Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love You More

A poem a day...

it takes less than a minute most days.

Yet it enriches our thoughts immensely.

Here is one I just loved from our our Poet this term, Sara Teasdale.

by Sara Teasdale

They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one,
I laughed aloud when they were done;
I knew them all so well before, -
Oh they were blind, too blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Discerning What Literature is Good For Our Children

The topic at our monthly CM discussion this month was: Discerning What is Good or Harmful for our Children in Literature, Art, Music, etc.

We arrived to bubbling hot chocolate on the stove, fresh pot of coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer and several treats to tempt the palate - what a warm welcome! Then to top the evening off, we were served crispy oven baked french bread with bubbling brie and berry preserves by a toasty warm fireplace - thank you Brianne! I really think we need to discuss CM more often!

If you'd like to join us in the discussion on this topic you can do so at Charlotte Mason Education here: http://charlottemasoneducation.ning.com/forum/topics/discerning-what-is-good-or
If you aren't already a member (which is free and open to all interested in CM), just request membership and we'll approve you asap.

First and foremost, I think it needs saying that because we come from many different life experiences and beliefs, have children of differing ages and are at different points in our journey of educating our children, we clearly aren't looking to hammer out the one and only truth that applies to us all in discussing this topic. Rather, by discussing it and sharing perspectives we can hopefully further clarify our own thoughts.

As we travel down the CM road of educating our children through literature, we encounter fairy tales with its talking animals, fairies, spells, witches and beasts. History with its martyrs, cruel dictators, wars and tribulations. Shakespeare full of romance, death, trickery, evil, comedy and more. Greek myths with its pagan gods and heroes, and abundant literature with its wealth of imaginings.

It's no wonder we as parents stop at some point and ask, "Is this really appropriate or good for my children?"

Some parents choose to eliminate it altogether, often quoting Phillippians 4:8. Others see no reason not to share it with their children so long as they are there to discuss it with them and refer to scriptures such as Col 2:20-23. There are also those who stick to what is concrete and eliminate the abstract, believing that young children are incapable of handling the abstract. And then there are those who fall somewhere in between, picking and choosing, skipping over and rephrasing things as they go.

Regardless of where our beliefs lie, scriptures like Romans 14:14 seem to indicate that next to God's Word, we ought to follow our conscience in the matter.

Charlotte Mason believed, that the knowledge of God, the knowledge of man and the knowledge of the Universe was an inheritance every child has a right to. In trying to find what she thought on this topic, I came across a few things she wrote that may apply here.

Now we must deal with a child of man, who has a natural desire to know the history of his race and of his nation, what men thought in the past and are thinking now; the best thoughts of the best minds taking form as literature, and at its highest as poetry, or, as poetry rendered in the plastic forms of art: as a child of God, whose supreme desire and glory it is to know about and to know his almighty Father: as a person of many parts and passions who must know how to use, care for, and discipline himself, body, mind and soul: as a person of many relationships,––to family, city, church, state, neighbouring states, the world at large: as the inhabitant of a world full of beauty and interest, the features of which he must recognise and know how to name, and a world too, and a universe, whose every function of every part is ordered by laws which he must begin to know. It is a wide programme founded on the educational rights of man; wide, but we may not say it is impossible nor may we pick and choose and educate him in this direction but not in that. We may not even make choice between science and the 'humanities.' Our part it seems to me is to give a child a vital hold upon as many as possible of those wide relationships proper to him. (Vol. 6, p.157)

The object of children's literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in the reign of whom?––but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians and the makers of tales, have left us living pictures. In such ways the children secure, not the sort of information which is of little cultural value, but wide spaces wherein imagination may take those holiday excursions deprived of which life is dreary; judgment, too, will turn over these folios of the mind and arrive at fairly just decisions about a given strike, the question of Poland, Indian Unrest. Every man is called upon to be a statesman seeing that every man and woman, too, has a share in the government of the country; but statesmanship requires imaginative conceptions, formed upon pretty wide reading and some familiarity with historical precedents. (Vol. 6, p. 184)

Mother and Child, Francis Coates Jones

Now Plutarch is like the Bible in this, that he does not label the actions of his people as good or bad but leaves the conscience and judgment of his readers to make that classification. What to avoid and how to avoid it, is knowledge as important to the citizen whether of the City of God or of his own immediate city, as to know what is good and how to perform the same.

Children recognise with incipient weariness thedoctored tale as soon as it is begun to be told, but the human story with its evil and its good never flags in interest. Jacob does not pall upon us though he was the elect of God. We recognise the justice of his own verdict on himself, "few and evil have been the days of my life." We recognise the finer integrity of the foreign kings and rulers that he is brought in contact with, just as in the New Testament the Roman Centurion is in every case a finer person than the religious Jew. Perhaps we are so made that the heroic which is all heroic, the good which is all virtuous, palls upon us, whereas we preach little sermons to ourselves on the text of the failings and weaknesses of those great ones with whom we become acquainted in our reading.

Children like ourselves must see life whole if they are to profit. At the same time they must be protected from grossness and rudeness by means of the literary medium through which they are taught. A daily newspaper is not on a level with Plutarch's Lives, nor with Andrew Lang's Tales of Troy and Greece, though possibly the same class of incidents may appear in both. (Vol.6, p.186-187)

Oh how I wish we could have her at one of our meetings for some Q&A! It seems to me from what I've read that CM, always with an eye on quality and interest for the children, would have been on the more liberal side in what she presented her students while removing anything rude, offensive, or inappropriate. We can see from the books and authors that she does mention in many of her writings: Hans Christian Anderson, Brothers Grimm, Aesop's Fables, Age of Fable, Plutarch, Our Island Story, etc. more specifically what she would have included in her curriculum.

One of the ladies at the meeting mentioned that having read the Greek myths with her children, they were able to make a connection with it when they read Acts in the Bible. The literature had opened up a better understanding of the time and place and thinking of the pagans Paul encountered in the Bible.

We also talked at the meeting about the difference between an adult's depth of emotion and understanding and a child's. When we read something tragic, it affects us deeply and we may continue to think about it for days and months, while my experience with my 9yo daughter and 7yo son has been that they are sad for the tragic, but 2 minutes later they are asking where their lunch is. They likely don't relate and understand tragedy as deeply as I do because of their limited life experience.

That's not to say all children are this way - some children are very sensitive and are troubled easily by one thing or another, which again confirms that these are individual decisions.

Kristine, always our go-to gal for books, brought an interesting book to our meeting titled "Brightest Heaven of Invention: A Christian Guide To Six Shakespeare Plays" by Peter J. Leithart and shared some of what he said with us. In it, he has a section titled 'A Christian Approach to Literary Study' which she found very applicable to what we were discussing.

Here's some of what Leithart writes. Keep in mind he is writing with the adult, not children in mind:

Christians have often had a difficult time with the study of literature. Fiction has been seen as a seductive distraction from the serious business of holy living. Poetry's rich language has been viewed as a means of promoting beautiful false-hoods. Drama has been condemned for depicting immorality and violence, for tempting audiences to lust and anger. So, ... why study literature at all? Why should the Christian spend time with novels or plays or short stories? Shouldn't we be concerned with "real life," with edifying the Church and building God's kingdom, with witness and worship?

Great question. He goes on to say:

Since language is one of man's greatest glories, it is also potentially one of his most dangerous pitfalls. ... Having recognized the danger of abuse, however, we need not conclude that therefore literature has no proper use. For the same reason that language may be used to commit evil, its use in speech and writing is near the heart of what it means to live as a creature in God's image.

Shakespeare was, as Caesar says of Cassius, "a great observer," who was able to look "quite through the deeds of men," able to see and depict patterns of events and character. He understood how politics is shaped by the clash of men with various colorings of self-interest and idealism, how violence breeds violence, how fragile human beings create masks and disguises for protection, how schemers do the same for advancement, how love can grow out of hate and hate out of love. Dare anyone say that these insights are irrelevant to living in the real world? For many in an older generation, the Bible and the Collected Shakespeare were the two indispensable books, and thus their sense of life and history was shaped by the best and best-told stories. And they were the wiser for it.

