Pallet Queens

About 10 minutes from our home is a hardware store that Gives Away wood pallets!  New, perfectly good pallets.  I call regularly to see if they have any because, well, the twins and I are mad about building things out of pallets.  First we built a kidding shed and partial stanchion, that didn’t make the cut when we moved. IMG_1601 Then we built a goat stanchion that the girls use twice a day when milking.  Taylor and I built a hay feeder in about 20 minutes one evening, for the goats.  IMG_1605Contrary to popular belief, goats don’t eat everything.  They are actually kinda picky.  For the most part they won’t eat stuff off the ground. Unless its extra delicious!  When my dad came to visit they made an A-frame for baby chicks that would survive a hurricane! IMG_1608 We use the A-frame for baby chicks and anyone that is being picked on.  Its great for keeping little ones warm and safe from big mean hens.  And today we started our project to enlarge the chicken house.  Because we have an addiction……… to cute baby chicks. IMG_1610Our oldest hen is 8 years old, which is quite old for a hen and she is sitting on eggs.  She started with 8 and one hatched a cute yellow chick.  Unfortunately that chick fell from the nesting area and was attacked by the other hens. Those scoundrels also pecked open two eggs, so two more babies died and one was premature and didn’t make it.  However in the last couple of days two black chicks emerged from their shells and we have taken every precaution to protect them.  We’ve named them Eclipse and Nightfall- their adoptive mother is Nightsky, so we are going with the night theme.IMG_1596  As soon as Nightsky either abandons the last two eggs or they hatch, all will be moving into the pallet A-frame house.  Meanwhile we bought 6 chicks and 2 ducks.  One duck is youngest granddaughters, but lives at our house.  Sooooooooooooo, with this addition I’m thinking we can add a few more.  The girls were trying to figure out how many we could house and we came up with 20.  Let’s see, right now with the new babies we have 13, not counting the rooster or the ducks.  7 or 8 more should be just right.  Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell my hubby. 😉

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Curiosity Killed the Toilet?

imageThe plan was to blog about homeschooling next, but we have an ongoing interruption.  After all, life is the best teacher!  So on Friday one daughter was dying to know what exactly happens when you flush the toilet.  She had the idea that the water went from the bowl up into the tank and then down the sewer.

She gingerly lifted the lid, with one hand, ready to replace said lid if a geyser erupted got ready to flush………. and the lid slipped out of her hand went down into the tank and promptly broke a hole the size of a softball right through the bottom.  broken toiletShe ran out saying “mom, mom, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” (repeat multiple times).  We went down the hall and could hear water running…… yep, all over the bathroom floor and soaking up the bedroom carpet.  Being a plumbers daughter I grabbed the float and lifted. However my knowledge failed me at this point, so I called Mr. Fix-it-all (hubby).  He told me where the shut off was and we started mopping and vacuuming up the water.

One Thing Leads to Another

imageMr. Fix-it-all pulled the toilet, after we called several plumbers and found out the existing unit is so old we can’t just replace the tank.  You guessed it, the sub-flooring was a crumbling spongy mess.  This means the vinyl flooring also has to go.  By Friday night we were down to bare floor boards and NO Toilet in the master bath.

Putting It All Together

Saturday the new sub-flooring was in and all screw holes filled.  We found a remnant for $30 and made the template. IMG_6353 The lady at the flooring store said we were saving $300 by doing the floor ourselves.   Several trips were made to Home Depot and a new toilet purchased.  Mr. Fix-it-all was pooped (pun not intended) so we went a 2nd night flooringwithout a convenient toilet.  This matters to um, older folks who get up several times a night. 😉

The Finished Product

floor and trimSunday afternoon after a quick nap he was back at it.  This was after his day job of preaching.  Trim was purchased and installed. Mr. Fix-it-all is worth his weight in gold.  He has saved us thousands over the years.    New toilet was set and we are back in business! (pun intended) 😉bathroom

Goat People

imageMonths ago the twins decided they would like to raise, breed and milk goats.  Knowing their dad would be a hard sell they asked me to map out a “plan”.  And you know I love a good plan! (click here)

