Watching the birds, in which I do not actually have a picture of “bird watching”

first we had to make it out of our own yard... leaves are such fascinating things
first we had to make it out of our own yard… leaves are such fascinating things

Last week, or, well.. hold on… let me think…. Friday after Thanksgiving, so two weeks ago (?), anyway, recently Zachary was bouncing off the walls. I mean, almost literally. He has had super crazy amounts of energy since everyone left after Thanksgiving dinner. So this particular Friday I took him out for a little walk around the block. I thought it would help burn off some energy (it didn’t).

Regardless, we wandered around, climbed the curbs, looked in on people working in their gardens, jumped off steps, and saw the birds.

must be like the big kids and walk along the fences
must be like the big kids and walk along the fences

I wished I could have captured that moment on photo – the birds. He was SO captivated by them. I didn’t get a chance to. It passed so quickly before he was on to something else. I was a little bummed for a second, before I realized that it’s OK. I don’t need to capture everything. Sometimes I think I just need to observe. I need to just see the wonder in my child’s face. Or be amazed at birds in flight… Just. Because.

Fast forward a few days and I broke my phone (it was already on its way out, but I pretty solidly completed its journey). And that caused me to not be able to carry my pocket camera with me (hello glass shards) and snap photos of every single tiny thing that caught my interest. Again, I pretty clearly heard God saying “give it up, you don’t need to document it, you just need to pay attention WITHOUT your phone”.

so long big tree
so long big tree

I’ve remedied the phone situation, and then I found myself with a new dilemma. To allow FB back onto my phone. Now, I know my tendency with having FB accessible, I will scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll…. I’ll ignore tasks that need doing; I’ll spend “just three more minutes” only to get off twenty-seven minutes later. So I’ve decided for the time being to not allow it’s presence anywhere on my phone. Which means, I’m not even linking my other social accounts (mainly just Instagram) to it. {I may reevaluate after Christmas, but we’ll see when the time comes.}

The first day or two was really hard. I was literally anxious about it. But… then… it eased up. You could say, I {sorta} got used to not checking in all the time. I still like to check in, but as I have no option but to use the real computer, which is “harder” to get on, it’s just not as big of an issue. (Because, I can’t actually scroll FB mindlessly on my computer. I just can’t. Doesn’t work for me.)

jumping (he's recently started counting himself down - super cute!)
jumping
(he’s recently started counting himself down – super cute!)

So, all that long-windedness to say that while this Advent isn’t going exactly how I thought it would, I am kind of glad that I’ve gotten some pretty clear nudges to take a few steps back… To enjoy reading books with my kids and not worry about having my phone within arms reach… To go to the park and actually leave my phone in the car… Yes, there are times I’d like to remember, but I may just have to stop and to watch the birds and keep the memories in my heart.

someone's flowers
someone’s flowers

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Since I’m not planning to be posting my pictures to FB and I know I’ve got family who follow me there especially for the purpose of seeing the kids, I’m going to make an effort to start putting my “weekly photo’s” posts back up. So, you can look for those, hopefully on Saturdays. 🙂

~~~

thinks he will be helping
thinks he will be helping

~~~

Country Kids

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Garden Notes

Late September, my dad gifted me a gift card to a local garden shop (agriculture shop? I dunno, they sell things for the garden, chickens, hay, etc…) Anyways, Kat and I took off one Saturday a few weeks back to see what we could find. A few of my garden tools died last winter after being left out (funny thing, all that snow, ruining wooden handles and things…), so I was aiming to replace them.

Z. just goofing. (How could I not include it?)
Z. just goofing. (How could I not include it?)

We browsed and browsed (and browsed some more) and finally managed to come up with a few little tools and garden gloves for the kiddos (I briefly considered some for myself, but I realized I’d just be super frustrated with the bulk of them, and decided I’d just rather have my hands be dirty than not be able to work).

Anyways, I had also been really, really hoping they would have garlic. I have been wanting to buy garlic (for planting) for several years now, and just never seemed to get around to doing it at the right time. And then this year, I finally remembered, but then I was overwhelmed with the online selection. But, they had the garlic there at the store! Just a few heads left, so I bought them!

garden-notes-4

Homegrown garlic is probably one of my very favorite things to come out of the garden 🙂

The little pamphlet I picked up mentioned that the soil should be nice and loose, etc….

Well.

This is the location I was wanting to plant.

garden-notes-10

Ok, so it was the other end of the box, but they used the entire box for the same purpose. And they’ve been using the entire box for the last four months or so.

And the dirt was SO trampled down.

So, I set my handy dandy helpers to work turning over the soil:

They tried to take turns with the tools. And LOVED their new gloves (Kat’s actually had a hole in them, which I’ve since fixed, but maybe that’s why she wasn’t thrilled?)

We ended up not doing the actual planting that day. So we came back to it a few days later:

There are still two more heads waiting to be planted. Don’t know why we didn’t just do all of them that day. But, maybe tomorrow?

The other garden-y thing I want to do is replant our Day Lilies. We have two plants that haven’t been touched in a few years and they’ve become quite dense. So, maybe I can manage to squeeze that in tomorrow as well? Here’s hoping.

Oh, and I guess it’s semi-garden related, but I’m meeting with our neighbor tomorrow about a tree overhanging our yard. The tree has a few problems (#understatementoftheyear). The major one being that *IF* it were to, say, fall or lose anymore branches (two have already fallen, just this summer) it would land on our yard. Now, fences and houses can be repaired, but I have little guys that would not be so easily repaired if it were to land on them. I have a quote to have it removed, but it’s quite high. So, hoping we can work with the owner to have something done so I can let the kids out back without being super afraid for them. Prayers?

tree

(Also, please let me know if the video doesn’t work)~~~Country Kids

Outdoors in the rain

We had a rainy day last week. I know, big deal. It rains. We need it. But, honestly I rarely let the kids go outside in it. Not so much because I’m concerned about them getting sick by being out in the weather (I don’t really buy into that particle notion, but moving on…), but more for the mess factor. And the fact that if I let them go out, there’s more chance that have to go out and I don’t really find that all enjoyable.

But, anyways, the link up this post is linked to is hosted by a woman in England. Where it rains. Frequently. And I notice when I look through other linked posts, there are ALWAYS some that show kids going for walks in the rain. So….. I figure if they can go for walks in the rain, we can go for walks in the rain.

This was during our 24-hour “vacation” over the weekend. The walk was made more fun by umbrellas I think, especially the brand new one Kat received for her birthday a few weeks back. I mean, what better way to break it in than a nice rainy walk on the beach?

We also were able to watch the crazy surfers. And attempt not to slip and fall in the mud on the path down to the beach – no one did to my recollection.

There was only a minor catastrophe while walking back the wind was getting a bit more intense and Johny managed to have his umbrella flip inside out and catch his finger in the process (it was mostly a pinch, but he’s my sensitive guy). Switching umbrellas, promises of a warm fire, cozy blankets and board games brought the world back to rights.

Nicki did great, although he was a little confused.

I’d have to say overall a success. Although I am partial to beaches in almost any weather. And if I can procure some more rain appropriate clothing I think we’ll be all set! 🙂

~~~

Country Kids

First year schooling thoughts

homeschool outdoors-2
reading books

It’s that time of year… where everyone starts posting their {school}year-end thoughts, etc… So I thought I’d post mine.

Photos in this post are for CoombeMills “Country Kids” linkup. They’re of various times in the past few weeks that we “Did School” outside, something that’s been really fun for them as the weather has turned warmer.

Fingers are for counting on
Fingers are for counting on

This year was our first year of homeschooling. I did a half hearted attempt at “kindergarten” last year, but we didn’t do much other than learn to read (which I’m totally OK with). But this year we’ve done “first grade”. My scholars are Kat. age 6 – year 1; John age 5 – “kindergarten”; Karl age 4 – add on; Zachary age 18mo. – trouble; Nicholas age 2mo. – baby.

baby
baby

Some things I’ve learned so far:

  • If I’m pregnant, I can only do school in the morning.
  • Teaching is hard.
  • I’m overly ambitious when it comes to which subjects to include in our curriculum.
  • There is a lot (lot, LOT) of reading to the kids in first grade.
  • It’s hard.
  • I like things, especially language arts subjects, to be as scripted as possible.
  • History……………….
  • I can’t figure out how to teach science…. and I’ve got a biology degree.
  • Math is still my favorite subject.
  • Life Skills are IMPORTANT (and helpful to mama)
    Life Skills are IMPORTANT (and helpful to mama) 😉
  • Breaks are awesome!
  • Good pencil sharpeners are AMAZING!
  • So is a toddler napping in the morning.
  • Did I mention, it’s hard?
Math work. (Same level as Katherine)
Math work. (Same level as Katherine)

To say it’s been a challenging year would be an understatement. I think probably because we had too many things happening at the same time (I was newly pregnant and we were starting something completely new at the same time —- > craziness!).

I was thinking about this post all day trying to think about “what we accomplished” and realized that I didn’t actually make a list of things to “Accomplish” by the end of the year (which seems to be highly recommended based on the homeschool blogs I’ve read), but…. I didn’t do it.

Using knowledge: Reading a book, and copying parts for fun.
Using knowledge: Reading a book, and copying parts for fun.

We (me and Katherine) butted heads over Math for the first few months. I think it was due to the program we were using, so after Christmas break I decided I just couldn’t it anymore and switched to Saxon (what I used in school). I ended up buying a workbook for John too, since he was figuring out concepts in his head while Kat. was sitting there with a blank stare. Since then, it’s been a lot better. Maybe it’s just easier? Maybe it makes more sense to me? Maybe there’s a bit of good old-fashioned sibling competition? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Spelling, grammar, reading, narration, handwriting…. All of those. I’d say we did about average in all those, except handwriting. Katherine decided she wanted to learn “fancy” writing (cursive), so once she completed her level 1 book I bought her the level 3 book which begins cursive. I think the thing that’s been the most difficult for me is narration. If the lesson is scripted and I have written out questions I can ask about the passage/poem/book then we have no problem, but if I have to come up with questions to prompt thinking about the passage/poem/book then I start drawing blanks. So if you have recommendations for me I will gladly take them! 🙂

<3

Science… nothing… I’m planning on starting nature journaling to see if that helps anything, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

Walks to the library to get more books... definitely homeschool!
Walks to the library to get more books… definitely homeschool!

History… we switched gears about a month ago, when I realized the Ancients weren’t working anymore. So we’re now doing a newly started study of American history using a living book approach. I had a huge realization regarding living books just after we switched over. I had been reading a history book (which I didn’t finish), and it was pretty dull and dry, not a ton of narrative, but if had had more narrative and been more in story form, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Which lead me to think the kids would probably get more out of those types of lessons. We’ll also be starting a timeliness soon, so am hoping that helps.

Lunch breaks!
Lunch breaks!
  • Changing up curriculum mid-year is totally fine.
  • It’s nice not being tied to the school system’s schedule.
  • Aim for fun stuff thrown into the mix.
  • Some days, sit down work just doesn’t happen, and that’s ok.
  • Lessons outdoors are a nice change, especially if everyone has spring-fever
  • Sometimes really long breaks (like 6… or… 8 weeks…) are just what is needed depending on the season of life. {Yes, we’ll be working somewhat into the summer, but I am planning a bit of a break, I kinda feel I have to now… my kids heard about “summer vacation” somewhere and are SUPER excited for it… even though I’m not sure they really know what it is, just that EVERYONE else does it, so it must be cool!)
  • Nearly every moment of every day is spent learning (even if its not “schoolwork”)
  • Using Knowledge: Made a plant sale and a sign.
    Using Knowledge: Made a plant sale and a sign.

Many of the things I learned this year I knew intellectually, meaning I read them in a book or a blog post. But I’ve come to a much more “real” understanding over the course of the year.

homeschool outdoors-11

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Linking with Coombe Mills for Country Kids

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoors: Finally

It’s been a rainy, very chilly week ’round these parts. Mind you, we DID have Star Wars day on the 4th to break up the monotony of being indoors – I let them watch part of Episode IV, which they thought was just the best thing ever. (The next day they asked if it was still Star Wars day to which I told them it wasn’t… then they declared that it was for them though because they hadn’t finished the movie, and as they were going to finish it that day, it meant the 5th was Star Wars day too… Anyways…)

The sun sorta kinda peaked out this morning for just a bit and I promptly sent them all out. Z. needed a little bit of distracting before his nap and I desperately needed to sweep the floors (which gets tricky with four little people constantly walking over them).

Outdoors
Yup, definitely tired.

Did a bit of inspecting of flies, ants and the ground in general

Outdoors-2

The Azaleas also bloomed. I could be wrong but this looks like the most blooms we’ve ever gotten on this plant

… Now just to keep Z. from pulling them all off…

They tried, pretty much unsuccessfully to play hide-and-seek. It’s become one of their favorite games in the last few weeks. They’ve been playing it ALL. OVER. THE. HOUSE. (which, honestly is usually not a problem, until you try to get something out of a closet and find you can’t actually get into said closet for all the items piled up and pulled down… ahem…)

Hide- And- Seek (sorta)

"hiding"
“hiding”
Counting. She's "hiding" behind him
Counting. She’s “hiding” behind him
Seconds after "being found"
Seconds after “being found”

Our grape vines are coming along

Outdoors-6

… Maybe this year we’ll have better luck with the squirrels, birds and little fingers getting to them??? A mama can hope 😉

Repairs and inspections were made to the fort that’s been up since last week (a record?)

And finally we discovered exactly one strawberry blossom.

Outdoors-11

(Also in imminent danger of Z, who has already de-leafed a few plants on the other side of the box.)

It was so, so, so nice to step outside and not too cold or rained on. I felt my mood lighten minutes after going out. Planning on an outing to the zoo tomorrow AM if the weather stays “not rainy”. 🙂

Outdoors-12
dirty kids = fun day

Happy Weekend!

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Linking with Coombe Mills for Country Kids

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall