Wednesday, December 29, 2010

1, 2, 3...

This video was taken about two weeks ago.  I've since tried to get a better quality video (this was taken on my phone), but Ella hasn't been too cooperative with performing for the camera!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Pet

Andy has been wanting to get the girls a pet for several months now.  While we were visiting my parents last week, my sister kindly agreed to give her dwarf hamster to them.  Arin named her Princess.  The hamster is still timid when it is held, but Andy has been working with her and holding her often.  The girls love it when Princess is in her ball.  Otherwise, the girls are not able to hold her.  She is very quick and constantly tries to make an escape if she is not in her cage or her ball.  So far the girls love having their new pet.  Thanks Aunt Candace!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dry Ice Fun

Today, the girls had their first experience with dry ice.  Andy tried to explain Sublimation to them (when a solid turns to a gas), but Arin preferred to call it a volcano!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo Bloopers

We just arrived home from spending close to a week with my parents.  Whenever we go home, we like to get together with my friend, Lynn and her family.  We always try to get pictures of our kids together, which usually doesn't work out so great.  This time, we were taking pictures about seven o'clock at night, on a day that the girls had not napped, due to being out of our normal routine.   Do these make for nice display pictures?  No.  Do they make for a good laugh?  I think so!

We weren't just snapping natural pictures, we were actually trying to get the kids to all look at us and to smile.  I have a new found appreciation for children photographers!   This is the best picture I got of the kids together.  Yeah, it's not that great either.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lion, Eat Me?

My friend's mom recently acquired a very large marble lion statue.  We had told Arin about the statue a couple of weeks ago and she was anxious to see it.  We were finally able to go to their house for a visit.  Like I said, Arin was very anxious to see this lion, so she kept insisting that we go to it. As I was putting Ella's shoes on her, she kept saying, "Lion, eat me???"  Poor thing had anxiety about the lion before she even saw it!

Arin was thrilled to see (and climb on) the lion.  Ella wanted nothing to do with it and stood a far distance from it.  You can see why, it is massive!  Ella is just a tad shorter than Tyson.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

We worked on the letter Jj a few weeks ago, but at the time, we did not do our "More Blessed to Give Than Receive" Lesson.  We have family members whose names start with the letter J and we wanted to make them a special treat, but at the time, I could not think of something to make for them.  Yesterday, I saw this post for Jam Thumbprint Cookies.  The recipe looked simple, which I knew would be perfect to use when working with the kids in the kitchen.

While Ella napped, Arin and I made these cookies for Aunt Jessica.  They were so good that we also made a second batch to have here!

Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick oats
jam (we used strawberry All Fruit)

Preheat the oven to 350°. In the bowl of a food processor (we don't have a large food processor, so we used a mixer and it worked just fine), combine butter and brown sugar. Pulse until blended. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Blend until smooth. Add flour, salt, and quick oats. Pulse until blended.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls. Arrange on a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie, making a depression.

Bake for 10 minutes. Fill depressions with small spoonful of the jam. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden. Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container, separating the layers with waxed or parchment paper. Can be frozen.

I think this was the first time she's turned on the mixer.

We've had our grain mill for three years.  It claims to be "The Quietest Mill" on the market, but it is still pretty loud.  This is the first time that Arin was brave enough to pour the wheat into the mill.  She normally has to have both hands free to cover her ears!


Arin was so happy about her accomplishment that she insisted that I take a picture of the flour!

Rolling the dough into balls was a lot of fun!
Making thumbprint indentions was also fun. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

O is for Orange

You may wonder why we did letters A-J in order and now we are jumping to O.  The first reason is that going in alphabetically order became boring to us.  The second reason is because we love this time of year when the citrus comes into season.  Oranges are a family favorite.  Yesterday, my parents came for a visit and they brought us two boxes of oranges which had been picked fresh from a grove near their house.  Yesterday and today, we've been snacking on this awesome gift.  Then today, we decided to include the oranges in our school.  These activities were a big hit with the girls.

First, I asked the girls if an orange would float or sink when put in water.  Ella said "float".  Arin said "sink because it is in water, but if it was in vinegar it'd float"  I think Arin was remembering science projects that we had done in the past!  So Arin put the orange in a vase of water and it floated to the top. 

The girls took turns trying to make it sink and stay at the bottom, but each time they took their hand off from it, the orange would shoot back up to the surface.

I then peeled the orange and asked them again if it would float or sink.  Ella said, "float" and Arin said "sink".  Ella dropped the peeled orange into the vase and it sank right away.  I explained that this is because there are tiny air pockets in the orange's skin which create bouyancy.  Once the skin was removed, the air pockets were also gone, causing the orange to sink.

Next, I gave the girls each a tub of water, a wash cloth, a tooth brush, and a dry towel.  Obviously fresh picked oranges are not cleaned and waxed like the store bought kind, so I wanted the girls to wash the fruit for us.  I told them they could use the tooth brush to clean the oranges like they clean their teeth, or they could use the wash cloth to wash the fruit like they wash their bodies.  Once they were done washing the oranges, they were to dry them off.  My girls love to play in water, so this was a big hit with them.

This evening, after dinner, the girls took turns juicing the oranges. We all enjoyed the sweet goodness of orange juice as our dessert.

After cutting an orange in half, I very carefully pulled the orange sections out of the rind, leaving the white part in the middle in tact.  I should have let the orange rind dry out overnight, but we wanted to finish this project today.  I filled the empty half of the orange with olive oil.  Then, after several tries (this is why we should have let it dry out longer) we were able to light the natural wick and create an orange peel candle.  The girls liked this activity, but I really think that the concept impressed Andrew and me more.

While trying to light the candle, Andy showed us another experiment.  He took a piece of fresh orange rind, squeezed it slightly to release a bit of moisture, and then touched a lit match to it.  Whenever the flame would hit the orange, it would crackle and the flame would double in size for a second.  In fact, it happened so quickly that I was never able to get a good picture, but it was amazing to the girls just the same.

The final activity was perhaps their most favorite.  We put an empty coffee mug on the table.  On top of that, I placed a piece of card stock, about the size of an index card, then a match box sleeve, and finally an orange.  I asked the girls what they thought would happen when I quickly pulled the card out.  Arin said, "Everything will fall down."  We took turns pulling the card out.  If done in a quick, straight, motion, only the orange would fall into the mug.  If done too slow, nothing would fall into the mug.  The "trick" of course was to get the orange to fall into the mug.  I would compare this to the magic trick of pulling the table cloth off the table while leaving everything else in place.

Thanks mom and dad for the fruit which made a fun-filled learning, snacking day!


After many days of practicing, Arin can now blow a bubble with her gum!

Do you think she is happy about her accomplishment?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Today, the girls and I made Pumpkin Streusel Muffins. We are big fans of muffins and we will enjoy these tonight and tomorrow (and then probably a few more days too!).

2 cups canned pumpkin puree (we used the puree we made)
1 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil, but I bet coconut oil would be great too)
2-2/3 cups white sugar (we scaled this back to 2 cups, which was still too much)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (we used fresh milled soft white wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (we used 1.5 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour (we used fresh milled flour)
3T brown sugar
2T cold butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pans (makes 24 muffins)
Mix together the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Sprinkle streusel topping on each muffin.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.