Saturday, May 05, 2012

April Showers Brings Caterpillars!

April ~ what to say? It's been a busy month, teacher workshops, Easter, storms, kittens, birds, caterpillars, the zoo and HOT weather!

Can you believe how warm it's getting already?  Boy oh boy if this a precursor to this summer, perhaps I need to look into times shares in Alaska!  The month started with quite a few storms and some really good rain, but we didn't have anything too terrible in our little corner of the world.

A little of what I've been reading this month:  
I read Beyond the Blue by Leslie Gould - a beautiful heartfelt story of love and compassion, heartbreak and triumph in international adoption.

I also read The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand - a little different from the Christian novels I am so into, but a great read - very compelling.

I read Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand.  I actually read this one first and it's the reason I picked up The Castaways, Hildebrand keeps you on edge to see how the story turns out.  I enjoyed this one a lot.

I've been listening to books on CD in the kitchen quite a bit as well.  I am almost through Leaving by Karen Kingsbury right now and man oh man let me tell you I am dreaming up reasons to be in the kitchen!  LOL

I don't think I have mentioned the Child Training Bible yet...or perhaps I have in an earlier post.  I finally have it all together.  These pics are actually not the completed version of mine, but you can see what I did. 

This is a spectacular tool for parents to use with their children.  I bought the set up for $9 - so cheap when you consider it's all printed in color and laminated.  Love it!  Then I got some new highlighters and tabs on amazon (used my swagbucks giftcards - so it was not much at all!)  Woo-Hoo!  Then I set to work.  I highlighted each verse on the various topics and tabbed the page for easy reference.  It's a great idea and I am really excited to be able to use this with the boys.   We've already used it several times and I think they are enjoying it too.  And it helps me to reference scripture easily and readily without stumbling or losing the teachable moment.

Every spring as we travel south we stop off at the land in West to see how the bluebonnets are blooming.  What a brilliant sight.  I love it.  The entire hillside is covered in blue.  Gorgeous!!!

A Texas Sea

Being spring time and all we treated the yard with seven dust for fleas and of course the hounds had to get a bath.  LOL  Sadie girl was not very happy with us.  (Scamp and Lady were not either for that matter!)

She was so funny, she kept winding her leash around my legs like she was hiding behind me or something.  This girl loves her stink.  She works very hard on it and does not appreciate me taking it away.  LOL

For Easter weekend we went down to Uncle Pickle's.  What a weekend of grand fun we had.  We always have fun in the spectacular Texas Hill Country.  Uncle Pickle worked quite a bit, but we enjoy being down there and pestering him at the station and cooking for him from time to time.  

Thursday was actually Uncle Phillip's birthday, so we met him over n Gruene for dinner at the Gristmill.  After a GREAT dinner we decided to stroll around town and do a little geocaching with Uncle Phillip, Cousin Sami and Mr. Iz! 
On our stroll we found a carnation I know that Carnations actually grow as plants, not trees.  But this beauty was certainly a tree and those blooms certainly look like carnations.  Gorgeous!
While we were crossing the bridge, Red pointed out this really cool spider family.  Really cool only when we don't get to close...haha!
We stopped down at the river to do a little rock skipping with Cousin Sami!

We stopped in at Gruene Hall for a few, but it was SO HOT in there and LOUD that we decided to head out to the yard where the kids could run and play!
The water tower at night.

Friday we went to the river with Mr. Iz and some friends of his that Friday.  We thought we'd just go down by one of the levees and play around in the water...well that lasted about 10 minutes.  We found a large rock to put our ice chest, towels and such.  Well I noticed these really peculiar black worm like things attached to the bottom in the shallow water near the shore.  So I, of course, had to stop and check them out.  Then as I step across a small rock, to the larger one I see this really cool looking stick poking out from under a rock.  Or what I thought was a stick!  LOL  

Yep, it was a snake, a baby one...with his brother hiding under the rock!  Ugh!  DH reaches down to grab the rock to kill the snake and out comes brother.  AUGH!  LOL  It was crazy...the little boogers were quite aggressive too, they actually came after DH who was standing in the shallows near the shore.  We looked it up and it turns out it's was a baby cottonmouth.  They like the shallow shores of rivers and streams.  

So that ended the river trip.  LOL  The kids wanted no part of the water after that.  Can you blame them?  We ended up at the state park for a while, but the kids were still reluctant to go into the water.   Walking along the levee is about as far as they'd go.

We took our new friends geocaching for a bit around the park.  They had a blast and the boys enjoyed showing them how to cache.  

After our fun at the park, we went out to meet a realtor at a property Uncle Pickle had pointed us toward.  

This is the house.
It's a horse ranch with a huge house, 30 acres, a cool creek and lots of barns.  The kids had a great time playing tag and hide and seek around the yard while the adults poked around the house and barns.  Sigh...Heaven in the hill country...our dream.

This is the creek that runs along one side of the property.
As we were walking along we found this guy - isn't he spectacular!  I am not sure what kind he is.  He was very busy and so pretty.  What a color display.  

 I carried him along the creek bed with us a ways so I could inspect him more and he kept raising up like this.  We figured he was either showing up how pretty he was or trying to scare us off.  
On Saturday the boys and I took off to Sequin to meet up with Mr. Iz and the GridIron Heros group for a outrageous Easter party.  As we pulled into the field to park this is the sight that greeted us.  A gorgeous field of Indian Paintbrushes.  Sigh...sooooo pretty.  

I was intrigued by the white Indian Paintbrush...apparently they can vary in color from red to violet to orange to pink to cream.  Huh....learned something new!

The boys had a grand time in the bounce house of course!
Egg Hunting...the adults got the job of putting out the gazillions of eggs for the kids to find!  Good exercise after all the eating we'd done!  LOL

Since we were at Uncle Pickle's the Easter Bunny had to visit us the boys prepped their baskets and put them out on the table Saturday night.  Sunday morning as we were all getting up and preparing for church, the boys came in to the dining room to find baskets filled with goodies!  :)
Bug's Easter Basket
Red's Easter Basket

School has been going really smoothly this month.  

Science:  We finished Red's 1st grade science curriculum.  We also completed a unit on zoo animals.  Right now we are in a lull as I am preparing a unit on experiments and Zoology 1 Flying Animals of the Fifth Day.  We do have a caterpillar habitat going though and are doing a ladybug discovering chart.  We add these things to our Nature Study Journals.

Math:  Both boys are working hard in their math journals...It is going really well and I am excited to see how it progresses.  Bug is working on Saxon Math 5/4 and Red is working on Saxon Math 1.

Red working on math...we used a magazine to make a pictograph of animals we observed on the pages.

Reading:  Bug has finished the third (and final) 2nd grade reader in the pathway readers series.  We have two more workbook pages to complete next week and he will be done with that as well.   Red is progressing very, very quickly in his reading.  He is reading so well now and although he is easily frustrated and insists he can't read anything - man oh man I think we have finally gotten over the hump.  Thank you Lord for your mercy!

Bible:  We continue our Stick Figuring through the bible series...nothing new to report.  The boys are enjoying the drawing and I can see the details are sinking in as we review.

English/Phonics:  Bug is working in the capitalization unit of Easy Grammar and doing well.  Red is working in Saxon phonics 1.  I made a journal for English and phonics and that seems to be helping with the "paperwork" as well as being able to recall/review as they work independently.  

Spelling:  Bug finished a few more spelling units in Building Spelling Skills.  He is a really good speller, I am so proud of him.  I have Red working on spelling 3 letter words...he is doing great!  Both boys are working through their Explode the Code books as well.  I love this for extra phonics practice!

History:  We haven't worked real hard on our History books lately, we've added a few more state symbols and read book about them and added pictures to our bulletin board.  Not much to report here...we are slowly moving along with Texas History.

Something new we've added is research at the library.  We end up in the library once a week...usually after delivering MOW.  I pack up some school work that we can take with us and we work in the children's room.  It's usually quite and allows us a change of pace.  It also allows us to get something done on a day that would otherwise be wasted on book work.  

Bub taking notes on Peafowl.

Bug has been researching one animal each week.  He has to look up books, go find them on the shelf and then look up various information about the animals.  I give him three questions as a guide.  Then he takes notes from the books.  He is learning about finding information about a subject and writing down interesting points about that subject that would be good to share in a report.  He has done one report so far - about Flamingos.  Since it was his first, I helped him to write the actual report so I could model what I expected.  Then he practiced delivering the speech all week and on Friday he presented his report to the family.  He was very nervous, but let me tell you he did a spectacular job.  I couldn't be prouder.

Both boys love to draw...we picked up several how to draw books at the library and they are forever drawing something.  

We also do Draw Write Now in the classroom to get in a little art time.  We completed a few more animals in the first book this month. 
Mama's Bunny's! 

The boy's swans.

Mama's swan!

Have you ever played Bananagrams?  Oh I love this game!  I have always been hesitant to purchase it because it's $20+ brand new and I am just to frugal for that kind of purchase.  

So you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find it at a garage sale for .50!  Woo-Hoo!  The boys and I broke it out for a fun game of word making - great phonics and spelling practice!

The boys both participated in the RA Race this last month.  They had so much fun!  I have a ton of pictures, but they all have the kids, so I can't post them here.  The boys didn't win anything, but they had a blast racing with their friends!
 The boys cars on display for judging!
Bug's Patriotic Truck 
Red's USA Firetruck 
My GA group has been so busy lately!  As our year comes to a close, we are finishing up projects and completing a few badges and just trying to have a blast and learn about loving God and loving others!
The week before Easter we had really bad weather and missed our regular meeting.  So the week after Easter we did some Egg Hunting Fun activities!  We had egg races, egg puzzles, and a team egg hunt.  It was a blast!
Ashtyn sporting her bunny garb!
The girls racing to collect the most eggs for their team!
The team that won the race, won only by one egg!  
It was hilarious to see them go!
We also made bird feeders this month as part of our God's Creation Badge.  We smeared pinecones with peanut butter and covered them with birdseed.  
The boys helped me make some more at home and they had a blast!
We met at the park to hang these for the birds...I am betting there were some happy birds that day!
The girls were so precious running down the trail looking for good branches to hang from.

They did a great job and we hung about 20 birdfeeders down the trail...then we continued on a nature walk. 
My birdfeeder-hanger troops!  Love these girls!

Home made hand soap....have you tried it?  I made one batch so far and I love it!!!  I used Dial Cranberry soap - it smells really nice!
It was so very easy and turned out really well.  Bug wanted to grate the soap for me - ha - sure thing!
Look at all the pretty curls!
Melting the soap in the water with the glycerin.
Here is the soap all melted and setting up.
The next day I bottled into our hand soap containers and then the rest went into 2 of these bottles - it made about 1 and 1/2 2 liters.  Cool!
Check out this really cool rock that DH found.  Isn't it neat!  It's a concretion - which is a spherical rock. Very cool isn't it!
Bug is a huge fan of legos...but from time to time he goes through an "All Legos All The Time" phase.  In this phase I find legos underfoot, in the chair, in the tub, in the bed...just about everywhere except up my nose it seems!  He enjoys creating and building and this time we even posted a few of his creations on the lego website.  He was very very excited about that!  
Another of Bug's creations.

Mid April was Homeschool Day at the Dallas Zoo.  Well I'll be honest in all the years that I've lived in Dallas, we've never been.  So we decided that $5 a ticket is just too good to pass up and took the boys to the zoo for the day.  It was a great time to log a few waymarks and post a new one while we were there!  
Did you know the carousel is a waymark?
The penny crusher next to the gift shop is also a waymark.

