Thursday, March 31, 2011

Almost Ready to Plant!

Okay, so I totally forgot I was supposed to be doing a real gardening post for The Gardening Challenge over at The Homeschool Lounge (note the fancy schmancy button they created just so I could share this challenge with you! Come join me in this challenge.)

I wasn't sure what new to say about our garden, seeing as we haven't started it yet and its 50 degrees out. Crossing fingers for a nice warm up this weekend!

I talked for the first time about the garden here, the previous years of gardening, the plants we want to have, the beds we'll be making, the lovely dirt we'll be ordering (Monday!!) It also had wonderful links to seed catalogs to order, studies for homeschoolers, great gardening information.

Here, I talked about the seeds we actually ordered, the people who will be gardening with us, successive gardening practices, my daughter's love of carrots... Oh yeah! I also showed you the free online gardening planner I found. That was a great link! I even mentioned the highly addicting, complete time waster of a game you can play that has nothing to do with gardening but is garden related: Plants vs. Zombies. Real important that. lol

I think even at one point I talked about the fact that we'll be getting chicks soon, and to be honest, their poop is magical. For the garden that is. Can't wait for that natural fertilizer to start appearing!

Today I posted a quick post mentioning that Seeds of Change is GIVING AWAY seeds, so hurry on over there to get your seeds for your garden.

AND, last but not least, if I haven't mention before (and I think I have), I  put up a Gardening Gurus page full of links to gardening blogs, videos, companies, ideas, books and fun gardening activities for the kiddos.

Now, as I mentioned in my first post on gardening, last year we built two raised beds using these plans. Tomorrow mommsy-dear is picking the kids and me up for some shopping at our local Lowes. It's time to create 4 more beds, time to buy the wood. Time to find a nice helpful Lowes person who will cut all the wood pieces to my specifications so I can just bring it all home and slap together 4 more beds. That's the easy part. After that we have to dig a few post holes to sink the beds in. THEN come Monday, I'm ordering a load of dirt to magically arrive and be dumped on my poor unsuspecting driveway. I guess I better pick up a wheel barrow tomorrow as well. How else will we get the dirt into the back yard, unless by bucket brigade? Who wants to help with that one? Huh? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

So, I'm off to write up the measurements for the bed pieces I need to order, so I can measure twice and cut once, instead of the highly probable but very irritating opposite. ** mumbles to herself, 'now was that 4 posts at 12" or 12 posts at 4"? Hmmmm...' **

Happy Gardening!


It totally figures I just did my $85 seed order through Gurneys on Tuesday. But for others just getting started and needing seeds, Seeds of Change is offering 25 Certified Organic Seed Packets for just $4.99 shipping. I was looking on Amazon this week for seeds and saw their packets. They retail usually for $2.99-$3.99 each, so this is a fabulous deal!

** This is also a chance to give back! For every seed request, they'll give a matching donation of seeds to the American Horticultural Society. Now doesn't it feel good to donate?! **

There is no guarantee what seeds you'll receive but if you're just starting out and want to have the growing experience with the kids, any free veggies/flowers are great! 

Wouldn't this be a great start to a homeschool garden or a co-op neighborhood garden (especially if several of you and your friends ordered packets, you'd get a wide variety!) 

What seeds are you wishing for?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pictorial Tuesday (Cuz I'm Never Very Good at Wordless Wednesdays)

I always think, 'I should take a picture for those Wordless Wednesday posts people are always doing.' But then I think, 'When have I ever been wordless?!' So here is a Pictorial Tuesday, kinda has a ring to it, right?

Want to see all the hard work we are doing today in school? All the massive hours of time spent learning, and soaking up and expanding our brains? 

Yup. You guessed it. She is reading. Has been since 830 am (we're going on 5 hours now.) But you know how sometimes a book just grabs you and you can't put it down? It just seemed wrong to rip the book from her eager reading hands and say 'Do you math, pick up your Latin!' There will be other days. Today, we enjoy the lazy rain soaked dreary day and read. 

(Note: She finished up The Battle of the Labyrinth this morning and is now reading The Last Olympian.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden Update + Need SEEDS Cheap?

As I've mentioned before, I get obsessive about a subject when planning. That's how the garden plan has been this weekend. I noticed, after checking here that we're a few weeks behind on getting our seeds going. Most of them we should have planted 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for our area, which is between April 15-21st.

Seed Starting Calendar

There is so much to think about when planning a garden. The little one and I sat down and looked through gardening company's catalogs. It was a good lesson in Science as we discussed plant spacing, growing season, potentially doing a doubling planting (planting another round of plants later in the season, also called Successive Planting) and how much room we will have.

Video on Successive Planting (ie: Autumn Harvesting)

One thing I recommend as you're going through a catalog is to write things down. I kept a list of the Vegetable Name, what catalog it was in, how many seeds in a packet, cost, page number and item number. I then input it all into a table and sorted by vegetable name. This way I could see which catalog had the best price in what vegetables. Yes, I'm weird like this.

My mom as well as a fellow homeschooling family are considering joining us in planting the gardens in our back yard. We have a large 30-70' area that we're adding 4 beds to (we already have 2.)

One of the seed companies, Jung Seeds, has an online program for planning your garden, free for the first 30 days. Imagine my delight, planning out a fancy schmancy plan and I was even able to print it! It told me how many seeds I need, when I need to get them in the ground and I even set the program for two growing rounds, some of the plants can be replanted sometime in July/August for a fall harvesting. How wonderful!

Here is what we decided on finally:

The little one is looking forward to the watering and caring of the baby plants. We will be starting some indoors after the seeds arrive this weekend. She has claimed the carrots as her own, her special food. I told her she had to share in the bounty but I'm not sure she's buying it!

I realize even though we have a huge space to plant, the packets come with SO many seeds. So I thought, after the seeds get here, I could split them up and split the costs with probably 2 people. If anyone is interested, just holler and I'll tell you how much and how many seeds you'll get of each (approximately.) No need to waste them. I don't think seeds are good next year. Who wants to grow with me?!

P.S. I'm ignoring the fact that there is late snow on my ground once again. It will warm up this week!

P.P.S.S. For those frivolous minded people like MY family members, you can play a game that really has nothing to do with gardening at all but is wildly fun: Plants VS. Zombies - link is a reputable company, CNET (it's a trial version).  Can also be found as a free demo download on your Playstation 3. Oh yeah, I forgot the teen has it as a download on her cell phone so you might check your phone's market for free downloads, if you have 'nothing' to do.

NOTE: Don't forget to see my new 'Garden Gurus' page at the top for more gardening information and links.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25th - Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Homeschool Mother's Journal began as a single post on a Friday morning (at The Homeschool Chick), and turned into a link-up for homeschool mothers across the blog-O-sphere to share a piece of their journey with one another each week.   .
To visit the most recent Homeschool Mother's Journal post, please click HERE

In my life this week...

So, we've made a family decision. Chickens will be our new pet! Hopefully this weekend we can start building a coop. Perhaps after a nice long yard clean up. I've created a Chicken Farmers page on this blog where I'll keep info I come across as we figure out this new endeavor.

In our homeschool this week...

Some days I see a dedication to the little one's work, others it's a struggle for immediate obedience. We've hit the puberty stage and stubbornness reigns. We're constantly discussing what God would want us to do and how he would want us to act. We're currently memorizing Romans 12 and the topic of 'Do Not transform to the patterns of this world' has had many a discussion. I consider the world's focus to be a selfish, me-driven, do what I want, give me give me type focus. I do not want that for our family. Our homeschool has been very focused this week on obedience. We're practicing the term I read on someone's post from the Charlotte Mason Carnival this week that said 'I will obey immediately with a happy heart.' We talked about how the little one doesn't want to get in trouble, and really does want to do what is right but is letting her anger and selfish thoughts get in the way of obeying with a happy heart. It's an ongoing process. This week's carnival  was all about obedience. Very enlightening. All homeschooling must have a base of obedience or its so much harder to accomplish.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

Sunday we did spend with our whole extended family for a birthday party. My nephew turned 13. Why do they have to grow up? It was a wonderful relaxing time. Chili, cake, ice cream, lots of laughter, beautiful sunshine, riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline. I love those type of get togethers. Found out on Monday that the teen has Strep Throat so I'm hoping against hope that no one contracted it on Sunday. 

During the week we did not go many places. We tend to hole up in the house, doing our homeschool and spending leisurely evenings at home. The little one has a major part in the church play so on Wednesday night she had choir practice for the songs and on Saturday they will rehearse the lines. I can't wait until her play on April 30th and May 1st!

My favorite thing this week was...

Honestly? Reading books about chickens and planning the new gardening beds and what we'll plant in them. I think I'm ready for spring!

What's working/not working for us... 

We're pretty much up to speed on all our subjects, including all of our homeschool paperwork and records. This is a coup for me as I'm never up to speed on records in March! Our Latin for Children is going slower than I'd imagined. I didn't pick up the curriculum until October so we started late. We should probably be in chapter 18-20 and we're only on 10 but I feel confident in what she knows, and we didn't do much Latin during December.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

We've used so many math programs over the years, I just don't know what to look at for next year. This year we used 2 different books. One a regular textbook used in public schools and then we're finishing up with Saxon 76, in which I'm catching the things she did not know on the placement test she took at Saxon to see what book to use next. Should I go with Saxon 87, Saxon Algebra 1/2? What about Teaching Textbooks. I like that one but my pocketbook does not. Just don't know. Don't want to buy the wrong thing and then it not be the right thing for us...

