Saturday, April 30, 2011

No More Margarine

A couple of months ago I read an article about how margarine is really made and what is actually in it. It really made my stomach turn. I can't remember which blog it was on but I am sure you can google it and find it. This week I used my last tub of country crock margarine and have replaced it with sticks of butter. Stick of real butter are great for baking but not so much for mixing or spreading. Just a little too hard. Today I was in the store and noticed this spreadable butter. Of course it is twice as much as spreadable margarine, but I don't think I could ever go back.

Senior High: A Homeschool Design Formula

With the end of the school year drawing near I decided to put some books on hold at the library for me. Each summer I try to read and sometimes reread some of the best homeschooling books. This year I decided to focus on books dealing with planning a high school homeschool education. As I have mentioned before, I really don't want to do your traditional highschool cookie cutter schedule of classes. I would like to do subjects/classes that Grace will really find an interest in and if I can make them fit into a transcript that a college may like more the better. Not sure which direction will be taken at this point (delight directed learning, life skills, Christian unschooling, etc.) but I feel strongly that God is leading us down some new path. Even though Senior High: A Homeschool Design Formula was written in the early 90's and the credits needed to enter college have increased, it is still a good read. Here is something from the book that really stuck with me. The 7 pillars of education mentioned in the book could cover most items you want your child to learn/know before going out in the world. Does your average person really need to know all the higher learning maths and sciences. Once I finish alot of these books I will report back with my findings. I am sure that some of the homeschool families I am close with might think I have lost my mind. But unless something big changes in the next couple of years I think this is where we are headed in our studies.
Wisdom's 7 Pillars of Education

  1. Revelation of the knowledge of God and His will

  2. Closer relationship with God

  3. Preparation for roles in life

  4. Preparation for specific life calling/purpose

  5. Character development

  6. Basic foundation of knowledge to function in society

  7. Equip with tools to learn for life

More of Grace's Creations

As you can see Grace is still fascinated with making her own sonic characters.

Each day during our literature read a loud I assign her something to draw. She really needs to stretch herself and draw some other subjects. One day I challenged her to go out in the yard and pick a wildflower to bring in and draw. This was her choice.

The next day I had her look through a book of horses and sketch something she saw in the book.

The following day I pulled one of her warrior cat books off the shelf and asked her to pick a cat to sketch. For writing we are currently working on a children's book together. We are writing in tandem, which basically means I write a paragraph and then she writes a paragraph. With two people writing the story and not discussing the outcome you really don't know where the story will go. Once the story is finished Grace is going to do the illustrations. I could really see that as something she might want to do in the future. Write children's books or maybe just illustrate them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Odds and Ends

Hubby went down to the garden yesterday. Don't the potatoes look great. The red potatoes seem to be growing the best but the whites are hanging in there. Monday we will have to go down to the garden and do some heavy work.

Today was our last day working with butterflies and caterpillars. The last project on the agenda was researching what butterflies are found in the state of Georgia. Once we started investigating we knew we would have to narrow our search. The decision was made to research True Brush footed butterflies in the state of Georgia. Grace created two pages in her nature journal with pictures and names. Not sure what we will be learning about in Science next week. Because of the conference school will only be happening Monday - Wednesday. Maybe something will jump out at me at the convention to use for the month of May. Definitely something about nature.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crazy Chickens

Tonight we left home for the first church softball game of the year. We won by the way 25 - 10. Anywho when we left at 7:15 their were two hens in nesting boxes. We had already received three eggs for the day so wasn't really expecting much more. Low and behold when we arrived back home at 9:15 three hens were in nesting boxes. Nice and cozy for the night. Or should I say nice and BROODY for the night. Luckily Betty the last hen that was broody was not one of the bunch. So now I have to go through the process of getting three chickens out of the boxes off and on throughout the day. With Betty it took her about two weeks to get her act back together. I hope the other three don't do the same thing. If they all stop laying for two week I will be buying eggs. This is why we bought the 6 new hen chicks. Need more eggs, especially when you have broody hens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's a Chicken Zoo

This morning the coop was finally finished and the baby chicks were able to go out in it first thing this morning. Of course Grace felt like she needed to get in there with them. All sides are wood except one. Saturday the chicks will be 5 weeks old and are just about fully feathered. On Monday they will start spending the night out in the coop with their heat lamp. On Thursday we are headed to the homeschool convention and a neighbor will be coming over to keep watch over the chicks. I want to make sure they are comfortable in their new home before we live.

As always hubby did a wonderful job on using what we already had on hand to build the coop. Some improvements to this coop as opposed to the game hen coop is the fencing is higher for us to be able to walk in and not have to be practically on hands and knees to fetch from inside the run. The only items purchased was the fencing and conduit. We did discover that the conduit was cheaper by half instead of using purchased wood posts or steel fence posts.

