Friday, November 25, 2011

The Traveling Trees: November 19-25

In My Life This Week
Road trip! The plan was to meander up to the island on Wednesday for Thanksgiving, stopping here and there, but so much for well-laid plans...A winter storm was coming! (How ironic! A storm before Halloween and a storm before Thanksgiving - does that mean our next one is before Christmas? Hmmm...) So, we skipped school, packed up, put the outside "stuff" away (least it be buried until April), and hit the road. We quickly stopped at DeLorme - the map place - and saw Eartha, the largest globe anywhere, and LL Bean for more water bottles and to see the Christmas lights. The kids travel great! And any road trip without backseat bickering is ALWAYS a success!

Whatcha Makin' Wednesday?
(Join the linky party by clicking the sidebar button.)

We never seem to do our bakin' and cookin' on WEDNESDAY, but several "somethings" get created every week. LOL In prep for Thanksgiving at my sister's house, we made a couple delish New England pumpkin pies.

Homeschool Happenings
Vacation! We packed our Bean backpacks with clothing, hiking odds and ends, and field guides, but NO SCHOOL BOOKS. This week was for hanging out with family and wandering through the woods!

  • Blue Spruce and the Trees helped the scout pack with church clean-up on Saturday then they built adorable sleighs with Santa and reindeer at Lowe's Build and Grow.
  • White Pine's buddy "hung out" with him on Saturday and Sunday after the church clean-up, and then the kids from next door popped over too. I'm thankful that they finished raking the leaves off the yard for me!
  • White Pine went over to another buddy's house to celebrate his birthday Sunday evening.
  • Sugar Maple had Girl Scouts on Monday and another clarinet lesson on Tuesday.
  • White Pine and Sugar Maple visited some friends for a couple of hours on Tuesday before we headed out to the island. 
What Worked/Didn't Work For Us
After 12 weeks of schooling, it was relaxing and re-energizing to have most of a week off. (We completed assignments on Monday.) Sometimes you just need a break from the books, although the learning marches on.

December CAN NOT be next week! Where did Autumn go?! I am glad that the snow has held off except for that weird pre-Halloween storm though.

Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share
Balsam Fir has been asking about getting a MOHAWK. He really doesn't have the kind of hair that works well for a MOHAWK - CURLY! - but why not? It's just hair, right? LOL I did keep the sides long enough to buzz everything down though if it doesn't work out! ((wink)) And he lost his very first tooth!

Linking up to These GREAT blog hops:
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Sneeze Review: Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks: Confessions of April Grace by KD McCrite

"A Clique of mean girls, a grandma - yes, you heard it - a grandma stuck in a love triangle, a church pageant run by a dictator, and a mom who's acting very mysterious - it all sounds like a disaster, but that's just another day in the super funny life of April Grace Reilly."

I can relate to April Grace. Growing up in the 1980s with BIG hair, leggings and MULLETS was an interesting time. I was fortunate enough not to have to deal with "mean girls" in MY school though. Or a grandma with 2 boyfriends. (My grandmas were celebrating MANY years of marriage to my grandpas.) But growing up in junior high and finding out your mom's having another baby - well, that I can relate too.

April Grace is a spunky 11-year-old living on a farm in Arkansas in 1986. She experiences BIG changes as she starts junior high and even BIGGER changes at home when her Mom becomes unexpectedly pregnant and can't run the church Christmas program when she's confined to bedrest. When April Grace suggests demanding Isabel run the Christmas program, she doesn't expect that SHE'LL be helping out too. But all things work out for a reason and April Grace learns a thing or two along the way about family and love.

My 2¢
I enjoyed reading Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks: Confessions of April Grace. There's something fun about a spunky girl! Written from her viewpoint, the story is lively, personal, humorous, and easy to read. Teenage girls (or us Moms who grew up the small towns in the 1980s) will be able to relate to April Grace and her experiences. I wouldn't recommend it for pre-teen girls though as some topics (such as adult dating) are for older girls.

Disclosure: As a member of the Tyndale Media Center Review Team, I receive free products in exchange for a frank and unbiased review on Our Side of the Mountain. These reviews are my own personal thoughts and opinions.

You Are My Sunshine!

Thanks SO much to Lisa from Home to 4 Kiddos for the Sunshine award!  I've enjoyed reading about your days with your 4 beautiful kiddos. 

This award is given to bloggers who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogsphere". I'm honored that you nominated me, Lisa!

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:
1. Thank the person who gave the award to you
2. Answer the questions below (and let readers know a little more about you)
3. Pass the award onto 10-12 more bloggers who inspire you, link to their blogs, and let them know

1. Favorite color: blue
2. Favorite animal: penguin
3. Favorite number: 3
4. Favorite drink: water
5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
6. My passion: KIDS!
7. Giving or Getting Presents: Giving
8. Favorite day: Friday
9: Favorite flowers: Lupines

And here are my picks for bloggers that inspire through their blogs and/or comments:

(There are MANY, MANY bloggers out there that inspire me!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nature Studies: Eastern White Pine and Pine Cones

The Trees have been asking (and asking) about Nature Studies lately. Formal nature studies! We ALWAYS talk "nature" out on the trails, but they've been hankering for something a little more in-dept and hands-on with field guides. Not wanting to make our nature studies "schoolish" but at the same time meeting their learning desires, I decided to print-out and combine simple notebooking pages with outdoor exploration and hands-on activities. So, we're starting with our tree names! (I have no idea where we'll find MY tree name: Sweet Pepperbush! LOL)

Eastern White Pine and Pine Cones! The pine tree is our state tree and it's flower, the pine cone and tassel, is our state, well, flower. LOL These trees can grow up to 100 feet high and are plentiful in Maine forests and used for furniture making.

 No nature study is complete without some outside exploration, right? So, we headed out to compare young and old pine tree bark, and dead and living pine needles (leaves!).

 And then we gathered some closed and opened pine cones and a few bunches of needles and headed inside. Did you know that Eastern Pine trees have clusters of 5 pine needles? (It's easy to remember if you think that 5 needles can stand for W-H-I-T-E! LOL) Red pines have clusters for 2 needles. Anyway, the kids carefully took apart pine cones searching for seeds, and then decided to plant the seeds in pots.

Using our favorite field guides, the trees filled out notebooking pages.

Balsam Fir
Sugar Maple

White Pine

Up next: Sugar Maple...although the maples are looking a bit BARE this time of year! LOL

As Fall Marches On: November 12-18

And the Winner is...
Jenny from Academy of Thousand Oaks of my very first giveaway - My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking software. Congratulations! (Look for an e-mail soon with your prize information.)

In My Life This Week
Dirty, unorganized kid's bedrooms! Blue Spruce and I did a lot of purging and storing of clothing and toys, and have many bags of items to donate! ((wink)) Now, to tackle the utility room. I think I'm going to have to consume some A LOT of caffeine for that! LOL

But caffeine and purging will have to wait while poor Balsam Fir feels better. I thought the cold would pass him by, but nope! now it's his turn. And White Pine thinks he's next. This cold has made its rounds so hopefully it'll be gone soon.

Whatcha Makin' Wednesday
(Click on the sidebar button to share your fab kid-friendly recipes!)

Sourdough rolls! White Pine made some sourdough starter this past weekend and we enjoyed wonderful, tangy rolls. And making starter wasn't that difficult!

Sourdough Starter
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
16 oz warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a GLASS BOWL, mix the yeast and water with a WOODEN SPOON. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add flour and mix. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand for 24 hours in a warm spot. Stir and recover and place back in warm spot. Stir for 2-3 more days until mixture bubbles and smells sour. Recover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bubbly Sourdough Starter

To Replenish Starter: After using a portion of starter, replenish with equal amounts of flour and warm water. For example, if  you use 10 oz (1 1/4 c) of starter, add 1 1/4 c flour and 1 1/4 c warm water to remaining starter, stir well, cover, and let stand in warm place for 3-5 hours until bubbly. If not used at the end of one week, remove 1 cup of starter and replenish with 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water, stir well, cover, and sit in warm place 3-5 hours until bubbly. Keep in refrigerator.

Sourdough Bread or Rolls
10 oz sourdough starter
5-6 oz warm water
1 3/4 t salt
4 c bread flour
3 T sugar
2 t active dry yeast

Place in bread machine pan in order listed. Select basic setting and crust color and start. OR follow your regular homemade bread kneading and double rising then bake as a loaf or 12 rolls.

Homeschooling Happenings
What excitement! THE CATALOG came in the mail this week. The Trees POURED over THE CATALOG excitedly, making lists, researching and making plans. Those plans went into effect immediately with White Pine sawing down a decrepit wooden trellis in the woods and repairing it for plant support. And there's discussion of digging up a large portion of the yard with a rototiller...What CATALOG? This one of course! LOL

Gurney's Seed and Plant Catalog

Did you see my entry on A Day in The Life: Fall edition? Check out what we did on Monday hour-by-hour here!

And don't miss our nature studies here! We studied the Eastern White Pine!

On Our Bookshelf

  • Grandpa and Nannie with cousin Noodle visited over the weekend, bringing their 9-month-old Collie puppy...who gnawed on White Pine's glasses. ((sigh))
  • Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir and Noodle built "science labs" at Lowe's Build and Grow.
  • The boys next door came over the "hang out".
  • White Pine and Balsam Fir had scout meetings.
  • ♫  Sugar Maple had a clarinet lesson. ♫
  • Sugar Maple went to Kid's Book Club and Balsam Fir went to PJ Storytime at the library while White Pine volunteered.
  • Sugar Maple had 2 basketball practices.

Our Favorite Thing This Week
Chee, our almost 27-week-old Americana-Barred Rock hen, laid her first egg! Our first egg from our flock of chickens that we incubated from eggs this past spring. Balsam Fir was SUPER excited and got to bring the egg inside. Now, who gets it for breakfast?!

Chee Laying in the Coop

Our First Egg!
Questions/Thoughts I Have
Do you have a favorite Christmas or holiday ORNAMENT-MAKING craft that you do with the kids?

Linking up to these WONDERFUL Blog Hops:

The Homeschool Mother's JournalWeird Unsocialized HomeschoolersHip Homeschool Moms Button

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Day in the Life: Fall Edition - November 14, 2011

How about a sneak peak at a day at our house? 

Every day is different around there. We keep a semblance of a schedule each day, but it's not always followed precisely. Days flow. Learning and play happens. Isn't that how it should be? 

♫  Monday, Monday! ♫

7:30am - 9:00am: We rise and shine! Sort of. There's not a lot of shining to be had this morning. More dragging with half-closed lids and grumbled monosyllabic answers while filling cereal bowls and toasting toast. The aftermath of a busy weekend with travel and family. But by school time everyone is more lively and jovial. And dressed. Mostly. Phew!

8:30am-8:50am: Sugar Maple decided to practice clarinet and Balsam Fir made it a duet on the keyboard. This concert helped wake everyone up! LOL

9:00am - 11:30pm: School time!

11:30pm - 12:10pm: Bento Picnic Time! Have you heard of Bentos? They're Japanese "box meals" that some Moms have added  GREAT "twists" too. Now my Bentos aren't as creative as those ones on-line, but they still filled bellies for a fun game of 1-on-1 basketball!

12:10-1:30pm: School time!

1:30pm - 4:25pm: Chicken chasing time! Not really! LOL We free range the hens under supervision, which gets the kids outside for HOURS of sunshine and fresh air. Win-win, right? The Trees did Arts and Crafts at the outside table, drove matchbox cars on the driveway, shot baskets, measured out a larger SPRING garden space and started plans, and had chicken cuddles. (Yes! Chickens CAN be cuddled! LOL) After cleaning up from school and lunch, folding laundry off the line and sweeping, I settled down for a cup of steaming green tea. Ahhhh!

3:15pm-3:45pm: Sugar Maple popped inside to make a small batch of pumpkin spice cookies for snack.

4:25pm-5:30pm: Chores first, quiet reading after, followed by a "movie". Today the kids watched "Liberty Kids: The Intolerable Acts" on You Tube. I suppose this part of our day could be considered School Time too, huh? LOL

5:20pm - 6:00pm: Blue Spruce and Balsam Fir left to go on a Cub Scouts' "Go See" at the library where they learned a little local history.

5:30pm - 6:45pm: Free time for the older Trees while I made dinner: oven-roasted chicken with rice pilaf and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. When Blue Spruce and Balsam Fir returned from the library, we sat down to a family dinner.

6:45pm - 8:00pm: Balsam Fir took a MUCH NEEDED warm, sudsy bath while Maple Sugar took a shower in another bathroom. They settled in for the night at 8:30pm.

