"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Splitting Firewood

 We don't have a wood stove, but my in-laws do.  I love to split wood.  Something about seeing it stack up - it's a good workout and you can physically see that you've accomplished something.  We usually help them split and stack it each year.  This year my mother-in-law is recovering from a broken ankle, so they aren't able to get it done on their own.

 Saturday I took the boys over and we got started.  We had planned to do this together as a family, but my husband got called in to work, and our daughter was working too.  So it was mostly me and the ten year old.  He was a great help.  He worked like a dog and never complained.

 We started by stacking the wood out of the way.  There are about 3 cords of wood here, and unfortunately the people who delivered it unloaded it right in the doorway of the woodshed.  So we had to move pretty much the entire stack before we could even get started with the splitting.  See how high that pile is?

 We started by straightening what was already in the shed.  The five year old even got involved.  He did a great job and helped off and on throughout the day.  In a couple of years, we're really going to have a good crew :)

We stacked as much as we could out of the way until we had a path into the shed, then started by splitting this little pile first so the rest of the way would be clear.

 It's hard to get an accurate picture of how much we had stacked up.  The pile to the right is two rows deep and probably 10 feet long. Maybe a little more.  The pile to the left was three rows deep but the first two rows are only half as long as the other side. We didn't want to block the door to the other shed.

 Here it is from the outside.  The pile at the end that isn't stacked is what we split after we finished the pile inside.  There are also two smaller piles inside the shed.  We had to stack some in there so we could get through the doorway.

 It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and just a little breezy.  Very comfortable working conditions ... and not too bad for playing either :)

 Papa and Bugga pulled up chairs and visited with us while we worked.  A friend of theirs stopped by for a visit too.

 The little boys kept Bugga entertained :)

 The three year old was filling the hose with dirt ...

 ...shaking it down inside ...

 ... and then dumping it out again.

 After three hours or so, this is what we had accomplished - more than half of the pile to the left is done, as well as the pile inside, and the one we hadn't stacked outside.

 The woodshed is filling up.  It will probably take another load like this one to finish filling it.  I'm hoping to get the rest of this split this week.

 We were rewarded at the end of the day with a beautiful sunset, and Bugga took us out for a steak dinner.  The ten year old was thrilled with some cash she gave him. I was really pleased with how willingly he helped.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Science, the Fun Way

 So much can be learned through "playing."  I think we underestimate the value of play these days.  And one of the most valuable lessons the kids learn is to solve problems on their own - critical thinking, if you will.  There is such value in trying something that doesn't work.  I have really been making an effort to stop myself from saying "that's not going to work" and telling them what will.  What I need to do is give them time and back away so they can explore the issue on their own.  I'm trying to limit my input to asking questions such as these - "What do you expect will happen?  What's causing that to not working right? What needs to happen to change that?  How do you think you could fix that?"

 In the latest experiment, the ten year old wanted to see if he could create a parachute that would safely deliver his Lego pirate ship to the ground, without anything breaking.

 He cut the bottom out of a garbage bag and attached it with yarn.

 It did pretty well, but he wanted the parachute to stay open from the start without his hands holding it open.  He found it difficult to release it with his hands stuck inside.

 So his first attempt at fixing it looked like this - a lego structure I knew would do nothing for the parachute, and just break off when it landed.  This is where it was hard to shut my big mouth and let him try it... and fail.

 The next attempt was a structure more like tent poles inside the parachute.

It worked okay, but his hand accidentally hit the ship on the way down and had the effect of throwing it down.  It broke, and he had football game to get ready for, so he didn't get to try it again that day.  But the point is, it was fun, and he learned a lot about physics principles.  And next time he tries this, he'll have a much better chance of succeeding.

I also like to give the kids an idea and see what they do with it.  I'm thinking as I write this, maybe I'll ask him what would happen if he used a whole garbage bag and a hair blow dryer.  Hmmmm.  But that will have to wait.  Today we're off to Bugga's to watch the Wyoming football game, and then chop and stack firewood.

A Few Silly Things

We've seen a few silly things lately...

 At the hospital in Jackson Hole, some gardeners were replanting a courtyard...

 And the boys spotted this right away in the parking lot ...

