Thursday, September 29, 2011

FIAR: Salamander Room

Salamander diorama (the head is by the yellow leaf)

Last week we rowed The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. W said this was his favorite Five in a Row book and he really enjoyed reading it to his brother as well. We went on a hike in our woods looking for salamanders but were unsuccessful. Rain put a damper (quite literally) on our plans to try again. So after reading a FIAR message board post I was inspired to go to the tackle section at Walmart and found realistic looking fake ones for cheap. If you do this please, please take out the hooks before giving to your kids! They were thrilled with their creepy crawly little guy and found some leaves, ferns, rocks and sticks to make him feel at home. And I was thrilled that I didn't have to touch a real salamander. ;)

W enjoyed reading this website on Salamanders and Newts and seeing the photos, and in the past when Jacob finds them in our yard when working he has shown the kids so he was excited to see some that looked "just like those". The Salamander Room was also featured as a Reading Rainbow book.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

By the Shores of Silver Lake

W and I began reading By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder last week. I was somewhat reluctant to start it with him since he is in "first grade" and this book is the turning point in the series when Laura begins to grow up very quickly. He thought the Garth Williams cover looked exciting and he recently finished On the Banks of Plum Creek, so he wanted to read the next one. I have read it many times, but it really hit me (again) anyway and of course I was in tears by the end of chapter two. W just wanted me to keep reading as he was absorbed in the story. We are currently on chapter nine. So far W said his favorite part was when they arrived at the new camp and found Uncle Henry and their cousins Charley and Louisa there, since it was such a surprise to meet more of the characters from the Big Woods again.

I always felt touched by Laura being "eyes" for her blind sister Mary, but reading the amazingly detailed descriptions of all of the Little House books, I realize how that may have actually helped Laura really see things in depth herself and later use that gift as a literary tool. It is pretty well known that her daughter Rose Wilder Lane had a hand in heavily editing the books, but I have read many of Rose's other works and although she definitely had a gift for storytelling, it just wasn't the same as her mother's descriptions. 

"Mary" and "Laura"

Last week our Little House book club met for the first time this fall, and we have some new members along with friends from last year and it was a really nice time. The kids and Moms made corn husk dolls and chatted about the books. We dried some corn husks on a low temperature in the oven (took about an hour) and soaked them again the morning of the book club so they would bend easily to work with. It is something we would do again, we used wooden doll heads to attach since they were a bit easier to draw on, but all the dolls came out pretty cute.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SOTW: Early Writing

W using a clay "tablet". He preferred the picture writing of the Egyptian Heiroglyphs.

In our last post I touched upon the Egyptian Heiroglyphics and Sumerian Cunieform we are learning about through The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times. In addition to W translating my written message on paper, we decided to try it with modeling clay last week on one of the rainy days. 

Writing was not easy!

Our chaotic everything table. :) We do lessons here and eat every meal here, it's pretty much the center of our home since our kitchen is attached to the living room. This is pretty much what it looks like during weekdays on "normal homeschool days" (when we don't have co-ops or friends over). You may notice our math workbox at the far end and the bucket of crayons in the center. The red binder has W's history stuff. C is standing up for some reason but he always is curious about W's projects and this one was fun for him too.

Today W and I listened to the last few chapters on the CD as a review (now we are finished with Chapter 7, Hammurabi's Code). W thought many of the rules that Hammurabi set were not fair (such as killing people over stealing an animal). I love my peace-loving little guy. :) We have a couple of word finder puzzles from the Story of the World activity book which he will work on this week. I may take them along for W on Friday when C has a doctor's appointment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lego Pyramid

Last week we dove into Egypt with The Story of the World, so W helped make a step pyramid with legos. He wanted it to be all red, and he built the base. I had to help with the inside support bricks so it would last more than an hour, but then he clicked in the ones around the top. It was complete with an unlucky mini-figure "mummy", and a yellow "gold" brick for his treasure inside.

poor lego dude!

W added a cat on top to guard his pyramid.

As part of our Egyptian study, The Story of the World gives an alphabet for Egyptian Heiroglyphics and Sumerian Cunieform, so I wrote a message for W to translate and write in English. He had fun with that, and I gained respect for ancient Egyptian scholars! It is no easy task to write out words.

Lately we have been reading 1-2 chapters at a sitting, doing a simple narration to go along with his project notebook, and during the week we listen to a few chapters on CD again while coloring supplement pages to go along with the chapters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FIAR: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

Last week W chose to row How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. We had done this one last year and recently the geography co-op we're in read Marjorie Priceman's other book How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the USA, so he had a renewed interest in this theme. Not to mention there is pie in the title, and it is apple season here, so he knew he was guaranteed an opportunity to help make a pie! He helped measure ingredients, squeeze lemon juice on our apples as I cut them, stir, and put the pie bird in.

W's pie

We utilized our GeoPuzzles and maps for this one to locate all of the places mentioned in the book. I printed out a sequence- matching card game created by Karen Prior at We laminated and cut out the cards so we can reuse it and keep it in W's FIAR notebook. It came out great and inspired me to use the laminator more often. I had to chuckle when reading Pioneer Woman's blog post about her new-found obsession with her laminator. It is a common sickness with homeschooling Moms around the world. ;)

See the pretty cards? We made a NH card with the blank one for "Home". He had fun putting all of the modes of transporation, food ingredients, and places in the right order. 

This week we are rowing W's "favorite Five in a Row book so far" according to him: Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. Wish us luck in finding a salamander or newt in the woods this week. He is on the hunt!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lessons from Little House

Our family enjoys watching Little House on the Prairie, and in an episode we watched last Friday, the kids had a conversation which I found rang so true. Mary was trying to force her little sister Carrie (around age 3) to work on her alphabet, while Carrie wanted to draw pictures. It is important for children to learn things at their own pace, and this was a reminder to me also not to push W too much with writing when it's not what he wants to do, since he has a lot of time to work on that and boys of this age are somewhat notorious for not wanting to write. 

Here's the transcript of that particular scene from Little House (first season, For the Love of Johnny Johnson episode):

Mary: Here, Carrie. Let's make letters. (proceeds to start writing on the slate)
Carrie: Pictures.
Mary: No, Carrie, we're going to make letters.
Carrie: Pictures.
Mary: Letters.
Carrie: Pictures!
Mary: Letters!
Carrie: Pictures!
Laura: Let her draw! Why do you always have to spoil everything, anyway?
Mary: I don't know what you're talking about.
Laura: You do too. We always used to have fun walking home, and now all you do is show off playing "teacher."
Mary: That's silly.

(continues into an argument and Laura storms off)...

I know W will master the lower case alphabet someday, but he is 6 and many times would rather play outside or do other projects, so sometimes I need to let it go. :) I want to encourage him to write some letters or postcards more often to use that as practice time instead of forcing the workbooks every day.

We have our first Little House book club meeting of the fall on Friday, and we'll be attempting to make some corn cob dolls. We are starting the book By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder this week. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Science Leaves Out

Kids have lots of questions about the nature of the world, and this is good.  However, I think our answers to these questions often miss the mark.  Consider that quintessential chestnut, "Why is the sky blue?"  Google for an answer and you will find physical explanations involving atmospheric molecules, light scattering, and wavelengths of light.  Let's focus on the color aspect, because here the explanation given to children and adults is about the same.  The color model is that white light, such as that given by the Sun, is actually a bundle of waves, where each color is a different wavelength.

I remember reading such an explanation in one of W's "science for kids" books and feeling uneasy.  I did not like the matter-of-fact approach and authoritative tone, as if the question and answer belonged to the same category of question as "What is the state capital of Massachusetts?".  It seemed to me that something important was left out of the answer.

One source of my uneasiness has to do with how much explanatory power we can ascribe to physical models at all and how we interpret the reality of those models.  I could write at great length here, but I'll admit this is mostly metaphysical quibbling.  Given the success of physics in getting men to the Moon and back, I am willing to put aside those questions... at least until the boys are a little older.

But even if we take the physics at face value, I still have uneasiness.  Doess the "color is really just a wavelength of electromagentic radiation" answer really do full justice to the phenomenon of color?

Recently I came across a thought experiment that articulates my unease: Mary's Room.  The idea is to conjure someone who has never seen color because she has been captive in a colorless room her whole life.  Now give her perfect knowledge of the physics involving color, atmosphere, and anything else you like.  The question is this: when she is released from the room and looks up at the sky for the first time, will she learn anything new about color?

