Friday, September 26, 2014

Meerkat Week

Four years ago on a spring afternoon in D.C. I met some meerkats for the first time and laughed my ass off! The hilarious hijinks that were going on in their burrow kept me glued to the zoo exhibit for a half an hour. I didn't know anything about meerkats, in fact I didn't even know that Timon from The Lion King was a meerkat, so I decided to learn more. We started watching Meerkat Manor and I remember my friend Tanya warning me,"be careful Gina, some freaky shit goes down in the burrow" but I just blew her off and continued watching with Bella and Mia by my side. Wouldn't you know--the very next episode included the dominant female retaliating against another female who gave birth to meerkat pups, by eating said pups and sending a warning to all the other females in their mob to close their furry little legs. Riveting? Yes. Suitable for 2 little girls under the age of 4? Not at all.

But for real you guys--meerkats are freakin' awesome. Their mob consists of about 20-30 members with a dominant male and a very dominant female who's really the one in charge. They have a cooperative breeding system, which basically means there's only one female who gives birth and everyone else helps in feeding, playing and even babysitting the pups. IT'S GENIUS!!!! I mean, yeah, the social heirarchy of a meerkat mob is highly unfair to most members but it's sure does make for great tv.

Thankfully, I shielded Chance from the theory of kin selection and focused more on the light hearted aspects of the meerkat burrow like scorpions for breakfast and digging for days. 

Here's our highlights:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bat Week!

I'm exhausted. Having 4 kids is hard stuff you guys. And now that Indy will put anything and I mean ANYTHING in his mouth it makes things a tad difficult. Plus, the little dude can somehow figure a way past all of our baby locks. He's like the damn velociraptor from the Jurassic Park movie. Remember? The remnants of a broken through cage and the blood stains from the goat that lasted 5 seconds. THAT'S INDY. Just yesterday he found a way into the bottom cabinet where Eugene stores his butane canister for when he likes to torch his vegetables by hand (don't get me started) and sure enough I walk into the kitchen and he's sucking on the end of a flammable gas can. Lord help him, or me--or both actually.

But aside from the laundry pile-ups and the homework pow-wows, we've finished another great animal themed week.

We focused on the super sweet and totally cuddly BAT. At least I envisioned them sweet and cuddly every time I had to look at a picture or examine one up close because I swear to you if I stare long enough they make me want to dry heave.

A huge thanks goes out to my friend Kim Pempek who let us borrow these awesome bat cases that included about 20 taxidermy bats. These experience boxes were from The Field Museum's N.W. Harris Learning Collection. This program gives educators and parents a chance to take the Museum's collection to their classroom or home, extending the learning process even more. There's over 400 unique exhibit cases and 70 different Experience boxes that you can take home with you.

These were the exhibit cases that made a subtle addition to our living room decor this week:

But really, these boxes added so much excitement to our bat week and they really are fascinating to examine up close. If you're intrested in learning more or signing up for the N.W. Harris Collection, check it out here. Thanks Kim and family for sharing your goods with us!

I've also purchased a handy clip-on mic for my video camera so I was able to sit down and interview Chance about bats and the result is the cutest little voice-overs ever. Twenty years from now, when Eugene and I are home alone on a Friday night I'm going to watch these movies and bawl my eyes out at his prescious little 4 year old voice.

That boy just drives my batty.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Orangutan Week

I don't think I anticipated how much I would enjoy these animal focused weeks of homeschooling, but I am. This week was pretty awesome. Maybe its because I've always been obsessed with apes--which up until last week I categorized them all as monkeys. See, even I can learn a thing or two. I've wanted to adopt a chimp ever since I laid eyes on Michael Jackson's Bubbles. Every childhood visit to the zoo would consist of me being dragged away from the monkey and ape exhibits for staring too long. I LOVE THEM.

So when Chance and I made a list of the animals he wanted to study, my inner Kong ooh-ooh-oohed at the sight of Orangutans.

Truthfully, I'm not sure a week ago I could have told you anything about an orangutan other than it's butt does not resemble a babboons. I spent most of my childhood and adulthood focused on the chimps and knew next to nothing about this amazing creature. Until now.

Orangutan Week

Of all that I've learned in the past 5 days, this I know for sure. Forget having a 5th child. All I really need is a baby orangutan. Look at that little nugget. I simply can't handle the cuteness. In fact, if I squint really hard I swear Indy could look like one. THEY ARE FRIGGIN ADORABLE. And if I see one more picture with a baby orang in a onesie with a baby bottle I'm hopping the next flight to Borneo.

