Thursday, November 8, 2012

When nobody to wants school

We have awakened to a very cold morning for our neck of the woods.  Low 40's for NE FL, plus windows left open over night, and the heater left off leaves us....well....brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Nobody wants to get out of bed.  Nobody wants to head to the school room.  What to do??

Hot oatmeal, with a promise of hot chocolate after school time, was a great starting place for us this morning.

Next, I evaluated what do we really need to do, and what can we learn that isn't in the books?

Here's what we actually did today, and yep, it all counts!

  • We cozied up on the couch while we read about groundwater for Science.
  • The boys each read from their current readers.
  • Thoughtful made a grocery list.
  • I went over special sounds (digraphs) with Spunk.
  • The boys worked on Thank-You-cards since they just had birthdays pass.
  • We played Rummy, Scrabble, USA Bingo, and put together our USA puzzle.
  • We looked up our new weekly memory verse, highlighted it, discussed it, and memorized it.
  • They had a pull-up contest and practiced their Tae-Kwon-Do forms.

When I told the boys that all of this counted as "school" they grinned.



"But it was too fun and easy!"

Sweet!    It's 12:24, and school is finished.  Mission accomplished!  I wonder how much more learning we'll squeeze in for the day?!?!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

In this season...

In this season, I haven't been blogging.  I've been enjoying my family instead of being worried about taking pictures at every turn of our days to add to a scrapbook or blog post. 

In this season, we've had little family time in the evenings, but we are so proud of Hubs for venturing out to learn a new trade as he switches career paths.

In this season, I have had less sleep but more work (at home).

In this season, we've gotten "behind" in our Science and History in our school, but we are enjoying our relaxed days together oh so much more.

In this season, we've reminisced about the boys' younger days, as we've watched them grow another year older.

And in this season, we are counting our blessings.  THIS, right now, happens to be my favorite season.  Autumn is beautiful, even in Florida, where few trees have changing leaves, the weather is simply gorgeous!  I love all things pumpkin and spice, reading on the front porch, chili for supper, breezy afternoons in the hammock with my giggly family, windows open, school at the park, and listing those things for which we are thankful.

Right now, I'm enjoying the tiniest of moments.  I have those bittersweet feelings of watching our children grow, looking back and ahead all at the same time.

My top five "things" to be thankful for are:

1.  Jesus Christ, my Lord, my Savior, my healer, my Redeemer, the Great I Am.  His un-ending love, mercy, and strength flow freely to me.  I am so undeserving, but He has named me an heir to His kingdom.  Oh, how He loves He loves me so......

2.  Hubs.  I've known him for half of my life, which means he has put up with me through so much.  We've watched each other grow, and he's continued to love me through the trials of life.  I pray that I can be the helper he needs to push ahead stronger than ever.

3.  Thoughtful.  He is the sweetest kid!!!  He, of course, has his moments as a human being, but he truly has a kind, tender heart.  I will always see him as my baby.  He wears his heart on his sleeve, and I pray that I can lead him gently, with the patience he deserves.

4.  Spunk.  My silly boy brings such joy to our lives.  He knows how to brighten any one's day, and takes great measures to help when he can.  He's clever and intuitive and has no fear.  I love that he'll try anything once.

5.  My parents.  Their role in my life can't be explained in a quick statement here.  But their marriage is an honorable example of commitment  for 30+ years.  Have they always liked each other?  Most likely not.  Have they always LOVED each other - a resounding ABSOLUTELY!  I am blessed to call them Mom and Dad.

And just like that, I see that my top five "things" aren't things at all, but people (and the Holy Spirit).  They constantly shape me and mould me into who I am and who I will be.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that for everything there is a season...and I'm thankful to have all of these folks throughout the seasons of life.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Poo, I thought my kids' disobedience was something that I could conquer.  No, I'm finally seeing it for what it is.  Sin.  Sure, they're great kids, but they're KIDS.  As in people.  Human beings, creatures with selfish desires, and wants, and they'd rather have fun doing whatever their little hearts desire in the moment, rather than be obedient to their parents.

This has been a season of disobedience.  Me pulling out my hair in frustration, crying out "Why didn't you do what I asked of you?"  or "Why do you think its okay to react that way?"  and my personal favorite, "Do you hear me?"

And The Lord has slowly been nudging me.  Did I see this?  Nope.  But hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  He's been working on me, but I wasn't exactly listening.  Why would I?  That might be construed as me being obedient to my Father.  He's been asking me, "Do you hear me?"

The answer has been a resounding "YES!!  I hear you!"  That sounds great right?  You're wrong because that's not the end.  It's more like "Yes, I hear you, but not right now okay?  I'd rather ignore You.  I don't have time for You.  I have my own plans, Yours will have to wait, Okay?  Now, please bless me, and I'll get back to ya when I can."

Oh my, how selfish I am.  When will I learn to do what He says, when He says it?  Perhaps until I do, I shouldn't expect my children to obey me immediately.  A sweet friend shared something she heard (which I'd love to cite for you, but truly don't know where it originates), and it rings so true to my heart. 

"Delayed obedience is the same as disobedience."

It applies to our children following us, but more importantly, it applies to all of us following Jesus.

I'm always amazed at what God teaches me through my children!!

So, I'm working on me, and I'm being more patient with my children.  This last part is kind of big, as I'm not exactly known for my patience.  I'm thankful for the undying mercy that Jesus continues to give me.  His grace is enough, and therefore, my grace should be enough for my kids.  He renews me daily, giving me more opportunities to hang up my sin.  I should give my children the same.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  What is that area of your life that you know doesn't line up with God's word?  What is He trying to teach you through your children?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Workboxes, updated.

I recently posted about how we use Sue Patrick's Workbox System, but I've since received many questions.  You can read the original post here, which is mostly a "how to" in setting them up. I'm going to attempt to fill in the gaps that I may have left out.  So, this is how we work through our boxes.


Here are our boxes for a day.  They start out like this.  They are numbered 1 through 9 with a taped picture of the child's choice.  Next to each taped picture number, is an identical removable picture number.  These are attached with Velcro.

And work cards start out like this.  Empty blocks, also numbered 1 through 9.  Note the Velcro here too.

The child opens box # 1 to find an assignment. After the box is complete, he puts the assignment in his letter tray on top.

Then he pulls the #1 tag off of box #1 and attaches it to his work card on block #1, signifying he's completed his first assignment.

Now, he'll move on to box #2, and do the same. 

He works through all 9 boxes until they're empty and his full card looks like this.

His completed assignments get piled up in the letter tray on top of his workboxes.  The kids see the quantity as an accomplishment, (and since they didn't see it in a stack at the beginning of the day, it wasn't overwhelming).

One other little tip, we use a lot of Post-It notes for instructions.  Just stick it to the front of a workbook, telling the child which pages to complete.

Questions that have come up:
(1) How do you stagger work between your children?

Thoughtful's work with mom work goes at the beginning of his workbox stack.  Reading (he needs to do this out loud with me still), math lesson, and LLATL, for example, might go in boxes 1, 2, and 3.

Meanwhile, Spunk is working through independent stuff in boxes 1 through 4.  Then by the time he gets to box 5, he'll find his work with mom subjects while Thoughtful gets his independent boxes from 4.

The trick is this staggering, but also remembering not to bog them down too much.  Clumping together all of their least favorite work will leave them feeling discouraged.  So fun items need to be woven in too.

(2) How do you schedule which supplements they get in their boxes?

First, I look to my planner, which I've written notes such as "adjectives" or "multiply X 5," so I know what they're working on in their curricula.  Now, I'll include games, connect the dots, worksheets, or other fun activities in the boxes to help enforce their lessons. 

Sometimes, they'll find an activity that goes with one of our group studies, such as, a piece of a lapbook.

I also know what they're having difficulty with, and I'm able to continue reviewing that material until they've got it.

And there are the "extras."  Spunk has a few Kumon workbooks that we rotate.  Thoughtful gets a mapping workbook some days.  Sometimes, Spunk gets cray-pas with blank paper and a note instructing him to draw a picture which tells about the story he read earlier.  After Thoughtful finishes a book, sometimes he gets a book report outline to complete in one of his boxes.

Active boxes are necessary as well.  "Practice your Tae-Kwon-Do form" or "soccer ball headers" are great ways to burn some energy from their reserves!

(3)  How do you keep a record of what they're doing?

I have a separate notebook dedicated to each child within my planning binder.  I number 1-9, and write a quick note as to what went into the boxes.  Later, I record things like, attitude, difficulty level, etc.  I'm hoping our portfolio evaluator will appreciate this piece of recording since she specifically asked for something more last year.

(4)  Do you fill the boxes everyday?!?!

Yep!  I know, this is the downside of workboxes.  It truly only takes a few minutes, and in the big picture, this mundane job is completely worth it.  My children aren't looking at a stack of books, and asking "How much more school?"  This has caused many tears in the past, and since we incorporated this system into our days, they haven't even asked the question once!! 

