Tuesday, August 31, 2010

General Plan for Grade 2...

Wow - this 2nd Grade planning is intense! I had a wonderful email chat in the summer with Carrie of The Parenting Passageway about her Grade 2 year and she really got me thinking about how to balance the dualities of this year.

On the one hand, we are speaking to both the angelic life forces within our 7/8 year olds, but we are also balancing that with the tricksters in us all! So how to do all that without it becoming too *muddled*???

Well, I spoke to as many waldorf teachers and homeschooling mommas as possible this year to get their takes on it. And again, found that some did it this way and some did it that way... My big question was - do we just do Saints one month and then Fables another month or do we mix them up. I received a wonderfully helpful email from Jenn at Our Little Nature Nest, as well as Rick Tan of The Waldorf Way. I had the pleasure of attending the Grade 2 conference at Syrendell Academy last spring and Rick was amazing! I would highly recommend attending if you are in the area!

After sleeping on it and realizing that as homeschoolers, we can appeal to the moods of our individual children, I decided it would be best for us if I mix it up so that I can change gears if I see that my girls need a little saintliness put in them that day or if they need to relax and let that trickster come out, then a mischievous tale will be told!

So, here is my general plan of intention for Grade 2. I don't have all of my stories or every single saint/hero picked out just yet and I admit that I am behind where I'd like to be at this moment. But I know so many others are planning, too, and I want to put out what I have right now so that it can help others who are looking for additional ideas that they might not have thought of yet. The main purpose of this blog is to reach out to others to help as many homeschooling mommas and little learners as possible on their journey!

Of course, if anyone has a blog for Grade 2 or wants to share their plans, please put it in my comments section so we can all inspire each other! :D

I'd like to note the following (again these are my *ideal* intentions - they might not be something we will fully accomplish this year, but I will still strive to set these standards for myself and the girls):

~ a monthly play based on a fable, folk, trickster or saint/hero story
~ a monthly novel outside of classroom time to be tied into our learning/season/development, etc. I might try to cover two novels, if they are shorter and for the months when I see a need for the additional stories.
~ when not doing a form drawing block, will try to do Form Drawing Fridays, keeping in mind that sometimes we will need the forms to just rest. Will try to keep a nice balance with this...
~ every month, be sure that we have covered a nice mix of gardening, baking, cleaning, music, painting, modeling, foreign language, board game playing, jump roping, string games, play dates, field trips, library trips, ice skating, family visits and snuggles!

Now, as far as my plan goes - I am doing some form drawing blocks and will balance with Form Drawing Fridays and resting. I am also going to do 2 monthly blocks on the Saints, but will be learning about them throughout the year on their *day*. And yes, even if a month says, "Fables", I will do saints and heroes when needed and/or on the Saint's Day - though finding the exact balance and smooth transition so that it doesn't become muddled will be an art - and hopefully one I can do well (gulp)! So without further ado:

Sept: 2 weeks Form Drawing review & 2 weeks Maths review
Main Vehicle: Chumash (trickster tales & Harvest celebration)
Michaelmas is also this month so we will spend one week on a lower case letter review and "The Dragon of Krakow" legend to tie into my Polish heritage.
Novel: "The Dragon Boy" by Donald Samson (* this ties into the dragon theme of the month *)
"John Henry" by Julius Lester (* also ties into St. Michael * )

Oct: 4 weeks Language Arts
Main Vehicle: Fables (1-2 per week)
Novel: "King Arthur" by Roger Lancelyn Green

Nov: 4 weeks Maths
Main Vehicle: Animals (trickster and Jacob Streit's "Animal Stories")
Novel: "The Adventures of Robin Hood" by Roger Lancelyn Green * this ties into St. Martin and the beggar*

Dec: 2-4 weeks Language Arts
Main Vehicle: Saints Stories/Nativity Stories
Novel: various Nativity stories and "Peter and Annali's Journey to the Moon" by Gerdt Von Bassewitz

Jan: 2 weeks Form Drawing & 2 weeks Language Arts
*I added the 2 weeks LA as flex time in case we get tied up in holiday fun*
Main Vehicle: Fables
Novel: "Old Peter's Russian Tales" by Arthur Ransome
"Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin ( *Chinese New Year is Feb 3rd this year*)

Feb: 4 weeks Maths
Main Vehicle: Jataka Tales
Novel: "The Light Princess", "The Princess & the Goblin", "The Princess & the Curdie" by George MacDonald ( * light tying into Candlemas *)

March: 4 weeks Language Arts
Main Vehicle: Celtic Fairy Tales
Novel: "The King of Ireland's Son" by Padraic Colum (our Irish month)

April: 4 weeks Maths
Main Vehicle: Anansi Stories
Novel: "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" ( * tying into Easter *)

May: 4 weeks combo of Nature Studies and Form Drawing
Main Vehicle: Fables and Thornton Burgess stories
Novel: "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame

June: 2-4 weeks Language Arts
Main Vehicle: Saint Francis & Saint Clare, Reynard the Fox and Chaucer's Chanticleer and the Fox
Novel: "The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus" by Joel Chandler Harris

I am compiling a list of summer books, as well & have a list going in case we finish any of the monthly novels early. I will read the novels to the girls after school is done and then before bedtime.

I'd also love to include some helpful links in planning 2nd Grade:

Waldorf Curriculum 2nd Grade Curriculum
Main Lesson's Book Recs for 2nd Grade
Eugene Schwartz's 2nd Grade Summary
From Meredith's Waldorf Reviews blog: 2nd Grade Archives
From Carrie's blog: 2nd Grade Archives
From Schooling from the Heart's 2nd Grade Archives
2nd Grade Waldorf Yahoo Group *must join to access*
Marsha Johnson's Free Files from her Waldorf Homeschoolers Group *must join to access*

UPDATE: Here are some wonderful resources from other mommas out there:

~ Eva from Untrodden Paths posted about her Grade 2 Resources which can be found here

Again, if anyone has any Grade 2 blogs or planning sites to share or recommend, please place them in my comments section so we can all benefit :D Thank you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Free Stories For Grade 1

Some wonderful FREE stories for Grade 1 can be found here:

The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales

English Fairy Tales collected by Joseph Jacobs

English Fairy Tales by Flora Annie Steel

For the Children's Hour by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Thornton Burgess Animal Tales

Various Nature Tales by Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins

Main Lesson is a wonderful resource for Waldorf & Charlotte Mason books.
~ here is their Grade 1 Waldorf list
~ here is their Grade 1 Ambleside list

Help - Can You Identify this Caterpillar????

OK - I know there are some really knowledgeable entomologists out there and I'm hoping you can help...

The girls found this cute caterpillar (named it Chrysalis) crawling on our patio 3-4 weeks ago so I thought it would be a fun way for us to watch him/her molt and morph into a butterfly and then release into the wild once it changes - sounds simple enough, right? Just a black fuzzy guy with some orange markings - very pretty...it ate lots of our sweet gum leaves, thrived well (those little droppings are poop)...and did you know caterpillars shed their hairs?!? Yup, you can see them if you enlarge the picture!

It molted once and continued to gorge on the fresh leaves we provided... We were careful not to handle it as we didn't want to scare it - just watch from a distance.

Well, I was getting concerned that it wasn't changing yet and the habitat was getting pretty dirty with the poops so we carefully put it in a plastic container for about 1-2 minutes while I cleaned the enclosure (one of those butterfly habitats). I had placed a cross-like stick in there so it could climb up and form the chrysalis when ready, but that's not what happened next...

Instead, it started to form a web...

And then we saw it turn this color - Charley could literally see its color change. Next time we checked, it was back to a darker color, so perhaps it molted again and you can see the left over skin to the left of it.

And today, this is what it looks like. Last night, I shone a flashlight on it and could see its face moving toward the light so it was clearly alive in there, but I don't know much of anything about this process and always believed they would hang from a leaf or branch. Is this a different kind and it changes on the ground? Is this the chrysalis? (click on picture to enlarge)

I did read up on caterpillars when we brought it in to study so I know they will form webs to keep them safe from predators, but the only other info I could find were about tent caterpillars and I didn't think this one was a tent one.

It looked like a fox moth caterpillar, but I just don't know. Does anyone want to venture a guess? I'm not going to disturb it in case it does change. We had just planned on watching it change and wanted to let it go as soon as it becomes a butterfly or moth. But now I'm wondering what is going on...anyone have any thoughts? Kelly???? You're so good with things like this - help!

Guess we'll wait 7-14 days and see if something eventually emerges...I just came up cold on my searches to find out what kind it is and now with this behavior, I'm completely stumped!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Staying Organized As A Homeschooler

ACK! Another year is upon us and am really excited! I love homeschooling. I love the books, the plans, the supplies, the eager little morning faces still in their pj's with uncombed hair ready to start each day, and I love the soul expansion that we all experience on this journey with our little ones, who are ever growing.

