Posts Tagged With: Christopher

Meeting the International Champion Monroe County, W.V. Lego Robotics Team.

While taking my youngest son to see his 4-H project at the West Virginia State Fair this August, we met a group of inspiring young people from Monroe County. The Boa Constrictor Robotics Team from Union, West Virginia is not only a local and national champion, but a 5th place winner on the world stage for Lego Robotics building.

Yes, you read that properly, 2 dozen kids from one of the poorest counties in the nation placed 5th in the world. The team beat challengers from Korea, China,and Chile, to name only a few of the over 60 nations represented. Monroe County claimed awards and trophies for beating hundreds of well sponsored teams from all over the United States and the World.

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Members of the Monroe County 4-H Lego Robotics team at the West Virginia State Fare 2017

The Monroe County 4-H members put on a demonstration in the 4-H/FFA center building at this years State Fair. The same room where all qualified projects are displayed and judged for the best projects at the state level. This team was able to show hundreds of visitors what 4-H can do for kids and what one small community was able to do with some dedicated volunteers.

Christopher was instantly engaged in the robots and the team allowed guests to play with the winning robot named Rook. The team made and displayed several smaller introductory robots also. I could not drag my son away, the visit to see his own project was forgotten and it  became a quest to learn more about how to make and drive these machines.

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Christopher getting instruction from Boa Constrictor Lego Robotics Team member

 

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Christopher in front of his first year 4-H pillow project that made it to the State Fair Level. 

The Lego Robotic program is a wonderful way to show off what is often overlooked in our young people in West Virginia. 4-H members have to do the math and work with their hands, solving problems in real world situations. They develop teams were they learn to build what they need rather than counting on something prefabricated. All things our rural kids already understand. Our kids will need more than one sponsor, unlike other teams who can depend on money from wealthy colleges or business.  They will have to develop public speaking skills as they talk to business people, university presidents, churches, banks and farmers to find the over $15,000 dollars it took Monroe County to make their dream come true.

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Christopher plays with the first robot the Monroe County team built-in 2016

So with my  family and others, an older son who loves to work with his hands, and help from our County extension office, we are now taking  on the challenge of getting more young people involved in STEM projects ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and  Robots. Our families hope is to increasing the number of children who are exposed to the future of technology and keep that interest growing . Lewis county 4-H is stepping up and following Monroe counties lead and starting their own Robotics team and my family is all for it. Soon we will have our own team,starting our own Lego robotic build and teaching kids about robotics. From the bottom of my heart, I am so proud to see our youth reaching their dreams. I thank them for inspiring a whole state of 4-H members and hope to hear great things about the Monroe county kids as they take on the State, Nation and the World competitions again this years. Best of luck kids….. West Virginia is behind you all the way!

To learn more about 4-H and Lego robotics and STEM projects contact your West Virginia University extension office in your county.

 

Categories: 4-H, awards, Christopher, Cody, education, Legos, Monroe County, Robotics, STEM | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Salt Dough Holiday Ornaments with Kids of All Ages

My older son Cody has always made my life more fun with his unexpected ideas. So you never know what the boy has planned when you see him. Some times its,”Mom you got to see this” or “Mom how do you make this” or “you need to try this”… it is always so much fun when he is around. So the weekend before Halloween ( at little late I know). He arrives at our house for the usual Sunday Dinner with bags of stuff in his hands and the granddaughter  so excited trailing behind him. My daughter in law Jamie explains the Cody wants to make Play-Dough at my house that Sunday afternoon ( he never warms me we are going to make a mess). After looking over the ingredients I quickly realized that what he had brought was not Play-Dough ingredients buSalt Dough ingredients.

Salt dough decorations

Salt dough decorations

Salt dough is a wonderful inexpensive way for kids of all ages ( 4-48 this day) to mold and bake decorations, figures, or models. This dough can be colored and baked to make the craft hard and dry so it will last for years. The hard dough decorations can be painted and sealed with any clear coat. The dough is non-toxic and eating it will not hurt the youngest of artist… but be warned it is very salty.

