Saturday, April 28, 2012

"I'm famous!"

This week the kids' school showed off a new component of their P.E. program: Drums Alive. The kids all have big exercise balls and drum sticks. They do 30 minutes of interval training: 3 minutes of high-energy cardio, hopping or running in place while drumming madly on the balls. Then they have 3 minutes of rest. But instead of just resting, they do math problems in their heads, then count out the answer on the balls using place value (297 means hit the side of the ball 2 times, the top of the ball 9 times, then hit your sticks together 7 times).

It's a new program, so the local newspaper came out to cover their performance, and the photo and article were in the next day's issue. We subscribe to the paper, but I hadn't noticed a reporter at the school, so it was a fun surprise to read the article and then notice Seth in the cover photo. I showed him the article when he got home, but waited to see if he'd recognize himself in the photo. It took a minute or two, but the smile that slowly split his face was priceless. He shoved the picture under Carden's nose and shouted, "Look! I'm in the newspaper!! That means I'm FAMOUS!"

Reminds me of a line from a song from Newsies: "Tomorrow they may wrap fishes in it. / But I was a star for one whole minute!"

Seth's on the left side of the photo, wearing a yellow shirt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Camp Floyd

Our big outing during spring break was to Camp Floyd, about 15 miles west of Lehi, out in the middle of the tiny town of Fairfield. Shortly before the Civil War, President Buchanan sent 3,500 troops (1/3 of the U.S. Army) to an outpost 30 miles from Salt Lake to keep an eye on those rascally Mormons.

Nothing happened, the whole affair was nicknamed "Buchanan's Blunder" and the troops were recalled once the Civil War started, having to sell all their supplies and equipment for pennies on the dollar. Clearly not much has changed in the ensuing 150 years in the way of government prudence and planning.

We visited the small museum, an inn across the street for stagecoach travelers, a cemetery, and (not connected with Camp Floyd, but still very cool) a one-room schoolhouse from 1898. 

I let the boys take turns with the camera, taking pictures of everything that interested them. This always helps keep them excited about looking at old clothing and furniture. Their favorite: naturally, the bullet hole that blasted through both walls of the hall when a guest was cleaning his gun and it accidentally discharged. We found an aebleskiver pan in the kitchen, which everyone found very interesting, since that's one of their favorite breakfast treats. And of course, who can pass up the carved wooden chair with a pot in the seat (toilet).  

The cemetery is fascinating because a local historian recently discovered that the gravestones are for people who died elsewhere, and the remains that they discovered through ground-penetrating radar don't match up with the headstone location. So last year they took out all the incorrect headstones and put new ones that all say "unknown" over the remains. When we were there, you could see marks in the grass from the old headstones, in orderly rows, evenly spaced. Today the new headstones are higgledy-piggledy, but accurately placed. Fascinating stuff! Sadly, the wind was blowing fast and cold by this time, so the kids only made it outside for a minute or two before the rain began. We ate our picnic lunch in the car and the kids all laughingly agreed with the quote from an unknown soldier who said "This is the most despicable place on earth."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring break structure

My trepidation aside, spring break was a lot of fun this year, a nice mix of activity and relaxation. I think it helps that the kids are getting older (or at least Claire is getting older and I don't have to drag a stroller and diaper bag everywhere or squeeze everything into the window between naps.

During school, the week is governed by each child's weekly chore chart and homework chart. In honor of spring break, I let them choose their own chores (shredding papers in the office is the most coveted). Here's our current chore system. Normally I choose the chores that need to be done each week (about half are permanent and half rotate). We try for one job a day, with Saturday for whatever's left. Of course, this is on top of their normal daily life jobs like putting laundry away, making beds, setting/clearing the table, etc.

I also came up with the "Spring Break Bingo" chart to encourage them to keep their brains going in ways that didn't require me to help or supervise.

Getting "bingo" earned them wii time. They outsmarted me though, and after the first day, kept using squares they already finished to earn future bingos. So by Friday, they only had to do one or two things! Oh well. At least they were doing something, and the motivation meant that they tackled all their stuff first thing in the morning. Next time I'll make the chart 6 by 6 squares to allow for them double-counting things!