Finally made it to Staples on Saturday for our fun school supplies, mostly for Davy, who is overjoyed about starting first grade: oversize (5"x8") index cards with primary ruling for beginning writers; Laurentien's new best quality "Studio" colored pencils (not as pricey as Prismacolor Juniors which are more than Davy needs right now, but better than the usual store brand -- even he noticed a difference, and Laura our colored pencil expert said they compare favorably to the Prismacolors); Crayola IQ Sketching markers; oversize index tabs long enough to peek out beyond the plastic page protectors; yet another package of aforementioned page protectors; new binders for Davy (orange, because purple and green have already been claimed); stickers for everyone (Hot Wheels x 2, and farm animals x 1); a new Mead "Upper Class" student planner for me (where I can write each day what they actually did for the day rather than what I planned for them to do); the Staples "house version" of the Desk Buddy (Desk Jockey? Desk Buddy?) with 10 slots (three of each -- how did they know I had three kids? Plus the one extra in the middle for my own stuff) that will make it easy for us to keep pencils, rulers, erasers, etc. on the table and corralled while the kids do their seatwork; and an impulse buy from the Teacher's Aisle, a $10 Multiplication Songs CD.
The leaves and the sun, sadly up later and down earlier, not to mention the geese and ducks gathering together in droves, are all saying "autumn", but the air temperature, still near 90, is saying "summer". Rather a nice if unusual combination for the prairies, all in all. No rain either, good for harvesting and for leaving sneakers on the deck, but the trees are starting to get pretty thirsty again.
Tom decided to celebrate Labor Day and the good weather by inviting some family and friends to say goodbye to our incubator-hatched wild ducks -- once and for all identified as blue-winged teals. After chores on Monday morning, he and I boxed them up, and then we all drove over to our pond, where we released what I still think of as my eight babies. I suppose I expected them to waddle out of the tipped over cardboard toward the water, but as soon as the lid was lifted, all of them took flight and circled around the dugout, practicing their takeoffs and landings. The kids gasped and giggled and said their goodbyes. For the past few mornings, the kids and I have taken part of a loaf of bread to feed our former babies, and while we can't tell which ones of all the ducks swimming around are "ours", they all seem to be more than happy with the treat. We wish them goodbye and goodspeed, literally and figuratively, in evading the arriving hunters and heading south.
We ended the day rather differently, by the side of the road 10 miles north of home, the kids and I standing by in the dark with pails of water, a shovel, and a fire extinguisher while Tom welded one of the bearings that had piled up (this is apparently a technical term) in the swather, the part on the tractor that cuts the grain stalks and lays it in a tidy, erm, swath. All the fire precautions, including moving the tractor out to the side of the road from the field, were to prevent a stray spark from the welder causing a fire in the ripe grain, which is after all just dry grass. Think tinder. Tom finally got everything fixed by 9:30, and if the kids hadn't needed showers before we left the house, they certainly needed them on arriving home. So much for my grand plans of an early bedtime before our first day of school.
All the more reason, along with our early harvest, to start yesterday's back to school efforts gently, and with lots of coffee. The day began with the "goodie bags" I started a couple of years ago, when I realized that I didn't really want to squirrel away the really fun books, art supplies, and CDs I had found over the summer: the American Girl Kaya story collection and the AG school planner for Laura, a few Jim Weiss CDs, some DVDs, a Timex learner's watch with the dinosaur strap for Davy, a couple of Robert McCloskey books for Daniel, a couple of small Lego kits for the boys. The kids each did one lesson of Singapore math and some penmanship, we looked after the animals, then headed to town after lunch for the first music lessons with new teachers, piano for Laura and Daniel and voice for Laura. Both of the teachers seem personable and pleasant, and I needed to make some changes to keep Laura interested and inspired in lessons.
Today we did some more math, penmanship, and managed to read aloud some of the goodie bag books (George Shrinks, Lentil) before Tom spirited the kids away to work on the new-to-us grainaries at the corrals. This morning Daniel asked for a spelling test, so we may start spelling tomorrow, then grammar and history in next week, and science the week after that.
I'm predicting a pretty slow day tomorrow too. Tom didn't get in with the kids until almost eight, and after a quick dinner and necessary baths, they're all unwinding by watching the "Bridges" volume from the goodie bag DVD, "Building Big" with David Macaulay (did you know that there's an activity/experiment with the kids from "Zoom" at the end of "Bridges"? I didn't). Or I could just consider that the science lesson for the day and go ahead and check it off my list, knowing full well the kids will attempt the activity on their own tomorrow...