Friday, August 30, 2013

A great end of summer day!

Today started with the last day of swim lessons for the summer. Journey quit pretty early on; with only one working eye and lack of depth perception, she is uncomfortable in any depth of water because she can't navigate the ground through the water.

Vivi made a lot of progress, and Jeb is a fish!

Jeb was trying to sit on the bottom of the pool like Eric

And the day ended with a trip to a local school parking lot to work with Jeb on riding with no training wheels. They've been off for a few days and we've practiced in the back yard, but today was his first wide open paved space to practice. Eric spent about 10 minutes running behind him, holding the seat to help him balance

Journey is working on the tricycle, but her legs are too short to really pedal. We're working on adding something to that tonight to help her, more on that next time.

And Vivi is a pro on her trike, but isn't a big fan of learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

Eric suddenly let go....

And Jeb kept going! Within minutes he was also going around curves without falling and could get himself going without help.

And is oh so pleased with himself :)
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homeschooling This Summer

I was posting so many updates about homeschooling for awhile, often because I was sitting at the table with Jeb while he worked in case he needed me and I had the time. But now he's working so much more independently and I should really be switching the laundry and unloading the dishwasher instead of playing on the computer all day :)

Jeb started the 1st grade curriculum in April. It began with very simple reading (Pat is a rat. Pat is fat. Pat is a fat rat.) and very simple math (trace the numbers 0-9, circle the third fish, write the four numbers in order).

We are year round homeschoolers-if we are at home, we do school work. If we have a play date or something else going on during the day, we'll skip school work. There's no start or end date, no deadlines to meet, no playing catch up if we take a few days off. It works perfectly for us as a family because it allows us to follow our own schedule (or non-schedule) without worrying about keeping up. It also works best for Jeb because he thrives on routine and does best when he's regularly reviewing the material.

Now he's reading easy reader books like Green Eggs and Ham all by himself and the girls will ask him to read to them. In math he's doing double digit addition, beginning fractions, telling time, and counting coins. We read chapter books to just him every night before bed (Eric reads books to all 3 kids, then we pray together and put the girls to bed, and then read a chapter book to just Jeb in his room) He has heard a lot of classics already, both from the curriculum and from my collection of favorites-Stuart Little, The Boxcar Children, Winnie The Pooh, The Mouse and the Motorcycle...and later on in this curriculum he'll get to hear so many more great books-Little House in the Big Woods, Dr. Dolittle-one of the most exciting parts about getting a new curriculum is reading over the list of books he'll get to read and hear.

Besides practicing reading, he's also been working on spelling and writing. Every week he has a 10 word spelling test, and we've started doing some creative writing exercises to help him practice spelling, writing, and creativity. We also study science, bible, and cultures, and starting this fall I'm hoping to add Spanish and piano to the mix as well.

During quiet rest time, he decided to write his own chapter book about our camping trip this weekend and has been working on it for almost 2 hours already :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Camping in Charlevoix

This past weekend we had a family reunion up near Traverse City, and we decided to make a weekend out of it by heading more north to Charlevoix to camp. My sister in law had posted pictures of their recent trip up north where they stopped at the gardens at Castle Farms. It is a popular wedding destination with all of the buildings shaped like castles, but the gardens are very child-friendly with a pond full of big fish, giant chess sets, and the main reason we went- over 2,000 feet of tiny train tracks running through a hedge maze.When my sister in law posted the pictures of the trains I knew Jeb would flip, and it was just an hour and a half north of the reunion.

We headed up to a great campground where we were the closest tent to the bathroom (a big plus with 3 little bladders in tow!), showers, running water, and a beautiful view of a lake feeding into a river for just $15 for the night! We had been camping in Indiana the weekend before and it was $30 for one night, so we were pretty excited to spend half that!

After dinner, a walk down to the lake, and then back for s'mores, we went to bed. In the morning we made breakfast and then packed up and headed out to Castle Farms.

I knew the whole family would enjoy the gardens, but this face was the main reason I wanted to come-my boy is obsessed with trains, cars, wheels, tracks, and anything with a motor!

In the middle of the day we went back to the car for a picnic lunch and to change clothes, it had gotten quite a bit warmer!

When we left mid afternoon the kids were all exhausted and slept for a couple of hours. Then we stopped for dinner and did some family exercise before making the rest of the drive home. Our kids are all SO good in the car, it's almost too good to be true. I'm determined to keep road tripping so that they stay this good at it!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just another exciting day on the farm

Here's a picture of yet another egg one of our silly chickens insists on laying outside of the coop. Every morning, we let them out into the yard, and Dorothy eats, drinks, and then flies over the 5 ft fence to lay her egg. We took out the 5 gallon bucket nest boxes that got so many great reviews in the chicken community (yep, there's a community) and put in a big bin full of grass that she might find more comfortable. But now that she has gotten used to laying outside the fence, she insists on doing that. However, another chicken has also started laying (obediently, in the next box) so now we're getting a white egg AND a brown egg every day!

We had a tree in our back yard that we thought was a crabapple tree, because it had pretty pinkish-white flowers both springs that we've owned our house. Part of the tree is laying down across the ground, which makes it take up more space in the yard. Eric wanted to cut the part that is laying down to clear more yard space, but thankfully he didn't get to it this spring, because it turns out it was an apple tree! The first spring we didn't live in the house, it was still being built, so we must have not noticed, and last year the apple crop in Michigan failed because of a late frost, so we didn't see it last year.

There's also another huge apple tree just outside our property on city land, and the apples are ripe there too. We spent part of the afternoon picking apples from both trees, and I have big plans for canned applesauce.

The kids are really enjoying having an all-you-can-eat apple buffet in the backyard! Each time we go outside has become snack time with beans, cucumbers, and peppers eaten fresh from the garden, and now they have fruit

The white chicken is Dorothy, she has been giving us an egg every day for the past couple of weeks.

And while he hasn't crowed, this guy is decidedly a rooster. He must have heard our rule, 'if you crow, you go' because even though he's doing all the other things that mature male chickens do, he's keeping his beak shut :) This is our last rooster, and we're undecided if we're going to raise babies next year or just add a couple of older hens to our flock.

After he goes we'll be down to 11 chickens, which sounds like a lot but really doesn't look like much running around their yard. We have 2 chickens that will lay white eggs, 8 that will lay brown eggs, and 1 that will lay greenish or bluish eggs. I'd like to add more green/blue egg layers next year, just for fun. 5 of our chickens were bred to be good egg layers and will lay an egg just about every day for the first year or 2, and then production slows down and eventually they'll become dinner too. The other chickens will probably not lay as often, but production will probably slow down after a couple of years too. So every year we'll probably add a couple of new chickens and in a year or so we'll start eating a couple every year too, when they stop producing, to make room for new layers.

Local family and friends, you may be recieving the gift of farm fresh eggs as more chickens start laying and we have a bounty of new eggs each day. They are delicious and cook up so fluffy!
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Blueberry jam!

There's a local blueberry farm that has $1/lb Wednesdays. We went with a friend 2 weeks ago, and didn't pick enough to make all the things the kids wanted to make. So last week, we took my mom and went back to pick more blueberries than we know what to do with. We ended up with 13 pounds!

The next day we made jam! My sister and her daughter came along too, but they like to stay out of the internet world, so they're not pictured.

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