24 February 2010

Bright and shiny

To brighten up our suddenly white, white winter wonderland, we have a dozen balls of fluff to take care of. They arrived bright and shiny, right as the storm began to hit. This year I wanted to be sure to have one of the earliest shipments of chicks because I want layers by late fall, instead of the middle of winter. I also wanted the girls to be able to be fully grown to enjoy free-ranging safely before winter and to be able to help me in the garden. My big girls will be helping me "till" the garden this spring as soon as the ground thaws. They will also be charged with eating all of the grubs that have overwintered there so they won't hatch and eat my plants, a chore they have been dreaming about all winter!

The babies mesmerize us with their antics. Suddenly a chick will be in a hurry to get somewhere but halfway through its run, will pause for a nap, eventually toppling over and waking up again.

Some will tunnel into their food and feel they are in heaven. Others aren't content unless they are seated on top of another, or have one foot in the water dish.

We have four of each, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and Silver Laced Wyandottes, all excellent egg layers, all large sized birds (a deterrent to aerial predators when fully grown), all cold hearty and friendly, and hopefully, all girls. It's hard to imagine at this moment, seeing the chicks in their coats of pure fluff and knowing the long road of care that lies ahead for each one of them, but if one does turn out to be a roo, I most likely will have to play the role of Alice's Queen of Hearts ("off with his head!"). At times there can be little room for sympathy on a farm, even an organic one. So let's hope the chicken sexer is profoundly good at his or her profession so we can enjoy the eggs and company of all of our little fluff balls for many years to come.

Savannah kisses a RIR chick that fell asleep in her hands. They often fall asleep as we cradle them - we like to think it's because they're imagining themselves under the warmth of their mother's wing.

21 February 2010

Little of this and that

We've had such a busy schedule lately I never have time to blog about what we're up to. In the homeschooling department, we started a big science kick, robots, volcanoes, exploring our senses, the states of water, and bird form and function.

Here's the papier mache volcano that Savannah made from a toilet paper roll, cardboard, newspaper and the flour and water "glue". She looked at images of real volcanoes before deciding how to paint it in black, brown and red. We mixed some red food coloring and dish soap together along with the baking soda so the volcano's lava would appear red. It looked more pink than red so next time we'll definitely use more food coloring.

For homeschool we do a page of math everyday and since September have completed double-digit addition, double-digit subtraction (now with borrowing), telling time, basic multiplication, and are now working on a unit on money math. Savannah still reads as many as three chapter books a day so I've eased off the reading "for school" and am trying to get her to spend more time outdoors. She always resists but the second she's outside she's in heaven.

Let's face it - some states of water are more fun than others!

I called the elementary school in our district to talk with the administrators about their educational program and attended the open house of a private school near us. I am so disappointed in how little they offer. One school recognizes the importance of reading at different levels so they divide kids into reading groups with two classes having reading groups of just one student where the child is particularly advanced. However, the same school uses one math curriculum for all students in a grade, with no chance for movement up or down, all the kids learn math at the same speed, which is dictated by the slowest learners. The other school lets children work independently in their workbooks during "math" time and children work at their own pace. I noticed one child was on page 3 in her workbook, while another had nearly completed it, but with plenty of wrong answers. I plan to homeschool for a few years mainly because I feel I don't have a choice. I'm so disappointed in the quality of schools and education in our area, both public and private. It helps that Kevin is an engineer and I'm biochemist and writer.

 My box of secret items for our blind senses activity. Savannah correctly guessed everything except for the chopstick, which she wrote down as a pencil.

Savannah touching the secret objects to determine what they are while blind folded.

Writing down her guesses! She got 11 correct out of 12. I fooled her with the chopstick.

19 February 2010


In case you didn't know, pirates are a big thing in our house. This year in Florida, I asked Savannah if she wanted to help me look for shells and she said, no, she would rather spend her time looking for buried treasure. Savannah made friends with a lady who had a metal detector and before long she had herself a buried treasure, a metal tin filled with coins and bath toys and shells. Not sure who might have buried it there, ahem, but she believes it was Captain Kidd's first buried treasure.

So, it was only a matter of time before William crossed the plank from a landlubber to a pirate... Big sister has ensured his place as first mate on her fine vessel and William hopes to be promoted to Apprentice Captain as soon as he gets his sea legs.

Ahoy thar me hardies!

Arrgh! I take me rum with milk!

Savannah's reward after she's finished her schoolwork and chores is getting to play her favorite pirate game on the computer. She plunders ships and finds buried treasures, romances governor's daughters, and gets into tavern fights to obtain information about her captured family. Let me just say that if I'm ever on a ship in the Caribbean, I want the fearless Savannah to be my Captain.

02 February 2010

Nine months baby

For my nine month birthday Daddy let me hold the remote control and I knew just what I wanted to do with it.

Mommy told me the funniest jokes that made me laugh...

and laugh...

I watched the pelicans dive in the ocean and saw a helicopter too.

I played with a cute little boy who was also named William. And saw the dolphin show at the aquarium from above ground and below.

I swam in the pool, soaked in the hot tub, swam in the pool, soaked in the hot tub and swam in the pool again.

Then I watched the sun set with my family in the hammock and had watermelon for dessert. What a great nine month birthday!