Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're back!

A little emotionally and psychologically beaten, battered and bruised but none too worse for the wear. Shortcake brought back a scary illness that mimicked the symptoms of the UTI that landed her in the hospital when she was younger, but after a trip to the ER turned out to be just a crazy little virus. (I was so hoping maybe she was just allergic to South Texas thereby giving me an excuse to avoid it, but no.) Here's hoping it doesn't sweep through the rest of the family.

Sunshine had to have a dozen splinters picked out of her hand after touching a cedar fence and BigBoy lost a corner of his big toenail, but other than all that... we are good and happy to be in our home with our Daddy who missed us tremendously but distracted himself with repainting the bathroom doors and replacing the handles. Yeah! (No more SURPRISE peeks from BigBoy!)

I will be holed up here for a little while trying to whip our routine back into shape, processing all of the thoughts floating around in my head and catching up on all I missed. Boy... you gals have been busy!

It is good to be home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September Book Club

25 swan beaks + 1 glue gun on the fritz = 2 burned fingers + 1 new aloe vera plant

I haven't posted much about this month's edition of the homeschool book club because I am not the primary presenter this time around, but I did get to have some fun figuring out how to simplify a craft idea for the younger kids. The Big Kids are reading The Trumpet of the Swan and the Little Kids are reading this version of The Ugly Duckling. One of the girls in the older group suggested E.B. White's classic tale and wanted the opportunity to lead the discussion. She has come up with a few questions, an interesting experiment in communication, a snack idea (watercress sandwiches) and a craft (origami swans). I look forward to seeing her ideas come to life and I hope I get a chance to try my hand at some origami!

The Little Kids are going to be listening to their story, talking about Hans Christian Anderson and learning a little about Denmark. Danish Butter Cookies are on the snack menu and one of these little guys will be going home with each little person.
The original idea came from Kathy Ross's Crafts From You Favorite Fairy Tales. The kids in this group are very young so I simplified it to what you see above. One adult white sock with eyes drawn on in Sharpie marker ... did you know you had to be 18 to buy Sharpie markers? No, I didn't actually get carded. The little girl behind the counter did ask if I was over 18 and then kind of snickered. Thanks darlin'!... anyway, where was I? One paper plate, cut in half and stapled together just at the corners of the cut side to make a pita pocket shape. Cover it with cotton balls (or feathers if you want) to make it fluffy.
Make two triangles of felt (one black, one orange) with rounded bottoms, using a mini-party hat template.
Cut out a notch in the orange felt, round the point of the orange piece and cut off about one inch of the tip of the black piece (so it won't be seen poking out of the finished beak). Glue the orange piece just below the top edge of the black one.

Roll the beak into a cone shape (orange on the outside) and secure with glue. I was in a hurry and needed to make a lot of these so I used hot glue. I had no idea the gun was going to go wonky on me. I have a pretty, new white glue gun now with a working thermostat set just below "searing" thankyouverymuch! You can use Alene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue if you want to, if fact, that is what we are going to use to attach them to the socks. All you need is a thick bead around the inside edge.

The wings are an "if we have time" option, otherwise they can be added at home later. Crafts with little hands are so cute. Shortcake's were traced on card stock and glued to the inside of the paper plate.

We hope to get some suggestions from the Big Kids about future presentations and are going to discuss changing the format a little so that we don't overlap with some awesome feast day celebrations some other moms have planned.

That's what we are up to today. Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Padre Pio's Feast Day

Back before BigBoy came along, the older children and I were living in South Texas with my mom while Husband was working here in North Texas. We were trying to sell our house and thought it would happen faster with the primary sources of chaos and disaster (3 children under the age of 5) located at the opposite end of the state. While I was there (feeling my sanity slowly slip away), I decided to distract myself busy our days with some dabbling in this crazy adventure called "home education". The Professor was four already; he should have been conjugating Latin verbs and composing his first symphony, right? (snicker) We also tried to make some connections with other homeschoolers in the area for some of that "socialization" that we all know homeschooled children lack. (snort)

I don't remember how I got "Linda's" number, but somehow I did and she invited me to some home school activities based out of a church across town including the upcoming All Saints Party. Everyone was supposed to bring some candy and a game or activity. I signed up for "Pin the Halo on the Saint".

