Monday, March 18, 2013

spring chickens

We had a brief glimpse of spring this weekend as we visited some friends in SC and helped them get set up with their new girls.  They bought 6 full-grown, but young, chickens of 4 different varieties. And my did the kids have a fabulous time with the new girls. As you can see from the photos, two of the chickens were braver than the others and didn't mind the kids picking them up, smoothing their feathers, and chasing them around the run.  Most of the other chickens stayed in the coop and out of reach for the most part. Now of course, as we're back home and a chilly rain has settled, we're dreaming of spring...and chickens of our own! Alas, a dream it might have to stay for a while as we live in a neighborhood with a HOA that lacks the chicken love.  But we can dream, and we can visit our SC friends with their beautiful chickens.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On this day, 4 years ago...

We made butter for the first time.  Finn was 2, and Philip was 6.  Aren't they so tiny and cute?! This growing-up thing is bittersweet, for sure. {sigh}

You can see the entire post here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

the solar system

A little more than a week ago, Finn's obsession with sinking ships waned, but of course, a new passion immediately followed. I can't say that I know exactly what sparked this particular fascination, but he has been reading his few planet and solar system books regularly for a few months now. I scoured Pinterest and found a few projects that I thought might capture his attention over the 4-day weekend he had at home. 

The first project that we tried came from a lesson plan site and didn't have any instruction so we made it our own. I found a cut-out template of the planets, which Finn colored and cut out, then we cut sheets of black construction paper in half and taped them together length-wise and folded our book accordion-style into a flip book. Based on his reading, Finn came up with 3 facts for each of his planets, which I typed and he taped onto his flip book. This was probably his favorite of all of the solar system projects we made.

I also found this project on Pinterest, and knowing how Finn loves any project with brads, I just gave him 3 different sized bowls to trace and a thick piece of paper and he really did the rest.

(He thought he might need to demonstrate the moon orbiting the earth and the earth orbiting the sun for you to really know how it works.)

While he slept one evening, I decided to make a felted Earth, based on this model in Rhythm of the Home, only I decided to wet felt the Earth after a small amount of needle felting.  The Earth felted firmly, but the inside layers lost some of their shape in the process.  Finn can still identify the crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core.

After spending some time with his felted Earth, Finn requested that I make him a felted Jupiter, complete with Red Spot, and make Paulie a felted Mercury.  Both of these I needle-felted, and we have yet to cut them open to see if the layers remained intact.

Finn has also immensely enjoyed spending a bit of time, in addition to his reading his planet books, on 2 different solar system iPad apps. One, geared for elementary age children, is called Montessori Solar System and the other, pictured below, is just named Solar System.

This Solar System app is just amazing and so comprehensive and interactive. It includes every named moon and dwarf planet with information about each. I'm not inclined toward purchasing many apps or letting my children spend much time on electronic devices, but both of these are solid, not over-stimulating, and very informative, almost like researching online with a bit more interaction.

I found a set of free Montessori card printables, which we made into 3-part cards.  Finn tends to get tired of the 3-part matching relatively quickly, but he will endlessly play with the cards with the names attached, comparing the planets in various books and on these cards.  He has great attention to detail!

Elizabeth also helped Finn find a placemat that one of the older kids used years ago and which now happily sits at his mealtime spot.

And that is about the entent of our solar system unit so far.  He is disinterested in branching out into stars and constellation. He adamantly wants to include Pluto in any project or discussion, to the extent of spewing vitriolic contempt at the scientists that reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet. And he's still voraciously reading and absorbing new information about the planets.  If you know of any more solar system projects dealing directly with the planets, please send them our way!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yarn Along and the story of a vintage apron

For this week's Yarn Along, I'm nearly finished with the Bitty Bump spring cardigan that I started late last week.  I had my doubts about this bulky, thick and thin yarn, but it has knit up nicely in this pattern. As for my reading, I've just started reading The Call of the Wild aloud to the kids.  We're about 3/4 of the way through the book, although I'm starting to wish I had split each chapter in half. The chapters are almost too long to read in one sitting. I have to say that I'm enjoying The Whole Story version of this book.  It's unabridged, but includes special notes, photographs, sketches and maps of the area and time period to enhance appreciation and knowledge of what is happening in the story. However, I'm not sure I would have chosen to let Finn sit in on this book had I remembered how scary and violent it is. Fortunately, much of it seems to go over his head.

