Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vacation ideas?

Quick call for ideas - husband wants to go to the coast for a vacation. He's thinking Oregon or California, maybe the Newport area? They have a nice aquarium there.

Any ideas? Any 'must-sees' in that area? Or anywhere along the northern part of California/southern part of Oregon's coastline? Anyone between Southern Idaho and the coast want us to visit on the way through?

Right This Minute.

Grayson nursing on my lap, the girls walk by to go outside.

"Where you going girls?

A: "Hunting. My cat eat WABBITS!" (The stuffed cat on a leash is hidden behind her skirt.)

H: "YEAH! We're taking this" (shows me her bow) "and we're going to hunt deer and moose and elk and everything with antlers and we're going to eat them because they taste so good. We're going to share them too, with people who don't have food. They'll like to eat them. But we have to go now, Mother, before they all run away."

OK. Have fun.

Independence and Butterfly Wings.

Hannah's been asking for a bike for awhile and we finally had enough money to get one. (Thanks tax return!) So off to our neighboring town's Wal-Mart to check out the selection. Three bikes for kids her size.

Matt stuck her on one and she pedaled around for a bit. One of the pedals fell off. Screwed it back on. Two aisles later it's off again. Next bike.

Matt stuck her on and she pedaled around for a bit. Took a turn too fast (2 mph instead of 1) and the handlebar alignment was off. Matt fixed it, but didn't want to mess with a bike that got messed up so easily from a kid tipping it over. Tipping bikes over is kind of par for the course when you're learning to ride.

Last one. Princesses plastered all over it (and $20 more for the privilege of the decals). She didn't get all the way down the aisle before one of the training wheels came off and she tipped over again. When Matt put it back together, he stuck her on and the seat twisted. We looked at each other and decided without words that a larger portion of the tax return was going to have to go to bikes.

We promised Hannah she would get her bike the next day at a proper bike store. We're snobby that way.

The proper bike store also had three choices. None with princesses. Which, strangely enough, Hannah didn't seem to mind. In fact, she ignored the pink choice altogether and went with the orange one. The orange one with the bee on the seat. "Did you know bees are eusocial?" she asked the salesman. "No, I didn't" said the salesman. "Yes, the boys are just for having babies. The girls do all the work. They make the honey. They're even the guards!" says she. "Did you see this pink bike with all the flowers?" says he. (Nice try, buddy) "Yes. Bees love flowers. Then they do the waggle dance" (she demonstrates) "to tell other bees where they are." He looked kind of bewildered and tried "Want to get on and ride it?" That worked.

Ainsley picked out a dark pink one. Grayson tried chewing on the tire of a nearby unicycle. I considered letting him.

When we got home it was dark (our nearest proper bike store is in 'the big city'), so Matt let the girls ride their bikes in the house. When Hannah went to bed, she wheeled her bike into the room with her. What a thing to wake up to!

In the morning we heard some banging and Ains said "Hannah up!" Sure enough, out she came.
But don't think I'm just giggling at Hannah's attachment to her bike here. This is what Ains was doing when she told me Hannah was up. Oatmeal on the bike. Thank goodness for training wheels.

After breakfast we headed out and Hannah got the first major taste of independence a kid gets after they learn to walk - riding a bike far and fast.

She also learned that riding on gravel isn't as easy as riding on a slick store floor and that riding downhill, while scary, is thrilling.

Since yesterday, I go nowhere without neosporin and band-aids.

Wildflowers are so abundant right now that even bike riding can wait for a few minutes.

Then the wind overpowered her, so we went into the shed to escape it. We found a dead butterfly which made Ains very sad. "Buttfwy dead? No wings? No FLY??? *sob* ... Me hold it?"

So we looked very closely at the butterfly.

Very closely indeed.

Then Ains took the magnifying glass exploring. Baby goats...

and ponies.

And once more with the buttfly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More birding...

The book goes with us everywhere now. It's wonderful, really, to connect with a part of the world that you've taken for granted before, that you've allowed to flit around in your peripheral vision but never really notice. And it's wonderful to watch your little girls doing the same thing.

We see birds. Everywhere. So the book comes with us everywhere.

In Wyoming at Grandma and Poppa's house, we see birds more anxious for spring than even we are.

Sandhill Cranes.
Canada Geese.
Crossing our driveway in front of our car, Hannah squeals to stop because she's seen a 'new bird'. A Killdeer. That one's fun to talk about.

In a nearby farmer's fields that are being flood-irrigated, we chance on two more varieties.

