Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rest of the Garden Tour

It's taken me awhile to finish off the incredible garden tour I wrote about a few weeks ago. As promised, here is the rest of our tour!

After leaving Boho Farm and Home, we moved on to the other gardens. Our next few gardens were wonderful examples of how you can utilize your yard, no matter what the size, for growing food for you, your family and friends. I didn't take many photos of the next garden on our list but their yard was filled with growing things, almost all of them edible!  They had all varieties of fruit trees, corn, strawberries, herbs and of course, tomatoes.  I'm sure they had more growing, I just can't remember what all they had.  They also had a backyard pond with koi. Very pretty and peaceful. They also had chickens and ducks. I took a picture of the ducks for my kids. :)

In Ohio, ducks and geese were not something  you necessarily welcomed into your yard. They were more of a pest that you tried to keep out due to their mess and in the case of geese, their tempers! Obviously ducks lay eggs and large ones at that!

Moving on from this small urban farm we went to another yard that wasn't very large but packed so much into their growing space, they have created a CSA for the neighborhood!  Farmyard devoted their entire front yard, and a good portion of their back yard as well, to growing vegetables and fruit. Instead of a manicured lawn, they have well maintained beds brimming with beautiful looking vegies!

Front yard

Summer squash and sunflower hedge

What's behind the towering sunflowers...

Back yard

shading the tomatoes


blackberry bushes

Chicken coop and run

 Moving on from this fun farm we visited a small farm that just started in January! His farm was tiny but it was mighty. :)  

Egg collecting box

corn, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, melons. He had a lot growing in this tiny spot

  You can see his compost bins in the upper right

After leaving this farm we had one more to visit. The last farm is on the largest piece of land, around an acre and is the home of Jill of Sweet Life Garden.  This farm was amazing. The property has been in Jill's family for many years and has been tended to with loving care. They have mature fruit trees, peaches, apricots, apples and various citrus, which she sells as whole fruit or in delicious jams and marmalades.  Her flower beds are overflowing with gorgeous flowers and her vegetable gardens were full of beautiful vegetables.  She has a huge chicken coop, with lots and lots of chickens. I can't remember how many she said she has, but it was a lot!  Her yard is where the picnic was held. This is where we all gathered at the end of the tour for a delicious lunch made from the gardens of Rebecca of Farmyard.  People spread out over her entire yard enjoying the scenery and delicious lunch.

I'll leave you with pictures of Jill's beautiful yard and our incredible picnic lunch! Thank you to all the talented gardeners for opening up your yards and sharing your knowledge with us.  We loved the tour and your hospitality and hope to come back through in the fall!  

Make sure you check out the gardeners websites linked in the post for more info on their gardens and growing beautiful, edible treats in the desert!  They have some beautiful pictures on their blogs. :)

Chicken Coop

Little spaces of beauty throughout the yard

Gorgeous flowers

Strawberries! Blackberries are behind, along the fence

Sweet Life Garden's orchard

Even her blueberries are thriving!

Espaliered Apple Tree, along the pool fence. :)

another view of the veggies and flowers


Yum! Doesn't that look good? It was!

Change and Growing

What do you see when you look at this picture? A filthy wall? Most definitely (and a big boo to the contractor who refused to use paint I could actually wash). Look more closely and what do you see? Still only see a filthy wall? (I can't blame you, it's pretty bad) I see that, but so much more.

Maybe it would be better to look at what you don't see to understand what I see.  Can you make out vertical lines of dirt? Lines evenly spaced w/ little smudges in between?  Those lines are made from slats, slats from my little gals crib. And those smudges in between? Those are marks where her little feet  would push through  and leave little imprints! Marks of days spent playing barefoot outside, running in grass, digging in dirt. Days of so much activity, she was laid to rest w/ unwashed toes but a happy soul.

My little gal was moved today in with her big sisters. No longer does she have the room right next to mine. She didn't want to sleep alone anymore. Her sisters have a room big enough to share. It was time. Even though she was ready, I wasn't. Every time I pass by her open door I see the empty spot where her crib sat. I see that filthy wall and I remember. I remember all the nights I sat with her, rocking her, comforting her, helping ease her back to sleep.  Hours of quiet singing, praying over her, whispering truths of God's love for her into her little ear. She won't remember any of it, but I will.

Knowing she was my last baby, I cherished those times. Even though I knew I'd be so tired in the morning and would still have to function to take care of the other five kids living in this house, I cherished those early morning rockings.  Just her and I, awake in a house that's so full of activity, hushed for a few precious hours each day.

The room will be re-purposed. New furniture moved in, the walls repainted. The dirt cleaned away, along with those tiny footprints.  

I praise God that she is healthy and growing and maturing. That she's able to sleep all through the night and that I can sleep all night long again. But, why? Why can't they stay little just a little bit longer?

Friday, May 27, 2011

TOS Review - Apologia Read for the Heart

Title: Read for the Heart Whole Books for Wholehearted Families
Author:  Sarah Clarkson
Publisher:  Apologia/WholeHeart, a division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
Address:  1106 Meridian Plaza, STE 220, Anderson, IN 46016
Copywrite:  2009
ISBN:  978-1-932012-97-2
Order:  Apologia  (retails for $17.00)

This is my last blog review for The Old School House (TOS) Crew and what a wonderful way to end an amazing year. I am so happy that my last review is on something that I not only love but something I can wholeheartedly recommend!  Seeing as this book comes from WholeHeart Ministries, it should be no surprise that I can recommend it, wholeheartedly. chuckle, chuckle. 

All kidding aside, if you are a book lover, and what homeschool mom isn't?, this is a fabulous book to have on your shelf.  This is a book of books. Lists and lists of books, that come recommended by the author of Read for the Heart. What makes this book unique from other booklist books is the author, Sarah Clarkson, was homeschooled herself. She is the oldest daughter of Sally and Clay Clarkson, who started Wholeheart Ministries, and was raised in a literature rich home.  Saturated and dripping with high quality literature choices at her fingertips through her formative years, a passion for the written word and a heart for sharing that passion with others, is what prompted Sarah to write this book. So not only are you getting a list of incredible books, you are also getting a piece of Sarah's passion when you open up the pages of this book and delve into what is written there. 

Here's an excerpt from Sarah's book, ch 1 pg 26:
Reading has taught me how to live.
The books I have read have shaped me to see, to engage, to love. Reading has taught me not just to think, but also to look up from the pages of my book at a world that is itself a story. Books have trained me to be active, alert and ready to enter life as I find it. At this moment I may not be reading, but I'm writing. Watching. Laughing. In short, living. That is really the point of all this reading.
Passion. Life. Living. Sarah has captured her zest for life in the pages of her book and is sharing it with us! I had the pleasure hearing Sarah speak in person at a Whole Heart Conference this past February. She is the real deal. The way she spoke, the passion for learning and living and reading was just as present in her in real life as it is in this book. What you read in these pages is Sarah.

The book itself is 384 pages, soft cover and is broken into easy to navigate sections. Along with the lists of books, Sarah has written about her passion for books and life, the state of literacy in our country (not a pretty state, btw), a "how to use" section explaining how the book is broken apart and finally, the lists! Oh joy! The lists are amazing. To use a term coined by Charlotte Mason, you won't find "twaddle" in these lists! The lists are broken into the following categories:
  • Picture Books
  • The Golden Age of Classics
  • Children's Fiction
  • Fairy Tales and Fantasy
  • History and Biography
  • Spiritual Reading for Children
  • Poetry
  • Music, Art and Nature
There are also six appendices:
  • Caldecott Medalists
  • Newbery Medalists
  • Historical Fiction by G.A. Henty
  • Landmark History Books
  • The Trailblazer Series
  • A Few of My Favorite Things (Sarah's favorites)
and two indexes:
  • Authors and Illustrators
  • Titles
Like I said, this book is easy to navigate! There are so many different ways to find a book that will suit your needs. Recently, I had a friend asking me for recommendations for books on WWII for her 12 year old daughter. I grabbed this book and within seconds, we were compiling a list of books for her daughter to read. It was really that easy. 

If you love books, or even just like them, you will not be disappointed with this book!

You can read what my fellow crew mates thought of Read for the Heart, here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing.  I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TOS Review - Eagles Wings

Title:  Considering God's Creation
Author:  Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith
Publisher:  Eagle's Wings
Address:  P.O. Box 502 Duncan, OK 73534
ISBN Student Text:  1-931292-19-1
ISBN Teachers Manual:  1-931292-175
ISBN Two Volume Set:  1-931292-18-3
Age Range: Primarily early elementary but adaptable for 2nd-7th grades.
Price:  $29.95 for Student workbook, Teachers Manual and audio CD

Considering God's Creation is a hands on, christian worldview science curriculum for elementary grade students.  For this review, we received the Student Manual, a consumable, 268 page, soft back book which contains line drawings, crossword puzzle and a glossary.  The Teachers Manual, a 128 page, soft cover book in black and white that contains all the information you need to complete the lessons. There are scripted lessons which you can just read, or use as suggestions as a springboard for discussion. The answer key to the student's book is also included.  An audio CD is also included in the package.

Each lesson has the following:

  • Preparation - gives details of what you will need for each lesson.
  • Vocabulary - words and definitions for each lesson.
  • Introduction - introduces the topic being studied.
  • Song/Poem 
  • Activity - hands on activities for each lesson.
  • Bible Reading - Recommended scripture for each lesson.
  • Notebook - Notebooking activities are suggested.
  • Evolution Stumpers - Evolution view vs Biblical view 
  • Review - a recap of the lesson
  • Digging Deeper - more challenging and thought provoking activities.
The book is divided into 36 lessons covering all aspects of general science:
  • Creation
  • Universe
  • Stars
  • Solar System
  • Earth
  • Light
  • Sound
  • Wind
  • Weather
  • Clouds
  • Rocks
  • Plants
  • Insects
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Food Chains
  • Reproduction and Genetics
  • Human
  • Animal Anatomy
  • Physiology

  example page of zoology

You can view sample pages here.

My thoughts on this science curriculum
This is a very gentle introduction to science. The authors recommended age range of Elementary aged students is fairly accurate, although I would classify it more as Early Elementary and would have a hard time stretching this into a viable Jr. High science class and definitely not for Sr. High as is suggested in the manual for multi-level teaching. There isn't enough depth on any one subject to make me comfortable agreeing with their assessment.

  • I like the approach that the authors take to science. For younger kids it's all about discovery. This program gives them that in a structured, yet gentle way. 
  • Cost! It's quite affordable. 
  • Clearly laid out and easy to follow.
  • Easily adaptable to your schedule.
  • Short lessons.
  • Easy to prep for. No hunting and hunting and hunting for supplies.
  • At first glance, this looks like a workbook. It's not! Just first glance and impressions have always led me to believe that is what this curriculum was, fill in the blank, T/F type workbook pages. (I was pleasantly surprised to find it was actually very hands on and not too workbookish.)
  • Again, just my opinion, the age ranges that I would comfortably recommend this program for are much narrower than recommended by the authors. Not really a negative, just a different opinion than they share. 
Bottom line, if you are looking for a very gentle, inexpensive, biblically based, scripted science curriculum for your younger elementary students, you won't be disappointed in checking out this program.

Eagle's Wings sells several different curriculum and bible studies. Make sure you check out some of their other products.  To purchase Considering God's Creation, click here.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow TOS Crew mates thought of this science curriculum!

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good Night 9 year old!

R's last night in single digits

After our traditional, "tell me about the day I was born" story, I kissed my sweet 9 year old girl goodnight for the last time!  Tomorrow, when she awakes, she will officially be 10!  Yay!! Thank you, Lord, for giving me this precious child to raise.

(she doesn't usually look quite this crazy. The flash is bright! LOL)

Bread Day!

It's been awhile, but today I broke out my mill and wheat berries (yeah, I'm one of those homeschoolers ;) ), dusted off an old recipe and got busy making some fresh bread for my family. 

A well used recipe from many years ago, 
written in hubby's barely legible scrawl

Freshly milled flour

Yeast, water, honey, salt and 5 cups flour


Tea just starting to brew
While the bread was rising, I made some fresh brewed tea.

Yeast all bubbly

Poof, go the bubbles


Waiting - this time for the oven to heat up

Bread in oven and tea is done

25 minutes later, 4 hot loaves come out of the oven

with six expectant tongues waiting

Even though I can't eat the bread anymore, wah, I know that my kids will devour it. The four loaves will be gone by the time everyone goes to sleep tonight and I know that the bread that they ate was made with nothing but the best ingredients and lots of love.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jam making giveaway!

 Peach Jam making class

Have you ever wanted to make jam but were stumped where to start? Head over to Boho Farm for a jam giveaway designed for beginning jammers!

To enter, become a follower of her blog and leave a comment letting her know you'd like to enter. For a second chance to win, blog about her contest w/ a link, and leave a second comment letting her know!

What will you win?

The Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit - Starter kit for novice canners.

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - basic, straight forward canning instructions. Great for beginners and one experienced canners return to often.

Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff - Canning book for those who are more experienced and ready to try some new and exciting canning techniques.

What a fun giveaway!

Thank you Boho Farm for sharing your passion and knowledge with all of us!

Friday, May 20, 2011

TOS Review - Talking Fingers Wordy Qwerty

As part of the TOS Crew we recently had the opportunity to use Wordy Qwerty, an online software program from Talking Fingers. Wordy Qwerty is the follow-up program to their Read, Write & Type Learning System I reviewed this past fall and is geared for grades 2-4.

We were anxious to give this program a try.  My son had enjoyed the original program and was now ready to move on to spelling. :)

There are 20 lessons with 6 activities per lesson. Each lesson covers a different spelling rule. The 6 activities work with words for each rule.Through the 6 activities, students will build a solid foundation to help with fluency.

  •  Most words follow about 20 easy spelling rules.
  • There are several ways some sounds can be represented.
  • There are many word families. By changing the first letter, you can make hundreds of words.
  • Some words don't follow any rules. Learn to recognize those words right away.
  • Having a student write what is being dictated (a word, phrase or passage) spoken to them, develops vocabulary, comprehension and fluency as well as spelling skills. 
  • Filling in the missing blank while reading, develops vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills.

The lessons are taught using games, music, and catchy tunes called JingleSpells, which, not surprisingly, is the biggest hit of the program here.

Game - the child has to spell the word, then select which sound the letter makes

Keyboard Buddy - tell your child the spelling rule after a group of words is spelled

Jingle - after the rule is introduced, a jingle about the rule is sung. 
Your child can sing along by clicking on the microphone on the lower right.

Game - choose the correct spelling of the word. If both are correct, click both

Game - finish the sentence with the correct word (and spelling!)

Each level completed gives you another piece of instrument. Once all levels are completed, you have a complete instrument, ready to play for you. Did I mention the songs were the most enjoyed part of the program? ;-)

My 7 year old really enjoyed this program. I've employed some of the rules to life outside of Wordy Qwerty, not only in his writing but also with his reading. When he's stumbling over a word, not sure of the vowel sound, I remind him of what he learned with Wordy Qwerty and he pipes up with an enthusiastic, "Oh yeah!" 

There are several ways to purchase Wordy Qwerty, online versions, what we reviewed, and a CD ROM (check for computer compatibility before purchasing!).
Online license:
Individual - $25.00
Multiple child discount -$35+ depending on the amount of students.

$35 for the Home Edition  and includes the program CD, program guide, and JingleSpells.

You can receive a 20% discount on your next order by joining their mailing list .

If you'd like to see how the program works, and to see if you think it would be a good fit for your family, you can try lesson one for free .

To see what others on the TOS Crew thought of Wordy Qwerty, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.