Friday, December 16, 2011

Great-uncle Jack's Christmas Dinner

Today we found out about the traditional Christmas Dinner that happened at my great-uncle Jack's house.

He and Aunt Catherine had six children (which I'm sure chaffed my grandmother's zero-population growth sensibilities).  They would enjoy tacos for their holiday dinner.  It required so much prep work (browning, dicing, grating...) that they wouldn't have tacos very often, so it was a special meal for a special occasion in their household.

At least that's how the family lore tells it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent, Maybe

We're behind.

Things have been a bit hectic with Cub Scouts, Grandma's move, and life in general.  We managed to get the tree up this weekend...and mostly decorated.  We found suitable white candles for our advent wreath we started assembling in 2006 (and have yet to use)--we're still in search of an adequate purple pillar to use with it.  The Jesse Tree ornaments I cross-stitched before Wee-one was born are MIA--hopefully we'll find them in time to use this spring.

We have not managed to integrate any of the Danish traditions we were wanting to explore this season.

We found our stack of Advent cards and finally utilized them today.  No credit or copyright is designated on them and I don't recall where we got them from.  They've been puttering about in our collection of holiday paraphernalia but we kept forgetting to do them.  We're starting where we are, instead of trying to catch up on the ones we missed.  We intend to do them at bedtime--read the blurb, read the scripture, play the hymn from our hymnbook discs, and go to bed with visions of our Savior dancing through our head.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last Race of the Year

We really enjoy getting together with our HotWheels club.  Every few months we'll overrun a fellowship hall or community center for the better part of a Saturday to buy-sell-trade little $1 car-cars and to race on a 50-foot downhill track.

A club is only as good as you make it, and it takes more than one person to make it.  DH stepped up to assist with the racing and now manages the racing and the points for those participating in the year-long points race.  I assist with the front door, collecting entry frees and table fees, distributing entry raffle tickets, assisting with race sign-ups and accepting the fees for racing.  Another couple manages the lunch that is included in the entry fee.  A father and (grown) son team manage the assembly and dis-assembly of the track. And another gentleman keeps it all running and handles the funds.  Somebody else handles the customs competitions.

Anyway, back to the's our favorite part of the gathering.  At the beginning of the year we received permission to have a "car number" for El Torro to participate in the points race while he was still in utero. and a car was run for him during the shows he was still baking in the oven.  He "participated" in his first show just before he was a month old and won the mainline race.  We all got something of a chuckle out of that.

The chuckle became an all-out guffaw this afternoon when it was realized that this one-toothed babe was the points champion for the mainline class.  We suspect the rules will be changed next year--it will be put up to a vote by the general membership (because another member was winning races without being present as well).

I don't have any pictures from today, but when I find which photographic devise the race winner pics are located on I'll post those.  *lol*

A good family time, every time!  We can't wait for the "season" to begin again in February (or March).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Water Bottle Rockets

When we were shopping around for a Pack to join, the Tiger den of one of the Packs we visited launched water bottles.  I chatted with the den leader and received some verbal instructions, and supplies were picked up within the next week.  We didn't actually build it until a month or so later.  And we got one of the fittings wrong so now we're tinkering with it until we get it so it's as easy to utilize as the one we witnessed.

Meanwhile, we found a Pack that is very close by and has a great vibe to it.  The Cubmaster had built a different water bottle launcher than ours, and he had the Pack out to his house to build rocket bottles and roast marshmallows.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ultimate Frisbee

For some reason I thought Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf were synonymous--kind of like Best Foods and Hellman's.  But they're not.  Which we found out when we showed up for an introductory clinic for Ultimate Frisbee with an area league that is looking to possibly start an elementary/middle school team.

I like the idea of Ultimate--lots of action, but designated as non-contact.  The boys seemed to like it overall, but got their knickers in a wee-bit of a twist because some other kids were "hogging" during the game play.  A few observations resulted from that: a) there is no "I" in "team" and trying to put it in there results in no scores; b) having a fuller grasp of the game play prior to actually playing would be helpful; c) putting three puny-like geek-esque homeschooled boys on one team can potentially stunt any hope for scoring--especially if #b has been neglected.

We had a good time though, and it's unfortunate that I have not figured out how to orchestrate a means for these three boys to practice what they started to learn in a functional and helpful manner.  However, they did earn their Ultimate Beltloops and that finished off Eldest's Sportsman pin.  And they ran about so much that Wee-one practically crawled over to sit on the floor at my feet when there was still 30minutes left to the event.  *two thumbs up*  And it was exceptionally kind of the facilitators to include Wee-one at all since he did not meet the minimum age requirement.

Practicing tossing a frisbee.
Running laps to start warm-up.
They made warm-ups silly fun with high-step runs...
...zombie walks...
...and a move to free up the ball-and-socket of the hip,
but it looked like The Monkees met Jazzercise or something.
I don't think he quite understood that he was supposed
to be defending, or blocking, the pass during this drill.
Taking a break from cheering the game by checking out the flooring material.
Group pic at the end of the 90-min clinic. 
I've notated the young coach that engaged Wee-one when he was getting
mopey during warm-ups, a homeschooling friend from our Pack
that joined us at the clinic, and Eldest. 
Where's Wee-one you ask?
He decided he'd had enough and sat near me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What to Do About Veteran's Day?

I'm trying to do better about creating meaningful traditions for our family this year.  It's actually been a work in process for a few years, but this year I'm making a valiant push (mostly).  I have a binder with loose-leaf pages labeled for the holidays we do, or want to, celebrate so I can jot down the traditions we have or the traditions we're creating for each one.  And typical of me, it isn't until it is upon us that I get around to seeking out ideas.

What did Google provide me with this time (in no particular order)?

And for food?,196,159163-237196,00.html,194,158163-232198,00.html,1628,148174-254197,00.html,184,150160-226196,00.html

I think we will try to say a prayer of thanks for our Veterans, and those that are currently serving, around the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  They are in our regular prayers, but there is power in specific prayer--for those praying, and for those the prayer is over.  We'll also hang our flag.  I have the address for a friend's daughter serving in Afghanistan--see about writing her a note.  Though I'd also like to see if maybe we can start a project to collect stories of Service from our relatives.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reading to Brother

Wee-one reading to El Torro during lessons.

Oh No!!

I had a moment to post some of the things that have occurred, so I fetched the SD card with the photos so I could download them to the computer and then create my blogposts.

Only to discover that I pulled a bonehead move a few days ago that resulted in the reformatting of the card.  *sigh*

So no pictures of the fishing trip with our Cub Scout Pack (I had taken pics for the other parents as well).  I don't remember what else was on there, sometimes I have to rely on the pics to remind me of some of our activities and going-ons.

Shame on Mama!  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Outdoor Hour #2: Using Your Words

So it's only been three years since we last participated in the Outdoor Hour Challenges...but we finally got our behinds in gear and put some purpose in our stroll.

We were delayed, first by dawdling over lessons, then by our very first teleclass participation.  My closed shoes are nowhere to be found (logically) so we didn't go into the back woods because mama don't play that habitat in flip-flops.  We strolled across the front yard, up the old driveway, and down the street to the stop sign before heading back home.

Of course in the shoe-hunt mayhem I forgot to bring along a camera to take pics of the things we spied: the wildflowers at the abandoned house across the street, a couple of black beetles, a carolina wolf spider, and a couple roadkill insects.  The boys also found a couple of dried out earthworms that made enough of an impression to journal about.  The vultures are back, but with the trees still leafed it's difficult to determine the quantity.

Shortly after we returned inside we spied a vulture walking across the front yard--they're a lot bigger up close than they seem to be in the treetops!

