Thursday, February 06, 2014

Nature Study - Vegetable regrowth

We have been doing a lot more nature study this year. I enjoy it so much and the kids are starting to get on board with the idea. We try and talk nature walks once or twice a week. I don't always have the kids do entries in their nature journals, but they often do without prompting. We follow the monthly Outdoor Hour Challenges from Barb at Handbook of Nature Study. We try and pick a few each month that give us more of a purpose when going out on our walks.

Today we set up a simple experiment for following the growth (or not) of tuberous vegetables. This is a very simple set up, easy and fun to follow. This challenge was in the January Outdoor Hour newsletter. We picked five different root vegetables, turnip, radish, carrot, rutabaga, and yam. We cut off part of the bottom, pocked toothpicks around and set them in containers of water, with the base in the water. We got the instructions and notebook page from Hearts and Trees.

The kids used the notebook page to draw the set up. We will keep an eye out and note any changes we observe. We set the tray of containers on our nature table in front of a window. Hopefully at least some of them will sprout some growth.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Nature Study - Pond - January

Our weather has been very crazy this winter, with extreme highs and lows, not a lot of snow, but a few heavy rain storms. The last few weeks have been very cold with most nights below zero.

Today was a bit warmer, I think we made it to 20 degrees. We decided to do our monthly pond observation before we ran out of January days.

The wind was blowing hard on the big side of the lake. The snow was moving across the ice and we saw a few little twisters of snow.

Our pond side of the lake was much calmer. As you can see it is heavily iced over.

There was signs of our recent rain storm as the water from the river ran over the ice bringing a lot of debris with it. The ice was very irregular and you could see were some pieces of ice had pushed up over others.

Gabe loved the idea of walking on the ice and explored quite a bit out on the ice. The other guys weren't too sure although I assured them it was plenty thick enough. Dan finally did go out, but not too far. Hannah tried out the ice along the edge and Rachel stayed safely on land.

As we explored the area around the lake, we found very little signs of life. The wind had been blowing so maybe most animal tracks had been smoothed over. This little evergreen tree managed to push itself through the snow. We spotted some dried up fungi and a few very sad looking ferns.

This very interesting leaf print was very clear. I'm not sure how it was made. Perhaps a leaf was on the snow, causing the snow to melt underneath it and then was blown away. It was interesting however it was formed.

The highlight of the excursion was a little brook that runs into the pond. It was frozen over in most places, but there were a few holes open. This little waterfall was frozen in so many different little icicles and drops. You could hear and see the water still running underneath in places and right at the bottom of the falls was a sheet of ice that was very clear and you could see the water making its way to the pond.

One area showed a lot of grape vines strangling little trees and making a clear spot where it smothered out all other vegetation.

As the sun began to set, we made our way back to the van. Gabe wanted to walk across the ice. You can see all the windswept surfaces. It was a very beautiful scene and although we didn't see a lot, it was a fun outing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nature Study - Pond - December

December has been a very busy month for us and the days just zipped on by. We almost missed our pond study. Brian and the kids had gone skiing earlier, but when they got home we decided to venture out and see what was happening at the pond.

All was frozen over with just a dusting of snow that we received in the morning. It always amazes me how quickly changes occur usually because of the weather. All the water birds are gone and we heard very few song birds. It was cold and windy. Of course all the aquatic life has either gone into hibernation or is happily living under the ice. I'm hoping to get out on the ice next month and drill a hole or two and see what we can see.

There were lots of seeds from various plants. The red sumac seed heads are so pretty this time of year.

We spotted this weaver nest...most probably around here from an Oriole.

The acorn was tucked into this rotting tree. We did not place it here. Rachel and I thought it funny.

There were some fungus plants scattered around on trees and branches. This downed-tree was covered.

Now here is some evidence of life. A beaver must be visiting this tree. There was quite a pile of wood chips at the base.

Hannah and Dan spend most of their time throwing rocks on the ice trying to break it. It was much thicker than I thought it might be. Before long we will see Ice Fishermen frequenting the lake.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Afternoon in Stamford

After a very nice morning, we headed over to Mom and Dad's for our Christmas dinner and get together with family. Thankful for dry roads as some areas north of us had suffered a significant ice storm.

My three brothers and their families were there. There is always so much yummy food and this year we all made some type of many goodies.

Glenn, Walt and Dan enjoy the food table.

Some of the lovely ladies snaking. All these girls are growing up and becoming such wonderful young women. Love them all.

We were able to Skype with Sally and Tom. We passed the iPad around and everyone gave their Christmas greetings.

We gathered in the living room to open presents. It was very full this year. So much living happens in this room and has for many, many years.

Hannah sat on Papa's lap and I told her she had to smile for a picture. She did a great job.

Dave and Zeb watching the activity and waiting their turn to open their gifts.

It was a wonderful day. New beginnings as Bess celebrated her first Christmas in Denmark and we without her here in the USA. Nothing stays the same and we talked about how the family is shifting again as the next generation grows up, marries and starts families of their own. It is all a bit bittersweet, but as it should be. We adjust, get used to a new way and enjoy the moments we have. New memories to store away. Life is good.

Christmas Eve and Morning

We had a very nice Christmas Eve service. I only took a few pictures and am always reluctant to post pictures of other folks without their permission, so you will have imagine low light, beautiful music and God's word. The Christmas story is told clearly through scripture and song. It is always such a beautiful service.

I had already started on the wrapping (that hasn't happened in many years), so Brian and I were done and relaxing pretty early for us. We drank hot tea, enjoyed cuddles on the couch and the glow of the Christmas Tree and candles. The children were all in bed, but the other three were still chatting and laughing upstairs. It makes me smile to hear them.

Presents wrapped and stockings stuffed. Ready for the morning.

No pre-dawn hour get up anymore as our kids are older now. We all leisurely made way downstairs. Gabe is not an early riser, but he did his best and didn't complain at being woken up.

The other guys are earlier risers and they were all bright eyed and ready to go.

Punchie was helping Brian pass out the gifts. The cat was actually pretty funny as our tree has been up for almost two weeks and he hasn't bothered it once...until Christmas morning. He started batting at the ornaments and chewing on the branches. Maybe he was as excited as we were.

Max is always very helpful with holding down any blankets that happen to be on the floor...whether they are being occupied or not. Both the dogs love Gabe and took turns snuggling with him on the floor.

Dan got down to business quickly with his action figures and Legos. He is very serious about these things.

Rachel was totally surprised by her Kindle. We were able to get a very good deal on Black Friday.

We did not have a white Christmas this year as the wonderful snow we had last week melted very quickly with our very warm weekend. There are still patches about, but not enough to count.

The day was very relaxed and enjoyable. We had waffles and sausage for breakfast. We had time to enjoy our gifts and lounge about. I had time to finish my baking. We Skyped with Bess and Daniel. We miss them. We are glad for technology and the ability to spend some time with them via the Internet. All was very good.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Project Feeder Watch

This year we are participating in Project Feeder Watch. This is a great program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It helps them track and monitor bird populations across the USA and Canada. We've done it before, but haven't in quite a few years. I thought it would be a fun way for the children to learn some of our local birds and well, I just love any excuse to watch the birds.

We've had a good variety of birds with 15 species so far, including the little Goldfinches. I have been very happy with the activity at the feeders.

We offer a wide variety of feeder types and feed, including black oil sunflower seed, peanuts, Nyjer seed, suet and a few combinations. We also provide water all winter with a heated bird bath.

The Cardinals are always so beautiful against the snow.

Blue Jays are regular visitors and are a bit bullyish on the feeders, but they are so funny and colorful.

We have three species of woodpeckers that visit the feeders most days, including this little Downy Woodpecker.

Here is a list of all the feeds/feeders and birds we've observed so far this winter season.

Suet cage
Peanut ring
Nyjer tube
peanut butter/suet dough log
Heated bird bath

Food types:
Black oil sunflower
Finch mix
Suet cakes and dough
Whole peanuts
Fruit & nut mix
Peanut butter

Species of birds:
Black-capped Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Northern Cardinal
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Mourning Dove
Tufted Titmouse
Red-bellied Woodpecker
American Tree Sparrow
Hairy Woodpecker
White-throated Sparrow
House Sparrow

Monday, December 16, 2013

Decorating the Tree

Coordinating everyone's schedules is proving to be quite the challenge these days. So planning any family activity requires everything to line up just right. So, picking out a Christmas tree is no longer a day long event to the tree farm, with plenty of time to search for just the right tree, cutting it ourselves, snowball fights and wrestling in the snow. This year we stopped on our way through at our local Agway store, walked around for a few minutes and settled on a nice tree. The ambiance isn't quite the same, but it gets the job done.

Things weren't quite the same this year without Bess. We put a few of her ornaments on and had her in our hearts as we decorated.

Tree all set up and ready to go.

Brian and I set up the lights.

Nice job, Brian.

I didn't get any shots of the us decorating, but Rachel put on the star.

And here it is all decorated. Our tree is so different each year...some short and fat, some taller and skinny, but I love everyone. The tree holds so many memories within the ornaments that hang there. Through in all the fresh fallen snow and it is a picture perfect tree.

Me and my love in front of our tree.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


We had Thanksgiving dinner at Glenn and Theresa's this year. Theresa is such a gracious hostess, always pulling off a wonderful meal and making everyone feel welcome and certainly well fed. So much yummy food and she does it all with a smile.

We had a great day of visiting with Mom and Dad, Walt and his friend Deb and Robin (Theresa's sister) and her family. We all have spent many Thanksgivings together, so the crowd is relaxed and easy. There was plenty of football to watch and lives to catch up on as we were scattered around visiting. We missed Bess but were able to Skype with her Daniel for a bit so everyone could say hi. Denmark does not celebrate Thanksgiving, and I think this year was a tough one for all of us being our first apart.

Three of my lovely nieces. So pretty. Love you girls. :-)

I think this was the only picture of Gabe. I asked him for one and this is the best we could manage. Sure hope this no-photo phase passes soon.

So much love and friendship around this table. Thank you Theresa and Glenn for once again hosting our family Thanksgiving. You are the best.