Science Experiment: Rock Candy

Last Wednesday, we started a science experiment with sugar, water, wooden sticks and a couple of canning jars.

First, we found out that the mixture of sugar and water needs to be between a 2:1 and 3:1 ratio.  This being a sugar to water ratio.  I explained what a ratio was and had Jason figure out if I had 2 cups of sugar how many cups of water I would need.  I didn’t realize how much sugar I would be using for this experiment of ours!  I used an entire bag to create a syrup that I then poured into canning jars.  We then mixed icing paste into the syrup to get a bright color.  The kids made red, purple, blue and green.

This wouldn’t be a science experiment if we didn’t have a few hypothesis!  Emily thought it would be hard and good and the colors would turn out brighter then she thought.  I’m not quite sure how we would measure that, but it’s okay to be objective every once in a while.

Jason thought it would look like rocks and taste like candy.  And Lanie thought it would look like chocolate chips.

Fortunately we were going up north to Marcell, MN for five days so the experiments would not be disturbed.

Upon our return from up north, we checked out our experiment.  I think the kids were really looking forward to eating candy that they had made.  Unfortunately, we needed to wait a few more days for our results to come in, or at least turn out they way the experiment was suppose to.

I had the kids look at their experiments and tell me what they saw.  Jason said that it looked harder and more solid.  The experiment had turned into a solid from a liquid.  Emily said that some of hers was still a liquid.  Lanie said hers was hard.

Then we pulled the sticks from the liquidy solid mess.  The kids then told me what they saw.  Jason said it looked like a couple of pieces of rock candy, there were cube shaped crystals.  Emily said that hers was still a liquid.  Lanie said hers looked great.

Finally, the moment that all three kids were looking forward to:  the taste test.  Jason said “It’s amazing, it’s really sweet”.  Emily said “I don’t like it….I love it!”  and Lanie said “Mine doesn’t taste good”.

Out of all four trials, the one jar that had the most crystals in it was the lightest color, red.  Green, purple and blue were all very dark.  I am not a science whiz, but we all thought about it and decided that the lighter color made more crystals because it let more light in.

An update will be coming tomorrow!  We will be completing the experiment since everything I read said that you were suppose to wait seven days.  Pictures will be included as well!


The Summer Bucket List

I hate to plan.

My kids love to ask me what we are doing next weekend and my usual response is “I don’t even know what I am doing tomorrow!”  Unless I put it on the calendar, I don’t plan.  I like to go with the flow.  See what happens.  Let things do what they may.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to create a bucket list for the summer.  I know it is probably cliché, but I thought it would be a good way for us to have a board that could spark an idea for something to do.

I created a few worksheets and set the kids to work.  They were given nine spaces, but I told them that those were more  guidelines then anything.  Jason came up with a quick two and then decided that he would get back to me.  Lanie, the youngest came up with a few I was a little surprised about.  Emily quickly filled hers in and asked when we were going to start and then ran off with her friend and Lanie in tow.

Using our cork board that normally holds up pictures of friends and family and the calendar, I cut and pasted and created the board.  I used a template I found on the tatertots and jello blog.  I also created “Done” tags to post next to the ones that we completed.  My next step is going to be posting pictures on our bucket list board of the things that we do!

I, of course, got this idea from looking at pinterest.  I was enamored by the creativity all these moms put into their work!  I think my board took roughly 30 minutes to put together-which includes printing, writing on the cards, cutting and pasting.

You can get more great ideas by looking at a few other examples from The Taylor House, Mommy With A Lesson Plan, MamaScout, Creekside Learning,and  Crafty Chicks.

Family Genealogy-the Fredrickson family

A few months ago, I jumped on board when asked if I would help out organizing a reunion for the Fredrickson family.  I love my family history, and there is so much I do know about it.  My dad was the one that asked me to help out, and of course I couldn’t say no because I can’t ever say no to anything.  But that is another story.

Anyway, I was given the task of putting together family trees for each of the 14 children that had families of their own.  There were four other boys; one that died in infancy, one that died as a child, one who had twin daughters that died in infancy, and one who never married or had children.

I was so excited to dig intot this project.  Fortunately, a third cousin of mine has done extensive research on the genealogy of the Fredrickson family and he was kind enough to let me use his material.  I had him send it to me as a hard copy, because, well, I am some what of an old school kind of gal.  When it came in the mail, our lovely mail lady had shoved the package so that it was wedged into my mailbox.  I wasn’t pleased.  Not only that, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many pages were in this family tree.

