Saturday, February 27, 2010

Old Salem

We went to Old Salem this week for their homeschool days.  We decided just about a week and a half ago to try to visit.  We were blessed to have 7 other families join us for a fun day!  One was a sweet friend that has just moved to NC! 

Honestly, I didn't think it was going to work.  The weather forecast was ... awful.   Cold, snowy/rain and visiting old historic buildings.  Does that sound like fun to you?  I think if we'd been by ourselves, we might have considered trying to go a different day.  As it is, I'm so glad it worked for us to go!  We had a blast!

Our day started very early (especially since I'd been up very late checking Joshua's numbers - boy, has it been an erractic week!).  We met some of our friends to caravan.  Our trip was a little under and hour and a half.  We had rain on the way there.  Shortly after we arrived ... it turned into snow.  It was so very pretty.

Also shortly after we arrived, I realized that I had not packed the test strips for Joshua's meter.  *sigh*  I knew we'd be gone most of the day and we just couldn't go that long without checking him.  So, I made a quick trip to a local drugstore to buy some VERY expensive test strips.  Of course it would be the one item that is outrageously expensive that I forgot.  It's definitely the money-maker iterm.  I paid $35 for a box of 25 strips.  We go through at least 7 per day.  Crazy, huh?  Thankfully they aren't this expensive with insurance.  I'm very thankful to have insurance. 

On to our day.  We started at the Children's Museum.  Lots of neat old toys.  It was a little crowded - probably a lot of people starting there.  Next stop, the gunsmith.

We decided next to go to the furthest building away and make our way back.  We walked in the snow - which was a very wet snow.  It left most of us a little damp, but it wasn't so terribly cold.  Not sure if you can tell it is snowing in this picture.  It was a very wet snow!

We had to stop at the pump in the town square.  My children loved this the last time we were here too!  Just something fun about water - and using a pump is just not something any of them get to do on a regular basis!  (Yes, it really does work!)

We visited the Vierling House.  Since the owner was a doctor, we learned about medicine.  We visited an apothocary and learned about the herbs and medicinces that were used in the 1700s to treat people.  We also viewed exhibits describing medical care at that time period.  I should also mention how very glad I am that we live now and not long ago as several of my children have needed the care available today and I thank God for that!

Downstairs in the kitchen, we learned about their favorite drinks - coffee and tea.  We were show different types of tea leaves and how they were used.  We also saw coffee beans and cocao/chocolate beans.  We were given tea to try.  I will say that I'm not a tea drinker and that this tea did not endear me to it either.  It had a very smokey taste.  There were several tea drinkers in our group though and they liked it!

In the adjacent building, the children washed up and were given marizan to use to make fruit - or other - shapes with.  They had some beautiful examples to look at.

I tried to get a picture of Eliana, but by the time I had her sitting down and had moved around the table, she had eaten all of hers and was saying and signing "more".  LOL  It was fun seeing the children hard at work. 

The children made some neat things and really enjoyed being able to be creative.  Rebecca copied down the recipe in case we wanted to try this again at home.

They also seemed to really enjoy eating it too.  I love pictures of my oldest having fun with little people.  Just warms my heart to see a teen and a tot having a good time. 

It was getting closer to lunch time by now and so we thought we would wander back to the visitor center.  We stopped by the bakery on the way there.  If we weren't hungry before then, we certainly were now!  We were given a sample of a moravian cookie.  YUM!  We also saw bread and sweet cakes that were rising and waiting to be baked. 

We bought some buns to have for lunch that were marked down.  They were sweet and delicious.  We ate our lunch that we packed from home and then started back.  I love this bridge that goes from the Visitor Center into Old Salem.

We headed to the Single Brothers  House.  There was a lot going on in here!  We learned about the ribbons on the women's caps.  The color had special significance.  Rebecca noted that she would have gotten a new ribbon this year when she turned 14.  Mine would have signified that I was married. 

There were a number of "trade shop" displays set up in various rooms.  We visited a man who made furniture, a potter and a tailor.  It was neat to learn about the clothing and inspired some of mine to come home and make some new clothing for their stuffed animals.

We also watched gingerbread being made and were given some to eat. 

