My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

Itโ€™s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn atย Book Date

It’s a rainy weekend this weekend, and I have to say I sort of welcome it. It means no picnics this weekend, but I am enjoying the change. The other evening I was walking across my yard and I felt the weirdest feeling, the hint of fall in the air, nudging me, letting me know that summer’s end is right around the corner – already. Everything has felt so off this year, the seasons all out of tune with our family’s normal rhythms – no festivals or art fairs, no summer vacation up north, no summer nights spent with friends and family while the kids play in the yard and we jabber on. Now when we get together it is distanced, and we try so hard to steer the conversation from current events. And I went off on a tangent here, sorry! I blame the rain.

Read Last Week:

I am still working on The Masterpiece, but I am irritated with Claude right now, and I need to take a break from him. I did download Mexican Gothic, and holy moly was it awesome! I completely devoured it, which I haven’t done with a fiction book in ages. I think you would have to enjoy magical realism to really like it, but it was amazing. I loved everything about it, but then magical realism is a favorite genre of mine. It reminded me of my beloved Mary Stewart gothics but with lots of extras. It was excellent! I also started reading 100 Things to do in a Forest, but for some reason I can only read it on my phone which I hate! I read enough of it however to know that I want to add it to our family library so I am ordering a physical copy and will finish it when it arrives.

Reading This Week:

It is definitely cherry season here in Michigan! I think today I might make a cherry clafloutis, or maybe tomorrow.. anyway, I am also starting this book. I love this cover! And it is set in Michigan, so bonus!

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling Summer Edition: France, Part Two

Friday Favorites: Etsy Artists

My Homeschooling Journey so Far… and Curriculum Reveal!

Watching:

We are on the final episode of Picard, which I think we will finish up tonight. I liked it but not as much as Billy did, but then I don’t have decades of watching Star Trek behind me either. Lol. We are also watching Father Brown, Cursed, and Season 2 of the Umbrella Academy! I missed crazy Klaus.

And that is it from our little burrow this week! Stay safe everyone.

Homeschooling, Summer Ed: France, Part 2

My little artist. This week we spent a lot of time reading and playing around with art, which made both of us happy. Our allergies were crazy so we had to stay inside a little more than we wanted sadly, but at least we made the most of it.

We started the week with Renoir and The Wave, as our inspiration piece. I found this great idea on Pinterest and thought it worked perfectly with our unit study! Since we are homeschooling for the upcoming year, I bought a really nice set of finger paints, and Wyatt was excited to break it open and use it, so instead of the sponge he used finger paints mostly, with a little sponge for dabbing, but not much. As you can see…

We also talked about the lavender fields of France, and made another finger painting rendition of these fields. We added a little extra to this project though – Wyatt helped me to cut the spent blooms off of our lavender plants and we saved them all, and sprinkled the seeds over the painting. He completely loved this project, with the cutting and sprinkling. I loved it because it smelled so good!

Friday we worked on little paper miniature things. Wyatt has a love of tiny toys, he calls it baby size, so he really liked playing with his “baby Paris”. I cut it all out and he just moved the little paper cut-outs where he wanted them. Then he/we made a tiny art museum, complete with Degas stickers for the “exhibit”. Elmo was excited to visit this art gallery!

It was a pretty easy going week, but a good one.

Resource and Reading Round-Up!

(Contains Amazon affiliate links)

Travel Size Paper Paris – Made by Joel (free to print)

Kitty Kat, Kitty Kat Where Have You Been? Paris || Degas Stickers || Linnea in Monet’s Garden || Escargot (a favorite of ours- Wyatt gives this little snail so many kisses lol!) || Arteza Finger Paint

We are taking next week off, as it is Billy’s birthday week! When we pick up again we will do a week about the night sky and a week “exploring” Hawaii, then a break again before we start up again for fall. I am really looking forward to all of our future projects!

Friday Favorites: Etsy Artists

It’s summer. Things are crazy busy with planning for the school year and with Wyatt and enjoying the season to the fullest… sometimes too busy for my introverted self. I recharge with quiet time, and right now I don’t get too much of that, with no babysitters or school or..anything. So when I do get a few minutes to myself and there is not quite enough time to read, I browse the interwebs – mostly Instagram and Etsy. And I have found some really great artists this way! I even have a few Christmas gifts planned – and in one case, ordered! I also really miss art fairs – walking from stall to stall, talking with the artists, buying special things for special people. Covid has really made it difficult for artists to get their work out there this year, and online is one of their only avenues right now.

Right now one of my absolute favorites is The Bee Tree Shop on Etsy. Her work and designs just call to my nature and creature loving heart! I love the message, the sustainability, and the beauty of these pieces. And, I just placed an order for a few Christmas gifts! I guess I am starting super early this year! You can find her store here, and Instagram here. She is super nice and also answers your messages really quickly as well, just an FYI.

This next artist is another favorite. I am redoing my office this fall and I feel like one or two of her pieces will be gracing the walls, even if they freak Billy out. Lol. I am thinking maybe two since I can’t decide between The Country Squire and The Botanist. You can find OhHelloCrow on Etsy here and Instagram here.

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The Country Squire

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So, seeing all of these favorites together, I am sensing a theme. I might be obsessed with anthropomorphism. But this badger!!! This, this, my husband would love. I haven’t shown him because maybe it will end up under our tree this year. (and if you read this Billy just forget I wrote that!) Our little family loves foxes and owls and rabbits and badgers. And apparently I love British artists as well as British tv. Anyway you can find Jimbob Art here on Instagram and here on Etsy.

This next artist paints the most wonderful nature inspired watercolors – and I am in love with her camping playing card set! I need to order them – I guess Billy and I could play poker together until we get to use them with more than just the two of us. I might buy them with an eye toward using them hopefully next summer up north with my family. You can find Jennie Kilcup here and here.

And last but certainly not least is Katie Daisy! I have loved her work for years and years, and own multiple pieces by her, including her book How to be a Wildflower. Her work is so whimsical and colorful and inspiring – and now she has a larger product line, including t-shirts for kids and adults! You can find Katie Daisy on Instagram here and on Etsy here.

So what about you? Any artists out there whose work you are loving lately?

My homeschooling journey so far – and curriculum reveal!

This is my life lately. Reading about education, researching different curriculum, talking to homeschoolers who have experience (Lisa) and those who are like me and taking the plunge this year for the first time (Whitney). I have attended two online conferences and have plans to attend a third. I have read about all the different styles, decided mine is eclectic (big surprise!), thought about Wyatt’s interests and learning style, then finally made my choices. Which was exciting but scary too! On some level I am like this is kindergarten, relax, but then I am also like, it’s kindergarten, the foundation of his whole education!

So after much deliberation, the materials have all been bought and printed. My husband brought it all home to me yesterday and I very nerdily enjoyed going through it all and placing it into different binders. It gave me that first day of school thrill that I always had when I would get all my new school supplies, all shiny and unused. Then I realized, Wyatt’s first day of kindergarten was going to be so very different than mine was. I was actually in the newspaper my first day of kindergarten – I had bad allergies and was holding a handkerchief, in my little smocked dress, holding my mom’s hand in the hallway, but I must have looked like a little bereft schoolgirl because that was how they captioned it, about being sad. Wyatt will have an entirely different experience. None of the first day nervous anticipation, no filling of the brand new backpack with shiny new supplies. I need to think about how to make that day special for him!

For math, I chose Math Lessons for a Living Education. I love that it has a central story read aloud for every lesson, and I know that Wyatt will enjoy that aspect as well. However, I bought the first textbook and it is a little low for Wyatt so we started it already, and I will buy the next level up around Christmas I think. He is enjoying it so far, so that is good! It is a Christian curriculum, which wasn’t my intention, but it works!

For Language Arts, History, Geography, Art, Music, and Nature Study, I chose Blossom and Root’s Kindergarten curriculum (which is 30% off right now). I am absolutely in love with it, and I am so excited to start it with Wyatt. There is a huge emphasis on reading and books and nature, which we love in this house. The history and geography section starts with the history of Wyatt, then his family, then begins to explore his place in the world, from our community to the wider world. I can’t wait to begin it with him. We also had to choose a few heroes to study, and Billy and I chose MLK Jr, Benjamin Franklin, and Jane Goodall. This program looks like it is all about joy and ease and beautiful art and language, all good things that I want to influence Wyatt’s learning. The art and music component is amazing as well. Wyatt is going to be studying some real masters this year, from Monet to Diego Rivera (I so hope that we can get in to the DIA safely to show Wyatt the enormous Rivera mural there) to Edward Hopper, and Bach and Joplin and Chopin. It sounds more intense than it really is, but how awesome that this is what he is being introduced to. I felt he needed a different math component though, which is why I went with Math for Living Education. Not because I felt the Blossom and Root was lacking, but because Wyatt needs a little structure in some areas.

I am also adding in the Chickie and Roo Kinder Nature Beginnings Language Arts program. If I knew what next year had in store for us, whether we are committing to homeschooling for elementary or not, then I might just stick to the Blossom and Root, but I wanted to add in just a touch more language arts as well. Wyatt I think needs just a little more reinforcement and structure, and he loves to do table work.

I will also be adding in some mini-science unit studies of my own as well throughout the year. Wyatt and I are going to be so busy – but in a really good way. I am super excited for this school year, and I hope that he will love it too!

My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

Itโ€™s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

We have had a very French-centric week around our house, with Wyatt’s new unit of study. It’s been fun! I also had TWO social distancing social dates (outdoors only), both Friday and Saturday night. Friday night with my tribe of ladies and it was a much needed night for all of us, then Saturday we went to my brother’s house and just sat around and chatted for really the first time since February. I have missed that so much! We stayed apart but were able to talk together and it felt so normal and nice. I missed hugging my little niece but I could at least talk to her in person. These moments will get us through! We are also super obsessed with our gecko that we added into the family last weekend, and have really been playing around with her enclosure, decorating. (we are fairly certain Harry is a girl)

Read Last Week:

I had hoped to finish up The Masterpiece but I am still working away on it. It is good, but I am in a nonfiction mood these past few weeks so I am having a difficult time sticking with it. I’ll finish it though, before the month is through! (maybe..)

Reading this Week:

I am super excited to start 100 Things to do in a Forest. We stay out of our favorite woods this time of year, too many mosquitoes and they love my husband, but we will be venturing back in again in the fall.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Adventuring Together

Homeschooling, Summer Edition: France Part 1

Watching:

This week we have been watching Father Brown, Cursed, and Picard. Then for our movie nights we watched The Suspiscions of Mr. Whicher on Friday, then Radioactive Saturday. (both on Amazon) Radioactive was amazing. The movie was so well done honestly, I definitely recommend it.

Listening:

To a lot of true crime podcasts. I am doing way more listening than reading these days. I have been making my way through Redhanded and Crime Files – I actually committed to being a Patron of Redhanded lol. I love that podcast, it is so good! (Thank you What’s Nonfiction for that suggestion way back in November)

And that is about it from our little burrow. Stay safe everyone!

Homeschooling, Summer Edition: France, Pt. 1

This week was the first week in our two week unit study about France, and we had so much fun! This week we focused on famous landmarks and symbols of France, read a few books, and tried a few new foods – or at least Wyatt did.

We read Madeline, talked about the Eiffel Tower, and then built our own version out of wafer cookies

We read Anatole, about that cute little bike riding, beret wearing mouse who has quite a refined palette for cheese tasting… and then of course we had to eat cheese too. Wyatt tried baked Brie. He was not impressed. I’ll give him a few more years.

We read about The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, which was really an interesting book!! I had never heard of this historic event, and was pretty fascinated with it. The picture book is very long, so I had to summarize the pages a bit to keep Wyatt interested, but I went back and read it myself. We talked about giraffes, their natural habitats, and looked at maps, both a world map and a map of France, to view the journey this giraffe made so long ago. We plotted her walk from Marseilles to Paris (425 miles in 41 days!) and laughed thinking about the raincoat that the French tailor sewed for her. This was a very fun day; Wyatt loves giraffes so it was cool to be able to include them in this unit.

We did some table work as well, math and patterns and all that good stuff, but the bulk of what we did was exploring through reading and trying new things. We also started a new read aloud – Linnea in Monet’s Garden. It is so cute and coincides well with our “journey”. We stopped reading The Little Prince – Wyatt is not ready for it yet and that is ok. Another thing for another time. But he is enjoying Linnea.

Resource Roundup!

France – Weekly Preschool Curriculum

Books We Read:

(this section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris || Linnea in Monet’s Garden || Anatole || Madeline

Videos We Watched:

Ratatouille on Disney+

Anatole’s Parisian Adventure

Homeschool Pop – Eiffel Tower for Kids

FreeSchool – Eiffel Tower for Kids

I am already looking forward to what I have planned for us next week!

Book Review: Adventuring Together

Goodreads Summary:

Parents today complain of fragmented relationships with their kids. What parents yearn for–and their kids too–is deep, heart-to-heart connections. But how can parents compete with all the other noise fighting for their kids’ attention?

The answer, says Greta Eskridge, is to break free from regular routines and familiar comforts of home to experience new places and adventures–even if those adventures go awry. From simply reading a book together to going on an overnight backpacking trip, activities together provide unique and crucial bonding opportunities. Adventuring Together highlights Greta’s stories of doing just that, including an array of ideas for outdoor and indoor ventures, what to do when your finances are limited,and how to adventure if your family can’t hit the hiking trail or spend the night at a campground.
 Giving readers the tools to make adventures happen, Adventuring Together is a step-by-step guide for parents–whether in the city or the country–to start building connections today that will last a lifetime.

My Thoughts:

This was an excellent read, and I was already so inspired by it!

Eskridge says right off the bat, that this book is for moms who don’t like hiking or camping without an actual bathroom (or in my case, a private bathroom even), bugs, heights – basically, those who don’t THINK they have an adventurous bone in their body. This book is to guide you out of your comfort zone and build heart connections with your child in the process. It doesn’t mean you need to go white water rafting as a family (unless you want to) but a short canoe ride would suffice, if that is where you are at. Or a short hike down a well tended trail in a nature park. Setting up a tent in your backyard and sleeping out. The adventures don’t need to be huge or epic, just adventures with your family, whatever that looks like for you. The important thing is to challenge yourself, challenge your family, try new things together. Then these adventures become lasting memories.

I am sure that we all have these memories. My mom was a single mom and she got out there and did so much with us, way out of her comfort zone most of the time. I remember one summer on a family vacation, we all went canoeing. My mom, aunt, and I were in one canoe, and my little brother went with my uncle and his family. Well, needless to say, my mom, aunt, and I tipped over and went for an impromptu accidental swim! The river was gentle, and not very deep yet my aunt came up holding onto my shirt like I was going to be lost down the river – and I was a teenager who was also on the swim team! We all ended up laughing and this story became one we told over and over again, always laughing as we did so. This is a memory we would never have had, if my mom had not tried and pushed herself to take her children out canoeing even when she was nervous to do it.

Just yesterday I put this into practice, on a very small scale. Not an adventure or anything exciting, but Wyatt and I are working on a France unit of study this month and I decided one of our projects was going to be building an Eiffel Tower out of wafer cookies. Now, I knew that if we waited for Billy to get home to have him lead the construction that the project would turn out perfectly. But I thought, no, I am going to try to do this with Wyatt on my own, and it might not turn out perfect but it would be something we did together, no matter what. And well.. it was the wonkiest version of the Eiffel Tower ever built out of cookies, but Wyatt and I laughed and laughed while building it, as it fell numerous times and he kept trying to eat while we worked. It was hilarious. I managed to grab a quick photo before it tumbled for the final time…

So while not something big or adventurous, still something that was difficult and new that we did together – and had a blast.

Another point that Eskridge makes that I absolutely love is that traditions make memories. So so true. I try to build little traditions into our lives and I love this idea that these traditions become happy memories that last forever. She adds in some suggestions to get you started if you need a little inspiration. The whole book actually has a ton of inspiration and little helps for parents who need the extra push or information. (like what to pack in your adventure bag!)

Eskridge ends the book with simple guides for some little adventures, such as hiking, and visiting an art museum. I absolutely loved her suggestions for the art museum visit, and can’t wait to put them in practice eventually!

This was a short, informative, and interesting read, and I highly recommend it – especially if you feel that you are not adventurous!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

Itโ€™s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week was just a week, nothing too exciting or out of the ordinary. Wyatt and I “visited” the Great Smoky Mountains, Billy worked, and then Saturday we added a new family member! A cute little fancy leopard gecko that we (I) named Harry! And we loves her/him! We have read so much on the whole substrate controversy as well – our kit came with this substrate and after some reading, we learned it is one of two brands that is acceptable. We have already decided we are probably going to go nuts though and build her a naturalist or bio type enclosure, so this substrate won’t be in there too long. So our creatures are now at two snails, one gecko, and three cats.

Harry!

Read Last Week:

My reading is almost at a standstill I am reading so little these days. I am still working on my Zola book, which I am really enjoying I just am not finding a lot of time to read it. I also treated myself to a new book which while I haven’t finished it, I almost have so I am counting it as done since I will probably finish it during Wyatt’s nap today.

Adventuring Together is totally my kind of read!

Reading This Week:

I will continue with The Masterpiece and I think that is it for the week, I want to finish it!

