Friday, July 31, 2009

I Used to Know That

Have you ever had your child ask you a question about a school subject, and uttered the words, "Well, that sounds familiar. I think I used to know that?" As a homeschooling mom of four, with one in particularly inquisitive child, I find myself in that position frequently. I think that is why the little book I Used to Know That appeals to me so.

There are lots of tidbits of information, that I probably once learned in school, included in chapters entitled: English, Literature, Math, Science History, Geography, and General Studies. Information is clear and easy to find. There many helpful tables included. Such as a Geography table that with country names, their capital and continent.

What a great resource when you can't quite remember the answer to a question the kids pose! Do you remember the answer to these questions? The answers are all in the book (and at the bottom of this post.)

1)In Einstein's Theories of Relativity, E = MC2 what does C stand for again?

2)Which were the original 13 states of the Union?

3)What is onomatopoeia?

With this book I was also sent i before e (except after c), and My Grammar and I (Or Should That be 'Me'?): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English. The first is packed full of mnemonics to help your student (or yourself) remember all kinds of information. The latter of which serves as a handy grammar guide.

I really enjoyed all three of these books. They will find a place on the book shelf, and be referenced frequently.

Oh, and the answers to those questions?

1) C is the velocity of light
2) Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia. Delaware was the first to ratify the new constitution and is nicknamed "The First State" to this day.
3) A word or phrase that sounds (a bit) like the sounds it is meant to convey: buzz, purr, or Tennyson's the murmuring of innumerable bees.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nolan's First Bike Ride!

Look what Nolan learned to do yesterday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Someone Else's Secret

We live in one of the highest areas of the county. As a result there are many towers along the ridge we live on. Rumor has it that the tower company is looking for a site for a new tower. Because of that, no one here thought much of the helicopter that was flying around this afternoon. We all assumed that it was the tower company scoping out a new location for another tower.

I was out helping Papaw put the last wall on the new chicken house when we noticed that the helicopter seemed to be concentrating on our property, particularly the area where our property adjoins with the two neighbors properties. There is already one small tower in that area, so it made logical sense that the tower company would be looking there.

As we hoisted the last wall and tacked into place, we wondered whether they were putting in a small tower or a large one. We guesstimated how close the guide wire might come to the house if it was a large tower, and discussed the good and bad of having a tower on the property. Then we noticed that there was a vehicle pulled in front of the house.

Apparently, we had not heard it pull in over the helicopter and tool noise. I could only see the front end of the vehicle, but it was a familiar dark blue with gold stripes. The state police were parked in front of my house with a four wheeler in tow.

Rather confused and wondering what in the world was really going on, we approached the officers. They were rather stiff and formal with us, and in no hurry to answer our questions. They wanted to know who owned the property, where the property line was, and who all lived out here. Finally they told us that they had found marijuana growing.

Our reaction was disbelief and laughter. The officers were not amused. They explained that there was a well worn path to the spot, and even a little shelter. Little shelter; as in the kids' secret clubhouse. They asked a lot of questions, and walked around and looked at the different buildings on the property.

They left, obviously still not believing that we are as naive as we apparently are, to not know there was marijuana growing so near our house. They informed us that that spot is now marked on their GPS system and would be a regular stop for the helicopter inspections. As if we had something to hide.

Best we can figure here, after the fact, is that the spot must have been someone else's secret spot before the kids claimed it as theirs. The spot is not actually on our property, but right along the border with one of the neighbors. Who ever was using the spot as a garden must have had their plants indoors still when the clubhouse went up. Tim and I have not been to the secret spot since shortly after the clubhouse was built, adn obviously the kids do not know what marijuana plants look like. Though I did get the pleasure today of explaining to them what the plants are used for and why the state police were not happy they were growing here.

So next time we see a helicopter flying around the property, we will not be assuming it is the tower company looking for a good tower site. We can be pretty sure that it is the state police checking up on us. Tim says I should invite them in for coffee next time. Mamaw says that if I do I should probably not show them how I grow plants in my bathroom.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Fresh Air Fund

I've been asked to help get the word out about The Fresh Air Fund. I have not been personally involved with this organization, but it looks like a fabulous program. It is a program to give children from New York City the opportunity to get out of the city, and enjoy a more rural setting and the fresh air.

They are still looking for hosts for August. Since I know many of my readers are in the states involved, I thought I would give them a little shout out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

VBS Video

Here are some clips from VBS this year. Jason did a fabulous job editing!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Kellen!

