Monday, June 27, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my sun shining...storm clouds brewing...wind picking up

I am thinking...about the homeschool conference I attended last week...the encouragement I received...the ideas I want to try. 

I am thankful...for the smell of rain

From the learning rooms...a new "caught being good" jar...I need to encourage notice the good...instead of always pointing out when I notice the littles exhibiting character they get to add their name to the jar...earning surprises

In the kitchen...yummy new peanut butter fudge...on the healthy side...blueberry veggies cooked the old fashioned way...fried

I am top

I am atmosphere of joyful learning

I am spend thirty minutes cleaning house before doing some school with the littles

I am wondering...if I will get a good nights sleep tonight

I am reading... Child Training Tips by Reb Bradley...When Children Love to Learn, Elaine Cooper...Learning All The Time, John Holt...One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

I am begin a personal nature journal soon...with poetry...sketches...watercolor...a little mother culture added to my days...what better way to inspire the an example

I am looking forward to...Chris being off of work next week

I am hearing...Little Bitty singing along with Signing Time as she rests on the couch

Around the chicks hatching...Chris patching the roof with shingles...grass growing high

I am to use Ambleside Online...along with more unschooling...letting the littles take more of a lead in their learning...Bo is really fascinated with so much...he could learn so much from his passions...but he does love the Ambleside Selections...and so do I...having trouble wrapping my mind around how to fit it all in.

One of my favorite books on the shelf...just waiting to be read

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  •  Taking the littles to the library reading program
  • Digging the potatoes from our garden
  • Picking some more yummy blueberries
Here is picture for thought I am sharing... the blueberry patch...

More about the daybook

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wisdom According To This Little Guy...

This toothless little guy has some wisdom to share...

Better to be safe than...not safe.
Strike while the...copperhead is striking.
It's always darkest before... the raccoons and possums come out.
You can't teach an old dog new...lessons.
If you lie down with dogs, you'll...get fleas
A penny saved is...for buying stuff.
Children should be seen and not...blind.
You get out of something only what
When the blind lead the blind...they bonk into stuff
Love all, trust...God
  I love this age...that toothless grin...that little mind working hard to reason out what he hears...the hugs...the lanky legs still trying to fit into my lap...the sudden "I love you, mommy" all makes me smile

Here is the his brother's responses back in January of 2010.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


After we watched a pair of Barn Swallows working together to build a nest, we began to notice a lot of different birds around the yard.  I could tell that the boys were especially excited about what all they were noticing.  I encouraged Bo, who is my early riser, to take the field guide outside one morning and see how many birds he could see in our yard.  I also bought a pair of binoculars to try to inspire a little more bird watching.  Sure enough, the boys began to notice a lot of activity in our yard...
We have two large brush piles left from the storms back in April.  In the picture above is a Brown Thrasher we found nesting in the brush pile in our front yard.  The bird is slightly off center toward the left and it has its mouth open.  We watched the bird going to and from the pile of brush and we were able to locate the nest and see the baby birds opening their mouths...
The blackberry bush along the fence in our backyard has been a popular place lately.  The littles love running out and eating the few ripe blackberries each day.  While eating the blackberries one day the boys spotted this beautiful nest...
But after some research it could be a House Sparrow which might make it not so beautiful after all.  Apparently House Sparrows are not a native species and are aggressive toward our native songbirds.
That could explain why the bluebirds we have nesting in our box every year never hatch out the eggs they lay.
We cleaned this box out about a week ago.  Boo asked if he could put the next he took out in the maple tree.  He wanted to see if another bird would use it.  I told him he could but a bird wouldn't use it.  But a few days later he ran in to tell me that there were three eggs in the nest he put in the magnolia tree.  It has since fallen out of the tree...but I was surprised that a bird was going to use it.
The boys also found this unidentified bird's nest in the magnolia tree.  It's a little to high so we can't see inside...
 Birds we have noticed in our yard...
Brown Thrasher
Barn Swallows
Red-Headed Wood Pecker
unidentified yellow and black bird
Isn't it amazing how many things you can actually see in your own yard when you begin to pay attention?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Surprised By Barn Swallows...

