Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Fun Summer Books

I'm addicted to a few things. Here they are in no particular order:
1. dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa

2. iced green tea

3. my computer - if I'm forced to be away from it for more than a few days, I start to shake

4. chickens! No, not as in 'eating' them, but as in raising them, enjoying them and harvesting their nummy eggs

5. most animals, really. I'm pro-pet for sure! Except for maybe tarantulas and lizards. I can't seem to muster affection for them. Guess an animal needs to have fur or feathers in order for me to connect with him or her (wait a minute......tarantulas have fur. So maybe I'll just toss the previous sentence out the window.)

6. good reading material be it Backyard Poultry magazine (my latest subscription), Eating Well, or a fabulously engrossing novel about a woman in the 1940's living on a chicken ranch (seriously - it's called The Egg and I and was written by Betty McDonald. I just read it and laughed my way through it).

6. AMAZON! I use Amazon almost daily to research and pile things into my wish list. Then I visit the library.

Max needs good books to stick his nose into, too. Today he's started to break into these clever and fun books; it makes me feel good when I peek in his room before lights out to see him hungrily devouring a book. Oftentimes after I've shut off his light, he turns it back on when he thinks I'm out of range so that he can keep reading. Should I get after him for this? I generally don't - there's nothing like losing yourself in a book.

Here are the books we've recently added to the bookshelves for summer reading - I chose them based on pure fun and entertainment.

This is a 'choose your own adventure' book with 3,856 possible endings. It's a maze of choices and outcomes! Kind of like life. I've heard Max laughing several times this evening while this book was open on his lap.

The World According to Humphrey
Some friends returned this book to us today and I remembered that we liked the story a lot, so I'm including it in this list. Humphrey is the kind of hamster you need to meet! A feel-good story. Humphrey continues to have other adventures in other books, but we haven't read them.

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
Graphic novels are a bit of a buzz these days. Max likes them and can get through them pretty quickly. He always goes back for more, though, and re-reads parts and pages. Dave Pilkey's latest book about two bumbling cavemen is not out just yet, but will be in early August.

Of course, Calvin and Hobbes carried him through the first part of the summer. I LOVED Calvin and Hobbes while growing up and consider those books to be part of a large chunk of my childhood. That type of humor is priceless and oh-so-fun. I am so happy that Max has taken a liking to them - Calvin is one interesting child!

I was hoping to read the Little House on the Prairie series to him over the summer, but it's just not happening. Someday we are going to dive into James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small series, too. Another big chunk of my childhood - such grand memories of reading about life in Yorkshire and a country vet! That's bliss.

Happy summer reading! Hope you have your nose in some good books, too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I look at Eggs Differently Now

This has been a crazy, wonderful, buzzing summer that is humming right along. Not much formal homeschooling going on other than daily math lessons with Teaching Textbooks. Since the homeschool tasks have been suspended, I most definitely have turned my attention elsewhere! I can't sit still and do nothing. Something has to be turning in my mind at all times, or I feel lost and unproductive.

Hence, I've been out nursing a garden along, painting the barn, building a chicken coop, and nurturing eleven baby chicks through their first few weeks! How fun is this! This is great fun and I can't recommend the experience highly enough. Our city leaders see fit to allow up to fifteen chickens in a backyard; even a rooster is allowable provided Mr. Cluck doesn't annoy the neighbors. Already I'm watching the chicks for signs of rooster machismo and crossing my fingers that they are all hens. There's got to be one or two roosters in the bunch I figure, so we are trying not to get too attached (because the roosters aren't staying).

The chicks have been here almost two weeks - they arrived as day-old hatchlings from Their yolk sac sustains them for up to 48 hours post hatch so they can be shipped immediately as long as they are kept warm. My Pet Chicken is one of the only places I am aware of that will ship fewer than twenty-five chicks at a time, which is great! During cooler weather they put a special heating pack in the box with the chicks so they stay nice and toasty.

So, Max and I have been learning the ropes about chickens in the hopes that we'll have fresh eggs in the spring. This isn't formal homeschooling, but I do like that he gets to see where food comes from and what it takes to produce that food. Right now he's interested because the chicks are so darn cute! We've named them all and are enjoying our time with them. We did a little photo shoot last week, so here are a couple of the chicks:

This is Ethel, a white Silkie bantam chick about one week old

Tallulah, an Easter Egger

And Freckles, a bantam partridge Silkie
Crossing my fingers that everyone thrives!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Busy Body

That could mean so many things!  The older neighbor lady with the pointy nose who peeks over your backyard fence, sporting her curlers and robe......... or a body that is constantly in motion, one that never sits down!  Well, to clarify, I'm writing about a tool that you may find useful, perhaps even indispensable as you prepare for next year's homeschooling adventure (which will probably get rolling in August or September, by the way.....which isn't that far off).
For the last three years I have toted these around and have relied heavily upon them to keep me walking in a straight line, more or less.  They have been scribbled in to the point that some weeks at a mere glance looked completely nuts, so much so that they made me pause and wonder what I was doing with my life!  Funny how a bird's-eye view can do that for you - those birds are on to something, I tell you.  I'm referring to the Busy Body Family Organizer/Family Calendar:

This is the one I just ordered because I liked this cover option best.  Here's what these books look like on the inside:

I can tailor this perfectly to all things US.  Usually the categories go something like this:  Max, Me, Family, Animals, House, but they can be changed to suit any mood.  Some weeks can even say 'Me, Me, Me, Me and Me'!  No, just teasing.  I love the lined sheet on the left side and constantly fill that with lists and other oddities that tumble forth when I want to remind myself to take care of some task of some sort.  This book has saved me more than a few times!  I save them and throw them into a plastic storage container in case someday I want to look back at all of those crazy, busy body days!  Which I will probably do someday.
Funny, too, how when the new one arrives I write ever-so-neatly in it.  After a month or so I'm scribbling madly in it just to get the words down.  Soon it becomes dog-eared, bent and dirty.  Some weeks go by without so much as a mark because it's either way too quiet or I've given up and thrown in the towel and am lying on the floor somewhere, curled up in a fetal position because I can't keep up.  At any rate, these calendars make life a bit easier to manage!
You can also grab a wall calendar, or they have a nifty pad that would lay on the top of a desk.

I find this system incredibly helpful, especially when homeschooling.   Check out their website!  These, of course, are also available on Amazon.
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