<insert my happy dance here>

We do boxes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Wednesday we have co-op in the morning, so they each read and do a page of math before we head out.  That's it. 

(5)  How do you go through their work if they simply stack it up?

After their boxes are empty and their cards are full, we go through each completed assignment together.  I circle any mistakes, and ask them to try it again, looking for them to correct their own work.  If they completely don't understand, then I know I did a poor job of teaching the material or they didn't fully absorb it.  This needs to be addressed before we move on tomorrow.  If they easily know what they did wrong, we discuss distractions and not taking our time.

We're currently beginning a reward system for our days, to include schoolwork, behavior, and other parts of our day.  I'm granting them a credit for each properly completed workbox. 

More on our credit system later, once we've tweaked it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Week 11, October 12, 2012

In my life this week,
Hubs is working on a career change.  This should be a nerve-wracking experience for me, but I'm really just fine following him on this.  Not that its uncharted territory for me, but the ease of following him is sort of new.  It must be right.

Also, Spunk's birthday was last weekend.  We are celebrating with together parties this year, so I was afraid his day wouldn't feel like HIS DAY!!  But I think he felt the love :)
This should've been breakfast in bed, but he awoke before I was finished cooking.  So, breakfast on the couch will have to do.  Please note the orange juice that we only ever buy for special days.

I'm cooking,
I've carefully planned meals, based on our schedule and weather.  Also, I've been snacking on some Texas Caviar this week.  Its designed as a dip, yummy with tortillas or pita chips, but I can eat it alone with a fork!  I also threw it on my salad, and once, ate it with some cold grilled chicken breast for lunch.

Ingredients:  1 medium sweet onion - chopped, 2 avocados - diced, 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained), fresh cilantro - chopped, Italian dressing (OR a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dried oregano), 1 green pepper - chopped. 

Mix all ingredients and enjoy.  Yumm!  You could spice it up with other peppers if you wanted.

Places we're going, and people we're seeing,
We went to lunch one day with Gramom and Pop, so they could deliver the boys their birthday gifts.  Here's Thoughtful.  He's realizing that the Disney World gift card, must be spent AT DISNEY WORLD!!

This is UBER-exciting, ya'll!!
In our homeschool this week:
Dinosaurs:  We're reading through What Really Happened To The Dinosaurs, by Ken Hamm.  The boys are adding to their lapbook-like folders, a little at a time.  This week, our focus was on the fact that dinosaurs were animals, which God created at the same time that He created the other animals on Earth.  I especially loved watching them put together the time frame facts; that is the young age of the Earth, and the fact that dinosaur fossils were only discovered about 150 years ago.  It was like I could actually see the lightbulb come on over Thoughtful's head.  Spunk will get there.  His concept of time is still somewhat confused.  Here's a look at a part of the study from this week.
Earthquakes:  We do Science with a cooperative learning group.  This week's at home time was slightly boring, with lots of vocabulary.  We supplemented with library books, but still, boring.  If not for the IMAX movie that we visited last week, I don't think the boys would've retained much information.  But they did remember a lot about that!
So, I was really counting on co-op to help me out with this lesson, and the Mommas didn't disappoint!  Spunk's class  created an earthquake out of Jell-O and mini-marshmallows which made a tasty treat afterwards.  More on the seismometers that Thoughtful's class created, later.
Extra:  We read about Christopher Columbus, not nearly as much as I would've liked, but enough to get the boys started.  We were happy to read excerpts from his diary.  Apparently, even though Columbus didn't know exactly where he was going, he felt that God was directing his path.  Later, he wrote that he strongly felt that God's plan for him all along was to bring Chrisitianity to the undiscovered lands.
In Art class they finished up their Hanawi sculpting projects.  They're off to dry out and and get fired before coming home.  I can't wait to share these with you!
Thoughtful also learned about South Carolina, how to read through a literature passage to answer questions, Bats, multiplying by 9, and some All About Spelling Level 2.
Spunk also learned about grasshoppers, adding by 8, the suffix -ing, 4 new digraphs, some syllabication, and apparently a mapping coloring book from the Dollar Store is currently a favorite.
I'm praying about/for:  some family members.  I can't elaborate a whole lot without airing their dirty laundry, but I AM praying for them. 
Also, our lead pastor of 13 years is moving on to other endeavors.  Our church is going to be tested a bit through this transitional period.  I pray The Lord might continue to use our pastor in his new church, and I pray that He peacefully holds our home church together.  I pray the body of our church will see that God is with us, and that He will provide!
My favorite moment this week:  I bought the boys a Slip-N-Slide on clearance for $4.50.  We're in Florida, so we'll have plenty of time to use and abuse this baby before we get our few weeks of cold weather.  The new purchase  alone was great, but we placed it at the bottom of the slide and added some cooking oil.  THEY WERE FLYING!
How was your week?  You can share at the Homeschool Mother's Journal or Weekly Wrapup too!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On this struggling day....

Now, I know that you've never had a tough day schooling right? 


Me neither.

I plan my heart out, carefully coordinating which reader goes nicely with our history. 

Then my sweet, literature-hating Thoughtful decides that this book is just too hard!  Forgetting the fact that his last three readers were leveled higher, he gave up. 

tears included, free of charge.

Now, I know that this little story is pulling on your heart strings, and obviously, the Momma should compassionately and patiently help him work through the stumbling block.

I didn't want to.

We were barely into our schooling for the day, which began late by the way.  As I looked at the clock, yet again, and my schedule, again, Thoughtful caught my eye.  He was giving up on himself.

Fine. <deep sigh>

Let's go for a walk.  We have beautiful weather this week, so we might as well soak it up.

In the first few steps of that walk, I realized that my boy was sinking in his frustration.  If I don't tread carefully, he's going to hate reading forever.  Worse than that, I see him disappointed in himself, over reading.  How dumb is that?  Isn't this one of the main reasons that we wanted to home school?  So that we could lovingly encourage our children in their studies, those desired and undesired equally?  yes! 

OK so, walk finished.  All smiles re-entering the house!  Yes, we can get back to it.

Roughly one assignment later, Perfectionist-Spunk's day falls to pieces because he can't draw the perfect grasshopper.

Oh my word!!  Why are my children so dramatic?  Everyone went to bed early last night.  Nobody has had a behavior-triggering food this morning.  What's the deal?  Inside, I'm screaming that I just want to throw in the towel for the day!!!  My fake smile is plastered on my face, while I explain to Spunk, that we can take a picture of his grasshopper, and he can paste it into his notebook.  That is, of course, not the right answer, and tears spring up in his little eyes.

Lunch time.  There are exactly four slices of bread left to fix two sandwiches.  One such piece is the end of the loaf.  Nobody wants it.  In fact, we call it "the butt."  Please don't judge, its a twisted family tradition.  You know you have them too.  Anyway, I make them flip a coin.  Spunk wins, Thoughtful's day is ruined all over again.

After lunch, (we are normally done with assignments before lunch, but on this day, there's plenty left to do), we return to hopefully finish the planned work.

In this moment, I realize there is no saving the day.  I look around, and decide there are still too many books to get to today.

 This stinks!!

I quit.  Not entirely, but no more books.  What can we do to save the day?  Just read-a-louds may, we're past that point.  A HA!  A hands-on activity to the rescue!

So I dug out this 3-D puzzle that I wasn't ever sure we'd really get to, but it fits in with our current dinosaur study.

I buried some of the pieces in a bucket of dirt.

Then the kids had to dig them out with pain brushes and play dough forks.  No hands aloud.  No pulling out the bones until they were completely uncovered. 

They had to work together so they didn't bury each other's found pieces, causing them to start again.

Then they read the instructions to put the whole thing together.

VOILA!  FUN IN A BOX!  And an hour and half killed, smiles return.  School is done.

It almost looks like we had a good day, right?
What did Momma learn today?  Well, I know what I was supposed to learn, but I'm sure to forget tomorrow.  The Type-A thing stinks.  If another Momma was telling me about this day, I'd tell her to CHILL OUT.  Have some peace about your day, and don't sweat the small stuff.  Enjoy your time together. 
But me?  Not so much.  I thoroughly enjoyed our walk and watching my boys work through this activity.  But I certainly didn't rejoice in watching my children struggle today.
What can I do?  I will plan, its in my genes.  I can't help it.  BUT, I can set aside the plans when needed.  It'll be okay.  I know.  I hope that next time, I remember this sooner.
But oh, how far I've come.  I can rejoice in the fact that I showed patience today (even if I didn't feel it).  I did not raise my voice.  I know you're completely shocked that a mother might have yelled at her children out of frustration before, but I'm guilty.  Not this year!
So, thank you, Lord, for holding me together today.  For reminding me of your mercy and patience, that I might reflect your light, and be a better Momma for it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A week off

We are loosley following the "Sabbath Schooling" this year, and I think that if I followed it more closely, I'd love it.

