Harvest Update- July

Total produce grown in July:

!!! 286.52 lbs !!!

that brings the total to 388.8 lbs for the year!

including bean, peppers, cantaloupes,

herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, corn

And tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes. Of that 286 lb total....199 lbs of it was tomatoes!

What exactly does one do with nearly 200 lbs of tomatoes in 1 month? I have a freezer FULL of tomato sauce, we canned whole and crushed tomatoes. We ate A LOT of them raw. We made ketchup, sold some, made lots of salsa and ate lots of bruschetta. I made chili and vegetable soups.

I am very proud of that number. I have never kept track before, so I have no clue how it compares to our normal produce amount, but nearly 400 lbs of food grown by me and my family; from plants started from seed by me, I am happy.

The tomatoes are starting to taper off, as are the cucumbers. The sweet potatoes are huge and bushy and growing everywhere, but it will be awhile before I can dig them up to see what is actually under the earth. The butternut squashes are hanging in and the beans are still producing. We have a dozen or so more melons we'll see what August brings.



Today is my 29th birthday.

My age has spurred a few comments lately- last year of my 20s, almost 30. Apparently I am one of very few who don't fear the age of 30, or getting older in general.

And my birthday is the first of 4. My oldest 3 boys all have birthdays in the next 2 weeks, so let the party begin!


Art unit- Lesson 6

Lesson 6: Empty Space

This lesson stemmed mostly out of my want for them to fill an entire page not just something in the dead center and call it done. That and after a few years of trying to get them to see that there in not nothingness between the ground and the sky, they do actually come together:)

Cohen's landscape

First up was story telling. I told them a familiar story in a very condensed version. No details, no frills, just summary. Then I told it to them in it's full version. We talked about which one was more interesting. Then we moved on to looking at various works of art....and talked about what the picture would look like if the background was taken away and just the central image left. Even if the background was just a solid color- they still agreed it added to the work.

Then we moved onto landscapes- which were the last of the pieces we observed. I had them look out the window and tell me their observations. Then we moved on to their pieces. I asked them to draw in pencil a simple landscape- grass, trees/mountains, sky. But where one ended the other had to begin. I helped Cohen draw his in and then they traced in black marker before painting in the rest. Cohen (above) chose trees, which he added after the background was painted in. And Rylan chose to do mountains. Cale was having a temper tantrum at the time and didn't participate :)

Rylan's landscape

Today we just worked on original pieces, with the only requirement being that the entire page get covered. Rylan chose another landscape:

And Cale chose- can't really see anything....but you should have heard the story that he was telling as he painted. Somewhere in this painting there is a queen, lots of ants, enough chairs for all the ants, and a whole lot of other details that I didn't catch.

In order to help Cohen and Lakin stay focused a little longer (neither filled their pages), and because I wanted to....I sat down to paint to day too, it's very relaxing...

click here to see all the lessons


Art unit- Lesson 5

Lesson 5: Patterns

Today we started by talking about what a patterns is and some examples of them from around the room and in nature. We made up patterns of shape, color, letters, number, words, etc.

Then we moved on to observation. The prints I chose were of some of Kandinsky's works and MC Escher's works, especially his tessellations. We discussed the patterns in each piece, whether it was a color patterns, shape pattern, etc.

And on to our first exercise. Here is Lakin's, he was very proud.
But on to the lesson. I gave them each a piece of 1-in graph paper (printed for free from somewhere online). Then we traced their hand with a black sharpie onto the paper. Then we did a quick detour to discuss warm and cool colors and I had them choose 2 of each (Cale chose 3) and decide if they wanted the majority of the paper cool-colored or warm-colored. Then they began. Inside the hand print they did an alternating pattern with one set of colors and outside the hand they did a pattern with the other set of colors. I really like these.

Here's Cale's
And Cohen's
And Rylan's

Our next exercise was to draw their own patterns. I sectioned each of their papers in their sketch books into 8 triangles using masking tape and using a black crayon they made a different pattern in each section- stripes, dots, zigzags, spirals, etc. Some where more thorough than others :)

Once they were done with the crayon patterns, I brought out the watercolors to fill in all the white space around the drawings.

Once they were dry we peeled the tape off....





That's it for lesson 5! Up next, Empty Space.


Directed Art

While looking for examples to print out for the observation portion of our Art Unit I stumbled across a wonderful art blog: Deep Space Sparkle: Art Lessons for Kids. I really loved a lot of the ideas and lessons she has shared. It also made me realize that we have been seriously lacking in this subject here at our house. When Rylan and Cale were small we did a lot of arts and crafts. They've gotten less and less over the years, mostly because my tastes have changed and I like freedom of expression. But I really enjoyed art class when I was in school, and while the subject and method was predetermined each person can put some of themselves into what they create and each piece turns out differently.

So since our art unit is more fundamental, and I am hoping for them to learn certain techniques and mechanics, I would also like to add more directed art to our lives. So this morning we painted penguins. It was nice that it started with the basic shapes- an large oval for the body and small for the head- since we covered that back in lesson 2. And then adding the lines to form the rest of the penguin. Filling in the background- which will be part of Lesson 6 on empty space next week- and finally completing the penguin.




Art unit- Lesson 4

Lesson 4: Depth and Dimension

First we discussed the meaning of depth and practiced drawing 3-d figures. They spent quite a while on this. I've never showed them how to draw these before, and Rylan was especially interested when I showed him how to give his houses dimension by adding the sides.

Then we moved on to observation. MC Escher was my artist of choice to show dimension. And they really enjoyed looking at the prints I chose. And seeing how they show depth by using graduating sizes and 3-d shapes. I didn't show them the snake picture below just yet, but saved it for our next exercise.

Next up was a simple exercise to prepare them for their art work of the day. I simply laid out a length of yarn on the table and asked each of them in turn how to make it show depth. Cale held it up vertically- but saw that when I drew it that way it still looked 1-dimensional. Rylan formed it into a circle....and saw the same thing. Cohen, however, hit it right on. He crumbled it up and winded around itself. Which brought us to our discussion on over and under.

I then drew a snake on our board. And asked how to change the drawing to show depth. Then we looked at the MC Escher print with the snakes. We discussed how to start and stop lines to show that certain parts of the picture were over and under each other. Then they got to work....

Rylan took off, and ended with a very long snake...

Cale's snake

Part 2 of this lesson consisted of linear perspective. First we went outside and stood in our side yard facing the back, I had them pick an object and cover it completely in their line of sight. Then they walked toward their object. Cale chose the sunflower house...from the front yard his hand was bigger, but once it reached it the sunflower house was a great deal taller than him. Rylan chose his dad- who was walking toward us at the moment- from the front Rylan could cover his dad completely with his thumb.

Then we went in and looked at a very simple print that showed perspective. A desert road. Then they worked on their own artwork using linear perspective....

Here is Rylan's road, with the trees gradually getting smaller as they get further and further away.


Open For Business

What to do when you have eggs overflowing the refrigerator and tomatoes overflowing the counters?
Sell them of course.

This is what the boys did yesterday afternoon while I mowed the front yard. The set up a stand at the end of the driveway, made their signs and filled up the table. Rylan rode his bike up to the end of the road and taped a sign on stop sign.

You have to admire their dedication. They ended up out there for over 3 hours. Getting more and more excited with each sale. Thank goodness for good neighbors!

The highlight of the day had to be the man who drove up in a very cool car- to Rylan's standards- old, lime green, huge wheels and shiny rims.

"What are you guys selling today?"

"Eggs and tomatoes"

"Well I don't want any eggs or tomatoes, but you guys look like you are working really hard, so here"

and he hands them a bill, they say thank you and he drives off. I was down at the house, that was our deal- if they wanted to do it they had to do all the talking and change giving, and they could keep the money. Cale comes skipping up the driveway to tell me. I assumed he gave them a dollar....but no....he gave them $5! You've never seen more excited kids.

Grand total for their sale- $21.50. Which was much more than I would have thought, Rylan divided up the money between the 4 of them, giving me the remainder. They have big spending plans today.


Art unit- Lesson 3

Lesson 3: COLORS

First was experimentation with colors. I had 3 stations: the colored water in primary colors, a tray with tempera paint cakes in the primary colors and a tray with tempera paint cakes in the secondary color. The goal in the first 2 was to mix orange, green and purple. The last tray was to make yellow, red, and blue. Rylan immediately looked at me like I had 3 heads and said I can't make those colors! But he gave it a try anyway. And when he reached a color that was yellowish we had a nice discussion about why orange and green would produce something with yellow undertones.

Next we made a color 'family tree' with the paints to show the different colors made by combing primary and secondary colors. We looked at original artwork and completed their own artwork using the 3 topics we've covered already.

Lesson 1
Lesson 2


Art unit- Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Shapes

We began with exploration of shapes- angles, sides, corners, types of lines within, etc. We drew shapes and drew pictures using only shapes. We looked at various art pieces that primarily used shapes either in a completely abstract format or to create something real.

Final exercise was a still life. Starting with the basic shape of the items in front of them- an apple and a vase with a flower in it.

Rylan's work in progress

Then moving on to shading and adding more to the basic shape until it more closely resembled the real object.

Cale's apple

Rylan's finished work

Rylan began to get frustrated with his flower....I rather liked it. When he was done I showed him a copy of Van Gogh's sunflowers and pointed out some of the similarities. I know he suffers from the same problem I have- not being able to get the picture in your head out on paper and it can be frustrating. But I think it helps him a lot to see artists' interpretations of real items, seeing that a drawing shouldn't look like a photograph.


From this
To this

To this

in no time flat. And it is oh-so-good!

One of the main reasons I planted so many tomato plants this year was so I could store salsa, sauce and tomatoes for the off-season. We are picking over 5lbs a day right now- tonight we got over 7 lbs. Just tomatoes. I canned about 4 quarts of crushed tomatoes a few days ago, but the problem is it is so time consuming- and messy- to blanch and peel and seed and core all of them. Which is why this sauce is so good. It's not canned, but can be frozen.

You can find the recipe at Collecting the Moments....thanks Val! Or the original at Delicious Wisdom. I added onion into mine- just 2 very small ones.

Best of it is the tomatoes, onions, and herbs all came from the garden. Only the garlic (and oil/vinegar came from outside our home)


Art unit- Lesson 1

I have planned a different unit for each of our 4 week-blocks for this year. First up is Art. My kids like to draw/create etc, but since I wanted to add a little bit more art/drawing in general into our units- especially science, I want them to be able to make a good attempt at drawing what they see. Rylan especially has a tendency to say he can't and not even try. So we are starting simple and building up. Today and yesterday we worked on lesson 1 which was lines.

First were exercises in parallel lines
Then exercises in angles

Then exercises in diagonal lines

Then observation of the works of others
And finally on to original artwork, with the focus being on using lines

Rylan chose to go the abstract route


And Cale's