Vacuuming and Planting

It's amazing what a little difference a pass with the vacuum cleaner can make. We share our home with four animals: three cats and a dog. If we don't stay on top of it, the pet hair gets quite out of control. The upside is how incredibly clean everything looks when I finally do get around to vacuuming. Silas is an eager helper, though, and whenever the vacuum cleaner gets pulled out of the closet he declares which room I have to leave for him to do.

Today we finally did a little bit of planting. Before we left our old house we took a few cuttings from the pussy willow that we planted there six years ago. They've been living in a vase of water in our kitchen for the past six months and were in sad need of some soil and sunlight. We aren't quite ready yet to plant anything in the yard yet, so into a bucket they go, waiting to find their forever home.

Making Meteor Craters

Silas has started a project about space. Daddy has a deep love of space research, so kiddo comes by it honestly. He's been interested in space travel, planets, and the moon for quite awhile, but it's only been in the last month or so that we decided to do a project about it.

In all honesty, our last couple projects have either suffered from a lack of focus or fizzled out because I couldn't keep up with journaling and reflection in order to help guide us in productive directions. At just over 5, Silas isn't quite ready to take complete ownership of his projects yet. He still needs my help to remind him what his questions are and to help him seek out resources to find answers. This takes a lot of time and effort on my part and I'm still trying to find a system that works for us.

As I always do when we start a project, I asked him what he already knew about space and what he was curious about. His list of questions was so inspiring and insightful. The first was, "why do people want to know about space?" Heavy, right? So, we've been reading some biographies about people who study space to see where their passion comes from. We started with Copernicus (Copernicus, The Earth is a Planet by Fradin) and Galileo (I, Galileo by Christensen). We're still in a very sensitive stage, though, and the punishments those men received for challenging the church were really frightening for the kiddo. So, we jumped ahead to read about some astronauts: Neil Armstrong (Neil Armstrong, Young Flyer by Dunham) and Sally Ride (When I Grow Up: Sally Ride by Anderson), which were much better received. The current bedtime read is George's Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking and Silas loves it.

Other than that, we've just been doing an invitation to play here and there. Nothing too crazy. Today we set up a simulation of the creation of meteorite impact craters. A layer of white flour with a layer of chocolate cake mix sifted on top (to make the displaced "soil" visible) and dried beans thrown and dropped from all angles and heights and with varying speeds. It was fascinating to see how different the craters were when those variables were adjusted. Of course, making the biggest dust cloud became the ultimate goal.

When that exploration was finished, he then needed some space vehicles to explore his moon surface. So we raided the recycling bin to make some rockets and moon buggies.

It's silly, but I always struggle to control my impulse to buy for projects like this. I am committed to opting out of the consumerist lifestyle. My one weakness, though, are toys. I love to buy stuff for my kids and it takes effort to remind myself that stuff is not at all what they need. 

I'm so glad I resisted the urge because building our space vehicles together was so much more fun than buying a bunch of plastic toys.

And do you see that lunar rover taking soil samples? It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Theda and I sat nearby on a blanket, reading books and playing while Silas was fully engaged in his space exploration.

It didn't take long for the flour to explode everywhere. Thank goodness for a beautiful day and the opportunity to play outside.

Bedroom Painting & Rainbow Ironing

This past weekend was wet and dreary. We still went outside to play a bit, but most of our time was spent indoors painting Silas' room. It's the first room in the new house to get any attention and the only room that we have a vision for. I'm excited to be one step closer to having it done (Silas is excited too).

After an Ebay purchasing fury I now have color-coded linens for our dinner table to match our Waldorf-inspired color of the day. Rhythm and beauty. This means that I now have a weekly ironing day, something that I've never done before. Luckily, I have a great little helper to keep me company.

Pink Flowers

Today was a day of pink flowers. First Silas added some watercolor to his ink drawing from earlier in the week. Next, it was some nature scissors practice; cutting up the fading bouquet from the dinner table over the light panel. A very engaging activity! 

Dress Sewing

Today's nap time activity was to get one step closer to finishing off two little dresses for Theda. I've been working on them here and there for the past two months or so. This one was my practice run with the pattern. The final version was supposed to be a first birthday party dress. Well, her birthday has come and gone so now they shall be fun summer dresses instead. Just a few more snaps to sew on and both of them will be done.

Quills & Mischievous Babies

Every night at bedtime I tell Silas a story. We lie together in his bed with his head on my arm. They are always different, always simple and sweet, and he is always the main character. In last night's story, Story-Silas found a feather, used it to make a quill, and then used his "chicken pen" to draw a chicken. When the story was done he asked, "can we do that for real, mama? Make a pen out of a feather?" Well, sure. I love it when he thinks of activities for us to do so that I don't have to. Tomorrow, we're going to try adding a little watercolor to his drawing.

