Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Cheese, Degrees and Honey Bees {Prairie Primer: Big Woods Week 3}

Our week started off much like last week. Brynne developed pink eye and then her virus moved a little further south. We just took Monday off. She put on her new prairie dress and apron, grabbed her rag doll and stuffed cat, and played with some of the new updates on Minecraft. I cleaned like a crazy woman. I disinfected every surface, door knob, cabinet pull, and did lots of laundry. I was determined to take a step toward getting this virus out of our house! It was a day well spent. She was feeling much better by Monday night so we got to bed early to get ready for a good day of school on Tuesday.

And we did have a pretty good school day on Tuesday. We did all of our regular daily lessons: Bible (the building of the second Temple in Ezra), math (the area of triangles), grammar (quotations), current events, and reading (We finished Little House in the Big Woods. Brynne is reading On the Other Side of the Hill by Roger Lea MacBride. And Eli is reading Zeke Meeks vs. the Gruesome Girls by D. L. Green.) We watched a video on beekeeping and collecting honey (this video was very quiet on the computer so we had to watch it on Youtube on the television) and another one on animal tracks. Then we got out our white playdoh and the kids made animal tracks and tried to guess each other's.

Remember the blue cupcakes we made on Friday as part of our Gastrointestinal Blue Cupcake Experiment? Here are the results: Exactly 29 hours after Brynne ate the blue cupcakes she excreted them. I heard her yelling my name from the bathroom and there was her pretty aqua blue poopy. I so wanted to take a picture of it for science sake, but I spared you all the agony of it. But believe me, the experiment worked. Her system is right on schedule as it typically takes between 24 and 36 hours for a food to be processed through the gastrointestinal system. Everybody who ate the cupcakes had a similar "experience" at about the same time interval.

We learned all about how oats were harvested in the frontier by using a cradle and hand-stocking. We watched a couple of different videos on Youtube and sampled three different types of oats: steel cut, rolled, and processed into Cheerios. We also learned about threshing and the origin of "horsepower".

Honeybees and yellow jackets are easily mistaken for one another. But if you compare them, they are nothing alike except for their size. We did a Venn Diagram to see the differences.

When Dawson came home from school that same afternoon he said that right after school he and his friend found a beehive in his friend's backyard. Look at that beauty!!

We made cheese. As we did not have a rennet available (oh, yuck), we used vinegar in the first batch and peach juice in the second. The peach juice wasn't quite acidic enough so it didn't work. But the vinegar cheese actually turned out pretty good with some added salt! A little sour but still not bad. We are going to get some lemon juice this weekend and make it all again doing a taste test.

In the fall Ma had lots of food prepping to do to prepare for winter. This involved stewing their pumpkins. But when they were done they had some yummy treats. We love pumpkin bread! So the kids and I made some and also pumpkin muffins. And it couldn't have happened on a better day. We woke up to 50 degree temperatures with a high of about 65 in the afternoon. The warm treats were so soothing on a chilly day!

The kids picked the last of their vegetables from the community garden they have helped take care of as part of their gardening class at the library. Afterward they all sat together and discussed their plans for next year. This class is single-handedly responsible for getting Brynne and Eli to at least try some vegetables. Brynne has even liked some she tried.

Yesterday was a crazy day. We made sure we started right on time because we needed to end school early for some Life Skills training (aka going to get groceries). We made sure we completed our math and grammar assignments for the week, got caught up on current events on CNN Student News (We will NEVER skip this! My kids love it!), and then started a science experiment on salt and worked in our science notebooks.

While shopping the sodium/salt content came up many times when reading labels (see school was happening!). And we also enjoyed spending time together.

We had a snake program to attend at our library so we rushed back to town, but it had been cancelled. I can't say I was too sorry about that. I hate snakes!! But we also had to pick up our baby Chloe. She had surgery yesterday morning to remove a bladder full of stones, and I mean full. The picture below shows all that they took out of her poor little bladder. Her bladder is about the size of an egg and it was stuffed full of all of these. See how the big ones are bigger than a penny? Our sweet baby. She is in some pain now and recovering at home with her mommy and daddy. Kyndal and Collin were under a lot of emotional stress all day waiting for the results of her surgery. But she is going to be just fine. While picking up Chloe we also got quite a lesson from our vet about the stones. It is really fascinating.

In older kid news, Kyndal and I went to a Ladies Night at her new salon. She starts there next week and already has several clients booked. It's a super cool place and she is so excited to finally be going to work!! I am so proud of her! It's awesome! She attended her last full day of school today. She graduates on Tuesday.

We have another great week planned next week with a fabulous field trip scheduled for Saturday. Prairie Primer has been an excellent study for us. We are really loving it and learning so much.

Linking up this week with ...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

1. I am thankful for the friendships I have with my children. In talking with teens and watching others I see how it is more than possible to be friends with your kids. Don't get me wrong, you have to be a true friend ... one who is willing to tell your kids what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear and holding them accountable for their actions. Isn't that the kind of friend you really want? But you can talk with your kids instead of at them. And you can fill their lives with encouraging words instead of criticizing them. We should definitely show our kids we love them instead of just telling them. All our kids really want is to know that we support them in all their decisions, even if they aren't the decisions we would personally make. Support through the good decisions draws you close. Support through the bad decisions and being there to help them should they fall draws you closer. I'm not talking about enabling bad behavior. I'm talking about supporting them as they grow and navigate life. They just need a safe place to fall. I don't understand why parents can't get this. And then they wonder why they don't have good relationships with their kids. It's really not that hard.

2. Brynne and I are binge watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix. If you want a solid and clean show to watch with your children, this is one! She is learning all about famous fairy tales and I am getting to reminisce. It's good family television, and that's almost impossible to come by these days (unless you watch Little House on the Prairie, which we are watching every day, too.) And it also gives us something to do together.

3. I really NEED a few hundred dollars so I can buy up as many cardigan sweaters from Charlotte Russe as I can. I was helping Taylar shop online to spend the gift card we gave her for her birthday and I was slobbering over all of the cardigan sweaters! They are my favorite thing to wear, with a comfy long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans and boots!! There were so many I wanted, especially the aztec prints. Oooooohhh so pretty!

4. I am pretty certain three of my four kids have had the enterovirus that is sweeping the Midwest. But, it's a virus and none of my kids have asthma or respiratory allergies and it just has to run its course, so I didn't even take any of them to the doctor. Instead we treated the symptoms ... took decongestants and expectorants, lots of Tylenol, and lots of fluids. One of them even got pink eye. It's been a nasty virus and absolutely no fun, but we survived. I wish others I knew would take the same approach instead of rushing their kid to the hospital for admittance because it's on the news and it's an opportunity to get attention.

5. Kyndal took Chloe to the vet yesterday because of some probable urinary tract issues. He found that her bladder is full of stones. She is having surgery this morning to clear them out. The biggest complication would be if she has one lodged in her urethra, and then he would not be able to do anything for her. This would completely devastate Collin and Kyndal as Chloe is their baby. She is the triplet sister to our Buck and Quincy and we love her so much.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Joining From this Side of the Pond for Wednesday Hodgepodge.

On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history -- 9/11. Will you mark it in some special way?

I will not make a big deal about it at our house. When we watch CNN Student News I am certain that will be one of the topics so we will briefly discuss it. I am sure I will be in quiet reflection several times throughout the day thinking back to what a devastating day it was for our country and, most specifically, for the families who lost loved ones. If I can find my decorative garden flag I will put it out to commemorate the day.

Do you ever/still listen to an actual radio, watch a videotape (VCR), look up a number in a phone book, refer to a paper map while traveling, set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone?

I do listen to the radio in the car. We don't own a VCR but still have lots of videocassettes. I usually look up telephone numbers on the computer or my phone, but I do pull out the phone book very, very occasionally. I do usually still print off a Mapquest map when I am going somewhere just in case the GPS leads me astray, because that happens pretty frequently. I do still use my same old alarm clock I have had for about 15 years. It's reliable and I just like it. (Plus last week I set the alarm on my phone to remind me to text Rick to remind him to go to the library for me. I titled the alarm: Library. When the alarm went off I had the tone set as my old ringtone. I picked up my phone and it said "Library" and I thought the library was calling me. I picked it up and said, "Hello, hello?" Duh!!!)

Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with someone you don't know.

If they bring it up, sure. I never bring it up first. I find that it is usually wiser to listen to what they have to say about it and then voice my opinion in a non-confrontational way, if it's even worth it to voice my opinion. I can remember talking with a woman at a hotel pool about President Obama when he first came into office. I was devastated he was our president, but she talked so highly of him and stated some semi-reasonable points. I stated that he was not my favorite president but was polite in allowing her to voice her own opinion. I didn't see the point in having a full-out debate. It just didn't really matter. In the matter of religion, that can be a sticky topic when the conversation gets off the point of Jesus and gets into disagreements about the logistics of "church". I don't get into those types of conversations. But how are we to share the love of Jesus if we don't talk about how He has influenced our lives?

What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving? Have you made it yet this month?

We love chili! I was just thinking this past Sunday that I can't wait until it is cold enough to enjoy a nice hot bowl of chili while watching football and then taking a nap with a full belly!

What's something you know nothing about?

The stock market. I absolutely have no idea what anyone is talking about when they talk about the Dow Jones or Nasdaq. The huh? I get that we are in poor condition financially as a country. But I don't get why those two things have anything to do with it.

September is Classical Music Month. Do you like classical music? If so, what's your favorite piece?

Maybe that should have been my answer to the previous question. I like the sound of classical music, I just don't know anything about it. 

What's the oldest thing you own? 

It's either my house (which was built in 1918) or my windup clock that was given to me by my grandma. It was in her house when I was growing up and I think it was rebuilt by her father after it was in a fire? Or I may have completely dreamed that. But it is a really old piece.

Insert your own random thought here.

I read a statistic in a magazine yesterday that said that running 30 minutes a day can decrease your risk of breast cancer by 23%. That gives me some added incentive to get up and run!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Astray {Prairie Primer: Big Woods Week 2}

What do they say about the best laid plans? Yeah, they are right.

After such an amazingly successful week last week we were a tad disappointed with all of the obstacles of this week. First off we had a holiday on Monday. But even had we not I likely wouldn't have been much of a teacher as my arthritis was flared up and I was in bed all day (and had been on Sunday, too). That day Brynne really started feeling bad with the second virus the kids have all had, so she slept with me that night. We had a fitful night sleep and were neither one feeling good all day on Tuesday, so we had our first "Couch School" day of the year. We eeked out a full day of lessons, minus any projects that required much energy.

On Wednesday we slept in a little later and didn't even start school until 1:00 p.m. I felt like Brynne needed some extra sleep to help her battle her virus and Eli needed some also to, hopefully, keep him from getting it. We were still not feeling too good but managed to get in a solid three hours of work. On Thursday we were feeling better and ready for a full day, but then Brynne and Macie were deep in the process of watching a movie and playing with playdoh. Sometimes you just have to let kids be kids. We did start school at 11:00 a.m., got in a full day, and even made it to the library for our Gardening class.

This week Eli had turned up with some bug bites. He had one on his neck that developed a large, inflamed itchy rash. And then on Thursday morning he woke up with a blistered bite under his right eye that was painful. As the day wore on it became swollen and inflamed and I was worried it might be a spider bite. So I took him to Urgent Care. They couldn't conclude that it was a spider bite, but put him on an antibiotic just in case.

On Friday we did finally have a consistent day and put in all of our hours. At least we ended the week with some accomplishment.

I lay all of this out to show that some weeks life just gets in the way of traditional schooling. I am forever grateful that we have the freedom to get some extra sleep when we are suffering from a minor illness, can do school in pjs from the couch when we are feeling cruddy, and can do some learning through play when the situation warrants it. I am not sure what this week would have looked like if the kids were in public school.

We had a whole list of things we didn't get to this week, like whittling soap and learning about animal tracking. But we will get to these things in the next couple of weeks. I promise.

So what did we do?

We completed a full set of lessons in Math U See Delta. We have zipped through some review lessons and are ready to start Lesson 9 next week. We worked steadily on our grammar lessons, which I am really loving. We watched CNN Student News every morning and discussed our world's current events (this is becoming a daily favorite). We read five chapters in Little House in the Big Woods and watched four episodes of Little House on the Prairie (and this is definitely our new favorite way to end our school day).

We learned about Maple Syrup. We read a couple of great books and watched a video on Youtube called How to Make Maple Syrup and Sugar. We have friends at church who have started doing this so are planning to go watch in February.

Then we had a blind taste test to determine if we liked real maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup. We unanimously chose the maple-flavored syrup. We discussed how we would love pure maple syrup if that was all we knew, but really we prefer the store-bought. But even Ma and the pioneers preferred store-bought sugar over maple sugar. They only bought small amounts of store-bought sugar and only used it when they had guests for dinner.

We learned about Osmosis. We tackled our first science experiment and science notebook assignment on the topic of osmosis. We learned about hypertonic and hypotonic solutions.

We learned about the gastrointestinal system. This was a fun one as we learned all about digestion. We saw an activity where you were supposed to eat sesame seeds and then keep track of how long it took for it to come out in our poopy. But my friend said that they did it and it made them constipated. So, I remembered that we made some cupcakes one time with Pillsbury Funfetti Aqua Blue cake and cupcake mix and a few days later our poopy was a dark blueish-green color. So, we made some cupcakes and ate them and we are going to be on potty watch for the next few days to see how long it takes to get through our gastrointestinal system.

Then the kids made the digestive system with playdoh.

We learned how to knit. Well, Brynne and I did. We just watched a video on Youtube and we were off. Brynne spent most of the evening knitting and even took it to bed with her. She was up first thing this morning knitting, too. She is making a small blanket for her rag doll. She loves it!

We learned about Square Dancing. We watched some pioneer style square dancing on Youtube (okay, seriously, what did homeschoolers do before Youtube?) and daddy told stories of his childhood when his family was in a square dancing group. He was the youngest member of the T-Town Teens and has some fond memories!!

Macie learned all about the letter B, and helped us make cupcakes. She has been such a joy to have at home with us. She just soaks in everything we are learning and brightens our day with her four year old silliness.

And now it's time to get to planning another week. Hoping this one has a few less bumps!

Linking up ...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Random 5

1. Eli got some bug bites this week ... one on his neck that he had an allergic reaction to which resulted in an inflamed rash and another under his eye that resembled a spider bite and has been swollen and painful. These resulted in a trip to the doctor and he is on antibiotics.

Day 1 and Day 2

2. Rick installed my new screen door and did some more painting. I love it all!

3. On Wednesday night I took the kids to a nearby fall festival where they got to ride their favorite ride, the Cliffhanger. They call it the Superman ride.

4. I realize that I have certain staples in my pantry and refrigerator these days: spinach, blueberries, eggs, turkey breast, colored mini peppers, mini carrots, peanut butter, honey, greek yogurt, granola, oatmeal, sliced almonds, black beans, and bran cereal. I find myself eating these things most days. Do you have certain things you buy every week and keep in your kitchen for your meals?

5. I am glad this week is over and it is the weekend! We have nothing planned and that is much-needed after this week.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's time for another bit of hodgepodge with From This Side of the Pond. This week's questions center around Summer, School, and Sports.

What's something you wanted to do this summer that you never actually got around to doing?

The same thing I want to do every summer that I never actually get around to doing .... purging and organizing.

Share a favorite memory of your own back-to-school days as a child.

I loved, loved, loved getting back to school! I wanted to take summer school every year but they wouldn't let me because my grades were too high. So I waited with boredom all summer until I could start school again. My favorite thing to do was to rearrange my school supplies in my school box. I can still smell the new crayons! On the first day of school the students would walk down the hall to their grade of classes and stop at each room and look at the list to see which class he or she was in and which friends were also in the class. It was such an exciting day!

What's one chore or daily task you prefer doing 'old school'?

I do all of my calendaring on a paper calendar that hangs on the bulletin board. I do not like electronic calendars. I do not use my calendar on my iPhone. I do not like carrying a calendar in my purse. If I am out and about and someone asks me about availability on a particular date, I have to let the person know I will get back to them after I look at my calendar at home. (This also helps me not to commit myself on every little thing that I am asked to do or agree to do it because I am put on the spot.)

Share something you have learned in life through the 'school of hard knocks'.

Contentment. Wish I would have learned this without the consequences of not learning it.

As a child did you mostly bring or buy your lunch for school? What was your favorite thing to find in your lunchbox?

In elementary school I almost always took my lunch. I don't recall there being anything very exciting in my lunches ... probably a sandwich and some chips, maybe a Little Debbie cake. Either I had instant pudding cups or I had friends that had instant pudding cups, but I can definitely remember seeing instant pudding cups and those excited me! I still have my Disco Fever metal lunch box. In high school I bought school lunch pretty often. I liked the high school lunches, especially chicken friend steak and spaghetti.

Football season is upon us which has me wondering ... how big of a sports fan are you (not just football)? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being 'I scream at the players through my television screen' and 1 being 'is knitting a sport'? Where do you fall in fandom?

I would say a 6. I do really like to watch sports. I like college and pro football, college basketball, pro golf. I don't schedule my life around sports, but if they are on I certainly don't mind watching them. I am happy to watch a golf tournament with Rick on the weekends or football on Sundays. I always like watching my Missouri Tigers or Kansas City Chiefs. But really I would rather watch my daughter play volleyball, basketball, or softball, or my little two bowl.

Share a favorite quote you think might inspire students of all ages at the start of a new school year.

Quotes Comments Pictures

Insert your own random thoughts here.

We all seem to have the next round of sickness. The big kids have gotten over it (mostly) and now Brynne has it. I have had a terrible headache the past couple of days, I guess from all of the rain we are having. Basically we just feel pretty yucky!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Random 5

1. On Thursday night Brynne competed (for the third year) in the Junior Miss Septemberfest pageant in our little town. She loves this event that gives her a chance to hang up her sports equipment and dress up like a lady. We spent the afternoon getting her the Diva Package at Kyndal's cosmetology school which consisted of an updo, makeup, and nail polish. She looked absolutely beautiful and Kyndal did a fantastic job!

Each year Brynne has improved in the pageant. This year you could see so much more confidence in her, and we really worked on her interviewing skills. And it paid off! She was awarded First Runnerup! She was so thrilled and we were all so proud of her! I think the crown is hers next year!

2. My kiddos all got over a nasty virus about a week ago and now the big kids all have a different one! Kyndal, Collin, Dawson and Taylar (and several of their friends) have all had a horrible virus this week that has the same symptoms as strep throat. I hope this is not indicative of how our winter is going to be in the health department!

3. Rick and I are painting Eli's room this weekend (finally) because we are kicking him out of it. Well, actually we are trading rooms with him. When we moved into this house two years ago, Eli and Brynne were still sharing a room so we gave them the large bedroom and took the smaller one on the main level. A few months ago we made Brynne her own bedroom in the basement. Rick and I are desperately wanting our uber comfortable king-sized bed here in Missouri, but it won't fit in our current room. So, we are going to switch bedrooms with Eli. Step one is to paint.

4. Look at these Birkenstocks! I am not one who typically has a need to buy name brand items. I am cheap and I buy cheap. But I have been looking for the perfect black flipflop for about 3 years. And since I heard that Birkenstocks are back in, I did a little search on Zappos to see what they have available. Love. I don't love the price, but I would seriously wear these for probably the next 10 years.

5. And something else about Brynne. Volleyball season has started. Is it just me or is my child the only one in the world who has grown up exponentially this past year? When I watch her play I am in awe at how much she has matured and improved. Last year she was brand new to sports. This year there is such control and determination in her play. I am just so proud of her (and all my kids).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Back to School! {Prairie Primer: Big Woods Week 1}

I am super excited to be back to our regular school days, especially since I decided to change up our style back to the way we used to do things. We are using Prairie Primer this year and are going to completely immerse ourselves in it! The kids are thrilled to not be strapped to the dining room chairs all day but, instead, to be roaming through the house from one project to another. Our first week back was enriching and I couldn't have been happier with the results. I had happy kids who learned a lot.

Reading and Watching

The first book we are reading is Little House in the Big Woods. We read the first four chapters this week. We used The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson which has drawn floor plans of all the houses the Ingalls lived in, so we could visualize their cabin. Everyday we are watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie, starting with Season 1. I am hoping that watching the television show doesn't completely mess up their little minds because it doesn't line up with the books. But I just can't stand not watching it!! My childhood is coming back to me! And now the kids are seriously hooked!

Grrrr ....

We spent a good portion of the day Monday learning all about Grizzlies. We watched a video on Youtube called "Grizzly River". Then we read the book Grizzly Bears by Molly Kolpin. I handed each of the kids a Web Report worksheet and a picture of a grizzly. While we were watching the video and reading the book I had the kids stop me if they heard an interesting fact they would like to attach to their web. This was greeted with great interest, even from Eli, my reluctant writer! (He didn't even realize that he was writing a report!)

Fact report on Grizzly Bears

Another day the story mentioned a panther so we looked at pictures of them on the internet and discussed which zoos we know of that have them. Since Jack was a brindle bulldog in the Little House stories, we looked at pictures of them on the internet and talked about Taylar's boxer, Piper, who is a brindle.

Whooooo Is It?

We got to revisit our study of owls by reading The Life Cycle of an Owl by Ruth Thomson. We have done owl pellets a couple of times in the past so we just talked about our past experiences. But then we did a little activity to demonstrate why owls need to turn their heads all the way around to look at things. They do not have peripheral vision. The blinders I made with a headband and two strips cut from a manila folder demonstrated that just fine.

How Dense Were They?

We studied density in preparation of reading about the butter making process used by Ma. We made a density rainbow using honey, corn syrup, dishwashing liquid, water, vegetable oil, and rubbing alcohol. This brought on some oohs and aahs.

Let There Be Light

Laura saw different colors in the flames of her fireplace. We explored how this could be by watching Bill Nye: The Science Guy Lights and Colours and doing an experiment called Release the Rainbow. I even learned some new things about absorbing and reflecting light.


We made homemade butter using the recipe from The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. Thankfully we didn't have to spend an entire day churning enough for the next week like Ma and the girls had to do. We were able to shake our jar for about 15 minutes, while watching a video on cleaning a frontier rifle, and produce a full cup of butter. Wow! It tasted great! We even tinted it yellow with grated carrots cooked in milk. I am not sure I will ever eat store-bought margarine again.

Is That Dog Mad?

And I don't mean angry. We had an opportunity to learn about rabies. We read Rabies by Lorrie Klosterman, watched Rabies! by the American Veterinary Medical Association on Youtube, and did a Fact sheet about rabies. We started reading some books about Louis Pasteur, as well. We wrapped up our study of rabies by watching Old Yeller. Oh my, I forgot how sad that movie was. There were definitely some tears .. and the kids were pretty upset, too. To drown our sorrows we ate some homemade popcorn balls with molasses we made using the The Little House Cookbook. We were not fans. We should have used some good ol' melted caramel!

Fact reports on Rabies

Math and Grammar and Writing, Oh My!

As wonderful as Prairie Primer is, it does not cover math, grammar or writing. We have moved onto Math U See Delta this year and did the first five lessons this week. We did a lot of division last year so we just did these lessons as a refresher. We did learn about perpendicular and parallel lines which was a new concept.

For Grammar we are reviewing a product for the Schoolhouse Review crew from the Institute for Excellence in Writing called Fix-it Grammar. So far so good. It's a neat concept!

And writing will be a slow process for us this year with WriteShop because our days are so jam packed! I had lessons scheduled every day but we didn't get to any of them this week because we just ran out of time. I absolutely refuse to put in more than 6 hours of schoolwork a day. When we hit 4:00 p.m. we are done, regardless of whether we have completed everything.

And that was our week. We were busy, busy, busy, and go so much accomplished! I was thrilled with the attitudes of my kids and their excitement level in regard to our curriculum choices. It truly is going to be a fantastic year!