RSS

Category Archives: Gardening

Spring Fever

I’m still trying to figure the direction in which this blog is moving. I just can’t bring myself to do weekly round up-type posts. Although I enjoy reading them at other blogs, I find them boring to write. I already do something similar for my records, albeit in a very abbreviated format, and cannot get myself to do another, more detailed version here. I prefer to have something interesting and stimulating to write about; witty if I can manage it. But lately our homeschooling just isn’t providing adequate material for posts. We have a routine, and to be honest our homeschooling is a bit like an old married couple: comfortable, unexciting (usually), and a little dull. You might even say we’re in a little bit of a rut.

We’re really enjoying spelling (cause it’s new) and science, but everything else is just a little stale. Even history isn’t thrilling us anymore. Esa’s disappointed with the colouring pages in the Story of the World Volume 2 activity book, and I have to agree that they’re not that great. (The ones in activity book 3 are even worse; the drawing is terrible.) Math is going well, but we’re not doing much supplementing with stories or activities. We’ve not done art or poetry in weeks. He really dislikes Writing with Ease, in particular dictation. I think it’s a fantastic curriculum, but it can be a little dull. Okay, very dull. He enjoys the narration, and the reading selections have provided us with introductions to books that we otherwise might not have discovered, which is great. Handwriting is a boring but necessary evil. We’ll be starting cursive writing soon, which will liven things up a bit.

I think the real problem is that we’re feeling a little burnt out. If I made a little more effort to supplement, or take him on educational visit somewhere, we might be able to inject some life into our homeschool. But I just don’t have the “umph” for it right now. Spring is here, the garden is blooming, we’re planning to go to the US in a few days, and my mind is just elsewhere. Maybe what we need is to just unschool for a while. Lots of read alouds (also lacking right now), lots of time in the garden (if only it would stop RAINING!), read about herbs using A Kid’s Herb Book, maybe do some nature journaling, and just have an overall relaxed approach for now.

In other news, I have started yet another blog. 🙂 My interest in veganism is providing me with a lot of material to write about, and since I don’t want to bore my readers, who mainly come here to read about homeschooling, I thought a separate blog was a good idea. If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://spillinthebeans.wordpress.com/

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back to School Excitement…(a little less than) One Week to Go!

(This post was written on Sunday.)

It’s a beautiful day today. We’ve had several days of lovely weather, in fact. (Sadly, the weather is now horrendous.) Although the near-constant rain sometimes gets me down, I must say that I don’t miss the scorching temperatures and stifling humidity of Ohio. I did my best to spend very little time outdoors during the summer because it was just so flippin’ hot and miserable. English summers are much more inviting (when it’s not raining). You can’t help but want to go out.

Esa and dh are outside  now, breaking in the new jet washer. Suddenly, everything is filthy and in dire need of being blasted with water: rubbish bins, car mats, empty plant pots, bike, windows, rocks, slugs, neighbours…

As I look out the window I can see Esa in his high-visibility jacket, huge sponge clutched in his little fist, wiping our car’s parcel shelf. I can tell he’s itching to finish the scrubbing so he can blast it with the jet washer.

I’ve not spent as much time outdoors this year as I did last year. Partly because we’ve had a pretty miserable summer, but even on nice days I’ve just not felt like going out. I do regret that. I did spend about 5 minutes outside today repotting an aloe plant. And lovely as it was, I just didn’t feel like staying out. I don’t know why, although I do know that when the cold weather hits I’ll be cursing my stupidity.

Dh has this whole week off. Normally I groan when he’s at home for a whole week and we have no real plans, but I’m looking forward to it this time. This is the last week of Ramadan, we have Eid this week and no lessons, so there are some preparations to be made. We’re planning to take Esa to a museum in Manchester to round off our prehistory studies and we need to do a little shopping. I’m hoping to get some time for my artwork, but best of all I’ll be finalising our preparations for our first week of second grade, which begins September 13th.

I’m so excited about school…but a little apprehensive. Ok, a lot apprehensive. I’m worried that I’ve gone overboard and all this work I have planned is just going to be stuff we have to get through. I’m afraid that there’s too much writing. I’m terrified that he’s going to hate it.  The fact that I go all googoo eyed when I steal glances at our books doesn’t mean Esa’s going to share my enthusiasm. And if he hates it, I’ll end up hating it, too.

Well, we’ll see how it goes and make adjustments as necessary. Nothing new there…

Here’s a partial list of what I need to do:

  • Hole-punch the SOTW 2 activity book student pages, skim through books and teacher’s pages for chapter 1
  • Read through the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting teacher’s manual for books B & C
  • Read through our first Minimus Latin lesson and make notes, photocopy worksheets, etc.
  • Remove cat from stack of papers
  • Get out the delicious Writing with Ease workbook 2 and read through the first lesson, tear out student pages and hole-punch
  • Prepare paper for Sequential Spelling lessons (Use student writing paper I already have? Or make paper using Italic Handwriting printables from manual?)
  • Reprint any pages cat has shredded
  • Get out Singapore Math books, which have been collecting dust and select review pages/new material to cover the first week. Math drill? Math stories to read? Math games?
  • Read through next science lesson, take notes, gather any materials & books we’ll need
  • Brush punch-outs from cat’s fur
  • Choose phonics lessons from The Ordinary Parent’s Guide
  • Look through web links for any relevant websites, book recommendations, activities, etc.
  • Make note to send cat outside the next time I need to do any planning

That ought to keep me busy for a day or two.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Floribunda

This magnificent little plant, Dicentra (Candy Hearts) is overflowing with flowers. It had masses of flowers last year, but this year the plant has simply exploded. Exploded.

The photo doesn’t do it justice.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

I snipped a few stems and brought them inside to enjoy.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

And just look at those tulips. Look at the shine on those petals! They’re a bit gaudy for my preference, but they are stunning. Again, the photo doesn’t do them justice. There are about 8 of them and so eye-catching.

And now I can’t wait for the petals to fall off so I can dig ’em up and stick something else in.

This magnificent little plant, Dicentra (Candy Hearts) is overflowing with flowers. It had masses of flowers last year, but this year the plant has simply exploded. Exploded.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2010 in Gardening

 

Springtime in the Garden

Death

……………………………………………………………………………………

Decay

……………………………………………………………………………………

Ruin

……………………………………………………………………………………

What a sorry state my garden is in. It needs a lot of TLC. So for the past few weekends I’ve been nursing it back to health.

I’m amazed at what’s survived and what hasn’t. This Dicentra (Candy Hearts) is in a small pot attached to a fence. We had the coldest winter on record for something like 20 years. I thought for sure it was dead.

……………………………………………………………………………………

But on closer inspection, I saw new leaves peaking through the mess of dead foliage. And now look at it; you can even see several stems loaded with magenta flower buds.

……………………………………………………………………………………

But the Geranium, the huge geranium snugly nestled in the flower bed, died. (Oh, darn. I’m so sad that great big, ugly plant is gone lovely plant is gone.)

Here are a few newly-acquired plants:

One of my all-time favourites: Dicentra (Bleeding Heart). I’m not sure this is the best spot as it’s a bit shady. I’ll have to keep an eye on it. (We’ve recently ripped out the shrubs around it; I hated those things.)

……………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………

Magnolia, planted next to the Bleeding Heart.

……………………………………………………………………………………

Hellebore:

……………………………………………………………………………………

An Azalea, potted up.

……………………………………………………………………………………

These plants were purchased at the fantastic Mockridge Nursery. If you’re anywhere near Manchester and like to garden, you must go. The prices and quality are unbeatable.

Gardening is a totally new experience this year. Last year the garden was a blank canvas. It was daunting, but exciting. This year we’re enjoying some of the fruits of last year’s labour, and if anything it’s more exciting. Last year when I bought plants, I simply bought what I liked that was affordable with little to no thought as to where I would put it. I bought too many things and ended up with plants in pots that should have gone in the ground or the flower bed, and plants in the flower bed that should have been in pots.

This year is different. I’m seeing the space that needs a plant and thinking, ‘what shall I put there?’ And the annuals, rather than the perennials, are going in pots.

We’re hoping to build another flower bed and some sort of bird-attracting tree in the back.

We have this Snowy Mespilus bought last year for £1.79 at Morrison’s. It was tiny and we didn’t think it was going to make it, but here it is, sprouting leaves. It’s in a pot until we can figure out exactly where we want it.

I also need to find a spot for my Wisteria, which I also thought was dead, but is coming to life.

One dinky strawberry plant, bought for 99p which gave us ONE strawberry last year, has produced 8 or 9 plants. I’ve transferred them to the vegetable patch. I can’t wait to see how many berries we get this year.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Family Life, First Grade, Gardening, Michelle

 

Blogging Break

The Thursday after our holiday ended, dh left for a short holiday to Morocco with his brother and some friends. I had every intention of continuing with our lessons.

But, well, you know…

We were good until Wednesday which was my husband’s first day off from work before leaving for Morocco. He wanted to go out, so we skipped lessons that day. I thought, “we’ll make it up on Saturday.” We were going to be holed up in the house anyway because of the protest going on in town that day.

On Thursday dh was due to leave in the afternoon. “We’ll do our lessons in the afternoon,” I said. The afternoon rolled ’round. We did history, read a Greek myth, copywork,  reading, and handwriting. When it came time for math, we just couldn’t be bothered.

“We’ll do lessons on Sunday as well,” I said.

Mmm-hmmm.

Friday came. “We’d better go out today,” I said to Esa that morning, “because it’s nice out and we won’t be able to get into town tomorrow. I’d also like to go to Hobby Craft to check out their watercolour stuff. Daddy hates Hobby Craft, so we’ll go now. We can take our time.”

So we went to Hobby Craft and I got a few little bits, nothing big. Esa wanted a silver metallic pencil.

By the time we got home, we were exhausted (we’d walked it there and back). No lessons on Friday then, either.

By that point I decided to give up on doing lessons until dh got back. If he’s on holiday, so are we, I thought. So we finished our stuff later in the week. The funny thing is, when our holiday ended the week before, I though to myself, “I could really do with another week off…”

So what did we do, apart from our trip into town?

We watched several movies (Esa watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory four times...gotta let our hair down sometimes). We were completely chilled out. I relaxed the rules a bit and we had a lovely 4 days.

Esa played various made-up Star Wars games, played with Lego, set up a restaurant, coloured, and kept his room immaculate. He likes to clean and rearrange his room…I don’t know where he gets it from 😉

I read, cooked and baked, painted a little, researched watercolour painting online, drooled over browsed Ken Bromley, tidied a little, and did some indoor gardening (sowed seeds, potted up the cucumber plants, planted my sweet peas into large pots and staked them).

And you know what? I’d like even more time off.

But I can’t do that; it would be irresponsible. Esa’s ready to get back to his lessons, so we must get moving again. It’s not that I don’t want to do lessons, it’s just that I’ve got so many other things I’d like to do,  but there just isn’t enough time. The garden is calling out to me, my watercolours are glowing with all their beguiling colours, just waiting to be dipped into, and that fat stack of books has temptation written all over it. But there’s so little time. I’m already getting up an hour earlier than I usually do in order to make more time for things.

Something’s gotta give.

I spend the majority of my time on 3 things:

  • Housework
  • Homeschooling
  • Cooking

None of those can be cut out or reduced. I spend just enough time on the housework to keep things orderly and semi-presentable. I cook enough to nourish us and prevent trips to the takeaway. Homeschooling is an ever-changing thing; we spend as much time on it as we need.

So what can I cut out?

I’m trying to find ways in which I waste time. I spend a good amount of time reading Yahoo! Group posts and writing blog posts. Each post takes something like 1-2 hours, with photo uploads, link insertions, editing, etc. I also spend a lot of time keeping my pages of links and curricula current. I reckon that I spend something like 4 hours a week on this blog. I love my blog. But right now I’ve got other things that I want to do, and 4 extra hours would be great.

So I’m going to cut back on my Yahoo! Groups and have a blog break.

I don’t imagine it will be a terribly long break. I know the urge to write and share will take over and I’ll be posting again soon. It may be a few weeks, or a few months. We’ll see.

 

We Need a Break

It’s been quite a while since we took any time off, and I think Esa and I could both use some free time. So, what are we going to do with all that free time? Well, Esa will do a ton of playing, I’m sure, but we’re also wanting to do lots of read alouds. Here’s some of what we’ll be reading:

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

……………………………………………………………………………………….

The Usborne Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. Esa’s loving this book. We’ve been reading a little each day. I was going to just read a few sections, but he wants to read through all 140 pages.

……………………………………………………………………………………..
Heidi. I love Heidi. I read it for the first time about a year ago and I think it’s one of the most heart-warming stories I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to share this book with Esa.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Esa has really loved reading Greek Myths. Our library has a few versions, but he’s wanting a book of his own that we can pick up anytime to read. So I chose an edition that the library does not have, and one that many have raved about.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

We read this excellent version of Aesop’s Fables last week, and Esa loved it. We also own the Milo Winter edition, which we  may read from, or may we may listen to the accompanying CD, this coming week.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

For my birthday this year, I got several DVD’s, and I’m hoping to watch one or two of them:

Emma. This was on television a few months back, and initially I didn’t like Romola Garai’s portrayal of Emma, but after a while I warmed to her.

……………………………………………………………………..

Northanger Abbey. I really enjoyed this book. It’s quite different from Jane Austen’s other novels and I’m really looking forward to watching this one.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Persuasion. For me, the movie adaptations have been a gateway to the novels. That normally isn’t true, but with Jane Austen it is. I have tried reading Persuasion a few times, but I keep putting it down. I’m hoping after I watch this film the book will be more approachable.

………………………………………………………………………….

Coraline. I’ve seen this movie already, but I love it. The book is written by the same author as The Wolves in the Walls, and The Graveyard Book which I’m hoping to read soon.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’ve also got a ton of reading I want to do, too. I’ve started reading The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I’ve really enjoyed these fun, lively, warm books, although at times they’re a bit predictable, but in a fun, “I know what’s going on here!” kind of way.

This book has been sitting on the table, calling out to me every day. But I just haven’t had the time to sit with it do the necessary poring over it that it needs. I’m hoping to work on it this week.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I love Wuthering Heights. I read it in school ages ago, and I’m wanting to read it again. The verion pictured is fabulous. It’s a pocket-sized book with an attached ribbon bookmark. It fits so nicely in the hand! I have the complete works of Jane Austen in the same format.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Art. I’m quickly becoming addicted to art. I get so immersed it in that I’m totally unaware of what’s going on around me. I lose all track of time. I love it, and I’m hoping to do some sketching this week.

If the weather’s decent, I plan to get out into the garden and do some diggin’ and sowin’.

And we have plans to make a gingerbread Parthenon. Yeah.

To be honest, a week just isn’t enough to do all I want to do. I just know I’m going to get sidetracked with housework and other duties. Argh! I will try my best to make the most of it.  Chances are good we’ll have a few days of some of the above, and a few days of not going much, which is important, too. We all need time when there’s nothing to do. It is, after all, free time.

 

A Fine Spring Day

When I tell  people that I like January, most people find that strange. Why? They ask, January is cold and miserable. That’s true, but I see getting to January as sort of getting over the hump of winter. And the time between January and March always seems to fly by. And this year has been no exception. March is here already.

There’s a slight chill in the air, but after a few minutes in the sun, it’s really rather warm. Esa did not want to go outside today. He told me that he would go out, but if I went back in, he was coming in, too. We went out and I did a little gardening. My wisteria and little pink rose, which are in pots, have got buds. I’m so pleased they didn’t die over the winter. I trimmed a few things, and put some stiff netting on the vegetable patch to keep the neighbourhood cats out; they’re using it like a Roman toilet.

Esa and I assembled his old picnic table. It’s a bit small, but he’s still able to make use of it. I sneaked inside to do a few chores, and Esa happily stayed out to play. He came inside to get a yohgurt and some books and settled down at his table for a while. Later, I came out with a book and we sat in the sun reading. After that he played footie for about an hour, then some made up games, then some digging, and then complained that he didn’t want to come in.

I think he’d just forgotten how much he enjoys playing out.