The point came up a couple of times at our meeting that reading literature with our children gave rise to great discussions that would likely never have happened otherwise. Discussions on character, good and evil and truth and deception are an opportunity to train our children in discernment.

I also found this point he made interesting...

Christians must avoid the danger of forming judgments, especially moral judgments, without really understanding what they are reading. We should not condemn Macbeth as occultic and unChristian because witches play a major role; we need to look carefully at how Shakespeare uses the witches in the play, and I will argue that his use is perfectly compatible with a Christian view of life. ... Ghosts appear with some frequency in Shakespeare's plays, but the plays are not ghost stories; Shakespeare uses ghosts to make profound points about guilt and the consequences of sin.

He has much more to say in his book, in addition to talking about how we learn literature by reference to a "master story" that we already know - our master story being the truth, the story revealed in the Bible.

There was also much more discussed at the meeting which ended up turning its way into a valuable discussion on handling sibling bickering.

Unfortunately, I can't get to it all - you'll just have to join us next time! Or post your comments here or in the discussion forum - we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Point Vicente

Over the bridge...

Over the roads on moving land...

Over the perilous boulders...

To Point Vicente we go!

If it seems like we've been hitting the tide-pools a lot - we have. Low tide seems to be prevalent in the fall/winter here and in the spring/summer we go months without. I'm sure there's a reason related to astronomy which I look forward to discovering another day.

Some of the finds today:

a starfish with a sea urchin 'test' or shell.

bottom of a tiny purple urchin - you can see it's little tube feet surrounding the mouth

purple urchin

Jen told me the name of this today and I've forgotten already! It has some sort of drill apparatus that the animal uses to drill through the shells of its prey.

brittle star

tidepool sculpin

California Black Sea Hare (Aplysia vaccaria) - the largest known species of sea slug! Unlike the California Sea Hare, it is apparently incapable of producing ink.

Sea Hare Eggs

Pelicans resting on the rocks - these are amazing to watch when they glide over the water in sequence - they are inches above the water and glide in perfect sync.

I believe these are some type of tube worms

A late afternoon sundog - it only looks like a blotch of light here but you can see it's rainbow reflection on the water.

Catalina Island, a barge in the distance and that trail coming from the left of the screen in the middle of the picture is a massive pod or school of dolphins - there must have been at least a hundred of them! A bystander said it was a feeding frenzy. Whatever it was, we were thrilled to have seen it!

And no matter how many times I see that sun setting over the sea, it still takes my breath away.

This Saturday, December 4th is the lowest tide of the year in Southern California at -1'2" at 2:18pm so grab your kids and head to your favorite tidepools!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Photo Roundup 11/30

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Here are a few photos from the past couple weeks capturing some fun moments:

A close encounter with a Great Blue Heron...

A first time volunteered recitation... precious.

this counts as phys ed and science...

An adorable handcraft - tutorial and template here. There's no end to how many people you will want to make these sweet dolls for!

My kids each picked the fabric they wanted - so fun! And you can customize them as much as you like with little accessories and things unique to that person.

I knit a scarf for one, taught my daughter how to make a little draw-string pouch for hers, made small and large pockets for their dresses, flowers and bows with buttons for their hair, a collar... they also wanted open eyes so I cut some felt for eyes and did a french knot in the center of each with white thread. The pigtails can easily be added by cutting the shape you want and stitching them on the inside.

The second one over is a boy version I made for my son - he has a spear that he carved for an accessory :) The last one on the right my daughter made with me for a friend, we're still working out what to do for the face. You can get all kinds of ideas by doing an image search for "black apple doll" on google or flickr. They make great little affordable gifts!

And last but not least, here's a short video of our two new pets - "Chocolate" and "Vanilla". A friend of ours had a friend who was giving Chocolate away because of her son's allergies. We were thrilled to have her. Shortly after we went and got Vanilla, another female as a companion. It took a few hours, but they get along great now and snuggle together. The kids handle them every day and make lego houses for them to explore and feed them treats - they're really easy and fun pets to keep. Although my hubby is merely tolerating them at this point and keeps referring to them as 'rats', he's allowed them because the kids love them so much - so sweet!

