Monday, February 28, 2011

Berry Pickin'

 We had such a good time yesterday. We went to a local strawberry field and picked and picked. This is something we have wanted to do for a very long time, we just hadn't. We would think about how much it costs and freak a little and not do it. Or just get lazy and not do it. Or freak about the money and get lazy and not do it. Really, though, the cost was way better than you get at the store and we got more strawberries than I know what to do with. The picking was free and so was the playground. Wait 'til you see the zip line pics. Those are next. The best part was that nobody fussed, whined, or complained one time. Even the kids were awesome. Blogger isn't letting me post above the first pic, so here's the rundown.

This is me with my girls. We had two boxes, so we got two rows to pick. We picked and picked and picked. You know it was fun because the big girl didn't freak about the bees. Love that!

This is one of the plants. They were gorgoeus. We have tried to grow strawberries with lackluster results. We were very impresed.
 This is my boys. Hubby took the boy and they just plowed through their row. They did a great job. There wasn't a decent strawberry left when they were done. This was fairly early in the picking process. I told hubby I'd like to try to go back one more time before the season is over. Look at the size of the berries the boy is holding. Those bad boys were huge!

This is what we ended up with. It doesn't look like much, but when it got weighed out, that was a different story. And as I was putting them away last night, I realized how much we REALLY had. Good grief. I sent a 1.25 gallon baggie of them with hubby to take to his parents. It is about half full and hardly made a dent in our stock. They may get another bag.
 See, I actually picked. It was fun. It was relaxing. I am kicking myself in the butt for not going sooner. More amazing, hubby got a shot of the baby picking. Getting her to work, well, that's a blog for another time.
Two things about this pic. This is just one side of the field, and doesn't even show the entire side. It was huge. Strawberries everywhere. And second, I don't know who these kids are, but that's not the important thing. Hubby struck up a conversation with their dad while picking. At one point we look over at the cute one in the blue shirt. I'm glad they didn't charge a grazing fee. Poor dad would have gone broke. The kid had eaten so many berries, he had strawberry juice running down his chin, his throat, and all over his face. It didn't help that his hands were filthy, dirty, which clung to all that sticky fruit juice. He made those strawberries look good!

I'm going to say it again. We had the best time!! The boy, who would eat all the berries we picked, has been put on notice that he is on strawberry rations since a blueberry incident on Saturday. I'll try to blog about that later. What is even funnier, I kept wishing I had a unit study on strawberries that we could have done first. I do have one on apples. Maybe a road trip when the weather gets cooler. And, we missed Big Sis. Strawberries are her very favorite and we talked and thought about her while we were picking. She would have looked like the little boy in blue. I love her!!!!!

Have a great day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chickens Everywhere

It was an interesting week. Hubby was off on Monday, and that threw school for a loop. We do not school when hubby is home. There really is no point. We would rather hang out with him than open a stinky ol' textbook. But we're weird like that. Veggie co-op was Thursday, so no school on Thursday. We ran late there, so by the time we got home it was after 2. We normally get home by 1 at the latest. And Friday was park day. We don't school on Fridays. So four days of work got crammed into two. Ugh!

And if that weren't enough, we have an addiction. I wish I could say to exercise and eating right and staying fit and active, but it's to Angry Birds. Have you played that game? You launch chickens at pigs and try to destroy them. The kids have fussed at me about my language while I'm playing the game. It's not bad. I'm dropping chicken bombs, not F-bombs. But when the boy kept saying "Darn pigs!" to emulate what I was saying, I had to grit my teeth and hold my tongue. If you come by the house and we're all screaming "Pig!", we're playing Angry Birds. Damn pigs!

And then I had a craving. I am very fond of saying when I have a craving, everyone benefits. This time my craving was for Chicken Spaghetti. OMG, a taste from my childhood. I have also been wanting chicken and dumplings like my mamaw  used to make. And cornbread and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and a big pitcher of lemonade. Before the park yesterday, I boiled a whole chicken and put together some chicken spaghetti. My house smelled so good when we got home. This was the first time I made it in the crockpot. Everyone sit down because I am about to say something you probably won't believe. I didn't like it very much cooked in the crockpot. It was good, it just didn't have that punch it normally does when I cook it on the stove. I have a feeling it will be better as leftovers.

We still want chickens. When we are no longer on hold and get moved, I told hubby we need to move somewhere we can have chickens. Love fresh eggs. I try to get a couple dozen at a time from co-op. If I can't get them there, I have another source. They are so much better than the ones you buy in the store. And I know what the chickens have been eating and where they live. I get to see them every two weeks. They are not factory produced bundles of feathers.

Every time I turn around it seems like something else chicken is popping it's head up. I wonder if that's a sign?

Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


If you haven't seen the piece on GMA, I hope you at least heard about it. They had a segment on about a family that homeschools. Well, they unschool. That sounds like an oxymoron. But to me, it was fascinating. It was poorly edited and very one sided, making the family look like a bunch of idiots. It showed the kids playing video games, playing in their rooms, having family time outside playing with swords. At least the swords were fake. They showed the kids being kids, but didn't show how effective unschooling can be for some people.

