Saturday, July 31, 2010

Everything, on a stick!!

Gotta love that fair food.

A young girl eating a pork chop bigger than her head--on a stick.

Rocket Launch

Get your rocket on the launcher

Get ready to hit the red button.

3, 2, 1 Blast Off

Great launch, the parachute opens!

Run out to the field to find it.

Found it!

Run back in with it
Hold it up for Mom to take a picture :o)

Second launch

Take a few friends with you to find it again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Now what?

What do we do now?  Today was the first day in a long time that we didn't have something that needed to get done or a deadline looming.  When one is trying to procrastinate they have a different feeling than when they have nothing to do.  We sort of felt a bit lost. 

On the way home yesterday we stopped at the library to pick up a book Dancer had on hold.  She will start reading again as her reading ban is off.  We actually limit her reading time and she has been banned from reading the last few weeks except for doing research on one of her projects.  I know it sounds odd coming from a homeschool mother, or any mother for that matter, that they won't let their child read but her reading gets in the way of other things.  She can sit for hours upon hours and stay up till the wee hours of the morning reading.  Sitting is sitting and fiction is fiction so it gets to the point where it isn't much different from watching t.v.  Good in appropriate doses, but not for seven or eight hours a day where she doesn't want to do anything else.  Now I understand getting lost in a good book that to put it down someone almost has to rip it out of your clenched fingers, but every book seems to be like that for her.  One of the reasons I don't read very much is because other things don't get done.   She has been like this since the day she was able to read her first sentence and she was an early reader.  Now she would happily read a novel a day.  I don't want her reading about someone else's life when she should be living her own.  The next few weeks though, when there are no other obligations, she can read to her hearts content.

Back to stopping at the library.  While we were there they were having a book sale, hard covers $0.25 and paperback were 2 for $0.25 so she picked out a few book.  Normally we don't buy books, just check them out of the library because she reads them so fast we couldn't support her reading habit, but at that price she picked up a few.  When she is done we can pass them on to someone else or take them to the food shelf.  They had a lot of good classic little kid titles and I hope they were selling them because they had so many copies, not because no one is reading them.   Spark picked out a book of fairy tales as he has started to enjoy reading and he finds fairy tales amusing.

The school books for the beginning of next year came yesterday.  The kids eagerly went through the box and oohed and awed over them.  They wanted to get started on school but I just want to wait for a while.  It is good they are excited but I want time to go through them and get things lined up instead of just diving into them willy nilly. 

I also don't want to start school this early because I want to get somethings organized around the house and decluttered.  We are planning on getting a dumpster in August and pitching a lot of junk from the garages so we can make better use of the space.  Once we start school and our fall schedule there really isn't the time to dedicate to it to get the job done well.

Dancer was already feeling a little antsy last night and picked out a afghan pattern that she wants to do for next years fair.  Spark too has been talking about what things he will want to try next year.  I don't have anything going either, which is a really weird feeling.  I do have a cross stitch, that I started when Dancer was a baby, that I should finish.  I should make that my goal before I start anything else.

The whole day wasn't spent sitting around, we did run into town.  Spark is launching his rocket tomorrow at the fair so he needed a engine and watting, whatever that is.  Dancer picked out the color of yarn she wanted to use for her new afghan project.  I think we put together every yarn color combination possible before she chose one.  We also made a trip to the grocery store and a store to get a few school supplies I saw we didn't have when I was scanning Spark's curriculum.  While we where there we also had diner at Pizza Ranch.  We love that place.  I am not a huge pizza fan but everyone else is so they have pizza while I have chicken.  Come to think of it Dancer usually has chicken sticks while we are there and skips the pizza too.  Either way, we are all happy. 

We are back to the fair tomorrow so our boredom will be broken!

County Fair

All the excitement of the big day and when it finally arrived it didn't start out very well, it actually started horribly.  Spark went out to the barn to start the chores as the rest of us were finishing up lose ends and he found one of our little does dead in her pen.  We were all devastated so the fair was a nice diversion to our tragedy.  Dad and I all the chores that day and the next so the kids wouldn't have to go out to the barn when the sadness was so fresh.

The kids both did really well at judging.  It took from just before 2:00 until almost 7:00 for them to get through all the judging lines.  Dancer won five state fair trips after all her worry that she wouldn't win any and she was an alternate on several more.  She won trips on her cat education, consumer education, entomology, potatoes, and goat projects.  Spark won a couple of trips too although he isn't eligible to go until he has finished sixth grade.  He does having the bragging rights though!  He won his trips in Water/Wetlands, Dog Education and Consumer Education.  Pretty impressive for his first year of big kid 4-H.

We didn't take any pictures the day of judging but went back yesterday to look everything over when we brought our open class items and took pictures then.  Not sure how we did in open class because you aren't there for that judging and it isn't done until about 5:30 p.m.  Dad had to work last night which cut our day short so he could get home to nap.  We did see that Dancer won a blue ribbon on a monkey duffel bag she had sewn.

Here is Dancer with her entomology project.  This is the one that we thought she should take because 3-D projects seem to do well but she didn't want to.  This originally started as a science project we thought she could expand on and make into a 4-H project back in about early March.  We got books from the library so she could get started, renewed them three times and then paid late fees on them because they were late.  The project wasn't even started.  Last month we checked the books out again, and again nothing got started.  Finally at the 11th hour it got done.  I think she just wants to forget about dragonflies from here on out. 
Spark with his vegetable gardening project.  Our garden isn't doing near as well as some other peoples garden.  This is the cream of the crop that we had to bring.  Our beans were done perfectly last week and we are only getting a few cucumber everyday as they are just getting started.
The banner won premium and will be going to the state fair!  The front and....
the back.
Dancer with the project she is taking to the state fair.  I was glad she chose this one as it is judged in the evening so we won't have to worry about the time frame of getting down there.  If she had chosen something that is judged in the 8:30 a.m. group we would have had to have left home about 5:00 a.m. and chores would have had to been done before we left.  Although we will get back really late it works better than really early for us.
Spark with his rabbit project.  The judge asked him if he had any rabbits and Spark said, "yes, about 25."  The judge got this look like he needed to change his line of questioning.  Then Spark started explaining to him about recessive genes, how they determine the fur color and texture and how we breed them to try and get certain types of fur the judge gave him a look of whoa, I wasn't expecting this of a third grader.  I didn't realize how much he knew until he started talking to the judge and I was standing close enough to listen.  I feel like we are rabbit novices, just scratching the surface of all there is to know, but I guess we, and Spark, have picked up a few interesting tidbits over the years.

The club planter won an honorable mention.  The theme this year was Tutti Fruity and it was hard to come up with anything.  Dad was the adult chairperson for this project.  We ended up trying to make an ice cream sundae.  It has a spoon, that is the silver thing on the left and a big straw that Spark is pretending to sip out of.  The sign says "Flavor of the Month - Tutti Fruity."  Besides the trying to get colors of ice cream the only thing we had fruity was a lemon basil plant for a little fruity aroma.  There were less entries than usual in this area so other clubs must have thought it was a hard theme too.

The Master Gardeners, who are some of the nicest people, set up a booth every year where fair goers can plant a flower to bring home. 

Both of the kids took advantage of that.
Grandma Pat came with us the second day and Spark took this awesome picture of Grandma.  She looks so nice here and he captured how beautiful she is.  She is always such a good sport to go with us so many of our adventures.
We stopped by the dairy booth and had malts served up by the dairy princess.
We wait all year for one of these they are so good.  This year they were even better because we hadn't had any treats for two weeks knowing that we would be eating a lot of fair food this week.

Today is the only day that we don't have a reason to go to the fair so we are just recouping at home.  Even the kids said that their feet hurt.  Spark has a rocket launch tomorrow so we do need to run into town to get him engine for his rocket.  Hope Dad knows what it looks like because I don't have a clue!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's the Final Countdown.

These are the projects I don't think we have shown yet.  Tomorrow is the big day - 4-H judging.  It starts at 2:00 p.m. and goes until 7:00 p.m.  Since the kids have so many projects we need to be there whole time to be sure they get around to judges in all the areas.  Our club booth also needs to be put together and so we will be a little early to do our part there.  At 9:00 p.m. we sweep the building and then come home to get ready to bring our open class items on Thursday. 
Spark - Exploring Animals
Spark - Consumer Education
Dancer - Exploring Animals
Dancer - Water Wetlands
Dancer - Wildlife Biology
Dancer - Fishing Sports
Dancer - Entomology

Tomorrow we need to dig potatoes, pick vegetables and flowers, load it all up in the van and we are off to the fair.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Curriculum choices

After what seems like forever, Dad and I have chosen curriculum for the next year.  The job has always fallen on to me but this year I said, "You know, this is really a big job and I would like some help and input, not just a grunt or a sounds good here and there."

Math was easy, the next level of Singapore for Spark and Saxon for Dancer.  They don't use the same math program because they both learn so very differently and I don't think that either one of them would excel at the other's math program.  I don't know how a school chooses one program for a whole classroom or grade. 

The big change we are making this year is to have Spark do a complete curriculum instead of one that I pick and choose what I think is best.  The past couple of years the kids have done the same history, some science, bible study and a few other topics together but work at their own level.  Spark is very happy to sit back and let Dancer do the majority projects they do together and answer all the questions when we discuss things.  That needs to stop, first because he doesn't pay very good attention when he knows there is back up for him and second, it drives me crazy.  It also seems there is a much bigger difference between what I expect of  them as a 4th and 8th grader than say when they were 2nd and 6th grade.  I am a bit apprehensive about this complete curriculum thing because it is not my style at all.  I like to plan our days out by how we feel not what someone says we need to get done.  Spark on the other hand I think will do well with a book saying this and this and this needs to be done instead of it coming from me.  We looked over what seemed to be every boxed curriculum out there and chose Worlds of Adventure. 

Dancer still has some of her last years subjects to finish up so we didn't order too much for her.  She is in various stages of Latin and science.  We don't really go by what grade they are we just keep going on with more in depth study so our books really don't get started at the beginning  f or finished at the end of a typical school year.  We did get her a new reading unit study.  Last year we used Total Language Plus, which she loved and found challenging, but so she doesn't get bored with the same thing we chose one study by Trailblazers to see how she likes it.  The main thing she enjoys doing is word puzzles and Total Language Plus had a lot of those.  If this study doesn't have many I will just get her a puzzle book.  She is also getting a grammar book since when the test scores came back we could see that that was an area she needed to focus a little extra attention on.  The last thing we ordered for her was Traditional Logic.  I love logic so I hope she does too, if it doesn't seem like she does we will probably put it away and pull it out another year.

The rest of what we want for the year we will have to wait and order later as the total seems to add up fast.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How much chicken is in a can of chicken rice soup?

About a tablespoon of meat and that is suppose to be for two and half servings.   Dancer decided for her consumer education project to compare canned chicken and rice soup to homemade chicken and rice soup.   

Here is the soup her and Dad made this afternoon...

and here is the soup from the can.  Plus they took some of the serving out of the bowl to be able to see what was in it otherwise it just looked like broth.  Which would you rather eat?  Hopefully your answer is a no brainer.

The price break down was as follows:
Homemade soup costs $0.21  per serving
Canned soup costs $0.67  per serving

They made 40 servings for $8.59, which in canned soup would cost $26.80.  For the homemade soup the chicken was $5.99 of the cost which leaves $3.60 for the rest of the soup.  From how much chicken was in the can of soup it seems they are selling really expensive chicken broth.  If Dancer's soup had had as much chicken (her's was a tasty young fryer not an old laying hen) as the canned soup, it would have been about .09 per serving.  That means that every can of soup has about $0.23 of product in it and that is at retail prices not the price that producers are able to buy ingredients at.  Now, go make some soup.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hay, Hay, Hay!

Our hay stack was looking like Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, actually we  had just used the last bale when Dad went to get a load so our goaties don't go hungry.  Yesterday, we even rotated the goats out so they could 'get a graze on' and have a little breakfast.  We can't put them all out at the same time because when we sold some of our goats this spring, we sold the herd queen.  Her daughter, who was at the bottom of the barnyard hierarchy decided she was going to take her mother's place.  The goat second in line said, "Um, I don't think so," and they fight.  Normally you can leave them together and they will work it out.  The one jousting for queendom has horns and she uses them on the other one who doesn't have horns.  Neither of them are about to back down so now we keep them separated.

Dad has been calling around and found some hay which was close to home, a nice benefit when we have to go and get it.  The last couple of years we had a guy who delivered but our wet June

ruined a lot hay fields.  They would get it cut, but before it would dry it and they could get it baled, would rain again and then it rots in the field.  We had a hard time finding any and the farmers' had thousand of dollars of hay rotting in their field that they will just have to till back in.  For those of us who don't have our own hay it also means higher prices, we paid $2.75 a bale this year.
Dad and Spark hooked up the trailer and went to get the first load.  Spark was watching for bales to fall off his side and Dad was watching for bales to fall of his side.  They got home and, excited to have hay again, I went out to the deck to snap a picture. 

I was just going back into the house when this little black truck comes around the house and pulls up behind the trailer.  Who is this that they had the nerve to drive right into our back yard?  The nice people we bought the hay from.  Two bales had fallen off the trailer undetected by the smallest hay watcher and landed in their driveway.  They were nice enough to throw them in the back of their truck and drive them over.  That was really honest, they could have just thrown them back onto their stack and sold them to us again.  But to bring them over, how nice.  I would have set them aside and waited until we came back for the next load.  Glad they didn't fall out on the road or we would have never known they were gone.  It isn't unusual to see a bale of hay every now and then along side the road.  Three more loads and we are set with hay hopefully until next spring.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sewing a tiered skirt

This is Dancer's clothing/textiles entry for the fair.  The pattern in Simplicity 2412, an It's So Easy.   It was really easy, I will give them that, there is just a ton of gathering to do.  She was a pro at gathering by the time she got to the last tier though.  The pattern is for another row on the bottom but that would have made it a long, to her ankles, long skirt and she didn't want that much length.  She picked two complementary fabrics thinking they would be more staggered but it was hard to tell where they would fall when she started pinning and once a lot of it was gathered it was too much work to take it all out just to move it a few inches.  The first two tiers were only two pieces and that kinda threw the whole thing off too.  One of the the tiers was five pieces and so two of the same color had to be together as well.  As usual it is much cuter than the picture shows.  It is is light and very summery looking and will go perfectly with a t-shirt.  Hopefully she will wear it now.  When she was little she wouldn't wear pants, or tights, no matter how cold it was out and now she prefers pants.

The front
The back