Saturday, October 20, 2012

Viewing the animals that came *before* dinosaurs.

A few months ago Hannah decide that she was interested in sharks. One of the shark books the librarian helped her pick out was actually about the Megalodon. When Hannah learned that sharks and their ancestors have been around longer than dinosaurs, she was hooked. We read everything we could find out about them.

This week we went to Wyoming to check on a job opportunity and were going to drive right by Fossil Butte National Monument, 'America's Aquarium in Stone'. We couldn't just drive by.

When you pull off the highway, you start to see signs along the road leading to the Visitor's Center. The signs announce different milestones in the history of life. As you get closer to the Visitor's Center, you get closer to the present time. So cool.

 Once you start on the sidewalk to the Visitor's Center, the signs get more frequent and more detailed. This goes all the way around the Center. It really brings home exactly how long this earth has been turning and how incredibly short our time on it has been.

This national monument is built with children in mind. Kids can go help on digs in the summer and the Visitor's Center has signs that say "Please Touch" everywhere. Hannah was in heaven.

This was a flannel wall that had dozens of different fish parts that you could use to make prehistoric fish.

Don't be fooled by his unimpressed expression. He asked me to take this picture.

There was a wall of turtle fossils, from tiny turtles (and babies) all the way up to a turtle that dwarfed me.

 The ranger on duty was fantastic - she said she loves being stationed here because she gets to talk to kids all day. We were the only ones there that day (yay homeschooling!) so Hannah got a personalized tour while the other two focused on what they were interested in.

For Ainsley that meant the souvenir shop and this fossil that she kept coming back to. She finally dragged me over and said in her proudest voice "I've figured out what this is, Momma! You know how leprechauns are magical creatures? So they have lived even longer than dinosaurs? This is a fossil of a leprechaun's butt."

When I stopped laughing I took the picture. So there you have it - proof that leprechauns have been around a long time.

Gray just walked around inspecting the paintings on the walls. He was fascinated.

I love this fossil - so many frail bones captured in stone. Beautiful.

And this crocodile-ish skeleton was a big hit.

This, however, was my favorite. This fossil will never not make me laugh. Poor little bird-ish thing. Caught running.
While I was buying a few things the kids did some crayon rubbings and got stamps for their National Parks Passports.
We only meant to stay a half hour - after all, Matt was waiting in the car with Zander who was napping - but we ended up staying for over an hour. We want to go back next summer if we still live close enough and participate in a dig. It's not the most exciting place for a dinosaur crazy kid, but for Hannah who is more into the pre-dinosaur sea life and for Ainsley who is apparently an expert on prehistoric magical creatures it was perfect.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What we've been learning this week:

The Great Fire of London.

More Pokemon games - a lot of math and social skills and risk-taking and risk-measuring and calculated thinking going on there.

Diet - learning about how different foods affect the different bodies in our family, about the tastes of different family members, about what foods blend well together, about matching what we want to eat to how much money we have.

I've been learning about Ainsley's constellations. They're quite different from the ones I know. Funnier. Better stories.

Costuming - figuring out Halloween costumes. Printing inspiration pictures, figuring out fabric yardage, shopping for patterns.

The size of an atom:

That's just cool.

More about Indy Cars than I thought I'd ever want to know. More to come, I'm sure.

Reading - proud girls reading whatever they can get their hands on, trying out their skills in every area of their life. Figuring out the little idiosyncrasies and funny tricks in the English language.

Conspiring with their Uncle Dale to find people that need our help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mushroom hunting.

Ainsley and I found mushrooms on one of our walks together. Five different kinds!

 This one was pretty. That black underneath it is moist ink. You can see my hands are already dirty from it.

This one had a beautiful rose colored underside - hard to see in the picture.

There were lots of these around. Some in clusters like these.

And some alone like this very tall one.

And this kinda tall one. (Ainsley picked the pictures for this post.)

 These were my favorite - teeny tiny button mushrooms all over one of the trees.

We don't know enough about mushrooms to pick ones to eat, so we just explored for the fun of it. Ainsley asked "Are most mushrooms poisonous?" I told her that most are harmless, some are yummy, and a few are poisonous but the poisonous ones are deadly very fast, so no experimenting with mushrooms. Then we had to have the discussion again with the other kids when we got home with what we'd found.

Monday, September 24, 2012

And then she was six.

My Ainsley sprite is six years old.

She's been waiting for this one for the last few months. She didn't want to turn five and grow up, but she's been wanting to turn six.

She wanted to lose her first tooth before she was six. Done!

She wanted to read a book all by herself before she turned six. She did the night before. And then bounced on the bed for 10 minutes out of excitement.

She wanted to be a 'little girl soccer player' before she became a 'big girl soccer player'. Done.

And now I'm sitting here wondering how it happened. It wasn't six years ago that we met her for the first time, I'm sure of it.
 But here we are.
 Potty trained and everything. Course that was done by 18 months. The doll took a little bit longer. She had to 'splain things to her.

 She dropped right into our hearts. When asked who her favorite friend was today, Hannah said "Ainsley, of course."

Here she thought it was important that her pony get introduced to Hannah's pony.


I tried to limit this post to one picture per year. I really, really did.
 But it wasn't happening.

 Sorry about that.

 Just look at her, wishing on the first star of the night. On her horse's back.

 With her daddy.
 And her baby brother.

 She's so beautiful, inside and out.

 And she's hilarious. And mischievous. And she gave me the idea to start yet another blog that I'm so enjoying.

 Happy Birthday Ainser girl. My life would be so much duller without you. I certainly wouldn't get my daily dose of laughter in without you. I love you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What we did with our summer.

We went camping. All summer long.

We needed to find a new place to rent and after looking around and finding very few suitable places, Matt suggested camping in our RV for the summer. So we looked around, found a fantastic RV park and pulled in.

 I was excited about this because I've been trying to convince Matt for a few years that it would be fun to pull an RV across the country and then up and down the East Coast through historical sites. He always said that it would be too close quarters and I maintained that our family could manage the closeness just fine. This was a chance for both of us to see how it would work.

And, oh, it's been fun. The park has a pool which Ainsley immediately said she'd swim in every day. We've only missed two days in the three months we've been here.

The park has a little playground, and a fish pond, and river front access.

The park also has interesting visitors. We've met so many interesting people pulling through here. It's been an amazing education for my girls - meeting such a variety of people in our 'everyday life' would take some serious thought and planning, but here it's just what happens.

Like the couple traveling the country with their two Amazonian parrots. Or the 80-year-old couple with a tent that was manufactured 60 years ago - by the wife - when they first got married and they still use when they take trips. Or the grandparents taking their Hawaiian grandson on a trip through the mainland. Or the little girl whose mother wouldn't leave her trailer so she wanted to live at ours. Or the couple with dachshunds. Or the 50-year old lesbian couple that was so open and willing to answer my children's questions. Or the man who had throat cancer and now speaks like a robot. Or the man blacksmith who travels to different festivals selling his iron works.

Or the family who travels in a school bus painted blue and has kids just the right size and temperament to mesh well with ours. I could go on and on. 

We've eaten a lot of ice cream.

 We're so lucky to have friends who are keeping our pony only a mile from the RV park, so Ains gets to ride whenever she wants to.
 We visited a local air field that has some old vehicles on display.

(picture by Hannah)

We've gone fishing so many times, but the fish do love us if you know what I mean.

We're enthusiastic, but not very good is what I mean.

We've made hula hoops.

 And played with hula hoops.

Zander's done everything he can to convince us he's one of the dogs.

We've done everything we can to convince him that human food is better.

To that end (and just because I really, really like fresh kale and basil) we sourced out a fantastic little farm to pick fresh veggies since we can't grow our own here.
 We're still discussing the dog food, though. *sigh*

Hannah put together a dog show for the RV park and talked other campers into participating.

We went to the fair and Ainsley had me take a picture of her in front of the award picture backdrop holding the invisible lead to her invisible winning animal. Still not sure what animal it is.

 We discovered Pokemon.

 We played with friends on beautiful summer evenings.


We've only had a few days of bad weather, but we've used those to explore new games that have been big hits.

And one of the best things is this -

 Crashing. Hard. Sleeping deep. Every night.

We're not planning on being here past the summer, but it's been a wonderful summer.