Chronicles of the O'Brien Family Adventures...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Start of Term

Start of term classes and groups are beginning in earnest and it's always such a thrill for me as a mom. I may not have "First Day" photos for school that I hear so much about (and never had even heard of), but I do have first day photos for things like Scouts, Brownies and other ventures begun and renewed. It makes me sentimental. 

This past weekend we doubled up our Saturday with a Scouts BBQ at Lions Park and my nephew's birthday party at Coronation Park. The activities were back to back. 

After a mentos pop rocket experiment and lots of free park play, the party ended with loot bag kites to fly. 

Cai was so thrilled to fly a kite! All the kids enjoyed racing around trying to get their kites to fly. 

For some reason Sean and I felt particularly exhausted by the end of the day. 

So here we are on Monday: Aidan's first Scouts meeting. He had a great time and it looks like the kids have an awesome line up of activities planned for the year. Tomorrow his cello will start back up and the next day is the start of Brownies! Soon we'll add on Music Together, weekly skating and Games Day. I feel back in business as our year begins to pick up speed. 

Should I be holding onto something?

Physics: Speed, Velocity and Acceleration

Venturing into learning the difference between speed and velocity and how acceleration fits in, wasn't the most highly anticipated part of our physics kit, for any of us. But we tried it and had lots of fun running races across the house, determining speeds and racing a car down a ramp to see the affects of acceleration. 

It's always fun to see how Cai fits into these things. It's often best to distract him with something else but in this case he loved to race the kids "ready, set, go!" and add cars to race down the ramp with our experiment car. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eating A Rainbow

I'm not sure what prompted the interest, but Summer announced a few days ago that she wants to eat a rainbow every day; a rainbow of healthy fruits and veggies, not the Skittles variety. 

I helped her gather colored hair elastics to use on her wrist. On her left wrist is a rainbow of bands. As she eats a color (banana - yellow, strawberries - red, kale - green, carrot - orange, etc), she moves the color from her left to right wrist. After a successful day she has a completed rainbow on her right wrist. In the morning, she begins again. 

To support her in her endeavor (she tells me "mom, I want to eat a rainbow every day until I'm an adult. And then I'll keep eating a rainbow every day!"), I looked online for color fruit charts and found a great Eat A Rainbow kit ( 

It comes with a magnetic chart with colored tokens for four people to keep track of their daily fruit/veggie intake, all to conveniently mount on the fridge. I ordered it online and the next day shared with the kids the catchy song to go with it. Cai listened to the song on YouTube repeatedly and now can be heard singing the merry words on occasion as he dances around the house. 

I love how kids naturally care about health, in my experience. The desire to be healthy needs to come from within. It can't be forced; at least not in the long term. I have watched both my kids go in and out of focus on issues of being healthy. Of course it doesn't curb Summer's insatiable desire for copious amounts of candy but I can't really blame her for that (I have my own life long love hate affair with the ghastly delicious morsels of delight). 

Sometimes my kids are an inspiration to me. When our new Rainbow kit arrives, I'm going to enjoy eating a rainbow right along with them. Probably while still singing the song because I can't get the tune out of my head! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Love My Life

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

Long after the school kids have been unceremoniously awokened and shoved out their doors, shuffled into classrooms and roll-calls and announcements. Long after their classes have begun, we awake to the light of a new day, naturally and well rested. On this particular day my kids are unusually giggly and obviously conspiring. On seeing me awake I'm told quite clearly I must stay in bed. Cai goes out to the livingroom and my big kids inform me they're taking care of the toddler. I am to just rest and sleep. After a bit of pittering on my iPhone I request a shower. I'm given permission so long as I go back to bed right afterwords. As I climb into a shower, I can neither shut out the delicious aroma emanating from the kitchen nor not hear the click of dishes. I smile, knowing my kids, I knew what the secrecy and giggles were about. I type this up, back in bed, letting my kids have their surprise. 

I love them working together happily. I love them conspiring and practicing their arts of cooking. This impromptu plan has displaced our day a little, with plans of visiting a friend and perhaps an Argyll party following music practice, some writing and the kids self-imposed two pages of math workbook practice as well as possibly addition experiments from our kit. But this is what I love about what we do: flexibility is built into most of our days. Flexibility to allow life unfold as an unfurling flower: as it will. There are still the times where we have to be at certain places at certain times with a more precise schedule, which is good too. Balance is the key in all things, including intentionally avoiding the modern trappings of a stress filled life. 

Because that is a huge component to my happiness; I refuse to engage in the crazy busy stressed honor badge of modern life anymore. I value slow, peace, family and friends, time to be, follow our passions. I am happy because we have time to laugh and to play, time to learn and to grow, time to live intentionally, with purpose, love and joy. 

Life is what we make it. We get to choose. We choose through our intentions and our thoughts, through our expectations and feelings. Because life can only give you what you expect. Expect a struggle? You'll get that. Expect it to be easy? You'll get that. I choose an easy life, filled with growth and learning, expansion and adventure, challenge and joy and happiness. 

And my pancakes were delicious!

Physics: Exploring Mass with a Balance Scale

And the physics fun continues!

We've learned about inertia, forces, and today we discussed mass while building our own balance scale. It was interesting to learn how the scale measured mass versus weight (weight being relative to gravity and mass independent of it).

After building our scale we used coins to figure out the mass of a duck, knowing how many grams each coin was, and we discussed the difference between mass and weight. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

All In This Together

I love that we are all intrinsically the same. No one is better than another; no one is worse. We all have the same needs. The same desires. Everyone wants to be loved, to be happy, to be free. 

I love this. I love that I can see it so clearly. In my youth, I could get confused easily. Even still at a party with some high flying individuals: I can see how they feel they are better than me. But I just feel sorry for them. It hurts to feel you're better than anyone. I can see that now. Thinking you are better than anyone else is a separation from our true knowing of who we really are. Think about it. Does it feel better inside to feel superior or to feel love for all those around you? I'd rather feel love than superior. I win every time. Being superior is a lonely place. I've been there - or at least, I've perceived myself to be there. Now I'd rather be humble. I'd rather be loving and compassionate and kind. Intellect means nothing. Kindness is the true wisdom. Love is everything. 

It feels good to have some clarity in life. Clarity is freedom. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Physics: Forces and Gravity

Day two of our explorations in Physics: we discussed gravity and performed experiments that illustrated it's effects. The highlight was building a sliding scale to weigh objects in Newtons.