SnakeS!

Plural! As in TWO snakes caught in my garden net!

First off I planted a lovely garden which clearly the wildlife enjoyed too! Because one morning I came out to water a bunch of teensy green nubs of what used to be a lovely lush green garden!

After nursing what was left, and seeing some life come back into my garden, I decided I needed to net the garden to avoid the evil plotting of the local wild life on my garden!

The net worked well. After a couple of weeks, I decided to replant a few of the spots that were clearly not going reinvent their lives and make a come back.

As I walked out to my chicken coop to feed my flock, collect eggs and water my garden (doesn’t that sound so peaceful, can you hear the morning birds chirping?) I was startled by a flicking snake tail! Thank heavens it wasn’t a rattler!

Upon closer investigation I see that TWO gopher snakes…clearly on the hunt for a yummy gopher snack, were beyond tangled up in the left over netting from my netted garden.

See the tail –>image

 

And the head –>image

 

Side note: a lot of snakes die this way and so if you have spare netting lying around, please collect it and put it up high off the ground. Gopher snakes are good friends. They will scare the s h i t out of you, because they look and can act like a rattle snake, but they are a friend and will help with gopher over population!

 

(Rattle snakes are born with at least one button on their tail and will always have a rattle, gopher snakes do not have buttons or rattles)

Here is a link to tell the difference between gopher and rattle snakes.

http://www.pe.com/articles/hayes-762525-rattlesnakes-bites.html

Scroll down to rattle snake pictures and you will find it (last picture in the set)

 

Anyhow, back to the problem at hand…what is one to do here? My husband says kill the snakes. I say no…keep the good snakes alive so the bad snakes don’t take over!

(Another side note: King snakes will kill and eat rattle snakes)

Instead we cut them out and sent them off with our local animal rescue to the vet. The vet can take the tight netting off without cutting the snake and then give it a good exam and set it back into the wild.

 

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As the animal rescue woman was leaving our property another giant gopher snake was crossing our driveway…it’s amazing we still have any gophers!

And yet another side note: gopher snakes can climb trees! They will if required go looking for prey up in trees, we’ve had one flop out of a tree and land on the ground in front of my daughter…who is also an avid tree climber, so always keep a keen eye out when playing in nature, but remember gopher snakes are a friend.

alls well that ends well….two good snakes kept their lives for another day of gopher hunting.

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Nature Mama in the Technology World.

Anyone else torn between the two worlds? The fantastic ever changing and advancing technology world and the desire to live a bit more like the Ingalls family on Little House on the Prairie? Well I find myself torn between these two worlds often.

Currently we have had to put a limit on technology in our house. We refer to the time spent on any of the many electronic devices available for entertaining ones self as “TECH TIME.” Because my son in particular could happily “tech hop” all day long, we’ve had to set tech time boundaries

Tech hopping is when your child turns off the tv and starts playing a game on the ipad, then sets the ipad down only to start playing a video game on the computer or Wii, Play station, Xbox, etc…And never seems to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

We started a log where the kids can EARN their tech time during the week and spend it allllllll weekend long if they want, then come Monday morning a fresh start, any tech time unused is cleared and they must earn new tech time for the following weekend.

We started off with tasks we wanted to see more of, each family can choose tasks that meet their needs, but this plan is brilliant if I do say so myself! Here’s why: if the kids nag about tech time during the week, they loose time. (so no nagging) if the kids want to earn tech time they can by accomplishing the tasks mom and dad have been nagging about lately. (no mom and dad nagging) on the weekend the kids can happily be plugged in allowing mom and dad to sleep in, read, sip their tea, exercise or do whatever it is mom and dad want to do without interruptions. (I personally like sleeping in on the weekends!)

Some of the tasks we set for our family (to give ideas) were: 15 minutes of tech time earned for every hour spend outside playing (not including scheduled outside time or play dates) Since we home school we added 15 minutes of tech time for every hour of school work without complaints/protests, but rather steady happy work time. 5 minutes for using the Sonicare toothbrush for two minutes morning and night vs their manual brushes, 5 minutes for making the bed in the morning, 15 minutes for noticeable table manners at all three meals, 5 minutes for taking a bath without reminders, 15 minutes of tech time for every hour spend reading a book. (need to give narration for credit) etc…I’m sure you can think of things you need to run a bit more smoothly in your house.

