Thursday, March 4, 2010

Disappointment

I guess I am like a little kid sometimes. I run outside every morning to check my garden, just hoping a tiny green shoot has appeared. But once again, the ground is just brown in my garden - no green sprouts. We planted several cool weather crops about a week ago: lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas, carrots, and potatoes. I think it was a little late in the season, but it has been so cool that I decided to take a chance and plant. These are all crops I have not tried before from seed, so success would be very exciting!


Last Thursday, the children and I took clipboards and sketch pads and headed for the garden, hoping to sketch a newly sprouted plant for our nature notebooks. But, the only things to sketch were the onion and garlic plants that overwintered. We drew the onions, then broke out the tractors and bikes and enjoyed the weather.

Note to self: Always have an alternate plan for the nature notebook!

Fastest Runner in the World with a tomato he grew himself last summer. He was playing in the sprinkler right before he picked it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Skyscrapers and Schooling

Wednesdays are busy right now. Since I try to limit our outside the home activities to 2 days per week, those two days can get pretty full. We limit the bookwork on busy days, but learning really never stops. Today we spent some time in the car going to pottery class and buying jeans. (Kids that spend lots of time in the dirt require jeans frequently.)

Since we homeschool, school subjects can be hard to define. Sometimes, school becomes more a life than just a part of life. For example, Pottery could be a legitimate school type course – you could count it as art instruction. But, so much more learning happens on a day like this. I don’t know what most people do in the car, but we do two things: talk or read. There are always books in the car and if there is more than one person there is always conversation as well.

Today, started with Kirk pointing out a Diesel Shovel to the younger guys. Now, in a family that loves Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel the sight of a Diesel Shovel brings excitement! And odd questions…like, “What do skyscrapers do? There was actually a moment of silence in the car today followed by laughter as I had an image of a tall building scraping clouds from the sky. But, Fastest Runner in the World was serious – What do they do? He really did not know what a skyscraper was – he was evidently picturing something that did the work of scraping the sky, and not a tall building. (Yes, we live in the country.)

There is something educational in all of this: He was making connections between the diesel shovel and the book. He was remembering details and questioning things he did not understand. Sure, it is a little thing, but it won’t stop there; he will continue to question and observe. This is what I love about homeschooling. The questions really started then: everyone asked and answered and discussed. We talked about natural gas and other fossil fuels (science), about the New London School explosion (a little Texas history), proper observation of traffic signals and signs (drivers education), then we even discussed how questions can bring about learning (Maggie actually asked, “What else can I ask?”).

So, when we were paying for our jeans and the manager asked, “Are the kids out of school today?” I could honestly answer, “No, we are homeschooled. These kids don’t get a day off!”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birds



This morning I hung our new thistle sock. My parents have thistle socks and have hundreds of Goldfinches in their yard. I am hoping to attract some to our yard. (The picture shows my parent's feeder last April.) The goldfinches are not yellow right now. They are brown with yellow under their wings and blend in with the winter grass.  They will have the bright yellow color shown in this picture in another month.

We have at least 3 pairs of Cardinals that live in our yard year round, and have seen numerous Black-capped Chickadees at the “favorite feeder”. I snapped this photo of a pair of cardinals during a recent snowfall. The male stood out so beautifully against the pure white.


As part of a science experiment, Maggie created two identical bird feeders out of juice bottles. She tried a couple of experiments: first, she and Dad hung identical seed mixes on opposite sides of a tree near the cardinal’s home thicket, and second, they hung one with basic seed mix and one with black oil sunflower seed in the same tree. Regardless of the seed mix or the feeder the same side of the tree is popular. If the feeder comes down for a day we still see birds perched in and around that branch. I hung a suet block last week on another tree (the same one the sock is in today) and it is untouched.


Hmm…Exactly how many feeders will fit on one branch?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Introducing Myself

I began this blog for a number of reasons: accountability for myself, a place to display some of the crafts we make, a spot for distant family members to keep up with our family, and hopefully a great learning experience for us. Hopefully, our blog will change often as we learn to change the look and add personal touches.


We are a family of six in Texas and in our 11th year of homeschooling. Our oldest son, Kirk,  is about to turn 15 and our youngest who wishes to be known as "Monster Truck", just turned 3. Between those two, we have an eleven year old daughter, Maggie and a 5 year old son, who asks that you call him "The Fastest Runner in the World".
He asked Monster Truck (MT) if he would prefer to be called "The Slowest Runner in the World" but MT did not!

We spend lots of time in the dirt outside (if you know us in real life, you already know that!) playing cars, ball, gardening, or just digging. Occasionally we discover a hibernating toad and often discover worms, grubs, and roly polies. Our fireplace mantle boasts a collection of insects in jars, which I don't mind, since I did the same thing myself, but I do ask that the kids not catch and keep spiders - ugh!


The Noise Has Begun!

Ok, I know this is not really proper and when these boys marry and have their own children, their wives with be horrified, but the three boys, ages 14, 5, & 3 are playing ball in the house. I can't help but let them, it is pouring rain outside - a cold rain. They are using a playground ball and occasionally, as I sit here and type, it flies past my head. It hasn't hit me (yet), no one has been hurt (yet),  and nothing broken (yet), so I'll let them play until they find another activity.

They are learning to take turns as Kirk bounces it first to one of the little boys and then another. He is learning to be a good Dad and building a relationship with his little brothers. OK, so I am rationalizing my actions, but, no one is asking if breakfast is ready yet! (The oven timer still has 20 minutes to go!)

Now I hear my daughter. She is NOT a morning person, so she won't join in the fun for an hour or so. Right now, she will grump and grouch until she has read a little and eaten, then she will be her much more cheerful self - hopping and step dancing all over the house!

And so, we begin another week!