Of course she will.  She will learn what color looks like.  And here we come to what it is that physics necessarily leaves out: experience.  Because of this, we should not pretend that physical science provides complete explanations for the nature of things.

Let's get back to the child asking why the sky is blue.  Maybe "color is a wavelength" needs to be part of our answer.  But maybe part of our answer also needs to be "color is a particular experience".  Which is a small child really reaching for: the mechanics of light waves, or wonderment at why an experience is just this experience and not that experience.

As a philosopher might say, perhaps whatever answer we give should end with a semi-colon instead of a period.

Friday, September 16, 2011

C update: Pre-Pre-K Homeschool

C is often the sidekick in our posts but here is an update just for him. He will turn 3 in a few short months! That is really hard for me to believe, he will always be my little miracle baby to me.  He woke up congested this morning and his little stuffy voice is so cute, but I seriously don't want to catch this bug! He is still not potty trained and is not quite ready for it, he is still in cloth diapers at home. C naps most afternoons for an hour or two. We have a vision appointment in a couple of weeks for him, as the doctor recommended it after seeing W, so it will be good to get him checked out. He loves eating apples and bananas. The photo is him eating an apple from the tree in our yard. He is not a fan of veggies so that is always hit or miss.

His vocabulary is growing every day and he communicates more clearly than a few months ago. He benefits from the many stories that his brother reads to him, and has been exposed to Five in a Row books on his own level. He reads many of the Before FIAR books although we do not have the workbook for that. His favorite books are board books for Goodnight Moon  by Margaret Wise Brown and Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli (which he calls "Baby Soup"). :) He loves painting, drawing, and doing puzzles, playing with his t-ball set outside, and swinging on the swing set. He already loves imaginative play with his brother with legos and toy cars.

C has a deep love of trains and anything with wheels, he has been fascinated when we took him on train rides and to the museum. He tags along on our field trips and co-ops. He plays with W’s math-u-see blocks or duplos while W does math, and already he can count to twenty when counting with manipulatives. He is working on his ABC’s too, but does not recognize the symbols for most of the letters/numbers so far.  

He loves animals, especially our cat and is learning to pet him the direction that his fur goes. Luckily our cat Luddy is very patient with him, and he seems to enjoy the attention despite his expression in the photo. ;)

C loves Mickey Mouse, Curious George, and Dinosaur Train. Occasionally he will watch a Thomas and Friends dvd. I find that waiting as long as possible for TV makes the day flow easier, such as when I am making dinner that is a good time for a couple of shows. I usually will let them each pick one; 90% of the time lately C wants Mickey. I like popping in a Disney movie or musical like The Sound of Music on a rainy day after we do lessons, but since he naps most afternoons he usually sees the first 30 minutes. 

W and C don’t always get along and certainly have their moments like any siblings, but they are best friends and I think W really loves having the company of his little brother each day. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

more of what we're using this year

Literature & Unit Studies

Five in a Row is our main lit curriculum which touches on a lot of the other subjects as well. We are rowing some books from Volume 1 again as well as using Volumes 2 & 3, and "rowing" unofficial fiar-like books that also work well for the same method. We recently started a local co-op built around this. We will meet monthly and read one of the same books and the kids will share their projects, lapbooks or experiences from these weeks at our meetings. 

We read chapter books as a read aloud, and W reads independently as well. W has read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and some other unit studies we are planning for this year include By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Samuel Eaton’s Day by Kate Waters/ a Pilgrim unit for this fall, a Flat Stanley unit (postcard/writing projects), Astronomy science tie in with the book The Night Sky/ with a project on Constellations, Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, and this will get us up through fall/winter hopefully. We may work in another A.A. Milne book but I will give W choices.

Grammar, Spelling & Writing
For Grammar I like Ruth Heller’s World of Language series including Kites Sail High (Verbs), Many Luscious Lollipops (Adjectives) and Merry-Go-Round (Nouns). We have a variety of workbooks and still haven’t found the perfect fit for writing. W needs to get into the habit of writing more letters; he will write notes or the occasional thank-you card, but I think that would help his penmanship and spelling. In Pennsylvania we picked up a Pentime workbook which is what Amish schools use to teach writing, but it is almost a painful activity for him right now. He also has Hooked On Spelling workbooks which he breezes through but I am not sure how much he really gets out of them. We have an Usborne Spelling Puzzles book (Meet the Ogs) which he likes as it has an entertaining approach.

