Friday, April 30, 2010

Ants on My Peonies

When we moved in and decided we wanted a garden, I tilled the area. I did this without knowing what was underfoot. I did it before anything was discernible. Turns out I had mowed over a bunch of beautiful peonies. This year, I let them come up...seeing as they are perennial. However, they are now covered in ants. I was speaking to a friend about this and she recommended putting coffee grinds at the base to deter ants. Hmmm. So, not knowing much about peonies or ants, I did. Success! After doing some research, however, I have found conflicting conversation regarding the ants' presence on a peony. makes note that the ants could be beneficial in helping the buds to open. says that the buds will open whether in the presence of ants or not. No one seems to really know.
What have I learned? Coffee grounds deter ants. I should use them around the base of the house, perhaps. I should leave the peonies alone and let nature do it's thing. At least the ants might leave my kitchen alone while eating the sweet resin from the peonies.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gargoyle or Grotesque?

We have a little statue out in our yard. I think it was a contribution from the husband's premarital life. I have always called it a gargoyle. Eli asked what a gargoyle was. I stammered for a minute...I think I started making stuff up. I told him I actually didn't know and that I was indeed, making things up. We sauntered inside to check it out. We looked online and found out that a gargoyle is a waterspout used to divert water off of roof tops, a la gutter. A grotesque is that actual statue, not used as a spout. You learn something new everyday!

We decided to create gargoyles and grotesques out of clay. I thought maybe it was air-dry clay, but alas, it was not. *Mental note: buy some air-dry clay*
To accompany our gargoyle making, I found some clips from the old television show Gargoyles. The boys were mesmerized...
The kids promptly squished their creations upon completing them, so I was not able to capture them on film. The husband and I were very proud of ours and saved them for their photo shoot.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Putting new chicks in with the old...

First, I have to say that when I go to pick up my chicks, I love that they come in a little carrying box. It's the only time I've ever gotten chicken in a box and not eaten it shortly thereafter.

I read on that when mixing new chicks with older chicks that you may have to be careful. A friend of mine introduced me to "the pecking order". Chickens start pecking at one another to assert dominance. "They'll peck to determine who gets to eat first and where they can roost on the perch." If you place chicks or younger chickens with more established chickens, they may get pecked to death. Chickens are a beastly animal. They are drawn to blood. They will also pick on a sickly hen. Crazy birds!
I bought an extra feeder and waterer. I bought a container to keep the chicks in. I had planned on keeping the groups separate for a bit. When I got home I took a look at my birds and thought, "they'll be fine."
I took the advice I found on One contributor swore by putting the new chicks in with the existing crew while the crew was sleeping. Then, make a lot of noise. Chicks flock together when something is upsetting the roost. Well, my chicks sleep, but they are light sleepers. I could never get the door to the brooder open without them noticing...especially since the heat lamp is next to the door. I had to improvise. The brooder/old dog crate needed to be cleaned. I put the existing chicks in a box. I didn't open the box of new chicks. The brooder was cleaned. I then put the new chicks in first. I told the boys that once I put in the bigger chicks that we needed to make a lot of noise. They got ready. I put the other chicks in and then turned on the Dustbuster.
They boys started stomping around while playing their kazoos. They were hilarious. The chicks all scurried to the back of the brooder and stared at me. I swear they were thinking that I was crazy. Crazy me and my Dustbuster. Well, the didn't even really notice one another.

I poured two cups of food into the feeder. It's almost gone. The waterer is already filled with poop, a worm and pine chips. And I've noticed that the pecking has started. Some of the little Rhode Island Reds are feisty girls! They're two days old and they're fighting for their place under the lamp...pushing out the old girls. Odin is like Snow White with those chicks. He gently picks them up and places them on his shoulder. In the picture below he just got done saying, "Go on chickie. Jump down and go home."

For fun, we tossed in two worms. One got lifted and swung right into the waterer. The birds lost interest. The other, however, was snatched up by one little chick. An Ameraucana. She fought for that worm with an older chick and then jumped right out of the brooder with her fair share! It was a great fight and my boys were loving it.
The Champ

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Right Teacher...

Sometimes it's hard to get into conversations with my friends who have children in school. I don't run around and try to push homeschooling on people. There are times, though, when someone says something about a situation that leads me to say aloud, "And that is one of the reasons why I homeschool!" Oops. Mixed company. I'm not going to get any validation here.

One of those instances happened tonight. A woman was talking about how her son was labeled "unable to learn" and put in a corner, essentially, in his first grade class. The teacher was older and simply decided not to include him. The parents were made to go through IEP's and meetings upon meetings regarding their son. They were told that he is unable to learn and a disruption to the class. Ha! Turns out he's gifted... no kidding.

