Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moo Cows, Owl Puke, and Report Cards

You know its fall around here...the "Harvest Spice" candle is constantly burning,  I'm cooking like we live in Alaska at about 40 below (aka...lots of soups, gumbos, and stews with cornbread).

These guys are always trying to figure out just what in the world we are doing over here.

And its science project time.  I whipped up a little detour from our Apologia Exploring Flying Creatures of the Fifth day, and we have been studying birds of prey for the last 2 weeks.  They are extremely interesting critters, and there is plenty to learn about them.  My lesson plans are here if you are interested in going on a little detour yourself, in honor of Halloween {creepy birds} and all.

We enjoyed learning about hawks, eagles, and those nasty vultures, but NOTHING even came close to our study of owls that has lasted waaaaayyy longer than it should have.  I just can't help it.  I am officially obsessed with owls.  They are amazing.  Again I say...take the detour people!

As the creme de la creme we dissected owl puke today!  Technically and officially they are called owl "pellets" but in reality they are the dried up regurgitation of all bones, fur, and animal parts that the old wise one couldn't digest.  They can be dissected to see what owls eat and see how amazingly perfect God created them for His purposes on this earth.  Evolution???  Seriously???


The owl puke dissection took place this afternoon after a weird week of nothing really going as planned with Kami's birthday, a little birthday trip to the mall, and a weird little bug that has had us all feeling yuck.  But we were not letting this go by.  And I'm so glad we didn't just clip it {believe me it wouldn't have been hard for me to do with how this week has gone}. 

First you measure the pellet {aka dried puke ball} to give you an idea of what the owl may have eaten.

Then you break the pellet apart to see what you are working with and let the fun begin...

And waaa laaaa Mr. Owl had himself a vole and a few mice for supper last night!!

A+ for everyone!!!

Speaking of A+'s we are getting our 1st 9 weeks report cards tomorrow.  I know that this is a touchy subject, and I am not even sure how I feel about report cards, grades, tests, etc.  I love the hands on learning, the living books, and all of that, but at the same time I love a red pen!  I'm so torn!!  And with super cute report cards like these that come with the Well Planned Day planner {side that planner} how can you resist!  

And finally, my biggest accomplishment this first 9 weeks of homeschooling has definitely been the mastery of the workbox system, which I have completely butchered to the point of I don't even think it can really be called a workbox system anymore.  But, it works for us beautifully!!  Here is what we are doing...

I used Edie's idea at Life In Grace to make this daily schedule that I give the girls every morning.  I actually print them out for the week and tack them to their bulletin boards on Sunday evening, so that they are there and I don't have to worry with it throughout the week.  The only downfall to doing it this way is I do find myself changing things up as the week rolls along and I have to reprint.  I still like having it all up there though. 

Everything they are doing is in a corresponding folder in their "to do" tray, so they just take out the next folder and get to work.  I also stuff these for the week on Sunday and let them know what to do on their schedule.  If its something that we will do together, they will see that on the schedule and meet me on the couch.  If its something that they will do with me, they will get their folder out and wait for me.  It works so great and really makes things take so much less time.  Its amazing I tell ya!! 

I will have our 9 weeks wrap up here in the next few days.  I love our world geography tour and we have had a blast in science.  The 3 R's aren't so shabby either.  Its been a great first nine weeks!!!

Unit Study....OWLS {whooo, whoooo}

photo via

When I discovered that you could purchase owl puke and dissect it, I knew that there would be an owl unit in our future.  Then when I got online and found that owls could quite possibly be the most fun and adorable animal on planet earth, I got busy!

We had so much fun these last few weeks studying Birds of Prey, or the raptor family, of which owls are a part.  I just had to share our study with you because it was so fun and is a perfect unit to sneak in right before Halloween!

So here is what we did:

First, I checked out every book in every children's section in a 50 mile radius about birds of prey.  I touched on hawks, eagles, falcons, and vultures during week one and then devoted week to exclusively to owls!  It went a little something like this....

