Friday, April 30, 2010

Reenactment of the Celtic/Roman War... or MOMS VS KIDS!

Today we, the Roman Empire, were tragically defeated by the terrible Celtic Barbarians from the North. With their war paint and war cries, not to mention huge maiming battle axes, we had no hope of survival.

Knowing this, one brave solider decided to attempt a truce with these monsters, and was sent to the far away land of Ireland (in the bushes).

Luckily, he was able to get a message, via Currier pigeon, that we were about to be under attack, and so we made our brave last stand.

The attack was quick and brutal. These warriors were not only ruthless to their enemies, but many of them were fighting with their insides hanging out (due to a run in with Biology Class earlier today). We had no hope of defeating such a fearless foe.

Even with our armor and grand technological advantages (cameras and hard foam swords) the barbarians over ran our forces and we quickly decided that we would run, or die.

We hid in the shelter of the hills (also known as the garden) until the battle cries were quieted and the barbarians left to eat their snack.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What we are learning about this week...

I never forgot this song from when I was in middleschool... and now I have my middleschool son learning it for part of our USA study. Funny enough, I also posted an Animaniacs video on my other blog today, talking about food. They were way more educational than I remember! ;)

Have a great Wednesday folks!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Grains of the World - Part 3

How does our grain garden grow? Well, let's see. The rice has decided not to grow any further than it did in the jar... which isn't too surprising as we are still dealing with low 40's at night here. The oats (that didn't sprout) didn't grow at all (but I am still looking to plant more seeds, I just have to get to a feed store), but the other four grains have gone crazy! They are about 2 inches tall and have taken on a beautiful color!

The corn hasn't come up yet, but it will be a while before it does. It likes to be really warm. I know we can grow corn here however, so I suspect that when we get back from our trip mid-May, we will have tiny corn stalks to add to the school bed grain mosaic.

Link to the other posts: Part 1, and Part 2.


Friday, April 23, 2010

United States of America

As homeschoolers, we pull educational opportunities from the oddest things. Everything from roadkill that we pass on the way to a field trip, to a beautiful needle point sent by the inlaws can turn into a full blown unit study.

Last week I realised that my kids may not know where we are going for vacation. We have studied the rivers of Egypt and Ancient Rome, but they may not know the rivers we have to cross to get to California! So I jumped, nose deep, into setting up a unit study for the United States.

For now, we are just doing the Pacific States... as those are the ones we will be visiting next month. But I made the books cover all 50 states in depth. This means that it took an entire ream of paper, and two black ink cartridges before I was done... but it was well worth it. :) Here's how I did it:

For the covers, I googled 'United States of America' under the images search. I chose different images for each of the kids because there are some big differences in the work I am asking of each of them, (although many of their pages will be the same) and I wanted the covers to reflect the level of work I expected.

In Cyan's book I mostly had a set of these three pictures to introduce the states. "Where Is ...?" from Homeschool Share, the State Facts Pages from Crayola Coloring Sheets, and the State Flower and State Bird pages from Homeschool Share Geography Resources. In the beginning of her book there are a few other sheets: the 7 continents, where America is in the world, and where the USA is in North America. I also included copy sheets for our address, pages to draw a picture of her house and common plants of our area (which is great, because we have at least 5 of the 'state flower' blooming in our yard right now), a large color map of the United States, and a couple of pages on our countries flag.

In Alex's book, there are all of these pages and more. There are pages on government, some on famous people from the different states, question and answer sheets on the continents, the countries of North America, and regions of our country as well. The flag sheets along with flag etiquette and how to fold a flag... I even included some sheets to write poetry about America.

On the back of both books, I added a picture of all of the state flags (from Google images) onto card stock and I asked the kids to refer back to this when coloring the flag sheets so they are using the correct colors.

I also went on Enchanted Learning (I have a membership) and picked up a page on the regions of the US. I used this as a guide and divider for the books. I started with the Pacific States, moving from Washington, Oregon, California, and on to Alaska and Hawaii and moving across the country in sections, from top to bottom.

I organized the sections regionally so the kids can remember the states locaion in relation to other state locations. (This has always helped me remember.) It also is helpful because many of the states that are close together, have similar attributes or famous products in common. Such as the apples from Washington and Oregon.

I have been thinking about this unit study for a long time. Not specifically doing anything... but just knowing that something about the geography and history of our country was coming sometime before I was done with 'schooling' them. We have many resources and I borrowed a few more from a friend that I have found to be really helpful.


Apples to Oregon (which, btw, has an AWESOME free unit study from here that goes along with it)

This is a page out of the book "Smart About the Fifty States".

It suddenly seems as though everything we are doing revolves around Geography and History. The grains of the world study is going well and we are identifying the continents that these grains are commonly used on. We have a history class that just had a field trip with a real archaeologist this morning and watched him make a spear head out of obsidian. And then this afternoon we spent talking about the birth of professional apple fruit tree production in Washington and Oregon with Henderson Luelling. I think my coolest moment in the day is when I could share that the Gravenstein apple was one of the varieties that Henderson Luelling brought over in his covered wagon 160 years ago, and we have one IN OUR YARD!

Somedays, I just LOVE being a homeschooler. :)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grains of the World - Part 2

I was shocked and amazed when I pulled out the jars of soaking grains for the lessons today! They had sprouted. Not only sprouted, but some of the new little plants were more than an inch long! Amazing considering they had just been grain on Friday.

Even the rice had sprouted... which I wasn't sure it would even do. But I do have to admit that the idea of the food still being 'alive' that I usually eat actually made me feel really good. If it can grow a small plant, then it certainly must be good for our bodies.

We did have one that didn't sprout at all... the Oats. I wasn't sure that they would, and I am not sure I will be able to find live Oat seeds anywhere but online. These were called "Oat Groats" and they were obviously processed somehow, and not just the whole grain. I knew that rolled oats wouldn't work... and steal cut oats will not work either. Any ideas on where to find live Oat seeds would be welcome, as I am kind of out of options and it is a important grain in our diets as a family so important to include if I can.

We took the sprouted plants outside and put them down in our school garden plot. Most of them were starting to root into the paper towels, so we just put the whole paper towel into the soil with the seedlings in it. (Note to those of you who want to do this project... you really only want to soak the grains until the plant emerges.... I waited too long, but we had a long weekend in between soaking day and planting day. If I had known, I would have started the seeds soaking on a Monday and then added planting them to the curriculum of the day whenever they were ready that week.)

Here is our sweet little cluster of Rye:

So far, in our book work, we have covered wheat and corn. As we move through the book work with the other grains, I will post about that. But just really quickly, I wanted to post Cyan's picture of a corn plant:

She made it so whimsical and fun, and yet, all of the parts are accurate and included. I was impressed with my artistic little girl. :)


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grains of the World

Logan and I are headed well into recovery now and we have started up with regularly scheduled things.

We started our Grains of the World study yesterday.

I spent quite a bit of time, looking for grain seeds that were sold in less than a 50lb bag, and I have to tell you, it was a much harder than I thought! Finally, I took to the natural health food stores and asked if they had any sproutable grains. Of course the health food stores were able to help me immediately and I found white wheat, red wheat, barley, oats, and rye all in a sproutable form. The millet was a bit harder to come by... We had to dig it out of bird seed! lol! Corn I ordered because I wanted to make sure it was organic and GMO free so we could eat it, but that came in plenty of time and we have them all started now.

None of these seeds came from a 'gardening seed package', so I thought it would be a good idea if we sprouted them first, before we tried to put them in the ground.

To keep them all properly labeled, I had the kids write the names on huge craft sticks and then we placed one in each mason jar. At the bottom of the jar, we put a wet (really wet) paper towel, and then a heaping teaspoon of seeds, and another wet paper towel on top.

This is the bed they will go in when we are all finished. The corn is going to take up the 4 squares in the middle, then around the outside will be the different grains. I have made them a graph with the grains names on them so they can follow up with how fast they each grow in our climate.

This is the kids school garden bed and is located at the top left of my garden (pics here). It is 4ft by 4ft and Alex measured and marked it off for a square foot garden yesterday.

The one main grain of the world we can not grow here in the Pacific NW is rice. I was bummed at first. But as we were planning our vacation for CA next month, I realised that we will be able to drive right past the rice patties! So we can do a mini unit study on rice just before we leave and then try to see as much as we can of the way they grow on our trip, and the kids 'grains of the world' lesson will be complete. I have to admit to being very excited about being able to fit rice in the study so perfectly.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

A big huge owie...

We have had some drama going on this past couple days.

On Monday, I started to feel kinda yucky just before my husband and I set out on our weekly date. I made the choice to stay home and sleep instead of go out. I really wasn't feeling good and I wanted to rest so I was ready for my busy week ahead. I was talking my husband through making dinner before I went back to bed when Logan started screaming.

I walked into the other room, and Logan came out holding his hand, which was covered in blood. Alex and Cyan were both crying and it took me about 2 seconds to figure out that we were headed to the ER. Logan had gotten his right ring finger slammed in the hinge side of the door and it took most of the pad of his finger off. I snatched him up, grabbed a clean towel, wrapped his hand and started putting pressure on it. I called to Don, while running to the car, and he got in and we drove to the ER. I called a friend to come be with the other kids (which was such an amazing blessing!) and we headed off.

I kept pressure on it for most of the next two and a half hours before we got in to get it stitched up. We only looked at it twice, but man... it was enough to turn my stomach. What a horrible wound! Logan was doing alright. It hurt quite a bit, partially because I was putting pressure on it, but I really wanted it to keep the bloodflow restricted so that when I released it, it would bleed on it's own and they would not have to poke it or anything to get it ready for the stitches. When we got into the back of the ER, the doctor told us that there may be some other damage that we couldn't see, but he was going to put the skin back in place, and then they would X-ray to see if it was broken.

They had to put Logan into a full body restraint, but amazingly enough, he did alright with it. I laid next to him, and put his favorite music on my iPhone and played a toddler flash card application with him while they stitched him up and he only cried for a second.... then was telling us what bears say, and whether or not he liked bananas as they were stitching up his now numb finger. He was doing WAY better than me. I had to hand the game over to Don several times so I didn't get sick.

It took them over an hour to do the stitches (his finger is so little and was so damaged), but when it was done, Logan seemed almost like normal. (Toddlers are amazingly resilient!) In the end, he had 9 stitches in the tip of his itty bitty ring finger to put it all back into place.

They left him on the restraint board while they took the x-rays, and then we were able to hold him again and he even asked to go potty. He was just amazing through the whole thing. It was about then that I started caring that I didn't have on shoes or a bra. I mean, after all, I was about to go to bed when it happened! Don gave me his sweatshirt and I just padded around in socks the rest of our time there. What else could I do?

Around 11pm we got home, but on our way, the Dr called and said that Logan's finger was fractured and since it was an open wound, he would need to be on a heavy dose of antibiotics for the next 5 days. That is not my favorite thing, but when the alternative is bone infection, better to be on the safe side. We got the kids all picked up, home and in bed, and Don headed back for the prescription.

Between the time that he left and the time he got back, my health took a big fat turn for the worse, and I ended up throwing up for the next 24 hours. Whatever I was getting before we left, decided to take the advantage of me being pumped full of adrenalin and when I crashed, I crashed hard.

Today Logan is doing fine and I am sore, but on the mend. Thank God. And I am just very, very grateful that he didn't loose his finger. We go to see the pediatric orthopedic surgeon tomorrow morning to have the dressing taken off for the first time, and honestly, I am dreading that. But it really helps that he seems nearly back to normal. He is very protective of his bandage (which is great), but other than that, he has been his feisty self for the last 24 hours.

My sweet goofy boy.


Monday, April 12, 2010


Logan is getting so big. Three weeks ago, my three year old son has basically potty trained himself.

I decided that before we went to CA in May, we would attempt potty training. I was a bit worried, as my potty training style of choice was the 'run around half naked' method. Both my other children's birthdays are in July, so around their 3rd birthday this method was an easy choice and it worked like a charm (taking less than a month, which is good by most records). But with a birthday in January, this isn't such a easy option. He would have to master taking off clothes at the same times as the potty training. We were concerned with the complicated nature of what we were asking of him, but we thought we would try anyway.

The first day was rocky. He had one big accident that almost made us give up the whole thing, because it involved poop in his hands. Blech! Sorry if that was TMI... there is no more. Promise. Why there is no more is because he didn't have another accident. He peed and pooped in his pants once, on the way (running!) to the bathroom on day two... but other than that, he has been dry and clean. And here is the kicker... he has even been dry at night!

Talk about a shock. I never even imagined that potty training could be so easy. I am amazed with him and his new found (and very well respected) ability. He is getting SO big!

He is still my boy though...



"Fire!! Oh yeah! Mama, I got one!"

"One what honey?"

"Dos ducks! Hahahaha!" in his best evil laugh.



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Farm School

On Friday we had the opportunity to go to Farm School with our homeschool group. It was a wonderfully informative class, if a bit rushed. I was amazed at just how many products are produced in Washington state. It is, by far, one of the easiest states to live locally.
While we were there we were instructed on the proper raising of dairy cows, the milking of the cows, and milk products. One thing I learned is that it takes 45 gallons of water to drink per day to make 8 gallons of milk. WOW! That is a lot. I do remember when I was nursing, trying to get 90 oz of water in my system per day (esp when I was running a lot and nursing at the same time). I can just imagine that is about how those cows have to do it. Only on a huge scale, cuz I was surely not making 8 gallons per day of milk!

The kids sat with rapt attention while our instructor made cottage cheese strait from buttermilk, milk, and lemon juice. It was pretty amazing! We were not allowed to taste it (due to regulations) but it smelled just like warm cottage cheese. I think we are going to try it in school this week.

Afterwards, we got to go into the barn and visit the other farm animals. There were ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, goats and sheep. We got to pet the goats and chick, and also a sweet angora bunny that was snuggled in it's pen, waiting to be petted.
What a fun day!