Because of our location in a very wooded area we have to cover the runs in chicken wire to protect the birds.

The babies are already out and enjoying their run. This week we have allowed the babies to stay out all day and bring them in the house about 8 each evening. I am not even turning on the lamp at night for warmth anymore. It is 75 degrees in the house which is plenty warm for them. Plus I want them to settle down and go to sleep for the night.

You can't see it from this angle but directly across from this coop and run is the game hen/rooster coop and run. So when I say welcome to the chicken zoo, I am not too far off base.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Atlanta Zoo

Atlanta Zoo and our library system has a program set up to get every family of 4 free tickets to visit the zoo. Each library in the system has a dvd available to the public to check out and keep for one week. The dvd is about the history of the Atlanta Zoo. Upon returning the dvd your family is presented with free passes to the zoo. A family can receive the free passes every year. It is somewhat hard to get the dvd. It cannot be put on hold, it is basically first come first serve. Also once you turn the dvd in you have only one week to use the passes. On a whim I called our local library to see if the dvd was in and low and behold it was. This works out great for us because we are going to the homeschool convention in Atlanta next week. Now hubby and Grace can attend the zoo for free one day while I am in a bunch of workshops and classes.

I Love Getting Packages

I love getting packages in the mail especially during the time frame that new curriculum comes for the next school year. Today I received a package with 6 books. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew is one of the literature choices for next year.

Poetry choices.

I love this series of book about inventors, presidents, composers and artists. I got this little book to go along with a Thomas Edison lapbook we will be working through for science.

This book about the human body was recommended to use with a unit study we will also be working through next year for science. Grace is already sitting on the couch looking at it. Very neat book with all kinds of moving pieces.

A Garden Patch of reproducible planning and education worksheets was purchased just for me. All kinds of planning materials ranging from portfolio planners and organizers, reports, history timelines, report cards to life notebook pages and high school diplomas. Looking forward to using some of these soon.

Our First Harvest

Today hubby picked our first harvest from the garden. Varieties of lettuce. We will eat tonight in a salad with our homemade pizza.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

What a glorious Easter Sunday. The weather is beautiful. Our butterfly bush is swarming with life today. Today was the big day to release Grace's three painted ladies. They all were very eager to get out. Two fly away into the trees but one went straight for the bush and as far as we know is still there feeding. Such a shame that their time spent as a butterfly is so short. The above photo is of a humming bug which looks like a bumble bee. Must have been four or five of these on the bush.

So many other butterflies were present too.

I think I will plant some more of the butterfly bush on the property to start attracting even more species of butterflies.

We had such a wonderful time out in the front yard just watching all the incredible creations of our God. Grace now had two caterpillars that she is hoping will build a cocoon and turn in to moths.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday + Sunshine = Nature Study

For the past few days the weather has been cooler, rainy, cloudy and misty. Today was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine that just called for being outdoors. First thing was to let the baby chicks out in their play area and they were able to stay out for about five hours. Our study of caterpillars and butterflies has really ignited an interest for Grace. All three of our painted ladies have emerged and will be released tomorrow. We felt releasing them on Easter Sunday was very fitting. Now she is on the hunt for more caterpillars to raise into butterflies or moths. We went down to a neighbor's house that has an incredible yard and creek for nature study. In all that area (probably 3 acres at least) we could on find one caterpillar. A very common one at that. The Eastern Tent Caterpillar which will build a cocoon and turn in to a moth. Grace is still going to try.

There were lots of this specimen of butterfly on the Yellow flower. Very hard to photograph, very active. We looked up the butterfly in our field guide and discovered that this guy or girl is a Buckeye.

We still have this wildflower to look up and the bottom photo of a plant. Looking forward to more hikes and nature studies for this spring and summer.

2nd Annual Journey to Jerusalem

Last night our church held the 2nd annual Journey to Jerusalem. On this night you can go back in time and be a part of the times of Jesus. I always work in the market place. Each individual is given gold coins to spend in the market place. They have the opportunity to purchase small baskets, figs, dates, grapes, clay bowls, gems, wooden mallets, and fish (goldfish). There is a beggar at the well begging for money, thieves and street urchins wondering the marketplace. High priests periodically come through and try to bribe you with gold coins to tell where Jesus is. We even have a tax collector that comes through to collect taxes from everyone.

This year our son was asked to be an apostle in the living last supper where people could come and watch and also participate in communion. Some animals were there for petting such as a donkey, some rabbits and goats. An individual could go on a pray walk which meant carrying a cross as Jesus did and pounding a nail into a larger cross. We also had a jail in which you could find Barabbas, and the empty tomb. I got one great comment at the end of the festivities. At the end of the evening a mother approached our booth and wanted us to know how much she appreciated the event. She was so happy to have an alternative to going to an Easter egg hunt to show her children the true meaning of Easter. Comments like that really make us thrilled about preparing for the event each year.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Day of Spending Money

I feel like money is always running through my fingers. I am not referring to silly stuff. Just everyday necessities that a family may need. Okay maybe they are necessities to us and not to other folks. Today was the day of errands. 20.00 at the feed store, food for the chickens. 15.00 at the produce store (did I mention this was the second visit this week). My family goes through fruit like there is no tomorrow. Another 20.00 at dollar general for dog food, cat litter, soda (don't hate me), and deodorant. Art store for yet another sketch book for Grace and 5 new colored pencils which came to 17.00. Grace can easily go through two sketch books a month and we are slowly building up her colored pencil collection of the really good stuff. Once a month I let her pick out 3-5 different colors to add to her collection. I still need to get gas on the way back to church tonight which will be another 25.00. So if anyone was keeping up that came to 97.00 Ouch! I think this weekend will be a go no where weekend, don't even set foot in the car, except for church on Sunday. It is the only way I can insure that we spend nothing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thinking Outside of the Box

Over the past couple of days I have been reading a book, "Homeschooling the Teen Years", and it really has me thinking. Plus we had a playdate yesterday with a close friend that leans more towards unschooling or at least a very relaxed schooling. It has made my brain really push the limits of the average thinking about higher math and science in the high school years. We started down this path of homeschooling to do it differently than public school. We wanted the chance to pursue Grace's passions and strengths. Once you get to about 8th grade you start feeling the pressure to do all the subjects just like public school and really you don't have too. If your child is planning on attending college that college should be contacted and asked what type of maths and sciences will be approved for admission. In the book I am reading it gave some really great alternatives for science other than what everyone else is doing, i.e. chemistry and physics. Some of the alternatives might be: entomology, agri-science, marine biology, botany, astronomy, microscopy, geology, paleontology, herpetology and meteorology. These are just a few of the other sciences out there, especially for kids that won't be attending college or will be attending college but not with a science focus. I feel like we decided to home school to do something different and if we are going to do something different we should not copy everyone else just because that is how it is always done. Thinking outside of the box is not a bad thing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Playing Around with a Weekly Schedule for Next Year

I know it is really too early to be planning this, but I really enjoy it. Also it helps me from scheduling too many subjects for the new year. Whenever I start planning I tend to want to teach too many things.

Mondays - Bible, History, Literature, Math, Science, Grammar, Written Narration, Poetry, Tone Chimes Class

Tuesdays - Bible, History, Literature, Math, Nature Study, Personal Development, Grammar, Poetry, Drama Class, Spanish Class

Wednesday - Bible, History, Literature, Math, Science, Greek, Vocabulary, Written Narration, Spelling, Picture Study

Thursdays - Bible, History, Literature, Math, Science, Greek, Vocabulary, Composer Study, Spanish Class

Fridays - Bible, History, Literature, Math, Science, Greek, Vocabulary, Written Narration, Spelling

Viewing God's Handiwork

Our first painted lady butterfly emerged this morning. Very exciting. The way that God designed this process to take place is just down right breathtaking. We watched a video about caterpillars, butterflies, and moths that blew our mind. Loving this project.

The baby chicks are three weeks and four days old today. This has been another amazing process to be a part of. They grow so fast. Yesterday when we put them in they outdoor playpen for a few hours we got to witness them take their first dust bath. So funny. Don't get me wrong though, it is alot of work. We will all be glad when we can move them outside to their new coop on a permanent basis.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Morning At The Garden

This morning was our weekly trek down to the garden to weed. Scott actually went down yesterday to pick bugs and eggs of the potato plants. The above picture is the path that leads down to the garden.

This is the view coming down the path for our section of garden. One of the other gardeners was there also.

The veggies that are growing the best right now are the various lettuces and spinach.

And the red and white potatoes. Even with fighting the bugs.

Strawberries are not flowering very well yet. The plants that are not doing well at all are the watermelons , peas and a couple of types of lettuce. Again school will start later in the day due to gardening. Makes me ponder about how the early settlers and farmers did it. Everyone went out in the morning to do the animal and crop chores then came back to the house for breakfast and maybe some studying.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I didn't get to see the first season of this show but did get to view the first episode of the new season. This season Jamie is in Los Angles hoping to change people's attitudes about food. What is good to eat, what is bad to eat. He focuses alot on what children are being feed in their school cafeterias and the fast food business. I hope to be able to follow along through this season. Lots of great information. The one section of the first episode that stuck in my mind was his demonstration about how most ground beef in America is processed. Not only that, but that the USDA doesn't feel it is necessary to label on the meat how much ammonia the beef is washed in. That was a real eye opener for me. Jamie said the only real way you can know that you are getting real ground beef is to watch the butcher put it in the grinder and grind it in front of you. I have to admit that our family eats alot of red meat. It is the cheapest thing available. But I think I will need to rethink what types of meat I feed my family and where I get my ground beef from. Some of our favorite meals (tacos, spaghetti, hamburgers) require ground beef and I'm sorry but the rest of my family is just not going to tolerate ground turkey, etc. Although we did eat some ground venison mixed with ground beef in the past couple of months. Mostly we liked it as hamburgers. I am pondering finding a somewhat local source for ground beef and buy in larger quantities.This next tidbit of information is for my friend Kelly, because she will really get a kick our of it. Still working on my hubby about the meatless meals thing. One night this last week we had cheese ravioli, salad, and bread. He immediately went to the fridge to pull out some leftover taco and was going to try it on the pasta because he felt he needed the meat in his dish. I asked him to put the meat back and try the meal as prepared. He did admit after eating that he did feel full and satisfied. Hopefully he won't ever read this. I thought it was kind of comical.

It Always Comes Back to Charlotte Mason

This coming school year will be our sixth year of homeschooling. Most of the five years we have used the Charlotte Mason methods to accomplish our daily learning adventures. The one website of information that I have always used and always gone back to is This past year we did stray a little bit in the history and science department. Grace was just causing too much grief about writing narrations. We switched to some unit studies and hands on approach for science since January and The Story of the World for history with the test booklet. She has done well with these changes. I will continue to do unit studies, hands on, and lap books for science because I do not feel she is ready as of yet for the Apologia books for higher science, maybe in 8th grade. Also we have strayed away from nature study, picture study, and composer study. All of that will change for the beginning of her 7th grade year. We are going back to our original plan of using the curriculum guide at Simply Charlotte Mason. I still feel that this will provide the best well rounded education possible for Grace in a very gentle way. Writing has gotten easier for her and I think we will get better with the written narrations, just need to keep plugging away. So I think below will be our final choices for the new school year:

  • Math - Teaching Textbooks

  • Language arts - Spelling Through Copywork, Poetry, Vocabulary, Easy Grammar

  • Personal Development - Beautiful Girlhood with companion book

  • Foreign Language - Continue work with Greek but also taking a conversational Spanish class

  • History/Bible - Genesis Through Deut./Ancient Egypt

  • Geography - Map Drills of Egypt and Africa

  • Literature - Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, and haven't decided on the fourth book yet

  • Picture Study - John James Audubon, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Carl Larson, Maxfield Parrish, and P. Buckley Moss

  • Poetry - Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson

  • Nature Study - Continue Outdoor Hour Nature Challenges and hopefully purchase one of the new nature study books from Queenhomeschool

  • Composer Study - Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky

  • Art - Nightly sketching with dad and group lessons throughout the year

  • Shakespeare - Drama class will be performing Shakespeare at the beginning of the year

  • Science - is the only subject that will not be so much in a CM fashion using on hand lap books, unit studies and hands on adventures

It is always so much fun looking forward to the new year.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Art Class From See The Light

A couple of weeks ago I received in the mail for free the Art Class DVD from The first dvd is compiled of four lessons : Tools of the Trade, It All Starts With a Line, Contours and Composition, Draw What You See, and a Bonus Chalk-It-Easy Chalk Art Lesson. Every night this week my husband sat down with Grace and watched the lesson. Each lesson is short and easy to understand. Both Grace and hubby thought the master artist was a great artist and was easy to understand in her teaching. They were also appreciative of the fact that God's message was woven throughout all the lessons. The only problem for us is that Grace is already somewhat of an accomplished artist and needs more intense instruction. There are 9 dvds in the package for 99.00 or you can purchase each dvd individually for 14.99. In our opinion this program is for a beginning artist. I do understand that the company is working on a volume 2 which may meet our needs more. Overall we do like the product. The website is very nice also. Please take a visit to for more information.

Science Decisions for Next Year

Believe me making a final science decision for this year was tough. I floated back and forth between Exploring Creation Series, General Science, Real Science 4 Kids, and even making up my own curriculum. But when I really thought about it all of those items would need to be purchased. So yesterday while I was going through alot of my own materials that I already owned, a light bulb moment happened. In these harsh economical times I should look at what I have and try to put something together without spending alot or any money. So this is what I came up with. According to alot of scope and sequences the 7th grade year should pertain to general science. Well, in my documents on my computer I had about 10 saved lap books and unit studies that ran the spectrum of all kinds of science and to make it even better most of them are for 3rd - 8th grade. Perfect! Really looking forward to the next year.
Here is the list of topics I have decided for us to cover for our 7th grade science year through unit studies and lap books:

  • Human Body

  • Animal Life Cycles

  • Ecosystems

  • Exploring Light

  • Simple Machines

  • Volcanoes

  • Earthquakes

  • Thomas Edison

  • Weather

  • Will also continue with Nature Studies once a week through a new nature study book