A homeschooling blog we created to share our stories and adventures as we live and learn as a family.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wintry wishes

Wishing everyone peace, joy, love, and hope during the holidays, and always.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tis the season

for crafting...

And creating delicious treats in the kitchen...

And more crafting...

And for bringing the spirit of joy into our home...

It's been slow to find us this year, that joyful spirit, but I can feel it creeping in ever so slowly, and cautiously. I hope that it finds you this holiday season as well.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Seaside Naturalist

D is taking the Seaside Naturalist class offered through the Fieldtrip Research Center this year. This is a monthly class run at Northeastern University's Marine Research Center in Nahant. We've taken many homeschooling classes over the years, and this is by far the best class that D has ever been a part of it. It is well-organized, interesting, challenging, and super fun. The homework is interesting but not overwhelming and D has learned so much these past four months. Marine Science is his passion so I'm thrilled that we found a program that offers him so much new information in a fun and engaging way. During the past four classes D has learned about tides, currents, micro-organisms, algae, sponges, and jellyfish. They even collected sea moss and made their own carageenan, a thickening agent used in many food items. Then they made egg nog using their own carageenan! It looked quite interesting and I had to bribe D to try it. Although it was an awesome experiment, I don't think sea-moss egg nog is going to become a staple in our home any time soon.

Checking out cniderea and sponges under the microscope.

Some pressed algae D made.

One of the coolest things about Northeastern's Marine Research Center is that the lab is basically in a bunker, which is built into the hillside, right on the ocean. Every time we go there I feel like we are on the set of 'Lost' and I keep waiting for the doors to open and for someone in a brown Darma Initiative uniform to greet us.

Nahant is absolutely beautiful and I was able to snap some pictures while the girls and I were exploring the area on Monday.

For information on FRC, click here: http://www.fieldtripresourcecenter.com/
For information on Northeastern Marine Research Center click here: http://www.northeastern.edu/marinescience/
And to check out the Seaside Naturalist Book that they are using in the class, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Seaside-Naturalist-Guide-Study-Seashore/dp/0671765035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323265176&sr=1-1

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Little Christmas

I absolutely loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was growing up. I read them, and re-read them, delighting in my favorite tales of life as a pioneer girl many times. I especially love the story of Christmas in the big woods of Wisconsin, where Laura Ingalls was born. She wrote of Christmas,

In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens, and there was a long, flat stick of red-and-white-striped peppermint candy, all beautifully notched along each side. They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shinging eyes at those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll...The other girls were not jealous because Laura had mittens, and candy, and a doll, because Laura was the littlest girl.

This year I would really love for our Christmas morning to feel so sweet and simple. I know it might not be possible, - it's only December first after all, and I am already feeling overwhelmed! But I would really love to find the simple, special meaning of the holidays with my children and downplay the pervasive consumerism that seems to be all around us. I want my children to have wonderful memories of the holidays and of the things we did together as a family - not of the things they unwrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. Most of all, I want them to feel that Christmas is about family, and giving, and love.

Hope everyone out there is breathing deeply, and feeling the love this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My favorite part of our homeschooling day is when we put our math and language arts learning aside, to get ready for science, history, and the arts. These are the subjects that make life vibrant, enriching, and interesting. There is nothing like watching your child's face the first time they learn about Egyptian mummification! Or watching their intense focus in the middle of a science experiment. Or their joy when they've learned a new song, or finished a new drawing and can't wait to share it with you.
Right now we spend about an hour or two every Monday and Friday afternoon learning about Biology, and every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday learning about Ancient History. Biology is a great subject for little ones, because most of the content is tangible. Plants, animals, and people are all readily available in our immediate environment. This year, D is learning quite a bit about cells and micro-organisms as well. Right now I'm using Real Science 4 Kids with D and R.E.A.L Science Odyssey with J. These curriculum have almost identical subject material, geared to different levels fo learning, so it's easy to teach one topic to both children simultaneously. D has just about finished up Real Science 4 Kids, so we'll be switching to ClassiQuest Science when we begin learning about the human body. We just finished a 2 month-long study of cells, taxonomy, and botany. We learned so much about plants!
We covered the leaves of this plant to see what happens to the chloroplasts when they don't get any light.
The leaf after 3 weeks.
We added food coloring to water to see how the stems of plants deliver water and nutrients to the leaves and flowers.

Checking out a seed coat that has been removed from the seed.
Finding the embryo and cotyledon in a seed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I am counting my many blessings and feeling thankful for so many things in my life
My awesome husband who fixed my apple peeler today when I thought all hope was lost.
My three little ones, who are not so little any more, and who helped all day today in the kitchen. I love our cranberry sauce and apple-pie making Thanksgiving tradition.
My wonderful mother, who took my three little kitchen helpers out of the house today so I could attempt to put my kitchen back in order.
Our friends and family who will be celebrating with us tomorrow. Hooray for Friendsgiving!
I am also missing my brother Derek deeply, and bracing myself for another holiday season without him. Derek, I will always serve canned cranberry sauce, and not just the made-from-scratch kind in your memory.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by http://soulemama.com/

thanks HSI for the great photo!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Favorite Things

We're about 9 weeks into the school year, so I thought I'd post some our favorite books and learning tools that we've discovered this fall.

We absolutely love anything narrated by Jim Dale. We've listened to just about all of his audio recordings, our favorites being the Peter and the Star Catchers series, James Herriot's Treasury for Children (for the wee ones), Around the World in 80 Days, and our newest find, The Emerald Atlas by John Stevens. This was an absolutely fabulous, sit on the edge of your seat, just don't want it to end, type of book. I was every bit as drawn in as my children and we can't wait for the next book in the series. You can find the audio book here:


Another favorite author of ours is Patricia Reilly Giff, who writes historical fiction. Her books are captivating and beautifully written, with many wonderful female protagonists. Nory Ryan's Song is one of my absolute favorites. You can check out her books here:


For older readers, I highly recommend The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. My oldest is still only 11 so he is not quite ready for this book, yet, but I can't wait until he is old enough to read it. I didn't realize it was Young Adult Fiction when I bought it on my Kindle, and really, it doesn't matter that it is. This was one of the best books I have ever read. It takes place in Nazi Germany during WWII and is beautifully poignant.


J has recently discovered the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. I love these books because the content is so rich, even thought they are written for early readers. J is devouring a book a day lately and learning so much.


I first saw Rip the Page on Soule Mama's blog and had to check it out. It is a wonderfully fun and different approach to creative writing. I highly recommend it, especially if you have a reluctant writer at home, or one who needs a boost of creativity.


We're learning about Ancient History this year and have discovered some great resources. We love the crafts and stories in Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors by Marian Broida. We just finished making Overnight Egyptian Fig Cakes, and are waiting for the dough to rise as I type this post :) We are also fans of History Pockets, published by Evan Moore. You can find them both here:


Hope your fall has been full of wonderful new discoveries!

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by http://soulemama.com/

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I love our family evenings. Most nights we have dinner together, unless DG is traveling or D is at a late hockey practice, and reflect on our day. We read books, snuggle on the couch, talk about what worked during our structured learning time, and what did not. Sure, occasionally someone has a meltdown, or the kids complain about dinner or argue with each other, or I feel too tired to deal with things in a calm and patient manner (as in I holler and yell and then feel like I behaved worse than my children). But for the most part our evenings are enjoyable and unhurried.
One thing we do not do at night is homework. By late afternoon my kids are pretty much spent. They've been learning and playing all day and are ready to relax, or head out to an activity. The last thing in the world I want to do at 4 or 5 o'clock is more work - it is simply not an opportune time for learning. Of course, my kids are only 3, 6 and 11, which is still relatively young, but sadly I hear of more and more kids in elementary school who are saddled with  homework after school. One friend recently explained to me how she often has to wake her nine year old up early before school to finish the work he was unable to do the night before. Parents I know feel frustrated that the two or three hours they have with their kids after work and school is spent threatening, coaxing, or bribing their children to do more work, and the kids feel exhausted and frustrated. There is something wrong with our current system if kids are unable to do the required ammount of work in the six to seven hours they are already at school.

Interestingly, a new study shows that homework generally does not improve elementary and middle school students' ability to learn, or their test scores. It seems math is the only subject where, students in this study benefitted from some small ammount of homework. This study was recently debated on Radio Boston, with Alfie Kohn as a guest speaker. He argues that instead of eliminating homework, perhaps those hours after school should be geared toward inspiring children to learn. It was a great program, and you can hear it here:


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I recently visited Kentucky, along with D, to celebrate my Dad's 65th birthday. We bought him a t-shirt that said "In Dog Years I'm Dead" (couldn't resist) and a new set of horseshoes, which he loves to play.
While we were there we visited the Louisville Science Museum, and did some fishing and swimming. Louisville is a beautiful city and these are some of my favorite pics of the trip.
Back at home we've been busy with homelearning, activities, and lots of music making. But I haven't been posting much lately because it seems that when I do finally find the time to add to our blog, I encounter technical problem after technical problem with Blogger. I've tried the new interface, as well as the old, but things just don't seem to be jiving. I should have prefaced that statement by saying that I am in no way a technology whiz. But I am thinking of making a change to Wordpress at some point in the near future. Any thoughts? Any blogging experts want to weigh in on this?

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by http://www.soulemama.com/soulemama/

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apples and Chickens

Is there anything better than apple picking in New England?

I've been meaning to post an update of our chickens which have grown so very much since I last posted about them in the spring. They are now fully grown and are starting to lay eggs. It is so much fun to see the kids run out to the coop throughout the day, looking for the prized egg or two, and to hear their words of encouragement toward the gals for a job well done. They are very much D's responsibility and he feeds and cares for them and cleans the coop out once a week. He is a good little chicken mama.

The girls exploring the yard.