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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Bug Guide Is a Hit

Well, after a July 4 holiday, Camp Marshfield got back into full swing late this afternoon, when Sarah and her bug-hunting friends arrived in my back yard and began shouting excitedly over their latest finds.

"Oh, goody, I get to bring out the bug guide," I thought. Many thanks to the Rogers Park friends who have graciously sent along their copy of the National Audubon Society's field guide to North American insects and spiders. It's a great resource--the front section is all photos, grouped into types: caterpillars, beetles, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers/crickets/cicadas, flies and spiders, to name some but not all the categories.

"Hey, you guys, look what I got," I called out the back door.

"Maritza!" they all shrieked. "Look what we've got!"

So we traded: bugs for bug guide. Brady Bughunter Boy was the first to grab it, I believe, and he spotted some bugs he'd seen before right away. Sarah got it next and recognized quite a few bugs, many of which she'd found in Chez Maritza's back yard Even Sarah's four-year-old niece wanted to look at the bug pictures, at least for a little while.

Then a Brady Girl arrived, and we had to get the puzzle pieces out--that's what we call the box full of wood and cardboard items that look like puzzle pieces but work more like Legos or Tinkertoys--you use them to make things, not to put a puzzle together. But we keep calling them puzzle pieces because that's sort of what they look like.

So a couple of kids made things out of puzzle pieces and a couple of other kids went bug-hunting, and Sarah's niece took a look at this book I love called Not a Stick.

Then Sarah and Brady Bughunter wanted to grab the long green seed pods that hang down temptingly from the tree in the back yard. If they stand on my raised parking pad they can almost reach the lowest-hanging ones, but not quite. So I agreed to go in my house and get out my indoor ladder and let them climb up on it. They got seed pods, from which Brady Bughunter was going to make "pizza," but then he and Sarah got interested in the bugs and discarded bug exoskeletons to be found on the tree leaves. Even little Angel from next door wanted to climb the ladder and yank on some leaves. It was all quite exciting and Angel cried when I took the ladder back in the house.

Once that was done, it was time for another favorite activity. "Who wants a snack?" I asked. Everybody did, loudly and emphatically.

Fortunately Camp Marshfield stocked up on granola bars at Costco while picking up barbecue food--I was hoping the box of 96 two-packs would last the summer, but two new cousins of Jay-Z's dropped by and one of them was hungry. I think she ate five packs by herself. "Do you have any cookies?" she asked me before trying them.

"No," I said firmly. "What you see is what you get." (Although I must 'fess up I went to the Ashland Dominick's tonight and their cookies were on sale, including the maple creme ones I adore and never buy because I'd eat the whole bag by myself. This time I did buy the bag, plus a bag of chocolate chunk, because they're for Camp Marshfield, right? Yeah, right. "This is exactly the kind of thing Dad would have done," I thought in the grocery store aisle, laughed, and took them to the register. No, I haven't eaten any yet.)

In the midst of the feeding frenzy, Junior and his little brother showed up to do homework. Junior has a giant pack of math homework for Golder College Prep that is supposed to last him until August 14. Thank God Medicine Man has already worked on it with him twice, and gotten pretty far into it--I had to Google "how to divide mixed numbers" because I haven't done it for so long I forgot how.

At some point in all this, I did have a few quiet moments to talk with Sarah and one of the Brady Girls about how their Fourth of July was and so forth. Brady Girl is pretty far into her Magic Tree book now; her sister is finished the twister one but wants to re-read a chapter or take it to school or something. I gave her the one on rain forests, too. I asked if she wanted it and she shrugged like "maybe," but then she took it, so we'll see. If it rains she might read it.

Memory Girl came by and she read Not a Stick all by herself. I like this book because the words are very simple, the illustrations are gorgeous, and the theme is actually pretty deep. She liked the book so much she wanted to take it home. "What was your favorite way he used the stick?" I asked her.

"The sword," she said.

"Yeah, that was cool. I liked the leash on the dinosaur, too. Did you like that?"

She nodded yes.

Later on they were all using my sidewalk chalk out front and I was going to the store, so I took the book over and gave it to her to take home.

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