Basically, its school 6 weeks, rest a week, as modeled by God's Creation of work 6, rest 1.  Taking the time to chill out and not think for a while, resetting our brains, feels good.  However, we've been schooling for 10 weeks, and yep, we could've used this break a month ago!!  I will change this when I'm planning next year!

We had some fun together, but I know a planning space when I see one!  I used this week to prepare for the next 6.  My Type-A-self can't help it.  Its a flaw, I know, but I'm a planner.

I cleaned out spaces in our home, making donations around town between friends and organizations.  I deep cleaned those areas that haven't been super-scrubbed since June (you know, on top of the upper cabinets in the kitchen, YUCK!). 

I caught up on work that I was behind on.

I planned dinners for the next month and a half, including loose grocery lists, so those needed ingredients will all be here, and I can just add to them on a weekly basis.  This will be extremely helpful during this busy season of Tae-Kwon-Do belt-test prep and Baseball practices and games.

And I planned some school! 

Ten weeks in, and I had zero papers pulled for the boys' portfolios and zero pictures printed as I would have liked.  So first up, start putting those babies together.  I am cropping with an online digital scrapbook company, Heritage Makers, and I couldn't be happier with it!  I threw together some field trip pages first.  Then, I went through all of those pictures that I take of manipulative-based school stuff.  Spunk's spider tangram, or the like, can't exactly be inserted into a notebook.  Science experiments and any other hands-on object lessons are documented by pictures in our home school.

Then, I looked at what we'd like to cover during the next 6-week block, and I planned away!  Actually, I had already written this out during the summer, before we started school, but we are ahead or behind the original plan, (depending on subject and child), so this needed tweaking.  Lesson-learned, only plan the six weeks at a time.

When this block is up, it'll be the week of Thanksgiving.  We will take off from our traditional curricula from that point to News Years.  We'll still school, but it'll be fun-filled lapbooks and holiday-themed stuff.  We're also looking to try out Life of Fred during our "off" time, and of course, lots of reading!

What kind of schedule do you follow during the year?  What have you found the benefits vs. drawbacks to be?  I'm always looking to improve upon our own.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Old Florida Field Trip

Last week, we visited the Old Florida Historical Museum in St. Augustine, FL.  The day was filled with scheduled, lesson-filled events for home schoolers like ourselves.  Families were blocked together in order to go through four rotations.  These are pages that I created for the boys' school portfolios.

We started with Archaeology, which included a mock-dig. There are several archaeological sites around St. Augustine, and some of the real artifacts found were at the museum. The children were able to touch and inspect each if they chose to do so. They learned the difference between ecofacts and artifacts. Then each child was assigned a box to work in (as would be the case in a field-grid). They were given the proper tools turned loose to dig. Afterwards, they collected their findings and brought them back to the laboratory to be inspected and documented. These reports came home with us for the History Notebooks!

Then, we were sent to see Professor Snickelsnort at the pioneer-children's schoolhouse. Here, the children learned how different school was long ago, (not when I was a kid, as Spunk asked).  For example, in the early settlements, the only book they had to teach from was The Holy Bible, and The Lord's Prayer was recited daily by the children. They practiced the alphabet and spelling skills by using lacing boards. Boys and girls sat on separate sides of the schoolhouse (this was the most astonishing part to my kids), and teachers were usually retired military men.  Field Trip participants each got to write with quills, then go out for some real hard work. They planted beans, pumped water, washed Granny's dress, and ground corn into flour.
This was my favorite station of the day!
Next, we went to the Spanish Settlement area of the park.  Besides the brief history lesson, the kids spent some time inside of a Spanish house, think box.  Basically, its four walls, with a cooking are in the center, and one door.  Everyone lived, cooked, ate, slept, and used the potty in the one space!  We learned some of the games that the kids played, like pick up sticks and ring toss.  We also practiced grinding corn, weaving, drilling, and candle-dipping. 

