Friday, September 20, 2013

Bears, School & Ships

Seriously, tell time to slow down.  It's going too fast.  The kiddos and I have already completed 6 weeks of homeschooling.  Really?!  It's going by so fast.  And I love the time with them.

Before I recap homeschool stuff, I'll regal you with the highlights of the week.

Great Mom Idea #121: Watch a NOVA documentary about sinking ships with your eight-year-old boy right before you are to get on a ship.  I apologize to all those sailing with us if he freaks out, it's my fault.  But I was running on the treadmill while he was taking a bath and I had to find a family friendly show to watch since the TV is in the main room and it can be heard throughout the house (especially when I have to turn it up to hear it over the treadmill).  So when the boy was done with his bath he joined me in the rest of the show until bedtime.  There isn't a whole lot on TV that an eight-year-old can watch at 8pm on a Wednesday.  So NOVA it was.

SuperDog Moment #17: Realizing there is a bear outside before anyone else.  We had gone mountain biking as a family earlier in the day and Ranger (the dog) ran along with us.  On a sidenote: Did you know Jack Russell Terriers are rated one of the best dogs to run with?  We know it's true, our dog can totally outrun us and go far.  Anyhoo...he was tuckered out from his 6 mile run and catnapping on the couch at about 8:45pm.  I was giving him a belly rub when he jumped off the couch, assumed a tense spread position, had all the hair on his back go up, and gave off the most vicious growl I've ever heard come out of that little body.  My first instinct told me that he smelled a bear.  Yep.  Biker Boy and I went over to the window and we could hear something knocking the garbage can around up the hill.  We had just put the garbage out to be picked up early the next morning (we usually keep it fenced up).  The dog went nutso.  He was barking loud and high and would have charged after the bear if we had let him out.  Biker Boy got a wooden bat and a high powered flashlight and went out. My hero.  It only took shining the light at the bear to scare it off (thank goodness).  The garbage can was bungeed shut, but the bear is strong and had just pried the top open...so at least we didn't have a mess to clean up. And at least the bears aren't aggressive, but they've been frequenting our part of the neighborhood more than ever.  (At least nightly, when we're only use to one or two sightings a year.)  And I still haven't seen a bear here yet.  It was up the hill and in the dark, so the trees blocked it from my view in the safety of the house.  I was going to go out and see the prints in our backyard from a bear that Scooter told me he and his Daddy found, but they got washed away in the rain last night.  I have seen some prints near our compost bin (that is still bearproof) and those were huge!

Oh, I should get some photos in here.  Here's our weekend at the century bike ride.  The boy just loved riding his bike and rode it while we hiked.  Riding through creeks was the best!  I did the hill climb race.  There were about 30 men and 2 women (and I was one).  I think the guy behind me was disgusted that I was riding a road bike with a mountain bike handlebar.  Biker Boy did the century.  He miscalculated his electrolyte intake and cramped up really bad at the end.  He's holding onto the tree in the photo below because he can't get off his bike.  After taking the photo I realized how bad of shape he was in and went over to help him. You could see all the muscles in his legs, they were so tight and sticking out from cramping. Poor guy.  But he's awesome for doing the century!


We had a campsite on the river and the kids had the best time playing in it.


Back to school....so far, so good.  We all still like homeschooling.  The kids love the extra play time. I love spending time with them.  And their Daddy likes that he can come home and play with them and not worry about homework.  Tonight we all went and played tennis together.  We only hit the ball into the neighboring court about 20 times.  The gentleman practicing his serves was very gracious to let the kids run through a bunch of times.

I already did a day in the life of homeschool post here.  I'm not sure that's typical, but it's close.  We're not an unschooling type, it's pretty much school at home.  The teacher in me keeps things pretty scheduled and the kids work well with it.  There's a bunch of flexibility in when we do things, but the kids know to expect certain subjects everyday.

