Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ho Ho Ho

Keeping busy leading into the holidays. Decided to skip the Zoo event last Saturday. Needed a day with nothing schedule, especially since Pete had to be in Provo all week :-(

Lots of stuff to take care of at home this week. Baked several dozen cookies and another apple pie (the rest of the apples will become apple sauce on Monday).

We also made animal keychains from a bead kit. Zack especially liked doing this, which was a big change from the past when he would complain about hand fatigue. It was a great activity for fine motor, design and following directions. Had to go over the directions several times with Katie before she would actually pay attention but she tuned in after she had to re-string the same strand twice over.

We also, after several days delay, made homemade clay ornaments. I mean that the clay was homemade too. Have had the recipe (corn starch and baking soda) for a very long time but never carved out a day to use it. It looks really cool when it heats up. It fizzes and bubbles then gets thick. Then it dries and looks a lot like cookie dough. I decided to dry them by placing on a cookie sheet and putting them in the oven on low. Didn't know it would be such a challenge to get them back off the cookie sheet!

We painted them up today:

Nice, huh?

There was also snow to play in, rain to slog in and a trip to a nature center for a presentation on how animals prepare for winter. The weather cooperated so it was a great day for it. Also, they didn't need all of the adults to hover and I was able to chat with some of the other parents. This is through a new HS group we've been doing things with. It's much smaller than the park group we had been attending and it's been good for all of us to see the same folks each week. There's more of a community feeling.

Have also joined a new food coop with a lot of these families. They offer bulk orders of the same stuff carried in Whole Foods, but at discounted prices. Email me if you want to know more.

Doubt I'll update this again before the holidays, so enjoy the season.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Down Under

We were able to see the show at Discovery Theatre and it was a very small crowd so all of our group got to participate in one way or another, which was nice. I was glad we went over the items in the teachers guide before we went, rather than after. Worked out better that way.

Today we went to the National Aquarium's new Australia exhibit. Pete was able to come too and we had a terrific time. It was smaller than I imagined it would be, considering how long it took to build, but it is a great exhibit. Plus, because this was a preview for members, we there were only 2 other people in there with us. We got to talk to all the docents, who pointed out that we should look up and around in addition to looking in the tanks. This was great advice, we would not have wanted to miss the large fruit bat, called a flyig fox to give you and idea of the size, hanging from the rafters! (My friend Julie is now saying to herself that SHE could easily have missed that!) There were also kookaburras and strange trees that drop seeds that look like candy corn into the water for the turtles to eat. It really was great.

The rest of the aquarium was also very empty. I'd say we saw maybe 6 other people. It's amazing how fast you can get through the whole building when no one is blocking your way!

On our way across the building we saw a man carrying a large didgeridoo, an native Australian horn-type instrument. Pete and I walked on by, but seconds later we heard the guy playing it and turned around to find Zack talking to the musician. We all thanked him for the demonstration. Kudos to Zack for stepping up to ask him. This is just what I want the kids--well, all of us really--to be doing. What better way to learn about something than from the people who love to do it?

Monday, December 05, 2005


We're going to a play at the Smithsonian Discovery Theatre tomorrow about all the winter holidays and I discovered a teacher's guide for it online. It had a good explanation of the solstice and several winter holidays such as Divali, a Hindu new year/harvest celebration; Kwaanza, an African American cultural holiday; Ramadan, Hanukkah and Christmas.

We made some Rangoli for Divali, these are decorative drawings to show the journey of the goddess and are symmetrical (Katie's has the hearts):

and Kwaanza mats, which have 7 lines for the 7 ethics the holiday celebrates and they are used to place under the candles lit for each night of the holiday (Zack's is on the left):

I think they'll get more out of the play--IF we get to see it tomorrow. It snowing fairly hard-for Virginia-and it's possible the city will shut down.

If so, we'll just have to study weather and build snow folks!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Apple pie tastes even better when you've picked the apples yourself and made the pie at home to eat warm from the oven.

A fairly academic day. Leaf raking, piling, jumping and bagging this morning. The air is chilly. Good for yard work.

Off to the computer for math and the kitchen table for story writing. I'm trying to figure out how to get the stories up on this site. They are illustrated and I want you to be able to see them for yourself. Have to give that some thought.

Then apple pie-making. However, Zack got kicked off the project for not following directions and had to pull some laundry duty instead. We all got to eat the pie when it was baked though.

A very sweet day today. All had to go to Katie's dance class and afterwards we ran over to the Dairy Godmother (formerly the Del Ray Dreamery) for Brat Night, where we ate--what else?--Bratwurst and listened to--what else?--accordion music. After dinner we couldn't resist the great frozen custard the shop is really in business to sell. Katie made an instant friend who was just as friendly as she is and likes all the same things. A match made in Heaven.

Have a sweet day yourself.