Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kites and Kite Surfers

We went over to the park to get ourselves a park pass and book a cabin for a vacation week. They are all filled up till fall, but we have a week reserved then, and hopefully my mom and dad will join us...

As we exited the park office, we caught sight of a group of kite surfers on the river. We walked over to the beach to watch, but it was too windy and cold to stay as long as I would have liked.

Headed to the playground, where Mikro, who belies the myth about unsocialized homeschoolers, soon had two new friends. Their dad, M, rigged up a kite, and soon all three boys were flying it. How generous! Unfortunately, Mikro did managed to snag the kite in a tree, but the dads were able to get it down. Major relief! M was so unflappable and kind about the whole thing, and his boys were joyful and sweet. Next weekend there is a nature program on reptiles, at which we may see Mikro's new buddies... I hope so. They're nice!

Nature finds: goose feather, wasp's nest, active mosquito.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Nature Walk

We took a little nature walk to Duck Pond Park and then went to the playground. Along the way, we saw mourning doves, squirrels, juncos, ravens, sea gulls, a grackle, a house fly, a small winged ant, turkey vultures, robins, canada geese and a hawk.

Afterwards, we had a late lunch at the Diner (mmmmm, pea soup!) and then picked up some groceries. By that time, Kev was home and we could go home, which we couldn't earlier, since I managed to lock my keys in the house, and us out. Sometimes memory issues are a major pain. Speaking of which, dampness plus discs, plus arthritis, equals ouch! (Been that way pretty much all month, and my anxiety issues are triggered big time by the anniversary of my accident...) Ah, well. He still had some fun.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nature Class

Today we learned about different types of vegetation growing in different altitudes and conditions. We would have learned more if Mikro had not been in an impossibly bouncy mood, but alas, I think the boy has a touch of spring fever. One huge accomplishment today: he hiked down the steep goat trail behind the nature center for the first time ever today, and gained a huge helping of self-confidence. He's always balked at this spot in the past.

He also got brave and checked out the primitive shelter that was built by participants in the weekend nature center program (which we missed). I was very pleased that he was willing to go inside it, but worried he'd pull it down on himself in his bounciness... Thankfully, that didn't happen!

Later, we looked at birds, played in the sand, and at the playground.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! Spring Has Sprung! Let's Have Fun!

Mikro's easter basket had a paleolithic flavor. Actually, it was pretty much dinosaurs, bugs and birds. No basket involved. He had a tin pail, a plush ladybug backpack, and an enormous egg. The pail was full of small nesting paper mache eggs, which had pom pom insect and easter critters inside them. He got gluten and dairy free chocolate lentils (faux m&m's) from Chocolate Emporium, in little plastic cases shaped like ladybugs and butterflies, which I picked up at CVS.

Inside his ladybug backpack, there was a Go Diego Go reptile rescue egg, which contained a plushie iguana. There was a bird shaped water whistle, a blow up puffer fish, a pair of birds which sing when you shake them, and two volcano eggs that you put in water, which causes the volcano to erupt (or split apart), revealing a tiny dinosaur. He also got a magnetic Tickle Bee game, which he figured out pretty quickly.

We have been reading The Enormous Egg, a children's book in which a hen hatches a triceratops. So the huge paper mache egg from either Hearthsong or Magic Cabin (can't recall which) was just perfect. Especially since I filled it with a triceratops puppet.

And the last thing was a Mushroom Maypole toy, which resembles the bug carousel at the Bronx Zoo which Mikro is obsessed with...

It was a beautiful warm day today, and we spent most of it playing outside. Yesterday was Kev's birthday, and today he flew the RC plane I gave him. It's one of those foam ones, so safe to fly near people and houses... Most of our neighbors were around, and the kids had a blast together. Mikro and E played in the leaves and sandbox. Later he played tag and little kid informal soccer with C and C. We told C & C's dad where to get the planes, and he drove off and got one. The dads played with the planes, with some help from their boys. Both Mikro and C managed to get their planes stuck in a tree, but the daddies managed to get them down by tossing basketballs at the branches... All in all a very nice, fun and friend filled day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kev! Oompah Loompahs And A Nature Walk

Today, Mikro and I took Kevin out to lunch for his birthday. On our walk to the Diner, we saw signs of spring, like tree seed casings, new plant growth, a meadowlark, robins, and newly returned ducks on the Duck Pond. Mikro was fascinated by the ducks, who must be used to handouts, because they got out of the water, came up to us, and then waddled back down the hill for a swim when they figured out we weren't providing them with lunch...

After running all our errands, we came home and watched one of Kevin's favorite movies, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. This was a first for Mikro, and prompted this conversation:

Mikro- What are oompah loompahs?
Kev- Those little orange faced guys.
Mikro- Do they eat people?
Kev- No!
Mikro- Why not? (sounds annoyed).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gramma & Grampa

We spent Good Friday at my parents' house. Mom wanted to dye easter eggs with Mikro, so we set up for that, but he lost interest and I wound up doing all the work. When we were done, we had so much pretty dye left, I didn't want to waste it. My dad donated a Tshirt to the cause, and I did a very impromptu tie dye job on it. Dad loved it, but says he's too old to wear it, so it came home with me, along with all the extra egg dye, and lots of encouragement for selling tie dye Ts on the internet. Heh, my dad has a little hippie in his soul afterall. Gramma & Grampa had the same idea I did for Easter goodies, and showered Mikro with dinosaur stuff. My mom tells me my dad is telling the cashiers at the toy stores about how his grandson has food allergies, and so he's getting toys instead of candy for easter... It is wonderful to see my dad and Mikro playing together. When we got home, an exhausted Mikro proclaimed that maybe we shouldn't go back to gramma & grampa's because it gets him too excited! My dad almost fell off his chair laughing when I relayed the comment. Minutes later, Mikro was asking which dinosaurs he could pack next time we visit them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mantids Hatching!

The mantis egg cases outside have no signs of activity yet, but the one we brought inside became a source of fascination today, as fifty or more tiny praying mantids emerged.

The hatchlings are about the length of one of my fingernails. So far we've given them raisins soaked in water, and found a few tiny bugs under my flowerpots outside. Have not observed them eating, or any signs of fratricide, yet... But according to this website:

Egg masses, collected in September or October and brought into the warm classroom, have been known to hatch in early December of the same year. Then, large numbers of very tiny mantids will suddenly appear and, if not furnished fresh, live food, they will eat each other until only one or a few mantids are left. In the laboratory, the egg mass may be refrigerated for a few weeks, and then incubated at room temperature. Often, no refrigeration appears necessary.

So I guess I know what to expect. They hatched much earlier than anticipated, so I have been caught without a supply of fruit flies to feed them. Ordered some today, but I expect there will be fewer mouths to feed when the food arrives. If it were warmer, I would release them outdoors to fend for themselves, but it is still too cold for that.

More mantis information here:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Kev and I have been married 17 years! (And we've known each other for 28 years! Now that makes me feel old...)

We celebrated early on Saturday with dinner at the lovely Headless Horseman restaurant in Sleepy Hollow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nature Center Scavenger Hunt and Leaves from my Sketchbook

The dinosaur in the preceding sketch had a staring role in a Mikro tale:

When I'm in a rocket ship going to space, I'm gonna wave bye bye to the earth. Then I'm gonna look at the moon through the window. Hey mama, you need this pointy piece for the front and then a tube shaped part for the middle and two triangles for the back. I wanna see all kinds of planets but you know what we gotta watch out for? Meteors! I'm gonna say hello to space. When we land on the moon I'm gonna look at everything on the moon. Mama, why is the moon made of rocks instead of cheese? I wanna bring a toy into the rocket. I'm gonna bring this allosaurus to outer space. This is a friendly allosaurus. This is Omarosa's youngster. She's going to take care of it. Omarosa's going on holiday because she's leaving our house for a little, but she will come back. She will fly back to earth. First she has to go to the beach. Then she goes in the woods and then she goes to the restaurant to get some yummy meat for her young. Then she's going up to the moon. Do you know why Omarosa's coming back? Because she knows that we love her!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homeschool Nature Class: Ornithology

Today, we learned about identifying characteristics of birds, and visited several different habitats. We saw long eared owls in the woods, gulls near the river, and songbirds in the "edge" (the shrubbery between grass and trees).

We also saw the first robins of spring, and several varieties of hawks.
After class, the kids played tag and red rover.

Credit for the owl shot belongs to Christina from our homeschool group, who took the shot with my camera while I was busy Mikro-wrangling.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

Click on the picture to see the animated gif... and watch Mikro get joyful soaked.