Renaissance Faire

Kaia and I have been planning and looking forward to this trip for many months!  I knew as soon as we decided to study the Middle Ages that we would need to go to a Renaissance fair!  The Renn Faire in NC is one of the biggest around.  The village is built on 20+ acres in beautiful woods.  We planned to spend the weekend there so we could see everything.

Kaia quickly settled into her own queen bed. (Oh, let me tell you, it was such luxury sleeping in my own squishy bed, all by myself.  We almost skipped the festival so that I could just sleep all day!)

Kaia quickly discovered the joys of the ice machine.

We thought it was important to dress the part in order to get the full Renaissance experience.

Many, many more pictures to follow:

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I know…

I’ve been seriously slack in posting here.  That’s because I’ve not been slack in the rest of my life.  We are working hard in homeschool, playing hard in the beautiful fall weather, reading great books, picking apples, eating well, and enjoying life!  That’s how it should be, right?!  I have a feeling new posts will continue to be sporadic.  I love you sweet blog friends, but once the kids are in bed and there is little time to blog, I just don’t want to be on the computer.  I’m trying to make it work, though, because I want to keep in touch with you all.  I will often post new homeschool, craft, and food ideas on pinterest.  You are welcome to come find me there!

So, here are a few pictures of what fills out life lately:

Late night dance parties with crazy dad.

Woah!  Step back!  He’s going turbo!

Acorn crafts of all sorts

Life from the perspective of a 2 year old (Leif spent an hour with my camera this afternoon to show you what he’s been up to.  I think he’s a fabulous photographer!)


First day of Anatomy

We were super excited to start Anatomy this year.  I have so many fun experiments planned.  But, of course, we had to start with the Jello Cell.  Did you create one of these in school?  I remember doing it at least twice!

You can use all kinds of things to create your cell.  This just happened to be what I chose: jello (Cytoplasm – I would advise using a light color if you want to see the details), Whoppers (nucleus), M&M’s (Lysosomes – I think Lemon Heads or jelly beans would have worked better here.  The M&M’s bled their color into the jello and made it a bit murky), Fruit by the foot (we used two different kinds for the Mitochondria and the Golgi Complex), Fruit twists (Endoplasmic Reticulum – I was looking for licorice, but this is what I found).

We read a bit about what it means to be human and then about how cells work in the body.  I found a book with a nice color picture of a cell that we could refer to as we built our jello cell.

I was surprised how much of the fruit and candy actually ended up in Leif’s bowl and not in his mouth…

“Mom, my nuculus won’t stop floating!”

Just as fun to eat as it was to make! (though, not as pretty!)

Pyramath Winner!

Wow!  Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and math game suggestions!  We are excited to try them out.  We are also very excited to tell you that we now have decks of PrimeBomb and Fractazmic that we will be reviewing soon.

So, with out any further ado… The winner of the Pyramath deck is:


Congratulations, Vanessa.  I’ll be contacting you soon for shipping details.

More Fabulous Math with PyraMath & a Giveaway!

In early May, I read this review on a game called PyraMath and immediately thought it would be a great way to practice math facts with Kaia.  I went to the website and clicked on the link to Play.  We happened to be visiting in Boston a the time, but I thought I’d just play through it once to see if I thought it would really be useful.  Unfortunately, I got sucked in!  I kept trying to beat my best time and ended up playing late into the night.  All that play paid off when I won a deck of PyraMath cards!

The day that they arrived I think we ended up playing a gazillion times!!  I showed Kaia how to play a solitaire game beginning with 5 cards.  Each card has a number on it, from 0 to 9, and the number word written in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Roman, and Chinese (so they learn a little about other languages at the same time!).  The first 5 cards are put out in a line.  Then Kaia drew a card from the main pack and see if she could use it in an equation.  

