in the garden

It's explosion time! We wait and wait and wait for the weather to get good, and boy howdy, when it's good, it's good. Everything is finally waking up...blossoming...setting fruit and flower...it's such a pretty thing.

I'm trying out straw as mulch on the potatoes this year. High hopes for a simplified harvest. I just noticed today that the peas are coming in. Glory be! The herb bed is my favorite spot by far. I have dreams of a someday-garden with giant swaths of chamomile and lemon balm and all the zillions of different kinds of basils. The carrots are coming in nicely, right along with the weeds (hagulp). The three plants behind the carrots are ground cherries, which I have read about but never tasted. Here's hoping. I got the broccoli and cabbage seedlings mixed up, so I haven't known which was which until now -- little heads starting to form on each, finally revealing their true factions (ha! I just finished reading Divergent). I'm a first-time corn grower this year. Looking forward to some stalk-to-pot sprints later in the summer. Maren's marigolds are getting ready to blossom. We grew them from seed -- her special choice from the seed catalog this year -- and she is going to hit the moon when it happens. The zucchini are getting ready to flower, too. I know I'll shake my head at their abundance before long. 

And flowers. Never enough flowers.


our 1st grade curriculum

Maren took this picture. I love it.

I got really inspired yesterday and whipped out all of the required paperwork for this year's homeschooling adventures -- typed, printed, addressed, stamped, sent, DONE. Our state is one of the stricter states as far as homeschooling law goes. They want to know your basic plan ahead of time, which annoys me, and obviously you could just fudge it, but secretly I'm kind of glad that I had to articulate it all. It makes me feel more committed. (Remind me of this sentiment in, I dunno, six months.)

So here's what we're using for 1st grade stuff:

English Language
Handwriting Without Tears for handwriting and minimal grammar. I LOVE it. The lessons are short, totally do-able, and fun. And I like the way they use simple double lines instead of the usual two-lines-with-a-dotted-middle-line thing. We do HWT every day, which takes about 15 minutes, and the girls always enjoy it. I may add in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind later on if I feel like Lizzy is ready for it.

All About Spelling for, well, spelling. I've read a lot of positive reviews about this program. I'm a pretty darn good speller myself, but I couldn't tell you a single rule beyond I before E except after C to save my life. We'll probably do this every day.

Singapore Math 1A, Standards Edition. I like it a lot so far. Lots of reviewers say that the teacher's manual isn't necessary, but I am clinging to it like it's a life boat in the open ocean. The TM also has a ton of ideas for extra enrichment activities and simple games to reinforce the concept; to me, that alone is worth the (pretty low) price. Math is every day, usually first thing.

The Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times and The Story of the World, Activity Book 1. The first is a read-aloud book where each chapter explains and imagines, in simple language, different periods in world history. The layout is mostly chronological, beginning with early nomads and ending with the fall of the Roman empire. So, once a week, we read a chapter together, find some cool library books, and do some of the activities and worksheets from the activity book. This week we colored a map of the fertile crescent and read some picture books about a cave boy and wooly mammoths. Next week we get to make a model of the Nile. Cool?! History is on Mondays and Wednesdays.

DK First Animal Encyclopedia and DK First Human Body Encyclopedia are our main science texts. Every week we read a double-page spread from one of these books (we've started with animals), then  get more books on that specific animal or topic at the library. We love it. Science is on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Our schedule is pretty simple. We have "learning time" (she doesn't like calling it "school") Monday through Thursday mornings. Fridays are off, unless there's some fun craft or small catch-up thing we need or want to do. We go for three weeks, then have one week off, year-round. At least, that's the plan.

When the girls wake up, they get a few minutes to hang out before breakfast, then they do their chores immediately (I've found that the days I let them play in the mornings are always the worst days, which makes me sad...they just start fighting and being snotty and it's just better for everyone that we get the work done first thing). As soon as chores are done, it's learning time. So far, we can get all the formal stuff done in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Just like everyone else, informal learning is happening all the time -- like the dead baby bird we found in the garden tonight, or dance class, or the frogs on our walk today... anyway, there's our schedule.

I hope this is helpful for someone out there reading along. I feel like homeschooling is really exploding and is becoming not quite so outlandish or, well, weird anymore. Or maybe that's just my anxiety talking. Whatever the case, I can tell you that I haven't had one single grocery store clerk or church member or random passerby give me one solitary rude, disdainful, or even questioning comment. More often, it's more like, "REALLY?? Can you tell me how you're doing it, 'cause I've been thinking about it, too..."


serious boy.

This boy has been in bed for two hours and editing these pictures just makes me want to go get him up and nibble his cheeks. He is growing up so fast. Still not crawling (he is 10 months), but trying oh so hard and getting oh so mad when he can't reach what he wants (which is e v e r y t h i n g).

I have been geeking out about:

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 4 -- there's still time to join in, but videos are due by June 10th. I've looked through the music but haven't gotten up the courage to sing to the computer in a room by myself. Isn't that funny?

Aquaponic Gardening. I have this book on order at the library and I am looking forward to having my mind melted.

Marion Cunningham's Custard-Filled Cornbread. Lizzy and I made some to go with our black bean chili tonight, and it. was. magical.

Aimee's house. I love her clean, uncluttered, vintage style. I also love bright/happy/clutter-ish vintage style, but when it comes to my own house and clutter, I can't deal. Clean surfaces are my happy place (thanks, Mom).

Classical education. It's our road, and I'm so happy/relieved to have finally settled. More on that to come.


daddy made a swing

Richard rigged up a swing in our backyard this weekend. It's a little tricky for the girls to navigate by themselves, but they'll probably be swinging on it upside-down hanging on by their toes by the end of the summer. Lately we've been ending most days just hanging around in the yard, not doing anything in particular, just playing tag and swinging and talking. Max's favorite thing is when Daddy holds him while they chase the girls around and around and around. That baby can't wait to get movin and shakin.  

Lizzy is playing on the floor next to me right now and just thought of a solution to a problem, then said, "Wow, my mind just popped out of my head!" That girl.