Friday, July 31, 2009

Harry Potter Art Day: Wizarding School: Potions

We decided to make Art Day Harry Potter themed in honor of the new movie and because the moms in the group love Harry Potter (and the kids a little bit too). So we had Wizard School and did a potions class. First, we tried out baking soda and vinegar together with a bit of food coloring, but the children were underwhelmed. I guess they just see us clean often enough that it's no big deal. The reactions were too quick to get photos of too. Or I was too busy hovering and over-explaining in my control-freakish way.
Then we mixed some corn starch and food coloring and water, which only Bastian played much with.
Finally, everyone was thoroughly impressed with the slime recipe.
1 qt. of water

1/4 cup Borax

1 Cup Elmer's glue

1 Cup water

In 2 separate containers: Disolve the Borax in 1 qt. water. Dissolve the glue in 1 Cup water.

Mix 2T Borax solution with 6 T glue solution. (Any 1:3 amount will work, of course.)

If you want to make different colors, add food coloring to the glue mixture. You can save this in a baggie.

City Freshed

I've become terrible at updating the blog as we've just been so incredibly busy doing things. So, here's some more photos.

City Fresh on Tuesday the 28th had funky, long peppers, with much confusion about the five medium hots since they came from two farms resulting in four from one farm that were long and skinny plus one from another farm that were normal and fat. Then the singular sweet banana pepper, which looked incredibly similar to the other two, but was, in fact, not. Counting all that out at distribution was a hoot.
And the kids found a cicada.
And stared and stared at it.

Another Hike

Nothing like walking three-and-a-half miles after protesting in the hot sun.

Ice cream after made up for any ill will about all the heat and outdoorsness.

Silent Public Protest

We went to a protest outside of the Jobs & Family Services building downtown to express concern over the county's tardiness in releasing federal funds earmarked to benefit HIV/AIDS patients with a housing stipend. The money has been late every year for a decade. This year, the money had still not been released after 5 months and the clients of AIDS Taskforce, who issues the money, were facing evictions and homelessness.

The AIDS Taskforce organizers had lined the sidewalk with giant cardboard boxes with eviction notices attached. The visual representation was jarring for most people. As the building has a constant stream of employees and clients entering and exiting, many many folks stopped to ask what was going on and get a flier. In the time we were there, two separate people contacted or promised to contact their colleagues to ensure that movement was made.
By the end of the week (the protest was Monday), I received notice that AIDS Taskforce had received checks and begun to issue the funds to the landlords threatening their clients with eviction. For folks already engaged in tremendous struggle to have to deal with added fear and worry due solely to the inadequacies of bureaucracy is disheartening and depressing, though I'm sure not at all uncommon.

So our action worked! Plus the kids got to play in a box.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Long Day, Feelin' Good

I love summer. I love that it doesn't take long to get out the door. I love that it doesn't take much to get dressed. I love that the kids can mostly do it themselves. I love that Bastian is suddenly way older than he was just a few months ago and is so much more able to be independent. I love that the kids listen, uh, better-ish, and that I feel more relaxed about getting them out and about. Is it their ages? Is it the weather? Honestly, I wish the weather would be hotter. We've had entirely too much rain and not nearly enough 85-degree days like I like.

Today it only threatened to rain a little bit, for a change, which made for a lovely afternoon for getting out and about. First, we stopped at a garage sale and scored some Halloween supplies and a lion costume. Next, we headed to Lee Road and the kids insisted on going into the coffee shop there, where I happened to know one employee and one customer. Aleks drew them pictures, as he's done at both the other Phoenix coffee shops he's visited, where they are hung up and he has become somewhat famous.

In fact, one night early in the summer, I went to a girl night thing where I didn't know hardly anyone. At the end, I bought a couple of handmade note cards from a girl, but felt that the money wasn't adequate, so I tore out a picture Aleks had drawn in my notebook and gave it to her as a trade (it was probably one of my all-time favorites and she promised to scan it for me). My friend HQ who was there saw the drawing and began to talk about Aleks' art and how great it is.

Then squeals burst from two or three of the other girls: they said, "You're Aleks' mom?!? The Aleks?!? Why didn't you say that to begin with!"

They had all seen and greatly admired Aleks' work that hangs in the coffee shop on Coventry. What's amazing is that these girls are all art students (or former art students) who major in drawing. And they love Aleks' work. He thinks that's pretty great.

Just the other day, I got this message from a local mama:
i remember you mentioning your littles' fantastic artwork having a prime spot at the "snow spider birthday party" the work of your little man? because either way, i definitely admired it over a few shots of espresso this evening.

Heck yes! Aleks is FAMOUS! Now to start up a Cafe Press store for him...

While Aleks drew and explained at length about Blue Whales and Evil Creatures and all manner of snakes, Bastian, hopped up on cocoa, spun upside down on the couch.

We took our leave of Phoenix and walked to the library to see the Tri-C Orchestra play for free. I've been wanting to take the kids to see an orchestra, but know they'd get bored rather quickly. This was a nice, free opportunity to interest them in live music. The group played a lot of Duke Ellington at one point. We just stayed for two songs, then explored the library a bit (we normally go to a smaller branch).
Afterward, we grabbed some lunch, dropped our leftovers at home and went on a hike at Shaker Lakes. I seem to require a lot of photos to describe our day there.
Bastian has a tendency to try to go into the marsh.

The cattails in yet a different state...
As it turns out, the cattails are the wrong variety and the Nature Center is making moves to slowly restore the marsh to its natural state.
Turns out, these are mostly invasive species of plants...
Though quite similar to the native species, these invasive species have fundamentally altered the ecosystem. There is hope. And work to be done.

Someone has begun to build a very structural lean-to, held together by metal screws and bolts... We'll wait to see how this unfolds.
The boys practiced jumping.

And we got bit by lots of mosquitoes in a very short amount of time.
And then jumped some more.

Bastian tried many times, but was afraid of the distance and his wee legs. Eventually, however, he made it.
Then Aleks wanted to go over to the lake portion of the park to see the Herons, which he called Cranes. My father and I discussed on the phone whether Herons and Cranes were part of the same family, but a quick internet search reveals that they are not. Herons belong to the family Ardeidae and Cranes to the family Guidae. So there.

Aleks wanted to pet the Herons when discussing the matter in the car. Rather than try to explain the severe improbability of such an endeavor, I simply shut my mouth, nodded my head, and said, "okay, you can try." The Heron, was, as usual, on the opposite side of the lake from where people frequent (and can access the shore), so we made do with capturing him on 10x zoom.
The boys threw rocks in the water. Bastian also threw some goose poop in the water, which made everyone, including my father on the phone, laugh a good deal.
We discussed ripples as Aleks noticed them for the first time.
Aleks dug out a bigger rock from amongst the dirt and goose poop, getting filthy in the process.
They creeped their toes into the lake, finding rocks beneath the water
and lots of snail shells.
All of this made their skin stink immeasurably. I took them down the brook to find running water, but it too stunk. I rinsed their hands with my drinking water from the car and had them wipe their hands on the clean grass, but still, they stunk. We came home with lots of dire warnings not to touch anything at all and stuck them in the bath, where it took many different types of soap and peppermint essential oil to get the stink out. Ew. We won't be doing that again.