Here you can see that her top cards were 1, 4, 5, 2, and 0.  Between adjacent cards you use either addition, subtraction multiplication, or division to create your answer.  So, between 1 and 4, she used the number 3 when it was drawn from the deck, because 4-1=3.  Over on the other side, between 2 and 0, she used the number 0, because 2×0=0.   The cards that couldn’t be played were placed in a discard pile and play continues until the last card on the pyramid is placed.  She loved it!  And I love that this deck can be used for kids that may only know addition facts up to adults who just want to review.  So, I can play with Leif when he gets a little older, too.  And really, for Kaia, the game isn’t at all about math practice, it’s just about having fun.

Later in the evening, she challenged me to a game, which she won.  We started this game with 7 cards.  Her pyramid is on the right.  We haven’t covered division yet in school, but she started working out a few equations on her own here.

So, because I love finding ways to make math fun, and the fabulous people at PyraMath sent along a deck to give to you lovely readers, I’m having a giveaway!  YAY!!

Here are the rules:

  • For one chance to win, simply leave a comment.  You don’t have to, but I’d love to hear your favorite ways to ‘play’ with math.
  • For another chance to win, share this giveaway on your blog or facebook, and leave me a comment about it.

Don’t forget to leave a way to contact you if you win!  If you don’t win, don’t be discouraged!  A deck costs only $6.95 plus shipping, which I think is completely worth it!! (and no, I’m not being paid to say that!)

I’ll draw the winner on Monday, June 20th, at 7pm EST.

Now I’m off to the PyraMath Wiki page to learn more ways to play!!


Multiplication Bingo

One of the games I thought we might play this summer to sharpen Kaia’s math skills is Multiplication Bingo.  I found this great site for creating your own Bingo cards, Print Bingo, and simply plugged in the answers to the multiplication facts for 2×2 through 9×9.  If two or more equations have the same answer, like 3 x 4 = 12 and 2 x 6 = 12, I only entered the number 12 once on the bingo sheet.  I printed the cards out on yellow paper and ran them through my handy-dandy laminator.

Then I wrote down the equations on red paper and laminated them, too.  I wasn’t planning to pulling this game out until the next time she said “MOM!  I’m bored!”, but Kaia saw me doing this and wanted to play immediately.  So, we put the red equations into a paper bag.  She would pull them out, one at a time, and say the answer.  If either of us found the answer on our card, we’d cover it with a blue cube.  I was the first to yell “BINGO!”, so we kept playing until she made 5 in a row and could scream it herself, too.  Next time I think I’ll use chocolate covered raisins instead of blue cubes.  Then we can eat our playing chips when we are done!  Yay for fun learning!

Memorize in Minutes Multiplication Review

School is out!  Kaia is officially a 3rd grader, and we are celebrating with doughnuts and a party!  But before I retire the curriculum for the summer, I wanted to tell you about Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables.  I bought this after hearing good reviews from other homeschoolers.  Adding in art and stories to Kaia’s math lessons seemed right up her alley.

When I first got it and looked through the book, I was skeptical.  Each number is assigned a word, like 2 is “shoe” and 6 is “chicks”.  Then a story is developed for each equation using these words as clues to the final answer, in this case “elf”.  And when you think of “shoe” and “chicks” you remember “elf”.  It sounded good, but I really didn’t think Kaia would know her multiplication facts just from hearing a story.

I’m very happy to tell you that it worked wonderfully.  Kaia really enjoyed coloring the picture of the equation while I told the story.  She would repeat the equation a few times and that was that.  We would do a new multiplication fact 2-3 times a week and review them once a week.  The book doesn’t cover multiplying by 0, 1, or 10 because those are pretty easy facts to memorize.  It also doesn’t repeat facts.  For example, once you learn 4 x 7 you don’t do 7 x 4. You learn as you go along that they are interchangeable .

When we finished, she taped them up on the wall in what she calls her “shrine to math”.