Next you will see some of the pictures we snapped as we went through the zoo.  It was a beautiful day of sunshine and moderate temperatures.  We had an absolute blast and just enjoyed ourselves immensely. 
The Macaws
I can't pass an historical marker without taking note - sorry kids...and here I got to log a waymark as well.
This guys was so funny - he was singing to us I believe...well silently anyway.  LOL
This huge butterfly is also a waymark and supposedly can been seen on the google earth site.  I haven't checked yet, but how cool if that's true!!!\
Another waymark...the awesome mural outside the reptile house!
The boys had a blast tossing pennies into the tornado bowl.  They also went into the hurricane machine and endured 78 mph winds...Red was completely freaked out, but Bug thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Check out this guy!  AUGH!
We arrived just as the zookeeper was feeding the Tiger!  It was sort of a game for him to find his food!  
DH and the boys were in awe of the hugemongous piece of Amethyst that they saw in the Nature Exchange.
Check out this he awesome or what?  He was the sentinel at the top of the mound when we first walked up and I guess he thought we were gonna feed him or something because he came right up to the edge and stood up looking at us!  LOL  Sorry Buddy, the signs told us not to feed anyone!
We got to the gorilla habitat just as one of the keepers came in to work with one of the gorillas.  We got to see how they train them for vet visits and such.  It was fun to see.  When she finished working with him he ran across the glass and slapped the top - AUGH!  LOL  The kids thought it was great!
They fed him and his friend afterward and he was funny trying to get all the corn on the cob before the other one did.  
The giraffes are apparently very used to getting fed because they came right up to the fence where we were. Hello, long neck!

The lions were awesome...there were two men just outside their habitat at the top weed eating.  When we first walked up to the glass we could see them turn toward the direction of the fence at the top of the area.  I looked up there and saw two workers with weed eaters.  It was funny and a little creepy to watch how they "perked up" at the men and intently watched them as the men moved around.  
Check out the waterfall - pretty.  We went for a ride on the rail and it was really cool.  We got to see several animals that we didn't see on our walking tour.
Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies!
Oh my goodness, this picture doesn't even do it justice.  The bushes in front of our house bloom with those tiny white flowers and the butterflies LOVE it!  So they swarm all over them and just create a beautiful scene.  Bug went out and shook the tree (just slightly) and whoosh...they butterflies were crazy!  It was awesome!  
I was out on the front porch watching the butterflies and looked over at another bush and saw this guy.  I was looking at him thinking...oh my goodness what huge eyes!  LOL  Well as you can see on closer inspection those are eye spots!  He flew over to the shutter so I climbed up on the step stool to take a pic.  He is an Eyed Elater.
In Bug's Biology class at co-op, he got a painted Lady caterpillar.  The poor little thing didn't make it.  We were so sad.  Bug buried him in the yard.  But we found four painted lady caterpillars since then, so we have more to watch change.  So far two are in their chrysalis.
Here is a our caterpillar farm...well the start of it anyway.  We have two tiger moth caterpillars and the painted lady.  
Bug made friends with two of the butterflies on the front porch.   I believe this is the common buckeye.  
The butterflies joined us for school at the table!  LOL
Momma Kitty and her week old.  That's Mini Me in the front - she says "Mom, your squishing me!"  LOL
Sweet kitties!
Here they are - all piled up snoozing!
Our caterpillar count grew so we had to upsize our jar!  LOL  
I can't wait to see these fuzzy guys turn into moths!
Another look!
Antique Alley was this last month and boy oh boy did we have a blast!  We found some great goodies!  I got myself a butter dish for my fridge!  For a .25 no less!  And some wiggly eyes - I can always use those!  I also picked up a few little goodies for others along the way!
Red found a new frog for his collection and some other little toys!
Bug found a lego set - he was very excited and a new Pokemon book.  
We also cleaned up on board games!  Woo-Hoo!  We picked up the build your own Monopoly game - it is so awesome!  
The boys were very excited about this game...they are all into spys these days!
We picked up a couple of unique monopoly games as well.  They are very different from regular monopoly, but I think we when get the hang of them it will be a lot of fun!
I finally finished my blue and green scarf!  Woo-Hoo!  This has been a forever long project because I don't really sit and knit all that often.  But I finally finished it...what to start next...hmmm.
I opened my potato drawer and found a science project had started!  LOL  To date these guys are still on my counter and DH keeps asking me what in the world I am going to do with them!  I want to do something with them, thus the reason they are still sitting there a week later...but it's been a crazy week!  LOL
Forts Forts Forts!  The boys have been all about forts lately.  Forts in the living room...forts in the yard...forts on the trampoline!  Love it!

Well that's it...whew...I haven't been working on this update for a week as well...but's it is done..until next month, see ya!

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