Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

     As much as I love to garden, I have never lived anywhere, as an adult, where I could grow a real vegetable garden.  Savannah was hopeless.  The heat, humidity, and sandy soil, (Or should I say sand with a little soil mixed in?) meant that everything I tried to grow pathetically straggled along, or just died. 
      Here everything grows great, but I don't have any space.  I have managed to sprinkle in a few vegetables every year in among my herbs and flowers, but it's mostly just for fun. 

     This year I let Anna pick what she wanted to have growing, and she chose crook neck squash, pumpkins, beans, and tomatoes.  I had to make a new spot next to the pool fence in order to fit in the tomatoes, and so far everything is growing nicely. (Although I don't expect to have a bumper crop of anything.)

     I think our pumpkin patch will probably end up taking over our yard, but that's okay.  She was very emphatic about wanting pie pumpkins, not jack-o-lantern ones, and is already talking about all the things we can make with her pumpkins.
     I think that growing even a few vegetables is important if you have children, because it teaches that food comes out of the ground, and not strait from the supermarket.  It also teaches what food should taste like.  After eating a ripe, juicy tomato strait off the vine, the tasteless ones they sell at the store will never measure up.  You can also learn a lot about what plants need to grow; what will hurt your plant, or make it grow better.  Worms and lady bugs are good, but those yellow beetles with the spots... not so good. And yes, we do hand pick and squish them.  No squeamish gardeners around here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Butterfly Lapbook

     This is Anna's second nature themed lapbook.  Progress on this went a bit slower than with the tree lapbook, but she still enjoyed working on it.  One of the fun things we did to learn more about butterflies is to look at butterfly and moth wings under our microscope. 
It's just a small student microscope, but we were able to see the individual scales on the wings.  I thought it was interesting, because I had always heard that the ends of moth wing scales are jagged, which is what gives moths their fuzzy appearance, and butterflies have smooth scalloped scales. Well... that isn't so.

The picture on the left is of a moth wing, and even though the scales end in a point, they are smooth. (The dots are where the scales have been rubbed off) The butterfly wing however, (which I do not have a picture of) did have a jagged edge on the ends of the scales. Hmmm...

 Finding butterfly wings to examine was rather serendipitous.  I was walking in my yard when I looked down, and there was a beautiful Spicebush Swallowtail, minus the body.  Apparently a bird had gotten it.  After snipping off a small piece to look at under the microscope, Anna thought it would be neat to have the wings in her lapbook, so I taped them onto some card stock and made a little envelope to hold them. 
Her spelling and handwriting aren't perfect, but I love her enthusiasm. 

Crayon Holder

     After desperately trying to keep the twins still and quiet for two hours during our co-op commencement ceremony, I vowed to never attend an event like that again without something to entertain them.  When I saw this felt crayon holder tutorial, I knew I had found the perfect take along entertainer.  Nothing can keep my kids quiet longer than a pad and pencil.  I keep two clip boards with a pencil on a string in the car at all times, but these are sooo much more portable and cute too.  I whipped these up quickly, so they lack a little "professional polish", but they were very easy to make.  I am keeping these in an emergency resource bag in my closet.  It also contains several books and a couple of small toys, so I can just grab it and go anytime I need two well behaved kiddos.  (I made one for Anna too, since good behavior should be rewarded as well. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011


