Tag Archives: family fun

Shells & Alice Walker

 

Yesterday afternoon we were wandering along the shoreline, playing in the surf and happening upon gorgeous shells that were strewn along the shore.  Gorgeous shells just cast about like little gems.  No matter how many times I visit this part of the Gulf Coast – Marco Island and Sanibel Island – I’m always amazed by the shells.  Amazed someone has not already scooped them all up and hauled them away.  Surprised that there are always more.   And thrilled by all of the beauty that you will just stumble upon.

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As I woke up this morning and reflected on our experiences yesterday, I was reminded of this poem I love – on what we love and value.   Its a perfectly timed reminder to be present and elevate and focus on what really matters.  Thanks, Ms. Walker.

 

We Alone Can Devalue Gold – by Alice Walker

We alone can devalue gold

by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.

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Wonder! Stunning Exhibit at Renwick

We were in DC a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our oldest daughter’s 21st birthday.  I was excited to fit in a visit to the Renwick Gallery to see their exhibit – Wonder!   I love that  the exhibits were large and immersive – experiences that you could take in with all of your senses.  In the exhibit they basically turned over the museum space to nine contemporary artists, who filled the space with large, immersive and stunning exhibits.    The boys and I had a great time exploring the museum.  Highly recommend!

Check out this link to take a virtual tour of the exhibit.  It’s absolutely worth a visit the next time you are in the DC area.

Wonder! at the Renwick Gallery     The building itself is gorgeous!

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A few of our favorite images from the exhibit.

from the Patrick Dougherty exhibit

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from the Gabriel Dawe exhibit

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from the Tara Donovan exhibit

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from the John Grade exhibit

 

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from the Janet Echelman exhibit

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from the Jennifer Angus exhibit

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from the Chakaia Booker exhibit

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from the Maya Lin exhibit

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Christmas Decorations – Maker Style

The boys and I headed down to 757 Makerspace today after a little bit of a hiatus.  Great to be back and such a fun afternoon!

We got to use silicone molds to cast some snowflake ornaments, the customize some glass ornaments with the laser cutter.  Creative, hands-on afternoon and some really original ornaments to bring home.  Justin said we should plan to make a custom ornament every year.  Great idea!!

Here are a few pics.

We worked with the liquid plastics last year when we were first introduced to mold-making.  Last year we made this cool storm trooper using the same technique.

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This year Beau had snowflake molds already made up and ready to go.

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Both times we used Smooth-Case liquid plastics, mixing two part solutions that you pour into the mold, wait for it to cure, and voila!  (provided your measurements were solid) 🙂

Most times we have tried it it worked great.  Today one of my my snowflakes flopped, but we quickly mixed up another one.

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While the casts were curing, a small group of us headed over to the laser cutter.  We were able to design the images and text that we wanted on our ornament, then watch as the laser cutter did its magic.

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Pretty amazing that the laser cutter can hold and laser cut so many different substances – even wood, stone, and in our case glass.

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Always lots of great creative energy around Makerspace – and today was no exception.  🙂

 

 

 

Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned, electronics-free fun!  So what could be better than an afternoon at a local farm

  • exploring the pumpkin patches,
  • getting lost in the corn maze,
  • wandering through the field of sunflowers,
  • taking a hay ride on the tractor around the farm
  • eating apple cider donuts, and
  • watching the kids come up with simple and silly games involving hay bales and dried ears of corn.

Triple the fun by visiting your local farm with a couple other families because the more the merrier!  (Plus –  I wouldn’t dare venture into a corn maze alone … bit of a scaredy cat!) 🙂

Here are a few pics from our weekend adventure at Cullipher Farms here in Virginia Beach.

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Best buddies on the top of the world – making it rain corn!
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love the dots of orange all across the pumpkin patch
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they made a track out of hay bales – which they were our size
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they even had a sunflower maze!
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one of the sites from our hayride
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added bonus – got to spend a beautiful fall afternoon with a couple of my favorite gals!

