Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall

to a young child

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Margaret, are you grieving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leaves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah, as the heart grows older,

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh,

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you will weep and know why.

Now, no matter, child the name:

Sorrow’s springs are the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It is the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

We drove down to spend Thanksgiving week at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, and you were captivated by the baby chicks. You tromped out through the snow each day, looking forward to feeding, watering, watching, holding, and petting them. And for the week we were there, you and I talked repeatedly about how you would miss the baby chicks, and how you were sad that they would grow up and get bigger, and how you wished you could bring their enclosure and heat lamps into your room and watch over them and keep them safe all night and keep them little. It truly caused your heart to ache.

I know that someday – too soon for me – you will grow older, and you will grow to such sights colder. I wish I could somehow capture the pure, sweet, innocent you of today. I didn’t tell you as I lay there trying to calm your fears and snuggle you to sleep, but I know exactly how you feel. It is Margaret that I mourn for.

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Home Sweet Home!

We are all moved in! The house is set up! The whole family is home, living together in Oshkosh! Lucien and I flew in three weeks ahead of Daddy so that we could get the house all set up and organized, then he flew in this week. Lucien and I were both beyond excited to pick him up at the bus depot, bring him home, and show him around our new house and our new neighborhood. And now that the house is organized and my husband is here, I finally have the time to take pictures and post a virtual tour!

First, the room that was most fun for me to decorate – Lucien’s play room! He has a full bookshelf, fun pictures and wall decals, a (write-on) world map with dry erase marker, a padded window seat, and oodles of cube storage. He also has an appropriately sized table and chairs, for eating snacks, drawing, crafting, and reading. He currently has his cup of tea sitting there. (Please excuse the dismal lighting; it has been dark and gloomy here lately.)

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Also, notice the piano and Suzuki music book. We start Suzuki piano lessons next month, right after his fourth birthday!

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One of Lucien’s favorite activities is playing shop with his toy food – or real food, for that matter. He now has a kitchen + shop on wheels, and boy, has it ever gotten a lot of use! He even likes to eat his breakfast there. For those rare occasions when he is not using his shop, we can collapse and roll it into the corner, right underneath the Dr Seuss clock and Winnie the Pooh picture. (The latter was a gift from his great grandfather, which we shipped to Hawaii and then back.)

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We have lots of books in our living room, too. I made a cozy reading corner by the couch with a book rack for all our library finds. And then we have a couple of very full bookshelves for Mom and Dad’s books.

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I put a big photo wall in the dining room, featuring plenty of happy memories from Hawaii. And I managed to squeeze in more bookshelves. This one has scrapbooks, homeschooling materials, and read-alouds. I really like the Usborne Illustrated series, as you can tell by looking at the top shelf!

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photo 5 (26)Also in the dining room, we have a view of the staircase and railing that Lucien loves to climb. The little monkey!

Upstairs, Lucien’s bedroom was also a lot of fun to put together. It is all in blue, with a Noah’s Ark / animal sort of theme.

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His stuffed animals have their own ladder bookshelf, and Lucien has his own cozy reading corner, complete with blankets, pillows, lots of books, traditional bookshelves, and forward-facing bookshelves.

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We also have a mud room! We have feet in our shoes, but mahalo for removing those shoes when we are in the house!

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Lucien was a big helper organizing the kitchen and even cooking!

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Eating is also a lot of fun.

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But sharing food with friends is even better.

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We are loving our new house, new neighborhood, new activities, and new friends.

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Outer Space, Sailing, and Planfulness

photo 2 (40)I have been looking for some inspiration for new plans, ideas, and schedules in our home learning life, and since I am such a type A, planner sort of person, I thought that a homeschool planner might be a great boost for us. I was indeed correct. And beside, with Lucien getting closer to actual school age, it is probably wise for me to get in the habit of documenting. I ordered this planner, which I love, shortly after my birthday. It arrived mid-June, and I decided to start my first calendar at the beginning of July. I rounded up some colorful pens and got to work!

Lucien has been very interested in outer space lately, so I created an outer space book basket with both fiction and non-fiction options, planned a trip to the planetarium to explore the exhibits and watch a planetarium show, and came up with a few fun activities for at home.

Lucien had been working hard at writing his name, so I cut out some shapes and he practiced tracing his name, and then gluing to make a rocket ship.

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Our word wall was another opportunity for pasting and spelling practice. We have completed the whole alphabet, A-Z, and Lucien keeps coming up with more words he wants to add.

photo 1 (38)We had some more fun with science; we did color mixing with watercolor paints, and then made the water “walk” up chromatography paper. Lucien ended up with some cool designs. He also used the watercolors for their intended purpose: making a painting. 