I am not joking when I say that it was at a minimum, 500 or more pages.  The thickness of the pile of paper, after I wrangled the package out of my mailbox, was more then a ream of paper.  Insane!

My third cousin, Jerry Trippe, is a retired lawyer who lives in Denver, CO.  I am ever grateful at the work he has done. 

At first, I leafed through the family genealogy, I was amazed to see familiar names.  There were several names that I did not know were relations to me.  People I had gone to high school with.  Craziness.

My Great Great Grandparent, Nels and Emelia Fredrickson, had a total of 18 children.  Sixteen of these children lived into adulthood.  Actually a majority of them lived well past their 80th birthdays.  Of the 18 children, only FOUR were girls.  Nuts, right?  My mom grew up with four sisters.  I’m sure that was enough to drive my grandpa crazy, but to have 14 brothers?  Whew.

Anyhoo, the brothers were all hard working Scandinavian boys who worked hard on the farm that was in Eidswold, MN, just outside of Lakeville, MN.  This is now about a thirty minute drive down the freeway from Minneapolis.

In the early 1900s, the brothers formed their very own baseball team, the Fredrickson Brother baseball team.  You can read more about them in the Jully 11, 1994 Sport’s Illustrated article titled “Oh, Brother, What A Team” .  A picture of the brothers baseball team is also seen in numerous descendents of the Fredrickson brothers, including mine.  Their picture is also on a wall outside of the Town Ball Tavern at Target Field.  Pretty amazing stuff.  What is really amazing, is that every time I have gone up to the picture, there is someone there who is either related to the Fredricksons or is shocked by the fact that their is an entire baseball team made up of brothers.  One thing that really stands out is the size of their forearms.  Check it out, it’s ridiculous.  And they didn’t even have P90X at the time (kidding).

Enough about those brothers, let’s get back to me.  I am laughing at myself here at the computer.  I started working on the genealogy towards the end of February.  It was pretty overwhelming to say the least.  There was a lot of information, and the more I read, the more I wanted to know.

Last night, I started really working on the first born, Hattie.  I think I put in about seven to eight hours on the computer searching, compling data, and updating files.  And all I could think was “One down, thirteen more to go”. 

Fortunately, there are several other individuals who are doing the legwork for me.  My job is to primarily update the files that Jerry has sent me.

I really can’t wait to see all of the family trees when they are completed.  I also can’t wait to meet all of these people in person, especially Jerry and his wife! 

At the last family reunion in 1988, there were over 500 family members in attendence.  It has been 24 years, and I can’t even tell you how much updating has been done in terms of adding people to our extensive tree.  There have been guesses that as many as 800 people could be there this August.

I pray that the weather will be wonderful that day so that we can celebrate the people who braved a cross-Atlantic journey to create a better life for themselve in Minnesota.  I pray that people will make the journey in August to meet relatives, share old stories, make new memories, and maintain connections. 

When I first started this post, I wanted to complain about how overwhelming this was.  How terribly frustrated I was at my inablity to make significant progress.  Instead, I find myself at the end of a 15 minute journey feeling much more refreshed, knowing that everything will work out in the end.

I Have A Job At Home

It hit me today that staying at home is my job. I’ve always called it my job and that it is thankless, and no one really gives me credit for the work I do and my husband keeps telling me I need to go out and get a full time job, and blah blah blah. But it really hit me today that staying at home is my job. And I have really sucked at it!
I think if I did actually work for someone, they probably would have fired me months ago. I rarely finish projects I start. I usually do not get all of my work done, and if it is done, it is sometimes done only half way. I end up getting sidetracked a lot of the time doing busy work on the computer (aka playing Solitaire) or pulling out endless dandelions.
Until recently when I found these amazing women who use Home Organizer Binders, or whatever you call them. They had schedules for cleaning, that way I didn’t feel like I had to clean the entire house every day and cleaning became much less daunting. They had templates for menu planning and grocery shopping. The last two weeks have been so much easier when I don’t have to think up something for supper and then find out that I don’t have all the ingredients.
Yes, it has taken me quite some time to get to this point. But hey, I always say I am late to the party! What is nice about the menu planning is that I can show my kids the weekly menu and they will comment how they like or dislike one of the days. My other new thing is “If you don’t like what I am making, you can make your own supper”. Of course I have also instituted the dice for those children (really just the oldest) who do not eat enough vegetables.
I never really had pride in doing what I do every day. I more muddled through the day hoping that I would get enough time to sit in quiet for a few minutes before heading off to bed. I would look at the pile of dishes and wish blissfully that someone in the family would have been kind enough to have volunteered to do the dishes. The stacks of laundry in the basement would constantly harken, yet I would turn away and head outside before the socks could kick me in the proverbial butt and throw them into the washing machine.
My house was a constant mess. Not to say that it is now the picture of perfection, but there aren’t dishes stacked from two days ago waiting to be washed. There aren’t any socks that have been given life because they have been sitting in the basement dirty for so long. Dirt hasn’t piled up under my kitchen counters to the point that a small child could eat off our floors and feel satisfied.
Coming to realization that I need to have pride in our house, even if we don’t like where we live, has made me want to do better. Not because my husband has become accustomed to the fact that our house will never be spotless and he will have to do some cleaning when he gets home from his 12 plus hour days. Not because I am eternally embarrassed to have my childrens’ friends come to our house and hear them say “Your house is messy”. Not because I don’t want to spend two days trying to clean my house prior to having a birthday party or other event here.
I have to have pride in the job that I do every day or I am going to sink into a well of despair only to cling to those ideas that I am actually doing a good job, when I am not even doing a mediocre job. I think there is truth to the fact that having a clean house adds to happiness.
Our house will never be spotless. It will never be a picture that can be submitted to Better Homes and Gardens. I think the amount of care that I put into our home said a lot about the amount of care I had for the world around me, and it was saying that I had very little. Well, mark May Day 2012 as the day that I set about to change that. I am determined to change the way I handle things.
I was (and still am) so hesitant to schedules. I like to do things when I like to do them. I will get to them at some point. But some point sometimes doesn’t happen. The worst part about that is that my older two kids have gotten so use to me not finishing things that when I start something they don’t even mention what it will look like finished. It’s crushing really. I hate it. I can’t stand it. I always took great offense to comments such as these, but now that I have a system that I like, I think I can stick to, everything might just turn around.

****Disclaimer****As a rule of thumb, or maybe generally speaking, I do not consider myself someone who writes about myself or my family at length (ad naseum) online, but I really felt so strongly about this today that I decided to post it. And, I have really fallen in love with the Home Management Binder idea. It really is fantastic. I have provided several links where I went to get ideas for my own binder. I suggest everyone use one, especially if you are like me and hesitant to being on time.
****The links will be available after naptime. Thanks!

Bean Seed Experiment

Today, I started an experiment with Lanie and Lucas that involved bean seeds.  First we talked about what seeds need to grow.  We discussed this while Lanie and Lucas were helping me water my plants for my dye garden.  Lanie told me we needed water (as she was spraying the plants liberally with water; as well as the table, chairs and Lucas!).  The seeds also needed the sun.

I didn’t actually mean to start this experiment, but I thought the kids would think it was neat to watch their bean seeds grow while they were attached to a window.  So we started with four napkins.  Lanie used her handy dandy spray bottle and made the napkin nicely wet.

Her next job was to put the bean seeds on her nicely wetted napkins and fold the napkins in half.Then we placed the napkin hugged beans into a resealable plastic bag.

Finally it was time to place the bags in four different places where Lanie (I have since lost Lucas to Thomas trains) thought the beans would grow best.  We looked where we could see the sun and where we couldn’t.  The first place we put one was on a north facing window.

The second was placed on a south-facing window where we could see the sun, although the clouds were covering up part of it.

The third place was put conveniently on Lanie’s bedroom door.  Why not?  I mean who wouldn’t want a bean seed experiment on their bedroom door?

And finally, this one is by far my favorite, we put the fourth baggie on the guest turtle aquarium.

I asked Lanie which baggie she thought would grow the fastest.  She said “The one on the turtle cage because the turtles have a light just like the sun.”  What a smartie pants!  We’ll have to see what happens!


This morning, we made homemade donuts out of Grands! Biscuits. I used the recipe from Little Bit Funky.   Lanie, Emily and Lucas used letter cookie cutters to cut “holes” in the center of the donuts.  Then I used a pan with 1/2″ of vegetable oil to fry the donuts.  The kids checked out the donuts while they were cooking to make sure they were cooking properly.

While the donuts were cooking, all three kids went over to feed our two turtle guests.  (We didn’t want anyone to feel left out!)

Out came the donuts.  They were quickly tossed in sugar and cinnamon.  Nobody waited until the donuts cooled off to eat them!  Luckily, I was able to snap a few pictures before the donuts were gone!  So here they are!Lanie and Emily eating their donut!

