Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some other stuff

Some things from this week I have just remembered

Thought of some other things to share with you.

~ In the mail today received my final paperwork from NCDNPE. We are legal now. Took them less than a week, pretty good.

~ the other day when it was time for quiet reading time Mary had the audacity to tell me that "there is nothing to read in this house!" Yeah, right.

~ In trying to get into Mary's head recently I asked her if she could go to any school, what would it be like. She told me that they would have uniforms and a fence all the way around it. A little while later while flipping through a magazine there was an advertisement for a military academy and she pointed to it and said that was what she was talking about. I've decided that I shouldn't try to get into her head anymore.

~ I have found the quote for our homeschool. I can't believe I haven't come across this in other places.

non scholoe, sed vitoe discimus

"We should learn, not for the sake of school, but for the purposes of life"

It is attributed to Seneca.

I think I need to have a few t-shirts printed up this year for us. On the front have "Circle of Learning Academy" and on the back have the quote in latin. Then teach the girls to recite the translation when asked. Wouldn't that be fun. What should our school colors be????



Where has the week gone?

Well, trying to stick to the schedule and be a 'good' role model for the children (I'm trying) has limited my computer time. I think I have signed on everyday this week only to get called away and then come back to find someone else has claimed the computer. I think it may be a conspiracy.

We have already tested out how the 'schedule' will work when life is happening. So far, so good. I have to give many, many kudos to Librivox. Although the disclaimer at the beginning of each and every chapter is a little distracting, the fact is I love being able to have audio recordings of several of our books (both pleasure read and school work). The best part is that Mary and Katie have yet to figure out that those car rides are actually part of their school day.

My favorite part of the new schedule, although I can't say the same for the girls, is the quiet reading time after the two littles go down for their naps. I am making myself read right along with them - no doing other chores or making phone calls during this time. It is quiet and peaceful with us each curled up in our favorite position. Unfortunately, the girls are going to have to get used to it. Everyday I have had to answer the same questions - "no, computer time is not reading time," "No, you may not color," etc. And, the same complaints. But, I figure they will come to enjoy the down time at some level before too much longer.

The actual lessons are not drawing too many complaints. Which does reassure me that we may have hit our target this year. I don't foresee much tweaking with our curriculum at this point. I do think I need to figure out a grading plan though. Mary wants more feedback on her work - the happy faces and stickers just are not cutting it for my BIG 7 yr old. But deciding what value grades will actually have, and mean to her is where I am stumbling. A's, B's, C's just don't have the intinsic value to her that they had to me, a product of the public schools.

And, the one thing Mary has asked to add for this year is typing. I've been looking and I think I may go with The Read Write Type program. The price is a little steep, but it can be used with all the children. It has a phonics/spelling component that for Mary we really need. I've got to sneak those subjects in wherever I can. I could start two kids out on it this year. Most other typing programs are for older children, or have strong literacy skills already. I have not had to buy much in the way of materials this year, so it may be a good purchase.

It has been a good week for reading. One of the things I am loving about our approach this year. More books, more read alouds...shorter lessons overall. We get up in the morning and read, after we have lunch we read and before we go to bed we read. So, what do we have on the shelf?


If Not For The Cat; Jack Prelutsky (book of animal haiku)
The Iliad; retold by Ian Strachan
We're Riding on a Caravan: An Adventure on the Silk Road; Laurie Krebs
One Sun Rises: An African Wildlife Counting Book; Wendy Hartmann
1,2,3 To the Zoo; Eric Carle
The Nonsense Poems of Edward Lear; Illus Leslie Brooke
Better Homes and Gardens Story Book (circa 1950)
The Little Red Hen; Helen Dean Fish
Months of the Year; Christina G. Rosetti
Over In the Meadow; Olive A. Wadsworth
The Nonsense ABC; Edward Lear
Aesop's Fables
The Tortoise and the Ducks
Belling the Cat
JollyMon; Jimmy Buffett
The Prince and the Pauper; Mark Twain

Listening to:

An Island Story; HE Marshall
Anne of Green Gables; LM Montgomery
Rhapsody in Blue; George Gershwin (our composer for the Month)
Wee Sing and Pretend
Various Jimmy Buffet tunes

I'm Reading:

The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941; Robert S. McElvaine
Easy Homeschooling Techniques; Lorraine Curry
Rise and Shine; Anna Quindlen

It has been a good week. Tomorrow DH is off work and I am guessing, hoping that he will do something with the girls. Especially since he is traveling the rest of the long weekend. So, we will not have school. Gives me a chance to breath and get things ready for next week and the beginning of more outside activities (piano and gymnastics).