     I recently read a good blog post on nurturing your children's creativity.  The woman who wrote it obviously puts a lot of time and thought into allowing her daughter's creativity to blossom, and it got me thinking about the the need to encourage creativeness, and more importantly, how not to stifle it.  Anna is naturally a very creative person with a super imagination, (we have only recently said good bye to her imaginary friend, Beedo) and usually just needs to be given the means, and off she will go.  The only thing I need to remember to do with her, is to give her space.  Some times in my eagerness to help, I can take over a project, or kill the process for her.  I can also be a little overly concerned with doing things the "right" way.  This must just be something in my nature, since I don't remember anyone ever telling me the way things should be done, but I remember being horrified in Sunday school when a little girl next to me colored her sky pink.  Because, you know, the sky is blue- no exceptions.  A pink sky would not bother Anna.
     The twins, being two, are just beginning to show their natural tendencies and quirks.  Abriel has a good imagination, and loves to pretend she's a frog or a dog.  Even when we are out, she will crawl around and lick poor unsuspecting people's legs.  ( I don't know why the twins are so uncivilized, I really do try to train them.)    She treats her baby and bear as if they are real, and it is very sweet to see.   Samuel is more down to earth, and so active that he barely has a chance to just "be".  He does love to draw though, and will sit down and carefully draw little tiny circles and squiggles.  I love these drawings because the concentration they require seem so contrary to his nature. 
When you praise his artwork, he beams, and evidently takes a lot of pride in it.  He can also tell you what each little squiggle represents; usually a cat or a truck. 
     When I was teaching my co-op nature class, I had the children keep nature journals, and draw something in it each week.  I was surprised at the amount of kids there were who said they couldn't draw, and were to afraid to even try at first.  I kept telling them, "It doesn't have to be perfect, or look exactly like what you are copying.  All that matters is that you know what it is."  I hope Samuel never grows out of the pure enjoyment he gets from drawing, and the absolute confidence that this little circle is a truck, and this little circle is a cat, even if they might look the exact same to anybody else.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Gift

     As a general rule, it is extremely difficult to make something that a man will enjoy, as most crafty stuff tends to be feminine.  This is probably why I haven't made Dave anything before.  However, Friday night I suddenly realized that Father's Day was around the corner, and I hadn't gotten Dave anything!  I didn't want to go to Walmart and get a generic Father's Day gift, so I started thinking about what I could make him that might be considered a "man gift".  Below is what I came up with.
     It's a felted wool cozy for his water bottle.  The super man "S" on it is because Abriel has taken to calling Dave "SUP......er Daddy!"  I think it's funny, and I'm not sure where she got it from either.  I think it's appropriate too, since any man who can handle two year old twins in his late fifties, really is Super Daddy. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pumpkin Pie, Out of Felt This Time

     With the school year being over, I've let my crafty side have free reign, and have been creating all sorts of fun stuff.  So probably for a while I will be showing off my creations here.  Just to warn you. One of my absolute favorite things to make is felt food.  I have justified this near obsession by planning to make the twins a play kitchen (Out of wood; not felt) for Christmas this year, and then have felt food to go along with it.  So since it's for a purpose, and not just because I think felt food is so much fun to make, then it's OK to buy more expensive wool felt to make it with.  At least that's what I tell Dave, who doesn't the get the whole felt food thing. 
     We all love pumpkin pie, so I decided to make three pieces for my three children.  I would have made a whole pie, but I didn't have enough felt.  This comes out to be half a pie.  I have been making my own patterns, which at times has been frustrating, but I am learning a lot about sewing.  I like the way the pie turned out.  It looks almost good enough to eat!

Friday, June 10, 2011

     At my parents house there is a giant white oak tree. It dwarfs all the other trees around, and is the lone survivor of the virgin forests that were there before the saw mills cut them all down. Trees so big that I remember three children being able to play house in the decayed remains of their stumps.

     The oak tree is so intertwined with my childhood memories that it seems like part of the family. Our homeschool was named after it; I learned death defying tricks with the rope swing that hung from one of it's branches- the same rope swing that Anna broke her arm on. My brothers and I hid secret Runic messages way up in it's branches, where only a monkey or David could climb.

     Two months ago it fell. I was shocked. It felt like a death. How could something so old just die? Apparently even trees do grow old and die, but it left me feeling very sad and nostalgic.

     While visiting my parents a few days ago, I got to see it for the first time since it fell. They have been cutting away at it's branches, but there is still so much tree. You just never see trees that big, down. The trunk is five feet in diameter.

     While I was there, I also took a moment to look at all our hand prints in cement. We're all adults now, and married; most of us with children of our own, but it seems like just yesterday that we stuck our hand prints in the wall.