June 20, 2012

An Early Solstice Celebration

Haven's birthday was yesterday, but his god-family will be in town tomorrow, so he wanted to save his party until they get here.  That day happens to be the summer solstice, so we decided to celebrate solstice on his birthday and and his birthday on solstice.  It was the obvious choice, right?

In my private moments, I care very deeply about summer solstice because I absolutely despise hot, burning sunlight.  Yes.  I'm a grump when its sunny and I spend most of my summer trying to avoid the stuff.  So for me, summer solstice is a time to celebrate the going away of the unwelcome guest! To be fair, I appreciate summer, gardening (although I've not gotten to do much of that this year with my book nearing publication and deadlines looming), trips into the canyons that you can't easily make with a blanket of snow on the ground, and the ability to have friends over for dinner and let the kids play outside rather than dispersing toys across the house.  All good things about summer.  If you could have summer without quick sunburns on pale, pasty white skin, I might just love it.  If you could have summer without the clothes required to keep you cool that allow your gleaming skin to come out and cause eye damage to onlookers, I might enjoy it.  But as it stands, I bundle myself up in frumpy clothes to protect my quick-burn skin and feel exhausted from the heat, which saps my energy immediately.  I want to hibernate in the summer.  Some animals do that, you know.  It's called estivation and I think it's a gran idea!

Okay...that was way off topic.  Back to summer solstice and yesterday's frolicking.

 I made these nature treasure bags for the kids and then they decorated them with acrylic paints and a stamp.  Letting them decorate them meant blocking out images from pinterest and breathing deeply for a few minutes.  Don't you feel like all of the beautiful kid craft diy sites make you feel a little ashamed when your kid made stuff actually looks like a kid made it?  Even the art the boys used to come home from speech class with was half done by teachers as if parents would balk at something kid made.  So I let the kids decorate without my intervention and I just trust that they will grow up to me more self assured than they would if they were surrounded by beautiful things that they took no part in creating.  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

I printed these cute nature hunt checklists from Parent's magazine, but they have an error on them (argh!), which is that they tell your kids to find something opaque and then explain that opaque means something that lets light pass through.  Wrong!  Oh well.  It's still pretty!  And to make it even prettier, I watercolored all over it and tore the edges.  They loved it and now they know what opaque really means!

They wanted to make a ti-pi, which evolved into an A-frame tent, which then evolved into an elaborate sun shade and then finally into a wild engineering experiment run amuck!  Anyway, I needed to use up some of my fabric stash (see that giant blue bucket behind Haven?  Yeah...I can't make anything I want to make until I use that up and most of it isn't just right for what I want to make, so why not let the kids go wild?) so I let them spend hours piecing it all together to be sewn into some sort of tent canopy.

While they sorted fabrics, I made these cute super hero masks from gorgeous, magical fabric.  Masks just make every celebration cooler, don't they?

The kids took some time to make a beautiful table out back.  They used their felt sun candle holders that they made last week and stuck 2 candles into oranges for a natural, sun-inspired look.  Fancy juice jars and their masks were carefully placed in each table setting.  All of this on a bed of weeds, which I honestly didn't mind seeing go!

Look at these adorable juice jars!  They look like apples and I want to keep them forever!  Got to love Martinelli's for more than just New Years!

 Hannah-Jane and Haven worked on a solar over that was to cook our lunch.  They followed the directions meticulously and I was sure it was going to work.  I mean, at out altitude this time of year, thinly shredded cheese should just melt on its own, but with the help of the foil, it should absolutely work.  Right?

 Wrong.  After 2 hours there wasn't even a sign of melt.  In fact, they cheese got kind of crunch.  I can't explain why this didn't work.  But we were seriously bummed.  If you've done this and you have a tip, please leave it in the comments box because we'd love to try it again with more success!

When the scavenger hunt finally ended, they dumped out their goodies to compare.

Then they painted sun catchers and drank their fancy juices.  They were going to save the juice for lunch, but the cheese just would't melt and they got impatient!

 While they painted, I cut and drilled the pieces for the desired tent.  Not bad, but pretty small.

Hannah Jane made a wizard's eye in sun colors on sticks from the burn pile.

Here is the second incarnation of the tent, which required more sawing and drilling, but fit more people.  Yeah...it only lasted until the first gust of wind and then all of the wood pieces fell apart and the kids giggled under the giant cloth they pieced together.  This made me feel like a real dunce.  How hard can it be to erect a simple shelter from 1x2's with no instructions?  Honestly, it was kind of hard.  But they had fun experimenting with different designs and I imagine that we'll keep toying with it.

All in all the day was a success!  Now to clean it all up before our out of town guests arrive and get things ready for the birthday party.  I'm sure glad Haven has simpler taste in parties than his sister!

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