A Garden Update {May 2016}

The month of May was filled with gardening, gardening, and more gardening. There was a lot of work to be done on the property, and though most of my time was NOT spent in the actual vegetable garden, I’ve spent enough time there to begin reaping a harvest which is very exciting.


The oregano, lemon thyme, and chives really took off. They just look pretty out there. I replanted Swiss chard several time in the front bed and back bed to TRY to get something going. I’m still waiting to see what they do. This varmint of ours is quite the beast. He has dug up every single bed several times, but thankfully most of the food has survived him. My Swiss chard is the only thing that can’t seem to withstand him. We’ve just about determined it must be a raccoon.

Anyway, the Rocky Mountain Lettuce Mix in this bed continued to be dismal, but that’s okay. Lesson learned.


Our trellis did not work like we thought it would and because of all the rain I wasn’t able to really guide my peas the way I wanted to. So it could have been the rain. It could have been the trellis. I do not know, but I do know that I will do a different trellis for my peas next year. Either way we’ve been unclumping peas all month and hoping they do okay. thumb_IMG_1295_1024

The beans have sprouted up nicely as well and are reaching for the trellis. I can’t wait to see what either of these crops produce.

The four spinach plants I got from Walmart ended up doing okay and we had several meals of spinach. I don’t have a picture because they’ve bolted now that the weather has turned blazing hot. They took some serious attention when they went into the bed, but they were worth the effort. I would grow spinach again.


In the above bed, the front right is a squash plant sprouted. There were supposed to be two but the raccoon demolished the one on the left. I didn’t replant because I was sick and then put on bed rest later for pregnancy stuff. I figured we’d just see what our one plant does this year.

The Parris Island Lettuce, however, has done beautifully. We’ve been harvesting and enjoying salads all month long. Since it was doing so well, we planted some more with our garlic. We figured the garlic would grow a bit larger giving the lettuce a little shade in the month of June when we hope to harvest it.



Speaking of garlic, it seems to be doing okay too. I cannot figure out if it has scapes yet or not … It’s a bit confusing and I’m tired (still pregnant … ) so I’m just going with it.


The carrots are bushing up a bit and I’ve been working to keep them thinned. I’ve never been great at thinning my vegetables, but I’m trying really hard this year. It’s such a simple concept, but I often feel like I’m doing it all wrong. ha!


The broccoli plants are like whoa! They have THOROUGHLY impressed me. I got the plants from Home Depot and we’ve been enjoying baby broccoli in our salads every time I harvest lettuce. I would definitely grow these again! The beets are still growing under there, but I don’t know if they need more sun … time will tell. I didn’t expect the broccoli plants to grow so huge. The above picture was taken with one week left to go in the month and more rain made them grow to almost double the above size. Wow!


We managed to get four tomato plants in this month. We got them from a local nursery and they are doing fabulous. Again, this was taken before another big rain and all the plants have doubled in size. We will be staking them this month as the fruit begins to grow. Almost all of them have some green tomatoes on them.


We planted four pepper plants (from Home Depot) and four pickling cucumber plants (bush variety from local nursery).

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The peppers are growing and we’re waiting to see what the cucumbers do. They went in around the first of the month.


The spearmint is thriving in its little pot.


The peppermint invites us into the garden nicely. thumb_IMG_1267_1024

And the chocolate mint is equally as inviting and I’m hopeful that in the next year or so it will take over this pot. thumb_IMG_1271_1024

The pineapple sage and cilantro grew out of control – again thank you rain.


This is a hot mess. I don’t even know what all is in here still. I had to let it all come up this year just to see how it works, but after these flowers bloom I’m getting a hold of this forest. There has been something blooming in here since mid-April but we’ve not enjoyed any of it because it all comes up in big clumps. So this needs some sorting out. My lemon balm and oregano is under there somewhere. Phew!


And once these day lillies have their moment of glory this summer, I will be thinning this out too. This is SNAKE-VILLE. They may be pretty, but there is just too much of a good thing going on in here. We’ve seen several snakes running to hide here. No thank you. Not this close to where I spend most of my time. πŸ˜›

So the month of May brought with it a lot of salads and fresh tea. We’ll see what June brings!

A Garden Update {April 2016}

I forgot to update about the garden in April. We had a lot going on and though my intentions were very, very good, I … well, I just forgot.

But I do have some pictures that I hope will be helpful to my future self when I begin planting again next year. At least I remembered to keep my notebook with dates and seed name and brands, right?


The herb bed continues to look a bit sparse, but you can see lettuce starting to pop up as well as some Swiss chard (planted in the front closest to us). The lettuce did not all sprout and I won’t buy Rocky Mountain Lettuce again. It has done pretty poorly compared to the other variety of lettuce I planted.

