Partying like its 1492

This year we are studying Early American History as well as Ohio History. Since we are starting with Christopher Columbus I thought it would be fun to take the kids to tour The Santa Maria. We are lucky enough to live within 90 minutes of Columbus, where a replica of the 98 foot ship is docked in the Scioto River. What a treat we were in for!

We arrived at Battelle Riverfront Park at about 11:00. (For those who are familiar with Columbus, the Santa Maria is located right across the river from COSI and Veterans Memorial.) We spent about 30 minutes in the Santa Maria Museum watching a video about the making of the Santa Maria and a few of the exhibits. The “museum” itself was very small and was more of a welcome center, but the kids enjoyed the few displays they had.

We had a wonderful tour guide! She led us on a 60 minute tour of the boat. She was knowledgeable, engaging, and funny. The kids loved the hands on tour. I am so impressed. The tour was very reasonable, only $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children age 5 and over. The Santa Maria is open through late October and is definitely worth the trip.

****Curriculum notes: I found 3 books that have great hands on activities that can really add to the experience. One of my favorites was a recipe for Hardtack, which is the bread the sailors ate while at sea. History Pockets, Explorers of North America, Great Explorers Activity Book and Hands on History Explorers.****


Homemade Laundry Soap

I’ve heard so many great things about this laundry soap recipe that I finally decided to give it a try.

It only takes 6 ingredients and goes together in less than 5 minutes. Here is what you’ll need.


1 (3 lb) container of Oxi Clean

1 (4 lb 12 oz) box of 20 Mule Team Borax

1 (4 lb) box Arm and Hammer Pure Baking Soda

1 (3 lb 7 oz) box Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

6 (5 1/2 oz) bars Fels-Naptha soap (You can also use Zote soap)

1 (55 oz) container of Purex Crystals

While I’m not a big fan of Wal-mart, or any big box store for that matter, I purchased all of the needed items in one place for less than $30.00.  This recipe is flexible and can easily be customized to fit your needs.  For instance, most of the recipes I found for this called for the large 55oz container of Purex Crystals.  I’m not big on fragrance in my cleaners so I used the smaller 28 oz bottle.  I used the “fresh spring waters” scent and my laundry has a nice light, clean scent coming out of the dryer.

My biggest concern making the soap was grating the Fels-Naptha.  I put it in the freezer overnight before shredding. My Kitchen Aid food processor shredded it without even hesitating. I dumped all the ingredients in the large Tupperware that I am going to store it in and gave it a mix.


 I have a Maytag Neptune front load washer and I am using 2 tablespoons per load. I have tried it with more delicate clothes as well as on my husband’s heavily soiled work clothes and it works great!  This is the first time that I have made a DIY cleaner. With such great results, I’m excited to see what else I came whip up in my kitchen.  One product I am in love with is Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Lavender Countertop Spray!  So now I’m on the hunt for a recipe for something similar.  Any suggestions?


Our Daily Routine

Today I thought Id update you on whats working, and whats not for us in respect to “getting it all done“. I am finding that our days go much more smoothly if we stick to a routine.  While we don’t always follow this exactly, here is what a typical weekday looks like:

Our Daily Schedule
5:30     Mom and Dad up – Dad heads off to work
   Quiet time for mom -coffee and breakfast, devotionals, check email, start laundry, To do list for the day ( I have to admit this is my goal.  Most days I end up  asleep in my favorite chair after hubby leaves and get up closer to 7:00)
 7:30    Sunshine up
7:45     Outdoor chores
8:15     Littles get up
8:30    Breakfast and Bible time
9:00    School begins for Sunshine, (MWF – our 2 friends arrive)
            Reading and Science
10:30  Snack 
            Math and Language Arts
12:00  Lunch prep and clean up
12:30  Lunch
1:00    Littles rest and/ or nap, Sunshine school with mom 
Follow ups, History and Crafts

3:30  Sanck time –  School is almost always over by now
4:30   Indoor clean up
5:00   Dinner prep and outdoor chores (MWF -our friends head home)
          Dinner – Activites – Outdoor Projects -Garden work –
8:30 Kids to bath and bed

Again, the above is more of a routine than a schedule.  We used to do errands in the morning, now I find it works better if we wait until the “school day” is over. My goal is to get enough accomplished each day that we can spend at least one day a week doing a field trip or special learning activity. I have  gotten some great ideas on household management from Kim Brennemans book Large Family Logistics.  While I guess we arent technically a large family, I was able to glean some wonderful hints from this book that have streamlined our household. I highly recommend it for families of any size.  I would guess that as our family continues to change, so will our schedule, but for now this is what seems to be working.  What works well for your family?

Educating and Inspiring Super Heroes


Today we finished our second full week of “official” homeschooling. While we homeschooled for a few months last year, that time was more about establishing routine and family renovation,  if you will.

As more and more of our life’s focus moves toward creating an atmosphere of Lifelong learning in our home, I thought now was an appropriate time to transition my blog to this new platform and rename it. Please be patient with me as I get familiar with WordPress. I am looking forward to sharing with you the joys and challenges of This Homeschool Life.

2012-2013 Curriculum – Grade 4

Having given it much consideration we settled on curriculum for Sunshine for grade 4 that includes traditional textbook learning with a Charlotte Mason flavor, along with a few unit studies.  When we started this journey I completely intended to use only traditional, text-book based curriculum.  As it turns our we have landed square in the middle of Eclectic homeschooling. Sunshine is (or will be) using –

Teaching Textbooks – Math 4

Teaching textbooks is wonderful.  Sunshine has always like math and she is really enjoying using TT.

I decided to use the Abeka curriculum for History and Science .  Im not so sure how this is going to work out.  The science text is very..simple. We did a nature walk and sketch 3 days this week in addition to the Abeka planned lessons.  Sunshine really likes science and I think we continue adding experiments, books and field trips to keep her engaged.  Originally I planned to use Apologia- Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  Honestly I was overwhelmed by the text and not having a lesson plan.  I have been using pages out of the notebook as they fit in with our daily Abeka lessons.

Product Details

As for History, its a similar story. I decided to start with the Ohio History unit so we could get some local outdoor field trips in before it gets cold.  I bought the supplement plan book for state history by Joy Dean to go along with the Abeka My State Notebook.  While the lessons are planned out nicely, I am disappointed that the lessons themselves are Very basic.  We will also be adding additional books to this curriculum as well.  So far I have purchased the Hands on History and History Pockets for Explorers, Colonial life and Revolution to use.

Language Arts :  We have been doing alot of “real world” work language arts.  We have been studying letter writing. (I actually pulled a few lessons from the Abeka Language A book) So we  have been writing letters to cousins, thank you letters, and buyers letters for the 4H Jr. Fair sale.    Our main curriculum will come from-

Beyond Bridges – Christian Light

Language Art 4 – Christian Light

Pictures in Cursive A and B – Queen Homeschool

I have been impressed with the Literature Units from Progeny Press and we will be selecting several of these to use as well.  Right now I am leaning toward, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Mr. Poppers Penguins, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, or Charlottes Web.

Of course there are lots of other materials and programs to choose from. I am still looking for a good family devotional that I can use for all 3 kiddos and expand on with Sunshine.  Currently we are reading from a Children Bible story book at breakfast and then discussing.  Any suggestions would be great!

We will probably end up throwing in a few unit studies here and there.  I purchased a Unit Study on the Elections from Amanda Bennett.  We wont use the full 4 weeks but I think it makes a great current events addition to our studies.  I am looking forward to lots of hands on learning outdoors and doing as many field trips as we can.

Canned not Spam

I have wanted to try canning meat for some time now. This week my Aunt called to let us know that they had a cow going in to be butchered and wanted to know if we needed any beef. It was actually perfect timing since we just ran out of ground beef last week. (We buy all of our meat from local sources, mostly family members and neighbors) So, I took this opportunity to have 30 pounds of meat cut for canning. The butcher cut the meat in 1-2 inch pieces and put it in 2 large bags.

I used a recipe from the Ball Blue Book of preserving to can the beef. Here are the directions.

Cut meat into 1 ½ – 2 inch cubes, removing fat and gristle. Simmer meat in water to cover until hot throughout. Add ½ teaspoon of salt for pints and 1 teaspoon for quarts, if desired. (I did some with and some without) Pack hot meat into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Ladle hot cooking liquid over meat, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

It was actually really easy.  The more I use my pressure canner, the more comfortable I get with it.  I have one Mirror pressure canner with the jiggle weight and one Presto canner with the dial gauge, so I can have 14 quarts going at once.  Because I like to multi-task I prefer the Mirror canner. For this batch, 30 pounds of meat yielded 19 quarts, although I’m sure you could pack a little more meat in each jar.

I am really looking forward to having the convenience of opening a precooked jar of meat for shredded beef sandwiches, BBQ beef or a quick soup.  My mother-in-law used to can venison in this manner.  If the Handyman gets a deer or two this year, I might try that too.

****Update:  I couldn’t help myself, I opened a jar.
 1 jar canned beef (drained)  add 2 large squirts Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
Stir in skillet over med heat until warmed through.
 = Delicious BBQ Beef****
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Farm animal or Fair animal?

This year Sunshine showed her Boer goat, Junior, at the Ohio State Fair Boer Goat Show. This was her 1st show and she did such a great job.

We almost didn’t go because we knew her goat wasn’t going to win any awards, since he had been sick a few weeks before the fair.  We decided to go anyway just for the experience.  She spent so much time with her goats this summer; she had been looking forward to the show all summer.  She had quite a showing of support with our family, my mom, hubby’s dad, both of my sisters, and several other friends.  She was so gracious and thanked them all for coming.

In her first class, she finished dead last. Poor Junior just hadn’t had time to get back in shape.  Sunshine kept her smile on and when she came out of the ring just shrugged her shoulders even though I could tell she was disappointed.  I gave her a big hug and told her how proud of her I was for getting out there and overcoming her fears. I hate to admit I was a little disappointed; I didn’t want her first show experience to be a bad one.

  When the time for the showmanship class rolled around it was a completely different ball game.  In the wether class, they judge the goat.  In showmanship they judge…the showman. She went in the ring smooth and confident…and she WON!  I was so proud, as she came out the ring; she took the time to congratulate the girl next to her on a good show.  Then when she got back to her pen she thanked her dad and Chuck, her “coach” for his help. We were both beaming!  Sunshine because she won, me because I was so darn proud of her for pushing through her nerves and showing such maturityboth  inside and outside of the ring.

      Now that our first goat show has come and past, a few thoughts have occurred to me.  First I love our goats so much more in the pasture than in a show ring. 
     Secondly, there seem to be a lot of people with questionable (at best) techiques for improving the “performance” of their show animals.  Imagine my suprise when my child asks, “Mom, why are they spraying Windex on that goats butt?”  I honestly had no idea until I asked my hubby and he explained some people spray a menthol like spray on the animals to make them tense their muscles, and hopefully impress the judge.  Needless to say, I was  shocked and quite frankly disgusted. I think now would be a good time to sit down and talk as a family about animal welfare and what we consider to be appropriate, and what is not.   I wonder do these people consciously start using these “tricks”  or do they just gradually start turning a blind eye, reasoning that they have alot of money tied up in these animals and this justifies using any and all tricks to give them an advantage in the ring? If they had a written management plan that established their goals for their herd, would they think twice about putting their “tricks” in writing?
     When I suggested we get goats, I had no intention of raising “show” goats, and Im still not sure how I feel about the idea.  I do however recognize the opportunity it offers for the kids for personal development. 

    I wonder what others have done in this situation?  Where is the line between farm animals and fair animals?  I guess I aways thought they were the same, a fair animal was a farm animal you loaded up and took to the fair.  As I have found out, if you want your kids to “win” at the fair your fair animals are going to need to live and eat much differently than your farm animals. Is it worth it?  What are your thoughts?

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