Thursday, May 27, 2010
D and J made some lovely clay creations at the MFA this month. They toured the ancient Egypt exhibit and saw sculptures, jewelry, and objects found in tombs and even saw a mummified head. I'm always amazed that art, jewelry, sculpture, and yes, even heads, can survive for such an incredibly long time. It's amazing. It makes me wonder what we will leave behind for people to discover thousands of years from now. Sadly, I'm guessing it will mostly be plastic. After touring the Egypt galleries and exhibits the children made their own creations. J made a cat, inspired by some of the Egyptian sculptures she had seen, and of course her love of our new kitten, Lewis. D made a . . . tank. What, you didn't know the ancient Egyptians actually invented the tank? It's true. In their spare time, after they were done with those silly pyramids and sphyxes and all that nonsense, they moved on to tank warfare.
I'm actually not sure where the tank idea came from, but at least he had fun, and came up with an original idea.
We finished our study of geology this week. During our past few science sessions we have created models to show how sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks form. We've used the Flip 4 Science Geology kit for our geology study and I have been most impressed with it. It outlines three levels of inquiry for learning, over six different levels. Students can either try all six lessons at the first level, or cover each lesson at all three different levels, thus learning more each time. We chose do study each lesson at the first (directed inquiry) level and had a great overview of rocks, minerals, and the rock cycle. The kit includes rock and mineral samples to explore as well as all the items needed for the experiments. As D likes to say, rocks rock!
Monday, May 24, 2010
I have been dreaming about baking pistachio cupcakes ever since I recently saw them on a friend's blog. She has all sorts of yummy recipes posted and I just had to try this one. I frosted them with a honey cream cheese frosting, which was a bit heavy for the light, airy cupcake, I think next time I will try her pomegranate icing instead. yum. Here is a link to her blog, but I must warn you - you might find yourself baking uncontrollably, or salivating at the very least if you read it.
(as usual, blogger will not let me insert a link - as usual, i can't figure out why. when my tech-savvy engineer husband can't figure it out, i raise the white flag while yelling "damn you blogger! damn you!)
but you can cut and paste http://greenroommag.com/spoonful/ to read her blog.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
On Friday we took the T into Boston and toured the Freedom Trail with our HS friends. The Freedom Trail is a walking tour to up to 16 sites that were made famous during the Revolutionary War and during the days of unrest leading up to the war. We saw the State House, the gravesites of Paul Revere and John Hancock, the site of the Boston Massacre, and learned some fascinating nuggets of historical info from our guide, who was dressed in period costume and assumed the role of Sheriff Wright, a sherrif who lived in Colonial Boston during the war. D's favorite part was examining the musket and musket ball that Sheriff Wright brought along. I've attached some of our favorite pics, but for privacy reason I never post photos of other people's children on our website. This makes it tricky to add photos taken during field trips! But D and I snapped some good shots of downtown Boston and the graveyard to share. We ended the day with fried clams, Indian food, and gelato from Quincy Market. Did you know that Faneuil Hall used to be part of Boston Harbor and that it was later backfilled to create more land in the city? This is fascinating to me - first off, why would you fill in a harbor? And how did they do it? Can you imagine the ammount of work it would take to do this pre-industrial revolution? I feel a reasearch project in the making...
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I don't know why, but I have a desire to bake all sorts of goodies lately. Today we baked homemade bread. I recently bought the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the sequel to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and yesterday we made our first batch of whole wheat dough. My three helpers measured flour, which gets a bit messy when you have a toddler who insists on measuring things herself, whisked eggs and watched the dough rise, checking on it every so often to see how much bigger it had become. D even mentioned to J that the reason we could mix the water and oil together is that we added eggs, which act as an emulsifier. I was glad to see that he remembered some of our chemistry from earlier this year!
My next baking project this week will be some cupcakes that I have been dreaming about since I saw them on a friend's blog. Can't wait.
Today was 80 degrees and so very beautiful. We grabbed our books, towels, and yummies and spent the day at the beach swimming (D even dunked!), playing wiffle ball, and searching for treasures. D found a big crab and spotted some piping plovers, endanged birds that nest here during the spring. It was blissful :)
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Perhaps it is that Persephone has returned to the land of the living, perhaps it is that spring brings out the creativity in all of us, or perhaps we are just burnt out with 'formal' schoolwork - but whatever it may be, we have had a very laid back, artistic week. We've been baking and cooking up a storm, writing, decorating, and doing lots of art. Yesterday the kids and I cut azaleas and rondodendron blossoms from our plants outside and decorated a wreath for our front door. D and J worked together to decide which colors and pattern to use, and worked patiently with K to help her add her own flowers too. It looks quite lovely hanging on our front door, despite the cold, rainy weather that feels very much like a New England spring and reminds us all that summer is just around the corner.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Last Wednesday was Italian culture day (not officially, just here at our house). We read Strega Nona by Tomie DePaula, and I Vivaldi by Janice Shefelmas, as well as books about Italian culture and the people of Italy. We listened to some Verdi, and when that got a bit heavy for the kids we switched to Vivaldi and listened to The Four Seasons. D was outraged that Vivaldi chose to write Summer in a minor key. Why, he demanded, would someone write about the best season of the year in such a despondent and tragic sounding key? Hmmmm... something to ponder.
