Monday, March 30, 2009

Zz Zebra

Today we wrapped up our trek around the globe! We spent the past week in Africa learning about Zz Zebras.

We were most interested in trying to answer the age-old question: Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Turns out, it just depends on how you look at it! Their fur would tend to make you say they're white with black stripes because the black stripes end near their bellies, which are all white. However, the skin underneath their fur is black. See the dilemma? The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter what color the stripes are; what matters is simply that they have these invaluable stripes, which break up their shape and help hide them from predators such as lions and hyenas. We also learned that a zebra's stripes are kind of like fingerprints; no two zebras have the same pattern.

Zebras love to eat grass, and we were shocked to read that their teeth get so worn down from all the chewing they do that they actually keep growing for the zebra's entire life! And one final zebra tidbit we found interesting is that zebras can run when they are only one hour old! (I found this particularly amazing because I am 34 years old, and I still can't do it!)

Hannah made an Africa collage this week by cutting out an outline of the continent, then gluing pictures of native animals onto it.

Another project she did was to paint a scene of the savannah, then glue a zebra onto it. (The zebra was a white silhouette that she painted stripes on.)

We also played a little game to review all of the continents and animals we have studied so far. I gave Hannah a paper that had questions about where certain animals lived, and she had to find the continent on the globe and show it to me. (I added "llamas" and "you" to the list to make sure we covered South America and North America, but I couldn't for the life of me think of an animal that is from Europe. An English bulldog? A Scottish terrier? Someone leave a comment if you know of one!)

Our special words this week were, "I can't hide anything from God."

We discussed how God is different from people in a lot of ways, one of which is that He knows everything. I asked Hannah if she had ever done anything she wasn't supposed to do and kept it a secret from Mommy and Daddy, and she said she had. I asked her if she thought God knew about that wrong thing she had done, and she said yes. We looked at two wonderful verses her curriculum brought out, which were Hebrews 4:13 ("Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.") and Psalm 33:13 (From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind."). We also talked about God's grace and the fact that he's not waiting to punish us every time He sees us mess up; however, His Spirit is grieved by it, and if we continue to do it again and again and again, He could find a way to discipline us.

We've enjoyed traveling the world for the past month. It has been fun to learn about the different animals, but it has also been good for Hannah to see that the world is a lot bigger than the small corner of it she calls home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Sunflower State

Today was our State Report day at co-op. When I asked Hannah which state she wanted to study, she replied, "I want a green one."

"What?" I asked, confused.

So she went and got the globe, pointed to a green state, and said, "I want this one!" And the lucky winner was . . . Kansas. My stomach sank. Other than the fact that Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz was quite fond of it, I knew absolutely nothing about this state.

After a few days of research, we decided to divide our project into four different parts: History Highlight, Things To Do, State Facts, and Famous Figure.

Our "History Highlight" was the Dust Bowl. We found some amazing pictures on the internet to include on our project board, and we also included some excerpts from Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust. Hannah set up her little table and put some of her kitchen dishes face down on it. She explained to her friends that they used to have to set their table like this so they wouldn't get dust in their cups or on their plates. She also told them that when they picked the dishes up to turn them over so they could eat, they could see the clean marks where their dishes had been setting compared with the rest of the table which had a layer of dust covering it.

We came up with three attractions for our "Things To Do" section. The one we were most excited about was Old Cowtown Museum, which is a living museum located off the Chisholm Trail. It is designed to let people experience life on the Frontier in the late 1800's. You can ride a stagecoach, watch a blacksmith fashion a horseshoe, or even to go the land office and stake your claim! We also found out about Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, which allows people to experience life before the settlers arrived; this is life the way Native Americans knew it. Our final tourist attraction was the capitol building. Hannah talked briefly about each of these attractions and showed her friends the pictures we had printed.

Our "Famous Figure" for Kansas was Amelia Earhart. We used two different colors of yarn to mark our globe with her two most famous flights: the one across the Atlantic Ocean and the one she attempted to make around the world. We took the globe with us so Hannah could show her friends the flight paths while she told them about her story.

And finally, we did the typical "State Facts." I was really reluctant to even include these because I feel like, for the most part, it's useless information and . . . well . . . boring. However, when we learned that the state song was Home on the Range, I said, "Hey, every kid knows that song! That's kind of cool!" Then we learned that the state flower is the sunflower and Kansas' nickname is The Sunflower State. I thought, "C'mon! Who doesn't love a cheery sunflower?!" And finally, I learned that the only reason the Western Meadowlark is the state bird is because school children got to vote for the bird that would represent Kansas, and that's what they chose. Suddenly state facts seemed a little less boring.

For the presentation, Hannah had a gigantic sunflower and a packet of sunflower seeds for everyone, and she had her CD player and a CD with Home on the Range that she played while all the kids sang together. (I'll be the first to admit that the other state facts were boring, so they got included on the poster but didn't get any lip service!)

Here is a picture of her standing next to her display:

This project was a tremendous amount of work (much more work than our China report last month), but we all learned tons of new information that we found really interesting! Plus, we have our next vacation planned. Look out, Old Cowtown Museum, here we come!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Change of Heart

What a difference a day makes! At first everything was fine. Hannah woke up, reached into her tooth pillow, and found that the tooth fairy had left her some money, which she excitedly ran into the kitchen to show me. After breakfast, she went back into her room. The next thing I know, she is screaming and crying hysterically. I ran back to her room, and she said, "That tooth fairy stole my tooth! She's a mean tooth fairy!"

I tried my very hardest to keep a straight face as I explained to her that the tooth fairy just made a trade by giving her some money in exchange for her tooth. Hannah wasn't having it. She asked if she could put the money back in her pillow tonight so the tooth fairy would bring her tooth back.

Later today I found this sign where the other sign was last night:

(Just in case you can't read it, it says, "No tooth fairy alod.")

I think Hannah may have the only tooth fairy in the world who will make a repeat visit tonight to return a "stolen" tooth to a very broken-hearted little girl.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What a loser!

Today Hannah finally lost her first tooth! I say "finally" because the thing has been hanging by a thread for far too long since she hasn't allowed anyone to touch it. Today, however, for some unknown reason, she asked Greg if he would pull it. He barely had to do anything to get it out.

Here she is showing off her gap!

As you can see, the tooth is safely tucked inside the tooth pillow so the tooth fairy can have easy access to it without waking anyone up!

And before she went to bed, she even wrote a little note and left it on her headboard.

I can't believe it was only five years ago when I was celebrating because she got this very same tooth. Time really does go by quickly.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"I Love Daddy" Day

Please forgive all the details in this post. I felt the need to record as much as I could so I'd have something to go back and read on those days when I'm tempted to put this child up for auction on ebay!

After we got back from taking Millie to Mother's Day Out this morning, Hannah decided to go outside and play for a while. She came back inside a few minutes later with a pencil box full of flowers she had picked from our yard. She decided that since we never made the cookies we promised Daddy for Valentine's Day, she would give him these flowers instead. I told her that was very sweet and I was sure Daddy would love them.

A few minutes later she said she wanted to get everything ready so Daddy could have a tea party when he came home from work. When I passed through the kitchen a few minutes later, she had set up her little table, complete with a bath towel tablecloth and seating for four. She had taken the play dishes from her kitchen and made place settings for each of us, then taken three of her little pitchers and filled them with milk, orange juice, and water.

"Do you think Daddy will like it?" she asked.

"I think Daddy will love it," I told her.

She then proceeded to get out the bread, peanut butter, and jelly and make four PB&J sandwiches. She decided we could have powdered donuts for dessert.

"You're really going all out," I told her.

"I'm not finished yet," she said.

She went on to make a name tag for each of us and tape them to our chairs. Then she made a special card and a paper hat for Daddy since he was our guest of honor.

When that task was completed, she went into the toy room and said, "I want to get everything cleaned up so it will look nice when Daddy gets home." When I went in there, I found that she had picked up all of the toys. Then she made her bed, Millie's bed, and even my bed! After the beds were made, she asked if she could clean the bathroom mirror, which I agreed to. (Awfully generous of me, I know.) After that, she cleaned the bathroom countertop. She gave an honest effort at vacuuming but found that it was a little tougher than she had bargained for, so she asked if I would vacuum and sweep while she mopped and dusted. Finally, she decided that everything was just the way she wanted it. We left to pick up Millie; and when we got back, she patiently waited for Daddy to get home.

When he walked through the door, Millie and I joined Hannah in yelling, "SURPRISE!" just as we had been instructed to do. Then Hannah sat Daddy down at his special seat of honor and told him how she had planned this special party for him to let him know how much she loved him. How sweet is that?!

Here are a few pictures. I wish I would have taken more!

Daddy's special homemade hat. Notice the leaves she attached for feathers?

Giving Daddy his box of flowers.

Pouring Daddy's cup of orange juice.

Now do you see why I recorded all the details? I know it probably sounds like a dream; it does to me, too! But for today, at least, it's our reality. And I'm simply enjoying it.