Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We continued our tradition of celebrating Halloween as All Hallows (Saints) Eve.

Did we carve pumpkins? Yes!

Did we dress up as saints (and angels)? Yes!

Did we collect more candy than any six kids should eat? YES!

This year we had Zorg as St. Michael.

And we had Klenda as Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mary).

Mxyl was all ready to go as St. Anthony (he was going to carry a lost and found bag), but he has been down with a high fever all day. :( I'll take a picture of him in costume later. Klenda carried a bag for him, so he will have candy when he's feeling better.

I had a hard time coming up with a costume for Choclo. I was thinking of dressing him up as a fish to go with St. Anthony (who once preached to the fish when the people didn't want to hear him). Since St. Anthony wasn't coming, I had to come up with another costume, quickly, so we went with a guardian angel! Somewhat confused, Choclo asked me (after I put his wings on), "Am I a fish, now?"

Umm, how about an angelfish?

"Glub, glub!"

Leena came up with her costume by herself. She's The Little Flower. (Often referred to as St. Therese Liseux.)

Oob is a Domini Canis! Before St. Dominic was born, his mother had a dream that her baby was a black and white dog which carried a torch in it's mouth. After he died, the order he founded (the Order of Preachers) took on his name as "the Dominicans" and they were jokingly refered to as "God's watchdogs" - Domini Canis.

Oh well, this is what happens when both your parents are Dominicans, you get stuck in a dog suit!

Oob loved it, by the way. He made cute doggy noises at each house and came home with enough candy to put him in a sugar stupor until he's a teenager.

Hope you are having a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

US History: Colonial Times, Reading and Eating

We've been having a sporadically great time with our Colonial unit. Not that we haven't been having fun the whole time, it's more that we keep getting interrupted and sidetracked by fine weather and outside activities.

Here's what we've done so far:

We have been reading!

We really enjoyed If You lived in Colonial Times. It's written as a question and answer book with a special focus on how kids lived in Colonial times.

We are moving through Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself. The name explains it all! Actually, it has some nice explanatory essays which put each project into context as well as give more information about how the colonists did such things.

In The Story of America, we are up to page 40: Colonies in the Wilderness.

I am using A History of the United States only sporadically just now since it is focusing on events more than how the colonists lived. We are around Chapter 3.

We are also doing some on the pilgrims, particularly a book from the perspective of children making the crossing (although I"m too lazy to go upstairs and look up the title). Since the kids are actually Mayflower descendants (through the Emperor, obviously) doing the Plymouth colony is sort of mandatory.

Aside from the books, we've been eating!

Johnnycakes (also called hoe cakes, although I could think of no way to actually cook them on a hoe since mine is a stirrup hoe).

We have also been enjoying a colonial breakfast: popcorn with milk and sugar. No, they didn't have sugar, but it's just so good! It's similar in texture to puffed wheat, but the taste is much more intensely "corny" than corn pops. Yummy! We are doing it with pan popped corn since the microwave type is pre-salted. It's actually a cheap source of cold cereal, even today - and whole grain to boot!

Related to food, we are getting ready to cook down more squash and pumpkins for more pilgrim food, and we have planted out wheat.

If you haven't grown wheat, it's worth a try and now is the time to plant it! Wheat is a grass, so it will grow wherever grass will grow in your yard. You can get wheat seed at any natural food store, or possibly your supermarket. You are looking for "wheat berries." Ideally, you will get to choose "Hard Winter Wheat," but I'd try the generic "wheat berries" if that's what you can find.

You can find our posts with the how to details here.

Incredibly, when I went looking for wheat berries at MOM's, not only did I find "Hard Winter Wheat," they also had oat groats, spelt, flax, and buckwheat. A quick look on the internet told me that I needed to plant the spelt and oats now, and the flax and buckwheat in the spring. I'll keep you posted on how everything turns out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn in the Air

Autumn has to be my favorite season to smell.

Yes, Spring has armloads of flowers, and Summer has cut grass, but Fall! Fall carries woodsmoke and fallen leaves and those last few honeysuckle blossoms made sweeter by the sharpness of a chill twilight.

We've been taking lots of long rambling walks in the woods, feasting on the beauty of the trees, the crunching of the leaves under foot, and all the fragrance of Fall!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chick Update 2

Watching Joy teach the chicks to fly was amazing!

Evidently, instinct covers the "up" direction of flight, but you have to learn the other directions (and landing!). This led to an amusing afternoon of chicks bumping along the ceiling, stymied by doorways. Have you noticed that doorways end way before the ceiling?

Eventually they would flutter to the floor and take off through the doorway to bump along the ceiling of the next room.

