Thursday, September 12, 2013

When In The Course of Human Events....

I meant to sit down and write a blog yesterday, when the kids finally tracked back in to school.  I meant to do a lot of productive things yesterday.  I started off in high gear with an hour at the gym as soon as I dropped them off.  Where I followed thirty minutes of cardio with a half an hour of what I consider my Navy Seal training, crunches, rows, overhead presses, tricep dips, and pull-ups.  Okay, assisted pull-ups.  Honestly, I may never complete my Navy Seal training because I always need assistance on pull-ups.  And because I have to hold my nose when I go under water.

Anyway, after I came home and showered, I ran exactly two of the six errands I planned to run before making my home sparkling clean.  My errands derailed because I had to stop at the house for a sandwich.  I made one, and since the kids aren't home, I obviously ate it sitting in a bean bag chair in front of the TV, which the kids think isn't allowed, but the rules are a lot looser when Mommy's home alone.

At first I was watching the news while eating my plain turkey and cheese on wheat, but it was depressing me.  The news and the sandwich.  My acid reflux prevents more exciting food, but not more exciting television, so I switched to Netflix and started a new season of Burn Notice.  (The irony there was completely unintentional.)  I got really into season four because there's a new guy, another ex-spy, so now things are like twice as exciting, and before I knew it I had binge-watched three full episodes and it was time to get the kids.  So no blog.  And no cleaning.  And, three hours out of my day that would be hard explain if my husband wanted any kind of account of my time.  Luckily, you can learn a lot about fabricating stories on that show.  Almost as much as you can learn about blowing things up.  Don't worry, my story covered for the mess in the bonus room and I didn't have to blow it up to destroy evidence of my laziness.

It's laughable how few items I checked off my to do list yesterday, but I'm prone to grandiose visions of excellence and limited follow through.  Like during this last track out with the kids.  We were going to be off for three and a half weeks and I had designs on doing all of these engaging educational activities with them.  But then they were so easily engaged in the TV and Xbox, leaving me time for napping and reading, that I pulled nary a flashcard out during the whole break.  And while I also didn't get around to working on Reckless' handwriting, I suspect the muscles in her thumbs and fingers got way stronger playing the new Nintendo DS she got for her birthday.  So if she ever has a mind to make straight letters, she'll certainly have the digital strength.

But at the end of track out, I think I redeemed myself as a "good" parent.  To combat all of the video game and TV time, I took them to Monticello.  (Home of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, for those of you who also spent more of your childhood watching television than you did reading.)  I'm pretty sure that big educational outing canceled out our previous laziness the way a Diet Coke cancels out a double cheeseburger and fries.

As part of the 40 book challenge that Brainy is doing this year in school, he has to read two biographies or autobiographies.  He, of course, wanted them to both be about pro-athletes, and he's already read a few of those anyway, but I suggested forced him to choose something on a world leader.  One of the first ones that caught my eye at the library was on Thomas Jefferson so I grabbed and it tossed to him saying, "Here, read this one then I'll take you to his house."  Unfortunately, I wasn't be able to get him into Hakeem Olajuwon's house even though he finished that book last month.

I went to Monticello on a field trip in seventh grade and I remember enjoying it, so I figured I might as well take the kids and make sure they're still giving T.J. props for writing the Declaration of Independence and whatnot.  Side note: the best way to get your kids excited about the founding fathers and American history is to let them watch National Treasure, 1 & 2, with Nicholas Cage.  Well, starring Nicholas Cage, not watching with him.  He's an okay actor, but I don't think I'd let him babysit my children.

Anyway, my son read the book on Jefferson and I read a lot of it myself, to brush up on my historical facts.  Stretch, who is a total bookworm, wanted to read a few chapters with me.  And she was really paying attention and asking smart questions.  About the book.  When we got there though and we were standing outside Monticello, she looked up at it all wide-eyed and said, "Is he going to be here?"

I knew, immediately, who she meant, but part of me was still hoping..."He who?"

Then she looked at me like I was stupid.  "Thomas Jefferson."  Obviously.

"Honey, he died like 200 years ago."

She started nodding her head, like oh yeah, of course, but still double-checked with, "So, no?"  I guess hundreds of years is a hard concept when you're seven.

But he was buried there and we saw his tombstone.  Can that count as her seeing Thomas Jefferson?  It was a big tombstone.  We also looked at all the smaller ones we could see too.  And I remarked on different things, like names and people being buried there recently, to my mom.  Oh yeah, another side note, if you go on field trip with your kids, you should always take your mom, so there's someone else to hold bags and pass out snacks and stuff.  And my mom had never been to Monticello, despite having lived in Virginia her entire life.  I won't tell you how many years that is because she'd never help me take the kids anywhere ever again.  She has studied the architecture of every mall in the state, but it was her first time at a President's house.

Sorry, way off track...the cemetery, talking tombstones, and then Reckless pipes up and says, very scholarly, "Oh, here's a man that died in world war eleven."  My mom and I laughed and laughed about that, then explained roman numerals and how there have only been two world wars.  Then we laughed and laughed some more.

The weather was beautiful and the kids were having such a good time and learning so much that we stayed all day.  The house tour is only forty-five minutes, but there are grounds tours and a tour about slavery, which is an awful thing to have to explain to your kids.  Brainy understood it and found it horrible.  The girls, the ones who expected to run into Jefferson that day, didn't quite follow on that tour, and that's okay, they still had fun.

They also have an interactive kids' discovery center now, which is new.  So we the kids were able to write with Jefferson's side by side polygraph pens and lay in a replica of his bed and play with clocks and stuff.  It was cool.  Not as cool as Nana buying them feather pens and their own copy of the Declaration of Independence and other assorted memorabilia though.  Which is another good reason to bring your mother along, in case your kids start asking for stuff that costs money.

So, I didn't bake creative things with the kids and post intimidating pictures of said things on Pinterest and I didn't teach anyone a foreign language or even make them comb their hair every day of track out, but I did teach them about the birth of our nation and get them another step closer to winning the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, so take that Super Moms!