We also looked at some art of the Italian Renaissance in our Art Up Close book, which I absolutely love but haven't spent nearly enough reading with the kids. We looked at the Mona Lisa, and Primavera by Botticelli.
The best part of the day, however, was spent making homemade (from scratch!) pasta. When we spent our first Christmas together, DG told me of childhood Christmas' past when his mom and aunts would spend hours making homemade ravioli. He used to love helping with this tradition as a wee tyke. After we were married I bought a pasta machine, complete with fancy ravioli attachment, envisioning the creation of our own Christmas pasta-making memories. Six years later it was still sitting in the box, collecting dust in the basement - until Wednesday, that is, when we dusted off the machine, assembled it ourselves sans directions, and put her to long-overdue use.
We thoroughly enjoyed rolling the dough through the pasta machine, watching it come out a bit thinner each time. I cut the dough into strips by hand, because I couldn't figure out how to attach the linguine cutter. But I must say (pat on the back) it was delicious. We rounded out the meal with a garden salad and a nice chianti, which we devoured sitting outside in our olive garden, overlooking the Italian riviera...okay just fantasizing about everything from the chianti on, but we did finish the meal with some yummy gelato from Whole Foods.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
It is May 10 and 45 degrees today. Ah, New England weather - it was 90 degrees a month ago and today we needed mittens. We went on a hike with our homeschooling friends at a beautiful sanctuary maintained by the Audubon Society. We saw geese, red-wing black birds, chickadees and some new birds we are excited to discover in our bird field guide. It was absolutely freezing and we really didn't dress for near blizzard (slight exaggeration - but only slight) conditions, so the girls and I spent some time in a little observation house overlooking the pond while D ran ahead with his friends. We watched some turtles sunbathing and watched a family of geese swimming and eating grass for quite some time. The goose-watching was only partly voluntary as the feathery family set up camp in the middle of the path, preventing any hope of escape. Any time we came within about six feet of the goslings mama and papa geese assumed angry, rabid goose attitude and prevented us from getting near them for fear of acquiring goose rabies. We finally opted to traipse through waist-deep grass instead, thus risking acquiring Lyme Disease. Ah, nature. But it was nice to watch the fluffy little goslings - like our very own Make Way for Ducklings.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
D performed in our HS group's production of Romeo and Juliet. He played Lord Capulet and had a wonderful time on stage.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The big news here at our house is that (drum roll please) we adopted a kitten! There are no words to describe how happy this makes me and my children - I will simply let the pictures speak for themselves. But I must say that little Lewis has been the one ray of light for us in an otherwise terrible and dark month. I've always been a cat (and dog, horse, turtle, fish, wounded bird, mouse that survived being fed to a neighbor's snake and was covertly rescued by a 10 year old me until it bit my finger ... but I digress) person, but I have a special connection with Lewis. On nights when want to cry myself to sleep over the loss of my brother Lewis is there, snuggling up under my chin and purring like crazy, and he makes me smile.
I first saw a picture of Lewis on Facebook that was posted by a friend from high school who fosters animals. (I must further digress and say that I have so much admiration for anyone who helps animals, especially my two Cathies/Kathys). She posted photos of a young mama cat with her three babies, one of whom looks exactly like my old cat, Phaedra. I was pretty much sold at that point. Despite DG's prior reluctance to bringing another animal, let alone a cat into the family, he pretty much melted like butter on a 90 degree day when he saw Lewis' picture and they are now fast friends. Lewis especially enjoys climbing up DG's leg, just to remind him how sharp his claws are and who the man of the house is.
In addition to being quite the lover, Lewis is also a feisty boy who plays with D, J, and K goodheartedly and tolerates their relentless ministrations. They play with him whenever they get the chance, and scoop him up onto their laps when he is sleepy and they want to read or watch a movie. Our 6 year old pug, Sophie, however trembles with fear whenever Lewis is within view. She is absolutely terrified of this 3 lb. bundle of black and white fur. It doesn't help that Lewis channels his inner lion whenever Sophie so much as looks at him, and that he views Sophie as his target for pouncing practice. I think it's simply that he knows he is little, and he's trying to establish some respect and hierarchy since he knows that Sophie could pretty much sit on him and end his brief life beneath her impressive behind if she so chose. Nonetheless, I'm giving Sophie lots of extra cuddle time just to be sure she is still feeling the love.
Wow, I have written so very much about my pets. More than I have about my children in quite some time...hmmmmmm.