June 15, 2011

June Garden Update

I've been working hard in the garden this year. Most of my plants are doing well. I lost all of my corn. I think we've just had too much rain for growing corn in buckets. Whatever the problem was, the corn all fell flat. 

Ishmael is trying to save a baby tree.

The cherry tomatoes on the left aren't growing as well as the row of heirlooms on the right.


June 14, 2011


I'm very pleased with my cucumber plants this year.

Did you know cucumbers prefer to climb? They send out vines to grab onto anything they can find and pull themselves up.


June 11, 2011

Pond Investigation and Bug Detectives

A friend of mine was hosting free workshops out by the lake today. We went to check it out, and had a great time! The classes she offered were Pond Investigations and Bug Detectives.

Some of our specimens before we released back in the water. We have diving beetles, snails, mayfly nymphs, and more.


June 9, 2011

Fix Your Own Appliance

Our dryer was starting to make a strange noise. We did what any morons would do, and ignored it. It wasn't long before it made it's final sound. I didn't want to fork over any money to a repair man. I certainly didn't want to replace the machine...okay I wanted to, but it wasn't in our budget.

So I googled. I love Google. I found this video (actually it's the first in a series of how-to videos).

Leon and I took our dryer apart, checked the belt and rollers, and determined that we needed to replace the motor. I found a motor reasonably priced on Amazon. British James suggested replacing the blower fan as well, so I ordered that too. I'm glad I did. He was right, our blower fan was fused to the motor and we had to cut it away with the drill.

Dryer motor: $50
Blower fan: $11
Satisfaction that comes from doing something yourself: priceless.

It wasn't an "easy" fix, we made several rooky mistakes that we had to go back in to fix (like dropping a screw down the lint shaft...we'll leave the culprit nameless). Our dryer works as good as new.


June 8, 2011

Fowler's Toad

Calvin and I were talking about the frogs that annoyed us at camp. He wanted to know exactly what kind of frog it was. So together we listened to all of the frog/toad calls on our favorite website Frogs and Toads of North Carolina

We also found another picture he took the second night.

It was definitely a toad, not a frog. We both described the call as that of a "screaming woman".

So we decided the best fit is the Fowler's Toad. The call is almost a perfect match and the picture is similar.


Garden Visitors

I went out to visit my garden and found this guy hanging out in my carrots (he'll become a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly). Unfortunately for him, I am not willing to share this crop.

So I moved him to my cilantro. I have plenty of it, and don't mind sharing. He seemed to be okay with the compromise and made himself at home.

On further investigation of my cilantro, I found these guys working hard at something. I haven't decided if they are friend or foe. I did a Google search and only came up with mealybugs.

They look more spider-like to me...though I only counted 6 legs. It's really hard to see them clearly through all the fuzz. They aren't flat like all the pictures of mealybugs I've seen. I'm holding out for a better id on them before I eradicate them from the garden bed. We don't want another milkweed assassin conundrum.

If you or any of your friends can identify this bug for me, I'd sure appreciate it.


June 7, 2011

Someone is 9!

My youngest child is 9 today. He is still the delight of his family, full of curiosity and imagination.

He was a "late bloomer" in reading. I suspect he has some right-brain thinking going on. Imaginative people sometimes have difficulty with concrete learning objectives. We started using Right Brained Phonics with him. I'm very impressed with the results. I'd say he's right on track and reading at a 3rd grade level (for me this means he can easily read books on 3rd grade reading lists). He has been working hard and is currently reading the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. I used this series to sort of bribe him into reading harder books. He loves dragons and dinosaurs.

He is a fun loving kid. He likes to snuggle with his family. He's so thoughtful about showing his affection. He also still terrorizes his big brothers. It seems to be his job to keep them on their toes, as it often goes with younger siblings. He builds up their character and reminds them to keep their stuff put away. haha

He's one of those kids you can't keep in the house for very long. He starts to stare out of windows daydreaming. I have to give him his school work in small spurts or else the learning doesn't seem to stick quite as well. Rainy days equal a very restless little boy.

He's a great story teller like his big sister. I can often find him and her making up new stories together.

Being homeschooled, he is very "young" for his age. I'm glad for it. One of the reasons I homeschool is so that my kids don't have to grow up so fast. However, pairing that with the fact that he's also pretty big for his age, gives him the effect of a bull in a china shop.

He has a great sense of humor and is usually easy going. He bounces back very quickly from hurt feelings or being corrected for wrong behavior. He's always a good sport when I suggest we try something new. I can count on him to get excited about a new project.

I just love this kid.


Camping Trip

The first camping trip a few weeks ago, was our test run. We are working our way up to a really big camping trip next year.

We're getting quite efficient at packing for a family of 6.

Our campsite opened up right to the water, so we thought we'd try our hands at night fishing.

However the bullfrogs were extremely loud...and creepy. They were everywhere, and they croaked constantly. Until, about 10:00 when they all stopped at the exact same time. Freaky.

I taught the boys how to play Kings in the Corner, a game my grandma taught me as a kid.

Jeremiah went strong until out of the blue he'd just crash. He did this both nights.

Leon caught himself a nice size catfish. He'd been frustrated because the fish were biting, just not on his line.

My favorite part about camping is camp-breakfast. There is nothing like the smell of bacon, eggs, and pancakes cooking outside in the early morning. I always volunteer to cook breakfast.

Having a clothesline just makes camp that much more comfortable. Especially for a large family (6 beach towels, 6 swimsuits, etc). Being prepared to wash dishes is also a great idea. We all take turns, except for Leon. He does most of the cooking.

When all of the work was done, I'd float. I like floating very much. It makes all the work that goes into getting a family of 6 outdoors worth it.


June 1, 2011

The Semi-licensed Driver

We go to the DMV in a small town not far from us because I know it is never busy. True to form, there was only one other patron there ahead of us. I thought to myself, "Oh nice, we'll be in and out of here super fast." Boy howdy, was I wrong! We waited 30 minutes just for someone to call her name.

It just goes to prove the DMV is out to punish us all. They saw you going 5 miles over the speed limit on I-85 yesterday. Don't think that just because they didn't give you a ticket your crime would go unpunished.


Free Language Arts Lessons

I was having a hard time explaining just exactly what a run on sentence was to the kids today. So I googled and found these cook Power Point presentations.


They explained it very clearly for the kids, and showed them the many different ways to fix them. Plus they were free...and I love free.