Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New Home...

Hi everyone!

I wanted to thank you all for visiting Our Side of the Mountain! I've recently decided to begin a new blog to reflex the changes going on my life. I'd love for you to continue reading at A Great Balancing Act! Click here to visit! I'll begin posting on May 1!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Peak At Our Week: Session 5 Week 1 - Beginning the Home Stretch

In My Life This Week
Spring HAS arrived at Our Side of the Mountain! Relaxing in the hammock under the budded maple trees, the Spring Peepers and wild birds sing loudly and the red squirrels scamper around the branches above. Green grass is growing and early flowers have sprouted in Sugar Maple's garden. The heat inside the house has been shut off and the windows are open days. And we're on our last session of Year #9!

Cluck and Quacks
The Saplings fashioned a make-shift pen for the lil' chicks out in the veggie garden for their first outside romp now that they have most of their big girl feathers. Although Nutmeg, Amber and Butterfly were on high alert, they scratched and pecked and fluffed while the older hens, outside the wired fence, ignored them.

On the Dinner Menu
☀ Ham, Cheese and Broccoli Strata with Pineapple Chunks ☀ Hot Dog Roast Outside with Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, and S'mores ☀ Homemade Ham Fried Rice with Veggies 

Homeschool Happenings

I've wanted to figure out a way to get some of this "delight directed" learning in despite my more "traditional" school views. But where to start? Gardening! Alaska! This week I decided to sit down WITH THE SAPLINGS and just learn about gardening and Alaska without any preplanned studies. We read. We wrote. We drew. We discussed. Whatever worked. And the sapling were confused. Not our usual approach to school.

We also read on in SOTW 2: Middle Ages, completing our mapwork and wall timeline along the way. And the younger saplings worked on their Saxon Math and Math-U-See. Sugar Maple is super excited that she should finish her ENTIRE math book this year.

In preparation for writing his first 10 page+ research paper, White Pine read How to Write a Term Paper (Elizabeth James and Carol Barkin) and then chose his topic: Comparing Union and Confederate Civil War Battles . He spent the rest of the week taking and citing notes from his research...and finished up his Computer Science 101 class from Coursera and continued on with Biology, World History, Geography and Cultures, US History Video Project, and Algebra

What We're Reading
☀ Darling Jim (Christian Moerk) (SP) ☀  Julie of the Wolves (Jean Craighead George) (SM) ☀ The Bear Scouts (Stan and Jan Berenstain) (BF) Prince Caspian (CS Lewis) (Read Aloud) 

Places We Went, People We Saw
☀ Scouts (All) ☀ Softball (SM) ☀ Library ☀ Co-op/Playground (All) 

Our Favorite Thing

Something to Share

As always, linking up to these WONDERFUL blog hops!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Peak at MY Week: Home Alone

In My Life This Week
Mountain Mama was HOME ALONE this week! White Pine ventured off to Gettysburg and Washington DC with his Boy Scout troop, and Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir visited Grandpa and Nannie Lobster on the island. It took me all of 3 hours to start missing them. :sigh: But I made plans, stayed busy and enjoyed my extended "downtime".

I also spent time outside with the flock, letting them peck at the newly green grass and dig holes under the treehouse. But the "quackers" WOULD NOT stay put! I had to keep chasing them back into our yard. THE KICKER? They would watch me walk back to our driveway, chatter to each other, then high-tail it back to the brook on the other side of the road! Anyway, here's a photo of our newest hen, Ava, who lays little white eggs. I believe she is a Wheaten Ameraucana mix. She's a bit disheveled looking as she was a favorite of a roo. :wink:

I'm Cooking
Knowing there wouldn't be much cookin' in the kitchen this week, I created some pretty layered Salads-in-a-Jar for dinners. Have you seen these are Pinterest? Each Bell jar was filled with 2T Annie's Goddess dressing, 1/3 c sliced carrots, 1/3 c sweet peas, 2 oz prepackaged roasted chicken, 1/4 c dried cranberries, 1/4 c coarsely chopped natural almonds, 1 large diced hard-boiled egg, 1/3 c sliced and peeled cucumber, and 1 cup of shredded Romaine. According to My Fitness Pal recipe counter, these were a filling 500 calories with 44g carbs, 25g fat, 27g protein, 15g iron, and 895g sodium. Next time I'm roasting boneless skinless chicken to decrease the sodium, but I'm happy with the other numbers.

In Our Homeschool This Week
I spent time catching up on the saplings portfolios, organizing papers and projects, and planned for our final 7 weeks of Year #9. White Pine will research and write his very first 10 page+ paper, continuing on with Algebra, Biology and World and US History. Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir will continue to work on Math and Story of the World with independent unit studies on Alaska and gardening. 

I put together a couple of cute little gardening journals and printed out some state study lapbook mini books from Homeschool Helper Online (free), Currclick (fee) and Primary Graffiti (free). These books will help us to learn about and record our independent studies along with a pile of books from the library and movies from Netflix.

