Let It Snow!

It has been cold outside, but no snow here … yet!

Weather predictions are ZERO degrees this weekend. Our pond is frozen already and I told the kids I’d be buying everyone a pair of ice skates if it got cold enough to skate on it. The Prez says I might have opportunity to make good on the promise.

We are enjoying some snowy-themed learning here.

We’re reading these books, which we found at our local library or we own in our library …

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2013-2014: High School Plans {9th Grader}

I usually do this post for all of our students, but I decided to break it down this year. I like to have these posts for reference if nothing else. I have fretted more over this plan than any other. This one COUNTS. Every homeschooling parent out there knows what I’m talking about.

It is not that the other years don’t count, but this one goes on the high school transcript. For the record: whether your child is in homeschool, private school or public school, grades K-8 do NOT go on their records for college consideration. So, when I say, this one counts, that is what I really mean. I do realize that those other grades certainly count and are very important and their performances go on teacher records and school records … but for the purpose of this post, this one counts means this one counts on our son’s record!

So, here is the basic overlay of what I have planned for our son, who will be 15 in about a month, and will be entering 9th grade officially on Monday. Where has the time gone?!

Before I get started, here are our state’s high school graduation requirements for those on a college prep course:

Total Credits: 22

  • Math: 4 credits  – Including Algebra I, II, Geometry and a fourth higher level math course (Students must be enrolled in a mathematics course each school year.)
  • English: 4 credits
  • Science: 3 credits – Including Biology, Chemistry or Physics, and a third lab course
  • Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Physical Education and Wellness: 1.5 credits
  • Personal Finance: 0.5 credits
  • Foreign Language: 2 credits
  • Fine Arts: 1 credit – May be waived for students not going to a University to expand and enhance the elective focus
  • Elective Focus: 3 credits – Math and Science, Career and Technical Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)


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Nature Study: The Brown Recluse Spider


This post contains close-up photos of a spider. A quarter-sized brown recluse spider.

Please click off now if you have a serious fear of spiders.

Chances are, if you live in most parts of Tennessee and quite a few other states, you have encountered one of these spiders. While they are elusive, they have a distinct marking that makes correctly identifying them an almost certainty … if you know what to look for.


Take a look at the following close-up photo and see if you can see the identifying mark.


For those who know, I’m sure you can see it. For those who don’t, do you see something that resembles a violin?

Do you see it? The neck of the violin points toward the back of the spider. This particular spider has a very distinct violin marking. I have to admit he is a beauty as far as brown recluse spiders go. And yes, it is highly likely he is a he, because the females rarely travel away from their mating/nesting area. Survival of the species at its finest.

Do I dare say this amazing specimen was found at our new home?

I mean, how many people share on a public blog that they have some unwelcome guests who reside IN their home. Not many I’d say, but hey, it is what it is. It is also not uncommon in Tennessee, particularly in areas with mature trees nearby.

There are treatments available, but most traditional methods are ineffective because not only do these spiders stay RECLUSIVE but they also walk with their entire bodies OFF the ground/floor/surface so that most pesticides are not absorbed by them.


So, what to do? Well, shake your towel, shake your clothes, check your shoes and give them a good shake as well. While people will say they don’t like moist areas, this big dude above was found by our girls in their tub last week. Now, mind you, we had record-breaking rainfall amounts, but we’ve also found them in our WET creek shoes. So, by our unscientific observation, they do not mind our wet spaces. Seem to even like some of them. Sigh.

For perspective, the cup housing this specimen is a bathroom-sized dixie cup. While the spider wasn’t dead at this point, he was paralyzed and soon died. As for who captured the spider, that would be my seven-year-old daughter who said, “Mom, we had gotten in the tub and he was in there. So I got out and told Li’l Bit to get out, and I got a cup and just got it with the water around it.” Yeah, she knows not to pick them up, but she is a country girl and a spider in her bath water is not going to phase her too much. By the way, she also let the water out and got clean water!


Is anyone feeling things crawling on them yet?

The good news is that you are most likely NOT going to encounter one of these lovelies if you were to come to our home, as they come out at night when all is quiet. And even then, we haven’t seen them crawling around! We have found them on an item of clothing, in the attic, and in the aforementioned creek shoes and bathtub.

If you’d like to learn or read more about the brown recluse spider, lots of specifics can be found at the Etymology Department of the University of Kentucky.

To Try for Baby Chicks or Not?

We are thinking … well some of us are … that it might be a great study of science to have some baby chicks around here. We have at least a couple of hens who seem to like keeping our eggs warm.


We will have to keep them perhaps in our garden shed for a while. Chickens will … how shall I say it … prey on one another in nature, and they will prey on baby chicks unfortunately.

On the other hand, I have wondered if the real science lessons might come in allowing nature to take its course.


I think we do have an actual baby chick to hatch that I’ll do a weekly post with updates on the chick(s).

In the meantime, I have three little people here who are immensely enjoying having our “ladies” (as Grammy calls them) here at our house.


I go every morning with our three littles and check for eggs, check feed and water and deliver the expected scraps, which usually consists of strawberry caps, bread crusts, apple cores and things like that. We don’t give them any meat or dairy scraps.


In the evening, the older boys usually make sure their little hen door is closed after they are all safely inside. Thankfully, the ladies take themselves inside their house along with Mr. Squawks at dusk or soon after.

We are learning that Mr. Squawks knows exactly how to fertilize eggs (our little ones say “they are married right now!). 😀 We are also learning that hens like to graze and that the old saying of a “pecking order” is literally true.

We are also counting eggs and will keep an average. We are going to graph the daily morning and evening totals over a week-long period and then calculate the average.


All in a day’s work on the farm!

