Sunday, May 29

The Twist (Chubby Checker)

Last year, while visiting Pennsylvania, we stopped by Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.  (See that post here.)

We learned all about the history of pretzels, and just how easy it is to make them at home.  Since the kids love these tasty snacks, we have been experimenting with different types this year.  

Here are our best recipes, along with a fun unit study!

This is us making pretzels....that is a very big mess!  We made regular pretzels, pretzel sticks, and pretzel bites.  They are super yummy with hot mustard or almond butter.  We even cut some of the larger ones up and made cheesy garlic bread with them...

Pretzel Unit Study

Tuesday, May 17

Touch of Grey (Grateful Dead)

What do glass-blowing and oceanography have in common???  Let's find out!

The weekend was just all-around nastiness - you know how it is when the weather changes. Everyone was starting to get a little stir crazy...   Scroll down for a short unit study to accompany these trips - science & art today!

After using up the last of our winter pumpkins (that's a pirate, princess, and scary guy), we stuffed everyone in the car and headed out to the Great Dismal Swamp!   (Doesn't "dismal swamp" just sound like a day brightener???)
At the Great Dismal Swamp Arts Festival, we got to see some amazing artwork!  The highlight of the day, however, was watching this guy give his glass blowing exhibitions.  The kids were very interested in it, and watched almost all of his shows.  Why are they dressed up, you might ask?  There was a costume contest at the end of the day.

Virginia Beach Aquarium
The following day, it was still drizzling and just nasty, so we loaded up the kids and headed to the aquarium for the afternoon.  There were lots of different animals to look at, and a huge focus on oceanography!
Our son used this trip as a chance to speak with scientists and researchers while completing his Oceanography Badge for Boy Scouts.
It wasn't that crowded, so we were all able to have some quiet moments exploring the things that interested us most.
Then again, silly family time is important, too...  HELP!!!!!!!!!!
The two favorite stops?  Inside a submarine - which the kids could actually pilot.  And the moment when the cobra fanned himself at us in warning.  Argh!
Finally, we stopped in at the travelling exhibit, which was all about dinosaurs.  The dinosaurs moved and roared, which was a little disarming, even to the biggest of kids!
Before heading home, we stopped off at Virginia Beach for one last romp through the ocean waters.  It will be quite some time before we get back to the ocean again.  It was a bittersweet moment.
Overall, a rainy, nasty weekend turned into a memorable family opportunity!  If you ever have a chance to visit the Virginia Beach Aquarium, we recommend it.  It's one of the best we've seen!

Oceans & Marine Life

Wednesday, May 4

Under the Sea (Little Mermaid)

My poor, middle-American-born child is a true child of the sea.  Nothing makes him come alive and into his spirit more than being near the salty air.  I don't mean in the "it's Spring Break, let's party!" meaning, but in the "I need the ocean to breathe" sense.  When we first arrived, he dropped his suitcases and ran for the water...
The first morning there, we went for a Mommy-Son sunrise date.  Taking a walk with my son (and probably your's, too) is a great way to get him to open up and talk about...anything...everything.
He took these pictures.  I thought he had a good eye for framing and color.  Especially given the lack of natural light at the time.
We played around the with sand crabs before heading back to the warmth inside the hotel.  Mornings are still pretty cool with the ocean breezes.  After a day of adventures, we headed out for another beach walk in the afternoon...
We found several of these horseshoe crabs that had been kicked up out of the ocean by the recent storms.  The boys each found a complete exoskeleton of a crab (long deceased when we found them) which became their most prized souvenirs for the trip.
The weather began to change again as night came on.  We chased sea gulls, gathered sea shells - (so many seashells - see the title picture!!) - and spent the evening walking and talking, just enjoying each other's company.  The only electronic device we carried was an old digital camera...and it was a perfect day.  Albeit a bit windy!  
There were so many treasures to be found from the sea.....recent storms had kicked up whelk and conch shells, some completely intact, as well as a ton of regular shells, crabs, and other rare goodies.  The best treasure from the sea, though, was the memory.
If the pictures just aren't the same, watch the sun rise below in our short video.  We created it so that our son could visit the beach whenever he needed his fix.
The gulls and crabs became more active as the sun began to rise.  It's a calming feeling, watching the world come alive.
Welcome to your new day.  Make it a good one!