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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Of Pioneers and Early Summer Days

Well, hello there! We are enjoying our summer break around here thank you very much :) My husband hasn't been able to take much time off, so we were long overdue for a little trip. We normally love to take a road trip to Colorado, but this time we decided to head for Branson, MO. If you ever need to capture American Kitchy-ness at its finest this is the place to go. We wanted to go somewhere the kids would really enjoy. I'm thankful we got to go before all the tourists arrive. It was a beautiful week and so nice to spend time alone as a family.

One of the things I really wanted to do was visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, MO. It is about an hour drive from Branson, so I asked my husband if he wouldn't mind driving Miss Daisy a little way into the country.

We haven't yet read all the Little House books, but my boys really loved Little House in the Big Woods and especially Farmer Boy. It was fun to see where Laura and Almanzo made their final home.

I had read a few biographies of Laura Ingalls Wilder before going which made it especially fun to see all the details of her life in person.

I was so impressed by the simplicity of this home, but also with each detail that made it their very own. She insisted that everything be made from materials from the land. There was a point that Almanzo declared that he would no longer haul rock. He showed up at the house with bricks for the fireplace, and Laura cried when she saw them. She insisted that he build the fireplace out of rock. She got her way apparently. There is a great stone fireplace with very, very heavy rock. That man must have loved his woman!

I was really sad that I wasn't able to take pictures of the inside of the house. I purchased some postcards for memories. This is her little bedroom and a peak into the bathroom. This house started off small. Almanzo added on to it as funds became available.

One of my favorite things in the home was the Wilder's library nook. I would love to have something like this in my living room.

 Another really special piece they have on display is Pa's actual fiddle. He told her before he died that it would belong to her. True to his word it was sent to her at his death. They play it once a year.

I don't know if it's morbid or not, but we visited the cemetery to see their final resting place.

Her daughter Rose is laid to rest right next to them. One of the things that was so interesting to learn is that Rose had a huge part of making Laura's books possible. They were very close and worked side by side. Laura was very inspired by her daughter Rose's writing career. She didn't publish her first book until she was 65! That was very inspiring to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm pouring all my creative energies into this whole homeschool venture. I would love to produce something worthwhile after these kids fly off into the great wide yonder.

One of my kids' favorite part about Little House books is all the food. My boys insisted that they had snacks during read aloud time when were were reading Farmer Boy. I'm a lover of cooking and great cookbooks. This is the cookbook that was made from Laura's personal recipes. There are a lot great of old-timey recipes in here.

As soon as I got home I just had to make Laura's Gingerbread which is her favorite recipe (of course.) She made it on special occasions.

I thought this was a pretty decadent cake for the time. There isn't any dairy in it, but there is a lot of spice. There is a teaspoon each of all these spices and a whole cup of molasses! 

This cake smells amazing when it's baking in the oven. Delish!

This is the recipe that is in the book except the book says 1 c. of molasses. Next time I make it I will probably dust it with a bit of powdered sugar for good measure. The order of mixing this cake is all backwards compared to most cakes today. You normally cream the eggs with the sugar. In this cake you add the eggs in at the end. I may try it the other way around next time to see if it actually makes a difference.

This was another recipe I'll have to try. Basically fried dough and sugar - I really need to stop!

Laura's original manuscript was called Pioneer Girl. Rose tried to get it published, but it was rejected multiple times. I didn't know this book was out. It is the original Pioneer Girl manuscript but is an extensive commentary of the history that ran along side what she wrote. It is  BIG beautiful book. I didn't buy it there and was bummed to find it was out of stock at Amazon. I found it on B&N and it's on its way! This will be on my summer reading list.

I normally do something light for school over the summer. We definitely brush up on math, but this year we are going to do one Prairie Primer unit for Little House on the Prairie. I'm SO excited. I found this at a used curriculum sale for dirt cheap. I had never looked at it because I thought it might be too girly, but there is a ton that appeals to boys as well. Of course the food is always fun, but I have some fun field trips planned. We are going to go to a real Osage Indian Pow Wow, the Pony Express Museum and who knows what else I have up my sleeve. I wish I had found Prairie Primer sooner. I think I may have been compelled to use it a few years ago. Ah well.

While on vacation we went to Silver Dollar City. It's so rare for us to have a family picture because I'm always the one behind the camera. Some nice stranger offered to take our picture there. I love Silver Dollar City. It's an amusement park, but has tons of trees. There is a great cave tour that we have done before. We were going to do it this time but the waterfall room was flooded. We got season passes and will head down again this summer I'm sure.


 Nate and Silas sat out on a lot of the rides. Guess what that means? That means I am Aedan's amazing mom who will ride anything, yes anything - even Outlaw Run.

 We wrote all the big rides, but this was our favorite.

Aedan and I rode it multiple times. This is what his hair looked like after riding this crazy ride and us getting in line right after the first time we rode it. So fun!

Another thing we did that we have never done is go to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. It's a Civil War dinner show. We were on the north side and won (as the north should!) They serve you dinner with no utensils which means you eat a whole chicken with your fingers. My boys thought that was the best part.

Even though Silas chose to skip the big rides this year he did, however, go ziplining. I don't know what the difference between going upside down on a roller coaster or jumping to your death from tall trees is, but apparently this was OK to him. He rode all the big rides back when he was little, but part of his frontal lobe must be developing. Apparently there's no hope for mine. This was really fun. I especially loved the beautiful land this site was on.

This is a sweet friend's cabin. It is set up in the hills and was such a treat to stay in.

It felt like we were up in a tree house. We were so thankful to stay here. God is good :) Thanks for sharing some of our memories with us!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Heart of Dakota - HOD RtR - Week 35 in Review

We have come to the end of our studies in HOD Resurrection to Reformation. Boo hoo! What a great year! In our final Unit 35 we studied the Puritans, The Salem Witch Trials, The Amish, Jakob Amman, Peter the Great and Isaac Watts. I will write a separate post with my end of the year musings for both boys soon :)

In science we learned about various inventors who experimented with flight. Our science activity was to create a glider that demonstrated lift and ways to modify it to make it more successful. This week's activity used verbal brain power that no one in my family apparently has. We (at least 3 of us) read the instructions for this glider several times. Fortunately one of the sweet HOD moms on the FB groups built it for me to see. Yay! I'm so thankful for all those wise and helpful moms! Silas also wanted to build one.

We may have made our fuselage too long, but these did fly. We changed how much clay we added to the front end of the airplane.

We laughed a lot at these wonky planes!

 
Then this happened...

...which ended with this. We laughed and laughed and (laughed.) Fortunately a paper airplane doesn't hurt much even if it hits you in the head. Next year we get to build a real glider in science! I will stand clear of Aedan's launch path for that! Wood won't be as friendly! I'm so excited for Aedan to be able to work on those building labs in Exploration Education next year!

Aedan added his timeline entries: The Salem Witch Trials, Peter I of Russia and Isaac Watts - Hymn Writer. He also researched the Amish.

Our history activity was to make either Amish sugar cookies or Russian tea cakes. The boys loved these Amish cookies. I decided against the second batch of cookies. We have cooked a LOT lately and it is almost shorts season! We made Russian tea cakes with MFW ECC when we studied Russia, so I don't feel so bad.

This is Aedan's final narration of the year which was about Isaac Watts who was a famous hymn writer.

History Notebooking page of the week.

Aedan completed his reading of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

He mapped the expansion of Russia.

This is Emily Dickinson according to Aedan. I love this kid :)

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.

- Emily Dickinson

The End.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

FIAR - Miss Rumphius

And so we come to the very end of our 3rd grade year... I'm trying not to be too sentimental. This week we did the last Life of Fred Elementary book, the last MFW ECC assignment, the last everything. I wanted to wrap up our year with our last Five in a Row book. We still have a few FIAR books that we haven't rowed. I'm sure I'll pull them out and do them casually, but next year we are on to other things. I hope to have grandkids someday that I can experience these books with, but that's a long ways off. There is something about the end of 3rd grade. It seems like everything gets a little harder, the expectations higher, and the work maybe even a tad longer for next year. I've watched my little guy grow up so much this year. Overall, we had a really wonderful year. I plan to write a summary of our year in another post. I am sad to end the year, but I am also looking forward to the lazy days of summer.

