Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Signs of Life

Summer Squash Starts

After the snow melts and the threat of frost recedes like the chilly tide, I get antsy.  I start to check weather sites online; comparing them to one another sometimes a few times a day. I go in and out the front door testing the air, sniffing and (by my sheer force of will) urging spring to arrive. I order my seeds and make a diagram of how I'd like to order this years' garden.  Jason begins to pace and says things like, "Well, do you need me to buy some more wood? Are there any upgrades or changes that need to be made this year? What are we going to grow?" and the ever present, "So, what's the plan?" We watch. Wait. Pace. Tap on the windows. Hope... Order our seeds and start our seedlings and then wait some more.
We have waited long enough!

I think it's safe to say that SPRING HAS ARRIVED! Wheeew!  What a relief.  I am so over store bought greens and snap peas.  I could just gag.  I can almost taste the first fresh from the garden salad. Sigh... Please, Spring, have mercy on us! Stick around. Help us grow. Warm our soil and feed our crops.  Nourish us.

Some early spring photos from the Hall family garden:

Strawberry Flowers


Snap Peas

More Strawberries

Monday, April 23, 2012

Homeschool Physics

 Teetering in the Garden: Lessons in Physics


Teeter Totter Physics

  • A teeter totter is technically a form of lever in which the fulcrum--where the teeter totter is hinged--is placed exactly at the center. When two equal weights sit at equal distances from the fulcrum, the teeter totter is equally balanced. Any small force applied by either end will cause the teeter totter to move up and down.
    Hold Still, Jesse!
    This equal balance can be changed in two ways. If the two weights are unequal the teeter totter will tend to descend on the side of greater weight. To move the teeter totter, the heavier child needs to push harder to get off the ground. Riders can also upset the equal balance of the teeter totter by sitting at different distances from the fulcrum.


 Riding a Teeter Totter with Different Weights

  • The physics of the teeter totter shows the way to allow two children of different weights to successfully ride the equipment. For best results, the heavier child should sit closer to the fulcrum than the lighter child. The lighter child's increased distance from the fulcrum will make up for the lesser weight. This can be tested by both children sitting on the teeter totter at differing distances from the center. When the teeter totter moves easily with the slightest effort from the children, they are balanced.



Way to Study, Kids!

Analyzing Data and Drawing a Conclusion

Communicating Results

*The donkey ears are not an official part of the experiment.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Food Fun and Friends at the Spring Fair

Oh My Goodness! What a day! We spent our Family Day at the Puyallup Spring Fair with some dear friends.  It was divine. The sun was shining, the rides were whirling, the children were skipping and the food was frying.  Yum.  Just in case you were wondering where to find the cutest children on the planet; I found them! They were at the Spring Fair the very same day we were! Imagine that. (Snicker)

See what I mean? I found them! The cutest kids  on the entire planet.

Kaela and  Ellanor spent the day hand in hand.  They are at that fantastic age where everything is an adventure and the next giggle is never more than a moment away.  Watching them discover the fair and make memories together was a mother's delight.

Boys Buddies and Baby Goats

Just after we moved to Washington I learned that I have farming in my blood. Apparently, my paternal great grandparents were raised on a farm in eastern Washington.  As the story goes, they even had a family feud over a piece of land and a darling yellow farm house.  Look at them... I guess it it's in the blood, eh?

Way to go, Kids!

Look at this Handsome Fellow!

The four kids paired off and had a blast on the swings.

Great Grins!

What Fun!

However, the kids version of the swing ride proved too tame for our adventure seeking daughters.  They had their sights set on the full sized swings.  Yeah, the ride that towers above the fair like a twirling tower of doom... or at least that is how it looked to me.  I mean this thing triggered all kinds of phobia. 

Twirling Tower of Terror

 The girls squealed, gasped and giggled.  Pointing and jumping up and down the begging began.  I tried all the tricks in my bag.  I warned them that the line looked so long that we probably wouldn't have time to do anything after that ride.  I warned them that they were most likely not quite tall enough for this sort of ride yet.  Maybe next time...

Tall Enough!

