Friday, March 11, 2016

Busy Days

As always seems to be the case, when life gets busy, blogging is one of the things that tends to not happen. . . which means that, when I have time to blog, I don't have much to blog about and when I have lots to blog about, I don't have time to blog . . . sigh . . . 

Here's at least a brief summary of our recent adventures . . . 

A couple weeks ago we spent a day at Franklin Institute (a museum in Philadelphia). Their special exhibit was on Egypt. One of the hands-on exhibits was trying to put "pottery shards" together into a bowl or vase. It was pretty cool, the "pottery shards" were magnetic and the form that they were supposed to put the "shards" on was also magnetic. Lexie and Ashlyn worked on it for quite awhile. I have to say, I was rather annoyed at the employee/volunteer in that area, we're not talking about toddlers here, they're almost 13, old enough to figure it out by trial and error but she kept telling them if they put a piece in the wrong spot or putting a piece in for them. URGH!!! But they enjoyed it despite the unwanted help. Little Bit "helped" Lexie a little, but pretty quickly moved on to other parts of the exhibit.
Like riding the camel. What's fun is we have pictures of Lexie & Ashlyn riding the same camel (or a very similar one) at a the COSI museum in Ohio when they were a few months younger than Little Bit is now (see them here).  How fun is that? 
Little Bit also loved being able to walk through Franklin Institute's giant heart (you get to be the "blood" and follow the path blood takes through the heart). And they had another exhibit that was supposed to be traveling through all the connections in the brain, but was basically just a big climbing thing for kids. She didn't like that there were flashing lights in an otherwise rather dark room, but once she got over that, she did it several times while her sisters read the other exhibits in that area in more detail.

Another favorite was an electricity exhibit. Fitting at the Franklin Institute huh? Though as one of the big girls pointed out, it's rather ironic that Ben Franklin gets so much credit for being the "Father of Electricity" when he was actually doing an incredibly STUPID thing by flying a kite, with a metal key on it, in a lightening storm. One of the exhibits had a metal ball that transmitted low voltage electricity to you when you touched it. You were then SUPPOSED to touch various other things in the exhibit (like a "windmill" looking thing and I don't remember what else) and transmit the electricity to it so that it would move. That didn't actually work well, but the girls discovered they could do some pretty impressing "shocking" of one another while one of them touched the ball. 

Another day recently, Lexie went on a baking spree. . . the night before, while watching a BBC series on life in Victorian England, she announced that she was making baked custard for breakfast. Which she did. The flavor was rather bland. I'm not sure if it was the recipe she used, or if our vanilla extract is old enough to not be as potent as most. But otherwise we all (well, except Daddy, but he doesn't like anything sweet, so we didn't expect him to like it) liked it ok. 

While searching for the custard recipe, she apparently came across a lemon curd recipe, because when breakfast was over she asked if she could make lemon curd. Our "history" that day was an audiobook, so we turned the volume up a bit and she made the lemon curd while listening to history. Once it was done, her sisters asked what she was going to use it for, so she decided to make scones to eat the lemon curd on. They turned out great, as did the lemon curd, and made for a yummy "lunch"! She made a half pint of lemon curd and I think it lasted slightly over 24 hours before it had all been eaten . . . once the scones were gone, the girls ate it on bread, so it was a big hit! 
Little Bit is enjoying her new "school" set up. And it's doing a pretty good job of achieving it's purpose of forcing me to actually get stuff together for her to do. One of her Bible stories was the wall of Jericho, so that week's activity was building "Jericho" out of toothpicks and marshmallows. It's hard to see because of the pattern on the table cloth, but she had fun building it.  
And then marching around it 7 times before tearing it down (and, of course, eating (some of) the marshmallows)!!
Lexie joined her in building a marshmallow/toothpick city, but her's was much more elaborate and after it was done, she didn't want to tear it down (and so, 2 weeks later, it continues to act as our centerpiece LOL). 
I discovered a homeschool/unschool facebook group that plan various field trips and get togethers and everyone just joins in on the ones that work for them. Perfect for us! Last week we went to a Maple Sugaring demonstration at a park. It was very well done. The teacher did a great job of keeping it simple enough for the preschoolers in the group, but explaining things in enough detail that the big girls and I found it interesting as well. The kids got to taste sap dripping straight from the tree, and learned about the various ways that trees have been tapped, going back to the way the Native Americans did it before Europeans were here, to the modern methods used now. Then she showed them how the sap is cooked down into syrup and finally cooked down even more into maple sugar. And everyone got to taste a little piece of the maple sugar. Very interesting, and well done! 

 This week we joined the group for another field trip. This one was at a wildlife conservation area only about 10 min from our house! I didn't even know it was there, will definitely be going back for nature walks and such regularly! Every year the snow geese "rest" on the lake there during their migration. So this week there were thousands (literally) of snow geese on the lake! One of the dads in the group is an avid birder and had the day off, so he brought his super fancy binocular-thingy and led the group, pointing out any birds he saw, including a blue heron rookery that he'd discovered (it was way far away, only visible through his binocular-thingy, and sooo cool!). He was great at answering questions and explaining things and did I mention THOUSANDS of geese . . . it was very impressive!

The weather this week has been amazing! Up into the 70s, sunny . . . heavenly! So instead of our normal weekly co-op, we all met at a park. Some of the swings were high enough for the big girls and moms to be able to swing without dragging their feet, so we had fun with that.

 And Ashlyn was pretty proud of herself when the baby, who was much too interested in everything going on around her to actually, willingly, take a nap, finally fell asleep while Ashlyn was holding her.

One of my reasons for setting things up in this house with the litter boxes in the garage, and a cat door between the house & the garage, besides the obvious (keeping the mess out of the house), was so that, when the weather is nice, I can open the garage door a little bit and hte cats can come and go as they please. So we've been doing that this week. Overall it's worked well, but I discovered an unexpected down side when we got home the other day and I walked into the laundry room and discovered a dead mole laying on the floor. My first thought, not thinking about the fact that I'd left the garage door open  enough for the cats to get in and out, was that they'd caught it IN the house, but then I realized that it's much more likely that one of the cats caught it and brought us a present, sigh . . . I guess as long as they deliver their presents to the laundry room and not, say my bedroom, AND that all presents are thoroughly dead, I can live with it, but EWWWWWWWWW!!!!

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