Sunday, May 18, 2008

Middle East Ambassador Stanley returns!

I think this is the Stanley that has ventured the farthest from home - and we're glad to see his safe return! His hosts were wonderful and welcoming, here's what they had to say:

Your FLAT STANLEY came all the way to my city, Manama, Bahrain.

While he was here, these are some of the exciting things he saw and did:
Stanley climbed Palm Trees, swam in the Persian Gulf, celebrated my sister's 5th Birthday. Stanley was here for the Prophet Mohammed's Birthday which is a Holy Day here and a National Holiday.
Flat Stanley attended several homeschool meetings, including "Young Authors Club". It's getting very hot here, so he wants to go home (110 degrees yesterday). We saw a herd of camels today but couldn't go close - some camels are mean! :(

The distance from Asheville, NC, USA to Manama, Bahrain is 7,208 miles!

If Flat Stanley should come back to visit, he should wear loose cotton clothes, because the climate here is very hot (desert).

Some other interesting facts about my city include:
This is an Islamic Country. There are also many Sri Lankans and Indians here who are workers. There is a bridg that connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia (about 30 m away)

Here's Stanley and his host having fun climbing a palm tree:

Here is Stanley with a Reem Al Khalifa who is a member of the royal family in Bahrain:

And here they are again with his host's Cricket Coach, who is from South Africa:

Host Family's house:

Some great postcards:

Tattoo Stanley has a BLAST in New Jersey & Florida!!

These photos to the left are Stanley being strapped onto a rocket ship and shot off! Then there they are looking for him in the forest ... Quite a ride!

I can't describe Owen's Tattoo Stanley's adventures any better than the host family did, so I'll just go straight to their letter!
Your Flat Stanley came all the way to my city, Ridgefield, New Jersey.
While he was here, these are some of the exciting things he saw and did:
We saw the Empire State Building from across teh river. We went to the Statue of Libery. He went to Knight class with me and to the library. He also took a ride on a rocket into space. Then we went to Florida on vacation. We went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Stanley laughed when my mom fell in the ocean. The next three days we went to Kennedy Space Center. Then we went to Sea World in Orlando. It was a busy week. We arrived home at 2:00 am on Thursday morning.
If Stanley should come back to visit, he should wear a jacket or sweater, because the climate here is starting to warm after a cold winter.
Some other interesting facts about my city include:
We are about 10 minutes from New York City. Ridgefield was incorporated as a borough May 26, 1892. In 2000, the population was 10,830 even though the town only covers 2-6 square miles. According to our librarian, we have the only homeschooled child in town

This family took Stanley on wonderful adventures and sent him home with so many photos and postcards. Thank you SO much Ridgefield family!!

A few of the postcards:

View of Empire State Building and NYC :

Sea World:

Kennedy Space Center:

Bat Stanley went to Disney World!

I apologize to all who've been waiting for a Stanley update - they've been home getting some R&R from all their travels and are now ready to share their adventures :)

Clay was thrilled to welcome his Bat Stanley home from all his travels! He visited with a family in Madison, NJ, who then took him with them to Disney World in Orlando, Florida! Cool! He returned home with great photos from Disney as well as Epcot Center. He also brought back great souveniers of pirate coins and stickers which he generously shared with everyone.

Here's what his host family had to say:
"Your flat Stanley came all the way to my city, Madison, NJ USA.
While he was here, these are some of the exciting things he saw and did:
Flat Stanley came to Madison where he really just hung out on the couch waiting to go to Florida. Flat Stanley flew on a plane on April 1sat. When in Florida, he enjoyed a trip to Disney world. He met Winnie the Pooh, an dthe Tigger. He mostly enjoyed Epcot and went there twice.
The distance from Asheville to Madison is 671 mi, and from madison to St. Cloud, FL is 1,110 mi, and from Asheville to St. Cloud is 610 mi.
If Flat Stanley should come back to visit, in Madison it is cold, not freezing, but in Florida it was hot. So one of his young hostesses recommends that he should wear shorts in Florida.
Some other interesting facts about my city include: (facts about St. Cloud, FL) there is a haunted hotel downtown. It is where my grandparents live and is about 40 min. to Disney World. Central Florida is the lightening capital of the world.

