This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Monday, June 30

God Bless the USA (Lee Greenwood)

Just a few days post-911, I was wandering around Boston alone, looking for peace, when I stumbled upon an impromptu performance by Lee Greenwood near the State House.  Two songs in, he began to play 'God Bless the USA,' and an amazing thing happened.  All of these strangers began to sing together.  For four minutes, we were not passers-by on the city streets, bitter and torn from the recent tragedy - everyone joined as one.  It was pretty amazing...
It's a few days pre-Independence Day, but here are some ideas to celebrate America's birthday with your family this 4th of July.  (Trivia : The Declaration of Independence was completed and signed on July 2nd, but they didn't get around to a public reading until July 4th.**)
Liberty's Kids is a series, by PBS, about what our founding fathers and our people went through to become the United States of America.  It's a children's show, but fun for parents, too.  If you're looking for an easy, enjoyable way to teach about colonial life & the Revolution, I recommend it.

Fourth of July unit study :

Sunday, June 29

Beautiful (Carole King)

Whew!  What a weekend!  We drove from Vermont to Pennsylvania, via Boston and New York City.  In the meantime, my personal bag is starting to empty out.  With a week left on this trip, it's time to make do...
Ran out of your favorite spa products?  Or forgot to pack them?  Try these quick cheats from hotel freebies...
DIY - Oatmeal Face Scrub
    • 1 tbsp oats
    • ½ banana (get the brown one - ripe is better, and the hotel is going to toss is anyway)
    • 2 tbsp yogurt (aim for plain)
    • Plastic fork (to mush) & spoon (to measure) 
1.        Wash face with water
2.       Rub oatmeal into skin, especially on dry spots
3.       Rinse face
4.       Mush together yogurt and banana
5.       Apply to face & let sit 15 minutes (will begin to tighten)
6.       Rinse face (moisturize if you want to) 
  • You can use conditioner as a substitute for shaving gel, and the front desk usually has cheap-o razors when you're in a pinch.
  • All those samples you sign up for through the mail?  This is a great time to use those up.  Below are the samples that we brought on this trip.  Lotions, toothpaste, soap...everything in this stack is from the "organic & natural" realm of toiletries.  Just be sure that you aren't allergic to anything - that would be a big spoiler.
  • Save any of the little sample sizes that you don't use for your local shelter or church - you paid for them, and they are always in need of single-size toiletries!
Do you know of any other great cheats?  Send us your ideas!

Saturday, June 28

New York New York (On the Town)

New York, New York, a wonderful town;  The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the groun';  New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!
-On the Town (1944)
We drove to New Rochelle, NY and (after driving around in a circle for 45 minutes) took the Metro into New York City for an unplanned day of fun and adventure!  (Note the word "unplanned," as it will lead to a very important lesson...)  We had exactly half a day to see as much of NYC as possible!

The Metro pulled into Grand Central Station, and suddenly the boys understood what I mean when I occasionally answer the phone "Grand Central."  The ceiling, painted with constellations, is very beautiful, and the architecture so lavish and meticulously detailed, that I dare you NOT to take pictures.  We researched the history of Grand Central on the train ride in.
Our first stop in the city was probably not the most traditional.  Being NASA Passport members, we wanted to make sure to hit the Sea, Air, and Space Museum, so we snagged a taxi driven by the one of the least friendly people I've ever met.  I'm not sure he spoke English, as we had to give him instructions three or four different ways.  And the music was some sort of eastern-European vibe...possibly Ukranian?  But we got there...alive.
At the museum, we found Skipper , from the movie Planes , as well as many other aircraft from our various military branches.  My son's favorites were the Blue Angels and the Coast Guard helicopter.  He's convinced that his aunt and uncle (who are Coasties) fly these helicopters to rescue people, despite our dissuasion. 
Looking for cooler temperatures, we left the flight deck of the USS Intrepid and went inside the exhibit gallery to see the space shuttle Enterprise.  We had a chance to speak with some former astronauts and compare all of the space shuttles we had visited in the past year.  The last section of the museum was the Growler submarine, but there was a promotion happening and we were unable to get into the tour.
We decided to go see that great American landmark, the Statue of Liberty!  Unfortunately, again, we were unable to get tickets to see her.  The next available tickets were for late September!!  Luckily, a local overheard our quandary and made an alternative, and free, suggestion.  So we hopped aboard the Staten Island Ferry and got to at least ride by and wave hello to Lady Liberty.
On the return ride, we found a little corner of the boat that wasn't cramped with people who have a very different understanding of "personal space."  This was the most relaxing, enjoyable part of our trip to the city.  For half an hour, we drank in the sights and sounds of the city, without feeling walked upon and overwhelmed.
We might joke that us on our first trip to New York City was a bit like the Clampetts going to town, but it was a little much trying to wing it for a day trip to the city.  We weren't able to get into the Empire State Building tour, or many of the other places we wanted to see, mostly because we didn't plan ahead.  Spontaneous trips have their place and time, but this wasn't it.
This photo, taken on the subway, pretty much sums up how we were all feeling as we left the big city.  Hot, tired, and generally irritated - it's what we encountered all day; it must be contagious. 
Our lesson learned - national landmarks require considerable planning ahead.  We plan to visit the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia next week; hopefully, we'll be able to get in!

New York City unit :
Videos of some of the places we were unable to get into....let's take the virtual tour together!
USS Intrepid - Growler Submarine

Ellis Island

Empire State Building

A few years back, my baby sister won a contest and had the privilege of being married at the top of the Empire State Building.  It was on such short notice, that none of our family was able to attend, but it still makes a good story!  We all had a great time at their 'second wedding' a few months later.

Thursday, June 26

Downtown (Petula Clark)

Between the rain, and the road fatigue, we haven't left the hotel in two days.  The good news is that we've accomplished most of our workbook & reading activities for the week!  However, our little kitchen was no longer satisfying, so we headed out for an unplanned afternoon.

Exploring Downtown resources
We drove past this cute little covered bridge, one of many in the immediate area, and headed into downtown Springfield, VT to see what we could see.  Trivia : Did you know that Vermont is where the Simpsons was based?  At the Chamber of Commerce, you can have your picture taken with them.
Springfield is a cute, quaint little New England town, tucked in the hills just off I-91.  We took a nice, long walk around town and stumbled upon a used bookstore...AND it was having a going-out-of-business sale!  Not good for the store, but we had fun picking out new books together.
Continuing on our walk, we came upon the local library, and decided to pop in to check out their book sale, knock out the day's math & spelling, and see what fun things they had in their kids' section.
We were getting hungry, and decided to ask some local folks about the best place to grab some lunch.  Our experience has been that the locals know the places with the best food, and we always ask for someplace that's not in every single tourist brochure.  They directed us across the highway (and across the state line) to a local pizza joint in Charlestown, New Hampshire.
En route to lunch, we were sidetracked again by a local thrift store that was having a huge sidewalk sale.  Clearly, this was going to be a late-schoolwork day.  I gave each of the kids fifty cents, with the option of spending it or saving it for a later date.  The youngest found a glass shaped like the CN Tower in Toronto (which we just spotted over Niagara Falls a few days ago), and still had change to spare!
Finally, we made it to lunch, and it was pretty good!  The House of Pizza sits directly in front of the Ice Cream Shack, which serves hand-made ice creams that are made daily.  The flavors run the gamut from vanilla and chocolate to maple syrup and molasses crinkle....yum!
After all that pizza and ice cream, we needed another walk!  The boys had seen some strange-looking cliffs that interested them, so we headed back to the hotel and walked the half-mile to them.  They studied the rock structure, and took notes, drawings, and samples.  Afterward, we used the computer to research their find and discovered that it was shale.  Though we don't have shale in Oklahoma, it's quite common in this area.
It started raining again, so we high-tailed it back to the hotel, where they were just setting out fresh cookies!  Many hotel chains serve fresh-baked cookies every afternoon.  They're delicious, and it requires a lot of willpower to resist the mouthwatering aromas day after day...but we'd just had ice cream, so we got straight down to business.  It was time to finish the day's schoolwork - the completion of our Ethan Allen unit study. 
Tomorrow, we head off to another location with new adventures.  Another day, another state!