If the kids really worked hard they could virtually earn enough hours of tech time to be plugged in all weekend long, so we capped it off at TEN hours max! Which is A LOT!, breaks down to two hours a day during the work week. This past week my kids earned 4.25 and 4.5 hours, which is wayyyyy less then they were getting previously during the week combined. So that was another bonus. Even if they did earn all ten hours, that still breaks down to the recommended two hours per day max set by some parenting something somewhere…you know some expert somewhere.

Occasionally during the week, I need the kids to watch a documentary for school, or practice an educational app on the ipad, etc…and in those cases, that tech time does not count towards earned time.

During the week, the kids are spending a lot of their days in nature again. They have built projects that sat collecting dust in the past. They are creating their own games, learning old ones, excited about a trip to the library again. They have read to one another and what mother doesn’t love seeing her kids read to each other! So sweet! Melts this mamas heart!

Our weeks are full of joyful natural experiences again and I can live in my sweet natural Laura Ingalls world. Then on the weekends I can be lazy, sleep in, have adult conversations with my husband and know I’m not holding my children back in the technology world by never having them experience the technology world. Currently my kids are very into all the coding games, so maybe coding is in their future, and maybe they will spend all day on a computer in their future careers, but they will also know how to grow food and enjoy the simple natural things in life too.

Finding balance in this fast paced world and holding on to the simple peaceful pleasures life can offer takes work. I’d love to hear how your family balances between nature and technology!

The Adventures of Leaf Man!

I can’t take all the credit, a fellow homeschooling mama friend of mine gave me this great idea and my kids have had so much fun with it! We have created soooo many autumn decorations I’ve lost count! This is a fun adventure to help get the kids out into nature. (Even for those of you that might live in the cement jungle)

We first read a few fall books about seasons, changing leaves, etc…then ended with this fantastic book titled LEAF MAN.

Afterwards my kids and I went outside and searched for various leaves. Amazing how many shapes are out there in plain view that are passed by daily and never noticed! We collected a TON. The kids had so much fun they continued to collect more and more well after we had plenty! All sorts of colors and shapes and sizes!

We only had a short time frame to create, so the kids got busy quickly!

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Later in the evening after our busy day with friends, they went directly back to the table and started creating leaf creations again. We had leaf men, leaf fish, leaf birds, etc…

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First thing this morning they are once again at the table creating more leaf creations. They are loving this project! I highly recommend this activity! (Even for adults! I have to admit I’ve had fun with it too!)

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So get outside and start creating with nature! 🙂

Our Reading Tree

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We have this years reading tree up and ready to go. This year we are using a paper tree from amazon. We are hoping my very talented sister will one day paint a beautiful tree with a child swinging in a swing sweeping over the wall. But for now the paper tree is perfect. 🙂

This particular tree comes with leaves, acorns and animals. We have decided to designate the acorns for level readers the kids read out loud to me, leaves for books the kids read on their own and animals to chapter books we read as a family together. (At least that is the plan as of today) 🙂

We are looking forward to seeing how full our tree gets over this next year. I hope to blog about our full reading tree next summer around this time.

Back to mental planning and getting things ready for our next year ahead. 🙂

Thursday – Day Four

Well first thing this morning neither child had forgotten I promised a BEN 10 episode, so they started their day off with a cartoon. When the one was over, they were hooked and wanted more, more, more…so I figured if they worked together to clean my daughter’s room (which looked like a tornado blew thru a hoarder room) Then I would agree to another Ben 10.

 A few minutes later they came out and said they were finished. I’m pretty sure this is not the case. I ask, did you really clean up her room in that short of time? And they said, OH I THOUGHT YOU JUST WANTED A NICEPATH THRU HER ROOM…ha ha! So I look, they had neatly shoved everything to the sides so one might have a lovely path threw the disaster zone.

 With a little guidance they did a beautiful job on her room and they also worked on compromise, working together to tackle a fairly large job (giant really for a kid!) I could hear them deciding who would do what. It was pretty cute!

 A few jobs needed to be accomplished before our play dates arrived today.

