First we took a week and a few days and went on vacation as a family. We visited Grandma's house and Disneyland. We checked out the new Cars Land at California Adventure, but quickly discovered that it is geared to an older (or at least taller and braver) set of kids. The main ride - Radiator Racers - had a minimum height requirement of 40". Daddy Monkey and I managed to sneak on, and it was a super cute and very well done ride. However, it would have been way too fast for Big Monkey, who is afraid of pretty much anything more thrilling than Dumbo. We had a great time, but I think we will wait several more years before returning (in hopes that the boys will be less afraid then). We did have great success with Big Monkey meeting several characters though!
We also made a visit to the beach while we were on vacation and enjoyed making some sand angles and climbing trees.
After a brief 4 day return home to do some laundry and squeeze in some school work, the boys and I jumped on a plane and headed for Arkansas. This is where the lessons in history began!
What's in Arkansas besides a ton of trees? Well, it seems that a fair number of my extended family is located either there or Texas. The rest are scattered among about 4 other states. We attended the family reunion for my maternal grandmother's family and had a blast!
The reunion took place in a state park, and it was gorgeous. The Monkey boys spent 2 days doing pretty much nothing except playing in the dirt. They couldn't have been happier and they got to meet a great group of kids that I calculate to be about their 5th cousins maybe (is that even the right terminology??). My entire immediate family (sans Daddy Monkey who had to work) flew out for the reunion. What a lesson in family history!
There is a theme every year, and this year's was patriotism. Great Papa Monkey wore his army uniform from when we was 17 and the boys got to dress up as mini-Marines. We only had to wear costumes for about an hour, so we went all out and had fun with it.
Then we stayed with Grandma Monkey for a few extra days and explored Little Rock. We saw the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. They ride down the elevator and then "march" (run/waddle really) to the fountain in the lobby where they stay for the day. The Peabody Hotel in Memphis has this too.
Then we took the boys to the Arkansas Old State House Museum. I really thought we'd only make it 10 minutes in this place before I had bored, whining children, but see, my boys like to prove me wrong. We spent 2 hours in there! We saw a history of the Arkansas battle flag (a great introduction to how the US flag has changed over the years), the governors, and even an old legislative room complete with candle holders. Then there was an entire wing of the building about growing up in Arkansas. It was all about the history of childhood in the state including really old wooden school desks like these that the boys tried out:
Of course, Big Monkeys favorite thing was the cannon out front. Not sure he is showing his intelligence in this photo though considering he had his head practically inside the thing...
The last day we were there we walked half way across the Big Dam Bridge, which is the largest pedestrian only bridge in North America at 1,700 feet. It was peaceful and gorgeous. We even saw the fish swimming below and got to teach Big Monkey a little about how a dam works.
There are great school lessons in every day life even when on vacation! Some of which are better than what one will ever get from a text book.
Next week we are back to our normal school schedule in Mama Monkey's office/school room. We squished 3 days of school into 2 this week and worked on D is for dinosaurs (we completed C is for caterpillar the week between vacation and our Arkansas trip), and will move on to F is for fish next week. That means there might be a trip to the aquarium in store for the boys! If it's not too busy, I'll actually try to take some photos.