The Family

The Family

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

Farm-fresh eggs

Massive sweet potatoes

Bok Choy - it goes great as a substitute for cabbage in cabbage stew

Turnip Greens - the turnip at the bottom is my favorite part

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dismals Canyon

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Alabama are two cabins, a country store and a trail that winds through Dismals Canyon.

I've lived in Alabama my whole life and had not heard of this place until we were doing some reading about our state a few months ago. This well-kept secret is literally located in the middle of nowhere, but Kevin, the exceptionally friendly employee, swears the cabins stay booked every weekend.

It was the perfect weekend for bundling up and enjoying the daylight hours outdoors while building a fire and roasting marshmallows inside at night. 

My favorite time of year to be in the woods is during the fall when the weather turns cooler. It supposedly got down to 28 degrees one night, and, according to the folks on the weather channel, it was colder in western Alabama on Friday than it was in Maine.

One of the more interesting sites to behold are the dismalites, or glowworms, that are visible on the night tours. There's also a waterfall (the map shows two, but we were not able to find the second one). The path leading into the canyon has a lot of stairs, so be prepared if you go with young children.

I had visions of sitting on this porch and reading. HA!

Anyone with young children should know how that went. I did make it out the final morning for about two minutes to sip my coffee.

Even though I didn't get to spend quality reading time on the porch, I did come across this book that made for excellent bedtime reading.

I love spooky stories and wish I would have had a few more days to stay there just to read more of this volume. Not much else beats the thrill of a bone-chilling story while in a cabin in the woods.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

Bok Choy

Winter Squash

Fresh eggs


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins

Fall and Halloween mean there's no short supply of pumpkins.

It's no different around here.

Last week we took a trip to a nearby pumpkin patch. After the hayride and a demonstration on the buoyancy of pumpkins and how to figure out the weight of a pumpkin by measuring its circumference and diameter (some addition and division were part of the formula - I'm no math whiz, so don't ask me to recall it), we made our pick.

Jack turned his into a Jack-O-Lantern this weekend. He drew the face, and Matt did the carving.

And today we used our artistic skills to paint pumpkins. I saw this post last night and decided to give it a try this morning. There were a lot of steps to these instructions, but all we did was trace the pumpkin, mixed some paint and dotted away with our Q-Tips.

Even though I was as neat as possible, and Jack was sloppily putting the paint on his, it's the one that most resembles a pumpkin. He's a true artist in the making!

Look closely at Mattie's, and you'll see the faint markings of the traced pumpkin. As Jack said, she did her best!

It's too bad we'll be out of town Friday for the annual Jack-O-Lantern carving contest that takes place on campus. It's always a real treat.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Slight Change

If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know I don't use curriculum in our homeschooling.

A few weeks ago I made a slight change to my approach and bought a curriculum package. In my opinion, calling it curriculum is somewhat misleading because it isn't curriculum in the true sense of the word.

I was talking to a fellow homeschooling mom who recommended the Five in a Row series because it's so unlike curriculum.

After reading all about it on the website, I knew it was for us. You can buy the manuals together or individually. I decided to buy only the first volume to see how we liked it. Needless to say, I will be buying all the subsequent volumes because it's right up our alley.

Five in a Row focuses on classic and well-written children's literature. The concept is quite simple. For five days in a row the parent reads the book aloud. Then you discuss elements of the story, the pictures and anything related to history, math or science. All of the discussion items are laid out for you in the package. Of course, you could do it all in one or two days if you wanted. We took four days for the first book on the list. We're doing the full five for the second book because almost everything listed I want to cover for this book.

I must say, these first two weeks have been wonderful. Jack is sitting still while I read. He's so interested in the pictures. By the third or fourth day, he knows the story well and looks forward to hearing it again.

Best of all, it has art projects for each session. Jack loves art and even told me last week that he might be an artist when he grows up!

Here is China's Yangtze River with a duck named Ping and some of his family members. This illustration goes along with the first book on the list, "The Story About Ping."

I like Five in a Row because it is a reading and discussion-based curriculum that focuses on aspects that first made homeschooling so appealing to me. In the past two weeks we have discussed things like discernment, patriotism, architecture, buoyancy and fiction. This curriculum has helped make our homeschooling experience a direct reflection of the ideals I hold when it comes to educating my children.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

Fresh eggs

Mixed baby greens

Sweet potatoes

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Explorations in Antiquity

While the things we saw and did on our field trip last week while at Explorations in Antiquity in LaGrange, Ga. were interesting, I'm not sure I'd rate this as a great place to take elementary aged children or their younger counterparts.

I'd read some reviews and thought this would be an enjoyable experience.

According to its website, "The Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, is a living museum of life in ancient times. Through archeological replicas, Biblical meal presentations, lectures, and other personal experiences, ancient Middle Eastern life becomes real today."

Most of our time spent there involved digging and sifting to find artifacts. The kids thoroughly enjoyed this portion.

And watching Mattie walk around holding hands with her new friend was priceless!

Despite these things, our host was less than friendly. To be honest, she was short tempered and didn't seem thrilled to be talking with a group of kids. It was obvious from the start.

There was an extensive list of things NOT to do. That list seemed to involve touching almost anything there.

The experience may be different for older children and adults because let's face it, little kids are squirmy and have short attention spans. Most places we have visited know these things and take them into account. Unfortunately, the guide here did not, and she made what could have been a neat learning experience into a less than stellar day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Night in the Cemetery

There's nothing spookier in October than spending an evening in a cemtery.

Actually, it wasn't spooky. It was a tour put on by our local heritage association and was pretty neat!

Jack and I went tonight on this candle-lit tour. It lasted about 45 minutes, and he was bored by the time it was over. He did think it was cool that a lot of "the ghosts" telling their stories were alive during Abraham Lincoln's time.

I thought it was an interesting history lesson about people from our city and the lives they lived long ago.

Hard to tell from this picture, but this was
a beautiful view of a local landmark from the center
of the cemetery

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CSA Wednesday

Today was the beginning of our fall pick-ups for the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program we participate in through a local farm. Here's what we got today:

Winter Squash

Farm-fresh eggs

Spicy Mixed Greens (spicy in that they are hot/bitter when eaten raw - I sauteed them with garlic, so not spicy that way)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Urban Farm

We have a series of field trips on the agenda the next few weeks.

Last week we visited Eat South, an urban farm located in downtown Montgomery, Ala.

It was a great two hours with our friends and a FUN learning experience.

Urban farmer Owen helped the children with farm vocabulary, as well as enticed them to taste the crops.

He introduced us all to Buffy, the big, fluffy one and Chipmunk, a smaller, darker hen barely visible in this picture. Jack and Mattie both were willing to touch and pet Chipmunk, but Mattie was the only one of my two brave enough to hold her.

All the children got involved in some picking as well. Jack has in his hand a purple sweet potato.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


If you're ever in DC and crave "real" Italian food, head to Georgetown. That's where you'll find Filomina Ristorante.

A few days before we left for DC I saw the restaurant featured on The Travel Channel as one of the country's best pasta places. Almost all the pasta is handmade by the "pasta mamas," and whenever Filomina is open, you'll find one of them sitting in the front entry working her magic.

This Georgetown landmark's decor reminded me of Tavern on the Green in New York - a bit tacky and gaudy. Unlike Tavern on the Green, whose crab cakes tasted like mircowave fish sticks when I ate there, the cooks at Filomina know how to do right by food.

The waiter was exceptionally friendly and knew instantly we had never been there before (I'm guessing the accents gave it away).  He put in a special pasta order for Jack and Mattie and made sure we got the biggest piece of strawberry cheese cake they had!

The staff had already decorated the place for Halloween and there were skeletons, witches, spiders and monsters galore all throughout the restaurant.

It was fantastic!

I was surprised that Mattie wasn't screaming or crying because some of the stuff was scary. There were several crazy looking clowns that had me diverting my glance.