Summering in South Alabama

School is about to start.  Actually we homeschool year-round so our vacation just started…yesterday.  We relaxed.  I took a nap.

Schools here in Baldwin County start the 10th, I’m told. 

We’re taking the entire month of August off.  We’ll be driving to the beach with little to no traffic; we’ll be in museums with little crowds;  the stores won’t be as crowded and they’ll have their end of year sales that we can shop.

Most of all, we’ll finally get to see what this area is like.  We moved here Memorial Day weekend and after emptying boxes for 2 weeks settled back to school.  We’ve taken time out for tennis team practice, swimming on Wednesday’s with the homeschool club I joined, and meeting up with friends in the afternoons once math, Latin and reading assignments were complete.  Now we have all day to explore. 

I’m hoping to get to: 5 Rivers, Bon Secour, Gulf Shores, Ft Morgan, Orange Beach, the Battleship, Dauphin Island, Weeks Bay Estuary, Foley Outlets, the Mardi Gras museum, Ft Conde and other cool places.  I want to drive to Pensacola to check out the dinosaur/creation museum I’ve heard about.  We’ll collect seaweed for our marine tank; follow the Alabama birding trail; head over to FL and do some of the birding trail in that Panhandle; go letterboxing in Baldwin County (seems a great trail of clues and boxes would start in Daphne and end at Ft Morgan); go  fishing.  Of course, Wednesday’s we’ll still swim with the homeschool club and we’ll head to the Exploreum for a science class.  Next week we’ll vacation in New Orleans (Gary’s birthday wish).  We haven’t been there in years; definitely pre-Katrina. 

And, I’ll write about everything we’ve been doing so stay tuned.

Speakers of Sarasota speak up

Friday, March 27, was the final class for these students as they made their presentations before a large audience at Bethel Community Church in Sarasota.

The middle to high school students presented original speeches on interesting topics like the human eye, the history of Nintendo and a new product being introduced, the life stories of Walt Disney and Beethoven, “The Power of Words” and a little-known history of Hollywood.  Others interpreted the biblical account of Jonah, poems by Jack Prelutsky and Ogden Nash and a chapter from a story by William Steig. 

The elementary speakers, eight in all, gave original speeches on their favorite scripture verse or bible story.

These children, ages 6 to 18, were all so fantastic.  Their confidence and enjoyment in their topics rang out with each speaker.  They should all be pleased with their work.

My two boys have been a part of this class all year.  They have grown a lot in their research and writing skills (in order to put together speeches) but mostly in their confidence to speak in front of others; not just talk to a bunch of friends in a group, but actually put together thoughts and present them to people who are giving them their attention for the purpose of finding out information.  Most of us are afraid to speak in public; “will I be laughed at?, will I make a mistake?” etc. go through our heads for hours before we make our presentations.  The Speakers of Sarasota students have learned to critique their classmates with positive and then negative comments.  The negative comments, they’ve learned, are to come in the form of “what can you do better next time.”  For instance, one student would give a short presentation on a pet peeve.  When he is finished, the classmates will tell him what they liked: you sounded convincing, you talked loud enough for all to hear.  Then they would tell him things he could improve on: try not to sway back and forth next time you speak, don’t rustle your paper you are reading from, or memorize the speech next time so you can have better eye contact.  Wow!  Not one classmate said the topic was stupid or they disagreed with the speaker.  That’s such a positive way for people to learn how to confidently speak in public.  The older students worked similarly but with more experience than the younger students, they were able to help out their classmates in a higher level.   Both the elementary and middle to high school students learned to be encouraging to their peers.

The elementary students learned demonstration speeches in the form of presenting a science experiment to each other and their parents.  Each child picked an experiment using dry ice, practiced their demonstration (pretending to use dry ice) and then, on presentation day, actually did the experiment with the dry ice.  It was a lot of fun.  Three of the students (one being my child) entered the Learning and Families Science Fair with each of their dry ice experiments, demonstrating them before a room of about 75 people; parents and peers.

The older group was eligible for competition through NCFCA which took place in Tampa this year.  I don’t believe anyone competed but I do know some students went to observe.

Special kudos to their teachers: Mary Nicosia, Resa Stanley and Tricia Watts and the moms that helped Tricia coach the elementary students.  A similar class will be offered to the homeschool community next year here in Sarasota.  If you are interested please contact these teachers through the Learning and Families website: www.learningandfamilies.org.

