Today’s Nature Walk

Today was a yet another beautiful sunny day, so we headed outside for a a bit of a nature walk. What was the first thing we saw. A gorgeous great blue heron!


We stopped by the pond out back and saw a plethora of little minnows in the shallows.


And a little blue damselfly flitting around.


When we turned around we were greeted by two of the local Canadian geese ready for a swim.


On the way back to the house we came across this little buckeye butterfly.


The other day it was really, really windy out and I was surprised to see this little guy trying to cling on to a blade of grass. Every once in a while he would get blown off and would quickly try to attach to another blade. You can see how his wings were kind of blown around.



Paint Your Windows!

I thought that this idea to paint your windows for Valentine’s Day was too adorable to pass up! Of course, the kids love it when they can paint anything, but when you tell them they get to paint something that would normally be off limits they enjoy it that much more.



I cut out some simple little paper hearts from the scrap paper pile and attached them to the window with double-sided tape. We used red and yellow paint with a bit of dish soap mixed in. The soap is supposed to make it a little bit easier when it comes time to remove the paint. We will see how it goes.


Once we pulled the hearts from the window to show the cutouts, I couldn’t just let the hearts go to waste so we made these little dangles to hang from the light above the table. I have been adding in the valentines that the kids have received from their homeschool valentine exchange. They have really enjoyed getting something in the mail each day!


Our Strange Schedule


An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin


When I first started homeschooling I envisioned a perfect and smoothly run day. We would wake early, have breakfast, clean the kitchen, begin schoolwork by 8am and be finished by 11. Well months later, I have finally resigned myself to the fact that this will not work for our family. What stands in the way of being able to accomplish this? I bit of everything I guess.

My military hubby has a schedule that constantly changes. Different days each week. Six weeks of days then six weeks of nights with an occasional deployment thrown in. Of course, one of the fortunes of homeschooling is that we can spend the time that he does have off with him. So if he works the weekend then we can spend weekdays with him. If he works days then we are there in the evening. Nights? We are there in the day. Even if he is sleeping…

My daughter is a night owl. She definitely inherited this from both Mom and Dad. The only reason that we rise early now is because of that wonderful military discipline. (Although mine is finally beginning to wear off. I do love sleeping a bit late.) Even though we have always had a bedtime of 7:30 for the kids, she has a hard time falling asleep before 10 at night. Of course, then I can’t wake her up before 8:30 in the morning without tempting her with some delicious yummy breakfast breads.

lily-of-the-valley-arrangementThe little one has stopped having his regularly scheduled naps. When we first began I tried to have school time while occupying the toddler, but I quickly found out that it was much too frustrating for me to have to stop every 30 seconds to redirect the toddler misadventures. Alas, neither of my kiddos continued to nap regularly after 2 1/2 so the idea of trying to get work done during those precious few minutes was also out of reach. Oh, he still needs the nap (desperately!), but would rather reach the point of a crying, whining, heap in the afternoon rather than relax quietly in his soft, comfy bed for a few minutes to recharge.

Then there is me. I have realized that I will probably never have enough energy to keep the perfect house, but it drives me nuts to have a mess about while trying to do anything else. I feel so much more at peace if I can start out with completing the chores and then move on to other things. I mean, I just can’t really relax until the house is at least moderately clean. The heap of laundry will make me shudder and a dirty kitchen makes me cringe.

So, how then do we fit our school-day into our topsy-turvy schedule? Throughout the day we take reading breaks. If the kids ask a question about anything that I might actually know the answer to we take time to explain it. Different types of clouds, why can birds fly, why is the moon out during the day? So what about the more structured learning? We do that at night of course! Since the little toddler-man forgoes his nap he absolutely crashes at 7pm. That’s when we fit in schoolwork with princess nightowl. She loves having the time all to herself and feels special since I “let” her stay up late.

Valentine’s Day Book Basket

Are you ready for snuggling up with your kids on Valentine’s Day? Here are some great books to fill your Valentine’s Book Basket. Head to the library quickly – or they will all be gone!