What I don't love is the clutter that will always be my house while I have these little homeschoolers. Most of the people who read this blog are homeschoolers, whether waldorf, montessori, eclectic, unschoolers, or one of the many other *types*. And we all realize that our children are with us 24/7 so we don't get those windows of time to declutter or clean up as we would if we were SAHM's with kiddos in school or even a working mom who could afford a housecleaner! (OK I admit I fantasize about how immaculate my house would be if my girls were in school sometimes - but I wouldn't have it any other way!). Anyway, add to that all the supplies that would normally fit in a large organized classroom - and, well...welcome to my home - and many other homeschooler's homes!

Yes, the girls do have chores, but I want them to experience their childhood to the fullest, so many days our house is full of everything imaginable, being used in their play. Some nights, I'm too tired to insist we all clean up. For our family, that's OK. I'm just not going to have that *perfect*, *not lived-in* house. I have a home.

At the same time, I realize that it can't be completely trashed or we can't function in it, so I do my best to keep us on schedule with our regular chore chart and a meal chart, which I don't always stick to, but I try to. I have found that just having one really helps. I can see what we did this week and what we forgot to do and I'm happy to see that I didn't set my standards too high and we can keep up with it, even if we skip a day here or there.

Daddy works a ton of hours, so he is exempt. But the girls and I each have one cleaning assignment per day. Mine are bigger than the girls, but that's how it should be. We work together to do what we need to.

So once that flows smoothly, it's much easier to add the additional duties of teaching (or learning together, as I prefer).

I am a bit OCD when it comes to organizing. It is my drug of choice - I just love schedules and calendars and plans - though I don't always stick to them. I tend to over communicate - can you tell? LOL!

For me, I need space to write out my thoughts. I create a 12 month calendar and start filling out important dates and things and I keep it handy. The way I broke down our Grade 2 year this summer with this chart was to:

1. Write at the top which block we were doing and which general theme (ie: for Sept, we're doing a 2 week form drawing review and a 2 week math review which will be tied into our studies of the Chumash people that inhabited our area)...That way, I can easily flip to a month and see which block we will be doing that month.

2. Immersing ourselves in classical books is one of the most important things to me so each month, I have chosen one or two books/novels that I will read to the girls that is somehow tied into our studies, the season, or their development. And the books are listed in the upper left corners before the dates begin for each month.

3. I filled in the festivals, birthdays, visitors, and important activities for each month, knowing more will be filled in with field trips and play dates throughout the year.

4. I also decided that this year, I would cover a story listed in the "Five in a Row" curriculum every two weeks for fun. I had purchased a bunch of the books when we first started homeschooling years ago, but found it was way too heady for 4 or 5 year olds (geography and the like), but I do think it can be a wonderful supplement for elementary aged children. I'm not knocking it, by any means, but for the delayed academics we honor in waldorf schooling, I found it conflicting if started at too young of an age. So I picked books and fit them in seasonally. We'll read them for fun and maybe pick some of the activities to do together.

We will add some more activities along the way - I'd like to do a daily meditation (or just quiet time) with the girls, some stretching, a daily evening walk with the dogs and my girls, pick up ice skating again, and things like that. Also, I need to plan out our foreign language and music program (still working on it) as we didn't jump into enough of a routine with it last year. We'll continue with the AMHC music program and I'm excited to start Jodie's Mesler's program, as well. The problem with foreign language for me has been deciding which one! Seriously - Spanish is so prevalent in So Cal that it would be practical, I want to move to Italy some day and my husband is 1/2 Italian, so we have that heritage, and then there's French (sigh) - the language I took in high school which I feel most comfortable with. Charley wants to learn French, so I need to find a way to weave them in without confusing the girls. We had done all three languages on and off together, but Spanish and Italian are so similar, that the girls would confuse them...so if anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears!

Back to the plan...

Enough of the skeleton of Grade 2 is in place for us to begin! I know for some people, they need daily lesson plans and scripted curriculum to be comfortable, but for me, I get stifled if I have too much in place. Just having my skeleton is enough for me to focus on one month at a time, one month in advance to present my materials. So I am ready for Sept and once Sept starts, I will start planning what we will do in Oct. That way, I can change things up if someone gets a long illness or we don't get to everything we wanted to, or if something doesn't work, or we breeze through it, I can punt a bit, etc - and not feel frantic that I'm not "on schedule"...

