Wednesday, February 29, 2012

birthday girl

Sylvia turned 5 this week.  This bright-eyed little imp has enriched my life in so many ways.  She is full of sweetness and spunk, curiosity and imagination.  She is talkative and engaging, loves to dance, swing and roller skate, as well as climb trees, tie knots, and get messy. 

On her birthday, we visited a toy store at the mall. Sylvia picked out a sparkly make-up kit, and a Curious George craft kit. She is that kind of girl :)  Then, we met friends at the children's museum.

We enjoyed ice cream cones at the children's museum, and later, a dinner with more friends at a buffet-style restaurant.  If my camera battery hadn't died, you would be able to see the enormous ice cream sundae that her sister and friends prepared for her :).  It was a fun day with a fun-loving girl, and now we can look forward to the weekend, when we get to celebrate with grandparents and cousins at an indoor waterpark.  Yippeee!

Monday, February 27, 2012

science things to make and do

Sylvia and I have been finding inspiration in The Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do.  There are over 50 activities in this book, and I'll share with you our three favorite from the last couple of days.  
 1.  The bubbling wizard's brew uses your standard vinegar and baking soda reaction with the addition of soap, food coloring, and glitter.
 We filled two cups half full of clear vinegar, added food coloring, a dash of dish soap, and a sprinkling of glitter, and stirred.  Sylvia added a tablespoon of baking soda to each and we watched the reaction.

 Ayla kept stirring hers and we noticed that it did not foam up nearly so much.  We talked about why that might be (the gasses releasing instead of being trapped in the bubbles).

2.  Sylvia and Ayla also enjoyed the floating ball game.  We made small funnels out of thick paper and taped them to the end of bendy straws.  We crumpled tinfoil into small balls, and used the power of our breath to send each ball into the air.  Then we played around with the amount of force that we put into each breath.  With just the right amount of steady air pressure, we could keep the tinfoil ball in the air for a couple of seconds.

3.  The dangly monkeys started out more like a craft project than a science project.  I drew a monkey shape on thick paper with curved arms and tail, making sure that the limbs hooked around so that the monkeys could hang on a seesaw.  Camille helped me trace and cut them out and Sylvia decorated them with markers, pens, and stickers.
 We used two pipe cleaners twisted together and hung on a string at the midpoint for our 'seesaw'.
 Then, it was all about balance.  We talked about how it affected the seesaw to hang the monkeys nearer or farther from the pivot point in the middle.  We experimented with three on one side, and two on the other, or hanging one monkey on another monkey, etc.

 If the girls hadn't wanted to do the crafty part of this, I would have just drawn 'snakes' with a curvy tail for the balancing play.

This book in general leans more towards crafty, than straight-up science, which is right up Sylvia's alley these days.  Being unschoolers, I don't plan out lessons for anyone to complete, but I love it when we can make stuff, learn stuff, and have fun all at the same time.  Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

This post is linked over at the Homeschool Coop: Tuesday Tutorials ~ Science
and Natural Suburbia: Creative Friday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mama ~ out and about ~ part 2

In celebration of a dear friend's birthday, (and because i'm so swanky :), I attended a wine and chocolate tasting at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  It was titled Indulgence, and it was indeed.  There was of course wine (and mead and liquers) and chocolate (and caramels, toffee, truffles, and other confections) all made by local artisans.  I leaned much more towards the chocolates than the wine because that is my preference, but I did not taste a single thing that wasn't at least moderately good, and many of the confections were closer to divine.
 These pretties were made with a tinted cocoa butter transfer.

The conservatory was romantically lit with a small band playing on the upper level.

It was a lovely evening of friendship and sweetness.  

...And now back to our regularly scheduled program of family togetherness....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mama ~ out and about

I rarely go anywhere without a little girl, or two, ... or three, but this morning I headed out the door Alone to learn how to brew kombucha at Echo Valley Farm.  I drove the 20 or so miles of winding, hilly, country roads, arrived, let myself in the gate, parked, and was greeted by heritage-breed turkeys, and my kind hostess, Lauren.
 She took me on a golf-cart tour of the sustainably-built buildings, gardens, orchard, animal housings, and to the spring to get our water.

 Watercress was growing in the fresh, icy-cold, spring water.

 Back inside, we got down to the business of making kombucha.  Lauren brews kombucha in 5-gallon batches.

 She took the scobies out of the brew.  Each 'mother' scoby produces another one when a batch of kombucha is fermented.

We steeped a combination of grated ginger, and organic green and black teas.  Then we added raw cane sugar, which is what feeds the fermentation process.  I brought this home in my one-gallon glass jar to add the scoby and some starter kombucha when it cooled.  In a few days/weeks depending on storage temperature, my 1-gallon batch of kombucha should be finished fermenting and ready to drink.  Kombucha is a lightly-fizzy, moderately tart drink, filled with beneficial health properties.  I am grateful to Lauren, and the kind folks at Echo Valley for getting me started with my own brew.

On the peaceful drive home, I snapped a few pictures of the countryside.

I look forward to visiting Echo Valley Farm again sometime, ... with my girls, ... maybe to learn, and get my hands dirty, with cob-style building methods :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

amidst the chaos

The only thing worse than having the flu yourself, is watching your littlest one struggle through it.  OK, yeah, there are worse things, but you know what I mean.  And actually I think Ayla is handling it with more grace than I did. Now I'm hoping that it bypasses the rest of the family.

We are also in the process of getting all of our little i's dotted and t's crossed so that we can close on the house and property by the end of next month.  It's been 9 months since we moved out of the city and started renting this property, and we are 100% ready to commit.  Oh yeah, this solar-heated, partially-finished, project-home on a bit of organic farmland with fruit trees and gorgeous views is our HOME.  It is just the right kind of crazy for us.

But amidst house projects and negotiations, sickness, and all, life still has sparks of beauty and creativity.
  Sylvia made me some fresh orange juice

 Sylvia and Ayla planted a tray with six different kinds of microgreens

 This led to... 
this (Camille)
and this (Sylvia).  One of the perks of an unfinished house is indoor chalk-drawing space.

 On the one day that no one was actually vomiting, we got outside briefly for some fresh air.

 And we played around with static electricity.  If you stick balloons to the wall after rubbing them on a shirt (or hair), they 'walk' down the wall as the charge wears off.

So yeah, the house is a bigger mess than usual and it's frozen burritos for dinner, but we are surviving and moving forward, even amidst some chaos.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

a fine Saturday

 I woke up this morning to coffee in bed, and Camille taping together graph paper to draw a large fibonacci spiral.  I knew then that it was going to be a good day ... and I was not disappointed.
Whenever Ayla sees the camera, (which you know is pretty often) she gives me this face and demands a 'picca'.  Which I have yet to resist.

  There was a living room ball with a fairy princess bride and an elven queen.  It was requested that I hide the camera behind a pink velvet cloak so as not to spoil the mood, so I became royalty too, you know.
 We drove into a nearby small town hardware store with kiddos decked out in a pink velvet cloak, polka dot leg warmers, and a flowery hand knit sweater.  Not a few gruff-looking farmer-types smiled to themselves when the girls paraded past.  This made me smile to myself, as they could have just as easily scoffed at the wild hippie family invading their countryside.

Back at the homestead, Papa, Ayla, and I (and of course puppy-energy, Carly) trekked the valley below our house, while the older girls stayed in to weave their fantasies and play board games.

A little of this, a little of that, sisters bonding beautifully and playing together in peace and cooperation.  Everyone able to enjoy where they are at.  A day to be appreciated and savored, because of course, it does not always go that way.