150 of them

Today was a glorious day. Even started off feeling productive. Made a quick run to the grocery store to get all that I needed for a crockpot chili dinner. Granted, would have been even more awesome had I planned that with enough time along with a plan for a whole week’s worth of meals. But, hey, one step at a time. I’ll eventually get there. Today I made the run for chili ingredients in time for when Steve needed to leave for work at 7am. I quickly cooked the ground beef and chopped up onions and celery and the green bell pepper. Threw everything in together all the while Jacob and Natalie were playing a marvelous game called ‘La Boca’.  Then I had them jump in the car while still in their pajamas and we drove the game back to our friends’ house who had let us borrow it.

Science began.

We watched a computer animation showing when in the Moon’s revolution around the Earth the Spring and Neap tides occur. Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.55 PMI taught the kiddos that the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not circular. This animation is not drawn scientifically. Instead, the Moon’s orbit is elliptical in shape. As a result, there is a point in the orbit that the Moon is closer to the Earth (called perigee) and a point in the orbit when the Moon is furthest from the Earth (called apogee).

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.12.47 PMWe studied a “Moon Phases Calendar” for the month of February and compared it to the Oreo-cookie moon phase observations the kids had made in the early parts of February before it started getting too cloudy at night to see the moon.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.45 PMI taught them how to read a tide chart.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.23 PMAnd then they consolidated all of their learning together, by trying to formulate an explanation in their own words of a “Perigean Spring Tide”.

I love, love, love that my 1st and 2nd grade kids are learning how to write complex thoughts in their own words. I remember back in the day when I taught junior high school, how many students would turn in work that was just copied textbook lines. If I asked them what it meant, they had no idea what to say. So I’m training my kids from a young age how to put complex thoughts into their own words. Words that they can then read back and fully understand as well as words they can use to explain the concept to someone orally. Today felt like one of those proud mama moments, when I could listen to the reading of their written explanation and smile because I knew success had been met. They knew what they were talking about. Yay!!! Victory!!!

Then we did some more homeschooling. Jacob worked on his “Space Race” timeline. Natalie and I read the biography of Lyman Frank Baum who wrote the ‘Wizard of Oz’ in the year 1900. Wow! I had no idea that the story was 114 years old! Natalie also learned who Judy Garland was and how became famous in her role as Dorothy in the first movie of Wizard of Oz that came out in 1939. Next I had Natalie read the summary of the production so that she would have a background knowledge of it before going to see it at a theater this weekend with Daddy. I figured that if she will be in the Haven’s Wizard of Oz Production in May, it would be neat to let her get to learn the story and already see a production so that she has a full understanding of what she’s going to be a part of.

Lunches were made and packed. Kids were dressed for the tide pools and ready with their hiking boots on. We rolled out at 10am on the dot, just as I had set out for. Oh wow today sure was feeling like a successful day already. Love it when that happens. 🙂

Off we went to Abalone Cove to meet up with our Adventure Club friends. Initially we were calendared to head to the CA Science Center today, but when a few of the moms learned that this week there are really, really low tides and really, really high tides, it was too great of an opportunity to pass up! Being able to connect the -0.8 low tide with our study of space was awesome!!!! I absolutely love making connections like that! I was bursting with excitement to share my researched websites/links/pictures with the kids this morning. What an incredible way to study space! Getting to witness firsthand the awesome combined pull of the moon’s gravity and the sun’s gravity during these days reaching New Moon in combination with Perigee…..wow!….now that’s what I call science at its finest. Days like today are what make homeschooling truly glorious!

And then there was the time at Abalone Cove. So much to soak in and treasure….

• the “island” as Jacob called it

• sitting still on the rocks….so still actually that I could hear the clicking sounds of crabs nearby.

• the tide way, way, way out

• Natalie running down the trail towards the ocean, eager beyond eager to meet up with her friends and begin the adventure. Her unabashed, joy-filled running towards the beach oh what pure, pure joy for this mama’s heart

• the kids taking notice of tiny hermit crabs

• standing still to watch itty bitty hermit crabs scuttling on rocks, in pools of water

• sculpin fish

• dry rocks for as far as my eye could see. Us climbing on rocks, balancing on rocks. Barnacles on rocks. Hundreds and thousands of barnacles. Rigid, hard barnacles that amazingly withstand the pressure of feet and body weights standing on them.

• a bright, sunny day. My face actually feels a bit ‘tight’ from the sun exposure from today. You know that “I’ve been in the sun a lot, tight feeling?”

• William ‘fishing’ with his white rope and a mussel tied on the end as bait

• Natalie smitten by William and wanting to hang out near him and watch him fish and learn how to ‘fish’ with his rope and mussel

• Jacob shouting “Mussel Central!!!!!” when he went out adventuring further on the giant island of rocks

• Natalie’s shrieks, nervousness and clinging to me for balance and safety transforming with time over to laughs, independence and leaping from rock to rock. She just needed to warm up. Glad we were there long enough to give her that time to grow comfortable.

• Jacob taking notice that there were sea hares out of water. The concern. The care. And yet he wasn’t interested in trying to pick up the sea hares so, instead, he shouted out for William. “WIIIIIIIIIILLIAM!!!! There’s a sea hare that needs you to rescue it!!!!!!” And then there would come William leaping and bounding over the rocks in his flip flops and would with great ease pick up the sea hare and deposit it in water. That’s when the “Sea Hare Farm” idea began. The kids began to search for sea hares out of water in need of the coolness and wetness of water. Jacob and Natalie would shout out the discovery of a dry sea hare and wait with a pointing finger to show William which one was in need of his rescuing. He started rescuing several. Some of them inked on his hands. His hands were purple and then the water turned purple as we watched the ever so slowly moving swirls of purple ink rise up from the mid-back section of the sea hare. Amazing. Beautiful. Truly astonishing. The search for sea hares ensued. Before we knew it, more and more and more sea hares were being added to the ‘farm’ to let them be in water.

I volunteered to be the post for the kids’ easy tracking of the ‘farm’ so that each time they went out looking for another sea hare, they could spot me and then quickly return to the same place. They were SO ambitious and kept coming back with more. That was my other volunteer job: helping them keep track of the count, so that as each of them went in search of a sea hare without water, then as they returned I could let them know where the count left off. The whole team of them had such incredible diligence and persistence to search far and wide for sea hares out of the water. I imagine God designed sea hares to withstand the 5-7 hours of low tide, but it was extremely cute nonetheless to help the kiddos in their mission of care today. William, Magnolia, Grace in search of sea hares with Jacob searching for ones in need of rescuing and Natalie keeping station with me at the pool of water. Then others came to join the mission…..Isabel, Abigail, Olivia, James, Asher. This went on and on and on. After about the 70th or perhaps it was the 80th ‘rescue’, then all of a sudden Jacob found the courage to try holding one himself. Shortly after then Natalie mustered up the courage and asked to hold one. When Magnolia reached over to give her one, Natalie changed her mind. Later though….she mustered up some more courage and indeed held one! All by herself! She was beaming!!!! So incredibly proud of herself for conquering her fear in picking up the slimy creature.

[Sidenote: tonight while I tucked Natalie into bed, I asked her what made her change her mind about trying to hold a sea hare. She said that she kept seeing Grace picking them up and not being scared. “And Grace is younger than me Mama!” A young girl Grace, who will be turning 5 in a few months, is the one who unknowingly inspired Natalie to be brave. Isn’t that just so cool!??]

Then after that moment, Natalie was leaping, springing, practically running as she scrambled from rock to rock in search of sea hares needing to be ‘rescued’. She cupped her two hands together and oh so gingerly held each sea hare as she carried it to the pool of water deemed the “Sea Hare Farm”. What a beautiful sight to behold. She had gone from being nervous and timid about the creatures, to running to be a part of their rescue. She probably had no idea how completely exhausted she would be by the day’s end from all that rock scrambling! Both kiddos had a serious workout today. It is not easy to keep your balance as you walk on uneven levels of rocks for three hours! I’m so thankful that we get to enjoy days like today as our schooling.

The quest for sea hares continued. Once they had found and carried 100 sea hares to the pool of water, I thought they would tire and be done. Nope. The search went on. Wow. These kids were showing incredible tenacity! I finally capped the search by announcing the end goal: 150. And yes, they reached it! They even exceeded it……the final count was 155. Yes, 155 sea hares were brought to the coolness of water by the hands of loving, caring children today. One hundred fifty five. That number is staggering to me. That level of dedication from the kids. They scoured the rocks far out, once they had already covered the ground in search of them near the pool. The number of rocks they traversed for these sea hares was truly beautiful to witness. I can’t even imagine what all these sea hares did several hours later at high tide. Would they be tossed about in the swirling madness of the water currents? Would they stay stationed tight onto the surfaces of the rocks there at the Sea Hare Farm? Unanswered questions. But not a single thought of the kiddos and that was fine. They were leaving with hearts full of contentment with the care and concern they had demonstrated.

They also were leaving with seriously purple hands! Hands stained a deep, deep shade of purple. I really thought William would have purple hands for a week. Magnolia and Grace had mega purple hands as well.Natalie had some purple. And Jacob had this whitish, almost translucent snot-like slime all over his hands from the sea hare or two he had picked up. Tonight after doing some research I discovered that sea hares produce two substances: ink and opaline. Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.37.16 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.37.39 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.39.01 PM

I didn’t take this picture, but I found this one online that shows where/how the sea hare emits the ink.



This online picture I found shows a sea hare emitting the opaline. It is this sticky stuff that Jacob got all over his hands. And it was sticky indeed!!!! So sticky that he couldn’t get it off his hands even when he tried washing it in the sea water or wiping it on his shirt. Get this! Turns out that scientists have performed experiments to understand the role of opaline for the sea hare. They’ve learned that this sticky substance, when it adheres to the antennae of lobsters (their predators), then the lobsters end up having to stop and spend a lot of time trying to remove the sticky substance from their antennae, to no avail. So there the lobsters sit trying madly to get it off their antennae all the while their sensory receptors on their antennae can no longer detect the presence of food nearby. Incredible! Yeah….and that’s what Jacob had all over his hands. Natalie had purple ink. Jacob had opaline.

William must have had a combination of both opaline with purple ink, because when he would slip the sea hares into the pool of water, counting them off “76….77….78….79”, he would then stand up and I would see purple oober-sticky stuff hanging from his hands. Oh me oh my! I was laughing my head off watching how totally unphased he was by what was all over his hands!

What a truly glorious day.

I’m so thankful I get to have days like these with my kiddos.

Goodnight world. I’m off to dream land. Who knows, perhaps I’ll be dreaming of sea hares, considering I saw so many of them today.

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