Monday, May 30, 2011

Look What We Found This Morning

Today is hatching day. Grace went out to check on Speckles and the eggs first thing this morning and this is what she found. A just hatched baby chick. All wet. Speckles has only two eggs and the second is starting to hatch this afternoon. I had planned on bringing the babies inside to raise them so that we wouldn't have to worry about the chicks being smothered by the mother of pecked to death by the mother or the other sitting hen. But I am rethinking this course of action because now I am worried about the mother hen getting depressed and starving herself. We have to make a decision by tomorrow morning.

Happy 21st Birthday

Today we celebrated my oldest child's 21st birthday. First there was lunch at LongHorns. Doesn't Grace looked thrilled to be taking a picture. After lunch we headed over to the grandparents house for cake and presents. But the cake was actually chocolate chip cookie cake. How did I end up with two kids that don't like birthday cake.

Fun was had by all. Can't believe I am the mother of a child that has turned 21.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taking a Blog Break

I won't disappear for long. Stuff going on at home I wish not to discuss but is occupying my brain and getting in the way of blogging. Also acid reflux is acting up, not feeling the greatest. Hope to be back in a week or so. Hope everyone out there is having a great beginning to their summer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

End of the Year Drama Party

Today was the last drama class of the year. We decided to have a little fun with a party. Many drama games and lots of food. The kids had a great time, all ages (3rd grade - 12th grade) working together. They all enjoy each others company so much. I hope that alot of these kids will get to return in August for the next year of drama.

Unexpected Blessings

Today a friend gave our family some surplus from a food giveaway at their church. I came home with 3 half gallons of organic milk, three loaves of whole wheat bread, two packages of whole wheat sandwich rounds, one package of mini whole wheat bagels, one loaf of Italian bread, and one package of English muffins. Most of it went into the freezer. The milk will be used pretty fast. We go through almost three gals. of milk a week.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sign of the Economic Times

We live in a small town. Our family personally lives 12 miles from said small town. That means 12 miles from gas, groceries, post office, etc. Between town and us there are two small gas stations that have a small amount of groceries/supplies. A couple of months ago I noticed that the one small store I frequent had a sign up that the business was for sale. I questioned the owners and just figured since they were retirement age that they were retiring and ready to sell the business. After a week or so the sign came down. Fast forward to last week another sign was put up that everything must go. Today we stopped to pick up a newspaper for my dad (can't seem to talk him in to reading news on the web) and my mom questioned the owners. Evidently they have been losing money for a long time and just couldn't continue. I know that this particular family has at least owned the business as long as we have been here which is 8 years. They are actually selling everything, food and supplies on the shelves all the way up to doors, fixtures shelving, etc. The owner is in his 60's and will now have to find a job. We are heartbroken for this family. Plus this will be another gas station that went under and will sit vacant for who knows how long. I went in to the other gas station yesterday. They did have a small grill on the inside for breakfast biscuits, sandwhiches, etc. and I noticed a sign up that said the grill would be closed indefinitely due to the high prices of purchasing the food to serve. If this gas station goes out of business we will have nothing closer than 12 miles away. In our small town square numerous businesses have opened and then closed a few months later. Half of the small retail spaces in the square are sitting empty. In the next town over from us a new Walmart Supercenter will be opening in June. Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand it is good for the consumer to have one more grocery buying choice than the just one grocery store chain in the few towns in our area. On the other that just means that many more small mom and pop operations that will have to compete and probably lose against the powerhouse of Wally World. This means the retail area that houses the small Walmart and is the centerpieces of a few other businesses will be empty. One more case in point. In my sister's small subdivision there are a handful of houses for sale that have been for sale for a while. One house in particular has had a for rent sign up forever. Today I notice the for rent sign has been changed to "Rooms for Rent". Wonder how the board of that subdivision feels about that. I am sure we will see much more of all of this as the days, months, and years roll on.

Small Town Festival

Small town American. A person just can't beat a beautiful Saturday and going to a small town festival. Parade and all. Each year Clarkesville celebrates the blooming of the Mountain Laurel with a Festival of arts and crafts, food, entertainment, and a parade.

I think this year the theme of the parade was growing locally and sustainable energy. After watching the parade and catching candy being thrown from the floats we walked around the booths. My mom purchased a great little fabric purse and I bought Grace some painted wooden chop sticks that you put in your hair (made by a local homeschool girl). The heat was getting oppressive. All week the temps were in the low 60's but today it was already 85 by lunch. Once we had seen everything mom took us to lunch.

Field Day 2011

One of the great highlights each year for our homeschool group is Field Day. This year we had the most participation with the highest attendance ever, 50 kids. Lots of fun was had by all.Each year the boys vs. the girls in tug of war. This year the girls won. Then it is the kids vs. parents. The kids won.

After a full afternoon of competition everyone went in to the cool gym and had pizza, watermelon, and ice cream sandwiches for dinner.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our First Semi-Unplugged Day of the Summer

After a full week of testing both myself and Grace slept in this morning. I think we both got up about 9:00. I told Grace she could watch TV while eating breakfast and as soon as I had finished taking a bath and getting ready for the day she would be finished with electronic time for the morning. This morning we did a Home Ec activity - taught Grace how to read a recipe and we baked choc. chip cookies. While waiting for each batch to cook we read a few chapters from Peter and the Starcatchers. Only a few more chapters to go and we will be finished. Eager to start on one of the Lamplighter Publishing books I purchased at the convention. Probably Helen's Temper. Grace then put away the clean dishes, made her bed, and picked any of her belongings in the house and put them away. This may not sound like alot, but I had created a monster, up till now she was doing no chores, etc. We ate lunch and now a friend is over for an hour before we head out for the afternoon. Lots of outdoor time ahead of us, Field Day with our homeschool group. With the few minutes she earned this morning she watched a little TV while eating lunch and played a video game. Now she is out of minutes again. I think tonight when we return I will ask her to sit down and watch a documentary and crochet for awhile. This will earn her some minutes to use before bedtime. Also plan on listening to a new audio book in the car on the way and back from Field Day. Had to ditch the previous audio book due to some language issues.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scripture Balloon Release

Today was the last day of standardized testing. My friend asked us if we wanted to stay and release balloons with scripture inside. Grace was very up for that. Especially doing something fun after testing for two hours that morning.

We had a little wind and no trees or power lines to hang them up. The balloons went way up in the sky.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Past Couple of Days

The drudgery part has been standardized testing. The past two morning have consisted of traveling to a friend's house that is administering the test to Grace and her son (they are in the same grade). Yesterday was Language Arts, today was the dreaded Math. I think she was upset because on the last section she didn't finish all the problems. But my friend explained that it is kind of made that way. Everyone is not expected to finish that section in just 15 minutes. Anywho, tomorrow is the last day and it will be Social Studies, Science, Reference Materials, and Maps. So glad we only have to do this every three years, not again until 9th grade. I know Grace is looking forward to it ending. The other drudgery today was a visit to the dentist, but no cavities, great news! We are slowly continuing the process of working from her list to gain electronic time. With the standardized testing going on it has kind of put a kink in the works. We will work through it. I am getting alot of "Why are you doing this to me? and "I don't like you very much right now". Hubby has been accomplishing some side work yesterday and today, plus sold one of his art pieces at one of the galleries in town. Only two more official days of school. I have made a list of some fun science stuff that Grace wants to do over the summer to purchase from Home Science Tools. Owls pellet kit, volcano kit, beginners dissection kit that includes a grasshopper, frog, and earthworm, and a solar powered building kit. I figure we can get some more science in this summer without really doing science.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Mountain of Lettuce

Another mountain of greens were brought in from the garden last night. I gave a bag to neighbors and a bag to Grace's drama teacher. That still left us three boxes in the fridge to share with the chickens.

Culture vs. Cram

Every summer I start reading homeschooling books for encouragement and research. Last year I purchased A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola at a used book sale and read through it once then. I started reading it again this week. I strayed somewhat from CM methods from December until April for various reasons. I am re energized from what I am reading and absorbing. Grace is not interested in school. Her 2 1/2 years in public school along with some struggles in spelling, math, and writing has killed her desire to gain knowledge. This next school year we will be taking a step back and trying to get some joy back into our school days. I am tired of trying to cram so much information in my child's brain just to keep up with what the state says they should learn at each grade level. The state is not raising my child, I am. Enough! It won't happen this next year. Our motto for next year is using a child's curiosity and training to develop good habits. Encouraging self education. Okay, I'm off my soap box now. Here is a quote from A Charlotte Mason Companion that really struck me today.

It should not be, "How much has your child covered?" but "How much does he care?" and " About how many things does he care?" Developing relationships with God, man, and the universe is what is important.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What She Chose

Today was an experiment. Due to standardized testing most of this week I thought we could treat this as kind of an unschooling week. Grace was presented with a list of activities to gain electronic time. Since it was still an actual school day she was told to pick six activities to count as school for today. I should have known she would have picked all the easy stuff. Would not most kids!? Today Grace crocheted for 30 minutes, watched a documentary about dolphins, read a nature magazine for 20 minutes, listened to an audio book for 30 minutes, sketched horses, listened to me read aloud to her for 25 minutes, and studied some of her new vocabulary cartoons book. So I guess all in all it wasn't to bad of a day. I have noticed after doing this for the past two days she is showing a little less interest in the computer. Believe me she still can't wait to earn her time and get on the computer, but once she starts using it she doesn't stay on it for long.

Different Type of School This Week

As I have mentioned before I created a list of activities that Grace can accomplish in a day to collect minutes for electronic time. This is our last week of school. I decided to go ahead and start the list today and count it as school because the next three days will be standardized testing and Friday is our group's field day. I told Grace to choose six items off the list to count as her school today. You would have thought I was pulling teeth. The child does not want to do anything or learn anything. This summer is all about getting her to make better choices with her time. Choices that will help her gain knowledge. So anyway, so far this morning she chose a short documentary about dolphins, listening to an audio book for 30 minutes and crocheting. I am very curious to see what three things she will pick to round out her morning of school. We do have drama this afternoon which will be counted as part of the school day. I am trying really hard to get her away from electronics as much as possible. I know that most all of this is my fault. I have let her be on the computer as much as she has wanted with the exception of school time and when she gets grounded from it, usually for disobeying. She has never really had any restrictions of TV time just what she chooses to watch. Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reflecting on Last Week

I found that I didn't post alot over this past week. I guess just not alot of earth shattering stuff happening. During school alot of the week has been practicing and preparing for the standardized test Grace will be taking this week. Neither of us are looking forward to this. Let's see what else. Gardening, chicken care, cooking, and cleaning have mostly filled our days. Speckles (the broody hen) is still sitting on the two eggs we gave her a few days ago. The only glitch was today when she got off the eggs for a few minutes to stretch her legs and eat, Betty jumped up in her nest and laid an eggs to add to the other two then started sitting on all three. Had to pick up Betty and remove her and put Speckles back on her eggs. A couple of times today I had to retrieve Betty from a nesting box. I think she was feeling a little broody today. Saturday was mostly spent with my sister and her family. Went to Captain D's for dinner then the super Walmart for some groceries. The exercise in these parts has been severly lacking, so Grace and myself have started back up with the walking and bike riding. Going three days strong! Also developed a chart of items, attitudes and chores that Grace can do to aquire electronic time (TV, computer, DS). Hoping to engage her more with reading, listening to audio books, nature, hikes, etc.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I have an abundance of lettuce/greens and no strawberries producing on my strawberry plants. A close friend has an abundance of strawberries. Last night I called to see if we could do a trade. I sliced and froze half and we will snack on the rest. Hubby has in mind to make french toast next week for dinner with sliced strawberries as the topping with some backyard fresh eggs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Give Up

Two weeks ago three of our chickens went broody. It took a week to break two of the hens from their broodiness and they are now laying again. One hen (speckles) has decided she is going to sit no matter what. We have knocked her out of the nesting box up to 10 times a day and she just goes right back. So we will admit defeat and have decided that the next three eggs that are laid by the other hens are going under speckles. That means more baby chickens in 3-4 weeks which Grace is very excited about. The other baby chickens are now almost 7 weeks and doing really well. They had trouble with a bout of parasite 10 days ago, but everyone pulled through. I see how it is easy to just keep collecting chickens once you start raising them. But I guess we fill like the more eggs the better, unless we end up with three roosters. Ugh!

Art Purchases from Convention

Grace's favorite booth in the vendor hall is always Miller Pads and Paper. They carry many art supplies and books. The pink sketch book will be her nature journal for next year and the white hardbound book is for our children's book we are writing. Grace will draw all the illustrations for the book and she has written half of the story.

I also picked up some more watercolor paper at a good price.

At the used book sale I purchased a few drawing books for Grace to use over the summer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mountain of Lettuce

This mountain of various types of lettuce was cut from our garden this morning. I split some of it with two other neighbors because it was more than we could eat. Although I could share some with the chickens if needed. This picture doesn't even show the four containers of mixed greens that I put in our fridge to keep. We have chard, spinach, iceberg, black seeded, romaine, bibb, and a couple others with the names slipping my mind. Looks like salads for everyone this week and I still don't think we will finish all of it. That's okay, just means a tasty treat for the chicks.

Nature Study/Science Purchases

This coming year for Science there will be a fine line between Nature Studies and true Science Studies. Everything I purchased for Nature Study can also be used for Science. So along with the smaller science units about the human body, Thomas Edison, Light, Physical Science, etc. I will also add in Nature Studies. All the Nature Study items came from Queen Homeschool, which I love. The first is Pagoo and the corresponding multi-level study guide. Pagoo is an intricate study of tide pool life present through the storey of Pagoo, a hermit crab. Some of the activities in the study guide include: sketching, defining vocabulary terms, writing assignments, lists of sea life that Pagoo comes in contact with as well as researching some of them, and following the growth of Pagoo. This was actually cheap purchases - the Pagoo book was purchased at the used book fair for 4.00 and the study guide was purchased new for 6.95.

Mary's Meadow was the one Nature Study purchase I was really going after. There are three books in the Discovering Nature Series from Queen Homeschool. Two of the books are strictly for elementary ages, but Mary's Meadow can be used up through junior high. The book contains stories followed up by nature study assignments. Lessons range from researching different types of birds, sketching, differences of habitats, wildflowers, how to plan for a garden, trees up to composting, planting bulbs, and building a cold frame. This was a pricier purchase at 34.95.

Last but not least is the copywork books published by Queen Homeschool. I don't require Grace to do all her written work in cursive, she prefers print. But we do weekly practice to keep our minds refreshed with cursive writing. This particular copywork book is all things nature with poems, quotes, etc. The copywork book are in print but I will use it to have Grace convert to cursive for practice a couple of times a week. I really cannot wait to start with these materials in the late summer.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Literature Purchases for the New Year

For the past two years I have thought about purchasing missionary titles from YWAM Publishing. This year I decided to take the plunge. Throughout this year Grace has read various missionary stories in our Missionary Stories with the Millers and she has enjoyed them very much. The company had such a good deal at the conference I really couldn't pass up a couple of these titles. The Corrie Ten Boom book came with a study guide and was only 4.77. After purchasing this book the vendor told me if I signed up for their emails that I could get Gladys Aylward for free. What a bargain. Looking very forward to Grace reading through these when the new year starts. Or come to think of it we might just start them this summer to include for the summer reading program at the library.

Next up is a book I have read alot about on blogs and some Shakespeare stories. Last year Grace performed a condensed play by Shakespeare with her drama group and will again be doing that in the fall. I found Shakespeare's Stories for Young Readers at another vendor's booth by E. Nesbit. Twelve plays are represented in the book in a short story format that children can understand. I think we might start off the year with this book for literature when we are actually studying our lines for Shakespeare. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler just looked like a fun read that has been recommended by many homeschool bloggers. The story is about how a girl and her brother run away from home and end up living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They solve a mystery while there.

This last book, The Cat of Bubastes A Tale of Ancient Egypt, will be more than likely be used with our history instead of literature. I am sure it will go great with our year long study of early times Bible history and Ancient Egypt.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Trip to the Zoo

Grace and Scott went to the Atlanta Zoo on Friday and had a fabulous time. I won't bore you with alot of pictures. Grace's absolute favorite section of the zoo is hands down the aviary. Scott said they had to go twice and spend alot of time there. I told Grace she could count the two days of convention and zoo as school if she would do the zoo scavenger hunt. She readily agreed. The scavenger hunt consisted of questions for each habitat that could only be answered from reading the information and watching the videos. All in all they had a great father daughter day.

Lamplighter Publishing

We are new to Lamplighter Publishing. I was at a cross roads as to what Grace would be reading for Literature this year. I had already picked out two books but needed a few more to even everything out. Lamplighter really came through. We recently started listening to some of their audio books and they are wonderful. As most already know, Lamplighters book and audios are expensive, but oh so worth it. After discussing the choices with a most helpful staff working the Lamplighter booth, the decision was made to purchase two books and one audio. It was recommended if you could only purchase one book from them, hands down it should be A Peep Behind the Scenes originally published in 1877. The second choice was Helen's Temper for a book dealing with the character trait of anger originally published in 1872 and an audio of The Captive. I feel quite certain over the coming years we will be purchasing more excellent quality books from this company.

GHEA Home School Convention

Did you miss me? For the past 2 1/2 days we were in Atlanta attending Georgia Home Educators Association's Homeschool Convention. This was our fourth year in attendance. We always go as a family because the convention has fun things that each of us like to do. Thursday was the first day and we needed to be at the conference center by 3:00 to drop off books for the used book sale. After dropping books off and checking in to the hotel we headed off for dinner about Ruby Tuesdays. That is a very special treat in itself. First the closest Ruby Tuesdays to us is an hour away and second the cost of a dinner for three people. For the first time ever the vendor hall opened up on Thursday evening for GHEA members only. This was great. Not much of a crowd, but I still only made it about halfway through the hall before closing time. When we arrived back at the hotel Grace and Scott went off to the indoor pool to catch an hour of swimming before bed. The next morning it was rise and shine for me as I headed off to a day of the convention by myself for a huge book sale, shopping in the vendor hall, and sessions to listen to Voddie Baucham and Ken Ham. Grace and Scott took the 20 minute trip over to the Atlanta Zoo for the day. Each individual/family that purchased a ticket for the used book sale was given a time to enter, mine was 10:20. The only words I can use to describe the sale is huge, crowded, and harried. I only spent about 40 minutes looking around because of the crowds. Also spent about 30 minutes in line to pay. I did get some good deals but none of the items I was really looking for. Next was lunch and then off to a session with Ken Ham. Great speaker, great information, great time. Next was back to the vendor hall to make some purchases. The last session of the afternoon was with Voddie Baucham and it was titled Culture Wars. He is a great speaker. After the session headed back to the hotel to get Scott and Grace and eat a snack before going back to the conference center for more time with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham which were the keynote speakers. One thing that helped tremendously this go around was staying at the hotel attached to the conference center. I could just walk back and forth in about 10 minutes anytime I needed. In the evening sessions Ken Ham again was great but our stomach really started growling and the sessions were running late. We opted out of staying to hear Voddie Baucham and going to get some dinner. I did later go back and purchase both of Voddie's lectures. Also had to go back to the used book sale and pick up books that were not purchased and take back to the hotel. Saturday morning I went back to the vendor hall to do once last go through (which turned out to be a smart move because it was not as crowded as the previous day) and also picked up my money for the books I had sold. We checked out of the hotel and left for home at 12:00, stopped halfway home for lunch at a great Italian restaurant we visited often when we lived in that area. Over the next week I will do a post a day about what I bought for the new school year. Of course spent way to much money.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Todays the day. Off to the convention later this afternoon to drop off books for the used book sale and checking in to the hotel. Also get to visit the vendor hall tonight after dinner for a couple of hours before the convention is in full swing tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about leaving for a couple of days. With three dogs, two cats and eleven chickens it takes alot of planning to actually get to leave the house. I do have a young neighbor coming over to care for everyone and went over all the instructions with her yesterday. Of course it never fails that whenever we are planning to go somewhere one of the chickens gets sick. This time the baby chicks. They are on their fourth day of a five day treatment for coccidia. Only one chick is feeling bad and does alot of standing around with tucking of the head. Also 3 of the 5 adult chickens have been broody for the past 5 days. I think I have finally broke them all of that but who knows. The temperature went down to 37 last night. We actually had to light a fire this morning to heat the house up. In May! That is just not right. Hubby went down to the garden yesterday and everything is looking great. We have acquired another type of bug on the potato plants so now fighting two of them. On Monday we will need to go down there and really devote some time to the garden.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Week

This week is all about getting ready for our trip to Atlanta on Thursday. Grace is so excited she can think of little else. I guess if I admit it, so am I. I wait all year to be able to go back to the GHEA Homeschool Convention. This year with be even better with keynote speakers like Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham. Also looking forward to some great workshops and looking and touching everything in the vendor hall. On Friday Grace and Scott will be visiting the Atlanta Zoo while I am in classes. On the Atlanta Zoo website they have a very in depth printable scavenger hunt. I told Grace of she would do the scavenger hunt with her dad that I would count Thursday and Friday as school days which would take two days off the final count and leave us with only 13 days of school left for the year and two of those will be testing days. I hope to find a couple of neat project like kits to bring home from the convention to work on for the remainder of the school year. Grace has already finished her math, science, personal development, spelling, and grammar curriculum's for the year. I would like the month of May to maybe just be some child led interests, etc. The only book I really want us to finish is her history book. On a more somber note, one of the baby chicks is sick. I noticed blood in some of the stools yesterday and believe they have coccidia. Purchased medicine from the feed store yesterday to put in their water and started it. Five of the chicks seem healthy and active while one stands puffed out and tucking her head. I went through this last year with our other batch of chickens with a respiratory infection. I was able to save all of them with medication in their water. The crazy thing is that last year the respiratory infection happened right when we were leaving for a trip to Kentucky and now this week with the coccidia before leaving for Atlanta. I guess when it rains it pours. If everyone is still alive by Thursday I think they will be okay. The treatment only lasts for 5 days. I do have a neighbor coming to take care of everyone while we are gone. So we will hope and pray for the best.