Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Staycation in Louisville, KY

One of the blogs I follow, Smockity Frocks is hosting a Staycation in all 50 states today. She doesn't have Kentucky, so I decided to write a blog post and see if she'll link to it. It just so happens we are planning a staycation and I had already been doing some research. This list is by no means exhaustive of all the great things to do in Louisville, but these are the things that interest my family.

The Louisville Zoo

Every year my husband's father gives us a family membership for Christmas, but even if it weren't already free for us, it's still a good bargain. Adults are $12.95, Children 3 - 11 are $9.95 and 2 and under are FREE!

They just opened the new Glacier Run exhibit housing a polar bear and a grizzly family, including two of the most playful cubs you'd ever want to see. Calistoga Springs is included in zoo admission and is a fun water park when you need to cool off.

Eighty-five acres of green space right next to the river in downtown Louisville. There are water fountains, playgrounds, and picnic tables too. Unfortunately, there was a lot of flooding this spring, so we may not have as many fun free events this year.

Giant Bat - need I say more? Adults $10, Kids 6 - 12 $5, Kids 5 and younger FREE! Watch bats being made in the factory and tour the museum for fascinating baseball history. This is on "museum row" downtown, right across the street are the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville Science Center, and Frazier History Museum, which are all great, but now we're talking $$ if you do all of them. I would recommend hanging out downtown for the day, and if the Bats are in town, catching a game later that evening.

We've never been to this center, so it's definitely on our list. From the website, they offer widflower gardens, hiking and a bird blind, along with events on occasion.

Another favorite outdoor place is hidden away in Eastern Louisville. Plan your visit to coincide with one of the many weekend events they offer during the summer, most of which are free. A favorite is the weekly Saturday morning farm feedings.

Of course, for our staycation, we have the local pool which is paid for under our condo maintenance fees, and if it rains, we can always have a movie day using Red Box movies for $1 each, or through Netflix for free (under our subscription).

Other fun (free) things include: the library's summer reading program and bi-weekly events to go along with it; the Speed Art Museum; picnics at one of the many parks designed by the famous Frederick Ohlmsted; movie nights at the zoo (free with admission...or membership); the list goes on.

If you live here and have some other ideas, please leave them in the comments for me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Funny Story

Today, there was an aritcle in the paper about local protestors of the Egyptian situation. An accompanying picture showed someone holding a sign that said "END U.S. SUPPORT FOR DICTATORSHIPS".

So I had just picked up that section and Samuel hops over to me and reads the sign out loud. Always on the look-out for a teaching moment, I asked him if he knew what "dictatorship" means.

Very seriously, he tells me that no he doesn't know that word, but that that he knows what dictation is, so his teacher at school must be a dictator! Actually in a way, I guess she is. LOL

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Butter

Samuel is reading Little House in the Big Woods and loving it. In one of the chapters, Laura details the butter churning chore. We made a simplified version:
  1. Fill a clean baby food jar half-way with heavy whipping cream.
  2. Shake, shake, shake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Obviously this step is better as a shared task. The cream goes to a whipped cream stage where you think shaking it isn't doing anything, and then all of a sudden the buttermilk starts to separate and the butter granules form. Just keep shaking.
  3. I then dumped the contents of the jar into a strainer over a glass. Buttermilk was considered a treat for Laura's family and Samuel really liked it, too.
  4. Here was my mistake...I used a spoon to try to get all the liquid out and some of the soft butter also went through the strainer. Next time, I'll be gentler.
  5. You can salt it, but we didn't. We spread it on saltine crackers so that's where our salt came from. Delicious.
  6. It only makes a couple tablespoons, but it was more than we wanted at the moment, so we put it in a small container covered in the fridge.
Honestly, I was a little intimidated by the idea of making butter. In fact, I bought the cream and waited until the best buy date before doing it. But Samuel kept pushing for it...he's such a crafty-minded boy. Too bad he got me for a mother :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Spy Game?