So, for staying organized, I love my bookshelves...and baskets...easily accessible and not cluttered so that things are easy to put away after school or play...

Since we are starting with the Chumash people, I raided the library this summer to find books and to learn as much about them as I could in advance.

I made a pile of the ones I am going to use and returned the rest.

Realizing that someone else might be in line to check them out after us, I wanted to keep track of what we used and what we liked. This will also help us when we really delve into our Native American studies in a few years. For now, it's a basic understanding and introduction through stories and culture tied into our form drawing and maths review.

So I am a list person and I LOVE lists. There's a wonderful FREE site that has a ton of different styles and things that you can print out and use on your own. They are by Donna Young and can be found here.

This lady has lists to end all lists! There are so many great ones that you are sure to find one that fits with your temperament and organization style - and they are very well organized, I might add! I use many of them - the calendars, attendance records (as we need that in CA when we file independently as a private school), field trip lists, library book lists, reading lists, weekly planning pages, etc, etc, etc...

In fact, after trying out many through the years and even making my own, I have settled upon this one as the one that works for my weekly planning. I print out one per block and on the right hand side, list my resources under the "List" section, and a general plan throughout the month under the "Plans" section. Then, I write Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc down the five small blocks and then I copy it three more times (if we're doing a four week block) and that way, I don't have to rewrite everything each week.

Then I can fill out what we actually did each day under each section and they store easily as a record for our year. I have binders with those page protectors and everything is filed away neatly!

I've got all of our homeschooling things in bins, baskets and cabinets within easy reach. Math baskets, as suggested by Our Little Nature Nest, was a fabulous idea which we've carried over into other subjects, which can be switched out each month, if needed (though we'll be doing math daily now that the girls are in Grade 2).

Our supplies were ordered over the spring and summer in batches to cut down on costs and so that we could try to snag the best prices possible. I have several suggestions which I'll list below which have been helpful and cost effective for us, but I'm always looking for competitors, so if anyone has any places they like to shop, please post it in my comments section - I would appreciate it!

Vendors we've used:

Paper, Scissors, Stone - chalk, boards, pencils, crayons, misc supplies.

Bob & Nancy's - waldorf books (cross check prices with Amazon and other Steiner bookstores first, but usually B & N's has a nice selection and good prices and shipping is set, no matter how many you order, so I usually try to do one big order a year).

Amazon - always check here first as they give free shipping for $25 qualifying orders and have a nice used selection (save trees and money)!

Green Tara Yahoo Group - Michelle runs sales on Mercurius/Art Makes Sense items, so we were able to purchase beeswax, modeling beeswax, and Stockmar watercolor paints very cheaply this year. She also runs sales on Kinderkram, Evi Dolls, Ostheimers, and more which fit into our children's play, along with various natural living clothing and lifestyle products, fair trade/organics, you name it! She is the owner of Green Mountain Organics.

Waldorf Curriculum Supplies Yahoo Group - this is a fantastic, large group of homeschoolers selling their used waldorf curriculum, toys, readers, and sometimes, other homeschooling books from other methods. We have been lucky enough to purchase much of our curriculum for Grade 2 through this group - again saves trees and money.

DickBlick Art Supplies - this is a great place to get things like watercolor paper, pads for your MLB, chalk, etc. You can make your own MLB's using high quality paper at a discount from Dick Blick.

Syrendell - play silks, wool, and fun ebooks.

Note: I was not happy with the quality of silks I ordered through Paper, Scissors, Stone as it was not nearly as silky/soft or as beautiful as the ones I've ordered from Syrendell. I have the rainbow from Sarah's Silks, but even that pales in quality compared to the beautiful, hand dyed ones that Syrendell makes. I highly recommend convo'ing Jennifer if you need her to make up some for you! Her prices are wonderful, too, for the high quality you receive.

I'd also love to give a shout out to my friend, Lynn, who used to blog about her lovely circle time and waldorf lifestyle and has now branched off and has an amazing etsy shop where she and her oldest daughter make the most gorgeous wool and yarns. Her shop is called The Princess Rooms.

So that's a wrap for now! I'll share a secret - I'm in the process of making a one-of-a-kind surprise to give away in celebration of this next school year! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Seasonal Table

"Fairest of the months!
Ripe summer's queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear."

~ R. Combe Miller

The girls & I had fun setting up our August seasonal table. Charley added the yellow sun at the top right corner. Norman the Storytelling Gnome, made by the very talented Linda of Natural Suburbia sits on part of a lotus flower made of wood to tell his tale.

Tiptoes Lightly and Jeremy mouse listen as she cradles an acorn baby. Another acorn baby floats in her walnut cradle in the pond, joined by two walnut shelled turtles as an acorn elf looks on!

Happy August!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2nd Grade Waldorf Yahoo Group!

Hey all you 2nd graders out there about to embark on this exciting year :D I'm excited to put the word out about a new yahoo group that an awesome homeschooling momma just started which is specifically for Grade 2 sharing.

It is called "Second Grade Waldorf" and the link can be found here. I'm so excited about this as a forum for all of us home educators to swap our waldorf inspired homeschooling ideas for this wonderful "Duality of Man" year!

Hope to see you over there!

Monday, August 16, 2010

End of Summer & Preparing for Grade 2!

Wow - this summer just flew by! My posts have been lacking and I apologize for that, but I really enjoyed taking a break from intense blogging and might carry it over into Grade 2, by only posting once or twice a week (who am I kidding - I love taking pictures and I love to blog!) WARNING: This post is ridiculously L-O-N-G, but I wasn't organized enough to break it down better. If you make it to the end, hugs to you! If not, no worries :D

Anyway, as we wind down in August, our local public school district has started school already.

Meanwhile, the girls and I were so excited to experience a bunch of *firsts* wrapped up into one! I found two teeny tiny chi's that were not adoptable, due to abuse they suffered, and were not too far off from being put down. The shelter was actively seeking a rescue org to take at least one of the two and after a couple of weeks of networking them, the rescue we volunteer for stepped up - yeah! I love our rescue! :D

So the girls and I did our first "pull" (when you do the paperwork for the rescue org to pull the dog from the shelter), we did our first "transport" (we picked them up and drove them to...our own home!), we did our first "foster" - it was only a few days, but you better believe we loved every second!

Meet "Bitsy", a red fawn colored female chihuahua, weighing in at around 3 lbs. This poor girl, about 3 y/o, was extremely underweight and her eyes had been damaged by abuse. Both eyes had been poked by an object, rupturing or piercing the cornea. Her left eye is foggy and has reddish blood built up on it. The vet isn't sure how well she can actually see and her body is trying to heal this injury. Eventually that eye will most likely have to be removed (unless it heals within a month by miracle - prayers and healing vibes for this girl are welcomed!).

How anyone could have hurt her this way is beyond me. She is the sweetest, most trusting and innocent little soul around. You can see in the above picture, even the tip of her tail is broken :( Elena attached to her and cuddled and loved her gently as much as possible and this was very healing to Bitsy.

Meet "Itsy", a male about 5 y/o, smaller boned that Bitsy, but not nearly as underweight. He is about 3 lbs 14 oz or so and a victim of neglect, not only does he have severe dental disease, but they think he had such a bad flea infestation that the hair near his tail has fallen off and his little skin, red. He also has an old wound on the side of his body, which is also missing hair and they believe he was either hit by a car, or thrown out of one, as he arrived as a stray at the shelter with bruising on his lumbar spine region. He is another sweetheart and there is nowhere he'd rather be than snuggling in a nice warm lap! Neither dog barked or growled, marked or chewed. They both were full of kisses and so grateful to get out of that horrid shelter environment. They couldn't have been sweeter!

We focused on providing them a safe, quiet and loving environment in order to begin their road to rehabilitation. We gave them both warm baths and had to remove a couple of ticks (and fleas) on Bitsy. Neither was fixed, so they slept with a divider between them, but had the run of the downstairs and outside and thrived. Here are a bunch of shots from their stay:

The girls just couldn't imagine WHO would have thrown these two away! They were our dream chihuahuas :D And so many more like them arrive at our California shelters daily. It's terribly sad.

I love this picture, because you can see all 5 doggies and Tony busy working on our kitchen project, with the girls enjoying our lovely weather. I was in Heaven during these days, surrounded by my children, hubby, and doggies :D

Itsy, like a typical chihuahua, loves basking in the warm sun :D

Even though we wrapped them at night with fleece blankets, they would come out if they had to go potty and couldn't quite figure out how to get back under the blankies, so we ran out and bought them matching shirts to wear in the evening when the temperature drops. Don't they look sweet!

Here's Bitsy snuggling in the lap of our 7 year old neighbor friend. They were both so good with kids, despite their tiny size.

Can you imagine anyone abusing this face and then throwing her away?

Here they are snuggling together on my lap in the evening...

Koda had a little crush on Bitsy because even though she had shelter shock more so than Itsy, she would suddenly get these adorable bursts of puppy energy and go running up to someone, ears flopping, and tail wagging nonstop. She was frisky and he loved it! I would leave the cage doors open for them to retreat when they needed to and Koda couldn't help crawling in there with them!

I can't express how special Bitsy is. Even Tony fell in love with her. I caught him leaning over her, petting her and praising her with that cute puppy ga-ga language when he didn't realize I was downstairs ;P

Such a snuggle bug!

Meanwhile, Koda our "little swimmer", loves to play with water and has his own puppy pool!

Here's a better shot of Bitsy's eyes. The one on the right is the one that will probably have to be removed, which will surely make her less adoptable :( Most people don't want a dog with missing limbs or eyes, but then there are people that actively seek them out so hopefully someone like that will step forward to adopt her regardless of her looks...

Koda and Bitsy playing!

Well, I was not prepared for what happened next. I knew all along that we were only fostering them for a few days and even when the girls would beg me to keep them, I would remind them of that fact...

11pm the night before we were to take them to the rescue org, I completely fell apart. I literally cried for 3 days non-stop! I was a mess and so embarrassed as we walked into the adoptions event with these two snuggled in their blankets under my arms. I could not let them go and it took every ounce of strength in me to hand them over and say goodbye (for now)! I had no idea that it would hit me that hard. They are with a wonderful, loving family - the head of the rescue org has become an *idol* of mine the more I learn about and from her. She told me that both Itsy & Bitsy are sleeping in their bedroom with them and only a few of their rescues are invited to do that! So I know they are thriving, but I just fell so much for both of them...ugh - you never forget your firsts, I guess...Anyway, I will update once in a while on Itsy and Bitsy for those of you who are animal lovers (and I know there are quite a few who read this blog!)

And as a side note, so many of these rescue organizations are in need of loving and dedicated foster homes. This literally affects the number of dogs or cats they can pull from the shelters. If you can find it in your heart to foster, even for short term, you can save a life! And that sure feels great! If there is a breed you are interested in, google rescues for that breed in your area and some will come up. Otherwise, many organizations take a variety and you can contact them and let them know you would like to volunteer to foster! Some fosters are only a week or two and others can be longer, if the animal doesn't find its *furever* home right away, but even if you can only give a short amount of time, the time that animal spends in detox at your home, learning to trust again, that the world is kind, etc - the better for that animal! Don't be shy, you can make a HUGE difference to the life of that dog or cat (or rabbit, etc)!

Some of our cousins were here for 2 weeks and we had a blast with them! For those who reside in So Cal (or those coming out for a visit), who want to try non tethered pony rides, I'd recommend going to Griffith Park and enjoy riding the ponies ($3 per ride around the lap twice), the little train ($2.50 per person to ride around), and so much more - there is a carousel, horseback riding through the mountains, vintage trains, and lots of other fun to be had at the park!

Afterwards, we drove through the park, where you can find the Los Angeles Zoo, which is small, but has beautiful botanical gardens and directly across the parking lot is the Autry Museum which has some fun exhibits for kids! This is an interactive one representing the Chinese who came to work the railroads and the hardships and predjudice they endured. There is a kitchen, clothing to try on, a meditation house, and a Chinese restaurant. I couldn't find my nice camera, so excuse the poor quality of the horse pictures, and these...

On the grounds of the Autry museum, we spotted this gorgeous Fig Beetle struggling to fly. My niece is showing off it's striking green metallic colors.

Hey go Italia!

Back at my dad's the kids swam and got some early surf lessons from my younger brother.

Back at home, the younger doggies played!

We also lost some teeth this month - both Elena (who lost her third one) and Koda - his little teeth were so small, we never found any, but here is one of his molars! Yes, the tooth fairy is coming to leave him a toy ;P

And here is what the tooth fairy left for Elena and Charley (the small Ostheimer baby deer to go with the large deer family they got for xmas from their grandparents)...

And finally, I've been planning for Grade 2. I will hopefully post my general schedule this or next week. My blog will also get a bit of a make-over to make way for Grade 2!!!! Can't wait!

And a tidbit...another giveaway to celebrate Grade 2 will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!