My Daughter, The Naturalist

Is this how it begins? With the discovery of one small toad, one dead butterfly, one dried up worm? Does knowing that you are now fast enough (and brave enough!) to catch those toads, and lizards, cause the obsession, because my daughter is obsessed with collecting, caring for, and learning about, tiny animals.

Did you know that not all tadpoles are the same? The black ones turn into toads, green ones, into frogs. My daughter has collected toad tadpoles, which does not surprise me given the number of baby toads that descend upon our pool each spring and summer.

I had the book Pets In A Jar from my days in the classroom and so I brought it out and dusted it off.

I know mothers with boys are probably used to this but I’m finding my daughter’s drive to learn about all these tiny critters just fascinating. Sure, I caught a few frogs as a child and loved to watch the parade of ants as they carried a grain of sand in their mouth while forging their way into a new hole in the ground, but I don’t remember wanting to keep this pets well . . . as pets.

So far my daughter is caring for: 2 tiny wasp larvae (their location right now is unknown to me), a few hundred tadpoles, 20 worms, (her own mini worm composting bin!), 3 lizards, a dozen snails, one moth caterpillar, and 5 now-in-metamorphosis painted ladies. Did I remember them all? I may be leaving some out.

Seriously. Is there a better use for a punch bowl?

Seriously.  Is there a better use for a punch bowl?

I posted a request for large, restaurant-style glass jars on freecycle. I hope someone answers quick!


When my girls were little it was easy to meet new people and make new friends. I met some at the birthing class I took, at the libraries after story time or toddler time, and at the Y when we went to swim lessons. First-time moms not only want new friends, but need them. So often friends from our “old worlds” disappear as we get caught up in the bliss of having a new baby at home. And if more children follow, we’re almost sure to find a need for a whole new social group.

As my girls grow, however, I’m finding it more difficult not only in meeting new mom friends for myself, but also in helping my daughters meet new friends themselves.

I think this speaks to our fast-paced society. It’s not that we don’t see other families out and about. We do. We pass by when we go to dance, gymnastics, and music class, etc. The thing is, we don’t (”we” meaning myself and society at large), take the time to stop and cultivate new relationships because we are so busy “having” to get somewhere else afterward. Our minds seem to constantly be on the next thing, rather than the present moment.

Another thing that has happened to my daughters’ friends from their early years is that many of them went off to school. So the friends we once got together with on a regular basis now have less time to just “hang out” because they have to do all their other things after school.

We do have a small circle of friends we see socially, but I just joined a new and local homeschool group to see if we can expand our circle to include more older kids.

As I do so, and feel the excitement, anticipation and slight anxiety of meeting new people in a new “group” I am comforted by the always-wise words of the founders of the Enki Education curriculum. I read these words last night and they couldn’t have come at a better time.

It is wonderful if a group of like minded parents can form an Enki coop, but this is not likely to be the case for many of us. So what can we do? We can look for the jewels within the chaos of the world around. In and of itself, this attitude is an important one to model for the children. There may be neighborhood children, or church groups, or scout troops, or clubs of all sorts. Sometimes these will not be quite the environment you are hoping for, nor will they share all the values you hold dear. However, we encourage flexibility in choosing social activities, remembering that they are filling one need, not all needs. And sometimes you can bring in aspects of your Enki work to enrich the whole situation.

Free Webinar On Choosing Curriculum

Join in this free webinar sponsored by the Pinellas Parent Educators Association. All are welcome. You don’t not have to be a Pinellas County resident.

Choosing Curriculum Webinar
April 23, 2009 from 2:30-4:00 pm

Join us as we discuss the ins and outs of Choosing Curriculum! This webinar will be a little different from the original information. Several people wanted to discuss Pre-K through elementary school. Others had questions about high school, SO this webinar will have 3 sections

2:30-3 PreK through Elementary Not Rocket Science
3-3:30 Choosing Curriculum
3:30-4 Middle/High School (including new SPC dual enrollment info)

If you are on the signup for the webinar you may attend whichever parts are of interest to you. Come just for the Pre-k-Elementary part or stay for the whole thing, whatever you need.

With a webinar you are able to ask any questions by typing them in (like a chat room). You will be able to see me and the presentation that I use in an orientation. You can even come and go from the meeting room if life interrupts at your house.

The is the second in a series of 4 webinars sponsored by the Pinellas Parent Educators Association.
Florida Homeschool Law and You (March 26) recording of this session available
Choosing Curriculum (April 23)
Homeschool Record-Keeping (May 14)
Your Questions Answered! (June 11)

The first 3 sessions cover the material presented in our homeschool orientation. The June session is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have. You attend the webinar via your online connection from your own home. This provides minimal interruption to your daily life.

To sign up for any of the sessions, use this link

Those who are signed up will receive a link to the meeting room the day before the session. Signing up via the website is the only way to receive this link, so don’t delay!

Questions? contact: Linda Wooldridge

Oh My Oh My Oh! Butterflies!

If you haven’t yet been to the Butterfly Encounter at Lukas Nursery in Oveido, then you really should add it to your list of things to do this Spring.

Here you can you can feed not one, but two, three, four, . . . nine baby butterflies at one time.

The staff at Lukas Nursery is extremely knowledgeable and answered tons of questions we had about this caterpillar we found last week.

After researching FL caterpillars we found out that this guy is a White Marked Tussock Caterpillar. A moth caterpillar. Since we found him on the side of our house, we had no idea what to feed him. The people at Lukas Nursery told us that they like oak leaves. So he’s now happily munching away his oak leaves inside our caterpillar tent. We’re waiting eagerly to see him form his cocoon.

We like to take a trip to Lukas Nursery every Spring. When you go, you’ll enjoy the sight and smell of beautiful blooming butterfly plants, with a dozen or more varieties of butterflies swooping around and dancing to the soft Classical music that plays quietly in the background. Water fountains and small bridges complete the ambiance.

When you go, you’ll have the option of choosing a guided tour or going through the Encounter on your own.

We have never gone in a group setting. We like to have the space and quiet to express our full reverence for the experience. My five year old expressed the feeling best when she said, “I knew this was going to be a great day!”

You will feel that too.

Tie the field trip into a study of life cycles. Have your kids journal about it or draw pictures of the life cycle of a butterfly caterpillar or moth caterpillar. Come home and do some more research about host plants and the difference between moth caterpillars and butterfly caterpillars. Do some compare/contrast exercises. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

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