31 January 2011

Popcorn for breakfast

William likes loud things. Our air popper is loud, ergo William likes it. It helps that he's crazy about popcorn and gets to throw nutritional yeast on by the fistful. But I was still surprised when he insisted on having it for breakfast. I offered him banana bread, which he loves and would more aptly be called banana cake. I offered him toast, with butter, and jam. I offered him cereal like big sister. With blueberries on top. Blueberries plain. No, it had to be popcorn. For breakfast.

 So, we popped a big bowl together and he was so happy that he ate it by the fistful.

You didn't believe me about eating it by the fistful until you saw it for yourself, right? At least he also ate a big bowl of grapes with his big bowl of popcorn and washed it down with milk.

"Hey, what can I say? I'm quite the guy!"

30 January 2011

Worm houses

Last night I read about a farming family and one of the many things they do to promote soil health is vermicomposting. I've considered getting worms many times before but kept putting it off until my littlest rascal is older. Today though, something clicked and I ordered my worms and we constructed our worm houses. As is often the case, it turned out to be a family affair.

Savannah learned how to use an electric drill with the impressive 1/2" drill bit. We drilled holes on the bottoms of two 12 gallon containers for aeration and drainage of any excess water. Excess water will be caught in a second container below, that is intact.

Ever wonder what happens to all those manuscripts I write and work on? If they are lucky enough to get printed, they end up shredded and in the spring get added to my compost pile. Kind of neat that my work feeds my garden too.

The paper will act as bedding for the red wigglers, a tiny but voracious worm, that will occupy their new digs when they arrive on Tuesday. The paper is kept moist for them and a bit of organic soil and food scraps are added daily.

My help gets a little exuberant with the worm bedding! At least there's an indoor gardening project we can do in the dead of winter that's fun.

I think William is pretty proud of his indoor farming project!

Here's one of the double set of bins (we made two sets of worm houses); the whole bin sits on the bottom, the bin with the 1/2" holes drilled into the bottom sits on top of it. There are also holes at the top for air circulation right beneath the lid. Eventually, we will place a third bin with holes drilled in it over this one for two weeks when it's time to use the worm castings. The worms crawl up through the holes in the bottom of the floor to the new food available in the top bin. Our worm houses were constructed with information from this website and our 2,000 red wiggler worms were ordered on sale here, a Pennsylvania company.

We made two sets of wiggler homes, and plan to house about a thousand in each. The first vericomposter is affectionately named the "Vermestate" and the second is the "Wormcome Inn". We're not the only ones who named their worm houses, right? Bring on the castings! I can't wait to use them in the garden.

29 January 2011

Blue elephant's debut

Savannah entered the Powder Puff Derby this year, an activity I had intended to be a daddy-daughter event, but since Daddy is in Chile and couldn't be in two places at once, it was more of a mother-daughter event. And then when I needed help with some wood working tools to countersink her weight on the bottom of the car, and Savannah used craft supplies to decorate it given to her by another neighbor, and William inspired the design, and another neighbor helped me entertain William during the race, it turned out to be more of a neighborhood-family event.

Last year's photo with her pink race car and third place trophy.
Anyway, Savannah's goal was to apply what she learned last year to try to beat her finish of bronze or third place in her age class. Because she's been sick, she designed her car just two days ago and finished it last night. She calls her car Blue Elephant. Honestly, I don't know where she comes up with these things.

Savannah still looks pallid and puffy since she's recovering from a viral illness.
Hopefully you can see the actual blue elephant on her car. It's from, I think, an old Alexander Henry fabric in my stash that she mod podged on over the watercolor markers that her art teacher gave her.

At the race, Savannah sets her car in the starting block in the assigned lane. They are good about rotating lanes and averaging the times so it's more fair.

Here's Savannah's car in the first lane. On the side the lettering says "Blue Elephant".

Guess who won first place in her class this year and got to progress to the overall finals? That's right, Miss Savannah and her Blue Elephant. In the finals round she came in seventh and had an axle problem that we hope to improve on for next year's derby. I wonder what design she'll come up with next year.

Our happy little Daisy with Blue Elephant and her first place trophy in front of the race track. Racing day is so much fun!

05 January 2011


One of the best things to me about homeschooling is that when my child has a new interest, we can explore it fully. Savannah's latest obsession is building and learning about circuitry, so we've been doing it for three days.

As you can probably tell from the photo, it makes her very happy. Deliriously happy! Perhaps because it ties into her goal of learning how to build robots that wash the dishes and clean up after people so she can build them and make loads of money (her dream, not my dream for her).

So far she's built alarms, fans, lights and learned how light switches work. She's learned that metals that conduct electricity such as paperclips can be used to complete a circuit and that electricity can only pass in one direction through an LED. She's also learned the difference between building in parallel versus in a series. (By the way, I should mention here that I have also learned much of this as we go along.)

And that water also conducts electricity and can be used to complete a circuit. (Don't worry it was a safe setup.)

"Mom, just tell me, what happens when I put the wires in the water."

"If I told you, you wouldn't remember, but if you do the experiment yourself, you will never forget."

Perhaps we have a budding scientist on our hands!
 With her eager assistant, William. William "helps" by clapping when her circuits work out as planned and to show her appreciation, Savannah often replaces the slide switch for the button switch so William can turn it off and on.

Savannah has fun building a flying saucer (a fan blade that launches into the air).
William made a few discoveries of his own. He found out that it may be easier to try on someone else's boots, if they have bigger feet, but that wearing one boot forward and one backward, doesn't make for easy walking.
He also discovered that while it may seem like a good idea to climb into the newspaper and kindling box, it may not be as easy to get out as it was to get in.

I guess some people just have to learn things the hard way.