Monday, August 27, 2007

A Full Day

Today was finally the day we actually ran through the WHOLE Schedule...
and I did it on 4 hours of sleep.
Mary was the schedule-nazi all day, making sure we stuck to it. Everybody got up, pleasantly.
The first wrench in our day was when Katie took off on her bicycle for home during our walk. We were on our way home anyway, but too far away for me to comfortably let her go. She didn't listen to me, so has lost bike privileges for the week. After that we moved right on into the lessons. Mary wanted to complete her copywork first. She is working on copying Ecclesiastes Chp3, v1-8 (A Time for Everything). Katie is working on writing her numbers, one of her weaker spots.

I am loving age 7, although she did comment that 2nd grade has way too much writing. This picture would never had existed 6 months ago. The change has been remarkable. Tonight she asked me to wake her 30 minutes earlier so that she can start her schoolwork earlier in the morning.
Here is a picture of the younger set during one of their 'good moments.' Some struggle getting them back on track today. Emily really missed her Dora/Diego and Little Einsteins time. But, the tv is off until after 2:30 pm. Today, once they got used to it being off, no one even bothered asking if they could watch tv until after 4, and then only because some friends came over and reminded them that Pokemon was on. Robbie has just gotten to the point that he is so interested in EVERYTHING, that we are having some struggles keeping him occupied and out of the bigger girls' hair, sometimes literally (he loves Mary's red hair).

Although, it felt like we were falling behind at some points, we did manage to get everything done by 2:30pm. We started at 9 with a walk around the neighborhood - enjoying the quietness and cooler temps. Came home and worked until 10:30, took a 20 minute break and then back to work until 12. Had lunch, did a read aloud/coloring time and then Emily went down for her nap and everyone had a 30 minute quiet read period (pick a book, any book and stare at it for 30 minutes). We finished up by completing the Chemistry lab we had left from a couple weeks ago when we ended up visiting family at the end of the week. Mary and Katie decided that they wanted to play a Sim game on the computer for their free time.

At 4:00 my friend's kids came over for me to watch, and then shortly after that the nighborhood kids came over. We ended up feeding 7 children tonight. It was loud and crazy...but good. After we got rid of the extra kids, we had a little family night. DH and Mary walked the hyper-dog (Ginger), while I put the little ones to bed and set up to play a quick game of Candyland with Katie.

I've spent the rest of the evening planning and pulling together the materials we need for tomorrow. And, now it is getting late and my energy is slipping away.



Sunday, August 26, 2007

And we can resume our regularly scheduled program

Public school begins tomorrow!!! Finally that wonderful daily schedule I made back in July can be used for something more than a wall decoration.



Friday, August 24, 2007

Our own private cove

Last night I made the decision to go back to Lake Jordan Educational Forest. The plan was to not hike but to just hang out at the pond that is just off the parking lot. Of course we changed our minds once we got there. We decided to hike the closest trail and just see if it came out at the edge of the lake.

I'm so glad we did, because this is what we found:

All to ourselves. Peaceful and quiet - well, except for my kids.

We staked our territory and laid down the blanket. Even Robbie was happy with the choice
We waded and played in the mud, our at least some of us did.

Others jumped off the 'cliffs'
And still others enjoyed feeling the breeze off the water
We played guess that animal print?
Don't ask me I'm still not sure...I think it is a dog. But my girls liked thinking that it was a raccoon hunting for muscles.

Mary and Katie thought these stumps were sculptures.
They did have a beautiful shape.

And speaking of freshwater muscles, the girls found a few of these themselves

Do you see the size of that one - and it was alive.
Katie found another one.....

After exploring we came back to the blanket and let Robbie do his own exploring. I had brought sketch pads and pencils, watercolor paints and so forth. But apparently not enough blankets because everyone thought they should have their own. We snacked, we drew, we painted.

Then the girls headed off on their own again. While I watched from the blanket with Robbie. After 2 1/2 hours I called it a day. Robbie was tired, heck I was tired.

With promises of refilled water bottles and an air conditioned car we headed back up the trail.

Some were a little more tired than others.

We've all agreed that it was a GREAT field trip. And one that we want to repeat, just maybe once it is a little cooler. We were thinking of actually taking DH back down their one of these days he is off in the next few weeks.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oh, Where to go?

Tomorrow's Friday and we just can't sit around the house. We did way too much of that this week. I'm thinking that since it is *only* supposed to be 95 tomorrow that we should go out on a nature exploration, yet something relaxed and low key. A 'spread the blanket' type of thing. Only I'm trying to think about where that should be...if we go anywhere that has a playground we are going to get stuck on that. Some place with trails means hiking and not many places to spread a blanket and chill. Can you tell I'm feeling a little lazy. Two places are jumping out at me; the local pond across the highway from us and a small pond at the educational forest at Lake Jordan. The first is always crowded with people and had geese. The other is quiet and low-key but has trails and I can see myself getting sucked into a hike. We will just have to see how I feel in the morning.

On another note, I've figured out the secret to making it rain in this heat parched land. Build a solar cooker. Since we put in the finishing touches it has either rained or been cloudy- up until the sun finally came out late this afternoon. We have yet to be able to test it. I'm not complaining, I now have four buckets of water ready for the garden this weekend when it hits triple digits again.

School today went quite well. Mary, with no prodding from me, was able to tell her friends right off that she had school to do before she could play. And, then, hung around the house doing other self-selected workbook pages and studying the crystals she is growing this week. She didn't even go to play with friends until after 3pm. Honestly, I was kind of floored.

This evening she went with a friend to the local school as her friend was finally finding out who her teacher was going to be this year. I asked Mary what she thought of the school when she got home (she has never been inside a public school) and if she thought she would like to spend 6 hours a day there. She wrinkled her nose at me and shook her head. Mary was not impressed, which left me wiping my brow. I was worried she would come home and be all excited about wanting to go to school.

Things are good here. Monday, the public schools start, so we will have much more time to settle into our school-year routine as opposed to our summer routine. I am really psyched about how well our summer school has gone and really think this new approach is going to work for us.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Day in My Life

6:20AM - I wake up with a start. Not because of the baby crying or some other noise. But because I suddenly sensed that I had forgotten to do something very important. I made a mental checklist and realized that yes I had not done several important things, nothing life-threatening. I lay there for 15 more minutes trying to will myself to doze off a little while longer. But, then I noticed that the alarm clock was not going off. Darn it, forgot to reset it last night after the storm.

6:35AM- get out of bed and decide to enjoy the quiet morning time. Go outside and sit on the deck and enjoy the early morning twittering of the birds. Send up a few prayers and meditate upon the coming day.

7:00AM- wake up DH since the alarm clock isn't going to do it. Go and begin my morning surf on the computer of my various boards. Nothing super interesting.

7:20AM- Robbie wakes up, this morning with a wonderful present. A blowout all over his mattress.

7:25AM- Kiss DH goodbye while trying to finish cleaning Robbie and his bed.

7:35AM-settle on the sofa to give Robbie his bottle and watch the morning news.

8:15AM- Emily wakes up, kind of. She curls back up on 'her' chair and wants her juice and to watch The Little Einsteins. I let her slowly wake up while I beginning fixing breakfast for Robbie - 'O' Cereal and peach yogurt.

8:45AM - Katie wakes up, or better yet moves from her bed to her chair to wake up. Emily is now ready for her breakfast - waffles.

9:05AM- I wake up Mary. She has to get up and dress to head over to a friend's house for the day.

9:20AM-begin trying to get everyone to dress and brush their hair.

9:55AM- finally out the door and in the van

10:05AM- drop Mary off and head to Walmart for some shopping.

10:20AM-Shopping at Walmart - only needed to buy Robbie's formula, and well, the two slinkies I promised Mary & Katie, and then Emily needs something. Ooo - look at those neat little workbooks for Katie and Emily. Oh yeah, I want to get a popcorn popper so we stop using microwave popcorn. Need some popcorn too, and look Apple Juice on sale. That sure was expensive formula.

