Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Of peat moss and oil.

And salt and water.

Today was water play day, apparently.

Seeking to contain it somewhat, I remembered some Steph's water experiments from a (long) while back.

First we did the hot water/cold water experiment which was 'awesome' for them when the two colors combined and made purple, and so cool for me when we switched hot to the top and the colors wouldn't mix. At their age, the girls were not so impressed. "So the colors stay separate. That's not exciting, they were already separate. It's only awesome when they join together and make purple."

Then we did salt volcanoes. Water and oil and salt make magic. And mini lava lamps.

Very, very cool. Had to do that one many times. The water gets saturated with salt pretty fast when you have three kids playing.

Then they played with the food dye. "Look, we made roots!"

They made brown water. Which Ainsley had to study.

That magnifying glass is an extension of her hand.

Because we were on a roll, we moved on to our experiment package from The Young Scientists Club.

My father got us this once-a-month subscription as a Christmas present this year. Best. Present. Ever. (Except for that little tool set he made for Hannah when she was three years old that had real tools and wood. That girl didn't go anywhere without her hammer and screwdriver for months.) He asked me what I wanted, saying that he'd prefer it to be an 'educational' gift. I'd been looking into this program for awhile because it reminded me of one that he was subscribed to when *I* was a kid. We used to get these packages in the mail and they'd have the best experiments in them - I still think of them every time I see a manila envelope. Those experiments (if I remember right) were aimed towards teenagers (I only ever got to watch them being done - that's what happens when you're #8) and these are aimed towards younger kids, though I think a bit older than my girls.

Last week we got our first kit. As the first kit, it included a little magnifying glass, ruler, notepad, and even ... a sand dollar. Random. But very welcome.

This first kit was filled with recycling experiments.

First we expanded peat moss pellets in water. This was surprisingly (or not, when you think about it) exciting for the girls, to watch these solid, thin circles become large, squishy, dirt-filled nets.

To one of these we added carrot peels and to the other we added a small piece of plastic bag. Actually, a piece of one of the plastic bags that the peat moss came in. Hannah has predicted that at the end of the week, when we check on them, the carrot peels will still be there and the plastic bag will be decomposing. This should be interesting.

Next we made paper. From paper. The irony of this was not lost on my five-year-old. "Why are we making new brown paper from a brown paper bag? Why not just write on the bag?"

Quit thinking and do the experiment.

The pulp was fun to play in. We had to use the next batch for paper.

So after blending and shaping ...

we had two 'new' sheets of paper drying.

Included in the package were four pieces of brand new colored paper that they said you could use to make new colored paper. That did not go unnoticed by my daughter either. "I thought they were teaching us how *not* to waste." Bear in mind, this is the girl that drives her daddy crazy because she doesn't want him to throw anything away. "I might be able to use it for an art project."

It didn't escape my attention either that included in this 'recycle/take care of the earth' package there were no less than four plastic envelopes.

They recommended using the new paper that you made as labels on recycling boxes. Problem is, we don't buy pop (so no aluminum or plastic there), we save our large yogurt containers for potting veggie starts in the spring, we save most other plastic buckets (like ice cream buckets) to organize stuff in the craft room or the shed... We buy very little prepackaged food, so all of that wrapping is nonexistent. Any paper goes to the fireplace. Any organic matter goes to the compost pile. We're still looking for something to recycle.

Now I'm going to sift through the links on the company's 'Kit 1' page and see if there are any other cool experiments to do.

It was a fun experiment package, but I expect the next ones to be much more exciting. And we have a sand dollar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The dolls are back in town.

We got some cute dolls to go with our dollhouse. Not fancy, but cute. But not princesses. The princesses have taken over the doll house.
Ainsley's favorite dolls are these rubber Disney princesses that we got when they went on clearance. Not what I pictured my daughter playing with a few years ago when visions of wooden, handmade, or cloth toys danced in my head - before my daughter's own desires got in the way. As of right now, the brand means nothing to her - just princesses.

The dolls we got her, they're polite. They're good tenants. They don't make a lot of noise. Family people.

The princesses are a whole 'nother story. They party. They look all sweet when they show up at the house - look at how proper they are -
but they party hard.

I walked in on a hot tub party once.

And Disney princesses party differently than us. Instead of lampshades on their heads, they have birds. You don't even want to know how drunk she was when I took this picture.

When I go to clean up, I find three of them crashed on the couches while the woodland creatures they invited are making a mess, crowding out my cute wooden family dolls.

Belle's in the shower - fully clothed. That must be a heck of a hangover. Unicorn juice'll do that to you.

Snow White's on the toilet - at least her head's not in it. Maybe she didn't party as hard as the others.

I was laughing about how at least these are Disney princesses, so there wouldn't be bras hanging from the chandelier. I'd forgotten that somebody invited Ariel.

It's really not surprising that Ains has to be doing repairs already.

This isn't the dollhouse play I pictured. It's better. As Steph says, it's nice starting the day with a free smile.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Right this minute.

