Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Day Away

Road Trip

As a homeschooler, there are time that the four walls of your house seem to be closing in on you. And with the beautiful weather we are having in NorCal, it's really hard to stay inside. We've taken walks and rides to the park but it was just not enough. So, one of the mornings this past week, we had to ake a little errand to the post office. And the sun, along with the cool weather, just beckoned us to stay a little longer. Yep, it beckoned us, okay? And I mused aloud, "Boy, I just feel like taking a drive.." and no more than a second passed before Grace piped up with a, "Me, too!" I've got to admit, it didn't take much to convince me. So, we went back home and got all the essentials and headed out for our ride. And a ride it was! We started on the back roads of our town and gradually made our way past the popular lakes in the area. Eventually we ended up in Calistoga where we stopped to have lunch and a look around. Calistoga is one of those towns that make you forget about the recession, the state giving you an IOU, and the stimulus package. At least for an hour. It is the essence of relaxation; massages, spas, mud baths, stress relievers. Now, that was not on the agenda on this little escapade but it certainly started the wheels in my head for the next trip! After stopping by the candy store, the pizza place and the orginal train station, we made our way back towards home, but not without stopping at a fun park in Napa.

The great thing is that you can do a lot of learning just by taking these jaunts and apply the things that you have learned already. Here's some of the things we did while we were out!

We found lots of shells where the water had receeded. Unbeknownst to me, there are clammy type creatures in freshwater lakes.

This shell was a unique find. And Dayna found a rock "chair". It really had an indentation that looked like it had been carved out to sit in.

Here's Emily with her collection of shells. Several were still closed.

The water had been visited by the deer in the morning.

Gulp -- I don't even want to know what left these tracks... But you can believe that I was like a mother deer after I found these tracks. My ears perked up at any noise (it was so quiet out there) and my eyes constantly scanning the area. Of course, my senses aren't anywhere near that of a deer but hopefully I looked tougher than the average doe.

Dayna and her favorite thing in life -- Candy!

A funny little mannequin that we came across

At the train depot

"Aw! My flower lost it's power"

And that completed our day! A little more fun than division, language arts and the history of America, for today at least.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Oh my, do I need to update or what?? I guess we just haven't done anything postable lately. We are currently going through Exodus in the bible and studying history in 1400-1800's. We just finished Columbus and will now transition to California Native Americans. We read a great book called, The Tainos, the First People to Greet Columbus. Very interesting. Sad in many ways. Even though I know that we didn't have anything to do with how this country was founded, I can't help but feel pangs of guilt for those who were pushed off and out of their land. Grace was able to make the connection of what it would be like if that happened to us. When I read the book and about how the Tainos were required to prepare a tribute (gold dust or other valuables) or the Spainiards would enslave them, I thought of A Bug's Life. That is what the grasshopppers did to the poor ants, requiring them to prepare a food tribute for them... or else! Unfortunately, the Tainos didn't fair as well as the Ants. Today not one traceable person can be called a true Taino. Anyway, it was very interesting as this is the most investigating I have done on Columbus since we started homeschooling. But that's okay because I think at this age they are able to understand more than they would've years before. This is definitely not the story I heard about Columbus when I was in school!

I'm looking forward to learning about the Californian Native Americans. We have local information here and we will also look at the development of the missions. That's interesting timing because my nephew, who is also in 4th grade, started studying missions this year, too, at his school. It'll be fun to compare notes! We are close to several missions and have visited one in Sonoma, but there are others that would be fun to visit. The one in Santa Barbara actually has an adobe called the Covarrubias adobe! I have a picture with David standing under it somewhere. Here is one from the Sonoma mission that we visited last year.

There was a lot going on there that day because a school was visiting. They invited the girls to weave a basket, but they were also cooking, making candles and bead jewelry. I would like to plan this for our homeschool group in the future.
Well, that's all I have time for today! Hope you enjoy the update!

Friday, October 17, 2008

That Time of Year Again

3 words: I love fall!

Yes, this is my favorite time of the year. The colors, the weather, the anticipation of holidays, and even football. But most of all, I love going to the pumpkin patch. This year we were having a hard time trying to fit it in but in the end, we were able to go with some from our homeschool group. The patch is called, "Impossible Acres" and to tell you the truth, I never did find out why. But I do know that the woman who runs it is a Christian and has written a book about ministering for Gospel for Asia. The name of her book is Even Donkeys Speak. It's written for chidren 7-12, which is right up our alley. It will be our bedtime book, now that we have finished Mary Poppins. Okay, and speaking of Mary Poppins - That is one wierd book! But, anyway, back to the pumpkin patch. Most pumpkin patches have fun little activities but what about this one:

Yep, and there were actual examples...

There were also hay mazes and tunnels, pumpkin choosing, tractor ride and the like. But Grace and Emily's favorite was the petting animal farm. So here were all these cute animals - bunnies, piglets, goslings, pygmy kids, chicks, a calf and their adult counterparts. But guess what their favorite was? Kittens!

My favorites were the kids. No, not mine but the mama goat's. This one in particular was so cute! He climbed the hay bales, bleating (do goats bleat?) at the top of his lungs. Adorable! I want goats!

And since it was a PUMPKIN patch, I'd better throw a pumpkin pic in.

The petting farm kind of stole the show......

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


One of the challenges I have in homeschooling the girls is finding a way to incorporate my niece's pre-schooling with my daughters', who are in 2nd and 4th grade. This is the first year that I've attempted to have a little structure with Little Miss but I felt it was necessary to try something new with her. She is very active and loves to color, cut, glue, draw on the white board, play with her toys, play with stickers, etc. BUT each activity will only hold her interest for 10-15 minutes -- which sounds perfectly normal for a 3-year-old. However, since I am responsible for the necessary schooling of Grace and Emily, I find it increasingly difficult to keep her entertained while teaching them. We do not use a "here's your workbook page, fill it out" kind of curriculum. Weaver is an inter-active, parent involved curriculum. In years past, I was able to make sure that Little Miss was down for naps while we schooled. Then, towards the close of our last school year, she was only taking one nap a day. So instead of schooling in the morning, we started schooling in the afternoon when she was down. Well, this didn't make for much of our school day! I decided that I'd better try something new this year and I found a great curriculum called Bright Beginnings, geared towards preschoolers. And while it is a beautiful resource, it is still quite a challenge to juggle it all! *sigh* One thing I am learning to do is to go over certain subjects, such as math or language arts, with Grace and Emily in advance and then let them work on their own for a bit while I do something with Little Miss. Today was a fun day as we are starting with God and Creation. We read about how God created the heavens and the earth; the plants and animals and people. Our activity was to take 1 cup of flour, 2 cups of oats and 1 cup of water. I let Little Miss pour each item in and we began to mush and gush. I let her feel as each item went in and she told me how it felt - soft, gushy! Then we smelled it -- ewww! And she decided to taste it -- double ewww! So I added cinnamon, nutmeg (which is covering "fall" smells from part of her lesson) and for fun, added different types of sprinkles. Of course, she wanted to eat some of the yummy sprinkles! At her suggestion, we added more water and it got even gushier! Although I try to involve her in the hands-on actvities that we do with school, it was fun to have one just for her.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grass Valley Draft Horse Fair

Last week we took a jaunt up to beautiful Grass Valley, near Auburn, CA. It was such a perfect, (nearly) fall day. My mom has wanted to take my girls up to see this event for a year and we made sure not to miss it. Both girls love horses and these are HORSES! They are so huge. But they are one of God's most awesome creation. Just looking at them, you can see how powerful they are. There were Percherons, Clydesdales, Belgiums, Shires, Suffolks, and American Cream breeds. Unfortunately, because we went the very first day, the fair itself was not completely up and running and the performances weren't scheduled until later that night, which for a number of reasons, we could not stay for. But we enjoyed admiring these beautiful animals and standing in awe of their stature. Next year we are planning to make a full day of it, on a Friday or Saturday, of course!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Gross, huh? Moving onward in our study of the circulatory system, which is so fascinating I might add, we discussed how the body protects itself from infection. Enter - red and white blood cells and platelets! Yahoo! This is a fun little project that we did. First I cut up a bunch of "platelets" and " red and white blood cells". Then I cut a few large holes from a piece of black construction paper and laid tape over the holes. Then I told a story about Billy -- Billy was a daring kind of guy who liked to do exciting stunts on his bike...." You can figure out where blood came in. So Billy has this accident and scrapes up his whole arm (the black construction paper). Who come rushing to the rescue but our heroes, the blood cells and platelets! The girls had to cover the sticky opening entirely to prevent infection. As they did that, I did little cheers for the "players". It was a short but fun exercise. Even Dayna was singing "blood cells, blood cells!".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blood Cells - Our Heroes!

We've been back to school since mid-August but this is the first time we've had to post. The first two weeks were about getting back into routine and the following week, we went to D.C. for an extended field trip! So, now we are back home and back in the thick of things.

Psalm 91 - we have been studying how God protects us. He protects us and spares us from things we don't even know about; He created our body to protect itself in numerous ways; He gives us wisdom to implement family rules to protect us, etc.

Blood cells are two of the ways God has created within us to protect us so we did a fun project to recreate a blood cell. Not only fun but yummy! First we made raspberry/cranberry Jell-O.
Then we placed the Jell-O (the hemoglobin) in sandwich bags (the membrane), along with a grape (I thought this was supposed to be the nucleus -- but guess what? Red blood cells do not have nuclei.) After lunch, we enjoyed eating our yummy project! And added a white blood cell (whipped cream) to join us!

Dayna enjoyed being in on this "smells good" project!