Try to stop me.

We read every book from the local library and even had to borrow some from other libraries. We laughed at every video that showed how swift the orangutans are when they move. As Chance pointed out, "they're, like, breakdancing all the time." And he's right, they are. We studied about the family relationships and discovered that adult males like to be by themselves ALL THE TIME. They'll hook up to have a baby here and there but will spend the rest of their lives-- alone. As in, total solo, won't even be around any other males. If you ask me, what a bore. On the other hand, being a female Orangutan isn't that easy either. The will nurse for about six years (gasp!) carry their babies everywhere and say goodbye for good when they're 8 years old. I couldn't fathom sending Bella off into the jungle to forage for her own food. Sista would have a really hard time finding naked noodles. 

Chance had another great week being home. The highlight was meeting with Miss Alicia, a primate zoologist at Brookfield Zoo. Every day she gets to interact and take care of the 6 orangutans that live there. She's so damn lucky.

And as promised a highlight reel of our week:

Up Next: BAT WEEK!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fly Like An Eagle

I'm well into week 2 of homeschooling Chance and I gotta admit I'm loving it. Last April when he spent a week home for spring break I had a major realization. Specifically, how much I enjoy spending time with Chance.

He has a curiosity like no other and such an endearing way about him that it just makes you want to spend more time with him. I started to feel guilty that I was missing out on quality time while he was at preschool every day. I mean, this is why I became a stay at home mom, to be their first teacher and the more I thought about it the more my heart was telling me to hold on to him a little longer. I have this very small window of time before he goes to kindergarten and by golly I'm going to make the most of it.

So I took him out of the school that adored him and made it my mission to be an awesome homeschool teacher. I went back and forth about which direction I wanted his curriculum to focus on and ended up settling on an animal of the week. Chance loves, loves, loves animals and an in-depth look at one particular animal would allow for so many cross-curricular activities.

My goal for our home schooling this year is very simple, I want to have fun every day and I want Chance to become an entry level reader by the end of the school year. That's it. We focus every week on one animal and within the week we will read about it, write about it, watch movies about it, create art about it and at the end of the week, put together a movie about it.

It's safe to say that I no longer have any time for myself and that any extra projects in the near future will have to be put on the back burner. But with that said, I'm loving it. I love planning for it and researching it. Our daily routine is slowly becoming more familiar and we're having a ball. Even the whole family is getting into it.

Just yesterday Mia went to her school library for the first time this year and checked out a book on orangutans for Chance. Is that not the sweetest damn thing you've ever heard?! She thought of him before herself, I oozed happiness when she came home and surprised him.  Most breakfast and dinner conversations focus on Chance telling us intresting facts about the animal. He just loves regurgitating the information we've read about and it makes him feel proud and smart and it's the CUTEST darn thing to watch.

Point is, we're all having a blast learning with each other and I can't think of a better more effective way to spend this year.

Here is our first movie project: Eagle Week

I hope you enjoy it:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back To School

School is in session!

Mia is absolutely thrilled about being a 1st grader. She took her school supply choices very seriously this year and is already in need of a new diary and set of markers. It's been 2 weeks. 
She draws a LOT.

I put the girls in charge of sharpening practically 800 #2 pencils. It was a win-win. Never thought I'd love the sound of manual labor being performed by someone else as much as I did.

Bella studied cursive over the summer and wanted to label EVERYTHING herself. Something about seeing her name on the backpack and the folders just melts my heart. You guys, she was so proud writing in cursive. By the way, her backpack weighed 30 pounds. 

Back to school lunches filled with a little lunch-time love. 

Indy was watching the morning whirlwind from the sidelines

I looked around really closely but couldn't spot any first day jitters. 
Both girls were so excited about going back!

Seriously, they're teenagers.

But before the bus came they made sure to squeeze in a little more 4-way fun! It's been a great summer with these guys.

And here they are facetiming with Eugene who was away on business. It was one of those moments I'll always remember. Mia made sure Daddy saw her walk on the big bus. 

I can't remember if Bella wanted to kiss me or if I forced her to, but I know that this year already feels different. Third grade is the big time man.  I know because my memories of third grade are so raw. This is when it all starts- the friends, the books, the music. There's no going back.

But I'm  happy to report that it's week 3 and Mia still goes in for the kiss, thank goodness.

Good luck girls!

We love you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails