* Overnight one of our Monarchs hatched but got entangled in a spider web and died. When we discovered it the spider was just beginning to wrap it up. Miss 12 loves Monarchs and hates spiders so we opted to rescue the butterfly for further research. We dug out our jeweller’s loupes which we prefer to magnifying glasses and studied it up close. Amazing how much more you can see. This led to an extended period of looking at the world close up through the loupe – an old chrysalis, the sunflowers, dead skin cells, our frogs and tadpoles, the cat’s fur, parts of our sunflowers …
* Following on from marking Charles Dickens’ birthday last month and listening to a podcast dramatization of Oliver Twist we began Great Expectations as a read-aloud.
* We spent a lot of time doing physiotherapy exercise to try and strengthen Miss 12’s arm after she broke both the radius and ulna just before Christmas. The good news is we can move to fortnightly appointments from now on – the bad news is we have more exercises to do at home. The eat up a fair amount of time but Miss 12 does realize how important it is to get as much function back as possible, so she’s very diligent about doing them without being reminded.
* We spent an afternoon at the library doing some mini-library adventures. After browsing through the cookbook section we couldn’t decide on just one thing to make that day. We bought a couple of books home and plan to make a few things from them over the next week. Since she has a fairly unusual surname Miss 12 didn’t think there would be anyone with her surname in the catalogue system. She was surprised to find several entries and even more surprised when she realized they were all her relations – her dad, an uncle and a cousin. We then checked out my name and she was surprised to find I featured – a good reminder that I once had a life somewhat different from my current season as home-school, stay-at home Mum! (As an aside I have to remember to find one of my books - booklet really - off the shelf at home for her to read). We had all sorts of fun going through baby name books – deciding what our new names for the day should be, planning what to name (and not name) any children we might have (which reminded me of how surprised Miss 12 was to be asked if she was pregnant when she was in hospital with her arm – I don’t think it ever crossed her mind that kids her age would be) . Funnily enough when we went to read a biography from the children's section we independently choose to read about the same person - Hans Christian Andersen. Different biographies but same subject which led to some good discussion about what was and wasn't in each book and why that might be. Miss 12 was mortified when I also choose to read about Justin Bieber. I, however, was surprised to learn that he was born in the same city (and therefore probably the same hospital) as two of Miss 12's older siblings. Our other favourite adventure was to browse the travel sections and plan a trip somewhere. We ended up going on safari in South Africa and a walking tour of New York city.
* She spent some time experimenting with Tagxedo and came up with an owl based one she was especially happy with.
* We began working on our goal of being able to identify eight birds by sound alone. It is surprisingly tricky (although that may just be me – my hearing is not what it used to be) but we are making it as simple as we can by initially picking birds that sound very different from each other.
* We’ve also spent some time hunting down resources to feed the continuing interest in birds. We’ve now got a good list of books, videos, websites, organizations and activities to dip into over the next few months.
* Miss 12 did a Starlab course through the local science museum . I was going to join her but it was a hot day and the star dome was reportedly very stuffy. So I ended up chatting to an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.
* We attended a cultural extravaganza celebrating all the different ethnic groups in our city. Lots of food to try. After last weekend we decided to stay away from Asian (or at least Chinese/Japanese) and try new things. We decided an Egyptian vegetable stuffed bread was our favourite but a Serbian chocolate nut-cake came a close second. We were amazed at how very different a Polish scone was compared to the English ones we are very familiar with. Of the cultural displays we saw Miss 12 was especially fond of a Russian peasant dance featuring a mother hen and her very cute chicks.
* The opportunity arose for Miss 12 and I to take an overnight trip to see the world’s rarest wading bird.- the Black Stilt or Kaki. Miss 12 has been busy helping to cost out the trip, plan the itinerary and make the necessary bookings.
* A tour through the Kaki bird hide where we learned all about the massive conservation efforts to save this bird. At one stage there were only 23 birds known to be left. Today eggs are gathered from all known nesting sites and hatched and raised in captivity until the chicks are between 3 and 9 months old when they are released back into the wild. The goal is to release one hundred birds each year but sadly, after two years more than 75% of those released are dead – despite a massive effort to trap and kill the main predators. Given this is just one of our endangered bird species the scale of conservation work that is needed across the country as a whole is fairly mind-blowing. It was great to see the birds up close (two infertile females are kept in an aviary where the public can get a close look at them), get to hold broken eggs, dummy eggs (used to encourage the bird to keep laying), stuffed chick and predators, plus seeing the juvenile birds in the distant aviaries via binoculars (because these birds are young and will be released back into the wild they are housed further away from the public area).