We would all like to thank our Madison friends for welcoming Stanley, even though he was lazy on the couch for a while. He really enjoyed his trip and was glad to have brave travelling companions to protect him near haunted hotels and all that lightening!! Thanks guys!

Here's Bat Stanley with his hosts meeting some fave characters at a restaurant called The Crystal Palace:

And here's Stanley living it up at Epcot Center! He got to go to a Marakesh restaurant, and meet a Scottish rock band:

Grove Stone Quarry

We took a field trip this week to the Grove Stone Quarry in Swannanoa, NC (just down the road). We were there for a creek exploration. One of the teachers helped the kids identify bugs found in the creek, and then helped them run a net through the stream, sort out what they found and then analyze what that told us about the stream. We learned that by finding out what creatures live in a stream, you can tell how clean or polluted it is. This stream was wonderfully clean, as there was only forest up to the source. They found salamanders, crayfish, stone flies, mayflies, and more!

One of the teachers also took kids on nature hikes and helped them identify trees while discussing with them tree health. We learned why hemlocks are in so much trouble, what it means when a tree starts shooting out branches near the ground, and even what plants a bear uses as a laxative after hibernation!

We also enjoyed spying all the cicadas that have just hatched ... they're EVEYRWHERE! These are the 17 year cicadas, their little eggs have actually been in the ground for 17 years (the year of the last massive cicada invasion in WNC!). Pretty cool :)


FLast weekend we came back from a wonderful weekend of camping at LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) right down the road in Black Mountain, NC. It was meant to be a nice escape from my life for a minute, didn't exactly turn out that way, but we had a blast anyhow! I couldn't even guess the numbers of campers that come to this. The boys and I camped with about 8 other families, all good friends, either homeschoolers of folks who used to homeschool - so TONS of kids for the boys to play with. In fact, it was hard to get them to leave the campsite and actually enjoy the festivities, they were so busy playing.

We saw our favorite, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - kids hip-hop. He played several times. I re-learned to contra dance and did a Nia class. We saw some late-night reggae and spent alot of time at the beach of the lake. Reed learned some Aztec dancing and of course busted out some break-dance moves at 23 Skidoo's show. The boys spent LOTS of time at Kids Village - there's a stage there, also random activities (see photos of shaving cream play below), moon sand, crafts, face painting, a kids' talent stage (for tips) and a kids market. Reed has decided that next year he wants to sell some home-made wares at the market - he was very inspired by our friend Isobell who made a couple hundred dollars selling her rubberband yo-yo's!

Clay playing in shaving cream:

And Reed:


Cool photo Reed took at Kids' Village:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Inch by Inch Row by Row, I'm gonna make this garden grow!

I now live on an urban 1/2 acre - partially wooded. The woods are nearly taken over with poison ivy, so that will be a project in itself for the next few years. In the long term, I'd like to be very sustainable with food growing - probably not grains, though maybe some. Mostly fruits and veggies. I'd like to slowly convert the woods to an urban orchard. I'd also like to get khaki campbell ducks for their eggs, pest control and general loveliness.

But that's getting ahead of myself... I've been researching the Square Foot Gardening method - while I don't think it will save the world (as the book not-so-modestly implies), I do think it is an effective way to garden in a small space. On the north side of the gardens are trellises made from electric conduit piping that all vining plants will grow on (pumpkins, tomatoes, peas, melons, cukes). I am proud to say that I made all of this stuff - lil' old me :D Girl power! I also constructed (with the help of some friends) a bamboo tee-pee in the back, that we planted runner beans at the base of. Hopefully by mid-Summer, it should be completely covered with bean vines!

I waited all Winter for Spring to show me what hidden treasures lay underground, waiting to come up, in this new yard. Unfortunately, the answer was only poison ivy. So, a new mission is to get some nice perinneals in here as well as functional veggies and such.

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