Things to do on and around Siesta Key

Ever notice how once September arrives there is something to do every weekend? Summers in FL, I’ve noticed, are dull if you’re looking for festivals, parties, or special events. Then the weather starts getting perfect and the northern visitors start arriving and then the calendar gets double-full. I’ve noticed this with our school calendar. Of course, lots of things don’t happen during the summer…4-H, boy scouts, Audubon events (of course I still watch for birds). So now that September is here, and today the first day of fall, I thought I’d post some events for the next month. I’ll include the last weekend of September in the mix.
Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market
Downtown Association
every Saturday – rain or shine
7:00 Am – Noon
Lemon Avenue and Main Street
Sarasota
941-951-2656
Buy Fresh – Buy Local – a Sarasota tradition for over 28 years OLD RECORD NIGHT
Canvas Cafe Gallery
every Wednesday night
8 p.m-1 a.m.
1912 Adams Lane
Sarasota
941.957.0609
enjoy old records and new friends at the Canvas Cafe Gallery
Tai Chi on Siesta Beach
through – Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008
Every Monday
15 min. before sunset
Siesta Beach in Siesta Village
Siesta Key
A free half-hour practice of T’ai Chi Chih, easy-to-do movement exercise. No experience needed.

Second Saturday Family Program
Mote Marine Laboratory
Saturday, Jul. 12, 2008 – Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008
Second Saturday of each month year round
Mote’s Marine Education Resource Center, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy
Sarasota
941-388-4441, ext. 369
Mote’s Second Saturday Family Programs are intimate, hands-on experiences designed for children ages 6-12 and their favorite adult

20th Annual “St. Armands Art Festival”
St. Armands Association
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 – Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008
10 – 5 pm, Sunday Sidewalk Sale noon – 5 pm
St. Armands Circle, St. Armands Circle
Sarasota
941-388-1554
Art Festival with Live Entertainment plus Sidewalk Sale

Mote Island Quest: Talking Trash
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 – Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008
Three consecutive Saturdays
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy.
Sarasota
941-388-4441, ext. 229
Mote’s newest hands-on offering for kids ages 8-11

“Mingling not Mixing” with Anne Abgott
Art Center Sarasota
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Art Center Sarasota, 707 North Tamiami Trail
941-365-2032
Learn from one of the leading watercolor artists in our area. She was the president of the watercolor society in 2006.

Cocktails at the Cà d’Zan October 16th. There is a $5 cover charge, cash bar, and food vendors. Free parking at Florida State University Center for Performing Arts. No advance reservations required. Limited seating available. For more info:  

14th Annual Sarasota Craft Festival October 18th and 19th. This Annual Craft Festival takes place at Orange and Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

Pineapple Scare Haunted House
October 25th from 7pm – 11pm. Take the family to the Pineapple Scare Haunted House hosted by the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund on the corner of State and Pineapple Streets.
 

 

Trick or Treat in Siesta Village
October 31st from 3pm to 6pm
I’m sure there’s a lot more to do. But this is what I found. In addition to 4H, homeschool outings and the usual trip to the beach every Saturday and Sunday I know this family will be busy. How about you?

 

 

 

More on Tropical Storm Fay

When the boys were little we lived in Myrtle Beach.  We evacuated several times over the years for their safety.  One time, and cannot remember the name of the storm, we stayed.  We simply boarded the windows, put everything in the garage and hung out.   We had power the whole time as it was a minimal category one storm and all of our power lines were under ground.  We spread out sleeping bags, ate pizza, watched cartoons.  We fell asleep with flashlights on.  The boys had fun.

Now they’re older, and this storm is making them nervous.  The Sarasota County schools are closed tomorrow to be used as shelters and so the neighbor kids told them they will have the day off from school.  Then they told my boys that they might have to stay in a hotel “if things get bad” because they have a bearded dragon for a pet and can’t take it to the shelter.  So now, not only are my boys bummed that they still have school tomorrow (since I homeschool them) but they’re super worried that “things will get bad”.  Its no use watching the Weather Channel talk endlessly about where Fay might make landfall.  It looks big and menacing on the radar.  They’ll just have to learn to deal with storms.  After all, we spent four years in NW Mississippi, and a half year in TX and endured countless trips to the closet as tornadoes skirted by.  We even traced the path of a tornado in our town to see what kind of damage it caused.  While it left it’s impact on my boys, watching and waiting is proving tough for them.

So what has happened so far?  We had a few minutes of rain twice since noon today.  Oh, and the sunset (what we saw from our house) was beautiful.  The whole sky was a light cobalt and pinkish-orange reflecting on the high cirrus clouds scattered about.  Directly above the sunset the cloud was pure yellow.  Too bad it didn’t translate well on film.

Everything is stored and secure and we’ll just wait until Fay passes.  I can hear my wind chimes out back so the wind has picked up.  I can’t wait to go beach combing on Wednesday.  Maybe we’ll take that day off from school…just kidding.