Making : Jewelry

Over Mother’s day, we were at the beach.  We wanted to show the Pacific Coast, here in Oregon, to our friends Mac and Ros.  We spend few days there, and we had great weather.  From warm sunshine, to a colder breeze and even a little rain.  A perfect sample of what the coast is like over in this part of the world.


We had so much fun.  One of the things we did, and showed them, was how to find agates. We went to our two sure spots, and found quite a few!  It is always so much fun.

Now, with our treasure back at home, we set ourselves to make earrings. Neither one of us had done any before, but we thought it would be fun.


We first picked those two that were most similar.

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And then did the best we could in tying the agates with thin wire we found at Joann’s.  Then hooked the left over wire to the earring piece, and they were done!

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And Siena made some with shells too.

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This pair of shell earrings for a friend.

Ancient Egypt


After studying the Native Americans, ending with The Plains Indians, we, Siena and Lucas, decided that they wanted to study Ancient Egypt next.  It sounded like fun so we went for it.  About 5 weeks in all.

We first watched a video of what is Egypt like today and their families. A great video for kids, and it was a fun introduction.  The same day we read a little bit more about the country today, where it is located, we colored and drew a flag, and looked at the map and globe to see where we were traveling next.


The next day we painted a map of Ancient Egypt.

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We used a large cardboard and drew the land and the water bodies.  Then we painted it and let it dry for a day. DSC_0005-small DSC_0022-small

The following day, we drew around it with Sharpies to see more details.


We used many books from the library (see list at the end of this post). Fiction and non-fiction.  Siena likes these history  books (we’ve done them throughout the year.)  So we used the History Pocket, Ancient Egypt and the History Pocket, Ancient Civilizations.

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They have lots of crafts related to what we are studying, and easy enough for Lucas to enjoy too.

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We made a collar with a piece of white canvas I had in my pile.  We first drew 1-inch lines all the way around it, so they can make the designs evenly.

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We looked at Egyptians designs in all the books we had. Then decided to draw the details.


We used fabric markers, and I think we could have used Sharpies as well. (We love Sharpies here in my house!)DSC_0130-small DSC_0225-smallWe did some drawings from Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt book.

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We used all sorts of pens and markers and these paints we’ve had for a very long time, that are like big markets with rounded foamy tip.

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We also tested why Egyptians painted the houses white instead of black or any other dark color.  We put a black and a white piece of construction paper and an ice cube on each one.  We waited (many days actually!) for a sunny enough day to do this test.

And to tell you the truth, the experiment didn’t work.  Not sure why. They both melted almost at the same time.  I thought there would be more of a difference, but it didn’t.  Maybe it was because we used these already cutout pieces of paper (just kidding) or because we moved them around every few minutes when we checked on them… not sure why.  I think we’ll have to try it again when it’s a little warmer and more clearly sunny.


I found online somewhere (sorry… I can’t find my notes right now with the printed page of the instructions for this project) instructions to make a cartouche with plaster of Paris.  I had a little bit, so we set ourselves to make it.  It’s an oval piece that has your name, written in hieroglyphs, of course.

We made the mix and set it out to dry, but it dry so slow that we forgot about it, until, of course, it was too late and it was too hard to draw on it anymore.  So it didn’t really worked. I think I would have tried to make this other cartouche instead, using Sculpey clay instead with the instructions from the link to the Boise Art Museum.


We still had fun writing our names and other words in Egyptian hieroglyphs.


We used hieroglyphs to make a frame, but we haven’t quite finished them yet.  We used some frame mattes we had we had grabbed at SCRAP a while back.  And yes, you guessed it, Sharpies of all sorts of colors to make the designs around.

On a different post I will share the other three projects we did, because they deserve a whole day all on themselves.  We made two activities of mummification and we also made paper from papyrus.  Really fun all of it!

And here’s the list of the books we used for this Ancient Egypt block.  In no special order:

  1. Hatshepsut of Egypt by Shirin Yim Bridges.
  2. Egypt by Ann Heinrichs.  A fact book of today.
  3. Ancient Egypt : tales of gods and pharaohs by Marcia Williams.
  4. I wonder why pyramids were built? and other questions about ancient Egypt by Philip Steele.
  5. Ancient Egypt and the Nile by Joyce Filer.
  6. Food and cooking in ancient Egypt by Clyde Gifford.
  7. Ancient Egypt by Miranda Smith.
  8. Ralph Masiello’s ancient Egypt drawing book by Ralph Masiello.
  9. Ancient Egypt by George Hart. Eyewitness book.
  10. Egypt by Joyce A. Tyldesley.
  11. Count your way through Egypt by Jim Kaskins.
  12. Great ancient Egypt projects you can build yourself by Carmella Van Vleet.
  13. If I were a kid in ancient Egypt.
  14. Mummies and ancient Egypt by Anita Ganeri.
  15. Families of Egypt (DVD) by Arden Films.
  16. National Geographic kids. Everything Ancient Egypt.
  17. Hands-on ancient people. Vol. I, Art activities about Mesopotamia, Egypt and Islam by Yvonne Y. Merrill.
  18. Ms. Frizzle’s adventures : ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole.
  19. Pyramids! : 50 hands-on activities to experience ancient Egypt by Avery Hart.
  20. Mummies in the Morning (#3) by Mary pope Osborne.
  21. Mummies and pyramids a nonfiction companion to Magic tree house # 3, Mummies in the morning by Mary Pope Osborne.
  22. Egyptians : Usborne Beginners by Stephanie Turnbull.
  23. Pocket Explorer Ancient Egypt and the Nile by Joyce Filer.
  24. Egypt: Enchantent of the World by Ann Heinrichs.

Hope any of this information is useful to you.  Let me know if you find any other neat projects you’ve done with a link to your post or tell us about it!

More swimming in our days


At the beginning of this spring, Lucas decided he wanted to be in a swim team too.  The  team that Siena was part of last year and that she left last March, deciding to go to the competitive team instead.


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It’s a homeschool swim team, part of the non-competitive swimming in Portland and the same coach that Siena had.  He is so good with the kids, knows a lot, always keeps us (parents) up to date on what he’s teaching them and what he’s planning to do next class.  He’s so good.  And we are lucky that Lucas has him as a coach now too, and that Siena continues to have him in her new team as well.  We like him.

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And Lucas loves going to his practices.  He’s learned to swim so quickly, we are all very impressed.

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He knew how to swim last summer, just a few feet at a time, but loved the water.  Then in the fall, he started with classes and went up after each session, learning so quickly.  In about 6 months time, he was able to swim not only in the deep end, but across the length of pool!

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And not even a year later, he’s now swimming about 30 times the length of pool in each practice.


And diving off the board!  Ok, I know I’m his mom here talking so proud of my little guy, but really, he’s done so good! It’s fun to write about it (and share with the grandparents far away.)


So now, it’s Siena’s turn to sit by my side when Lucas is practicing his swimming.


But she can’t really stand being at the side of the pool and not get in.  So now, we are able to swim laps together, while Lucas is practicing with his team.  We all like the water.


And Lucas is very excited he has his first (non-competitive) swim meet coming up.  And we are so very proud of him for being able and wanting to participate.  I’m just thinking what he was doing just 9 short months ago and how far he’s come.  We are going to be there to cheer for him.  Exciting, I know.

DSC_0780-smallAnd just like Siena.  He’s always smiling while he’s in the water.

MOA : the poles


Trying to learn to say Kwakwaka’wakw once, or as many times as the guide at the museum said, was fun.DSC_0001-small


The amazing House Posts.DSC_0888-small

Totem poles back in time and even today, are raised for different reasons.  These two are house posts to support large roof beams that would make a large dwelling for several families that were related. DSC_0890-small

I read at the Museum that they also stood for large decorations representing the supernatural ancestors and history of the chief.  These two carvings, because of the exaggerated features but some naturalistic features and proportions and because they are deeply carved are distinctive of  the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe.



House Front Poles are crests of the owner of the house.  The poles tell stories that are known in the family and are part of their history.


This is a Haida Interior House Post, made of red cedar around 1850 or before that.  It supported one of the roof beams but also it displayed the history of that family.

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You can see some more photos of the totem poles in our trip to Vancouver and why we decided to take this trip this year.  I could back any time and see it all over again.  I loved seeing them and learning all about them.

A great swim

The other day I wrote about Siena’s first competitive swim meet and how much fun it was.  Here are two of her races.  Fun to watch! So much fun to watch her actually.  She was happy to be in the middle of it all. Watching my kid who is going to be in the water with a bunch of other kids who love to swim and as excited to be in the water as much as she does, for a whole bunch of hours.  Can it get any better than that?

Hope you enjoy these couple of minutes as much as we all did here at home.

Her free style competition.

And Butterfly… her favorite.  I know I’m her mom, but doesn’t she make it look almost easy to do?

