We are seriously counting down the days now. We are finishing up our math books. Writing classes are complete. We are reading a book on World War I right now which we should finish up in the next two weeks. Hands on biology is happening all around us. Our monarch caterpillars are growing like crazy. We have chicken eggs in an incubator that should hatch in the next couple of weeks. We went on a field trip to an educational forest where we saw a beaver dam and pond, forest progression, and learned about forest ecology. We went hiking where we saw wasp eggs (at least we think that is what they are), spider nests wrapped up in ferns, turtles, and lots of beautiful plants. Oh, I almost forgot. We also rehomed to our house two black racers. Our friends did not want them to stay at their houses, so we boxed them up and released them in our yard!
Spring is here! We are loving the weather. Things are winding down Sawyer and Parks had their last writing class on Tuesday. Parks had to present his research paper on the history of snowboarding.
Wednesday, we headed on a hike to Boone’s Cave. We saw lots of critters and beautiful flowers. Later in the afternoon, a friend of mine came over to bring me some milkweed plants. We decided to run down to Latta Plantation to check on our butterfly garden that we planted there a few years ago. While we were there, we found some monarch eggs! Let the fun begin!
We ended the week with our end of year testing, planning for the summer and the end of Sims’s second Brave Writer Class-Essay Prep for the Research Paper. This class was tough. There was a lot more work than in the Dynamic Thinking class. I think he would have benefitted from another two weeks of the class. He learned a lot, and I think he needed more time to process all of the information inorder to properly complete the paper intended. We are learning! Now we are off to play on the lake.
About a month or two ago, we were excited to see a monarch in our butterfly garden. We have seen several different types of swallow tails and moths, but we have been trying to attract monarchs for a while. Well now we have tons of monarchs! Not only do we have monarchs but we have eggs and caterpillars! We have so many that we are sharing them with others. So far, four other families are helping to care for some caterpillars. In our family, we have already had one group of eggs hatch and morph into monarchs. We have about 35 caterpillars now! And there are a ton more on our milkweed in the back yard.
A new passion has arisen among two of my three children-rock climbing. The kids climbed at the US Whitewater Center many times when they were younger. They always enjoyed the thrill of completing a route. I remember the first time that Sims climbed with a person belaying him instead of using the autobelay. I think this is when he became hooked. He saved up and purchased his own harness, which he passed down to Sawyer and now Parks.
Fast foward a few years…Sims and Sawyer display amazing confidence in the climbing gym and on a rock face. They both have learned how to read routes and to know how they climb. They have learned so much about self-control, breathing, mindfulness, and how to work with what you have (short stature, tall stature, less flexibility, anxiety…). They are learning about safety while climbing outdoors and how to help rescue fellow climbers.
They utilize many of our school lessons while climbing. Sims researches outdoor climbing areas to learn about the rock type. His geology lessons from last year are being put to use now. He understands the importance of weather on the rock. He discusses the physics behind the different types of gear used and why each is important. He looks at the terrain to get to the rock faces. They both train and show true commitment to the sport. I look forward to watching them grow in this passion!
We recently began a 4H group in our area which has opened up some new opportunities for us. One new opportunity is primitive studies. Charcoal making initiated the series. One of the fathers of the group taught the class. Everyone had a can filled with a various type of wood-MDF, plywood, pine, oak, black maple, cedar, cherry and cotton (not a wood, but we did make charcoal with it). We placed them in the fire and waited…and waited…and waited. Initially, we only saw the steam come out of the containers.
Next, the wood went through pyrolysis.
Finally, the wood turned into charcoal.
The class was absolutely fascinating. We saw how tar is a byproduct of burning (and had a lesson on how tar can coat your lungs from a burning cigaret). We are looking forward to using the coal to smith some iron next!!
When the kids turn 10, Nick told them that they could pick out a spot to visit. Sims chose Puerto Rico. Sawyer originally chose Italy, but this was not in the budget. She got a surprise trip to the Florida Keys. Parks turned 10 in 2016, but he didn’t know where he wanted to go. Over the past year, he finally decided that he wanted to visit the western United States. Thus, we headed to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nick and I visited there 18 years ago and loved it. We were excited to share the city with the kids. We headed out on a Tuesday morning and arrived Tuesday evening. After a long day in the plane, we checked into our air bnb, found a local restaurant for some dinner, and hit the grocery store.
While in Salt Lake, we took the kids skiing. We had a blast watching them hit the slopes. They have all skied since they were about 3 or 4. However, they learned in North Carolina-a big difference from Utah! They all rocked the slopes! We may have ruined them forever. 🙂
We also found several skate parks in the area for Parks to play at. He brought his scooter along.
We also headed out to the actual Great Salt Lake and learned some of the history and science of the area.
Overall, a fun and very relaxing trip. The weather was perfect for hanging out-not great for snow fall, but there was enough snow on the mountains to enjoy the skiing. These days are going by too fast! It is times like these that I realize how quickly the time is going. I love that I get the opportunity to share these memories with my kids.
Yep, you read that correctly! We finally got up and outside to hike. It was about time. Friday Hikes got lost somehow this school year. We decided that not getting in the woods is contributing to us all getting sick more often this year (forest bathing-as it is called-has been found to improve the immune system). Thus, we sent out a text to a group of our hiking buddies to see who was up for a hike. We got a few takers and met up with some friends along the way. Our youngest hiker even showed me a new spot in the park. I thought that I had hiked all of the park, but I was wrong. She showed me(and the rest of the hikers) a fun spot tucked in the woods complete with a ravine and a creek.