Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Right Now

It's been tough to get much done today. This lil' guy needs a lot of snuggle time, but I think he is adjusting easily to our household.
And he finally has a name - Tripper!

Right Now

It's 3am...
(But I still love him!)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Homeschool Moment - Trapezoids

Kate: Why do I need to know how to find the area of a trapezoid?

Me (while looking up how to find the area of a trapezoid because I can't freakin' remember!): um...

Kate: I mean, I'm not going to be an architect or anything.

Me (thinking, "Ah, yes! An architect! That's a good reason to know how to calculate the area of a trapezoid!"): Or it is important if you learn to quilt.

Kate (disdain in her voice that she would ever do something Mom enjoys): I'm never going to be a quilter.

Mom: You might want to build something someday.

*Blank, empty stare from my daughter as if I'm an imbecile*

Me: Well, sometimes it is just important to learn new things and to learn to think in new ways.

Kate: Today I've learned to think that I don't need to know the area of a trapezoid

Friday, October 24, 2014

States Visited

Just for fun I filled out a map of where we have traveled in the US. Got the image here.

  • Red (Pink?) means the kids and I have visited
  • Orange means I have been, but the kids have not
  • White means neither the kids nor I have been there (only RI, OR, SC, DE left for me - I was literally miles away from SC when we were in NC, but decided to hold off for a *real* trip to SC)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Did you know that the Smoky Mountains is the salamander capital of the world? I didn't until I started researching our trip! So we decided it was appropriate to study salamanders.

After reading a bit about them, we went hunting after a picnic our first day in the park. Found nothing.

Fortunately Jack was gung-ho about our salamander hunt, and asked a ranger LOTS of questions about finding them. And find them we did! Most that we found were on our Grotto Falls hike, but we saw a few more out and about.
Little guy!
Grotto Falls
Lots of fallen tree climbing on this trip
The rain storms kept us from hiking as much as we wanted, so we didn't see as many as we hoped and never did find a brightly colored one. Next trip!

Homeschool resources we used to learn about salamanders...

Smoky Mountain National Park

After Mammoth Cave, we drove to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We stayed for 5 nights in a little camping cabin at the KOA in Townsend. The cabin was super cute, but the "free wifi" didn't reach to our location. That was a bit of a hiccup because we had planned to do a significant bit of online homeschool work there. The other bummer for this part of our trip was the rain. Usually I don't let a little rain get in our way, but it was stormy enough that we spent a little extra time in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area (so many tourist traps - I hated it... the kids loved it!!)
Our little cabin
(makes me want to join the tiny house movement!)
Fighting the Goblin King
on a rainy day
The great thing about homeschool travel is that I usually choose a few relevant subjects to study while we our on the road, but we also let what we discover guide our studies. For this trip I had planned to study the Smoky Mountain NP, salamanders and monarchs, so we had plenty of resources from the local library. While we were there, we discovered that the Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears were significant to the area, so we touched on that also. And you can't visit the Smoky Mountains without reading about the bears!
There is a bear WAY up at the tippy top of this tree.
The best view was from the sunroof when we drove under
Just some exploring
Pretty view
A sampling of what we did during those 5 days: hiked, explored the visitors' centers, visited the Mingus Mill, went to a ranger elk program and observed the elk, went to a ranger talk a the Little Greenbrier One Room Schoolhouse, drove Cade's Cove, saw a bear in the tip top of a tree, tagged monarchs (I'll blog more on that), hunted salamanders (also will blog more later), did homeschool at Starbucks (see above lack of wifi in cabin), went to the Rainforest Adventure Zoo during rain storm, and made TWO visits to MagiQuest (again during the rain - I so did NOT want to go there, but Jack was dying to go. It ended up being super fun!)

The Mingus Mill engineering was fascinating
Highest point in the park is the same
elevation as where we live!
General and miscellaneous homeschool resources we used in conjunction with our visit to The Great Smoky Mountains NP (salamander and monarch resources I'll list separately when I blog about those parts of our trip) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mammoth Cave

I'm going to quickly do a few posts about our recent road trip. For going 3000+ miles, I didn't take many photos.

We left on a Wed afternoon, drove to somewhere in Kansas and spent the night, then drove hard all day Thursday. Due to rainstorms and closed interstates, we didn't arrive at Mammoth Cave NP until late Thursday. We stayed in a cute little cabin (the bed was a little snug for the 3 of us!) close to the visitor's center. On Friday we explored the visitor's center, went on a cave tour, completed the Junior Ranger program, and did a short walk to Stephen Bishop's gravesite.

Our visit was great but too short. Like most national parks, there is always so much more you can do/explore with just a little bit more time. In retrospect, I wish we had spend 2 nights there. Just a wee bit more time for another tour or a longer hike. We'll just have to journey back again someday soon.

Not many photos cause it is kinda dark in a cave...
Going through Fat Man's Misery was by far
the favorite part of the tour

Homeschool resources we used in conjunction with our visit to Mammoth Caves National Park

DayBook 10.20.14


Outside my window... sunny! I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that the only time I've been outside yet today is to take out the trash.

I am hearing... a nail gun. Someone's getting a new roof.

I am feeling... eh. Not 100% today.

I am thinking... about everything I need to get done and how I really just want to take a nap. I woke up at 5:30am this morning.
I am thankful for... my freezer
From the kitchen... oh boy! Have I been busy in the kitchen! About once every 4-6 weeks, I have a day where I feel the need to cook and cook and cook (and then I don't feel like cooking again until the next manic cooking spell). Yesterday was that day, and the aftermath of finishing up and cleaning up are still lingering today. Yesterday I marinated and froze 4 flank steaks, made a veggie dip for a dinner I went to last night, roasted and pulled the meat from 2 chickens, made a batch of chewy chocolate Halloween cookies, cooked beans/chopped onions/peeled & chopped potatoes for a double batch of black bean and sweet potato chili for the freezer, chopped potatoes for cheese soup and chicken pot pie filling, made refrigerator dough for thyme rolls, and made 2 batches of pie crust dough. Today I have the sweet potato and black bean chili simmering on the stove, chicken broth in the crockpot, and I need to do a grocery run so I can finish up the pot pie filling. Hopefully I'll have those assembled and frozen today. But I have NO IDEA what we'll have for dinner tonight! :)
I am wearing... must I admit that I am still in my flannel PJ bottoms at almost 1pm?
I am creating... huge messes but at least we will have something to eat the next month or so
I am going... to get a puppy soon!!!!
I am reading... I have so many books going that I'm not even sure what I'm reading! About midway through The Absolutist - I think it is going to be good. I'm also about halfway through the last book in the Fifty Shades trilogy. I'll finish just to finish. I've also opened multiple nonfiction books.
I am hoping... to win the lottery. Not the mega jackpot. Just a *small* million dollar jackpot. I just really would like a spare million right about now (this is going to be difficult since I don't buy lottery tickets)

Around the house... well, the kitchen is a disaster. I've pulled out a few Halloween decorations, but we need to get them all out. I think we'll do that today.

In the homeschool room... Jack isn't feeling great today. At first I thought he was faking it, but he's pretty blah about doing even the subjects he enjoys. I'm letting them watch a little educational TV and calling it homeschool today.

How I'm exercising... I'm not. I'll play a little tennis this week. I did a hike/run with a friend over the weekend. I think I'll try to get out for an easy run this afternoon.
Something that irks me... social climbing.
One of my favorite things... cumin!

A few plans for the next week: normal stuff mostly. I do have a massage scheduled. That can't come soon enough!

Here is a picture I am sharing: Deer in the backyard. I've often found the evidence, but this may be the first time I've seen an actual deer back there. This is neighborhood deer with some kind of palsy. Her tongue is always sticking out funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Makes Me Happy

Fort sleeping! Jack & Matt spent the night in there. Jack is still buried in there somewhere

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Books Before Movies 2014

Now I'm working on watching all the movies. Funny that it's going to take me longer to watch the movies than read the books! So crossed off means I've read the book and highlighted means I've seen the movie.
  1. Labor Day (waiting for it to arrive from Netflix)
  2. The Monuments Men (chose to skip reading this one, waiting for it to arrive from Netflix)
  3. Winter's Tale
  4. Vampire Academy
  5. A Long Way Down (edited: I guess this is out & I can stream it on Netflix!)
  6. Divergent
  7. The Fault in Our Stars (just finished watching this one... I'm a blubbery mess!)
  8. The Hundred Foot Journey (not out on video yet)
  9. The Giver (not out on video yet)
  10. Dark Places (not releasing until 2015)
  11. This Is Where I Leave You (not out on video yet)
  12. The Maze Runner (not out on video yet)
  13. Gone Girl (not out on video yet)
  14. Unbroken (comes out in December)
  15. Wild (comes out in December)
  16. Serena (sounds like this one won't be out for awhile, if ever)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Homeschool Moment

Finding inspiration on the same rock as Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This Makes Me Happy

We tagged monarchs today! So cool. So fun! I'll share more info after we get home.

I tagged THIS butterfly!
See him behind me after I released him?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Homeschool Moment

Elk ranger program
With hands on antlers
Followed by watching bull elk bugling
With picnic dinner & hot chocolate while observing from the car
(Why does wildlife always look so far away in photos?!?)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Right Now

This stinks! Standstill on the interstate...
(Although I always say it's better to be in the traffic jam than in the accident!)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October Homeschool Plan

Again I'm not sure how travel will affect our progress this month. We are gone for longer this time, but we will have more down time to do some school work. So who knows!

  • KhanAcademy - continue 3-4x/week, advance at own pace
  • Calculadder - continue 3-4x/week, advance at own pace
  • Life of Fred - finish Goldfish, start Honey
  • MathUSee - work at a steady pace and hope to finish up Delta (Kate) and Gamma (Jack) by Thanksgiving
Language Arts 
  • Scribblers online writing class (Kate) - continue, need to look into next class
  • Tutoring (Jack) - continue 3x/week
  • Increasing Fluency (Jack) - plan to do this while traveling
  • First Language Lessons Level 4 - will break while traveling, hopefully will get to Lesson 16 by end of month
  • Grammarland - we've started this book before, I think we'll try to reread it while traveling
  • SpellingUSee - continue to work through at a steady pace
  • AlphaBetter drills - continue 3-4x/week, advance at own pace
  • Using Picture Books to Teach Writing With Traits - start chapter 2 after travels
  • Reading - Kate is working through the Battle of the Books list plus a few novels relevant to our travels, Jack will continue to work through Magic Tree House books
  • Audiobooks - mostly Jack, I really need to take stock of what he has listened to. He listens constantly, and I can't keep up!
  • Comprehension/Vocabulary/Book Reports - EdHelper questions/worksheets as applicable to reading
  • Gratitude Journal - would like to get back to 3-4x/week
History/Social Studies/Geography/Biography/Religion/Literature/Art
  • Story of the World Vol I - we'll probably get stuck on Alexander the Great for awhile
  • The Old Testament/Illustrated Jewish Bible for Children - read through Life in Egypt and start Life in Canaan
  • EHM's Storybook Artists - Quentin Blake - hopefully we'll get to this in Oct...
  • Call of the Wild audiobook - finish
  • Carl Sandburg poetry/biography/historic site 
  • Physics - finish What's Physics All About? book, continue to work through experiments in physics workbook (maybe?)
  • Planet Earth test worksheets from Enchanted Homeschool Mom that we started last year  (maybe?)
  • Wolves - finish up with resource list - it's mostly fun DVDs and such now
  • Monarch Butterflies - I thought I was excited about wolves... this has the potential to be AMAZING! Just so happens that the monarch are migrating through the Smoky Mountains while we are there.
  • Salamanders
  • Experiment with pH paper - we talked about pH levels in Yellowstone a lot
  • Speech therapy (Jack) - contine 2x/week
  • CNN Student News - 3-4x/week
  • - 3-4x/week
  • Keyboarding Without Tears - Level 3 - continue 3-4x/week
  • The Story of Stuff curriculum program - maybe?
  • HTML programming class online - finish
  • Cursive Without Tears (Jack) - attempt at least 2x/week
  • Latin (Kate) - complete through review of unit 2
  • Homeschool Enrichment Program - weekly
  • Swim Team - 3-4x/week plus dry land training weekly
  • Volleyball - Kate - weekly
  • Lego Class - Jack - finish & figure out next class
  • C25K program - maybe?
  • Field Trips - Mammoth Cave National Park, Smoky Mountains National Park, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, maybe wolf place