In the containers, I planted lettuce, but we’ve harvest very little from them. I won’t even bother with container gardening next year. I thought it would give visual variety, but the rain and birds destroyed them. Not worth the effort.

The back bed in the above picture – you can see the peas sprouted along with our make shift trellis. Another thing that didn’t really go all that well. The trellis looks great in this picture, but … well, I’ll update in May how it’s doing.

We also had a varmint get into our garden to chase a skink around and ended up digging up several of my peas and the Swiss chard along the right hand side of the back bed. I replanted in the hopes that we’d have the amount of peas we wanted and I really wanted to try my hand at Swiss chard.

The spinach on the left of this bed looks a little sad but I added some fertilizer and bone meal to the soil and I think we might get some spinach after all.


Our Parris Island lettuce is coming up very, very nicely! It’s doing much better than the Rocky Mountain lettuce mix. This is exciting because I’ve never had a great harvest of lettuce. Fingers crossed.


It’s hard to see, but there are SPROUTS for our carrots. With all the rain, I was worried my seeds were just washed away, but it looks like most all of them took. I look forward to thinning them in a few weeks.


Our broccoli plants that I put in for an experiment looks great. They have really grown!


Broccoli is even starting fruit. Exciting!


The beets have sprouted and almost ready for me to come through to thin. I planted them in with the broccoli so we’ll see how they do.


The garlic continues to grow and the base is looking much more sturdy this month.

We built our other two beds, but I don’t have a picture. You’ll see them next month though!


Gardening 2016 {March}

Gardening is something I discovered a deep love for in Colorado. I’ve always loved fields of wildflowers, streams of water with lush vegetation growing alongside it, botanical gardens, and fruit trees, but I never thought I would ever be able to create this sort of beauty myself.


Then God moved us to Virginia and nestled us on a hill of two acres of land previously owned by a master gardener. What a joy that we get to invest deeply into this land – weeding, raking, mulching, and watering to cultivate beauty all around us.

Our bones ache (especially my 8 months pregnant ones), but every night I turn into bed with a deep satisfaction that I did something today that truly mattered. Mattered to my family and mattered to the beautiful creation God has given us. There is just something primal and rooted in partaking and contributing to the first work ever started on this land.

Nature is a place that I feel most alive and I don’t know if it has to do with simply how God created me uniquely or just simply the way we’re all created, but there is a worship of Him and an awe of Him that happens nowhere else for me than when my hands are in soil or observing a bee pulling nectar or listening to the birds sing a simple song of thanksgiving.

Mark and I started our first ever garden when we lived in a two-story town home nestled in the woods of Tennessee.

Our first attempt at vegetable and herb gardens

I will never forget that initial investment into learning the ropes of container gardening – actually mostly learning just how hard it is to grow vegetables and herbs! They say it’s easy, but God says it’s work. You can’t expect it to be anything short of hard work to reap a harvest of food for your family. The watering alone can wear your bones thin and leave you panting in the heat of summer. We learned this truth the hard way. Never again will I expect to reap a harvest without blood, sweat, and tears to boot.

We learned a lot from our over-ambitious container garden, and took those lessons with us to Colorado where we attempted to grow our own food in the summer of 2013.


Sam wasn’t much older than Timmy is now when we tried our hand at a raised bed garden. We observed our neighbors the year before pulling in a harvest of lettuce and rhubarb and peas and we thought, “Why can’t we do this?”

So, the next Memorial Day weekend, I made a plan for a new garden (you can see what we planted here). Again, I found myself more frustrated than successful, but again I learned more about growing vegetables and made hasty notes here and there throughout the summer.

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We very successfully grew garlic and peas that year. As a matter of fact, we had the biggest, most voluptuous peas on the block (several families in our neighborhood had small garden beds, so we all shared notes and stories all summer long!).

We ate a few strawberries fresh off the vine and even enjoyed several salads complete with a radish or two. We enjoyed a butterfly garden and herbs, and added another small bed to cultivate the next year. We planted a grape vine and apple trees, and boy did we enjoy the beautiful flowers native to the area that we were able to snag from discount bins and occasionally the full price splurge.

eating peas

Of course, God moved us and we never got to enjoy the additions to our small postage stamp piece of land, but that’s neither here nor there. We continued to work and invest and learn. A lot. We learned a lot.

Now, here we are – planting time again in a new town, a new zone (7b to be exact), and a beautiful kitchen garden just waiting for us to give vegetable gardening another go!

This is our first year in our new home and we look forward to developing this land into our simple vision of sustainable living. There is no shortage of ideas, but first … the vegetable garden.


This is what the kitchen garden looked like when we moved it. It was a whole lot of growth … overgrowth! And weeds … and overgrowth. Did I say that already?


But I knew that a little lot weeding, tending, and hard work, it would give us a chance at growing our own food the next year! the entire area is fenced in and apart from a few repairs, I think we should be able to keep out the rabbits and other critters that like to eat from our garden. This reminds me, we do need to add a scarecrow.


With the help of the boys (big and small), we’ve done a lot of work to clear the beds, fertilize, weed, rearrange, and manage.

On the right hand side, I added edging fence to help us know where to keep the plants contained. Growing on the far right of the fence are various bee and butterfly attracting flowers along with oregano and lemon balm. To be honest, I don’t know what all is in there … we’ll have to wait and see. In the containers, I’ve planted cool weather lettuce and will be adding Swiss chard to the middle pot tomorrow.

There are currently five raised beds left from the previous owners. Three in the middle and two along the backside.


The first one (on the right) is an herb bed. The previous owners left some healthy oregano and chives. I did split off the oregano and added it to the edging for cover last fall, but it still crept back into this bed which is fine. It’s smaller and more manageable! There is a sad sprout of rosemary thinking about coming up along with lemon thyme growing in the far back right corner. I added lettuce to the bed just today, and will be adding some Swiss chard tomorrow.

The second bed currently has something growing that smells like mosquito repellent which was left from the previous owners. I need to make a positive identification on this one. I’ve added carrots and lettuce, and will add pole beans after the threat of frost has passed. I’m hoping the timing of the lettuce and beans will work out the way I want it to giving me room to plant more beans after we harvest the lettuce.

The bed along the backside is waiting on peas to go in (seeds are soaking) and I’m experimenting with some spinach. I’ve never successfully grown spinach, so I got a few plants to see if I can’t toy with them this year and maybe get one successful plant at least! I’ve already discovered the soil is nitrogen deficient, and I’ve treated the area in hopes of saving my poor little seedlings. Thankfully peas will replenish nitrogen in the soil so that will help the bed for future planting!


The third center bed grew a few nice tomatoes last year. This year I wanted to try broccoli so I added it to this bed. Broccoli and spinach are my two experimental plants. I’ve never successfully grown either, so we’ll see. I was very intentional about only allowing myself two plants that I’ve never tried before or had success with. I’ve learned my lesson about taking on too many new plants at one time.

So there are nine broccoli plants that were already started for me in this bed and I will be adding beets tomorrow. I did some reading about companion planting and the two are supposed to grow well together. We shall see! Beets were my borderline plant … I’ve planted them before and had zero luck. But looking back at pictures, I realize now that I didn’t thin them properly or feed them enough. Since we LOVE beets, I want to figure this one out, so I went ahead and got the seeds. Mark gave me the look when I told him … I thought you were only going with two experimental plants? *ahem*

The back bed currently has garlic growing. I used some organic garlic from Trader Joe’s which might be a no-no. I don’t know. They weren’t “planting” bulbs, but they’re growing so … maybe it worked?

The container there on the left has chocolate mint growing in it. I’m not sure this will stay. We love chocolate mint, but I might find a smaller pot for it, or let it be ground cover somewhere else. I’m not sure yet. I might need the pot for rhubarb. Decisions, decisions …


This section was filled with purple cone-flower last year. Which I have to admit was very pretty and attracted loads of butterflies. You can see it in the background in the first picture of the kitchen garden (the one that screams OVERGROWTH!).

But look at all that space that could be used for food! We’ve decided to relocate as much of the cone-flower as we can to other areas of our home (we have 2 acres to play with), and add a couple more raised beds. We have a blackberry bush that might work along the fence line (this is likely wishful thinking, but we’re going to try), and the additional bed will allow us to plant some tomatoes and peppers.


There are so many beautiful flowers growing along the fence line (both sides) and I plan to pepper a few more throughout the garden in containers that I don’t think eliminating the cone-flower overgrowth will matter too much for pollination. I imagine this section will take us a couple of years to get right though.

Side note: The above picture was just last summer. How have the boys already grown so much? I can’t wait to snag a picture this June of them standing in this exact spot! Sam was 4 and Timmy wasn’t quite 2 yet.


