Friday, July 4, 2008

America the Delicious

Possibly because of the big build-up to Independence Day, possibly in anticipation of our summer trip to California at the end of the month, or possibly because the girls are growing up to be big nerds like me and they just like stuff, but for the past week, along with snails, dinosaurs, magic, fossils, and tap-dancing, the girls have been obsessed with maps. I found the web site Megamaps, which has these free, printable maps of the world and the continents and the countries and the states of the US, and I printed off an 8x8--yes, a 64-PAGE!!--map of the United States for the girls. I taped it together for them, and it stayed in the smack-middle of the living room floor for several days (Hey! Walk AROUND America, would you?) until both little people agreed it was finished, and then we hung it on these IKEA picture-hanger-thingies (well, I started to hang it on the thingies, and then I accidentally knocked a big hole in the wall, so Matt had to actually do it, but that makes a "we," right? Anyway, IKEA sucks) in the basement playroom that I'm almost finished painting after about two months, and anyway, it looks like this: You can't really tell in this picture, but we did a lot of discussing of the way in which maps use symbols to represent real things in the world, so along with the general coloring and pasting pretty things, I showed the girls where on the map our families live, and they glued hearts, and they glued flowers where friends live, and stars where we've visited together as a family, and then we cut relevant photos out of old National Geographic and out-of-date schoolbooks to glue on places. Children's geography textbooks from the 1950s SUCKED! It was all about the different industries in the country, so I'm all, "Look, an auto manufacturing plant! Go glue that onto Michigan. It's the one above Indiana with the heart for Grandma Shoemaker. No, the other heart. Okay, good, but that's Arkansas there, with the picture of the cotton field. Look higher." Etc. Here's our Indiana, but you can see Chicago and southern Michigan and Lexington, Kentucky, too:

Here's good old Arklahoma:And here's busy California, where most of Matt's family lives: Of course all this map work should have its happy outlet in the excitement of the Independence Day parade, right? Yay, America! Eh. Here's what we were doing at 10:00 this morning:
Yep, Clue #8,684,933 that we love our kids.Although this was apparently a good moment for me:


And so what did we do this afternoon, after walking home from the parade and hanging up our soaking clothes and taking hot baths? We made another freakin' map, the craaaaziest yet!


Does it even look like the United States? Matt was supposed to be in charge of forming the dough, but he had to be excused because he is generally incapable of handling messy family activities without, you know, screaming at the kids. So he had to go clean the bedroom, and I had to utilize my rough three-dimensional visualization skills. But I think it looks pretty great. We've got icing water and grass, chocolate chip mountain ranges, a sour strip Mississippi River, gummy compass points, etc. And, of course, gummy fish and worms and frogs and fruit and mini M&Ms ("They represent the PEOPLE, Momma!").

Here's a close-up of the Northeast. Notice the big mounds of flour that Willow kept dumping on the map--"It makes things not sticky!" Um, yes, sweetie, but when I told you that I was talking about your HANDS. There's supposed to be coconut up north for snow, but it toasted in the oven.

You can't know you've had a good time unless you're feeling a little sick, right?Ugh. Wish me luck--I'm about to go inform the girls that I have a bootleg stash of firecrackers hidden away in the linen closet. Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans.

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