Monday, January 31, 2011

TOS Ticket Winner

We've rounded up the names and selected a winner for The Old Schoolhouse Expo. I actually ended up cutting up the weather graph I'd just printed out too, whoops! Then, if you look closely, you'll see I wrapped one of the names up wrong, double whoops! It's been a long day, and a Monday no less. That's my excuse(s) anyway, and I'm sticking with it!

Despite all of that, we still had our handy dandy give-away, and thankfully pretty much all of you were sleeping so no one knew the difference that due to a wickedly naughty printer we had our drawing an hour later then we'd intended. Are you getting the picture of what kind of Monday we had around here yet?

My handy helpers drew a name out of the pot, all though there was a slight disagreement as to who would do it, and now I'm on the line to do another give-away super soon so the child who didn't get to draw the name can be the one to draw the next name. They really prefer those double drawing give-aways so they can both have a turn, and please excuse the terribly blurry picture.. you know, Monday and all that..

And the winner is Candace, all though my son was convince it was me. Really, he was. He pulled the name out and I'd stopped to move the dog out of my picture and I hear, "Mommy! Wow, MOM! You WON!" I thought he was still playing his made up checkers game until he waved the paper at me. Yeah, did I mention it was Monday around here? Anyway, hooray for Candace!

School Plans: Valentine Special

Both boys have officially wrapped up studies from last week so they're both moving onward. Morgan is embarking on a two week study with the book Arabella. We actually own an autographed copy of this book, but it appears it too is in America so we're subbing with a well loved copy from the library.

Morgan's excited about this book because it's written by one of his favorite authors, Wendy Orr. Both of my boys fell head over heels in love with the Nim's Island series and thus we've read or listened to them several times over.

As for Jayden he's embarking on some Valentine's Day fun for the week. The idea was originally to use the book The Valentine Bears with the free unit study offered by Homeschool Share. However, after going to print it out, I realized most of the ideas, while terrific, were a wee bit below him and in the end I rewrote some terrifically fun ideas for him this week and whipped up a quick lapbook to go with it.  To tie it all together we're going to be using the Download N Go Valentine's Day study as well.

Valentine's Day is a big deal to my guys because Mr S and I have always doted on them with a few fun gifts and very heart"y" ideas for meals. Even when my children were younger it was common for us to give them a small gift and their fun loving Aunt in America and grandparents use to send the balloons with a stuffed animal. The boys have very fond memories of all this and so the tradition lives on.

I do believe, though, that Jayden has only just started to consider all the traditions and how fun they are because if he's asked me once he's asked me a million times since the first of the year, "Mom, will we put our boxes outside our door again and wake up to find them filled up on Valentine's Day? Will you give me another chocolate and maybe a tiny little lego?"

I thought this quick study would be a really fun way for him to grasp other concepts of the holiday from the historical value to some Biblical truths about love. Will it all stick? Probably not because chances are he'll be up to his little eyeballs in making chocolate covered raisins and bear claws and wondering exactly what I may, or may not, leave in his little mailbox for him on Valentine's Day.

Notes: You can download the small lapbook here if you're interested & the lesson plans here. We'll be using the Download N Go for learning about the history of Valentine's Day. We snagged a couple of little booklets from over at HSS to go with our learning of bears.

Just a Reminder..

Sign-ups end today at 6pm AEST for putting your name in the draw for free tickets to The Old School House Conference that takes place in May! We'll draw the winner's name and announce it there after, so be sure to check back and see if you're the winner or not!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project 365: Week Four

Sunday, January 23 -- Mr S rounded the boys up and they ran out into the garden to wave a greeting to the farmer next door. Generally we only see him a couple of times a year and are much better acquainted with his sheep who stick their fuzzy little noses up to the fence every now and again. That is, until Buster attempts to herd them up...

Monday, January 24 -- Beach treasures. While walking on what little of the beach I could, it's a complete mess since the storms and floods, I found the empty white jar in the picture above. I carted it all the way down the beach and then back home again, much to the boys delight. They love seeing what treasures I find while I'm out walking. I placed it in my kitchen window sill (next to a jar of green sea glass) and popped our sea marble in it.

Tuesday, January 25 -- in my attempt to keep meals creative I served Jayden lion for breakfast. The original idea used a clementine orange, something we recently spotted for the very first time at our local grocery, but Jayden is on a strike against oranges (that was until he heard us all raving about how tasty the little clementines were) so I used peaches for the main and nose. Originally, I made it because I was thinking of the sentence in the Madeline Book where she's at the zoo.. yeah well that was a tiger not a lion.. whoopsie! Oh well, the boys enjoyed them all the same.

