Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Week in Gardening

Okay, so I'm using the term "gardening" loosely here. It's still cold and the ground is still frozen. Based on historical evidence, Spring will eventually make it's way onto the stage, while Winter throws one last fit before he exits.

That being said, there are a few garden-y things you can do to until we actually have warmer weather.

  • Plan your garden lay out
  • Look through seed catalogs, take seed inventory,  order seeds
  • Read about gardening.
  • Clean the leaves of your houseplants
  • Pre-sprout seed potatoes
  • Prune raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and fruit trees
  • Mow asparagus ferns
  • Start seeds indoors:  lettuce, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, and cabbage
I've given up starting seeds indoors. I must be doing something wrong because they never survive. I only direct sow now, which limits by growing season, but eliminates the temptation to curse.

A picture of what is to come...I can't wait!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Old Screech Owl

This backyard cutie is hard to ignore. He likes to frazzle the chickens and get them all worked up despite being half their size. But how can I hold a grudge against him? This is the second year we've been blessed with his presence living out his winter in this tree. I love watching him.

It was one of those peaceful afternoons in the wilderness when the whole forest dreams, and the shadows are asleep and every little leaflet takes a nap. Under the still tree-tops the dappled sunlight, motionless, soaked the sod; the forest-flies no longer whirled in circles, but sat sunning their wings on slender twig-tips. Robert W. Chambers from "In Search of the Unknown"

Monday, February 16, 2015

"The prairies had been his school..he had a natural refinement and delicacy of mind such as is rarely found...His manly face was a perfect mirror of uprightness, simplicity, and kindness of heart; he had, moreover, a keen perception of character and tact that would preserve him from flagrant error in any society." - Francis Parkman

Friday, February 13, 2015

8th Grade Planning

We are half way through our third year of home schooling. We've been using this curriculum.  We initially chose it because it was the same curriculum our son's school was using.  We thought the transition would be easiest for him if we kept the same program. It is a great option for someone that feels overwhelmed with the prospect of planning a curriculum on their own.  It's very organized and easy to follow.

There are some things about the program we don't like.  It doesn't leave a lot of room for creativity. There is a lot of seat work and limited hands on learning. My son has voiced his opinion about it and I am following my intuition.  We are breaking free.  We are going to complete this school year with the program, but are planning on creating our own curriculum next year.

Creating our own curriculum is VERY overwhelming, especially since my son will be in the 8th grade.  The 8th grade!

Some may think it's a bit premature to start planning for next year, but I'm a planner and I am detail oriented.  One can get lost in the sea of options out there.  I want to have plenty of time to research and think through what the school year will look like.

Stanley Schmidt, author of The Life of Fred, says it best:
"The world is not divided up into little water-tight compartments...
One teacher will say, “I teach chemical engineering.”
Another will say, “I teach German.”
Let us give five stars to the teacher that says, “I teach students.”
What a novel idea!—treating students as if they were humans, rather than
receptacles into which they can pour a single distilled subject."

And with this concept of cohesive learning, where all subjects melded together, the following is my plan.  (disclaimer: everything is subject to change)

We are going to use The Life of Fred for our math.  I love this program because it is fun, interesting, and engaging.  If your kid hates math, I highly recommend it.  It's math and so much more.
We will use Khan Academy as well.  I like the interactive website and videos for explaining all sorts of math concepts.

I plan on combining this with other subjects.  A report on deciduous trees can count for both English and Science.  I can pull words from other subjects to use for spelling and vocabulary.  We can use a paragraph from a history novel to diagram and identify parts of speech.

We are definitely going to incorporate a Nature Study in our studies. My son has specifically requested this.  I have some fun science projects in mind as well.  I plan for this to be mostly hands on learning.  Our bee keeping will also be included.

I'm still debating if we will use an actual curriculum or just free form learning. I was thinking of printing out an American history time line and filling it in with booksdocumentaries, and movies to correlate with each period.  I think the information will be easier to absorb and will also provide an opportunity to practice note taking.

I plan on note-booking as our documentation. Each subject will have a tab.  All worksheets, notes, reports, etc will be kept as well as any photographs of projects or details regarding field trips.

So, that's my plan to date.  I'm open to ideas and suggestions.

And for those concerned about socializing a home school-er so as not to have a feral child, my son takes karate twice a week, meets with a home school co-op for field trips and outings every Monday, and goes to Sunday school. He's pretty domesticated.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sweet and Spicy

I stumbled across this wonderful blog post.  The recipe peaked my interest and seemed like a perfect winter meal, so I decided I had to try it.

Did you know the easiest way to peel ginger root is by using a spoon? True story. It's the perfect tool to get into all the hard to reach areas. The outer layer of the ginger is easily removed this way.

The carrot,-ginger puree turned out okay - I think I might have used too much ginger. It was quite spicy, but very warming. I really wanted to try making the goat cheese drop biscuits that Tracie suggested, but decided to make roasted broccoli and homemade pizza so my child would have something to eat. I knew the soup would be too spicy for his liking.

My husband used some of the extra puree the following night as a sauce for these roasted beets topped with celery root.

Amazingly, I still had a bit it puree left over and wasn't sure what to do with it. I decided to add the rest to muffins. Even though the soup was savory and spicy, the muffins turned out great. With a sweet, carrot cake flavor. Even my son approved of them. I loved that this recipe served us for so many meals and added its own element to each dish. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


...Let the shadows cool the meadows,
And the night sounds whisper low,
In the stillness of the valleys
Where the waters lap and flow.
                      -Maud Russell

Whenever we go out, my son always brings a Lego guy or two.  He is an avid Lego lover - who isn't? He is really into taking pictures of them for his Instagram.  They do grow up so quickly!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Laundry Fairies and House Elves

When I worked closer to home, my husband worked full time and long hours.  I would pick our son up from school, drive home, do the laundry, load the dishwasher, etc. My husband never saw the laundry process happen, he just always had clean clothes.  He would always say, "the laundry fairy came today".

Since my office relocated and I have an 1.25 hr commute (one way), my husband only works two days a week and home schools our son.  The tables have turned. Now I come home and the bed is made, the laundry washed, dried, and piled on our bed (sometimes folded and put away), and general household chores are complete.  Now I get to say, "the house elves were active today" or if the house is a mess "the house elves must be on strike".

This is our 3rd year of home schooling. The third year of my husband being a stay at home dad. Sometimes changes like this can tear a family apart or add a lot of tension. For us, it was the best decision we ever made. We are closer than ever.

PS: I'm no longer a laundry fairy and I'm okay with that.