Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tweet and See: May 2011

It's been a busy, busy month at the feeders! Lots of new species!

We were excited to see a pair of wood ducks this month! They're quite unique and interesting! We LOVE the coloration and patterns on the male!
Male Wood Duck
Female Wood Duck
J and I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the end of our road and then later at our feeders. And C saw a Downy Woodpecker on the neighbor's tree while riding her bike. 2 of these woodpeckers stopped by the feeders the next day.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  Photo by www.guatemalabirding.com/
Downy Woodpecker Photo by commons.wikimedia.org/
And we flocked - Yes! I couldn't help the word play! LOL - to the bay window to see our first ever Baltimore Oriole and American Goldfinch! Their beautiful yellow colors showed up brilliantly with the evergreen background.
American Goldfinch
Baltimore Oriole
We had 3 new migratory species come to the feeders in one evening: White-crowned Sparrow, Eastern Towhee and Brown-headed Cowbird. Interestingly, the Brown-headed Cowbird is the only "parasitic" bird in Maine, laying its eggs in host bird' nests to raise its young.
White-crowned Sparrow Photo by Al Lemieux
Eastern Towhee Photo by Robert Hawkins
Brown-headed Cowbird Photo by Herb Amyx
On a rainy afternoon we observed a large Turkey Vulture eating in our neighbor's yard. Wow, do they have a LONG wingspan! (Our books says up to 6'!)  And a Common Grackle stopped at our feeders the same day.
Turkey Vulture Photo by Raul Quinones
Common Grackle Photo by Terry Sohl
A Robin is sitting on eggs in a tree near the wooden playset. We're watching for blue eggs on the ground underneath.

May 2011 
Wood Duck*
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
White-crowned Sparrow*
Eastern Towhee*
Brown-headed Cowbird*
Red-winged Blackbird
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-breasted Grosbeak*
Downy Woodpecker*
Baltimore Oriole*
American Goldfinch*
America Robin
Mourning Dove
Common Grackle*
Turkey Vulture*

 Master List
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Black-capped Chickadee 
Common Eider+
American Crow+
American Goldfinch
Baltimore Oriole
Pileated Woodpecker+
Bald Eagle+
Blue Jay
Downy Woodpecker
Red-breasted Grosbeak
Common Redpoll
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Mourning Dove
American Crow+
Wild Turkey
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse
Common Grackle
Turkey Vulture
Gray Jay
Canada Goose+
Great Blue Heron+
Herring Gull+
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Ruffed Grouse
Wood Duck

Summer is such a busy time for us, so this is our last Tweet and See until September when we'll have our summer list! 

*denotes new species this month
+denotes saw in an area NOT in our backyard

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: May 22-27

  In My Life This Week
Did you see?! Our chicks arrived over the weekend! Unfortunately 2 of our eggs were not fertile and 1 chick died, but we have one yellow, fuzzy, CHEEPING chick! And the kids are asking to do this ALL OVER AGAIN!
C Holding Cheeper at 3 Days Old
We had a Pizza and Movie Night. The kids LOVE making individual pizzas! We watched "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", "The Water horse" and "Megamind", all borrowed from the library.

I steam-cleaned the livingroom carpet, but I don't think my steamer is working well...And we got the yard tidied up and mowed.

Sun and fun on Thursday! We hit a high of 77 degrees! We headed to the state park, having our first picnic of the season! And the kids went swimming! Brrrr!

In Our Homeschool This Week

Our school year is complete! Portfolio reviews were on Sunday and everything went well. And now onto YEAR 8 and SUMMER VACATION! Not that ALL the learning ends! LOL

J and C continued to try out Timberdoodle's How to Draw the Life and Times of Grover Cleveland for our review. To see our final thoughts and drawings, click here.

We did a simple science experiment to test what white vinegar (acid) does to the calcite in limestone. We were supposed to get some cool looking "stalagmites" growing up from the rocks, but maybe our rocks (found in the neighbor's gravel driveway) weren't LIMESTONE...The vinegar IS doing something though as there is a chalky-white layer under the rocks now.

C and I made Fruit and Nut Granola Bars from The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook. Yum! Want the recipe? Check out this post! And I read aloud Cook-a-doodle-doo! and J made Strawberry Shortcake from some of the last berries we picked last season.

We started our Master Boardgame Player competition this week for the summer. Currently, J and C are tied for the leader! And somehow I'm in last place! How did THAT happen? LOL
So Cute! S WAS Paying Attention! See the heart? Circle with Petal (Ovary)? Tube Where Eggs Form? The Chicken Reproductive System! And Nannie is to the Right, Pulling a Bell to get the Hen to Lay.
Places We're Going and People We're Seeing

C had a softball practice on Monday (and a Brownie meeting) and a game on Wednesday. S LOVES going to C's games because he gets to "hang out" with his new friend J!  J's friend T biked down for a quick visit on Wednesday. And then there was the lake on Thursday and PJ Storytime at the library that night. Activities are winding down here! We'll soon have more time to spend at the lake!

My Favorite Thing This Week Was
What can top seeing the kids enjoy their new little chick?! They're SO excited to have gone through the process of incubating, watching it hatch and seeing it grow over the week.
Cheeper - 4 Days Old
And C scored the winning hit at her softball game! She had a solid hit to 2nd base and even made it to first base. The winning run scored and the inning was over! Such a proud moment!
What's Working / Not Working for Us

Lack of a schedule, even one that's "loose", combined with MANY days of rainy weather has made for some difficult behavior due to boredom.  We'll be following a SUMMER SCHEDULE from here on out - meals scheduled, activities in the afternoons, a reading (QUIET) hour, daily walks or swims (when it FINALLY warms up), and chore time.

Quiet Time IS working! Most afternoons, sometime between mid-afternoon snack, activities and dinner, we've been having 30-60 minutes of Quiet Time. J and C read. J is currently reading In Enemy Hands by David Weber and C is reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. S works on his Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read with me for a 10-15 minutes, Handwriting Without Tears: Letter and Numbers for Me, and then quietly builds with Legos, Magnetix or wooden blocks. Everyone reads though, so I grab my book after that! ((contented sigh))

Homeschool Questions / Thoughts I Have

It's looking like we ALREADY have a VERY busy summer planned! What happened to the "lazy days of summer"? And time for camping? 

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share
I'm linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Hop and the Homeschool Mother's Journal this week. Check out other homeschool happenings by clicking on my sidebar buttons for these GREAT hops!

The Life of a Chick

May 23
You can find anything on You Tube! After watching You Tube videos (and BE CAREFUL searching for videos to determine male or female chicks), we discovered that Cheeper is a HEN! And Cheeper is a loud, loud little chick! She constantly wants our attention and let's us know when we've moved into another room!
May 24
It's amazing how much Cheeper is changing already! Just 3 days old and her feathers are already changed and she's growing right before our eyes!
Day 1
Day 3
May 25
We knew it was coming, but didn't know who would get the distinction...J was the first one to be pooed on by Cheeper! Later on S got the same "special" treatment which he promptly wiped on my couch. ((sigh))

May 26
This morning we woke up to find that Cheeper is growing tail feathers! And her wing feathers have been filling out black and white! (She's a mixed bread hen, part Americana, part Buff Orpington.) And she LOVES roosting on our fingers!
Day 3 Wing Feathers (Side) - Nothing Much
Day 4 Wing Feathers - A Little More Black and White
Day 6 - DEFINITELY Bands of Black and White on the Wing Feathers! And look at that LITTLE tail! LOL
May 27
Cheeper seems to be settling down to a life of a well-loved, spoiled hen! Tomorrow we will start incubating "siblings"!

For more chick information, check out Learning All the Time! She has a PDF on protecting yourself from salmonella while raising chicks that's a must read! And you get to see more cute peepers!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's a Keeper Thursday: Fruit, Seed and Nut Granola Bars

We're always on the look-out for a energy-type granola bar for longer walks and quick, portable snacks, but commercial bars have so much "extra stuff" in them. And, since C is allergic to peanuts, we need granola without peanuts which can be hard to find. Seeing this bar recipe in The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids who Love to Cook, we thought we would give them a try...and they were GREAT!

Fruit, Seed and Nut Granola Bars

3 T butter
2 c rolled oats
1 c raw whole almonds
1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c dried raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries
2/3 c honey
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x12 dish with non-stick spray or line with buttered parchment paper.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, combine oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Bake, stirring 1-2 times, until JUST golden, or about 8 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add in raisins and cranberries. Set aside.
3. Reduce oven to 300 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, for about 30 seconds, OR UNTIL BUTTER is melted. Pour over oat mixture and stir gently until combined. Scoop into 8x12 pan, cool slightly, then press into an even layer.
4. Bake until golden around the edges or about 20 minutes. Let pan cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then lift paper to get granola out OR let cool completely and remove with a spatula. Cut into snack-size squares. (Makes about 16 depending on the size of your squares.)

Did  you know that pumpkin seeds shelled are called pepitas? I didn't! We ended up using regular pumpkin seeds from the nuts and seed snack aisle at the grocery store and they worked out just fine!  You can DEFINITELY customize the dried fruit, seeds and nuts in this recipe! Next time we want to try dried blueberries and raspberries with chopped raw walnuts and almonds! Happy snacking!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Around the Yard

It's been raining for over a week. When the sun popped out suddenly this afternoon, we headed outside to clean up the yard and observe all the changes in our plants, trees and garden over the last couple of weeks. 
J's Apple Tree...It's Been Broken MANY Times and Keeps Growing
A Flowering Shrub - Anyone Know the Name? LOL We're Better with WILD Plants
Purple Trillium - Poisonous and Stinky, but Interesting
Common Blue Violet
Any Ideas? Another Type of Violet?
Crab-apple Buds
Bleeding Hearts
Peonies Starting
New Growth on a Fir Tree
Purple Lilac Buds
Apple Tree Buds
And in the garden some of our seeds have germinated despite the cool, soaking weather. 
I Think Jake was "Heavy-Handed" with the Oregano
Tomato Seedling Pots
Strawberry Flowers
Pea Plants
We're looking forward to some warmer, drier weather in the coming weeks! Our flowering trees and shrubs should be looking and smelling beautiful by then!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Timberdoodle Review: A Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA

Looking for a creative, hands-on approach to teaching the United States presidents and American history for kids ages 8-12? Check out A Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA!

My oldest son (12) is TOTALLY into American history, but he's not that interested in drawing, and my daughter (9) LOVES to draw in her free time, but she's not into history. So, when Timberdoodle sent me How to Draw the Life and Times of  Grover Cleveland to review, I thought it would encourage BOTH of them to learn something they don't usually enjoy! And even my "history buff" didn't know a lot about President Cleveland!

At a Glance
  • a hard-cover book with 32 pages
  • 13 short chapters and 10 step-by-step drawing lessons
  • timeline and glossary
  • drawing supply list: paper, pencil with eraser and ruler

I read aloud the 13 chapters detailing Cleveland's life before, during and after becoming our 22nd and 24th president. We had a blast testing each other on facts by creating verbal trivia questions from the text and using both the timeline and glossary in the back of the book! The timeline and glossary are VERY handy!

The kids worked on the drawing lessons as we read through the book. These lessons include visual AND reading instructions in step-by-step boxes as well as a photo or poster of the lesson subject. These lessons were challenging for J and C!
J and C Working on their Statue of Liberty Drawing Lesson...and Yes, They're in PJs! LOL
Grover Cleveland's Childhood House by J
We found the information in the book was easy to read, understand and interesting. (Did you know that the Baby Ruth candy bar is named after Cleveland's daughter?) The glossary and timeline provided a great source for review through discussion and verbal games. The drawing lessons were challenging and a little frustrating for J and C who haven't had any instruction in shading and perspective. Each book takes about a week to finish, perhaps two, and would be awesome combined with other American History programs or additional historical books and videos of the time to "round out" the events and people.  If you have a reluctant history student, but who has had basic drawing instruction and enjoys being creative, this is the series for you! (You can find additional history curricula at Timberdoodle's website.)

Final Rating (out of 5 ★s) : ★ ★ ★

Check out all the wonderful curricula, puzzles, games, and kits by requesting a Timberdoodle catalog or joining up on Facebook! 

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle Blogger Review Team, I receive free products in exchange for a frank and unbiased review on Our Side of the Mountain. These reviews are my own personal thoughts and opinions as well as my childrens'. For more product information and current prices, please visit the Timberdoodle website.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chick Hatching Journal

May 20

6:00am - Day 20. No signs of hatching.
9:00am - After talking with my Mom (the Chicken Expert), I add another bowl of warm water to the incubator to up the humidity, and VERY carefully, cradling each egg, quickly look at and listen to each egg. I hear faint peeping from Egg 3!
3:00pm - A TINY crack appears on the top of Egg 3! And chick continues to peep.
5:00pm - J and I notice that when we shine a flashlight into the incubator through the viewing window at Egg 3 the chick peeps and we can see it moving through the TINY slit in the membrane.
6:30pm - LOUDER cheeps! And a bigger chip of egg comes off. We can see the chick's egg tooth and beak and part of the body. It wiggles around and is YELLOW.
7:30pm - Another chick with a small hole. Moving a little inside the shell, but not peeping. It doesn't seem robust and is BLACK.
11:30pm - No changes in either chicks.
Yellow in the Incubator
May 21

5:30am - Day 21. Yellow chick popped out while we were sleeping, and now in the brooder, peeping up a storm! Black has not made ANY progress. I'm wondering if it needs help, but I'll watch it for a while first.
6:30am - Black chick isn't moving anymore and still not peeping. It's breathing seems "off",  so I decide to start helping it out a little. Finally! It makes some WEAK peeps when I clear it's beak. It's little head is wedged UNDER it's wing.
9:00am - Black chick dies. Yellow continues to do well!
12:30pm - We have a burial ceremony for Black and a baby Robin we had found under a tree in our yard. (Looks and sounds like the baby Robins hatched yesterday too!)
Tranferring Yellow to the Brooder - Still Drying off
A few Minutes in Brooder

Yellow Meets The Cat

A Napping Fluff
May 22

It turns out the other 2 eggs were NOT fertile, so it's just Yellow. The kids are VERY happy! It'll be one LOVED chicken! LOL They would like to incubate more eggs so we're "in talks" to get more eggs. (Mom might bring down a dozen next weekend.) Again, chicks will go to live with my Mom and her chickens in June.
Yellow at the End of the Day
Fluffed All Out

First Time Holding

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Portfolios, Plans, Patience, Practices, and Progress

It's PORTFOLIO time! 

Piles of papers, completed lap books, finished workbooks, notebook pages, art creations, 3-hole punch, and 3-ring binders with page dividers have been scattered across the dining room (and sometimes the coffee table in the living room) this week. Fortunately I only have to assemble 2 portfolios this year, next year will be 3, and I've been sorting papers on-and-off since about October. After STUFFING J and C's 2" binders with examples of their work, I've come to the conclusion that next year I need 3" binders instead! Their binders are "bursting" open! Or perhaps I need to be more SELECTIVE? Our portfolio assessment reviews are on the 22nd...and I'm ready!
J and C's Bursting Open Portfolio Binders

So, even though it's vacation and we're enjoying warmer temperatures....well, this week it's been RAIN, RAIN, and RAIN...the kids will continue to work on a few areas. J will continue sharpening his typing skills using Jumpstart: Typing, C will continue with All About Spelling Level 2 and Spelling City to improve her Spelling, and C will continue with Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read

A huge, HUGE chapter finished in S's Life Book - He was discharged from Occupational Therapy! After almost 2 years of therapy, he has met most of his OT goals. He will always have Sensory Processing Disorder and we will continue his "sensory diet" activities at home and help him to recognize what his body needs in appropriate ways, but OT has done what it can.  He's made INCREDIBLE progress and we're very proud of all he's accomplished! Special thanks to Ms. E for everything that she's done for S and us!
S with Ms E During Last OT Session
J headed off for another weekend of Boy Scout camping. He has SUCH a great time on these camping weekends (even if the weather is COLD or RAINY). Nothing more fun than camping in tents with friends! I snapped a quick photo of him in his uniform right before he left. (Were the mosquitoes and the little black flies ever bad that afternoon! Ack!)
J in his Boy Scout Uniform
C's been having an AWESOME softball year! Her hitting confidence has returned and she been getting some GREAT swings! Her team is 2-1. And S started t-ball this past week.
C Before Her Game
Playing 3rd Base
And it's a foul tip!
S Learning to Hit off the Tee
Right Before Catching the Ball
Ready in the Outfield?
We're still CRAZY busy with activities (through June), but the kids have even more time to read, garden, ride bikes, watch movies, and build with Legos. C tackled the MUCH NEEDED weeding in the strawberry bed. (Our strawberries are starting to flower.)  J got the bike tires and balls aired. And S created some AWESOME Lego spaceships.
S with his Spaceship
We also received our first Timberdoodle review product, How to Draw the Life and Times of Grover Cleveland, which combines American History AND Drawing into one handy-dandy hard-cover book. We had fun coming up with verbal trivia questions from the reading to stump each other! Watch for the review next Friday!

How was your week? I'm linking up to Forever, For Always, No Matter What, Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Hip Homeschool Hop!