Lucien also joined in my planning spree. We wrote out all the activities for the month on our giant white board calendar, practicing the numbers and the letters in July. We drew a big circle around the 28th, the day we will be moving to Wisconsin.
photo 5 (24)This week, in addition to our planetarium trip, we had on our calendar a trip to the zoo, a trip to the library for summer reading program (we are up over 250 books now!), a trip to another library for story time, and two Discovery Center days. Lucien was over the moon because Dad got to come and see the Discovery Center for the first time this week.

And what an absolutely wonderful Wednesday we had. A morning trip to the Discovery Center was followed by lunch in the park, which was followed to a trip to the Hilton lagoon, where we splashed in the water and dug our toes in the sand and waited to board a sailboat for an hour-long cruise around Waikiki. What a wonderful time!

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And as if that wasn’t enough fun for one day, afterward Lucien and I piled in the car with Grandma to go meet Dad, Grandpa, and Uncle Justin for the Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog concert. This is the third concert of theirs that Lucien had attended, and he was so looking forward to it! We now have all of their CD’s, as well as matching Uncle Wayne tee shirts. Lucien enjoyed a picnic dinner and visiting with family, then he went and sat right up front. He danced with me and sang along and raced me around during the motorcycle race song. It was such a fantastic, full, family-oriented day!

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Summer Fun

We are enjoying summer in Hawaii! Zoo, beach, parks, to be sure. And we escape the heat with lots and lots of library visits! We went to the summer reading kickoff party at the state library downtown. It was a Superhero-themed Bon Dance – only in Hawaii! We watched traditional dance and listened to drum beats, got our pictures taken with the superheroes, and signed up for the summer reading program. We are supposed to record in our log all the books we read over the summer. We have already completely filled up the first log – 130 books! – and we are over 70 books into our second log. Recent favorites have been The Magic School Bus and anything about science, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Magic Nesting Doll.

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We also attended a special library show by the Fairy Grandmother – a superhero-themed magic show! Lucien happily reminisced about our previous encounters with the Fairy Grandmother, and delighted in her magic tricks.

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Another library program we recently attended was a concert by Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band – they provide folksy-style musical edu-tainment with Hawaiian flair. We learned through fun songs about coral reefs, humpback whales, sea turtles, and environmental stewardship. Lucien loved them so much we hunted down their schedule and attended their very next concert – we had a picnic dinner outside the Mission Houses museum downtown, discovered some traditional toys and played in the yard, then sang and danced along to the music. We also bought a shirt and CD for Lucien, and I think we all know all the songs by heart now!

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Thanks to Grandma Carmen we had a fantastic opportunity to ride a submarine just off the coast of Waikiki. We saw lots of colorful fish and counted four different honu. We saw first hand the animals Uncle Wayne sings about! We dove down over 100 feet and saw wrecked ships and a submerged airplane. Lucien is still talking about the fish and the “fish buffets” – where plants are growing on the wrecks, and the fish hide out and eat.

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We also continue our frequent visits to the Bishop museum. Lucien’s favorite spot is the planetarium. We even got to watch a new show about Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft that will soon be snapping pictures of it. We learned about telescopes and how people discovered the planets. We learned about all the different Kuiper Belt Objects orbiting the sun. It was fascinating for me, too! Joanne is the person who usually gives talks in the planetarium, and she was there as sulu that day. As we were waiting to enter, Lucien said to me: “I like Joanne. Let’s tell her that I like her when we go in!” And as we walked past Joanne, he said in his loud, clear, cheerful voice “Joanne, I like you!” On the way out he insisted we stop and talk to Joanne again, and he said to her, “Joanne, I liked the show!” Such a sweet boy!

photo 1 (33)We have been reading a lot at home about science, gravity, and outer space, and Lucien can answer a lot of Miss Frizzle’s questions. I am impressed with how much he can absorb and comprehend. We sometimes take Miss Frizzle along with us to Starbucks for some iced coffee and ice water. Perfect way to escape the heat!

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Another fun summer activity? Feeling the wind in your hair! Lucien loves when I pull him through the parking lot on his skateboard. We tied a jump rope up to it, and we got some serious speed. Things got even better, though, when dad came home from work and tied then other end of that jump rope to his bike!

We have also been having fun with friends, learning, playing – and climbing! – at the Discovery Center, drawing, coloring, and even practicing our letters.

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What We’ve Been Doing Lately

We have been so busy at our house, learning and playing together, and I have been so preoccupied with our new house in Oshkosh – preparing to visit, making it comfortable for Lucien – that I have totally neglected to write about anything we have been doing lately. So here is a whole bunch of pictures, and a brief recap:

We are soaking up the Hawaiian weather! Walking to the beach, playing at the park, climbing some trees, splashing and wading in the water, playing in the dirt and making mud pies. Lots of dirty laundry at this house!

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We are playing with the neighbors. Ring around the Rosie inside a hula hoop was fun for me to watch! We also do a lot of art here in our living room, sometime with friends. Lucien is still working on that pencil grip, and getting a lot better at drawing people. He also loves his workbooks, doing things like connect the dots, beginning letter sounds, simple math. We love playing school!

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Science with our Clifford science kit is always enjoyable. Here Lucien is doing rainbow experiments and mixing primary colors.

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Our favorite activity recently, though, has been visiting the Bishop Museum. We finally broke down and bought a family membership. Boy, was it worth the money! I wish we would have done it sooner. Lucien loves visiting, and we have both learned so much.

photo 1 (27)There is so much information about Hawaiian culture. We got to watch a live poi making demonstration. (Poi is basically pounded taro root, a traditional Hawaiian staple food.) We learned about lau hala (a traditional Hawaiian weaving) and got to make our own lau hala fish. We learned about endemic species, Polynesian exploration, cultural history, dress, and so much more! When we read the Magic Tree House book about Hawaii, Lucien already knew all about the history and culture – he could have given Jack and Annie lessons!

Lucien loves visiting the planetarium and seeing the kids’ show about the night sky. He can tell me all about the moon and its phases, meteors and how they burn up in the atmosphere because of friction, how all the planets orbit the sun because of gravity, and which planets are which. He is also learning about the constellations in the night sky. It is so exciting for me to see him so excited about science, and we continue to encourage that curiosity with lots of non-fiction books from the library.

photo 1 (30)He also loves the dinosaur exhibit at Bishop. We are learning all about which dinosaurs were carnivores or herbivores, how we can tell my looking at their teeth and claws, which dinosaurs lived in herds and worked cooperatively, where on the globe they lived, what their habitats were like. Lucien tells me he likes the maiasaura the best, because their name means that they were good mothers, and they take care of their babies in a nest, and we read about them in a Magic School Bus book. We have checked out several non-fiction books about dinosaurs, including a Cat in the Hat science reader, which Lucien always enjoys!

The science building at Bishop is another treasure trove. Lucien is learning how to use microscopes to examine plant and animal specimens. Here, he is also using a microscope to examine sand found at different beaches in Hawaii. We talked about how some were made from volcanic rock, some from coral and marine skeletons, and how the composition of each changed the color and texture of the sand.

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We learned about the underwater volcano that is in the process of forming a new island – Lo’ihi. We got to hold an actual lava rock that formed 3000 feet under the ocean. We compared it to other types of lava rock and talked about density. The lava formed under high water pressure was much denser and so heavy that Lucien needed to use two hands to hold it, while the lava that cooled while shooting through the air was very porous and therefore light. Lucien’s interest in volcanoes continues, as does our non-fiction reading list from the library!

We learned all about volcanoes and lava when we attended a lava making demonstration. We got to see how lava melts and cools, and hold about ten different types of lava in our hands! Lucien was so excited for this presentation, I think it was the highlight of his day that day.

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All of this activity, plus our normal weekly trips to music class, the zoo, library story time, and the Discovery Center? It adds up to lots of fun.

And this coming week will bring even more fun and excitement, as Lucien and I will be getting on the airplane and flying to visit Grandma and Grandpa on the farm in Wisconsin. We will also get to see our new house, and I can get to work unpacking and organizing and creating a beautiful play space for Lucien. We have so much to look forward to.

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Saint Patrick’s Day, Volcanoes, Songs, and Dirt

We might not be Irish, but we had some fun celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day this week.

photo (4)We had a St. Patty party with friends at one of our favorite state parks. Lucien helped me deliver coffee for all the moms and snacks for the kids. We also brought along a big bag of rice to feed the feral chickens at the park, and Lucien was excited to share with a friend!

photo 1 (22)One of our creative mom friends brought along a sensory bin of green rice and the supplies for a fingerprint rainbow craft. After having some fun with art, we were off to play, climb, run, and explore the trails! Being out in nature is such a fun, mood-lifting adventure for Lucien and for me. I love finding these little pockets of nature in the big city!

