The Battle of the Alamo

Battle of the Alamo ScenarioWe did this a week or two ago, but I hadn’t downloaded the pictures and my friend I did this with has anxiously been watching for this to be posted, so here it is:
To start go to Junior General and look up their Alamo scenario.  From there you can print off their figures, or you can use the massive number of ones you have.  Or maybe that’s just me.  With 3 men in my house who love to act out battles, and one or two others in the house who have at least a cough cough mild cough cough interest………..  There’s a lot.

Battle of the Alamo defenders
In our version the Mexicans had about 65 soldiers divided into 7 groups.  Each group had a lieutenant who was in charge of moral (that determines if they can move forward).

The seventh group was held in reserve and didn’t have a cannon.  The first 6 groups did.
I won’t go into big detail about how each round went because the scenario did a good job of doing that on the site.  Our modifications:  Each figure could move 6 hexes if they were able to move, and there were 30 Texans at the Alamo (that is not the right proportions).
Battle of the Alamo Texans winning?

At first things looked good for the Texans.  They had several successful canon shots, and they were able to take down most of the Mexican lieutenants.  But, then both sides were out of canon fire, several of their canons had been destroyed and there was a breach in their walls.

Battle of the Alamo Texans losing?
But then, the Mexicans were able to start scaling the walls and the sheer numbers started to overwhelm the Texans.

If the enemies are able to fire 6 shots for every one you are able to fire it does not bode well for you.
(This shot is actually from earlier in the scenario, but it does have one of the kids playing the Mexicans looking mighty pleased with herself)
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And then their heroes died.  Davy Crockett, Colonel William Travis, Jim Bowie.  One by one each of the heroes died to Mexican bullets.

The boys lost it.  They couldn’t handle the heroes they had fought with dying.  Which led to a great lesson.

We talked about how the Texans must have felt when they heard the Alamo had fallen and how only a few survivors escaped.  No quarter was given to wounded or sick.  This was a huge mistake on the part of Santanna because it becamse a rallying cry for all Texans.

At the final battle of the Texas the Texans yelled “Remember the Alamo!”  That cry led them to victory.  It’s amazing how much morale can be changed by a small thing.  Martyrs are a powerful thing.

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Local legends

Do you ever investigate or look into local legends?  We have a local newspaper that does a semi-regular feature about local legends, heroes, villians, and the like.  I’ve found out about the guy that the street in front of my house is named after and things like that.

 

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Well, this past week we went to Hutto, a small town near us and while we were there we had to pose at the famous Hutto Hippo.

 

Here’s where local legend comes into play.

 

There are several versions of how hippos came to be the town mascot.  I mean you don’t tend to think of hippos when you’re talking about central Texas.

 

The “official” version, or the one I usually hear goes like this:

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Once a train stopped in town to reload and get water and such stuff.  Well, a circus was part of that train and they took the opportunity to water and feed their animals, and suddenly a cry went up, “The hippo has escaped!  The hippo escaped!”  (Now, I’m picturing this with crayon drawings, aren’t you?  Maybe like kid stick figures.)

 

Well, there was a frantic scramble, and the railroad station is suddenly sending a telegraph up and down line to Taylor and Round Rock to “stop all trains, there’s a hippo loose in Hutto.”  Of course there was some doubt on the other end, but they stopped the trains.

 

007Eventually the hippo was found in a local stream, up to its hocks in mud and quite happy.  After several hours of enticing the thing, it finally waddled out and back onto the train.

 

That’s the story I usually heard, but when I was asked by my in-laws how the mascot came to be and I looked it up to confirm I also found:

 

1.  Back in the early 1900s (same time period as the first story) their football team would take the field and being big burly ranch boys the other team took one look at them and said, “We can’t play them, they’re as huge as hippos!”

 

2.  The final one is that Hutto didn’t have jerseys and they went onto the field wearing feed sacks, and the opposing coach said they “looked like hippos in those uniforms.”  The Hutto players decided to make it a badge of honor.

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I don’t know which story is the real one, but I think the circus one makes for the best story.  They really take pride in their hippos, you’ll see people with a hippo statue in their front yard, most businesses have one somewhere.  You can even buy your own hippo statue from the chamber of commerce.  If Jeff didn’t think I was crazy I’d be kinda tempted to get on, that and it’d be disloyal to our “round rock”….  round rock just isn’t as amusing a story.  Well it is, but it was like the fourth or fifth name choice the first few were taken.

 

 

Oh and as a side point, don’t you feel sorry for those girls?  The Lady Hippos?  I kinda do, but if you’re smart, you really don’t want to mess with a hippo, they are deadly.

Science Sunday: Armadillo

Science Sunday

Earlier this week Jeff told me he saw an armadillo as he was leaving for work wandering around our yard.  I was pretty excited, because armadillos are common to our area, but you rarely see them alive.

 

Armadillos have poor eyesight and their instinct when scared is to freeze and then jump up into the air very high to scare the predator.  That does not go well when the predator is a car, and they usually don’t survive………

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So, you can imagine I was pretty excited when I saw one outside the next morning.  I got all the kids outside and we watch him run around and reviewed what we knew of armadillos.

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Armadillos are nocturnal, that means they usually come out at night.  They can’t see very well, but can smell very well.  The bad eyesight was reinforced when we heard him bump into several things in the bushes.

 

 

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Armadillos like to dig A LOT.  We looked at the holes in the ground he had dug last night, which you can see behind him.  I asked the kids why they dig, what are they trying to get, and they answered “bugs,” and they were right.  Armadillos eat primarily grubs and insects in the ground. 

 

When I asked how they dig, they said they have claws on their front feet like Mac (our dog) does.  He can dig tunnels like Mac tries to also.

 

One thing that surprised me was how noisy he was on the sidewalk.  His claws are so long in front that they clicked rather loudly in the morning air.

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And of course Batman had to pretend to be an armadillo and move just like the armadillo did…….  It was great.

Schiltterbahn!

I was super lucky to go to Schlitterbahn twice this summer, so do I get to check it off my list twice?

Our first time was Schlitterbahn Galveston way back in May, but I packed them very well and they got all lost amongst the luggage.

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For this one Jeff had a horrid sunburn, as did my brother.  The kids all heartily approved of Schlitterbahn Galveston.

 

And of course Uncle Sean had to be silly.  You wouldn’t believe the pictures I have of that boy over the years……..

 

 

And then for my birthday we got to go to the original Schiltterbahn.  The original Schlitterbahn, the one I’ve been going to since I was in junior high.  Best birthday ever!  Okay, I might have said that almost every year, but it’s always true.

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I wonder if I could live at Schlitterbahn?

 

I’m super excited because they’re supposed to be opening one here in Austin, how cool is that?

History: Exploring a World War 2 Sub

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First we explored a World War 2 Destroyer, one of two still in existence.  For the most part it’s not that intriguing except the galley, can you imagine cooking for 220 people in here?  I bet they were always cooking.  Nonstop.  And imagine the dishes…..

 

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The other intriguing thing was the bathrooms, and the sign about the bathrooms.  The kids were rather intrigued by the complete lack of privacy.  We pointed it out to the boys and then had to very quickly back pedal because Batman joked about going potty there…….

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But, the submarine was the fascinating part.  Because space is such a premium almost every space doubled as something else.  So, 10 people slept in the same room as the torpedo room.  I kept trying to figure out how you slept with all of the excitement going on.  They also frequently “hot bunked,” which meant when you were on duty someone else was sleeping in your bunk.

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And here again is the galley.  I was just intrigued by the places they had to cook in.  Probably because I spend so much time cooking.  There were two different cooks, a day shift and a night shift.  The night shift was responsible for baking all of the bread, deserts, a midnight snack, and an early breakfast.

 

 

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And after all of that hard work of walking around seeing these old ships.  Actually I found out the destroyer was a ship, and the sub is a boat.  I don’t really understand the difference.  But, you need to go to sleep with your brand new “Explorer pack” knife firmly clutched in your hands to keep your brother and sister safe from any danger they might encounter…….

History: Rennaissance Festival

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What would a year in our family be without Rennaissance Festival pictures?  And the cool stuff we learned there?  And the kids as always were super excited to sleep in a hotel.  I’m not quite sure why that’s so exciting.

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Or course, there’s the non-historical just fun stuff like carousel rides.  I don’t know what the boys did while we rode, but Princess and I had a blast on the carousel.  Or she did, I had to stand, because she said she needed me next to her.

 

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We learned about pan pipes and how they make music (which is also a science lesson), and how people used to use those for their music.

I came so close to buying one for them….

 

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There was much discussion about knights and how they dressed and what their armor was.

 

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Superman hunted all over and finally found a store that had cuddly toys.  He got to stuff a dragon at a store very like Build-a-Bear.

 

 

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Princess got a gryphon pet, or a bird.  It really depends on how she’s feeling for what she calls it.  She was so excited by it and thought it was the cooolest thing until Superman got a cuddly pet, then she wasn’t so excited by it.  But, it’s okay Mommy has a gryphon pet too, and she likes that her gryphon pet is my gryphon’s baby.

 

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Batman chose an ax as his item this year.  Yes, we let him get it because we really needed more trips to the ER.  We had a very long talk about how and when to use it.  And so far he’s obeyed the rules.  It was fun to watch him madly swinging and fighting the invisible foes.  Especially amusing as we listened to “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” on the way down, and had just heard the chapter with the dufflepods and their being invisible.

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My favorite part of the year was getting to see a demonstration of spinning, weaving, and carding.  It was fascinating, to me, not so much to everyone else.  But Jeff nicely herded them away and showed them something dangerous, like the smithy.  Or, maybe he just distracted them and kept Batman from hitting anyone with his ax.

 

All in all, it was a fun day of learning and game playing, and dressing up.  I personally found it amusing that Superman decided to wear his trooper shirt and say he was a knight, Batman wore his cowboy vest, knight shirt, and Santa hat and declared himself a pirate.

 

Oh and walking in a skirt designed for a hoop skirt without one is a little tricky.  I forgot my hoop skirt, and that was a slight problem by the end of the day………..

 

Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn for more fun Geography and History posts.

Fort Stockton, Texas

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Our last day of the trip, while they were fixing my glasses, we went to Fort Stockton.  Jeff and I had lots of fun.  The kids were mildly interested.    Actually they were rather interested in the idea of chaining up prisoners and had a lot of fun investigating the chains, but had to be cautioned about swinging them around.

And then we went over the visitor center/museum and the kids took over my camera.
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And was taken away after that last shot where they were piling on top of each other.  Yeah……  That wasn’t so cool.
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I tried to get what was going to be a really cool picture of the kids next to the soldier and his horse, but that didn’t quite work out.  They were too busy hugging the soldier.  However after talking about it for a while they could point out some of the soldier’s gear.  And then we had to put the soldier’s hand back on him.

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While I grimaced and thought the kids were so horrible the lady working there said my kids were doing excellent, and so many parents had to leave with their kids because they couldn’t sit still through the movie or other problems.  So, I felt a little better.

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I love visiting some of the less frequented areas.  The lieutenant there kept a detailed journal that had all sorts of amusing tidbits about life at the fort.  It was interesting to me they chose not to have a wall around the fort because you could see anyone coming for miles.    He also wrote a humorous story about his kids playing on a horse until the horse got tired of it all and ran off.  Leaving the poor kids in the dirt.

Oh, and I learned something from this.  I’d always heard the term buffalo soldiers and thought it was generic to the soldiers fighting out West.  But, instead it referred to the freed slaves turned soldiers because their hair reminded the Indians of the buffalo’s hair.  The fort had a lot of really interesting information about the Buffalo Soldiers.  So, I’d give Fort Stockton a big thumbs up.  Besides, they gave my kids a real cool pin for visiting.

I found my lap top, and am busy copying over files, so hopefully tonight I’ll be able to write up those other posts………  We’ll see.  3 loads of laundry down, it took the people at the car wash over 5 hours to get our carpets clean, but WOW is it clean!