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Archive for the ‘spontaneous learning’ Category

train arrives

My family has a tradition of attending the Balboa Park holiday festival, December Nights. As a child my grandpa used to work in Spanish Village at the Gem and Mineral Society and then for awhile he had his own shop open there. My grandma’s Garden Club used to enter a decorated tree into the tree show every year, and some organization they were a part of always served chili in the bottom floor of the Natural History Museum. Since all the museums are free on these two nights, this was when my family took us to them. We would visit the art museum, the Museum of Man, The Model Railroad Museum, the science center, the auto and aerospace museums, and the Natural History Museum all in one night while still making time for hot cider, watching performances, riding the miniature train, poking around Spanish Village and visiting the international cottages. I don’t understand how we accomplished this with four (and sometimes more) kids when my family can only manage about 1/4 of all that with half the kids.

polishing a spherical rock

learning about rocks

lego train goes by

lego town

Anyway, this year we rode the train (which did not go over well, although Elliott gave it a good shot – the tunnel is too loud for him), visited the Gem & Mineral Society (and watched them polish rocks and broke our own geodes), visited the Model Railroad Museum (Lego! Trains!), and then wandered down to the auto museum before it was time to catch the bus back to the parking garage. The night started out clear but as we left the model trains, we walked out into a surprising and very thickly foggy night. It was chilly (which was really exciting for us Californians! Winter!) and a lovely evening even if it was shorter than I wished it was.

family

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Here in a small* coastal suburb of San Diego we rarely get thunder or big storms of any sort. When we do get thunder it’s during the night and usually consists of one to three claps before it’s done. During the summer we get an occasional rumble in the distance due to monsoonal flows, but really it’s essentially foreign to us.

And then we had yesterday. It thundered all.day.long. Even right here in the city! San Diego on the whole had over 2,000 strikes yesterday. The kids handled it all very well up until we had one big storm pretty much directly overhead in the afternoon. We lost power for a minute or so and that combined with the extra-loud claps and rumbles sent Margie over the edge. So we all stayed in my room. Elliott played Legos, and Margie and I read some Norwegian myths. Once it was over and things had calmed down in the evening, we went outside to SPLASH.

During the day we looked up some information on how lightning and thunder work, how we should behave during a storm, and the kids both got to witness streaks of lightning across the sky for possibly the first time each. It was a spectacular day and even if it was scary for a little bit I’m glad we got to enjoy the power of nature – from safe inside our home.

*If by “small” I mean “second largest city in the county.”

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Recently, while Alex was spending the weekend at Comic Con, I decided to take the kids out to the mountains to a place I used to love to visit for hikes and picnics. We had so much fun at Green Valley Falls that day, that we decided to go back, this time with my friend Summer. As we drove away, Elliott announced, “We’re going to Greenland!” Um. Sort of?

We enjoyed a picnic lunch. If by “enjoy” I mean “mobbed by yellow jackets.” They were after our food. So after a valiant attempt to ignore them, there came a point where we just couldn’t, so we decided to picnic in the van. Which is sort of like enjoying nature, right?

In addition to yellow jackets, we observed squirrels (including a long speech by one!), rabbits, dragon and damselflies, water skippers, other water bugs, jays and other birds and the usual trees and plants.

After we were full, we took the short hike down to river. There is one point where the water is very slow and calm and perfect for small children. Summer and I set the camping chairs right in the water and enjoyed dipping our feet in the icy water while the sun shown on our backs. Margie spent sometime shortly downstream on a natural water slide of sorts. Both kids had a blast and Summer and I felt refreshed and blessed as well.

I had forgotten my camera, so these are all Summer’s pictures.

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On Sunday we took a walk and came across two ladybugs, one black with red spots and the other more traditionally colored but with more dots than I am used to.

two ladies

black ladybug face

black ladybug bum

We have seen some smaller black ladybugs with two dots before, but none with four dots until now. I also found it interesting that we found these two together and on pavement, not a plant.

We are sending them in to this website my friend Kirsten told me about awhile ago.

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Today we just finished up work for the week. Elliott had a worksheet to do which involved circling things that began with the letter D – I was not going to insist on any work from him at this age, but it occurred to me recently that he may benefit from being asked to think outside his brain. A few weeks ago we played a board game at a friend’s house and it took many tries to get him to really HEAR what we were saying, but by the end of it, I felt he had gained something more than just finishing the game. In any case, I did not have to insist, he was all over it. But I may pull out one of the Kindy workbooks I have and slowly work with him through it.

Margie did the usual basics – math, copywork, spelling (she didn’t have any pages today, so she just recited all the words out loud instead), etc.

Once that was done, we did some painting with apples. I have never yet made successful apple stamps, but these guys were so small that I am sure it only made things harder. Anyhow, the kids had fun (and we reviewed mixing colors, as well)

mixing colors

apple stampers, mini

painting with apples

After lunch we headed to knitting group. Bethany joined us today which was really nice because I get to see her so rarely. I think the kids were a bit wild for Annalie (something aligned in the skies that made sharing harder than usual, I think) so I hope they enjoyed themselves anyhow.

While there, Margie worked on learning to crochet flowers. Bethany helped her on the first one and then she did the second by memory. Bethany also made about 30 headbands while there because, I think, she holds the record for Speediest Crocheter.

bethany helps margie out

making a flower

my girlie's eyes

ring around the rosy

It was a long day out and we got home with only time for dinner before bed – late enough that the orbweavers were out. Margie found this guy directly in our path but he spied us and scooted right to the bush and waited there while we watched him. I gently took his web down, hoping he’d get the hint to build elsewhere and it seems to have worked (knock wood).

big fat orbweaver

(Our bush is covered with that black stuff, I once overheard the landlord talking to the gardener and calling it a disease that looks like soot – or something.)

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Yesterday Elliott spotted a butterfly so we sat and watched it for quite awhile. It was a light grayish color with some almost bluish color inside the wings. It had orange dots at the bottom of it’s wings and what looked like antennae below the dots. It’s body was quite white and I could see his face clearly. We noticed how he moved the two parts of wing separately. He wasn’t afraid of us, and although he refused to walk onto our fingers, he always flew back to the plat we were near.

Coming into the house, we looked him up and figured he must be a gray hairstreak which just happened to be featured on What’s That Bug? today (more proof the world revolves around me).

On second thought, though, I think I changed my mind and decided he must be a white hairstreak instead because they gray one is just a little too dark. I didn’t have my camera so only memory to go on.

Even so, the world still revolves around me.

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~My morning to sleep in which meant The Daddy was in charge which meant no one ate breakfast and they watched The Neverending Story again. Daddies are fun like that.
~After breakfast, the kids played together, helped with chores, drew clues (Elliott) and played with rubber stamps (Margie). They also drew pictures of people barfing. This is the next generation, people. Aren’t you proud?
~Kids read/looked at books.
~Lunch.
~After lunch we headed out to run some errands.
~First stop: library. I had one book that I could no longer renew, and the kids had to turn in their reading cards for more prizes. M did another 12 hours this week, E did 3 more.
~In the car, M looked at a book about Babylonia.
~On the way out to Trader Joe’s, I pointed out to the kids that we were racing clouds. M and I would watch as the line of cloud shadow caught up to us and then passed us while we had to obey traffic signals. Since Trader Joe’s is on the border of Middle of Nowhere, I drove the kids out to the old Proctor Valley Road (not to be confused with the new, paved, developed part) where we parked alongside the dirt road and got out underneath a tree. We stood there watching the cloud shadows roll across us and the mountains. M observed for the first time the fact that clouds move and that they make shadows. So we talked about how anything that light falls upon will make a shadow, even bubbles. And then we talked about how some shadows are transparent (bubbles, balloons) and some are solid. It was a really nice impromptu lesson that left me feeling warm and fuzzy. Funny thing was that Bethany and I were just discussing cloud shadows on Monday when we met at the park.

proctor valley view

~Stopped at the new playground next to Trader Joe’s. I got some work done while the kids played.
~Back at home, E decided I was EVIL for having cut a spot off his banana and he has so far spent the rest of the afternoon screaming at the drop of a hat. Yay.
~I made some lemon bars b/c Bethany gave us some lemons the other day. M cracked the eggs. I mostly forgot to follow the recipe properly. We will see how that goes. (Update: It went not bad!)
~Dinner where Elliott chose to try the chicken AND LIKED IT. Tantrums: all worth while.
~Kids helped to clean up – they did great. M is getting really good at cleaning her room well and without complaining.
~Stories and speech at bedtime.

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