The kids have started a “paper factory” in our process table on top of the broken crayon pieces. Little J takes apart a small notebook and fills the bin.
They spend an afternoon writing messages, stuffing envelopes and playing with the mail box.
We have a special package to send over to NH…a very cool pair of converse for Cousin J.
The boys take charge of the project of wrapping, addressing and delivering the package. They write Cousin J’s name all over the paper we wrap the shoe box in.
We happily deliver it to the swift, trustworthy post people.
The kids have been curious about how the mail works lately with all the holiday cards being sent out and received. Little J has also shown great passion in writing, “invitations” and “messages” on little scraps of paper. These scraps of paper are found all over the house. We went out to dinner and he was handing them out to everyone around us. With Valentine’s Day soon upon us, I thought it would be a great project to build a mailbox with the family.
I am very inspired by a cardboard post from ikatbag.
We find a big cardboard box in the garage and cut it apart to get lots of options for large flat pieces. Choosing a long strip of cardboard, we start to draw up a really simple plan.
Big K is the master architect on this project. The kids and I watch and help. He cuts strips that don’t go all the way through the cardboard, allowing the cardboard to bend and look more like the top of a real big blue Post Office mail box.
My job is to pretty much cover everything with packing tape, the top, the edges and the seams.
We get the basic shape. Big K wishes he could think and work on this on his own, so we get it “just right.” I reassure him that getting it just right wasn’t the important part of the project. It’s Sunday and we know he will be called into to inspect snow removal any minute. We just want to do something fun as a family before he has to leave, and have something fun to play with while he’s gone.
Little J traces the shape of the sides using a marker. We cut it out with utility knife and tape it to the sides.
Big K cuts out a slot on the top of the mailbox, and cuts out a square door at the side. He screws a pieces of wood to the inside of the door so he can attach a handle with screws.
I take out all the envelopes I’ve been hoarding for this project, from junk mail and holidays. The kids have fun stuffing envelopes with “invitations and messages.” They insert the envelopes into the mailbox. We are starting to get ourselves ready to make and deliver our own Valentine messages.
We have some great Valentine books to read that will compliment the mailbox well.
Little Bear’s Valentine by Else Holmelund Minarik
Valentine’s Day by Anne Rockwell
The Best Thing about Valentines by Eleanor Hudson
The Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
When a hand first picked up a rock to crack open nuts, the hammer, man’s first tool, was born. Used in virtually every trade, hammers have evolved over the millennia to answer hundreds of different uses.
I set up a hammering station in the tool workshop.
The boys have discovered the creative uses of Styrofoam with hammers and nails.
We have lots of Styrofoam saved up from Christmas gift packaging…we also find mountains of it at the recycle center.
In the past we’ve used real nails and hammers with Styrofoam.
We also use a foam pound a pattern set, but you don’t need this toy to hammer with Styrofoam. You can use small nails, a regular hammer and Styrofoam.
While the pound “by pattern” is a great idea and will be fun sometimes, especially if they get to make up their own patterns, the boys don’t want to follow a pattern at this time.
I find some black play dough on sale on a clearance shelf and buy it to build roads, which is the fasted way to my boys’ hearts. It keeps their minds and hands busy so I can tackle a load of laundry or a sink full of dishes.
~Inspired by sassysanity’s linseed filled black and yellow play dough roads.
“Those are rumble strips, they make a loud noise that wake you up if you’re sleeping in the car.
That’s a rumble strip that will explode you to England.
Are you okay, yeah.
Whee Whoo Whee Whoo
Look, the road is broken right here. It sploded in half.
The super hero that fixes roads his here. Don’t worry.
Something crashed him and he tipped over.
I didn’t make him fall over…I wonder what.
The explosion maker did it, bad guys make the explosion.
That put you in the dungeon, don’t do that.
That was scary.
They’re flipping around. They went to England and they’re slipping around when they weren’t looking.
He made the road so bad it split in half, he made a huge humungous mess.
A truck is getting chased by a huge boulder that’s making the road move and crush up.
Look at the police officer. He needs to get the police officer out, he needs everyone’s help.
Everyone can get stuck and the road can fold up like that. Everyone has to jump over the road now.
I’m stuck in the mud…help me!
Don’t worry, this car has a special power to break play dough.
Okay, do the best you can.”
Little J asks for snow muffins for breakfast and I amuse him by saying, “okay.”
We take out every interesting muffin pan we own and fill them with water outside on the snowy back porch which is like a blank canvas after a dusting of snow the night before. I stay inside, hang out next to the slider, so I can keep refilling and handing back the little water pitchers they use to fill the muffin pans.
When they are done filling the muffin pans with water, I hand them each a little bottle of food coloring to color the water.
Little J thinks it will take 22 minutes for the water to turn to ice.
Friend A thinks it will turn to ice right away because it’s so cold out. He also reminds us that rain turns to snow when it’s cold and that the water might turn to snow. While they’re rounding up the activity, we notice that the top of the water is already freezing. It took probably, almost exactly, 22 minutes to start turning to ice. My guess was that it would take a lot longer.
It is Friday night and we’re looking for something a little special to do,
so we stack some small branches in the bon fire pit and light it up.
The kids snow shoe and sled and snowboard around the back yard and some friends join us.
It was a perfect end to the work week.
I tell the kids today that I’m brewing a potion that helps us stay healthy.
They are intrigued, but not for long. The stink of the herbs simmering scares them all the way upstairs to the bunk beds. Friend C is gagging and trying to spit out the taste!
I buy a little Elderberry Elixir kit from the local Herbal Apothecary. The herbs, honey and two glass pint jars were $30. I don’t recognize many of the herbs that come in the sack of goodies, but I follow the directions and make 2 pints of elderberry syrup to use this winter. I will give it a try with the kids too, but after the way they reacted to the smell, I’m not so sure getting them to try the elderberry “potion” will work.
7 cups water
1 cup dried Elderberries, antiviral, immune enhancing
4 medium slices Astragalus Tongues, immune enhancing, adaptogen (adaptogen, I have to look up in the dictionary…describes remedies that increase the resistance of organisms to stress)
6 pieces Fo-Ti, adrenals, blood, kidney
1 ounce dried Rosehips, easily assimilated source of vitamin c
1/4 ounce dried nettles, upper respiratory allergies, adaptogen
1- 2 cups of honey, antibacterial, antiviral, immune enhancer
Bring water to boil in an enamel or stainless steel pot. Add Elderberries, Astragulus, To-Ti, and Rosehips. Stir, cover and simmer for 35 minutes on a very low heat. Add Nettles and simmer for another 7 minutes. Turn off heat and mash the berries in the pan. Strain a few times. While still warm, add honey. Bottle and refrigerate. Take daily as a supplement throughout the winter season. Adults take 2 tsp daily.
I added a teaspoon to my ginger tea this evening and it’s great.
When I was a little girl, Papa D would take me to the athletic fields down the street, and we would shoot off rockets.
Big K also fondly remembers building and launching rockets when he was a kid.
We build a rocket with the boys and shoot them off with Papa D.
They lose them in the trees, oops.
Little J and K help to count backwards and are in charge of the button to launch the rocket,
pressing it from a safe distance.
Little K says he wants to be an “airport” when he grows up:
airport = person that drives a rocket = astronaut
The kids have a blast using a stomp rocket. We take turns stomping as hard as we can to see who can get a rocket the highest…until we get all three rockets stuck in the trees.
We have to throw balls at the grabby branches to get them down,
but we even get the balls stuck up there.
We climb the trees and shake everything down like monkeys.
I’m seeing this rocket theme repeated on many levels.
Little J builds a structure with Mega Blocks and says it’s a launch pad.
“It shoots up bad guys into outer space. It fits a lot of bad guys.”
He can’t press the mega block ignition button and make the rocket blast off at the same time the way he would like, so he asks me for some help and I get a turn to press the button.
Mid January, the winter cold and precipitation is now starting to reach Massachusetts. Not quite an inch of snow landed in our yards overnight and we head out to the hills at the state park after school to see if we can catch any sweet sled rides. By the time we get there, the hills are used up and have been rained on for a couple of hours.
We walk to the where the lake meets the land, the water has frozen a bit, and we explore the edge. I give a very serious warning about going any further than the edge…something like, “I don’t want to have to jump in that freezing cold water to save you if you fall through.”
The kids crunch and stomp and slide on the ice, breaking away pieces, seeing bubbles shift underneath the thicker parts and hearing the gurgles and cracks.
From a distance, we watch a family work away at clearing a large area of snow off a shallow wetland area that has completely frozen over. It looks to us like they are prepping the ice for skating or hockey. The teenage boys move gracefully over the ice with speed and show off by skating backwards and stopping with a side slide. The boys are very impressed.
The family leaves and the kids want to test the ice. I know it’s safe, so I tell them to shuffle their feet at first to find their “ice feet.” Running and sliding quickly followed. By the end of this exploration with ice, we are all soaked through and ready for some wood stove warmth and tea.
Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!
We bring the boys bowling for the first time last weekend and they love it!
We go to an alley that has duck pin bowling and guards for the gutters.
The biggest challenge is waiting for turns and pinched fingers. Little K also drops a ball on his foot and still has a black and blue under his big toe nail a week later. I somehow managed to get gutter balls, even with the guards in place, go figure.
Besides overcoming the small injuries that go along with trying a new physical activity, the kids learn to look for their name on the digital screen above our lanes as a cue for turns, they have loads of fun and fall in love with bowling.
I think Little J’s favorite part is watching the balls come back up and arranging them as they do, helps to pass the time while waiting for his next turn.
The next day Little K asks to go “balling” again.
They’ve been asking to go back every day since. I think it was a hit.