Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumn photography

Our favorite thing about where our house is situated is our view of the western sky. We have the most beautiful sunsets this time of the year, and we can watch them from our back deck. Since we live in a neighborhood, the view is not completely unobstructed, so the girls like to walk down the street a couple blocks to get the best pictures.
We just have a point-and-shoot camera, but Laura manages to get some nice shots right along. I liked this one she took of the doorbell, too. She's got her eye on a nicer camera, and would like to possibly take a photography course next year. We'll just have to see.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: currently chilly and damp, but we've had enough sunny days mixed in lately to make for a beautiful fall.

Things that make me happy: reading to my kids, even through their teen years.

Book I'm reading: Angel Song by Sheila Walsh and Kathryn Cushman

On the menu for dinner: You know, I'm not sure. Making dinner is a responsibility my older daughter has assumed. Maybe chicken something?

On my To Do List: "Make a To Do List." Seriously! My mother is coming this weekend, and I'm getting ready to go away next week, so I have lots to do this week. School, cleaning, laundry, packing, a couple errands to run.

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Pumpkin Spice Cookies. (I didn't actually make them. My daughter did. But I found the recipe and printed it out for her. Does that count?)

In the craft basket: I just finished the quilt that I've been working on for a year-and-a-half. I love it! I'll show you pictures soon. I usually have several different projects going, but I think the only thing in "the basket" right now is a pair of socks that I'm knitting. They are nearly finished as well. Not sure what I'll start next. I checked a stack of knitting and crocheting books out at the library last week, so we'll see.

Looking forward to this week: Picking up Mother at the airport Friday, then visiting like crazy that evening, before setting off with Lyle for our 25th anniversary "honeymoon" on Saturday. My mother is so sweet to offer to come stay with the girls so we can do this!

My favorite blog post this week: We Have Forgotten @ Glimpses of Our World.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers): I haven't had a lot of time for much blog-hopping and discovering new blogs lately. I miss it. I enjoy blog-hopping so much more than Facebook. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon.

Lesson learned the past few days: It's best not to try to put potato peelings down the garbage disposal….don’t ask why I know this.

On my mind: My To-Do List!

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses: The girls and I are currently reading through the Gospels (we're in the middle of Mark), as well as stories from the Old Testament to go along with the ancient history we are studying. We are also working on memorizing Hebrews 11-- the "Faith Hall of Fame." It's 40 verses long, so it may very well take us all year.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fort Walla Walla field trip

Yesterday we drove down to visit the Fort Walla Walla museum. My "neighbor" blogger, Katey @ Crazy Homeschool Mama, posted about their visit to the museum a few days. It looked so interesting, and since Walla Walla is only about 3 hours away we thought it would be a fun day trip for the family before Lyle and I take off for our "second honeymoon" next week. We had a great time!

I really enjoy museums with exhibits set up to look like actual rooms or buildings, not just artifacts in a showcase behind glass. There was an actual little village to stroll through and peep in the windows, with several cabins and places of business.  I was especially impressed with how small the homes were, and how sparsely they were furnished. It's hard to imagine living so simply, isn't it? (We've been watching Hoarders recently, which has convicted me to get rid of a lot of clutter. These exhibits helped encourage that endeavor even further!)

After our visit to the museum we stopped to "play" at a dog park that was in the same neighborhood. Cookie had stayed in the car while we were in the museum, and we thought she would enjoy getting out to run. She (and we) had never been to a dog park before, and she didn't quite know what to think. She was a little intimidated by some of the more rambunctious, over-friendly dogs. It was a lot of fun to watch!

Then we stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen before heading home. We listened to the old time radio channel on XM as we drove. Fun times!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Manito Park

 It's amazing to me that a person can live somewhere for years and still discover new places! Especially when it's been 12 years (that we've lived in north Idaho) and the "new" place is a 90-acre park on Spokane's South Hill that has been there for a hundred years! I just gotta wonder, how in the world did we not know about it all this time?
 A couple weeks ago we had Laura's senior pictures made. A friend of mine does portraits as a hobby, and when I asked her about doing them, she suggested Manito Park. I had never heard of it, but she persuaded me that it would be perfect. She was right!
 I was in awe of the rose garden. Row upon row of beautiful roses in a wide range of colors and sizes, in full bloom. Each bush was carefully labeled with the name of the variety.
 The most unusual one I saw was this red-and-white-striped beauty. It's called "Fourth of July!"
 There was a dahlia bed not too far from the roses. I had never seen such huge dahlias... and again, in a wide range of colors.
I thoroughly enjoyed my walk through the carefully cultivated gardens that morning. I didn't have time to see everything I would have liked to, but I was happy to know that it's only 30-45 minutes away, so you can bet we'll be back!

