Chronicles of the O'Brien Family Adventures...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Passion Fair

The kids were eager to present at HLSA's Passion Fair this year. It's like a science fair, except kids can present anything they want - science experiments, beloved collections, favorite hobbies, whatever!

Summer chose to present her rock collection while Aidan wanted to share his work on Minecraft animations. To prepare, Summer organized and labeled her rocks (performing some experiments/tests to discern the identity of a few unknowns), while dad helped Aidan put his animations in a loop on the laptop to show and I printed out some images he designed. 

It was a great experience for them to talk with other kids and adults about their interests, answering questions and explaining. We also enjoyed going around to the various other tables and exploring the interests and passions of other kids. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Soap-making with Summer

It's been two years since I've made soap. Incredibly, we've been working through our last bars and still have a few remaining. It was time to make more though - as I'm too spoiled in the deliciousness of handcrafted soaps to stoop to buying it from the grocery store - and Summer was eager to do it with me. 

Sean took Cai out for the day to play at the John Janzen Nature Centre while Summer and I got to work. 

We combined our sodium hydroxide with water outside with masks, gloves and googles safely on. 

Summer helped me measure out our oils to melt and combine. Then once the temperatures were at 100 degrees of both mixtures (lye and oils), we combined them and mixed until achieving trace, then poured! Summer had the fun of adding the fragrance and handfuls of Calendula flowers to the creamy soup, while I added powdered rose hips for their exfoliating action. 

Two days later, both Summer and Aidan were eager to help cut our batch of soap.

It was such a joy to share my knowledge and skill. And now, after a few weeks of curing, we have a new batch of scrumptious smelling soap to keep us deliciously clean for some time to come. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

France: Expanded

Mar 27

We learned the most about France today with reading through this engaging book: Been There, France. The kids were in a flurry of excitement in their desire to visit this amazing country some day! We covered many areas, from local cultures, geography, cuisine and more. 

Apr 2

I can safely say that this has been (for the kids anyway) the favorite cultural meal we've done so far. On reading about the protagonist's breakfast of coissants to dip in hot chocolate in our book about France, the kids instantly wanted to do it. I added some fresh fruit to the mix, for a scrumptious morning breakfast.  

Apr 6

And to finish off, we enjoyed baked Brie with mini toasted baguettes. It was so delicious. I indulged in a glass of wine from France for my adult portion of the snack. Wine and cheese just have to go together. We *are* talking France after all. 

It's been fun! Now we await the release of our new package for our next country. Not having the resources to actually travel, it's amazing just how much we can learn from our own livingrooms. 

And how very delicious it can be. 

Inventions at Brownies

At Brownies, I explored with Summer and the girls famous Canadian inventions. We looked through famous inventions by women as well, before diving into recyclable materials and craft supplies to build ones of our very own. 

It was a messy and fun time. The girls were so creative in their ideas. We had computers and robots and obstacle courses and dog houses come out of the venture, to name just a few. 

When I prepare a meeting for the girls, I feel like it's a lot of work with everything else on my plate. But I wind up having a lot of fun in the end, and so do they. It's especially fun when we all learn something new!

Our intention is to continue with Brownies next year, Summer as a Girl and me as a Leader. This decision may change before fall arrives but I doubt it. It's been a fun year and we've all been making friends. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Herb Fairies: Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is the next herb of study in the Herb Fairies program. It's an amazing herb! A member of the mint family, Melissa Officinalis, has many attributes and uses. 

Lemon Balm is antiviral; an effective remedy combatting viruses, including cold sores, mumps and more. It is a diaphoretic and frebrifuge, helping to break high fevers, while combatting the viruses that lead to them. 

Lemon Balm has a strong effect on the nervous system and is great for dealing with anxiety, nervousness, stress, tension headaches and its effects on the limbic system can help with ADHD. Want to relax? Sip some lemon balm tea or suck on a lemon balm popsicle. 

As a carminative it can help with a sore tummy and can clear strep throat. 

The kids enjoyed the Herb Fairies story and I enjoyed reading them further information in the Lemon Balm issue of the magazine that comes with the program. I will make this my own herb to focus on for the next month. 

We also have a plethora of fun and yummy recipes to explore: from popsicles and lemonades to salves and infusions. So I'm hoping I won't have problems finding some Lemon Balm locally. I'd love to grow it in our backyard! We have some wild mint that grows back there, and being an invasive perrenial, I'd love to establish lemon balm in our garden as well. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Mother Nature has a fabulous sense of humor. After beautiful weather, Ostara/Spring Equinox was arriving with front yards completely clear of snow and an obvious look of spring everywhere with greening grass and awakening weeds. The day prior anyway. We woke up on Ostara morning to a Little League blizzard vortexing and whirling and swirling about. 

I am amused. 

Other then a blizzard, Ostara brought our usual tradition of eggs hidden around the house, filled with seeds to feed the birds. The kids were thrilled with their Ostara baskets as well. 

Cai caught on super quick to both the finding of the eggs and then the emptying them out into a bag of his own bird seed. 

It was so much fun!

Aidan then read to Cai while I made us a breakfast of waffles. 

It was a beautiful day, light and joyous despite the tumbling snowflakes outside. We know they can't last long now. Spring will win and rule the day soon enough. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Passports: France

Next destination, the beautiful country of France!

For our Little Passports package we received a viewer of famous sites in France, along with our usual letter, postcard, stickers and activity sheet. 

It was neat seeing a picture of the Eiffel Tower and remembering that Japan has one too. Our knowledge of the world us building, one country at a time.