The kids have been busy with science.  I try to give them a little bit everyday and we have lab once a week.  The labs days are their favorite, of course!  We've done an intro to science, worked with the microscope and learned about cells, we had a field trip to the zoo to learn about habitats, and I think there were a few other things in there, but for the life of me I can't remember at this hour (I stay up late to write these and hopefully will post it the next morning).  Tomorrow we'll be studying Protists, Monerans, and Fungi (we're studying the 5 Kingdoms).  I made agar plates in petri dishes and the kids put their dirty fingers, cleaned with soap fingers, and cleaned with gel fingers in them.  We get to examine them today.  Guess who is growing the most bacteria on the dirty finger plate?  Ewwww.  It's a good lesson for washing hands.  Plus we're dissecting mushrooms.  Ewww.  I'm not a fungus fan.


The kids have been loving the famous artist series that we're doing.  They've painted like Picasso.  Scooter did one similar to" Guernica" (top left in the photo below) and Chewy did a self-portrait.  And no, it's not a pig.  Biker Boy thought she painted a pig (and luckily told me so I could correct him before he commented on it to her).  I think the pigtails look a lot like pig ears, that may have been the problem.  The kids also did their own version of "The Starry Night" by Van Gogh with oil pastels on colored construction paper.  They were quite fascinated by the tragic life of Van Gogh.  I knew he had cut off his own ear, but I didn't remember that he had shot himself and that caused his death.  We talked about all of this in a child friendly way, hopefully. They came away with...if they ever feel really sad they need to talk to mommy and daddy so that we can get them help.  Life lessons through art lessons.  They are currently doing oil paintings on canvas in a Van Gogh style.  Well, it's suppose to be a Van Gogh style, but they each have their own style and that's great.  Today we started Jackson Pollock and will paint like him next week. They are really looking forward to doing "Action Painting" and making a splatter painting.  Oh, the bottom left photo in the series is some outer space drawings they did the first week of school.  We traced their hands and feet and they made it look like they were floating out into space.


For our trip through the US States we've been eating a food that is famous in each state.  I haven't taken photos of all of them.  We had hamburgers for CT, crab cakes for Delaware, blueberry muffins for Maine, Smith Island Cake for Maryland, chocolate chip cookies for MA, and tonight we had maple syrup for New Hampshire.  The kids love the food part the best.  If they can't tell you the capital of the state, they'll be able to tell you what they ate.  The Smith Island Cake is the only one I've taken a photo of, it was an epic fail.  I followed a recipe for homemade yellow cake and a chocolate frosting made on the stovetop from someone that did a Smith Island Cake.  Mine wasn't very tasty.  And not to mention that making 10 layers of cake is not fun.  And I ran out of frosting.  I should have used a boxed yellow cake and made buttercream frosting.  Oh well, at least we'll remember the time mommy made a "Maryland cake."  The family made an astonished look while I took a photo, aren't they funny?!  The other photo is of the kids jumping in the rain.  We got a lot of rain (nearly 6 inches!!), but luckily none of the flooding that a lot of the rest of our state and other states have seen.  And my girl is into talking "selfies" lately.  Here's one I just found.  That girl makes me smile.


Oh boy.  I think I have another collage of photos.  Yep.  This has the kids measuring their baby caterpillars the first day they came in the mail.  It's astonishing how much they have grown in 10 days.  We're still waiting for them to cocoon.  And we found an unexpected visitor that came along with our water plant.  (There's a photo of the water plant up above in the science collage.  We were looking at plant cells and I decided to see if we could keep the water plant alive).  The water plant is residing in a large vase full of water.  We have a baby water snail in it now.  The kids like to say that we have 6 new pets, 5 caterpillars and a snail.  Great.  At least we don't have to feed them.  We will have to feed the butterflies, but that won't be for long.  Biker Boy is worried the snail will slither out of the vase and cause havoc on plants.  I told him not to worry.  It'll dry out before it even gets 2 feet.  Oh, the other photos.  That's another one of the kids playing "Van Gogh."  The bottom one is of the skip jack boats the kids made for a state lesson.  They're playing with them in the bathtub and sailing some squinkie toys around (Star Wars dudes and Disney Princesses...they get along quite well).  I was actually able to clean the kitchen while they did that, they were quite occupied. 


And...one more day till the weekend.  I hope everyone has a great weekend!  It should be a quiet one around here, hopefully.  I have a ton of stuff to catch up on.  Biker Boy has had a busy, crazy week at work and has been getting home late everyday.  Hopefully he'll get a chance to recover!  What's happening in your neck of the woods?

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