Monday, October 29, 2012

Nature Study - Deer Mouse

I will preface this post with the statement that obviously our FOUR outdoor cats are on strike.  This could be in protest of the generic, bottom-of-the-barrel cat food they are given.  Not sure - negotiations will be starting soon.

What do you do when you find a mouse inside the barrel of your washing machine if you are a homeschool mama?

1.  Scream
2.  Turn it into a learning experience

No joke - Sammy went to throw some clothes into our top loader and discovered a mouse scurrying around inside of it.  We think the little critter was taking a break from spreading disease and poop all over our basement when he fell into the open top.  Daniel thought I was nuts when I asked him to find a container to put it in but as he is well-trained (and used to going along with the crazy) he complied and found a clear plastic bin.

We did some researching and discovered it was a deer mouse, so named for its fur's resemblance to deer fur.  After a discussion about predators, we talked about why a mouse would need such large eyes and ears!  We also happened to have a copy of the sweet little book Deer Mouse at Old Farm Road so we enjoyed some story time while watching the mouse.  After learning that deer mice sometimes eat grass the boys put some in the bin, but Mr. Mouse was a bit too nervous to eat.  We did see him grooming himself with his wee paws though, which was really cute!  The boys also worked in their nature journals for a bit:

Once we were finished Daniel and the boys released the mouse in the field across the road from our house.  Then they watched it scurry right across the road and back onto our property.  Little bugger.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It Was A Soft Focus Kind Of Day

Do you ever have those days that are just so great that you're pretty sure they should take place completely in soft focus with special music playing in the background?  A day where no one fights and you find yourself getting all misty-eyed and sentimental while you watch your kids play?  I for one firmly believe that the purpose of those days is to keep us from eating our own young.  They make up for the days where everyone is screaming and someone kicked someone else in the head and you're gritting your teeth and pretending no really, you LOVE reading the same Cat in the Hat book over and over again.

Total honestly moment:  even though my husband loves Cat in the Hat I got rid of all those books that we owned because I hate them just That.  Much. always seems that our soft focus days take place outside.  There's just something about that dreamy fall weather that lulls us all into a state of supreme happiness.  We spent the day at a nearby park the other week that has a lovely creek.  Forget about the plastic playground equipment - bring on the water!

I got to sit beneath a willow tree while the boys played in the creek, splashing and trying to catch crawdads.  (that's what we call crayfish 'round these parts!)  For a few minutes Peter joined me and worked in his nature  journal, but until well after lunch the creek was the big attraction:

We brought along several of our favorite nature books:

And the boys were beyond thrilled when they finally succeeded in catching a crawdad:

I truly think the best days are the days that end up with your kid looking something like this:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Time

Last week our Nature School group took a field trip to do some apple picking.  While waiting for everyone to gather my boys were more than happy to play around a few pumpkin displays:

I love Peter's face in this photo - very fierce!

Any guesses as to where my boys sat on the wagon ride?  Uh huh...

We will go back in another week or so with my husband to pick our huge load for applesauce making, but the boys really enjoyed picking a few to tide us over till then:

After we restrained the kiddos from picking the entire orchard clean we sat down for some nature journaling.   Peter drew a mama and baby apple tree:

Afterwards the Papa of our group read us a story (Apple Cake) and we enjoyed a picnic lunch by the pond:

The boys and I are all really loving our weekly Nature School!  The mamas and I just got together last night to plan the next few months.  Each month has a seasonal theme that we refer back to each week.  September has been "harvest."  October will be "migration" and November will be "adaptation/changes for cold weather."  :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Yes!  We are still those weirdos doing homeschool!

But let's face it.  If you're going to be a weirdo then a homeschool weirdo is the very best to be since it's so much fun.  I'm using Enki for Sammy's first grade this year, and we both love it.  I decided to go with it despite my misgivings about the ginormous-faint-inducing price because it's just so awesome.  I love that the fairy tales are multicultural and that it involves so much art.  I also love the fact that I no longer have to go searching around the web for circle time material because it's all included.  And I love that our schooldays look like this:

We've completed one language arts block so far and are currently in the middle of our first math block.  I'm hoping to begin teaching Sam the recorder by the end of the month, but we'll see.  He keeps bragging that he'll be a "two instrument kid" since he started taking piano lessons as well over the summer.  

I was hoping to put off numbers and letters for Peter till kindy or first grade, but he's having none of it.  He's right there beside us the entire time, listening to the stories and attempting to write letters in his own book.  I've noticed a few frowns of disappointment coming from him when he's unable to write a letter or number, and I've tried explaining that he will learn this stuff eventually.  No dice.  I asked him if he'd like to learn his letters and he said "yes" so looks like I'm going to follow the child (see, I still have plenty of Montessori left in me) and start him working on his very own letter sounds book next week. 

