Yes, we are still here!

I just wanted to give a quick update that yes, we are still here and still homeschooling!  I don’t know what derailed this blog back in March, but I am sure that it had something to do with not having enough time.  I’m going to try and keep up in here more often and hopefully when April comes around I will still be blogging!

-Heather

 

Weekly Menu

menu

I’m late getting this out, but I have kind of been winging it this week!

Monday:  Mac & Cheese (Trader Joe’s from the box) with frozen veggies & tuna

Tuesday:  Corned Beef (Trader Joe’s was carrying this marinated in a spice for St. Patrick’s Day!)

Wednesday:  Garlic Shrimp Pasta.  I ruined the pasta because I cooked it too long and it was all gummy :(.  The shrimp tasted good though!

Thursday:  Out.  I was feeling lazy and my boys wanted to go out.  We went to a local fast food place (healthier than most) and the “toy” in the kid’s meal was a pack of snap pea seeds with a garden marker!  That was super cool to receive.

Friday:  Hamburgers

Saturday:  ??  Got any ideas for me?  We also have company in town and I have to account for two more people.  Maybe we will go out again?

Sunday:  Pizza 

-Heather

 

Bees

beesPart of our Language Arts block for this month we will be telling the story The Queen Bee by the Brothers Grimm.  As a part of the block it was suggested that we do something related to bees.  I thought that it would be fun to go and check out an actual beehive, so I did some searching around and I found an urban farm near us that has an apiary.  They told me that the first Saturday of the month they have a get together and they teach others about the bees.  That first meeting was last week and we got the whole family to go!

We were greeted by Beth, who was our very friendly host, and she showed us around the farm and then took us to the bees.  At this time the farm has two working hives, but they will be getting more bees this Spring.  The volunteers were cleaning out some extra hives to make room for the new bees.

IMG_20150307_134805756

The two active hives that were being checked out

Beth got the boys the headgear that you wear around bees and had the boys put it on.  She then talked to the boys all about the bees.  It was educational and Nathan seemed to enjoy it.

IMG_20150307_122958434

The boys were given a hat and veil

Next, the fun part came!  Beth opened up the hives to see how they were doing and to look for the Queens.  Anderson wasn’t interested in looking, so I hung back with him while Nathan and Christopher went by the hives.  I was a little bit jealous because I wanted to see :).  Beth did a great job at explaining what everyone was seeing when they were pulling out the frames.  They found the Queen Bee in both hives.  Christopher thought that she would be bigger, but she was just a little bit longer than the worker bees.  They also got to see all of the stages of the bees inside the hive.  As they were looking some bees were flying out (they did not smoke the hive), but there weren’t too many (I imagined a huge swarm coming out).  The bees landed on everyone, but no one got stung and it seemed pretty safe.  Once the hive was inspected everything was put back together and Beth came over to talk to us more about bees.

IMG_20150307_124837692

Looking at the open hives

At this point we were really excited about the bees and were ready to jump in and get started on beekeeping!  Unfortunately, the best time to get bees is in the early Spring.  We realized that we need more time to find out the rules/regulations of keeping bees where we live and we need to read up on it more and and buy supplies.  Beth gave us some very useful information to get us going on our journey and we are all excited about that!  We also got a quick lesson on how to catch your own swarm of bees.

As we were leaving, Beth let Nathan and Anderson have a big chunk of the beeswax from one of the hives.  The boys were so excited about that!  They smooshed the wax up and shaped it into big balls and have been playing with them since (they smell wonderful!).

IMG_20150307_133618351_HDR

If you are interested in keeping bees the two best things to do per Beth are:

  • Find a local beekeeping organization near you.  They will have a lot of information for you and will be able to answer your questions.
  • Find a mentor.  If you can find someone that will help you out and guide you it makes beekeeping easier.

I’m looking forward to next year when hopefully we will add bees to our family 🙂

-Heather

February Book Recap

febbook

 

Here is a recap of the books that I read in February:

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…by Jolie Kerr

I heard an interview of Jolie Kerr on NPR talking about this book and she was pretty funny and some of her cleaning tips were good and I made a mental note to request this book. Well, I forgot about it and just recently was reminded about it and picked it up from the Library. Jolie has a blog/website that answers all issues related to getting things clean. She decided to write a book based on what she gets asked all of the time. There are no holds barred for her and she even goes over some of the gross requests, like the title of her book.

I hate cleaning and I’m not really good at it (I don’t know what I’m supposed to be using). Kerr gives some great advice and I’ve already purchased a couple of items that I didn’t know about. I found a lot of her tips helpful, especially when it came to laundry. I learned that OxiClean is probably her favorite cleaning tool for stains. Pine-Sol is also a good stain remover, who knew? Here is a list of the chapters that she goes over and ways to clean these places/things:

1-Kitchen
2-Floors, ceilings, walls, & other immovable objects
3-Bathroom
4-Lady “tools” (brush, curling iron, make-up supplies, etc)
5-Brides
6-Laundry
7-Cars
8-Things that you can’t ask Martha (mostly related to bodily fluids)

Her writing is funny, but sometimes I found that she was trying too hard to be funny and it was kind of annoying. If you are a cleaning novice or have some cleaning experience like myself then this book would probably be good for you. If you are clean freak then I am sure that you already know most of these tricks and tips. I think that I’m going to buy a used copy of this book because it would be nice to reference back when I have a cleaning question!

I would rate this book 4 stars.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Thea Atwell, a young teenage girl from Florida is sent, by her parents, to a girls’ riding camp in Yonahlossee in North Carolina for some transgression that happened with her, which is a mystery to the reader. The novel takes place during the great depression so the only girls at this camp are girls that come from wealthy families, including Thea. Thea does not want to be at this camp, but over time she starts to like it, the girls, and she falls for the head master.

Through the course of the book we are slowly clued in to why Thea was sent to this camp. I don’t want to put any spoilers, but I was really disturbed by why she was sent. Not revealing too much of the secret too soon I thought was good on the writer’s part because it made me want to keep reading to figure out what happened (I was able to figure it out before it was completely revealed). The writing was easy to read and it was a fast read, but I only thought that the book was so-so. I also thought for awhile that this book was written by a man (I’ve never associated Anton being a girl’s name) and I thought that it was very weird that a man was writing about young girls at a riding camp. Once I figured out that it was actually a woman writing this it made a little more sense. To me, Thea wasn’t a hugely likeable character and the story didn’t captivate me.

I would rate this book 3 stars.

A Kiss Before You Go by Danny Gregory

This book is Danny Gregory’s illustrated memoir (in a diary type format) of his wife’s first accident (horrible), then her death (another horrible thing) and his year after her death coping with her being gone. It was a beautiful tribute to his wife and what the grief process does and can look like for someone that has lost their spouse. I enjoyed the drawings and the words that accompanied the drawings. A lot of what he said I saw in how my mom was and still is with the death of my dad. The book is a very fast read (30 minutes) because it is mostly drawings.

I would rate the book 4 stars.

How To Be Both by Ali Smith

I read a couple of synopses of this book and it sounded really intriguing to me, but once I got the book I couldn’t remember what it was about and I was kind of confused with what was going on. I think that it does help to know what this book is about before you read it. This book is two novels in one and they are connected. One of the novels is called “camera” and the other is called “eyes.” When they published the book they did two versions, one with camera being first and eyes second and vice versa. So, you may get a book and read it in a different order than someone else and I imagine that will change your view of the book? The order of the book that I got was camera first and eyes second. It felt like this was the right order to read them in, but it would be interesting to get the viewpoint of someone else who read eyes first. Anyway, in camera George (a girl whose real name is Georgia and this caused me quite some confusion because I was thinking that it was a transgender kid…) is the narrator and George is reflecting back on her time with her mother who has recently passed away. The book goes back and forth from the past to the present. One of the storylines in this book is that George’s mother was obsessed with this painting that was semi-recently discovered and they would go and visit this painting. Once George’s mother has died she goes and visits this painting more often. The second book, eyes, is about the painter who painted the painting that George’s mother loved and the one that George now visits. The painter, Francescho, was a young girl when she lost her mother. Her dad thought that the only way that the girl could continue on and be successful and have opportunities in life was to become a boy (dress and act like one). The girl does this and changes her name and ends up living her life as a man. The story goes from present day to the 1460s when Francescho was alive.

The book was a very interesting one and so different from anything that I have read before. The writing was really well done. I did find myself getting confused at some points and having to re-read things. There was also a lot that was left open and I wanted to know more about certain characters. It was a quick read for me.

I would rate the book 3.5 stars.

My reading “shelf” for March

March is going to probably be a big reading month.  I had put all of these books on hold at the library and like it always happens a lot of the books become available at the same time.  I don’t know if I will be able to get through them all, but if I have to return them I’ll have to wait for another month or two to get them.