Tackling Sugar Pumpkins

They look so darn cute, that for years I just bought them as decorations.   Somehow I think some of you might have done the same??  But this year I decided to try to roast them and use fresh pumpkin instead of canned for our pumpkin bread.  And as a little bonus, we made some toasted pumpkin seeds to boot!  So I recruited Justin to help me.

Now I will admit – the skin of these little sugar pumpkins were stubborn!  But once we got past the first step, it was easy sailing.  And I’m excited to see how my pumpkin bread recipe will be different from fresh pumpkin – fingers crossed on that.

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Our first sugar pumpkin – from Farm Chicks Produce CSA.

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Justin was ready to help remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half … til we realized that it seemed to be made of titanium and would require a little more elbow grease than he had.

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So first we removed the step and top section of the pumkin

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Then we cut it in half and scoped the seeds and fleshy center into a bowl – for toasted pumpkin seeds later.  Definitely save the seeds!

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We placed in a 350 degree oven, covered in foil, and roasted for about an hour.  Depends on the size of your pumpkin.  You know its ready when the pumpkin flesh can be scooped with a spoon or fork.  (the instructions I used online said the skin would be very soft now – mine was not, but the pumpkin was still soft and ready.)

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Ta-da!  Freshly roasted sugar pumpkin.  You can then use it in recipes … pumpkin bread for breakfast tomorrow.

Now for a little bonus, we whipped up the toasted pumpkin seeds.  Justin made these – though he thought it was pretty gross to have to separate the seeds from the stringy pulp in the center.  I think he washed his hands 10 times during this part 🙂  All you do is:

(1) separate the seeds from the stringy, fleshy center

(2) rinse in a colander and drip dry (don’t use a paper towel – the seeds will stick)

(3) place the seeds on a greased cookie sheet and toss with olive oil and spices (we did garlic olive oil and several herbs … so many possibilities.)

(4) bake in the same oven as the pumpkin you are roasting, but only for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

(5) yum!

Gorgeous Sand Sculptures

Sand sculptors from around the world are competing in the Neptune Intl Sand Sculpting Championship.  They are creative, complex and amazing in any medium, but this is SAND.  Heck, I can’t even get a basic tower out of a sand bucket intact so these are fantastic accomplishments.

Josh and I headed down to the oceanfront yesterday afternoon to check them out.  The weather isn’t great this weekend so hope plenty make it down in spite of the weather.  All is safe and dry under the tents.

Here are a few of our favorites.

ETC Indie Music & Art Festival

I love that we have so many terrific festivals here in Hampton Roads in fall.  Although the temps today felt more like a return to summer … but still.  The boys and I headed down to the waterside at Towne Point Park today for the ETC Indie Music & Arts Festival.  We have had a great time the last couple years!

I adore that we we have such a gorgeous waterfront venue – green space, water views, multiple stages, and wonderfully thought out seating areas to make it feel more like outdoor living space.  It’s colorful and inviting and I always love spending time there.  Today was no exception.

We caught music from some great bands – The Dahus, KOA, and local singer-songwriter Skye Zentz.  The music was terrific, the crowd was having fun.  I only wish more people realized what a great scene and festival it was … there was plenty of room for more people.  Hopefully the turnout will be good this evening for the featured band – The Mowglis.  Sorry to miss them but schedules just weren’t going to work for that.

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We LOVED the game area that they setup for the festival.  Justin settled in and went from being ready to leave quickly to having a great time and not being in any hurry to leave.    Ping pong, giant Jenga set, foosball, checkers.  Classic games that had kids meeting and playing with other kids, challenging their parents, and basically just hanging out.  My kind of setting!   And there were some great artists too – found a piece of pallet art that I loved and brought home … nice Welcome sign for our entryway.

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And the sky was AMAZING – gorgeous blue with cloud formations sprinkled across the sky.  We sat along the deck and had lunch, watching the sailboats and enjoying the beautiful view.

