Sunday, April 28, 2013

There and Back Again: A Hobbit Party

My little hobbit wanted a party to showcase legos, the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Here is our grand adventure!

The fellowship were summoned by mail.

Frodo gets ready for the adventure. 

He loves the South-farthing pipe weed.

Here are some of the cast. Legolas, Gandalf, Frodo and Gimli

And what do you know, Tolkein himself showed up along with a dear friend, C.S. Lewis!

 Arwen Evenstar and her elf guardian

A hearty luncheon with stuffed mushrooms, Farmer Maggot's crop of veggies, Tasty Sausages and of course, Lembas bread (made from crecent rolls!).

Orc Grog (growlers of beer) for the big folk and rootbeer for the littles.

After a good hearty meal, clues were hidden and a map to Middle Earth was passed out to the Fellowship.

Tolkien gives the first clue.

Hidden among the Trolls (thank goodness they were stone!) they find one of the clues.
A journey into Mirkwood Forest...

they find another.

And yes, the Hobbit went barefooted!

Finding the treasure! No one guessed that Frodo had the ring!

Then it's time for cake. Lego Smaug atop his treasure and a treasure map.

Everyone but birthday Hobbit blew out the candles. He was too busy with his treasure.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's not Rocket Science

Justin has been wanting to launch rockets, I mean let the kids launch rockets since last summer. So for Aeneas's birthday, he went all out. Anything science puts this artistic Mama into a panic attack. But I try really hard to keep cool and encourage it. We tag teamed helping the boys build their rockets (Patrick got one for his un-birthday too, of course). And every time I would get stuck on how something glued together, Justin would say, "It's not rocket science, Anna." And then laugh with his best mad scientist laugh, WHA WHA WHA!

This picture says it all. The man was nothing short of giddy about this whole thing.

So we went out last night to a vacant parking lot after the students moved out for the semester, in the wind and too little clothing for the chilly Colorado Mountain air to do some rocket launching. (Note Aeneas's space jammies. He actually planned that!)

Aeneas is carefully hooking up the launch wires to complete the circuit.

The key that turns the "ready for launch" light on is my favorite part.

A successful landing.

Patrick's rocket has shuttles that glide back down once the parachute is deployed. And we still have one for Aeneas to be built that has a clear payload section that allows you to put critters in it. Watch out lego people and small bugs. You are going on a space mission!

Patrick's NASA Shuttle launch.

Aeneas's Giant Amazon Rocket launch.

Never a dull moment around here. And I can proudly say I can pack a parachute with the best of them!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Piano Playtime

Since last week was spring break we had double the amount of piano homework this week. The boys decided they wanted to try to do the theme song from the Lord of the Rings as a duet and it's HARD. Aeneas has to count things out and keep the beat and Patrick is reading two hands in the bass clef which is more difficult than it sounds. (I personally hate the bass clef and was so relieved as a kid when I switched from piano to trumpet where I could say adios to reading the bass clef forever!)

All that to say, that through some days of tears and some days of excitement, they have made some really good progress on the song. What's amazing to me is that even now, after a week of hard work and frustration, they still manage to sit down at the piano and "play" at playing. Patrick has about 5 songs that he is currently composing and the other day, the two of them came up with what they call "Ocean Deep." Yeah, they play legos and they play "talkin' cars" and they get on each others nerves and have to be separated at times. But then there are times they do something like this and it just doesn't get any more constructive than that. And that makes for one proud Mama.

Here is a preview of "Ocean Deep" by Patrick and Aeneas. We will see where it goes. And when they are recital ready, I will post their LOTR "In Dreams" duet so stay tuned!

Science, Science, Science!!!

We have had a lot of fun with Science this spring already. I can't wait for it to warm up so we can get outside for even more exploratory fun.

The other day we made goo from Elmers glue, water and borax. The boys have spent hours playing with this stuff. Attacking cars and legos. But be careful, it will stick to clothing and carpet. It's a good thing we live in a "rental."

Last week for our grand finale Student Tea Time we got the stuff to make carbonated fruit! It's basically fizzy fruit and all you need is fruit like grapes, apples and pears, a Nalgene bottle and some dry ice. It takes about 2-1" cubes placed on top of your 3/4 filled Nalgene and within 24 hours your fruit is properly fizzed. The students and the boys loved it! We even had one (unacceptable) container blow up in the hall. So do this experiment at your own risk and research it first!

We had left over dry ice so naturally we had to conduct some experiments with it. Or really just play with it. We did find this idea on line.

Today I got to go along with Aeneas's class to the Discovery Museum for a morning of science. They learned all about the sun and how it helps plants to grow. Played a game and then got to pretend being scientists using their observation skills. The kids were so cute and such good little scientists. They had lunch and got to play in the museum afterward.

We were lucky that our good buddy Ryan's class came along with us.
Ryan, Aeneas, Elias and Kadin

Now which of these things require the sun to grow?
Check this out?!?
Aeneas's little buddy Elias
The Discovery Museum does a terrific job with school groups and the Mad Scientists were awesome with the kids!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bluegrass in the Schools

There is a National organization called Bluegrass in the Schools that grants money to communities with an interest to further the understanding and exposure of bluegrass music to school kids. Our Durango Bluegrass Meltdown organizes the grant in our town every year in conjunction with the festival and asks for local bands to play in most of the area schools. We were asked to perform this year and allowed us to choose which school to play at. Of course we showed up at Patrick and Aeneas's school. 

We played some traditional bluegrass and folk, introduced ourselves along with our instruments, gave them samples of each of them and a history on how they fit into the bluegrass music genre. As soon as the first notes were played, they were clapping to the beat. I wasn't prepared for the shift in the tempo with throngs of clapping children. It was a challenge but we managed to hold it together. The kids seemed to love it.

The boys were talking about it all week leading up to the performance and just saying hello to their classes left them all wide eyed and excited. It was so fun!

We will be playing for the Ignacio schools April 22nd!

The Venus Fly Trap

Aeneas has been working on a research project to go along with his "Ready Set Grow" unit in Kindergarten. He chose to research the Venus fly trap. He made a list of questions that he wanted to know the answers to, we researched them online and in books and then he wrote a paper about his plant and all the interesting facts he learned about it. We then constructed a little display around the Venus Fly Trap.

We weren't the first family to be given this assignment. I found this blog and got some great ideas about how to craft a Venus Fly Trap out of bottle caps. We set to work painting the pieces, the box, mixing salt dough (and coloring it swamp colored!) for the bottom and forming little flies with Sculpy clay. We then painted the flies and glued everything together. He then arranged all his fly traps in the dough and stuck in some extra swap grass that I got from the floral section at the store. I handled the glue gun but other than that, I simply directed the whole thing and he executed. He even thought to paint the flies eyes red!

All of the kids painted "Explorer Hats" and wore them any time they were working on their projects. They were all very proud of their hats. His class hosted an open house where you could go around to listen to each of the kids give a presentation about their research project and read their papers.

Venus Fly Traps can eat whole frogs and caterpillars and grow in the swaps around Deda's house!

Here are his bottle cap traps up close!

And the creepy fly buzzing around from a fishing line.

Monday, April 1, 2013


An Easter Celebration.

 The older kids had to go on a scavenger hunt for their eggs. 

We have to what?!?

Every younger kid's basket had a number and they could only pick up the eggs with their number on it. They were a little miffed that they had to actually "work" for their eggs. Heaven forbid!

A sweet little old lady from church gives the boys treats (like a lb of solid chocolate and a lb of jelly beans) on Easter. It's the sweetest thing. They boys love it and I'm kind of like, "Whoa!" 

 Kids played outside while the adults feasted on Broiled Teryaki Salmon over mixed greens with Homemade Carrot Ginger dressing (courtesy of Justin) and Mimosas (courtesy of Kristen).

Happy Easter!