I piped up and said, "And that's one reason why I choose to homeschool!" I have boys. Energetic boys. Boys I believe are truly gifted. (Others have said it to, so it's not just me being a mom... ) My boys are off-the-wall energetic...even after hiking all day at Purgatory Chasm. Off. The. Wall. I can see them being pigeon-holed into that "unable to learn" category. Or labeled as ADHD because they can't sit down for an hour and focus.

One mom, whom I love very dearly, said, "It's not always like that, if you get the right teacher."

Hmm. The RIGHT teacher? What if you get the wrong teacher? All the way through school? Should sending your child to school be a gamble? Just hope for the best, kid!

I didn't want to get into an argument. I know she didn't mean it like that. She was thinking in a more positive light. But the fact of the matter is, there are those who label and pigeon-hole before really investigating and delving deeper. And yes, it does make me sad that it is a gamble. I remember the "good" teachers, those who were unable to reach everyone, and those who were unable to reach anyone. There were teachers I loved. Those same teachers were hated by others. And that's the gamble. Not every teaching style is a match for every student. A truly dynamic teacher would be able to figure out how to teach each and every student in class, and actually do it. With 20 plus students that is nearly impossible. I learned from the teachers who matched my learning style. As a teacher, I was able to teach those who matched my teaching style. There were simply those who I did not get along with. And, by "get along with", I mean our personalities clashed. There was much resistance. And in the end, a co-teacher was put in, and I was okay with that. I think that is a big part of it, too. Teachers are expected to be able to handle their class. If you can't handle them, then you're failing at your job. I think it's more important to be able to ask for help. "I need help with this child!" Not just separate him from the rest and stick him in the corner.

He was not allowed to participate in circle time. How sad. What message does that send to everyone in that room?

Monday, April 5, 2010


Adding to our brood...we now are three chicks larger. Three cute and fuzzy little yellow chicks. They have actually started to develop feathers. My boys (the husband included) have named the chicks Grampa, Grampa and Elvira.

Some interesting things I have learned while being a chick owner for less than a week:

  • Chicks can slip on shiny newspaper (like the coupon inserts).

  • Chicks can get inky from newspaper

  • Chicks poop. A. Lot.

  • Chicks can get a pasted bum...their poop builds up and you have to wipe their bums to clear it off. (We have a crusty-bum chick right's getting to be a concern...)

  • Chicks poop in their food.

  • Chicks poop in their water.

  • Sometimes they peep really loudly.

  • Sometimes they are silent.

  • Chicks like to huddle together under the warmth of a light bulb.

  • They develop a pecking order.

  • They imprint the first person they see to be their mother. We got ours two days old...I wonder who they think their mommy is...

  • When newly hatched, you have to dip their beaks into the water so they know to drink.

  • They will poop on your shoulder.

  • They don't like being held upside down by their leg. Or wing.

  • In order to socialize them, or rather get them used to people, you need to hold them a couple times a day. You can't just talk to them. They are not great conversationalists, nor do they care about your day.

  • Chicks are not afraid of bunnies. And bunnies do not hunt chicks.

  • They actually care if another chick is outside their comfort zone...they chirp louder if alone and can see the other chick. It's hilarious.

  • The boys don't think it's funny to present the chicks in a bowl (while cleaning their cage) and telling them "it's what's for dinner". That's pork, right?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Artist's Progression

I am a mommy. I am inclined, and certainly entitled, to brag about my kids. Here is one of my latest loves - Eli's art. The kid amazes me every day. Seriously. Every. Day.

Here is the family in 2008: We all have eyes and mouths and legs! These ones are so heart-warming. He was about to turn three when he drew this.

Here is the family in August 2009: (almost 4) This is actually a picture of Grandma and Grandpa. I'm not sure why one has a torso and the other doesn't. Not really sure why Grandma has a mohawk either...

Here is the family at the tail end of 2009: (age 4) Yay! We have torsos, arms and if we only had hands and feet...
Here is his skeleton on March 28, 2010: The boxy looking thing to the left of the skeleton is it's case he needs to bring something somewhere, I suppose. There wasn't really any elaboration on why the skeleton had a bag.Here is his skeleton today: (almost 4.5) The grey thing on top of the skeleton's head is a mouse. The mouse caused the crack in the skeleton's forehead. The gun is shooting fire.

The husband and I have talked about it. The kid is talented. No doubt. The question about art classes came up. How do we encourage this? How do we nurture this talent? We are. We're doing it. No classes. We want him to love what he's doing, not because we want him to love it, but because he really loves it. We would hate for him to look back and say, "I really loved drawing, and then I had all these classes and it just wasn't fun anymore." It's his own and he'll take it in which ever direction he chooses. Right now, like many young boys, he's into guns and skeletons. It's actually quite endearing...he thinks guns shoot fire. He does not understand what a gun really does. I'd like to keep this innocence for awhile, then we'll discuss in further detail.