The Plan

Their part of the plan was to come up with the money end of things.  My contribution was along the lines of proving they were responsible enough to add more animals to the menagerie.  This may or may not have also benefited me. 😉 We talked about things like, keeping picked up after themselves, and looking for ways to be helpful and keeping our home a calm quiet place . A big point, from my perspective, was whether they even liked goats milk.  So, we bought some from a friend and guess what?  They loved it. 😉 There may or may not have been questions about whether they REALLY liked it….. but they drank a quart in less than 24 hours, so I was convinced. Next up was a visit to the feed stores in the area to comparison price supplies and feed.  The two of them did a ton of research and checked out library books and poored over them.  They also spent every spare minute talking about “goats”.  However we needed a code word so the dad wouldn’t know.  They came up with several,  snickers, operation butter, precious cutey chickens…….. anything to make it sound like something else.  Money was saved and then we came upon a good deal on 3 month old baby does.

The Big Question

It was time to present their case to dad.  They asked me to warm him up. 😉  So I talked about how responsibimagele they had been lately and how they had saved all the money and were going to totally bear any costs involved.  How could he refuse??? He says his middle name is cave. 🙂

The Purchase

So two babies were purchased and we scrambled to get everything ready.  They are jumpers, so we had to heighten the fence.  Since they are Nigerian dwarfs, they won’t get more than 19-21″ tall, so we repurposed a dog house we had.
We were told that goats are noisy, but evidently those who think so have never raised guinea fowl.  Now guineas are loud!  The goats have a cute little bleat and whenever they see us outside they call to us.  They are so funny to watch.  The lady we bought them from said goats are like candy, you can’t have just one.  I had planned on buying one also, but just before we were to pick her up she died!  It was a sad day.

The Frugal Part

Goats don’t really like to eat off the ground and they were continually knocking over the hay pail the girls bought.  So we took a pallet we got for free and made a feeder one Saturday.  pallet feederNext project will be a stanchion.  So far we  trim their hooves by holding them, but it’s a 2 or 3 person job.  Here’s the clippers we use.Zenport Z116 Hoof and Floral Trimming Shear with Twin-Blade, 7.5-Inch
Plus we will need one once they kid and are producing milk.  The stanchion will help with  trimming hooves, milking and any health or grooming needs they will have.  We plan on giving our own injections and such.hoof trimmer

The Schooly Part

We are learning a ton, like, goats don’t really eat everything, they are kind of picky actually, and they don’t eat tin cans. 😉  And they are very good at escaping! They will watch and learn how to work gates, so be careful.  They LOVE chicken feed.  However it’s not the best for them and they can get sick from it.  Ours make a mad dash for it when the opportunity presents itself.  They are herd animals, so don’t get just one.  They have flat pupils, which some people think are creepy, but it just gives them really good night vision.  Girl goats have beards and  horns!  Most people have them disbudded and actually shave girls for the fair.  We have joined 4H and our girls will be showing their goats this year at the fair.image

We are all, even the dad, in love with them already and are looking forward to learning more when they are bred, kid and we can milk them. Oh and their names?  Ella and Blossom.  They are twins of course. 😉

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South to San Diego

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one.”- Elbert Hubbard.

girl in hammockThe beginning of August we headed south to visit our daughter and son in law for a few days.  They live about and hour from San Diego, where there is no shortage of things to do.  It was a fairly economical trip since we had a place to stay and were able to eat most meals at their house.  There were so many things to choose from, the Zoo, the Safari Park, Disneyland, Legoland, the beach, Sea World, plus all the historic sites.  It was hard paring the list down to a managable level for 3 days of fun.  Here is what we did-

The ZooZoo sign

Wow!  San Diego has an outstanding zoo.  We’ve been wanting to take the girls for about a year.  You see,  we studied land animals when they were 7th graders and the San Diego zoo was “supposed” to be the grand finale to that year.  Well, here we are in the summer between their 8th and 9th grade years, but we finally made it. It is a LOT of walking, but there are a few options if you have mobility issues.  They have a basket type lift that goes from one end of the zoo to the other that is included in every ticket.  There is also a bus tour that takes you around the zoo for 35-40 minutes of a guided tour.  After you ride the bus you are eligible for the kangaroo bus, which stops at 4 designated stops throughout the zoo.  You can hop on or off at  any stop.  All of these are included in your zoo ticket.  We didn’t see the every inch of the zoo, but a good portion.  We got there at 11 a.m. and left about 5 p.m..  The girls especially wanted to see the baby hippo and the baby giraffe, and the snake house!  I passed on the snake house………  Another fun thing there is the 4D theater.  You could choose from Rio or Ice Age shorts.  We chose to watch Ice Age.  The girls liked everything except whatever was hitting our legs under the seats. 😉  We saw lots of animals and did a lot of walking but the girls loved it!

The Beach

feet in sandOur second day we went to the beach.  We really wanted to go where there were tidepools.  Son in law recommended La Jolla tide pools.  The girls had an absolute blast.  They found crabs and even caught one.  We all picked up shells that had washed ashore.  The memorable moment was when one of them lost her glasses. ocean channel They washed off the bank and after some searching (and praying) we found them behind a rock in a deep channel.  🙂  We were there for 3 hours, just long enough to get sunburned.  Back to daughter’s house where she fixed us dinner.

X2

tiny crabOne more day before we headed home, so it was back to the beach.  More water play, more crabs and more burying each other in the sand.  This time we brought a beach umbrella.  Target had them on sale for $20, but I would have paid a whole lot more.  We went to the same beach as before.  The parking was free and it was a short walk to the beach.  We packed a lunch both days since we spent Way Too Much money on food at the zoo.girls buried in sand

After worship Sunday morning we headed for home.  It was so good to be home in our own beds.

Perfection is Not the Target

perfect signHere is a typical day in our house.  We rise at 6:30 and everyone makes their bed, tidies their room and has some quiet time for personal devotions.  I am up and have breakfast made by 6:45.  We usually eat whole grain cereal or pancakes with fresh fruit and milk from our goats.  Then it’s time for chores and school work.  We can typically finish all our schoolwork by noon.  One of the girls then cooks a nutritious lunch and we have our afternoons for hobbies or field trips.

Ok, maybe this is more like it.  I wake up the girls repeatedly starting at 7:00 a.m.  They stagger out of bed around 7:20.  alarm clockThree days a week they swim with me or they work out while I swim.  Then I push and push and push them to get out of the shower so we can get home and “start our day”.  They are on their own for breakfast, so sometimes it’s chips and salsa, sometimes fruit, sometimes dill pickles or leftovers if we have  eaten out the night before.  Breakfast is accompanied by a book and I begin to push again for them to “finish”.  Animals need fed and or let out and this presents another opportunity to draggggggggg things out.  You guessed it, more pushing.  Are you seeing a pattern?

Finally around 9:30 or 10:00 we have bible study together.  We are working our way through the book of Joshua right now and all three of us are copying the new testament.  bible studyThis is an ongoing project and will take them several years to finish.   After bible study/copying we start in with our subjects.  Twin number one dragggggggggggs everything out and must be pushed to complete her independent work, while twin number two rushes through all her work and is done in no time.  This presents a problem when we have subjects that we do together, as you can imagine.

After all schoolwork is done, most days by 12 or 1ish, we have lunch.  They are mostly on their own again and are happy snacking. Hubby and I have the same thing every day- chicken.  Some days I fix some for the twins, but most days they don’t want chicken.  For years I felt like “I” had to fix all the meals, and many homeschool moms (friends) told me I was crazy!  It’s so freeing, and yes, they still have to be fairly sensible in what they eat.

Quiet please signAfter lunch we sometimes have a quiet time (for mom) and sometimes we have errands to run or school to finish.  Sometimes they have had it with me and just want to spend time reading in their rooms.  That’s ok, sometimes I’ve had it with them too!  Sometimes I send them outside because I know I will have some quiet time.

Eventually we hope to really have goat milk for breakfast, but our goats are only 4 months old right now.  And sometimes we do have pancakes, but that’s only when I am really hungry for them.baby goats

We are probably not what you think of when you think of homeschoolers.  Most of our schoolwork is done in the living room lounging, or at the coffee table.  Rarely do they sit at their desks.  We do a ton of reading and most of it together.  And yes there are many days when the girls are still in pj’s!

If we are presented with an opportunity to really dive into anything that catches our attention, we’ll stop and do just that.  It may be wild turkeys in the front yard, or birds at the feeder or a family favorite, hummingbirds.  Everything comes to a halt if anyone yells “hummingbird!“.  This includes my married children and grandchildren. 😉hummingbird at feeder

We are not into textbooks either and use them very sparingly.  Give us a living book over a textbook any day.  We lean more toward a classical approach, and have studied things like Shakespeare, Latin and  artists and composers of old.  Don’t think this makes us snooty, because we are anything but.

Well, that is a fairly typical day in our homeschool. We aim for a harmonious, productive, filled with learning day, and most days we are at least on the target.  Once in while we even hit a bullseye!bullseye

How about  you?  What does your typical day look like?

Stereo Summer

Today my twin daughters (14) have taken over the camera and the blog to give you a glimpse into what they think homeschooling looks like during our summer.  Enjoy!swimmingThree days a week we swim at the pool (or sometimes work out while mom swims).  Then mom heads for the hot tub.  We are not allowed in the hot tub till we are 16. Drat! Drat! Drat!mom in hot tubOnce we’re home it’s time for breakfast.  Today it was dill pickles and caramel popcorn (healthy) we made ourselves.  We love dill pickles. girl eating dill pickle

girl reading while eating

And whenever mom lets us, we read while we eat.

We have a ton of animals that need fed every morning.  We have 10 chickens, 1 duck, 3 guinea fowl, 2 cats and 1 dog.  We just got 2 goats that are four months old! baby goats and goat houseToday we had to clean out the goat house and put clean straw down for them.  This morning we had to wait for one of our hens to vacate the goat house.  I guess it’s nice and cozy in there.  After breakfast and animals we do bible study together and chores. (Drat on the chores as well)

girl putting clothes in dresser

Tomorrow is Teen Tuesday at the library and they are having a Mario Kart challenge with prizes!  So we need to get in some practice today. mario kartWe can use all the practice we can get, as you can tell by our place badges. girl watching TVOur niece came over so we watched Wild Kratts while we ate lunch.  Then we took her to see the goaties and chickens.  One of her favorite hens pooped on her shirt so mom had to wash it. After our niece left we played on the tire swing, with the goats and more Mario Kart.  Since we are going fishing bright and early, we decided to do some of our tomorrow chores today!

vacuum cleanersweeping

After dinner on Monday’s we have game night with everyone taking a turn to pick what we play.  Tonight was Dad’s turn and he picked chess.playing chess

chess game

We are so excited to go fishing that we’re making breakfast tonight!

baking

That was our day.  Goats are in their house for the night, chickens are put away and we are going to bed early!  Us in bed early? Never happens.

What Does Homeschooling Look Like?

When I was new to homeschooling I was almost obsessive about what other families were doing. Now I hesitate to post ours because I would never want you to feel that this is the way to homeschool. Each family is unique and so should your schedule be.  With that said here’s my schedule for twin daughters that will be Freshman this year…………..

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Bible & copying Bible & Copying Bible & Copying Bible & Copying Bible & Copying
Chores Chores Chores Chores Chores
History History History History Composer
Literature Literature Literature Literature Science Ex.
Science Math Science Math Nature/Art
Shakespeare Nature Poetry Character Timeline

The Three R’s

Readingman-211505__180

This is the subject most new homeschooling moms are nervous about.  Look at it this way.  Up to this point you’ve taught them  everything they know!  And that is no small accomplishment.  They know how to eat, use the bathroom, act in a mannerly way (mostly), dress themselves and how to speak our language.  Pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath.  Reading is like riding a bike.  Your child will catch on when he/she is ready.  I’ve been exposed to a lot of reading curriculum over the years, but my personal favorite is Alpha-Phonics.  It’s simple to use and doesn’t require anything other than time.  All my kids used this program after I found it.  Some went through the entire book and some took off after a few lessons.  Read, read, read to your children and let the process unfold when they are ready. I talked to a Dad today who taught his daughter to read with the comics from the newspaper.  After reading proficiency we have the kids read good literature throughout the school year.  There are many lists online for suggestions according to age.

wRiting

Our family has wandered around the writing aspect of homeschooling.  We have used Easy Grammar,  Easy Grammar Plus, and like them both for teaching basics.  For several years we used a program called Understanding Writing.  It is an awesome curriculum for actual writing projects that are not contrived.  My kids wrote lots of letters and such when we used this program.  It works well for multiple ages too.  If you have kids who love to write I highly recommend Simple Grammar.  It covers the basics and they can write to their little hearts content.  These students don’t need “assignments” to write, because they are writing in their spare time.

aRithmeticdespair-513530__180

My most frustrating subject, bar none!   We have had more struggles with Math than everything else combined.  My oldest was a whiz at math, but it went downhill after that.  We tried Saxon, which I hated (and several of my kids) and for quite a few years used Making Math Meaningful.  I do believe my kids have another name for it.  Are you sensing a pattern?  With one daughter we used the Key To program.  Highly recommend this one, because it covers the basics nicely.  We also used Miquon Math for several years.  It’s a great program to get the concepts down. Fast forward to my youngest two and we found RightStart Math.  Love, love, love this curriculum for younger students.  Once they were in Jr. High not so much.  It was confusing and difficult even for the parents.  This coming year we will be using Life of Fred for the second time.  I personally LOVE this series, but the twins need more reinforcement and seem to get bored with the story and want to just “get to the problems”. We will also be reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy.

All the Rest

Bibleto-write-774648__180

We have bible study every day and are copying the New Testament.  This is not original with me, but I liked the idea.  Three of my older four completed this before they graduated.  Last year I began copying alongside the twins. They should easily finish before the end of their senior year.

Science

We have used the Apologia Series for years and totally loved them till we got to Physical Science.  It was extremely boring for my two, but we were in a co-op situation and the teacher chose to skip most of the experiments.  They enjoyed it and understood it more when I took the time at home to do the experiments with them.  We will be using the Apologia Biology as a textbook this year, but filling in with Biology coloring books by Dover, and autobiographies from the library.  We have also used a science program called “Developing Critical Thinking through Science”.  We loved this one also!  Actually we’ve loved everything we’ve tried through Critical Thinking Press.

Historycolosseum-792202__180

Finally!  My favorite!  I love history and yes I’m the one who has to read all the blurbs at museums, zoos and any rest stop.  Historical markers? Yes! It made the most sense to me to start at the beginning of all history.  So we started in Genesis 1:1 and read till Egypt was mentioned and took a year to study ancient Egypt.  For many years we used Greenleaf Press, in fact we still use them!  They can get a little dry, but overall I highly recommend their curriculum.  This year we will be studying the Renaissance and Reformation. I try hard to connect the dots by including good literature from the time period we are studying.

The Arts

For years we have used Cornerstone Curriculum’s Art and Music program and I plan to continue that this year also.  They do a great job of exposing students to different worldviews.  These are curriculum I have used for more that 10 years.  The titles are “Adventures in Art” and “Music and Moments with the Masters”.  We did invest in the pictures to go with the Art program, but I’ve gotten my moneys worth over so many years. 🙂 We’ve also used and loved two books called Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers and The Gift of Music.  william-shakespeare-62936__180My two youngest love Shakespeare and I will continue to feed that this coming year.  We started with Tales from Shakespeare and The Children’s Shakespeare and this year we will be listening to several plays in audio format.

Being partial to a semi classical approach has colored my choices as have the works of Charlotte Mason.  My most used resource when planning each school year is Amblesideonline.org .  There is a wealth of information here and my starting point for creating a schedule.  I don’t follow it exactly, but do use it as a springboard for direction.  You’ll notice I left out a couple of things, like Poetry and Nature.  For those I will use notebooks and sketchbooks.  We will be creating our own books. We will probably use Ambleside for poet suggestions, and poetry books I have on hand.  Don’t be intimidated by mine or anyone else’s schedule.  Remember this is a result of homeschooling for over 25 years.  And it may change next year! Relax, enjoy your children and this journey called homeschooling.