Dedication and Passion

When Sweetie started fly tying earlier this year, she learned of a scholarship opportunity to attend Fish Camp. She expressed interest in going to camp and talked of it frequently. Under the tutelage of experts, the young anglers learn the fundamentals of casting, fly fishing techniques, advanced fly tying, and outdoor skills through an award winning summer fly fishing camp located in Northern California. Surrounded by miles of private stream and fish-filled lakes that provide the ideal fresh-air classroom, the kids have a blast catching (and releasing) lots of trout on flies they tied themselves.

She thereby wrote two essays as a part of the application process and begged to go even if she didn’t win a scholarship. Yesterday, she received a call from one of the volunteers on the selection committee announcing that she had been selected. Knowing that she would be taking part in the fly fishing expo today along side her mentors, she was very excited; I doubt she slept much.

She has shared her winning essays on her blog. I encourage you to hop over and read about what she enjoys most about fly fishing and why she wants to go to camp.  She is pictured here with one of the local fly fishers and with another young angler who was also selected as a scholarship winner.

Dying Eggs with Kool-Aid

I love Pinterest.  I never fail to find fun, creative new ideas for art projects, recipes, and lesson plans.  Recently, I came upon a pin linking to a blog post that described DIY Kool-Aid Easter Eggs and I knew we had to give this a try. 

After dying our eggs this way, I know we will never go back to using vinegar and those silly packaged kits.  As Chelsea said,It’s rad because all you need is Kool-Aid and water — no vinegar, no icky chemicals, blah blah blah. And it smells delicious, like a candy factory. So grab a bunch of different packets, some cups, and you’re good to go.” 


Art Lessons w/ Pinot Van Gogh

With only a half day due to our online Mandarin language lesson, we spent the morning roaming Broad street in downtown Rome. We came upon an art studio that advertised drop-in classes for a reasonable fee. While I consider myself to be adequately skilled when it comes to drawing (particularly with colored pencil), I am not ashamed to say I am a lousy painter. We decided to return in the afternoon for a painting class. When the time came, Sweetie was very excited but Buddy dragged his feet, preferring to stay in the hotel and play Minecraft.

For the drop-in class, the kids chose a painting in the gallery for inspiration and thereby were given instruction, step-by-step to create something similar. Sweetie chose a bird painting and substituted Totoro. Buddy blazed his own trail and painted the entrance to an iron mine as we had seen in Birmingham.

The following day, we returned to join in with a 6-week class. The returning students were continuing a batik project they had started previously. While we definitely plan to try this at home, we didn’t have the time to start it here. The kids thereby opted to do another painting. This time Sweetie painted cherry blossoms while Buddy continued to commemorate our trip to Georgia by painting a peach. Sadly, peaches aren’t in season so we haven’t yet been able to sample the state fruit.

Bierkebieners & Luminaries

For Barnesklubb this past week, we met at the local library and I read aloud The Race of the Birkebeiners Lisa Lunge-Larsen.  It is the story of two brave Birkebeiners and how they saved the infant Prince Håkon by skiing across the mountains in the dead of winter.  It is a true story of bravery and tenderness set in the year 1206, deep in the snow-covered mountains and valleys of Norway.  The kids and moms all enjoyed the story and it was pointed out to me later that all the boys (there were four in all) sat cuddled up with their mother as I read aloud.

This 1869 painting by Knud Bergslien portrays
the story of young Håkon Håkonsson.

On the nights of a full moon in Central Oregon, the Nordic Ski Club coordinates a moonlight snowshoe or nordic ski outing.  While the moon and stars are bright enough to make your way to the shelter (if you desire to go that far), a smaller loop trail is also marked at regular intervals with luminaries.  As we don’t have snow in town to go nordic skiing as I would have liked and an outing to Mt. Lassen or Mt. Shasta would have taken considerable more time and effort (and thereby fewer participants), we made luminaries.

From one gathering to the next, I never quite know how many children to expect at Barnesklubb.  Generally, there are only 5 children (two of which are my own) but on occasion there are significantly more.  I was quite surprised, therefore, when I arrived at the library to see a small crowd of young, smiling faces awaiting my arrival.  I didn’t have quite enough tin cans for everyone to create their own, but I did think ahead and had brought along my stash of candy tins just in case.  Thus, every family was able to create a luminary while every individual (if desired) was also able to embellish the candy tin as a special treasure box.  Ideally, you would want to first sand off the paint of the candy tin – this gives a much nicer presentation and the design stands out much better against the silver aluminum rather than the distracting colors of the candy label.

I have been collecting Barnesklubb ideas on Pinterest for sometime and luminaries are one that I see pop up frequently.  The morning of our gathering, I went to Pinterest and clicked upon my pin, Tin Can Luminaries, to print a few templates and/or ideas for the kids and realized I had made a mistake.  As an experienced teacher, I should have know better, but life tends to derail even the best of educators.  Sadly, I didn’t plan ahead enough to freeze water inside the cans. I had to instead make do with a stack of newspaper that the kids rolled up and stuffed into their cans so as to provide support when they began to puncture the tiny holes in the cans with a hammer and nail. This worked well enough, but I am sure a can of frozen water would have worked better.  Ah … next time.

Rock Stacking & Penjing

The focus of the Outdoor Hour Challenges this month is on rocks.  We haven’t explored this topic in quite a while so we were excited to revisit it this month.  We love the challenges and particularly enjoy the grid that Barb includes each month – much like a tic-tac-toe of outdoor activities that correspond with the monthly theme.

When my mother came to stay with us earlier this year, we spent a day at the beach.  While there, she introduced us to an activity she and Richard enjoy when they go on outings with Lily, stacking rocks. It was a lot of fun – and a little frustrating too – to delicately balance and counter balance the rocks precisely.

While at first it may seem like simply a fun activity, there is actually quite a bit of science and engineering involved.  While playing around with different rocks, you learn that to balance one, you must keep its center of gravity (its balancing point) directly above its base (the part of the rock that is supporting it).

The kids had a lot of fun and really got into it before the Canada Geese began to get a little intrusive. They had no fear and would literally walk right onto our towel in an attempt to steal our lunch.  Later in the week, we explored Turtle Bay and enjoyed an exhibit in the gardens on Penjing.  It was fun week that incorporated a lot of hands-on learning with little planning .. simply surprises and opportunities for which I kept my eyes open and hears listening.

Submitted to the Outdoor Hour Challenge at Handbook of Nature Study.

The Nisse of Norway

Barnesklubb met yesterday afternoon and our activity centered around the Nisse of Norwegian folklore (also known as Tomten in Sweden).  I began by briefly touching upon a few details about the characteristics of these “household spirits” who are believed to care for the prosperity of a farm. Typically, nisse are short dwarf-like men with long red stocking caps who reside in a barn.  If you care for the resident nisse, leaving a bowl of rice porridge on Christmas Eve, the nisse will return the favor and look after things.  If you disregard the nisse, he will cause troubles.    

I then read aloud a story, Snippen’s Dilemma by Edna and Howard Hong.  It is a cute story of a Nisse named Snippen who makes the decision to leave a farm where he is unwelcome in search of a farm where his life will be easier.  Along the way, he encounters a little girl who is praying, “You understand, dear God, that we are glad our dear mother can be with you this Christmas.  We know that for her it is the best Christmas ever.  But down here, we miss her terribly.  I’m little and inexperienced and can’t do the things the way dear Mother did them.  The oatmeal is lumpy and little brother won’t eat it,” she prays. “Everything has gone wrong since Mother went to heaven.”  Hearing this, Snippen grapples with the decision to continue on to the farm where life will be easy or to stay and help the little girl and her family.   [Snippen’s Dilemma can be found in the book, Christmas Comes to Blueberry Corners: And Other Christmas Stories for Children]

After the story, I passed around the three little wooden nisse that I purchased while in Norway (pictured in front of the red tree above).  I then demonstrated how to make a similar little nisse in polymer clay (like those surrounding the tree).  The activity was a hit … even the adults got into it including a gentleman and his 18-month old daughter who also happened to be at the library.  Sadly, I again failed to take photographs of the kids engaged in the activity.  When will I remember!?

Sons of Norway has captured a little nisse magic in this month’s Viking by sharing the photography of Per Breiehagen. A native of Hallingdal, Norway, Breiehagen now lives in Minneapolis and has photographed his adorable daughter, Anja, as the model for his wonderful “Winter Magic” photo series.  His photography is also featured in this month’s issue of Norwegians Worldwide magazine.  I encourage you to check out these links … Per’s work is both stunning and heartwarmingly adorable.  

I was happy to be able to give each family a copy of the current issue to take home with them.  For additional ideas of integrating Norwegian traditions and learning more about the nisse, see My Little Norway’s post, Nisse Parties