Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tide Pools (Day 2 - Monterey Bay)

On our 2nd day in California, we went to see the tide pools at Monterey Bay. We were fortunate that there was a low tide just about the time it fit in our schedule - around 9:30 am.

We met another mom and her 2 children who live in California and come here a few times a year. The mom was very helpful with identifying things for us.

periwinkles - a type of snail

goose-necked barnacles

green sea anemones

sea star (possibly ochre sea star - we were told there were many around here)

tiny crab hiding


and, a large sea star... eating! don't you love its little tube feet?

We were going to study sea stars before our trip, but didn't get around to it. We might do that now. There is a great looking lapbook at Homeschool Share.

Also, I was thrilled to see so many of the "critters" that we'd seen last year in San Diego! I felt like I knew more this time since I'd already learned about some of our "finds" last year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunset Cruise (Day 1 - Monterey Bay)

On our first evening, we went on a private sunset cruise in Monterey Bay. It was amazing!!!

I had used TripAdvisor and found that Captain Christian with Bella Monterey Bay was highly recommended as the number one attraction. We totally agree! It was an amazing sailing experience.

You can see that Alex was having lots of fun. My brother got to join us for the first 3 days of our trip, so it was just Captain Christian, my brother, my mom, Alex and myself in the beautiful bay. My brother has sailed quite a bit and he got to sail for part of the evening. And, I got to sail (under motor power) for about the last 45 minutes or so. I was getting a little sea sick and it really helped. I couldn't believe that he let me sail right up to the end - even around docked boats! (I was worried, but I didn't hit anything.) He just took over at the very end. (I know my brother has some pictures of me, so I'll try to post them when I get them.)

As we were first sailing,we got to see lots of sea lions who were lying out on the rocks near the docks. I loved it!

Then, you should have heard me scream when we saw our first otter!!! How neat! We ended up seeing quite a few otters, though we were never really close. We even saw (& heard!!) a baby otter with its momma. 

This is Captain Christian. He was so great with all of us and really helped us to have a wonderful time. He ended pulling up 2 crab traps (with my brother at the helm). One trap was empty, but there was one crab in the other (and a sea cucumber, but it fell off and we didn't get to see it up close... too bad!) Anyway, the biggest surprise was that Captain Christian cooked us dinner! We ate that crab and another he had on ice. Oh, it was so yummy! Then, he prepared us some calamari from some squid he'd recently caught. He hammered it out really thin and put some seasoning on it. It was so amazing!!! What a wonderful way to end our beautiful evening.

We're Home from San Francisco!!!

On Saturday night, we got home from our week-long trip to San Francisco and Monterey Bay, California. What an amazing trip! We were worn out, but we had so much fun and saw and did so many wonderful things!!! It was hard to come home, but we are glad to BE home!

So, I have about 1,400 photos!!! Where do I begin??? :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

American Experience by PBS & Lincoln's Assassination

In Alex's online class, we just finished reading about the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. One of the links we were given was to a PBS American Experience video entitled "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln." It is a wonderfully well done film that looks into the life of John Wilkes Booth, the conspiracy, and the death of Abraham Lincoln and its affect on the United States. The site also includes a Teacher's Resource section with links to other sites and book suggestions.

stock photo

This page of the website show upcoming shows which are usually aired on Mondays. I'm going to have to start recording these! And, from this page you can watch a lot of the videos in their entirity, though just trailers of some of them. Too bad the episode about building the Golden Gate Bridge is only a trailer! It would have been nice as we prepare for our trip to San Francisco.

P.S. I keep trying to schedule these posts so I can spread them out. But it has only worked a few times. Anyone know what my problem could be???

Chinatown in San Francisco

While preparing for our trip to San Francisco, we have been looking through and reading articles from  National Geographic Traveler: San Francisco. It is the first time I've used one of their travel guides, and I am really enjoying it! They have lots of articles... and lots of photos!

We will be taking a tour while we are in San Francisco and will be passing through Chinatown. We read an interesting article in the book about Chinatown.