In Colorado I had quite the herb selection going. I’ve been collecting plants here and there as my grocery budget allows and right now I have parsley and basil. I’m watching the temperature religiously to protect my basil …

To recap (for personal inventory), the herbs I currently have growing:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Balm ( my favorite so please Lord let this one grow!)
  • Oregano
  • Onion chives
  • Garlic chives
  • Rosemary (trying really hard to live)
  • Chocolate mint
  • Echinacea (need to figure out how to harvest and use)
  • Something that smells like mosquito repellent

Herbs I want to add to the garden:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Peppermint
  • Catnip
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary (a healthy plant)
  • Thyme (not lemon)
  • Chamomile

I suspect that we might have an elderberry bush growing wild, but I don’t trust my judgment just yet. If so I want to take care of it and hopefully harvest some of the berries for next cold and flu season.

The blue and red pots in the picture above are strawberries that came back from a random planting last year when we lived with the in-loves. I would love to get a nice row of strawberries growing somewhere on the property, but first I have to figure out how to keep birds and other animals away. Or at least know how many I need to plant to ensure enough fruit for all of us. There’s still too much I don’t know about strawberry growing to waste the few strawberries the boys might enjoy from these little babies. The joy on their faces when they get to pluck a strawberry is worth waiting to learn more.

That’s what we have growing food-wise right now. That I know of. Ha! There’s still so much of this property yet to be discovered. We are still identifying trees, bushes, and flowers.

I smell something like peppermint growing in one of the back side yards, but I can’t seem to pinpoint where or what. I’ll try to get a full tour of the property soon, but I needed to make sure I recorded our kitchen garden for now. I’ll be using this blog to keep track of all the changes we make in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Like I said, we have big dreams for the property that include fruit trees, more food, and even chickens … But the kitchen garden first. That’s all we’re taking on this year. It’s not like I’ll be adding another little boy to the mix in about 6-8 weeks or anything. I know one thing – at the very least all this work has my body strong and ready for labor. πŸ™‚

American Symbols Book

I just realized I never finished this post. I started it but got busy and forgot to come back … So, it’s a little late and Presidents Day was actually last month, but oh well!

We just finished a small project that we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks.

With Presidents Day being last week, I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the American symbols.

It was a fun introduction to U.S. History for Sam, and Timmy just enjoyed being a part of it all.

I created the worksheets for us with the idea that we’d compile it all into a book at the end. I thought they turned out really cute, and we are all very proud of them.


So, each day we read a non-fiction book, or we just did a search on the Internet for some basic facts if our library didn’t have any books on the symbol. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a book for each symbol, but it was a hidden gift because it was also a good introduction to the Internet and doing research. Silver lining, right?

American Symbols

We started out defining what a symbol means as well as the definition of American Symbol.

American Symbols


Then each of them colored a picture of the United States of America. I helped Timmy colors his because he asked me to.

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Then we talked about the state we live in within the United States and pasted it underneath our United States Map.

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Sam has been asking a lot of questions about the Statue of Liberty lately. I don’t remember where he saw her picture first, but ever since noticing her, he’s been asking about her. This has led to a fun discussion about New York City and our dream of going some day. We live close enough to be able to make a weekend of it sometime, but we need to save some money first. I look forward to visiting one day though!

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I think learning about the American Flag was most fascinating to them and quickly applicable for them. Both boys spot American Flags everywhere now, and it’s been especially fun to hear Timmy yelling, “FLAG!” from the back of the car when we’re riding down the road.

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Timmy drew another Eagle on his piece of paper when I was helping Sam fill in his facts sheet one day. I was thoroughly impressed and he was thoroughly pleased with himself when I discovered what he had done!

Also, another thing to note here is that the majority of our reading time about Bald Eagles was done in the bathroom. Sam and I sat on the edge of the tub while Timmy sat on the potty … oh, potty training and homeschooling …

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This was one of the symbols that I couldn’t find a single fact book on. So, we did some internet searching and learned what we could.

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I hope to take the boys to see the White House soon. We live too close not to go! But first, we need to get little brother out into the world. This pregnant mama isn’t walking around D.C. right now.

mount rushmore

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This was the last American Symbol that we did. We talked about landmarks and we recalled our trip to South Dakota a couple of years ago. Mount Rushmore completely fascinates both boys. It also allowed us to talk about the Presidents.

I had plans to do another series on the Presidents, but I didn’t want to exhaust the boys. So, I saved it all for next year.

We had so much fun and learned so much together. It was a fun discussion on symbolism and what America stands for.


Helpful Websites for Homeschool

I find things that I want to save often, but never remember where I saved them to. So, I’m going to use this page to keep track of those helpful websites that I want to refer back to!

Note: I will update this as I find resources.


Ambleside Online – A great resource for a Charlotte Mason Education. There are book lists, suggested course of study, and more!


Math Drills – Free math worksheets that make reviewing math facts much easier!

