My Garden This Morning

I was out in my garden early this morning soaking in the crisp spring air and enjoying the peace and birdsong. It was still rather shady as the sun wasn’t high in the sky yet. Later on in the day everything will be totally saturated with sunshine. Here are some pictures I took to share!

The first thing I see when walking outside is my rose garden and nectarine tree. The miniature roses in the picture below are some of my favorites. I like their creamy mix of apricot and pink. We have a LOT of rose bushes. Some of them are in my rose garden and many of the rest line most of the entire backyard fence. They are easy to grow here and we don’t need to do much other than water them occasionally and trim them once or twice a year. I shouldn’t say “we”, lol. My husband does most of the work when it comes to the roses. ;-)roses

Yes, that is grass I need to weed, lol.

Some more roses:

red roses

I get to see that view as I sit at my computer. It’s a lovely thing to look at when I’m busy working all day! There is a birdbath that is frequently visited nearby. The hummingbird & oriole feeders are visited all day long, too!

After the rose bed, is a right turn to the orchard gate. Most of our fruit trees are in this section of the yard. The pomegranate is already blooming:

pomegranate flower

…and the pear tree is making pears for the FIRST time! I’m so excited! We’ve been waiting 5 or 6 years for the silly thing to produce anything other than snowball flowers in spring. We don’t know what kind of pear tree it is, so I’m looking forward to finding out. I think it might be a Bartlett.

young pear fruit

Here’s an apricot that hasn’t turned orange yet:

green apricot

Past our backyard orchard, we have a fenced off garden area. It’s fenced off to keep the mutt out. The first year we had him, he thought it was his personal snack bar. Yes, my dog likes veggies.

raised bed garden

Someday we are going to put pea gravel or crushed granite over the garden paths. Right now they are still a bit messy looking with just plain packed down dirt (and winter weeds). My husband recycled some plastic fencing so I can have a framework to grow things like squash and melons or beans or whatever.  My husband also recently put in the drip irrigation, which doesn’t look pretty but will save us a lot of water. The crazy looking white pipes sticking up in the corners of the beds aren’t related to the irrigation. They are just pieces of junk pipe I stuck in dirt to keep the hose from slipping into the area where the plants are when I drag it around. The bucket is to catch drips from where the hose plugs into the irrigation system. I lug the bucket of water around to water other things after it fills up.

The plants in the tubs in the foreground are our new Southern Highbush blueberry plants. They are a Misty, O’Neal, and a Jubilee. We are growing them in containers so we can more easily make the soil acidic. They will grow to be about 4-5 ft. high.

There is another garden bed that you can’t see in the picture. We have 7 altogether, plus another container where I’m currently growing a pepper plant, cilantro and chives. There are also 5 grapevines in the garden area, an orange tree, a candy-cot tree and a Honeycrisp apple.

Cilantro:

cilantro

If you leave the cilantro alone, it will turn into coriander later. :-) I learned that last year when some of it grew tall and flowered and then made coriander seeds, lol. Here’s a picture I took last year of the cilantro turned coriander:

coriander

Here are some peas. They are bush peas so they don’t climb. The leaves look a little chewed up and spotty. I’m not sure why. The peas themselves are delicious and crispy. I didn’t plant enough of them this year as I totally overestimated their space requirement. I’ll try planting some again this fall, when the weather cools off.

bush peas

We also have bush beans:

bush beans

I learned last year to plant the bush beans much earlier in the year as they did NOT like the heat of midsummer. They were also attacked by tons of bugs last year and were in a totally sorry state. I ripped most of them out but left a few in one bed that stayed until late fall when they perked up and started making tons of beans. Oops. Next time I won’t be so quick to give up!

Our tomatoes are already making some flowers. They are still young and haven’t turned into the tomato monster plants they usually do when I don’t pinch the suckers (which I often don’t, lol).

tomato plant

Our artichoke plant is about 9 years old now and ready to be ripped out. It’s past its prime and no longer producing much, even after dividing it, etc. I harvested an artichoke off it already and here is this one:

artichoke

It’s not as nice as the artichokes were when the plant was younger. The leaves are all old and crummy looking now too. We’ve planted a replacement though which is already growing new leaves. Hopefully next spring we’ll get some good artichokes from it!

I still have room to plant more things this year. I’m not sure yet what I want to do though! I’ll have to take a look at my seed packets and see what I have or maybe we’ll pop into one of the local garden centers this weekend and see what baby plants are available. I want to fill it up as it feeds our family throughout the summer and into the fall!

