Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I say "poe tay toe", You say "poe tah toe" . . .

For the past few weeks, we have been watching the trucks full of potatoes zooming past our home on their way to the sorting cellars and beyond.  Soon enough, the field right outside our front door was busy with the bustling, booming sounds of potato harvest.  Once we saw past the clouds of dust, and thankful for the wisdom of the previous owners to plant trees all around the house to keep the dust off, it was fun and intriguing to watch the process take place.

We were lucky enough to glean after the harvest, with permission of the owner, of course. ( We want to maintain a good, healthy relationship with all our new "neighbors".)  Between all 6 of us and about 3 hours of work, we were able to glean about 60 gallons of the russets to share with friends and family and give us a good supply for winter.

The kids had a great time and they worked really hard.  It is always a sign of hard work when you start taking off your jackets and hats in 55 degree weather.  It was rewarding for them to get to deliver it to Dad's work for some very happy and appreciative co-workers. 

This is one of the many stamps
from around the world showcasing potatoes.
This one is specifically for Uncle Devin!
I decided it was a good time to get to know a bit more about our state's famous crop.  So, we visited the Potato Museum in a neighboring town.  It was very interesting and informative.  We all learned so much about the potato, it's history, growth, and uses.  The kids all laughed when we read that originally it was popular in Europe and England for it's blossoms and not the potato itself.  Marie Antoinetter even reportedly wore the potato blossom is her hair. Darling Helper really like that she now knows that french fries are truly french, made originally made by french chefs and possibly first introduced to America via Thomas Jefferson.  Peaches liked the models of the horse pulled carts carrying potatoes.  Bubba liked the tractors and implements.  Dreamer liked all the different varieties of potato mashers.

Hundreds of different potato mashers!

It was also interesting to find out that even though our state, today, produces one-third of the potatoes in the USA, potatoes were originally from South America, more specifically Peru in the Andes mountains.  The museum was self lead, simple, but very informative and worth the short drive there.  I think we all came away from it more appreciative of the spuds. Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Home, Home on the Range . . .

. . .where the bunnies and coyotes play.

Yes, we have bunnies which I think in turn means that with them comes coyotes.  We have listened to their sullen tunes almost every night since we have been in our new home.  Since it has gotten a bit colder, it has been less and less, but instead of being fearful or negative about them, I actually find myself grateful because their presence has a lot of meaning; rural, nature, life, adventure.

So we are finally in our new home.  The kids refer to it as our farm, and even though it is lacking in many of the things that would define it as such, that is what we dream for it and so that is what it will be referred to as.   We have been doing some remodeling and updating immediately and so things have been a bit messy and chaotic.  Each I find myself consumed by the mess, I step outside into our beautiful yard and listen to the leaves rustle on the trees.  This afternoon, I sat by a window a bit longer just to listen to the birds outside.  It was wonderful!!  We are all so excited for our future here and for the potential and work that is ahead.  The kids have all made their own plans and it is fun to listen to their thoughts and ideas.

I will share a lot of before and after pictures of our remodeling when it is done and we are back to a slight routine.  Needless to say summer break had to be extended and fall break started early, but hopefully we will soon be back to "normal".  Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Homeless . . . at Grandma & Grandpa's . . .

We spent a few days of our "homeless" two weeks at Grandma and Grandpa's farm.  We all love spending time there, especially the kiddos.  The first evening there, we went to tell Great Grandpa happy birthday.  He celebrated his 94th birthday with some of his family and beautiful bride, our Granny ( 89 years young herself), by his side.  It was great to be there and the kids loved seeing them and trying to understand how old 94 really is.  It was sweet to see him sitting side-by-side with Granny holding hands and giving support to one another.

The next day, we spent an entire day outside in the sun.  It was a beautiful day and Grandma and Grandpa have a beautiful yard to enjoy it in.  The kiddos had a great time looking at all the flowers, bugs, birds, clouds, etc.  They each took a turn describing to me what the saw and heard.  Dreamer asked if she could draw a picture of what she saw and that instantly got all the kids excited to do the same.  It was a great afternoon.

 They each spent time with some of the animals on the farm also.  Bubba has quite a relationship with Lady, Grandpa's dog.  He is always so excited to see her when we get there and they spend a lot of time together in the yard playing and exploring.  Lady had been digging and got her paws all dirty.  Bubba was quite concerned about this and after a very sincere, " Ah, Laney (this is how he says it, can't convince him otherwise) look what you did to yourself!" He went about cleaning her paws.  It was a very sweet moment.

While saying hello to the cats at the farm yard, the kids helped Grandma with some doctoring of one of the horses.  It had somehow got a cut around it's eye and needed some antibiotic and eye drops, so they thought it was great to watch Grandma be a "horse doctor".

We were able to help get their garden harvested and cleaned out.  The kiddos liked digging the potatoes and finding the spuds in the dirt.  They would get excited for each dig, not knowing just how many potatoes would be found and racing to collect them. It was a hard working, enjoyable time.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Big Changes . . .

Well, after a very rocky start to our summer, we had settled in to the fact that we needed to enjoy the rest of the season and start life again.  We "moved" back into our home ( ok, so I just had to unpack the boxes ), and took some little weekend vacations.  I was settling into a nice routine and plan of what our August would turn out and then . . . things changed.  

My house is half empty and the other half is half full of boxes.  For the second time in 10 weeks, we sold our house.  This time around, things have gone swimmingly; inspection passed and DONE, appraisal DONE, and being able to receive updates from a neighbor, who just happens to be our buyers loan officer, we are confident that a closing will take place Friday morning.   So what does this mean for us?

Well, for the present it means packing, moving, cleaning, waiting.   We have to move out of our current home by Friday, but things for our "new" home won't be complete for another two weeks.  So, I have gratitude in the fact that the in-laws have room enough to store our belongings and that my parents live a reasonable distance away and have plenty of room for our family.

Things have worked out so surprising and well that it would be foolish of me to not recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives.  So, over the next few weeks, we will be in a state of transit and change.  The timing has thrown a bit of a kink in our plans to start formal learning after Labor day, but we will get by.

I have been horrible at writing and keeping updated, but I am hoping that a month from now, we will be one giant step closer to our hopes and dreams for our family.  I did want to share that throughout the last three months, I have experienced a myriad of emotions from happiness, doubt, sadness, frustration, uneasiness, and now peace.  I have been humbled and reminded through scripture reading that it is the Lord's plan that brings us happiness in this life and that we must include Him always in our lives and ask what He would have us do; where He would have us go.  I was especially inspired by some of the articles in the June and July Ensign ( this is a magazine published by our church).  Once we turned it over to the Lord, everything made sense.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Happiness Happens Month"

Do you know that August is "Happiness Happens Month"?  I didn't.  I am glad I know now and that I have been inspired and enlightened by the tale that explains it.  Follow the link below and read the story of "The 9 Nanas".  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Very Insightful . . .

I just wanted to share an amazing post from Julia at Classroom Free.  It is well worth the read . . .


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting back . . . to Nature

Monday was very hot and the weather for the whole week seemed stifling, but I decided that if we didn't get out into the fresh air, it may not happen.  As soon as I could get all the kiddos ready, we set out for the mountains.  It was later than I wanted in the day, so I chose a short and mostly shaded hike that we had been on a couple of years ago.  The littles wanted to lead out, so we started on the least shady side of the trail.  

Immediately we were happy to see that everything was still green.  It has been such a dry spring and summer, but the shade of the forest kept the grass and flowers green and blooming.  All of us has noticed an increase in butterflies and moths flying about and there was no shortage on this hike.  Bubba found a butterfly hiding below that grass as we walked by.

Flowers in the sun had long dried up as were berries, but we found some hanging on.  We made it to the half way point that gives us a beautiful view of the valley that we live in.  We all rested in the shade and drank some water before moving on.

The last half of the hike was in the shade.  It was nice to enjoy the coolness and be outside.  The kids did a great job of quietly observing.  We were able to watch squirrels and birds.  We watched a woodpecker scurry around a tree pecking at bugs.  We had a great time. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Nature all Around . . .

A few weeks ago, Dreamer came home from a family outing with a fuzzy caterpillar.  The area that we visited had a lot of butterflies and moths constantly flying around us, so we were all curious to find out if this caterpillar would turn into a moth or caterpillar.  

 Fuzzy Wuzzy

Once at home, we got out our butterfly enclosure and Dreamer set to work on a nice habitat for the caterpillar.  She incorporated dirt, twigs and fresh leaves.  She first gave it leaves from a poplar tree and he quickly went to town.  ( I saw he, but we really don't know if it is male or female, how can we tell?)  . . . Anyway, after about of week of providing fresh leaves and them being devoured quickly, there were a couple of days of not a lot of eating and then the caterpillar found a comfortable spot at the top of the habitat and began spinning a fuzzy, web-like cocoon. 

 The caterpillar was completely enclosed on the 13th and nothing has changed.  We are excited to see what happens, and hope that something will.

~ ~ ~

A week ago, Darling Helper found a salamander, or newt, in the widow well at a cousins house.  The next day, Dreamer found one also and so we came home from our trip with two amphibian stow-aways.       Dreamers salamander didn't seem interested in eating anything and lasted only about a week, but Darling Helper's slimy lizard has a voracious appetite.  When we got home, she made it a larger, comfortable habitat and after getting some worms to feed to him, she has been excited watch it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Salty and Sweet . . .

As we drove home from a family members house yesterday, we passed a field of freshly cut hay.  It had rained early in the day and the aroma of the rain mixed with the hay drifted into our open car windows.  I took a deep sniff and then encouraged the kiddos to do the same and asked them what they thought.

"Isn't it great!"  I said.

"It's good," (insert sniff here), "and weird.  Good and weird." Darling Helper exclaimed.
"Kind of like salty and sweet.  I like it!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Still Here . . . What we've been doing

We are still here.  Here is a little of what we have been doing the last month . . .

Lots of reading . . . 

Packing . . .

Unpacking . . . with none of this . . .

in between.  Frustrating, yes!  But, we go on.

I am hoping to get some posts in soon.  Hoping.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Artsy" Birthday . . .

We celebrated 11 years of Dreamer's life this week.  She is our artist in residence, so of course the whole of the celebrations were art related.  It was her year for a friend party and she knew right away what she wanted to do; sand art. 

I looked for pre-done kits, but could not find exactly what she wanted, so we mixed a few kits from the dollar store, extra sand and glass bottles with corks from the local crafting store.  It was interesting to see all the different patterns and techniques used by each of the kids.  Her friends kept to her passion by giving her art supplies as gifts.  

She requested German pancakes with strawberries and cream for breakfast.  We had a great family dinner and party for her also and she was pretty excited about her gifts, especially art lessons once a week  from her very talented Grandma.  

Pizza, games, gifts, cone cakes . . . it was a great day!  The whole day was ended with the traditional pinata.

                Happy Birthday!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Adding Living Books . . . A New Find

I just finished reading the book The Hiding Place written by Corrie Ten Boom.  I feel like it is difficult to find the right words to describe this book.  It is absolutely a "living book".  

The biography of a woman from the Netherlands, that lived through World War II, and the experiences she and her family had during that time.  I learned so much from this book.  Beyond the historical information, I was amazed at the strength the individuals had for love and compassion, not only for their friends, family, and countrymen, but for their enemies and persecutors.  I also learned a lot about being a parent.  This book will be added to our list of Must Reads for our historical studies of the time during World War II.  I strongly recommend that all read this book.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lessons Learned at a Homeschool Conference

I just spent two wonderful days at the CHOIS Homeschool Convention.  The messages that I heard there were inspiring, educational, invigorating, informative, and spiritual.  While I very much enjoyed all the presenters and speakers in the workshops, I especially enjoyed being taught by Micheal Farris, Esq.  He is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association ( HSLDA ), husband and homeschooling father of 10 children, founding president of Patrick Henry College, author and more.  He is a very informative and straightforward speaker.

I loved hearing about real life homeschooling challenges and successes from all the veterans we heard from.  Here are just some of the thoughts the presenters shared that stood out to me:

  • Write a special life prayer for your children.  I see this as a mission statement for my children.
  • Pray for your kids and let them hear you pray for them.
  • Academics are not the most important thing to teach.  Help them master math and english, but have a broad exposure of everything else.
  • Teaching your kids about God is the foundation, teaching them to believe in God is the ultimate goal.
Michael Farris, Esq. ~  The Spiritual Power of a Mother

  • Don't create an unrealistic atmosphere if your going to have a large family
  • Use paper plates, it's ok.  LOVED THIS! He also said, make sure you can afford it.
  • Protect your family from those things that will steal your time.
  • Children don't need fancy curriculum as much as they need a sane mom.  She needs a place of peace that she can retreat to.  The husband needs to make sure that mom gets the retreat.  
  • The goal is to raise good parents.  You model good families; Goal is to raise good, strong families, not good children.  ( I liked this, I don't want to raise good children, I want them to be good parents and adults, not good children )
  • Have a marriage central household.
  • Schedule times to strengthen your marriage.  If it is not on the schedule, then it is not a priority.  Make it a priority.
Michael Farris, Esq.  ~  Homeschooling Large Families

  • The marriage relationship is preeminent and forms the foundation of the home.
  • Ephesians 5:22 - 28
  • The quality of marriage ultimately depends on the husband. 
Joe and Zan Tyler ~  Lessons in Real Life

  • Knowing about child development is important so we can gain understanding in what is appropriate for our children's learning needs and not expect more or less than they are capable.
  • Development occurs across four strands: Physical, Cognitive (brain development), Social-Emotional, Spiritual
Connie Riser ~  Child Development-The Natural Stages of Learning

I hope this piqued your interest as much as it did mine.  If you have any questions or want more in depth information on something, let me know.  I will end with some of the books that were suggested reading by the presenters and ones that I am definitely going to get my hands on. Enjoy!