Wednesday, January 26 -- Australia Day! We were so caught up in a game of Quiddler followed by Aussie Pictionary that I'm not sure anyone took any other pictures of the festivities this year! It was a beautiful day filled with laughter and fun.

Thursday, January 27 -- After the trip to the movies and lunch out we took Nana up to the local scrapbooking/craft store. Once we were done in there the boys asked if we could hit the op-shop around the corner. I agreed. We spotted 5 of these bowls (different faces/colors on others without a quarter of their eye missing) and for a dollar I picked them up. We were in need of bowls anyway and I knew Mr S would laugh himself silly when he found these in the cupboards; I was right on both accounts.

Friday, January 28 -- It's not the greatest picture, but it captures Friday evenings in our home pretty well around here.  When Mr S gets in from town the boys usually clamber to play a few rounds of a racing video game with him, after that it's all about showing him everything they've done in their lapbooks for the week. In the above picture they've all ready admired two of Jayden's lapbooks and are now admiring Morgan's notebook. Why is Morgan wearing one sock, I know you're dying to find out, right? Yeah, well.. He cut his foot on a piece of glass and thus decided to wear a sock to keep the cut clean. Other then that, I got nothing..

Saturday, January 30 -- a knot on a tree down at the park. It's a huge old bumpy knot and an amazing tree. Perfect for laying under to read a book, except for one bits of gum bark fall on you or the seagulls get well acquainted with your presence.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pumpkin Runner Notebook & Fun

Morgan finally wrapped up his studies with the book The Pumpkin Runner. We had a grand time, and will most likely still continue with a little bit of Australian history, but we've wrapped up our two week study this week.

Morgan enjoyed using Skype to call his Gram each day so she could read the book to him as our copy was in America. Jayden sat in for the first reading, but was usually busy doing other school until it became time for "show & tell" via the video camera.

Morgan used our ProClick to make his notebook this week, and we tucked a pocket in the back of it to hold a few bits and bobs that we couldn't bind into the actual spine of the book. He's still waiting on some pictures to be printed out to stick in there as well, but he's quite pleased with his new little notebook.

You might need to prepare yourself for this post because it'll probably be a picture overload as there are quite a few pages in his notebook. Mind you, I didn't take a photo of all of them, but we also have some fun pictures of our science experiments and printables.

Okay, so really, tell me you can look at that page and not grin or snicker. Have you seen the muscles on the man showing off? Or the tears streaming down the other fellows face? 

Mr S was ticked pink beyond belief to see this particular Aussie saying in Morgan's notebook. I'm talking laughing himself silly kinda excited! In case you can't read it, it says, "I hope your chooks turn to emus and kick your dunny down." Mr S saw that saying written on the whiteboard and said, "Oh-ho, what's this? Someone in trouble?" and I laughed and said, "Nope, that was Morgan's English lesson today." "I hope he wrote that in his notebook, that would be so funny!" "I can assure you he did write it in his notebook, and he found it just as funny as you did." "Very Awesome!" 

Okay, first off I haven't spent any amount of time teaching my children any form of biology.  My kids know basic body parts all though I have one who constantly thinks his elbows are his ankles, but that's another story all together. Morgan and I were sitting at the table today and I said, "You tell me what each bone is and I'll write it for you while you have your snack." He was delighted. He knew them all.  We get to the end and I said, "How on earth did you know all those bones?" He just shrugged at me. I can only presume it's from the body game they played on the computer when they were littler. It had this funny little skeleton man who asked them all sorts of biology type questions and they collected bones and what-not. All I know, is my 9 year old put me to shame, because I admit there were two of those bones I had to verify before I accepted his answers.

I was explaining muscles to Morgan and then had the boys each try pushing on the table in a different manner so they could see how muscles work. Then we printed this funny fellow out and put him together. It comes from an ebook I picked up recently in the Scholastic $1 sale. The book is awesome and we've all ready used a handful of the items in there and the boys are itching to get on with the rest.

This came from the same book and while it's clever it'll be difficult to store. I'd all ready had it printed out before I realized he knew all the common bone names, and the not so common names. Maybe I should put it up in the kitchen windowsill for my own educational purposes! 

