Chronicles of the O'Brien Family Adventures...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY Club

I've been in love with for a couple of years now. It's a website that encourages kids to pursue the learning of new skills by helping them earn beautiful badges. It's done by the kids, on their own. Skills include things like: astronomers, weaver, painter, bike mechanic, home builder, entrepreneurs, linguists, graphic designers, solar engineer, pioneers, back-end dev, campers, foragers, gardeners, meme hackers, geneticists, and hundreds more. 

When we first discovered it, we were all equally excited. Aidan got several badges and Summer got one too. Over time though, the interest waned. So I thought of starting a diy club in our homeschool community to keep the interest alive. My goal was to foster friendships and community, while learning cool new skills as a group.

So I did it! After a preliminary month of meetings and endless amounts of group charts (as well as a cancelled initial meeting on account of a snowstorm),we finally had our first meet with the kids. It was at the beginning of December and a few of our families couldn't make it, so our group was small for the day but perfect.

The kids worked on the Club Member Badge. To earn a badge, each kid needs to fulfill three challenges within it. For this one I had chosen: 
1. Decide on a club name. 
2. Create a club flag. 
3. Prepare food to share with the club. 

Summer and Aidan chose to make cookies to bring to the club the morning of the meeting. 

Our club meeting began with sledding, as we waited for everyone to arrive. It was over a good hour of outdoor fun. Coming in, we gathered to share in the food the kids had prepared for the day. It was a scrumptious feast!

After introductions, the kids began brainstorming name ideas. They discussed everyone's thoughts, voted when an agreement needed to be found, and tried to incorporate something in the name for everyone. They chose to be: the ETEW's - the Edmonton Tiger Eye Warriors. 

Once the name was decided, the kids sketched out flag ideas and began working together on it. 

The kids worked really well as a group and had a lot of fun. Once finished, they were very proud of their club flag!

It was a great start to what I hope will be a wonderful club. We will meet once a month, working on a new skill each time, as chosen by the hosting family. 

Next up? In January it looks like the kids will work on the Magician badge. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Little Passports: China

Opening up our latest Little Passport package, we were greeted by China. Aidan read the letter to us, we looked at the photo of the Great Wall of China and read a bit about the Chinese zodiac. We all knew our signs already but it was fun reading about the traits of each one. 

At supper, Summer ate her supper with the enclosed chop sticks and stuck with her attempts to learn for the next week. We did our usual of watching a movie about life in China from a kids perspective, and took out library books. 

We completed our look at China with a feast of Chinese food for my birthday. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Let's Grow at the Muttart

The Muttart Conservatory was our destination this evening for our Brownies group; a field trip - called Let's Grow - organized by me! We explored the various biomes by flashlight, under the glow of the evening colored lights that bring a new dimension to the Muttart experience. 

We discussed the various methods plants used to defend themselves and ensure their survival. We met various plants from the differing climates and learned about the requirements for plant life to grow. Following a few fun games and further exploration, we ended our evening with the girls planting Coleus tropical plants to bring home. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Physics: Finale!

Our last experiments with our Physics kit included water rockets and baking soda vinegar rockets. 

The water rockets we didn't repeat, as it was the exact same thing we enjoyed doing - repeatedly - last weekend at the Dark Sky Festival in Jasper. So we moved straight on to the baking soda/vinegar one. It worked, as in the reaction happened, but it didn't work so well in that I had trouble setting up the rocket fast enough so it powered up into the sky instead of my hand. We tried twice and enjoyed the explosive reaction.

The last experiment involved spinning a bucket of water upside down. The kids were amazed to see the water stay put in the bucket and we discussed the reasoning for it (although Summer was bucketly challenged and kept throwing it before making a complete rotation when she tried it. She got a little wet). 

We've had a good exploration of the laws of thermodynamics through this kit. To finish it off, we watched an awesome YouTube video examining one of our initial questions through watching a bowling ball and feather fall together both normally and then in a near perfect vacuum. This led to a fun discussion (and demonstration) on the nature of gravity and the fabric of space-time. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Winter's Promise

As I turn on my vehicle's heated seat I feel a thrill with the promise of winter close at hand. In truth I love winter even though it gets long, even though it gets tedious, even though it's darn right cold. Winter is the time of coziness, of comfort and sleeping dreams. I love to hibernate in the winter. I love to dream, to rest and to simply be, watching the peace of falling snow.

Winter is not my favorite season but I love it nonetheless. It's beautiful and glorious and peaceful and simply a wonderful time to exist.

I think I might love winter a little less if I didn't have heated seats in my vehicle, not to mention central heating. And I might love it a little more if I had a fireplace in my home. Regardless it is fun to play in the snow. It is fun to catch snowflakes on your tongue, make snow angels, and race down hills. Mostly I must admit, I love to appreciate winter from the comfort of indoors and through windows and nestled under thick fleecey blankets with a book and a hot cup of tea or chocolate close at hand. 

Halloween is finally over. It's a time I enjoy; I love the festivities. I love honoring our ancestors. But I always love taking those decorations down, as I did today. I love cleaning the slate. I love starting new; getting ready for the coming of my favorite holiday - Yule, with the lights and the music and the joy that's positively everywhere. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Night at the Dinosaur Museum

Sleeping over at a dinosaur museum is as cool and fun as it sounds. That's exactly what Summer and I did this weekend with our Brownie group at the Tyrell museum in Drumheller.

We enjoyed the three and a half hour trip on a coach bus we had rented for the occasion. It was a comfortable ride with an on board toilet and movies (we appropriately watched Night at the Museum on the way down). We left at 3 pm and arrived in the Badlands late evening. We set up our sleeping bags in the museum and proceeded to enjoy the nighttime programming. 

The girls painted and strung dinosaur pendants for our first activity. Summer and her friend made friendship pendants by choosing to make them exactly the same. 

Then we listened to a presentation about reptiles and enjoyed holding and meeting a boa constrictor. It looked so tiny compared to my sister's five foot long Python! 

Our next activity was a guided tour of the museum by flashlight. This was epically awesome. 

Lastly, the girls learned about archeological digs and tried their hand at excavating real dinosaur bones from plaster with the techniques taught to them. 

Following a snack, we were all more than ready for bed. Lights were turned off by 11 pm and everyone quickly fell asleep. My favorite time was lying in my sleeping bag, with the silhouette of dino's around me, reading my book by a small light. It was so cozy and fun. And it was much cooler than I thought it would be to go to sleep amongst the bones of the dinosaurs. It was epically cool. 

The view directly above me. 

The view across from me, when I laid on my side. 

In the morning, we watched a movie together after a hot breakfast, then had a couple of hours to explore the museum on our own before lunch and boarding our bus. 

The trip was designed as a mother/daughter adventure. But my Summer had little to do with me for the trip; she was too busy with her friends. This was a happy thing and exactly as it should be for my growing up girl. Bittersweet is a good description of the feeling: it's sad to say goodbye to that little girl in my lap but exciting to see the confident social butterfly emerge as my daughter approaches the preteen years. I enjoyed watching her have a blast and develop friendships. 

The weekend was phenomenal and loads of fun for us all. Memories made. Adventures had. Epic fun. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween and Samhain Too

Halloween is a favorite time of year for our family - after Yule. We enjoy putting up our decorations with our Halloween music playing, we enjoy finding costumes, attending parties, the Haunted Pumpkin Festival, carving pumpkins, making pumpkin pies, our Feast of the Dead and of course trick or treating.

Summer and Aidan both enjoyed Halloween parties with their Brownies and Scouts group. Aidan even won a contest with his Ninja costume. At Summer's, she dazzled as a Greek goddess. Although she was flabbergasted that a few of her Brownie friends had no clue what a Greek goddess was. 

We dressed up for Cai's Music Together class, along with Games Day (which we brought a gruesome treat to as well). 

It was especially fun carving pumpkins with Cai this year. He got right into it and was eager to design his creation. 

I must say the carving is my favorite part of this holiday. I love the music, the seed roasting and watching everyone's creations unfold. 

The 31st brought decent weather. Following our annual Samhain tradition of the Feast of the Dead, a dinner where we invite the spirits of our ancestors and departed to join us in thanks, we ventured out!

It was Cai's first year trick or treating. He was quite excited, as he didn't quite "get" what this Halloween thing - anticipated with such excitement - was all about. But he already new the drill and shouted out as loud as any of the kids. After a block, we joined up with one of Summer's friends from Brownies and stayed out until nearly 9 pm. After, the kids enjoyed sorting through their treasures and sampling and trading the goods. 

As much as I enjoy setting up our decorations, I enjoy taking them down again: the clean slate, the order restored. I eagerly await decorating for Yule, my absolute favorite season; especially as we bought a brand new tree on sale - after twenty years with our last tree, the tree my mom had bought me for a birthday present the year I left home. Pictures to follow when we set it up!