Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jury Duty

This morning my dad called my mom who was babysitting at my brother's house. He said, "A jury summons came in the mail today." She asked, "Who is it for? Me or you?" He said, "Neither of us, it's for Laurie." My mom just called to inform me of my jury summons and said she will call the San Antonio, Texas courthouse tomorrow to explain that I moved to Virginia three years ago!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Rights of Youth Part II CW EFT

Despite being enormously behind and caught up in a million projects, I am out to conquer blog posts I've left in my draft folder! April's Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip was "Rights of Youth," finishing out the season's EFT run. However subscribers can still access any of the season's EFTs through the end of August!

We saw the debut of this program a couple of years ago, which I blogged about here. We enjoyed it thoroughly again. Whenever we have a rerun of an EFT, I am delightfully challenged to take the lessons up a notch for my kids, giving them a new perspective of the drama that unfolds from our favorite place, Colonial Williamsburg. Being that my kids are a sophomore and senior, my goal in history education is to look at the course of world and American history through the lens of government. Since seniors traditionally take a government class, I like to intermesh it with our history studies to see how today's government in America developed in the past, not only through the debates of our Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention and beyond, but also as influenced by societies who attempted an improvement in the status quo.

In my lesson planning I looked at "The Rights of Youth" through this lens of government and decided to look at the parts of the Constitution that outline the justice system in America. We also covered the Constitutional ammendments that developed new facets in the justice system. I think that covering the justice system out of a government text is one dimmensional. However looking at various documented examples of 18th century youth who broke the law, as memorably dramatized in this EFT, our eyes were opened to how our justice system has developed over the years. One scenario was hilarious! Others were nail biters. They brought the Constitution and Bill of Rights to life.

I have a great book that breaks down the various parts of the Constituion and Bill of Rights, which we accessed because the authors broke down the legalities to everyday language. We learned that the plan of justice as set forth in the Costitution had much of its base in English law. There is nothing like studying a primary source document to see if historians have a valid point to their argument, so we took a look at English documentation as well as examples. We learned that the first documented jury of peers in England dates back to the 11th century! We were even able to go further beyond that to find examples of modern justice in the hsitory of the ancients.

We also did one of the activities provided in the EFT teacher materials involving court terminology: jury of peers, search and seizure, double jeopardy, impartial, self-incrimination, and due process. Exactly what do these words mean? I looked them up in my book or googled them on-line (looking for well-documented sources like law schools, NOT wickipedia) for "the rest of the story." Then we compared them to the 18th century documented case studies to see how they played out (or not) with the youth facing trial. The answers were surprising!

If you're interested in something for your kids to do in the hot summer season, you can still subscribe to the EFTs through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op. Through the summer the EFT videos and Q&As can be accessed at any time, lesson plans are available with a range of activities for elementary age and up. Also the computer games and message boards are still accessible. Stay tuned for the new season of EFTs which will begin in October 2012. Be sure to subscribe to Homeschool Buyer's Co-op for news on when the subscriptions to the 2012-2013 season will be available.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ice Cream, Poetry and Taps

We handcranked homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream! I used the vanilla bean from Colonial Williamsburg that was a prop for our mercantilism activity. I injured my shoulder, again (think I sleep on it wrong), so I was given permission to not to have to hand crank to eat the ice cream. That is a family rule on my husband's side of the family. I insisted that I wanted to, so I got first dibs at the crank, (I may pay for this later) when the cranking is the easiest!
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We also grilled fajitas with mesquite chips that smoked in the grill. Here's the aftermath...
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After dinner on the deck and a walk through the neighborhood, we enjoyed Texas Sheet Cake and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
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Afterwards we had our very own Memorial Day program. I shared the history of Memorial Day. It began after the Civil War, when Union veterans proclaimed Decoration Day (as it was first called) to place flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers. The first ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetary, including prayers, hymns and the laying of flowers on both Union and Confederate graves. The Southern states, however, refused to participate, choosing to honor only their own fallen soldiers on dates of their own choosing. The South did not officially observe Memorial Day until after WWI when the day was expanded to honor soldiers who have fought in all American wars. Most Southern states, however, continue to have their own observances. Honoring the dead dates back to Pericles, leader of the Ancient Athenians, who honored the fallen soldiers of the Peloponnesian Wars.

