Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is going to be a rainy week here. I don't mind it because we really need the rain, but we are caring for a farm full of animals and will be out there, twice a day, feeding them.

What I'm listening to: Owl City is on right now....I call it my clean-up music....for some reason listening to it gets me into the mood to move around and clean.

What we're learning: This week we are learning about sound in science. The kids are reading all about sonar, ultrasound, bio-acoustics, and sound in space. Nutsy loves doing Reading Kingdom, and Dasher is doing great with Logic of English. She has struggled with reading and this curriculum has been the perfect fit.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we all watched Saving Mr. Banks. I loved it. It was very thought provoking and made for some good family discussions.

What's cooking: This week I am making Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce, Chicken Broccoli Casserole, Mediterranean Wraps, and this weekend I am planning to make Teriyaki Chicken and Gyoza.

What I'm thankful for: Good friends. This last Sunday I saw two people that I only get to see once a year or so, and my conversation with them was so encouraging. God has also surrounded me with precious friends that I get to see each week.

What I'm praying: I am praying that I would be thankful in all things. Even on my worst day, I can be thankful, because I know I have been saved from my sin.

What I'm planning: I am going to try, for the next few weeks, to take one child out a week for a Date with Momma. They are getting older, and deliberate conversations are so important.

What we did this last weekend: We went to Sectional Presentation Day. My Sweetie and I judged and all three older kids competed. And they all got golds! Sunday we went to church and Sunday School, then home for burgers and a relaxing afternoon.

What I'm looking forward to: A nice rain soaking. Hot tea. Warm socks. Pesto for dinner.

A picture to share:

~At Sectionals with our friends.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Week In Images

 My week....

This blue sky....

 because we didn't see that much of it this week, and when I saw the blue, it made me smile.

These hard workers......

 because it is lots of work, training a goat.

These tulips.....

because they make the view out my kitchen window that much more beautiful.

This Jasmine tea....

because I have been drinking it a lot.

These babies......

because I love watching them grow.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Choosing Market Goats

It is that time of year again, that time when we make decisions about what we are taking to fair.

And some of you might not know this but we have made a major decision.

Remember this?

Well, now it looks like this:

Yes, we have decided to get completely out of rabbits and turn that area of the yard into a lettuce bed. (It should grow like crazy, with all that fertilizer the last few years.)

 We are done....all those years of buying rabbit food, dealing with mean little bucks, and trying to get rabbits to breed (oh, the irony), have taken their toll and we are through.

The decision was unanimous and all three older kids have decided to take a market goat to fair.

So how do you take a goat to market?

I started by calling breeders in October; seeing who had kidded (or was planning to kid), if they had de-horned and castrated, and what the prices were.

In the middle of December we headed to a nearby breeder, who had an early batch of kids that had been born in September.

This actually works in our favor, since we live in a place that thinks it is completely normal to have our county fair early, and over Memorial Day weekend, to boot.

So what are we looking for?

A few things....

Structural Correctness

Basically, an evaluation of the skeletal system. What you want to see is a wide body, with the legs set square under the body. The neck extends out of the shoulder with the head held high. You want a long top line, with a slight tilt in the rump.


This is the vertical length from the animals' top to the bottom of their stomach. You want a long-bodies goat, and not one that looks too tight.

Muscle Volume

A goat that has a wider frame will be able to carry more muscle. And more muscle means more meat. When you look at a goat from behind the widest part should be the stifle, or thigh. You should also see well defined leg muscles, a wide chest, and muscular shoulders.

Style and Balance

All of these things should blend together on your goat. The neck nicely on the shoulders, and then the shoulders blending into the ribs, loin, and then rump.

Growth Potential

The goats we were looking at were about 4 months old. Be sure to choose a goat that has a larger frame; one that he will someday grow into.

You look at the goat as a whole. And remember, there is not one perfect goat. Choosing a goat that has overall good qualities is a better choice than one that might have excellent depth, but poor growth potential.

We also asked the breeder some questions....who the sire and dam were, when the last time was that she treated lice, what her goats were eating, and what her disease control program was like.

We liked what we saw, and the price that these guys were, because after a few days of thought, my kids decided to go with these cuties.

And so we brought them to their home, at the little farm near our house, and we now start the job of training and working with them.

Stay tuned for the many more 4H goat adventures!

*Sections of this post were written by Bookworm. Part of her 4H presentation this year was about choosing goats, so she had done the research for that part.

*And we did buy our goats in January and have been working with them for a couple months....a lot of these photos got stuck on my camera and I just recently was able to get them off. :-)

#4h #goats

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am loving the weather today. It was 80 degrees, sunny, and just perfectly lovely.