The Story of St. Valentine ~ by Voice of the Martyrs

Saint Valentine ~ by Robert Sabuda

The Night Before Valentine’s Day ~ Natasha Wing

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch ~ Eileen Spinelli

The Valentine Bears ~ by Eve Bunting

Cranberry Valentine ~ Wende Devlin

FIAR Out of Print Titles

If you use the Five in a Row Curriculum you know that there are some books that are no longer being published and can be difficult to come by. For those of you that are interested in obtaining these books at garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales here is a consolidated list of some of the most prized FIAR titles. If you are looking for complete FIAR book lists please check out the lists compiled at HomeSchoolShare. They also have other lists grouped by geography, science, unit studies, lapbooks, and more.

Want to print this list? No problem. Just click here for a PDF version.

Note: Some formerly out-of-print books are now being republished as indicated.

Before FIAR

Yellow Ball ~ Bang, Molly

My Blue Boat ~Chris L. Demarest

The Quiet Way Home ~Bonnie Becker

The Red Carpet  ~Rex Parkin

Jenny’s Surprise Summer  ~Eugenie

FIAR Vol 1

Cranberry Thanksgiving  ~Devlin, Wende & Harry

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear  ~Scheffrin-Falk, Gladys  ~ (Now available at Purple House Press)

FIAR Vol 2

Giraffe That Walked to Paris   ~Milton, Nancy

Babar, To Duet or Not To Duet ~De Brunhoff

Down, Down the Mountain ~Credle, Ellis

All Those Secrets of the World ~Yolen, Jane

Gramma’s Walk ~Hines, Anna Grossnickle

FIAR Vol 3

Andy and the Circus ~Credle, Ellis

The Wild Horses of Sweet Briar  ~Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie

Henry the Castaway ~Taylor, Mark

Warm as Wool ~Sanders, Scott Russell   ~(Now available at Wooster Book Company )

FIAR Vol 4

Arabella ~Orr, Wendy

Cowboy Charlie ~Winter, Jeanette

Hanna’s Cold Winter ~Marx, Trish

Higgins Bend Song and Dance   ~Martin, Jacqueline Briggs

The Hatmaker’s Sign   ~Fleming, Candace

January Book Basket

As you can see our January Book Basket is chock full of books. The majority of the books were borrowed from the library, but some are pulled from our own shelves. I love getting new books, but I try to keep the number down since we move so often.

Here is a condensed list for when you head to the library. I did group them by call number so that you aren’t running all over the place like I am trying to keep track of which books you already have!

  • Red Fox Running ~ Y PICTURE BUNTING, E.
  • Albert the Bear ~ Y PICTURE BUTTERWORTH, N.
  • It Feels Like Snow ~ Y PICTURE COTE, N.
  • Elmer in the Snow ~ Y PICTURE MCKEE, D.
  • The Jacket I Wear in the Snow ~ Y PICTURE NEITZEL, S.
  • The Snow Princess ~ Y PICTURE SANDERSON, R.
  • Now It Is Winter ~ Y PICTURE SPINELLI, E
  • Winter on the Farm (My First Little House) ~ Y PICTURE WINTER
  • Tracks in the Snow ~ Y PICTURE YEE, W.
  • Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep ~ Y PICTURE YOLEN, J.
  • Manatee Winter (Smithsonian Oceanic)~ Y PICTURE ZOEHFELD, K.
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter SolsticeY 394.261 PFEFFER
  • Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! ~Y394.26952 REYNOLDS
  • Explore Winter: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Winter (Explore Your World series) ~ Y508.2 ANDERSON
  • Snow (Ganeri, Anita, Weather Around You.) ~ Y551.5784 GANERI
  • Penguin Chick (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science) ~ Y 598.47 TATHAM

Plans for Inauguration Day


Honestly, I didn’t intend to do much for Inauguration Day. I planned maybe, and that’s a big maybe, watching it on TV with the kids. But then FIAR came out with an Inauguration Day Fold and Learn. Perfect!

It has a short biography of Barack Obama, the inaugural schedule from January 18th through Inauguration Day, some fun facts about the history of inauguration, and Barack Obama’s favorite dessert!

We are going to have a fun time re-reading If I Ran For President, which I purchased during the election. At the same time I also bought the other book by Catherine Stier,  If I Were President. These two books are really perfect at explaining the topic of the Presidency for a child. With eye-catching illustrations and wording that not only accurately explains a difficult topic, but makes it fun and exciting, these books are perfect for early elementary ages.

If you are looking for more ideas, Shauna over at Treasure Seekers has put together a wonderful list of resources to make your Inauguration Day educational and fun!