Sunday, October 31, 2010


Brian and Big Al working on the pumpkins....

The other girls looking on....

The final result.
Yesterday I spoke to my uncle about bringing our cousin CJ to go trick-or-treating with us. We had a ball with them last year, and wanted to see how they dressed up this year. They let us know that CJ was going to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, so the girls and I started pulling things out to see what we could come up with. I bought face paint, and a few accessories, but everything was pretty much here in the house. Big Al was the scarecrow - wore jeans, flannel shirt, and bought a straw hat and Raffia to make into neck/wrist/anklets of straw. T-Rex wore an old witch costume and painted her face to become the Wicked Witch of the West. Blondie grabbed a princess dress and was Glenda the Good Witch, and Cheesie was the Tin Man - wore gray sweatpants and shirt, covered a funnel with aluminum foil and hot glued an elastic chin strap, and bought her a plastic woodsman's axe and painted her face grayish blue.
Big Al was up for painting her scarecrow face, but after she saw it she just couldn't go through with it. This was the only pic we got before she washed her face.

T-Rex gets ready for her face painting. She and Cheesie kept theirs on all night, Blondie simply needed some glitter for her cheeks.

About to start the fun....

The Wicked T-Rex.

We brought the wagon which helped Little CJ get through the evening, and came in handy when Blondie eventually got tired. BUT I was quite surprised at how far the little girls made it this year - about 2 hours for the whole night. Usually I bring them back and then switch off with Brian taking out the big girls for more fun. Tonight though they made it all the way through. CJ kept handing her mom candy at most houses and asking her to open it.

And then back home to check through the candy, and have a couple pieces before heading for bed (school tomorrow).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The ocean and the marsh

Back on the field study..... We left the maritime forest and headed for the beach. The kids noticed immediately how the breeze kept the mosquitoes away. We discussed the longshore current, waves, tides (full moon making it the largest one of the month), and picked up/observed the critters washed ashore.

A horseshoe crab

A jellyfish

This is the area where we stood in the forest at the end of the trail.

The gorgeous lighthouse

The students learned about sand dunes, how necessary they are to the barrier island, and how the fences are there to catch blowing sand and create new dunes. We also learned that one of the grasses on the dune has about 10 inches of root system for every inch above ground.

After the ocean, we ate lunch, and headed for the marsh. I think the rangers learned a valuable lesson at the marsh - when landlocked suburban kids come to the marsh, let them lie down on the boardwalk and watch the snails and crabs.

If you look closely at the spartina grass you'll see little mud snails. Apparently when the tide comes in they crawl up the grass because otherwise they become food for the blue crabs in the marsh.

Then there were the fiddler crabs. An absolute favorite. The males have one claw larger than the other, and wave it outside their burrows to attract the lady crabs. This was big time viewing by my students. I definitely have to go find something fun like this to keep in my classroom. The picture below is of some volcano-like burrows for the crabs.

We finally arrived at the hammack (an island completely surrounded by marsh, and looked at the plants, trees, and amazing views. Walking to the end of the second boardwalk we watched a tidal creek heading for low tide, but the students thoroughly understood the difference between tides, waves, and current after this - check that off my standards to teach. I heard one girl tell another, "OHHHHHH, now I know what she's talking about."

This is a view from the parking lot of the boardwalk and hammack. This was a totally worthwhile trip for my students, but I think I'm going to make sure I go back with my own kids. Heaven must have a marsh.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hunting Island State Park

Yesterday I took my students to Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC. It is BEAUTIFUL - except for the mosquitoes. It is ridiculously warm for October - even for SC (in the 80's and VERY muggy), and the bugs just won't let go.

We were there to look at the various ecosystems on a barrier island, and had a ball. It was perfect for a bridge between our landforms unit, and our ecosystems unit. These will look similar to my June post about Bull's Island, but I AM a Master Naturalist ya know.
My class started with a hike down a trail in the maritime forest.... you know..... where mosquitoes live. We learned about the three trees found there -Slash pine trees, Live Oak (with Spanish Moss - very southern, and always breath-takingly gorgeous)

and Palmetto trees - except they are really cabbage palms, and according to our ranger, not a tree. What? I need to look it up, but he told us it was a member of the grass family as evidenced by the sponginess, resilient, bounce back sort of thing it does. Hmmmm. really need to google that. The kids were spectacular and told the ranger all about how they became the state tree because when Fort Moultrie was being bombarded the cannon balls would sort of bounce off the logs of the Fort made of the Cabbage Palmetto, and since the trees are springy/spongy they wouldn't explode, so SC was able to repel the British.
We continued our walk along the path and he pointed out the mounds (brown in the photo below) that are ancient sand dunes (stay off them at the beach) and explained how they protect the island/inner forest from the salt water/spray. It really fit in with the whole weathering/erosion thing we've been teaching about dunes.
We saw foxfeather, GIANT banana spiders, and little crabs in the forest- the kids were very surprised by that. We were definitely walking quickly because the mosquitoes were obviously feasting on us for lunch, despite the DEET we were wearing, but the end of the trail was absolute HEAVEN.

We got toward the end of the trail and it started thinning out (trees don't like to drink saltwater so the trees were getting that "boneyard" look).
And since Hunting Island is a barrier island, the northern part is generally eroded by the ocean, and then the longshore current takes it and moves it around to the south end, and our trail abruptly ended at the ocean in trees. The students were absolutely enthralled. We had great discussions about the longshore current, as well as how the salinity affects the trees, and why there isn't a sandy beach on that part of the island.
I'll try to post more pics soon about the ocean and the marsh. Blogger is taking a long time with uploading pics tonight. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The State Fair

Saturday we had big plans to go to the State Fair. Unfortunately we went out to the car and found a BIG FLAT TIRE. Then there was a problem getting the spare out, and then Brian was already dressed and needing to go get Big Al from gymnastics, and needing to be at the Fair before 1 because it was scout day. So I did what all mom's would do (I hope). I recognized that Brian wanted to go because he loves photography and it was a great place to shoot pics, as well as look at the photography contest. The kids wanted to go because, well..... they are kids. So I stayed home. No martyrdom, just what needed to be done, and I'll admit..... I enjoyed the quiet. So while I hung out and actually read a book, the kids ate cotton candy, fried butter (actually extra credit for Big Al) giant corndogs/hotdogs, and lots of lemonade. They were very thoughtful and brought home some cotton candy for me as well.

I also got to hear about the pig races, the quilt contests (Brian put in an order for me), and the cake decorating contest (T-Rex was terribly impressed) and all of the animals. The little girls were also very impressed with the giant sand sculpture. Next year they want to ride a bunch of rides. They are already planning that visit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Blondie Fairy

In all fairness, grandma got busy making Blondie a fairy too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Cheesie Fairy

My mom is a photographer, and has been playing around with some of the images she has taken, as well as photoshop. Cheesie tends to be the one that both my mom, and husband take the most photos of, mainly because she jumps into the middle of them. Cheesie is quite pleased with this one, although I think next time we'll have to dress her up a bit more. Nice work mom. To see more of my mom's work you can go to or The second link allows you to buy certain pictures in various sizes. You'll see Cheesie in a bunch of them. Enjoy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Before and After

A big day for a teenager....
She was only able to get the top ones off, and has to wait until Dec. for the bottom braces. The retainer is great though because it is perfectly clear and you can't really see it - really beats the wire across the teeth that I had to wear.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Brian took the girls to a great church pumpkin patch. They found a pumpkin with warts and a great gourd that is shaped like a swan (sort of). Great pictures of most of the girls - T-Rex doesn't tend to jump into pictures, so Brian is going to have to work on getting some more of her, but the others are usually game.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Blondie's PT had another festival today for her clients. She has two of these a year, and my kids always want to go. Cheesie and Blondie had a great time, while Big Al and T-Rex helped out with making masks and delivering water around - even in October SC has some HOT days.

This one had a fall theme, and the kids decorated pumpkins with sliced vegetables. They decorated masks, played games, and ate a lot of snacks. There was a pinata for the little kids, and then one for the older kids.

Horseback riding was the big hit with my little girls! They both went a couple times. The hardest part was getting Blondie up because she had to step up with her weaker foot, but once she was up she was fine. Cheesie was all smiles and enjoyed it so much.