Nathan's Fantastical Beast Drawings

Nathan has been inspired to copy illustrations from Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You which can be bought here.  He has been practicing with his Prismacolor pencils and blender.


My Menu Plan

Since the school year started, I have been implementing a weekly dinner menu to make the days run more smoothly.  It has helped!  You can download the form I use here.  I prefer the 1-Week Menu with Grocery List.  I clip this to my refrigerator once it is compiled by using a magnetic clip.  Check out her blog while you are there!

Before creating my menu, I look through my freezer, refrigerator and pantry to see what I can use up.  Then, I look through my index card file box which holds recipes which are placed behind dividers.  My categories are:


I typically try to choose a meal from seven different categories though this often depends on what I have on hand.  I then write the meals on the left-hand column and any items I need on the right-hand column.  I then add anything else we are in need of.

I like having the menu with me when I am at the grocery store because I can tweak my menu, for if I see something on sale, I can easily see what meal to replace it with.  For example, if I plan to buy broccoli, but there is a great deal on cabbage, I can change my vegetable.

I am also flexible with the days of the week each meal is served on, but this ensures that I have meals planned for seven nights.  I do try to plan a crockpot meal on Wednesdays so I have less to do when we return from piano lessons.

I am not a fan of preparing meals on the weekend for future use, but I do a few things to make the week go more smoothly.  For example, I cooked the ground beef and chicken with onions and divided it up into two freezer bags.  One will be used in tacos this week while the other will be ready to use in a dish the following week.

Aside from making meal preparation and selection easier throughout the week, I have found I spend less money at the grocery store.  I will still stock up on some things not on my menu (like clearance meat), but I don't overbuy produce anymore.  I had a horrible habit of buying produce because it was on sale and then not using it.  Too much was going in our compost pile.

Our breakfasts and lunches are rather predictable, so I don't actually plan those.

I keep on hand a variety of cereals, milk, tea, oatmeal, nuts, bread, eggs, fruit, and nitrate-free turkey bacon for breakfasts.

I keep on hand bread, peanut butter, jelly, canned tuna, nitrate-free lunch meat, sliced cheese, eggs, hummus, plain yogurt, cucumbers, baby carrots, plain yogurt and fruit.  I also buy a few canned soups when they are on sale for the boys to heat up.



Green Valley Book Fair and Audio Book Give-away

And, the winner is Stacey Jeannete!  Please email me your mailing address!

While in the Shenandoah Valley, we finally visited the Green Valley Book Fair.  I had so much fun looking at all the children's books; many were titles I had never seen before.  For about $50, I received the following history, artist and composer books which I know we will enjoy.

I also bought several fun books for Ben including Poptropica and Club Penguin items along with The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper (Audiobook on CD) and The Modern Story Book (CD and book set).

For Nathan, I bought The Secret History of Giants and Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia.  My husband picked out a landscape painting book for him.  His favorite from us is The Name of this Book is Secret (Audio CD by Pseudonymous Bosch).

So, I bought an extra The Name of this Book is Secret audio CD to give away on my blog.  If you would like this unabridged audio book, just leave a comment on this post, and I will choose a name at random on September 4!


Fresh Air!

We took the chicks out for a little fresh air and sunshine yesterday. The soaked it in!


Our Incubation Project

I bought a styrofoam incubator years ago at a yard sale for $5.00. I finally had a chance to use it when a friend gave us four fertilized eggs. So, I found the box in the garage, dusted it off, set it up and hoped for the best. It worked! For 19 days, I flipped the eggs two-three times each day. On the 20th day, I added water to the extra reservoir and waited. The next day, I noticed a tiny chip off the egg (I learned this is called peeping). Within 24 hours, three eggs (named by the boys Charles, Cheep-Cheep and Peetey) had hatched with little Luna bringing up the rear.



Children of Summer: Henri Fabre's Insects

Today, I finished reading Children of Summer: Henri Fabre's Insects by Margaret J. Anderson to the boys.  It is a lovely book which introduces naturalist and scientist Henri Fabre and many of his insect investigations.  Here is a review from Booklist.
Imagine having a father who is known as a hermit, accused of being a poacher, and thought to be strange and simpleminded. According to this fictionalized story, French entomologist Jean Henri Fabre, a contemporary and correspondent of Darwin and a friend of John Stuart Mill, may have been such a man. Using the voice of Fabre's 10-year-old son Paul, who, according to Fabre's own writings, often helped his father, Anderson tells of Fabre's passion for learning about cicadas, scorpions, and the other "children of summer." The man's curious behavior will draw readers in, and the descriptions of the oddities of the insect world will keep them interested: children are bound to remember Fabre's shooting a cannon to test cicadas' hearing and the family's eating a meal of cossus grubs. Although this is fiction, not science how-to, the book may, perhaps, inspire some unusual science projects about insect behavior. Karen Morgan
His Life of the Spider can be listened to for free here.

Several of his books can be read online for free here.


Catching up on posting the boys' I. E. W. writing assignments

I never took the time to upload some of the boys' writing assignments for the course we have been using this year from the Institute for Excellence in Writing -- Student Writing Intensive A. So, here they are!

First are Ben's from the assignments "Our First President" and "The Donkey and His Driver."

Next are Nathan's from the assignments "Our First President" and "Peter the Great."


I. E. W. -- The Princess and the Pea

We have been moving slowly -- too slowly -- through our writing course this year. On the bright side, we have been diligent in all other areas.

Here is Ben's -- 5th Grade
Here is Nathan's -- 6th Grade.


Welcome back!

Wow!  It's been a while since I posted.  I've fallen into the habit of just posting on Facebook because it's so convenient.  So, I thought I'd go through my Facebook posts and see if there is anything worth posting here.

First subject -- Poetry!

Though I read a lot of poetry to my boys, I wanted something poetry-related for them to complete independently. Essentially, they read a poem a day, then they answer a few multiple-choice questions for comprehension, then they focus on some poetry elements. Though Evan Moor offers other grade levels, this is the book we are using.

Here are some samples from two different grade levels:

I Hear America Singing


I. E. W.'s Student Writing Intensive A -- most recent work

Below are the boys' versions of the Institute for Excellence in Writing assignments "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."  Both Ben and Nathan modified the original story to their fancies.


Cobblestone Publishing FREEBIE! The Perfect Storm!

Download digital copies of the following magazine issues for free here.

APPLESEEDS only - ages 7 to 10

COBBLESTONE only - ages 9 and up; American History

CALLIOPE only - ages 9 and up; World History

FACES only - ages 9 and up; World Cultures

ODYSSEY only - ages 9 and up; Science

DIG only - ages 9 and up; Archaeology


Well, hello there!

I know I have neglected posting, but (as everyone says), I've been so busy.  Really, though, aren't we all?  I have a few minutes, so I wanted to pop in and post a few random thoughts.

1.  We have been consistently learning Latin this year!  Okay, I admit, I took a year in college, but I remember practically nothing!  We started out using Latin for Children, and though I am certain it is a fabulous program, it wasn't for us -- at least not at this stage.  I wanted a more gentle introduction, especially for Ben.  My goal is to have them comfortable with a foreign language to be able to study one in high school.  I really enjoyed the Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek program, so we are using their companion, Latin's Not So Tough series. It doesn't introduce terms such as accusative or genitive, but I know enough of that to teach the vocabulary correctly.  We also diagram many of our Latin sentences.  I'm really just thrilled with the slow approach and the review!

2.  I am loving my dry erase board again.  I have had a world map taped to it for the last few years, but I recently switched from teaching the boys' grammar, math, and Latin on paper to the white board again.  So, I bought a mega set of beautiful markers and a spray bottle of cleaner.  Teaching is so much more fun this way, and the boys love coming up to the board to diagram or solve a math problem!  I find it particularly helpful to write a Latin sentence on the board if either of the boys translates it incorrectly.  We can then slowly discuss, and we all benefit from the review!

3.  I bought two of these Backyard Safari Base Camp Expedition sets from B. J.'s Wholesale at the clearance price of $19.99.  The boys really enjoy them!  The tents are basically half-tents, but one wall is lined with pockets, and the set comes with a nice lantern, some netting, and non-functioning binoculars (according to Nathan).  I also bought these camouflage sheets to add to their fort-building experience.

5.  We have been reading through an older history book titled Machines and Men Who Made the World of Industry by Gertrude Hartman (my edition was published in 1939).  I love finding these out-of-print books that are such a joy to read!  It is lining up perfectly with our Story of the World chapter on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution!





I just wanted to post the boys' diagramming from yesterday because they did such a great job!