One event we found really interesting was the funeral procession.  In Chinatown, the procession is led by a small marching band. Then, there is a convertible with a large photo of the deceased followed by the hearse. The funeral procession goes through the area and often stops at the deceased's house to stop and play one song and move on. I found this video that shows an example and explanation of a funeral procession. (I think you'll have to watch a 15 second commercial first.)

Used with permission from Jimmie at Jimmie's Collage

A place we found interesting was the Chinese pharmacy. I'd actually read about these on Jimmie's Collage. The Chinese pharmacy has hundreds of little drawers filled with potential medicines - herbs, roots, etc. To fill a prescription, the pharmacy finds the ingredients they need, measure and weigh them, then boils them together to make a bitter liquid medicine.

We're excited about our trip and can't wait to visit Chinatown! And, we have a lot more reading to do!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cherokee Homestead

I came across this post that I'd never posted and thought I'd go ahead and do it! It's from a Cherokee Homestead we visited in Tahlequah, Oklahoma two years ago. We had an amazing visit as we were the ONLY ones there... just Alex, me, and my husband's aunt. The tour guide asked Alex questions and answered questions from all of us.

grinding corn

washing clothes

carding the wool (I think that is what it is called)

 loading the spinning wheel

my turn!

repairing a building

Who Do You Think You Are? (part 2)

Alex and I have now watched the first two episodes of the American verion of Who Do You Think You Are? And, we LOVE it!!!! And... you can actually watch the full episodes online until September 18th! You can also view photos from each journey and additional video clips!

Highlights from Sarah Jessica Parker's episode

The first episode was about Sarah Jessica Parker. She amazingly traced ancestors back to both the California Gold Rush of 1849 and to the Salem Witch Trials! (And, no, I haven't found anything quite so interesting in my history.)

Highlights from Emmitt Smith's episode

The second episode was our favorite. It was about Dallas Cowboy star Emmitt Smith. (I was moved to tears multiple times during his story!) He traced his slave ancestors - and found out that some were mulatto. He even went back to Africa and visited the area where his family had probably lived before being captured and sold into slavery. What an incredible, and sad, story. But, as he said, his ancestors must have been strong people!

Don't forget... the series airs on Friday nights!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It reminds me of our trip to Ireland this summer,
so I thought I'd re-post a few photos.

The "real", Irish Leprechaun she found.

At the beach in Dingle. (very cold!)

An ancient beehive hut.

Alex at the beautiful Cliffs of Moher.

The incredible harpist we listened to at Cliffs of Moher. (I now own 3 of her CDs.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

got census?

We received our Census 2010 form earlier this week. Since Alex was born in late 2000, this is the FIRST census she has been included on! And, as a genealogist, I love the census! How else would I track my ancestors? So, I was excited that this is a census year. (And, I'll be excited in 2012 when the 1940 census is released to the public! Each census is "private" for 72 years.)

So, Alex and I have been completing a Census Lapbook created by A Journey Through Learning. (It is on sale at CurrClick for only $4.) This lapbook also comes with a study guide, so most of the information is right there for you! (You do look up some numbers on the internet.) I think we have 3 little booklets to finish and then we need to put it all together.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Birdman of Alcatraz

In preparing for our trip to San Francisco and the Monterey Bay area, my brother suggested we watch Birdman of Alcatraz. The 1962 film stars Burt Lancaster and was filmed while the birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, was still living and imprisoned. He was in prison from 1909 until his death in 1963.

The film tells his amazing story and only about the last third takes place at Alcatraz. Much of the film describes how he became an expert on birds and their diseases, with only a 3rd grade education. I was amazed at Robert Stroud's level of dedication and learning while imprisoned. What an amazing story! And, there is a lot of "nature" woven into the story... you even get to watch a canary hatch! (And, though Alex and I really enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. It does get violent at times and there are other parts you might want to monitor.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

What are Kosher Scrolls?

We've had an incredible weekend, and I have quite a few posts to share! But, I'm also busy preparing for our trip to San Francisco and getting back to school after our Spring Break. So, it might take awhile to write all of my posts!

