Friday, December 6, 2013

Medieval History


Our small church is blessed with about 25 families.  Ten of them homeschool and over half of the children in our church are homeschooled.  We have a wonderful time at our co-op.  We have 36 kids, so we split them up into three groups; ages 4-5, 6-9, and 10 and older.  This term I spent eight weeks teaching a medieval history class.  We are blessed that one of our homeschool moms has a cousin and her husband that teach about medieval history and do festivals.  They were more than willing to come and talk to us.  We split the kids into two groups, with an hour presentation for each group.  The kids all really enjoyed it!




Showing the little ones some clothing
Showing the girls some dresses
Chainmale
 
Making chainmale
View from the top of Bug-a-bug's medieval castle
View of the great hall



Our next term doesn't start until March as we are trying to get through the winter months without having to cancel too many due to weather.  We have one family that travels an hour to get to us so we like to be cautious with them. 

Enjoy a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-some Breakfast casseroles

Okay, so I realize its Wednesday not Tuesday.  Sorry!! 

Here's some tried and true recipes that we use when we have a lot planned and don't have time to make a breakfast. 

Southwest Sausage Bake

6-10in. flour tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
4 cans (4oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1 lb pork sausage, cooked and drained
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
10 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp each: salt, garlic salt, onion, salt, pepper, and ground cumin
2 medium tomatoes, sliced

In a greased  9x13 baking dish, layer 1/2 the tortilla strips, chilies, sausage, and cheese.  Repeat layers.  In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and seasonings.  Pour over cheese.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Remove 30 minutes before baking.  Bake uncovered for 50 minutes.  Arrange tomato slices over the top and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve with sour cream and salsa.



French Toast Bake (pioneer Woman recipe)

8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla
1.5 lb loaf of sourdough bread

Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

Cube up the bread and place it in a greased 9x13 pan.  Mix all the other ingredients together and pour on top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Mix topping ingredients together, cutting in the butter, until it is crumbly.  Put in a bag.

Take out of the fridge and sprinkle the topping on it.  Bake at 350 for one hour.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Top Ten Read Alouds for Christmas

I know, I'm early with this but sometimes its nice to look over a list and try to get some of the books before the hustle and bustle of the holidays start.

10.  Christmas at the Top of the World by Tim Coffey

9.  The Legend of the Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks

8.  The Stable were Jesus was Born by Rhonda Gowler Greene

7.  The Beautiful Christmas Tree by Charlotte Zolotow

6.  Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

5.  A Pioneer Christmas by Barbara Greenwood

4.  The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

3.  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

2.   The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

1.  An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
     ****Spoiler Alert-this one is a tear jerker.  Perhaps read it ahead of time to see if your child can handle the story. 



Enjoy the holiday season!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My family's Top Five read alouds for children

For younger elementary children, our favorite books are:

                 1.  Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace
            2. Betsy books by Carolyn Hayward
            3. Andrew Lost books by J. C. Greenburg
            4. The Littles series by John Peterson
            5. The Carole Marsh mysteries by Carole Marsh


For older elementary children, our favorite books are:

           1.  The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
           2.  Caddie Woodlawn
           3.  The Little House on the Prairie series
           4.  The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson
           5.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books


For 12 and up, our favorite books are:

         1.  Swiss Family Robinson-often overlooked by a classic.  My entire family loves this book!
         2.  Little Women
         3.  Secret Garden
         4.  Adventures of Tom Sawyer
         5.  The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy


Stay tuned for our list of favorite classics to read

Top 3 Reasons you should read aloud together as a family

1.  Reading allows you to bond together

     When I first started homeschooling I was listening to a lecture about reading aloud as a family, and I was so impressed by what the speaker said that it has stayed with me all these years.
 
     She had two sons, a senior and a 7th grader.  Both were avid readers and the entire family enjoyed listening to each other read books.  A senior!!  How many of us stop reading aloud when our children know how to read on their own?  Reading opens doors and invites you into new realms and wonderful and exciting characters.  Being able to discuss them with your family opens the door for good communication on all fronts.


2.  Good readers test well and enjoy learning

     When my son was four, I took him in for testing for speech classes.  He had several issues saying words and I wanted to get it taken care of while he was young.  At this age, we only had one other child and I read to him about four to five books a night, and countless during the day. 

    One part of the test had him pointing to pictures to identify vocabulary words.  The words started out easy and got progressively harder.  Imagine my surprise and astonishment as he correctly identified "cliff" and "celebration".  I was also a little upset thinking that I needed to do more to get my four year old up to par with these words he "should" know.  After the test, she asked me about this part and I told her that I was surprised that he knew so many words.  She was too, he tested at a 2nd grade vocabulary level and he had just turned four. 

    Reading aloud gives you the opportunity to discuss new words or information with your child.  They can interrupt and ask questions, without have to go to that pesky dictionary (that no one really ever uses because most of us just skip over a word we don't know).

3.  Reading is a better instrument of your time

     My friend bought her child a Kindle Fire.  I was excited to see how this new technology, this ability to download a book at the speed of light would enable children to read more and more books.  Imagine my surprise and shock when she told me that her child uses it to play games and not read.  What's the point then?

    In this day and age, most kids don't read for pleasure.  They read only what is required in school and then run home to their computers and video games.   Gone are the days when a child sits on the couch reading, laughing over a joke in a book and stopping to take the time to tell mom why they are laughing.  Now, kids are shut up in their rooms and they don't come out until they eat. 




Reading together opens new doors, new worlds, new friends.  Reading together enables the family to laugh, cry, or be amazed at the words on the page.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Elemental Science for Biology-Logic Stage Review




We have been homeschooling for eleven years now and I've always just done unit studies with science but this year I wanted something different.  With a sophomore knee deep in biology, I needed a curriculum that was written well that I could combine with several kids.  I found it with Elemental Science.

Elemental Science's classic science series is awesome.  Biology, Earth Science and Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics are available for both elementary and intermediate levels; the only exception is the intermediate level for Physics which is due out in 2014.  They also have a Preschool series that includes two science curriculums and a history curriculum.

The Biology Logic Stage uses two books as the spines: Encyclopedia of Nature (DK) and Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia.  There are several other reading options that include Human Body (DK), Usborne Interlinked Encyclopedia, and Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science.

The schedule for the units is broken up into two options: a two day or five day schedule.  The units are:

  • Unit 1          Introduction and Ecology
  • Unit 2          Plants
  • Unit 3          Invertebrates
  • Unit 4          Vertebrates
  • Unit 5          Animal Overview
  • Unit 6          Human Body
 
I opted to purchase the downloadable version of both the teachers edition and student pages.  With four girls going to use this program, this seemed the easiest option for me.  The $25.50 cost was very reasonable for the program, although the printed copy does have a bigger cost.
 
The student guide includes assignment sheets, unlabeled sketches, experiment pages, and blank report pages.  There are reading and writing assignments with each week.  The writing assignment pages are left blank to allow the student to summarize with an outline, summary, or do both on the reading assignment.  Vocabulary and memory work in included for each unit.  Also, each week, dates relevant to the reading assignment are entered on timeline pages.
 
The experiments are easy to do and a nice list of items that are needed are included at the beginning of the book and divided up by chapter.  I love that the experiment sheets work through the scientific method which really reinforces this method to the students.  
 
At the end of every unit is a test.  We are almost done with unit one and should be doing our test next week.  I have previewed the test and it reinforces the vocabulary and information that has been taught to the students.
 
We have thoroughly enjoyed this program.  I have already decided that we will be purchasing the next book which will be the Earth Science and Astronomy for intermediate.  I honestly cannot find any problems or issues with the program.  It is very detailed and thorough and a lot of fun for the kids and myself.
 
I really wish I had been able to get the preschool series for my two littles this year but it wasn't in the budget.  I have already decided that I will be getting the history book also for next year.   
 
 I cannot say enough good things about this program.  We love it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

I'm trying to get back into posting several times a week so I'm restarting my Tasty Tuesday and Farming Friday posts this week.

So today, I'm sharing some crock pot recipes that we have tried and enjoyed the last few weeks!! Enjoy!

Chicken Taco Soup
1 lb cooked de-boned shredded chicken
1 cup chopped onion
1 16 oz can of beans (kidney, pinto, black...the original recipe calls for two cans but my kids aren't huge fans of beans)
1 cup corn
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 14.5oz can rotel tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 packet of taco seasoning

Mix ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours, stirring several times.  Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream.



Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
2 lbs chicken, boneless, and skinless
1 cup salsa
1 cup petite diced canned tomatoes
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup onions, diced fine
3 Tbsp sour cream

Place chicken in crock pot.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over meat.  Layer other items and pour 1/2 cup water on top.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Shred meat and add back into crock pot with shredded cheese.  Stir and cook until cheese is melted.  Serve on tortillas with sour cream.


Crockpot Apple Butter
5 lbs peeled cored and finely chopped apples
4 cups sugar
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt

Put ingredients in crock pot and stir until coated.  Cook on high 3 hours, stirring every 30-45 minutes.  Then turn to low and cook another 5.5-6 hrs, stirring every hour or so.  Place in food processor or blender and puree.  Can or refrigerate.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bug....

I haven't posted lately because we've had this bug floating around.  High temperature for a few days and then about a week of a nasty dry cough.  I think we're finally on the tail end of it.  Thank goodness because I'm tired of buying cough medicine! 

We have been getting ready for winter.  It has been very cold here the last two weeks, most of the days are only in the 40s.  Little low for this time of year.  I'm glad that I ordered a load of wood before the cold hit because we've already had several fires. 

I still have to cover the raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.  I hope hoping for some nice warm days before I did that but it doesn't look like that's going to happen so I'll be out there this week getting that done.  We still have to bring the hoses in so they don't split in the cold.

Our hens finally started laying a few weeks ago.  We're getting 4-5 a day.  We have 18  hens, but like I said its starting to get cold out and they don't like the cold that much.

Our momma cat and her nine babies are doing well.  I got her a high protein cat food and been feeding her a milk supplement because she's not too big herself.  She's been eating all her food and then going out hunting so I know she's burning the calories.

Next spring we're looking at a calf and several pigs.  I have a friend that wants one so we'll be raising it with ours and it looks like the guy that I rent our back 8 acres to for his cows, wants a few also.  Doing chores for one pig or three doesn't really matter and they will all pitch in to cover the cost AND I know what goes in the animals that we are eating!  We're talking about raising hens and butchering....but that will be in a few years.  No time for that now.

On the school front, we haven't gotten everything done these last two weeks but we're getting there.  Tomorrow I will post a review on Elemental Science: Biology and what I think of it.  It has been a great program so far and we've really enjoyed it, but I'll give you the low down tomorrow.

Have a wonderful night!!  I have company coming over for WD tonight.  Can't wait!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum part 2

Laura during a book signing

Laura and Almanzo in the house that Rose built for them out of stones

Teaching school

Princess Buttercup in school

I'd never seen a wagon fully loaded before, there wasn't any room for people.
 



Doing business at the post office




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove, MN

Photo of Pa and Ma

A buffalo coat like Pa's

In front of one of Laura's quilts with Grammy

Bug-a-bug doing laundry

Photo of the Ingalls Family 1891

Trouble preaching at the church

In front of the fireplace recreated like the one on the tv series.  Michael Landon's wife and son donated the mantle that was used in the series



A painted wall just like the backdrop from the tv show

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Busy busy oh my!

School is in full swing here.  Boy Scouts, American Heritage Girls, and volunteering on day a week at our after school program has taken up most of my time.  I canned and froze produce from our garden.  I need to get out there today to pull tomatoes to make salsa and make another batch of apple butter.  My cucumbers did not do well at all.  Next year I will build a raised bed for them.  I already have plans to double the size of the raised beds I have now and add a few more.  It will  make a lot of work in the spring but we will reap a much greater reward in the fall.

My mom came in for a week.  We did a lot of shopping and explored Mankato, which is about an hour from here.  We also painted the living room.  Its so nice to have color on the wall.  I can't wait to paint the rest of the downstairs.  I've decided to go with a fall color pallet.  The living room is green and the foyer and one wall in the dining room will be a burnt orange.  The other walls will be probably a tan.  Next summer I will paint the kitchen a gold with a deep purple color for the cabinets.  I would really love to redo the kitchen but its not in the budget right now.

This week we are doing school in the  mornings.  It is supposed to be in the seventies all week long.  It won't be long before the temperatures really plummet and we have a lot of outside chores that need to be done.  I've decided to take advantage of the weather to clean out some of the barns, clean out the raised beds, prune the trees, and clean the garage.  Its also nice for the kids to get out and enjoy the weather before we're locked in for the winter.

I will hopefully post photos tomorrow of our trip to Walnut Grove, MN to the Laura Ingalls Museum.  My mom is a huge fan so we took the trip while she was here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

End of week one

It was a pretty good first week.  We had been doing reading and math for a while, so this wasn't technically our "first" week, but it was the first week we did all of our subjects.  We took Monday off and only did a half a day yesterday.   My friend is a pastor at a small church that my church just bought and the launch is today, so we took off to help out.

Princess is reading Wizard of Oz.  I caught her going through and taking from the movie and not really reading it.  I asked what color shoes Dorothy replied to which she said "red", so now she's reading it more carefully.  Bug-a-bug is reading Mouse and a Motorcycle.  They keep asking for different books but I'm sticking to my plan and they will be reading these.

Math is going pretty well for the girls.  Princess still struggles a lot.  Math is not her thing.  That's okay though, we'll just keep working until she gets it.  Bug-a-bug is doing well.

Spelling and writing are doing well so far.  I just ordered Grammar so we're waiting on that to arrive.

TL is doing okay.  I'm having a hard time getting him motivated or interested in going the extra step.  He only wants to do the minimum of what needs to be done.  Its starting to drive me a little insane.

He's doing well in math.  He had to catch up some from last year because we started Algebra so late with our move.  He seems to be doing well with it though.  I'll be giving a test this week so we'll find out more. 

He's finishing reading Mysterious Island on Monday.  It should be interesting to see what he thinks of it.  I need to finish it up myself so we can go over some questions.  Spelling is going well.

We haven't started writing yet.  I'm making him take these aptitude tests to see where his strengths lie for a profession.  He's up in the air with what he wants to do so I'm hoping that he can find some direction from this.  We did have a lot of laughs over some of the jobs listed in the back of the book.

Science
The girls have started doing Elemental Science-biology this year.  So far, its going really well and they really like it. 

TL is working on Biology.  I still have to pick up the microscope and slides for him to do his labs.  It may be another month and then we'll just have lab catch up week I guess.

History
We're working on Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Unit 20
So far, its going really well.  We technically didn't finish the week yet because we didn't have enough days.  TL had to read a bunch of primary documents this week about the onslaught of the Civil War.  We will be going over these on Monday.  I'll be interested to get his opinion on some of the things that he read.

So that's it!!  Its been busy and will be so for the next few weeks.  I'm enjoying it though!!

Have a wonderful weekend!



Monday, September 2, 2013

Busy Busy Summer

Most of the last three weeks have been keeping me busy with lesson planning and trying to control all the weeds around here.  All of the rain this spring was like miracle grow!!  I get an area all cleaned out and in a few days, they're back and two feet tall!!

The garden is doing well.  I've been able to make about 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce using the fresh green peppers and onions from the garden.  I just pulled all of the carrots tonight.  I'm hoping to get about 15 freezer quart-size bags.  I pulled enough tomatoes tonight for 6 more quarts of sauce.  I hope to make some salsa in a few days.  The pumpkins are doing well.  The potatoes seem to be doing well.  I'll be getting those in a few weeks so we'll see how they did.  I've picked three cantaloupes for us and given three away so far and there's seven more out there.  The only thing that hasn't done well is the cucumbers.  I have only canned 12 pints of pickles and right now I only have five that I picked tonight.  I guess I'll make relish out of those.  I don't think I will get more cucumbers this year.  Oh well.  I didn't plant green beans or corn this year and I already have made plans to expand the garden next year.  Doubling some items and tripling other spots. 

Other than that, here's what's been going on lately:

We celebrated Princess Buttercup's fourth birthday!!


 
 
 
Bug-a-bug was baptized!




 
 
We had a cousin visit!!




TL tested for his purple belt!


video


And I got a job!!  I will be teaching online to homeschoolers at Home Education Council of America.  I'm putting together my high school and junior high American history classes right now.  I'm hoping that the first semester will be up and running by the end of the month.  We'll see though....with all this produce and the apples now coming in, not sure how this will work!

I'm off for now.  Still have a few things to do before we start homeschooling tomorrow!  Have a wonderful week everyone!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our schoolroom

This post is part of the schoolroom hop at:





When we bought our homestead last year, we were blessed with a large room that we converted to our schoolroom.  We've been homeschooling for ten years and its really nice to have an actual schoolroom.  The paint is still drab olive green but I've been tossing around colors to change it too.  Our schoolroom runs a little into the hallway to the bath and my bedroom.  I'm converting one of those walls to a chalkboard for the littles to have fun on.



 
The above photo is the view looking out of the schoolroom windows into the front yard.  You'll have to ignore the glare.  I refuse to put up any curtains to destroy the view.  I love it too much.  After living in military housing for so long and having your neighbor a few feet away, window coverings were essential.  I am enjoying my new freedom!
 
 
 
 Excuse the giant black lump on the floor.  The dog had landed there and now that he's getting older, its getting harder for him to get up.  The bookcase to the left of the picture with the clock on top holds our puzzles, math items, and books for everyone to read.  I have a large bean bag chair upstairs and I'm getting another to put in front of the desk so the kids can sit and read.  The space on the floor is big enough for the littles to play or do puzzles.  The orange carpet is some remnants from our church that were never used that they were going to throw away.  Not exactly the best color, but it works to cover and protect the oak floor.  The large bookcase in the back holds our books.  I need to get another bookcase because there are several shelves where the books are two layers deep.  Also, my two shelves for history are totally full, and I have to add in this years' books yet.  The desk was left here by the previous owner.  It is huge and wears about two hundred pounds.  Its a great surface for me to lay out all my books and do lesson planning, however, it always looks a mess. 


 
 
 
 Here are three of our school desks.  My teen does work up in his room.  My father made each of these desks and I just love them.  They have one drawer, which is perfect.  The shelf in the corner holds our art supplies, games, and science kits.  The crate on the floor behind the desk holds all of the notebooks and schoolbooks for my oldest daughter.  The second daughter's desk is next to mine and the littles are in the center of the window.  They don't have crates because they are still really in workbooks.


This is the view out of our front windows.  Now you know why I refuse to cover them up.  We sometimes pause during the day to watch turkeys, deer, squirrels, or birds. 

Thanks for stopping into our schoolroom!!

Fun with Grandpa!









Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blog hop-curriculum



This is for the Blog Hop at iHomeschool Network.

I finally have all of our curriculum laid out for this next year.

TL will be in Tenth Grade:

History:  Tapestry of Grace Year 3/4 

Science: Bob Jones Biology

Math: Bob Jones Geometry

Language Arts:  SAT Flashcards
                                  SAT Daily Prep
                        Essentials in Writing
                        Easy Grammer
                        Literature:  Great Gatsby, Two Shakespeare plays, Old Man and
                        the Sea, Last of the Mohicans, Huckleberry Finn, All Quiet on
                        the Western Front, Animal Farm, The Glass Menagerie, Diary of
                        Anne Frank, and some Sherlock.

Spanish:  Bob Jones Year 1

Computer:     Several misc books from my college class

Art:     To include a study of drawing and different artists

Bible:  Reading from Bible
          Trail Guide to Bible Geography

Also working on Discover What You're Best At and Study Strategies Made Easy


Princess will be in Sixth Grade

History: Tapestry of Grace Year 3/4
 
Science:  Elemental Science Biology

Math:   Bob Jones 6

Language Arts:  All About Spelling
                        Easy Grammar and Daily Grams
                        Essentials in Writing
                        Building Thinking Skills
                        Vocab Connection
                        Literature:  Wizard of Oz, On the Banks of Plum Creek, The
                        Long Winter, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Island of Blue
                        Dolphins, The Bridge to Terabithea

Geography:  Passport Club
                   Trail Guide to US Geography

Art:  To include a study of drawing and different artists

Bible:  Readings from Bible and memorization


Bug-a-Bug will be in Fifth Grade

History: Tapestry of Grace Year 3/4
 
Science:  Elemental Science Biology

Math:   Bob Jones 5

Language Arts:  All About Spelling
                        Easy Grammar and Daily Grams
                        Essentials in Writing
                        Building Thinking Skills
                        Vocab Connection
                        Literature:  Wizard of Oz, On the Banks of Plum Creek, The
                        Long Winter, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Island of Blue
                        Dolphins, Mouse and the Motorcycle, Charlotte's Web

Geography:  Passport Club
                   Trail Guide to US Geography

Art:  To include a study of drawing and different artists

Bible:  Readings from Bible and memorization


Daisy will be in first Grade

Math:  Horizons

Reading:  Sing Spell Read and Write
               My Printing
               Explode the Code
               All About Spelling

Science:  My Body
              Learning about Weather
              Learning about Animals

Art:  To include a study of drawing and different artists

Bible:  Readings from Bible and memorization


Buttercup will be in Preschool

Rod and Staff books

Hanging out with us and picking up whatever she wants to


As far as extra curricular activities, TL attends Taekwondo twice a week and Boy Scouts.

Princess, Bug-a-bug and Daisy will be attending American Heritage Girls

All will be attending the co-op at our church.  We also have many other functions within our church that we do so the kids are always busy.  We attend an afterschool program at our church once a week. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Planning update

Last year I went back to my homeschool tracker program in January.  I really love the ease of putting all the lesson plans into a grid and then moving them over to the assignment grid each week and being able to print out a daily to do list for the kids. 

I should say that its easy, after its all put into the program.

I am currently putting in all the lesson plans for the year into this program.  For some subjects, like math, its extremely easy.  Others like history or science, not so much.  For those subjects, I have to sort lessons outs and I'm working on making note sheets for the kids.  For example, TL's biology has the reading assignment, vocab words, and questions all ready for him to work on.  Its taking some time to do this, but once its done, I can use it for all five kids so no problems really.  Same thing with History.  We use Tapestry of Grace so I design sheets for the kids to take notes and work off of each week.  It seems to work out much better for them and me.  I know, I make a lot of work for myself but I'm OCD and everything has to have a place.

On the farm:
We're starting to get some veggies in.  The massive load should be in a few weeks and then I'll be canning canning canning!

The chickens are getting huge!!  We need to finish up their nesting boxes and do a little clean up to their coop.

My dad is here right now and has been busy for the last ten days doing projects with the kids.  They power washed the deck and put a new screen door on.  TL and dad put up motion lights outside the barns because we don't have any outside lights here and it gets dark!!  Dad also fixed the lights inside the big barn and outside of the garage.  And he fixed the exhaust fan from the bathroom....the pipe was filled with bird nest fixins.  And most importantly he fixed the shower.  I think all of his projects are done except to help me hang up stuff in the house.  We still don't have anything on the walls.

In the house:
I made my own laundry detergent the other day.  No problems at all; it was easier than I thought.  It seems to clean the clothes just fine so I don't have any problems with that.  I've also started using vinegar mixed with essential oils for softener.  Works great!!

I hope to work on making some mixes for taco and ranch seasonings.  And I'm going to be blessed with a freezer (mine died a few months ago) next week so I can start working on stocking up again and freezing some meals. 

I also hope to get the living room and dining room painted in the next few weeks. 

And I'm still doing cleanup outside.  The weeds shot up during our two months of rain and then I didn't have a weed eater, so you can imagine how it looks.

Take care everyone and have a blessed week!!

Michelle

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer....

Summer has finally arrived here the last few weeks.  We've enjoyed rain only once or twice a week instead of every day.  I'm still trying to weed eat around the farm and the garden beds as those areas are about two to three feet high.  All that rain just fed those weeds.  I did just pull out a bunch of them, it was easy peasy to do because the soil was so wet.

The chickens are huge and running around the yard.  They love to perch up in the corn crib, which is the barn where their coop is.  I don't think they realize that that's not entirely theirs, but whatever.   We should start getting eggs in another two months but first we have to build more nesting boxes.  I didn't expect thirty chickens and up till this week all have survived.  We lost one the other day to illness.  I pulled it out and gave it medicine but it didn't make it. 

TL returned from boy scout camp this week.  He had a great time and really got to know some of the boys.  He was appointed ASPL during camp, which is great.  He has two eagle required merit badges to work on during this summer/fall to earn life hopefully by Christmas.  I think he's excited to see how close he is to Eagle.

The girls have made an entire list of badges to work on for American Heritage girls.  I hope to go through one or two this summer.  They will also earn three at camp, which is in August.  I know they are a little nervous, but they will have a great time.

I've been working on lesson plans.  I hope to have most of them done before August.  My dad comes this week though and we'll be doing projects around the house so not sure how much I will get done.

I've designed our school year as I've wanted it in the past but never really been able to do it.  We will start August doing math, spelling, and reading.  September we will start a full schedule through the second week of June.  We will take a week off in September because my mom comes.  I have figured out that we will have seven weeks of school and then one off.  I will change up the weeks if I have to for visits from Kevin or my parents.

Here's how it looks so far:
                  August 5-Sept 20     school
             Sept 23-27              off
            Oct 30-Nov 15          school
            Nov 18-22                off
            Nov 25-Dec 20th       school
            Dec 23-Jan 3            off-Christmas break
            Jan 6-Feb 21            school
            Feb 24-28                off
            March 3-April 18       school
            April 21-25               off
            April 28-June 13       school

This gives us 39 full weeks of school.  I plan to school on most of the holidays that schools are off or we will do field trips those days.  The Christmas break will be flexible depending on when Kevin comes home. 

This week we'll be working with Grandpa and enjoying the pond up the street.  We swim all summer on a family pass which is pretty cheap.  Love fun summer days!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cow chasin'

Seriously, I need to write a book.  We went to our friend's house last night and got home around 10:30.  I pulled into the driveway and my lights hit the cow standing out in front of the barn..........which means they got lose out of the pasture.  It moved into the pasture which holds my garden and there were the rest happily munching away.  I was upset thinking that they were eating my plants but they didn't.  Anyway, they went over and stood next to the gate that led them into the pasture with the barn so we opened it up.  Two got spooked and took off in the other direction.

It was dark.  Pitch black and we don't have any lights outside on the farm and I can't get the ones to work that are here.  When the previous owner comes next month I will have him show me the trick of turning the lights on.  But I digress.

Here we are hunting them in the dark.  We found the gate they got out of.  TL and his friend had gotten rid of some weeds for me and forgot to close the gate.  I felt bad because I had to call the owner so late because I couldn't remember how many cows there were.....he was adding some and took some home, another one had had a calf.....too much for my little mind to keep track of.

The other two had ended up going through the gate before we shut it and got back in themselves.  In the end, we caught all before the owner even got there and he only lives ten minutes away.

good times.  good times on the homestead!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Been so so busy

May and June we had about forty inches of rain.  I didn't have a weed eater, so my trim and around the garden beds got to be about two feet tall.  This was the first week of sun we've had, and I've been working all week and haven't made a dent in the trim and weed eating.  Guess what I'll be doing this week?

I spent thirty hours selling fireworks at a tent in front of Wally World to raise funds for our church.  We have a building we call the Refuge with a large gym and a large game room.  We offer free after school programs for K-6th grade and open it up to the teens every Friday night.  We include free snacks in with this, so it takes a lot of money to run.  The town where our church is has about 600 people, and we have about 125 kids run through the programs each week.

I also had to get TL ready for boy scout camp, he returns today.  Today is the first day of rain in a week and its pouring.  I hope they're a little drier up there trying to pack up.

Last week we also hosted a boy scout troop from NE on their way to camp in WI.  They need a place to over night and I offered my place.  They were going to set up their tents but didn't arrive until almost dark as the youngest had gotten car sick.  There were four boys and two leaders so we had boys all over the living room.  I tell you, they were the nicest boys ever.  They played dolls with the little ones and let Bug-a-bug do their hair.  They even took time out of camp this week to get together and call and wish Bug-a-bug happy birthday.  We are excited as they have asked if they could stop in again on their way home and relax with us.  Of course we said yes!!

And of course it was Bug-a-bug's tenth birthday this year.  She's very excited that she will be getting her military id soon. 


I'm busy trying to work on lesson plans and some sort of schedule for next year while trying to keep up with the inside and outside.  I made a new chore chart and it seems to be helping a lot.  I'm also trying to work on a few wallhangings to get up when my dad comes next week.  I hope to do some painting while he's here and he can take the kids out for a while so I don't have to worry about them putting their hand in the paint.  Right now we have nothing on the walls and I really want to get stuff up soon.....we've almost lived here for a year already!

Garden produce should be coming in soon.  I'll be a canning mad woman.  I haven't canned in about twenty years so this aught to be interesting.    I'm also working on making our own laundry soap and softener this month.  I buy from a wellness company but we just can't afford it anymore....its too pricey.


So just super busy this summer.  I hope to take the kids to some state parks and check them out on the cooler days and already have field trips lined up to a Civil War Reenactment and a Pow Wow in Sept.  Oct we will hit the zoo and another state park.  I plan on doing a field trip once a month if I can.

Take care all and enjoy your summer!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cow Tippin'

I grew up in a rural area where the farmers were just starting to fizzle out and the reaches of the city were extending into the rural areas with new subdivisions and new laws telling families that they couldn't have cows or horses anymore.

Still, we had plenty of fun catching tadpoles, playing with the barn cats, getting lost in corn fields, and always joking about cow tippin'.

When I started working in Buffalo, many of my "city" friends wanted to know if I'd ever been cow tippin'.  Seriously, did they really think you could walk up and push over a cow ranging from 500-1000 pounds?  Yes they probably did.

We had a septic system at my house and of course a leech bed in the yard where the grass was really green and long.  Once I invited my city friends over and they wanted to know about area of the yard to which I replied, "its the leech bed."  They wanted to know if there were really leeches out in it to which I sarcastically replied that yes there were and we used them to drain off our blood when we were ill just like in years past.  I still wonder if some of them believed me or not.

As you all know, we've had quite a few eventful weeks with things breaking and leaking around here.  So last night, I went to shut the chicks up for the night and I noticed our dog on the other side of our fence in the neighbors bean field.  The cows that are in our back pasture were bellowing so I figured he was bugging them and I had no idea how he got out there.  So, I called him and he appeared at my side.......the black animal on the other side of the fence was one of the calves.  It was dusk and I really didn't look thinking it was Shadow.  So we called out Trey and the owner of the cows came over and we chased the calf threw the bean field and back to her mama.  It was quite the adventure.

I silently pictured cow tippin' the whole time the Green Acres theme was running through my head.

So, then last night I'm on the phone with Kevin relaying the events.  He tells me that he would have chased the calf around the property to get her back up into one of the front pens. (The cows are in the back eight acres of fenced area.  The front four acres are divided into four pastures and the house area.....all of which is fenced except for the driveway).  I kinda thought that was  a lot of work trying to drive her so far when the gate was fifteen feet from where she was at.  And then he told me that he would have just chased it, caught it, and put it back with its mama.  I told him next time he was home I was going to have Dan bring a calf into the back eight acres and watch him "chase and catch it".  I'll have my video camera ready.  Let the chuckles and snorting begin!!  hehe