Joy started with short straight flights and gradually built them up to wide turns. He spent a lot of time teaching them to fly in formation as a flock. Keep in mind, this was when they'd only been out of the egg for a month!

They are now about 5 or 6 weeks old and they storm through the house in a flock of five. They also forage on the floor together, a behavior I find inexplicably cute! Look, five walking parakeets!

They fly fairly well, but seeing the parents in action, they have a ways to go - Peace and Joy can wheel in flight at top speed and land on a hanging strip of yarn. The chicks still land on top of each other pretty regularly: parakeet pile!

It has occurred to us that having five free range parakeets about the house is kind of crazy. We do put them in the cage when we are trying to have a meeting (or have skittish guests). But, on the whole, it's just so much fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chick Update 1

Lest you think I can no longer blog without You Tube...

The chicks are hardly chicks anymore! This is what they looked like at two to three weeks old.

If you can believe it, they were all flying within two weeks of that picture!

The middle chick in the first picture now looks like this.

Not only did we get to watch them learn to fly, we also listened to them learn to sing. They went from random squeaks to more defined chirps, to actual songs.

This has also turned into an interesting study in genetics.

The mother, Peace, is mostly white with a little cobalt blue on her body. She also has light barring on her wings (barring on birds=stripes).

The father, Joy, is an electric turquoise blue with complete barring on his wings and head.

The chicks came out like this (and I do hope to get better pictures of each of them):

Courage is the oldest chick. He or she is mostly white with some turquoise on the body and some barring on the wings and head.

Love, the second chick, is pictured above. He or she is the same pattern and color as Courage, but with less barring.

Hope, the last chick, is a brilliant cobalt blue all over with complete barring on the wings and head.

Is the coloring sex linked? We have no idea. I think it will be another month until we can tell the sex of any of the chicks.

I simply must add: One of the things about the chicks learning to fly was that, for a week there, they frequently got lost. They would fly to the top floor, land among the beanbags in the library and chirp for help.

When they got lost, we were always searching for Courage, looking for Love and finding Hope. At least we always had Peace and Joy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

US History Introduction Video

This was made back in August! But we'll be catching up to what we are doing now in our Colonial unit, soon.

Meet the Zoomlians

Success! I will post the videos we have made while we were figuring out the technical difficulties.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

M.O.R.P.H. Guest Blog by Mxyl

I've been busy making this robot for three or four nights. My friend, Dr. Inferno, made this movie about it. I hope you have fun watching it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple Mania!

We went apple picking with Grammy last week and discovered this formula: 6 Zoomlians + Larriland Farms + 10 minutes = 38 lbs of apples.

That's a lot of apples! The kids informed me that the next day would be Apple Day and thoughtfully provided me with a list of activities.

After a quick look, I went for "Apple Week," instead. I can only bake (or eat!) so many apples in one day!

Here is their list (with what we've done so far in bold):
Apple pie
Apple dumplings
Apple fritters
Bobbing for apples
Apple dippers
Apple butter
Caramel apples
Apple upside down cake
Just eating apples

Apple sauce and apple butter are always the last things since that's what we do with the left over apples when we are tired of them!

Zorg also told me about the Apple Game. I am supposed to get 6 colors of ribbons. I tie a ribbon onto an apple stem and hide the apple. I then tie a matching ribbon to the small present which is awarded to whomever finds the apple. He also told me solemnly that everyone should stop after they found an apple so that everything would be fair.

Incidentally, we also picked pumpkins and broccoli.

The pumpkins were fun, although I need to rethink my standing rule that you can't pick a pumpkin too heavy for you to carry. It turns out a remarkable number of Zoomlians can carry really remarkably large pumpkins at this point!

The broccoli picking turned out to be a thrilling hunt to find large heads to slice off. Choclo became very fond of the broccoli and carried a (severed) head (of broccoli) around with him for the rest of the day. Quite the Halloween experience!

We also picked up some beautiful squash and a few warty gourds at the barn there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're Back, Kinda.

Sorry for the long delay! We are in process with switching our main computer.

We also are in doubt about our camera.

A certain Zoomlian asked to borrow the camera to take a picture of their likeness sculpted in sand... then left the camera in the sandbox overnight... and it rained.

Fortunately, Mr. Bill is making a valiant attempt at camera resuscitation.

So, what have we been doing the last few weeks?

Watching the leaves change with weekly trips to the arboretum.

Finishing the Age of Discovery and rocketing into the Colonial Period.

Working on a major house cleaning and reorganization.

Starting bi-weekly swimming with lessons for the kids.

Working on hand taming the chicks. Can you believe they have all started flying?

Throw in a few minor medical crises, a number of social engagements, some home improvement projects, and we've been pretty busy!

I hope to blog in depth about the US History stuff soon.