Piggies!

On Black Friday, Fritz and I went to do our Christmas shopping for Lola at PetSmart. I, of course, let him look at the birds and small animals while we were there and I noticed the guinea pigs were half price. So after talking about it with the kids, Ani and I went back later and came home with two little girls.

Keeping with the Greek god/dess theme we started back when we had Apollo, we named them Hera and Demeter.

These girls have made us realize that Apollo really never was well, right from the moment we got him. He was super quiet and rarely moved much. No wonder he didn’t last very long.

When we first got them, they were pretty quiet like Apollo was.

That didn’t last long, though. Now they can be kind of crazy and make us laugh a lot.

Every day Ani gives them a selection of fresh vegetables (adding fruit a couple times a week). They’ve already learned that Ani’s the one who feeds them and so as soon as they see her they get excited. By the way, Hera likes bell peppers and oranges while Demeter prefers carrots.

Every couple days we add their play yard on to their cage, spread some hay (those girls go through hay like crazy!), toys, and vegetables on the floor, and move their hideout to the play yard and let them play for a few hours. They love it. It gives them some time to get some extra exercise (in a bigger space than crawling around on us) and still have things around to eat.

Lola is a bit terrified of the guinea pigs. She really isn’t sure what to think of them. Part of her seems to want to play with them and part of her seems to just want to run away and hide. The guinea pigs, however, are not scared of Lola at all, especially not Hera.

Hopefully these girls will stay healthy and we’ll get to love on them for a long time. Side note: All of our pets are girls. We now have 4 human males and 7 human and non-human females in our house. We didn’t plan it that way. It just happens the piggies PetSmart had on Black Friday were female.

Where’s Waldo

While we were on vacation our guinea pig Apollo died. We were very sad, but not surprised. He had never been super healthy and then a friend injured him trying to pick him up and he was really never the same after that. Fritz said that he must have died because he was lonely and he cried and cried until he died.

Our original plan was to get a pair of guinea pigs to replace him. But then we started thinking about getting a different type of animal. We still wanted a small animal. Jamie’s allergic to cats and we didn’t want a dog. I checked at the Humane Society and they had a little guy that we absolutely fell in love with: Waldo!

We brought our ferret home Friday night and we have been absolutely thrilled with him. He’s a lot of fun to play with. He loves going for walks around the house on his leash. We haven’t gotten brave enough quite yet to let him run free around the house. We’re all already totally in love with our Waldo.

Download N Go: George Washington

Since we are switching to Calvert this fall, we’ve decided to do a “light” version of school for the summer. As part of that, Ani has started joining Cameron for his Download N Go lessons. Last week we learned all about George Washington.
Download N Go: George Washington

Even the guinea pig joins us for lessons sometimes.
Download N Go: George Washington

For three years we lived just a few miles from Mount Vernon, but we never went there. Now we live an hour away, but since the kids learned about George Washington, we decided it was time to take a field trip to see his house. So we went there on Saturday.

When we woke up, our 5 weeks without rain had ended. It was pouring. But the forecast was promising so we went anyway. By the time we got there at 10:30 it was only drizzling and a couple hours later the rain was gone completely. As it turned out, it was a perfect day to go because the rain kept the big crowds away, but the weather didn’t turn out too bad after all (2-3,000 instead of a typical 5-6,000 this time of year).

Download N Go: George Washington
(No pictures inside the mansion itself… they don’t allow photography in there.)

With George, Martha, and two grandchildren.
Download N Go: George Washington

We watched a really cool video. It had two screens, one flat and one rounded. When the cannons went off lights in the theater flashed and the seats rumbled. Fog filled the front of the room at certain points and it even snowed on us while they were at Valley Forge. The kids loved the snow.
Download N Go: George Washington

The education building had a room for kids about 3-8 years old. The kids got to be George, Martha, and two grandkids.
Download N Go: George Washington

They got to play with a big dollhouse made to look just like Mount Vernon.
Download N Go: George Washington

They got to see the different “faces” of George Washington.
Download N Go: George Washington

They even got to dress up like colonial people.
Download N Go: George Washington

The hands-on part of the education center had really neat dioramas.
Download N Go: George Washington

We went down to the farm after we finished at the education center.
Download N Go: George Washington

They have a really nice round barn there.
Download N Go: George Washington

There are lots of animals including sheep, oxen, hogs, and mules.
Download N Go: George Washington

Once we finished at Mount Vernon, we went to the gristmill and distillery just a few miles away. Those were two of George Washington’s money-making ventures (he was an excellent businessman).

Right outside the gristmill are two millstones. They were never used for grinding grain, however. The furrows are too deep for that. They were used to grind seashells to be used for roads. The pattern of the furrows is the same as on the wheat grinding stones.
Download N Go: George Washington

It’s amazing how the water wheel in the gristmill automated the whole process of grinding grain over 200 years ago. We got to watch the whole process from grinding to cooling to sorting (bran, coarse, fine).
Download N Go: George Washington

The distillery is very interesting too. The gristmill was rebuilt in the 1930s by the state of VA. The distillery is much newer. They didn’t even start the archaeology research on the site until the late 90s. They knew it was there in the 1930s, but, of course, it would have been distasteful in the time of prohibition to advertise that our first president made (and sold as a wholesaler) common whiskey.
Download N Go: George Washington

I wasn’t sure it would be worth the price to go to Mount Vernon ($51 for all of us and the little boys are still free), but as it turned out, it was totally worth it. If you live in the northern VA area or are visiting it’s definitely worth visiting (and go to the gristmill and distillery – it costs a little more than Mount Vernon proper alone – because those are absolutely fascinating!).