Now, will you help a Momma/Teacher out? What do you think? Should we try to hatch baby chicks? Would you be interested in reading weekly updates and seeing their growth and hearing of their daily pursuits??? Please comment and help a Momma/Teacher convince the adoring Prez that his wife has not completely lost her wits. 😀

Mom! You Need to Blog This!

The title of this post was inspired by my 10-year-old son, who said after we witnessed what you’ll read below:”Mom, you need to blog this!”

It is great fun and quite interesting to explore at night in the country. We have quite a few nighttime friends including countless toads and tiny little tree frogs which Mo held in his hand. 20130610-163604.jpg
This last weekend we also witnessed fireflies, better known as lightning bugs around here, in a way we never have before.

They lit up our yard and the hill behind our house in a simply beautiful dance of flashing lights!
The girls and Mo chased them all over the yard and filled a jar I found with these amazing insects, which are actually beetles. 20130610-164122.jpg
Then Mo found the toad and the conversation turned toward the natural order of things. Some of you are probably guessing where I’m going with this.

Yes, much to Li’l Miss’s protests, Mo with my blessings put the toad into the jar with the fireflies.

And an experiment was born.

It didn’t take long for nature to take its course. Yes the toad ate a firefly and even Li’l Miss was excited to observe what happened next.

The firefly continued to light up INSIDE the toad except it was glowing red instead of green.

And the moral of this post is that fireflies will get eaten by toads and from our observation they continue to glow.

Poor little firefly. Wish I had a photo but it just wouldn’t take in the dark. You will have to trust me or maybe try it for yourself! 😀

I Just Needed This Button

I was at Staples last weekend. I found this button. If only I had found it sooner LOL!

I am happy to report it doesn’t always work, but it always redirects and often gets a laugh and sometimes it works. 🙂


I might have also hidden it from the Prez who wanted to take it to his office for use with his employees. And yes, I told him he needed to get his own EASY button.


Yes, friends, you probably need an EASY button too. Or maybe unlike our home things run smoothly and as planned most of the time in your home. I highly recommend it, kind of like those stress balls you squeeze but takes much less effort.

Like with teaching phonics, I am opting for ease. LOL! Really, it isn’t so bad, but I am reading a new book on my kindle: Understanding the Logic of English by Denise Eide. I am enjoying it, but I wouldn’t call it pleasure reading either. It has come highly recommended by a couple of homeschooling Mommas, and it promises to give me answers to the endless questions about the [lack of] logic in the English language.

But back to phonics and the easy button, I really will say I am glad I haven’t sunk a bunch of cash into an expensive program. The best tool I have found is my FREE phonics caps that are stored in repurposed parmesan cheese shakers.


Each of the colored caps represents a certain part of a word: vowels, blends, consonants, dipthongs, word endings such as -ing, -ed, -es. I even have some yellow ones with question marks, which I use to quiz them on the missing letter or sound. I use these ALL THE TIME. And they were FREE. 🙂




Back to the easy button, I (and the children) are loving my more-detailed assignment sheets. Now mind you, they took a L.O.T. of time this summer to make (and I am only through week 12 of 36 weeks), but then Mo does this without me reminding or prodding (mostly) … and the time is all worth it when he comes up to show me something like this drawing he put in his nature journal.


And one day while I was staring at my new button and admiring all of its beauty (not really), I looked outside to see this.


Do you see the plane way up there?

They flew this plane—all 6 of them—for an hour! Now this is when it is all worth it! Where’s the LOVE button?!

Today, I decided a little art/science project was in order with the jar of broken crayons I’d been saving for awhile.



*This photo looks like she was in the oven. She was NOT close, but it sure does look like it.*

And here is the final product.


I am in a summer Bible study, and we meet every Monday (days every other week with our children (14! yesterday) and alternating nights sans children. Since we spent 3 hours there, we had a shortened school day yesterday. Today, I worked with the littles on their 100 Chart and sequencing numbers. I was extremely pleased at their naming of random numbers between 1 and 100.

Li’l Bro had a harder time with the sequencing, but he is a WHIZ with our Al Abacus. And he is subtracting now with it. I don’t have pictures of him using it, but I did snap a few today while we worked on sequencing.



Here is another one for Li’l Miss to try.

She did it!

Mo and Larry had another assignment for the day. I am quite impressed as they ran with this on their own and came up with the idea to use clay instead of balloons as suggested in their book

I like the clay much better as the balloons just didn’t work for me (partly blown up and not round and a choking hazard). We plan to insert paper clips and hang them up … I’ll let y’all know how well that works.


And little brother was quite impressed too!

I have to wrap this one up because I’m out of photos (seems my iPhone is my only source these days since we started back to school), and I have some people waiting anxiously for me to observe the night sky with them. Mo has gotten out the telescope and sighted the moon and maybe a constellation or two using this book, which I highly recommend.

Our New “Babies” Are Here!



I’ll let the pictures mostly speak.



Our baby chicks (and one baby rooster … see him in the pic below with the white spot on his head)


… are here. And I am in a little bit of shock. What was I thinking???



I will say I got some Momma points when I fashioned a brooder from the two large boxes the Prez had brought home.


The expert at our local 4H office, where we picked up our “babies” today, told me our box was too deep and we needed a brooder about 4 times that size … so when we came home I started cutting the top half off of each of the two boxes and taping and cutting sides … and before long we had a brooder 4 times larger and half as deep. 🙂



Mo was doubtful but quite impressed once I finished. Curly gladly loaned me his very sharp pocket knife and helped with the cutting too.

The pics include only Li’l Miss because I was too in shock at first to worry with the camera, and by the time I headed back to the shop with it Li’l Miss was the only one still interested except Mo.



But he was back at Grammy and Papa’s house working on “The Chicken Mansion.”

To Be Continued … hopefully …