Living in Japan

My daughter Hannah gave me permission to share some of the photos and details about her life in Japan. I find this kind of stuff fascinating, so I thought it would be appropriate to post here, lol. You can see first-hand what a previously homeschooled student is doing with her life as an adult! When she was younger and I was teaching her, I used to wonder what she would do/be when she grew up. Now I’m watching her life unfold into something so amazing!

A view from her window:

view from the window

She lives in a shared housing situation. It’s very interesting as it’s like a dormitory for working women. No men are allowed inside, not even family. There are staff that keep the common areas clean. Here’s a floor plan that shows how it’s laid out:

dormHannah has one of the little dorm rooms. They look like this inside:

dormroom2

There is a loft where you can put a futon to sleep. She actually put hers on the bottom level.

At the entrance of Japanese houses, you take your shoes off and exchange them for socks or slippers, and then you can step onto the higher level floor. You can sort of see that in the picture below with the shoes in an area that is a little lower than the main floor:

shoes

Here’s a picture of a temple she walked to recently:

temple

Notice the cherry blossoms:

cherry blossoms

I’ll be posting pictures of Hannah’s life in Japan from time to time. My next post about her will show her groceries and what she is eating over there!

Some of you are homeschooling little ones. Cherish that time, because it won’t be long and they will spread their wings and fly. :-) Hannah flew all the way to Japan, lol!

The Science of Seasons is published!

Science booksI’m so excited to announce that The Science of Seasons set of books is finally published and available for purchase! They are available on our NEW online store and also from Amazon.com! I’ve also created a FREE science curriculum to go with them!

If you are a member of Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited you can check out The Science of Seasons for free via the Kindle lending library! The Science of Seasons Activities book is also on sale for a limited time in honor of our book launch! You can get the PDF of the activity book for only $7.50. That’s HALF off the normal PDF price and even more than half off the softcover price. Visit our online store for detailed descriptions of the books as well as a free handwriting paper pack, and a set of  printable paper dolls with a set of outfits.

Take a peek at some of The Science of Season’s pages (thumbnails do not enlarge):

 sample1  sample2
 sample3  sample4

Here are some pages from The Science of Seasons Activities book:

 

 sample5  sample6
 sample8  sample7
 sample9  samplefall

There are over 100 pages of activities and lessons in the activity book that expand on topics presented in The Science of Seasons.

Some of the activities and lessons include:

  • Greek and Latin Root Cards, Vocabulary CardsArt projects
  • Copywork assignments
  • Cutout playsets and figures
  • Dot-to-dot
  • Geography
  • Greek & Latin roots
  • Lapbook style cutouts
  • Language & culture study
  • Make your own comic book templates and cutouts
  • Mazes
  • Sciencestuff
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary activities and cutout cards
  • ..and much more!

Click here for a list of topics and learning points.

I’ve really worked hard to create books that will teach, but that are also lots of fun. Many of the kids who’ve tested these books are especially fans of Beowulf, a lively and cute fox terrier whose face can be found on quite a few pages!

The Science of Seasons books have been a labor of love and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make them possible! A huge thank-you goes to my husband for making this all possible, my mom & dad for all their encouragement, and my friend Beth for her hawk-eyed proofreading! I’m also so thankful for all my testers – the moms and kids who read and worked through the books before they were available to the public and gave their wise suggestions with a huge dose of enthusiasm!

Now here comes the hard part: spreading the word!

I need your help to make this series successful so that I can write and illustrate more books. Please tell your friends and share our happy news of the books on your blogs and social media. If you read either of the books, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com, Goodreads, and/or my store.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for more books in the series!

A Sneak Peek!

I’m getting close to finishing The Science of Seasons Learn-and-Play Activities book!

Here’s the rough draft front cover:The Science of Seasons Learn and Play Activities book

 

Here is the rough draft back cover:

cover2

It’s 142 pages long, so I’m going to change the “Over 100 pages!” quote to something bigger like “Over 140 pages!”, lol.

It’s chock full of fun activities and will be sold in both a softcover and PDF format. In fact, I just finished testing my new online store that will be up-and-running sometime next month! I’m so excited to share all of my hard work with you! I’ll post more sneak peeks very soon!

In other news, I started an illustration blog that will be dedicated to illustration, art and self publishing topics. Those topics are a little different flavor than this blog, so I decided those types of posts needed their own home. You can take a look here! If you want to follow my work as an illustrator and read about me babbling about Photoshop or Prismacolors or some such, feel free to subscribe to those posts at the link above. :-)

Book update!

My book, The Science of Seasons, is almost ready to be published! I recently received the proof copy. After making a few changes I’ll send for a 2nd proof. If everything looks good, it will be ready to sell on Amazon sometime next month!

I’m also almost finished with the accompanying activity book. It’s over 90 pages long and chock full of goodies. Stay tuned to my blog to see some sneak peeks in the next few weeks!

For now, here’s a low-res copy of The Science of Seasons front cover! I’m so excited to share it with you all!

The Science of Seasons book

 

Amazing deal on The Elements book by Theodore Gray

The Elements (book)

Amazon is having a Daily Deal on the Kindle version of this book for 1.99!! We have the hardcover and it’s a book Otter has taken off the shelf repeatedly for years now. He still thumbs through it at times and really loves it.

The Elements is such an amazing book. Each element has a variety of beautiful and clear photographs to illustrate it along with interesting information. It’s so neat to see the different elements being used in a multitude of different products as well as in their pure forms.

Every homeschooler should have this book and at 1.99, it’s a steal! Make sure you click on the KINDLE version. The other versions of the book are not on sale. You can look at the Kindle version even if you don’t have a Kindle reader through one of the free apps for PC’s, tablets, smartphones, etc.

Happy homeschooling!

My up-and-coming book is closer to being finished!

I have five illustrations left to create for the children’s book I’m working on (not counting the cover art). I’m really excited to get everything finished up so I can send out copies to my beta testers & proofreaders!

Here is a screenshot from one of the pages (just a portion of a page spread with a watermark added).

abigail

 

My first book in this series is about seasons and not only covers the science behind the seasons but also contains information about different cultures, holidays, geography, some simple recipes and even a tidbit of math. The characters are homeschooled siblings (older sister, younger brother, adopted toddler) with their fox terrier (Beowulf). Homeschooling is not a huge component of the book, so it should appeal to all kids whether they are homeschooled or not. :-)

I’ll be creating optional unit study materials and a printable playset (and possibly a teacher’s manual) that can be purchased from my website but the book can stand alone and will be available via Amazon as a paperback and also as an ebook.

The book itself is heavily illustrated with a mix of comics, text and even some theater style dialogue that should draw in reluctant readers and help boost retention and clarity. Science concepts are clearly illustrated and while there are Christian elements, they don’t dominate the book but are rather integrated where appropriate (kind of like how I taught my own children). God was always just a part of our life and studies as He is for the kids in the story.

I’m just so tired at not being able to find Christian books on science topics that aren’t a part of some curriculum textbook and that also contain solid scientific concepts without just decorating things up with willy nilly Bible verses for no reason. I always had a huge library of science books for my kids to browse but 98% of them were secular where evolution was heavily promoted (or there was some other type of inappropriate material). The Christian books we had were often boring or stuffy or ugly (I’m a sucker for lavishly illustrated books) or only about creation (or the flood or other similar things) and not your garden variety science topics that my kids NEEDED to learn. I hope my new series will address these issues and give Christian families an alternative they can safely hand over to their kids to learn real science (and other subjects).

Christian parents can be assured that there are no “millions of years” comments to have to skip over or cringe at . For those of you who don’t care, I remain neutral on that subject, but do give credit to God for how things work. I do so without “shoving it down your throat”, if that makes sense. ;-) The book has plenty of great science and other info that should still appeal to secular families.

Anyway, I’m in the home stretch and can’t wait to finish this book up and get started on the next one in the series!

If you want to be in the lottery to be a beta tester, please send an email to guesthollow(at sign)memorableplaces(dot)com with the subject “beta tester”. Please make sure you can meet the following requirements:

  • You will post an honest review of the book on your blog or website (if you don’t have a blog, but use social media, that is an acceptable alternative) and Amazon.com.
  • You are willing to let me know if you run across any typos or information that is not clear, etc.
  • If you read the book to any children, I’d love their feedback too. :-)

Stay tuned to my blog for updates and an announcement when the book is finished!

Happy New Year!

Most kids want to party for New Year’s, but Otter wants to go on a ride-along and bust the drunks, lol. What a way to bring in the New Years – sitting in a police car! ;-)
His favorite Christmas present this year: a campaign hat just like the CHP wear (and Boy Scouts too). He said if that was the ONLY thing he got this year, he’d be happy. Needless to say that’s the last thing he opened, lol. I’m such a mean mom!

We had a wonderful Christmas. Here’s a picture of Gracie in front of presents under the tree. She was visiting on Christmas day and was a cute and fun ball of fluff!

Happy New Years to everyone! Hope you have a safe and happy week and a blessed new year!

gracie

Have a safe and happy Christmas!

I drew this for my daughter who will be spending her first Christmas away from us!  Totoro below is in honor of her upcoming move to Japan! We will miss her!!

Merry Christmas to all my readers! I wish you a safe and happy holiday.

4hannah2

Still plugging away at school…

It’s been awhile since I posted a homeschool post. I’m just letting everyone know that yes, we’re still plugging away at school!

Sonlight’s Core 300 has been going great. It’s not Otter’s favorite thing to do because it takes a ton of work, but he has enjoyed many of the books and he also really does like the subject matter (20th century history). In science he’s been learning about anatomy but is getting ready to move into the first aid portion of the study I made for him. Here he is working with a kit I bought him to learn about enzymes and the process of digestion:

lab

While it was fun for him, the kit was not worth the 59.95 I paid for it. Basically Otter exposed carbohydrates, proteins and lipids to different digestive enzymes. Chemical tests were performed to see if the enzymes were effective in digesting the different nutrients. I think the guide was not instructive enough and didn’t teach what was going on in clear enough language. Otter spent about a couple of hours with it (that works out to 30 buck an hour for that kit!!!). Now I have to find someone to give it to (as there is still plenty of materials left to repeat the experiments), as we won’t be using the rest of the chemicals a 2nd time. In fact, in the next couple of years I’m going to probably get rid of most of the contents of our “school closet” – specifically lots of chemistry equipment and other science kit remnants, especially if I decide not to tutor students in the future. Otter is wrapping up his years of hands-on science! Next year we’ll be doing forensics with a dash of chemistry and then? I haven’t decided what he will do for 12th grade.

The biggest hit this year has been our recent subscription to WriteGuide.com.

writeguideOtter’s been assigned a writing consultant who corresponds with him daily (during the weekdays). The lessons are totally individualized and the teacher we are working with does a FANTASTIC job. Every day Otter looks forward to seeing his teacher’s feedback and has really been enjoying the lessons which are broken down into pieces that are not overwhelming at all but very instructive. It’s the perfect match. He also lucked out getting a teacher who was an Eagle Scout and whose brother is a police detective! LOL… That’s another plus. His teacher is a male – which seems to be more rare in the homeschool world and something I am glad for. Boys need men to teach them and while my husband does teach a ton of practical things, he doesn’t really have time to teach much in the homeschool realm. I think we’re providing a good balance for Otter (all of his police instructors are also male) so that he’s not just having to deal with “mom” all the time but has a variety of people in his life, all with the goal of helping him to become more accomplished and well-rounded!

The best thing…Otter actually told me he was having FUN writing. Now for someone who has almost always treated writing like getting teeth pulled without anesthetic, Write Guide is quite the deal and worth every penny. I love getting a break teaching writing and he loves working with his instructor. I highly recommend Write Guide if you are looking for an online program that is totally customizable and while it let’s someone else do all of the teaching, you as the parent are still in charge of what is covered and how it’s covered. Want to use a specific curriculum? You still can. Write Guide will do things your way or the consultants will come up with individualized assignments with zero input. It’s up to you! I like how Otter is writing every single day (without a single complaint and I’m not even kidding about that) and that the process has been enjoyable and informative.

As far as Spanish goes, we dumped out of Avencemos. It’s a great program but very hard for a non-Spanish speaking mom to implement. We went with The Learnables instead – something we’ve used in the past that is super easy to use and doesn’t require a ton of writing, etc. I also like it because it doesn’t gobble up a bunch of time but gets the job done. Sometimes a curriculum lures you in with all the extras (hello Avencemos), but it’s the one that is simple that actually gets done and does a better job (hello Learnables). Otter isn’t into learning Spanish so we may not continue with it next year.

Everything else is going along great. Otter’s been going on ride-alongs and still learning tons in the Explorer program. He saw a big, bang-up accident not too long ago while riding out with the CHP that happened because an older teen driver was likely texting and driving at the same time (or reaching for a phone). He said it makes him totally get why you should NOT mess with a phone while driving as he’s seen the results first-hand.

So, that’s our homeschool update! Busy, productive and looking forward to Christmas! ;-)

Happy homeschooling!