Friday, January 30, 2009

bird feeders

We read about Winter birds this morning for our science Friday learning. The kids wanted to look up their favorite birds in our bird guide, so we read about cardinals, eagles, blue birds, and gold finches. Nova's favorite part was learning about the bird calls. He laughed and laughed when Clover read that the gold finch says "potato chip, potato chip". After reading for awhile, we stood by our window and watched the birds as they cleaned out our front porch bird feeders. They were just eating and eating! I told the kids that some people believe that when birds eat and eat and eat like that - it means that snow is coming. They got so excited! Clover kept saying that she believed in that idea because birds know more about weather than we do, and they are probably getting ready for a big snow storm by eating plenty of food! So, to help out the birds, we made some peanut butter pinecone bird feeders.
They turned out very nicely. My kitchen was covered in peanut butter-y birdseed afterwards, but we had such a good time making the feeders. The boys didn't want to go out in the icy wind to hang them, so Clover came out with me and we hung them all over the plum tree. When we got back inside, the boys watched from the window as some sparrows tried out their treats. They took turns helping me to make soup and watching the birds until Tim got home. Clover drew some birds in her science lesson book and wrote their names above their pictures and their calls below. She did such a nice job!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Charlotte's new hair

Clover's best loved doll, Charlotte, has been in need of hair repair for a really, really long time. She had also lost her eye ball about two months ago, and I gave up on repairing that when I realized that I needed a doll needle to make it match the other eye. So.... on Tuesday we went to visit my lovely (talented!) friend Colleen and her two children. Colleen was going to show me how to work on doll hair and even though I doubted my talents in the doll hair department, everything turned out great! I'm so excited to show off the new Charlotte. Here is her "before" picture - missing one eye & with hair in an utter uproar:
The first thing that Colleen showed me how to do was rip out the old hair with a seam ripper. This was rather disturbing for Clover, but Colleen's daughter brought down some of her dolls and told Clover their names and some things about their hair or their outfits. Thank goodness for distraction during times like this:
Colleen sewed the eye back on in about two minutes. It was so wonderful to see Charlotte with both of her eyes again! She was looking better every second! While we watched, Colleen finger knitted a long strand of soft brown yarn for Charlotte's hair. When a long enough string was knitted, she began to sew the hair "cap" in place. Her daughter Ruth and Clover took turns helping with the finger knitting while she stitched and I tried to keep the boys from running up and down the stairs.
When it was time for us to go home, I felt confident about finishing Charlotte's hair. I was full of gratitude for our sweet visit and for my lesson in doll hair. I worked on it some after the kids went to bed on Tuesday night, and then as often as possible during the day on Wednesday. The boys were really interested in watching. We are learning the letter N this week, and they both definitely know that "needle" starts with "N".
After midnight on Wednesday, Tim helped with the last few stitches, and Clover woke up this morning to Charlotte's full "cap" of hair. She was so excited!! She let all of the boys admire it, and then got right to work on weaving in the long pieces for braids.
Before meeting for our Thursday playgroup, I braided Charlotte's hair into two very cute braids. She is looking good!!! Nova wanted to admire her, and Clover was sweet enough to share. He sat on the counter holding her for a really long time.

Monday, January 26, 2009


We had homeschool co-op this morning. I was in charge of planning, so I sprang out of bed at 7:30 (early for me, these days), and rushed around getting kids fed and dressed, last minute things together, and the van packed. We were out the door by 9:15 which is remarkable considering the fact that I even had an extra kid with me - Clover's best friend Autumne.

When we got to the nature preserve, Clover and Autumne helped me get all of my supplies into the room where we meet. It was nice to have a couple of minutes to look at everything, and arrange it in a convenient way.

Everyone was ready to start at 10:00. We sang the Circle song, lit the candle, and talked about Winter backyard birds. Some of the kids had a little anecdote to tell about birds (or squirrels in birdfeeders!), and then they each told what their favorite bird was. I read the book _Wild Birds_ by Joanne Ryder. It is really more of a poem in picture book form. We have been reading it every Winter since Clover was small because it is so sweet, and so appropriate for a wide range of ages. I think that all of the kids really enjoyed it.

After sitting still for the story, we sang a song and did some movements to go with it - "The North wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, and what will the Robin do then? Poor thing! He'll sit in the barn to keep himself warm, and hide his head under his wing. Poor thing, poor thing, poor thing..." The kids looked so cute hiding their heads under their "wings".

For craft time, we made bird feeders! I brought several sharp needles with dental floss already threaded onto them (for the older kids) and some embroidery needles with yarn (for the younger ones), and we made strings of popcorn and O-shaped cereal. The little ones mostly strung cereal, but some tried working with the popcorn - not an easy thing to stab with a blunt needle.

Some of the older kids made patterns with the popcorn and cereal. Clover made the comment that she would like to skip the nature hike and just make birdfeeders for the rest of the day.

When everyone was done with the craft, we had lunch time and clean-up, and then we set off on our hike. The kids ran all the way up and down the trail to their favorite spot - the great big hill. They checked on Tandy's house (the elf house that we built during our last co-op meeting), and did some repairs on his roof. Autumne and Clover found a fallen pine tree and gathered a bag of pinecones for more birdfeeder projects.

My kids were so anxious to get home and hang their birdfeeders in the plum tree. We had to do a few errands first (including the return of Autumne to her family), but we were home in plenty of time to hang the feeders.

I can't wait to watch all of the birds eat their breakfast tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ice sculptures

Last night, I poured water into all sorts of different containers and left them on the porch to freeze. I put a little paint into some of them so that we could have a few pieces of colored ice. The kids were ecstatic when they saw all of that ice this morning. They were twice as ecstatic when I told them what we were going to do with the ice - make ice sculptures!!! We chose a shady spot in the front yard, so that the kids could look at the sculpture from the playroom window. I brought a pan of warm water and the salt shaker (for sticking the ice pieces together), and we were ready to play. We dumped all of the pieces of ice onto the frosty grass: At first, everyone wanted to make their own sculpture, but the boys quickly decided that it would be more fun to work together. Clover still wanted to do her own thing, so I worked with Indigo, Willow, and Nova on an ice palace while Clover built the palace barn and duck pond. We built a nice walkway from the palace to the barn, so that the little ice faeries would have a path.

By the time we were done with our palace and walkway and farmyard, the sun was beginning to shine on our shady spot a bit. It made the ice sparkly and shiny, and (much to my relief) no one got too worried about the fact that our work was definitely going to melt to some extent.

We had so much fun watching our sculpture change a little at a time all day long. We read _The Story of the Snow Children_ by Sibylle Von Olfers, and imagined that Poppy might visit our palace. The kids are all hoping that the snow children will visit our house again soon. They love snow play!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nova is 3!!!

What an amazing day... Nova is three years old, we got enough snow to play in, we have a new President, and my best loved dog who has been gone since Saturday morning came home this afternoon. I am so happy. And so amazed. How does one grow from this:
to this: in just three short years? Happy Birthday my little snow angel...
We had such a fun day. The kids bundled up and ran outside in swirling snow before eight o'clock this morning. They ran all over the yard tasting the snow, making snow angels, and sledding on the little backyard hill.

They came inside after a couple of hours for hot cocoa and lots of books by the fire. We had some lesson time, too, since we have skipped math for the past couple of days. Clover wrote about the snow, drew some pictures, and did math equations. Indigo & Willow are working on the letter M. They both drew pictures in their main lesson books. This is Willow's drawing of M-shaped mountains under the full moon. Nova drew a picture with his new crayon pebbles from Stubby Pencil Studios, an online craft "store". He was not at all interested in having pictures taking of his lovely drawing, but he did let me take a picture of the crayons. I am so in love with these things!!! They are perfect for small hands, have beautiful colors, and seem really sturdy. After lesson time, the kids bundled back up and went outside for more snowy fun. Clover brought Charlotte with her this time, and they checked on the chickens. Those poor hens were so confused by the snow.

When I felt like everyone was probably soaking wet and frozen, I boiled maple syrup on the stove and called the kids in for maple snow candy. Yum!
Clover gave Nova the adorable gift that she made for him. It is a lovely little felt cardinal stuffed with wool and lavendar. We have a beautiful cardinal family in our plum tree each year. The babies fly away, but the mother and father cardinal make their home here. During the Winter we see them often because they are dependent on our bird feeders to some extent. When they started to be around regularly, Nova started to claim the male cardinal as his own bird. We all started calling the bird "Nova's cardinal" and watching him and his sweet wife every morning. We have had so much fun thinking up stories about the cardinals, and making sure that they have plenty of food, and talking about how wonderful it must be to fly around showing off those awesome red feathers. So, Clover's gift was very well-received and very loved, and I am so proud of her for making this sweet little bird.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Getting Ready

I couldn't stop laughing this morning when I realized that I was baking bread and making a phone call to reserve milk (from the farm where we get milk) with a snow forecast on the brain. Are people from the South born with the bread & milk instinct? When I was a kid, bare shelves where bread once sat & bare refrigerators completely devoid of milk made the local news!! Ha! We hardly ever get snow. Its exciting. People want their staples. The funny part is that my bread day is always Monday and my milk day is usually Sunday, but I couldn't make it to the farm yesterday because we had a party for Nova who will be THREE YEARS OLD tomorrow! I hope that we get atleast a couple of inches. My kids are so excited. They played outside a bunch today. It was that weird warm-ish, very damp air that sometimes comes before snow. When the temperature started to drop late in the afternoon, they came inside for hot cocoa. We watched the little birds who were also getting ready for snow time - bulking up at the birdfeeders.
Nova spent lots of time watching his new special little friend, too. My sister gave him a beta fish for his birthday, and he loves it so much. He named it Bobby, and there is not a more cared for fish in all the world.
Clover snuggled up with Solstice while working on a birthay gift for Nova. I am strictly forbidden to post pictures of the gift until tomorrow, but it is so sweet and so thoughtful!!! I cannot wait to show it off.