Monday, August 29, 2011

What a week!

Seriously, this has been the craziest week I have ever experienced.  The wild ride started Tuesday, we had a 5.8 earthquake about 15 miles from our house.  The earthquake was felt all up and down the east coast!  We had a picture fall and some things from Eden's mantle were turned over, but other than that we had no damage (cousins who live closer to the center had much more damage).  What we had was completely freaked out children.  Since Tuesday's 5.8, we have had 16 (reported) aftershocks (ranging from 2.0 to 4.5).  We haven't felt quite that many, but some folks have felt many more!  We had 2 back to back last night, that made it hard for me to fall asleep.

While we are still dealing with the unsettling earthquake feelings, on Thursday, our power went out for 10 hours due to a tree falling on the power lines down the street.  While the power was out, we had a severe thunderstorm with major wind!  I don't know if I was still jumpy from the earthquake, but I took the kids and dogs to the center of the house away from windows to wait it out.  We had a tree fall in the yard during that storm.

Saturday, Hurricane Irene came through and left some pretty major damage in the Richmond, VA area.  We had big wind out here, and a few limbs down, but we never lost power.  My parents in Mechanicsville, VA have been without power since Saturday afternoon.

On a lighter note, we got our first egg yesterday!

Sweet tiny egg!

The white eggs are wooden dummy eggs.  The brown one is ours.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

3 weeks in...

We have one day left in our third week of homeschooling.  So far it has been so much fun for me.  I believe Eden is enjoying it, too.

We haven't started the Wee Folk Art curriculum yet (we will begin that the day after Labor Day).  Right now I am sort of making it up as we go.  We are reading Little House on the Prairie, so we have done a little bit of geography tracking their trip from the Big Woods near Pepin, Wisconsin to Independence, Kansas.  We are doing a unit study on manners using the book Don't Slurp Your Soup by Lynn Gibbs.  

I mentioned in my post on choosing curriculum that the Explode the Code A, B and C don't introduce the vowels.   I also mentioned that we would do the vowels on our own.  I have pieced together a week of lessons on each vowel using some worksheets that were given to me in the form of a large kindergarten workbook.  

Saxon math is working out well.  It doesn't seem much like math yet.  There is lots of playing with manipulatives (or toys, as Eden sees it), which I love!  We are also learning the calendar through daily repetition.

The workboxes are working out better than I could have hoped!  Eden responds SO well to them.  She loves anticipating what is next and it really keeps her on task.  It has also been great for me to be able to plan.  The workboxes keep me accountable and I know I have everything I need for the day when I have had to go through the lesson to put it in the workbox.

Praying we keep having good days and weeks!

Oh, and in other news, Theo has been peeing in the potty today!  Only one accident so far!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What an Amazing Family I Have!

We hosted our second annual Cousin's Camp this past weekend and a great time was had by all!

I mentioned in my last post that this whole thing was my Mama's idea and she really was the brains of the operation.  She worked tirelessly on planning and preparation; delegating tasks, gathering supplies, writing lists and all those other things you Type A folks do.  If she was the brains, I was the brawn!  I got to make sure I had a clean house, plenty of toilet paper, a loaded first aid kit (my children had the only injuries this weekend, I think), and willing hands!  An army of the family's grown-ups converged on our house Friday morning and got the children ready for the day.

We did fun and amazing things like dyeing t-shirts with indigo (the stuff they use to dye blue jeans).

My Mama "Cousin Becky" with a camper.
Just out of the indigo dye bath!

 We played around all weekend with stilts that "Aunt Brenda" (she got to be an aunt because she is actually the only person who attended who wasn't at all related) brought.

"Aunt Brenda" and Theo

Eden on stilts
Cousin Kevin on stilts!
Even my 90 year old Mema took a turn on the stilts!
 We went on a nature hike following the (mostly) dry creek bed.  One of the children found a turtle shell, we collected rocks, we identified plants, animal homes and even scat!


Taking a break.
 "Aunt Brenda" gave us a wonderful colonial medicine demonstration.  She fixed many ailments and the children really got into the playacting (so did the dog).

Ali got her ear bandaged.

Doctor's tools
 Friday night, some of the campers left, but most everyone stayed the night.  We pitched our tents in the back yard, had a bonfire, roasted hotdogs and made s'mores.

Our tent and our home.

Misty Saturday morning.
We had breakfast before the others began to arrive.  It was nice to have a few moments to sit and relax before the action began again.

We spent the day Saturday preparing for Saturday afternoon's feast.  The children made brunswick stew, rolls, and ice cream and each family brought a side dish to share.

Peeling potatoes

Making rolls
 We had an amazing weekend!  It was a lot of hard work, the children had a lot of fun and we all earned a rest...

Daddy and Theo finally crashed!

I cant wait for next year!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can I tell you about Cousin's Camp?

As the older generation passes away, we are in danger of losing our connection to our more distant family members.  This saddens me.  I live in a home that has been in our family for so many years.  I really do feel connected to the past here.  I want to feel connected to those who are also a part of this house’s history and future.  That sounds a little woo-woo, but I think distant family and genealogies are important.  Scripture agrees, but that is another post entirely!

A few years ago, my mom, who does spinning demonstrations (often for kids and often in period costume), did a program for a group of kids attending “Cousin’s Camp.”  A local grandmother invited all of her grandchildren (some of whom lived out of state) to stay at her house for a whole week during the summer.  She had all sorts of fun things planned for them to do and see during the week.  It was set up like a real camp, but all the campers were cousins and the camp director was grandma!

My Mama.
After that, my mom really wanted to have cousin’s camp.  There were problems, though.  We needed a proper venue.  Her house wasn’t really a good place to hold a camp.  We also needed cousins!  My mom is a grandma, but she only has 2 grandkids and they are local, and they don’t have any first cousins!  How do you start a Cousin’s Camp with no cousins?  Well, I’ll tell you.  You invite second cousins and fourth cousins and third cousins twice removed!  

Last year when we moved to Hunter’s Grove, my mom (almost immediately) began talking about my hosting a version of Cousin’s Camp.  Brandon and I love to have folks out to our place, so, we were on board.  Mama did most of the planning and delegating.  We chose to do 3 days of day camp with a family/ parents dinner on the last day (the kids were in charge of making dinner!).  We tie-dyed t-shirts, had water balloon fights, made a family tree, had songs and stories, went on a nature hike and generally had a blast!

Exploring the woods.
The children bragged to their friends and asked to do it again next year.  So, here we are just a few days away from Cousin’s Camp 2011!  We have 12 children coming and lots of plans for a great time.  This year we are only doing 2 days of camp, but we are camping out Friday night.  I am really excited about this part.  We are praying for good weather, safety and lots of fun.  Of course, I will post pictures!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I had to fix my desk chair.

Yesterday, I stepped out of the school area for a minute and Theo stood on my desk chair to reach something.  He went right through the seat!  Admittedly, it was in bad shape.  Kind-of like this one (its twin)...

They are really sturdy chairs and I love them because they are small.  They fit perfectly in-between my dining chairs when I am seating 3 on a side of my dining table.  The small size also makes it perfect for my tiny desk in our school area (which is in our living room).

So, I had to fix it and fast!  I decided to use some fabric I had lying around and weave a new seat.  As I dismantled the old seat, I came up with a plan.  The end result is pretty cute, I think and it is very comfortable.

I am planning to do the other one ASAP... maybe I will do a tutorial! ;)

I thought I'd leave you with some pics of the chickens and their girl, Eden.

Those chickens love her!

Isabella is on top of the swing set.  Pippi is the one on the ground.

She owns the place!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Hopping!

No big post today. Just checking out some other bloggers at the Wild Wednesday Blog Hop over at About a Mom.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Choosing Curriculum for Kindergarten

We decided to homeschool Eden back around the first of the year.  I was overwhelmed from the start.  Homeschooling was never something I wanted to do, never something I believed I was cut out for.  Actually, I was kind-of looking forward to getting rid of the kids for a few hours a day when they went to school.  Sometimes, though, parents have to do what is best for their children.  I mentioned Eden's November birthday as our main reason for making the decision to homeschool. She has always been precocious.  Her best friends are all months older (and beginning Kindergarten this year).  We recognized that she needed to be in school and learning, or when I did send her, she would be bored and in trouble all the time!  So, we decided to homeschool.  Just for Kindergarten.  We will decide later what to do for first grade (and beyond).

I have been looking at curriculum for a solid 6 months. I decided early that I wanted to do something fun with a heavy emphasis on the seasons (something I am trying to focus on personally in our diet and wanting to let that flow into the rest of our lives). I am very drawn to Waldorf-type play, Montessori work and the Charlotte Mason "living books."  Eden loves books and I want her to keep loving them!

I found a free Charlotte Mason curriculum that I really liked, but it doesn't officially begin until first grade and I wanted something more fun to add to it.

So, I started looking at homeschooler's blogs!  Some were specifically homeschooling blogs, some were blogs of mamas who just happened to homeschool.  When I realized that one of the crafty blogs I read (Wee Folk Art) is written by a homeschooler, I was super excited! She wrote a 3 term curriculum for her Kindergartener and offers it free on her website! It has the crafts, the books, and the emphasis on the seasons!

With this free curriculum, I still needed to find a program for  Language Arts and Math.  She suggested the Explode the Code books A, B and C for Language Arts. Eden is already reading, so I wasn't too picky about this. I decided to go with Explode the Code.  Now that I have really looked it all over, I really like it! She needs to learn to write and we will focus on that part of the curriculum rather than the reading part. The way the curriculum is set up it will be simple to alter it in that way.  My only complaint is that the vowels are not introduced until later (later, like not this year!)!  Since we are already reading, we need vowels!  I decided to introduce the vowels on my own before beginning the curriculum.

She leaves it completely up to you to choose a math curriculum. This is where I had the most trouble. I hate math. I am terrible at it. I want to challenge Eden and help her to love math.  How do I accomplish that when I got my first F in 3rd grade math?  I wanted to find something with a teacher's manual that gave actual teaching tips. Several of them had that, but I ended up choosing Saxon because it goes as far as to tell you what words to use and even what to do with your hands when you explain a concept!  It builds on itself and has lots of review. It also uses a lot of manipulatives which I think will be good for Eden since she is so kinesthetic.  Many of the others were worksheet based and Saxon is not.  There isn't even a workbook, though there are some worksheets you can use in the back of the manual.  I have read most of the teacher's manual (it is more than 500 pages) and I really like it.  It isn't scary at all.  It looks fun!

I am finally at the place where I am not feeling overwhelmed.  We actually started kindergarten this morning!  It went well and my eager little student devoured the material.  I planned to start at 9, but she was so excited that we started at 8!  It took about 2 hours to get through what I had planned and we were done by 10!

It has been a tough process and I feel a lot better now that it is over.  Especially now that we have day one under our belts!  If you have any specific questions I would love to share more!