We discussed bones as well as muscles and this fun little printable was really awesome so they could see inside a bone without, well you know, having to cut into a real bone! Ha, not that my kids would have minded. Morgan can't handle anything dead, the poor kid will literally run screaming and have a panic attack if he sees a dead bird on the beach, but show him a pile of bones and he's in complete awe!

The little bone could be made to grow into a longer bone! When Morgan showed this to Jayden and Mr S, Jayden was in awe demanding to know exactly how it had been done. I love it when they get excited about little things like that.

We filled out a few of these for some of our Aussie Explorers. The pages come from Homeschool Creations, but I think we'll be making our own for future use. These ones are nice, and they worked for us though!

We also worked on our timeline notebook more. Morgan really loves doing this because he likes drawing. Above are pictures he drew for Bass & Flinders as well as Burke & Wills. We've divided our Timeline Notebook into three sections: Australian History, American History, & World History. Each section has it's own drawings/times in it and in the pocket divider we keep a list of the books we've read for the section. It might warrant it's own post at a later time for more pictures/details.

We also enjoyed reading the book Hot Air The Mostly True Story. It's not the first time we read it, but we paid more attention to the historical value of it this go around. Morgan then decided to draw a picture of the three most important happenings from the story so we could add them to his timeline. The bottom picture might look like a scribble, but it's actually a hot air balloon on fire! 

I no sooner finished reading this book to them then they were making popcorn in an air popper. I was asked funny questions, but didn't put too much thought into it as I was trying to sort out the papers on our table before they added popcorn to the mix. Morgan finally comes over and says, "I don't get it. The man in the book made a box out of cloth and made it rise to the ceiling with hot air. I used a tea towel and a wash cloth and it did not rise with the hot air from the popcorn maker." 

Now he wants to build a cloth box and then try putting a small fire under it like the man in the book. He also has a couple of hot air balloon craft projects he's still working on, but then he's always working on a craft project! You'll have to wait for the science experiment pictures because I fear this picture overloaded post will be incredibly long as it is!

You can find the FREE notebooking pages HERE.

Friday, January 28, 2011

TOS Ticket GiveAway

I was recently asked to help spread the news about The Old Schoolhouse Expo coming up in May. In exchange I was given 2 free ticket. One so I could attend the conference & another one that I can give away so one of my lucky readers can attend the conference.

The best part is, this is open to International Residents as well as US Residents! This makes me super happy, because I often turn down offers to give-away products on my blog if they aren't available to international readers. If you're like me, and an international reader, there's a lot of give-aways happening out there that we can't join in on, so it's really nice to be able to offer something to everyone!

I really enjoyed attending last year, despite the time difference, and walked away with a lot of information to digest. An online conference opportunity was really fun and interesting because, being in Tasmania, I don't have the opportunities to go to big homeschool conferences. That made an online conference a unique and fun opportunity, especially because if I missed a meeting/session due to a time difference I was able to download it later and listen to it.

Now, I've been told that tickets are on sale and sell out quickly so if you're wanting to purchase one you should be quick about it. There's also some fun freebies to download once you purchase your ticket. They're are also a few freebies listed on their Facebook page if you're interested in popping over there to check them out.

Last, but not least, if you do purchase a ticket you need to be sure you open the confirmation email as you'll still need to register for each of the upcoming meetings. There are two pre-meetings (one in March & another in April) and then the actual conference in May. As long as you register you'll get a reminder email with a link for quick and easy access to the meeting(s). Simple as!

On with the give-away! If you'd like to have your name put in for the drawing please leave a comment here (and a way to contact you if need be) and we'll draw a random winner on our Monday, January 31st,  at 6 pm AEST. That will be the equivalent to 1 am CST. If you're not in the US or Australia I'm at a total loss of what time it will be for you then!  Again, this give-away is open to anyone anywhere! This Give Away Is Now Closed. 

Notes:  I do not receive monies for anyone clicking on a link here & purchasing a TOS Expo ticket, I am simply helping spread the word in exchange for a conference ticket. Any opinions shared about my experiences at a TOS conference are purely my own.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Explorer Cake

I had this wild idea that Morgan would enjoy making an Explorers Cake for Australia Day. The idea was that he'd use a cake to make the map of Australia and then trace the various routes Australian Explorers he'd learned about. I mentioned the idea to him, and he was completely taken with it! We bounced ideas around for decorating it, and I agreed I'd pick up a few sprinkles for him to use. He also wanted a few JellyBabies for the actual explorers and I agreed that he could have a few. The rest were given away to company.

I asked Mr S to help Morgan with the cake because I didn't want to get carried away being creative with the cake myself. Morgan and I quickly briefed Mr S on the entire idea, a few times over. I agreed to make the cake and then put on the the icing they needed as well, but the rest of the work was pretty much all them!

They used a blue/white sprinkle mix for the water, and we felt the dinosaurs looked like green fish. We only chose to recognise 6 explorers because we only had 5 colors of sprinkles. We figured Able Tasman could just be represented with a Jelly Baby because we didn't have a world map on our cake.

Top View, isn't it awesome?!
Mr S printed out a map of Australia that fit our 9x13 cake (recipe here) perfectly. He then cut them out and pressed them gently onto the "naked" cake. Then Morgan liberally sprinkled the cake with the blue/white dino mix we picked up for this cake. Then they brushed the sprinkles off the paper templates and gently pulled them up. They used toothpicks to get a quick lift before pulling them up. From there they added the explorers routes.

The red jelly, and picture on the nearest flag, is Abel Tasman credited with finding Tasmania way back when it was known as Van Dieman's Land. Or, actually, even farther back when they thought Tasmania was part of New Holland.  The red jelly baby by the Aussie Flag is Captain Cook and represents his raising of the flag in Botany Bay. Again, we didn't put his route on the cake because, like Tasman, they traveled from England.

The yellow line represents the travels of Flinders & Bass as they navigated around the entirety of mainland Australia in order to discover the Bass Straight; thus named because Flinders felt it should be named after his friend and colleague Bass.

The orange jelly and route represents Charles Sturt and his exploration from south to north of Australia. Morgan was quite eager, and actually requested this explorer, because he wanted to include Ayer's Rock on the map. He's quite taken by Ayer's Rock, which happened to be a bit of chocolate we rounded off a bit.  The purple route and explorer represent Ludwig Leichhardt, an explorer we read about on Australia Day. We also endured a round of Advance Australia Fair, & Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees, which was followed up by a few small snippets from The Australia Book about Captain Cook's landing at Botany Bay and a few well loved Explorers stories.

The finished materpiece!

Morgan was quite proud of the job well done here, and Mr S was equally impressed with the job they did. Needless to say it was a well admired cake before everyone started requesting specific pieces of the map, explorers, and so on to eat.. 

Notes:  A great site for learning or reading about Aussie Explorers, if you haven't got access to books about them can be found at the Australian Dictionary Of Biography Online. A few fun books about explorers are: Bass & Flinders, Burke &  Wills, The Australia Book, Australian Backyard Explorers

Icing Recipe:

185g butter, softened
2 1/4 c ground coconut sugar*
2 T cornflour/corn starch
2 T milk powder**
2 T milk

Mix butter in bowl until pale in color, add coconut sugar, cornflour, and milks. Mix until light and fluffy.

*We put our coconut sugar in the blender and turn it on until the stuff is powdery and pulverized. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to 5 or more. It will depend on how dry and "unclumped" your coconut sugar is. I add 2 tablespoons of cornflour to the icing sugar once it's in the bowl because icing sugar mixture had cornstarch in it, this also seems to help the icing hold up a bit better.

**When I made the above icing I was out of my cornflour! Instead of completely panicking I grabbed milk powder out of the cupboard and used an entire 1/4 cup for it. It worked! So, while I'd not normally use that much you could get by with it in a pinch. I generally just add 1-2 T to keep the icing mixture thick and spreadable, but you could easily omit it if you were using cornflour/starch.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Notebook

The boys aren't the only ones around here sporting new notebooks. I decked one up for myself to hold a variety of things that we use in our school time that don't fit in my planner and need to be "with us" instead of in the file box.

The paper on the front was from my scrapbooking stash, and the little tag on the front is a sticker from one of my all time favorite style of stickers. There are some really amazing stickers from this company that I have squirrelled away for various scrapbooking projects I never seem to have the time to attend to.

When not in use this nifty little notebook tucks into the back of my file box in the kitchen. Makes for easily snatching it when I need it. The only thing it's actually missing is a bit of blank school paper. I have a few pads of it laying around and I keep meaning to stick one in there, but truthfully I often jot notes down in my planner.

There's enough room to stash my planner inside too, but that's because my bigger spines still haven't shown up.. And yes, thanks for noticing, that is a three-ring binder! I'm pretty hardset on having three ring binders instead of two ring binders around here. Old habits die hard and all that stuff. Those plain Aussie animals are for Jayden to decorate for various art projects, and the animals behind it are part of our Animal Classification wall (pictures and more details coming soon!)