Working on the shrine

(The rainbow circle in the middle of the shrine is Robinsunne’s Multiplication Clock, a beautiful way of looking at the multiplication table)

She may still take a minute to think about the facts before giving the answer, but she knows the answer.  I think we’ll play lots of math games over the summer to help solidify the knowledge, but overall, I’m very impressed with the results!


Learning about negative numbers

Kaia and I are wrapping up her school year this week and next, and we thought we’d learn a little about negative numbers to end the year.  We talked about things less than zero, looked at thermometers and time lines.  Then she drew a number line from -5 to 5.  I gave her a few dollars of monopoly money and set up a little store.  If she wanted to buy something but didn’t have enough money, she’d borrow from the mom bank.  She started off with $5 and stood on the number 5.  She wanted to buy a head band worth $8.  So she borrowed $3 and moved back to the -3, because she now owed me $3.  Then she would ‘earn’ money somehow (birthday, chores) and move up again.   We’ve been over this concept of owing before, but it was nice to put it into action and then write the equation on the board so that she could see how 5-8 could equal -3.  She enjoyed it so much that she ended up playing store for over an hour and a half!

Yes, I bribe my children …

This is the only way I can ever get Kaia to put paper to pencil!

I told her I would make Ice Cream Pie if she could write me the recipe.   Yum!

Ice Cream Pie by Kaia

1. Fill crust with ice cream.

2. Top with whipped cream.

3. Drizzle on chocolate syrup.

4. Sprinkle on marshmallows and sprinkles.

5. Add 8 cherries.

6. Eat it!

2011-2012 school plans

I have to admit, I love planning for school.  Searching through all the options that are available to the kids is very exciting.

This past year has worked pretty well for us.  Really, the hardest part of it was getting lessons done with a 2 year old crazy man bouncing around us.  And sometimes, I can distract him with some fun game but them Kaia wants to play too and ignores the lesson.  So, we’ve all learned a good bit about flexibility this year!

This summer, we do plan to do a little schooling.  We will play lots of math games and read living math books so that Kaia can keep up her skills.  Kaia is still very resistant to writing, so I’m going to encourage writing of any sort over the summer.  And, since we’ve not really done much geography, we will learn a bit about the oceans, continents, cultures and such.  I’m going to try to keep it laid back, though.  I could use a break, too, ya know!

In the fall, Kaia will technically be in the 3rd grade and we are planning the following:

Language ArtsMichael Clay Thompson level 1 (I’ve read such good things about this!  I’m excited to give it a try) This will be our basic curriculum and I don’t think we will need to add much more.  We will continue with Sequential Spelling (Kaia has been enjoying this a lot and I think it’s important for her to get some spelling practice since she doesn’t like to write often).  I think she will probably finish up HWT Cursive early in the year.  Other than that, there will be lots of reading.  Kaia reads up a storm, so I may put some books around the house for her to find, but I don’t think I’ll have much in the way of required reading.

Math – I’m thinking that we will continue using Right Start Math (levels D and E), just more loosely.  I think it moves to slowly for Kaia.  So, we’ll use what we need and make it a richer experience with living math books, experiments, Mythmatical Battles, Math Rider, and such.  I may add in a little Mind Benders and Math Analogies occasionally.  I’m even thinking of getting this Algebra primer.  I think she would really dig something like it.

Science – Kaia said she was interested in studying Anatomy and Electronics next year.  So, we plan to do lots of kits and experiments.  Toby will take on the electronics since he knows lots about it.  But we will probably start with something like this kit and expand from there.  For Anatomy, we will use kits from Horrible Science like this one, The Magic School Bus kit, as well as lots of books, dissections and stuff.  I may get the REAL Science Biology book to pull ideas from too.  (We used their Chemistry book this past year and felt it left a lot out.  The labs were generally too simple, but I still liked having the book as a starting point.) We’ll see.  (I just found this from Winter’s Promise.… Hmmm… might be something worth looking into.)

History – We’ve been using the History Odyssey curriculum for our Ancient History, but we basically only using it to follow the schedule of who to read about next.  This next year, I think we will use the Usborne Internet-linked Encyclopedia of World History as our spine.  We ended up referencing it more than our curriculum.  We are both very excited to study the Middle Ages next year.  We are already planning our trip to the Renaissance Faire in the fall!!  We’ll also supplement with lots of living history books and crafts.

Art – We started off this past year using Artistic Pursuits.  I really liked it how it connected the history we were studying with a the art, but Kaia didn’t like being told how to create her art.  So, we ended up using it less and less often.  I’d like to find something to introduce her to famous artists and art techniques, but I’m not sure what we’ll use yet.

Music – Continue Piano lessons

Foreign Language – Kaia wants to study Spanish.  I am looking for a local class.  I feel like that would be more effective for her than a computer course or something.  I don’t remember enough of it to feel like I could be a good teacher.

xtra stuffHomeschool co-op, nature walks, Aerial gymnastics

For Leif, I’ll have to see where he is at in the fall.  We will definitely continue with letters and numbers. lots of hands on play.  There are lots of curricula out there for pre-schoolers that look great (like this one from Winter’s Promise and this one from Little Acorn Learning) and I love to have things organized and planned out, but I’m thinking my 2-3 year old just really needs to play and experience the world without too much structure.  We’ll see.

Let’s hear what your plans are!

Peeps Math

Kaia’s been using Right Start Math as her basic curriculum for the past 2 years.  It’s a great curriculum, but she’s gotten bored with worksheets.  So, I’ve been trying to work in more ‘living math’ done through experiments and hands on activities.  When I saw this activity with Peeps, I knew we had to try it out!  Kaia isn’t ready to take on algebra fully, but there’s no reason not to introduce her to it.

We laid out 5 peeps and she easily told me how much space they would take up if each peep were 2 inches and there was a 1/2 inch space in between each peep (12 inches). So, I put out 10 peeps and she told me that they would take up 24 1/2 inches.  We discovered that the number of spaces between the peeps was always 1 less than the number of peeps.  3 peeps, 2 spaces.  10 peeps, 9 spaces…

We discussed that we could learn how much distance the peeps would cover even if we had 6549 peeps, or any number for that matter.  So, then we set up our equation.  We called the number of peeps P.  If you multiply then number of peeps by 2 inches you will get the distance that just the peeps take up.  So that leaves us with the spaces between them.  If you take the number of peeps, P, and subtract 1, you get the number of spaces.  Then multiply that by 1/2 inch and you get the distance that the spaces would cover.   The final equation looked like this:

2p + (p-1)/2 = the distance the peeps would cover.

We decided to plug 8,000 peeps into our equation just to see how long that line of peeps would be.  We were happy to discover that if we had 8,000 peeps we could line them up from our front door, down the hill, past our 3 neighbors and to our mailbox 1/3 mile away.  (Peeps, you are welcome to send us those 8,000 peeps so we can give this a try!!  The chocolate covered ones are just fine, too!)

And of course, the reward for the math…

Silk Eggs

This week, we’ve been doing crafts to decorate our Spring Nature Table.  Today’s craft was simple and fun with such beautiful results.  I picked up a few silk scarves and shirts from Good Will and blew out some duck eggs.  Then we followed The Magic Onion’s directions on silk dying eggs.  So lovely!

We loved the results!  Next time, we will be careful to smooth the silk around the egg as much as possible, with little bunching of the fabric.  If the fabric is flat on the egg, the pattern comes out more clearly.  If there is bunching, it looks more batiked,  which is lovely too.

ABC Cards

Ever since I first saw sandpaper alphabet cards on another mama’s blog, I’ve been wanting a set of these for Leif.

I found small wooden cards at the local crafts store, along with felt capital letters and super sparkly, textured lower case letters.  The red felt letters are actually stickers.  So, Kaia took charge of sticking them to the wood.  The purple letters needed the hot glue gun.

Then this wonderful set of alphabet cards needed it’s own sweet carrying bag.

I hope they will get lots of use!

Story board

Want a fun way to encourage story telling and writing in your home?  Create a story board!

If you are sew crafty, you can sew some pockets onto a larger piece of fabric.  If you don’t sew, what about using poster board and gluing or stapling on paper pockets?

I sewed 12 pockets (about 4 inches wide, although next time I may make them larger) onto a large piece of felt.  Those are 3×5 cards, just for size reference.

Label these pockets.  We used the 5 W’s and ‘How’

Fill your pockets up with your ideas.  For example, ‘who’ could be grandma, Snoopy and Woodstock, the cat, Frosty the Snowman… ‘where’ might be the cellar, on Mars, under the table… Get the picture?

Then, have your kids take one piece of paper from each pocket without peeking at them.  With these they can create their story.  They can tell the story, act it out, write it down, draw it… however they want to create their story.  It can lead to some great fun!

And you don’t have to stop at the 5 W’s.  You can put whatever label on these pockets that you like.  For younger ones you can put a color, shape, letter, or number label on each pocket.  We put colors on each pocket and had Leif sort colored tiles and blocks.  You could do the same with shapes, letters and numbers using toys, refrigerator letter and number magnets, etc.

Kaia just went to the story board and pulled out these:

  • Who: Mom and Dad
  • What: Got an ugly haircut
  • When: in the distant future
  • Where: in a dungeon
  • Why: Because he burned his tongue

So… what kind of story would you make with this?

Math Doodling

Kaia and I took a break from our regularly scheduled math this morning after seeing some of these videos by Vihart.  She calls herself a ‘recreational mathemusician’, but that doesn’t come near describing how cool her brain is!  By watching just a couple of her videos Kaia and I found ourselves discussing fractals (again) which she loves, the concept of infinity, mobius strips, and a bunch more mathematical concepts.  For a 7 year old, that’s pretty advanced math.  But, when you bring it down to art, it seems so much easier to grasp.

Kaia immediately grabbed some paper and a pencil and set to doodling.

Here’s her ‘infinite series of circles, inside of an infinite number of circles”!

And more math doodles.

What a great way to spend a morning!

Here’s Vi’s blog if you want more of her creative mind!

Taking time

I’ve been wanting to post about all the things we’ve been up too lately… projects, crafts, homeschooling, the ducks, the land.  There’s always so much to share.  But, I’ve been finding it hard to take the time to sit down at the computer when life has been so full.  With having the kids at home, I’m generally only able to sit down after they are both asleep, and that could be 10 pm.  If we come across a craft or something that seems particularly useful to share, I will do my best to post it.  Until then, there are always pictures.

Warming up by the morning fire.  Don’t you love the ‘bed head’?

Me – Umm, Leif?  What are you putting in your car?

Leif – Haven’t you ever heard of a Clown Car, Mommy?

Leif – Well, this is a Bacon Car.

Note the two cherry tomatoes that somehow fit in there too!

Picture update

My posting has been fairly sporadic, I know.  But life is full and I don’t have much time to spend blogging.  So, here are some pictures to catch you up on our ‘doings’.  Hope you are all doing wonderfully and enjoying fall!

Leif's moved from a shoe obsession to hats.

Cowboy hat!

Paper boy hat! (And his delivery vehicle)


Kaia's ghostly pumpkin

Scar face


My awesome new scarf!! (Just finished last night)

subjects and predicates

This was a really fun lesson.  Kaia asked to do this over again and again.  She wrote the subjects and I wrote the predicates.  Then we put them in hats and drew out one of each.  In case you can’t see the last one it says “My mom’s butt – screams ‘Hallelujah!'”

All tuckered out!

Him too!!

