29 September, 2008

Beautiful Quail

Introducing: the newest visitor to our yard...

27 September, 2008

Fall Garden Report

The garden has shown new life since the temps have cooled off. The sweet potato vines, (four of which I planted in the late spring) are climbing all over the fence, and the mounds under them are pushing up at a noticeable rate beneath the vines daily! I wish I could have captured that unfolding drama. I was not expecting them to be so huge! Impatiently, I dug into one today and found at least two huge sweet potatoes pretty much ready to be dug. I think I'll give them a few more days, just to see if the mound grows any larger :-).

The Roma tomatoes are ripening to the tune of 15 or so per day, and the larger tomatoes have come back from the summer heatwave, but are not yet ripening. The cantaloupe and squash were all done producing, so we pulled those plants from the garden last weekend. The larger basil and the smaller globe basil are full and healthy, just needing some trimming, since the seed pods have gotten out of hand. The three varieties of hot peppers and one sweet bell pepper plant are also making a comeback. They like this fall weather!

The herbs that are still doing well are: lemon balm (to use for tea), oregano, small patch of thyme, one small bit of dill left, patches of healthy spearmint (as always) and the basil. I have some sage seeds that I want to plant. It's great to have sage on Thanksgiving, since we have a long growing season, I just haven't gotten my old seeds in the ground, yet. I'll do that tomorrow.

Photos forthcoming...


26 September, 2008

Drawing a chickadee

AJ spent some time waiting for one of the chickadees to come back to the feeder for seeds today so he could draw him or her. The problem? Chickadees don't linger as some of the other birds do. He won't show me the drawing just yet. He wants to work on it some more.

What ways do you and your children incorporate Nature Study and observation for science into your study week?


24 September, 2008

Spanish Word Wall and Charts

While communicating or telling stories in Spanish with my classes, it is helpful to have posters and charts that I can point to on the wall. When I taught summer school sessions at a private school, this was what my wall looked like. Winston Grammar was created at this school, so you see the English grammar charts on the bulletin board to the right. I mimicked these charts with my self-created charts in Spanish.

This is how I "translated" my word wall to my hs co-op classroom, where I had to carry everything, literally every resource, in and out for different-aged classes and different classrooms. I am also able to use this at home. These are the same mini-posters from the whiteboard above (where I posted them with magnets...but my whiteboard in co-op was not magnetized, so I had to get creative).

I've added this large presentation board to my home class, since I don't really have room for a large white board. I am able to fold this up and put it behind the couch after my Wednesday home classes are over. The mini-charts can be removed or moved around, since I have sticky-backed Velcro tabs on each mini-poster. These visuals are a big help. Another idea would be to include pictures when possible.

I hope that some of you will find this helpful!

Con cariño,

Señora Javamom

15 September, 2008

Spanish language fun

This is a "Mini-story" that I pre-wrote as a skeleton story, but it became more impromptu as we went along in my Spanish class a couple of weeks ago. I asked for a volunteer, whom I named "Guillermo." Leave me a comment if you have any questions, and feel free to use this as an example for your own Spanish homeschool class or other classroom setting.

This dialogue worked because we had just begun learning greetings and telling age, using the verb "tener" (to have or to be x years old), and any extra words used in context that had not yet been introduced were posted on my "word wall" for easy reference, without stopping during the story.

It went like this:

Profesora: "Hay un chico que se llama Guillermo." (I pointed to Guillermo and said)
"Éste es mi amigo, Guillermo. Clase, diga 'hola' a Guillermo ... "

Clase: "¡Hola!"
¿Cómo estás, Guillermo? ¿Bien? ¿no? Estás mal?

Guillermo: "Si, Estoy muy mal."
la clase dice...."Oh, no!"

Profe: "Soy tu profesora y estoy bastante bien. Clase, ¿quién está mal, Guillermo o la profesora?
Sí, Guillermo está mal. Pobre cito. Pobre Guillermo."
clase: "Ohhhhhh, pobre Guillermo."
Profe: "Guillermo, ¿cuántos años tienes?"
G: "Tengo veinticinco años."

P: "¿Es verdad, Guillermo??? Clase, ¿tiene Guillermo veinticinco años or tiene quince años?"

Clase: "¡Tiene quince años!"

P: "Clase, ¡es obvio! Yo creo que Guillermo tiene quince años.
¿Es correcto, Guillermo? Sí...yo creo que sí. Claro." (as I nod, "yes.")

G: "Sí, es correcto. Yo tengo quince años."

P: "Clase, Guillermo tiene un problema. Tiene un problema con tus animales."

P: "Guillermo, ¿hay animales en tu casa?"

G: "Do sisters count? "

P: "Guillermo, en español, por favor. No pregunto '¿hay hermanas?' pero '¿Hay animales en tu casa?' ¿Entiendes?"

G: "Sí, tengo animales en mi casa."

P: "¿Cuántos (and I point to the question words on my 'word wall') animales hay en tu casa?"

G: "¡Hay dos animales!"

P: "Clase, hay dos hermanas o dos animales en la casa de Guillermo?"

Clase: "¡Hay dos animales!"

P: "Correcto, clase. Hay dos animales.
Guillermo, ¿Qué tipo de animales hay en tu casa?"

G: ??

(Profe writes 'tipo' on the whiteboard and defines it as "type" or "kind")

Profe: (clarifying) "Hay elefantes en tu casa?"

G: "¡Sí!"

P: "Clase, tiene Guillermo gatos en su casa, o tiene elefantes en su casa?"

Clase: "Tiene elefantes en su casa."

P: "Es correcto, clase. Es un problema, ¿no? Guillermo tiene elefantes en su casa."

P: "Guillermo, ¿Cuántos elefantes hay?"

G: "Dos elefantes."

P: "Tú tienes dos elefantes. Dos gigantes elefantes y es un problema, ¿no?"

G and clase: "¡Sí!"

P: "Y ¿Cómo se llaman los dos elefantes?"

G: "Un elefante se llama Diego Alejandro Juan Pablo Gutierrez Juarez." (and I changed the name slightly to protect the innocent, LOL!)

P: "¡Qué bueno! Y ¿Cómo se llama el otro elefante?"

G: "El otro elefante se llama 'Paco.'"

P: "¿Solamente se llama 'Paco?' Hahahaha! Guillermo, ¡Tú eres muy divertido!
Gracias, Guillermo. Tengo que irme. Hasta luego. ¡Chao, clase!"

Clase: "¡Chao!"

And that is an example of TPR Storytelling. I didn't "circle" as much as some teachers who use this method do. Also, I decided to save going into the real problem of having two elephants as pets for another day. It's not the perfect story, but this is the first year I have really had class time to execute these silly but effective interactive stories. This one went off really well! You would have thought that I prepped this student with a script beforehand, but I did not! I literally penciled in the age of "25" and that is exactly the age the student chose to respond! Crazy!

Looking forward to more adventures like this one,


13 September, 2008

Brace Yourself, Jay

I'm glad we got less than expected from Ike...but the birds still had to brace themselves against strong winds, then headed for our bushes when they rains came and went and came again. This jay looks so funny all puffed up like this!

12 September, 2008

Catapulting Marco

I know that in traditional school settings, students are able to (sometimes) participate in "hands-on" lessons on a grand scale. With home schooling, we are able to do that whenever we want! Our youngest of four teens loves to experiment, as he is very much a kinesthetic learner and energetic, dramatic 13 yo boy. Marco (the adventurous monkey) is his "Hobbes."



Caught him...

Let's see, we covered some engineering, physics, and history with this catapulting experience.

I just can't reiterate it enough to people (both loved ones and friends) who don't understand that real learning happens at any time of day, not just within some rigid schedule or location during the day.

Share with me something fun that your children have played at and learned recently. I'd love to hear about it and see photos. These friends recently hatched their caterpillar friend, Spunky, into a butterfly, and learned some entomology in the process!


11 September, 2008

Remembering 9/11/01

Taking some time today to reflect and remember all that happened seven years ago today. It was a horrifying day and a sobering month. Each year, when I peel and chop pears from our tree, I am reminded of how it was this ordinary harvest which NEEDED to be done that kept me sane instead of depressed. It helped to keep me focused on being Mom, wife, and neighbor amidst something awful that I could not change but had to walk through with my family, friends, and fellow countrymen. The simple step of acting upon the yearly harvest (instead of letting all the pears rot) reminded me of life and death and of God's provision even at dark times, of protection in many ways, for things might have been so much worse, and of constancy.

I reflect on it again this year, remembering those who were taken home on that day, praying for their families who had to learn to live again, remaining humbled and grateful for so many blessings, as I pray for God's protection on and over our country...


AJ's Observations of the Birds

Our 13 yo son has been paying attention to the birds at our feeders in his own, creative way.
He wrote down his observations of the bird culture living in our yard just a couple of days ago.

