Sunday, April 29, 2007

great moments of the week

The other day Daniel was sitting on the porch after walking around the yard and a big grasshopper was on his jeans. Ellen was so excited that she went and got her little bug catcher and they put it in a container so they could get a closer look. Then I told her we needed to put it back outside. A few minutes later she walked back in with it on her arm! Instead of letting it out she said she put her hand out and he walked right onto her. She loved it. Arianna has always been a little unsure about holding any bugs besides ladybugs.

Something else very exciting happened this week. Ellen asked me if she could read a book to me! We always spend a short time each morning practicing reading. Ellen has been knowing all the letter sounds for a while but she didn't really like putting them together. So, she would sometimes protest when it came time to do our "reading". She would do the same thing when she was learning to ride her bike. I kept reminding her that when you first learn something it is hard work but eventually it is easier. That is a hard lesson to learn--I'm still working on that myself. But lately she really has started to recognize words and it's getting easier. I felt like it was a great relief and a great moment in my life when I saw that she wanted to read to me. Arianna is doing the same thing of course. She's still learning letter sounds and recognition. I'm sure she'll be reading soon since she wants to do everything Ellen is doing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

arianna flies

Watch closely as daniel carefully launches arianna! Ellen has learned how to be bounced so she will follow us around and jump right when she knows she will go highest. In this video she jumps a little too soon for the camera but she has been known to go a lot higher than that too!

Learning about animals the homeschool way

On Monday we went to the zoo for a class on animals that live underground. The girls like to watch the meerkats and so it was great for them to get to learn even more about them from the zoo keeper. We spent several hours at the zoo after the class and met up with some friends while we were there. Here they are feeding the goats near the farm area.
A few weeks ago, Daniel noticed a bird flying around the trees of our yard that we had never seen before. That is very exciting for us:) So we got out the identification books and figured out that they were called Cedar Wax Wings. We had enjoyed watching them and learning about them. It was so odd when on Wednesday morning we looked out our back porch to find a dead bird. It was one of the cedar wax wings. So, I called Daniel because I wanted the girls to be able to get a closer look but I wasn't about to pick it up or touch it. So he came home during a break from classes and examined it with the girls. They loved it.
On that same break from classes Daniel also noticed a bird nest in the bush near the back of our house. We got out more books and identified it as a mocking bird nest. WE have been checking on it and we will be keeping track of when the eggs hatch and the progress of the chicks.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Strawberries and fresh food

We went strawberry picking on Friday. It was organized by a homeschool group in the area. The girls and I picked 3 huge baskets of berries. After getting home and washing just one of them I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us:) I wanted to make strawberry jam. We ate the first basket fresh (I brought some over to our neighbor Ms. Nadene and then we brought some over to share for a playdate with some friends from the girls' dance class that afternoon.) The next basket we washed, sliced, and mashed for strawberry jam. I used a product called Panoma's Fruit Pectin that you can get at the health food store. I still had to add sugar but the pectin makes it go a lot faster. Then we let them sit in a water bath for about 5 minutes. Only one of the jars actually sealed properly and I'm not quite sure what I did wrong. I don't think it matters because we are going to go through the other 4 jars very fast because it is sooooo good. I finished cutting up the last of the strawberries this morning for at least one more batch of jam.

We cut our first head of lettuce from the garden this morning. I've been waiting patiently for it to get big enough. We ate it for lunch in a big salad with fresh strawberries we picked and the last of the brocolli from the garden. Daniel made us all some mint tea from our herb garden. He also baked some tempeh with herbs from garden and a bulb of garlic. Then we had bread and jam for dessert. It was a beautiful collection of tastes and colors. Does it sound like I'm bragging? It's because I am a little:) I think people sometimes think we are crazy because we don't eat a typical animal filled diet. But, how can you say we are missing out on anything? We truly enjoy our food. Especially when it is fresh and from our own garden.

Friday, April 13, 2007

bike riding

We've been practicing for a while. Ellen first rode without help a few months ago but we took a break and they were riding their bikes with training wheels on our deck and porch and carport. It became their new thing to do and they would set up courses around chairs and tools and take turns going first through it. I loved watching Ellen's face when she started getting comfortable on 2 wheels. She became so confident so quick. Now she is stopping and starting, riding through grass and up hills. We are able to walk a short distance to this public school playground and basketball court which is a perfect spot to ride around. Arianna is learning too although she is a lot more relaxed about it. She looks around and stops peddling but she doesn't want to stop trying. It's breaking our back. I can hardly hold her up on that tiny bike for more than a few minutes until Daniel takes over again bending down even farther to hold on and push her along.
I talk about singing in the video because before I started recording Ellen was singing Twinkle Twinkle little star in her own Rock version. It was so cute.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Uncle Stephen

We had an awesome visit with Daniel's brother Stephen. He's living in Charlotte now but is planning to move soon. We shared dinner and jumped on the trampoline. Daniel was having so much fun jumping with him because he finally got to jump with someone strong enough to double-bounce him. Stephen showed off his front and back flip skills and they laughed and horsed around together. He spent the night with us and Daniel took a night off from studying to hang out and watch Pride fighting online with Stephen (I don't like to watch it) and then American Idol. I'm into that show this season. I haven't voted but if I did it would be for Blake:)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Freeze?!

Friday we had our "Tea Party Club" and so we did easter egg hunt in the park then had cupcakes, craft and story. Here are all the girls going through the goodies.

Today we went over to a friend's house and did another easter egg hunt. These are some of the only boys that Ellen and Arianna play with.:) They loved dressing up with swords, shields, helmets, etc. They have a beautiful back and front yard with no grass--mostly edible greens and native plants.
This last picture is of our sad garden. We've had freezing temperatures for the past 2 nights and will have them again tonight. I was just watching the news and they said that Columbia set a record low of 26 degrees--the lowest temp recorded for the month of April ever. How sad for our poor little garden. We have been putting straw, blankets and tarps over everything. Our fig trees look frost bitten. Hopefully things will come back. We'll see. . .

Friday, April 06, 2007


I took my dad and Davie to Charleston for the day. They had never seen it and I have only been to the city one other time back in college. We walked along "rainbow row," had lunch at a local brewery, walked through the city market and then went to Folley beach which is just about 10 mins from downtown. We did a lot in one day but it wasn't stressful. Everyone was very relaxed and we all really enjoyed ourselves. The weather was perfect for us and the town was absolutely gorgeous with the azaleas, dogwoods, and wisteria blooming. We were sad that they had to leave on Thursday.
Eating Italian ice and sitting by a fountain by the ocean at Waterfront Park. We all couldn't get over how clean and nice the city was. Well they were comparing it to New Orleans which is a lot like Charleston only dirtier.
This was the girls favorite part of the day--playing at the beach. It was very windy and the water was freezing but that didn't stop them. They found some friends that were from Cincinatti and played for about an hour with them until we had to leave.
Saying goodbye is so hard. Can't wait to see them again this summer.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Powells visit

We've been hosting lots of friends and family lately and it is great! Matt and Ginger were in town for a conference at USC so they came over for dinner tonight. We had a great time playing with their little Madeline Grace who is almost 3 months now.

Nana and Daddy Bill visit Columbia

My Dad and Davie drove 12 hours on Saturday from Baton Rouge and will be staying here in town at a hotel until Thursday morning. We just hung around the house on Sunday and they rested after the long drive. We all went out to eat that night. This picture is us walking to the restaurant. The background is very ugly. Columbia actually looks beautiful right now with tons of dogwoods, wisteria, and azaleas blooming everywhere. We spent today shopping and Nana bought the girls and I some things from the mall. Tomorrow we are going to Charleston! I thought it would be a shame for them to be this close to the SC coast and not go to Charleston. I haven't been there in years so I've done some searches and hopefully found some nice places to visit. I might even attempt to stop at the beach for a little while just to let the girls play.
On Sunday, while we were all hanging around the house, Daniel and I added some new beds to the garden. This is a picture of a teepee and tunnel. We have planted green beans to grow around the tunnel and birdhouse gords and flowers to climb the teepee. We found the idea in a great gardening book called Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots. We also built one more bed and planted more tomatoes, basil, cantelope, cukes, squash, peppers and flowers.