Notice my 3yo in the video is told not to touch the wheel, so she puts her hand to the side of it?! She's testing those boundaries and exerting her dominion. And she looks right at me for my reaction when she does it! Saucy little thing she is at times.

Well we're off to finish week 12 this week - so long to DaVinci, Princess and the Goblin, William Blake, Durer and Beethoven, it has been a wonderful 12 weeks with them. Onto the awkward anticipation of the getting acquainted phase with Children of the New Forest and Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling, Caravaggio and Vivaldi!

What a feast!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rabbit's Relations

Here's a video from our tromp along a trail earlier this week. We think this is one of Rabbit's long lost Relations, but we're not quite sure so we brought it home to see what will emerge. Any ideas what it might be?

Here are some more pictures...

praying mantis

white sage gall that we brought home to see what would emerge...

Here's the culprit of both the black and white sage galls we've brought home. It's a Hessian fly! This is an extreme close-up, they're about the size of the lead tip of a pencil; tiny. I wonder if that pointed apparatus on its rear is how it deposits its eggs into the plant.

Ghost rock.

Here's a picture inside one of the sandstone caves along the trail...

Have a great week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Ideas

Images from Tokien's Letters from Father Christmas

Our last meeting was on the Holidays and there were some great ideas so I thought I'd post them all here. This is really just a list of my notes from the evening of things other than the typical advent calendar, caroling, etc. that are in no particular order. If you have any great ideas to share, post it in a comment, we'd love to hear about it!

World Vision Gift - Consider giving up something as a family - a dinner out, a few extras at the grocery store, one gift each - and put the money in a jar instead and give a World Vision gift - for $75 you can give a goat to provide for a family with healthy milk or for $25 you can give a family 2 chickens to provide eggs.

Advent Calendar - instead of candy or chocolate every day, make it a scavenger hunt where they find a clue behind every door.

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent (Jotham's Journey Trilogy)

For Thanksgiving, taking butcher paper, crumpling it up, hanging it on the wall and adding a leaf for each one thing you are thankful for. Makes for a very thankful Thanksgiving wall decoration.

Jesse Tree by Dale A. Brueggemann

12 Days of Christmas - anonymously leaving items on a neighbor's doorstep for each of the 12 days of Christmas.

Ambleside Online Holiday Page with links to poems and living books for the holidays.

Homemade Wrapping Paper - A little paint, some hands and feet and voila! Homemade wrapping paper for the holidays. This can also be done by collecting some leaves, placing them under the paper, and having the kids rub color pencils over the leaves to make a nice fall wrapping paper.

Pajama Swap - Giving PJ's to everyone in the family as a tradition the day before Christmas so everyone has cozy new jammies for Christmas morning.

Wrapping 24 Christmas books, one for each day of December to be opened and read together - admittedly, this had only been done one year or so. An alternative option would be to get one new Christmas book every year.

My Christmas
Andrea Botticelli's Christmas CD

Making a handmade flannel pillow case for each cousin - inexpensive, easy to make, and versatile!

Coupon Book - When money is tight, a little coupon book can go a long way. 'One free Mommy clean up a mess in your place.' 'One free sleep in Mommy Daddy bed.' 'One free donut at the store.' 'One free skip school and spend the day outside.' etc.

Thanksgiving place cards - making place cards for Thanksgiving and writing down what is unique and special about that person on it.

Bake & Deliver Christmas Cookies or yummy bread to a neighbor - seems neighbors have been asking when they can expect this year's delivery :) Another alternative is to leave a basket of goodies at their door and play ding-dong-ditch.

Sing Happy Birthday to Jesus first thing Christmas morning and share a special treat.

Rethinking Christmas - A community of advent conspirers - many great ideas for ways to give without spending money.

Letters from Father Christmas, Revised Edition Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tokien - a beautiful book compiling the letters Tolkien gave to his Children each year from Father Christmas.

Personal Letters to Each Child - Keeping a tradition of writing a special letter to each child with your innermost thoughts about them as a gift each Christmas or on their Birthday or at New Years. Those whose parents did this for them attested to the priceless value of what those letters have meant to them.

Snowflake Patterns
- paper snowflake patterns for beautiful snowflake decorations and a challenging cutting project for the kids.

