May 29, 2008

Birthday Boy!

Micah is ONE!

Not sure where this year has gone, but my baby boy is now a fun-loving toddler! And he loves music, so his sisters gave him his own instruments for his birthday. Here he is with his turtle drum, that he carries everywhere. :) (All that Alan Jackson music is paying off--this boy has some rhythm!)

May 26, 2008

Can you believe

I haven't anything to write? (I hear your laughter...) ;)

I've closed the books on our '07-'08 school year. I've begun packing for our 3 day get-away later this week. I've organized all our school supplies for the '08-'09 year and we'll start shortly after our mini-vacation.

The girls are excited about the summer. We'll have some art lessons, swimming time with friends and participate in the library's reading program. This will be the first year that they will read all the books themselves!

But our life right now is fairly mundane. We're just enjoying each other and the last few days of spring weather.

It's nice to have a lull in our busy-ness. It won't last long, though...Micah's walking! :)

May 21, 2008

Any idea what this is? It's a Passion Fruit Flower!

^ Side view^

^ Top view ^

This flower/weed grows on a vine that wraps around one of the porch columns. We've been in our house for 4 years now, and last spring was the first time I ever saw it. It just bloomed again today.

Neither I nor google nor any of my flower ID guides knows what this interesting flora is. But I know I love the purple color!

So if you know, please enlighten us! :)

UPDATE: I found an answer! Actually the ladies--who know everything!--on a homeschool message board I frequent passed along the answer. One of the moms even posted a link describing the symbolism of this flower. The passion part of the name was given by Spainish Catholics hundreds of years ago as a way to describe the cruxifiction of Christ. The beautiful purple radials represent the Crown of Thorns and the top 3 stigma represent the nails.

Explanation aside, I look at its rich colors and am awed by the creativity of the Creator. When I really start to focus on the new life around us, even dandelions amaze me! I may be a novice at identifying flowers (and don't get me started on my embarrassing ineptitude of naming trees), but I so enjoy looking at them with my kids--who never seem to miss a single amazing one. They love the very nature that I have taken for granted for so long. :)

May 19, 2008

He found the piano!

He climbed unto the bench and banged the keys with his hands before he realized it was so much more fun to play with his knees!

He's starting to walk some, but it's just so much faster to crawl...and climb. :)

May 15, 2008

Sweet Dreams

My kids have been drifting into dreamland as visions of chocolate bars and chocolate kisses and other chocolate treats dance in their heads. A pleasant way to go to sleep, don't you think?

We're winding down our school year with chocolate! This is the most fun and educational study we've done by far--not to mention the most delicious!

Let's see, we
  • graphed m&ms (each child had 57 pieces in her bag; red the fewest, green the most)
  • practiced fractions with Hershey bars
  • learned how monkeys make chocolate (they spit out bitter cacao seeds, a new tree grows...hey, you go read the book!)
  • ordered a kit that contains an couple of real cocoa beans (they look like almonds)
  • studied the nutritional info (it didn't stop us from devouring a bag of kisses)
  • read the history of chocolate (100s of years ago the Indians added peppers to flavor their cocoa)
We even learned what m&ms stand for--and it's not Makenna and Mabry, much to the disappointment of the twins. ;)

Even if you don't homeschool, or just need a fun study, check out this yummy unit and enjoy it with the entire family. :)

May 13, 2008

Time to play!

It's nearly impossible to learn anything new when the weather is hovering around the mid-70s. So we swapped our textbooks for a picnic at the park!

Here's Micah with his new "friend." :)

He still can't walk, but this park is a climbing heaven for him.
CG, like all other 8-year-olds, shows off her carwheels.K is attempting to cross the bars backwards. I think here she's trying to decide if she really wants to do it.
Then there's M, just hanging out.
M found a "frame" for the picture, so here's the whole marvelous bunch!

May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I'm so blessed with 4 of the wildest, most imaginative, energetic and creative kids around. Because of them, this season of mothering is, um...well...entertaining. And never, ever boring!

My lively little ladies truly tried to do something nice for me for Mother's Day, but when they put all their pennies together, they only came up with $2.87. They dug through the couch cushions, but came up empty-handed. They even looked though my money cup in the laundry room, but I had emptied that last week to buy me a cherry Dr. Pepper from Sonic (gotta love that 2-4pm Happy Hour). ;)

So they went to their daddy, and he gave them a great idea--a gift certificate to Pampered Chef.

So, CG typed the gift certificate message and then each girl personally colored in a heart. They were a bit upset that the markers bled through the creases on the fold...but I think it's darling nonetheless.

I find it funny that I will now own an apple peeler/corer/slicer thingy from PC, especially since I'm inept at all things related to cooking. But my kids will get great use from this tool and I won't have to stand over the sink peeling and de-coring and cutting apples for these kids as their baby teeth continue to fall out--they can do it all by themselves!

And that is the greatest mother's day gift! :)

May 9, 2008

Dance Recital

The girls had their dress rehearsal today for their baton class.
(Thank you, Ms. Maureen, for putting my girls together for the photo op.) :)

May 8, 2008

Ode to the Skink

(I thought you might enjoy the poem our family composed while excitedly overwhelming Daddy with the details of their discovery yesterday. Our family has this corny habit of rhyming silly thoughts. Each person makes their unique contribution. Enjoy!)

We found a skink.
We named her Tink.
Her tail had a kink.
She dressed in pink mink
At the skating rink.

She caused a stink!
And crawled into a sink.
We saw her shrink!
We heard kerrrplink!
That was the end of our pink skink.


May 7, 2008

Our newest creature...

It's a skink! Woohoo! I've never seen one before. I had no idea what this thing was...but thanks to the knowledgeable people at eNature, I'll always seem highly intelligent to my kids. ;) At first I thought it was a salamander, or maybe a gecko, or just plain ugly. Nope, it's a skink--you can tell by the slender claws, just like a lizard.

(Disclaimer: my lizard lovers didn't inherit their outdoor zeal from me. I spent my childhood reading, writing, violining and letting the other kids handle these villians.)

I didn't take this picture; if I did, it would have looked exactly like what you see now. This particular beast is a broadheaded skink which resides among the leaves on the forest floor, but hangs out on the tree tops while waiting to gulp down insects and wasp delicacies. Who knew?

Our lonely skink lost it's way to somewhere because it took an unfortunate detour to our front porch. Lucky for the skink, the dog was playing in the neighbor's creek at the time.

The kids are sad that I wouldn't let them keep this skink as another pet. Tomorrow they plan on scouting out another skink, in hopes that I'll let them raise a skink family. Don't you think it's time to divert their attention with some new fish for the tank? Off to Petsmart in the morning...

May 5, 2008

Here's a shock for you...

We found another lizard!

I think this makes lizard #4052 (I think...I lost count after the 2nd one they found this spring) since March 31. She is named Lilly and she now lives in a shoebox with lots of green leaves. She is apparently special because she has a "blue neck," as K said; meaning it has a bluish collar around the neck. (While riding her bike the other day, she smashed into a large concrete column--but give her a lizard and she observes minute details my eyes don't register.)

My kids are either bored or incredibly enamored by these creatures. We have thousands of dollars invested in dolls, toys, books, playground equipment, a baby brother...but it's the natural creatures that obsesses their minds.

As long as they keep their interests in lizards, butterflies/moths, ladybugs or an occasional spider, I'm fine. If they start bringing home snakes...we're moving far, far out of these woods!

I did note today that catching small beasts is a good physical activity, too. You should have seen K scurry to snag this sucker! She can be stealthy and swift when she wants. Now if being quiet is a necessity--you know, at the library or at bedtime--oh no, she'd be as loud and clumsy as possible! ;)

May 1, 2008

Strawberry Ink

We're continuing our study of American history with The Hatmaker's Sign and Paul Revere's Ride for K and M; CG is still working on Betsy Ross. And we made the Declaration of Independence come alive!

Using and activity from Visual Manna's American History Through Art, we made ink from berries, much like people would have done hundreds of years ago. Well, sort of like they did--I did have the luxury of electricity and a stove; but unlike them, I didn't have fields of fresh berries to pick and I only had strawberries to work with. And not just any strawberries, the overly-ripest 4 you have ever seen. The 4 that were hidden inside a cup, in the fridge, suspended between Monday night's leftovers and a new gallon of milk.

Not sure why the girls thought to hide strawberries from their picking day, but I'm glad they did since we had no other berries for this activity.

So I cut up the four I had and prayed for the best:

To these chopped 'berries, I added 1/2cup of water and brought to a boil. The 'berries didn't give a bold color so I added a tea bag (Celestial Seasonings Strawberry, nonetheless) to the water. It simmered until the color was dark enough to use (2-3 minutes?, not long).

I drained the concoction into our inkwell: a lovely ice cream dish. :) And added in 1/4t each of salt and vinegar. I'm not sure why, but the recipe called for it--I suppose it strengthens the color somehow?

Anticipating this project, I already had faux feathers from AC Moore on hand to use as quills. I simply cut the ends at an angle so the quill part would soak up and hold some of the "ink." (By the way, do your kids sit on the table when doing schoolwork?)

Anyway, they experimented with quills by writing as fancy as they could. During colonial times, people coveted beautiful scripted handwriting. They even toted around autograph books to show off their friends' signatures. That's why the Declaration is so flourishing fancy.

Here's M's attempt:

Here M gives up and pretends to write Constitutional-style with her fanciful scribbles!

At least the kids have an appreciation for handwriting practice!