The other day I walked into the kitchen to make lunch.  I happened to look out the window and noticed a bird in the ditch behind our house.  I noticed the bird had straw in its mouth and seemed to be dipping it into the muddy water.  I quickly called the boys and we began watching the bird.  I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to begin the June Outdoor Hour Challenges.  We soon saw two birds taking turns bringing straw to the water.  We walked out to the little well house and hid while we watched the birds.

The barn swallow was beautiful...the sun shining on the feathers...sparkling a deep blue...

I knew the bird looked like it was in the swallow family so we looked it up in our field guide and determined it was a barn swallow.  We watched the pair of birds fly from the barn in the pasture back to the ditch for about twenty minutes.  We guessed there was a nest somewhere around the barn.  So after lunch we took a little trip to the barn to have a look around.

Here are the boys watching the birds...

When we arrived at the barn, we began to look around inside...climbing the hay...looking around the rafters...
Bo heard a noise outside so we decided to take a look around the edge of the barn...sure enough the barn swallows were sitting on the fence of the catch pen.  We looked up and saw a nest made of mud and straw on the outside...
We came home and sketched the barn swallows in our nature notebook.
What we learned about barn swallows...

These birds choose a barn where there is a hole in the gable or where the doors are kept open all the time.  They build upon beams or rafters, making a cup-shaped nest of layers of pellets of mud, with grass between;it is well lined with feathers...the eggs are white and dotted with reddish brown.  The barn swallows, aside from their constant twittering also have a pretty song.  Both parents work at building the nest and feeding the young; there are likely to be several pairs nesting in the same building.  The parents continue to feed the young long after they have left the nest...The Barn Swallow has a distinctly tailor made appearance; its red-brown vest and iridescent blue coat, with deeply forked "coat tails" give it an element of style that no other bird, not event he chic cedar waxwing can emulate.  Handbook of Nature Study, 110-111

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wanting to Remember...

chubby fingers helping me cut a bouquet of Zinnias from the garden...saying, "this one mommy and this one too"

the smell of this sweet baby...burying my nose on the back of her neck and breathing her in...

the excitement of my oldest when we read about the Alamo...showing him how to make a lapbook...hearing him say..." I love doing this mom..."

my five year old losing one of his front teeth...the other one barely hanging on...

being so proud of my big girl as she mothers everything around her...

how the boys watch out for the girls when we are out and about...holding hands...helping them through the stores...such good big brothers

waking up with my nursling tucked close beside me...watching her breathe

seeing my love care so tenderly for Little Bitty while she was feeling bad...letting her snuggle close and sleep on his chest...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Drippin' With Sugar...

These cheeks...
are always drippin' with sugar...
I just have to kiss them...whenever they get close...and that's often since she's my nursling...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reading Lessons...Rewarded

Almost two years ago, I started beginning reading lessons with Bo.  He had been eager to learn to read, asking every few days from the time he was about 4 and 1/2.  I held him off from reading until 5 and 1/2 by making an alphabet book and working on phonemic awareness activities with him.

We began our reading instruction in September of 2009.  It was a learning experience for me as well.  I am a former Kindergarten teacher in the public school system and I decided to teach Bo using Charlotte Mason's suggestions in Home Education rather than the way I was accustomed to teaching reading.
 Tommy is to learn to read today-
"I like little pussy,
Her coat is so warm-"
and he is to know those nine words so well that he will be able to read them wherever they may occur henceforth and forevermore.
We write in good.big print hand 'Pussy'.  Tommy watches with interest:  he knows the letters and probably says them as we write.

