Monday, August 25, 2014

First day of school

We had our first day of school today!  We had latkes and applesauce to celebrate.

We did Bible time together.  The kids chose what Bible book they want to write for handwriting.

Isaac: Proverbs  
Melody: Esther   
Grace: Exodus   
Charity: Genesis
Mom: Philippians

We began memorizing Isaiah 40:28-31, thinking it was a good verse to use when we get discouraged or school gets hard to do.

We sang a few hymns together, choosing "Across the Lands" as our song of the week.

For missions, we found Alaska on the map and talked a little about what life is like for the McGee family.

Then we did a few oral math problems to warm up with.

That was the end of Isaac's schoolwork for today, since he isn't really starting until next week.  We're giving him a week off now that he is done teaching clubs.  He was away from home for seven weeks this summer, so he needs a few days to get back into the routine of home life before school starts.

Melody found her last pace for math from last year and started working on it.  Grace and Charity and I began level B of Rightstart Math.

Lunch was CSA veggies and pickle/cream cheese/natural lunch meat wraps.

I found a unit study that I bought many years ago about scrapbooking and we are going to start the year with that.  We did the first lesson, introducing the spelling list and making a map of our favorite places to put in our scrapbooks.  The girls also wrote a verse for handwriting that they will use in their scrapbooks.  Because this unit study includes copywork for each day, we probably won't begin writing our book of the Bible until after the next four weeks.

Grace and Charity reviewed a little music by playing the organ.  Melody explored some of the games on the Music Learning Community website that I bought a membership with.

Isaac and I did his back-to-school shopping after Bruce got home.  Then we had a pork roast, homemade french fries, and a yellow squash casserole for dinner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are you in the box?

We have had our puppy for two days.  At Gabby's first home, she lived in a cardboard box like a lot of puppy litters.  She and her siblings had mastered the art of escape a few days before we brought her home.

I am home alone tonight, and I wanted to wash dishes while keeping Gabby close to me.  I brought in a large piece of cardboard to separate the kitchen from the living room, so she had to stay with me in the kitchen.  I put it in the doorway and walked across the room to wash the dishes.  Gabby saw the cardboard and didn't pay any more attention to me.  She immediately started trying to climb over. Again and again, she tried to climb over the box, only to slide to the bottom and begin anew.  Finally, she gave up, sat down, and cried the most pitiful cry.  I stood across the room from her, washing dishes.  I sang to her; I talked to her; I scolded her.  She cried.

At last, I walked across the room and stood by her.  "Gabby! You're OK.  You don't need anything over there!"

Those puppy eyes looked up at me.  She stopped crying, and her whole body wagged with joy.  I walked across the room to continue washing the dishes with her little body weaving between my feet.  She curled up on my feet, warm and soft.  Within moments, she gave a little shudder and fell fast asleep.

Gabby saw the box and thought she had to get out, not realizing she was free and could be with me whenever she wanted to.  I think that so often I see the box I'm in, not realizing that God has already gotten me out of it.  I live in bondage when He has given me my freedom.  I cry and feel alone, and all the while He is there beside me if I would only get my eyes off the box and look at Him.

Are you in the box?

New puppy!

We got our puppy yesterday!  Three years ago, my son said, "Mom, I really like Cocoa (a friend's dog).  If she ever has puppies, could we get one?"  Knowing that puppies were not in my friend's plans, I said, "Sure."  Three years later, Cocoa had puppies.  Five sweet little furry bundles.  Yesterday, we brought Gabby (short for Gabriel) home.  

We've read a couple books on puppy training and have decided on a style that is almost like attachment parenting, but with a dog.  We keep her on a leash connected to our belt, taking turns having her with us all the time.  If we can't be corded to her, we put her in her crate.  She did well yesterday, having just one small accident in the house.  She cries when we put her in the crate, but she started settling down a little bit.  I'm afraid my son didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but she kept the crate clean for seven hours!

She is a sweet little girl and so much fun!

Gabby and Isaac

Friday, August 1, 2014

Grocery Store Math

My three daughters and I walked into the grocery store with $30 and a mission.  We needed to pack a picnic lunch for two different days, one for four and one for six people.  It had to be easily portable and fun to eat, as well as gluten-free.

We ended up with Greek yogurt, rice crackers, and melon for a fruit salad and spent $28.  Is that a lot of money for two meals?  Yes!  Way more than I usually spend per meal with a monthly budget of $500 for groceries and bulk foods for my family of six.    (For you math people, that comes out to about $1 per person per meal.)  On the other hand, it is less than we would spend if we went out to dinner?  Oh yeah.  It comes out to $2.80 per person per meal.   It is hard to go out to a fast food place for that price.

So how did we go about shopping?  I told the girls when we went in that we had $30 to spend.  I suggested that we look for fruit for $1 lb. or less.  After wandering the produce section for a while, my oldest spotted melon on sale for $.66 per lb.  Bingo!  We chose a honeydew, a cantaloupe, and half a watermelon.  Moving on to the dairy section, we decided Greek yogurt would  be a healthy and filling choice, but we didn't want fat-free.  It was a challenge to find full-fat yogurt, but we finally did.  It was $1.39 per cup.  But let's see: if we buy a four-pack, the price goes down to $1 a cup.  For 25% savings, we can all eat the same flavor.  So for $4, we got three four packs.  Some gluten-free crackers would go great with that!  Oh, wow!  Instead of $3.49 like usual, the rice crackers were on sale for $1.99.  We picked out six boxes.  Oh, oh.  We'd better go weigh the melon.  The cantaloupe and honeydew were 6 lbs. or $4 each.  The watermelon half was 4.5 lbs. or about $3  Our total in the cart was $36 dollars.  Oops!  Something had to go back.  Not the yogurt; it was the main dish.  We really like the crackers, but here, hold $4 worth of crackers, now hold $4 worth of melon.  Which do you think will be more filling?  OK, let's put back three boxes of crackers.  When we went through the checkout, we spent $28.

Mission accomplished!  Not only that, but we will have a box of crackers left over.  We should also have enough melon salad for another meal and two extra yogurt cups.

Math in the grocery store: homeschooling and life skills merging beautifully.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rummage Sale

We made it through our rummage sale!

What craziness!  What busyness!

I made $75 at our rummage sale, and my mom and grandma each made some money as well.  That wasn't as much as I wanted to make, but I was able to order Blessed Assurance with the money that I earned.  I'm looking forward to using that curriculum this year with all four children.  I love unit studies that we can all do together.  It not only makes planning and executing my school day easier, but it also helps us to bond so much better as a family when we are working on something with a common goal.  Of course, everyone gets different assignments based on their abilities.

We sold about 5 two foot long boxes of books, along with several puzzles and games and a couple of desk chairs.  It was a good weekend.

We really enjoyed the firefighters parades and games.  Our community hosted the annual firefighters games for our state this year and the activities coordinated with the community rummage sale.  Unfortunately, that meant that I missed out on watching the games, but my dad brought the girls down to watch.  They enjoyed the games, but the highlight of the weekend by far was splashing in the puddles made by the firemen's hoses!

A pile of uniforms after one of the games

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What do my daughters know?

I'm planning the new school year.  I thought I had it all planned out.  It looked good on paper, but I just didn't feel at peace about my plan.  Have you ever been there?

I prayed about it.  Prayed a lot.  And I still didn't feel comfortable with my very good school plan.  Then the Lord brought to my remembrance a curriculum that I used four years ago with my oldest (and the younger ones as they were able).  It is called Prepare and Pray, and it teaches many survival and homesteading skills while going through Swiss Family Robinson as a unit study. 

I enjoyed doing it with my son and planned on doing it again as the girls grew up.  But I wasn't planning on it this year.  It requires a lot of teacher involvement (read big time commitment) and the willingness to make messes and go out of my comfort zone sometimes.  I wanted an easy school year this year.  

But such is not to be.  And I'm OK with that, because I can look at my plan for the year and smile and know it will be good this year.  We will have fun.  We will learn.  

I don't know if I'm going to follow the book exactly; my plan right now is to pick skills to work on along with the Bible memory and studies in Prepare and Pray.  I'll do some of the writing and science as well.  I hope to continue to work on US History as we got almost to the Revolutionary War last year.  

I thought that a good plan before deciding what skills to work on would be to list what the girls already know.  Since Isaac already went through this, I am going to tailor it more for the girls, though he will be joining us as well.  I'll probably pick a few skills for him to work on independently.  

So, without further adieu, 

Skills my daughters possess in survival, homesteading and homemaking:
  • how to pick mint and make tea with it straight from the garden
  • how to identify several herbs by sight and smell in the garden and what they are good for (other than eating directly from the plant while standing barefoot in the middle of the garden)
  • why we prefer goat milk
  • the delights of shopping at Farmer's Market
  • how to fearlessly gather eggs from under a broody hen and where the favorite hiding places for the eggs are
  • how to pull weeds so you get the root and not just the top
  • how to wash and dry dishes
  • how to clean the bathroom
  • what foods normally have gluten in them 
  • how to catch a Houdini chicken (Isaac's quote: "Mom, our chickens are the Albert Einsteins of the Houdini world."  Translation:  They escape their pen.  Often.) 
  • how to clean and bandage a scrape 
  • how to make a great salad, including washing the greens
  • what to do if they get lost in the woods
  • at least two easy to find and identify edible wild plants in our area
  • how to safely hike with a buddy
  • how to make homemade popsicles and smoothies
  • how to climb trees (I'm not sure if this counts in this list, but they sure are good at it!)
  • how to make maple syrup and how much sap and work go into just a quart of syrup
  • what part of the plant common vegetables come from and what they look like in the garden: roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds...
  • how to pick, clean, slice and freeze strawberries
To some people, this may seem like very simple and basic knowledge.  Others might think these skills are complicated and unnecessary.  But this is where we are at on our journey of learning homesteading and related skills.  Their are other skills, but I'll not bore you with a complete list now.  There may be another list coming soon.  In the meantime, we'll be trying to learn more skills to use on our homestead in town.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Ready for our Rummage Sale

I mentioned in a previous post that we are trying to declutter by preparing to have a rummage sale.  I'm working with my mom in doing this, as we are having the sale at her house.  Today, we worked all day to organize the books that we want to sell.

ALERT: Homeschoolers accumulate a LOT of books!

My dad is a retired schoolteacher.  My mom homeschooled me through from 3rd grade through high school.  I homeschool my four children.  We have a lot of books!  Mom and I both decided that we have too many books, so we have been going through them to pick out some to eliminate from our collection.  Here is where it gets interesting: last year we moved my Grandma (former schoolteacher) to an assisted living room.  In the process, we packed up hundreds of her books.  She will not be reading them, so we are adding them to our sale as well.  Three generations of books to organize for this rummage sale.

We are seriously considering changing it from a rummage sale to a book sale.  I'll keep you posted on what we decide to do.  Right now, I need to go organize some books! See you later!