Then I asked which song most likely comes to the forefront of our mind when thinking of a soldiers' cemetary. My daughter said, "Taps." Exactly. The history of "Taps" has many fanciful stories, but a former bugler for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Jari Villanueva, has researched this topic extensively. In fact, I kept running into his material as I searched on-line. The history of "Taps" began on the site of Berkely Plantation during the Pensiular Campaign in the Civil War. Union major general Daniel Butterfield of Schenectady, NY, reworked an old bugle call for "Lights Out". Apparently all the bugle calls are French in origin and this particular piece was apparently Napoleon's favorite. Butterfield didn't think it appropriate for the end of the day, when the call was to soothe the soldiers and assure them as they fell asleep that all was well and secure. Then I played an audio clip from Villanueva's website where he plays "Taps" with a Civil War Clairon.

We finished the evening by sharing dramatic pieces from my poetry books. We each grabbed a book and found something that appealed to us to share. My son got up the most and performed his pieces with the utomost of expression. My daugher gave expressions of "Oh!" at the end of many of the pieces.

A sampling of the evening...

The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

God Give us Men by Josiah Gilbert Holland

The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

My Native Land by Walter E Isenhour

Valley Forge by Grace Noll Crowell

The secret of happiness if freedom,
and the secret of freedom, courage. -Thucydides

To top off our program, I played a youtube video on the history of Taps and the historical expert was again Jari Villanueva, sharing more stories and playing "Taps" for us. This was especially fascinating in light of having attended Colonial Williamsburg's Drummer's Call last weekend (post forthcoming) where we learnd about some of the history of Tatoo, which Villanueva substantiated and went into more detail with! By the way, this month marks the 150th anniversary of "Taps," originating near Williamsburg during the Peninsular Campaign of the Civil War. (I tried posting the youtube here but it wouldn't take. See the link for "Taps The Bugler's Cry-The Origin of Sounding Taps")

The French and Indian War

In going through my various resources from our previous history curriculum and various history textbooks, I found scanty information about the French and Indian War. I forged ahead with my extra books and resources, studying all week and learned far more than otherwise! As a result we had a great study week even though I had to pull all our materials on my own. I had a bit of help. When I was at CW last week, I talked to Mr. History about the episode where George Washington started the French and Indian War. The kids and I remembered having studied this previously but couldn't remember where. Nor could I find any information on it in the books that our previous curriculum recommended. Mr. History told me about a great book. The bad news is that I would have to order that 600 page book...no time to wait and read all that. Lessons started the next day. The terrific news is that in going through my extra resources, I pulled out 2 DVD documentaries I had that feature this recommended historian! Yea! We were home free with that at least as the foundation! We could watch and take notes on a wealth of incredibly interesting information!

With the foundation laid, I collected all of my other various resources and developed a reading list for my high school kids.

Rousseau and the Revolution by Will Durant (We read 30 pages of terrific information about the Seven Years' War. I got it at a used book store. )

Inventing America: The Life of Benjamin Franklin
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*”Braddock’s Defeat at Fort Duquesne” by Benjamin Franklin (This is an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.)

*The Journal of Major George Washington Published in London and Williamsburg in 1754. Published and sold today in Colonial Williamsburg. I purchased this at the "post office," the store above the print shop in the CW historic area.

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The Many Faces of George Washington by Carla Killough McClafferty

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Above are some pages on the French and Indian War, including a picture of a recreation of Fort Necessity in Great Meadows. Below is one of the highly researched, highly realistic wax figures of George Washington when he was a surveyor and about the age of the French and Indian War. These wax figures can be seen at Mount Vernon, as well as in a traveling exhibit.


I highly recommend the DVDs which are still possible to find on-line to purchase!
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These are previous PBS programs, which are easy to follow yet scholarly with notable experts as mentioned above. Reenactors are shown in the historic locations recreating the events interspersed with historian input onto the facts and interpretations (which are logically valid and not sensational but respectful). The DVDs specifically tell the story with the setting of the disputed Ohio River Valley. George Washington features heavily in this story as does the Virginia colonial capital of Williamsburg! When the Forest Ran Red is part I, which tells the story of the beginning of the war up to Braddock's defeat. George Washington's First War, part II, picks up at Braddock's defeat and goes through the end of the war. The focus of the DVDs is on the Ohio River Valley, though they do mention events in other parts of America, using maps, to show the big picture.

