Tag Archives: crafts

Pharaoh, Pharaoh, Oh, Oh

A few weeks ago I actually managed to get the girls to the library. Yep, the same library we walk past three times a week. That week we actually managed to go inside. While browsing the shelves I saw a book about mummies and thought the girls might enjoy it (we also took out books about animals on the prairies, weather and seasons, valentines, mining, and sheep). It turns out the girls LOVED the mummy book. So we took out a few more books about mummies, pyramids, and the sphinx.

In the one book it briefly described how the ancient Egyptians made mummies. The girls were enthralled. After asking dozens of questions about the difference between Egyptian mummies and those made in bogs, we decided to make some mummies of our own. So we took some toilet paper…

Nevermind. We didn’t actually take toilet paper. Certainly the bandages on the Egyptian mummies are one major difference, but I felt there was much more to the whole process than just wrapping. I also thought my girls would understand a lot better if they actually made REAL mummies. So we went to the store and we looked at the chickens, and the ducks, I said no to the geese and the turkeys, and they settled on a game hen each. We also bought some salt, bandages, and some oil.

Supplies

Each girl chose a couple spices to add to their jar of oil (to make the scented oils). Agatha chose allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. Ella wanted only anise. We added the chosen spices to the girls’ jars and capped them. We knew it would take a while to make the mummies so we thought the oils would have plenty of time to infuse. Each day we agitated the jars a bit to mix things up (the girls had a blast with that).

Then we prepped the hens. We washed them and pulled out the extra bits that were inside.

Then we filled them with salt, laid them on a bed of salt, and thoroughly covered them in more salt. Just a note for anyone thinking of doing this at home – you need ridiculous quantities of salt!

After the hens were completely covered we set them on the counter and left them there. For a very long time.

While we waited for the salt to work it’s magic we talked about what the salt was doing to the bodies, and did a quick demonstration with a bit of water and some salt. We then read a couple books about pyramids. And the girls tried there hand at building.

We determined tomb robbers might find a way into some pyramids easier than others.

After the hens sat on our counter smell free for a while (weeks) we removed all the old salt and replaced it with new salt. We really should have done this sooner, but time got away from me. Our hens were still very moist.

But a few weeks after that when we changed the salt again, things were looking much better. Then after roughly 40 days we removed the salt to see what our mummies looked like.

They were very dry and leathery. We opened our jars of scented oils and the girls rubbed the oils on the hens. Then they wrapped them in linen (gauze) bandages.

They were very proud of their handiwork and still have their mummies on our counter to show anyone who comes over.

We hoped to follow up the interest in mummies with the playmobil pyramid playset. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to save enough pennies before it was discontinued. So if anyone happens to have a pyramid playset around they’d be willing to part with, please let me know 🙂

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Life Dreams

When embarking on the unschooling, life-learning path, a person needs to de-school. This invokes breaking away from the conventional set of wisdom that says a person needs to worry about X, Y, Z or should do Q, R, S. It means realizing certain things aren’t important after all, and other things are.

Each person, each family, will follow a different path. Some will need to de-school more than others. Some will have no trouble stepping away from certain fears, others become even more frightened at the thought of such freedom.

The questions revolve endlessly. How will children ever learn? How will they ever socialize? If no one tells them what to eat, or not to eat,t hen how will they be healthy? If they don’t have a bed time, then how will the adults ever have alone time together? The questions I ask are different than the ones you ask – and our answers will be different as well.

Because my family, my background aren’t yours.

Most of the time I don’t have those fears. I know myself and my husband, and I know my children. They’ll learn and they’ll be healthy.

For me, I’ve had to deschool in a different manner. I’ve had to pull away from the idea that adults wake up, go to work, watch TV, eat, and go to bed. There’s more to life than that and I’m not going to fall into the trap of believing I shouldn’t expect anymore than that.

Over the past year I’ve starting writing again. It’s slow at the moment, but I’ve completed two novels. I’m working on another. I’ve outlined a children’s/young adult story that’s been heartily approved by the girls. I think I’ll finish this one before I finish my other one. lol I find I work better with multiple things on the go.

I’ve also taken up painting. It’s just for fun at the moment, but I enjoy it and that’s the important part. I’ve also been having fun cooking, baking, sewing, gardening….I keep finding new ideas and pursuits. I’m not sure which I’ll stick with, which I won’t. I’m not sure if any of them will ever make me money. None of that matters. What does matter is that I’m showing my children what a full life looks like. They see me spending time with them, with Ryan, with friends and family. They see me doing things for myself as well as my family.

