Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tick Check

Tick Check was the theme for today; we spent the morning and the afternoon outside. The children climbed around on fallen tree branches while I laid out a new garden bed and dug a place for our pond to go. It worked out well, actually, because the dirt being removed for the pond just went right into the garden space. We'll see if the pond actually comes into being -- it is my goal to focus on the four elements for HS this summer and a stream and pond would be a wonderful addition to our homeschool environment! Then they helped me pick up sticks because we were having a neighbor come over and mow the lawn. I did it myself with my mother's beloved hand mower but it was unable to deal with the really high grasses that had sprung up from nowhere. So I had to call in reinforcements -- a gas guzzling riding mower -- and then will use the manual one to trim the grass and maintain my girlish figure at the same time. ;-)

In other environmental causes, I am getting a water filter ball for my showerhead, I think. I am tired of what chlorine does to my skin and my middle child suffers from terrible eczema and I know that it would provide some relief for her as well. I love the Gaiam catalogue and will have to spend some time on their website tonight.

In the afternoon we had a playdate at Jefferson Patterson Park. We spent some time in their Discovery Room and then borrowed binoculars from the lady in charge and went on a nature hike in the woods. That was so much fun!!! We came out of the trail at the exact time the park was closing (except I dashed in and got a Folkmanis puppet to add to our collection -- Dolphin) and it was time to head home and do the second tick check of the day. In the morning I found one on each girl. In the afternoon Becca scored with two, Leah had one, and Natalie had none. I haven't found any on myself today either.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some Science Stuff

I found three interesting dinosaur-related articles on the Discovery News website and wanted to pass on the links for those interested in paleo or who have kids who are dinosaur nuts.

March 18 2008 - "Mummified Dino Uncovered -- Skin and All"

April 11 2008 - "Dino-Era Feathers Trapped in Ancient Amber"

April 24 2008 - "From T. Rex to Chicken: The Dino-Bird Connection"

As we have been listening to the bird calls on CD the children have noticed that birds are grouped together into families (cuckoos, owls, herons, and so on). Leah asked me what was the very first bird. Good question, Leah. So headed to the library for a dino book that included info on Archaeopteryx. The librarian recommended Eyewitness Books Dinosaur. Leah loves her new dinosaur book and sleeps with it under her pillow!

Monday, April 28, 2008

MM, CMM, WWS, and V

Magical Mozart
Today Natalie went on a field trip with her school to the Kennedy Center to see a performance of Magical Mozart by the NSO's Unlikely Trio (flute, harp, and oboe). There was even an instrument petting zoo where the children got to try out each instrument. She loved it! I thought it was nice the three they chose since each instrument makes its sound in a different way and it is fun for the children to experience each and compare them, especially the difference in the way you use your breath for the oboe versus the flute.

Calvert Marine Museum
Meanwhile, in homeschool, Leah and Rebecca and I met up with Gabrielle and her kids and we toured the Calvert Marine Museum which they had never been to before. We were there from its opening at 10 am until the admission desk clerks switched shifts, at 1:15 pm. We saw the estuarine biologist feed the skates and rays. We went on a tour of the Drum Point Lighthouse. And we all had a marvelous time. Gabrielle went through the museum so slowly with her children, I was really impressed. They were so quiet and attentive and she asked all the volunteers lots of questions. Our family usually goes through much quicker since we are used to the museum but it was the first time for her so she had a different approach, and my kids got a lot out of it as well. We came home with a puppet, of course, the Folkmanis Mini Quail.

Washington Waldorf School
While at the museum we all had a big surprise! The Washington Waldorf School 4th grade class was there on a field trip (CMM today, camping tonight, then Historic Saint Mary's City tomorrow -- I can only assume this is part of their Local Geography & History block). One of the moms on the trip is a person who I met last time Gabrielle and I got together, for lunch at her farm, named Petra, who is adamant about having WWS form a closer relationship with Gabrielle's farm (an organic fruit and vegetable farm) and about having her farm host events and perhaps even be the site for a satellite homeschool coop program where families in the area take the WWS teacher who has finished an 8 year cycle and is on sabbatical for one year before beginning the next cycle, share the cost of his/her salary for a year, and use the experienced teacher as a homeschool consultant. Apparently, this year the teacher could not afford to take a year unpaid sabbatical so had to jump right back into first grade without a break -- whew!!! So it was like fate giving them a nudge, to run into each other at the museum and get to talking again.

