Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We blew off pretty much everything...

Yesterday's agenda:

Complete more sections of standardized test
Continue reading Trumpet of the Swan
Math Review Packet: putting fractions in lowest terms
Handwriting/writing practice: continue working on letters to cousins

Lulu in the sunshine (with rubber chicken)

Yesterday's reality:

Completed more sections of standardized test
Went to garden center, bought some rose bushes, looked wistfully at tomato plants, smelled herbs, let the kids pick one (Super chose rosemary, Dude chose lemon thyme,) looked in the koi pond, watched the tadpoles, talked about why hydrangeas change color
Ended up at our favorite Mexican restaurant, talked about our summer plans
Sat in the hammock while throwing toys for dogs

Our crab apple tree is in bloom

And I'm not feeling the least bit guilty! :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Books, Eggs, Catkins

It's good to be home! Spring is busy springing here.

There are a few baby leaves on the trees in our neighborhood, and lots of pollen in the air! We read about catkins in The Bumper Book of Nature by Stephen Moss last night:

"Catkins are remarkable things--clusters of tiny flowers, either sticking up like a furry berry (pussy willow) or hanging down like a rather droopy-looking caterpillar (alder and birch.)"

We don't have pussy willows here, but we still have lots of trees that make catkins.

"Unlike other flowers, catkins don't have large, brightly colored petals because they have no need to attract insects to spread their pollen. Instead, they rely on one of the oldest and reliable forces of nature--the wind."

Super said, "Oh, yeah, those are the things that make me sneeze every spring!"

We read Ugly, by Donna Jo Napoli, on our road trip, and it inspired us to do a bit of bird research. So we read a couple of chapters in Secrets of the Nest by Joan Dunning. It's a fascinating study of how birds have survived by adapting the design of their nests to various habitats and protecting their eggs from various predators.

In the first chapter, Dunning reminds the reader that a) eggs are fragile, b) eggs roll, and c) birds do not have hands! Then she poses this question: "How can I keep my eggs safe?"

I gave the kids a couple of pretend eggs and challenged them to build a nest. (They were allowed to use their hands!) We talked about how different nests are suited to different environments, and the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of nests.

They took the challenge very seriously! They came up with all kinds of ways to protect their eggs.


Dude decided he was a kildeer mother, so he made a scrape nest on the ground (living room floor.) After the dogs got too close to his egg, he rethought that idea and decided that his egg needed more protection. He swaddled the egg in so many blankets that I had to remind him that eggs do need air!

Eventually he changed his mind and decided that his egg contained a baby chickadee--the kildeer's ground nest just seemed too vulnerable.

Tachycineta bicolor CT2

Super decided to be a tree swallow. She made a cup nest by stuffing a towel between the couch cushions. Tree swallows really like nesting boxes, too. They tend to insulate their eggs with feathers. We didn't have fluffy feathers handy, so tissues provided insulation instead.

All the talk about protecting eggs makes me (almost) feel guilty about enjoying our home-grown eggs so much! We brought home 18 and after 2 days we only have 9 left! This morning I made cheese omelets and apricot jam omelets.

Thanks for sharing, ladies!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rose Rock Country

Aunt D has lots of pretty roses. Some of them grow out of the ground...

And some of them are in the ground! Can you spot the roses here?

There they are! This is rose rock country. You can collect them...

Rinse them off...

And there they are! Roses! They are red from the iron in the sand around here.

It's hard to believe that these have been in the earth for 250 million years!

Headed Home

Our last stop before the loooooooong drive home was Aunt D and Uncle C's house! This is one of our favorite places in the whole world.

Super and Dude love playing with their cousins here!

And we were all excited to meet some new members of the family...

They were very entertaining!

And generous! We brought home 18 fresh eggs!

We heard it snowed at home, but we were enjoying the flowers...

Hope you're having a lovely spring!