Saturday, December 14, 2013

{Book Review} Antiques Chop by Barbara Allen

Antiques Chop (A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery, #7)Antiques Chop by Barbara Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series cracks me up. Although a lot of people get offended because the authors poke fun at mental illness, I (coming from a family with bi-polar and members on anti depressants) can say that sometimes we do make fun of ourselves and each other. Is it right? Probably not, but let's face it, the world isn't right and some families deal with stuff this way. If you are overly sensitive to this type of thing, stay away from this series.

All that aside, I found this book a wonderfully quick (two day) read. The writing, as always, flows very well and makes it hard to put down. Of course, I rarely come across a cozy I don't like! All in all, a good series and book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 21, 2013

COSI Field Trip

We are visiting family in Ohio for Thanksgiving. We came up a little early, since everyone is still in school (so are we), we decided to take a field trip today to the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus - AKA COSI. This is a perfect field trip for us because science is Zach's favorite and spending hours upon hours doing nothing but science stuff makes not only a great school day but a fantastic family day!

And Oh My Goodness what a fun day it was! Yes, many pictures are coming your way! I linked their page above, so you can get some idea of what we were heading into today. Ocean and Life and Space oh my! Bonus, we finally got our hands on a Newton's Cradle too! Do you know how hard it's been to find one of those? Holy Cow!

So much to do the boys had to make a plan!
Our first stop (and third stop too!)

Inside part of the ocean lab. 

Using a pulley system to lift himself up

Inside a submarine mock up

These last three were a step into social studies. It was called Progress and it went from Colonial Times to the 1960's. It was extremely cool!

All in all a really great day!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Unit Studies

We have mostly drifted away from our regular curriculum and now are doing unit studies. At least for the time being - everything is subject to change around this house!

Math is still Teaching Textbooks. Although it's starting to annoy Zach (he hates the reviewing stuff in every lesson), I told him when he can get 100 every time on every single thing he's reviewing I'll switch his math. Yep - holding on to TT still. Also, unless we are doing a science unit, we work out of our science every day.

We worked on a Veterans Day unit study. It took us until just past Veterans Day, but that's ok. I got it from Amanda Bennett many many moons ago. With our limited library (and short notice) I did have some trouble finding books about the people in the unit, but we managed to substitute some other interesting Veterans in their place. When all was said and done he decided he liked learning about Theodore Roosevelt and Arlington the best. And even though it's been discussed plenty before - he didn't realize how many people in our family are Vets. This picture was taken about 5 years ago on the day I retired.

The whole back row are Vets
Shannon (SIL - USAF), my Dad (USN Ret), Me (USAF Ret), My husband (USAF Ret). and Scott (BIL - USAF)

Lots of Vets, lots of people to ask questions to (and about). For some reason this raised the cool factor for my son about 1000%! And yes, that's him in the red shirt :)

So, we have a few days before Thanksgiving. Not enough for a four week Amanda Bennett study, but plenty of time for a two week In the Hands of A Child "Pilgrims" unit. Yes, I also bought a ton of these many many moons ago. I even have some about Colonial Times, The American Revolution, and the history of Native Americans. All subjects we would have covered this year. *sigh* I'm glad we can do it this way instead.

I'm sure there are a lot of places to get unit studies. Plus you can always make your own! But like I said, I got mine from Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett (Christian based - I usually leave out the Bible stuff) and In the Hands of a Child (these are more lapbooks, but they do have options for notebooking too!). My son usually hates lapbooks, but you know, I'm making him do it this time. Mean mom {smile}!

As we get more comfortable with this way of learning I see us making up units on anything that strikes the fancy of us crazy homeschoolers!

Friday, November 1, 2013

All is Well

We have been doing school - I swear! I'm just being uber-lame about my blogs these days. I guess because we aren't doing super fantastic wonderful things I figure "why write about it?". But I'm going to anyway :)

We've made our way through Early Explorers and are now working on Colonial Times and the beginnings of the American Revolution. Zach's math is getting more complicated, so I've been reading up on some of that so I can help when there are questions (and there are always questions!). But I've been losing him. So I decided to write my own unit study.

Was it about the American Revolution? The Incan Empire? Taking a trip on the Mayflower? Nope - it wasn't about any of those things at all. When the eyes glaze over you know it's time to do something else - so I chose one of his favorite interests - Pokemon!

I took about a week and made up some math, science, geography, and history questions all related to Pokemon. We learned how to make excel spreadsheets, work percentages, and even touched briefly on Hiroshima. There was not one day (seriously) that this boy was not ready (and willing) to do school work. It was such a pleasant change from fighting him every day.

Honestly, I wish I knew how to do a unit study for everything. He really enjoys them much more because it's something that he really wants to learn about. But I feel that somehow, 7th grade might be too old to learn that way. I'm probably wrong (I usually am about such things). So, we will continue to plug along as is until I can figure out some way to make it more interesting and exciting for him.

I don't want him to hate school - I want the boy back that was eager to do school every day. Now I have to reconcile that with the way I think it should be done.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

{Whatcha Doin'}

I know, after a month and a half you'd think I'm going to jam pack this post with all kinds of excitement and goodies. You are, aren't you? Um, ya - sorry about that.

What have we been up to? Well, school (of course), and baking, and learning how to make homemade things like stock and applesauce. Which is a lot of fun, but really makes me want to get a canner. Or at least a rack for my big ol' pot so I can do water bath canning on some stuff. Then I could save my pennies for a pressure canner. 

I've learned how to make homemade rice a roni too. Yep, because we are rice a roni freaks in this house! And I'm going to be honest, I didn't think it would make that much a difference in taste. Goodness I was wrong! I am going to make up a whole slew of them and keep them in my cabinet to use whenever. I don't mind making it as needed - but having the convenient, all ready made up ones would suit me so much better (and keep me from getting lazy and buying the nasty boxes again!).

Other than the common, every day things not much going on here at all. So, I'll share some pictures of what we've been doing with ourselves.

 Saving the best candy for us before the trick or treaters arrived
playing video games because we only had like 10 trick or treaters
(maybe they knew I took out all the good candy?)

 Beating a car at CatFest. 
He chose this one - no I don't know why.

 Buying Christmas presents!

 Doing advancements for Cub Scouts
Putting them together 
having them ready to go

 Being goofy

 Taking pictures of stick figure families
and bumper stickers that made me smile 

 Pig races at the county fair

 making candles and soap for a school project

And there you go! What we've been up to since September! In case I don't make it back here in November have a great one y'all!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

{Making Soap}

Today I'm linking up with the Hip Homeschool Hop.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

This week we tried our hand at making soap. I've been wanting to try making soap for a while, but while reading our latest book about Ben Franklin they have soap and candle making activities. Doing a "requirement" for school is definitely a reason to make it happen! We are going to tackle candle making later this week - but for now it's soap making.

I know young Ben didn't make soap with a melt and pour goats milk base, and I know they didn't add color (or probably fragrance), but that's how we did ours. Bonus points - I'm counting it as this week's art project too. Little man did all the coloring and swirling so he gets credit for that.

He really did all of it - I just supervised and gave him direction. That's the good thing about melt and pour instead of cold process - no lye. Poor young Ben, what a nasty job that must have been!

Putting colors in the molds

He made them very colorful

All poured and setting up


It was fun and my hates-to-take-a-shower tween boy is so excited to try them out!

Monday, September 16, 2013

{Baking Binge}

Yes, I've been on a baking binge lately. It's kind of in line with my (trying) to go crunchy theme, but it does hinge more on I'm sick of paying $3 for a loaf of bread. Ugh. You can call it frugal or cheap, but you have to call it delicious!

Last week I tried my hand at dinner rolls and hamburger buns. They were the exact same recipe, just divided and shaped differently. They came out so good. I didn't take pictures of those, but trust me they were good!

So this week I decided to try my hand at a few things.

First - pumpkin spice creamer. No, this isn't baking but it did lead to baking so I'm counting it! My niece gave me the idea and I followed the recipe found on Mrs. Happy Homemaker. For the base I used the sweetened condensed milk and (organic) half and half. It tastes so good. But you must remember to shake it every time you use it. My husband also suggests stirring your coffee a lot because it does settle. I say it's super good and much more frugal than a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice. Not that I'm giving those up entirely, but hey - I get to drink a lot more this way! All this to say, I ended up with an almost full can of pumpkin puree, which led to:

Yep, pumpkin bread. And muffins. Because I made four mini-ish loaves and had batter left over. Erik says they are good. Here's another secret - this is the first time I've made pumpkin bread without a box mix. Good thing it all turned out alright!

My Sunday night foray into baking was basic white bread. Yes, we eat white bread in this house. Don't judge! Most of my baking recipes have come right out my good ol' Better Crocker Cookbook. You know the standard red and white checked one? Mine is pink and white, but the recipes are still great.

This recipe I didn't get from that book though. I picked it up online at Daily Dish Recipes. I followed this recipe exactly except for maybe the kneading time. I don't time that part - I just let it go on my stand mixer until the motor got too hot, then I turned it out and kneaded it maybe 10 more times. The end result was awesome!

Two different size pans!

What I learned about this bread (other than it's sooo good - did I say that already?), is that even when you think it's cooled down all the way, let it sit a little longer. We didn't wait quite long enough before we sliced it and it did crumb a little bit. Honestly I don't know how long we let it cool. I just know that next time when I think it's ready, I'm adding another hour!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

{USS Yorktown}

Today we played tourists. We went to Charleston and after a brief stint in downtown (very brief - it was crowded!) we went to the USS Yorktown. We wanted to go to Fort Sumter but we missed the last boat out. Now we know. That is going to be another trip because of our history studies this year. Maybe a during the week trip though, when it's not so packed with people who are really tourists or people just acting like them!

Charleston from the deck of the USS Yorktown

The Yorktown is moored with a destroyer and a submarine. Miss Claustrophobic almost didn't make it through the submarine, but I held my panic in check (barely) and survived. I'm going to be honest if I had to live on one of those people would be dead. Or I would die trying to blow a hole in the side to get out!

It really was a fun time. We did three of the five tours (self guided) through the Yorktown, walked the destroyer (the USS Laffey - named after a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient), and walked through the USS Clamagore (the sub). The best part though (at least in my opinion) is the Medal of Honor Museum. Very awe inspiring.

At the beginning of the Medal of Honor Museum

Today I learned that each branch
had it's own Medal of Honor. I thought
it was just one. 

Here is the link to the web page for Patriots Point. If you are ever in Charleston and need to kill some time before one of the famous ghost tours you should visit. There are ghost tours of the Yorktown too so you can spend tons of time there!

Here are a few pictures of our day. My phone died, so I didn't take very many - maybe I should have brought a real camera?

USS Clamagore

On the flight deck

The Yorktown

Mickey supporting the guys.

Friday, September 13, 2013

{Art & PE}

My effort in include art and PE this year has been hit or miss. That, sadly, is nothing unusual in this house! PE especially has taken the back burner ~ it usually does. I know I'm not teaching my son good, healthy habits by not doing something everyday. I hope that we can start making changes in that area.

On the other hand art has been going much better. We've completed a few projects (which is a few more than last year). I get our ideas from pintrest or this book

We've had this book since 2nd grade - it only took us 5 years to use it...

It has lots of good ideas and we decided on Squares with Concentric Circles by Vassily Kandinsky. It was one of the easier projects :) That's how we roll around here!

What the original looked like

Our circles

Completed project

Zach enjoyed working on it, choosing his own colors and and how dark he wanted to paint each section. I had him make all the choices, did it need another coat of watercolor? How dark did he want the wax circles to be?

Since including Art this year I've loved spending this quiet time with Zach and watching him learn how to put different colors together. Sometimes the best curriculum is the one that isn't written.