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And we had to cook a traditional Irish dinner, of course! Corned beef was on the menu, and, in lieu of cabbage (I think I am the only person in the house who is a fan), Lucien helped me prepare a new recipe for potato dumplings. Mixing and shaping them into balls was great fun.

photo 1 (23)Also, craft time at the Discovery Center was a lot of fun. Lucien’s shamrock was on display in one of their windows, and he was so proud that he wanted to take a picture to show Daddy.

We have also been getting into science this week, because our monthly Clifford science kit just arrived in the mail. “Do another experiment! Do another experiment!” is a joyful exclamation that I have been hearing multiple times per day. We “fed” yeast with sugar and watched the carbon dioxide bubbles it produced, then talked about how a similar process occurs when making Lucien’s favorite drink – kombucha. We made sticky ice cubes by pouring salt on them, making them melt slightly and then re-freeze. We talked about freezing and boiling points.

And we have been doing explosions with baking soda and vinegar. Lots of explosions. Good thing I picked up the big box of baking soda. Lucien concentrated on his explosions for an hour yesterday, like a little mad scientist at work in his lab. We even decided to get out the paints and make colorful explosions. He made a beautiful volcano with red hot lava.

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Volcanoes have been an interest to him lately. In addition to our baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, he has been asking lots of questions about how the Hawaiian islands were formed, and I have been doing my best to explain in terms he can understand how volcanoes built the island we live on. We checked out two non-fiction books on volcanoes during our most recent library visit. Lucien was fascinated by the science, but a bit nervous about the possibility of an eruption. I explained to him that while volcanoes built out island, there are no active volcanoes on Oahu today. We talked about other active volcanoes, and he told me that he wants to fly over Kilauea on the Big Island with Grandma Carmen.

We also read a chapter book about volcanoes – Vacation Under the Volcano, which is number 13 in the Magic Tree House series. It still amazes me that Lucien wants to sit through these longer chapter books – it takes us about 45 minutes to read through one, and most pages have no pictures – but he loves them, refuses to let me take a break in the middle, and sometimes asks to read more than one in a sitting. So last time we went to the library, I checked out a stack of them, and we are already on number 13. Mary Pope Osborne had better keep writing, because Lucien absolutely adores Jack and Annie!

photo 3 (21)Speaking of books, we had a wonderful special guest at our library story time – the Fairy Grandmother was back with magic tricks, songs, and stories, and was Lucien ever thrilled!
photo 2 (26)We have also been spending a lot of time outside, and enjoying the pleasantly warm weather and sunshine at the zoo.
Lucien and I are both disappointed that our Music Together class is on spring break hiatus, but we have found a fun new activity – Island Song! On Friday morning we went to play and swing and fly kites and ride bikes at the park, and then at 11 a group of moms got together with musical instruments to lead some singing under the shade trees.
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We then had some fun spring-themed sensory play. Lucien loved digging and planting flowers in the sensory bins and interacting with the other kids there.
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Some even wanted to bury toes in the dirt!
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Happy spring, everybody!
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Doctor Seuss Day!

I have been so busy with Lucien I haven’t had a chance to check in here online, but I wanted to post just a few pictures of the fun celebration we had earlier this week for Dr Seuss’s birthday (which was Monday, March 2).

photo 1 (18)When we visited the Discovery Center over the weekend, they were  already prepared with some decorations. Lucien posed as Thing 1.

Lucien made his own Cat in the Hat hat by gluing scraps of red and white paper, and Lucien and I took turns wearing it.

I also made Cat in the Hat kebabs (actually slices of strawberry and banana) to go along with dinner. We talked about birthdays, and how sometime we mark birthdays even after people have died, as a way of remembering them and celebrating their accomplishments.

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The morning of Dr Seuss’s birthday I had the hat out and waiting, along with a selection of Doctor Seuss books for Lucien to pick from for our morning reading.

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Breakfast – no surprise – was green eggs, colored with broccoli, which is Lucien’s favorite green vegetable.

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We read Green Eggs and Ham and Hooper Humperdinck (twice – I was thrilled that Lucien enjoyed this new selection so much. We talked about how Dr Seuss incorporated the alphabet into the book. I saw this lightbulb go on for Lucien when he figured out that the children’s names followed the letters of the alphabet. It was so fun and gratifying for me to see him figure it out, and he was so proud. We read it again, naming out the letters of the alphabet as we read.

We also read The Cat in the Hat, and Lucien requested another hat kebab, which I happily supplied.

A fun afternoon activity was making our own oobleck using glitter glue and liquid starch. Lucien had fun pouring and mixing, getting his hands dirty, and washing off in the outdoor sink!

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