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HSV Garden Challenge #2

A current photo (sprouts, buds? Or has that snow melted yet?) 

Well, I decided that although worn, our garden boxes had a few more years in them. So, I rearranged them, put them closer together and was able to add 3 more 4x4 boxes and a 3x13 box for a total of 199 square feet in the back yard (231 if you count the strawberry bed).

Here is the garden area, in progress, last week:

So far we have planted garlic and onion sets. . . 

I used the end of the hoe to punch holes in the soil and let the little ones place the sets in the ground, pointy side up ~ 4 per square foot for onions and I originally had 5 per square foot for the garlic, but we had a few extra, so I made room (much to my little ones' delight). I've read that some go up to 9, but I wanted to be generous with the spacing, hoping for larger bulbs.  

I've read that you can plant some seeds outside and they will sprout when the conditions are right. . . let's hope so. :D 

Trying to organize the craziness and decide what to plant.

Indoors, my starts are coming along. These were taken last week ~ I was excited to see some green. =) 

Russian Mammoth Sunflower

Roma Tomato

Last year, I used a light hut on a table in the dining room and it worked wonderfully. This year, I cleaned out the mud room (which has windows on three sides), set up a table and hung a plant light... it does not stay as warm as the dining room because the kids are always leaving the back door open, but it will hopefully warm up soon. And it will be super easy to harden them off ~ all I have to do is open the big windows and the door during the day for a week, and then day and night for a few days ~ no more carrying trays and trays of starts outside and in, over and over again!

Any unexpected hiccups (bugs, rabbits, weather, etc.) 

  • We have a known squirrel problem. To keep them away from digging in my onion/garlic bed we covered them with netting and we called the city to have them set traps.  
  • We have also had some inclement weather (snow and rain). 
  • Jordan's 1-ton broke down on the way home from getting the compost. We towed it home and thought we had it running, so we loaded it back up with our green waste pile (in our town, you can exchange green waste for compost at the landfill), but we never made it.  I need about one half of a ton more compost. Luke's starter is out on his truck up at the property, and our 1-ton (a '72) needs tires. So, we borrowed the Y truck to get the cattle panels for the fence. I have a while before I can plant anyways, so there is time.
  • Also, vermiculite doubled in price this year and I wasn't willing to pay $60 for a bag that I used to pay $20 for a few years ago. I was willing to fork out $30 last year, but not $60. So, I'm not using "Mel's Mix." Just compost and peat moss. 

New books/resources I am using:

I thought I'd also mention a few that have been very helpful to me in the past:

One thing I have learned so far from gardening (besides it requires patience) 

  • That a garden challenge really helps in the motivation department. ;-)
  • That buying the trays and inserts from a local greenhouse, is more economical than buying seed starter kits.
Delightful Links: (more gardening posts I've written)

I'm looking forward to living vicariously through everyone else's gardening posts and dreaming of what sunny days may bring after all this rain! 

No Place Like Holmes {Book Review}

No Place Like Holmes
By Jason Lethcoe
Published by Thomas Nelson
Juvenile Nonfiction / Religious / Christian / Action & Adventure
Price: $9.99

Book Description

"Griffin Sharpe has an uncanny ability to notice everything. Which is a great quality for a future detective, he tells himself.

It looks like his big break is about to happen when he gets the chance to visit his uncle in England for an entire summer. Especially because his uncle lives at 221 Baker Street, the address of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Griffin arrives at 221 Baker Street, only to discover that Holmes lives in flat 221B and his much less well known, eccentric uncle lives in flat 221A Baker Street! In the midst of his disappointment Griffin stumbles onto a mystery too strange for even the great Sherlock Holmes. It will take Griffin's faith and nose for clues and his uncle's quirky, but surprisingly brilliant inventions to crack the case!"

My initial impression:

A quick glance at the Contents reveals interesting titles and a few special extras like a How Sharpe Are You? section to see how much you remember, Griffin Sharpe Mini-Mysteries, Mrs. Tottingham's Delicious Scone Recipe, and an excerpt from The Future Door, book 2 in the No Place Like Holmes series. This looks like a fun book!

My Review:

I was not disappointed. I like Griffin Sharpe from the beginning. His character is well developed. He is sharp, very clever indeed, honest and very observant. In fact, his observations lend the book fascinating detail and vivid descriptions.

