Friday, November 19, 2010

Glass Fusing

A while ago I took the girls to an art show and the thing that really caught E's eye was the jewelry and trinkets made out of glass. The artist explained to us that they are made by taking small pieces of glass and heating them in a kiln until they melt together. I love how connections are made: as soon as I mentioned it on facebook, a friend let me know that a local homeschooling group was doing a glass fusing workshop for kids!

We went to that workshop on Monday and learned a ton. The artist first had the kids all sit down and she told them about the history of glass fusing and blowing. She showed them pieces that had been made by the first process used by ancient Egyptians to pieces that had been made using more modern technology. She talked about the natural ways glass is made, like by lightening, meteor strikes and volcanoes. She showed them the difference between opaque and transparent glass. She talked about the elements of glass and how all those elements have to come together just right, with enough heat, to create glass.

Then the kids broke up into groups to look at bags full of colored glass, sort them according to whether they were opaque or transparent and see which ones had been heated at higher temperatures (as could be determined by how rounded the edges were and how blended the colors were). Then next table was where they learned how to cut glass, which was surprisingly safe. They used a knife that was a small, circular blade that would not cut their hands, but put a scrape in the glass when they pushed hard enough and rolled it across the piece. Then they took a clamp and squeezed it right on the line they had made with the knife and the glass broke cleanly along the line. Finally, they got to pick out pieces of glass in all shapes and sizes to put together to make a pendant. E made one for herself and I made one for L since she wasn't there. The artist took them home, attached a loop for the string and heated them in her kiln. We just got them in the mail today and they turned out beautifully!

E is so excited to have a necklace that she made herself!

Native American Pow Wow, traditions and dance

Wow, it's been a busy week!

Saturday we went to a Native American Pow Wow that was open to the public. There were lots of booth set up with beautiful, hand crafted items. Every thing from pottery to jewelry to clothes to salmon jerky. The best part, however, was the dance! The whole building reverberated with the sounds of the drums and chanting, and men and women were all dressed up in beautiful, intricate traditional clothing. I complimented a young women on her "costume" and was informed that they are not costumes, they are called outfits or regalia. E loved the dancing of course! Some of the dances were performances that we watched and others were open for anyone to come to the dance floor to join them. During the couple's dance, I offered to go be E's partner, but she said "no, I'll find someone else to dance with!" and left me in the bleachers. She found a little boy her age and danced with him for three dances. I wish I had a camera!

When we first got there I spent about 10 minutes just watching the dancing and fighting back tears. I was shocked at how profoundly it affected me. The drums, the chanting and the singing were so primal and expressive that I could just feel the ancient connection through my whole body. I watched an old woman hobble onto the dance floor with her cane and someone holding her hand. She slowly walked around the circle as the younger dancers did everything from a more rhythmic, on-beat walk to perfectly timed, rhythmic yet flowing and graceful spinning and jumping. I could imagine that she had been joining these dances since she was the age of the two and three year olds she was dancing beside that day.

The whole thing left me wishing that I had some kind of culture and tradition to pass on to my kids. I mean, we are beginning to form some meaningful traditions as we celebrate the Biblical holidays and learn about the Hebrew roots of our faith, but it would be nice to have something cultural to pass on as well. I am a full blooded American with the typical Heinz 57 mishmash of nationalities, but nothing to call my own. And really, what culture do Americans have? Fourth of July? How boring.

So I guess I will act in typical American fashion and just steal from other cultures what I don't have. I'm looking for more cultural events to take the kids to, but especially dance since E enjoys that so much.

The experience also reinforced my desire to have a blessing way with this baby. A blessing way is a Navajo tradition to bless the mother and baby before labor, but similar traditions are part of pregnancy in cultures around the world. I'm not interested in everything that the Navajo tradition entails and would like to incorporate a variety of things from different cultures and my own beliefs. Of course it would be important to me that the blessings were prayers to YHVH. The spiritual aspect appeals to me so much more than the materialism of a baby shower ever could.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flowing Days

Every day is full of lots of questions and answers and learning, but some days the connections just really seem to flow and the conversations are so interesting. On these days I seem to have no shortage of ideas and they seem to have no shortage of curiosity. The last few days have been those kinds of days.

E and I talked about caves, caverns and catacombs and I looked up videos of them today.

The first thing L did when she woke up was to point to each finger on one hand and count 1,2,3,4,5 and then the other hand 1,2,3,4,5,6 (she's missing one apparently! lol) I haven't done any counting with her AT ALL just for the sake of counting, but we play lots of hide and seek and we count things in real life that need counting.

We bought some new pets- two little mice- and talked about what they eat and how to take care of them.

On the way to the pet store E was saying she could read some things, like her name, but not everything. I told her that once she knew the sounds of the letters and could put them together, she could read anything (which I know totally isn't true because of the way English spelling works, but kind of). As we pulled up to the store, she pointed out the words on the front of Office Max and Winco and Petsmart. I helped her sound out Petsmart. Then she wanted to know how to spell "shirt" and wanted it written down. I didn't have a pen or paper, but I promised to show her later which I did.

I forget what brought this up, but E told me that she wanted to go to Kansas. I asked her what was in Kansas that she wanted to see and she said lions and giraffes. I told her those would be in Africa, but she still really wanted to go Kansas. She was also quite sure we could walk there. I showed her on google maps where Kansas and Africa are in relation to where we are. Then she had lots of fun playing with the markers on the map and moving them around. I named a bunch of states and countries for her and we talked about where she was born and where a lot of our family lives.

Today she was asking how cars are made and wanted to know what a cement truck was doing when we saw it driving down the road. I answered her questions as best I could, but also offered to look up a video for her. I found an episode of How It's Made that shows how cars are made, so we will probably watch that tomorrow.

There are SO MANY questions and answers and little snippets of conversations throughout the day that I wish I could remember! I know we talked about penguins, the arctic, dogs, unicorns, and so many other things I can't even keep track.

In the last few days we have also gone swimming, to a babywearing meeting, for a walk, and ran all the typical errands like the grocery store and post office. All these things can be so mundane OR they can be exciting opportunities for discovery. We like to make them the later! D also made a ginger bread house with the girls last night and I made play dough for them tonight.

Caves, Caverns and Catacombs

Yesterday E told me that she wanted to live underground with the bugs! The first thing that popped in my mind was the catacombs and I told her about them. Not the violent, scary parts, but the fact that they are underground and people lived in them and there are probably lots of bugs down there. Then the conversation turned to caves. We were in the car, so I made a mental note to look them up when we got home.

Today I found this Planet Earth video all about caves and the bugs and bats that live in them. We watched about half of it so far- fascinating and beautiful!