Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring and other updates

First off - if you previously read the previous post and notice it's different now it's because I didn't have my story straight. Go figure.

Secondly, the rocks have finished their second grind. We are taking a break of blessed and beautiful silence. Matt thought he had gone deaf when he walked in on Tuesday to the absence of noise. I may run the third grind in the garage. The kids are studying the rocks while they are between grinds. They seem to get a kick out of comparing them in color and texture. Some of them are turning out to be rather pretty.

And third, HAPPY SPRING! This is one of my very favorite days of the year and although it's taken longer this year than usual, I am now fully fired up about gardening this year and have been trying to catch up on my catalog-consulting, veggie-craving, seed-ordering binge that really should have taken place before now... but at least it isn't too late yet!!

Here are some pictures of some of the kids' last snowy adventures a few weeks ago:Cymbre and Eli unburying the sled they'd left out. Oops. Should have made better rules regarding snow toys, I guess.Allegra in her little clubhouse. She loves to hang out in there because it's just her size.
And the obligatory sling shot (pun?) because I've learned that later they'll want to know where they were... and for me the answer is pretty much always the same. If the big kids are up to something, the baby is in the sling. =) Isn't he sweet all bundled up?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stuff Kids Say

Cymbre: "Why would anyone make a building out of unpolished rocks and unsanded wood?" Cymbre asked Daddy when they parked next to a building that blew up recently and was completely reduced to rubble.

Eli: "What *else* can I dip in ketchup?" Eli asked Daddy when his fries were gone and he had "leftover" ketchup.

Allegra-ism #1: Legsleeve - as in "Can you put my legsleeves down?"

Allegra-ism #2: Toefingernails - as in "My toefingernail needs a bandaid."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Little Scott Racing

This is our first pinewood derby. Both Matt and I made and raced cars as kids and perhaps for that reason we are both pretty excited to do this with the kids.

We decided to do a girls' car and a boys' car. Cymbre and Allegra wanted to do a Nascar. So Daddy made this shape for them.

Eli first wanted a sailing ship - so I cut a boat shape from the block of wood. Then he decided he'd actually like a freighter like the SS Valley Camp that we toured on our '06 vacation. I began to make superstructures to fit this idea.

Finally he decided that what he *really* wanted was a ferry like theSS Badger. I could accomodate this last change - but no more!

Here you see the cars nearly finished. We decided to add sponsors like a real racecar - so Cymbre and I raided our Frontier sale catalog and our Children's Museum flyer for logos of "stuff we like" and decoupaged them on. This was extremely fun. We are sponsored by the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, USDA Organic, Qdoba, Yummy Earth Lollipops, Eco Friendly Products, John Ball Zoo The Frederick Meijer Gardens, The Whitecaps (baseball team), Equal Exchange, and Bob the Builder. Cymbre chose the number 62 for the car because she is 6 and Allegra is 2.

As for the SS Eli, I had a blast making tiny lifeboats and a smokestack and drawing little windows on. I think Eli got bored with the whole thing because there was so much detail work that I had to do... plus he got jealous of Cymbre's fun logo project.

Because the kids are familiar with Nascar and the teams and so forth, they decided that our cars should be part of a team, which they named "Little Scott Racing." That is the kind of thing that really melts my little heart - so I made little logos of our own that say "Little Scott Racing" and "LSR" for them. I hope the kids have had as much fun with this as I have. And I hope they go fast on race day!

Tumbling Rocks and other loud projects

As a kid, I *always* wanted a rock tumbler. So, when I saw one at a yard sale a few years ago, I scooped it up. I had no idea what using a rock tumbler would entail, so the first time I got the directions out, I was heavily dismayed to find the process would take weeks and weeks to accomplish.

Now that we are bona fide homeschoolers, though, we cannot shy away from a project just because it will take weeks and weeks... we must forge ahead because there is much to be learned!

Here, Cymbre and Eli are sorting through the rinsed rocks and putting them in the barrel for the "first grind." Once covered with the grinding medium and water, we load them into the tumbler only to discover that... rock tumbling is *really, really, really LOUD* and we have to do this for how long?

The first grind is supposed to take about 3 or 4 days. I started with the tumbler on the ledge in the dining room. The noise causes me to feel anxious and hurried. I keep expecting it to stop, like when the bread maker does its kneading cycle. But it doesn't stop. We are tumbling rocks. At my husband's wise suggestion, I move the contraption to the basement the next day. This is better but still quite noisy - and now I feel bad when I send the kids to play down there...

Finally, it's day 4 and I crack open the barrel to find, well, sludge. But I follow the instructions and fish out the rocks, now much transformed from the rather unremarkable rough rocks we started with. They are smoother and more colorful than at first. Cymbre and Eli were very excited about the changes and played with the rocks a bit, comparing them to the chart of what they should look like when we are finished...

I waited a day before diving in for the second grind. I realize that if I wait too long, I will never do it... and so last night I gathered the children and we set up the barrel for the second phase of our work. It doesn't seem as loud this time. Is it because the grinding medium is finer? Is it because the rocks are already smoothed? Is it because I accidentally added a bit too much water? Is it because the first grind left me deaf? Whatever the case, I now believe we are going to survive the two weeks required by the second grind. I'll update you then!