Thursday, September 29, 2011

4-H 101: Projects

Projects are the learning part of 4-H. And we all want to learn!

Everyone belongs to a club. It can be close or far, but is usually in the county you live in. (My county has 18 clubs in it.) Each club offers a variety of projects. The great thing is that if your club is not offering a certain project, you can go to another club's project. For example, if you really want to be in the rabbit project and you are in the Abel Club and they don't offer it, you can attend the club meetings at Abel and go to the rabbit project at the Baker Club. (Club names obviously made up.)

This really opens up all the different projects you can participate in.

Projects need to meet for 6 hours a year. This could be each month through the school year, or a two hour meeting on three different Saturdays. Some projects, like the horse project, are much more involved and meet multiple times a month; but most of them meet once a month or less. This makes it easy to over commit; you have to remember to hold back. (Or at least tell your kids what your project limit is for the year.)

At our last club meeting some of the members had made explanatory boards to entice other members to join different projects.

Here are the projects offered by our club this year:

 Suburban Farm Skills 
{This one was tempting for me......cheese making, preserving, yogurts....}

{Of course we are in rabbits; Mr. Lego is a 
teen leader this year in the rabbit project.}

Arts, Baking & Crafts
{Self explanatory with lots of fun expected.}

 The Goat Project 
{In which I know nothing about.}

The American Girl Project.  
{Each month they will choose a different
character and then read the 
book and talk about it.}

Beginning ASL
{This was another tempting one....}

The other projects offered that didn't have fun displays were:

Hug-A-Pet Project
{Members take different animals
to assisted-living centers,
hospitals and care homes.}

Cooking/Table Setting Project
{This project is exactly what it says. 
Place settings is a judged entry at our fair.}

Rifle Project
{This would be another fun one to do....}

Leadership Project
{Our officers meet once a month to 
plan out the club meetings and talk about
being good leaders. This is a project open 
to all the members.}

 Other projects offered at 4-H clubs in my area:

Fiber Arts: Knitting
Junior Master Gardener
Dog Project
CPR and First Aid
Outdoor Adventure
Cake Decorating
Cavies {Guinea Pigs}

There is no requirement as to how many projects you take or what kind. And that is why I love 4-H. You can put in a couple hours weekly, or as little as 2 hours a month. So flexible!

Most projects are open to all 4-H members ages 5-18, except for a few like the Horse Project or a shooting sports project.

So for our family the limit is 2 projects per year. The Rabbit Project is a given each year, so that only leaves one open project to choose. Our first year we took the Beginner 4-H Project which is offered periodically and was super helpful. Last year we did the Historical Tours Project and went to a different historical site each month. And this year, since 2 of my children are in leadership, the Leadership Project made the most sense for us.

So three hours a month, 9 months in a year, but lots of learning and lots of fun.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blog Remodel

I really enjoy writing on my blog.
But I don't normally *look* at my blog.
I write and hit publish post, read the comments in my email and reply...but I usually don't peruse my blog.
(Although my kids read the back posts all the time.)
I was looking over it a couple days ago and thought that it was high time I changed a couple things, at least the pictures.
This is because the photo I had of Nutsy up there is when she was 4, which was 2 years ago.

I don't enjoy re-decorating....when we moved into our home I painted, put prints on the walls, chose what cute things would go on shelves.....and they have pretty much stayed that way since.
That was 11 years ago.
So I am playing around with things, at least on my blog.

I changed the header, but now it is too big.....I don't think you need to see the inside of my family's nostrils when you read my Monday Musings.
I changed the color....gray is a lovely background for photos.
And I also realized that Blogger doesn't offer you much in template choices.
I am not willing to pay for a design, so I'll keep tweaking it.

So, what do you like to see on my blog sidebars?
What I am of the kids.....other blogs I, anyone?
And while you're giving me advice, are there other sites on the internet where I can download free blog templates?

And I do know that if you subscribe to my blog, (I know who you are) :-) You never see anything except the post, on a boring, white background in your email box. If you feel the urge, you can click on the title of my post, which will send you to my blog and you can see what I am talking about.

And with life the way it is right now, with my blog not that high on my priority list, these changes may not be complete for a while.
So bear with me, my friends.
I am a work in progress, just like my blog.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I really love to eat. And that, my friends, is why I exercise. Not only do I love to eat, but I love to cook. I have some fun things planned on my menu this month.....

What I'm reading: I am reading pages in Living in God's Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture by David Van Druden. The Sunday school class we are in at church is going through this book. And this month I am teaching the 5 and 6 year old class so I don't want to fall behind on the reading assignments.

What I'm listening to: The shower going upstairs. Someone, I am not sure who, is up there getting clean.

