Monday, January 25, 2010

"How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?"

Yesterday in church, we sang a hymn that is pretty new to me, and I just love the lyrics (and the tune).  I thought it was the perfect prayer to start up another week of homeschooling.  {Oh, Lord, if they learn nothing else this week, let them grow in their understanding of Your Word.}

How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?

How shall the young direct their way?
What light shall be their perfect guide?
Your Word, O Lord, will safely lead,
If in its wisdom they confide.
Sincerely I have sought you, Lord,
O let me not from you depart;
To know your will and keep from sin
Your Word I cherish in my heart.

O blessed Lord, teach me your law,
Your righteous judgments I declare;
Your testimonies make me glad,
For they are wealth beyond compare.
Upon your precepts and your ways
My heart will meditate with awe;
Your Word shall be my chief delight,
And I will not forget your law.

The Psalter, 1912

Friday, January 22, 2010

Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Series #2

I have shared before what I love (and don't love) about our school room -- at least from inside.  But one of the best features of our school room is the black walnut tree that sits right outside our window.   It is not a big tree, so its top branches are at the same level as our second-story classroom.   On windy days its branches will even tap the window right next to where our computer sits.  Not only does it give our classroom a treehouse feel, but it provides a great learning opportunity.  When we want to check the progress of spring buds, all we have to do is look out the window.  It's also a favorite stop for birds, so I try to keep the camera on the windowsill for special moments, like this:

Cedar Waxwing

Or like last Friday when our tree was covered with beautiful spiky frost:

Our tree was not quite so dramatic today, but we enjoyed taking a closer look at it during our nature study.  Ryne and Grace each completed a notebook page for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and made a bark rubbing.

We looked at the path of a vine that climbed to the top branches last summer, and even pulled down a small portion of the vine.  I cut a couple of small branches to inspect the buds, and we will keep them in water inside to see if the buds open.  After a quick internet search, we learned that the black walnut has a distinctive honeycomb shaped pith, so I sliced off the end of our branch to see for ourselves.

Another thing we learned is that the wood is very valuable, so I decided if the kids don't get college scholarships, we can just cut down all the black walnut trees in our yard.  Kidding!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Yard

Darcy at lwm3b is asking readers to share the view from their window.  The snow has slowly been melting away for a week now, and look what we found!

The red sled we haven't seen since Christmas! The kids forgot to put it away before the next round of snow storms.  It's in a shadier area of the yard, so it's actually surrounded by brownish green grass.

Go visit Darcy to share what's outside your window!

Winter Nature Study: Cattails

It's time for a new set of Outdoor Hour Challenges, and the first challenge is to revisit the cattails we found in the fall.

Ah, yes... the cattails that we searched and searched for and finally found growing on a highway exit near our house.  Because we use this exit almost daily, we have been checking up on our cattails quite often, but not up close.  And when I read about the winter cattail challenge I knew we had a problem:  our area had so much snow from Christmas through the first week in January, followed by very cold temperatures, that the shoulders of the road were buried deep in snow.  There was no way we were going to get close to those cattails.  But last week the temperatures started climbing, and by Friday enough snow had melted that I felt like we could make a quick visit.


We observed that the leaves are now brown and the flowers are coming apart.  But how beautiful to see them frozen in snow and ice!


I cut a couple of cattails to look at more closely at home, trying not to fall into the icy water and ignoring the strange looks from people driving past us. Oh, what we homeschool moms will do!

Since the kids didn't actually get out of the car for our cattail study, I then took them to a local park for a short walk along the Missouri River.

We had fun watching large sheets of ice float down the river.

The following Monday we completed the cattail notebook page from the Winter Nature Study ebook, where the kids drew pictures of their cattails and wrote some notes on our observations.

It feels good to be doing our nature study again!  Special thanks to Barb for working so hard to make it so easy to study God's beautiful creation.

January blogging

I don't know what it is about January, but I just have such a hard time getting back into a routine after the holidays.  It didn't help that we had lots of snow and cold, perpetuating my desire to stay in vacation mode forever!  But the good news is that we did start school again last week, and it was a great week.  And an even better weekend.  The bad news is that every night I was completely wiped out and hardly even checked email all week.  So I apologize for being so quiet lately.  It's too bad, because I've had plenty to blog about -- and lots of pictures to share.  Hopefully I can get back into action this week!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Basement Blues

It's for real now -- we really are going to attempt to build a basement bedroom for Anna. The basement was demolished over the Christmas break and the planning stage is almost complete. I still can't believe we are going to do this.

As exciting (and horrifying) this project is to us, I realize that it has very little do with what I try to focus on at this blog. So... I've created a new blog!


click on image to visit the new blog

And, yes, you read that right... I created (as in desinged-it-myself) a blog!!! My favorite blog designer, Darcy, doesn't need to worry -- her job is secure. But if I can figure out how to put together a simple blog, maybe, just maybe, we'll figure out this basement thing.

Now, let me make one thing very clear. You are not going to hurt my feelings if you do not read Basement Blues. I mostly just want a place to record our progress. I thought maybe when the basement is done it would be fun to make a keepsake book from the blog. We will be under pressure to meet certain deadlines with this project, so if there are long periods of silence on Blue House Academy, you might check over at the new blog to see if I'm still alive. Nevertheless, homeschooling comes before basement remodeling, so I will hopefully have many new homeschooling posts in the coming months. And I also haven't forgotten I'm an autism mom. It's been a while since I've blogged about anything autism related, but that should change soon too. There are some new developments on the horizon.

Until then, Happy Blogging!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Speaking of winter...'s also time to start registering for the eIditarod Project. Actually, registration starts January 9th, but I'll probably forget to tell you if I wait any longer. : )

If you missed my series on our Iditarod study, you can find it here.

Brrrr...time for winter nature study! (and a giveaway announcement)

We were blessed with a white Christmas this year...

and a white New Year...

and Anna will have a white birthday tomorrow...

and if the temperatures don't start rising we'll have enough snow to last us until Valentines Day!

This morning when I picked Anna up from swim practice the temperature was - 2. Now, if you're from Minnesota or someplace similar, you're thinking big deal, it's -30 here! So if you'd like to warm up a bit, you're welcome to come visit us. : )

Oh, don't worry... this isn't a post to complain how cold it is. Unlike my husband, I love winter, cold temps and all. So I'm very excited to tell you about the giveaway Barb at Handbook of Nature Study is offering. Barb is the creator of the Outdoor Hour Challenges I blogged about in the fall, and she has written an ebook with 10 winter challenges -- plus notebooking pages, artist and composer studies, and art projects, all to go along with the challenges. She is giving away a copy of this ebook, so go enter now!