Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US History: WWII part 2

We have moved into a more personal part of our US History mega unit.  WWII was the part of the history book I always hoped we'd get to in school, but we never did.  My dad was a small child during the war, and my Mom was born near the end.  I know my Grammy Ann (who reads this blog!) was in the Navy as a very young woman during WWII, but I don't know the details (and would like too, hint, hint!).

I had a lot of names floating around, allusions that had never quite gelled into real places, people or things: the Maginot Line, Ardenne, Vichy France, The Desert Fox, barrage balloons. But I grew up with people for whom all these things were real, in the way that the Twin Towers are real to me, and not to my children.   When I visit New York, it's like an absent tooth in the skyline and an almost physical pain, but to the next generation, they were never real, it was always a hole.

In the same way, as I learn more about this war, it's ghosts coalesce and become real to me, and I can see the world that shaped my parents and grandparents.

We've been moving rather chronologically, from the causes of WWII and the rise of Hitler, through the Nazi expansion throughout Europe, Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Japanese expansion in China, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

I told the Zoomlians it was a month after D-Day and they each had to write a letter to me explain which branch of the service they had joined and why they just had to do it.  I loved their answers, by turns silly and touching.

Klenda was an Army Nurse, helping save as many soldiers as she could, Leena joined the Navy so she could (improbably) "nuke the Nazis," Mxyl joined the Air Force because "We can't just assume that if we ignore the war, the war will ignore us anymore," Zorg joined the Army, got a grenade launcher and summed it up, "The US Army needs help and I'm givin' it!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

US History: WWII part 1

Despite the lack of blogging, we have been sailing along in high tide on World War II!

We actually started back during our visit to Mumpy and Pa, quizzing Pa about his experiences during the war (he was a little kid, but even little kids knew about blackout drills, rationing, and how to identify enemy planes!).

We have found an embarrassment of riches when it comes to resources.  We have been using a number of excellent books including World War II for Kids (which I have found more useful for it's primary sources - letters and interviews - than for the activities), Woeful Second World War (one of the irresistible Horrible Histories series), and several of the Dover coloring books (especially Color Your Own Patriotic Posters, and Story of World War II).

We also stumbled upon the series Why We Fight, propaganda reels made during the war.  On the plus side, the series is a gripping narrative about the events leading up to America's entrance into the war - they were done by Frank Capra with actual war footage from both sides!  Also, since they were made while the war was going on, there is a lot of suspense...

On the negative, it's propaganda - very one sided, down to the use of racial epithets.  For us, that was more to talk about - why do people at war need to make the other side less than human? 

We also looked at part of Hitler's propaganda film Triumph of the Will.  Scary stuff, and a good answer to the question, "Why did people follow Hitler?"

Here's the first episode of Why We Fight:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sad News

We lost our little one.  Please keep us in your prayers for the next week or so.

I should be back to blogging soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sorry, No Posting

This is a case where no news in bad news.  I started bleeding and I've been on bed rest.  Now I'm off bed rest, but it's unclear what is happening. 

The good news is that the baby could be totally fine and this is just a side effect of the medicine I'm taking to keep the little one safe (progesterone).  The bad news is, well, the little one could be gone.

I'm having another blood test today, and probably a sonogram Monday.  Please pray for us!  I'll let you know when I know something.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baby Names

We actually picked out names for all the kids before we were expecting any of them.  Still, playing the baby name game is always fun, especially when you ask younger kids.

So far, Oob thinks we should call the new baby Zee Zee Belle.  Kind of tough if it's a boy.

Choclo wants Bobo.  Unfortunately, Pa used to sing the song "Bobo the Pig Faced Boy" to me when I was little, and I think Bobo the Pig Faced Boy would be a tough name if the baby is a girl.  I explained this (and sang the song, which goes, "Bobo, the pig faced boy, was his mother's pride and joy!") and he came up with an alternative idea.

Could we call the new baby Explosion?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Cave Museum

Last Friday (yeah, I know I haven't been too up to date on the blog!), we went to The Cave Museum, which the rest of the world knows as Luray Caverns.

 I had been wanting to visit Luray since I first heard about it in High School Geology.  Amazingly, it was worth the wait!

The kids were quite mesmerized as well, although Choclo insists that it was "The Cave Museum."

It was a great chance to talk about all things Geology: sedimentary rocks, dripstone and flowstone formations, and geologic time.  Plus it was just awesome! 

The top picture was my favorite part: Dream Lake.  It's actually super shallow (20" at it's deepest), but so still it is a perfect mirror of the ceiling.

Choclo was, I think, the  most impressed with the cave (at least he's the one that keeps talking about it several days later).  His favorite part of the expedition was "Fried eggs, baked in a cave!" which he says with an air of happy incredulity.

We also visited the antique car museum.  I made an effort to link the cars with the time periods we had been studying, but soon got overwhelmed with the wow factor.  It really was amazing, and it made a big impression on Choclo.  I overheard him telling an adult friend that the Car Museum was his favorite part.

When he asked her if she had gone to the car exhibit, she told him, no, she had just been to the cave.  Amazed, he asked her, "Do you despise cars?"

For the record, she didn't.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wild West City

This was a blast!  Wild West City is a a town set up as a real Wild West town staffed by historical reenactors.

You can wander through the town and watch the blacksmith, and so forth, while, throughout the course of the day, all sorts of cowboy and bandit dramas (and comedies!) play out along the main street.

Sometimes they invite you to play along!  This picture is the deputized Zoomlians forming a posse to go after the bandits who held up the stagecoach.
We went panning for gold and found some!  I'm thinking it's either pyrite or a good start on a college fund...

We had fun in the sheriff's office. 
Why, yes, I do enjoy taking pictures of my kids in jail!

This is Oob being held up on the train ride.  You can see a desperado behind him.
And they had pony rides!  Leena was sure this was the perfect pony for her, and I am hard pressed to deny it!
My favorite was watching the kids on the stagecoach (I decided that Bumpy ride + Morning sickness = Mom takes pictures!).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homeschool Vacation

My mom asked, "Wouldn't it be a great homeschooling project to teach the kids how to cut down a tree?"


So, when we went up to visit, we all learned chainsaw safety and how to take down trees.

 First you figure where you want the tree to fall (very important!).

Then you cut a V shaped chunk out of the trunk on the side where you want the tree to fall.

Remember to use ear protection!

Then you cut a slit on the other side of the tree just above the point of your V.

Give it a shove and yell "TIMBERRRRRR!"
The Zoomlian's reaction?

"Let's do another one!"

We went on to cut up the tree and clear the mess.  Start to finish it was less than  90 minutes with everyone helping.

Friday, August 5, 2011

We're Back!

And there are more of us!  Yes, as you can see in the sidebar widget, we are expecting a brand new Zoomlian at the end of next March!