Sunday, November 30, 2008

And What Did You Do Over the Thanksgiving Break?

Soooo... I've been incommunicado for the last week.

But! It's not that nothing happened. It's that so much was happening that I didn't have time or energy to get to a computer. Here's what we did.

First, I mentioned in my last post that I took the Pillowfight Fairy to a production of Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, performed by the Sacramento Opera. Good production. And Arby, if you're reading this, I liked your parody. My other two readers thank you.

Second, since my workplace gives us both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, I chose to take three vacation days and get the whole week. And this week turned out to not be anything like downtime.

On Monday, among other things, we decided it was time to start teaching the Fairy to ride a bike without the training wheels. I took the wheels off, threw the Fairy and the bike in the back of the van, and took her to a local park. She proceeded to ride into fences, benches, light posts, dirt piles, and anything else. She tells me she hated the experience, but the whole time she was there she was giggling like someone who's become slightly unhinged. (In fact, she would giggle even more when she was running into things, which makes me think that she might in fact actually have been slightly unhinged.) Well, she hadn't mastered the art of riding in a straight line by the time we left, but she had definitely made progress. That is, the time between push-off and entry into an uncontrollable spin was starting to lengthen. I think a few more trips like the one she had on Monday would do the trick.

And, of course, she complained a lot about it. This is the way things go with the Fairy, every time she's trying to learn a new skill: it's hard, it takes work, it's a little scary, so it's bad, bad, bad!--until she actually starts getting it. And then it starts to become fun, and she wants to do it all the time. We're hoping that this is what happens with her piano practice...

On Tuesday, we hopped in the van and drove to Tonya's parents' place, since we were going to have Thanksgiving with her side of the family this year. After lunchtime at their place, I grabbed the Fairy (only her, since the other two kids really were too young to appreciate this experience) and we went to the local Egyptian museum.

In our homeschooling, we're following the history scope and sequence laid out in Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Trained Mind, and this has us teaching the ancient world during the first grade. Tonya has been teaching about the Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and a host of other dead people for the last several months, and I wanted the Fairy to have a chance to see all of the stuff she'd been reading about. So we looked at a bunch of coffins and sarcophagi, and a couple of (real) mummies, and a bunch of high-quality replica statuary.

(I also pointed out that, at just under 49 inches tall, she's not that much shorter than some of those coffins. People back then were a lot shorter than we are today. I understand that the average male stood about 5 feet tall, with the women a bit less than that--which means that the Fairy, at age six, is only a few inches shorter than an adult woman of ancient Egypt. Scary...)

There was a replica relief there of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, which got her all excited because she had just read about him in her schoolwork a few days earlier. The museum also has several rooms that are painted and decorated to look like an Egyptian tomb, and she found that interesting (and a little creepy--it was pretty dark in there). She also got pretty excited when she saw the replica of that famous Bust of Nefertiti, which she immediately recognized.

Of course, she's six--so the part of the museum she liked the most was the gift shop, where she picked out a coloring book about Nefertiti.

On Wednesday we all hopped in the van and headed down the coast to Monterey, to visit the excellent aquarium they have there. Tonya and I have both been there before, but the place has expanded quite a bit since then. They have some huge tanks filled with sharks, rays, sturgeon, sunfish, and (occasionally) divers. There were many smaller tanks with everything from eels to octopus. There was even a tank where you're allowed to reach in and pet the bat rays that are swimming around--although on Wednesday, the bat rays apparently didn't want to get too close to all those icky little kids.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving. And we drove home on Friday and just rested.

On Saturday we decided to start a new project, which will be the subject of the next post.

So anyway, now at the end of our 10-day break (since I got the previous Friday off as well), we're wondering where the vacation went, and why we aren't feeling the least bit rested. :-)

Nevertheless, tomorrow it's back off to work, ready or not. And that's probably a good thing; while these little breaks are nice every once in a while, I'm thinking more and more as I age toward senescence that the everyday routine, the work we do day-in and day-out, is at least as important to our well-being.

And in some ways, it's more relaxing, too.


silvermine said...

We went the Egyptian museum when we were in the egypt chapter, too. My son thought the mummies were so yucky he didn't want to be in the same room as them.

But he's now a mancala fiend! ;)

B. Durbin said...

I remember the museum from when my sister was attending Santa Clara. Fun times.

And here's some They Might Be Giants for you:

"We're the Mesopotamians,
and Gilgamesh..."

Rob always asks where Tiglath Pilezar II is...