Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bugs sensory bin

Just a quick, simply sensory bin today :)

The set up:

Aubs got a little crazy with the aquarium gravel, so I had to really sit and play with her to keep her from getting TOO crazy-- so I only got an initial shot of her approaching the bin

She loved the sticks and leaves-- they were her favorite part! I just picked some fresh leaves from outside, so they were super fragrant :) Added a cool twist to the "sensory" experience lol. Anyways, quick and simple, but fun!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Puppets and a summer mantle

So since my husband is in the Navy, we don't live near our family. We still want our daughter to recognize family when we visit, though, so I came up with this idea to make "puppets" to play with. I printed out a high resolution picture of each person, laminated it, cut it out, then put it on a labeled popsicle stick.

To show the size of them

We made puppets of two grandmothers, two grandfathers, my husband, Aubs, and myself. The others we either didn't have high resolution pictures of, or we didn't have time to make this time around. We'll get those done next time :)

Also, I got the initial part of our summer mantle set up-- there are a few touches that I need to finish, but at least I got the basics put together!

It's bright and cheery and I got some brightly colored touches in there, so I'm happy. I need to stick a tea light in the lantern on the right, I need to hang a little garland (maybe nautical flags?) around the mantle itself, and I'm going to make a couple of little candles in some shells for a cute touch-- after that, we should be done this time around!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Study shows that it may not have been an impact that killed the mammoths, but instead the ensuing climate change

I came across the article and it was SO interesting that I had to repost it! Check this out-- it's a little long, but totally worth the read:
The mammoth's lament: Study shows how cosmic impact sparked devastating climate change
by Tom Robinette

(Phys.org) —Herds of wooly mammoths once shook the earth beneath their feet, sending humans scurrying across the landscape of prehistoric Ohio. But then something much larger shook the Earth itself, and at that point these mega mammals' days were numbered.
Something – global-scale combustion caused by a comet scraping our planet's atmosphere or a meteorite slamming into its surface – scorched the air, melted bedrock and altered the course of Earth's history. Exactly what it was is unclear, but this event jump-started what Kenneth Tankersley, an assistant professor of anthropology and geology at the University of Cincinnati, calls the last gasp of the last ice age.
"Imagine living in a time when you look outside and there are elephants walking around in Cincinnati," Tankersley says. "But by the time you're at the end of your years, there are no more elephants. It happens within your lifetime."
Tankersley explains what he and a team of international researchers found may have caused this catastrophic event in Earth's history in their research, "Evidence for Deposition of 10 Million Tonnes of Impact Spherules Across Four Continents 12,800 Years Ago," which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The prestigious journal was established in 1914 and publishes innovative research reports from a broad range of scientific disciplines. Tankersley's research also was included in the History Channel series "The Universe: When Space Changed History" and will be featured in an upcoming film for The Weather Channel.
This research might indicate that it wasn't the cosmic collision that extinguished the mammoths and other species, Tankersley says, but the drastic change to their environment.
"The climate changed rapidly and profoundly. And coinciding with this very rapid global climate change was mass extinctions."

Putting a finger on the end of the ice age

Tankersley is an archaeological geologist. He uses geological techniques, in the field and laboratory, to solve archaeological questions. He's found a treasure trove of answers to some of those questions in Sheriden Cave in Wyandot County, Ohio. It's in that spot, 100 feet below the surface, where Tankersley has been studying geological layers that date to the Younger Dryas time period, about 13,000 years ago.
About 12,000 years before the Younger Dryas, the Earth was at the Last Glacial Maximum – the peak of the Ice Age. Millennia passed, and the climate began to warm. Then something happened that caused temperatures to suddenly reverse course, bringing about a century's worth of near-glacial climate that marked the start of the geologically brief Younger Dryas.
There are only about 20 archaeological sites in the world that date to this time period and only 12 in the United States – including Sheriden Cave. "There aren't many places on the planet where you can actually put your finger on the end of the last ice age, and Sheriden Cave is one of those rare places where you can do that," Tankersley says.

