Adventure in Place: NEMO Families Get Creative with Extra Time Together

Thankfully, collective distancing efforts are showing some results, but quarantine has not been easy on anyone. Our hearts go out to all of the folks on the frontline — the nurses, doctors … the grocery store workers.

Throw in parenting and full-time homeschooling and it’s ok to suggest it’s not for the faint of heart.

Balancing working from home while helping your oldest to understand geometric proofs and explaining the logic of not changing the denominator when multiplying fractions to your youngest, all while trying to prepare something healthy for dinner — it borders on the skills of David Blaine.

All of us at NEMO are doing our best to balance it all and … feeling thankful we have been able to remain part of the team we all love. We’re doing our best to encourage our children to pass their time creatively — introducing them to new experiences and fulfilling their wishes by helping them with projects they conjure up. The extra time together has been a silver lining, seeing these projects come to fruition has been a light that brightens our days. Thought we’d share what some of our kids have been getting into — and pass that positivity on to you.

 

using drawings and consistency to teach a native language

Learning Khmer

Patrick McCluskey’s sons, Atlas – age 7 and Owen – age 3

We haven’t tried to teach much Khmer at home before now, but with all of the time we have together at home, the kids have a chance to practice it with some consistency and are very interested to learn more about their mom’s first language.

 

woodworking with dad teaches skills

Building a Bathroom Bench

Brent Merriam’s daughter, Maielle – age 13

I recently completed a bathroom renovation — it took over a year to complete due to a full travel schedule, a lack of free time, and a lack of motivation to get on my hands and knees when I had free time. My wife asked for a bench with storage that we could put outside the shower. I found some references that I liked through a Google search and then drafted up a design and got to work. Looking for ways to engage with Maielle, this seemed like a great project to share. We picked a nice day to do the staining out on the screened porch — outside in the fresh air but in a sheltered workspace. She’s a meticulous stainer and now wants to learn basic woodworking skills so she can build her own projects. We’re already planning to build some shelving together.

bringing the outdoors inside with me using paint and creativity

 

My Doorway to the Outdoors

Jessica Merrill’s daughter, Madeleine – age 15

Madeleine has been pretty committed to art and baking during this time at home. She asked if she could paint her closet door. I said, “Absolutely!”  I was thinking she was going to choose some outrageous solid color — I was wrong.  This is still not complete … she adds to it whenever she feels inspired to do so.  I think it’s coming out great and it makes me smile.

“After listening to the news and what everyone was saying, I knew I was going to be stuck in the house for a pretty long time.  I always want to paint and never have time.  Now I have plenty!  The idea to paint my door came from Tik Tok.” – Madeleine

 

masks for the community

Shop towel masks for our community

The Pitchforth Family

As a family, we enjoy donating our efforts for the betterment of our little Maine based community — be it local beach cleanups or donating meals to our nearby shelter. Spending time on meaningful projects together continues to build our family bond and the girls love to see their hard work go to great use. Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed a number of these family sessions building shop towel masks for local nursing homes and a few other local essential businesses. So far, the girls have handmade over 400 masks!

 

speading up the natural process with a rock tumbler

Rock Tumbling

Kate Ketschek’s daughter, Campbell – age 8

On our first day of homeschooling, Campbell and I agreed it was time to break open the rock tumbler that Santa brought. While it came with its fair share of gems, Campbell decided to sort through the multiple piles of rocks that we have been gathering over the years. Included in our tumbling project, we have petrified wood, ‘diamonds’, and some beautiful rocks from the streams and trails around our house.

We are currently in grit stage 3 with one final round before our rocks are fully polished. The total project time will be about a month. It’s been fun to see the transformation of the rocks from each round of grit, appreciating that we have been able to speed up Mother Nature’s process by hundreds of years. The National Geographic kit also came with supplies to make jewelry and keychains with our new gems, which we’ll be tackling once they are done. Science and art!

 

cleaning the backyard waterfall

Waterfall Clean Up

Bill Kramer’s daughter, Olive – age 5

Every spring part of our property clean up involves raking our little hiking trail and tiny waterfall. With the extra time this spring, we’ve stepped up our game to make our waterfall a very special place. The act of cleaning the waterfall feels super rewarding — it’s seriously calming and therapeutic. My wife commented that she loves to go out there with the kids and just play with the water, move some rocks around.

For Olive, this part of our yard is a place for her to get lost in nature. As a very talkative child, when she is “working on the waterfall” she seems totally immersed. These are the moments, away from electronics that I see who she really is — how much fun it is to play with running water, getting soaked and covered in mud, while smiling with a salamander in her hands.

 

building a cardboard techdeck skate halfpipe

Tech Deck Skate Ramp

Randy Gaetano’s son, Gus – age 8

Gus has been drawn to surfing and snowboarding for a few years now.  Recently, skateboarding has sparked another sideways sliding passion for him — both on his feet and on his fingers. Quickly after he learned to skate, he started playing around with Tech Decks and is now obsessed. He had always loved to craft with his hot glue gun and cardboard, but this has translated perfectly into a house full of the mini skateparks he’s been gluing up. He’d asked a few times if I would help him build a halfpipe, but time was always a challenge.

On Saturday, a couple of weeks ago, we immersed ourselves in cutting cardboard transitions and wood veneer top sheets to create a fun forum for some father/son Tech Deck battles, as well as a canvas for his graffiti art discoveries.

 

origami stars to brighten the day

Origami Stars for Friends

Randy Gaetano’s daughter, Olive – age 15

Since Olive was a little girl, she’s always enjoyed making origami. She would find peace in the tiny folds and the focused precision. Over the years she has mastered various creations, most notably the crane. Olive and my wife, Sarah, became inspired to return to this beloved past time as our social interactions narrowed to just our family. They began creating origami window stars with the intention of putting them up in our windows to brighten our spirits. After making the first few, they quickly realized they wanted to make as many as they could and give them out to friends and neighbors with the hope that they would bring the same joy and light to them as they have to us.

 

crafting some tools of the trade for mom and dad

Mama’s Briefcase

Emily Eppler’s son, Jackson – age 5

During free time, our eldest has been busily raiding our crafts corner and creating his own projects. The other day, he presented my husband and I with new briefcases for “when we go back to work.” I love the string detail on mine, although I don’t think it’ll fit my laptop.

 


We hope you are making the most of this extra time with your little loved ones and it’s helping to brighten your day!