Homeschool weeks 23-26

The last month has felt very much like summer.

We finished our last 6th grade block a few weeks ago. I. made this pinhole camera for his final project. (It’s a kit). It is pretty amazing how it works with no electronics. We haven’t developed any pictures from it yet. And, that, by the way, was a whole discussion. How film is developed. It is totally foreign to most of this generation of children.

image

So, 6th grade is over. I probably won’t be posting weekly homeschool updates since we are mostly spending most of our time outside in our garden. (Aside from the hours I seem to spend in the kitchen.)

I’m starting to work on my planning for the fall. 7th grade and 1st grade and keeping a 4 year old preschooler busy. It really love planning. Weird, I know.

We have gone on several hikes in the last few weeks. My husband’s relatives were visiting from out of state and we went on a lovely forest hike on the coast. Then, when we went camping with some homeschool friends, we took a short hike to see one of the waterfalls. We found a perfect spot for splashing in the creek on that hike, the kids had so much fun. (And my camera battery was dead, so no pictures).

We are heading to fiddle camp for my oldest in two weeks. I’ll be camping there with my three kids for four nights. An adventure, for sure. My son is so excited. In the past few years, he was always lukewarm about going, so we never did it. (And I had a little baby at the time, which made the prospect less appealing). I’m excited for him to be immersed in music for a few days.

Our chickens are growing well and happy. They’ll be getting a new house soon, as we need to replace their coop. We are leaning towards building a pallet coop.

Polly our Polish. (This chicken, by the way, is the sweetest and smartest chicken I’ve ever met. She just can’t see very well, poor thing. I’m going to have to trim the feathers around her eyes, I think.)

image

Goose and Star getting a drink.

image

And our big girls. Rose, Ella, Artemis and Peaches.  (None are broody!! Yay! I am only glad because they seem to really ignore their physical needs when broody. Their combs get floppy, they lose weight, and they are more prone to fleas and lice. )

image

And so, summer has begun!

 

Homeschool weeks 21 & 22

It’s  beginning to feel like summer. The weather is changing, of course, and the days are growing so very long (it was daylight at 5:30am am this morning!). And we are winding down our school year, but still as busy as ever as we transition to spending our days outside more and more. Baths have becomes a necessity each day as children have layers of dirt on their feet and legs by the end of the day. We’ve been enjoying watermelon again. And we’ve had to start running the fans in the house on warm days. (It makes me ever so grateful for our cool evenings!)

We are still trekking along with our lessons, though they are feeling different. Our geology block is nearly done. I. is working on a research paper on rockhounding. It is a stretch for him, I’m gently nudging him to stretch out his wings and do some writing and research, which isn’t something I’ve pushed much yet. I’m teaching him how to take notes and think about how to organize his information. Next week, he’s going to work on the composition of his paper. Writing has always been a struggle for him, and I’ve gone through phases of backing off and pushing him more. I’ve gotten better as knowing when to back off and when to push, in terms of what serves him best and keeps our relationship intact. I’ve been working on really building his confidence in writing, as I know that is the biggest block for him. So, I’m pleased with how this assignment has gone so far.

This geology block has also caused him to discover a new hobby! Rrock hounding! We’ve spent a day each weekend out exploring a new local nature spot while looking for some good rocks. This weekend with triple digits forecasted, we plan to drive a bit to get into the mountains and look for some rocks there.

In addition to geology, we also did some math, lots of knitting, music, and Gaelic (via Duolingo).

Kindergarten is much of the same. Stories. Singing.  Cooking. Playing. Penny whistle lessons. Digging in the dirt. Making fairy houses. The usual.

Last night, we transitioned the babies to sleeping outside. They did just fine in the coop. I was only slightly nervous because two of our hens are broody and mean to them right now. But, all the chickens just slept through the night, so it was fine.

 

Homeschool weeks 19&20

Yes, I’ve been a little preoccupied. I think about writing a blog post on this or that, but it doesn’t happen. After June 7, I should have my free time back. These days, I spend most of my time phone banking for Bernie. It has been quite a journey, honestly. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone again and again these last few weeks. I even mustered up the courage to go canvassing, door to door! And I’m so glad I did, it was an awesome experience. And I’m so glad I took the 12 year old with me, I think he really benefited from it. We only had one rude, cussing person. Everyone else was kind. Bernie Sanders has ignited in me a passion and hope for our future.  Until a few months ago, I literally ignored the news and purposefully stayed in the dark most of the time. I still filter what I read because some news affects me on a deep level and is too much to handle, but I’ve never cared so much about a politician, let alone a presidential  candidate. Ok, I won’t go on more. This isn’t meant to be a political post.

Two weeks ago, we went and saw Bernie in person! I know, I just said no more politics. But, it was the highlight of our week. It was a hot day and the lines were long. I left H. home as he hates heat and lines. I. and P. came with me. We all loved it. We didn’t start anything new, homeschool-wise, that week, because that event was all day, with the waiting, and we were then only left with 2 school days before I. went to his outdoor school on Friday. So, we did math, knitting and music with I. Well, music happens daily. In fact, most days I have to tell him that’s enough, time to put the violin away.

Last week, we started our geology block. It’s our last big block of 6th grade. A few months ago, when I told him we’d be doing geology in the Spring, there was lots of complaining, saying it sounded boring. But, now that we’ve begun, he absolutely loves it!

He finished his 6th grade math workbook. That felt like an accomplishment! However, based on experience, I know we can’t put math away until September. And, I. agrees. So, I’ll be pulling out occasional practice problems, just review, over the next few months until he starts 7th grade in September. I’ve also decided that I’m going to have him work on foreign language over the summer. That somehow always gets pushed to the wayside after a few weeks. We will probably use Duolingo. In the past, we used it  to learn some German, but he’s lately really expressed and interest in Japanese.

P. and H. are doing lots of playing, of course. P. has started singing and making up songs. H. is getting most excited about starting 1st grade in the Fall. He has his own garden and it is bigger than mine!  He is such a help in the yard, he does all kinds of weeding and planting and likes to water the garden.

We took a family trip to the forest this weekend. It was drizzly weather and wonderful. After our walk through the forest, the kids played on the bank of the river, finding rocks and snails. P. of course managed to get water into her boots and her pants soaking wet. If the weather had been warmer, they would have all stripped down. But, it was still fun, even in the cold wet weather.

I am wishing more and more lately that I had a smart phone. I downgraded to a regular  not-smart phone a few years ago to assist me in being more present in my life. (It really worked.) But, that also means I can’t snap pictures as easily for this blog. I have a regular camera, but my laptop is down until I get a new charger and so I can’t upload the pictures. This is why you don’t see more pictures here.

Speaking of pictures,

Our babies are getting big! They are between 7-9 weeks now. They don’t need a light anymore and they spend their days outside. They still do spend their nights in their brooder inside our house, because I think it’s still a bit cold outside at night. But, I expect in the next few weeks, we’ll transition them to being fully outside. We are pretty sure we have one rooster, the langshan. But, only time will tell.

Homeschool weeks 17 & 18

Two weeks in one post here.

Last week, we wrapped up our three week block studying the Middle Ages. Have I mentioned how much I love history? Probably. I’m grateful that my boy also loves it. He was most fascinated with learning about the weapons and the clothes of those times. He also started getting very interested in lutes. He has been pretty much glued to his fiddle lately. So, this reading on lutes lead him to mandolins. His old fiddle teacher also plays and teaches the mandolin, so it isn’t a new instrument to his awareness. But, his recent love of fiddling has kindled a general love for playing music.

We had been planning and saving up to upsize his violin to a full size this month, although he hasn’t totally maxed out his 3/4. And when we went to the music store for some new strings (one of his broke), he saw they had this lovely used mandolin for sale. I got the make and model of it and went home to research. It turns out it was made in Japan in the late 70s and is solid wood. Perfect condition. I. agreed that instead of upsizing his violin, he’ll stay on his 3/4 one and buy this lovely mandolin instead.  So, that was the big event last week. He loves it. It is strung like a fiddle, so he can already pick out some basic tunes on it.

This week, we’ve had more and more fiddle music. I. has taken to listening to Irish fiddle music on pandora when he washes the dishes after dinner. He’s learned quite a few of the songs, and has pretty much only Irish fiddle music on his iPod now. The times are rare that he isn’t fiddling, listening to fiddle music, or looking up new music to play. All his free time is fiddling. What a change from 6 months ago when he hadn’t touched his fiddle in months.

For lessons this week, we are doing a short physics block on energy. Namely, static and magnetic energy. I. did some reading on Tesla and Edison and he’s been playing around with some fun experiments.

This week, H made hedgehog-shaped bread, to tie into the story I told him this week. I’ve been steadily reading the first grade curriculum and am getting more excited about starting that with him in the fall.

H also built, on his own, this little shelter today.

image
Trying it out.

He had plans to sleep under it tonight, but thankfully finally changed his mind after about half an hour of trying to fall asleep.

In animal news, I gave all four hens a full bath this past weekend. That was a new experience. They all survived. I got pretty wet when our moodier then decided she’d had enough and tried to fly away, wet, while I was holding her. I even blew dry two of them who were needing some help drying faster.

image
Enjoying a new garden bed that we just put in. They think it was just for them, I think. 

 

The babies (as I call our chicks) are all doing well. They are 6-9 weeks old. We’ve been taking them out to the yard to get some greens and dirt when the weather is warm. They love the dandelions and the clover!

 

The kids have already started playing in the sprinklers. Late April/early May seems just too early for that. I think we are going to have a HOT summer.

Homeschool week 16

I don’t have much to say about this week. Things went smoothly. Lots of outside playing and working. It’s been way too hot for April here, and we’ve already had to get out the fans for our child who hates the heat.

The usual went down this week. Monday, we clean house and this week, I spent 2.5 hours driving I. back and forth to farm school. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had our usual homeschooling days. Circle time for the younger two, stories and books. Math, and knitting, and music for I. along with making progress in our Medieval block. He especially is fascinated by learning about the clothes they wore.

Fiddling. So much fiddling in our house! About 6 months ago, he told me he was done with his fiddle and that I should sell it. I didn’t. He has found a renewed interest in it a few weeks ago, and plays is all the time now. As in, sometimes that’s how I know he’s finally out of bed: I hear him playing.

Coughing. I’ve had this nasty lingering cough for weeks. I kept thinking it’d just go away. On week 3, I decided I needed to do something. Thank goodness for herbs! I found this awesome tincture called Serious Cough Soother by Wishgarden Herbs (one of my favorite companies). I also took Osha tincture. Within days, my cough was 75% better, and it almost all gone now. I’m just glad to be done with peeing in my pants all day long from my coughing attacks!

Nails. P. has been asking for nail polish for a while. I finally bought some Piggy Paints and, wow, she has just loved it! H. and P. picked out some colors.

image

I. took his Guinea pigs outside for the first time this week. It is adorable to watch them nibbling the grass. They love it.

image

I have to share one more picture. Rose, our broody hen, watching our cat taking a dust.

image

 

Homeschool week 13

Last weekend, one of our chicks died. I had been worried about her since from the day we brought her home, she wasn’t very active and when you held her, she had almost no muscle tone. Very lethargic. She died exactly one week after coming home. I’m not sure why. She had been eating and drinking, and didn’t have any signs of disease. She was my 6 year old’s chick, and we were making breakfast when he came in the room and just said “My chick died.” His brother thought it was a joke. He then went to go dig a hole for the baby in our back yard and we had a little funeral. Our backyard has a cat buried in it, a fish, and multiple birds (thanks to our feline friends). It is now also the resting place of a little week old Welsummer.

H. wanted to go to the store to get another chick, and we decided that was a good idea. We ended up coming home with three more last weekend, so we now have 5. They seem to be much happier as a bigger flock. I was worried about disease, since we had one die, so I totally cleaned their brooder before introducing the new ones. It’s been a week now and they are all doing really well. Growing, getting feathers in, very active, a few are practicing using their wings. We have one of the following:  polish (I forget which color body and crest, white or black), Amber white, Australorp, Langshan, gold laced Wyandotte.

image

I snapped this picture of them all sleeping.

I realize most of my pictures on this blog are chicken pictures. It is just the way it is. I don’t tend to take many photos, and I feel so conflicted with posting photos of my kids. Still on the fence about that. And the chickens are so photo-worthy. They are my little pets. Having chickens has really been positive for my own little brood.

In other non-chicken related news. Ahem. We had a full week. Made great progress in math. Business math is good stuff for I. because he can really see the relevance to real life and he enjoys that. We had a fun morning doing geometry drawings together, too.

A speech therapist came over this week. (Yes, they do only home visits! Love that!) I. asked to see one, as he has struggled always with pronouncing his L and I’ve always left it up to him to seek outside help or not. A few months ago, in tears, he said he wanted to see a speech therapist. I knew it was becoming something he felt self-conscious about, even though it wasn’t that severe. Anyhow, it was uneventful. Turns out she has chickens too and they talked chickens and played some games. She then said she doesn’t hear any problem and thinks it’s just fine. Fact is, this past month, it has been sounding better and I know he’s been really practicing on his own. For a moment, I figured that I’d wasted money paying for a visit. But, as soon as she left, I. says to me that that was what he needed, affirmation for a professional that he talks just fine. So, money well spent.

We headed out to the forest today for a hike. Last week while reading a most excellent little book to the two younger ones, H. tells me that he’s never been in a forest wilderness. I know this isn’t technically true. But if this is his perception then, whoa. I need to make some changes! So, I planned for today to be a forest day. We went and hiked in some old growth forest with two waterfalls and it was fantastic. So peaceful. We were the only ones there.  I didn’t have a camera, so no photos. A few miles away from the trailhead, the road goes through clear-cutting. That was heartbreaking and felt very heavy to drive through. Usually, I just see the clear-cutting from a distance. This was on a long winding road through a ton of clear-cutting everywhere we looked. It felt like a crime scene, very heavy and hurt. Sigh.

I have more blog posts brewing on non-school related topics. Though chickens may appear. But for now, I’ll just leave you with this photo of our hens sunning themselves.

image

Homeschool week 10

Monday was busy. Always is. We have a few short hours in the morning to do a slew of chores, breakfast and cleanup, and then get a short bit of homeschool work in for I. He heads off by 11:30 for the rest of the day to his Naturalist class at farm school and we don’t see him again until nearly 6pm. So, as usual, this week our Monday morning was busy. Except that I. woke in a cranky mood and was just upset about everything. So, he spent his morning upset and angry, and we just didn’t get homeschool work in. The struggle to push it didn’t seem worth it that morning.

Tuesday found us up in Portland for dentist appointments for H. and P.  P. had a filling done, and it was done without any anesthesia or gas or anything. She did amazing and just laid there. H. did great, as well. We had lunch out, then headed back home. The day felt spent by then, so I decided it would be a good day to go get hair cuts for the boys. A projected wait of 12 minutes turned into an hour and we were all ready to be home already!

Wednesday and Thursday we got to stay home, and it was glorious. I spent most of Wednesday catching up from being out of the house the day before. I. did lots of math, and practiced his flute, and finished up reading Little Men. I got our March circle time going for H. and P., and that was fun. I love learning the new songs together.

Today, I. is gone all day, from early morning until past dinner time, to farm school again, as he is every Friday. I had planned a quiet day at home, full of preschool and kindergarten activities (circle time, painting, baking) but H. was up almost the entire night, unable to sleep due to a little cold. He’s better today, though mostly just sleeping, since he hardly slept last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to stay up almost the entire night, and I am feeling a tad nostalgic about the nights of attending home births, and coming home and having to be on all day, in spite of the exhaustion.  I don’t drink coffee anymore, so I mostly just lean into the tiredness and let it be, and get done what needs to be done.  Feeding P. Making green juice and smoothie. Cleaning dishes. Chopping wood for our hungry wood stove. Sweeping the ever-dirty floor. Making lunch. Doing our daily two loads of laundry.  I can’t quite wrap my head around dinner yet, but it’ll get it figured out.

I was lucky enough to see Dr. Wayne Dyer when he came to Portland last year, just months before he passed away.  And, his voice, quoting the Tao Te Ching, echoes in my head almost daily whenever I feel overwhelmed: “I do nothing, and yet I leave nothing undone.” This is my mantra, and it gives me strength to move forward.