We started back to school last week.  Phew.  Just in time.  Summer break was wearing me out.

We used to school basically year round because with our Charlotte Mason approach it just worked for us. 

Then a son took a dual credit course and a daughter started taking piano on a college campus with college schedules. Not to mention part-time jobs... It quickly became evident that I needed to start considering schedules other than my own.


Everytime I get a system down that works I revel in it.  I think it will work always, for all time, forever.  I often think that everyone should try my fantastic new system which could bring about world peace.

Then something changes, and I flounder and fuss until I realize that once again I must tweak schedules to meet life.  Not life to fit schedules.

I would have made a grand Pharisee.


Gone Swimming

Summer is here with a vengeance.  Humidity is staying around 95%, heat about the same.  Gills would be appropriate wear for our area of the country.

Tonight our friend-of-a-friend's-daughter arrived from Switzerland for a month long stay of language study.  Her english is already wonderful, she will be mostly increasing her vocabulary and perfecting her grammar.  I hate correcting her accent, it's so beautifully Italian with a pinch of the Brit thrown in.

It's going to be a great month.  She's going to help us with our Italian (currently non-existent) and with our embarrassingly awkward German.


For those of you who have been faithfully checking back for Family Garden 101 and it's Monday linky.  I'm so sorry.  Summer has been busier than I could have imagined.  I've been in the garden more than I've been writing about it!

I'll be back come Monday with a new linky, and if my wonderful husband manages to fix my camera I'll have pictures.  I hope you'll link up with your green goodness too.

For now, when I'm not weeding, I hope to be swimming.


Family Garden 101

Hopefully Late is better than Never. 

That's the refrain that's been going on in my brain for the last two weeks.  My garden has been drying out from the flood and blessedly my tomatoes have been thriving. Unfortunately I've not been able to get out to plant the okra, beans, and purple hulls or the companion flowers that I had in my mental schedule.

I also still do not know about all the seeds I planted before the flood.  They may be sprouting in Kentucky right now...

Plus no pictures.  Waaa.  I really love pictures.

This week I hope to get the rest of my seeds in and then some young plants of a few variety of squash.  Plus I need to figure out how to support my tomato plants.  Not to mention I'm sure I've got some weeds that need tender-loving eradication.

On the home garden-box front- we've had more lettuce than we can eat, out of just 6 heads of lettuce!  Yummy.

I hope your gardening week has been earthy and lovely!

Wild Turkeys, Flood Waters...

My husband and two teen-aged daughters had managed to plant 72 tomato plants of several varieties and about 72 various types of pepper plants the day before all the weekend storms rolled in.

Our area got hit with about 20 inches of rain in 2 1/2 days.  You can just see the top of a sign in the middle of the first picture.  This lake is not supposed to be there.  In fact that's not even an area that has a creek.

 The second picture is directly to the right of the top picture.  It shows the right half of the garden that was still covered this morning. It seems my garden area was not submerged- at least not for long, but not all the gardeners were so lucky.  The back 1/2 acre is still covered with water.

I wonder where all the bush bean seeds I planted last Wednesday now reside? I'm not complaining, I'm warm and dry and my family is safe.

Please pray for all the families in our area who were not so fortunate.

Family Garden 101

 My normal gardening post is rather short this week due to health issues.- Unfortunately, I spent several days in the hospital with my 4 yo.  He's much better and is currently sword fighting with his 8 yo brother.

We did manage to pick up our flats of tomatoes and peppers from the local 4-H sale.  The sky opened and it rained and rained here.  I can't wait to get out and plant.  Hopefully the dust-bowl look will not return.

Blessings All!

Family Garden 101

April 19th

The theme of this gardening-week is No Rain.  As in none, nada, zilch.  It's been the driest April I can remember.

The week was not without false alarms though.  Saturday morning we were supposed to get thunderstorms so I drove over and spent an hour frantically planting Lavender, fennel, dill, swiss chard, chamomile, leeks, stock, and giant zinnia seeds.

