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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Frontier Woman

In the words of my very loving husband, "Oh Lord you're still in the kitchen...I've married a frontier woman."  I love the good old days.  I have a fascination about the 1800's.  I know times were tough, but oh to live the simple live.  I've always loved homemade candles and soaps.  I have since elementary school days when one day while studying the 1800's our teacher had us make dipped candles.  Oh, I loved it.  This may have been the same year I tried octopus in school but that a completely different story. 


Moving on...this summer was the first time ever that I tried canning. It all started when our friends The Neighbors (literally) invited me to come over and pick some plums. I'd already been there earlier in the summer to pick blueberries to eat my fill of and freeze for the winter. Now I was able to pick plums to my hearts desire? Oh, I'm in heaven....wait...what will I do with all of those plums? My friend and owner of the plum tree had canned her plums so I decided to do the very same. Long story short I visited a site called "Pick-your-own" and soaked in all the pages I could before I hibernated in my kitchen for the next couple of weeks. I made various kinds of sugar free jellies to include but not limited to: plum, strawberry, strawberry kiwi, peach, peach pineapple, triple berry, blueberry, and finally blackberry. In fact some of them were so good I made multiple batches. 
 
We also planted a garden again this year. And this year the deer stayed out of it. The Neighbors tilled my ground and we "borrowed" some of Molly and Rose's (their horses) "fertilizer." My garden boomed with produce. I was getting squash and zucchini like crazy at first. Then, tomatoes and spices, and beans and oh time for camp. I did manage to pickle some of the cucumbers into pickles, but I notices I picked the wrong ones. The pickles aren't half bad. I also managed to can some tomatoes too.  And finally I have hang drying in my garage right now...spices from the right side of the screen. 

So today was The Frontier Woman finale.  I clocked in at 8am for my day in the kitchen.  I didn't clock out for another 13 hours and here I sit typing you so I won't loose the fond memory of baking my own sourdough muffins, cinnamon rolls, and three loaves of bread.  Yep, you saw correctly.  I did all that today!  I've been growing my pet "Steve" (get it? Pet Peeve) for a couple of days now. 
 
What got me started was when a lady from another Church brought in loaves and loaves of homemade bread for a function.  Jeff raved about that bread as did everyone who ate a bite of it.  So of course...not to be out done I must take a stab at this bread making adventure too!  I am not a good kneader.  I was in a tangle mess before Jeff came to my rescue. 
 
At the same time today I was also making ANOTHER batch of apple butter because I'd eaten half the first batch from the other week when I was up at 3am canning.  Don't get me started on that story.  Thanks for the apples Neighbors.

So my back hurts, my hands are dry from washing every dish in the house four times, and my eyes are tired.  ...Oh the bread?...FABULOUS!  What makes it even better is dipping it in the fresh piping hot apple butter cooking beside it. Oh if only we had smell-o-vision or 4D blogs.  So this Little House in the Cul de Sac is closing down for the night. Good night John Boy!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Holy Mercury!

Todays unforgetful memory will be...drum roll please...

I was having JD prepare the needed items for our science lesson to include the thermometer. When I went back to the computer after handing him the thermometer and saying you NEVER want to break a thermometer because its poisonous...I heard glass break and a stressed out child apologizing profusely. I went in and picked up two pieces of thermometer. From what I can see the mercury never made it out of the bottom of the thermometer. All I could do to “clean” the mess was wipe the floor with tissue. I did not see any mercury on the tissue.

I let JD know I was not mad at him. Accidents happen...Jeff's response...was "I’ve broken plenty of thermometers, at least it wasn’t a rectal one taking his temp… LOL"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

8th Grade year has begun

The 8th grade year began for us on 20 Aug.  It was tough going from summer to school.  But we're managing just fine.  I marked our week down a "good" but that was being nice on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I have a 13 year old student who thinks he's 25.  Homeschooling is getting tougher by the day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

7th grade assessment week (2012)

I can't believe this year is already over and this is only the second post of the year. I've missed so many moments where I could have written stories about our days. I will tell you this year was extremely trying on both of us. This was the year of puberty meets frustrated momma!


21 May, 2012 – Day one of assessment week
After a quick review of the Reading Comprehension rules we came up with like: read carefully, find backup information, point to evidence, we started our 2012 assessment with the Practice Reading test. The practice test took 10 minutes.

After Jonathan got a peek at what was expected from this year’s assessment we went onto the real Reading/Language Arts assessment. There were 55 questions total and “generous allowed time” was 70 minutes total. However,

The Reading/Language Arts assessment was broke down into parts 1 & 2. We started part 1 at 2:00pm. During our assessment and old friend called and I talked with her for 10 minutes. Jonathan was busy again this year playing with hat and making small noises and tapping. He was also moving around in his seat a lot. Part one was over at 3:02pm. The book gave a suggested test time of 35 minutes and he took 52 minutes to complete 23 questions.

