Cameras, gardening and automata fun

Just a few days ago, Xman made me a camera because he knew I am without at the moment. It sits on my art desk with pride. Love it. :)

Xs CameraXman has been super excited to do some ‘tinkering’ since I got some tinkering books from the library. You may want to check this and this out (literally) if tinkering is a fun project in your home.

We’ve been wanting to make an automaton for a long, long time, like since at least last summer. There was this project in the one book that Xman wanted to do and when he suggested using Lego L was all for it!

Automaton pic

On another creative note, the garden is doing well now that I figured out what little will successfully grow in a yard that gets mostly shade. The peas and beans have been very good to us this season. The boys were in the midst of cleaning out their playroom and brought out a big bin to clean veggies for me. So helpful! (and so fun!)

Bean Cleaning Pean Cleaning

A great day so far! Now off to visit some friends before Momma goes to work (eck). ;)

 

 

Cleveland Beach

We had a great time yesterday at Cleveland Beach with Dawn and the kids. We had been interested in visiting since reading her post on Mud Puddles.

We haven’t gone hermit crab searching in years and it was super fun. Plus, F found eighteen starfish!

beach F snorkeling Xman

One of the starfish got flipped over which allowed me to take a short video of its underside.

Starfish flip!

crab Green crabThe boys are adding sand for the green crab to borrow under.

kiddsIt’s cool to watch the starfish move! The tinkling sounds are the hermit crabs moving round – Dawn said that no matter what way you turn the container they will always go to the side facing the water. Creatures are amazing! The end of this video shows the green crab burrowing into the sand.

Love snails and barnacles.

snail

We found what looked like a little tiny tower of sand with a hole in it under the water. Upon removing part of the tower we noticed that the structure didn’t fall apart in our hands but was relatively strong. The hole was the perfect size for a water worm, which Dawn found with a bit of digging. They look quite ancient to me, perhaps a species as old as the dinos!

Worm home wormWe had a great time at Cleveland Beach and will certainly be back again!

purple starfish

 

Rock Tumbling part 1

This is the tumbler kit we bought from Scotia Lapidary Supply at the Rocks and Gems show. The Lego Mixels are not included. ;)

tumbler box

rock tumbler kit kit steps

First step for us was to take each bag of rocks that came with this kit and give them a quick inspection while dry, for curiosity’s sake. Each of the boys will have their own bag of rocks and having a double tumbler means they can keep their rocks separate.

rocks before wetThen the boys sprayed their rocks to see how they would look when polished. Oooooh. Aaaaaaw. Very exciting!

Rocks wetClose up of Xman’s rocks. I see some tiger’s eye, rose quartz and either sodalite or lapis – he told me but I forget which this blue one is.

Xs sprayed rocks

L’s dry rocks.Xs dry rocksL wetting rocksJasper, sodalite, tiger’s eye and more!

Wet RocksRocks go into the rubber tumbler.

X filling tumblerrocks in tumblerThe next step is to add some grit. This first tumbling step will round out the sharp edges.

X adding gritrocks and gritNext the boys added water to almost cover the topmost rocks.

L adding waterxman pouringwater addedThere are a couple of steps for adding the lids to ensure a tight seal.

lid partsDon’t over tighten or the lid may warp!

placing lidtumbler with lidAnd a’tumbling they will go! This first step can take about a week for rocks that are 5.5or higher such as these. We will open the containers tomorrow to let some gases escape as per directions. Then we let them tumble for about a week before moving to step two! Can’t wait!

Tumbler spinning

 

In my search about rocks I came across a super fun kids rocks site! Haven’t shown this to Xman yet but I think we will add it to our studies for the year. It has information about rocks and minerals with projects to go along – plus you can collect rock patches – like that’s not super cool!

Thanks again to Scotian Lapidary Supply for their tips on Facebook as we begin our first rock tumble!

Rocks and Gems Show!

Last year we went to the annual Rocks and Gems show in Parrsboro, NS. We had such a great time that we decided to go again this year and it proved just as fun and…we got a rock tumbler!! We will leave those details for the next post because there are a lot of pics and explanations as I show the steps so far.

If I’d have been paying more attention to the outdoors and not my Book of Stones (amazing by the way), I would have noticed the eagle perched on the phone poll so close to the road. Stephen noticed it and we turned to get a picture but it flew up to the tree. Bummer as far as photos go but awesome as far as getting so close to a wild eagle goes (meaning not in captivity).

eagleAs soon as we got to the show L exclaimed, “They have rock tumblers!” This was very exciting for us because we were hoping to check out tumblers last year but sadly, there were none to be found. We were shown the tumblers by the owners of Scotian Lapidary Supply and given a wonderful run-down of the process, with rock samples on-hand. This couple was so friendly and helpful and the boys were thrilled to get some cut rocks – oh, and a tumbler to take home. ;)

rock cuttingThere was so much to see and experience at the show and each of the boys came home with a diamond to add to their collection (very cool!), pop-corn rocks that grow crystals, a bunch of native rocks to tumble, Xman with a super clear quartz cube, L with a cool dragon kite which hangs in his room, and myself with the coolest clear quartz crystal ball – I can see other worlds in it. :)

