Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May :: A Month in Review :: Large Family Style

Aargh!  It's already time for a May month in review.  Finishing off the school year strong was my top priority along with preparing for Nick's graduation party along with getting the garden planted along with, along with.  Doesn't it seem like there are so many along withs?  Most days my head is just spinning with all the to do right nows.  My notebook system to do list wasn't working - the notebook was always getting buried in the paper mess that is my life and the to do list became a never do list.  I needed something more in my face than a notebook so I bought a magnetic white board for the fridge door similar to this:

And it's always in my face because #1 I like to eat and #2 My family likes to eat so I'm always reading the list and working at shrinking it.  It's been a good thing and I still use the notebook for shopping lists and menus.

In my April month in review I shared a picture from Nick's turkey season.  He's a huge protein nut and cooks plenty of his own food.  Well, the day he shot the turkey I was with Amber at the hospital while she recovered from her appendectomy.  He breasted out the turkey and baked it just as he would for chicken breast.  It was so tough, basically inedible for those of us with average jaw strength.  Hah!  I suggested he turn it into crockpot turkey and rice soup.  I walked him through the process, but he did all the work of chopping vegetables, etc.  The turkey tenderized pretty well in the crockpot and the soup was delicious.

The season changeover called for a great big shoe cabinet clean out.  With a family of 9 we have a ton of shoes, not because we believe in excess, but we all have a number of interests and many of those interests call for certain shoes.  And country life requires a good stash of junk shoes so we tend to keep shoes for gardening, lawn mowing, cranberry planting, and all sorts of outdoor activities until they fall apart.  I know, that's very green of us.  Below you can see what we took from the cabinet; we sent seven pair off to Goodwill, 10 pair went into the trash, and the rest were placed neatly back in the cabinet.

Maria and I baked a giant 2.5 pound of whole wheat bread in a very old pan found in my Grandma's basement.  I wish I knew the story of the pan - where she got it, if she used it, why it was in the basement and not in her kitchen cupboard.  I suppose I'll never know; even though, using it still brings out stories.  Stories I share with my littles who never knew their Great-Grandma.

Mother's Day flowers - we spied three huge Bumblebees pollinating this day.

One of Joseph's favorite games is jumping on the trampoline with toys.  This day he grabbed his horse, but he's also jumped with balls and sand pile trucks (that one I put a stop to, I don't want him to fall on a metal truck - that'd probably hurt).

Amber loves finding paintings on Pinterest for inspiration and painting them with her own style.  She uses this fold-able easel and a variety of supplies to create some really fun paintings.

It is rhubarb season; I've been baking with rhubarb and juicing it.  This weekend I put up 15 quarts of rhubarb juice.  I'll share a post on how I do that soon.  This little number, though, is so good.  I doubled the recipe and reduced the sugar.  That way there was enough to go around and it still tasted like rhubarb should - sour and puckery.

The virtual homeschool program end of year field trip took us to Circus World Museum.  See Maria clinging to Dad; she was nearly scared to death of all the newness.  She warmed up a bit for a carousel ride.

107 year old carousel

Circus snacks:  popcorn and ice cream

 Apparently we raised a little lady.

Fishing....always fishing around here and an endless supply of cheesy smiles.

He's not riding yet.  Matter of fact, a couple weeks back he actually punched me when I lifted his foot onto the pedal.  I'll give it some time before I try again.  Until then, though, he walks the bike around the yard every chance he gets.  And in the background was my Memorial Day treat, a tilled garden ready to plant.
That's a wrap for May.  Another blink of an eye and it'll be the end of June; all our much anticipated events of early summer will be over.  Enjoy every day, each is indeed a gift from God.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What We're Reading Now

It's no surprise that as homeschoolers books often take center stage.  We use tons of books for school - textbooks, atlases, living books, classic literature, biographies - and so many more.

I love reading about what others are reading.  I get so many good ideas for future reading, so I thought I would share our most recent book picks.  Maybe you'll find something new for your summer reading.

Amber is always reading something.  This year I've been assigning historical fiction as part of her history/literature studies, but after fifteen or so historical fiction novels she was ready for something totally different.  These Word Cloud Classics are beautiful books with faux leather softcovers embossed with book quotes.  They are sized nicely for travel, too, easily fitting into a purse.  Of the three or four we own, Amber chose Peter Pan for her last assigned reading of the school year.

These books are so lovely and would make great gifts for young people who enjoy classic literature.

She also reads for fun.  She enjoyed this book and grabbed another of the author's books at our next library visit.  

Now Sam is not a strong reader.  He does not read for fun; he reads because I make him.  He reads because I read to him.  The Incredible Journey Books are meant for ages 7-11.  Sam's 12.  He finds these books very easy reading, but still enjoys the stories.  I chose this series to correlate with his Geography studies.  Each book takes the reader to a new destination:  Caymen Islands, Mexico, African Desert, and more.  Sam labeled a world map as he read these books - a great addition to his formal Geography studies.

He also reads and rereads his PULL magazines.  His current high speed sport of choice is BMX racing.

Joseph is making noticeable progress in his reading this year.  We've been especially good with daily reading lessons which is making a huge difference.  He's still working through All About Reading Level 1.  I've been bribing him with chocolate to read using the notecard method described in this post.  He's also become very adept at reading Margaret Hillert's Beginning to Read books.  He's having an easy time picking up the dolch sight words since he's so visual in his learning.  His absolute favorite is Not I, Not I.

I should really do a video of him reading the book.  He's just so sweet (when he wants to be).

There's so much noise around this place that a few months ago I started reading to the little kids on my bed.  They love being able to cuddle up in mom and dad's bed, especially if good books are involved.  Our latest chapter books were Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan and Sam the Man and the Rutabaga Plan.  Peter and Maria absolutely adored these books.  Multiple times a day they asked for me to read more.


If you have a budding backyard farmer they are sure to love these stories.  They made for great read alouds, too.

I enjoy a good memoir and Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place did not disappoint.  It was a quick and enjoyable read.  Laugh out loud moments interspersed with head nodding interspersed with a few tears.  The general story:  a woman with breast cancer who adores her father, who also gets cancer, bares her soul.  Other than being a woman, wife, and mother our lives are not parallel, but the story is still very relatable.  

I added her other two books to my summer reading list.  


So that's what we're reading now or at least within the last few weeks.  

Have you read any books lately that are must reads?  I'd love to know because my "Read Next" list isn't nearly long enough.  Hah!

*This post contains affiliate links.