Saturday, September 29, 2012

Helen Keller's birthplace: The tour

In the beginning of September we headed to Tuscumbia, Alabama for the Oka Kapassa that happens every year. As we were entering town almost to the park, it began raining. We circled the park brainstorming what to do since we didn't come prepared to get wet. That's when we saw it: a sign to Helen Keller's birthplace. So we decided to go visit it while waiting for the rain to stop. What a surprise!

 For this post we invite you to come see Helen Keller's birthplace with us. Feel free to show this post to your kids when you read books about Helen Keller and if you have a chance do visit the site. It's amazing to see this remarkable woman's background.

Here we are heading for the 
Main House.

To the left of the house, there are fountains and benches circling a bust of Helen Keller.

As you continue on down, there are displays of gifts that were given to her as she traveled the world. 
There are artwork, sculptures, collections of pins, photos and other memorabilia. 

Helen was involved with the Lions Club.

Behind the main house, there is a big open theater where every summer, they put on The Miracle Worker production for about 6 weeks. 

We are definitely putting that on our calendar for
next summer.

As you enter the main house, you sign up the visitors log book and pay a small fee. Someone will give  you a tour and show you the rooms of the house and give you bits and pieces of information. 

Here our tour guide is showing us pictures of Helen Keller and her parents and Ann Sullivan, the famous teacher who taught her sign language.

To the right, the dining room where Helen had a tantrum and Anne Sullivan stayed with her until she finally gave in and learned how to eat with a fork and fold her napkin.

One thing I noticed most rooms had a fireplace. That was their only heating device then.

I kept thinking how small everything looked and how we have SUPERSIZED everything nowadays.

One of the back rooms was turned into a museum with displays of memorabilia and this replica of bronze statue that sits in the National Statuary Hall at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 

Helen Keller was the first female child to grace the floors of the hall.

Here is another display of typewriters and other memorabilia: photos, books, newspapers' clippings and other records.

Helen Keller inspired many. Although she had disabilities she influenced many and traveled the world.

She met many influential people, Presidents, Kings and Queens. She was honored by many. She has written a few books and the couple I have browsed she mentioned the Lord.

Our tour guide said that she always began the day by reading her Bible. The first book she wanted to read once she learned Braille was the Holy Book. 

I don't know how the social turbulence of her time transformed her but I like to believe that she kept her faith in the Lord Jesus in spite of them.

Many of the original parts of the house have been preserved. The windows, furniture, floors are still original as you can see on this photo. My DH said that a runny window pane is proof that it was handmade. On the other side, a modern window keeps the house well insulated since it does have AC.

The houses in those days did not have electricity or an indoor bathroom or kitchen.

Imagine the drafts and cold floors or water they had to endure.

On the back of the main house, you will find a little cottage that contains the kitchen and the maid's quarters.

In the kitchen you will find the cast iron pots, the big fireplace where the food is cooked, the butter churn. 

There isn't much light - just a tiny window.

Here is the other side of the kitchen. More utensils and kitchen tools and the china were food was served. Everything was very proper then.

Where is the refrigerator and the sink? They didn't have any.

Imagine a camping site indoors!

Here is the maid/ cook's quarters. 

It's right next to the kitchen so she can be available at all times to do her job.

Here is the other side of the maid's room.

Again a fireplace to keep her warm in the winter months and a spinning wheel.

Are you enjoying the tour so far?

Would you like to see where Helen was "sent away" to be by herself with her teacher?

This is a grinding wheel for sharpening those kitchen tools just outside the kitchen house. I guess sharpened tools were important.

And that white house in the back is the main house. This is how close the kitchen/ maid's quarters were to the main house.

Here is the famous water pump where Helen finally realizes that everything has a name and a word for it.

To the right of it is the main house, to the left is the house were Helen stayed with Anne Sullivan away from her family so she could learn to trust and rely on her teacher.

To the back of me is the kitchen.

This funny building is the cellar - the underground dark and cool place where food was stored. 

This is the closest they had to a fridge or pantry. It's located to the right of the kitchen.

See that little while house on the left of this photo? That is the house where Helen stayed with her teacher. it's right next to the main house. Right behind it you can see the cellar's roof.

Helen went on a buggy ride so that she would think she was going somewhere far away from her home. Sullivan did not want her running to her Momma at the first huddle. It worked!

Here you go: the one room house where Helen and Sullivan spent time together living, getting to know each other and learning to communicate.

