Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Week we Lost Some Pets

* It was a bad week for our pets this week. On checking on the frogs one morning we discovered one was alarmingly still. Poor Tiny Tim was always small and did not seem to be as good a hunter as the others. Not sure if this was the cause of his demise or not. The next morning we noticed our budgie was having difficulty moving, seemed not to be eating aand was otherwise not himself. A trip to the vet revealed a large, non-treatable cyst. Since his quality of life was so obviously compromised we opted to have him put down.  In between the sadness and backyard burials we did fit in a lot of fun learning. Some highlights: -

* With the arrival of the sunrise times on the spring equinox we were, with the aid of a few simple math calculations, able to calculate an approximate longitude for each of the ten mystery classes. Combined with the work we've been doing over the past few weeks on changes to the photoperiod in each location we also have a fair idea of the approximate latitude. We're looking forward to the culture clues that we'll get over the next four weeks which should allow us to narrow down and eventually pinpoint the exact location of each of the mystery classes. A couple of the classes reported major changes to their sunrise and sunset times this week. Miss 12 quickly worked out they must have switched to daylight savings time.

 The worksheet on the top left shows our records of the daylight hours for one of the mystery classes. The graph on the top right is a record of the photoperiod of all the mystery classes plus our home city. It is the light blue line, second from the top and we are losing about twenty minutes of daylight every week - rather depressing to have it brought home so starkly each week. The worksheet on the bottom shows our calculations to find the approximate longitude for one of the classes, calculations that only work with data from the (Northern) spring equinox.

 * We took a look at feudalism and worked through some of the resources from the Education and Environment Initiative of the California Environmental Protection Agency .  An odd source for resources relating to European history I will admit. I like to mix things up  from time to time just to expose Miss 12 to a variety of viewpoints and a variety of learning materials. This was rather workbooky but we liked the approach of looking at feudalism explicitly in terms of the control and management of resources.

* Following on from our library adventures last week Miss 12 finally made a decision on what to cook. First up, helped by the fact that we had some passionfriut that needed using was a Tropical Passionfruit Slice. She also made Double Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins and, just to prove that she does cook healthy food as well, planned a fish curry for next week.

 * We celebrated World Poetry Day by reviving Poetry Teatime, something we used to do on  a weekly basis (many years ago when all four were still learning from home). A couple of hours reading and discussing poems while drinking hot chocolate (and eating the Double Chocolate and Blueberry muffins which were delicious still warm from the oven!) was a great way to spend the morning.

* We watched an episode of David Attenborough's Kingdom of Plants. Some fascinating stuff - but secretly I think we still prefer animals!

* Mr 15 played his last cricket match of the season and had one of his best games. I'm kind of pleased the season is over because dh goes to watch every game and a cricket game lasts all day - they are typically away 9:30am until 5pm. It'll be nice to see  it more of dh (and Mr 15 too) at the weekend. To celebrate we ordered takeout. This is something we do every two months and each member of the family gets a turn choosing what to order. This time (to no one's surprise!) Mr 15 picked upmarket pizza.

* Miss 12 and I had our game day. There was no way we could play all our games in a day but we did get through about 20. Our favourite - apart from the currently very popular Ticket to Ride - was Cadoo. We laughed so hard we cried - particularly at each other's acting efforts. My vampire and her pin-the-tail-on-the -donkey efforts will never be forgotten! Cadoo has been  sitting on our shelf for ages and she doesn't recall playing it before. I'm sure it will be getting more use in days to come. We'll also try and get through the rest of our games over the next week.

* We went on another bird watching expedition and were rewarded with seeing another new species (at least to us). No photos because it was a distance from where we were. The binoculars picked it up just fine but the camera not so much. Also, it was resting with its head tucked under its wing the whole time which doesn't make for a great photo! We were also able to identify several birds by call alone so our work on learning bird calls is obviously having some success.

* We're puzzling over how to stop one frog in the tank eating all the food. One of ours is a much better hunter than the remaining two - he notices the flies first and normally gets them on his first attempt. Today he got four of the six flies we put in and tried to stop the others from getting the remaining flies that he clearly didn't want or need. At the moment another tank looks like a good idea.

 * Miss 12 had fun with a virtual owl pellet dissection and was delighted to earn the rank of Bird Barfologist with  a certificate to prove it ;-)


  1. Hi Sandra :) I am so sorry to hear about the pets!
    The Mystery Class sounds very interesting...I haven't ever heard of that before.
    I love to do discussions of poetry or books with a tea time. We have done that a few times, but we haven't made it a regular event. I'd like to! Next month is National Poetry Month here, and I anticipate spending lots of fun time with poetry.

  2. Mystery Class is great fun with lots of good geographical learning and math practice along the way. One year my older son (he was probably 11 or 12 at the time) was selected to be one of the Mystery Classes. He was not a keen writer but the motivation of being "published" on the net inspired him to do a great job writing an introduction to our city. Even though we are not in the US we'll celebrate National Poetry Month. We've signed up for 30 Poets/30Days (, which we've enjoyed for the past few years, again.and I'm sure another Poetry Teatime will feature too!

    1. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of 30 Poets/30 Days. I just subscribed to the poetry list :)

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your pets:( I know that it makes for a difficult time for everyone.

    The rest of your week sounds nice:) I know the girls would love a game day, but I bet we couldn't play all of ours either. Cadoo sounds fun! We have a few of the other Cranium games here, and they are favorites of ours.

    Poetry Teatime sounds fun!

  4. I am sorry to hear about your pets, but it seems like a great week, otherwise. I am so glad you decided to start a blog!!

    I love the Poetry Tea idea!!