Monday, April 24, 2017

Donuts for Dads and Baby Quail

Anthony took an afternoon off of work to attend a Donuts with Dad appreciation event at James' school. All the kids got to eat donuts with their dads and they even sang a song (which Anthony said he couldn't quite understand what they were singing :) They had a blast together!

Just a few days before, our quail eggs hatched! I was getting a little worried when I took them out of the turner and laid them out a few days before they were scheduled to hatch. Usually the eggs kind of shake a little bit when I put them down, as if the chick inside is trying to get situated. I love to see that because then I know that it is alive in there! When I laid the eggs out this time, I didn't see any of them move I started thinking maybe none of them would hatch.

Then a few nights later we woke up to these five guys running around in the incubator.

Another one hatching:

And another one hatching:

Once they got started, they all started popping out and we ended up with 31 chicks!

A few of them started trying to hatch out of the wrong side of the egg, so I knew it would need some help getting out. After I peeled away enough of the egg shell so it could push its way out, I let James hold it while it hatched the rest of the way. The video starts right after it hatched.

We have to check their bottoms twice a day to make sure they don't have dried poop blocking their vent, which can kill them pretty quickly if you don't catch it or prevent it. I can't keep track of who I've done, so I just take them out one at a time and when I finish one I put them in this tupperware container. Can you believe they are so tiny that 31 of them fit in here with room to spare?

James just loves, loves, loves the chicks. He holds them whenever he can, in the morning, in the evening, watching tv, getting ready for bed. He will cuddle them and kiss them and will constantly say things like, "Awwww! They are so cute!! I can't stand it! I wish they would stay this little for forever!" One time I told him that is how I feel about him and Rett, that I wish they would stay little and cute for forever. He said, "Well I have to grow up. But how about when I get big I will just stay home with you when I am not working at the firehouse?" I told him it sounds like a plan :)

We ordered a variety of colors of quail but ended up with 27 white quail and only 4 other color varieties. Weird!

James snuggling at night with the chick getting warm under his arm pit. He is a great mother hen!

James' School

We have been absolutely loving the charter school that James goes to! He is doing amazing at school, great behavior for the most part (probably about as good as a 6 year old boy is going to be) and even made the honor roll last grading period! Since the school is so small, it has a really wonderful small town community feeling. The teachers and the staff get to know all of the kids and the principal has worked really hard to cultivate a great learning environment for the kids and working environment for the teachers. The total enrollment for his school kindergarten through 8th grade is around 250 students and they aren't going to let it get any larger. There is already a waiting list for his school of over 200 kids in the district that want a spot! 

The school just went through an intense accreditation process (did you know elementary schools could be accredited?) and got accredited and certified as a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) school. Some of visitors that came to evaluated the school couldn't believe the level of what the kids are doing. They are coding robots (even James' class!), video conferencing with the international space station, they built gingerbread houses and then skyped with other countries who were also building gingerbread houses, taking computer coding as foreign language high school credit, and they even have a designated yoga classroom where all of the classes and grades take yoga just like they go to art and music. That's right, James has a yoga teacher!

The school also has an extensive vegetable garden that includes aquaponics where they are raising tilapia, and hydroponics. The students as part of their class work are assigned different days to go pick food from the garden for the cafeteria and then it gets added to that day's salad bar or veggie option. The garden to table program is so awesome, it even got featured on one of the local tv programs! I even had to sign a waiver for James the day the camera crews came to the school. So fun!

This is James at his classroom's garden area, checking out the broccoli. 

The aquaponics set up is in the back of the picture, the big blue container holds all the water and fish, which supplies the table right next to it with nutrient rich water for the lettuce to grow in. As soon as Anthony saw this, he immediately started wondering if he could build one for us :)

Another school wide project was for each classroom to build and engineer a miniature town. James was assigned the police station to do at home and then bring in. In class, the kids worked together to build the playground equipment and the park benches. His teacher told me she barely gave them instructions, just let them take the materials and watched them problem solve and plan how to build each thing.

James working on building a swing set:

Here is half of the town. James' police station is the third building from the top left. He wanted real bricks, so we cut squares out of modeling clay, built the building and then painted it blue.

One of their class science projects was to get seeds that have been on the space station and plant them next to regular seeds to compare if being in space affected the growth of the tomato plant.

This is just a cute picture his teacher sent me of James reading in the class library. He has memorized all of his kindergarten sight words for the year!

Dressing up as old men for the 100th day of school:

We are so glad that he gets to stay at this school all through 8th grade. Hopefully by then they will have a high school!

Our chicken coop

We decided to build our own chicken coop (or as Rett calls it the "chicken poop"), thinking it would save us money since we wanted such a big one. I'm not sure if it turned out to be less expensive after all the materials but it is definitely exactly how we wanted it!

The shape is called a "hoop house" that the chickens will stay in all the time. Sometimes chicken coops are just where the chickens live at night, but the predators are so determined in our area we didn't feel safe leaving them outside during the day without protection. The coop started out with three flimsy pvc pipe arches. I have to admit, it didn't make me very confident about how it would turn out.

It took Anthony weeks of working on it an hour here or an afternoon there, but it finally started to take shape.

The chicks were getting big fast, and they were definitely outgrowing the tub we had them in inside the house. We tried to take them outside when we could and let them explore and stretch their wings.

A friend of ours lives in a neighborhood that is building a lot of new houses and she texts us when there is good building materials in the dumpster :) We were able to get a lot of good plywood and cinder blocks for the coop. Anthony buried the cinder block all around the coop so animals can't tunnel under it to get in.

This is the trash pile after we filled the truck bed. You can't even tell we got anything!

Cinder blocks going in, door frame up, and back siding put on. We found some old siding leftover from our shed buried under some leaves, so we used it for the back side of the coop.

Front wire going on:

We really didn't want a repeat of what happened to our quail, so we decided to get a solar powered electric fence to put all the way around the coop. Once the new quail cage is finished, we can connect more wires to the existing electric fence and put it on there too. Anthony has been shocked by it a few times and says that it really stings! Rett likes to get spiderwebs with sticks all around the coop and within one week of it being up, touched the electric fence with his arm. He came running into the house crying saying that "the spider bite me!". I don't think he will do that again :)

The chicks survived their first night outside!

Anthony installed an automatic water dish that fills up as soon as it gets empty and made a big feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket and some pvc pipe. The next thing to do is build some nesting boxes and put some branches in there for them to roost on. They have been in it for a few weeks now, and they are loving it! Sometimes I leave the door open when I go in there and they don't even try to get to explore. Hopefully around August we will start collecting eggs from these ladies!

Friday, April 21, 2017

End of March

In all the years we have lived in Edgewater, we have never seen fireflies at night. A few months ago we saw one and then one night we came out and there were tons!! I tried to get a picture of them, but it just doesn't do it justice. It was really cool to just stand there and have a bunch of fireflies around you.

The sickness descended on our family!! Rett caught it first, he was lethargic and had a fever for almost a week. Then he ended up with a lingering cough and congestion for at least another week or so. James caught it next and missed a few days of school, then I got it. My mom came into town to watch Rett for us during the Pinewood Derby and after she went home, she got sick and ended up having the flu! This year hasn't been great for us with getting sick. Hopefully we will have a break from illness for a long time.

Rett had his first soccer game! It hasn't been the greatest season. He missed a lot of practices and at least one game in the beginning because of being sick. He also has been really distracted and hard to handle during practices and games. He wants to "race" the other kids, run around in circles, fall on the ground, basically anything but play soccer. It doesn't help that all of his games are at 6:45pm, which is past when we normally start getting ready for bed. On the game day we had soccer pictures, the game didn't start until 7:30! He kept running off the field wanted to lay down and at one point he ran off the field to ask me to scratch his back (like when we are going to sleep).

I was put in charge of our Stake Pinewood Derby and I put a lot of work into it this year. Our stake primary president was out of town, so even more of it fell on me to do. We asked my mom to watch Rett so that Anthony could come and be my right hand man. Together we pulled it off!

I custom ordered trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Having real trophies makes things so much more exciting for the cub scouts!

Then I made this participation prizes so that everyone would go home with something. They are yoohoo boxes with candy on it to make it a race car. Thanks for the idea pinterest :)

This year I decided to make a balloon arch as a part of the decorations. We got pvc pipe from Home Depot for two dollars to make the arch, put the ends of the arch in flag stands, and covered the flag stands with tires that were left in our yard by the previous owners. I spent the morning blowing up balloons and twisting them around the arch. Everyone loved it, and it I couldn't believe how cheap it was to make.

Our stake only has one derby track and it is pretty old. Maybe one day we can get a new one that will tell electronically which car won. We had two judges that sat at the end to say which car won, but surrounding them were parents (mostly dads) with their cell phones, videoing so that they could play it back slow mo just in case there was a close decision. Those parents weren't messing around!

James had a good time testing out the track with his derby car. This is his third car he was made with Anthony, so when he does an officially one in two years, it will be old news.

Trophy table:

Weigh-in and pit passes:

I made a parking garage out of black poster board and a gold paint pen, so that when they signed in and got a number, they would park their car in that number parking spot.

Look at that crowd!! I think everyone had a good time, but I was so relieved when it was all over.

It is going to be awhile before we start getting eggs from our chickens, so we decided to do quail again. It has been awhile since we used the incubator, so I bought a lot of eggs just in case only a few hatch. We put 53 eggs in there!

Fun in the bubble bath!

Rett's hair was always in his eyes and I couldn't take it anymore so I put his bangs up in a pony tail. James laughed and said now he looks like a girl, but I didn't have to constantly push his hair out of his eyes so it was worth it.

Anthony took James to the park to race his remote control jet ski on the water and they ended up finding a few painted rocks. It adds an extra level of excitement to go to the park when you get to search for rocks.