Blueberries and Acts of Kindness

Summer is the best!  I love the pace of it.  I wish it were this easy to meet up with our friends the rest of the year.  We had a wonderful time playing at the park with a group of friends, some of them we hadn’t seen for a few months.



Blueberries!!!  We picked the afternoon of CSA pickup and then took some friends back the next day to pick more!  So far we’ve had spinach and blueberry salad and a scrumptious fresh peach and blueberry crisp.   Did I mention how much I love summer?



Can you guess how these pictures go together?

One of the great ironies of picking up our veggies at the CSA farm is that it sometimes leads to us having dinner from Chick-fil-a.  This week was one of those times.  We had been out of the house pretty much all day and I needed to cut the trim and help my husband install it in the last bedroom before carpet came the next morning.  I was sitting in the drive through feeling a little ashamed of myself for wasting the money on fast food.  When we pulled up to pay and get our food they clanged a cowbell and announced the person in front of us had paid for our meals!!!  How nice!  I paid for the guy behind us but he had just one meal not four, and we pulled away feeling really good and thinking about paying it forward.

The next morning as one of the workers was bringing in the carpet he lost his balance a bit. The carpet hit the light fixture and the glass came crashing down on our hardwood floor. He looked absolutely horrified.  I assured him that accidents happen sometimes and we picked up the bigger pieces.  He went back to installing carpet while I vacuumed up the smaller ones.  He was so apologetic.  Turns out he isn’t having a great month.  His wife is having pregnancy complications and he had a trip to the ER last week for an allergic reaction to a hornet sting.

Once it was just the kids and I, we talked about how the carpet guy needed some kindness.  I could have gotten angry but by staying calm and helping out, I was able to have a positive impact on his day.  The choices we make don’t just affect us but also those around us.

Once it was just me, I had to ponder, if it were my kids who broke the light fixture and scratched up the floor would I have been as understanding?  I hope so.




Our 2013-2014 Curriculum

Can it really be that time again?

We follow an interest led approach to homeschool.  That can mean different things to different people.  At our house it means we have open reading everyday, we work through a math workbook (so far they enjoy it), and we have a grammar or spelling lesson every day.  The rest of our day is spent learning about things we find interesting.  Frequently our reading in the morning ties into our unit studies.

This coming school year E will officially be in 4th grade and C in 3rd grade.  So what workbooks / programs do we use:

Singapore Math.  The boys enjoy math and tend to catch on to concepts quickly.  They like that the Singapore Math series doesn’t bog them by expecting problems to be solved in a particular way.   So far we have used books 1B – 5A and I’ve been pleased with the way concepts are presented.

When the boys were in public school, they used a spiraling curriculum.  They didn’t like the information being presented in such small segments.  They didn’t feel like they were learning anything new.

Easy Grammar We will use Easy Grammar again this year.  It does a nice job of building up skills and reviewing them.   The lessons are short enough that they are not cumbersome. There are no pictures or color, but the boys don’t mind at all.  My left handed son appreciates that Easy Grammar is spiral bound at the top.  I usually take his workbooks and have the office supply store cut off the binding and hole punch them, so I appreciate not having the extra step as well.

All About Spelling – Very straight forward and well planned out.  The tiles that come with this program are fantastic. The boys enjoy putting words in jail when they break the rules.    I’ve done quite a bit of reading regarding what works for kids with dyslexia and this program really does use recommended techniques.

That’s it for workbooks at my house.

What about science, history, music, art, sports and reading?

Last year they studied Greek mythology and history, the Vikings, China ( the Great Wall, Pandas, and ninjas), cephalopods, and vernal pools.  We also touched on WWII and the Civil War.  We did lots of science experiments and read about scientists and their work.

This year we will have a unit study on Yellowstone (including field trip / vacation) !!!   We will also study weather, natural disasters, and programming using the NXT format as part of our Lego League teams.    Bats and White Nose Syndrome will be a topic of study.  I’m hoping we can make it to Mammoth Cave this school year. The boys are starting to take an interest in greek and latin word roots.  They will be playing soccer and golf.  We will try to go rock climbing, sledding and skiing during the winter.  Beyond that I’m not exactly sure what we will be learning but I’m excited to see how the year unfolds.

Right now we are trying to enjoy another month of summer.  Oh and reading, programming, swimming and developing our outdoor skills.

How are your plans for the school year coming?





Weekly Wrapup July 19


Last Friday we took the boys for a nature walk in the evening.  Our area received lots of rain last week and there was quite a bit of flooding.The creek was extremely high and current was much stronger than normal.


The ducks were able to find a quiet puddle.



Our nature highlight of the week was seeing a beaver in the wild!    About 18 months ago, we observed a lot of beaver activity and saw what we believed was a beaver lodge.  Then all the activity stopped.  Finally, Friday night we actually saw a beaver for about 8 seconds.


With the wet weather there were some really huge slugs out.


The clouds at sunset were gorgeous!

Does anyone else enjoy summer more as a mom than you did as a kid?  I love seeing our friends, going swimming, making sno-cones, campfires, fireflies, and summer cooking.



Our CSA pickup included some kohlrabi.  To my knowledge I’d never eaten kohlrabi and didn’t know how to cook it.  I sliced it up and ate a slice raw.  It reminded me of a turnip but much milder.  I decided to fry it along with some zucchini.  I don’t fry things very often because I don’t like the smell it leaves in the house.  My solution is to plug in the electric skillet on the back porch.   So sliced kohlrabi and zucchini dipped in egg then whole wheat flour and skillet fried in a bit of canola oil, sprinkled with a little bit of Tony’s, served with iced tea,  and it felt like being back in the south for dinner.

If you have any suggestions for cooking kohlrabi or getting pictures of hummingbirds I would love to hear them.  Hope you are having a terrific summer!


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Encouraging Positive Attitudes

Vacation was a blast!  It is always so great to see family and visit and catch up.  Unfortunately I either forget to pick up the camera or we are in / on the water and I didn’t want to take the camera along.  We had a great time canoeing the lake close to my brother’s house with his family.  I really wish I had some pictures of the tight spaces my husband led us through.  We also enjoyed a nice fireworks display and a day at the water park with the aunts, uncles, and cousins.


My husband did capture a few cool moments.  The boys were checking out this cool hollow tree during a walk with grandma.  If you look up…. snake skin.


He also nabbed this great shot of a dragonfly about to take flight.


The boys have been at Cub Scout Camp this week.  It’s been pretty quiet around the house without them.  I’m working really hard on a project I hope to share within the next couple of weeks.  I’ve spent most of my time without them decluttering and painting. I did swing by Chick-fil-a for some semi-sweet tea!  In other good news, the Target near me is finally done remodeling and has my favorite frozen berry mix back in stock!  I start every morning with a banana berry smoothie and it hasn’t been the same without my usual berry mix.  Sometimes it really is the small things.


I’m sure it happens at every house, a couple of months ago one of my precious boys was suffering from a difficult attitude.  He didn’t feel like he could do anything right and was constantly walking around with a grumpy attitude.  It made me sad to see him like that because he can be so cheerful and helpful.   He really felt like we didn’t see any of the good stuff he was doing.


So we started a pebble jar for both boys. We decided to follow the LEGO FLL model of coopetition. Each boy has his own jar to fill BUT when one finishes his jar he gets a reward that benefits both of them.  The beauty of this design is they can see how they are doing individually and they are spurred on when they see their brother getting pebbles. On the other hand, the reward being for both of them regardless who finishes keeps them cheering for each other.

The pebble jar has made a huge change…IN ME!  I did notice the good stuff they were doing, but I frequently forgot to say it or they didn’t hear it.   Now, if they clear their plates with out being asked and then go play, I can just put a pebble at their chair and say “Thanks” when they come back.  It also makes it easy for them to ask for affirmation,  “Can I have a pebble for…?”   The boys really see a difference in their attitudes and appreciate the positive encouragement.  I was concerned about creating an artificial reward for something they should be doing anyway; but we’ve all really enjoyed the positive reinforcement and honestly the rewards are things we would do anyway.  The pebbles are surprisingly small and it takes a long time to fill the jar.


Today they are getting new water guns for the post camp water gun fight and a trip for ice cream.    I can’t wait!!


What do you do to make sure you are encouraging positive attitudes?  How do you remind yourself to appreciate others?


Mary_CollageFriday      weeklywrapup125