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

This week I feel pulled in many directions. With gardens needing planning, a coop needing to be built, I'm going to conference in two weeks and then hopefully on a vacation with my mom for a week or so after that.  While I'm gone hubby is refinishing our cruddy wood floors so all our rooms need to be organized so they can be moved out. I feel rushed and stressed and sometimes want to just chuck it all and say forget it. But I'm reminded of one of my favorite Thoreau quotes. While I choose to find my Eternity in Heaven, the rest applies:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
 - Henry David Thoreau.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chicken Farmers - Update!

The inevitable has happened. We've perused a dozen books (in we, I mean the little one and I, while hubby stood by and shook his head.) about chicken raising. We've picked out and re-picked out what chick breeds we'd like to own, which produce the best, which will lay the longest. We've discussed and sketched and eyed the contents of the house for any stray wood that might go into a chicken tractor. We've even shown the books to the teen who is never here and wouldn't be a part of the care and upkeep of chickens, but none-the-less has picked out what type of chicken she wants.

But finally, behind closed doors without little ears to hear and a convincing whine to color our judgment, the hubby and I have sat down and discussed the possibility of a chicken coop in our yard. The pros and cons have been weighed (I'm an optimist, he's the opposite so you can imagine which side of the room more cons were coming from).We've talked of coops, feed, letting them roam as opposed to being 'cooped' up all day, wintering them, brooders (the little one already set up a homemade one in the basement), having wood to build a coop, what they eat (bugs and scraps, corn and feed) and the types of eggs they produce.

His argument: it will probably be a mistake, things like this usually don't turn out okay.
My argument: it's worth a try, to at least have tried the opportunity, for the little one at least. If all else fails and we hate it or its not for us, we can find a nice farm the chickens can go live on and sell or give away our coop.

With a sigh, a boast that 'of course' he could build a nice coop but that I better find out the code of ordinances for our city, on chickens... hubby agreed for us to become a chicken farming family!  Yay us!

Note: I added information to the 'Chicken Farmers tab above' on how to find out the Municipal Code of Ordinances for your city, as well as how your house lot is zoned (this info matters as to how many chickens you can legally house.) We're zoned residential and we can have 2. I'm going to call City Hall tomorrow to see if we could have a few more if we paid a licensing fee. That is permitted in other cities, so it doesn't hurt to ask...

Okay, who's ready to throw on some overalls, grab a bale of hay and raise some chickens?! Anyone, anyone, Bueller??!

** Stay tuned for more exciting updates **

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Better Late Than Never? 52 Books/52 Weeks

Yesterday I was blog hopping. It was such a wonderful spring day, why not hop around?! But I digress...

I was visiting and linking up with this week's HipHomeschoolHop and found the Winecup Christian Academy. After hopping around her blog a bit, I found a post about reading 52 books in 52 weeks. I thought 'I read a lot, I could probably do that.' So I visited the 52 Books blog for more details. As my luck would have it, they started January 1st. I'm late. Then again, when am I ever on time for anything? I can still do this!

So with library list and NookColor in hand, I can figure out and share the books I've read so far, and maybe a few that will be for upcoming weeks.

Week 1 - The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan also The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Week 2 - The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan as well as The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)     The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)     The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4)    The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5)

Week 1 and 2 were all about catching up on the Lightning Thief series that the little one and I had started last year. She received the new book in the new series for Christmas and I was dying to read it, so I had to read read read! This series is so good! The little one loves learning about Greek Myths. In fact, one of our favorite books is D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths.

Week 3 – The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Week 4 – Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle
Week 5 – Brush with Death and Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind
Week 6 – Sew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Week 7 – Truly Madly by Heather Webber
Week 8 – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett
Week 9 – Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly

A Woman's Call to Prayer: Making Your Desire to Pray a Reality (George, Elizabeth (Insp))               Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life

Week 10 – A Woman's Call to Prayer by Elizabeth George
Week 11 – Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke

This week we are obsessed on deciding if we will add chickens to our family. So several books I'm perusing are all about chickens. But I probably won't put all of those down in my little list. My plan this week is this:

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition)               Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead

Week 12 – The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, as well as possibly finishing up Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead by Livia J. Washburn

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy)            The Body in the Ivy: A Faith Fairchild Mystery (Faith Fairchild Mysteries)            The Body in the Gallery: A Faith Fairchild Mystery (Faith Fairchild Mysteries)

For upcoming weeks: I have Ken Follett's Fall of Giants sitting on my shelf to read, right next to The Body in the Ivy and The Body in the Gallery both by Katherine Hall Page.

What are you reading this week? My choice of books seems to be all about mystery! lol I need to throw in some worthwhile books as well. Any suggestions?
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