The Younger Dryas Boundary strewnfield is shown (red) with YDB sites as red dots and those by eight independent groups as blue dots. Also shown is the largest known impact strewnfield, the Australasian (purple). Credit: Ken Tankersley, University of Cincinnati

Rock-solid evidence of cosmic calamity

In studying this layer, Tankersley found ample evidence to support the theory that something came close enough to Earth to melt rock and produce other interesting geological phenomena. Foremost among the findings were carbon spherules. These tiny bits of carbon are formed when substances are burned at very high temperatures. The spherules exhibit characteristics that indicate their origin, whether that's from burning coal, lightning strikes, forest fires or something more extreme. Tankersley says the ones in his study could only have been formed from the combustion of rock.
The spherules also were found at 17 other sites across four continents – an estimated 10 million metric tons' worth – further supporting the idea that whatever changed Earth did so on a massive scale. It's unlikely that a wildfire or thunderstorm would leave a geological calling card that immense – covering about 50 million square kilometers.
"We know something came close enough to Earth and it was hot enough that it melted rock – that's what these carbon spherules are. In order to create this type of evidence that we see around the world, it was big," Tankersley says, contrasting the effects of an event so massive with the 1883 volcanic explosion on Krakatoa in Indonesia. "When Krakatoa blew its stack, Cincinnati had no summer. Imagine winter all year-round. That's just one little volcano blowing its top."

Other important findings include:

Micrometeorites: smaller pieces of meteorites or particles of cosmic dust that have made contact with the Earth's surface. Nanodiamonds: microscopic diamonds formed when a carbon source is subjected to an extreme impact, often found in meteorite craters. Lonsdaleite: a rare type of diamond, also called a hexagonal diamond, only found in non-terrestrial areas such as meteorite craters.

This is an environmental scanning electron microscope image of a carbon spherule from Sheriden Cave. Credit: Ken Tankersley, University of Cincinnati

Three choices at the crossroads of oblivion

Tankersley says while the cosmic strike had an immediate and deadly effect, the long-term side effects were far more devastating – similar to Krakatoa's aftermath but many times worse – making it unique in modern human history.
In the cataclysm's wake, toxic gas poisoned the air and clouded the sky, causing temperatures to plummet. The roiling climate challenged the existence of plant and animal populations, and it produced what Tankersley has classified as "winners" and "losers" of the Younger Dryas. He says inhabitants of this time period had three choices: relocate to another environment where they could make a similar living; downsize or adjust their way of living to fit the current surroundings; or swiftly go extinct. "Winners" chose one of the first two options while "losers," such as the wooly mammoth, took the last.
"Whatever this was, it did not cause the extinctions," Tankersley says. "Rather, this likely caused climate change. And climate change forced this scenario: You can move, downsize or you can go extinct."
Humans at the time were just as resourceful and intelligent as we are today. If you transported a teenager from 13,000 years ago into the 21st century and gave her jeans, a T-shirt and a Facebook account, she'd blend right in on any college campus. Back in the Younger Dryas, with mammoth off the dinner table, humans were forced to adapt – which they did to great success.

An image of the X-ray diffraction pattern of lonsdaleite, or hexagonal diamond, from Sheriden Cave.

Weather report: cloudy with a chance of extinction

That lesson in survivability is one that Tankersley applies to humankind today.
"Whether we want to admit it or not, we're living right now in a period of very rapid and profound global climate change. We're also living in a time of mass extinction," Tankersley says. "So I would argue that a lot of the lessons for surviving climate change are actually in the past."
He says it's important to consider a sustainable livelihood. Humans of the Younger Dryas were hunter-gatherers. When catastrophe struck, these humans found news ways and new places to hunt game and gather wild plants. Evidence found in Sheriden Cave shows that most of the plants and animals living there also endured. Of the 70 species known to have lived there before the Younger Dryas, 68 were found there afterward. The two that didn't make it were the giant beaver and the flat-headed peccary, a sharp-toothed pig the size of a black bear.
Tankersley also cautions that the possibility of another massive cosmic event should not be ignored. Like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, these types of natural disasters do happen, and as history has shown, it can be to devastating effect.
"One additional catastrophic change that we often fail to think about – and it's beyond our control – is something from outer space," Tankersley says. "It's a reminder of how fragile we are. Imagine an explosion that happened today that went across four continents. The human species would go on. But it would be different. It would be a game changer."

Breaking barriers and working together toward real change

Tankersley is a member of UC's Quaternary and Anthropocene Research Group (QARG), an interdisciplinary conglomeration of researchers dedicated to undergraduate, graduate and professional education, experience-based learning and research in Quaternary science and study of the Anthropocene. He's proud to be working with his students on projects that, when he was in their shoes, were considered science fiction.
Collaborative efforts such as QARG help break down long-held barriers between disciplines and further position UC as one of the nation's top public research universities.
"What's exciting about UC and why our university is producing so much, is we have scientists who are working together and it's this area of overlap that is so interesting," Tankersley says. "There's a real synergy about innovative, transformative, transdisciplinary science and education here. These are the things that really make people take notice. It causes real change in our world."


What an incredible story, right? It's truly amazing to me how much (and yet little!) we understand about geological processes and reactions now-- the fact that we can look at rock and see things like carbon spherules in the first place, let alone understand the necessary conditions which must exist for the spherules to form, I mean...it's just incredible, isn't it? I am so deeply impressed with the reach of human creativity and innovation. Imagination truly knows no limits. And of course, I thank God that He has created such a detailed, intricate world for us to dissect and learn-- I feel like He created enough mysteries that we'll never tire of investigating them :)

As an end note, I want to express my heartbreak for everyone in Oklahoma and all of those affected by the storms today. I am so sad for everyone and you are all in my prayers.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dismal Swamp trail, sleeping in, and batteries

Well, we decided to finally check out the northern entrance for the Dismal Swamp canal trail. It was alright, I mean it was beautiful scenery. But we weren't a fan of the paved trail-- we're more of "dirt trail" kind of people :) Aubree had a great time, though, and kept stopping to check out plants on the sides of the path.

There was also a bunch of gorgeous plant life and a TON of butterflies! I wasn't able to get a picture of the butterflies, but Aubree loved watching them-- I think it reminded her of the Butterfly Pavilion back in Colorado.

Here's a flower we came across:

And a plant with berries

Yesterday was a very, very, very long and trying day, so I was wiped! Luckily, I have an incredible husband who let me sleep in (until 11:30am! oh, sweet luxury! I haven't done that in...well...since I had Aubree), so here's a picture that he took during their morning together (don't mind the boxes in the background-- we just got a few things for the kitchen):

And then we did this a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to share about it-- when we've bought batteries, we always kept them in the opened packs in our junk drawer, so it was kind of tacky-looking and wasted a lot of space. Well, I figured that they'd work a lot better stored in a case of some sort, so we picked up a pencil case from Target and voila! Much nicer!

Another simple thing marked off of the check list and organized :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hanging Aubsie's artwork

So I came across a few pins the other day that showed kids' pictures hung up on a clothesline. I thought it was adorable, but wanted to add a splash of color to the plain jane clothesline. So I braided some rainbow yarn into a thicker sort of "clothesline" to hang and hung up the "A" artwork we've done this week (as I'm sure you can tell, she likes me to help her color :) ). I figure I'll change it out each week as we do a new week with new art. Takes 5 minutes, it's way fun, and it's a great way to liven up our dining area.

From far away

And close up to show the colors :)

Fun stuff! I'm so thrilled to have her drawings up :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hiking at Stumpy Lake

We went hiking the other day at Stumpy Lake park-- it's GORGEOUS out there, but Aubree got a little grumpy on the hike. We ended up having to let her tantrum it out for a few minutes, then she walked over to us when she was calmed down and ready to keep going. She's pretty good about calming herself down as long as we give her the chance to get her emotions out. Aaaaanyways, here are some pictures!

There were a TON of lichens on the trees-- it was SO cool!

We went right up to the edge of the water in the swamp. We were watching this critter splash around for a little while, thinking that it was a turtle, when its tail flew up in the air while it was swimming-- it was a water moccasin! Eek! We high-tailed it out of there, back to the trail!

A picture of Scott on the trail

A cool shot of a tree-- there were a bunch of vines on trees too. Everything was just SO green!

I made a hiking nomenclature card set on a ring, so that Aubree and I could identify things as they came. It has animals (divided into mammals, insects, and other), plants, and miscellaneous "parts of the trail" like bridge, rock, stream, etc. Aubree LOVED it-- she pointed to the card and babbled whenever I identified something.

And a great shot of Scott and Aubree together :) I am so incredibly blessed with these two.

It was an awesome trail, but we'll definitely make sure that it didn't rain earlier in the day next time that we go-- it was muddy and swampy like nobody's business! But yeah, beautiful wildlife :)

If anyone's interested, here are some pictures of the hiking nomenclature cards-- I made them in Microsoft Word, laminated them, cut them out, hole-punched them, and put them on a ring, so they're really easy to clip onto the backpack and bring with us. I can email the file to anyone who's interested, so shoot me a comment or a message on Facebook if you want a copy. They are all species and animals that are native to our area (southeastern Virginia), but most of them (deer, picnic table, trail, crow, etc.) are pretty universal.

