I’m planning on cooking today. My list to cook is egg rolls in a bowl, cole slaw with the leftover cabbage, and pizza dough for the up coming week. Before I started cooking I had a hankering for popcorn balls, but when I checked my recipe I don’t have any Karo syrup. Oh well, I guess it’s for the best. Heh. I put it on my list.

The boys ate breakfast and then we read the Bible. Max played on his computer a bit while Jack did Gemiini, and then Jack and I played play dough. After lunch I sent the boys off to the water slide (they inflate it here every Fri-Sun) while I cooked up a storm.

I considered making Mom’s egg roll recipe and just not rolling and frying it, but then figured I’d try the new recipe I found. It’s good, but I added a lot more ginger, garlic and soy sauce. I’m interested to see how it tastes after it sits for a while and melds.

At one point today I told Jack he was a cutie patootie, and he said I’m not patootie, I’m a boy!

I finished up all the recipes and cleaned my bathroom. The boys played outside in the yard for a bit, and even watched Odd Squad there. They went back out to the water slide while I made supper. When they got back and Jack was getting ready to shower I asked him do you need to go to the bathroom? He said Um, maybe yes ma’am. Heh, His sporadic use of maybe these days cracks me up.

We watched the ending of Close Encounters while eating supper. Max said the movie was kinda cool, and I asked him if it was because we got to see it firsthand and he said yes. I’m so thankful we’re getting to do so much! We’re so blessed. I hope that boy remembers this time as fun his whole life.

After supper Max and I played 3 hands of BGRB (boathouse gin rummy boathouse) while Jack played with the photo booth app on his iPad. He did Gemiini again while Max showered, and then it was time for them to turn off the lights.

I finally turned off the TV and put my phone down at 1am. I was still sound asleep at 6:30 when Jack came in. I got him back to sleep for another hour. Winner!

When he woke up and we were snuggling he asked me, “When I finish eating my breakfast can I go to Disney World in November?” Heh, that sweet boy just doesn’t get how time works!

When I was making lunch I had Max clean up the toys Jack had pulled out. When Jack finished up in the bathroom he pulled the toys back out of the toy basket and put them back in. He didn’t want Max to be the one cleaning up! He really wants to be a helper, and he gets annoyed or angry every night if I send him straight to the shower and have Max clean off the table. That crazy kid is going to be the death of me!

We lazed around most all morning, but I did send the boys out to the playground before lunch, and Max had to clean their bathroom. I left after lunch for some thrifting. I went to 5 thrift stores and found nothing!!! That’s not right! I did talk to Ted for an hour, though, as I sat in the parking lot of one of the stores. Heh. I got groceries on the way home, and while there got a text from Max that he wasn’t feeling well. I asked if he wanted me to call him and he said no, it wasn’t too serious. I wondered if he was just preparing me for his inability to not take Jack to the playground when I got home. Heh. I talked to Ted for 20 minutes on the way home, and the text I saw he sent me while I was driving was this: “Im not good at walking right now. so tired I tink it’s allergy” LOL. I asked Ted to text him while I was driving and his text to Ted was much milder. When I got home Max was in bed and still kind of ‘shaky’, but when I told him he had to go to the playground he rallied slightly. I think he’ll live, but it’s a close one!

As soon as the boys were out of the house I got down to business making supper, and then the water shut off! I saw Trina outside so asked her if she had water and she doesn’t. There’s a leak at the back of the property that sometimes gives them fits, and now is that time. I went back in and just put the groceries up while watching The Office on TV, and just when I gave up on doing anything more productive the water came back on. Heh. So I cut up the cabbage I bought for a recipe, and then it was time for the boys to come back home. We had pizza and salad, then showers and hit the hay.

I was trying to get us out the door at a reasonable time, and things were going well. Today Max asked ‘what next’ several times and was generally more helpful; has he been reading my blog? As we were walking out the door I noticed Jack putting up his pj’s, though I’d told Max to put them up earlier. Jack bristles at Max’s help sometimes/often. I’ve noticed him opening and closing the truck and bathroom door after Max has closed it, and today he took his pj’s out and put them up again after Max had put them up 10 minutes before! What a hard-headed son of a gun! In a lot of ways this independence is good for him, it pushes him to do more. But this is pretty ridiculous!

Why don’t we go to a Cheesecake church? Or should I be glad since it’s a “Cheesecake” church?!

Today we went to the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown. I planned for us to stay at this museum as long as we wanted, and then to go to the Yorktown battlefield and tour it, but we ended up staying here from 10:30 till 4:15! There was so much to see! We started off in the gift shop…Max wanted to go there before he was too tired to shop, heh. As we walked down the hall to see the actual museum there were handsewn coats of the different armies for us to try on. Jack’s coat was a little snug, and reminded us of A Christmas Story when the little brother couldn’t put his arms down.

We saw so many things, cannons, swords, rifles, and my favorites: just the general things people used back then like plates and bowls, cups and forks, shoes and furniture. I’m always interested how people used to do things, though I don’t long for that time…I’m super grateful for air conditioning and cars, etc. We watched a film about the beginning of the war and it amazed me that free black men fought for our independence and then were enslaved. What a crime! And Indians, too; they had even less to gain by our freedom but some were on our side. The first film we saw mentioned William Flora who was a free black man who fought (did he stay free?), Isabella Ferguson who warned her husband not to side with the British, Peter Harris who was a Catawba Indian who fought for our independence, among others. One phrase that got me I only got part of, ‘consent to be governed’. So many other countries (all other countries?) the king or leader takes power by force or is born into the family of the one who took power by force. But our country was built on a group of people fighting against that. All those many years ago we chose our leadership, we consented to be governed. Wow. We live in a great country. I don’t think we’re as great as we used to be; I think we’re so big and now we’ve become unwieldy.

We sat in on a presentation about the militia; about how stubborn and hard-headed they were, what they wore, and some major battles they helped win like the one at Bennington, NY (now VT) and Kings mountain.

We toured the inside of the museum until we were hungry, around 1pm, and then had meats and cheeses in the truck. Then it was time for the outdoor portion, but I was reminded that there was a 4D movie to see. It was a 9-minute show about the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, the battle of Yorktown! This is where Cornwallis surrendered to us, and it’s what prompted the British to back off and let us be. For a while anyway. It was pretty cool with a 180 degree screen and smoke and coffee and gunpowder smells. The seats shook a bit when the cannons fired. It was a fun little film. The guy at the beginning of our day who let us try on the army coats told us that Cornwallis wasn’t actually at the surrender! He was sick that morning, and so he sent his second in command. That guy wanted to snub us a bit so he tried to surrender to the French; they wouldn’t accept him and sent him to George Washington who wouldn’t accept him either because he wasn’t Cornwallis, and sent him to George’s second in command who finally accepted his surrender.

Now we moved to the outside. This is the part I liked the best. We went into a tent that housed 6 men that really had just enough room for them to sleep; there was absolutely no room for them to do anything else. The boys both signed up to join the army; since there were no birth certificates back then whoever wanted to join just had to say they were 16 and sign up. They were given a little signing bonus, and the promise that if they fought for the duration of the war they’d be given land afterward.

We saw the ‘kitchen’ which was just a mound of dirt with a trench around it, and cooking stations dug into that mound at several points. Each person in the tent took turns cooking for the rest of the men in that tent each day to cut down on the number of campfires needed, and wood, and to allow the other guys to work.

The medical tent was the scariest. The hook they used to pull a vein up to clamp and sew was frightening. They didn’t give pain meds until after the procedure because alcohol would cause more bleeding and I forget what the problem was with giving laudanum before the operation; poor saps! We got to see tools for pulling teeth, trepanning, a tourniquet, a lard and sulfur ointment they used on everything, and lots of other menacing-looking tools.

We heard a talk on the rifles that were used, and saw a demonstration of loading and shooting one. And later we were there for the cannon firing. They asked for many volunteers to help clean and load and fire the cannon. After several boys and girls were called the guy asked for someone who could take charge like a mom and Max raised his hand and pointed at me!!! The guy asked if I wanted to go up and I was game. He gave me a sword to wear and a cheat sheet with all the commands on it, and then when I yelled out the first command he said it wasn’t loud enough! So I yelled as loud as I could through all the rest of the commands. He was a good speaker and led us all through the demonstration with me yelling my head off every time I had to give a command. Max couldn’t take any photos with my phone because it was locked, but that was fine. At the end of the presentation the older guy said ‘boom’ instead of actually firing the cannon and we all chuckled. He had us all go back to our seats and then they actually primed and loaded the cannon and shot it. What a jolt to the chest that was! We could all really feel it. It was awesome!

We saw a cabin with a huge loom in it; it wasn’t fully set up yet, but we got to watch a woman spin some wool with a hand spinner. We saw a little slave garden and heard a talk about that, and a tobacco barn where the woman also talked about the hardships of tobacco farming. She also told us about people who died in America who wanted to be buried in England. The trip across the ocean took at least 6 weeks, so they would have their bodies pickled in drums and sent! Crazy!

Well, I think that’s all we saw! I’m sure we missed some things, but we saw so much and learned so much. Times were so hard back then, but were better then than they had been before. I guess that’s the way the world always will be. By now it was about 4pm. I didn’t think we had enough time to really do the Yorktown Battlefield well, so we headed home. I’d picked out a Mediterranean place for supper, but it was too early to eat. We drove back on the scenic drive, which wasn’t too impressive. I was expecting beautiful houses or lovely lake scenery, but it was just tree-lined. They were beautiful trees, just not what I was expecting.

When I got to Richmond I pulled over to find us a place to eat. Max had asked for an American place (eyeroll), and I found a place that made both of us happy. Four Brothers Bistro and Grill had some good ratings on Yelp, so I started setting up Google to get us there. Google found 2 locations, and 1 of them was only 10 minutes from the bus! It had good reviews too, so that’s where we headed. Max got hot wings (and some lip from me for always getting the same thing), and Jack and I split the Honey Chicken Wrap (highly praised on Yelp) and the Volcano Fries. The wrap was OK, I ate it more like a salad. The honey mustard on that was as thin as a vinaigrette, and the whole thing needed salt, so Jack got the larger portion of that. The Volcano Fries, though, were wonderful! They started off with awesome fries, topped that with that soupy cheese, jalapeƱos, tomatoes and sriracha mayo! I ate most of those, but did eventually share with Jack. I didn’t realize how much I was saving him, though; those things were great, but I paid for all that greasy cheese later!

We got home at 7pm, the boys showered right away and we all got right into bed. What a great day!

Today is a stay at home day!! Woot!! All I have on my list is:
Office: pkg and ask about roof
Meal plan
Plan Yorktown
Cascade insoles
Read Bible
Backup blog
Call mom
Find fun history of US podcast
fix the magnets on the screen door

I sent the boys out to the playground and was on the phone with my mom when I heard a strange sound in the background…it sounded like water running, and since I was the only one in the bus it worried me. I asked Mom to be quiet a sec…when I could actually hear it I think there was a squirrel on top of our bus fussing at something! We’ve had them scampering on the roof before, but this is the first time I’ve heard one talking.

Jack still occasionally prays thanks for his birthday so excitedly, it’s funny.

Jack read his part of the Bible without any help from us today! He followed along and only got lost once when he went to the next chapter the first time. Woot! That’s a pretty big step for him. We tried doing this several weeks ago but it didn’t take. I think us reading Job helped, with the short phrases and sentences I think he’s able to keep up better. Now that we have all the Psalms and Proverbs to go through maybe he’ll get the rhythm enough to be able to do this on his own from now on.

Well, here’ s my to do list at the end of the day:
Meal plan
Cascade insoles (started)
Hose for Ted
fix the magnets on the screen door (well, this has been on here for a while)

Read Bible
Office: pkg and ask about roof
Get J’s Bible
Cancel thing on my ipad (maybe? But need to ask Ted)
Plan yorktown
Backup blog
Call mom
Find fun history of US podcast (looked)

I didn’t find us a good podcast, but we did watch a few YouTube videos, I think that’s good enough

I’d stressed planning this day a bit. When I asked Max what he wanted to do he said go see the natural chimneys. That’s a 2-hour drive away, and seeing them seemed like it would be super quick, maybe 5-10 minutes. I saw that Monticello was halfway between there and here and it seemed smart to knock 2 things off our list in one day, so I started a plan. None of us want to get up early, but this was my first pass at an itinerary:
8 wake everyone up
9 leave
11 arrive chimney rock
12 leave for bbq
1:30 arrive bbq
3 leave bbq
3:30 arrive Monticello
6 Monticello closes
I didn’t want to wake everyone up, and I didn’t like not having much time for Monticello…what if we loved it and wanted to spend more time there? Ted said we could lump the chimneys in with our Skyline and Natural Bridge day, but I worried about packing in too much and having to cut out the chimneys, especially after Max said that’s what he wanted to do.

After back and forthing, and much reading of websites, I came up with this itinerary:
9:45 leave to get gas and head to bbq
11 arrive bbq, they open at 11
12 leave for Monticello
12:30 arrive Monticello
Have 5.5 hrs for seeing Monticello
Whenever we’re done head to chimneys if Max still wants to. The park there closes at dusk, which is around 8:30 these days.

This plan worked perfectly! Even though I went to bed around 1am I woke up sometime before 7 and had some time for laziness. Max still isn’t a great help getting ready to go unless I tell him specifically and often what to do to get us all out the door, but we managed to leave on time. And though I’ve made this schedule it’s still summer; this is just a guideline to help us get to do all the things we want to do without rushing.

The BBQ place was suggested on a blog by someone who went to Monticello; it was really good, too. I bought us a pulled pork plate and a brisket plate, with sides of baked beans (good) , spicy slaw(good) , french fries (may have had some sugar in the seasoning, they looked great, but were oddly sweet, I wouldn’t order them again) and mac and cheese (really cheesy and good). I loved the meat, but didn’t really like any of the BBQ sauces. I didn’t realize how picky I was about BBQ sauce until this trip, and really until coming to the east coast. Oh well. The meat was really good on its own.

And that’s the icing/cupcake ratio I like!

On the drive to the restaurant and then to Monticello we listened to Bill Nye’s comical US history on podcast. I’m not a fan of Nye’s stance on evolution, but I do like his science shows when he doesn’t shove evolution down your throat. I think a quick, fun history of the US is in order considering that we’re heading into super US history territory these days. I hated his writing style though! I’m bummed because the basis of the book was just what I wanted, but he tried too hard to be funny.

Monticello was a beautiful place to see, but I keep being appalled at Thomas Jefferson talking about how he’d do anything to help mankind advance (or something like that), and he was totally against slavery, but he wouldn’t free his slaves. I think he was a pretty smart dude, but it’s always hard to give up your comforts. Crazy how many men and women pushed their consciences down so far that they could treat other human beings this way. I’d read before we came to watch the film at the welcome center first, and then take the shuttle up and walk back down, so that’s what we did.

I loved seeing all Jefferson’s inventions, and the cool clock he had hanging over the front door that he didn’t plan correctly for, and then cut a hole in the floor to accommodate. There were cannonball weights that ran the clock, and they indicated the days of the week as well, though Saturday was under the floor. The views from his estate were marvelous! It was so awesome to walk among his garden and look out over the vineyard and imagine his thoughts from so long ago. I’d never seen a kitchen with smaller stoves along the side like the one here, and there were several dumb waiters around the place. There were many conveniences here that other houses never had, like the ‘remote control’ door lock in his bedroom so he didn’t have to get out of bed to open the door.

The guy that gave our tour was very interesting to listen to. We went on the family friendly tour, but it had enough information to interest Max and me. He told us that Thomas Jefferson was the 1st Secretary of State, and that he was voted into that position while he was out of the country! Other interesting facts we learned there are that he had no middle name, and that he owned the Natural Bridge. I’m so glad we got to spend so much time here; I wonder what Max thinks of going here, and I wonder how he’ll remember this day. He said he enjoyed touring the place, so there’ s that.

When we’d seen all we could see I laid out the facts about the chimneys to Max and we decided to go for it. When we got to the Campground an hour later I couldn’t see the chimneys at all, and when Max said he saw them I thought he was fooling me. They weren’t far away from the parking lot, but they were hidden behind so much greenery. We parked and walked over and took some pictures. It took us a couple of seconds to see the angle I’d read about; one of the towers is leaning at the same angle as the tower of Pisa! I was glad to see a swingset and a playground, so the boys (and I) got to exercise after all that sitting, and before all that sitting, too. I’m so thankful and amazed that we get to live this life. It’s awe inspiring to see God’s handiwork all over the country. I’m glad we have so much time to just bask in his glory, and not have to rush around seeing and doing. I do feel rushed a bit when I think of only 1.5 more years, but standing there in front of those chimneys was calming.

After the boys played a bit, and another boy came over to play a minute or two we loaded back up in the truck for home. Google said 2:08 to get home, and it was right. We ran through the drive-through because Max didn’t feel like the peanut M&M’s and nutty bars I had packed would hold him. Heh. He had a quarter cheese, and Jack and I split a quarter cheese and large fry. We stopped at a scenic overlook and took a photo. Beauty.

Max stayed up late; he and I both went to bed around 11:30. Jack was already asleep in the middle of the bed with his feet on their pillows. Silly boy.