Black Apple Doll - a simple, adorable rag doll you can customize and make as gifts.

Ravelry - knit and crochet community with tons of free patterns.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Consuming Music

Having played violin in an orchestra in Japan, my Mother loved classical music and often played it in our home when I was a little girl. Sometimes we would visit her older sister, in whose tiny home in Tokyo sat a Grand Piano, far too large for its surroundings, but an essential in their home. I remember my desire to be able to play that beautiful instrument as well as my cousins as I listened to them practice for their recitals.

I never did have the patience to sit through my lessons without tears and consequently never learned to read music, but my mother's love for classical music has always stayed with me. And going through the AO Composer Study list with my kids has been an adventure in rediscovering familiar music and discovering new.

It is amazing to me how consuming a piece of music can be; how it can just grip you in awe. I always favored the stormy and weightier movements, perhaps because it appeals to my more intense nature or maybe it's amazement at just how far someone can take an instrument. In any case, I thought this one is just phenomenal:

According to Wikipedia, Charles Rosen said of this final movement of the well-known Moonlight Sonata, "it is the most unbridled in its representation of emotion. Even today, two hundred years later, its ferocity is astonishing."

I couldn't help but feel the same astonishment listening to it.

What's even more astonishing is seeing someone play it.

As to what Charlotte says about children learning music, I couldn't find much in browsing her writing, but I assume it's along the same lines with the rest of her philosophy. Develop the love and interest that is naturally there by putting them in touch with the best of the best. Don't hinder the child with hours and hours of playing the same unappetizing piece over and over or focus on dry semantics first.

I did find a couple of PNEU articles on music and these quotes stuck out to me:

"The child's musical education has two stages--one which we think about, and one which we don't think about. There is the stage of formal teaching, which must begin some day, and which we think about seriously because we have to pay for it. And there is the long stage of informal learning, the first six years of a child's life, which is not represented in the quarterly account, and is likely to be overlooked altogether. ... The parent's part of the child's musical education is (if we may express it in Herbartian phrase) 'to create a large apperception mass in the direction of music,' so that there may be a crowd of ideas ready to seize upon whatever new material the teacher may present, and to assimilate it." ~Music Teaching by Mrs. Spencer Curwen

"Technique and expression are almost too nearly allied for a child to distinguish between them. If the melody is singing sweetly, clearly, and sustainedly in one hand, and the other is accompanying firmly, quietly, and in perfect time, let that be enough. In the after years when life has opened out in all directions, and the mind is full of the mystery of human life, and the heart is full of love, and maybe sorrow, then expression will come." ~About Music Teaching by Barbara Davenport

All I have done as far as composer study for the past few years is to play classical music here and there when we're cooking, cleaning or the kids are playing. I didn't start with the AO schedule until my daughter was in YR2. Originally, we listened to Peter And The Wolf & Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra which my Mother always talked about.

We then heard about Beethoven's Wig, which everyone insisted was Twaddle, but loved it anyway so we got it at the library and sure enough, the kids loved it. I'll admit it, I loved it. It's a compilation of popular classics with lyrics added to them for fun and learning, but it's unnecessary. The upside of it is that it's well done, it's fun, the kids learn about the composer and the song through the lyrics, they beg for it to be played. The downside is that the silly lyrics may be the thing your kids remember about the song and will forevermore think of Beethoven's 5th as 'Beethoven's Wig'. And his voice can get annoying.

The CDs come with 2 versions of each song - one with the lyrics, one without, so I phased out playing the ones with the lyrics and played the ones without and they still enjoyed it but would ask for the other version.

After that I downloaded some of my favorites that I remembered and then in YR2 we started with the AO schedule and that has been fun. Here's a link to this term's composer study that Kristine put together that you can play right off the computer.

The kids dance and hum or whistle along to the songs they like and ask me to play the composer study playlist at times. They know a few names of the composers and can identify Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Peter & The Wolf, Handel's Messiah, Beethoven, and a few others, but know nothing of music theory or much at all about the composer's lives.

For now we're just enjoying it.

Here are some quotes on Composer Study from 'Wendi' that I found on the
AO: Music page.