What we're learning: In history we are learning about the martyr of Savonarola, the Persian Empire, and Leonardo da Vinci. I have a fun book on da Vinci that the children will read too. The older ones are busy writing for their language arts class, Nusty is chugging along with letter sounds and Dasher is flying along in her math book.

What I'm watching: The fog rolling out this morning. We actually had a sprinkling of rain yesterday and today it will be in the 80's. And then the next 4 days are in the 90's again. I love it, but most people I know are really hankering for a change in the weather.

What's cooking: Later this week I am making Bulgogi (Korean Beef), Chapchae (Korean noodle dish), miso and Japanese marinated green beans. Yum.

What I'm buying: One thing that I have been inspired to do lately.....create a place outside where my Sweetie and I can sit on summer nights. We have a deck in the backyard that has lots of flowers on it, but no place to sit. So in my free time I would love to scour the thrift stores for some inexpensive patio furniture...

What I'm thankful for: I am very thankful for my husband. He is my best friend and companion. I love you, Sweetie!

What I'm creating: I know I mentioned this a couple weeks ago, but I really want to start doing another crocheting/knitting project, Has anyone ever tried anigurumi?

What I'm praying: That God would continue to give me wisdom as I train my children. Homeschooling and motherhood is a full time job!

What I'm planning: I went through and organized our bookshelves a little last week and that led to stacks of books in the I need to go through those ones and decide what to keep and what to give away.

What we did this last weekend: We ran some errands on Saturday and then had a friend over for dinner Saturday night. Sunday we went to church and Sunday school and then over to a friends house where we got to have bear meat for dinner! It was actually quite tasty and we had a wonderful time together.

What I'm looking forward to: I have another dreaded trip to the dentist this afternoon....this time for Nutsy. (I am not looking forward to this and neither is she!) We have co-op this week and Mr. Lego's robotic class too. Just a normal, productive week.

A picture to share:

~Fresh eggs. And all but the white one are chicken eggs. Any guesses as to what the other egg is?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

4-H 101: What Is 4-H?

We are beginning our 3rd year in 4-H. Honestly, I had never really heard of 4-H until about 5 years ago, when we met some homeschooling friends who were involved. The mom shared with me the wonderful ways that it can supplement homeschooling and the kinds of things her children learned there. And I became convinced.

And since I didn't know much about it when we started, I am guessing some of you don't know much either.

I am still learning and figuring out everything, but I do feel I have enough of a handle on it to do a little blog series on 4-H and what it is about.

Here goes.

First, when did it start and why?

4-H is a youth organization that is actually administered by the USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. As you can guess, food, farming and animals are huge in 4-H. 4-H strives "To Make the Best Better" (their motto), by developing leadership, community service and life skills through the club meetings and projects. 4-H began in the early 1900's as a way to introduce new agricultural technology to the youth. Since then, it has grown to include almost anything and everything that has to do with learning.

Second, what is 4-H?

At our club meeting last week we had an orientation for new members and visitors. The club officers were each responsible for making a visual presentation of a different facet of 4-H, and then explained that area of 4-H to the newcomers. I had my camera and took shots of the different learning areas and thought this would be a great intro for anyone not familiar with 4-H.


There are 2 different uniforms in 4-H; the first is the green shirt and hat which you should wear at meetings and when representing 4-H. The other uniform is the 'whites', which is a white shirt and pants/skirt, boots, belt, tie or scarf, and hat. You wear your whites at the fair and when presenting something to judges.

Fund Raising

The NIFA and USDA administer 4-H, but each club is responsible to raise their own money. This is used for the club meetings, room rentals, awards and pins, and other miscellaneous costs. Our club has an arrangement with a nearby grange, and we sign up to serve breakfast at their monthly meetings. We make enough from the tips to count this as our only fund raiser for our club. (Which is why I like this candy bar sales, Saturday car washes, spaghetti feeds...)


Member of 4-H are required to come to the club meetings. These are held once a month during the school year and look a lot like a business meeting, only they are run by the 4-Hers. (I'll blog more about club meetings later.) The other meetings you can attend are project meetings. These can range from dairy cows to knitting, canning to archery, electronics and flower arranging.....if you can think it up it is probably a 4-H project. At the beginning of the year, you choose which projects you want to do and then you meet with your project through the year, usually once a month.

Record Books

Ah. The dreaded record books. I know you have heard me complain about the work my kids put into them, but I will tell you it is well worth it. A record book is just that, a record of everything you did in 4-H that year. It includes photos, creative pages, personal development report, project reports, and a biography that the member writes each year. It sounds daunting, but there is a very well organized handbook that helps you figure out how to put it together. These books are then judged at the club, county, and state level using the Danish judging system. (This is a judging system where the members are not judged against each other, but against a standard.)


Each year, members can do presentations. You pick a subject matter that relates to one of your projects. (Such as egg fertilization in the chicken project, food contamination in a canning project, or how to knit if you are in the knitting project.) The member prepares and memorizes a presentation, complete with visual boards. In January or February all the counties have their presentation days. Again the Danish system is used, the age of the member being taken into consideration. Gold is the top medal; if you get gold you can move on to Sectionals and beyond that to the State level.

Community Service

Community service is another part of 4-H. Our club does river clean ups, a blanket drive, we write letters to soldiers and also pass food out at food drives. All of this is voluntary, but does fill up your record book and is a great way to help others.

The Fair

The fair is the reward at the end of a lot of work. Pretty much anything you learn in 4-H can be displayed/judged/showed at the county fair. And how much you learned, the animals you worked with, the handicrafts you made, are all evident at the fair. And like my kids say, the fair is tons of fun.

Well, that is an extensive overview.

I hope it answered some questions and got you curious about the whole thing. :-)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am hungry. As soon as I finish writing this I am planning to go make toast with peanut butter and jelly for breakfast.

What I'm reading: I started reading the book the older children are studying in the Language Arts class that my friend is teaching in our co-op. And so far I am loving the story and writing style....Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton.

What I'm listening to: This last week I pulled out my box of cassette tapes and have been listening to old Rich Mullins songs. Awesome God, Step by Step, The Love of God, Creed.....good songs. And you young people, don't make me feel old by asking me what a cassette is...

What we're learning: This week Dasher is doing narrations and copywork from a poem by Hilaire Belloc and the older ones are reading an overview about the continents in geography. We are all moving on to Question 47 in the catechism and then studying about Columbus, Cristobal Colon, and West Africa in history.

What I'm watching: The weather changing, just a bit. It was only in the 80's this last week, but we do have all 90's this coming week. My garden was a little disappointing this year; I only had 2 tomato plants that gave me more than a handful of tomatoes and the zucchini plants quit a couple months ago.

What's cooking: Tonight I am making Hot Browns. I guess they are from Kentucky and are fun open-faced sandwiches. I'll also make a nice green salad to go with it.

What I'm buying: I am so happy with myself....the kids and I did our monthly shopping at the end of last week and I don't think I forgot anything!

What I'm thankful for: For God's grace. No matter what situation or trial I am in, I can remember that His grace is a blessing. Where I truly deserve to be right now is in hell, if it wasn't for His grace.

What I'm creating: I realized last night when I was trying to get to sleep that I have completely neglected my journal. It has been at least a month since I have written in it, so later today I need to sit down and catch up.

What I'm praying: For our government. Even though I don't agree with them about some things, they still need our prayers.

What I'm planning: I don't feel the normal scramble that I usually do around this time....I did a lot of my school planning in August. Except for a last minute math curriculum change, everything is going smoothly.

What we did this last weekend: Saturday was our big 4-H fundraiser....the kids served food at a nearby festival. After that we did a couple things around the house and then had yummy Turkey and Mozzarella Panini's for dinner. Yesterday we heard a good sermon on grace and peace, and then went home for a quiet afternoon. Then back to church again for our monthly evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: This week is just a normal week. Co-op, school, laundry, cooking....normal stuff.

A picture to share:

~This was taken 5 years ago and my babies were babies....9, 6, 5, and 1. Oh how time flies.....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sharing the Camera

I really love sharing things.
Except sips from my iced coffee.

Sometimes I share my camera.
Sorry, OUR camera.
Not my nice SLR one....I learned my lesson when my D50 died last spring.
My Sweetie has a small point and click one that I use every now and then, and I sometimes let the kids express themselves with it.

And this is what you might find on the memory card later.

A photo of the bird, since I don't ever take pictures of the bird.

Pictures of their friends...

....ones of their creations in the dirt.....

.....the view from their perspective.

Man, we look tall!

They take pictures of our backs....

blurry ones....

....and ones looking straight up.

Of course there are a few blackmail ones of mom....

....and a self-portrait or two.

And finally, I found about 30 photos of horses. Not real live ones, but ones from a horse calendar.

Too bad the flash was on.
And because they were of horses, I knew exactly who had taken them.
Did you know Bookworm loves horses?

"All right, that is enough now. Give the camera back to me."

So every now and then, let your kids take shots with your inexpensive camera. You'll never know what you might find.