The DVDs provided a strong base of information about the Ohio River Valley campaign. Because my husband is from upstate New York, and we visited the sites of two major French and Indian War battlefields on opposite ends of Lake George, I did a great deal of research to include this information as well as other bits of information to tie everything together in a neat package.

During discussion I led the way with thought provoking ideas weaving together the reasons for war and how all the players were involved in various settings. It turned out to be a great study week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Napoleon, Lunch, Gowns and Gardens at Hillwood Mansion

I have the book, Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion which showcases the gorgeous gowns of the Empire Era which have been on exhibit in Europe. Since I follow the costume blog of one of the exhibit coordinators, I found out that two of the court gowns were on exhibit, The Style that Ruled the Empires: Russia, Napoleon and 1812, in Washington DC at Hillwood Mansion, Museum and Gardens this spring until June 2. That's only an hour from me so today was the day to go, not only to see the gowns but I was also interested in the rest of the Napoleon exhibit. I imagined a teeny weeny museum that would take an hour to tour then we'd be on our way. Oh how surprised I was! We were there all day!

We arrived to a grand 25-acre site with a palatial Georgian mansion and outbuildings surrounded by lush gardens...all of which in turn are surounded by the tall forests. Since I'm not allowed to share any indoor pictures, I'm going to try to weave a description of how this is the go to spot for all people fascinated by not only gardens, but also history from the 18th to early 20th centuries, featuring France and Russia! If you ever wondered where some of the grand decor and military items of Marie Antoinette after the French Revolution, Napoleon's army after the abdication and the Czars of Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution ended up...look no more! We got to enjoy their opulent grandness along with gowns and paintings and swords and furniture and....oh I have to weave it all in!

After an introduction video to learn the history of the estate (which I'll weave later) we went to the cafe for lunch. Along the way we walked through some of the lush gardens and my husband said this was exactly what he was looking for when planning my Mother's Day a few weeks ago. So he said to consider this my belated Mother's Day! I had never given it a second thought but, if he insists! The cafe had an outdoor patio and the weather was absolutely lovely so I chose a table near an assortment of potted peach hibiscus (my favorite garden color) and other scented florals. The air was magnificently perfumed with florals.
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We chose from the 1812 menu, which offered preselections from either a Russian menu or French menu. My husband, daughter and I chose the French menu whereas my son chose from the Russian menu! I asked him, "What would Napoleon say?" (We have met him!) My son grinned but he wanted the salmon! The Russians had the sunrise lemonade (straight lemonade) and the French had sunset lemonade (with grenadine cherry flavoring.) oh no! My son loves cherries! the waitress put some flavoring in his...better not tell the Russians! The French got onion soup, gourmet salad, and chicken salad on croissant.
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The Russians got borsht soup, gourmet salad and cucumber, salmon and a spread on pumpernickel.
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We all tasted my son's borsht since we've never had any. My husband was shocked that it was cold and I tried to explain to him it's supposed to be that way. My son was glad to try it but it wasn't his favorite. He loved the salmon though. For dessert we got Napoleons! The Russians got a marscapone with honey and the French got chocolate! My son wanted a taste so I gave him a bit in return for the honey version and both were good.
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As the waitress refreshed our lemonades, the sunset lemonades all turned to sunrise lemonades.

Then I insisted we visit the Napoleon exhibit first because that one would only be around for one more week. We walked down paths laden with
He liked the honey but preferred the chocolate but at least he got salmon! Overall lunch was excellent, some of the best food I've had since moving to Virginia. (Honestly. We keep running into so-so restaurants out here.)
Then I insted we visit the Napoleon exhibit first because that one would only be around for one more week. We walked down paths heavily laden with hydrangea under the tall tall trees.
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The exhibit was appropriately housed in the Dacha, a Russian country house

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Inside told the story of Napoleon and his Grand Armee in Russia in 1812 through paintings, books, swords, armour, dragoon helmets, rifle, furniture, dinner services, etc, etc, etc. We were not allowed to take any personal pictures in here. I was hoping for an exhibition book to purchase at the gift shop but there isn't any available which is a shame, because the items were amazing. The paintings of the campaign were incredible. We saw the armour and dragoon hats some of the French army wore. The armour was more to deflect long range bullets since it would not be strong enough to withstand any attacks up close. There were two fascinating dragoon helmets, unlike any I've seen before. The grand sword used by Napoleon's step-son was on display. Everything was in impeccable condition, even the sword. The other side of the room showcased the Russian celebratory commemorative pieces that were mass produced shortly after they conquered Napoleon.