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 We had two separate play dates today and to be honest I got way side tracked chatting with my mama friends to document much of today. I do have photos to share, but not a lot of “homeschooling” stuff other then SOCIALIZING…today was SOCIALIZING DAY! Ha ha! 🙂

 A little dress up time:

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Breakfast time:

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 My son is researching Ben 10 alien costumes and preparing himself for HALLOWEEN already! He will most likely change his mind a billion times, so we have a rule, I will purchase ONE costume, but if you decide you want to be something else, then you have to make the costume yourself using stuff from our dress up bin….or literally MAKE IT yourself with card board or whatever you have to use.

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 Contemplating life I suppose? I wonder if school kids get much quiet time to just think their thoughts. I know when I have a busy day it takes a lot of quiet practice to come down and feel grounded and able to just think my thoughts, so I love seeing my kids pondering life or maybe Ben 10 costumes ha ha!, but just having quiet moments to think their own personal private thoughts.

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image Son: Did you know your body is complex? You can eat upside down! (as he puts a handful of popcorn in his mouth upside down…apparently one can defy gravity in some ways)

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Play time: (trying to sort out weapons, game rules, costumes…all really important stuff!)

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Lunch Time:

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 Playing after Lunch…(mama is starting to loose steam and forgetting to document…sorry!)

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 Kids came in the room where the mama chat was going on, so I have a few photos of the games they pulled out and played…

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Then back to base camp to plot some more weapons, war tactics, game rules and strategies for conquering the other team!

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 Little break to jump on the trampoline (and it is hard to see but one kiddo is up in the tree)

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These magnets are still fascinating to him. He has had three days of processing these magnets. I know more is going on up in his brain regarding the magnets then just positive negative charges…he had that mastered when he was two! I’m guessing Thomas Edison type stuff, so I’m glad there isn’t fire involved and it’s just magnets! ha ha!

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A bit later one set of friends left and another arrived…The girls were playing with the doll house and it wasn’t really my son’s gig, so he played this game by himself in more of a puzzly way.

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 This is where I failed on documentation miserably today…I was having a nice time visiting with friends and the kids happily playing. The day got away from me… 

Dinner time… 

Bath… 

I took the kids out for an ice cream. As much as I dislike them having ice cream right before bed, I had promised it to them two days ago. I figured we should just get that promise over with and hopefully the sugar crash happens in their sleep. Ha ha!

 I’m going to snuggle up with hubby and watch whatever show he’s watching then head for bed…I hope to do a better job tomorrow. 

I’ve been thinking about it, I think I will try this again in the fall/winter when we are doing more schooly things then we do during the summer. We do school year round, but we are relaxed schoolers and the month of July we are SUPER relaxed schoolers…lol…might not be the best week, oh well, hind sight is alwasy 20/20 we’ll do it again some time down the road… 

Good night!

Monday – Day One

I normally wake up early, hours before my children, to ensure that mama quiet time. Sip my cup of tea, think my thoughts, just enjoy the morning sounds before the house is so noisy I can’t hear myself think.

Today was not one of those days, I woke up early and then crawled right back into bed and slipped off into a deep sleep. Woken up by my son, who just woke up himself, asking if he can finish the NATE THE GREAT audio book he didn’t finish last night.

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We snuggle up in our jams on the sofa, he is listening with headphones because his sister is still sleeping and I like it quiet until the whole herd is up and roaring. I am facing him, with ipad and iphone at the ready, trying to sort out three different play dates this week with three different mamas. I have an unexpected guest coming, which is exciting, looking forward to her visit, but I needed to see where a fantabulous play date might fit in with this friend. Once all of that calendar stuff is sorted out, my daughter wakes up. She decides she is going to snuggle up with us right smack in the middle on top of us, making both my son and I a lot uncomfortable, so rearranging our positions, ends up with my son off doing something else, my daughter snuggling up with me for a while, but her ultimate goal of conquering the entire sofa for herself is eventually achieved. Ha ha!

My son is outside making lizard traps. Did I mention we bought a terrarium and crickets for the lizard he caught before, but it was too small and had to be released into the wild again…so right now we have about a dozen pet crickets!

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While he is hunting lizards, my daughter designs jewelry for her stuffed animals. She announces she will start a stuffie jewelry line and sell these creations to the top buyers! (Watch out Build-A-Bear! Ha ha!)

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After my son’s lizard hunt, he’s ready for a little Life of Fred Math. We snuggle up for the next chapter. He moves to the table to write down his answers to the last chapters questions.