My son has a play date today with a girl from his class. They created a "Spy Club" which seems to consist, in part, of hiding "spy gear" around the house. I'm not sure what this spy gear is though.

Then they sneak (very loudly) around hiding behind the sofa watching me type on the computer until they burst out laughing and run away. This has already happened a handful of times.

I wish I could remember how the seven-year-old mind thinks, because I'm sure this is a great game, but my adult brain just can't seem to figure it out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Afterschooling in the Second Grade

School started on the day after Labor Day. With only three school days, there is approximately 4 hours of homework a week, with the majority of it being done on Mondays and Fridays. That curriculum/work-at-home has little to no flexibility.

So how do I afterschool? I supplement what they are already doing, and add in a few other things that I think might be interesting and fun.

They are reading The Courage of Sarah Noble. We read a different pioneer story with a boy as the main character. It also dealt with the issue of slavery, as the family in question was moving to Kansas Territory before it became a state so that when it did become a state, they could help make it a free state.

Now we are reading A Cricket in Times Square, which is on several "lists".

They are studying cave art as the first unit in art. I have ordered some additional books from the library, but the book on Jackson Pollock came in first. We skimmed it and then Samuel made his own art inspired by Pollock, using crayons instead of paints.

They are not working on multiplying or dividing in math, but we have had a half dozen or so times over the last month where we need to divide by 2 or 3, and I have had him "help" me figure it out.

As Cub Scouts gets in full swing, it seems that there are many opportunities for him to learn something and get rewarded (with a patch, belt loop, or pin) at the same time.

And there are ALWAYS animals. This is his main passion, if an average 7-year old has a passion. Be the Creature with the Kratt brothers is a new series being recorded on our DVR. We also have a binder where he received animal cards in the mail every 2 months, as well as many zoo trips. He knows things about animals I never dreamed existed.

So, even though I don't teach him everything at home, I am still "in charge" of his education. Thank goodness for his wonderful school, with curriculum I would choose if I were homeschooling, and teachers who really care.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Second Grade!

Samuel has finished his first week of second grade. I thought it would all be review. Oh no. They started reading The Courage of Sarah Noble, learned five Latin words, and began the learning the 2,9,11 triplet. In first grade they learned the +/- facts by "fact houses"; this year they'll learn all the fact triplets up through 18, as well as multi-digits with carrying and borrowing. He's loving it all and very proud of himself for being a second grader.

I'm still dedicated to afterschooling to his interests (like animals), providing good literature as bed-time reading, and encouraging creative play during non-school hours.

Samuel's extra-curricular activities this year include Awana and Cub Scouts, and in mid-October he wants to pick up swimming again.

I never wanted an only child and I always wanted to homeschool, but I love my life the way it turned out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Math" Book Recommendation

This book is hilarious! I would link to amazon here so you can see it, but I can't get it to work right now.

The book is called "Math Curse" by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. The narrator is a student whose teacher puts a "math curse" on him/her with this statement, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem." So, of course, the narrator proceeds to have a full day of being driven crazy by thinking of everything as a math problem.

The part that cracked us up so much we had to take a break is from the the page where the narrator is describing how each non-math subject is turned into a math problem:
"English is a word problem: if mail + box = mailbox:
1. Does lipstick - stick + lip?
2. Does tunafish + tunafish + fournafish?"

Fournafish...I'm even chuckling as I type this. There are a few real problems in the first few pages, but more importantly to me, this book shows that math can be fun (or funny...whichever way you want to look at it). We've been struggling with this a little because school sent home a bridge/review math workbook that needs to be turned in to his second grade teacher when school starts.

And on a totally unrelated note, Samuel and I have been team playing Family Feud on Facebook (my account). A few days ago, one of the Fast Money questions was "What do people call the smartest kid in school?" Samuel blurted out "awesome". I love that his school has a culture where the smartest kids are admired and not called names, like nerd, which happened to be the #1 answer.