In the back center, was the showcase of lovely furniture and two stunning court gowns from the exhibition book, Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion. One of the two gowns on stunning display can be found on page 90 with close-ups on pages 92-93. This gown is made of a sheer narrow striped silk gauze of golden hues. Yesterday I happened to find a lavendar sheer narrow striped voile, 100% cottom. I got all 8 yards of 60" fabric for $5 a yard. I'm considering a gown like this or a Civil War gown. With all that yardage at a great price, I might go with the Civil War gown but I am a bit torn. The gown was displayed with a shawl from India (like a couple I have but in different colors.) There is a fan that features Napoleon himself in the center. Also a set of cameo jewelry, earrings, necklace, pin and bracelets were showcased. The sign said this era was the debut of jewelry sets. In addition are the tiara and long gloves. Essentially it's identical to the display in the book but I got to see it in person! I think this was my favorite of the entire book! The other gown can be found on pages 180-181, a most stunning court dress with meticulous goldwork embroidery and various assortments of golden spangles. As shown in the book are the fan, jewelry set of earings and necklace, double tiara and long gloves.

The mannequins were staged in front of mirrors which was nice so we could see the backs a little better. On each side of them were incredibly massive candlesticks with bases (about 3 feet tall) made of lapis lazuli, the stunning stone of wealth in the days of the ancients. On each side were Empire chairs. The Empire era reflects the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman styles that were easily seen in the furniture, fashion and accessories. The exhibit said this style was used by Napoleon to associate himself with the ancient heroes. I haven't researched this so I don't know for myself yet. I've met Napoleon before but he was more interested in talking about matters of statesmanship, battles and bringing rights to the common people than culture.

After soaking in the exhibit we walked through the gardens to the mansion.
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I was surprised to find Penta! When I lived at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas when the kids were toddlers, I gardened everyday and yearly won Yard of the Month and Yard of the Quarter. One of my neighbors across the street, who also won garden awards was moving when her husband retired. She dug up her Pentas to gift to me for my garden because she knew I'd take care of them! They became the beginning of my brand new perennial garden under my kitchen window so I'd have something pretty to look at while cooking. I didn't know they grew this far north.
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Clematis...

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A new type of impatience, sunburst I think...
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The mansion was built in the 1920's and purchased in 1955 by Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her father founded Post Cereals. She was an only child, learned the business trade from her father and inherited a fortune. She married four times, one of whom was to EF Hutton. Somewhere in that time she worked with Birds-eye. Another husband was an ambassador to Russia. She began collecting 18th and 19th century items from France and then Russia. Eventually she hired a curator to help her who guided her in filling in the gaps. This house was rebuilt solely to house her collection which she eventually opened to the public. I was able to take personal photos in the house but cannot show them here.

The foyer is full of massive paintings of Russian royalty including Catherine the Great. The French Drawing Room showcases the beginning of her collections which includes a piano and a chair of Marie Antoinette's (it has her inventory stamp underneath). It has a very low back which was convenient for the aristocracy to sit in while having their hair powdered. They may have to go through as many as 5 clothing changes (and hair repowdering) a day for various state or court functions. Ah, what a busy life!

There is the Russian porcelain room full of many dinner plates and such. There is a pavillion where Ms. Post could entertain guests in her media room, complete with lavendar velvet wall (to absorbe sound) and matching lavendar velvet tufted sofas with pull out trays to hold refreshments. At the far end was a grand bay window looking over gardens. Inside the bay window was a grand piano overwhich the media screen would come down for viewing. Over the entry door was a balcony.

There is the Icon Room where the Faberge eggs and crowns are showcased. Then the English-styled richly paneled wood paneled library made me want to curl up in an elegantly cozy chair and read a classic. In fact my son was amazed by the Classics on the shelves: The Iliad, Les Miserables, etc, etc, etc.

The dining room was most grand. The table was set according to the current Napoleon exhibit, showcasing Russian dinnerware commemorating the defeat of Napoleon. (No wonder I didn't see Napoleon here. It was sort of a downer Napoleon day.) The floral centerpiece showcased popular flowers of the era. Then on to the massive modern (1950's) kitchen and butler's pantry.