See that nice pot by the bed? You know what that is??

Can you locate their heating source??

Here is the pretty sunny area of their one room house.

Could you live in such a simple house?

What would you do for entertainment?

Do you think time would go slow or fast?

Here is the house from the outside.

Doesn't it look cozy?

There are many Magnolia trees on the property. They are majestic.

What makes some people succeed against all odds and other succumb to their circumstances?

I know that there were many that were in the same situation as Helen Keller but we haven't heard of them. Many didn't have the opportunities that she was handed.

What opportunities are we passing by today? 
What mountains that we are refusing 
to climb?
What scenery are we missing out on enjoying?

The Magnolia tree fruit looks like this. See those red M&Ms?? They are the seeds.

There are seeds of opportunities in our lives every day. 

Dear Jesus, help me not to ignore the opportunities. Help me to be brave to conquer paths that haven't been walked on before. Help me to be courageous and faithful. Amem!!

So did you like our tour? 
I would love to hear from you in the comments' section.
Oh, one last photo. I promise. 

This will be the first thing you will see as you walk into the main house.


Bottom left: Helen Keller
Bottom right: Anne Sullivan
On the top: Helen's parents.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Learning Log of August 2012

Mushrooms everywhere!
August was another full month: birthdays, a trip to the beach, saying good-bye to the grandparents after a 3 month long visit (it didn't seem that long, really!) I am realizing daily that my children are growing way too quickly. Where is time going? So many things to do, so many places to go to, so many dreams to fulfill...

Everything in BOLD and BIG letters are my favorite picks 
the ones I recommend you check it out!! 

Books Read Out Loud to All

* Bible everyday. We are reading the Gospel of Luke.
* The Legend of GID the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits - Doing the Right Thing Ain't Always Easy by The Miller Brothers - (Heroes of Promise Series -  Book One)
* The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado - Beautiful Book. Highly recommend! Even DS7 who has a hard time sitting still and listening, sat quietly and took every word in. :)
* Because I love you by Max Lucado - another beautiful book by Lucado that portrays the truth of God's Word.
* Hooray for Grandma Jo! by Thomas McKean
* Count on Culebra - Go from 1 to 10 in Spanish by Ann Whitford Paul
 * Ten Boys who didn't Give In by Irene Howat - Inspiring stories of martyrs. We are really enjoying this series.  The link is for the set of 5 volumes. Ten Boys who didn't give in is just one of the volumes. The stories are in chronological order so I am using the opportunity to talk to the kids about timeline and historical events.
* Who Moved My Cheese? for Kids by Spencer Johnson and Christian Johnson - my DH read this book about 3 times to the kids at bedtime. He and the kids enjoyed it very much. It deals with attitude and what to do when things don't go our way.
* How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

The Hangout with a huge sand dune just for the kids!

DS7 independent reading list:

* Brittle Bones by S.E. Pearl on the Kindle for FREE. ( see more about this link below)
* Hariball goes to a Baseball Game by Zavier Temporal on the Kindle for FREE
* Six-Donner Sid by Inga Moore - DS7 read this on his own and then asked if I wanted to hear him read it out loud to me. Score!!! :)
* I am invited to a Party! by Mo Willems
* There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems
A sunflower without seeds.
* Today I Will Fly! by Mo Willems
* Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley - an I can read History Book - DS7 read this one out loud to me in one sitting. He enjoyed the adventure, and how courageous the little Indian boy was because he wanted so much to be a man like his father. It was a good read. We discussed what makes a boy a man and the differences between the American Indian and the "white man". (I got our copy at our library. They were getting rid of older books and I got me 30+++ books in the process. You might want to check out your library for the books they are selling.)

DD9 independent reading list:

* The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White - I bought some used Abeka readers and DD9 read through them for fun. In one of them there was an excerpt from this book title and she was so interested in the story that she asked me to buy it for her. I found our copy at our library. It's from the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. The link will take you to Homeschool Book Review Blog or you can find it on Amazon. This was a good read!
* A Penny's Worth of Character by Jesse Stuart
* Come to My Tomorrowland by Jesse Stuart - The link will take you to Home School Book Review website so you can read more about the book. This was the perfect book for my DD9 who loves animals.
* Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
* The Shaman's Apprentice - A tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Chrry and Mark J.Plotkin
* Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long and David Shannon
* How I became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon
* Levi and His Magic Pants by Douglas Bradshaw on the Kindle for FREE 
Squeakums - DD9's newest creation.
* Rats on the Roof and Other Stories by James Marshall

* The Capture #1 by Kathryn Lasky ( Guardians of Ga'Hoole) - Here is a REVIEW I found helpful when deciding if my daughter should read this book or not. Here is a REVIEW of the movie which was taken from the first 3 books of the series. Here is another REVIEW about the books - this one even more thorough.
Here is a website with discussion questions for the first book. I used this with my DD9 to test her comprehension but also to talked about some of the themes discussed in the book.
* The Journey #2 (Guardians of Ga'hoole)
* The Rescue #3 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The Siege #4 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The Shattering #5 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The Burning #6 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The Hatchling #7 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole) 
* The Outcast #8 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The First Collier #9 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole) 
* The Coming of Hoole #10 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* To Be a King # 11 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)
* The Golden Tree #12 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole) 
Squeakums' bedroom in progress..
* The River of Wind #13 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole) 
* Exile #14 (Guardians of Ga'Hoole)

Audio Books

* Jonathan Park - Volume VIII - The Copper Scroll - DD9 loves Jonathan Park. She has been listening to Vol. 1 to 7 for over a year now. Every night she turns her MP3 on and listens to episodes until she falls asleep. This month vol. 8 is finally out and Jonathan Park and crew are in Israel making new discoveries and unveiling new treasures. So of course, we bought the digital files and she has heard it all. I highly recommend this series. It's family friendly, loaded with Scriptures, good morals, life lessons, history, science and more... 

* We heard Adventures in Odyssey episodes from Friends, Family and Countrymen #39

Activities at Home

* We are doing a new devotional. We are using The Dig for Kids. I download it to my kindle and I am using it with the kids. So far they are enjoying it very much. We are actually reading sections of our Bible and answering questions and memorizing verses. I highly recommend this.

Working on life size body maps.
* We made life size body maps. I first saw the idea HERE and just thought we had to do it since I had recently purchased some books on Anatomy for the kids.

More mushrooms... there are so many varieties.
* Harvesting our sunflowers; prepping our garden for fall; harvesting a lot of okra, tomatoes and our first broccoli crown; pruning bushes and tomatoes; sowing greens for the fall, prepping the ground for more growing; throwing out sunflower seeds to the birds;exploring the outdoors and mushrooms;

* Enjoying lots of swimming and mowing the grass. One night we had a pool party with cake and ice cream and glow in the dark sticks. We invited a few friends over and everyone had fun.

Practicing controlling the soccer ball.
* Practicing weaving with a soccer ball; jumping on the trampoline; playing outside with neighbors, playing in the rain.

* Playing school: DS7 and DD9 take turns teaching Biology, Reading, Math to all the kids. Lots of reading aloud to one another. Playing Monster Manners.

* DD5 said she wants to learn to read. So we began our Kindergarden Hooked on Phonics program. I have used it with my older 2 children with success to teach them to read. I do a page or 2 a day as the child shows interest. Just my child and me on the couch or on the bed with the book, sounding out the letters and putting them together to make words. Then we read the short stories and go from one page to the other. Once we finish the kindergarten we begin the 1st grade. Usually we don't finish the 2nd grade book because by then they can read and there is no sense finishing the curriculum. They got more important and interesting books to read. :)

* DD5 is also "doing school" with  Walking by the Way Bob Book Printables. We don't own the Bob Books and I am not using their curriculum. I printed Walking by the Way worksheets and put them into a binder. When DD5 wants to do school she gets her binder and her pouch filled with markers and sets out to do her school. Without schedule or strict rules, she is learning her letters and phonics as well as having fun.

Playing school and reading aloud to each other.
* Lots of sewing and making animals and their houses; coloring, cutting and playing pretend games. Building houses, apartments and other buildings with old diaper boxes.

* We are using our Singapore Math books again. We are working on addition with carry over, multiplication with single and 2 digit numbers, subtraction with borrowing and more.

Field Trips/ Activities Outside the Home

* We went to the beach for a week. Oh, so much fun! This is our third time going to Gulf Shores, Alabama an it is our all time favorite place to go. Gulf Shores has great infrastructure with a Community Center and Park for the kids, a zoo, a water park, go cart tracks, arcades, State pier, lots and lots of restaurants and shopping, all within 10-30 minutes away from Gulf Shores West Beach. Here are some of the things we did:

The best Grandma ever (my Mom) at the Museum with us.
The Hang Out has such cool vintage decor. So much fun!

* fishing at the beach; swimming at the pool; visited the Nature Center at the State RV park; checked out the state RV facilities and drooled; went to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola; build sand pits and castles with the kids at the beach; the kids went boogie boarding at the beach; lots of walking on the beach; dancing and playing with glow in the dark sticks on the beach one night; eating out; we went to the The Hang Out for breakfast one morning (they have a pirate/ princess treasure hunt for the kids from 8-10:30am); played Uno and Black Jack and read books. :)

* We had never been to the Naval Aviation Museum before. It was divine providence and I am so glad we went.  It was FREE admission (when you have a big family you know how important that is!) and there is so much to see and learn in there. I definitely recommend and it's a half a day field trip at least! There is so much to see that I think it will be a place we will visit again.

Practicing soccer.
* karate and soccer.

* We had Animal Tales at our local library again. This time the program was on Reptiles - Scales and Tails. We also had McWane Science Center in on another day for a presentation and the kids had a great time learning about the Bernoulli effect, atmosphere pressure, acid and base and chemical reactions. All in all it was a fun learning time.

Websites/ Links we discovered and perused.
* Math 5 Live - DD7 and DD9 watched the lesson on Multiples, Factors, Primes and Composites; DS7 did a lesson on proper fractions; We tried the lesson on equivalent fractions but that didn't go as well. :(

Sand between our toes! Aaaaaaaah!
* - got DD9 and DS7 doing 20 Math exercises a day on this website. The first 20 exercises are FREE, then you need to become a member or switch to a new computer to do 20 more or wait until the next day to do 20 more. Since my kids get bored easily, there is no sense becoming a member. I just use the site when they want to. DS7 worked on money (do you have enough to purchase up to $5); logic reasoning (guess the number); odd and even numbers;

* Pink and Green Mama has so many great ideas for crafts. If you are looking for hands on activities for your kids, do check her out. We found the life size body maps idea on her site.

Exploring Science
* Wallace and Gromit World of Invention - Build, explore and invent your socks off!! Lots of fun! The kids played on this website for a little while, AFTER we watched the movie (link below) they REALLY played on it. Really fun!

* Economic Systems - this is a Mom's study on economic systems - very easy to understand. I had just been talking to my DH about the subject so when I found this post I had to share with my kids and you. :)

* Blog that posts FREE children's books for the Kindle - This was a great find. On the first night I found this, I downloaded over a dozen FREE books that all my kids - 9 y.o. and under - would enjoy. Right away I got DS7 interested and he read a couple of books to himself and one to his 5 year old sister. I highly recommend you sign up for this blog. Even if you don't have a kindle you can still read the books on your laptop or computer. 

Animal Tales at the library again. Always fun!
 * Kathryn Lasky 's Studio - you can read more about the author of the Guardian of Ga'Hoole and find out about her researches to write her books, as well as her past works and future ones. I am trying to cultivate an interest in my children not only in books but in how they are written. I find it useful to learn  more about the authors, illustrators and artists behind the work we appreciate.

* Classic Reader - classic books for FREE online. I used this to find short stories like The Little Match Girl and the Glass Dog.

Below some websites we haven't used yet but they look promising:

* FREE Online Piano Lessons for Kids -

* Science Stuff Blog

* Science illustrated

* Simply Charlotte Mason website : help on how to teach different subjects.
This is a great site with help for the non-traditional non- classical way of learning. I always find helpful tips or ideas of how to help my kids learn.

TV shows/ Videos/ Movies

* Happy Feet 2
* The Tigger Movie
Getting the seeds of a mammoth sunflower!
* Nanny McPhee Returns - the kids watched this movie 3 times in 2 weeks. I watched bits and pieces of it, although not a Christian movie does have some positive values to it. You can read a Christian Review HERE. 
* Nanny McPhee - this is the first movie. I got this one from our library. Really enjoyable.
* Boomerang at the Beach: lots of retro cartoons - Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Poke mon, Flintstones and more.
* Beethoven 1 and 2 (on the way to the beach in the car)
* Shark Week - TV shows
* Wallace and Gromit World of Invention - we got this from Netflix. This is NOT an animated movie, but the characters are mainly the host to a program showcasing great and funky inventions. This is a great addition to your Science curriculum. You can go HERE to watch some of the clips of the episodes. This DVD contains 6 episodes, the DVD is almost 3 hours long. I highly recommend this DVD. We watched it a couple of times as a family.

* Going Places - a short 1948 cartoon about Entrepreneurship.  

* Terrified Terrier - Wishbone Inspired by The Red Badge of Courage.  - this was a VHS we bought from the library. I sometimes buy their old books and videos to help out. Once I am done with them, I donate them. The kids loved the Wishbone movies so I found this YouTube Channel that has a 129 videos all from Wishbone. Lots of movies/ episodes to watch without paying a dime!! Wishbone's episodes mix history, literature and adventure.

* What's in the Bible - Vol. 2 and vol. 3 - continuing on with this great series. The kids are really enjoying these videos. One think I really like is that you can get the digital copy of the video so you can install on your laptop or computer and watch it over and over without needing a DVD player. Read more on this on my learning log of July 2012.
The best Grandpa (my Dad) ever at the beach with us!

* Big Miracle - This movie was inspired by the true story of the 3 whales that were trapped in ice in Alaska. It was interesting to see the spin and the left bias the movie portrait. There were some golden nuggets: they mostly came from the Inuit people in the movie. We like to use family night movies to show the children the truth about movie making: that most of what you see on a movie is not true - it couldn't happen in real life. Many things are added to make movies more dramatic or exciting but it could never be done in real life. Here is an article that exposes one of the dramatic scene that never happened in real life.

Mom's Ecclectic Reading List

* Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham - I liked the format used to write this book. This is juvenile fiction. I proof read it to decide if DD9 could read it too. I think it's more like 13 and over audience.

* "Parenting is Your Highest Calling" and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields
If you are a concerned parent, always worried about the damage you are doing to your kids or what you are NOT doing right, you must read this book. Written from a Christian perspective, you will find freedom and joy to learn that it's all about relationship and not rules. 
Fresh sauteed green beans from my garden! Yumm-O!!
* Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD - very controversial, BUT if you are a fast food junkie, or cookie or packaged food junkie this book will revolutionize your life. I have decided to abstain from wheat and I have lost 4 pounds in just 2 weeks.
The Growing Family Beats the Incredible Shrinking Dollar

* Tony Robbins - he is a very controversial figure but I really like his positive outlook and energy. I actually LOVE his energy. He is like a controlled tornado. Amazing! He has an amazing story too. For all the entrepreneurs out there and the kids and people that don't seem to fit the mold, his story shows that anything is possible. The link will take you to his show on Oprah divided in segments.

* Good and Angry - I am also re-reading this book. Really working on implementing some of the techniques.

* Economics for Everybody - it's a new DVD/ study taught by Dr R.C. Sproul Jr. After watching a few sample videos and the first lesson, this should definitely be in every Homeschool Curriculum. We are planning to purchase this. You check it out and decide.
Dare to take flight!

I hope you found some good links and ideas to add to your homeschooling or life in general. I have to thank all the homeschooling blogging Moms out there that share their insights and inspire my learning logs. Thank you, thank you!!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Garden Update II

I am still working on the Learning Log of August. We did so much that I am still including photos.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in seeing what my garden is looking like.

On the left is the harvest of last week. Our second batch of green beans of our second crop, cherry tomatoes, okra (you forget to pick them just one day then the next day they are gigantic!), my wonderful eggplants and some banana peppers.

Here is what the raised beds look like. Behind this one with the eggplant, brocolli and okra,
I have another one with greens, banana peppers, cherry tomato going everywhere and more eggplants. 
Did I tell you I looooove eggplant???

Here is the raised bed with my 
greens and peppers.

Here is my cherry tomato plant that I started from seed.
It's going everywhere and 
it has crawled onto the ground.

Today I pruned it badly!!
it's all contained now inside a tomato cage.

I am hoping that it will bring more tomatoes before
fall gets here. It's Alabama so it might happen!

Here is today's harvest.

All those green cherry tomatoes 
came from the pruning of the 
wild tomato plant.

I will be making some green salsa of some sort. :)

And to make me even happier,
more eggplants!!!

How has your garden been doing?

I am really happy with my gardening experience.

I want to do it again next spring.

In fact, I am not stopping. I am planting some fall crops like greens, brocolli and lettuces.

Oh, and beets too!!

To your left fresh green beans 
from my garden!!

Just a little olive oil, salt and garlic. Sautee until they turn a darker green, probably 10 minutes and serve.

My kids who thought didn't like green beans have been eating their serving and licking fingers!!

Victory!! :)

What have you been planting??