One of the favorite stops of the day was in a room with period toys.  Everyone loved this!  Eliana liked playing with the beanbags.  It reminded me that I need to get out the cute ladybug beanbag set from summer camp!

There were tops and really neat castle blocks to build with.

There were  marbles.  My boys had just been talking about playing marbles earlier in the week and I loved that they had a chance to do that here.

This cute little spinning toy was a lot less cute when a teenager wanted to see what would happen when it got close to your head.  Ouch!  It gets caught in your hair and pulls it out!

One of the stores reminded us of a Five in a Row book - The Hatmaker's Sign.

Of course, we had to go in and see the hats.

Many of the homes had a little alcove under the steps.  I'm not sure what it was for, but the children loved going in them!  It would hold quite a few of them too. 

We had a very full, long and wonderful day!  All of mine fell asleep at one point or another on the way home.  I was totally exhausted when we got home.  Roger had been out of town for the week and arrived home that night.  It was good timing, because I crashed! 

I'm glad we went.  So glad to have spent this time with friends making memories and learning about the past.  I love history field trips and love sharing these experiences with my family and friends.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!  There were many more and I tried to be brief in describing our day, but it is still a long post.  It was a lot of fun!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A little more of our week

We tried our hand at Chinese calligraphy.  We used this neat kit with clear instructions (gotta love that!). 

I thought it was fun too that the next time we read the book, one of the boys noticed that there was an ink stick and stone like ours in the book!  We then tried our hand at writing some of the symbols in the book, Grass Sandals.  The boys loved doing this and did a really nice job with it too!  I was thankful to remember that we had this kit now while we were doing the lesson instead of stumbling on it several months later.  LOL

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend who was telling me about making pasta from scratch.  I've never been all that interested because honestly, it sounded too hard.  Well, hearing her talk about it sounded more doable than I had thought - and she offered to show me how.  We picked a date and opened it up to our homeschool group.  There were 6 of us there for a fun, informative (and ultimately delicious) time together.

The ingredients were few - semolina flour, water, oil, salt and eggs.  She told us we could substitute other oils for olive oil (for example could use pesto) or substitute other wet ingredients for the water (like pumpkin). 

She made the flour, then flattened it in rollers.  (Could also do this by hand).  Next came cutting the pasta after it had dried out a little bit.

Then putting it into boiling water. 

A few minutes later and we were enjoying the noodles.  An added benefit for my family is that we were given the leftovers which we all happily enjoyed for dinner!!!  YUM!  Thank you Laura!

Even though I've seen how to do it, I'm not convinced that I actually will do it.  I don't even find time to bake bread most weeks and I already know how to do that!  Like all of us, I battle with the hours in my day and trying to fit in all that I want and need to do.  I'm not sure what I'd have to give up to add this in, kwim?  I do appreciate knowing how and knowing that I can do it, if I want to. 

Our FIAR group field trip this week was to visit the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).  The children were split into 4 groups based on age.  Eliana actually went into the preK group with a friend (they had a story time and another activity) and I went with Daniel and Isaiah into the next age group.  Daniel wasn't willing to go without me and I really wanted him to experience something that was more age appropriate for him.

They had two classes.  The first was on wild and domestic animals.  They discussed using their five senses to identify animals.  They were given large bags with items inside (antlers, a shell, snakeskin, etc.) that they tried to identify using only their sense of touch. 

The also looked at pictures of animals and talked about whether they were wild or domesticated as well as neat features of each animal.  Lastly, the played charades - acting out different animals.

The second class was called Tox in a Box.

The children learned about chemicals - what they are and where they are found.  They learned that some are good and some not good.  They also learned that some things can be good in small amounts and make you feel bad in larger amounts.  (Dosage)  One example given was candy and another orange juice.  I couldnt help but think of Joshua and how him having diabetes has forever colored the way that I view things.  A glass of juice just isn't the easy, "good" option it was just a year ago - now it's a means of correcting a low and even then in a small amount.  I digress.

They saw a hands-on demo about dosage using food coloring in a large, medium and small container of water.  Putting the same amount of coloring in each glass did not have the same results.  This is the same as a grown person ingesting the same amount as a child and it not having the same effect. 