Finally the French dinnerware finished off the first floor. There was a Benjamin Franklin commemorative piece for his work with the French American alliance. There were also two cups and saucer sets which had love notes set in rubric in French. One saying still has not been translated.

Upstairs are guest rooms and Mrs. Post's rooms which I liked a lot. They were all French and a bit over the top! I wouldn't want to live in them but I could sleep there one night! Her dressing room was massive and showcased 3 of her personal gowns that she wore in the 1920's. They are still in impeccable condition as was everything in the home. On display on one of the walls in the hallway was an early 20th century evening pure, flattened out and framed.

After the tour we did more gardens. Here is the Japanese Tea Garden.
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I got dizzy on these stepping stones (I have one balance nerve) but my husband refused to help me. He does this a lot but I'm not sure why. Since they were steady and even I thought I had a chance with these.

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I precariously took this photo while on other stepping stones that were even closer together. I was still dizzy, and remained so for the rest of the day, but by now my son was helping me!

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A putting green...

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which leads to the rose garden...

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The rose garden...

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More hydrangeas. We read somewhere that there are so many plants they haven't all been catalogued yet.

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Admission is a bit steep at $15 a person. Membership for one is $50 with the ability to bring 4 guests so I got that...thinking I could do that all year anytime. No one said differently to me when they sold me the membership so now I'm disappointed because we enjoyed it here a lot and had planned to return another day to see the things we didn't have time to do. However we can't afford to pay these rates everytime. I thought this was a membership equatable with other historic sites in Virginia but perhaps I'm wrong. I need to call to see. The next exhibit is of 18th century gowns made in paper that look like fabric, at least in the photos.

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Now I don't know if I can return for that or not. Oh well, at least we got to come once and we certainly packed in a lot but it wasn't enough time, even though we arrived close to opening and left at closing, 10-5.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Comedic Capering Squirrels

There is a comedic duo who live in a tall tree across the pipeline from us who have capered into our lives interrupting school and creating havoc, laughter and general mayhem. They are small, brown and bushy-tailed. One is a girl (she gives up easily) and the other is a boy (he's out to conquer). They have eaten the hibiscus on the deck, clung to our second story window screens to catch our attention, and have dug in potted urns for squirreled away nuts. For the first time we have a bird feeder on the deck this year. Correction, my husband purchased a squirrel-proof bird feeder. The squirrels have on rare occasions attempted jumping up on the pole to access free bird seed with no success. I haven't seen them attempt that for a few months, until yesterday when the comedic capering duo determined to conquer with a new plan of attack. After a few jumps onto the pole he finally managed to cling on long enough to leap to the feeder itself and hang on while stealing bird food.

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This went on for some time. I would run out and chase him, throw water at him, but he'd soon return.

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It got to the point where the squirrel started attacking the birds to chase them away to gain clearance for a landing. At lunch time the kids said I needed to grease the pole. I had been contemplating that but didn't like the idea of getting my hands messy then I thought of the perfectsolution. Eureka! Pam cooking spray! I sprayed down the pole and returned indoors. Before long the thief returned, leaped onto the pole and slid right on down. Dazzled he landed on the deck railing and sat there a moment trying to figure out what in the world happened. After a few moments of thought, he leaped on again and slid right on down. Boom! he sat a moment more, then undaunted tried yet again, and again and again. Finally he was so worn out he collapsed onto his belly with his limbs hanging over the sides of the railing!

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He left. He returned, contemplated his move...

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and with one flying leap landed directly onto the swinging bird feeder. Hanging on for dear life, he started eating the bird seed.

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I ran out to chase him away and he hopped onto the railing and calmly stood there looking at me.

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Then I chased him and threw more water at him. When he scampered away, I got the Pam and resprayed the pole, the entire length and top curve of it as well as the top portion of the bird feeder.

Then I went inside and the kids and I waited.

He returned and with a flying leap landed on the bird feeder and scrambled to stay on and fell to the railing on all fours. He stood there a while analyzing the new issues. He jumped up again and again and again, each time precariously hanging on for dear life and barely staying on longer than a split second. He hopped over to the other end of the porch railing and sat and gave himself a bath. Then he scampered away.

This time the girl tried. She lept onto the pole, slid right on down, landed in utter confusion on the railing, sat there gathering her whits and split for home.

Then they both came back scampering across the deck and when they got in front of the bird feeder they got into a fight!

Him-Stop being a scaredy cat and leap onto that birdfeeder!