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough alphabet paper to cover the back so I used something with the same colors. That's not a blurry photo, the plastic pocket on the back of the notebook is all squiggled up for some odd reason. It still works properly, even if it looks funny in the photo!

I snapped a photo of the plastic pockets I mentioned before. See the rectangle of velcro, that's the side you can slip papers in and out of and it's prepunched so it fits neatly in your notebook. I really love these things. I can put them in the workboxes, my file box, or my notebook with no effort or fear that papers will get smooshed or lost! I really love it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Australia Day 2011

I've been around the world
A couple of times or maybe more
I've seen the sights, I've had delights
On every foreign shore
But when my mates all ask me
The place that I adore
I tell them right away
Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

You can see me in the kitchen
Cooking up a roast
Or Vegemite on toast
Just you and me, a cup of tea
And later on, we'll settle down
And go out on the porch
And watch the possums play

Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

There's a Safeways up the corner
And a Woolies down the street
And a brand new place they've opened up
Where they regulate the heat
But I'd trade them all tomorrow
For a little bush retreat
Where the kookaburras call

Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

Some people like their houses
With fences all around 
Others live in mansions
And some beneath the ground
But me I like the bush you know
With rabbits running round
And a pumpkin vine out the back
Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

I dare you to read it and not sing it.. betcha can't! From our house to yours, Happy Australia Day!! And, if you're in the neighborhood, we've got more Aussie delights then even a greedy little devil could run off with so stop in and enjoy some with us! 

Spelling Fun

I'm not a keen fan of spelling, really I'm not. I think the whole idea brings back nightmares from my final year in private school when my teacher would hand out 22-25 words per week and daily we had to write 3 sentences per word. Yeah, I still shutter when I think about it.

I will admit that spelling is a subject I've never really focused in on with the kids before, and I've never ever purchased a curriculum for it either. I still don't plan to purchase a curriculum for it, but it's time to start giving some informal spelling words out each week. We've settled on five for now. Words that are repeatedly spelled wrong in the work the kids do.

This isn't a new way of teaching spelling around here, not in the slightest. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned various ways we've enjoyed teaching spelling before. Things like playing tic-tac-toe for the child who can read and eventually spell the word correctly, Hangman, Bug-a-Loo, etc. In fact, we're in the process (it's taken us long enough!) of reviewing a computer based spelling game/programme which we're eager to share here in the next week or so.

For our first week back to school I picked words I knew the kids could easily handle and only added in two words I figured they'd struggle with (blue & away). I had them spot on too.  On Monday's we have a pre-test just so I can see which words the kids need to focus on and which ones they can all ready handle. Blue & away both fell into the trouble spot. All though I had one child who had all the letters for away correct, but in the wrong order, and one who did the same with blue. It was interesting to see how they reasoned it out.

While finding our rhythm last week we didn't spend as much time focusing on the two words that needed our attention, and thus when Thursday rolled around last week and I asked the kids how to spell blue I got some jumbled attempts. I smiled and said, "I have an idea." Then I promptly grabbed a blue marker and wrote BLUE on each child's arm. Jayden thought it quite funny, but Morgan was a tad insulted. Funnier yet? I kept asking them through out the day how to spell blue and I noticed some sneak peeks at their arms.

This week we went back to one of our tried and trusted ways of remembering how to spell our words. I pulled out bananagrams and tipped the letters onto the table. I call out a word and the kids scramble to find the letters. It's not a race against each other. I wait until they've found the letters and arranged them until they are content. Then I ask them if they want to check their word, and when they do I show them the word properly spelled.

We still didn't have this word spelled correctly, but at least both children had all the right letters pulled out for it. We're making progress. Interestingly enough, both of my kids can spell words when called on or during games like this, but when we play Scrabble or they write stories or letters it's like a foreign beast has been turned loose! Morgan's also big on loving hidden words or crossword puzzles which is a great way to work on spelling. Unfortunately, I don't have a nifty little program that makes these kinds of puzzles up, so generally it's not a technique we use.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

School Plans: Madeline

Morgan is still plucking along with The Pumpkin Runner and enjoying it fully. Jayden, however, will be doing a study based on the book Madeline. He really loves this silly little story even though it's about a little girl. It's a tough call as to which he likes more, that which she says to the lions, of the fact that she went to hospital; presumably in an ambulance.

All though, when Jayden had the chance to ride to hospital in the ambulance he broke down into absolute tears and great heaving sobs that caused the medic to instruct him to close his eyes and not look at the icky wound. Little did the poor unsuspecting medic know that wounds don't frighten Jayden, they do however make Morgan pass out on the spot. So much so that Morgan not only had his eyes closed, but tripped over the other medic who was coming into our home. All in a days work around here..

I don't honestly have a lot planned for this book other then the simplistic lessons listed in the Five In A Row Manual. This will be a short school week for us which may find us dragging a few extra bits of our current studies into next week.

It's traditional for our family to throw a fun Australia Day bash and have family over. This year is no exception and the boys have been dutifully ticking down the days towards this holidays arrival. The boys also tend to go to the films the day after Australia Day with their Nana & often times a cousin as well. That's also on the menu this week.

We will be using the free lapbook provided by Homeschool Share, but I also own the Hands Of A Child lapbook for Madeline so we'll be using bits from there as well. I honestly think this might be one of their earlier lapbooks because, while it's got a few things in it, it's not honestly up to typical HOAC standards. That might just be my opinion though!

There will also be more reading of books about Australian Historical figures around here. The boys enjoyed two delightful books last week. One about Flinders & Bass, & the other about Burke & Wills. Both of the boys were a bit disappointed at the outcomes of all four explorers, and honestly who can blame them? The book about Burke & Wills was just like reading Fortunately, Unfortunately. As for George Bass, the boys have their own ideas as to where he might have vanished too..

Personally, I think Jayden's idea that a giant whale gave him a ride to an island and he was stuck there but loved it so much he decided not to leave it was quite enchanting and more endearing then Morgan's idea that he was most likely picked up by a pirate ship and enslaved. Heavens they do use their imaginations don't they?

I actually had some really fun math plans for Jayden involving a really cool clock, but due to our shortened week I've decided to put that off until next week and continue some addition work and sneak in some fractions by helping him make some Australian Cookies in time for Australia Day!

Sand Flies

Have you ever had the misfortune to come face to face with a Saw Fly? These little blitters are nasty! The ones I tend to suffer with are usually Sand Flies and tend to hang out on the beach in the sandy areas. They are big, but not to be mistaken for horseflies which are even bigger, uglier, and meaner!

Now, it's a common fact that I despise flies and can't stand them in any shape or form, but show me a sand fly and I'll run screaming and crying up the beach. Literally. No joke.

Point in case? Last year we had an over abundance of sand flies on the beach. They'd lay in wait for me and the minute I popped my ipod in and was running up the beach (before the knee incident) they'd pop out and attack. Their shadows loom large and bold behind you and you can see them coming. They'd sit on my legs and then mid stride they'd use their saws to rip my leg open causing me to scream. Several times last summer I was spotted doing some funky karate style chopping while running head first into waves. Really. Other walkers who had the misfortune of witnessing this actually stopped to admire my idiocy, but never once asked if I needed help.

This summer our weather has been freaky and goes between being excessively wet (floods) and excessively cold (after the rain), so it took a while for the warm weather to come in. The only upside to the delay was the lack of miserable sand flies. Our first encounter happened the weekend we were away camping. I spotted one crawling up my leg and I screamed, freaking my poor in-laws out, and then proceeded to slap at it, stomp it, and then place a stone on top of it and further burry it in the sand. There was lots of wide eyed staring followed by great gobs of guffawing.

On the beach that weekend we were fighting a few off and, much to the delight of those present, I explained that when I normally see one on the beach I scream run in circles, karate chop and then dive into the water. There was a lot more laughter followed by some comments of, "That's awfully extreme isn't it?"

Sure, it's extreme if you're normally bitten by an insect of any kind, get a slight bump and a small itch for maybe a few minutes or 24 hours. But I don't. I get a massive welt that swells and swells for days on end. I itch so badly that I've been known to scratch myself raw. None of that, however can be compared with this:

This is the zone of two sand fly bites three weekends ago. What you can't see is not only is it bruised and ugly looking it's still slightly swollen and around the other side is a bit of bruising as well. It's ugly! It still gives me waves of itching that my allergy medicine isn't touching. So yeah, I think I'm pretty warranted in running screaming in complete fear! 

Because I know inquiring minds will want to know, yes I snapped that photo of the sand fly at the top of this post, just before it tried to bite me! While the boys were flying kites I was looking for bits of this: