Friday, September 4, 2015

Discovery

Was out in the garden (read jungle) today picking roma tomatoes and happened upon a baby bunny and then another one and then a third.
Retreated quickly.
Grabbed the phone.
texted my oldest child.
snuck back for pictures



curious little bunny came to see the camera

I am a bit worried for these babies. There are three dogs in my house. Mama bunny what were you thinking? There is a fence to keep the dogs out of the garden and that usually works. And mama bunny no doubt thought she was very clever putting the nest up in a garden bed. The cover is good, they are concealed by a literal jungle... but I'm worried for them all the same. They are so very cute!







Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bitsy's cookies

Mlyons wanted to make cookies.
I purchased butter, eggs, and a Divine chocolate bar for her to smash up into pieces because I can't find a chocolate morsels supplier that is without a doubt not sourcing from questionable sources. (chocolate, apparently involves child labor, often: slave child labor. as in kidnapped. or sold. and smuggled across boarders. I just can't unlearn that.)

Mlyons had some friends over, and then she got 1/2 way through the cookie dough recipe, and then went to a friends to sleep over.

Dry ingredients mixed in one bowl, butter & sugar mixed in another - and boom - she is out the door. I have to take a son to soccer. Stay & talk a few minutes. Left Bitsy (8 years old) and Little Hawk (5 years old) home with Dragon (13 years old.) Arrive home, decide to finish the cookies so I can get it all off the counter. Taste. hmmm. taste salt...

Little Hawk enters the kitchen with Bitsy on his heels. "Um guys how much cookie dough did you taste?"

Bitsy: one
me: one what?
Bitsy: spoonful
me: no, it tastes like you took more than a spoonful
Little Hawk very helpful: oh, that is because she put in salt.
me: what?
Bitsy staring at me
me: Bitsy?
Bitsy staring
me: Bitsy this isn't funny. What did you put in?
Bitsy: just a little bit of salt.
me: how much?
Bitsy: two cups.
me: show me.
Bitsy points to the 1/4 tsp spoon.

well that is a relief

I add another 1/2 cup of flour, a little sugar - taste. Nope. still way wrong.

me: Bitsy, it doesn't taste right, how much did you put in.
Bitsy: 6
me: 6?
Bitsy:10
me: 10?

me: are you sure are you just saying that?
Bitsy: I'm sure.
me: you counted?
Bitsy: yup

and this is where I have no idea if that is the truth or if she is completely disconnected from what happened.

I add 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup of butter.
taste. still off.
some more of all of the above.

better. I think? my taste buds are fried and I don't feel very good anymore.

Damn it - I just wasted a ton of eggs. Are you aware eggs prices are rising at a ridiculous rate due to avian flu? mmm hmmm. And butter. Isn't cheap either. And don't forget that Divine Chocolate bar...

Dear Bitsy; I write these things so when you tell me I am exaggerating later in life I can google your stories and print them out for you. You are cute and funny and totally a handful.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yay for Beach Week


Once again the family headed to the Shipyard in Hilton Head, South Carolina for a week. It is a beautiful place.

It also has Alligators. We love the alligators. They are a novelty to us - don't see them in Tidewater Virginia very often. We respect them, we keep our distance, and the kids really get a kick out of seeing them.

the shipyard, hilton head, 2015, alligator, south carolina
Practically the back yard, we can see this big guy from the condo's porch

Gator is in there, look closely
Alligator, South Carolina, Shipyard, Hilton Head, football, don't litter
yes, that is a football
There was a football in the water. The gator saw it and decided to try it. It seemed to have gotten stuck on the gator's tooth. It sat in that spot with a football in it's mouth all day. Just before dark it managed to let the ball go. We went and retrieved the ball so no other animal would decide to eat it.

stuck, gator, alligator, football, hilton head, shipyard, 2015

Don't throw stuff in the water. You never know who or what will decide to try it. I was worried about that gator, if it had swallowed the ball it might have really hurt itself.

love watching the black birds dry their wings
I'm not a birder, I think that bird might be a Comorant? They have webbed feet and they walk in the water, presumably to fish. When we take bike rides we see them drying their wings. It is one of my favorite sights.

We spent our time at the beach, at the pool, and biking. There was one golf outing but the kids can golf at home so it isn't a big deal.

I have never really understood the lure of the pool when you have an ocean available. But my kids love it. Especially when they are little. So we'd head out to the beach in the morning, come back mid afternoon when it was too hot, and hit the pool.

Hilton Head, Pool, Shipyard, Kingston Cove, Island Management
Splishin' Splashin'


And we ride our bikes. A lot. We really don't ride bicycles as a family very much the rest of the year but we pack in a lot of bike hours during our beach week. I think all the kids have learned to ride their bikes in Hilton Head!

bike riding, shipyard, hilton head, bike lights, 2015, kids on bikes
riding home for supper


On the days it rained we played poker (for candy) and Yahtzee. And read books. I picked up
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. I hadn't heard anything about it and was standing in the CVS looking at a bunch of Romances (ugh) and found it. I grew up on Clancy (yes, I skipped all the technical references) and am a fan of Vince Flynn and I enjoy a good spy novel. So I thought I'd give it a try. So glad I did.

We are now all home in one piece and I'm supposed to be filing paper work and tidying up loose ends before school starts. Bah Humbug.

linking up with Smiling Sally for Blue Monday 




Monday, August 17, 2015

Lunch Bunch

Last year I organized a group of 9 girls at the elementary school and we got together during lunch and the idea was to talk about women in Virginia History.

How did this happen?
When Mlyons was in 3rd grade she asked repeatedly to homeschool. I didn't really get why she was asking and I asked her to finish the year and then we'd talk about. Turns out she was in a room with some severe behavior problems and lots of disruption. The teacher herself said "I don't know how any of the kids learned anything this year." The teacher had been instructed by the administration to just ignore the behaviors and continue teaching.
I did consider homeschool M. She is bright and motivated and it would probably work out fine. But I was concerned about her missing out - not socially as in she'd have no social life. But socially in that at school she has the opportunity to make friends with people that she other wise might not meet. We live in a gated community. I like that. My husband travels a lot. She dances ballet. She has 5 other siblings so we don't do a lot of play dates during the year and in the winter we spend a lot of time in the mountains skiing with a very privileged group of people. Not really anything wrong with any of that - but it doesn't make for a very well rounded world view.
Around this time I attended my college reunion (Mount Holyoke, class of '94) and noticed that much of the social bonding across majors and interests happened in small groups usually based on living quarters. People ate together regularly or hung out together in their floor's social space in the dorm.
And I was reading several articles that focused on research showing the importance of diversity in school - racially & economically. I put a lot of stock into this because I found my upbringing (military - moving all the time and being around kids with many different backgrounds and world views) to be an important part of who I am today.
So - I asked my daughter if she would stay in school if I organized a lunch group. And she said yes. SO - I organized a lunch group with two things in mind, that it be a diverse group of girls but that they all be "academic." I wanted the nerds. [The long term idea is that these friendships will come to play in middle school when social pressure makes it harder for some students to continue in the advanced classes. By the time the kids get to High School, at least at the High School we are zoned for, the demographics of race and economic advantage are pretty apparent in GPA, awards, recognition etc.]
In Virginia in 4th grade the SOLs include Virginia History. Virginia History is some of the richest history in the nation. We have the original nation, we have Jamestown, we have the Colonial Era, Plantation Era, the capital of the Confederacy was here, I think 8 different US presidents were Virginian. But historically, the voice of the white male is what we learn. I wanted to bring in some other voices. Specifically female voices. We talked Pocohantas who the Mattaponi called a "Peace symbol" and they claim she was kidnapped, raped and murdered. (I didn't get into the rape and murder with 4th graders.) We talked about Christiana Campbell who ran a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. We talked about Martha Washington and her slave Ona Judge. We talked about Lucy Goode Brooks.  And then we ran out of time. We also ate cupcakes a lot and played "Apples to Apples" and a version of "Pictionary."
We lost one of our students over the summer to another school. Her parents opted to send her to HRA, Hampton Roads Academy, by all accounts an excellent school.
We may loose another this fall to a move.
We have one who I can't tell if I should keep in the group. She was invited initially to keep the peace. Her friends are in the group. Somehow I need to keep the group small enough to do its job, create bonds of friendship, without being exclusive. But she was very uninterested in the discussions last year. Its obvious she doesn't want to be there but she doesn't want to be left out. It doesn't help that her mother has a lot of social klout so the other mom's want their kids to be friends with this kid, but she (the mom) won't take any social risk and encourage her kid to be inclusive. That rubs me the wrong way and I'm trying hard to separate my emotional reaction out of the equation. As this is all happening simultaneously with my 8 year old struggling rather significantly with racial identity - it is very hard not to take in personally.
At any rate, we've added two to the group and so as it stands will start off 5th grade with 10 girls. 2 are international from different continents. 3 are black. 4 are white from a privileged neighborhood. 1 is white from outside the neighborhood.
The big SOL topic in 5th grade is science. I think mostly life science. So my task over the next two weeks is to research women scientists. Your suggestions are welcome! Thanks in advance.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Jersey Dragon

I was driving in New Jersey recently taking the kid I refer to as "Dragon" to Sejong Camp. And just as we were almost there we passed this awesome dragon:

welding, weld, dragon, sculpture, metal, cool dragon, dragon sculpture, blairstown, new jersey, ny

and I pulled over to get a couple snapshots on the phone

welding, weld, dragon, sculpture, metal, cool dragon, dragon sculpture, blairstown, new jersey, ny


welding, weld, dragon, sculpture, metal, cool dragon, dragon sculpture, blairstown, new jersey, ny

welding, weld, dragon, sculpture, metal, cool dragon, dragon sculpture, blairstown, new jersey, ny

So I'm hopeful that this guardian of wisdom is an omen that my Dragon is having fun at camp.

I'm playing off the blue sky and including this in Smiling Sally's Blue Monday linkup 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lil Monster

I was out walking on a great trail in Williamsburg. I don't know if it has a name, it is the trail that runs around WISC, the sports complex. The littles were at a soccer camp and after dropping them off I took the German Shepherd out for a lovely run/walk. We stopped when we saw this beauty:


larva, regal moth, hickory horned devil, citheronia regalis, williamsburg, virginia


I put my hand next to it so you could see how big it is!
That is one large bug.
I follow a young lady on Instagram called @bchkid https://instagram.com/bchkid/?hl=en
she is an entomologist and she identified the little beastie as a
Citheronia Regalis



also called a regal moth or a hickory horned devil, here is a bit more on the Citheronia Regalis in case you are interested

I'm sharing this with A Southern Day Dreamer's Outdoor Wednesday crew

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cucumbers, Pickles, the Garden is a Jungle this Year!

Because my shoulder was feeling awful this spring, I stayed out of the garden. Didn't help with any planting. I was purposefully staying away from any activity that I might get over involved in because that is what I do: I enjoy the moment and then realize later I've hurt myself. So no gardening. My oldest very much enjoys the garden, she likes living things, anything she can watch grow. And she was very involved in the planting so I tend to ask her what in the world do we have here? Because really... what in the world?

cucumbers, kids in the kitchen, whigs & tories strawberry swing top, tea tiger shirt
monster sized cucumbers

It would seem that someone chose "lemon cucumbers" These ones are humongous due to the rain. So in June we picked them before they turned to rot. But when I sliced off a taste they were sour. So we decided to try our hand at refrigerator pickles. Bitsy & Little Hawk were very helpful.


They wanted to cut the slices. Yep she's a lefty. Yep that is a THICK pickle. Yep it ended up tasting fine.


It wasn't the articles that German's let their kids use knives that has me allowing my 5 year old to slice & dice in the kitchen. It was the ones that talked about how kids who are allowed to use a knife (or other tools) have fewer accidents with tools because they learn to be safe with them. I'm supervising - his fingers are far from his knife - he is holding the knife correctly - he is being safe. It is something some of the parents I know (and several social workers I know) should think about. At what age is it really okay, and is it that you don't feel like supervising or is it that you really think it isn't safe to let your kid in the kitchen? He is very proud that he was able to help make the pickles.

kids in kitchen, refrigerator pickles, whigs & tories strawberry swing top
following the recipe



mix it all up then put into Bell Jars
We made these pickles at the end of June. My husband and the 4 older kids were away. They came home July 2nd and we asked them to try our pickles. BIG HIT.

This week K made some for her best buddy & her family.


I cannot find the blog I originally go the recipe from, but here is a similar recipe: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/pj63d54y/easy-refrigerator-pickles.html'

6 c. thinly sliced cucumber
2 c. thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

we were not exact in our measurements. It seems to be forgiving.