WIPS III

Happy Monday! … or should I use a question mark after that phrase? I’m never sure.

Today I wanted to summarize some of the projects that I’m working on at the moment.

It’s been about a year since I’ve done one of these posts, and looking back at that post made me realize that: 1. I would like to get better at doing these posts more regularly (I find it inspiring to see what people are working on and it’s nice to see some progress shots rather than just the polished and finished pieces), and 2. I have to get better at following-up on the projects that I share. For example, the hat from the last post turned out so good (I wear it all the time!), but the mittens are still in their unfinished state, which is sad because I know that once they’re done I’ll use them all of the time.

{Weaving}

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First up is the weaving! My dad gifted me this table/lap loom for Christmas, and I love it. I like the challenge of this art form – thinking about the “picture” I want to create, wether it’s mountains, abstract trees, or just a free-form burst of color. I’m also really happy to have a use for all of the odd bits of yarn that are left over from previous projects.

The other fun side-effect from learning this new craft is that now my eyes are open for examples of weaving everywhere! I’ve become obsessed with project updates from other weavers on Instagram. I fell in love with this huge weaving while shopping (and want to recreate something like it for one of our walls – imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?).

And as you can see in the photo below, Amax has taken an interest in my new projects, so I’m excited to get him started with a little cardboard frame loom ASAP!

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{Knitting}

On the knitting needles, I’m working on a sweater for myself. It’s the Bohus inspired turtleneck from Vogue Knitting Winter 2015/2016. This is a top-down knit (you go back and add the turtleneck at the end). I’m really excited about it, and have been working on it so much over the past week, that I’ve made a lot of progress since the photo below was take. Now the body is nearly complete!
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Not shown in this post are the two sweaters that I’m knitting for the boys that are nearly complete, but have been completely ignored since I started my sweater. eek! I’m hoping to finish up theirs this week and then take them on our next winter camping trip for some photos – nothing like a good finished project photoshoot to inspire actually finishing the project.

{Sewing}

But don’t worry, the boys are getting plenty of DIY attention. I was also gifted a serger for Christmas, so I’ve started to experiment with sewing clothes from knitted and spandex fabrics. This was something that I was always nervous to do on my regular sewing machine, but funnily enough, I’ve since experimented and successfully sewed spandex on the regular machine! WIPS_march2017d

Above is a simple boatneck shirt that I made for Luc. This was my very first serger project, and I’m so happy with how it turned out – look at those seams!

After that project, I sewed a pair of spandex leggings for Alex. The leggings were a bit more complicated with their elastic waist and the more slippery fabric, but they’re passable!

In the process of just those two projects, I’ve learned so many new techniques, and just like the weaving, I’m now paying attention to clothes, patterns, and new-to-me sewing resources online. I have plans to sew a few simple things for myself, and (of course) I want to continue blogging about these projects, so when I do, I’ll share some of those resources, tips, and tricks in a future posts!

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So, that’s what’s going on in this house, what about you? Do you have any fun projects going on? Any new skills that you’re learning?

And most importantly, what are you doing to calm your mind when you think the news can’t get any crazier, and then {BAM!} someone’s wires are tapped? Or crossed. Yes, the wires definitely got crossed somewhere along the way.

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Teachable Moments : Bugs!

I’m starting a new series on the blog to share some of the education adventures that the boys and I go on; you can read my introductory post here.

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Mamas and Papas, I’ve decided that fall through spring is the perfect time to investigate bugs!

You’re confused, I know, but hear me out : I spend those seasons vacuuming up all sorts of insects in our house. There are stink bugs, green lacewings, some wasps, flies, and sometimes lady bugs. So, rather than toss the dead bugs in the trash, they are the perfect specimens for learning.

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Have your kiddos collect a bunch of bugs, and then start asking them probing questions that get them observing.

  • You could start with an open-ended : What do the bugs look like?
  • And then get more specific : What color are they?
  • How many legs do they have?
  • How many wings?
  • If you’ve found more than one variety : How are the bugs different or the same?
  • And then you could build curiosity: How did they get in the house?

