Sunday, July 27, 2014
That was the boys' choice for the second "cozy camp" (that's what I'm calling it 'cause it's just the two of them). Both boys were very well prepared after their other pirate camp in Bath, NC earlier this summer. Both have read the Treasure Island, watched Pirates of the Caribbean, read lots of books about pirates and all that. Additionally, M got to go to the Tall Ships at Cape Charles festival a few weeks ago, participated in their pirate parade and school, won a medal and was overall a very experienced pirate.
This time around we started with another great book, Blackbeard's Last Fight. It is very well written, lots of interesting details and a spooky ending (sure, we all knew how it would end, the title kinda gave it away, but there were a couple of small details that were unexpected).
Then it was time time for sword-fighting, of course! Even though we reminded them the safety rules, we had to stop this part after about 10 minutes as it was getting way out of hand. Instead, I suggested to turn it into a game M loves to play at his fencing practice. It's basically the good old "red light - green light" game, but with a twist. Here's how it's played:
Kids line up at the start line. An adult is at the finish line facing the kids. Kids can move using proper fencing moves. Kids can move only when the adult is not looking at them. As soon as the adult looks their way they have to freeze. If the adult notices a kid moving, the kid is sent back to the start line. Everyone took turns being "the adult" in this game. It was way fun except we were all getting hungry.
So we hurried back into the house for some lunch at a seaside tavern. A simple fair of bacon and eggs with some crusty bread and a mug full of grog (orange juice with water) all tasted delicious. Now it was time to search for treasure on a LEGO island. First, we replayed the last battle with the two model ships we used earlier and with some LEGO mini-figs. We did change the gruesome end a bit though. According to our story, Robert Maynard found Blackbeard's treasure chest, but there, instead of treasure was a note with some coordinates. Using these coordinates, kids had to find the island on the map, sail to it in their ships, walk through a labyrinth solving a few puzzles along the way and find the treasure.
Next trip, it was decided, was going to be to Apollo 11's historic Moon landing.
A friend came up with a great idea to run a series of playdates that are all about travelling back in time and exploring different countries and historic events. Well, his original idea of "everything will be made out of and role-played with LEGOs" had to be substantially reworked because the kids didn't care for it much. So M and I suggested limiting or even eliminating LEGOs from these playdates and doing lots more hands-on stuff like crafts and battles and food.
For our first adventure both M and his friend chose to go to medieval Japan, to the time of the samurai. With this in mind, we got together at our house a couple of weeks ago for a morning of samurai school. First, we read the You Wouldn't Want to Be a Samurai book and chatted a bit about samurai training.
Then the kids learned some Kanji (I was amazed that M actually remembered most of the symbols from that one little exercise a few months ago when he wanted to learn some Chinese). The idea was for them to pick a symbol or two to paint on their banners. Both ended up with "Volcano" and drew almost identical banners to take into battle with them.
We then read a legend of Susanoo and the 7-headed serpent and the kids drew their own illustrations - lots of blood and snake guts. It was interesting that both M and his friend were so busy drawing the battle itself, that neither of them bothered to draw the right number of heads on the monster. M came up with a creative explanation that he drew the remaining heads after Susanoo already chopped some off.
But after this they were DONE sitting down. They demanded to go out to the backyard and run around. Fortunately, the second half of the samurai school involved some archery practice (supervised) and sword fighting with foam swords. So this was great fun until, after about half an hour of non-stop sword fighting and jumping around in the heat both were tired and cranky and fighting over something. Blood was shed as M's friend hit M right in the mouth with a stick, bad enough that the somewhat-loose tooth got really loose and there was a cut on M's gums.
After everyone was calmed down and ice administered, the kids once again made friends and, realizing that they were starving, asked to make sushi. The day before this camp, we went out to a Thai restaurant, M asked for sushi and got to watch the chef make the rolls. Our sushi didn't turn out nearly as pretty, but the kids didn't seem to mind.
So that was it for the 4-hour camp. The kids decided that next week they wanted to visit pirates, specifically, Blackbeard, on the day of his last battle.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Has it really been almost a year since my last post? Wow, time sure flies when you keep promising yourself to "post tomorrow evening". No sense it trying to play catch-up now - too many things happened, too many pictures were taken and all that. Let's just say we are all a year older now. And are totally into pirates.
And I got a new camera. It's not fancy, but a big improvement over my old one (RIP, little SONY point-and-shoot). Except this camera has too many options and the only way to figure them out is to download this huge and terribly confusing manual. Which I've done. But now I have to read it and, well, it's another case of "I'll just do it tomorrow". So for now there's no noticeable improvement in picture quality. So I try to go someplace really scenic to make up for this. Fortunately, Virginia is only a couple of hours away although since Chris's been back we don't travel there every weekend.
Ok, won't be dragging this out. After all this is meant as a short post to get me back to the blog. Hopefully next one will be dated July 2014, not July 2015.
Friday, August 2, 2013
We were glad we went. It is a very nice museum, very hands-on. Unfortunately, M wasn't old enough to try the Crime Investigation Lab. It's better suited for kids 8 and older. But maybe next year... We did check it out and at first he was quite interested. But there was just too much other stuff going on, things like giant soap bubbles...
And then there's the entire second floor! Which was a bit quieter and a lot more fascinating. It was almost entire taken over by an exhibit about energy and ways it can be transferred. Yeah, I tried it too and got all nostalgic about port operations.
There were simple machines, of course, and you could try to lift an elephant (with a long lever) or hoist yourself up using a pulley system (which made me feel like I was only a little bit lighter than an elephant)...
Aside from the energy exhibit, there is also a sizable art lab on the second floor. The best part was playing with this wall, making prints in it. This is our family portrait. But we also left butt prints there too (ok, those were quickly erased, but boy was it fun to watch them appear!) M made countless impressions of himself playing the "carbonite freeze" scene.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
It was a long hot day and one of the first animals we got to see was this awesome polar bear. It was his meal time. The zoo keeper would throw fish to the bear and the bear would lumber around looking for it. Sometimes it would step of the rocks into the cold water. We hoped he'd jump and splash us, but that didn't happen. But the kids got to crawl into this fake ice-cave and they claimed it was nice and cold there.
The big attraction in the Asheboro Zoo right now is the Dinosaurs exhibit. So we bought the add-on tickets to see that. But first kids wanted to ride on a carousel.
And then we walked some more and saw lots more animals, including giraffes and zebras and elephants (one of them pooped which also was exciting, as you can imagine). And the kid got to sit on all sorts of (fake) animals - a dinosaur...