Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 3-9, 2014- Candlemas, Maple Candy, Ukuleles, and Early Valentines!

Due to a very un-fun, long lasting cold, we missed Candlemas. Would I let that deter our plans to celebrate it? No! Slightly delay, yes, but once everyone was better, we had some fun! 

We started our lesson with circle time as we always do, but this day was the first day of the new February verses. Rainbow Girl and I both love new songs, poems, and verses. 

We ordered a beeswax candle rolling kit  from a lovely mama on Etsy in mid-January. I am so glad that I did because it was a great kit. I have done beeswax rolling before and the wax was dry and brittle. This kit had very nice, pliable wax and it was very easy for the kids to roll. Next time I will order more so that we can cut out shapes to decorate the candles.

After we rolled the candles, I put them into part of our advent spiral and lit them. As I lit them, we recited a poem that I found on Pinterest. I was sadly unable to find a source to give credit to, but here it is. 

Candlemas Poem
Candle candle burning bright,
Winter's halfway done tonight.
With a-glowing, we are knowing,
Spring will come again.

With the candles lit, we brought out our lesson books and drew pictures of the candles.

The next day, we had a very special visitor! One of my very long time friends welcomed her second child, a son, a couple months ago. While both of my children were thrilled to see him, Sugar Bear was extra enamored. He asked almost right away if he could hold him. It is exciting to see him so interested in babies. :) 

In the fall of 2012, I purchased GoldieBlox during their very successful Kickstarter campaign. (Along with 5, 519 other families!) Goldie Blox has a great mission statement. 

"At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls' strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math...and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they've been considered "boys' toys". By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.

We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way."

-GoldieBlox Website

We have had it out a few times since we received it, but Sugar Bear was very destructive and would just throw the pieces. Recently, he has begun to realize that he can do lots of fun big-boy things if he is kind to the toys. 

GoldieBlox has become quite the favorite around here! In a real effort to include Sugar Bear, we generally do not follow the story or suggestions in "how" to build the machines. When Rainbow Girl plays with it on her own, she does occasionally use the story. When it is the two of them, they work together to set up the machine and take turns cranking the ribbon around the simple belt drive. Once they are bored with it, they take it apart, build a new machine, and crank again! 

I have read many mixed reviews on this product all over the internet. Many question the quality of the product and pieces. We personally love it. I am very picky about toy materials and don't bring plastic into our home often. all of the pieces are very well made and fit together beautiful. No cheap-o fabrication here! They can spend a very long time playing with this great game without loosing interest.

I had never made maple candy before. Truth be told, I had not even heard of maple candy until this last winter season. After learning about it, I told myself that we would give it a try. Finally, a day came that I had the bravery to try and attempt it!

Since I have never done this before, and maple syrup isn't cheap, I decided to do a small batch. 

1. Pour one cup of 100% maple syrup into a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
2. Bring to boil and boil until it reaches 235 degrees F with a candy thermometer.
3. Remove from heat and cool to 175 degrees F, without stirring, about 10 minutes.
4. Stir the mixture rapidly about 5 minutes until it becomes thick and creamy.
5. Pour into molds.

There is a definitely learning curve in making these! I obviously did not stir it quite enough before pouring into the molds. I started pouring in the mold on the upper right- you can see how dark the candy still is. As I took spoonfuls out to fill the mold (consequentially stirring it a bit), the candy began to take a lighter color and harden a bit. Eventually, it hardened so much that I could no longer squish it into the mold. (Boy were those nubs of candy yummy though.)

Girl Scouts Mid-Year Award Ceremony

While Rainbow Girl is in Spanish class on Fridays, Sugar Bear and I have made a tradition of going and walking around Target. My favorite part is checking out the clearance items. :) Sometimes we find something, sometimes we don't. This time, we found a delightful gem, ukeleles to paint! 

That afternoon, we had a wonderful time customizing the ukes with the paint provided in the kit. Rainbow Girl used the provided stencil stickers to paint her name on one side of hers, while Sugar Bear went all abstract. 

RG working on her test prep book. She is quite enjoying it.

The next morning, we finished the ukes with beeswax and had a delightful concert in the living room for quite some time.

A few weeks ago we made Valentine cards to send away to our Waldorf swap friends. On Saturday, we received a special package from our friends. After some discussion, we all decided to open them that night instead of waiting for Valentine's Day. (We had Valentine's activities planned for the whole week!) The Valentines that we received were so very special. The children in our group worked so hard to create some beautiful things!

Rainbow Girl decided that we should use the cards as decorations. The tissue paper hearts are on our front windows and she taped the remaining cards on their bedroom doors.

We are quite lucky to be connected to such a wonderful, talented community of families. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January 27- February 2, 2014- Four Inches of Snow...and T-Shirt Weather

This week, Sugar Bear worked on mastering some advanced "yoga" moves. He was very pleased to be able to balance on his head and lift his arms up without falling over- occasionally he would do an accidental flip, and that was hysterical. I mean, when's the last time you did an accidental flip?

After we retold our Super Sam story of the week from our curriculum using figures, Rainbow Girl took Super Sam to the farm to play with the animals. He had conversations with the different animals and then played a balance game with them. 

The following morning, Rainbow Girl and I started working on her new workbook. We are generally not workbook people, but this is the first year that I have to submit a standardized test to the state showing Rainbow Girl's progress. This workbook is a first grade test prep book for the test that she will be taking. She has had a delightful time working on it, and much to my delight has had very little trouble with any of the topics. 

We do lots of math throughout the day, every day, but very rarely will she see problems written out as tests write them out. (2 + 7 = ) I was worried how she would deal with that, but before prepping her, I wanted to see what she would do. She absolutely understood the problems and came up with the answers with very little difficulty. 

The next topic she worked on was reading comprehension. Every week we read a story in our curriculum, and discuss and retell the story throughout the week. So, in theory, we have been working on reading comprehension, but just like the math, I was not sure how she would deal with it in a standardized test format. Once again, she did great.

That day and overnight we accumulated four inches of snow! I know, not a lot for many people, but a lot for around here. After breakfast, we had a treat of "snow cream" with our strawberries. 

Vegan Snow Cream
4 cups of fresh untouched snow
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup sugar
splash of vanilla extract

It was delicious, and a very special way to have our morning snack.

In the afternoon when the temperature rose above wicked cold, we went outside to play. Paka (my dad) even came over to play.

That night, Rainbow Girl had a fever. This was the beginning of the cold that Sugar Bear is still working on getting over a week later.

A couple of days later, all the now was gone and it was 64 degrees outside. We took advantage and spent a few hours outside. Sugar Bear picked quite a large stick as a flag for his sand castle. Who am I to tell him that his flag of choice was too big?

"Moooooooooom! Please stop taking pictures!!!"
(Also, poor guy had a fever at the time.)


While Rainbow Girl got over her fever very quickly, Sugar Bear's lingered and his cough just got worse and worse. We ended up having to miss our co op's Candlemas/Brighid celebration that we had all been very much looking forward to. They had a spiral walk and floating lanterns. We decided to celebrate Candlemas in the next week when everyone was feeling better.