Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hike 12 in 2012: Hike 2 - S_'s Cove

On a chilly late afternoon, a snow storm approached Maine and clouds filled the island horizon. Most people think it's a good time to hunker down with the TV and a warm drink, but we headed out for a 3 mile walk around S_'s Cove near the Atlantic Ocean.

S_'s Cove

We parked near the shore, zipped up our jackets, explored the beach for a few minutes, then headed off. The trail isn't really a trail; it's a lane and a half wide road, sometimes dirt, sometimes tar, that winds around the cove and through the woods. There are a few houses, including some wonderful farms, but few vehicles drive by (even without snow threatening).

Beach Stones
Rock Crab Shell and Knotted Wrack Seaweed on Shore
Around the Rocky Cove

Although this walk wasn't for NATURE STUDYING, we ALWAYS notice those things around us that are unusual, interesting, beautiful. We also notice those things that we wouldn't like to see...aluminum cans, plastic grocery bags and snack wrappers. (Please dispose of litter appropriately. We thank you!)

A Break on the Way
A Clearing Overlooking the Ocean
Artist's Fungi on a Dead Tree
Hanging Moss? Any ideas?
Shelf Fungi on a Tree

 By the time we reached the cove again the sun was setting and the wind felt stronger. There wasn't a beautiful sunset through the overcast sky, but the ocean was calm...before the storm.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ooey, Gooey Mud: February 18-24

In My Life This Week
Melting! I really was hoping for a less snowy winter. Guess what? I'm getting one...unless Mother Nature is just teasing me and the snow will arrive in MARCH or APRIL. Can you imagine?! April SNOW showers? Nooo! Anyway...High 30s and low 40s = A LOT of mud + puddles! And GOOD TIMES for Balsam Fir! I don't think there's a puddle from here to the end of the road that hasn't been stomped in...multiple times. ((wink))

This Muck is Near the Chicken Coop!

Sailing Boats in a Puddle on our TARRED
Driveway. And Yes, in his PJ bottoms, Black
Rubber Boots and Winter Jacket. LOL

Makin' and Bakin'!
Oh, I joined Meal Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie! Did you see my meal plans for the next 3 weeks? Check them out here!

What do you think of my latest attempt at a Bento? It seems a little "dull", huh? The kids are enjoying them though, and they make less messes on the road. I'll have to come up with more CREATIVE Bento meals!

Swiss Cheese, Reduced Fat Townhouse Crackers, Sliced Ham,
Leftover from Breakfast Cinnamon Roll, Low-fat Peach Yogurt,
Granola Bar, and Carrot/Pepper Sticks

Homeschool Happenings
It was (another) of THOSE kind of weeks where our schedule was up-and-down. With several activities outside the house in the mornings this week, it was hard to get into the "groove" of school when we were AT home in the afternoons. We're DEFINITELY morning schoolers (although not TOO early)! When afternoons roll around our focus is elsewhere. And then - SURPRISE! - I decided to pack us up and head to my family's house on the island for most of the week.

On Monday, we went to the farm and watched a presentation from an animal rescuer and rehabilitation expert. We saw a Great Horned Owl, Boa Constrictor, Sugar Glider, Flying Squirrel, Cockatiel, and Ferret, all rescued in our area, as well as a few other animals. And on Tuesday, we returned to the farm to learn about sheep fleece and did a couple felting craft activities then toured the cow and chicken barns and played at a playground near by.

Oh, and we did this REALLY neat friendship bracelet craft from Homemade Gifts Made Easy using a cardboard disc and yarn. (Click here for picture AND video tutorial to make these COOL bracelets!) Another awesome Pinterest find! (Stay tuned for photos next wrap-up.)

And while visiting my family, the saplings each did a little school work mixed with nature studies and TV edu-shows. White Pine read his A History of Us, watched "How the State Got Their Shapes", and TRIED helping Grandpa paint lobster trap buoys.  Sugar Maple read Apologia Astronomy and worked on her notebook and helped take care of cousin Noodle. And Balsam Fir did a few Saxon Math lessons. All, read, watched Discovery and History Channel programs, explored nature on walks around the rocky coast, and played Rummikub. A relaxed rest of the week!

Off the Bookshelf
Again, Balsam Fir met the Read 4 Books for a Library Chocolate Pop Challenge this week (but we won't be heading back to the library until NEXT week). I'm SO glad I found something that encourages him to read (for now)! Next time, I'm choosing 2-3 Dr. Suess readers since his birthday is coming up!

And Sugar Maple wanted to earn one of those fundraiser pops too! So, I decided to challenge her with different genres and/or higher reading levels. She finished one book this week and started another.

Learning With Netflix
This week we watched some GREAT shows through Netflix streaming!

Here, There and Everywhere!
♥ Library Make-and-Take: Fleece Hats ♥ Sparks Ark Animal Demonstration ♥ Wool Felting at the Farm ♥ Library Movie Night: "Smurfs" ♥ C_ came over to play Wii Sports ♥ Playing with Cousin Noodle ♥ Swimming in the Pool ♥

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Ever wanted to learn to play chess? Me either! LOL But I found this REALLY cool website, ChessKIDS Academy, a while back that teaches you the rules and has on-line games to play. So, if YOUR kids want to learn Chess, check it out here! I think I might have to do the lessons and challenge Mr. White Pine! ((wink)) Favorite (forgotten) resource this week!

One of My Favorite Things
"Mom, I don't need your help!"

Seeing Balsam Fir pick up and read a book for the first time on his own! He didn't get all the words sounded out correctly, but what a wonderful moment to see him TRYING and his excitement doing it all on his own!

What's Working/Not Working?
Earlier bedtimes are WORKING...for me! Isn't it odd that if I stay up until 11:00pm or later I toss-and-turn for HOURS, but going to bed at 10:00pm and I fall asleep quickly? Earlier to bed means earlier to rise so I have time time ease into the day with a quiet breakfast and a jump start on the housework.

Activities in the morning hours are NOT WORKING...for us! Limiting those activities to just once a week is a must for more accomplished weeks of learning.

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share

Linky Love
Favorite Resource This WeekThe Homeschool Mother's Journal
Tots and MeClassified: MomHip Homeschool Hop ButtonMagical Mouse SchoolhouseTeach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packetslearning ALL the time!!
Chestnut Grove Academy3Boys&aDog DEALS!Photobucket

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - 3 Weeks of Munchables!

My first ever link-up to Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

I probably do my meal planning a little differently than most: I don't plan a particular meal for a certain day, but plan meals with what we have on hand and the grocery store sales flyer, buy the ingredients and choose what works from the list for that specific dinner. It's more like a restaurant I suppose! LOL We have a menu and pick what we feel like having that night!

And I also don't plan for a week. The nearest grocery store is 12-13 miles away. Sure, sure - it's not THAT far, but I'm super busy with homeschooling and the kid's activities and housework and our animals so I don't want to be heading to the store every week. And honesty I dislike shopping and don't want to do any more that I have too. (Blue Spruce picks up any missing ingredients, fresh fruit and veggies, and milk as needed after work since it's "next door" to the store.) 

So, here's my menu for AT LEAST 18 dinners! Remember the dinners aren't in any particular order as we just pick and choose what appeals to us that night or what needs to be eaten fresh, and veggies often change depending on what we have fresh (as we prefer them to frozen). And sometimes I "double up" a meal and we have it twice or the kids ask for CEREAL NIGHT (and CEREAL NIGHT is a much loved meal for the KIDS), so I probably have more like 21 dinners here.

Dinner Menu
Honey Sesame Pineapple Chicken with Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli
Hamburgers with Potato Salad and Steamed Corn
Baked Haddock Sandwiches (on Homemade Wheat Rolls) with Baked Fries and Steamed Carrots
BLT Pasta Salad
Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Marinara and Steamed Green Beans (2 meals)
Shake n Bake BBQ Chicken with Baked Tator Tots/Baked Potatoes and Cucumber/Pepper Slices (2 meals)
Beef Roast with Roasted Olive Oil Potatoes and Steamed Peas
BBQ Shredded Pork Sandwiches (on Homemade Wheat Rolls) with Carrot Slaw
Scrambled Eggs, Ham and Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches with Melon Chunks
Baked Haddock with Rice Pilaf and Steamed Carrots (2 meals)
Cheddar-Rice Krispy-Shake-n-Bake Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans
Cheesy Corn and Chicken Casserole with Steamed Broccoli
Baked Fried Chicken Nuggets with Baked Fries and Steamed Green Beans
Cheeseburger Soup with Fruit Salad
Scrambled Eggs with Blueberry Pancakes

What about breakfast, lunch and snacks? Well, breakfast is usually some combination of cereal, oatmeal, toast, or homemade muffins with fruit, yogurt and/or skim milk. Lunch is dinner leftovers or sandwiches and canned soup with fresh veggies and fruit. And snacks are foods like crackers and cheese or PB, grab-and-go fruit, yogurt, popcorn, homemade snack mixes, granola bars, and even leftovers.

Oh, and dessert! How could I forget that! LOL We made dark chocolate and orange fudge the other day. It should last a few more days. We have ingredients to make cakes or cupcakes and cookies if we're hankering for something sweet.

For 21 days of munchies I spent $255.00 for a family of 5. (And teenage boys really should count as 2 people, right? LOL So, 6!) I also spent a portion of that on additional ingredients beyond the next 3 weeks such has baking supplies, spices, pasta, pasta sauces, snack bars, dried non-fat milk, and oatmeal.  (Planning meals around sales and using coupons REALLY does help!) We'll need to pick up a few more gallons of milk, cheese and fresh fruit and veggies as the weeks go on though. 

So, what are YOU planning this week?

Friday, February 17, 2012

20 Birthday Candles: February 11 - 17

In My Life This Week
Happy birthday to my wonderful boys! Would you believe my sons had the same due date 6 years apart? Yes! LOL White Pine turned 13 on February 15th and will celebrate with a couple of friends this weekend. (Officially a teenager! Nooooo!) And Balsam Fir turned 7 on February 13th. He had 11 friends over to celebrate on Sunday with a "construction dig" cake and ice cream. Oh, how fast they grow up! ((sigh))

Blowing Out Birthday Candles!

Makin' and Bakin'!
Another attempt at a Bento Lunch! (Check out some really cool Bentos here.) Not-so-funny story with this latest homemade ended up in poor Balsam Fir's lap! He set the attached container lid on a cuff of Sugar Maple's jacket which I didn't see. I grabbed the coat to move it and - WHOOPS! - there it went! And it held BLUEBERRY YOGURT. Yep! ((sighs)) Things happen, right?

Energy Bites with First Years spoon and napkin, ginger-
bread man shaped ham-and-cheese sandwich on whole
wheat bread with tortilla chips, baby carrots and blueberry
yogurt with fresh wild Maine blueberries sprinkled on top
 in a Tupperware lunch container

Energy Bites? I know, I know! Those of you who know Balsam Fir know that he certainly doesn't need ENERGY, but these little yummy bite-sized treats are a GREAT belly filler! Made from peanut butter, honey, oats, and chocolate chips, Balsam Fir LOVED them! I nixed the flax seed and used Wheat Germ (since I had it) and left out the coconut (since Balsam Fir doesn't like it) and added raisins, but otherwise I followed the recipe to the T. Ha! Wanna make them? Click here! Another fab Pinterest find!

Oh, and I made cheesecakes for the 2nd time ever! Raspberry and plain for White Pine's birthday celebration! I found the recipe here at Kraft Foods and pinned it to my "Tried and True...Maybe!" board. Super easy!

Homeschooling Happenings
So, we took Monday off. We REALLY needed it! Thursday and Friday I functioned with a "belly bug", still keeping up with school, activities and housework, and on Saturday we spent ALL day wrapping up basketball for the season, and then on Sunday we cleaned house and celebrated Balsam Fir's birthday. (Not sure why we cleaned house BEFORE the party...) White Pine went ice fishing with the Boy Scouts, camping out in a cabin for the CHILLY weekend. Sleep wasn't on the camping list though! When Monday rolled around we needed a SLOW day.

Now, I wish I had some totally fun activities (with photos) to show you, but by Wednesday the lot of us had come down with an energy-zapping cold with congestion. We prodded ahead with school, but didn't get to anything beyond the basics. ((sigh)) It's been a rough winter for illness around here!

White Pine's Comparison Drawing and Notes on Ponds
and Lakes for his Earth Science Notebook

Balsam Fir's Lego Instructions to Build
Something. LOL Cute though!
And on Friday we did Hodge Podge School; a little of this and a little of that. We finished up Value in How to Teach Art to Children, making spring-ish butterflies and dragonflies using light and dark colors, while listening to Handel's "Water Music". White Pine read a WHOLE A History of Us book (6). Sugar Maple conducted a "Cloud in a Bottle Experiment" from Apologia Astronomy for everyone to see. And Balsam Fir played with Snap Circuits.  We all read some and watched "Bill Nye" through Netflix streaming and made homemade pizza later in the day.

Here, There and Everywhere!
♥ Boy Scout Camping Ice Fishing ♥ Basketball Round Robin and All-Stars Games ♥ Cub Scouts ♥ Boy Scouts ♥ Clarinet/Band Practice ♥ Library Story and Craft Time ♥ 

Off the Bookshelf
The Candy Man makes chocolate lollipops for our library to "sell" for donations (fundraiser). Balsam Fir ALWAYS wants one (or two) when we visit, so I made a deal with him: read 4 books between visits and I'll get him a chocolate lobster. He was "down" for this deal! (And I'm OK with this kind of bribery if it encourages him to do something that he finds particularly daunting.) This week he read:

Our favorite read aloud was If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dussen, a EB White Read Aloud Award book. Balsam Fir found it particularly funny...and inspiring. He plans on making HIS OWN car now!

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Nicole from Journey to Excellence posted the Mathematics Enhancement Programme last week on her weekly wrap-up. Are you looking for a FREE Grade K-6 Math program with LESSONS, PRACTICE PROBLEMS, ANSWER KEY, and COPYMASTERS? Click here! It's my FAVORITE resource this week!

One of our Favorite Things
Starting our free Netflix trial! The kids don't even miss cable! We've been choosing a movie to watch each evening (since Wednesday) to watch as a family.

Early elementary history! My curriculum for next year is mostly set...except for Balsam Fir's 2nd grade history! I usually just do "holiday history". You know - studying Columbus and the Pilgrims and Presidents as the holidays roll around. After 2 other kids, *I'm* kind of bored with it though! LOL

A Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share

Linky Love
Favorite Resource This WeekThe Homeschool Mother's JournalTots and Me
Classified: MomHip Homeschool Hop ButtonMagical Mouse SchoolhouseTeach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packetslearning ALL the time!!Chestnut Grove Academy
3Boys&aDog DEALS!Photobucket