Unfortunately, V stands for Vomiting. Yes, folks, Leah got carsick on the way back from the museum. Add to that Rebecca wetting the bed twice last night and that's a lot of laundry! It is absolutely pouring here & we decided to have a quiet warm afternoon so we are going to make pancakes for dinner. Recently we read The Story of Little Babaji (if you're familiar with The Story of Little Black Sambo they are one and the same, just tweaked to be less racist -- the original story is from 1899) which stars a group of tigers who race around a tree chasing each other's tails so fast that they all melt into a puddle of lovely delicious melted butter and the little boy's father gathers it up into a pot and brings it home and his mother makes pancakes for dinner. I thought that making pancakes (there's a nice recipe for Cornmeal Pancakes on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Corn Meal) would be a good follow-up to that and today appears to be the day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Happy Happy

I know I just posted about this and I am running on a bit but I've just started entering books into this program in earnest and I am LOVING IT!!!

When I put in Animals Animals by Eric Carle it put it under two authors, Eric Carle and Laura Whipple, the editor. When I put in my new block crayons book it knew it! And I can use tags for the summer camps so that I can pull up the book list automatically. I tagged the block crayons book with "fables" and I am so excited!!!

It is getting late. Perhaps I should sleep. :-)

It's just so nice to find something that does exactly what you want. I'm tickled pink.

That's me!

Personal Library Software

I am currently searching for a better way to organize my book collection notes. I need something that will allow for an infinite number of "tags", like Amazon has, so that I can note everything that I would use a book for in a unit. For example, When Clay Sings falls into the categories of Byrd Baylor, archaeology, Native Americans, and clay. I would love to be able to go to my database and search my books and get results in a way that actually works for the way I think!!!

Does anyone have recommendations?

If I find something good I will let folks know. I am currently testing the free trial of Book Collector. I entered The Apple Cake, gave it tags of "bartering" and "recipe" (Tags are under Personal), and will now attempt to search for picture books which contain recipes. We'll see how it works out! Adding a book is easy, by the way. You just type in the ISBN and it searches online and pulls up the title, author, and a picture of the front cover.

Apparently, you can also convert your book lists to HTML so that your library can be put online, which is something I've been dying to do for the longest time. I just shuddered at the thought of entering all that time consuming data.

If you do the free trial (100 books) you can sign up for the newsletter to get a 10% off coupon. The product at its regular price is $39.95 and they do accept PayPal. Actually, I have a $25 PayPal coupon so I'm just going to go ahead and get this software. I am thrilled that they have tags, along with a ton of other features. And when I searched for recipe, the book came up like it should! It's also nice that the 100 books you enter during your trial get automatically moved over to your licensed version once you buy it.

So I have an official product to recommend -- hurrah! Book Collector

$39.95 - $4.00 - $25.00 = $10.95
(The $25 coupon from PayPal was because I used my PayPal credit card and earned points, it is very easy to get. You can also redeem points for free shipping on a PayPal purchase.)

How Do...

Today my children discovered what the library is really supposed to be for. Answering questions! In the past, I have decided it was time to go to the library, I have picked the books (and usually not liked them) and the whole experience has been so adult driven and not kid initiated and I have been so frustrated by the quality of the books, the staff, and the physical environment that we had completely gone off public libraries for a long while. Today on our Nature walk Rebecca asked me How do ants carry their food? And I thought to myself, I don't know the answer to this question. They can't carry it in their legs since they use all 6 to walk. Do they carry it on their backs? So after we got Natalie from school we headed up to the north end of the county to try out a new library and give it a chance. As it turns out, they had a wonderful librarian who found three ant books for us. And then Leah in the car asked me another good question that we could go to the library to research, which was How do insects hide from the woodpecker? (One of the trees we saw on our walk was simply riddled with woodpecker holes.)

Natalie asked me the other day How does a planet stay up in the air and not fall down?

(Like I know the answer to that!!!!!) In real life I'm not sure I do but I know how to explain it to a six year old in a Waldorf way... which is, I wonder... But some questions I do want them to research the answer to and I think the ant question and woodpecker question were very appropriate. And to know that the library is the place to find answers is a good beginning to research skills.

We visited a school on Monday as part of Tidewater's research into Montessori-inspired middle school curriculum and I was stunned about the attitude of the students towards research. Apparently, it is fine to copy and paste from wikipedia as long as you put in a sources page at the end of your report listing all the URLs in it. How is that not still plagiarism????? These kids aren't thinking for themselves. Add to it a stolen online photograph on your cover page and some pretty fonts and it looks great but where is the substance. The whole thing reminds me of a Twinkie. You think, oh, this will be something nice and then you dig in and it just tastes like mucus and sawdust.

