Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to read a book and see the country

Frommer's National Parks with Kids (Park Guides)This summer we will take our most ambitious road trip ever, traveling through nine states in three-and-a-half weeks -- California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Arizona!

Between trip planning and trying to get this house organized for our housesitters, these last weeks before summer are zipping by. In the meantime, I'm trying not to be terrified devouring travel guides and reading to the boys about all the places we'll visit.

We'll be staying near the end of the Oregon Trail for the weekend of my cousin's wedding, so I picked up a few books about the journey, and I'm looking at the video game. (Anyone played it?) We'll be so busy enjoying our family that weekend, I'm not sure how much sightseeing we'll get in, but I definitely want to take them to Multnomah Falls.

Larry Gets Lost in SeattleAfter Portland, we'll visit my old college buddies and their kiddos in Seattle and traipse around trying to find Larry. And then it's across the water to the San Juan Islands to visit more friends and just enjoy the green.

We'll hit several national parks on our journey, including Yellowstone. We've been reading about how the wolves disappeared from the park, and what happened when they returned. (Awesome example of the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and how every part of it is important.)

And because we'll be visiting my mother-in-law in South Dakota for the first time ever, we're also reading up on the presidents of Mount Rushmore:
I've also reserved spots for the boys at a paleontology dig simulation at the nearby Mammoth Site Museum, in Hot Springs, SD. That should be a filthy blast!

Then it's down to dinosaur country, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Whew!

Even if you won't be selling your soul to the oil companies braving the highway this summer, you can still take a road trip to the library and enjoy the scenery of a good book! We also read How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A -- in case you need an excuse to bake.

The Home School Mom site has an awesome collection of facts and links for all 50 states. I especially like the Teachers First state pages.  We might use the maps and other graphics for scrapbooking our trip when we get home, or for printing and perusing while on the road.

And no, I haven't yet added up the hours we'll spend in the car...!!

What are your plans for the summer?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A magical birthday party

For Harry Potter fans...

My incredibly creative friend Becky hosted an HP-themed party for her middle daughter's 8th birthday last weekend. The kids made licorice wands, sugar quills, gorged on Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and mixed their own drinkable Potions...

Happy 8th birthday, sweetheart!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I want these books.

Oh, oh, oh! Who wants to buy me these vintage science books?! No, it's not my birthday. Yes, I'm risking that you'll buy them for yourself by sharing that link! No, I won't blame you if you do.  ;)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A chick is hatched.

On Sunday we visited our friends up the mountain, and happened to be there at just the right moment.

They were incubating eggs from their own chickens, and one little egg was exactly 21 days old. Peck, peck, peck, we heard...

A little while later, the chick had pecked all around the top of her shell, and pushed her head out...

The kids were excited to see her hatch, and waited patiently as the chick slowly rolled out of her shell, and stretched up onto her feet...

Congrats to the proud papa and mamas...

...and older siblings...

After another 24 hours in the incubator, the new chick can be moved into the nursery with the other newborns...

And when she has her feathers, it's out into the wide, wide world!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I want this on a bumpersticker.

"It is interesting that some modern feminists have described the stay-at-home mom or homemaker as caught in a life of boredom, subjugation and sad mediocrity. But true feminine ambition focused on the training of future leaders who fully understand and can accomplish their missions is the greatest challenge and opportunity of our time or any time.
It is not enough to train up one’s own children. The true mother must also train and properly raise the whole community in which her children grow up, looking ahead three or four generations and acting accordingly. This is not a government village raising the child, but a mother raising her own children, her future sons and daughters-in-law, and communities of great and good leaders who will ensure the liberty of her grandchildren. Not, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' but, 'It takes a mother to raise a village.'"
--Oliver and Rachel DeMille, "Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning"
It takes a mother to raise a village. Don't you want that on a bumpersticker, too?!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eggshell Geodes: The Longest Science Experiment Ever.

Where, or where, have my bloggy posts gone?

Poor neglected blog. And what excuse have I? Too busy out conquering the world? Ministering to the needy? Hardly. Unless you count three growing boys with bottomless tummies. A little reading, a little research, a little homeschooling, a little housekeeping, a lot of planning. But I'll have to share that in another post.

First, we have our Eggshell Geodes to record! This is not an experiment for those who need immediate gratification. But if you're looking for a lesson to teach patience, it's perfect.

The idea is to make saturated solutions out of different solids -- we used salt, borax, and sugar. Then pour them into eggshells and let the water evaporate out the solutions. The process leaves crystallized solids in the eggshells -- similar to how mineralized water seeps into the air pockets of rocks to create geodes. (I suppose it takes longer than two weeks for a real geode to form, so I probably shouldn't complain. ;)

You might want to break this project into steps over a couple of days. We did it in one afternoon, and it took two hours to dissolve the three solutions one at a time, and pour into the eggshells. In retrospect, I might let each boy do one solution, and then share them! See Science Bob's site for more instructions.

Lessons learned (at least by Mommy)...
1) Peeling the membrane out of eggshells is not as easy as it sounds.
2) Epsom salts take a long time to dissolve.

(Littlest actually had the longest attention span for this one. Must have been the pouring and stirring!)

3) If you don't want purple blotches on your wood table, remember to put down the plastic tablecloth before starting an experiment. (We also had an accident with white-out that day. Who knew handwriting was more dangerous than chemistry?)
4) Don't leave the food coloring bottles in reach of the three-year-old when you're not watching.

I explained about solutions and saturation points, but I can't guarantee they were listening. That may have been the moment someone got into the food coloring without asking...

5) Sugar solutions take a loooong time to evaporate.
Two weeks later...

It worked! The crystals are not quite as dramatic in person unless you're holding them up to your nose, but each solid created a distinct form.

Did I ever show you this awesome apron my friend Becky made me? Isn't it the coolest?! She rocks. (No pun intended.)

This experiment serendipitously marks the end of our spring egg and bird study, and the beginning of a foray into the world of rocks and minerals.

Middlest has always loved rocks. My great-grandfather was a gemologist, so he must have gotten that gene! (He also got a huge collection of stones and petrified wood from my grandmother.) Last week we heard about a local geology club for kids, and all three boys wanted to join. We attended the first meeting, they used a grinder for the first time, and they got to take home a rock they polished themselves.

This summer we're going to see all kinds of incredible rock formations when we visit Yellowstone National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon! More about that to come...
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