A little of Liam

Hey, Liam! Congrats on losing that second tooth. You’re a big boy now.

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And big boys clean their rooms and make room for new toys.

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Sure, it looks like a tough job, and for you parting with even the most dilapidated piece of cra–mmmm, childhood memento is akin to pulling out your fingernails, but we’ll work together and it will be done in no time!

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Wow! Great job! How about some ice cream as a special after-cleanup prize?

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #1

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I was thrilled this past weekend to stumble across the Handbook of Nature Study blog’s Outdoor Hour Challenge. Nature Study is something I’ve really wanted to incorporate into our homeschool, but I’ve been a little lost as far as how to get started. I grew up out in the country, but I was not the most outdoors-y kind of kid. I can recognize a maple tree and that’s about it. So this will be an educational excursion not only for Liam, but for me as well.

Monday we ventured to a nearby park, Le Parc du Joncquoy. Formerly on this site was a large chateau and its gardens.
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The chateau was demolished in 1992, but care was taken to save as much of the arboretum as possible. Over ninety different types of trees can be found on this roughly ten acre site.

Liam found a number of trees with broad, flat leaves and beautiful “cones of flowers” (his words) that he wanted to identify. The tree looked familiar to me, but, like I said, I’m not exactly a child of Mother Nature. Yet. So we picked a leaf, committed the flower look and shape to memory, and went home to do some research online. Easy, right?

Ummm, no. Turns out we didn’t get a leaf, but a leaflet. This particular tree has compound leaves. Using the OPLIN site because it had the virtue of being first in my google search for “what kind of tree is this?”, I found that I hadn’t quite done all my homework. Note to self: return next day and check out the bark and the compound leaf structure.

Tuesday we returned, armed with a tad more knowledge and a camera for photographic evidence. We investigated the bark, found that the young leaves had five leaflets, but the most mature had up to seven. Found on the ground next to a couple mature trees what looked suspiciously like chestnuts. Ahhhh, now the light begins to dawn. When we lived in Harmegnies there was a huge Horse Chestnut tree in the village “grand place.” I don’t recall it flowering, but I’m sure I just wasn’t being observant at the time. The clincher, though, was finding a sign on one of the trees further up the path with both the French and Latin names for the tree: Marronnier, or Aesculus.

Forgive the less than perfect pictures. Our camera is on the way, and should hopefully arrive sometime this week. To the left, of course, is our now-identified mystery tree, the Horse Chestnut. To the right, our still unknown mystery flower. It’s all over in the undergrowth beneath the large trees. Any ideas? I’ve never seen this before and I’m stumped.

Liam and I made leaf rubbings using sidewalk chalk. The first entry in his Nature Notebook. He was quite pleased with the experience and has asked that the nature walk be the first thing we do for “school” every day!

firsts

First smile, first steps, first words… There’s a long list of “firsts” that parents mark. Do I remember the dates of these monumental events in my kids lives? Ummmm…. no. But I remember the DAY. How great it was to be the recipient of that very first smile, witnessing the very first steps, the long-awaited first communication beyond gibberish.

But usually it’s just the parents that get the thrill of those first times. Not, however, today. Today Liam had a first, and he finds it far more thrilling than the fact that he can walk and talk. Today he lost his first tooth.

At breakfast he was acting strangely and thought there was something caught in his mouth. While he was getting dressed I told him we’d brush his teeth and then I’d floss them and get rid of whatever was bothering him. Then he spit something out on the floor. “I think I spit out my tooth, Mom.” “You didn’t spit out your tooth, and while we’re on the subject, don’t spit anything out of your mouth while you’re sitting on my bed ever again.” When he brushed his teeth I noticed just a wee bit of blood. Hmmmm. Guess he was right and I was wrong. About the tooth, not about the spitting part. We went back and found the tooth and he was over the moon.

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Not the best shots, but I think you get the picture. Pun totally intended. The tooth fairy doesn’t visit this household, but I don’t think the subterfuge is necessary. He’s excited beyond measure at this milestone. We’ve examined the tooth under the microscope, and he’s treasuring it so he can impress his dad when J gets home from work.

We're back home.

After a couple weeks in northern New York, we’re back home this weekend. The plane, train, and automobile trip was tolerable, but long. Too long for a 1.5 year old boy. At this point, we’re never flying again. I’ll refer back to this post when we think we might want to fly somewhere. Liam got to sit in the cockpit of the Boeing 777 we flew over to Brussels. The flight engineer was the only one left on the flight deck watching him. Liam promptly grabbed the yoke and had a go with it, end to end. I’m sure outside the aircraft, the ground crew was wondering why in hell the elevator was slamming from one end of its travel to the other while on the flight line. The flight engineer got Liam off of the controls. Liam liked it anyway.

I mowed the hay. Ironed clothes for work. Picked up the dog. Karena took care of unpacking, got groceries, got everything else in the house squared away.

It was good we had the weekend to recover.

It’s even better to be back home.

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Our trusty camera bit the dust. If you want to see kind of purple-hazed, seemingly drug-induced smeared versions of the real thing, I can help you out. Otherwise, some commentary and a few recycled shots of the kids will have to suffice. The good news: it looks like Canon will repair the camera, as it’s a known fault.

This week we were all about gardening. I cleared about half of what was obviously once a vegetable patch. Apparently it was also a burn pit and a place to throw beer bottle caps, as I found a lot of half-burnt paper and Jupiler caps. Liam assisted, mostly by throwing around a lot of dirt. Friday Jesse helped by staking out a grid, as we’re trying our collective hands at Square Foot Gardening, a method I hope is foolproof. Yesterday Liam and I planted seeds, watered heavily. Now we wait and hope something’s still there when we return from NY.

And now, two photos that I didn’t originally deem worthy of publishing. But I can’t be so picky these days.

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