Saturday, March 31, 2007

Museums & Mountains

 What an incredible day! We spent almost 5 hours at the Denver Museum of Art. It is wonderful! It's so child friendly - lots of hand-on activities. And, this was the weekend of spring break, so they had some extra things going on.

We were excited to see an exhibit of the Impressionists!!! And, I could take photos! Wish I would have taken 2 photos of each as some turned out and some didn't. Above is a Mary Cassatt.

Alexandra was thrilled to see Andy Warhol's soup cans. She LOVES the soup cans and seeing what types of soup he's painted. I love that now she has a picture of herself with the cans!

I loved this photo of Alexandra and the sculpture she made of colored pipe cleaners and straws. They had little paper monkeys you could hang from your creation. Alexandra played here for a long time and could have stayed a lot longer.

Next, we went to the Colorado History Museum. We particularly liked the Native American exhibits as Alexandra is Cherokee (from her dad's side) and is very proud of that fact. We were pretty tired at this point and went pretty quickly through the museum.

Lastly, we went out to Golden, CO for dinner and then drove up the mountain. This first photo was from the parking lot where we ate in CO. The sun was just starting to set behind us.

The highlight of the day was running across a large herd of deer on the mountain! There were at least 30 of them and they were so beautiful. We saw the deer both as we went up and came down the mountain. I took a video of them and will see if I can figure out how to load it.

I will try to post more pictures, especially of the Denver Museum of Art, when I return. I'll leave you with this last photo of the mountain.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Driving to Colorado

Alexandra, my mother-in-law, and I are on vacation now! We drove through Kansas to Colorado today. The weather was great, unlike yesterday.

We stopped at the Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park in Coloardo. This is our 3rd year to take a spring vacation - just the 3 of us. One of the things we love about traveling together, is just stopping whenever and where ever we want to stop.

We also stopped at Burlington's Old Town Museum which was built like a city from the turn of the century. One of my favorite buildings was the barber shop/beauty salon. Can you imagine getting a perm with this contraption???

I also enjoyed the one-room school house. My grandmother used to teach at one in Kansas!

I was also excited to see some tumbleweeds... and... some wild turkeys!!! I know this is not a very good picture, but I got so excited when I saw them that I had to stop the car and get out and take a few photos. There was one male (I think - he was all puffed up) and 5 or 6 others (females?). They were actually going "gobble gobble gobble" and running around. I was just so thrilled!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Driving North

Alexandra and I made it north through Texas and Oklahoma up to mid-Kansas. It was beautiful in Texas and we enjoyed the wildflowers along the road - especially our state flower, the Bluebonnet. If you're not from Texas, you might not know that it is traditional to take your kid's photos in the bluebonnets each spring. I did it faithfully for 3 years, I think, and now I've missed a couple. I'll try to get Alexandra's photo on the way home. I just took these photos from my car after stopping & rolling down the window.

It was rainy and then stormy in OK and KS. In fact, there were tornado warnings following us and my wipers were having problems, but thankfully we passed through before the worst of the weather.

Tomorrow, we're off to Colorado!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nighttime Visitor

I was just locking up for the night and found this little lizard. We usually only see anoles around here. Thanks to several of you for helping to identify this as a gecko. My dd was so excited! (Of course, she knows them from the Geiko commercials.)

Our Backyard Visitors

We've been having so much fun with the little nature visitors in our backyard lately. I've really been having trouble getting photos of the birds. Every time I open the door, they fly away. And, the photos through the glass don't turn out great. But, I thought I'd tell you who's been visiting us these first few weeks of spring.
  • squirrels - although they aren't coming as often as they did when we first put out the feeder
  • mourning doves - these have always enjoyed our waterfall "bird bath" (actually, just the waterfall to our pool)
  • pair of cardinals - I love these and have taken quite a few blurry photos
  • one bluejay, all alone
  • several sparrows - usually a male and female, but sometimes there is a 3rd female
  • a pair of mockingbirds - actually, until a few days ago, there was just one. But now, we have a pair. He stopped singing as much now that there are 2 of them. We'd just watched on Backyard Habitat that mockingbirds like to be on the highest place. Well, one of them (the male?) keeps perching on our backyard neighbor's chimney (I guess it's a chimney). (photo) Sometimes, the other one (female?) is on the roof near him.
  • Butterflies! Especially some Monarchs - and now we have a Monarch caterpillar (photo) who is growing fast! Just yesterday he was itty bitty.

