Ancient Rome in our Book Basket

Ancient Greece has been engulfed, and the Roman Empire rises in our humanities studies!  What a rich smorgasbord of History, Literature, Philosophy, Mythology, Comparative Religions and Civics!  Below is a glimpse into our Book Basket for the next couple weeks.


Only a Dad; But the Best of Men

Top Photo: My parents with me circa 1972 --  Bottom Photo: My husband, Ken, with Kieran circa 2008

Top Photo: My parents with me circa 1972 — Bottom Photo: My husband, Ken, with Kieran circa 2008

I love Edgar Guest’s tribute to working-class dads!  I was blessed to have such a father (I love you, Daddy!) and I’m double blessed that my husband epitomizes this poem in my children’s lives.  Only a dad; but the best of men!  Happy Father’s Day!

Lessons in Beekeeping: Learning the Hard Way

After an in Epsom Salt and lavender bath, the stinging has subsided.   I made several tactical errors in transferring our bees to the hive this afternoon.

Error #1: Not cinching the veil sufficiently around my neck.  I thought I secured it enough, but soon after the pictures below were snapped, the bees became agitated, and I learned otherwise.  Dozens of bees swarmed under my veil–once within, they couldn’t get out.! I’d rather not have a veil than to have dozens of bees trapped in there with me.   Youch!

Error #2: Some places sell bees with the queen in a separate corked compartment.  With the “separate queen” set up, an aspiring bee keeper dumps drones and workers into the new hive, removes the cork from the queen’s vial, and leaves a hunk of “candy” blocking her exit from her chamber.  Workers get to know the queen (and she them) as they eat through the candy over several days, then she’s ready to rule the hive. Ah, but ours wasn’t like this: We realized rather late in the procedure that our hive was already fully functioning with the queen well integrated in one of the box frames, laying eggs, and reigning supreme.   This arrangement gives the hive a head-start, but it also accounts for the unexpected aggression.  I wasn’t prepared for bees already fighting for queen and country!

Error #3: We’d watched videos of bees loose in the box, ready to be dumped into the new hive with new frames. This box already had frames, with bees busy, filling the honeycombs.  (The frames were hidden by a layer of buzzing workers, so I didn’t realize there were frames in with the bees until I tried to the “dump” method and unnecessarily riled the already angry little creatures.)  Once I realized there were frames, lifting them gently, one by one worked nicely.

Oh, and we switched directions from the last post; placing the hive inside the chicken run after all.  You can see a couple interested chickens spectating in a photo below.

The transfer was successful–I think–just prickly.  Done right, I might have gotten a sting or two through my layers of denim and leather, but due to multiple errors, I sustained 15-20 stings–almost exclusively on the face and neck.  I’m relieved that I took the first turn at this, and didn’t let one of the children do it–they’ll have opportunities, but not until we work out kinks in our procedures.

Spraying sugar solution on the bees, in hopes of calming them.

Spraying sugar solution on the bees, in hopes of calming them.

Ineptly transferring bees to their new home

Ineptly transferring bees to their new home

Preparing for New Pets

This morning, while I enjoyed a tooth extraction, Ken and the children furnished a cozy home for our fuzzy friends. It’s ready for the arrival of a “nuclear colony” early Saturday morning!

We debated putting the hive in the chicken run–apparently chickens often help clean up dead bees, and pollinators and poultry can be friends; but then we also heard reports of rogue chickens devouring a whole bee colony.  Ultimately we “chickened” out and they will “bee” in a chicken-free zone. (Groan at the lame puns if you like, I blame the pain meds.)

Kendra, my garden-girl, is preparing to assist with new pets!  (She’ll add a thick denim jacket and elbow-high protective gloves to her ensemble when we actually embark.)

Bee Keeper Kendra

Bee Keeper Kendra

Rising 6th Grader

Keianna finished her 5th grade texts and is ready for 6th!  Per PrairieFrog tradition, I took her out to her choice of restaurants, and she chose Starbucks–where she ordered a vanilla latte and chocolate croissant, and declared this, “a delicious way to become a sixth grader!”  She noticed she was the only grade-schooler in the bustling establishment, and was tickled to be out enjoying coffee while her peers are still in classes–it’s that same exhilaration my children feel upon seeing a school bus filled with students hours after we are finished with the day’s formal work.

Keianna has numerous adventures planned for this summer and the year ahead–ambitions that will be fun, but also challenging.  As we discussed her upcoming plans, I mused that they’ll involve hard work; With characteristic ‘Anna spunk, her eyes twinkled as she said, “I hope it’s hard, because otherwise I won’t learn anything!”

Here’s my new sixth grader: ( Photo taken right after wiping the chocolate from her cheeks):

"A Delicious way to become a 6th grader"

“A Delicious way to become a 6th grader”


Celebrating Two Years Home!

May 11th was an important day.  Not so much because it was (maybe?) the last snow of the season.  Below is the vision we woke to this past Sunday in mid-May:

May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014

No, and not merely because Mother’s Day fell on Sunday this year, though I had a lovely day, and my children and husband spoiled me.

May 11th marked two years since Kiffanie arrived home!

Kiffanie: Across 4 Mays (Click to enlarge)

Kiffanie: Across 4 Mays (Click to enlarge)

What’s happening in the first picture?  Did someone score a touchdown?  Was she being mugged? Unique pose aside, it’s the first photo we have of her, taken in late May (or possibly very early June) 2011, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She’d been home just  a few days in the second photo, then a year in the third, and the fourth frame is a shot fresh from yesterday!  She’s sweet, smart, spunky, and fun, and amazes us at nearly every turn.

Young Composers

Our piano teacher asked Kieran and Kiffanie (ages 6 & 7) to make up a song or two, then she brought her tape recorder to record their original compositions.  Last week she returned having transcribed their songs to paper!

Kiffanie wrote, “The Dragon and the Princess” to be played, “adagio con espressivo” (Which describes Kiffanie quite well.)

The Dragon and the Princess, by Kiffanie

The Dragon and the Princess, by Kiffanie

Keeping to similar era, Kieran composed, “In Medieval Times…AARRR”  to be played “andante con Rubato.”  Yes, Kieran is totally “con rubato” and andante is very much his speed.   I love the ending–it really brings out the “Aarrr!” from the title!

In Medieval Times...AARRR by Kieran

In Medieval Times…AARRR by Kieran

And on a totally different note, Kieran’s “Butterflies” in 3/2 time, complete with lyrics (also by Kieran):

Butterflies by Kieran

Butterflies by Kieran

Classical Greece in our Book Basket

We are back in Ancient Greece–a bit further down the timeline, and now at the height of the classical era!  The book baskets are spilling over with riches as we wrap up the school year.

Kaira, my Rhetoric level student, has a few reading assignments not represented in the book basket.  Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Republic,  and Aristotle’s Politics can be found free online, so she’ll be using those  resources in addition to several items in the book basket below.

We stretched the definition a bit to include the Percy Jackson series which Ken’s reading aloud to the children.  It’s bodaciously fictional, and set in modern times, but we decided it “counts” because they feature the Greek gods.  This series is great fun for all ages.

Below, our book basket for the upcoming month; If you are reading on a feed reader and can’t see the widgets, click through to see our book selections for this fun era: