Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!

 This is my mom.  She came over earlier this week to teach me Sewing 101 and help me make make a cloak for Monkeyman's Jedi costume.  

  While we were working, Monkeyman was pretty wound up ('Cause Grandma was here!) and I came up with a great way to keep him occupied.  When he picked up a pair of tweezers and asked me how they worked, I showed him how to hold them and had him pick up a crumb off the table... then I had a "lightbulb over my head" moment and quickly grabbed a handful of rice and a bowl, and told him to practice picking up the grains of rice and putting them into the bowl.  He was focused so intently on this that it kept him busy until we were finished!  I am definitely going to try letting him do this sometime when I am reading to him and see if it helps his attention span last longer.

 Ta-da!  Monkeyman is modeling his finished cape with the rest of his costume.

 And here are my boys about to go trick-or-treating!  It had rained all day but the sun came out right before T-or-T started, so we got to go after all.  Little Bug did a couple houses and was over it pretty quickly, but Monkeyman had a blast.

Adorable I am, yes?

One of my favorite things about Halloween is checking out all of the other creative costumes out there when we are Trick-or-Treating.  This year's best were:  the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, a girl who was a basket of laundry, a group of kids who were three gorillas and a banana, and this little girl who was wearing the most beautiful handmade owl costume.  It was amazing.  

I do have one thing to vent about though.  May I just say that if my boys happened to be girls instead, they would absolutely NOT be allowed to wear slutty costumes, which seems to be the trend for the past few years now.  What is up with that?  I mean, self-expression is one thing, but why send the message that exposing maximum amounts of skin (in freezing October, no less!) is cool?  Girls - there's SO much more to you than that!  This is something I would most certainly put my foot down about - and it's not like I'm some kind of religious fundamentalist like the parents in Footloose - I'm not religious at all!  Yet an Uber-Catholic friend of mine posted a picture of his very young (6th or 7th grade?) daughter in a slutty skeleton costume.  Really?!?  I just find it completely baffling.  If you can think of it, there is a slutty version of it out there.  Last night we saw a slutty Freddy Krueger.  On an adult I would actually find that funny... but on a middle schooler?  Yeah, all that socialization is doing such great things for them.

Ok, rant's over.  Happy Halloween everyone!  I hope a fun and safe holiday is had by all!  :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thank You, Jim Henson!

Just wanted to share the results of our puppet making project, inspired by the Jim Henson video I posted awhile back:

As you can see, it was a great success!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hey! Someone Nominated Me for a Blog Award! Then Someone Else Gave Me An Award Too!

It has just been brought to my attention that I was nominated for a Homeschool Misfit Blog Award. I have no idea who nominated me, but whoever you are - THANK YOU! I've never been nominated for anything before and you totally made my day! If anyone would like to vote for my blog, you can do so here. It's in category #5:
"The Blabber Blog Award- "MOM, you put THAT photo/story on your blog?" This one's for the blogger who isn't afraid to embarrass her family for the sake of blog fodder."
The link will take you to the listing page and you can check out all of the nominees. I'm looking forward to being up waaaay past my bedtime tonight reading all of them! BTW, if you find one you like better, I swear my feelings will not be hurt if you don't vote for me. I'm just psyched that I get to put the snazzy "nominee" button on my sidebar! Oh yeah - voting is open until Nov. 3, 2011. Thanks again, kind person who nominated me!

WHOA! As I was about to post the above, I was informed by the fabulous MamaTea of The Hmm...schooling Mom that she has given me an award also!

The rules for this award are:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you and link back up with them.
  • Tell Readers 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this award onto 15 newly discovered bloggers and let them know.

Thank you MamaTea!

7 things about me:

1. I am the only girl I have met (so far) who loves math.
2. I love taking long aimless drives, getting myself lost, and finding my way back home. It's amazing how many places there are really close to home that you've never seen before.
3. I also love driving through cemeteries. I'm fascinated by the artwork and sculptures on gravestones, and always wonder about the lives of people who lived and died long before me.
4. I love every kind of music except Country. (sorry Country music lovers!)
5. I have never ever smoked pot or done any kind of drug. I find that this puts me in a very small minority.
6. I have a fairly huge telescope that my stepdad & I built from plans we got on the internet. (Hmm, I should do a post about that one of these days!)
7. I've always wanted to travel overseas... to be someplace very far from home and totally foreign to me. I'd especially love to see Italy. My ultimate dream vacation, however, would be a cruise to Alaska, watching the Northern Lights.

And here are 15 delicious blogs (some more newly discovered than others) for you to devour. I'm not sure if they are supposed to be homeschooling blogs; most of these are, but a few are just general parenting blogs and still totally worth the read.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning In the Middle of the Night

Late last night, we had a pretty loud thunderstorm. As Monkeyman has developed a moderate fear of thunderstorms, he immediately came running and crawled in bed with me.  (Bug slept through the whole thing without a peep.) So we laid there in the dark, snuggled closely, and had a long whispered conversation about how lightning and thunder work, and how the light travels faster than the sound. To illustrate I began counting one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand and so on, from the flash until the arrival of the boom, to estimate how far away the storm was from us. About 15 miles was the fairly consistent result, and that seemed to help calm his fears a bit. A few minutes later we were still whispering and even giggling, and a few minutes after that... he drifted off to sleep.

There is something so lovely about being someone who is needed by a child for comfort, where just your physical presence and the sound of your voice close beside him can reassure him and make him feel safe. Of course, that same thought is also a little terrifying, because then you think - who would be there for him like this, if something were to happen to me? Becoming a parent makes you value yourself in a whole new way, and you acquire a self-protectiveness that you didn't previously have. But you quickly shove those thoughts far back in your mind and focus on the joy of the present moment where the world seems to consist only of the two of you in your little cocoon.

That is, until your poor husband comes in wanting to go to bed, and finds the boy sprawled across his spot. Sorry you were stuck on the couch last night, dear!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hale Farm and Village, Bath, Ohio - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our field trip to Hale Farm and Village. (If you haven't read it yet, Part 1 is here.)

The blacksmith's workshop. Monkeyman & I both found this stop particularly fascinating.

I liked this sign at the entrance...

He is making an S-hook, which was used to hang pots over the fire for cooking. You could use a chain of several S-hooks to hang the pot lower and closer to the fire, or just one hook to hang it up higher away from the fire, when you just wanted to keep the food warm. This was their only way of temperature control in their cooking.

Putting the decorative twist in the S-hook.

Here he's showing the "before" and "after" states of a kitchen spatula.

A few of the handmade tools on display.

Notice the rose and the snake. He said the snake was made out of a worn-out file.

Monkey: Oh, you're taking pictures? (Yeah, imagine that.) Take one of me, Mom!

The broom maker, demonstrating making a corn broom.

The glassworks. Although I was really looking forward to this part, I was a tiny bit disappointed that the artist was inexplicably not in period costume or character. She demonstrated making a glass rose (so it was really glass-sculpting, not glass-blowing) but didn't seem particularly enthused about it, and whipped out a cell phone right after her demonstration. One of the most interesting things I learned is that back when they used wood to fuel the furnace, the amount of wood it consumed per day was about equal in volume to the size of the huge barn we were standing in. Let me repeat that: a whole barn full of wood. Per. Day.

Adding color to the hot glass.

Forming the petals of the rose.

Some of the blown glass items made here.

The pottery.

This guy was pretty cool. He told us all about finding clay and the surprisingly long process of getting it to be of the quality needed for making pottery, and about the process of making pottery itself.

Potter's wheel. The potter kicks the bottom wheel to get it spinning, and the weight of the huge concrete slab is what keeps it going.

We learned that this is how they tell the temperature of the kiln. Each spike is made of a different kind of clay with a different melting point, so by seeing how many of the spikes melt you can gauge the temperature. He said this method has been used for thousands of years and is still used today.

This is the one-room schoolhouse. We waited a long time for the group inside to be finished so we could go in, but we all finally got tired of waiting and left to try to squeeze in a few more things before the place closed for the day.

BUT, during our long wait there, a really cool thing happened. There was a creek beside the schoolhouse, and the kids spontaneously began throwing things in from the bridge above and watching to see how far they'd drift down the creek before being hung up on an obstacle. They experimented with different kinds of leaves and sticks, and cheered each others' items on heartily. It was great fun to watch.

The Goldsmith house. Definitely the fanciest place in the village. We very quickly breezed through right before closing.

I thought this tiny bed was very cute until I realized it was in a room the size of a closet and must have been a servant's bed.

Nearby covered bridge we passed on the way home.

