September 22, 2010

Day 5--Yorktown

Today was WAY fun! We got another early start (thank you, Lucan), but since we wanted to be on the road by 9 a.m., it worked out well. We're in a pretty good routine with getting showers and breakfast done, lunches packed, and everyone herded out the door. Today's first item was a family tour starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until noon. There were 3 homeschool families in our group with 17 people total, with "Mr. Jack," a tall, elderly, soft-spoken man as our tour guide. Jack was wonderful at engaging the kids, really drawing them into the discussion and helping them make connections.

First stop was a set-up of a Continental Army camp. As you can imagine, the boys were most interested in this! After a stop to learn about "medicine," however, both Tobin and Charis informed me that they weren't feeling so well, LOL. Obviously they take after their mother, who does NOT take after HER mother, who spent years in the nursing profession! Just TALKING about amputations, cauterizing blood vessels, infections, etc., was enough to make my kids woozy! Fortunately, their attention was quickly diverted as we saw the officers' quarters, the kitchen, and another demonstration of loading and firing muskets.

Next we went to a "middling" farm, a typical middle class homestead, with one building for the family to live in and another as the kitchen, a sign that the family was doing pretty well, to have the kitchen as a separate room altogether. Incidentally, I had never heard of this! I guess I always pictured something from "Little House on the Prairie!" But it makes sense...having the kitchen be a completely different building would keep the house cooler during the summertime, as well as prevent flies and smoke from invading and saturating the main living area. Inside the kitchen were lots of hanging dried herbs and vegetables, and even dried meats.

One amusing thing that happened in/near the kitchen was that a friendly turkey followed us in and began pecking at the snack mix on Lucan's stroller tray! Lucan looked rather alarmed at first, but then seemed to enjoy the commotion, which greatly distracted the rest of the class, LOL.

We saw the materials for dishwashing, soap-making, and cloth preparation and dyeing. We got a first-hand look (and sniff) at the building housing dried tobacco, the main cash crop of the day. And we saw the slaves' garden area. One thing I guess I didn't realize was that even this "middle class" of people, families who lived in a one-room house, typically had slaves. Again, I'm coming from a "Little House" mindset, which was a couple of decades after the Civil War in what was then "western" territory--so in my mind, I've always thought it was just the rich people on plantations who were slave owners. Not so. Quite sobering.

Mr. Jack next led us down a time line trail and gave highlights of events leading up to the Revolutionary War, and then he took us around the museum. This was good, because he pointed out items of particular interest, which helped focus the kids' attention and keep them from getting too bored. (Although I must point out that by the time we got into the museum, Arden had given up all semblance of paying attention and was completely absorbed with playing with a young friend he made on the tour, who was carrying Civil War soldiers in his pocket. The two acted out their own battle scenes and had a merry time.)

All in all, the two hours really did fly by! And Tobin mentioned multiple times how much he liked the things we did and saw, so that was encouraging. :-) We retrieved our picnic lunch from the Suburban and enjoyed eating together in a shady spot. Then we went back to the museum and watched a 20-minute video before wandering around the soldiers' camp and the museum a bit more to see some things we had missed previously.

We drove through Yorktown itself and out to the battlefield, where we realized we'd have to pay to get into the park. Since Lucan had conked out by this time, and we weren't entirely convinced that the kids would find it all that interesting, we turned around and headed back to the Victory Center parking lot, where we parked and let the older kids climb back out so they could mount a redoubt, an earthen defensive area actually used by the Welsh during the battle for Yorktown. I stayed behind with Lucan, who was supposed to be sleeping (remember?!). He had been awakened when Arden crinkled an empty Sunchips wrapper in his face. Honestly, son?! WHY?! I snapped at Arden, making him get out of the Suburban and go with everyone else, because I did not want him poking at Lucan anymore. This for some reason seems to be a thing with him. (This was not the first time this week that he had wakened a Lucan who had FINALLY fallen asleep after a looooong morning and afternoon!) So Arden stomped along but refused to get in any of the pictures. If you look at our pictures on Facebook from today, you'll see one of him looking AWAY from the redoubt, and you can just imagine him sulking in the distance, because that is what he was doing!

Thankfully Lucan fell asleep again, and the ride home was extremely quiet, with Kenna conking out along with her little brother and the older kids reading. We tried to stop for ice cream cones at McDonald's, but they told us they were "out" of ice cream. (How can you run out of ice cream?! Honestly!) So instead I ran into the grocery store and spent $3.08 for 1 1/2 quarts of yummy cherry-chocolate ice cream, which we took back to the condo and enjoyed once everyone was awake again. Since we returned earlier than we had the past couple of days, we also enjoyed about an hour or so in the pool with the kids, a great way to cool off after a hot afternoon.

We had frozen pizza (that we cooked, ha) for dinner, then put Lucan to bed and piled on the bed in Ted's and my room and watched Night at the Museum 2: Battle at the Smithsonian. The kids had watched the first movie with us a few months ago, so it was fun to revisit the characters. Plus, we plan to see some parts of the Smithsonian museums while we're in D.C., so the kids got a kick out of that.

And with that, it's time to sign off and get to bed! Tomorrow: Jamestown!

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