Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Year Anniversary in Our Home

    One year ago today, we closed on our house here in scenic Northern Virginia!  I love it here! We are all having a blast!  I love the scenery!  I love living near the mountains, the horse country, the farms.  I like the fact that we are close to the ocean.  There is so much variety here. Then there are all the historic sites and the best place of all, Colonial Williamsburg! On the other hand we are struggling to fit in to Northern Virginia. We are narrowing down church choices, even though we don't feel strong ties at either one. I've been told it takes about a year to plug in. Well it's been a year but we haven't found our niche up here yet.  Nevertheless we love Virginia, especially our times in Colonial Williamsburg! We've had fantastic times there! Whenever we get worn down by the hustle and bustle of the DC area, it's wonderful to head down to the 4mph society. 

    Last year we looked at every house in Northern Virginia in our price range...for a month...and laid down several offers before one was accepted. Another month in a hotel in Fredericksburg and we finally closed on a home of our own.  We got a great house that survived all the snow!  We fared far better than other areas.  We were blessed to get this house at the bottom of the market. We live in a lovely area for a great deal. All our neighbors hire out while we are do-it-yourselfers. It fits our budget! When they buy plants for the yard, they are full grown and are planted by professionals. We took a look at the price of one of those fully grown trees and nearly passed out.  We buy our flowers, bushes and trees at Lowes for minimal price and my husband plants them himself. We have lots of wanna-be trees in our yard, so they don't look like much yet.

     We inherited a playscape in the backyard which our kids are too big for.  I can't find pictures of it intact, but here it is being dismantled. We sold it to a neighbor.



With the money we got all these (hydrangea, azelea, peony, cherry laurel, etc) at Lowes.



My husband spent a couple of weeks digging up sod, ammending the soil and planting these bushes.



We put some out front and some in the back, but most were planted along the side of the house.



Meanwhile my husband has also been working on the kitchen. Shortly after New Year's he started painting the kitchen cabinets. Before painting, he redid the cabinet over the stove to accomodate a microwave oven.  When we purchased the house, there was no microwave.  We couldn't simply install one over the stove. To meet code, we had to somehow raise the cabinet.  I suggested to my husband that he take the cabinet down, cut off the bottom and reinstall it as open cabinetry. Then the microwave would be high enough above the stove.  Then my husband put beadboard around the sides of the cabinets and the inside of the newly opened cabinetry. Then he dismantled all the doors and started painting and adding new hardware. Finally at the end of March, when the kids and I returned from a trip to Colonial Williamsburg to visit with friends, we discovered that the cabinets were done!     

 

 This is the palette for the rest of the projects. We now have the new laminate countertops in place. This weekend my husband will install the backsplash.



Monday, April 26, 2010

Herb Gardening in Northern Virginia

     Last autumn one of my friends asked me what I was going to do with my herbs over the winter.  Um...leave them in the ground. I am new to gardening in Northern Virginia, so I'm not sure how much of my Texas gardening techniques will work here. I purchased a set of herbs at Colonial Williamsburg and kept them near my kitchen sink, since I was afraid they'd never survive a winter outdoors. Sadly, the herbs need more sunlight than even my sunny windows allowed, so I planted my herbs in a new garden my husband had prepped for me.  I asked him to add peat moss to the clay and he might have added manure and soil conditioner (gypsum) as well. I don't remember.  When I tried to plant the herbs, ugh!  I could barely dig into the ammended soil. Only the top couple of inches were friable.  In other words, he didn't work the ammendments into the soil, like it needed, because the clay was that tough.  I did my best to plant the herbs, planting them shallowing and piling ammended soil around them.

     When autumn came, I was extremely busy with homeschooling, costumes and moving in (still) that I decided to let the herbs ride out the winter cold, like I used to do in Texas.  I had been told that winter snows in Northern Virginia were rare and not deep. Boy was that an understatement!  The Washington DC area broke the record from the late 1880's, when snowfall records began to be recorded. Normally we might get 6" of snow; this past season we tallied over 53" of snow!  It certainly was beautiful and fun to play in. However, I knew those herbs and possibly other plants were dead.

     Imagine my surprise this spring, when I discovered that two of my herbs had survived (as well as all of my other plants): chives and sage!  Encouraged, I bought more herbs at the Colonial Williamsburg Nursery. When I planted them, I was surprised that the ground had become considerably friable in the last year.  I had absolutely no problem digging deeply and planting rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano and more chives. The two that survived the snow are on the far left.



    I also purchased chocolate mint



and orange mint.



I had grown some of this in my Texas garden.  My mom has always been amazed that I could grow mint.  I was equally amazed that my mom, a green thumb, could not grow mint.  I kept telling her it was effortless.  I had mint all over my gardens.  It is an invasive plant, which I liked.  I planted it in the ground and allowed it to spread.  Periodically I would weed it out, allowing the roots to rip out of the dirt, loosening it up. It was a great way to make the soil more arable for other plants.  However, I decided we might not want that feature in this yard.  Therefore I put them in pots. I plan to add flowers, perhaps Impatience next month.  

      So, to my friends who have asked me how I garden in Northern Virginia, here are the things we did and the results.  I'm glad to finally have my herb garden underway!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg EFT: Treasure Keepers

     Treasure Keepers was the most recent Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip.  This EFT was interesting, in part because we've had up close and personal eye-to-eye contact with the subject matter. More on that later.

       My husband got in on this one by sitting in on our preparation. First I read through the background information provided in the teacher resource packet. That didn't take long and prepared us for the unique video segments of this EFT.  Bouncing between teen hosts who acted as Crime Scene Investigators of agents of decay, we learned the value of the CW conservators who showcased highlights from their job, working with objects in archeology, furniture, paper, and even music. They carefully take artifacts that have been damaged over time, to either restore and/or protect from further destruction.  Because these artifacts are a window to the past, they are carefully studied and cleaned up. Depending on how strong it is, it may be put in a place for the public to view.  If fragile, it may be safely stored for a future conservator with knowledge of new techniques of preservation.  My son's e-mail question led a conservator to suggest my son might be one of these in the future!

   A few months ago we did a behind the scenes tour at Colonial Williamsburg, where we got to meet the archaelogy conservator who was one of several featured in the EFT. Also we recognized one of the historic pieces shown in the video...an old tombstone that the archaeologist explained in detail to us during the tour.  We got to stand in the actual lab and ask questions about her job.  We talked a lot about that tombstone and it was a great story. In fact, my daughter's e-mail question featured this tombstone, and her question was answered on the air!  By the way, the behind the scenes tours vary and each time we get to see a different lab. 

     We also did the two computer based games together. The first was looking at an attic full of antiques and agents of destruction. We had to identify the problem areas and solve them.  The other activity was about the historic model at the Virginia Capitol. We toured the capitol last year and got to see this model. As changes were made to the actual capitol over the years, the same changes were made to the model.  We got to see different scientific methods were used, like x-ray, to study the layers of paint, fibers on windows, the inside structure, etc. Then they made another model of the original to show for a comparison. They can be seen today at the statehouse.

     Before the live broadcast, we did some activities. Actually going through the timeline of the history of conservator-ship (is there such a word?) was fascinating. We were surprised that it dates back to the 18th century!  We also analyzed some artifacts and made choices on how much to restore and which parts to preserve.  Sometimes wear and tear IS history and tells a story of the past.   

    On the night of the live broadcast, my kids were telling their dad all about it during dinner.  Afterwards the kids and I began  our evening walk/bike ride, but first my husband, who had been digging in the yard to plant bushes, told the kids he had found some "artifacts".  These pieces have our imaginations running wild now.  Most likely broken pieces of pottery found their way to the yard in the last few years. But then how likely is this, considering we have garbage pick up weekly. This is a ten year old neighborhood. Then we would like to imagine that these pieces survived construction equipment. Civil War battles were fought near here.  Two hundred years ago this was plantation land.  It's fun to think that these pieces are older than newer, but that might be more imagination than reality.  