Since we condensed our Antarctica study I decided to row Miss Rumphius. This book is a perfect way to end a year of traveling the world. Miss Rumphius is a woman who spends time with her grandfather who is an artist when she is a child. He tells her of places that are far away, and so she decides that she will travel the world too. We see her take trips to the Caribbean, the Middle East (or maybe Northern Africa), to the tops of tall mountains, and Australia. Because we had visited all those places in our studies this year it was especially fun to see her see those places too.

Her grandfather tells her that someday she needed to find the thing that she could do to make her world a more beautiful place. After an accident that left her back injured that left her bedridden she noticed lupines growing outside her window. After she recovers she discovers them far away from her garden windowsill. This was fun because Silas knew after our study in botany that the wind or birds must have carried those seeds all that way, just as Miss Rumphius says.

The little guy on the right is in Kindergarten. His sweet mom is one of my very best friends. She did FIAR with him all year, and they had so much fun! She told him that we were doing the same book they were doing this week, and he said, "They aaaare?" He was so happy that FIAR wasn't just for little kids. One of the best things about homeschool is that kids don't age discriminate like you see in school. Aedan is known to be a pied piper of little boys at every park. They all just love him, and he is never too cool to hang with little kids. My friend's little guy told her that Aedan was his best friend. That melted my heart. He's such a precious little muffin. Silas's best friend is sitting next to him. Next year Silas and his friend will be doing HOD Preparing together :) I'm so thankful for sweet friends to share our journey with.

She decided the way to make her world a more beautiful place was to plant lupines everywhere.

She tosses them along the path, behind the church and near the school until the whole town is full of them.

We went to one of our favorite nature spots with friends.

They walked along the paths...

...making their world a more beautiful place too :) It will totally make my heart smile if we go back someday and find lupines growing along the path.

If you've followed my blog you know we have loved to experience the foods from all over the world. Since Miss Rumphius visits the Caribbean and Africa I thought I'd mix those two. I had bought tapioca back when we studied Africa, but I forgot to make it. I made this Vegan Coconut Tapioca Pudding and topped it with kiwi, mangoes, blackberries and coconut that I had toasted. Pretty good if you ask me. My mom told me when I was a kid that I always would say "I don't wike Coc-ee-nut." I guess a girl can change her ways :) We enjoyed this after our nature walk with our friends.

My friend brought coconut water for us to try.

She also brought plantain chips :)

When I visited the store it was full of all kinds of strange fruits. I wish I could have gotten them all! I got a coconut, a passion fruit, a few mangoes, kiwis and a kiwano melon.

This is what it all looked like cut open minus the passion fruit that just was plain not right!

None of us had tried star fruit before. It is said to have originated in Sri Lanka.

I have to include this blurry pic because Silas's face is classic! Not his favorite. I think it might have needed to ripen just a tad more.


Kiwis originate in New Zeland. We learned this on our travels Down Under! Silas actually loved the kiwi. I buy them all the time, but he always refused to try them. There is something about all this together that made it fun, and he learned he liked something new. Praises!

 This is what the kiwano melon looks like inside. They are native to Africa, but they are grown in other places now too. Here is a visual guide on how to eat a kiwano melon. They are in the cucumber family. You gotta love God's creation :)

This is how my boys felt about trying kiwano melon. They both tried it and had more than one bite. Aedan said it tastes like boogers that don't taste bad. Appetizing right?!

I also bought a coconut!

The boys look apprehensive here because I have bought coconuts before that the water was super bad! This one turned out to be pretty good. I had planned to go to the downtown library, but we just didn't make it. I think my fun steam has run out. I do plan to make jerk chicken, black beans and another pavlova when friends come over this week just to finish our week out. This was a great end to a fun filled year. Thank you so much for walking along side of us <3