Monday, September 28, 2009

Learning To Tell Time

We are working on learning to tell time this week. We are lucky to have a large clock floor game, and the kids are having so much fun learning with it. This game can be played in several ways. One way is to throw the big dice and then move the hands to the correct positions.

Here is my 5 year old learning with the game. She was very pleased with herself. I never imagined teaching kids to tell time would be so easy and fun. Another way this game can be played is using the kids as the hands of the clock. 

This is such a great way for my hands-on and very physical child to learn. She had down the concept in less than four turns. It will be interesting to see if it sticks in her mind. We will be exploring lots of ways to learn time this week, including good old worksheets. It sure is nice having this game to get them learning with a light and fun attitude. It is called Time Mat by Learning Resources.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Feed the Family for $75 Challenge ~ Last Week

Well, I did the last of my shopping for this month's challenge. This has been a hard week. We have had doctor and therapy appointments every day. We have eaten out fast food twice with coupons, but I still count this a huge success. 

This week's shopping ~

Sam's Club ~

spinach, strawberries, cherry tomatoes,two heads of lettuce, two containers organic ketchup, big bag of carrots, 10 pound bag of potatoes, big bag of corn chips, red grapes, green grapes, Total ~ $52.12

Ingles ~

big bag of cheese, two jars of spaghetti sauce, bag of dog food, two tubs of Smart Balance margarine with coupons, bananas, two bags of candy corn, Total ~ $28.24

Grand total for this week $80.36

Grand total for the month~ $322.92  Hooray!

Reflections ~ I am very low on food and ideas. Right now I feel like getting through the next 6 days is going to be really hard. Hopefully, I will get some inspiration soon to make the next few days easy going. My savings really came from making my own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Also, the kids did not miss juice at all. I was surprised about that. Amazing Savings (dent and scratch store) is very helpful to me, savings-wise, while the local Ingles is not. My "emergency" trip to Ingles produced very little food for almost $30. I will continue shopping this way but will increase the amount to $100 a week so I can take advantage of sales and stock up a bit.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Outdoor Nature Study ~ Flood

We are doing Outdoor Nature Studies with Barb-Harmony Mom this year. This week we were supposed to go looking for cattails. We did not find any cattails, because it has been raining here for a week and the river is flowing over its banks. For this reason, our nature study turned into learning about the flow of rivers and what it means when a river crests over its banks. We live very close to the river district and went to a park in it near our home. The park is separated by a road. One side was already closed, and the other side will probably be closed in a few hours, especially if it starts to rain again. The predictions are for 4 more days of rain and about 3 to 4 more inches of rain. After very, very strict guidelines were given out about staying near Mommy, we got out of the car and walked around a bit.
All of the area around this path is usually low lands that are sometimes muddy but not under water.

The spot with the bench is one of my kids favorite places to hang out at this park. As you can see, the river has left the banks and is running through here. You can kind of see the speed of the water from the picture under the bridge. It is moving at a very good clip. Luckily, there is very little debris so far.

Water is almost touching this bench, which is usually about 10 feet from the river. 

After checking out the flooding, the kids sat down to journal about their findings.

Happy outdoor adventuring!

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Girl that Cried "Pill" and Our Latest Field Trip

I made the decision this weekend that it was time for my youngest dd to learn how to swallow a pill. She will be six in just a few weeks. I want her to be able to swallow a pill so that she can take a small Cod Liver Oil pill. The children need the extra vitamin D, because we eat very little dairy products. With the fall setting in and the sun's strength depleting, it is important that she gets vitamin D. All of the other children have been taking Cod Liver Oil or Vitamin D pills for months. I knew that getting her to take a pill was going to be hard. However, I did not imagine that it would turn into such an event. There were many tears and spitting the pill out!  
The tears went on for a long time ... long enough to pull out the camera. She actually asked me, "Is this real? Is this really happening to me?" I guess she thought it was a nightmare. LOL.
My goodness! This child can carry on.

And on and on and on!!!

After sucking on several Cod Liver Oil pills which made them split open and spill into her mouth, throwing up once, and throwing three pills in different stages of destruction on the floor, she finally swallowed a pill. 

A teeny tiny pill ... this child is so dramatic! I don't know what to do with her sometimes. I feel better that I stuck with it, though. When she finally swallowed, she giggled and had to admit that it wasn't as bad as she thought it would be. She said that the worst part was when it melted in her mouth. Well, duh! That is why you are supposed to swallow it quickly.

On a happier note ~

This weekend, we went on our latest field trip to a small train museum in a small town only about 45 minutes from us. I forgot the camera, but it was lots of fun. Right when we arrived, a large freight train came through the depot. We were able to stand at the fence and watch it lumber by. It was thrilling to see a train so close, and the engineer waved at the kids. They were very excited about that. We were surprised to find the museum having an ice cream social. I love small towns. The kids enjoyed listening to the banjo music and eating ice cream sundaes. I have been teaching them the instruments in the orchestra and they could identify each one in the Bluegrass band. The bass had been difficult to identify when listening to classical music, but this time they were pleased to sit within a few feet of it and really hear the sound of that instrument. Honestly, school happens 24/7 if one just lets it.

We then moved on to the Gateway To The Mountains Museum and enjoyed it as well. Lastly, we watched the river which is really rising and about to spill its banks. It has been raining for 5 days here and is forecasted to rain for 10 more days. The news is predicting sizable flooding coming our way. Our home is on high ground but travel may require some detours in the coming days.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feed Your Family for $75 a Week #3

We are now in week 3 of Mary's challenge at Owlhaven. I am going about $5 to $10 over the goal each week and my cupboards are a bit more bare than I like.  Also, I am very low on produce and laundry detergent. I need to get to the Farmer's Market and also make some laundry detergent this weekend. I am pleased with how well it is going over all. Considering that in the past few months I have been spending closer to $700, I can see that there is real room for saving money in the future. I think I will make my goal for next month $100 dollars a week, so I will have more wiggle room. This way, I'll  be motivated to make this a lifestyle change instead of a one month challenge. 

Here is this week's shopping. 

Amazing Savings~

2 packages of organic ground beef, 1 package of cheese, 3 bags of chips, raspberry jam, organic beef bullion, bananas, red pepper, 1 pound cherry tomatoes, 1 tomato,  organic chicken nuggets, orange juice (we were not going to buy juice this month but the price was really good and two kids have the sniffles), Rice Dream, 2 organic packages of gluten-free fish patties (enough for one meal), 1 loaf of bread for dh's lunch, 2 boxes of gluten-free cheddar crackers, 2 bags of gluten-free bagels, 2 packages of organic sausage links, gluten-free pasta, dairy-free ice cream sandwiches, 2 bottles of sparkling strawberry juice (saving for Thanksgiving), 2 packages of hash browns, 1/2 pound organic jelly beans, 1 bag of cereal
Total~ $58.28

Walmart ~

2 pounds of grapes, jar of salsa, 5 ears of corn, 1 dozen eggs, Smart Balance margarine, 2 packages of nitrite-free lunch meat (for our on-the-road days), can of olives, 2 pizza crusts, 2 bags of cheese, gluten-free mac and cheese, 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, corn tortillas Total~$32.88

Grand Total~$81.16

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Timothy Goes to College

Well, he sort of is going to college. Timothy started some continuing education classes today at our local community college. With his special needs and learning challenges, we decided that taking very small steps into the college world was the best choice for him. He will be starting with continuing education classes and then try an audited class or two and then perhaps regular college classes. 

He loved his first class in woodworking and the class was small with only six students. He will be making a little wooden shoe next week. He will also be starting a class in digital photography tomorrow. Everything went just as we had planned and practiced. He got to class just fine and back to our meeting place. 

There was one funny thing, though. Timothy wanted to get a snack while he waited for me. He checked out the vending room and saw that they had a coffee machine. He really wanted some coffee, but did not have a cup to catch the coffee with. It never occurred to him that the machine would provide the cup! I only chuckled a little bit. Really, I am telling the truth. I am not sure if this indicates that he is really sheltered or just raised really earth-friendly. 

Off to his first class!

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's About Time

After more than a month of waiting, Little Red Riding Hood finally lost her second front tooth! The tooth had hung so long by one root that the gum was starting to grow over it, so we decided that it really needed to come out. It took lots of cajoling, ordering, and her brother's bribe of a roll of pennies to convince our little drama queen to let big brother pull it out. It came out with the lightest touch and more tears than a shot!

Timothy giving her a makeup hug after pulling it out. She calmed down pretty quickly, once she had a roll of pennies in her hand. She stopped mid-cry, in fact, and said, "Thank you, Tim."

Check out the new gap in her smile. Now she will have to learn the song, All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth!

We celebrated the loss of her tooth with our traditional ice cream cone for the whole family. We tried out a new place which had many unique ice cream flavors. We tested the maple syrup and bacon, coconut swirl, and black cherry fudge, but settled on our old favorites. Everyone had either peanut butter or else cookie dough. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Duchess Bakes a Cake

We just finished our latest FIAR book, The Duchess Bakes a Cake. It was great. It is set in the Middle Ages, which we will be studying very soon in history. The basic idea of the story is that the Duchess bakes a cake with no cooking knowledge. Talk about a recipe for disaster!
The children made a lap book from worksheets and mini books that I found at They also illustrated their favorite part of the book. We also made a castle kit that I bought on clearance more than a year ago. I have been saving it for when we got to the Middle Ages but decided to pull it out a little bit early to go along with this book.

Over the summer we had a math "map" on the wall for the kids. Each day we worked on a problem and put up a sticker when we worked out the right answer. The kids loved it. I wanted to include another math map in our schooling. I took word problems based on the story and placed them on a homemade chart. We used it for group math time. The kids liked working as a group. 

We also had our first meeting with our FIAR group. For this first time, I decided not to do a field trip. We had a meet and greet with some treats instead. The turnout was light, but I already have more families signed up for next month. We did several yeast experiments and made cake towers out of cupcakes. It was lots of fun.

 Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

$75 a Week Grocery Challenge

This is week two of the $75 a week grocery challenge put on by Owlhaven. Wow! I am really amazed at how well we are doing without compromising our organic, gluten-free eating habits. 

So here is this week's purchases:

Earthfare ~

Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to go to Earthfare this month, BUT we got a coupon for 50% off free-range baby back ribs and three ears of corn for free. My dh has been wanting ribs for months, and I couldn't pass up the deal. It made for a very nice Labor Day meal.  Babyback ribs (2LB) ~ $11 and 3 ears of corn ~ Free

Amazing Savings (dent and scratch store) ~

2 bags organic latkes, bananas, 3 bags of chips, 1 dozen cage-free eggs, 3 boxes gluten-free waffles, 1/2 pound organic jellybeans, 2 containers Soy Dream, 2 boxes of gluten-free "cheerios," 5 pound bag of potatoes, bag of organic cheese, 1 loaf bread, soy ice cream, organic fruit roll-ups Total ~ $32.71

Walmart ~  
5 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of flour (We are mostly gluten-free, but when it comes to homemade apple pie, one needs REAL wheat flour!!), bananas, 3 cukes, jar of dill pickles, 1 package of nitrate-free ham (for an Irish dish of cabbage, potatoes and ham), salt, 1 can baked beans, 1 jar peanut butter (all natural), cinnamon, popcorn, 1 pound grapes, 1 loaf of bread (half of this is going to a science activity), spaghetti sauce, ranch dressing, lettuce, 10 pound bag of ice, 2 pounds butter Total ~ $39.03

Grand Total for this week ~ $78.74  Hooray!  I think it is going well, even though we have been a bit over each week.

I plan on making refrigerator applesauce and several apple pies to freeze in the next day or two. It is nice to be putting some things up for later.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, September 7, 2009

Field Trip #3 Graveyard

So here is a confession for you. I love graveyards. I love walking through them, looking at all the gravestone styles, thinking about the history and lives that have gone before me. I love doing little math problems in my head to see how long people lived. I love moving the leaves and weeds away from old graves to reveal their names to the world again. I love reading the old names that aren't heard much anymore: Prudence, Horace, Constance, Judd, Jedediah, etc. I love how time slows and ebbs in a graveyard.

My kids and husband think that I am a bit strange in this way, but they play along and go with me to graveyards. They even have learned to like them, too. Of course, I have found over the years how to make it more interesting to them. I have taught them how to tend graves, walk through a graveyard properly, and do grave rubbings. 

Today we went to a new (to us) graveyard called St. John's in the Wilderness. What a nice church graveyard. We saw some new styles of gravestones, and the family plots were laid out with little rock walls around them. Everything was green with trees and moss. It was lovely.

There were a few graves like this one. All were circa 1880-1900. I think perhaps the enclosed area was a flower bed for the loved ones to tend.  Does anyone know differently?

Timothy doing a rubbing of a grave

We loved this sign.

This graveyard had a slave and freedmen graveyard, which led to a lively discussion on segregation even after death in olden times.

We also talked about the difference in extravagance of the slaves' stones versus that of the white people's stones.

All and all, another great field trip of discovery.

Blessings, Dawn

Ocean Unit Study

We are doing a unit study on oceans. We are enjoying the book, Pagoo. It is all about the life of a hermit crab and his travels. Since our betta fish passed away, we decided to replace it with three hermit crabs. They are loads of fun and easy to maintain. The kids watch them for long stretches of time.

The kids also enjoyed making their first wall mural. We found our outline on The kids used watercolors to fill in the mural.

Lastly, we all enjoyed measuring the length of a blue whale out on the sidewalk. We measured out 82 feet and then measured the kids in comparison. It would take 23 Little Red Riding Hoods or 20 Tom Sawyers or  20 Goldilocks to be the same length as a blue whale.WOW! That puts one's height in perspective!

See that black check mark in the photo pointing at the speck? That would be my dd holding the other end of the rope. That is one long whale!

Wow! Tom Sawyer, you don't even get past the tail fins!

Well that's what we are up to with oceans. There are so many more fun things we want to learn about oceans!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Holmes Educational State Forest ~ Field Trip #2

Last weekend we had the pleasure of going to the Holmes State Educational Forest. This park is really nice. The trails are very well marked, filled with green scenery and have lots of educational markers. Talk about a homeschool mom's dream!We did two of the trails this time. The first trail was the Talking Tree Trail. Along the trail were radio posts that would tell about different kinds of trees and about forestry in general.

The second trail we went on told all about fire fighting and forest fires. This lesson turned out to be timely with the fires going on around Los Angeles.

This Huey saw action in the Vietnam War and then served North Carolina for several decades. Now it sits in the park for kids to explore. The kids played forest fire for a long time.

We will definitely be going back to this park. We didn't get to go on the trails about soil erosion, water and soil and other topics that I can't remember. There were also lovely wooded picnic areas.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feed the Family for $75 a Week!

Mary at Owlhaven is challenging us to feed our families for $75 a week in the month of September. She has 10 kids and is taking the challenge!! (She does have a huge garden and promises that no one will go hungry!) So, here is the question ... Can a gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, organic meat, locally grown fruit and veggie family of six eat for $75 a week ... without Mom going crazy and dh or the teenager starving?? What am I thinking? The teenager is always starving anyway!

So here is the plan ... After several discussions with the family, we have decided to go without juice for the month of September. That will save us $15 a week. We also are going to eat only 1/2 to 1 pound of meat with the dinner meal five times a week. We will eat more beans. I will search the "scratch and dent" store that sells local organic meat (these are not cut nicely or else are in smaller portions than most folks want) and often has some gluten-free products. Then I will rotate between the farmer's market bulk section, Walmart and Aldies for everything else. Once I have the best deals of the week, I will make a menu. I will avoid EarthFare (the chain health food store in our area). I will try to avoid those quick runs to the store for one item that always turns into 10 items. 

MORE INFO ~ The teenager will be using $25 of his own money to buy snacks to keep in his room for night-time snacking. Also, I have about 5 pounds of meat and 3 pounds of fish already in the freezer. I also have about 4 quarts each of frozen beans, strawberries, and onions in our freezer  from our garden. I also have several pounds of gluten-free flours, 15 pounds of rice and 3 bags of beans. Otherwise, the cupboards are pretty bare, with just a few odds and ends.

Week One ~

Amazing Savings ("scratch and dent" store) -- organic cheese, 3 containers of Soy Dream, 5 bananas, 3 plums, 1 pound organic ground turkey, 3/4 pound free-range organic ground beef, 3 bags of BBQ chips (all natural), locally made strawberry jam, 2 gluten-free pasta and sauce kits, 3 boxes of gluten-free cereal, 1 box of organic candy canes, party platter of shrimp, organic latkes, frozen peas, BBQ sauce, 1 loaf of wheat bread (for dh's lunch, he isn't gluten-free at work), seltzer water Total~$35.51

Walmart ~ cage-free eggs, Smart Balance (margarine), 4 cans of tuna, Oriental Stir-Fry, 2 pounds of grapes, 4 cucumbers (locally grown), broccoli, lettuce, 10 pound bag of ice, trash bags, SOS cleaning pads, Trident sugar-free gum (for dd with braces), Ajax dish detergent, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide Total~ $33.15

Farmer's Market ~ One bushel of Gala apples  Total ~ $14.00

Well, the grand total for my first week of shopping is $82.66. That is $7.66 over my goal. Not bad for my first try and the apples will last a long time. So next week I only have $67.34 to spend. Yikes! (Of course, this is just a game so no one will go hungry!)

Blessings, Dawn