Saturday, February 28, 2009

Random Stuff

These are just some random shots.
Ok here is the story to this one. The kids have discovered hot cocoa recently and decided they like it for their snack. I turned to look at Mak during school and had to laugh. As you can see most of the drink didn't make it into his mouth. I sent him to wash his face, but all the kids insisted I take a picture first.
Kayte was so tired the other night she didn't wake up when we brought her in from the car..she stayed sleeping through a diaper change and being put into bed. This is so cool. TJ was talking with his teacher online. She was doing a math lesson with him.

Jack's dinner plate tipped over the other night at Opa and Oma's house. His food all all down the front of him. David decided a picture was more important than cleaning him up right away.
The video is silly. It's just Jack and Kayte jumping up and down on a chair excited to see snow. Kayte loves to move the chair and look out the front door.
Another thing that has been difficult to catch on video is how much Kayte reminds us of a blond version of Boo from "Monsters Inc." especially when she runs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The History Fair

We do this every year, and though at times it's a huge stress it is always worth it.

The kids and I always learn so much!

Chatham chose Napoleon, and we learned quite a few interesting things about this 5'2" man.
For instance:
  • He wasn't born French but Italian?
  • He was a huge fan of himself and most of the portraits you see of him he had done and dictated their content. The famous one of him riding a horse over the Alps to victory is quite glamorized, since in reality he rode a mule.
  • During one of his raids on Egypt his men found the Rosetta stone.
  • Much of the Art work that started the Louvre was obtained by his men doing raids.

Mak's project was a tough one this year, mainly because information about his topic is limited in the United States.

He studied Tafari Makonnen - to learn a bit about the history of his own name.

Here are some interesting things about the Last Ethiopian Emperor:

  • He is believed to be a direct descendant of King Solomon - and was called the Lion of Judah
  • His first title was Ras -meaning high, or governor. So he was called Ras Tafari
  • This is where Rastafarians get their name.
  • They believe he is Jesus Reincarnate, and use the Bible to "prove" it.
  • He is more commonly known as Haile Selassie
  • He got Ethiopia involved in the League of Nations.
  • He was the first Black man to spend the night in the White House as a guest of the president, Kennedy.
  • and much much more!

TJ's project was on the Pony Express. Below is the report he wrote about it. It says it far better than I could. (his footnotes didn't transfer well, so I deleted them). So if you have the time, read and enjoy:

The Pony Express

Today many people take mail delivery for granted. Back in the 1800s mail took months to reach its destination. It was hard work carrying the mail across the country. During that time many different people took risks and opportunities to deal with this problem. After the government failed with camels and stagecoaches, the people began to take action for themselves. What developed no one expected, but has become a major event in American history.

In 1639 the First official mail service and route was set up by the U.S. Government. They used stagecoaches to carry the mail, it was slow and unreliable. They had a lot of problems like getting stuck in the mud, and robberies happened often. In that time there were no established roads only dangerous trails, as a result it took many stage coaches three weeks or more to deliver anything.

If you were in California it was even harder to get mail. Many people thought that it was too dangerous to carry mail and packages across North America to the west coast, so they came up with another idea. They would carry it by ship. In order to reach their destination ships had to round the tip of South America all the way to San Francisco or Sacramento. These ships took five to six months to reach California! Some people did not trust the government and gave their packages and mail to total strangers to deliver.

California was growing fast because of the gold rush. As a result it complained to the government that it wasn’t providing an effective mail service. It was true, it hadn’t even known that it was voted to become a state until six months later! They sent the first Californian Senator, William M. Gwin, to Washington for his first congressional session. Senator Gwin was escorted by Major Ben Ficklin(at that time Ben was trial superintendent of the freighting firm Russell, Majors, and Waddell). Ficklin thought that an over land mail route was possible and suggested the idea to Gwin. Soon after that William H. Russell went to Washington also and met Gwin in several social meetings. Russell, along with his two partners Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell already had an overland shipping business called Russell, Majors, and Waddell. When he left Washington Russell had an idea that he telegraphed ahead to his son in Lexington, Missouri:

Have determined to establish a pony express to Sacramento, California, commencing 3rd April. Time ten days.

Russell did what he said he would and started the “Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express”, otherwise known as the Pony Express, with his partners Majors, and Waddell. They began to establish stations every 15 to 20 miles. They used old stagecoach stations, and set up a few of their own where the distance was too far for horses to run from one to the other at top speed. They began to look for riders and used this ad:

Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily.
Orphans Preferred.

182 men applied for the position, the youngest was 11! These men had a lot to do. In those days it was considered impossible to get mail in ten days all the way from California on horse back – but they accomplished it!
Days for a Pony Express Rider were never dull and were never safe either. There were Indian raids, dangerous weather and robberies. Some times whole stations were trashed, the horses were scattered. The weather in many places was treacherous especially the Sierra mountain ranges because of the numerous blizzards that whirled around its many tops. Also when they got to the bottom the harsh desert of the Nevada territory and Utah hit them. So, many riders came prepared by bringing water bottles or coats. Many thought the riders mad because of the dangerous job they did.
The Pony Express was different than other horsemen or cowboy. They braved dangers that no one thought they could. They had different saddles called “Mochilas” that were designed especially for them. Mochilas had four pouches two on one side two on the other, the back pouches were lower than the front to fit the rider and his legs comfortably between the pouches. These Mochilas were built for speed and endurance and could easily move from one horse to the next, in fact one rider could do it in under two minutes.
The Pony Express was not just about the riders, there were many involved. There were Station keepers who helped the riders transfer the mail from one horse to the other and made sure everything was taken care of, they could earn an equal salary to the riders. Stock tenders were just as necessary in the success of the Pony Express, because they took care of the horses and without the horses the Pony Express was nothing. There were also managers who helped keep things running, but in the end it was the Riders who always got the glory.
A rider’s salary began at $50 a month plus room and board, some eventually earned up to $125 if they were willing to brave the worst conditions and threats. Before they were aloud to serve the Pony Express they had to swear this oath:

"I, ......, do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God."

After they swore the oath they are free to run 75 miles,their part of the157 relay stations, during the twice a week deliveries. They ran fast, they ran hard, but they didn’t run long. It wasn’t even two years old when the Pony Express had to shut down.
In an October 26, 1861 article in the Californian Newspaper the announcement was made “Our little friend the Pony is to run no more”. After just 18 short months, The Pony Express was bested by the technology of telegrams, and the speed of railroads. Even without those advances the Pony Express could never have continued because from its start it cost more to run than it made. Russell, Majors and Waddell had started the whole thing in hopes of government contracts and backing but with the Civil war approaching that option failed. When they closed their doors they were $525,532 in debt. They may have lost money, but remarkably only one life was lost. It was a success with the people but not for the company.
Some of the riders went on to become famous, like Buffalo Bill who started shows about the Pony Express and other amazing feats. Others went to fight for the union. All of them carried the memory of such a huge historical event in their hearts. The182 brave men were just doing their job, delivering the mail – their job ended but the legacy continues to this day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Science is Fun!

We went to the Great Lakes Science Center with some good friends, and made some new ones.
The Special Exhibit right now is a Robot room, where you can learn all about the history of Robots, and do all kinds of other things with them. Above Maddie and Maci are making their Jitterbug, a mini motor and battery plus all the decorations they could come up with.
This is the group we went with. They were mad at me for making them take a break from all the fun in order to take this picture.
T.J. trying to put legs on a robot in the right way so it will walk straight.
Mak succeeded first in the walking robot and got it to walk in the hamster wheel.
The Mom's had fun too. This is Melissa and Me experimenting with static electricity. Her pinkie is sticking up because she could see a blue spark coming off it.
Again, us Mom's were just as fascinated as the kids!
This one was neat because when you spun the wheel you could see the strings of the instrument vibrating.
Freeze Dried Ice Cream!!!!
We ended the day with an OmniMax movie of Egyptian Mummies. It was a great day!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Funny Phrases

Kids do say the darnedest things:
Lately Jack has been making me smile with his phraseology
He has his own terminology for Star Wars things:
  • Star Wars the Claw Wars - instead of Clone Wars
  • Dark-a-baiter - instead of Darth Vader.
  • The other day he asked me for a "wipe-u" - he needed to blow his nose and couldn't remember tissue.
  • One of David's favorite is when Jack says "no I amn't" instead of no I'm not.
  • The other night he slept on the couch and I asked why. He said "because my brothers carried me away" (which was a lie).
  • I knew he'd been watching news with his Dad the other day, because when we were in the check out line he said, pointing at the magazine rack "Hey Mom, look it's Barack Obama". That one made me laugh mainly because we've been struggling with him to learn his letters and numbers, but he knows how to say our presidents name crystal clear!
Kayte is speaking more and more, making every effort to make herself understood.
  • "self, Mom, self" is her most recent - instead of me carrying her up and down the stairs.
  • She calls my mixer a "cookie maker"
  • But my favorite is by far "I hungry, Mom" - the little girl who never ate, has finally developed an appetite.
The big boys are still on their quest to make funny jokes:
here's one that was close:
  • What flavor is furniture? Chair-y
  • They actually make us laugh with the big words they use, especially Mak, but of course I can't think of anything right now:)

Things have been hectic here lately, but after this weekend they should slow down.

The History Fair is tomorrow, and the boys have been working hard on their History Projects, then TJ and Mak have a piano competition on Saturday.

My fun kids

My fun kids
In their favorite tree