Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Civil War

We are a Tapestry of Grace family and we absolutely love it.  I love that we get to read some fantastic history books and really dive deep into events that shape our world.  I love to study history chronologically.  It makes sense doesn't it, to study events as they happened and not be concerned as to whether they are just American history or World history events.  How can you truly understand the Louisiana Purchase without studying the French Revolution and Napoleon.

One of the things that drove me into studying history chronologically was the desire for my child to understand events and their relationship with other events.  I was very thankful for this decision one day when my son had his public school friend over and he pulled out history textbook.  The fourth grade text studied Ancient Egypt, the Civil War, and World War II in the same year.  Now, don't get me wrong, they are all significant but we are doing our children a disservice trying to instruct them on historical events and not at least introduce them in a chronological manner.  No wonder these poor children don't know what happened when.  Memorizing dates is irrelevant if you cannot put it all in perspective time-wise.

Okay, I'm off my rant now.  One of the other things I love about Tapestry of Grace is the flexibility.  We are just about ending the Civil War and I'm taking the opportunity to take an extra week to really dive deep into some material.  The reading is excellent but Ken Burn's Civil War series on Netflix is fantastic.  (on a side note, we'll also be using his West series to take a trip to study in depth the Plain Indians and Continental Railroad).  The girls are working on a lapbook that TL did years ago when we studied the Civil War from Hands of a Child.  I'm excited because the girls really enjoy doing the lapbooks still.  

I don't think we will be doing a large unit project this time.  I think instead, we will be working on these additional items and saving time for a larger unit project at the end of next session.

Have a wonderful and safe week!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hump day

Is it just  or is anyone else having problems getting back into the groove after the holidays?  Maybe its because our weather was so cold last week?  I really have no idea but the kids and I are both struggling to get out of bed in the morning and get on task.  The girls are doing well and finishing their work around lunchtimes but TL takes a while, of course, his is more intense so I expect it to take longer.

Many of our activities last week were cancelled due to the weather.  Maybe that's why?  No idea.

Don't get me wrong, we're completing our work but it seems to take forever!!

Have a good week!  I'll do my weekly update on Friday!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Survival Saturday

This week has me focusing on my garden.  Yes, we just go through a polar vortex with -25 degree temps and -50 degree wind chills but its never to earn to plan out.

I went to raised beds last year after moving in for two reasons.  The first was that without Kevin here, I quite frankly did not want to put in the power to rototill up a garden.  Second, I found out that the previous owner had dumped sand over the entire property.  I was glad I made that choice.  I grew cucumbers and pumpkins in their "garden" area and didn't get squat.  Literally, I had about 10 half pints of pickles and that's it.  The pumpkins didn't grow big or well at all either.  It was sad.

I also know that this year I needed to double the size of my garden and add on some extra veggies.  I'm adding beets, broccoli, and green beans.  I'm doubling the size of the carrot and tomato beds and making others larger too.  I'm hoping to really get a lot out of our garden this year and I'm looking forward to stocking up my shelves with canned goods.

Last year I planted three small blueberry plants, six raspberry plants, and 25 strawberry plants.  This year I'm adding a large blueberry bush, 2 blackberry plants and another 25 strawberry plants.

In the tree department, I planted three plum trees (semi-dwarf) and one cherry tree.  I was going to add more but we had crazy rain for three months.  To be honest, I'm surprised I got anything out of the garden last year.  I will be adding two pear trees, three peach trees, and hopefully 4 dwarf apple trees.  We have three full size apple trees on our property but they have never been ever.  The fruit last year was super small, although we did get a lot of it.  I worked on pruning a little last year and will be continuing to do so for the next few years until its where it should be.  I don't want to do it all at once or the poor trees will probably die of shock!  I will also be weeding out fruit this year to get less but larger apples. 

As far as our emergency stock pile, I have a new plan this year.  Last year I wanted to have a two month supply and ended up with a three week supply, but that's okay.  I now have enough stock that if I run out of something I don't have to run to the store, which is great because it is a drive to get somewhere.  This year I will be stalking  surveying the ads to follow the sales and then will be stocking up on only one or two items to build up my supply faster.  I have made a list of priority items such as rice, beans, veggies, canned fruit, etc and hope to get a nice stock going.

Also on my agenda today is to complete my emergency binder.  I have printed out all the pages and have filled in important information and names and addresses.  I will be just transferring that information and adding social security cards, birth certificates, etc to complete the binder.  We've always had everything in one expandable file that we have carried from one duty station to another that we amply named "life".  "Life" will have a new home and be totally organized.  Wonderful!!

So what are you doing or stocking up on?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Under the Artic Chill

I didn't blog much in December.  Hubby was home on leave for 17 days, which was wonderful.  He's back in CA now enjoying the 60 degree temps.  Today we're at a -20 air temp and -50 degree wind chill.  He called this morning to see how we faired the night, pretty good.  I managed to get up every hour until 3am to feed the fireplace.  The girls slept downstairs.  This old farmhouse is pretty drafty and the upstairs is about 5-7 degrees colder than downstairs.  TL had the space heater in his room.  I'm keeping the furnace set at 65 or it never shuts off.  This summer, I plan on removing all the trim from the windows and sealing them better.  I have some other ideas as to how to keep the drafts down to a minimum.

Today was our first day back to school.  We accomplished math, reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and geography.  I never plan a full day when returning to school after three weeks off.  My kids are also upset because their public school friends have the day off due to the cold, so the short day works out well.  My son can soon get online and play xbox with his buddy, so he's happy.

This week marks the end of our second quarter.  I will have the kids grades all posted and ready to give them on Friday afternoon.  I have new plans for our next term.

For literature, I plan on printing questions off and having the kids answer some aloud, some written, and do some essay writing.  Up until now, we've only do discussions, but I want to increase their writing skills so we're stepping this up.

I also plan on printing off the teen's sheets for biology, history, and literature and putting them in a bound book.  He is the most disorganized kid I know.  He takes the sheets out of his notebook, never returns them, and then cannot find them.  Quite frankly, I'm tired of him having to take up school time to find items.  It drives my OCD crazy.  So in order to save my own sanity, I will print and bind....he can't lose them then.  The girls don't have a problem with this so its find.  Maybe they have inherited my OCD? 

I'm excited for the second half of the year.  One of my goals with getting everything printed and ready is to be better organized and prepared myself.  I will be starting my master's degree probably in March and I need to have homeschooling ready to go and under control. 

Have a wonderful week and stay safe and warm!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Survival Plan

This year I'm starting a new emergency prep system.  I have posted before on my emergency preps and I did pretty well last year.  I have enough food to last about three weeks.  My goal was two months so I didn't quite make my goal.  I had to use some of my stock several times this year due to unexpected expenses coming up.  I hope to build up this year to a three month supply of food items.

This time I am going to focus on shopping on one item each week by scouring the ads for sales.  I'm going to determine how much our family needs for a three month supply and work on achieving that goal.  Our garden did well this year but I need to double the size of it to get us through the year with canned goods.  I'm also planting more fruit trees and bushes.  They will not produce for a few years, but at least I have all of that to look forward too.

Last year I planted three plums trees, 25 strawberry plants, 6 raspberry plants, three blueberry bushes, and one cherry tree.  This year I hope to add, 25 more strawberry plants, three peach trees, three pear trees, six apple trees (these are dwarf trees that only reach about 6 feet.  We have three large apple trees on the property already but they have never been pruned and we didn't get a lot of large fruit off of them.), 2 more blueberry bushes, three blackberry bushes, one more cherry tree, and two cranberry plants.  I've also redesigned our raised beds to make room for many more plants.  I'm hoping that I will be able to get enough canned this year to use the entire year next year. 

We will also be getting a half of beef this spring and half a pig.  We're hoping to raise a pig for ourselves and get a beef calf this spring.  The pig will be ready by the time we run out of pork but the cow will take a while.  We hope to get another calf every six months so that we will always have beef when we want it.  We are going to split the cow with a friend of ours so neither of us have to try to find freezer space for an entire cow. 

One thing I determined is that I need more storage space.  Although the basement is fine for canned goods; sugar, flour, and pasta cannot be stored down there because its too moist in the summer months.  I am in the process of reorganizing my kitchen to help make room for items.

This payday had some extra expenses so I'm not able to work on saving for prepping items.  I am working on my emergency binder however.  I believe that this binder will aid me in the future.  Each child and adult will have a section and will also include important phone numbers and addresses.

We are gearing up for a cold, cold weekend.  Our highs on Monday are -12 and that's without the wind chill.  Overnight we're supposed to hit temps of -25.  The governor of MN has announced that all schools will be closed on Monday.  We will still be homeschooling but at least we won't have to leave to go to Boy Scouts that night.  I will be hunkered down in front of the fire with my quilting projects and enjoying some hot tea!

Stay warm and safe!!