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling, Summer Edition: The Great Smoky Mountains

Exploring Folk Music

Book Review: The Creative Family Manifesto

Watching:

We finished Rosemary and Thyme and I am sad – I miss it! We started Picard, which is so well done and the only sci-fi I have watched really, and Cursed on Netflix which I am enjoying as well, even though it is a bit cheesy. Picard is a little confusing since I don’t know half the back story but Billy fills me in. And I finished up the new Unsolved Mysteries and I can’t wait for the next installment. I am also listening daily to the Redhanded Podcast. I am apparently all about the true crime these days.

Stay safe everyone!

Homeschooling, Summer Edition: The Great Smoky Mountains

This week was a departure – in two ways! We “traveled” to the Great Smoky Mountains and learned about much of the flora and fauna and traditions of the area; and it was also a departure from our normal version of homeschooling. This week we skipped table work and did more exploring and reading on our own.

I chose the Great Smoky Mountain area because pre-COVID, we were planning a trip to the National Park, Gatlinburg, Dollywood – it was going to be a whole big thing, our first big trip as a family, first theme park for Wyatt. However, it is now on hold for a bit. And well, now we know a bit more about the area for when we do go!

We spent a day talking about the National Parks, park rangers, and specifically Great Smoky Mountain NP. We talked about preparing for a hike, and I gathered a bunch of materials for Wyatt to choose from to pack his own adventure bag. He chose to pack all of it, and to eat his snacks immediately. I guess he is not a minimalist and does not believe in traveling light. This was also the first challenge in the Wild Explorers Club that I signed Wyatt up for. We are working on the first badge, the Wolf Badge. It worked out nicely!

Then we talked about log cabin homes and Davy Crockett, the Native American tribes that lived there (we were going to make a Cherokee pinch pot but never got around to it – another time), and watched a video of the synchronous firefly event – something I would love to see one day! We just learned about fireflies last week so this was sort of fun to revisit again. We had a day spent on Folk music, and then finally learning about salamanders, the Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world! We read the Salamander Room, talked about salamanders, chose our own favorite animal and drew “rooms” for them (fox for me, frog for Wyatt), and finally today as a surprise to Wyatt, we are adding a new member to our family – a leopard gecko! Not quite the same thing but after reading about different types of small pets a leopard gecko sounds like a good fit for our family. We will set up the enclosure today and talk about setting up the room for a gecko, then add in our new friend!

Books Used:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

All Aboard National Parks || The Salamander Room || National Parks of the USA || Great Smoky Mountains National Park (I loved Ranger Rick as a kid!)

A few links to videos we watched and websites I used:

Synchronous Fireflies

Storytime at the Met – The Salamander Room

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cherokee Pinch Pot

Mountain Living

Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a Classroom

And then for all of our music explorations be sure to check out my Exploring Folk Music post!

As you can see, it is easy to get lost in the beauty and richness of the Smokies – even virtually!

Exploring Folk Music

This week Wyatt is learning about the Great Smoky Mountains, and I thought it would be a great time to add in some music! He is a huge music lover of all kinds, and while we almost always have music of some sort playing in the house, I have never purposely included it in our plans – mostly because I am not well versed on music, at all. But I thought this was a good basic intro for him!

I found these folk instrument flash cards online and used them not really as flashcards to quiz him but as a way to talk about the different instruments used in folk music. Then I collected any instruments that we had around our house that were listed and set them out for him to play with. I usually have his small instruments out for him in a basket, but the guitar and ukulele are usually put away and for occasions with supervision. The guitar was his grandfather’s and is special to me for that reason. I want him to to use but treat it with respect which is sometimes hard for five year olds who are learning still.

We talked about all the instruments, the types that they are, played around with them, and then listened to music on YouTube. I specifically searched for fiddle music, banjo music, etc so that we could hear what each sounded like, and also threw some in just for fun.

We watched a few Lindsey Stirling videos because I personally love her style. I was surprised that they were not Wyatt’s favorites, because they are so lively and upbeat but I think she was his least favorite! He really loved the harmonica pieces we listened to and Abby the Spoon Lady.

Afterward we constructed a cereal box banjo/guitar but we are still working on the neck – I will update with photo later! I turned it inside out, taped it all back together and had Wyatt decorate it before adding the rubber band strings. His grandfather was an artist and was so talented with calligraphy and design – Wyatt decorating his little art project while we listened to country music just really made me feel like his grandfather was with us for a bit.

So it was a very basic intro but a good one! I am going to look into music for homeschooling as this kid seems to have music in his very soul!