First day of school

We started school today… Kaia is now an official second grader and Leif began his pre-pre-pre K studies.  (He he, ok, so he ran around grabbing pencils, walking over workbooks, and sitting on Kaia.  I did read him The ‘A’ Book, though!)  I like the schedule I have mapped out for this first semester.  On paper, it seems pretty manageable.  Even with breakfast, chores and many interruptions, we were still done by 1 pm.  Then, the mail lady arrived bringing two boxes of yummy goodness that I’d ordered to add more fun to our homeschool days.  Kaia immediately dove into it all!  In our boxes we got:

Unjournaling – I didn’t think we’d actually start this until late in the year, but Kaia wanted to dictate some journal entries to me.

Funny Fairy Tale Proofreading- again, Kaia wanted to keep doing this late into the afternoon.  I finally had to tell her I was done teaching for the day 🙂

The Periodic Table – We are starting chemistry this year, and though a lot of this is beyond her at this point, I still thought this would be a fun way to learn about the elements.  She ended up flipping through it for over an hour to find the ‘cute’ elements.

Amelia Rules – I got the first three books in this series and they look adorable.  Kaia is really starting to get into reading.  Over the summer she’s really bloomed.  So, since she loves comic books, I thought this would help fan her interest.

Vocabulary Power – Idioms – This is an idiom a day flip-type book.  Each day gives you a new idiom (like It’s raining cats and dogs) and what it really means.  Kaia said “do I have to do only one a day”

Vocabulary Power – Words – Another flip book… I thought this would be a great way to add new vocabulary words to our days.  Each page has a word, pronunciation, definition, and use in a sentence.  Any words that Kaia doesn’t know we add to our vocabulary list.  Occasionally I will draw from these words and their definitions for copy work.

Haiku Stickies – We haven’t really done much in the way of poetry yet, but I couldn’t pass these up!    They are yellow sticky pages with partially written haiku on them.  You fill them in and stick them some where to be found!  How cool is that.  I thought this would be a fun way to introduce some poetry.  (And what’s really cool is that the author, Allan Wolf, is a friend of mine…. we met in Tae Kwon Do)  (Sarah, don’t get these for Meg… she’ll be getting some for her birthday!)

First Art – I had to get something for Leif, too.  This looks like it’s going to be a great project book for keeping little hands occupied.  Thanks for the recommendation Nikki.

Kaia is doing well recovering.  She can almost straighten her leg and the swelling is almost gone.  She’s still using a walker, but she’s gotten super fast!  You have to watch out for her if she’s moving around or she’ll run over your toes!

Here’s the little foot hammock she created on her walker.

And here’s speedy gonzales!  See, she’s just a blur when she gets going!

We took everyone peach picking this weekend.  Kaia got pulled around in a wagon… pampered princess.  She was actually easier to pull than the load of peaches we got.  In the end we had 2 bushels of peaches, a peck of apples, a gallon of apple cider, and a dozen fresh apple cider doughnuts!!  (Umm, yeah, there’s only one doughnut left!)

Second grade prep

Kaia and I have been taking time this week to get her prepared for starting the second grade.  We’ve labeled and decorated folders, picked up some books from the library, filled her art box and refreshed her nature kit.  I think I’m more excited about school starting than she is :-)  I’m also trying to prepare for the fact that we will have a crazy little toddler trying to get into everything that Kaia is doing.  So, I’ve gotten some ABC craft and cookbooks (including this ebook which is full of fun ABC crafts) to work on with Leif, made smelly playdough, and dyed some rice.  I’ve also moved a little table and chairs (just Leif’s size) into the living room where we usually do our work.  I want to have some easy play things to pull out for Leif when Kaia needs to focus on school stuff.  Next week she will be spending some time with her Nana, so we plan to officially start on Aug. 30th.  I’m looking forward to getting into a routine.  Summer does a good job of sending us in all directions with no routine at all.  But that’s what Summer is for, isn’t it?

Drying Rice

Greek Mythology

As part of our summer curriculum, Kaia asked to learn more about the gods and goddesses.

We’ve been taking our relaxed time reading through mythology stories, coloring pictures, doing crafts…  But today, we brought it all to a close.  We started the morning by designing our togas and decorating ourselves in gold.  Then we broke out the Ambrosia (prepared the night before) and Nectar (peach juice mixed with carbonated water) and plopped down in front of Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief.

Ambrosia Salad

  • 1 – 15 oz. can of Mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 – 15 oz. can of pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 cup of miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries

Place all of the above in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

Pour this on top of the fruit mixture and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours (overnight is best).  And enjoy!

We got our idea for the toga from here. We used the Greek Chiton design, but just clipped one shoulder.  I love the way it looks on her.  This would be easy to sew up into everyday wear!

Sumerian Princess

Kaia is really enjoying the projects we are doing from Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors!

I have to admit…. I’d kinda like one of these head dresses for myself!

Tomorrow is her last official day of first grade!  Wow!  Calling her a second grader just makes her sound so old!!

I can’t wait to start on our summer study units.  We start mythology next week and I’m still trying to find a little bow and arrow so she can dress up like Athena and practice archery 🙂

Weekend projects

The 2 year old roof.

Spots are filling in pretty well.  I think I’ll give it one more year and then plant a few more things if needed.

I absolutely love all the color on the roof right now.  It’s like a patchwork quilt!

And the yard is coming along, too.  After 2 years of having huge piles of dirt and rubble in the yard, we finally had it leveled.  Now I have the perfect spot for my berry garden!!!  Yum Yummy!!

We also put up a bear fence for the beehives that are coming this week.  I finally painted the chicken coop… I just need to trim it in yellow and put some color on the windows… green or blue maybe?

I also made myself a Medicino sundress.  I love this pattern!  It’s so simple and such a cute dress!  Kaia wanted to pose in her dress with me.

Kaia has one more week of ‘official’ school left.  We will continue with math and reading through the summer, and add in whatever else she is interested in.  We are definitely going to do a few lessons on Greek Mythology!

Our weekend in Georgia

We had a wonderful 4 day weekend visiting my sister in Atlanta!  We spent lots of time seeing the sites and just catching up.

Our first full day there we went to the zoo.

This poor giraffe really wanted to eat the trees that were just out of reach.  Can you see its tongue reaching out?

This elephant was having fun cooling himself off by splashing mud up on its back.

When we got to the panda area, this one got up from its nap, came over and sat right in front of us to have a little snack.

Of course there were rides:

And silliness:

And exhaustion:

The next day, we hit the Aquarium… the largest one in the world!  Really cool place!!

Kaia pet the sting rays and the sharks!

They have a tunnel that goes right through the largest tank of fish!  REALLY COOL to walk underneath basking sharks and other huge fish!!

See the people in this picture below?  That gives an idea of the scale of this tank.  The tunnel was about 4 times what you see in this picture.

Check out this manta ray!!!  Fabulous!

There was also a beautiful coral reef display!  I LOVED the colors of the fish.  I think this pink one with the purple square on it is a Square Spot Anthias. Sooo Coool!

Then there was more exhaustion!

We really had a blast!

Of course, we are decompressing this week, and homeschooling has been very light!  But we are mostly wrapping things up for the end of the year, so that’s just fine by me!