Although, I expect the pretty flowers may be gone by now... Jack Frost doing his thing, you know. But it's something to look forward to next spring!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tweaking Sonlight Core 6

This year my younger daughter and I are studying world history with Sonlight's Core 6 package. Becky has some learning delays, and retains information best when it is presented multiple times in multiple ways. My older daughter is an auditory learner, so Sonlight-straight-out-of-the-box worked great for her! I'm having to be more creative, this go 'round.

Last year, Becky and I studied American history and we built a history scrapbook using timeline figures, lapbook elements from A Journey Through Learning, and other bits and pieces we found here and there. I was very pleased by how much she remembered later, and she loved the hands-on aspect of it.

I wanted to do a similar project again this year, but wasn't quite sure how to approach it, since world history doesn't lend itself real well to a two-page spread per year. Just 250 years of American history made a pretty fat notebook! After several weeks of trial-and-error I have finally put together an activities notebook that Becky is really enjoying. It's more of a "notebooking" approach, not so much cut-and-paste. It involves lots of copy work which, strangely enough, she loves!

So far I've just put together the notebook for the first semester, based on The Story of the World, Volume 1. I plan to build a similar notebook for each of the 4 volumes, one per semester for this year and next. I started with the Story of the World Activity Book Student Pages. The download version is only $7.95. It has fun activities more suitable for younger children-- coloring pages and easy word puzzles. Becky enjoys that, but I wanted just a little more "meat" to help with retention as well, so I did a lot of Googling for ideas to mix in with the "fun" stuff. I found some really great blank notebooking pages designed to go with The Story of the World at Homeschool Helper Online. Notebooking Nook has more Ancient History/Old Testament notebooking pages, as well. Both of these resources are free for the printing!

After I worked the extra notebooking pages in to go along with the Story of the World, I then went through and selected passages to assign as copywork. I noted the book and page number on the bottom of each notebook page. Now each day she can work on her notebook independently and review what we've read and talked about. I can already see how much better she is retaining the information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Camping Trip of the Season

We're die-hard campers. Not extreme campers, mind you, but we usually go later in the season than most people. The campgrounds are quieter this time of year, naturally, but we also enjoy the fall colors, the cool crisp air and the warmth of the campfire. This past weekend we had sunny skies and brisk temperatures. Lyle and I went for a hike through the damp forest and admired the occasional brilliant maple tree among the still-mostly green woods. Later he took the kids mountain-biking.

It was great to be outdoors during the day. Late in the afternoon we built a campfire and cooked supper over it, but we didn't linger around the fire for very long after dark. Once the sun went down, it got pretty chilly. Even though the time hasn't changed yet, it still gets dark pretty early this time of year. Too early to go to bed, so we made hot cocoa and crowded around the little table in the trailer to play SkipBo.
Next morning we discovered ice in the water bucket we keep by the fire. The ground, table, and chairs were covered with frost. So we bundled up, built a fire, and cooked breakfast. The trick was keeping the bacon warm while the eggs cooked. We didn't succeed. That's when it turned out to be handy to have power hook-ups. We took the plate of bacon inside and heated it up again in the microwave!

Okay, so we taking this "roughing it" thing only so far!
Thus ends our camping adventures for 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Crochet Challenge

Back in the summer I went in for my not-so-annual checkup. When the doctor came into the exam room she started going through her normal routine of listening to my heart beat, making me say "ahhh," and asking general health-related questions. Then out of the blue she said, "Do you crochet?"

I thought that was a funny question! Of course, I do... but what did that have to do with my health? So I hesitantly said, "Yes. Why do you ask?"

She said, "Oh! I noticed that..." and she pointed to the slipcover I had made for my netbook which was sticking out of my tote bag, "...and wondered if you made it." I told her I did. Then she explained that she had an afghan that she had started 20 years ago, that she knew she would never finish, and was wishing she had someone to give it to, who would want to finish it.

I told her that I usually crocheted at least a little every day, and that I would be happy to have it. (I have to have something in my hands when I'm watching TV with Lyle. It's usually crocheting, though sometimes it's knitting or quilting or word puzzles.)

I didn't think too much more about it, but I had a follow-up visit to the doctor a few weeks later. This time when she came into the exam room she was carrying a plastic tub of crocheted squares and a bag full of yarn!
I immediately recognized the pattern as one I had made... probably 20 years ago! ...for my sister-in-law, in the colors shown on the pattern book. My doctor had worked about half the squares when she was laid up with ankle surgery, she said.
It was an interesting pattern, because each block is a different stitch. I enjoyed the challenge of finishing the crocheting and then putting the blocks together for a finished blanket. My gauge was not the same as the parts crocheted by the doctor, but by the time I got it all sewed together, I thought it looked pretty good. The colors are not what I would have chosen, but it's a good, warm blanket!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Betsy and Joe

I mentioned last week that I was participating in the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind. This week the challenge is to answer the following questions:

a. Why you joined the MHLRC.
I've always loved the Betsy-Tacy stories and I just thought it would be fun!

b. Which book you are currently reading for the challenge.
I've read the first 5 chapters of Betsy and Joe to my daughters (ages 15 and 17) this week. I read the first chapter just as sort of a teaser, but they won't "let" me quit. Since my older daughter is patiently sitting through such tomes as Carson's Basic American Government and Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, it's a treat for all of us to join in the the fun of a young lady's senior year 101 years ago!

c. Something new you have learned either from participating in this challenge or from a MHL book you have read.
I learned that Maud Hart Lovelace based the Betsy-Tacy stories on her own life experiences. I would love to write like that someday.

d. Which book in the Deep Valley series you hope to win and why.
I'd love to win the 2-book bind-up of Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart because my friend Melissa Wiley wrote the forward to it. Also, because I think my girls would enjoy reading Carney's House Party when we finish Betsy and Joe.

ecoStore - review

Over the past couple of years my family has been making gradual changes towards a healthier lifestyle. Mostly it has been a change in our eating habits and choice of foods available to us. As I have been reading about healthy living, I became aware that even the cleaning products we use in our home can have an effect on our health, but so far I haven't made that change. (Baby steps, you know!) However, I was interested to be offered the opportunity to review my choice of products from ecoStore, a company that makes household and personal care products with plant-based ingredients rather than synthetic chemicals. I chose to try the All-Purpose Cleaner. I was skeptical that it would be as effective as my regular cleaner, but I was pleasantly surprised. I found it to be just as effective, but without the strong smell. If you are interested in switching to more ecologically-friendly products, check out ecoStore.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge

I love old-fashioned "girl" books. When I was growing up (and voraciously reading just about anything I could get my hands on... okay, who am I kidding? I still do that!) I loved series books. I also figured out quite early on that if I particularly enjoyed a book I should look for more books by the same author. And that's how I discovered the Betsy-Tacy stories by Maud Hart Lovelace. There are actually two "generations" of Betsy-Tacy books: four titles featuring a little-girl Betsy and her friends, Tacy and Tib... and then six more books about an older Betsy-- one for each year of high school, one about her travels after high school, and one about her wedding. There are also 3 more spin-off books about some of Betsy's friends and acquaintances. They are set around the turn of the century (1900... not 2000!) and have the most elegant Gibson Girl style illustrations.

Visit the Here in the Bonny Glen to read Melissa Wiley's synopsis of each title. Remember Melissa? She's one of my "author friends." She wrote the Little House spin-off series about Martha and Charlotte. She's also been very excited that she was invited to write the forward for a new two-books-in-one re-release of Maud Hart Lovelace's Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart.

The second annual Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge will be running through the month of October at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind. Participants will have a chance to win a copy of one of the new editions, and it looks like other prizes and fun are on the agenda as well.

The hardest part for me is choosing which book to re-read. I've read them all before (some more than once) and I know I don't have time to read them all again right now. I think I'm going to settle on Betsy and Joe. It's about Betsy's senior year... and since my daughter is a senior, it seems appropriate.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Books Read in September

...for the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge:

78. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
79. A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
80. Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers
81. The Black Madonna by Davis Bunn
82. Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
83. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
84. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
85. Don't Let Me Go by David Pierce
86. Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth by Susan K. Marlow
87. In Between by Jenny B. Jones
88. Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner
89. Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz
90. The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly