Archive for the ‘Home and Hearth’ Category

Family

Last week, my niece and nephew, came up from Missouri for a three week summer vacation with my parents.  It’s been quite a treat for the cousins to get to know each other better.

The two 9 year-old boys, Henry and Kaden, are getting along famously and have so much in common.  Anna is the same age as her 12 year-old cousin Hannah’s baby sister,Tori, and so Anna is excited to have a “big sister” to play with.

Today, we have the pleasure of having Karen stay with us overnight, while Hannah, Grandma and Grandpa drive down to pickup my other nephew, Cameron, who is 13.

So far, we’ve been swimming twice together, once at the lake and once to the pool.  Next week there is a free swim day at the water park and we will all go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead tour and pageant for my boys’ birthday parties.  We are hoping to get time to go to Wylie Park in Aberdeen and to several museums while they are here.  We also managed to fit in some garage sale shopping, where the girls found some cute new outfits.

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Homeschooling Conference

Pioneer Pa and I had the pleasurable opportunity, this past weekend, to attend a homeschooling conference in Sioux Falls, SD.  Amid the fabulous speakers and workshops, the fellowship and curriculum vendors, I believe we have finally stumbled across THE SOLUTION to helping our struggling readers (Charles and Grandpa), as well as something that will help our other children take off in this area.

During the SECHE Conference, I attended three out of the four workshops taught by Denise Eide, the founder of Logic of English.  Learning that the spelling rules, phonetics and word roots used in the English language make sense was tremendously helpful too me.  You see, I don’t actually remember how I learned to read… I just did.  I was reading by early kindergarten and by the end of second grade, I had read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s entire Little House series independently.  On the other hand, I am a mother of sons, both who have experienced varying levels of difficulty in learning to read. Charles in particular, deeply struggles in this area of learning.  Not knowing why your child is having such trouble in such a fundamental subject is extremely stressful for parents… not knowing how to help, leaves you feeling helpless to fix the problem.  I was so impressed by the Logic of English in the first session, that I decided to attend Mrs. Eddie’s classes on Soaring, Not Struggling and the Importance of Handwriting.

In a nutshell, the most important things I learned were: English makes sense and teach your kids WHY, intensive systematic phonics, spelling rules and understanding word roots will rescue your struggling readers, and teach cursive handwriting first (if your child already learned manuscript printing, do cursive intensively and make the switch…require cursive on all their work.)  I’m thankful for what I have learned this year at our homeschool conference, and most especially for Denise’s hard work in creating the Logic of English.  I don’t often order curriculum that I’ve never used before at these events, but this program is a complete language arts curriculum for rescuing an older student or adult who is a struggling reader, as well as starting beginning readers off on the right foot. We ordered the Essentials reading program and can’t wait for it to arrive, to begin rescuing Charles’ reading.

Meanwhile with some new tips on teaching penmanship skills, we will run through teaching cursive writing again, beginning with the lower case letters.  After we run through both upper and lower case alphabet letters and the few connector strokes to form words,  we will completely switch to cursive writing in June.

Keeping Home Education Organized: Part 1

Howdy to all of you!  For a while there I thought it was almost spring… until I heard the weather report on the radio while driving the kids to the 4-H building to pick up their fruit orders from the fundraiser.  As fundraisers go, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had to do over the years. At least it’s useful and I can definitely come up with something to do with a box of cooking/baking apples (apple pie comes to mind) or 6 whole pineapples (like freezing them for smoothies or other later use.)

With temps. being below normal all winter (except for a freakishly nice streak last week), it’s too early yet for the many gardening tasks ahead, a so far only a few precious tomato seedlings just beginning to sprout this week, I’ve been turning my attention to other tasks… teaching the kids to cook, trying to keep school lessons graded on-time and recorded in the grade book, looking over the lessons for the rest of the spring term and doing lesson planning, making lists of curriculum subjects we need more of before the rest (so I don’t have to pay over-night or 2-day shipping fees, or else lose a week or two waiting on books) and planning for our trip to the nearest home-school convention in May.

A lot of these tasks are paperwork organizational ones.  I don’t claim to a paper organizing guru… especially in some areas… like the incoming mail from my (snail) mailbox.  On the grade-book, lesson planning and student planner front I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in the last year.  Through trial and error, we’ve learned more about ourselves and what works (and more importantly what doesn’t) for our family.  I’ve tried a lot of planners and planning pages that are out there in the marketplace (mainly 2 types… those available in the stores and those that are available online that you can print out and use), but they always seem to end up requiring a goodly amount of “tweaking” in order for them to work for my family and I always end up with this random mix of pages I printed out that really don’t look like they belong together.  From an artistic point of view, I find the lack of cohesion annoying at best.  My main complaints of store-bought student planners are number one that they are almost always dated and lack flexibility and two that they are typically designed for high school students.  Research has shown though that these organizational skills are best formed in 2nd/3rd graders, not jr. high and high school.

The best store-bought planners I’ve found for Elementary students are little spiral-bound assignment notebooks made by Mead (yes the people that make notebooks and Trapper Keepers that you remember from your school days.)  These are inexpensive (usually $3 or so) and I can find them at a couple my local (non-chain) grocery stores.  Each page has sections for 3 days and (Subject, Assignment, Date) at the top of each section.  You can use it one of two ways: 1 section per subject and all the assignments for that subject for a week (probably how the manufacturer intended it) or you could use it like we do.  I simply list all of the subjects/assignments for one day in a section and where it says Date:  I write the day of the week.  Then I just cross the completed assignment with a highlighter.  It’s simple and it works… for assignments… but it lacks planning pages for activities, home- school co-op, sports/clubs, church and for longer-term school and club projects… you would have to get another different planner for that sort of thing.   My kids’ complaint with these little planners…” THEY ARE SO BORING-LOOKING MOMMMMMM! ” I ask you… just how many planners should a 2nd to 5th/6th grader really be asked to maintain (even with a great deal of adult help)?  The answer to this question should never be more than ONE!  These are kids who have trouble keeping track of their shoes, toys, mittens and just about everything else that comes in pairs or more… so a pair of planners (one school-work and one social life) is just too much!

Having your student’s “paperwork organizational brain” all in one book makes their life and yours a great deal easier.  I had some specific requirements I struggled to find elsewhere (or if I did find it the format was super boring or not quite what I needed in some aspect or other.)

My Requirements:

* We school 6 days a week,  so we need either a 3-day per page or 6-day per page

* Longer-term Project planner pages for research papers (which we will be starting in the Fall), literature log/book report to ensure independent reading, and projects/goals for 4-H etc.

*Social organization pages.

*Month at a glance calendars to accompany the 5 weeks of assignment pages every month.

*Cohesive artistic design.

 

To this end result I used the Printmaster Platinum 6 program on my computer to design something that would work for my kids,  a planner that met our needs and wouldn’t bore the children to tears.  I may eventually design another version or two… or three…. as we all know that all children are very different.  For now the boys and decide we all like the “chalkboard” look… so we went a little old-school for our first home-school student planner.  I am going to try to add this on here as a downloadable file (you all let me know if it didn’t work.)  I will add pictures of the completed project after I try my link myself from our other computer which is the one that works with our printer.  It is meant to be copied with additional copies of the assignments, social and project pages for each month.

Daily Assignments

(Please Note: You are welcome to download and print it for personal use only, but please be respectful and don’t copy for commercial use.)

We Are So Excited! Part 1

My middle and youngest brothers

My middle and youngest brothers

There are so many things for our family to be excited about this spring and summer, that it is hard to keep them in order and write about them all.

I guess one of the most exciting events will be  this coming summer. My younger brother, Eric, is getting married to the sweetest gal I’ve ever met, his fiancee, Rachel. (Eric is picture on the right wearing the glasses and standing next to my baby brother, Roy.)  As if a wedding and the resulting family reunion that creates wasn’t exciting enough,  Eric and Rachel will tie the knot on Pioneer Pa and I’s  11th Wedding Anniversary.  It is sure to be a great time for all, including our kids, who will be getting to see their cousins for the first time in 7 years and getting to see their great-grandmothers, whom the older two barely remember and the youngest has never met.

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma... I learned from the best!

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma… I learned from the best!

Traveling to Missouri this summer for Eric and Rachel’s wedding will be our family vacation this year.  It will also be our 1st major homeschooling field trip.  We plan to visit, Independence Square & Courthouse (the gateway of the Oregon, Santa Fe and Mormon Trails), visit the Harry S. Truman Home, Library, the soda fountain where Harry Truman had his 1st job, Bess Truman’s Tea Room, Ft. Osage and the Lexington Civil War Battlefield.  If there is time, we might visit Jamesport, MO (home of the outlaw, Jesse James), a Natural History/Science Museum or a Zoo.

In other news, I’m so pleased and relieved to once again have my income taxes filed for another year.  If you’ve never had to file your farming income along with the regular income taxes for a job in town, this is quite the chores and every year I am thrilled and excited once it is crossed off my to-do list.

Other things I’m happy to have crossed off the to-do list this week: Finding Eggplant purple dress shirts for both Farmer Boys to wear at their uncle’s wedding and finding the perfect yellow & white Easter dress/dress for uncle’s wedding for our Littlest Pioneer Girl (oh and finding a matching pair of  dress shoes to go with it for $1 at the thrift store! Cha-ching!)

Other things of course have been added to the to-do list since though.  My mom and I were assigned to plan the rehearsal dinner/BBQ.  And I was specifically assigned the task of designing, baking and decorating the grooms cake because I am apparently the family guru of special foods needs AND the best cake decorator in the family.

Journey Into History with The Modern Pioneer Family

Sometime in April or May (date is still T.B.D.) our family will be traveling to my hometown in Missouri to attend my younger brother’s wedding.

Why you say is this of significance to this blog (I mean other than it is the wedding of a family member and thus an important family even to welcome a new sister-by-marriage and a new auntie to our family)?  Well, let us consider then that my “hometown” in my youth was Independence, Missouri and that I was born in Oregon City, Oregon.

Independence, Missouri holds an important place in the history of the United States of America.  It was the hometown of our President, Harry S. Truman and it is also the city from which most of our Nation’s expansion toward the Pacific Coast began.  Independence, Missouri is starting place of the 4 major traveling routes into the West:  The Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail (not listed in historical order on purpose.)

We have noticed some huge holes in our children’s study of American History at their local school.  Thus my husband and I have decided to put together for a history lesson project a unit study of  The Oregon Trail  for our family, in order to turn what would ordinarily be a mini-vacation to just attend a family event into an educational field trip for the children.  This is part of our efforts to “after-school” the children to augment what is turning out to be a lack-luster public school education.  To this end I visited out local lending library and checked out some books on this topic and am now working on preparing a lesson plan to outline our study of this subject.

 

Here is a list of just some of the resources we’ve found relating directly to the Oregon Trail and to the Pioneer Period of U.S. History in general:

1. Pathways of America ” The Oregon Trail” by Lynda Hatch

2. How I Survived the Oregon Trail (The Journal of Jesse Adams) by Laura Wilson

3. The Oregon Trail- Let Freedom Ring

4. If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie by Anne Kamma

5.  The American Frontier by Melanine Ann Apel

6. Black Frontiers (A History of African American Heroes In the Old West) by Lillian Schlissel

7. Cornerstones of Freedom “The Oregon Trail” by R. Conrad Stein

8. Homesteading on the Plains (Daily Life in the Land of Laura Ingalls Wilder)

9. Pioneering Women of the Wild West by Jeff Savage

10. Discovering Geography of North America with Books Kids Love by Carol J. Fuhler

11.  Pioneers (An Activity Book) by John Artman

12. Cowboys (An Activity Book) by John Artman

13. Indians (An Activity Book) by John Artman

While studying the history topic of the Oregon Trail; we will also involve Reading & Literature, Spelling, Arithmetic, Geography, Science and Music and then conclude our unit with a memorable field trip to historical sites in Independence, MO and nearby towns for some hands-on-learning.

National Cub-Scouting Week

Today marks the end of National Cub-Scouting Week, so I thought I would dedicate my post today to our 2 young Cub-scouts and their accomplishments.homeimprovement 031

Unfortunately, it’s been a couple months since they have attended meetings, between weather issues, meetings that were canceled by their den leaders for various reasons and somebody at home being sick with some sort of illness almost constantly since before Christmas.

But, back in November at our Pack Meeting, Charles participated in the Flag Ceremony and did a very good job of it.  At this meeting, both Charles and Henry also earned their Bobcat Badges… the first of many to come.homeimprovement 036

homeimprovement 039

Henry’s Tiger Den made their $200/scout quota for selling popcorn.  Charles’ Bear Den exceeded the $200/scout quota and averaged about $350/scout.  Charles was a great little salesman and earned $358 in popcorn sales for the Pack.  Both of them did AWESOME!

Both Henry and Charles have been working hard on their bowling skills with their Grandpa Bill in order to earn their belt loop awards for the sport of bowling.

It’s Been a Long Time (Since Last Year’s Garden)

Wow, it has been far too long since I’ve made a new posting.  All of the computers in the house were broken for several months and our library (20 miles away) has a 30 minutes time limit per patron/per visit for internet usage. Unfortunately our twice a month trip to the library was barely enough computer-time to delete all the junk email from my inbox.

So, I deeply apologize for being completely out of touch for approx. 2 months or so there.

We’ve had a rather mild winter here in South Dakota once again. And I am wondering if we will have another drought summer with lots of grass- hoppers as we did last summer.  (However, our tomatoes and peppers really seemed to enjoy the hot summer weather last year.)  I say lots of grasshoppers, but of course it was NOTHING like the nearly Biblical Plague of Grasshoppers that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek… I can certainly be thankful for that.

We’ve started a few vegetable plants indoors already in our windowsills. Lettuce, Herbs and a few cherry-type tomatoes, all of which make good container garden plants. Toward the end of this month we will be getting the indoor mini greenhouse out of storage and setting up our grow lights and really getting busy starting our heirloom vegetable and flower transplants so they will be ready to set out in the garden this spring.

Varieties We plan to Grow in 2013: (Not a complete list, but a nice start of one.)

Beans: Gold Marie Vining (wax type pole bean), Royal Purple Pole, and Chinese Long Bean

Broccoli: Purple Sprouting and Romanesco

Carrots: Amarillo (yellow), Atomic Red (red), Cosmic Purple (purple), Snow White (white), plus an heirloom orange carrot

Cabbage: Red Express

Cauliflower: Cheddar, and both a green and a purple variety.

Celery: Red Re-Selection

Cucumbers: Dragon’s Egg, Boston Pickling, Uzebeski

Eggplant: Ping tung (very sweet elongated variety)

Popcorn: (the only corn we will grow this year) Dakota Black

Peppers: Lipstick, Chocolate Bell, Orange Bell, Yellow Bell, Red Bell, Green Bell, Mini Bell, Anaheim, Santa Fe, and Sweet Banana.

Pumpkins: Red Warty Thing, Cinderella, the pumpkin that looks like it’s covered in peanuts and a blue pie pumpkin that my grandmother always grew in Oregon.

Tomatoes: Black Prince (which we loved last year),  Black Icicle, Orange Icicle, Green Zebra, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear (which come up wild here every summer), Pink Caspian and Nature’s Riddle to name a few.

*Traditional garden center hybrids like Better Boy and Early Girl have never really done well for us here on this farm, but many of the heirlooms we’ve tried have done very nicely on our farm here.  One notable exception to that was the “Mr. Stripey” plant I bought last year at the local big box store… it was the weirdest tomato plant I have every grown… huge plant with weird fuzzy leaves, lots of blossoms… but it never produced a single tomato fruit  despite plenty of bees and other pollinators(I am sure that other people do fabulously with this variety… it just never did anything for us, making me wonder if it’s not adapted to the Southern US or something?)

We’ll probably grown a dozen or two others, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head.

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