"In music study the same principles apply as do in picture study, nature study, and nature notebooks. That is the principle of attentiveness and good observation. The goal is not to have children who can give a lecture on music theory. It is to have children learn to enjoy classical music and tell one piece from another just as naturally as they learn the difference between, say, The Farmer in the Dell and When the Saints Go Marching In - because they are both familiar with and fond of what they are hearing." "With reading we don't begin with the mechanics, the grammar and punctuation, nor we do we begin with a biography of Beatrix Potter before we read Peter Rabbit. With music, we should begin in much the same way - with simple exposure."

"So they can simply play around with music, listening to it, plinking away on musical instruments without being burdened with facts about the lives of composers, music theory, technique, and composition. In other words, those of us who do nothing much more than play the tapes and CDs, occasionally humming along, of each term's composers, need not feel guilty. =)"

I hope you'll choose to listen to the great composers with your children. There are fantastic treasures for every sort of taste that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Even my 3 year old enjoys Handel's Messiah and sings along. Even better, take your children to see it live at Christmastime - they will never forget the fantastic music inspired by our glorious Lord!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Favorite

We couldn't find our bedtime free read last night, Caddie Woodlawn, so I asked my daughter to pick another book. She picked Robin Hood, which we never finished from last year, YR2, which never sat right with her (the not finishing). It was her favorite book last year she said because of the 'words' and how funny it was.

She's talking about the unabridged, Robin Hood by Howard Pyle where sentences like, "'By my faith and my troth,' quoth Robin..." and "Mayhap they do not understand a lad like thee. Thou shalt come with us, and perchance we may find a certain one that can aid thee in thy perplexities..." are how the stories are told.

And it was her favorite.

Thank you Charlotte. I never in a million years would have picked something so completely, obviously and blatantly out of a 2nd grader's league myself. Who would? Even the 4th grader we know who attends the Classical Academy is reading the version by someone other than Pyle, which is completely redone in modern, 'easier' language. I don't blame them! Frankly, had I not known Charlotte, I'm certain I would have picked the Disney version for her, because that's the track we were on only a few short years ago.

Imagine what we might have missed.

Here's a snippet from what we read last night:

Thus, mile after mile, they strode along, now across a brawling stream, now along a sunlit road, now adown some sweet forest path, over which the trees met in green and rustling canopy, and at the end of which a herd of startled deer dashed away, with rattle of leaves and crackle of branches. Onward they walked with song and jest and laughter till high noontide was passed, when at last they came to the banks of a wide, glassy, and lily-padded stream ...

Behind them and before them stretched the river, its placid bosom ruffled here and there by the purple dusk of a small breeze. Sweet green osiers bordered the banks, and far away the red-tiled eaves of some tall tower glimmered in the sun, the weather-vane a spark against the blue sky. And now they travelled more easily, for the road was level and hard. Around them and over the surface of the water skimmed and dipped the swallows, gay dragon-flies darted hither and thither glistening in the sun, and now and then a solitary heron rose splashing and with startled cry from its hiding place among the reeds and sedges that grew in the shallow margin of the stream.

I knew as I read through that beautifully descriptive scene that because we had been in touch with nature so intimately, those scenes were vivid in her mind as they were in mine. To be able to hear something we know and love so dearly described in such a masterful way is incredibly enlightening to the way of words and language. Words; part of the reason why Robin Hood was her favorite.

What a journey Charlotte has us on. Praise God for this richness He has blessed us with! I only wish more people could see and know about this treasure trove, this Aladdin's Cave CM wished to share with everyone.

In case you missed it, here's another post I did a while back on the topic of language with more snippets from Robin Hood that may be of interest: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com/2010/05/for-grasp-of-language.html

"Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you. Give me your hand."

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Winner!

And the winner is....


Congratulations!! You have won an autographed copy of "Raising Real Men"!!

(jennebeker, please contact me with your address by Email and we'll get your prize to you asap.)

To make our giveaway interesting, I asked everyone to include with their submission, one thing most people do not know about them. Here are some of the more fun responses we got...

