Friday, April 11, 2014

Photo Friday

I don't know when I first fell in love with flowers.

I have early memories of sitting barefoot in our yard, wiggling my toes between cool, green blades and gathering grubby bouquets of flowering weeds for any female relatives with the misfortune of being nearby.

Once they stopped sneezing and I gained fine motor skills, I spent hours weaving and tying stems of clover to make necklaces, bracelets, rings and tiaras. The grown-ups were spared and I instead decorated myself and little sister.

By the time I read The Secret Garden in second grade, I was hooked. I loved flowers and daydreamed incessantly - of many things - but especially of my own bit of earth and the wonderful treasures I would grow.

I wrote a series of stories about little fairies who lived in a garden world. And as my interests shifted to art, I drew and painted portraits of flowers.

As an adult, I've learned I'm a much better dreamer than I am gardener. I've never achieved anything remotely like the pages of my favorite Martha Stewart garden book, much less that of my imagined fairy world, but this time of year inspires me to break out the spade and try again.

Even the flowers at Whole Foods call my name. I'm as likely to splurge on a bouquet of tulips or a fragrant bunch of peonies (my favorite) as I am to buy ice cream or cookies. The added bonus: flowers are better for the waistline.

And it's been an easy move to combine my love affair with the new camera with this lifelong love of things that bloom. Once again, flower portraits reign.

Flower photos, after all, are much easier than those of boys.

Flowers can't stick out their tongue.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Say Oyster, I Say "Erster"

Last week, I found myself cruising the Severn River. The wind was in my hair, the sun on my face and in my hand a . . .

very slimy shell.

My big boy's sixth-grade science class took a field trip to the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The trip included a ride on the Harbor Queen to plant spat on a reef at the nearby oyster sanctuary.

Spat are baby oysters.

They are also proof that the phrase "baby anythings are cute" is not true.

There were more than a dozen spat on this shell. Gabe got to "plant" it on the reef (i.e. chuck it in the direction of a yellow buoy).

While on the boat, we also measured water quality and learned how oysters help filter the water of the Bay. We learned the oyster's place in the food chain and how oysters provide a habitat for other Bay critters like the blue crab.

It was a chilly, but beautiful trip.

We left from the Annapolis City Docks, but the boat dropped us off at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

The museum is located in an old oyster packing plant. It was an appropriate place to learn the role oysters play in the local economy. We got to talk to an active waterman and try our hand at tonging for oysters.

It was hard work.

Gabe decided oysters are cool, but he'd rather be a marine paleontologist.

I decided I'm grateful our school system puts such value on teaching kids about our environment.


To learn more about oysters, try visiting the following resources:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Maryland Day: Three Hundred and Eighty

March 25 marks the day 150 colonists set foot on St. Clement's Island and founded the colony of Maryland.

My ancestors weren't on those first two boats, but the family joke is they were on the next one out.

Happy 380th Birthday, Maryland!

Replica of the Dove
(this photo makes me think of the last scene from Goonies)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Featuring New Features!

Back when I was diligently blogging, I introduced a feature called "Sharing the Love."

Once a week, I'd post events and/or day trip suggestions for the coming weekend. That was hard to maintain and, in retrospect, not very helpful to you. Most of my posts were on Thursday and while I may plan the majority of our day trips the night before (or in the car that morning), I recognize most people prefer a little more time.

So, to resolve these issues, I created two new pages. They're two of the pretty links at the top of the green box on the right-hand side of this new design.

"Local Goings On" is a listing, by date, of various kid-friendly events within two or so hours of Annapolis. There's a few events there now, but I will continually add more as I come across them.

The other feature I'm adding is "Favorite Destinations," which will provide a three-thumb rating system and very brief description of the venues the boys and I visit going forward.

We'll see how these new features work out. Feel free to provide your thoughts!

Happy day tripping!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Photo Friday

Despite my recent complaints, I've enjoyed the snow we've received this winter.

My snow days were spent sledding, playing, and/or sitting in front of the fireplace watching a parade of juncos, titmice and woodpeckers outside our picture window.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Now that it's officially spring, I hope we get more of this:

And less of this:

Fingers and toes crossed. Pajamas worn right-side-out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Oh Say Can You See?

Never mind that a snow storm came through Sunday, dumping eight inches of snow in our backyard.

Saturday was beautiful.

We took full advantage and embarked on our first official day trip of 2014. Matt chose our destination - one that's become a family favorite - Fort McHenry.

As far as day trips go, this one almost has it all: cheap (kids under 15 are free, adults are $7); educational; has a dramatic, compelling story; provides lots of outdoor space for picnics or running around; has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore; and there's cannons. Lots of cannons (this being high up on the boys' list of features).

Neither boy tires of hearing about the Battle of Baltimore and the Star Spangled Banner. We watch the movie on every visit and they are completely engrossed.

They also enjoy making fun of me. I get something in my eye every time...

The exhibits are really well done. Lots of information, but presented with images, video, buttons and touchscreens.

Sometimes it takes a little teamwork to see it all.

Definitely our favorite part is visiting the fort itself: poking our heads into the barracks, exploring the guard house and walking between the cannons.

According to Matt, Fort McHenry is an HRA. That's "highly recommended adventure."

Which if you know Matt, you know that's high praise indeed.