Mallard ducks.
Spotted Sandpiper? Closest we could find in the book.

Then we go to 'the big city' and see a House Sparrow in front of the toy store.

We're still in the crush phase of this obsession. We're still easily identifying and finding new birds. We have yet to hit the 'I know all the common birds and we'll *never* find the other birds' hump. Right now it's pure excitement every time we see a bird. And that's fun.

I would love to have an experience like this with my girls. Having a birding mentor would be wonderful.

How we got started.

Other birds we've seen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Sorry to yell that at you, but seriously...


She likes playing princess with her sister just fine, but pirates and the open sea are calling to my girl.

She even makes her sister peep out of portholes to look for 'Waand Hoooo!' because 'Waand Ho is in da Souf Seas.' I have the Island Princess to thank for that. Thanks Barbie.

This one just looks bemused by the whole thing, even when he's told to walk the plank.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Polyandry or Polygamy - which is preferable?

To a five year old, that is.

Driving home from the store tonight, Hannah started in on one of her rambling thought processes. Matt's ready to invest in some type of recorder to take with us places to record these things.

H: "I've decided that I want four children. Not just three like you have, Mother, but four. Well, you really have four. Daddy and me and Ainser and Gray. That's four. But do you want more?"
S: Well, I wouldn't be opposed to more, I guess, if it happened. Why do you want me to have more?
H: "It's not that I want you to have more. Just sometimes I look at your tummy and think 'Mother's going to have another baby' and then I tell myself 'No, that's just fat, that's not a baby', but before I think that I get excited that you're going to have another baby, but it's not a baby in your uterus, it's just fat in your tummy.'
Sarah: *goggle-eyed*
Matt: *trying to stay on the road and not get a hernia from holding in the laughter*
H: "I've been thinking, though, that maybe you should get married again, Mother."
Sarah: Really?
H: "Yes. You can love two husbands. I know it. So you should get married again."
Sarah: Why on earth would I want to do that?
H: "Well, for the money, mainly. If you had two husbands, we would have more money."
Sarah: Huh.
H: "Or, and this would be even better, Mother, your other husband could go to work and Father could stay home and play with us. I've always wanted Father to stay home and play with us, so you should get married again, so he can."
Matt: So the other husband would just be for making money?
H: "Well, that and having more kids."
(now it's my turn to try not to laugh)
Matt: What if I married another woman instead of your mother marrying another man?
H: "That would be silly Father. Then you would have *way* too many kids. And I've already got a mother."
Sarah: What if I went to work and she stayed home with you?
H: "Well, that could work, but I wouldn't like it."
Sarah: Why not?
H: "It's pretty obvious, Mother. I wouldn't like her hairstyle."
Matt: Oh, that is obvious. How did we miss that?

This went on for the twenty minutes it took us to get home. And the jury's still out on whether polyandry (an extra father to go to work so that her father could stay home) or polygamy (an extra mother with a bad hairstyle) is preferable. I'll keep you updated.

Edit: I got some help on correct terminology (see the comments), so I replaced 'bigamy' with 'polyandry'. That's what I get for going from memory with those words. Thanks Big Love!

Violet tea, tigers and butterflies.

We had a lovely day today. We looked for these in our yard ...

collected leaves and flowers, and made violet tea.

We really enjoyed it. It looked and tasted just as described on 5 Orange Potatoes.

Then, since I had some necessary computer work to do (reprinting my entire much-used recipe collection binder - don't ask), I set the girls up with painting on the table beside me.

First, suncatchers.

That went fast.

Then really inexpensive little animals from the craft store. Four for each girl - horses, monkeys, tigers, and elephants. That should have kept them busy for awhile, and it did. Twenty whole minutes.

So I gave up on the computer work and we went to the park.

As I said, lovely day.


People you should know about.

Nikola Tesla (you will never look at Thomas Edison in the same way)

Art you should see.

A man's beautiful slideshow tribute to his father.

Websites that will rock your world.

Nikon's Universcale.

The unusual.

The woman with a real imaginary arm.

Beautiful science.

Hubble images.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

How it began.

Steph's here.

Heart Rockin' Family has hers up!

SunnyMama is up.

I Candy is up!

Bonnie is joining us today!

So is West Coast Girl!

If you post a Snapshot Sunday, leave a comment here and I'll add you!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


So I signed up for the Do Not Call List. I think that I was one of the first 100 people to sign up, but it didn't stick. You've been a recipient of that, haven't you? Your husband forgets not to put your phone number on a drawing slip for a free four-wheeler or your brother-in-law gives your phone number to a salesman to get a better discount and before you know it, your phone number is being distributed and sold in back alleys. Metaphorically. But literally, your number is back in the game and you start getting calls again.