Her-What? Are you nuts?

They roughed each other up around the deck for a while then went scampering away.

Peace. The victors finally returned to history books.

The next morning we found the squirrel back on the pole and oh so slowly s-l-i-d-i-n-g down the pole. I ran out and chased him away. Obviously the Pam had worn off so I grabbed the can and sprayed the entire pole and top of the bird feeder down again.

The squirrel returned, leaped onto the top of the bird feeder and for dear life he scrambled onto the top of the arch of the pole and precariously clung to that with all four feet, standing up with an arched back like a cat does. Then when he lost his balance he leaped onto the railing and ran away. That was the end of that for the morning. While I was away doing errands this afternoon he did make a few attempts without any success.

I've noticed that in the process of my chasing him away and spraying down the pole and bird feeder, we have more birds than ever before at the bird feeder. Photobucket

We've been in competition with the guy next door who never has squirrel issues (because the squirrels are always bugging *us*). All the birds go to his bird feeder. But now it's as though the word has spread that I'm on their side so they are coming in droves to feast!

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 I keep telling them they should fight for their food and whack those squirrels on the head to leave their food alone. I guess they like that can of Pam as much as the kids and I do! This morning when I opened the blinds I caught him eating the birdseed again!

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I let him wait on me. It was funny. He thinks that if he doesn't move, I wont' see him. I opened all the blinds, knocked on the window at him, then got the Pam, all the while he was frozen like a statue. I even managed to walk outside and take a picture of him...

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After I chased him off I sprayed down the pole and bird feeder and I didn't see him again until tonight. This time he took his time. The kids and I sat and watched while giggling. He strategized his opportunity...

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then he kept rubbing his paws together in grand preparation. it was hilarious!

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Then he made his flying leap onto the birdfeeder but it was a struggle to stay on. He scrambled to the top and precariously perched there. The Pam was obviously starting to wear off but things were still slick. He clung for dear life and started licking the Pam off the pole. I guess the new plan is to lick his way to the bird feeder. Finally he gave up and split!

My husband ignored most of this and went into the garage to get some deer repellant. We stopped him at the pass because we wanted to see how far the squirrel would go and it's so funny. When the squirrel left my husband went out to spray the deck railing. I hope that doesn't chase the birds away. Besides, we're having fun with that squirrel. The kids and I even have a new plan, suggested by my son, which will surely make things interesting and keep the squirrel at bay. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Home from Colonial Williamsburg's Drummers' Call, Lafayette, Live Taping, and Hats!

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Lafayette



Before the Grand Review of Drummers Call was over, I tore myself away to find a seat behind the Governor's Palace so that we could watch their latest webcast of Revolutionary City, about the Declaration of Independence. My family eventually joined me. We were told before the program to call our friends and family to have them watch the webcast live and see us in the audience. I had no idea who to call so I didn't. To my surprise, that night I found an e-mail from a friend who had sent me live screen shots as she watched the program from California! Thank you!

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Were you able to find us? I'll do a separate blog post on this program and will post the archived webcast when it's up. My husband loved this program because of all the obvious technology. I'd rather be far into the past without the technology, yet this is great once in a while, especially when archived, and the program was lots of fun and quite unique, despite all of our visits to Revolutionary City, one of our favorite programs. Stay tuned!


A couple of weeks ago I made a new friend, whom I wanted to oh so quietly visit on this trip. What a delight to see that Mrs. Robin now has 4 babies (one is hidden behind the others.)
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Awwww.....

An obligatory hat picture...couldn't resist the pretty ribbons while we were at the auction. Before the auction the kids played trap ball with other colonial folks and guests. Pictures forthcoming...
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Meanwhile I am deep in lesson planning for the French and Indian War. It's exciting to be returning to late 18th century in our history studies, our favorite era.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Litmus Test in Chemistry I

In my son's tenth grade science lab, he used litmus paper to test for acids and bases with common household items. Here are the results.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

17th Century British Mercantilism Rhetoric History Presentation

Presenting 17th Century History!

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We represented various historical people within the 17th century, focusing on governments, the Age of Reason, and mercantilism. Then we stepped into the first half of the 18th century to extend our presentation on mercantilism. Our history, literature and government studies included these books.

