Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The National Museum of American History re-opened last week after a two year renovation. I wasn't sure I was making a good decision to take the kids on opening day, but it turned out great.

We skipped the ribbon cutting. I would have liked to hear Colin Powell read the Gettysburg Address, but didn't think it would be that interesting for the kids at 8:30am on a cold November day. Plus, the museum wouldn't open for an hour after the ceremony.

We got to town about 9:45am, easily found parking right outside the museum and by the time we walked over, there was no line and plenty of gifts still available. The kids got silly top hats and we all got flag pins and tote bags that you can wrap up into a small package for compact storage.

There were costumes characters and lots of excitement in the air. The science experiment room was running programs all day long and generally during a weekday, we don't get to participate unless they are expecting a school crowd. Zack experimented with electricity and Katie extracted cow DNA.

Nanci went on Monday and we agreed that it doesn't knock you out like we'd expect an $85 mil upgrade to do. We had actually seen the re-done Presidents, War and transportation upgrades before they closed in 2006. Katie and Zack did like the new hands-on inventors section but I miss the hands on history room where you could ride one of those bikes with the big front wheel and make rope, etc. That seems to be gone now and it's too bad that they would eliminate the history while adding the science aspect. No room for both in the $85 mil?

In any case, I was glad we went on opening day. The kids had a great time and only wanted to leave after 4 hours, when we got too hungry to concentrate any longer.

Katie and Zack with Martha Washington

Katie working the circuit

Zack tries to light up

Zack gets some shocking results

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catching up

Here are pictures from Halloween:

Katie was Wednesday from The Addams Family and Zack was the Grim Reaper's apprentice. He was originally planning to be the Grim Reaper himself. I told him the GR has a scythe but he insisted on a sword. Then, ofcourse, saw a show with a scythe-bearing GR and wanted to change props. Too late! The sword was already purchased.

Katie wanted to Trick-or-Treat with her soon to be moving best friend, so we went to her neighborhood. Much better than ours, less hilly and many more houses participating. Pete stayed at our house to hand out candy, but we only got about 6 knocks at the door and were left with POUNDS of candy. That has now turned into POUNDS of fat around my waist. Nice.

The elections have come and gone, did you know ;-) Our guy won and Katie and Zack were very understanding. They had to occupy themselves outdoors while I handed out sample ballots at the polls and then, later, knocked on doors to get out the vote. I let them stay home for the door piece as long as they called me every half hour (two calls).

Pete and I watched the maps turn blue as the night wore on and hugged, cried and danced from the election call at 11pm until, hours later, when VA went blue and then for the speeches. McCain was suitably classy in his speech but I think the boos of the crowd tell the tale of the kind of campaign he ran. I don't think it reflected well on his long career and the thoughtful Republicans I know-who I can't imagine booing at an event like that.

We woke the kids to see the Obama speech. They didn't fully wake up, but they get to say they saw it when their kids ask about it.

Friday, the weather was an amazing 70 deg and sunny so we grabbed a couple of friends and headed out to a corn maze in The Plains. It was fun, but Zack was surprisingly short tempered. That was explained that evening when he complained of an earache.

Otherwise, we've been doing the regular stuff--TKD, Scouts, yoga, art class, math and writing.

Zack had to give a speech last night at Boy Scouts. He was very nervous about it and procrastinated for two weeks. Yesterday he spent most of the day writing the speech and did a great job delivering it at the meeting.

Here's his speech, really the first essay he's ever had to write:


My family took a trip to Niagara Falls. We took this trip in an RV. We went to see friends in Rochester. The next day we got to Niagara Falls, Canada and went to “Niagara’s Fury,” “Journey Behind the Falls” and wax museums. The next day, we went on the Maid of the Mist and the Whirlpool Walk.
While mom and dad were picking up the RV, Katie (my sister) and I were burning up because it was so hot outside! I didn’t sit down because the plastic benches were too hot, but Katie didn’t seem to mind.
That night, we boondocked at Walmart. Boondocking is when you don’t hook up to electric, water or sewer.
Two days later we visited friends in Rochester. They had two boys named Griffin and Myles. They had a Ben 10 Ultimate Omnitrix toy that I played with practically the whole time!
The next day we went to Canada. Then we saw Niagara Falls. I thought they were cool. The first thing we did was see a 4D movie called “Niagara’s Fury.” 4D means that it has special effects that make it feel more lifelike as if it’s really happening to you.
The next thing we did was “Journey Behind the Falls” which is network of tunnels that goes through the bedrock and leads directly behind the Falls. In “Journey Behind the Falls” there were holes in the ends of the tunnels so you could look behind the Falls, there were about two or three of them.
The last thing we did that day we see two wax museums. The first wax museum was called Ripley’s Believe it or Not Wax Museum. The second wax museum was Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which is wax statues of famous actors and some of them were put together as in scenes from movies or shows, like, for example, Alien—the part where the woman is hiding behind a wall with a gun but the alien is on the other side of the open doorway.
The next day we went on The Maid of the Mist, which is a boat that goes so close to the Falls that the mist is so thick you can barely see anything and we got soaked! We also went on the whirlpool walk, which is a walkway that guides you along the whirlpool rapids. You can see a whirlpool come up every once in a while if you look close enough.
The next day, we headed home.
Although it was a great trip, I sure wish we didn’t have to do it in an RV, because it was so crowded in there! But I really do hope I can go there again because I wanted to go see the Mystery Get Lost Maze but we didn’t have enough time.

Meanwhile, Katie's skating teacher had warned she needed to vastly improve her left back crossovers and T stops if she wanted to pass her test the following week. We added extra practice sessions to our week and last night--She Passed! This is a very big deal as most kids take this level at least twice. She scraped by on her T stops and the teacher rubbed that in, which sucked much of the joy of passing from Katie's evening but I know she will work on them. And really, does the coach have to act as if all the girls are Olympic hopefuls? On to the next level and a new teacher.

We almost bought an RV last weekend. We loved a lot about it but the more we researched, the less of a fit it was. So, we will keep looking, learning more about what we can get in our price range.

Today is gray and damp. Zack and I are both throaty and we can all use a morning at home taking our time getting things done. Grab a sweater and enjoy the falling of the leaves.