Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pioneer Day Celebration

We had such a busy day slated for today that we had to wake up the children this morning so we could get started. I hate waking children up but we had to do it anyway. Benjamin had claimed a spot in our bed—horizontally, of course, with his head resting on Daddy's arm (and his feet poised to be kicking my back/head/stomach/whatever).

Fortunately, our first activity of the day was a pioneer breakfast so we just woke the kids up, got them dressed, and loaded them into the van. Cutting out breakfast probably cut out a good 50% (or more) of our morning routine. The breakfast itself was a little sparse, but that's probably our fault because we were stuck getting our faces painted...and then making corn husk dolls...before we actually made it to the food table.

Rachel bravely joined her friend Eliza at the face painting booth, while Miriam (and Eliza's little brother/Miriam's friend Grant) cowered off to the side. Because face painting is terrifying.

Here's Rachel, with a sunshine on her cheek, putting the finishing touches on her cornhusk doll:

And here's Miriam finishing up hers:

I don't know who did the lettering for the signs at all the stations but they did a fabulous job. The signs were beautiful:

Breakfast was pancakes and sausages (all the fruit was gone by the time we got up there). We ate on the back steps (because all the tables and chairs were gone by the time we got up there, too).

The activity was at the institute building, which used to be one of our meeting houses, though it's since been renovated and no longer has a chapel inside. Andrew's family attended church at this building when they lived in Durham back in the day. He said it was much like he remembered it, though the big rocks in the yard seemed a lot smaller to him than he remembered them being, but that's because he's much bigger than he was twenty years ago. Our children thought the rocks were plenty big.

It was trying to get a picture with all three kids looking. Benjamin wouldn't cooperate so Rachel turned his head manually. He did not appreciate that very much.

After breakfast, Miriam decided she was going to get her face painted once and for all. She'd seen that Grant had been talked into getting a dinosaur painted on his hand and decided that if he was brave enough to do it, she could be brave enough to do it. We stood in the line, which was much longer than it had been first thing in the morning, while she fretted about everything. By the time we'd gotten to the front she had set her mind on getting a princess painted on her cheek. Unfortunately since the station was run by untrained volunteers, the repertoire was rather limited.

"I don't know if I can do a princess," Miriam was told. "Why don't you pick a different picture from here."

Miriam was handed a print out with a bunch of little pictures on it.

"I just need a princess," she said in a squeaky voice.

"The crown looks good," I said. "That's like a princess."

"And what colour would you like the crown?" our artist asked.

"I just need a princess," Miriam squeaked again. She was in no condition to be answering questions.

"Her favourite colour is pink," I informed our artist.

I might've come off as a little controlling but Miriam had taken forever to psych herself up for this and wasn't emotionally prepared to be bombarded with questions. If there hadn't been a long line of children behind her I might've let her take her time answering, but there was a long line of children behind her so we had to move things along. And she was so proud of herself for getting it done.

Meanwhile Andrew and Rachel were making their way around the other stations. They played a buffalo chip tossing game, had a watermelon seed spitting contest, and were over at the ring toss by the time we caught up to them.

Rachel was a great tosser and even managed to catch the ring a couple of times.

We had a lot of fun doing sack races!

Even though the activity was mostly for children, I couldn't resist having a couple sack races with Rachel:

Here are a few more pictures from Andrew's cell phone (since I didn't post enough already):

The stick pull was our last station. Rachel beat Miriam over and over again.

So she was pretty confident in her stick-pulling ability when Andrew challenged her to a pull.

But she lost. Big time.

She lost over and over again and had a great time doing it.

Benjamin just enjoyed the grass while I silenced my worries about all creeping things (ticks and spiders and snakes and such) for the sake of exploration.

There were eight stations in total and we got a little map to keep track of where we'd been, earning a sticker for each location. They had face painting, buffalo hide stories (writing pictograms on brown paper), corn husk dolls, stick pull, buffalo chip toss (they looked so authentic but I'm told they were just spray painted foam), sack races, ring toss (and other colonial games), and watermelon seed spitting. It was practically a carnival!

Since the institute building (nee church meetinghouse, nee country club) has a huge lawn there was plenty of room to spread out all these activities, so it didn't feel too crowded at all. I think everyone had a lot of fun.

Before we left we took a few nostalgia pictures (for Andrew and his family):

Hooray for pioneers! We had so much fun that we didn't even miss having Pioneer Day being a state-sanctioned holiday.

Since we were at UNC anyway, we decided to visit the planetarium again. This time we went to the physics presentation at the science stage. While we were waiting we enjoyed the little gallery in the visitor's center...

...and Benjamin perfected his stair-climbing skills. Since we don't have stairs at home he likes to take the opportunity to practice whenever he can. He does great in the up direction. We're still working on getting back down.

The show itself was entertaining. There were so many fun demonstrations. This one with the balloon on a bed of nails had everyone nervous. It did eventually pop, but only after we removed 900 (of the 1000) nails and added a 14-pound bowling ball on top of the three textbooks. The anticipation of the pop was, of course, much worse than the actual popping.

We shot off a rocket balloon, watched a ring launcher, learned about suction and centripetal force, and reviewed Newton's laws of motion.

Using an energy ball to demonstrate how humans can complete a circuit

When we got home, Rachel put her corn husk doll up on the shelf.

"I'm putting this as a decoration," she declared.

"Alright; just stay it there," I said.

My girls misuse the words put and stay all the time (so now Andrew and I do it, too...ironically).

Anyone want to come dust my shelves for me?

The girls wanted me to document their face paint before they washed it off. After putting their cornhusk dolls in safe places, washing that darn face paint off had the highest priority.

I had a vision about how this picture would be and when I compare my vision with the actual outcome, I just have to giggle. I thought they'd get nose-to-nose and smile in each other's eyes while they showed off their cheeks. It was going to be cute and they'd both be happy about it. Instead Rachel refused to even bend her knees and kept backing her face away from Miriam, scrunching her face farther and farther back into her neck. Miriam, meanwhile, was trying to compensate by standing on her tiptoes and pushing more and more against Rachel. I suppose they were just putting to use one of Newton's laws: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The look on Miriam's face is one that tells me exactly how lame she thought this idea was.

Here's a nice shot of Rachel's face:

We also went to the library and went grocery shopping. It was a pretty busy day. 


  1. What an awesome day! And I loved the pictures of our old church stomping grounds.

  2. Looks super fun, and you are right those signs are gorgeous!!!!