Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Long Winter

W and I finished reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have read it so many times, yet reading the full book aloud was a wonderful experience. W took turns reading several chapters to me as well. We have had The Mild Winter here in New Hampshire this year, which was pretty unusual. So we have had to make due with imaginary snowballs and paper snowflakes for the most part (but I'll take that)!

See the flour in the drawer?

Ironically, our book club has been pushed back due to weather (the one day it was freezing rain/hail/snow here), so we will meet this Friday, barring inclement weather. We tried out the activity we had planned anyway last week, as I was not even sure it would work very well. We used an old fashioned coffee mill to grind wheat (using hard white wheat seed). It takes a couple of turns through the mill but it does wind up producing  flour. Next up, grinding enough to actually make bread. This will take a while. It was difficult enough for W to turn the crank so it showed him how hard it would have been for the Ingalls family to endlessly grind wheat to survive during their most difficult winter on the prairies of South Dakota.

Here are some highlights from W, age 6 and 11/12ths :)
"I liked the parts about Pa helping to dig out the train line, and the wheat in the wall that Almanzo had. I liked Merry Christmas when they were all excited, and Christmas in May. The chapters when Almanzo and Cap Garland went to find more wheat were good. And I liked when Almanzo made pancakes for himself and his brother."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pack Monadnock

Yesterday Jacob took a day off and we went for a hike at Pack Monadnock. It is February in New Hampshire but the weather was clear and it was actually quite warm while we were walking. Jacob was vague about how far we needed to go, otherwise I doubt I would have agreed to join along. I had a heavy coat on when a fleece would have been a better choice, and I get so winded going uphill so that was tough for me. It was difficult for C as well, who needed to ride on Daddy's shoulders for most of the way. W was a trooper and he was amazed at the view from tower at the top, so that made it all worth it. Sherlock enjoyed it but was interested in sniffing all around the woods instead of staying on the main path.

Jacob assisted with lending his phone when there was a minor accident for a fellow hiker, whose daughter was able to call 911, and we waited with them for help to arrive. The boys were excited to see the fire rescue truck; we hope everything went okay for them. There were several places where there was icing. Even our own yard has been slippery with ice that has refused to melt.

We didn't take Lucy on this outing, since she was at the Vet's office yesterday being spayed. She will be home soon and is recovering nicely.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sea life field trip

We continued our in depth study of sea life this week at the New England Aquarium on Friday. The boys and I took the commuter rail train in, and it was an early morning for them but they seemed to enjoy the train ride. Then we walked from South Station to the Aquarium. The weather was unseasonably warm for February in Boston! I think it did us all good to go since we had planned this for several weeks and some other NH homeschoolers were going as well.

One of the seals painting.

Shortly after we arrived, there was a seal demonstration in the tank in front of the entrance, and one of the seals painted a picture. They are amazing creatures! They seem very similar to dogs in terms of training, as they use a rewards based system. There is much more to learn about the Atlantic Harbor Seals on the NEAQ training blog.

They have a good life!

W enjoyed learning about the jellies, C liked the shark and ray touch tank exhibit, and both of them loved watching the penguins. W observed and read about the Little Blue penguins from Australia. However, at the end of the day both boys said the sharks in the big central tank were their favorite.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our special little guy

Our sweet cat Ludwig, also known as Baby Boo, passed away yesterday. We adopted him when he was a kitten, and had many years of joy and love from him. The boys are dealing pretty well with the loss. I know W will have memories of him. We were all able to say our last goodbyes to him yesterday. He was so brave and sweet. I've always said Ludwig was my practice kid, and he will always have a special place in my heart. Although the loss of a pet is incredibly hard, it is all worth it and the memories and love live on.

L and W as a baby

L and C hanging out

at the window enjoying the warmth of the sun

Rest in Peace 
2002 - 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lego Space Shuttle

putting it all together

For Christmas we gave W a Lego city space shuttle set. It was a big surprise and he and I put it together last week and as of today (Hallelujah!) it is actually still intact. This was a great set for his age since he was able to do most of it by himself. It has a lot of tiny pieces but part of the fun for W was searching for the right ones.

We assembled the first parts a couple of weeks ago but soon realized that a base piece (key to the operation) was missing from the box. We were pretty upset about this. Then I went on Lego.com and was thankful to learn that they offer a complimentary part replacement service. I am quite happy with their extremely helpful customer service! It took a couple of weeks to arrive, but when it did W and I were able to complete the shuttle in an afternoon.

The boys have been very careful playing with it so far, and I hope that they enjoy it for years to come.

(This is just a post from lego fans, we were not paid to endorse this product.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

How is it February already? We have had a homeschooling hiatus lately with a virus affecting the whole family. I am still feeling the affects. I am hoping to get back into the swing of things and updating here more regularly. Between the lack of sleep with the puppies and being sick, it has been a rough month here.

Today we watched a Jack's Big Music Show video circa 2007; more specifically a Groundhog day episode featuring Jon Stewart and a fun song by Steve Burns and Steven Drodz. I don't think C had seen it since he was an infant, but W enjoyed it when he was younger. I am thankful that children's programs are way more appealing and amusing to grownups these days compared to the cartoons of my youth. We also learned about Groundhogs and Punxatawney Phil. Supposedly we will have 6 more weeks of winter. I say bring it on, it feels like we have not had much of a winter since October! ;)

W has been plugging away on Explode the Code book 2, up to page 43. He is on Math-U-See Alpha Chapter 11, which is about 1/3 of the way through the book. Geometry is a section of this chapter, so he is doing some side work of classifying shapes from our Comprehensive Curriculum 1st grade workbook. For a history and science combination project he made a paper mache volcano shortly before we all got sick, so as soon as I charge my camera batteries we will make it erupt. At least it has held up and is dry. That will certainly have its own post.

For reading material, we are rowing Owl Moon by Jane Yolen this week for our Five in a Row group. W learned about Great Horned Owls and he often gets to observe the woods outside. We have only actually seen one owl in the wild since moving to this town, so one theme from the book to focus on is patience. It is a nice book for this time of year and also incorporates some astronomy studies. We discussed the phases of the moon, and have plans to attend some Skywatch events in the near future with our homeschool Astronomy club.

 Lately W is still into the Dinosaur Cove series by Rex Stone (almost finished with book 6). He also adores the Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves. I had collected several of these which we came upon years ago during a trip to Scotland, and now he loves reading them on his own. We are also continuing with The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, although we are re-listening to the early chapters on CD as I haven't had much voice to read aloud for long. I am SO glad W is an independent reader and can read to his brother too.

I'm hoping to find an unabridged version of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie for him to read this spring, and also read more of A.A. Milne's books. C is at a good age for the original Thomas the Tank Engine stories as well, so a bedtime re-read is in order. :)