Blooms Taxonomy

Monday, June 4, 2012

A First . . .

We've had a first at Our Home's School . . . a broken bone.  Our oldest, Darling Helper is 12.  We have three more kiddos ages 10, 6, and 4.  No broken bones, no major health issues of the sort.  Not until today.  

"A clean break", is what that doctor said.  It looks bad in this picture, but I think it looked worse.  She did a great job.  Setting the finger into the splint was painful for her, but she just gritted her teeth and didn't cry; brave girl.

So, on the way home, we stopped for a shake and I think she is feeling better.  The doctor asked her what she liked to do.  Piano, no piano now for about 4 weeks, Violin, nope, not for about 4 weeks, riding her bike ( ya, that's what got her here, bike crash), and Legos, this should be an interesting month. 

. . . as a side note, a couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with Peaches while she was in the bath.  She commented that fingers were very important and then said, " Life would be pretty hard without them."  Hmmmm . . . I guess now we have a guinea pig to test that theory.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Weekend . . . To Remember . . .Maybe

For the last two years, we have planned to camp over Memorial Day weekend.  For those of you familiar with Idaho, this may seem a foolish thought, but never-the-less, we have prepared, traveled, and attempted.  So far, we are 0 for 2.  

Last year, we packed up early for low temperatures and snow.  This year, it was a mixture of rain, rain, rain and oh yes, rain.  It all began lovely.  The temperatures were inviting and we were able to set-up camp in a timely manner to enjoy hot dogs over the fire, followed by popcorn and treats.  We called it a night at dark after some fire side chatting and a bit of exploration by the littles.

Saturday morning began early.  The Mighty Dad set out to help some of our family with some improvements on the area (this is family land and we love having the blessing of enjoying it) and it started to rain at about 8 am.  Sprinkles and mist, at first, then quickly followed by a steady downpour.  The workers persisted and decided to stop at about 11:30.  So we retreated to the trailer, the kiddos had been there for a while already, and had some lunch, a bit of a rest, and played some games; waiting for the clear weather the "weather man" predicted.

We finally had a break at about 4:30 pm.  We quickly got out to the sun and tried to enjoy it . . . not knowing when it would end.  The kiddos explored and explored, we did a little skeet shooting, four-wheeler riding, and had some dinner.  We finally sat down to enjoy the sun and it began to get dark and cloudy.  We gathered under the canopy just in time to avoid a 20 minute hail storm, followed by a 30 minute rain and then a clear, blue sky.  

This lasted long enough for smores on the fire and then back to rain.  By this time it was about 9 pm and we were all so tired of the rain and tired from the work, so we went to bed.  At about 2 am, Darling Helper and Peaches became sick to their stomachs.  So for the next few hours of in and out sleep, throwing up, and cleaning up, the rain remained steady, like a bit of rhythmic music for our nights escapades.  

At about 9 am, we all drowsily woke to the pitter-patter that we had hoped would subside; not so.  So, unanimously, we decided to pack it up and head home.  All night we worried about the affect the rain was having on the dirt roads that led us back to civilization.   So, we threw the kids in the truck, broke camp and threw everything in the trailer and headed home.  We made it out amid mud puddles grasping at every surface.  So, another failure with camping over Memorial day.  I don't like to fail . . .

. . . but did we?  A lot of fun was had, yummy food was eaten, time was spent with family, and even in the rain, we loved every minute of it.  Looking forward to next year!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Homeschool Convention . . .

Hey Idahoans!!
(and anyone else)

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State Homeschool Convention
~~  Walking in Joy  ~~

This is coming up this weekend June 1st & 2nd.  I have my registration done, hotel reserved, and plans made to attend.  Are any of you going to be there?  It is my first time attending this particular convention, so I am looking forward to each speaker and workshop.  I am especially excited to hear from one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Mike Farris. I have followed some of his work and read some things by him and am very impressed.  You can read a bit more about him and the other speakers here.

See you there, Enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Interruptions . . .

It seems to inevitably happen no matter what we do to foresee or prevent it.  Little disruptions here and there to our perfect routine and schedule.  This never happens to any of your home educating families, I am sure.  But what do I do when this happens? In the past it was a myriad of different things; dropping everything, trying to still fit it all in, pulling my hair out, ignoring it all and hiding in the pages of my most recent book, calling it a day and putting on a movie.  One really has to go through it all to find what works for you.  

Most recently, I have found that for us the best course of action is one of two things; a complete rearranging of the day or picking and choosing.  By picking a choosing, I mean that I might take out some of the tasks or things to do that can just wait.  Sometimes it is a chore, sometimes a particular subject, sometimes I get rid of all of it and we just read and read and read.  Interestingly enough, it seems to be that those are the days that the kiddos sit and just want to be read to.  I might throw in a board game or two and I have seen that if this happens every once in a while, the other days move along smoothly.

We have received an offer on our home and so in a few weeks will be in a transitional phase.  There will need to be a lot of flexibility with everyone and so I am sure that a lot of these tactics will be utilized.  What do you do with a day like this?


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eclipse . . .

I know that everyone and their dog blog are going to do a post about the eclipse, but I wanted to share our bit.  We got out early to enjoy the entire event.  We made a shrewd pinhole camera and it worked well, but watching a reflected version is just not the same, so we took turns with a welding helmet. 

The kids were amazed at how quickly it all happened.  We also did some reading and explaining about the whole event during the changes.  It was a fun evening.  At the very end, as the clouds were moving in, I was able to get a good picture of the eclipse.  Hope you all enjoyed it from your different parts of the world.  Enjoy!  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Music to My Ears . . .

*** Before watching the videos in this post, you will want to scroll down to the bottom of the blog and pause or mute the music player***

Our two oldest, darling daughters, have been part of a wonderful Children's Chorus the last year and a half.  They practice, during the school semesters, once a week for an hour and a half.  They perform a few times at schools and nursing homes and also have a final concert each semester.  For their Spring concert, they sang a lot of beautiful and fun songs.  Below is a sampling of some of their songs:

During their concert, they were able to do a duet as a special number.

 My camera ran out of space before they were finished, so I recorded them at home, hopefully it turned out alright.  I know Grandparents would like to see it.

Finally, their choir participated in a multi-choir festival and was able to perform some of their songs there. This video is the song the kids most enjoyed doing, Don Gato.  

They also got to spend the day with their cousin and perform with her in the mass choir. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More La'Mour Wisdom . . .

"It is constantly reiterated that education begins in the home, as indeed it does, but what is often forgotten is that morality begins in the home also."   

Louis La'Mour, Education of a Wandering Man, pg. 4

~ ~ ~

I know that the vast majority of questions that we as home educating families get are first, about socialization and then normally about the curriculum.  I wonder, has anyone asked you about the type of moral education you give your children?  I have never been asked.  I believe that most people, if they did wonder, see this a taboo topic.  Is this a religious question?  I don't think so.  

Morality is defined as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad behavior.  This is not necessarily a religious term, although I believe a lot of people think it is.  Do you have to be a religious person to not harm another human?  No, you just need to have a general respect for all other people.  Respect is not solely a religious term either.  I think that as a whole, religious peoples tend to strive for a moral code.  I know that if you were to ask us what we deem as important topics for our kiddos to learn, we would probably say that first a love of God and our fellow people, respect and kindness towards one another and everyone, an inner drive to improve and expand oneself, the list could go on.

For us, one of the reasons for home educating is the apparent lack of moral conduct in the public school system.  I say this with regard to the student peers as well as the adults.  It is completely within the rights of a kindergarten teacher to be of the opinion that alcohol and occasional drug use is alright? Sure, but should she morally share this with her 5 and 6 year old students?  Absolutely not.

As far as moral lessons in the home, Mr. La'Mour gave a perfect example of this in his book.  He tells of a parent that has been pulled over for speeding.  The parent knows he was speeding, but as the officer speaks to him about it, the parent becomes defensive and in fact tries to convince the officer he was not speeding.  So, as the children sit in the back seat, they witness their parent first breaking the law and second not admitting to it.

As parents, we are the FIRST and GREATEST example to our children of moral and educational behaviors. Charlotte Mason, a great educator of her time, expresses many times in her book, Home Education, that parents must first be the example in all we want our children to excel and improve in. Do we want our children to be tidy?  Then we must be tidy.  Do we want our children to love reading?  Then we must show them our love of reading.  Do we want our children to be respectful and congenial to others?  Then we must be respectful and congenial.  This is true whether your children are home educated or attend public or private school.  

Wow, I didn't mean to get into this topic quite this far, but as I kept typing, I kept thinking and hopefully this opens a bit of thought in each of you.  Enjoy!