Why we walk <3

“March”ing for Babies

Happy March! March is the third month of the year & a special month for the Bug Family – three years since Bug’s birth. Speaking of 3’s, this year is our third time walking with March for Babies, in honor of our preemie. Will you help us in our cause? It would be a great way to mark Patrick’s birthday this week!
I’m so excited to continue the work that Team Patch started 2 years ago for March for Dimes: helping educate women about healthy pregnancies, conducting research for NICUs around the nation, and saving premature babies (like my son, Bug). Last year we raised $1681, thanks to our generous family and friends! We hope to do the same, or better, this year.
Would you like to help March of Dimes and join my team this year? We walk in Valley Forge on Saturday, April 26th. The Bug Family been honored with the title of Ambassador Family and will be giving a speech at the walk about Patrick’s preemie birth and why we support March of Dimes!
If you can’t join our team, would you like to make a donation instead?
Thanks for considering a charitable cause so near and dear to my heart!
Team Patch in 2013

Team Patch in 2013

Why we walk <3

Why we walk❤

(Click on image to see a larger version!)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

It’s been a long time since I posted last – we’ve been a bit busy – but I did get it together enough in time to make our Christmas card & newsletter to hand them out at Daddy Bug’s family’s Christmas Eve party & with presents on Christmas Day. I only just mailed them yesterday, but it’s a real improvement from last year!

(Click on image to see a larger version!)

(Click on image to see a larger version!)

(Click on image for a larger version!)

(Click on image for a larger version!)

I won’t do too much updating in this post, but read the newsletter & you’ll get the major highlights from 2013 & a few more recent updates as well.

The Teacher Mom

I suffer from double guilt during the school year – am I short changing my students when I spend time with my son at home instead of grading their labs? Do I short change my son when I’ve used up all my patience on my students before I pick him up from daycare? This blog post from Working Moms Against Guilt brought me a lot of comfort.🙂

(Yes, I’m ramping up for the start of the school year. I’m back to work in less than 3 weeks, eek!)

Pickling cucumbers growing across the ground. (Daddy Bug is testing out some fresh pickling recipes, wish I like pickles!)

Summer Garden

Daddy Bug has done a spectacular job of planning, planting and caring for our backyard garden. He’s using the square foot gardening method. Daddy Bug has assisted the bees and other pollinators by “painting” as many of the vegetable flowers for as many of the plants as he can. He just uses paint brushes to do this.

We are so excited to have our own little green space! We had a small garden in our apartment when we were first married but it was a mostly shaded area and had several nasty bushes that we weren’t allowed to take out. Only certain kinds of flowers would grow there, and we had a moss overgrowth as well. The back of our house faces south so we get full sunshine almost all day. Our sunroom faces the same direction, my favorite room in our house!

Our planting bed with Bug's sandbox section. It looks completely different as we filled each square with plants and mostly veggies. I'll post a follow up picture soon!

What our bed looked like when we first started it several months ago.

Our garden now!

Our garden now!

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Looking through the plants from under the deck.

Looking through the plants from under the deck.

Facing the back of the house.

Facing the back of the house.

Our prolific cucumber plants, taking over the deck!

Our prolific cucumber plants, taking over the deck!

We have at least 6 cucumbers attached to the vine right now.

We have at least 6 cucumbers attached to the vine right now.

Pickling cucumbers growing across the ground. (Daddy Bug is testing out some fresh pickling recipes, wish I like pickles!)

Pickling cucumbers growing across the ground. (Daddy Bug is testing out some fresh pickling recipes, wish I like pickles!)

Kung Pao peppers, very hot! This was our first plant to take off & it continues to produce a lot. We gave some to our neighbors who made a really tasty salsa with them. :)

Kung Pao peppers, very hot! This was our first plant to take off & it continues to produce a lot. We gave some to our neighbors who made a really tasty salsa with them.🙂

Cherry tomatoes, still not ripe (we have a typical tomato rot afflicting all of our tomato plants, so who knows what we'll get from them.)

Cherry tomatoes, still not ripe (we have a typical tomato rot afflicting all of our tomato plants, so who knows what we’ll get from them.)

Bell peppers.

Bell peppers.

Tomatillos. I was just informed that we have several ripened fruits, ready to be harvested later this evening!

Tomatillos. I was just informed that we have several ripened fruits, ready to be harvested later this evening!

San Marzano tomatoes. We were patiently waiting for the whole group to ripen but one was nibbled on by an animal and another was getting a soft spot, so we harvested the ripe guys today.

San Marzano tomatoes. We were patiently waiting for the whole group to ripen but one was nibbled on by an animal and another was getting a soft spot, so we harvested the ripe guys today.

Marigolds as a natural bug defense (doesn't work for all bugs, sadly).

Marigolds as a natural bug defense (doesn’t work for all bugs, sadly).

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Love these little cucumber vine tendrils. They're amazing structures & respond surprisingly quickly to touch! Ah, I miss my college botany class.

Love these little cucumber vine tendrils. They’re amazing structures & respond surprisingly quickly to touch! Ah, I miss my college botany class.

Beautiful too!

Beautiful too!

My favorite garden man <3

My favorite garden man❤

We have so many different varieties of spiders in our backyard, but Daddy Longlegs seem to be the most abundant species. Bug doesn't quite have the finesse yet to pick them up without ripping off their  legs, eep!

We have so many different varieties of spiders in our backyard, but Daddy Longlegs seem to be the most abundant species. Bug doesn’t quite have the finesse yet to pick them up without ripping off their legs, eep!

We discovered that something was munching the tomatillos in a big way, taking off tough branches.

We discovered that something was munching the tomatillos in a big way, taking off tough branches.

After a big search, Daddy Bug discovered this lovely caterpillar!

After a big search, Daddy Bug discovered this lovely caterpillar!

My thumb for size perspective. I have small fingers, btw! This is the largest naturally occurring bug I've ever seen.

My thumb for size perspective. I have small fingers, btw! This is the largest naturally occurring bug I’ve ever seen.

Check out his legs and mandibles, we could actually hear it munching!  We think they're hornworms (they have a stinger/spike type appendage on the end of their tail). We think it becomes the wax sphinx moth after metamorphosis. (Yes, Daddy Bug killed it. It was eating our tomatillos, after all!)

Check out his legs and mandibles, we could actually hear it munching! We think they’re hornworms (they have a stinger/spike type appendage on the end of their tail). We think it becomes the wax sphinx moth after metamorphosis. And yes, Daddy Bug killed it. It was eating our tomatillos, after all!

I forgot to take an up close picture of our zucchini plant, but so far no fruits and, unfortunately, it has blossom rot. We think it’s a calcium deficiency though and we’ve been treating it. Fingers crossed!

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School Things 2012-2013

Here are a few photos from this past school year! My goal is to take more of them for 2013-2014. I don’t know why I didn’t think to take more last year, but with my school district’s more relaxed digital device policy for students, I’m more comfortable taking out my iPhone to document fun labs. Note there aren’t any photos of the students (not their faces, anyhow). Must protect their online rights!

I hardly ever use overheads, but I came across this one in my curriculum materials. While using this the last time, Senior Stewart stopped in to teach science for a few minutes. So helpful!

I hardly ever use overheads, but I came across this one in my curriculum materials. While using this the last time, Senior Stewart, my Spanish teacher friend, stopped in to teach science for a few minutes. So helpful!

This was part of a salinity lab. The saltiest water (densest) sits on the bottom, less salty layer in the middle, freshwater on the top (no salt, least dense).

This was part of a salinity lab. The saltiest water (densest) sits on the bottom, less salty layer in the middle, freshwater on the top (no salt, least dense).

Up close. As long as you're careful not to splash/mix much, you can pour water of different salinities in a clear tank, creating these layers. I added the food coloring and table salt before putting them in the clear tank.

Up close. As long as you’re careful not to splash/mix much, you can pour water of different salinities in a clear tank, creating these layers. I added the food coloring and table salt before putting them in the clear tank.

On my lab table in the front of the room. I did this as a demo & let the students experiment.

On my lab table in the front of the room. I did this as a demo & let the students experiment.

Materials.

Materials.

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Mixing the salt & food coloring.

Student results! The lab group with the most layers won a prize.

Student results! The lab group with the most layers won a prize.

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Oreo Phases of the Moon lab, always a winner.

Oreo Phases of the Moon lab, always a winner.

More phases of the moon, this time from space. (I didn't draw the whole diagram, but demonstrated how we perceive moon phases from Earth. Students added the green line to their papers to help them "see" the phases from Earth's point of view.)

More phases of the moon, this time from space. (I didn’t draw the whole diagram, but demonstrated how we perceive moon phases from Earth. Students added the green line to their papers to help them “see” the phases from Earth’s point of view.)

A student note on the back of his end of year evaluation, so nice to have students who notice & care! (The kids  evaluate my teaching & the Earth Science curriculum at the end of the year. You have to have a tough skin not to take it personally but I usually get a few great constructive criticisms/suggestions. Worth it!)

A student note on the back of his end of year evaluation, so nice to have students who notice & care! (The kids evaluate my teaching & the Earth Science curriculum at the end of the year by answering 4 specific questions on the front of this paper. You have to have a tough skin not to take the meaner criticisms personally but I usually get a few great constructive criticisms/suggestions. Worth it!)

Playing with our neighbor friend, Max (3 years old).

June 2013

June marked the end of the school year and the beginning of finally having time to do things to our house! None of which are finished yet, so pictures and details about those projects will come in a future post. Bug started going to daycare on just Tuesdays and Thursdays, which freed up more time for those house projects. It also meant that he wouldn’t have a huge adjustment period in August, going from no daycare to daycare full time. Stubborn child! Not a huge fan of change, just like his mama.

A few things from this month:

  • We swam at the YMCA for the first time and loved it! Until we found out about Bug needing a swim vest to go in the big pools, both inside and out. Teaching a kid to swim in a vest is no fun. But he adorably calls it his “splash backpack” and is mostly good about putting it on. Just doesn’t love swimming in it…
  • The smell of wet bathing suits and sunblock drying outside on our deck made it feel like summer had officially started.
  • We started potty training Bug. He was very excited about it and was pretty familiar with the process as he was introduced to it previously at daycare. (Another positive about kids going to daycare!) It’s still a work in progress but he’s getting better. Our goal is to have him trained by his 3rd birthday, so as not to pressure him too much in the beginning. We’re following daycare’s foot steps and giving him one Skittle every time he uses his potty successfully.
  • Bug has embraced singing! He sings parts of a few popular songs from the radio and has even invented his own song about one of his favorite snacks, Goldfish. He likes singing some traditional kid songs like the Alphabet Song, Mr. Sun, The Wheels on the Bus, and Rain Rain Go Away.
  • I had a difficult time with a few nasty students on the last day of classes, but received an unexpected sweet note from a nice student and a visit from a newly graduated student who already has experienced success before leaving for college! It all evens out in the end. And hey, I survived a pretty challenging school year and still love my job, coworkers, and students.🙂
  • Daddy Bug organized and ran an in-service day for his music-teaching colleagues, but included all kinds of current and former students, musician friends, and professional musicians he knows. This also included me… I hadn’t played clarinet in at least 3 years so it was quite the experiment! I hadn’t lost the ability to read music and picked up playing without too much difficulty. (Thank you Mimi and Pappy for encouraging this skill in me, even at the expense of your own free time and sanity!!!) I hope I helped more than I harmed!?!
  • Bug learned to say “oh geez!” anytime (and every time!) I slam on the brakes in my car. It’s all my fault, I didn’t even realize I said that. He also says “tickle tickle!” and wiggles his fingers before he tries to tickle us. And “ef-fu-gee Mama” when I’m in his way (“excuse me”). One morning he said to me, “Color wif Mama? Mama pink!” (Will you color with me Mama? Use the pink crayon.)
  • Bug’s imaginative play has really taken off. His toy cars go on trips to Wawa, the grocery story (“go to the grosa-grosa-grosa?”), and Mimi and Pappy’s house. He also reenacts his favorite Thomas movie with his trains, repeating the lines and scenes from memory.
  • Bug started climbing stairs using just the railings, instead of crawling or holding our hands. Oh boy!
We went to the June Fete (a fundraiser for Abington Hospital) & Bug got to ride a merry-go-round for the first time!

We went to the June Fete (a fundraiser for Abington Hospital) & Bug got to ride a merry-go-round for the first time!

With Daddy Bug :)

With Daddy Bug🙂

With Pappy too!

With Pappy too! (I edited this & gave it to him for Father’s Day.)

Brett came to visit for an afternoon & let Bug wear his glasses.

Our friend Bret came to visit for an afternoon & let Bug wear his glasses.

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With Bret.

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Until now, Bug only put 2 or 3 Lego blocks together before throwing it or taking it apart. Amazing tower! I swear all his new developmental things have stemmed from his moving up to the 2-3 year old classroom.

Until now, Bug only put 2 or 3 Lego blocks together before throwing it or taking it apart. Amazing tower! I swear all his new developmental things have stemmed from his moving up to the 2-3 year old classroom.

With his new stool, almost tall enough to wash his hands unassisted.

With his new stool, almost tall enough to wash his hands unassisted.

Playing with our neighbor friend, Max (3 years old).

Playing with our neighbor friend, Max (3 years old).

Also with Max's brother Logan, 7 years old.

Also with Max’s brother Logan, 7 years old.

How the chalk ended up on Bug and not the sidewalk. ;)

How the chalk ended up on Bug and not the sidewalk.😉

Our amazing hydrangeas, left behind by the former owners.

Our amazing hydrangeas, left behind by the former owners.

Bug's new favorite playground equipment.

Bug’s new favorite playground equipment.

Eating lunch and swinging.

Eating lunch and swinging.

Bug finally got over his fear of climbing playground equipment and going down slides on his own!

We had a really bad thunderstorm with a lot of rain. Here is our flooding backyard.

We had a really bad thunderstorm with a lot of rain. Here’s our flooding backyard.

Father's Day things for Daddy Bug!

Father’s Day things for Daddy Bug!

Our HVAC system failed… we found a financial way to make it work and bought a new system. I forgot to do a before picture, but here is our much more functional & quiet system.

Our HVAC system failed… we found a financial way to make it work and bought a new system. I forgot to do a before picture, but here is our much more functional & quiet system.