The boys' auditory observations included the wind rustling the leaves, crickets and other noisy insects, and little dogs barking inside a neighbor's house.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 Day Challenge: Being Rushed Home To

UPDATE (11/11/11):  Life got pretty insane for me and I didn't get a chance to complete as I had desired.  If I get the opportunity--and the burst of inspiration to complete the thoughts that spurred this list--I'll finish these posts and link accordingly.  Otherwise, I'm taking the Creative Memories approach and starting with NOW, catching up the past as I can.  Though, if you've noticed my various "placeholders" in the homeschooling blog, you'll observe the likelihood of this pipe dream coming to fruition. I guess we'll take it as proof that I still bite off more than I can chew--but this is also testament to the fact that I put my family first rather than my pet project/s.  Right??

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Planet Earth

I've been bad about posting our finished projects. *sheepish* Pics will have to wait for broadband. (Come on TWC!!)

The boys were fascinated with the launch of Atlantis this summer so we're doing "Space" this season. Lapbooks about Earth are our transition from volcanoes (this summer) and the excitement beyond our atmosphere.

Next is the moon. We need to pull out the telescope that has been loaned to us until the owner wants it back. One day I will finally purchase a Meade ETX!

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Little Martians

We're studying "space" this fall, in honor of the completion of the shuttle program. We're starting with a lapbook about Earth as a transition from dinosaurs and volcanoes, then we'll move on to the moon, the solar system, and the galaxy.

So this morning, after reading about what a planet is, Wee-one said he wanted to sing a Martian song. I thought it was going to be a silly, made up song but it wasn't. I was rude and interrupted him after the first verse to ask where it was from. He learned it at a VBS we attended back in June--and he still remembers it!! (mostly)

Five little Martians
Sitting on a crater
Along came a spaceship
And one said:
See you later!

Four little Martians
Sitting on the moon
Along came a spaceship
See you soon!

Three little Martians
Sitting on a star
"Look! They're so far"

Two little Martians
Sitting on Saturn's rings
They got lonely
Then they started to sing

One little Martian
Sitting all alone
Then he got worried
Then he went home
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I just packed 109 editions of National Geographic into one of the cubbies in our main Expedit. Five others are sitting on another shelf--they tie in with some of our studies from this past year.

The gal we picked them up from said she had "a couple years" of NatGeos they were looking to pass on....9.5years is a lot more than I was expecting. I found a place to stash them, but now I feel like I need some way of organizing or categorizing them so it's easier for us to locate ones that ties in with our studies; or to follow-up a line of conversation.

Maybe when we have broadband I can see if there's a master index of NatGeos from the 90s. One more reason I need to invest in Readerware and a cats-eye scanner---make it easier to see what resources we DO have, and where to find them in our house.

Regardless, the kids were fully engrossed throughout the rest of our errands and on the way home. Wonder if we'll find them burrowed in NatGeos in the morning, or if they'll be ankle-deep in Legos (as usual).
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grandma's Visit

A month later I've realized that we never blogged about Grandma's visit.

We took her to Lego. 

We like to avoid rush hour heading to Lego by heading to a museum earlier in the afternoon.
Wee-one was stoked to finally be able to do the monthly build!

We took her to a park date. 

We spent a few hours at Barnes&Noble (and fetched some Take It to Your Seat centers books for this fall). 

Not this particular workbook, but this brand.

We survived a day without A/C during 90* temps.

A non-functioning blower does iced lines make.
Trying to cool down the baby.  While some would leave a hot baby nekkid, we kept a onesie on him to prevent sticking.

We went to a neighbor's Independence Day cook-out.  

We went blackberry picking and she made us freezer jam. 

We took her to the last two swim lessons (and she enjoyed conversation with Ms. Vanessa) of the first summer session. 

She started reading The Hardy Boys to the boys.

I feel like I'm forgetting some events/activities...

We're eager for another visit! (From either grandmother!!) 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Property: Micro-Farm

When the bobcat was out to even out the parking area for the relocated driveway, it also rough-cut the bottom tier for the garden beds. The other two tiers will have to be cut by hand for the individual beds. It's the only way I can think of to prevent erosion without massive expense for an expansive retaining wall and stairs. We'll see how it works out, and how long it takes me to accomplish *any* of it. Maybe the building of beds can happen when Grandma is visiting so we can work on prepping them for fall crops.