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My son portrayed Captain John Woodlief who had survived the starving time of Jamestown. In 1619 he was commissioned to board passengers from Berkely, England en route to colonize near Jamestown, Virginia. Remembering the starving time, he insisted on only taking laborers and not gentlemen. On December 4, 1619 they landed at a site near Jamestown. This site would be called Berkeley. The men gave thanks...the first British colonial Thanksgiving in America, before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts.

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I portrayed a French lady in the court of King Louis XIV, attending the queen. The focus of my presentation was in the development of the French absolute monarchy. It was a good thing when King Henry IV tightened up control in the late 16th century after the religious wars. The country had been decimated and excellent leadership was paramount to France's survival. Henry IV provided that through strict governmental control, while considering the needs of the people. Cardinal Richelieu followed this pattern as did Cardinal Mazarin after him. Then King Louis IV took to the throne, who continued absolute control, but without once considering the needs of the people. Hence, the people started pulling away their support of the king. If his successors choose to follow this pattern, they should watch their neck! I shared how to "this day" the people of France greatly esteem King Henry IV for all that he did to strengthen the country and consider the needs of the people. I also sneaked into the first half of the 18th century to tell about the writings of Voltaire and Montisquieu. I even showed renderings of the many palaces of France, including the most recent one, Versailles.

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My daughter portrayed a young Anglican lady from England, whose father supported Cromwell and the beheading of King Charles. She went into great detail about the Long Parliament and the Rump Parliament both of which her father was involved. She had many disagreements with him. I tried to talk her into moving to Viginia, since I'd hate to live in a country where kings were beheaded.

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I even invited Johann Sebastian Bach to regale us with his Brandenburg Concerto during dinner. For dinner, the theme was dishes inspired by the flavors imported from afar, through mercantilism of course! All the recipes came from one of the Colonial Williamsburg cookbooks. During the 17th century England enacted the Navigation Acts which said products from other lands had to be shipped to England first before going to the colonies. This included the exotic spices from the Far East used in cooking.

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We had East India Company Fried Chicken, seasoned with cinnamon and white pepper, which my husband finished cooking while we got dressed.

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Carrots glazed in two ways with ginger...

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Rice pilaf with saffron...

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...and Salamugundi, a British salad with protein. The dressing had a touch of cayenne pepper.

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I collected my other spices from afar and neatly arranged them on a plate for a guessing game during dinner. Could anyone guess which spice was which and from where it came?

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Then for dessert, chocolate! I found a history of chocolate article written by the Mars chocolate company (the Mars family is a major donor to Colonial Williamsburg and support the Heritage Chocolate products) From that I learned that chocolate was mainly drunk and not eaten in the colonial era. Yet I portrayed a lady from Paris during the time of King Louis XIV. During this time France came onto the world stage as the ultimate in fashion, cuisine, and all things elegant and fashionable, so I pretended we had the best chocolatier who made chocolate toasting cups for us. The blue vase was purchased a few years ago at the Jamestown Glasshouse. It was actually handblown there by glassblowers who reenact the 17th century glasshouse of Britain's first successful colony of Jamestown.

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I toasted King Louis XIV, the English lady (my daughter) who was frustrated that King Charles I was beheaded remembered King Charles, and the captain of a new settlement in Virginia (my son) toasted to the success of the Berkely Hundred! Then we discussed some of the books I found at the Colonial Williamsburg post office (print shop). A book on manners for children published in London in 1701.

 We had fun reading some of the rules.

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And a Virginia almanack published in Williamsburg in 1749. We had fun comparing the current weather with that listed in the book and they matched!

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We did a great deal of research on mercantilism so that we could create an interactive opportunity to experience mercantilism. All products used were purchased at Colonial Williamsburg. All specific details were obtained by extensive interviewing of the interpreters. Patrick Henry suggested reading the Navigation Acts, so of course they are duly referenced. The setting for our activity is various spots around the world in 1750. My daughter portrayed the proprietess of the Prentis Store in Williamsburg. (I'd have chosen Tarpleys since most of our items came from there but my research said it wasn't a store yet.) Here she is doing inventory with a period accurate colonial blank book (a gift) and a colonial pencil from CW.

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Into her "purchase order" she adds her tobacco notes, obtained as payment from her customers or from the sale of her own harvested crop of tobacco.



