Friday, October 31, 2008

Wolves, windstorms, and pumpkins... oh my!

We started out the day early, with a morning drive to Wolf Haven in the rain. What a wonderful field trip that was! They have three different kinds of wolves and a pair of coyote. Our wonderful tour guide (Megan) walked us through the entire place, telling us about which wolves were which and a little story about each pair. Some of them were super skittish, some were friendly enough to rub up on the fence while we were there. But all had been rescued. The tour ended with a great slide show about the lives of wolves and what they need in the wild and then a game about pack behavior. It was a wonderful morning.

And we came home to this:

This tree branch had fallen across our street two houses down from us. It is the same tree that had the two racoons living in it last month. It had taken out a power pole, and the whole neighborhood was out of power for 8 hours. (No, I still have not checked my freezer, but it wasn't hot today, so I have faith everything will be ok.)

It broke off right at the tree. In our area, we have seen a lot of this type of brakage lately. I am starting to feel like it must be the excess rain we have had over the last two years. It wasn't super windy during this storm, but it must have had just enough to tear this branch right off this tree. Crazy!

This is the neighbors house and the power lines it took out. Luckily, it didn't seem to do much damage over there, except for the power lines.

And I think we misnamed the pumpkin city. Instead of SpiderVille, we should have named it SlugVille. Apparently, that is the only type of clientele that our city has attracted.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Famous Quote

"Mama, when we move, we have to remember to turn the power off... and take it with us." ~Cyan

Our pumpkin city...

The kids decided that this city was for the spiders. This is Spiderella's Castle. See her pumpkin coach driving away? (Sometime I have to get the pictures of the pumpkin patch field trip so you can see the story behind this beastly pumpkin that my daughter brought home and designed into a castle for me.)

This is Alex's SpiderHobbit hole. He did the window with my drill due to left hand issues. But I think that he did a great job. Especially considering he didn't have a right hand!

The one on top of the other pumpkin is Cyan's jail. She said we needed one...

The two to the left are houses of Spiderella's subjects, as is the one below.

This was Alex's idea and creation, although I did the head. He wanted a sea monster in the 'moat' of the castle. So he cut these cute little pumpkins in half and then added tooth picks for spines. I was inspired and made the beasty a head complete with sharp, gnashing teeth.

Sometimes kids imaginations are the best things to play with.

Carving Pumpkins!

We got to carve pumpkins this morning... I can't wait to show you what we made. :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Foods From Scratch Day

Cyan and I are talking about fractions. Alex is working on dividing fractions in Algebra. Lets talk fraction application... ie: COOKING!

So today, I set the kids to two separate items to cook. Cyan and I had planned on making pumpkin pie from scratch (like from a pumpkin) for a few weeks now. Alex wanted to make Zucchini bread, but I asked him to make something savory instead as we already had pie, and he found Zucchini Cheddar Bread in my Joy of Cooking.

So off we went. Alex grating Zucchini

And Cyan scooping pumpkin flesh out of the baked pumpkin from last night and putting into the blender to puree.

It was a wonderful morning. I did realise though, that Alex isn't quite ready for my cook book. Which is fine. He does great with the more simple recipes (he has made pancakes three days in a row out of one of the kid cookbooks), but the more complicated ones he gets easily frustrated. Completely understandable.

The Zucchini Bread is still in the oven... but smelling OH so good. And the pumpkin pie will be perfectly cooled for the best after dinner October Dessert EVER!

Fractions? Who would have guessed?

And done!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Trip

To the pumpkin patch with the kiddos!

Alex, Don and Logan. Dressed for the weather that is for sure. Brrrr!

This was just the cutest picture! Isn't she a doll?

Here is me... with my Canon around my neck. lol! As always.

And here is Cyan and Jacob with her pumpkin. He was so cute and chilverous to help her with it. Normally, she would not have been able to get this pumpkin, as the kids have to carry their pumpkin out of the patch by themselves... but Cyan was determined and Jacob was so cute to help her! They thought it all up by themselves. I think Jacob thought it as a challenge. He took off his shirt and wrapped it around the pumpkin... to which Cyan said "Oh! You are going to get your shirt so dirty!" and he replied "That's ok. It's totally worth it." What a sweet heart!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cyan's review for October

Language Arts: She finished her 2nd Explode the Code book and we are waiting for the third to arrive. While we are waiting we are working through the Dolch Word lists (the most common 200 words in the English language). We have played a bunch of games to try to get her reading speed increased. She knows all the rules, very very well... but her speed is still slow and forced, so the games are working well.

Math: She is FLYING through MathUSee Alpha. We will be needing Beta before the end of the year... but, it is helping her build confidence in her math skills and that is helping with reading because she can do something, everyday, easily and well.

Science: We are working on Nocturnal Animals/wolves right now. Later this month we are going to Wolf Haven for a "howl in" and we are getting prepared. She is studying the difference between the eyes of a wolf and the eyes of a human. It has been terribly interesting.

Social Studies: We are currently studying ancient Egypt. She is working on finding places on the globe and using an atlas. She works with a map, a coloring sheet of relevant material, and a story that goes with each chapter. We have also been reading books about ancient Egypt and I got her a coloring book about ancient Egyptian fashions. She loved that and colors the relevant page nearly every lesson.

Fine Arts: So far this month we have studied both Van Gogh's life and his two most famous works: Starry Nights and Sunflowers. We have just started studying Bach as well. She has copied both works (in her own way, using specific techniques) and really is enjoying working with the different mediums.

Alex's review for October

Language Arts: Alex is still enjoying the red pen. :) Even since he broke his arm, he has been correcting others work via ABC Animal Edits and Editor in Chief workbooks. He is getting much better at it. We are working a lot in oral presentation because of his broken arm. He has been reading Runny Babbit and other poetry selections to us and has been reading aloud to Cyan. He has also been writing some of his own poetry, and that is a treat. He is actually really good.

Math: Pre-Algebra is going well. He is moving slowly, but is really getting the ideas down very well. Right now he is working on divisions with fractions.

Science: We are working on Nocturnal Animals/wolves right now. Later this month we are going to Wolf Haven for a "howl in" and we are getting prepared. He is studying the difference between the eyes of a wolf and the eyes of a human. It has been terribly interesting.

Social Studies: We are currently studying ancient Egypt. He is versed in using an atlas, finding places on the globe, and has been putting his findings from our lessons in order (timeline). In social studies he has also been working on paraphrasing different types of information. This, I think is the more valuable, for it will lead into him being able to find out just about anything he wants to. We have been working very closely with Cyan, who is following "The Story of the World", but we are also doing many of our own lessons with help of several encyclopedias.

Fine Arts: "Van Gogh is so cool." So far this month we have studied both Van Gogh's life and his two most famous works: Starry Nights and Sunflowers. We have just started studying Bach as well.

Technology: This has been put on hold as he is not allowed to use a mouse, or a keyboard until his cast comes off. But, he has been playing 'Where in the World is Carmen San Diego"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Loving this site...

I am just loving this site right now... I will have to look at it when I am not getting sleepy, but I think I have uses for a bunch of these things. Thank you Sarah!

And while I am on a web surfing trip, I may as well throw this baby out there:


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunflowers by Van Gogh

Alex (left handed! I think that is pretty amazing!):


And Cyan decided to copy this picture instead:

So this is what she came up with:

What a fun lesson that was! Bach is for next week. Then we move on to Mary Cassat and Mozart in November. I love homeschool.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fun Lunch Stuff

I am a bit of an October nut. I hate the Halloween stuff... by this I mean, I hate the freaky, fake blood, jump out and scare you, decapitated heads hanging from trees in peoples lawns type stuff. But the falling leaves, worms, bugs, bird feeders, soup, naked trees, pumpkin, nocturnal animals... well, that side of October, I can't get enough.

In light of this, I had a bunch of October food things planned. Baking pumpkin pie from scratch (meaning from a whole pumpkin.) is something we do every year... pumpkin muffins, squash with butter and brown sugar. Yes... traditions run strong this time of year for me. To throw a bit of fun in the mix, I have been adding in things like this sandwich.

The kids spent all of lunch time talking about where the worms came from that showed up in their sandwiches. They finally decided that they were martian worms from Mars, and these worms drank toliet water and ate puppies. It always helps with the gross factor to have a teenage boy in the house. lol... Fun stuff. :)

How you doing Marty?

Almost there Bob, is she coming back yet?

Bach and Van Gogh

This is our last study of Van Gogh (formal study anyhow) and our first week studying Bach.  My idea is to have two artists for each month.  One classical music, and the other classical art. 

When we read the book The Yellow House, it talked a lot about the way that Van Gogh and the artist Gauguin lived together for those weeks, and although their personalities were vastly different... to the point where they could never live together again, they inspired each other deeply. 

Here is a website that talks more about that and the history of the pair of friends.  Gauguin painting Van Gogh, painting sunflowers.

Today, we will be making pictures of sunflowers.  We have none in our garden after this last frost... but we do have TONS of pictures as they are one of my very favorite flowers, and I am printing some out for my kids to play with.

Scarlet Sunflower from my garden

The picture below is my favorite sunflower picture that I have ever taken.  I know it sounds funny, but I just love the composition of this picture, and the dew drops, and even the dead ones hanging out behind the big one in the center.  It's just a wonderful capture.  :)

The book that will start off our study today is Camile and the Sunflowers. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Famous Quote

"Um, yeah... When you can't use logic; use volume." ~Alex

Broken Bones

Alex broke his arm yesterday. Broke it bad. It is amazing how much a kid can handle when he has to.
My son, who sounds like he is giving birth when he stubs his toe, barely made a peep when he fell, hard, while rollerblading (he was racing and I was watching) and dislocated and broke his wrist yesterday. It was incredible. I went through this mental dialog outloud as I watched... He won the race, but as he hit the finish line, the guy leading the race yelled "RED LIGHT!" and Alex stopped and dropped to the ground trying to stop as fast as possible. I say, out loud "Ooooo... you're ok buddy. Ok, get up." As he rolls over, looking at me with this strange look, then tries to put weight on his wrist and I say "unless you broke your wrist..." and go BOLTING across the roller rink floor, scoop him up and set him down on the side of the rink. I turn over his wrist and it is literally bending backwards at an impossible angle. Immediately I start delegating what needs to be done. "YOU! You help him take off his skates please. CYAN! We gotta go. NOW. Can you help her take off her skates? I will go get their shoes and the car. Can you get something for his arm to rest on? Thank you." I go get the car, pull it up to the very front of the roller rink, toss Cyan's car seat in the way back so Alex can sit closest to me, go back in, and someone has gotten Alex a roll of paper towels to lay his wrist on and they are handing me a gauze roll to wrap it with. I do this, carefully, the whole time helping Alex breathe. "Ok buddy... in through your nose, out through your mouth." "Mama, it really hurts. Oh god, it looks so weird! Mama, I'm scared. Will it hurt when they put it back." "Yes Alex, but then, honey, it will feel a LOT better. Very very soon. We are going there right now. Right now bud." "Ok, but it looks so weird! I'm scared." "It's ok to be scared, just keep breathing, in through your nose out through your mouth. Cyan? You there honey? Put on your boots. No honey, we can't stay. Don't start crying... we will come back next week ok? You're ok. We have to go right now. Can you get my purse. That is a really important job. Can you handle it? Great!"

We get to the hospital. The dr looks at it. He says yes, it is both dislocated and broken. Looks like a fracture, just in one of the bones. We need an x-ray. Before that, we are going to give him a shot for the pain and the nausea (he was feeling pretty sick because of the pain) and then we will take him to x-ray.

X-ray shows where it is broken and dr immediately says that we need to go to the neighboring hospital for the Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. I ask why, he can't really explain it, but it is more of a repair then he can handle in the urgent care.

This whole time, Cyan is starting to freak out. She, of course, is crazy worried about Alex, and has nothing to do. She has a scratch from the bunny the day before, on her belly and she needs to have the dr look at. The dr, catching on very quickly to what was going on, gets her a cold pack for her scratch as I go out to call Don to get him to come and get her. He is still asleep. When I come back, Cyan is sitting next to Alex, with an icepack on her belly, while he has one on his completely broken arm. They splint his arm and we are off and ready to go.

So off to the other hospital we go. To wait, apparently, for the Orthopedic Surgeon to get there and set Alex's arm. On the way, Alex says he feels a 'pop'... and then his arm feels better. (His wrist popped back into the socket on the way there... probably because he was so relaxed at this time.)

Alex is totally loopy on the pain meds at this point. Talking in circles, showing me what he can do with his broken arm all of a sudden because it doesn't hurt (as I try to get him not to move it), being 'very serious' about lots of things where I 'need to listen' or 'am not listening'... lol... '
It was interesting.
Cyan's emotions are hitting fever pitch about this time. The poor little thing is crying, following me as I am trying to help Alex walk, saying things like "Nobody is paying attention to me. It doesn't even matter if I am here." I try to reassure her... giving her the 'really important' jobs of watching my purse and making sure Alex is sitting down while I go to the vending machines to get water and try to find her a snack (it is nearly 7pm at this point)... I know that she is having a really hard time feeling useless, and I am not sure I did anything to help, as she knows that if I take my wallet with me, the job of watching my purse isn't really that important, and Alex is sitting there watching tv like he is stoned. So nothing big to do there. But I was all out of creative parenting tips for that moment.
We sit for about an hour (this is a total of 3 hours so far) in the waiting room watching America's Funniest Home Videos (which, btw, shows TONS of potentially bad injuries and then everyone is expected to laugh. At this point, I am not laughing... in fact, I was disgusted by some of them). When we finally get to the triage nurse, she tells us she has no idea what she is expected to do here and it is completely odd that they would send us to a different hospital to set a broken arm. I didn't fully understand myself, so was of little help. But somehow, magically, we get placed in a room almost right away.

Then dr #3 comes in to look at Alex. He is a real piece of work. Total jerk. He tells me that my son can't have his arm set tonight because I gave him water and they have to put him to sleep. I said that didn't make any sense. I gave him water because they gave him heavy duty pain meds that gave him cotton mouth and that was what they were doing so they could set the arm. Now all I needed was the ortho dr guy to come and fix it. "Ortho dr?" "Yes, the man that is coming to set my sons arm... right now." "Well he won't be able to do it tonight either because you fed him." "I gave him water because he is ALREADY on pain meds." "Whatever." and he leaves. Seriously, this guy was an ass.

Then, in walks the 'ortho guy'. Oh gosh. What a life saver. So sweet, kind, talkative, honest. And good at what he does. Don showed up while he was telling us what was going on, and then left with Cyan after the nurse came and gave her a pudding cup, a graham cracker, and some stickers. Ortho guy tells me that Alex's wrist isn't out of socket.

To which I say: 'Yes, I know that, it popped back in when we were on the way here, is that all that was wrong with him?'
Ortho guy: "Oh no. He broke it. Broke it good. But... he broke it right at the growth plate. So if it isn't fixed correctly (like perfectly) he could not grow in that wrist again."

Me: Deep breath. "Hence, why they called you."

Ortho guy:"Yes, and also, why you had to come over here. We need to do the repair under live x-ray to make sure it is set just perfect."

Ahhhh... it is all clear now.

So they give him more pain meds, but this time locally (just in his wrist) and hang his OMG messed up wrist from two fingers from the ceiling... that was an experience. Seeing my sons wrist bent the wrong direction, but hanging from the ceiling with a water weight hanging from his elbow to help it pull down. OMG... I still can't get the picture out of my head.

Anyway, about 10 minutes after ortho guy gave Alex the local med, he comes back in, and asks Alex how he is doing... Alex says it feels weird and looks totally wrong, but it doesn't hurt more than a 3 (they were doing a pain scale with him the whole time to see if he was going to throw up or pass out). The guys says "Ok" and grabs his arm, shoving the bone back where it needed to go. I think my eyes nearly bulged OUT of my head at this point... and I had to turn away. Alex just gave this gasp, turned white as a sheet, and then looked back at his arm. It looked 100 times better. "This guy is good!" Alex says, with his drugged, loopy overtones. "You'd think I'd done this before or something" says ortho guy. lol...

The next hour, I wasn't allowed in there. I stood by the door and watched, but they had to use constant x-ray for the rest of the setting to make sure they got it right. Everyone in the room was draped in led vests. Including Alex. So it was a good hour of doing that... then they were finally done. They set up his arm in a expandable splint, because apparently he can't get it cast until it stops swelling, which could be a full week and a half with this bad of a break. So we have to meet with ortho guy in his office and get that done Monday after next.

We got home just after 9:30pm, and we got there just before 4pm. It was a long, hellacious day. But Alex is doing great. The guy was really really good. And as long as Alex babies his arm for the next week and a half while the bone is starting to heal up again and the body is recovering from the strain of the dislocation, he should recover completely in the normal 6 - 8 wks.
What a day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Long weekend

And thank goodness. We have needed it. I am sick. We have one day of school this week due to Don's changeover, and then three more days off. So we will not be doing school again until Saturday.

Sometimes it is nice to be on such a wierd schedule. :)

I plan on getting completely well, making batch after batch of roasted tomato sauce, and putting up as many veggies as I can pack in. I am also planning on going through clothes, now that Fall has officially hit here. That is my long weekend list.

I hope everyone is enjoying their week!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Northwest Trek

I love Northwest Trek!  I have been there 6 times now and every time we see something different.  This time, it is rutting season.  We got to see all the critters bedecked with huge antlers, rubbing up against trees, calling to mates, and/or sleeping.  lol!  It was great! 

The little Cheney Discovery Center is the best.  It is a building set aside in the center of the park for kids.  It has a couple critters (local toads, snakes, salamanders, and a living bee hive with glass on the back so the kids can see in), but mostly it is crafts.  Today they were featuring bugs and frogs.  Logan was in heaven!  He kept yelling "Bee!  Bee!" and "B-fly!" (toddler for butterfly)... it was completely cute.  :)

I let Alex have the camera honors today... but here is a link to the pics from one of our previous trips.

NW Trek Nov 2007

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Salmon Hatchery

Field trips are SO great! 

Today we went to the salmon hatchery. 

Salmon Ladder

It was the best field trip I have ever been on.  No kidding.  It was AMAZING!  We saw spawning salmon down in the river, salmon jumping up the water falls and up the ladder, the tour guide pulled a salmon out of the hatchery and showed it to us (it was about 35 lbs!), and he even showed us the roe (salmon eggs) and the milt (salmon sperm) from the different sexes and how to tell them apart. 

It was just incredible...  Cyan kept screaming (because she could do that down next to the waterfall) "This is the best field trip EVER!"  "This is AWESOME!" as the salmon would jump, again and again.  I was lucky enough to catch one jumping on film... (Second video) 


Some really wonderful websites we used to get ready for the salmon run.  First I printed out this book.  Then we went through the lifecycle of a salmon on this website, first with one egg, then another.  By the time we actually went to the hatchery, the kids were saying things like "Look mama!  There is a Sockeye!  It's the red one."  and asking questions that were appropriate and informative to the rest of the kids on the tour too. 

Snack Foods

Homeschool Blog Awards has a posting on snack foods this week. I figured I would join in. :)

First off. I am a careful snacker. Always have been. I tend to be overly caucious about food in general actually. But that is another topic. ;) This and being frugal tend to make me a 'trend snacker'... one week I prepare this... next week this. Things like that. Many of these things we also will make for a whole meal... Most of the time not alone... but mix two or more of these things on the list and you have what we probably ate for lunch one day in the last few weeks.

So, on to those ever so useful lists:

1. Hummus. I make hummus a lot. Sometimes I even buy it. My favorite things to dip in hummus are fresh carrot sticks or tortilla chips.

2. Chips and Salsa. I buy a bag of organic corn chips every week. Sometimes red, sometimes yellow, but even blue corn has made it into our diet via this little conduit. This time of year, I make salsa or pico de gallo quite often, but when it isn't in season around here, I get mine from the organic Safeway variety.

3. Apples and Peanut butter. A fav of my kids and they have their own apple slicer so they can make it themselves really easily.

4. Cold Oatmeal. This was started by my daughter, who loves oatmeal in any form. And now has been picked up by the baby, who will eat cold oatmeal, plain, with his fingers. This gets rather messy, but is a good way to use up food left over on the counter from breakfast. lol... (My mother has told me that I used to eat oatmeal when it wasn't even cooked yet. So my husband blames me for this weird cold oatmeal trend.)

5. Popcorn. The kids LOVE popcorn. They would eat it every day. We put all sorts of things on it. It is rarely just butter and salt. Our current fav is Nutrional Yeast, basil, and cheddar cheese.

6. Celery sticks with Peanut butter. Same as apples. Kids can do it by themselves... it makes it a hit. Plus, right now we get a couple heads of celery every week from the farm (and this celery is amazing.. and hot just cuz I sell it either.) so they are eating this nearly every day.

7. Pretzels. We don't get them often. But they don't last when we do get them.

8. Animal cookies. I happen to LOVE the light and simi sweet animal cookies from Trader Joes.

9. Crackers and cheese. Once again, I don't get crackers often, but when we do, this is a favorite snack of ours.

10. Uncrustables. My own making. I throw them in the freezer and the kids will pull one out, wait for it to get just mushy enough not to be frozen anymore and eat it like that. I can't imagine how... but heck, they eat cold oatmeal with nothing on it. So... whatever.

11. Trail mix. I was going for an even ten, but maybe it will be twelve. lol... I make trail mix by taking whatever dried fruits we have on hand, and mixing it with whatever nuts we happen to have on hand, and pretty much anything else. I have been known to throw in raw almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, crasins (we don't eat plain rasins here), chocolate chips, banana chips, M&Ms, dried papaya, dates, pineapple, apples, apricots (all sulfer free), cornnuts, yogurt covered rasins, granola, and/or dried soybeans/soynuts. Anyone of these would be crazy spendy to buy enough to feed a teen, a kid, and a toddler... but throw them together with something like peanuts or almonds as filler... you have a healthy snack that you don't have to break the bank for. My favorite bedtime snack for the last few years has been the mix of a few sulfer free apricots, dark chocolate chips, and raw almonds.

12. Frozen blueberries. I u-pick/buy 30lbs of blueberries every year from a no spray farm. That is a LOT of blueberries. But my kids eat them. Nearly every day. So knowing where they come from and what went into preparing them for eating is important. They like frozen grapes too, but grapes don't really grow anywhere around us, so they are a every couple months thing (maybe) on our locavore diet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Book work rut

It seems like that is all we do. Book work. I don't like it. I enjoy field trips, experiments, etc.... but it takes SO long to get book work done right now that we don't have time for anything else. I am not enjoying the well trained mind method so much right now. Usually it is really really fun... but right now, it just seems heavy. 4 hours a week of Math, 6 hours a week of English Lit, 4 hours a week of History, 4 hours a week of Science... all of that compacted down into 4 days because of our schedule.

We have three field trips planned in the next three days and we are taking a break from everything but English. I have decided. lol... We are going to the Salmon Hatchery tomorrow morning, to NW Trek on Friday, and then to a play called "Puppets and Pirates" on Saturday and I am going to have anything else I have them do focus around those events. Color pictures, write poems, etc. All about fish, puppets, and wildlife. lol...

Better than being in the house with three bored kids. ;)