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As he moves on to earn an egg on Reading Eggs (a computer reading program) My daughter snuggles up on the sofa to practice her reading. She reads a couple BOB books out loud to me. And we talk about sounds and sounding out words and how most of the words in these books can be sounded out, but in some of her other readers you can’t sound out the words easily, you need to learn the letter combinations that make different sounds when they are together, etc…

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She then takes her turn on Reading Eggs while her brother tries to get an old lap top working. He wants to put in the circuit board (snap circuits science toy) CD-ROM and create something on the computer. The disk isn’t working, dad will need to sort that out later.

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I make lunch.

After lunch we all go outside and play. I sit with a cup of tea (I am a sitter and a tea drinker, eeks, I see thru this blog post, I need to get up and off my arse and exercise! Haha!)

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The kids are busy, jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes, scooters, playing with the hose, etc…Some of the conversations I overheard or took part in were interesting:

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Kids asked why I’m taking so many photos today…I tell them of the blog. My son says: well I’m sure they are going to think I’m a girl, because I have long hair and a leopard print vest on…but I don’t care because I love my vest! It’s the best vest! That rhymes ha ha! (he loves it so much, he didn’t want it to get wet, so I had to be the vest guardian for a bit)

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Daughter: Mom, what time is it?
Me: 12:22pm
Daughter: Well I’m noticing it is shady at 12:22 and I’m guessing it is probably always shady at 12:22 in our play yard. This spurs a discussion on tracking the shade and how the sun moves during the seasons. And apparently now we are going to check the shade out and track it now.

Daughter: Mom, look what I found, I think it is a diamond because it is sparkly and hard…as she brings me a piece of cement I think, maybe roof tile? Not sure…we plan on asking dad what it is made of, I’m guessing glass, not diamonds. Ha ha! Sometimes mom isn’t up for researching when dad can easily answer a question, he needs to be in on the homeschooling gig too. Ha ha! Not to mention the wi-fi didn’t reach where I was sitting in the yard.

Son: Mom, you wanna know what I think was one of the most important speeches during the war against Great Britain…you know that battle on bunker hill, I think the statement “hold your fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was one of the most important bits. What do you think?

Daughter: spraying water out of the hose states, it looks like a butterfly…a wing over here and another one over there.
Son: yeah but butterflies have four wings not two.

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Daughter: Can everything go thru water?
Son: No
Daughter: What can’t get thru water?
Son: well I know oil can’t get thru water, so there must be things that can and some that can’t.
Daughter: Mom can you look up what can get thru water?
Me: sure…

Son: wanna know the process of how I make tracks? I run thru the puddles you are making sis and the bike tires pick up the water. When I ride over the dry part the water comes off. Interesting huh?

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Daughter: while violently flinging the hose around flinging water everywhere. (I’m hoping she doesn’t drench me and my ipad) she announces loudly…how cool is that mom, what goes up has to come down, it is gravity mom, look!!!

All this pondering and processing took place in about 30 minutes. It is a little before 1:00pm and we are heading downtown to an appointment and the book store. When you pay attention to the random comments the kids say during their play, you realize just how much is going on up in their developing brains. They seem to be learning and processing information non-stop at lightening speeds!

At the book store my son talked me into a couple basher books. We love the basher books.

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In the afternoons, we often have a quiet time…not every day, but I aim for a few times a week, especially on the days the kids need a break from one another. I noticed they were starting to debate about more then enough topics on the way home from town. I figured quiet time was needed, so into their rooms for an hour to read, play quietly and relax on their own. Believe it or not, they both actually really like quiet time and have in the past asked for it!

They tidy up the living room first. Then choose a book, grab a snack, and head off into their rooms.

I’m on the sofa with a cup of tea surfing the net and thinking about putting a load of laundry in…

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…yes okay laundry guilt is over, the load is in and I also pulled out the ingredients to make the cracker recipe my son has been asking to make…

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NOW, I feel I can sit and relax with my tea and surf the net a bit
…(note to hubby who will read this: no comment from the peanut gallery! Ha ha! We all deserve a break during our work day!)

After quiet time:

Son: mom, during quiet time I got pretty good at this! (showing me his harmonica)

Which spurs a little jam session between the two kids…one on harmonica and the other on the wooden frog…we rock out a bit and they decide they want to watch Nanny McPhee Returns. I decide I’m not up for crackers just yet, but I’m not up for tv either…sooooo I say they need to do a little piano practice and then play outside for a while before I will consider a movie. They practice and then bounce outside.

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My son apparently took the entry way rug with him and decided to take it up a tree…looks sort of comfy huh? Ha ha! He is that kid that is so creative you quickly realize you will go insane if you worry too much about the little things in life like my rug is up in a freaking tree! haha!

I remind myself often of Thomas Edison’s mother…she is my hero really and I don’t even know her name! But she home schooled Thomas and fostered his creativity that we all benefit from today. Maybe one day we will all benefit from my son’s creation, who knows. I do know I won’t be the one to step on his ideas.

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Well looks like crackers have safely been procrastinated a bit further into the afternoon/evening; they have suckered me into Nanny McPhee Returns!

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Hubby is on his way home and I am going to a stretching class with some friends. Some of the school reading on our list will either happen late tonight when I get home, if the kids are up and want some story time with mom or tomorrow…

Not sure what adventures dad has in store for the kiddos while I’m away, but I do know my daughter needs to unload the dishwasher. She made a deal to unload it 5 times in exchange for me purchasing yet another stuffed animal for her!

Well I’m back from stretching class. My husband informs me that the kids ate dinner, did some tidy up chores, our son read a few books to his sister, they jumped on the trampoline with dad, did bedtime routine stuff and went to sleep.

I had a great adventure with friends and look forward to tomorrow…figure crackers will HAVE TO HAPPEN tomorrow! They have been on the list for a few days now! ha ha!

I still have a goal of less words and more photos, but after attempting to take photos of our day, I’m guessing as the week goes on, I’ll have less photos and less words by Friday ha ha! I will do my best for ya! 🙂

Good Night…

Go Climb A Tree!

Climbing a tree….one of the passages into childhood….

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No longer allowed at schools…..sad!

I really want to rant and rave about the need for tree climbing in our children’s lives. How the element of danger is necessary in the developmental process and how we as a society have removed nearly all degrees of danger (& nature) from our children’s natural play.

No climbing, you’ll get hurt
No jumping, you’ll get hurt
No running, you’ll get hurt

When my son was a toddler and we were heavily involved with a moms group. The other mothers would see him toddle off and start climbing. They would inform me, as if I’m not watching my own child. “He’s going to fall!!!” they would announce it in a panicked voice.

Not only was I watching my son, I had already assessed the situation and realize that if he did fall he might get a little scared, but he wouldn’t be injured. And it was a good opportunity for him to learn his abilities. My replies were generally on the lines of “if he does fall he will only do it once” or “if he does fall, he will learn from it”

One of the other mothers said to me during group, I can’t believe your busy son has never been to the emergency room when my sweet docile daughter has been three times already.

I just had to laugh at the descriptive personalities. Busy, sweet, docile…ha ha! Parents can be so bias at times towards their own sweet innocent darling perfect children. Especially when they hang out with busy dirty dangerous children whose parents clearly don’t know that germs and danger exist. Ha ha! (Oops my sarcastic side just slipped out)

The truth is her sweet docile daughter never had the chance to experience danger. She never had any “safe danger” to play with. She had no idea that life could be dangerous. It must be a safe situation, no one was hollering “stop you’ll get hurt!” So when opportunities came up and no one was looking (aka hovering) she would go about her normal developmental path and voila danger would arise, but she had no clue danger was there.

We as a society are so preoccupied with making the world a safer place for our children (which sounds nice) we are not realizing the consequences.

1) We are raising children that never get to experiment with “safe danger” Children today are not learning and making brain connections on their danger boundaries. (Which can also go into personal space boundaries and many other body awareness/social issues, but we can save that for another post down the road)

2) We are not outside in nature enough climbing, jumping, running, etc…Our children are becoming oblivious to outside sounds as well as sounds of danger and their intuition skills.

3) We are creating “overly worried” children. Worried about irrational fears, because they are told constantly don’t do this, don’t do that, this is dangerous, that is dangerous, don’t touch that, it’s dirty, it has germs, but they aren’t fully sure what they are supposed to do, or what real danger is, they only know its out there lurking in every corner, waiting to get them and it must be something bad….really really bad!

Now that I am involved in a homeschooling group, instead of the hover mama club, I see lots of tree climbing, free happy kids developing not only physical abilities but loads of brain power.

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So I plead with you, get out into nature and let your kids climb trees!