I'm really lucky that the little Missy plays so well by herself. She is so curious and such a happy little soul. As long as she knows where I am, she's pretty content to sit by herself and look at books, or dig through a box of toys all afternoon.

Flowers for Dinner & Animal Croquet

This is our first spring in the new house and it's been so much fun to see all the surprises popping up as the weather begins to turn warm. We've discovered that we have a magnolia tree, a whole mess of ferns, and some tulips among others. A few of these fern leaf peonies have made their way inside and onto the dinner table. With all the challenges that the end of the day often brings (everyone is just too tired!), it's nice to at least have something pretty to look at.

Silas declared that he wanted to go to the thrift store today. Never one to turn down such an opportunity, I agreed. We picked up this little kids' croquet set. We're hoping to make some major changes in the yard later this spring, so we're in a bit of a holding pattern as far as putting in a garden and a play area goes. These were a welcome addition to the basket of "things to do in the backyard." I know that I've said it before and it's holding true again this year as well: you can't bounce off the walls if there are no walls. Our current plan is to spend as much time outside as possible. Luckily, the weather is cooperating.

Blowing Bubbles and Spoons

While having our afternoon smoothie today (a medley of whatever was left on this, the day before grocery day: plum, pear, yogurt, coconut milk with a scoop of blueberry jam for good measure), Silas was blowing bubbles with his straw. I asked him to stop and said that food is not for playing, but that if he wanted to blow bubbles with water when we were finished, he could. He agreed. I count this as my parenting success for the day.

Theda would not be left out and enjoyed some smoothie as well. I haven't given her nearly the freedom with feeding herself that I did with Silas. I think the idea of cleaning up the mess now that I have two seems more than I can bear. So she's mostly having finger foods, but when I remember to give her her own spoon, she gets so delighted and does just fine with it.

Artist Study: Monet

We've added a bit of Charlotte Mason inspired artist study to our days. Nothing too formal really. Our public library has a really fantastic collection of framed prints that you can check out for 6 weeks at a time. They have 4 Monets so we just checked one out each month for the past 4 months. I picked a wall in our dining room to be our rotating artist study space and hung each of the pictures at Silas' eye level. Mason describes schooling at this age as setting out a banquet. She encourages us to fill our homes with beautiful works of art, music, and literature and allow the children to choose to absorb it and interact with it in whatever way they wish without too much instruction. So that's just what we're doing. 

There are quite a few lovely children's picture books about Monet and we checked those out as well. Our top favorites were Linnea in Monet's Garden by Bjork, The Magical Gardens of Claude Monet by Anholt, and Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains by Maltbie.

The culminating event to mark our shift from looking at the work of this artist to looking at the work of the next was to "paint like Monet." We decided that this meant we needed to be outside, paint on a canvas, and paint our impressions. Silas chose to paint the magnolia tree in our backyard, a tree with which he is quite taken. He rushed in the house one day when he discovered its blossoms opening and it has been his favorite climbing tree ever since.

Jupiter, Ball Runs, and Spring Raking

This weekend was...

all of us (still) recovering from colds,
discovering the flip side to having a gorgeous, enormous maple tree in our front yard through the raking that didn't get accomplished last fall,
a first trip to the observatory to see Jupiter,
the resulting challenging days due to over-tiredness,
ball run construction,
secret outdoor fort negotiations, 
mama/Silas trip to the thrift store, which meant daddy/Theda time at home,
puzzle assembling and game playing,
little girl dress stitching,
and magnolia tree climbing.

Joining Karen

Packing Peanut Sculpture

An Easter package from grandma and grandpa led us to this impromptu sculpture activity. It was filled with the biodegradable corn-based packing peanuts, which have the wonderful quality of sticking to each other when wet. Just a little bit of moisture goes a long way, we found. The best method was to dab each peanut on a damp sponge and then adhere. Any more water than that gives you a goopy, soupy mess, which is fine if that's your thing. 

We made some letters and some numbers and then Silas made a design. I stuck four peanuts together, handed it to him and asked, "what could this be?"

"A Bird!" And he proceeded to make it so.

When that was done he exclaimed, "How about we make something big that's hollow inside. An igloo!"

"Okay. How do we start?"

"With the bottom. I need to get a book - a building book."

The box of peanuts was quite large, so I think that we have several sessions of packing peanut sculpture ahead of us.