Last stop, learning about Florida's Native Timuquan Tribe.  This was by far, my boys' favorite area of the day!  They got tattooed and war-painted, then got their hands on some replicated Timuquan tools, including spears, clubs, and arrow-heads.  Then they ran around the re-created outdoor space to play a game, work on hollowing out a log for a canoe, target practice, gardening, and again, grinding the corn. 
If you're ever in the St. Augustine area, I highly recommend touring the Fort Menendez Florida Historical Museum.  If you're local, think about the annual Home Schooler's Day!  We had a blast!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week 10, Sept. 30, 2012

In my life this week:  Last Sunday, we woke up to find that our pig (being raised for meat), delivered five little piggies.  They aren't for keeping!  So, the plan is to hang on to Momma-pig until the babies are weaned, then we'll keep one to raise next.  The boys are going to sell the other four to add to their savings accounts.  (I know how cute this picture appears to you, but the Momma was trapped in the wild, and she's extremely mean.  We are not attached.)

 People we're seeing:  We had a friend and his one-year old brother over on Monday, to include school time.  We did just the most important stuff, and the boys all played hard for the rest of the day. 

Places we're going:  Tuesday, we had a field trip to the Old Florida Historical Museum in St. Augustine, FL, the oldest city in America.

This is Thoughtful's Native Florida Timuquan Warrior Face.

And then, Spunk, as the Pioneer child in the Old Schoolhouse.

Saturday, we had Thoughtful's first baseball game!  He was so cute with the jitters in his new uniform.  I was terribly nervous for him, but he seemed cool as a cucumber.  He's learning the nuances of the game, but he's pretty good.  He was at-bat only once, and he had a great hit straight out over first base.  He made it to first, and the coach mistakenly told him to keep running to second base.  Thoughtful ended up out, but he had brought another kid in for a run.  Thoughtful listened well, doing exactly what he was supposed to.  His team won!

In our Homeschool this week:

In Science:  Last week, we studied caves and caverns.  Part of that study was about stalactites, stalagmites, and columns.  We set up this speleothem on Sunday night, and by Monday morning we had a stalactite. 

By afternoon, a full column appeared.  We've watched it all week long, and it appears a little thicker everyday.    The kids have been measuring the water level, and ooh-ing and aahh-ing all week.

This week, we studied volcanoes, and followed up the lesson with the oldie-but-goodie vinegar and baking soda eruption.

In Spanish:  We played a Pictionary-style game with the list of words that we've recently learned.  The boys against me.  It was fun, and I was surprised to see how much they've remembered.  We had lots of giggles playing this one and made memories.

In Nature Study:  We noticed some leaves falling around our neck of the woods.  The kids each chose a few, and drew them in their journals.  They each wrote an acrostic too!  Here is Spunk's journal.

Thoughtful is learning to/about:  skip counting by 9, verbs, writing a paragraph, and North Carolina.  He's also finished Level One in All About Spelling.  He read a Magic Tree House book about earthquakes.  This is nice since earthquakes are next up in our Science.

Spunk is learning to/about:  adding by 8, six new digraphs, rhyming words, opposites, and nickels.  He read a K12 phonics reader, and a few other books from the library.

My favorite moment this week:  Friday, some Mommas from our co-op came over for "planning." We discussed some plans, ate some super yummy food, had homemade pumpkin spice lattes  (recipe here), and one sweet friend treated us to pedicures!! I was so thankful for the Mom-time, and the love for my feet! 

I'm praying about:  a friend who has much strife in her marriage right now.

What's working for us:  sticking to our routine when possible.

What's not working for us:  too much running around, keeping us away from home.  I also need a better plan for Bible teaching for the kids.  I'd like something more than just our devotional time.

I'm desiring:  Story of The World.  I know that we don't need it, but I desperately want to give it a try.  I do wish that it was in the budget.  I really, really need to get over it!

Coming up next:  We are taking off this week from school.  I'm hoping to each day wisely to catch up, prepare and plan, clean out, and just refresh before starting the next six weeks.  I want to get all of those little things done, that I never seem to have time for.  We also have another field trip!

I'm grateful for:  date night with Hubs!  It's a rare occasion for us that someone keeps our kiddos, especially over night.  We didn't know what to do, and neither of us were hungry.  We went shopping, picked up breadsticks and chicken wings, and came home early to just hang out and be together.

How was your week?  You can link up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers  .

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I didn't know this

Here's another Pinterest find (my super friend found and shared with me)!
I had no idea that a standard wide-mouthed mason jar will fit a standard blender attachment.  But it does!  So now, my smoothies require no blender and cup to wash, just the one jar.  Yay!
Bonus!!  Since we all like different flavors in our family, our milkshake nights will be way easier!! 
Everyone can prepare his/her own, attach the screw-on blade, and blend.
Remove blade, and drink from the jar.  I've tried all sizes of my jars here at home, and they all fit!

Happy Blending!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I saw this thing on Pinterest.....

I believe the phrase of the decade is going to be "I saw this thing on Pinterest...." 
Wow, I wish I'd invented such a simple website!
Crafters, Mommas, Homeschoolers, Teachers, Gifters, Athletes, Bakers, Fashionistas, Brides, Mommas-To-Be, Party-Coordinators and so many more are flocking to the popular website for ideas.
I do know a few holdouts who refuse to join the site, but really, who hasn't heard of Pinterest?
My kids even ask if I can check Pinterest for ideas.
So, I saw this thing on Pinterest, and its turned out to be so practical, I wanted to share it.
Dry erase marker erasers.

Hot glue craft poms onto the ends of the markers, and


You always have an eraser!  

Yes, we have traditional erasers too, but how inconvenient is it to use the corner of the eraser to remove one letter of a paragraph?  ;)
Or, a greasy finger, as is usually the case in our school room?
The silliest little things bother me, I know you're laughing at me.  It's okay, I laugh too.
But we love this remedy, and I hope you do too!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 9, September 21,2012

What did we do this week?  Let's just say it was a much better week than last!  I'll just get started:

In my life this week:

Last weekend, I made a simple, but yummy cake.  Marble cake, chocolate filling, buttercream icing.  What's not to love?

The boys discovered wind resistance with a grocery bag, which led to tying many bags together.  That led to me bribing them with garbage bags, which kept them busy ALL DAY LONG!  These parachutes later became gi-normous water balloons to be thrown from the top of the play set.  Genious, right?

 I've officially started the Couch to 5K program to get my behind running again.  The first two runs were tough, but the third was surprisingly easy.  Here's a link to what I'm using to help me stay injury-free.  Bring on Week 2!

What I'm cooking:  Chicken mostly. 

I made a fabulous whole wheat pizza dough this week.  It goes like this: 

2 teaspoons honey, 1 1/2 cups warm water (107°-110°F), 1 packet of active dry yeast (or 1 Tbs), 1 Tbs olive oil, 2 tsp salt, 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, oregano or other Italian seasonings you like, 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
Pour hot water into large bowl, and mix honey in to melt and dissolve completely.  Sprinkle yeast over top of the water, and let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy (we call it happy).  Add olive oil and salt, gently mixing - you don't want to kill the yeast so no beating.  Begin adding flour, about a cup at a time, gently turning over until most of the flour is mixed in.  Sprinkle hard surface with flour and begin kneading flour into the dough.  Knead for about 10 minutes, add in seasonings and garlic powder by sprinkling a little at a time, constantly folding them into the dough.  Oil a bowl, coat dough ball with a light layer of oil, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise in a warm dark place for about an hour, (I set ours on top of the dryer and let the dryer run for about 20 minutes, but let it sit for the whole hour).  Uncover, dough should've risen to about twice its original size.  Punch down, and knead for a minute, and its ready to use!  Spread out dough, on a cookie sheet, bake at 450°F for 8-10 minutes.  Remove, top with your favorite toppings, sauce and cheese, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is all gooey and melty - Yum!  Pizza is one my kiddos favorite things to make.  This dough refrigerates wells too.

I'm thankful for:  My parents who keep worrying about me.  I don't know what its like to have adult children, but I can't imagine that I'll ever stop worrying over Spunk and Thoughtful.  My parents keep sending me work to do, (family business), when they could do some of it themselves, graciously extending me a way to earn my keep.  I also linked up to a Thankful Thursday this week.

Places we're going, and people we're seeing:
We had lunch with my parents this week, which we haven't been able to do in a few weeks.  Afterwards, they took us next door to a used bookstore, which is going out of business and bought us a handful of readers.  The boys got in the car, and promptly began reading.  YES!!  Another little stepping stone for this family....I just might have readers on my hands afterall!

At home:
We're rearranging our school room.  It seems that we'd like a little more floor space to spread out from time to time, but our table sticking out is preventing that.  I didn't have enough room to just turn the table sideways, so a whole switching around was in order.

In our homeschool this week:
Math:  Pre-algebra.  Well, that's how I see it anyway.  He's solving for the unknown, in Math-U-See, Gamma level.  X5=30.  He picked it up so quickly, missing zero on his worksheets and test!

