Friday, September 19, 2008

The Gem Show

At the last minute, I decided to take the boys to the Gem & Mineral show downtown. It was a rainy stormy day and I thought we could use a field trip. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be part of the show, but we stumbled into a room full of fossils. Here are a couple of Saber-toothed tiger skulls.

Luke and Sam pose in front of the dinosaur skeleton displays.

My camera cannot truly capture how vibrant this is.

Again, here's a case full of beautiful minerals, but I could not photograph them
to capture their splendor.

Luke discovers that panning for gold is not as easy as it seems.

The boys enjoyed Mr. Bones walking around the show...kinda like that T-rex in Night at the Museum! I admit that I don't know much about geology and I think we may have a rabbit trail to follow!

The state of my garden

Here's one of my pumpkin flowers. At the time I took this picture, I was still hopeful that I would see at least one little pumpkin. When I say "little" pumpkin, I mean those miniature pumpkins that come in the bag with the ornamental gourds. Well, I watched this plant grow from tiny seedlings and I was impressed with how much it grew. I even saw a tiny green little pumpkin and I got excited about having that one pumpkin, but some critter made off with it. Well, I think a critter took it because it disappeared.

Here are my strawberries. I was delighted to see the bigger one ripening slowly to its red color, but I never got to see it turn completely red because once again a critter stole it. So, what have I learned from this season's pathetic little garden?? Well, for one thing, I've learned that no matter how vigilant I am about watching my plants as soon as I turn my back, a chipmunk or a squirrel will steal everything. I literally photographed those strawberries and had them stolen the very same hour.

I've learned that even if you prop your grape tomato plants up with old knitting needles, the rainstorms will win and both your knitting needles and tomato plants will be destroyed.

I've learned that I have to start the seeds indoors sooner. I planted everything too late.

I've learned that just when you see a small bounty of cherry peppers (that are still green), they will be harvested by some animal that has easy access to your deck.

I've learned that two unripe strawberries is not enough for home-made jam anyway. I'm sure the squirrel or chipmunk needed them for winter storage.

The carrots never really got going. Everyday that I looked in the pot I was sure that I saw tiny footprints in there.

I planted several sunflower seeds just hoping I'd get one or two mammoth flowers, but I'm sure the stellar's jays and chickadees had something to do with that too.

So, next year, I will abandon the container gardening pots on the deck and create something critter proof.

On a happy note, I did discover that I have wild strawberry plants that I had never noticed before. I'm sure that I hadn't noticed them before because at the time I couldn't identify their leaf pattern. I suppose they're called alpine strawberries and I managed to find a few of the miniscule berries before they were all eaten by the squirrels, chipmunks, birds and maybe even a bear. Who knows??

I won't give up even though gardening at my altitude has many challenges.

As for my jam plan? I broke down and bought $27 worth of organic raspberries and made freezer jam last week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Day of School

We began our new school year this past Monday on September 8th. I had actually thought that I would start the day after Labor day, but my dad was visiting during the week and it just wasn't the right time to get going and I admit that I wasn't ready yet. We started off gently as we began the day with read alouds. Both boys sat on either side of me as we eased into a new school year. I read Toy Boat, The Snow Bears and a favorite from last Fall, Christopher's Harvest Time. Christopher's Harvest Times helps us to close the door on Summer and to welcome the Autumn. It's an absolutely enchanting read and I'm glad that Luke likes it almost as much as last year. We read more books about the changing seasons today. For Sammy, we enjoyed The Busy Little Squirrel about one little squirrel that's in a hurry to gather everything he needs to rest for the winter. The colorful pages show big beautiful pumpkins and falling oak leaves. There is a sense of urgency for the little squirrel to be prepared for the coming winter. We've had Woody, Hazel and Little Pip for a while, but haven't read it until now. It's another imaginative nature story by Elsa Beskow. Luke read It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to Sammy.
We're also easing back into our other subjects and I'm still thinking a lot about how I want to handle this Fall semester especially with the new baby coming at the end of November. I admit that I'm not nearly as prepared as I usually am especially with all the transition coming. Luke is reviewing a lot of math skills right now and I'm trying to make our days have a gentle rhythm. Luke still enjoys eating his lunch up in his room while listening to a book on CD. Right now, he's listening to Alice in Wonderland. So far, he says it's a strange book. (I know. I tried to read Alice when I was younger). He's put a few books on CD on hold at the library and he has dedicated reading time in the afternoons. I hope that he will learn to fall in love with curling up with a good book. I noticed this past summer that he wasn't as interested in reading as usual. I hope that now that we're back to our learning schedule he'll get excited about reading again. We've checked out By the Shores of Silver Lake to listen to in the car so we can all enjoy Little House. I'm hoping to transition Luke to a more independent style of learning this year as I know that I'm going to be really busy in the next few months and we have a lot to accomplish. I want to him to grow more responsible for his own work while having me still being fully available to him.
Our classroom is mostly ready, but we haven't moved the books yet and Paul picked up a desk off of Craig's List for Luke so that he can have his own dedicated space instead of kitchen table. He just needs to sand it down and stain it to clean it up. Paul's biggest complaint last year was that there were books everywhere! The new classroom should take care of that! Well, it's a start.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How can he be 9 already?

Despite having a Star Wars theme for Luke's birthday party, he opted for the knights and dragons on his cake.

It's hard to find 9 places for candles with all those dragons in the way!

Here's my mom giving Luke a birthday hug.

Uncle Markie, Cecilia and Grand Dad having a good time at Luke's party.

The pinata view!

I told you there was a Star Wars theme! I think Luke needs to "trust his feelings" and use the force!

Cecilia goes a bit easy on Darth Vader.

Luke just looking cute!

Here's Luke opening his birthday presents.

Luke, Mateo, Sammy, Cecilia and Ella sort of pose for a picture.
Luke's cousins, Mike and Daniel had just left and unfortunately are not pictured.
I really don't understand how my oldest boy can be 9 already. How did that happen?? I feel sad that it's starting to be a blur. It's true that time goes so fast and if you blink you could miss it all. Half my time with him is already gone. I know, I know I sound like a glass-half-empty kind of person, but in this case it's true. This time last year, he still had his baby front teeth and now he's looking so much like a big boy. Happy birthday to my darling Luke!!! Don't grow up so fast.

On another note, I have bake my last birthday cake this summer!!!