Week One:
  • Introduced birds of prey using DK's Eye Witness Birds of Pray and my other library books and Homeschool Share's lapbook study that you can download for FREE!!   I am a huge fan of Homeschool Share as well as lapbooks.  For a study like this, lapbooks just really send it on home.
  • We also used Homeschool Share's suggested books for the beginning of our study as well.
  • We read The Tale of Pale Male by Jeanette Winter about a red-tailed hawk in New York City.  It is a true story, and we enjoyed it.  
You would be so surprised how much information their is out there about these guys.  It took us all week to go through these birds without mentioning owls.

Week Two
  • This week we started with our library books.  Some of our favorites were:
    • Owls by Michael George
    • Owls Whoo Are They?  by Kila Jarvis and Denver Holt
    • Animal Predators - Owls by Sandra Markle {great book, my favorite}
    • Great Horned Owls by Doug Wechsler
  • We watched the unbelievably amazingly wonderful movie OwlCam:  The Hidden World which is a documentary following 2 Barred Owls named Ward and June {how adorable is that} as they nest and raise their 3 owlets Emmett, Abigail, and Ernie.  This documentary is unreal and done so tastefully.  Nothing inappropriate, nothing gross, and nothing sad.  Perfect for kids and a must see!  This movie is available through Netflix {can I get a whoop whoop}.
  • Our read alouds were Owl Babies by Martin Waddell that my 4th grader asked to read again and again.  It is such a sweet and cute book that is very young but so worthy!  And, we read the Owl and the Woodpecker by Brian Wildsmith which is also cute.
  • We followed Lapbook Lessons' owl lapbook pretty closely and used Homeschool Share for what we couldn't find on Lapbook Lessons.  Both of these websites are great and chock full of resources!  
  • We ended our week by dissecting owl pellets {aka owl puke} that you can read about here.  It was something that I just know my kids will remember forever.  We bought these owl pellets from School Aids, but you can visit the company here .  I am pretty sure you can order them right off their website and I must say that being the owl puke expert that I am, I have heard that you have to be careful with these companies because you may either get a "synthetic" pellet that is not REAL...HELLO!!! Or, even worse, you may get a pellet with NOTHING IN IT!!!  That would be horribly anti-climatic wouldn't you say???  Our pellets were full of skulls and bones.  One had 12 small skulls in it and the other had 5 larger ones in it.  The skulls are what you want {TMI...yes I know, but bear with me} because without a skull its no fun...sorry that is just the truth.  Some owls eat caterpillars, insects, and snakes which would leave you empty handed, well I guess not really empty handed, you would still have a handful of owl puke {LOL}.  Anyway, this company has top quality owl puke!!  And they aren't paying me a red cent to say that, but if they would like to I would take it in a flash!
I really think you would love this study and your kids...I know would!!  We had a blast!  Feel free to email me or comment me with any questions and I will be happy to help you if I can!!

Happy Homeschooling!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beautiful, Genuine, Selfless...

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Kami who turned 10 yesterday!!

You are such breath of fresh air and an absolute joy!

I am so proud of you and I love being your mom, Happy Birthday Kami Wami!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thirty Minute Meals...Paula Deen Broccoli Casserole

Last night we had Big Daddy's parents over for dinner and at the last minute I felt like I didn't have enough food.  I whipped this up in matter of minutes and it stole the show.  The best thing about this recipe is that it is made with ingredients that everyone has lying around.  This is a show me!!!

image via
First you will steam 2-10oz. packages of frozen broccoli.  I have to tell you that I NEVER buy the chopped broccoli because I feel like you get a bunch of stems and now florets, so I buy the frozen florets and chop them myself once they are steamed...much better that way.  Just sayin'.

While the broccoli is steaming away, chop up a small onion and saute it in some butter until soft.

Mix your steamed broccoli, sauteed onion, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (I probably used more like 2), and house seasoning.  If your mixture is too thick add more mayo until its the consistency you want.  It shouldn't be "packy".   Pour the mixture into a small casserole dish  and top with 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers.  Pour about 1/3 stick of melted butter over the crackers and bake uncovered at 350 for about 20 minutes...just long enough to get those crackers brown and crispy!

You can thank me later!!!  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

September Wrap Up

WOW!  Is it really October 11th already??

How time flies.