Spelling:  We have 2 lessons left in Level 1 with All About Spelling.  We don't use this program everyday, so it is taking a while.
Nature Journal:  Squirrels.  This child belongs outside!  He loves the dirt, loves discovering little parasitic creatures inside of a newly found acorn, and he squirrel hunts in our neck of the woods.  Yes, I know.  Please understand that 50 years ago, many, MANY people squirrel hunted for their food.  Anyway, lately, he's just been sitting watching them leap from tree to tree.  Watching them with fascination as they bury acorns away for the upcoming cold season.  So he drew a scene in his journal, then I asked him to label it.  We found a picture online, printed it, and pasted it in his journal.  I asked him to write what he knew about squirrels from watching them.  Then we found library books, and I asked him to write something new that he learned from the books.  I honestly expected a list of facts.  That would be enough productive writing from Thoughtful.  However, he surprised me with sentences, mostly written in his own words.  SENTENCES!  There was no complaining about writing.  There are a lot of mis-spelled words here, but really, I don't care.  He's writing, and he's enjoying it!  He's talking about what else he can add in, and what critters he might like to write about next.

Language Arts:  He wrote the sweetest friendly letter to Gramom and Pop.  I forgot to keep a copy of it, but I'll snatch it away when she gets it in the mail.  He also had a lesson in following directions and created an elaborate paper airplane.  Language Arts is just torture, I tell ya!  And he learned what a verb is.  Tough stuff.

Math:  Adding by 9's.  He's learning by seeing that every 9 wants to be a 10.  So the 9's keep stealing 1 unit from their friends.  9+4 is seen as 9 takes 1 from his friend, the 4.  Now we have 1 ten, and 3 units, or 13.  It just makes perfect sense.  He's calculating very quickly, rather than memorizing and regurgitating facts.

Did I mention that I love Math-U-See?  You can click this link to the curriculum website, to see what all the fuss is about.  I, in no way, am compensated for any kinds of reviews.  We just love it, that's all!

Phonics and Reading:  I haven't looked at my teacher manual in 2 weeks.  I'm just letting him read whatever he wants, and we're going over digraphs daily, adding in 1 to 2 new sounds a day.  Reading is his niche, so we're going at his pace.
Language:  Complete sentences.  He's learning to pick out complete sentences.  He's written a few, but for the most part, his hand tires quickly.  He always wants to push on though.  I'm so proud of his diligence.

Nature Journal:  Spunk loves frogs and toads.  He drew a bull frog in his journal one day, with a full pond scene.  Then, we found library books.  He found the life cycle of a frog (which we've observed in the past, and I'm sure we'll have to do it again soon), and drew it in his journal.  He also drew pictures of predators and prey of the bull frog.  And look at his facts, "Some frogs are big.  Some frogs are small."  Cute!

Money:  I bought a Counting Coins workbook from Kumon. 
Right now, he's counting pennies.

In Science:  We learned about caves, with emphasis on caverns.  The kids learned all about stalactites, stalagmites, and columns.  I got to teach the 3rd and 4th grade class at Co-op.  We reviewed what was covered at home, watched a very quick animated cave formation video.  And last, we made cave models. 

Materials:  a piece of clear, flat glass (I bought picture frames from the local dollar store and removed the backs), sugar cubes, spray bottle, food coloring, toothpicks, and modeling clay.

The kids each used 5-7 sugar cubes to build an area of limerock, pressed up against the glass so they can view the formation.  The cubes must touch each other, and the glass.  They each flattened a piece of modeling clay (a rolling pin helps), and covered their cubes with the clay.  Next, they poked holes in the clay to create fissures in the harder "rock."  Last, I added food coloring to the water bottle, and the kids sprayed the tops of their models, watching the rain water seep through the fissures, dissolving the sugar cubes, limerock,  and leaving a cavern.

Then they completed notebook pages showing the steps taken to create their models, and answered questions as to what happened and what each material represented.  I think it was a success.

At P.E., they learned about fencing.  They used foam swords, dipped in red paint, and fenced for 1 minute sessions.  Most of the kids loved it!  It was an active, educational exercise, and both of mine had a ball!  They asked to continue fencing when P.E. was over.

In art class, we didn't get to bring anything home.  Students began working with clay this week, learning about Haniwa, or Ancient Japanese, horse-shaped tomb markers, and building their own horses.  They'll continue this project during next week's class.  This is an image found online, that they're using as their inspiration.

I final thought, quote, or photo:

School at the park!

We met some friends at the park, encouraging all of the children along in their work, so they could play with their friends.  These are my favorite days!

This week, I'm linking up with Homeschool Mother's Journal and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  Clink the links to see others' weeks.