Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meet Fig

Fig.  Nine-day-old Nigerian Dwarf Goat
Newbie in the Hood

Just for fun I'm putting up a picture of the newbie in our growing herd of now two goats!  Fig arrived this week and has been making himself at home.  He's so tiny!  About the size of a small cat.  He has transitioned to a bottle like a champ, so feeding him is a pleasure.  Four times a day he gulps down about 3 ounces of a rich mix of whole milk and half and half.  Let's just say he REALLY likes his bottle.

A week ago today we lost our other little goat, Munchie, to a bladder obstruction.  Plumbing problems are not uncommon in male goats and unfortunately for Munch, the prognosis wasn't a good one.  We ended up putting him down and it was just plain rotten and hard.  He was about 8 weeks old.  Bummer. 

The vet recommended bringing home another goat since they fair better as a herd.  The breeder offered us another little guy.  I was uncertain about bringing home such a tiny baby, but it's been a good week and he's doing fine.  You might have noticed that I like to take pictures and have a business selling fine art photography.  Check out my Etsy shop, if you like.  Most of my images are whacked out abstract things, but I also love, love, love working with animals and the camera.  Here's a shot from this afternoon - trying to record him while he's still so little.  Welcome little Fig!

Friday, January 21, 2011


I love the hunt for fun and educational materials that can be incorporated into our homeschooling adventure.  Last week these clever little bingo-like games popped up on my radar screen and I felt they were blog worthy to pass along to you, in case you are in the mood to play some bingo!  These would make for perfect little adjunct pieces within a unit study and they would also make for some good family time together.

Here's the website link for the intermediate Jingo games, of which there are several to choose from.  You can order directly from this site.  Some of them are available on Amazon, too: 

There are roughly thirty-five different versions and they all look great! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Give Away at Secular Homeschool!

Give aways are a good thing, don't you think?  I personally like to go through all of my closets and rooms and give away just about everything.........well, not really, but I sometimes get stressed about 'stuff' and want to have less of it.  January seems to be the month when this nesting instinct hits - does this happen to you?  Or am I just weird?  I wonder.

Right now I have gathered a mondo pile of 'stuff' in an old laundry room just waiting to bust out one day in the form of a garage sale or an all-out-no-holds-barred eBay mission.  I am looking forward to neither, but it's my own fault for collecting all of this 'stuff' in the first place.  That should teach me.  I am giving considerable thought to buying much less, or at the very least, subjecting purchases to an intense period of questioning.  Really!  My new philosophy is 'REJECT, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE'.  Reject means that you try not to purchase things that are overly packaged.

Anyway, back to the give away that is going on right now at  It's a great book written by an experienced homeschooling mom named Marty Layne and the book is titled:  Learning at Home:  A Mother's Guide to Homeschooling.

Ms. Layne successfully homeschooled her four children to adulthood and for that alone, she is my hero.  Her chapter on burnout is probably worth the purchase of the book!  At least in my mind.  I'm signing up for the give away for sure!  You can, too, at, if you like.  The lucky recipient will be chosen on January 31st.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Go Ahead - See if Your Brain Will Pop!

New BrainPOP convert here.  We utilized the five day free trial prior to Christmas and had a good time with it, so I sprung for the annual membership for a single-use homeschooler ($99).  We are happy to have Tim and Moby help us have a better understanding of weather science right now.

I'm excited to utilize BrainPOP's curriculum calendar wherein each day a subject, idea, or person is highlighted; it reminds me of the daily journals from the Connect the Thoughts curriculum where you learn about something that happened on that date.  The journals are usually offered as free downloads from the CTT site if you would like to give them a go.  Very much structured like The Learning Calendar, too, which we had hanging up the year before last, but I kept forgetting to read the day's offering. 

The curriculum calendar can be found in the BrainPOP Educator's section (click the icon above to get there.)  This section is very helpful when planning lessons (if that's what you like to do - I like to wing it and follow whatever we are interested in at the moment); you can search across standards and align yourself accordingly.  It's a very helpful section because it can keep you more structured.  I would like to be more structured, but always seem to gravitate toward less because that's what seems to be best for us.  Much like I would like to live in an all white loft in the city with minimal decor and clutter, but that will never happen.  I'm a bit of a recovering clutter junkie and have tried to adopt a 'reject, reduce, reuse, recycle' philosophy.  So far it's going well, having been eleven days into this whole new way of being.  

Here's the link to January's curriculum calendar.  Today we can watch a movie about Amelia Earhart because she took off on her Pacific flight on this day in 1935.  After watching the short animated movie you can take a quiz, do some activities, and follow a trail to learn more about her.  Be careful, though.  You may end up knowing all there is to know about first flights, how a plane stays up in the air, how air traffic control towers operate, what cumulus clouds look like, what causes tsunamis, the states of matter and what Albert Einstein was like as a kid.  A trail sort of like that.  It can meander any which way you choose!  I prefer BrainPOP without a GPS.   

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Do You Klutz?

First off, I am one and always have been - a clutz.  I trip and drop things, bump into anything in proximity and generally hurt myself regularly.  Grace is not on my radar screen, but bumbling is!  Maybe that's why I have some affection for this company, Klutz. 

One of their latest offerings is this book about animation:

Bells and whistles for this one!  It's GREAT.  Max has had his nose buried in it since Christmas Day and he's downloaded the software, ready to set about making some silly movies.  It even comes with a small square of plasiticine clay so that you can mold your own little critters and carry out some claymation animation.

I plan to incorporate this into our school days and to let him run wild with it - mainly because he is showing a very big interest in it and that's when I need to buck up and pay attention.  Interest-led learning has all the elements of pleasurable homeschooling, particularly for the child.  Happy child = happy mom, so I'm going to try much harder in 2011 to let Max lead the way.

Just a whole lot of fun with Klutz and some valuable skill building, too.  Hopefully we won't hurt ourselves!

Creating a Little More World Warmth with Kiva

I just learned about Kiva and am totally and utterly wowed by it.  This doesn't have much to do with homeschooling per say, but it could certainly be a project that your entire family could embark upon to help someone out.  It's the coolest thing!  Next to the piece of fudge I just ate while sitting here.......fudge is pretty cool, too.  I'll tell you more about Kiva in a sec.

As each old year turns over into a new year (kind of odd to think of it like that, but I guess that's what we've been conditioned to do - the way we mark time), I always stop to draw in a deep, slow breath and reflect over the year that has transpired.  With the next breath, I mull over the things I would like to tweak, change, overhaul, do over, or just plain abandon for myself, for our way of living, for our family of humans and animals.  I can be fairly determined when it comes to things I deem of importance, so if it doesn't fit my ideal, out it goes.  I'm mostly talking about things like growing an awareness of how we are living, what we can do to make changes that are better for ourselves and for the world we live in.  Last year these changes encompassed starting a garden in raised beds, raising some chickens to harvest fresh, nummy eggs, bringing home some baby goats to help quell our weed problem (one thing I don't care to raise is weeds), and figuring out a composting system so that all of that chicken and goat waste could be turned to garden gold.  We also made efforts to recycle more carefully and eschew plastic bags and containers.  The last thing I want to turn into is an urban farming snob, but if you saw me this morning dressed up in a ridiculous long coat, hat, farming gloves, scarf all covered with straw, hay and goat smell, you'd agree that I am definitely not the snob type.  I was more interested in keeping warm while out doing chores and collecting eggs!

This year I wrote out some goals and ideas for more improvements, or for what I consider to be moves in the right direction.  More time on the bicycle to run errands, no more plastic bags (we still get funny looks from clerks), and bigger composters (which Max's dad is working on today).  I would also like to find a way for Max and me to volunteer to help others, whether it's of the animal or human variety.  There is an awesome horse rescue and adoption center in our area which might be a candidate.  This idea is on my list to research.  Maybe Meals on Wheels or a local food bank?  Not sure yet.  Maybe we can grow extra food in the garden this year and donate it?

Anyway, is a remarkable idea now set in motion via the Internet.  Here are a few words from Kiva's "about" page, which explains what they do so much better than I can (at least they use fewer words than I do - I have trouble being succinct, especially when leaving messages on people's voicemail):

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

•People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.

•The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.

•By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

•Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.

•Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.

•Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

Women in Kenya are applying for loans to be able to purchase small farming implements so they can grow more food to both feed their families and to sell.  Others are asking for help to open small retail ventures to help support their loved ones.  Countless requests, small amounts to help them live better lives.  The loans are paid back over a specified amount of time.  That's all in the fine print if you choose to learn more about what Kiva does.  I think it's the coolest. 

Maybe raising money for people in need here and all over the world can be a family homeschool project somehow?  I lent $25 to a woman seeking a plough, seeds and fertilizer so she can grow more food to sell so she can in turn take care of her three children; her total project ask was $575 and fourteen people stepped up to loan her the money via Kiva's services.  She lives in Kenya and her dream is to educate her children.  What a privilege we are given to be able to educate our children on our own terms, with the time and energy we have.  That's because many of our basic needs have been met (food, shelter, warmth) and we have the energy to tackle other endeavors like homeschooling our kids.  I wish this woman my very best and trust that she will be able to meet her goals with a micro loan.  I'm excited to learn of her outcome!

Visit today with your kids.  Thank goodness for more warmth in our world, huh?
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