I have accidentally stumbled on a trade secret to deal with the telemarketers. They have their own Do Not Call List and I think they've put me on it. Want to know how I came to that conclusion? 'Course you do! I used to get three to four calls a day from live telemarketers, two or so from automated telemarketers. Now I get no live calls and only the two or so automated. What has happened to make that change?

Exhibit A:
Hannah: "Hello? Yes, of course I have a mother. Her name's Sarah. She's my mother because I came out of her uterus."

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:
Ainsley: "Faw? Faw? Faw, dat you? Momma, dis not Faw." Click.

Exhibit D:
Hannah: "Hello? No, you can't talk to my Father. He's not home. He's at work, making money. He has to go to work to make money so that we can have a place to live and I can have a pony, but he can't spend it. My mother spends it. My pony's name is Princess. She's nice. She lets me ride her. Hello?" (By the way, that 'my mother spends it' line came from a conversation with her father the night before when he'd weaseled out of taking the heat for not being able to go to a restaurant by saying that 'Mother decides how to spend the money.' Weasel.)

Exhibit E:
Hannah: "Hello? No, my Father's not here. Yes, Mother's here but she can't talk right now. Because she's putting Grayson down for a nap and she gets reaaaaallly mad if you wake him up while she's trying to put him down. I'm not going in there."

Yessiree, I'm persona non grata with live telemarketers. Sweet. Kids are so worth labor, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Honeybees are eusocial.

Hannah wants a flower garden this year. Specifically, a butterfly garden. Yesterday we went through our flower seeds and she picked out the ones she wanted (all of them). Then she thought about bees - you know, the 'stinging bugs' - and how they always seem to be hovering around dandelion flowers. The world stopped.

Today she came up to me and said "Do we have any bee books?" No, but let me grab the encyclopedia.

Here we are. After I grabbed it and we sat down to read, I asked her why the sudden desire to learn more about bees. "Because I want a butterfly garden but you said that if butterflies came bees would come too and I want the butterflies but not the bees because I'm scared of the bees but maybe that's because I don't know enough about them and maybe if I know more about them I won't be scared of them and it will be ok if they're there but I'll still like the butterflies better especially if they give me honey but I don't think butterflies make honey but if they did it would taste like flowers and that would be yummy and I can sell it at the Farmer's Market and tell people that it's not from bees and I didn't need to wear a mask to collect it because butterflies don't sting like bees." Good lord. Sometimes I wish I hadn't asked some questions. Not this time, you understand, but sometimes. Other times.

So we learned about bees. She had me read all six pages in the encyclopedia and devoured the illustrations and photos. We learned a lot.

Did you know bees have five eyes? Yeah, neither did I.

They collect nectar and pollen, the nectar being carried inside their body, the pollen on 'pollen baskets' on their back legs.

The only bee that will sting you is a female. Worker bee. The males (they're drones, their only job is to breed) don't have stingers. The queens have a stinger, but it's a different shape and is only used in fights with other queens. (Did you know that kids can't explain about stingers without sticking their rears out? True story. Try it with your own kids.)

This is cool - if a queen lays her eggs and doesn't expose them to the sperm she's storing in her body, the eggs will become male drones. If she *does* expose them to the sperm, these fertilized eggs will be females. For the first three days of the female larvae's life, she is fed royal jelly. After the first three days, the majority of the larvae will be switched over to 'beebread', a mixture of pollen and honey, and these will become worker bees. The larvae fed only royal jelly until they make a cocoon become queen bees.

We learned about the amazingly precise dances the bees do to inform other bees about the location of food. Of course Hannah had to try to do her own waggle dance (round dances are for near food, waggle dances are for far food) and was alternately hilariously amused and hilariously frustrated that I couldn't figure out that she wanted peaches from the pantry. To be fair, I don't speak bee.

Then we learned about bumblebees. Hannah asked why they weren't proud. No, sweetie, not *humble*bees, *bumble*bees. Ahh. Then about the solitary bees like leaf-cutters, carpenters, and masons.

One thing that's wonderful about following where a child's interest leads is learning fascinating stuff you wouldn't know otherwise. If Hannah had wanted to skip around the six pages looking at pictures and hearing random facts that I pulled out of the entry, that would have been fine. By then I was so hooked that I would have finished reading it on my own later.