I forgot to take pictures, but there are dividers between "Animals", "Plants", and "Miscellaneous". Helps us navigate them quickly. And also, we tried to use some of our own pictures for the cards :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Table and felt board

So we finally got Aubs her own table to work at and she is OBSESSED with the chairs. She is always moving them around, climbing into them, tipping them over, etc.

Pictures of the Baubster in action.

We also got her a felt board with a set of farm felt figures-- the sets are only ten bucks, so it's not too hard to acquire a few of them :) Baubs loves stickers, so this is a great alternative that WON'T stick to our furniture haha. I'm actually going to permanently convert a cork board to a flannel board, but for now, we just push the fridge magnets up and use the fridge. Works great and she was thrilled.

Another fun day :) Mother's Day tomorrow (not sure what we're doing! I guess it's a surprise?), then we'll start A week on Monday, so I'll post pictures of stuff as we do it. Should be awesome!

Rainbow vinegar, spaghetti bread, paddleboating, and card organization

So I've been pretty bad about posting, so this post is kind of a catch-all.

A while back, I came across this.

I knew that I had to wait until Aubree had the dexterity to handle a squirt bottle and the comprehension to follow guidance and participate, so I just set it up the other day-- she's now 18 months, so I feel that she's ready to progress to the next "step" of guided activities.

Sorry for the terrible quality of the pictures! I forgot to charge my camera beforehand, so I had to use my phone. I took her sensory bin and spread baking soda around in it. Then I took squirt bottles, filled them with some vinegar, and added a few drops of liquid water color to each bottle. Then I let Aubs squirt the bottles into the baking soda and watch the reactions!

Then a few friends of mine had been sharing this. I thought it looked deliiiiicious, so I went ahead and made it. SO easy and it turned out great!

We took a two person serving of spaghetti, cooked it, mixed it with tomato sauce (not TOO much-- just enough to coat and give a bit of color) and three sausages worth of cooked Italian sausage, and set that aside. Took a frozen loaf of bread, thawed it (takes 2ish hours-- hint: do this on a smooth surface, like glass or something; much easier to pry sticky dough off of), rolled it into a flat rectangle (about 12 x 18 in), then topped it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I spooned the spaghetti mixture into the center of the rectangle length-wise. I kept the spaghetti wall about 4 in thick, so that I'd have plenty of room to weave over it. Then I sliced the dough sides every 1 - 1.5 in and wove it piece-by-piece to make a sort of "braided" loaf. Then I brushed the top with egg white, dusted it with garlic powder and rosemary, and baked it at 350 for 30 min.

Here's the finished product:

And the deliiiicious inside :)

Then we went paddleboating as a family-- SUPER fun! We went over to Northwest River Park and went down the the very end of the creek-- it was a good couple of miles. Our legs were definitely feeling it by the end, but it was SUCH a blast. Aubree's first time on a boat, too!

All of us together

It was gorgeous!

We went under low-lying branches so that Aubree could play with the leaves :)

Then that night, I figured I'd organize our cards. I had pinned this. I'm not very sentimental, but my husband is and he keeps every card he (now we) receives. So we had been hoarding cards in this big pile in a cardboard box-- attractive, right? Plus Scott (that's my husband) loves to go through them and reread them, so it's a pain to sort through a big stack. This system was WAY more efficient!

And then an idea of how it works, closer up

It turned out wonderfully! I also did another category-- Deployment Cards. The cards that my husband got while he was on deployment. They're primarily from me, but there are a few from other folks in there too. We figured that this would be a GREAT way for him to bring them with him next deployment-- saves space (goodness knows that those lockers on the ships don't have much room in them), keeps it organized, etc. He was thrilled :)

That's all that I can think of for now-- most of our activities since then, I haven't been taking pictures of. I've been pretty bad about charging the camera lol. Oh! I did make some nomenclature cards and coloring pages:

This week was a failed start to "A" week haha! I only did two days of "A" activities. So I'll be doing "A" week again this coming week. I just need to make sure that I stick with it and find fun things to do with "A"s. Letter of the week is an AWESOME resource for that, so that's what I'll be using as a basic skeleton. I'll be changing stuff out, supplementing, and creating my own activities, but Letter of the Week really is a great source.