Math-U-See – Free online drills for math. You can choose the facts you want to review and it’s timed so you can practice beating your score.

Math-U-See Worksheets – Free worksheets you can generate for each level of math.

More Math-U-See Resources – More facts sheets and additional worksheets to go along with activity book.

Arithmetic Games – Speed game that gives you two minutes to get as many facts correct as possible.


Daily Literacy Bundle – These are great for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. We already own these and have been using the set 1 with much success. Going to save the other ones for a new school year after we’ve done more focused handwriting practice with Sam.


How to Organize Your Homeschool Curriculum – 5-Step System that is simple and works with the way I think. Good reference as the boys grow older.

How to Create a Homeschool Course of Study – Another good reference when doing yearly planning.

First Hike of the Season

We had a nice warm day today and since we didn’t make it to church for various reasons and Daddy really needed some time of quiet to work on school stuff, I took the boys on a nice long hike.


After enduring the stomach bug, potty training madness, and lots of snowy, stuck inside days, this hike was much needed for the boys and me. thumb_IMG_0429_1024

Sam said no less than twenty times that this was the best hiking day ever. He can’t wait to go back.

Sam was more brave this time and ventured ahead of the pack a lot. I love watching his leadership skills emerging. thumb_IMG_0433_1024

Timmy was a trooper and successfully completed his first solo hike (no more carrying this little boy!). He did start lagging behind toward the end, but after an hour and a half of hiking, who can blame him?

I’m 25 weeks pregnant today with our third little boy, so it was a good pace for me. We were sad Daddy couldn’t be with us, but I’m so encouraged by how well the boys and I managed without him. I forsee lots of hikes in the spring!

Valentine’s Week Learning Activities

I have been thoroughly enjoying the theme weeks we’ve been having in February! It makes teaching the boys together so much easier.

Plus it breaks up the monotony of just covering reading, writing, and arithmetic from our main curriculums.

This week was all about Valentine’s Week, and we had so much fun! I did do a lot of prep work for this week, but it was worth it because I know we’ll have lots of fun with it again next year!


I downloaded this free counting hearts busy bag for Timmy to keep him busy while I worked with Sam. thumb_DSC_0097_1024

He absolutely loved it. This kept him busy and occupied for quite some time!thumb_DSC_0101_1024 thumb_DSC_0103_1024

We continued with our daily notebook work this week that wasn’t theme related, but this daily work makes this boy happy so I dare not take it away from him. πŸ™‚ thumb_DSC_0108_1024 thumb_DSC_0111_1024

I made 10 of these worksheets for Sam to work on various ways to solve simple addition problems. This activity was a very good challenge for him!thumb_DSC_0112_1024

I gave Timmy some foam heart stickers to sort by color one day. Again, I was surprised by how busy this kept him.


To further his time of play while I worked with Sam on math, I gave him his 10-frames again along with a mini mailbox I got from Target’s Dollar Section. He would go back and forth between filling up his 10-frames and putting heart stickers through the small slot. thumb_DSC_0119_1024 thumb_DSC_0124_1024

This was by far Sam’s favorite math activity. I made him a heart-themed 10-frame and we played with numbers to equal 10. He rolled the die, wrote down the number in the first blank, and put that many red jewels onto his 10-frame. Then he had to use the clear jewels to determine how manyΒ  more he needed to equal 10. He was actually sad when this activity was over.

Note to self, create more of these for him …thumb_DSC_0136_1024

Timmy still keeping himself busy with foam heart stickers and mini-mailboxes. He would put the hearts through the slot, dump, and repeat!thumb_DSC_0139_1024

Then he started experimenting with holding the lid, putting the heart through the slot, and getting it to fall into the bottom part of the mailbox. thumb_DSC_0140_1024

Next we worked on our scissor skills to cut out various heart themed puzzles (which I can’t remember where I got them from – sorry!). thumb_DSC_0142_1024

After we cut them out, we’d glue them back into place like a puzzle. thumb_DSC_0145_1024

Sam’s are all hung on the left and Timmy’s are on the right. They both enjoyed this activity!thumb_DSC_0148_1024

After that, we made a Puppy Love craft. I got the template for this activity here. thumb_DSC_0149_1024

One afternoon I had Sam solve the secret sight words. I got these worksheets for free here.thumb_DSC_0152_1024

I printed off a new poem for him to memorize and after reading it, we added it to our poetry notebook and Sam illustrated the poem. This is one of our favorite activities when I have time to pull new poems together. Plus this one worked on the color sight words which was great for him!thumb_DSC_0156_1024 thumb_DSC_0158_1024

I created a simple “I Can Measure Hearts” fill in the blank worksheet for him. Then I cut out various sized hearts and drew a line through the center of each one. thumb_DSC_0162_1024


He had to line up the candy hearts and write the correct answer in the blank. Another activity that he loved!