Miss Spider is making carrot stew.

Ainsley is doing some home improvement.

Don't worry, she's barely tapping.

And Grayson ...

I've got no idea.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wooly Weather.

Our nearest city was hosting a 'Cabin Fever' day and one of the activities was a weather show at the planetarium.

The planetarium? There's a planetarium? Awkward. My constellation loving child (see: Family Dog Named After Her Favorite Constellation) would probably have loved that back when she was obsessed with them.

So we went to the weather show, Hannah and I. On the way there, she listened to three or four books on tape that I'd randomly chosen at the library - Orcas, fables, and Wooly Mammoths. After the Mammoth book, she said "I want to go to a building where they have lots of dinosaur bones all set up so that we can look at them. Can we do that?" Sure, honey, I'll look into it. I already have some ideas (thank you Steph!).

Then we walked into the museum/planetarium and look what greeted us.

I was in a state of giddy shock, as was Hannah. Serendipitous, indeed.

Hannah wanted me to take a picture of her by it's leg. "It could crush 25 people! It could even crush my daddy!"

We have never been in this small museum before - didn't even know of its existence. It has quite a few fun things. Footprints,

skulls,

big teeth.
We're going back. There are two more rooms we didn't explore. One of those we won't be exploring with the girls until their current exhibit is gone. Check it.

Go ahead, click on it to blow it up. "High Plains Hamlet", they call it. "An Idaho Frontier Tragedy." Gruesome, I call it. Cowboy and Native skeletons riding horses. A dead Native - or white guy, I didn't get close enough to see which it was - with arrows all over him, including one sticking out of his groin. A massive poster with scalped men. I don't even want to know how many bakus we would need around her bed to combat what she would see in that room.

So, yeah, she didn't go in that room.

She made it.

I made it.

When I called first thing in the morning, she said "Don't hurry to get me."

When we met up with her at the library, the first thing she said was "Can I stay two more nights?"

When I said that wasn't going to work, she wanted to know when the next time she could spend the night was.

It went very well. She went from a very attached (some have said too attached) child to a child who is still very much attached but confident enough (seemingly overnight) to do a sleepover with not a single glitch.

She seems determined to grow up.

Damn it.

*Many thanks to my sister for the sleepover pictures.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Do you want to spend the night?"

It's always been a safe question to ask when we're at Aunt Ria's and she doesn't want to go home but we really need to. Even if she answers yes, she changes her mind when she realizes that that means she won't be with Mother when it gets dark.

So I felt pretty comfortable asking her "Do you want to spend the night?" when she didn't want to leave but we really needed to because there was ice cream in the trunk of the car. Then she said yes and meant it. Then my younger daughter was very sad because she couldn't spend the night also. She's probably more ready than the elder, but I was not about to leave Aunt Ria with two nieces while she has a young baby, and I told Ainsley that.

"That OK. I sleep with Emma." Problem solved, apparently. But it wasn't, and we had to leave.

I know you've never seen my Ains cry, so let me explain the process for you. She hates to cry and never uses it as a tool to sway you. When something is bad enough for her to cry - usually severely hurt feelings - her face becomes completely still. Then her eyes well up. Then her bottom lip comes out just a bit and starts to quiver violently as she fights with everything inside of her to hold it in. If she can't hold it in, her whole face will dissolve into the saddest cry you've heard and you will feel like you'll do anything to fix the situation. This is what happened as she was getting buckled into the car. She badly wanted to be with her Aunt Ria and Aunt Ria's princess dress-up clothes. "I old enough!" "I not ohvohwhem (overwhelm) Aunt Ria!" "If she get sick, I make her Mergen-C (Emergen-C) and she get bettuh. She *needs* me." Folks, the only thing that helped me drive away with her without giving in was the thought of my sister shooting me.** She really didn't need two extra kids today.

We were seven minutes down the road when the crying started getting softer and then petered out. All of a sudden a bright voice pipes up and says "Hannah not be at home? I pay wif Hannah's toys and she not be mad! I pay wif Nettie and ..." and she started listing off Hannah's toys that she would get to play with when she got home. Happy again. I put the kabosh on her playing with Hannah's special toys, but the dolls and the games and the books that are usually fodder for sibling sadness? Go for it.

We're not expecting Hannah to make it through the night - to be honest I'm surprised she even made it *to* the night - so she has our numbers on her aunt's phone and promises to call if she needs us to come get her.

Crossing my fingers it all goes well, for everybody's sake.

**About my sister - she wouldn't shoot me. She doesn't own a gun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

That girl.

Ainsley: "Hannah, you want to pay with me? I paying princesses."

Hannah: "Ainsley, I'm getting older. As you get older, you don't want to play as much. You start getting interested in other stuff. Like reading, and writing, and doing your ABC's better. You'll start to want to help Mother with the animals more, and be aware of the billy goat more, and want to be nicer. ... ... Can I be Aurora?"