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Kudos on a great job with this festival!  Our family had a great time and it will definitely be back on the calendar next year.

Joy in Ordinary Moments – Welcome Fall!

There’s a wonderful quote from Brene Brown that goes:

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As we shift from summer into fall, this seems fitting.  During summer months, we tend to seek out the extraordinary – great vacations, outdoor adventures, etc.  Back to school and fall bring us back into a routine and a cadence to our days and weeks. Perhaps more ‘ordinary’ moments – but full of opportunities for joy and love and gratitude.

  • sharpened pencils – because, I mean really, there are few ordinary things better the night before school starts 🙂
  • the gorgeous color of mums on our front porch
  • baking – giant, soft ginger cookies are our back to school tradition
  • pumpkin patches, bobbing for apples, corn mazes
  • the comfort of our routines – bedtimes, reading time, packing lunches
  • the changing color of the leaves
  • the cool breeze in the air
  • more family dinners around the table because our schedules are a little more normal

Each season we try to create a ‘bucket list’ – with a few of the things that we open to experience in the upcoming season.  And when it comes to fall, its an oldies-but-goodies list that rarely changes.

Making Robots! Int’l NodeBots Day at 757 Makerspace

It was another terrific Maker Saturday at 757 Makerspace!  For the second year in a row they celebrated International NoteBots Day by opening up the site for free to the public to tinker with building, driving and battling bots.  I just can’t say enough good things about the wonderful camaraderie and the culture of coaching and assisting that ran through the event.

There were plenty of Sumobot kits, decorations to give our bots some personality, and plenty of laptops to test out our creations.  Justin loved playing with the copter bots that run on JavaScript, and was learning then teaching some younger kids how to organize he commands to guide the copters.  We had built bots at Makerspace once before, but this was our first time battling bots.  Hilarious!  Once our bot was done Josh decided to ‘enhance’ it with some bumpers – colorful ones made of neon pipe cleaners!  It was great … until they fell off just as the bot was placed into the ring to begin.  We laughed SO hard!

Everyone was laughing, cheering, just having a great time.  Thanks to 757 Makerspace and their sponsors – Grow, Emerging Technology Advisors, 80/20 Consulting, Balderdash, CodeBetter.com, Designology – for organizing the event and making it free to the public so that more could participate and also check out the great community at our local makerspace.

Here are a few pics from the first half of the day that we attended.  Our family is a member of Makerspace – to check out some of the other great programs, check out a few other blog posts here: Recent Blog Posts at 757 Makerspace.  Highly recommend you check them out and visit.  Its a great community to learn, tinker and have fun with family!

Maker Saturday: Molds, Mold Making and Casting Objects

On the heels of a great blacksmithing series at 757 Makerspace, this week we transitioned to classes on Making Molds and Casting Objects.  There’s a lot to learn so today was an introduction, with some basic hands on practice.   We primarily worked with one technique today – thermoforming, or vacuum forming.

My take on the basics from today’s intro:

  • a plastic sheet is heated to a temp that makes it pliable
  • that plastic sheet is then stretched over the object to be molded
  • its them cooled into the finished shape; thickness of the plastic sheet needed depends on the size and height of the object you are trying to mold
  • the original model is them removed from the mold and it can be filled with a range of materials to create copies.  bit of art and science in removing your objects from the model
  • we used a table top machine to help us do this
  • Can fill the molds with a range of substances – we used liquid plastic today, but many other possibilities like foam, resin, etc.

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Our instructor, Scot Clark, did a terrific job getting us introduced to mold making with the basics while sharing some of his great work and giving us some ideas of more sophisticated techniques.   His creativity definitely came through and he did a great job teaching us newbies while enticing us with the possibilities once you master the basics and move onto more advanced molding techniques.  He shared some of his special effects and ghoulish Halloween creations (think zombies, skulls etc).  Josh and Santiago were definitely drawn to the zombie he brought in!

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I love the way he described the work he does in special effects as ‘problem solving’ where someone wants to achieve something and he has to determine how to achieve that look or effect with materials!  Love that angle on the work – as a fellow professional ‘problem solver.’

Scot mentioned being part of the team that worked on the Year of the Dragon display for the Bellagio Hotel and described how they used molds to create the parts of the dragons.  Josh quickly googled the display and this is what we found – amazing!

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For next week’s class we can bring a small item to mold – so need to decide what I might bring.  The younger kids will be working with Lego mini-figures to create molds … right up Justin’s alley 🙂

 

Looking forward to next week’s session!  And trying to decide on some family projects to work on at Makerspace in addition to the classes.  Some metalwork and pallet art ideas mulling around.   Thanks again to Beau for arranging a great series.

 

To check out 757 MakerSpace, visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Maker Saturday: Blacksmithing

Today we tried our hand at blacksmithing for the second time – this time the teen/adult class at 757 Makerspace!   Great learning and really interesting too.   There’s something so rewarding about working with your hands to mold, shape and craft something.

My son Josh and nephew Santiago tried their hand at it today.  Our tools included: a bellows to add oxygen to the fire and increase its heat, hammers, tongs, an anvil, a vise, and some beeswax.  Under the guidance of their resident blacksmith, Nathan, we heated, curved and twisted our metal rods – learning the basics of how to work with metal.

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And after learning how to heat and shape metal in the forge, so many ideas kicking around of what blacksmithing project we might want to make once the classes are done.  So many possibilities!!

The boys ideas: knives, swords, tools

My ideas: jewelry, metal sculpture

 

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Thanks to David Demmin for sharing this picture from the class.

 

And our classmates were such a fun and diverse group.   A few memorable and funny out-takes:

  • “Honey: I’m going to make a set of knives.  It’s a 3-year project!”
  • “What do you get when you mix s’mores and an iron forge?  S’MORGE!”
  • “I can bend metal with my bare hands!  (and about 2600 degrees of heat)”

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  • “My metal twist is better than your metal twist!” (OK … so my competitive streak came out for a moment 🙂 )
  • “Those tools look like medieval torture devices!”

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Looking forward to next week’s class, and choosing a project of our own to create.

Get Up And Make! The Maker Movement

We got a peek into a great ‘maker’ community here in Hampton Roads today at 757 Makerspace, and I am SO excited!  It reminds me of the many years that I coached creative problem solving teams with Destination Imagination.  Artists, crafters, makers – learning and experimenting aLearning, imagining, creating, messy and imperfect – and FUN!   The idea that if you can imagine it, you can make it.  And have fun learning how and trying.

Check them out!

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757 Makerspace website

And if you are not in Hampton Roads, see if you can find a similar community center in your town.

Today we checked out a blacksmithing class.  About 25 kids and their parents braved 30 degree temps to try their hand at learning the basics of blacksmithing.  Metal, fire – what else do you need, right???

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And we are definitely lucky to have the guys and gals of 757 Makerspace who were fantastic with the kids and families.  A little teaching, some hands on practice, and some fun!  We are so excited to get back there next weekend for another class and see what other  things we can get into.

I think most of us love to try our hand at new things.  And exposing ourselves and our kids to the things we can do, create, make with our own hands and the help of others is a perfect antidote for too much screen time and standardized testing.  To get us all taking our ideas and trying them out, bringing them into reality.

Here’s a Parenting Idea for 2015:

FLIP THE SITUATION!  Instead of lamenting how much time kids spend in front of screens this year, plan an outing to do something hands on – whether that’s an outing in nature or a class where you can all create something with your hands and learn a new skill!  

Maybe find a way to create a little ‘maker box’ or ‘maker space’ of your own home for tinkering.  Try to get your school to get a ‘maker club’ going to get kids engaged with their minds and their hands.

And the same applies to all of us.  What kind of projects have we had in mind that we would love to see come to life?

Let’s find some new, fun and creative alternatives and get the creative juices flowing!