Someone once told me that in order to be ‘happy’ a person needs to have ten labels for themselves that do not involve their role within the family or work force. Only in the past few months have I been able to actually say I’m leading a full life, by this definition. And I feel better than I have in years. I enjoy jumping out of bed each morning (okay that’s figuratively – I really love my bed int he morning) and wish there were more hours in the day in which to chase my dreams (and children).

Have you tried something new recently, pulled yourself out of your comfort zone in order to pursue your dreams?

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Unschool Life

When someone walks into our house, they see a home well lived in. Some people may see the paint on the floor, or the million-and-one pom-poms scattered from wall to wall. But others race in, unaware of the clutter. Instead they find one station or another and begin working.

 

At the dinning table we have crafts of one sort or another. Right now we have popsicle sticks, pom-poms, paint, feathers, and the glue-gun. We’re all working on a structure of sorts. We hope anyone who comes to visit will help build it. Though so far no one’s really shown that much interest in the crafts.

We have crafts supplies in various places around the house. We believe availability will increase the girl’s desire to create, as well as their ability to express. Right now the girls enjoy working at the kitchen table. It’s close to where I spend the majority of my day. There’s also easy access to food, music, and shows.

Over the past few months we’ve seen our girls blossom in their ability to create masterpieces using the materials available to them.

We try to keep snacks available at all times.

Beyond the stuff we strew around for the girls to use, they also find other items to play with, and new uses for old toys. Here are the scissors and Ariel wig Ella first used to practice hair cutting on.

 

 

 

We’ve moved bean-bags to the living room so the girls have a comfortable place to sit while watching shows or playing Wii. They also provide a place for the girls to climb and jump. Otherwise they climb on our recliners – I really don’t want our recliners broken, and I don’t want someone hurt by them flipping over the back. Now there’s a place for their BIG activities right there in the heart of the home.

 

 

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Direction

I’m still discovering just what this blog will be. Some of it seems to be parenting advice, or at least a reminder to myself how I wish to parent. Some of it’s admission of guilt, for myself, for my family, and for those out there who may think they can’t do it because on that one day (or week/month etc) they yelled or parented in some other manner that was less than respectful or gentle. There’s also the unschooling aspect. Where I show what it looks like in our home, and what we want it to look like. This blog is also a keeper of records. A diary for me, and a school journal for the girls.

If I write things down, I’ll be able to keep track of where they’re at compared to where they’ve been. It’ll also help me see where they’re going. I’m still unsure if one aspect of this blog will win out, or if it will continue being a hodge-podge.

Feel free to weigh in as to what you’d prefer to read, I’ll take your thoughts into consideration.

A month ago, even a week ago, if Ella played with play-dough all she did was mash it together into a great big ball. Then a couple days ago something changed. She pulled out the play-dough and began rolling balls, logs, spheres, cylinders, and sticking them together. It doesn’t matter what the above sculpture is supposed to be, what matters is that a body, legs, tail, and face were clearly recognizable. Whether using paper and crayons, pipe cleaners, or play dough she’s beginning to create recognizable figures, she wants to. And she’s sensitive about comments made prior to completion. She doesn’t want us to look at her work until she’s finished.

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Rhubarb Gummy Worms

Ella loves to make potions, so whenever possible we try to make some juice. Her favorite is rhubarb juice.

chop several stocks of rhubarb to make roughly 5 cups, the more red in the stock, the more red the resulting juice will be.

place in a pot and cover with water.

Add 1/2 cup each lemon juice and honey.

Add 3 cinnamon sticks.

Place on stove and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for about 30 min (or until the rhubarb has become a fine pulp).

Strain and pour juice into glass jars. Enjoy the colour and flavour.

One or both of the big girls usually help. They measure and place everything in the pot. They also stir while it’s cooking, and check to see when it’s done. They top up the potion with more water as needed, and have been known to add apple juice, orange juice, green tea, and various herbs and spices to the potion to see how things turned out. The recipe above is the one we like best.

After making our potion, the girls decided to make gummy worms, and lips, tongues, brains, bugs…and other creepy halloweeny stuff.

1 1/3 cup juice

4 packets (1tbsp each) gelatine

honey (if desired)

prepare molds of choice by lightly brushing oil onto molds with a candy brush. Too much oil will make the candy taste off, and leave it greasy.

place 1/3 cup of juice into a small dish and sprinkle gelatine powder over top. Allow to sit until moist (about ten minutes).

heat the rest of the juice until almost boiling. Dissolve honey, if desired, into hot juice. Turn off heat. Pour the gelatine and remaining juice into pot and stir until dissolved. Pour into prepared molds. Allow to sit until firm, about ten minutes. Placing in the fridge will speed the process.

