Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Review: Cruise of the Arctic Star


I read this book aloud to my children, ages 9 and 6. In the novel, the author, Scott O'Dell (author of Island of the Blue Dolphins and other works) travels up the coast of California in his own boat, with his wife as navigator, and a friend and one hired person as crew. Each chapter talks a little bit about the author's boat travels (including lots of boating/ship terms and references) alternating with O'Dell's musings about the history, geography or flora/fauna of the California coast. For example, as he leaves the San Diego port, he talks about that, reflects on the battle of San Pasqual in the area in the past and comments on kelp beds and recent environmental history. O'Dell is very much interested in environmental preservation, which comes through clearly in this writing. He has a clear love of the CA coast.

In our studies, we used the book as a jump point in our history study. So when O'Dell talked about Jed Smith in history, we broke off to read more about Jed Smith.

We found the boat/ship terminology a bit tough going at times, especially with my 6yo 1st grader. Even I found it a bit tedious, but then again I'm not a sailor. If you are, that may be the best part of the book for you! History fans will find much to enjoy though in his engaging recounting of some of the events in California's history. My young children love his fictional writing, and much enjoyed this work of his as well. This book is not written for children but those interested in California history will probably much enjoy it.
Of note, we did this book as part the Beautiful Feet History of California Study Guide, which suggests a nice collection of literature from which to study California history.  The guide includes the books, a suggested schedule and suggested comprehension/discussion questions as well as notebooking activities for a full California study.  The guide is suggested for grades 4-8, but we are doing it with a 4th grader and a 1st grader.  My 4th grader is loving it, and my 1st grader struggles with some selections more than others but is overall getting a lot from the study as well. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sea World holidays

IMG_4163, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

This past weekend we went to Sea World. They are fully into holiday mode there. The kids loved the snow to play in (made snow that is, not naturally occurring of course). We rode a few rides, saw a few animals, most notably the penguins, which Noah has been studying. Then we had to stop by the decorate your own cookie booth, where we purchased giant sugar cookies that came with a little tub of frosting, M&Ms and sprinkles. A friendly North Pole elf came along as Lily was about to chow down on her cookie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butterfly hatched today

IMG_4118, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

We had another chrysalis on our play structure for the last couple weeks. It hatched today finally. We have been watching it daily. The kids were so excited to see it before it left today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monarch butterful chrysalis?

IMG_4065, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Found on the basketball this morning in the yard, thus meaning no basketball, but the kids are thrilled anyway. We think it is a monarch? Hopefully we will get to watch for a while and see if we are right.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picture of our workbox system

Picture of our workbox system, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Ah, my much neglected blog. Although it is better to have a neglected blog than neglected kids. Life is going well but busy busy. We are doing a workbox system this year. Here is a picture of our workbox system. The top row is for Zach's "boxes," using magazine files. Noah has the same setup. Lily wanted her own stuff so she has the latch boxes. Hers can then hold small pieces/games without any problem if dropped. All are loving their "boxes" system.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A big change for next year's curriculum

I have been considering it for a while, but I'm finally going to make the break from Sonlight in the fall.  In a lot of ways, I will miss it, but we are all ready for something new.  As the years have gone by, I have removed bits and pieces here and there (bible section, etc) and added what is a better fit for our family.  I became very unhappy with their revised language arts, the new one not being what my oldest child needs at all.  So I was down to history and science, and the science jumps all over the place, something that has become less and less tolerable for me, feeling that I'm not providing a sufficiently solid base on which to build.    I loved it in the lower cores for sure, such fun memories of those books.  I'm even still happy with the history selections, enjoying the nonfiction spine mixed in with tons of historical fiction and nonfiction to really bring history alive.  That is truly where Sonlight shines for sure.  

So, you ask, what are we doing in the fall?  Okay, so maybe you didn't ask but I'll tell you anyway.  After trying out one unit of Tapestry of Grace last year (and deciding it was not for me), we are going to just go with the classical education 4-year history cycle, and rely heavily on topics and recommendations in The Well Trained Mind.  I have to tell you, it feels rather odd to think of flying along without my humongous binders full of resources and schedules from Sonlight.  I don't think I would have felt nearly so grounded as a new homeschooler without those.  But I put in my order, and I anxiously await my materials for fall, some of which I have never seen in person due to not being able to find them locally.  I have my core subject spines ordered, but I will be adding in lots and lots of the historical fiction we so love here, ala Sonlight style.  We will probably be trolling the internet for good recommendations to correlate with our time period being studied (cycle year 4 by the way, modern times).  Anyone with good blog recommendations for me?  :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lily in the Garden today

IMG_3255, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Just a picture today - Lily in the garden.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Garden, early in the season

IMG_3179, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

The weather has been so strange this spring, warm and then cold, warm and then cold. My lettuce doesn't know whether to bolt or get frost bitten. But I'm working on it. You can see my nice pak choy bolted - bummer! Then the very next week my new tomatoes got frost. But I'm keeping going and hoping to have a bountiful summer garden.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I love Snickerdoodle cookies. A month or two back, Krusteaz brand was running lots of promotions on their cookie line mixes, including in store deals and coupons. At Ralphs locally, the store deal with the coupon combined to make the mixes free. So of course I have pantry full of the mixes now, since I love coupon deals. In any case, we are slowly using those mixes up. Thank goodness they are fairly tasty, right? Today I made up another box of them as cookies, but was contemplating just how incredibly much of the cinnamon sugar mix they include in the box to roll the dough in. Seriously, it is 3x the amount needed! We don't eat cinnamon sugar toast or anything that typically uses that kind of mix, and I hated to waste it. It finally occurred to me how best to use up that premixed cinnamon and sugar in our house ... the oatmeal cinnamon bread from TheFrugalGirl we love so much. So today I made 2 loaves of the bread plus the 2 dozen cookies, and that little packet in the boxed mix provided just the right amount of cinnamon sugar mix for all three. I love it.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Eden says Happy St. Patricks Day!

IMG_3058, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Our littlest wishes everyone a happy early St. Patrick's Day. :)

First morning in her new big girl bed

IMG_3113, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Lily last night got a big girl bed (toddler bed), and spent her first night in it. It went very well. She got new bedding too to match. We moved her HUGE purple body pillow in with her, which she likes to cuddle with. Here she is waking up after a pleasant night in her new bed with only one incident at about 4 a.m., where she either fell out of bed or woke up disoriented. We got her back in, and she slept until nearly 9 a.m.!