Nature Walk

Today we spent the morning doing a lovely nature walk with one of my naturalist friends, Sue H. We hiked the Steve Easter trail. It was about 2 hours of walking all told and the children are very tired. :-) She helped us identify birdsongs we were hearing and lent us a CD called Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern Region which we can listen to in the car. We also saw a bald eagle's nest. During our walk we taught the children to recognize poison ivy, mayapple (many of which had flowers in full bloom), sycamore bark, jack-in-the-pulpit and ferns. We saw lots of fiddlehead ferns unfurling.

Leah and Rebecca also discovered anthills, deer tracks in the mud along the trail, and a small stream. We found a little pond which used to have frog, toad, and salamander eggs in it according to Sue but all had hatched. We didn't see any tadpoles in the water. My children also discovered a few morel mushrooms. They are a delicious edible mushroom (although we didn't tell the children that, not wanting them to begin popping other mushrooms into their mouths) and have a very short season, April 15 to May 15. We also saw a pawpaw tree in bloom -- they have a very unusual brown flower.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

To Be a Tree

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Rebecca shared with me today that when she grows up she wants to be a tree. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lengthy Book List

Here are my notes from Natalie's school library - I've included links where I can. One book that I must buy (for Farming & Gardening/Nature Study) is a vintage Golden Book called The Adventure Book of Nature Craft by Richard F. Dempewolff. Used copies online are about six dollars. It is marvelous. Full of good information and projects, including how to set up a camera trap to see wildlife that prowl your yard at night, and a simple bird call (made from a length of wood, some resin powder, and a screw). I'm going to use it for so many activities that I'm going to go ahead and buy it. The rest I will borrow, though.

Farming and Gardening
there is a series called Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists - I am interested in the following for Farming & Gardening (different ways of painting plants) - Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Cassatt and O'Keeffe

Soil by Adele Richardson

Let's Read and Find Out Science 2 books
Spinning Spiders
Ant Cities
Chirping Crickets
Snakes are Hunters

Wonders of the Seasons by Keith Brandt

Wonders of the Pond by Francene Sabin

What Makes the Wind? by Laurence Santrey

Earth Prayers from Around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth

Bridgestone's American Indian Nations series - entire series

The Big Book of Indian Activities

I think housebuilding is where I put the exploration of the four elements; if not, these get moved to wherever that is
Water, Earth, Fire, Air

The Pueblo by Charlotte and David Yue

Native American Storytelling: A Reader of Myths and Legends ed. by Karl Kroeber

Ancient Civilizations
there is a picture book series on famous architecture around the world called The Grand Tour - I am interested in Shrines of Power, Centers of Belief, Breaking the Confines, The Focus on Democracy, Waters of Life, and The Closed Faith - photographs of ancient civ. architecture

The Bridgestone Library series - Understanding Simple Machines series
Levers, Screws, Wedges, Pulleys, Wheels and Axles, Inclined Planes - how did they build these ancient structures?

Mummies by Edith Kunhardt Davis

Life in Ancient Egypt by Doxey

Ancient Egypt by Karen Sullivan

Tut's Mummy Lost... and Found by Judy Donnelly

Appleseeds (published by Cobblestone magazine) issue February 1999: Children of Ancient Egypt - ISBN 0382444183

Mummies and Their Mysteries by Charlotte Wilcox

The Ancient Egypt Pack: A Three-Dimensional Celebration of Egyptian Mythology, Culture, Art, Life and Afterlife by Kondeatis and Maitland

Eyewitness Books Ancient Egypt

Eyewitness Anthologies Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egypt: Kingdom of the Pharoahs

Pyramid by David Macaulay

Egyptian Life (Early Civilizations series)

Imperial Visions Series: The Rise and Fall of Empires, volumes 1, 2, and 3

Time/Life Lost Civilizations series - entire series

Factory through the Ages by Philip Steele

Hands of Heritage: Ancient Rome

Let's See Ancient Mesopotamia, plus Ancient Egpyt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome

I Know What Gravity Does by Aline D. Wolf - I don't know where I want this one, maybe with irrigation in Farming and Gardening

The Big Book of Ancient Greece

The Big Book of Ancient Rome

The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon

Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Everyone: An Introduction to the Writing of Ancient Egypt

Fun with Egyptian Stencils

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

Ancient Greece by Louise Schofield

The Greek News (mock newspaper)

Frosting a Cake

The children spent 1 1/2 hours preparing all my birthday surprises (5:30 to 7 pm) while I wandered around the Elementary classrooms at Tidewater, perused the bookshelves, and made some notes of resources for my summer camps. Will add them here after I finish my dinner. I didn't read all of these, so I'm not personally recommending them; they are just my notes of titles on their bookshelves which I want them to set aside for me instead of packing them up for the summer. So you will have to follow the links and read the book descriptions to see if any of them are books you might like. One I know for sure -- and am heartily recommending -- is The Mountain that Loved a Bird. It will be our first book in the Farming and Gardening block, at morning circle. I see as I am creating the link that it is out of print. HOW CAN THIS BE?????

It really bugs me when the best of the best get thrown in the trash heap, to be replaced by mean-spirited and shameless marketing of television to children, such as The Rugrats Destroy Manhattan.


Anyway, borrow this book from your library if you can.

Clothing Crisis

So much to write about... I have been super busy lately (Leah ended up in the hospital Tuesday night and we were at the doctor again today) and it is hard to play catch up. But here goes.

First, I wanted to write about our trip to the MD Zoo on Saturday. It was wonderful! They have two parts -- Africa and Maryland. :-) One of the highlights of Africa was the leopards. Instead of being fast asleep in the sun (like the lions and cheetah), the leopards were on the prowl. We watched them for a long time. We got to see them climb rocks, drink, eat (paw at blocks of frozen meat hanging from a tree), even argue over food! Rebecca was fascinated by the growling and the tense standoff. Then when we saw the giraffes they were sharing their food so it was a nice contrast between carnivore and herbivore.

The zoo had a baby elephant (born March 19th - 290 pounds!!!!!) and we entered a contest to name the elephant. Our family's suggestion was Cookie. I wonder what will get picked.

Yesterday was Drama Central here as Leah was moved from size 4T clothes to size 5T. I removed her clothes from her dresser and her closet and Leah pitched a Huge Screaming Fit. It was unbelievable. I just left her in her room with the two bins of 5T opened up and on her little table and didn't try to coax her to try anything on or anything like that. She calmed herself down and got interested in looking at her new things and she has been changing her clothes constantly for the past 24 hours. Then Natalie saw her and started saying, those are my clothes Leah, and we had to sort out that when you grow bigger you get new clothes and your sisters get your old clothes. They are so close together that there is hardly any time before the clothes get passed down and sometimes people are still attached to certain pieces. But it looks like it will all work out... at least until Leah sees Rebecca wearing her clothes from last year. :-)

My birthday is tomorrow so the children are meeting with a friend tonight to plan a surprise cake for me and presents. Then we will do a special birthday breakfast in the morning. From what I can understand, the presents are going to be artwork cut into pieces to make puzzles. That should be a fun morning.

I have decided to use A Child's History of the World instead of The Past Lives Again as my main text for Ancient Civ. because it is already set into more of a storytelling format (the other has chapters with discussion questions at the end; it is a textbook) and the civilizations are intertwined, which is what I want. More of a realistic view of how they developed over time and interacted with one another. I'll add the scheduling to my website - my planning for that is chugging along and I hope it helps people who are teaching or prepping for those blocks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Books

A Friend wrote to recommend two books that might be helpful for my summer camp on Fables; they both look wonderful so I am passing on the links. Visit; click on books & products. One is called Coloring with Block Crayons and the other is called Teaching with the Fables: a holistic approach. Each book is by Sieglinde de Francesca and costs $25.00.

Note - it is cheaper to buy them directly from her website than through Bob & Nancy's.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Toddler Booklist

I am compiling a list of resources to help me in my upcoming library lectures about the special gifts of the 2 and 3 year old child.

This is very inspirational reading!