All I had was a few holy cards, my large sketchpad and some yellow sticky notes (this was back when my hazard lights were flashing in the slow lane of the information super highway). It had been years since I had tried to do a pencil portrait so it must have been the Holy Spirit guiding my hand as I picked up that sketchpad and pencil. I looked through the holy cards and chose Padre Pio. Many nights during that time I found myself praying his "Don't Worry" prayer. (He was also pictured in profile so I thought he would be easier.) I drew the portrait which turned out surprisingly accurate, made halos out of the sticky notes and headed off to the party.

Well, it turned out to be one of those nights. The kids were fussy and my mom was fussy was feeling neglected so we decided to pack up St. George's sword, Helena's cross and Agnes' fuzzy little lamb and leave before the games got going. We had already had enough fun for one evening.

Most of the group, including Linda was in another room in the parish hall, so when I saw her husband step into the game room to grab the diaper bag, I asked him to please tell Linda we would have to leave early. He asked if I was taking the game with me. Well, of course I wasn't. I hoped the children would play the game and then, remembering how Linda had admired it when I taped it to the wall, I asked her husband to please offer it to her with my thanks for her kindness. A strange expression crept over his face and he said,"You know... she's going to cry." Hmmmmm. I didn't know my new friend was of a more sensitive nature but I figured that was his problem, not mine. : )

When the phone rang the next day, I didn't expect that the faucets would still be running. Linda was very emotional and thanked me profusely for the portrait. Really, it wasn't that good. Beards are very hard to do well and have you ever seen that man's nose? But this sweet, sobbing lady had a story to tell so I listened.

Her daughter "Laura" had been born with a very rare heart condition. The doctors had convinced her to try a risky surgical procedure. The surgery had been attempted before on others, but had not been successful. Unfortunately, without a successful surgery, the condition would be fatal. The day of the surgery, a friend had dropped off a pewter relic medal of the newly canonized St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Linda had never heard of this amazing saint, but grasping onto any and all hope, she asked the doctor if she could pin the medal to Laura's surgical gown. He agreed and then even allowed Linda to come in and kiss her unconscious daughter as she lay on the table ready for operation.

"Where is my miracle girl?" the doctor shouted as he burst into the hospital room the next day. He confessed he had not expected the surgery to succeed. They had allowed Laura special privileges (the medal and the kiss) only because the little girl's chance of survival was so slim. He explained to Linda when he let her kiss Laura, he believed she was kissing her goodbye.

Laura's medical information was documented in journals and at that time, Linda was told her daughter was the only patient to have survived the surgical procedure that corrected the condition. She credited the miracle to Padre Pio, a saint she knew nothing about. Prayers of thanksgiving were offered, the medal was saved in a special place and Linda delighted in seeing her little girl romp and play like a normal child.

The story could end there, but it doesn't.

One day, as she and Laura were flipping through a book of saints the little girl saw for the first time a color picture of the saint whose intercession had saved her life. "Mommy, that's the man who played with me" she said.

"What dear?" her mother stammered.

"That man. He played with me when I got cut." This was Laura's childish way of referring to her frightening ordeal. "He told me not to be afraid and played with me. Then I woke up."

Linda cried.

She assured me this child had never seen a picture of this great man, had never even heard his name or his story. Linda herself didn't know much about him other than he was a new saint in Heaven and that she had pinned all of her hopes and fears on his intercession when she pinned that medal on her little girl's gown.

He not only came through... he was there.

Photo credit: JesusMosaics

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hey Mom!

Picture me without my arm! Um... no, thank you.

(Actually, that's BigBoy's way of telling me he wants his picture taken.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feast of St. Andrew Kim and the Martyrs of Korea

We have been enjoying all of the wonderful books we picked up from our local library with Korean themes, but by far, three of them have so quickly made their way into our hearts that returning them to the library is going to be painful. The first one that I have been torturing Sunshine with (or so she would say) by withholding it until today is The Princess and the Beggar. It is a truly lovely tale about the littlest princess in the palace whose sensitive nature earns her the nickname The Weeping Princess. She treasures her quiet moments filled with books, study and poetry. When she insists that she would rather marry the beggar who lives in the valley than marry the nobleman he father has chosen, she is banished from the palace. She and her beggar husband help each other change through kindness and gentleness for the better.

The girls were very interested in learning more about the traditional costume of Korea so we checked out this site but got really excited when we found a Korean Hanbok Paper Doll (scroll down to the September 9th entry). Of course, we had to make our own little Weeping Princess. These were based on the drawings in the book.

The Professor made the flag in the picture above using a Korean flag coloring page. The other two books that were big hits were The Royal Bee (based on the experiences of the author's grandfather) and The Trip Back Home. Both worthy of a look or two if you ask my kids!

I did serve rice pudding with our tea this afternoon although it was nowhere near authentic Yak-Sik. The kids liked it but not as much as they enjoyed the Maple Syrup Korean Teriyaki Chicken. I served it on a bed of brown rice and steamed shredded cabbage. Would you believe I shaped the rice and cabbage into a yin-yang symbol to match the flag even though I don't have a picture to prove it? Yeah. I did. Nobody noticed.

St. Andrew Kim, St. Paul Chong and all the Martyrs of Korea...
Pray for us!
O God, You have created all nations and You are their salvation. In the land of Korea Your call to Catholic faith formed a people of adoption, whose growth You nurtured by the blood of Andrew, Paul and their companions. Through their martyrdom and their intercession grant us strength that we too may remain faithful to your commandments even until death. Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lots of Stuff!

First, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to tell me what you think of the new look around here. I really appreciated it! For some reason, I can paint a room without needing any advice or input, but when it comes to this computer thing, I get nervous. : ) Thanks again!

And speaking of comments...

Check out who showed up in the combox on this post. TELEPROMPTER GUY MIKE! Some of you have noticed that my review of Signing Time Series 2 Volumes 1-3 showed up in the newsletter and on their ordering website. Rachel asked if they could quote me and of course I said "YES!" being more than willing to help further the promotion of these great shows. They are still being requested everyday in our house. I hope everyone is enjoying them as we are.

Lastly, I have fallen behind in my Library Night posts which I am sorry you have to suffer through, but I really need them as a way of remembering what we have checked out and what we haven't. Shortcake is notorious for asking months later, "Can we get that book that we got that one time about the cat? You know. The one with the blue cover and the yellow letters?" Sorry sweetie, if you can't give mommy even part of a title or name, you are out of luck! So if you are interested, have fun and if not, you can skip the rest!

Technically, the kids and I have been having more library days as Husband's nights have been busy lately. The other day, I was looking for some books on Korea since we are going to celebrate St. Andrew Kim's feast day tomorrow (lots of reading, talking, tea, maybe a version of Yak-Sik and some Maple Syrup Korean Teriyaki Chicken served over shredded cabbage for dinner).

This library visit was mostly about looking for some specific books instead of our usual perusing so the kids hunkered down at the children's magazine rack to wait. Cricket and Ladybug, National Geographic for Kids and Ranger Rick delighted them but also kept them quiet and in one place! The Professor got his first glimpse of Boys' Life and liked what he saw! Here is what I found on our outing plus a few extras:

Books with a Korean theme:
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo by Linda Walvoord Girard
Korea by Patricia Kummer
Culture in North & South Korea by Melanie Guile
The Princess and the Beggar: A Korean Folktale by Anne Sibley O'Brien (such a beautiful story!)
Halmoni's Day by Edna Coe Bercaw
Jin Woo by Eve Bunting (another adoption story)
The Trip Back Home by Janet S. Wong
The Royal Bee by Frances and Ginger Park

Other books that leaped into our basket:
Crinkleroot's Guide to Walking in Wild Places by Jim Arnosky (we discovered Crinkleroot the last time we went to the library which I just realized I didn't post about... grrr! argh!... I think it was Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees and he is our new best friend!)
The Dewey Decimal Stystem by Allan Fowler (to aid our future perusing)
Meet Josefina by Valerie Tripp (we have only met Molly and Kirsten so far)
Horseback Riding by Gail B. Stewart (Shortcake is getting ready for her pony riding birthday... in November!)
Let's Add Coins by Kelly Doudna
The Kitten Caper by Carolyn Keene (Sunshine's fluff)
Bill Nye the Science Guy: Planets (BigBoy calls it "Bill and I, the science guys")

And since I realized I forgot to post last weeks books (and we still have most of them checked out), for the sake of my record keeping, here they are in no particular order:

The Zoo by Jaqueline Laks Gorman
A Sampler of Colonial Life: With Projects Kids Can Make by Mary Cobb
Making Fleece Crafts by Judy Ann Sadler
The Grapes Of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang
Easysteps to Riding and Horse Care by Nicole Smith
Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral by Kat Shehata (I had no idea they were related!)
William Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki
Horses! by Gail Gibbons (love her illustrations!)
Crafts From Felt by Huguette Kirby
Embroidery by Judy Ann Sadler
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory based on the original character by Margaret and H.A. Hey
Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick
Crocheting by Gwen Blakley Kinsler and Jackie Young
Eyewitness NASCAR by James Buckley, Jr.
Machines by Andrew Haslam
The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons
Four Friends in Autumn by Tomie dePaola
Flight by Andrew Haslam
The Secret Garden (audiobook) by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wheels of Time: a Biography of Henry Ford by Catherine Gourley
Henry Ford by Rafael Tilton
Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola (Sunshine's second favorite TdP book!)
The Parables of Jesus illustrated by Tomie dePaola
National Audobon Society First Field Guide: Trees by Brian Cassie
Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng
Math Riddles by Harriet Ziefert
Tell Me, Tree... by Gail Gibbons
Tree by David Burnie
Bill and Pete by Tomie dePaola
Mary: the Mother of Jesus by Tomie dePaola
Battle by Dr. Richard Holmes
Houses and Homes by John Williams

That's all for this week... um, last week... whatever.. for now! BYE!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What do you think?

If you are reading through Bloglines or Google Reader, please, please, please... take a sec and tell me what you think of the new template. Be gentle!

A Recipe For MommaLlama

We had some friends over last weekend who only asked for the following recipe but with a name like "MommaLlama", I couldn't resist a little bit of fun.

(With apologies to Deborah Guarino whose book is so loved in this house, the words roll off my tongue without even having to look at the pretty pages Steven Kellogg drew.)

"Is your mama a llama?" I asked my friend Bobcat.
"No she is not" he said while he sat.
"She makes us cool costumes and paints all my casts.
Do you think a llama could do something like that?"

"Oh," I said. "I understand now.
Your mama's creative. She makes people say WOW!"

"Is your mama a llama?" I asked my friend Bubba.
He shook his head no and ran off for the tub-ah.
(yelling back)"She goes camping and hiking and sleeps in a tent.
A llama won't fit in a tent with no vent."

"Oh" I said. "Now I see.
Your mama's adventurous." (Much more than me!)

"Is your mama a llama?" I asked my friend Snookie.
"No she is not... but she makes a great cookie!
She feeds me good food and plays trains on the floor
She'll even take us to see monster trucks roar."

"Oh," I said. "I see, in the end,
Your mama's no llama, but she is a nice friend!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Icebox Eclair

2 boxes (approx.) graham crackers
3 cups milk
2 (3.4 oz.) pkgs. vanilla instant pudding
1 (8 oz.) tub cream cheese
1 (8oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 can milk chocolate frosting

Arrange graham crackers in the bottom of a 13x9 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Combine milk, pudding mix and cream cheese in a bowl on low speed for about a minute or until thick. Fold in whipped topping. Spread half of pudding mixture over graham crackers and top with more graham crackers covering as much of the pudding as you can with a single layer of crackers. Repeat with remaining pudding mixture and top with a final layer of graham crackers.

Put frosting in microwave for 15 seconds to make it a thick glaze consistency. (Not too runny!) Stir. Pour over the top layer of graham crackers and cover dessert (tent with foil). Chill before serving.

I have made this recipe in the original form and the modified form you see here. Husband and I prefer the original version with the homemade glaze and the lower fat content, but the kids like this version best. The original Cooking Light version can be found here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday... Mr. Tomie dePaola! His birthday was on my calendar for Saturday, but the weekend got in the way so we are going to enjoy all of his wonderful stories and celebrate his birthday today. We will dress in white (it's Tomie's favorite color), make some popcorn (it's Tomie's favorite food), read Hitty: Her First Hundred Years (because it was Tomie's favorite book as a child) and say a prayer for this 73 year old man who was blessed by God with a talent that he has shared with the world in the form of many colorful and beautiful representations of stories from our Catholic faith. I am pretty sure that Tomie's pictures were dancing around Sunshine's head when Father J. read the Gospel yesterday. She told me later that all three parables (we got the long version) were in Tomie's book.

Happy Birthday Mr. dePaola! We hope you had a great day!

*Sunshine wanted me to add that her favorite Tomie dePaola book of all time is Tomie dePaola's Favorite Nursery Tales... and now I have. Bye!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On this day...

... in 1956, Play-doh was invented by Noah and Joseph McVicker. Originally intended to be wallpaper cleaner, Play-doh is one of those "succesful failures" like chocolate chip cookies. It was only available in off-white to begin with and sold in 1 1/2 lb. cans. Later that year, three more colors were introduced; red, yellow and blue. Today, kids have a choice of colors ranging from Paradise Purple to Garden Green. According to Hasbro, the current owners of Play-doh, the formula of the original compound remains a trade secret.

So play with some Play-doh today or go clean your wallpaper if you want to. Maybe try to make your own Play-doh and see if you can discover the secret recipe.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nature Pics

From our trip to the ponds~
(There was no time to identify anything except the mourning dove so please help if you can.)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Most Holy Name of Mary

Our day was hectic, but still lovely and everyone thoroughly enjoyed our "Mary Day". We opted for the watercolors and decorated Mary's names while BigBoy napped.
We made Double Kiss Cupcakes with blue sugar sprinkle M's. (Technically, they were single kiss cupcakes. Shhhhhh!) They say that great minds think alike. What do they say about minds that think in the photo negative of each other? Check out Margaret's beautiful cake and Margaret's beautiful Cate.

Well, they didn't really look like croissants but I have been assured that they taste delicious. They will be gobbled up for breakfast since they took longer than the 3 1/2 hours the recipe allotted and didn't finish baking until after dinner. There was no coffee and no moon cookies either thanks to headaches that have been coming and going around here. Today should be a nice quiet day. I hope yours is too!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

They're here!!!!!

OK. Call it bragging if you want to, but lunchtime was never as fun as it was today. Signing Time Series 2 arrived today. These were a belated birthday present ( for me, not the kids, tee hee) and they are finally here! And yes, those are signatures you see on one cover which impressed my kids so much. Rachel Coleman, Alex and Leah are rock stars in this house. My daughters have already discussed how cute Leah's new haircut is and how much Alex has grown. I have also heard Lucy's name shouted multiple times as they always do when her smiling face pops onto the screen. They love her as much as the other kids and are always happy to see her.

We have watched the first two and they have laughed out loud so many times now, I have lost count. Hopkins swallowing an alarm clock was the cause of much joy and jubilation. I am so pleased with the "new format". You will still hear the same catchy tunes only now you also get to hear a little more from Alex and Leah. They are up to their usual antics only now they are acting silly inside a real life tree house instead of just a virtual one. There is also the addition of ABC Time and Counting Time to allow for much needed practice and review. What I like best abut this new edition is the focus on conversational sign language and on the educational value of the lessons. My kids have been learning signs from Rachel and the gang for a while, but now, with this new series, they are really starting to put it all together. (Sunshine and Shortcake have already had a "nice to meet you" conversation and my only fear is that the next deaf child we meet is going to be accosted by them in their enthusiasm to make a new friend.) In fact, the new songs seem specifically geared towards practicing the new signs and building on them as the lesson goes on. I also noticed that Rachel makes quite an effort to sign just about everything she is saying which I think will help them learn even more signs and how to use them which my older children will definitely benefit from.

Story Time makes an appearance in Volume 2: Happy Birthday to You which prompted a forceful "SHHHHHHH!" from Sunshine. Rachel tells a story using the signs she has introduced in her typically captivating way. Mesmerized. Totally and completely!

I could go on and on, but I need to get started on the croissants and, well... they just turned on Volume 3. Bye!

P.S. Teleprompter Guy Mike is their new favorite person! Watch the ABC Song Competition in Volume 1 and you will see why. Now if we could just get HIS autograph...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Remember

Say a prayer for the lost and a prayer for those left.
Also, go see what Elizabeth is reading today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Most Holy Name of Mary - Plans

The only celebration of Our Lady's birthday we were able to muster around here on Saturday was a less than rousing but totally heartfelt rendition of "Happy Birthday" before bed and a much needed glass of wine for the grown ups. Usually I would have made a cake and had a little birthday party for our perfect little Mother in Heaven, but we were supposed to have guests and well... you know the rest. (see below)

To be totally honest, we have never had a big party for Mary's birthday in the past since we decided long ago to celebrate the Most Holy Name of Mary as Sunshine's nameday. She is named for the Blessed Virgin so when she was a chubby wee pink thing we chose the 12th as her nameday and asked Our Lovely Lady to guide her and keep her close.

Sunshine has always been my most easy going child who is always up for trying something new. This year, we are going to try our hand at making Turkish Crescents (croissants). To find out why you can check out what has to say about it here (along with the recipe) and here. Of course we will serve coffee (maybe even Viennese Coffee) with our croissants and, going with the "moon theme", possibly make some more Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies, if time permits, since they were such a big hit when we made them last December.

The activity for the day will be decorating the names of Mary. Last year we used international variations of Mary's name like Miryam, Maria, Maura, or Mai. I printed them out using a fun, mostly "hollow" font like (Alphasnail or Colorfont) and large enough to fill the page. Then I let the children use stickers, markers, glitter glue, or whatever they wanted to decorate Mary's names. I am sure there are better fonts out there so I might have to hunt for some new ones. Since my girls have been enjoying their paints a lot lately, I might trace out the names on some watercolor paper and let them go to town.

Anyway, that's what our day will look like on Wednesday unless there are more surprises in store for us. Husband is still working on the new job front (his company is closing) and prayers would be very appreciated. Ideally, I would love to have his commute shortened but will be satisfied with some place he enjoys going to everyday. Enjoy the rest of your Monday!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

It better be good cheese!

Apparently, there is a whine and cheese party going on in Cyberworld. I guess I'll bring the bean dip.

Today began at 5:53 AM with a busted AC unit (yes, I said "busted", welcome to Texas y'all), included dumping Feta cheese on my kitchen floor (stink, stank, stunk!), cleaning raw chicken juice off the bottom of my refrigerator, and ended with canceling our dinner plans with some new friends because I was driving myself to the Urgent Care Center with a tongue depressor sized craft stick attached to my index finger with a couple of Shortcake's scrunchies so that I wouldn't accidentally bend it; thereby re-opening the gash I cut into the middle knuckle with an open can of refried beans. :(

The Upside:
It only took half a day and a truckload of money, but the AC is working again.

Both the Doc and his nurse were impressed with my craft stick splint.

No stitches thanks to the invention of Crazy Glue. (Actually, you can't Crazy Glue the knuckle because it bends so the doc used three tiny little butterfly strips with glue on them but that doesn't matter because the point of the story is "no needles"... woo hoo!)

Our friends are available to come over tomorrow night! : )


I can still type!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Nature Pics

PeekingI spy with my little eye...

Leap FrogWanna play leap frog?

Where's Waldo?

For my sweet nieces! (Please can I keep it? It followed me home...)

(Whispering) Such a rare and glorious sight to behold, the elusive Hammerhead Gecko makes its appearance only through stealth and the protection that the quiet solitude of night affords...
Click to enlarge.
This is actually a gecko with a moth in its mouth. We witnessed this life and death struggle close up on the window screen in our kitchen. Husband and I were pretty fascinated. The kids were pretty grossed out!

Our first nature walk of the new school year... ended before it ever really began yesterday after my children were introduced to this well known menace called the sticker burr. We decided to stay close to home which is where we found all of the other creepy crawlies, so I guess it wasn't that bad. We had gone to the library earlier in the day and picked up a ton of some books on tree leaves and tree identification. Our walk around the neighborhood afforded us the opportunity to notice the shapes of the different leaves. I think next time we will gather some and try to identify them.

Have a great Friday!