8:00pm-10:15pm: Blue Spruce,White Pine and I "hung out", watching TV, playing "Angry Birds" and reading. (Yeah, I know, "Angry Birds", but Pine plays a few games and then reads.) I got a jump on Tuesday by tidying the kitchen, diningroom and livingroom, vacuuming, and sweeping. White Pine headed off for a shower and bed by 10:00pm. Soon after, I called it a night too.

Linking up to these GREAT blog hops!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Go Away BIG, BAD Germs! : November 5 - 11

In My Life This Week
((sniffle)) ((sniffle)) A cold. ((shiver)) It's that time of year, isn't it? At least in our "neck of the woods"! Things were a bit slower this week as I tried to rest. ((cough))

(Psst! Don't forget to enter my FIRST EVER giveaway - My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software - if you haven't! I'm lovin' the software! A winner will be chosen through on 11/18. Click here to enter!)

Oh, and I was nominated for the 2011 Homeschool Blog Awards! Please vote for me under #20 Nature/Field Trips here! Thanks! So exciting!

Whatcha Makin' Wednesday
(Link up YOUR fab recipes with the kids by clicking on the sidebar button)

Sugar Maple made a family favorite this week: Toll house Cookie Bars.  Look at the chocolate! Yum!

Homeschool Happenings
Sugar Maple's friend C__ joined us the Maine Wildlife Park on Saturday. (We LOVE visiting the park in the late fall when it's less busy!) This park rehabilitates sick or hurt native animals then releases them back into their habitats IF they can survive. We saw white-tailed deer, an albino raccoon and porcupine, a moose, a tailless Mountain lion, a Canada Goose with a broken wing, red and gray foxes, 2 Black Bears, a Golden Eagle and Bald Eagle with damaged wings, a turkey vulture, a Peregrine Falcon, different species of owls, and watched a raven taking a water bath. It was a beautiful day at the park!

Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir and I continued on with their Apologia Astronomy studies. We finished up Venus this week and started Earth. The Trees spent a couple of CHILLY nights outside with Blue Spruce looking at Jupiter and a couple of it's moons through the telescope. Pretty cool stuff! And White Pine finished up Chapter 4 sections 2-4 in Earth Science on Plate Tectonics.

Did you see our first week of Thanksgiving studies? We didn't have as much time this week, but we wrapped up our "background info" and started our PAPER DOLL PLAY! Parts and lines were given out and the younger Trees started to make the set! This is going to be a FUN project...if we can pull it off. (Did I mention that I've never been in a play and I've only been to a couple?)

We got off on a tangent with American History, watching "Liberty Kids" and "Schoolhouse Rock" on the Boston Tea Party. Balsam Fir especially like the videos.

On the Bookshelf

Place We Went and People We Saw
White Pine "hung out" at his buddy T__'s house overnight.
White Pine helped a fellow Boy Scout with his Eagle project.
Sugar Maple had "girl time" with her friend C__.
Balsam Fir ran around with the boy's from next door.
All the "trees" had Scout meetings this week.
Sugar Maple went to the state house with her troop.
Sugar Maple had a Clarinet lesson.
White Pine and Blue Spruce headed off to MA for an overnight.

Our Favorite Thing This Week
The unseasonably HIGH temperatures! We saw 65 sunny degrees and spent hours and hours outside. (If only the sun didn't set at 4:20pm though!)

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Recycle! Reuse! Reduce! Repurpose! Look at these handy-dandy containers with handles! All from household cleaner containers! Just wash out the containers, cut out an opening (leaving the handle), and ta da! Perfect for markers, crayons and manipulatives! (Thanks MIL!)

What's Working/Not Working For Us
Extracurriculars! I'm on the search for another, NEW activity for the kids, something that we can do together that isn't MILES and MILES away.

Questions/Thoughts I Have
So, I've decided - I think! LOL - on a high school Biology curriculum for White Pine next year, but he DOES NOT want to do the dissections. Any suggestions for virtual labs? And is Biology LAB considered LAB without the dissections even if other (microscope) experiments are completed?

Photo(s), Video, Link, or Quote to Share

Our hens Sassy and Roadrunner decided
to fly up and roost on TOP of the playset!

Linking Up To:
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