Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clay molding workshop

Today was Uzair's and Hafsa's first day at a clay molding workshop, which they will be attending every Tuesday from now on until we leave back to Karachi. This workshop is organized for the local schoolkids, who are interested in working with clay. The workshop takes place in the afternoons, after the school hours. Both Uzair and Hafsa really enjoyed the first session - they learned how to make a leaf and a little worm on it. Their teacher, Inta aunty, is a professional ceramist and has been working with clay for tens of years. Take a look at more photos from the first session here: clay molding

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Migrating birds

The fall has arrived in Latvia, and the birds have began to head south for spending the cold season in warmer lands. When we are in Karachi, during winter we can feel this influx of birds from up north countries (Russia), as in the mornings we can wake to the singing of so many different birds! Today, we were lucky enough to see two 'hooks' of wild geese travelling over our village - you can se them in the photos below.

We see the great wisdom of Allah (swt) in all creation, Subhanallah. One of Allah's (swt) great miracles is this migration of birds - the birds of Latvia travel thousands of kilometers every year back and forth, in search of food and warmer places to live. The geese we saw today arrange themselves into a 'hook' type formation for their travel, which is not just a coincidence. The first bird in the hook gets the strongest winds and has to make the most effort for flying. The waves of air formed by the first bird's wings give uplifting effect to the second bird, easing his flying. The waves of air from the second bird give relief to the third, a.s.o. The last bird in the line gets the easiest flying time, as his flight is suppored by the uplift of air formed by the previous birds. When the head bird of the hook gets tired, it retreats to the very back of the hook, giving his place in the head of the hook to the next bird in line. Thus, the tired head bird renews his strength at the very end of the hook. This way, the birds can fly for long periods of time, without sitting down to rest, Subhanallah.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Julius Ceasar's crown

Today, in our history reading, we read about the consul of Rome Julius Ceasar. We read that all the powerful people of Rome at his time, liked to wear crowns of leaves on their heads, as a sign of their importance. Julius Ceasar had asked to make for himself a crown of goldden leaves. Here is an old coin, depicting Ceasar in his crown:
Since it is the autum season here in Latvia, we used the great chance to make our own crowns of goldden leaves. First, we cut out strip of paper long enough to go around our head. Then we ran outside to collect the leaves. When we cam ein, we glued the leaves on our strip of paper. Do we look important enough in our goldden crowns? :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our birds project

Today we finished reading the chapter on birds from our Animal World encyclopedia and made our final projects. Each of us chose our favourite bird. Mamma made a picture of them with pencil, we outlined them, coloured them and wrote some facts about them. Mamma made one more page with general facts about birds and wrote, where the birds are mentioned in the Quran.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This Sunday, our uncle Ralfs (our mother's brother) invited us to come and see his carpentry workshop - he is a professional furniture carpenter. How could we refuse such a wonderful offer? The day for the visit turned out really excellent - it was sunny with a feel of autumn coolness in the air. Since the walk to the workshop was about half an hour long, all of us had a pleasant stroll in this beautiful early autumn weather.

When we arrived to the workshop, we were surprised by the size of it - it was HUGE! We had expected that many machines would be there but had not anticipated such vast space and so many different machines. Ralfs uncle showed us around, starting from their recreation room, through the different workshop stations and ending with the office of their boss.

Ralfs uncle showed us every single machine in operation, so we could see, how he makes those beautiful doors and windows we saw ready made. To demonstrate the process of work, Ralfs uncle made for Uzair a one meter long and 6 milimetres thick wodden ruler. After coming back home, Uzair made on it number marks by a permanent marker and is ready to take his treasure back to Karachi with him.

Ralfs uncle let us try out the paint-sprayer he uses for painting. That was really fun, even though he put for us just water in it. :) We also learned that they make not only furniture but also bird feeders and bird houses, and even real coffins! For getting the feel of our trip, take a look at our pictures here: photos from carpentry workshop

Saturday, September 17, 2011

11th elections of Latvian parliament (Saeima)

Today, we went together with Vecmamma, Mamma, Ralfs uncle and Sandra aunty for elections, which took place in Liepa school. These were the 11th elections of Latvian parliament (Saeima), which were famous as out of term elections - the previous government was dismissed by a vote of Latvian citizens in a referendum. We had a great chance to see, how elections happen in Latvia, and drop into the voting box the ballots of Vecmamma and Mamma. Here, Latvians get a special stamp in their pasports, which prevents them from voting twice in the same elections.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun with acorns and chestnuts

On our recent trip to a park in Cēsis, we managed to collect quite a good amount of acorns and chestnuts, which have now started falling down from the trees, as the fall is approaching. Mom told us that in her childhood, she used to make great crafts from acorns and chestnuts. The next morning, we transformed our study time into an extended arts session (homeschooling rules!), spending a few hours making all kinds of figures out of our collected findings. We realized that immagination is all we need for coming up with as many different crafts from acorns and chestnuts as we like. In the pictures below, take a look at our raw material and the collection of ready made figures. For a more detailed look at each figure, click here: crafts from acrons and chestnuts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Visiting Liepa public library

Since in Karachi we used to have a book club meeting on Wednesday mornings (we miss our friends!!!), we decided to turn our Wednesday mornings into library visits in Latvia. Liepa, where our Vecmamma (grandmother) lives, has a nice public library with quite a large section for kids. Books are in Latvian, of course, but that does not prevent us from lenjoying them and borrowing them. Even Asma loves borrowing the baby books from the library!

At home, Mamma reads them for us, translating the text into English as she reads. Sometimes, with easier books, we have a different type of reading sessions: Mamma reads the page in Latvian, we try to relate to her in English what we have understood, and then she translates for us the page into English. This way, we sharpen our ear for the Latvian language (and learn some more of it!) and can check, how much of the text we have actually understood in first attempt. In the photos below, you can see us in the library.

Our Day with Hurricane Katia

While our home-city Karachi is being flooded by continuous raining, since last night, Latvia has been feeling the effects of hurricane Katia that has made lots of trouble all over the world already. We've got only an edge of it - however, still the wind is amazingly strong. Mamma had taken Asma out of the stroller, as other kids enjoyed the jungle-gym, and the wind was naughty enough to drive the stroller away!!! Later in the afternoon, Uzair and Hafsa got a wonderful idea for this windy day - they tied their baloons on really long strings and went outside in the wind to compete, whose baloon will fly higher. That was so much fun! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Medieval Castle Ruins in Cēsis

Today we went to close-by town of Cesis, where Mamma took us to see a really old castle from the Middle Ages (13th century). The castle is pretty much just ruins now but still there was plenty to see there - it has been made into a museum now.

As we paid for our tickets, the museum staff gave us special laterns we were to use on our adventure through the ruins. We guessed that the laterns are made to look like exactly the ones people were using centuries ago - they were made of wood, with glass on three sides and a small door on the fourth - for putting a candle inside. When we got our laterns, the candles were lighted already.

Our first stop was the western tower of the catle, which was preserved enough to climb up onto the top of it. We were climbing small, narrow and dark stairs (here our laterns were really handy for seeing the way), which were winding around the inside wall of the tower. Once we got to the top, we got a spledid view of surrounding area!

When we got down from the western tower, we explored the courtyard of the castle and the remaining bits of what has been preserved from the castle. On our way out, we took a peek into the dungeon, where the lords of the castle kept their prisoners!!!

We also visited a jewelry shop, where we saw ancient Baltic jewelry - the real excavated ones and the modern day copies of them. Uzair was totally blown away by a real knight's armour set - the rings shirt, helmet, real sword and shield. The rings shirt only weighed 12 kgs, so we realized that medieval knights had to carry quite a lot of kgs on them. Hafsa was captured by the medieval Baltic jewelry. We saw a fully dressed bride. The lady at the museum was kind enough to let Hafsa wear the medieval bride's crown! You can imagine, how special Hafsa felt. :) Interestingly, also medieval men wore quite a lot of jewerly on them. We also saw a medieval money making press and the money made that way.

After the castle ruins, we visited our 'old friends' the black swan family in a nearby park. When we saw them a few weeks ago, they had six cute little ducklings. When we saw them today - the birdies had grown into nearly fully grown swans!

Below is a link to a folder with photos from this our trip. Take a look and enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Home-cooked biscuits

Making good use of Vecmamma's oven, we baked our own biscuits. They came out totally delicious! As you can see in the photos, even Asma agreed on this. :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What a house!

Uzair loves carpentry work. When we visited Mamma's cousins in Jelgava, he managed to make his very own house from wood with some directions from Dzintars uncle. Uzair spent several hours sawing the boards and then nailing them together into a really neat little house.

Sand sculptures

At the beginning of September, we visited our Mamma's cousins in Jelgava city. Our relatives kindly took us on a tour of the city, which included a stop at one of the local parks, where we saw an exibition of sand sculptures. These sculptures were made this summer as a competition of international sculptors from all over the world. The topic of the exibition is "Circus", as you can very well guess it from the pictures. All the sculptures are covered by some protective layer, wich preserves them in such harsh weather conditions as rain and strong winds. However, still some parts of the sculptures have already collapsed. We were told that during winters, the same park hosts another competition of sculptors - but in cold season, they make sculptures of ice!!! The ice sculptures stay in the park until spring, when the warmer weather comes and they melt. :) You can take a look at more scupltures here: sand sculptures

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Colourful tomatoes!

Did you know that tomatoes come not only in red colour but also in yellow, pinkish and even green (yes, ripe!)? Take a look at all the varieties.


August is the month of beautiful fogs in Latvia. Nearly every morning, we could see it out of our window. Sometimes, it was really thick!

We searched the Internet to see, what fog actually is. It turned out that fog is water droplets that have condensed from the air. The same as clouds! When air has been warm and humid during the day, evaporated water molecules are spread thoughout it. Then, when the temperature drops, the cooling air causes the water molecules to turn from a vapour (a gas) into liquid droplets. These droplets are so small they can hang in the air. But they are heavy enough to lie low near the ground. Sometimes they attach to the grass forming dew.

In August, our Vecmamma takes special care of her tomatoes in the greenhouse - even though the nights are warm, she has to make sure that the doors of the greenhouse are always shut. If the fog manages to come into the greenhouse and settle on the unripe tomatoes, then they will not get ripe any more - without turning red, they will turn black and start decaying instead.

These pictures of fog we took from our balcony early in the morning.