I thought I'd start with a little "lesson." My extended family spent the weekend together up near Ft. Worth. On Saturday afternoon, my sister and I went to a lecture at the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose. The guest speaker was Gary Zimmerman who was speaking about ancient Hebrew scrolls. (I can't find the link online now, so I'm not sure of the title.)
Zimmerman (in jacket) getting ready for lecture. The scrolls covering the 39 books of OT are in cases around him.
There are not 39 scrolls, because some are combined. For example, the first 5 books or the Torah, are on one scroll. Also, they don't have 1 & 2 Samuel, etc - they only have one of each 'book.'

Over a 10 year period, Zimmerman helped collect scrolls which covered all 39 books of the Old Testament. This collection is now housed at the Creation Evidence Museum - the only complete collection of its kind.

Most of these scrolls were bought from "genizas", which are Jewish graveyards where scrolls which are damaged beyond repair are placed. Online I found that "the term geniza, from the Hebrew word for “storage,” is used to describe a collection of writings that were deemed too important to destroy and thus stored away."

Scrolls can be described as either kosher or not kosher. I believe the kosher ones are the ones that get put in a geniza. The following 3 things make a scroll not kosher:
  1. ink falling off or fading
  2. blemishes - like water or fire damage
  3. holes
The scrolls are written on different types of parchment - like sheep, goat, or cow. To be kosher, the letters must be 100% (which can include repairs).

The ink is iron gall ink. (I have talked before about oak gall ink.) Iron gall ink is made of 3 substances:
  1. iron gall nut (which is the gall that is made to house the tiny wasp) - the gall is rich in tannic acid
  2. gum arabic - from acacia tree (this is the sap)
  3. soot

When this ink is pure and uses the best ingredients (for example, different galls can have different concentrations of tannic acid), the ink can last 2,000 years in a cave! The Declaration of Independence was written with this type of ink, but it is already badly faded. If you Google "iron gall ink degradation", you will find a wealth of research on the topic.
This is a new scroll (12 years old) of the book of Esther.

A Sofar is one who writes scrolls. Sofar means "one who counts letters." They used to literally count the letters as they hand-copied the scripture passages. A Sofar must to through a mikvah, which is like a baptismal, and be ceremonially clean to write the scriptures. (My notes arent' clear - it might be just to write the Lord's name.)

To write on a scroll, the score it with lines to hang the letters from - just like we "sit" our letters on lines. If they make a mistake, they can just cross it out and keep going, but NOT if they make a mistake with God's name. (I'm not sure what they do, though!)

This is also Esther. This is the ENTIRE text of Esther on one scroll.

Writing God's name is holy. I had heard that they had to get a fresh quill each time they wrote God's name. That isn't really true. Some Sofars just skip a space each time they need to fill in His name. Then, they go to the mikvah, or baptismal, and get cermonially clean and then come back and write all of the names. But, usually, they just keep on going! But, they must say a blessing as they write this Holiest of names.

I was also very interested in seeing the philacteries that Zimmerman brought. If you remember from the Bible, they are little boxes which are worn on both the head and arm. They contain scriptures and are fulfilling certain Bible passages.
A close up of some of the Hebrew scrolls. Many of these scrolls are about 800 years old.

But, I learned some new things. There are 4 scriptures inside of the philacteries, which are also called "tefillin." The scriptures are Exodus 13:1-10; 13: 11-17; Deut 6:4-9; and 11:13-22. Some of the philacteries, or tefillin, have one large chamber that holds all of the scriptures while others have 4 little chambers that each hold one passage. They are sealed shut and are normally never opened again. They also go to the genzia, or Jewish cemetery, when they are not being used anymore.

A few more things about the scrolls. Hebrew scrolls are written from right to left with NO punctuation or ending to sentences. The only breaks are the paragraph breaks. Also, the Jewish order of the books of the Bible is different than our traditional Bibles.

If you have any corrections or additions to my post, please let me know! I took notes, but I may have misunderstood something. I hope you enjoyed this topic! I found it fascinating and would love to learn Hebrew now!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pysanky Eggs

Last year I attempted my first Pysanky egg near Easter. (Photo below.)  Pysanky is a type of Ukrainian Easter egg. I bought a kit from Yevshan - the Deluxe Ukrainian Easter Egg Decorating Kit and it only cost $16.98 plus shipping & handling. (I'm not sure if you can get similar kits at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.)