Spiritual Education
Our family lists three things we were thankful for each day at supper time; this is a nice way to reflect on the day and share our experiences with each other. W started church school again on Sunday so he was happy to see his church friends again and he learned about Moses “when he was grown up” this week. At least he is starting to remember bits and pieces to tell me what they’re working on. I will be the Sunday School teacher for the younger group in October, so I will have to look at the curriculum soon and start planning some activities. The Story of the World which we are using for history also covers some Biblical stories.


Along with nature journaling, several times a week W and C paint in a variety of mediums (watercolors, acrylics, fingerpaints), use markers, colored pencils, crayons, and sometimes make things with modeling clay/playdough. W loved his visit to the MFA in the spring so I would like to expose him to more museums gradually, hopefully we’ll get to one this year.

This year I want to make it more of a regular part of our week, so we have Muzzy French, and the book First Thousand Words in French along with some other supplement books. We also have a couple of Spanish resources. It may be better to focus on French but I do want to touch on some basic words in Spanish as well.

W has boundless energy and loves to play outside and especially swinging on the swing set. He is working on his coordination but I think his new glasses have helped him and will continue to do so as his sight gets corrected. We have yoga dvds for the wintertime months which we will focus on when we can’t get outside as much, and I am exploring the options for a karate class as I think it would help W with focusing better and also be really fun for him.

Home Economics/ Life Skills

W enjoys cooking with me and helps with cracking eggs, stirring, and measuring things. Basically anything that doesn’t involve direct oven use or sharp knives. We have some kid cookbooks with simple recipes. He was actively involved in the gardening process and helped pick the carrots and lettuce that he planted seeds for. We haven’t implemented any chore based allowance system but that is something to think about now that he is learning about money. W did some simple sewing last year with our book club group, so if he expressed more interest the winter might be a good time to work on these kinds of crafts.

Next time we'll focus on C and pre-pre-k. :) I promise that post won't be this long!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What we're using this year (part 1)

It’s been a while since I did a post on the curriculum we’re using (besides FIAR of course). This year first grade was a bit more intimidating, although I know it shouldn’t be. We sent our first letter of intent to homeschool in July. That felt very liberating, but after that the need to plan for this year set in. We are not using a box curriculum and haven't yet, so planning each subject was a wee bit overwhelming at first. Now that we are a couple of weeks into our routines I am seeing what works and what can wait a while. I find that with W just leaving books that I want him to read around the house will work almost by osmosis, since he loves reading most anything. I will break this post into a few posts by subjects.

W is using Math-U-See Alpha this year, which he started last spring after finishing their Primer, but took a break on over the summer. As we started our first week he got a bit frustrated (mainly the writing part) so next summer we may keep doing some worksheets more often. He loves math but sometimes it is a chore to sit down to do workbook pages, but he loves the Math-U-See blocks and even little C can join him in building towers and bridges with them. W finished up Chapter 3 and is starting Chapter 4 this week. We didn’t watch the DVD lesson overview for 3 (How I’ve missed Steve!) We will catch up on that this week. As Math supplements W has Kumon workbooks on Geometry and Counting Money, as well as the board game Sum Swamp.

First grade is traditionally supposed to be when you learn about how your body works. You know, organs, muscles, skeleton, etc. Unfortunately, W is totally freaked out by anything like this right now, so we will ease into that gradually. He prefers to focus on Astronomy, so for now that is the plan. W loves the book A Child’s Introduction to The Night Sky by Michael Driscoll. He also likes doing experiments, and has a mini weather station that his Grandpa gave him set up on the deck to check the wind speed, temperature and rainfall totals. W is also keeping a nature journal and I encourage him to observe things outside to notice all the details of the local wildlife and changing seasons. I want to work in a few more trips to the Aquarium in this year as well, especially to see some feeding times and shows for the animals like the penguins and sea lions.

Initially I resisted buying a history curriculum, as W learns a lot by reading books, but something drew me to the Story of the World. I am drawn to history. Yes, even census records and some dry facts, but I know most people aren’t. W isn’t necessarily drawn to it unless he understands the context, the story that it tells. This curriculum is Classical in approach but it is very accessible. We went ahead and ordered The Story of the World with the workbook for Volume 1 (Ancient Civilizations) and the book on CD. We have so far made an archeology dig in the sandbox, learned about the Fertile Crescent and are working on the Egyptians this week. One of the projects is mummifying a chicken, but I don’t think I’m ready for that one yet! I love the workbook, and we are keeping a notebook with printouts of the pages along with a journal for narration and W’s illustrations along the way. Adults can brush up on their history knowledge with this book as well; I am excited about introducing timelines to W! :)

We are members in a local geography co-op which just started up last week. The co-op will travel the United States through literature so it is a great way of learning of the different regions of our country. We also have 2 GeoPuzzles for the US & Canada, and Europe. W likes them as puzzles so it is kind of a sneaky way to work in learning about other places while he’s at it! They are tactile maps and many of the European puzzle pieces are the same shapes as the countries. I am planning to get some of the other GeoPuzzles for Christmas this year. W also subscribes to Highlights’ “Which Way USA?” as a supplement.

Coming soon: books and curricula we like for literature, grammar, writing, spelling, spiritual development, art, languages, exercise, an overview of unit studies we're planning for this fall/winter, and a C update.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cape Cod Memories

C hopes a wave will fill his bucket

The boys always enjoy going to their Grandma's house on Cape Cod. They recently got to visit while all their cousins were there as well. We fit in a trip to the beach at the knob, a visit downtown while a car show was going on, and a hike at the Ashumet holly wildlife sanctuary. We are looking forward to our next visit later this month. 

the holly trees are quite impressive

my inquisitive boy

the swallow society barn

a rare Franklinia blossom at the holly preserve

one of the many paths

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paw Sox Game

The Paws bears and our family

Last Monday, we went to the last regular season game of the season for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island. They were in first place so they are headed into the playoffs, and the team has been doing really well so lots of fans turned out for the game. This is pretty far for us to travel, but I had won tickets at a concert and we had spent the weekend on Cape Cod so going from there made more sense.

The boys had a great time when we went to the Fisher Cats game for their homeschool night a few months ago, so we were hoping for good behavior this time around. C played with Zoodles on my phone for a while which helped to keep him entertained. Snacks helped too. They didn't do as much in between innings compared to the Fisher Cats, but at the end all the players were announced and they threw balls up to the crowd. (edit: fyi, these were soft stuffed baseballs, not the real thing! ;)) A lady in the crowd was nice enough to share two extras she had gotten with our little guys. Minor league games are a great way to introduce kids to going to baseball games!  

This time we sat behind the net and got a pretty good view.

watching the game

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some Pig!

W finished up Charlotte's Web by E.B. White as a Unit study last week, so to celebrate this weekend we took a day drip to our local county fair. He was very excited to see the pigs, and we also saw sheep, goats, chickens, a turken (who knew?), a calf, a horse show, and rabbits. W and C were enchanted by the enormous pumpkins. 

Pigs feast at the fair

what a great pumpkin! Over 1100 lbs.

my little lamb!

We would like to get involved in a local 4-H chapter this year so hopefully next year W can participate and submit some of his home grown veggies and crafts. W did a couple of rides at the midway, and C went on the merry go round with me. 

For Charlotte's Web activities, W composed an acrostic poem about Wilbur using the printable from This was a great excuse to learn about adjectives and make his grammar lesson fun as the book is so full of delightful adjectives. He colored in Wilbur with a white crayon with touches of pink since in the book he is described as white with pink ears and a pink snout. He also made a Pig Book. I had been afraid that the ending would be too sad for W to handle. He was moved by the story, but I was the one tearing up as we finished the last chapters. W took turns reading chapters independently and aloud with me for a family read. In many parts he laughed out loud and seeing the book fresh through his eyes brought me back to my days of reading it when I was a kid.

On Friday night we watched the 1973 cartoon movie which surprised me with the details and actual quotes from the book. Maybe sometime I will add the more recent Dakota Fanning version on our Netflix queue. We will also be looking for some other works by E.B. White at the library next trip. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

FIAR: They Were Strong and Good

This week is a shorter week due to our Labor Day holiday which was spent at the Pawtucket Red Sox game in RI. We also met for our first Geography themed homeschool Co-op this week so there went half of Wednesday. :) Therefore, I chose a book which didn't have as many accompanying activities for this “four” in a row week. 

They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson is a simplistic tale of the narrator’s parents and grandparents. These include a Scottish Sea Captain, a Dutch girl who lived in NJ, and a Southern preacher. His father fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, so this book is a gentle way to introduce this time period. 

The lovely ink illustrations outshine the story, but there is plenty of food for thought. The book was written in 1940, so it does come across as dated. If the same kind of story were written in 2011, I would hope that the overall theme would be the ancestors written about were human. That would make it easier for any generation to relate to the people who came before us. We all may like to believe our ancestors were perfect beings, but they dealt with similar struggles in their everyday lives as we do today. It is important to keep that in mind instead of idolizing people. This can be said for historical figures, leaders and celebrities as well. /tangent

As Genealogy is a hobby of mine, we have done some lessons to look at census records and photos of W’s own ancestors on both sides of the family, and made a family tree. We talked about the countries that his own ancestors came from including Ireland, Italy, England, Scotland, and Germany. We have the Europe GeoPuzzle so that is useful for learning the shapes of the countries and locating them on a map. He also learned about one of his own Civil War ancestors who was from New Hampshire. W thought it was cool that he was a farmer and lived in the same state that we do.

Resources for They Were Strong and Good can be found at Homeschool Share and googling printables for the states and occupations mentioned. Check out to build your own family tree online, or print out a basic chart for your child to fill out.

Next week begins our monthly Five in a Row Co-op with some other homeschooling families. We are excited to share ideas and choose a story for September and October that other kids will “row” along with us. This will be our initial meeting and information session for parents who want to look at the curriculum materials before jumping in.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

FIAR: Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney was our first Five in a Row book this fall. W made a lap book which he will keep in a binder together with other FIAR related stuff, so once he has enough material he can make a table of contents to find it. Miss Rumphius traveled the world to places where the snow never melted (like the Alps), deserts where she rode a camel, and ultimately she found a home by the sea in Maine. We used maps and geography puzzles to locate the places she went. 

Ms. Cooney’s artwork is just beautiful in this book. She also illustrated Ox-Cart Man which we are familiar with (and it is set in NH). For many of the printable resources we used for the lapbook this week, check out Homeschool Share.

Our garden is winding down, but W decided to plant lupine seeds next year so we will add it to a list for a garden plan for the spring. He also learned about different ways that seeds travel. He got to see that up close as well during a visit to the Ashumet Holly Preserve on Cape Cod this past weekend, as he had a few traveling seeds stuck to his sock.

Miss Rumphius plants many Lupine seeds to make the world more beautiful much to the delight of future generations of children. This book asks a thoughtful question to children and adults alike, what will you do in your life to make the world more beautiful?

excerpt from W's lapbook

This would definitely make the world more beautiful!  It took him all week to think of this, but it is sweet for sure. Future mission trips, perchance?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Watching the garden grow

W picks a ripe tomato

This has been an experiment year in our garden, with some successes and some failures, but overall it was a fun experience. The tomatoes have done quite well, and that was our main "money crop" that we were depending on so we were pretty happy about that. A big surprise was how much lettuce we got. We used this method which helped the lettuce grow back for several cuttings. It was especially delicious as baby lettuce. W planted seeds so we were not sure how much would actually sprout, and beyond that we had seen a deer in our yard shortly before planting so I had been afraid they would find our little garden again. 

The crops that did poorly this year included swiss chard (which may have been watered too much in the raised bed), and sadly, the pumpkin patch which has blossomed several times but seems sickly. The pepper plants and eggplant also produced nothing. I think maybe spacing them out a bit more and planting earlier next year would help. We got a couple of jalapenos, but no sweet peppers. So the bulk of our harvest has been lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and a variety of herbs (lemon thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary). Next year I hope we will plant the herb garden on the upper yard. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Animal Adventures

A couple weeks ago we checked out a presentation on animals at our favorite library. Animal Adventures is a small zoo in Bolton, MA, and we have been to a couple of their presentations in the past and they always do a great job safely presenting various animals to the kids and answering questions. And getting peed on by animals. Ew! :) The kids had a great time. Here are some of the lovely creatures we met.

A very cute de-skunked skunk

An albino hedgehog. It was prickly. And yes, it has reddish pink freaky eyes.

My brave boys pet this alligator. eep!