Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Day!

Snow, snow, snow. We were blanketed with an unexpected 10 inches of powdery heaven yesterday. This is nearly unheard of here on the Mid-Atlantic coast. The children blissfully played all day, reveling in the joys of winter. The forest looks so beautiful donning a brilliant white frock. I sit watching my rosy cheeked little ones and am once again overcome with gratitude. I really am wealthy beyond measure.

The Snow
Emily Dickenson

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain,-
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil.

On stump and stack and stem,-
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen,-
Then stills it's artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter Walk...

Today on our walk we found the vestiges of seasons past and a glimmer of spring.....The forest still teems with life throughout the winter, the trick is looking closely.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pom-Pom Madness and Haiti.....

So I've become a bit obsessed with making pom-poms this week....It all started with this crafty crow project and snowballed from there. After watching this video on youtube I began my pom-pom adventure. O had to have a doggy and T requested an alien. These little buggers are easy to make and universally loved (at least at my house).

I was listening to NPR's coverage of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti while making these little beasts.  Suddenly, I was stuck by the frivolity of my endeavor. As I sat playing with my yarn millions of people were struggling just to survive. I called in the children and gently broached the subject with them. We have decided to count up are pennies and make a donation to Doctors Without Borders. I also plan on becoming a blood donor for the first time next week. Are any of you helping Haiti? Does anyone have any suggestion for how to make a small difference there? I must say that in light of the crisis in Haiti it seems a bit callous of me to be spending my days creating pom-pom creatures....but hey at least they are cute:)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter Tree Study

This week we are participating in a winter tree study. The children each selected a tree from our yard to study throughout the year. First up is T tree a Kousa dogwood. His tree measured 65 inches high and had a trunk circumference of 3 inches. We found the buds at the tip of each branch. These are the terminal buds. They mark the end of the branches growth for one season and the start of the next season’s growth. We learned that if you move your eye down the branch you can find a thin ring circling it. This is the bud scale scar. This is where last year’s terminal bud grew. The distance between the bud scale scar and the terminal bud is how much this part of the tree grew last year. We also found strange "snail like" objects or eggs on the under side of many branches. We were unable to identify what they were. Does anybody have any idea?

Next up is O's tree a Bloodgood Japanese maple.   Her tree measured 44 inches high and also had a trunk circumference of three inches.  The terminal buds on this tree are double buds. A few dried leaves still clung to her tree.  The children sketched pictures of their trees and did very small bark rubbings. We plan on clipping a small branch from each tree and "forcing" them to bud indoors.  Hopefully this will help to remind us all that spring is just around the corner....I for one and ready for it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, January 15, 2010


We are once again participating in the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Barbara the creator of the outdoor hour challenges has created a wonderful new eBook for this series. This eBook is a unique product that includes not only ten nature study challenges but three months' worth of art and music appreciation with a winter theme. I am excited to be using this book as the children and I discover the beauty and unity of nature, music and art.

This weeks challenge was cattails in winter. We final had a break from the artic blast that has been gripping us for weeks and were able to get outside today! We were able to find a wonderful colony of cattails just a few miles from our home. The children were fascinated by their softness and quickly deduced how their name was derived. The water surrounding the cattails was completely frozen and the leaves and stalks were very brown and brittle. The kids found a cattail that had "popped" and were marveled by the billowy softness of the down like substance. According to Wiki the disintegrating heads are used by some birds to line their nests. The downy material was also used by Native Americans as tinder for starting fires. Native American tribes also used cattail down to line moccasins, provide bedding, diapers, baby powder, and papoose boards. An Indian name for cattails meant, "fruit for papoose’s bed". We also discovered that cattails have a wide variety of parts that are edible to humans. T decided eating cattails would be disgusting but relented by saying he would "eat them if I was lost and starving". We plan on returning to this colony of cattails throughout the year to document their seasonal changes. It sure was nice to get out of the house today and I look forward to more winter adventures and discoveries.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


In the coming weeks T will be learning about the Animal Kingdom.  We have constructed an Animal Kingdom book and will be creating a one page summary for each Phylum.

Today we began studying the Cnidarian Phylum.  The Phylum Cnidaria includes such diverse forms as jellyfish, hydra, sea anemones, and corals.  Cnidarians have two basic body forms, medusa and polyp. Medusae, such as adult jellyfish, are free-swimming or floating. They usually have umbrella-shaped bodies.  Polyps, in contrast, are usually firmly attached. They have tubular bodies; one end is attached to the substrate, and a mouth (usually surrounded by tentacles) is found at the other end.  For our lab this week we studied the life cycle of sea jellies.  Sea Jellies are unique cnidarians because they change body shape throughout their life cycle.  We made models of sea jellies to demonstrate this transformation.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We dabbled in potato printing this morning and O has found her media I believe.  We stamped away with glee and gusto creating some beautiful artwork for our Valentine's Day cards.  O loves to do "projects" and boasted to me today that "she's crafty".....this of course resulted in me singing the Beastie Boys in my head all.morning.long.

