We are home!
Our family was in Pennsylvania for six days. Before leaving I had written some blog posts for my main blog, The Thinking Mother, and used Blogger’s new posting function to set up my blog posts to publish while I was away. That function is great, I inputted the time and date to publish the post and when that time arrives, it gets published! Presto!
Our family had never taken a trip to Pennsylvania before.
The reason for the trip was a family camping trip with the Boy Scout Troop, to visit Gettysburg. The first full day the Troop hiked. To be honest it started of horribly, as we began the hike at 2pm in 95 degree, sunny and very humid weather. It was very oppressive weather and outdoors is the last place that most people wanted to be. Our small group got lost, making the trip longer than planned. The new visitor center’s location made the hike a mile longer than it was with the data we planned the trip with, meaning we found out after we got there that the hike would be longer (in full sun walking on pavement). Before the hike was over, people ran out of water, their faces were red, everyone was soaked with sweat, it was bad to say the least and we are lucky no one had heat exhaustion. The next day was supposed to be a ten mile, six hour hike, forget that. Our family (and a number of others) backed out of it at the last minute. Instead our family did a four hour auto tour using a wonderful audio CD published by the History Channel (given to us by a friend). We heard great stories told by a very good narrator and historian while driving to the sites. We got out when we wanted to. It was ‘the way to go’ if you ask me. The camping was brutal due to heat and humidity and the noisy campground (our site was next to the flush toilets) and many campers ignored the 9pm ‘quiet time’, instead being very noisy until midnight (going to and from the bathroom, washing pots and even taking showers up to midnight). So our family bagged out of camping the third night and checked into the hotel a day earlier than planned.
So the second part of the trip was near Hershey. We spent two days at Hershey Park and it was great. My husband had been there as a child and I’d never been there before. It was a fantastic time, our kids had a ball. My eight year old was a bit young for some of the roller coasters and too old for the kiddie rides but there was still plenty for him to do. My ten year old was tall enough to go on all the rides in the park, even the scariest coaster, and a brand new coaster called Fahrenheit. By chance we happened to get the first car so we had the best seat! Hershey Park also has a huge water park included in the admission price which was a great way to cool off and have different fun than standing on line for thrill rides.
We also spent a day driving around seeing the sights and doing a little shopping, visiting a local yarn shop and trying some locally made ice cream at a farm. We tried to do some factory tours but that proved more difficult and impossible. If you ever plan to do that you should plan ahead (more than we did) and stick to a strict schedule or you will miss the tours (like we did). All the tours we tried to take were not ongoing throughout the day (unlike other tours we’ve taken in other states).
As for me, since I was the rider not the driver I got some stuff done. I read the first half of “From Crayons to Condoms: the Ugly Truth about American Public Schools” on the way home. I plan to blog that separately but for now I will say that what I do for homeschooling and what I have based the educational plan for my children on is way different than what is happening in schools today. What is going on today is light years apart and very different than what I experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. This book is a compilation of letters written by educators, students and parents about what is begin taught in public schools, including naming curriculums, books and other educational programs with short opening and closing statements by the authors. I am really shocked by what I am reading, this is a new look at what is going on that is very different than what has been said in the past by educational reformers such as John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. Concrete examples are given to illustrate vague claims and catch phrases such as “dumbed down”, “indoctrination”, “anti-Christian”, “new age”, and “self-esteem promotion”. I have not read the part yet where they outline what parents of publically schooled children can do to try to make changes in their own school systems.
Prior to reading that book, I spent every spare minute knitting. I worked on a handle in wool yarn for a bag that I plan to machine felt (full) until I ran out of yarn prematurely. I then began work on a new bag and knitted up nearly two full skeins of a new wool bag that will be machine felted (fulled). I think I have the Continental knit stitch down well and I’m making even stitches and nice rows. I need help learning the Continental purl stitch as I was not able to teach myself from the book I own while on the road. I also feel ready to do something different and more complicated. My sons are asking me to make them a knitted hat in camo colors. I want to learn to make socks. I’d like to make mittens too.
I hope to blog more about some of our educational and fun experiences in the last week in separate blog posts. I also found some great books about the Civil War at the Gettysburg visitor center’s gift shop and will blog book reviews of those in the future.