Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Here's an interesting article on homeschooling in NYC:


Gardening and Growing Tadpoles

Our garden is growing like crazy. We started everything from seeds except the strawberry plants, and I'm just happy that things are sprouting. :) We have a total of 40 square feet. Six of the square feet have to remain fallow for the big vining plants, but pretty much everything else is full. I have three squares that I can put something in and I just need to decide what I want to put in there. So far we're growing pole beans, cucumbers, acorn squash, yellow summer squash, zucchini, romaine, spinach, mesclun, onion, garlic, broccoli, carrots, and peas. The peas are in pots on our deck because I ran out of room, and the strawberry plants are in front of our deck. I also have four big pots that are roughly a square foot and at least a foot deep, so I'll probably get some tomato and pepper transplants for those.

Here's a Shutterfly album with all the pictures:


Our other big (new) project is tadpole-raising. Mary had mentioned in an email that she and Charlotte had found tons of tadpoles in the pond at Patton Park, so yesterday afternoon we headed there to see if we could catch any. We only had Colwyn's little bug jar, but after a half hour, Doug managed to get one. We brought it home and got it settled in a makeshift home (a giant tupperware container). This morning I took the kids to PetCo and we got a much bigger terrarium and some floating lilypads. I'll add some rocks for it to perch on as well, but it doesn't have legs yet. When I went to get more pond water (tap water is bad for tadpoles, oops), I ended up catching another one quite easily with the net I had brought along. So we have two tadpoles, and Colwyn has decided that he wants to call them both Bob. These things are HUGE.. their bodies are at least an inch long and their tails are another two inches or so.

Right now we're feeding them boiled lettuce but as they grow, we'll have to get them little buggies. When they're grown, we'll release them back into the pond where we got them. It'll be a nice lesson in biology, animal husbandry, and environmental responsibilty. I'm really looking forward to finding out what kind of frogs these things will turn into.. I think it'll be neat looking them up with Colwyn in our field guide.

Here's a Shutterfly album with pictures of the tadpole:


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Sunday, May 20, 2007


Here's a picture of Colwyn's recent artwork. He drew a few people, two ladders, and made some letters (C, O, L, and X). My budding artist. :) I have to say that I feel quite vindicated that he's discovered an interest in writing letters without me pushing him at all and making it into an unpleasant experience. I guess providing a print-rich environment has worked really well for us. All these little victories give me confidence that we can do this for the long haul.

So our homeschooling group has kind of collapsed. We still get together with the two families who were in it, and between that and our other playgroup, the kids aren't lacking for socialization at all. For example, last week we went shopping on Monday, to Bonkers on Tuesday ourselves, to the park on Wednesday with Calvin and Miles, to Bonkers on Thursday with Thomas and Aidan, and had a family day on Friday with mom and Kristine. Today we met Charlotte at the Touch-a-Truck event (more on that in my other blog) and we all went out to lunch after. Next week we'll do playgroup at a farm and probably have two one-on-one playdates.

I am working on forming a new homeschooling group for young homeschoolers in this area. I think the group I joined was a little too specific in who it accepted, so I'll try being open to people who aren't absolutely positive they're going to homeschool. My goal for right now is for the boys to form friendships, and to be honest, it's not a huge deal if their friends end up going to public school. But if we can eventually set up co-ops and stuff, that would be awesome. I'm hoping that people who are considering homeschooling their kids will see that there are fun activities and a good support system and decide to go through with it.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two BIG Milestones

I'm so sorry that it's been so long since I posted last. However, I have two great things to brag about.

First: Colwyn has started drawing recognizable things. I am SO pleased. We do lots of art projects but not necessarily a lot drawing. However, the other day I saw him fiddling around with a travel Magnadoodle. I went to peek and saw that he had drawn a circle with a long line coming down from it, and two lines coming out horizontally from the bottom of that. Woohoo! Colwyn's first person! So when I exclaimed joyously at his genius, what did he do? He erased it. :) He'll draw people like that consistently, and if I ask him if they need anything else, he'll draw hair, eyes, and a mouth. Sooo cute. He also drew a fence the other day.. a bunch of horizontal and vertical lines crossing each other.

The other thing that, traditionally speaking, I should be excited about, is that Colwyn now says the ABCs correctly. Previously he would say, "H, I, Kel, O, M, N, O, P, etc." But today he said it all correctly. I'm pleased that he picked it up, especially as I hadn't spent more than a few minutes here and there helping him. Honestly, what's the big deal if he doesn't know which order the letters come in right now? It's not like I'm asking him to alphabetize his books or anything. :)

We picked up some new books at the library today, which of course means returning the old ones. I'm always sad to see books that have become our favorites go back. Of course, our favorites always get checked out again (this week, Colwyn asked for Gruffalo, and I picked up two of Jane Yolen's "How Do Dinosaurs.." books) but I still feel oddly sad. I guess I just find it so amazingly cute when the boys get excited about books, and when Colwyn memorizes parts of them and reads along with us. For instance, Colwyn's favorite out of the last batch was Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs. There's a part that he loved reading to us, and he incorporated it into his pretend play a lot. It goes, "'I'm going to cut you up into little pirate sausages and put you on the barbeque and eat you up, with much too much ketchup!' he added." I could have cried at his cuteness every time he said the "he added" part.

But we did get some good new books this time. I chose a Maurice Sendak book, In the Night Kitchen, which I found to be a little strange, but Colwyn loved. I also picked up a book of Jack Prelutsky's poems, Monday's Trolls. My 5th grade reading teacher loved Jack Prelutsky and I still love his writing. What else.. oh, we really liked David Shannon's Duck On a Bike.

When I was at the Hallmark store getting a card for Mom, I saw a paperback version of Blueberries for Sal and picked it up. Later I was talking to Doug and Kristine about the book. Doug didn't realize what book I was referring to right away, so Kristine teased him about how he didn't know what Blueberries for Sal was. So I told her that I had said to him a few months ago that we really needed to get some Robert McCloskey books for the kids, and he had no idea what I was talking about. So Kristine responded, "Who's Robert McCloskey?" Ack. That totally underscored my point about making sure we tell the kids who wrote each book as we read it. Colwyn now tells us that Dan Yaccarino is his favorite author (which, to be honest, is probably still jsut because he likes saying Yaccarino, though we did get another of his books from the library last time, Unlovable.

Anyway, enough about books. We've been working a LOT in the garden, too. But, you know, it's half past midnight.. maybe I'll write about that tomorrow.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Beltaine!

Today is Beltaine for us pagans, so we decided to do some work in the garden. We went to the grocery store first thing this morning to get milk and sushi for lunch, and also picked up two potted plants for our altar, a hanging plant for the deck, a pack of marigolds, and some broccoli seeds.

When we got home, we turned the compost, then started gathering sticks for a fairy house. I figured we'd dedicate one square foot to the Fey, so we made a ring of sticks, with an opening for a doorway. I still don't know what we'll use for a roof (if we make one at all). Here are the boys helping:

And this is the fairy house after I planted the marigolds and Colwyn added some straw for a bed:

I'd like to try to find a way to rig up one of our wind chimes nearby. It would also be nice to add a dish for water or milk.. I'll have to see if I have one small enough. After we finished the fairy house, we planted broccoli seeds in two of the squares. In another two weeks, I'll plant another square or two with broccoli, and another one with carrots. One of the benefits of SFG is staggering your plantings so you have more of a continuous harvest, rather than everything maturing all at once.

The seeds that we started a week ago are doing pretty well. All of the spinach has sprouted, but still nothing on the peas. Here are the boys watering them:

Our big 4'x8' bed is only half full of soil.. I need to wait for Doug to help me mix up another batch of the special mix. When that's done, I can plant some more salad greens, and in another week or so I can plant the rest of the seeds.

The boys have been enjoying the warm weather and the opportunity to play with the sand table. Here's a quick picture of them getting all sandy:

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