She's crafty - she's gets around
She's crafty - she's always down
She's crafty - she's got a gripe
She's crafty - and she's just my type
She's crafty

Monday, January 11, 2010


Memory Monday

Mama.....My Great Grandmother

Today's memory is actually an homage to my great-grandmother Rosa. She was born in 1895 and lived to be just 5 days short of her 104th birthday. She remained healthy and lucid until the very end. If she had not fallen and broken her hip I have no doubt she would have enjoyed a few more years with us. Rosa was an amazing woman who's whole being seemed to emit kindness. Her face was rarely seen without a smile and the warmth of her arms were legendary. To most she was just known as Mama, she mothered 6 of her own and is survived by countless grandchildren. Mama was 83 when I was born and still full of vigor, she was often left in charge of my sister and I. I have fond memories of snuggling into her lap and holding her small wrinkled hands. I often marvel at the events she witness in the century that was her life. She lived through arguable one of the most revolutionary in history. The scientific discoveries and inventions alone are mind shattering.......automobiles, television, radios, computers, walking on the moon. Then there are the social and cultural changes....women getting the right to vote, the rise and fall of communism, the civil rights movement. I honor each moment I had with her and treasure the stories she left me. Tales of her first date in a horse in buggy, getting electric lights in the house and wringing the chicken's neck for the supper pot. We still have her prized biscuit cutter...which has been sadly retired. Thank you Mama for helping to transform me into the woman I am today I can only hope to be half the woman you were!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peeping into My Culinary Past

While visiting my Grandmother's house this weekend I uncovered her recipe book. I gleefully skimmed through the splattered and stained pages. It was like finding buried treasure, each recipe beckoning to be rediscovered and savoured. I marveled over the handwritten family recipes, and circa 1950's clippings. The women of my family left their legacy in these pages: Mama's crab cakes, Mamie's cobbler, Julia's pound cake. Over the coming weeks I plan on celebrating these women and their culinary arts. I will be recreating these treasured recipes and posting them on the blog for us all to enjoy.....Here's to a future full of the past!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Facing the Ugly Truth

Type 1 Diabetes sucks! Seriously I want a vacation...a diabetic vacation. My son T is a T1D. It is a relentless beast we wrestle with daily. Managing this disease requires a dizzying array of accouterments: Monitors, lancets, test strips, needles, alcohol pads, insulin, glucose tabs, and a Glucagon emergency kit. Everyday my son literally fights for his life, we are just one cupcake away from death it seems. NPR had a wonderful segment on T1D the other day and one mother coined my biggest fear perfectly "Every night you go to bed in fear of awakening to the dead-in-bed syndrome." Dead-in -bed......shudder........I nearly crashed the car hearing this phrase. The tears instantly welled up as I was once again battered by the enormity of this responsibility. The goal in managing T1D is to keep your blood sugar as normal as possible. In order to achieve "normalcy" an aggressive insulin regime is necessary; the truth is the better you control your blood sugar the greater the risk of death related hypoglycemia. We walk a razors edge it seems: extended periods of high blood sugar lead to a plethora of health complications but keeping your blood sugar "normal" increases your prevalence for hypoglycemic incidents. Hmm...... instant death or life long health problems....
I was thinking of the future the other day and realized the worry will probably only get worse before it gets better. Right now I have complete control over my sons diet and insulin regime. This will not be the case as he ages. He will no doubt be a typical defiant teenager and rebel against the world...his diabetes included. Every time my teenage son drives away I'll worry about him crashing due to a low. I can't even imagine college....he can't drink like a typical co-ed; I sure hope he realizes this without a hospitalization. I try not to focus on the future to much and instead choose to celebrate each day I have with my amazing son. I am blessed to live in a century and a country that enables me to do this. Parents everywhere past and present have had to watch their young children succumb to this beast. This is not meant to be a pity party. I realize each day how lucky I am my son has a disease that is treatable; it could be so much worse. But it still SUCKS!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Family Bed Haiku

As the night unfolds
Sandwiched between my three sprites
Contentment blossoms.

Where the Magic Happens

This is our learning/play room. This room has been set up to let the children discover and explore independently. We homeschool eclectically using a mix of curricula. For the most part I follow my children's lead and help them unearth their own joys and passions. I believe that an open ended environment and play space is paramount to a good education. The color of this room seems to energizes even the most reluctant homeschooler; it is the recipe for an instant smile!