~ Sparrows and dove are the "townspeople"

~ Red-bellied woodpeckers - they just think they are so stealth and stuff, so they come and go quickly. They don't stay long, but go back to their homes in the cottonwood trees.

~ Cardinals are the "rich" people, clothed in scarlet, and here because of our marketing :-)

~ grackles and crows - they are the "thugs" and "bad guys" who come and scare everyone else away.

~ cowbirds - luckily they don't come here often, but when they do, they're just like the grackles: THIEVES!

~ Blue jays - sweet, stealth assassins that never come in pairs. They come and go every day, when the feeders aren't very swamped with other birds. note: They are mostly seen in packs of three or four, if they are ever in a pack! Mom's note: they have raised families in our habitat, so they all come together at the same times, unless one parent is tending a new brood.

~ Squirrel - He's a thief, too, but he's a good thief (??) who steals for justice. (Mom asks: Is he the Robin Hood of our yard, then? Stealing from the rich and giving to all the poor, downtrodden squirrels in the neighborhood?)

p.s. We have had some rare visitors throughout the summer, one notable being a bright green parrot! I asked AJ what he thought these birds would be in the society, and he said, "The Travelers or Drifters."

We haven't seen the flocks of Starlings in several weeks, so he didn't include them in his story. Upon asking about them, he said that they are the "Summer Tourists."

Very creative boy, that!


07 September, 2008

Of personality tests

Our 17 yo daughter has been enjoying a personality book by David Keirsey titled _Please Understand Me II_

Hat tip: my friend, Katie took a similar test found online that matches the Keirsey personalities or temperaments. For fun, take your own personality test here.

I have changed over the years, but I'm still an idealist. Twenty-five years ago, I tested as an ENFP - People naturally confide in the Idealist/Champion (ENFP). They make good mediators, counselors, teachers, consultants, and reporters.

I then grew more INFP - I think after having children and being so much into attachment parenting. - The most sensitive of the Idealists is the Healer (INFP). While their list of jobs may echo that of other Idealists, they are more drawn to express their own unique vision of the world than all other types, so their work cannot help but be unique. They interpret their visions in the world of music, art, entertainment, or dance. As a professor or teacher, counselor or social worker, they often unlock the mysteries of life for those they encounter.

Now I am an INFJ and the "Idealist/Counselor" - The Counselor (INFJ) is a more private person than the Teacher. Counselors work in human services, marketing, or as a job analyst, or are drawn to the arts as a novelist, designer, or artist.

If I was feeling more extroverted, I would be an Idealist/Teacher. I can be very extroverted, but my preference these days is toward a more quiet life overall. - Of all the Idealists, the Teacher (ENFJ) is the most likely to seek leadership positions in the private or public sector.

The Idealists are the group most attuned to values and seeking the greater good. All Idealists seek to have a life of meaning, to help themselves and others grow to be the best that they can be. They do not want to be a copycat of someone else, but want to be seen as a unique and valuable individual.

My daughter was surprised and hadn't thought that one's personality might change. What do you all think? Based on your life experience, have you changed, mellowed, become more caring, etc., over the decades and seasons of your life? If so, how? Take the test and leave comments or links to your own observations.

who very much does not want to be a copy of someone else or do what thousands of other people do, say, and teach. I guess that could be for better or for worse, eh?

05 September, 2008

Sweet potato blossom

So lovely...I think this means that the sweet potatoes in our garden are almost ready.

Thankful for the harvest and God's provision ~


03 September, 2008

Chile Harvest 2008

The Dread Pirate Sparsebeard is home from his annual adventure to Hatch, New Mexico and the Gila Mountains. The strong scent of green chile roasting on the grill was sent wafting through the neighborhood. Even the squirrel came to check it out.

What's that fabulous smell?

01 September, 2008

She considereth a Door...

...and painteth it!

My Labor Day "DONE" list ~

~ Pull the old bedroom door off the boys' room, take off the old knob, which was easier than I

~ Paint new door, back and front (photo above)

~ Paint the bathroom door, both back and front, which is already on its hinges

Since this is paint from a project in the spring, I didn't have to buy new paint. There is still enough left over to paint the laundry room door and side entrance door (on the inside).

If I'd have had more time, I would have sledgehammered out our old bathroom sink and cabinet (part of it rotten with age) and replaced it, as well!

While Sparsebeard is away, the cat will play (haha!)...at home projects!