 

     Since this was the final program for this season of EFT's, the show ended with a preview of the 2010-2011 season.  The kids and I were especially interested in the previews of the EFT we got to be extras in earlier in the week. Our imaginations are working double time to figure out how all the scenes will pull together for the story line. The plot is intriguing and has already prompted much discussion for us in light of historical things we have learned.  All the programs in next year's line-up look great! Stay tuned for the announcement from Homeschool Buyers Co-op for subscription information for the next season of EFTs!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Speechlessly Meeting Astronaut Charlie Duke

     Several years ago I got to meet astronaut Charlie Duke, who walked on the moon during Apollo 16.  He wrote a book, Moonwalker, about his training as an astronaut, his adventures on the moon, and about his Christian testimony. I went to a Christian bookstore to meet him.  I got a friendly smile, a warm handshake, an autographed book, and I even got to meet his wife, Dottie.  However I was hopelessly speechless.  I could not even imagine a question for a man who had walked on the moon.  I stand speechless when I'm around some of the Founding Fathers at Colonial Williamsburg too. When I leave any of these famous people, my brain frees up and I think of all kinds of questions. oh well.  I must admit that the space race was never something that interested me.  I always took it for granted. Meeting Charlie Duke, however, created a connection of interest for me.  He's a great motivational speaker, whom my husband got to meet at a prayer breakfast one time. He also lives in the town where I student taught in Texas.     

   When I watched the HBO series on the space race, I had difficulty following the history the way it was presented.  I found some resources and concentrated...and became fascinated by the intricacies of the development of the space program.  My favorite in the series was the geologist turned astronaut, Jack Schmidt.  I took geology in college and took numerous field trips in central Texas, collecting and identifying rocks. That was the connection point for me.  I got the reason why collecting moon rocks was so important, although I look at it from a Creationist viewpoint as opposed to an Evolutionist one.

     Then came Apollo 13.  I'll never forget the first time I saw it.  I'm not a fan of movie theaters but I had seen interviews with the key actors, director and Jim Lovell and couldn't wait to see this movie.  Amazing!  By now I knew my astronaut history well enough to know this movie was extremely accurate and well dramatized.  Not long after I was on a boat ride with some friends who pointed out Jim Lovell's lake house as we rode by!

     Then I found the movie, The Right Stuff. Though interesting, humorous and based on fact, parts were obviously contrived. I know that LBJ had a reputation, but surely he wasn't hokey. Base housing is pretty bad and I've lived in base housing, but I'm wondering if it was that bad at Edwards AFB as shown in that movie. Everything about Texas was hokey in that movie. I find it hard to believe that those parts are accurate. Then there was the "witchcraft" during John Glenn's orbit around the earth, particularly over Australia.  I can't find reference to any of that in the NASA notes. I've also questioned Chuck Yeager's plane crash.  I did a bit of research and found out that he did crash (and survive) but it had nothing to do with using a brand new plane for selfish reasons. He was on a legitimate test mission and the plane failed. Obviously many liberties were taken with this movie, which is too bad.  It's a great story that could have stood on its own.

      Then one morning I woke up to sad news. The space shuttle Columbia had disintegrated over the skies of Texas. As soon as it hit the shelves, I purchased the book about one of the astronauts, Rick Husband, written by his wife and called, High Calling. This is an incredible book about his career, family and faith. Rick Husband was truely an amazing man. I got a copy of the book on tape for my husband, since he isn't a book person.  (I feel it is my mission in life to turn people on to books!)  He enjoyed listening to it on his long drives in to work.    

    In August 2005 we visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston. While driving from San Antonio to Houston, I popped in the audio CD of High Calling, about space shuttle astronaut, Rick Husband.  When we first drove in, my husband made a wrong turn and a friendly fellow kindly explained to us that we had turned in at the astronaut's entrance. He redirected us to the proper place.  It was during one of the space shuttle missions and while we toured the main museum, we could watch everything that was happening on the space shuttle via the giant media screens at the top of the walls. As I recall there was a space walk because there was concern that some of the heat shield tiles had fallen off. I think this was the first mission after the Columbia explosion, so the local area was tense. Fortunately all was well and all came home safe!   We took a tour of the facilities, including some of the rooms you see in Apollo 13, basically mission control.  We sat in the very room the Lovell family sat as they watched their dad give his television spot that no one was watching.  We saw the very room where all the scientists sat in front of their monitors working through the mission. The gift shop was full of items with the logos, "Houston, we have a problem." and "Failure is not an option." There were lots of interactives and we had an incredible time.  I think we managed to do everything!               

     Now we have studied the Space Race in school. Apart from the previously mentioned resources, which we've used or will use, we've also added some new resources to our collection which we have thoroughly enjoyed! 

      One of our history books we read was Mission Control, with paintings by astronaut Alan Bean. I enjoyed reading about his art technique and his brilliant idea to incorporate elements as an art medium from his moon walk! My favorite story was about the first flight around the moon. The astronauts were fascinated not only with seeing the moon up close, but seeing the backside that no one had ever seen before.  The astronauts were busy taking millions of pictures, when they began to see earth in the far distance as they came around to the front of the moon again.  Their talkativeness and busy-ness turned to silent awe at the beauty of the earth...  an azure marble beauty set against the black void of space.  Amazing considering the discontent of the 1960's was raging below the atmosphere. One of the astronauts took a picture of that stunning view which became a news magazine cover shot and perhaps the most famous from space.  Amazing how earth is perceived from a different perspective. 

     I also purchased Destination Moon by James Irwin, one of the Apollo astronauts. He was a Christian who came to a deeper faith in his walk because of this out of the world voyage.  This is a book for children (dialectic level) that shares his experiences as an astronaut with stunning photos!  

      I certainly have learned a lot since the days I was speechless in front of an astronaut! 

    

Monday, April 19, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg Sewing Class-Fly Fringe

In April I took another sewing class with the Costume Design Center as part of their 75th anniversary celebration.  This time I learned how to make fly fringe which was used to decorate ladies' 18th century gowns. The history of fly fringe has something to do with fly fringe decorating a horse's forelock. Or something like that. lol
The work is quite tedious because it requires precision in making knots. Now that should not be any trouble for me. I am notorious for knots! However part of the trick is to make them at consistently equal distances.They have to be perfectly spaced.



Here is my fly fringe with the silk ribbon flower that I made.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

18th Century Breeches-Unpuzzled

       Daunted by the thought of sewing colonial breeches, I've asked for lots of advice. Afterall, a friend couldn't figure out the historic pattern at all. Since we had the same pattern, I thought I would do as much as possible this week and wherever I got stuck, take that to Colonial Williamsburg on our next trip and look for a friendly soul who could help me.  One afternoon my husband found me with the pattern pieces carefully laid out, trying to match up where the next piece of fabric would go on the partially completed breeches.  He saw the same deep, pondering, quizzical look on my face that I usually get when I work puzzles, logic games, etc and mentioned it.  Yes, these breeches have been like a great puzzle. Busy as I am, I was compelled to conquer the pattern and figure out where the next piece goes. I learned a lot!  I have a huge appreciation and understanding of breeches now.



     In trepidition of starting this project, I asked a lady at the CW Costume Design Center last year during the Open House how difficult they were to sew. She said they were easy and I would have no trouble.  That's easy for her to say! She makes them all the time for the interpreters!  I asked the milliner and she shuddered and refused to talk further. I asked the tailor and he told me to take his class!  I liked that idea but my husband isn't open to my taking 3 day classes at Burnley and Trowbridge.  I would learn so much in these classes about actual sewing and fitting garments to the person as done in the 18th century by highly gifted tradespeople like the milliner and tailor. 

     With the impossibility of taking a class, I forged ahead and completed the basic sewing on the breeches.  They were too big on my son who is tall and thin.  I took in and made them tight in the legs and loose, but not too loose, in the upper portion.  He is quite pleased with the look and comfort. There is a mistake in one of the legs, in the pockets and in the waistband. He is so thin I can't figure out how to properly take them in at the waist. My attempts to fit the breeches around his waist were awful! I finally decided to work from the bottom up, because the fit around the knee is imperative. I worked our way up and it wasn't too awful.  I suggested he put on his Lafayette costume to see how it looked. He came down in his colonial shirt tucked in to the breeches and the waistcoat on top of that. No one can see all the problems with the waistband and pockets.  They actually look fairly decent!

     My son is ecstatic with them and hoping I can complete them before our next trip to CW. We still need buckles for the knee.  I found some oval ones at Burnley and Trowbridge to order.  Hmmmm, but does my son's favorite actor wear oval ones or square? In my memory, he wears square ones and I knew that would be important to my son. I asked him.  My son said he has to have the square ones because that is what the actor wears. Hmmm, that is what I thought. The search is on! This actor has been a huge encouragement to my son, who now wants to major in history in college and is hitting the history books we read each week (averaging 50-100 pages a week) with a more positive outlook. If my son wants square buckles as opposed to oval ones, I'll look for square buckles! 

     Now that I've puzzled and worked through the sewing of breeches, I have greater appreciation for those who professionally sew them!  There are many mistakes in mine. I am looking forward to learning how to correct the mistakes next time.  I took a lot of information I've been able to gather to look at how I sewed these.  I couldn't figure out how to use the information before I started, because I wasn't sure where all the pieces went. Now that I am done, the information makes more sense. I am in amazement at how the experts have adjustments to body shape completely figured out so they can be flexible when they sew to an individual.   

    The next costume puzzlement for my son's summer costume is the cravat.  I can't find any information on them at all.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Son's Big Moment with a San Antonio Spur at my Old High School

      For 3 years I attended West Campus High School, a lowly school that no longer exists after a huge flood  and local politics destroyed it a few years ago. One notable person came out of that school, Devin Brown.  Several years ago he led West Campus to a state championship, then went on to UTSA where he led his team to a collegiate victory, and later entered the ranks of the San Antonio Spurs where he helped the team win another national championship.  



     One summer I took the kids to the Lackland AFB commissary and we saw this previous Spur signing autographs. Devin Brown was now playing for the Utah Jazz and was offering basketball camps through the city.  One would be at our old high school, West Campus! Although this camp was only one day, it was extremely affordable and I enrolled my son. He got to meet Devin Brown...



He wore a West Campus Coog (Cougar) jersey, which was way too big for him....



He was even trained by Nevil Shed, assistant baseketball coach at UTSA. He coached Devin Brown when he attended college there. Later he gave a pep talk to the kids, telling about his background.  His story is featured in the Disney movie, Glory Road, based on the true story of racial discrimination in the 1960's, when a gutsy head coach encouraged heroic champion potential African American players, like Shed, to join his team in Texas and won a historic collegiate championship!   



My son had a great time and was totally worn out by the end of the day. 



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LBJ Country

     Last week we wrapped up our study of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, someone I thought I knew something about. I grew up less than 2 hours from where he grew up in the peaceful Texas Hill Country.  Whenever friends or family came to visit, we'd always take them out of the city of San Antonio to LBJ Country. I had heard some negative things about LBJ before, but our last visit in 2007 surprised me, when I heard and read some of the negatives at the museums. Recently someone asked if our history books glossed over the mistakes of the presidents.  I never thought they did. Now that I can compare the information the kids and I read to that which we've experienced touring LBJ Country, I can definitely say that the books recommended by TOG do give both sides of the story.  The museums at the LBJ Boyhood Home in Johnson City and at the ranch in Stonewall now include the rest of the story as well.  Since the big news items are so well known, such as his unexpected need to step in to the presidency upon Kennedy's assassination and his Great Society programs, as well as his indescretions, I thought I'd share the other side of the story. 

      Since I thought I've come to know LBJ's family background and early years so well, I am a bit surprised at the negatives in his life later on.  His grandfather and uncle lived on land  (Johnson Settlement) in the Texas Hill Country, raising longhorn, until the Civil War broke out. They left to fight for the Confederacy. When they returned home the longhorn herd had increased, as it had done throughout the rest of the state, thereby allowing the cattle drives to start booming to the railroad centers in the Midwest.  While the grandfather and uncle were away on the drives, the women had to hold down the "fort", hiding under the dog-trot cabins when the Comanche Indians raided the area.  When you see LBJ Country, you'll see a lot of dog-trot cabins. They are like an open hallway through the middle of the cabin, which allow breezes to blow in to each of the rooms on hot summer days. Later an uncle founded a town, named after him, Johnson City.  

     Johnson City was always our first stop. Here LBJ grew up and his boyhood home can be visited.  Nearby is the grandparent's settlement a short walk away.  Within a mile of each other, you step into two different eras...one of the pioneer days in the 19th century and the other of the early 20th century. We are told that LBJ's mother had a college education and had been a school teacher. She had her children listen to the news on the radio and hold debates. We read in our books that LBJ won debate contests in college. In the house, we'd see a picture on the wall which Mrs. Johnson used to teach her children about vanity.  When you first gaze at the picture, you see a skull. If you look long enough, you see a lady from the turn of the century gazing into a vanity mirror. Mr. Johnson was a Texas state senator. LBJ often crawled under the house to listen to all the political talk. There is now a museum at the boyhood home site. I recall that it showcased much of the Great Society, which my kids and I have been analyzing as to whether it ever achieved its goals. 

      A short drive north of Johnson City is Stonewall, Texas, where the LBJ Ranch is located.  LBJ's father (who hid under the dog-trot cabin with his mother during Indian raids) grew up, got married and settled on the nearby Pedernales River further north and built another dog-trot cabin.  This is where LBJ was born.  Today you see the family cemetary across from the cabin, near the river, where LBJ is buried.  Down the road a bit, is the one room schoolhouse that he attended as a little boy. As president, he returned in great fanfare to sign one of his education acts from his Great Society program, with his schoolteacher sitting next to him.

      I've always taken bus rides from the ranch visitor center to see everything on the other side of the river, including the schoolhouse, the cabin where LBJ was born, the cemetary and the LBJ Ranch. You can even see the old guard shacks for the Secret Service along the river. The last time we went, in July 2007, we had a surprise. A lady walked out of the house to come out and get on the bus to say hi to us. She was LBJ and Ladybird's daughter, Linda Robb from Virginia.  She had just gotten out of the pool with her mother and the nurse, when her mother saw the tour bus coming and told her to go out and greet everyone. She was very nice and spent time talking to all the children. There were actually two parts of the bus, connected like a train. She came on both sections. While she talked to us, Ladybird was wheeled out in a wheelchair and she waved to us. The tour guide said they do that all the time, but in all the times I've been to the ranch, that was a first for me!

     After the visit we toured the rest of the ranch. The next stop was the garage. LBJ had quite the car collection. One was quite the amphibious type. He liked to take guests into the middle of the river with this car, without telling them it was amphibious. We drove by the airstrip on the ranch.  Then we got to see the cattle up close.  The ranch continues to be a working ranch, as per LBJ's instructions.  There's a point where we can get out and see the animals up close. Then we ride back to the museum.  Now that Ladybird has passed away, guests can drive up to the ranch house, or Texas White House, to tour a few of the rooms which are now opened.  The rest of the house is being prepared for tours, restoring it to how it was during LBJ's presidency.

     Other infamous LBJ stops in the area include the university he attended. Originally named San Marcos Normal School (for teachers), it was called San Marcos Teacher's College when LBJ attended.  When I attended, it was Southwest Texas State University and now it is called Texas State University.  There is a lot of LBJ history that I recall from my college days.  

     The LBJ Presidential Library is nearby in Austin, Texas near the University of Texas. My favorite part was being in an exact replica of the Oval Office as it was when he was president.

    As I read about LBJ's faults during our history studies the last few weeks, I was surprised considering the other side of the story that I knew about him. He grew up in the country surrounded by lots of family (mom, dad, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins) and had old fashioned values instilled into him. His growing up years simply do not fit the protype of what we expect, considering how he turned out.  I suppose it all boils down to choices. In the end, which path are we going to choose? What kind of legacy will we leave behind?        

Monday, April 5, 2010

1950's Dialectic History Presentation

 Welcome to our history presentation of the 1950's and 1960's. 



We dressed in 1950's style. My daughter was supposed to wear a lavender sweater, which we realized at the last minute was too large. Then the poodle and rhinestone leash never appeared in the pictures. I struggled to make petticoats for my daughter and myself. I could only find vague instructions and wanted them to be pouffier.  My dress had a lot of mistakes in it.  Nevertheless, here we are!



 For food of the era we ate take out, a new idea in the 1950's.  My husband picked up hamburgers from McDonalds while we got dressed.  McDonald's first opened in the 1950's. While we ate we listened to fifties music.



     For a centerpiece we put out postcards of LBJ's home in Stonewall, Texas about an hour and a half from where we used to live in San Antonio.  We used to visit there a lot and talked about that. A few years ago we even got to meet Ladybird and their daughter Linda Robb from Virginia!  I hope to do an entry on that later.

     In the center was my son's origami project based on the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which is the true story about a Japanese girl dying of leukemia as a result of the fall out of the atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima.  I had lots of paper cranes I had folded and strung into sets to form 1000, based on this story, which my Japanese friend had told me about in college. This was a project for an elementary level geometry class and now I can't find it anywhere.  If I ever find it that will be another blog entry.



 Then my son played a hymn written in the fifties on the piano.



After that we went downstairs for the game show, similar to what was popular in the fifties.  This was set up as a television program with a studio audience.  My husband portrayed the studio audience and the tech guy.  The game show we named "This is Your History."  I should have used silver glitter on a black poster for the sign, but didn't think of that until the last minute. The game show guest hostess, portrayed by me, was Jacqueline Kennedy.  I represented Jackie Kennedy only because she had the White House  decorated and rescued nearby Lafayette Square from destruction. 



     Then I introduced the two contestants, teenagers from the fifties era represented by my kids.  Incidentally I had learned that Jackie Kennedy used to do interviews before she was married.  In fact, that is how she met her husband, when she interviewed him.  My kids' historic interpretation was done off the top of their heads, as was everything in this unit celebration.  The next clip shows me interviewing them before we begin the game show. They did not know the questions I'd ask until a few hours before when I met with them and ran through the questions quickly with them.  We chit chatted about a few ideas and that was that.   Actually the ideas are all theirs. The questions were aimed at their thoughts on the fears of the Cold War while growing up in the fifties and their hopes for the future. Remember they are answering these questions as kids from the Cold War era, not as 21st century kids. (Note: Photobucket tacks on video links after ours has been viewed.  I have no idea what will be suggested nor do we necessarily support them.) These video clips have maxed out my storage at photobucket so I will be deleting them in a couple of weeks. 









Then we began our game show, This is Your History, based on current events of the 1950's and 1960's, done Jeopardy style.  I stayed up late Friday night to put the answers/questions together.  Afterwards, my husband asked what resource I used to find or word them. He was surprised to hear  I made them up myself. I gathered all the books the kids had read the last few weeks (we squeezed 9 weeks into 6) and formed the answers/questions based on their assigned readings.  My husband was impressed that I was able to put it together without any help. I've done this before and it is so much easier than sewing! It's mindless!  Unlike the infamous movie "Quiz Show" that came out a few years ago about a scandal where contestants were given the questions and answers previous to the show, my kids never saw the questions ahead of time. They answered everything from the top of their heads. I can only upload 5 minutes at a time, so I had to clip this. Here are the first 5 minutes of the game. Oh and my son created buzzers at the last minute for the game! I was so impressed that I had to mention it!







This clip is of the last 5 minutes, where we reveal the winner and I wrap up the application of This is Your History! It's a bit slow because I miscued my sound tech who broke down laughing causing us to laugh too!   

We wrapped everything up with ice cream floats and cherry coke while we listened to fifties music. Even though my kids had to think off the top of their heads, this unit celebration is one of their favorites.  It's always fun to mix things up and stretch the brain a little bit.