The spring that was…

Up until this week, we had a few amazing days that reminded me of summer.  I know it’s spring, May in Portland, but still.  As it does every year.  I thought we were having a summer-like spring, and yes we did.  But now it’s a lot more wet.


The rain came, and it hasn’t left.  Even with our thermostat set at 61 F, the heater has come on many times, and we are bringing the wool blankets and thick sweaters back out again.  I should have known it was too soon to speak.  But still… it is spring in Portland.

I got my camera out and clicked away.  Before the rain washed the stems, the petals, the colors away and watered the soil more than we probably need.


But it’s nature, and we are lucky to have it mild.  I welcome it as it comes. It gives me few more days of enjoying my warm slippers, my sweater and wool blankets.  And I got few pictures while the flowers were standing pretty.

DSC_0007-small DSC_0008-smallAnd I think we’ll have more coming up soon, too.

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DSC_0168-smallI know we’ll have more of this type of landscape as well…

DSC_0170-smallOh… and more of this too!  I made a strawberry-rhubarb syrup and have it in the freezer.  We enjoyed this new recipe for few weeks, while we had sunshine and there’s lots of rhubarb growing.  I found the recipe on Pinterest.  Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita  I made it something like this recipe. Perfect for hot weather!

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No hurry on my part.  It was just a teaser I know, and a great break to get us outside.  I’ll wait for the rest of it.  No problem.  I know it’s coming.

Today …

… I am re-reading this post by Rachel, from Hands Free Mama.  I love it.  For so many reasons, it keeps me grounded. It keeps me thinking.  It keeps me wishing and happy. It is just a beautiful reminder. Go check it out if you have few minutes.  It will make your heart happy.

… I am happy the basement hasn’t leaked.

… I am reminded of how much my kids pay attention, in many small ways.

… I am enjoying my new present.


… I am enjoying Siena wanting to do more studying on Egypt, even though I thought we were done.

… I am thankful we have a home and blankets, and food and clothes to keep us warm.  I feel lucky.

… We are all counting the days until summer break and enjoying this long weekend.

… We are having fun.  Playing, watching, taking pictures, watching videos of plays, dreaming, learning.


… I am enjoying all the photos I am going through.  From our visit with our friends who have just left home, and those photos from India I am still working on making our photo albums… an adventure that keeps on giving even after almost two years ago.

… I am happy for my parents that they’ll be able to celebrate, very soon, their oldest grandson’t wedding.  Oh… it’s really a beautiful news for all of us.

… I am wondering if we’ve gone back in time and it’s not really summer coming in a short month, we are actually in the middle of the winter!

… I am in love.



Have a good Friday!


MOA : the masks


The collection at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, was amazing.

We had seen some Native American’s masks at the Portland Art Museum, but it was nothing compared to the size of this collection.

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I could have spent a whole other day just studying and reading about them.  But we didn’t have more time. I think I’d like to go back to Vancouver and visit the museum again.  I thought it was amazing.


The bees + the swarms + bee-sharing

This year, with two hives, we saw more swarms.

DSC_0131-smallThis one, was the first one from our top hive, in the back yard.

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Here’s a video I took.  You can hear a little the bees flying, but nothing really compared to being in the middle of it.  I recommend it, if you are not allergic to bee stings, or don’t mind getting a little closer.  I haven’t gotten stung watching them.  It’s just amazing.

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I love how intense it is.  The sound, I find it paralizing.

DSC_0144-small DSC_0145-smallIncredible.

DSC_0146-small DSC_0159-smallJust totally incredibly amazing.

DSC_0160-small DSC_0161-smallFirst of all.  How do they decide where to swarm to.  How do they all communicate with each other.  How do they know when to go.  How can they hang on to each other in this huge, very huge mass, from one branch.

DSC_0165-smallMark decided he was able to get this swarm down.  We have some friends that built a hive and were ready for them.

DSC_0166-smallSo they got up there.

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So much fun to see them calm and working together getting all these bees in a box.  Making sure they get the queen.

DSC_0198-small DSC_0199-small DSC_0201-smallJustin making sure he got all his new ladies (and gentlemen.)

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One more bunch and they got almost all the bees.  Great work!

DSC_0222-smallAnd time to take them fast to their new home.  Bee-sharing, a great thing.

One more video of Justin and Mark shaking the tree to get the bees into the box.  Hoping the queen got in there and knowing later on, it had.  Almost all the bees were taken to their new home at Justin’s.  Bye ladies!  I’m sure you’ll be well taken cared of.