Monday, August 30, 2010

outdoor hour challenge #22: butterflies

we have all sorts of butterflies flittering about, monarchs, tiger swallowtails, blue swallowtails and more. yesterday i noticed tons of smaller butterflies on our peppermint patch, it was literally covered with flittering wings. i had no idea what type these are but found them at this great website. sage was lucky enough to even have one hang out on his finger for awhile.

fritillary, not sure what kind though

more fritillaries

common buckeye

we also discovered caterpillars all over some milkweed. they are milkweed tussock moth caterpillars. we collected a few and put them in a jar to watch. they love to munch on the milk weed! from what i've read, they do not compete with monarch caterpillars as monarchs prefer younger shoots while the tussock moths eat the older tougher leaves. regardless, we are enjoying watching them munch away at the leaves!

this upcoming week in our studies we will identify butterfly parts, try to find out if our caterpillars are indeed monarch 'pillars and read about butterflies in the handbook of nature study.

this was our outdoor hour challenge #22. what butterflies have you seen around your yard?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

organic sister giveaway

tara over at organic sister is offering a giveaway of one of her beautiful photograph prints. my favorite is queen anne's lace at sunrise, it is simply stunning!

tara is a blog i've started following recently and i am in love with it! she, along with her husband and son live in an rv and travel around the country so basically, i am living vicariously through her as this has been my dream for 18 years. when i was younger, i didn't have the nerve and at the moment i am restricted to living in one place but in 5 years, watch out because all bets are off and travel is #1 on my to-do list!!

i am in complete awe of tara and justin's ability to travel and make a living from offering their skills, something i've been working on doing myself for the past few years. i think what they are doing is terrific and i am hoping greg and i can have a similar life of our own very soon. what i think is so great about their choice in living is that they are able to recognize that they have valid skills to offer to the world and they travel around doing so. look over their services and see if there's anything they can do for you! i hope to someday meet this awesome family!

Friday, August 27, 2010

does that make me crazy?

jaden has been taking ballet since january and loves it. adelena has wanted to take ballet for years and finally, the schedule works out for her to take it as well. our local ballet studio offers a 'family plan' cap at $57 per month. jaden costs $37 for her class, adelena half of that and adelena's jazz class is $1.50 as it caps at the $57. well, the studio offers an adult beginner ballet class, the same night and during the same time as adelena's class so i'm seriously considering signing up. it would be a great way to work on my posture (all my life i've had horrible posture and i've been trying hard lately to correct that) and the class is free so why not?! and the fun thing is, adelena is getting big enough that we can swap leotards and skirts. :)

adelena was telling me i have shave my armpits. phooey i say! hairless pits make a good ballerina not. or something like that. at least the tights will cover up the jungle on my legs, lol.

on a similar note, i've been considering dreading my hair lately....i wonder if there are any dreadlocked ballerinas?

i'm looking forward to it, i think it will be fun to do something w/o kids around, get a bit of exercise and do something i've wanted to do my whole life (my mom never enrolled me in ballet because my sister who was 4 years older than me tried ballet and didn't like it so she assumed i wouldn't either and never bothered to give me the option).

so, although i have a ton of stuff to do and i'm trying to cut back, i'm adding on to my schedule. yes, i must be crazy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

fall curriculum

sage - 3 (left) and jaden -6 (right) milking clover

there's no 'jumping back in' to schooling as we've continued with our lessons throughout the summer on average 3 days a week. it's nice having school year round because it allows us to take breaks when needed in spring and winter when we are busy with putting in the garden and making gifts.

because of the many tasks i do, i have found it easier to use a pre-made curriculum. i always thought i'd create my own but i have faced reality and the lack of time and so now, i choose curriculums based on what i want us to study. it's pieced together but working well for us.

sage sits in half the time while we work and so he learns right along with us although i don't formally do anything with him. the other half of the time he plays by himself, usually outside in the water pond by the house, exploring the frogs, fish and other creatures he can find. i'd say that's an education in itself!

this is a loose list based on what we are doing right now, subject to change when we tire of it or find something we'd rather study:

art/handwork and music/movement:
artistic pursuits - great 'short' lessons but not much meat. we do them usually 3 times a week although we do art almost daily because she enjoys drawing and creating and does so on her own even when we aren't doing school

harmony fine arts summer 2009 art and music appreciation plans - this is new to us, in fact, i just requested the music and art books from the library today. i wanted to go more in depth with both artists and composers so this is a great start. after the 6 weeks of this, i will be diving into the 1800's art and music appreciation, adapting it as needed for 1st grade level.

ballet lessons once a week through local studio

yoga practice - i hope to start this back up. we were doing yoga a few days a week and it was good for me too! it ties in well with the ballet as stretching is important

foreign languages:
i made flash cards using colored construction paper and wrote the names of the colors in french and spanish on the front. daily i show her the color and then recite it in french and spanish. she is picking up the names and often shouts out the colors before i recite them. once we've mastered the colors i'll move on to body parts and then clothing. i am using this website for spanish and this for french words. as they get older i'll add on latin and possibly a 4th language. we review the flash cards daily.

we also use muzzy for french and spanish although jaden doesn't like it as much as sage does. i'll start her on rosetta stone (we have spanish currently) when she starts reading better.

jaden LOVES to write and even does fancy letters. she does free form writing where she picks what she wants to write and i spell out the words for her or write them down for her to copy. i also give her vocabulary words/definitions for her to copy. writing happens every day during school time and free time. sage draws circles.

i've been using all about spelling for teaching jaden spelling/reading. sometimes we use bananagrams or scrabble tiles to spell out words and lately i've been reciting and sounding out 3 letter words such as pig, man, big...for her to spell out. she's not reading yet but she is writing words and sounding them out. now, instead of calling out 'mom' when she needs me, she says 'm - o - m' lol. we try to do this daily.

we've been using math-u-see and are almost finished with primer. she is struggling with counting by 5's, 10's and 2's and tally marks so we're taking it slow. i've found if i back off or skip ahead, we can generally come back and she understands it. i use tally marks when i sell at the farmer's market and she helps me with sales so i'm hoping that will help her grasp that concept. we will be advancing to alpha in about 5-6 weeks i think, hopefully by october. we do this daily.

i've really been enjoying R.E.A.L. science odyssey for our science. we've been doing life science and it's been fun. we are stuck on earthworms right now because the temperatures were so hot that we couldn't find any. now that it's cooled down, we'll jump back in. we generally do science book work about 2-3 times a week. i love that pandia press offers 'try before you buy' for all the curriculums. it gave me a chance to print out about 12 weeks worth of lessons and make sure we really liked them before we bought them. that sold me even more!

i've also recently started participating in the outdoor hour challenges for handbook of nature study. while being outside daily is part of our routine, it's good to have some focus and this works well for us. i hope to explore more with her weekly challenges. she has ebooks available for every season which i'm hoping to check out soon. i really like the handbook of nature study and it's an easy way to incorporate nature and science into daily/weekly curriculums.

oh yeah, we also do herbal roots, lol. we don't do it every day since i'm always teaching them about herbs as i do stuff daily but jaden does enjoy going through them. it's good to test my own product on my own kids!

i love story of the world but didn't do it because it wasn't structured enough for me and my busy schedule. however, after discovering history odyssey (thanks maria!) i was able to use sotw w/o any problem as this curriculum incorporates it into their weekly plans. we are doing the ancient history right now and jaden is loving it, especially the history pockets. we do history at least 3 times a week if not more! again, i love that pandia press offers 'try before you buy' for all the curriculums. it gave me a chance to print out about 12 weeks worth of lessons and make sure we really liked them before we bought them. that sold me even more! i am hoping to incorporate cooking into these lessons and do a meal from each ancient section. egypt is almost finished so we'll be doing an ancient egyptian meal soon.

general living skills:
not a required subject by state standards but required by my standards. i'm raising kids to be self sufficient and know how to do basic living skills w/o effort. jaden has cooked us lunch twice this past week by making scrambled eggs and bacon. she did it all herself from deciding what to cook to getting everything out, preparing it, cooking it and washing off and setting the table for us without me in the room. she and sage both can milk the goats and help out with gardening, laundry and cleaning. jaden washes the dishes if i ask her to and helps out often when i am cooking dinner. she's also learning to sew and knit which i feel is important to know. i have no curriculum for this, just doing what we need to do when we need to do it and encouraging her whenever i can (and sage too).

i'd love to hear what others are using for curriculum, especially the smaller home-created curriculums. the smaller family run curriculums seem to work better for me since they are created by parents with multiple kids usually who don't have a lot of time to screw around.

summer nature table

i love how our nature table morphs with the seasons. all the kids contribute to 'finds' they come upon in their play outside. some treasures that we have happened upon this summer are a hummingbird nest, small deer antlers and a red-winded blackbird wing:

and i learned something new too! we always find lots of shedded snake skins and cicada shells but this year jaden found a mantis shell! here he poses with our wooden mantis from mamaroots:

i sort of slacked off in the changing seasons department. i should have changed out the springy silk for a more fiery, bright summer silk but i forgot.

soon i'll be cleaning off the summer treasures and changing out the silk to a more autumny feel, most likely orange or a nice brown dyed with walnuts and we'll begin bringing in autumn treasures. i can't wait to see what we find!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the outdoor hour summer challenge #9

while we are outside every day to work and play, i thought it would be fun to try out some of these outdoor hour challenges to boost our science/nature studies. our science curriculum came to a screeching halt because we need to get earthworms but it's been so hot that they have all migrated deep down. hopefully we'll be able to pick it back up in the next week as it is supposed to be cooling down and we have been enjoying the science curriculum.

i'm behind on the outdoor hour but i liked this particular challenge because we have a lot to work with here.

we found jimson weed/datura blooming and glowing in the dusky light. it was hard to get a good photograph with my camera but we captured a few. this was the best:

we also have lots of evening primsrose blooming but it never seems to bloom until dawn, go figure. these pictures were taken early in the morning:

we looked up and saw our bats flying about. i forgot to get a photo of that but i'm sure my camera would not have been able to capture them well anyway.

jaden and sage both had a great time capturing a night time insect...lightning bugs! i didn't get any photos of that either because of another night time insect that was eating me alive....mosquitos!

we'll be following this up today with a nature journal entry and we'll go out and sketch the plants in the daylight as well. also, we'll view some flowers that only bloom in the morning such as morning glories, chicory and spiderwort.

Friday, August 20, 2010

independence days challenge year 3

it's been awhile! i've been busy trying to get ahead on herbal roots zine and plan for the upcoming conference next month and 2 big festivals next month. also trying how to figure out finances to cover $630 worth of propane (will last a year) and upcoming car insurance (another $600). 

Planted: nothing

Harvested: chicken eggs, milk, garlic, elderberries, apples

Preserved: made 3 more batches of soap, 5 pints of apricot jam, dried my harvest of garlic and powdered it, 10.5# butter and 1/2 gallon of buttermilk made from locally purchased cream, dried elderberries

Want Not: purchased 3 more baskets for soap displays at the market

Waste Not: food scraps to chickens and/or compost (chickens dig in compost too).

Community: sold eggs and milk to locals, sold soap, wool, eggs,  flowers at farmer's market (we are attending 2 a week this summer); bartered milk for veggies; have been purchasing all of our veggies and fruit from the farmer's market instead of the grocery store; bartered soap and lotion for a ceramic bowl

Eat the Food: eggs, milk (yogurt and cheese), green beans, onions, carrots, green beans, tomatoes from market, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary plus various herbs for tea: lemon balm, lemon verbena, catnip, motherwort, bergamot; peaches

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th Baby

happy birthday to my sweet friday the 13th baby. she is 6 today. she never stops amazing me with her intelligence that is so beyond 6 years of life. just this week she sewed for the first time and did a great job. i showed her how to sew 2 stitches and she took off, sewing 3 sides to a square to make a sachet.

she can cook, wash dishes, help with the laundry, milk a goat and so much more. she begs me to 'do school' every day. she loves the one-on-one time of just sitting and doing. when we don't have time to sit down and do formal schooling, she creates books and games and anything else she can think of. 

she sings and dances like there's no tomorrow. she's a princess and a queen (drama) but so sincere and lovable. she has taken me on a ride from the day she was born and for that i am thankful for. she is my light and joy and inspiration. 

she loves pink and red and green and all the colors in between. she loves to help me with everything i do, is afraid to go upstairs alone, has lost 2 teeth this past year and is currently wearing 1 earring because the other ear hurt and she didn't want the earring back in. 

she can't go to sleep w/o me snuggling up with her at night (or sometimes her dad) and usually ends up in bed with us at night. she insists on being carried down the steps in the morning when she wakes and loves french toast, pancakes with fruit in them, playing with barbies (why, oh why did feral cheryl go out of production?!) and ballet lessons. 

she started talking at 10 months of age, potty trained herself at 22 months of age and insists on speaking to every person i talk to on the phone. she loves music: miley cyrus, michael franti, feist, alanis morrisette  and john denver, singing along whenever it's playing on my ipod (ok, i cringe when i hear miley cyrus but some things you gotta do for your girl, right?!) and begging me to 'turn it up' when any of these artists are playing. 

this little girl owns my heart and she knows it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

summertime rolls

this summer has gone by in a whirlwind. our shabby garden has gone by the wayside to weeds. there is still some basil and tomatoes struggling i think but everything else has given up. weeds reign supreme.

i think i have a buyer for the sheep. i'm working out pricing and then details of when to pick up. i'll miss them but it's for the best. we don't have time to deal with shearing and working with the wool. i'm still working on getting rid of 2 more bucks and then debating on selling off a doe. the problem is, i'd have to sell my #1 milker because the other two are so attached, i don't think it would fare well if i separated them. so, i may just keep all 3 and the main buck. to breed or not to breed, that is the question! i suppose i should and then i can always dry them off in the spring if i don't want to start milking again. it's good to have it to fall back on though.

i've been cranking out soap, using the goat's milk for that. and oatmeal in 3 blends. it's very nice. it makes a great filler when i don't have much else to sell at the farmer's market.

older kids are gearing up for back to school, younger kids are continuing on with school. we don't break for summer but we don't do school daily either so it all balances out.

i'm lonely as heck w/o my best friend here. we talk on the phone about once a week but it's not the same as getting together weekly and just having that adult hang time while the kids tear up the house. she is doing well and settling in nicely in nz. i'm happy for her but sad for me. all my friends of the past few years have drifted off it seems. school, jobs, babies, etc....they all have lives now! i feel stuck and in a rut, with no meaning to what i'm doing anymore. how did i get so burnt out? i suppose high expections and low returns had something to do with it.

one of the cars is in the shop and may be doomed for the junk yard. we'll need to replace it with something used and newer and more reliable. then there's the stove pipe that has to be replaced before winter. ugh. finances suck.

greg is steadily working on the bunkhouse/greenhouse. i'm hoping to be able to plant some winter crops in there...time will tell if he can get it done in time for that. if not, it will hopefully be ready for spring seedlings.
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