So with all of us in the kitchen together  we mixed up a large batch of dough. Cody then took the dough and broke it into smaller pieces and added food coloring. All I had on hand was Easter neon colors so we had very bright colors to work with. We gave Christopher and Paige each 4 small bowels of colored dough and turned them loose with my cookie cutters, rolling-pin, tooth picks and watched the fun. With in minuets we were all making things too…

Jamie Powers and Paige Powers making Salt Dough decorations

Jamie Powers and Paige Powers making Salt Dough decorations

Salt Dough family time

Salt Dough family time

I even joined in the fun and made some decorations too. The decorations had both a Christmas feel and a Halloween feel so we covered both holidays with some of our creations. When all the dough was gone I put two full cookie sheets in the oven to bake. I did notice that we made very thin decorations and they do not take as long as the directions say to dry. Worried that at some point they would burn, I reduced the length of cooking time 15 minutes.

Sponge Bob and Patrick salt dough decorations

Sponge Bob and Patrick salt dough decorations

 

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Salt dough ninja

Salt dough ninja

 

So have fun this holiday season, break out the cookie cutters that have not been used for a year and make some lasting decorations with the kids. The kids and grand kid played for about 3 hours making things and baking them before dinner. Now both little ones have home-made decorations for this years trees.

 

Salt Dough: hardening dough

4 cups flour

1 cup fine crystal salt not sea salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups water

mix until can be worked with fingers like heavy bread dough

bake finished work in oven at 300 degrees for up to an hour.

( I bake ours for about 45 minutes because they were so thin)

let cool and paint, glue and decorate and enjoy!

 

Salt dough skull

Salt dough skull

 

Categories: Art, Christmas, crafts, family fun, Halloween, Holidays, Home Decor | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Summer Container Gardens and Sewer Lines

     This spring Christopher and I decided that we would limit our garden planting this year to several small containers and a small garden spots. The problem is, at some point we are getting city sewer lines installed in our back yard and tied into our house. Tom and I are actually over joyed to have the sewer as we have lived about twenty years with three different septic systems, none of them modern ( aeration systems)  at three different locations. Some of them worked properly and some didn’t. The one we have now is around 80 years old… don’t ask… I am not sure how it works…. it just does.

new sewer pipe long our back yard

new sewer pipe along our back yard

      From those small garden spots I was able to really enjoy summer and just picked our last soft ball size tomato for dinner last night. We planned on planting items that would grow well in containers and learned a lot along the way.

I started my plans with a recycled container and about 150 lbs of soil and peat moss

I started my plans with a recycled container and about 150 lbs of soil and peat moss

small container and bird bath garden...tomatos, rubbarb, peppers, carrots and beets

small containers and bird bath garden with tomatoes, rhubarb, peppers, carrots and beets

    Things started of wonderful, the recycled container above  worked wonderfully and the location set up against our house with about 9 hours of sun was just perfect for the climbing beans, sunflowers and squash we planted in the tub.This will get used again next year and maybe full of green beans again. We had green beans for dinner at least three times and froze a few, all off of 6 bean seeds. The Kentucky Runners were well worth growing. The beans did eventually take over the porch hand rail that was at least ten feet high… they liked this location!

beans sunflowers and squash next to our rain barrel

beans sunflowers and squash next to our rain barrel

      The sun flowers bloomed but would have done better with more sun so they will get moved back into the tomato garden next year and as you can see the acorn squash was fine here but I only got two squashes. I may need to put summer squash here and the winter squash in a garden next year.

Tomato plants taking over my bird bath. rubbarb growing in back

Tomato plants taking over my bird bath. rhubarb growing in back

  As you can see the three tomato plants that I planted around my bird bath did very well and the rhubarb is trying to hold its own around the back of the plants. I planted some tomatoes here last year and added some wood shaving with rabbit droppings to the soil and as mulch this year. They seemed to love it. My only problems were the deer who came twice and eat the blooms off the tomatoes. I am positive that I caused  the problem by my love of feeding the birds. I learned a hard lesson…. if you do not want deer to eat your plants don’t put your bird feeder in the garden full of corn and seeds. The frist morning I found my destroyed plants I was upset but not sure why they had come so close to the road. The second time, I could have kicked myself in the rear-end for ever thinking that my bird feeders looked so nice in this small garden and removed them ASAP.

