Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflection, Park Play and Learning

In this moment I am...
Sipping hot coffee, enjoying the warmth.
Feeling the snuggled body of a pup next to me...and hearing the other two snoring.
Enjoying the quiet early morning moments when I  can catch up on work, catch up on blog reading.
Reflect in silence as the sun comes up before the children wake and the day officially begins.
Pray in thankfulness for all my family is blessed with.

Even in moments of frustration over house hunting, or feeling our 'wants' pushing to the surface I take a step back and thank the Lord for all we have, that we are blessed with, that he is taking care of us and providing us with what we need and everything else will come and fall into place.

 Monday afternoon we slipped away from the house and went on an adventure to view 3 houses for sale then took a break in between to just play!  At times, at nearly 13 years old our daughter is at that awkward in between she a child, is she a teenager, is she trying to be an adult- she frequently tries all of these hats on throughout the week, testing responses, figuring out her role for herself. And as I remind myself of my role: Mother, Supporter, Holder of high patience, Hugger, Role Model, Reminder that she is Loved always. At the park she was just herself, playing, having fun, joking. It was nice to see her be her.

Tuesday, yesterday we went through our normal morning routine of breakfast, dressing, family work- room tidying and taking care of the animals then went into our learning.

This week's Learning over view....
*Teryn choose to finish her history channel documentary on the Titanic that she checked out at the Library- they have a few clips online as well:
*And read more of her book she checked out- that interviews real survivors from the Titanic.
* She started a Mermaid series for fun as well.
*She also made herself a list of what she wanted to work on for the week so that she could keep track of her progress. She is very dedicated to her 4H and has set aside time to practice with her animals, go over her questions as well as work on an additional educational poster for the upcoming show.  *For Math, she has started to work on her expense report and attempt to project her costs for the year of raising more animals.
*Lastly she is working on a poster board presentation/report for the family about how ballet pointe shoes are made, she thinks it is extremely interesting and wants to share the information with the family then watch a 'how its made' video with us when she's done with her project.

*Jordan and I read together his Chicken book again and then marked pages in his Pet Science Experiment book he checked out that he could do on his own. He enjoyed the ones that had to do with dog intelligence and plans on working with Rusty this week to find out just how smart he is.
*Jordan spent time reading out loud to me- he enjoys books about animals and related to his interests. He seems to gravitate towards harder books and likes to read and struggle through the words on a few pages of a hard book rather than read an entire easy book.  I don't ever discourage him from picking out hard books from the Library, he chooses what he wants and we attempt it if he wants. 
*After I brought home a new cage for our pets on Monday and explained that the previous owners had used it for Sugar Gliders, he was very interested to learn more about these creatures. He is anxious to look for books at this weeks library trip, but for now we used some online resources we found:
We also found a few you tube clips from a pet store on what to feed them and special care.
We also looked on the map where Australia was and he drew a picture of a Sugar Glider.

Both kids enjoyed experimenting with baking soda, an oldie but a goodie. Jordan did all the measuring and recorded his observations and attempted different measurements seeing what would give him the biggest fizz reaction.
 This experiment prompted Jordan to launch into a full discussion about burps and farts as well..oh what a boy...but in turn it was not a 'disgusting' talk- he was actually very logical and smart as he watched the way chemicals mixed in his cup and stated that it must be doing the same thing on his insides with what he eats or drinks.
 And in talking about gardening later, Terynity decided she wanted to show Jordan just how plants eat/drink with a dye experiment, which he named the Vein-ator.

Today is Halloween, we do treat or treat, we do have costumes.  Tomorrow we'll head on our weekly trip to the Library then to the Park next door for reading time, play time and picnic time and Friday we'll follow where ever our interests take us.

It's a wonderful journey we are on and I love every day where life takes us...together.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Piano Magic

A Love for Music
Our 7 year old has acquired a new love...the piano. He plays often, everyday, several times a day. At times he asks for lessons and I'll sit with him and go over my old piano lesson books, learning the keys and hand placement. Other times he'll hum a tune and tinker with notes himself. Some times he puts his full hands on and other times he'll poke one note at a time. I love his creativity.  His sister has a love for ballet and has gotten him into watching clips of ballets with her...Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake...and just the other day, in the matter of 15 minutes tinkering my amazingly talented 7 yr old son taught himself how to play Swan Lake all by himself as my husband and I made dinner.  Poking the notes, fumbling slightly- but I can hear the song, as he hums and finds the right keys- he is magical as he plays. My husband comments...'he takes after you'.  Never one who really knew the right notes- I read music when I was young but can't read left hand to save my life- if I heard the tune, I could find the keys- both hands right away.  I love that he has the musical ear as well.

One of my fondest childhood memories is hearing my dad play on our home piano the tunes of 'Winnie the Pooh'.  Even now, as an adult, I'll tinker the notes to that song and it takes me to my cherished memory.  I am thankful my parents both brought music into our home as I try to do the same for my own children.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chickens! and more..Chickens!

Our excitement last weekend was heading to Vegas- not for casino's or show's, eats or treats...for CHICKENS! Something about road trips are always fun! We packed the kids up, a few empty cages, some road trip snacks and were on our way...


I met online a wonderful woman who loves chickens and children and was thrilled to invite us to her farm to share her flock, her knowledge and give both of our children several chickens for free as well, to use for 4H and Youth Poultry shows.  She even went to a good friends house to obtain some super tiny birds too for them.  We made it to Vegas, went and grabbed lunch then headed to her home.  We went through many poultry walk in pens. It was wonderful to see all the different breeds, colors, learn about them and hear how much she loved raising them. We also met turkeys, 2 pigs and 3 dogs...along with some 20yr old koi fish. Its so wonderful when you connect with people with similar interests and passions.  She truly was so kind and I have no doubt we'll stay in touch for a very long time.

The kids were also so kind and so excited, and made the woman special chicken thank you cards as well the day before our trip: She was so kind and appreciative, she phoned me the day after to tell me she hung their pictures on her fridge so she could look at them often. 
A few other things we did last week...Library Books, Home made Cheese Crackers, our Rock Candy grew and some puppy snuggle time.  

Still to come this week...our weekly Library trip, a field trip with fellow homeschoolers to learn about pigeons, a trip to the grocery store in which the kids will get the items off the list and estimate the expenses together, some more poultry education and a trip to grandpa's to grind some wheat!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Biking, Chickens, Robots

Mid-Week Review:   
Best Moment of the Week thus Far for Jordan: He learned to ride a bike.

Best Moment of the Week thus Far for Terynity: She had an important lesson in friendship and a wonderful discussion with me about the kinds of people she wants to surround herself with in her life, that hold the same morals, values and passions she does. It was amazing to see 'her' have this revelation instead of 'me' always preaching it. 

I read in a wonderful homeschooling book that reiterated the power of prayer, praying for your day, your children's day, guidance, patience and love as you school your children and guide them through learning, prayer for other home schooling mothers that they have the most wonderful meaningful days with their children as well.  Starting and ending the day in prayer, being thankful.

We bought the bike for him, last year on Christmas. 7yrs you may think is quite old to be just learning. He had a small bike with training wheels he loved when he was 3yrs that he kept until he was 5yrs old but never really had the interest to learn without trainers until last year when we got him the bike. Then after one try he declared he was not big enough and the bike has sat in the garage. This week he declared that he was both big enough and old enough and it was time he rode a bike! With tons of encouragement from me and patience from both of us, he rode after just a couple tries!

I have a hard time taking a step back and not getting right in there, helping every step along the way...but we as parents really do need to force ourselves to let them try- let them succeed, let them fail...they will be the better for it- let them ask us for help instead of us automatically giving help.

Animals & Chickens
Based on both of the kids high interest in 4H and animals they decided between themselves that one day a week was going to be 'Animal' day and we'd incorporate all their learning- science, reading and so forth about animals. We spent time learning about chicken breeds, took a trip to the feed store to see chicks, chickens, ducks and geese as well as worked on educational posters, found resource info online. Terynity also spent time teaching Jordan how to groom and properly take care of his rabbit and guinea pig, so that when he gets a little bigger he can do it on his own.

While Terynity worked on her education chicken poster, Jordan decided to dive into one of the robot books he checked out from the Library. Actually..he checked out 3 of them! We spent time taking turns reading together. He was fascinated by the Mars Rover and a Panda robot for kids. He took his notebook and decided to 'design' his own robot, writing down what he would want it to do. Then we spent time exploring his remote control dump truck and battery operated change-eating robot to determine how they worked, how many functions they had and what more Jordan would have choosen for them to do. He had so much fun and can't wait to work with Dad and built his own. He declared he wanted to be a 'robotic engineer'!

Also this week, I have found a tremendous love for baking, practice makes perfect. I had a success at lunch time with home made wheat thins- both kids loved them! And then I baked two loaves of wheat bread for the week in which they each ate 3 pieces with butter right before eating the food I make..success!

Homemade Wheat Thins  - Recipe courtesy of:

I like to roll doughs like this on a piece of parchment paper because it makes it easier to remove and transfer the cut crackers to the baking sheet. 
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup water (plus more, if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl mix together flour, sugar, salt and paprika. Using a regular sized cheese grater, grate butter into flour mixture (or cut in with pastry cutter or knives). Immediately toss butter in flour mixture to coat, breaking up pieces a bit more as you go.
Mix together water and vanilla. Pour over flour mixture and mix until evenly moistened and the dough comes together but is not sticky (add a bit more water if necessary). Divide the mixture in half and form into balls.
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough as thinly as possible (or as desired). Cut into squares and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (and other toppings if desired).
Bake at 400ยบ F for 8-10 minutes or until browned and crisp. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container or bag at room temperature.

Our other fun times...

Enjoying the remainder of our week and weekend with a trip to the Library, Picking up a few chickens of our own and visiting a pumpkin patch farm.  Perhaps we'll carve the pumpkins as well!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rock Candy! Rain and Bugs

With the kids still recouping from colds, we had an easy going week. Our daughter still was full blown not feeling well, coughing, sneezing and hadn't been sleeping well either so needless to say we lounged quite a bit- read books, watched documentaries and played board games. We also had a crazy rain storm and encountered a scorpion as well!

 Game Time!
Rain and sickness is great for games- but we honestly play a lot of board games and card games together- if not one every day, then every other day. We stay away from TV as much as possible- a wonderful way to connect is to play games together- have real conversation together, spend quality time together- TV does none of those things. This week we have enjoyed Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, UNO and this wooden one we purchased from our Alpaca Farm trip:

Starting off our week baking more cupcakes, our son opted for Lemon and our daughter for Chocolate. Our egg substitution is really working well in baked goods- 1 egg equals 1 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1/4 cup Vanilla Soy Milk - but we did notice when it calls for '3' eggs, we use '2' conversion eggs- it makes the cake fluffier! I sat and supervised but our 7 year old made them entirely on his own- reading the directions, doing the measurements and mixing...and then ate a few too!
 I've also been baking and exploring vegan baking with substitutions...this week I made home made corn bread and soft pretzels. 
 Jordan wound the pretzels into their shape! He did an awesome job!

Vegan Meals: 
We had an Eggplant/Mushroom Rice dish that I had previously posted on here. This time I opted to dice the eggplant more finely which appeased the children as they did not enjoy the big chunks last time as well.  In the evening, we've been using candles more often and turning off all the lights in the house- eating dinner by candlelight then playing board games in the evening by candle as well. It is very relaxing.

Everyday in everything we do...we learn.
A few highlights from our week..while sister was laying on the couch and reading most of her mornings trying to recoup, my son and I explored his interest in rocks. We took out several rock and gem books he has, watched a few videos, played a geology game and watched a how to video on how to make rock candy...then made the candy together- its still growing!
Some resources we used:
Kids Geology Games
Mineral Crystals
Nat Geo - How Diamonds are Formed
How to Make Rock Candy
Updated candy pics to come :

According to the video, it takes a full 7 days, each day changing the jars out to grow the crystals 'rock candy'. The pics are day 1.

Rain, Rain...go away!? It practically flooded...great timing to explore weather- we had fun watching the Magic School Bus all about weather as well as checking out the weather radar and learning about the weather maps. Jordie and his Dad put outside a rain collector as well to see just how much it rained! 
Some resources we used:
How does Rain form?
Magic School Bus: Kick Up a Storm
US Weather Radar

 We ended the week with our weekly Library trip- picking out fun books, educational books- everything books...anything that perked out interests! Here is a peek into what we will be exploring this week...
Our 7 year old's picks:

Our 11 year old's picks:
And she still has previous books checked out from last week as well- Warriors Series, Ballet History and Make your own Bath and Body products.

And a few new books for Mom:
I'm still currently reading a few off the grid and sustainable living books as well as a vegan cookbook.
Lastly, to end my week off with a scary fright...late last night after the children were in bed asleep and I was quietly reading...the dogs started bouncing around on the tile floor. As I looked over and thought oh there's a grasshopper on the floor- I saw the tail of the animal whip around and sting one of our pups. He wailed, I yelled out, realizing that it was a scorpion. Luckily he is alright, a few hours of not being able to move around, breathing labored and foaming around his mouth- he was doing okay. I trapped the nasty thing and when hubbie got home from his shift he disposed of it! Yikes, talk about getting your heart going.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend of catching up on work, household chores, baking bread goodness and spending time with my family.