Look at the Young Child: An Expression of Maria Montessori's Insights by Aline D. Wolf

Children at Play: Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development by Heidi Britz-Crecelius

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge : Nurturing our children from birth to seven by Barbara J. Patterson and Pamela Bradley

Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke

more to be added later...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stargazing Calendar

I have been doing some Fables brainstorming and thought I'd like to tie the stargazing thing I'm working on (learning the constellations) in with it. For example, we could do a fable about a bear, then illustrate it in our MLBs with star stickers at the crucial points on the constellation and then the children could take their workbooks home and try to find the animal in the night sky. In order to do this, of course, you need to know what the summer night sky is going to look like in your area. Therefore, the final element in the Astronomy unit, now Fables unit, is A Year of the Night Sky 2008 Wall Calendar, published by Barnes & Noble (ISBN: 9780760782651). They make one every year and they are marvelous! That makes two calendars I'm buying, since I need the biodynamic one for the Farming & Gardening unit (The Northern Hemisphere Astro Calendar).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Housebuilding Bug

Okay, the housebuilding bug bit me today... hard. I wanted to plan Farming and Gardening first so that the topics would flow organically into one another but I am just so excited about Housebuilding (and I've learned it has been the most popular topic on the summer camp sign up sheet) that I wanted to get started.

Here is the plan for Day One:
introduce the topic with Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn

nature walk, look at natural resources of our area, read How Do People Live? (an overview of dwellings around the world)

Plains Indians - Houses of hide and earth by Bonnie Shemie

morning activity - erect a bamboo tipi and plant seeds around it ("Beans, Gourds, Pumpkins and Poles" from Sunflower Houses : Inspiration from the Garden - A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups by Sharon Lovejoy

art - The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven, painting with crushed berries and different kinds of earth (clay, ochre)

cooking activity - grind corn with mortar and pestle, make cornbread for snack along with buffalo jerky

storytelling - "A Happy Day" from The Circle Never Ends

afternoon activity - cornhusk dolls (if we have extra time, play marbles)

Scones and Such

We had a lovely morning. Today the girls did painting and crayons, ran around in dress up costumes (flower fairies), helped me add fresh bedding and some cabbage leaves to our worm bin, and made currant scones. Our worm bin has been a roaring success and I look forward to getting more worms soon. Tidewater is shortly going to be setting up a vermicomposting system so I will go into the classroom to talk about it. Leah and Rebecca helped me tear up strips of newspaper, soak them in water (in our blue and white speckled washbasin), sqeeeeze the excess water out (good muscle building for little hands) and place the bedding strips gently in our bin. Today we will probably also do a story about baking, to accompany our scones (probably "The Clever Baker" from The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book: World Folk Tales Especially for Reading Aloud) and Christopher's Harvest Time, just because I LOVE the picture of Mrs. Cabbage. That is a book that will undoubtedly be going in the Farming and Gardening summer camp booklist -- I'll be putting more work in on those brainstorming sessions soon.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Misc. Ancient History Questions

Here are some things that have been coming up as we progress through Ancient History and A Child's History of the World in my Sunday School class.

First, my students want to know about Hanukkah because we were debating whether the golden seven-branched candlestick that Titus had taken from the temple in Jerusalem after he conquered it was a menorah. This is from page 206 ("Blood and Thunder"). Answer: It is a menorah, it just isn't a menorah used for Hanukkah. Menorah (Temple). Here's the Arch of Titus including a close up picture of the spoils of war and the menorah.

Conversely, here is information about the Hanukkah menorah - Judaism 101: Chanukkah

Second, they want to know who is Pope right now and how popes are chosen. This is from page 218 ("In Hoc Signo Vinces"). Right now the Pope is Benedict XVI. Electing a Pope.

They want to know how all the different sects of the Christian movement branched from each other and what the issues were that divided them. I'm bringing in my pastor to talk to them about that! That's a little over my head. This is from page 217 of the same chapter.

Lastly, the Nicene Creed, given below in Latin. Here is the link to its English translation - The Nicene Creed.

Today we will finish the story of how Christianity made its way to Britain, which is where most of my students are from. That is the chapters "Our Tough Ancestors" and "White Toughs and Yellow Toughs Meet the Champions of the World". Today we make decisions about whether we want to use the script for our play about Daniel or have someone do a Bible reading straight out of the text and the cast of characters acts it out on stage and improvises dialogue. I had the students think about this last week and it will be interesting to see what they decide. They love doing plays and the only stress last year was learning the dialogue so I think this might be a good solution.

Yesterday I signed up with a new Internet provider -- Verizon Wireless -- and this allows me to take my laptop and use it anywhere I have a cell phone signal to get online, with no signing on or finding out a password. It is much better than a wireless router and a wireless card and I love it! This way I can collect all the links that I want to refer to and take my computer to church with me, review the information right before class, and have it at my fingertips.

Symbolum Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum - Latin

Forma Recepta Ecclesiae Orientalis. A.D. 381

Credimus in unum Deum Patrem omnipotentem; factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium.

Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei [unigenitum], natum ex Patre ante omnia saecula [Lumen de Lumine], Deum verum de Deo vero, natum [genitum], non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omni facta sunt; qui propter nos homines et [propter] salutem nostram descendit de coelis et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virginine et humanatus [homo factus] est; et crucifixus est pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato [passus] et sepultus est; et resurrexit tertia die [secundum scripturas]; ascendit in coelum [coelos], sedet ad dexteram Patris; interum venturus, cum gloria, judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis.

Et in Spritum Sanctam, Dominum et vivificantem [vivificatorem], ex Patre procedentem, cum Patre et Filio adorandum et conglorificandum, qui locutus est per sanctos prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam. Confitemur unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Expectamus resurrectionem mortuorum et vitam futuri saeculi. Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sunshine for Dinner

As I was setting up the meal tonight (a kid-friendly but bland color palette of macaroni and cheese, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and corn) I was feeling oh-that-so-familiar mommy guilt of "there should be something green on this plate." Spinach, perhaps? HA! Then it occurred to me that instead of complaining about it, I should make it a positive thing. So when I put the foods down on the table I told the children that we were having a meal that was all the colors of the sunshine: red, yellow, and orange. And as I served it I asked them, what kinds of sunshine would you like? And they ate and ate and filled their tummies up with sunshine and it was a marvelous meal.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Magic Magic

Beth Manners' Magic Spanish for Kids has been such a favorite on our car ride to and from Tidewater School that I am going to go ahead and get her additional CDs:

My kids love the Magic Spanish for Kids storyline -- and we got to learn about Uxmal, which I thought was cool -- and they really are proud of themselves for learning words from different languages. Natalie's school offers Spanish so I had gotten this for her as supplement, but they like it so much I think I will trust that the rest of Beth's CDs (or should I call her Miss Manners) :-) are good and we'll explore a different language as well. It would be good for them to realize that there is more than one foreign language in the world!

Rounding out the additions to our CD collection, I am thrilled to buy Pictures at an Exhibition. The Great Gate of Kiev is one of my favorite musical pieces of all time. Someday I'm going to figure out how to make it the ringtone on my cell phone. With this CD you get to hear two versions of the music, one for piano and one with the complete orchestra. When the children are older, we can compare them.

Mother Earth

While doing the afore-mentioned shopping Amazon popped another recommendation for me. I declined but wanted to pass it on because it looks interesting. I personally love books which are illustrated with fabric or collage art. This is a new translation of Sibylle von Olfers' The Story of the Root-Children which is illustrated with details from a quilt inspired by the original. Check it out! It's gorgeous!

Ant Hills

This morning we went to a Nature program at Kings Landing Park. We learned some weather lore (which from the ranger's point of view meant sayings like "April showers bring May flowers" and ancient traditions such as Black Winter and White Summer battling it out). We took a wonderful walk through the park and looked for signs of Spring. Out of four bluebird nest boxes which we visited three had nests and one had eggs! The children each got to see three tiny beautiful blue eggs. The birds were up in the trees scolding us. We also saw a frog sitting at the edge of a pond, a ton of brand-new ant hills, buds on trees, and new baby leaves popping out of those buds. She told us about the May Day festival held at the park each year and apparently there will be visits by the Queen of the May and the Green Man. Also a MayPole, fresh eggs for sale, and all that sort of thing. Inspired, we came home and hung out our Nest Box (which last year was home to wasps but hopefully this year will attract a bird family). This morning we all saw that the tulips in Leah's garden had popped into bloom and our yard is really looking lovely. I'm glad we spent all that time last fall planting bulbs, although it was a bit of a pain in the neck at the time.

I wrote down the name of the book the Ranger was referring to, in case people were interested. She has a great collection of books! This one was The Magickal Year: A Pagan Perspective On the Natural World.

I'm going to be placing an order with Amazon in just a minute... it's been such a long time since I had money to spend on homeschool, but now the child support is coming regularly and I feel less panicked. Here we go:

Rebecca absolutely LOVES the little Salley Mavor board books and the rhymes are simple enough that Natalie can "read" them to her over and over, which she loves as well. In addition, I want to get the set by Jacqueline Mitton (Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations, Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations, Zodiac: Celestial Circle of the Sun, Kingdom of the Sun: A Book About the Planets) so we can finally start going out at nights, since it's getting warmer, and learning the stories of the skies.