Saturday Morning Thoughts.

Good morning,

I’m sitting here munching stale gluten free chex oatmeal for breakfast because my doctor says my cholesterol is high and so…oatmeal.

Because… FIBER

I decided today is the day i get back to my blog and why not while I choke this stuff down?

DSCN0019

yummy.

It would be better if it weren’t over a year old.

Homeschool year 2015-2016 is DONE.

Paperwork is signed, sealed, and delivered.

Finito.

I have a month to our summer school session to rest on my laurels.  (love that saying, but i imagine my niece with that name being sat on and thats no good)

Except actually I don’t because I have more school planning, our wedding to put together, kids to manage and that green stuff to try to earn.

Weddings are much more complicated than they should be.  So far we have clothing,  flowers, wedding party people, musicians, photographer, cake and catering sorted.

DSCN9983

This leaves us with figuring out the ceremony, vows, what the musicians will actually play,  getting rings, printing programs, determining schedule day of, finishing booking hair and makeup, settling on what shots the photog (friend of the groom) will take, and countless endless other considerations most of which have fallen to me.  Mostly, to just me. It all involves talking to people, many of them strangers.

phone

If I had a time machine I would travel back in time to 8 months ago and whisper to my sleeping self “justice of the peaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace. thats what you waaaaant”

(no I would not warn a conscious me, because I know me,  I would have stolen the time machine from me and would still be sorting out the headache of endless paradox)

I’m happy and grateful that both Kevin (fiance guy i keep mentioning) and I will have family and friends to share the day with. It’s just…

sigh.

Anyway, my poor blog has just sat.

Drat.

I’ve been thinking about the blog, and what direction I should take it.

I question what the point of this blog actually is,

To reach people? – only a handful of people read it. I just don’t have the traffic save for some extremely popular autism posts.

To develop my writing skills?  eerrr well, thats been sucking lately huh?

and what it is actually about

autism? homeschooling? nature? randomness?

People come here for my autism tagged posts but my subscribers are mostly home-schoolers.  I’m preaching to the choir concerning home learning and I don’t think any of my ideas concerning autism acceptance are new or all that groundbreaking.

Is it an autism parenting blog?

I hesitate to describe our lives in too much detail because bloggers (no matter how positively) who focus on their children or loved ones autism or other various struggles, leave me with a bad taste. There are some well known bloggers out there that are all about neurodiversity, acceptance, positivity, etc, who I feel put WAY to much information on the web that is a disservice to their child. Often the children do have a say concerning it, but I question if they fully realize what they are consenting to. It is a difficult line.

This is why it is rare for me to relate a personal anecdote and why I will never blog about a tantrum or private conversation, or even specific incident concerning them.

 

so yeah, I dunno.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fossil Hunting at Calvert Cliffs

the shorline

the shoreline

We’ve been focusing on Earth Science the last few months, and most recently, learning about fossils.

Friday we drove down to Chesapeake beach to fossil hunt near the cliffs. Fossilized shark teeth are a common find.

some random dude and a view of the cliffs -miocene formation in southern Maryland

some random dude and a view of the cliffs -miocene formation in southern Maryland

The cliffs are off limits for digging as officials are worried about landslides and injury, but people comb the beach at the low tide looking to see what fossils may have been washed free.

 

 

Pete sifts the sand looking for fossilized shark teeth

Pete sifts the sand looking for fossilized shark teeth

 

 

 

We sifted and dug and searched for two hours and found one small fragment of fossilized shell.

Lily gives it a go

Lily gives it a go

While it was disappointing the kids enjoyed the search. We want to go back on another warm day in April or May.

 

 

Tessa exploring

Tessa explores

Spring Planning

Two months to go

We have two months left of the school year. We’ll break for May and start back up in June with a modified summer schedule.  I believe we’ll nix most indoor studies and spend as much time outdoors as time allows.

Before summer though, comes spring,  and like last year, I’m in planning mode.

Goal one: Plan and plant this year’s pollinator garden

DSCN0032

We had a good amount of bees and butterflies attracted to our pollinator garden last year.  I want to add some swamp milkweed to the bed. We also have plans to grow herbs and mint in containers.

Goal two: plan and create a shade loving garden for the front yard

Being a northern exposure with light blocked by the homes across the street, the front yard is always in the shade and somewhat cooler than other sides of the house. I want to plant a front bed with native shade loving flowers.