I didn't post directions on how I did it because I followed the directions at That Artist Woman.

Here's a video about the history of Pysanky.

And, this is a video about how to make Pysanky.

I'm excited about trying Pysanky again this year! Is anyone else going to give it a try?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pi Day and Einstein's Birthday

We had fun celebrating Pi Day last year, March 14th (3/14). March 14th is also Einstein's birthday!This year, Pi Day falls on Sunday. We're going to be on the road for part of the day, so I'm not sure how much we'll get to do. But, I have some ideas!

Those are just a few ideas. And, I'll leave you with some Einstein quotes I've posted before:

I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.

Love is a better teacher than duty.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

Information is not knowledge.

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist.
They are wrong: it is character.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oil Painting & Pottery... Art Day!

We are on Spring Break!!! (Yeah!) On Tuesday, had an art day...just because that is what we felt like doing! After spending time outside (in the high 70's!), we went in and did some oil painting and then some pottery.
Every since we did the oil painting class, I have wanted to re-do a piece like that to see if I still remembered the techinques. So, that's what I did! And, I thought I'd give a short tutorial of what I remembered. To start with, you paint this triangle pattern (the bottom one will end up being the reflection in the water). I used yellow, orange and blue. Then, I used my finger to blend the colors where they met.

Next, I filled in the rest of the painting with different patches of color. I used different colors from last time, and they are brighter as I didn't have much white to dilute them. You need to make sure you use symmetry across the middle line (which I painted purple) so it looks like a reflection in the end. Again, I used my finger to blend where colors met.

Next, I painted the purple island on the right of the painting. Since it is in the water, you don't need to create a reflection.

Then I painted the trees. I used purple (like last time) and created a line at the inner edge of the island that went all the way from the top to the bottom of the painting. Then, I added in the other trees - again trying to make it somewhat symmetrical above and below my purple line. Last time, we used a real sponge and linseed oil to make the leaves. Since I didn't have that, I just used a big brush for the leaves.

Then, I used a brush to smooth out the bottom. This is the scary part! You actually take a brush and wipe it all the way across the bottom of the painting. Then, go up a brush-length and do it again. The colors are smearing into each other, but that is what makes the reflection look real! I couldn't quite remember how we blended the top. You take a brush and make X's with it and kind of smear the lines. I didn't do it as well as last time, and think I should have blended the colors a little more.

My last step was to take an index card (or business card) and "load it" with white paint. Then, you kind of streak it on the painting. And, that's my finished piece!

Here's my painting from the class. I like that the colors are more muted... and more blended! But, I'm still fairly happy with my new piece, too.

As I mentioned, we also got out Alex's pottery wheel. I think she got this 3 Christmases ago, and we've never used it! (Yikes!) I always knew it'd be messy (and, it was!) but we had a lot of fun, too.

We had a hard time getting the clay the right consistency, though we finally did. We had fun just letting the clay spin around as we learned to shape it and etch into it. I ended up with one small bowl that I might post about when it is dry....and possibly painted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Traditions: Doughnut Shop

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about traditions. I really love how Robin at martinzoo has so many traditions! She is often saying, "we always..." I would love to have traditions like hers. So, I've been thinking about traditions that we have and hoping to start some new ones.

One tradition we have involves visits by Nana and Papa, my husband's parents. They were here this past weekend while my husband and I went on a short vacation. This time, they brought along my 1.5 year old nephew, Hunter. Our tradition is to go out to doughnuts on the morning they leave (which was yesterday). (This photo is from a PowerPoint slideshow I made about a month ago. Alex and I both made slideshows called "Our Traditions." We thought about all of the holidays and special days where we share traditions and created slides for those. Our last slide was entitled "traditions I wish we had..." It was really a great project and I hope to work harder at keeping traditions!)

This tradition started when Alex was very small. She used to get really upset when it was time for Nana and Papa to go home. She would cry and have a horrible day. So, we decided to give her something to look forward to - a rare treat of doughnuts! And, it worked. She would get excited when it was time for them to leave because we'd be having doughnuts. (I didn't get any great shots inside the doughnut shop, so these photos are from us saying goodbye in the parking lot.)
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