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Currently | December 2016

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♥ | Throwback Thursday

It's Throwback Thursday {Blog Style} via Google Photos because I'm currently loving the "Rediscover this day" feature. Here are this week's moments:

This one's a personal trip down memory lane - a day in the life of Bo at 1 year old to include his first hair cut. 

Have you discovered Google Photos yet? and the "Rediscover this day" feature in the Assistant tab?

I now send all my photos from my big camera directly to my phone, edit them using the Photos app and/or PicTapGo on my phone which both automatically back up to Google Photos. Then, when I open a post in Blogger, I can instantly add photos to my post from my phone. This has saved me an incredible amount of time and made blogging so much easier.

Favorite List {52 Lists}

52 lists with Chasing Slow

I don't really have a favorite list, as I came in on 52 Lists late in the year, so I'll take this list to share why I have loved participating in 52 Lists.

I have loved:
  • having an easy post to write each week. It is a lot of work to take pictures, document our homeschool, and then put it all in a blog post. It's nice to simply write a list. 
  • that the lists are fun! It's a new way to express myself, and it's a fun way to document my life. 
  • that they build community. When I link up my post, I visit the blogger who linked up before me and comment, and I've met some new bloggers this way. 

Thank you Beauty Full Slow for all the time, energy, and creativity you put into hosting 52 Lists this year! 

I have been thinking a lot about what I will blog about this coming year. I really need an easy year, so here are a few ideas I have so far:
  • a simple monthly list of what's currently going on around here because I want to keep documenting my life in some small way 
  • Throwback Thursday because I need an easy weekly post to fall back on to meet Crew requirements
  • a monthly post of what is going on in my homeschool - currently that would mean a Prairie Primer post or an update on all our other subjects - because this blog is about documenting my homeschool
  • homeschool reviews because they enrich our homeschool and keep it fresh and interesting (plus I love happy mail!)

♥ | Throwback Thursday

It's Throwback Thursday {Blog Style} via Google Photos because I'm currently loving the "Rediscover this day" feature. Here are this week's moments:

List Your Accomplishments for 2016 {52 Lists}

52 lists with Chasing Slow

For my list of accomplishments this week (albeit a week behind), I'll share a year in review {blog style} for my list today. 

52 Lists I did this year:

Before Five in a Row:

Ending a School Year:
Getting Ready for a new school year:
New Curriculum:
Big Woods:
Plum Creek:
Long Winter:

Five in a Row books we rowed:

Reviews we did:

Little Town on the Prairie {Prairie Primer}

The life of Laura and her family continue in Little Town on the Prairie. The story begins just after The Long Winter ends. The days are warm and bright, and it is wonderful to be on the claim again. 

Ellen the cow has a calf. Laura's job is to milk Ellen and teach the calf to drink from a pan. The garden is growing, the corn in planted, and Pa builds the missing half of the claim shanty. Laura spends all her time outdoors working and helping Pa. When Ma suggests they kill two birds with one stone and combine spring cleaning with moving, my heart was all a flutter.  

They get a new kitten and a brood of chicks. The town is growing as more people from the East arrive. Laura takes her first job in town and earns $9.00 to help send Mary to college, who leaves that fall. The family moves back to town for the winter, and life in town for Laura becomes a gaiety with Friday night literaries, socials, a birthday party, a school exhibition, and a revival. And we have an unexpected surprise at the end! 

We didn't do the Generals or Group Activities this unit. We didn't do the Historical Reviews, the Presidential Timeline, nor read any biographies. We did read the book, answer the discussion questions, had many discussions, gathered information on various topics, ate some special meals, read several go along books, and finished Little Town on the Prairie in 2 weeks!

My learners:
  • did a review of American History from the writing of the Constitution to 1882
  • learned what sheep sorrel is
  • reviewed why calves are bottle fed today
  • started getting raw milk delivery again
  • learned how to care for chickens
  • made lemonade

  • ate lettuce leaves with apple cider vinegar and sugar like the Ingalls did

  • made a chicken pot pie (for our blackbird pie!)

We made an easy chicken pot pie for our Little Town on the Prairie Unit. (It's easy because it uses mashed potatoes!)

What I use to make this:
  • chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • a bag of organic frozen veggie mix (carrots, peas, green beans and corn)
  • chicken cream sauce or gravy
  • mashed potatoes 

To make, salt and cook the chicken in a skillet and remove from pan. Leave the bits of crispy bits in the skillet and use butter and flour to make a roux for a cream sauce.

I use a ratio of 1 T butter, 1 T flour for the roux to 1 cup of chicken broth, stock, or milk, depending on how much I am making. If using milk, add 1 tsp. of Better Bouillon chicken base for a cream of chicken soup.