I try not to hammer them with questions. Instead, I like to sit back and let them explore, but the questions can help to get them thinking and/or they’re just handy to have in mind if you’re having a conversation about the insects and want to keep it going.

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Introduce your kids to scientific tools. We have a few magnifying glasses and the kids’ microscope that you see in the photo above. We also happened upon a super easy trick – use a macro lens on your phone to shoot a zoom-in photo of the insects. If your kids are like mine, they will be amazed at the detail! While they love using their tools, I’ve found that the tools don’t come with the strongest lenses and it can be hard for shaky/excited hands to keep everything in focus. Using the macro photograph is one of the easiest ways to expand your kids’ awe and curiosity about bugs – they can’t believe all of the details that are on the bug sitting there on the table (the fuzzy hairs, the patterns that just looked like stripes now are something else, etc.).

For better or worse, seeing the bugs magnified to this level makes it easier to anthropomorphize the insects, which can lead to some awesome learning conversations. My guys like to talk about the bugs families, what the different members of the family do, where they get their food, etc. And then this can lead to more detailed discussions about the social structure of some bugs, their lifecycle, the predator/prey relationships, and on and on.

When it comes to bug-related tools, we have a bug box that’s handy when we’re catching and analyzing live insects.

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We also like to pull out the insect field guides to look up the insects we’ve found. The first time I pulled out this book, Alex went bonkers! He couldn’t believe all of the different insects that were in the book. So, I gave him plenty of time to just browse the book. Then we narrowed in on the insects we had, once we were on the right page, I had him find the specific insect, and then we read about them.

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My goal is for us to do activities like this over and over again whenever the interest arises, with the intent to increase the boys’ depth of knowledge each time. Some examples include teaching them the correct names of insect parts, the lifecycle of the insect, their role in the ecosystem. And here are a few other simple ideas for extending this activity:

  • draw pictures of the insects
  • discuss and paint a picture of their habitat
  • visit the insect exhibits at your local natural history museum
  • during the summer, we like to start by catching some bugs in the garden! This is one of the easiest ways to discuss the insects’ role in the ecosystem, their preferred habitat, and food. We don’t kill them, but we are still able to carry out a variety of the activities above, and this is where having the bug box is key to keeping your live specimens in one place.

If you’re a bug lover, a parent, or just someone with an idea, I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any other ideas for introducing kids to insects? Do you have any favorite insect facts?

*This post contains affiliate links.
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Teachable Moments : an Introduction

Now that Alex is nearing 4 years old and Luc is nearing 2, I’m starting to be more intentional with how we spend some of our time together. While they spend their days playing, I want to highlight more “teachable moments” that challenge the boys to learn new skills, whether it’s physical, practical, and/or academic. And since we blog about what we love and what’s important to us, I’m hoping to share some of these pre-school teaching adventures on the blog.

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We’ve already started some of this work and sharing through the Cooking with Kids series, but I’d like to expand the posts to share some of the work we’re doing outside of the kitchen.

Our Learning Philosophy

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, it’s no surprise that Sarah and I enjoy challenging ourselves to learn new things, and (of course), we love to share what we’ve learned with others. Much of what we do here on the blog is from the perspective of an amateur in that we’ve had no formal schooling in cooking, crafting, or potion-making, yet other things we do from the perspective of professionals (Sarah as a photographer and yogi, myself as a scientist, naturalist, and quasi-economist). Beyond spending years as a student, I’ve also worked as an educator in one capacity or another (volunteering to work with high school kids in urban gardens, being a teaching assistant in grad school, and teaching college courses). All that’s to say that we have many passions, some we’ve pursued through formal education and others we’ve pursued as hobbies.

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As you may expect, we’re keen to pass our love of learning on to the boys. The most important skills that I hope to nurture in them are to be observant of the world around them, ask questions about how the world works, and come up with ideas that try to answer those questions. I’m hoping to raise curious problem solvers. Of course, I’m also hoping to raise kiddos with a social conscious, but aren’t we all? I hope?

What are Teachable Moments?