Today my boy turns 11!

Kellen is growing up so fast. Physically I can not keep the kid in shoes or clothes. His feet are as big as mine. It won't be long until he is as tall as I am. Clothing I bought for him just a few short months ago no longer fits. He has hit a big growth spurt that doesn't show any signs of stopping.

He also is maturing, and I see the little boy slipping away into a pre-teen that is becoming a man. This summer was his first over night camp. He has earned the privilege (and responsibility) of driving the 4-wheeler solo. He has been Papaw's right hand man for much of the summer, learning to care for the animals, build and repair fences, and care for the pastures. And he does it all with a willing attitude (most of the time anyway.)

He is also a huge help to me. He is able to watch Vivian for me for a little bit when I need to be at the big garden or occupied elsewhere on the farm. He enjoys cooking, and normally does very well with following a recipe, or cooking simple dishes. There was the one recent exception of blackberry dumplings. I still have the blackberries stuck on the bottom of the pan as a remembrance of that learning experience.

So, today we celebrate him turning one year older. Tim is off work and we are going to Harry Potter then coming home for homemade pizza and ice cream cake.

Happy Birthday Kellen!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Calves

Last Friday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. As part of the celebration they offered free meals to anyone who dressed up as a cow. So we loaded up the calves, um I mean kids, and headed in for a free dinner for the family.

We were pleasantly surprised that it really wasn't all that busy. Or maybe that just means there weren't very many people willing to be this silly for a free meal. We did see a few other homeschooling families we knew while there. I guess homeschoolers are just sillier than the rest of the general public, or less willing to pass up on a free meal.

Caught a picture of the kids, but none of Tim and I. Oh yes, that was intentional. The plan kind of backfired though when the local TV station showed up. Oh yes, we were on the 11:00 news to the entire tri-state area. Search as I might though, I could not find a clip on the website. No, really, I did try to find it. Honest.

Though I kind of drug my feet about the whole thing, it really was fun. And who can complain about a free dinner, and no dishes to do?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Mom, I peed on a Chicken."

Living in the woods and raising animals you expect memories to be made. In fact, that is part of the reason we have chosen to live the lifestyle we do. You expect children to witness the cycle of life, to learn about nature and about where their food comes from. You relish the idea of the freedom they have and life lessons they learn. But many other memorable moments are quite unexpected.

It is Kellen's job to feed the rabbits. The rabbit pens are in the chicken run. He observed the other day that the chickens love to drink the water from the hose when he is filling rabbit water bottles. It is the same water in the chicken waterer, but for some reason they prefer to drink it as it runs on the ground.

Being a boy he decided to pee out there. The boys pee outside quite frequently. One of the perks of being a boy living in the woods. I don't mind much as human urine is said to keep the deer away, and we've never had deer in the garden, even though we have no fence. But back to the subject.... when he peed in the chicken run, he discovered that the chickens also like to drink urine. Nice information, I know. You're welcome for the education.

Today, Nolan took a slop bucket out to the chickens. He was out there quite awhile. I didn't think much of it because we recently bought month old pullets, and Nolan likes to watch and play with them.

After a while he came in giggling as only a five year old boy can giggle. He gave me a little update on the pullets. He told me he tried to give them some of the green bean ends, but the big chickens got them first. He let me know that some of the pullets had gone into the run (they stayed in the coop the first couple days,) but none had gotten out (when we put them outside yesterday they found a place they could go through the fence.) Then he started giggling again.

The giggling increased as he informed me that he peed and the pullets drank it. (Hmmm wonder where he learned that trick from?) Then the giggling increased so much that I could barely understand him. Between the giggles I heard, "Mom, I peed on a chicken." He assured me it was completely an accident. Not sure if I'm buying that or not.

Ah, life in the 100 Acre Wood. Life lessons, nature, and peeing on chickens, who could ask for better childhood memories?

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Tuesday afternoon I was enjoying a little quiet time. The kids were playing together nicely, and I went out to watch the goats. Perhaps a strange way to get a little quiet, but I do enjoy just observing the animals and sometimes even the garden. The quiet did not last long.

Nolan came storming out the front door. He was screaming and crying. I was a ways off and couldn't really tell what was wrong. Kellen was out the door right behind him. Nolan has a tendency to be a tad dramatic so my first assumption was that the two boys were fighting.

I called to Kellen to tell me what was wrong, but he could not hear me over Nolan's screaming. Then Nolan was bent over like he was going to throw up. I walked a little faster to get to the boys.

When I was close enough Kellen could hear me I asked him what had happened. He shrugged and said he had no idea. Still thinking they had been fighting, I asked Kellen what he had done to Nolan. He said, "Nothing mom. He was just playing on the bed, and ran out screaming, and grabbing his throat." What?!

Nolan was quite hysterical, and loud. I was very thankful for the loud part. At least then I knew he wasn't actually choking.

I asked, "Did you swallow something?"

He responded, "Yes."

"Was it food?"


"What was it?"

"Metal." At this point I began to panic a bit. Metal? A nail? A piece of scrap? Metal with a sharp pointed end?!? What had this kid put in his mouth?

"What kind of metal?"

"A penny." I felt a little better, but he was still very upset.

"Did it go all the way down?"

"No. It is right here." He pointed at the space at the bottom of his neck between the collar bones. It was all I could do to remain calm. I could just imagine the penny slipping, and him not being able to breath. Somehow I kept it together, and had one of the other kids get the phone for me. I was able to get Nolan calmed down a little, but he was obviously very uncomfortable and scared. So was I.

I called Tim. There was no one else here to stay with the other kids. We figured the best thing to do was to meet at the main road, and Tim could take Nolan to the ER (again.)

X-rays revealed that the penny was indeed stuck. Thankfully it was low enough that my fears of him not breathing were unfounded. An anesteologist was called. A surgeon was called. My little boy was put under while the surgeon used a tube to remove the penny from his throat. The procedure took less than five minutes. The penny is now in a specimen jar.

Chalk it up as another hospital visit for Nolan. His fifth in five years; twice this summer. More than any of the other kids, combined. *Sigh*

Monday, July 06, 2009

Mondays are Always the Same

Summer keeps cruising along.

Kellen, Lydia, and Nolan spent last week with Jeff and Gail. The kids had a fantastic time. Grandpa and Grandma kept them plenty busy with swimming, water slides, movies, golf, and lots of fun activities.

While they were gone two more litters of piglets were born. Quite honestly, I have no idea how many piglets are down in that barn now, but I guess it must be around forty. We have a crazy amount of pork. Anyone want one for the freezer in a few months?

Remember the poultry discussion? To help with the fly problem we decided to use some of our older chickens in the pig and goat barn. Yep, sacrificing the old birds. They aren't laying anymore, and the only thing keeping them out of the freezer is the lack of time to butcher them. Might as well make them useful eating flies. They haven't all fared so well.

The predator battle continues. So many raccoons have been trapped and killed here this year. The woods must be just full of them. We took a few hens down to the hog barn. Lost one the first night. Chatterbox, the first hen we got here, escaped and went back to the hen house. We hadn't seen any signs of the coon for a few days, and thought we finally had them under control. Then found their way into the duck pen, and got all the ducks. And got another hen at the hog house. The one hen that survives there roosts on one of the sows at night. Smart hen isn't she?

Tim and I took Vivian camping for a few days while the other kids were gone. It was so nice to just do nothing for a few days. The weather was cool and damp, but it was very comfortable for camping. We went to Twin Falls state park in Southern WV. It is a beautiful park. We spent a lot of time hiking the trails, and the rest of the time eating delicious food, and sleeping. I even read about half a book. It was perfect.

We weren't home but a few hours Friday when a neighbor came to tell us the steers were out. Not just out, but out on the road, stopping traffic. Stupid things would not lead with feed, or be herded. Ended up penning them in a different neighbors back yard and getting the stock trailer to get the steers home.

I did get to meet new neighbors. "Hi. I'm your neighbor. Our cows are in your back yard." They were very nice, and actually have some ducks they'd like to give away. First we need some electric fence around the duck pen for those coons.

Jeff and Gail brought the kids home Saturday afternoon. Tim and dad worked on fence and various other things around the farm. I worked long shifts Saturday and Sunday, as always.

So now it is Monday, and as always I woke up ready to get moving on things that I couldn't do over the weekend. There is always laundry and housework. This time of the year there is always something to do with the garden.

This morning I squashed bug eggs, pulled weeds, picked a bowl full of cucumbers, and went out picking the first of the blackberries. Then like every Monday I crashed. About 10:00 or so, every Monday, I realize how tired I really am from the weekend. I probably should make Monday my day of rest. So very hard to do though when there is so much to do, and summer is cruising along!