more microscope fun

Today we examined both onion skin cells and epithelial cheek cells using methylene blue stain and the oil immersion lens on our microscope. They were both fascinating, but the onion cells, in their geometric regularity, were particularly beautiful. They looked like panes of stained glass. Well, stained glass with nuclei and organelles. 

Peter’s mother, who is here for Thanksgiving and who studied microbiology in her day, was able to give us some good pointers on the proper method for oil immersion viewing.

We also had an interesting learning moment when Colin’s sketch did not quite match up with what was visible through the field of view. He said that he thought the spots he was seeing were debris, while I thought they were organelles. So I told him how in science you have to put down what you see, not what you think you should see. I suspect that this is a lesson we’ll have to reinforce quite a bit. It might be time to relate the sad tale of Andrew Wakefield, et al.

what’s the weirdest thing you got from UPS yesterday?

We got a dead frog.


Colin wanted to know if he could French fry the legs. He was disappointed to learn that the whole thing is soaked in formaldehyde.

3D animal cell models

We had a great time making our three-dimensional models of animal cells. The bulk of it is plaster of Paris, with organelles made from sculpey. It’s been a pretty helpful learning tool in terms of getting the boys to remember the names and functions of the major organelles.

First Day Back

Our first day of homeschooling a 1st grader and a 2nd grader was long, but successful.

Colin retained every bit of the math (fractions! multiplication! I love Miquon) and grammar kids are supposed to forget over the summer.

Mark is still being stubborn about reading (he can, he just resists it) but his listening comprehension is stellar and he spent half the day jumping in and answering his big brother’s review questions for him.

I was also reminded that a high protein breakfast is a MUST for all of us, lest we all get very grumpy around 11am.

More anon.


A Story About Me: an oral composition by Colin, age 7

Story prompt: One morning, I woke up and found I had turned into a raptor.

I flew out the window. I landed on a tree branch.

Then I noticed I had turned into a tortoise. The branch broke from under me and I fell to the ground! I walked into the forest.

Then I noticed I had turned into a mushroom. I didn’t know how I would move.

Then I turned into a tiger!

Then I turned into a human boy again. Then I went home.

The End

One of the Seven Wonders

A modeling clay rendition of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


Audiobook Greatest Hits

We have been utilizing our local public library’s excellent audiobook collection for the boys’ in car entertainment for at least the past two years. Who needs a DVD player when these classic stories are available for them to hear and absorb?

We started with Jim Broadbent’s wonderful renditions of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. This was an immediate and permanent favorite, especially with our oldest. Whenever we check them out they immediately go into heavy rotation. I frequently have to declare, “It’s someone else’s turn!” and return them to the library before the boys will listen to anything else. Bonus: Broadbent’s reading, and the material itself, are so funny and well-written that even the grownups don’t get sick of them right away. Good thing, too.

Other big hits have been the Mrs. Pigglewiggle books, E.B White’s triumvirate of classics (especially the versions of Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan read by the author), many of Kate DiCamillo’s fine works, and The Chronicles of Narnia. That last is available in a series of excellent readings by august British actors like Jeremy Northam, Michael York, Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart. Lovely.

All of these we have listened to exclusively in the car. It’s amazing how much better little kids are at listening when they’re strapped down.

But the most recent hit has been Mary Pope Osborne’s The Magic Treehouse series, read by the author. The boys loved them so much that they actually requested that we bring the CD inside the house because they just had to know what happened next. And they actually listen quietly while it’s on!

This is a major milestone, since even though we have a stated rule that videos are to be watched only on weekends, it’s all too easy to punch up Power Rangers or whatever on the iPad netflix app while I get the toddler down for her nap or focus on paying bills or check Twitter and facebook cultivate important interpersonal relationships. If we can switch that tactic to audiobooks instead of videos, I will be one relieved momma, and the decrease in visual stimulation can only do the boys good.

Marky in the Bathtub


Marky in the Bathtub

by Colin Edman

Marky in the bathtub
Grampa in the chair
Gramma washing dishes
Lights in the air
Candles in the windowpane
Water running down the drain

Let the Good Times Roll

Apparently Jesus was wearing his Mardi Gras robe when he blessed the children.


Colin’s Butterfly Journal, Day 17

I have observed that the caterpillar cup is on top of the oranges. I think it might be because the butterflies are so strong the lifted up the food cup on the oranges!

I also think that the butterflies bit on the cup and flew and dropped it on the oranges so the juice would squeeze out!

Asked for an alternate explanation: I think the cats pushed the habitat to one side and the cups slid.

Asked which explanation is most likely: I think the one with Shelby [Shelby is our naughty kitten].

The above was dictated by Colin and transcribed by his mother.


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