Friday, September 23, 2016

Field Trip Down South

Today Rivendell took a field trip down to Montpelier, the home of James Madison, and also to UVa.  A few weeks ago I started having panic attacks about how to deal with all the little kids, since we were doing separate tours for high school/junior high, and the younger kids at both places, and I really wanted to be with Luke on the admission tour at UVa.  So Bob generously volunteered to take leave and stay home with Micah, Drew, and Verity.  That was *such* a blessing.  There were quite a few times during the day where I said, "I can't even imagine dealing with the littles right now too."  It was so much nicer without having to worry about them, because I am sure they would have been miserable!

One reason was because we left the house at 7:15.  It was a beautiful drive, but everyone else in our car missed out because they were fast asleep.  We made good time and were actually the first ones at Montpelier.  This literally never happens, and I'm sure it wouldn't have happened if Micah, Drew, and Verity had been there!

We split up into 2 groups immediately and went our separate ways.
This was the only time we saw the older kids.  The view from Montpelier was so beautiful and relaxing!  I would have loved to sit on a rocking chair on that front porch for awhile!
Our guide took us down to a room used as a kitchen for James Madison's mother, who lived here with them, using some rooms on one side of the house as her "apartment".  There were just chairs in the room, and the guide passed out bags of costume stuff, plus a card for each person to read, telling about the person they were supposed to be.  Faith, here, was Dolley Madison, which was a source of great envy and consternation for Anna.  Faith got to wear a little turban, gloves, and a necklace, while Anna had to wear a big white shirt, because she was "Paul Jennings", James Madison's personal servant.  You would not believe the amount of huffing and dirty glares at Faith!  I told her in a fierce whisper that she was showing such an ugly, jealous heart, and that she needed to just read her card and get over herself.  Thankfully she did, but it was touch and go.  Grace was carrying on about her tennis shoes because apparently no tennis shoe on earth can be remotely comfortable for her delicate feet, so she spent most of the tour walking on her tiptoes, with just her toes actually *in* the shoes.  This was one of those points where I was glad not to be dealing with Micah, Drew, and Verity, lol.

The other characters were James Madison's parents, his teacher at boarding school, Thomas Jefferson, and his college friend.  It was actually a very interesting exercise, and a good way to engage the kids.  I think they all learned quite a bit.  After the dressing up part, we toured the rest of the house, which was interesting.  I was again struck by how incredibly well-educated our founding fathers were.  When I hear Democrats talking about how to Constitution should be an evolving document, or words to the effect that they could improve on it, I can't think how anyone now possibly thinks they understand history, logic, etc. well enough to change a single thing.  Really amazing.

The kids impressed the guide by reciting the preamble to the Constitution for our guide when she asked what the purpose of the Constitution was.  I was very glad that our memory work applied!  There were also several things we saw in the house that really fit in with the book that Anna and Grace are reading for their lit class called Diary of an Early American Boy.  It is from a slightly earlier time period, but some of the objects mentioned in it were in Montpelier, so it was fun to see those.
After our tour, we walked over to see the Temple, which is part of an archaeological dig right now.  Under the Temple is the ice house, and the guide said Madison built the temple on top of it so he could sit there and feel the cool breeze coming up from the ice.  Today would have been a lovely day for that.  The weather really was beautiful, but it got hot, walking around in the sun!  That was another time I was glad not to be carting the littles around.  They would probably not have done well on the tour and been kicked out to the "kids getaway" room down in the cellar.
On our way back to the visitors center, we walked through the formal gardens.  There weren't a lot of flowers blooming now, but it was really pretty.  There were some shady parts with benches, which also seemed like really nice places to spend a hot day.  There was a sundial in the middle of the garden, and it accurately showed the time as noon.
After we got back, we had a picnic lunch, just in time because everyone was "starving".  Miraculously they all revived, and we hopped back in the car to drive 45 minutes to UVa.  Emily arranged 2 tours for us, a historical tour for the younger kids, and an admissions tour for the high school guys.  They both started at 2:00, and we thought we would have plenty of time, but then we couldn't actually get to the parking garage in the middle of campus that admissions recommended we park at.  So we had to turn around and go to a different one a few blocks away.  This took up more time, so we had to really hoof it back to the Rotunda, where the tours started.  Again, I was so happy to not be trying to walk fast with crabby toddlers!  

Luke, Caleb, and I went on the admissions tour.  Our guide was really good, sharing a lot of his personal experiences.  He seemed like a real grounded, solid young man, so he left a good impression of the school.  I will say though--I do not like the campus as much as VT's.  It just seemed claustrophobic, with all these narrow paths crowded with people, and a ton of different levels.  Everything was up stairs, across a path, down some more stairs into a courtyard, up some more stairs, etc.  I was pretty disoriented.  But the university itself seems like a good one, lol.  Luke liked it a lot, any how.  He said he could definitely see himself there.  We've just got to finish up the applications.  I need to send in my part--hopefully next week.
We ended our tour at the room that was Edgar Allen Poe's while he was at UVa.  He was only there 10 months as a student.  The high school lit kids just finished a unit on Poe's short stories, so this was a very fitting place to get their picture taken.
Then we reconvened at the bookstore, walked to the Rotunda for more pictures, and finally headed back to the parking garage.  We were so glad for air conditioning and some water!  We quickly drained our water bottles, so we stopped at Chick-FIl-A for dinner.  We got home at 7:35, dropped off Caleb and Luke, and the headed over to Bible study because we were bringing dessert.  Such a long day!

Bob had a fun day too.  He and the kids went to Petsmart to get a few more fish for our fish tank.  Then they took a picnic lunch over to River Bend Park, where they also went on a hike to Great Falls.  Micah, Drew, and Verity had great fun--but Bob ended up carrying both Verity and Drew a lot of the way back to the car!  We should all sleep well tonight!

1 comment:

Becky Juett Miller said...

Sounds really fun.