Tuesday, April 30, 2013

topsy-turvy spring

Sun-kissed and wind-blown.  Dirty hands and tired muscles.  Fire and sunshine and heat lightning.  The last patch of melting snow and 87 degrees (Fahrenheit) within days of each other.  Growing independence and tender young hatchlings and shoots. 

Last night at 2am, our dog, Carly, whined and whined to go out.  Reluctant and grumbling, I got up to let her out.  Bleary eyed, I saw flashes and pulses of light on the horizon.  Stepping out, T-shirt and barefoot, the wind blew away my reluctance, an owl hooted nearby, the moon and stars shone, and along the western and southern horizon low-lying clouds were dancing with heat lightning.  I gulped deep breaths of spring's goodness and changeability, and thanked Carly for her middle of the night wake-up call.

Monday, April 29, 2013

field trippin'

On Friday, on our way to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for a homeschool field trip we made a random stop along the river to eat oranges and float leaf 'boats' for the fairies downstream.

When we got to the reserve, Ayla and I joined Sylvia's group to do some hiking and pond-sample collecting and identification, while Camille's group donned chest waders to walk out into the pond and played rendezvous games.  The games included hatchet and cast iron skillet tossing, rabbit-sticks, and cat-and-mouse (a game that involves two players standing on stumps and holding either end of a rope and trying to tug and trick the other one into falling off).

At the pond we saw a turtle, muskrat, birds, and various water critters.
painted turtle and Canada goose

 The pond collections included these attractive dragonfly nymphs, as well as a tadpole, caddisfly larvae (which is an indicator of pond health, as they are picky about their environment), horsefly larvae, snails, water beetles, red bloodworms, etc.
 We used charts to identify what we collected before returning them to the pond.
 While Sylvia was rinsing out nets she fell in up to her waist, soaking her pants, and filling her boots with water.  I had dry clothes back at the visitor center, but her friend helped her feel better by holding her hand the whole way back while she hiked barefoot in soaking corduroys.
When we rejoined Camille's group, we found out that Camille had tipped forward while wearing the waders and similarly soaked herself.  I always expect these things to happen to my kids, and had plenty of back-up gear.

At the end of the day, Camille showed Sylvia the rendezvous games, and we were the last folks to leave.  My very favorite photo of the day is shown on the previous post about joyful parenting.  Camille can throw a hatchet like a pioneer. 
skillet tossing and cat-and-mouse
 I overheard one of the other kids saying, "I don't like science."  When he was reminded that he'd been doing hands-on science all day, he enthusiastically changed his mind.  "Oh, yeah."  Engagement in learning is a good thing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

rails to trails

We live near a bike path that is a retired and converted railroad line.  It links to over a hundred miles of scenic, continuous bike trails through the Wisconsin countryside.  Today, we took our first real ride of the year, about 8 miles.  I'm so proud of Sylvia.  Last year she would have still been in the trailer beside Ayla, and this year she pedaled the whole way.  
 Go, Sylvie!

 beaver dam


 Our destination, four miles out and four miles back, was a stop for ice cream and a playground, but we may have stopped at other places along the way to soak up some of the intermittent sunshine.
Mmmmmm, other day of momentum.  I'll take it and be grateful.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I love it when a week starts out with some momentum.  We seem to have coasted right on through Wednesday with four full days of friendship and fresh air.  Aaaaah, I needed that!
 lifelong friends


 on the Merrimac ferry ~ pics by Camille

 co-op shoppers, bulk aisle

 Olbrich gardens conservatory

 photo above and below by Camille

 gymnastics class

 homeward bound at the end of a full day

 springtime bike maintenance

 collecting eggs


 Camille mixing up gluten-free vegetarian tamale pie for the slow cooker

 old-school playground

 in progress

 my garden helpers

 planting peas

 rich compost

It's a good kind of tired at the end of each day.