Goal three: to observe and photograph Moth Emergence

DSCN9986

I already have a robin moth (Hyalophora cecropia) cocoon in the basement. I haven’t decided if I will photograph and release or keep it for its full life span and then try framing it.  I’d love to get a Luna moth cocoon as well.

Goal Four: start nature quest 2016

DSCN0009

It’s almost time to grab another quest booklet and tackle Nature Quest 2016. This will be our third year participating in the hiking program run by Baltimore County Parks and Recreation.

personal goals

For myself I want to work on my writing more AND get out to photograph butterflies more. Specifically, this blog needs more attention.

I also have my homeschool paperwork to complete and turn in. I’m doing slightly better at it then previous years when I spent all of April in a panic. I will probably STILL spend April in a panic but hopefully not AS panicky as usual. 😀

How about you? What are your spring plans?

 

———————————————————————————————————————————

I blog about nature, autism, kids, and learning.  If that interests you, please consider subscribing.  If you’re a fan and would like to help us out a bit, please see the patreon link in the menu bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biomes, ecosystems and animal habitats

Hello people.

Life is moving along.

Peter is recovering from his cornea transplant.

He’s been such a good and patient kid.

DSCN9983

He still needs drops four times a day, but now only needs to wear this guard at night.

We’re wrapping up nature quest.

DSCN0009

(Patrick playing in the creek at Cromwell Valley Park)

One more trail to go and we’ll be in the running for prizes at “Nature Quest Fest 2015” which is this coming weekend.

Learning goes on as it does.

During the month of October the littles and Pete are studying  biomes, first terrestrial and then we’ll take a dive into the aquatic for a week or two.

This week its a little bit of both with study of wetlands.

We’re talking about:

  • Climate: how it affects the specific ecosystem, the types of plants and animals that can live there
  • Biodiversity: examples of how everything relies on everything else
  • Adaptations:  how  animals and plant adaptations are suited to their habitat
  • Biomes: different types of ecosystems within each biome designation (rainforest vs. deciduous, salt marsh vs. swamp, etc.)

We’re reading about them.

DSCN9982

We’re watching videos about them:

SWAMPED.

“The Magic School Bus Gets Swamped”

and

bill_nye_wetalnds

“Bill Nye the Science Guy: Wetlands”

For a social studies tie-in we’re learning about famous deserts, wetlands, grassland, forest and rain forests in North America.

This week we’re watching these videos:

Nature Wonders : Everglades USA

Realm of the Alligator (Okefenokee swamp)

Bee is researching and marking the famous places on our map of the United States.

DSCN9986

Friday, the plan is to wrap up the wetland study with a visit to Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary which Lily marked out on our Maryland highway map.

DSCN9987

 

 

Huffing Felines and Project Updates

Hello.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Friday.

Today is a kid free day, and also a day to get some work done, including caulking around the tub.

I know, I know, its a charmed life.

I can feel your jealousy from here.

It’s not always this glamorous.

This is mouse.

mousy

(picture of me, holding my cat, she wants nothing of it)

Mouse is a bit weird.

That’s ok, she fits in.

One of the things that makes her weird, is her enjoyment of inhalants and other substances not usually enjoyed by housecats.

She goes crazy over/tries to eat:

  • smelly junk mail, especially if  its sealed with rubber cement
  • magazines, especially if they have perfume inserts
  • glue
  • my herbal tea
  • new paint
  • coffee

As of today I can add bathroom caulk to the list.

I began to caulk and she ran into the bathroom with a wild look of ecstasy.

“I can has caulk??”

“No.”

I shut her out of the bathroom.

Shutting the door made me feel rather light headed, but better that then having to explain her substance abuse issues to the vet.

She’s sulking now.

I should update you guys on some of our ongoing projects.

First off,

The closed terrarium

DSCN0001

It.  has been sealed over  a month and as predicted is happy and has grown. There have been at least two generations of little gnats living in there as well.

Speaking of insects, next we have:

The pollinator garden

We’re getting quite a few insect visitors.

gaillardia4  gaillardia7DSCN0004

The Bee Houses

Leaf cutter bees moved in next door to our  mason bees. DSCN0011

The mason bee make a smooth mud covering, while leaf cutter are lumpy.

 

sweet potatoes

DSCN0003

We have several plants, all from one potato:

DSCN0002

 

nature quest

We recently completed both trails at Oregon Ridge, and the trail at Marshy Point.  Here we are at Marshy Point looking at an Eastern box turtle spotted by Tessa.

uslookingatturtle

Kevin, a new, and rapidly becoming a very important person in my life, took the above photo. I don’t blog about love. Maybe I should.

Anyhow, here’s the box turtle:

DSCN9994

Marshy point has a neat nature center, that includes a free roaming duck.

That’s it for project updates.

Time to get back to the chores.

Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Loss and a waterfall (Wednesday picture diary)

Hey guys, I have updates and news to share. Soon… This morning, I was very saddened to hear one of my Quora friends, Murat Morrison died in an truck accident yesterday. He helped us tremendously with our van problem, and was always a source of encouragement both on and off Quora. And…I have nothing else to say. Here, have some pictures from today.  This spot is a 20 minute drive from our house. DSCN0012 DSCN0023 DSCN0029 DSCN9989 DSCN9992 DSCN9998

Closed Terrarium Project

Our first closed terrarium (made out of a gallon juice container) stayed sealed for two years before the plant died.

This year we’re trying a glass container with a better seal.

Educational value can be found in a mini demonstration of the water cycle, discussion of plant respiration, ongoing observation, discussion and problem solving. Children of all ages can help out with this great and simple family project.

Materials:

  • small rocks for drainage (3.99 USD)
  • sphagnum moss (2.99 USD for a very large bag)
  • activated charcoal (from pet store, I’ve had it so long, I can’t recall the price)
  • potting soil (varies, I used left over from our planters)
  • small tropical house plant with low to medium water needs, generously pre-watered (important, no other watering happens- 5.99 USD)
  • Glass Jar (got this one at michaels, 9.99 USD)

We started by  putting drainage rocks in the bottom of our jar.

DSCN0060

then a layer of sphagnum moss to separate the layers.

DSCN0053

then came a layer of activated charcoal. (keeps mold away)

DSCN0064

and finally the soil and plant.

DSCN0066

We closed it up and wrote the date it was sealed on a piece of tape on the lid.

If all goes well, it should last awhile, filling the jar and dying back a few times. Our previous one was kept in the kitchen, but this time we’re placing it in the living room.

There is already a good bit of condensation on the glass, before long it will trickle down to the soil.

DSCN0069

I plan to do a one, three, six, and annual update if it goes as expected. If it doesn’t we can hypothesize about what went wrong and adjust for next time.

DSCN0070

Have you ever kept a closed terrarium? How did it go?

———————————————————————–

Like what you see? Please consider subscribing via the options in the menu to the right. Are you able to help us out? Please see the Patreon link in the top menu.

Oregon Ridge Nature Quest (Wednesday Picture Diary)

Morning!

I think I’ll begin using Wednesdays to share pictures/what we’ve been up to.

Yesterday we traveled a half hour north to “Oregon Ridge Park” for a picnic, nature center visit, and Nature Quest Hike.

DSCN0010

 

DSCN0034

I love the tallness of the trees here. The general mood of the forest is a good one and the weather was perfect. On the edges, Mountain Laurel was in full bloom.

DSCN0015

Our finds: Robin Egg shell, flowering bud, a snail shell. Spotted: chipmunk, frog, minnows

DSCN0035 DSCN0036

Our hike (moderate/hard rating) involved several stream crossings and steep hills. The kids really earned this one.

DSCN0045DSCN0039

Release the Frogs!

Happy Monday, and Memorial day/bank holiday  for everyone celebrating.

We’re on our final week of break before we start the new school year.

Yep.

Time to get back to it.

We’re switching to year round now, but only 4 days a week.  My eldest and I managed that schedule for years so I know its workable.  It will, I hope, give me more open Fridays for writing.

As most of my weekends are kid free,I like to spend the lion’s share of them alone at home doing things I don’t usually have time for, and enjoying much needed solitary time.

Saturday my to-do list had :

  • write
  • groceries
  • release the frogs

Have you ever had that on a to-do list?

The  tadpoles from a week and a half ago developed into frogs quickly so I decided to not wait for the kids to come back to release them.  I grabbed the portable pet cage and drove them back.  Water is heavy so it was slow waddle from the parking lot to the pond.

A man out for a walk  came by, looking confused/interested. “Hello!!!!!:” I called super cheery (like “Flo” from progressive commercials level cheery) “Well hello!”

He passed without  another word.

I wonder what he was thinking.

Finding a good shallow spot I dumped them out and watched them. They were doing generally exploratory happy froggy things.

I began to think, will someone think I’m dumping a pet??

My plan, if so, was to defend myself saying “they’re indigenous,

indigenous (repeating for emphasis) !!! They belong here! And anyway -it was educational!”

No one asked.

I once raised non indigenous frogs from tadpole to frog.

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Jeremy lived rather long lives.

We don’t like to talk about what they did to Kermit.

I’d like to say its was science-y educational reasons but no, it was on my bucket list. I have a mental list of things I’ve wanted to do in my life. Raising frogs, butterflies, and chickens are on it. I’ve managed all three. I raised chickens back when I lived in West Virginia, from peeping mail order chicks in a baby pool to grown laying hens in a portable pen. It was generally rewarding save for the killer dogs and foxes.  One time we even had surprise llamas. Butterflies are much easier.

It occurs to me that my bucket list may be a bit unique.

As far as our spring project list goes….

  • The pollinator garden planned for this year is growing ever so slowly.  The seeds we got from Green Fest  have not germinated, save one unidentified sprout.  One type of flower is blooming. Itty bitty ants like it.

DSCN0016

Another is getting ready to:

DSCN0017

  • We’ve had more orchard bees lay eggs in the houses. I’m hoping we also get some leaf cutter bees over the summer.

DSCN0013 DSCN0014

  • Our sweet potato are taking extra long to develop. I need to get them out in the planters and growing by June if there is to be anything to harvest by October.
  • I have the supplies for the new closed terrarium. That will be a step by step post when that is completed (some time within the week).

With Spring out of way, Summer plans are coming into view, which include

  • growing things in petri dishes
  • swimming at the waterfall/Patapsco
  • more nature Quest Hikes
  • keeping on with the Butterfly survey

Growing things in petri dishes is another bucket list thing, but at least I have the excuse of a teen studying microbiology.

Do you have a bucket list? (written or merely in your mind) What is one  you’d like to do but haven’t gotten to yet?  (comment below)

——————————————————————————————————————————

As always, if you enjoyed this post- please subscribe, options are to the right. If you’d like to help us out, please check out our patreon link in the top menu- thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality tv, Freaks, Sifaka and Traumatic Haiku

Morning 🙂

Thank you for all the kind comments on my last post. I am thinking of scheduling another walk for next week.

Do you all watch reality tv? I don’t, so I wasn’t much use in this past week’s #filmdis discussion on the topic. I have seen snippets of them here and there and fighting and high drama seems to be a common element.

Another is novelty.

My son Aidan says that while our family may be novel we simply aren’t interesting or screamy.

We’d make for excruciatingly boring reality tv.

We’re on our month break for schooling before summer session starts. I’ve been planning out 9th grade for the eldest which will include microbiology, geometry, ancient rhetoric, world history, and creative writing.

I’ve also been working on putting finishing touches on my paper and my talk I’ll be presenting at a Sherlockian symposium in a little less that a month, as well as book on nature study. I want to announce more about that soon and am also contemplating setting up a site for more serious writing about media representation of invisible disability.  Right now I’m re-reading  “Pop Culture Freaks: Identity Mass Media and Society, and “How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing through media influence.”

That’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s not particularly trend setting  or Kardashian-esque  I  know.

Other highlights this week:

This past Sunday we went to the Maryland zoo, which though only about 5 miles away, we’ve never been to before.

DSCN0053

I have mixed feelings about zoos and keeping wild animals in captivity, especially those  cognitively complex enough to have awareness. (to know, “this isn’t my home”, “this isn’t what my home should be like”, “I’m lonely”…etc)

DSCN0097

The sifaka lemurs seemed pretty content.

The leopard on the other hand…miserably pacing a small circle ( worn down into a groove), I felt for him.

Monday I organized the spare room into a study for myself.

I also gave “shiny armor” a new hairdo. Tessa was unappreciative.

DSCN0123

 

Tuesday I had to remove a very much alive and frightened mouse from my kitchen sink. I wrote a haiku, to commemorate the occasion:

“Not in my job description”

Twas in my sink
it is now relocated
cat is on notice

Wednesday we went to “Font Hill Wetlands Park” for our biweekly butterfly count.  However it was cooler and breezy and not one butterfly fluttered by.

DSCN0138

The paths were covered in helicopter seeds. Lily gathered up a few to bring home to use in the confetti cannon she made this week. We also gathered tadpoles for observation. They are loving lettuce and betta food.

DSCN0152 DSCN0169

Today will be more writing, planning, and cleaning. Tonight starts our summer schedule where the kids will spend Friday-Sunday with their Dad.

Tomorrow is the autism positivity flash blog, which I hope to do something for.

And that’s it.

Hope everyone is doing well.