Sunday, January 29, 2012

Making Life a Little Less Cluttered and More Organized: Week 4

Well, I tried - really, I did! - to get some decluttering and organizing this week, but I just didn't get to much. I had a headache for 5 days. ((sigh)) I'm not prone to headaches, but I couldn't shake this mild one. Perhaps it went along with my slight sniffles? And then there was homeschooling, activities, visiting friends (of the kid-kind), shoveling the driveway and roof, taking care of the animals, staying ahead of Mt. Washmore, vacuuming, sweeping, bread-making, grocery shopping, and DISHES. Alright, not the dishes...the kids and Blue Spruce do those! LOL But it was a busy week!

"Hot Spots" Put Out
((echoo)) ((echoo))

Yeah, nothing was "put out" this week. Next week?

But ONE of us was productive!

Honey To Do List
Removed ALL Recyclable and Household Trash
Changed Light Bulbs
Fixed Crack Behind Furnace Line (for No More Frozen Heating Oil)

Friday, January 27, 2012

((drip)) ((drip)) January Thaw...for a Couple of Days: January 21 - 27

In My Life This Week
Snow. And shoveling. And lingering FRIGID temperatures. Temperatures that make your face and hands hurt within moments of being outside...and freeze your water pipes and shut down your furnace in the wee morning hours leaving your house a, um, "balmy" 58 degrees. ((wink)) (Thank you  Blue Spruce and furnace guy!) But the warmer temperatures have returned. At least for now.

Whatcha Makin'!
Snickerdoodle Blondies from Lovin' From the Oven! Another Pinterest find! Want some of these too? Hop over to Lovin' From the Oven here! (Psst! We only added 1/2 the brown sugar and left out the Turbinado sugar and the bars were definitely sweet enough.) Don't over-bake these!

Homeschool Happenings
A week of working on POSITIVE school attitude and behavior! The Trees had gotten into a rut of hemming and hawing over school assignments, needing constant refocus reminders and making our mornings (and afternoons) longer. It happens this time of  year. My goal every day is to finish up our work by lunchtime so the Trees have plenty of time in the afternoons for their own pursuits, friends and extracurriculars.

The solution? Earlier bedtimes, earlier wake-ups, separating the Trees into different rooms (if needed to minimize distractions), and no "extras" until assignments have been completed. Oh, and assignments written on our handy-dandy whiteboard! THIS rut seems to be "flowing" better!

A perfect place for our daily
assignments! Wipe off when
completed! (Photo from 3/11)

We traveled back to the educational farm on Thursday for "Joy of Chickens". I know - us and chickens! LOL - but we couldn't resist seeing SOMEONE ELSE'S chickens. These were Golden Comets. And after a quick lunch (from home) and a few samples of made-on-site cheese (from the cows we visited last week), we explored a bit, finding the walking trails for the spring. (I wish I had some fantastic photos to share with you, but in our harried rush out the door I forgot my camera.)

photo credit by JC Poultry at

Oh, and White Pine finished up his History Channel's "America: The Story of Us" work! Part of his studies included watching the 12 part documentary, reading the accompanying book and completing the episode guides. He learned (or reviewed) over 100 new historical vocabulary words and organized them onto a metal binder clip...with a little help from Cat. ((wink))

Cat scratched up White Pine's vocab cards for
a bed.

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Favorite resource! New High School GRAMMAR link find! English Grammar 101 has approximately 100 hours of on-line FREE instructional lessons with assessments! Did you know that 1 Carnegie Credit (High School) = 120 instructional hours? Almost a FULL credit here! Add in some Literature and Writing and voila!

Off the Bookshelf
We borrowed LOADS of books with winter themes from the library to enjoy before bedtime, but I decided to only share our favorites below (least you be wading through MANY Amazon stock photos).

Here, There and Everywhere!
❄ Cub Scout Pinewood Derby ❄ Basketball ❄ Cub Scouts ❄ Boy Scouts ❄ Clarinet ❄ Library Lego Club ❄ Chickens at the Farm ❄ Playing with B_, C_ and C_ ❄ Hanging out with C_ ❄

One of Our Favorite Things
Our librarian! There's nothing better for a homeschooling family than a GREAT children's librarian, huh?

Although there are LOTS of wonderful nature notebooking pages out there, they never seem to QUITE meet our needs. Any suggestions for an inexpensive computer program for creating notebooking pages? Or a website for free pages that has "everything"?

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share
Visit my blogger friend Katie at Katie's French Language Cafe for a chance to win Rosetta Stone French Level I! Or just to learn some French language and culture! Pretty cool (FREE) resource!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Making Life a Little Less Cluttered: Week 3

My motivation to work on my decluttering projects TOTALLY waned this week. I had to really push myself to get anything beyond "the usual" (i.e. laundry, dishes, trash, bathrooms, animals, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping...) done and hit those Fly Lady "hot spots"!

But I DID tackle some of those "dumping grounds" this week. It took MUCH longer than the 2 minutes Fly Lady suggests though. ((wink))

"Hot Spots" Put Out
A Repurposed Microwave Stand for My Bedside Stuff
On and Around My Rocking Chair
Re-bagged Donations (Since the Kids Got into Them)
Foyer Closet and Shoe Mats By Door
Purged and Organized Curriculum

SOME of the curriculum on the way
out! Feeling SO much better with
less on the shelves because I  saved
the books that are most useful.

Honey To Do List Completed
New Programmable Thermostat Installed
New Computer Router Installed
Fundraising Cookies Made
Refitted the Kid's Bathroom Toilet

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brrrr! Winter Chill Sets In: January 14 - 20

In My Life This Week
C-C-C-OLD! We had several days of REALLY frigid temperatures! NEGATIVE DIGITS! We worried about our hens in their coop, but they did just fine. (Our lil' coop doesn't have electricity.) Perfect days for hot cocoa and reading under cozy blankets on the couch! (I just wish we hadn't run out of hot cocoa mix!)

Whatcha Makin'!
Be Cool Peppermint Parfaits from The Magic Kitchen Cookbook! Chocolate-peppermint pudding with whipped topping and crushed candy cane sprinkles! Use instant chocolate pudding and peppermint extract. Quick and yummy!

Homeschool Happenings
Writing issues! Sugar Maple spent a LONG, LONG time copying and recopying her creative story onto paper Monday. It was a HUGE struggle for both of us, but I think she finally realized that she CAN write neatly with few errors if she slows down and focuses.

Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir and I started Apologia Astronomy again per Sugar Maple's request, so our couple of weeks of  Science unschooling has come to an end. This week we studied Mars and Space Rocks.

White Pine has taken over planning as well as doing his Earth Science (with a few guidelines from ME of course). It seems to be going well thus far, but we'll see what he scores on his first test! ((wink))

Art! Yep, it's been a while. Again. We studied warm and cool colors this week and made collages from old magazines.

We're SUPER excited to have gotten a family pass through May at an educational and working farm near by. We attended our first family program this week: making butter from fresh cream! We got to feed the Holsteins too!

A view of one of the farm buildings.
Sugar Maple feeding Fiona some hay.
See the cloud? That's from the cow's breathing
in VERY nippy barn! Brrr!

Off the Bookshelf
Do you read aloud daily to your kids? I've been finding it very hard to read to the kids before bedtime. Perhaps I'm just too tired at the end of the day to keep it up? But benefits of shared reading are great, so I'm trying again. I pulled The Children's Book of America off the shelf and am happy to say we snuggled and read on the couch most nights this week!

Here, There and Everywhere!
❄ Boy Scouts ❄ Basketball ❄ Clarinet ❄ Butter Making at the Farm ❄ Girl Scouts Polar Bear Camping ❄ S, C and X hung out ❄ Wii with Friends at the Rec Center ❄

One of My Favorite Things
Balsam Fir was SUPER excited when I mentioned that we had a kit to build a working engine model. On Saturday, he helped his Dad put it together. He's QUITE fascinated with the inner-working of, well, anything, so this has been a WONDERFUL project for him! I LOVED seeing the his focus and excitement! Future mechanic here! (And yeah, I missed the focus on ALL the photos! Grrrr!)

Balsam Fir holds a piece while Blue Spruce screws
another piece onto it. I'm sure THEY could tell you
the exact parts, but I can't! LOL
Watching Dad intently as he gets closer to finishing
the motor.
All finished and ready for a test
TOTALLY focused on the motor parts moving!

So, my 12-year-old is better at U.S. Geography than I am! We've been having "tournaments" to get the highest percentage on level 4 U.S. Geography on Shepard Software. Is this a bad thing? LOL I did edge out my 9-year-old though! Phew!

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share
"Always go forward and never turn back."
 Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish explorer of the mid-1700s who helped settled land for Mexico in California and never stopped even when he was sick, hurt and starving.

Oh, and I found this on Facebook.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making Life a Little Easier: Home Projects Week 2

What did I accomplish for extra projects in Week 2? Well, it was a hard, hard week to work on additional projects around the house. We were QUITE busy with homeschool and activities pretty much every day so time (and my energy level) were taken elsewhere. But I eliminated several Flylady-described "hot spots" (i.e. "dumping grounds" for anything and everything).