Unschooling doesn't mean that you never open a book or even stop schooling. It really means that the child leads the learning. The child decides what they want to learn about and you go from there. So many different ways to learn about things. Videos, books, magazines, field trips, expert interviews, apprentice programs, internet research, and so much more. Why do you always have to open a boring, dry text book? Are those the only sources of information? I hope not, or our library is doomed.

My friend N posted yesterday that she was thinking about a Charlotte Mason style of learning for next year. She is a former school teacher and was wondering if she could let go of "teaching". Yes you can, but you don't have to. I've always looked at our homeschool journey as a way to learn, not teach. Charlotte Mason (look her up, she had some great ideas) believed that you should put away dry and boring and learn from classic literature and exploring life. That's what I want. I want my kids to read great works, broaden their horizons, and explore this earth. You can do it, N. I know you can.

I am bored with some of our curriculum. Good thing I'm not the one using it. I don't want my kids to slog through the day. I want them to be eager and excited about learning, about life. Other than math, the kids will decide, for the most part, what we study. We will pick activities together. For example, if they want to learn about bees, I have a great unit study about them. We read books related to bees, we visit bee keepers, we go to the local ag center, we learn about honey and it's great medicinal properties, and on and on and on. 

The big question I've heard is: Will it prepare them for college? I don't know. But what makes you think they would be prepared if they were going to a brick and mortar school? College is not for everybody, it's not required, and I would hope that my kids have enough knowledge and enough love of learning that if they do go to college, they will be prepared.

How long will we unschool? I don't know that either. It may just be one year, but it may be until our schooling is done. That's kind of up in the air. But isn't life just like that?

Have a great day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Favorite Stuff

 This is my clothesline. It's not much and it isn't fancy, but it does the job. You may hear me gripe about doing the laundry, but you won't hear me grip about hanging it up and taking it down. I get to be in the sunshine, it's normally quiet, and I have a few minutes to think and take a breath.
 These are our Texas towels. They were given to us by hubby's brother and his family. I thought that was very nice. They're pretty, but they're just like Texans. They don't take anything off anybody. Great to look at, but they don't absorb much. That's Ok, though. They're Texas towels.
These are the kids' valentines from our friends, the P's. Talk about a bunch of freakin' creative people. I downloaded the wrong pic, but the one on the top right says "You're Cute as a Cupcake". The top ones are from S. The one on he bottom is a wrestling championship belt. I covered the names, but too cute. H is a wrestling fan. And  now that The Rock is back for a little while, I could easily become one again, too. 

That's all I got.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Books and Boxes

Packing started tonight. Up until now it had been cleaning and sorting. I only have two more cabinets to clean out and I am all done. Then I go through clothes. Kids grow so fast. What fit yesterday doesn't fit today. But that's still cleaning. I actually put things in a box tonight. A box that will make the move with us. I started with the book case.

I don't dust. Let's just get that out there right now. I despised that chore as a kid. My mom had this bookcase with these spindly things that had to cleaned and the books had to be moved. I told hubby upfront not to expect me to grab the duster. One day he said the fans were dusty. I said he should hop right up and take care of that. You wanna talk about dust? Try a bookshelf that hasn't been dusted in I don't know how long. My head is trying to pound. I neti potted. Advil Cold and Sinus is a magnificent thing.

I did have to sort through a ton of books. Books are so important. Reading is important. I have started scheduling reading time in the afternoons. The big girl and the baby like it. The boy, not so much. We have so many favorites. Every book by Roald Dahl we have ever read has made us laugh out loud. By chance we found a movie from his book The BFG. Loved the Harry Potter books. We did all those as books on tape. There was no way I had time to read those books as busy as we were. I had to be honest about which books to take and which ones needed to find a loving home. Broke my heart with some of them. I still wasn't able to get rid of some. We have read The Napping House since before we moved here and that was almost 6 years ago. We still read it and we still laugh.

We were gifted recently with a huge box of books. So many treasures and gems in there. I even have book studies for many of them that we are going to use next year. I know, big surprise. The big girl has read almost all of the Guardian of Ga'hoole books. Most of the books were in the box and the rest we got from the library. I put aside some books that we've read. I have a huge pile to take to the park.

I had to be honest about curriculum as well. How much do I really want to cart with me and how much am I really going to use? I have quite a bit I can recycle when the baby gets a little older. I already have all of her second grade year. I am loving that. I did pull some things that I don't think we'll use anymore and some things that just aren't right for the next kid in line. That was hard, too. I adore curriculum. But if I'm not going to use it, I need to get rid of it.

I still have an over flowing bookshelf, but hubby is bringing more boxes home when he gets a chance. Then they get taped up and stored in the shed until we get the letter. Next project is toys. Ugh!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back Again

Kids are in bed, hubby is in the shower. That means quiet time for me. Actually, it means I put my iPod on shuffle, turn it up really loud, and then share my life with you for just a little while. You are so lucky!!

We started school again today. Yea! We actually got alot accomplished. I was surprised to tell you the truth. We had to go back and review our history and science. I didn't even remember where we had left off. I like the bible study we are doing because we can be away for awhile and then pick it back up. I worked with the baby on her grammar. I like the fact that we have introduced some grammar terms to her. I like the fact that School House Rock is an excellent way to teach my kids. I do think that 1st grade is too early to introduce grammar. It has been a rocky road and I have to remind myself to shut my mouth and take a step back. I'm not pushing her, that's for sure. My lesson plan book is a mess. I sat down last night to plan a couple of weeks, but I didn't have to. I already had three weeks done. I did it right before we got the news of the move. It's been so long, I had forgotten. I just needed to rearrange because of certain activities, or the lack thereof.

The lack thereof is killing us. As much as we complained about schooling in the van more than we schooled at home, we sure miss our extras. We are dancers. Not dancing these last couple of months has been horrible for us. It's something we've done for eight years. One of the things we cried about was missing recital. We had planned to go to see the show even though none of us are in it this year. But we had no choice but to stop. Money was not allowing any wiggle room. We miss co-op and that's only been a couple of weeks. We had stopped, thinking we were moving right away. Another family stopped as well, and our little group is no more. I am sad about that. But I don't want to get in the middle of something (again) and have to leave (again). We are looking into a couple of options so we won't be bored for long.

My kids have a pen pal. It's Mermie. Loving it. The boy got his letter today. He also got a picture of Mermie's dog. He read us the whole letter, just pleased as punch. Mermie came up with the idea to get to know her grandkids better. The baby girl is anxiously waiting for her letter. If I can pull the iPod away from her long enough, the big girl has a letter to write.

After looking at all the resources that I have for school, I am very confident in the fact that I am not buying any curriculum this year. I have enough unit studies and lap books that we can study every state in the nation, several foreign countries, and the continent and country of Australia. I have enough science that we can learn about birds, bats, human body, polar bears and various other animals, as well as weather, geology, some physics, forensics, and who knows what else. I have more reading comprehension and book studies than I know what to do with. We can study famous artists, presidents and first ladies, firemen, and pilots. I even have a lap book on the history of hot dogs. What good is all of this doing if we aren't using it? I am so very excited! My friend CP hooked me up with a website for virtual dissections and I got a book of dissections at a library book sale on Saturday for 20 cents. I have more experiment books than I know what to do with. I could go on and on, but then I might to really start sounding like a junkie.

And, finally, tonight was clean out the fridge from all the Super Bowl food night. We had homemade pizzas on the left over hoagie rolls using some of the veggies we'd had and the sausage we cooked. We also used the bacon I cooked to make brussel sprouts last night. That was good, too. We ate the left over, sliced, organic apples and dipped them in homemade, mostly organic guacamole and... Velveeta cheese dip. I figured that cancelled them both and made it all neutral. Our bellies are full, my sink is full, but my fridge is ready for veggie co-op this week. Love veggie co-op.

That's all I got. I think I've checked it all off my list. Even if it's not, it's enough for now.

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

You would think that as long as I've been away, I would have tons to blog about. Not so much, so we might as well get to it.

  • We were focused on getting the house cleaned and packed and all that fun stuff. Then the hold happened. I would like to say that we have continued with the process, but hubby has been working overtime, so he hasn't been home to help. He's worked around the house as much as he can, but when you've worked all day and don't get home until after 8, there's a whole lot of butt sitting and not a whole lot of working going on. I get to tackle the cabinets in the bathrooms next. So much junk, so little time.
  • If you look at my pantry, it looks like I should be on hoarders. I was trying to stock up on some things so that we didn't have to worry about toilet paper or paper towels. We would have paper plates to eat on until we could get the dishes unpacked and washed. I got most of it pretty cheaply with sales and coupons. And now we're steady using it. Just means I have to keep stocking. Where I'm going to put it, I don't really know. As long as TV cameras don't show up, it's all good.
  • With all that was going on, we put school on hold. The kids have loved it, but we really haven't done much to occupy our days. Except clean. We are back at it on Monday. It looks like we will have to school well into summer to finish our year, but it is what it is. We've taken some long breaks and it's time to get back to it. I think the kids are missing some kind of structure to their day. When they start getting on each other's nerves like they have been, and my nerves for that matter, I can tell it's time. And I don't want them to lose anything they've learned so far.
  • Speaking of school, I think I am going to forgo curriculum for next year. Normally, I use some of our taxes to buy curriculum. I sat down last night and made a list of all the unit studies and lap books and study guides and whatever else. I'm still not done. I have one more flash drive to inventory. When I'm done, I'll figure out what we may do for next year. I even have a free math curriculum online that I need to look at. I already have math for the baby, I just need to see if this online curriculum will work for the boy and the big girl. And if they need extra help, or more practice, this site offers that as well. I just need to look at it and make sure.
  • I turned in all our library books. They were all coming due, I thought we were leaving, and there didn't seem any reason to keep them. Except we are part way through The Lost Hero and I have to request it again. Will it be here before we leave? I don't know. I don't know when we're leaving. I had also cancelled some requests from the library. Now I need to rerequest them. Limbo is no fun.

There really isn't much going on here. I like it that way to tell you the truth. Boring is good. Too much excitement else where. I need boring.

Have a great day.