Whale of a time

 

When our oldest was one, we began a tradition of taking my mom on a whale watch.  Every year we trek down to Provincetown for the first boat of the day.  There is an amazing Portuguese bakery where we get coffee and croissants and then we are off to visit the whales.

This was our sixth whale watch and each one has been completely different.  Of course the weather varies, but so do the whales.   When I was younger, the humpbacks had pretty much left the area and you were lucky to see a minke whale or maybe a fin back.  This year we saw minke whales on our way out of the harbor.  It wasn’t long until we were surrounded by humpbacks feeding.

The whales were bubble feeding, where they essentially work together, swimming in circles, blowing bubbles and basically trapping the fish.  Then they swim up the center, mouth open to eat the prey.  We had learned about bubble net feeding at the Mystic Aquarium on a family trip.  The kids were so excited to see it in person.  We were literally surrounded by bubble nets.  There were some whales swimming across the surface with their mouths open, drag feeding.  Often when you go on a whale watch, you see the large backs and of course the fluke (tail).  Rarely do you see the head so well.

The kids’ experience has been different every year.  In the beginning they just knew everyone was excited and they could see the whales but didn’t really understand.  Now they have read about whales, seen information in aquariums and local museums.  Our youngest, kept going inside to our stuff to circle the animals we were seeing in the guide they gave us.

It was also the first year that the boys were spotting whales themselves.  Having so many nearby helped, but they were getting good at spotting spouts and fins.  Even the youngest was pointing away.  Watching them put all of their resources together was really fun.  They knew lots of information and they were excited to share.  When they didn’t know something, they asked.  It was a great experience for all of us.

 

Let it grow….

Veggies from the patio garden

I have the opposite of a green thumb and yet I try to grow a garden every year.  Over the last few years, I have learned my limits and where to put my plants.  My yard is very shady, so I use a lot of planters on my deck (the sunniest spot on our property).  Each year the kids and I plant seeds and watch them grow.  Given my lack of a green thumb, this usually results in my buying seedlings when the weather is warm but the kids enjoy selecting seeds and watching them sprout.

It is fun to take the kids to the store and let them pick vegetables to grow in our garden.  You would be surprised at what they pick out.  I don’t sway them from picking vegetables that they don’t usually eat or limit them to foods that will grow better in New England.  Once the weather warms up, we plant the vegetables outside and the kids play an active role in watering the plants and picking our vegetables.  They are willing to try anything off the plant.  The cherry tomatoes rarely make it into the house.   It may not become their favorite food, but at least they try something new.  My youngest also picks herbs off the plants and eats them on the deck.  He can smell very minty at times 🙂

Involving the kids in the process makes for a great project and helps them learn about where food comes from and makes it more fun to eat their vegetables.  My older son’s school took this philosophy and created a garden at the school.  A group of volunteers and a lot of help from the community has led to a great garden.  The entire school planted seeds and the kids were able to go out and check the progress.  Each student was able to pick from the garden at the beginning of the season and again at the end.  They were even able to supply the school cafeteria with lettuce and vegetables for salads in the fall.  Being New England, the growing season isn’t very long but they certainly made the best of it.

It doesn’t take much to start a few plants.   Put soil in an old egg carton and then have the kids place one seed in each spot.  Continue to water and you will see sprouts quickly.  The squashes tend to have big sprouts so the kids really like to see them.  They will need to be transferred to bigger containers as they grow or they can go outside if you live in a warmer area.  Making it a family adventure helps to ease the work and more fun to share the bounty.  A fresh salad from the garden makes summer dinners that much more fun!

Here are a few links about starting a garden: