Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Been Busy

Life has been busy the last week.  I finally have the yard mulched.  (Except the playground.  Little Man requested the mulch be left in a pile for him to play on.  I obliged his request for the time being.)

We have had baseball practice, office work, taking care of a friend's cats (while she is on vacation), home school class, household stuff, turtle pond project, and a lot of rain!

My week in pics:

Fruit trees mulched

Playground mulch pile for Little Man.

Wanting to play ball!

One of the cats we are watching.

Feeding the koi we are watching.  Love the pond!

Making kites at the homeschool class.

Flying the kites!

What is up with spring?


The yard couldn't take much more.

Turtle pond

Turtle pond with cover.
Now, it is back to work!  Hopefully, things will slow down soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yard Chores Part II

Thank goodness the weather is staying cooler this week.  I ordered mulch yesterday and I am trying to get it spread.  I didn't mulch the flowerbeds and around the trees last year, so I have double the work to do this time.

Little Man couldn't wait for the mulch to arrive.  He must have asked two or three dozen times, when will it be here.  When the schedule time arrived and the mulch truck didn't, he ran to get the phone.  He just knew they were lost and needed directions.  Finally, after thirty minutes and no truck, I called.  Five minutes later, the truck showed.

Fifteen cubic yards of double ground mulch was dumped and an excited little boy began climbing to the top.  He played on the mulch pile for two hours and would have kept on playing, if it hadn't been for baseball practice.

Getting ready to toboggan down the mulch hill.

I began hauling large wheelbarrow loads of mulch to the pecan trees in the front yard and the wildflower bed.  Finally, after fifteen loads the front yard was finished for the time being.

I applied regular strength RoundUp around the tree the day before.  You can see the ring of dying grass.

Thick layer of mulch to choke out the weeds.

I expanded the wildflower bed.  You can see in the picture above this that the bed was very small.  Now, I have a larger area and plan on planting sunflowers in front of the poles.

This morning I awoke and began working in the backyard.  I wanted to get as much done before noon.  I made decent progress and still have about half the mulch left.  I am hoping it will be enough to finish the hedge area around the fenced garden. 

Three of my fruit trees (2 pears and an apple)

Three more apple trees.

Mulched peach tree

My mini orchard is now mulched.

Maple tree trunk

I decided to mulch around the hammock.  I hate moving it to mow around.
Until tomorrow.....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Yard Chores

The weather has been lovely this weekend.  Temps in the low to mid sixties makes pleasant outdoor working conditions.  It seems we went from cold to hot in days this spring, so the actual spring time weather we are having now makes outdoor chores more tolerable.

I mowed the lawn on the highest setting.  Trying to create a more thick lawn.  It might not look as nice as a closer trim, but I am hoping that it will eventually thicken.  I like walking barefoot through a thick lawn.

After I mowed the entire lawn, I went back over the orchard area and scalped the grass area.  I used the lowest setting on the mower.  I read somewhere that scalping the grassy areas under and around young fruit trees will help them grow better.  We shall see.  I am planning on adding a larger ring of mulch around the trees in the next week.

I then scalped an area that I am planning to start another garden plot.  This was just basically to mark the area.  Now, I am trying to decide whether to put raised beds in the area or till the area.

Round Up time!  I decided to try the new Extended Season Round Up.  I usually use vinegar and salt, but it is a weekly battle to keep weeds at bay.  I really would like to spend less time battling weeds and more time enjoy spring and summer.  I sprayed every crack in the drive, sidewalk, and patio.  I then sprayed all the weeds that have taken over the mulched playground area, under the trampoline and building, around the fence and heat pump, along the curb and stepping stones. 

Next, I declared a second year of war on dandelions.  Last year, I bought a dandelion puller and spent hours upon hours pulling the dandelions from the front and back yard area.  You would never know it by looking at the yard.  I think they multiplied out of spite!

So, I bought a spray to target dandelions and chickweed (another problem).  I spent the better part of two hours spraying the dandelions in the front and back yards.  Now, I have to wait thirty days to see if it works.  I am crossing my fingers and hoping.

Finally, I sprayed the apple and pear trees with the fire blight preventative. I really hope this stuff is working!  My trees are looking very healthy.  One of the pear trees has an abundance of small pears forming.  The apple trees are in bloom.  It is too soon to tell if I will get apples this year.

Now, the weekend is over and I still have much more to do!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Fuss Over Common Core (Part III)

I am dismayed at the lack of understanding so many have on Common Core.  As a home schooling mother, I try to stay informed on the educational forefront, as much as possible.  I take my children's education seriously and the right I have to educate my children seriously.  I believe that we must look out for our public and private school counterparts, as well.  Too many parents just drop their child off at school and pick them up seven hours later without a clue to what is really happening to their child all day.  But, I really don't understand how home schooling parents can stick their heads in the sand when educational reform comes around.

I have mentioned Common Core Standards to several homeschooling friends over the last few weeks and the basic reply was, "What's that?"  I proceed to tell them about the CC and they tell me, "Well, we don't have to worry about that.  We can teach what we want and it won't matter.  I won't give them any information for a database."  I tell them yes, you won't have a choice.  It might not affect us in the beginning, but just give it a few years.  We have to do something now because in a few years from now it will be too late!