While they’re still young, I’m not concerned about enrolling the kiddos in a rigorous academic environment, rather, I think it’s fairly easy to engage them in teachable moments no matter what we’re doing from one day to the next. For example, Alex is starting to identify letters of the alphabet and spell simple words. He doesn’t need worksheets to help with this, instead, we’re always finding moments to have him find letters (road signs, cereal boxes, books, etc.). And Luc’s learning is much more basic – he’s learning to form sentences, ask questions, and (of course) he tries to copy anything his big brother does from counting to jumping off the furniture. So we spend a lot of time talking to/with Luc (not at him) to help his language develop. I ask him questions, give him time to answer. Before he was even speaking in sentences, I would really listen when he was making noises at me, because often he had something he was trying to communicate.

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Whatever the subject manner, there’s often a way to relate to it in our day-to-day lives. For example, Calder and I were total dorks when we bought the NPS pass and talked about the utility we get just from knowing that we could go to any park at any time… and when I’m hiking in the mountains, a rock slide makes me want to talk about entropy – the idea that things gradually go from an ordered to disordered state. The bottom line is that there are so many moments in the day where we could stop, observe, and start an academic conversation about a whole slew of topics.

But those are big ideas. At the boys’ age, I like to follow their curiosity. Some days we’re using blocks to see who can build the highest tower, and why does one stay up while another falls? Other days we’re sitting outside for hours looking for bugs, watching where they go and what they do. And other days, we’re mixing food coloring into homemade gak to see what happens when we mix red with blue (purple!), but what if we add yellow and green too (brown!)?

Teaching Resources

Right now, given the boys’ ages, our conversations and teachable moments are really pretty mellow, but they’re there, and more are happening every day – especially with Alex.

I’ve started to look for some resources that I can refer to as I think about fostering a creative, problem-solving, independent environment in (and outside!) our house.

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For the most part, I’ve been leaning on my intuition and ideas from our mom who is a retired teacher, but I’ve also begun to turn to a couple of books:

  • Tinkerlab is a great resource for helping parents to foster a more creative and exploratory learning environment at home. It begins with a few sections discussing the importance of letting kids tinker, how to organize your home, and lists of suggested tinkering supplies for kids. Then the bulk of the book provides ideas for tinkering activities, organized broadly under the topics of “design, build, concoct, and discover”. There’s also a Tinkerlab website bursting with ideas and inspiring posts.
  • The Outdoor Classroom in Practice, Ages 3-7 is a great basic resource if you would like to have some practical help for creating a forest school environment. Admittedly, we aren’t spending our full days outside, but it is a major goal of mine to have a lot of the boys learning and activities taking place outside. This is a month-by-month guide with ideas for introducing children to the idea of a forest school and with a few simple seasonally-appropriate activities for each month.
  • The Kids’ Nature Book This book is out of print, but Sarah picked up a copy for us at a used book store. There are other versions of nature activity books available, but I really love this one. It gives you an activity idea for every day of the year – that’s 365 ideas! Some are super simple (measure the snowfall), while others are more intensive. The bottom line is that you can find an activity that’s appropriate for any moment and age level. I’ll come back to this book in a future post and talk in more detail about how I use it.

In addition to those books, as we all know, the internet is full of ideas, and I have a few Pinterest boards to help me keep those resources organized.

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I’m exciting to start this series on the blog, and am thinking about a variety of future posts covering everything from how we create teachable moments while on vacation to our early experiments with learning letters. I know these posts won’t be for everyone, but I’m hoping that there’s a community of readers who would like to join in this discussion and share their teachable moments.

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Winter (Van) Camping

We like to get outside every chance we get, whether it’s a quick run, a day-long hike, or a weekend camping trip. You can see all of our outdoor adventures here, and more of our Colorado hikes here.

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Last weekend we packed up the van and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park for an overnight adventure! Since winter camping is not a common past time, especially if you have little kids, I thought I’d share some details about our adventure, and hopefully encourage you to take off into the snowy mountains for a weekend of fun.

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Like Haiyaha Hike

We like a good hike, and every once in a while we have the chance to hike slow, take pictures, and share the adventure with you. You can check out some of our previous Colorado hikes here.

