April 30, 2013

Adventures in Gardening: Seeds and Soil!

It's been a little while since I last posted about our garden, so I'm going to take a moment to see if I can catch up...the previous posts talked about timing, planning and choosing what you want in your garden.
Today I'm going to talk about the seeds but mostly the soil we use.

gardening soil and seeds

As I said before, we choose to use Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for our garden. They offer an incredibly diverse collection (THOUSANDS!) of non-GMO seeds and so we had a blast picking out what we wanted for our garden. I've had them set aside and sorted so that I could know what I had and how soon I could plant it.

When we finally got the right weather, my husband came through and got our soil ready. Last year we didn't clean up our garden before the end of the fall, nor did we plant a cover crop to keep the soil in good condition. We also decided we were going to move it around a little bit and totally change our corn location--so we gave up part of our pasture to be the corn patch this year.
This was part of our pasture--but now it's the new corn patch! We had to move our corn so that it will be able to blow with the winds--instead of getting blown over! We lost a bunch because of a bad windstorm last season!
We choose to follow the guidance that is given in the fabulous--simply amazing video--Back to Eden. If you garden, and have not watched this video yet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to! We watched it last year before we did our garden and put into practice what was suggested and we were stunned at how well our garden did through the horrible drought our area suffered last year.

If you have a chance, set aside the time to watch it. It is a good film even if you don't garden!

Basically, the primary principle is that soil needs a covering...something to keep it protected from the elements. We choose to use hay/straw for the covering of our garden--simply because we can have it for free! LOL! And we have found we don't need fertilizer when we keep it covered up...because you are helping it stay at it's most optimal state that way! Keeping the nutrition in!

We planted our first seeds at the beginning of the week--two rows of potato starts (from last years crop!), 3 rows of bush beans (3 different kinds), a row of peas, a 1 foot wide x 15 ft long row of various salad greens, 2 rows of carrots, a row of onion sets, a row of chives, a row of beets...that's our first round of garden planting.
In the far upper left is our long potato patch...the stick you see in the ground is where the regular garden starts. In between the potatoes and regular garden will be our "salsa" garden of peppers and tomatoes. This garden is on a creek bank. If you went over by the trees you see here, you'd look down and see our creek. This is why the soil is so incredibly rich!
But---we weren't able to get a covering on the soil right after it was turned over...not until three days later. And the soil changed! It went from being so rich, dark and fertile to being dry, light and hard! Thankfully I was able to get it covered by that third day...and within ONE DAY, the soil went back to what it had been before. Yeah--coverings work THAT good.

So we sprinkled a light covering of hay over the rows themselves and then laid down thick hay between the rows to choke out the weeds. As we need more ground, we simply rake back the hay and plant. The soil will be soft and no hoe-ing will be necessary. In fact, we can dig it with our fingers!

I love learning "easy" gardening tips!

One of the best finds this season, was an old stump that had decomposed creating fabulous "stump soil". Boy. Talk about rich dirt! We used this soil for all the seeds we started in containers...here is a little photo diary of our use of that soil--the boys enjoyed discovering it and helping me.

Little Britches and Baby Britches finding the stump soil
Digging it out with their shovels--and finding worms and bugs along the way!
A container of dirt is the ULTIMATE sensory bin for little hands...especially when there are bugs, snails, worms and sticks included!
Baby Britches filling up his egg carton with soil--see his lips? He's making heavy equipment noises as he dumps.
Both boys hard at work willing up their egg cartons
Poking holes for the seeds
Learning how to use a squirt bottle to water his freshly planted tomato seeds.
We brought these inside to the dining room which gets full morning sun...plants love the windows on that side of the house and it's the perfect spot for newly planted seeds!
The last thing I planted were my flower beds around the house as well as my big planters for the porch. I put my first herb seeds in those as well as turning two of them into lettuce containers. I love lettuce seeds because they grow so fast! See how big they are after just 3 days!
Now to keep little hands and the cat out of the containers on the porch...

So there you have my update--I will have new pictures of our garden to take tomorrow...we have a lot of things popping their heads up now, making them picture worthy for sure!


April 24, 2013

He who has an ear...let him hear!

So consider this like a short part two for yesterday...
We got up much earlier than normal because we had our 8am appointment this morning. ugh. It is NEVER easy to get young kids up early and dressed and fed and out the door! Especially not when there is a set time you have to be out of the door! LOL!

We went to our appointment and it went lovely! They redid the OAE test--this time with a fancier machine. He tested great in both ears this time. Then they took him to the special sound proof room and did some tests. I was so thankful that Baby Britches liked the technician and responded to him. He easily did all she asked and passed that test with flying colors.

The technician told me that she thinks that the first test was an issue because Baby Britches has a very small unusual shaped ear canal in his left ear. So it is hard to get a good reading. 

We are so thankful we don't have to worry about his ears! He passed no problem--which means we can just focus on his speech!

So now we are looking forward to our first session next week...Thank you so much for any and all prayers on our behalf!


April 23, 2013

Give me words to speak...

We start young...picking up a sounds. 
Then trying them out. 
And then we start to repeat what we hear. T
Then we put things together and the next thing you know--we can carry on conversations and make ourselves heard!
 We spend so much time trying to get our children to speak--and then once they do, we seem to spend the rest of our lives telling them to "be quiet!" 

Isn't it funny how that works?

Everyone knows that children learn to speak at different ages. Some (like my oldest Little Britches) seem to have been born talking. And by their first birthday are able to nearly carry on a conversation using 2 word sentences. No joke! Seriously, that was pretty much the case with him. He was an above-above average speaker. He could carry on big conversations with grown men at the barbershop and they'd just be dumbfounded! Yep, Little Britches is a chatty one.

I admit it...he takes after his mama!

We were told time and time again how advanced he was--and how un-normal it was. But we really didn't realize how that was going to affect us the next time around with our second child. See Baby Britches---well, let's just say he is much more like his father.

Strong. Silent. Stubborn.

[whoops, did I add that last one in there? ;) ]

My husband is NOT a talker. He's content to just sit, watch and listen. He's one of the guys who doesn't say much, but when he does, everyone listens. And you know, he's an EXCELLENT reader of people. He can read people like no one I've seen before! He says it's because words don't get in his way...LOL!

His mother says he's always been a quiet one. Just like Baby Britches.

We've allowed for a lot of his silence by knowing that Little Britches was ahead of the game. So Baby Britches was more "normal". But here we are coming up on Baby Britches' third birthday--yes, it's just a little over 3 months away--and he's STILL silent. 

Oh, don't get me wrong. He speaks words. But not very many. And absolutely NO sentences. His words are still very rudimentary. It wasn't until the last month that he even was willing to repeat words back to you.

And that's the problem. See, I've been waiting for this said "vocabulary explosion" that is supposed to happen between the ages of two and three. Especially for boys. Especially for second born with a talkative older sibling. And so we waited.

...And waited....

...And waited...

But I kept feeling like it wasn't right. 
That something was off. 
I mean--I haven't ever heard him say "mommy" or "mama".

He says "dada"...and "papa" and "pahpaw"...but never mommy.

And so after talking with friends and my family--I decided it was time. 

Time to talk to my pediatrician about it. So last Monday I called and we were able to see him on Thursday.

So in we went and while he checked out Little Britches (sports physical for summer camp) he chatted with me about Baby Britches.

And by the end of our appointment, he agreed.

There should be more words...

He also tested Baby Britches ear with the OAE meter---the one that blows the puffs of air and measures vibrations...and Baby Britches passed the right ear with flying colors...

But not his left ear...

Our pediatrician decided it was time to get him checked out--and wrote up an order for Baby Britches to get a full hearing evaluation but also be evaluated and treated by a Speech Pathologist for 
"Expressive language delay".

Finally! A name for what is wrong!

And so we met with our speech therapist today.

She is a doll! I knew she'd have to be a certain kind of person to interact with Baby Britches because he's so stubborn. After a slow start, though she was able to start playing with him. And he was responding. By the end of the meeting she'd gotten him to say on demand two new words and boy was he proud of them!

At the end of his session (about an hour) she gave me the run-down. He is above average in his receptive language because he understands everything you say and can act on it. No problems there.


He measures in "severe" for the expressive language.

Thankfully we already expected that...but it was a relief to FINALLY have it written down as official! It wasn't just in our heads! We finally have a starting place!

Miss Katie was great. She said that she will only need to see him once a week for his sessions...and will do them until she can bring him to where he needs to be age wise for his speech development. She was positive and said it could happen quickly--within a few weeks--or it could take months. It will depend on how Baby Britches responds.

She told us to continue doing what we are doing in regards to making him ask for what he wants--not to just give it to him. So the whole family is on board with that now. Even Little Britches!

So we've been working on it today...we've been working on it for over a week now actually--and it's been making a difference. He is remembering words so much better. And he's been so cute this afternoon saying the words she worked on with him. "Bubble" is his new favorite word. I bought him some this afternoon and now he comes to me and asks "Bubble?" And then he blows and says "Pop! Pop!" Letting me know what he wants to do...

I truly think we are on the precipice of his speech...and that Miss Katie will give us the key to unlock Baby Britches vocabulary so I'm very excited.

Tomorrow we will go in for his hearing evaluation so we can know what's going on there...I am curious to see what they discover and to learn if that has played any part in this slow to speak development.

But most of all...I'm just so relieved! I have popped my OWN bubbles of anxiety now! I have someone to help us with this. That is such a great relief...anyone who has experienced something similar knows what I mean for sure.

And we were blessed to learn that Baby Britches insurance covers it 100%...and any of you who have battled for coverage know what a relief that is in itself!

I will let you know tomorrow what the hearing evaluation turns up...

Every night I've been praying "Lord, give him words to speak..." and I strongly believe my prayers are going to be answered...and answered soon!

April 8, 2013

My Midwest Homeschool Convention Adventures...

Wow. If you have NEVER gone to a big homeschool convention--oh wow. You so have got to try it out! It was AMAZING! 

I learned about the convention coming to Cincinnati back in about November and my husband and I decided I NEEDED to attend. So I've been anticipating it for months! Little did I know what I was getting into! LOL! 

I prepared for it by writing out a list of what I needed for each subject...what companies I was considering...the online prices for each of these (plus shipping) and then places I just wanted to check out. I printed off the list of vendors and the floor plan and then highlighted all the booths I wanted to hit up.

And armed with my questions about 2nd grade curriculum...

I was locked and loaded! LOL!

I got there and picked up my packet and then waited for a friend to join me as we killed time before the exhibit floor doors opened at 9:30am. (I had to get up at 6:15am to hit the road by 7am. I'm about 2 hrs away and it was downtown Cincinnati traffic). She told me about some of the seminars she had attended and then we joined the mass entrance into the exhibit hall.

It was amazing! Booths everywhere! Companies I recognized, so I didn't. People smiling and happy. Big and small families everywhere. Nearly everyone had a rolling tote, crate or suitcase like me. Everyone was polite, friendly and so nice! 

I know I shouldn't really be surprised---but in this day and age, it IS surprising isn't it?? 

I can't even begin to describe the immediate overwhelming stimulation of my senses! LOL! But I pulled out my clipboard, took a deep breath and was off!!!!

Like I said in my last post, I had questions I needed answered...

I was also able to speak with the My Father's World representatives about my concerns and they were so incredibly helpful! I'm sure you are wondering WHAT those questions were, right?

So this year, many of you know that though history wasn't part of our main curriculum, we've added it in using Story of the World Vol. 1 learning about Ancient History. We have LOVED our studies. Seriously loved them. Little Britches never whines or complains when I tell him it's history time. He enjoys the map work and has retained so much of what we've learned!

So I was a tad bit concerned when I saw that My Father's World 2nd grade curriculum is a history/geography/science core...focused on US History. My biggest question was in essence, would this throw him off to go from studying Ancient History to a year focused on US History...before RETURNING to it in 3rd or 4th grade? I don't want him to forget what we've been learning, and that is exactly what I felt like could happen by ceasing our Ancient History study and replacing it with US History.

My next question--what is the Language Arts program REALLY like for My Father's World 2nd grade?

How much writing is in the 2nd grade curriculums for the core and LA and if there was any special writing curriculum out there to help my anti-writing student?

I was connected with two fabulous MFW reps who both had experience with the 2nd grade program. I asked them my question (the history one) and they both gave me honest answers...basically encouraging me to NOT stop his Ancient History since he enjoys it so much. In essence to just do it once or twice a week so it doesn't go away...and they said that it won't be TOO MUCH history even with the core being focused on US History.

Secondly, they assured me that since Little Britches in an audio learner, the 2nd grade program would be ideal for him with all the read-aloud portions.

Third, they encouraged me to look in the Teacher's Manual and sample Student workbook for the 2nd grade to determine the writing load...

Let me stop right here to say this...

I think one of the best things about attending the convention was that every single company had FULL CURRICULUM EXAMPLES. As in--everything you would get when you order. 


I (like most all the other parents there) eagerly dove into teachers guides and lesson materials. Finally eliminating the computer screen and a basic description. I could see it for myself. And what a help that was!

I was so thankful for the opportunity to get my hands on their Language Arts curriculum. The 2nd grade has you adding it in separately...so I wanted to see what their book was like. Oh wow. SOOOOOO glad I did. I picked it up (Primary Language Lessons) and flipped to the first lesson.


Immediately I saw that this was NOT going to work for us.
I know my son and what this book has is not something he will respond well with.  Why? Well as I hinted at above, he does NOT like to write. He can do the mechanics of it very well. Extremely well actually. But if it is longer than one line, he complains. Loudly. And as for creative writing? Ha. Yeah right.
And that's exactly what was here in this first lesson--and the subsequent ones too!

I needed something that focuses more on the reading and less on the writing...and that was NOT it.

I also wasn't hot on their spelling program Spelling by Sound and Structure. No real reason...just didn't feel right to me.

(Is that lame? LOL!)

So that gave me a new focus for the convention...I went to all the various companies (many I hadn't even heard of!) and started asking to view their 2nd grad Language Arts programs. That was sooo helpful!
I looked at so many different styles from Classical Conversations to Charlotte Mason!

The main thing I discovered was that I have a horrible memory! LOL!
I had forgotten that I already OWNED two Language Arts texts that can be used for 2nd grade!
I had put them away for later--and forgot about them! So when I saw them again at the convention I went--"Duh!!"
So that alone was worth it! Now I can explore them here at home before making up my mind---perhaps even trying them both.

If you are wondering it would be First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and the McGuffey's Eclectic Readers set.
I own them both...and either would work. So I just need to check them out in more detail.

I DID decide on (and bought) a spelling curriculum.
As much as I would ADORE All About Spelling--it's just not in the budget. So I went with the highly recommended Sequential Spelling program. I flipped through the book and really liked how it was set up. I think Little Britches will respond well with it and it was very reasonable. I showed it to my husband when I got home and he thought it was perfect and wished he'd learned how to spell using that method! LOL!

AND...I went ahead and snagged a Singapore Math 1B workbook.
I already own the textbook and we had already decided that this was the math curriculum we were going to use.
Little Britches scored a 99% on their 1st grade placement test which just rocked my socks
I gave him the 2nd grade test for kicks and was pleasantly suprised that he scored a 70% on it--he needed an 80% or better to test out. So I know he'll do well considering that the program is considered to be rather hard. But he responds well to their style of learning so I am eager to go that route.

Finally I just wandered to the various used book stores (JACKPOT FOR A READER LIKE ME!) and snagged several vintage out of print children's books--as well as some Little Britches will need for the MFW curriculum. I adored hitting up the Miller's Discounted Art supplies booth for discounted paper pads and learning materials (I could seriously lay down a pretty penny in that kind of stuff, but restrained myself!).
One of the things I picked up was a spiral bound large blank timeline notebook with the lines and marks. I don't think our timeline on the wall is big enough! LOL!

I also snagged a workbook/CD combo for learning US states and Capitals to music. MFW 2nd grade focuses on US History/Geography so I knew this would be invaluable!

I was grabbing up catalogs here and there...and those free pens and pencils they have. I always ask for those.

(Hello. My name is Lisa. I am a pen/pencil junkie)

I was tickled to meet the teacher of Little Britches LIVE science class he took a few months ago. He really loved that class, so I made sure I told her so. She even remembered him which I made sure and told him. LOL!

After a long day (9:30am until 4:00pm) I was wiped out and ready to go home and process all the information. I had a 2 hr drive home, so I had time to think about what I learned. When I got home I realized that I had grabbed more catalogs then I thought! LOL! No WONDER my rolling duffle bag was so heavy by the end! LOL!

I even snagged catalogs from companies that I think I will use in the higher grade levels just to familiarize myself with their products.
(I ADORE the Apologia Science books!!!)

I am absolutely tickled pink with my experience and am DYING for next year's show. I am planning on doing maybe a few of the seminars next year---we'll see how it goes.

Now I can finish up our 1st grade year and start plotting out what we have for next year...I will be making a post in the future listing what our 2nd grade curriculum is going to be in detail.
I've purchased some parts of it but am still deciding on others.

All I want to say--if you have a chance to attend a homeschool convention--DO IT!!! It is so great for collecting information because you don't have to surf the internet to find the companies!

I wish I had pictures to share, but I was so busy I didn't even stop to take them! LOL!
But I will take photos of my stacks of catalogs and new goodies to share this week...

April 7, 2013

Catching up...

Hello, Hello!

Wow, I'm so happy to finally be back! Things have been pretty on the go for the last few weeks but it's starting to settle down and thankfully so is this wacky cold weather we've had the past few months! Have you had it too? But wow! This week is supposed to be up in the 70's and even to the 80's by Wednesday before this nasty storm rolls in on Thursday/Friday. I will be so happy to finally be able to get down and dirty in my {GaRdEn}! Woot!

I have all my seeds and my garden grid and I'm ready to go! I know that I should have already started a few things inside already, but with the way thing were here...it was just impossible! But I've got all I need now and we are going to start it as part of our science this week. We are going to do a documentation of tomato seeds versus pepper seeds and record their growth and which one grows the fastest and such. We have been saving our small milk cartons and toilet paper tubes and we also have some of the recycled paper egg cartons.

We've been enjoying the fruits of our harvest from last year in the form of our salsa and pizza sauce lately. Oh so good! But now I want even MORE for next year!

The other thing we are doing is finishing up our 1st grade year for homeschooling. We have about...oh, 25-35 days left. I haven't exactly counted, but that seems about right. So I've been looking ahead at stuff for our 2nd grade year.

Seriously? 2nd grade? How did THAT happen? Sigh.

Anyways, I have been chatting with friends about 2nd grade curriculums to help decide what I am going to do. Yes, I HAVE used My Father's World for K and 1st grade. But this coming year the core is a history/geography/science core with LA and Math added separately. I had questions about this core and how it would work with the history we've been doing thus far...so I've just been seeking and searching insight and wisdom from "those who've gone before". 

AND...waiting until I could attend the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati this past Friday (April 5th). I went armed...I decided I was going to pound the pavement in the Exhibit Hall forgoing seminars in my first year. I had questions and I needed answers.


I have a post scheduled for tomorrow to talk about it...

So to get back to what we are doing...this week we are jumping back in to our regular schedule for school--but I'm going to really be working in the Science I have kind of...okay, I admit...avoided. Just because of the prep-time some of the stuff needed. But I WANT to do it because he LOVES it. And since we can focus more on botany with our gardening, it is perfect. 

I have had a couple weeks off and now I'm ready to jump back in the saddle and finish the year strong. Sometimes you just need to take time off to do that...

So that's what's going on here...

I am going to try to share some pictures this week, but here is one for your viewing pleasure. This is one of my boys on one of the Sabbaths recently.

 and here they are again with Little Britches best friend...
Pretty spiffy huh??

Have a fabulous week! And remember to check back tomorrow for my notes about the convention!