Hands On With Intensity

My day started out with an overabundance of pomegranate seeds. Specifically, too many of them to reasonably eat. We use a service in our area called “Door-to-Door Organics;” they deliver fruits and veggies to us once a week. Between last week and this week’s orders, we ended up with 4 pomegranates, producing about 4 cups of pomegranate seeds. And, though my kids love to eat the seeds, even they can’t eat that much before the next delivery.

I was sipping my coffee and decided to Google what I might be able to make with the seeds, and found a recipe online for oatmeal pomegranate muffins. The kids and I measured the ingredients, mixed up the batter and topping, and baked the muffins. We then sat down to a family breakfast to sample our work. The muffins were delicious, and a great way to use up a lot of the seeds. My kids talked excitedly about the flavor and texture of the muffins, and discussed whether or not they would like to make this recipe again (a resounding yes.)

Next we moved onto the cardboard box which arrived yesterday in the mail. Inside said box: one frog dissection kit. E and A had asked if they could do more science at home, and after a discussion about options, we ordered a dissection kit to try it out. The kit comes with most of the items you need to perform a dissection, including the preserved frog. Being a doctor who rounds at different facilities, I luckily always have a box of latex gloves in the back of my car; we all donned the gloves and got to work. Over the next hour, we observed, poked, prodded, and dissected the frog with the instructions provided (and some assistance from our iPad app.) H even joined in on the fun for a while, before deciding that the smell (not to mention the sight of a dead frog) was a bit overwhelming for her emotional and sensory intensity. E, meanwhile, meticulously separated and labeled the organs, while A kept commenting on how interesting it was to see the inside of a frog. The most unexpected find for them? Observing the delicacy of the webbing on the frog’s hands and feet. Once we were done, we said a quiet thank you to the frog for giving his life so we could learn.

Next up for the day: sewing machine lessons. My grandmother taught me how to sew, knit, and crochet when I was a kid, and my mom does quite a bit of sewing herself. I personally haven’t done much sewing since med school, but had bought a new sewing machine a few years back so I could hem the kids’ pants and sew on scout patches. Mostly, though, the machine sits unused.  H has developed an interest in fashion design, and I mentioned to her that she could start by designing clothing for her American Girl doll (the look-alike kind.) She ordered a book of patterns , and we all trekked to the fabric store. Two very intense hours later (seemingly infinite colors, textures, and ideas), we left with our fabrics, and a multitude of possible projects.  H decided on a pink animal print dress to start.

While Dave helped E clean up the frog dissection, I worked with H on cutting out the fabric according to the pattern, and we pinned the pieces to get ready to sew. E had expressed an interest in learning, too,  so I taught them both the basics of running the machine.  Together, we sewed the dress, (which frankly looked adorable on her doll – she did a fine job picking out the material,) and H was so excited that she decided to make a miniature pillow and rug on her own. E embarked on making a Kindle case – using her soft purple fabric – with a velcro closure.

I sat down and relaxed after an awesome morning. I reflected on moving through math, science, project sequencing, and life skills within the space of a few hours. The kids all stayed intensely interested and inquisitive, and I very much enjoyed myself, too. Not only did I get to spend time with them, I had the privilege of teaching them new skills, and watching their amazement at their new knowledge and ability to use it.  Learning, the way it was meant to be.

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