September, 2015 browsing by month


Kids Maker Day 2015

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

(cross-posted from Mobile Musings)

This year’s Kids Maker Day (part of our local Heritage Days) is now behind us and was a big success as always. Our theme was flight.

We had kids from ages 2 to 80 participate. (A couple adults said that building planes seemed like more fun that listening to lectures in the adult portion of the program. :)


One of the town elders shows us how it’s done

We started the day with building paper airplanes. Most kids started with designs they were already familiar with and then drifted into the books and printouts that we’d laid around the tables for more exotic designs. After making their planes, we went outside for flight tests, which led to testing, redesign, iteration, and more testing. We had contests for the longest distance flight, the longest time in the air, the smallest plane, and the most visually attractive.


Making paper airplanes



Winner for the smallest (and yes, it could fly)

most attractive

There was a tie for most attractive.

After that, we went on to make balsa wood gliders. This was a favorite activity of many of when we were young, and the kids really loved it.

After that, we shifted gears to build marble mazes. The kids really liked last year’s cardboard challenge, and this was a variation on that. I had deliberated beforehand whether to make this a contest of sorts, but ultimately left it more open-ended.

The kids wanted to form their own groups to do this and surprised us by dividing into just two groups — boys and girls. It was interesting to watch how the two groups worked with the boys ultimately splintering into several groups (and a few working by themselves) and the girls really bonding as a team and coming up with something quite complicated. Several of the kids were so absorbed in the work that they went right through lunch.


After lunch came the favorite activity of the day — stomp rockets. These were built with 2-liter pop bottles, a length of bicycle tubing, a piece of PVC tubing, and a paper rocket. One of the highlights was when a couple girls launched their rocket, not once but twice, onto the roof of the building. It was also a revelation that stomping harder wasn’t necessarily better after a couple adults stomped so hard that they broke the bottles.



This ingenious young man attached his paper airplane to his rocket.


The day ended with a kid-suggested cooking activity. We made chocolate and caramel sauces and dipped fruit in them. (With the addition of this and a surprise visit from Smokey the Bear, we dropped the planned activities of hovercrafts, which were underwhelming in our pre-event testing, and kites, which we’ll save for another day.)

I’m already thinking about what we’ll do next year. Textiles? Cooking? Painting? There are so many choices.

This year’s garden

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Every year, the garden is a little different. This year seemed more different than most. We had a lot of rain (the monsoons are still going, though they seem close to the end), and it didn’t get as hot as usual. I don’t know if this accounted for the change or not, but things grew more slowly than usual.

We had more problems with pests than usual, including a newly developed talent of the rabbits to chew through our expensive insect netting. Brad got good at sewing it up. We had some other invaders, which are making us think about new ideas for next year.

This year’s top-producing crop was cucumbers. We must have harvested close to 150 of them, have given them to everyone we know, and have found some great new ways to use them, including  several varieties of cucumber cocktails.

We have also enjoyed lettuce, watermelons, cantaloupe, strawberries, and onions. The tomatoes have been slow but are now really coming in. We’ve made several batches of salsa and tomato sauce and will make several more before the season ends.


Some things are just now ready. This is my first ever success with eggplant (picked today) and chiles. Both were ravaged by bugs early in the season, but then came back and produced.

All in all, it’s been a good year. We’ve had lots of fresh food to eat and share and will have lots put away for the winter.