Monday, September 28, 2009

Death and Destruction

Some time ago a friend mentioned that she'd like to learn how to butcher chickens. A pretty normal desire considering that she has chickens of her own.

Then another friend, who has no chickens, mentioned she like to learn the process too. She was more interested in the educational value of teaching her children where their food comes from.

We recently met another family, who is homesteading, and they expressed a desire to learn the butchering process. So, we decided to have a butchering party.

We set a date and invited everyone to bring a covered dish to share, and butchering knives if they had them. Then last Friday night two of the families we originally talked to plus a neighbor of one of the families ventured to the 100 Acre Woods, in the rain, to enjoy time with one another and butcher poultry.

It wasn't the best of nights as far as weather goes, but the company was fabulous, the food delicious, and we got rid of a few pesky roosters in the process. I never did count, but the guys butchered chickens and rabbits until it was dark outside.

Not everyone who wanted to come was able to make it Friday. We will be doing this again soon. Susan was the party photographer. If you're not squeamish, you can find her photos here.


Almost exactly one year ago, we tore down the barn of a stranger. That wood and roofing has been used to build a pig house, and part of a chicken house. But I guess a year is enough time to forget how much work tearing down a building is, and run out of lumber, but either way we are back at.

Someone put an ad in the ad bulletin for an old house that needed torn down. Yesterday, the destruction began. This picture is what I found when I went to the site late this morning. There was nothing left of those corner walls by the time I left mid-afternoon. Two trailers loads of lumber have come so far. There is more to come.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Point Pleasant

Today we went with several other homeschooling families to Point Pleasant WV. Point Pleasant is a small city located where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. This area is rich in history including the lore of the Mothman. We arrived a bit early and took a minute to get a picture with him.

Next we met up with our friends at the Point Pleasant River Museum. Here we learned about the Silver Bridge that collapsed in 1967, saw various artifacts from the boats of the Ohio River, but one of the best things was the aquarium. The museum has a large aquarium filled with the fish of the Ohio River. I was surprised at the variety included in the tank, including the exotic looking Paddlefish.

Then we crossed the street to Tu-Endie-Wei state park where we learned about Chief Cornstalk and the Battle of Point Pleasant. We walked along the river to view the historical murals that are currently being painted on the flood walls. Those murals were quite impressive. I hope to return again once they are complete.

We had a good day. We all learned a little history, even though some thought football was the topic for the day. We spent time with friends, and enjoyed a warm fall day. This is my kind of homeschooling day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Devout Chickens

I was not a first hand witness to this story. This may be hearsay, but the other day Mamaw went out to the chicken house to find Nolan and Lydia playing with the chickens. They were holding them and balking at with them. Mamaw asked the children what they were doing, and they informed her that they were teaching the chickens how to pray.

When the story was later related to me, within ear shot of Lydia, she quickly reported to me that the chickens were good at praying. Lydia and Nolan would balk, and the chickens would repeat the prayer. When asked what they were praying about, the children stated they were praying for the chickens to lay more eggs. That of course, begs the question of what the roosters were praying for. Apparently, the roosters larger claws, and stronger bodies discouraged the kids from giving them prayer lessons. Too bad, as those roosters will soon be meeting their maker.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Catapults and Marshmallows

This week in Mystery of History Vol 1, we talked about the Assyrians and Babylonians. A small part of the conversation included the fact that the Assyrians (or the donkey-rians as Kellen likes to call them) first invented the catapult and battering ram.

That small tidbit of information led to searching for and watching several videos on the two weapons, and ultimately to the designing of the their own weapons. The catapults were loaded with marshmallows, and war (and eating of the ammunition) was declared.

You just never know where a homeschool lesson may lead.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Carter Caves

Monday and Tuesday our school consisted of an extended field trip to Carter Caves. This a beautiful Kentucky state park not far from here. As you might guess from the name, the park is full of caves. Unfortunately, most of the caves are closed due to a disease that is wiping out bat populations. Even so, we found plenty of opportunities for fun, exercise and education.

You may wonder why there are no pictures of Kellen. That is because every time he saw my camera pointed in his direction he would do this.....

or this.....

For some reason though, he didn't mind posing for other people's cameras, and they were able to catch a few good shots of him....(too bad they are too small to see when I upload them. They are in Facebook albums here and here.)

It was a great trip. Now, it is back to the normal routine!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Prelude to a Blog - Review and Giveaway

Lisa Bertolini (aka Sisterlisa) is a homeschooling mom of four. She herself is an accomplished blogger. You can find her blogging at The Home Spun Life . She also works behind the scenes at Growing in Grace Magazine, a blog written by and devoted to Christian girls. Now, she is sharing some of her wisdom on blogging with us.

Her ebook, Prelude to a Blog, is a guide to help parents establish a blog and blogging guidelines for their children. My son, Kellen, keeps a blog, and I have found it a very useful tool for our homeschool. Blogging can also be a way for children to network, and interact with other homeschoolers.

We all are aware though, that the internet is not always an easy place, or a safe place to navigate. Sisterlisa provides step by step instructions on how to help your child to establish a blog, while keeping it a fun and safe endeavor. The book will help you set up the blog, establish safety guidelines, and gives tips on a broad range of topics from sharing your faith to blogging courtesies.

Her book is available for purchase via her website, or you can win one here. Just leave a comment, and a winner will be drawn randomly Wednesday September 16th. The winner will be notified by email. So, please, be sure to leave an email address if your email is not enable through blogger.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Homeschool Dynamics

The kids were begging me to start school. I was dragging my feet. It isn't that I don't enjoy homeschooling the kids, but this time year is so crazy. Tim is working 60 hour weeks. The garden is producing and that produce needs preserving, and this year I am also working. I just wasn't ready to add something else to the schedule. Oh and there was one other thing that concerned me; Nolan would be starting school.

Without officially being in school, Nolan has already picked up a lot. This year though it is time to be a little more structured with him. It is time to start reading. Learning that skill is intense, at least on my end. We use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The lessons are short and relaxed, really. The intensity comes from the one on one time it requires of me. I know it really isn't that long, and I probably sound like a whiner. But I so enjoy when they are able to read and I can set them loose on a assignment.

The other concern with Nolan is he is very strong willed. We've learned to deal with that, in most cases. In fact I almost can't believe that I wrote that post about him most days. He really has become so much easier to parent in the last few years. Or maybe it just seems that way because his younger sister now is the strong will that challenges me.

Regardless of how I felt about starting school, the kids started anyway. No really, they got out their books, and only dragged me into it when they got stuck on a problem. Kellen even did Nolan's lessons with him.

Since first few days we have gotten into a better routine, and I have become a more active participant. The older kids have fallen right into the routine. Nolan is picking up his lessons easily. He really hasn't fought me on them, but there definitely has been an increase in his drama in other areas. He also has shown me a side of himself I had seen before. He has some perfectionists tendencies that I never noticed until now. It is hard for him to not make his letters perfectly. He spent a long time writing and erasing his first writing lesson. I am hoping the drama subsides after our routine becomes more normal for him. But I have this deep lurking feeling that there are many battles to come.

Then Vivian, of course, has demanded her one on one time too. She wants me to help her color and play games with her in quantities never seen before. She is learning (albeit slowly) to wait her turn, and that she can't interrupt when I am helping someone else. I have really enjoyed the one on one time with her too.

There was one thing that has surfaced with school this year that I never saw coming; anxiety. No, not from the kids, from me. It really has hit me hard this year how old Kellen is. He is in the sixth grade. This means a few quick years of middle school, then high school, and then he is gone. Though I am in no hurry to see him go, what has caused the anxiety is the educational ramifications of his age. Kellen checking out admissions requirements to various military academies was the start of my anxiousness.

We have a laid back school style. We use a lot of unit studies, and focus mainly on language arts and math. I am a firm believer that if those basics are solid in elementary, other subjects will come along easily. Kellen and Lydia's standardized tests scores show they have not been missing out in other areas.

Looking at those admissions requirements made me realize that Kellen will soon need more structured, not to mention advanced, learning. I also will have to do better record keeping to create a transcript for him. That means change, and with change usually comes stress.

I'm not in full blown panic attack about this, yet. I have a few years until we really need to make changes. It is more of this low undercurrent of anxiety that I don't exactly know how to change, and how to prepare Kellen for college. I don't know what those years should or will look like. Kellen is an incredibly talented child, and I want him to reach his full potential. Nothing like putting on a little pressure?

I guess I am thankful that this tiny bit of anxiety has hit me now. It gives me time to plan, and time to change. Time to adjust to the dynamics that are happening right now. Homeschooling, it is always an adventure.