Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interstate State Park- Scrambling and Potholes

We've posted about our past visits to this great state park (2011, 2013) , but today we met up with our Homeschool Group to take part in a guided tour of the potholes.  The naturalist that led the group was absolutely fantastic-- she was engaging and informative without being overwhelmed by the huge age span of our group! 

We met up and scrambled around for an hour or so.  There are many little potholes that can be found in the rocks up and around the visitor center.  Alex and Justin both practiced 'three point scrambling' (where they have to touch the rock with three points of their body at all time) and challenged themselves!  Justin, in particular, was very proud of his accomplishments.  It helps to have a bunch of bigger kids running around, awakening you to the possibilities of scaling rock walls! 

The tour started at 11:30, but by 12:00 or so, my kids were definitely feeling "peopled-out".  We're all true introverts, and while we enjoy the company of others, 35 kids and their adults were a bit draining to be around.  We quietly snuck out at an appropriate point of the lecture and had a few quiet moments on the trail back to the car.

Looking up from the bottom of a giant glacial pothole!

Fall is definitely here, and we are ENJOYING it!


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Suite of the Bunny Gentlemen

Remember when I commented that those little wire hutches our rescue bunnies were in were temporary?  Well, they were less temporary than even I imagined.  GranMama had it in her heart to give our family an  early Christmas present-- two brand new bunny hutches.
I ordered them through amazonsmile (supporting our favorite charity- Human Outreach Project, of course) and they arrived at our doorstep a few weeks later.  I impressed my children (and my husband) by putting them together on my own --  I channeled a much younger stage-crew version of myself who loved power tools-- and then it was time to figure out the flooring and containment system.  I found these 'small' pet gates online as well.  They seem to be the perfect height to let bunnies wander and children step over to take care of said bunnies.  We had a full-size gate around their other hutches, and they were having 'problems' marking their territory because they took turns in the outside space.  That problem is solved!
The one note I have is that ever since moving into these new hutches, there has not been ONE SINGLE ACCIDENT!  These two have transitioned beautifully into house rabbits.  They use their litter boxes to urinate!  Yay!!!  I was nervous because the old hutches were wire-bottomed, and I was always cleaning up the little mats they sat on because they'd pee on them.  Poor guys.....now that they have a 'regular floor', they are really keeping themselves much cleaner!
So....a tour:

All of my hutch cleaning supplies are kept in a wicker chest in the hallway.  Hidden! 
 It also doubles as seating when one is watching the bunnies.
 You can see that the former library/art studio has been completely transformed into the Bunny Suite.  I'd still like to get rid of my red card catalog, but for not it works to store art supplies.
 If you look behind Victor's hutch, you can see a little bunny organization corner.  Below the wall shelf are our two steel containers:
Above the hay and litter is a shelf that I may have rehomed from the playroom.  We have our brushes, treats, vitamins and jars of wool that we are slowly collection.
 Next to the wall shelf is the perfect little hutch-cleaning broom and dustpan.  I picked it up in Sweden this summer and was imagining Justin using it to sweep up...I don't know...the table or something.  But it was really for our bunnies!!  While they pee in their litterboxes, the occasional pellet (or twenty) will roll around the hutch floor.  This makes it really easy to sweep them up into a bucket that we bring out to the garden as mulch!

Next to the wall shelf is our former hallway shelf that holds bunny enrichment materials and food.  On top is our little Waldorf bunny hutch with representatives of our family (the little girl is currently MIA, but we have one!).  Note the cat on the top of the hutch.  This is eerily accurate (see second photo in this post).
To personalize the hutches a bit, I bought two wooden plaques from Michaels and woodburned a scene onto each one of them.  This is Justin and Victor:
 And this is Alex and Basil:
 Inside the hutches you can see that there are two-levels attached by a ramp.  It took a couple of days for the bunnies to fully grasp the concept of 'going upstairs', but we'll find them there now and then.  They have a litter pan/bed in the little private room, as well as an enrichment toy hanging from the ceiling.  Basil seems to enjoy his little 'bed' area much more than Victor does...

