Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Outdoor Hour Winter Challenge #2 Winter Tree, Part 2

As you remember in our Winter Tree challenge we cut both a plum and peach twig. A couple of days ago, we noticed buds swelling and starting to burst forth. Furthermore, we saw some that looked pinkish on the plum twig.

Isabelle, who has been insanely interested in any and all planting or vegetation assignments, had to check the twigs out herself.

Today, ta-da! We have blossoms! They smell so good, like honey, but they are very little. Matthew was excited to point out all the little leaves coming out and smell the blossoms. We plan to keep watching and see how big the leaves can get.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our big news

Now I know that you all will have lots of questions, and I don't have the answers, because Phil and I are batting them around the house right now. All I can tell you is that Phil got the position. He will be working with his division's soldiers that are hurt. He will help the soldiers and their families make sure they have what they need. The position will last a year. The whole time he will still be attached to the unit he is with now. This will require us moving to San Antonio. By April 15th. They will give us a 1 bedroom apartment. That is the extent of what I know. Stay tuned as our life changes even more...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Impromptu BBQ

Friday the guys had the day off from work. That afternoon the neighbor brought his 2 boys over to play. Next thing I knew we were all BBQ-ing and the neighbors where running around the house for 4 hours. Matthew was completely worn out from all the hard playing by time they left. But he loved every minute. It's funny because these boys' dad is in Phil's unit as a cook and the guy directly across the street is the civilian mechanic for the tanks in Phil's unit. Anyway, since I had no idea anyone was coming over, I'm glad I keep a reasonably tidy house, so I didn't have to be embarrassed when they showed up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dallas trip

We went to Dallas this Sunday. We went to meet a friend and took the opportunity to go to the Dallas World Aquarium. It was very expensive, but soooo cool. We took over 200 photos. It was so hard to choose 20 or less to show. And the photos don't do the amazing animals and aquarium justice.

We loved the anteater. First thing we really saw when we walked in.

Then we turned turned around and realized we were in the rainforest.

You start to the top and slowly circle down 3 stories, maybe 4. We ended up under the water you see there.

There were birds and monkeys everywhere, but our favorite was the sloth. I walked right under him, nothing but leaves between us. He was slow, but in a deliberate way, not so slow you can't see me moving, way.

Hey big fellow, you can just stay right there.

They had several areas with bats. So cool to watch them fly around and move.

These mata mata turtles look so weird! I probably would miss it in the wild.

They had a tank of stingrays. They were so cool to watch. There was stingrays in other spots, but this was the only place I could get good photos.

Manatee! They are so big, it was amazing.

I loved the huge catfish. The whole tank was filled with huge fish.

I think my favorite was the coral reefs they had set up from 12 different countries. They had amazing sea anemones and fish and other life.

Kiss the fish, Kiss it! Yes, my husband was really saying that and Matthew was declining. The fish looked like it wanted a fish kiss.

They had several types of sea dragons. If I could have, they would have come home with me. I could have watched them for hours.

I don't know their name, but Phil says they are garden eels. In any case, they'd come up out of the sand and then hide again. You'd never know they were there.

This frog kept trying to climb up to Matthew's finger. They had all different colors of poison dart frogs.

They had another area where you walk through an arched walkway made of glass under an aquarium. Huge sharks and turtles swim by and over you. This sawfish loved attention and swam slow enough I could get his picture. I have a photo with a hammerhead headed straight for the boys.

This loggerhead sea turtle was massive!

We weren't sure what they were, but they looked like beautiful buzzards to us.

The last stop was the penguins. I love their feet! They are Black-footed penguins from the tip of South Africa, where the weather is similar to Dallas. Who would have thought it!

Hope you enjoyed a peek into our afternoon adventure. It was super hard to get great shots through water, plexiglass, and wire, but I think we pulled out some decent shots.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good thoughts

Just a quick note to hold Phil in your thoughts as he interviews for a new position Tuesday. I'm only asking for good thoughts, because I only want him to get the position if it's best for the family. It's been such a whirlwind the last 6 months, that I've lost any grip on what the master plan is, if I ever had a grip on it! So, good thoughts and maybe to a different direction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Storytime love

We went to the 3rd storytime of the week! Today they played balloon toss, read 3 books and...

a patriotic streamer in honor of President's Day Monday!

Unfortunately, we lost a sticker before we got far and had to go back for a replacement.

Here's what he's made the last 3 weeks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A whole lotta monkey business going on

For some reason, once he had those skates strapped on, I noticed how tall and grownup he really has gotten. It takes my breath away.


