The saddest garden you ever did see

Taken earlier in the summer.

Taken earlier in the summer.

So this was new. Gardening in the ground like prehistoric cave people.

I kid, but man! I sure have been spoiled by raised beds. All the millions of people who have grown their own food in the ground before me are holding their heads in their hands and muttering about everything that’s wrong with this generation.

I had no idea how to navigate this space, even though I’d laid it out so neatly to begin with. And fertilizing was so strange. With raised beds we had a nice level surface upon which to scatter our plant food. Here, it was like picking your way through a maze and everything was so hilly and bumpy we couldn’t help but get fertilizer on the plants, burning them to a crisp. We lost all the tomato plants this way. RIP delicious tomatoes. I’m very sorry I fried you alive.

I also wasn’t used to decent soil – our “soil” at the old house was basically rocks and dust, so our raised beds had filler made of peat moss and sand which drained and leveled beautifully. Here, while we were working with very nice, dark, rich topsoil, it was more clay-like and held onto the water longer. We over-watered by accident as a result.

Weeding was a huge bear – my word you guys, how do you manage gardens like this? Once the plants got to be a decent size, our little narrow furrows between the rows became impossible to navigate. We really missed the wide aisles and being able to perch on the side of the boxes to weed.

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So I’m very sorry to say that it all just kind of got away from us. We’re still plugging along, though we’re at that point where we wish everything would just die already so we could stop trying without guilt. The carrots managed, we got a few potatoes and peas, and we ate the lettuces until they got too bitter in the hotter months. Broccoli did really well and we ate a lot of it. Cauliflower kicked the bucket early on, and the beets never came up. There are a few small zucchinis and squash, and we’ve got a few ears on our sadly stunted corn plants, and there’s still lots of (strong) kale for whoever feels like making a green smoothie (nobody).

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The kids have begun digging out what’s left, and hauling out gone-to-seed plants like the broccoli and arugula. We’re really missing our goats. We’d like to turn some loose in there and just let them go to town and clean up.

Oh well. Gold star for effort?

p.s. Ads are up and I got a pop up that floated over my main content! WHAT ON EARTH? I’ll try to hunt it down and kill it. Let me know if you see it.

Hey! Welcome!

social-cardDid you get the memo? (Edit: Whoops, redirects are already working, so the memo page on Balancing Everything isn’t working anymore). Anyway, welcome! Have a look around. My about page is all new and now features testimonials from real live people who know and love me. This will hopefully make you want to hang out here a lot and click all my ads.

Just kidding, my ads aren’t up yet because changing domain names is a bear. But I’ll get there (I know you were worried). I will also get around to getting a non-blurry picture of myself up, since I know you were worried about that too. Blogging tip for you: No blurry photos, and no using pictures that are ten years old because you look better in them for when ex-boyfriends and mean-girls from high school find your website.

You’ll have to update your feeds if you’re a subscriber-type, and as I said over at BE, I’ve made it a little easier on you. The feeds are auto-discoverable now, so your browser should find it and stick a little feed icon up in the toolbar somewhere:

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That’s what mine looks like in Firefox on my mac, see the little icon to the right? (Google Chrome and I aren’t speaking to one another right now. I know, I have a serious relationship problem with things that are not human. I’m looking into it.)

My social icons are up in the top right hand corner, and the feed button actually works and doesn’t take you to a page of weird and scary code:

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When you click it, it takes you to Feedblitz’s fancy page for my posts (note! The preview in the browser shows truncated feeds, but they will show in FULL in your feed reader). You can then add the feed to your news aggregator / feed reader of choice. (I like Feedly).

Oh, and the email feeds. They’re over there in the sidebar. Just enter your email and it’ll sign you up. It will send you an email with a link to click to verify that you really, super want to have my posts delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe any time.

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How annoying are non-working screenshots? Mom, tell me true, did you click them?

If anything looks broken or isn’t working over here, let me know. Thank you!

Instant Homeschool Library

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! What is that, you ask? Well. It’s a pretty sweet sale that only lasts a few days.

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There are 94 brand new titles in the collection valued at over $545. The entire collection is available for only $25, but for a very limited time only. The sale ends just before midnight on August 24.

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Why so cheap, ladies and gentlemen? Because we are all homeschooling parents. We know what it’s like to purchase the supplies, curricula, and helps we need each year. Plus, my very own Out of this World packet is included, and I really think you’ll have fun with it. My little packet is in good company, too. The planners alone are incredible!

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I’ll send you my Discover Europe packet FREE when you purchase the Omnibus through my purchase link, just email me a copy of your sale receipt.

 

Let’s take a look at what’s included:

[Read more...]

School Plans for 2014-15

You guys. I am so excited for school this year. Life is all kinds of topsy turvy, but one thing is certain and that is ME getting to homeschool again. I have MISSED THIS.

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We clearly need more stuff. This is nowhere near enough. I mean where is the GLITTER?

Also? I think I get high on buying school supplies. Is there anything better than purchasing pencils and colored paper and new markers? Glue sticks and rulers? Fresh stacks of lined paper, and replenishing all the paints and Play-Doh? There isn’t. I’m sure of it.

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These beat-up bins have been a marvel and a wonder. I highly recommend them for corralling school crap.

Before our last family camp-out this past week, I inventoried all the kids’ school boxes and figured out where everyone was on which subjects and made a list (a glorious, marvelous list) of the supplies we needed to stock up on (my favorite part, did I mention that already?) Then, while I lounged around on a mountainside, periodically swatting mosquitoes, I made more lists and plotted out lots of stuff on graph paper, because graph paper. Then, this weekend when we got home? I BOUGHT ALL THE THINGS.

So. Here’s our line up for this year:

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J. 7th grade

  • Solo Reading – For at least an hour every day, I don’t care what he reads. Getting in an hour of reading is not a problem. Getting him to tear himself away from whatever he’s engrossed in can be a bit more challenging.
  • Writing Strands – E. tried The Write Foundation with J. last year, and it did not go very well. I looked over what we have and while I think it’s probably a lovely curriculum, it’s a little dry for J. I think Writing Strands 3 will be more enjoyable for him… if it’s too easy, I’ll bump him up to 4.
  • Singapore Math – J. blew through 6A and 6B last year, but then stumbled on the end of year review tests, so E. had him start over and re-do 6A with more hands-on instruction. He’s halfway through doing 6B over again, so we’ll finish that up. He’s pretty grumpy about having to do everything over, but I think it’s been good for him to make sure he has this stuff down solidly. As soon as he’s done, we’ll start up with Dimensions Math 7A, also through Singapore.
  • Life of Fred – J. will continue working through the Life of Fred Middle School math books as well. He’s finished with Fractions and Decimals and Percents and will start on Elementary Physics this year.
  • Xtramath – He’ll continue drilling basic math facts through the wonderful and free XtraMath. He’s advanced up through their ranks and continues to increase his speed.
  • Khan Academy – I am ashamed to say that we really underuse this amazing, free resource. But I know now that I’m in charge of school again, it’ll get more use. Math is my weakest area, so I’m certain we’ll be turning to Khan Academy a lot for instruction as I am regularly lost on both the older boys math workbooks.
  • History – E. skipped around a lot with our history CDs from Peace Hill Press – most recently going through Volume 1 again, so we’re picking up with Story of the World, Volume 2. We’ll use our history notebooks and timeline figures and whatever else sounds fun along the way.
  • Science – For the past few years, we’ve just worked our way through The Usborne Science Encyclopedia as I never could find a science curriculum I really liked. I’m going to be doing Chemistry Level 1 by R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey with Miss K and N, but it’s a little young for J. He (and probably the others, too) will be utilizing this awesome chemistry kit and this spine: Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science).
  • Handwriting / Penmanship – J. has finished up the Getty Dubay italics series we’ve liked so well. His handwriting is lovely, and I’m so pleased with the course. He’ll be continuing to exercise his penmanship with Character Italics – Level III Advanced Cursive.
  • Grammar / Language Arts – He’ll be continuing with Growing with Grammar level 7. Everyone has really liked this series and I’ve been happy with how independently they can work.
  • Spelling – We’re still very happy with Spelling Power. J & N are not natural spellers, but we’ve seen such marked improvement using this book. You can print the practice / test pages with the CD that comes with the book, but I like using the workbooks. They’re pretty affordable and I think I’d spend more on ink printing the sheets myself.
  • Typing / Keyboarding – We’ve been using the free Typing Web for the last few years, and will continue to do so.
  • Computer ProgrammingIrishMum turned us on to beginning programming with Scratch, and all the kids are hooked. J worked his way through Super Scratch Programming Adventure! last year, and this year will be using Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math
  • Music – Our beloved piano and violin teacher (who came to the house each week!) has moved away. I’m still hunting for a replacement, but meanwhile, I will continue to crack the whip and have the kids practice. J. is making nice progress on the violin, and though he grumbles, I love to hear him play.

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N. 5th grade

  • Solo Reading – This kid can read all day, and usually tries. I don’t know why I even schedule this in. I loooove that I have kids who love to read, yay!
  • Writing Strands – I’m going to start N. on Writing Strands 3 this year. If you hear whining and moaning, it’ll be coming from this general vicinity. This kid hates writing, but he does enjoy making up stories so I’m hoping he’ll dig this, or at the very least, not completely hate it.
  • Singapore Math – Starting 5A this semester, and will do 5B next semester.
  • Life of Fred – N. is just about through all the Elementary math books, and will be starting on the Intermediate books this year. We love Life of Fred!
  • Xtramath – Same as J., N will continue drilling basic math facts with XtraMath. He grumps about this, but he’s progressing well.
  • History – Same as J, we’ll do this as a family.
  • Science – As stated above, we’ll do Chemistry Level 1 by R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey and I’m sure he’ll be involved with J’s labs.
  • Handwriting / Penmanship – N. is on the last Getty Dubay book: Workbook F. His penmanship is not as pretty as J’s, but I’m confident it’s better than it would have been without Getty Dubay. I’ll definitely be getting him further practice when he finishes this book up.
  • Grammar / Language Arts – N. is on Growing with Grammar Level 5.
  • Spelling – Chugging along with Spelling Power, same as J.
  • Typing / KeyboardingTyping Web also.
  • Computer Programming – He adores Scratch as well!
  • Music – Oh the grumbling, but his piano is coming along, especially when he’s not pounding the keys to annoy me.

