Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autumn Abundance

Without reservation, I can declare that autumn is my absolutely favorite time of year. From the first crisp mornings to grabbing a jacket as I head out the door for the evening, the brisk air reinvigorates a world which grew stale under summer's blanket. I always look forward to the leaves bursting with brilliant colors and cannot imagine living in a region which does not participate in mother nature's autumnal show.

Throughout the afternoon, I snapped a few pictures of the North Carolina fall leaves

By my parents' house,

Near the post office,

And on the way home from the soccer field.

In my backyard, I noticed a bright yellow leaf and

A plant with brilliant red stems.

Humorously, I also spied the cactus which I have repeatedly tried to eradicate from my yard. After experiencing many painful run-ins while extracting the cactus from of the backyard, it has now taken root in the leaf pile behind our fence. Will this plant never die???

I also surprisingly ran across the last of the chili peppers in the garden I abandoned many summer weeks ago.

I must admit to feeling a sense of melancholy as the reds and golds depart leaving only spindly brown branches in the air. But, as Robert Frost reminds us,

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm So Excited

Now I know that this little development will probably not excite most of you like it does me, but my new blog discovery absolutely made my night.

My absolutely favorite homeschool author, Susan Wise Bauer, has a new blog ( When first investigating homeschooling years ago, I admittedly wasn't crazy about The Well-Trained Mind, Bauer's guide to classical homeschooling. After our first year of homeschooling, I revisited the guide and fell in love with it, though.

Even if you never have any plans of homeschooling, read the book. It offers an amazingly thorough educational plan. So much so that I have responded to family inquiries of "what are you going to do about so-and-so?, what are the kids going to learn this year" by just loaning them my heavily notated and highlighted copy of The Well-Trained Mind which quickly quelled all their well-meaning questions and comments.

Anyway, check it out. I bet you'll like it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day at the Renaissance Festival

Curly Girl, Car Guy, and I attended our first Renaissance Festival today. Since we are focusing on Middle Ages history and literature this year, the festival offered a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in the time period. Throughout the day, . . .

the kids slayed a dragon,

chatted with Sir Autumn,

visited with the greyhounds, the dog of royalty,

watched a glassblowing demonstration,

witnessed Sir Maxmilian "perish" in the joust, (Car Guy's favorite part of the day),

met a fairy,

hoped that a dragon didn't eat Curly Girl,

marveled at the falconry demonstration (twice),

tried some archery,

checked out reproductions of swords from The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter,

selected a broom for a quidditch match,

and thoroughly enjoyed the sword fighting, even though I am not looking forward to Car Guy trying his hand at the stage fighting tricks.

All the while wondering, how do seemingly sane grown adults get into this hobby? Curly Girl and I decided that we would be rather frightened if after meeting someone, we realized they owned their own mace and very large swords.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Too Funny Not to Pass Along

Many of you have children approaching or in the tween years. If you aren't there yet, just hold on to your hat because just when you think that you have a handle on parenting, the tween years will make you question everything you think you know and more. Some days (like when she makes a presentation to a room full of adults) I marvel at the young lady that 12-year-old Curly Girl is becoming, and other times (the huffy-puffy, drama queen days) I realize why boarding schools were invented.

Recently, I have been amused, terrified, curious, and traumatized by Curly Girl's interest in clothes, makeup, design, etc. About a year ago, she suddenly morphed in a young woman who wants to shop (which I detest) and wear makeup (which I am attempting to slowly dole out, while teaching her that less is more). Even worse, I apparently know nothing, absolutely nothing about dressing fashionably, despite the five years I spent as a clothing buyer for a department store.

Just when I need a little parenting pick-me-up and reminder that natural consequences are a great teacher, along comes a blog which is too funny not to read:

Thanks to Topsy-Techie for posting this on her blog. It's always good to laugh first thing in the morning. A reminder to please check out the Blog List along the right side for some amusing, thought-provoking, and enlightening entries from some of my favorite bloggers.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Picking Apples

Curly Girl, Car Guy, and I visited Millstone Creek Orchards ( this morning. While there,

we sampled Granny Smith, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples

and watched apples go through the apple-cleaning machine.

We were amused by the apple-polishing apparatus and learned that large producers of grocery-store apples apply wax to the fruit instead of actually polishing it.

We even watched apples go up the conveyor belt and into the room where they are squeezed to make apple cider.

Even though the weather was a bit drizzly, we enjoyed our hay ride through the orchards

where we picked some apples.

It was so heartening to learn about a local farm family and taste their delicious wares.

We definitely plan to return to Millstone Creek Orchards when they harvest peaches, grapes, and blueberries in the summer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

History Helpers

Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World series has quickly become one of my favorite history resources. Aside from the fact that seven-year-old Car Guy begs to do history first every day, I love how Story of the World makes history interesting, accessible, and enjoyable for elementary students.

In addition to the history reader, the accompanying Activity Books feature additional reading lists, map activities, and hands-on projects which students can complete to extend their understanding of historical figures, events, and trends.

Even though I am far from crafty, my children adores hands-on activities. While learning about medieval history this year, Curly Girl and Car Guy have

created an edible oasis when learning about Bedouins and Middle Eastern cultures,

constructed a catapult,

and baked a Roman pillar.

We're looking forward to a great year learning about medieval history!