It's a lot of fun learning who visits our backyard. We are leaving dh behind tomorrow and taking off on a vacation! Alexandra and I will be joining my dh's mom for a trip to Colorado - Alexandra's first trip to the mountains! I'm so excited, but a little sad to miss this spring transformation of our yard. I hope all of our little friends stick around! Anyway, I'm taking my laptop and hope to keep everyone up-to-date on our travels.

Alexandra's Wildlife Photos

I gave Alexandra my old digital camera when I got my new one in late February. I've been taking a lot of photos in our backyard, and today Alexandra grabbed hers and went out to shoot some wildlife. I was so impressed as her photo of this dove turned out better than mine! (She's only 6!)

Then, she went and followed a squirrel. It was eating and she said it was chattering for her to go away. Again, I thought she took a great shot!

Later, we went on a photo nature hike - her idea. She took lots of wildflower pictures (some were great!) that we'll post later after we identify them, but I had to post this photo of her mockingbird now. I actually told her it wouldn't turn out and basically "encouraged" her not to take it. Finally, I told her she had to learn with her own mistakes. (Ouch! I guess I'm the one who needs to learn some lessons!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zoo Photos

almost 5-month-old baby Mac

an American Alligator

a chameleon
I've never seen a chameleon looking this colorful!

Alexandra "in" the pirhanna tank (light pink)

cute bunny running loose in the zoo

Alexandra and the Azaleas

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tulip Mania & the Still Life of Van Huysum

Today, I taught our co-op about the incredible Dutch Tulip Mania of the 1600's. I read the book The Great Tulip Trade about this fascinating time. Tulips became so popular, that one bulb could trade for a whole year's salary! Then, there was a big tulip "crash" and the bulbs were worth practically nothing. Some people lost all their money. The girls really enjoyed the book - and the strange story.

I then talked about the Dutch painter Jan Van Huysum. He was an incredible painter of still life - primarily flowers - and they are currently having a large exhibit of his work at our local art museum. A few interesting things: he sometimes dated his paintings with 2 years as he waited for the correct flowers to come into bloom; he wasn't concerned about the correct size of the flowers he painted; and most of his paintings have various "bugs" (flies, butterflies, snails, etc) "hiding" in his painting. I went to the exhibit last week and it was fun to hunt for the bugs.

Lastly, we tried our own still life painting of a bouquet. I had bought a flower bunch from our grocery store, but I thought they looked really bad when I tried to arrange them. So, my friend Ms. S helped me out and I think we both discovered that we were better at flower arranging than we thought. I think it turned out very pretty! Looks pretty enough to give as a gift!

Painting flowers was a little harder than I thought, but I once again enjoyed the process and am ready to try it again some time! That's my bouquet above - I took some creative license and the flowers aren't exactly like the ones in our arrangement. There are things I would change... but maybe next time...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tadpoles: 1 month

We've had the tadpoles now about 1 month. They have grown so much! You can compare their size to the penny in the photo. They still do not have hind legs, but one of them is starting to get a bump on one side. You can still see "into" them and see what looks like a frog body. Also, their eyes are beautiful! They look like an "x" around the center of the eye - very cool. So far, they aren't much trouble, either. And, all 4 are doing well!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yellow & Pink

This week, we read a great book called Yellow & Pink by William Steig. The book is about two small wooden figures who were both wondering aloud about where they came from.

Pink decides they must have been created - after all, they are very intricate and he cannot imagine that they could have "just happened."

Yellow, on the other hand, believes that they came about quite by accident. Maybe over millions of years things just happened - a branch broke off a tree, rolled down a hill, got struck by lightning, etc - and they just "happened." And, this didn't just happen once, but at least twice - to create both Yellow and Pink.

I'll leave the ending as a surprise, but it's a great book to dispel the myth that there is not a creator. All of Creation points to God, the Almighty Creator, and this is a great way to share that Truth with our children!

Green Stink Bug

We found this great stink bug on our glass door yesterday. I took 3 pictures - 2 were blurry but this one turned out great! We're really trying to learn to identify insects (and birds and wildflowers). :-) It's fun to be able to name them instead of saying, "Look at that green bug!" Isn't he pretty???

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Circulatory System

I taught our co-op today and we learned about the circulatory system. Mostly we followed these PSO Lessons. When we got the stethoscopes out, we even listened to our dog's heart. We also dissected a heart (well, the 2 younger girls went to play). And, we made candy blood like we'd made back in September.

Monet & the Water Lillies

At our co-op a few weeks ago, my friend taught about Monet, watecolors, and the water lillies. She brought some artificial water lillies and we placed them in our pool and took our canvases outside to paint. What a great idea!!! And, it was a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

a girl, her dog, and her new smile


I just found this incredible! We were at a class yesterday about animal migrations and the teacher brought out this HUGE baleen plate! I had no idea they were this big! It made me realize how enormous whales are!

Baleen are keratin plates and are an adaption for filter feeding in baleen whales. A whale can have several HUNDRED of these plates in their mouth!

If you go to this site and scroll down to "Baleen", you can learn more about these amazingly large plates. (Photo above is a close up which shows how one end is frayed and it felt kind of like stiff hair)

Sam's Science books

Alexandra and I LOVE the Sam's Science books by Kate Rowan. We checked out every book our library has available, and have read each of them many times. We just wanted to pass on our recommendation!
  • I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow
  • I Know Where My Food Goes
  • I Know How We Fight Germs
  • I Know Why I Brush My Teeth

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Another New Smile

Lost the other tooth tonight! I'll try to get a better photo tomorrow... it's 10 pm and Alexandra is still up since she'd been working at pulling her tooth since 8:30.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A New Smile...

...means a visit from the Tooth Fairy tonight...

King Alfred and the Cakes

Lately, I've been leaning more towards a Charlotte Mason type of education. So, we've dictated a few times in the past few weeks. I'm wanting to make it a daily practice.

Today, I started reading from Fifty Famous Stories Retold. I read the first story today, which was a great length - just 3 pages. I loved Alexandra's dictation! She was even using some exact words, like "ill-tempered woman." :-)

Here's her story (I used a tape recorder then played it back to type it up.):

King Alfred and the Cakes

One day, King Alfred had a big army. Then, suddenly a bigger army came. They, the other army besides King Alfred’s, was winning.

And so, the next day he was in the woodcutter’s house and she said, “I must go out. Would you watch my cakes for me?”

He said, “Yes, ma’m.”

And, she went. He also did not know how he could watch these any more. He stopped thinking about the cakes and started thinking about how he could get his army back.

Later, when the woodcutter came back, she was furious! I once heard that she even hit him by a stick, but I find it very hard to believe - such an ill-tempered lady.

I do not know whether he had supper or no supper, but I do know that she said, “You lazy! You just want supper! You don’t want a job. You just want to have supper!”

So, I’m not sure if he got sent to his room without one single bite of supper or got one big, yummy supper.

The End

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Parade

When will it start???

I think I need some more beads and candy!
(this isn't a "float and band" parade, it's all about catching beads and candy)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Purple Irises

I don't know the name of this iris, but it grows in our yard and I think it's beautiful. It's a lot different than the irises we had growing up in KS and OK.
I remember my first garden... I was probably about 8 or 9 and my mom divided the 3 sides to a large bay window into 3 gardens - one for her, one for my sister, and one for me. Then, she let us take care of our own garden. I don't remember what either one of the other gardens held, but I grew purple irises. I loved them.
When we moved to TX, I brought some irises from my husband's great aunt's garden (she is quite the gardener!). Well, in 3 years, I had 1 bloom. So, I finally dug them up. I haven't seen that kind of iris blooming around here anyway. I miss my "old" irises, but I think the kind we have now are pretty, too. And, it does have a purple center, my favorite color, and a reminder of my purple irises.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bird Watching

Today was Alexandra's last day of spring break camp. I spent about 4.5 hours walking through a park, taking photos, and reading (although it was a little chilly). We're going to be studying birds soon and I want to learn the names of birds in our area, and help Alexandra learn them, too. I had lots of fun watching them and taking photos of them and Alexandra & I looked up their names tonight. (Let me know if I got any of them wrong!)

2 blue bellied whistling ducks and a ring billed gull

mourning dove

(they were doing some kind of mating dance or
perhaps a territorial "show" -
they kept hopping around and mirroring each other )
the state bird of our state, Texas!

house sparrow - female

great egret

european starling

blue jay

blue bellied whistling ducks in tree
(I was so surprised to see DUCKS in a TREE!)
american coots
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