I don't want to be told what my child must learn and when she has to learn it.  I don't want her taking umpteen hundred tests to see if she is learning.  I don't want her private information in a database, where educational companies feel entitled to sell me or a school educational materials.  Of course, others will have access to the information, as well. (Even though, we will be told no one has access.) It isn't any of their business to know what my child's blood type is, or if she has any dental appliances, or learning disabilities, etc.  However, so many parents are simply not aware of the database components or don't care.

I remember reading George Orwell's 1984 in eleventh grade literature class.  It seemed so foreign to me at the time.  I couldn't imagine a society that would allow such control.  Now, I feel like I am beginning to live in that book.  If we allow a database to track our children from preschool through the workforce, we are giving up our children's privacy rights.  Government is already taking away so many rights and privileges from the American people, what will be left?  What would our founding fathers think?  They tried their best to protect us in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Last night, we watched the ending thirty minutes of Memphis Belle with the children.  The final bombing run was underway.  The crew couldn't get a fix on the factory and had to go around again.  The children asked, "Why didn't they just drop the bombs and go."  I explained to them that those men knew their mission.  They knew what was right.  They knew that they had to sacrifice because of the greater cause.  Our children are our greater cause.  We, as homeschoolers and parents, must sacrifice for our children's future, our country's future.  If we give in and roll over to the federal government wanting to micromanage our children (our future), we will not live in the America we were born.

The Civil war was fought first and foremost for states' rights.  The southern states were tired of being told what to do by the northern states and federal government.  The states are their own identity that work together to make up the United States.  The constitution limits the federal government's role and control of the states.  The constitution does not give the control of education to the federal government.  However, when the Department of Education was formed, the states began to lose control of state education.  When other Dept. of Ed provisions were passed, the feds gained more control.  Money is used by the Dept. of Ed to exert this control.  We have been led to believe that more money will 'fix' our education wows.  Unfortunately, throwing money at something never fixes it.  

Education reform is needed.  We need to run the administrative components of education like a business.  Leave the teaching up to the teachers.  Untie their hands and allow them to tailor to the needs of their student.  Quit building schools that look like malls.  Quit packing schools with thousands of students.  Look back at developmental stages of children and quit grouping kids in classes by ages.  If a six year-old can't read, but can perform math at a third grade level, allow him move between levels.  That is what we do as homeschoolers.  Let students hack their education when in high school.  If we quit tying our students' to the traditional education and allow them to take control of their own education, we may just be surprised at the outcome. 

Common Core is not going to fix our educational system.  It is going to frustrate educators, students, and parents.  Luckily, some states are seeing CC for what it is and trying to pass legislation to stop implementation.  Hopefully, after they pass the legislation, they will sit down and look at real education reform.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Mr. Jack instructed the children on how to read maps during homeschool class today.  The children are so accustomed to science topics with Mr. Jack, they were taken back by the maps.

Mr. Jack explained how to find north and the difference between true north and magnetic north.  He asked the children how people use to figure out which way was north when they didn't have compass.  He then asked the children why knowing how to use a map is an important skill.

The children were excited to find places on the maps.  Mr. Jack gave each one a paper scale to use during the class.  He called out cities for them to find and measure the distance from one to another.  He explained that what they were calculating was not actual driving distance.  They discussed why it wasn't and why some of the groups disagreed slightly over the actual distance.

He had them find a city and then tell them to find a city that was due west or southwest.  He also taught them how to use a street legend and find streets on a city map.  The children looked up the street and found its coordinates.  They then located various places Mr. Jack called out.

Mr. Jack discussed how the streets of Chesnee were named.  The children called out various state names of streets and told him what direction the street ran.  They found out that state named streets ran north to south.  The streets that ran east to west were named after prominent statesmen and revolutionary war leaders.

Finally, Mr. Jack had all the children sit down and he showed them Google Earth and a few other map programs on the computer.  He also showed them maps that were made over a hundred and fifty years ago.  He explained how it is important to have the right map for looking up historical events.  Streets change and paths that may have been labeled over a hundred years ago, may not be on a current map.  Egee volunteered to read map directions to an unmarked grave site of the relatives of Wade Hampton.  Mr. Jack showed the children how historical archaeologist are using the old maps and new maps to get a rough idea of the location.

Overall, the children had a good time and learned valuable map skills.  Mr. Jack said they would learn more about maps and directions next month. 

Two of My Favorite Things

My two favorite past times are gardening and taking pictures.  When spring arrives, I love getting my hands dirty and snapping pictures of nature's beauty.  Hubby just upgraded my phone to the new Blackberry Z10 with an 8mp camera.  I have regular cameras, but I don't always have them with me.  My phone is always with me!  Yes, I am a techno slave.  Almost, all the the pictures on the blog have been taken with my old Blackberry Bold.  (My last garden post and library class post pictures are done with the Z10.  The header picture on the blog was taken with the Z10, also.)

Now that I have a better camera phone, I am playing around with it.  It really does take a nice picture.

Here are some close up shots from around the gardens.  We had a few evening showers and the camera picked up on the rain drops.  All pictures were taken at dusk with no flash.

Focusing on the center drop of water.

Love all the water drops clinging to the anthers of the azalea blooms.

Yellow jasmine in a sea of white azaleas.

Bees are feeding after the rain.

Tickweed blossom

Focus is on the back two flowers of this orange aster.