What I'm listening to: Right now, Piano Guys are playing....they have such fun music.

What we're learning: This week the older ones are learning about the life of Jesus. We are using Biblioplan in history and I love it that they are learning Bible and ancient history concurrently. In writing Dasher is learning how to write a story in sequence, and Nutsy is working on place value in math.

What I'm watching: The view out of my kitchen window is the best right now....I planted 50 tulips throughout our backyard and they are in bloom. The roses are starting to bud, and I can see my baby tomatoes waving to me from their little house on the deck.

What's cooking: This week I am making Japanese Curry, Gyros in the slow cooker, and Chicken Masala. I also need to bake some bread tomorrow, and I have a turkey in the freezer that I need to roast.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful that my sins are forgiven. And throughout my life I will strive to be joyful, through the good and the bad, remembering His work of redemption.

What I'm praying: I am praying about my prayers, that they would be meaningful, deliberate, and that I would make more of an effort to be faithful in them.

What we did this last weekend: We had our goat showmanship clinic on Saturday. The kids in my project did a great job and had fun learning how to show. Sunday we heard a convicting sermon on I Thes. 5:11-28, then after Sunday school we went to the park for a picnic with friends. Back home our family hung outside for a while, then we relaxed by making Gyoza, spring rolls, sunimono, and miso.

What I'm looking forward to: We are doing more fun experiments in co-op this of them is on luminescence and is sure to be a fun one. Then Saturday we have our 4H sectional presentation competition at UC Davis. The kids are madly working on their presentations...or at least they are supposed to be.

A picture to share:

 ~Learning goat showmanship.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Week In Images

 These baby goats, just born at the farm where we keep our 4H goats....

 because it is Spring.

This baby carrot.....

because it was pulled up by my precious baby.

This very cool science experiment....

because learning about pH is fascinating and beautiful.

These stacked enchiladas.....

because they hit the spot this week.

This sunblock....

because I love living in a place where you need it in March.

Monday, March 17, 2014

{Crew Review} Mango Languages

Foreign languages.

Yes, along with math, English, and science, most of the states in our country require that high school students have one year of a foreign language. Which, if you don't speak yourself, can be tricky to teach. This is where Mango Languages is very helpful to the homeschooling family.

Mango Languages is offering a new section to their language instruction: the new Mango Homeschool Edition. Created specifically for home educators, this easy to use, online program is just what our family needed this year.

Mango Languages Review

What It Is:

Mango Languages has over 60+ languages to choose from. Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), Farsi, Scottish Gaelic, and Yiddish are just a few.

After you sign in, you can easily  create a profile. Then you will head to The Commons. This is the place where you can see all of the languages offered and join the different courses.

Mango Languages Review

You can join as many languages as you like. Once you join, you can then see the scope and sequence of what is offered.

Some of the more common languages have three to four units or 'journeys'. Each unit has chapters, and each chapter has lessons. The number of the lessons for each language is varied; I looked extensively at four different languages and found that Spanish has 477 lessons, German has 549 lessons, Japanese has 496 lessons, and Indonesian has 55 lessons. That is a lot of learning to do!

The lessons begin with an assessment, if desired. Each lesson is interactive, with a pleasant voice walking through the lesson with you. For example, at the beginning of one of the Japanese chapters in the first unit, a female voice says,

"Listen to the way you would say Are you sightseeing?"

Then a male says, "Kanko desu ka."

Then the female says, "Now you try. Say Kanko desu ka."

And so on. You can also hover with your mouse over any of the words to see the pronunciation. Each of the words, both in English and in the language, are highlighted a different color. This makes it easy to see how word order can differ.

You can also use the back arrow to repeat a word or phrase. Throughout the lesson are timed questions: the student is asked to say a phrase or word, and a stopwatch appears at the top. For instance, when asked to say "Are you sightseeing?" in Japanese, the student was given ten seconds to respond. After the ten seconds the answer was both displayed and said by the narrator.

At the end of each chapter is a chapter quiz. This assesses the student by having them listen to numerous conversations in the language and answer questions from it. They also are given sentences to translate into the language with a word bank at the bottom to choose words from. 

What You Get:

Mango Languages has been used extensively in public libraries, in schools, and business organizations. The Homeschool Edition is a new section to this language learning course, so I was given a beta version to use. 

This is their introductory pricing for their Homeschool Edition: 

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                     
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                   
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total               
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group. 

 For that price you will receive access to the entire website and the 60+ language courses available. On the website you are a part of a larger community of learners and can message through eNotes, chat, and receive support from other members.

Included with most of the languages are downloadable files; these show at a glance what phrases and words your student is learning in each lesson.

You can sign up for a 30 day free trial and see if it would be a good fit for you.

How We Used This:

The recommended age range for Mango Languages is ages 6 to adult. This made me a bit excited, since I love learning along with my kids. I had my older two choose a language to study; Mr. Lego chose German and Bookworm chose Spanish. They spent at least a half hour doing lessons, 4 days a week. 

Some days they could get through two lessons, other days they needed reviews and didn't move as quickly. I want to count this towards a high school foreign language credit so I required them to write out their vocabulary words each day.

Bookworm put hers alphabetically.

I really do believe that you learn by writing so I also had them write out the phrases they learned.

Every five or six lessons is a chapter quiz, and at the end of the quiz, the percent of correct answers is given. I required them to get at least 85% or better before they could move onto the next chapter.

If they got more wrong, which happened a few times, they had to redo the lessons.

One thing we did notice that bothered Bookworm was that you are not told which part of the quiz you got wrong.  We are reviewing a beta version so there are a couple of minor things that are still in development, and quizzes is something that they are improving in the next few weeks. They do plan to have pdf, printable quizzes, which would indicate what sections need more work and would also keep track of long term progress.

Since this was meant for adults I thought I would give Japanese a try; my mother-in-law speaks fluent Japanese and I would love to try to talk to her that way.

I got through the first two chapters, and was able to say things that she understood. That is saying something, people. I really liked the repetitiveness of the program; the amount of words you do per lesson is perfect. 

By the fourth lesson though I started getting confused and forgetting some of the words. At this point I realized that I was making my kids write out the vocabulary words and I wasn't doing this, so I started my very own Japanese Vocabulary Notebook. And let me just say that there is something that happens in the brain when you write things down; by doing that regularly I improved immensely.

What We Thought:

I really liked this program. You cannot learn a language unless you are hearing it spoken, and the engaging and interactive style of this program made it very effective. The curriculum was very helpful; at any point you could hover over the words with the mouse and see the pronunciation. Another feature that we did not utilize since we don't have a microphone was the voice comparison tool. I am actually thinking to get a headset and microphone so that my kids can really work on their pronunciation. There are helpful grammar notes, (things like subject/verb order), and cultural notes and insights which are valuable to understanding language. 

Did my children learn German and Spanish? Well I was pretty impressed when, a couple weeks into his studies, Mr. Lego came up to me and said in German, 

"Do you speak English? I speak English. 
Beautiful weather here, isn't it? Thank you, goodbye."

Sounding properly German, at least to my ears. And when I verbally quizzed him by asking how to say weather, or thank you, I realized he knew the individual words and not just the phrase as a whole. 

I am planning to have them both continue in their respective languages through the rest of our school year. I also plan to keep learning Japanese so that I can share secrets with my lovely mother-in-law. 

Do check out what others thought on The Crew by clicking below; you can learn Hebrew, Latin, Hawaiian, and so many other beautiful languages.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That we seriously cannot keep a pair of scissors in this house. Actually, I am sure we have about ten pairs somewhere in the house, but we just can't find them. *sigh* 

What I'm reading: I am reading a historical fiction book that I am borrowing from a friend...Emperor The Gods of War by Conn Iggulden. It is the story of Julius Caesar and his life.

What we're learning: This week I am trying to find some fun experiments to complement our science...the kids are all reading about sound waves next week. The older ones are starting to learn how to write essays in our co-op writing class, and this week the younger ones had their first creative writing assignment.

What I'm watching: The temperature going up. We are in the mid 70's this whole week and even hit 80 over the weekend. I seriously love this weather.

What's cooking: This week I am making Enchiladas, Tex Mex Pasta, and Chicken Paprikash in the slow cooker. And my experiment for the week? This weekend I am making Thai Spring Rolls.

What I'm Buying: Last week during Big Shopping we saw some fun educational place mats at Wal Mart. I got the one on multiplication facts, and already Dasher has the 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's memorized. Gotta love those things...

What I'm creating: More baby plants. My tomatoes are doing great, but the lettuce and onions had an accident so I need to get out and replant them in the next couple of days. And I have more tomato seeds that I need to start also...

What I'm praying: My prayers today are for a few people in our church family who are struggling with illness or recovering from surgery. May the True Physician continue to heal them and give them strength.

What we did this last weekend: We did some cleaning on Saturday and then I made my friend's Chicken Shawarma recipe which was delicious. Then Sunday to church and then afterwards we had friends over for lunch. To a park in the afternoon since it was such a beautiful day, and then back to church for our monthly evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: A more quiet week than last....we don't have any 4-H meetings this week! Although we do have a goat meeting this Saturday where we are working on showmanship.

A photo to share:

~My sweet babies. 7 years ago.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Week In Images

 My tomato babies....

 because they are trying so hard to reach the sun.

This worksheet page by Nutsy.....

 because it cracked me up how she illustrated that caption.

 This comfrey plant....

 because I love using it for a multitude of ailments.

This car wash for our 4H goat project....

because it is always good to work hard for money.

This tulip....

because it is the first of many to show its beautiful face.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it was a beautiful day today! We had some overnight rain, but it cleared up this morning and the sky was such a lovely blue, with highs hitting 70 degrees. I love California.

What I'm reading: I picked up a great book from the library last week....Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin. This book has some very cool ideas about bringing the farm, home-cooking, and self sustaining ideas to your home in the city.

What we're learning: This week and next we are getting into the meaty stuff in Ancient Roman history in co-op. The Roman Wars, Roman life, Julius Caesar....such interesting stuff.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we got Catching Fire and watched it as a family. I find the whole twist of government control along with the reality TV ideas to be very thought provoking. It also made for some interesting conversations with the kids.

What's cooking: Right now I am smelling my Split Pea Soup bubbling away on the stove; that is what is for dinner tonight. The rest of the week? I am trying a new Chicken and Dumplings recipe, and Honey Garlic Chicken in my slow cooker.

What I'm creating: As you can see, I have gotten in a rut with this blog. For the last 6 weeks, I have seriously only blogged my Monday Musings and My Week In Images. I really, really, really want to post a couple recipes and some goat updates....

What I'm praying: That I would see my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with His grace. So often I am wanting to return evil for evil, but I need to remember what I have done, what Christ has done for me, and with patience, give grace to those around me.

What I'm planning: This is our first week of getting into the mid 70's...I need to do some more planting and start prepping the ground outside for my little babies.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we had a car wash for our 4H goat project, and we raised enough money to pay for the rest of our feed. Yay! We still need some supplies for the overall project so we are not done yet... Then Sunday we heard a convicting sermon on I Thessalonians 5: 15 and then went to the park with dear friends for a picnic and baseball.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 4H club meeting this week, our homeschooling co-op, and just the normal stuff.

A picture to share:

~Working hard at the car wash.....

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Week In Images

 This daffodil.....

 because it reminds me that Spring is on the way....

This beautiful Braided Egg Bread....

because I am very blessed to have a daughter that likes to bake.

The work that is being done with these goats.....

because Lord willing, it will pay off at fair.

These cloves of garlic.....

because I put them in almost everything. Almost.

These rain puddles......

because they are meant to be jumped in.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I finally figured out my photo editing glitch. You probably didn't notice, but I haven't been adding any photos from my SLR camera. But now that my editing program is up again, I will download the 500+ photos from my camera and start working with them....

What I'm reading: Any good book ideas?

What I'm listening to: The two younger girls playing next to me. They have created this whole world for their stuffed animals, complete with houses, stores, and places to work.

What we're learning: The older two have finished Chemistry 101 ! There were moments when it got a bit dry, but it was chemistry and my kids learned a lot about the periodic table. Dasher is writing a paragraph on George Washington for our writing class, and Nutsy is starting a new section of Bob Books.

What I'm watching: Rain, rain, rain. Yes we really do need it, but when you have to clean up after goats, it makes for an incredible mess.

What's cooking: This week I am making White Sausage Pasta, Stuffed Marinara Shells, and Beef Hot Pot.

What I'm praying: I am praying for a long-time acquaintance from Facebook who just found out that their 3 year-old daughter has a fatal, debilitating disease. Prayers for wisdom and peace.

What I'm planning: We are getting a head start this year and I am planning to spend a day with each child this week on their 4H record books. They can be so hard to figure out if you wait until the end of the 4H year (June) to do them.

What we did this last weekend: We didn't do too much on Saturday...the girls and I put together a fun puzzle. Sunday we went to church, our fellowship meal, and then to the assisted living center for their monthly service. Then back to our house with friends for the evening.

What I'm looking forward to: A normal week. We have just the regular things going, 4H, laundry, library trip, homeschooling.

A picture to share:

~Dasher and Bookworm are driving their goats, and you can see Mr. Lego and Nutsy in the background feeding the others some alfalfa.