My husband portrayed a British sailor who followed our orders. I told him that he had to follow certain rules as a sailor, all of which could be found in the Navigation Acts, which I gave to him to read. He winced at the many pages of legaleze so I gave him a verbal synopsis. All goods leaving the colonies must be shipped and could only be shipped to Britain. Any goods arriving in the colonies from lands not owned by Britain, had to be shipped to Britain first. There were a few exceptions. The colonies and West Indies could trade directly.

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The proprietress gave her "purchase orders" to the sailor, since a fully loaded cargo ship was also the postal system between the colonies and Europe. There are two "purchase orders," one for London and one for Jamaica. Following the trade winds and prevailing currents, the British sailor headed to London first, where he delivered the "purchase order." (Of course this could be quite complicated, with the shipping of goods for several colonists to London, but we simplified matters to one plot line.)

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When the British sailor arrived in London, the "purchase order" was sent to the proper London merchant, who added the listed items to his "purchase order." (This scenario was the only way I could figure out to get the sailor to the Far East.)

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When the sailor received his orders from the London merchants he set sail to the Far East. When he arrived in China, he collected tea.

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Then he sailed to India for spices like cinnamon and ginger...

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Next he stopped at Madagascar for vanilla beans.

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When he arrived in England, he unloaded his cargo into the warehouse for the proper British merchants.

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Duties were placed on the items in the warehouse (my kids played multiple roles.)

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Then the sailor collected the items from the Far East that were to be delivered to the colonies. On board his ship was also licorice root that is harvested in England.

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Before he stopped at the colonies, he went to Jamaica where he delivered the other purchase order from the Prentis Store merchant, and collected sugar and chocolate. (I read in the Mars article that chocolate could come from Jamaica or Britain.)

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With a fully loaded ship, the British sailor sailed to Yorktown, a deep sea port.

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There he unloaded his goods.

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An apprentice to the Prentis Store merchant loaded merchandise onto the wagon to be transported to the Prentis Store in Williamsburg.

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The apprentice puts everything on the shelves while the proprietess accounts for everything.

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Enter a Virginia planter (me) who brings her harvest of tobacco in hogshead barrels to Yorktown. Before they can be shipped, she has her agent, John Norton and Sons, inspect the tobacco. (Patrick Henry told me that many agents were scrupulous sorts who cheated planters by giving them less than their tobacco was worth. However he used John Norton and Sons in Yorktown and was pleased with their work. I further researched them to get more information and decided I'd invite them to the history presentation, since that was one name I knew. Their firm was established in the 1740's so they fit our timeframe. My son portrayed the firm and had a grand time doing so.)

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The agent asked the planter several questions as he completed the appropriate paperwork (the tailor had shown us an example of a tobacco note a few weeks ago. After we came home I tried to design our own, then got this idea that the post office (print shop) might possibly sell some. Well, there just happened to be a special talk on Jamestown last Friday night that gave me an excuse to pop down to CW for a few hours. First stop was the post office where I looked around and saw many treasures with new eyes! I finally asked the clerk (who was in full costume) if he had tobacco notes and just waited for the teasing. He didn't miss a beat and said, "Yes, Madame, they are in one of those labeled drawers down there." Wow, more treasures! Oh, they looked a bit different than the tailor showed us, more forms and several to a sheet. I dared to ask questions, um, how much interpreting and knowledge base do the store clerks have? I'm not trying to trip them up, just asking honest questions. He started explaining everything when I pulled my son over to listen carefully and ask any questions now because he was going to be the agent and have to fill them out. As I purchased them the clerk asked me how my tobacco crops were doing so I told him we expected a bumper crop this year!) So this is the agent filling out those very forms!

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So period accurate! (We made up numbers and knew they needed to be prodigious because Virginia plantations are grand! Patrick Henry told us so. He's met a planter from Connecticut who boasted of us few acres. Virginians have at least a few hundred times more than that. What a pity we didn't write those numbers down.



He had to fill double copies of this, one for his records and one for mine. When I received my tobacco notes, I got into my carriage and traveled to Williamsburg to the Prentis Store. When I arrived I handed the proprietess one of my tobacco notes to pay off the debt I had accumulated in the past year.

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While there I decided to do a bit of shopping of items from afar. Just imagine the journey the chocolate, tea, vanilla, ginger and sugar made!

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The proprietess had her ledger ready to add the items to my account. Such is business in a mercantile
society.

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Now that we were in 1750 and were proud British citizens, we sang "Hail Britannia" which had been written a few years before. That completed our presentation of history from 1600-1750.