March Roundup

March 30th, 2014

Goodness, what a busy month!

On Saturday mornings, Dad takes one child out to run errands. There is a rotation. When it was Kendall’s turn, she wanted Talon go along, “because we’re twins.”

I found a Monarch pupa on the ground and tried to help it. When it eclosed, it was weak and couldn’t straighten its wings because it kept falling down. We have been feeding it and trying to keep it happy. It doesn’t fly well at all. I’m working on a video about its life.

Dad had been working on clearing out the invasive exotic plants on the northern Ficus aurea. It took him a few hours over the span of a few weeks. When he finally got it done, the children were happy to climb the tree again. Talon was inside the house.

The last week of March, we had Spring Break. Taylor worked on an apron for her American Girl doll. She used the sewing machine that she received two Christmases ago. Instead of giving it power with the pedal, I cranked the motor with my hand. It was slower but more stable. Taylor was able to better guide the fabric under the presser foot.

We had great weather to spend time outside. I took the children to Ocean Zone several times.

On the 25th, we had a DTD moment.

Talon had a wiggly tooth for the majority of two weeks. She lost her first tooth on the 23rd. Taylor pulled it out. The second tooth was pulled out by their maternal grandfather on the 30th.

Kyle received the “Hand Cake” for his turning ten. What an ordeal that was! I had baked the cake early that morning to cool off. When I went to frost it, Nike (our Lab mix) had eaten a nice, big chunk out of it! I rushed the children to the store (because I have only the morning to work on the cake) to buy stuff for another cake.
Mission: Accomplished

I finally had a day off on the 29th and caused confusion and delay. They are not used to my being here.

Dad replaced my Windows computer and put Ubuntu.

Ty drew plans for a video game, made a map and everything. He worked on it for a few hours every day. The character is supposed to be in a tower, so all the maps look like round eyes… to me.

And that was March. Whew!

Monarch Butterflies

February 23rd, 2014

Several weeks ago, a Monarch butterfly was hanging around our milkweed plants. We know what that means, for we’ve seen it all too often. She lays her eggs under the leaf. The egg hatches. The caterpillar eats the leaves and leaves none for her siblings. We go out to buy more milkweed. We have dozens of caterpillars. We find the pupae. We watch the butterflies eclose. The butterflies fly away to reproduce.

Single-handed, I believe that we can rescue the Monarch population, for we have so many!

Here are some highlights of our documents:

Yearbook Pictures

February 19th, 2014

Our homeschooling group is putting together a yearbook for the families that are in the group We went to the assigned building to get them done. One of the mothers in the group is a professional photographer and volunteered her services to take pictures of children. The Sleppy children went in their trademark red polo shirts, but the girls had only ponytails. I usually have the girls’ hair in braids for our Tuesday gatherings at the park, but we were running late.

It turns out that all school children, home schooled, public schooled, private schooled, all school children, take lousy yearbook pictures. Ha!

When we came home, I told Dad about the pictures. “It is what it is,” is the usual idiom. We both agreed that the children will learn. After a year or two of coming out in the yearbook looking like you’re asleep or way too happy, you’ll start to pay attention and practice your yearbook smile.

Happy Birthday, Bob Marley

February 6th, 2014

Above is a playlist of 16 of my favorite Bob Marley songs (with and without the Wailers). Today would have been Marley’s 69th birthday.

I think that an overlooked song is “Crazy Baldheads,” and it is among my favorites. The lyrics are about keeping control of the people, taking away their rights (“build your penitentiaries“) by telling them lies (“brainwash education to make us the fools.”) This resonates with today’s Common Core and secularism in the public school system. The liberal atheists forget that public schools in this country were established to free people from illiteracy, to save their souls by teaching the children to read the Bible.

Read. the. Bible.

Be strong in the Lord, or as Marley puts it, “Strong by the Hand of the Almighty.” Keep your minds occupied with good things, with projects that share the love of God. Protect your lives from the filth that is offered to you in the form of government subsidies, for the progressive, liberal, secular, and atheist groups are constantly inventing lies to take you away from God, from His Love, His natural Purpose, the Freedom from sin that He offers through Messiah Jesus.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds
.”
~Redemption Song

January: School, Birthday Cake, and Ocean Zone

January 29th, 2014

We were supposed to go camping to bring in the new year, but we all caught cold a day or two before and weren’t feeling quite up to putting in all the work that is required to go camping. It’s nice, though, to be in the quiet dark, hearing only the sounds of nocturnal creatures instead of the hours of boomboom of the fireworks.

We stayed home and heard Leo Laporte bringing in 2014 at every time zone in the world. He had been planning it for a while. People called in from New Zealand, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, Warsaw, London, etc. minutes before midnight in their time zones. I got a little tired around 10:00pm, as usual, and napped before midnight reached us. Together, with the kazoos that we found in our stockings, we brought in 2014. Good stuff.

The next Monday was the first day back in school, and the Kindergarteners started their phonics workbooks and piano lessons. At the beginning of the school year in autumn, they had started arithmetic, but it required so much energy from teacher and student. It’s better now that we waited a few more months to get started with school. Here is a video of Talon’s second piano lesson:

Kendall is reading aloud at an early second grade level. She has some problems with long words, but, keeping things in perspective, she is an awesome reader. `Talon is still working on cvc and short Dolch words (the, and, or). She, of course, gets better with practice. Both girls have adequate penmanship.

Taylor’s eighth birthday landed on the first Tuesday, which is usually the day that we go to the retirement village to play piano for the folks in the recreation room. I always make a cake and decorate it myself for the children’s birthdays, so we cancelled all regular appointments to make this cake.

The oven wasn’t heating up. I had made a good batter, divided it into two circle pans for a layer cake, but the oven wasn’t hot. It turned out that the element was blown, so we waited for Dad to come home with a blank cake from the grocery store so that Taylor would at least get the decorations that she wanted, which was Princess Zelda playing a an ocarina. The image on the right is a detail of the base border.

Taylor made out really well on her birthday. She received an American Girl mini doll, a Swatch watch, and a Tiffany & Co. candy dish. Needless to say, she doesn’t play with the candy dish.

Back to school, the children are working on some new pieces on the piano. New grade levels have been reached. Cursive is being written. Light is being explored. Fractions are being added.

We went back to Ocean Zone, our favorite place. It is always a different experience there. When people ask why we go to the same places all the time, we answer with the same question, “Why do you go to the movies all the time? Because it’s always different!”

On the 21st, we saw pelicans and the Great Blue Heron. Click here for pictures from Ocean Zone. When we went back just yesterday, the 28th, the sky was sunny and cloudless, and the tide was low. My camera app was acting up, so I was able to take only one decent picture.

The Sleppys’ 2013

December 28th, 2013

Recently, a favorite social media website created a recap on users’ year of pictures. I liked the idea and thought that I would create a more accurate account of our year. I hope that you like it!

About Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2013

What did you learn in school about Thanksgiving?
“The first Thanksgiving was eaten with the Pilgrims and the Indians to thank the Indians for saving the Pilgrims’ lives throughout the winter and helping them have a bountiful harvest.”

Google “History of Thanksgiving.” You will find:

  • Information on the proclamation issued by George Washington, setting aside Thursday, November 26 as “A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
  • kids.nationalgeographic.com’s announcing Thanksgiving to be “a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast known as the first Thanksgiving.”
  • xtimeline.com’s recognizing the first recorded Thanksgiving observance held at Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 29, 1671 by proclamation of the town’s governing council.
  • That individual colonies observed days of thanksgiving periodically throughout each year in the 18th century, days for prayer and fasting.
  • Wikipedia.org’s first recorded Thanksgiving ceremony in America was done by the Spaniards in St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565, a Mass of Thanksgiving for their safe delivery to the New World and then had a great feast and celebration.
  • That nsdac.org (National Society Daughters of the American Colonists) holds the first English Thanksgiving to be on December 4, 1619 in the Virginia colony, Berkeley Hundred. “In 1622, all of the settlers were annihilated during the Indian Massacre on Good Friday, and it was not again observed at Berkeley until 1956.”
  • History.com’s claims that “In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit.”
  • What are our children taught in school?
    They’re taught the Pilgrim and Indian story.