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Property: Driveway Relocation, Act 2

A second load of gravel arrived last week.

Before we could order it the scrub from the trees that were felled had to be dealt with. The clothesline had to be taken down--which ended up being easy since the poles had unknowingly rusted right where they emerged from the cement blobs. The bobcat had to come out again to even out the side lot.

We need a third load to get a good base for the parking area, but the second load is keeping the vehicles out of the mud for the time being, and we can park at the house rather than on the drive.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

"Spring Term"

We're currently on hiatus.

Our overall plan has always been to do structured lessonwork September through November, January through March, and May through July.  However, we also put life before seatwork so we haven't always accomplished that framework--but, life and homeschooling is a work-in-progress and we've been better honing both over the last couple of years.

Today I laid out our "lesson plans" for our "spring term."  We'll be completing our current World War II studies (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes; Japan; a WWII overview) and doing lapbooks for dinosaurs, fossils, and volcanoes.  Our aspiration to also accomplish a photography unit (once a week), and an astronomy unit (while the evenings are pleasant though insect-ridden), will not be realized due to time.  We have weekly activities laid out: scouting, nature study/science, correspondence (HA!), library, art, museum trips, karaoke, baking, etc.  Zoo trips with Papa still need to be sorted.

I also managed to sketch out next year loosely!  Currently our "fall term" will be an overview of the 17th Century, Jamestown, Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving.  "Winter term" will be Founding Fathers, George Washington, and the Declaration of Independence; as well as a pause for the Iditarod--a custom from my childhood.  Next "spring term" will be the Revolutionary War.

It's exciting to get things to see how well follow-through goes....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Flower Bed

MIL is visiting us for a few weeks (waiting for this bun in the oven to finish baking) and she decided to do a flower bed with the kids.  They loved the project, but Wee-one didn't want to do the work of prepping the bed.  Part way through we got brilliant and put up the pop-up so the sun wasn't so hot.  I sat on the sidelines with my puffy feet up, but couldn't stand spectating any longer once the flowers were laid out for planting.  I paid dearly for my foolishness of planting about a third of the bed, but it was nice to get into the dirt!

Digging the bed.
Digging the bed in the shade.

Removing some of the mud to make room for the soil to be
mixed in.

Wee-one laying down on the job.

After planting: snapdragons, gerbera daisies, african daisies,
dwarf marigolds, petunias, "fire plant," and something else
I don't recall the name of.

Finished product--the kids ferreted out large rocks from
the yard to hold in the mulch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

WWII: Number the Stars

Eldest drug his feet through this portion of the unit.  He took off with the book and read it straight through-- and he's disappeared to listen to the audiobook for it as well--but the associated assignments have been like pulling teeth from a cranky crocodile.

It was finally completed (mostly).  I need to check on the diary entries, and the pamphlet is only a rough draft, but we're moving on for the moment.

The neat thing about it, besides his finishing off the book on his own, is the interest he's developed in Denmark.  Our Christmas celebrations this year are going to involve a lot of Danish traditions if we're able to pull it off!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WWII: Europe

We could not locate a lapbook for Denmark (we might make one ourselves), so we opted to do a lapbook for Europe in conjunction with our studies for Number the Stars.  This one had the option to write the answers yourself, trace the answers, or utilize pre-printed answers so Wee-one was able to participate more fully in the activities for this lapbook.

The Front Cover
We didn't do all the activities with the HOC-Europe lapbook
so were able to trim it down to a two-folder event.  This is
with the cover opened.
The section about the European Union.
The section about language and geography.
The back.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Arrival of Spring

It was noticeable a few weeks ago when my allergies started up, but it's been visibly noticeable the last couple weeks.  Those ghastly Bradford Pears are blooming, and will be stinking it up soon.  Our maples have little red tufts on them.  The bulbs have sprouted their leaves; daffodils elsewhere are in full-bloom.  The peepers have returned.  Last week I spied the first small grasshopper.  Tuesday night, while burning a brush pile, we spied a possom finding quite the buffet on the back slope.  We also heard a pack of coyotes in the distance.  Later a couple of amphibians started a short chorus at the creek, to be taken up by another group farther off in the woods.  DH followed a rabbit around the yard for a bit as well.  Oh, and we have our first two gnats/fruit flies of the season in the house.  *grumble*

The maple at the head of the old driveway.  Can no longer recall
if it is a Red Maple or a Silver Maple.  We need to restart our tree
study of the property...

Turkey-tails on a log that's been waiting patiently to be cut into rounds.

Yeah, I don't remember what this tree was either...might be one of the
tulip poplars, or a horse chestnut....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Property: Driveway Relocation

After months and months of trying to get ground conditions and schedules to mesh, the driveway relocation was finally going to be underway!  The kids and I were housebound during business hours ALL week because we were waiting for the pipe to be delivered.  They never called so we had no clue that they had actually delivered first thing Tuesday morning.  When DH called them Thursday morning we all figured out that it had been set down at the end of the cul-de-sac, much to the bewilderment of the neighbors down there.  Fortunately they moved it to our property Thursday afternoon.
Apparently we assumed incorrectly that since they wanted the location
marked it meant they were lining the pipe up for us.
Friday morning DH's co-worker arrived with his bobcat.  He made quick work of clearing the saplings that had regrown and cutting the new drive.  A couple other co-workers arrived and between the four of them (plus the bobcat) they got the pipes lined up and stabilized for the backfill.

Starting on the backfill.
The bobcat made quick work of pulling up the gravel from the old driveway to use as backfill for the piping.  He didn't even really get any up from the lower drive and parking area (where the future orchard will be going once we get it cleaned and prepped).

Can you spy the end of the pipe?

Looking up the new driveway towards the road (and the
abandoned house across the street).
Once the pipe and backfill was accomplished, it was time to take out the two oak trees in the mound so the mound (that took me three seasons of manual labor to create in an effort to reduce the flooding of the front walk) could be demolitioned in our effort to reduce our erosion impact.

The mound isn't as impressive as it was in 2005 when I stopped
working on it--a lot of it eroded away across the parking area.
No nests were sighted in the trees prior to felling.

I jokingly asked a good friend "How many Rednecks does it take to fell a tree?" 
She responded:  As many as know about it.
They're good kids, and they were a tremendous help! 
It was just too humorous to not snap a pic.

Down goes the first one.
Looking down the old drive to the second oak.  This one was a bit frightening.
The angle of their cut wasn't exactly perfect so when it finally went,
it thumped straight down onto its base then started leaning in a
different direction than it was cut.  The guys did a great job of
 scrambling out of the way, but initially (from my vantage point in
the house) it appeared to be heading straight for them.  It wasn't.
After the two trees were felled they were pulled to the vicinity of the woodpile, and the large tree that fell in the back woods last winter (ground got too soggy for it to stay put) was pulled out as well.  The bobcat returned the mound to a better slope for the run-off and everybody went home.

The following Wednesday 18.5 tons of crush-n-run gravel was delivered (between rainstorms) and DH spent all morning spreading it on the first length of the new driveway.  At least one more load will be needed (if not two) to finish the drive and the parking area.  One of three brush piles (from the felled trees) was burned the night before the gravel to make sure it wouldn't be in the way.  A parking shelter is also to be added.  Once all of those deliveries are made I can start working on beautification of the new drive area, as well as prepping for the orchard to go in next season.

[I need to get pics taken of the mound area, the brush piles, and the length of gravel]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Five Counties, One Day

I'll spare myself a bit of the ridicule as to why we were in Winston-Salem two days in a row, but we opted to take the opportunity to check out Pilot Mountain State Park just up the road since we were so close.

An outcropping of rock viewable from a scenic outlook
 off the upper parking area.

The gal in the office was very helpful and lovely to chat with.  We knew we wouldn't be able to hit any of the trails due to complete lack of preparation, but we figured we could get information so an actual outing to Pilot Mountain could be planned properly.  We left with flyers about the geology, the various trails, and even a Junior Ranger booklet (that applies to all of the State Parks). 

She also stated that Hanging Rock was only another 30min up the away we went.  The roads got pretty wendy-windy and Eldest was getting queasy, but we made it just fine.  Hanging Rock State Park has a little museum in its Visitors Center, and some cute little family cabins across the way.  FWIW, there's no cell coverage up there.  *grin*

A collage of images from the Civilian Conservation Corps' (CCC)
 work at Hanging Rock State Park.  This is found in the museum
 in the Visitor Center where you can learn more about the CCC,
 Hanging Rock, and the biodiversity of the area.

Both hold great promise as camping locations, hiking locations, and photography locations for our family.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Checking Off a Box

We took care of our annual standardized testing today.  Scoring was in line with where I expected it to be.  They're tucked away in the master file and will not be looked at again until next year when we merely eyeball how the two years compare.  I don't put a whole lot of stock into it--it doesn't test for things like character or habits, and it doesn't test for the various units being studied.  But I do enjoy eavesdropping on the testing process (we choose to utilize the Woodcock-Johnson III) as it's an intriguing window into my kiddos' brains and it helps me clue in on some areas that we might need to approach differently or cover to a greater extent (like further reviewing colons, or that "pollution" is another way of saying "littering").

I do, however, get great humor out of our annual tradition.  I find it vastly humorous that homeschoolers in North Carolina are required by law to complete a nationally standardized test annually, yet there is no means to compare the homeschooling population to the public school population because there is not nationally standardized testing of the public students unless they opt to sit for the SAT.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day

We don't tend to "celebrate" the candy events, but since we were going to a local nursing home to make Valentine's cards with some of the residents as a group I figured it was as good a time as any to do a quick study on the holiday.  Especially since I got a great deal on it with my SuperMembership and a $4 off special commemorating Hands of a Child's 400th lapbook.  There were a few items that we chose not to do, or utilize, and I should have sorted out my own placement rather than going off theirs--ah well.

That modified envelope again.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

WWII: V is for Victory

Due to weather interference (we don't do lessons when DH is home, we utilize the time to be with him) and sickies we're a a bit behind on our original schedule for our World War II unit studies.  We did finish the segment that revolved around Sylvia Whitman's V is for Victory, but the pamphlet (book report) wasn't completed before the book had to be returned so it's in a state of limbo.  We'll have to interlibrary loan the next time we're at the library.  No credit given for that bit yet.

To go along with the V is for Victory we did a lapbook for the State of Hawaii, since Pearl Harbor was the event that finally involved the United States in the war.

We 3-hole punch all of our lapbooks so we can store them in a binder.
One binder per 'school' year.

We also use a couple of supplemental lapbook/notebooking pages
found here and here.
We modify the large envelopes to hold the 'reading material' from the
lapbook pdf.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing for a Weather-Induced Power Outage

Flat-head shovel and car clearing tool brought inside.

All of the laundry is clean.

The dishes are all clean.

A fairly useless tub cleaned so it can hold water for
dishwashing, toilet-flushing, handwashing, etc.

Electric Coleman lantern charging
(and all other flashlight batteries refreshed).

Fetching of cast iron cookery for use in fireplace.

Spare blankets and sleeping bags in proper storage area.

Containers collected for holding extra drinking water.

Mediocre Ingenuity: tap water in gallon-sized ziploc bags,
separated by cardboard in an effort to keep them for
freezing into a wrinkled-together mess.  These went into the
freezer and will be used for cooking water as I can't stand
the plastic-flavor for drinking water.  If all else fails they
can be used for ice packs, etc at a later date.

Split wood stacked inside for when a fire needs to be started.

A well-stocked freezer.

A well-stocked pantry--stocked with food we actually eat.

Draft pillows in place for areas of the house that are
closed off during outages (to concentrate fire heat).

The generator has fuel and did a trial run this afternoon
(charging the camper batteries) to make sure all was
hunky-dory prior to need.

We're all set for the ice.