All in all, a great field trip. I can't believe I've lived in this area my whole life and had never visited this fascinating place before. Monkeyman & I both really enjoyed it. Plus as we were walking between buildings, he had lots of fun running and playing with the kids in our group, and I enjoyed talking to some of the moms whose faces have become familiar to me now. So we both got a healthy dose of socialization too. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hale Farm and Village, Bath, Ohio - Part 1

On Friday we went on a field trip with our homeschool group to Hale Farm and Village. It's a really cool "living history" museum, where the volunteers dress in period clothes and act in character as people of the times. There is the original main homestead, plus many other saved historical buildings that were acquired from other locations, dismantled and then brought here and reassembled, so there is a whole village with various homesteads and shops where there are people demonstrating different skills and trades. We were there for five hours and still didn't quite see everything, and we will definitely be going back again. I took way too many pictures, so I am splitting this post into two. Looking back through my photos, it looks like the place was deserted - but it definitely wasn't! I would hang back at the end of the group and take pics as we were leaving a spot - I was trying to be conscious of not taking pics of others' kids because I don't feel comfortable posting them online, just as I wouldn't be comfortable with someone else posting pics of my kids online without my knowledge or permission. Monkeyman's favorite part was getting to try some of the machines - the corncob machine which stripped the kernels from the cobs, and the apple crushing machine for making cider. Both were worked by a hand crank, and the kids got to take turns doing it; I have a few pics but there was no way to take them without other kids being in the shot so I won't be posting them here for that reason.

I just loved this metal tree sculpture on the wall of the Welcome Center as we walked in. This photo does a good job of capturing Monkeyman's boundless energy! I wasn't sure how well his attention span would hold up for the field trip but I was quite pleased with how well he did. We always recite the rules in the car on the way: 1. No running away / stay where Mom can see you, 2. Listen to Mom and don't argue, 3. No bad words (read this to see why we added that rule), and 4. Be quiet and patient when a "teacher" is talking and don't interrupt.

This is the Hale Homestead. We actually didn't make it inside the main house - we ran out of time seeing everything else! We'll definitely hit it on our next trip there.

It was a perfectly beautiful fall day. There was supposed to be a chance of rain but the weather held up quite nicely for us. I just thought this was a really pretty spot.

This is the first building we went into. It's a log home that was built in 1805 and was lived in by a family with 9 children (!!!). It was originally located in Akron, Ohio. I think this was my favorite building on the farm - I love its beauty and simplicity, and it's kind of a dream of mine to spend time living in a cabin like this someday. Not permanently, but it would be lovely to spend, say, a year living in a cabin in the wilderness to get an appreciation of what *real* life was like before all of the artificial distractions we have today.

This was the volunteer inside that house. She told us about what life was like for the family who lived there - their meals, their work, their lifestyle. There was much emphasis on how the kids all had duties and were expected to help out as soon as they were big enough to walk. One funny way she illustrated this was to point out the chamber pot under the bed in the corner - it was the youngest child's job to clean it out every morning!

This is the second house we went into. It was built in 1845 and was originally located in Twinsburg, Ohio.

I really admired the beautiful stonework. Can you imagine taking apart this puzzle and putting it back together again?

Inside this house we learned about dairy products, specifically the process involved in making butter.

Several of the houses had this intricate stenciling on the walls, and I was really struck by how consistent and perfect it was in all of them. It looked like it could have been printed by a machine but it was done by hand.

Monkeyman testing out the kid-sized rocking chair and finding it to his liking.

Checking out the well pump.

This farmer was in the barn and told us all about how people managed their livestock. Again, the children were key in helping with this work. Here he is feeding John, the bull, who apparently failed "ox training" and is now just a pet. This is also where the aforementioned corn machine was located and demonstrated.

This is the view from around front of the house and barn.

Looking down the lane towards the rest of the village.

If I were a churchgoing type of person, I must say this would be my type of church. It was so beautiful, simple, light and airy - I just loved the brightness and plainness of it, and complete lack of gaudy ornamentation.

This is really the only decoration of any kind in the room.

The house on the left is where we met the doctor. (The house on the right was closed.)

The doctor told us all about what kind of medical treatment was available in the 1800's. Especially interesting to Monkey was hearing about bloodletting and the use of leaches. Oh, and the scary looking saw on the floor - yikes! Notice more of that stenciling on the walls here.

Okay, that's it for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 which includes the blacksmith's shop, the pottery shed, the glassworks, and more!