   As for the two containers that I planted  beets and carrots in, well the deer eat all of the beet tops twice. The carrots on the other hand did so-so. I had watched a video on container carrots on You Tube and though it worth a try. I think the gentlemen used a 70/30 mix of peat moss to soil and I think here in West Virginia where we get lots of rain the mix  is correct at 50/50 because the carrots just didn’t grow as deep and strong as I had hoped.  Will try again next year!

I also planted basil and cucumbers neither of them did well in the location on the far side of the porch. I will try to move those containers next year. I hope to find something to put in that location but the plant must grow with less than 8 hours of sun. 

Christophers frist harvest of the garden this year

Christopher’s frist harvest of the garden this year

    Christopher and I are rather happy with our experiment we learned a lot and we got to eat lots of fun food that he got to plant and harvest. Today will begin the process of cleaning up our tomato stakes and bean poles. I brought the only two carnival colored acron squashes into the house to cook over the weekend. I may get a few more cherry tomatoes before the frost comes. The only surprise is not really even a vegetable but a flower that I planted on a whim. Tom had made me a small raised bed for more vegetables but the season had gotten late and I had no idea what to plant in the box so I took some free seeds that came in the mail out to the new bed. This is what we got in a couple of months time.

Cosmos in bloom.. about 5 feet high and still blooming

Cosmos in bloom.. about 5 feet high and still blooming

singel cosmos bloom

single cosmos bloom

 Christopher loves them and I am sure to find more of these seeds next year. Even my older son commented on them and wants to try to plant them for my grand-daughter.

 So another summer is about gone and all I have left are hopes of having the sewer in over the next couple of months and a chance to have a bigger garden next year. After we are able to finally know that when we flush everything is headed to the correct location for treatment and no surprises are left behind.

Carnvil squash  on the vine

Carnival squash on the vine

Categories: container garden, gardening, organic food | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Crackers in Bed

I don’t write a lot about my, day to day ,activities with my kids, but I will share this.

another sick week.. he is finally sleeping

another sick week.. he is finally sleeping

1:12 AM, Christopher……….MAMA? MAMA?

1:12 AM  Me……………..Yes, Christopher? Come here. I am on the couch sleeping.( Tom has the flu and I am having trouble sleeping and up watching T.V).

He climbs up on the couch and gets under the blanket for a few minutes.

1:30 Am Me…………………are you ready to go back to bed?

1:30 AM  We head off to his room and he crawls back under the covers and snuggle down.

1:35  AM Christopher………………….MaMa, I need someone to snuggle with.

1:35 AM……….. I climb into his bed snuggle down and warm the cool sheets with my body.

1:45 AM Christopher ………..MaMa, I am hungry… I need soup crackers.

1:45AM Me…. …..Do we need to have soup crackers? or can we have toast (thinking that there are less crumbs from toast).

1:50 AM Christopher……………No, I need soup crackers.

2 am snack for Christopher

2 am snack for Christopher

I head to the kitchen, it is 2:00 AM, and return with 3 soup crackers and a small cup of milk.Knowing that at 4 years old he is not able to keep the crackers from breaking apart and turning into a mountain of crumbs in the bed.

I pull the covers up to try to keep some of the chunks of cracker from being deposited in his bed and snuggle up to him. I hear the crunch of every bite, the smacking of lips and the swallow of milk in his sippy cup. Then the genital breathing of a tired, sick boy who has spent most of the night up coughing.

I know the bed is full of crumbs and know that I will surely fall asleep in this bed tonight.  Tom is sick also and needs to rest as much as possible. I realise that  the crumbs don’t matter anymore, that a wonderful night snuggled up to the child I love has over ridden my desire to disturb him.

Last night I discovered why there is the old saying ” I wouldn’t throw them out of bed for eating cookes”…or in a more farm friendly version ” I wouldn’t throw her out of bed for eating oats”. I wouldn’t have through my son out of bed for eating those crunchy crackers for a million dollars. I slept peacefully and so did he.

Again at about 7:30 this morning I hear “MaMa” but this time close to my ear… ” I need soup crackers” from a boy who has not  fully opened his eyes. I lie in the bed and am so thankful I am  sleeping with a few crumbs.

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Categories: Christopher, poem, writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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