 The fence that separates the two play areas is reinforced.  Despite being sweet and friendly to people (and even cats), these two can NOT be in the same area at the same time.  Because they are both unaltered males, there is some definite dominance issues they attempt to work out.  I made sure that they couldn't get to each other through this middle fence either.
Who?  Me?  Bite my brother????
 Enjoying a carrot.  They are both getting big and fluffy and I swear since we moved them into these hutches they're even friendlier than ever.  When we open the doors they hop right out into our laps.
 Justin will lay on the ground and Victor will come and investigate, 'tickling' him with little bunny whiskers.
I've bonded with these two and it's safe to say that they are a permanent part of the Marotz family!  Next up, learning to spin angora wool into yarn!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Magnification Experiments

Science class today was all about learning how Alex's new microscope works.  She gathered some materials on our nature walk to examine.  Turns out I need a refresher in making slides.  We ended up having better luck with some of the pre-made slides (she's drawing a bamboo stem) than the ones we made (we tried dog and human saliva, grass and a butterfly wing).  The important part, though, is that she saw the difference between 4x, 10x and 40x magnification!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bible Study

Just a great verse for us all to learn and remember.  Especially when homeschooling :-)Philippians 4:13

Ice Palace Party!

OK-  gird your loins-- this is a big post.  It was a BIG day!  The party set-up started approximately two weeks ago, when I drove around Woodbury and Cottage Grove picking up the Christmas trees of kind friends and strangers.  I had a vision... (yes...I am quite aware that this is c-r-a-z-y, but we had a BLAST!)

As our visitors entered, they noticed some birch trees pointing the direction of the 'ice palace'.  (Thank you, dear husband David, for pulling over on the side of the Gunflint Trail so that I could harvest fallen birch branches!)
The sign led to the basement door, at which point some romantic, magical lighting took over.  Note:  Dave wins Father of the Year for getting really exciting about the lighting for this party.  And...who is that showing you the way?
We decided that since Elsa's Ice Palace was on a mountain, Alex's Ice Palace should be in a valley....just in case you get confused about where you are.  So-- the path down the valley would be a journey from warm to 'frozen'.  Just a few snowflakes on the first trees, but once you get to the Palace, the Winter Wonderland is in full effect.
(note the snowflake flurry on the wall.....thank you, dear Cricut Explore machine!)
There was even a frozen river to cross!
And then they arrived at the Ice Palace.  Tulle ceiling drapery, lots and lots and LOTS of paper snowflakes hung from the ceiling and walls!
The banquet table was icy cold...with doilies for place chargers and personalized (plastic) champagne glasses filled with yogurt-covered raisins.
The main table cover was thrifted from Goodwill, but the snowflake fabric came straight from a little fabric store in Norway that I ducked into on my summer adventure.
The other side of the room was a reading corner and craft table.
We filled our own glass ornaments with snowy and icy decorations.
 The reading corner was all set up with some quiet activity options:
Our cake table was in the 'coldest spot' in the house-
Note the icy windows!
And now the food details....this was an afternoon party, so we just had some healthy snacks...
And, of course, some unhealthy but delicious ones...
As the party started, we received word that a very important visitor was on her way.  She heard about Alex's Ice Palace and just had to check it out for herself (she's somewhat of an expert on Ice Palaces)-
Queen Elsa joined in the party fun!  She helped make the ornaments-

 There was a snowball fight.... (giant craft pom-poms)
Some of our smartest guests found refuge in the forest....
And then we enjoyed some storytime-- Elsa had two new adventures to tell the kids about.
Grandma Mary and Papa Bob joined us for a bit...
Olaf joined in on the fun--
We feasted:

Alex's Ice Palace Party was a complete success!  It was a lot of work, but totally worth it.  My little girl will only turn seven once-- it was a very magical party for a very magical age!