Lucas eating his donut!



Cars and the lies they tell you

I think my husband and I have the worst luck when it comes to buying cars.  The last two cars we have bought have been headaches.  That is actually saying it gently.  They have been a serious source of frustration and deep disappointment.

In 2005, we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan.  It was all wheel drive, had everything we were looking for and the price seemed right.  Within a month, we had it in the shop because it wouldn’t start.  “Oh, you will need to replace the fuel pump” was the first thing the mechanic told us.  Two fuel pumps later, the car was still being a pain in the butt.  Sometimes it would stall while you were driving.  And it didn’t matter if you were going 10 or 55 mph.

The driver’s side window quit rolling down within six months.  I thought it wasn’t worth the 400 plus dollars to put into fixing the motor for the window, so I was stuck with a window that wouldn’t roll down.

About the same time, the windshield wipers quit working.

The first summer we had the van, the air conditioning went out.  I went to get it charged, but still no cold air.  I couldn’t roll down the window, I couldn’t sit in air conditioning.  I was stuck with a giant hot mess.

By now, you are probably thinking “Why didn’t you look for something else?”.  We were on the hook for this stupid van.  And every time I got it fixed, I said “You can’t buy a new car for —dollars”.  Seriously.  I should have traded it in before the next ball dropped.

I finally broke down and took the van to a Dodge dealership where I found out that it had been a computer problem all along.  Something had been amiss with the main computer and it had to be replaced.  $1000 to fix the main computer.  And this is after we had put in two fuel pumps, spark plugs, belts, recharged the air conditioning, and probably a list of other things that I can’t remember (or choose not to).

The van was great for the next two years.  It drove like a champ.  Pulled a small boat to several different destinations.  Brought home our third child from the hospital.  Last summer, the van took a turn for the worse.  The power steering was going out.  The van needed a new battery.  The tires were worn, especially on the left side-which meant that something else was wrong with the alignment or axles.

We started looking.  I really didn’t want to get another van.  I wanted to get something a little “cooler”.  Something a little more hip then a van.  Vans were so ten years ago.  Now it was time to upgrade to a crossover.

One of my dad’s friends was looking to get rid of his car at the same time we started looking for a new car, and it just happened to be a crossover.  It was a Chrysler Pacifica.  A beautiful car.  I told my husband that if the car was a man, he would be waaaaaaaay out of my league.  The car was stacked, chalked full of every extra Chrysler probably offered with the car.

So, I took the steps to buy the car.  I went and got a loan from the bank.  We got ready to say our good-byes to the beast (aka the van).  The van went on to greener pastures by being donated to the Courage Center.

Within a month, things began to go wrong.  The tailgate quit opening.  The motors used to operate the tailgate were worn out and needed to be replaced.  Guess what?  It was going to cost over $500 to get it fixed because they didn’t have to replace one motor, but two.  Then we started to notice that the gas pedal stuck.  When you pressed down on the gas pedal, there is a sudden jerk before you really get going.

I think that we didn’t really think through our purchase to begin with and were like deer in the headlight by all the glamour this car gave off when we were test driving it.  I really didn’t believe that we could drive a car like this.  It was above our league.  We were van people.  We were Chrysler Pacifica people.  I mean that car had commercials with Celine Dion in them.

Yesterday might be the straw that breaks the camels back.  A week ago, I started noticing that the car was making some weird sounds when I turned.  Then I noticed that the front end of the car, the bottom part, had come detached from the rest of the car.  It was stuck on with clips, almost like you could just snap it back into place.  Well, we did that.  Or so I thought.

I was driving my kids to the dentist when my son asks me about the panel that was falling off.  I told him “Oh, it will be fine.  As long as it doesn’t fall off while I am driving”.  I guess I should have knocked on the fake wood in the car because, and I am not joking, within 30 seconds, off it came.  One fog light flying in the air and the rest stuck miserably underneath the car.  I quickly stopped the car and went out to inspect.  Nothing seemed to be too damaged.  It was mostly cosmetic.  I pulled the part from under the car, stuck it in between all of the seats  and took the kids to their appointments.

Maybe I am an idiot when it comes to cars.  I don’t have this sense of when a car is about to puke.  I can’t go the dealership and buy a new car when one vomits all kinds of mechanic work on me.

Who knows what the future brings.  Maybe we will be blessed with a car that will last us until our youngest daughter can drive it.  I guess only time will tell.  Just don’t ask me.