the days.”

Boo and Pumpkin Girl were completely unimpressed by the Bunkers’ chairs. I figured the other pop culture displays would be lost on them, too. They were getting hungry anyway, so we headed downstairs for lunch at the Subway sandwich place in the musuem. Next to Taco Bell, Subway is Boo’s absolute favorite place to eat. We haven’t found one close enough in a good neighborhood, so this was an extra special treat. The restaurant was decorated like a 1930’s era soda shop.

After lunch, we let the kids play at the hands-on science center, wandered around a bit more, then went to the gift shop. Boo bought a key chain for his collection and Pumpkin got George Washington and Abe Lincoln’s families as paper dolls. Paper dolls always frustrated me as a child, those tabs never kept the clothes on, so I turned her paper dolls into magnets. They live on her metal closet door.

Another good day and great fun was had by all.



Back into the swing of things

The first week of our new school year went well. We learned to work around Bip by sitting on the floor to read as much as we can while he climbs all around us. Boo likes having an assignment sheet and working on some of his subjects on his own. This is something new for us this year as he starts moving towards working independantly. When it is time for me to put Bip down for a nap, I can leave Boo to work on his assignment sheet. He is usually done by the time I return. I figured out to do the teaching portion of math first, then take care of Bip. Then Boo is free to do his worksheets without needing to wait for me to return and explain his math. I guess that’s kind of a no-brainer, but it was just one of many little things we needed to work out. In the past, math was the last subject of the day.

Our first official nature walk got rained out by Tropical Storm Ernesto. We attempted to walk anyway, but the wind was too strong for Pumpkin Girl. We did get a chance to walk last week, though. We identified a pin oak tree and made some guesses about the gulls flying overhead. We need a closer look at the gulls to be sure. While we got the mail today, Pumpkin and I spotted a bunny in our neighbor’s yard. We’re not sure if it’s the same bunny that lives in our yard. We also collected a leaf and two seed pods from what I suspect is a maple tree.

We also picked up on our knitting lessons again, did some mind bender puzzles (logic) and started our home economics course. As I was explaining what the home ec book was about, Boo was making a face. I said that even though the picture on the cover was of a little girl, it’s important for boys to know how to care for their home, too. I reminded him that Daddy had made dinner the night before, and he always helps with the dishes and does all the vacuuming. Then Boo said, “well, I hope we start with learning to cook.” Fortunately, our lessons do start in the kitchen, nutrition specifically. The children are keeping a chart of the foods they eat all week and which food group they belong to. We’ll get into food prep next week.

I had wanted to report back on what I am using for the children’s readers. I borrowed a Catholic third grade reader from my next door neighbor. Both Pumpkin and Boo could read it, which further confirms the reading test results from a few weeks ago. I was looking for books for them to read that will improve their skills but have age appropriate subject matter. These books, first published in the 1890’s, are certainly not objectionable. The only problem is, they are boring! The exact word that comes to mind is esoteric. yawn. I gave Boo my copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which seems to be more to his liking. I am unsure at this point if I will keep pursuing actual “readers” for them or just let them read whatever they feel like it, within reason. Pumpkin Girl seems interested in the Little House series, but even those books will be beyond her level of maturity at some point. I believe there is a similar “boys” series that Boo might like, too.

So there’s our week. Nothing too outstanding, but I didn’t want you all to think that I dropped off the face of the earth or anything.

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