Part 2 was started at 3:07pm and stopped at 3:15pm for a snack I allowed him to have during the assessment. He was self distracted by eating an apple and Cheetos and he missed an easy question. I restarted again at 3:21pm and the assessment finally ended at 4:23pm. The book gave a suggested test time of 35 minutes and he took 70 minutes to complete the remaining 32 questions. The total assessment time today was 127 minutes.

There was a lot of reading today so overall I think he did well as far as test time. If he was slightly more focused and well rested he maybe could have pressed on faster and still would have been as accurate at answering questions. He was yawning a lot and complaining of being tired.

One of the passages talked about Black Holes. He was thinking that in the future Black Holes could be used as our landfills since according to the passage some people have assumed that things that enter the holes end up in another dimension.

This year as with years past I have been the person filling in the bubbles. This allows me to ensure Jonathan marks the correct answer. So he calls out A – Alpha or B – Bravo and I mark it. He was having fun guessing what letters A – J were. By the way they are: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Frank, George, Hotel, I is missing from the assessment answers but its Indigo, and finally Juliet. Jonathan says: alpha, bravo, Charlie, dingo, echo, fart, George, heaven, institution, jay walker. It was fun to hear him call them out but I hope he learns them correctly before entering the Army. (Smile)

Possible and plausible score for this assessment was an 89% because he missed 6 questions out off 55 that I’m aware of.

22 May, 2012 - Day two of assessment week.
Today was math day. I HATE math day, especially when it says “Do not use calculators.” Today felt like everything we did this year and in years past to include last week’s review was dumped accidentally BEFORE the assessment. The frustrated and sad feeling I felt I will equate to our computer crashing and losing all the information we had from 2002 until present. While I thought about backing the information up I didn’t and the computer crashed before we backed it up.

Simply put I was ready to explode today. I couldn’t believe Jonathan was stumped by some of the simplest questions today. By question eight I was ready to blow so I emailed Jeff asking him to call here to talk with “Junior.” Prior to the call I told Jonathan I was taking away the mind rotting computer games and video games that he longed to play. Needless to say after Jeff talked with HIS child, Jonathan walked off crying.

Before a pencil hit any paper I went over the math rules I established for Jonathan. They were: read the questions carefully, calculate twice, write or list the problem out, ask yourself, “What do they really want to know?”, and finally do the inverse to check your work. Once Jonathan washed his face and returned from the call from his dad we finished the remainder of Math Section 1. The “generous time allowed” was 10 minutes for just 9 questions.

One of the questions that stumped him was -11(neg. 11)+7=?. He stared at the book and looked around, but never gave me an answer. Prior to the math assessment I handed him a clean 8.5” x 11” piece of paper and a two sharp pencils. After I saw him go into Jonathan Land I slowly drew him back with me grabbing a piece of paper and drawing out 11 hash marks on the left side of a circle and 10 hash marks to the right side of the circle. I started on the left side and counted seven to the right and got -4. I did this for myself but he saw it when I was quickly trying to hide it. Another easy question was North America is 25,349,000 kilometer and South America is 17,611,000kilometers. How much bigger is North America than South America? In hindsight I can see where the confusion began. The possible answers were: between 6-7 kilometers, between 7-8 kilometers, between 8-9 kilometers. But in order to even look at the answers he would have to perform a math function (+,-, x, or div.) He was truly stuck not knowing what function to perform. Then, I said between my teeth, “Write it out.” He wrote the sizes across from one another and not stacked. I corrected him and he quickly retreated to moving and looking around and not looking at the stuff he just wrote out. He finally got the right answer but it took 10 minutes!

I guess I shell shocked him by saying “Write it out” so many times that he even wrote out the most simple problems. On one problem what they wanted to know was adding what missing math function would make this problem true. He quickly figured it out with his first choice but still kept trying to solve the problem using B, C, and D’s choices; even though answer A clearly made the problem true and he calculated twice he still continued writing out other possible answers. All in all that was not a bad strategy; however, it was a complete waste of precious time.

I called Jeff around question 8 which was an estimation question. There were four problems to estimate and give the biggest sum as the answer to the problem. Jonathan actually told me he“FORGOT” how to estimate. WHAT!? I think my head was smoking and spinning around like a cartoon character.

Both of us felt beaten, defeated, drained, and strained when he answer question # 9 70 minutes after we started! (Oh, the agony!)

The next test of the day was Math Section 2. The generous time allowed was 30 minutes. (Crap triple that…is what went through my head.) Hopefully he’ll use the calculator and breeze through this like a knife in hot butter. There were 23 questions to answer and don’t you know he hardly even used the calculator. (UGH!) There was a lot of moving and tapping and humming. We started at 1:35 and stopped only 35 minutes later.

