Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Icy Iowa

I am finally here in Iowa. I arrived safe and sound this morning about 10:30. I actually arrived about 8:30 but since they didn't know Ihad arived, I was left in the cooooold mailbox for a while. Finally Sweet, on her way home from the library, stopped and picked me up. I can say two things about Iowa. 1. It's cold. 2. It's icy. Gherkin took this picture to show you the ice. I faded but it is a nice look at the ice out the window.

Today is Polar Bear Day and in honor of that the science turned into "Polar Bears". The "picklets" at Wicked Pickles showed me how to study their way. We watched a movie called Mammals: Polar Bears on the computer. We learned that Polar Bears have up to 4 inches of blubber (that's as tall as I am!) and that blubber helps keep the polar bears insulated. The picklets included me in their hands-on blubber experiment. I got to experience first hand just how blubber insulates a mouse! I have to admit it was really scary to go head first into a plastic bag filled with blubber but I was very warm sitting in the bowl of ice water.

In honor of my first night in the house, Gherkin made a pasta dish with asparagas. I love nibbling on things such as that. She gave me a HUGE plateful but I could only eat a little bit. Mice have very little tummies you know!

I am very tired. I have had a long and cold journey from PA, but The Wicked Pickles have opened their doors and hearts to me. I anticipate a wonderful and fun stay. Gherkin has told me that we won't be heading out anytime this week since there is another ice storm due tomorrow thru Friday. Boy am I glad I got here today!

Sweet has made a great bed for me and let me use a doll so I don't get too homesick. Yawnnnnn...it is time for me to head to bed so I am ready to study with the "picklets".

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Addy Visits Homeschool Learning Center

Good morning everybody! This past Monday, I had a wonderful time visiting the homeschool learning center with MotherCrone's gang. Here I am with Girlie and part of the musical theater class. Boy, can those kids sing and act. I had a great time dancing to the beat.
Some of you have asked about the learning center. It is not a co-op, but has morphed from one into an actual learning center with a lot of different teachers and classes. The center meets on Mondays only, and goes from September to May. Students will often get grade appropriate assignments from each class to do during the week in addition to their own work which reflect the class and are grade appropriate. Many of the classes give grades and assessments for portfolios.
While some of the teachers are indeed homeschooling parents, the resumes' and diversity are impressive. Others are tried and true teachers of the best sort, who understand and respect homeschooling, and love teaching such an eager group of students. There are over twenty teachers on staff every year, and close to sixty classes available for kids K-12 each Monday.
The learning center can be used for various reasons. It is an excellent way to get group classes for homeschooled kids in subjects like theater, physical education, and chorus. Many use it to help with specialized subjects, like foreign language and fine arts. Still others like want their children to learn to take instruction from a teacher who is not their parent and practice organization and listening skills in a classroom setting . There are those students who take as few as one class or as many as seven, and study halls are offered in between.
All involved love having a place where the kids have a group of peers who all homeschool. While there is a lot of diversity among the kids, the one constant is that they have a group of friends where they do not have to explain their lifestyle choice. They get it, and live it. They love their families. While my kids have always had friends who were not homeschooled, there is something special and understood in these friendships.
If anyone lives in near Easton, PA , and is interested in these classes, please contact MotherCrone. We have families from both PA and NJ, and many who drive close to an hour. It is THAT worth it!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Adventures in Pennsylvania, Part II

MotherCrone and Girlie had a lovely time talking with the museum director, gathering information for Girlie's artist biography. They visited the gift shop, then came to find me before venturing on the paths.

I was enjoying this lovely scenery while resting on my rock. We all had a sense of awe as we started along the path that followed the old stone walls. Girlie wondered aloud if we were actually walking where Audubon had walked, on his way back from his daily wanderings.

I was getting a little bored after sitting for so long, and thought it would be fun to play a little game of hide-and-seek along the trail.

Here I am! I was wishing I had worn something a little less obvious than hot pink right about now....

Girlie took a minute to pose for a picture as we were crossing over a man-made bridge. She pointed out that the remains of the stone bridge were still down at the base, more evidence that these paths were very, very old indeed.

She suddenly turned around and motioned for us to stop and be quiet. She had seen something up ahead, and were slowly crept forward to join her.

I must tell you, I had not problem with this, but even MotherCrone managed to be 'quiet as a mouse." As we walked, trying not to rustle leaves or snap twigs, Girlie was about to explode from excitement. we rounded the bend and saw exactly why she was in such a state....
A grey heron, standing right at the streams edge! The water looked so cold, yet it stood there contently popping its head in and out of the water. We were able to get about fifteen yards from it before it began to get a nervous.
Girlie borrowed the camera to take this picture. We decided to let it be, and walked back the way we came. I was starting to get quite cold, so Girlie popped me in her pocket. We all walked back to the car, quite happy to have had such a lovely adventure.
Next week, we are going to see the Liberty Bell!

Adventures in Pennsylvania

Greetings, everyone! I arrived in Pennsylvania safe and sound. The gang at MotherCrone's sure had some exciting things planned for my visit.

Our first adventure was a "Girl's Only" fieldtrip to John James Audubon's home in Pennsylvania, MillGrove. Girlie told me all about him as we were riding in the car to the museum. He was a famous artist and naturalist, and was sent at a teenarger to live in Pennsylvania in 1803 to avoid being drafted into Napoleon's army. Although his father wanted him to oversee the family farm, he spent his days hunting, riding, and watching animals, especially birds. Like any teenager without a parent around, he did as he pleased.

He decided to use his skills and try to record and paint all the birds he found in America. He also used his skills as a hunter, for he would shoot the birds, so he could study them up close. He was the first to use wires to place the birds in life-like poses before painting.

When Girlie told me the inside of the museum was filled with specimens like this, I thought it was best if I waited outside. As a wee mousie myself, the thought made me more than a little nervous.

We found a lovely rock for me to sit on, under a tree full of bird feeders. It was a clear winter's day, and I watched juncos, chickadees, and cardinals flutter to and fro while they ate. I used a technique Audubon used to study the habits of the Peewee Flycatcher. He would sit very still inside the cave where they nested for days at a time. At first the birds were very nervous at his presence. But over time they trusted him, and went about their business. Addie, Adventure Mouse and Naturalist- in-Training!

Audubon only spent four years at Mill Grove.

He fell in love with the girl next door, Lucy
Bakewell. He returned to France to ask
permission to marry, and that is where he is said to have had the idea for a book of bird paintings.
It took him many years to compile all the paintings, but in 1826 he sails to England with his portfolio and finds a publisher for his book, "Birds of America." All of London fell in love with this woodsman, and he painted pictures like this outside in the square to increase interest.

On the second floor of the museum, they had this great art table set up in a room painted with beautiful bird murals. Girlie tried her hand at sketching a sharp-shinned hawk.
(see Part II, for the rest of our trip! )