Kids, crafts, country life and more...

This is what you get when you mix two toddlers, two border collies, a Shetland pony, two cats, a gaggle of turkeys, a former construction worker, a former lawyer and the family cattle ranch. Thanks for visiting. All images copyrighted. Do not use any text or image without permission.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


 For Christmas, Ben got me a bee box and pre-ordered some bees.  We set them up in Eagle and left them there until things were flowering up here.  Ben's so calm, he approaches the bees with no protective gear.  Me, I'm still a little afraid.  We just added the top box which will be the honey for us.  The bottom two are for brood and honey to sustain the bees over the winter.  It's been fun and really easy, there's not much work to it yet.  I guess they'll be some harvesting and winterizing work we better study up on, but so far so good.

Wrapping up School

Well, we finished our first full year of homeschooling in May.

I would say it definitely went out with a whimper, not a bang.  We just sort of transitioned into summer without any formal end of school.  It's been a really interesting year.  We began the year using some Montessori for math and language with Five in a Row for everything else.  I loved Five in a Row.  The way it works you study the same story all week, with different aspects everyday, for instance the illustrations with an art lesson one day, the science in the book the next.  This went pretty well but I didn't really feel like our math/language was going forward in any sort of organized progression.  So we tried All About Spelling and added Life of Fred for math.  The kids loved Life of Fred.  I was still feeling disjointed, so I got a comprehensive curriculum, Moving Beyond the Page along with Singapore Math.  We hated it!  I got to see firsthand how the term "bellyaching" came about because as soon as we brought out their math books they'd start complaining that their stomachs hurt.  They cried and complained, turning it into torture.  

So we took more of an unschooling approach and joined up with some other unschoolers a few times in Boise and Eagle.  While I love the idea of kids just learning from their environment, I felt like there are just some things we need to work on.  My friend Kate got a job at the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville and I looked into their materials, ordered a bunch.  I read Amanda Ripley's "Smartest Kids in the World", some Montessori books, a couple homeschool organization books, and many more.  I have read enough books about education to have my master's degree - but I was still feeling lost. 

 The kids are smart and are doing well, but I loved their experience at Montessori Academy and I want them not just to move along, but to be thriving academically.  So, when another Montessori mom visited in July I got remotivated and started reading and organizing the next year.  I'm going to use the Scope and Sequence of the Core Knowledge Foundation to make sure we're addressing things, and we're going to do a literature based program called "Build Your Library" that was written by a homeschool mom.  It's basically a secular Charlotte Mason approach - lots of reading and writing, some nature study.  We'll see how it goes. 

While we're not "doing school" this summer, our lives are so full of learning every day. 

Clyde caught a salamander in Eagle in the Spring.

Alice is a reader like me, so many books, so little time!

We made 3D geometric figures out of marshmallows and toothpicks. 

This summer we're collecting and identifying wildflowers.

Alice's handwriting isn't great, but she figures out how to get the point across.

We made a lot of potions and did a lot of kitchen chemistry this spring, 
it was a favorite of both kids.

Spring with our Wise Cousins

There are 12 magical days where the children are in age order, and this year we missed them.  So, when the Wises came for an Easter Egg hunt we took some photos.  You'd think it would start getting easier to get them all in a photo, but they sure bounce around!  

We brought a new calf to the house that day and dubbed her "Carrot Cake" - she have those kids her all.  The 6 of them could barely bring her in, but they got her (with some help from Ben).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Branding 2014

How awesome is this?!!  What, you don't know?  This is the most awesome development - Mommy no longer has to get out of the car because Clyde can get the gate!  Well, the green gates at least.  It'll be another couple of years before he can get the wire gates.

And look at him here -helping Daddy wrestle those calves.  Wow!  What a difference a year makes.  It caught up to us today though when he wasn't scared by a crazy aggresive cow.  He did get out of the way before she charged, but she was so close!

I made 2 lunches this week, plus I did a lot of the actual branding.  It was amazing to not feel like I had to be watching the kids.  They are really getting independent.  I made calzones one day and enchiladas the next.

 Alice mostly hung out on the truck the first day but by the third day she was helping Daddy too.

We've got one more Idaho bunch and then it's off to Oregon.  


Our baby Chocolate is really growing.  Yesterday he was joined by "Carrot Cake" - a little malnourished red calf that we found at the branding.  Clearly her mom wasn't doing a good job so she got to come home with us.  All our friends, including this little boy who came down the hill to play, love the calves.  Clyde told me today that he must be doing a good job because Chocolate is really growing.

Big Girl

Alice has lost a lot of teeth.  This is number 5 or 6, but it's so central it really made her look like a big kid to me.  Here she is, awake and excited at 10 p.m.  Couldn't sleep for all the excitement.  She sure made it hard on the tooth fairy!