Saturday, August 24, 2013

THE BEGINNING OF HOME SCHOOL

I'm about to enter into my first year of home schooling Aiyana (my 6 year old).  I feel a little bit insane for doing it, just because my educational background has not prepared me to teach.  I studied psychology, the only good that is going to do me is helping me identify when I'm having a nervous breakdown over the whole homeschooling process. LOL!

I think I'm prepared.  Thanks to my wonderful friend Teresa over at Homestead Notes I was able to find the right curriculum for Aiyana.  We are going to be using Oak Meadow, which from what I've read is based on the same principles as the Waldorf Schools.



Waldorf schools emphasize the teaching of the whole child—head, hands, and heart.

I've reviewed the curriculum several times and I love it.  90% of it is hands on learning and what child doesn't want a hands-on education over sitting at a desk all day? None that I know of.  I think even my 13 and 17 year old are a bit jealous that they didn't get to learn using Oak Meadow.

I'm not the most organized structured person so I've decided the best way for me to start is to keep Aiyana on the same schedule as her sisters.  She'll be home schooled 5 days a week, 9 am - 3 pm.  That way her sisters are not around to distract her (they'll be at school) and I won't feel like I'm all over the place.  I think in the beginning it will be easier if I stick to what I know, which is the pattern the schools follow, except most of what we'll do will be outside and hands-on as oppose to sitting at a desk all day. Once I get more comfortable and start to see what Aiyana's learning style is, then I'll make adjustments.

I'm not as nervous as I was initially.  Having friends like Teresa and Natalie give me home schooling advice has helped a lot.  Teresa has been such a great source of information and always a confidence booster, I can't thank her enough.  If it wasn't for her I would never have found the courage or the right curriculum to be able to home school.

The last thing I had to prepare after getting the Oak Meadow materials was a system for keeping track of grades, subjects we will be focussing on, field trips, etc... I decided to just start with a search online and when I found a few sheets to guide me I downloaded a bunch of cute clip art from Etsy and made what I think will help me keep Aiyana's education in order.  Since it seems like everywhere I looked someone wanted money for just these basic sheets I've decided to upload them here and share them for free.  Why would someone expect others to pay for a silly little grading sheet? I hate when people charge for EVERYTHING.

So... here they are.  Hopefully they can help anyone who may be just beginning to home school like me :)
















If you have any trouble downloading these, please let me know.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FUN IN THE BOUNDARY WATERS


I meant to post this much earlier but I didn't get around to uploading all of my BWCA pictures to the computer until now.

In early July our family took a trip up to the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area), one of our most favorite places to visit in the U.S.  We spent 4 days canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping in addition to looking for bears and wolves.  Unfortunately we didn't find any wolves or bears :( but maybe next time.  

It was a great trip (aside from the whole "losing my dog" situation).  Our guide Kate was absolutely amazing!  We met Kate back in winter 2011 when we were up in Ely for a Wintergreen dogsledding adventure but we didn't have the pleasure of her guiding us on any sort of trip until this year.  She's fantastic with kids and overall just wonderful with families.  Our daughter Middy is tough to please but Kate kept her busy, didn't take no for an answer, and in the end Middy really enjoyed being in the BWCA again and having Kate as a mentor.  Middy learned to bait a hook with leeches, remove her fish from the line, build and start a campfire, prepare and cook camp food, identify wild plants, etc...  Some of the valuable things that not many kids get to learn today.

I really liked that the trip our guide Kate and the owner Jason from Ely Outfitting Company planned for our family was perfect for the energy and enthusiasm level of our kids.  We stayed at one camp site this year, were able to visit several different areas in the BWCA, divide equal time between hiking around and canoeing and we also had some fun fishing and the kids were able to squeeze in some swimming.  Kate is such an awesome guide that when we had one day of solid rain she still managed to keep the entire family entertained by playing cards and other games.  

I recommend Ely Outfitting Company and any one of Jason's guides to anybody interested in visiting the BWCA and not wanting to think about possibly getting lost because you have no idea how to read a topography map or a compass (like me) or if you don't want to go through all the work of packing enough food, finding and transporting a canoe and other equipment.  With Ely Outfitting Company it is all done for you and worth every penny spent.  

Here are some of our pix from this years visit to the BWCA:
Gypsy resting in the canoe.

Pure and beautiful BWCA water (courtesy of Kate Ford).   

Aiyana releasing her floating art (courtesy of Kate Ford).  Kate had the kids create art from pieces of nature and when they released their floating art into the lake they were to make a wish.
Sunset in the BWCA (courtesy of Kate Ford).  Kate got up really early to take some fantastic shots of the BWCA.
Early morning in the BWCA (courtesy of Kate Ford).


Middy with one of the fish she caught (courtesy of Kate Ford).  This little baby was returned to the lake.

Me showing Aiyana how to bait a hook with a worm (courtesy of Kate Ford)
This was actually a good lesson for Yana.  She learned a bit about the process of fishing and what it all entails in addition to seeing a living thing going from nature to her plate.  She decided that keeping fish and eating it wasn't for her (she liked catch and release much better), she also decided on this trip that she'd much rather use fake bait over live bait.

Kate and Middy sunk the canoe and played around in the water with it (courtesy of Kate Ford)

Kate making us dinner.
Pictographs (If I remember correctly these were done by the Ojibwe).


Kate, Maya, Gypsy,  Middy, Ulises, Me, Aiyana

Our little crew in the BWCA
Maya Fishing.
Tea made from nature (I forget the name of the plant)
Scenery from above our campsite.
Wintergreen.
Ulises and I.


Our state bird: the loon.

Kate teaching Middy to put a leech on a hook (you have to look closely to see the leech on Kate's boot)
Aiyana waiting for a big fish.


Friday, July 12, 2013

GOODBYE TECHI

We just returned from four days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a 2 day visit to Ely.  Initially our trip north was filled with lots of excitement because not only were we going to be able to relax for the first time in 2 years but we were also going to meet a fellow wolf advocate that I'd only had the pleasure of knowing through Facebook.  Unfortunately three hours into our 4 hour road trip things took a turn for the worst.  
We had all four of our dogs with us and two of our chi's were going to stay at a kennel in Embarrass, MN (the other two were going to the BWCA).  About 15 minutes before we arrived at Black Wolf Kennels, which is where Lisa, a fellow wolf advocate and owner of the kennel lives, one of our male chi's (Techi) started having trouble breathing.  Lisa took one look at him and sent us to the Ely Vet Clinic just north of where she lives.  His tongue was bluish, he kept panting, it wasn't good.  Long story short, Techi didn't make it.  
Techi has a story (like all of my dogs), we bought him as a pup, the neighbor boy (spawn of satan) poisoned him, against the vet's advice and through my tears I begged Dr. Pomeroy to revive my little dog, which he did, and like the vet warned Techi was never the same again.  Fast forward 7 years and now we are standing in the middle of the Ely Vet Clinic and I'm being told once again, in the subtle way that vet's tell you, it is time to let my dog go.  Anyone who has had to put a pet to death knows how painful it is (and I say death and not sleep because death is what it is).   You're being "advised" to take life from another living being and it can really make a person physically ill.  It's the second time I've personally had to do it (Chelsea, another one of our chi's had a brain tumor) but this time I walked out before our dog was sedated and left my husband to deal with the rest.  I'm not good with death, never have been and never will be no matter if it is a human or an animal it always hurts and I never get over it.  
Then, to make matters worse, while we are going through the process of losing our  beloved chihuahua my daughter comes running into the exam room yelling that our female chihuahua Franny was dying.  She was holding a limp Fran in her arms so the vet scooped her up and began treating her immediately.   The initial diagnosis was possible seizure or stroke, I don't think there was ever any certainty about what it could be but it was touch and go as to whether she'd recover.   Fran did recover but had to stay behind for observation in Ely when we went into the BWCA (to avoid the stress).  
We've returned home now... one dog less.  Techi's energy has disappeared into the universe and all we have left of him are his ashes and our memories.  
R.I.P Techi boy


Techi meeting Gypsy
Techi lounging while Middy decorates his face with American Girl Doll Glasses


THANK YOU Lisa Fabish at Black Wolf Kennels for running a really great dog kennel (loved everything about it), taking awesome care of our Santi and for getting Techi excellent medical care.  I wish you and I were neighbors :-) You are a genuinely caring person! So happy we finally met face to face.  We will see you in a few months... 
 
I'll be back to post about the BWCA trip in a couple days.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

GYPSY vs. LEMON

I saw this funny video on YouTube showing various dogs fighting with a citrus fruit and so I thought I'd see how my dog Gypsy, the one that EATS EVERYTHING, would react to a lemon.

YouTube Video "Dog vs. Citrus"



My Dog Gypsy


Gypsy didn't eat the lemon (even if she wanted to eat it I wouldn't let her - I'm sure it isn't good for dogs), she took one lick and what you see in the video was her reaction to it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

STRAWBERRIES!!

If you can't grow your own do the next best thing... PICK SOMEONE ELSES!!

The family and I drove over to Sam Kedem's  Farm in Hastings yesterday and picked over 12 pounds of big juicy organic strawberries.  Sam is the only one I know that grows organic PYO fruits, at least within driving distance from my house so we visit his farm several times a summer to get blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  Since I didn't get started until later in the evening I only canned 3 jars of strawberry jam.  As you can probably tell by my photo collage my jars have that ugly foamy swirl in them.  I've read in one of my Ball canning books that the foam can lessen the shelf life of the jam so I'll make sure to eat them in the next month.  I should have spent some time scraping off that frothy mess but I was just so darn excited to making jam again that I didn't pay attention to that last step.

Anyone have an opinion on the foamy stuff that appears when boiling the strawberries?  To what extent does it shorten the shelf life?



For anyone else that would like to try making strawberry jam I have two recommendations:

My friend Teresa turned me on to this ebook by her friend Robin.  It is very informative!  I've always struggled to find good canning books that are easy to understand for the beginner but also contain recipes that even the experienced canner will enjoy (once I get there); Robin's book is perfect!

The other "very easy" go to source for canning strawberries is this video:



I don't recommend the video for those wanting to learn about canning per se but more for those who just want to whip up a small batch of strawberry jam quickly without getting into all the details about canning.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

STRAWBERRY FAIL

I can't help but be envious of my friends who have a bumper crop of strawberries this year.  I planted strawberries 5 years ago and it seems, once again, that I made an error.

My friend Teresa (domestic goddess, writing genius, homesteader extraordinaire) over at Homestead Notes is my go-to person when I struggle with gardening (and pretty much everything in life) and I've learned from her hubby that my crop of strawberries are just too old to give me the bounty that I really crave *sigh.  So, it seems I may have to start all over.



This year I was so pleased with myself for actually getting my butt to the garden store to pick up some hay.  It took me 5 yrs to learn that hay needs to be spread below the patch of berries (if they are as sparse as mine are) to keep the berries clean and to help avoid rotting.   In years passed we'd get an ok amount of berries but either the birds would eat them or they'd rot immediately.  Well... the hay is in place but I highly doubt we'll get any strawberries since my patch is too old.  Just look at them, 90% of these were planted 5 years ago... they should have multiplied by now.




I did have them in raised garden boxes which I don't think helped very much since the runners had nowhere to go, so I did remove those this year.

If anyone has any advice on how you started up your patch and made them flourish, please let me know.

I've also planted a variety of strawberry plants together and wonder now if that was a mistake :(



Friday, June 7, 2013

SURPRISES! WHO DOESN'T LOVE A SURPRISE?

I wasn't sure if I should blog about this or not because I'm not 100% sure the person who made these for me wants her art out in the world but I just couldn't help myself.

I was given these as a gift a little while back and it was a complete surprise.  The young woman who gave them to me is a gifted artist.  I've been telling her she should sell her art on etsy or join in on some art fairs but she maintains that she only enjoys drawing as a way to relax, nothing more.

So to M.E.F... I am very touched by the fact you took the time to draw these for me.  They will not end up on a shelf or in some closet, they will be on full display in my home for all that enter to see and appreciate.  Thank you so much for thinking of me, the wolves are beautiful and YOU are very very talented.