The last assessment of the day was Mathematics Computation. The generous time allowed was 20 minutes for 20 questions. We started at 2:22 and ended 40 minutes later. Hey that’s double the time! There was a thunderstorm outside and Tater was distracting Jonathan by whining at the door. During this portion of the assessment I said, “Less tapping please.” Jonathan said, and I quote, “Yes ma’am, but I just have to be moving. It feels uncomfortable if I don’t.”

Possible and plausible scores today were: 93.7% on the Mathematics portion because he only missed 2 out of 32 questions. Then he scored a solid 100% on the Math Computation portion of 20 questions.


23 May, 2012 - Day three of assessment week.
Today was vocabulary, language mechanics, and spelling day. We started out the day by joining forces and making zucchini bread for the Pastor and staff at our church. Jeff also had the day off because he had two appointments to attend. So I knew this day would be tough and distracting but I also had hopes that it would not be as tough as the Math day. The first assessment was on Vocabulary words. Jonathan has been reading a cartoon SAT book all year long but it did not come into play in this assessment. (Oh well…there’s always use for big fancy words.) Jeff arrived home from his first appointment just in time to open and close the refrigerator, rustle bread wrappers, and make lunch while Jonathan was attempting to start his assessment. I stopped the test and we broke for lunch early. Sorry babe…Jeff had fasted that morning, but I thought after his appointment he would eat breakfast out.

Since there was no review to conduct we jumped into our first assessment at 12:10pm and for 30 minutes Jonathan’s brain was rip roaring through those pages. The “generous time allowed” was 15 minutes. He was nervously fingering through his hair after the sample question used the word “marred” and he didn’t know what it meant. I talked him down from pulling his hair out and calmed him down. Some of the questions asked what one word fit’s it both sentences, find the opposite meaning, and find the same meaning. He did have difficulty pronouncing convenient and nonchalantly, but overall I thought he did great. His score of 85% backs that up.


We spent some time reviewing his prior answers before moving onto Language Mechanics. This is the portion of the assessment where he checks for punctuation, capitalization, and word usage. I had already conducted an extensive review with him earlier on all these items. We started the assessment at 1:15pm and ended only 25 minutes later. The “generous time allowed” was 15 minutes. Jonathan did a phenomenal job on this and blew it out of the water with an amazing 95%. I was surprised that sending or return addresses would be difficult for him. That’s what we get for email exchanges. At one point I asked if they split up Ohio and made a new state called Mansfield Ohio because there was no comma to separate them. Commas tripped him up this year.

I think Jonathan calmed down after we reviewed those answers or maybe he knew I was not concerned with the next assessment score. The last and shortest assessment of the day was the Spelling. He only managed to squeak out a 35% on this test, but out of fairness he did recognize MANY of the 80 total words as spelled correctly. Each of the 20 questions had four possible choices. I copied the sheets and asked him how he narrowed each one down and he was able to tell me where he had seen most of them. You won’t believe it. Some locations were from video games, TV commercials, TV show titles and network names, road billboards, and books. We started the assessment at 2:20pm and ended 10 minutes later. The “generous time allowed” was also 15 minutes. There were just two words he didn’t know how to pronounce and they were pageant and elegance.

24 May, 2012 – Day four of assessment week
We’re both breathing more easily today because there were only two assessments left. We did a short review on science related things and started the assessment at 10:30am and ended 40 minutes later at 11:10am. The “generous time allowed” was 25 minutes. This year’s science seems like a repeat. He needed to know the same things I taught him from both 5th and 6th grade. Some but not all of the things were: what animals pollinate flowers and how, food webs, desert environments and plant survival, rainforests, colors that reflect sunlight, light, solar eclipse, weather, ozone layers, farming, fields not growing, experiment process, three laws of motion, and fossils.

He scored an 88%. There was a lot of humming, tapping, and multiple comments from me that he needed to focus. He was like a Jack-in-the-box taking this assessment, but he was happy (and so was I.)

The Social Studies assessment was started just 20 minutes later. We discussed having lunch first but he wanted to press on. I was surprised at how easy this assessment was. We pulled down the huge bouncy ball we made into a globe and studies longitude, latitude, and degrees. Then, we reviewed polar, desert, subarctic, and tropical environments along with geographic features, plains, plateaus, mountains, valleys, and rivers. There was a chart to interpret and some ancient writings questions. We reviewed the constitution, branches of government and different types of old and new governments around the world. Luckily feudalism is in one of Jonathan’s games because he was able to tell me all about it and the fact that I mispronounced the name. The last thing we reviewed was populations and growth. We started the assessment at 11:30am and ended just a half hour later at 12:00pm. The “generous time allowed” was 25 minutes. He scored a 96%.


So there you have it. The 7thgrade is complete and our boy passed with flying colors.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mama's third law

Language arts lesson. Look up Big words. Apply mama's third law.
video

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011