I've been tubing down the famous Yangtze River in China, then had to hitch-hike back to town in my swimsuit and my inner-tube.

i used to think the words of the song that says "secret agent man, secret agent man..." said "secret asian man, secret asian man."

my husband and I went to Spain on our honeymoon, and we went on a day trip to Morocco, where a local man offered my husband 30 camels in exchange for me!.

and last, but not least...

well, the tidbit that no one knows about me is that although we don't find out the sex of our babies in utero, I asked the ultrasound tech to write it down on a piece of paper and fold it up. i showed it to my husband when i got home and he said throw it in the trash. i peeked at it and found out that we were having a boy, but never told him that i knew! whew! glad to get that off my chest!

Thank You for all your entries!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

If you've ever been to Laguna Beach, you've most likely driven by Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It sits on the only main road in to Laguna Beach from the freeway that curves its way through sandstone canyons. It was the spot of our nature excursion this week. We headed from the Nix Nature Center under Laguna Canyon Road to Barbara Lake, one of the only remaining natural lakes in Orange County. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.

Some things we saw along the way - click on the pictures for a closer view:

Coast Goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioides

Telegraph Weed,
Heterotheca grandiflora

"Suppose," says Leigh Hunt, "suppose flowers themselves were new! Suppose they had just come into the world, a sweet reward for some new goodness... Imagine what we should feel when we saw the first lateral stem bearing off from the main one, and putting forth a leaf. How we should watch the leaf gradually unfolding its little graceful hand; then another, then another; then the main stalk rising and producing more; then one of them giving indications of the astonishing novelty––a bud! then this mysterious bud gradually unfolding like the leaf, amazing us, enchanting us, almost alarming us with delight, as if we knew not what enchantment were to ensue, till at length, in all its fairy beauty, and odorous voluptuousness, and the mysterious elaboration of tender and living sculpture, shines forth the blushing flower." The flowers, it is true, are not new; but the children are; and it is the fault of their elders if every new flower they come upon is not to them a Picciola, a mystery of beauty to be watched from day to day with unspeakable awe and delight. ~CM, Vol. p.53

Twiggy Wreath Plant, Stephanomeria virgata (Native American boys placed wreath on head of their beloved. If she kept it on, feeling was mutual.)

White nightshade,
Solanum douglasii

...the bright keen eyes with which children are blest were made to see, and see into, the doings of creatures too small for the unaided observation of older people. ~CM Vol. 1, p.57

Ladybug found by a child who noticed it was eating an aphid.

oak gall - galls are abnormal outgrowths caused by a wasp injecting its larvae into the, in this case, oak tree. Larvae develops within the gall until fully grown when it bores a hole through the gall to exit.

another oak gall

Does anyone remember this from YR2 in Burgess Animal Book? The woodrat is the trader. He doesn't like to just take things, he exchanges something in return for what he takes. How fun it would be to have one nearby to initiate frequent trades with to investigate their trading habits.

woodrat nest

Crown Whitefly pupae, Aleuroplatus coronata

This was just too sweet a bit of nature to miss...

rabbit skull

possibly artist's fungus or turkey tail fungus?

8 and 9yo girls' nature journals and collections

38yo Mama's nature journal :)

We had so much fun a couple of us couldn't resist going back today. This time, we parked in the Willow Canyon Staging Area just South of El Toro Rd. and ventured out on the Laurel Canyon Trail.


(notice the bed of fresh green growth from our recent rains.)

And more caves to explore. Notice the patch of prickly pear on the way up to the cave on this steep climb - adds that extra dimension of daring to an already adventurous climb :)

wolf spider

ichneumon wasp - look closely, can you see it's ovipositor inserted in the oak tree? I checked but this doesn't seem to be the wasp that creates the galls we see.

Fearless - with two darkling beetles. Do you remember in Pooh Bear's Expotition to the North Pole? This one was the very last of rabbit's relations. If it's scared enough, it sticks its head in the dirt!

Another woodrat nest - this one in the branches of a very large oak.

Two cabbage white's mating - the female is on the right. Look at her eye and punky hair!

Solpugid, aka Wind scorpion or Sun Spider

And last but not least, a beautiful ending to another wonder filled day.

Wordsworth, as quoted by CM, Vol. 1, p.50

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind mans eye;

But oft, in lonely rooms,
and mid the din
Of towns and cities,
I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration.