Caveman Masks, Ravens and Long Memories

Something about this series of science experiments tickles me.  From New Scientist….

Crows not only can recognize individual human faces, but they can hold a grudge against you for years, a new study shows. Field biologists have long noticed that wild crows seem to remember them from past experiences of being captured for ID tagging – swooping, attacking and “scolding” any offending biologist who returns for more – but they don’t bother biologists they’ve never met, and it’s never been clear how exactly they tell the difference. To find out, researchers from the University of Washington wore a rubber caveman mask while capturing and tagging wild American crows, then sent various other people to approach the crows wearing the same mask. The crows attacked anyone wearing the caveman mask, and when the researchers upped the ante by making plaster casts of real people’s faces, the crows continued accosting anyone wearing the mask of someone who’d captured them in the past. “We may think they are just bystanders minding their own business, but we are their business,” an evolutionary ecologist tells New Scientist

A Quick Post

We finally had Anna’s birthday bash today, at the YMCA.  Only a few friends could join us but we had a blast and it was nice to catch up with neat mama (and papa!) friends while the kids played.  And to see really rosy, fat baby cheeks.  Mmmmm, fat baby cheeks make every day better!

Anyway, I was preoccupied with swimming and cake and decorating and yapping all day and didn’t get a chance to write my next lapbook article or my next AP article or blog or pack for our trip to the in-laws’ tomorrow, so I have no time to post a billion pictures and tell stories.

I’ll do that soon.

And I’ll share a cool game idea the kids came up with and all sorts of other cool stuff I keep wanting to yap about.

This is why I like winter, because usually there’s time to just write articles and sleep odd hours and read to the kiddos and dream up crafts and do science experiments and play and read and blog and pretend to be a hermit.

Wow.  I just said I liked winter!  Now there’s a first.  Huh.

Anyway, I’ll be back soon!

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to the past couple of days…

1.  We’re reading the Felicity books to go along with our unit study on the Revolutionary War.

2.  Victoria and I researched opossums for her opossum lapbook.  Did you know they’re North America’s only marsupial and they help homeowners?

Opossums help maintain a clean and healthy environment. They eat all types of insects including cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etc. They catch and eat rats and mice. They consume dead animals of all types. They like overripe fruit, berries and grapes that have fallen to the ground and they think that snails and slugs are a delicacy. They are one of the few animals that regularly prey on shrews and moles. They are known as “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineers!

They also move on from each site after a couple of days, so they clean up the place and then go on to the next neighborhood!

3.  We’re all making Alex a lapbook about colors.  He loves to name colors and we found out today that he adores lapbooks (especially flaps and things) so we’re helping him make his very first lapbook.

4.  Daryl has been teaching Anna more guitar chords and has been giving Jack some easy lessons.

5.  The girls did practice standardized math tests and we talked about new concepts on them like right angles and obtuse angles for Anna.

6.  Victoria and I played “Scrambled States of America.”

7.  Jack, Anna and Victoria played “Are Your Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”  That game is excellent at sneaky homeschooling, by the way!

8.  Anna, Victoria and I played “Apples to Apples.”  That game is not so good at sneaky homeschooling but is very good for silly fun.  Quick, convince me which one of these goes best with “lucky” — swamps, Superman or science tests?

9.  Jack has been researching insects and making a lapbook about those.

10. Anna is reading a book about famous magicians and doing a lapbook about those.  Yes, can you tell I posted a lapbooking article today and got out our old ones for pictures?  🙂  You can read it and see a slide show of some of our favorites here.

And now, I have to check on our breadsticks and break up a fight…  I mean, teach some mediation skills.  😉

Burns Night

Last night was Burns Night, so we had to have our annual Burns Night supper of haggis (with a wee dram of whisky stirred in, as the label instructs) for Daddy and neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) for the rest of us.

