Wednesday, July 30

Once Bitten Twice Shy (Great White)

 duunnn dunnn... duuuunnnn duun... duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn   -(Jaws theme song)

July has turned into Ocean Month at Gypsy Road.  We're not travelling this month, and being in the middle of Oklahoma, the ocean seemed the logical topic of study.....  (best of luck finding the logic)
We have focused on history (primarily pirates) for the past two weeks, and are switching to a science focus this week, with the emphasis on sharks and the marine food chain.  Next week, we wrap it up with shipwrecks and marine biology.
As part of our study on ocean currents, we are sending out a Message in a Bottle.  It will travel from Oklahoma to the Gulf Stream, where an active duty Coast Guard family member will drop it straight into the current.  We promise to share its journey as we receive updates!

Shark unit study :

How to make a clothespin shark           

You will need:
  • 1 clothespin
  • blue paint
  • paint brush
  • 1 blue googly eye
  • silver glitter glue
  • blue glitter adhesive foam
  • glue
  • scissors
Cover an entire wooden clothespin with blue paint, make sure to get all the little nooks and crannies. When dry glue a blue googly eye on the top edge of the clothespin. Below the eye, use the silver glitter glue to make three pointy shark teeth. For the shark fins cut two triangles from the corner of an adhesive blue glitter foam sheet. Attach one fin at the top and one on the bottom.

Thursday, July 17

Tupelo Honey (Van Morrison)

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways...
Today we celebrate our 12th anniversary...that's 120 years in married-years.  We like to joke that, twelve years ago, we gathered our nearest and dearest, and tried to take them all out with one swoop! 

The reason I chose 'Tupelo Honey' for this post is not because either of us is from Mississippi, or that we have a particular affinity for the song, but rather because it was our first dance together.  How did that happen?  Let me take you back........
 
July 18, rural Oklahoma :
The temperatures have been steadily rising in one of the biggest heat waves ever to hit the area.  (Our beautiful, cool, fall wedding was pushed forward to summer at the insistence of my soon-to-be-boss.)  Each day, we pray for a cooling rain that never comes.
The wedding is scheduled for 3pm, outside, and the heat index is 120.  The bridal party is dressed for a fall wedding, and (unknown to the bride) the groom has been in the hospital until two hours prior with an unfortunate medical attack.  Father-of-the-bride (FOB) walks in to find the groom sleeping off the Percocet....and thinks it must have been a helluva bachelor party!
With everyone attending to the groom, the bride and her girls are crawling around on the dirt putting up tables and getting the grounds ready.  They have made the unfortunate mistake of writing "Johnson Estate" on the signs leading to the area, and soon several random trucks with trailers start showing up for the supposed estate sale!
Mother-of-the-bride breaks her ankle during pictures (though we don't know it's broken until that night when she goes to the ER) and FOB trips and very-nearly falls into the cake -- but it really doesn't matter, because the icing has melted and the cake is sliding apart anyway.
Finally the ceremony starts.  The groom, still slightly drowsy, cannot figure out his cue to say "I Do," and so keeps repeating it until the pastor says "OK, say it now."  We will always joke that this could be grounds for an annulment...
The photographer gets heat stroke and someone has to drive her home, limiting all photos taken to those from family and friends.  One of the groomsmen is very close to heat illness, and everyone begins to peal off clothing quickly.  Mother-of-the-groom is very overheated, but her loved ones solve that problem quickly by throwing her into the pool!
The DJ has taken the money and split town, leaving us with no music, and a neighbor steps in with his personal cd collection.  We have never met him, and he knows nothing about us, but he does an admirable job!  He thinks the bride might be from Mississippi, and picks out Tupelo Honey for the first dance.
  
When the cake is cut, and the sun set, we leave for the evening...but the honeymoon is cancelled because the groom goes back to the hospital with the same medical issues.  We keep putting it off because life keeps getting in the way.
Fast forward two years................FINALLY, we get to take a honeymoon!!!!  We spent four nights in Cozumel, Mexico.  And since we had a one-year old at the time, I'm pretty sure we slept and enjoyed the quiet relaxation even more than your average honeymooners.
We had a blast on the snorkeling tour, and spent most of a day just lying around in a hammock.  Since Hurricane Emily had decimated most of the island, those of us that remained had the run of the place.  It was very relaxing! 
We rented a love bug to tour the island, did some shopping, and created our own pottery.  Incidentally, we still have that ceramic bowl....it holds sponges by the sink.
 

......and lived happily ever after! 

 I couldn't make this kind of stuff up...........everything here is true, and some of the craziness has probably been forgotten!  But it's not the party itself that matters....it's the marriage and the life that you lead after the last guest has gone.  Our wedding day was truly memorable - we love to laugh about it - and it was a great prelude to our life together, which has been anything but ordinary!

Friday, July 11

Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)

After spending a few weeks touring New England and studying the Revolutionary War, the boys were psyched to design their own costumes.  They began back at the hotel, meticulously drawing each piece of costume and musket on individual slips of the notepad.  We ended up with four notepads full of drawings.  Some of them were even viable exploded mechanical drawings!
They began with the muskets.  We raided Grandpa's shop for unused 2x4s and Dad helped them with the shop tools.  They learned wood shop safety, and used both mechanical and manual methods.
After getting everything cut and sanded, they stained the wood, then added the metal pieces.  Our older son came up with the idea of using old spoons for the trigger and other embellishments.  And while their original designs were for a real, working gun, we nixed that.
Muskets drying, we began on the costumes.  Mom's forte is with the sewing machine, and the boys have done simple sewing projects before, but this was going to take some doing!  We began by gathering as many pieces as possible from garage sales and thrift stores.  (Baseball & football pants make great breeches!)  This just left us to make the jackets.
We found two ladies jackets that looked similar to their vision, and they learned how to take tucks.  This fitted the jackets, with the added benefit of creating pleats in the back.  The 'patriot' jacket was also slit up the back to create triangular sides.  They added a multitude of buttons, which really "made" the designs, and found a set of US/UK patches that further emphasized their roles. 

Paired with the tricorns from Boston and the powder horns from Fort Ticonderoga, these were some pretty snazzy costumes!
Taking the roles a bit further, they created parchment paper from scrap paper and some old tea bags.  Then they transformed a simple nightstand into a colonial desk, with quill and ink, to write a treaty.
 
On the Fourth of July, they dressed up, performed a flag ceremony, and headed to town to participate in the annual festival and costume contest.  I'm not sure what the criteria were, but the Brit placed 3rd in his age group, and the Patriot placed 2nd.  We were VERY proud of our boys for their efforts!!  I know that they learned quite a bit, about a great number of topics, through making these costumes.
  


Some people find believability difficult when children succeed so well.  This led us to discussions about character and how to react when people question our efforts and results.      

They are already making plans and drawings for Civil War costumes.....one can only imagine that they will revolve around the blue & grey caps purchased in Gettysburg.  I look forward to seeing them bring their visions to fruition!!

Sunday, July 6

Gettysburg (Brandos)

We drove to Gettysburg, site of one of a turning point in the Civil War.  First stop, the Gettysburg Heritage Center.  Though most exhibits are closed because they are currently under reconstruction, everything accessible was FREE! 
We saw a great battle reenactment in the giant movie theater and got to check out the wax museum.  Afterward, we hit the gift shop.  This deep into the trip, the boys are constantly bickering, so I bought one grey and one blue hat and told them to battle.  You know you're a homeschooling mom when you take the constant fighting and turn it into a lesson on the Civil War!
Once they calmed down from their 'battle,' we took a drive through the Gettysburg National Cemetery, the final resting place for Union soldiers killed during the 3-day battle.  This is where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.  Nearly all Confederate soldiers were moved to their home states.
 
From there, we headed to the Museum & Visitor Center, a huge building that features the soldiers' daily life as well as the many faces of Gettysburg.  The boys were still acting out their battle when we first arrived...
They completed the Junior Park Ranger requirements to earn Gettysburg patches.  This is a great teaching tool, and each park has it's own reward (Valley Forge used badges).  Before leaving, we had to stop for a photo-op with Abe Lincoln.
Dad was working late this day, and we didn't want to just sit around the hotel, so we detoured through Harrisburg, PA to visit the State History Museum.  It was a free trip, since they are on our ASTC list of free museums (SO worth that $65 for the annual pass...we've calculated that we've already saved nearly $500 on museum admission in less than 3 months).
 
Like the Grand Rapids museum, there was a re-creation of the old streets of Harrisburg.  We also stumbled upon a demonstration of muskets.  The other boys had never held a gun before, while my oldest remarked, "hmm, it's lighter than mine."  One of these things is not like the other....... 
They had five floors of exhibits, including dioramas & murals, an architectural model for Independence Hall, pioneer life, local Native American history, and regional wildlife.  The boys are raptor-crazy and require photos of all things raptor-related...thank you, Wild Kratts!  It was a busy, but memorable, day!




Gettysburg unit :