Sunday, November 23, 2014

Unexpected Find

We took a little nature walk with Daddy yesterday. GORGEOUS fall day! After nearly 10 days of freezing weather, we jumped on the opportunity to get out.

JK: Mom? Does that sign say there are snakes that live here?
Me: Yes, but I wouldn't worry too much. It's been so cold lately, those snakes are in hibernation.

The fall leaves were brilliant. This picture just doesn't do it justice.

We have become experts at spotting shelf fungus. And the poison oak and ivy mantra: "Leaves of three, leave them be."

Scoping out a picnic spot. And then a bird's nest! It was old and empty, but what a FUN find! 

We all agree that lunching on a nature walk always makes the food taste better! It's the same fare we would eat at home, but the conversation, the breeze, the sharing of food family style - makes it a whole new experience that's so much more fun. We also introduced the boys to pomegranates. I should have taken a picture of the red streaks around the mouths of two happy boys. They loved it!

And then towards the end of the afternoon, my husband hears my youngest screaming, "DADDY! A 'NAKE! A 'NAKE!" He could tell by the tone that he wasn't playing around. He rushed over to see our boy stooped over something on the edge of the creek, his face about 12 inches from the ground. And what should we find? A poisonous juvenile water moccasin. *gulp* I was HORRIFIED. My baby had his precious little face a foot away from it, respectfully studying it. He did not touch it, thankfully and surprisingly. This being the child that found a dead mouse in our driveway one day and wanted to tickle his belly. So much for the winter hibernating snakes.

 They say juvenile snakes are more dangerous than adults as they haven't gained control of their bites and poison release. After spotting this little fellow, is when Mommy said, "Oh, looky there. It's getting dark. It's time to go home." So we did.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Last Week of First Trimester! (But we're not done...)

Grace. That is the word of the week. At some point between Sunday and Monday, I was INCREDIBLY contaminated with something on my long intolerance list. It could have been a new hair product or breakfast on Sunday, or coffee from Starbucks on Monday, or a combination of any of the above. Whatever it was...knocked me flat for three days. TKO. It was ugly. And this week was already behind because Monday JK woke up vomiting, so we focused on our "homeschool lite" schedule. (Reading, writing, arithmetic.) And then Tuesday through Thursday was a bust because I was down for the count. Not good.

Today, Friday, was the first day I've been fully upright and functional as a mom, teacher, and just human. Every day we managed to do something, but not everything needed. So in the final week of our first Trimester, we are behind. Honestly, I'm just grateful it's at the end of the trimester and not the beginning! We are going into a 5 week break, so while I'm not thrilled about doing school right now, I'm not totally stressed over it either. We'll slowly get through it the next few days before Thanksgiving hits. I will say praises to God for watching over my children when I was recuperating. Those three days, I slept a LOT. The boys? They played quietly, gently, and really well together. For three days straight. I didn't break up one fight or argument. Now if that doesn't say something about God's Grace, I don't know what does! Thank you Lord!

But today we're back on the wagon and getting some stuff done! We caught up on math and are almost caught up on our literature, copywork, and history. To celebrate, we spent the afternoon on a suburban nature walk. A local friend had mentioned that she had some oak trees in her front yard, so we went to collect leaves and acorns. We're doing a comparison on white and red oaks and their different shaped leaves and acorns. But while we were there, we found some other treasures.

Our dear friend Ms. Georgia introduced us to Matrix pansies, HUGE burr oak acorns, and yaupon holly berries! Her two grown boys are Boy Scouts, so she is familiar with the bouncy, chatty, dirty little mugs I brought with me. Thank you Ms. Georgia for hosting us today and always encouraging me in my motherhood. You are SUCH a blessing to our family!

Afterwards we headed to a local park to throw rocks in the creek. I absolutely love this place because it is just gorgeous. But at the top of the falls (pictured), there is a good 20 foot drop into the water. My anxiety gets the best of me here herding two monkeys, so we didn't stay long.

Goodness they are cutie pies! My silly willy (left). My contemplative observer (right).

I can only get them to give me good genuine smiles when I say things like, "At the count of 3 everyone say 'turtle toots'!" Of course they crack up and that cheesy Lifetouch smile disappears. #sneakymommy But I love this shot. Dirty fingernails, glue in my eldest's hair from our craft earlier today, holes in their jeans, smudged faces...such a perfect capture of who they are right at this point in life.

After we got home, we laid out all our treasures and recorded some of them in our nature journals. This will likely be a two part process since we were too close to dinner to finish. B is a little young still, so I sketch out a few items and he colors them in (right). JK drew a few of his favorite things and will likely complete them this weekend (left). Considering how the week started, I would say we REALLY needed to end our week on a high note. I'm glad we took advantage of the nice fall weather!

JK drew his yaupon berries and leaves, matrix pansy, a snail shell, burr oak acorn, and a hitchhiking roly poly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sneaky School

Sometimes in the afternoons I want to reinforce something from our lessons, but don't always want to tell the boys we're going back to the kitchen table for more work. Part of my objective with homeschooling is to make learning fun!

Me: Hey, boys? Who wants to do a color by number picture?
Both boys: *excitedly screaming* Me! Me! Me!

They have no idea this is helping them meet part of their math objectives. ;-)

#sneakymomma #homeschoolwin

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vocabulary Words

We're reading Charlotte's Web for our literature choice right now. We're 9 chapters in.

Me: So let's review the last chapter. What bad news did Wilbur get?

B: *raising his hand* I know, I know! He learned fwom a sheep dat he is going to get killed.
Me: That's right. Now, why would he get killed?
JK: Because he was going to be the Christmas ham.
Me: Very good! So let's read the next chapter. JK, can you read the title, please?
JK: Chapter 9. Wilbur's Boast.
Me: What's a boast?
JK: Doesn't that mean he gets cooked?
Me: Not quite. That's a "roast". 

A drawing narration of today's reading.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Read Alouds

Usually I have my oldest do read alouds right after his daily quiet time. It's typically a classic reader like "Little Bear" or "Frog and Toad" and I sit both boys down on the sofa and JK reads to little brother. Today I skipped it. Because I discovered this going on during their quiet time...

Pardon the was a happy quiet time if it's this messy. ;-)

Nature Journaling

A big part of the Charlotte Mason education is nature walks and nature journaling. It's simple really: go outside, experience and be curious about God's Creation, research it, and draw and record it in a nature journal. That's it. 

Anytime we go on a nature walk, we take ziploc baggies to collect "treasures". Which could include pine cones, acorns, sticks shaped like letters, flowers to be dried, interesting rocks. If there is something interesting and worth remembering but not really "collectable", we'll take a picture of it instead of collecting it. Spider webs and poisonous mushrooms are good examples of what NOT to bring home.

Then we go home and draw our treasures and label it. The CM suggestion is to also record the Latin name, which I do in my journal, but do not make the boys do at this age. Baby steps, right? I also record the date of the event, location, and any memorable moments we had during the trip.

So here are some journaling results from our trip we took this past weekend. 

Mine is on the left, JK's on the right.

I have a childhood born passion to draw and paint and had many years of being under the tutelage of a talented teacher and mentor, who has since become a dear friend. But I haven't touched it seriously for a VERY long time and am VERY out of practice. So I have found my journaling to be a fun way to brush up on my rusty artistic skills and learn about Nature at the same time. It's also a great way to model nature journals for my boys. They're young and we keep it simple for now, but at some point, I see them taking a deeper interest in the Latin names and more detailed drawings or recordings.

I would say this is likely my favorite thing about homeschooling right now! Being outdoors with my boys, appreciating God's Creation. We get as much outdoor time as we possibly can.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nature's Surprises

Yesterday we were heathens and skipped church to take a day trip to a local state park. :-P With a packed lunch and baggies to collect our "treasures", we set of to commune with our Creator. Nothing like worshipping Him in the middle of His creation! We found lots of beautiful reminders of how amazingly Generous our Father is. So many things He gifts us just for the sake of gifting. How awesome is He?

Sorry for out of focus of a later purple aster (aster patens).

We saw this EVERYWHERE! Snailseed vines (cocculus carolinus). It grows wild in our yard at's quite aggressive and will take over even in the hardest to grow areas of your property.

A little pond by the entrance of the state park with lily pads and minnows.

This was quite the find! Some beautiful orange Jack-o-Lantern fungus (omphalotus illudens). So glad I made the boys give it some space...came home and looked it up: it's VERY poisonous!

That's a very tiny out of focus spiderweb. Hard to capture the daintiness of it.

So we came home late, exhausted, and we crashed for the night. Today we skipped our geography reading so we'd have extra time to draw and record all of fun treasures in Nature Journals. And there was a little unexpected bonus in our baggy...