Besides our Enki stuff the boys are doing loads of art at home and in their art class.  Peter is old enough to take it this year with Sammy and he's just a bit proud.  ;)   Both boys also take part in a homeschool "Nature School" that we've started with a few other families.  Each weekly meeting includes a story about a special animal, a craft, and nature journaling - so much fun!  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Know! It's A Whole New Blog Name!

Deep breaths.  Do you need a paper bag?

No?  Good.  Yes?  Sorry, you're shit out of luck unless you're reading this with a friend.

After my well-I'll-take-a-wee-blogging-break-turned-six-month-hiatus I've decided a change is in order.  As much as I've loved the name One Hook Wonder, I haven't crocheted anything in a gazillion years.  I chose Tattooed Soccer Mom because...well...I am one.  :)

Where to start?  I began with a short break because I felt I needed to reevaluate just why I blogged.  I started my blog back in 2006 (!!!) because I needed someone to show my crafty projects to because my husband was threatening to hang himself if he had to fake admire one more crocheted stuffed animal.  Then I started homeschooling, then I began the Montessori Mondays weekly link-up, then before I knew it every time my kids so much as breathed I took a picture of them.  Then suddenly it seemed like every blogger I knew was writing a book or having sponsors pay for ad space and dammit why wasn't I winning any blog awards too?!

A short break stretched into six months because what do ya know sometimes it's nice to live life without a camera in front of your face.  And I think my kids enjoyed living life without having their homeschool activities obsessively photographed.  Even Moose the dog rejoiced.  (ok, not really - he's always been a bit of a camera hog)

But now I'm back.  Why?  Because I went and re-read my own damn blog.  Not all of it; I'm not quite that egotistical.  But I read lots and realized just what a special record of childhood it's been for my kiddos.  It's like some kind of non-psycho Mommy Dearest diary.  And I missed sharing with all of you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waldorf Wednesday

Last week we didn't do any formal lessons as we were out of town.  However, during the two weeks before we focused on a very fun story from our Enki book called "Sugaring Time."  The weekend before we went to a maple syrup festival, one of yearly traditions, so this story came at the perfect time. 

Unfortunately I didn't catch any photos from our baking day.  We made pancakes from scratch to which we added our newly-purchased syrup -  yum!

I had a special painting project planned, but Sammy came across some shaving cream in our art supplies and begged to do some "painting" with it.  Who am I to say no?  The boys had a wonderful time experimenting with the shaving cream and blue and purple watercolors:

For our beeswax modeling session we made tiny root children for our nature table.  Sammy also made a few frost children from our story as well.  This time we warmed up the beeswax using our heating pad, which the boys thought was very funny:

And because I like sharing photos with you, here are a few I found of schooltime last month.  This was the week we focused on the lovely story by Suzanne Downs called "A Million Valentines."

We used a new shade of yellow, golden yellow, to create beautiful golden tones just like the goldfinches in the story:

There was also cupcake baking and lots of valentine making in preparation for a small party we hosted:

The boys have been spending loads and loads of time outdoors lately.  It gives me such joy to see them muddy and glowing from exploring in our woods.  They always have such big projects - lots of heavy work like digging big holes and then filling them in, or dragging large limbs to make a shelter of sorts. 

I am giving very serious thought to switching over to Enki for first grade next year.  I bought Christopherus because of Enki's price, but recently I ordered their movement books/CDs for circle time and was just so impressed.  Those materials together with the folk/fairy tales and nature stories we already own really make me think that Enki's high price tag is worth it.  I love how multicultural it is, and as I look at 2nd and 3rd grades there will be much less need for me to substitute stories since Enki is pretty secular from what I can tell.  Any thoughts on Enki? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ellie's 14th

We celebrated another birthday round these parts recently - Ellie turned 14!  It's hard to believe my baby girl is already so grown-up.  Being the sweet sister she is, she wanted her picture taken with her little brothers:

Unfortunately there was a bit of a snafu with her birthday cake.  The rounds were on the stove cooling, everyone was off doing other things, and our dog Moose is just tall enough...

He said it was delicious. 

Luckily we were able to salvage some of it, and our birthday girl blew out her candles later that evening:

She then woke up the next morning to find that Peter had eaten every last bit of icing off the leftover birthday cake.  Good thing Ellie is forgiving!

Happy birthday sweet girl.  I promise I will hire a security guard for your cake next year.