Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blue Jays

I've really enjoyed seeing blue jays at the feeders lately. We have blue jays everywhere, but they haven't been regulars at my feeders. A pair has been coming by lately, so I've been trying to get some good photos of them. They're really noisy birds, so it's easy to hear when they're out there, but they aren't so easy to photograph. They see the slightest movement, even from inside the house. Hopefully I can get some better shots of them soon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Homemade Art Supplies

In addition to their regular school work, the boys have been making homemade art supplies all this week. Monday they made birthday cards for their sister, so that day really didn't count. Tuesday they made paper out of bits of torn up paper. We didn't have a very big screen, so basically we just made small pieces to see what the process what like. It was a lot of fun. I'm seriously thinking of scouring the thrift store for an old blender, so I can do more of this. I was a little hesitant doing it with my Ninja, but it didn't seem to hurt it at all.

Wednesday we made star-shaped rainbow crayons. We used broken, small crayon bits we had, so that was a fun way to get rid of of them. Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me this foil star-shaped cups. They're almost like cupcake holders. We decided to use those for the crayons, which worked great because they came out really easy. This would be a great party favor, or even party craft idea for kids. You could use pink crayons to make Patrick Star from SpongeBob. Or red, white, and blue crayons for the 4th of July. 

Then yesterday we made a no-cook PlayDoh. I only had a little cream of tartar left, so we made half a batch. Even so, that was plenty. The boys picked green because they have this unusual obsession with Squidward from SpongeBob. The dough turned out really well and the boys were fascinated just by the ability to make it from scratch. That was more the point of these crafts because we are certainly not lacking paper, crayons, or Playdoh. Today is Friday and we were going to make homemade sidewalk chalk. However, it seems my Plaster of Paris is either all gone, or never made the move with us. So anyway, I'm looking for another project to do today instead of the chalk. I was thinking maybe homemade glue. Hmmm ...

I was playing around with the panorama feature on my phone the other day and got this funky shot of our classroom. It looks weird—and long—but I thought it turned out kind of interesting. If you click on the images, they should show up a little bigger. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lost & Found

Many years ago—way back in 1998—I created our own health curriculum using the book pictured above. Generally, we use mostly A Beka Books for our curriculum, but that particular year I decided to make my own for the girls. This year I decided it would be fun to go over the same program with the boys. I looked and looked and looked, but I couldn't find the blank worksheet pages. Whenever I make my own worksheets, I usually print up one extra copy to keep blank. I thought I had done that with this program, but it was so long ago.

When it came time to do the first lesson, I ended up going through the girls' binders and finding a copy of the first worksheet. I made a copy to replace in their book, and then I erased all their answers so I could make a fresh copy for the boys. I was DREADING the thought of having to do that for every worksheet, nor was I too keen on the idea of having to recreate all these pages again. After searching through all my books and files, I thought for sure I had tossed them out. That's very unlike me. Then, just out of the blue, I decided to look in a drawer that had mostly Rick's stuff in it. To my surprise, there was a huge 4-inch binder filled with past school records, all sorts of curriculum programs I had created, AND the health worksheets—YAY!

I had this gut feeling I still had them, but I had no clue where they went to. I was so happy to find them because there were over 30 pages of worksheets I had created. The thought of having to redo them was mind-boggling, and I certainly didn't want to have to make copies of the girls' pages and then white them out to make blank pages. I rarely throw things like this away, even when I think I might not use them again. I was thrilled I had hung onto them, even with them being in some obscure spot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Clearwater River Trip

Rick and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip down to Clearwater River to go kayaking on Sunday. It's about a 1.5 hour drive, but it's a pretty one going through the Swan Valley. The river is slow moving and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to paddle through.

Since it's so late in the season, the bushes weren't as green as they probably were a month ago. It was still really pretty though, and the water was crystal clear in places.

We saw quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves on logs. It was almost 80 degrees out, so they were totally taking advantage of the warm weather.

I only had my little water-proof Olympus Stylus camera, so I couldn't zoom in much. Even so, the river was flowing so slowly that we could just drift by the turtles without freaking them out.

I think this is a yellow water lily, but I'm not sure. Their petals are a little different than the white ones, but they are still really pretty.

We saw quite a few turtles, and possibly one muskrat that jumped into the river before we could get a good view of him.

There were literally hundreds—maybe thousands—of these white water lilies floating around. I got a few close-ups and one shot of a bunch together. I had wanted to go further down to the end of the lake where so many were, but we decided just to head to the take-out spot instead. They were so pretty.

The river let us out in Seely Lake, so I got to see it for the first time. I've driven by countless times, but it's not visible from the road. It was windy on the lake (not on the river at all), but it was blowing in our favor as we paddled to the take-out.

We left our boat by the lake and then we had about a 1.5 mile hike back to the put-in spot. That's where our car was, so we got that and drove down to pick the boat up.

It was a fun trip. We'll have to go back sometime.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fun stuff ...

Some of our books are still on back order, but that hasn't stopped us from having fun in school. Even though boys are getting older and study pretty complex things in their main curriculum, we still like doing simple things and having fun with them. We did the milk and food color experiment the other day. That was cool. Then we tried it with water and compared the two.

Today we read "The Pink" from Grimm's Fairy Tales. I love those old stories. They're so morbid and creepy, which is right up my boys' alley right now. I don't think I'd read this one before, so it was fun Nathan picked it out for us to read and discuss. I love that we can do that randomly. I see so many of my teacher friends say their hands are tied with what they can and cannot do in their classrooms. That's kind of sad. Since all our materials still aren't in, I'm having the boys do a lot of things together, rather than separated by their grades. We learned about the International Date Line today. We also studied some Australian slang, which is always fun.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of School

Today was our first official day back to school. I still haven't received all of my curriculum, but I wanted to get started anyway. This will be our 16th year homeschooling. Between that amount of time and the fact that my mother-in-law is a retired school teacher, we have more than enough materials. I could pretty much get by without ordering anything new. Even though our new stuff isn't here, we had a full day. I even managed to get my goofballs to smile a little ...

Then there is the obligatory homeschool-mom-teacher-selfie. UGH! I put the same picture on Instagram in black & white, which I think looks a little better. 

Below are a few photos of our classroom. It's in a walk-out basement. The room is large, so it's a great place for school. However, the pictures pretty much look the same from last year. I'll probably rearrange things in a year or so. That is, if the books don't take over the house.

I often have people telling me what a wonderful classroom I have, how organized I always seem to be, and what a great learning environment it is for the kids. Yeah, I guess so, but usually the room is a mess. We live in it. We learn in it. And in the summer time, it's pretty much neglected. I started working in it last week, but then put off doing anything over the holiday weekend. I had intentions of fixing it up, but never got to it. This is what it looked like just YESTERDAY ...

It's all cleaned up now. I got all the books organized and all the boxes and laundry put away. I was shocked I managed to do it in one day. Anyway, we are excited for the 2014-2015 year!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

I saw a recipe for these floating around Facebook the other day. Several of my friends posted it. I believe the Food Network posted it originally. Since we eat zucchini quite often, I decided to give them a try. Normally, we just steam ours, but these are baked. The recipe is really simple. You coat the zucchini slices in olive oil. Then you roll in a mixture of bread crumbs, fresh Parmesan cheese, and some salt & pepper. I used Italian bread crumbs, not plain, since that's all I had. I sliced mine really thin and baked them for 25 minutes. They turned out really good and I will definitely make them again. This is the link to the recipe ...