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These are photos from a hike that we took a few months ago, and I just happened to find them here in an unpublished post. I was so sure that I wrote about this hike, but a few searches finally convinced me that I’m crazy.

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2017 Resolutions

Want to see how this list compares to the past? Here are my 2016 and 2015 resolutions.

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I know everyone’s not in the same boat, but I love setting intentions and goals for the new year. I like that it creates a challenge within a timeframe. I’m always trying to better myself and create a better home for our family in a number of ways, but saying and writing specific ideas down at the beginning of the year gives me a bit of focus that I don’t have when I just say “become more healthy”, “do more of this or that with the boys”, etc.

I also like that when creating the coming year’s resolutions, we take a moment to look back and reassess how we did the previous year (who am I kidding, since I live with the Resolution Master, our assessing starts in August!). With that in mind, I thought a little looking back would be nice before diving into 2017.

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As I titled last year’s resolution post, it’s always a lot of same same, but different. I’m so SO happy with how well-nourished our family was in all aspects of mind, body, and soul. We ate so well (did you see those farm share posts?!). The boys are growing and learning new physical and mental skills left and right. As a family, we spent so much time outdoors. We filled every weekend and many weekdays with adventures, some big and some little, just like I wanted. Personally, I ended the year feeling really happy and content, and I think this is a reflection of how much I was able to take care of myself with exercise, creative projects, and doing it all while taking care of the day-to-day business without feeling overwhelmed. So, while the world seemed to be crashing down around us (I’m looking at you, presidential election), in our home, all is well.

This year, my biggest goal is just to keep on, keeping on. I want to keep doing all that good stuff, and improve it with a few key goals.

  • 100 sun salutations – last year I wanted to do a sun salutation a day. I kept this up for a long time, but then it fell by the wayside, and somehow I had that mental block where I couldn’t start it again because I had already missed too many days. Why do we do that to ourselves?! Anyway, rather than a daily task, I’m shooting for 100 total (but maybe really 1-a-day, wink wink).
  • sew some clothes with knit fabrics (think sweat shirts, t-shirts, leggings) – I was give a serger for Christmas, and if you know anything about sewing machines, then you know that these are great for sewing clothes (they create the tidy seams that you see if you look inside almost any factory-made shirt). And sergers are particularly handy for sewing knit fabrics because they create a stretchy seam that’s necessary for that material. So, I want to stretch my sewing and clothes-making muscles by making some clothes for myself and the boys.
  • weave! – I also received a table/lap loom for Christmas and am so excited to start using up my crazy yarn stash by learning to weave. My exact goal is to make a wall hanging for one of our rooms. I have this idea to create something that’s actually going to be a combination of multiple individual weavings (more on that in another post!).
  • make a specific curriculum plan for the boys – I’m going to talk about this more in a series of posts, but a quick summary is that the boys are still young and they’re home with me rather than in daycare/preschool. I love it this way, and the educator in me loves to think of ways to integrate learning opportunities in our day-to-day play. It’s been going great so far, but I think it would make me happy to have an overarching plan to some of our play. I know that’s a bit vague, but I’m hoping to explore the idea on the blog in real time.
  • get to Great Sand Dunes NP! – Great Sand Dunes looks like such a crazy place, and it’s in our state! I’m making it a personal goal of mine to get our family there for at least one visit this year. Hopefully it’ll involve camping and a bit of exploring that area of Colorado. eek!

Those are my big goals for the year. I think it’s such a manageable list, but what’s not on it are some of the goals that I keep setting and then not finishing. I’m looking at you, room full of instruments. I would really love to spend more time practicing the piano and violin. I decided not to make it a specific resolution this year, but I’m hoping that as I spend less time changing diapers, I’ll eventually find more time for making music.

I’ve also taken this excitement of the new year to make a few simple changes. I was getting tired of my old exfoliating face wash, so I picked up an alternative that I’m loving (more on that after a few more weeks of testing). I also decided that I want to drink more water, but somehow this seems too lame to be a resolution. I’m doing it and tracking my progress in Streaks (also tracking my daily sun salutations and how much I read), and I hope that’s enough to make me more aware of my water intake, and that in a few weeks it’ll just become habit… hope springs eternal (ha! pun intended).

What about you? Any resolutions that you’re excited about this year? Any that you’re re-doing from last year?

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Winter Break Snapshots

What a winter break we’ve had! We have one more day left tomorrow, and we’re going to do what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks – spend it outside. It seems like we’ve really hit our stride this year when it comes to embracing the winter. Of course, it’s all about good clothes, a good spirit, and just doing it, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Today, I’m sharing just a glimpse of what we’ve been up to these past few weeks.

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We started our break in Steamboat Springs, CO (one of our favorite ski towns in the state!). We arrived at the start of a snowstorm that lasted well into the next day and maybe the day after? I can’t remember. But we still had a great time skiing and snowshoeing all over the mountain.

On our third, and final, day in town, we visited Strawberry Park Hot Springs before driving home. We had been here once last winter, and it was just as magical as I remembered.

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We arrived home the same day that Sarah and our family flew into town, and then every pitched in and helped us prepare to host a big party for C’s office. There was definitely a moment of “what are we doing?!” the night before, but in the end, the party was awesome, the food delicious, the company amazing, and the music pumping.
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The party was followed by a day of rest and then it was off to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad with Santa! We did this last year and I was really excited to do it again. When you arrive at the station, there’s hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts to munch on. Then you board the train and start riding with the excitement of knowing that Santa’s going to come and sit with you to say hi. It’s such a nice way to visit Santa, because there are no lines – you just wait in your seat on the train until Santa gets to you, meanwhile, the train’s moving through the beautiful Colorado mountains.
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Back in Boulder, we did more hiking. christmas_break2016_12

And snowball throwing. christmas_break2016_13 christmas_break2016_14

And then it was off to the mountains again for more skiing and snowshoeing!
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Home for more hiking…christmas_break2016_24 christmas_break2016_25

And here we are, relaxing, making our list of resolutions, and preparing for one more day on the slopes before we’re back to a regularly scheduled week.

I hope your break was full of warmth, family, food, and all of that holiday magic. xo

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Shop Live Seasoned

Yesterday we shared a sneak peak of our elving and today we’re back with more gifting ideas. You may have seen a snap or two of our new products on Instagram and now it’s official, our etsy shop, Live Seasoned is stocked with new goodies. We took a break over the summer to come up not only with new potions, but new ways to present them.

First off, we tweaked the way we stock our shop.  From now on, we’ll be offering our lip balms, salves and other potions in batches. What does that mean? Well, instead of having a few set flavors and scents, we’ll be making and mixing as we see fit. Depending on the season, our mood and inspiration, we’ll create different batches of each item in limited numbers. If you order something and fall in love with it, it’s best to order more immediately since there’s no way of knowing when we’ll create a similar batch.  Working in batches instead of trying to stick to a set inventory helps us stay motivated and feel inspired with our selection of products. It also allows us to tweak and adjust our potions as we see fit. We’re pretty pumped about this transition and we’re hoping you feel the same.

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On that same note, as the seasons sway us this way and that, we’re thinking up new products. Some silly, some serious. We love filling our homes with the scent of burning Palo Santo just as much as we enjoy stuffing cockroach soaps into our buddies’ stockings. Dino lovers in your life? We have something for them too.

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We are also introducing cardboard balm tubes, woohoo! This was something we wanted to do from day one, but were hesitant about because there’s quite a price difference between cardboard and plastic. After a year of dealing with (and not totally loving) the plastic tubes, we caved (or did we evolve?) and purchased cardboard tubes. Truth be told, we couldn’t be happier with the look and feel of these tubes. Added bonus?  They take less energy to produce and dispose of. To us, they just feel right. What do you think? We’re all ears.roach_soap If you’re on the batch bus or you’ve called your seat in the cardboard car, then hop over to our Live Seasoned etsy shop and browse our handmade line of goods for your healthy home.

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