I'm going to be fuzzier on the other classes since I was not there.  The next group  first learned about measuring energy and actually used a machine to measure various gadgets.  The second half was talking about the food chain. 

The oldest group first did a particle matching - looking at pictures from a microscope and matching them to what they believed them to be.  They worked in pairs.  Then they had a tour of the EPA building. 

It was in interesting and fun day.  Due to the weather, we did not go to a park for lunch, but instead came home.  I missed the time hanging out with friends, but given our long day yesterday (more on that tomorrow, it was good to relax a little bit too.

I hope you are having a fun week - learning new things, enjoying your family and friends and laughing often.




Monday, February 22, 2010

Grass Sandals - FIAR Vol 4 Co-op

Just wanted to share another fun co-op day.  The book we are rowing is Grass Sandals which takes place in Japan.  We gathered and read the story.  Then the children learned about Chinese and Japanese writing.  We learned the the original symbols often looked more like the pictures with curving lines.  These though were more difficult to draw with brush and ink.  The curved lines were changed to straight lines.  It was interesting to see the difference.  Loved the man drawn with the symols for the parts of the body!

Then the children (and adults too) were given a paper with symbols on it - usually two or more and they had to try to figure out what the combined symbols meant.  In the picture on the left, you have mouth and ear.  Can you guess what this might be?

Answer:  Listen.  The paper on the right has the symbols for rice and field.  So putting them together is rice field. 

Next, they made paper hats.  They were able to draw, stamp or write on the hats. 

Some worked quickly and other more intently.

The end result was many wonderful hats.

Don't they look great too?

Next, it was time to learn about bamboo.  Notice the large piece of bamboo on the floor.   What I don't have any pictures of is the end of co-op when they each were allowed to go outside and select a piece of bamboo to take for themselves.  I'm sure you can guess what they were used for in the hands of the boys?  Yes, swords.  LOL

The children first learned about the types of animals that eat bamboo.  They looked at a variety of pictures and then put the ones that they thought did eat bamboo on one side of the pole and those that didn't on the other. 

We learned of the many uses for bamboo other than food.  Amazing really!  It can be used to make fibers for clothes (one of the gals teaching was wearing a shirt made of bamboo), as well as in things usually made from hard plastics (keyboard for computer).  It can't be used in anything that gets hot or too wet.  There were many pictures and the children voted yes or no as to whether that item could be made from bamboo. 

The children then played outside for a bit.  Then came in for a yummy snack.

Then it was time to go home.  Thanks friends for another wonderful day!  I'm thankful that my children are able to learn so many interesting things from my friends that I would never have thought to teach.  It is a sweet gift - both to my children and also to me.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of our fun.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Just wanted to share a little bit of our day.  We are a family that enjoys traditions and for some of my children those have become very important.  What is sweet to me is when they are old enough to also help carry out the traditions.

We started the day at church.  After lunch, I layed down to rest and ended up taking a long nap.  While I was sleeping, some of the others in the family went about doing things that perhaps I should have been doing.  One of our traditions is a scavenger hunt.  We do this several times a year and it's always a fun thing to do - both the hunt and the surprise at the end. 

We also have pizza - a heart shaped pizza for dinner.  I figure for any future son-in-law, I've set the bar not very high in terms of a sweet tradition.  For my boys, they may have to work a little harder to make the day seem romantic.  LOL

Isaiah helped me to make the pizzas this year.  We make one into a heart shape and write "I Love You" on it.

We all thought it was yummy.

The big surprise though was that Eliana actually ate some of it!!!  Yippee!!!  Moments like this give me great hope.  Hope that one day meals will be a little easier and we won't have to look for alternate foods when we are eating things that are a challenge for her.  I have several with various "food issues" and so making progress with any of them is cause for celebration!

Rebecca planned the scavenger hunt.  She wrote up all the clues.

She also made goodie bags and purchased the treats to go in them.

Along with the bags were cards that she had made by hand as well.  Are you impressed with her yet?  Eliana shows her appreciation.

Isaiah is also one that really loves traditions and also the giving of gifts.  He bought donuts to share with everyone and made this lovely, sweet display for the family.

Hope your day was sweet and spent with those you love!