  • The Brother’s K by David James Duncan (I was reading this book last month and then had to return it to the library because it is a long one and my time was up.  I just got it again and hopefully I can finish it!).

I’ve joined a new book club where I live, so I will also have that book to read and at the end of the month my other book club will pick a book.   I don’t know if I will be able to get to those in March.

Happy reading!

Heather

 

 

 

Piet Mondrian Art Lesson

pietmondrian

In celebration of Piet Mondrian’s birthday (3/7) I decided that we’d do an art lesson on him.  I think that he is one of the easiest artists for kids to replicate.  It is very simple and young kids have an easy time following what they need to do.  Before we get to the lesson, let’s learn a little about Piet Mondrian himself.

Piet was a Dutch painter born in 1872.  He was part of a group of artists that formed a new style of art called neoplasticism which was art painted on a white background with black vertical and horizontal lines in a grid shape.  The geometric shapes were only painted the primary colors.  He lived in Amsterdam, Paris, London, and New York.  It was in New York where he went away from the black grid lines and instead followed a grid with the primary colors.  He was very much influenced by the jazz music scene, and the city itself.

It was funny because I had already had a lesson planned out for him and I just happened to come across this Lego video that does a Mondrian.

My boys LOVED it!  Right after we watched the video Nathan went and got paint, a paint brush, and Legos to recreate what he just watched (no prompting or suggesting by us).  He sat there “painting” his Lego Mondrian.  When he was finished he built a Lego frame and hung it on our wall.  Anderson made his own painting too, but he didn’t try and recreate it like this video.

IMG_20150210_173327421

Working on creating the Mondrian

IMG_9009

Here is the second version of the Lego Mondrian (the first one fell off the wall and broke)

I had wanted to read a kid’s book to the boys to introduce them to Mondrian.  Unfortunately, there really aren’t any great ones out there.  I only one I could find was Coppernickel Goes Mondrian (affiliate link).  The book has a character that is supposed to be Mondrian and many of the paintings in the book have the grid shape and use the primary colors.  At the end of the book there is a little write-up about Mondrian.  This book wasn’t a huge hit with my boys and I would actually recommend checking it out from the local library first to see if you like it.

As fate would have it, another Mondrian video randomly showed up for me and I thought that it was interesting and shared it with the boys.

Now for the art lesson!

Step 1:  Gather all of your materials.  We used our BioColor paints, paint brush, 1/2″ masking tape,  and painting paper.

IMG_8996

Step 2:  Tape off the piece of paper in a grid of your choosing.

IMG_8999

Step 3:  Color the rectangles or squares either red, blue, yellow, or white (you could leave some of the spaces blank and not paint them white, but I found that my boys were getting some stray paint in the white areas, so it was better to just paint it white.

IMG_9000

Step 4:  Once the paint is dry pull off the tape.

IMG_9001

Step 5:  Paint the area that was under the tape black to create your black lines for the grid.

IMG_9011

Anderson’s Mondrian

IMG_9004

Now your kids (or you) are all done and you have created your own Mondrian!!

-Heather

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

geisel

 

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.  I remember reading some of his books when I was younger and even getting the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  for a graduation gift and liking his work, but it really wasn’t until I had my two boys when I started to appreciate him so much more.  The way that he has with words is fascinating and I think that he is a genius when it comes to writing children’s books.  If you Google around you will find so many great quotes that can be applied to life that are from his books.  Whenever we read a Dr. Seuss (or a Theo LeSieg) book it is a guarantee that my boys will love it!

One of the facts about Dr. Seuss that has always stood out to me is that he never had any children.  He is probably the most well known children’s author and yet he had no kids.  If you want to read more about Dr. Seuss, his wiki page  has a lot of information about him.  Last week I read that his wife recently found a book that Dr. Seuss was working on that had never been published.  The book is What Pet Should I Get?  The book is coming out at the end of July, but it can be pre-ordered now.  We are very excited to read this book!

In honor of Dr. Seuss every March 2nd (his birthday) is celebrated as National Read across America Day and you can bet that we will be reading some Dr. Seuss today.  I hope that you do too!

drseuss

 

 

-Heather

p.s. This post contains an affiliate link and if you purchase from the link I’ll get a tiny commission which goes straight towards more books for homeschooling, thanks!

Weekly Menu

menu

Hard to believe that we are on our last day of February already.   Here is what we are planning for dinner this week (BTW, the Quinoa Broccoli Casserole from last week was a big hit!  Anderson, my picky eater, ate almost all of his dinner which is huge!).

Sunday:  Swedish Meatballs from Damn Delicious.  Right now this is my favorite cooking site since the recipes are good and so easy to make!  This recipe looks a little heavy on the meat, but I wanted to see if they tasted like the Ikea ones.  We will also be having cauliflower mashed potatoes with these.

Monday:  Chorizo, Avocado, and Zucchini Frittata from my new Inspiralized Cookbook

Tuesday:   BBQ Chicken Salad from Damn Delicious

Wednesday:  Grandmom Gennaro’s Minestre Soup (Vegan soup) from Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker

Thursday:  Hamburgers

Friday:  Slow Cooked Asian Glazed Chicken by Six Sisters.  I will be doing what a commenter said and decreasing the soy sauce and adding more water.

Saturday:  Skillet Baked Ziti from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

-Heather

p.s. Some of the links above are affiliate links so if you do purchase an item I will get a tiny commission and that will go towards homeschool supplies, thanks!

 

Chinese New Year

chinesenewyear

All of last week we learned about Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year because other countries besides China celebrate it), since the New Year date was on 2/19/15.  The new year is always held sometime between the end of January and the end of February, and is based on the moon.

We started off by talking about how we celebrate our New Year in the United States.  Then we read these three books:

Bringing In the New Year

Dragon Dance

Sam and the Lucky Money

I thought that Bringing In the New Year  was the most informative out of the three books.  It also kept the boys engaged.  At the end of the book there is a bit about the history of Chinese New Year written in a kid friendly manner.  After we read the three books we compared the similarities and the differences between Chinese New Year to our New Year.

Another day we started making these dragon puppets, but the boys weren’t interested in coloring them, so that project didn’t take off :(.

One Chinese New Years tradition is to give kids money in red envelopes (hongbao).  I thought that it would be fun to make some origami red envelopes and give to my boys.  I followed this great tutorial:

I made small envelopes because I only had small red paper and I figured that my boys would be happy receiving a quarter.  On the envelopes I added the Fú symbol    which means “good luck” or “good fortune.”

Here is one my finished envelopes:

redenvelope

On Chinese New Year we went out for Chinese food.  We wished our waiter “Happy New Year” and she was surprised that we knew about it.

On the weekend we went to Chinatown to the Chinese Garden to celebrate the New Year.

First we went to the Wishing Tree where we each got a ribbon with a gold piece tied to it.  We were supposed to throw it on the tree and make a wish.  All of us got our ribbon to stick with the first throw.  Other visitors were not so lucky :).

P1040657

Nathan getting ready to throw the ribbon

P1040659

Nathan and the wishing tree

Next we looked at all of the red lanterns hanging throughout the gardens (very pretty).  At about this time the Lions came out to dance!  The Lion Dance is done during the Chinese New Year to ward off evil and bring good fortune.   Many people mistake the lions for dragons, but one easy way to tell if it is a lion is to see how many legs it has.  The lions only have four legs (two dancers) and the dragon has more.  We all really enjoyed the dance very much (the dancer’s seemed to get a great workout)!

P1040664

After the dance we went out to visit the Sheep pavilion, since it is the Year of the Sheep/Ram.  As a fun fact, my zodiac sign is a sheep.  My husband’s is an Ox and supposedly we do not make a good match 🙂  One of my sons is a Tiger and again the Sheep and Tiger aren’t supposed to get along well.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快樂!

-Heather

p.s.  This post contains affiliate links and if you purchase from the link you are helping support our homeschool, thanks!

 

 

 

Weekly Menu

menu

 

First, I would like to say something about my absence.  I’ve had a lot going on these days.  Lots of activities and really a lot of cleaning going on.  I plan to add some more posts this week to play catch up!

Here is our menu for this week:

Sunday:  Homemade pizza

Monday:  Topless Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (from last week)

Tuesday:  Beef Stroganoff with sweet potato noodles

Wednesday:  Wiener Schnitzel with cauliflower mashed potatoes

Thursday:  Birthday Dinner for my husband!!!  We’ll be having ribeye steaks with veggies.

Friday:  Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup from Damn Delicious.  I have to just say a little something about this site.  I’ve made a few of her recipes and each one has been so easy and fast to make, which is a huge plus for moms.  The bonus is that they have tasted good and the whole family eats them.  I have a feeling that there will at least be one or more meals from her every week.

Saturday:  Broccoli Quinoa Casserole also from Damn Delicious.

-Heather