Much to my dismay, those daring divas were plenty tall enough.  I was out of excuses.  It was time to let them fly or tell the them that I was too afraid to let them go. Of course, they were THRILLED and perfectly happy to wait in the long line I had warned them about. It actually moved pretty quickly.  
Thumbs Up! Ready for Takeoff!
 Once it was our turn, my girlfriend and I buckled those giggling girls in and let them fly!

Up Up and Away!

Into The Sun!

Cotton Candy!


The anticipation was almost too much.  Those seemingly sweet girls working the cotton candy machine tortured these poor kids with every swoop around the big candy making bowl...

It's Too Much. I Can't Watch.

Nervously Hoping

At Last!!!

OH Yeah! 

We finished the day off with one last hoorah, a Krusty Pup and a soda. Nils wisely chose an apple instead. 

See you next year, Puyallup Spring Fair!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Family Planting

We bought FRUIT TREES today!  Long have we coveted having our own.  And recently we have finally completed enough planning and prep work to be ready to plant.  We met this really great guy at the nursery this morning.  He helped us choose the trees best for our family needs and gave us the "better than the basics" introduction to caring for our new fruit trees. We came home with a Honeycrisp apple tree, and a Fuji apple tree, a Stanley Plum, a Frost Peach and two fig trees.  All of our trees are the dwarf variety but should be sufficient for our family needs.  Here are some photos from the day.

Our Frost Peach!  As Jason was digging the hole for this peach he hit a root from an old pine we removed last year.  It was at least 6 inches in diameter and seriously water logged.  He was able to use the Sawzall to remove it only to discover a layer of asphalt just beneath the wretched root.  As he wiped the sweat off his brow he mentioned that he, "gets the first peach from this tree." Uhhh, Yeah, and maybe the even the second.  We still had three more trees to plant.  We hoped for better luck.

Good Work, Kaela!

Jason and Kaela broke ground for the second tree, our Stanley Plum, together.  Once again the Sawzall was employed but this root was only a few inches in diameter and much more easily removed. Kaela was an enthusiastic participant!

A Few More...

Kaela got to try her hand at the Sawzall today. She didn't really love it... but she sure was brave.

Tough Stuff

Roots, Beware!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Whidbey Vignettes

We needed a get away... Desperately.  Mima was coming to town and we decided to pack it (and her) up and head to Whidbey Island for a weekend of beach combing adventures, exploring and eating.  My little naturalists have been begging for some time at a beach and were immediately imagining what they might find when we told them to pack up their gear!  Dad remembered to bring the binoculars, one for each pair of child's eyes, and they started their search the moment the wheels began to roll... 

Jesse Looking for Eagles

Our first trip out to the water was at high tide.  We weren't expecting to find much. It was quite rainy; though nobody seemed to mind too much.  Frankly, I think we were all thrilled just to be at the water enjoying the fresh air and sounds of the sea.  We thoroughly enjoyed getting familiar with our new beach, Useless Bay.  All sorts of adventures, discoveries and scientific findings unfolded as we explored every nook and cranny of that beach.  Jason took some beautiful photos...

Useless Bay (Our Bay)
 We found an old... thing to explore.  It provided a great photo op and a perfect adventure for the kids.

Kaela In The Thingy

Jason found some grass growing on drift wood.  Naturally, he turned it into ART.  Here are a few more shots.

Kaela's independent spirit and desire to find out what's around the next bend was intoxicating to watch and a bit contagious.  What's better than exploring with a child? Every line the tide makes, each rock and even the sand itself is mysterious. Kaela got a bee in her bonnet and couldn't be settled until she found the route to the sand bar in the distance.  She finally found it! It was quite a hike.  Along the way I discovered that my rubber boots weren't water tight.  No matter!  Who cares about wet feet when there is an adventure to be had?

There She Goes   

Jesse and I weren't far behind.  But that plank Kaela glided across was slippery!  We were not without calamity.  After multiple slips and a few tears Jesse and I made it across the plank and over the tide pool; he on the plank and I in water with leaky boots.  On the way back, he looked up and me and asked, "Am I a big boy, Mom? Because I can do this?" Yeah, Bug.  You're a Big Boy!

Well Done, Son
Jesse found a tiny crab claw.  After a brief examination and a significant amount of "ooo-ing and awww-ing" we put it in his pocket.  What else would we have done with it?

  A couple of parting shots from our morning visit to the beach:

Our Favorite Morning Time Find