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Miss K, grade 3

  • Solo Reading – The older boys got their own basic Kindles last year, and at the time, Miss K wasn’t super interested. But since, she’s inherited E’s underused Kindle Keyboard (gray graphite version) and quite likes it! Hooray! Three readers down, one to go! I do schedule 30 minutes of reading into her day, but she usually goes at least an hour.
  • Singapore Math – K. is halfway through Singapore 3A already, so we’ll just sally forth.
  • Life of Fred – She adores the LOF Elementary math books and we’ll continue working our way through.
  • Xtramath – Same as the older boys, but with less grumbling.
  • History – Same as the older boys — she loves her history notebook.
  • ScienceChemistry Level 1 by R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey with N, and I’m sure she’ll be involved in J’s labs, too.
  • Handwriting / Penmanship – My daughter definitely enjoys writing / drawing more than her brothers. She’s halfway through Getty Dubay Italic handwriting book D. I’ll get book F on the way for her.
  • Grammar / Language Arts – K. will be starting Growing with Grammar Level 3.
  • Spelling – She’s a bit more of a natural speller than the boys, but I’m doing Spelling Power with her anyway as she enjoys it.
  • Computer Programming – K. also enjoys Scratch and has been creating all summer!
  • Music – She takes flute from my friend Amy and loves it!
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This is the picture he wanted to accompany his section. I live to serve, little buddy.

Mr. B. – Kindergarten

I don’t do anything super structured for Kindy, I just go with their interests, but B. has been quite interested in ‘schooling’ with the big kids for the last couple of years, so I’m adding a few more things for him this year. This is all stuff he likes to do, and it is no big whoop if he does not do it, and instead opts to build Lego all day long.

Other fun stuff

Bullet points

Things I’d talk about if I weren’t in a fight with my blog:

  • The house hunt. It would bore you all, but it would probably help me talk through it. It’s frustrating and insane and requires patience, which is not a virtue I readily possess. Spoiler: we’re still in the rental.
  • Work. Oh gosh, I wish I could talk about work. The work I left, and the work E. started, and our future plans. But even if my blog and I were on speaking terms, I wouldn’t talk about it because it’s like the #1 rule of blogging: don’t discuss your employment or your clients or whatever. But oh man. It would make for a good read. I’d sure read it with a bowl of popcorn if someone else were writing it.
  • Garden. This is the worst garden year ever. I… I don’t know what happened. The soil here is really great, but we’re not used to gardening in regular dirt like normal people, and I couldn’t mulch and leave a bunch of wood chips or straw for the landlord. So it’s been a challenge. I think we’ll get some corn, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes. The beets died, the peas are struggling, and all the lettuces have gone to seed. We’re currently enjoying kale and swiss chard, and you should SEE our weed crop. It is epic.
  • Homeschooling. For the first time in what, two years? I’ll be the homeschooling parent again. I’m pretty excited about it. E. is gone A LOT with his job (because we haven’t moved yet, see) and it’s interesting. I’ve had my husband home and co-parenting with me almost since day one. So this is new and weird. We got a taste of it last summer when he interned out of town for 3 months. There are good things and hard things.
  • The dog. How I ran over my stupid, stupid dog. (He’s fine). But it was traumatic and not my fault, even though the supposedly smarter and saner human should be the one responsible when you’re dealing with an incident with an adorable, but (obviously) brain damaged dog who thinks the BIG HUGE SUV trundling down the driveway in the dark means SUPER FUN TIMES instead of potential ouchies if one should throw himself under a back wheel. Why, Azzo, why? What did you see under there? What looked fun about the exhaust pipe? WHILE THE CAR WAS STILL IN MOTION? He is such an idiot, but I’m so grateful he’s okay and that no bones were broken.

So. Blogging. Oh my heck. I’ve tried and tried to think about what would restart my engines over here. A redesign? A rebrand? A scrubbing of ye olde archives? Probably all of the above. I can’t decide on a domain name, I get tired thinking about moving everything, and I just can’t find the craps to give still. I still have some commitments here – I’ve got the Homeschool Omnibus blaster thing coming in August and I should try to keep my homeschool notebook links up and active. Those bring in some passive income that picks up this time of year. I’d like to get them off e-junkie though. If I do a total burn-the-blog and start over new, I have to start over with BlogHer Ads too. I have no idea if it’s worth keeping them, however, because I can’t figure out how to check my earnings. I’m awesome at this. You’d think after over TWELVE years of blogging I would know how to get my ducks in a row and make decisions and be all snappy and stuff, but bleahhhahahahagggahhhh.

Maybe that’ll be my new domain name. bleahhhahahahagggahhhh.com