Friday, September 6, 2013

A Garden Recap

Well, the August rain has left us high and dry, making September the hottest month of the summer.  It seems like a good time to talk about the garden.

This spring my good husband doubled the size of our vegetable garden.  So as not to give you too large of an impression, here's a good indication of the new size:
April garden prep
We've got heavy, clay soil so he added a lot of amendments, most notably a truckload of composted horse manure.

Here's the same garden on June 1, looking nice and orderly planted with tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and eggplant.

In less than a month, the horse manure was working its magic and our tomato plants were laden with fruit (the zucchini in the background is struttin' its stuff too).

Those tomatoes deserve a closer look.

By July, we were seeing red, and soon we had harvested enough tomatoes to can.

Besides tomatoes, we had a bumper crop of peppers, zucchini, green beans, okra and egg plant.

 Only the cucumber plants failed to produce.  We planted three different plants two different times, but none of the plants thrived.

Now, it's September and the garden is looking ragged, but everything is still going strong except the lettuce, beans and zucchini, which have been pulled up..... make room for the next generation:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Curriculum: Part 2 - Writing, Spelling and Grammar


For writing, we'll continue with Writing With Ease ("WWE").  Level 3 for the boy and Level 1 for his sister.

When doing Level 2 with my son, I took a beautifully composed, cohesive program and completely mangled it.  You see, I had heard on-line complaints that the dictation exercises were just so hard.  Since All About Spelling ("AAS") contained dictation too, I decided to avoid the heart ache and skip the dictation sections for WWE and rely on AAS.

But then it slowly dawned on me that writing a simple sentence using a controlled set of words like, "The snake is in a coil" (an actual sentence from AAS Level 2) is a far cry from writing a dictated passage from WWE.  Here's a sample from that program:

Gold!  Gold!  It was almost as if someone had cried, "Fire!  Fire!"  Thousands of people rushed west to hunt for gold.

That's a whole 'nother ball game!  Both are useful exercises, but each has a different focus.

So, after going through the program sans dictation, we went back and added all those exercises interspersing with narration exercises from Story of the World.  The extra practice was good, but it sure took a long time to get through WWE Level 2.

I'm happy to have begun Level 3 and Level 1 for each child, respectively.  A fresh start is always good, and this time, there will be no shortcuts!


All About Spelling Level 3 and 4 for him and Levels 2 and 3 for her.

Grammar and Other:

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 memory work, which focuses on memorizing parts of speech and various definitions and lists for both.

Michael Clay Thomas' Island Level for grammar, poetry, vocabulary and extra writing for him.

Poetry memorization through the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization for both.  We've started the Level 2 poems.

All of these, except the Michael Clay Thomas ("MCT") series, are tried and true programs for us.  Not having taught these subjects prior to teaching my kids, I feel all of it is somewhat a roll of the dice, so I'm anxious to see how it all turns out.

See Part 1 here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Month in Books - August

Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey

This book is another reminder that I've got to slow down and digest books.  I'm too anxious to get to the next one to fully absorb the one I'm reading.  This is yet another book that deserves a more careful reading than what I gave it.  It is an enlightening overview of the history of postmodernism.  It also explains how various philosophies impact culture, including books, movies, and art.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

It seems each book we read together is declared 'the best book we've ever read.'  This title usually lasts right up until the next one starts.  However, I think this one is going to reign supreme for a while.  I think I enjoyed it just as much as my son.

It is an intriguing mystery tackled by a group of young, gifted secret agents.  It's one in which the reader gets wrapped up in solving clues.  It's a page-turner that appeals to any age.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri by James Michener

This was our book club selection for the month.  I silently groaned when I found out the author, because I think of James Michener's books as thorough to say the least.  This one is different.  I easily read it in a couple of evenings.  I'd like to claim otherwise, but it was only coincidental that we read this book about fighter pilots in Korea during the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.  The book was doubly meaningful to me as my dad is a Korean War veteran, and the movie made from it was the first movie my father and mother-in-law saw together.  One theme of the book was the "forgotten" nature of the war.  It explored the frustration of the soldier's families that American lives went on unaffected at the same time brave men were dying to end the communist threat.  This would be a good book to accompany a future study of the Korean War.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I try to be careful what I read.  I'd like it to meet the criteria in Philippians 4:8.  However, I do not always do the good I want as you'll soon see.  Always on the look-out for good fiction, I quickly reserved this book from my library based on the review here, one of my favorite blogs.  This one was good in the sense that I couldn't wouldn't put it down and read nearly all of it in one sitting.  But, it is not good in the Philippians 4:8 sense as it is very bawdy, and as a result, I would not recommend it.