Alas, the sky cleared; no rain.

 Hope's hoses to the community garden spot were damaged.  Let's just say 700 feet of neatly coiled hoses don't fare well when they are inadvertently run over by a tractor pulling mowing equipment.  So... bring out trusty teens and water buckets.

I love these girls!  I know that the watering was more fun because they got to ride in the back of the pickup from the water spigot to the garden.  I just hope we start getting spring showers before the novelty wears off.

Under the top layer of the dust-bowl look the earth is still a bit damp.  Surprisingly, in all that dust we have seedlings coming up especially the beets, and turnip greens.

Besides the watering we spent a bit of time weeding and planting bush beans.  I put in 2- 40 foot rows that were 2 plants wide.  I plan to plant 2 more rows in 2 weeks to stagger the harvest a bit.  I also started the sunflower house.  The seed packet didn't hold much; so far the house has 3 walls.

Our onions are doing well.  We have several patches of both purple and white.  I forgot to take a photo of the potatoes but they are up and pretty.

Totals for the week?

2 trips out to the garden and 3 hours time spent working/riding around in a pickup.  No $$ spent this week.


Back to Work

My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me each week at Family Garden 101 with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.  

After a week off, we were back to work this week.  We did everything outside, if it was at all possible.  

Spatial reasoning and pre-math.

Pre-reading and pre-spelling skills, i.e.- tree climbing.

Horticulture, ecology, design....

Nature study of Lilacs

Sketching Azalea blossoms

Literature, math, anything portable, which is almost everything.  Now if I just had an Ipad...

It was a lovely week.  The weather goes from mild to hot pretty quickly where we live.  Already my two youngest can't play outside after lunch- it's too stressful for their metabolism.  We are now spending the mornings outdoors, everyone working on their own projects and then starting "school" for the older kids right after lunch.  

It was a wonderful idea, in theory.  I'm loving the mornings.  I'm not loving the afternoons.  My brain simply does not want to explain math at 1:30 p.m..  I don't want to help with vocabulary words, or term paper questions at 3:30 p.m..  I'm not remembering to check german or copy work....   

Time to rethink, re-plan, re-motivate.  I don't want the school year to end in a whimper. 


Family Garden 101

Weeding and Waiting

Last week we didn't plant anything new.  We are still waiting for our last frost date- the 15th of April is the magic day.

We did go out and check for wild turkey damage- blessedly there was none!  We saw lots of deer tracks.  I'm sure they are blogging a thankfulness post about the buffet someone is kindly preparing for them.

 We also weeded for a little over an hour.  

With 7 active weeders, the weeding was actually pretty easy work.  It was mostly grass, but the ground was well tilled enough that the grass came up easily. You can see our onions in the foreground of this shot.  They are about 3 inches tall and doing great.  Our first visual sign of success.

Two not-so-active weeders got in a spot of trouble for running off to climb in the van in order to honk the horn.  They look like the day laborers that didn't get hired. 

With so many helpers I ran out of garden tools and decided to weed with a broken ruler.  See my hand wrapped in a dish towel?  That's so I could continue weeding after I gouged a hole in my hand. Very stupid of me.  My hand still hurts.  

On the home salad front:  We are enjoying more and more fresh lettuce. It freaks my toddlers out every time they watch me cut some and eat it.  We've had lots of discussions about how not all plants are edible but that all our food does actually come out of the dirt in some form or fashion.

We cleaned out some more containers for our home garden.  I'm planning on planting mostly herbs and spinach for now.

Time moves slowly when you are waiting to plant tomatoes and peppers!  

Family Garden 101

April 5th Edition

Last week, we didn't go out to our community garden a single time.  I thought about it a lot.  I pictured it completely grown over with weeds or drowning in rain puddles.  The only thing I didn't picture was wild turkeys.

Yes.  Wild turkeys.  I talked to my friend that owns the land- no weeds nor huge boggy puddles, but she did warn me that they've had a lot of wild turkeys this year.

Evidently wild turkeys love to ravage potatoes. You have to admit- that's just funny.

We are going out today to check our crops, to weed. and to plant another row of beets plus some mustard greens and fennel.  Hopefully, we won't have to replant potatoes. My family is going to do all of the above and then my children plan on having chatting/playing/chasing time with the other families that will be there working on their plots.  It's all good.

I'm also hoping to finish laying out, on paper, where the rest of my after-frost-date plantings will go.

On the home salad garden front, we ate lettuce from the garden for dinner yesterday.  Everyone got a tiny, pathetic little piece of green on their sandwich.  Everyone told me, with great sincerity, that it tasted great.

Have a great gardening week!



In Which I Reveal My Stunning Lack of Focus

My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  Each Monday I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me at The Flexible Homeschooler with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.


It's been absolutely gorgeous this week.  We've spent every moment we could outside.  Thus the title to my post.  

My 10 yo is enjoying  a Spring  project.  A few mornings a week she finds something growing in our yard that she thinks looks interesting.  She then does a careful and detailed drawing of it in her nature notebook. Next, with my help, she looks up information about it.  She then labels her drawing and copies the information she found most interesting.  So far she's done entries on forsythia, violas, flowering quince and moss phlox.

Now if she would only let me photograph some of her project.  She's rather shy about her artwork.

I'm thrilled that my 13 yo finished her math curriculum early this year.  Wahooo!  As for my 8 yo's lost math notebook.  I think he ate it.  Someone must have.

My 8 yo has his first piano recital on the 12th.  He's starting to get excited and is practicing more and more on his own.  We are still working on reading the notes without fudging.  He keeps trying to count lines quickly thinking I won't notice.  It's the equivalent of skip-counting instead of knowing the multiplication tables.  

I posted my 18 yo son's Full Moon Film Festival entry on my other blog already- so apologies to those who are already fatigued by my exuberance but- They Won 3rd Place and Best Mockumentary!!!  

Hamilton vs. Burr from Luke Tipton on Vimeo.

Term papers are in full swing.  18 yo is writing on the formulation of a world view.  I have no idea how he is going to pull that off.  15 yo is writing on William Wilberforce.  One of her favorite movies is Amazing Grace, which was about Wilberforce's struggle to end the slave trade in England.

A bit of this, a bit of that, and peach cobbler for breakfast on the deck.  I love Spring.

To read what other home schoolers have been up to this week go to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


Mother Culture- The Ultimate Anti

I've borrowed the phrase Mother Culture from Karen Andreola's book, A Charlotte Mason Companion. I define Mother Culture simply as practicing a lifestyle that keeps my mind grounded in faith as well as lively and always learning.

I've attempted to cultivate Mother Culture in my life over the years in different ways; sometimes my children are involved, but usually not.

Recently, I decided to create a photographic week-by-week record of my yard- sheerly to entertain myself and to practice the art of noticing. Here are just a few of the shots.  What a difference a week can make!

Forsythia- week one

week two

Quince- week one

week two

Mother Culture- it's my anti-cranky, anti-boredom, and anti-future alzheimer medication.  No known side effects.  

It's what Works For Me on Wednesday , and any other day.


My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  Each Monday I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me at the Flexible Homeschooler with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.


Family Garden 101- #2

I hope you had a good gardening week. Link up and share your progress!

We didn't have anything new to plant this week out at our garden site; so far nothing is peeking through. Next week we plan on adding another row of beets; but mostly we are just waiting for the freeze date which is April 15.  Then the party really starts...

We have gotten quite a work-out putting on and taking off the cover for our salad 4x4 garden.  From temperatures in the 70's, to freeze warnings, we've seen it all this week.

We learned that if you don't cover your box carefully, and it rains torrentially, the cover will smash your plants.  Luckily nothing was irreversibly damaged.  We also discovered that our kitten is quite ferocious and is thoroughly enjoying keep rabbits away.  I hope he continues to enjoy the sport all season!

Something's sprouting- hopefully not my first weed.  Silly me can't for the life of me remember what we planted there.

Not quite enough lettuce for our family of 9, yet. Notice the lettuce is labeled as red cabbage. I forgot to instruct my toddlers on the important matter of leaving the vegetable markers alone.  

This is the slightly squashed broccoli.

Our red cabbage.  

Total spent for the week:
I ordered Bradley tomato plants, Grape tomato plants, and something else... from a friend who is selling for his 4-H fund raiser.  We will get them just in time to plant.  


I Can't Find My....

The theme for this week was, " I can't find,"- fill in the blank.  It was an epidemic. Certain multiple children lost pencils, pens, math books, notebooks, read-alouds, history books, their left arm, their shoes.  

O.k., no one actually lost body parts but I was getting aggravated enough to consider duct-taping school books to bodies.   

Monday we did school outside.  I have to admit we all had trouble concentrating.  However, it was lovely.

Tuesday was our state's Home School Rally Day at the capital.  My 15 yo daughter lugged her tuba to the hill to perform.  I only took my 10 yo to watch because last year it was such a long program.  This year was better organized and much shorter- I wish I had taken everyone.  

Wednesday I got the opportunity to take just my 8 yo out for a treat after school.  We always celebrate finishing a math book or a difficult text with a treat out, one-on-one, with Mom.  It's a big deal in a big family.

Thursday we lost things, we found things, and slogged through school.  My 18 yo is continuing to read the Hobbit to my 8 yo.  His reading is so animated that I find myself pausing to listen too.  Lots of the children are coming to the end of this year's curriculums.  I'm starting to day dream about next year.

Friday I enjoyed a Gross Motor workout with the three younger boys at the park while the older children worked at home.  Sliding...

Climbing while making momma's heart stop...

The park was actually a big deal.  My almost 3 yo cannot handle heat well at all so we have to make the most of park weather before the heat hits.  It was especially encouraging to watch him run about like a madman with such obviously increased coordination and core strength.

My 18 yo is getting credit for "Distributed Education" by working freelance for several small production companies.  His work has slowed dramatically so I assigned him the job of designing some blog buttons for this blog and for my main blog. I can be a very self-serving teacher.

My 10 yo is continuing to work on learning how to shade pencil drawings of fruit.  I hope to post a couple of pictures next week- if she'll let me.  We looked at a bunch of Cezanne's paintings of fruit.  I have always thought that Cezanne's peaches look as if they could roll around with joy.

Now for a weekend of cleaning and reorganizing the school books. Hopefully I'll find the still missing math notebook.


My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  Each Monday I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.


For other Weekly Wrap-ups go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers 


Family Garden 101

We had a lovely day last Friday in our to-be-garden.

We were able to plant 10 lbs of red seed potatoes and 5 lbs of white potatoes as well as 1 1/2 lbs of onion sets both purple and white. I planted in 4 x 6 mounds instead of rows. We'll see in a few months how that works.

We also planted beets, brussel sprouts, turnips and collard greens. We planted the seeds in 2 foot wide rows. I didn't realize until after we had planted a 20 foot run of turnips that we weren't planting Purple-top turnips, which is what I thought I had purchased. Instead we planted Seven-top which is more for the greens than for the root.

It was first official "oops" of the garden; I'm sure it won't be the last! Does anyone know how Seven-top turnip bulbs taste?

It wasn't all work.  By our space we have a handy dandy checkerboard.

As I was buckling my almost 4 yo into the van he said, "Actually the tractor was most impressive".  All the kids got a laugh at that.  We've been repeating him all weekend.

It rained all day Sunday.  I couldn't stop thinking about how happy the rain makes my garden.

1 drive to the garden
3 hours of planting
$55 spent on potato and onion sets and a boat-load of various seeds.


Life Skills

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been flattened by a truck.  We did school this week but we also did a lot of very physical Life Skills work.  

The older children helped me paint the den, the kitchen and the dining area. 
We also planted 360 sq. feet of cold weather veggies: potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts, collard greens, tunip greens, and beets in our community garden.  Stop by on Monday to see our gardening progress.  We are keeping up with the time, money, and labor spent on our community garden project as part of our home school.  If you want to join us, I'll have a Monday linky set up so we can all share our gardening joy/hard work.

My 8 yo and 10 yo planted a 4x4 salad garden at home as well.  Which I forgot to assign someone the job of covering.  I've not had the heart yet to look this morning to see how the lettuce did overnight.

My 15 yo, who would prefer to eat only artisan breads and chocolate, laughingly said, "So I get to work hard planting and weeding in order to eat vegetables I don't like anyway?"
Why yes. 

My oldest turns 18 tomorrow.  Officially, he only has to finish up his english tutorial and a few more chapters of physics.  Also, I assigned him a paper on his core values and why he believes what he believes.  It will be the wrap-up for his philosophy class.  

Pinch me, either I'm about to graduate one of my children or I'm just dreaming!

I'm looking at Farther Up and Further In curriculum for my to be 9 and 11 yo for next year, just to shake things up.  Has anyone used this that would be willing to tell me what they think- positive or negative?

Have a great weekend and check out  Weekly Wrap-up for a week's worth of learning from families around the world.


Taking the Edge Off Toddlers

This is my favorite way to wear my toddlers out in the morning.  Work.  

We all have to eat.  They love to help.

Grinding oats while wearing jammies.  

It takes twice as long, but I know where they are- that's always important.

Especially with my ambitious 2 yo.

By the time breakfast is ready and eaten.  My toddlers have had enough attention to chill for a while so I can get the school day started.  

Well, they pretend to chill, anyway.

It's what Works For Me Wednesday or any other day.


The Gardening Outlook: Rain

Last Monday was so exciting. Seeing the community garden space, walking through the dirt, and visualizing a postcard perfect garden.

Then rain and more Rain.

Then the disc on the plow broke. Then it rained some more. We've not been able to do anything else yet. Our local farmers co-0p has gotten in seed potatoes and onion sets that we will swing by and purchase in the next few days. Last year I waited too long and they were sold out.

Next we wait for sunshine. It's a farmer's life, in miniature. O.K. maybe just in miniscule.

If you visited yesterday to link with a gardening post- my apologies. My computer has evidently gone on vacation in mind only. Hopefully my problem will be solved today.


When It's Not Been Great...

This was one of those busy, crazy weeks.  I think I drove to the moon and back.  Lot's of doctor's visits- but all with good news.  Lots of last-minute business errands for my husband.  Lots of teen-age activities.  It was all a bit too much.

I'd like to commune with my rocking chair and read stories to my Littles for a few days straight.  

We did accomplish things though.  My oldest turned in his film festival entry on Monday.  Then he picked up his physics and did some catch-up.  He also started working on another script and got some college acceptances in the mail.  Wahoo.  Now he has choices to make.  On his own. -Talk about surreal.

15 yo was asked to play the tuba on March 23rd at the state capital.  She had taken a break from the group but now she's back.  She's got to get her chops in gear and learn the music... quickly! No pressure. Sure.

13 yo continued with her regular list of school-work.  She also learned to cook lasagna.  A skill we all hope she practices regularly.

10 yo and 8 yo slid through the week helping me run and doing the bare minimum of school work.  On the positive side, 8 yo just finished his history text and is now listening to 17 yo read The Hobbit to him.   

3 yo is the little guy who had all the doctors appointments.  It's pretty tiring for him- but we've had some great conversations about God and prayer during the slow moments.  One of his favorite activities this week was early morning flashlight exploration.

2 yo has just been generally sweet/into everything.  Every time I returned home from one of my 3,142 errands he would run up to me, hug my leg, and exclaim, "You came back!" His favorite activity was sticking things on his fingertips.  I'll happily claim it as a math activity.

My favorite activity was watching the newest Emma from the BBC with my girls.  We loved it!  

So, though my week has not been great- or organized, it's nice to know that it's still been fine.