11:15AM- Home from shopping! Robbie is ready for his morning nap and I am too. Instead I settle him down and put water on for to make some ice tea for the afternoon. I check emails and find very few exciting things. Make a list of the things I need to do for the rest of the day - which reminds me I have bills to pay. While I am doing all this, the girls are trying to figure out how twisted and 'knotted' they can make Katie's new slinky. I'm sure glad I spent that dollar.

12:30PM- I've written out all the bills and fixed lunch for everyone. Announced quiet time, which generally means that Emily and Katie are walking across the backs of the furniture and screaming as they jump down. I ask what will keep them quiet for 30 minutes so I can make some phone calls - they want a movie and pick ANTZ. I'm glad I taught Katie how to use the VCR, so I leave her in charge while I come into the computer room.

1:30PM- Making phone calls and filling out registration forms. I called and paid the last installment for our vacation house in September!!!! Yeah, we really are going and so far have not had to use any credit to do it!! I also called to see if Mary's piano class has a day/time yet so I can register her and schedule it - Not yet, they will call me. Called to see if a theater class for Katie was already filled - of course, because I am not a resident I will never be able to get Katie into the theater class. The woman offers me a one day, mom & tot class instead - Yeah, umm not exactly what I am looking for, for my FIVE yr old. Online register both Mary and Katie for a couple one day wildlife classes this fall. Will not find out for a couple of days whether or not they got in as they are free and very, very popular. So basically one thing was actually checked off and done.

2:15pm- Robbie woke up as I was finishing my stuff. Fed him a late lunch and tried to convince Emily that she really wanted to take a nap. Didn't have much luck there. Pulled out crayons and coloring books. Emily decided that the stickers looked like more fun so she covered herself and the parts of Robbie she could reach with stickers. Katie disappeared into her room for some quiet time.

2:45PM- Mary's friend brings her back to the house. She had a great time catching up with her old friend. She sees the new popcorn popper and wants a snack. I read the directions as she 'makes' the popcorn. Decide my children are seriously deprived as they are so excited to watch popcorn actually pop and fly out of the popper. Some day I may blow their minds and try to make it on the stove. Mary picks out a movie to watch while I go out into Hades the yard with Emily.

3:45PM- My friend shows up to watch the kids while I go to my appointment.

5:20PM- Back home just in time to call and find out that yes we do have soccer practice this evening. Race around to collect all of Mary's soccer stuff that has migrated over the summer. Can't find her light-weight hose, so she has to go with the heavy winter weight. Between that and the cleats that are too small because we haven't had a chance to go shoe shopping yet, Mary finds enough to complain about. I pinky-promise that she will have larger cleats by next week if she will just put those on NOW. I still have to redress Emily and change Robbie after his late afternoon snooze. Throw four frozen water bottles into the bag, hope they melt in the heat fast enough. We are out the door at 5:50.

6:00PM- Soccer Practice. The first full one I have attended since Spring of 05. Katie and Emily are now old enough to play with all the other younger sibs and Robbie is actually content to stay on the blanket as long as he could pull up the dried grass and eat it. DH shows up about 6:20. We decide that he will take Katie and Emily home and fix the gourmet meal I had planned *snort* while I hung out with Robbie and Mary. Gee, life is kind of different when you only have two children. I actually talked to the other parents from Mary's team last season.

I do have to say that around here I have yet to hear any discouraging remarks when I say that we homeschool. Tonight was no different. I heard how much they would like to do it and how close they are to homeschooling. We, supposedly, have a good school system, but lots of people do admit that homeschooling is a legitimate option here. I don't feel as if I have to 'hide' our decision.

7:30PM home from practice, dinner is cooked and the house picked up. I think I need me a wife.

8:00PM- Watching the show on PBS about penguins. Mary decides suddenly that she HAS to make a phone out of cups and string. I tell her I don't know where the string is and to wait until tomorrow. I put Robbie to bed and start Emily's bath, then find out she has decided to try anyway using ribbon from the Arts & Craft box. It actually works!!! After Emily's bath I let her stay up and finish watching the show, especially since she can tell me what type of penguins they are and that they live in 'tuhka'. At 9:00 I put her to bed and come out to find Mary and Katie engrossed in the next show which is the Mozart Ballet. They decide that they need to dress up and become ballarinas. I decide that this will give me 15 minutes on the computer.

9:45PM- they have become bored with the ballet. I feed them ice cream and we sit down to read two more chapters in Runaway Ralph.

10:30PM- After I finished they headed off to bed. I looked at the kitchen and thought about cleaning it, but decided to come in here to the computer instead. It's the thought that counts, right.

11:30PM- I'm finishing this post. DH has just come home from his Darts-night-out and is in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher and reloading it. We will head on to bed and see what tomorrow brings.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A little bit of kindergarten

This afternoon Katie was BORED and UNHAPPY. And, since she is nearly 5, this in turn tends to make me fairly unhappy. See, she has started her Loud Whinnnn-ing thing again (I see it at her birthday and half-birthday times) and is sometimes a bear to be around. The other little girls in the neighborhood and her own big sister are not having a lot of fun playing with her right now, and I don't blame them. I made her stay home this afternoon, and will continue until she can learn to share and be nice AGAIN.

Since she was so bored and so very unhappy I decided to pull out some of the new things I had picked up for school this year. I found these self-standing pocket charts at Walmart in the mountains for cheap over tax-free weekend, and they even came with their own alphabet cards starting pack. I hadn't seen anything like this here and my mom had not seen them at the beach, but last week at the beach we found the packages of additional card sets. I just thought that it was kind of funny what you can find at the different Walmarts. I plan to make up my own card sets to go along with history and science for Mary, but these inexpensive sets are wonderful for early phonics and math skills.

Anyway, I figured I would let Katie test this out for me.

I set up the letters then she had to match the pictures with the starting sound. So much more fun than the workbook pages. She played with it for 20 minutes, even moving over to matching the pictures and word cards.

A little impromptu phonics lesson to cap off her day. And just another example of how I do Kindergarten by the seat of my pants.



What is this stuff???

It has been so long we can't even remember...

What you don't see is that I am as wet as they are, although I will blame it on the fact I had to run and grab the buckets to collect the rainwater. It felt so good considering 10 minutes before it was 103 degrees and felt like close to 110. All those poor brown and yellow leaves - you would think it was fall.



Solar Cooker

I didn't end up babysitting today, which gave us a lot more time for fun stuff. Since I wasn't prepared with anything more than 'the basics' I let Mary and Katie just go ahead and finish those things.

Then we pulled out a project that I had been wanting to do all summer - make a solar cooker. This is a project leftover from our environmental studies last spring. It just kept seeming so overwhelming to tackle, but I want one so badly. I had found these directions online - solar cooker.

It is a good project to be done outside, but since we would cook if we spent too much time outside I let them do it inside. I picked out the boxes and did the cutting with the knife. Found out we were almost out of aluminum foil and had no oven bags, so left the children with my mother's helper while I ran to the grocery store.

I got back and we got to work:

Applying glue to the aluminum foil
Painting the 'drip pan' - they really glopped on the paint so we are still waiting for this to dry.
The two boxes lined with foil
I've set it up outside to test it. Have a thermometer to see if it will actually heat up even though we are waiting on the black-painted drip pan. So far we are having problems with the prop holding up the reflector, I will need to find a better one.

If it all works out I will have Mary and Katie paint the outside so it doesn't look like a cardboard box and duct tape, which is what it is. I made it large enough to hold the crock from our old crockpot. So many recipes out there for solar cooking. This should be an interesting on-going experiments.



Monday, August 20, 2007

This and That

I am reading through The Little House on the Prairies series, again, for something like the 100th time. I don't know why, but when I was looking on my shelf for something handy to read it just seemed like what I was looking for. And, as I was reading By the Banks of Plum Creek this afternoon it struck me that Laura was eight when she first went to school, unable to read and said she wasn't very sure of some of her letters. Six or seven years later she became a teacher and later one of the most famous American authors.

I don't even know where I really want to go with this. It is just in all my readings this hasn't ever stuck out to me. But, it even more emphasizes that waiting and letting children be children, and spending the early years teaching them basic skills is just as much an education as sitting them down in a socialized school setting and having uninteresting facts shoved down their throats.

Part of me is constantly looking for that reassurance that I am not screwing up. I don't push, push, push - at least not anymore as Mary has taught me that lesson. I am coming more and more into believing in delayed academics for the children. I could almost be an unschooler if I could get over my own control issues and Mary didn't need the structure that daily lessons provide.

Speaking of structure, I am trying very hard to come to turns that this week is going to be another week that doesn't happen like I had planned. One of my best friends called me this weekend in a tizzy. It appears her ex suddenly couldn't take care of her two kids Monday and Tuesday while she is scheduled to be at an orientation. So I agreed to have them over here 9-5 for both days. Then, while I was at the grocery store this afternoon I ran into the mother of Mary's best friend from her daycare/preschool days. We have been in and out of touch over much of the last year - just running on two different schedules. Mary has been bringing up this friend in conversation a lot lately, and it is just providence. So L's mother invited Mary over to her house for the day on Wednesday.

Geez - I just can't say NO. And, part of me doesn't want to. Friends are important. Friends that are in trouble and long-lost friends. It will be kind of stressful around here for the next few days and I have told Mary that the basics will still be done, even if it is in the evening. But, I think it will be worth it in the end.

And, speaking of stress, the company I do projects for on occassion contacted me on my way out of town last week and have another project they need my help on. I think this is the third August/September in a row they have had work for me - must be something about school starting that other things HAVE to come up at the same time. The work is easy, the money good and I am not going to turn it down going into birthday/holiday season. This could be the money for all of that and our car insurance premium that is due in November.

Off to bed, I'm going to have six kids floating around the house tomorrow and I need my rest.



Friday, August 17, 2007

That was unexpected

Katie had gone to the beach to stay with my mom and attend a day camp for this past week. This isn't the first time Katie has gone to stay with mom for a week, but this time she was really missing her sisters. Not Daddy and I, her sisters. She was having a good time at the camp, but otherwise wasn't having a good time.

In my quest to try and become a 'responsive mom' I decided that maybe we should all pack up and go down for a visit. One of my dad's apartments just happened to be available so we had a place to stay. We left Tuesday and have had a GREAT time.

Of course I HAD to come home with a head cold. Always...

We did have to do school. I could not let another week slip by us. So, behold, the Traveling School:
In prep on Monday night I also downloaded two books from Librivox; The Iliad for Boys and Girls and Anne of Green Gables. I burned them to CDs before we left Tuesday morning. We chose to listen to Anne of Green Gables for the drive. It is so long we are still just a little of halfway through. I considered that school for the two driving days. We still end up a little behind, but nothing we can't make up once the Fall really gets going.

I'm glad to be back and am hoping that with a little rest this weekend I will get to feeling 100% soon.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Must Share Website

My mother actually brought me the link to this site.

If your kids are interested in nature and/or the National Park System, go to WebRangers. This is an interactive, learning site on the National Park System website. They complete all these fun, educational activities to earn online badges towards becoming a 'junior' ranger. It is in place of their real life Junior Ranger program for people who do not live close enough to a National Park to participate.

Mary is loving this site! She is choosing this over WebKinz during her computer time!!!! And that is a big deal.



2:30 and Done

It is 2:30 and we are done, done, done. And, that includes a couple of breaks, lunch and a trip to the grocery store for fresh fruit/veggies on sale (org. apples $1/lb, zuchinni $.98/lb) and popsicles. Mary is already down the street and swimming, since she has been dressed for it all day. And the two littlest ones are watching their Little People and playing before nap.

These two are sooo good about playing with each other. What a blessing to this very tired mama. Of course they are very good with the dumping and I will be *showing* Emily again how to pick up the wooden blocks. But, it is worth it for 30 minutes of peace.


Very Slow Monday Morning

I am dragging this morning. We, I, stayed up late to enjoy the meteor shower last night. Finally had clear skies and I wasn't dripping with sweat just being outside at midnight. Unfortunately the only unobstructed view we have is to the southwest so we only caught the tail-end of them. And, my neighbors have the most annoying streetlight. Not only does it cut into our stargazing, but it shines right into our bedroom window ever since they took the trees out of their front yard. We could have gone down to the lake to meet up with the local astronomy club, but I didn't feel safe enough doing it without dh and someone had to stay home with the sleeping ones. Make note that next year I am going to try to schedule a trip to either the beach or the mountains around August 12.

The good thing is that I spent much of the weekend just getting things in order and ready for the next few weeks. Daily, detailed schedules are sketched out and flashcards made, books stacked up and pages pulled. I need to print off some things but still have not made it to BJs to get printer ink. Maybe this week.

I also went ahead and made our menu for the next three weeks. I've gotten lazy on our groceries and meals, and our budget has really taken a hit over the last two months. The garage freezer is overflowing with all those 'good deals' I havn't been able to pass up. Now is the time to use and not hoard. We are getting into our 'hurricane' season and I don't like to have a full-full freezer in case we lose power. In fact the menu is through the end of August, yet doesn't even use half of what is in our freezer. So I am guessing that I can cut our grocery shopping in half for the next two months before I start stockpiling again for winter.

Katie is gone this week, so school-wise I figured it is a good time to begin Chemistry and start, in earnest, more of the CM curriculum with Mary. The meteor shower last night was kind of like our celebration to the end of the astronomy unit we had been doing. Did we cover everything I would have liked? No, we never do. But Mary has a good understanding of stars, can pick out five different constellations and knows where to go to get more info on stargazing. Since the night sky is always there I am sure that it is a subject that we will never stop learning about.

I'm really getting sneaky...Emily has been replaying this 'Little People' DVD almost constantly for the last few days. When she gets her tv time, it is this particular DVD. So, I'm kind of tired of it and found over the weekend that I could switch it to French or Spanish Language. So she has been watching it in spanish the last couple of times. Mary found out and wants to watch some of her DVDs in spanish. He..he. Since they have them memorized in english this should be fun learning.

And, speaking of videos, I decided to reactivate our blockbuster account this weekend. We have not had it for a year now, trying to save money and all that. But, there are just too many good videos that I can use with the girls and over the last year I have found myself wishing that I could just go and get a video on subject X. Our library system doesn't do videos, heck we just got audio books last year. So an online video account is the best we can do. It is a resource I decided we did need.

I guess I better drag myself off-line and do some chores before Mary wakes up and we start our school day. She wants to have a sleep-over tonight so I am thinking we should actually have a positive lesson day and I can get some chore help from her.



Saturday, August 11, 2007


Yesterday was Field Trip Day. With my mom here I felt a little adventerous and we headed to Greensboro and to visit ArtQuest, an interactive children's art museum. We seem to always do the science museums and were ready for something a bit different. The drive took us about an hour-and-a-half. Just enough time for the two little ones to catch a nap before we got there.

Driving into the downtown area I was surprised by how nicely Greensboro has revitalized their downtown. Greensboro has always been one of my favorite NC cities. But, now I am so wanting to move there. We managed to find a two hour meter right outside the museum, which kept us from having to cross too many streets with all the children.

You know a field trip location ranks high when everyone has a chance to do something. ArtQuest is a child's messy art dream. They had a clay room, and a paint room, In the other two rooms there were areas for Kapla blocks, dress-up, puppet show, recycled art, stamping, creating animation, weaving, twisting bracelets, paper quilting and velcro architecture, and a corner reading spot complete with soft pillows on the floor. Each station provided information about the type of art and a local artist who specializes in it.

It was small, but seemed to provide plenty of room for moving about and just having fun. I liked it because it was really easy to keep an eye on everyone and in the room with the dress-up, puppets and reading corner I could even let Robbie out of the stroller to crawl around and play.

We stayed for two-and-a-half hours. I could have stayed much longer but my mom needed to come back. It will be someplace we will go back to, and I am tempted to get a membership even with the distance it is from our house.

Upon leaving we had a wonderful surprise, it had actually rained!!! The temperature when we entered the museum was a whopping 104 degrees at 1:30 (well before the hottest part of the day). When we got in the car it had cooled off to 82 degrees with the rain. Ahhh - relief

We didn't get a chance to go for ice cream at "Yum-Yums", a UNC-Greensboro tradition. A disappointment there. But, maybe next time as there are other places we need to visit in the Greensboro area.

The museum was awesome and leaves me wishing for something like that around here. I am toying with the idea of sending the State Art Museum a letter telling them that they need to look into it - I bet they could double their membership by just making the place a little more family friendly.



Thursday, August 09, 2007

Need to put a lable on that

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and found ribeye steaks on sale. These are a special treat for DH and I, and we have not had any all summer. The girls like to eat baked potatoes. And I figured between the grill and the microwave I wouldn't have to heat up the kitchen with cooking a really good dinner last night.

DH did most of the cooking and set the table for us. We all dug in to our 'special' dinner. Until, everyone tasted their potatoes. Then we all kind of glanced around the table. They tasted strange and kind of sweet. I took another look at the margarine tub, and a third...and realized that he had pulled out the margarine tub that I had made vanilla pudding in the night before.

We ate around it as much as possible, and the steaks were still really good. I need to remember to do better with labeling though. I get so used to being the only one to pull condiments and such out of the frig I don't even think about it.

We are doing well staying on track with school this week. The heat wave has sent us inside for most of the day, which means I have a captive audience. We still have two more days of actual temps around 105, before it 'cools' down to the mid-90s over the weekend.

My mom is coming up today and will stay until Saturday when she takes Katie back with her to go to her day camp at the beach. We have been trying to figure out a good field trip for Friday. I've nixed anyplace that is outside or has way too many tempting outside activities. And, I want to go somewhere new for a change.

I'm thinking that we may drive back to the Greensboro area and go to Artquest, a children's hands-on, interactive art museum. I have heard lots of great things about it and it is different than our normal science museum trips. We can also go to this great hot dog and ice cream place that is near UNC-Greensboro's campus (where my mom and sister went to college).

Today we are doing housework and finishing our short week of school work. Mary wants me to teach her how to do laundry today. I think I LOVE age 7.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from our Journey

Sorry to just kind of disappear. We had a busy week last week and then took off to the mountains for a long weekend. It has been so crazy that I don't remember too many details from last week. In the mountains I don't have internet access, so four days without a computer.

The biggest highlight was that Mary received her eye glasses on Tuesday. We have not had much time to put them to use, but she does look really nice in them.

We left Thursday morning, early, so that we could have time to stop at Melora's from Accidental Blogger. We had a wonderful time meeting her family. It was a first for me to actually meet someone that I only know from Blogland. You know, one of those invisible friends. Her family is wonderful, open and friendly to accept us in and feed my large group lunch. Her husband, Ed, made one of the best homemade pizzas I have ever had. My Katie and her K totally hit it off and disappeared for nearly the entire time we were there. Mary and T ran around outside, visited the local cemetary and found a patch of blackberries.

Before we left their house Mary managed to find and catch the largest Praying Mantis I have ever seen. Being us, we actually had an insect carrier in the car, which Mary used to take it to her next big thing... Sleep-over Summer Camp.

This is her first year of being able to go away to camp. Granted, it is the camp her Uncle is the Director of, but still very exciting. The camp ran from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. So, I stayed with the rest of the kids at DH's parents, about 30 minutes away. Mary had a blast at the camp and we will have pictures developed soon from her disposable camera. She is ready to go back next year.

While we were at the in-laws the kids had a wonderful time in the woods. They caught butterflies that were there by the hundreds. We saw deer just about every time we turned around. This one just kind of hung out along the road coming down off the mountain.

Mary got my camera out of the bag and snapped some pictures of us heading up to the house.

Pasture land being converted to housing even up here.

The mountain here is the one we were heading to.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but in the moment I never really thought of running in and grabbing the camera.

After picking up Mary from camp, Uncle was able to spare a few moments and pose with all the kids.

I think this was the first time since Robbie's baptism in March that he was actually able to see Robbie awake. Robbie has changed so much since then.

Today we headed home, but had to make a pit stop and meet Melora and her family at Stone Mountain Park for a chance to play on the rock slide. It sounded like so much fun when she described it that I knew we needed to do it if we had a chance.

After the initial, "this water is freezing" the kids warmed up and had a blast. They did not want to leave even with the prospect of ice cream ahead of them.

This little guy scared a lot of people, including one snake-phobic person who went after him with a cane and scared everybody out of the water because of the 'deadly' copperhead. It was either a Northern Water Snake or Southern Water Snake, perfectly harmless.

We finally made it home a little after seven this evening. It has been a long trip. Fun, but long. I am glad to be home even if it does feel like an oven outside. I've been unpacking and trying to acclimate and trying to get rid of the headache that developed on the way home (rush hour traffic, detour around bad car accident and Robbie screaming the last 30 minutes).

Home Sweet Home!



A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.