Timmy wasn’t even remotely interested in anything except eating his candy hearts on this day!thumb_IMG_0273_1024

More of our math worksheets. Again, these were not his favorite, but as he got better at them, he enjoyed them a little more. New concepts and Sam aren’t usually very good friends. πŸ˜‰thumb_IMG_0277_1024

We did a mind map one day of all the people we can show love to. I thought it was interesting that Sam said “enemies” onΒ  his own. I love when I get to experience God’s word transforming these little hearts.thumb_IMG_0278_1024

On another day we did some more talking about friends to work on sentence structures.thumb_IMG_0279_1024

He had to write a sentence on each of these days and illustrate the sentence in his notebook. We haven’t done a whole lot with sentences this year because it’s too exhausting for him. I don’t want to push him in this area too early, so this week was very gentle in its approach. He did well with it, but I’m going to continue keeping this at a minimum right now.thumb_IMG_0292_1024

We worked on patterns with our candy hearts. I let him work on some of these patterns first, and then we created our own patterns. Timmy did this a little bit with us, but again he mostly just ate candy hearts.thumb_IMG_0296_1024

I did manage to slow down the candy heart intake by pulling out the letter V do-a-dot printables from the Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum. I had him add foam hearts to the circles to make a big V and little v. He loved this! thumb_IMG_0302_1024

Meanwhile, Sam worked on this fun heart-themed math worksheet. I loved that he chose to make each row one single color. He loved this activity. I guess there was much to love this week (bad joke?). thumb_IMG_0305_1024

This one wouldn’t do a thing except eat his candy … I tried. I really, really tried! haha!thumb_IMG_0326_1024

I snagged this math center for free from A Spoonful of Learning! It was excellent on so many levels. He thoroughly enjoyed it. thumb_IMG_0331_1024

I made some simple number hearts for him to work on counting by 10’s. He had to feed the hearts to the mailbox as he counted. thumb_IMG_0332_1024

We also worked on our number sight words. He’d read them and feed them to the mailbox.thumb_IMG_0334_1024

Finally, while I taught Sam how to play War, Timmy put heart stickers all over this entire worksheet. These stickers were a hit with him this week. Another find at Target!

We had a very full week, but it was a very fun week. The boys were both all smiles during school time which was such a blessing. I can’t say much of the same for the other parts of our days because Timmy decided to potty train and all of us are just tired of winter weather. We are really looking forward to Spring!

Groundhog Day 2016

Since February 2nd was Groundhog Day, we spent the week talking all about groundhogs, Pennsylvania, and predictions. It was a fun-filled week with the boys.

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We are finally finding our groove with our homeschool routine. Timmy is currently 29 months old and very, very interested in school time. There is no telling him to go play with blocks anymore. He wants worksheets and projects just like brother. He even tries to trace the letters on everything I give him because that’s what Bubba does. Keeping him busy is the key to a stress-free school day.

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Sam is five years old now and it’s amazing the change that’s happened in him the last six weeks. His attention span has really expanded. There are days when he reminds me that he is still really little by something he does, and on those days, we pull back and do less. But mostly, we’re able to keep a really nice, steady rhythm to our days. We’re able to do more subjects in a day instead of JUST doing a reading lesson or JUST doing a craft or JUST doing a math lesson. So, this is really exciting for both of us and we’re having a little more fun!

Now, what we did for Groundhog Day!

I found this amazing Groundhog Day Activity Pack at A Spoonful of Learning. I absolutely love her site. She’s a public school teacher, but I have benefited SO MUCH this year from her resources. When I’m stuck in a planning rut, or we just need something fun and engaging, I go to her site. I literally have it bookmarked I frequent it for ideas so often.

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On Monday (the day before Groundhog Day), we talked about what Groundhog Day is all about.

We started out by reading her Groundhog Day Class Book together. I liked it better than any other book I found on the subject because Sam was able to read it with me, and it covered all the basic facts easily. Both boys really enjoyed reading the “homemade” book.

Then, we did the Groundhog Day Student Book to review the facts that we just read about Groundhog Day.

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Timmy’s was already filled out, so he colored his. He absolutely loved seeing that he was doing the same work as Sam. This is another reason why I love A Spoonful of Learning’s stuff. She gives various levels for each of her activity packs.

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Sam had to fill in the blanks all the correct answers. He opted to color as well. This was a day that he was pretty tired, so he was not a fan of having to write his answers in. I ended up helping him finish his book, which was just fine.

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I set our bulletin boards up with fun visuals from the activity pack. The boys LOVED this! It’s truly the little things. They were so excited to get started on school this day because they wanted to know what all these words and pictures meant!groundhog day 2016-1

Before heading outside to play, we called the grandparents and I let Sam explain that he was working on a school project. Don’t worry – Timmy was there too repeating everything Sam said. This meant I had to repeat everything too in order for the grandparents to understand a word we were saying. We’re working on phone etiquette. What can I say?

Anyway, I had Sam tell them that Groundhog Day was the next day, February 2nd, and we were making predictions. We wanted to know if they thought the groundhog would see his shadow or not. After they made their predictions, we colored a groundhog with their corresponding answers. Then, we pinned it on our board so we could see all the answers.

Finally, Sam graphed the results, but I didn’t get a picture. We were in too much of a hurry to get outside!

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This is the other bulletin board that I made our word wall for the week. We reviewed the words each day.

On Groundhog Day (Tuesday), we made some adorable Groundhog Hats from the activity pack. I wasn’t sure the boys would enjoy this, but they did.

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They were very, very proud of their creations!

While wearing their hats we did the Groundhog Day Flipbook. Again, I was totally surprised by their level of excitement. Sam declared that school was just so fun! Well, okay then!

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I love the details of Sam’s groundhog. He was really into making him look like the illustration on our bulletin board. He caught details that I had missed. groundhog day 2016-12

Timmy participated the entire time today. He may not have understood what we were doing completely, but he did get some practice with gluing each answer into the little boxes. Great fine motor practice, right? And a complete sense of accomplishment when he was done!

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He would glue his piece on and then wait patiently for Bubba to turn to the next page. Sam had a little writing to do on each page and he had to cut his own pieces out which took him a little bit longer.

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I think he looks so handsome and sweet in this picture. Plus when it was time to our afternoon school work (Timmy was napping) he said, “Mom, I want to wear my hat while I work because I think it makes you happy.” Such a sweetheart!groundhog day 2016-13

We have been incorporating listening activities two to three times a week into our afternoon time to work on following directions. Sam is very independent and assertive, but following directions goes against his stubbornness from time-to-time. These listening activities have made submitting to authority a little less threatening. I’ve already seen a big change in him, and believe it or not? He REQUESTS these activities. He loves them! I got this one from here.

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The last thing we did on this day was matching groundhog parts. I got this from this download pack.

The rest of the week, we had a few things here and there.

One morning we read Groundhog Gets a Say which is a really cute story that gives a lot of information about groundhogs in a fun storybook way. It is probably one of our favorite books.

We talked a lot about burrows, hibernation, and various other things that are unique to groundhogs. I just let the book do my teaching for me and we didn’t do any go-alongs because the boys seemed to really grasp everything just by reading the story.

Plus it was 70 degrees outside with a promise of snow the next day. We didn’t want to stay inside!


On another day, we worked on AB, BA, ACC, and ACB patterns using a worksheet from this Groundhog Day Pack.


Finally, we talked a lot about Pennsylvania this week. We worked on identifying it on the map along with reviewing the states we’re already familiar with. We also talked more about the Atlantic Ocean and just had fun working different puzzles.

I had plans for a few more things groundhog related planned for this week, but pregnancy exhaustion set in one day and I just had to rest. Thankfully the weather was warm and the boys could go outside with Daddy.

We were able to catch up on our reading lessons, complete an entire math unit, and start a new read-aloud book. I’d say it was a full, exciting week in the Dutton’s Homeschool Room. πŸ™‚


Before Five in a Row: The Snowy Day

After such a fun time rowing Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, we decided to pull out The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.


Since we’ve been getting a lot of snow the last couple of days, it seemed only fitting, and we had so much fun with it!

The Snowy Day Activities


The first full day of being snowed in, the boys were already getting a little crazy. πŸ˜‰ So, I set about finding a fun project for us to do together as a family. Daddy has been studying hard all week for school and we all needed something fun to do.

Scholastic shared a fun go-along craft for The Snowy Day on their site. It had a video to walk us through the steps.

We all watched it several times and then set about making our own Snow Day Collages. I love that we all started with the exact same raw materials, and every one of us made something totally different.


Timmy and I worked together on his. I didn’t even attempt to make my own because I knew he would need a little more help. However, he placed all his buildings. Directed where the snow drifts should be glued. Shredded all of his cotton balls and glued them down. He requested trees and a snowman with hat. It was so fun working with him!


Sam is a creative kid. There is a lot running through his little mind at one time, and he has big visions of what he wants to create.

Some notables:

  • He has a fence behind the snow drifts, and he told me that we’ll see them when the snow melts.
  • Someone also threw snowballs really high up in the sky (they almost look like two moons in the sky).
  • He absolutely insisted to get stars out to add to his.
  • And he drew Peter onto a black sheet of construction paper because it was his town and he needed to be there.
  • Oh, and he asked me what city this reminds me of from our big road trip. When I said, “Chicago!” He said, “YES! You are right, Mommy!”

He rattled off some other things, but I was also helping Timmy so I simply didn’t catch it all.


Nonnie got in on the fun making her own collage. I loved her tree creation!


Daddy took a break from reading and joined us. I loved his fence!

Then of course we had to take advantage of the beautiful snow day!

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It is likely the best snow day that I recall since I was in high school. My 10 year reunion has come and gone … so that will give you a frame of reference.

It was so fun! We all (the boys, Daddy, Nonnie, and I) got outside one day and just had a blast. snow day 2016-5 snow day 2016-6 snow day 2016-7

Snowball fights were a big hit!snow day 2016-8

Oh, and sledding! This kid was fierce and over the moon excited about sledding. Sam had a blast too! I was taking part in the sledding adventures as well (pregnant belly and all) so I didn’t get any shots of the kids.snow day 2016-10

But we did make sure to make some tracks in the snow just like Peter from the story.


On another day, Daddy took them outside (my pregnant self was too worn out from the day before). They had more snowball fights and did a little baseball practice which was a lot of fun!


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Sam got pretty serious about getting Daddy!

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These whimsical snowmen were easy to make. Mine is the one in the middle and it looks more like a scarecrow according to the boys. Oh well.

We free painted our paper first and while it dried we cut out our snowmen circles. Timmy and I pulled some of the snow drift scrap paper out that was leftover from our Snowy Day Collages (top of the post) to add to ours. Sam insisted on a soccer ball in his picture for some reason. We just used various scrap paper, stickers, and sequins to decorate our snowmen.

I wish I could say this was a fun activity, but mostly it was stressful. Timmy was tired and made the entire project difficult for everyone (he even spilled paint … everywhere). I do think Sam would have enjoyed it if I had opted to give Timmy a nap instead of letting him paint too. Timmy put his snowman smile upside down making it a frown and I left it because it just seemed so fitting.

Most of the time these sort of projects are a lot of fun, but sometimes, they just aren’t. πŸ™‚


On another day, we experimented with ice melting. I set up four plates with four pieces of ice. Well, actually the boys did. They got out the plates and set the plates up with ice.

We left one piece of ice alone as our control. Then, we put salt on one, wrapped aluminum foil around another, and newspaper around the last piece of ice. We all predicted which one would melt first and last. I used our white board to record our answers.

We all thought the ice with the salt on it would melt first. Sam and Timmy predicted the ice that had nothing on it would melt last. The adults all predicted the aluminum foil would melt last.


Then, we observed. And observed. And observed. Timmy kept licking the salt and making funny faces.


While we waited we read about water from a book my mom gave me a few years ago leftover from her teaching days. I couldn’t find it on Amazon to link to it. We talked about the water cycle and at what point water freezes. The boys were totally intrigued!

Then, it was time for our results. We were all surprised by the results because the newspaper melted the slowest!

It wasn’t until the experiment was over and we had time to think about it that we realized newspaper is an insulator and aluminum foil pulls in heat which makes the ice melt really fast! I had to have Daddy come in to explain it all to us. I’m really thankful we’re a work at home family and Daddy is right here to help me when I get stuck. Plus he loved being our science superhero. πŸ™‚

I highly recommend this experiment! We all learned a lot!

And that was our week with The Snowy Day. It was a lot of fun and totally worth spending a little time each day on!

Other posts you might like:

What is Mommy Like, Sam?

I saw this short question and answer on Facebook and knew I had to do it with Sam. It’s always so insightful hearing from your child’s mouth what they think of you and what you do. It doesn’t always mean it is accurate, but it can really be enlightening.


Sam is currently five years old.

1. What is something I always say to you?

Shut the door!

2. What makes me happy?

When I do what you tell me to do.

3. What makes me sad?

When I don’t obey you.

4. How do I make you laugh?

By making silly faces and telling jokes.

5. What was I like as a child?

Hmm … I don’t know. I wasn’t there, Mom.

6. How old am I?


7. How tall am I?

Four and a half feet

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

Play games.

9. What do I do when you’re not around?


10. What am I really good at?


11. What is something I’m not good at?


12. What do I do for a job?

Work at home.

13. What is my favorite food?

French fries.

14. What do you enjoy doing with me?

Play games.