After the show we visited some cool creatures at the Fundy Geological Museum.

lizardredfooted tortoise pythonThere happened to be a geocache nearby and off we went in search. L spotted a cool web as we looked for the cache. Unfortunately, the spider scampered off before we got a good look at him. Once we found the cache (not saying where!) we got a quick bite and made our way home.

webOur usual pit-stop for any trip going to north-west Nova Scotia is Mastadon Ridge. We stopped to check out the multi-cache. The boys and Stephen have been caching for a couple of years now and I finally signed up as well so it’s all new to me. If it is to you too, here’s the link to the geocache site. It’s pretty cool stuff and great motivation to get outside.

MastadonMastadon Ridge is half-way between the Equator and the North Pole.

Mastodon ridge workdThe next morning the boys were excited to get working on their pop-rocks so I took a couple of pics. The rocks are limestone. You put them in a container and cover them with vinegar. The acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium and as the vinegar evaporates (about a one to two week process) crystal deposits form. Pretty cool, huh?

Ls popcorn rock

Ls popcorn rock

 

After the pop-corn rock prep we went to our first DCAF event where we saw some familiar faces from Strange Adventures and some wicked cool local artists!

Next post will be about our rock tumbler which we started up today. There are lots of steps and pics so I figured this is enough pics for one post. I’ll do the next one tomorrow.

Happy sleeps all!

 

Praying Mantis Eggs!

My dear friend, Dawn, called us up one day asking if we’d like a mantis egg sack. They had them at their local garden centre. Sounded like fun. As it turned out, the egg sacks we pretty pricy so we decided to split on one. As Dawn and her kids had already experienced the mantis eggs hatching, they opted for us to care for the egg sack and then take some of the wee little hunters home with them once they hatched.

The night before last, as I was getting ready to turn in, I thought I’d check on the egg sack. I almost dropped the jar they were in! I wasn’t prepared to see so many tiny mantids crawling around!  They lasted the night in their little new world until we were able to release them. Dawn came over with the kids and we let some of the mantids free in our yard and left some in the jar for them to take home.

Mantid-hatch Mantid-jar

Before we released the praying mantis babies L went to check on the ant larvae. Wow! Those ants sure were busy! Sorry this video is vertical – I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I went back later to check on the larvae and they were all moved underground. Guess overturning a rock will make ants move their babies in no time!

We totally geeked out on taking photos with this new macro lens that Dawn had found online. It’s super awesome for a smart phone. Stephen laughed saying we were taking photos for about 45 minutes and the kids had already lost interest and gone on to do other things together. What can I say, we like taking pics!

Mantid-3Mantid-1Mantid-face

I wasn’t sure if these little hunters would find any food but I was amazed at their prowess! An aphid and an ant!

Mantid-aphid Mantid-ant

I managed to get a video of each: (sorry for the vertical one again!)

Along the way I happened upon one of many ladybug larvae that we have happily found in our yard.

Ladybug-larvae

I caught this ladybug larvae eating an aphid about a week ago. Man, aphids have it tough!

Why do I always take videos vertically? Haha!

If you want to learn more about the praying mantis visit Dawn and Annie’s awesome blog Mud Puddles to Meteors! You’ll find a ton of cool info about nature and a ton of pics (surprised?)! ;)

 

 

 

Summer Solstice

We had a wonderful time celebrating the solstice at a dear friend’s place with some great families. The boys had a super awesome time and the adults got some good chat and chill time too.

The landscape was so different from our back yard city-space so there was much to explore. S’mores and other foods were eaten over a very cool fire pit (darn, didn’t take that picture!).

The kids were deeply invested in a Nerf gun game when it was time to go so thankfully everyone left at the same time. I always say a mass exodus is the best plan when you must bring the fun to an end.

I am very thankful to have such amazing friends with which to share and celebrate the longest day of the year.

Feeling blessed.

Hope you had a wonderful solstice as well!

2014 summer solstice 06 2014 summer solstice 03 2014 summer solstice 012014 summer solstice 05 2014 summer solstice 042014 summer solstice 07

Snap Circuits fun

snap circuits

Last night I had a crazy urge to start purging things like books, toys, whatever really. I love a good purge.

In doing so, I had to rearrange some of the boys’ shelves. Whenever this happens they are bound to find something that they haven’t used in a while that is really cool. That’s the down side of shelves, they are wonderful for storage but are great enablers for forgetting about things as well.

Tonight I asked the boys to organize the kits and they ended up making another neat contraption. Xman asked me to take a video so I decided to post it for him. I used my point and shoot camera so the end of the video is out of focus. (Really gotta buy myself another DSLR body so I can control video – my lenses are very lonely…)

Gosh darn it though, gotta say, I love Snap Circuits!