Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wally and Eve

My youngest has been cultivating two little seedlings, which started out about 3 inches tall, for over a year now.  He has named them Wally and Eve, and he checks on them and waters them a few times each week.  He was concerned about leaving them out in the snow, but after reassurances that they like the snow, he decided that they looked happy.  We read the Little House book series a couple of years ago, and I remembered Pa using the snow as fertilizer in one of the books.  We found an article about the benefits of snow's nitrogen content here.  Snow is called "the poor man's fertilizer."  So Wally and Eve should do okay for the winter, and when they get a little bigger, they will take up permanent residence in our yard.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Christmas

This year, inspired by the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the boys made a log cabin "gingerbread" house.  They used cookie icing, which get hard when it dries and sticks like glue to hold it all together.  The logs are pretzel rods and the roof is made from gingerbread flavored graham crackers (it smells wonderful!)  We found a chocolate Santa that looks like a gnome and a peppermint tree to add a finishing touch.  The wreath is a gummy lifesaver wreath from our advent calendar.  We have used gingerbread house "kits" in past years.  This one was more challenging and required more engineering, but I think the boys did a great job!

I have been collecting old glass ornaments--some from my grandparents' and some found at the thrift store.  I was thrilled to find a box of Shiny Brites at The Salvation Army Store for 50 cents last summer!  They are still in the box, and I love the front of the box as much as what's inside.  I found a wire locker basket in the closet organizer section at Target for around $5, strung it with lights, and put my Shiny Brites on display on the hearth. 

These little houses are made using scrapbook supplies and photos peeking out the windows.  When you open the front door, you can see Santa.  Some Schleich deer have moved in too!

This is our "Festivus" tree--an old display rack, another thrift store bargain, strung with lights and decorated with various scrappy projects During the rest of the year, it serves as a display for photos and seasonal decorations.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eggs-traordinary Science?

Another mom in our homeschool group shared that "today is the only day of the year you can balance an egg on its end because of the Winter Solstice."  I was able to balance this egg pretty easily, but all my searches on the internet for an explanation have called this a myth.  I guess we'll try to balance the egg in a week and see if it still works.  My kids have all picked the egg up to make sure it isn't glued or something, and we've been able to balance it back each time.  We've also tried a couple of other eggs and all have balanced as well.  It's been standing on my counter for a while.  If the cats don't knock it over, we're going to see if it lasts all night.

Christmas Crunch: Just One More Thing

Today -- trying to escape the feeling of "just one more thing." 

Just one more thing to play, buy, clean, make, do,etc. 

Today -- I'm focusing on enjoying the moment and soaking it all in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nature Journal: A Bird's Eye View

On our way to visit Santa, we saw this hawk on the ground beside the road and turned around to get a closer look. It was HUGE! and was holding some kind of critter down with its feet. We watched it for a minute and drove on to turn back around. When we came back, it flew up onto the telephone pole. Its wing-span was amazing. What a treat to get to see such a magnificent bird up close. We thought it looked a lot like Buckbeak in Harry Potter! Later on, the boys talked more about the hawk than about their visit to Santa.

All the details will be carefully documented in their nature journals, which are getting quite full. It'll be time for fresh journals for the new year.

We have used everything from spiral bound sketchbooks, Moleskine notebooks, to homemade field journals for our nature documentation. The boys keep smaller sketchbooks in their field bags and have more complete journals for at-home documenting. They mainly use colored pencils and draw their findings, but we have begun including more photographs (since the boys have gotten their own cameras) which makes the pages bulky. We may construct our own journals this time and use loose leaf binders to house them.

Here are some free printables of different types of pages for constructing your own notebooks. These would be nice to intersperse between several blank pages of cardstock.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap: Still Learning about the USA!

The Great American Postcard Swap is still ongoing, and we just received our Rhode Island postcard. Our homeschool group recently held a USA Fair where kids signed up to study a state and create a project board and presentation on what they learned. We all also brought food from the states we studied to share for lunch. My boys had fun learning about Texas and  how to cook chili, and they did a great job speaking in front of the group. 

I took photos of some of the display boards:

We were able to get free travel brochures from the Texas Department of Tourism to cut apart and use for the display board, and my oldest included a press release he found on Rick Riordin's website since he is from San Antonio (and is one of his favorite authors),







New York

North Carolina



The kids did such a good job putting together their displays, and we learned some cool facts about some of the states we've gotten postcards from in the GAPS as well as some that we haven't learned about yet. Trying out different foods was fun too!

Follow all of our Great American Postcard Swap posts here!