Interest at once;he knows the thing, pussy, and the written symbol is pleasant to his eyes because it is associated with and existing idea in his mind.
He is told to look at the word until he is sure he would know it again.
Then he makes 'pussy' again from his own loose letters.
Then the little bag containing our two bags is turned out and he finds the word...lastly,
the little sheet with the poem printed on it is shown to him and he finds 'pussy'
Coat, little, like, is, her, warm ,I, so are taught in the same way.
He knows words now, but he cannot yet read sentences.  Now for the delight of reading.
Tommy uses the loose words cards to make sentences and then the poem is revealed to him.
His next reading lesson consists of making word faimilies with the words from the poem.
-Home Education, pages 217-219

The biggest difference I noticed in the methods was the very large reading vocabulary the Charlotte Mason way provided early on.  The stories I chose to begin reading instruction with were rich and interesting, not like the decodable readers I was most familiar with.

Miss Mason sums up the difference best...

Today he is to be launched into the very middle of reading, without any 'steps' at all, because reading is neither an art or a science, and has, probably, no beginning.

We began with the Treadwell Primer from Mainlesson.  We mixed those stories up with some science readers I had on hand from my time as a teacher.  I also purchased McGuffey's First Reader for some structured practice.
He flew through McGuffey's and we moved to some more  easy readers that I had purchased at the thrift...Frog and Toad...Little Bear...etc.
 He recently finished reading Christian Liberty Nature Reader.  I tried to preview each reading and pre-teach any words I thought he would have trouble with.  I ended up reviewing any difficult words after the reading.

Our reward after almost two years of reading instruction...this common sight...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Summer Days

We're just trying to stay cool...
It's not even officially summer yet...
but it's
We went swimming on Monday afternoon...
So the boys could practice swimming...
Some of these little ones have got to learn to swim...
so Mama won't be so nervous around the water.
The pool felt like a bathtub in this heat...but at least it was wet!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dandelion...Friend or Foe

Every year millions of dollars are spent trying to eradicate weeds from yards across our country. Dandelions are considered a nuisance by many. It's quite true that dandelions can quickly overtake a yard. My dad who mows lawns for a living says that he can have a yard looking lovely and within a day or two the dandelions will be several inches high.

So, we set out to learn a little more about this so called weed. It took us a couple of days to locate a dandelion because I would notice a couple in the morning hours and we would go back and look for them in the afternoons and they would seem to have disappeared. I began reading in The Handbook of Nature Study and learned that the dandelion closes after being open for several hours.

We finally found a dandelion and used a shovel to dig it out of the ground. We examined the root closely and noted that the small dandelion had a very big root. Perhaps this has a lot to do with its success as a weed?

I know that Dandelions have valuable health benefits, so I consulted a couple of herb books that I have here...

We learned that the flower, leaves and roots are the most commonly used parts. The leaves can be eaten in salads. Dandelion can be combined with yellow dock for a potent blood purifier and liver cleanser. The roots can be dried and ground as a strong, bitter coffee substitute. According to Darryl Patton in Mountain Medicine, legendary Herbalist Tommie Lee Bass recommended the milky sap from a dandelion plant be applied to warts. The sap would kill the virus causing the warts and they would disappear.

The boys decided to eat a few dandelion leaves, as they recorded our findings in their nature notebooks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tufted Titmouse

Saturday the boys helped daddy load and split more wood from the storms back in April. When I arrived home from town they were very excited about something that they had found. When Boo opened the box we were surprised by two fledglings.

The little birds were so cute and they were singing such a pretty song. The boys had found them at the neighbors house as they loaded wood with daddy. The birds were hiding inside a well bucket and it seemed like they couldn't get out. After the rescue, dad thought the little birds were old enough to make it on their own, so he let the boys bring them home.

We observed them all afternoon. Bo and Boo fed them a couple of worms and sprinkled some bird seed in the box for them. We looked in the field guides and thought they looked like the Tufted Titmouse.

We had planned on getting a cage and keeping them until they were a little bigger. But sadly, one died that afternoon and the other died the next morning. We're not sure if the boys helped them practice their flying a little too much or if Little Bitty loved on them a little too much.

The boys were upset and drew a picture in their nature journals so they could remember them.