This goofball kid of mine came up with this outfit all on his own.  He told us he was being a "fat fireman."

He gets that from Curious George - the original book, where George accidentally dials the fire station and the thin fireman grabs one arm and the fat fireman grabs the other arm and they take him to prison for falsely reporting a fire.  There are a lot of taboo things in that book.  For instance, he's ready for bed after a nice dinner and a nice pipe.  But it's a favorite of the five year old. 

 We're coming into some nice fall colors now.  The leaves in the town park are starting to change.

 We stopped at the park Wednesday night and ran into one of the kids who had been in preschool last year with the five year old.  It was nice for them to play together again.

See all the leaves on the ground?  When we first arrived, the five year old told me, "They need to rake!"  It must be a common idea among kids.  Later I heard another little boy at the park tell his dad, "I should have brought my rake."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Field Trip: The Miller House

 On Tuesday, we found ourselves in Jackson Hole, taking my mother-in-law up for a doctor's visit, so while she was busy with the doctor, I took the boys on a short field trip.  As you can see on the sign, the Miller House is located on the National Elk Refuge.

 It's a neat old house, and they have it open free of charge to visitors.  They have a couple of tour guides that are full of great information.  We really enjoyed our visit.

 It was a beautiful day too.

 The boys were excited to get to go in.

 My pictures from inside turned out a little blurry because I didn't use a flash.  There was already a tour in progress, which had just started, so we joined the group and I didn't want to be more of a disruption than a mother with three young boys already is :)  I have my kids well trained though.  The ten year old spotted this sewing machine and grabbed my arm to point it out to me.  He knows me well :)

 The lady on the right was our tour guide, and she was wonderful  There was a gentleman giving tours as well (not pictured) and he was also very pleasant and helpful.  Here she was explaining to us how the refuge feeds all the elk and bison, and the history of how it used to be done.  It's really quite interesting.

This is what they eat - alfalfa pellets.  This is just alfalfa mixed with clay.

 They gave each of the boys a piece to bring home.  They're going to feed them to the cows that live in the pasture next to us.

 There were some neat artifacts, and lots of pictures.

  This is a display of elk ivories - the treasure of every hunter ... well, apart from the antlers, anyway.  We're more about filling the freezer, but the extras are a nice bonus.

 There is a small gift shop inside the house too.  Really you don't get to tour the whole house - just a couple of rooms in the main floor.  The upstairs is off limits.  But really it's all about the information they share.

 I loved this old clock.

 I got to introduce the boys to an old childhood favorite of mine - the View Finder.  They had slides of the Tetons loaded in them and they were beautiful.  I almost bought them one because I think the five year old especially would spend hours with it.  I'll have to consider that for his birthday.  I bet I can find them online.

 I had to take a picture of the plow and the sign - the plows were made in Jackson, and made specifically to be able to turn over the rocky ground.  And, you could get yours for a mere $9.  Of course that was back when $9 was worth considerably more than it is today.

 I didn't get a very good picture of the plow.

 This is looking out from the back side of the house, looking over the refuge, toward the road most people see it from.  We were facing northwest. If you follow the hill on the right down the slope in the center of the picture, you would be able to see the National Museum of Wildlife Art - which is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Jackson.

 If you look to the south from the house, you're looking back toward the town of Jackson.  And if you really want to get to the Miller House, you need to go past the hospital and continue to the end of the street and take the dirt road.  It's only about a mile though.

 Like I mentioned, it was a beautiful day.  The clouds rolled in, but we never got rained on.

 When we came outside after the tour, the ten year old spotted this little garden right away and it was all I could do to convince him that they wouldn't allow us to pick the rhubarb - even if we asked nicely.  We have 8-10 quart sized bags of it in the freezer anyway.  Guess it's time to make more rhubarb dump cake :)

 The little cabin closer to us was actually what the people lived in while the bigger place was being build.  Yikes.  Talk about cabin fever!  I think this couldn't have been bigger than 10 x 12 or so.

He's somewhat opinionated, wouldn't you say?  I actually laughed when I was going back through the pictures because it was the first time I noticed this.  The tour guide had asked us if we were locals.  Now I see why.