Home Projects Completed this Week
Decluttered and Organized the Cookbook/Telephone Book Cupboard - Removed/Donated MANY UNUSED Cookbooks
Decluttered the Top of the Microwave - WE CAN FINALLY SEE THE TOP!
Discarded Expired Medications and Stocked First Aid Kit
Organized Bathroom Shelves and Medicine Cabinet

Before - Paperwork/Cookbook/Telephone
Books Cupboard. No Before of Wicker
Basket and Plastic Container on Microwave
After! Telephone Books on Top Shelf,
Cookbooks on Middle Shelf, and Paperwork
on Bottom Shelf. NOTHING on Microwave!

Honey To Do List (i.e. Blue Spruce)
Weed Out Bookcase and Pile of Books on Rocking Chair
Bring ALL the Bulk Rubbish to the Transfer Station
Repaint the Front Door
Refit the Toilet Insides (Kid's Bathroom)
Get the Electronics and Books Out of the Sunroom

Productive week, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

As Winter Marches On: January 7 - 13

In My Life This Week
Decluttering and organizing! It's a BIG undertaking, but I'm up for the challenge...even if its going to take me ALL of 2012 to complete. There's simply too much stuff here and too many unfinished projects! Check out my first entry about "Making Life A Little Easier" here (and my 2nd week will be posted on Sunday).

And poor, poor Rhodie! Getting THIS out must've hurt!

Rhodie's egg on the left and the LARGEST large size
egg we could find in the carton on the right.
Rhodie's egg beside the large eggs in the egg carton...
we couldn't close the lid!
It turned out to be our very first DOUBLE YOLKER!
Balsam Fir was QUITE surprised to find THAT in the
frying pan for his breakfast! And yes, that's the yolk
color of home-grown eggs.

Whatcha Makin' Wednesday?
Yummy homemade TWIX BARS from Lizzy at That Skinny Chick can Bake! Yes, really! We opted to DOUBLE the recipe and make them in a 13x9. Easy-peasy! (If you'd like the recipe - and you do! LOL - head over to That Skinny Chick Can Bake!) I'd like to say that I froze half for later, but that didn't happen. ((wink)) These WILL definitely be added to my new recipe book!

Homeschool Happenings
I'm SO happy with the reading progress that Balsam Fir has been making this year! With his lingering, but improving visual tracking issues, I thought it was going to be a long and winding "road", but he's surprised me! I'm amazed at the challenges he's overcome despite his SPD! (To read about SPD, click here.) Just check out this reading progress:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - Lesson
25. Balsam Fir started 3 months ago with Lesson 10, but
he flew through the lessons until about 25-30 when we
had to slow down just a teensy bit.

And lesson 63. He needed only 2
"read throughs" before moving onto
the next lesson.

I'm in the middle of a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT with Sugar Maple as the VARIABLE. Ha! She's TOTALLY into Astronomy right now, pulling out the telescope to look at the moon and planets when she can, researching constellations and then locating them in the sky, and reading, reading, reading about the planets. All on her own. So, I dropped Apologia Astronomy from our schedule. Dropping ANYTHING from our daily subjects is a huge step for me! ((wink)) But for now we'll "unschool" her science and "ride" her enthusiasm until it wanes.

White Pine continues on with Saxon Algebra 1/2, Saxon Grammar and Writing, American History, and Earth Science. Nothing new to report, but we did spend some time polishing up his latest writing assignment before he typed it into the computer. I think he needs to spend some time practicing his typing! ((hen peck))

White Pine's 2nd Saxon and Writing
Assignment Final Copy - Click to

Our highlight this week was our trip into Boston and a day at the Museum of Science. (That's why my Friday post is a day late! LOL) Check back for photos as I hope to edit them in later on Saturday.

Here, There, Everywhere
❄ Pinewood Derby Clinic ❄ Basketball ❄ Cub Scouts ❄ Boy Scouts ❄ S, C and X Visited ❄ Museum of Science, Boston, MA ❄ White Pine hung out with B_ ❄

Our Favorite Thing this Week
Going on walks with my girl and our dog! It's such a special one-on-one time for us to have "girl talk", explore nature and get some exercise before dinnertime.  

Camping! Do any of you camp? Camper? Tent? I'm pondering whether or not to go TENT camping this season. We have a small pop-up, but there's just something, well, rustic and more natural about TENT camping. And Balsam Fir doesn't remember our days tenting. Ah, the memories! LOL

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share

Speckles is a hoot! LOL

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