Incidentally, have you ever read the label for haggis?  Probably not, since you can’t buy it in the U.S.  Daryl and a friend of ours have kept us stocked with imported stuff.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Daryl also printed out Scottish coloring pages for the kids but we forgot to do most of the usual stuff we do for Burns Night.  Daryl didn’t read the Address to a Haggis or read our haggis picture book (yep, we have one) or even make everybody wear kilts.  😉

The girls did play a historic Scottish game though.  Or was it a Viking game?  I’ll  have to check!

Ah well.  Maybe we’ll do even more than usual next year.

Sleep Survey!

Lately our sleep patterns have been way out of whack.  Daryl and I are both naturally night owls and Victoria was pretty much born a night owl.   The other kids have been a little more traditional but it has always been a struggle to keep us all on a “normal” schedule.

We’ve never been people who rise with the sun, with the exception of Alex.  He wakes up at around 7 at the latest, ready to meet the world.  Daryl gets up with him and starts the day with his boy.  They watch TV, do the dishes, have breakfast and work on things together.  Jack gets up around 8 or 9, and I get up a little later (keep in mind I do much of my writing late at night!).

The girls have been staying up later and later, and getting up later and later in the day.  They were never the type to wake at dawn (with the exception of when we’re visiting at Tiffany’s house, when they happily wake very early in the morning because that’s the tradition there), but now it’s getting a bit ridiculous.  We’re talking noon.

Part of me hears the voices of my grandmother, mother, ex-bosses, friends, etc. who have told me for years how despicable it is for some unknown reason to get up late.  There’s that early bird business, after all.  And there’s just some mysterious evil in sleeping all day, right?  Even if you sleep exactly the same amount of time, the world views it as somehow lazy and wrong.  It’s something I fought in myself all of my life and something that always made me feel just a little guilty.

On the other hand, life is so much easier on this schedule!  The girls are self sufficient at night and take care of their own needs.  Anna reads, writes songs, does art and even soaks in the bath in the wee hours.  Victoria reads, reads, reads and reads.  🙂  I also have time to talk to them and even do crafts with them when the boys are sleeping and the house is quiet.  Daryl has quiet time with Alex in the morning and then with just the boys.  It’s sort of a way to divide and conquer, and to give the kids more individual time.

Then again, I think sunlight has a powerful effect on our moods, health and behavior, and I worry about my kids missing much of it when the days are so short in the winter time as it is.

I know from experience that all of the kids can easily adapt to a very early schedule when they need to.  Victoria slept till around 10 when she was little, but when she had T-ball practice starting at 8 a.m. every summer morning she had no problem waking at 7.  And as I mentioned, at Tiffany’s house they happily adapt to that schedule.

What’s the sleep schedule like at your house?  Do your kids follow their natural rhythms, the ones you think are “right” or the ones that work best for the grown ups?  Are you naturally a night owl or early riser?  What are your thoughts on this whole sleep issue?


Three Fun Geography Links

Here’s three places to waste time on the internet this week (and maybe learn a little something)!

  1. How well can you and your kiddos find the states? Daryl got all 50 right.  I didn’t do as well.  Thank goodness I’ve lived in so many states or I would have done really badly!  Click here to see how you do.
  2. This daylight map shows what part of the world has daylight right now, along with the way the rest of the world is lit up at night.   You can zoom in and really compare how we light up our regions, challenge kids to find places, you name it.
  3. Or, for slightly different geography, try Explore Mars Now, where you can wander around the simulated space station, check out your bunk, learn about the lab, find out how you’ll handle personal hygiene and maybe take the rover for a spin.

You Know You're a Homeschooler When…

…your daughter tells you, “I’m going to write my diary entirely in Viking runes so nobody can read it.”  😉

Victoria has decided she’s fascinated by Vikings.  She tells me the women were very strong– while the men were off “plundering,” the women took care of the farms, animals, children, slaves (ugh) and all of the work.  She also tells me that when the women married, their belongings remained theirs and if they ever thought their husbands treated them badly they could easily divorce and keep their stuff.

I see a unit study in our future.  Victoria can lead it!