Thoughts on homeschooling

One of the things I was worried about when deciding to homeschool Kaia is that she would feel that she missed out on some of the fun things that big schools offer like going to school games, prom, and year books.  Now, I laugh about those things, but back then, they were a huge deal.  I’m lucky to live in an area with a big homeschooling community.  There is a homeschool yearbook, homeschool prom, and homeschool athletic leagues, and if Kaia and Leif chose to participate in those… great.  But in an effort to cover all of my bases, Kaia and I decided to create school t-shirts.  First we had to decide on the school name:  Green Meadow School.  Then we had to create a mascot: a flying unicorn with a shape-shifting mermaid on it’s back.  Once that was done, we knew that the motto had to be “Where flying unicorns and shape-shifting mermaids RULE!”.  The school colors are “blue and rainbow, with a hint of gold” (yes, that is exactly what Kaia said).  We may create a new shirt each year… maybe we’ll change the mascot and colors, too.  We’ll see.  But, now, she can show her school spirit and be proud of her school when people ask her about her shirt!

Here is our family school picture:

No, wait, that’s not it….

Here it is:

OY!  It’s so hard to take a picture of all of us being still at the same time in the same place.  Let’s try this one:

Much better 🙂

Biltmore Homeschool Festival

Last week, were were able to enjoy a day at the Biltmore House during their Homeschool Festival.  They put this on twice a year and it’s lots of fun.  Their focus this year was Farms, Flowers, and Food.  We made terrariums, listened to a stories about farming, learned to make peanut butter, made leaf prints, and lots more.  But my absolute favorite part was stomping grapes!  We all got in the grape bucket and tried our turn at making wine, even Leif!  Then we made prints of our feet (the prints are actually made with purple ink).

It also happened to be during the time of their Festival of Flowers, so we were able to enjoy that too!


Kaia and I have been working on the concept of symmetry in math for the last few days.  We’ve looked at the symmetry of shapes, objects, foods, etc.  We talked about how our bodies are symmetrical (one arm on each side, one leg…), but thought it would be fun to see what it would look like if our faces were really completely symmetrical.

I took a picture of Kaia (she hammed it up) and then altered it so that we could see what she would actually look like if the right half of her face was exactly like the left (and vice-versa).

Here is the original picture:

Here is her right side.

Here is her left:

Her favorite part was seeing the design that her hair makes.  It would be neat to make something like this with an object from nature… maybe a tree, and look at the symmetry of the branches.

Field trip!

One thing I really like about homeschooling is going on field trips!  (OK, I know that I could go on field trips even if Kaia was in public school, but it just seems like more fun when we get to design and plan them ourselves!)  She just finished up her solar system and prehistory studies.  So, we headed to the Raleigh/Durham area to visit friends and play!

The first day, we met up with some other homeschooling friends and headed to the NC Museum of Life and Science.  The little ladies enjoyed looking at the butterflies in the butterfly exhibit.

Driving the boats in their wind exploration exhibit.

Climbing on the dinosaurs.

Digging through the rubble for fossils.  (Leif especially enjoyed tasting the fossils!)

On day two, we went to the Morehead Planetarium to see a show!  We all enjoyed relaxing in the reclining chairs and watching the stars above in their huge dome auditorium.  After, we spent hours playing and exploring at the NC Botanical Gardens.  Leif made some great moves on their life size chess set.

Day three took us on a tour of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  We went specifically for the Megalodon exhibit, but enjoyed walking through the whole thing.  Leif said ‘hi’ to the little turtle swimming back and forth.

Kaia heard the secrets of the dinosaurs.

And, of course, there were lots of smiles along the way!

Kaia, who has always been a very cautious little lady, decided she wanted to take a ride on ‘uncle’ Mark’s bike!  I was really proud of her!  She’s usually one who would prefer to sit back and watch rather than participate.  So for her to take this step was a pretty big thing!

Off she goes!

Leif enjoyed some riding of his own!

And a little exploration of daddy’s face.

And a little more exploration!

Kaia took this picture when she noticed the sun shining through the glass door.  I love it!

By the end of the 4 days, we were all pretty tuckered out!

We’ve got lots more field trips planned this year!  Next stop is in May when we head to my sister’s in Atlanta for some time at the Aquarium and the zoo!

While we were gone, our fantastic neighbors and friends took care of our animals.  Kathie even put up a few videos of the chickens, too.