I also started Finn's next pair of crazy socks.  I'm nearly finished with the first one, but I managed to leave it at my grandmother's house when we went for a visit on Monday.  I guess it is ultimately a happy exchange though since I managed to come home with the beauty below: my great, great grandmother's hand-embroidered apron.

I don't remember ever even seeing this apron before but the handwork is exquisite, perfectly even stitches with bright colors still intact.  I now need a great idea of something to do to display this lovely piece of my family's history.

The picture below is of my great, great grandparents (my paternal grandmother's paternal grandmother). My great, great grandmother's name was Delia Broyhill (of Broyhill furniture fame, her nephew started the company), and she lived from 1862 to 1948, the last several years of which she lived with my grandmother's family. She was born, lived her entire life, and died in the same small NC mountain community that my grandmother grew up in. And that's about the extent I know about her. But now I have this lovely apron as a link between her generation, her handwork and mine. It makes me want to embroider an apron to match!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

a new kind of first aid kit

Back in October while we were camping with some friends, Philip, who was helping wash dishes, reached out to move the lantern.  Unfortunately, he managed to catch the side of the lantern in his bid to grab the lantern, resulting in a minor, if painful, burn. My first thought, after making sure he was ok, was "why in the world didn't I think to bring a first aid kit?!" I had thought of everything else, long johns, wool hats, wool socks, plenty of food, extra wool blankets, and yet we had no first aid supplies save for a few bandaids squirreled away in my wallet.

Almost as soon as we arrived home, I started looking for a first aid kit, thinking that it would be good to have one in the car anyway, when I quickly realized that I was unlikely to find a first aid kit with the types of aid I'd wish to have in a minor emergency. And so I started to make my own first aid kit.

I started with a little organizer box that I found on Amazon. I wanted one that was deep enough to stand homeopathic bottles and small bottles of essential oils upright. My favorite feature about this box was the ability to adjust the size of the compartments with little sliding dividers.

Some of the items that we use most frequently at home were added to the box, Umcka Cold Care for the onset of a cold, Valerian from Herbs for Kids for kids who are having trouble winding down to sleep, Arnica gel as well as Arnica pellets for minor bumps and bruises, Gripe Water for upset tummies.

I also added Calendula Ointment for minor rashes and Burt's Bees bug bite relief for the inevitable insect bites.

Poison ivy is my most dreaded fear (well, aside from bears) when we are camping, so I found a poison ivy salve to add to our kit as well as an herbal remedy for bumps and bruises by Burt's Bees. A colloidal silver throat spray, to kill any impending sore throats, is part of our home remedy collection so I included this too.

Driving the mountain roads up to various camping spots often makes me vaguely nauseous so I included Tabacum pellets for motion sickness, as well as some homeopathic Coldcalm for the sniffles.  The essential oils I included are Tea Tree oil for general germ-killing especially in small scratches and abrasions, and Eucalyptus for stuffy noses and coughs that may develop. (And I don't necessarily recommend these particular brands.  They happened to make small quantities that fit nicely in our kit.)

I found a small container for Enzyme tablets to help any upset tummies that might occur from too many roasted marshmallows.  Along with various sizes of bandaids, gauze, and a length of elastic bandage, I feel like our kit is pretty well stocked with any needed supplies.

The best thing about having this kit is that we now have one box to grab for a day trip or even a road trip, which means no loose bottles clinking around my toiletry bag when we travel.

Have you made a similar kit for travel or even just home use?  Is there anything that is a part of your kit that I'm missing?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

spring harvesting

I hope your weekend was just as profitable...and tasty!