Word for the day: Eusocial. One reproductive female, others are 'workers' and insterile - even if that is only temporary (worker bees can lay eggs if the need is desperate). Bees are eusocial as are wasps and ants. Only two mammals are known to be eusocial - the naked mole rat and the Damaraland mole rat. I would be eusocial too if I were a naked mole rat.

You know what's funny? A five-year old that can use 'eusocial' correctly in a sentence. You know what else is funny? Her daddy's face when she springs that on him. Though he's kinda used to it now after her speech to him awhile back about 'alicorns'.

Seashells by the Seashore. Kinda.

*sniff* Look how grown-up she looks when she wants her hair fixed.

I snapped the picture right away since she usually pulls out any hair clips/bows/bands as she walks away from having it fixed (and the fixing is always at her request, go figure), but she left these in for almost an entire hour.

We went down to the now-burned-out cattail pond to explore. Hannah told us that we had to take bowls because there were "so, so, so many shells" there. This was based purely on her experience in the canal earlier this week. Danged if she wasn't right. Thousands of shells, littering the ashy ground.

Gray, who cannot see a bucket next to him without trying to fill it up, even got in on the act. Though it was clods of dirt he added to my bucket, and not shells.

Kid has a good arm. My bucket was a foot away from where he was picking up the dirt and throwing it - while strapped to my back - and he made it into the bucket on most of his shots.

This is what the puppy did every time I sat down.

Hannah found this bird's nest in the center of a patch of burned down cattails. How random is that? It's drier than the cattails were, but it's barely scorched.

Sooty girl.

Now I'm going to add this pile of books to Library Thing before I box them up. Fun times.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What food independence looks like in our house.

For my RUN group -

Earlier this evening, I could have snapped a picture of Ains eating peaches beside Hannah who was eating an ice cream cone and a bowl of peas. Ains showed no interest in the ice cream, but grabbed some peas when she was done with her peaches.


warm weather.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Throwing a constellation party.

Any ideas?

Hannah wants to throw a constellation party. I need ideas. Star shaped cookies are, of course, on the list already.

Nothing to do with the moon, this is a "stars only" party, so ideas based on the constellation stories - maybe I should research more deeply different culture's constellation stories - would be ideal. It will be an evening party because star-gazing is mandatory, naturally.

The party could be for only kids her age, but we really want to invite a family or two that we know, so the party-goers would be adults and kids from 1-9 years old.

What have you got for me?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Farmgirl ABCs.

So awhile back, Steph posted this amazing post. Take a few minutes to click over and look at it - it will rock your world.

When I saw that post, I thought "How cool." ... ... That was it. I never thought of doing it myself, that's for sure. I don't have her eye for seeing detail and pulling it out.

But then yesterday I looked up in the sky and saw this -

I've never seen plane trails cross just so before and I thought "That's a cool 'X'" and took a picture. Then I turned 45 degrees to the right and saw this -

30 degrees to the right of *that* was this -

so I wasn't getting a total 'wildlife/nature' theme as Steph had. She saw details, I saw the ones that smacked me in the face. But I was suddenly inspired to try to find the whole alphabet. So throughout the rest of the day, I walked around with a camera taking pictures of letters around my farm (and some of my neighbor's machinery that's parked on our boundary).

Some were surprisingly easy (Q), some were ridiculously easy (how many Os do you think you'll find on a farm, hmm?), and some were very, very difficult (R and G).

When Hannah noticed what I was doing, she asked to help, so I put her on charting duty. Thus was born an unlooked for 'lesson' in letters - especially the obscure letters that she rarely has an opportunity to use, much less seek out in farm machinery. As part of her job, she would tell me which letters on the list we still needed to find, help look for them in our life, and cross them off when we found them. By the time we got done, she could write any letter in the alphabet without hesitating.

She had so much fun trying to find the letters, that she set a lot of letters up (none of which ended up in the 'official list' - those are all 'as found' shots - but some of which ended up in the 'alternate' shots) and she really got a kick out of trying to find letters in the animals, some of those shots ended up in the official list, some very silly ones ended up in the 'alternate' list.

By the way, do you have any idea how frustrating it is when your pen won't work?

The pictures are not totally unaltered - I had to rotate a few to make the letters stand out. This activity was the most fun I've had when looking at my place. For hours after we got done, I was seeing letters *everywhere*.

Now I'm having visions of creating an alphabet panel made up of these on my wall.

So head over to my farming blog for my Farmgirl's ABCs. Please! And enjoy!