    Ocean Zone

    November 19th, 2013

    We left the house about an hour earlier than we usually do on Tuesdays so that Dad would have more time to himself to prepare for an exam. I drove the Big White Van and took us to Ocean Zone, which is a shore that is adjacent to a major canal delta.

    The children always love going there as there is always something new. The tide was high, so the wildlife was different than when we were there several weeks ago.

    I’m holding Kendall’s hand as she holds a found fossil.

    We spent about forty minutes there, ooing and awing.
    Click here to see some pictures. Remember to also click on “ALL PHOTOS” to see them all as the link will take you only to the “Highlights.”

    Chinese Tourists

    November 18th, 2013

    In the Everglades were always amazed to learn that all five children were ours… what’s more, they had confused smiles when they (especially the older people) learned that our youngest are

    THREE.

    GIRLS!

    It must amaze them to discover that large-ish families in America are allowed to be. Similarly, I’m sure that we’d be appalled to see modern Chinese families and learn about their modern practices.

    Having many children is not modern, so I suppose that both, modern American and modern Chinese, cultures have something in common.

    Back to the Everglades

    November 17th, 2013

    The last time we were in Everglades National Park was January 2013. As our van became less and less reliable, we couldn’t justify traveling out there with five wee ones. In October, the maternal grandparents gave us a 15 passenger van with less than 40,000 miles, which is great for us and our trips out to the national park again!

    We were excited to go camping for Ty’s birthday camping trip, but a few days before heading out, we discovered that our favorite campground was closed due to its roads being repaved. Thanks, Obama.

    No worries, though. We put on our belt line kits and backpacks and took the journey out there, past the farmlands and the canal locks and into the wilderness.

    Now that the babies are walking on their own, we have to be careful as to how far we can go, but it takes a great load of weight off of me as I was the one who carried one and pushed the other in a stroller. According to our calculations, we marched 4 miles together, and Dad and Ty went on another mile.

    A few highlights from our trip:

    • A couple of our favorite rangers, Ranger Cindy and Ranger Alice, greeted us at the gate. A great way to start our journey!
    • The children have been studying Florida native wildlife in Life Science during home school time, so they are somewhat educated in the fauna and flora. All of them paid close attention, and Taylor even documented much of what she saw (using plant rubbings and drawings) in her journal.
    • An anhinga caught a fish and ate it in front of us!
    • Ranger Rudy, another of our favorite park rangers, publicly recognized us as “The Everglades’ Number One Family.” What a little parade we were, marching through the group that was taking a tour with him.
    • We found wild coral bean along many trails. This is important to us because we grow coral bean in containers at home. They look different in the wild. The leaves are the same and the way they grow are the same, of course, but the intensity of the color and the height of the plant differ.
    • The babies learned to recognize poison ivy and poisonwood, a VERY important skill!
    • We came within a few feet of an alligator, a rattlesnake, and a racer at different times along our hikes. The alligator was resting and had no interest in us. The racer was busy doing something when it was startled by us and quickly made its way off the trail. The rattlesnake, however, was the most memorable:
    • When we passed by him the first time, he was resting along the edge of the trail. Dad was startled in the middle of taking a drink of water as he almost walked past him. It was sleeping and didn’t notice us. On our way back around, we approached him again. He was awake this time. He sensed us and coiled up, alarming Dad. I heard the rattling of his tail. We were on one side of the trail while the snake was on the other, not three yards away. Instead of keeping the two-meter interval that we were practicing, we huddled up and moved as one mass past him. He didn’t move, and we were free!

    • Dad and Ty went on Ty’s birthday hike while the four other children stayed with me and read some more on the native flora and fauna.

    Kendall and Talon blow on dandelion pappus and fruits (what are commonly known as seeds).

    Click here to see loads of pictures from our trip, including the rattlesnake, the alligator, and the friendly park rangers. Make sure that you click “ALL PHOTOS” to see all of them; the link allows you to see only the “Highlights.”