Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to School?

I guess you could say we are back to school although we never really stopped. The girls and I did ease up a little. They continued with math, reading, and writing most days. We took lots of field trips that were considered science like picking berries, ranger programs at the natl. forest, and bike rides all while making our nature journal. Of course we were gardening, baking, building, and exploring around the house. Daniel taught one class each summer session which allowed him to have flexibility to be home while studying for his qualifying exam and preparing/grading for classes. It was so nice to all be able to take breaks and eat meals together during those summer days.

Well, that is officially over now. Daniel has started back his fall semester teaching 6 classes. One of the classes he is subbing and will only be teaching for the first 2 weeks. He is also teaching two classes of Contemporary Moral Issues and one Inductive Logic at Midland's Tech and two classes of Deductive Logic at USC. He will also try to fit into his schedule research and writing of his own for conferences and his dissertation.

The girls started back to ballet this week. They will also be doing a homeschool coop which starts next week where we will get together with other families once a week for a few hours to take science, world cultures, writing and recorder all taught by other parents. I want to write more about the specific schedule and curricula we are using at another time. I've uploaded the poem below that the girls memorized this week. It is by Robert Louis Stevenson and was used in Ellen's copywork notebook. Copywork is one thing that we do every day. Again, I'll write more about that in another post. I just wanted to explain the video I put up this morning.

Our Homeschool

I know some of you read this and have no idea what we actually do for our homeschool. So, I would like to explain some things in this post.

In order to be legal in the state of SC we are a member of a Homeschool Association called REACH. (It is kind of complicated but there are 3 different options to choose from to be legal. Choosing an association is just one option. And, there are many associations to choose from! I will not go in to any more detail about that here. If you are interested check here for more details on SC law.) Within that association we have to attend 2 events (field trips) and host 1 event to stay current and active with the group. This group is also a great way to connect with other families and encourage and offer information and support throughout the year. We have a website and lots of different local yahoo groups to stay connected online. We also have playgroups and MNOs (mom's night out). We are required by law to cover all the normal subjects (language arts, science, social studies, etc.) but there is no set curriculum we have to use. In fact a curriculum is not even required. I just have to sign a sheet of paper that says I have taught those courses and am keeping some kind of journal or portfolio for our work. Testing is not required. I don't have to register or file paperwork with the school district. My association does all that for me.

This year we are participating in a homeschool coop. We will meet once a week for classes in science, world cultures, writing, critical thinking, and recorder. Parents will rotate teaching subjects. We'll use the Real Science 4 kids curriculum I've listed below and each parent gets to choose any culture to teach. The other 3 classes are taught by the same teacher/parent every week. There are 4 different age groups involved: preschool, 1st-3rd, 4th-8th, and highschool. The preschool and highschool are doing different classes during the time period. This coop has been around for 14 years (if I remember correctly) and the girls are very excited about starting next week.

As most of you know, homeschooling has become more popular in recent years. As a result there is so much information and such a huge amount of resources and curricula that it is hard to choose which ones to use. I have done a lot of research and found some that I really like and fit our family best. In general we are able to get all our basic school work done within 2 hours in the mornings and the rest of the days are used for extra curricular activities including dance, nature exploration, music, art, extra reading, library visits, museum classes and visits, shopping, etc. The girls have a lot of free play time as well--hours a day. I believe this kind of creative play is very important in their development. There is no TV or video games involved--just kids, some toys, craft supplies, and lots of imagination!

Here is the list of the curriculum we use and links for more info.
Math U See Alpha and Beta
First Language Lessons
Explode the code books 1 1/2 and 4 1/2
The Story of the World Book one:Ancient Times
Lilliput Station Copywork
Real Science for Kids

I took these pictures the same day we made the videos. Then we took a few silly pics to show that not all school time is serious. We take breaks and dig into special subjects whenever necessary or when the girls show particular interests. Sometimes we take breaks just because we can! The girls are cruising through the goals we have set for this year. It is amazing how much they can absorb at such a young age and in such little time. No standing in line or waiting for others to catch up to something they understand quickly. Since we don't take a break over summer we don't even need to review. We just keep moving forward.

Anyway, here the girls are sitting at their table doing copywork.

Coloring is very important too:)

A little bit of silliness from mom too. Messy playroom in the background and all!
This is a picture of the art project which we did last week. It was perfect since we learned about paper mache AND had a gift our good friend could use at her birthday party! We'll be making one for Ellen's 7th birthday next weekend too. I got the directions for making this here at Mother Earth News online magazine.

Ellen recites 0808

Arianna Recites 0808

Friday, August 22, 2008


We spend a lot of time drawing. When the girls are not playing with each other in their free time they are sitting at their table drawing. As a family we often sit together and get out drawing books too. Here are some examples of some recent creations.

This is a watercolor by Ellen. We were following a lesson from the Usborne Drawing Faces book.

These are Initials by Arianna to Mom.

Some of you might remember the monster creations that we posted back in March. Ellen still draws these and now she is calling this one an "Alien Battle." If you have time to spend a minute there is so much going on. Everything is very intentional. There are several families of the same Aliens. The ones with circles are good, the ones with lines are evil and the ones with both want to kill everyone. There are 7 "ball-body-wing-shooters" who are good. There are just a few humans in the picture which takes place on the moon.

The girls created mailboxes that hang on the wall in the playroom. We each have one. This came from Arianna to Dad in the mail. She used a stencil to draw the bird but colored it using the colors of a robin copied from a bird poster that we keep on the wall by the window.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Roller Skating

We went roller skating for a birthday party last weekend. It was so much fun. The girls had never done it before. Ellen thought it was a little easier than ice skating which we have done a few times. Arianna likes the ice better:) They were both working very hard and determined to learn how to move around on their own. It was so nice to not have to deal with a crowd since the party host had rented out the entire rink. What fun!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kale salad

The same friend who first shared the Adai recipe with me told me this trick to making raw kale taste really good. I promise, it really does. Just try it and I think you'll agree. Just a few years ago I despised dark leafy greens. I can remember specifically because when I was pregnant my midwife would ask me every time we met if I was eating them. They are so good for you and she was serious about me getting enough. I was not eating nearly as much then as I do now. I wish I would have had this recipe:)

My favorite kind of kale is lacinato or dinasour but any kind will work. You simply rinse the leaves and put them in a bowl. Then you pour a dash of salad oil (I use canola but I'm sure olive would work), balsamic vinegar, and the key ingredient is the umboshi plum vinegar. (You might have to find it at a health food store or international grocery. I can get it at Earth Fare.) I don't have exact measurements because it will depend on your taste for how vinegary or oily you like your salads. We like them really vinegary so I add more. You just need enough to massage the leaves with. I know it sounds crazy but that's how it was described to me. You rub the leaves with this dressing. The green leaves will get darker and you can let them sit for a few minutes but they will be ready to eat once they are covered with dressing, dark in color and completely massaged:) They have a rich nutty flavor and I am addicted to them!

Adai Indian Recipe (lentil crepes)

We have served this dish for a few friends and passed the recipe out as well. It is such a tasty change to have every once in a while. You should be able to find all of these ingredients at your local Indian grocery.


5 cups Idly Rice

2 cups yellow split peas
1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon pea)
3/4 cup urud dal (split black grams)

1 tsp asafoetic powder
8 green chilis
8 red chilis (1 tsp red chili powder) or as hot as you like
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
5 twigs curry fresh leaves (can substitute with cilantro)
2 onions

In separate bowls, wash and soak rice and beans for at least 3 hours (overnight is fine)

First blend beans and rice slowly adding water to make paste. We were told to blend beans so that they are more course than the rice. So we blend the beans and rice separately then stir them together in a big bowl. Next add the rest of the ingredients except for curry (or cilantro) and onion. This will store in the refrigerator and it will begin to ferment which is good. Depending on your tastes you can save it for a long time.

Before cooking add onion and curry leaves. To cook just ladle a small amount of the mix into a hot skillet and spread it thin like a pancake. Salt it. Then flip it when it's brown.
has a great how-to video with detailed instructions on how to make this dish. I haven't watched it lately so hopefully it's not different from what I described:) That is a great website for indian recipes so you could spend a lot of time browsing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

2nd stop Baton Rouge

We made it to Baton Rouge about 2am Saturday morning. It is such a long drive. We stayed with my dad for the first 2 nights. He has lived in the same house for more than 30 years. There the girls loved playing with their cousin Samantha and their dog Gadget.

We spent the next 2 nights at my brother Neal's house. My mom and BB were in town from TN and staying there as well. Once we got to Neal and Paige's house we didn't see much of the girls since they were busy playing with their cousins Parker and William. We went to the pool, and Daniel took them on scooter rides around the block, and we sat under the carport in the shade and watched the kids play.

We only did one thing outside of visiting at my brother and dad's houses. Dad took us to this hidden treasure on a busy street near his house. A man who has lived on this land for about 50 years started a garden/farm with vegetables and perennial fruit trees. I'm sure he has been offered millions for this little bit of paradise, not because of what he's growing but for the value of the land itself. It is in a prime commercial real estate zone.

We walked around and learned a little about the way things grow in Louisiana. We made mental notes of what we can do with only a small amount of land one day!

Here is Mr. Bahee standing underneath the second largest mulberry tree in Louisiana. He loved the girls and took them on a ride on his golf cart before even talking to us. :) We could have stayed there all day! We bought several fall tomato plants from him. He also dug up and gave us a loquat tree that was growing out of his compost.

We were sad to leave on Tuesday morning. We look forward to another trip down there around Christmas.

The third and last stop we made on this road trip was a short visit in Jackson MS. We didn't stay long, just enough time to stretch our legs and say hello to my grandmother and my cousins. No pictures since I hardly had time to even get out my camera. We got back on the road and landed back in Columbia about midnight.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

road trip first stop Atlanta

We are visiting family in Baton Rouge this weekend. We stopped in Atlanta to see Daniel's sister and eat at one of our favorite Vegetarian restaurants called Soul Vegetarian. The entire menu is vegan. We had country fried steak, gyros, greens, rice and gravy, mac and cheese, ice cream. A real treat! Aunt Liz brought us some candy and chocolate from her store, Lindt. Yum!

Posing with the gigantic chocolate bar! Thanks Liz.