To make a roux, you melt the butter and whisk the flour into the butter. Once the two become one, add the broth, stock or milk and cook until it thickens.

Season with salt and pepper and add the frozen veggies and chicken. Pour into a casserole dish and top with homestyle mashed potatoes. Yes, peeling, boiling, and mashing potatoes with butter and cream is easier than making a pie crust, haha!

This can be refrigerated for the next day (mine is pictured unbaked) or baked right away. Top with shredded cheese if desired, and bake at 350 until bubbly.

  • curled Eliana's bangs into a "lunatic fringe" like Ma called Laura's.  

which mortified her, so I combed them out a bit,

 but she still decided she will grow her bangs out again, haha. I think it was the photo of Laura with her short curled "lunatic fringe" in Laura Ingalls Wilder Country that did it.

  • made an autograph album 

  • had white cake with orange flowers and noticed the orange slices are more sour when eaten with the sweet cake (which helped balance the sweetness of the cake!)

  • studied electricity and how currents work
  • attended a revival. We actually thought we were attending a seminar on internet safety, but it turned out to be a "wake up" revival aimed at teenagers, and my kids, who are used to quiet sermons like Laura, were probably just as shocked as Laura was!
  • diagramed the sentence Laura diagramed to pass her examinations that earned her a teacher certificate (though, even I could not parse as well as she did!).
  • read about the Little Town on the Prairie in World of Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder Country. 

The kids squealed when Almanzo walked Laura home every night from the revival and are begging me to start These Happy Golden Years!

Until next time...

♥ | Throwback Thursday

It's Throwback Thursday {Blog Style} via Google Photos because I'm currently loving the "Rediscover this day" feature. Here are this week's moments:

Share Your Winter Bucket List {52 Lists}

52 lists with Chasing Slow

My winter bucket list {to cultivate a simple but good life}:
  • hot tea and warm sweaters
  • wool socks and soft blankets
  • read a good book
  • listen to a good podcast 
  • sew a quilt
  • have a game day
  • have a movie day
  • birthday celebrations
  • sledding and hot cocoa
  • take kids ice skating
  • go on a winter nature walk
  • spend quiet time alone 
I know the point of a bucket list is to dream big, but I'm practical. I hope to do everything on this list.

Share Your December To-do List {52 Lists}

52 lists with Chasing Slow

My December list:
  • 1 Second Everyday
  • Little Town on the Prairie
  • weekly blog post
  • crew reviews 
  • organize books 
  • organize Project Life 
  • have the kids choose a winter handicraft 
  • order fabric and sew half square triangles
  • Bo's 6th birthday celebration 
  • start a list of goals for 2017

I was initially feeling confident in my list because we have a head start on Little Town on the Prairie, but I don't have a whole lot of energy to do anything that doesn't involve warm blankets, the couch, good books, good food, and Netflix.  

I have activities piling up for Little Town that need done.  Tomorrow we are having a Mexican Feast for our Sabbath dinner. I plan a nice Sabbath meal every week, so if we have a cooking project, I save it for Friday night. Saving all the other projects for a sunny day that I'm feeling energetic. 

I am doing a review of SchoolhouseTeachers.com for our preliminary review this month (I have pulled some fun stuff to do) and also, since I'm a returning Crew member, an easy review of the new The Beginner's Bible. 

I have tubs of book in my school closet that I need to go through. I bought new bins to organize books in, and then they are going in the basement for now. If I can get those out of here, I can easily organize my whole library, including my Project Life. 

Our winter handicraft may just as well be sewing because we have all these quilt squares ready to go, but Malachi has been asking about knitting a winter hat. Maybe he can work on that while I sew a quilt with Eliana. 

I decided I want to do half square triangles for my next quilt, but I'm still trying to decide what fabric to use. I want cuddle fabric on the back, but not sure about working with it on the top. I do know I want white. 

Bo turns 6 this month, and wants a firefighter theme for his birthday. We'll have orange juice with firetruck tires (chocolate donuts) for breakfast and homemade pizza with flaming turkey pepperoni, flaming peppers, fruit salad, and a cherry cake for dinner. 

I also have a set of bath bombs and a 5ml Peppermint essential oil to wrap up and send to some delightful winner! Have you entered my giveaway yet?

And that's what I have to look forward to the rest of December.  Hope you have a happy month! 

Holiday Recipes and Homemade Gift Ideas + a Giveaway

Do you love homemade gifts? I do. I've loved making and giving homemade gifts since I was little, and now my kids love to make homemade gifts, too. So, I'd love to share a few fun recipes that I hope to make with my kids this winter. 

These Quick and Easy Bath Bombs are so fun and easy to make. If you don't have a plastic fillable ornament, you can easily use silicone molds instead, like the bath stars we made here

Weather Study with Bo

Just a peak at what I've been up to with Bo this past month - a weather study to tie in with our unit on The Long Winter

Non-fiction weather books 

Not pictured: Weather Words and What They Mean, by Gail Gibbons.

Learning about the water cycle

The water cycle in action - making rain

Evaporation (technically hot air from the steam) hits the cold air around the ice tray, condensates, and then falls as precipitation. For more fun, make it rain on Playmobil people. :) 

Fiction book about weather and a rainbow poem

A Rainbow of Colors
by Bo

Red reminds me of... my pants.
Orange reminds me of... oranges.
Yellow reminds me of... the sun.
Green reminds me of... grass.
Blue reminds me of... the ocean. 
Indigo reminds me of... the spray bottle. 
Violet reminds me of... the rainbow. 

Spinning Rainbow - to show that all colors come from white sunlight. 

(The bright colors lightened but we were not able to spin it fast enough to turn the wheel white.)

Working on math

Cloudy with a Chance of Jellybeans
by Boaz

In the town of Sliceandcut there were no stores. They didn't need any. Everything that everyone ate came from the sky. (He drew pieces of toast falling from the sky)

For breakfast, toast and butter fell from the sky. (He drew toast with square butter pats falling from the sky).

For lunch pancakes and butter fell from the sky. (He drew pancakes with square butter pats falling from the sky). 

For dinner strawberries and milk fell from the sky. (He drew three strawberries and pink rain falling).

Before bed, ice cream and jellybeans even fell from the sky. 

(All bold print are words Bo added to the story. I coached him to include jellybeans in his clincher to tie into his title). 

Malachi wrote his own version called Cloudy With a Chance of Cheeseballs. 

How much water from snow

When it snowed, we read more about the science of snow and collected snow for Bo to see how much water is left after the snow melts. He was surprised to see so little water for all that snow. 

More fiction books about weather

Good wind...
"I like to fly kits and do experiments."

Bad wind...
"I stay inside."

Catching the wind on a windy day...

I predict a Thunder Cake is... 
"a thunder that is a cake."

A Thunder Cake is really...
"a cake made when it is thundering." 

My Fears...
by Bo

I am afraid...
 of the dark
of foxes
of bears
of mice
I am afraid of tigers. 

Then we chose one fear to talk about.

What are you afraid of? 
"the dark"

Why are you afraid of this thing?
 "because I can't really see, and I think bad people are around me and hurt me - like kidnappers."

When have you had to confront this fear? 
"going upstairs when it is dark at home"

What could you do to overcome your fear? 
"pray, be brave"

Who can help you? 
"you, Malachi, God"

Until next time...

The Long Winter - Weeks 3 & 4 {Prairie Primer}

We spent the week off-grid, so with the exception of one science lesson that we did at home previously, we did both weeks in 4 days and finished The Long Winter this week.

See more about our curriculum and a list of books and resources we are using for links to what we are using.

Week 3

Days 1 & 2

Sunrise our first morning. 

Red sky at night, sailors delight. 
Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. 

Our wood cook stove. 

Toast made in the stove, like Ma made. 

We opened a bucket of wheat and took turns grinding 1/2 cup at a time racing to see who could grind the fastest. We have a smaller hand grinder at home (not a coffee mill like Ma used though) for emergency use, but we enjoyed the ease of the Country Living Hand Mill while we could.

We'll go to town tomorrow to buy yeast to make the pancake starter to make Almanzo's Buckwheat pancakes.

We talked about the difference between whole wheat flour and refined white flour (more on this in Week 4 day 1).

We covered the importance of grains in our diet and soaking or fermenting them for best nutrition (not in the manual).

We talked about modern conveniences we've become dependent on like my Kitchen Aid mixer, Vitamix, and electricity. My Kitchen Aid went out and I was so used to it, I didn't want to make anything I used to make in it. Ma would have been ashamed. I did finally make bread and kneaded it by hand, like I used to all the time years ago.

One of the assignments was to turn off the electricity and read or do an activity by candle light or lamp light, which we did by living at our off-grid home without electricity for 8 days.

“If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light,” Ma considered. “We didn’t lack for light when I was a girl before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.” 
 “That’s so,” said Pa. “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves–they’re good things to have, but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.”

We made a button lamp, like Ma did.

We used:
  • nickel or quarter (instead of a metal button, like Ma used)
  • coconut oil (instead of grease)
  • square of fabric
  • string

We tied a square of fabric around a nickel then rubbed coconut oil into the fabric. 

We read The Long Winter and selections from McGuffy's 5th reader by lamplight and then turned off the lamp to light our button lamp.

Just enough light to read by!

I can see just how important a little light would have been to the Ingalls. 

The full moon of November 14, 2016 was supposed to be not only the biggest, closest and brightest supermoon of this year, but also the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948. We watched the rising of the moon that night.

I love being up at our place during a full moon because the moon lights up the black night. We were hoping to get up there by sunset the night before, but it ended up being a blessing that we didn't make it up until 7pm - it would have been pitch black at 5pm as the moon had not risen yet. 

Days 3 - 4

We looked up verses on complaining and made Almanzo's buckwheat pancakes using the recipe in the cookbook (with a few substitutions). First we made a starter that we set in a cool place.

But when we checked on it only a couple hours later, the batter had exploded out of the jar! I scooped out the remaining batter and put it in a gallon zippie and then in the ice box and then let it ferment for 8 hours.

We talked about proper frostbite treatment - warming up cold fingers and toes slowly and not rubbing snow on them.

For a part of our weather study, we made a barometer.

We talked about whether or not we could spend a long time alone. The kids all said they would not want to be alone. They were fine being up at our property all alone (not a neighbor in sight), but they would not want to be alone alone.

I wish I would have thought to bring hay to twist into logs! I can't even imagine the work they went through just to stay warm. I was so thankful to have wood and coal - I loaded the stove at night with coal and it lasted through the night.

Malachi made the pancakes and we put them in the wood stove to keep warm. We layered each with raw cane sugar (the closest to brown sugar that we had) and served them with real maple syrup.

His finished stack of pancakes. 

These last pics were taken on a trip to town. Pa would have loved this. 

While in town, we went to the library and bought a 5 gallon jug of water, ice blocks for the cooler, and yeast at the IGA. 

Week 4

Day 1

We covered whole wheat nutrition in more detail (as covered in the manual). 

We talked about God's provision and played a game each night about the goodness in our lives. After I tucked the kids in bed, we took turns saying one thing that is good in our lives. We took turns until we got sleepy and then did one more round. It was wonderful and so sweet to hear all the little things that my kids are thankful for.

And Eliana got her heart's desire. We woke up to snow!

The kids played in the snow, made snow cones with pomegranate juice, and had a jammy day. 

Day 2


We actually did this next part during Week 2 when we covered wind chill factor. I figured we should learn about wind first so I did this on my own, but then looked ahead and saw we were covering wind patterns in Week 4.

So, we did a study on the wind, and I summarized a few key points:
  • warm air expands and rises and cool air contracts and sinks
  • wind is caused by a temperature difference, with warm air which is light, being pushed up by cool air which is heavier. 
We did a balloon activity to demonstrate warm and cold air expanding and contracting.

We put a balloon over the mouth of a bottle and put the bottle in very hot water (far left) and watched to see what happened. The warm air filled the balloon. Then we put the bottle in a bowl of ice cold water (middle) and observed. The cold air contracted the balloon and it deflated (far right). See a video of this here.

Then we learned about global wind patterns in The Weather Report, a suggested resource in the Prairie Primer manual. We then studied wind patterns on an Azimuthal Equidistant map. If you look at the doldrums which are the wind patterns near the equator, the air is calm because there is little change in temperature. The northeast and southeast trade-winds which are just above and below the equator from 0 to 30 degrees, are steady. The horse latitudes at 30 degrees are another area of calm where the air is cooling and sinking. The westerlies which are from 30 to 60 degrees are the prevailing winds over much of the middle and higher latitudes. The polar front is where the warm air of the westerlies meets the cold air of the polar easterlies. Where warm air meets cold air is called a front, and this is what causes interesting weather.

We watched global wind patterns  in real time using this beautiful earth wind map that shows real time wind and temperature conditions around the world on an azimuthal equidistant map. If you click on "earth" in the bottom left corner, you can play around and choose any map to see wind patterns, temperature conditions and ocean currents in real time, but the way the winds blow and the ocean currents move on the azimuthal equidistant is so peaceful and rhythmic.

Day 3 - 4

I explained the properties of baking soda and what Ma called it.

We read from Laura Ingall's Wilder Country and The World of Little House, the later of which is my favorite of the two.

Showing of pic of our barometer we made the other day, because it shot up with the recent snowfall!

It was a bright sunny day, so we got around the making the snow goggles mentioned last week

Later the kids wrote a letter by early morning lamplight. 

Back home, their dad finished reading the autobiography of Samuel Morse. I thought it was so cool that Malachi had to use Morse Code to do one of his lessons in his Veritas Self Paced History. 

and then spell his name with Morse Code. 

Then we took the next week off of school to prepare for a Thanksgiving meal and a visit from my oldest two boys who came home for the holiday. 

Our generals for this unit included a weather study, so I did some activities to include my 5 year old in our study that I will share next!

We have already started Little Town on the Prairie. I will share our unit in one post when we are done. 

Until then...