Monday, November 29, 2010

Heading into December...

OK, so far my once a week post is not once a week.... :)

We had a great time at our co-op Charlie Brown Thanksgiving! We watched the movie and recreated the meal, which the kids loved. Then it was outside to run and play. The kids get along SO well together and really include everyone. Even though we are new-ish to the group, the kids all act like they have been friends forever. Its so nice. One other family is part of the chicken world too, so we were able to talk chickens for quite some time, lol.

Speaking of chickens...we seem to be out of the woods as far as chicken casualties are concerned. We thought we might lose our sweet little Buddy as well, but she has rallied and is laying the CUTEST little blue eggs every other day like clockwork. Our other girls are through their molt and laying again as well, so we are back to getting 4 or 5 eggs a day. Finny is now laying this gorgeous olive green egg, where before she molted they were more pastel green...interesting!

Our wild bird friends are here, as we have put out our feeders for the winter....we LOVE to watch all the birds that come. We also have an owl 'couple' that come nest in the yard during the winter and last night they were VERY vocal! Some nights they wake us up chattering to each other...the cats enjoy the birds as well, and will spend their days in the window seat watching the birds eat...I am sure plotting how they could get at them... :)

I am down to my last 2 jars of tomato sauce... note to self: plant MORE tomatoes next year! I knew we wouldn't get through the winter on our sauce, but it was great to have it as long as we did. All our fruits/preserves will get us through until spring, along with all the things I froze. I am learning how much I need to plant in order to have enough to eat AND save. I will definitely be expanding the gardens next year! I am hoping to put up a small greenhouse as well...I have been looking at some plans...I just need to talk to Hubby and see what he thinks would work for us.

On the school front...
We are starting our December poems, which will be When All the World is Full of Snow by NM Bodecker and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost(one of my ALL time favorites!) I usually do T'was the Night Before Christmas too, and I may, but that one they don't remember...or they didn't last year. This year they actually might be able to remember the whole thing!

For Art, we are coming in to the Patterns and Mosaics section. Very cool. I am thinking of having the kids do some mosaic picture frames for the pics we will give to family this year. It would be a fun craft to do plus it will tie in to what they will have learned. I am so impressed with JD's participation in the art 'program' as it really isn't his *thing* however, I really think it will help with his dexterity and writing skills...which are not the best.

For Nature Study and Science, we will be working on animal habitats and what affects them. This comes at a perfect time for us in real life as they just completed a logging project out behind our woods that has impacted the local animals that live there...which we have seen the results of. The kids have a real-life situation to compare to what they will be learning. We will hopefully have a chance to get out and do some animal tracking before it snows to see what animals live near us, and I am planning to have the kids create some sort of 'display' of the local habitat we share with the animals around us.

Our Nature table will be transformed for winter, and we will decorate it accordingly. We have been collecting acorns and pinecones for a winter project, and may use the extras for our winter 'scene'...and, unbeknownst to the kids, I wanted to take an old dollhouse we have that is rarely used and add it to our Nature Table and have that become part of our display. Except....we will need a bigger nature table, lol...

History will be Egypt and associated civilizations, as that seems to still be on the table as an interest for the kids. We are also reading Native American Short Stories by Joseph Bruchac, which are great stories about Native American life with a built in a NA version of Aesops Fables :)

I am also going to re-introduce some Spiritual pieces that have fallen by the wayside including some prayer/ceremony and meditation...I have some great kid's books on meditation for kids as young as 5 and well....I have at least 2 pretty intense kiddos who could certianly use it as a way to ground and get centered!

In household news...
I am bound and determined to get our last 2 rooms painted. I will hopefully pick up the paint this week and get 'er done. We usually have a holiday party in December and it would be nice to have it done by then. Can't say the curtains, and various other sewing projects will be done but if I could get the painting done...I also need to get the playroom/schoolroom floor done...seems the cats think it is an appropriate place to pee as they can smell the prior owner's cat smell....I need to get that floor sealed and painted as to eliminate that issue, thank you very much. Until then, the room has to be kept closed up, resulting in it being VERY cold in there! I think I can get it done :) Then its just curtians and a new couch cover and Phase One of our home remodel will be complete! Which isn't to say I won't STILL have eleventybillion projects left to do....

Well, that's the update from the mountain! (which has been making snow and now has 3 trails open! To say my kids are excited is an understatement...)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blogs mde of WIN!

In an effort to be a better poster, I am trying to post once a week at least :)

I thought I would start off by sharing some of the cool blogs I follow:

This gal posts the BEST crafts, amongst other things :)

I also love this blog I actually have a bunch of sweaters cut up into squares to make a patchwork wool blanket! Some great recipes here too :)

I simply enjoy everything this gal doesn't hurt that she has a bunch of cool chickens ;)

LOVE these gluten free recipes. O.M.G.

You MUST follow this blog! You can follow them on FB too...tons of free give-aways, coupons, etc. Fabulous!

Good things abound here! More freebies and give-aways, along with recipies and tips. A must!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Seems I am a slacker when it comes to updating on all things home and homeschooling!

Well, Home and Garden first :)
We have made it through a good chunk of our remodeling projects. The living room/dining room/kitchen are pretty much done sans some finishing touches, the deck has been completed, pantry done and front entry tiled. There are a few more painting projects to be tackled over the winter, and possibly a bathroom tile job if I can persuade the Hubby...I am thrilled to be this far along and hope to get the few other things done over the winter as there are ALWAYS outdoor projects to be done!

The garden has been almost tucked in for the winter, as I am trying a new layering/mulching method that comes highly recommended from a dear friend for next year. Supposedly it is very efficient and low maintenance...which sounds great to me! I had my first go 'round with canning this fall and though I won't make it through the winter without buying tomato sauce, I will at least get to Jan 1 :) I have enough greens, jams and preserves to choke a horse, as well as LOTS of fruit frozen to make pies and muffins with throughout the winter.

Our chickens are doing pretty well despite the fact we lost 3 this fall. It was a hard lesson, but good for the kids to experience...the circle of life...They have all been very acive in the care of ALL the animals, which they have done on their own.(with only occasional prodding) I am grateful and appreciative of their help, as normally I do it all, lol, but they have really been stepping up and helping out. Its good for them :) All the other animals have been getting along fine, even our one-foot-in-the-grave kitty...we have decided she has more than 9 lives for sure.

Homeschool Front:
We have been very consistantly been working every morning on our schooling. This seems to work best, leaving the afternoons for adventures, outings, or gettin' stuff done ;) Max has been MUCH more interested in school this year and we have actually used up all his 'practice' workbooks and are now dabbling in a bit of 1st grade work. Not too much, as I still want him to enjoy that 'kindergarten' age, but I also don't want to hold him back if he wants to go on. He loves math so we do practice adding and subtracting, basic phonics, letters and numbers...he has the same knack JD has for math so he often answers the older kids' math questions... ;)

Lilly is LOVING phonics. She loves to read and sound out new words, loves to write and draw. She is NOT loving math, lol, but is excited we have finally come to the 'money chapter' lol. The kids have been playing bank quite a bit lately in the course of their adventures. I am glad she will practice during play, as she really does not enjoy actual math 'work'. Sigh, I remember that...I was not a fan of math either. I try to find fun ways to learn it but secretly I totally understand- if you don't like math, you don't like math! I try to plan it for her to get her math done first so its over with and then she can enjoy the rest of her subjects. She LOVES word searches and crossword puzzles, and is very good at reciting poems!

JD. He is officially READING! We had been *warned* it could take years for him to master phonics because of the way he would need to learn it but earlier this fall something just clicked and he is doing SO well! Granted, he is not at grade level, but he is so determined to read and catch up. I am so proud of him! We do a good deal of his work orally as his dexterity is not the best so we save writing practice for practice and that way he is not falling behind in his learning due to taking so long to write. He is doing language arts, vocab and spelling and phonics adjusted, and doing quite well. He still loves math and is crazy good at some math but will hit a wall with other things. He has no trouble with multiplication and division of up to 2 numbers but when we get to 3 numbers x 3 numbers...the wheels come off! So odd! We are spending some extra time with that. He is also doing some geometry and algebra (concepts...its a really cool book that breaks down algebra into different concept activities...he LOVES it!) I am also encouraging him to draw more to help with his dexterity issues which seems to be helping...he doesn't love it but he will do it during our art time.

As a group, we work on science and nature, poetry and literature, art and history. I have this VERY cool new art book that gives 200 some odd different art concept/lessons that the kids really have been enjoying. (Hooked on Art by Jenean Romberg)We do a different concept each week, then add to it with the new lesson the following week. I will throw some art history in as well, as later in the book they make some refrences to famous artists which I will expand on.

I have been having the kids learn to recite different poems, though not the ones suggested by the CM curriculum, I still liked the idea so I found A Treasury of Poems for Today's Child which has poems broken up in chapters by season, holiday, animal, people, etc. Some I have seen before, some I haven't (well, most actually) The kids really have enjoyed this and though this is somewhat of a lost art, I love that they enjoy reciting poems. I am hoping to broaden this into them writing poems, etc. Though that is not a part of the CM curriculum until later, I could see at least Lilly taking a liking to that sooner.

For our literature piece, we will be doing fairy tales, most likely Grimm. The kids LOVED the Sisters Grom Series and I think they will get a kick out of the refrences and make the connections once we read some of the poems. I'd like to add in some Aesop's Fables as well, to lighten things up a bit ;) I am starting this after the holidays. For now, we have been reading books of their choosing, in addition to any we are reading for 'school'. We are still working on the Thorton Burgess series (currently on Danny Meadow Mouse). I was hoping to start the Little House on the Prarie series this fall, but they are SO hooked on the Thorton Burgess books we are on a mission to find and read them all. Little House will have to wait.

Initially we were reading about the evolution of man and society, but we have taken a temporary break as we usually read about/study the Pilgrims journey and various Native American tribes during November. We have done various readings on the Pilgrims, and also read about the Trail of Tears, Squanto, Chief Joseph, Pocahontas(the real person not the Disney character) as well as Sacagawea. We are going to learn about various tribes next which will take us through the end of November, and will end with some sort of creation depicting all that was learned on the Nature Table. We did this last year and the kids really loved it- they made cabins and teepees and set up a village for the pilgrims...I am excited to see what they will come up with this year.

Once we head back to evolution we will detour a bit again as ancient Egypt really caught their interest so we will probably spend some extra time on that, since we have that option :)

In Nature and Science we have been using these great textbooks(?) that give an overview of all things, well, science and nature! They are great at introducing topics which we can then go into firther...or not. The kids loved astronomy last year and we ended up spending A LOT of time on that and weather, this year it seems to be animal kingdoms and their various habitats. I ordered some great cdroms on biospheres, animal habitats and animal kingdoms a couple years ago (good sale...couldn't pass it up!) and we will be able to use them now...they have also been watching many of the documentaries on Netflix from National Geographics...Beavers is Max's current favorite. They have also been VERY fascinated with the show Verminators and Bizzar Foods...I can't watch them but I will say what I have *heard* is QUITE educational! The Bizzar Foods show is more than I can stomach but it is very cool in that the kids are learning what different types of foods people eat in other cultures, which is VASTLY different than what we eat. I will leave it at that. :)

Beyond that...lots of time spent outside, down by the 'swamp', and inventing various contraptions in the driveway. Lilly and Max played soccer this fall and LOVED it, Lilly is quite good and hopes to be on the travel team next year! JD(and Hubby) spent most of the fall biking with a group through a local bike shop, along with continuing to run (he is doing 2 races with me in the next 2 weeks!) Hanging with a new co-op this year that the kids seem to like as the kids are all around their ages, which is a HUGE bonus. Also met some new friends during soccer season including a family that lives right around the corner who homeschools as well, with 3 kids same ages as our family. They are huge hikers, and skiiers and we are very much looking forward to many afternoons of skiing this winter! (the kids skiing, the moms trying to keep up, lol)

OK, I *think* I am caught up...and hopefully I will stay that way! Maybe I will even get some pictures up. Well, let's not get carried away...