Helpful Homeschooling Tip
And I printed out FREE mazes from KrazyDad for Balsam Fir. (Jessica Lynette shared the link on her wrap-up last week.) Mazes are a WONDERFUL way for kids with visual tracking issues to exercise their eyes. I slipped the pages into a page protector and he'll solve them with wet-erase markers so they can be solved over and over. You should check out the Super Tough Mazes. WHOA!

Photo Credit

My Favorite Thing This Week
But otherwise I watched a lot of "chick flicks" borrowed from the library, "Switched at Birth" (season 2) on Netflix, read HUNDREDS of pages of Debbie Macomber swaying in the hammock, and hardly cooked a thing. I went out to breakfast and shopped with a friend. I don't think I've done that in 10 years? SERIOUSLY! And continued on with my major household declutter which, after 2 months, is pretty much complete. Phew!

A Photo, Link, Video, or Quote to Share

As always, linking up to these WONDERFUL blog hops!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Peak At Our Week: Session 4 Week 7 - We Spotted Spring

In My Life This Week
The EGG FACTORY is open! The fridge is spillin' over with our hens' gifts. Anyone have a special recipe using eggs? We're in need of something new! Or maybe you're local and wanted stop by for a dozen...

YARD WORK! With most, but not all the snow, melted, I stopped by Lowe's and picked up rakes and we got to work, taking turns raking and loading up the trailer with bulk trash. 

Things I Worked On (Sometimes With the Saplings)
☀ Decluttering the Diningroom/Schoolroom Bureau ☀ Catching up on Portfolios and Preparing for Our Final Session ☀ Creating a New Fire Pit by Reusing a Metal Wheel Barrel 

On the Dinner Menu
☀ Crockpot Jambalaya with Long Grain Rice ☀ Bagels with Cream Cheese and Fruit ☀ Pizza ☀ Cheeseburgers with Potato and Egg Salad and Carrots ☀ Chicken and Veggie Soup with Homemade Bread ☀ Chicken Enchiladas with Long Grain Rice 

Homeschool Happenings
With the weather warmer, most of our school year completed and our recent family upheavals, I've been taking a RELAXED approach to homeschooling. Our focus just isn't there. Although we do get some stuff done, right now it's more about family connections, healing hearts and soaking up Vitamin D

I did rescue a Spotted Salamander from the chicken and duck run one wet morning. They're on the move! Spotted Salamanders move towards vernal pools or ponds in early spring to breed and lay eggs. This one was only a few feet from our brook. Before we returned it to the woods we did some research and observations. Being nocturnal, it wasn't too lively. :wink: And we didn't touch it as it can give off a noxious substance when threatened.

White Pine
Algebra Tests 21-24, Bio Chap 27: Flat- and Roundworms, Bio: Chap 28: Anthropods, Intro to Physics: Bumper Cars, Intro to Computer Science 101, "National Geographic: North Korea", "Gettysburg"

Sugar Maple
Spectrum Reading pp 145-8, Saxon 65 Lessons 118-120, Sci Notebook: Uranus, Genghis and Kublai Khan and the Mongols, Marco Polo

Balsam Fir
Writer's Notebook, Math-U-See Lesson 5, Life Cycle of Frogs, Insects vs. Spiders, Genghis and Kublai Khan and the Mongols, Marco Polo

What We Read
Have you read Debbie Macomber? My friend from 3 Crazy Monkey's mentioned her on Facebook. It took 6 months (or so), but I FINALLY remembered to see if the library had her books. I'm on my 3rd one in 3 weeks. :wink: I REALLY enjoyed Between Friends and Susannah's Garden, but The Shop on Blossom Street is reading like a winner too.

White Pine was trying to "trudge through" Evanhoe, but it wasn't working so he's deciding on something else.  Sugar Maple is reading her way through the Bobbsey Twins. And Balsam Fir is reading aloud a bunch of I Can Read it All By Myself Dr. Suess books. I'm stepping back a little on his reading since it's been a struggle recently. I truly want him to ENJOY READING.

Places We Went, People We Saw
 ☀ Pinewood State Derby (BF) ☀ D__ (WP) ☀ Scouts (All) ☀ Gardening Class (WP) ☀ Library (WP/BF) ☀ Band Concert (SM) 

Our Favorite Thing
We couldn't help but watch this video over and over. HILARIOUS!

Something to Share

Thanks for stopping in! As always, linking up to these WONDERFUL blogs. 

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Peak at our Week: Session 4 Week 6 - Peep! Peep! Peep!

In My Life This Week
I read the cutest book this week. A REAL PAGE TURNER! (Oh, and I won this book from Our Neck of the Woods. Awesome, huh?) Once Upon a Flock by Lauren Scheuer is a DE-LIGHT-FUL book about keeping backyard chickens, and has the sweetest drawings. See? I love her whimsical sketches! If you love chickens, check out her blog. (And no, this wasn't a review, I just thought I would share with my chicken friends.)

Photo Credit

We had a QUICK trip to the island to spend Easter Sunday with my family. Although 8 hours of driving for 2 days of family fun wasn't all that fun, it was WONDERFUL to get away and leave behind some of the stress and responsibilities of being a single Mom. With all my sisters and their families and grandparents, I could spend time unwinding while the kids had a blast and got spoiled (and I didn't have to do a single dirty dish).

Well, it's April. It's that time of year when school starts dragging and warmer weather pulls us outside. Even with the squishy mud everywhere. (The mop is getting a work-out these days...) But we're looking forward to kayaking and gardening again. 40 days until summer vacation!

On the Dinner Menu
Taco Salad
Meatloaf Patties with Smashed Tators and Carrots
French Toast with Cinnamon-Baked Apples
Roasted Whole Chicken with Rice Pilaf and Green Beans

Homeschooling High School and Elementary
Ever have one of those unfocused weeks where you're not sure exactly what you REALLY did? I know we did something! Let me think!

White Pine
• Radicals and Histograms
• Sponges and Cnidarians
• Intro to Physics: Wheels and Computer Programming
• "Ken Burns: The West" (1800s)

Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir
Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge and Jigsaw Jones: The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster
• Knights and Crusades
• Richard the Lionhearted and the Magna Carta
• Decimals and Estimation/Rounding
• Creative Writing and Handwriting
 Scooters and Bikes

Places We Went, People We Saw
☀ Grandpa and Nannie Lobster, Cousin Noodle and Family (All)  Boy Scout Camp-In (WP) ☀ Scouts (BF) ☀ C__ visited (SM) ☀ Garage (:sigh:) ☀ Clarinet/Band (SM) ☀ Playground with New Friends (SM/BF) 

Our Favorite Thing
We were planning to add some new members to our flock this spring, but I had decided to hold off. (Un)fortunately, Nannie Lobster had some extra "peeps". :wink: The Wellies should lay brown-red eggs and Ava, an Ameraucana, should lay blue eggs. There was a WHITE egg in the nesting box on Tuesday. Did she forget to apply the blue?

Something to Share

Thanks for stopping by Our Side of the Mountain. I'm linking up to these WONDERFUL blogs.

Oh, and don't forget the Explorers Blog Hop! Click here to add your outdoor fun! I'd love to see what you're doing with the kids this spring!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Explorers Blog Hop: Meandering Essentials

I'd never call us hard-core hikers. We're just a family who likes to get out for long walks in the woods, sometimes through marshes and along lakes and sometimes up small mountains. We meander. It's not about making the summit or finishing the trail, but about exploring wherever we are. But some things can make that exploring much more enjoyable.

Our Top 5 Meandering Essentials...And Some Extras

1. Backpack
It's simple! Choose a backpack that feels comfortable and holds what you need to bring. You don't need anything fancy or expensive (unless you're doing more than meandering through the woods for a few hours). And your little kids? Get them one too! They'll love wearing one like everyone else! And having them carry their own water, snacks and jacket will lighten your load.

2. Footwear
Depending on where you hike, you may need some sturdy hiking boots with "grippy" soles, but if you're on flat, "park" trails, then supportive sneakers will do the job. I wouldn't recommended open-toed sandals or flip fops.

3. First Aid
We have yet to use our first aid kits, but they're there and they're important. Don't leave home without them! I purchased EACH OF US a Johnson and Johnson Mini Kit from Walmart for $1.20 and then added some other things such as antihistamine, mole skin (for blisters), tweezers, and a tick remover. We also have small bottles of DEET and sunscreen as well as unscented baby wipes, Duct Tape and a Swiss Army Knife. (Obviously don't give young or untrained kids knives. All my saplings have had supervised training with their SMALL, simple knives and understand that they are only used in emergencies.) Oh, and don't forget a map of trail, compass (if you know how to use it) and your cell phone. But as important as these supplies are, don't forget to tell someone where you are going and when you anticipate returning.

4. Layers
Certainly dress for the weather, but be prepared for sudden changes. We have LL Bean waterproof jackets OR cheap Dollar Tree rain ponchos in our backpacks in case of a pop-up shower as well as long-sleeved fleeces or thin sweatshirts for temperature dips. Depending on the season, we have hats and gloves or baseball caps. And bring an extra pair of socks, preferably wool or synthetic, because wet feet are the worse.

5. Energy Builders
Water, water, water! In addition to water, bring some snacks. Everyone has their favorites, but make sure it's something that can take bumps in your backpacks as you meander along. I often pack our stuff in small reuseable plastic containers with locking lids so I don't have to worry about something getting crushed to crumbles.

6. Extras
My saplings like to bring binoculars and some hand lenses along for viewing wildlife and plants up close. Field guides help to answer those probing questions about what a plant is called...or, in our case, who "pooed in the park"...and nature journals can be a fun keepsakes of your adventures. And I never meander without my camera.

But no matter what you bring or where you meander, it's the having fun and enjoying your walk in the woods with kids that's the best!