Monday, September 29, 2008

Rollin on the River...

We took another trip to the river and had a blast. This time Jennifer dropped us off and went to the store to pick up paint supplies for another house project and the girls and I went rock hopping. The water was frigid. Jennifer explained that this was because much of the water is released from the bottom of the Lake Murray dam. Or maybe I am just getting old, but geez it was cold. The girls didn't seem to mind.
Those of you who remember our Boone days know that we literally spent many free wonderful hours loafing, hiking, hiding, playing, climbing, wondering, wandering, smelling, chasing, eating, sleeping, crawling, exploring, and talking in the rivers and woods of the Blue Ridge Mtns. Once the girls were born we eased up a bit, but now they are old enough to really enjoy places like this. I miss it terribly. I ache for it! Kinda. I swear there aren't many things I pay for that bring as much pleasure as a large hot rock in the middle of a bubbling, chattering river. It's superb.
Here is the now classic Kruidenier girls pose.
I took some action shots just for fun. The girls were like frogs on lily pads. They look so daring caught in mid-air.
Ellen makes her leap.
We did do a bit of swimming but man-O-man it was cold. Here Arianna and I traverse the maddeningly powerful rapids (kinda) while Ellen waits patiently on a rock behind.

If you come to Columbia-have we got a place for you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall Gardening

We are spending a little less time in the garden these days but, we are still out there a lot! Daniel has removed lots of summer stuff and we have planted another round of green beans and lots of okra.

Some things are still growing from our first planting. We have basil, basil, and more basil. I made 6 cups of pesto (from 2 large bags of basil) and we still have this much left!

Eggplant is still producing.
We started broccoli, lettuce and other greens from seed. Soon after we planted our seeds in late August we had a huge rainstorm and we think that hurt our germination rate. Basically the soil washed away with some of our seeds. So we had some extra space in the beds and I went to Lowe's and Home Depot this weekend and picked up a tray of more greens to fill in the gaps in our garden. I also picked up some brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and red cabbage. So with all this planted our garden is full again.
Broccoli we started from seed.These are collards and red leaf lettuce mixed with a few broccoli.
The luffa is now flowering and growing fruits.
In this picture you can see the sweet potatoes spread across a few beds.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thank You

Our good friends, the Weidenbachs, let us borrow their car after our scooter was stolen. They were planning a visit to Columbia the weekend of labor day when it happened and offered to bring their extra car down for us to use. We were thrilled! Daniel was able to use it for 3 weeks while we dealt with filing police reports, insurance woes, looking for a new vehicle, and getting tags and registration for the new bike. We drove to Greenville this weekend to bring the car back and hang out for the afternoon. The weather was beautiful, kids played outside, and Shael served an awesome spaghetti dinner with tofutti cuties for dessert! Thanks guys!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ellen's 7th Birthday

We had a burrito dinner birthday party sleepover for Ellen's 7th birthday on Saturday night. We had 15 adults and 15 kids and we served burritos to them all. We also had pinata and 2 cakes! Daniel and I were busy serving and cleaning and didn't take many pictures. None of the pinata! How sad since it was home made:) But we all had a wonderful time. Six of the girls spent the night. They were awake until midnight when we finally got them to settle down and go to sleep. They were bright eyed at 7am Sunday morning and ready to play some more. There were no major problems. The girls had a blast. Thanks to Granddaddy for bringing some food to help out and thanks to Jen, Rose, Sylvia, and Ruby for driving from Chapel Hill to celebrate. It was nice to have a 3rd adult in the house to help out with all the girls.

We are still celebrating today, her real birthday. Mimi came down and took us out to eat to her favorite restaurant, Moe's. She also took us to the toy store and bought the girls a few more treats. All I can say is I can't believe my baby is 7. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that we had her while living in that tiny cabin in West Jefferson, NC? I am so thankful for my beautiful big girl!

Here's a few pics not in order. Scroll over bottom of slideshow and click on text bubble icon to see my comments on each picture if they are not showing up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

local adventures and visiting Charlotte

I can't believe we've lived in Columbia for a little over 2 years and just found this place. We went to the Saluda river near downtown with some friends last Saturday. (Here's a site with good info on the 3 rivers in columbia) It was so beautiful. Unfortunately the dam sirens went off about 30 mins after we arrived (after we lugged our bags of picnic supplies out in the middle of the rocks:)) so our trip was cut way short. We are sure to be visiting this spot many more times soon.

We went to charlotte Tuesday night while uncle Dave was in town from Philadelphia. Anna came over and we met up at Gail's house, ordered take out from PF Changs and sat by the pool while the girls swam. It's always great to be around family and that was probably the last time for the girls to be in the pool for the year. They loved "night swimming."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Our Homeschool

I know some of you read this and have no idea what we actually do for our homeschool. Some of you are homeschooling also and know what I'm talking about. Here is what we are doing this year in SC.

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.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Life is living

Well there's a scary mug for yah!
Is life ever not full? It feels extra thick and juicy right now. Jennifer and I have been attempting , in our free moments, to make heads or tails of the political frenzy/circus looking for kernels of seriousness under the media hooplah. They are there. We call and await news from family in the gulf states. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. These other events pale in significance against those backdrops, but nonetheless they are defining of our little but valued existence here at home. Some good news and some bad news.

The good news first: I have largely hidden from view the recent Qualifying Exam which the Philosophy Dept. gives to its students after they have completed most classes and before they can be admitted to candidacy. I hid news of it largely because I didn't want folks checking in if I didn't fare well. The test is set up so that the student must study from roughly 5oo BC to the present and be broadly familiar with major trends, figures, arguments, spanning the loosely held Western philosophical corpus. Generally one picks some of this up in classes but is invariably forced to cram as much as possible into the head prior to walking into a seven hour session on test day. There one is asked to write answers to 3 of 9 questions that have been selected confidentially by faculty in as much detail, cohesion, and accuracy as possible. I offer an example of one of the questions I selected just for fun. It sounds esoteric but I caution anyone from equating esoteric with seriousness or importance; not that they are antithetical just not equivalent or necessarily related:

"What is Hume's argument concerning how, or whether, one can have knowledge of cause-effect relations? Explain how Hume's account differs from, and can be understood as a reaction to, Locke. How does Kant in turn reply to Hume, and what is Kant's own account of causal knowledge?"

I typed roughly 25 pages ranging the three selected questions and left with a fried mind. I received my results this weekend and it turns out I passed with "distinction." This is the highest grade possible and I was thrilled to have met and maybe exceeded the expectations for candidacy qualification. There are few milestones or indications of success at this stage and this was quite a pleasure.

Now for the bad news. Some degenerate lacking seriously in moral fiber stole my scooter from the driveway this weekend. We awoke Sunday morning with an empty carport, filed a police report and are now trying to remember that statistically these events have to happen to someone and there is nothing except getting on to do about it. We are not wealthy and this has of course placed us in a difficult situation as it would almost anyone. We are moving on and will take more care in the future. But it certainly changes the game a bit. It changes my attitude about my stuff, at least the stuff that is rather crucial to our not ending up on the street. It alters my perception of the environment we are living in...maybe it needed to be altered.