Sunday, August 31, 2008

Doone Valley Thyme - Thymus citriodorus 'Doone Valley'

Mary and I bought this thyme from the herb lady at the farmers' market. She was selling several varieties of thyme, and this is the one Mary picked. She wants to plant a thyme garden, like in the Edward Eager book The Time Garden that she read over the summer. Here's the description of the book, copied from Amazon: Four cousins spending a summer in a house by the sea discover a magic thyme garden from which they embark on a number of adventures back and forth through time.

Doone Valley thyme is lemony smelling, and can be used in cooking. I can't tell the difference between different varieties of thyme, but now I can recognize thyme in general, by its small leaves and creeping habit. It makes a good ground cover. If we get more varieties of thyme and I learn to tell them apart, I will list them separately; otherwise, this will be my only thyme entry.

We're up to six:
1. Poison ivy
2. Virginia creeper
3. Wild blackberry
4. Lamb's Ear
5. Great laurel
6. Doone Valley Thyme

Settling in

The weekend before last, I took a huge carload of boxed to the recycling center. When Scott saw how much room there was in the garage with all those boxes gone, it inspired him to get the rest of the stuff in the garage organized so he'd be able to park in there. So now we can fit both cars in the garage! Yippee!

Our school name

Our school name is Chronos Academy. I wanted something Greek, since we're learning Greek. Scott and I both like the Kronos String Quartet. Chronos is the Greek word for time, so it's Time for School!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hu's on first

Ask Mary what's the name of the president of China. Go ahead, I dare you.
You: What's the name of the president of China?
Mary: Hu.
You: The president of China.
Mary: Hu's the president of China.
You: That's what I'm trying to find out.


Mary: Ask me who's the president of China.
You: Who's the president of China?
Mary: You're right!

Audrey loves to make up variations on "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Sometimes the answers make sense, sometimes they don't. On our bus tour of Nassau, the driver asked if anyone had any questions, and Audrey raised her hand and asked, "Why did the duck cross the road?" That time the answer was, "Because he wanted to wear a tutu!"

Photo fun

At dinner last week, we were talking about 3-D movies, and how eyes see in 3-D but cameras only see in 2-D. This seemed like the best way to illustrate the concept. We tried to get a shot of both girls sticking out of Scott's head like Mickey Mouse ears, but it was hard to hide both their bodies behind him and get both of their heads to the same level. It was great fun. The girls went hysterical over the photos.

Great Laurel

Great laurel (rhododendron maximum) is a large shrub or small tree. It's related to the azalea, which I knew by sight and spelling from Central Florida. This is the first time I've had to spell rhododendron, and I had to check it three times against the photo of the name tag I took at the NC Botanical Garden.

You've gotta figure something with "maximum" in its name is going to grow too big to be planted in front of a window, but that's where I first saw this plant. We have them on both sides of the front door. I was going to trim them back, but it looked like they were starting to bud, so I left them alone. The USDA website says it blooms in the spring, so I'll have to wait a while to see what it does before trimming. I took this picture in the mountain habitat section of the NC Botanical Garden.

That makes five.
1. Poison ivy
2. Virginia creeper
3. Wild blackberry
4. Lamb's Ear
5. Great laurel

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How much easier can it get?

Pancake mix in a box wasn't easy enough, so they invented pancake mix in a plastic bottle. Just add water, shake, and pour. Now, that's not easy enough, so they came out with this:

Pancake mix in a squirt bottle! Wow! I saw this in the grocery store and I just had to pay the $5.49 so I could bring it home and show it to Scott and to you. Pancakes from scratch aren't that hard, really, so my theory about pancakes is, if I'm not going to make them from scratch, I'm going to do the least amount of work possible. That's why I buy Aunt Jemima Complete rather than Bisquick; Bisquick you have to add stuff to. If I have to add stuff, and clean a bowl afterwards, I might as well make it from scratch.

But I haven't mentioned the best part about the pancakes in the CheezWhiz dispenser. They're ORGANIC! So it's even better than making food from scratch. In some perfect future world, all meals will come in a spray can, and no one will ever have to cook again.

Puppet Show

Last night we went to the Forest Theater to see a puppet show. If you're picturing a little puppet stage with somebody crouching behind it, think again. These were giant puppets that filled the whole stage. Grasshoppers riding bikes! Mayflies on stilts! A maggot made out of bicycle tires! The show was "I Am An Insect" by Paperhand Puppet Intervention. It was a beautiful evening for outdoor theater, especially at the end, when real fireflies were glowing onstage around the puppeteers playing bugs.

Lunar Eclipse

Did anyone see the moon last night? Did you get a good view of the eclipse from where you live? Apparently, we aren't actually in the viewing zone, but as we turned into our neighborhood after the puppet show last night, I saw the moon over the trees, and it was so big and so orange that I slammed on the brakes to get a longer look. When we got home, I ran out to find a good place to see it. There are so many tall trees here that it's hard to see much of the sky. Finally I found a spot at the foot of our neighbor's driveway, and called the rest of the family out to look. Mary was as excited as I was and wanted to take a picture. Our camera isn't really meant for taking pictures of the moon, but at least it shows how orange it was. Even if it wasn't the eclipse, it was stunning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lamb's Ear

Here's a fun plant for the 100 Species Challenge.
4. Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina)
Lamb's Ear is a low plant used in borders. Its silvery leaves are shaped like real lamb's ears, and are velvety soft and fuzzy. We don't have lamb's ears in our yard, but there are some in the learning garden area of the community center, and in Maggie's yard, and at the Botanical Garden (where I took a picture of their name tag), and a lot of places around here. The name Stachys is from a Greek word meaning an ear of grain. This is a plant that's easy to identify. Audrey knows this one by name (and by touch!)

My list so far:
1. Poison ivy
2. Virginia creeper
3. Wild blackberry
4. Lamb's Ear

North Carolina Botanical Gardens

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the girls and I visited the NC Botanical Gardens. Yesterday, we went again with Maggie and Stephen. We had been considering a visit to the planetarium, but the weather was so gorgeous, we just had to be outside. It was like October in South Florida - warm and sunny, not too humid, with a light breeze to cool things off a bit.

At the main gate, there's a display of what's in bloom that day - beer or soda bottles with plant clippings, with name tags below. After checking it out (wild rice, purple coneflower, some kind of mallow that looks like hibiscus), we walked along the habitat trail and saw plants from the coastal and mountain regions of North Carolina. I took pictures of plants I recognized from my yard, along with their name tags, so I can add to my 100 Species list.

There's a lot to explore at the Gardens. Some of our favorites are the carnivorous plant area, finding fairies in the herb garden, and digging in the children's area. We bought a Venus Flytrap to take home. It's on our kitchen counter now, and this morning the kids and I fed it bits of leftover meatloaf. I'll have to do some research and find out if we doomed it to death.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Taking Names

North Carolina law requires that we give our homeschool a name, and I'm looking for suggestions. Here's the state's advice on picking a name:
1. Something that sounds "academic" in case we decide to homeschool through high school and the name ends up on college applications
2. Don't use your name or your kids' names
3. Don't use these words: Charter, college, elementary, family, grade, grammar, high, home, incorporated (or inc.), junior, kindergarten, lower, middle, primary, public, residence, schooling, secondary, seminary, senior, the, university or upper
4. Don't use your street name, in case you move
5. Can't exceed 30 characters (including spaces)

If we can't come up with a name, the state will assign us the very catchy title "Horner School." We can do better! Let's hear your suggestions. Mom, just click the "comments" button rather than e-mailing me separately.