The setting adds to the charm of this book. Lethcoe does a wonderful job of giving the reader a glimpse at what life must have been like in 1903 when "motorcars were rare and pianos tinkled in elegant parlors, when men wore top hats and ladies carried beautiful parasols."

The plot is well crafted and interesting.  The climax even leaves you in suspense and reveals a surprising ending ~ one that is touching and will make you want to read more.

I especially appreciate how Griffin's faith is intertwined in the book. This is not just another book that is merely made to look like a Christian book, we see how Griffin's faith affects not only his life, and his uncle's life, but the world around him. Beautifully done!

Geared towards young readers, it is sure to be a hit. I'm sure my boys will agree. But I can't wait until the next book comes out!  In the mean time, I will enjoy some of Mrs. Tottingham's Delicious Scones... because after reading the book, one can hardly resist not making some to enjoy with some tea!

I review for BookSneeze®

Mrs. Katz and Tush {FI♥AR}

"In this special Passover story, Larnel Moore, a young African-American boy, and Mrs. Katz, an elderly Jewish woman, develop an unusual friendship through their mutual concern for an abandoned cat named Tush. Together they explore the common themes of suffering and triumph in each of their cultures." ~ Patricia Polacco

In "school" this week we remembered the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits (Resurrection Day), so I thought this would tie in perfectly with Mrs. Katz and Tush!

Here is what we did:

Social Studies: Relationships ~ Loving Our Neighbor

Betty is an elderly widow neighbor. We love to take her meals, baked goods, and keep her company. She is in a nursing home until her daughter comes to stay with her, so we went to visit her.

We took her a pink carnation in a rose bowl because in the Spring when our wild roses bloom, she asks for one for her rose bowl.

She has been gone for two months and we were happy to learn that she will be home in one more week. On our way home, I talked to the little ones about more ways that we can be a good neighbor to her. She likes hollyhocks, so I suggested we plant some hollyhocks for her to enjoy. 

Social Studies: History ~ the Exodus from Egypt, Passover

The Exodus from Egypt is mentioned in the book, so we did the Deliverance and Exodus lessons from Grapevine's Old Testament Overview.

We also covered the New Covenant Passover in The Resurrection study.

A study of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread from The Biblical Feasts and Holy Days would also tie in perfectly with this book!

In the book, Mrs. Katz compares the bondage of the Israelites (she specifies the Jewish nation, but all twelve tribes were in bondage in Egypt) to the slavery of Larnel's people. We discussed that and also talked about the Israelites whom are still exiled to the nations and whom Father is prophesied to gather in the end days ~ we believe we are a part of that prophecy as Father lifts the blinders off and calls His people, Israel, back and we return to our Hebrew roots  ~ whether blood born or grafted in. ;-) {Romans 11}

Social Studies: Culture ~ Israel

Yiddish ~ we learned some Yiddish words from the story like bubeleh (darling one or little one).

I don't think we will try the gelfite fish (mentioned in the story), but I did make a kugel ~ a Cheesy Potato Kugel.

{We've made this one for years} I wasn't brave enough to make a noodle kugel ~ mushy noodles sound gross to me. If you have a recipe for one that you love, please share!

We also made potato pancakes.

And for a special treat, we had some kosher marshmallows from Israel. 

{Malachi and Eliana have never had a marshmallow before!}

We kept Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread this week, so we made a traditional Jewish matzah (unleavened bread) . . . 

And with some commercial Matzah. . .

we made Matzah Pizza!

Language Arts: Narration ~ I had the kids narrate the story to me and then they illustrated it.

Malachi, age 6

Eliana, age 4

Science: Cats

We visited the Cat and Dog Shelter to pet and play with the cats and kittens. Of course, they begged me to take one home, but, um... no. They were running a special ~ adopt one cat over a year old, get one cat over 4 months old for free. The kittens are easier to find homes for. It's no wonder ~ they are so cute!

We found a cat without a tail, just like Tush. =)

Science Experiments in a Bag

I originally saw Science Experiments in a Bag at Our Homeschool Fun. Susana first mentioned them in her curriculum post (I heart her picture of all the experiments ready to go!) and then in their first lesson on spiders. They looked like a wonderful way to add some science fun with very little effort on mom's part (once the bags are assembled!). I'm a planner and love to have as much work done ahead of time as possible. So I love the idea of Activity Bags. And, I recently had the chance to take a peak at Science Experiments in a Bag E-Book 2.