During a tiny skate break, he drank the yogurt milkshake and managed to spray himself!

For the first time since Monday, he is sitting with something other then balloons while he watches his allotted TV time.

Today he decided to use his arms and tiger blanket, to swing off of Phil's legs.

And down he goes.

The cars all lined up to race.

Then they started crashing and the house looked like a toy car factory had blown up. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Today went to the 3rd area library and discovered that although 2 of them are connected, they have very different story times. So we've been to 2 story times so far and are thinking about going for a 3rd tomorrow. Today we Matthew's 2nd Valentine's Day party, thanks to story time! And our candy bowl was still full of Halloween candy...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh boy...

These beauties arrived at 8:42 last night.

One small boy is making up every excuse under the sun to wear them bright and early this morning. "But they help me reach my breakfast." and "They help me reach so I can wash hands." Life is permanently changed and he's even fallen twice. Life is good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day wrap-up

In the afternoon, Matthew and I did make 100% homemade sugar cookies, yum! Matthew's rolling and cutting skills have gotten super good. And he even listened when I said not to eat the dough because it had eggs in it. He didn't try once.

As surprise for the hard working Daddy, homemade heart pepperoni pizza was waiting when he walked in the door (as well as warm cookies.)

And as a bonus for you, a photo from Matthew dancing with ribbons at storytime today. Hope you all are having a good week so far!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day and 500th post

Matthew woke up to balloons (been begging for those for months), a tiny box of chocolate and bubble gun from Mom and Dad (the 2 bubble guns from last summer died) and a V-day package from Mamaw and Poppa that had new cars, pencils, erasers, dragonfly eye and candy! He was beside himself! He actually said, "That was so thoughtful of you!" and "Thank you so much Mommy!"

Couldn't even brush his teeth this morning without a balloon.

Ahhh, 3rd time was a charm, we've got a winner! So far, Matthew and I have had a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Outdoor Hour Winter Challenge #2 Winter Tree

This week Matthew and I have been working on the Winter Tree challenge. We took it in several parts because of the weather and the little guys mood.

We started by picking the peach tree in the backyard. How do we know it's a peach tree (since we've only been here 3 months?)

The ground is absolutely covered with peach pits around it! It doesn't look very healthy, so we're crossing fingers in the spring it surprises us and in the summer we have fruit.

Matthew and I read Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Comstock, pgs 618-622. This is the chapter on trees. Then Matthew and I started to answer the questions on pg 624.

These are our answers:
1. Our tree's trunk divides into branches.
2. There is branches because "twigs help it grow" according to Matthew.
3. The twigs at the end of branches are smooth or fine.
4. The bark on the branches are a lighter gray then the bark on the tree.
5. The ends of the twigs are reddish, which is different from the branches.

Then the book asks you to look at a log, stump or slab. Well, we didn't have access to that, so instead we looked at the branch that Matthew managed to crack right off the peach tree. See, I told you it wasn't so healthy!

6. Well, if there was heartwood in this branch, it was hard to see from the uneven break. It's possible that some of this was sapwood.
7. We could see rings of growth and talked about how some of them were thicker then others, which I believe means the difference in water and good minerals in different years.
8. Since we didn't have a stump, we don't know how old the tree is, but we counted at least 8 rings I believe.

We cut a twig off the peach tree and the plum tree out front. I believe we did this 5 days ago and so far nothing from either of them.

9. The buds are sortof a greyish-white color.
10. The buds look sortof of downy, but really some of them seem a little dried up. I don't know if that's because the super cold weather sort of froze them or if this is just the way they are.
11. The buds alternate all the way up the twig.
12. We were able to see the scar from last years leaves quite plainly. (I was really amazed, I have never studied a twig so close!)
13. This question is to be continued when (or if) the buds bud.

The last question concerns what birds we can see visiting in the tree. It's in the back corner of the yard, so we can't see what birds visit it as often. We have caught a wren, ring necked dove and several varieties of sparrows in it. It suggests that we tie beef fat to it to attract more, but since we are already feeding birds nearby, we'll pass for now. :)

On the Handbook of Nature Study blog, Barb also recommends looking for seeds from different trees. As some of our older posts suggest, we are already working on that. We have, I believe, 4 different kinds of acorns now, along with nuts, pods, and seeds from other trees and bushes. She also suggests studying and comparing different twigs. We haven't compared the peach and plum twig yet, but they definitely are different in color and design.

Update: We have a new post updating the twigs process here.