the big build 2015

i pray that my girls will feel
their options are open
and will not confine their dreams
to a limited box defined by others
because they have been to the big build
and dabbled in the hands-on-stuff
that sparks joy in children
who become designers, builders, ironworkers, landscape architects, woodworkers, artisans, and plumbers
so that they can play+work+build with the tools they’ve wanted to use since childhood.



once a month we still head out the national museum of the US navy
for their full STEAM ahead homeschool science days.
it has a different format,
but it still works for us,
and it’s still free.
we can arrive anytime between 10AM and 2PM
and choose any or all of the ready-made science projects and experiments to do at our own pace.
this month the subject area was simple machines.
here the girls are discovering how pulleys make work easier.


patented ingenuity at the pg african american museum

just around the corner from us
at the intimate prince george’s african american museum and cultural center
was the exhibit patented ingenuity: the art of african american inventors.
we discovered just a few of the patents made by african americans,
— some from prince george’s county in particular —
including the first water gun,
air conditioner for vehicles,
turtle-shaped lawn sprinkler
and many more.

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there was also space for inspired visitors to share their own invention.
note the shoes with detachable soles;
when you start seeing them in the stores
remember that you saw it here first.

a book that shaped me

the national book festival has never been this fun.
this year, mercyGirl was a maryland finalist in the library of congress
a book that shaped me summer writing contest.
in addition to dropping by the national book festival this year,
and waiting forever in line at the wells fargo booth to experience their virtual maze challenge interactive game,
we attended the contest awards ceremony
where the contest winners got to read their essays
about a book that made a difference in their lives.
we could tell why the winners won:
those avid readers were also very good writers mashaAllah.


congratulations, mercyGirl. write on!


the girls ended their summer with an archery workshop
that included archery anatomy, safety and techniques,
making their own arrow,
and, of course, time at the range getting close and personal
with a bow and arrow.
this was not their first time shooting,
but no class has been this thorough.
ms. behrend was their certified 4-H archery instructor
at the rustic Patuxent River 4-H Center.

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now all we need is a archery club for kids in PG county.

that’s sew you


the big girls went to a week-long “that’s sew you” summer sewing camp with ms. leona
and their ma-ma-ma (what they call my mother) as the co-teacher.
not only did my mom get to share her love of quilting,
she got to share it with a room of girls
that included two of her favorite “granny girls”,
passing on skills that she learned from her mother
to a third generation.


summer steps with step afrika! 2015

our two big girls enjoyed another fantastic, tiring, exhilarating week
perfecting step routines under the hype, creative tutelage of step afrika!
with a touch of dem raider boyz (just for good measure),
culiminating in a massive step show in the kogod courtyard
of the national portrait gallery.


summer steps with step afrika! is over,
but step afrika! is giving free performances
in all of DC’s 8 wards — a “step xplosion” — until september.
check them out.
you might get step-fever.