Remove from molds and enjoy.

Pale Pink Rhubarb Lips

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Fish or flowers?

I have the most amazing husband ever! I’m not gonna tell you what he got me for mother’s day – until it arrives and I have a chance to try it out. Though I will tell you he also bought me flowers. Gorgeous flowers. Growing in a pot.

I was upstairs changing Cordelia and the girls were downstairs playing with their toy penguin. When I came down, flowers and leaves littered the table and floor. The lecture started. But I stopped and asked the girls to sit while I calmed down. I took a couple breaths and asked what they’d been trying to do. Apparently their penguin was hungry and needed pink and green fish to eat. Naturally only flowers and leaves would do.

I let the girls know I was upset, but I understood it was important for their penguin to eat. Instead of going out to the playground, I made them fish. They were slightly upset about not going to the playground, but also very excited about fish.

First I need to mention I’ve never made something like this before. I also didn’t have a pattern. So by no means are these perfect, and when I make the next ones I’ll make a few changes, but for now the girls love them. After the girls chose colours,  I drew out what I hoped would turn into fish.The girls took their own supplies and stitched and cut while I worked.

I used embroidery floss and craft felt. All total it took me roughly an hour and a half per fish from start to finish. That includes time needed to completely forget a piece necessitating unstitching and restitching. It also includes time to completely tangle and untangle the floss. And time for help. Completely doable in an afternoon, unless you add in the time it takes to feed the children, clean crushed something or other off the floor, read a story or two, wash fingers, faces, floors, walls, and table. That stretches the time to two afternoons.

Poor sick Ella loves her fish, Agatha will get hers when she wakes up in the morning.

I actually had fun making them, and am looking forward to a few changes for the next one. Ryan suggested gills, I want to add scales with a blanket stitch, and figure out how to fix the dorsal fin. It doesn’t sit right, but I’m not sure how it should sit. Any suggestions?

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Better Late Than Never

Sometimes I don’t agree with the title of this post. Twenty minutes late for a half-hour class and I’ll just not bother. Incidentally we stopped going to Mommy and Me Dance because I was so late way too often.  However, in this instance late is better than never. We had so much fun, and the results were gorgeous!

I’m talking about dyeing our Easter eggs. This year we planned to use organic chicken eggs, courtesy of my parents farm. Of course my parents eggs are mostly brown, but I was so excited to discover spectacular speckled eggs amongst all those brown ones. They were perfect.

Speckled chiken eggs?

I asked the girls what colours they wanted, then we went through the kitchen to find different items that might produce the desired hue. We used the last bit of red wine in a bottle, turmeric, fruit juice blend, cranberry juice, paprika, green tea, and crushed chilies. The juice blend didn’t work, and even though I’ve heard good things about using chilies, I personally wouldn’t use them again.

Most sites I looked up said to boil the eggs with the item being used to colour the eggs. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted the girls to be able to safely take the eggs in and out of the liquid to check the colour as they saw fit. So I boiled the water for the tea and let it steep and cool for a few minutes, I boiled the turmeric and paprika for a few minutes to get the colour into the water, then I poured that into cups, the juices and wine I poured into cups as they were. I added one to two teaspoons of white vinegar to each cup and brought it all to the table for the girls.

I loved the way the colours turned out. The wine left one egg a deep, deep purple. The other was green with black stripes, the striped one was left for only about five minutes, the other for about twenty (in the fridge). The turmeric left the eggs a vivid orange, the paprika turned them yellow, cranberry juice turned the eggs a rosy pink, and the green tea left the eggs a beautiful yellow-green.

These were the most beautiful eggs we’ve ever dyed, and no one was stained florescent pink or blue for weeks on end. there also wasn’t any concern with eating the eggs after, even if the dye did leak through in a couple places.

When I called my mom to tell her about our spectacularly, speckled dyed eggs, she got very quiet. Asked if we’d eaten any of them yet, then said she knew something about the eggs and she wasn’t sure if she should tell me or not.

I insisted. With a lead up like that either I had to throw out our gorgeous eggs, or know what she was talking about. It turns out there had been a mix up on the farm during egg collection and two dozen turkey eggs went missing. She couldn’t figure out who had them and didn’t want to say anything in case someone got upset.

In case you’re wondering turkey eggs really don’t taste that different from a chicken egg (I couldn’t tell the difference at all), bu they are a different shape, and once the turkeys are mature their eggs will be larger. The eggs we received were about the size of  a large chicken egg so I couldn’t tell the difference based on size. And not knowing the first thing about chickens, or eggs (other than how to cook both), it didn’t occur to me that we received anything other than chicken eggs.

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