World Unit : Ancient Rome

From this website.

The kids, after our trip to Europe this summer, they decided we wanted to study Ancient Rome.  Last year they decided to study Ancient Greece, without knowing much about it, and we ended up having a whole lot of fun with that unit. At that same time we learned about the Percy Jackson books, and since then it has been one book after another, reading and listening to them on CD.  They have learned a lot about the Greek gods and goddesses.  They always ask me “who was so and so’s parents and who was the god of this or that.”  They are doing it to quiz me because they know all of their gods and even though we studied them together I don’t remember much anymore.  That was a whole year ago!  They live it every day in their playing, in the books, in the jokes.  It is fun to listen to them.

So even talking about Ancient Rome it made Siena not want to study them.  She felt that Ancient Romans had just copied her most favorite civilization.  So when we went to Chester while in England for a tour with an Ancient Roman Soldier we knew we were going to get a chance at learning something knew in a much more fun way.  Very hands on, seeing it, hearing it from someone with great passion.  The best way to learn, in my opinion.  And as I wrote in that post few weeks ago, our guide convinced Siena to give the Romans a chance.

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And we had a lot of fun the past few weeks.

As many other units in the past, we like the History Pockets books.  To study Ancient Rome I used both the 1-3 grade level and the 4+ grades and we did all the activities and projects from both of these books.

DSC_0002 copyThis game On the Appian Way was fun to play.

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DSC_0020 copyAnd learning about the Emperors.

DSC_0007 copyI’m glad we brought these replicas of coins of the first twelve rulers.   From Julius Caesar (49 BC) to Domitian (96 AD.)

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DSC_0022 copyAnd of course, we talked and remembered everything our Roman Soldier in Chester (England) talked about.

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DSC_0427 copy DSC_0424 copyThe shields.  His clothes.  How the soldier’s training was,  what they did on their days off, how the cities were laid, the amphitheaters, oh so much.DSC_0425 copy DSC_0430 copy DSC_0431 copyWe even made a Roman Soldier helmet, that I’ll share later.

These are the books and videos we used in no specific order.

Websites we used:

From this website.
From this website.

And of course, we sent a postcard.

DSC_0103 copyI feel so lucky we were able to have such a wonderful, hands on, fun Ancient Rome history introduction this summer.  It was a fun unit to start our homeschool year.

this week in my kitchen :: blog hop

Following Heather’s blog hop (from Beauty That Moves) I share here with you what happened in our kitchen this past week.

“A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.”       — Heather

DSC_1013 copy DSC_1015 copyMy best helpers in the kitchen.

DSC_0138 copyThe pumpkin seeds were roasted after the carving was done.

DSC_0078 copyOur menu.  Helpful to see for everyone.

DSC_0023 copy DSC_0026 copyBaked donuts.  I bought a mold last week, after seeing some delicious pictures online, and after missing our annual apple cider donuts at the pumpkin patch.  Now we need to find a good recipe!

DSC_0106 copy DSC_0108 copyFamily over for some delicious meals together (including the dessert, wine and baguette of course!)  A weekly tradition that has been easy (and fun) to get used to.

DSC_0105 copyOh… pomegranates… how I like these.  It always reminds us of the ones we ate (until we got tired of them!) in India.

DSC_0016 copyA pot of herbal tea (mostly nettle) always ready or brewing.  Welcome back.

Go over to Heather’s post to get inspired.  There’s always lots of good stuff!

the salmon run

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As we have done for years, the visit to see the salmon run, is a must.

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But I don’t think we’ve ever gone seen the salmon in shorts and t-shirts.  This year has been warm.  A warm fall.  We were not sure if the salmon had started to come back up yet, when we went, so on our way to Siena’s swim meet in Hood River we stopped to check it out.

DSC_0037 copy DSC_0039 copy DSC_0042 copyAnd yes, we were surprised to see the salmon swimming, and nesting, and some already dead.  The smell gave it away as we got off the car at the parking lot, before heading to the river.  I can’t smell, so I can’t say much about it.  But it is something we have talked about every time we go see the salmon and retell and learn and talk about this natural story of these beautiful creatures.

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An amazing story of the cycle of life.

Whittington Castle, Shropshire in England

DSC_0369 copy DSC_0368 copy DSC_0408 copy DSC_0371 copyOne day our friends took us to see this castle, Whittington Castle, near Oswestry in north Shropshire.

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Whittington Castels is one of a chain of castles in the border with Wales, being the base of defense against them throughout the 1300’s.  Then it became the residence of the Fitz Warin family.

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It is a small and beautiful castle.

DSC_0396 copyWith ducks on the lawn and moat. DSC_0401 copy DSC_0402 copy

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So we went for a walk.

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DSC_0435 copy DSC_0432 copyWe crossed the moat.

DSC_0438 copy DSC_0442 copyWalked through what were walls at some point.  DSC_0457 copy DSC_0448 copyMaybe walked through grounds that the iron age men walked on as well.  In this sign you can see the Iron Age Farmstead in the bottom drawing.  And as this sign says:

People have been living on this site for over 2,000 years. The earliest settlement was in the Iron Age and then the site was built on by following generations until in 1,220, it became a large and impressive moated stone castle.

DSC_0446 copyThe remains that we see today are mostly from around 1,200.  You can see better photos from the drawings and how this place changed throughout the yeas, on this page.

DSC_0436 copy DSC_0463 copy DSC_0465 copy DSC_0467 copy DSC_0439 copy DSC_0474 copySiena really wished she could have gone swimming on the moat.  I know she really wanted to.  DSC_0422 copyWhat a treat.  Walking on land that has been used by men and women for 2,000 years.  I can hardly understand that timeline.  And as our friend Ros told us, this castle was for sale for anybody to buy few years ago.  Really! I wonder if we could have turned it into our homestead.  Fun to think about!


Hood River, Oregon

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Just about an hour East of Portland, Hood River sits right along the Columbia River.  It is a beautiful town.  We have never stayed in Hood River, though we have passed through it, many, many dozens of times in the 20 years we have lived in Portland.

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So when we had this chance to go to Siena’s swim meet in Hood River, we were excited to have a reason to stay for the weekend.

DSC_0189 copyThe view.

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Just a beautiful place.

DSC_0191 copy DSC_0192 copyWe stopped here to get lunch and a rest, as part of the Fruit Loop of the area, and before our next stop.  The pumpkin patch.

DSC_0195 copySome playing. DSC_0197 copyApple cider. 

DSC_0201 copyBeautiful sight.

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A great break and took in all the sunshine we had for that weekend.  Next stop.  The pumpkin patch.

the meet

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Yes, the meat of the meet.  (That has to be a saying or a joke, right?) Anyways.  The Swim Meet we went to a couple of weekends ago was the first one of the season, and a fun one.

DSC_0115 copyIt was in Hood River.

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DSC_0120 copyWe were surprised by the change of plans of these three beautiful people, coming to spend the weekend with us in Hood River to be with Siena at her swimming.

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And when you have a cute cousin like this cheering for you on the side or at the end of the pool… it makes it that much more fun.

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This is how I feel every time Siena swims.  Every time she dives, or she’s part of a relay, or when she finishes a lap or two of butterflies, or when she completes 100m freestyle or she does the IM (Individual Medley), or does all the twisting in the turns… I am always in awe of her passion and her love for swimming and her gracefulness.  She’s so driven, so in love with swimming, so in love with the water.  It permeates into everything she does.

DSC_0145 copyAnd we love it.  And we love her.

DSC_0158 copy(And we love these two little guys to0.)

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And I am so glad we can get to spend this time together, and enjoy ourselves.

DSC_0113 copyThere is lots of waiting.  Lots of time in our hands until we wait for Siena to swim.  So we have knitting, sewing, reading, playing, walking, snacking, watching, talking, drawing, grading, and lots of other pastimes.

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But when it’s time to be ready, we are ready for her.


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DSC_0177 copyThe pool seems so long when I stand at the end, waiting for her dive, and then her turns by where we are standing (whichever turns she needs to do… I am just glad she knows which ones she needs for each race.)  But somehow she makes it seem so simple.

DSC_0167 copyI know she’s ready.  She knows it too.  She loves it.  She really loves swimming.

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DSC_0344 copy DSC_0346 copyWe might seem all business some times, but we are not.  We are loving every minute of the race.  Watching her.

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We love watching her and cheer for her.

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She makes it look that simple.

DSC_0171 copyYes, we are here for you.  Waiting with a big warm hug.  Because we know you did your best.  You know that too.  We are proud of your effort. Every. Single. Time.

DSC_0357 copyHappy first swim meet!

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Chester, Cheshire in England : Part 2

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In our walk around town, I stopped at Bollands tea store.  Hard to decide what to bring.

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But a small bag of Chester Breakfast Tea and Bollands Afternoon Tea made their way to my suitcase.  Something for the morning and I guess something for the afternoon.  Right?  DSC_0047 copyThis is when I really wish  I could smell…. DSC_0045 copyA beautiful little store.


DSC_0054 copy DSC_0050 copy DSC_0055 copy DSC_0059 copy DSC_0060 copy DSC_0058 copyBakeries.

DSC_0063 copyA candy store.  Yup! With a birthday girl with us, we had to go in. DSC_0066 copy DSC_0065 copy DSC_0067 copy DSC_0163 copyAnd some to bring home.  DSC_0162 copy DSC_0156 copy DSC_0157 copy DSC_0155 copy What a beautiful city.  Another must go back place, for some day.

last week…

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… went to Siena’s first swim meet of this year.

DSC_0089 copy DSC_0091 copyAnd we had so much fun.

… Lucas’s baseball games got cancelled because of the rain that seems to have arrived this fall.  We’ll have to wait until the spring to see him playing again. It’s all good because there’s other fall things going on.

… I received my swap package from Allison from Knitting Nautilus.  The summer swap Amanda from Sweet Potato Claire organized.  Thank you Allison I love all the goodies I received!

DSC_0024 copy… it rained. Oh that rain, I love it.  I was waiting for it.  It is mid-October after all!

… I’m thinking we need to turn the furnace on, and let it warm the house when it needs to. It has been a little chilly, but nothing than a sweater and wool socks can’t help with.  I’m wondering if we can make it ’til the end of the month.  We shall see.

… my mom sent me this picture of this weaving she made for their lake house.  I love the colors.  So warm and bright and beautiful.  I love it!

Photo taken by my mom.

… we met with our most favorite three year old and his parents few times.

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… this little guy and my kids spent a lot of time playing outside and raking leaves.  Fall playing for sure.  They are all loving their cousin time together.

… we spent few hours re-packaging food for families in need at the Oregon Food Bank.  I’m hoping we can go there more often.  It is a fun volunteer job for us to do together.

Photo taken by Angela (Thanks!)
Photo taken by Angela (Thanks!)

… I heard lots of geese flying over our house.  They are going south, I am sure.  The weather though much warmer than I ever remember being at this time of the year, it is changing, and they heading to their new home to keep warm.

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… Siena and I have been making new things for the holiday fairs coming up.  We are excited thinking what would be fun to make for this year.

… found this video.  I like it.

… I set out our autumn decorations.  I just wish I would put them all together in one box, come winter, each year.  I’m always scrambling, re-shuffling, figuring out where I’ve placed them, the precious year.

… I found this picture on Pinterest and I think I want one.

From Pinterest.

I usually don’t have five people drinking tea with me, but wouldn’t it be cool to pour with it?  I think it almost looks like something from Harry Potter.

… I grabbed few sunflowers to enjoy in the house.  I imagine they will be the last ones for a while.

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… I felt lucky to have such a beautiful family.  I do feel that way often, but there are times, days that it seems even more special, more so.  Maybe it’s the spending more time together, getting inside more, less running on our own ways that summer brings… I love it too.  Just right now I am feeling very lucky to have these people living with me, feeling lucky to be together.

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this week in my kitchen :: blog hop

Following Heather’s blog hop (from Beauty That Moves) I share here with you what happened in our kitchen this past week.

“A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.”       — Heather

DSC_0022 copyHome made bread.  A great perk of autumn and cooler weather.

DSC_0023 copy DSC_0024 copyOn one day we had some special people coming for dinner, I made this new recipe.  I found it on the weekly advertisement of New Seasons Market (our local store) and decided to go for it.  I usually don’t make fancy, complicated-looking meals.  I guess I’m more straight forward, cook in a pot or pan and let’s gather to eat.  But in their picture it looked just so pretty all that quinoa in the cute pumpkins.  So I decided to make it.  Here’s the recipeDSC_0028 copy DSC_0063 copyJust out of the oven (after 2 hours.)

DSC_0085 copyWe paired it with Potato-Leek soup.  Oh, it was so good.  We all liked it.

DSC_0086 copyEven the super hero at our table tried everything.  Even with his new cape made by his girl-cousin, I think this meal just made him stronger.

DSC_0088 copyA fun and delicious autumn meal with those we love.

DSC_0209 copy DSC_0089 copyPotato-Leek soup.  I love it!

DSC_0094 copyAnd had some pretty popcorn as well.  Look at all those colors…

DSC_0096 copyIt was that good too. I thought.   I mixed it with some kale I roasted in the oven.  It was really good.  But I think if you’ve been visiting here for any amount of time, well, you already knew I love popcorn.

Please do go check Heather’s blog for some meal inspiration.  It has been great gathering all of us there.  So much food goodness.  You should go check it out if you are wanting to see some delicious photos and get inspired for today’s dinner.

the warm up

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Last week we went to Siena’s first swim meet of the year.  It was not far from Portland, but we decided to make it a weekend and a little vacation out of it, and I am glad we did, because it was a lot of fun.

DSC_0082 copyHer warm up is always so early.  I wonder why swimmers gather so early.  I think I’m going to have to get used to this.  I don’t know how though…  DSC_0095 copyBut we were there of course.  Coffee, tea and milk in hand.  Ready.

DSC_0083 copyI moved to the timer’s chairs before the races started, so I could take some close up photos of her swimming during warm ups.  DSC_0090 copy DSC_0094 copy DSC_0099 copy DSC_0105 copy DSC_0106 copy

She was nervous.  I think because we were gone in the summer and I think she felt she hadn’t practiced for as long as she wanted to for it.   But as always, we talked to her, asking about her worries, and making sure she knew we were there for her, to have fun, not for her race or her place in a race or her times.  We are having fun with her, as she’s swimming, as she’s getting ready, and diving off the board, we get excited for her.  We are there for her every minute of it.   To have fun.  No matter what happens.

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We are there to enjoy her improvements, as well as have a shoulder, or a hug for her for the disappointments. We are with her.  We don’t have our own agenda.  I don’t have her times memorized though we  write them down for her.  She likes to see her improvements and she likes to have them as goals.  That is all good, and it’s fun, as long as they are still her own needs.  We are excited for her every single time.  I am happy when she’s happy swimming.  We love being with her.