I am so thankful to be spending my days with my girls.  Its just like the precious time of having the little ones crawling around your house with leaky sippy cups {remember those days}.

I miss those days.

The time we have together has been great and we are having a great year so far.

I know that I have been sorta MIA here lately, and really, I don't know how to change that.  I spend the bulk of my day lesson planning and researching because I am a total control freak and can't just follow a curriculum.  No, I have to re-write and "kellye-fy" everything I get my hands on.  Medication people.  Medication.

September began with a frazzled momma and a way too overwhelming and overachieving schedule.  Many of my curriculum choices just didn't work for us, but you live and you learn, right??  Right honey...yeah about all those books that we didn't really need and aren't you!!

By mid-September I finally got the hang of this homeschooling gig and learned 3 major lessons.  Everyone who is reading this that even thinks that they may ever....ever....want to homeschool...keep reading.  Im serious, you must know these three things..

Lesson #1 - you better get your act together and get you some lesson plans STAT and get on the workbox and lapbooking bandwagon.  Trust me on this one...just do it.  You're welcome.  And while you're at it, make sure you have all of your copies made and sorted and stapled, and in everybody's folders like PRONTO at least a week ahead of time.  That is unless you just love doing school and planning for school and worrying about school until supper time...which brings me to lesson #2....

Lesson #2 - go ahead and get you some meal planning sheets and plan you some meals.  And I mean plan...down to what salad dressing is going on the salad.  Trust me on this one.  NOBODY wants to be trying to figure out what is for supper at 5:00 while you are STILL IN THE SCHOOL ROOM!!!  Take it from someone who knows.  I really think in September we may have very well starved!!!

Lesson #3 - And last but certainly not least, make the most of every day.  Homeschooling has been such a blessing to me, but I realized somewhere in September that I was already just going through the motions.  Math. Language. Spelling. Handwriting.  Math. Language. Spelling. Handwriting.  That is no fun!!!  I had to kick it up a notch and start trying to implement some fun stuff around here.  That is when I started re-writing everything.  I put MFW on hold and began "My Kellye's World" which is alot like MFW except, well, its not...really.  We do a little bit of mapwork, we still play the geography game {thank you Kayce}, and we still read about missionaries, BUT we do so much more of what is my personality.  I have crossed over into lapbooking and have never looked back.  We are reading, lapbooking, reading, internet researching, reading, video watching, did I mention reading??   Even the librarian thinks I am off my rocker.  I have gone completely coo-coo!!  We are learning so much {posts coming soon} and having so much fun that I can hardly believe we are the same little school that got started a little less than 2 months ago.  I have learned so much from Ruth Anne and Jolanthe, I cannot even tell you.  Not that they even have a clue who I am, but ladies I LOVE YOU!!!  It has been alot of work, but now that I have finally figured out my system, I am more excited than ever about our year!!!

I can tell you that I don't have a lot of experience homeschooling, I am not a pro, nor a veteran.  But, I can trial and error with the best of 'em and I know that lesson plans, meal plans, workboxes, and lapbooks have forever changed my life!

I will begin sharing in detail soon, but I just wanted to stop in and say hello, and let you know about hte ah-ha moments Im having over here!!!  Good stuff yall, good stuff!!!

And not to rub it in or anything, but we saw this AWESOME chick in concert at a local church here in our little bitty town!!  Do you know who she is???

Here is a hint... "Everything rides on hope now.  Everything rides on faith somehow.  When the world has broken me down.  You're love sets me free."

Its ADDISON awesome and so so sweet, cuz how bout when you go see a group in concert at a small church, everybody gets to meet the band!!!

Yep...that is my gals taking a picture with Jenny, the lead singer of Addison Road who is just a sweet sweet momma, like the rest of us.  And that other girl in the pic would be my sweet friend Kara who just couldn't resist jumping in the pic...we are so paparazzi!!!  The kid in the background...who knows, she is just mad that her momma didn't bring the camera I guess...LOL!!!!

Details from our school days coming soon!!  I have so much to tell yall!!!!  Maybe this means Im back :)

And in case you want to add a little Addison Road to your school day...enjoy my favorite song of theirs.

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