{These were taken over the last 2 months by Bookworm, Dasher and Nusty.}

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten On Ten

I saw this fun post on a couple of blogs recently and although I don't regularly read the blog that this idea comes from I do want to give credit to where this cool idea came from.

ten on ten button

So the deal is this: on the 10th of every month take 1 photo every hour.

Here is September 10th at our house....

{9am - getting my beans into the crock pot for dinner tonight.}

{10am - the girlies brought these pretty flowers in and then when they realized I was taking a photo, used a paper towel for the backdrop.}

{11am - we just got back from a used book sale and I am cataloging the books we had just purchased}

{12pm - Bookworm and Mr. Lego playing Star Wars Monopoly}

{1pm - Mr. Lego doing some Saturday chores and organizing in the garage.}

{2pm - still doing chores with Bookworm cleaning blinds}

{3pm - cooling off with a swim in the pool.}

{4pm - My Sweetie and Mr. Lego pulled our computer out to clean it and run updates}

{5pm - Spanish rice to go with the beans....Tostadas for dinner!}

{6pm - playing Up The River with the kids and eating dessert. My Sweetie is wondering when I will put the camera away.....}

Life. Is. Real.

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: About my personality. I read a post at my friend Erin's blog and took a personality test for fun. And I am a ISFJ. I read the description and it is pretty accurate...but did give me some food for thought.

What I'm reading: No time last week for my book list. I did go to a used book sale at our library on Saturday and got another Jeff Smith cookbook. He is entertaining to read.

What I'm listening to: A couple kiddos are reading behind me and another is stirring a cup of tea at the table.

What we're learning: This week I begin teaching science in co-op! We'll talk about the airfoil of a birds wing, animal classification and experiment with gliders. In our own schooling we will be learning about Ivan the Great, Dias and de Gama, and Lorenzo the Magnificent in history. And Mr. Lego is beginning a Lego Robotics/Engineering class with some other homeschoolers on Friday.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we watched Apollo 13. I love that movie and really think they should make a movie about Apollo 11.

What's cooking: I am making a couple things in the crockpot this week....Chicken Chow Mein and Barbecued Chicken with Cornbread. All from my cookbook by this author.

What I'm buying: I am coming up to my monthly shopping trips....and with school going I need to make sure I get everything I need so there are no second trips. So I'm making lists....

What I'm thankful for: The place that I live in. I love the weather here in mild California....yesterday it was such a lovely day with temperatures in the 80's, a pleasant breeze and big clouds in the sky.

What I'm creating: I am thinking to start another project. I really like knitting so something along those lines.....a sweater? Maybe a cute little stuffed animal?

What I'm praying: For my husband; as he works hard for our family, leads our family and grows closer to the Lord in grace.

What I'm planning: I did lots of planning in August for school which has been so nice! But I am still planning for co-op lessons in the second semester...After I read 21 Balloons to the younger children I think we will read Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

What we did this last weekend: We did things around the house on Saturday, went swimming and had a fun evening with the kids. (More on that later...I did my first 10 on 10 day!) Yesterday we went to church and started our Sunday School year, then went to the park with friends for some pizza and volleyball. And when we played a game of adults vs. teenagers, we won. We are not THAT old......yet.....

What I'm looking forward to: Our 4-H club meeting is this week and I always look forward to co-op. And I am sure Mr. Lego is looking forward to his Lego class starting.

A picture to share:

 ~I took this photo on our way home last can barely see the big American flag hanging from the bridge. We will never forget 9.11 and will make sure our children remember.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday Musings (On Tuesday)

What I'm thinking: Of the little things I need to do today. The fun art pages I have for Nutsy to do. The letter that I need to get into the mail, and a couple emails I need to write.

What I'm reading: Now that we are starting our school schedule, I think I should be able to read more. I do have a spot on there for 'me' time, either to read or do projects that need to be done. So we'll see what book I feel like picking up...

What I'm listening to: Bookworm practicing her piano. We are back on our school schedule and between 7:30 and 8 is music practice for 2 of the kiddos.

What we're learning: We start school today! We'll be studying the War of the Roses and the Spanish Inquisition in history, an overview of zoology in science and the older two are reading a chapter in their new geography book about the solar system.

What I'm watching: The sun shining. I love the sun. I love living in a place where I see the sun most every day. I don't think I would do well in a place where it is cloudy more than it is sunny......the sun makes me smile.

What's cooking: This week I am making gyros in the crock pot. We'll eat them in pita breads with lettuce and some yummy Tzatziki sauce made with my homemade yogurt. And I'll also make some Tabbouleh to go with it.

What I'm buying: I don't need to go out for anything. I tried to plan it that way this week....but we'll see if we can last until Friday on a 2/3 full gallon of milk.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful that God keeps us safe. Yesterday at our friend's house I got into a water fight with my husband. He was across the pool from me and shot me with a super soaker and I turned real fast and ran into a fence post. So now I have a goose egg bump over my eye, and two cuts under it. I am thankful that I didn't injure my eye or need stitches. But I do have a nice shiner this morning....

What I'm creating: On my mind to do this week is prepare for co-op. We have a week before the science/writing/geography classes start and this week only have art history/art instruction/composer study.

What I'm praying: That the Lord would continue to give me wisdom as I train and disciple my children; not only in academics, but more importantly, in training their hearts.

What I'm planning: To have a good week. I know that all sorts of things can happen, but I am planning on things going well.

What we did this last weekend: We had such a fun day Saturday with our family. We went on a nice long bike ride then went for a swim in the pool. We went to church on Sunday and then came back home and relaxed. Each evening we played Up the River with all of them....they are getting good at cards. Yesterday we went up to our friend's for their annual Labor Day Party. We played volleyball, went swimming and had great fellowship.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our first 4-H officers meeting tonight, then co-op tomorrow. And I am really looking forward to starting school.

A picture to share:

~Nutsy, getting ready to take the plunge into our friend's pool.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Homeschooling Curriculum 2011

We start school next week.
Whether I am ready or not.
I feel ready and am happy about our school choices for this year.

Which, if you are interested, I'll share with you.

Bible - Training Hearts, Teaching Minds

We will continue to memorize the shorter catechism using Training Hearts; I really love this book and how the catechism is explained. We have memorized the first 45 questions, but I suspect we will be doing lots of reviewing the first couple of weeks.

History - Mystery of History Volume 3

Continuing on in history we come to the Renaissance, Reformation and growth of nations. Along with the core curriculum, I will be having the older children read excerpts from The 100 Most Important Events in Church History  and The Story of Liberty, along with other historical fiction we own. And for the younger two, I will use the coloring pages from Story of the World Vol. 3 & Vol. 4, with easier historical fiction books to read.

Vocabulary - English From the Roots Up, Word Roots

We will go over two to three new words a week during our Circle Time (all together time) from Roots Up. The younger ones love competing and seeing who remembers the most words. In addition, the older two will be doing the Word Roots software on the computer.

Logic - The Fallacy Detective

Last year I incorporated logic into our Circle Time, but this year feel that it is a better use of our time to have the older ones study it on their own. And this book came highly recommended...I am also looking forward to learning much more about logic as I read it with them.

Grammar/Spelling/Writing - First Language Lessons, All About Spelling, Writing With Ease, Co-op

I am continuing First Language Lessons with Dasher. She is definitely a verbal learner which fits well with this book. All about Spelling is a new one for me this year that came recommended. I don't usually do spelling unless I see deficiencies and this curriculum looks like it will be a good fit for her. Writing With Ease is one of my favorite writing curriculums! I love the literature selections and the layout of the material. The two older children will be taking a writing/literature course from my friend N, during our co-op this year.

Math - Math U See

Math U See is working well for us. (I think this is the longest I have stayed with a math curriculum!) And for the first time I will have all 4 children doing math.....oh my.....

Science - Apologia's Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

This is my contribution to our co-op this year. We will do experiments, make crafts, sketch birds wings, learn about bees and ancient flying dinosaurs. Fun guaranteed.

Phonics - Explode the Code, Phonics Pathways

Dasher loves Explode the Code. Last year Nutsy started doing the primer books and so they will both be doing these fun workbooks to supplement their phonics learning. I will be starting Nutsy in Phonics Pathways in helping to teach my youngest to is going way too fast.

Latin - Artes Latinae

I am excited about this self-teaching computer program for my two oldest. A few years ago we did a year of elementary Latin and I am hoping this can build on that knowledge.

Matres Magistres Co-op

We are splitting our co-op into two groups this year. The older children will be taking the writing/literature course and also doing World Physical Geography. The younger ones will be doing literature/copywork/narrations and then the entire co-op will be studying Flying Creatures for science together. It is going to be a fun year!


We still have our rabbits.....I haven't wanted to whine about them, but we can't seem to get them pregnant, even though they are rabbits. We will be doing the rabbit project this year and also doing the leadership project, as Mr. Lego is our club secretary and Bookworm is a Sergeant-at-Arms. They will all do presentations this year, do volunteer work and learn lots more about rabbits.

That's the plan.

One moment I am terrified that I am going to be teaching a high school student and the next I can't wait to begin and show my children the wonder of God, both in history and through creation.

Keep me in your prayers, as I will keep my other homeschooling friends in my prayers as we train and teach our precious children.