The experiments in this book are focused on Chemistry, the Human Body and General Science.

e-book Price: $15.00

Each experiment comes with a supply list, instructions to prepare the bags and an experiment log that includes:
  • a description of the experiment
  • type of experiment
  • supplies provided (that you bag up in advance)
  • supplies needed
  • experiment instructions
  • a place to record your results
  • observation questions
  • a place to record notes
The book also contains an Experiments at a Glance page. This page lists the experiments in alphabetical order, a description of the experiment, the area of science it teaches to, and general supplies needed. I love that they offer this page in the sample!

I printed the "at a glance" page in hopes of correlating some of the experiments with our Five in a Row lessons. I like the idea of assembling the bags ahead of time and filing them with the book we are rowing! I was able to find a few of them that would tie in perfectly and there may be more (once I come to them in the manual).

However, reading through them all, I see that there are only 5 experiments that we have NOT done!

Which tells me one thing:
  1. These are science experiments that we thought were worth doing!
Here is one that we had not done before and looked like fun:

Burning Balloons Experiment

We inflated 2 balloons ~ the second one with 1/4 cup of water inside and tied both of them closed. Then we lit a match and held it directly under the first balloon. 

As soon as the flame came in contact with the balloon it popped! {What we expected!}

Then we took the second balloon, the one with water in it. . . 

and held the flame underneath it. 

This time it didn't pop! 

If you look where the match was lit (the wind blew it out), you can see some black soot starting to form on the balloon.

Here is the explanation:

"The flame was heating the rubber on both of the balloons. The rubber of the balloon that was not filled with water became very hot and the rubber became weak. The rubber could no longer resist the pressure of the air that was inside the balloon. The rubber of the balloon that was filled with water didn’t get as hot because the water inside the balloon was absorbing most of the heat from the flame. The rubber was not weakened from the flame because it did not get hot enough and so it did not break. Water is a very good absorber of heat."

And yes! the answers are included with the book.

The book also gives instructions on how to coordinate an experiment swap ~ this would be a great activity for a co-op! There are 25 experiments in this 154 page book. Each experiment has 4-6 pages per experiment, plus resources. However, I did not find it necessary to print all the pages for our home use ~  I just printed the Experiment Log.

Thanks Activity Bags for Science Experiments in a Bag E-Book 2!

Disclosure: I offer this review as a courtesy in exchange for this book.  I give my honest opinion. 

Resurrection Study {Grapevine}

If you are not a stranger to my blog, then you know that I ♥ Grapevine Studies and that my kids love Stick-Figuring Through the Bible! So, I was very excited to review this:

The Resurrection ~ a study of the people and events in the last hours of Yeshua's (Jesus) life.

  • Beginner & Multi-Level Student e-book: $8.95 ~ on sale now for $6.25! 
  • Beginner & Multi-Level Teacher's e-book: $16.95 ~ on sale now for: $11.85!

I reviewed the Multi-Level Teacher's e-book with both the Beginner & Multi-Level Student e-books (the Multi-Level teacher's guide is compatible with both student books). I like the student e-books because I used this with multiple children and it is much easier to print from my computer than make copies. However, I wouldn't mind having the printed Teacher's Manual.

I did this study with my 4 older boys ~ ages 6-15. I gave Malachi, my 6 year old a choice between the Beginner pages and the Multi-Level pages and he did some of both. I think the Beginner pages give more room for drawing, and are perfect for ages 3-6. The Multi-Level is designed for ages 7 and up.

My husband and I liked that the Bible readings include accounts from all four gospels and that one reading flowed into the next. Grapevine is very teacher friendly.  We all liked that the drawings tied in nicely with the Scriptures and are fun and easy to do, but also do the important job of helping them remember the details of the lessons. 

11 total Lessons include:
  1. The Last Supper

2. The Six Trials of Jesus (Religious and Civil)

3. The Crucifixion

4. Jesus' Death and Burial

5. The Resurrection

6. The Ascension

{And these are just some of the stick figures you will meet!}

Grapevine is multi-sensorial, colorful, engaging, incorporates note-booking with Bible and is chronological. And drawing stick figures is a fun and easy way to learn important peoples and events in the Bible!   Most of all, it is non-denominational and Biblically based. Read my original review of Grapevine Studies to learn more!

We are keeping the Spring Feasts ~ Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of First Fruits this week and I really wanted to dive into the New Covenant Scriptures for our studies and this was perfect! We have completed the study up until the Death and Burial of Yeshua. We will finish the study this Sabbath and then celebrate His resurrection on the Feast of First Fruits!

Spring Break and a Math Lesson

We've been Spring cleaning and working in the garden the last couple weeks, so Mali (6) and Elli (4) have been on Spring Break. When I explained that we were taking a break from school, they both exclaimed "Yay!!!" I then said, (emphatically), "and when Spring break is over, we will get to do school again!" To which Elli again replied, "Yay!!! (smile)

Now that the weather is nice, she has been collecting the eggs from the chicken coop. It makes for a great math lesson every day. We mostly work on subtraction.

Elli: Mommy, I had 5 eggs but I dropped one and it cracked and the chickens ate it.
Me: Ohhh. So, how many do you have now?
Elli: 4


Elli: Mommy, I had 4 eggs, but I dropped one outside and it cracked and another one broke.
Me: Ohhh. Well, how many do you have now?
Elli: ummmm... 2.
Me: So what is 4 minus 2?
Elli: {Blank stare}
Me: Minus means to take away. If you had four and two were broken, how many are left?
Elli: 2!
Me: Yes! So, 4 minus 2 is?
Elli: 2!

I wonder how many more of these lessons we will have? I think I will get her a basket for collecting the eggs and work on addition next. 

Good Morning, God

We added a new book to our keeper shelf.

Apologia Educational Ministries sent us Good Morning God to review.

The book is an application of Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. ~ Deut. 6:4-7 NASB
His commandments are what set us apart as a nation unto Him. After all, "...what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" ~Deut. 4:8.

From the website:
Good Morning, God is a story about a four-year-old boy as he goes through a week with his family. This book is designed for children age one to eight years old. Ideally, this book will help your child fall in love with our heavenly Father by thinking about Him from sunrise to sunset. The hope is that this book will introduce children to the simple and wonderful ways we can worship God daily and inspire them to enjoy the Lord with their entire being all through the day. The prayers for each day are meant to encourage your child to consider his or her relationship with Jesus and respond with childlike faith.

What I love is that this book is subtle, yet my little ones caught on quick to the meaning.

Read the sample to see more.

You can simply read this to your children or you can turn it into a unit study and thus a literal application of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. Guess which one we did? =)

Here are a few snapshots of day 2:

This day begins:

"Good morning, God. Today is Monday. I wake up with lots of energy. 
I worship God with my family and with all of my heart. . .  " 

Questions and Activities:

Draw a picture of a heart.

Read Matthew 6:19-21:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ NASB
What is something that you treasure?
Malachi: YHVH, Yeshua, my family. 
How can you love God with all your heart?

To which I asked, what does the Bible teach us? Mali's reply: to keep Sabbath; teaches us how to live. 

What is your favorite thing to do in school?
Malachi: Bible, Five in a Row, Geography, Math, Science, Writing, Reading, drawing pictures.
Draw a picture of your dad, mom, brothers and sisters.

How can you be a good brother or sister?
Malachi's answer: playing cars with my brothers, playing dollies with Elli, playing with Bo.

I had them draw and color on 4x6 sheets of cardstock so I can stick them in my Project Life album. I will treasure these activities and my little one's thoughts on Heavenly things!

The book also comes with a coloring book based on the book.
Malachi is coloring a picture of the little boy when he rises up (wakes up). 

When I was first asked to review this, I hesitated because I wasn't sure this book would work for us. While we are proficient at tailoring mainstream Christian books to fit our needs, it is sometimes not worth my time. With that, there was only a couple pages I had to work around.  For example, we don't go to church on Sunday because we keep Sabbath on the 7th day of the week instead of the 1st day... so I had to explain to my little ones why they were at church on a Sunday. . . and that church for us looks a little different because we "church" at home. Other than that, this was a wonderful way to apply Deuteronomy 6:6-7!
Disclaimer: Apologia Educational Ministries sent us Good Morning God for free for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. In exchange, I offer my honest opinion and review.